by Liz Harper
November 11, 2001
Cabin No: 8148
My husband, myself and my six year old daughter have just returned from our 7 night, eastern caribbean cruise to Puerto Rico, Catalina Island (Dominican Republic), St. Thomas and Nassau. This was our fifth cruise, the second with Celebrity. We sailed on the Century last year.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale airport and took a taxi ($10) to Port Everglades. As described in previous Millennium reviews, the ship is absolutely wonderful. The ship is easy to negotiate, the art is stunning throughout the ship and is elegant in every way. We received an upgrade from an outside cabin to a premium deluxe with verandah - totally hooked on a verandah now - I have the BEST TA in the business! Embarkation very smooth as we are Captain's Club members, we just walked right past the lines and were onboard within 10 minutes.
Our stateroom attendant was an interesting fellow (John from India). I requested that he remove all the alcohol from the mini bar so that I could put in my daughters fruit juice. He refused and said "where do you expect me to put the stuff I remove?". Oh well, onward .... Our luggage did not arrive in time for main dining (6pm) so we went to dinner in our travelling clothes, no problem, most people were wrinked as well.
Returning to our cabin, we found our luggage and the our bed had been turned down and the sofa bed made up, just with a sheet & blanket on the top. I called John and requested he pull out the sofa bed, so my daughter could have a proper bed. He refused, saying that they only pulled out the sofa for adults! Oh dear, strike two for John, I went down to Guest Relations and spoke with a totally disinterested young man, who did not apologize but promised to send someone up to our cabin to make up the bed - it was 10:10pm. No one appeared, so my husband had to figure out how to pull out the bed and we made it up.
Our next day at sea was spent in the sun, by the pool and also spent time in the Aqua Spa. This is a wonderful place, of course parents did not heed the notices and allowed their young kids to swim. We did not notice any problem with regards lack of deck recliners and people seemed considerate about saving chairs.
Overall Food Impression: we ate breakfast in the Metropolitan and the Ocean Cafe, both offered good selections. People for some reason did not realise that there were various stations around the Ocean Cafe that served food, so there was always a bottleneck at the entrance. Take the time to walk aft of the Ocean Cafe, you will find fewer people in line and a quiet place to eat. We always ate lunch in the Ocean Cafe, again a good selection, but unimaginative desserts. Dinner in the Metropolitan was always good, but the actual food never quite lived up to the menu description. The appetizers seemed better than the entrees, which although beatifully presented lacked taste. As in previous reviews, I concur that service in the Dining Room is very slow and our assistant waiter never quite managed to get the salad dressings, or entree sauces to the plates before we were halfway through, water refills were slow. Our maitre d' (Robert) visited our table every evening and was most pleasant, he made a special effort each evening to hurry the childrens food, which was appreciated by us all.
Overall Entertanment: all the production shows were good, the singers and dancers very talented, but I seem to recall we saw the same shows on the Century last year. The Cruise Director was a pleasant guy (Eric Bohus) and I rated him highly until his comment on the last day. He asked that all guests mark their questionnaires "excellent" even if the service or entertainment was good or only fair. He said that the Miami office only wanted to see excellent comments. This is a bizarre situation - Eric (or Miami) don't seem to realize that there is a vast difference between something being good & something being excellent.
Shore Excurion/Guest Relations Personnel: as on the Century, the personnel behind the desks in these two areas, seem totally disinterested in the guest, seem to look right through you and talk AT you, rather than TO you.
Immigration Procedures: Since 9/11 there are new immigration/customs procedures when entering St. Thomas - ALL guest, both US citizens and non-US citizens must present themselves to immigration officers. This is a chaotic couple of hours, spent in line. US citizens report to the Celebrity Theater, non US to the Cosomos Lounge. Our problem was that we are a dual nationality family and my daughter is too young to stand in line by herself in a different location to us. Again, Guest Relations were unable to comprehend this and just told me to basically suck it up and stand in line in both locations. Fortunately for us, one of the Officers in the Cosmos Lounge took pity on us and called downstairs and told them to check my daughter off their list. This saved us about 1 hour, it took about an hour to get though immigration. This procedure is repeated upon returning to Fort Lauderdale.
Fun Factory: My daughter utilized the Fun Factory every single day, and had a blast. There were only a total of 45 kids on board (300 will be onboard Thanksgiving week). The activities were varied and the outside play area was terrific. A job well done by the youth counsellors.
Public Areas: all the public areas are tastefully decorated, but the restrooms were never spotlessly clean. In fact outside the Metropolitan Dining Room, the restrooms were filthy.
Catalina Island: this is a great beach day, the beach is wonderful and I would not recommend any of the shore excursions as they are very travel intensive. We had a terrific day on the beach, the tenders went back and forward all day, lunch was served under cover.
Guests: oh dear, what has happened to us. Never have I encountered such rude, bad mannered people. I am trying to raise my 6 year old to be a polite young lady. Very difficult when many of the elderly guests pushed, shoved, rushed past you to get into the elevator or failed to step aside so you could get off the elevator. Generally people were loud mouthed, quick to critize out loud to anyone who would listen - perhaps this is an indication of where the cruise industry is going with all these rock bottom cruise fares. Please do not misunderstand, I am no meek, mild individual - but there used to be a saying of "not airing your laundry in public". I found out more than I ever need or wanted to know about some of my fellow guests! Of course we did meet many wonderful people and our table mates were most pleasant.
Our general overall experience was wonderful, we would definitley sail Celebrity again. I think some of the negatives I mention above (slow waiters, guest relations personnel) are not enought to ruin our vacation, but worth mentioning.