This is a combined review for three cruises:
HAL's, Maasdam (3/25/01, 7 days, K579, Western Caribbean); stats are 1993, 55,000 tons, 1266 capacity, 600 crew
Celebrity's Millennium (4/21/02, 8 days, Penthouse 6018, Eastern Caribbean); stats are 2000, 91,000 tons, 1950 capacity, 999 crew
RCCL's Radiance of the Seas (5/24/02, 3 days, 8602, Pacific Northwest); stats are 2001, 88,000 tons, 2100 capacity,
Where possible, I will try to provide facts for all three ships. We are big band, ballroom dancers; thus, our cruising experiences are geared toward dancing. Port information is not provided in this review. We cruise to dance; and sometimes will even overlook eating to enjoy good dancing. We bypass the port activities in order to rest up for the evening's activities and other onboard events.
Topic Headings are as follows:
Who We Are; Prior Cruises; Future Cruises; Travel Agent; PreCruise Activities; Embarkation; Ship's Captains; Cruise Directors; Cabins; Room Service; Mini-Bar; Luggage Storage; Room Safes; Bathrooms; Ship's Newsletters; Noise On The Ships; Service, Cleanliness, Etc.; Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner; Desserts; Specialty Restaurants; Ice Cream; Theater; Dancing; Pools & Whirlpools; Photography & Videos; Fire Drills; Medical Facility; Non Sea Days; Sea Days; Ports; People We Met; Sun, Rain,Wind; Improvements That Could Be Made; and Disembarkation
Who We Are: I am a woman over 60, semi retired, and my traveling partner, life-companion, is a "few years older." We both lost spouses, mine to emphysema (smokers out there should try to quit smoking) and his to cancer. We both met during senior dance activities and feel that God brought us together. We are enjoying a tremendously happy life filled with love for each other, dancing and traveling together. He has been dancing since he was 16 in high school and throughout his life. I, too, loved dancing in high school, but stopped after marriage. Why do we cruise to dance when we can dance at home (approximately five times a week)? Well, at home you do have to pay fees, travel to and from the location and find a parking place, etc. And, if you have a drink or two, you need to worry about driving home. Not so on a ship with dance activities; just a few steps here and a few steps there. And the ambiance of dancing on a beautiful ship with dinner included and wine, if desired, is a great deciding factor.
Prior Cruises: He, a former major in the US Army, was stationed in China for two years and has traveled the world, first cruising on the Mariposa (actually a pleasure cruise ship taken over by the Merchant Marines), and then traveling throughout Northern Burma, India and South China. Since then he has been on eight cruises and introduced me to cruising last year. The Radiance was my third cruise; I just love this way of life.
Future Cruises: We currently have booked a 10-day cruise to the Southern Caribbean on HAL's Amsterdam, set to sail November 11, 2002. And the big band Tommy Dorsey Orchestra is scheduled for this cruise. Also, we are planning a trip to China next year, most likely by air and land travel because we cannot find a cruise just in the areas in which we wish to travel.
Travel Agent: We have been using AAA in Bellevue for the last couple of years and have been very satisfied with their service. We also take advantage of the maps and tour books for the various trips, both cruises and other air/land trips, that we have taken over the years. We usually do the research first on the Internet, and find fares, etc. And our agent adds in the AAA rate and the senior rate, etc. and ends up getting us the best fares. So, we are pleased. She is such a sweet person and has provided us with a welcoming bottle of champagne in our stateroom on each of our Caribbean cruises.
PreCruise Activities: We usually elect to stay overnight in Fort Lauderdale. Last year, it was the Hilton and this year we stayed at the Best Western Inn, 1221 State Road 84. Both rooms were OK and served its purpose. Last year we had a late dinner at the Hilton. Since we arrived earlier this year and since the Best Western had no place to eat (they have continental breakfast), we went across the State Road 84 to a German restaurant. It was an excellent place to eat, drink wine and dance. Yes, they had dancing and we took advantage of it. We just wished that they stayed open later. They closed at 11:00 p.m. (Saturday night). Both places have vans to take you to the ships at Port Everglades.
Embarkation: Last year, getting on the Maasdam took a little longer. It may be better now. This year, while at the Best Western we discovered that I forgot to pack my beloved's medication. Thus, we were frantically calling the Millennium at midnight. We had a ship to shore call which cost us $95. But we were very much relieved when the ship's nurse was reached and informed us that they had the medications on board and would be able to assist us. We were told to arrive at 10:30 am the following morning and let them know that we had an appointment with the ship's doctor. Once on board, we saw the doctor and got prescriptions for the medications, which the ship filled for us. Everyone was very nice to us and thus our embarkation process on the Millennium was very good. Later that day, we joined the Captain's Club to gain the special departure privileges.
On the Radiance, since we live in the Bellevue area, we drove our car to Seattle's Pier 66 and entered the parking garage for the Bell Street Pier. Once inside, they took our luggage and told us where to park. We parked on the 4th floor level where the sky bridge is and walked across the sky bridge. We headed up the escalator to where check in is. There was a large line, but for some reason, someone stopped us and said "This is your lucky day" and she escorted us to the check in counter. The check-in process had not started yet and everyone was getting their computer to log on to the company's network. They had difficulty and we waited in front of the counter for about ten minutes before the lady got logged on. Then it was a short ten-minute wait to go up the "gangway" and take a picture and then board the ship.
Ship Captains: All three ships' captains were very nice, congenial hosts who genuinely seemed pleased that we were aboard. All three ships had no vacancies.
Captain Peter Jan van Maurik, HAL's Maasdam; attended the Champagne Welcome Party and a Mariner's Reception.
Captain Antonio Manaras, Celebrity's Millennium; met him at the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party and at the Captain's Club Receptions.
Captain Kent Ringborn, RCCI's Radiance of the Seas, has a great singing voice; he sang during the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception, greeted everyone personally and also took pictures with all guests who requested it. I have a very nice picture of the three of us.
Cruise Directors: We believe the best cruise director on all three ships is a toss up between Susan Wood on the Maasdam and Jim Cannon on the Millennium. These two were the most enthusiastic persons on their respective ships, always greeting us with a smile and talking to us and conducting classes we took part in. The Radiance's Ken Rush, although he too was a nice personable friendly person, did not provide the dance entertainment that the other two did.
Cabins: The cabins on all three ships were approximately the same size: 179 square feet on the Radiance, 170 square feet on the Millennium and 182 square feet on the Maasdam. General layout of the rooms and storage space were all excellent. One nice touch on the Radiance was a drape room divider between the bed and the sitting area. All you needed to do was unhook the clasp and pull the drape across the upper rod. This was very much appreciated when one wanted to nap and the other did not, etc. And if one had difficulty sleeping, then one could read without disturbing the other. Another feature of the Radiance was that each of the bed lamps had two switches, one to control the lamp and the other to control a night light built into the lamp, which could be directed in various directions. The sofa on the Maasdam was larger than the ones on the other two ships. And the storage space was larger for the vanity/desk area. The hangers on the Radiance, however, were better than the other two. The Millennium closet and storage was the largest. A fruit basket was provided daily on the Maasdam. Ice bucket and water were provided on all three ships, although the Millennium was the nicest arrangement.
One thing that bugged me was to have the bedspread on the bed with the top folded enveloping our pillows. This way of bed making is also done in some hotels. This, to me, is not the proper way to make the bed. One should pull the top sheet over the pillows to keep the pillows clean and then put the bedspread on the bed. Everyone knows that the bedspread is not washed daily or even weekly. Who knows how often the bedspread is washed and where it has been lying around or what has happened to it? When we travel, we always request that the bed spread be kept folded up in a drawer somewhere. One usually cannot sleep with it on the bed; it is too heavy.
Room Service: We did not order room service on any of the ships; thus we have nothing to report on this.
Mini-Bar: There was no mini-bar on the Maasdam, nor the Radiance, although the Radiance had a refrigerator, which may have been useful on a longer trip. The Millennium had a mini-bar and we requested that everything be removed and thereafter we used it for our own use.
Luggage Storage: The suitcases can fit under the beds of all three ships. If you have one that is too large, then leave it open and slide it under. The best thing to do is to unpack everything and then store your suitcases below the beds.
Room Safes: The Radiance and the Millennium had room safes that use a number code, four digits on the Radiance and six on the Millennium. These are easy to use and easy to check to see if the safe is locked shut. The Maasdam did not have a room safe. However, each of the bedside tables had a locking top drawer with key.
While on the Radiance, our room safe at one time would not open. We discovered that perhaps when pressing the digit it did not register. Anyway, a call to our Cabin attendant, Fannie, quickly brought a young man from maintenance. It only took him a minute to make some kind of adjustment and we then could access our safe. What a relief!
Bathrooms: We had showers in all three bath areas. The nicest bath area was on the Millennium. The Radiance had a built in cabinet with mirror. We thought that if they had installed it the reverse, then one would be able to see the back of one's hair in the mirror. But, they did not have this foresight. There was probably no woman involved in the planning. The Millennium has a nice area with curved horizontal bars on a three level shelf area to hold toiletries, etc. What we did was bring a sock holder, not a shoe holder, but a 12 pair plastic see-through sock holder with a hanger and hung it on the bathroom door. This made it very convenient to see everything and have it all in one handy place.
Ship's Newsletters: All ships have a daily newsletter. However, the Radiance of the Seas has the most attractive (yellow, blue, ivory and shading throughout). The Compass provides a very nice newsletter headlined with Day One, Day Two, etc., which lists all the daily activities and other events in topic paragraphs. Accompanying the newsletter is a down sized 4.25" x 11" 4 page Compass Planner. This single letter-size page, which has been folded in half, mirrors to a smaller degree the larger sized Compass newsletter. The Planner lists everything in chronological order and is just the right size to fit in a man's shirt pocket or woman's purse. We packed a yellow highlighter to highlight the activities of interest to us.
A disappointment was that the Millennium Daily was never delivered prior to 11 or 12 p.m. every evening. A complaint to the front desk indicated that they were having difficulty with the printer. However, it was every night, except perhaps once or twice that no delivery was made and we had to retrieve it from outside the door every morning. The Daily did have a single page pull out listing all the daily activities.
The Maasdam's Newsletter provides a perforated section that you can tear out and fold up listing all the daily activities, along with service hours, dining hours and bar and lounge hours. And this section can then be folded and carried in your shirt pocket or purse.
All ships printed other newsletters, in different languages, depicting what was happening in other cities and countries around the world. You can usually obtain these from the reception desk area.
Noise On The Ships: All three ships were quiet and restful. We only recall one event that drove us crazy. One evening while on the Millennium, when we were trying to get to sleep, we could hear a cracking or noise that seemed like it was coming from the movement of the ship. We discovered, however, and much to our delight, that it was the sliding door to the balcony. We opened and closed it again and the noise disappeared.
Service, Cleanliness, Etc.: We just heard that the Maasdam received a 98 inspection score from the Coast Guard. If you will notice the stats above, the Maasdam has 600 crew members to a capacity passenger number of 1266. She almost has a 2 to 1 ratio of passengers to crew members. Thus, this will indicate why we feel that the best service is on HAL's Maasdam. Yes, the service was the best. Why is that? Well, we believe that the crew tries harder; they know that tips are not automatic and that if they want any, they will have to earn them. Holland America advocates that tips are not mandatory, while the Millennium and the Radiance provide you with envelopes and guidelines on what to tip and who to tip. And they expect you to follow the guidelines. They also attach an automatic 15% tip to all bar bills. There is something to be said about feeling good and being able to add a tip to a bar bill depending on whether or not you received good service. And to provide all other persons with a tip at the end of a cruise, also depending on whether you received the expected service, is HAL's way.
