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On the vast majority of our cruises, there tends to be a flight involved to reach the ship. This trip has followed that trend with us flying with British Airways on their direct service to Buenos Aires. We departed from Heathrow at 10:30pm on Thursday which was 20 minutes later than scheduled and flew through the night. It was quite a bumpy ride and I found it difficult to sleep, I did manage doze on and off for 5 hours so it wasn’t all bad. I also found there wasn’t space for my carry on case near my seat so it got upgraded not to Premium Economy but to Business! I firmly believe that I should have gone too but it wasn’t to be.
Flying is a necessary evil if you want to see the worlds far flung places and fortunately it’s something we don’t mind doing as for us it’s all part of the cruise process. No pain, no gain as they say. And talking of no pain, we were met in arrivals by Pip who had travelled from Johannesburg to join us and she had arrived Thursday evening just as we were leaving the UK. Her journey involved first flying to Dubai with a 2 hour connection before catching the the flight to Buenos Aires. The last leg taking 19 hours where there was yet another stop, this time at Rio De Janeiro and unfortunately she had to stay on the plane to whole time. The whole trip taking over 30 hours. That’s dedication for you!
Today is also Nicole’s birthday so it was nice treat for her to have her mum, eldest daughter and me together for the start of this adventure.
We arrived 10 minutes behind schedule which was due to 4 other large planes all converging at the same time. This had a knock on effect with immigration which took around 30 minutes to clear. Once through we picked up our cases and went on search of our transport to the hotel. We have booked in at the Intercontinental for 2 nights and have plenty of ideas for things we want to see but will maybe decide when we have had some proper food and a good night’s sleep laid flat in a bed.

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We are all feeling the effects of getting here and to be honest will all grab an early night.
After a really tasty lunch we spent the remainder of the afternoon sat out in hotel terrace while partaking in some liquid refreshments. I think the temperature hit 30°C which is in complete contrast to what we left behind.
At the time of writing we have still to make our minds up what to do tomorrow.
Everyone else turned in really early but I decided to go for a wander just to help stay up just that bit longer. I managed almost a length of the Avenue De Mayo before returning to the hotel for just a couple of beers. Time for some shut eye.

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This cruise was inspired by my mother in laws desire to go back to Antarctica to see the penguins, ever since she took a cruise circumnavigating South America in 2010 on board ms Prinsendam she has often reminisced with us about how amazing it was to see these little black and white flightless birds as they passed through the region. So while we were on a cruise in the Caribbean in January 2016 we received a flier in our cabin advertising an Antarctic itinerary. It caught our attention straight away because it was in our price range, so after speaking to the Future Cruise Sales Team on-board we decided to take the plunge and booked it there and then as a surprise. Our little plan was very favourably received and then to complete our line-up we were later joined by Nicole’s eldest daughter Pip who seized her opportunity to fill the empty bed in Maria’s cabin.

A cold climate cruise is a completely new venture for us so we have been busy researching what to wear while in the Antarctic area, the advice seems to indicate that layers are the way to go. This little saying caught my eye while reading a review.

There is no bad weather in the Antarctica, there is just inappropriate clothing!

However, it won’t all be cold because while also looking at the temperatures for Buenos Aires at that time of year we have discovered it should be very hot and humid so we will need to pack for the heat as well.

Celebrity Infinity is also a new ship for us, we have been on her sister Celebrity Constellation but only the once and just for a couple of nights. I am looking forward to cruising on one of Celebrity’s older ships and having the chance to compare it to with our favourites in the Solstice class.

We don’t actually set foot on Antarctica as this cruise is merely a sail past which last two days and it is an opportunity that we could not let pass by. I am hoping to be able to utilise the zoom lens on my camera to capture what promises to be some amazing scenery.

