April 2014 - Celebrity Infinity to Transatlantic
Prior to this cruise I'd travelled from Southampton to Brooklyn, New York on the Queen Mary 2 which I found to be oustanding in every aspect. I'd read about Celebrity's excellent reputation and as the QM2 wasn't sailing on the dates I needed to travel, I thought I'd go with what I'd been led to believe was a very comparible ship. We'd been advised that all guests should be on board no later than 2:45pm on the day of sailing. I can't recall our exact departure time but I'm pretty sure it was meant to be no later than 3:30pm. We dropped our bags off around 1:15pm and were told we couldn't go into the terminal before 2pm and were left to either endure a bus ride around Miami or wait around the area which had very minimal facilities, in heat of around 95 degrees. Eventually we were let into the terminal and went through security as usual and then around half the ship's guests were told to line up without explanation. Some guests were told that priority boarding had been abandoned, others were not. Meanwhile, this mysterious line of people grew longer and longer, as did the wait, again, without being told the reason. We could see the other half of the ship's passengers boarding as normal and couldn't figure out why we were being held in line. After what felt like an eternity we were offered a free bottle of water, but by this point there were quite a few elderly passengers in need of seating, but no seats were available. The discord was growing amongst the people in the line and a few were eventually told that we were being held because the ship wasn't in a ready state for boarding due to many guests becoming ill with Norovirus on the previous cruise. We eventually boarded at 4:15pm and were then asked to convene in the public lounges as only a few decks worth of cabins had been thoroughly cleaned at that time...........If we'd all been informed before hand, I'm sure we could have properly delayed our boarding or found some way of keeping cool whilst we waited! We were cleared into our room on deck 9 around 5:20pm but there were still passengers waiting for the decks above. Finally, into my cabin and a chance to find some cool air via the air conditioning.......or so I thought. Despite telling the concierge 3 times on the first evening that the A/C wasn't working, nobody attended to remedy the problem. We eventually set sail around 7:30pm. The following day I again called in the fault regarding the A/C and this time somebody came to reset the equipment but all it did was blow warm air..........Another call and again, an equipment reset but again it just blew cool air. I could not make the people understand that the A/C wasn't working properly. Two days in 90+ degrees is no joke. Thankfully I had my own fan and a balcony otherwise it would have been unbearable! We eventually sailed into cooler weather around New York so I gave up calling in the A/C fault. The choice of food in the buffet was good but after a week I would have liked to have seen a wholesale change, seeing pretty much the same thing, night after night got really old towards the end. If you're a casual diner like me, you really have to be creative in your choices. I have to say, the staff throughout the ship were excellent, even if there was a minor language barrier at times. Trace, who worked in the bar at the rear of the ship was the stand-out employee; Ultra friendly and always extremely welcoming, he'd be an assett to any company!! Halifax, Nova Scotia was a beautiful city to explore and was a noteable plus point of the cruise. The Canadian's are so friendly and it honestly made me consider Halifax as a possible place to retire to. Cobh (Cork) in Ireland felt rather wasted. Cobh is such a tiny place and although Cork is only around 10 miles away, it felt like a wasted day. The only reason I could see for calling was the link with the Titanic. It would have been much better to sail to one of the French ports around the French/Normandy coastline. Since this is an anniversary year of some important WWII battles, it would have been much more symbolic to have been able to explore the famous battlegrounds and French cities and for us to be able to pay our respects to the fallen of all sides..........A tremendous opportunity, very sadly missed! Deboarding at the end of the cruise was a breeze, apart from being asked to convene on deck 4 with all luggage and then being told at the very last second we needed to be on deck 3.......100+ people with arms full of luggage and 4 elevators makes for some tense moments when everybody is trying to catch trains etc. I'd happily give 5 stars for the friendliness of the staff but 1 star for extremely poor communication prior to boarding, whilst boarding and remedying problems......Coupled with the same choice of food day after day.....A rather poor 2 stars overall and huge doubt about whether I'd use Celebrity again. Honestly, I'd take the QM2 any day over Celebrity, based upon my personal experience.