Millennium Reviews

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83 User Reviews of Millennium Cruise Ship

Transatlantic Crossing
Publication Date: November 26, 2003

Summary. The Millennium transatlantic crossing from Barcelona, Spain to Fort Lauderdale, Florida was a largely satisfying vacation. While there are some issues we have with the food (too salty), we did have a good time (a bad day at sea beats a good day in the office). The Millennium itself is a well maintained 3 year old Panamax cruiser with some nice amenities. Gripe list is at the end if you stay awake that long.

Background. We (Bob and Mary) are a mid-50s DINK couple (Double Income, No Kids, I know it is so 80s, but it is true) living in Brooklyn, New York. We have done about 19 cruises, ten on Holland America and the rest spread over Princess, NCL, Bahamas Cruises (now defunct) and more recently Celebrity. Most of our cruises have been to the Caribbean with Canada-New England, Alaska, Panama Canal and transatlantic crossings mixed in. After our prior transatlantic crossings (the Millennium westbound in November 2000 and the Norway eastbound in September 2001), we found that we rather liked the many sea days and the new ports that a crossing can provide.

Cruise Arrangements. We had booked this

cruise about a year in advance taking Celebrity's air package and making our own hotel arrangements. We used our regular agent who has been able to offer us competitive pricing (by our standards). by paying a $75/pp deviation fee, we obtained non-stop flights from JFK to Barcelona and Fort Lauderdale to LaGuardia.

Pre-Cruise. We flew into Barcelona two days early to get over jet lag and to see some of the sights. We reserved a studio apartment at the Hotel Citadines Ramblas which is on La Rambla (equivalent to Greenwich Village in ambiance). Since check in was at 3 PM, we walked around the La Rambla and Placa de Catalunya for a bit. We found a Citibank branch on Passig de Gracia, a major thoroughfare similar to 5th Avenue just north of Placa de Catalunya. The exchange rate at the time was about $1.17 to the euro and Citibank charged about $1.19 to the euro, much better than what one would get in the US. After a bit of walking, we bought a two day pass on the city tour bus for 19 euros. We got to see a good bit of the city and rest at the same time. Weatherwise, Barcelona was cooler and windier than NYC.

The Hotel Citadines is an apartment hotel where studio or one bedroom apartments can be rented on a daily or weekly basis. The room we had was spacious and comfortable with a large bathroom and a corridor kitchenette. Unlike a full service hotel, they do not offer daily cleaning and make up service which was no problem for us since we tend to be neat. An interesting or annoying feature of the studio we had was that the electric service is activated by inserting the room keycard into a slot by the entrance. This makes it easy to find the room keycard when you leave and also ensures that the power is off. The fridge and clock radio are on continuously powered circuit. While the hotel offered a breakfast buffet, it was rather expensive at 12 euros each. We found a number of places nearby that offered either coffee and a croissant or a full American breakfast for 2 to 5 euros. There are a number of places for dinner just south of the hotel at the Placa Real.

Boarding and Stateroom. We took a cab to the port area where the Millennium was docked about 11:30 AM Sunday. After we dropped off our bags, check-in took less than 10 minutes since we were Captains Club members. We boarded the ship immediately thereafter and had lunch in the Ocean Cafe. We were able to go to the cabin after 1 PM. by 3 PM, we had our bags, unpacked and were all set up. Nice! Our cabin was a 1-B Premium Veranda cabin which is 191 ft2 with a 41 ft2 veranda. With the full phasing in of Concierge Class cabins (former 1-A cabins), our cabin would now be classified as a 1-A cabin. The cabin had only a shower, not a bathtub, was still quite comfortable though not nearly as spacious as a Holland America Line (HAL) veranda cabin. The veranda was about 4 ½ feet deep and 9 feet wide. With two closets, an enclosed dresser with safe and lots of shelf space we had plenty of storage room.

Itinerary and Shore Excursions. The Millennium sailed from Barcelona on Sunday 26 October stopping at Gibraltar, UK; Funchal, Portugal then sailing five days across the Atlantic to St. Martin, St. Thomas and ending at Fort Lauderdale on Sunday 9 November. There were a total of nine days at sea for a 14 day crossing. While we have visited St, Martin and St. Thomas multiple times, Gibraltar and Funchal were new to us. At Gibraltar, we took the upper mountain walking tour which took us by cable car to the top of Gibraltar. From there one can see across the straits to Morocco on a clear day. We had rain that morning so Morocco was indistinct though visible. The tour included St. Michael's cavern which is a natural amphitheatre and the siege tunnels built by the British in the 1800's to hold off the Spanish forces. The Barbary Apes (tailless monkeys actually) were out blithely ignoring the tourists (when not swiping jewelry or hats). Gibraltar is about 3 square miles and depends on tourism and duty free shoppers from Spain and other places for its living.

Funchal, Portugal sits about 500 miles out in the north Atlantic off the coast of Africa. It is a rather rocky island with mountain peaks as high as 5,000 feet. Funchal is a modern European city with a nice plaza area near the main cathedral where we had lunch. Prior to lunch we took the Levanda walking tour which follows the irrigation channels used to water their fields. The walk was less than three miles over mostly even though slightly muddy ground. Unfortunately the tour guide stayed at the front end of the group so those in back never heard her narration. We did not try the basket sledge ride which some other pax enjoyed. The pier at Funchal also has some shopping, a post office and an internet café.

The other stops at St. Martin and St. Thomas were about what one would expect for these islands. We walked around a bit and had lunch near Bobby's Marina in St. Martin. The port area has been expanded and upgraded to handle up to four Panamax ships (Panamax is the largest ship size that can pass through the canal). On St. Thomas, we did a little shopping and took the Kon Tiki motorized raft trip to a quiet island beach.

Ship Services. The Millennium is a modern ship with a wide variety of services and activities available for pax. We used only a fraction of the services available, but those we used were by and large were well presented.

The fitness center had a good variety of hydraulic resistance equipment and some free weights. While it got crowded about 10 AM, the waits were very short. The fitness center also had treadmills and stationary bikes as well as an aerobics area. The top deck had a walking track that is about five laps to the mile. There is also a large enclosed spa area available to all pax. This included a food service area serving light spa-type cuisine, two Jacuzzis and the Thallasotherapy pool which is a large aerated seawater pool similar to a Jacuzzi but at a lower temperature. A very delightful area indeed! The Thallasotheray pool has two reclining seating areas with Jacuzzi type air jets. We opted for the Persian Garden which has 2 steam baths, a low temperature sauna and a private lounge. It cost $110/pp for the two week cruise which may be steep but we found it worthwhile.

Food. The Metropolitan Restaurant is the main dining venue for the ship. Dinners were served at 6 and 8:30 PM, breakfast and lunch were open seating. Meals there were well prepared and presented but are leisurely in pacing (just right for a sea day). We did find that some of the dinner entrees were over sauced and salty. Plainer entrees were available on request. The dinners offered a variety of appetizers, two soups and salads, five entrees plus several desserts. The entrees included two red meats (beef and lamb or pork), chicken, fish and a pasta/vegetation entrée. The Ocean Café is the self service meal area behind the pool area. There are four buffet serving lines with three special purpose areas at the back end of the café. At breakfast, the special purpose areas provide either cooked to order omelets or eggs or a continental breakfast. At lunch the special purpose areas provide cooked to order pasta or sandwiches or on one day, Indian entrees which were excellent. A pity the Indian entrees were not offered more often. We alternated between the Metropolitan and the Ocean Café depending on our mood. In the late afternoon, pizza and pastas are available as well as sushi complete with wasabi mustard, pickled ginger, soy and even themed table settings. The fish was fresh and we used it for snacks to tide us over till late seating dinner. The pizzas were only OK, but then, there are no high temperature gas-fired ovens on-board to make the pizza crisp. Burgers (overdone) and hot dogs were available near the pool.

The specialty restaurant ($25/pp service charge) is the Olympic which features original wood paneling from the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic. Food and service here was extremely good (again, very rich), however, watch out for the wine list. We spent $75 on five glasses of excellent wine and champagne including service charge, more on that next.

Lounges were plentiful and varied. We preferred the Platinum Club which is stacked above the Rendezvous Lounge and connected to it by a circular opening above the Rendezvous' dance floor. This allowed us to hear the music at a reasonable volume. Michael's Club unfortunately is no longer a cigar bar, cigarettes are OK. If you want to smoke a cigar, you have to go outside and brave the winds of the North Atlantic. Michael's has been converted to a piano bar similar to the ones on Holland America; however, HAL seems to have carried it off better. Cova Caffe is the ship's coffee bar where one can get cappuccino, espresso, excellent pastries and also cocktails. Pastries were available during the late morning and drinks including coffees were reasonably priced. Keep in mind that liquor purchased in the shops cannot be taken back to the cabin; however, you can bring liquor on board. I brought a bottle on board at St. Martin, ran it through the baggage x-ray and took back to the cabin with no hassles. by the way, liquor prices were lower on St. Martin than St. Thomas; of course, you can only bring in one liter from non-St. Thomas places. A 15% service charge is added for drinks service. We still tipped our regular bartender.

We particularly liked Words, the dead tree edition library, and Notes, the MP3 music library. Both were elegantly decorated and comfortably furnished with an eclectic selection of books and music. Well worthwhile investigating.

Gripes. What is a cruise without a few gripes! First off, let the record show that we enjoyed ourselves and we would go on Celebrity again, so our complaints are not major in nature. We used room service only once when we were in St. Thomas and had a 12:30 excursion. The kitchen was being inspected by the Coast Guard and I had to push them for service. To their credit, they did deliver though one order was wrong which they quickly made good on. As noted above, the food was salty at times. Bar chow were the usual breadsticks and peanuts, OK if you are not used to HAL's hot bar snacks. We made do with sushi and some others brought pizza from the Ocean Café. A movie schedule has not provided for the entire cruise so you did not know until that day what the movies were. This is also true to the movies on the television. HAL provides a schedule at the cinema area for the entire cruise and also a daily TV schedule.

The service staff was in general good, but there were a few snags that must be expected in any large scale operation. We tend to be early risers and we try to stay clear of the room for an hour or two to give the room steward a chance to neaten up. Still, we found ourselves running into him while he or his assistant was working on our room even three hours later. This seemed to be more upsetting to him than to us.

One thing I did find annoying is that the security personnel will not hand inspect cameras and film. Despite asking them several times to hand inspect, they sent the cameras and film through the x-ray machine. I was later told by the front desk staff that this is standard procedure. If this is standard procedure despite pax request to the contrary, I suggest you do not take more film than necessary off the ship for port calls and do not use higher than 400 ASA film speed. I am thinking about a digital camera anyway.

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Western Mediterranean
Publication Date: September 8, 2003

The Millennium is a gorgeous ship, superior food, great service, and nice cabins. Everyone was very attentive and genuinely interested in providing the best of service.

Check-in at Barcelona was very easy and straight-forward. Even though there was a Captain's Club check-in line, everyone in that line was fed right into the regular counters like everyone else. In all fairness though, check-in was still fast and efficient.

This itinerary, starting in Barcelona, Spain and ending in Venice, Italy was wonderful but very busy. If one is interested in a relaxed cruise with most of the time spent on board, this isn't the itinerary for you! After a "sea day" upon leaving Barcelona, the next four days were so jam-packed with places to see that everyone was beat. The fifth day was a "sea day" and hardly anyone on board was up and going before 10am. The itinerary included visits to Villefranche, France (Nice and Monte Carlo) Livorno, Italy (Pisa and Florence) Civitaveccia, Italy (Rome), Naples, Italy (Capri and Mt. Vesuvius) Santorini, Greece, Athens, Greece, Dubrovnik, Croatia and Venice, Italy. The cities were beautiful and interesting. The shore excursions arranged by Celebrity were way overpriced

and not that good. With just a little adventure involved, all of the ports can be seen much better by doing them on your own. Use the shore excursions booklet provided by Celebrity to decide what you want to see and then talk to the "Shopping Desk" people to find the best way to see it on your own. You'll save hundreds of dollars and have a lot more fun!

Plan on arriving in Barcelona about three days before the cruise to see this extraordinary city. Or, if Barcelona is your disembarkation port, plan to stay for a few days after the cruise. You won't be disappointed! The people are friendly and helpful and the food is very good. Drink some wine and eat some "tapas" for a great time. Prices are generally about the same as in any major U.S. city for meals and hotels.

Venice is a great city for exploring..but start be getting a good map of the city. We found the people to be "ungrateful" for the tourists but at the same time loving the money that the tourists bring. Everything from food, trinkets, and accommodations was much more expensive than you would find in any U.S "tourist" town. An almost "cash only" city, only the more expensive places take credit cards. On the other hand, you'll find a cash machine on almost every corner. We would still recommend spending two or three days enjoying the city. A water taxi from any hotel in about the center of town to the airport will cost about 90 to 100 euros and another 5 euros per suitcase for the porter at the airport.

We are experienced cruisers and enjoyed the Millennium and very much. The dining room staff and the Martini bar servers learned our names after the first day. Even though the ship was fully booked, it never felt crowded and there were never lines to get into the dining room as we've encountered on other ships.