 

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Sunday, January 21, 2018 Buenos Aires, Argentina 5:00PM
Monday, January 22, 2018 At Sea
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 At Sea
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 At Sea
Thursday, January 25, 2018 Ushuaia, Argentina 9:00AM 9:00PM
Friday, January 26, 2018 Cape Horn, Chile 6:00AM 8:00AM
Saturday, January 27, 2018 Schollart Channel, Antarctica 11:00AM 1:00PM
Saturday, January 27, 2018 Paradise Bay, Antarctica 2:00PM 4:00PM
Saturday, January 27, 2018 Gerlache Strait, South America 5:00PM 7:00PM
Sunday, January 28, 2018 Elephant Island, Antarctica 2:00PM 6:00PM
Monday, January 29, 2018 At Sea
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 Port Stanley, Falkland Islands 8:00AM 5:00PM
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 At Sea
Thursday, February 1, 2018 Puerto Madryn, Argentina 7:00AM 4:30PM
Friday, February 2, 2018 At Sea
Saturday, February 3, 2018 Montevideo, Uruguay 9:00AM 4:30PM
Sunday, February 4, 2018 Buenos Aires, Argentina 5:00AM

We have a pair of cabins right next to each other and all being well will be able to open them up into one large one like we did on the Baltic cruise on Celebrity Eclipse. We are in 7176 while Maria and Pip are in 7174 and they are located towards the aft of the ship very close to the stair and elevator lobby.

I set off in the hope that I will be able to make a post every day but given the area we are travelling the internet might well be rather poor due to the satellite connections and I have in fact read a few stories where on previous cruises it has been almost useless so we will just have to wait and see and be optimistic about it.


Well that was the plan up until a week before we set sail, on the Saturday before we left we received an email from Celebrity informing us of an itinerary change due to a propulsion problem with the ship.

Due to a technical issue with the ship’s propulsion system, as a precaution, we will have to reduce our maximum speed by a few knots. We assure you, there is no safety issue with the vessel; however, due to the speed reduction, we have to modify our itinerary. Some ports of call will have shortened visit times, while some will have more time.

We also had to remove our visit to Puerto Madryn, Argentina from the itinerary. Due to the cancellation of this port of call, we are issuing each guest a refund in the amount equal to one day of your vacation.

So reading between the lines we will now leave Buenos Aires half an hour earlier and arrive at Ushuaia 5 hours later than previously scheduled losing 4 hours of port time.

We pass Cape Horn at a slightly more sociable hour but have a whole sea day crossing the Drake Passage so lets hope its the Drake Lake we cross.

Port Stanley is now a day later but we do get an extra 3 hours there and we have lost Puerto Madryn from the itinerary completely which is a little disappointing.

And an extra 30 minutes at Montevideo which will make all the difference…..

Our revised itinerary is as follows with the changes in yellow.

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Sunday, January 21, 2018 Buenos Aires, Argentina 4:30PM
Monday, January 22, 2018 At Sea
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 At Sea
Wednesday, January 24, 2018 At Sea
Thursday, January 25, 2018 Ushuaia, Argentina 2:00PM 11:59PM
Friday, January 26, 2018 Cape Horn, Chile 9:00AM 10:30AM
Saturday, January 27, 2018 At Sea
Sunday, January 28, 2018 Schollart Channel, Antarctica 7:30AM 8:30AM
Sunday, January 28, 2018 Paradise Bay, Antarctica 10:30AM 12:30AM
Sunday, January 28, 2018 Gerlache Strait, South America 1:30PM 3:30PM
Monday, January 29, 2018 Elephant Island, Antarctica  10:30AM  2:30PM
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 At Sea
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Port Stanley, Falkland Islands  7:00AM  7:00PM
Thursday, February 1, 2018 At Sea
Friday, February 2, 2018 At Sea
Saturday, February 3, 2018 Montevideo, Uruguay 8:00AM 4:30PM
Sunday, February 4, 2018 Buenos Aires, Argentina 5:00AM

We have since discovered they are concerned about vibration on one of the azipods and will do further investigating when the ship gets back to Buenos Aires.

