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Cruise Ship Review

Celebrity Infinity - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Celebrity's Infinity is the line's second Millennium class vessel. Like the Millennium, its sister ship, new concepts, from a two-story library to the retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant to the all-glass seaview elevators, are replicated on Infinity. The line's fleetwide dedication to art, natural woods, and sleek near-Scandinavian styling lends this ship, like others, an elegant, contemporary air.

With this ship -- and other Millennium-class vessels -- Celebrity Cruises is taking on a mighty challenge. Is it possible to successfully offer an elegant, upscale cruise experience on a (very) large scale? On our trip, it seemed that Infinity was very much a work-in-progress. Continually changing rules and regulations are indicative of the struggle. For instance, the ship recently instituted a $20 fee for access to the spa's thalassotherapy pool -- the ship's only covered pool -- and the adjacent spa cafe, in an effort to control crowds that overpowered the area. As a result of numerous passenger complaints, Celebrity recently reversed that decision and has abolished the fee. In the library, staffers recently implemented a "locked bookcase" program, which limits passengers to very restricted check-out times, because "too many books walked away."

On the other hand, the ship's elegant design has yielded some genuine improvements. The shore excursion department is not relegated merely to a counter in guest relations; it gets a stand-alone "boutique" space, with comfy chairs and an ever-updated wall of brochures and catalogues of possibilities. The Emporium, the ship's 14,000 square foot shopping area, is beautifully designed and organized.

Overall, though, the feeling you get is that in trying to be all things to all people, Infinity is struggling with its identity.

One significant problem with Infinity since its launch - and for other ships in the cruise line's Millennium-class - has been a technological one. An innovative "mermaid pod propulsion system" incorporated on Infinity has caused repeated breakdowns -- and resulted in cruise cancellations. Celebrity Cruises has taken the relatively unusual step of filing a $300 million lawsuit against the mermaid pod creators. In the meantime, the company has assured travelers that the breakdowns represent no safety hazard and will continue to offer generous compensation to passengers whose cruises are cancelled or interrupted as a result of the balky system.

Dining

The Trellis Restaurant, the ship's main dining room, where formal breakfast, lunch and dinner is served, is lovely. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are mostly set for combinations of six, eight and beyond (more intimate settings are extremely limited).

Cuisine was generally excellent; the menu at The Trellis featured a nice mix of traditional and imaginative fare that included vegetarian options for each course. From the wait-staff team to the sommelier, service was seamlessly perfect and personable. Other options included The Oceanview Grill and Cafe, which is the ship's poolside buffet restaurant; the Oceanview also has themed stations (French one day, Italian the next), one that serves pizza, a poolside grill for burgers, hotdogs and fries, and an ice cream counter. AquaSpa, the ship's healthy eatery, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At night, the Oceanview serves as the ship's "casual dining" eatery; passengers order main courses from a menu and pick up appetizers and dessert at the buffet. Be forewarned: reservations are requested -- and become quite hard to come by as the cruise progresses.

Late risers could partake of pastries at Cova Cafe Milano; the noshing is free though; you'll have to shell out for coffee in whatever form.

The SS United States, the $25 per head alternative restaurant, is actually excellent, serving no-holds-barred four-course meals that include a cheese course -- a novelty for many Americans. While the experience is well worth the extra tariff, the overall tone of the restaurant is a bit condescending -- telling diners how to dress, explaining that a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red wine came from the, um, Cotes du Rhone region of France.

Public Rooms

The Grand Foyer, a three-deck atrium, lies at the center of Celebrity Infinity; its highlight is a sprawling onyx staircase. The main "business" area is here -- including the Shore Excursion boutique, bank, and guest relations. The Constellation is Infinity's top-deck lounge and is comfortable and contemporary with fantastic views on three sides; we loved the wooden section dividers with port holes. The Celebrity Theater is another success; seating 900, it spans three tiers. The highlight? The eye-catching sight of a series of flaming torches behind glass that, on closer inspection, are actually handkerchiefs lit by under-lights. Fortunes, the ancient Egyptian-esque casino, is your typical flashy onboard gambling den, possessing the usual (slots, blackjack, etc.). Less successful: A bunch of nondescript lounges -- the Rendezvous, the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar, are lumped together, the relocated Notes CD library (which was constantly disheveled and poorly designed) is tucked away in a hard-to-find glass turret, and Michael's Club, which Celebrity describes as an "intimate hideaway" was such a "hideaway" that it was rarely populated by more than one or two people. Online@CelebrityCruises, the ship's Internet cafe, is attractively laid out but was seldom very busy. There's a stand-alone cinema -- with comfortable, rocking, velvet seats -- but the flick selection was extremely limited.

Cabins

Unlike many ships where cabins are predesigned and all (save suites) roughly occupy the same square footage, the lower down you go on Infinity the smaller they get. Our deck 2 doll-cabin was barely large enough for two (desk drawers that can't open all the way because they are blocked by a bed, the inability to sit at the desk without leaning the coffee table onto the tiny futon couch, the minimal drawer space). Balcony cabins were similarly arranged but slightly wider and more comfortable, size-wise. We peeked at even posher cabins and the a view of the Royal Suite made us wonder if we'd gotten off Infinity -- and onto another ship. It was gorgeous, with separate dining area, plush living room furnishings, high-tech accouterments, in-room laptop, marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tub, huge private balcony. Butler, etc. This is a ship where your investment into higher level accommodations really does make a difference. If space matters, that is.

Cabin service got off to a bad start (though it got better throughout the cruise). We had to request that our beds be made with bedspreads. Our worst experience was ordering breakfast room service; the woman in charge of our cabin disregarded requested delivery times (showing up as much as an hour early) and was rude on top of her incompetence. To give credit, however, once we mentioned the problem to the chief housekeeper in charge of our section the problem was immediately rectified. Staff at the Guest Relations Desk and at Shore Excursions were helpful, if crisp; one got the impression they were often overwhelmed.

Entertainment

One passenger was overheard saying that the variety of entertainment options presented were like a "three ring circus" and someone responded "no, a six-ring circus." I go with the latter. Activities mostly followed cruise ship standards (art auctions, bad hair day seminars, vegetable carving, wine tastings, bingo and ballroom dance lessons). The ship has a cinema that shows movies-just-out-on-video. Celebrity's nightly theatrical performances, ranging from Broadway compilations to piano concertos, won raves from passengers on my cruise. Another highlight was the performance of a harpist each night in the Cova Cafe Milano.

Fitness and Recreation

The AquaSpa, operated by Steiner, features a generous-enough work-out room (to avoid traffic jams on the treadmills each has a sign up sheet) with floor space for fitness classes. Surprisingly there aren't many -- the Daily Infinity lists just four each day. The spa also offers the usual services, from beauty salon to massage. One relatively funky addition is the Persian Garden aromatherapy room, which is like a steam room with different themed areas. It's an extra cost service. The AquaSpa, with thalassotherapy pool, AquaSpa Cafe, cabanas with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be closed off for privacy, and twin whirlpools require an additional tariff to enter. A note about the locker rooms. The women's, in particular, was quite small. There's a sauna -- with a great porthole view -- but no steam room. The floors are covered in tile that is dangerously slippery when wet and dirty towels and bathrobes tended to pile up in unseemly mounds.

Family

Celebrity offers the basics, and its programs are downright dynamic but Celebrity is light on the kind of services strollers-for-rent, stores selling emergency supplies, etc., that can really make it easy for families to cruise. Children pay the third-or-fourth person per cabin rate. Under the age of 12, Celebrity recommends kids pay half of the usual tip amount. Celebrity Youth Program covers ages 3 - 17. Ship Mates (3 - 6), Celebrity Cadets (7 - 9), Ensigns (10 - 12), and Admiral T's (13 - 17) operating 9 a.m. - noon; 2 - 5:30 p.m., 7:30 - 10 p.m. on sea and port days. In-cabin sitting is available for $8 per hour (two kids max); requests must be made onboard through the ship's Guest Relations or Stateroom Services departments. Group baby-sitting is available in the children's playroom for ages 3-12 from 10 p.m. - 1 a.m.; cost is $3 per hour for one child, $5 per hour for two or more kids in the same family. "Parent's Night Out" is a formal-night only program where counselors host kids for a pizza party; there's no charge. Passengers who need to request high chairs and cribs, etc., must call Celebrity's Special Services department (800-242-6374) no later than 72 hours prior to sailing. Celebrity has an "unlimited soft drinks" program for those under 18; cost is $4.50 per day plus 15 percent tip.

