by Andy Taylor
Having had our Nov. 2000 cruise on the Millennium canceled we were anxious to finally get to see what this ship was all about one year later. Our only other Celebrity experience had been sailing on the Horizon twice previously, so we wondered how we would react to the ship being twice the size. Having not done a Century class ship (but booked for the Mercury next March) the comparison between the Horizon and Millennium doesn't seem quite fair as the ships are 10 years apart in age and really quite different.
I'm not going to get into the decor issues too much since everyone has seen countless pictures and opinions of this ship. Basically, she is a stunning ship with Celebrity's well-known tasteful elegance and wonderful art.
We arrived in Ft Lauderdale the night before and stayed at the Amerisuites. I was not impressed with this hotel and would stay elsewhere in the future. It just didn't have any style at all.
We went to the port about 10:30 AM on embarkation day. There were still people leaving the ship but after only about a half-hour wait, they started embarkation. Being Captain's club members we thought we would get preferential embarkation but what we got was just a different door to go through into the check-in area. Once in there, they had only 2 Captain's Club lines so we queued up with the regular pax. It didn't take long though and we were on the ship by 11:30 AM. This early embarkation gives you a chance to tour the ship but cabins are not ready until 1 PM.
As mentioned, a lot has been said about this ship and her decor so I won't spend too much time on it. She is classy and beautiful with very few exceptions. I still don't understand or like the Casino, it just doesn't look like Celebrity to me. That said, it was one of the busiest Casinos we have seen on a cruise and we both came out ahead about $100 for the trip, a first for us!
The cabins are beautiful and restful. We had a 1B balcony cabin on deck 8 and found it to be the nicest cabin we have had to date. Plenty of room, soft lighting and a decent sized balcony combined with a good use of mirrors, travertine marble and light wood paneling suited our tastes perfectly. The only down side that we noticed was that the closet space and bathroom seemed less than on the Horizon class ships. Also, our sliding glass door and balcony glass railing weren't cleaned until the last day of the trip. Guess they only do them every other sailing. It was no big deal and I cleaned it myself with little effort. I would not recommend the 1A cabins on deck 9 however. The overhang from the pool deck is just too close to your head and limits the view of the sky from those balconies.
There are plenty of lounge areas on this ship and they were all well used. It was a vibrant happy crowd and we enjoyed watching everyone have a good time.
The main dining room is stunning and we managed to get one of the best tables. We had a table right next to the Captain's Table right by the two story wall of glass at the stern. It was great.
The Olympic restaurant is unbelievable. We had a table in the back part (larger and lighter). The food was to die for, you haven't lived until you have tasted the goat cheese souffle, and the service was the best we have ever had in any restaurant in the world. High praise indeed, and well worth the additional cost.
The Ocean cafe was a mess. Lines every time we were in there. They had the capacity for four lines but frequently only had two open at a time. I also had a real problem with their sneeze guards. It was really hard to reach in to get anything. We also frequently had problems finding tables. During afternoon tea, they only had one coffee/tea station open and if you were on the wrong side of the ship it was quite a hike to get over to it. For some reason, the aft stairs don't have a passageway from one side of the Ocean cafe to the other and this made for long walks to get from one side to the other. This area definitely needs work.
The pool area is barely adequate for a ship this size. I also think that the trellis type things they have all over the space just makes it look junked up and messy. They don't provide any shade or any purpose that I could tell either. That said, we never had any problem finding a deck chair on this ship. One of my favorite spots was on the promenade deck on the shady side of the ship. Perfect for reading, snoozing or just watching the sea go by. Very few people seemed to find this space too.
The spa pool is nice but I just prefer an outdoor pool. The spa itself is lovely and large. I did hear tons of complaints about Steiner's though and don't understand why the cruise industry doesn't try to tone them down. We met a couple who got conned into purchasing $600 in products after their massage! After my massage the therapist tried to add some product to my bill without even telling me the cost. This type of selling by intimidation is appalling.
I guess this happens on all cruise lines but since this was our third time on Celebrity it was really noticeable. Why do we have to see the same menu the same day on every cruise we go on. I would think that they could at least vary them by ship. The food was still very good for the most part but it is starting to become repetitive. Except for two meals, the main dining room was wonderful. The two meals that we didn't care for were just wrong choices on our part, but that doesn't excuse them being overcooked and dry.
I thought the food in the Ocean Cafe didn't seem as good as on the Horizon but Chuck didn't agree with me. The afternoon tea however, remains wonderful and a highlight of our days. I just love how they have different little imaginative sandwiches every day.
We found the service on the ship to be basically up to Celebrity's high standards. Our cabin steward was superb, our waiter great and of course the service in the Olympic, unbeatable.
The bar staff was very good and we ran into two of our favorites from our last Horizon cruise. It was great to see them.
We did seem to notice less maintenance going on around the ship and once in the Ocean cafe we noticed a server eating some pizza (I'm sure that is a no-no). The ship was still gleaming and clean though and seemed in great shape.
What can I say, San Juan is San Juan, St Thomas, Nassau, nothing new. Catalina Island was pretty but it got really crowded by noon and we retreated to the empty ship. We took this cruise for the ship and the relaxation. Didn't do one shore excursion and only went to one show in the theater (having seen all of them before, another problem with cruising the same line over and over again). The two days at sea were great though and all in all we enjoyed the cruise.
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. It was wonderful to get away for a week after all the mess going on the world lately. The Millennium is a lovely ship with many positive points to her. She really didn't seem too large to us but we are really looking forward to trying out the Mercury next. I have a feeling that the Century class ships might turn out to be our favorites. Only three and a half months until we sail on her!
If you are interested in pictures from this cruise, look at my cruise page at: http://members2.clubphoto.com/andrew89261