Year Started: 1988
Ships in Fleet: 10
Summary: This premium cruise line features beautiful ships on itineraries world-wide. Excellent cuisine, great service, roomy staterooms. Modern Luxury at value prices.
Regions:Caribbean Western, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Overall Service. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Inland Waterways, Mediterranean Western
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Southern, Mediterranean Western, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Foodies. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Panama Canal, Europe
Good for: Seniors. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii, Inland Waterways
Good for: Seniors. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Mediterranean Eastern, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Mediterranean Eastern
Good for: Foodies. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Alaska, Australia, Hawaii
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Regions:Bermuda, Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Southern
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. Group.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Beware of Celebrity!
Summit ship was a unsafe experience.
If you like to smoke and use illegal drugs, Celebrity is the cruise ship for you. We are non-smokers and quiet vacationers. The people next to us were abusive, drug users and violent to each other all day and night.
Security on the ship is way too slow to help. The management on the ship doesn't care. The people on the other side of the party room were upset. They were older people and they really got ignored. It was very upsetting to my vacation. Once they have your money, they ignore you.
Please be careful. This was not a happy vacation for us.
We will cruise again, but not with Celebrity. Last year we did a cruise on Princess. That was a better experience.
Also, the food quality on the Celebrity ship was very, very poor.
Embarkation This cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale and we arrived at the port about 2PM. There were already plenty of people at the pier, but we had no problem getting through the check in process. Within 30 minutes we were onboard the ship and we were able to go directly to the staterooms. Was a little dissappointed that our luggage took as long as it did to get to the cabin. The boat drill was done at 6PM and while waiting for the drill on the balcony, we could actually see our bags still sitting in one of the bag cars on the pier. It was about 8PM when our bags finally arrived to the cabin.
Stateroom We had a balcony cabin, port side forward. The cabin was nearby to stairs and elevator bank, so it was always convenient to get to pool deck or below decks. Our stateroom attendant was great!! He made sure everything was acceptable and did a great job throughout the week to ensure our satisfaction.
The bed was great, except I will never get used to the rounded corners that they seem to use on thebeds. Was actually quite suprised at the size of the bathroom. The shower was bigger than any other cruise I had been on and was a pleasant suprise to be able to turn around without bumping against the walls.
Dining Rooms/Food The food was excellent. We ate in the dining rooms 4 nights and then ate in the buffet area the other evenings. Not sure which I enjoyed more!!! The buffet food was excellent each time we ate there. The only thing that probably made the dining room better was the personalized attention from the waiter. Breakfast in the buffet was also very good and had a wide variety of options each morning. Had lunch two days in the spa cafe, which offered healthier selections. It was unbelievalbe!!
Crew and Ship Shape Dru, the CD was great and very personable. Ran into him the first day and he took the time to talk and welcome us aboard. He also acknowledged us later in the week when we bumped into him again! The rest of the crew was also great and always did what it took to ensure you were satisfied. One night the bartender had to run to get another bottle to make my drink. He apologized numerous times for making me wait! Likewise, Luka at the pool bar was an exceptional bartender, both during the daytime and evening events held poolside.
The ship was in excellent condition. The crew does a great job keeping it clean and well maintained. The public areas were in great shape and you would never know that the ship was as old as it was. Everything looked brand new.
The casino was good and I won some money back by the end of the week, so that was a good thing!
The only complaint that I really had was that they were selling the soda package before the ship left port, but they had no cups! They continued to sell the packages and said we would get the cups the next day while in port in Key West, but we never got them. However, the bartenders just filled up a glass for us anytime we wanted. The larger cups would have been handier as we wouldn't have had to go back to get refills as often.
Ports of Call Key West: We just walked Duvall Street and did some shopping there.
Grand Cayman: We decided to take the tour out to Hell and back. It was very entertaining.
Cozumel: Fifth visit here, so we stayed onboard the ship and took advantage of the spa that day.
Belize City: We did the canopy tour and had a blast on the zip lines. Only disappointment was that we were not there long enough and when we got back to the port from the tour, all the shops had closed and the last tender was waiting to take us back to the ship.
Debarkation This went very smooth as we were on a departure prior to noon, and we were one of the first groups off the ship. However, getting a cab to the airport proved to be a challenge as the taxi stand guys were not taking people first come, first served. It took probably an additional 25 minutes to get out of the port than it should have taken due to the line for cabs and some people walking right up to the front of line and getting a cab ahead of others.
Embarkation The ship leaves at 11pm on a Saturday from San Juan, PR. For most people it might not be a problem to leave very early the day of the cruise, but from the West Coast or Canada this could be a problem. If you come the night before, be aware the cost of hotel rooms in San Juan is prohibitive!! Taxi TO port from Juan Marin: For two persons $21.50 including luggage. Very well organized taxi stand at Juan Marin. Make sure the dispatcher/taxi driver knows the pier to go to. Summit leaves from Pan American Pier. Port: There is no place around there to leave the stuff after checking in to spend some time in San Juan. You need to take a taxi for that. We elected to stay on the ship. Check in is anytime from 2pm onwards. Check in was very fast indeed and this set the tone for the cruise: Very relaxing, very well organized and an excellent vacation.
Ship There was a good welcome as you entered. The Room as you enter is very well set up with maple walls, polished nickel hardware, stylish lampsetc. However, the bathroom was an oddity. Specifically it was not well done at all. Chipped sink, basic apartment type hardware, caulking, tile work etc. Bear in mind they do not have very good storage of cosmetics, etc. You have to use the below sink cabinet.
Food The food was also an oddity. For what I would consider a premium cruise, the food at dinner was more like hospital food in terms of taste, not quality of ingredients. The latter was excellent and top notch, however very few of the dishes had any taste at all. I like my food heavily seasoned but it appeared they tend to cater to bland tasters. This was a disappointment. The food on deck 10 Waterfall Cafe was excellent. They had pasta (al dente always), sushi etc. Breakfast was very good.
Passengers My observation was this line caters to the 45 onwards crowd. At the dinner formal black tie night, I thought I was on a ship with CEO's. At one of the Frequent Cruiser Cocktail mixers, I entered when they were playing Moon River. Enough said. The rest of the events were better.
Entertainment Excellent theater shows, the magician and comedian was so so. Oddly, this ship for a Caribbean itinerary had NO Caribbean music or bands. Not sure why. In fact, the line appeared to deemphasize the Caribbean. Even the wait staff tended to be from Europe. Odd. The cuisine also had nothing to do with the Caribbean.
Itinerary Excellent and varied. We docked at Saint Maarten, Granada, Dominica (not Dominican Republic -- I wouldn't go there), Bonaire, Aruba. The best was Granada and Dominica. Both islands have the only rain forest in the islands except Puerto Rico. Bonaire and Aruba were great if all you wanted was the beach. I liked the varied landscapes rather than just beach.
Disembarkaton Very well organized. We should all remember that it's not the cruise ship that delays us off the boat. It is the long lines for Department of Border Security. Hope this helps.
Overall A very relaxing and above average cruise experience. We are doing this again on a different itinerary in a few months time with the same cruise line.
Perhaps the only thing as much fun as going on a cruise, is the anticipation of going on a cruise. It starts with exotic pictures in cruise brochures, and ends with the final step off the gangplank and onto your ship. In between are mentally "walking the ship" via deck plans, day dreams about perfect days at sea, and of course, the step you're enjoying now, reading reviews. While my memory is fresh and my body still automatically craves sushi at 5:30pm, I will do my best to give my impressions of Celebrity's Millennium.
Forgive me if I skip how many pairs of underwear I packed. The same goes for the co-pilot's name on my flight, what I had as an appetizer, or why I didn't wear my wife's stockings with my tux this trip (a long story). I will focus on the ship, the service and what you can expect YOUR vacation to be like.
To set a base line, we were a group of 24 Fiftyish friends with most of us having known each other almost 30 years and on some years with as many as 44 going. Ourgroup cruises every other year President's week to celebrate being friends and not being dead yet. The cruises began as a "once in a life time" year 2000 group vacation, aboard the SS Norway. Deciding cruising wasn't the worst thing in the world, we followed that with Grand Princess, Explorer of the Seas, and Infinity. This was our fifth, "once in a lifetime cruise".
We were so impressed with Celebrity on our last outing, that for the first time we repeated a cruise line. Keep in mind these are my impressions. I'm a 53 year old guy from the New York area. I eat in some of the best restaurants and see the best shows. I also love mystery meat on a stick from a sidewalk vendor and laugh at a well executed pratfall. You are not me. Your mileage may vary
To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the Millennium being tired and old have been greatly exaggerated.
THE SHIP While all Millennium Class ships are virtually the same, I would be depriving a future cruiser hungry for information if I didn't describe it.
The moment you swipe your seapass and cross off Millennium's gangplank you know you're in for a wonderful time. The Grand Foyer is a classic study of perfect "Goldilocks Elegance".
Don't look for that term in any architectural glossary, I made it up after two martinis. It means, not too much, not too little, but just right.
The marble on the deck three floor of the atrium absolutely sparkles, reflecting the dark wood and gold lettering of surrounding guest services desks. The backlit marble Grand Staircase glows soft amber and large swathes of tapered cloth form columns on each side.
