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My wife & I went on the first cruise and we have the following comments: 1. The food was ok, but not great. The Olympic Dining room is great and sign up for that asap. 2. DO NOT BOOK A CABIN ON THE 9th floor. Everyone there moved ... Read More
My wife & I went on the first cruise and we have the following comments: 1. The food was ok, but not great. The Olympic Dining room is great and sign up for that asap. 2. DO NOT BOOK A CABIN ON THE 9th floor. Everyone there moved because the insulation is so poor that they sit under the kitchen and you hear the clean up for the midnight buffet until 2 am. 3. Our phone in the room never worked and couldn't be repaired. 4. The ship vibrates on when you are leaving or entering a port. 5. The service is excellent. 6. The tour to Berlin is nice but you only get 2 hours in the am and 2 hours after lunch. However, it is a whirlwind and worth it. Read Less
This is my review of our family's recent cruise on the inaugural sailing of the Celebrity Millennium from July 1, 2000 to July 15, 2000. It's a little long, but once I started I couldn't stop. Previous Cruises: This was my ... Read More
This is my review of our family's recent cruise on the inaugural sailing of the Celebrity Millennium from July 1, 2000 to July 15, 2000. It's a little long, but once I started I couldn't stop. Previous Cruises: This was my fourth cruise overall, and second with Celebrity. For the rest of my family, it was their second cruise, both with Celebrity. We sailed the Mercury in Alaska together, and I traveled on the Grand Princess to the Mediterranean Sea and the Voyager of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. Because I had sailed on several of the newest and arguably the best ships out there, I have a pretty good basis for comparison. As I am leaving for college on the other side of the country this fall, this was to be our last big family vacation. We kept our fingers crossed that we would not get canceled and fortunately we were not. We originally intended to avoid the inaugural sailing but as you will soon find out, that was not a problem at all! Pre-Cruise: All of our hotel and air arrangements were made without using Celebrity. We bought Air France tickets for $1000 (for 5 people) less than any other airline and more than $1500 less than what Celebrity was asking. We also found hotel rooms to be much cheaper when booking on our own. We departed Houston on June 26 and went to Paris for four days prior to boarding the ship in Amsterdam. This worked out extremely well for us, because we had excellent weather and were able to see a great deal of a city with countless sights to visit. It was very high priced but we found it to be well worth cost. Also, the extra time allowed us to adjust to the seven hour time change that we encountered over there. One recommendation I would give to anyone going on a cruise, particularly in Europe, is to arrive at least a day early. In Europe it is necessary unless you want to waste the first day or two of the cruise sleeping, and it allows for any unexpected delays. Finally on July 1, we headed for the airport to fly to Amsterdam. It is only a 40 minute flight, but we had a three hour delay causing us to arrive in Amsterdam around 1:00. We found our bags and took the transfer bus to the terminal. Embarkation: We were fortunate enough to be Captain's Club members, which made this process go by very smoothly. We had a separate line and check in agents, and we had to wait in NO lines. Others sat in the terminal for what appeared to be an hour or two, and this alone made the $35 worth it. We were on the boat within 15 minutes of arriving. When we arrived in our cabins we found our excursion tickets on the desk next to our dinner seating change to late-a very pleasant surprise and less for us to worry about. Cabins: We had two cabins, both cat. 1B staterooms, both midship, 8108 and 8129, with private (or so we thought) verandas. Room 8108 is right next to a Celebrity suite and for some reason the balcony is only 2/3 the size of standard balconies and looks right into those floor-to-ceiling glass windows. We could have made this an issue but we had the other balcony and eventually realized it was not that big of deal anyway. Other than that little difference, the rooms were identical. The room had a very large amount of storage...enough for 3 people to easily store two weeks of clothes. The bathrooms were the largest I have had in a cabin, although I wish the Voyager's sliding plastic doors would catch on instead of the standard shower curtain. All in all we were very satisfied with our rooms. The Ship: Having been on the Voyager just weeks before, I looked forward to comparing the two ships. However, the two are so different that it would be unfair to compare them. The Millennium is without a doubt the most elegant ship I have seen and gave me a sense of being in more of a "formal" environment. You board the ship on deck 3 at the bottom of the Grand Foyer. This a nice and cozy entrance where you are greeted with white-glove service and taken to the glass elevators. This is the central point of the ship and plays host to the Captain's welcome party and other gatherings. From here on deck 3, you can go to the Olympic (more on that later), the movie theater (which was not complete), the guest relations desk, and the excursion desk. On deck 4, the Grand Foyer is home to the Internet cafe and card tables, as well as the entrance to Fortunes, the ship's casino. This was a very well done room, and in keeping with the tradition of cruise ships, had VERY tight slots. The tables were a little better, though there was only one craps table. Deck 5 of the Grand Foyer has a coffee bar and a tea room. The public lounges were all very well decorated and each had its own unique decor. The Rendez-Vous Lounge on deck 4 was home to many trivia games, pre and post dinner dancing, and karaoke. Interestingly, it had a hole in the center which made it and the Platinum Club share entertainment. For this reason, the Platinum Club rarely had all that many people in it since everyone would just go to the Rendez-Vous Lounge. Both were great places to be both before and after dinner. Cosmos up top was the other main lounge, offering bingo, dancing, wine tasting, private functions, etc. It was also a nice, quiet place to watch the scenery and read a book without worrying about the weather outside. At night, this room turned into the ship's disco, however this was not a very big draw due to the average age on board the ship. Almost all of the teens gathered here at night because the teen disco had been changed into a flower shop. The Celebrity Theater is home to the ship's main entertainment and is a beautiful room complete with artificial torches that are very cool. The entrances are on decks 4 and 5 in the front of the ship. The Emporium on deck 5, Millennium's shopping area, is by far the best on any ship. Popular names sold here include DKNY, Nautica, and Fossil to name a few. Also for sale is Celebrity logo merchandise and duty free items (alcohol and cigarettes). Michael's Club on deck 4 is a nice room, though I only went in once just to look. The photo gallery is right next to Michael's and is very well laid out. The main dining room, the Metropolitan, is home to the majority of the sit down meals you eat while on board. It is a well decorated room with large windows looking out the back of the ship. Interestingly, the crew does not like it, as the tables are close together and the kitchen is on deck 3, forcing the waiters to take trays up an escalator or worse, the stairs. The Ocean Grill and Ocean Cafe served buffet style food for breakfast and lunch, as well as other times such as buffets. Both were beautiful dining areas, though tables were sometimes hard to come by. The Riviera Pool area was nice, but not too crowded, because it was often too cold to go swimming. Deck chairs could always be found, but I'm sure this will change once it gets to the Caribbean. Though I couldn't use it due to a cast on my arm, the Aquaspa pool saw heavy use because it is covered. Chairs were always occupied in here as were the pool and hot tubs. Other than the weight room, I did not look around the Aquaspa area. However, the weight room was more than sufficient and rarely did I find it to be crowded, although I hardly went myself. Two other rooms I forgot to point out are Notes and Words. Notes is a music library where you can listen to one of hundreds of cds. Words is an actual library though it had very few books. This I'm sure will improve with time. These rooms are located midship on decks 6, 7, 8, and 9. With all of these rooms, you would think getting around might be difficult but we found it to be quite the opposite. Elevators were not all that hard to catch with a few exceptions, but the stairs really made it quick. This was a nice change from the Voyager where elevators took forever and the ship was just massive. I also must add that the ship never felt crowded at all, which was very nice. Food: This was honestly the best food I've had on a cruise. I really have no idea how others disliked the food, because it was truly excellent. For breakfast we mainly ate in the Ocean Cafe where they served a traditional buffet. Though nothing special, it provided a nice, quick meal before a big day of touring. We did eat breakfast in the Metropolitan several times, and we found it to be excellent. The selection is huge and everything we got was well prepared and tasted wonderful. For lunch, we never ate in the dining room because the buffet, pasta, and burgers were all so good. Pasta was made to order and was well worth the extra wait. The buffet always had a good variety of fresh, tasty food and an assortment of desserts. There was also a separate place to get ice cream with a different assortment each day. One thing I did not like was the hours of the pizza bar...3 pm - 7 pm and 10 pm - 1 am. The room-service pizza was also limited to these hours. However, the pizza was good and often became an extra meal for me during the day. The room-service menu was somewhat limited (interestingly it was nearly identical to that on the Voyager), but was very useful for those cravings at 3 am. The midnight buffets were very well done and showed just how amazing the chefs on board are. They also had gourmet bites some nights that waiters carried around in some of the lounges which were excellent as well. As for the food in the Metropolitan, it was unbelievable. We never had anything that had to be taken back due to poor quality, and everything we ordered was cooked to perfection. Our waiter was also incredibly generous and we often ended up with extras of everything. There were some nights where we had 15+ desserts for 5 people after only ordering 1 per person. The shrimp and lobster were particularly good as were the filet mignon and prime rib. There was not a single night where I left the Metropolitan dissatisfied. The Olympic: This is an experience not to be missed on Millennium!!! We booked as soon as we got on board and got the date and time we wanted without a problem. The cover charge is $12 per person, but it is well worth it. The room is absolutely gorgeous with the original paneling and beautiful furniture. There was also live music that made for a truly elegant dining experience. Some of the dishes are prepared right in front of you, allowing the smells to entice your taste buds before you even take a bite. You eat 4 courses-an appetizer/soup/salad, main entree, cheese, dessert. I had shrimp scampi for my appetizer which was one of the best plates of shrimp I have ever had. I then had the rack of lamb in a puff pastry which was incredible. After the cheese course, I finished with crepes suzette which was also great. It was some of the best food I've had and compares to some of the best restaurants in Houston. Entertainment: After three cruises, I wasn't all that excited about sitting through every show in the theater. I did think that the singers and dancers did a great job and the shows were, for the most part, very well produced. Other entertainers on board were good, but not great. One person does stick out though and that is Mio the roaming magician. He performed close up magic to small groups throughout the cruise and his tricks were awesome! He did, however, leave the ship in Copenhagen to come back to the states. Onyx played live music throughout the day and I found them to be very good and quite versatile as far as the songs they played. There was also a women who played the harp and a duet who sang in the lounges. Overall, I was very satisfied with the entertainment. Night Life: If this is your thing, don't expect a whole lot from the Millenium while its in Europe. The average age on board was very old, leaving very few people up late. The disco never got started just because there weren't a whole lot of people in there. This was hard after going on the Voyager where everyone parties until 4 in the morning every night. Instead of the disco, I usually spent my time in Fortunes playing craps and blackjack (luckily the gambling age was only 18). This was where most of the night life took place on Millennium. Looking back, it was probably good that I didn't stay out like on Voyager, because I simply would not have been able to go around on tours the next day. Crew: This was the friendliest and most helpful crew I have encountered on a cruise. Our waiter Ismail was awesome, as was our asst. waiter and our cabin steward. They went the extra mile to make our cruise a great one. Also, another waiter, David, helped me at lunch one day and we continued to converse the rest of the trip. He let us in on some of the problems the ship was having. My father was personally assisted by the shopping guide Russell in selecting a watch while in port, and we befriended a casino manager who taught us how to play craps and gave us free shirts. Finally, the guest relations staff was very helpful, especially considering how many guests they were having to deal with. Ports: Oslo, Norway - We took the half day city tour which was interesting but got a little boring. We went to the ski jump and around town but that's about it. You could probably get a taxi for cheaper and do it on your own. After that we walked around town and bought some cheap souvenirs. Helsinki, Finland - We took the half day tour to the Suomenlinna island fortress, which I found to be interesting because we learned a great deal of local history from our guide. I wouldn't advise going to the island on your own as it would be very hard to learn anything without a guide. After returning from that, my family went off in the city and did some shopping. They said the city was easy to get around in and there was a shuttle back to the ship from town which they used. I spent the rest of my time looking at the Carnival Spirit which was being built at a shipyard there. St. Petersburg, Russia - The first day we took the full day tour which included the city sightseeing and the Hermitage. It was a great tour, thanks in large part to our guide who was excellent. She taught us many interesting facts about Russia and the Hermitage, which by the way is an incredible museum and a must-see. The second day, we went to Catherine's Palace in Pushkin on the half day tour. It too was excellent and I found the palace to be better than Versailles. We were lucky enough to finish early there, leaving us an hour to shop, but that was all we had in Russia. We now wish we had arranged for a driver to take us around but we still had a great time. Stockholm, Sweden - Make sure you don't miss sailing through the archipelago into Stockholm as the scenery is awesome. We took the Vasa Museum tour which was the only one not canceled. Boy was that a mistake. We would have much rather gone off on our own and enjoyed the city, but instead we got to see a ship that had sunk a couple hundred years ago. Oh well...we made the best of things. The city looked pretty easy to get around in so I would maybe recommend that. Tallin, Estonia - We took the shuttle into town and walked around the old town, which was very nice. We shopped and ate along the way, before returning for an early departure. Gdansk, Poland - We did our own thing here, but did not actually go to Gdansk. We just stayed in Gdynia for about an hour and came back to the boat because it was pretty cold and rainy. However others said that it was fairly easy to take a cab and that Gdansk is a very nice little city to walk around in. Berlin, Germany - We took the bus trip into Berlin which was good but very long. We saw a lot of Berlin, but we didn't have any time on our own for shopping which was disappointing. The buses were very comfortable and we found the trip to be well worth the cost even though we could have done it cheaper on our own. Copenhagen, Denmark - We went on our own again and found the city to be very easy to navigate. We went to several jewelry stores in search of watches for my parents before finally deciding on a store and a price, which was much less than stores in the U.S. could offer. We then went to Tivoli Gardens and spent the whole evening there, which was a blast. It really is a great place for people of all ages to have fun. We then took the shuttle back to the boat. Disembarkation: The Captains Club card helped again as we were first off after the early group. It took awhile for the ship to clear and caused a great deal of nervousness for those with flights home that day. We stayed in Amsterdam one extra night and then flew home so we just had to get to our hotel which was fairly close. We had no problem finding our bags and getting a porter to help us take them to the taxi stand. Miscellaneous: -Our toilets did not work for several hours one day, but one phone call to the Guest Relations desk and the problem was solved very rapidly. -Some people are reporting problems with the key cards...a casino dealer told us the magnetic strip can be erased by anything magnetic, including their nametags. People made this a big issue when it was really not the ship's fault. Just be careful where you put your card!!! -I was amazed at the constant complaining and nitpicking I heard all around me. It seemed as if a lot of people were just looking for everything bad in the cruise and not enjoying all of the luxuries they had while on board. I understand that some people encountered more severe problems than we did and I'm sorry that happened, but I really got tired of people complaining about little things that were really trivial. It is a vacation after all, and it should be a time of relaxation rather than constant stress. -There were only 80 people under 18 and 40 teens on board, but it was still fairly easy for us to meet people and hang out with them for the duration of the cruise so its not bad at all for kids. -The tours leave no time for shopping so if that's a big goal, you'll probably have to go on your on. In Conclusion: We had a wonderful time on the trip and are very glad that they went ahead and sailed, even though the crew thought that to be a mistake. We thought everything was well handled by the staff and thought the food and service were excellent. Would we do it again? You bet. Would I book the Infinity? Of course. I do think it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months with the ship, but if you are booked, try not to get too worried about it. I know Celebrity will do whatever it takes to make everyone happy. Hope you liked it! Kevin Read Less
