Let me state this first. The cruise itself, its crew, and its food rated 6 stars out of 5. The ship itself rated a 3 and support from Cruise Air rated negative stars.
This was our first trip with Celebrity. We are Diamond Plus with its mother company, Royal Caribbean. We had four disappointing cruises with RCCL in a row, so we decided to see what the "Higher" rated sister company would do for us. Again, as far as the actual cruise, It was superb
(UGLY) We booked through Celebrity's Choice Air due to the "guarantee" that they will work with the airlines to get you to your cruise. Well, about all I can say is this is a lie. As soon as our initial flight broke (engine wouldn't start) and we knew we would not be able make our connecting flight in Los Angeles, I talked to the airlines. For all practical purposes, their response was "so sad...too bad". They would get us to Vancouver B.C., but it would be 5 hours after our ship departed. I immediately called the travel "emergency" phone number. The lady I spoke to toldme to "talk to the airline". When I told her that I had, she "in effect" told me "so sad...too bad". And then she went on to say that we could not connect with our cruise at the next port due to the "Jones Act" (also know as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 and was originated in Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886). All she would do is send an email to the ship and see if they would make an exception and take us on in Ketchikan, AK. I called back and was to she had no news yet. I raised cane with the airlines because there was a direct flight to Vancouver and they were making no effort to get us on it. They then started trying to get us seats. In the meantime, I called Cruise Air again to ask if we should go ahead and go to Vancouver or stay in Phoenix. I got a man this time whom I told multiple times I could not hear or understand him. He did absolutely nothing to try and raise his volume or adjust his mic position. I finally determined he said he didn't know if I should go or stay or if the cruise line would provide accommodations if we did miss the ship. When the airlines finally released seats to us, I called Cruise Air a fourth time to tell them we were on our way to Vancouver and to notify the ship we were coming and would be cutting it close. I got the same guy and still could not hear or understand him, so I had no clue if he was going to pass on the message or not. BOTTOM LINE: Only use cruise air to identify flights that the cruise line say will get you there on time and nothing else they are only there to duck, weave, and avoid when something goes wrong!
We did arrive in Vancouver sans luggage. From this point on Celebrity went out of its way to get us to the ship. They had an employee go out and flag down a cab for us. The told the ship we were on our way, even though we were going to get their substantially after the normal cutoff time. We were run through the check in line and security in very short order. Finally we were on the ship!!!
We immediately went to guest relations to notify them that our baggage would be a couple of days behind us. To our surprise, they gave us toiletries and some underwear to get us through the first couple of nights with spending an arm and a leg aboard the ship. That was a very pleasant experience. It actually buoyed our spirits and relaxed us.
(BAD) I will take two negative shots at the ship itself and then everything else was superb.
#1 The ship windows in the public area were horrible. The were streaked, coated with salt, and very difficult to enjoy any type of view through them. This ship just came out of a 17 day dry dock. Are you telling me they could not have done something about the windows and other corrosion before entering into a schedule that is taking passengers through some of the most beautiful waters/terrain found on this earth?
#2 The setup of the food in the Ocean View buffet constituted a safety hazard. If you tried to reach food in the back trays you frequently grabbed ladles that would burn you and you were also frequently be burned by rising steam. The food was pretty good, but you had to take care trying to serve yourself.
The dining room was outstanding. We had open seating for the very first time in nearly 30 cruises. But, we were able to sit with the same serving crew on all but 2 nights. I have never had a Head Waiter (Diego) show up at my table EVERY night and greet you wherever he saw you throughout the rest of the ship. The Waiter (Jaime) and Assistant Waiter (Sharma) were truly outstanding. After the first night they had our wants down to a science. We never had to ask for ice tea for an example, because they had it ready when they saw we were headed for their table. The food was truly outstanding.
The on board entertainment was very good and very enjoyable. The ship's production company did a great job. The contracted entertainers were definitely a cut above those we have seen on RCCL over the last several years. Finally, the groups singing in the bars were good. There were a couple of entertainers that we actually looked up to see where they were playing so we could listen to them each evening.
For shore excursions, we viewed them as bucket list trips as we were unsure if we will every come this way again in the future. So, we booked high end excursions and they we absolutely outstanding. Of course it did not hurt that we had unusually good weather everywhere except Juneau where it was its usual cool, rainy self. But even there the helicopter trip to the glaciers was fantastic. Our ports included Ketchkan (float plane), Sitka (on our own touring), Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)(whale watch), Juneau (helicopter to glaciers), Skagway (canoe trip to glacier), Cruising Hubbard Glacier (you can't legally get any closer that we did that day!), and disembarking at Seward (5 hour cruise tour). I could write a dissertation on how each one was so fantastic, but I will spare you that.
We had an on board naturalist by the name of Milos Radakovich. He gave three different seminars that were very good. His presentation was not only informative but it was presented in a humorous fashion that insure you paid attention. I would had signed for his college classes if he had been teaching at my university in days gone by.