From above the fat and juicy sound of a clarinet spirals down from the quartet that is playing. To the right of the stairs, the Olympic dining room with the lush wood and gold trim from the White Star Liner "Olympic" and tables set with fine crystal seems almost surreal. It is 11:30 AM and I'm drinking champagne that was handed to me with a warm "Welcome Aboard" from a white suited crew member. If I died then, it would be with a smile.
Beyond the Grand Foyer, the ship is just full of comfortable spaces that entice you to sit down, have a drink, eat some food, relax and enjoy. Almost every space is a gem, and it will be very easy for you to find your own personal favorite.
The Main restaurant, The Metropolitan, could almost be a stage set for the sea-going Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes".
The two levels of seating are surrounded by oversized portholes, and an entire two story glass wall facing aft. There is a wood steel grand staircase and those traditional curved "art deco-ish" steel railings are everywhere. Wood columns trimmed in gold support the ceiling, which is predominantly colorfully backlit glass. On two occasions a quartet played on the top level of the grand stair. Entering the Metropolitan on formal nights from the upper level with the orchestra playing, in my tux with the ever so ravishing "She who must be obeyed" on my arm, was about as good as a day in midwinter gets.
The Buffet area on deck 10 also doubles as a casual eating area at night. It is another wonderful windowed lined space. In the morning the way the sunlight plays around the room is very relaxing. Some very neat things in this room which are often overlooked, or perhaps overstepped, are the large acrylic portholes IN THE FLOOR which allow you to look straight down to the sea. I did notice, however, only few people liked to sit on them.
The Workout room on the ship seemed adequately equipped. I walk through it once with a drink while filming my wife's Pilates class. On a cruise I don't work out, I employ "Zamgwar-nomics" The more food I eat, the less the cruise cost. Those who did work out daily really enjoyed the space, with its' bow facing panoramas of windows. One member of our group did point out however, that if you're tall, and walk on the treadmill, you can't see out those same windows.
I meant to try the treadmill to see if it was true, but became detained on pool deck by a grilled burger and a perfect Bloody Mary.
Fortunes Casino is roomy and your typical ships' casino. Full of glitzy lights, big statues and ringing slot machines. It did have one large difference from all previous shipboard casinos I have been on. It gave me money, or rather returned a small portion of the vast sums of my money that have been living in ships casinos since 1990.
It was good to see my money again. I missed it.
Forward of the casino is the ship's piano bar, Michaels' Pub, which thus far, is the most beautiful a lounge as I have ever seen on a ship. White wooded panels line the room. Leather chairs and comfy couches are grouped in intimate settings. It is the kind of space you might mentally create if you envisioned what a classy room on a ship should look like. It never seemed very busy which struck me as odd because it is such a comfortable room. I actually wonder if it got more traffic when it was a cigar bar. My gang did have several rounds of after dinner drinks in the room one night and enjoyed it.
In fact this ship seemed full of small practically perfect, never crowded spaces. Considering we were there on peak vacation week, with a maximum passenger compliment, that says a lot for the ships design and flow.
Between decks eight and nine, was Words, the ship's Library. It is a surprisingly large and nicely decorated with globes and other "Library-obilia". The walls are rich wood. There are soft yet adequate reading lights, several big inviting chairs and plenty of books. The two floors are connected by a semi spiral stairwell. It is a really nice room and always one or two folks enjoying it.
Notes, the ships music library no longer exists. It is now an acupuncture area. I never had enough martinis this trip to pay to have pins stuck in my face. Perhaps next time.
The Emporium shopping area is really rather nice. It has the feeling of many small shops rather than some in your face ship's shopping area. Once again it was abundant with wood and brass, and the stores carried nice stuff. I actually purchased several things from the shops.
It was unique to see a ship purchase with my signature on it, without a bar tip added in
The Cova Café in the Grand Foyer falls under the category of a must visit spot.
Taking a break from the sun to enjoy a yummy cappuccino (extra charge) and some excellent music was heaven. Of course if you skip the music and coffee, the pastries (free) themselves are worth the visit.
Packed full of blooming flowers on Deck 11 is one real piece of eye candy, The Conservatory. While it is really just a flower shop, rather than a public room, entering it several times and smelling the fresh flowers caused my heart to skip a beat.
The heart skipping a beat may have also been caused by the amount of bacon and corned beef hash I was eating daily, but I prefer to think it was the flowers.
The pool decks are excellent. At first glance they seem to be too small for the size of the ship, but once again were just right. There are two main pools with two hot tubs. The lower level had plenty of padded lounge chairs, and upper level had an abundant amount of standard lounge chairs. The piercing blue of the sky and the water, the drinks from the mast bar, and reggae music made for two wonderful sea days. I could have used more.
If you want a deck chair poolside rather than in one of the many, many spaces with more than enough empty deck chairs around the ship, get your butt up early, and put it in one, as one member of our group faithfully did. Then share it when you go for lunch or a massage. Don't expect to saunter out at 11:30 after sleeping in and find prime seating left. Don't expect it after 9:30 for that matter.
My award for the most relaxing place on the ship goes to the thallasotherapy pool in the spa. Soft new age music fills the air. There are large plants hanging from the columns that support the glass roof. Padded teak lounges fill the room. To the side are linen cabanas with tables and chairs. No one under 18 is allowed in. The pool is really one giant salt water hot tub. On the sides are these "Bubble lounge benches". After fifteen minutes of sitting on one, every problem you've ever, had going clear back to that zit you had before the prom in High School, melts away. I visited it every day. I miss it now.
Thallasotherapy: It's as much fun to do as it is to say.
While I'm on the topic of the spa, most of our gang enjoyed the spa treatments, particularly the hot stone massages. I enjoyed the free sauna daily and showered in the men's changing room after, as they had very good showers. I once lucked into a free day pass for the Persian Garden. For free it was real nice, I wouldn't pay to do it twice.
Possibly the only disappointment in this ship (or any Millennium Class Ship) is that there is no wrap around exterior promenade. For me at least, walking around the top of the ship in the morning is not as "shippy" as doing miles around the ship on a promenade. Between the shade and the sea, it's hard to beat. It brings out a sense of a time when ships were "the only way to cross".
Any promenade however is better than hearing an alarm go off for work. I visited Millennium's promenade daily just to watch the sea woosh (surely a nautical term) by and feel what hair I still have, blow in the wind.
The open air cafe on deck 11 aft is better than a nice space on the ship, it's priceless. It pays homage to glory days of Ocean Liners with their huge teak fantails.
Although my experience is limited, the Oceanview cafe is as good an outdoor gathering space as I have seen on any newer ship. There was teak everywhere. It's in the tables, decking, rails, even the bar. The wood almost emits its own warm glow at sunset and sunrise. It was the perfect place to meet up with friends, have a drink and watch the stars and ships twinkle in the distance.
The Platinum Club is the ship's martini bar. It became a daily haunt all of us. The furniture is grouped in sets between large portholes which scream out "this is a ship damned it". The room is completed by the most perfect martinis, served perfectly.
In the day this area (and every area lined with these oversized portholes) is bathed in a wonderful wash of natural light and ocean views. At night the lighting is intimate enough to hide the fact that you have spilled gin on you tux.
Take this from one who knows.
On deck 11 forward is The Cosmos Lounge which during the day is just the GREATEST place to take a sun break and enjoy some outstanding views. It has floor to ceiling glass, a "starry theme" to it, comfy chairs and is a great place to sit and play captain and commander as you over look the bow. At night we had a blast dancing there. I also frequently crossed through the Rendez-Vous lounge, which was your average, comfortable, small show lounge. I never used the internet café, but I saw it. I also frequently passed through the Extreme Sports Bar, a small cocktail area on Deck 11 poolside, which seemed to be the "teen" place to hang.
SERVICE What seems to set Celebrity aside from the other cruise lines I've been on is how quickly everyone learns your name, and the genuinely warm way they greet you.
After one day, the Mast Barkeeps greeted us by name as we passed. Our beverage waiters no longer need our cards and the assistant waiter had the non-alcoholic drinks on the table as soon as we sat.
Our Martini waiter after one day had the name of each member of our large group memorized. He knew your drink. He knew approximately what time we would, like gin worshipping zombies, begin arriving each evening, and nightly reserved our drinking area. In fact crew members we didn't even know seemed to know us by name.
I found this amazing since I need to remember which way to put my pants on. I can only assume the ease of learning our names, had been reinforced by seeing them hundreds of times on bar receipts.
Some members of our group did have issues with their cabin steward, however, others wanted to take theirs home. One couple found CC service not worth the extra price, another found the CC service incredible. Their Steward actually tied their sons tie for formal night, and folded the kid's clothes that were on the floor.
I had a room charge issue at guest services which was resolved (at considerable length) but the staff was extremely courteous. At dinner, we were happily given a kid's only table for the children in our group. The table was (as requested) immediately next to the parents and with the same waiter. The waiter actually cut the youngest girl's meat. Our three tables were all located close enough for table banter during dinner. I didn't meet on person of the ship I wouldn't consider a professional
CABINS We were all on deck 7 aft and occupied standard balcony cabins, CC's and the FV on port side aft. The rooms were small, in fine shape, with no horrible wear and tear. One did have a moldy shower curtain that was quickly replaced. One had very worn deck furniture. They chose not to ask for it to be replaced. I'm certain it would have been. The Corner FV was fabulous with a HUGE balcony and if you can get it you should.