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part I of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part I of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, Barcelona, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Genoa ------------------------------------------------------- Ship's Personnel Several posters on a few cruise bulletin boards have suggested that reports include the names of key ship personnel if possible to assist others who may be interested in finding specific people or tracing their movements from ship to ship. So here are the pertinent individuals from this sailing of the Millennium: Master - Captain George Panagiotakis Chief Engineer - Pithagoras Tatanis Hotel Manager - Angelos Adamopoulos Cruise Director - Jim Cannon Assistant Cruise Director - Janine Jackson Executive Chef - Thomas Pfennings Restaurant Manager - Niyazi Korkmaz Olympic Maitre D' - Jean-Pierre Hervio Guest Relations Manager - Nicole Stephen-Hassard Social Hostess - Amanda Reid Background My wife Tommie and I are in our late 40's and early 50's, reside in Southern California, and both work full time at fairly stressful jobs. Thus we prefer relaxing vacations and have found cruising to be the most enjoyable and worry free form of travel. We are both fortunate enough to have 5 weeks of annual vacation and typically take 2 or 3 cruises each year, varying in length from 10 to 16+ days. This was our 27th cruise in 11 years and our 2nd with Celebrity (1st was on the Mercury in Alaska this past May). We have previously sailed on 8 different cruise lines (RCL, NCL, HAL, Princess, Carnival, Renaissance, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity) in ships as small as 112 passengers (Renaissance V) and as large as 2600 (Grand Princess), and over the years have experienced cabins varying from lowest category outside to balcony staterooms and finally suites. It's amazing just how much larger accommodations with such amenities as butler service and priority treatment can enhance the overall cruise experience! We have also had the good fortune to visit-and revisit-many parts of the world in our travels, and this was our 7th cruise in Europe. Thus we feel reasonably experienced enough to make comparisons where applicable (especially inasmuch as our previous Celebrity cruise is concerned), and offer opinions and comments. The Ship & Public Areas The Millennium, at just over 91,000 tons and carrying 1950 guests (double occupancy), is a gorgeous ship inside and out. The decor, artwork, paneling, and carpeting throughout is quite stunning, and fresh flower arrangements can be found everywhere. In fact there is a florist shop on board with personnel who are constantly keeping all the various arrangements fresh. An incredible amount of artwork can also be found everywhere you turn on this ship, and some of it is very unusual (for example the mannequin hanging from the ceiling near the Cosmos Lounge and the sculpted figures on each deck in all three stairways). For a relatively large ship there is a very high space ratio (47%) and this translates into ample public places for the passengers, and many intimate areas where a few chairs or a sofa can be found. The glass elevators that look out onto the sea are also pleasant to ride. The ship has no dead end hallways and all 3 stairways-and associated elevators-go from top to bottom, so it was very easy to find our way around after the first day. Our only complaint with the design of the Millennium was that the attractive and aesthetically pleasing exterior look of the ship, with its curved glass columns housing the glass elevator on one side and Celebrity Suites on the other, and the staggered decks and wider bow & stern sections on decks 6 through 9, was NOT at all attractive from WITHIN many of the staterooms that occupy those decks - but more on that topic in our next section on Accommodations. Let's take a quick tour of the Millennium passenger areas starting from the lowest deck and heading up. Deck 1 contains the Medical facilities, and is where the tenders are boarded when in a tender port. We had one tender port (Villefranche) and have included information about the tender service under the Villefranche port description near the end of this report. This deck was occasionally used to disembark & embark the ship in a few other ports, but this was mainly done from Deck 3. Deck 2 (Continental Deck) contains only passenger staterooms. Deck 3 (Plaza Deck) contains passenger staterooms forward, and the lowest level of the 3 deck atrium-called the Grand Foyer-amidship. Here can be found the Guest Relations desk, bank, shore excursion area, and beautiful backlit marble staircase leading up to Deck 4. The Bank was open a great deal and bought and sold all the currencies for the numerous countries we visited at a somewhat favorable exchange rate with no commission. The Shore Excursion area was a large alcove with supplemental seating, but since we booked our excursions in advance, we did not avail ourselves of their services. Aft of this atrium area on the starboard side, are numerous meeting and conference rooms and the Cinema. Celebrity does not run 1st rate movies in the Cinemas on their ships because these are available on your stateroom TV at the Pay-Per-View rate of $8.95! Only 2nd rate older movies are shown in the cinema, and since there were not any that interested us we never went to the cinema. On the port side, aft of the atrium, is the Olympic Restaurant. This is Millennium's specialty restaurant, which most people already know contains the wood paneling and some decor items from the original Olympic, sister ship to infamous Titanic. It is magnificently presented, and consists of three rooms. The 1st is an entry hall of sorts with pictures, memorabilia, and information about Olympic. The 2nd room actually contains all the wood paneling, and it is truly stunning. A few tables for dining are available in this room. The 3rd room is the larger dining area with the majority of tables for dinner, but it is rather plain with white walls and pillars. This room also has a viewing window into the galley for the Olympic Restaurant, where you can watch some of the pre-preparation of the meals (most of the final preparation is done table side). More about this experience will be described in our section on Dining later in this report. Behind the Olympic & Conference center was the main kitchen, and galley tours were offered during the cruise. We took one of these tours and although the kitchen is immense, it was not as interesting nor as striking as others we have taken in the past (i.e. Grand Princess). Decks 4 (Promenade) and 5 (Entertainment) represented the heart of the ship inasmuch as dining, drinking, shopping, and entertainment are concerned. Deck 4 has the exterior promenade area, but for those who like walking be advised that this promenade DOES NOT wrap all around the ship. If you want to walk laps for exercise, as Tommie & I do, Deck 11 (jogging track) is the only choice. The Metropolitan Restaurant occupies the stern of the vessel and is the elegant two deck main dining room with an interior grand staircase connecting the two levels, although you can also enter each level on its respective deck. The room features beautiful lighting and lighting effects, two deck high glass windows at the very back, large porthole type windows on the sides, and an area at the top of the staircase where musicians play during the evening dining hours. The back windows are covered by a scenic shades on formal nights, and the side windows have both light filtering and scenic shades that are used to enhance the comfort and ambiance of the room. Main seating typically commenced at 7:30AM for breakfast, Noon for lunch and 6:15PM for dinner, while Late seating hours were 8:45AM, 1:30PM, and 8:30PM. When in port both breakfast and lunch were usually open seating and the hours varied. More about the Metropolitan Restaurant can be found in our section on Dining. The Celebrity Theater occupies the bow of the vessel and is the beautiful three deck main entertainment area for all the ship's production shows and other entertainers. Although the theater actually extends down to Deck 3, there is no entrance from that deck. The sight lines were excellent from virtually anywhere in this huge theater, and we especially liked the unique long curved bar tables at the very top. This was a perfect place to watch the show while enjoying an evening cocktail or liquor. There were two large projection screens, one at each side of the stage, where the entertainment on stage was sometimes projected so that those at the very back could see better. There were also very interesting torch-like lighting effects around the room, which anyone who has seen the 'burning buildings' in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in any of the Disney theme parks can relate to. Of course this was also the main meeting place for all the shore excursions and tender boats tickets. Between the Celebrity Theater & Metropolitan Restaurant on Deck 4-starting forward and walking aft-one finds the extensive photo gallery with the elegantly decorated and glass walled Michael's Club (cigar smokers area) tucked off to the side. Continuing on is the beautiful Fortunes Casino with numerous incredible Romanesque sculptures and true Vegas-like look & feel. Neither Tommie nor I gamble, but every time we passed through this area when it was open (there is no way to go around!) it was quite crowded. Next we reach the middle level of the Grand Foyer with lots of sitting areas and an oval room, opposite the glass elevators, containing the Internet Cafe. Many have talked at length about the internet facilities available on the Millennium, so we will just reiterate that the cost is 95 cents per minute, but browsing the Celebrity site is free (NOT the parent company Royal Caribbean site though) as are things like Microsoft Word. However, cutting & pasting is not available so don't think you can type a message or email in the free Word and then cut & paste it while online to save costs. Mind you, other bulletin board posts have listed tips for getting around this problem. The final room before reaching the Metropolitan Restaurant on Deck 4 is the Rendez-Vous Lounge and bar. Here we also find a small stage and dance floor which is very popular (packed) during the evening hours just before the dining room opens for 1st & 2nd seating. This room is also used for many daily activities such as napkin folding demonstrations and the like. Our only complaint with this lounge (and the one above it on Deck 5) was the fact that when it got crowed it got quite smoky. Smoking is permitted on the port side of the ship in most areas, but the smoke tended to readily drift over to the starboard side in these two lounges. Between the Metropolitan Restaurant & Celebrity Theater on Deck 5-starting aft and walking forward-one first encounters the Platinum Club Lounge with the Martini Bar on one side and Champagne & Caviar Bar on the other. The lounge is decorated in deep purples and blues, and has some marvelous art deco lamps and other fixtures. An interesting aspect to the Platinum Club is that it is located directly above the Rendez-Vous Lounge and has a large circular opening over the dance floor below. Thus, music from the Rendez-Vous entertainers drifts up to this lounge as well, and provides added ambiance to the room. This area is also very crowed and smoky just before dinner times. Continuing forward we reach the upper level of the Grand Foyer and find, opposite the glass elevators, another oval room called the Tea Room which also doubles as the card room. This area around the Grand Foyer includes the Cova Cafe di Milano where you can enjoy specialty coffee and/or tea, as well as afternoon pastries and many other caloric delights. Between this Cova Cafe and the Celebrity Lounge is a huge area called The Emporium where there had to be at least ten specialty stores and boutiques. In addition to the typical jewelry, watch, fragrance, clothing, and notions/liquor stores, there were a few 'designer' stores including Donna Karan (DKNY), Versace, and a Michel Roux Gourmet. Decks 6 (Penthouse), 7 (Vista), 8 (Panorama), and 9 (Sky) contain essentially only suites and staterooms, but the library-called Words-is a two story room with an interior circular staircase that spans decks 8 & 9, and a similar two story music library and listening room-called Notes-spans deck 6 & 7 right below Words. Both are adjacent to the glass elevators on their respective decks, and are rich in wood paneling and decor and have ample comfortable seating. We had heard that Notes had been closed after one of the earliest cruises because people had pilfered many of the CD's. It was open again when we were on board, but now consists of 12 individually numbered listening stations with correspondingly numbered sections of the library. The numbered sections of the library contain only numbered CD cases on the shelves (not the actual CD's), roughly categorized into jazz, modern, rock-n-roll, classics, and the like. When you find something you like you can remove the CD case from the rack, take it to the correspondingly numbered listening station, enter the number of the actual CD, and then listen to all or as much of it as you wished. Although this system should prevent future thefts, it was problematic because you could only listen to a particular CD at its corresponding station. If that station was occupied by someone else-even if other stations were available-you were out of luck. Since our suite was just a few doors down from Notes and we therefore passed it frequently, we noticed that one gentleman in particular literally occupied station #4 for hours almost everyday reading a book (and of course listening to music). This precluded a great number of people from enjoying the music in that section. Both Words and Notes were typically open from 9:00AM-Midnight. Deck 10 (Resort Deck) was perhaps the most popular deck because it contained the Ocean Cafe, Ocean Grill, main outdoor pool area, and the Aqua Spa complex. The Ocean Cafe was the place for morning and lunch buffets, and evening alternative dining. It was well designed with each buffet section repeated twice on both sides of the ship, thereby offering 4 identical serving areas and keeping lines to a minimum. It also contained 2 ice cream parlors and 2 fresh made pasta stations, once again one of each on both sides of the ship. Trays were available, and helpful waiters carried ladies' trays to available tables. The eating areas were quite spacious (this is the widest deck of the ship), and many alcoves contained large round portholes in the floor where passengers/diners could look straight down over the side of the ship at the sea below. Although an interesting concept, these viewing portholes had the unfortunate consequence of providing absolutely no privacy to the balcony cabins and suites below. The Ocean Grill at the very back of the ship served hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and a different additional barbeque dish each day. It opened out to an exterior eating area at the very back of the ship. Although a pleasant place to dine in warm weather, we only ate here twice because someone would invariably light up a cigarette at an adjacent table whenever we were in the middle of a meal. We will talk about the food served here in the Dining section later in this report. The Riviera Pool (also nicknamed The Beach) was without a doubt the most attractive pool area we have ever seen on any ship. With two pools of different depths, 4 Jacuzzi's, multiple circular stainless steel showers, attractive decorative lighted wood 'awnings', covered stage, 2 bars, and two level lounging area, this was a delightful place to relax and unwind. Towels and blankets were always readily available, and lounge chairs were never in short supply. The only complaint of some passengers was that the Jacuzzi's were only open until 8:00PM. The Aqua Spa area encompassed the enclosed Thalassotherapy pool, treatment rooms, hair salon, and gymnasium. Like the Jacuzzi's, the Thalassotherapy pool was only open until 8:00PM. More about the spa facilities can be found in our Spa section later in the report. Deck 11 (Sunrise Deck) contained the jogging/walking track (3 laps = mile) and well as plenty of supplemental lounge chairs overlooking the Riviera pool area below. The only problem here was that all the lounge chairs were packed so closely together that you couldn't get to them very easily, and they also encroached upon the jogging track which caused much maneuvering by the joggers trying to avoid the sunbathers milling around the loungers. At the very back of the ship on this deck was the Arcade filled we interactive games, and the children's area called the Ship Mates Fun Factory. This was a fairly large complex for young children with interior play & activity areas plus a small outdoor pool and climbing facilities. There was only one entrance/exit to this children's area, which had separate daily activities and was supervised by Celebrity staff. There were a ½ dozen or so young people on our cruise. At the very front of the ship on this deck was the beautiful Cosmos Lounge, with a fairly large dance floor and stage plus multiple levels of seating. Cosmos is a multi-purpose lounge that serves as a primary viewing area for surrounding scenery, as well as a place for pre-dinner dancing and cocktails, and finally it becomes the late night disco. The room is decorated in tans and blues, contains a grand piano for lighter music in the late afternoon, and has numerous eye-catching ceiling light fixtures and effects. Some of these include lighted birds, a circle of lighted rods over the piano, and a half world globe over the bar with rows of lights, all of which constantly change color. Magnificent views could be seen over the bow, but the side views were somewhat obstructed by the design of the roof for the Resort deck below. Deck 11 also contains the 3 distinctive glass walled turrets that give the ship some of its' exterior appeal. One amidship was a bar/lounge called Extreme with garish bright red, yellow, green, and blue furniture. The second was just behind Cosmos and housed the flower shop that was called both The Tower and The Conservatory. It was a two level turret with an interior circular staircase and a 2nd level lounging area with wicker furniture surrounded by plants and flowers. The third tower just housed a large piece of artwork. Deck 12 (Sports Deck) consists of two separate sections, one aft and one forward, that can only be reached by external stairs from Deck 11 (neither the interior stairways nor the elevators go directly to this deck). The aft section (behind the funnel) contains the basketball/tennis courts and the golf simulator. The forward section contained even more lounging areas, and was interesting because it was sheltered form the wind by glass walls all around. Accommodations & Stateroom Service Tommie & I enjoyed the relative luxury of a Sky Suite on Deck 6 (#6099) right in the middle of the ship. The 251 sq ft cabin was a bit larger than our Sky Suite on the Mercury, but the balcony was only about the size of the one on the Mercury. It was well laid out, with a king size bed, large writing desk, console with mini-bar, VCR, and big screen TV (all cabin categories on Millennium feature interactive TV's where guests can review their shipboard account, order room service items, book shore excursions, and order pay-per-view movies), sitting area with a sofa bed and lounge chair, walk-in closet, large marble bathroom with bathtub, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door out to the balcony. The suite balconies were also a bit different from the Category 1 & 2 balconies in that they had teak decks and teak furniture, which included a table and 2 chairs (that could be reclined into loungers). However ALL the Sky Suites on the Millennium are missing several advertised facilities. These include: 1) NO whirlpool tub, 2) NO internet access or equipment, 3) NO dining table, 4) NO entertainment center, and 5) NO water spigot on the balcony. We were told by our butler, room steward, and Guest Relations that the lack of whirlpool tub, internet access, and water spigot were all 'mistakes' made by the shipyard during construction; that the entertainment centers had originally been installed but didn't work, so they were removed; and that the crate containing the dining tables for all the Sky Suites was dropped in St. Nazaire when it was being loaded onto the newly built ship and all the tables were smashed. Guest Relations also told us that when the Millennium goes into drydock at the end of November, it is anticipated that the sky suites will be upgraded with some, if not all, of their missing facilities. I guess we'll just have to wait and see! Unfortunately our Sky Suite suffered from other problems as well, at least one of which seems to be a common complaint of virtually all cabin categories - poor insulation. We could clearly hear even low toned conversations in adjacent cabins, and every opening & closing of a drawer, or flushing of a toilet! Someone also thought it would be clever to install door activated light switches for the interior of the walk-in closet. These switches are located in the door frames, so that the light comes on & goes off when you open and close any of the four closet doors. However, that same someone seems to have forgotten that a ship can move quite a bit in rough seas, and the slightest movement of any of the doors would cause the light to come on. Thus, on two nights when we encountered moderate seas, we were up several times turning the light off! We ended up stuffing socks under the door, but this only helped a bit. Our butler told us that all the Sky Suites suffered from this problem and in some of them the doors had already warped, such that they no longer even came in contact with the light switch. Shoddy construction techniques were also evident in wood paneling that was already bubbling, and in a bathroom door that wouldn't close properly (we had to call 3 times during the 13 day cruise to have it repaired again & again). Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of our Sky Suite was the view, and this is where our earlier comment about the 'aesthetically pleasing exterior look of the ship not being attractive from within many of the staterooms' comes into focus. Since ½ of Deck 6 (and the 3 decks above it) are narrower that the deck below, we had a wonderful(?) view of the top of a lifeboat and the glass elevators to the left! We couldn't see over the side of the ship and obviously couldn't view activities pier side when in port. Thankfully the balcony was at least covered and private. But the Sky Suites are also not all the same size and two of them (#6145 & #6146), located at what appears to be ideal locations between the Penthouse & Royal Suites, have only one conventional glass door (not the advertised floor-to-ceiling double sliding glass doors) leading to a completely exposed balcony with four decks of white steel walls towering above. The Royal Suites and Penthouse Suites at the aft of Deck 6 were located at the wider part of the ship but suffered from balconies that were totally exposed to the decks above, and afforded little or no privacy. They were also the 'target' of breadcrumbs and other food stuffs, ostensibly thrown for the birds, from the Ocean Grill outdoor eating area on Deck 10. We feel that the location and different configurations of the top category suites on this ship is deplorable. But the suites weren't the only categories to 'suffer' from the ship's design. The top category balcony staterooms (1A) located on Deck 9 had darker and somewhat dreary interiors due to being in the constant shade of the 15 foot overhang of the Resort Deck above. They also had view impediments caused by the diagonal support beams for the Resort Deck. Thus the exterior design of the ship, although appealing, has caused vast inconsistencies in cabin amenities and views. Although we are not necessarily fond of the exterior look of the some of the newer megaships (i.e. Voyager of the Seas), we now can appreciate that their 'boxy' look at least equates to more equitable interior accommodations. Well that dragged on a little bit longer than intended, but we still have to cover our steward service while under this topic. Unfortunately, this was worse than we have experienced on other cruises and certainly far worse than our last Celebrity cruise. Rather than the typical unobtrusive and efficient steward you rarely see-who 'magically' makes up your room the minute you leave-ours was always interrupting us. One particular morning when we had a chance to sleep in a bit later after a late night out dancing and no planned shore excursions-with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door-he phoned at 9:00AM to find out when he could make up the room. On the first day of the cruise (as we do on every cruise) we had also requested that our ice bucket be refilled at his leisure sometime between 3:00 & 4:00PM each day, because most had melted by that time. He happily agreed but then only did it for the 1st 3 days and then stopped. Yet it was he who had to subsequently get the ice when we were forced to call room service. Six days into the cruise we also noticed that our balcony had never been cleaned, and both the glass and railing were caked with salt. When we finally complained to the Chief Housekeeper, who happened to be from the Mercury and remembered us from our last cruise, he discovered that our steward (and his assistant) were not cleaning any of the balconies to the cabins they were responsible for as they were supposed to, and directed them-in very harsh language-to do their jobs properly. He then had them clean not only our balcony, but all the other balconies as well (they blamed the lack of the water spigot as the reason they were not washing down the deck and balcony glass & railings). On the positive side, our butler Rupesh was simply outstanding and definitely made what might have easily become a disappointing cruise into a very memorable and enjoyable one. Unlike our steward, he remembered absolutely every little nuance of our likes & dislikes, quickly attended to any request we made, and even 'filled in' for the steward when he realized certain things weren't being done as they should be. For example, when he came by with tea & pastries every afternoon shortly after 4:00PM he would ask if we had received our requested ice, and take care of it even though it was not his job. There just are not enough accolades for the excellent butler services provided by Celebrity. Our butler Edwin from our last cruise on the Mercury was also here on the Millennium and it was great to see and talk with him again. Don't Miss Part II of Wayne & Tommie's Millennium Review! 10/03/00 Read Less
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part II of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part II of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, Barcelona, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Genoa Dining & Dining Service -------------------------------------------------- Ocean Cafe & Ocean Grill The food in the Ocean Cafe was okay, but was just the typical buffet fare. Everyday for lunch there was usually a choice of some fish, meat, potatoes, and vegetables plus soup and salad and a freshly carved roast of some kind (beef, pork, ham, etc.). However, at the back of the buffet on both sides of the ship there was a pasta station, freshly cooking a different pasta each day. This was very good. The Ocean Grill pre-cooked all the hamburgers, hot dogs, and daily barbeque specialty items and kept them in warming pans, but they were surprisingly good nonetheless (still moist & warm, which is more than can be said for some of the buffet items). Tommie & I never ate breakfast up here because we preferred to have it in our cabin (room service for suites includes a FULL breakfast, not just the traditional continental fare), so we cannot comment on how the food was for breakfast. The buffet was NEVER open for dinner, and the aft starboard section of the Ocean Grill was used for alternate casual dining during the evening. This alternate dining was only available from 6:30-8:30PM, and required advance reservations that could only be made with the Assistant Maitre D' from 8:00AM-2:30PM and at the Guest Relations desk from 2:30-5:00PM. Tommie & I tried this venue one evening after a particularly bad night in the main dining room, and thought it was awful. All you get to do is select one entreE from a small list, and then obtain your own soup and salad buffet style from then Ocean Grill area. It's the ONLY time I have ever received salmon laden with bones! This was a very poor excuse for alternate dining compared to many other cruise lines. Olympic Restaurant The price to experience Millennium's specialty restaurant is $12 per person-charged to your shipboard account when you enter to dine-and is well worth the cost (at least once) in our opinion. The food items are different than what you find in the Metropolitan Restaurant-whether better or worse is truly subjective-but the leisurely pampered self-indulgence is what this 2½-3 hour evening is all about. The attention to detail, elegant meal preparation and presentation, and service are all outstanding. Although one waiter will take your order, several waiters will be involved in the preparation and serving, such that the entree for every person at the table will be revealed at the exactly the same moment with a flourish. Voila! The evening begins by perusing the dinner menu while a wine steward takes orders for any pre-dinner drinks, or wine(s) for the meal. The wine list is an impressive 24 pages, and contains bottles up to $12,400.00, but many reasonably priced bottles for 'the real world' are also listed. Tommie & I elected to have a glass of the wine recommended for each course that we planned to order, while the friends who joined us for dinner declined. We're so glad we made this choice because it was incredible just how much each wine complimented and enhanced the flavor of the dish, and vice-versa. A waiter then arrived and we each ordered two courses. There are two sides to the menu: one with soups, salads, and appetizers and the other with entrees. You are ONLY permitted to select one from each side of the menu-the way it was done on the original Olympic-so have to choose either the soup, salad, or appetizer as one of the courses. Three of us ordered the flambee shrimp appetizer and Steak Diane, while the 4th opted for Caesar Salad and rack of lamb. The waiter then arrived with hors d'oeuvres plates of smoked oysters and mussels for each of us. Table side flambee of the large shrimp wrapped in bacon came next, followed quite a bit later by the table side flambee of the Steak Diane. After these courses we were given a variety of cheeses and crackers, and then we finished by ordering dessert (nobody had the Crepes Suzette because we were all stuffed and wanted something a bit lighter!). This is definitely an evening everyone should experience at least once. Despite the seemingly high price, this restaurant is currently in high demand and typically gets booked up for the whole cruise within a day or two, so plan to make your reservations shortly after you board. Only one reservation per stateroom will be guaranteed per cruise, and if you wish to dine there a 2nd time (or more) you will be wait listed only and informed if there is an opening later. The dress code is informal (jacket & tie for men, etc.) and men are requested NOT to wear a tuxedo if you choose to dine there on a formal night - we intentionally picked an informal night. We have a tip for those who might want to dine there, and it is follows. You can make reservations over the phone, but it is advisable to go down and make them in person. This is because you can actually select the table at which you wish to dine, but can only do this in the restaurant. That way you can request to dine in the room with the wood paneling (only tables for 2 and 4), or a more secluded spot in the larger room behind it (tables for 2, 4, 6 and 8). Be advised that if you get a table towards the back of the larger room near the kitchen (the Maitre D' will tell you it is a choice spot!), there is a tremendous amount of traffic from the waiters scurrying to and fro. Metropolitan Restaurant On our last Celebrity cruise, every meal was outstanding and we can honestly say that it was the best food we have ever had on any cruise. Thus it is with some sadness that we cannot say the same thing about the Millennium. On this cruise we could only rate the food as okay, certainly NOT excellent. Although flavorful and always nicely presented, we found the steaks-with the exception of the filet mignon-to be rather tough, and the pork and chicken quite dry and often overcooked. We even had to send one meal back to the kitchen because the steak had been ordered medium rare but arrived well done. Food selection was of course still varied, and some courses were incredible, but the overall experience was never a sure thing. During the cruise we sampled numerous fish entrees (the salmon was always very good), beef, lamb (also very good), veal, pork, chicken, pasta, and of course lobster. The appetizers and soups always seemed to be the best. We had a wonderful table for two on the 2nd level of the dining room, right next to the railing overlooking the lower level and grand staircase, and with a great view out the back of the ship. Unfortunately this great location did not translate into great service, for dining room service on the Millennium was quite poor in our opinion (especially when compared to the Mercury). As we found out later, a great deal of the slow service was once again attributable to the ship's design. The restaurant is on decks 4 & 5, but the kitchen is on deck 3 with fast moving escalators connecting the decks. Because the kitchen was so far from the dining room, the waiters and busboys tried to make as few trips as necessary. This meant they would never make separate trips for one of their tables, but always treated their entire station as a whole. For example, our waiter had 1 table for 10, 1 table for 8, and our table for 2. Tommie & I rarely eat all 5 courses every night-towards the end of the cruise we were down to 2-but had to wait while all the other courses were served to all the other tables. One evening we both felt like just an appetizer and entree, but had to wait almost ¾ hour for the soup and salad courses to be served to the other two tables because the waiter would not bring our entrees until he was at the entree stage for all his tables. This has never happened to us before. We had a long talk with the Maitre d' after the 4th night and things did improve a bit after that, but only to a limited degree. There was another strange service problem in the dining room that we have never experienced before. Our waiter and busboy DID NOT work as a team because the busboy overlapped two different stations, and therefore worked with two different waiters (our busboy did not serve the other two tables that our waiter was responsible for, only us). Thus, when our waiter would serve something like our salads, our busboy would often be busy with his other waiter serving one of his large tables. In instances like that we had to wait 5-10 minutes before he was free just to come and offer the dressings for our salads (ditto pepper for our soup, etc.) . Lastly, we heard that there had been numerous accidents over the two months the ship has been in service on the fast moving escalators. Just try to imagine these poor guys, delicately balancing their huge heavy trays laden with 20 meals, looking down to catch the first step of the escalator and then adjusting as they suddenly start to move up or down. On the 3rd night of the cruise, the second waiter our busboy worked with tripped and fell from the top of the escalators while carrying a tray full of soups. He was injured quite badly and was not seen again for the rest of the cruise. On the night of the accident, the Maitre d's did not even bother to replace him or help out himself, but made our poor busboy do both the waiter's job plus his own for the rest of the evening. Poor guy! But when Michel Roux and 3 others dined at a vacant table next to ours several nights later, he was served by no less than 2 Maitre d's, 2 waiters, and 2 wine stewards! Spa Facilities Although the entire Aqua Spa area is probably twice as large as on the Mercury, and just as attractive, we were very disappointed in many aspects of the facility. On the Mercury there was a small fee to use the wonderful Thalassotherapy pool (complimentary ½ hour use before any scheduled treatment) and it was well utilized but never crowded. On the Millennium, Celebrity eliminated the charge and consequently the pool always seemed to be very crowded, so much so that on a couple occasions there were too many people in the pool to be able to enjoy the different 'massage' stations within the pool. Conversely, Celebrity more than doubled the price for a majority of their spa treatments on the Millennium, making what had been a luxury item on the Mercury a unjustifiable extravagance on the Millennium. One specific item was a special couples treatment on the Mercury called Rasul which was $75 per couple. We were very much looking forward to doing this again on the Millennium, but discovered that it had been renamed the Etruscan Chamber and now cost $166 per couple. Everything from manicures to massages were similarly affected. Fortunately, they did not decide to also start charging for the gymnasium which was extremely well equipped and heavily used. Entertainment & Activities There was a great variety of entertainment during the 13-day cruise, and overall we would have to say that it was all very good. The band Onyx that played during lunch by the pool and in the Cosmos Lounge before dinner was outstanding, and we never tired of listening to them. The A Capella group Four Score was also excellent and could be found at various places throughout the ship, drawing large crowds wherever they sang. The production shows were all very good, but we expected to see more special effects with the latest and greatest state-of-the-art stage available in the Celebrity Theater. Most of the other entertainers were okay, but none stood out as must-see artists. The Cruise Director of course did a Newlywed-type game one evening that was very entertaining, and also a game they called Dream Ticket. The latter was extremely good, as audience members were selected to come on stage and answer trivia questions in a Jeopardy-like fashion. Both of these shows were later re-broadcast on the stateroom TV's so those that missed the actual show could still see the fun. Ample daily activities, typical of any cruise, were readily available. These of course included Bingo, fitness & exercise, dance lessons, napkin folding, culinary demonstrations, wine tasting, various competitions (basketball, putting, etc.), and the now inevitable art auctions. A few evening activities were also scheduled, but this is where one has to question the logic behind why specific things were arranged when they were? For example, one night from 10:00-midnight there was Tropical Island Nights Celebration followed by a Fruit and Sherbert buffet out on the open pool deck. Rather than schedule such a party when we were in the warmer