Fellow Passengers

Across the board -- a delightfully diverse passenger base that included family groups, young couples, and anniversary celebrants (so many the ship actually held a party for them). There was a sprinkling of older folk -- and we observed the staff to be extremely kind and gentle with disabled passengers -- and there were lots of kids. Solo cruisers didn't stand out though there were dance hosts at appropriate venues (like the Constellation Lounge's pre-dinner big band fests). There was also an interesting international diversity -- and we're not just talking crew. We spotted numerous passengers from Asia and overheard German, Spanish, British-English and even Russian being spoken.

Dress Code

Celebrity takes the dress code very seriously and "The Infinity Daily" newsletter provides guidance on what is -- and isn't -- permitted on any given day. On a seven-day cruise there are two formal nights. Diners at the S.S. United States, the ship's elegant alternative restaurant, also are required to dress formally (while we saw a handful of male passengers in tuxedos, jacket and tie for men, cocktail dress or pants for women, is acceptable).

Gratuity

Celebrity guidelines suggest gratuities of $3.50 for stateroom attendants, $3.50 for waiters, and $2.00 for assistant waiters. The line also recommends tips of 75 cents for the assistant maitre d' and 50 cents for the chief housekeeper. All suggested tips are per person, per day.The 91,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Celebrity Infinity, which debuted in 2001, is the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' Millennium-class series. Like near-identical sister ships Celebrity Millennium (2000), Celebrity Summit (2001) and Celebrity Constellation (2002), Infinity debuted with a bevy of once-novel features, including a two-story library, a retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant and a lovely bank of all-glass seaview elevators. While the Millennium quadruplets have been surpassed in size, amenities and technical innovation by Celebrity's grass-covered, partially solar powered Solstice-class ships, the line's fundamental dedication to art, natural woods, and sleek Scandinavian styling lends Celebrity Infinity and its sisters an elegant, contemporary air -- even after some ten years on the scene. And at 1,950 passengers -- compared to 2,850 on the Solstice-class vessels -- those looking for a more intimate Celebrity experience will do well to consider the "mid-sized" Millennium class.

Editor's Note: The line is also confident that the most significant problem with Infinity -- a recurring pod propulsion issue on the Millennium-class ships that has led to a number of canceled and shortened cruises -- may be behind it. In early 2010, Celebrity's parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. settled a longstanding lawsuit with Rolls-Royce, one of the designers of the faulty pod system, for $65 million. An RCCL press statement from the time noted that the two companies have been "successful in improving the reliability of the design."

Dining

The striking Trellis Restaurant, Celebrity Infinity's main dining room, offers formal breakfast, lunch and dinner. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are mostly set for combinations of six, eight and beyond (more intimate settings are extremely limited).

There are two options for dinner in the Trellis Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional, set seating (two times to dine) or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option, which was introduced in early 2010. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to dine any time between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other cruisers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat.

Cuisine at The Trellis was generally excellent; the menu featured a nice mix of traditional and imaginative fare that included vegetarian options for each course. From the waitstaff team to the sommelier, service was seamlessly perfect and personable. Other options included The Ocean Grill and Cafe, which is the ship's poolside buffet restaurant. The Ocean Grill has something available nearly 24 hours a day. Pizza and pasta are freshly made; you can choose your own ingredients. From 6:30 to 9 p.m., what is a sandwich station during the day becomes a sushi bar with a range of items from California rolls to tekka maki. Ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all available, too. On the port side of the Ocean Grill, between 6 and 10 p.m., is the alternative casual dining option, which has table service and offers regional specialties. A suggested gratuity of $2 per person is recommended. A note: No one was ever presented with a bill, so try to have a couple of dollars with you when you go, and tip in cash.

The SS United States, Celebrity Infinity's $35 per head alternative restaurant, is excellent, serving no-holds-barred four-course meals. The most commonly ordered entree is the buttery soft filet mignon, preceded by a prepared-at-the-table Caesar salad. While the experience is well worth the extra tariff, the overall tone of the restaurant is a bit condescending -- what with the explanation that a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red wine came from the, um, Cotes du Rhone region of France.

The AquaSpa Cafe is the ship's healthy eatery. It serves light meals in a cafe surrounding the spa's thalassotherapy pool. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available until 2 p.m.

Late risers can partake of pastries at Cova Cafe di Milano (Cova Cafe for short); the noshing is free, but you'll have to shell out for coffee in whatever form.

Room service is available 24/7; passengers can order selections from the menu during dinner, and a door-hung card assures you'll get breakfast when ordered. I love the fact that they phone before delivery -- breakfast and an alarm! Tipping for room service is customary and greatly appreciated.

Public Rooms

The Grand Foyer, a three-deck atrium, lies at the center of Celebrity Infinity; its highlight is a sprawling onyx staircase. The main "cruise business" area is here -- including the shore excursion boutique, bank, and guest relations.

The Constellation is Infinity's top-deck lounge and is comfortable and contemporary with fantastic views on three sides; we loved the wooden section dividers with port holes. It's used during the day as an observation station and for various activities.

The Celebrity Theater is another success; seating 900, it spans three tiers. The highlight? The eye-catching sight of a series of flaming torches behind glass that, on closer inspection, are actually handkerchiefs lit by under-lights.

Another great public spot is the Cova Cafe di Milano, midship, which surrounds the Grand Foyer one floor below. A coffee and wine bar, it's designed to replicate the Italian original. Forward of the Cova Cafe is Infinity's enormous shopping venue, the 14,000-square-foot Emporium. Along with the usual logo shops and duty-free items, there are several jewelry and watch shops, and, instead of cluttering the aisles with specials as on most ships, there is a circular central kiosk area for the daily discount offerings.

Less successful: A bunch of nondescript lounges -- the Rendezvous, the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar, are lumped together, Notes CD library is tucked away in a hard-to-find glass turret, and Michael's Club, a lounge which Celebrity describes as an "intimate hideaway" was such a "hideaway" that it was rarely populated by more than one or two people.

There are also several meeting rooms, a movie theater (which can double as a meeting/presentation venue) and an Internet center and computer lab. Passengers on Celebrity Millennium can surf the Web in the cyber cafe at a flat rate of 75 cents per minute or package rates of 100 minutes for $70, 200 minutes for $120, and 500 minutes for $250. This rate applies to both the desktops in the Internet center and to your own laptops when using Wi-Fi.

Cabins

Of the 1,059 cabins aboard Celebrity Infinity, 853 are oceanview, and 538 of those have balconies. The ship also offers 50 suites, ranging from penthouses (1,690 square feet) to more petite but elegant Sky Suites, as well as 26 accommodations that are fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair-accessible.

Infinity's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are decorated with soft hues, elegant furnishings, rounded-end beds and comfortable seating. Standard cabins come in at roughly 170 square feet. Balconies add about 40 square feet more. They are certainly not the largest cabins afloat, to be sure. All standard cabins come with mini-bar fridges, safes, telephones and interactive televisions (channels include CNN, ESPN, several movie channels, several in-house channels and TNT). The "interactive" part includes ordering room service, checking your daily bill balance and playing video slots and blackjack.

Editor's Note: Unlike many ships where cabins are predesigned and all (save suites) roughly occupy the same square footage, the lower down you go on Infinity the smaller they get. Our Deck 2 doll-cabin was barely large enough for two (desk drawers that can't open all the way because they are blocked by a bed, the inability to sit at the desk without leaning the coffee table onto the tiny futon couch, the minimal drawer space).

Infinity's "Concierge" cabins are about a foot longer than the standard cabins down the hall. There were some additional perks afforded to Concierge passengers, including a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, robes, Hansgrohe shower heads, hand-held hair dryers and expanded room service breakfast menus. Also included are priority check-in, express luggage delivery, priority embarkation and disembarkation at each port, shoeshine service, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and main/specialty restaurant seating preference.

We peeked at even posher cabins and the view of the Royal Suite made us wonder if we'd gotten off Infinity -- and onto another ship. It was gorgeous, with separate dining area, plush living room furnishings, high-tech accouterments, in-room laptop, marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tub, huge private balcony. This is a ship where your investment into higher level accommodations really does make a difference. If space matters, that is.