FOOD Buffet: I am not a big lunch buffet guy on any ship. That being said the lunch buffet is nothing special and in fact bland. What is special however is the "antiphonal" food that is available aside from the buffet. There are the waffles, pancakes and omelet stations in the morning. The Pizza, and pasta bar all day. The deck grill has French Fries that are akin to Belgium frits. The deck grill also has the crispiest bacon and all the fixin's for a perfect BLT. In the Spa Café I had a great grilled tuna and wonderful chicken wraps. My wife got a four cheese grilled cheese from the Deli aft. Then of course, there is the 5:30 sushi bar which was unique, wonderful, and sorely missed.
Main dining food was very good with some dishes (the Lamb Shank, and stuffed Cod) exceptional. The lamb Shank was so good, many of us asked to have it again another night. I personally noticed no drop in food quality since our '06 cruise. I did see many dinner offerings I don't remember. My tablemate (a meat and potatoes guy) however, felt some of the menu items had gotten too "fru-fru". Perhaps it is the fabled new menu slowly slipping in.
The Olympic was exceptional and the dining experience was as glorious and long as all other guests have indicated. We had no problem putting our Captain's Club reservation in well in advance.
ENTERTAINMENT Being lucky enough to make my living in the theater, I tend to be very picky about cruise ship shows. On Infinity in 2006, the entertainment was like the pizza, it was okay as long as you didn't come from New York or Chicago.
I can't be certain if it was the luck of my week, or the fullness of the martinis, but the caliber of entertainment on Millennium was for the most part, exceptional.
The Cova Café actually became a place I stopped at frequently, much more than on Infinity. It was a perfect venue for the superb A Cappella group which performed. It almost had the feeling of a private performance. I was sorry more from my group didn't get a chance to hear them. I also on two occasions relaxed to the quartet.
The musicians on the ship were unbelievable good.
The party band at the pool has got to be one of the most versatile groups I had ever heard on a ship. Poolside, as a reggae band, they sounded as if they were all related to Bob Marley. At the night-time deck party- they were a hot dance band. Playing in the Rendez-Vous lounge or up in Cosmos, their range ran from smooth jazz to an absolutely astounding rendition of "unchained melody" that would have given the Righteous Brothers cause to pause.
By far the best group on the ship was the house band when it performed Big Band Classics on formal night. It absolutely changed the attitude of the whole ship. Both the Platinum Club and the Rendez-Vous lounge were packed to the max and people were dancing on both levels as Sing-Sing-Sing wailed away. We were sad when our 8:30 seating opened because we wanted more. If I had a vote I would say both formal nights should feature the House band. After their three sets, passengers in large numbers just wanted to dance. And we did.
There was guitarist who sang around the ship that this time out I really didn't get to enjoy much, as our schedules didn't match. However, judging by the several numbers I heard him sing, he was very good.
I only found the pianist in Michael's lacking. Not as a singer, or musician, but as a piano bar performer. He was not able to read his audience. Every time the whole place would be on the verge of a whopping big sing-a-long, he would switch to some low key dirge, to the confusion of all. I heard the comment "maybe he doesn't like sharing the spotlight with the audience".
The Magician and the comedian in the main theater were also both great. I stopped in on each show and stayed to the finish. The comedian actually almost caused me to be late for my martini seating.
I wouldn't have missed martinis in fear that the world would have turned upside down.
MAINTENANCE I've never put this category in a trip report HOWEVER, since there is so much scuttlebutt in regard to it, I'm throwing my two cents in.
I have yet to be on a ship that didn't have a nick or a ding somewhere. I'm in much worse shape than the Millennium is, and I do sit-ups.
Maintenance is constant. During last week while we were heading down the gangplank in Puerto Rico, they were ripping up the rugs in the Olympic, replacing the rugs in an aft elevator lobby, Glass was being broken out and replaced and the deck railings were being hit with varnish remover, scraped and sanded. And those are just the things I noticed. Yes, some wooden deck furniture I could see from my balcony was beat up from the salt air and the constant "bleaching" that goes on day in and out to kill germs. I'm sure anything that might bother anyone is on a list to be replaced, and probably will be before you cruise. If it isn't replaced and ruins your cruise when you catch sight of it, you need to spend more time in the martini bar.
One person in our group did say to me the rugs were in terrible shape. I never really noticed that, but am glad now that I didn't pass out on one.
OTHER STUFF For me the ship is the thing. I do know, however, for others it is merely transportation. For those who require this stuff I will gladly provide the following;
Casa De Campo: Beach break was great. We were on the beach at a beautiful resort from approximately 10AM until 1:30PM. Open bar- No food.
Others in my group also raved about the excursion to Catalina Island. They said the snorkeling was super, guides were great, also free drinks.
Tortola: Loved the Bathes. I didn't meet the virgin, Gorda.
Puerto Rico: We did a great hike (on our own) around Old San Juan, and had a wonderful Mojita in the fabulous courtyard setting of "Il Convento" hotel next to the cathedral. Those on the trip who went to the Rain Forest hated it. Too much bus- Too little rain forest.
Pre-Cruise Hotel: We Stayed in the Best Western Oakland Park Inn. We enjoyed it FAR more than the Holiday Inn Express on 17th Street. It had clean rooms, great food close by, a super pool, wonderful staff, free breakfast and a fun tikki bar. My Wife & I even enjoyed the area better that 17th Street. I would not hesitate to stay there again. It was VERY REASONABLE. You may read my review on TripAdvisor.com
WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THOUGHT Those who have followed any of my trip reports know that before I exit the particular vacation I'm on, I ask gaggles of perfect strangers as well as those I'm traveling with, "How did you enjoy the week?"
This time out I spoke to 35 shipmate strangers.
26 were predominantly prior Princess or Celebrity guests and found the ship, food and service wonderful.
2 were Royal Caribbean and NCL customers and enjoyed it so much, they doubted they would go back to RCCL or NCL.
1 was a Princess Cruiser who felt Princess ships were much nicer but the Celebrity food and service were much better. She indicated her next trip would be with Celebrity.
2 found the food and service wonderful but that the ship was old and needed a dry dock.
3 found the quality of the ship significantly less than their previous Celebrity and were very disappointed.
1 gave a response that indicated that this had been an awful week.
In our group of 24 almost everyone gave the ship an 8.5 out of ten. Three of The Newbie cruisers in the group gave it a 10. Two friends who were first time Celebrity Sailors gave it a 7 and felt they enjoyed Princess much better.
All the kids in our group (except 1) gave the ship 9.5 or higher. Their favorite things were the "free" food, pizza , pool and freedom. Todd Jr. Gave the ship a 6. He said the food was great, but the ship wasn't modern. Interesting thoughts indeed from a young man 1/5 my age on his first cruise.
For me, as long as I'm not sitting in a life boat singing "Nearer My God to thee" any cruise is great. While I love Celebrity (Celebrity is now the Official cruise line of me) I am all about the ships. The one negative I had, is that it for all purposes Millennium is a carbon copy of Infinity. THAT IS A BAD THING food and service wise. I'm sure I would find the same on Summit or the Constellation. As far as cruising in February goes, I do like exploring new spaces more than going new places. President's week 2010 Celebrity's Solstice class or one of the Expanded Grand Class ships of Princess will be getting my vote for or next "once in a life time cruise."
Until then, I wish you all full drinks, smooth seas, and happy sailings.
I will never sail with Celebrity again! This was our 2nd cruise with them. The first time was with Century, which was a very good cruise.
We had a terrible time making things right on the 2nd cruise. Had a cruise discount we were supposed to receive; it took over 2 months to get it, after trying desperately to get it from early December, 2007, to a week after the cruise itself.
We received absolutely horrible treatment by Celebrity. I believe they deliberately make it difficult/impossible for customers to get the discount, hoping customers would just give up.
Also, the ship was not as clean as it should be, and the staff quality was very spotty; some of them were downright rude.
I also injured my thumb badly, when a tour bus driver sped over a large speed bump at high speed (he was late going back to the ship). The ship's staff could not care less; I eventually had to pay for a wrap around bandage at the ship's infirmary to wrap my hand. This thumb is still painful (now at the end of May); and I have spent much money withmedical staff back home. Beware that Celebrity will tell you to go fly a kite if anything happens off the ship; not even a word of concern or offer of even a bandage. Their main concern is to tell you whatever happens to you off the ship is absolutely none of their responsibility.
This was just an awful ship staff and awful ship management. Never again will I sail on Celebrity.
I was contacted in the middle of January and invited to attend a seminar at sea aboard Celebrity Millennium Feb 3-10. As I had booked a group aboard the ship in the past but had never sailed on a Millennium class vessel in our 35 cruises, and since it was visiting two ports I had not visited, Campo de Caso in the Dominican Republic, and Labadee, the RCCL/Celebrity day location in Haiti, I looked forward to attending. I had to travel alone, as my wife could not get the time off on short notice.
Flying into Fort Lauderdale, I purchased the Celebrity airport transfers. We picked up luggage at carousel 4, where there was a Celebrity representative, but we were directed to bring our luggage to the carousel 1 area where they were distributing luggage tags and collecting vouchers. The transfer is quick and check-in was reasonably quick. I had only the Xpress Pass for documentation but that was sufficient. As we boarded the ship they distributed red or blue colored champagne depending on whether you declared to be a New England Patriots or NY Giants fan, as it was SuperBowl Sunday. Staff were available to show you to your cabin, if desired. I boarded about 1:30pm and the cabin was ready. Luggage, however, did not arrive until about 5pm, an hour after sailing.