Embarkation was a snap and our luggage was easy to locate. Of course it didn't hurt that we were among the last off the ship because of a booked excursion.
In closing, I will state that yes, I will most definitely sail Celebrity again. The crew goes above and beyond what we are seeing with most other cruise lines. Their look you in the, smile, greet you, and just go out of their way to make you want to be there. The food is great. Service is beyond reproach.....Just please clean the windows!
We departed from MLU on January 15, 2013 via Delta airlines. I had checked the price of using Delta all the way to Singapore and found using Singapore out of LA was cheaper than Delta all the way. We spent the night in Monroe on Jan 14th because of a freeze and fear of iced over roads in the early morning. We spent the night at LAX Marriott Courtyard and flew Singapore air to Singapore on Wednesday January 16 via SX11.(stopped in Narita Japan), and arrived in Singapore on January 18th at about 3:30 AM. SQ37 none stop to Singapore did not fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. We returned from Singapore on SQ 38 nonstop to LA and spent the night in LA at the same hotel.
We arrived In Singapore at about 5:00 AM on Friday January 18th and met up with our English friends that were already checked into the Marina Mandarin hotel. We looked for another couple from Cruise Critic at the hotel, but did not come across them until boarding. While in Singapore I had a tailor made shirt and Vance had a jacket made. We wereallowed to check in around 8:00 AM on the 18th, a pleasant surprise. We had dinner one night at the East Coast Seafood Company at cab ride toward the airport. One night ate at Ruth Chris steakhouse in the hotel.
On Friday, we visited the Marina Sands hotel an Eight Billion project which is a new hotel on the Marina in Singapore, Unfortunately it rained all day on Saturday so we just made our way over to the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel to meet up with other Cruise Critic members. While there my LSU hat attracted a lawyer from Vacherie, La and we chatted awhile regarding mutual friends.
We boarded the Millennium on Sunday around 12 noon and our Penthouse Suite was ready about 1:00 PM. The concierge Jennifer (Jenny) Knights from England was superb in making arrangements for us throughout the cruise. Our 74 tourist for the Komodo island tour were in the first tender off the ship thanks to Jenny.
Monday we were in Singapore, but elected to stay aboard and enjoy our cabin.
Tuesday we were at sea and ate with the Staff Cabin at the late dining for the first formal night.
Wednesday we were at sea and ate at the Olympic Restaurant in the wine room which is nice, but it tends to be a little warm, so be-fore warned.
Thursday Jan 24 Bali-- We were scheduled to visit Lombok, but the captain stated that Indonesian officials were making it difficult to remain on our schedule so the captain changed the schedule and sailed to Bali arriving much earlier than previously scheduled and on a different day. We all had to change our previously scheduled private tours. When we arrived in Bali, we just took a cab tour to Denpasar, the capital of Bali, visited a market, then stopped at the Batik factory and bought some beautiful shirts and many very reasonably priced gifts. When we returned to the dock we did not go back to the ship, but waited around for 30 minutes to go on our previously arranged Tanah Lot Pan Pacific Sunset dinner tour. We used PT.BEWISH INTERNATIONAL TOUR CO. We visited the Taman Ayun temple used by Hindu people. We visited Alas Kedaton (Monkey forest) which had monkeys just running all around free and many huge winged bats in the area. Tanah Lot temple (A Hindu Temple) was viewed from a distance since the sun did not co-operate for a beautiful sunset. We ended up eating at the Pan Pacific hotel in Bali we a beautiful view of the sea. We returned to the ship 12 hours after we left so it was a long day.
Friday we were still in Bali, but it rained so we did not go on a tour. I went ashore to just buy from the locals that were giving the hard sell on the previous day when I didn't have time to work with them.
Saturday- we arrived at Komodo Island and met our tour group with 74 of us that Art had arranged. Everything worked fine in spite of the change of venue. We received everything that was promised. We visited the village for a few minutes and then the pink beach and had lunch on board our little boat.
Sunday we went to Lombok (originally scheduled for Thursday) and did our private tour with Jane's arrangements. Visited the Lembar Harbor, the Sukarara village where weaving is done, Sengigi Beach, the Batu Balong Temple and the Banyu Mulek village. We had a very good fried shrimp dinner included in trip cost. We did drive to Mataram city and visited a Mayura floating Pavilion.
Monday - we were at sea and enjoyed some Joker Poker games.
Tuesday we were at sea and ate in the Q-sine Restaurant which was an eating experience.
Wednesday-Jan 30 we docked at Port Klang to go to Kuala Lumpur via a private tour arranged by Eileen. We went to the Batu Caves, but 276 steps was too much for us. Made a photo stop to take a picture of the PETRONAS Towers, and went up in the KL tower, and then to the Central Market and had a nice meal and did some shopping visiting Chinatown.
