Solsticized Celebrity Infinity

We, my wife and I, took a trip through the Panama Canal on Celebrity’s Infinity, a terrific ship that has been made even better. To get on board we had to go from Los Angeles through Miami and then by bus to Fort Lauderdale.

The red eye to Miami was made extra pleasant by the friendly and efficient flight attendants. They were amazing, particularly in the face of coming layoffs or salary cuts due to American’s bankruptcy filing.

Arriving in Miami we were met by Celebrity reps and gathered in a group to wait for the bus to Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades. After about an hour, the bus came and we were on our way.

As we entered the port, Infinity was a lovely sight in the bright sun.

Our driver pulled up to, well nowhere. We stopped in the middle of a large parking area and our bags were taken off the bus and put on an already loaded cart. Strangely, there were lots of luggage carts full and just sitting. Hmmmm.

Off the bus, and to the passenger entrance. It was jammed with people waiting to go through security. Inside was set up with tape, sort of like security at the airport, but this line moved just a few people at a time. It was a little after noon.

Apparently since Infinity had just returned from South America, The Coast Guard, Immigration, and Customs were all on board doing their various inspections. While this was happening nothing was allowed on board; no people, no luggage, no supplies, nada. And so, 2,070 passengers were waiting in a boarding area not at all ready for the influx.

Finally, boarding began and was surprisingly swift. With all the hassle, people tired and hungry, standing due to lack of chairs, and not sure when anything was going to happen, I heard no griping, and no complaints. Although I must say “infinity” began to take on a new meaning.

We processed on board and my very first impression was Infinity is a beautiful ship.

Infinity has been newly “Solsticized.” Celebrity is trickling down the best features of its Solstice class ships. Michael’s club is bigger, Qzine is available

and, for me, is actually a step up from the original. Cellar Masters with those wonderful wine sampler faucets made the trickle,

but Cellar Masters is dimly lit and kind of gloomy.

There are other changes, but “Solstice” is more than walls and content. The attitude of the staff is very upbeat. Our chief housekeeper tells her staff that the guests are “family.” Our room steward, Santana, from Goa, remembered that he was my room steward on Celebrity Summit five years ago. He even remembered my cabin number. He is one of the best.

Service in the dining room is with a smile.

The Solstice smile is contagious.

And the officers? Well, there is Officers vs. Guests pool volleyball, Them vs Us poker, and Them vs Us in a game show. As many of you know I am a former game show host and shy away from the Newlywed rip offs found on many ships, but Infinity had its own game show, kind of the illegitimate offspring of Family Feud and Play the Percentages.

The host was wonderful and, I’m sure, could get work in the USA. That is if there were any real game shows left.

Breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe is set up beautifully with easy access to foods, some of which you may not have seen before.

They call it Black Pudding, but it’s actually Blood Pudding. I refuse to ask how it is made, but I love it. There are ample egg stations, and no lines of consequence.

We have non US passengers and lunch reflects their appetite choices. Shepard’s Pie, Steak and Kidney Pie, and wonderful fish and chips. A cold soup is offered daily; don’t miss the Pear Soup. The Pasta place is one of the best I’ve come across and of course, there’s always Pizza.

The main shows in the Celebrity Theater are well attended. There are the Celebrity Dancers and Singers; comedians, European stars, and EDGE. There is no way I can explain Edge. He is sort of a juggler using equipment I’ve never seen before. Balls, yes, but a string thingy and a big thingy. You see, I can’t begin to describe his act. But he is funny!!! Don’t miss Edge.

At sea and in the sun, there is a place for all tastes.

Those couches look comfortable, and close to cozy. There is comfortable seating all about the ship; in, out, fore, aft and top to bottom. (Do your own bottom joke here.)

I also loved the art work. Not what you might expect.

Dinner at the SS United States is an epicurean experience.

We ate there twice and here’s what we found. The starters are so good; a wonderful meal can be had eating them alone. The problem is two starters are filling. There’s a full list of entrees

but be sure to leave room for dessert.

The Grand Marnier soufflé was the best I’ve had.

Dinner at Qzine is a bit weird. They call it an unique culinary journey. The menu is an IPad, the new one. Touching different icons will bring up food choices and even include a video.

I decided to start with a Qjito. The ingredients came and it was my job to put them all together in the cold glass.

It took a bit, and I will never qualify as a bartender, but a bit of booze and a lot of satisfaction gave the evening a smooth start.

Qzine is all about sharing. We ordered four items. First came the sushi lollypops, next spring rolls, then a soup and soufflé combination, and finally (well, not finally, dessert was in the offing) tacos with a filling of steak, stuff, and guacamole.

I can guarantee the guacamole was fresh; Michael made it at the table with help from our server. He was a bit put out that we had ordered “small” things, but hunger lost the battle on the third sushi stick.

Ahh, dessert. Got to admit I was close to stumped by the dessert menu. I was in the form of a Rubik cube.

As soon as I thought items had been “cubed,” another fold would open. I had Tombstone chocolate. OMG! This was a long square sided tube of chocolate on a bed of Rice Krispy like treat.

Infinity keeps getting a bang from the Solstice addition. There is so much to see and do, the ports seem secondary. However, one of our ports did stand out, at least for me. This was Colon.

Next to the ship’s pier is a small shopping center.

In one electrical shop everything from iPod ear inserts to washer dryers is for sale. I bought a small hair trimmer; the shipping for the washer-dryers was out of the question.

In the market I met, and said hello to an attractive Panamanian woman.

But, truthfully at a certain age, one can’t be selective.

This is a ship seemed to be designed for longer cruises When not in port, the ship is a wonderful destination in itself. Infinity will be making a number of 10 to 12 day cruises this year.

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