If you’d told me that one morning I’d be strolling around the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship, I’d have wondered which happy hour time zone you were already playing in. As it turns out I had the chance to tour the Infinity while it was in port in San Diego. I spent a morning shattering my preconceptions and discovering the world of luxury cruising.
While tales endure about over-indulging at endless buffets, smoky casinos, tacky floor shows and loud pool parties, the Celebrity Infinity veers to the other end of the spectrum, matching its sleek lines with a rarefied and quiet grace. I discovered luxurious touches at every turn. In 2011 the public areas and staterooms were upgraded to ‘Solstice’ Class in a 9 million dollar remodel that went far beyond new carpets and paint. Walls moved, new restaurants were installed and private amenities were added along with square footage in ‘Suite Class.’ Whatever class, I noticed that the new espresso cafes and gelato counters had a steady following well before leaving port (Café al Bacio & Gelateria.)
The ‘Penthouse’ suites are larger than many homes, with full living rooms, large wrap-around verandas with hot tubs and butlers with their own entry and private kitchen. Adjoining staterooms could make a family cruise truly feel palatial. To keep privacy assured, there is an exclusive restaurant, VIP Lounge, concierge service as well as unlimited WiFi and premium drinks.
Another recent upgrade has been the addition of twenty-six staterooms that are handicapped accessible with widened doorways, lowered counter tops and special bathroom features. Outer suites have verandas where I could just imagine taking in the ocean breeze, draped in a plush bathrobe with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
Every cruise includes shows and the Infinity Theater features 3 full productions as well as other entertainment and enrichment programs throughout the trip in a state-of-the-art theater.
Since I’m a bit of a foodie and don’t find buffets especially inspiring, I was very curious about dining on board. Celebrity has taken that to levels I couldn’t have imagined. The most adventurous restaurant is Qsine, where ‘food becomes theater.’ Dining room furniture is set with bright, rococo embellishments in a crisp palette of orange, white and black. Guests personally order from iPads, using fingertips to select drink ingredients and menu items. Dishes from around the world are treated to a Qsine twist and presentation becomes king with sushi lollipops, disco shrimp served over flashing ice cubes, chocolate lava orbs and dipped strawberries perched atop ‘stalks’ on a bed of grass, plus more, much more. I could imagine filling cruise nights exploring that menu alone but there were others equally tempting.
The private Blu, for Aqua Class guests, is a visual feast where sumptuous ivory textures fill walls to over-sized porthole windows, and blue accents glitter from crystals to the luxurious carpeting. The cuisine is equally as bright, featuring a health conscious focus.
I’ve enjoyed walking around the WWI ship the Queen Mary and watched a host of forties musicals where stories rotate around dining room entrances, who sits with the Captain and eccentric personalities. Today’s Captains don’t mingle with guests over dinner however. Seating can be fixed (same time each meal,) flexible (different times by choice,) or Celebrity Select (same waiter.) The Celebrity Ocean View dining room is glamorous and modern with ample window space and table service for up to 650 on several levels.
Of course, there are lounges and wine ‘cellars’ on board as well. The Martini Bar and Crush is a VIP-like area. Cellar Masters is equipped with the state-of-the-art, Enomatic wine system. If you’ve been reticent to try a $300 bottle of wine, here’s chance to sip by serving yourself a few ounces or having the wait-staff assist.
All that dining and drinking means equal dedication to staying fit. Celebrity Cruises has a unique alliance with the renowned Canyon Ranch Spa Club and offers a full fitness center, rotating classes and a Persian Suite full of massages, saunas or steam baths waiting to pamper sore muscles.
The outer decks hold covered swim and Jacuzzi areas as well as open, full-sized pools and lounging areas where butlers are available to pamper you with cooling spritzes, sorbet and thick towels.
The geek in me was pleased to hear about the Celebrity iLounge with WiFi work stations and certified Apple consultants ready to help with soft or hardware instruction. The ship is also the first to offer an international Apple store for tech upgrades and their latest products.
While my tour ended in a few short hours, my life’s bucket list has expanded with a new entry. I now dream of spending several weeks visiting exotic ports on a truly luxurious ship. Cruising on the Celebrity Infinity would be hard to top.