Breakfast: We enjoyed breakfast at the "buffets". Actually the Lido (Maasdam) and the Ocean Cafe (Millennium) are really cafeteria style. What was nice on both ships is that there is someone to help you with your tray or assist in finding you a table and bring you coffee, tea, etc. On the Radiance, it was truly a buffet. You could help yourself to whatever you wanted. However, finding a place to sit was difficult and most of the time we found ourselves outside. One did not have a tray to use, but a big huge plastic platter. So, you filled up your platter, found a seat and then got your drinks, etc. We saw no grapefruit or oatmeal on the Radiance. We enjoyed both of these items on the Maasdam and the Millennium. We tried breakfast in the Maasdam's Rotterdam Dining Room on two mornings and enjoyed this too. Each time we got a table for two. One morning we opted for this on the Millennium, but did not like it as well because they seated us with several persons at a large table who were already in different phases of eating. And they only had half the dining room or a small section open. We went to the omelet bar on the Maasdam and had a very nice omelet. On the Millennium, we had an omelet, but could not eat it because the inside was not cooked. We noticed, however, that later on they had someone else making them and he was making sure that they were cooked. One other time we ordered eggs over easy and they were good. You can also get toast or toasted bagels on the Maasdam and the Millennium, but not the Radiance.
Lunch: All three ships had great lunch selections, although we would rate the Radiance last. They had less selections. One good item I had, however, was a tuna salad sandwich on a bun on the Radiance. They had tuna wraps and I provided a bun to the server and asked him to make me a tuna sandwich. And it was delicious, so much so, that I went back and got another.
Dinner: We had early seating on the Maasdam and the Millennium and we opted for late seating on the Radiance. After having done it either way, we believe the early seating is better, especially if you do not spend a long day in port. We thought we would try the late seating so as to accommodate an afternoon tea or late night buffet. However, none was to be had on the Radiance. Both the Maasdam and the Millennium had high teas in the afternoon, and late night buffets but we did not try them. We did view some of them, however, and thought they were very elegant and spectacular. Why did we not try them? The 4 p.m. high tea time was just too close to a 6 p.m. dinner time and the late night buffets were just too much - after eating three meals already in a day of anything and everything that we wanted or craved. We had to draw the line somewhere.
Oh yes, we did purchase a Royal Cocktails card on the Radiance of the Seas; cost is $39 + 15% gratuity for 12 drinks of choice, most house brands. And, we used it up. I am unaware if the Maasdam or the Millennium had such a program.
Desserts: Desserts on both the Maasdam and the Millennium were outstanding, both in the Lido Buffet (Maasdam) and the Ocean Cafe (Millennium). And the dining room desserts were top notch. Not so with the Radiance. The Windjammer selections were OK, but not many to choose from. The desserts in the dining room were only rated OK by us, not outstanding or excellent at all. There was one angel food cake dessert with strawberries served one evening. You can get better angel food cake at the supermarket.
Bread pudding on HAL and Baked Alaska, Cherries Jubilee, Chocolate Souffle, Crème Brulee on both HAL and Millennium are desserts that you should not miss.
Specialty Restaurants: We did not try any of the specialty restaurants on any of the ships. In actuality, the cost or fee imposed is not limited to the set service fee, but it also includes the amount of money already spent for the dinner that you will be missing in the dining room or in the buffet if you choose to eat there instead. Also, the specialty restaurants take a longer time to eat; and this would take time away from our dancing.
On the Radiance is a little known restaurant called the Seaside Cafe. Although this restaurant caters to the younger crowd, we enjoyed a hot dog and strawberry milkshake one evening. It was the last night of our cruise, after we were all packed, that we decided to go up to Deck 12 and find the place. We had some feedback on it through the Cruise Critic Boards. Up we went and ordered two hot dogs, one for each of us and a strawberry milkshake to be split between the two of us.. Our order came with the grilled hot dog in a toasted bun, smothered with onions, and with French fries, too. It was delicious. The milkshake was the only item we had to pay for. It was $3.25 and we had to get it from the bar area.
The hamburgers and hotdogs on the Millennium and the Maasdam were also great. The hot dogs on all these ships are much better than the ones that you get at a sports game or even at Costco. Costco used to toast their buns - some years ago, but no more.
Ice Cream: All three ships served ice cream. The best, however, was on the Maasdam. There was a soft serve selection, plus sorbets and other items that you could request of the server. Then you could help yourself to various toppings, including fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The Millennium had a similar setup, but with only a few toppings and the server added those items as requested. We had vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut and milk chocolate sauce. Very good. And the Radiance had soft serve machines that you could fill chocolate or vanilla ice cream cones or bowls with. But, they only had a bowl of chocolate syrup available. However, you could get whip cream from a huge bowl on the dessert table. The Radiance had very good cookies. We had an oatmeal raisin cookie and we dipped it in whip cream prior to every bite. It was delicious. Another item I enjoyed was the 2 x 3 inch apple rolled tart. These were available daily on the Radiance near the sweet rolls in the Windjammer Cafe.
On the other side of the Millennium's ice cream section, was a similar section, serving non sugar selections.
Theater: The Maasdam had the best on stage performances. The production numbers were outstanding. Next was the Millennium and then the Radiance. We made the decision not to see the last day's show on the Radiance because we did not think that the other two days were that good. The Millennium had the best theater, with wonderful plush seating with little tables for cocktails. The Maasdam was next with similar seating and then the Radiance was last. The Radiance has cup or glass holders to hold your drinks on the right arm of each seat. Sightlines on all three ships were good. We never had a bad seat watching any of the shows.
The Maasdam was also the only ship that provided an artistic covered program for each of their production numbers. It was nice to follow along and know what was going to be next, etc., and also have the names of the people performing.
Dancing: First, let me say that you cannot dance on a ship's deck, at least not ballroom dancing. Our style of dance requires a nice dance floor, and one needs to wear a shoe that will slide. Sport shoes, running shoes and tennis shoes, etc. cannot be worn for this type of dancing. Thus, any kind of shoe with a smooth bottom, usually a leather soled shoe is the best kind outside of a shoe made specifically for dancing.
The best dance floor on all three ships was at the Colony Club on the Radiance of the Seas. It has a nice large, rectangular shaped, smooth wood floor. However, we only got to dance on the floor during the Captain's Reception. We were the first to take the step and get out on the dance floor even though the band had been playing for at least 10 minutes. On Day One, they scheduled a Quest activity. And the late night 11:00 to 12:30 am Rock n' Roll party was devoted to twist. Nothing was scheduled on Day Two other than the Captain's Reception from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. And on Day Three, they scheduled Karaoke in the Colony Club.
We would have loved a variety of music, i.e., music for the Rhumba, Cha Cha, Tango, Salsa, Swing, Jive, Hustle, Fox Trot, Waltz, California Polka, etc.
The second best dance floor is in the Ocean's Bar on HAL's Maasdam. We enjoyed dancing every evening both before dinner and after (prior to going to the evening show) and then again after the show. The Nevada Quartet were a great group and played requests, such as New York, New York and Pretty Woman. Such requests were made of the Radiance group and were turned down with them saying that they did not know the songs. We got the whole spectrum of the dances we liked with the Nevada Quartet.
And next is the the Rendevous Lounge on the Millennium. We enjoyed dancing to Howard & Rose's music. However, we felt sorry for them after awhile because they lost power to their instruments several times during the evening and on several evenings.
The Millennium's Cosmos Nightclub, Deck 11, has a beautiful dance floor, but it is not conducive to ball room dancing as one's shoe can get hung up on the ridges throughout the floor. However, we did enjoy dancing and partaking of the lessons provided by the staff. The Cruise Director, Jim Cannon, scheduled dancing one evening there with the Celebrity Orchestra and this was great. They took requests and did a good job. There should have been more activities with the Orchestra.
Oh yes, I should mention the Vibz group on the Millie that usually played on the deck by the pool. They were there during the sail aways, Tex Mex Night (line dancing) and another swing night. One night they were in the Cosmos Lounge and they were very good. And they took requests and played Pretty Woman several times during the cruise.
Cruise directors need to realize that many persons who do not dance enjoy drinking, big band music and watching those who do dance. Therefore, they not only need a big dance floor, but a large lounge or area for those who prefer to drink and watch. And those who dance also drink too. So, they are not losing the audience nor the big bucks spent on drinks when they provide dance activities.
Pools & Whirlpools: The best ship was HAL's Maasdam. The hot tubs were hot. I did not like the T pool on the Millennium. There was no place to sit. One had to slide one's body over the metal railings and lie on them. And they were always sticky, probably from everyone's sun tan lotion. The hot tubs on the Millie were OK; however, they were not hot. The temperature was pretty mild. We enjoyed getting the kinks out in the hot tub on the Maasdam. The hot temperature really did make our bodies feel better. In all fairness, we did not try the Radiance pools. We did not have good weather on our three-day trip and thus did not feel like taking a dip.
Photography & Videos: The best photography department and photographers were on the Radiance. Each one of the pictures was very good and we ended up purchasing all of the photos. We only got one on the Millennium because we did not like the others. On the Maasdam, these too, were very good and we ended buying all of them.
A cruise lasting at least seven days will usually create a video of the trip at a cost of approximately $20.
Fire Drills: All three ships conducted the mandatory fire drill. The Maasdam and the Millennium passed with flying colors, getting everyone to their muster stations, which were located on deck where they would be boarding the lifeboats. The Radiance, in my opinion, did not pass the test because all they did was get everyone to the muster station. We did not go outside to the deck, but simply stayed in the lounge area that was assigned to us. They did, however, call on the loudspeaker, all the persons who were missing. It is very important that you take part in the fire drills and not be the one to keep everyone waiting. On one ship, people were standing in the hot sun and they had to wait for others to arrive. And everyone should know that they should not be carrying anything with them for the fire drill. In the case of a real fire drill, you would not bring anything with you. Anything other than your body and life vest would take up more room and make the life boat weigh more. Thus, what you need to do, is pack your ID, Ship's Card and money, in a small wallet that will fit in your pocket.
Medical Facility: The Millennium had the best medical facility (see embarkation above), but of course, we did not have to use the ones on the other two ships, so we really have no comment on them.
We did, however, see three or four children during our cruises who were injured in some way, usually from having a door slammed on a hand. We felt sorry for these children as they had to spend the rest of the cruise with some degree of pain. If anyone needs to see the doctor, they should call first and make an appointment as the doctor will not see any one without an appointment. Of course, if it is an emergency, go directly to the facility and have someone else call and say that you are on your way. Do not sit and wait outside a closed door. Phone the number on the door as they keep the door locked and they do not know that you are waiting outside.
Non Sea Days: As mentioned above, we are not enthusiastic about non sea days or visiting the ports. There seems to be a lockdown on non sea days. Everything was closed. We wanted to use the golfing features of the Millennium, but could never find anyone there. And messages left with the pro were always returned, but we could never connect to make an appointment or just to take advantage of what they had to offer. And, of course, you cannot shop on the ships while the ships are in port. So, when can one shop? They seem to be open only from 6 to midnight. And one cannot go at 6 because of dinner. And the show follows dinner and then thereafter, if one wants to go dancing, there is no time to shop. They should have the shops open all night.
Sea Days: We love sea days because you can go out on your balcony and lounge around while the ship is moving. We had a very nice balcony on the Millennium with two lounge chairs.
Ports: We did get off the ship in St. Thomas. It was only on the island that we found out that there was a holiday that weekend and that certain streets were closed. We took a van (carries 12) into town. The driver could not get close enough due to traffic jams, so we all got out and walked about 6 blocks. We looked around a bit and then decided to return to the ship. We should have started walking right where we were. But instead we hailed another van (almost full) and he tried to get down to the water area and make a left turn back to the ships, but was turned around by traffic personnel. He then thought he would try to outsmart everyone and went in a round about way to get back down and ended up in a huge traffic jam, so huge, that he requested everyone to get out and walk back to the ship. We ended up walking 3.5 miles that day. We suggest that you take an umbrella with you. Try to find one with a fringe or ruffle, more like a parasol. I had one and was very glad that I did.