Thursday Jan 31 we toured Penang, Malaysia via a private tour run by Kimmy. We landed in Georgetown and then visited the Kek Loksi Temple and the Funicular. We drove through Little India, drove up Penang Hill and came down on a funicular. We past Kapital Keling Mosque and St. George church but did not get to the Botanical Gardens.
Friday Feb. 1 was a tour of Phuket, Thailand arranged by Art which was very good. Phuket is approximately the size of Singapore and is Thailandâ€™s largest island. We cruised on a Chinese Junk, the JUNE BATHRA to James Bond Island (KoTapu or Nail Island) ($6 fee to stop on the island) We cruised in the beautiful Phang Nga Bay. We had to transfer to a long tail boat for a wet ride to Ko Tapu and also to the Sea Gypsy Village. This island became famous from the 1974 Bond film "The Man with the Golden Gun" starring Roger Moore and Christopher Lee- (Scaramanga). As we made our way back from a long day we noticed how active the downtown area of Phuket was. This Friday night we were invited again to the Captainâ€™s table for a formal dinner.
Saturday was a day at Sea and we had to pack to disembark the next day. It was an easy disembarkation and well organized and we toured the Botanical Gardens in Singapore on the way to the airport where we had plenty of time in the wonderful Singapore lounge to eat a nice Buffett meal complimentary to guests on Singapore's flight SQ38 none stop to LAX. We spent the night at the LAX Marriott Courtyard and flew home the next day.
My wife and I traveled to Alaska from July 7 to July 19, 2013. We were part of a group of 57 that was put together by our local travel agent. We spent the first 5 days of our trip on land and the last 7 days sailing on the Celebrity Millennium. The entire trip was coordinated by Celebrity. Let me say up front that the cruise portion of our trip was far superior to our experiences on the land portion. I will describe each day of our trip in chronological order.
Day 1: We flew into Anchorage on Air Alaska and spent the first night at the Anchorage Marriot. It was a nice hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel we met our tour guide, Patricia, who would be with us for the entire land tour. Patricia gave us some information and handed us our room keys. We ate supper at the Simon & Seaforts restaurant. The meal was good but quite expensive (we later learned that this would be the case throughout Alaska).
Day 2: We rode the Alaska Express train to Talkeetna, about a 4 hourtrip. The ride was smooth and the train is a two story with the top having a glass ceiling which made for easy viewing of the scenery. We had a guide who was quite knowledgable. On the lower level was the dining car. Most everyone had breakfast there and that was enjoyable. I would recommend the blueberry pancakes. They were quite good. Full breakfast was around $12 and that included the beverage, not bad for Alaska standards. We were seated with a couple from Mississippi who we really liked and ending up socializing with them throughout our entire trip. We spent the night at the Talkeetna Lodge and it was very nice. Sometimes you can see Mt. McKinley from the lodge, but it was not visible during our stay. We took a river float excursion and there were only 5 people it the raft. Corky, our guide, was very knowledgable. We saw an eagle in its nest and a beaver dam up close. We had dinner that night at the Foraker Restaurant at the lodge. The meal was good and the dessert that I ordered, a giant piece of chocolate cake with raspberry filling encased in a ganache, was the best dessert I had on the whole trip.
Day 3: We boarded the Wilderness Express again for the 4 hour trip to Denali. This time we were served lunch in the dining car but it was not as good as the breakfast yesterday. The crab bisque, however, was very good. We would spend the next two nights at the McKinley Village Lodge in Denali. It was by far the worst accommodations of our entire trip. The room was dirty and it lacked amenities. They put paper cups in the room instead of glasses. To top it off, my wife and I were given a handicapped room which included a hand held shower that was mounted on the side wall. There was no way to shower except to hold the nozzle with one hand, making it very difficult to wash yourself. There was no place to put toilet articles in the bathroom and one very small garbage can for the entire bedroom. The first evening we took an excursion to Husky Homestead. This is where they raise and train dogs to run in dogsled races, specifically, the Iditarod Race. The speakers were very good and my wife loved holding the puppies. We ate at the restaurant at the lodge and just had sandwiches. The price was reasonable.
Day 4: Our second day in Denali and it was the worst day of our vacation. We took an 8 hour excursion into Denali National Park. By rule only school buses can enter the park. The road is all dirt and it rained all day. We saw very little wildlife and only left the bus to use the rest rooms. The windows on the bus got muddy and it was hard to see anything. The driver, Nancy, was knowledgeable and very nice. She stopped numerous times to clean the bus windows but they were dirty again in 5 minutes. They provided us with a box lunch and it wasn't very good. We and everyone else on the bus wished we had missed this excursion. To make up for the rotten day, we went to what was said to be the best restaurant in Denali-the McKinley Chalet. My wife and both ordered the most expensive meal on the menu-$39 each. It was a twist on surf and turf with salmon and filet. It turned out to be a very small portion with a small piece of salmon and a filet about the size of a silver dollar. It was served with barley and broccoli. The meal added to the disappointment for the day. We toured the town shops which had basically the same stuff, overpriced tourist junk. We were glad to see this day come to an end.