Entertainment

One passenger was overheard saying that the variety of entertainment options presented were like a "three ring circus" and someone responded "no, a six-ring circus." I go with the latter. Activities mostly followed cruise ship standards (art auctions, bad hair day seminars, vegetable carving, wine tastings, bingo and ballroom dance lessons). The ship has a cinema that shows movies-just-out-on-video. Celebrity's nightly theatrical performances, ranging from Broadway compilations to piano concertos, won raves from passengers on my cruise. Another highlight was the performance of a harpist each night in the Cova Cafe.

In late 2009, Celebrity introduced a new enrichment and activities program called Celebrity Life onboard Infinity. Programming is divided into three themes. "Savor" focuses on culinary themes and features wine-tasting and appreciation classes, mixology (including "Molecular Mixology" workshops developed by The Liquid Chef, who creates high-end cocktails and muddled drinks with unusual ingredients), cooking demos and cooking competitions.

"Renew" combines fitness classes (like body-sculpting, strength-training, yoga and tai chi), spa treatments, medi-spa cosmetic services (BOTOX and anti-aging facials) and wellness seminars (on topics such as youth-enhancing lifestyle tips, nutrition and stress management).

The "Discover" program has the broadest reach, as Celebrity has partnered with several well-known companies to offer a wide variety of educational opportunities to its cruise passengers. Lecturers from Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution's educational travel program, will come onboard to teach about history, culture, art, architecture and nature. Passengers can learn languages onboard with Rosetta Stone, study star-gazing and astronomy, preserve vacation photos and memories by scrapbooking with the StoryTellersClub, take technology classes (everything from iPods to Photoshop) through the line's "digITal" series and enjoy ballroom and world dance classes and competitions hosted by Celebrity's professional dancers.

Fortunes, the ancient Egyptian-esque casino, is your typical flashy onboard gambling den -- albeit it quite small for a ship this size -- possessing the usual (slots, blackjack, etc.).

Fitness and Recreation

The 25,000-square-foot AquaSpa, operated by Steiner, is a destination unto itself. The sprawling complex features a generous-enough work-out room with floor space for fitness classes, the AquaSpa Cafe, the thalassotherapy pool (free of charge to use), comfy seating areas, the spa service and treatment areas and a beauty shop.

"Renew" is the line's new name for the spa and health aspect of Celebrity Life. Renew combines fitness classes, spa treatments and wellness seminars to help travelers "feel better, live longer and look younger." Seminars offering youth-enhancing lifestyle tips and stress management, medi-spa cosmetic services (BOTOX and anti-aging facials), body-sculpting and strength-training classes, nutrition seminars, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi are all available to help Celebrity cruisers feel and look good -- not to mention keep them away from the dessert buffet. The program is broken down into three categories: "Ageless" (medi-spa stuff like Botox), "Longevity" (pain management options like acupuncture) and "Energy" (fitness classes).

Spa services at the Steiner of London-operated facility include facials, massages, wraps and scrubs with specials offered on shore days. More unusual options include the Bamboo Massage, where bamboo shoots of various sizes are rolled and used to massage muscles. Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Millennium. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. Celebrity Millennium has licensed doctors onboard and offers Restylane(R) and Perlane(R) treatments, as well as Botox.

Classes in "Chilates" (Celebrity's name for Pilates) and yoga are offered with an additional fee of $12 per person, but some of the best workouts are to be found at the dance classes, which are offered free of charge.

Family

The well-equipped Fun Factory is located at the aft end of the Sunrise Deck, and it has programs for kids, ages 3 to 17. Note: There are no facilities for teens, however, except for the adjacent video game room. (Teens do have their own full menu of programs though, called X Club.)

Participation in the kids' program is complimentary (with some exceptions) and is broken nicely into compatible age groups. Potty-trained children are welcomed from age 3 and join the Ship's Mates (3- to 5-year-olds). Cadets (6 to 8), Ensigns (9 to 11) and Teens (12 to 17) make up the balance of the groups. Age-appropriate activities are available for each, and trained counselors are in attendance.

Activities include dinosaur studies, sushi-making, miniature boat-building and treasure hunts, while indoor/outdoor Fun Factory facilities include climbing frames and ball pools, paddling pools and water chutes, computer areas (offering plug-in guitar lessons) and The Tower -- a tall, large-windowed space for teens at the prow end of Deck 11. Parents with children younger than 3 are invited to accompany their toddlers into the playrooms. (Infants who sail must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, select South America and other select cruises, infants must be at least 12 months old.)

It's $6 per hour, per child, to participate in the "Afternoon Party" from noon to 2 p.m. on port days and/or the nighttime Slumber Party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. In-cabin baby-sitting is available for $8 per hour, for up to two children (12 months minimum) within the same family.Celebrity Infinity Fellow Passengers

Fellow Passengers

Celebrity Infinity passengers tend to be sophisticated, well-traveled adults in the 45 to 65 age range, and indeed, the Celebrity experience is ideal for the "baby boom" generation. Most of the guests are North American, with Britain and other European countries represented.

Dress Code

Depending on the destination, the dress is usually casual during the day and resort casual in the evening. On transatlantic voyages, guests tend to be dressier, even during the day.

Celebrity is a traditional cruise line, and the typical Infinity guest likes the tradition of dressing up for supper. Plan for two formal nights on a seven- to 11-night cruises and three on cruises of more than 12 nights, with several "informal" evenings, as well. Formal nights find most of the ladies in beaded or flowing gowns and men in tuxes; on informal evenings, women wear cocktail attire, and men wear suits with ties.

There are casual dining options for those who choose not to dress up on formal nights, including the ever-present pizza and pasta, the sushi bar and the dining option on the port side of the Ocean Grill.

Gratuity

Celebrity automatically adds gratuities for your restaurant and cabin services to your onboard Seapass account on a daily basis in the following amounts: $11.50 per person, per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12.00 per person, per day, if you're in Concierge Class; and $15.00 per person, per day, for guests in suites.Celebrity's Infinity is the line's second Millennium class vessel. Like the Millennium, its sister ship, new concepts, from a two-story library to the retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant to the all-glass seaview elevators, are replicated on Infinity. The line's fleetwide dedication to art, natural woods, and sleek near-Scandinavian styling lends this ship, like others, an elegant, contemporary air.

With this ship -- and other Millennium-class vessels -- Celebrity Cruises is taking on a mighty challenge. Is it possible to successfully offer an elegant, upscale cruise experience on a (very) large scale? On our trip, it seemed that Infinity was very much a work-in-progress. Continually changing rules and regulations are indicative of the struggle. For instance, the ship recently instituted a $20 fee for access to the spa's thalassotherapy pool -- the ship's only covered pool -- and the adjacent spa cafe, in an effort to control crowds that overpowered the area. As a result of numerous passenger complaints, Celebrity recently reversed that decision and has abolished the fee. In the library, staffers recently implemented a "locked bookcase" program, which limits passengers to very restricted check-out times, because "too many books walked away."

On the other hand, the ship's elegant design has yielded some genuine improvements. The shore excursion department is not relegated merely to a counter in guest relations; it gets a stand-alone "boutique" space, with comfy chairs and an ever-updated wall of brochures and catalogues of possibilities. The Emporium, the ship's 14,000 square foot shopping area, is beautifully designed and organized.

Overall, though, the feeling you get is that in trying to be all things to all people, Infinity is struggling with its identity.

One significant problem with Infinity since its launch - and for other ships in the cruise line's Millennium-class - has been a technological one. An innovative "mermaid pod propulsion system" incorporated on Infinity has caused repeated breakdowns -- and resulted in cruise cancellations. Celebrity Cruises has taken the relatively unusual step of filing a $300 million lawsuit against the mermaid pod creators. In the meantime, the company has assured travelers that the breakdowns represent no safety hazard and will continue to offer generous compensation to passengers whose cruises are cancelled or interrupted as a result of the balky system.

Cabins

Unlike many ships where cabins are predesigned and all (save suites) roughly occupy the same square footage, the lower down you go on Infinity the smaller they get. Our deck 2 doll-cabin was barely large enough for two (desk drawers that can't open all the way because they are blocked by a bed, the inability to sit at the desk without leaning the coffee table onto the tiny futon couch, the minimal drawer space). Balcony cabins were similarly arranged but slightly wider and more comfortable, size-wise. We peeked at even posher cabins and the a view of the Royal Suite made us wonder if we'd gotten off Infinity -- and onto another ship. It was gorgeous, with separate dining area, plush living room furnishings, high-tech accouterments, in-room laptop, marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tub, huge private balcony. Butler, etc. This is a ship where your investment into higher level accommodations really does make a difference. If space matters, that is.