So all we need to do now is get to Argentina to join the ship.

Last night pretty much followed the same routine as the night before, Diamond Lounge then dinner so once again no show in the theatre for us. Not that we religiously go every night while onboard and anyway it’s just we would rather be doing other things instead. I think the first night was a comedian, then a Take That tribute show and I believe last night was Grease which we had seen on Harmony of the Seas last year.
Cases were out by 11:00 and it was then time for some shut eye which seemed to go really quickly because the next thing we were aware of were the sounds of dockside activities at around 6:00 this morning.
Neither of us felt like breakfast this morning so we decided to lie in for an extra hour and just grab a coffee before getting off.

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We have enjoyed the last few days but without the Diamond status perks, I think its fair to say Royal Caribbean would not be one of our immediate choices to cruise with and out of the ones we have sailed with they might not even make it as high as 5th place on that list. We feel their modern ships are too big and in our opinion don’t have much connection to the seas as there are virtually no windows looking out in the public spaces on the lower decks of the ship. Many loyal RCI cruisers seem to love the Royal Promenade with its avenue of shops and bars but it’s a pain to walk through when busy as there are so many pinch points.

We liked the cabin which was very roomy with lots of storage and although the food started off pretty good it tailed off over this short cruise. We became very aware of a high salt content in the meals which was very evident to us even after just three nights.

Just to conclude then, we don’t believe their product is for us however that’s not to say we will never sail with them again as who knows what’s around the corner……..

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Picking up from where I left off yesterday, we left the cabin at 6:30 and headed once again for the Diamond Lounge for pre dinner drinks. It was much quieter last night as the first dinner sitting had already left and our drinks steward Fernando was constantly in attendance frequently topping our glasses to the extent I had no idea how many glasses I’d consumed.
We once again enjoyed the company of new friends and stayed until it was time to eat. It was a formal evening and I have to say the dress code was pretty much respected by everyone, there were the few exceptions but it was generally a good show by all.
We arrived at Zeebrugge just after 9:00 local time and took breakfast in the Windjammer which was virtually empty when we arrived. It soon filled up but we were pretty much done by then so I would say we had our timing spot on today.

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One grumble I have is I really can’t see the logic in having two time zones, it confuses the hell out of us at times, in particular when you have to get on and off the ship.
Anyway back to today, we have visited Zeebrugge on two previous occasions but have never ventured into Bruges itself so today we decided to put that right. With a little bit of research prior to sailing we eventually decided to pre-book coach shuttle tickets with a company called Cruise Express. A return ticket costing just €20 per person and all we had to do was just get to the pickup point. This was achieved by simply hopping on the free shuttle from the ship which drops you at the port gates and then a very short walk to the bus stop. From there it was a 30 minute ride to the drop off and pick up point. We timed our arrival with one of the ships coaches and all of a sudden there was this funny sort of race being run with 80 or so people all heading into town.

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We spent about 3½ hours all told wandering around the must see sights and found it a really pleasant place to visit. One place that we paid entry into was called Historium which is a historical-experience attraction that takes you back in time to the Golden Age of Bruges.
They cleverly take you back to medieval Bruges using cinematic sets, with music and special effects that take you through a love story, based on Jan Van Eyck’s painting ‘Virgin and Child. It’s all very well done and we very much enjoyed the experience.

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There are chocolate, lace & beer shops a plenty and we eventually caved in and parted with a few Euros in exchange for some of the local chocolate. Very hard to say no and the longer you are there the weaker your resistance becomes.
After that we had a spot of lunch before gently wandering back to the coach pick up spot and we were fortunate to just catch the 3:00 bus.
Back on board before 3:45 where we enjoyed some down time prior to our last night onboard.
We have to be off by 8:30 tomorrow morning so it won’t be a late night.