Day 5: We rode a bus to Anchorage where we had a quick stop for lunch on our own. We ate at the Glacier Brewhouse. We had wood fire grilled pizza and it was very good. We then traveled to the Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood. This is a ski lodge that is open all year and it was beautiful. It was easily the nicest place we stayed in Alaska. We were sorry that we only got one night there. The amenities were numerous. There was no time for an excursion so we went to supper at a place called the Double Musky. We had a feeling it was going to be good when we saw the large number of locals eating there. The food was good and the portions were plentiful. I would have liked to get a steak but they were huge (16 oz for a fillet and 20 oz for strip steaks). I wouldn't have been able to finish it and there was no way to "take it home." My wife and I got shrimp dishes and they were good.
Day 6: They gave us the morning of next day to do things so we rode the tram to the top of the mountain and the view was breathtaking. We got to stand in snow in July! There is a restaurant at the top and it is extremely expensive but the view is great. I heard of a couple who spent $160 for their meal the night before. We rode the shuttle into Girdwood and had lunch at a small place (I wish I could remember the name of it). We then boarded our bus in the afternoon and headed to Seward to meet our ship. Celebrity is the 4th different cruise line that we have been on having sailed previously on Carnival, Princess, and Norwegian. We boarded the Celebrity Millennium and it was the easiest boarding procedure of any of our cruises. We had a good first night dinner and saw a good show featuring a Motown tribute trio called Horizon. Following are some general comments about the Celebrity Millennium experience:
1) We ate all of our dinners in the Metropolitan Dining room. We had regular seating at 6:00 with two other couples from our group. This meant we had the same wait staff at every meal. My wife and I had intended to eat at one or two of the pay restaurants on the ship as we had done on previous cruises. However, the food and service was so good in the Metropolitan we never did. The food was excellent every single night. It was the best dining room food we have had on any of our cruises. Our waiter, Ali, and his assistant, Jun, were great. The maître-d, Ajay, was more involved with us than any I have ever seen.
2) In contrast, the buffet served on board was the worst we have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Stuff was spread out all over the place and hard to find. Sections of the buffet were closed and various times of the day. I had breakfast there several mornings and my wife and I ate one lunch there. Each time I was disappointed. I tried several versions of eggs in the morning and they were never good. Pancakes, waffles, and French toast were served at the far end of the buffet area and inconvenient to get to. The buffet opened at 7:00 AM and some sections opened later. I would have preferred 6:00 AM as I am an early riser. The staff in the buffet area was fair at best.
3) Our cabin steward, Nonet, was excellent. He answered every request promptly and greeted us every time we saw him. I heard from others on the ship that they never saw their cabin steward. We were so impressed with Nonet I gave him an extra tip even though we were automatically charge a tip before boarding.
4) Ship disembarkment for excursions and the subsequent reimbarkment was handled well.
5) Our room was okay but our balcony was not. We had a partially obstructed view even though our cabin was not listed as having one. There was a pole on one side and a protruding corner on the other side. The balcony door worked funny and my wife and I actually got locked onto our balcony one time because of the handle on the door. The shower in the bathroom was the biggest that I have ever seen on a cruise boat.
6) The nightly shows were pretty good but they featured only one act that lasted an hour or less. A little more variety would have been better.
Day 7: This was a sailing day. My wife and I went to the gym. It is all machines with no free weights. To have a class you have to pay extra. The ship sailed near the Hubbard Glacier which was neat to see and provided some great pictures. The evening's entertainment was the ship's singers and dancers and they were good.
Day 8: This was our first stop in Juneau. We did the "Whale Watching, Orca Point, and Mendenhall Glacier," excursion. We rode on a very spacious and comfortable closed in boat. We saw several whales. They fed us lunch at Orca Point. It was good but not a lot of food was given. After getting off the boat, our bus took us to the Mendenhall Glacier. We enjoyed seeing this glacier. The evening's entertainment was a comedian who was not all that funny.
Day 9: We stopped in Skagway. We went on the Alaska Gold Rush Highlights excursion. We first rode a train along the mountains where the gold rush miners traveled. We met our bus at the Canadian border and drove into Yukon Territory. The bus driver, Davy, was very entertaining. We walked on a high suspension bridges which was neat. We had several scenic stops on the way back to Alaska. In Skagway they fed us a great buffet lunch that included ribs and salmon with plenty to eat. Then we heard gold miner stories by a re-enactor who taught us how to pan for gold. We all found some gold dust and we had ours made into a necklace for my wife. The evening's entertainment was again the ship's singers and dancers this time with a different program.