We rate the Millennium at an overall a nine on a scale of ten for this cruise. Even though they "nickel and dime" you to death for a cappuccino and other small items, and they've raised the price of a martini a dollar and made it a little smaller than it was a year ago, it's still a great value and we had a wonderful time!

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: May 11, 2003

Our cruise vacation started with 2 nights in Barcelona. We also enjoyed meeting our Cruise Critic friends for drinks and dinner (Jeff, Robin, Phil and Edith) on Saturday night.

11 May 2003 Sunday: We stayed at a small one-star hotel in the heart of the Gothic quarter. It was located very near the port but too far to walk with our luggage. After breakfast and packing we took a taxi to our ship. I became very excited seeing the beautiful Millennium. The taxi driver was impressed with its size as I explained with my little bit of Spanish that there were other ships much larger than the Millennium.

A cruise employee tagged our luggage and had them taken away. Checking in seemed easy until we had to fill out some forms that had been left out of the packet I received in the mail. While waiting in line, we quickly filled out the forms. At the counter, we received our plastic on-board credit cards. We went through security, had our first souvenir cruise photo taken, and boarded the ship. Another photo was taken at the security point, which would identify us each

time we boarded the ship. It actually took only 15 minutes from arrival to the port to walking on board the ship. We were greeted by several crewmembers all dressed in their black suits, including two who each held a tray of champagne-filled glasses. It was a joy starting a cruise with a glass of bubbly.

 

We were escorted to our room, #2131, and were left to finish our champagne and check out the room. Our cabin was lovely with a large round window; mirrors on one wall; light wood paneling, a queen bed, and a small couch which folds out for a third guest; small desk with a pitcher of water, glasses, and an ice-filled bucket; chair, and a small but decent bathroom with plenty room for our cosmetics. The closet was quite large with an in-room safe, plenty of hangers, and 5 or 6 drawers. There was also a mini bar, which was pricey, but we used it to store fruit and cream since I brought a few mini bottles of kahlua and vodka for my White Russians. There was a t.v., which showed the various ships tours and entertainment on board. Our room was located on the 2nd level, center and low on the ship. It was a good location for us. One luxury on board was the twice-daily changing of the bathroom linens. Every time we returned to our room, the bathroom had been tidied up, as well as our bucket of ice refilled.

The ship is beautifully decorated with lovely exotic flowers and plants. With the many other reviews I won't go into discussing each place on the ship.

A buffet lunch was being served on the 10th deck, so we rode in one of the exterior glass elevators to the top, which provided dramatic views as we sailed. Looking at the spread of food, I knew immediately I would have to take the stairs as often as possible and work out at the gym. There were 4 serving areas so the wait in line was very short. Several waiters stood ready to take our trays and escort us to a table. During breakfast, waiters would come along with extra pastries and rolls. We ran into Jeff and Robin at lunch. He had changed rooms and needed to make dining reservations. Deciding that we'd all dine together, we headed to the lounge where we could make new table arrangements. It took a while, but we were assigned to table 561. We asked for a table for 6 and hoped that the 3rd couple would be good tablemates.

Back in the room, our luggage had been delivered. We quickly unpacked since most of our "cruise" clothes had been in the luggage for a few days. Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon checking the various places on the ship and writing in our journals. At 7pm we went to the Rendezvous Lounge for a martini-tasting event. We tried 5 different martini's, small portions, for about $6. They were very tasty, varying from the traditional to lemon, to Chambord flavor. Surprisingly, only 6-8 people were there to enjoy this event. I found the prices of drinks to be the same in a bar or restaurant back at home.

We had the late dining schedule: 8:45pm. I wish it had been a little earlier, but we managed every evening. Our Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews Celebrity Cruises Millennium by by Monica J. Pileggi Eastern Mediterranean May 11, 2003

Our cruise vacation started with 2 nights in Barcelona. We also enjoyed meeting our Cruise Critic friends for drinks and dinner (Jeff, Robin, Phil and Edith) on Saturday night.

11 May 2003 Sunday: We stayed at a small one-star hotel in the heart of the Gothic quarter. It was located very near the port but too far to walk with our luggage. After breakfast and packing we took a taxi to our ship. I became very excited seeing the beautiful Millennium. The taxi driver was impressed with its size as I explained with my little bit of Spanish that there were other ships much larger than the Millennium.

A cruise employee tagged our luggage and had them taken away. Checking in seemed easy until we had to fill out some forms that had been left out of the packet I received in the mail. While waiting in line, we quickly filled out the forms. At the counter, we received our plastic on-board credit cards. We went through security, had our first souvenir cruise photo taken, and boarded the ship. Another photo was taken at the security point, which would identify us each time we boarded the ship. It actually took only 15 minutes from arrival to the port to walking on board the ship. We were greeted by several crewmembers all dressed in their black suits, including two who each held a tray of champagne-filled glasses. It was a joy starting a cruise with a glass of bubbly.

We were escorted to our room, #2131, and were left to finish our champagne and check out the room. Our cabin was lovely with a large round window; mirrors on one wall; light wood paneling, a queen bed, and a small couch which folds out for a third guest; small desk with a pitcher of water, glasses, and an ice-filled bucket; chair, and a small but decent bathroom with plenty room for our cosmetics. The closet was quite large with an in-room safe, plenty of hangers, and 5 or 6 drawers. There was also a mini bar, which was pricey, but we used it to store fruit and cream since I brought a few mini bottles of kahlua and vodka for my White Russians. There was a t.v., which showed the various ships tours and entertainment on board. Our room was located on the 2nd level, center and low on the ship. It was a good location for us. One luxury on board was the twice-daily changing of the bathroom linens. Every time we returned to our room, the bathroom had been tidied up, as well as our bucket of ice refilled.

The ship is beautifully decorated with lovely exotic flowers and plants. With the many other reviews I won't go into discussing each place on the ship.

A buffet lunch was being served on the 10th deck, so we rode in one of the exterior glass elevators to the top, which provided dramatic views as we sailed. Looking at the spread of food, I knew immediately I would have to take the stairs as often as possible and work out at the gym. There were 4 serving areas so the wait in line was very short. Several waiters stood ready to take our trays and escort us to a table. During breakfast, waiters would come along with extra pastries and rolls. We ran into Jeff and Robin at lunch. He had changed rooms and needed to make dining reservations. Deciding that we'd all dine together, we headed to the lounge where we could make new table arrangements. It took a while, but we were assigned to table 561. We asked for a table for 6 and hoped that the 3rd couple would be good tablemates.

Back in the room, our luggage had been delivered. We quickly unpacked since most of our "cruise" clothes had been in the luggage for a few days. Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon checking the various places on the ship and writing in our journals. At 7pm we went to the Rendezvous Lounge for a martini-tasting event. We tried 5 different martini's, small portions, for about $6. They were very tasty, varying from the traditional to lemon, to Chambord flavor. Surprisingly, only 6-8 people were there to enjoy this event. I found the prices of drinks to be the same in a bar or restaurant back at home.

We had the late dining schedule: 8:45pm. I wish it had been a little earlier, but we managed every evening. Our waiter was Frankie (from India) and our assistant waiter was Niel (from the Philippines). Both provided excellent service throughout the cruise. They also went out of their way to make an evening extra special or fun. Our table was next to a large window on the second level of the Metropolitan restaurant. The third couple at the table was Anne and Lauren. Jeff entertained us throughout the trip, so much that after the second night, Anne and Lauren dined elsewhere. We don't know if Jeff was the reason they left or if they just changed their dinner plans.

We never went to an evening show. It was just too late for us, especially since we had early arrival times at the ports (7am) and finished dinner around 10:3pm. Most evenings we'd have a drink at the Rendezvous lounge or to a place where Mom could have her smoke. Other times I left her to her smoking while I walk around the ship and stairs to work off some of the calories I ate.

Each evening ended with our bed turned down with a chocolate on our pillows, along with the daily Celebrity Today newspaper, and Mom's nightshirt turned into a design on the bed. I kept mine out of sight. I didn't want Steve "playing" with my nightshirt!

12 May 2003 Monday: We had a very relaxing day at sea, sleeping in a little, sitting on the deck enjoying the sun and enjoying the food on board. Our Cruise Critic party was at 11am where we met our fellow passengers. It was great putting faces to names I knew from my email correspondence. Soft drinks and cookies were served. I chatted with Mark and Darlene about sharing a taxi to the train station in Rome and touring together.

Following a delicious Thai lunch in the dining room, we attended a wine tasting lecture. I received an invitation in our room from the Captain's Club. I wasn't even a member! We were served about eight different wines and champagne. Thank goodness we didn't pay for this. The samples were very small and the host was quite boring. He seemed pleased with himself every time he told a joke.

I must write about the food on board the ship. The dining options were amazing: Breakfast can be had in the main dining room, the ocean café, the AquaSpa (healthy choice), and the ocean grill (located aft). Lunch choices were hot dogs, burgers, or pizza and pasta at the Riviera grill, a full menu at the Metropolitan, a buffet at the Ocean café (such as Mexican, Italian, Chinese); soups, sandwiches and salads at the Ocean grill; healthy choice in the AquaSpa. There was ice cream throughout the day, sushi 6-10pm, pizza and pasta 6pm to 1am, pastries in the Cova Café di Milano room, and gourmet bites served in all lounges in the late evening. Coffee and tea was available 24 hours a day. There is also room service. Every dinner menu was great with three to four choices of appetizers, soups, salads, and entrées. Dessert choices were brought on a tray to select. One option for dinner is the Alternate Dining, where you make reservations and pay a small fee. Jeff and Robin ate there one evening and felt it was not worth it. The last option for dinner is the beautiful, luxurious Olympic Restaurant with a $25 fee and reservations must be made in advance.

The afternoon was relaxing: Sitting in the sun and listening to the music on deck. Mom found her smoking area on the port side in the shade and that became her usual spot. Waiters came around taking drink orders, while another one passed out chilled cold washcloths to cool off.

Before dinner, we sampled a few varieties of sushi at the sushi bar, all well made and very fresh. We also went to the Captain's welcome cocktail party. We were served wine, champagne and other drinks. It was a relaxing evening with good food and service.

13 May 2003 Tuesday: I woke up early and quickly opened the drapes to beautiful Villefranche. I couldn't wait to see the town as well as Monaco. We had a full breakfast at the Ocean café. It was the same food as the other morning buffets. There is a large assortment of fresh fruits, eggs, sausages, pancakes, hash browns, potatoes, smoked salmon or smoked herring, rolls, biscuits, bagels, yogurt, etc. We invited Julie and James to join us, a cruise critic couple. After they left, Phil and Edith joined us and we all decided to spend the day together.

We were tendered to port and as we went along, I took several photos of Villefranche. It's an absolutely beautiful port town with colorful old buildings and villas along with sailboats and beautiful yachts in the harbor. A young man approached Phil and confirmed what we heard the night before: there was a transportation strike in France. He said we could take his bus to Eze to see his perfume factory, and then a local bus to Monaco. It was a lovely trip to Eze as the young woman on board explained some of the sights. She even pointed out the area where Elton John and Tina Turner have homes. The tour of the perfume factory was interesting.

We had drinks at a café while waiting to see when the next bus would arrive. The woman at the tourist office didn't know when the next bus would arrive, if it arrived at all. I wanted to tour Eze, but was afraid we'd miss the only bus to Monaco. After a while, we decided to take a taxi. For the four of us, it was 35 Euros, which wasn't too bad compared to others that took a taxi to either Monaco or Nice and were charged 60 Euros to 80 Euros for two people! The ride was spectacular as we headed to Monaco: mountains on one side and beautiful ocean scenes on the other.

Monaco was fascinating! Money was oozing everywhere in cars, yachts, villas, clothing. I was amazed at the size of some of the yachts. Flowers were everywhere in gardens, along sidewalks, and cascading over balconies. Our group was dropped off near the Monaco Palace, but unfortunately, it was closed. We just missed seeing the changing of the guards. We walked around the area and found a very good restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, we visited the Jardin Exotique where we saw many varieties of cactus.

Taking a local bus back to the center of town, we transferred to one back to Villefranche. Although the ship didn't leave port till 11pm, we decided not to visit Nice. I found a small store where Edith and I picked up wine for our rooms. We headed to the port and found an outdoor café, Les Palmiers, and had a round of drinks. Jeff and Robin arrived and joined us. We had a fun time there.

14 May 2003 Wednesday: Jeff had organized a tour for Tuscany for eight of us (Jeff and Robin, Shaun and Toni, Mark and Chris, and Mom and me) to San Gimignano, Florence, and Pisa. Carla picked us up at 8am and we hopped in her van. It was about an hours drive to San Gimignano. She would let us off so that we had time on our own. It was nice because we didn't feel "stuck" to a tour guide, but she did provide information as we drove along on our day trip. We walked around the town and window-shopped. A few of us climbed Torre Grossa for some spectacular countryside views. I felt uncomfortable climbing the "open" stairs, but the views were worth it.

Our next stop was Florence. It was about 1.5 hours drive, but we all enjoyed the countryside views. We saw farm homes, vineyards, and small towns dotting the hills. Our first stop was at a church (forgot the name but it's above the Piazza Michelangelo) then drove to the Piazza Michelangelo for great Florence city views, including the famous Ponte Veccio Bridge.