waters of the Mediterranean, it was held when we were still in the Atlantic off the coast of Spain. The evening was chilly and very windy. Tommie & I went up around 11:00PM and counted less than 50 people, all laying on lounge chairs and wrapped in blankets. The only party-goers where a few Celebrity staff members trying desperately to get some people up to dance. What a dud! Miscellaneous Celebrity has an unlimited soft drink program for children that costs $4.50 per day plus 15% gratuity, but the purchase MUST be made for the entire cruise and NOT on a day-by-day basis. Wine may be taken into the dining room, but is subject to a $6.00 corkage fee (if it isn't a wine that is on their wine list). Gentlemen are able to rent tuxedos onboard for formal nights. Computer classes in Windows 98, the Internet, E-Mail, Desktop Publishing, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word were available onboard, but each cost $59. We were permitted to purchase liquor in one of the Emporium shops and bring it back to the cabin. Although the daily program stated that 'All duty free liquor or cigarettes purchased ashore will be collected at the gangway and delivered to your stateroom during the evening prior to the day of disembarkation,' none of our bags was ever searched nor were we ever questioned when re-boarding the ship in any port. Celebrity is a stickler about requiring BOTH your ship card AND a photo id to re-board the ship. Please save yourself and other passengers the hassle inevitably caused at the bottom of the gangway by people who forgot their photo id. Differing opinions have been expressed by people about Millennium's vibration problem, that is the cause of the upcoming dry docking in late November. We did not experience any vibrations, either in our cabin or the dining room, that we have not felt on most other ships we have cruised on. Naturally, there is increased vibration while the bow and stern thrusters are being employed when entering and leaving port, but again these did not appear to us to be any different than on other ships. Of course, we were never in the dining room when this occurred, but presume that there could be increased vibration at those times due to its location on lower decks at the very back of the ship, such that 'dishes may rattle on the tables.' It's just not something we personally experienced. The Voyage & Ports of Call Before we describe the cruise itself and the various ports of call, we want to reiterate that this was our 7th cruise in Europe. We had already visited all the ports on this itinerary-some more than once-and done most of the shore excursions on past cruises. Therefore we did not plan to do too much in the way of excursions on this trip. Our travel agent also happened to be on this cruise, and was hosting a group of 60 of us. His company had pre-arranged four private full day tours for our group (Paris, Lisbon, Rome, and Florence) and we elected to do two of them (Paris & Rome) just to re-visit those interesting cities. Thus, we only did one actual Celebrity shore excursion (Tuscany Wine Country) in Livorno, and so have just listed the various shore excursions offered by Celebrity under each port. We should also add that during this cruise there was a great deal of unrest in many parts of Europe over the availability and escalating price of fuel. This prohibited us from going to Barcelona, and adversely affected some excursions (or so we were told) in Belgium and France. Prior to this cruise we also 'met' numerous people on various cruise web sites who were scheduled for the same sailing. One lovely lady by the name of Bev, took it upon herself to arrange a get-together Happy Hour for everyone once we got onboard. This turned out to be a more daunting task than I think she ever realized, because she couldn't get any confirmation back from Celebrity with regards to an available lounge where we could meet on our desired date and time. By the time we sailed, our group had grown to 40 people. This was also Celebrity's Annual Captain's Club Reunion Cruise and numerous special activities, not to mention frequent gifts, were bestowed on all Captain's Club members. These included galley tours, parties, complimentary cocktails and wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, group photo, photo album, journal, disposable camera, and others we've already forgotten. The Captain's Club representatives did a super job, even though there were a few stumbling blocks along the way, and helped enhance our enjoyment of the cruise. AMSTERDAM: Pre-Cruise & Embarkation Over the years we've learned never to trust the airlines to 'get you to the ship on time,' and this is even more applicable today with the rash of delays, strikes, and other airline related problems that plague the industry. Thus we always plan a pre-cruise stay of a day or more at our embarkation location. We flew into Amsterdam one day early and stayed at the Radisson SAS Airport Hotel. This was a very nice modern hotel with full amenities and a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. We were 'forced' to stay out by the airport because there was a Broadcaster's Convention in Amsterdam and virtually all of the downtown hotels were full months ago when we first booked this cruise. Even Celebrity could not offer their pre-cruise package for this sailing as far back as March 2000. As it turned out this was an ideal location at a very reasonable price. A month before the cruise we scoured the internet for tour ideas in Amsterdam and came across an Evening Dinner Canal Cruise, that we subsequently reserved and confirmed on-line with final payment due when we actually boarded the canal boat. After arriving in Amsterdam and checking into the hotel, we took the complimentary shuttle back to the airport and caught a train to take us to the Central Train Station in the heart of Amsterdam (US$5 return train trip from airport to city). The canal boats all leave from this area, but we had a bit of time to tour the adjoining streets and canals. The dinner cruise left at 7:30PM and for the next 2½ hours we savored a four course gourmet meal (choice of salmon or game hen entree) with complimentary wine, and enjoyed the sunset and spectacular evening views of the sights. This is definitely something to be considered by anyone taking a trip to Amsterdam (approximately US$51 per person). The next morning we took a bus tour of the city that was arranged by our Travel Agent, followed by a 1 hour canal boat cruise. Although the canal cruise covered much the same route as the one the previous night, it was interesting to see the differences during daylight. After the cruise, the bus transferred us to the brand new cruise terminal building-nicknamed 'The Wave' because of its roof design that resembles a cresting wave-where we arrived at 1:15PM. Boarding had just commenced a few minutes earlier, and as we entered the terminal building we were immediately greeted by Celebrity attendants who gave us our Priority #0 Captain's Club embarkation numbers. We immediately went to the Captain's Club & Suites line where we only waited about 5 minutes before being let into the check-in area. Ten minutes later we were on the ship and being showed to our suite. This was one of the smoothest and most trouble free embarkations we have ever experienced - it sure makes the $35 per family one time fee more than worth the cost. Friends who were traveling with us and who were not Captain's Club members ended up waiting 1½ hours in the terminal building before their embarkation numbers were called. We sailed on time at 6:00PM with hordes of people on shore-and later at the locks-watching our departure. Our first dinner of the cruise was very tasty, but the service was incredibly slow (our bread did not arrive until we were almost finished our second course). Our waiter and busboy did not seem to work well as a team, for when the waiter arrived with our soups and salads the busboy did not follow with the pepper and dressings. After waiting almost 10 minutes for dressings for our salads, we finally had to flag down our busboy and ask for them. Our wine steward also seemed to be more pre-occupied with a large table for 10 than us, and it took forever to order and receive a bottle of wine. We hope that things improve, for service on the Mercury was much better. DAY AT SEA (Formal Dress) It was only a 150 miles or so from Amsterdam to Zeebrugge, but Celebrity scheduled this as a sea day, probably to give people a chance to relax and get used to the time change. We were cruising so slow all day that at times it seemed as if we were almost dead in the water - we even went back and forth a few times during the day. The seas are very calm and this surprised us for we are in the southern reaches of the North Sea, which can be extremely rough. At least the weather was also clear and sunny, although only in the mid 60's. We had our party today in the Extreme Lounge at 3:00PM, and about 30 people showed up. It was great to finally meet those with whom we had only shared emails over the last few months. We all talked over cocktails until almost 4:30 when some had to start getting ready for formal night. Thanks again to Bev for her hard work putting all this together..... The Captain's Welcome Aboard Party was held in the Grand Foyer with people occupying all 3 decks surrounding the atrium. Although this concept works well on some ships, the Millennium was not well suited for the purpose because of all the draperies cascading from the ceiling of the atrium to the marble stairway. These obscured more than half the available viewing area and made it all but impossible to see or hear the Captain when he spoke. Dinner in the dining room was even worse than last night, for in addition to the same slow service, the food was not that good - Tommie had to send her steak back to the kitchen because she ordered it medium rare and it came well done. When she brought this to the attention of our busboy, he immediately notified our waiter but the waiter did not come to our table for more than 5 minutes. When she finally received a replacement that was cooked properly, it turned out to be very tough and chewy, and of course my dinner was cold by then. Fortunately we have the Olympic Restaurant to look forward to tomorrow. After that we will probably have to talk with the Maitre D'. ZEEBRUGGE, BELGIUM (Informal Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Brussels Sightseeing - Full Day, $125, including lunch Antwerp Sightseeing - Full Day, $125, including lunch Bruges Sightseeing - Half Day, $62 Ghent Sightseeing - Half Day, $60 Ghent Sightseeing & Chocolate - Half Day, $65 We arrived on time at 7:00AM and it was another warm (low 80's) and sunny day. There is really nothing to see or do in the port of Zeebrugge itself, so Celebrity provided a complimentary shuttle bus to the nearby resort town of Blankenberge. This was a delightful and picturesque beach town that is obviously used by locals for summer vacations by the sea. We obtained a town map from the tourist information center and walked to many of the sights (town hall, cathedral, fisherman's house, yacht harbor, etc.) as well as along the long beach front that was peppered with many huts used to store lounge chairs and other paraphernalia available for rent. We also saw an interesting park that offered miniature golf, miniature billiards, cart driving course, lawn bowling, and other activities. Ship departed on schedule at 5:00PM, and we subsequently enjoyed our 3 hour dinner in the Olympic Restaurant. Finally we can say that we had a superb dinner. Don't miss Part III of Wayne & Tommie's Celebrity Millennium review! 10/03/00 Read Less
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part III of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part III of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, Barcelona, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Genoa ------------------------------------------------------- LE HAVRE, FRANCE (Casual Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Paris Sightseeing / Lunch Cruise - Full Day, $185, including lunch on Seine A Taste of Paris - Full Day, $98, on your own D Day Landing Beaches - Full Day, $160, including lunch Honfleur and Deauville - Half Day, $65 Fecamp and Etretat - Half Day, $70 Rouen - Half Day, $65 Tommie & I awoke early this morning to prepare for our early morning all day excursion to Paris. While eating breakfast we perused the daily program and were surprised to find that dinner for tonight was Open Seating and ONLY from 6:30-8:00PM. We thought this was strange because half the scheduled tours, plus our private one, weren't even due back until sometime after 7:00PM! Since we both dislike open seating, and because we feared there could be long waits for dinner if everyone arrived around the same time, we had our butler Rupesh obtain tonight's dinner menu and we placed our order. He will serve dinner in our cabin after we return, whenever we want. The ship arrived on time at 7:00AM but for some reason it took almost an hour to obtain port clearance before passengers could disembark. Perhaps this, and the overcast and drizzly sky, was a precursor to the bad day many passengers were about to experience. We had an okay day in Paris, despite the inclement weather, and were not affected by the trucker's blockades that ended just two days ago. However traffic was still a nightmare and the city is so very crowded that one can get fatigued just elbowing through the crowds to see anything. We returned to the ship just after 7:30PM and happened to find Rupesh in our suite setting the table for dinner. Since all the Sky Suite dining tables were damaged when the ship was being outfitted (as we mentioned earlier), the butlers have the added task of continually setting up and taking down a card table whenever we eat anything in the cabin. Nonetheless, he makes it look elegant with a linen tablecloth and linen napkins folded just as you would find them in the dining room. We decided to have our dinner (the lunch we had in Paris was not very good) and everything was outstanding, with Rupesh's service far better than anything we have received in the dining room. He seemed to know just how long to wait between courses, and returned at perfect intervals to remove dishes and bring the next course. We enjoyed a bottle of wine that we purchased yesterday while in Zeebrugge with our meal, and then Rupesh suggested cappuccino coffee which he served with dessert. After dinner we decided to go to a lounge for some dancing, and this is when we discovered the problems befallen our fellow passengers. A great majority of the tour busses arrived back after 8:00PM when the dining room was closed, and those guest had no place to go to eat! They had been told that the buffet would be open for those with late tours, but apparently NOT told that this buffet would not open until 10:00PM. Naturally, huge numbers of these people now called for room service at virtually the same time, simply overwhelming that department. Then later when all these affected passengers headed to the buffet, the lines were horrendous and of course there was no place to sit once they finally obtained some food. People were rightly very upset, but this proved to be simply the first in a continuing string of problems and occurrences that unfortunately characterized the rest of the cruise! The ship did depart on time at 10:00PM. DAY AT SEA (Formal Dress) This was a relaxing day at sea-there are not enough of these on this cruise-but one filled with Captain's Club activities nonetheless. After breakfast we headed to the Celebrity Theater for the Captain's Club cooking demonstration, and then decided we were way overdue for some exercise. We spent some time in the gym and then walked 2 miles around the jogging track on Deck 11. The latter was a challenge because it was a very windy day-with scattered clouds-and every time we rounded a particular area of the deck the wind would almost blow us off our feet - I guess it's a good thing we have already gained some weight on this cruise! Later on we went to the Captain's Club group photo session, and then entertained some friends in our suite for afternoon tea and pastries. Then it was off to the Captain's Club Repeater's Party, and finally dinner. Unfortunately, our dining room service was abhorrent again tonight, so after talking to the Maitre D' at length we left before dessert in order to catch the production show Pure Platinum in the Celebrity Theater. VIGO, SPAIN (Casual Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: City Sightseeing and Bayona - Half Day, $40 Santiago De Compostella - Full Day, $85, including lunch We docked in Vigo almost 2 hours earlier than our scheduled 9:00AM arrival time, and it was still quite foggy outside. When the fog finally burned off around 11:00 and Tommie & I left the ship for our own tour of Vigo, it was quite hot. The maps provided by Celebrity for all the ports are quite good, and we enjoyed the many winding streets of the Old Town section on our way up to the Castillo, where magnificent views of the Vigo harbor and city waited. Off to the left we could see the town of Bayona, which is apparently the place to which Columbus first returned in 1493 after discovering 'The New World.' Saw many others sights in the city, but the newer parts had busy streets with lots of traffic, and was very noisy. Millennium departed on schedule at 5:00PM. Tonight we opted for the alternative dining at the Ocean Grill and it was just as bad, if not worse, than the dining room. This was the night for the Tropical Island Nights Party and Fruit & Sherbert buffet out on deck, but it was so windy and chilly that less than 50 people had showed up when we were there at 11:00PM - another scheduling snafu by Celebrity. Clocks will be turned back one hour during the night. LISBON, PORTUGAL (Informal Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Lisbon City Sightseeing - Half Day, $47 Sintra and Cape Roca - Half Day, $45 Queluz Palace and Cascais - Half Day,$42 Fatima and Batalha - Full Day, $120, including lunch Arrived in Lisbon on schedule at 7:00AM, to sunny skies and another warm day. We took the complimentary shuttle bus for the 3 mile ride to the Praca do Comercio, and then walked through the winding streets of the Alfama district before heading up to the Castello de Sao Jorge. Although we have been on 3 different Lisbon excursions on past cruises and seen all the major attractions, none took us to this high lookout with it's spectacular views of the city of Lisbon and the harbor. It was fun to be able to spot sites such as the Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower, and Monument to the Discoveries, and reminisce about past cruises to this port. On the way back to the shuttle bus we bought a couple bottles of Portuguese wine to try with dinner on the ship. Once back onboard we decided to finally try the Thalassotherapy pool that we so much enjoyed on the Mercury, in the hopes that it would not be too crowded with all the tours going on. Unfortunately, it was still packed as usual, so we just relaxed by the pool. Millennium departed on schedule at 5:00PM. Service in the main dining room tonight was exceptional, and we finally thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. Both our waiter and busboy were very apologetic about the past service, and this is when we learned about all the kitchen and restaurant design issues/problems. Clocks will be turned forward one hour during the night. MALAGA, SPAIN (Casual Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: City Sightseeing - Half Day, $35 Town of Mijas - Half Day, $35 Millennium was scheduled to arrive