On the way back, we discovered that there were three cruise ships in port. And, of course, this added to the cause of the traffic jams throughout the city.
When we visited St. Maarten, the Adventure of the Seas was docked along side the Celebrity's Millennium. The Millie really looked small next to the AOS.
In St. Maarten, there is a water boat that takes you over to the shopping area. They wanted us to get off at the first stop and walk over to the other shopping area. That way, we would visit some of the shops along the way. However, after walking 3.5 miles the previous day, we were in no mood to do a lot of walking again. So, we insisted that we wanted to go over directly and they took us there.
It was Sunday when we visited Nassau; thus, we did nothing much but had a milkshake at the Haagen Dazs and perused a few shops that were open.
All ships provided shopping and port information, including maps and coupons.
People We Met: One of the fun reasons for cruising is meeting all the wonderful people. We had Table 503 on the Millennium, very nice table for 8, at the back of the ship on Deck 5. We enjoyed meeting and talking with you Bob, Joyce, Frank, Adele, Peter, etc. On the Radiance, we had table 418, again a very nice table, for 10 this time and it was not filled. We enjoyed talking with Arnelle, Susan, David, Shirley, Charmaine, Beth and others . We also met an upcoming author, Elaine Zale. Her first novel, Wing's of Love, was at the publisher's; and after she described it to me, I knew that I wanted to read it.
Sun, Rain, Wind: You should be aware that you may get sunburned, even while not in any direct sun. Be careful as you may receive indirect sunshine through reflections off the water, glass or in other ways. Prior to the cruise, get a good hair cut, one that will not be bothered with the wind because it will be windy while on the ship. Pack an umbrella for use when it rains and when the sun is shining. You will be glad you did as the sun gets very hot when walking around the various islands. And, if you are in the Pacific Northwest or even going to Alaska, you may need it for rainy weather.
Improvements That Could Be Made: (1) One thing that really bugged us was the lack of toilet seat covers in all public restrooms on the RCL ship. We were used to having use of them on the Millennium and the Maasdam.
(2) Why have a beautiful dance floor like the one on the Radiance and not use it? One evening it was devoted to Karaoke. Activities like this, along with Bingo, could function very well in the theater.
(3) The ship's director should make sure that the events take place as scheduled; i.e., line dancing was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and Trivia was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. in the same area. The person conducting the Trivia arrived 10 minutes early and had to take on a quick line dance class to pacify the persons who arrived and had been waiting for the last 20 minutes. The line dance teacher never did show up. This happened on the Radiance (5/25/02).
Disembarkation: The last morning on any ship and subsequent travel to the airport always takes time. Leaving the Maasdam took the longest and the line at the airport was the worst. Imagine more than 2000 people (from several ships) arriving at the airport back in March of 2001. Waiting around the ship took hours going through customs and then disembarking. The Millennium was better because we had Captain's Club privileges and got off the ship fairly fast. It was waiting outside trying to hail a taxi cab. There were no orderly lines and everyone was trying to grab, grab, grab. And of course, it takes all day to fly home.
The Radiance was OK. However, we had to fill out disembarkation information indicating that we did not have an airplane to catch. Consequently, we had to wait until nearly 10:00 to get off the ship, until they called our Lavendar color. One does not mind waiting if one has an idea of how long, but of course, no one could tell us this. And the waiting had to be in the public areas, no waiting in the cabins, which had to be vacated by 8:00 a.m. So, we sat around for 2 hours. Once off the ship, however, it went fairly fast.
We did call the evening before with the question of how we were going to get our luggage to the car parked in the parking garage. The person at the reception said that all you have to do it get a porter and he will take you with your luggage to your car. The porter that we got informed us that he could not cross the street, but he did say that he would take us to the elevator that will get us to the sky bridge. So, once we got on the elevator, we had to maneuver our luggage across the sky bridge and to our car, which fortunately was on the same level, Level 4.
THE SHIP: This was the first of hopefully many cruises to come. It was all we expected and more. We were very impressed with the ship on the outside as well as the inside. A very elegant ship.
EMBARKATION: Couldn't have been easier. This being our first cruise, i was a bit nervous, but things went very smooth. From the moment we arrived at the ship, til the moment we were checking out our stateroom couldn't have been longer than fifteen minutes. Then we were off to check out the buffet being served. Good first impression.
OUR STATEROOM: Believe it or not, the room was a bit larger than we actually expected. It could get a bit cramped with the three of us trying to get ready, but you spend so little time in there, this didn't make a difference. We did enjoy having oceanview. Our room steward was great. Whenever we need anything, he was right there.
DINING: What can I say. Food, Food and more Food. The steaks were always cooked to perfection. Our waiter (from Turkey) was great. Couldn't have been better. If we ordered something we didn't care for,no problem, just order something else. One of our party guest was celebrating his birthday. They sang to him and presented him with a birthday cake. The assistant waiter, Peter, was also good. He maybe could have kept up with the drinks a little better, but we enjoyed him. The breakfast buffet was great. Anything you wanted, they had. The pizza and hamburgers were also great.
ENTERTAINMENT: We never made it to any of the shows. There is just not enough time to do everything. We did however play bingo twice a day. We enjoyed this even though we never won. We really enjoyed the music at the pool. They were GREAT! We even requested a few songs. Country and Western night and Mexican night was lots of fun.
PORTS OF CALL: Not too impressed with San Jaun. Wouldn't really care to go back. We did however visit the Rain Forest, that was rather interesting. St. Thomas was much nicer. We visited Magens Bay and enjoyed the shopping. I feel the best was saved for last. The Bahamas. We went to Paradise Island. This place is breathtaking. While there, you must visit The Atlantis Resort. I would love to have stayed there longer.
FINAL THOUGHTS: All except for the week coming to an end, everything was great. The only thing I would like to see changed is to include soft drinks in the price of the cruise and always have tea and lemonaide available. Even adding a salad bar would be nice. Other than that, keep doing what you are doing and I can't wait to cruise with Celebrity again.
We just recently returned from our first Celebrity cruise on the Millennium and I wanted to post our review of the ship and cruise. I'm offering my own opinion, from my own perspective with the hope that others might benefit from this information. Our overall cruise experience was wonderful and we had a great time, so please don't take any criticism of the cruise personal.
This was our sixth cruise, so I still consider us fairly novice at the cruise experience. We are in our mid-40's and on this trip my wife and I took our 18-year old daughter and we met my parents and my brothers and their wives for the cruise. As noted, this was our first Celebrity cruise, having previously cruised Carnival (Inspiration), Princess (Sea Princess) and Royal Caribbean (Radiance of the Seas) once and Holland America (Veendam) twice. My review will obviously include some comparisons to those earlier experiences.
We made our own flight arrangements with Orbitz and flew into Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, the day before the cruise. This is a must for us, and I can't imagine ever flying in on the day of departure again. Westayed at the AmeriSuites Hotel for the first time. It has a nice location with respect to Port Everglades, and they have a shuttle that picks you up at the airport and will take you to the Port on the day of embarkation. Using their courtesy phone near baggage claim, we called the hotel and their van was there in only a few minutes for the short ride to the hotel. The hotel is located near 17th Street where there is plenty of shopping and several places to eat. On previous trips we have always stayed at the Embassy Suites, and this is right next-door. The Hotel is not up to Embassy Suites standards, but it was clean. I would rate it a 2 Star hotel, similar to a Comfort Inn, but with a small sitting area and kitchenette. There is an Outback right outside the hotel. We ate at a Mexican Restaurant in a strip shopping center just east across the street from the Embassy Suites. Prices were reasonable and the food was fine.
Since there was a long line for the hotel shuttle, we had the hotel call some cabs for the short ride over to the Port. This is a 5-minute cab ride and we were there by 11:30 a.m. The place was wide open and we were processed through check-in faster than I've ever seen. No lines at all, and we got our Celebrity ID Cards and were on the ship in 10 minutes of arrival at the Port. The card functions as an ID, key to your stateroom and shipboard charge card. As you enter the ship, they take your picture and digitally cross-reference it to your card so that every time you punch in, your picture comes up for the gatekeepers. Easily the best embarkation we have ever experienced. If Celebrity is always this good at embarkation, they deserve very high marks.
One advantage of arriving early is the opportunity to photograph the ship without the crowds of people. Even though the cabins are not ready, we were able to drop off our carry-on and begin exploring the ship right away. I'm sure you've already ready how impressive the Millennium is. It is a beautiful ship. Very clean and still looking like new.
Cabin: We have stayed in the HAL Mini-Suites, balcony cabins, outside cabins, and yet have come to prefer the inside cabin. To many that may sound strange, but we always sleep better in inside cabins and since we spend so little time in there, I'll be surprised if we ever book anything else. It also helps us justify cruising more often, as we spend less. We were on Deck 8, the Panorama Deck in Cabin 8089. These cabins are adequate in size, even with our daughter who slept on a bed that dropped out of the ceiling. There is plenty of closet and drawer space and the bathroom was very nice, including a shower that is much larger than some we have seen. All in all, we were very pleased with our cabin, with one very big exception. We made the mistake of booking a room below the swimming pool. Even though the pool is located on deck 10, the bottom of the pool is on deck 9, so we could hear the water of the pool sloshing back and forth all night long. If you're going on this ship, do not book a mid-ship inside cabin on this floor. In general the rooms are not very quiet and noise from the hall is easily audible. They begin vacuuming at 8:00 a.m. every morning, which might create difficulties if you like to sleep in. Our cabin steward, Wilfred was great; never intrusive, but always available.
Aqua Spa: This is truly one of the nicest areas of the ship. They have plenty of equipment and offer several spa treatments. Our daughter had a facial which she enjoyed very much, my wife was pleased with her haircut and color, and I enjoyed the best massage I've ever experienced on a cruise. If I weren't already married, I would have proposed on the spot. There is a nice dry sauna in the men's changing area with a view of the ocean, and the showers in the changing area are particularly nice; wonderful, strong stream of warm water. They have lockers and you get your key from the spa desk attendant. The Thermal Pool Area, including the Thalassotherapy Pool is also very nice but the water was very cool on the first sea day and they never seem to keep the hot tubs warm enough. by the second day the Thalassotherapy Pool water was nice and warm but the adjacent hot tubs were always cool. These are all saltwater pools and this is a nice area to relax inside early in the morning. It did get a bit crowded in the afternoon. One of my biggest complaints relates to the charge for use of the Thermarium. This is a beautiful area inside the Aqua Spa that has a Turkish Bath (warm steam room), the Grotto (hot steam room) the Laconium (cool aroma therapy room), two special showers with scented water and a relaxation area of heated tile seating. I enjoy steam rooms and like to begin each day on a cruise with a steam. But on the Millennium, you must make an appointment for these rooms and there is a charge of $18.70 per hour of usage. It was often difficult to schedule a time and usually it was not available before 9:30 a.m. On all other ships we have cruised, they have had free steam rooms that were open and available at any time. I missed that. Don't get me wrong. The Thermarium is wonderful. I just think it should be free and always open.
Ocean Grill: We ate Breakfast and Lunch in the Ocean Grill area throughout the cruise. There are two buffet lines on each side of the ship. In addition, there is an area further aft from the buffets where omelets are prepared for breakfast and special lunch items are prepared, usually a pasta or pizza. Pizza is also served from these areas in the late afternoon and evening. All the way back to the aft, is an additional serving area that offered lighter breakfasts and specialty lunches. One day it was oriental, another sandwiches, and another Italian. I felt it was the best place to get lunch. There is also a nice outdoor seating area aft of the Ocean Grill. The quality of the food was excellent, but bare in mind that I prefer a noisy Tex-Mex restaurant over any place with tablecloths. Ice Cream is also served at times in the Ocean Grill area, and tea, cookies and pastries are put out each day around 5:00 p.m. The cookies are excellent.