Cabin service got off to a bad start (though it got better throughout the cruise). We had to request that our beds be made with bedspreads. Our worst experience was ordering breakfast room service; the woman in charge of our cabin disregarded requested delivery times (showing up as much as an hour early) and was rude on top of her incompetence. To give credit, however, once we mentioned the problem to the chief housekeeper in charge of our section the problem was immediately rectified. Staff at the Guest Relations Desk and at Shore Excursions were helpful, if crisp; one got the impression they were often overwhelmed.

Entertainment

One passenger was overheard saying that the variety of entertainment options presented were like a "three ring circus" and someone responded "no, a six-ring circus." I go with the latter. Activities mostly followed cruise ship standards (art auctions, bad hair day seminars, vegetable carving, wine tastings, bingo and ballroom dance lessons). The ship has a cinema that shows movies-just-out-on-video. Celebrity's nightly theatrical performances, ranging from Broadway compilations to piano concertos, won raves from passengers on my cruise. Another highlight was the performance of a harpist each night in the Cova Cafe Milano.

Fitness and Recreation

The AquaSpa, operated by Steiner, features a generous-enough work-out room (to avoid traffic jams on the treadmills each has a sign up sheet) with floor space for fitness classes. Surprisingly there aren't many -- the Daily Infinity lists just four each day. The spa also offers the usual services, from beauty salon to massage. One relatively funky addition is the Persian Garden aromatherapy room, which is like a steam room with different themed areas. It's an extra cost service. The AquaSpa, with thalassotherapy pool, AquaSpa Cafe, cabanas with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be closed off for privacy, and twin whirlpools require an additional tariff to enter. A note about the locker rooms. The women's, in particular, was quite small. There's a sauna -- with a great porthole view -- but no steam room. The floors are covered in tile that is dangerously slippery when wet and dirty towels and bathrobes tended to pile up in unseemly mounds.

Family

Celebrity offers the basics, and its programs are downright dynamic but Celebrity is light on the kind of services strollers-for-rent, stores selling emergency supplies, etc., that can really make it easy for families to cruise. Children pay the third-or-fourth person per cabin rate. Under the age of 12, Celebrity recommends kids pay half of the usual tip amount. Celebrity Youth Program covers ages 3 - 17. Ship Mates (3 - 6), Celebrity Cadets (7 - 9), Ensigns (10 - 12), and Admiral T's (13 - 17) operating 9 a.m. - noon; 2 - 5:30 p.m., 7:30 - 10 p.m. on sea and port days. In-cabin sitting is available for $8 per hour (two kids max); requests must be made onboard through the ship's Guest Relations or Stateroom Services departments. Group baby-sitting is available in the children's playroom for ages 3-12 from 10 p.m. - 1 a.m.; cost is $3 per hour for one child, $5 per hour for two or more kids in the same family. "Parent's Night Out" is a formal-night only program where counselors host kids for a pizza party; there's no charge. Passengers who need to request high chairs and cribs, etc., must call Celebrity's Special Services department (800-242-6374) no later than 72 hours prior to sailing. Celebrity has an "unlimited soft drinks" program for those under 18; cost is $4.50 per day plus 15 percent tip.

Fellow Passengers

Across the board -- a delightfully diverse passenger base that included family groups, young couples, and anniversary celebrants (so many the ship actually held a party for them). There was a sprinkling of older folk -- and we observed the staff to be extremely kind and gentle with disabled passengers -- and there were lots of kids. Solo cruisers didn't stand out though there were dance hosts at appropriate venues (like the Constellation Lounge's pre-dinner big band fests). There was also an interesting international diversity -- and we're not just talking crew. We spotted numerous passengers from Asia and overheard German, Spanish, British-English and even Russian being spoken.

Gratuity

Celebrity guidelines suggest gratuities of $3.50 for stateroom attendants, $3.50 for waiters, and $2.00 for assistant waiters. The line also recommends tips of 75 cents for the assistant maitre d' and 50 cents for the chief housekeeper. All suggested tips are per person, per day.The 91,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Celebrity Infinity, which debuted in 2001, is the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' Millennium-class series. Like near-identical sister ships Celebrity Millennium (2000), Celebrity Summit (2001) and Celebrity Constellation (2002), Infinity debuted with a bevy of once-novel features, including a two-story library, a retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant and a lovely bank of all-glass seaview elevators. While the Millennium quadruplets have been surpassed in size, amenities and technical innovation by Celebrity's grass-covered, partially solar powered Solstice-class ships, the line's fundamental dedication to art, natural woods, and sleek Scandinavian styling lends Celebrity Infinity and its sisters an elegant, contemporary air -- even after some ten years on the scene. And at 1,950 passengers -- compared to 2,850 on the Solstice-class vessels -- those looking for a more intimate Celebrity experience will do well to consider the "mid-sized" Millennium class.

Editor's Note: The line is also confident that the most significant problem with Infinity -- a recurring pod propulsion issue on the Millennium-class ships that has led to a number of canceled and shortened cruises -- may be behind it. In early 2010, Celebrity's parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. settled a longstanding lawsuit with Rolls-Royce, one of the designers of the faulty pod system, for $65 million. An RCCL press statement from the time noted that the two companies have been "successful in improving the reliability of the design."

Dining

The striking Trellis Restaurant, Celebrity Infinity's main dining room, offers formal breakfast, lunch and dinner. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are mostly set for combinations of six, eight and beyond (more intimate settings are extremely limited).

There are two options for dinner in the Trellis Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional, set seating (two times to dine) or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option, which was introduced in early 2010. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to dine any time between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other cruisers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat.

Cuisine at The Trellis was generally excellent; the menu featured a nice mix of traditional and imaginative fare that included vegetarian options for each course. From the waitstaff team to the sommelier, service was seamlessly perfect and personable. Other options included The Ocean Grill and Cafe, which is the ship's poolside buffet restaurant. The Ocean Grill has something available nearly 24 hours a day. Pizza and pasta are freshly made; you can choose your own ingredients. From 6:30 to 9 p.m., what is a sandwich station during the day becomes a sushi bar with a range of items from California rolls to tekka maki. Ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all available, too. On the port side of the Ocean Grill, between 6 and 10 p.m., is the alternative casual dining option, which has table service and offers regional specialties. A suggested gratuity of $2 per person is recommended. A note: No one was ever presented with a bill, so try to have a couple of dollars with you when you go, and tip in cash.

The SS United States, Celebrity Infinity's $40 per head alternative restaurant, is excellent, serving no-holds-barred four-course meals. The most commonly ordered entree is the buttery soft filet mignon, preceded by a prepared-at-the-table Caesar salad. While the experience is well worth the extra tariff, the overall tone of the restaurant is a bit condescending -- what with the explanation that a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red wine came from the, um, Cotes du Rhone region of France. There's also a wine-paired tasting menu for $89 per person.

The AquaSpa Cafe is the ship's healthy eatery. It serves light meals in a cafe surrounding the spa's thalassotherapy pool. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available until 2 p.m.

Late risers can partake of pastries at Cova Cafe di Milano (Cova Cafe for short); the noshing is free, but you'll have to shell out for coffee in whatever form.

Room service is available 24/7; passengers can order selections from the menu during dinner, and a door-hung card assures you'll get breakfast when ordered. I love the fact that they phone before delivery -- breakfast and an alarm! Tipping for room service is customary and greatly appreciated.

Public Rooms

The Grand Foyer, a three-deck atrium, lies at the center of Celebrity Infinity; its highlight is a sprawling onyx staircase. The main "cruise business" area is here -- including the shore excursion boutique, bank, and guest relations.

The Constellation is Infinity's top-deck lounge and is comfortable and contemporary with fantastic views on three sides; we loved the wooden section dividers with port holes. It's used during the day as an observation station and for various activities.

The Celebrity Theater is another success; seating 900, it spans three tiers. The highlight? The eye-catching sight of a series of flaming torches behind glass that, on closer inspection, are actually handkerchiefs lit by under-lights.

Another great public spot is the Cova Cafe di Milano, midship, which surrounds the Grand Foyer one floor below. A coffee and wine bar, it's designed to replicate the Italian original. Forward of the Cova Cafe is Infinity's enormous shopping venue, the 14,000-square-foot Emporium. Along with the usual logo shops and duty-free items, there are several jewelry and watch shops, and, instead of cluttering the aisles with specials as on most ships, there is a circular central kiosk area for the daily discount offerings.