Day 10: We stopped at Icy Strait Point which was in Hoonah. We took the "Bike Trek and Ziprider" excursion. We were a little worried about an 8 mile bike ride, but the pace was very slow and the road was mostly flat. It was a nice way to see the town which is completely controlled by the native population. We stopped at a tree with an eagle's nest and actually saw the eagle fly right over us to the nest. We then took a bus ride that lasted over a half hour to go up 5,000 feet to ride the Ziprider. The ride up was worth it as the Ziprider was awesome with a 5,000 foot drop with speed up to 60 miles per hour. The evening's entertainment was a violinist who was very good and also funny.
Day 11: This was our last stop at Ketchikan. We took the "Ketchikan Highlights and Lumberjack Show," excursion. We could have done without the trolley ride around Ketchikan but the lumberjack show was quite entertaining. We had lots of time left for shopping and there were a lot of places to shop in Ketchikan. The show was once again the ship's singers and dancers with a different program.
Day 12: Our last full day on the ship and it was a sailing day. We made it a relaxing day and spent some time at the indoor pool and hot tubs. The last evening show was the violinist and the Motown tribute trio again.
Day 13: This was disembarkment day. The disembarkment procedure was poorly handled by Celebrity. We had to report to the theater at 8:15 and we sat there until well after 9:00. Since our flight home didn't leave until 4:10 PM we all took the Vancouver excursion. It was okay but we would have preferred and earlier flight to get home. We had a direct flight from Vancouver to Newark on Air Canada. It was the longest check in procedure we have ever experienced lasting about an hour and a half with numerous levels of security and customs. The Air Canada flight had a screen that showed movies and other things with a nominal fee for headphones or you could use your own as we did. That made the flight goes quicker. However, it was a 5 hour flight and Air Canada gave us nothing to eat.
In conclusion, Alaska is an interesting place but it did not live up to the hype that we had been told by so many people who went there before us. I would recommend that anyone planning to go to Alaska only take the cruise and skip the land portion of the package.
Just got back today (Sept 14/12) from a Celebrity Cruise on Millenium and it was the worst cruise I have ever been on, and have been on several. The food was so so, the varity of the food was poor, our cabin with a deck was tiny, the room was dirty, and the ship was plain. The entertainment was ok, but not great, and the debarkation was a disaster, with 3 ships getting out at the same time in Vancouver in a small area it was crazy. Many people missed flight the line up to get a cab was 500 people long.
Talked to one gal who worked there for 20 years said she never saw it so crazy. The could not get the luggage off the boat, they were backed up for hours. Will never book with this cruise line again. Also spent $150 for a photo package that had 10 photos, they gave me the CD but only let me look at the photos they already printed of us, and if I wanted them also it would cost even more then the $150. They said they wouldrather shred the photos then give them to me as part of a package, all I get is the CD.
Celebrity Millennium - Construction Cruise not Modern Luxury! This is our first time and also our last time on Celebrity due to poor management handling of various guest experience. 1st day: our in-room safe was not working - once place our valuable in the safe, the battery went out and we were unable to access our safe. The ordeal lasted more than 3 hours - kept on sending different crew member to resolve the problem, but no one could fix it - we ended up not using the safe through the entire cruise and hid our valuable in our suitecase under the bed. Toilet seat loose, almost off its hinges. Veranda is filthy, debris and remnant from previous guest not once cleaned during our 5-day cruise. Requested private table for two for second seating [prearranged 3 months prior to cruise] - was told by Celebrity reservationist to upgrade [by paying more money] to Concierge Class to get better dinner seating request - we agreed to the upsell and paid additional up charge to Concierge Class. First night, we were seated in a large table w/a group of other family - spent1 hour just to get private table for two as we originally requested - they sat us in a make shift table below stairwell, over looking the bus station, service doors straight into the kitchen. Also, noticed that half of the dining room has brand new carpeting w/rich beautiful red colour, while our section has a drabby brown fading old carpeting. Service staff in general was not very happy or friendly - often expressed that they'll be in dry dock and they won't have any income, but still have to work. They were replying our our tips to support their family [back home]. Buffet cooks were very unfriendly, intimidating and some quite rude and uncaring toward guests, but very nice toward officers and fellow crew members. Construction workers were working through out our entire 5-day cruise - pounding, drilling, scraping, shouting and arguing in public areas through out the ship. The Promenade and Sunrise Deck resembled construction warehouse and lumber yards. Equipments and supplies were placed in public area - lounge chairs were roped off and piled up to accommodate lumber supplies and equipments. Please check out you tube link below to experience what we had to endure through out our cruise:
Wrote to Celebrity CEO - letter was intercepted by Sr. Exec. Rep. - not once apologize nor acknowledge the construction concern ... offered $150 CAD toward future cruise on Celebrity. Celebrity expected to compensate our "botched" Western Caribbean Cruise by this offer [we spent this amount just on tips to the crew whenever we cruise on Holland America Lines].
Best cruise ever!!!