Metropolitan Restaurant: We had early seating at Table 502 on the upper deck of the restaurant all the way aft against the windows. This was a perfect seating area and we had the best waiter and assistant waiter of any cruise. Valer, from Romania was wonderful as our waiter, and Bosko, from Croatia was equally excellent. The food in the dining room was very good, especially the cold fruit soups and dessert selection. On previous cruises, we felt Princess had the best offerings, but I would now say that Celebrity was its equal. Valer was particularly nice to bring out one of every dessert so that we could sample all of them before making our selection. Since we were all family, this worked out great and gave us a chance to try so many things. The menus were always varied with excellent choices, including pastas, chicken, seafood and beef. We ate all too well on this cruise. We did not eat any other meals in the restaurant, but other family members did and said it was excellent. Nor did we try the Olympic restaurant, but my brother did and loved it.
Deck Areas: The pool area always seemed busy, loud and crowded which is not really my cup of tea, but there are always open chairs throughout the ship on other decks. We generally hung out towards the aft portion of the ship because it was quieter and less windy. I also enjoyed the Promenade deck. This is a great area to get out of the sun, read a book and take a nap. Unfortunately, the deck chairs do not recline back enough, but it's still very comfortable and quiet. Quite frankly, this is one of my favorite cruise pastimes, sitting on a promenade deck reading and napping with the beautiful view of the ocean. It's hard to beat. I love HAL's Promenade Deck.
Entertainment: We went to all the shows in the Celebrity Theater and would rank this as one of the weakest in comparison to our other cruises. The Celebrity dancers and singers are very talented and the shows did get better as the week progressed. Production seems to be the weakest link. The first night's show ("Classique") was terrible, their second show ("Platinum") was good and their final show ("Broadway") was very good. We thought the other entertainers: Thien Fu - comedian and juggler and Beni Mason - comedian were definitely not up to the standards of entertainment on previous cruises. You would be more likely to see them at the Holiday Inn than on a first class cruise. Don't bother. Shirley Harmer - singer was excellent, but was not featured enough. The back-up band was great and I wish they had been featured or at least given a greater opportunity to perform. The theater itself is beautiful with lots of good seats and excellent sight lines.
Clubs and Casino: Cosmos, Rendezvous Lounge and Platinum Club offer many areas for sitting and enjoying good company. However, the best looking club on the ship is Michaels Club, the cigar lounge. I don't smoke, but this is definitely a nice place to hang out. There is also a card room on the Promenade Deck, which is a nice place to gather for a friendly game of Hearts. The Casino is one of the largest we have seen at sea. It was fairly crowded and getting through to the other side is sometimes difficult.
Shops, etc: The shops were nice but didn't compare with what we have seen on other ships. This isn't a strong point of Millennium, but then again, we don't really shop on ship anyway. There is an Internet Room, which I used on one occasion; fairly simple to use, but very expensive - $.95 per minute. Best to step into an Internet Cafe on the islands. We were pleased with the photo service, but make note that formal night pictures are more expensive.
Let me say at the start that we typically do our own thing on island stops. We prefer to plan our own day and avoid the tours offered by the cruise line, so I can't tell you anything about the tours. But here is what we did:
San Juan: One of my favorite stops. We simply walked off the ship and walked around the water to El Moro. This is a beautiful walk along the sea and provides some great picture taking opportunities. Follow the path all the way to the end at the opening to San Juan harbor. This path doesn't lead up to El Moro. You have to back track to the gate and then go up the road to the top of the hill. It's worth the walk. El Moro is a beautiful place and offers some great views. From there we walked back down into Old Town for shopping. My only complaint here was that we only got the afternoon in San Juan. I would have preferred an entire day.
Catalina Island, D.R.: Tender service was fine, but of the private islands we have been to, this definitely ranks last. HAL's Half Moon Cay and Princess Cay are both superior. It's a beautiful island, but when you tender to shore, they don't have the lounge chairs set up all along the beach. Instead, an attendant gathers the necessary chairs and carries them with you to a spot on the beach. They will tend to want to drop you off as close as possible, which means you will be right in the middle of 2,000 other chairs. Be sure you make it clear you want to move further down the beach away from the crowd. He will be reluctant, but will understand his tip depends on it. To get any privacy, you will need to go far, but it's worth it. The crowd towards the tender dock was terrible. We were disappointed they didn't offer parasailing.
St. Thomas: We did here what we always do at St. Thomas. We caught a cab to Red Hook, took the ferry to St. John and then a cab to Trunk Bay. This has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in all the world. It wasn't too crowded and we enjoyed beautiful weather and nice warm water. This beach offers changing and shower facilities with the $4 admission price. It is well worth the effort to get here. We then took the Downtown ferry back to St. Thomas. This ferry will drop you off near the cruise ships and then takes you right to downtown where we spent the afternoon shopping. I suspect this was my wife's favorite part of the cruise. Another cab ride back to the ship and we were off. Again, I wish we could have stayed longer at St. Thomas. A 10:00 p.m. departure would be nice.
Nassau: I had heard bad things about Nassau, but it was one of the nicest stops of the cruise. We did a walking tour of the island, walking up to Queen Victoria's steps and then back around town into the shopping district. Plenty of shops and a nice outdoor flea market that my wife loved. Again we were limited to an afternoon in Nassau. Because of the time limitation, we didn't get out to Paradise Island, but you have a nice view of Atlantis from the pier. It looks impressive and it would have been nice to spend a day over there. I had found a day rate of $150 at the Comfort Suites, which gives you access to the Atlantis facilities, but we didn't feel it would be worth it for the short time we could stay and we wanted to explore Nassau, since this was our first trip there.
Disembarkation: The worst part of disembarkation is having to clear US Immigration and Customs at 7:00 a.m. in the Celebrity Theater. The rest of the process was almost as easy as embarkation. We waited in one of the lounges for our color to be called and then joined the line to exit the ship. Our bags were organized by color and we grabbed them and headed for a cab. It was a short ride to the airport and the longest lines I have ever seen at any airport; lines for the restrooms, lines for food, lines to check-in and lines for security. Flying is easily the worst part of cruising and so I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that after spending many hours in line, we took a bump to fly home Monday and received vouchers sufficient to cover our air for the next cruise. American put us up in the Airport Hilton, which is a reasonably nice hotel. The hotel itself is a little worn, but the room was nice and clean. Our schedules allowed this flexibility and coming home to snow and ice reminded us that one more day in the warmth of Florida made the effort worth it.
Summary Pros and Cons:
1. I don't like that on Celebrity if you chose to not eat in the Dining Room, you have to make a reservation for the alternative dining, even in the Ocean Grill. They also add a service charge. On other cruises, you eat where you want, without the need of a reservation. I'm on vacation, I like flexibility. 2. We had a great room steward, waiter and assistant waiter. But I felt that the overall attitude of the ship staff was not as good as I've seen on other ships. Many had unhappy faces and rarely smiled. There were wonderful exceptions and we made friends with several staff members, but in general the attitude was fairly cool and somber. I don't think many are happy. 3. As noted above, the added charge for the Thermarium. This alone will probably keep me from cruising Celebrity again unless it's a deal too good to pass up. They also didn't offer discounting on spa treatments as we have seen on other ships. 4. The energy level of the entertainment was lacking and the added entertainers were weak, in my opinion. Cruise director was only fair. 5. I know this will get me in trouble, but we didn't think the overall friendliness of the other cruisers was up to what we have found on other ships. Please don't take this wrong, but one of the things we enjoy most about cruising are the wonderful friends we have made. On this ship, people did not seem as open or friendly. When we were able to strike up friendships on the island stops, they were always from other cruise ships. Maybe its Celebrity's crowd, maybe it was just this cruise, and okay, so maybe it was us.
1. Any cruise is great and this was no exception. Beautiful ship, nice ports and unbelievable weather. 2. Problems with our stateroom could have been avoided if we hadn't been under the pool, but the noise from the hall was more noticeable anyway. Celebrity doesn't wow you with clever towel folding like Carnival, but the Staterooms were nice. 3. The food was great. If you like to eat, take any cruise. If you like to eat well, don't hesitate to cruise Celebrity. 4. Embarkation, embarkation, embarkation!! Never better.
My husband Charlie, and I flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior and stayed at the Sheraton Yankee Trader on Ft. Lauderdale beach. It was heaven, flying down from cold and damp New England to the sunny and warm 85 degree temperatures. We had dinner that evening at Shula's Steakhouse which is located in the hotel. What a marvelous way to start a great vacation! It was heaven!!
Sunday, we took a cab to the pier at 10:00 am, checked our bags and waited for boarding which began promptly at 10:45 (we are Captains Club Members).
The ship is gorgeous! We stashed our carry on bags in our Category 1A cabin (9100) on the Sky Deck (which had the famous overhang, but, not a problem) and began to explore the ship.
The Champagne Bar and Martini Bar are located on opposite sides of the same wall. We spent many hours at both, and it was wonderful. Please note that the side of the ship on which the Champagne Bar is located is the smoking side, and this area got quite stuffy and smoky during some periods, hence we moved over to theMartini side. We also spent some time in Michaels Club, which is the Cigar Bar. They have wonderful ventilation there, so the smoke did not bother me too much. The dining room was wonderful, the food is really quite spectacular. I ate meat every night which is not my normal habit, but, it was so darn good! Our table mates were wonderful, a nice mix of people. We also had high tea one day in the main dining room which is not to be missed. They have lovely finger sandwiches along with desserts. Dress is semi formal, but men do not have to wear a tie, only a jacket. We have been cruising for a few years now, and opted to skip the shows, but, we heard the entertainment was top notch.
The pool area is quite large, we always got a lounge chair. There is ample room for shade seekers. They have hamburgers, and hotdogs at the pool grille at noon and wonderful pizza at 3 pm. The promenade deck was wonderful for sitting and reading a book. The chairs on this deck are padded, but, do not recline, so occasional napping is hard. The Thellassophy (sp) pool was a wonderful, quiet haven. The best kept secret on the Millie is the little grille located behind the "T" pool. They serve low calorie, low cholesterol meals there that were to die for. So flavorful!!! We ate our breakfast and lunch there. One lunch was sushi, another was a Chinese noodle dish. YUMMY!!
Our stops were San Juan, Catalina (their private island), St Thomas (St John) and Nassau. We stayed on the ship for the first two, but, in St. Thomas, took the ferry over from Red Hook to St. Johns where we went to Trunk Bay and Maho Bay, two truly beautiful beaches which are paradise on earth. In Nassau, we took a ship excursion over to Atlantis Resort. It was wonderful, the resort is awesome, and their underground aquarium is not to be missed.
We had a few portraits taken by Tommy, the best photographer on Millie. He really knew about shadows, angles and such. He was a perfectionist.
Disembarkation: We are Captains Club members, so we are first off the ship which as around 8:30 am. We were in the security line at FLL at 9:00 am and on our flight at 11:00 am back to Boston.
What a wonderful trip, we are booked on the Constellation next Feb. 2003 for her Southern Caribbean route. We always travel alone, its fun meeting couples that share the same love of cruising, and we did meet many fine people on Millie.
If you have any questions regarding the Millie please feel free to write.Sue
I really valued the reviews I found while researching for our cruise. I hope this helps someone too!