Less successful: A bunch of nondescript lounges -- the Rendezvous, the Martini Bar and the Champagne Bar, are lumped together, Notes CD library is tucked away in a hard-to-find glass turret, and Michael's Club, a lounge which Celebrity describes as an "intimate hideaway" was such a "hideaway" that it was rarely populated by more than one or two people.

There are also several meeting rooms, a movie theater (which can double as a meeting/presentation venue) and an Internet center and computer lab. Passengers on Celebrity Millennium can surf the Web in the cyber cafe at a flat rate of 75 cents per minute or package rates of 100 minutes for $70, 200 minutes for $120, and 500 minutes for $250. This rate applies to both the desktops in the Internet center and to your own laptops when using Wi-Fi.

Cabins

Of the 1,059 cabins aboard Celebrity Infinity, 853 are oceanview, and 538 of those have balconies. The ship also offers 50 suites, ranging from penthouses (1,690 square feet) to more petite but elegant Sky Suites, as well as 26 accommodations that are fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair-accessible.

Infinity's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are decorated with soft hues, elegant furnishings, rounded-end beds and comfortable seating. Standard cabins come in at roughly 170 square feet. Balconies add about 40 square feet more. They are certainly not the largest cabins afloat, to be sure. All standard cabins come with mini-bar fridges, safes, telephones and interactive televisions (channels include CNN, ESPN, several movie channels, several in-house channels and TNT). The "interactive" part includes ordering room service, checking your daily bill balance and playing video slots and blackjack.

Editor's Note: Unlike many ships where cabins are predesigned and all (save suites) roughly occupy the same square footage, the lower down you go on Infinity the smaller they get. Our Deck 2 doll-cabin was barely large enough for two (desk drawers that can't open all the way because they are blocked by a bed, the inability to sit at the desk without leaning the coffee table onto the tiny futon couch, the minimal drawer space).

Infinity's "Concierge" cabins are about a foot longer than the standard cabins down the hall. There were some additional perks afforded to Concierge passengers, including a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, robes, Hansgrohe shower heads, hand-held hair dryers and expanded room service breakfast menus. Also included are priority check-in, express luggage delivery, priority embarkation and disembarkation at each port, shoeshine service, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and main/specialty restaurant seating preference.

We peeked at even posher cabins and the view of the Royal Suite made us wonder if we'd gotten off Infinity -- and onto another ship. It was gorgeous, with separate dining area, plush living room furnishings, high-tech accouterments, in-room laptop, marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tub, huge private balcony. This is a ship where your investment into higher level accommodations really does make a difference. If space matters, that is.

Entertainment

One passenger was overheard saying that the variety of entertainment options presented were like a "three ring circus" and someone responded "no, a six-ring circus." I go with the latter. Activities mostly followed cruise ship standards (art auctions, bad hair day seminars, vegetable carving, wine tastings, bingo and ballroom dance lessons). The ship has a cinema that shows movies-just-out-on-video. Celebrity's nightly theatrical performances, ranging from Broadway compilations to piano concertos, won raves from passengers on my cruise. Another highlight was the performance of a harpist each night in the Cova Cafe.

In late 2009, Celebrity introduced a new enrichment and activities program called Celebrity Life onboard Infinity. Programming is divided into three themes. "Savor" focuses on culinary themes and features wine-tasting and appreciation classes, mixology (including "Molecular Mixology" workshops developed by The Liquid Chef, who creates high-end cocktails and muddled drinks with unusual ingredients), cooking demos and cooking competitions.

"Renew" combines fitness classes (like body-sculpting, strength-training, yoga and tai chi), spa treatments, medi-spa cosmetic services (BOTOX and anti-aging facials) and wellness seminars (on topics such as youth-enhancing lifestyle tips, nutrition and stress management).

The "Discover" program has the broadest reach, as Celebrity has partnered with several well-known companies to offer a wide variety of educational opportunities to its cruise passengers. Lecturers from Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution's educational travel program, will come onboard to teach about history, culture, art, architecture and nature. Passengers can learn languages onboard with Rosetta Stone, study star-gazing and astronomy, preserve vacation photos and memories by scrapbooking with the StoryTellersClub, take technology classes (everything from iPods to Photoshop) through the line's "digITal" series and enjoy ballroom and world dance classes and competitions hosted by Celebrity's professional dancers.

Fortunes, the ancient Egyptian-esque casino, is your typical flashy onboard gambling den -- albeit it quite small for a ship this size -- possessing the usual (slots, blackjack, etc.).

Fitness and Recreation

The 25,000-square-foot AquaSpa, operated by Steiner, is a destination unto itself. The sprawling complex features a generous-enough work-out room with floor space for fitness classes, the AquaSpa Cafe, the thalassotherapy pool (free of charge to use), comfy seating areas, the spa service and treatment areas and a beauty shop.

"Renew" is the line's new name for the spa and health aspect of Celebrity Life. Renew combines fitness classes, spa treatments and wellness seminars to help travelers "feel better, live longer and look younger." Seminars offering youth-enhancing lifestyle tips and stress management, medi-spa cosmetic services (BOTOX and anti-aging facials), body-sculpting and strength-training classes, nutrition seminars, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi are all available to help Celebrity cruisers feel and look good -- not to mention keep them away from the dessert buffet. The program is broken down into three categories: "Ageless" (medi-spa stuff like Botox), "Longevity" (pain management options like acupuncture) and "Energy" (fitness classes).

Spa services at the Steiner of London-operated facility include facials, massages, wraps and scrubs with specials offered on shore days. More unusual options include the Bamboo Massage, where bamboo shoots of various sizes are rolled and used to massage muscles. Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Millennium. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. Celebrity Millennium has licensed doctors onboard and offers Restylane(R) and Perlane(R) treatments, as well as Botox.

Classes in "Chilates" (Celebrity's name for Pilates) and yoga are offered with an additional fee of $12 per person, but some of the best workouts are to be found at the dance classes, which are offered free of charge.

Family

The well-equipped Fun Factory is located at the aft end of the Sunrise Deck, and it has programs for kids, ages 3 to 17. Note: There are no facilities for teens, however, except for the adjacent video game room. (Teens do have their own full menu of programs though, called X Club.)

Participation in the kids' program is complimentary (with some exceptions) and is broken nicely into compatible age groups. Potty-trained children are welcomed from age 3 and join the Ship's Mates (3- to 5-year-olds). Cadets (6 to 8), Ensigns (9 to 11) and Teens (12 to 17) make up the balance of the groups. Age-appropriate activities are available for each, and trained counselors are in attendance.

Activities include dinosaur studies, sushi-making, miniature boat-building and treasure hunts, while indoor/outdoor Fun Factory facilities include climbing frames and ball pools, paddling pools and water chutes, computer areas (offering plug-in guitar lessons) and The Tower -- a tall, large-windowed space for teens at the prow end of Deck 11. Parents with children younger than 3 are invited to accompany their toddlers into the playrooms. (Infants who sail must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, select South America and other select cruises, infants must be at least 12 months old.)

It's $6 per hour, per child, to participate in the "Afternoon Party" from noon to 2 p.m. on port days and/or the nighttime Slumber Party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. In-cabin baby-sitting is available for $8 per hour, for up to two children (12 months minimum) within the same family.Celebrity Infinity Fellow Passengers

Fellow Passengers

Celebrity Infinity passengers tend to be sophisticated, well-traveled adults in the 45 to 65 age range, and indeed, the Celebrity experience is ideal for the "baby boom" generation. Most of the guests are North American, with Britain and other European countries represented.

Dress Code

Depending on the destination, the dress is usually casual during the day and resort casual in the evening. On transatlantic voyages, guests tend to be dressier, even during the day.

Celebrity is a traditional cruise line, and the typical Infinity guest likes the tradition of dressing up for supper. Plan for two formal nights on a seven- to 11-night cruises and three on cruises of more than 12 nights, with several "informal" evenings, as well. Formal nights find most of the ladies in beaded or flowing gowns and men in tuxes; on informal evenings, women wear cocktail attire, and men wear suits with ties.

There are casual dining options for those who choose not to dress up on formal nights, including the ever-present pizza and pasta, the sushi bar and the dining option on the port side of the Ocean Grill.