In town, Carla dropped Mom and me off near the Ponte Veccio so I could do some damage to my wallet at the jewelry stores on the bridge. After, we walked to the center of town, stopping along the way at the outdoor markets and shopping. Lunch was a simple panini sandwich with mozzarella and eggplant, and a glass of red wine. We walked to the Duomo, visited inside, and then surrounding area.

We met the rest of the group and drove to Pisa. It was a beautiful sight, but the many trashy kiosks along the side of the road really made for a disappointing visit. I couldn't believe all the junk they sold, from mini leaning tower of Pisa's to leaning coffee mugs. I think most were disappointed in Pisa.

Anne and Lauren apparently decided to dine elsewhere for dinner, so Shaun and Toni joined us for the rest of the cruise. We had a fun evening and dinner was delicious. I had their pasta with shrimp and vegetables.

15 May 2003 Thursday: An early morning wake up call, we had a light breakfast in our room (cold eggs). We met up with Mark and Darlene and shared a taxi to the train station, and then took the local train to Rome. The ride was about 1 hour, 15 minutes long. We bought tickets and took the metro to the Spanish Steps, while Mark and Darlene continued on to the Vatican. We decided to meet back at the train station in the late afternoon. At the Spanish steps, I met an older Italian man. With my limited Italian, we had an enjoyable conversation. I was thrilled to be able to converse with him even though we couldn't understand everything.

Near the Trevi fountain, we stopped for coffee and tea at an outdoor café. We enjoyed the morning watching people come and go. The Trevi fountain was crowded with tourists. It was a sunny day and all the steps were filled with people. For lunch we had excellent pizzas at Gio Mia. My pizza included ham, artichokes, olives, and cheese. Mom's consisted of sausage, capers, mushrooms and cheese. House wine rounded our delicious lunch. There was a table displaying a wide variety of antipasti, which would have been a meal in itself. Nearby was the Barbarini metro, so we continued our tour to the Colosseum. We also walked to the Forum, but didn't go in.

Back at the station, we met up with Mark and Darlene, took the train back to the port in Livorno, and headed back to the ship in a taxi. We could have walked it, but it might have been too far for Mom. On deck we had drinks while the ship left port.

16 May 2003 Friday: Naples was our fourth port in four days. Jeff organized a tour to the Amalfi coast. I was looking forward to seeing the Amalfi coast again and shop for some ceramics. The group met at 8am: Jeff, Robin, Tony, Marie, Shaun, Toni, Mom and me. Our tour guide, Adriano, was very entertaining and funny! The first of several stops was Sorrento. We all split up and walked around the town. Mom and I bought a few ceramic bottle stoppers. They were very inexpensive. Sorrento is famous for its inlaid wood designs. I purchased a jewelry box for my friend June for her birthday. They are beautiful pieces of work.

Our tour continued onto Positano. Along the way we stopped at two lookout points along the Amalfi coast. We had a group photo taken with the town in the background. The town seems to just hang on the side of the mountain. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Ristorante La Cambusa on the beach. It was a steep, windy walk down to the water. Mom and I shared a plate of marinated octopus; then I had their pasta with white clam sauce, which was the best I've ever had.

Mom and I both picked up a few ceramics in Amalfi, another lovely town on the coast. by now, the towns were starting to look alike: they all had beautiful ceramics on display, small shops selling lemoncello and other local products, and great views.

The final stop was in Ravello. Adriano pointed out Roger Moore's Sofia Loren's homes along the way. It was a steep drive up the mountains, which had spectacular views of the coast. I was a little disappointed in this town as there wasn't much to see, but I loved all the ceramic shops. I think my favorite town was Positano. We drove back to port and got back to the ship in time. It was a great day and all wished we had more time in each of the towns.

Dinner was quiet as Jeff and Robin made reservations in the elegant Olympic restaurant. Franky and Niel took good care of us. I was even served two entrees: pasta with scallops and shrimp scamp and fillet mignon. I ate the entire seafood dish and a few bites of the steak, which was perfectly done.

17 May 2003 Saturday: Day at sea. Our day was relaxing with a late breakfast, a lecture (Joyce Adamidis - the Captain's wife), another lecture (Dick Morris - political consultant and ex Clinton aide - who was a very good speaker and quite funny), and time in the sun.

I received another invitation in the room from the Captain's Club to attend the Captain's private cocktail party. I also received a packet of information with a letter stating "Welcome to the Captain's Club. We had a nice time with Mark and Chris enjoying wine or champagne. This was our second formal evening. Shaun and Toni joined us for dinner. Lauren and Anne still hadn't dined with us after the first two nights. I could barely finish my meal. For dessert, which I didn't ask for any, I received a plate with the word "Nothing" written in chocolate.

18 May 2003 Sunday: Santorini. This is one of my favorite islands in Greece and I was looking forward to returning there. We had a long day, as the ship didn't leave the port until 11pm. After a leisurely breakfast, the group headed to the island on tenders. There are three ways to get to the top of Fira: cable car, walking, or donkey. Toni, Mom and I headed via the cable car while Shaun, Jeff and Robin went the animal route. They got to the top a lot faster than we did since most people opted for the 3 Euro cable car ride.

There are two museums in town, which we visited. Various Greek artifacts were on display. We had drinks at a café near the local bus stop while waiting for the bus to Ia. The bus filled quickly and the ride took about 20 minutes. I loved Ia!! It's a lot quieter than Fira and less crowded. It was quaint with its white washed buildings and blue church domes. We had lunch at Thomas Grill, recommended by the liquor storeowner (where I purchased a bottle of Ouzo) next to the bus stop. The food was excellent and inexpensive. The owner treated us to a shot of Ouzo.

We walked around Ia, which was very small. Views were spectacular with white washed buildings and blue church domes. Fira could be seen in the distance. Back in Fira, we split up. Mom and I window shopped, had drinks and fabulous fried calamari at Zafora's while watching the sunset, and then headed back to the port. A quick cable car ride to the port, we headed back to the ship in time for dinner. Again, it was just the two of us. It was an excellent dinner of escargots, cream of mushroom soup, salad, and osso bucco with risotto.

The ship left at 11pm and Mom and I had drinks while we watched the lights of Santorini disappear. There was a lovely fruit buffet at the pool deck. The people in line for the food were like scavengers. It was a crazy scene. It was as if they hadn't had a bite to eat all day!

19 May 2003 Monday: This was my third (and last) visit to Athens. I've seen enough! Our usual group walked all the way from the port to the metro, about 45 minutes. There were ample taxis but only for 4 passengers. We all split up once we got to Athens. Mom and I went to the outdoor meat market. The market is a great place to take photographs. The FDA would shut this place down in a heartbeat. Meats hung on hooks, including pigs heads, whole lamb, and other delicacies. It smelled of meat and those with a weak stomach should skip this sight.

We walked to Syntagma Square, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Placa, and flea market (mostly junk). Lunch consisted of delicious donar kebabs. We window-shopped and I purchased a beautiful gold Greek pendent. Back in Piraeus, we walked back to the ship. Since we hugged the waterside, it took only 35 minutes.

Again for dinner, Shaun and Toni joined us. Where were Anne and Lauren? It was another fun evening and the meal was very good.

20 May 2003 Tuesday: A day at sea. Mom slept in while I had breakfast with Phil and Edith. Jeff joined us with his coffee. I planned to listen to the disembarkation lecture along with the Dubrovnik lecture. That was one port we were really looking forward to visiting. We passed two islands while at sea.

We went to the lectures, but walked out of the Dubrovnik lecture since it was about shopping. We listened to Dick Morris in the afternoon, though his lecture wasn't as entertaining as the first one. Since it was our last day at sea, I laid in the sun for an hour. It was a great afternoon of relaxing. The pool deck was crowded with sunbathers.

Just before 7pm and heading to the top deck to see Corfu, there was a knock on the door. Steve, our room steward and a waitress brought in a tray with a bottle of champagne and a basket of fruit. The card simply stated, "From Guest Relations." I suppose that was their apology for yesterday's harassment (see full journal on my web site mentioned at the beginning). I opened the bottle and we had a glass while on deck.

21 May 2003 Wednesday: Dubrovnik was a beautiful port. Our ship docked in the area of the new town close to a modern bridge that reminded me of a sail. Complimentary shuttle busses took passengers to the main entrance of the old town. The town is enclosed with very thick walls, which we walked 2/3rds until Mom got tired. From the top of the walls, we had clear views of the town with its red tile roofs and ocean. The town was impressively clean with granite streets and had been re-built very quickly after the war damaged most of the city in the early 1990's. There was a war memorial, which we visited. Inside, many photos of men who died in the war defending their town were on display. Many were quite young.

We had an excellent lunch at a restaurant called Narona on Ulica Kuniceva, probably one of our best meals while touring. A typical meal starts with an aperitif. We were served a plate of goat cheese and fresh baked bread, followed by large seafood plates consisting of grilled squid, shrimp, a small whole fish (bass?), mussels, potatoes and spinach. We had their house red wine, which we liked. The total bill came to 244 Kunas, $38.

When we got back on board, we met a few friends on the 10th deck, aft. There's a nice bar there with tables and umbrellas. We enjoyed afternoon drinks while watching the ship leave the port of Dubrovnik.

Jeff decided to have some fun and came up with a plan to challenge the robe "rule." He thought we should wear our robes to dinner on the most formal evening, the Captains gala. To make a long, funny story short, after the Captain's cocktail/farewell party, met everyone in Jeff's room, donned our robes and marched into the dining room. In unison, we took our robes off and sat down, all dressed to the nines. Many laughed, enjoying the spectacle, while Anne and Lauren (who sat at the table next to ours since Toni and Shaun were with us) looked in disbelief. We heard the next day about the "robe people" and "how funny!" we were and "I wish we sat at their table".

We had a delicious dinner, which ended with the usual Baked Alaska parade. I was stuffed from dinner, but had a small bite of the dessert. It was very good. The grand buffet was at midnight. Mom and I went but didn't have a bite to eat since dinner had ended around 10:30pm. Everything was beautifully displayed along with several ice sculptures.

22 May 2003 Thursday: Venice! Arrival time in Venice was at noon. Up on deck at 11:00am, the ship quietly and slowly entered the lagoon of Venice, with everyone on deck shooting away with his or her camera. What a fabulous sight!

Our group took the courtesy vaporetto to the Piazza San Marco. The Piazza was crowded with people and pigeons. Everyone except I went to the top of the Campanile. I had been up there twice before. We walked around the area and ended up at the Rialto Bridge. We had lunch, which wasn't too bad, but not the greatest. I purchased a small gondola pendent for my charm bracelet and a couple of Murano glass candies to add to my collection. We headed south to the Academia Bridge and then split up. I wanted more time on the ship since we would have 5 nights in Venice and our cruise was about to end. We ran into Niel, who had about 3 hours of free time, at the vaporetto. We returned to the ship at 5:30pm for the last evening on board.

Back in the room, we finished packing our bags, then headed to the sushi bar for a few yummy bites. Dinner was just the two of us, while the rest enjoyed dinner in Venice. We gave Franky and Niel our envelopes with the tips, hugged them both and said our goodbyes. We certainly enjoyed their services and company.

We had martinis on deck before heading back to the room for our final packing. Everyone's luggage needed to be out in the hallways by 11pm to be picked up, tagged, and delivered the next morning to the terminal. The gang dropped by to say their goodbye. We certainly had a great time with them.

23 May 2003 Friday: It was a sad morning as our cruise ended after 12 wonderful nights on board with 9 terrific ports that we visited. We spent 5 nights in Venice, my favorite city in Italy. This was an excellent trip combining a cruise with several days on our own. We met a lot of nice people on the cruise, which made the trip more memorable. I can't wait to cruise again! I would definitely choose Celebrity again. They are a first class company.

Monica J. Pileggi

For photographs and my complete journal of this trip, visit: http://www.luvtotravel.homestead.com/home.html

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Transatlantic
Publication Date: April 27, 2003

14 day Transatlantic / Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona

We are Jim and Sue, in our lower 50's, married a couple years ago - all kids grown and gone. Our cruising choices tend toward the ships that offer a more elegant experience rather than a casual style. We especially appreciate the atmosphere on formal nights where Celebrity is doing a good job of "gently enforcing" the dress code. We spend a great deal of time relaxing in our cabin rather than joining shipboard activities, so for us a suite makes a lot of sense. Since we love sea days and we had not visited any of the port cities in Europe, the crossing seemed like a perfect voyage. It was.

On our first cruise with Celebrity, a 14-night cruise on Mercury a few years ago, we became acquainted with Captain Adamidis and his wife Joyce. Joyce and I keep in contact by email and it's always wonderful to see them again; they make the cruise very special. We also sailed with them last September on Millennium. When we first sailed Millennium we weren't sure we would like it due to the size. We

loved it! She is still the most beautiful ship we've sailed. My favorite public room is the Platinum Champagne & Martini bar; I love the lavenders and grays and the crystal light fixtures.