at 10:00AM, but was more than an hour late-no explanation was ever given as to why-and clearance did not come until 11:30AM. Complimentary shuttle busses to the nearby city center had not yet arrived when we disembarked at 11:45, so we just walked the short distance from the pier (past the Costa Romantica and Renaissance VII, which were also in port). It was another sunny day and in the low's 90's already. For a 3rd straight day we elected an arduous trek up to the Alcazaba & Gibralfaro fortresses for the magnificent views they afforded of Malaga and surrounding environs. On the way back to the ship we walked past gorgeous fountains and plazas, and along wide tree lined boulevards (Ramblas) as well as some of the beautiful Costa del Sol beaches. Enjoyed room service pizza, delivered in a regular pizza box, once back onboard the ship. Millennium sailed on schedule at 6:00PM. Service in the dining room was again very good. Since it was so warm and balmy tonight (a good evening for the Tropical Island Nights Party!), we slept with our balcony door open and fell asleep to the soothing sounds of the ocean. DAY AT SEA (Casual Dress) This was our last day at sea, even though there are still 4 more cruise days and ports left. It was another warm and sunny day, which provided a perfect opportunity to do some exercising and then just relax. The Captain's Club galley tour was in the late afternoon, but we found it to be a bit boring because we have had much better tours, and seen a lot more of the kitchen, on others ships. Dinner was again terrific and Tommie & I both enjoyed filet mignon smothered in Bearnaise sauce, which Celebrity does like no other ship we've been on. Midway through our meal, Michel Roux and 3 other restaurant 'supervisors' arrived for dinner and occupied a table adjacent to ours. Remembering the terrible service we had received for the first few days of the cruise, it was astonishing to see how he garnered the constant attention of numerous waiters, Maitre D's, and wine stewards. There was always at least one person off to the side of his table for the entire meal, ready to act at his slightest whim. We should all get that kind of service! It was another beautiful night to sleep with the balcony door open, but we were awakened around 6:00AM to the sounds of thunder. Tommie & I then spent 15 minutes on our balcony watching & listening to the spectacular lightning and thunder storm the ship was skirting around. When we went back to bed we could see the lights of Barcelona off in the distance, so it appeared we would make our scheduled 7:00AM arrival time. (Barcelona) PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN (Formal Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity for Barcelona: Barcelona Sightseeing - Half Day, $35 Gaudi & Barcelona - Half Day, $38 City Sightseeing & Spanish Village - Half Day, $38 Barcelona & Montserrat - Full Day, $85, including lunch Imagine our surprise 2½ hours later when we awoke again, only to find ourselves still at sea and sailing at high speed. A few minutes later a cabin intercom announcement advised that as we approached Barcelona the Captain was informed that the port had been blockaded by fisherman in sympathy with the trucker's blockades on land, over the high price of fuel. Thus the decision had been made to substitute Palma de Mallorca instead, and that was where we were headed. Planned arrival was around 12:30PM and departure at the same time (5:00PM) as originally scheduled for Barcelona. The announcement added that as a result of the port substitution we would also be a couple hours late arriving in Villefranche tomorrow. Tommie & I were thrilled because we had just spent 3 days in Barcelona less than 2 years ago (prior to the Grand Princess inaugural cruise) and only planned to do some shopping there anyway. Conversely, it had been more than 10 years since Tommie had been to Palma, and was a port I had never visited. However, it was a great disappointment to most other passengers onboard because Barcelona was one of the major ports on this cruise. Nonetheless, it is our opinion that Celebrity worked wonders with this last minute itinerary change, and had an addendum to the daily program and a port guide printed and available at the front desk by 9:00PM. The shopping guide commentator even quickly recorded a short shopping guide of Palma that was then broadcast over the TV, and they arranged for some stores that would normally be closed for siesta from 1:00-4:30PM to remain open while the ship was in port. Complimentary shuttle busses were also being made available for the long ride from the pier to the city center. We have been on several other cruises where a port was canceled for some reason and absolutely nothing was even attempted to placate disgruntled passengers. The ship did dock at 12:30PM, but then things started to get ugly as 1,000-1,500 passengers flooded onto the pier and swamped the 3 shuttle busses. We've been through situations like this before, and wanted no part of the conflicts and angry tempers that were sure to erupt. With another couple we disembarked the ship, walked a 100 yards down the pier, and hailed a taxi. Fifteen minutes and $5.00 later, we were at Majora Pearls (the furthest shop shown on the map provided by Celebrity) and were among the first to enter the almost empty store. We were served immediately and Tommie found earrings to match a necklace she received as a gift last year. By the time we left the tiny store ½ hour later, it was jam packed with 25 people from the Millennium-and another 50 or so waiting outside-all clamoring for service and complaining about the now hot and stuffy interior. We felt so sorry for the 3 sales clerks in the store who were inundated by increasingly hostile and pushy customers, each of whom demanded to be served next. We're sure each of the stores on the Celebrity map were experiencing the same nightmare. We spent the next couple hours strolling the wide boulevards, looking at the sights, and gradually working our way down to the waterfront, where we found the beautiful Palma Cathedral and surrounding grounds. Here we discovered that the drop off & pick up point for the shuttle busses was just down the street, so after resting a bit and taking pictures we caught the next available bus (not a problem from this end) for the 10 minute drive back to the ship, which we re-boarded just before 4:00PM. The Millennium sailed as scheduled at 5:00PM. After getting ready for Formal night (Captain's Farewell Party), we went to a lounge for dancing and then to the Martini Bar for a pre-dinner drink. Everywhere we went, the tension in the air from passengers complaining about today's missed port and subsequent Palma 'fiasco' was palpable. When we arrived in the dining room, a couple of gentlemen were sitting at our table but a quick wave to the maitre D' took care of that problem. Dinner was once again outstanding, and the Baked Alaska Parade fun as usual. VILLEFRANCHE, FRANCE (Informal Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Grand Corniche, Eze & Monaco - Full Day, $155, including lunch Nice, Eze & Monaco - Full Day, $145, including lunch Cannes, Grasse & St. Paul de Vence - Full Day, $145, including lunch Monte Carlo & Grand Casino - Half Day, $60 Monaco & Monte Carlo - Half Day, $55 Scenic French Riviera - Half Day, $50 Nice & St. Paul de Vence - Half Day, $50 We arrived in Villefranche at 9:00AM-2 hours later than originally scheduled, but on schedule according to what we were told yesterday-for what would prove to be yet another very frustrating day for many passengers. It was our only tender port, and although we found the tender service to be very smooth and efficient, we know that most others will disagree with our impression (for very GOOD reasons). A majority of passengers had to wait a long time in the Celebrity Theater for an available tender. This was due to the fact that the pier in Villefranche could only accommodate 2 tenders at a time and, since the Legend of the Seas was also in port that day, only 1 tender from each ship was allowed to moor. This significantly increased the amount of time it took to ferry almost 2,000 passengers ashore, even though Millennium did put 4 tenders into the water. We were fortunate however because one of the many benefits of having a suite includes priority tender tickets, which allow those passengers to board any tender without a wait. We boarded one of the 1st tenders at 10:00AM and were quickly whisked to the pier. One interesting note about the tenders is that they have an exterior upper deck accessible by a stairway from within the tender. Since the weather in Villefranche was outstanding, passengers were permitted to use the upper deck and were afforded magnificent views of the Millennium, Legend of the Seas, and the harbor as we transferred to and fro. Tommie & I spent 2½ hours touring the small town, which we had never really seen before because it was merely the starting point for tours to Nice and Monaco on some of our former cruises. The local train station was just a 5 minute walk from the pier and we saw many passengers just catching trains on their own to those same destinations. Just after 1:00PM we walked back to the pier and quickly boarded an almost empty waiting tender for the short trip back to the ship. We spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the warm sunshine by the Riviera Pool, and then watched as the tenders were raised around 5:30 in anticipation of our scheduled 6:00PM departure (or so we thought). What we did not know at the time was that a great majority of the tours did not even return to the pier until around 6:00PM, and that local pilot boats-which could only carry a fraction of the number of people a tender could-were then used for the next 2 hours to transport these tour passengers back to the ship. Some of these poor people waited on the pier for up to 1½ hours, or more, before being ferried back to the ship. And what greeted some of these very angry people when they finally got back aboard? Well, they had missed 1st seating dinner again-just like in Le Havre-and there was no place to eat! At least this time the Metropolitan Restaurant was able to accommodate some of these affected passengers at 2nd seating by placing them at tables where the regular guests were perhaps at the Olympic Restaurant or some other dining alternative. However, when we arrived in the dining room for dinner we witnessed at least one altercation between passengers when a 1st seating couple sat at their normal assigned table for 2 and refused to move when the couple that had that same table for 2nd seating arrived. The Maitre D' quickly arrived and moved the 1st seating couple to an empty spot elsewhere in the dining room. For us, dinner was once again excellent and we even got to enjoy a bottle of wine compliments of our former butler on the Mercury. But for all too many others, Celebrity now had many strikes against it and people were getting more and more disgruntled. But unfortunately, there were still more problems to come! Continue reading Wayne & Tommie's Millennium Review with Part IV! 10/03/00 Read Less
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part IV of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Sept 9-22, 2000 Cruise Report Part IV of IV 13-Night Western Europe (Captain's Club Reunion Cruise) Itinerary: Amsterdam, Sea Day, Zeebrugge, Le Havre, Sea Day, Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Sea Day, Barcelona, Villefranche, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Genoa --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CIVITAVECCHIA, ITALY (Casual Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Eternal Rome - Full Day, $168, including lunch A Walk in Rome - Full Day, $140, including lunch A Taste of Rome - Full Day, $93, partly guided, lunch on own Rome All Day On Your Own - Full Day, $70, transfer only, lunch on own Tarquina and the Etruscan Tombs - Half Day, $62 Exclusive Best of Rome - Full Day, $340, mini-busses, including lunch For the first time on this cruise the seas finally got a bit rough last night - now we know we're on a cruise! Millennium arrived just outside the Civitavecchia harbor in ample time to make our scheduled 7:00AM arrival, but for some reason-that was never explained-just positioned herself there and didn't move. Thus we were more than an hour late when we finally docked, and of course a majority of the passengers spent a great deal of that time crowded into the Celebrity Theater where they started to meet for their excursions as early as 7:15AM. Our smaller group boarded our private tour bus at 8:30AM and we were about the very first off the ship to do so. We thought that Paris was crowed, but it turned out to be picnic compared to Rome. This is a special Holy Year (the millennium) and The Eternal City was just packed with tourists. When we entered the Sistine Chapel, it was a wall-to-wall mass of people and we had to literally elbow our way from front to back. St. Peter's Basilica was almost as bad, and the courtyard was full of chairs so people were channeled along specific walkways and paths. We had visited the Colosseum first and thought it was crowded, but revised our opinion after seeing the Vatican! Although we got to see a great deal, the crowds and heat spoiled the day. Fortunately, Tommie & I have more pleasant memories of Rome to reflect upon. We returned to Millennium just before 7:00PM, as did a great majority of the other tours busses. The ship was originally scheduled to depart at 7:00PM, but ended up leaving about ½ hour late, as soon as the last excursion returned. Then at around 8:20PM the ship's emergency alarms started going off, and people were scurrying around wondering what to do because we were still cruising along. A short time later an announcement informed everyone that it was a malfunction in an electrical panel on the bridge, and that all was okay. Went to dinner as usual and once again found some late arriving 1st seating passengers being accommodated at the 2nd seating. However, the numbers were minuscule compared to last night. Dinner was very good again, and during dessert a couple of our Internet buddies dropped by the table to say hello. LIVORNO, ITALY (Casual Dress) Shore excursions offered by Celebrity: Florence & Pisa - Full Day, $155, including lunch Splendor of Florence - Full Day, $160, including lunch A Taste of Florence - Full Day, $90, partly guided, lunch on own Florence On Your Own - Full Day, $68, transfer only, lunch on own Pisa - Half Day, $50 Tuscany Wine Country - Half Day, $59, wine-salami-bread Exclusive Florence & Pisa - Full Day, $340, mini-busses, including lunch And the problems just keep on happening .... The seas were even rougher last night than the night before and we were rockin'-n-rollin' pretty good. We were scheduled to arrive at 7:00AM, but when Tommie & I awoke at 8:00 we found the ship just 'treading water' outside the harbor with plenty of other ships keeping her company. While we were eating our breakfast an announcement was made that the port was currently closed due to heavy winds and high seas, and that Millennium would stay in the area for another few hours in the hope the winds might die down. Tommie & I didn't hold out too much hope, so just lounged around for a good part of the morning and wondered how we should spend the credit from our soon-to-be canceled shore excursion. To our great surprise the ship did pull into port just after 11:00AM and it was announced that all tours, except our Tuscany Wine Country tour, had been canceled due to insufficient time. Effectively, there went yet another port for many passengers who would not get to see Florence, another of the major sights on the itinerary! Celebrity did arrange for extra busses to transfer guests back and forth to nearby Pisa ($30 per person), but this was small comfort to those who missed out on Florence. Tommie & I now wished we had used some of our time this morning more productively (such as packing!), but now had to get a quick lunch before our 12:15 tour departure. The Tuscany Wine Country excursion was great, and was such as nice way to end the cruise, especially after yesterdays disappointing Rome tour. The guide was personable, informative, and very humorous and the countryside was beautiful (it was another warm sunny day). We drove past Pisa and into the hills, and stopped at a delightful winery called Frattoria Michi where we had an extensive guided tour of the operations. We have been on lots of winery tours in the past, but most of those were huge commercial facilities. This was a smaller, more intimate winery (100,000 bottles per year) and extremely interesting. After the tour we were all seated at a long table where there were bowls of bread and platters of cheese and meats, plus three different wines to sample. Tommie & I liked one particular wine, so we purchased a bottle to enjoy with dinner this evening. After the winery we drove a short distance to a small village called Montecarlo de Lucca, and spent ½ hour there walking the narrow cobblestone streets and viewing the valley below from a couple vantage points. We then returned to the ship at 5:30PM and it sailed ½ later as scheduled. We spent the next couple hours packing, and then went for a Martini before dinner. Our final evening in the dining room was enjoyable, but we did not get the souffle that the Maitre D' had promised when we asked him on the first night of the cruise. GENOA, ITALY: Disembarkation & Trip Home I just happened to wake for a few minutes around 3:00AM and noticed that we were already in port - I can't say what time we actually arrived. We also can't say too much about Genoa because we were among the first off the ship at 6:30AM to catch our privately chartered bus for the short transfer to the Genoa airport, and our early morning 8:50AM flight. We did not have any problems with disembarkation or luggage, but understand from talking to others after we got home that some people did have issues with luggage and transfers. The Genoa cruise terminal certainly did not appear large enough to efficiently handle large volumes of luggage and passengers for embarkation or disembarkation. Our trip home was not without incident, but we caught all our British Airways flights (barely) and made it home as scheduled. However, the tiny Genoa airport was not a nice place to start the trek. We made our own flight arrangements to and from the cruise, so only have ourselves to blame! Summary Well we think you can appreciate from the above report that there were a lot of problems on this cruise. Many were not the fault of Celebrity, but clearly some of the scheduling, dining, and tendering issues definitely were. Posters on some Bulletin Boards were quick to coin this 'The Cruise From Hell,' and in many cases we can't fault their reasoning. However, missed ports are an unfortunate reality of cruising, and have happened to us on several occasions. We think Celebrity made an earnest attempt to provide alternate arrangements when these things happened, but unfortunately some of those even backfired. Celebrity does however suffer from a severe case of 'poor communication' when dealing with problems, something we also noticed on the Mercury. Another reality of the cruise experience is that shore excursions do not always run on time! Thus, individuals who choose early seating are always at risk of not arriving back from some excursions before the dinner hour, or having very little time after they get back from one to shower and get dressed for dinner. That is the PRIMARY reason many people select late seating! Late seating has its own set of drawbacks, including nightly buffets that occur just 