We sailed the Caribbean with 8 people; besides me, we had my wife, and 2 kids (11,8) my brother, and his 2 girls, (14,12), and my mother. We sailed as a group, 4 years ago on the Mercury, to the western Caribbean, so that is my point of comparison. My family lives in Maryland, the rest live in Florida.
We got to Ft Lauderdale the day before we sailed, and met the rest of our party(from Florida) at the terminal at 11 AM. Boarding was an absolute breeze! We walked in, were directed to a man that got our paperwork organized, we went up to a counter to check in, and on the ship we went!! We had changed our rooms around since booking, so we needed to stop at guest relations, right as we went aboard to switch our keys around. While I did that, my wife checked on our seating, it was fine, so we were set, ready to check the ship out!! The pools and hot tubs were open,as was the Ocean Cafe, serving lunch, so we got a bite, then checked out the Extreme Sports Bar, to watch the Ravens game. The ship was fabulous!! Everything was extremely clean, and by getting on early, there were very few people milling around.
The food was excellent in the dining room, and we had a great assistant waiter, Bosco. Our Head waiter was OK, but didn't have much of a personality (that was the biggest difference from the Mercury, luck of the draw!) Bosco made up for it! We had early seating, and there were just a couple of times that we didn't think that some of the courses were delivered quick enough. No problem ordering extras either! We had multiple desserts every night.
We ate all lunches in the Ocean Cafe (buffet) or the Poolside Grill (Hamburgers, Hot dogs). The buffet had a ton of selections, and everyone, even the kids always found some things they liked. They also had specialty foods in the rear of the cafe every day. The ship had waiters there to carry your trey and get drinks for you too. My mom and the kids found this very helpful.
We ate 2 breakfasts in the dining room. The 1st was great, good selections, great, fast service. The 2nd was not good. We ate right after the St Thomas immigration inspection when everyone aboard needed to get up and check in, and it looked like the dining room didn't have enough help, it took over an hour to get breakfast delivered. I think everyone had the same idea as us that morning, to eat in the main dining room. This was our only experience with poor service on this trip.
The midnight buffets were great, they had 2 fun parties to go along with the food by the pool. On a couple of nights they didn't have the midnight buffets, but walked around with gourmet bites instead. I didn't care for them, but they always had pizza out too, so I was happy!
Also, room service was fast, and good. We had sandwiches one evening, and my son had dinner in the room another night.
We had 4 oceanview staterooms, no balconies, together. 2 rooms connected. The rooms were very nice, plenty of space, and our cabin steward Gratiella, was very efficient, and just a charm! She cleaned the rooms twice a day, and filled our ice at least 3 times a day, and always had a smile on her face!!
We attended all of the shows (I missed 1) I thought the production numbers they put on were very entertaining. The Celebrity dancers were very talented, and really full of energy. Thien Fu the comedian/juggler was good, but I didn't like the older headliner singer they had one night(Shirley Something.) She performed with a comedian though, and he was funny. The shows were only about an hour long, which worked out well.
The casino was larger than other ships I have been on, but it was still crowded at peek time (like it should be!) Smoking was allowed in there, and that got to me a couple of nights.
The kids programs were good, the counselors were great! Our 8 and 11 year olds participated on and off the whole cruise.
We thought the cruise director, Eric Bohus did a great job! He is responsible for the shows, and ship board activities. I didn't make the connection until the last day, but it turns out we knew each other in college; we graduated together at High Point College, in '81! Once I realized that, we hooked up and reminisced for a while.
I didn't get to the gym, but did play basketball 4 or 5 times. They have a great set up, that is tucked out of the wind, and is full court! It even has lights for night time play. They also had volleyball at Catalina. We played several games with international participation!
San Juan, we walked the shops, then walked along the water outside of the castle walls. The water walk was beautiful, but a little hot, and it didn't really lead anywhere. If anyone does that alk, you don't have to walk to the end!!
Catalina Casa de Campo, most everyone, including the kids did the horseback riding, and had a blast!! They said the handlers let you do more than just walk with the horses, and they saw some great sights! I did Catalina, joined by the rest of the family later in the day. It was a beautiful beach, with a BBQ lunch, and a band.
St Thomas, we ended up going to Coki Beach, and I'm glad we did. The snorkeling was fantastic, we must have seen 30 types of fish, and they are all right off of the beach!! The water was, as my son put it "clearer than our pool!" and the water was warm. If you go there the fish are on the right side of the beach looking out over the water, along the rocks. It felt like we were in an aquarium! If you go there take some money with you, they have stands that make some delicious frozen drinks!! (The Blast and Brown Monkey were our favorites! $5 for 16 oz.)
Nassau, My wife and I stayed on the ship, poolside, enjoying the day, while the rest went shopping. They weren't too impressed, but 3 got their hair braided, and they bought some jewelry.
Other things that stood out:
I was surprised at how clean and blue the pools were. I found out they are salt water pools, but they filter and chlorinate the water like a regular pool, which makes it look so much better.
Speaking of clean, they did a great job of keeping the ship clean too, and they must have done a lot in the middle of the night, because we didn't see people cleaning all of the time.
The pool band was very easy to listen too, and they played a wide variety of music. I wished they played more!
They had a ton of chase lounges around the pool and on the deck above. On sea days, people getting out to the pool late might have trouble finding chairs together, but there were always more on the higher deck that circled the pool, plus there is a better breeze up there. If you are looking for shade, on sea days you better get a chair early. The ship always kept a large supply of towels handy too. Passengers: no problems encountered!! Most everyone was having a good time, and I found most returned my "hi's" and "hellos" with a smile!! Each night at dinner, someone at our table, including the kids was required to make a toast. This turned out to be a really good thing, and we all looked forward to it each night.
There are 2 formal nights on the Millie. (I thought there was only 1 when we went!) There are also at least 2 informal nights (coat & tie requested) a lot of men, including myself, would ditch the coat and tie after dinner and just wear a long sleeve dress shirt with dress pants.
The poolside grill had great tasting hamburgers and fries, which hit the spot about mid week! The Martini Bar offered a large variety of drinks, but they were $8.00 a piece, so we only went there once! We had 30 knot winds one day, 12 ft seas, but the ship handled them well. It rolled some, but not bad.
Aquaspa: Very well done., warm water, nice surroundings. The outside pools were on the cool side, but refreshing on a hot day. There was a lot of artwork throughout the ship. I didn't 'get' most of it. I don't know if it was me or the artists!
Getting off the ship:
Very quick, basically we walked off when our color was called, quickly passed through customs, and to our luggage. We used the trick of tying bright ribbon on our bags, and it worked like a charm!! I used yellow surveyors tape, and spotted our bags in no time. The airport was busy, and it took about 30 minutes to get through security.
As you can tell, we really enjoyed our cruise!! On the last night, one of the kids said it only felt like we had been gone a few days, I think that is the sign of having a good time!
I just returned from an 8 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Century's Millennium. I can not say enough about this vacation. I have not been catered to like this since my wedding day. From the cabin attendant to Guest Relations to our dining staff, it was world class treatment.
This was my first cruise and I traveled with my husband, one year old son, my mother and mother-in-law. My husband and I are both in our early 30's and we were concerned that it would be mostly older people, but there was a good mix on the ship.
Our trip started out poorly when Continental lost my son's baggage. Of all the luggage, his was the one we were most concerned about. It had all of his diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and enough clothes to change 3 times a day. When we got to the ship, Jackie at Guest Relations told us where we could buy supplies and we quickly ran to a grocery store and pharmacy to restock. We missed the signing up for excursions and the Olympic (gourmet dining experience) that most people do when they arrive. Howeverwe were able to sign up for most things we wanted later on.
Once the staff found out about our lost baggage they did everything in their power to make us more comfortable. They laundered all the clothes we had bought for our son free of charge. They also sent us a bottle of champagne and fruit basket to make up for our inconvenience (one that they did not cause!). They also handled all communication with Continental regarding our luggage so we wouldn't have to worry. Luckily, the baggage was found and sent to our first port of call (Puerto Rico).
I have to say the ship was beautiful inside and out. The decor is elegant and not overdone. We were impressed with the storage in the cabins which was deceivingly large. When we first got in our room I was wondering how everything would fit, but there was plenty of room.
I must mention our cabin attendant Cruz who attended to our every need. We received new towels three times a day and if we left our cabin for a moment, when we returned it was cleaned and the bed was made. We would just need to pop our head out of our room and he would be asking if we needed anything. He was excellent. He picked up our garbage several times a day also, which was wonderful since we had dirty diapers to get rid of.
I also have to mention our wonderful dining staff. HR, our waiter, was extremely good. He always told us what the chef's recommendation was and give us his own. He was always right there to take our order and food came quickly. He couldn't do enough for us. Also, Artion, his assistant was wonderful as well. They were very attentive to our son as well. Even waiters not assigned to our table would come over and play with our son. As they got to know us better, they would even come by and take our son for a few moments so that we could eat a course. Our son is an angel for the first hour, but then gets fidgety. Everyone was wonderful with him.
All of the staff was extremely nice, always smiling and always available. I like that at the Ocean Cafe buffet, there were attendants offering to carry your tray or get you a drink if you forgot to get your own. Without fail, everyone was very nice and I was surprised to read past comments about the lack of friendliness on this ship. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The food in the Metropolitan (main dining room) was always good with the exception of one night where I did not like any of the choices. I had the quail and my husband had the lamb and both of us were not thrilled with the dishes. However, HR (noticing we did not eat much) offered to get us something else. We were fine though and made up for it with 2 desserts. That's another wonderful thing, if we wanted to order two entries, we could. Some nights HR would bring us several desserts to try. Pure decadence.
We only got to see the comedian which wasn't bad, and one show while on the ship. Only because we had a baby and didn't take advantage of the sitting services. Both shows were fine. We did take advantage of the Olympic dining experience one night (just the two of us) and it should not be missed. I had the Lobster Volute (bisque), the Chilean Sea Bass and the chocolate souffle for dessert. My husband had the same except he had the Steak Diane as his entree. Everything was incredible and the service impeccable. Try not to sign up for this on any of the formal nights because the Metropolitan is wonderful those nights, and the second to last night they do a presentation of the dining staff which is nice, so that shouldn't be missed either.
We also missed eating at the Midnight Buffets, but did view them. They were very well presented, especially the grand buffet, which is a must see. I was afraid of gaining weight, so I only ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you could eat 24 hours a day on this cruise. I enjoyed all the breakfast buffets, the spa lunches, and all dinner dining. I was extremely pleased.
Oh, another thing I must mention is that our moms were staying together in an ocean view room. My mother-in-law snores and was keeping up my mother, and after a couple of days my mother-in-law went down to Guest Relations to see if she could get another cabin. They gave her an inside cabin FOR FREE. Therefore, both moms had their own rooms and thus we can still have family holidays together!! I thought it was wonderful of Celebrity not to charge her for the extra room and I really appreciate it.
In conclusion, this was probably our best vacation ever. We were treated like royalty and enjoyed every second. We will definitely cruise again with Celebrity!
perfect.....from start to finish.....
the ship, the staff, the cabin, the FOOD, was every bit as great as we knew it would be. Having sailed on the Mercury twice and two Royal Caribbean ships, we prefer Celebrity for food, as truly superior. I think the cabins on both lines are lovely and the gyms on RCCL were better, but the staff was wonderful and the food was outstanding.
flew USAirways from Reagan National to Ft. Lauderdale and that went smoothly as well. a perfect vacation for my mother, my sister and myself. we travel well together, and will now start ot plan next year's cruise.
Just back from Millennium week of March 17, 2002-March 24, 2002. What a beautiful, classy ship. I thought I would write this review or sort of a review and share some of my thoughts about the experience. The weather was beautiful the entire trip and that moon over the water, Wow! It is nothing like standing out on your own balcony watching the ships wake in the moonlight and other cruise ships following in the distance. Feeling the warm breeze on your face. It is really nice being back there on the rear of the ship because you are sheltered from the winds that others experience on the forward balconies.