Since this trip involved transatlantic air, we booked it through Celebrity because the fares were better than I could find. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to sailing and Celebrity put us in the Hilton, which was a nice but nothing special hotel. We chose not to use the Celebrity transfers and used a taxi to the hotel and the next day to the pier.

Sunday morning we ordered room service breakfast and dressed for boarding. We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:00 and after turning our luggage over to the longshoremen went into the terminal to wait for the doors to open. The door for Captain's Club and suites was opened at 11:15 and since we had all our paperwork in order, we were headed onboard within 10 minutes. A waiter with glasses of champagne greeted us at the gangway entrance into the 3rd level Atrium. This is a really class touch that Celebrity has added during rebranding. Since it was a bit early for our suite to be ready, we took our champagne to the Cova where we could sit quietly and watch the activity on the level below. After a short while, I couldn't wait any longer and we headed for our Royal Suite (6141).

Even though we have had a Royal Suite before it still excited me to enter it. The walls are wood paneled and the carpet and soft furniture are off-white. The dining area has a table for four and an inlayed parquet wood floor and is surrounded by mirrors and cabinets. There is a desk near the sliding doors that comes with a computer - Internet access for this whole trip was $100. The bedroom has the same colors with the entire wall that makes up the headboard of the king-sized bed done in padded leather [mock-leather?] In a small alcove near the sliding balcony doors is a dressing table. I love having a dressing table all to myself and out of view of the rest of the cabin. The area in which it is located could stand better lighting, but being prepared I had a lighted makeup mirror so the dim light at night didn't bother me. There are plasma-screen TVs in both the living room and the bedroom and a CD player in the living room. We always take a folder of our favorite CDs with us, but we like the Jazz channel available on the Celebrity system so well that we rarely play our own CDs.

The suite is 538 sq. ft. with an additional 195 sq. ft. of balcony; room for two padded teak lounge chairs, a table with four chairs and a small Jacuzzi tub. Perhaps the only drawback is that there is only a partial cover over the Royal Suite balconies - the rest is open and since these suites are located in the aft area of the ship that sticks out from the area above, all of the cabins above can look clearly down on you.

The bathroom is done in marble and has two sinks on a long vanity, plenty of storage space, a marble shower and a great Jacuzzi tub with another shower. On our last trip I used the (bathroom) Jacuzzi almost every day, I love the jets that massage up and down your back so I was quite disappointed when the tub didn't function well and the back jets didn't move. We reported it and after several days of repairs, they succeeded in getting it to work [sort of work].

Our Butler was Elias and the Cabin Attendant and assistant were Kinga and Alex. They were very professional and we enjoyed their service immensely. We had several cocktail parties prior to dinner and Elias made sure the champagne was chilled and that our appetizers were delivered right on time.

Now, back to the trip. After checking out the room and going out onto the balcony we rearranged the living room furniture, I like to have the couch and loveseat opposite each other rather than in an L-shape. Now with it feeling like home, we began looking at the Daily Program and other information and goodies provided. We found that we had been given the wrong dinner seating; that provided us the impetus to head out of the suite. We changed the seating to early dinner and then went to the spa to make an appointment for a couple's massage. When we returned our luggage had been delivered and we began putting everything away. Jim's tux and several other things were sent for pressing. Then we checked to make sure everything was ready for our small sail-away party. The lifeboat drill was at 3:15 and went smoothly, although lasting a bit longer than usual because it was done in several languages. We rushed back to the cabin.

Our guests, most of whom we had only met online through the Cruise Critic message board, began arriving. Soon, Joyce, her son Haris and the Hotel Manager's wife Antonella joined us and with the three blasts of the whistle we were sailing. Several bottles of champagne later, it was time to end the party and go down to dinner (casual attire). We were seated with another very nice couple at a table for eight and had an enjoyable dinner. We remembered to tell them that we don't often go to the dining room for dinner and not to wait for us if we aren't there by 6:00. This was fortunate because we only ended up eating in the dining room three times. With the time change and traveling we were too tired to do anything after dinner and after a nightcap on the balcony went to bed.

Day 2 was a sea day. This gave us ample opportunity to roam the ship and relax in preparation for dinner at the Captain's table. We had breakfast in the suite and later met Joyce for a cappuccino in Cova. The weather was fairly cool and windy but the area around the pool was full. We chose to spend most of the time reading and watching the sea go by. Time went by very quickly and soon it was time to join the other Captain's table guests in the reserved area of the Platinum. It was a great mix of guests, some other friends of the Captain, another man from Denver, Roswita Arnet (from Celebrity HQ) and most notably John Maxton-Graham and his wife Mary. I didn't realize who he was when he joined the group, but noticed the tall man in the kilt. John is the noted author and lecturer on ocean liners; we not only enjoyed all his onboard lectures but also had the good fortune to have several conversations with him. After a glass of champagne and introductions we were lead through the dining room to the Captain's table. This for me is the biggest honor one can receive; I remember on many early cruises seeing the people seated there and assuming that they were very rich, famous or some other type of VIP. Some are. and some are "just regular people" like us. Following dinner the Captain was to give the "Welcome Onboard" speech in the theater, but as we were again, very tired we declined going. The show that night was the Broadway hits and everyone said it was the best they had ever seen.

Day 3 we were at sea until 3:00 when we docked at Kings Wharf, Bermuda. After breakfast in the room we attended the first of John Maxtone Graham's lectures and then the Cruise Critic/ Connections party in Michaels Club. About 40 people attended and Leigh, the social hostess, hosted it. After about an hour and a half of socializing we all went to the grand stairway for a group picture. We browsed through the shops onboard a little and then returned to the cabin.

The weather cleared just as we were docking and, as we love to do, we watched from the chairs on our balcony. It was so pleasant out there; sunny but not too hot that we decided to skip this port. We took some pictures of the fortress on the hill near the dock and did a lot of people watching through the binoculars. When the sushi bar opened at 6:00 at the Ocean grill (10 aft) we went up so I could give it a try - excellent. There were eight or ten different types and they were all good. Jim opted for pizza that he said was good.

Days 4-8 were at sea. Our routine is pretty much the same each day, breakfast and dinner in the suite and a lot of relaxing so I'll just hit the highlights. We attended John Maxtone Graham's lecture each morning; in fact, we looked forward to them so much we scheduled everything around them. Each day following the lecture we would stop in Cova and have a cappuccino. by this time we had gotten to know several of the Officers and staff so we were often joined by Leigh Vincent-Lambert, the Social Hostess, Hotel Manager George Livertatos and his wife Antonella, or the Captain and Joyce.

We had two early evening cocktail parties with people from the Message Boards and enjoyed meeting everyone. Elias chilled our champagne, delivered our hors d'oeuvres and always checked in during the party to make sure everything was ok.

One night we had dinner in the Olympic with another couple and Joyce. The Olympic is well worth the surcharge (or gratuity as Celebrity prefers to call it). We spent some time looking at the pictures and items from the original ship that are on display in the entry. We ate in the larger white dining room; it's very spacious and elegant but I would request a table in the outer room that is paneled with wood from the original ship. At first reading the menu seems a little skimpy as you can only choose soup or salad but the food is so rich and filling that we absolutely waddled out. I should note here that the attire for the evening was casual but for the Olympic it is always informal to formal so we dressed up.

Kylie, the onboard cruise consultant, booked our next cruise for us, the New Years Mexican Riviera on Mercury. This is one of Celebrity's new Escape cruises (adults only). We will be onboard with some friends from our prior Millennium trip.

Another evening we had our Couples Massage in the suite. With just a little moving of the furniture there was plenty of room for the two massage tables. We turned the lights low and had nice music playing. When it was over - and the hour went by much too quickly - we had a nightcap and crawled into bed. This is really a life I could get used to!

One of these sea nights was a formal night and we rejoined our tablemates in the dining room. Another couple had been moved to the table and they were all surprised to see us. We had a great dinner and conversation. After dinner we went into the casino and visited with some new friends that were playing blackjack. This casino is great; the décor rivals those in Las Vegas. There are Grecian (or maybe Roman) statues on the pillars and many mirrors. If it weren't for the noise of the machines (which I hate in any casino) I'd probably spend more time in it.

The weather during the crossing was cool and we found the balcony of our suite to be too windy to spend much time on, but there were a few die-hards sunning by the pool even on the coolest days. The T-pool in the spa, on the other hand, was very busy as it is in an enclosed area and was warmer than the outdoor one. I like the subtle décor of the T-pool area and although the pool itself isn't quite as nice as those on the C-class ships, there are two hot tubs that are very hot and very popular. I guess I should explain why I say the pool isn't as nice - The pool itself is very nice and well kept but it is much larger, cooler and the jets and spouts don't seem to have a good amount of pressure. It's really more of a luxury indoor pool than a therapy pool.

Day 9 we docked in Funchal (Maderia), Portugal at noon. We took the Cable Car and Sledge excursion. It was well done with first a narrated bus tour of the city, a stop at a winery for a tasting, and then we were dropped off at the base of the mountain to ride the cable car to the top. After the ride up we walked to the line waiting for the traditional Sledge ride down the winding streets nearly to the bottom of the mountain. These sledges (also called toboggans) are wicker baskets with wicker seats with cushions attached to wooden sled-type runners. Two men control the sled by steering it with ropes on each side over the roadway, which I should note is shared with cars. It was a thrilling, but not frightening ride. The Island of Maderia is semi-tropical and was full of flowers during our visit. It is a beautiful place that I hope I can visit again in the future.

We returned to the ship around 6:00 and asked Elias for a dinner menu - he said there was no problem requesting ensuite dinner this late because so many passengers were still off the ship.

Day 10 we were again at sea following our usual routine and had another cocktail gathering that evening.

Day 11 we docked in Lisbon, Portugal at 7:00 a.m. We barely woke up in time to see the ship dock and had to report for our shore excursion at 7:45. We took the Jeep safari to Sintra. It was fantastic, only 16 people had signed up for this trip and we were divided between three large jeeps with drivers. We traveled through the countryside, through a National Park, and atop the cliffs at the ocean's edge with several stops for photos. At one small town we stopped at a family winery for a tasting (and a comfort stop) that also included several local cheeses and sausages with wonderful bread. Sintra is a picturesque town we would have liked much more than an hour to around before we started the return trip. The jeeps dropped us back at the ship. We were hot, tired, hungry and dusty so we decided to freshen up and get some lunch before we went into Lisbon.

Here comes our comedy of errors: 1. We didn't eat first. 2. We had a healthy "toddy" with the Portuguese brandy we had just bought and stretched out in the living room to relax. When we woke up a couple hours later (me with a large headache), all ambition to leave the ship was gone so I can't report on Lisbon.

Day 12 we docked in Gibraltar at 11:00. Since the ship was moving very slowly we were able to sit with our coffee on the balcony and watch the approach. The Rock is certainly something to see; it was particularly impressive because the morning was somewhat foggy and suddenly it just seemed to appear out of the fog. We had the "Rock of Gibraltar" tour booked here, but if I go back I won't book a tour because everything is nearby. We were taken in 8 person vans on a short tour of the area and then went up the Rock. We toured Michael's Cave, which has interesting stalagmites and stalactites and we stopped to see the Apes. These are the only wild monkeys in Europe. They are wild, but used to humans and will grab anything that they can get. I was warned not to have any jewelry or loose clothing, so I removed my earrings (luckily). We were busy taking pictures of them when I spotted a baby sitting on a rock at the side of the road - I though it would be interesting if Jim could get a picture with both me and the ape to give a sense of their size. The little one immediately jumped on my arm and as he tried to take the picture, the little guy tried to bite me - he didn't break the skin, but did make a bruise (it made a great story back on the ship). And. Jim didn't get the picture. As I attempted to coax the little guy back, a bigger one jumped on my back - Jim got that picture! So that part of the trip ends well. After the tour we stopped at a Pub and had fish and chips and then returned to the ship.

Day 13 we docked at Malaga, Spain at 7:00 a.m. Here we had booked the tour to the Caves of Nerja. It involved a long bus ride with a mediocre guide who spent most of his time teaching us how to pronounce Nerja and gave us little information about the area. The cave was really spectacular but had many stairs to climb and some of the people had difficulty.

After returning to the ship, we said goodbye to some new friends that were disembarking to spend a few weeks there, got a bite to eat and then headed back out for a horse & carriage ride through the city. That ride was great. Our driver didn't speak much English and our Spanish is pretty poor so we had a great time trying to communicate - most of it laughing.

Day 14 was a sea day and the realization that the trip was almost over set in. After breakfast we went to the photo gallery to check for any last photos and didn't find any we wanted and then delivered a few invitations to our last cocktail party. As we wandered through the ship we ran into many of our new friends and said our goodbyes. At 1:00 we met Captain Adamidis & Joyce and George & Antonella in Cova and then went to the buffet for lunch with them. We had a wonderful time - then it was back to the cabin for the dreaded repacking. It actually went very quickly and then we settled back with our books until time for the cocktail party. Everyone came including Captain & Joyce, John & Mary Maxtone-Graham and a few special friends we'd made during the voyage. We ate hors d'oeuvres and finished off the champagne and then said our goodbyes. We watched the clock and then went to the dining room as early dinner would be nearly over to give our envelopes to the staff and say our goodbyes to the tablemates we'd hardly gotten to know.