1-1½ hours after they finish their meal, and frequently rescheduled theater entertainment to accommodate other evening activities. We think Celebrity did a commendable job of accommodating late arriving 1st seating passengers at 2nd seating in Villefranche and Civitavecchia, but fault them badly for the open seating fiasco in Le Havre. We were also very surprised that at least one of the four buffet sections in the Ocean Cafe was not available every evening, as is common on many other cruise lines. This would be preferable to the existing alternative dining concept which is mostly buffet style food service anyway. And in the case of Le Havre, the limited hours & methods by which a passenger can make reservations to dine here precluded those who suspected they might be late for regular dining to do so. We are very sympathetic to those who feel so cheated by this cruise. Had it been our first cruise with Celebrity, we might be inclined not to want to cruise with them again (although it is our practice to never form a permanent opinion about any cruise line until we have sailed with them at least twice). Had this been our first trip to Europe, we would have been terribly disappointed at missing two of the major ports. But our past experiences have taught us to also remember the positive aspects of each cruise (and there are always some), lest we return from our vacation more stressed out over the problems we encountered, than we were before we left. Of course we fully realize that our Captain's Club membership alleviated the embarkation delays encountered by many, that our suite amenities allowed us to avoid the dining and tendering problems which arose, and the fact that we had been to all the destinations before insulated us from being affected by the missed ports. However, if you were someone who was adversely impacted by ALL these problems, it might be very difficult to put a positive spin on the experience. But for Tommie & I this was a thoroughly enjoyable cruise, and we will not hesitate to cruise with Celebrity again. However, we will return on the Mercury or other 'older' ships in the fleet, and NOT choose to sail on the Millennium again, nor any of her sister ships. We do not feel the service issues in the dining room and other parts of the ship can be corrected because of the ship's design, and of course the location of the suites-which we took issue with earlier in this report-cannot be moved. Unfortunately, most of the cruise staff (restaurant waiters, cabin stewards, butlers, bar waiters, social hostesses, and others) that we talked to during the cruise all felt the same way - they can't wait for their current contracts to expire so they can return to one of the other ships. Perhaps this may account for some of the attitude of the crew .... We hope that some of the information contained in this report will be of assistance to those who might be contemplating a cruise on Millennium, and would welcome any questions or comments at the email address shown at the beginning of the report.10/03/00 Read Less
My wife and I just returned from the 10/2/00 sailing of the Millennium, and a report follows. The Ship: Elegance is the key word here -- although we both thought that the grand foyer was a bit too understated compared with the Century ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the 10/2/00 sailing of the Millennium, and a report follows. The Ship: Elegance is the key word here -- although we both thought that the grand foyer was a bit too understated compared with the Century class ships. There's lots of marble, wood and brass everywhere, which I prefer over metal and neon (a la Carnival). Our favorite spots on the ship would have to be the Rendez-Vous lounge for a couple of cocktails before dinner, and I also enjoyed relaxing over cappuccino in the Cova Cafe. The Notes listening room was also quite nice, my wife would go there and listen for two hours at a time, although the music collection didn't quite make it for my taste, which you could describe as eclectic at best. The aqua spa was beautiful also, although we never took advantage of the facilities. The casino is nice, but full of your typical cruise ship rip-off slot machines. The Food We never eat in the dining room for breakfast and lunch, so I can't speak for those menus. The Ocean Cafe, the Lido-type buffet dining area was quite good in my opinion, with the lunches being MUCH better than we experienced on the Galaxy last year. The Ocean Cafe serves a buffet breakfast which compares to the other lines in terms of quality -- in my opinion, nothing special. For lunch, there's a pasta station, where you can get the pasta dish of the day. I tried it one day, and it was very good, although they seem to go way overboard on the garlic. I could start to smell the garlic at least 50 feet before I got to the pasta station. As far as dinners go, I thoroughly enjoyed every dinner I had at the Metropolitan Restaurant. One thing that Celebrity does that I like is that there's a steak or prime rib-type dish on the menu every night, and the steaks are excellent. They also have excellent soups. One area that stands out for me is their breads and pastries -- first rate! There is also pizza which is very good, but served only certain hours. I think they should take a lesson from Carnival in that regard and offer it 24 hours. There were ice cream stations on each side that were open in the afternoon. While we're on the subject of dining, I have to mention the Olympic Restaurant. It is a wonderful experience, and anyone with a love of cruise ships has to appreciate the walnut paneling from the RMS Olympic. Along with the paneling, they also have original pieces of china and silver from the Olympic, as well as the ship's bell, which hangs in the restaurant foyer. There is one thing however, that has always annoyed me about cruise ships, and after 11 cruises I'm still saying it. I have a feeling that others share my opinion, though I seldom here anyone talk about it. The coffee served on cruise ships is AWFUL, and the Millennium in no exception. Coffee served in the dining room is decent, but not what I would call good. The coffee served in the Ocean Cafe was just terrible. I can't understand why a cruise line can't make a good cup of coffee, unless it's because they chlorinate the water so heavily. The Itinerary I'm sure that everyone would have a different opinion here. In general, I liked the ports; my favorites were Florence, Italy; Athens, and Santorini. I thought the shore excursions were poorly run. They never left on time, and the tour guides they used, while very knowledgeable, would never take into account that there were people in the group that couldn't walk as fast as they could, so passengers were getting lost on a regular basis. Another problem was that the ports of Rome and Florence were on consecutive days, the last two days of the cruise. Most people booked full day excursions in both ports because there's so much to see, and everyone was completely exhausted by the last day, and then we had to debark the next day. Not a big problem in the Caribbean, but in this case it was a two hour bus ride from Genoa to Milan, 1 1/4 hours from Milan to Frankfurt, Germany, and then 7 1/2 hours from Frankfurt to Boston. There should have been a day at sea either between Rome and Florence or the last day of the trip so everyone could rest a little before the long trip home. In general, we loved the cruise. We found the service in all areas of the ship to be superb, and the entire staff goes out of their way to say hello and be nice to you, even while just passing you in the hallways. We did notice the vibration, mostly in the Metropolitan Restaurant and the Ocean Cafe. The lights in certain areas of the ship would flicker and go dim for a few minutes and then brighten again for no reason. Hopefully the drydock in November will solve these problems. I have one final comment that I have to make here, and that's regarding the artwork. Maybe it's just me, but I thought the art collection on board the Millennium was just plain bad. If they call this art, then I'm in the wrong business, because I can do this!10/16/00 Read Less
Eastern Med Cruise 10/2/00-10/12/00 There are some really outstanding reviews of Millie already on the boards, so I'll not belabor the details with the ship but rather try to capture the "goods," the "others" ... Read More
Eastern Med Cruise 10/2/00-10/12/00 There are some really outstanding reviews of Millie already on the boards, so I'll not belabor the details with the ship but rather try to capture the "goods," the "others" (not so goods), and lessons learned/specifics from our East Med itinerary which I believe is the finest offered in Europe. Please excuse any verb tense errors as this was originally written as a live review from onboard. The Ship - This is our second cruise on Celebrity. The other was Zenith to Bermuda last summer. Millennium is a far more beautiful ship -- really in a class by itself with exceptional wood decor, teak in the spa area (even wood deck chairs). Everything is gorgeous and very tasteful with the possible exception of some strange 70's style carpet in a few spots and an overdone (to my way of thinking) casino -- but I hate Las Vegas and many commented they thought it was impressive. Words and Notes book and music libraries were both open and there is no pilferage problem on CDs as they are all in a central machine. You just log in the CD number and it loads automatically in a central machine. Book selection is acceptable. Spa is spectacular -- better than almost any health club ashore, let alone at sea. About 45 exercise machines (including full Nautilus), full barbells and exercise mats/aerobics equipment. Really a nice place to work off the groceries and it's right at the front of the ship where you can enjoy the view. Treatments are expensive ($120 for 50 min massage) but the appointments still go fast. Saunas are really nice with a 6 ft circular window for ocean view. Sauna room also has high pressure massaging showers -- very nice. The Thermal Suite with vapor cave, etc., is as good as reported and best value for $17/hour. Thalassotherapy pool (T. pool from now on) is also good. And...there is a light and healthy spa restaurant in pool area. The whole T. pool area is covered so you can enjoy it no matter what the weather. One touch I really like is teak flooring in the pool showers which keeps them from getting (too) slippery. Entertainment - as has been mentioned, harpist is excellent. Also superb acapella group Four Score. We had trouble staying awake for the second show, but did see Mark Preston (formerly one of the Lettermen) and he does a fine one man, Las Vegas style showroom routine. Consensus was that while only a couple of acts were first class, the overall entertainment was just fine. Most were not on this cruise for the shows - they were there for the ports which meant early wake-ups generally. Entertainment is more important for transatlantic or cruise with lots of days at sea. Passengers - Most 45+ with over 60% 60+. Only 18 minors were aboard. That meant it was civilized, quiet and easy to get into the workout room or hot tub. ;-) Our two teens had the run of the youth facilities with another couple's kids who are traveling with us. Most folks we met were very courteous and smiles all around. Easy to talk to. There were of course the habitual complainers who can never be satisfied. Crew - Overall they were very good. A few assistant waiters walked around glum in the daytime in Metro restaurant, but they were probably just tired and bored. Especially impressive was the personal attention each person got at port arranging documents to be ready for expeditious check-in. Every form pre-pulled and sorted. *Really* impressive. Also, the assistant hotel manager formatted my computer disk for me in his office. You have to bring a disk to save to as you lose everything typed in cyberlounge when you end your session or change programs. Embarkation - Biggest complaint early on was lost luggage. You know the drill. Airlines don't get it there and cruise line can't do anything but their passengers are still mad. For this reason I think it is a must to arrive at least a day early. We came a day early just from Switzerland. You can board earlier, be fresh and ready to enjoy. There were some folks who came in from Japan, Rio, and California. I can tell you they were zombies in the lifejacket drill and almost sleeping in their soup at dinner. (BTW, after recent Greek tragedies everyone was really paying attention in drill...) Some were in jet lag fog until third day. If you do fly in on day of cruise departure, cross-packing is a good idea -- put some of each others clothes in the other suitcase so no one is totally out of luck with one piece of lost luggage. Carrying on some basics (shorts, polos, bathing suits, underthings) is also a good idea. One couple I met whose luggage didn't make it received tux and a black dress (waitress's) from Celebrity for formal night, so they will try to help. There were quite a few bags which came on board at Malta on Day 3. We arrived at Genoa port at 1200; boarding started at 1230. There are a couple of little coffee shops and stand up bars at the port where you can get a sandwich or drink. Not many facilities at the reception building (but very clean bathrooms were welcome surprise). There was a crush of people in line with number 1 for boarding and they had to move for handicapped (there was no room to get by) and number 0 (suites and Captain's Club). Joining Captain's Club was about the best $35 I ever spent. Boarding started at 1230 and we were in our cabin at 1240. We booked all spa treatments and made Olympic restaurant reservations by phone and that was a good choice because the At Sea days filled quickly. We were enjoying an excellent buffet lunch by 1PM. Booking by phone looked like an even better choice when we got to the spa later and found out they give you a 20 min spa tour (you are actually "roped in") before you get to make bookings at the desk. It's a very nice facility and tour is good, but that's 20 mins most people don't want to spend at that time, especially if they are tired and hungry. Went in person to Maitre d' and I think I was first there but no chance to change from table for 8 to a 4. Problem is there only a handful of 2's and 4's and they are prebooked. No realistic possibility to change, so get what you want before you arrive. Tables on deck 5 close to railing and in center of lower level (deck 4) have a fine view off the stern in daytime, but it is usually covered at night. Weather - it rained in Genoa and first morning at sea, but it turned fine with daytime temp 75 and evenings high 50s. October sailors will definitely want sweaters and windbreakers. I wore a light polypro vest in the evenings on veranda and I saw lots of others with them as well. It also layers well with a light jacket if it really gets cool. We had a big storm in the morning in Athens but it cleared nicely for sightseeing and the rest was been partly cloudy, highs in the 70s. It cooled off noticeably during the cruise and the highs were only in the 60s by late October. I would guess the pools and pool deck will be pretty chilly by the 23 Oct cruise. The T. Pool is heated and covered and there are also two whirlpools there, so you can enjoy those even in very poor weather. On Board - Yessirree there was vibration at the back, but only one time (backing down on arrival into Malta at 6AM) was it serious enough to really be disturbing -- woke us after 5 hours sleep. Rest of the time the captain seems to run up to a speed where he encountered the vibration and backed off until it went away. This east Med itinerary doesn't have any really long runs, so he never had to push it. I expect that's one of the reasons they extended the Translant -- so they can go slower. Our Cat 3 stateroom was even bigger and better than we imagined. (I think you could easily hold a BBQ for 10 on the veranda!!). Two sofa beds in a separate area (with sliding divider) for teens. As opposed to earlier reports both do indeed open -- one flips lengthwise (the full-length sofa) and the loveseat folds out. Both very comfortable. Enough closet and storage space for all. We did get to see a corner Cat 3 cabin because an A/C pipe leaked before embarkation and soaked about 5 rooms -- theirs being one. Bad luck, but it dried out and they are moved in on Day 3. Big difference between corner and "inside" Cat 3 is a little longer balcony (which you can see from brochure) and an extra closet -- which would be handy on a 14 day trip. There are also 2 chaise loungers and 4 deck chairs as opposed to 2 each we had. Side view is nice but could get rugged if it gets windy. I believe they have recently added privacy canvas (don't seeing it in Paul Jaffe's pix) above the middle third of these long verandas to give more privacy from those looking off the railing in Ocean Cafe. (BTW, there are some of the side verandas which are also bigger than others. The standard veranda will barely hold two straight-back chairs and a dinner plate size table.) We were right above the monster 1500 sq ft suite with 1000 sq ft deck and it is truly amazing. Amenities - for those trying to save room in luggage, stateroom bathrooms are furnished with good shampoo, french milled soap, and excellent cocoa butter lotion. You also get a nice canvas excursion bag and robes in all cabins. A bike water bottle is a very useful item to bring. Fresh and really good towels twice a day, bathrobes provided for all (even kids), and large bath with lots of storage. Mini-bar is nice for when you really want something. Booze expensive ($3.95/miniature and up). Sodas $1.95. They do not push bottled water on you but they do push the Welcome Aboard cocktails. After that though they don't push drinks at the pool area. The drinks at Captains Club cocktail last night were best I've ever had at one of those events (I usually ask for beer but red wine was very drinkable). Food & Wine - Welcome aboard buffet excellent -- very, very fresh salads, fresh fish, pasta, cheeses, breads, and decadent desserts are available throughout. Burger bars are very good. Pizza is outstanding. Room service menu is very good. We order something small from room service (e.g., veggie pizza) as hors d'oeuvres to go with cocktails on veranda as we are in late seating. The salmon is the best I have seen anywhere -- perfectly cooked. Veal and other meat dishes are good; escargots, soups, and filet mignon at formal night were spectacular (2" thick!). I do recommend you order steak one doneness less than you like (e.g., very rare for rare; medium rare for medium, etc) as it does continue to cook under the plate cover enroute. Easier to send back for more cooking than be disappointed with overdone. Some very good luncheon items in Metro restaurant (e.g., seafood - scallops, salmon, and shrimp - stuffed melon). Check menu on deck 4 starboard restaurant entrance. We were very happy Celebrity now has soda card (one benefit of RCI merger). $4.50 per day for unlimited sodas even in dining room. Overall food was just as good as Zenith before merger. And even better is the new spa cafe by the T. pool. Hardly anyone there. Very healthy breakfast and dinner fare. While others queued up for 10-15 mins after excursion for lunch buffet (which, at least for entrees, is basically cafeteria fare), we had poached salmon with crisp asparagus and endive for lunch. Spa cafe has best salads on the ship -- both fruit and vegetable, fresh tilapia filet, salmon tartare, even lobster salad sometimes. Breakfast is better in Ocean Cafe than restaurant (unless you want Eggs Benedict or poached