We took a 5 day cruise from Miami FL to Key West FL and Cozumel Mexico on the Celebrity Millennium. We arrived at the port of Miami at 2:45pm. Went thur custom and check-in took 15-20 mins. When we got on the boat the crew welcome us with a complimentary glass of champagne. We then made our way to the top deck(11)to meet the rest of our group(total of 18) and eat lunch. The boat took off around 4:45pm. My mom&I made our way to the room on deck 7(7009 with a window view). The room was nice 2 twin size bed, sitting area with table&chair, pull out sofa. The screen on the 22' LCD tv displayed our first&last name. We thought that was cute.
The overall cruise was boring. The food was OK, entertainment SUCKED as far as the band and dj. Bingo,karaoke, comedy show, broadway at sea show and the night clubs were aight. We(me&my party of 18 which vary from age 23-50yrs)think that the cruise ship is for the older retired non-partying grandma's & grandpa's. The dj knew that everytime he saw us he had to puton some feel good(electric slide, cupid shuffle)music. On the fourth day which was the sea day four of us started the electric slide no one joined in. So after that song he then played Cupid Shuffle about a quarter half of the pool deck got in on the fun, it was amazin and fun.
So we said we will probably never cruise with celebrity again. Our next cruise is this November on Norwegian Sky to the Bahamas. I'm so excited I will post a review about this cruise to. So until next time that's all folks.
The Inside Passage is a fantastic voyage! However, when the cruise ship stops in Icy Straight Point, avoid any bear excursions (especially with TRECKK Outfitters)... Being experienced adventurers, we booked this excursion way ahead of time with the agreement (with TECKK) that 8 of us would be taken deep into the bush to see bears. We even told our parents they had to stay in town since they were in their late 60s/early 70s and we did not want them to slow us down. Anyhow, we get to the pickup spot and realize to our horror they have booked an 86 year old woman (with a walking cane no less) to go with us. In "shock," eager for adventure and short on time I regret we went on the excursion anyhow. That was a BIG MISTAKE. You see, in addition to booking the cane-wielding 86 year-old, TRECKK Outfitters somehow failed to disclose was that it was the beginning of hunting season! Hence, the chances of actually seeing bears was slim to none - thanks TRECKK! Another HUGE deal is that most of your time is spent riding slowly in a vanon a dirt road 13-15 miles each way. Sightseeing while packed in the van is no crowd pleaser either. In the middle of the last century the Tlingit Indians sold a very large portion of their forest to Asian loggers who decimated the forest. Therefore, all you get to see is what's left of a once beautiful forest: Tree stumps, saplings, long grass and the occasional eagle. The short of it is, the guide stated during our lengthy, slow drive through the stumpy forest that we really couldn't do all we paid to do since we had an elder with us who was quite limited physically. What the..? After peeking through some brush along the river a couple of times, he says, "Who wants to volunteer to stay in that van while we drive and hike to a more technical bear-rich area?" No one raised their hands, not even the elderly lady's daughter! Huh..? We finally convinced the daughter to stay with her elderly mother in the van and saw one bear along the river at a great distance obscured by thick brush (which was spotted by my 12 year-old daughter, not the guide). Don't let them lie to you like they did to us; TRECKK told us they actually have people out there tracking bears and, thus, know where to find them. In reality, bears regularly frequent several spots along the river and TRECKK goes to those same spots over and over and over. Bottom line is TRECKK made it sound very appealing when all they really want is to separate you from your wallet as quickly as possible. When we returned, an owner stuck his head in the van and asked if everyone had a good time. Of course, no one's going to give their honest opinion in front of a nice 86 year-old lady. Once inside the office, another owner got a bit nasty. She did not seem to understand the basis for our disappointment and our assertion that taking an elderly lady 13-15 miles into the Alaskan bush is a bit of a buzz kill, not to mention the potential safety and liability issues. She stated all she could refund despite our dissatisfaction was $20 per person. PALTRY when we paid over $120.00 plus tax per person ($960.00 plus tax in all)! I have blogged several cruise ship websites and filled out several surveys about my experience with TRECKK in Icy Straight Point. Avoid taking any bear excursion while visiting Icy Straight Point. If you do get off the boat, visit the little tourist gift shop, go whale watching, etc. but don't get sucked into any bear excursion with TRECKK. It's a complete waste of time and, more importantly, YOUR money!
This was our 14th cruise, but the first on Celebrity. Previous cruise lines have included mostly Princess and the defunct Delta Queen & Orient Lines. It is convenient to compare Celebrity Millennium (1950 Passengers) against Princess since we had followed nearly the same itinerary on Grand Princess (2,600 Pax) the year before.
Also, we just wanted to relax on the ship and nearby shore points. Unlike all previous cruises, Itinerary and Shore Excursions were of very little interest. Climate on the Veranda really was top priority.