Day 15 Barcelona. We had been notified that our original 1:00 flight had been canceled and that we had been rescheduled on an early flight. We were to meet in the Atrium at 7:45 and would have a special bus to take us to the airport. When I saw the number of people in the Atrium I began to wonder how we were all going to fit on a rebooked flight. When we arrived at the airport they were offering "bumps" because it was overbooked by about 40 people. The offer was so good that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend the day in Barcelona so we took it. We were put in Hotel Fira, a four star hotel and all meals paid along with a nice amount of Delta Dollars. We walked up to the museum a couple blocks away, then had a huge lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon we had a four-hour bus tour of the city that stopped at several locations. I fell in love with the architecture of Gaudi and want to go back to Barcelona to really visit the city.

We flew home the next day and after 26 hours of flying and airports were glad to be home. Now it's back to real life.

I want to give special thanks to Captain and Joyce Adamidis, Hotel Manager George and Antonella Livertatos, and Social Hostess Leigh Vincent-Lambert. These people really made this trip special. Additionally I want to compliment Richard Fain and all of Celebrity management for the new "rebranding". I appreciate all they are doing to keep Celebrity at the top of its market category.

One sad note; Joyce informed us that several days into the next sailing, Dominique, the head Sommelier who had served us several times at the Captain's table, passed away due to a heart attack. We offer his friends and family our sympathy. We, and no doubt many others will remember him fondly.

Millennium 4/27/03 - 14 day Transatlantic / Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona

We are Jim and Sue, in our lower 50's, married a couple years ago - all kids grown and gone. Our cruising choices tend toward the ships that offer a more elegant experience rather than a casual style. We especially appreciate the atmosphere on formal nights where Celebrity is doing a good job of "gently enforcing" the dress code. We spend a great deal of time relaxing in our cabin rather than joining shipboard activities, so for us a suite makes a lot of sense. Since we love sea days and we had not visited any of the port cities in Europe, the crossing seemed like a perfect voyage. It was.

On our first cruise with Celebrity, a 14-night cruise on Mercury a few years ago, we became acquainted with Captain Adamidis and his wife Joyce. Joyce and I keep in contact by email and it's always wonderful to see them again; they make the cruise very special. We also sailed with them last September on Millennium. When we first sailed Millennium we weren't sure we would like it due to the size. We loved it! She is still the most beautiful ship we've sailed. My favorite public room is the Platinum Champagne & Martini bar; I love the lavenders and grays and the crystal light fixtures.

Since this trip involved transatlantic air, we booked it through Celebrity because the fares were better than I could find. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to sailing and Celebrity put us in the Hilton, which was a nice but nothing special hotel. We chose not to use the Celebrity transfers and used a taxi to the hotel and the next day to the pier.

Sunday morning we ordered room service breakfast and dressed for boarding. We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:00 and after turning our luggage over to the longshoremen went into the terminal to wait for the doors to open. The door for Captain's Club and suites was opened at 11:15 and since we had all our paperwork in order, we were headed onboard within 10 minutes. A waiter with glasses of champagne greeted us at the gangway entrance into the 3rd level Atrium. This is a really class touch that Celebrity has added during rebranding. Since it was a bit early for our suite to be ready, we took our champagne to the Cova where we could sit quietly and watch the activity on the level below. After a short while, I couldn't wait any longer and we headed for our Royal Suite (6141).

Even though we have had a Royal Suite before it still excited me to enter it. The walls are wood paneled and the carpet and soft furniture are off-white. The dining area has a table for four and an inlayed parquet wood floor and is surrounded by mirrors and cabinets. There is a desk near the sliding doors that comes with a computer - Internet access for this whole trip was $100. The bedroom has the same colors with the entire wall that makes up the headboard of the king-sized bed done in padded leather [mock-leather?] In a small alcove near the sliding balcony doors is a dressing table. I love having a dressing table all to myself and out of view of the rest of the cabin. The area in which it is located could stand better lighting, but being prepared I had a lighted makeup mirror so the dim light at night didn't bother me. There are plasma-screen TVs in both the living room and the bedroom and a CD player in the living room. We always take a folder of our favorite CDs with us, but we like the Jazz channel available on the Celebrity system so well that we rarely play our own CDs.

The suite is 538 sq. ft. with an additional 195 sq. ft. of balcony; room for two padded teak lounge chairs, a table with four chairs and a small Jacuzzi tub. Perhaps the only drawback is that there is only a partial cover over the Royal Suite balconies - the rest is open and since these suites are located in the aft area of the ship that sticks out from the area above, all of the cabins above can look clearly down on you.

The bathroom is done in marble and has two sinks on a long vanity, plenty of storage space, a marble shower and a great Jacuzzi tub with another shower. On our last trip I used the (bathroom) Jacuzzi almost every day, I love the jets that massage up and down your back so I was quite disappointed when the tub didn't function well and the back jets didn't move. We reported it and after several days of repairs, they succeeded in getting it to work [sort of work].

Our Butler was Elias and the Cabin Attendant and assistant were Kinga and Alex. They were very professional and we enjoyed their service immensely. We had several cocktail parties prior to dinner and Elias made sure the champagne was chilled and that our appetizers were delivered right on time.

Now, back to the trip. After checking out the room and going out onto the balcony we rearranged the living room furniture, I like to have the couch and loveseat opposite each other rather than in an L-shape. Now with it feeling like home, we began looking at the Daily Program and other information and goodies provided. We found that we had been given the wrong dinner seating; that provided us the impetus to head out of the suite. We changed the seating to early dinner and then went to the spa to make an appointment for a couple's massage. When we returned our luggage had been delivered and we began putting everything away. Jim's tux and several other things were sent for pressing. Then we checked to make sure everything was ready for our small sail-away party. The lifeboat drill was at 3:15 and went smoothly, although lasting a bit longer than usual because it was done in several languages. We rushed back to the cabin.

Our guests, most of whom we had only met online through the Cruise Critic message board, began arriving. Soon, Joyce, her son Haris and the Hotel Manager's wife Antonella joined us and with the three blasts of the whistle we were sailing. Several bottles of champagne later, it was time to end the party and go down to dinner (casual attire). We were seated with another very nice couple at a table for eight and had an enjoyable dinner. We remembered to tell them that we don't often go to the dining room for dinner and not to wait for us if we aren't there by 6:00. This was fortunate because we only ended up eating in the dining room three times. With the time change and traveling we were too tired to do anything after dinner and after a nightcap on the balcony went to bed.

Day 2 was a sea day. This gave us ample opportunity to roam the ship and relax in preparation for dinner at the Captain's table. We had breakfast in the suite and later met Joyce for a cappuccino in Cova. The weather was fairly cool and windy but the area around the pool was full. We chose to spend most of the time reading and watching the sea go by. Time went by very quickly and soon it was time to join the other Captain's table guests in the reserved area of the Platinum. It was a great mix of guests, some other friends of the Captain, another man from Denver, Roswita Arnet (from Celebrity HQ) and most notably John Maxton-Graham and his wife Mary. I didn't realize who he was when he joined the group, but noticed the tall man in the kilt. John is the noted author and lecturer on ocean liners; we not only enjoyed all his onboard lectures but also had the good fortune to have several conversations with him. After a glass of champagne and introductions we were lead through the dining room to the Captain's table. This for me is the biggest honor one can receive; I remember on many early cruises seeing the people seated there and assuming that they were very rich, famous or some other type of VIP. Some are. and some are "just regular people" like us. Following dinner the Captain was to give the "Welcome Onboard" speech in the theater, but as we were again, very tired we declined going. The show that night was the Broadway hits and everyone said it was the best they had ever seen.

Day 3 we were at sea until 3:00 when we docked at Kings Wharf, Bermuda. After breakfast in the room we attended the first of John Maxtone Graham's lectures and then the Cruise Critic/ Connections party in Michaels Club. About 40 people attended and Leigh, the social hostess, hosted it. After about an hour and a half of socializing we all went to the grand stairway for a group picture. We browsed through the shops onboard a little and then returned to the cabin.

The weather cleared just as we were docking and, as we love to do, we watched from the chairs on our balcony. It was so pleasant out there; sunny but not too hot that we decided to skip this port. We took some pictures of the fortress on the hill near the dock and did a lot of people watching through the binoculars. When the sushi bar opened at 6:00 at the Ocean grill (10 aft) we went up so I could give it a try - excellent. There were eight or ten different types and they were all good. Jim opted for pizza that he said was good.

Days 4-8 were at sea. Our routine is pretty much the same each day, breakfast and dinner in the suite and a lot of relaxing so I'll just hit the highlights. We attended John Maxtone Graham's lecture each morning; in fact, we looked forward to them so much we scheduled everything around them. Each day following the lecture we would stop in Cova and have a cappuccino. by this time we had gotten to know several of the Officers and staff so we were often joined by Leigh Vincent-Lambert, the Social Hostess, Hotel Manager George Livertatos and his wife Antonella, or the Captain and Joyce.

We had two early evening cocktail parties with people from the Message Boards and enjoyed meeting everyone. Elias chilled our champagne, delivered our hors d'oeuvres and always checked in during the party to make sure everything was ok.

One night we had dinner in the Olympic with another couple and Joyce. The Olympic is well worth the surcharge (or gratuity as Celebrity prefers to call it). We spent some time looking at the pictures and items from the original ship that are on display in the entry. We ate in the larger white dining room; it's very spacious and elegant but I would request a table in the outer room that is paneled with wood from the original ship. At first reading the menu seems a little skimpy as you can only choose soup or salad but the food is so rich and filling that we absolutely waddled out. I should note here that the attire for the evening was casual but for the Olympic it is always informal to formal so we dressed up.

Kylie, the onboard cruise consultant, booked our next cruise for us, the New Years Mexican Riviera on Mercury. This is one of Celebrity's new Escape cruises (adults only). We will be onboard with some friends from our prior Millennium trip.

Another evening we had our Couples Massage in the suite. With just a little moving of the furniture there was plenty of room for the two massage tables. We turned the lights low and had nice music playing. When it was over - and the hour went by much too quickly - we had a nightcap and crawled into bed. This is really a life I could get used to!

One of these sea nights was a formal night and we rejoined our tablemates in the dining room. Another couple had been moved to the table and they were all surprised to see us. We had a great dinner and conversation. After dinner we went into the casino and visited with some new friends that were playing blackjack. This casino is great; the décor rivals those in Las Vegas. There are Grecian (or maybe Roman) statues on the pillars and many mirrors. If it weren't for the noise of the machines (which I hate in any casino) I'd probably spend more time in it.

The weather during the crossing was cool and we found the balcony of our suite to be too windy to spend much time on, but there were a few die-hards sunning by the pool even on the coolest days. The T-pool in the spa, on the other hand, was very busy as it is in an enclosed area and was warmer than the outdoor one. I like the subtle décor of the T-pool area and although the pool itself isn't quite as nice as those on the C-class ships, there are two hot tubs that are very hot and very popular. I guess I should explain why I say the pool isn't as nice - The pool itself is very nice and well kept but it is much larger, cooler and the jets and spouts don't seem to have a good amount of pressure. It's really more of a luxury indoor pool than a therapy pool.

Day 9 we docked in Funchal (Maderia), Portugal at noon. We took the Cable Car and Sledge excursion. It was well done with first a narrated bus tour of the city, a stop at a winery for a tasting, and then we were dropped off at the base of the mountain to ride the cable car to the top. After the ride up we walked to the line waiting for the traditional Sledge ride down the winding streets nearly to the bottom of the mountain. These sledges (also called toboggans) are wicker baskets with wicker seats with cushions attached to wooden sled-type runners. Two men control the sled by steering it with ropes on each side over the roadway, which I should note is shared with cars. It was a thrilling, but not frightening ride. The Island of Maderia is semi-tropical and was full of flowers during our visit. It is a beautiful place that I hope I can visit again in the future.

We returned to the ship around 6:00 and asked Elias for a dinner menu - he said there was no problem requesting ensuite dinner this late because so many passengers were still off the ship.

Day 10 we were again at sea following our usual routine and had another cocktail gathering that evening.

Day 11 we docked in Lisbon, Portugal at 7:00 a.m. We barely woke up in time to see the ship dock and had to report for our shore excursion at 7:45. We took the Jeep safari to Sintra. It was fantastic, only 16 people had signed up for this trip and we were divided between three large jeeps with drivers. We traveled through the countryside, through a National Park, and atop the cliffs at the ocean's edge with several stops for photos. At one small town we stopped at a family winery for a tasting (and a comfort stop) that also included several local cheeses and sausages with wonderful bread. Sintra is a picturesque town we would have liked much more than an hour to around before we started the return trip. The jeeps dropped us back at the ship. We were hot, tired, hungry and dusty so we decided to freshen up and get some lunch before we went into Lisbon.

Here comes our comedy of errors: 1. We didn't eat first. 2. We had a healthy "toddy" with the Portuguese brandy we had just bought and stretched out in the living room to relax. When we woke up a couple hours later (me with a large headache), all ambition to leave the ship was gone so I can't report on Lisbon.