eggs). They have everything else and you can control what goes in your omelette, etc. The first salad listed every night is offered dressed which makes it tend to wilt quickly. If you want that salad ask for it undressed and they will dress at the table for you. There is a good beef entrEe every night - filet steak was offered 5 or 6 times; beautiful lobster on second formal night. Pizzas were a real hit with everyone. Ate at the Olympic one night and it was truly spectacular. Most dishes prepared tableside. The highlight was appetizer of shrimp twice the size of your thumb wrapped in pancetta and flambEed before your eyes. More than worth the $12 per person which only goes to gratuities for the staff. There was no lunch in restaurant in Athens as Captain (Greek) had president of Greece and many other dignitaries aboard since this is Millie's first trip there. Overall, while some of the buffet fare can be uneven there are enough fantastic dishes each day to please even the most discerning gourmet. Martini bar is nice and not a bad value - $6.95 for a large (double) select brand (e.g., Bombay Sapphire) martini (keep the shaker too for $6!). Wine selection is excellent and not unreasonably priced, but you have to know your wine. Many are priced the same price you could buy them in grocery or liquor store, others are double. Best values I' found were Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc ($24) and St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon ($25). There are some cheapskates around but I tell them that the $275 or so I'll spend on having a bottle of wine each evening is less than some of the shore excursions. Bring a bottle of hooch in your suitcase if you want to save. Incidentally, there are a couple of duty free shops right at the port at Malta and you can easily bring a bottle on. I saw no one checking. I think Celebrity's philosophy is you can do what you want in your room, but they are not going to be thrilled if you start uncorking wine on the pool deck. Bring wine back on, have it chilled and served for $6 corkage. Particularly good idea with the Turkish, Santorini, and Italian wines which can be had in decnt quality for $6-$7/bottle. Destinations - We had no problems with port tours interfering with meal times. Most tours are half-day and return at 1:00-1:30. The sights are closer to the ports on this East Med itinerary than Paris to Le Havre, etc. Civitavecchia/Rome and Livorno/Florence are long days. Both can be reached on your own by train but be aware that the Italian trains we took were all late and unreliable so take one or two before the last one which will get you to the port for sail-away. In general the less tours you take the better -- mostly because you get worn out with early wake-ups for 8:00 AM departures (breakfast at 6:45-7:00). Definitely no reason to take tours at Valletta or Santorini. Genoa is a nice city with a day's worth of sightseeing to do, but stay on main streets. They degenerate into narrow alleys with some pretty swarthy residents if you get off the main streets. Dollar is so strong everything in Italy is really cheap. Bottle of wine in restaurant $5. There is an excellent seafood restaurant (with piles of fresh fish in the window) across from the Aquarium right by the port. Grilled seafood in Genoa cannot be beat. Try grilled calamari, shrimp and swordfish (ship is not serving *that*!). Aquarium is also very good. Valletta - very nice, but only a half day there -- left at 1PM. But 3 hrs is enough to check it out. Cathedral and president's palace both excellent. Shore/harbor excursion goers said it wasn't worth it. Once you run the gauntlet of taxi drivers you can walk up the hill into town in about 20 mins. Kataklon - We could not dock and used ships tenders to go ashore. There is a small but respectable shopping and restaurant area at the port. The Olympia tour received mixed reviews. Consensus was taxi for a self-guided tour was better. Tragically, a 45 year old woman dropped dead at Olympia. Her husband was an MD and he could do nothing to revive her. There were also apparently two minor heart attacks so the medical staff was busy. We saw a good deal of baggage being off-loaded at Athens so apparently several people left the ship there. Very, very sad. Piraeus/Athens - Piraeus is about 7 mi from Athens but it can take an hour to drive via bus or taxi. The Acropolis/Parthenon tour we were on was quite good, but the traffic and the popularity of the tour made it less than ideal in transit. There were over 1,000 lined up in theater for their tour numbers and the jam of people at the port (mostly from Greek ferries) made it impossible for efficient debarkation -- took one hour to get off the ship (but NOT Celebrity's fault). They tell you the Metro is 15-20 mins walk from port, but actually there is a closer stop (FIARRI) right across the street from the pier Millie uses. I would recommend taking the Metro and hiring your own guide at Parthenon. Don't miss the Acropolis Museum -- excellent. Biggest issue in Athens was confusion over the full-day acropolis tour which did not even visit the Parthenon (acropolis mean hill overlooking city and there are lots in Greece....). Make sure you get the tour you want! Our neighbor took taxi to Acropolis, private guide, had lunch, and Metro return for $30 (could have been $25 with Metro both ways). If you are not comfortable navigating around the tour is a better bet. By the way, in addition to the worst traffic in Europe Athens is a city crumbling and in disarray. Lots of work to do before they host Olympics in 2004. Kusadisi - In contrast to Athens, this part of Turkey is beautiful and clean. Ephesus is a must see destination and the tour is nice, especially since it is 11 miles from port. Most shop in afternoon -- good values on jewelry and rugs. The other option is to avoid the crowds at Ephesus in the AM by shopping then and take taxi to Ephesus in the afternoon. Plenty of private guides available. Avoid, at all costs, the large Bazaar at the port where you will get the bum's rush from merchants. The recommended stores, while aggressive, will treat you with respect and take their time with you. Santorini -Beautiful volcanic island with white-washed everything - most thought this was the best port. Nice jewelry shops and wineries. Very pretty village and merchants here are more relaxed than elsewhere. People brought beer, wine, whatever they like back to the ship unchallenged. Iraklion Crete - Most who went to Knossos were disappointed. They said it was more a pile of rocks than a distinuishable ruin. Much better is the museum in towm - really spectacular artifacts, sculptures, and models of the palace at Knossos as it looked millenia ago. Civitavecchia/Rome - Civitavecchia is a nice port town in its own right and some who had seen Rome just stayed there. We had a private driver to take us to Rome for a General Audience with the Pope (he does these Wednesdays). Very nice. Many taxis at the port and prices are not bad. A free shuttle takes you to the train station and its about an hour into town. The Vatican by itself took us all day. Museum, Cistene Chapel, and St Peters are all breathtaking. If you want to see more than a couple of sights take the city tour. The distances via the subway or on foot are too far. You need to buy subway tickets at a tabak or newspaper shop with a "T" sign. Livorno/Florence - Many took the train on their own and loved Florence. Tours there are quite expensive. We were going to go to Cinque Terre instead (one hour train north of Livorno). It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast on the riviera, and has excellent walks and picnic spots. Alas, we were too tired from Rome and needed a day to unwind and finish our library books before Genoa. For photos from this East Med cruise way better than those I took (with exception of some great fantail sunsets I'll post later) go to http://psp.club.tip.nl/ . By: attacheshack@datacomm.ch10/26/00 Read Less
Inaugural Caribbean Voyage December 17 - 24, 2000 "Good Vibrations" Background This was my second cruise - the first being in July 2000 to Alaska on Celebrity's Galaxy. I traveled on this adventure with my husband, ... Read More
Inaugural Caribbean Voyage December 17 - 24, 2000 "Good Vibrations" Background This was my second cruise - the first being in July 2000 to Alaska on Celebrity's Galaxy. I traveled on this adventure with my husband, Barry (his first cruise), my daughter, Melanie (her third cruise) and Barry's mom, Margie (her fourth cruise). When we decided on the spur of the moment to cruise the Caribbean on this particular week, our first two choices were either the Grand Princess or the Millennium. The Grand Princess was fully booked, so we ended up on the Millennium, which was probably my first choice anyway because my experience last summer on the Galaxy was wonderful. There has also been quite a bit of hype concerning the Millennium, and I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. Embarkation We booked our own airfare and flew from Dallas to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday morning. My first glimpse of the ship was from the airplane and her distinctive dark blue hull and large "X" are an amazing sight from the air. Celebrity's trademark "X" on the ship's funnel made her easy to pick out from the Costa Atlantica, Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas and the Grand Princess docked nearby. (The "X" is actually an uppercase rendition of the Greek letter "chi" as in Chandris, the family name of the founder of Celebrity Cruises.) We took a cab to the pier at Port Everglades ($10 including tip) and arrived at the ship at about 1pm. There were no lines and we boarded quickly. Embarkation, though, had started at 10:30am this particular morning, as there were no passengers leaving from the previous cruise since the Millennium had just come out of dry dock. Women were given a white rose upon embarkation. All passengers were also given a hardback book describing the building of the Millennium - which was waiting for us in our stateroom. The Ship I can't imagine a cruise ship that could be more classy and elegant than the Millennium. The dEcor in all the public areas and staterooms is a combination of understated luxury and comfort - contemporary in style as is Celebrity's trademark with many aspects of a traditional luxury ocean liner. Following is a brief description of some of my favorite public spaces. Grand Foyer One embarks the Millennium on Deck 3 to the awesome sight of the Grand Foyer's backlit onyx staircase (lined with poinsettias), marble floors, three-story silk draperies, and panoramic glass elevators. Up the stairs on Deck 4 are tables for two and four placed all around the open area around the staircase. This was a focal point on the ship where people met, mingled and played cards and games throughout the day. Rendez-Vous Lounge This drinking/dancing/gathering spot is just outside the Metropolitan Restaurant on Deck 4. This room has a relatively casual atmosphere with plush seating in bright colors. Karaoke was held here on the two formal nights and dancing was held here nightly. There are large round windows looking out to sea and, as on the Galaxy, this was my favorite room on the ship. Metropolitan Restaurant All the way aft on Decks 4 and 5, the Metropolitan Restaurant is decorated in a beautiful amalgam of reds, blues and golds with wood accents. Except for a few poorly placed tables-for-two near the wall, there appeared to be no "bad tables," as every table either faced a window, a railing looking out to the area below or, for those lucky diners seated on Deck 4 in the center, a sweeping vista of the entire room and the soaring blue-lit two-story ceiling. Platinum Club This room gets my vote for the most beautiful room on the Millennium. Done in purples and grays with art deco crystal chandeliers and sconces lining the walls, this area was where the martini and caviar bar was located. Music from the Rendez-Vous Lounge directly below permeates this lounge through a large open area in the center of the room. Ocean Cafe/Ocean Grill This area contains the buffet breakfast and lunch, pizza, sushi bar, pasta bar, omelet station, ice cream station, afternoon tea and several of the midnight buffets. The ship is wider at this point than the decks below, and dining at a table near the window gives a feeling of actually being out over the water. Adding to this ambiance are portholes in the floor looking down directly to the water (and not coincidentally, into passengers' verandas on the decks below). There is also an outdoor area in the rear of the ship where one can dine alfresco on a teak deck. This was my favorite place to eat breakfast. Aquaspa The Aquaspa on the Millennium is divided into two separate areas. The area closer to the front of the ship contains the treatment and massage rooms, the hair salon, and gym facilities that afford a panoramic view of the ocean. (I did not have a spa or salon treatment on this cruise, so I cannot comment on that aspect of the spa.) The gym is quite large and has a large assortment of equipment. Even though there was a sign up sheet for the treadmills, there was rarely a problem finding an open one. The area of the Aquaspa closer to midship consists of the Thalassotherapy Pool, more familiarly known on the Millennium as the Hydropool. It is located on a raised teak deck indoors under a glass canopy in a lovely room with teak deck chairs with yellow and green pillows. This pool costs $20 per day on the Galaxy, and it was a real treat for it to be complimentary on the Millennium. The pool has body jets, neck massages and two stainless steel beds to lie on and have the water rush over you. We had rough seas on this cruise, and the Hydropool became akin to a wave pool at a water park. Many passengers complained about the number of kids in the Hydropool, but I never experienced this or maybe it just didn't bother me. I used the pool daily between 10am and noon and also between 5 and 7 pm. when the majority of children were at dinner. I find it interesting that people choose to book their cruise during the winter holidays from school and then get their funnel all bent out of shape when there are kids in the pool. Riviera Pool This is a gorgeous outdoor pool area between the Ocean Cafe and the Hydropool on Deck 10. There is a small lap pool with a rock waterfall flowing into it, a curved pool and four hot tubs. The grill serves hamburgers and hot dogs at lunchtime and pizza in the afternoon. Cosmos Located on Deck 11, this is the ship's disco at night and observation lounge during the day, with a view over the bow of the ship, equal to that which the navigational bridge provides for the ship's officers two decks below. Sports Court Climbing a stairway just behind the funnel on Deck 11 (just under the big "X"), Barry reached the sports court area in time for a casual volleyball game. This area is always available for full-court basketball and darts, but a volleyball net is set up at scheduled times. The area is surrounded by a ~15-foot net but is open at the top. Believe it or not, this proved to be a problem about 15 minutes into the volleyball game. Taking a pass at the center of the court, an enthusiastic setter placed the ball over the net and onto the jogging track on Deck 11. Since no jogger was there to take the set, the ball bounced over the railing and into the sea eleven stories below. Basketball practice began shortly thereafter. Miscellaneous There are several intimate areas on the ship consisting of a few tables and chairs or a sofa strategically placed in an almost private area. Check out the one on Deck 3 behind the glass elevators. The promenade deck was difficult to enjoy as it did not completely encircle the ship and had an unattractive cork-type of flooring instead of a wooden floor. The photographers were not as aggressive as on the Galaxy and the photo gallery was not located in as high a traffic area either. I don't know if they sold as many photos, though. Stateroom We occupied two staterooms. Barry and I were housed in Room 7183 on Deck 7 - the Vista Deck. This is a Premium Ocean-View Stateroom with Veranda - Category 1C. We had a queen-sized bed, loveseat, dresser/desk with chair and mirror, coffee table, TV, minibar, double closet with multiple drawers and a safe, bathrobes, and a bathroom identical to our bathroom on the Galaxy. At 190 square feet, we did not feel at all confined and the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall sliding glass door to our veranda made the room feel even bigger. There was ample storage space in the dresser and closet. We could not hear any noises from the adjoining staterooms, although you can hear toilets flushing from outside in the hall. The bathroom contains a shampoo dispenser in the shower, a lotion dispenser by the sink, a hair dryer and plush towels. Water temperature in the shower was inconsistent though, and frequently lukewarm at best. Our stateroom attendant Arthur and his assistant Ryan kept the room spotless and the ice bucket and pitcher fully stocked for us. Interactive TV allowed us to check the status of our account, order shore excursions (I did not do that this time but did so without problem on the Galaxy), order wine for dinner, order breakfast room service and edit and check closing prices of stocks in your stock profile. We enjoyed ordering breakfast from room service and eating out on our veranda. I also ordered a room service lunch when I arrived back on the ship from Grand Cayman and enjoyed dining outside and watching the tenders come and go from Spotts Bay. I will probably not cruise again without a veranda. I can only imagine how much better a veranda would be in a place like Alaska, where the scenery is so much prettier. Our room was directly over some of the large suites on the ship, and although I felt we had relative privacy on our veranda, the occupants of the suites below us on Deck 6 definitely did not. Since the ship is 5 or 6 feet wider on Deck 6 than Decks 7-9, a look right or left afforded us a view into the verandas below us. Thus it is necessary to plan carefully when booking a veranda stateroom (or suite) on the Millennium. A few staterooms on Deck 6 have the lifeboats directly below them, and a few staterooms on Deck 9 are directly under the overhangs of the Ocean Cafe (and the downward-looking "portholes"). Melanie and Margie occupied Room 8021 on Deck 8 - the Panorama Deck. This is a Deluxe Ocean-View Stateroom with Veranda - Category 2A. Their room was identical to ours except it was about 3 feet shorter (171 square feet versus 190 square feet). Whereas we had a loveseat, they had what can be described as a large easy chair. Their dresser/desk was also proportionately smaller. Dining Dinner -Dining on the Millennium is a five-star experience not to be missed. Although I felt the presentation of the dishes in the main dining room was slightly better on the Galaxy, I certainly have no complaints about any dining aspect on the Millennium. We dined at the late seating at Table 507 in the far aft area of the Metropolitan Restaurant on Deck 5. We were at a table for eight, and our tablemates, Debbie and Howard from Tucson, and honeymooners Tonya and Greg from the Denver area, were delightful companions with which to share dinner and conversation. Our waiter, Cesar, and assistant waiter, Jose, were exceptional in every way and anticipated our every want and need. Dinners consisted of a choice of four appetizers, three soups, two salads, five entrees, and six desserts including an array of homemade ice creams and sherbets. Every night, the choice of entrEe included beef, fish, and pasta selections