A visit to a shipyard is the most thrilling part of my job. No matter how far away her inaugural voyage is, the ship's heart and soul is already evident in the towering steel beams that will be transformed into an elegant show lounge or dining room.
At Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, the new Celebrity Millennium towered, only 10 weeks away from delivery to the cruise line. First in a new class of ship, she is 91,000 tons and will carry 1,950 passengers and 999 crew. Her projected life span is 30 years. Millennium's exterior was partially painted and we could see the new color scheme of this series of ship: a marine blue hull with the ship's name etched in bright yellow.
Donning hard hats, we toured the ship forward to aft, from the top observation tower to her engine room. Stepping over metal floors into enormous public rooms whose walls were still little more than steel girders,
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Celebrity executives made our jobs easier by arranging for each room's architect to present an overview of what it will finally be. We have fabric samples and detailed artists renderings and are given descriptions of types of wood, fabrics, glass ceilings and some special effects. Below is a preview of Millennium's public areas.
OVERVIEW: While the new Millennium-series of ships will have distinct features, many public areas will be familiar to those who have sailed with Celebrity. The main dining room, for example, is found on two levels with floor-to-ceiling glass nearly identical to dining rooms on Century, Galaxy and Mercury. Popular spots, such as Michael's (a cigar lounge), martini/wine bars and the sybaritic "Aqua Spa" are featured on these ships as well. Celebrity's substantial investment in art will be readily apparent.
Features which make Millennium and her two sister ships unique include an external glass elevator, an elegant alternative restaurant with separate wine cellar, a designer boutique shopping arcade and the first gas turbine engines.
GRAND FOYER: Passengers will first enter the modern atrium, its design highlights a backlit onyx stairway that glows yellow at night. Banks of external glass elevators rise 11 decks.
OLYMPIC RESTAURANT: This will be one of the most distinctive dining spots found at sea, featuring the original wood-carved paneling from the Olympic, sister ship of Titanic. The restaurant has Louis VI decor, with marble floor, wood paneling and hand-painted panels, Adjacent to the dining room will be a wine cellar with dining for six to eight passengers. A special menu created by French master chef Michel Roux will be featured in the 134-seat restaurant (available by reservations only) and tableside cooking of many dishes promises that this will be a very special spot. Celebrity will levy a $12 per person service charge; recommended wines will be priced in the $10-$30 per glass price range.
METROPOLITAN RESTAURANT: On Decks 4 and 5, the Millennium's main two-seating dining room, will be decorated with a whimsical flair, using bold colors; a staircase connects the two levels. The two-story high windows will have dramatic scenes projected onto them at night and an alabaster and cut glass ceiling panel will be backlit for dramatic effect. Breakfast and luncheon buffets, plus casual alternative evening meals will be found in the Ocean Cafe and Grill. Features include a pizzeria (open 3-7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and ice cream parlor (no charge) open daily from 3-5 p.m. Cuisine served in the Ocean Grill during dinner includes full waiter service plus made to order steaks, fresh fish, and rotisserie chicken.
Theater: Seating 901 people, the Celebrity Theater will be a modern interpretation of a Greek Theater. The three-deck high theater has a circular balcony to ensure good viewing from any seat. In colors of brown, blue and beige, the Cinema will feature first-run movies each day and double as a conference center; it will hold 300 passengers in auditorium-style.
CASINO: Decorated in the style of a posh European-style casino, the Casino has a Belle Epoch decor with Corinthian marble columns and custom-made statues as the setting of 200 slot machines and 13 gaming tables.
INTERNET CAF�/LIBRARIES: Overlooking the Grand Foyer, the cyber cafe (Online@Celebrity Cruises) is a circular room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. It will hold 19 computers with Internet connections and cameras for sending photos with e-mail. Laptop computers may be rented and there is also a separate business center with printers and scanners. Notes is a music library which offers 1,500 selections of music plus private listening stations with personal CD players and headsets. Words is the two-story library with books available in English and several foreign languages.
CLUBS/LOUNGES: Michael's Club, the cigar lounge, will be a thoroughly elegant room decorated in English Georgian furnishings and cherry paneling. The Platinum Club is the setting for both a Martini Bar and Wine Bar, serving as a balcony to the Rendezvous Lounge where many will stop for cocktails prior to entering the Metropolitan Restaurant. High above the ship will be the glass-walled Cosmos, used as an observation lounge by day; at night the illuminated main bar lights up the dance floor for late-night cocktails and a swing around the floor. Cova Cafe Milano is the namesake of a famed Milano coffee house, offering cappuccino and fresh-baked pastries.
AQUASPA: Celebrity has devoted even more space to this comprehensive spa operated by Steiners of London, the largest found aboard any ship at sea; features include Thalassotherapy, hydrotherapy and mud-steam sequences as well as the more traditional massages and facials. Nearby is the AquaSpa Cafe under a glass roof, with the largest hydropool at sea featuring reverse currents (resistance swimming) and a seawater whirlpool. Healthy light cuisine is also available in this area.