Really smooth and quick. (Disembarkation was another matter, more on that later) We drove to the port and after waiting in line at the main gate to have our ID's checked, we drove right up to the terminal door, Terminal 18. Directions to all the ships were on every corner. I pulled up, jumped out and a porter helped us get the luggage out of the car. He also assisted my wife with getting all of our heavy luggage inside theterminal. She waited for me there. I asked directions to the parking deck and off I went. One thing to note, make sure you come out the front of the deck because there are not any elevators in the back. I was on level four so I didn't have any problems with the steps but others could. Also, it will not take you where you need to be to catch the shuttle back to the terminal. I was not the only one that made this mistake, I just followed the others around front and there was a shuttle waiting to carry us back.
My wife thought I was gone a long time but I thought it seemed right quick. You do pay 10 bucks a day for parking. It does seem to be a secure deck. I got off the bus at the terminal door and my wife had completed the first check in. We showed our tickets again, grabbed our carry ons and sent them through the x-ray and walked right up to the final ticket counter. It took about two minutes to check our IDs and passports again, set up our on board account and on to the escalator to board the ship. Stopped to have our pictures taken and walked right on the ship. Oh, by the way, the picture was horrible.
I was really impressed with Millie from the outside and could not wait to see her on the inside. We walked into the Grand Foyer and it really is beautiful. Not glitsy, just classy and elegant. The backlit, Onyx staircase is really impressive and it added even a more dramatic effect to the three-story room. We would spend a lot of our leisurely time in the areas above listening to the piano and the wonderful string quartet that played there almost daily. The Captains Cocktail party was held here just before dinner on the first formal night. I have to tell you that there is not an uncomfortable chair or sofa on the ship.
The chairs in the dining rooms, lounges and even the seats in the Celebrity Theater are very comfortable. The art was thought provoking, even if not in my taste, all of it matched the decor perfectly. The glass elevators were interesting to ride and gave a different view of the ocean. My stomach was a little queasy a couple of times on the ride up. I must admit that. The pool area was nice and pretty much the normal cruise ship pool. The "T" pool as I call it, was enjoyable but the greenery was all artificial. Since it is indoors, it would be good to use in cooler climates or in the evenings. All of the lounges are interesting and have great lighting. We would go listen to music or to have a drink before dinner in one of them every day. The Cosmos lounge is on the front of the ship and is beautiful. What a view from up there! The decor is fascinating!
Larger than we thought it would be and the balcony was our favorite. It was big enough to enjoy and to be able to move around out there. It afforded us spectacular views while in port. Two lounge chairs and a table big enough to sit your drink on were provided. We had cabin 9164 aft. The decor was pretty cruise ship typical, but nice. There was plenty of closet space and a nice desk or dressing table area where my wife put on her makeup. There was a small loveseat and table where we sat in the mornings and had our coffee. Our room steward, Steve was excellent and kept out cabin in tiptop shape. He seemed to be around when we needed him and also knew when we were out. He always provided fresh towels and the bathroom was always clean. We never had to call or ask for anything. Great job Steve! He helped to make our vacation special.
Since I had read mixed reviews concerning dining on Millie, we were eager to find out for ourselves. We wanted to see if the cuisine on Celebrity measured up to their much-tooted reputation. In our opinion it did. All of the food was prepared to our liking and if something was not good it was not due to bad quality, just a bad choice. There were things we liked better than others but it was a matter of personal preference Dining in The Metropolitan was wonderful and our waiter and assistant attended to us in a professional and courteous manner. The presentation was some of the best that I have ever seen. The table was beautifully set and they alternated between a vase of fresh orchids and a candle on formal nights. Our waiter was so good that if you ordered iced tea the first night you had it each additional night. The Sommelier was available if you wanted wine with your meal but never was pushy about it. I never had a glass in the dining room because we would usually go to one of the lounges before dinner and have a drink. I did think the wine list was good even though somewhat pricey for the selections provided. I would have preferred to bring my own because I am picky about the wines I like. Let me tell you that the mushroom bisque was absolutely delicious. My wife liked the cold soups that she tried. I could eat my weight in those crispy breadsticks. We did go to The Olympic and really enjoyed the experience. The food quality was not any better than that in the main dining room but it was worth the additional dollars for the pampering. I had New York Strip prepared tableside and my wife had a veal dish. We both agreed they were excellent. The suggested wines for each course could cost you a fortune. I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with my entree that was very good. The Goat Cheese Souffle was terrific, as was my Chocolate Souffle. My wife had the sample platter of Michael Roux desserts that included Crème Broulee, Mint Mousse as well as a few other mini selections. These were all arranged on a plate with a signed Roux chocolate in the center, which was a very nice touch. The cheese course at the end of the meal was fun and I just asked for a sampling of the stronger selections. My wife asked for the milder choices. We then had coffee and they brought us a three-tiered silver tray of assorted chocolates and petit fours. The staff of The Olympic was good but it seemed that they were falling over each other and I noticed a lot of movement that I thought was distracting at times. I did enjoy watching them at work. My wife had her back to most of it and did not notice. I recommend the experience, so go, enjoy and let them pamper you. The buffet in the Ocean grill for Breakfast and Lunch was also very good. For Breakfast, there is nothing that you could possibly want that is not there. A selection of cereals, fruit, cheeses, breads of all kinds to full breakfast fare such as eggs, bacon, sausage and omelet's made to order. Lunch included salads of all kinds, fresh fruits and a different assortment of dishes each day. The Rivera Grill out by the pool served burgers, (the burgers were somewhat dry) great hotdogs and other sandwiches. My wife thought the french-fries were the best she had ever eaten.
On one afternoon we went to Formal Tea in The Metropolitan. Even if you don't enjoy this formal ritual, go at least once. A long table holds all of the food near the entrance to the room as well as an Ice sculpture and the carved fruit animals. After you are seated, each guest is served their own teapot and then you can select your favorite tea from the "Tea Box" as I called it. The little sandwiches are pretty and tasty. I really loved the ones with Shrimp Salad. They actually bring platters of them and let you make your selection. Then comes the dessert cart. The best and I mean best, Strawberry Shortcake I have ever eaten. There are also cheesecakes, tarts and various pastries of all kinds. Informal Tea is also served in the Ocean Grill for those that want to come in their shorts or bathing suits.
Ports of Call:
I am not going to say too much about this. It really does not matter what ship or cruise line you go on. They are going to be the same with any Eastern Caribbean sailing. San Juan has its charm and old world beauty. St. Thomas has great shopping and by far is our favorite Port-of-call on this cruise. Do take the tram ride to Paradise Point as it is worth the fifteen-dollar price for the view it affords. Nassau is Nassau. I can't comment on Catalina Island even though we watched the festivities from our balcony. We did not even leave the ship to go over there. You must tender to the island. I thought it was not very tropical looking and I think the palm trees were planted there to give it a tropical feel. There is not a single palm tree on any of the neighboring islands, that is just my observation. Father Company RCI owns the island. Our dining companions that went said the food was good but the beach was rocky and it was not a great snorkeling site. It was fun to watch the Waverunners and banana riders from the ship.
We thought the entertainment was good and sometimes very good. The first show we did not see but were told it was very good. The second show was entitled Platinum and we both thought it never quite got off the ground. The third production show, Classique, was very well done and I think the voices lended themselves to the numbers better than in the previous show. The Celebrity Dancers were good but not great and the sets and lighting as well as the costumes were very good. The shows for the other evenings consisted of Comedians and a vocalist. We liked them as well. The Celebrity Orchestra was terrific.
Well if anything needs improvement, this is it. Of course the first thing you have to do that morning is go to present yourselves to immigration. Early that morning and I mean early. They start at 6:30 I believe, which is not that bad considering they want you out of your stateroom by 8 a.m. You parade through and each passenger stops briefly to show their identification. When disembarkation begins you basically sit in one of the public areas and wait for your color to be called. (They publish the call order in the ships paper the night before.) The process was fairly smooth and everyone was off the ship within an hour. The problems begin when you leave the terminal. Don't be in a hurry because you will not get out of there quickly. Seas of luggage and passengers waiting for shuttles and the steady stream of taxis caused major traffic jams. Two thousand passengers and also early arriving guest for the next cruise cause a major MESS. Since we had driven down to the port, I had to get back to the mid-port parking garage to get our car and then drive back and pick-up my wife and our luggage. The shuttle could not get in so you stand and wait. I kept thinking that I could walk back to get the car. It is a little further than you think and there are no sidewalks so that idea was quickly forgotten. This is not Celebrity's fault but there has to be a better way. Finally, about an hour later I was able to get back to the terminal and pick up my wife and our luggage.
Did we love the ship? Absolutely. Would we cruise Celebrity again? Definitely! Was the cruise perfect? No, nothing is, but pretty close! Overall it did exceed our expectations in many ways. There were lots of children on this cruise due to Spring Break. I never saw any of them get out of hand and by what I heard they all enjoyed themselves tremendously. They announced that there were 253 on board that week. I had worried about going during this time because of kids being out of school and so forth but it turned out to be fine. My wife and I thought the experience was wonderful. We experienced very few disgruntled people and the ones that were probably just complainers. We did expect a high standard of service and for the most part we got it. All of the crew were very good to us and were always friendly and eager to help you in any way. We never experienced any problems with them at all. Everyone has different expectations of the ship, the cruise line, the crew, food and what matters most to them. There were things that I thought could be worked on but they were just little things. We both talked about the fact that we would like to see more fresh flowers on the ship. There were some, but most of them were silk and in need of replacement. Some of the things that I had read about such as the "vibrations" that are supposedly on Millennium, we never heard. No noise was ever heard from other guests in their stateroom. There were occasional "bumps" from above (we were just under the outside dining area) but they did not bother us. My suggestion, sail this beautiful ship, or one of her sisters, and find out for yourself. Oh, and by the way, get a cabin with a Balcony. It is worth the difference.
Our adventure began Feb.3, 2002--first time on a megaship and first cruise with Celebrity. And this is my first experience doing a review. It'll just be my impressions and perceptions. Bottom line: We had a good time and felt Celebrity did an excellent job.
About UsWe're 59 and 63 y/o married travel junkies from the Midwest. We LOVE exploring this great world of ours. Sometimes we do it by cruising: NCL: Southward-Western Caribbean Ocean Cruise Line: Ocean Princess- Nice to Venice Royal Cruise Line: Crown Odyssey- Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, Portugal Royal Cruise Line: Crown Odyssey- Scandinavian Capitals and St. Petersburg HAL: Maasdam- Alaska Inside Passage Oberoi: Sheherayar- Nile River-Luxor to Aswan Bergdousolu: 92 ft. Turkish gulet (14 passengers)-6 days along Turkey's Turquoise Coast
In December, the mail kept bringing cruise brochures. A warm, mindless, relaxing get-away began sounding very good. Surfing the Internet, Travelocity had a cruise-only 1C balcony cabin on the Millennium for slightly > 50% off brochure rate. We had heard good things about Celebrity and had never been to any of the ports, so we booked it. Within 8 days we had pre-cruise information and all travel documents from Celebrity confirmingour cabin and dining requests. Later, we booked the one shore excursion we did on Celebrity's website and the tickets were delivered to our cabin.
We booked our own air and hotel and went to FLL a day ahead. Stayed at the Best Western Marina right across the waterway from the port. Their airport shuttle picked us up and our room was pleasant and clean. We had a good dinner there in the outdoor dining area adjacent to the pool where there was music. It's right across the street from the Pier 99 water taxi stop which we meant to do. But after the usual hassle to tie up things at work and home and get out the door, we decided to just crash and relax.
