Cruising the Panama Canal – Embarkation Day

The following is a travelogue of the our journey from the Los Angeles, California to Miami, Florida via the Panama Canal almost one year ago. If you’re at all interested or thinking of a cruise I hope that my adventures will help you make that decision. This travelogue was written for a cruising web site. I have made a few edits to hopefully make things a little clearer for this Blog.

Well the day of embarkation had arrived. I was up early today, a victim of the east coast to west coast time change. I was ok with the early morning though as I wanted to make sure I was up to see the ships arriving into Port. As you saw in my last post, I see the Infinity arriving around 4:30 a.m.  A few hours later, two more ships arrived. One was the RC Mariner of the Seas and the other Crystal Symphony. As I watched the ships arrive I have to admit it always makes me feel a bit bad for those on board… I hate that feeling of having to get off the ship and knowing the trip is over.  However on this day, ours was about to begin. The photographs below are some shots I took of the ships arriving and docked in port.  Each was taken from the window of my hotel room. The view was magnificent.

Around 5:30 A.M, I headed out on a run, in the rain (only negative I have on the Crowne Plaza is that they didn’t have any treadmills and the bikes were broken). I had a good close up of the ships in Port while out and the excitement began to build.  I paused from my run as I stopped to look at each of these floating resorts. This early in the morning the port was already alive with activity.

After a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel (we figured we might as well start the buffet’s early), we headed for the Cruise Terminal around 10:45 am. The hotel offered a shuttle and we were dropping our bags with the Porters at the terminal about 10 minutes later. The embarkation process started off just fine. We walked into the terminal and filled out some paperwork, then stood in line for the registration process. After about 15 minutes in line, we had our sea passes (room keys) and were through the security check. Then the process came to a grinding halt! The time now was around 11:25. We had hoped that we would be on the ship by noon, but for some reason everyone was sent to the waiting area and we sat for the next hour and a half (about) by the time our zone was called. We were Zone 8. if you have not cruised before, some cruise lines (not all) give you a zone number for boarding, much like on a flight. I never really heard what the problem was but this did put a slight damper on the excitement, but only for a few minutes. After all, we were about to embark on 14 days of adventure and excitement. One positive however was that we were able to get right into our rooms once we were on board.  No waiting for the room to be available.  Once the call to board began… the process was very quick and as first time cruisers on Celebrity we were very pleased with the towels and Champagne provided as we embarked.  The following are the photographs taken as we boarded. Once on the ship, we headed up to the Lido deck and the buffet and our first of many drinks (well second if you count the Champagne).

After a bite to eat and a few drinks we decided we needed to familiarize ourselves with this ship. I will go into more detail on the rooms and lounges on the ship as the review goes on, but I must say I was very impressed with the Celebrity Infinity. IMHO she is a beautiful ship. We were a bit concerned with some of the reviews we had read prior to our trip, but I did not witness any sights or issues that would leave me to say she was not in great shape. Of course, she could use a refit (and has had one since we were on), but overall, I wouldn’t say anything looked worn or damaged. When you consider the number of people and crew that live on her each week she was in great shape!

Now we have had balcony rooms and ocean view rooms before when we have cruised. We had booked an inside room for this cruise. We were on the Vista Deck and our room number was #7075. The room was extremely clean and well-kept. Our room steward was Peter and he was fabulous. Always around when we were in the hall and very attentive to whatever we may have needed. I was very impressed and have to admit, of all my cruises I saw Peter more than I have ever seen any room steward in the past.  Inside staterooms have two twin beds that can be converted to a queen-sized bed, considerable closet space, a private bathroom with shower, as well as a sitting area with desk, vanity, and sofa bed. Each stateroom also has it’s own 20 inch interactive television, 24 hour room service, complimentary use of bathrobe, individual safe, direct dial telephone, thermostat-controlled air conditioning, and mini bar. They are about 170 sq.ft.

 

After checking out our room we headed for the dreaded lifeboat drill. I have to admit that I am very glad they don’t make us go out on deck anymore and stand while the drill takes place. For this cruise, we headed for the Celebrity Theater to watch the drill. After this, we met our friends in the Constellation Lounge for the sail away. Of course, it was dark and you could not really see that much however on this night, the moon lit up the sky.  This would be a good sign of things to come.

After sail away, we decided to go and see the “Welcome Aboard” show at 7 pm. We had the 8:30 dinner seating so we had the time to see this. I must mention that I was very impressed with the shows on the Infinity. The entertainment team did a great job. The opening show, was an introduction of things to come. Tonight’s show featured the Celebrity Orchestra, Adage artists Charlie and Viola, who did some amazing acrobats, The Acappella Group On Tap, and the Infinity production cast. This was a very exciting and faced pace show. It really did set the stage for things to come. Here are a few pictures from that show.

After the show we headed for dinner. The Trellis Dining Room is a beautiful room and the food was even better. We ended up with a great table of 11 people. We would enjoy each others company throughout the next 14 days.  Our first day on the Infinity, ended in the Constellation Lounge for some dancing and a few more drinks.  We would end almost everyday the rest of the trip in this lounge . All in all,  the first day onboard Infinity was a great start to our cruise… a sense of sadness crept in as we turned in for the night… Only 13 days left!

Well that’s it for today… Tomorrow is our first day at sea! We would spend much of it in this area….

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