There was a reception for the agents attending the SAS in Michaels Club. Dinner was at assigned tables for the second seating the first night and we "round robin'ed" the other nights. They did have a Catholic priest aboard, and had mass each day, including the first evening, a Sunday. The entertainment the first night was a Super Bowl Party in the theater with food and beverages, and TV screens in the Casino.
Day two was a sea day, and the seminar was held from 9am-4pm in a conference room, and they managed to cover all the material Celebrity and Azamara wanted to cover on both sea days. In addition to the brand information and updates, they brought in ship staff from Captain's Club, a sommelier, an onboard group coordinator, future cruise sales, spa reps and others as the shipboard schedule permitted to give specific program updates. This was the first formal night, and the evening entertainment was a Broadway-style review at 8:45 and 11pm. 11pm is really too late for a show for those with second dining. I did notice there were ample venues for music and dancing until at least midnight.
Day three I had an opportunity to tour the bridge of the ship, something not normally available anymore. There were only 3 people manning the bridge on this huge ship, and the senior officer, a woman, was a graduate of a Swiss Maritime Academy. All automated, gps superimposed over navigational charts with radar images added. I also attended a wine tasting in the morning, as we were not arriving in San Juan until 1:30pm. As I had been to San Juan many times and I was traveling alone, I chose to stay aboard and enjoy the Solarium Pool area -- adults only, warm and quiet with glass roof, special padded wooden lounges, and even a healthy food venue that I had not heard promoted. The thelassotherapy pool is terrific, and there are also hot tubs there. The pool is quite warm, but not as warm as a hot tub. As it was Shrove Tuesday, the last night of Mardi Gras, I did leave to walk 1 block to Senor Frog's to celebrate Mardi Gras for about 90 minutes before returning for dinner. The entertainment was as singer with shows at 8:45 and 10:50pm
On day four we arrived in Tortola, BVI, at 7am and berthed at a pier -- one of two ships at a pier out of 4 in port that day. As I had been to Tortola years ago, I did purchase a Celebrity excursion that provided a 25 minute ferry ride to Virgin Gorda, a stop at Savannah Beach there for 45 minutes where I snorkeled and saw the largest loggerhead turtle I had ever seen in many years of snorkeling. We then were dropped off at parking area for The Baths -- a beach with giant boulders that at one time many years ago were encased in lava. The lava has long ago been weathered away and only the boulders, on land and in the water, remain. The beach is only accessible by going down s sandy and rock path 350 yards down to the beach, and it seems longer on the way back up! The beach does have a bar and restaurant, and bathrooms available. There is also a path through boulders, running water, and pools that many people crawled through. After the ferry ride back they dropped us not by the pier but several blocks away in the downtown area -- right across the street from Pusser's Rum Store. The rum was a staple of the British Navy and the store and bar has been there for years. It looked the same as it did 15 years ago, and their trademark Painkiller drink with Pusser's rum is still as potent as I remember!
This was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and Catholic mass and distribution of ashes was available at 5:15pm. They had a 7pm Broadway-style show for the late diners, which I enjoyed. The singers and dancers were excellent. I had forgotten that Celebrity has an "informal" dress night, with jacket required, and this was the evening, so I wore my white dinner jacket over a floral shirt and fit in fine. They had a Tex/Mex Salsa dancing and late night dancing in one of the venues, where I ran into the Celebrity seminar reps and enjoyed some late night conversation with them.
On day five we arrived in Caso de Campo at 9am at a pier. The port authority provides two different bus routes. For $7 they took us to Altos de Chavon, built as a replica of the Italian town the designer was from in Italy. It was filled with restaurants, shops, galleries, and a museum and overlooks the Chavron River gorge. After I returned to the pier, I took the other bus for $5 to Le Marina, a complex of modern shops and restaurants overlooking a marina with very large yachts. There was also a super market where I discovered D. R. ground coffee available for the equivalent of $1 for a half pound. The Caso de Campo area is very isolated from the rank and file Dominican. This area is a huge complex of gated communities, expensive homes, and many golf courses. I really would have liked to go into the town of La Romano by taxi or bus, but traveling alone I chose not to do it this time. Just a cultural note: there were baseball fields all over the more industrial area near the port and they were in use all day long. This was the second formal night, and lobster night, preceded by the Captain's Club cocktail reception. The show this evening, another stage production, was at 10:50pm
On day six we arrived in Labadee, Haiti, at 9am, and tender service was provided in large tenders rather than ship's boats, so they moved people quickly. I went over to snorkel and enjoy the area from 11:30-3:30pm. The view of the verdant green, forested mountains was beautiful. The western half of the island of Hispaniola is mountainous, and Labadee is flat peninsula in this area on the northwest coast. The eastern half of the island is flatter, and that is where the Dominican Republic is located. The peninsula at Labadee has five different beach areas, one with ocean surf and the others with calm, bay water. There were ample lounge chairs, a trolley to take people from one end to the other, a flea market with Haitian crafts, and a more conventional shopping market. Food is provided in several venues, but only from 11:30 to 2pm. There were few fish evident while snorkeling, but more small conch shells than I have ever encountered. A relaxing day, and I felt that the island was not as cluttered as Princess Cay, and more varied than Half Moon Cay, some of the other "private island" areas. Back on the ship there was a comedian at 7 and 9pm. It was Island night at the pool deck with a fruit dessert buffet late.
The last day was a sea day with the usual distribution of baggage tags, customs forms and debarkation instructions. Based on what passengers had indicated on their preregistration or on a form distributed earlier in the week, they distributed a note giving a specific place and time to meet for individual debarkation of the luggage tag color and number, and there are no announcements calling people away. It is done by walkie talkie by the staff, a pleasant change. I attended an excellent wine and food pairing session, and although I am a wine affectionado, I learned quite a bit. They had samples of chicken, pesto chicken, chocolate, olives, various cheese, and a lemon slice to use when tasting and comparing wines. Excellent session. The shows the last night were at 7pm and 8:45 and were an a capella group, other singers, and an adagio duo. Luggage had to be out by 11pm.
On arrival in Fort Lauderdale we were asked to be out of cabins by 8am. My debarkation time was 9:25am and was right on time. The luggage, customs, and transfer to the airport went very smoothly.
My overall thoughts: In conversation with various passengers, they agreed the ship never seems crowded. There are many venues for evening entertainment, music and dancing. The Solarium is outstanding. The Martini Bar, and the very talented bartender Torgi, was very pleasant, and as entertaining as Tom Cruise was in the movie "Cocktail." Service was excellent, and food was very good, but presentation was not outstanding, just very good. Lobster was large and cooked just right. Omelets and eggs to order are available, as are fresh waffles and pancakes. Pizza by the slice is available 11 hours a day, and they will make a pizza to order with your choice of toppings, which takes about 12 minutes. Ice cream is free throughout the day. The staff was very accommodating. My only complaint was that the buffet area was frequently out of glasses, substituting paper cups, some coffee machines were not working, and the mid-afternoon food choices are limited in the buffet area. There is no evening buffet, but there is a reservations only bistro area set up in the aft end on one side of the buffet area, with linen and glassware and table service. The gratuity is only $2 per person. I'm glad I made the time to check out this ship and the new ports.
After wondering for the better part of two years whether cruising was for me (my life has been filled with adventure vacations), I planned and booked a cruise on Celebrity Millennium, along with my sister, with four Eastern Caribbean stops (San Juan, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Campos de Camp in the Dominican Republic and Labadie, Haiti.
I live in Broward County, Florida, so getting to the boat was as simple as asking a friend for a 15 minute drive. Embarkation went slower than normal (according to cruise veterans), in large part because the Millennium had just crossed the Atlantic and as a result Immigration, Customs and Coast Guard inspection took a big longer. Nevertheless, we were on the ship within 90 minutes of arriving at the terminal, feeling positive and ready for my new adventure.
Things were going right from the start. My sister's pre-booked Spa times were in place, our excursion tickets were in our room, so we have plenty of time to explore our new ship (home) of the next seven days and have a buffet lunch up on Deck 10. The muster drill went well and I amsure by the second cruise will be a big bore. Now, on to the particulars:
Ship Millennium looks good. The various art offerings around the ship were really amazing and often thought-provoking. There is normal wear and tear. During the trip, the wood rails on Deck 11 were sanded and varnished, so it appears that there is ongoing maintenance.
Stateroom We were in a CC room on the 8th Deck. Immediately, my sister fell in love with the veranda and spent many a restful hour enjoying the sea rushing by. Rooms are a bit small by hotel standards, but there is plenty of space for storage and after all, we did not go on the cruise to sit in our room (veranda excepted).
Dining We expected this to be one of the highlights and it was. Our tablemates were Celebrity veterans returning to cruising after being part of the famous Princess "tilt cruise". Their experiences and advices were a highlight of dining. The food was really good. (NOTE: The appetizers and soups were absolutely gourmet). The Olympic Specialty Restaurant offered one of the best meals of my life to celebrate my 65th birthday and the harpist played Happy Birthday on the harp -- a real first.
Entertainment The entertainment was surprisingly good. The Celebrity Dancers and Singers put on three wonderful productions and two of their singers (a soprano and tenor) were absolutely outstanding. A pianist, Antonio Salci, put on a first rate, audience interactive concert. A guitar playing comedian, John Charles, was not my cup of tea, but others in the audience seemed to enjoy his show. Finally, two gymnasts put on feats of flexibility and strength that were truly amazing.