The hotel had a shuttle to the port at 12:45 PM, but we wanted to go earlier and took a cab. Arrived at the pier at 11:30 AM and were onboard in about 10 minutes. Very smooth. They took our departure flight information there so debarkation time could be assigned, saving us having to do that later in the cruise. Good idea. The card received serves multiple purposes: cabin key, onboard charge card, and security card for leaving and re-boarding the ship in ports. It's keyed to your photo via the computer system. We left our carry-ons in the cabin and walked through the ship to the Ocean Cafe for lunch. First impression: Maybe we've made a big mistake. Looks like a hotel, not a ship, and too many people. Happily, we settled into our own routine, didn't feel crowded, and came to appreciate and really enjoy the many beautiful public areas.
A 1C (#7185) port side aft on Vista Deck. We loved it! Very comfortable. Plenty of room and storage with queen-sized bed, sofa, chair, coffee table, etc. The balcony was great with the clear panels below the rail so the view was unobstructed. It was wonderful to sit out there in my bathrobe with morning coffee or lie in bed with the door and drapes open looking at and listening to the sea. We always slept with the door open. The cabin was very quiet. It had a connecting door, but the only time we ever heard our neighbors was when they were on their balconies and we had our door open. Announcements from the bridge are the only ones that go into the cabins, so the only one we heard was for the lifeboat drill. The provided bathrobes were really cozy,comfy material but not as heavy as terry cloth. They left them for use the final night and morning. Big towels for beach use are also provided-replaced as used- and picked up the final evening. Our steward, Phillipe, from India provided friendly, flawless service. The water and ice were great--first on a ship that had no "funny" taste.
Smells wonderful --with soothing New Age music playing and beautiful fresh and permanent flowers. There's a lovely sitting area with wicker furniture just above it. We always enjoy buying flowers from street vendors for cabins or hotel rooms, but since our first day and a half were at sea, we picked out an assortment of flowers for $20 and arranged them in a large glass in our cabin. They were still beautiful as we left the ship.
The Young Duo played good dance music before and after dinner in the Rendezvous Lounge. Ron and Sharon were the dance instructors--very intimidating on the dance floor. But they had dance classes most days and were very personable and made the several classes we attended fun. Cosmos had a larger dance floor, but the room seemed to be used more for bingo and games. There was a DJ late evenings but almost no live music there.
Good cappuccino and amaretto coffee--not free, but very reasonably priced. Frequently had pianist or string quartet playing there. Nice.
Gorgeous, comfortable room.
Online @ Celebrity
Nice having internet access available, but expensive-$0.95/minute.
Great place--so pretty with the teak lounge chairs, trees, and statues. The pool was WONDERFUL--so relaxing, just the right temperature, and never crowded when we were there.
Nice equipment with treadmills facing floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bow. But not much air stirring. After one time, we opted for walking the outdoor track in the fresh air, sunshine, and breeze.
We had some nice breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon tea there. It always FELT crowded to me because there were always a lot of people there. But, actually, I never waited in line to get a tray. And we always ate on the aft deck where there are lovely teak tables (with umbrellas) and chairs. Magically, there was always a place for us with no waiting.
We had late seating, table 502--in the very back right by the aft window overlooking the captain's table--which was a good location. It didn't seem as closed in as some of the tables we walked past going in. Our waiter was Yunus form Turkey--very conscientious, hard working, and experienced and graciously helped us resurrect our really limited Turkish vocabulary. Assistant waiter was Peter--a cute young cheeky Aussie (our first experience with waitstaff whose native language is English) who had excellent suggestions on menu choices. They, along with the two other very nice couples we shared the table with, made dinners very enjoyable. The first thing I ate there was probably my favorite--wonderful mushrooms in pastry appetizer. We didn't do the Olympic--heard mixed reviews from those who did. Some thought it was outstanding; others thought it took too long and preferred the restaurant food. We meant to try the alternative dining in the Ocean Grill but never got around to it. In hindsight, the night leaving St. Thomas would have been a good time--my least favorite restaurant night.
Had lunch there once--very tasty food.
Absolutely perfect! Had coffee and juice every morning, breakfast twice, pizza once, iced tea numerous times. (I'm originally from the South and I know iced tea, and it was GREAT--first for that on a ship.) The night after San Juan we couldn't face putting our shoes back on, so we ordered from the restaurant menu and everything arrived exactly as ordered at the perfect temperatures. My husband had a complete dinner and I had 2 appetizers, 2 soups, a salad, and that yummy rum raisin ice cream. All delicious!
The shows are sometimes before and sometimes after dinner, which was different. We went to all except one (the night after San Juan). Except for the last night, we really enjoyed them. Thien Fu (Vietnamese comedian/juggler) was a hoot. The production numbers were very good--sets, lighting, music, dancing all well done. I especially loved the Broadway one. I can never get enough of Les Mis.
Non-existent. There were only talks on TV on organized shore excursions and shopping talks about stores with connections with Celebrity.
On two levels with a good, large selection of books.
The outdoor pool area always looked like a mob scene. There were, however, plenty of lounge chairs on the deck above and comfortable padded chairs in quiet areas along Deck 4.
There was a broad range of ages (strollers to wheelchairs) and nationalities ( mostly US, but a lot of Canadians and Brits and a number of people speaking Spanish and German). All seemed to be having a good time, well behaved and considerate.
We walked from the ship to San Cristobal Fort then along the old city walls and water over to El Morro, exploring each one and enjoying the spectacular views from the ramparts. Then we walked through the Old Town, admiring the painted doors and houses with wrought iron balconies and flower boxes, had cappuccino from a kiosk in the central Plaza and visited with some locals. Good afternoon.
After a lazy start, we took the tender to the island and strolled quite a way along the water's edge then found a couple of isolated lounge chairs under some palm trees and relaxed and read for several hours.
Immigration appearance only necessary for non-US citizens now. We did our only shore excursion here--St. Johns National Park Sightseeing. There was a pleasant ferry ride from the pier to St. Johns with narration on the sights we passed. Then a safari bus ride through the island with stops at beautiful beaches and overlooks and the driver pausing to point out interesting plants and trees with wonderful smells and textures. After returning to the St. Thomas pier, we took a shared taxi into town. Ugh! Breathing exhaust fumes in gridlock traffic is not my idea of a tropical island experience. But, we had the driver take us up to Hotel 1829 after dropping the others in the shopping area. Had a drink on the veranda, enjoying the view, explored the upper level Arts and Crafts shop then walked down into town. My crankiness was cured and we enjoyed a nice lunch in an outdoor cafe on a pedestrian-only street and walked along the water back to the ship.
>From the ship, we walked along the shore-front road to Ft. Charlotte and then on the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo and saw the flamingo show. Took a cab back into town and had wonderful conch chowder and fritters on an upper level veranda of a restaurant on one of the shopping streets.
We don't travel to shop. My meager purchases were souvenir spoons for my collection, Del Rey color-change T shirts for the kids, pirate stuff for a grandson, some neat paper doll sets from El Morro with traditional Puerto Rican and Caribbean outfits for a granddaughter, and the "Under the Captain's Table" book onboard. Our dining companions were knowledgeable shoppers and felt they found better bargains on jewelry, etc. in the shops on the ship than in the towns.
Ports with 4-6 huge cruise ships there at once are not great places to be. We really want to do a crossing and will go with QE2 for traditional style and because the big new ships just look too top heavy to me for that. However, for a resort type vacation experience where you can also enjoy being on the sea, we would definitely sail with Celebrity again. They provided a very high quality experience with flawless service. We're thinking another Celebrity cruise would make a great family vacation with the kids and grandkids.
Picture this: You have just returned to your cabin after the "Welcome Aboard" show. It is 10 pm and you step out onto your aft balcony overlooking the ship's wake. You are mesmerized by a dazzling light show of moon beams creating moving geometric patterns and lines on an ocean rippled by the wake of the ship. On past cruises we have observed spectacular scenes of silvery moonlight rays shining brightly on the ship's wake and on the white crests of the ocean waves, but have never seen such a spectacular vision. This is very hard to describe, but it must be a natural phenomenon like the rainbow, where certain conditions exist to make the optical illusion of a waving checkerboard design. This was magical, the half moon shining over the ship's wake was just stunning. What better reason to have booked an aft cabin? And this was only the first half moon of the lunar cycle, so we were anticipating seven evenings of moonlight spectacles. And each night the moon grew bigger and more beautiful, but not as dazzling as the illusion of the first night.
This was our 24th cruisein the past six years. We sailed on the Millennium last January and booked our wedding anniversary cruise this year in the same cabin #8176. Since we enjoyed our first cruise so much, we returned to relive happy days and excellent accommodations, service and food. From the numbers of repeat Celebrity cruisers aboard this ship, it is obvious many others believe, as we do, that Celebrity "exceeds expectations."
Our reunion with old friends, the unforgettably kind Hotel Manager Dimitrios Anagnostou (Greece) and the cosmopolitan Olympic Restaurant Manager Raffaele Bernardini, was mutually warm; moreover, we made a new friend, the interesting Master of the ship-- Captain Michael Karatzas (Greece) -- more about these unique men later.
The Celebrity ships are easily recognized in port, just look for the big "X" (the Greek letter "Chi" symbol of the Chandris family, the original owner and founder of Celebrity). They have navy blue hulls with a gold stripe around the promenade deck and orange life boats. The Millennium's stats are tonnage 91,000, length 964.6 ft., beam 105.6 ft., draft 26.3 ft. and a cruising speed of 24 knots. She was built by Chantiers L'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France and made her maiden voyage July 2000. Celebrity Cruises has been rated Five Star by Berlitz, and ranks in the top ten cruise lines for service and cuisine (the famous chef Michel Roux oversees the food). The quiet elegance of this ship is kept in exquisite condition under the watchful eyes of Capt. Karatzas and Mr. Anagnostou.
With only one security check point at the entrance of Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, luggage drop off was easy. We filled out a clearance form for the Bahamas and went to the special counter for Captain's Club and were headed toward the elevators in five minutes. On Level 2 a crew member took Vincent's wheelchair and accompanied us aboard. Curbside to cabin in ten minutes, very nice.
After our last cruise on the Carnival Pride, where the extensive decorations by ship designer Joe Farcus overwhelmed us, it was a pleasant return to the sober design of the Millennium. The art work is carefully selected and some of it whimsical, such as a tree picture which seems to be hung upside down, but on close examination it is actually a reflection of a tree in the still waters of a pool. Also on the same Deck 3, near the Grand Foyer is a ceramic bust by Luigi Ontani (Italy) of Christopher Columbus who wears on his head models of his three ships: the "Nina," "Pinta," and the "Santa Maria." But, the cleverest painting is just outside the Casino: It is a very formal looking picture of a group playing cards; the mood is lightened by the eyes of one female player watching a servant to see if she is aiding her opponents in cheating. Throughout the ship there are some "modern art" pieces which remain indecipherable to us, but they may be interesting to others.
Continental Deck 2 is cabins only.
Plaza Deck 3 aft holds the Cinema & Conference Center, midship is the beautiful classic alternative restaurant, the Olympic, with the original walnut paneling from the White Star Liner the Olympic (sister ship to the ill fated Titanic). There is also the original Wine Cellar from the Olympic and a fantastic collection of famous wines. You must make a reservation immediately when boarding, if you wait until mid cruise you may not get one. See the Manager Raffaele for a night you will always remember (more later). Midship is the Grand Foyer with the Guest relations Desk, and the Glass Elevators overlooking the ocean; then there are cabins; and forward is the main floor of the Celebrity Theater with its sofa seats, very nice and comfortable. Its walls are made lovely with torch like illumination.
