Duncan Writes

Adventures of a part-time traveller.

Iceland & Fjords

Sailing on Celebrity Infinity, June 2013

I won a free cruise!

10 June 2013

Some of you may know that I’m a relatively new but fairly active member of a popular cruising forum, Cruises.co.uk.  Incidentally, this forum is run by one of the UK’s biggest specialist cruise travel agents, Cruise.co.uk.  Last week they ran a competition of sorts where they wanted a forum member to go on a free cruise on Celebrity Infinity’s Iceland and Fjords cruise, leaving Harwich on the 24th June 2013.

I entered, thinking very little of my chances of winning, but last Monday I got the e-mail from the administrator telling me I’d been successful.  The dance of excitement that was performed was thankfully not caught on camera by those I was with at the time, and I’ve since had time to come back down to earth and start planning the holiday.

It’s not all fun though.  Part of the deal is that I have to keep a daily blog on the Cruises.co.uk forum and write a comprehensive review when I get back.  I don’t think that should be too taxing, given the reward!

For those interested in cruising, I’d thoroughly recommend checking out the forum; it’s a great source of information and the people are very friendly (if I do say so myself).  In fact the community helped me prepare for my first cruise, and has been an enjoyable hangout since then.

Anyway, you can all look forward to my new series of posts starting in a couple of weeks.

Read More

Celebrity Infinity – First Impressions

24 June 2013

As many of you will know, Alex and I are spending the next 11 nights on board Celebrity Infinity on the Iceland and Fjords cruise. Today we drove to Harwich International Port and did a little exploration of our home away from home for the next week or so.


Read More

Day At Sea #1

26 June 2013

Today is our first of four sea days on Celebrity Infinity. This is more sea days than we’ve ever had on a ship before (double than the previous record, in fact) so it should test the limits of Celebrity’s enrichment and activities programmes (otherwise known as their ability to keep us entertained!) Todays activities included a couple of guest speakers, some fun in the Constellation Lounge, some token exercise in the fitness centre, and lots and lots of food!


Breakfast Time

Slight embarrassment to start the day this morning. I decided that I fancied taking breakfast in the Trellis Restaurant (MDR on Infinity) which is over two decks. We arrived at the entrance on the lower deck to find a sign asking me to go upstairs where the restaurant was open for breakfast. More stairs… I’m getting hungry! I spotted a man at a podium and made a bee-line to get Alex and I seated. “Table for two please”, “Room number”, “3073”, “Ahhh yes Mr. Stevenson, please go to the Trellis Restaurant over the hall”… Cue my complete confusion!

As it happens, the Trellis Restaurant occupies the whole of the lower floor, but only one half of the upper floor. The remainder of the upper floor is dedicated to Blu, a spa-inspired restaurant for AquaClass guests only.

On arrival at the paupers entrance to the dining room, I was faced with a lengthy queue, so decided to take breakfast in the buffet after all. I’ll try again tomorrow!

The buffet restaurant on Celebrity Infinity is called “Oceanview Cafe” and is on Deck 10 at the back of the ship. It has food stations positioned around the internal walls, making it easy to navigate (in that you can walk in a circle and cover everything) but also quite tricky to decide what you want, as by the time you’ve made a complete circuit you’ve forgotten what you fancied!

Thankfully my demands for breakfast (a toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon) were met quickly and without visiting more than two adjacent stations. Food was pretty good for a buffet restaurant; the coffee was mediocre (watery American stuff) and the fruit juice was from a machine (in other words, stick with the Apple).

All in all a speedy start to the day, and we managed to find a table relatively quickly, eat, and leave for our first bout of sea-day edutainment!

Beyond the Podium – Jim Kennedy

Jim Kennedy was previously the director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre (the name is a coincidence, of course) and has now devoted his retired life to space advocacy. He will be doing a series of talks on this voyage, all centred around space and including stories from his long time at NASA.


The talk was very engaging, and included many stunning images taken from NASA’s Space Picture of the Day. He was a brilliant speaker and today gave a brisk history of space exploration, from the early adventures of both Russia and the US, to more recent multi-national ventures such as the International Space Station.

I can’t wait to hear more of his stories, and learn more about space travel and exploration. He’s a brilliant speaker and I’d recommend taking time out of your day if you see his name on one of your own cruises. The only downside was the technology in the Celebrity Theatre. Both sound and video cut out at one stage, and a technician had to get everything up and running again. This happened at a Behind the Podium session on our previous cruise too; I can’t understand why Celebrity can’t get this right, as they must do it on an almost daily basis! As Jim lost quite a few minutes to this technical malfunction, the second half of his talk was rather rushed as he clearly didn’t want to miss anything out!