Excursions One of our excursions, a sunset cruise in San Juan, was cancelled -- bummer. Instead I went on a short tour with a street side vendor whose color and personality made up for the lost excursion. In Tortola, I took the Sea and See excursion from which I have some beautiful photos. In Casa de Campo, I took a trip down the Chavon River which turned into Salsa dance lessons -- unexpected, but absolutely fun.
Service The service was an absolute highlight of the trip. Staff always offered a friendly nod as we passed. Our waiters, Jon A and Mauricio, were a wonder -- coordinated, efficient, and always smiling. They definitely added to our dining. Our housekeepers kept our room spotless and the assistant housekeeper often spotted me in the hallway and went over to unlock the door for me. Even in the Aqua Spa, the services were excellent and one of the young ladies, Renee, helped my sister with a knee problem throughout the week.
The Future Yes, more cruising. Next trip is back on the Millennium for a northbound trip on 27 June, 2008. I cannot wait for those excursions!
Background My family has been on many cruises, though this was our first on Celebrity.
We consisted of myself, my husband, our 13 year old daughter and my in-laws. We booked 2 cabins on deck 2, both ocean view.
Flights and Pre-Cruise Hotel My in-laws traveled from El Paso, Texas while we came from Colorado Springs, CO. We met up in Houston and flew together to Fort Lauderdale, FL the day before the cruise. I made independent air and hotel arrangements and was very pleased with our flights on Continental.
We arrived in FLL and called the hotel, Sleep Inn and Suites in Dania for our free shuttle. I'd read many mixed reviews on this hotel, but with the free shuttle and breakfast, decided to try them out. It took 2 phone calls to finally get them to send the shuttle.
My in-laws were surprised at check-in by their oldest friends who happened to be in Florida and spent the night at the hotel. All 3 of us had rooms on the second floor. We were surprised by how nice our rooms were, based on previous reviews, both from Cruise Critic and othersources. We did immediately check the bedding and found it to be fine.
Sleep Inn and Suites is in a residential area. However, there is a Walgreen's next door and a strip-mall across the street. There is a Publix grocery store (they don't sell hard liquor, only beer and wine), a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, an Italian restaurant (where we ate -- the food was mediocre), and a "Dollar Tree" store in the mall.
We set up our port shuttle at check-in, as did others who would become friends on this cruise. Make sure to reserve space for your trip to the port, or you will need to make your own arrangements!
The pool was a bit chilly -- this from my 13 year old daughter who will swim anywhere. The hot tub looked dirty.
Breakfast was fine with an assortment of juices, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, fresh fruit, cereals, make-your-own waffles, breads and pastries, and hot biscuits and gravy. Fine fare for the price. We used our AAA card and got our rooms for $89 each.
Embarkation The shuttle arrived as promised and took us on a 10 minute (or so) trip to the port. When we arrived, our luggage was dropped off with a porter who produced luggage tags for us (we were e-ticketed and didn't get our tags beforehand). We were leery about leaving our luggage, but did so anyway.
We were then directed to the first of MANY LONG lines. I had expected check-in to be quicker and less painful than it was. And, though I knew that there would not be many children on this trip, I was as surprised as my daughter at the age of our fellow passengers. Even my in-laws who are in their late 70's were surprised by the elderly crowd. I'd guess that the median age on our trip was 70 years old. In all, there were 34 passengers on our trip who were younger than 18. More about that later.
We spent over 1-1/2 hours in lines to board the ship. We arrived at noon, and were onboard a bit before 2PM. Our first welcome to the ship was with a hand-sanitizer wipe -- the first of hundreds we were handed. No welcome champagne or escort to our cabins was offered.
Cabins -- Part One We moved in the direction we were pointed and found our way to our cabins. My in-laws were in cabin 2023 and we had cabin 2014. Very convenient for us to be so close yet so far apart!
Our cabin was smallish, but serviceable. We immediately met Corazon who agreed to remove "anything that costs extra" from our cabin, including overpriced water, a bottle of wine, and the contents of our fridge. The cabin had been prepared for the three of us with 3 life jackets, beach towels, robes, etc. I was very pleased with our first room stewardess.
MAJOR point here -- while unpacking, I got out our power strip. This was not a brand new one, but one which we've used both in our house and on trips. Plugged it in (no, not in the bathroom "shaver only" outlet OR in the European plug -- duh) and heard a pop, fizz sound and watched it as it began to smoke and melt. Unplugged it and tossed it across the bed to my husband who threw it into the shower and doused it with water. After that, we tried the nightlight (the least expensive plug in item we had) before we plugged in camera chargers, laptop, etc. Have NEVER had that result when plugging a power strip in.
As I'd done a lot of research on the ship and prices, we had visited Publix the day before and used our spare "roll up" suitcase which we always pack to bring our own water, soda pop (I'm a Pepsi girl and the ship carries limited Coke products), and fruit juices (in case I'd somehow packed some rum in our suitcases for in-room drinks). This suitcase came to our room quickly, as did all of our other bags and fit well under our bed. Our daughter had a pull-out chair as her bed -- smaller than a twin and probably not great sleeping for anyone over 5'2" and 100 LBS.
After finding our rooms, we went to the Waterfall Café and Grill (aka: the buffet) for lunch. Seating was horrible for the number of guests trying to eat. More on that later, as well.
The Ship I'd expected the ship to be in much worse condition than I found it to be. Yes, there was some frayed carpet and peeling paint, but I spent the first day wondering why it was scheduled for dry-dock. I figured it out later, though!
We split up from the in-laws and started at the top of the ship. It's a ritual we always do when we first arrive on-board. Since I prefer going DOWN stairs to climbing up, we took the elevator to deck 11 and started at the top. This tour allowed us to see some of the worst artwork I've ever imagined. Luckily, we didn't use most of the stairwells from then on.
My daughter peered through the windows of The Tower and looked forward to going there. Unfortunately, they never did open the tower -- even though the "meet and greet" the first evening was scheduled to be there. After waiting for 10 minutes for it to open, we were directed to the Fun Factory.
I'd read that there would always be 6 counselors on any cruise, but there were actually only 3. Therefore, they didn't have the staff to open the Tower.
So, we tried to find the Fun Factory. Be advised that it's difficult to find and can only be accessed by either passing though the Waterfall Café or by using the aft bank of elevators to level 11. It took 4 of us about 10 minutes and a lot of misdirection to find the place.
Most of the ship's public areas were nice. There were a number of nooks and crannies so that you rarely had the feeling of being on an overcrowded ship.
Although I'd read that the Bar at the Edge of the World had horrid décor, we actually LIKED it. It was usually a pretty quiet place.
Lifeboat Drill A fact of life onboard a ship. However, I fear that if this ship ever needs to use the lifeboats, it'll be absolute chaos! We mustered in the Celebrity Theater (along with hundreds of other passengers). My husband commented that on all of the cruises we've ever taken, it was by far the worst. We mustered, heard instructions, and were herded to a lifeboat. No roll-calls, so I suppose that anyone who chose to could skip this ordeal, if they found a place to hide out.
Dining I'd come onboard expecting marvelous food. Boy, was I ever disappointed! There were only two or three exceptional items served throughout the whole cruise. One night, my "medium rare" filet came out as VERY well done. Our server offered to send it back, but since we sat each night for nearly 2 hours at dinner, I refused. One night, my husband's lamb dish came out with no meat!
My in-laws ate most of their breakfasts and lunches in the dining room. We chose to eat in the buffet. Standard fare with little variety.
We got late-seating dinner (though we'd been wait-listed for early). Hence, our daughter either had to skip evening kids' activities or eat elsewhere. She loved getting room service for dinner, but had little room to eat in our cabin.
Entertainment The Party Band seemed to know 15 songs (and not too well). Jefferson Ang was a guitarist and we spent many evenings listening to his music. He, too, had a limited repertoire. Karaoke was a joke, with 2 guys who were pretty good and some truly awful singers, besides. Our daughter really enjoyed the juggler, but he off-loaded after only doing one show. There was a singer who was good, but she made sure that everyone knew that she was selling her CD's outside of the theater. The Acapella group was pretty good, but they reminded me of a small Mormon-boys-choir. I enjoyed them once, then skipped future shows. Also, there was a ventriloquist who was funny the first night and really stale by the second show. Mostly, the entertainment was geared towards the median age -- slow during the day and nearly non-existent come night-fall.
Enrichment There were a couple of lecture-series. One was an expert on the canal who got many of her facts wrong (though her slide show was correct). We sat through only one of her 3 part series. She also sold a book and map outside of the theatre.
There was also a mystery writer. We skipped her talks.
Activities Huh? The only great activity that we did was a kids-club "Family Scavenger Hunt." We were the only family to show up, so they pitted 4 teens against us. My daughter won a backpack filled with "X Club" merchandise. Otherwise, the activities were slow to dead.
Kids' Club Again, with so few kids, the kids' club activities were "modified." Apparently, they continued to offer the activities, but if the kids weren't interested, they let them pick what to do. I didn't bring our daughter on this trip to sit and watch movies and play endless rounds of "Guitar Hero." She, however, had a blast!
DD notes that I haven't said enough "good" about the Fun Factory. So, to be fair to her, I'll add that they had a long wall filled with Playstations and they offered 30 minutes of free play in the arcade. They also had a ball pit and a small outdoor wading pool. When fully staffed, I'd say that the Fun Factory is probably a blast for the 7-12 y/o set.