Day 12 we docked in Gibraltar at 11:00. Since the ship was moving very slowly we were able to sit with our coffee on the balcony and watch the approach. The Rock is certainly something to see; it was particularly impressive because the morning was somewhat foggy and suddenly it just seemed to appear out of the fog. We had the "Rock of Gibraltar" tour booked here, but if I go back I won't book a tour because everything is nearby. We were taken in 8 person vans on a short tour of the area and then went up the Rock. We toured Michael's Cave, which has interesting stalagmites and stalactites and we stopped to see the Apes. These are the only wild monkeys in Europe. They are wild, but used to humans and will grab anything that they can get. I was warned not to have any jewelry or loose clothing, so I removed my earrings (luckily). We were busy taking pictures of them when I spotted a baby sitting on a rock at the side of the road - I though it would be interesting if Jim could get a picture with both me and the ape to give a sense of their size. The little one immediately jumped on my arm and as he tried to take the picture, the little guy tried to bite me - he didn't break the skin, but did make a bruise (it made a great story back on the ship). And. Jim didn't get the picture. As I attempted to coax the little guy back, a bigger one jumped on my back - Jim got that picture! So that part of the trip ends well. After the tour we stopped at a Pub and had fish and chips and then returned to the ship.

Day 13 we docked at Malaga, Spain at 7:00 a.m. Here we had booked the tour to the Caves of Nerja. It involved a long bus ride with a mediocre guide who spent most of his time teaching us how to pronounce Nerja and gave us little information about the area. The cave was really spectacular but had many stairs to climb and some of the people had difficulty.

After returning to the ship, we said goodbye to some new friends that were disembarking to spend a few weeks there, got a bite to eat and then headed back out for a horse & carriage ride through the city. That ride was great. Our driver didn't speak much English and our Spanish is pretty poor so we had a great time trying to communicate - most of it laughing.

Day 14 was a sea day and the realization that the trip was almost over set in. After breakfast we went to the photo gallery to check for any last photos and didn't find any we wanted and then delivered a few invitations to our last cocktail party. As we wandered through the ship we ran into many of our new friends and said our goodbyes. At 1:00 we met Captain Adamidis & Joyce and George & Antonella in Cova and then went to the buffet for lunch with them. We had a wonderful time - then it was back to the cabin for the dreaded repacking. It actually went very quickly and then we settled back with our books until time for the cocktail party. Everyone came including Captain & Joyce, John & Mary Maxtone-Graham and a few special friends we'd made during the voyage. We ate hors d'oeuvres and finished off the champagne and then said our goodbyes. We watched the clock and then went to the dining room as early dinner would be nearly over to give our envelopes to the staff and say our goodbyes to the tablemates we'd hardly gotten to know.

Day 15 Barcelona. We had been notified that our original 1:00 flight had been canceled and that we had been rescheduled on an early flight. We were to meet in the Atrium at 7:45 and would have a special bus to take us to the airport. When I saw the number of people in the Atrium I began to wonder how we were all going to fit on a rebooked flight. When we arrived at the airport they were offering "bumps" because it was overbooked by about 40 people. The offer was so good that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend the day in Barcelona so we took it. We were put in Hotel Fira, a four star hotel and all meals paid along with a nice amount of Delta Dollars. We walked up to the museum a couple blocks away, then had a huge lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon we had a four-hour bus tour of the city that stopped at several locations. I fell in love with the architecture of Gaudi and want to go back to Barcelona to really visit the city.

We flew home the next day and after 26 hours of flying and airports were glad to be home. Now it's back to real life.

I want to give special thanks to Captain and Joyce Adamidis, Hotel Manager George and Antonella Livertatos, and Social Hostess Leigh Vincent-Lambert. These people really made this trip special. Additionally I want to compliment Richard Fain and all of Celebrity management for the new "rebranding". I appreciate all they are doing to keep Celebrity at the top of its market category.

One sad note; Joyce informed us that several days into the next sailing, Dominique, the head Sommelier who had served us several times at the Captain's table, passed away due to a heart attack. We offer his friends and family our sympathy. We, and no doubt many others will remember him fondly.

 

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: April 20, 2003

1. We did a pre-stay at the Amerisuites 17th Street the day before cruise. It was satisfactory. On the morning of the cruise, we took a taxi to the ship vice using the Amerisuites shuttle. We would recommend taxi (8 dollars) because the shuttle is very busy and time consuming.

2. We arrived at the ship at 1045 and normally would have been processed and aboard by 1115 BUT Customs found drugs in bags of departing cruisers. At least thats what we were told. This delayed embarkation until approximately 1230. Even with the delay, embarkation was really smooth.

3. The ship is beautiful. Flowers everywhere, very friendly staff and well appointed interior. We found the ship to be just right. Not over or under done as far as colors and decorations. We had a cat 2 balcony cabin with sliding glass doors. It was simply gorgeous! Light paneling and the use of mirrors made the cabin appear larger. We had 2 sitting chairs on the balcony...Deb asked our room steward (Ewa) to exchange one of the chairs with a lounge chair and it was done immediately.

4. Food in the Metropolitan Dining Room

was outstanding. Our waiter (Jaime) and asst waiter (Bernadette) were wonderful. The last formal night, our table of 6 was joined by a ships officer (Christine) for dinner. It was very enjoyable, especially the 2 bottles of wine she ordered for the table :).

5. We dined in the Olympic dining room 1 night. It is very beautiful. We ate in the paneled room (panel from the Olympic...sister ship to the Titanic). We found the service to be outstanding. Sadly, we can't say the same for the quality of the food. We had Scampi wrapped in bacon and found it very bland. We enjoyed trying it but will not go on our future planned Millie cruises.

6. Lots to do on the ship. Lots of shops, Cova cafe, Casino etc... Overall we found the Poker Slots tighter on the Millie than the Century, Galaxy and Mercury. That said we still did pretty good. Deb invested 10 dollars in a machine on our last night at 2300 and an hour later cashed in 250 dollars .

7. While aboard we booked 2 future cruises on the Millie. Why? Because she has everything we like in a ship.

8. Highly recommend the Millie! The only downside to the cruise was an abundance of children aboard (560) but that was because of Easter break.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: April 20, 2003

This very well may be my best cruise ever. The combination of a beautiful ship, friendly staff, wonderful food, and the terrific friends I made on board blended together to make a delightful holiday. Due to health reasons I was forced to cancel a cruise on the Zuiderdam last February. I was ready for re-booking for late April and after doing some price hunting, I found a terrific deal on the Millennium for the Easter Sunday, sailing. I even lucked out with an airfare for under $150. r/t from NYC/LaGuardia to Ft. Lauderdale. Celebrity isn't always generous to singles but this time they came through. I booked an inside category 9 and landed up with an outside category 8. Thanks to my Captain's Club membership and the use of the Celebrity website I was able to make a lot of pre-cruise arrangements, including passenger registration, shore excursion reservations and reservations for the Olympic Restaurant. I also signed on to the Cruise Critic party and met a lot of my fellow passengers thru the Cruise Critic bulletin board months before I sailed.

I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale the evening before the cruise and stayed

overnight at a friend's. We went over to Pt. Everglades about 11:00 a.m. and arrived somewhere around 11:30 a.m. Upon arrival I noticed a lot of passengers who, as it turns out, had just gotten off the ship. This is a bit late for disembarkation and I was told there was a hold up by immigrations due to the number of agents assigned to the ship. Luggage drop-off was very slow, which surprised me. Lucky for me, I was at the head of what turned out to be a very long line. I proceeded to the terminal building and showed my Captain's Club Founding Member's i.d. which entitled me to priority boarding. I was asked to fill out a SARS questionnaire along with a form indicating how I planned to travel after the cruise (in order to determine disembarkation order). I was allowed to proceed to a waiting room and after about 20 minutes, Captain's Club members were allowed to enter the check-in hall.

This went very smoothly and I believe I was the first passenger aboard the ship. Celebrity encourages its passengers to pre-register at their website. Happily, the agent said everything was in order and I received my room key/on-board charge card in no time. I was quickly aboard the ship, offered a glass of champagne or orange juice and proceeded to my cabin. You are asked if you arrive early to go to a public lounge and not directly to your cabin as it is being prepared. I only wanted to drop off my carry-on bag so I proceeded to my cabin only to find it was already made up. Immediately upon arrival I could see what a beautiful ship Millennium is. The color schemes and use of light color woods makes for a bright, happy atmosphere. My outside cabin (2194) was very comfortable. Although situated on the lowest passenger deck, I still found it convenient. It was right around the bend from the aft elevators and I could be up on the pool deck in no time at all. The beds were already together. I only had to request some extra pillows which were already in the cabin, stowed in a cupboard. There were 2 chairs and an oval glass table on one side of the cabin. The other had a vanity table with a 3rd chair as well as a wall unit that housed the television and a mini-bar refrigerator. The fridge was locked and I never bothered to ask my cabin steward to unlock. Angelo was very efficient and friendly. I never needed any special requests but it was nice to see him and know that he was available.

After dropping off my carry-on bag I decided to take a little tour of the ship before lunch. I made my way to the Aquaspa which turned out to be a perfect place to relax, exercise and even dine. The hydrotherapy pool is a huge affair which is for adults only. It is large enough to do laps in and although the need for an indoor pool was not an issue, I found that the air temperature in the spa was delightful and I spent more time there than I originally anticipated. I would add that since there were 500 children on board, the adults only restriction made it more attractive. Proceeding through the Aquaspa area, I checked out the gym and boy, was my timing great. A member of the spa staff came over and invited me to be the demonstration model for the scalp and shoulder massage. I had time for a quick lunch at the Ocean Cafe buffet which was okay, nothing spectacular, except for 2 things. The chocolate Easter Bunnies they set out (it was after all Easter Sunday) and the bleu cheese dressing for the salad. I'm not usually partial to it but out of the choices this is the one that had the most appeal. And boy, was I glad I tried it. You could put this on card board and it would taste great (Michel Roux would be busting if he read this). After lunch I returned to the Spa and for 90 minutes I was treated to one terrific and relaxing massage. Since it was a demonstration I was able to add a little humor as the masseuse explained that the massage is perfect for such things as hangover. I returned to the spa one more time during the cruise, as a customer this time, for one of the port specials. If you check out the daily bulletin delivered to your cabin there will be daily spa specials. The days when the ship is in port (and most people are off the ship) usually offer the best deals. They're still not cheap, but at least you can get a spa experience for under $100.

One unique area of the Aquaspa is called the Persian Garden which offers fragrant showers, Turkish steam rooms and relaxation areas. A 7 day pass was offered for $99. or you could use it on a daily basis. It is a co-ed area. There is, however, separate saunas for men and women which do not require a fee. These areas included showers, lockers and you could even help yourself to a robe to use in the spa area. The gym was spacious and had plenty of treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, Nautilus equipment and a nice size aerobics floor. After my massage I was treated to a hair wash and then it was getting close to safety drill time. The drill was pretty painless. Everyone assembled at lounges for general instructions and then continued to the lifeboat stations for more instructions. Attendance wasn't taken so it went quickly.

After the drill I proceeded to the hosts of the sail away party that was arranged through the Cruise Critic bulletin board. I had made friends months in advance of the cruise through the b.b. and it was nice to meet everyone in person. It was funny to see everyone bringing junk food, cheese and crackers and other stuff you normally wouldn't dream of brining aboard a cruise ship! The group turned out to be very friendly and we seemed to bond very nicely. Although we weren't traveling as a chain gang we did get together several times and plans are already in motion to do a reunion cruise next year. After the sail-away I returned to my cabin to unpack (luggage arrived right before the drill so this was my first opportunity) and relax a bit before dinner.

I decided to check out the casino (Fortunes) before dinner and play little video poker. This had a lousy pay out schedule. I hit a 4 of a kind and got some measly amount like 125 quarters for a maximum bet of 5 quarters. But since I felt I couldn't do much better, I decided to leave while I was ahead, knowing very well that they would see me again. The casino area seemed rather cramped. It had the normal selection of table games, slots, video poker, etc. The size is decent but moving around seemed to be a chore, especially when trying to get by the gaming tables. This, of course, is typical casino logic. Never give anyone a clear path in or out. Sometimes I think a maze is easier to negotiate than a casino. It becomes a bit daunting because one needed to cross the casino to go from the dining room to the Celebrity Theatre, Michael's Club, and the photo gallery.

I also decided to check out Michael's Club, which used to be the cigar bar, but is now a piano lounge. It is the most beautiful lounge on the ship. It looks very much like an English club and similar to the Wheelhouse Bars on the Princess line. The piano is a great idea, but the lounge was not designed for this and the piano had to be set up away from the seats, so forget about sing-a-long. Fortunately, the pianist Rob Ragusa, is both a musician and singer and can handle the load himself. He's a very nice guy and during the course of the week I would get to see him quite a bit. He has an off-beat sense of humor which I appreciated.