with two additional selections of either lamb, veal, duck, lobster, shrimp, pork, chicken or turkey. No dish is repeated in the course of the week. The Millennium seems to do beef better than any other dish, as all the beef dishes we had were excellent, especially the filet mignon. Dinner on the Millennium was the high point of our day. Buffets -I didn't eat many of the lunch buffets, as I really enjoy leisurely lunches in the main dining room (do not miss the Viennese chocolate pudding offered on the last day). On days when this wasn't possible, I called for room service or ate something out by the pool. Breakfast from the buffet was pretty good, though, and it was really enjoyable out behind the Ocean Grill on the teak deck. The pizza was also excellent, as evidenced by the long lines. We usually went to afternoon tea, even if it was just to meet up with everyone after not being together all day. There was one small glitch in the cruise concerning the breakfast and lunch buffets. Basically, the times listed in the Millennium Daily for the buffets were incorrect more often than they were correct. The buffet was open when you thought it had closed and, more frustratingly, was closed when you thought it was open. The biggest problem was, I believe, Wednesday morning in Cozumel when the breakfast buffet closed at 9am as did the dining room, and the only option for breakfast after 9am was the late-risers buffet with its 30-minute line and no food when you got there because they had run out. It appears they tried to compensate for this by leaving the breakfast buffet open longer on Thursday (a sea day) and also leaving the lunch buffet open until 4:30pm the day we were in Grand Cayman. Midnight Buffets - We went to two of the midnight buffets. The Italian Buffet on the first night looked wonderful, but we were too stuffed to think about eating - we had just finished dinner one hour before. The Grand Buffet on the last formal night is a sight to behold, even if you do not eat anything. On the Galaxy, the line to take pictures was long and very slow moving, so we chose to go into this buffet nearer to closing time at 1am. There was almost no one there and we got all the pictures we wanted. Room Service - Room Service was very quick (five minutes - and always delivered by our assistant room steward, who I always tipped), but 100% of the time the order was filled incorrectly. For instance, we would get tea bags but no hot water, a huge coffee urn that was completely empty or pita bread instead of a baguette. When I called to correct the problems, they were taken care of immediately. We used room service more on this cruise than on the Galaxy because we had the veranda, but I remember the same problems on that ship as well. On Friday night, the last formal night, Melanie had just come from the doctor, and was in no shape to get dressed and go to the dining room. Ryan, our assistant room steward, brought us a dinner menu, and we ordered a full five-course dinner to be eaten in our stateroom. (FYI-This meal was delivered exactly as ordered, as I wrote down what we wanted and handed it to him.) Ryan contacted the chef personally about the possibility of our having the evening's special dessert, Baked Alaska, delivered to our room. The chef said he would only deliver it if it could arrive before melting. Ryan brought us petit fours and ice cream just in case it didn't arrive, but about 10 minutes later a dining room waiter arrived and ceremoniously presented us our Baked Alaska - still relatively frozen and so delicious! Olympic Restaurant Based on recommendation from my travel agent and from information I had read online, the first thing I did upon arriving on the ship was to rush to the Olympic Restaurant to make dinner reservations. My first surprise was the $25 per person surcharge instead of the $12 that I had been expecting. I made a reservation for Thursday night anyway, and we looked forward to dining there all week. I felt the service in the Olympic was not substantially different from the Metropolitan. First impressions are important, and it didn't take long to realize that, unlike in the Metropolitan, our napkins were not removed from our plates and placed in our laps when we were seated. Now I know what you must be thinking - this woman is too lazy, etc., to put her own napkin in her lap. The only point I'm trying to make is that after being pampered in this way all week in the Metropolitan Restaurant, when this gesture didn't occur in a restaurant the caliber of the Olympic, it was something I noticed. Margie also had to ask on one occasion to have her water glass refilled. Again, no big deal, but this never happened in the Metropolitan. After we ordered, we were brought a small dish of mussels. Barry and I had the goat cheese soufflE for our appetizer, which was excellent but very rich. Margie had the Russian Salad - which consists of lobster and assorted vegetables tossed with a creamy dressing - which she enjoyed. Melanie had the Caesar salad, and when the salad was presented to her already on her plate, I inquired that I thought it was to be tossed tableside. I was informed that it was tossed tableside, just not at our table. For our main dish, Barry, Margie and I ordered the sea bass. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it a 5. Melanie ordered the flambEed shrimp but didn't like it. The waiter seemed quite intent on pleasing her and substituted the chicken without hesitation. The cheese selection was excellent as were the desserts. I can wholeheartedly recommend the chocolate soufflE which is new on the menu for the Caribbean. Margie had Master Chef Michel Roux's six individual selections - a small crème brulEe, cheesecake, ice cream, and several more. She highly recommends this as well. Barry ordered the Olympic vanilla pudding. Be forewarned, this dish is very, very rich, so much so that he was unable to finish it. Coffee was excellent, and the tea was made from real tea leaves. No tea bags here. Although I wouldn't call this a once-in-a-lifetime or a not-to-be-missed experience, it was very enjoyable and certainly worth the small investment. Shopping The Emporium is the Millennium's vast shopping arcade on Deck 5. Shops include Cova, Michel Roux, DKNY, Paul and Shark, Coach, Versace, Fendi, H. Stern, a logo shop, a liquor store, sundries shop, watch shop, two womens' clothing shops, and a perfume shop. Prices seemed high and the logo shop was the only one that ever seemed busy. Every day, new merchandise was brought out with signs proclaiming "This just arrived!" On a whim one afternoon, I asked a clerk how new items can arrive while we're at sea. We both had a good laugh at how this marketing technique works, even on the high seas. Gaming Fortunes Casino is decorated in the style of old Monte Carlo with inlaid mosaics in the floor, "marble" columns (go touch them - they're plastic!) and replicas of statues that can be found in the Louvre. The lowest minimum at the blackjack tables was $10, even in the morning, and the 5-cent slot machines were never turned on. Go figure. Entertainment Celebrity Theater -This is a huge theater, taking up three decks and the entire front of the ship. Sightlines were good in all seats except the very back ones on Deck 4. The audio system though, seemed to be tuned for Deck 4, and was a problem for those sitting in the balcony (accessible from Deck 5 and via staircases at the back of the theatre). I attended the three production shows: - "Pure Platinum," a medley of pop songs from the 1940's through the 1990's - "Classique, A Musical Odyssey," a medley of classics through the ages, and: - "Spectacle of Broadway," a medley of Broadway show tunes. Celebrity production shows are all alike - glitzy, colorful yet tasteful costumes, and singing and dancing to songs that appeal to most of the guests on board. This is not meant as a negative comment as the shows are excellent and I wouldn't miss one. They are just very, very predictable. Other theater entertainment included a comedian and a pianist. I cannot comment on these as I did not attend. The Caribbean steel drum band, Onyx, who played frequently out at the pool and in the Cosmos Lounge was excellent, also, as was the Young Duo, who performed nightly in the Rendez-Vous Lounge. Medical Facilities We had the unfortunate experience of making a visit to the medical center when my daughter, Melanie, came down with a respiratory infection. The Ecuadorian doctor we saw, Fabian Bonilla, was professional and to the point, but was sorely lacking in a bedside manner. However, he appeared quite competent and the antibiotic he prescribed did the trick. When you think of how difficult it is on a land based vacation to find a doctor versus the ease of just walking into the medical center on the ship and walking out 15 minutes later with the medication you need, it makes cruising all that much more attractive. Passengers/Crew The ship was full at 2400 passengers, but aside from a few lines in the Ocean Cafe and at pizza time, crowds were not a problem. This ship has a very large guest-to-space ratio, and thus there is rarely a feeling of crowding. There was never a wait for an elevator. Many ships smaller in size than the Millennium carry many more passengers. I was amazed at the wide range of ages on this cruise - babies in strollers, seniors, and everything in between. I felt, for the most part, people were very friendly. Every time I sat down to an open seating lunch or breakfast or got in the hot tub, I had no trouble making a new friend. As far as the crew is concerned, we had an overall positive experience. Our maitre'd, or assistant restaurant manager as they call him on the Millennium, was never around though. I only saw him once, and didn't even know his name as he never introduced himself to us. He was smart enough, though, to not be around on the night tips were given out either. Our waiter received what would have gone to him. On the Galaxy, our maitre'd was at our table every night, knew us by name, and always had stories to tell or games and magic tricks to regale us with. We enjoyed that. One outstanding crew member was Jim Cannon, the cruise director. He was very professional and top-notch in every way. He was involved in everything and was always around. I'm wondering if he ever slept! On our Galaxy cruise, we never even saw the cruise director. Smoking Although this is not a non-smoking ship, I was never bothered by smoke. One side of the ship was designated as smoking, and the other as non-smoking, and to tell you the truth, I didn't even know which was which, because there appeared to be very little smoking anywhere. This was true on the Galaxy, as well. Vibrations So much has been written about the Millennium's famous vibrations. To quote from page 32 in the Millennium book made available to us in our stateroom, "because gas turbines generate energy by rotation, not reciprocation, they are far less likely to produce onboard vibration than multi-cylinder diesel engines." I'm not sure I know what that statement means, and I have only been on two cruises, but I can tell you what I experienced. On the first two nights in the dining room-in the far back of the ship-we felt a slight vibration, almost exactly the same as the vibrations we felt every night at dinner on the Galaxy, which does not have a gas turbine system. On the night of the Grand Buffet at 1am, also in the very back of the dining room, we felt the large vibrations (glasses and dishes rattling, etc.) that I assume the Millennium is known for. It lasted only a few seconds, though, and I can only assume that these are the vibrations for which she went into dry dock in order to try to correct. As far as I know, no one was falling out of their beds, as was the rumor circulating about one of the Carnival ships that was following us. Ports of Call My priority in cruising is the ship and the sea. Ports of call are secondary and I enjoy spending port days on the ship when it is relatively empty. Nevertheless, here is my take on our four Western Caribbean ports of call. Key West -We took the complimentary shuttle from the ship into town and did a little shopping and walked to the Hemingway House. Key West is very, very touristy and appears to be geared towards the cruise ship passenger and his/her need to lighten his/her pocketbook. Calica - Calica is a gravel quarry and basically a parking spot for the ship and a jumping off point for tours of the ruins of Tulum. There is also an eco-archeological "theme" park, Xcaret, right next to the ship. We treated this a "sea day" and did not leave the ship. Cozumel - Cozumel is a busy port and we were docked next to the Ryndam, the Sensation and the Ecstasy. The Celebration was also in port at the same time. Melanie had her hair partially braided, then we took a cab ($5) into San Miguel where Margie surprised us and bought Melanie, herself and me matching 6-carat tanzanite tennis bracelets. Life is good! Grand Cayman - By the time we got to Grand Cayman, all water-based shore excursions booked through the ship had been cancelled and we did not dock in Georgetown, but down the road a bit at Spotts Bay. Melanie was ill by this time, and stayed on the ship with Barry and Margie and I went into town to get my Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt (I now have 23). Taking the tender from the ship, then a communal "taxi" ride (really a large van) into town, then repeating this journey on the way back and waiting for the return tender to the ship for over 30 minutes not knowing what ship I was in line for was not a pleasant experience. I would like to return to Grand Cayman at some point and spend a week at a resort on Seven Mile Beach, but a seven-hour layover there from a cruise ship is not my idea of how to enjoy a destination such as Grand Cayman. Debarkation We encountered rough seas on our last day, a sea day, as we made our way from Grand Cayman around the western shore of Cuba and on to Fort Lauderdale. We were traveling at full speed (24 knots) in order to get to Cozumel to tender off a passenger with a medical emergency and then to make up the time lost during this unscheduled stop. The ship docked in Fort Lauderdale over an hour late, but once debarkation got going, it went smoothly and quickly. Apparently, there were some people with early morning flights out of Fort Lauderdale who either missed their flights or cut it very close because of our late arrival. I personally have no sympathy for someone who books a flight so close to the ship's estimated arrival time at the pier, but I guess there are some people who believe everything will run smoothly all the time, which of course, it doesn't. There is also the possibility that some of these people used Celebrity Air and were assigned early morning departures, which is one of many reasons why we will always book our own flights. Concluding Thoughts If you want to be pampered, fed fine food whenever you like and have a myriad of activities at your disposal with very little decision required on your part, then cruising is a perfect vacation and the Millennium certainly fills the bill. The problems experienced on this cruise were very miniscule, especially when you consider that this was basically a maiden voyage and there were over 2400 passengers on board, all with unique wants and needs. I have traveled on many land based vacations, and some of my fondest travel memories are from the two cruises I have taken. Traveling is all about attitude, and I am truly amazed that anyone could have had anything other than a positive experience on this cruise. Our every desire was catered to and we were treated like royalty. Celebrity has a fine product and attracts a seasoned, sophisticated clientele. To give a brief comparison between the Millennium and the Galaxy, the Millennium is bigger, but I really only felt the extra distance when walking from my room (7183) to our second room (8021). Had we booked in a timely manner, we might have received rooms closer together. The Millennium is decorated in a slightly more elegant style, but the Galaxy is gorgeous in its contemporary simplicity. I would cruise both of them again in a heartbeat. It is no secret that I enjoy Alaska as a cruise ship destination (scenery, scenery!) more than the Caribbean, but the ease and availability of cruising the Caribbean and the easy access to Florida from Dallas will, I hope, ensure future cruises to the Caribbean for me and my family. My expectations were certainly exceeded on this cruise and I hope to be lucky enough to sail Millie again some day. flora@virtualglobe.net01/09/01 Read Less
Cruising With A Handicapped Person For the past six years I have been traveling with my Mother. Unfortunately last summer she suffered a stroke which has left her with some residual physical effects. She needs to use a walker ... Read More
Cruising With A Handicapped Person For the past six years I have been traveling with my Mother. Unfortunately last summer she suffered a stroke which has left her with some residual physical effects. She needs to use a walker or a wheel chair. However her illness has not deterred her yen for traveling which we did about three or four times a year. So in January when she asked "where are we going in February?'," I decided to try a cruise. After some investigation I discovered that ships do have handicapped accessible cabins. I chose Celebrity's Millennium for our maiden voyage with a wheel chair and a walker. For those of you who are considering such a venture, you will need a doctor's letter in order to book a handicapped accessible cabin. Our adventure began on Sunday morning when we arrived at the dock in Fort Lauderdale to board the ship. As soon as we walked through the doors of the building, a Celebrity staffer took charge of us. He took charge of our papers, took us directly to the check in point, checked us in and escorted us to the gangplank of the ship where a steward took over, and wheeled Mother and I to our stateroom. Once inside we were pleasantly surprised to find that the bathroom had no "step up," was large enough to accommodate either a wheelchair or a walker, and that the shower had a pull down seat to allow for safe bathing. The stateroom was also large enough to allow for easy mobility around the furniture with a walker or a wheelchair. Perhaps the piece de la resistance was our huge veranda which boasted four chaises, two chairs and a table. We so enjoyed sitting on our veranda and enjoying the beautiful sunsets with our favorite liquid libation. While on the ship I had no end of help in pushing Mother around in her wheel chair. With a ship that was almost 1000 feet long, this was a great help. As soon as we appeared in any of the public areas where there was cruise staff, they almost always offered to push the chair. Perhaps the ultimate accommodation occurred when we were in port shopping and mother's wheel chair broke. Upon returning to the ship, another chair appeared to get her back to the cabin. When I spoke to guest relations about using their chair until the end of the cruise, I was told "They fix this ship, they should be able to fix a wheel chair." The chair needed to be welded, so I was not too confident that it would be fixed. However, about two hours later our stateroom attendant returned with the chair welded back together. After our wonderful experience with the staff of the Millennium and the wonderful accommodations, I need not fear traveling with a wheel chair, walker, and oh, Mom too! KJP201@aol.com Read Less
Celebrity Millennium Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.5 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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