Photographers They were out in force. More photo opportunities than I've ever had. However, they didn't do a "hard sell" once the pics were done. Also, my daughter decided to get a "Mom and me" shot done, and specifically asked to pose us herself. Once the photographer understood what she was after, he did the best job I've ever seen, actually having us lay on the floor with him taking pictures on his stomach! That sure got a lot of watchers, and sold many more pics, as folks started requesting "special poses." Prices were high for photos ($19.95 for an 8x10), but we bought 8 (and I usually HATE getting my pictures taken).
Service/Staff Second in my cruises only to Regent. Our room stewardess/stewards were good to excellent (more on that later). Our waiter was great -- although the assistant was only fair. We were all surprised to see the Maitre'D each night -- that's a first in all of our 20+ cruises. We had a very drunk and loud lady at the table next to us each night and by mid-cruise I asked him to intervene. From then on, she and the table-mate she argued with took turns in the dining room and it became much more peaceful.
Our daughter LOVED the Ice Cream Lady. She put up with a lot of rude passengers, yet remained lovely.
Guest Relations staff were terrific, within their abilities.
The shipboard medical crew were a very mixed bag -- from lovely to horrid -- read on for details about that!
Daughter and I availed ourselves of the spa one day. We did the "hands and feet" service. I've never done a spa treatment on a ship, and likely won't again. Our attendants were Jamaican and spoke to each other during the whole treatment in a language we didn't understand.
Internet Café In a word -- SLOW. Once, it took 7 minutes to load up their Yahoo front page. (I had their expert watching and he offered me a credit, but then I had to push a couple of times to get said credit. When it finally showed up, it was at $.65/minute as opposed to the plan I'd bought at $.42/minute. Wasn't going to hassle it for a couple of bucks. Also, we weren't able to access any computer until well over halfway through the trip. That sure felt weird on top of the other "events" which were happening to us, by then.
Casino I've never seen such a stingy casino. Celebrity should up the payoffs on the machines. Very few people were in there, unless it was cold outside and they wanted to smoke. The casino is divided into smoking and non-smoking. Half the slots and all of the table games are non-smoking, while portside slots were for smokers. Surprisingly, the non-smoking part wasn't terribly smoky. Good ventilation, I guess.
Smoking Many of the public rooms were divided into smoking/non-smoking. I'm pretty sensitive to smoke, but didn't seem to be bothered much by it (unless I was on the port side). I saw some horribly rude folks sit down on the smoking side in lounges and proceed to fan/hold their noses/etc. Hey, if it bothers you, go starboard! Also, in our final cabin (deck 7 balcony) we had a cigar smoker next door. Now, that's strictly prohibited, but as we were told numerous times by staff -- "unless a passenger complains and can pinpoint an offender, we won't do anything about it." Funny, but EVERYONE who walked past the cigar smoker at the pool bar chose not to complain. Nor did folks complain about people in jeans and t-shirts at dinner.
Shore Excursions We booked 2 prior to our trip. The first was the "Semi-submersible" in Grand Cayman. What a great trip for the family! Our daughter got to swim, husband and I got to snorkel, and the in-laws got to see loads of fish from the comfort of 6' below water benches. I'd highly recommend this to families.
Our second Celebrity excursion was the interactive sea-turtle release program in Acapulco. My in-laws didn't sign up for this one, so it was just the three of us and 29 others. It was a long (boring) bus ride to the farm, but once there, we had a great time. My husband's turtle won the race and his prize was a silly plastic turtle which he treasures.
We did the other stops on our own, and generally hired a cab for city tours. I'd read to speak rapid-fire English in Columbia to get a good driver. It was great advice. However, the guide had his own ideas of where to go and had 11 of us in his van (fully air-conditioned, my behind!) Although none of us wanted to shop, many stops at shops still happened.
Advice for the whole trip: If you have the advantage of speaking/understanding some Spanish, don't give away your secret too quickly. I found the drivers and "guides" discussing things which never would have been talked about had they known I understood them so well.
Debarkation I'd heard that this goes well. We were supposed to be called around 9:15, so had an early breakfast and went back to our staterooms. We were asked to go to public areas by 9AM and there we sat for over an hour. LONG lines, again. They never did call for our group to leave the ship, so eventually lots of us just left. Could have been much better.
San Pedro to LAX I had researched this and decided to not take Supershuttle or Celebrity's shuttle. Instead, we got a cab after debarkation and spent $52 for all of us and our luggage to get to LAX.
Was VERY disappointed with US Airways, as our flight to Phoenix was delayed over an hour, my husband, daughter, and I were removed from the plane because they gave our seats away to stand-by passengers, and our connecting flights were delayed as well. We didn't get home until 2:30AM when we were supposed to be home at 9:30. I'm not sure I'll ever fly with them again.
The Buzzards and the Vultures A strange title, but certainly the feeling I had when dealing with crew and fellow passengers. The Vultures were the folks who sold the gold-by-the-inch, "special priced t-shirts," art auctions, amber, spa treatments, etc. I was shocked by the "nickel and diming" throughout the cruise. I'd expected more refinement. The Buzzards were the ones who pulled the only XL tee-shirt left out of my hands, butted in the buffet line, etc. It was the feeling of being a "mark" to one group or the other for much of the trip. There were some nice folks on this trip. And then, there were the rest of them. There were a LOT of motorized scooters and their drivers were reckless, to say the least! I've never seen so many obese people in one place as I did on this trip. I also can't remember EVER meeting so many entitled and rude people in one place. The median age also affected us -- I'm in my late 40's and felt like a kid.
"Dirty" Details Now, to the dirty details of our trip and why I'm unhappy with X:
12/7: FLL Embarked
12/8: At sea I woke up with some bites on my legs. Had our Cruise Critic Connections party and met a couple of the staff. We hadn't been "in" on the CC list for long, and I didn't feel really welcomed (besides the fact that the Connections boards told me in no uncertain terms that folks didn't want kids on this cruise).
12/9: Grand Cayman MISERABLE night. Spent most of the night in tears with the feeling of being eaten alive. Took Benedryl at 4AM and slept until 8. Went to Guest Relations and was told to go to Medical between 9AM-noon. Since we had booked an excursion, I wasn't willing to skip the paid-for excursion, but had my complaint in prior to our first debarkation. They also said that they'd be changing out our mattresses while we were onshore.
12/10: At sea -- Went to medical, signed a sheet of paper which said I'd pay for all charges, and was told that I was allergic to bedbugs. Was told that I wouldn't have to pay for the consultation afterall. Apparently, I was the second passenger to have this problem, although it's an ongoing problem with the crew. This was by a lovely female doctor from Peru. (By this time, I had over 100 welts all over my body). Many folks in and out of the infirmary while I was there. Big problem with a virus which quarantined the sick person for 3 days and anyone else in the cabin for one. Nothing on the ship about sickness, but suddenly many more hand wipes showing up. I was put on Benedryl, Prednisone, and cortisone cream. We were told to stay out of our cabin for 2 hours while they removed our luggage to get it fumigated. Also was told to stay out of the sun and not drink alcohol until I was done with the Prednisone (3 days). Well, we got done with lunch and went back to cabin 2014. One whiff at the door, and our asthmatic daughter went into an attack. We kept her out of the room. Once we opened the door, we were assaulted by so much insecticide throughout the room that we could only stay in the cabin for minutes at a time. DH interjects here with "There were puddles of white liquid everywhere." My Mother-in-law got some wonderful pictures of wet EVERYTHING (and slipped in the bathroom while doing so), while I went directly to Guest Relations and brought back Janine, the manager. She was aghast at the amount of insecticide used (and all over -- our daughters' lap-top screen is ruined, our toothbrushes were completely sprayed, and an assistant head-housekeeper was busily trying to wipe everything down while telling us that we were going to lose him his job). He proceeded to go to the aft elevator area and cough so badly that I worry even now for the effects of his time spent in our cabin.
Janine told us that the room was now uninhabitable, so we were asked to leave our luggage (which had not been removed) and move our belongings to room 3008. Of course, most of our clothing was wet, so X offered to launder 8 pieces of laundry for free. Our daughter's stuffed Snoopy was slathered, as well, and they put a rush on washing him so that she could sleep that night with her stuffed animal. We submitted about 15 of the worst of the wet, and didn't get a bill (though I haven't checked my Visa statement since I got home). So, we packed up everything in about 10 Celebrity bags and a bunch of Walmart bags which we used to carry our shoes in. Talk about feeling like hillbillies! The stewards carted everything to our new cabin, but we had to spend a LOT of time in a poison-saturated room to get it all together. Had to make another trip to Medical, as the prednisone tablets had been put into an envelope which was doused with insecticide. I couldn't take those pills.
People might say that all cabins are the same size, but 3008 was much smaller than 2014. Our daughter's bed went from small to what she fondly called her "big kid bed" -- referring to it as a toddler bed. The table had to be removed, as it didn't fit with the bed pulled out. Also, I continued to itch in that cabin, so I asked Janine for help. She told me that if, in Columbia, a couple failed to catch up with the ship, we'd be moved again.