So after a couple of tunes, it was time to proceed to the dining room (Metropolitan Restaurant) and meet my tablemates. All turned out to be very, very nice and by the end of the cruise we were hugging each other goodbye. I was assigned a table for 6 on the lower floor of the restaurant, not to far from the center. Our waiter Carlos and assistant waitress, Maja (pronounced Maya) turned out to be 2 very warm and friendly individuals who also were quite professional. Anything we asked for was no problem. I can't begin to tell you how many shrimp cocktails we were brought, but if for some reason there's a run on shrimp soon, you'll know why. The dining room was also THE PLACE for ice cream and sorbet. Although the Ocean Café featured an ice cream bar, you had to go to the dining room for the really good stuff. There were several flavors which changed daily. Among the outstanding flavors were the pistachio and rum raisin ice cream and the mango sorbet. For the most part, I was happy with the cuisine on Millennium. There was certainly enough of a variety and there was no problem asking for something if what you ordered didn't quite please you. I would also use the restaurant for breakfast and lunch on several occasions, and found the service and selection excellent. But the buffet breakfast was wonderful as well. Only on the days when smoked salmon were not available in buffet (and also the day I wanted Eggs Benedict) did I feel a real need to visit the dining room. On the contrary, I much preferred dining outside on the aft deck by the Ocean Bar, whenever possible. One problem with the buffet has to do with the size of the beverage tumblers (way to small) and the positioning of the beverage dispensers (none towards the rear of the buffet). Lunch at the buffet was wonderful at times, other times not so great. But there were other alternatives, such as pizza, the Aquaspa Grill menu which offered fabulous chilled salmon and borscht, to mention just 2 selections, the grill for hot dogs, burgers and pizza. Later in the day, there would be an afternoon tea set up in the buffet which offered mini-croissants that were just amazing. And at 6 pm a sushi bar would open. I'm not a raw fish fan, but the selection also included enough items for a novice to enjoy, such as California rolls and shrimp. The Ocean Bar would also feature a guitarist in the early evening who had soothing sound and was just perfect for an early evening "chill-out". He performed outdoors when the weather permitted. I did not attend the midnight buffet (there's only one which is held in the dining room) but I did sample some of the Light Bites which are hors d'oeuvres served in the casino and other lounges in lieu of a buffet. I did attend the elegant tea which was held on the last sea day in the dining room. The selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, scones (w/whipped cream and jam, thank you very much) was complimented by fine service and lovely classical music.

The major entertainment events were held in the theatre (a three-story affair with excellent sight lines). However, I just didn't think the production shows were anything to write home about, even with some laser effects thrown in. I still find that Princess and Carnival stages the best productions at sea. I was very disappointed that now classical artist was featured during this cruise, as I have always enjoyed the ones featured on other Celebrity cruise ships.

The first full day was a sea day which I enjoy. I got the gym and mile walk out of the way very early so that I could spend the rest of the day relaxing, enjoying the sea and my Discman. Due to the crowds at the pool, I decided to use the Aquaspa pool and whirlpools. Much more peaceful. In the afternoon I was invited to a wine tasting seminar (one of the perks of being a Captain's Club member) which turned out to be a lot of fun. The wines were not offered for sale, although they were available in the dining room at about double the price one would pay at a local liquor store (I know. I checked when I got home).

Ports of call were fine. We arrived at our first one on the 2nd day at 3 pm. This was Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic. Previous reviews and bulletin boards had reported that this was a waste of time, so I decided t remain on board the ship where the main pool area had cleared out to a handful of people and what was a very crowded place before we docked became a perfect place to relax and enjoy the empty pool and whirlpools. That evening was open seating in the dining room, so I had booked a reservation at the Olympic Restaurant. Fortunately 6 others of my newly made friends also had the reservations for the same time, so the 7 of others were able to get a table together and had a marvelous time. Everything said about the service and food in the Olympic Restaurant is true. The $25. fee (which includes your gratuity) is well worth the money and it would cost far more for a similar experience in a land-based restaurant. I tried the lobster veloute soup, goat cheese soufflé, rack of lamb en croute, an assortment of cheese and fruit, and the chocolate soufflé. I also sampled the Waldorf pudding which turned out to be the only disappointment.

The next port of call was San Juan. We had to report to immigrations since we were technically re-entering the United States. This was pretty harmless. You had to the report to the theatre an appointed time indicated on a bar-coded notice which you had to hand in and then show your passport or birth certificate with photo i.d. This went very quickly and the disembarkation went smoothly. I did leave the ship this time. I have been to San Juan before but never made it to the San Cristobal fortress which I understood to have tunnels and dungeons on exhibit. I asked where I could find the free trolley since it was a hot day and the fortress is uphill. I waited about 15-20 for the trolley which was packed but managed to get a seat at the next stop. I also found out that I was on the wrong trolley. I didn't care, as long as it went up hill. I wouldn't mind walking across town as long as I didn't have the climb. It turned out the walk wasn't far at all and I enjoyed my visit to the fortress which affords terrific views from its ramparts. From there I strolled to the El Morro fortress (the more famous of the 2). The lawn in front of the fortress happens to be one of my favorite spots in the Caribbean. On a sunny, breezy day you can find children and adults flying kites in the clear, blue sky. After enjoy this for about ½ hour or so I decided to return to the ship for lunch. The walk back through Old San Juan showed just how crowded it gets with the cruise ships in port and I was glad that I had spent my time in less congested areas.

The next port was St. Thomas. Having finally mastered snorkeling, I had booked a snorkel excursion in advance with the cruise ship. This was Captain Nautica's Power Raft Snorkeling. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The Power Raft was waiting for us at the dock (Havensight). We only had about a 5 minute walk to reach it. We were taken to 2 snorkeling locations. The first was situated off the east end of St. Thomas, so we were treated to a speed boat ride, enjoying the views of the coastline. We anchored near some rocks named Cow & Calf due to their resemblance to a mother whale and it's calf. We were instructed to swim out to the large rock and circle it. This was the first time I ever snorkeled in truly deep water (about 30 feet) and it was very much like watching a Jacques Cousteau program. It was interesting to see different fish swimming at different depths. No sharks were present, although we were told there might be but that they were harmless. After everyone re-boarding the boat we continued to the island of St. John and the boat anchored by Honeymoon Beach. Besides the colorful fish, the waters off the beach were a sunken garden of beautiful coral. We also lucked out because while we were in St. John there was a ½ hour storm in St. Thomas which ended before we returned. Since we were at a beach, you could use the beach for sunning or, as I did, swim in the calm waters. Upon returning to the ship I took advantage of the quiet pool area, knowing the next day would be busy as we would be at sea again. I left the ship briefly again to do some shopping, although I made no major purchases. Prices aren't that terrific and sales people didn't seem to anxious to sell. Probably because it was so late in the day and they must have been tired with 4 cruise ships in port. Incidentally, I noticed that I had sailed on all 4 vessels. I'm wondering if it's time to start cutting down.

Our second sea day was a lot of fun. There were some wonderful activities planned for the afternoon. I attended a flowering arranging presentation by Brian, the ship's florist. The florist shop is located at the Conservatory which is on the Sunrise Deck, adjacent to Cosmos (the panoramic lounge which doubles as the disco at night. Hint: This is a quiet place to relax in during the day since most time it's empty. If you need a place to escape to read a book, do some writing, listen to some big band music played over their sound system, or just chill out and watch the ocean, this is the place.). It was fun to visit to look at the arrangements and also because Brian is a terrific guy and a lot of fun. Later on I attended the Elegant Tea in the dining room which was both delicious and entertaining. The live classical music lent a nice touch to the proceedings.

Our final port was Nassau. I booked another snorkel tour. However, just as we were about to proceed to our boat, lightning shot out of the sky and the excursion was cancelled. I decided to do some shopping instead. It seemed like everyone at the port was there to heard people into taxis to go to the Atlantis. I didn't spend much time shopping. Prices were not good. A leather wallet which I purchased 2 years ago for $10. now went for $29. in the same shop! I returned to the ship and went to the dining room for some ice cream and sorbet. I had a quick buffet lunch before the appointed time for the snorkel excursion. Since that was history, I felt that the ice cream would cheer me up. Fortunately depression never seems to last long on a cruise for me. Since this was the final day of the cruise, I needed a scoop of each to help me along.

Our final dinner was both a joyous and sad affair. I did most of my packing before dinner, so I wouldn't feel rushed. I spent a lot of time after dinner in the casino and managed to come out ahead by a nose, although I was still smarting from not being able to get to my favorite slot machine game where I watched one pay out $500. and the other pay out $250. within 30 seconds of each other!

Disembarkation is not fun, no matter how smoothly it goes. After all, it's a rude awakening that your cruise is over. Fortunately, the friendly attitude of the staff continued. I had to report to U.S. Immigrations again, in a similar manner to when we arrived in San Juan. We were also given a slip of paper with an appointed time and lounge for disembarkation. We were told that we could use our cabins until the appointed time. This was very considerate because I hate when they want you out of your cabin very early and to sit around in a public lounge. Since I was being picked up by a friend in Ft. Lauderdale, I didn't need to get off the ship at the early time, so I stayed until 9:45 am which wasn't a problem Finding my luggage was easy since everyone else in my disembarkation group had already claimed theirs.

Millennium gets mostly high marks from me. I think that people really make the cruise and having met some great folks only helped to add to my enjoyment of this wonderful vacation.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 30, 2003

My husband, myself, and three kids (ages 15,13,9) took our first cruise on the Millenium and enjoyed it tremendously. The cabins were great, kids had an inside with two single beds and a drop down bunk and we had a balcony room. The food is outstanding-we enjoyed the evening meal in the Metropolitan restaurant every evening.

The entertainment was good-kids liked the shows as well as us. Service was excellent. Only downside was having to get to the pool early to get a chair but I think that is common with most cruises. Also, this is probably not the most active nighttime crowd for both teens and s. For a first cruise we had a great time and we all are looking forward to another cruise. The convenience of seeing different ports and enjoying the ship just can't be beat. We went to four ports-Campo de Casa which was not really worth visiting except for the evening Latin Extravaganza show which was very entertaining. Next was San Juan where we visited the Rain Forest which was a pleasant outing.

 

Next time I would grab a cab and find a beach or

do the city tour. We then visited St. Thomas and did the BOB outing (Breathing Observation Bubble) which was an enormous hit with all of us. It is a little pricey but so unique to be worth it. Plus the tour operators go out of their way to make sure you enjoy the experience. Last port was Nassau where we snorkeled on the SeaHorse outing. It was fun but the tour operators barely said a word to anyone on the boat which detracted from the experience a little. Make sure you take advantage of the photographers-they really do take wonderful photos and it is not that often that your whole family is dressed as they are on the formal nights.

Lastly, get your kids the beverage card-it saves you a few dollars. The ship is beautiful, the staff looks after you well, the itinerary is good-how can you go wrong? Our next cruise we are rounding up a few families and all going together which should be even more fun.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 23, 2003

I am in my late 40's. I exercise 2 hours a day. My husband and I are in good shape. My husband and I are basically retired. We take approximately 6 vacations a year, most of which are cruises. Millennium Escape Cruise Adults only sounded good. We took the 02/23/03 cruise. This was our first Celebrity cruise. Some of our friends and neighbors wanted us to keep notes for them concerning if it was really different and worth it. We paid special attention to the special events and benefits.

Special Events and Benefits only on Celebrity Escape Cruises:

. Extended hours for the pool and AquaSpa - 11 pm every night; people were run out of the aquaSpa at 9:00 pm. . Late-night comedy acts, including an adult-themed show; I have seen shows at family resorts that were more adult themed. . Fashion shows held poolside; Same as on some family cruises. . Onboard musicians and magicians throughout the day; Same as on some family cruises. . Dance instruction featuring salsa, merengue, and ballroom dancing, plus special theme nights in the disco; Same as on some family cruises. . Poolside deck parties with

our Caribbean band; Same as on some family cruises. . Private European-style sunbathing deck; The Millennium topless deck was approximately 1/3 the size of the Carnival Fancination's topless deck that was docked next to the Millennium at Nassau, Bahamas. I like to sunbath where I do not have to worry about exposing myself when I turn over or the wind blowing my top aside. Very few women used the topless deck. 5 of the 7 days I used the deck, 2 or 3 male crew members had to walk past. I felt like an exhibitionist. I use topless decks and beaches every chance I get, and have never felt this way before from the staff.

The only real difference I found was no children. Some of the cruise members did not know it was an Escape Cruise.

My credit card was charged twice for the same shore excursion. I caught their error and they corrected it before we left the ship. After I returned home, I found other chargers were later added to my credit card. It took time and repeated calls to get those taken off. I recommend everyone check their credit cards during and after Celebrity cruises.

I have called repeatedly, but still have not received my free Celebrity T-shirt.

People on cruises should not have to worry about repeated "accidental" charges by the cruise line while trying to relax on a vacation. How many times does it take before it is considered non-accidental?

In 2 days we leave for another cruise. It is sure not on the Celebrity cruise line.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 9, 2003

Still at the top. We took our eigth cruise and third with Celebrity on the Millenium. I must admit that we have become Celebrity fans. We are mid- fifties and have cruised with Princess (liked it), Norwegian (ok), Carnival (would never do again).