We went to the San Juan PR departure port a day early. The Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel has a superb location -- and a staff that can turn over a full house quickly & easily on cruise days (which is nearly every day in San Juan.) But their food service should be avoided due to poor materials. The Ti-juana Restaurant across the street provided an excellent Mexican Dinner and Four-Piece Mariachi Band.
Celebrity’s highly-regarded food and service came through superbly – except for the frustrating inadequacy and errors of their verbal communications:The ship itself is beautifully designed with many striking, beautiful, and/or functional features. For example superior use of sculpture, shape and color, no sense of crowding, and reliably-fast elevators. (Not the 2009, always-broken elevators on Grand Princess.) Food: Over 90% of both complex and ordinary dishes were unusually delicious. Buffet and Dining Room Staff were plentiful and immediately helpfully-attentive to Wife Christine who walked slowly with a cane. Purser / “Guest Relations” Staff were uncharacteristically friendly and helpful. The Director of Food & Beverage fixed diluted Manhattan Cocktails – immediately. Entertainers were brilliant: Amy Abler (Piano) played 50% more notes than I have ever heard in the “Pennsylvania & Beer Barrel Polkas” – lying with her back on the floor ! Kathleen and her Four Saints impressively covered Patsy Cline, Peggy Lee, and many other girl singers during Happy Hour. Happily the Maitre‘de gave us Dinner-Table Companions who were exceptional: Three veteran Commercial Pilots and their excellent wives who were all a lot of fun, very interesting, and quite accepting of us.
All of the above were at least 1½ Stars above Princess. The following Information Services were Two Stars below Princess:Pre-Cruise, Easy-to-Read, Shore-Tour Information was difficult to get. Mail requests were not honored, and internet downloads were bewildering in format and length. Upon boarding you are given a MICROSCOPIC Deck Plan. An ordinary, hand-held, Magnifying Glasses is not enough. Guest Relations managed to print out an 11 X 14 inch Deck Plan which showed Buffet Deck 10 pathways which were actually walled off. “Conservatory” sign pointing the wrong way on Deck 11. The daily paper described one island as: “20 miles wide and 6 miles long” (a Third-Grader’s view of a map). Loudspeaker announcements gave wrong times for events. The Cabin TV set could not be tuned to a specific channel – you have to step through all 25. Nor does it display an adequate “Menu for Interactive-Ordering of Room-Service Food”. The Concierge Class promise of a Daily Room-Service Menu was denied by the Cabin Attendant (who was just returning from a “Honeymoon in Tunisia”). In the middle of the Cruise, a tired Bath Mat appeared: Woven Lettering “Celebrity Cruises X Concierge Class”, faded four shades, a hole worn in it, and three bites out of the edge. The Final Insult was the usual detailed Statement of On-Board Charges, slipped under the cabin door on the final night: Three pages, covering some 80 items, in miniature, 6-point type, printed with a minimum of ink.
SUMMARY: Overall, we very much enjoyed our trip and thought it was worthwhile. Celebrity is a great value. We just wish they had an old-fashioned, AT&T-Type Service Observer on their Public Information Channels.
Chris & Dave Lee, McLean, Virginia
We sailed the Celebrity Millennium 3 times prior to her refurbishing in April 2012. During these 3 sailings, she had become one of our favorite cruise ships. Based on that liking, and earlier pleasant sailings on the older Celebrity vessels Galaxy and Century, we assumed the Solstice class ships would be superior to the earlier Millennium class, thus we sailed a Mediterranean B2B in 2012 on the Solstice and booked our Asia B2B2B, Singapore to Vancouver, BC trip, for 2014 on the favored Millennium. Though the Solstice had not meet our expectations, we were extremely disappointed, when Celebrity suddenly eliminated one of Millennium's scheduled Asia segments leaving us no choice other than to cancel our 2014 Asia trip, and replace it with comprehensive Europe sailings on a new Celebrity ship. Nonetheless, we targeted the same, originally offered Asia Millennium itinerary again for 2015 when Celebrity repeated its initial 2014 itinerary.
Luckily, the opportunity arose to choose our then still favorite Millennium for an ad hoc stint to Alaska in June 2013, prior to the anticipated 46 day long Asia voyage in 2015. At first, we planned to sail her as a B2B, butafter some consideration decided to stay for several days exploring Anchorage-Denali-and the Copper Valley area before returning south. Thus, we bit the bullet of repeated unpacking, luggage handling and additional checking in procedures by using a different cruise ship from Vancouver, BC Canada to Whittier, AK to book the Millennium for our return voyage from Seward, AK to Vancouver, BC Canada.
Upon returning home, we cancelled all bookings for our 2014 and 2015 Celebrity cruising, extremely grateful that we "survived" the 7 day lasting trip just endured on the Millennium, our previously favorite cruise ship.
Below follows a somewhat detailed report with pictures delineating our experience and consequent disappointment.
