Celebrity Millennium Cruise Review by rdun41251
- Sail Date: April 2018
- Destination: Transpacific
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2B
We pre-arranged 2 tours with Grey Line Japan during our stay in Tokyo a full day Tokyo grand city tour and a combined bus and train trip to Mt. Fuji.
We travelled independently from Narita airport to Tokyo Ginza by “The Access Narita bus” from stop No.31 @ ¥1,000 each. Just outside the arrival terminal. This relatively new service dropped us off close to Ginza station and it was only a short walk from there to our hotel. Again we travelled independently from Tokyo to Yokohama taking a short taxi ride to the main Tokyo railway station, catching the 10:00hrs JR limited express train from Tokyo platform 10 to Yokohama and a further short taxi ride from Yokohama station to the cruise terminal. (Total cost of around ¥2,000 and even with three bags and two back packs this was an easy journey to accomplish outside rush hour)
The Cruise ship boarding process was extremely efficient, and were sitting in the Oceanview cafe having lunch within 30 minutes of our arrival at 11:30. The staterooms were made ready at 13:00 and much to our surprise and delight, our 3 bags were ready waiting for us, the fastest luggage delivery ever.
We pre-booked on line, a select dinning time of 18:15 and found this to be a touch too early, and changed to 18:45. Arriving however between 19:00hrs and 20:00hrs. the rush hour should most definitely be avoided at all costs to avoid a long wait. (Pre-booking does however ensure you get priority entry)
The overall dinning experience was good if not outstanding, and most definitely not a 5 star experience possibly 4 star at best. We generally breakfasted in the solarium, took lunch in the Oceanview cafe or the Metropolitan Restaurant, if the cafe was too crowded. Dinner was in the Metropolitan. We did not utilise any of the other dinning outlets as we have done so in the past and their novelty value has no real attraction. I consider it reasonable to say that over the last 20 years we have noticed a slow but continual decline in the quality of some food served within the main dining room on both RCL and Celebrity. In addition the rather bland taste of some of the food served was almost embarrassing. Tom Yam soup and Beef Rendang both served in the buffet had almost no spices or heat added, the result was soup tasting much like chicken broth and a Rendang tasting like a beef stew. Regrettably the temperature of much of the supposedly hot food served in the Oceanview café was on occasion only just warm and not hot.
The show time and entertainment experience was good if not outstanding, a somewhat mixed bag depending on personal taste. The resident singers and dancers along with the celebrity band were excellent. The musical artists who played at various locations around the ship were also very good. The Cruise director and head of on-board sales Paul Baya and the full entertainment team carried out their various duties very well. The loss of Michael's club as an entertainment venue to “suite guests only” appears to be symptomatic of the way Celebrity are currently heading. The new edge class of ships while looking dynamic, appear from the onboard viewing we received to be giving up ever more precious free space on the ship to suite guests and further sources of extra/additional revenue. The enrichment lectures were very good and very well attended.
The ubiquitous art auctions, the initial hard selling of food and beverage packages, the so called sale of valued items and watches etc., the astronomical cost of pictures and Wi-Fi packages, just adds to the general cruise experience and should no be allowed to interfere with the very relaxed and friendly atmosphere of a great Celebrity cruise ship experience.
The general condition of the ship was good if not great but at 18 years old, this has to be expected. We found the ship to be very clean and relatively well maintained with almost continual cleaning being undertaken within the accommodation. The very strong push towards hand washing was very much appreciated by those of us who have experienced the dreaded noro virus in the past. It was reported that the Millennium along with the other vessels of her class are to go through a very significant upgrade over the next 2 years.
The master, officers and crew were excellent and tried very hard to ensure we enjoyed our cruise experience. Captain Nicholas who we have sailed with previously, is a most affable outgoing and positive hands on master who is frequently seen around the ship interacting with both passengers and staff on a very regular basis. This is a prerequisite for any effective, safe and well run ship.
Ports of Call: Regrettably our arrival at the three Japanese ports coincided with the main Japanese annual holiday known as Golden Week, which resulted in much higher density of road traffic and increased numbers of visitors at the various tour locations. However this did not stop the magnificent sight of the cherry blossom in almost full bloom. An early blossom season this year, resulted in our viewing both the stunning blossom and the so called “rafting" of the fallen blossom on the surrounding water.
In Aomori we took the celebrity 5.5hrs Highlights of Hirosaki tour, which was well organised with a good tour guide however due to the Golden week issue, the actual time in the various locations was somewhat limited. There was a magnificent Japanese drumming demonstration in the port on our arrival in Aomori.
In Hakodate we took the celebrity 4.0hrs Hakodate Highlights tour which again was well orchestrated but we had even less time at the locations due to high visitor numbers.
In Muroran we opted not to take one of the lengthy tours to Sapporo, instead we jumped on the local Hopi bus which took us from the very isolated container ship terminal into and around Muroran. Regrettably with the exception of a very limited number of department stores the town was closed, again as a result of the Japanese holiday. The local authorities had however arranged for the local high school band to play as the ship departed which was nice gesture with the Muroran Mayor in attendance.
In Petropavlovsk we decided to do our own thing and went ashore independently. We were in one of the more fortunate groups (No.6) and received our immigration clearance by 11:30, the last group (No.20) was not cleared by the local authorities until 15:35 some nine and a half hours after arrival.........there were quite a few very unhappy people...... (we received a $50 rebate on our account which I assume was some form of compensation for this very disappointing port of call)
The tender ride to ashore is only a 5-10 minute journey however the transfer onto the jetty is carried out via a floating pontoon which is very exposed to the weather. A considerable number of less able guests struggled considerably with the transfer and had to be assisted by the attending crew, who done a magnificent job under very trying and potentially dangerous later in the afternoon, when the wind blew up quite strong
As this was a relatively a cold weather cruise, indoor seating was always going to be at a premium throughout the day, this situation however was further aggravated by the almost continuous sale of “Park West” works of art taking up the entire Rendezvous lounge on a number of sea days.
Not sure if it was just our stateroom but ship TV reception was extremely poor on this cruise, even the internal ship generated programs were frequently not available. (Due to a weak signal)
Stateroom No. 6034 a balcony cabin located on deck 6 starboard side forward was of adequate size for the two of us. It is located in a relatively quiet zone with an unrestricted view. Our stateroom attendant Armando was exceptional as was our head waiter Lorenzo
The opportunity to make a “snowman" on the Sun Terrace was a very special experience when crossing the Bering sea.
Gratuities a very thorny subject: We removed our auto gratuities immediately on boarding as an increasing number of international cruisers appear to be doing. We gave out cash tips to the crew we interacted with on a daily basis and in addition, utilised the “three cash only envelops” delivered to our stateroom the day before departure, to reward those crew members who we did not meet. I much prefer to tip after receiving good service. We gave out $275 in cash and a further $100 via the 18% gratuity on our various beverages which I consider to be acceptable figure.
We had 2 further days in Vancouver staying at the Sheraton Wall centre which I can highly recommend, as hey try to accommodate cruise lines guest with an early entry to your room at no extra charge.
Apologies for the rather lengthy review but as this cruise is somewhat off the beaten track I have tried to give as much information as I can recall.
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