Early evening we ended up going to the Diamond Lounge which is an exclusive area for members of the Royal Caribbean loyalty scheme that have attained a certain level. The drinks were plentiful and company excellent so we ended up not going to the show as we had originally planned.
We stayed until just after 8:00 giving ourselves enough time to get changed for dinner before heading down to deck 4 to eat.
I have heard complaints about the food on Royal Caribbean but there was nothing wrong with last night’s fare. It’s by no means high end cuisine but considering it’s mass produced then it was very acceptable indeed.
Our departure was delayed until 10:00 last night and we were back in the cabin as we left Southampton.
The short crossing to France was a little wobbly last night and neither of us slept that well.
This morning we arrived at Le Havre at just before 8:30 but didn’t actually dock until gone 9:00. For some reason the decision has been made not to adopt the local time and for the duration of this cruise we will remain on UK (ships) time.

So at 10:00 we made our way to the Windjammer which is where we considered would be the best place for Nicole to find something to eat. It was the right decision and she managed to eat really well. It was a really busy venue this morning and we thought that maybe there were not many going to get off today.

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The weather forecast for today wasn’t very clever and when we got back to the cabin it was pouring down so a quick check of the rainfall radar showed it would clear so we set off for a stroll round Le Havre. We have been here a few times and all we ever intended to do today was just walk which is precisely what we did. Shuttle service provided by the local authorities cost €4 and was valid all day. We spent about 2½ hours wandering around before catching the bus back and just in time for a spot of lunch.

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Despite the weather first thing the afternoon turned out really nice and even the wind dropped. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring parts of the ship we hadn’t already been to and then retired to the cabin for a couple of hours down time. It’s a formal night tonight so it will be interesting to see who wears what……

From about Wednesday on the Met Office began issuing weather warnings for today with strong winds and large waves being predicted along the south coast as Storm Brian arrives the UK. As a result, we set off from home not really sure what was going to happen. Our aim was to leave home around 10:00 and arrive at around mid-day which in the end turned out okay. The winds weren’t as strong as we anticipated and we arrived at 12:15. The only hold up being the queue of traffic wanting to get into IKEA. We had a swift check in courtesy of our Diamond status and the whole process from car to ship took about 40 minutes. Cabins were made available at 1:00 so we did a lap of the Windjammer before going off to investigate our lodgings for the next 3 nights.
We are pleased with our cabin, it has plenty of storage with plenty of space and has a good sized balcony.

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With stomachs rumbling we went back to the Windjammer for a bite to eat, Nicole was disappointed to see there were no food labels displaying allergens but there was a separate gluten free area. As is usual on the first day it was extremely busy and tables were not easy to find.
With batteries charged we set off to explore the ship and find our table in the dining room. We have a table for two in the Macbeth Dining Room which isn’t in too bad a position. Our table number is 111 and we were surprised to see there are four tables all labelled 111.

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Muster was at 3:45 and held outside on the prom deck. That was a surprise to say the least and it was after that we learned that due to the weather the itinerary had been altered. We are still going to both port’s but just doing them in reverse order.

Not had it confirmed yet but we also believe are departure time has been put back to allow the weather to improve.

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I’m signing off now for today to go and seek some liquid refreshments.

Had we not received 50% of our fare back in the form of two credit certificates from our Harmony of the Seas cruise in May 2016 then we would not be taking this cruise. With little time off from work left for the year and with the credit certificates use-by deadline fast approaching we picked this little 3 night taster cruise so that they didn’t go to waste.
However I do wonder what awaits us given that this sailing takes place during school half term and I have some concerns that potentially the ship could well be overrun with kids, and not to mention the prospect of numerous travel agents all out on a jolly because they seem to use these short cruises to try the product out. We have therefore decided to go on the premise that its nothing ventured nothing gained in a bid to appease our concerns and after all a cruise is a cruise!

Please don’t get me wrong because as we are still very much looking forward to getting onboard a ship and specifically one that will be completely unfamiliar to us as its a class of ship we have not sailed before.
This 3 night taster cruise starts and finishes in Southampton and visits the ports of Le Harve and Zeebrugge and at both places we aim to get out and do plenty of walking.