Gratuity

Celebrity automatically adds gratuities for your restaurant and cabin services to your onboard Seapass account on a daily basis in the following amounts: $11.50 per person, per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12.00 per person, per day, if you're in Concierge Class; and $15.00 per person, per day, for guests in suites.Editor's Note: Following a November 2011 dry dock in the Bahamas, Celebrity Infinity emerged with new Solstice-class dining venues, including Qsine (interactive comfort food), Blu (Mediterranean spa cuisine) and Bistro on 5 (creperie), a new iLounge computer lab, new balconies, as well as more than 100 new or redesigned spa cabins. The ship also got more crowded -- 60 new cabins were added, bringing the double occupancy from 1,950 up to 2,070. Stay tuned for an updated expert review. In the meantime, check out new reviews from dozens of Cruise Critic readers. Also, read the expert review of sister ship Celebrity Millennium, which underwent a similar transformation.

The 91,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Celebrity Infinity, which debuted in 2001, is the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' Millennium-class series. Like near-identical sister ships Celebrity Millennium (2000), Celebrity Summit (2001) and Celebrity Constellation (2002), Infinity debuted with a bevy of once-novel features, including a two-story library, a retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant and a lovely bank of all-glass seaview elevators. While the Millennium quadruplets have been surpassed in size, amenities and technical innovation by Celebrity's grass-covered, partially solar powered Solstice-class ships, the line's fundamental dedication to art, natural woods, and sleek Scandinavian styling lends Celebrity Infinity and its sisters an elegant, contemporary air -- even after some ten years on the scene. And at 1,950 passengers -- compared to 2,850 on the Solstice-class vessels -- those looking for a more intimate Celebrity experience will do well to consider the "mid-sized" Millennium class.

The line is also confident that the most significant problem with Infinity -- a recurring pod propulsion issue on the Millennium-class ships that has led to a number of canceled and shortened cruises -- may be behind it. In early 2010, Celebrity's parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. settled a longstanding lawsuit with Rolls-Royce, one of the designers of the faulty pod system, for $65 million. An RCCL press statement from the time noted that the two companies have been "successful in improving the reliability of the design."

Dining

The striking Trellis Restaurant, Celebrity Infinity's main dining room, offers formal breakfast, lunch and dinner. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are mostly set for combinations of six, eight and beyond (more intimate settings are extremely limited).

There are two options for dinner in the Trellis Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional, set seating (two times to dine) or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option, which was introduced in early 2010. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to dine any time between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other cruisers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat.

Cuisine at The Trellis was generally well recieved; the menu features a nice mix of traditional and imaginative fare that included vegetarian options for each course. Other options include The Ocean Grill and Cafe, which is the ship's poolside buffet restaurant. The Ocean Grill has something available nearly 24 hours a day. Pizza and pasta are freshly made; you can choose your own ingredients. From 6:30 to 9 p.m., what is a sandwich station during the day becomes a sushi bar with a range of items from California rolls to tekka maki. Ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all available, too. On the port side of the Ocean Grill, between 6 and 10 p.m., is the alternative casual dining option, which has table service and offers regional specialties. A suggested gratuity of $2 per person is recommended. A note: No one was ever presented with a bill, so try to have a couple of dollars with you when you go, and tip in cash.

The SS United States, Celebrity Infinity's $40 per head alternative restaurant, is excellent, serving no-holds-barred four-course meals. The most commonly ordered entree is the buttery soft filet mignon, preceded by a prepared-at-the-table Caesar salad. While the experience is well worth the extra tariff, the overall tone of the restaurant is a bit condescending -- what with the explanation that a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red wine came from the, um, Cotes du Rhone region of France. There's also a wine-paired tasting menu for $89 per person.

Qsine (pronounce "cuisine") is Infinity's for-fee "creative comfort food" venue at which patrons order whimsically presented dishes off of iPads. Instead of waiters, you get culinary tour guides, and presentation -- think sushi lollipops or spring rolls served in actual springs -- is the focus. It's $40 per person to eat here.

The AquaSpa Cafe is the ship's healthy eatery. It serves light meals in a cafe surrounding the spa's thalassotherapy pool. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available until 2 p.m.

Late risers can partake of pastries at Cova Cafe di Milano (Cova Cafe for short); the noshing is free, but you'll have to shell out for coffee in whatever form.

Room service is available 24/7; passengers can order selections from the menu during dinner, and a door-hung card assures you'll get breakfast when ordered. I love the fact that they phone before delivery -- breakfast and an alarm! Tipping for room service is customary and greatly appreciated.

Cabins

Of the 1,059 cabins aboard Celebrity Infinity, 853 are oceanview, and 538 of those have balconies. The ship also offers 50 suites, ranging from penthouses (1,690 square feet) to more petite but elegant Sky Suites, as well as 26 accommodations that are fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair-accessible.

Infinity's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are decorated with soft hues, elegant furnishings, rounded-end beds and comfortable seating. Standard cabins come in at roughly 170 square feet. Balconies add about 40 square feet more. They are certainly not the largest cabins afloat, to be sure. All standard cabins come with mini-bar fridges, safes, telephones and interactive televisions (channels include CNN, ESPN, several movie channels, several in-house channels and TNT). The "interactive" part includes ordering room service, checking your daily bill balance and playing video slots and blackjack.

Editor's Note: Unlike many ships where cabins are predesigned and all (save suites) roughly occupy the same square footage, the lower down you go on Infinity the smaller they get. Our Deck 2 doll-cabin was barely large enough for two (desk drawers that can't open all the way because they are blocked by a bed, the inability to sit at the desk without leaning the coffee table onto the tiny futon couch, the minimal drawer space).

Infinity's "Concierge" cabins are about a foot longer than the standard cabins down the hall. There were some additional perks afforded to Concierge passengers, including a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, robes, Hansgrohe shower heads, hand-held hair dryers and expanded room service breakfast menus. Also included are priority check-in, express luggage delivery, priority embarkation and disembarkation at each port, shoeshine service, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and main/specialty restaurant seating preference. In 2012, Celebrity expanded the ConciergeClass services to include an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices.

We peeked at even posher cabins and the view of the Royal Suite made us wonder if we'd gotten off Infinity -- and onto another ship. It was gorgeous, with separate dining area, plush living room furnishings, high-tech accouterments, in-room laptop, marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi tub, huge private balcony. This is a ship where your investment into higher level accommodations really does make a difference. If space matters, that is.The 91,000-ton, 2,070-passenger Celebrity Infinity debuted in 2001 as the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' four-vessel Millennium-class series. Like near-identical sister ships Celebrity Millennium (2000), Celebrity Summit (2001) and Celebrity Constellation (2002), Infinity debuted with a bevy of once-novel features, including a two-story library, a retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant and a lovely bank of seaview glass elevators. These days, however, the Millennium quadruplets have been surpassed in size, amenities and technical innovation by Celebrity's grass-covered, partially solar powered Solstice-class ships.

To that end, Celebrity has invested heavily in refurbishing the series. Following a November 2011 dry-dock in the Bahamas, Celebrity Infinity emerged with a slew of Solstice-class dining venues, including Qsine (interactive comfort food), Blu (Mediterranean spa cuisine) and Bistro on 5 (creperie), a new iLounge computer lab, new balconies, as well as more than 100 new or redesigned spa cabins. (The ship also got more crowded -- 60 new cabins were added, bringing the double occupancy from 1,950 up to 2,070.)

Much has changed for the ship in the form of decor and onboard features, but Constellation's most visible alterations focus on the Deck 4 and 5 social hub, which forms a two-floor, shiplong link between the main dining room (aft) and theater (forward). The focus here is on casual food and drink options. The old Martini Bar has been replaced with a new version, a glowing green pod with a shaved ice-topped bar and juggling bartenders. Cellar Masters, a wine venue with self-service dispensary system, has replaced the original, staid Champagne Bar. Bistro on Five, a for-fee creperie that was a surprise hit on Solstice (and on Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection, the ships that followed), has been added to Deck 5. Infinity's old coffee bar has been redone, and the line has added a gelataria.

Despite these significant changes, the ship still retains much of what has made it a fan favorite, stylistically, for more than a decade. The whimsical art, use of natural woods and lots of glass, especially in the stunning Solarium, have always lent Celebrity Infinity and its sisters an elegant, contemporary air. Those touches remains. So too does the high passenger-to-crew ratio, which has earned the line high marks for service. And at 2,070 passengers -- compared to 2,850 on the Solstice-class vessels -- those looking for a more intimate Celebrity experience will do well to consider the "mid-sized" Millennium class.