Prior to "refurbishing" in April 2012, the Millennium was a well-designed ship with good traffic flow, plenty open deck spaces, friendly and efficient crew, impeccable dining room personnel, the usual adequate dining room menu, ok lunch buffet selections (mediocre in the evening) and tasteful, warm decor throughout. She was in generally good condition, except for some cosmetic wear and tear plus minor blemishes, but, we assumed, was surely to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, after refurbishing, - to be even more beautiful and better than before since she was also to undergo the highly advertised enhancement of “Solsticizing” as part of the refurbishing process.
We arrived in Seward, AK port @ about 13:00 hours, anticipating that we would then be able to immediately go to our stateroom. The check in was fast, efficient and painless; so indeed, we were on board by 13:25 hours. We were greeted with the question, whether we would like to go to the buffet for lunch or to our stateroom first. Our choice was the stateroom to lie down after a few strenuous days of exciting exploration and adventures between Anchorage and Fairbanks and an early morning train departure.
Our ship’s escort leading the way to the stateroom found the hallway door to the rooms still closed, thus surmised the rooms may not be ready. By now it was 13:35 hours and we made our way to the reception desk asking for access to the room. At that time wheelchair bound, citing the need to lie down and having scheduled our boarding to co-inside with the customary access time to the stateroom.
The receptionist then called the International Customer Service Representative who introduced himself, grimacing a smile, as Steven De Winter; a curt, unpleasant, slimy chap who arrogantly stated that he had not yet released the announcement for stateroom occupancy. Therefore, we could not go to our stateroom until he announces that they are ready. Wheelchair bound, I pointed out, that I really would like to lie down, that it was now past 13:45 hours and customarily, staterooms are available at the latest @ 13.30 and room stewards likely moved on to getting checked-in luggage ready for stateroom delivery. His reply was, that Celebrity is a very special cruise line and does things much different than other cruise lines, but I would be welcome to go down to the sick-bay and lay down on a stretcher until he releases the rooms for occupancy.
Less than 3 minutes later, his loudspeaker announcement released all cabins.
The stateroom was as expected from previous sailings. The room steward introduced himself later that evening “checked in luggage arrived by mid-afternoon. The lunch buffet featured the previously experienced lukewarm, dried out “Paella” (in name only) and other standard buffet style fair including the heavily watered down lemonade.
Except for the “Paella-Welcome-Specialty”, the buffet choices remained more or less the same throughout the 7 day cruise. A circumstance particularly unpleasant as the main dining room was closed for lunch every day, except on the first sea-day and the last sea day, opening for the Brunch Buffet in which all daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet choices were lined up together, but now were presented among Ice sculptures and other colorful decorations.
Unfortunately, extraordinarily inattentive dining room personal failed to serve coffee or water, or juice until after one was seated for quite some time, almost having finished the first course of brunch. Moreover, very unpleasant, was the fact that no-one of the dining room waiters cleaned up the tables of those people who had left, or the used plates on our table. Thus, we were surrounded by seven tables, fully laden with dirty dishes up to and including our departure from the dining room. The personnel, largely Serbian, Slovenian and Croatian servers, avoided eye contact, and were certainly not inclined to clear tables; presumably, that was to be someone else’s responsibility who was apparently not in attendance.
Dinner at the dining room had sufficient choices of well-prepared good quality food, we were served by some excellent waiters and some so, so “but still OK waiters in the “my time dining” section of the upper level.
Less pleasant was the bickering of some female waiters on the outer buffet deck, who among themselves discussed their misfortune, disappointment and unjust treatment experienced working on this ship, without any regard to nearby sitting guests who could not help overhearing their loud complaints while clearing tables with disgusted faces.
The ship itself is in desperate need of eliminating the obvious signs of neglect without subjecting on- board passengers to its upkeep, repairs and maintenance.
There were too many issues to mention: an example of some is:
Mint tea bag hunt,
Broken Solarium windows,
Missing top railing on upper aft decks,
Double loungers placed next to pool get constantly wet from water plashes
Loungers on upper decks remained unusable and tried together
Loungers were dirty and partly broken
Balconies added in recent “upgrading improvements” are in part not covered and lack privacy
In the meantime complaints from outraged passengers on board the Millennium have escalated. Thus, without going into further details, as I am resenting the time already spent on the unpleasant task re-living the journey, I refer to the reviews of others and the complete failing of Celebrity’s Cruise Ship Millennium’s operational functions in Seward and Ketchikan, AK were they prematurely disembarked all passengers.
Celebrity cancelled its remaining Alaska sailing season 2013 for the defunct Millennium, planning to maneuver her into dry dock for taking care of the desperately needed maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, these obviously needed repairs had not been done prior to subjecting boarded and sailing passengers, including those booked for August/September, to despair, inconvenience and costly repercussions in addition to their now ruined holidays.
Well done, Celebrity - you are “truly special and do it very differently”, reverberating the statement of STEVEN DE WINTER, the on Board International Customer Relations Executive.