12/11: Cartegena -- The itching was nearly intolerable last night, so back to Medical. This time, I sat and waited a LONG time before seeing the chief doctor. Although his tag read that he was from the United States, he barely spoke English. He stated that it was NOT bedbugs, but was a contact dermatitis because while we waited, he went to 2014 and found no signs of bedbugs -- well DUH! -- between the insecticide and replacement of the mattresses TWICE, do you think they'd have been dancing around in the sheets mid-day? Now, I'm told to avoid sun, alcohol, tight clothing (underwear!), and turkey and pork (the turkey is apparently basted in pork juices for flavor). I broke down and cried about the restrictions. The doctor informed me that since he doesn't drink alcohol, it shouldn't be an issue for me. Hey, it is my VACATION! Well, actually, it became my liver's vacation. What a way to detox one's body. He put me on a triple dose of prednisone, use a "special soap" twice a day (which doesn't lather and smells a LOT like cabin 2014 did after the fumigation), and told me to use ice packs to numb the itching. He said that if it were bedbugs, everyone in our cabin would have the same reaction. By the end of the cruise, everyone in our group had welts.
Also, I spoke with one of the waiters stationed to pass out anti-bacterial hand wipes about their ineffectiveness against viruses. Within an hour, announcements began that nothing replaces hand washing. However, the staff now begins to wear gloves, some wear masks, and the ship is being wiped down with bleach. (Many folks later complained to Guest Relations about ruined clothes. New announcements commence about not leaning on wet surfaces.)
In the meantime, the couple doesn't make the ship and we're moved again to 7047. We've got a balcony and I'm not getting any new bites in our cabin. Also, the second move was so much easier as our stuff wasn't wet with insecticide. The card room seems to have bugs, though, as each time we go there, we all get new bites. In our newest room, the steward does not remove contents of fridge, add another robe, or bring us an extra beach towel. He does get us the third life-jacket, though. He was a fair steward, but I'm fed up. Oh, by this time, I've had 6 room keys -- 2014, a replacement as my new one won't access the internet (nor does this one -- couldn't get online until after Acapulco); 3008, a replacement because I can't charge anything (dh says he had to pay extra for that card!); 7047, a replacement because my key won't let me off the ship in Columbia.
Days pass with my liver on vacation and myself being in the shade and they're finally admitting a "Norwalk-like virus is on the ship and hand washing is the best way to deal with it."
12/14: Back to Medical asking for a copy of my records. Request refused.
12/15: Late last night, we hear that one of the bar servers has bedbugs. I gave her some benedryl and dh told her to see the female doctor. She reports today that she's cleaning her cabin, but her cabin-mate won't let her go to Medical, as it would mean the ruin of a lot of their things. Apparently, they all know what the fumigation team is capable of!
Note from dh in our daily log: "12/15 -- There is noro-virus on the ship. All of their cleaning programs will be ineffective as long as people are keeping their symptoms to themselves. They have seen others go into quarantine, so they don't mention their diarrhea. Instead, they use the pool and public restrooms along with the healthy cruisers. I saw evidence today in the men's room by the T-Pool. Oh, by the way, I now have visible and itchy bites."
12/16: Waitress-friend goes to Medical and gets diagnosis of bed-bugs. (More details which I've deleted to protect her privacy. Do have her name and that of another passenger on this trip and am awaiting response from corporate.)
Also, have now heard that we're "Code Red." However, reading these boards tells me that "code red" means different things on different X ships. Still self-serve at buffet, still have salt/pepper shakers. However, no staff may leave the ship in LA and even back-to-back must debark in LA and won't be allowed right back on the ship. Has me wondering what time they began loading folks for the next trip.
12/16 -- 12/19: Liver's still on vacation, but the "special soap" is helping. Still itching, though.
12/19 -- 12/20: Quit the prednisone and drink heavily of the fruit-juice I brought!!! Quit the soap and immediately start getting numerous new bites in multiple public areas.
12/21: OFF THE SHIP and headed home.
Conclusion We're all of the firm belief that nobody has the power to ruin your day but yourself. Hence, it was a good trip. We hadn't seen the in-laws in 4 years and to get the experience of the Panama Canal with them was priceless. The staff on this trip put up with some of the rudest people I've ever encountered, and (for the most part) handled them graciously. I saw a woman berate one of the guys at guest services and he stood and took it. (I made a point of going to Guest Relations daily just to say "HI." After all they dealt with regarding my issues, I felt it important to show them my gracious side).
HOWEVER, I expected X to immediately contact me. They haven't. Nor have they responded to my e-mail. I've asked my TA to find a remedy for this trip, but he's on vacation.
Right now, though, I'm still trying to find out what the insecticide was, as our asthmatic daughter has had non-stop coughing since the fumigation and her doctor needs the information. No word yet.
We sailed the Summit 14 nt full Panama transit eastbound from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale on Nov 23, 2007. Embarkation was good although there was a long line-up getting onto the ship. Room was available as soon as we boarded at about 1 pm. This was our 5th Celebrity cruise. We are 50 plus, fit and adventurous. The itinerary itself was not very port intensive. This would be our only complaint as there were a lot of sea days. There's not a lot to do on board on those sea days if you're not into bingo or trivia games, etc.
Ports included Cabo San Lucas where we kayaked over to the rocks and Lovers Beach; Acapulco, we had a blast rafting down the Papagayo River (booked with ship); Huatulco, we hired a boat to take us to a gorgeous deserted beach (Organo) where the snorkeling was amazing; Puntarenas CR, we hired a taxi for a 4-5 hour tour which we enjoyed; cruising the canal in Panama with a brief stop at the Cristobel Pier; and the final port of call in Cartagena Columbia which is an amazing place to visitif you like history.
After sampling some less than great food two years ago, Celebrity shone on this trip. The food in the Cosmopolitan Dining was outstanding. The service, as always on Celebrity, was impeccable. The Waterfall buffet kept a varied and tasty menu we used for most lunches and breakfasts. Also sampled the grill fare and the pasta, sushi, and spa food bars. We have no complaints about the food whatsoever. The Grand Buffet had the best Beef Wellington on the planet, and the midnight chocolate buffet was the best we have sampled. We skipped the Tex-Mex night on the pool deck but enjoyed the fruit, chicken, ribs, and cookies on the Tropical Night. We enjoyed our first tour of the ships galley, arranged with the very personable Ass't Maitre'd. Very reassuring to see the degree of cleanliness, recycling etc., as well as the amazing food preparation.
Entertainment was very good. There may have been a new trainee on the sound board because frequently the singer would begin singing and for two bars there was no power in the microphone. The large Production crew (5 singers and 11 dancers) were very professional and not over-used as on some ships. We also enjoyed the magician, comedian, ventriloquist, hammer-dulcimer player, and baritone.
The gym is very well equipped and seldom full. Never a problem getting a machine. We enjoyed both the outdoor and the spa pool. Hot tubs were not hot until the last few days. Outdoor pool was usually a bit cool but we were happy with it in the hot sun.
Other than the lack of things to do on board (which was really not a problem since we were there to RELAX) there is nothing that went wrong with the Summit journey. Unfortunately, people get cranky going through the canal as they fight over who was here first and trying to take photos. This was surpassed only on disembarkation day! We had opted for the early disembarkation carrying our own luggage since we had early flights. We were supposed to present our card for this purpose at the gangway. They were never asked for and there definitely were several hundred people who just decided to leave early regardless of their assigned luggage tag color. We noted them looking for their luggage in the large warehouse as we hauled ours out. The Ft Lauderdale facility seems very inadequate and poorly organized. One elderly personnel was instructing American citizens to the left, others to the right. Then we hit a screaming woman who said just the opposite. There were only two lines for customs and it was a bit of a zoo. Unfortunately, while still on the ship and the 8:30 exit time passed, people were verbally abusive to the staff who had very little recourse as the port authorities were not ready. Not the best disembarkation we have ever experienced, but it really wasn't that bad, in spite of the angry hordes who would say otherwise.
Overall, a fantastic two weeks aboard a gorgeous ship.
This review describes our 28 days back to back cruise of South America, Nov 11th to Dec 9, 2007. First, let me say that my husband and I are very positive travelers and we tend to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Also, we have learned to keep an open mind during our travels and to thoroughly appreciate and learn from every experience and focus on how lucky we are to live such wonderful life experiences. If there are problems, we discreetly go the source and it is solved. Also, we are encouraged to fill out comment/suggestion cards and leave them at customer relations desk, where they are considered very seriously. No need to bicker outloud. Sadly, there are too many picky, demanding and criticizing travelers. For the most part, on this cruise, the guests were kind, polite with a good sense of humor, which is needed during travels. Also, most of the passengers were of mature age which translated in a quieter atmosphere. We are pleased to have met many wonderful fellow cruisers from around the world.
Our cruise began in Fort Lauderdale where we arrived atthe port around 11:30AM. Embarkation was quick, efficient, courteous and within one half hour we were having lunch at the buffet, after which we changed and headed for the pool. Our room was ready at 1:00PM and our suitcases arrived around 3:00PM.
We were graciously greeted and served champagne cocktail. The ship was beautiful, spotless and very impressive. Muster drill at 4:30 was quick (30 minutes).
The Staff They made our trip most enjoyable. Each and every one of the staff was polite, helpful and spent time talking and joking with the guests. The best staff ever!!
Cabin We had a 7th floor balcony room, roomy, lots of storage and very clean. We shortly met our room steward who took very good care of us during the entire month and greeted us with a smile each day.