A Taste of Infinity

Anyone that knows me will know that I love great food. I decided to attend the demonstration of the restaurants on board Infinity. There are three speciality restaurants on board – Qsine, SS United States, and Bistro on Five. All of these are on Celebrity Eclipse (although SS United States is called Murano on Eclipse, but looks to have an identical menu), and so I’ve dined in them all before.

So, why did I bother attending? Well, on Eclipse there were clearly issues filling the speciality restaurants, and at this presentation they were offering 50% off the cover charges for these restaurants. Today, however, they were only offering a 20% discount, and only on reservations for tonight. This was no use to us, so we decided to book the three dinner speciality package at $109 per person – a saving of 21% on the normal cover charge. This gives two visits to SS United States and one visit to Qsine.

In the mood for food, we decided to head to one of my favourite lunchtime hangouts from Eclipse, Bistro on Five. This casual crêperie offers fantastic food at a bargain basement $5 per head cover charge. Once again, the food was excellent. I don’t have any pictures this time, but you can be sure I’ll be back here several times before the cruise is over. You can hold me to that!

Beyond the Podium – Graham Sunderland

Those of you who followed my previous blog on Eclipse will know that this is the second time I’ve seen Graham on a cruise ship (I hope he doesn’t think I’m a stalker…) This time he gave a talk on Ocean Wanderers, which was basically a guide to the marine life that we might have a chance to see from the ship in the waters around Iceland.

It was a well delivered talk with lots of pictures; subtly dirty humour; and no technology malfunctions! Highly recommended.

Fitness Centre (Believe it or not…)

After a lazy afternoon of playing Carcassonne on the iPad, reading on the Kindle, and drowning in a sea of technology up in the Constellation Lounge (all while ignoring but enjoying the line dancing class that was going on in the background) I decided it was about time to get back on the fitness programme and have another go at some running. What better time to do some exercise than when cruising; we all know about the shrinking effect that the sea air can have on clothes, so I had better do something about it!

For those that don’t know, I’ve been trying to shift the pounds with a Couch to 5k programme. I had almost reached the end of week 2 when I hurt my knee, so I started week 2 again today in the Fitness Centre, which is part of the Spa on board Infinity, and situated right at the front of the ship with panoramic views out to sea. Unfortunately the treadmills, while facing the windows, are at such a height that you don’t get the majestic sea view that I was hoping for. Perhaps if I lost a couple of feet in height I’d have more luck. Nonetheless, I survived the ordeal and made it to dinner for our first formal night!

Formal Night at Dinner

To our surprise our just retired Hong Kong world travelling table companions were suspiciously absent this evening; undoubtedly enjoying one of the many other dining venues on Infinity (or perhaps just hiding in their cabin while everyone else got dressed up). We also discovered that our table for 6 is really a table for 4 in disguise, so we dined alone tonight.

Food was wonderful, and our service very attentive. Our waiters, sommelier, and drinks waitress remembered us from last night and took an interest in how we’d enjoyed the day. This is the sort of interested and attentive service that is not expected, but adds so much value to the experience and doesn’t cost a penny!

Tonight’s fare included a beautiful filet steak (done as close to blue as I’ve had on a cruise) and a beautiful filo pastry basket with fruit for desert. Combined with plenty of wine, we were happy. For those who need their daily dose of salivation, here are some photos. Alex’s main course, Duck a l’orange, is also pictured. I tried a little bit and it was very well cooked and really delicious! I forgot to snap my starter (salmon rilette) and soup (strawberry with lime cream) because I was hungry, and the wine had already taken it’s toll on my memory. Either that or it was fatigue from the exercise I endured earlier (pick your excuse).

Celebrate the World – Celebrity Theatre

Before the show we were introduced to the ship’s master, Captain Michael Sympouras, and his senior officers. There was a toast to the voyage, then the show began.


Well, tonight’s show was hot with a capital HOT! And by that, I mean that the Celebrity Theatre was like an oven and I felt like a Sunday roast. Nonetheless, the show was quite good fun, with a compilation of music and dance from around the world. There’s no doubt that these guys are talented and have some fantastic direction. It wasn’t as good as last night’s show, but I’m certainly not disappointed.