Promenade Deck 4 has the lower level of the Metropolitan Restaurant and the Rendez Vous Lounge with its dance floor. Midship is the second level of the Grand Foyer with a lighted gold onyx staircase to Deck 5 and the Cova Cafe`. Next is the Fortunes Casino with the classical Greek statues of women with water urns and huge murals of lovely ladies in bucolic settings. Very nice. Then forward is Michael's Club -- a genteel cigar smokers' refuge. Finally, there is the second tier of the Celebrity Theater.
Entertainment Deck 5 aft has the upper level of the Metropolitan Restaurant where we dined early seating at table #525 over looking the Grand Staircase and the lower level with the Captain's table (more about this later). Midship is the beautiful Platinum Club with unique crystal lights and royal purple upholstered chairs and a Champagne Bar with huge urns holding chilling bottles. Walk forward and enter the Grand Foyer and the Cova Cafe` di Milano (reminiscent of the real Cova Pasticceria-Confetteria founded in 1817 across from the famous La Scala Opera House, Milan, Italy). This is the best place to people watch, while having exquisite coffees, teas, cocktails and the finest desserts. Don't miss it. We ran into the Hotel Manager Dimitrios and Captain Karatzas here among others.
Penthouse Deck 6, Vista Deck 7, Panorama Deck 8 and Sky Deck 9 are all cabins, mostly with verandas.
Resort Deck 10 aft has the Ocean Grille and the Ocean Cafe` both serving great food (individually prepared pastas, sushi, an oriental buffet and Pizza from 3 pm to 7 pm and 10 pm to 1 am (hours that we wished were expanded, since first seating dinner would be ruined by pizza that late, how about 11 am to 7 pm?). Eating at the buffet was made pleasant by the linen place mats on the trays, quick assistance with waiters carrying trays and assisting with drinks. This is where a passenger notes how helpful the crew is. Try navigating a buffet in a wheelchair, believe us, it's not easy. Many times we avoid this way of dining, but not on the Millennium, here we enjoyed it. Midship on Deck 10 is the Riviera Pool and hot tubs; forward is the Aqua Spa with its two whirlpools and salt water therapy lap pool surrounded by teak wood chaise lounges and privacy glass walls. All the way forward is the Thermarium and finally the Gym with aerobic and cardiovascular equipment.
Sunrise Deck 11 aft holds "Ship Mates Fun Factory" and the Arcade for the younger cruisers. For the athletic and sports fans there are the Golf Simulators, the Jogging Track and the Extreme Sports Bar with large screen TVs. Here can be found Tom Shannon's (USA) painted fiber glass figures, "Climber," "Fly & Dive," "Snowboarder," etc. and in the stairwell is the "Summer Green" chandelier by Dale Chihuly, a lime green amazing work of blown glass. The Mast Bar, and Aquadome are also on Deck 11. Forward is the Cosmos Night Club with a beautiful 270 degree view of the sea ahead. The interiors match the outside of the ship: Navy Blue and Gold. There is a lighted polished metal dance floor and circular bar with a lighted polished metal space dome. The ceiling sports lighted sea gulls: Fantastic!
Sports Deck 12 has rest of the sports areas: an open deck area and the basketball court.
We chose the same cabin #8176 as last year, since it is so spacious (538 sq. ft. including balcony). When entering on the left there is a huge bathroom with safety rails. Then there is a queen bed, two night stands with lamps, a love seat and glass coffee table. On the right there is a mirrored wall and a triple wardrobe: The first two sections have hangers and the next section holds eight drawers and the personal safe. There is a lighted vanity/desk with two more cupboards. The far wall is glassed with a sliding door to the huge veranda with two chairs, a table and two chaise lounges. by far an excellent reason to book the aft cabins is this extraordinary balcony overlooking the ship's wake. Our cabin stewardess Maria was phenomenal, always smiling and everything in order. This is the only ship that does not remove the complimentary robes the night before debarkation. The butler Paul (India) delivered fresh fruit daily, High Tea at 4 pm and Canapes at 5 and always pleasantly smiling. The credit for the impeccable condition of the staterooms must also be given to the supervision of the capable Chief Housekeeper Georgios Dimakareas (Greece) and his watchful assistant Nilde.
FOOD & SERVICE
The Metropolitan Restaurant serves the unique recipes of the culinary master Michel Roux under the direction of the very young and serious about food Executive Chef Christophe Belin (France). Restaurant Manager Zbigniew Ludwicki (Poland) orchestrates the wonderful service and Asst. Maitre d' Zbigniew Warchol (Poland) is vigilant of his waiters. Our waiter Dragan (Croatia) and Asst. Waiter Walter Paz (Honduras) were fast, flawless and friendly. This restaurant, unlike many others on ships, was always full for the dinners were events. Imagine serving upwards of 9,000 meals per day and all so delicious!
Some of the more memorable dishes were as follows: Appetizers, such as shrimp cocktail, prosciutto with melon and mushroom Pate` Confit. Breads were excellent especially the breadsticks served daily (the fennel seeded ones were the best). There was a nice variety of both hot and cold soups. Salads were interesting and Caesar salad was always available. Entrees included excellent veal, beef, chicken and don't miss the rack of lamb or the stuffed quail (a light bread and giblet stuffing). Our compliments to the chef. Celebrity is one of the few lines to still have sommeliers in the dining rooms; this is a plus for Vincent who drinks wine with his meals.
We enjoyed dinner at the beautifully decorated Captain's table (a centerpiece of cymbidium orchids as lovely as the single rose that the Captain gave each lady at the dinner): Escargot, Pate` Confit, Carolina soup, Tornados of Beef au jus, Petit Fours and two wines, a dry white and a medium body red. Captain Karatzas is a delightful host and Mary, seated next to him, was happy to engage in conversation about the ship, safety (which he cannot stress enough), and world events (on which he is well versed) and of course his beloved home Athens, Greece. He is "an Officer and a Gentleman" and imparts confidence to the passengers as Master of this marvelous ship.
The only thing that can rival dinner at the Captain's Table is dining at the Olympic. This restaurant oozes atmosphere with the beautiful walnut paneling with its festoons of gold gilt. In this formal ambiance, we dined on a meal selected personally by our friend the Manager Raffaele Bernardini: Vincent's shrimp were prepared table side with arugula and Balsamic vinegar -- a culinary experience; Mary's Russian Salad was superb. Just when you think nothing can top this -- the desserts do: moist chocolate Souffle, no tiny tid bit, but large enough to serve two. Dinner is topped off with a tiered tray of petit fours. Ah, memories are made of this! Raffaele has trained his staff personally and the service is impeccable. Don't miss this opportunity. You may never dine like this at sea again.
The twenty-four hour room service is quick and extensive. We had a full breakfast served in our cabin every morning. And this is the first time we had continental breakfast served in the cabin on the morning of debarkation.
Cruise Director Eric Bohus, also an excellent tenor, is the friendliest person on board. He organized a series of activities that were bound to keep cruisers engaged: Library Trivia (of which we each won one) Team Trivia, Bingo (jackpots over $1,000) Bridge, Computer Class, Darts, Shuffleboard, Table Tennis, Movies, Golf putting, and the evening shows. Show time was on a par with other lines, but noteworthy was dancer Meisha Lee featured in several numbers. Headliner Thien Fu, juggler/comedian, was funny and the married team of Shirley Harmer and Beni Mason were great in their imitation of Louis Prima and Keeley Smith.
Around the ship various entertainers were excellent: The Enigma String Quartet who played in the foyer and nightly in the dining room; Melanie the harpist performed in the Cova; however, most enjoyable were the "Young Duo" Gianni and Gabriella who played nightly in the Rendez Vous Lounge Deck 4. This was always crowded, but, they could also be seen and heard from the balcony above in the Platinum Club.
Social Hostesses Katrina Crow and Sarah Van Pevenage were very friendly and busy, busy, busy looking after everyone. Thanks so much.
This cruise is one we won't forget easily for the many friends we revisited and the many new ones we made. We were sad to say farewell to Dimitrios Anagnostou who made our cruise so memorable; we shall return to Celebrity soon.
PORTS OF CALL
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Arrival: 1 pm. Departure: 8 pm. The following are some of the shore excursions offered by Celebrity:
1. Old & New City Tour, 2 1/2 hrs. Very nice with a stop at San Cristobal Fortress and down town shopping time ($23).
2. Rain Forest Full Day (with lunch and swimming), 6 to 7 hrs. ($58).
3. City Tour and Bacardi Rum Distillery, 4 hrs. ($26).
Catalina Island, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Arrival: 7 am. Departure: 5 pm. In addition to the beautiful beach and barbecue hosted by the ship's crew on this private island, the following are some of the excursions:
1. Altos De Chavon Village and Folk Show, 4 hrs. ($46).
2. Horseback Riding at Casa De Campo, 4 hrs. ($72).
3. Kayak Adventure on the Chavon River, 4 hrs. ($72).
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Thursday, Arrival: 8 am. Departure: 6 pm. Shopping is the best here. Don't forget the best linens for the best prices at Mr. Tablecloth. This is an obligatory stop for Mary. Many tours are offered by the ship. Some of them are listed here:
1. Island Sights Tour, 3 hrs. A must for the first time ($34).
2. Island Drive and Coral World, a visit to the Underwater Observatory and Marine Park, 3 hrs. ($41).
3. St. John Safari/Snorkeling, a bus ride through the Rockefeller's U.S. National Park to Trunk Bay, beach combing, sunbathing and snorkeling, 4 hrs. ($48). Other tours and activities offered on St. Thomas include scuba, beach, Kon-tiki Party Boat, sea plane and helicopter tours, kayaking, biking, sky ride to Paradise Point, etc. which can be purchased at the Excursion Desk or arranged individually.
Nassau, Bahamas, Saturday, Arrival: 12 noon. Departure: 6 pm.
1. Nassau & Paradise Island Tour, 2 hrs. ($22). This is interesting for first timers.
2. Seaworld Explorer Glass Bottom Boat, a tour of the Underwater Marine Park at Athol Island, 1 1/2 hrs. ($42).
3. Blackbeards Cay Beach Break, a relaxing time on this beautiful beach with chair and drink included, 3 hrs. ($21).
Vincent had wheelchair assistance from the Grand Foyer to the luggage pickup. A porter took our luggage curb side, where we met our daughter-in-law Paige who drove us home by 9:30 am.
After such a great cruise there is very little to suggest for improvement. This is one of very few ships which offer drinkable (odor-free) water in dining rooms and staterooms. One of the frequent complaints we have made in our cruise reviews has been the chlorine taste of drinking water, ice cubes and beverages aboard most of the ships. We also have found the pasta in the dining room and at the Ocean Grill to be palatable, even though not al dente, it was not gluey or overcooked. We have not tried the pizza, but we were told by others that it was good. The complaint for the pizza was the serving hours (3:00 pm to 7:00 pm), too short compared to other cruise lines. The following are some minor points which, in our opinion, would make this one of the best valued cruise in the competitive market of this industry:
1. Make the pizza hours longer; some cruise lines have pizza available as long as 24 hours.
2. Have crew members curb side to help with wheelchairs for embarkation.
3. Let cruisers know about the "Dialysis at Sea" program. There may be people who feel they cannot travel because of their kidney disease and this program could be just what they need. We met a cruiser using the dialysis aboard. She was on her second cruise and very happy with this opportunity.
With the sweet memories of this cruise we are looking forward to two others which we have booked for the near future: one to South America on the Norwegian Dream, March 3rd, mainly for the very interesting itinerary (Patagonia, the Falkland Islands, the Strait of Magellan and the Chilean Fjords) and the next on the Costa Atlantica, April 7th, to revisit this beautiful ship, a floating art museum. Happy Cruising!