Dinner We were scheduled at the early seating 6:00PM as requested. The Trellis dining room is very elegant, live music often. We thought the menu to be amazing: choice of 3 appetizers, 3 soups (one cold), 3 salads, 5 entrees and several desserts. We were utterly spoiled by our superb waiter, Alexandru Brad (table 584), a Romanian young man who quickly learned our likes. Whatever we wanted, we got and more. We asked to keep our waiter the entire 28 days, we had such a good time with him and his team. We also enjoyed the buffet breakfasts, omelet stations, the poolside grill and the spa café restaurant. There was always a large variety of menus. There is also alternative dining on deck ten, a little more casual, but with nice menu and table service. We went twice and enjoyed ourselves. During a 2 week cruise, there are 3 formal dinners and the balance between informal and casual, which was fine with most.
The Ship We loved Infinity! With full capacity of 1950 guests, we never felt crowded. There were always areas to be found for quiet reading. The staff was constantly cleaning. There were plenty of loungers by the pools and we were even supplied with blankets for cool days. We mostly enjoyed the Thalassotherapy pool and hot tubs, especially during cool days, which were numerous. We used the gym facilities on sea days, as we tried to walk off a few calories. We had a tour of the galley/kitchen. It is amazing what goes in the ordering and preparation of meals for all guests.
Entertainment We thoroughly enjoyed the Infinity dancers and singers. What energy and high quality performance! Not to miss. There were three major productions shows during each 2 weeks cruise. We attended them twice. Several guest performers were wonderful as well: Jan Stirling (pianist), The Marquez Jazz Trio, The Rosario Boys Quartet etc. The various ship performers/bands were quite talented as well. There was always entertainment to be found somewhere on the ship. Our cruise director Jeff Potts was excellent at his job. Celebrity: They organized Cruise critic parties for each of the two week trips. Thank you. Also, they prepared a lunch feast for back to back cruisers. (with ice sculptures and all.) Thank you.
Celebrity went out of their way to please their guests and make our vacation as pleasant as possible. The entire staff was amazing, and we were treated royally on this cruise. During sea days, we relaxed and participated in a few of the on board activities. There was always something for everyone. Every day, Celebrity Today, the daily information paper delivered to our stateroom gave a short history and points of interest of coming ports as well as all activities on board. We were well informed. The ship chose to limit the loudspeaker announcements, which was appreciated by all.
The Ports Remember, these are our experiences and opinions.
Cartegena: A Colombian acquaintance showed us around the city, the old monastery, Fort San Felipe and the Old City, and Boca Grande (the new hotel zone) all very worthwhile visiting. Loved the Old City!!! Super hot and humid. Upon returning at the ship, we were handed cold facecloths and punch. What a thoughtful touch from Infinity. (And hot chocolate on cool days.) Thoroughly enjoyed the Panama Canal transit. Lush vegetation, amazing learning experience.
Manta-Ecuador: Took a cab with another couple, 30$/3hours per couple. Took us to Monterchristi's open market where Panama hats are made and sold along with other Ecuadorian crafts. We returned to the Civic Square in Manta for more market shopping. We could have avoided Montechristi as we saw the same wares for sale. Ecuadorians are very soft spoken and warm people. We enjoyed our visit.
Lima-Peru: We rented a cab with a wonderful couple whom we met on cruise critic, the driver agreed to accompany us everywhere, The Plaza de Armas, The Cathedral, The Franciscan Monastery (Catacombs), the market and lastly to a flower greenhouse where we purchased flowers 4$/2 doz. No problem taking them aboard. The Plaza in downtown Lima was amazingly grand and beautiful. We watched the changing of the guard. The Peruvians we met are wonderfully warm and welcoming. Taxis can be rented at the pier for an average of 15$/hr. Great day, great weather! PS. The downtown area felt very safe- lots of police. Be prudent: leave valuables on board. We enjoyed the ½ hr scenic drive to downtown Lima, quite a bustling city of 3 millions.
Arica-Chile: Arica is a mid-size seaside town of 185,000 bordered by desert and some fertile valleys. We took a cab for a 2/hr visit to the cathedral, el Morro de Arica, San Miguel de Azapa where we saw an interesting and beautiful cemetery, geoglyphs. We returned and strolled downtown. A worthwhile long enough visit in a very nice and safe port city.
La Serena-Chile: What a beautiful town! Gorgeous architecture, very clean and spacious. A good blend of old and modern shopping. Get a taxi at the pier and get dropped off the Plaza de Armas for own walking tour.
Valparaiso-Chile: Valparaiso is a worthwhile city to visit, a VERY busy cargo port, many plazas, beautiful architecture and several museums. The view from Cerro Cristobal is amazing. We took a cab to Vina de Mar and were disappointed. Not too much to see. Everything is closed on Sunday. We recommend hiring a taxi and guide for an hour to thoroughly visit the city. On Sundays there are several ferias/open air markets. A reminder: Please be returned to "Embarque"(where you go through customs) station (and not the dock) where you catch Bus Shuttle to the ship. We arrived in Valparaiso around 4AM and immediately, loading and unloading merchandise began. Since our room was on starboard side, it was very noisy. You may want to request a port side room to avoid port noises.
The Second Half of Our Trip These were the ports for the second half of our back-to-back cruise:
Puerto Montt-Chile: Puerto Montt (a tender port) was one of our favorite stops. Got a group of ten in a minivan for a 3/h (which ended up lasting 5 hours) 30$/each. Visited the Petruhue Falls, Lake Llanquihue, Emerald Lake, approx. 2 hr ride each way with stops. AMAZING scenery, view of Orsono Volcano and snow peaked mountains. Much German influence in architecture, beautiful farms and estates by the lake and large modern developments. We returned through Puerto Varas, a lovely tourist town by the lake. A tour in Puerto Montt is a must!
The Fjords of Chile: Slow cruising through the Fjords was a sight to behold: mountain cliffs, glacial valleys, snow peaked mountains. Wonderful days.
Puntas Arenas-Chile: Tender port. Rented a cab for a couple of hours. Visited downtown, the Cemetery (Amazing) and walked around the Plaza (crafts markets) before returning to ship. Lovely town of 120,000.
Ushuaia-Argentina: Beautiful city, surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Rented a cab for 3 hours: Visited Terra del Fuego National Park (7$entrance fee) and Martial Glacier. Beautiful scenery. Lovely shopping and quaint restaurants on main street. Loved this port!
Around the Horn: The ship cruised slowly for an entire day around the horn.
Port Stanley: Very long tendering process. Must provide more tendering boats. Weather was very variable: sunny, windy, rainy, hail. We took a shuttle bus from the pier to Gypso Cove to see the penguins. We saw them but from a distance. Very cute!!!! Walked in town, very busy this day as there were three ships in port. The island is barren, not too much to see but we are glad we got to visit this area. Very choppy seas this night, much ship movement.
Puerto Madryn-Argentina: We loved this port. We took a Punta Tumbo tour. We were 3 in a very nice SUV. Long ride but very much worth the trip as we saw and walked around thousands of Magellan penguins and their babies. What a highlight! We visited Gayman, a lovely Welsh town. Returned to town, Puerto Madryn is a lovely oceanside town with a superb promenade and shops. Great weather and great guide. We lucked out in this port. This was by far our favorite port.
Montevideo-Uruguay: We walked from the pier directly to downtown to the shopping/restaurant area. Lots to visit. A 3hr walk around town allowed us to visit several blocks and plazas. Many wonderful architectural buildings. Before boarding, we sat a little outdoor pub and people watched. One liter bottle of beer: 3$. As you can see, we opted for private taxi tours instead of expensive ship tours. This way, we got to visit touristy and out of the way sights and mingle more with the locals on a personal level. (It helped that I speak the language semi-adequately and at no time did we feel unsafe). Many guests chose ship tours for security reasons.
Buenos Aires-Argentina: Now here is a city!! All 3 million and plus.
Disembarkation Disembarkation from the ship went well, followed by shuttle to the terminal. Utter chaos at the terminal. (We learned that 3 ships were disembarking) Finally we found our driver/guide who took us to our B&B to Adrogue (30 minutes from downtown), where we spent the next 6 days.
Next day, he took us on an 8 hr personal tour of the city (the best!) Highlights: Teatro Colon (Grand building being renovated), the Plaza de Many (Gov. House, Cathedral. Town Hall, and huge and impressive works of architectural art, depicting ornate Spanish and colonial styles), Recoleta area (beautiful promenade and fashionable stores and homes) and the Cemenatrio de la Recoleta (amazing!), our Lady of the Pilar Church, San Telmo, La Boca (very interesting historically and visually, the setting for painters, artisans, open air tango shows.
Shopping: We shopped two full days on Calle Florida and Lavalle. Incredible experience: Beautiful stores, leather factories abound (I had a jacket made to order, very reasonably priced), thousands of people, outdoor tango dancing, musicians, etc. Very busy city. A visit to Galeria Pacifica is a must. One would need several days to thoroughly absorb and visit all that this city has to offer. We were quite impressed. The train and subway ride (extremely inexpensive) from Adrogue (1-1/2hr) to downtown was an adventure and an experience in itself -- not for the claustrophobics and not up to North American standards. There is also a mini-bus service if one chooses. We stayed at Teresita B&B: very comfortable and quiet cottage, good service. We flew back to Miami with American Airlines. All went well. We returned home on Dec 20th, in time for the holidays. This was a trip of a lifetime which we will remember forever. We made great friends. Would we travel on Infinity again? Definitely Yes, in a heartbeat.