After such a busy day at sea, we’re absolutely knackered so it’s off to bed for us. Tomorrow we’re docking in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. We don’t have much of a plan yet, so stay tuned to see how we get on!

If you haven’t already done so, click the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of my blog and you’ll get an e-mail every time I post a new entry.

Read More

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

26 June 2013

Today we were docked in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands from 10:00 until 18:00. We explored the city, lay by the pool for some of the afternoon (more reading) and enjoyed some comedy from Wales followed by dinner in S.S. United States.


Read More

Day At Sea #2

27 June 2013

Today is our second of four days at sea on Celebrity Infinity, and the copy of Celebrity Today (the newsletter that gives a rundown of all the activities and events throughout the ship) looked quite promising so we had high hopes for an action packed day at sea. Find out how we got on in todays entry!


Read More

Reykjavik, Iceland

29 June 2013

Today we docked very early in Reykjavik, Iceland where we will be staying until 1pm tomorrow. We decided to do a full-day ‘Golden Circle’ tour today, and explore on our own tomorrow until the ship leaves. We had another dinner with the couple living in Spain, and an after-dinner show involving our Activities Manager doing Derren Brown style magic. We even found time to crack out the Kindle before dinner with a lovely cold drink!


Read More

Reykjavik, Iceland (2)

30 June 2013

Today we left Reykjavik to start our journey towards the next port of call in Iceland, Akureyri, but not before having a few more hours to exploring Iceland’s capital. We also enjoyed a few more activities on board Infinity, as well as dining in Qsine, Infinity’s other speciality restaurant.


Read More

Akureyri, Iceland

01 July 2013

Today we were docked for half a day in Akureyri, Iceland where we had some lunch and a good walk around to help burn off some of the food we’ve been indulging in. Leaving at 2pm, we also had plenty of time to relax, read and take in another Beyond the Podium presentation before our evening’s entertainment and dinner.


Read More

Day At Sea #3

02 July 2013

Today was our third of four days at sea on the Beautiful Celebrity Infinity. By the way, I can’t know for sure, but having listened to over a week’s worth of announcements and introductory patter from JC (cruise director) and other members of staff, I’m now convinced that the official name of this vessel is ‘The Beautiful Celebrity Infinity’. Just saying…

Anyway today was a little rough at sea; probably the roughest day we’ve had actually. Alex wasn’t feeling too great in the morning, although was better after taking a tablet at lunch time. I enjoyed a couple of talk in the theatre, a sushi making demonstration, and (to satisfy JC, Liverpool) sampled the late night entertainment to find out what you can expect if you want to stay awake into the wee hours.


Read More

Geiranger, Norway

03 July 2013

Today we arrived at about 10:30 in Geiranger, Norway. This is the first time we’ve now been able to dock in a port, so we experience tender operations on board. In Geiranger, we bought a DIY tour on the day, enjoyed lunch ashore, and had a catastrophe too!


Read More

Bergen, Norway

04 July 2013

Today we docked in rainy Bergen. Bergen is known for it’s very frequent rain, and today was no exception – we were treated to the full wet Bergen experience. Having been in Bergen in May of this year, we thought we’d try something different. You can read about that here.

We ended up in the Hanseatic museum in the morning, then looking round the old Hanseatic area in Bergen. We had some lunch at a superb local eatery, then rejoined the ship for an afternoon nap and some blog writing before our final formal night! My opening photo tonight is the same as the one I used in my previous post about Bergen, but I love this statue so much that I’m going to use it again!


Read More

Day At Sea #4

04 July 2013

Today was our last of four sea days, and our final full day on Celebrity Infinity, bringing our lovely 11 night Iceland & Fjords cruise to an end. We had quite a relaxing day today, and didn’t really take part in many of the activities. We did enjoy the famous Brunch, saw the last of Jim Kennedy’s talks and bid farewell to our table companions for the last time. *Awwwwww*


Read More

Celebrity Infinity – Disembarkation

05 July 2013

Tonights entry will be a short (OK… I just finished and it’s not so short…) post covering the disembarkation procedure in use on Celebrity Infinity, along with some comments on the end of cruise experience at Harwich International Port.  There aren’t any photos (sorry!)  At the request of some forum members, I will also talk a little bit more about my workflow used while doing this blogging cruise, and some things to consider when deciding whether to go for any future blogging cruises offered by Cruise.co.uk

Read More