We were not excited about going on a Mega-ship (2000 passengers reported), having done the relatively small Horizon last year. However the design of the Millenium was such that you always had a sense that there was small quiet intimate spot that you could go to be alone and somewhere else to be in the thick of the crowds. And because the public spaces were all flowing one into the other, you actually got to see the same people several times. That allows for a feeling of community and opportunities to make new friends.

The ship is quite beautiful and I think well kept up. The food on Celebrity is still excellent, though I agree the dinners are the high point. We never ate lunch in the dining room, so I can't evaluate that, but the AquaSpa deli and the poolside grill were both good, if at the

opposite ends of the spectrum health-wise (Salads & lowfat entrees vs burgers and pizzas) The Grill not only had great fries , but also Veggie burgers for those inclined. The sherbert by the pool was a nice touch. Celebrity does not try to overwhelm you with quantities of food, but virtually everything we had was at least "good" and much was "excellent"

.

The service was also excellent. Not only did we have waitstaff in the dining room that knew how to take care of us, but throughout the ship the crew was eager to please. Notably, Carlos, a bartender at the Poolside bar, remembers the names of his customers and their drinks - even those of us who are not heavy drinkers.

The cabin was comfortable. We booked last minute a took an inside cabin because the price was great and it allows us to sleep late or nap as we wish. Those we talked with who had verandas seemed to be pleased also.

Celebrity is more sophisticated and formal(some might argue stuffy, though not I) than most other lines. There are two formal nights in the week and there were alot of tuxes both nights. It is the kind of line for people who want to enjoy elegance and graciousness without dropping the money that Crystal or Seabourn would require.

The Celebrity passenger make-up is not as diverse as on Norwegian or Princess which, as an African American, I found unfortunate. However, in the Dominican Republic a sizeable group of Dominican locals joined the cruise.

My other complaint is about Michael's Club. It is a much touted and formally much enjoyed Cigar Bar, with big plush leather chairs and wood paneled walls. Celebrity has decided a cigar bar is not a money-maker and is changing Michael's Clubs into Piano Bar (NO CIGARS!!). They started with the Millenium, but the change I gather is going to be Celebrity-wide. There were several of us that were ticked off to suddenly be relegated to aft deck areas as our "designated cigar place." It is not a big thing, but the Club was a great spot to enjoy a cognac, a game of backgammon, and a Cuban before returning to the USA! Oh well.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 5, 2003

This trip was our first cruise and a celebration for my 50th birthday. Cruising has always been a lifetime dream of mine, and I figured there was no better time to do it then NOW. We very much anticipated a wonderful week and you will see that Celebrity really does try to exceed your expectations.

Embarkation

We arrived at the pier at 11:30 am the day of the cruise after spending the night beforehand at the Sheraton Hotel at the Airport in Ft. Lauderdale. Got a fantastic price for the hotel room over Priceline. This hotel is very nice, however their restaurant is below par and very expensive, considering what you get. Take a taxi to the nearest mall/shopping area if you decide to stay here, and skip the restaurant on hotel property. The cost of car service to the pier was only $14 and our driver knew how to work around the traffic jam of cars heading to the pier and got us there in no time at all. I believe there are at least 3 ships departing on Sunday afternoon from the pier and everyone has to pass through

pier security, so traffic jams are inevitable. After checking our baggage and filling out forms, we proceeded to the gangway and entered the ship. We were surprised how easily the process went with no lines and no waiting. We were greeted with waiters carrying trays of champagne and after a toast proceeded to our stateroom, room number 9016 which was a balcony room in the forward section of the ship on the 9th deck (Sky Deck). We obtained a super duper wonderful price for this cruise through Travelocity and booked a Guaranteed Category (balcony room) and was given this great location on the ship. We spoke to other cruisers who also had balcony rooms on the 7th deck and they actually paid considerably more. by booking a Category Guarantee, the ship guarantees that you will get a balcony room or HIGHER. We were hoping to get bumped up to a suite, but no such luck. We didn't get an upgrade on the size of the room, only the deck location. It is worth investigating this option of Guaranteed Category booking as you might get lucky and get bumped up to even better quarters.

The Ship

This ship is awesome. Being practically new, everything is spotless and in very good shape. I read that someone thought that the ship is showing wear, and I really tried to find what they were referring to. I could not find anything that needed replacing, except perhaps the bedspread on our bed. The bedspread gets a lot of wear due to cruisers laying their suitcases on it, even though it is removed every night by the stateroom attendant with bed turndown. Bring good walking shoes and be prepared to walk a great deal because this ship is almost 1,000 feet long. The elevators are glass and mirrors and the whole ship is decorated in a contemporary style. Marble floors and Las Vegas style carpeting are used throughout the interior. Very often we forgot we were actually on a ship at all as this ship is so large and beautiful. There are two salt water pools with Jacuzzis and one therapy pool (heated salt water with jets) with accompanying Jacuzzi. There is a special pool for young children however I did not view it. Get to the pool area early in the day to get a good chaise lounge close to the pool, as these get grabbed up quickly. Although the staff discourages "saving" pool chairs, this is more common than not, and I have found that whatever policies exist anywhere there will be people willing to break them. These chair hogs make it difficult to find a good spot unless you get out there early. One tip is really worth mentioning - - DO NOT take the two Millennium towels from your stateroom to the pool. If you lose them and forget them at the pool or elsewhere, you will be charged $28 PER TOWEL at the end. Unfortunately there was NO notice of this "policy" in the room and I took one of the towels to the pool on the first day and forgot it there. On the second day when reading the daily ship newspaper that arrives in your stateroom, there was a reminder about the towels. Being upset that I would have to pay for a towel that I didn't have, I asked our stateroom attendant if there was anything I could do to get my towel back, and he told me that it would okay and not to worry. He gave me another towel. I was never charged, however it is best to be safe then sorry. Don't lose the towels.

Ports

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

This was our first stop on our 7 day cruise and a MAJOR disappointment. We were to understand that this was the first time the Millennium stopped here and unfortunately we were the guinea pigs. We were the first of the passengers to leave the ship and when we got to the top of the hill at the port there were about 20 mini buses waiting to take us to the Caso de Campo compound which consists of some 1700 acres. After a ride of about 20 minutes we arrived at this newly constructed "village" with about 20 stores and a marina. Viewing this from the window of the bus, we decided this was not where we wanted to spend our day, so we didn't get off the bus. Another couple was also turned off by what they saw and was able to speak Spanish to the bus driver who then drove us to the Caso de Campo resort (another 15 minutes). When we arrived at the resort the staff looked at us like we were aliens from Mars. They spoke very little English and after some effort we were able to ascertain that the beach was not readily accessible and we would have to take another shuttle to get there. We then decided that we just should go back to the ship, but we were stranded there. We paid for a taxi to take us back to the ship and when we approached there were 600 people that were waiting for those mini buses to go on the same FIASCO trip we just returned from. We went to Customer Relations immediately and complained. We also canceled our excursion planned for that night on this island (a Latin Extravaganza of dancing, singing, etc.) due to the potential for another miserably planned and organized effort. The ship was so nice and comfortable that many people cruise for the ship only with little regard to the ports it visits. This was one port I HOPE Celebrity will eliminate from their itinerary, since it was a total waste of time and not up to the standards of things Celebrity should be involved with. I understand that hundreds of passengers complained, so the likelihood of this port being scrapped is high. If your cruise does go here, stay onboard. No one needs this kind of aggravation.

San Juan, PR

The major emphasis of this port is shopping. The ship docks a stone's throw from the old San Juan shopping district. Celebrity gives you great maps of the area, and with so many tourists the shopping district is as safe as any city. Watch your valuables and wear comfortable walking shoes and you will be fine. We did an excursion called "old San Juan-New San Juan" and felt that it was overpriced for what we actually got. It was interesting however to see the contrast between the two sections of the city. The tour also included a visit to a old fort in old San Juan which was marginally interesting.

St. Thomas, VI

We were looking very forward to this port due to everything we heard about it. We decided to book an excursion to St. John to snorkel. Upon disembarking the ship, we were told that our tour was canceled due to rough seas and the fact that the Red Hook Ferry was not running. We were disappointed, however decided to do the snorkel trip to Buck Island instead. We sailed to Buck Island with only 6 passengers total on a catamaran and had a lovely day. The rum punch served onboard the catamaran called "Happy Hour" was delicious and the captain and mate only happy to accommodate. Snorkeling here was good, however I felt gypped that I never made it to St. John as I was told that this is one beautiful island. Oh well, hopefully the next cruise will have this on the itinerary. We also went to Charlotte Amalie by taxi (cost: $4 per person) and purchased liquor and cigarettes. Each passenger is allowed to purchase 5 bottles of liquor and 5 cartons of cigarettes duty free. The stores will deliver to the ship at a cost of $1.50. Celebrity will not allow you to have the liquor until the last night of the cruise and they 'save' it for you until then. When you finally get your order, please open the box and check the contents. One carton of cigarettes was missing, but Celebrity made good on the purchase and gave me a carton from their store onboard. There was no reason for Celebrity "saving" your order till the last night and the only thing I could think of is that they wanted you purchase liquor from their bar and not consume liquor they weren't selling. If you want to have liquor in your room, pack a small amount of it prior to the beginning of the cruise or purchase a small amount in San Juan and put it into a tote bag. They do have you go through security whenever you come back from a port, so don't make it obvious.

Nassau, Bahamas

The port here is a stone's throw from the famous Straw Market and is easily walkable. You can find all your last minute gifts here for all the people back home. After shopping at the Straw Market we decided to take a taxi to the beach. The driver took us to the public beach called Cabbage Beach, which is practically next to the new Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island ($4 per person cab charge). You can rent beach chairs there as well as towels, and they even have a few enterprising individuals renting jet skis. We were told that you can view the main floor of Atlantis and of course visit their casino, but seeing the aquarium there will cost $25. This was the last stop on our cruise and we were very sad to leave Nassau knowing that in the morning we would be back in Ft. Lauderdale to say goodbye to the Millennium.

Dining

Dining aboard the Millennium is like eating in a very good expensive gourmet restaurant. Service is excellent and the food delicious. You must dress to dine in the main dining room. No shorts or jeans. If you don't want to be bothered with dressing, you many chose the alternate dining option of the buffet. Both are very good and you should try both. We dined in the main dining room for dinner, but chose the buffet for breakfast and lunch. This cruise had two formal nights and everyone DID dress up. I would recommend the ladies have two formal outfits and the men a dark suit and tie or tuxedo. About 40% of the men had tuxedos, and if you book this cruise far enough ahead you may make arrangements to rent a tux through the cruise line and it will be delivered to your room. In addition to the two options I mentioned, there is also a healthy food area next to the therapy pool for those wishing to watch their diets and also an outdoor grill serving hamburgers and hot-dogs, french fries and the like. The food aboard this vessel was unlike anything I have ever experienced. You will definitely gain weight during the week. Room service is also available at any time of the day or night should you wish a snack or meal. It can be ordered via interactive TV, by phone or by putting a slip on your door the night before. I had my coffee delivered to my room each morning as I cannot function without that caffeine jolt. A small tip to the staff for this is appreciated. The last formal dining night they have the GRAND BUFFET at midnight. This is NOT to be missed. They advised that it takes all their kitchen staff some 100 man hours just to prep for this event. You will want to take pictures of this, so bring your camera, as the people back home will not believe what you tell them. The only slight disappointment on dining and I emphasize the word 'slight', is the fact that there is only one midnight buffet during the 7 days. We also dined the last night at the famous Olympic Restaurant. Service was impeccable here (perhaps slightly overkill) and I felt that while this was an experience I will savor, it wasn't really necessary because of all the wonderful meals available in the main dining room. The night we dined here, the violinist played the theme from The Titanic and I could really envision the opulence those people must have experienced prior to their demise. The Olympic requires a $25 pp charge for dining there. If you do decide to "do the Olympic", make your reservation early, perhaps one of the first things you do after finding your stateroom. I would also recommend that you dine here early in the cruise, perhaps the 3rd night.

Entertainment

A show is available every night for your entertainment. I felt that they were very good and some excellent. You don't want to miss what these talented people have to offer each night with excellent singing, dancing and costumes. Very much on par with a Las Vegas type revue and the best part - all of this is included in your cruise. The band Prodigy plays live at the pool everyday and they are also very good.

Conclusion

We had a wonderful week and I hated to leave the ship to go home. Disembarkation was easy and we got to the airport in plenty of time. Getting a taxi is no problem at all. Being so pampered and well fed was very easy to get used to and felt we were "hooked" on cruising from now on for our vacation. I felt that there was a lot of value for the dollar with this type of vacation and you never had to dine at a bad restaurant or schlep your bags from one hotel to another in order to see the variety of things we saw during the week. I felt that there could be improvement in the area of interaction amongst the passengers and more emphasis could be placed on this by the Cruise Director to plan activities that would nurture this, as it makes for more fun if people are interacting with eachother. by and large this cruise is more laid back than a party boat, if that is what you are seeking. A booze cruise party boat this is not. The small negatives that I mentioned were FAR outweighed by the positives. Celebrity is a wonderful cruise line, the Millennium a very classy ship and I highly recommend both. You will have a week you will never forget.

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