DATE LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Saturday, October 21, 2017 Southampton, England 04:30 PM
Sunday, October 22, 2017 Zeebrugge, Belgium 07:00 AM 05:00 PM
Monday, October 23, 2017 Le Harve, France 08:00 AM 10:00 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Southampton, England 05:30 AM

Our cabin selection was dead easy, because we had left it so late making the decision to go all the balconies had sold out, however all was not lost because I received a e-mail notification from the Cruisefish website informing us D3’s were back on sale, (Cruisefish is a cruise monitoring system that for a small fee will keep a check on prices for you, it sends e-mail alerts when prices drop, go up or even when category’s become available or sell out).  We quickly contacted one of our agents who responded by securing the one and only cabin which had just become available again. As luck would have it, the position is pretty much in the location we would liked anyway so we are more than happy with the result and because of the credits we bagged it for half price.

Fingers crossed Storm Brian doesn’t hamper our plans too much…………..

We had a great nights sleep and didn’t wake up until gone 7:30 this morning. When we pulled the curtains it was daylight outside we were able to see the surrounding area better and our room had a facing view of one of the runways so were able to watch the planes take off and land while laid in bed. We opened our room door to this view first thing.

Our package included breakfast which was in the form of a buffet and there was quite a varied selection available including many local dishes.
Having eaten as much as we could we made our way down to the pool where we found ourselves a couple of sunbeds and spent the best part of the day just basking in the sun. This hotel really has the most amazing pool, it’s been just perfect to relax by in preparation for the last leg of our journey. The only break I took from this blissful existence was when I briefly wandered outside to get a photo of the hotel exterior, it’s so unusual that I thought it warranted a special trip to take it.

Normal check out time at the hotel was 2:00 and as our flight departs at 11:30 we enquired about keeping the room a little longer, unfortunately this wasn’t an option so we made the decision to extend our booking for an extra night so we could have the room up until​ the last minute. This allowed us to go back and shower at our leasure and it also meant we could stay out by the pool until the sun had gone from view.

Because we are departing from terminal 3 it’s only a brief walk to the departures​ hall so it will help​ cut down the waiting time actually in the airport itself. It just made so much sense for us to do it.

So with the last few moments of free hotel WiFi I will just sign off by saying until the next time……..

Our flight from Sydney to Singapore went without any problems, the flight itself on a Singapore Airlines A380 took just 7 hours and 25 minutes and we touched down at 8:35 pm local time.It got a little bit bumpy in places but nothing too dramatic.
We had elected not to do the 4 hour wait in the airport for the next and longer leg of the trip and instead booked a room at the Crowne Plaza at Changi Airport. Because we got in so late and with a 3 hour time difference we opted for a hotel at the airport to maximise the rest.
We were due to land at terminal 3 but a last minute change saw us go to terminal 2 which took us 6 minutes longer to get to the hotel. As it was dark on arrival we weren’t able to get a view of the outside of the hotel but the room itself is very spacious and has a large glass wall around the bathroom, not to worry though as we discovered a roller blind on the bathroom side to mask the activities you really don’t want to share with others.
We had a brief stroll round in the dark, found the bar had a quick drink and used the free WiFi to check in for the next flight. It was then back to the room and after a quick shower we hit the sack for the night. I can’t wait to see this hotel in the daylight, the photos I have seen on the internet look very interesting.

 

After listening to the sea pass reader bonging all passengers off from the previous two cruises it was now our turn for the final bong.

Before that though we managed breakfast in the MDR which is a bit of a ritual for us on the last morning.

By 8:30 we were off the ship and outside the terminal getting picked up by the driver for our morning tour around Manley and surrounding area before being dropped off at the airport for our flight to Singapore.

We had a fantastic last morning and got even more photos of Sydney from yet another perspective.

We are now at the airport and just waiting to board the plane. It’s a real luxury to have a decent speed internet connection.

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