SPORTS/RECREATION: Located on Resort Deck are four freshwater whirlpools, the ship's pools, and the Fitness Center. Additional features include facilities for basketball, paddle tennis, volleyball and quoits. On Sunrise Deck, a running track and golf simulator are available. On top of the ship is the Extreme Sports Club, Celebrity's first sports bar, has a large-screen televisions and sports-related art work.
SHOPPING: The Emporium is a 14,467 sq. ft. shopping arcade with a designer boutique, art gallery, art auction area, Celebrity signature shops and a store selling cooking items and recipe books of famed master chef Michel Roux.
CHILDREN'S FACILITIES: The Fun Factory offers children aged 3 to 12 a variety of activities within the theme of "ocean travel and exploration." Older children are able to enjoy their own broadcast room and video game arcade. Teens will find their own private club adjacent to the ship's disco, where non-alcoholic cocktails are available.
STATEROOMS: There will be eight types of cabins � many identical in size and amenities to those found aboard Celebrity's other vessels. Some 80% of the total 975 cabins will be outside and 75% of those will have private verandas. All suites have private butlers, whirlpool tub, large screen TV, VCR, fax machines, Internet hook up, personal stationary. Amenities in standard cabins (inside, outside) include mini-refrigerators, hair dryers, bathrobes, TV. Descriptions of cabins by category follow:
PENTHOUSE SUITES (PS): There are two 1,690-sq. ft. penthouse suites, with grand piano, exercise space, large master bath, powder room, wet bar and verandas with outdoor whirlpool, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The veranda is 1,098 sq. feet.
ROYAL SUITE (RS): There are eight Royal Suites measuring 583 sq. feet plus 195 sq. ft. veranda, all with two lower beds convertible to king size, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, two entertainment centers with TV/VCR, fax and internet hook-up, bathroom with whirlpool tub.
CELEBRITY SUITE (CS): These eight individually-themed suites, ranging from 254-262 sq. ft. have four to ceiling doors, separate sitting area, entertainment center with mini-bar, walk-in closet, bathroom with whirlpool tub and veranda.
SKY SUITE (CS): There are 32 Sky Suites with 251 sq. feet, plus a 57 sq. ft. private veranda. Bathroom with whirlpool tub, sitting area, entertainment center with TV/VCR.
PREMIUM OCEAN-VIEW (1A, 1B, 1C): 191 sq. foot stateroom plus a 41 sq. ft. veranda. Two convertible lower beds, sitting area with sofa bed, shower, hair dryer and vanity in bathroom.
DELUXE OCEAN-VIEW STATEROOM (2A, 2B, 2C): 170 sq. feet plus a 38 ft. veranda; two convertible lower beds, large sitting area with sofa bed, bathroom with shower, hair dryer, vanity.
LARGE OCEAN-VIEW STATEROOM (3): 271 sq. feet plus 242-sq. ft. veranda. Features two convertible lower beds, privacy partition, sitting area with two convertible sofa beds, two entertainment centers with interactive TV's and VCR's.
OCEAN-VIEW STATEROOM (4,5,6,7,8): 170 sq. ft. cabin with two lower beds converting to king; panoramic window, sitting area with sofa bed; bathroom with shower, hair dryer and vanity.
INSIDE CABINS (9, 10, 11, 12): 170 sq. ft. cabin with two lower beds converting to king; sitting area with sofa bed; bathroom with shower, hair dryer and vanity.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Some 26 wheelchair-accessible staterooms are available in Sky Suites, premium, deluxe, standard ocean view and inside cabins.
ITINERARIES: From June through October, Millennium will offer five itineraries ranging from 10 to 14 nights in duration. The ship repositions to her Ft. Lauderdale homeport for a series of seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises. Western Caribbean ports include Key West; Calica and Cozumel, Mexico and Grand Cayman with two days at sea. The Eastern Caribbean ports are San Juan; Dominican Republic; St. Thomas and Nassau.
RATES: Based on Celebrity's early booking rates, per person, double occupancy fares (including port charges) for one-week 2000/01 Caribbean cruises begin at: $1,199 (inside), $1,449 (outside); $1,849 (cat 3), ocean-view stateroom with veranda); $1,749 (cat 2A-2C) deluxe ocean view with balcony; $1,999 (cat. 1A-1C) premium ocean view with balcony; $2,099 (SS), Sky Suite; $3,399 (CS) Celebrity Suites; $4,399 (RS) Royal Suite) and $6,399 (PS) Penthouse Suites.
For reservations and additional information, contact your local travel agent or, visit Celebrity's web site: www.celebritycruises.com.
View Millennium shipyard tour photos here