Dining

The striking Trellis Restaurant, Celebrity Infinity's main dining room, offers formal breakfast, lunch and dinner. The highlight of the two-tiered restaurant is a huge, paned showcase window that extends from floor to ceiling. Tables are mostly set for combinations of six, eight and beyond (more intimate settings are extremely limited).

There are two options for dinner in the Trellis Restaurant. Passengers can go with traditional, set seating (two times to dine) or opt for the more flexible Celebrity Select dining option, which was introduced in early 2010. With Celebrity Select, passengers have the option to dine any time between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and to decide whether they want to eat with their own party or at a mixed table with other cruisers. They can also make specific dinner reservations for each day of their cruise online in advance, make reservations onboard or simply show up when ready to eat.

Cuisine at The Trellis is generally well received; the menu features a mix of traditional and imaginative fare that included vegetarian options for each course. Other options include The Ocean Grill and Cafe, which is the ship's poolside buffet restaurant. The Ocean Grill has something available nearly 24 hours a day. Pizza and pasta are freshly made; you can choose your own ingredients. From 6:30 to 9 p.m., what is a sandwich station during the day becomes a sushi bar with a range of items from California rolls to tekka maki. Ginger, wasabi and soy sauce are all available, too. The SS United States, Celebrity Infinity's $40 per head alternative restaurant, is excellent, serving no-holds-barred four-course meals. The most commonly ordered entree is the buttery soft filet mignon, preceded by a prepared-at-the-table Caesar salad. In addition to the regular menu, you can opt instead for the Five Senses menu, which presents six courses paired with wines, for a higher surcharge of $89 per person.

Celebrity's Champagne High Tea, which takes place once or twice a cruise, is also offered in the SS United States. While a string quartet plays, premium tea and coffees, savory sandwiches and desserts are served on fine china for a $25-per-person charge. Carved out of a portion of the main dining room on Deck 5 is Blu, Celebrity's spa-dining venue, exclusively for AquaClass passengers. Those booked in suites are allowed to dine there, space permitting. The fee-free restaurant (a $5 gratuity is recommended) is open for breakfast (7:30 to 9 a.m.), serving light meals like smoothies and muesli, and dinner (6 to 9:30 p.m.), with a changing menu of clean and simple cuisine, such as a roasted chicken breast or blackened ahi tuna. The venue is gorgeous, done in white with bright blue accents and a row of large porthole windows along one side.

Qsine (pronounce "cuisine") is Infinity's for-fee "creative comfort food" venue at which patrons order whimsically presented dishes off of iPads. Instead of waiters, you get culinary tour guides, and presentation -- think sushi lollipops or spring rolls served in actual springs -- is the focus. It's $40 per person to eat here.

The final for-fee venue is the casual Bistro on Five. Bistro's main fare is crepes, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert crepes. It also features panini sandwiches (steak, chicken or vegetable), soups and salads. Popular choices include the sweet banana, nutella and pistachio crepes and the savory Cowboy crepe, featuring marinated flank steak. Bistro on Five is open from 6 a.m. until "late" and requires no reservations, though there is a $5-per-person service charge.

The AquaSpa Cafe is the ship's fee-free healthy eatery. It serves light meals in a cafe surrounding the spa's thalassotherapy pool. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available until 2 p.m.

Late risers can partake of pastries at Cova Cafe di Milano (Cova Cafe for short); the noshing is free, but you'll have to shell out for coffee in whatever form.

Room service is available 24/7; passengers can order selections from the menu during dinner, and a door-hung card assures you'll get breakfast when ordered. Tipping for room service is customary and greatly appreciated.

Public Rooms

The Grand Foyer, a three-deck atrium, lies at the center of Celebrity Infinity; its highlight is a sprawling onyx staircase. The main "cruise business" area is here -- including the shore excursion boutique, bank, and guest relations.

The photo gallery is located on Deck 4, across from Michael's Club.

Forward of the coffee shop is Infinity's enormous shopping venue, the 14,000-square-foot Emporium. Along with the usual logo shops and duty-free items, there are several jewelry and watch shops, and, instead of cluttering the aisles with specials as on most ships, there is a circular central kiosk area for the daily discount offerings.

The Celebrity iLounge is found on Deck 6 midship. There, iMac computers are available for Web browsing, or you can sign up for a Wi-Fi account, as wireless Internet access is available shipwide. Prices start at 75 cents a minute, or you can purchase a package: 38 minutes for $25, 90 minutes for $50, 208 minutes for $100, 555 minutes for $200, or 1,666 minutes for $400. Computer and technology classes, mostly focusing on Apple products, are held there and cost extra.

There are also several meeting rooms. The ship's two-story library on Decks 8 and 9, features a spiral staircase, glass walls and deep armchairs.

There are no self-service launderettes.

Cabins

Of the 1,085 cabins aboard Infinity, more than 80 percent are oceanview, and some 75 percent of those have balconies. The ship also offers a range of suites, from sprawling penthouses (1,400-plus square feet) to more petite but elegant Sky Suites, as well as 26 accommodations that are fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair-accessible.

Infinity's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are well configured and nicely decorated with soft hues, elegant furnishings, rounded-end beds and comfortable seating options. Standard inside and outside cabins come in at 170 square feet. Balconies add 38 square feet of outdoor space. (The standard cabins on Infinity's Solstice-class fleetmates feature more interior and exterior space.)

The handful of Family Verandah cabins are at 271 square feet with disproportionate 242-square-foot balconies. Sliding doors with translucent windows separate the master bedroom areas from the living areas, where the kiddos can bunk on pullout couches. The huge balconies each feature two lounge chairs and a table with two chairs.

ConciergeClass cabins measure 194 square feet with 54-square-foot balconies. Concierge passengers receive extra perks, including a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, sparkling wine on embarkation day, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, robes, Hansgrohe shower heads, handheld hair dryers, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and expanded room service breakfast menus. Also included are the services of a concierge, priority check-in, use of an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices, express luggage service, priority disembarkation, shoeshine service and main/specialty restaurant seating preference.

Infinity's AquaClass cabins, added in November 2011, are the same size but come with different perks. In-cabin amenities include daily delivery of bottled water and tea, an upgraded room service menu, pillow menu, extra toiletries (shower gel, lip balm), use of plush bathrobes and slippers, and a Hansgrohe shower panel. Plus, AquaClass cruisers get exclusive spa privileges, such as access to dining in Blu, complimentary passes to the Persian Garden steam and sauna room, and on-demand wellness programming.

Infinity features four basic types of suites. Twenty-six Sky Suites come in at 251 square feet with a 57-square-foot balcony. They're essentially just bigger cabins with no separation between living and sleeping areas. Eight Celebrity Suites -- at 467 square feet with 85-square-foot balconies -- are true suites with separate sleeping, living and dining areas. The eight Royal Suites are 538 square feet with 195-square-foot balconies. Not only are there separate sleeping, living and dining spaces, but the spacious balconies each feature a whirlpool and cushy lounge furniture.

The two Penthouse Suites are each a whopping 1,432 square feet with a 1,098-square-foot balcony. You'll find a baby grand piano, butler's pantry, motorized drapes, entertainment centers, complimentary scotch and vodka, a master bath with a whirlpool tub and a second bathroom, and another whirlpool, bar and dining table on the balcony.

Stay in any of these suites, and you'll receive butler service; priority check-in, debarkation, tender service, restaurant seating and theater seating; afternoon canapes and tea service, and daily in-cabin specialty coffee; one or two complimentary specialty restaurant meals; and a welcome bottle of sparkling wine.

Of the 26 wheelchair-accessible cabins, five are inside, four are outside, eight are standard balconies, three are Concierge Class, and six are Sky Suites.

Cabin on Infinity consists of light woods and pastels, with added luxuries like little throw pillows on the sofas. Storage space is adequate for two people, with several closets for hanging clothing, small shelves next to the desk/vanity for books and other items, and two large cupboards under it. The only drawers are in the nightstands, which also have lamps attached to the top.

The bathrooms are large and well lit, with plenty of storage space for cosmetics and toiletries. Standard accommodations, Concierge Class and AquaClass cabins have roomy showers, while suites have whirlpool baths. There are wall-mounted hair dryers in the standard cabins; upper-category accommodations get handheld dryers, but there are no outlets for them in the bathrooms. You have to use them in the desk/vanity areas, which is kind of a pain if you aren't using that area for grooming.

There are two 110-volt outlets and two 220-volt outlets at the desk. If you bring a converter kit, you can convert one of the 220's to a 110 (or vice versa), giving you three outlets to use for sundry electronics like laptops, digital cameras and cell phone chargers.

Balconies in standard verandah staterooms are furnished with strapped chairs and small tables; Concierge Class and AquaClass balcony furniture has canvas pad covers, and suite passengers get a mix of mesh and wooden furniture.

Infinity's lido deck (Deck 10) has an inordinately large overhang toward the forward part of the ship and a series of angled overhangs toward the aft. They are so big that the ship was built with a row of stanchions that angle down from the overhangs. Rooms at the top level under the Resort Deck, therefore, get interrupted views and little sun. Although such rooms are great in almost all respects, they would be better with more sun and less interference with the outdoor vista. Also, while soundproofing is excellent from cabin to cabin, this is not the case with the ceilings, and being right under the pool deck can make for a noisy cruise.

All standard cabins come equipped with mini-bar fridges (for-fee), safes, telephones and interactive televisions with excellent programming (including CNN, ESPN, several movie channels, several in-house channels and TNT). The "interactive" part includes ordering room service (works well!), checking your daily bill balance and playing video slots and blackjack (for those who are bored and need to spend money gambling on a television).

Entertainment

Activities mostly follow cruise ship standards (art auctions, bad hair day seminars, vegetable carving, wine tastings, bingo and ballroom dance lessons). Celebrity's nightly theatrical performances, ranging from Broadway compilations to piano concertos, take place in the lovely three-deck Celebrity Theater and are generally well regarded. Shows include typical Vegas-style song-and-dance reviews alongside performances given by comedians and musical outfits.

Constellation, the forward-facing lounge at the top of the ship, is surrounded with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. It's used during the day as an observation station and for various activities. At night, it's turned into a dance club.

Deck 4 is also something of an entertainment hub. The Rendezvous Lounge, lined with windows opening onto the promenade, features dancing and karaoke. The Martini Bar and Crush, complete with ice-topped bar and juggling bartenders, make great pre-dinner cocktail spots.

The casino, located midship, seems impossibly small for a vessel of this size, but it gets the job done with a variety of slots and table games.

Michael's Club feels like a private men's club with cushy chairs, flat-screen televisions showing sports, and a bar stocked with more than 60 generic, international and craft beers, along with high-end Scotch and whiskey. Of course ladies are welcome. The piano, once a mainstay, has been removed, though a live guitarist may make an occasional appearance.

Up one deck is Cellar Masters, a wine tasting venue comprised of enomatic vino-dispensing machines. Taste wine on your own at any time or during a scheduled wine-tasting led by a sommelier.

Celebrity's enrichment and activity program, called Celebrity Life, is split into four categories -- Taste, Learn, Revive and Play -- but the terms aren't used in the daily Celebrity Today newsletter, and all the passenger sees is a variety of onboard programming. Taste activities include cooking demos and wine appreciation; Learn encompasses dance classes, language learning with Rosetta Stone, and computer skills workshops; Revive is just your typical fitness classes and spa seminars; and Play includes "Dancing with the Stripes" officer-and-passenger ballroom competition, trivia contests and pool games (weather permitting). Other activities include bingo, karaoke and Wii games.

Fitness and Recreation

Infinity's main pool area, located on Deck 10 midship, features cushioned loungers, day-beds and wooden accents. The pool itself is divided into a shallow end for dipping and a deeper end for swimming; a circular lounge area sits on a raised platform in the middle. Anyone who wants to swim laps can do so early in the morning before the pools get busy. There are four hot tubs, a bar and table tennis on the port side.

A jogging track and shuffleboard can be found one deck up on Deck 11, along with a basketball court on Deck 12 at the top of the ship.

The 25,000-square-foot AquaSpa, operated by Steiner, is a destination unto itself. The sprawling complex features a generous-enough work-out room with floor space for fitness classes, the AquaSpa Cafe, the thalassotherapy pool (free of charge to use), comfy seating areas, the spa service and treatment areas and a beauty shop.

Spa services at the Steiner of London-operated facility include facials, massages, wraps and scrubs with specials offered on shore days. More unusual options include the Bamboo Massage, where bamboo shoots of various sizes are rolled and used to massage muscles. Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Millennium. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. Celebrity Millennium has licensed doctors onboard and offers Restylane(R) and Perlane(R) treatments, as well as Botox.

Day-passes to the Persian Garden are free to AquaClass passengers and cost $20 per day for everyone else. (Cruise-long couples and singles passes can be purchased for a discount off the daily rate.) Spa services at the Steiner of London-operated facility include facials, massages, hair styling and nail treatments with specials offered on port days. More unusual options include the Bamboo Massage, where bamboo shoots of various sizes are rolled and used to massage muscles. Celebrity Millennium has licensed doctors onboard and offers Restylane(R) and Perlane(R) treatments, as well as Botox.

Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Millennium. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. A special acupuncture area is located on Deck 7 with four treatment rooms.

The fitness area offers the usual cardio machines and weights. In the aerobics space, abs workouts and stretching sessions are free, but classes in Pilates, spinning and yoga are offered with an additional fee of $12 per person (plus 15 percent gratuity). However, some of the best workouts onboard are to be found in the dance classes, which are offered free of charge.

Fellow Passengers

Celebrity Infinity passengers tend to be sophisticated, well-traveled adults in the 45 to 65 age range, and indeed, the Celebrity experience is ideal for the "baby boom" generation. Most of the passengers are North American, with Britain and other European countries represented.

Dress Code

The two levels of dress on Infinity are smart-casual and formal. Four- to six-night cruises have one formal night; seven- to eleven-night cruises have two; and Twelve- to fifteen-night cruises feature three. Infinity's passengers typically dress for the occasion, which means you'll see a fair share of suits and tuxedos on men, and cocktail dresses and gowns on women. T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and poolwear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants at any time. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the evening hours.

Gratuity

Celebrity automatically adds gratuities for your restaurant and cabin services to your onboard Seapass account on a daily basis in the following amounts: $11.50 per person, per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12 per person, per day, if you're in Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $15 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar bills.The 91,000-ton, 2,070-passenger Celebrity Infinity debuted in 2001 as the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' four-vessel Millennium-class series. Like near-identical sister ships Celebrity Millennium (2000), Celebrity Summit (2001) and Celebrity Constellation (2002), Infinity debuted with a bevy of once-novel features, including a two-story library, a retro ocean liner-themed alternative restaurant and a lovely bank of seaview glass elevators. These days, however, the Millennium quadruplets have been surpassed in size, amenities and technical innovation by Celebrity's grass-covered, partially solar powered Solstice-class ships.

To that end, Celebrity has invested heavily in refurbishing the series. Following a November 2011 dry-dock in the Bahamas, Celebrity Infinity emerged with a slew of Solstice-class dining venues, including Qsine (interactive comfort food), Blu (Mediterranean spa cuisine) and Bistro on 5 (creperie), a new iLounge computer lab, new balconies, as well as more than 100 new or redesigned spa cabins. (The ship also got more crowded -- 60 new cabins were added, bringing the double occupancy from 1,950 up to 2,070.)

Much has changed for the ship in the form of decor and onboard features, but Constellation's most visible alterations focus on the Deck 4 and 5 social hub, which forms a two-floor, shiplong link between the main dining room (aft) and theater (forward). The focus here is on casual food and drink options. The old Martini Bar has been replaced with a new version, a glowing green pod with a shaved ice-topped bar and juggling bartenders. Cellar Masters, a wine venue with self-service dispensary system, has replaced the original, staid Champagne Bar. Bistro on Five, a for-fee creperie that was a surprise hit on Solstice (and on Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection, the ships that followed), has been added to Deck 5. Infinity's old coffee bar has been redone, and the line has added a gelataria.

Despite these significant alterations, the ship still retains much of what has made it a fan favorite, stylistically, for more than a decade. The whimsical art, use of natural woods and lots of glass, especially in the stunning Solarium, have always lent Celebrity Infinity and its sisters an elegant, contemporary air. Those touches remains. So too does the high passenger-to-crew ratio, which has earned the line high marks for service. And at 2,070 passengers -- compared to 2,850 on the Solstice-class vessels -- those looking for a more intimate Celebrity experience will do well to consider the "mid-sized" Millennium class.

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