July 22, 2002
The Ship - The ship was beautiful even though it's showing a bit of wear. It was very clean and day and night the crew was polishing and cleaning it. The staterooms are very nice and spacious. We had a Cat. 1 with a veranda and had plenty of closet and drawer space. There are shampoo and lotion dispensers in the bathroom along with a blow dryer. We brought extra hangers and were glad that we did. The dining room was two story and nicely laid out with views of the ocean from just about every table. The casino was a bit small for all the action that was taking place in it. It was very crowded just about every evening and not laid out well. We were tripping over each other when the casino was busy. We saw quite a few jackpot winners! The chairs by the main pool were occupied every day and you had to get there very early if you wanted a chaise lounge. One of our favorite places was the Cosmos Lounge on Level 11. It was pure heaven to sit up there during sea days and get a panoramic view of the ocean. We also loved eating lunch or a late breakfast behind the buffet all the way aft. You're basically sitting at the very back of the ship, outdoors, under picnic type tables. Not many people took advantage of this outdoor space, but it was a perfect place to enjoy a cup of morning coffee while you watched the sea.
The Food - There were many complaints about the food, almost all from people who had cruised Celebrity before. Those who sailed other Celebrity ships claimed that the food on the Millie was inferior. The two main complaints were the quality of the food (it was inconsistent) and the menu selections. My husband and I found the food to be good, not great. We agreed about the menu selections, though. Some nights it was a stretch to find something we liked. We're not huge fish eaters, and usually two of the four selections were fish based. The menu offered shrimp one night, lobster one night, fillet two nights and prime rib two nights. One of our tablemates had chicken every night because she couldn't find anything she really liked on the menu. (you can order chicken, salmon or steak any night even if it's not on the menu...same with shrimp cocktail for an appetizer) Some of the fish selections were species we never heard of, such as Hake. This could be an east coast/west coast thing, though. (we're from the west coast) The first three nights offered the best selections. I liked the selections better on NCL, RCI and even Carnival!
We tried the Olympic dining room one night. It was a beautiful room! We had a very nice time, but probably wouldn't do it again. The service was extremely attentive....almost too attentive. There was always a waiter standing behind you and if you dropped a crumb, he was right there to sweep it up. Personally, I was a bit uncomfortable with this. It was difficult to have a conversation with the waiters standing next to you. The food was good, but not outstanding. If we ordered the suggested wines our bill would have been over $300!
The ocean grill is open for casual dining every night from 6:00 to 9:00. They have two menus that they alternate. You order your main dish from the menu and the soup, salad and dessert are buffet style. We really enjoyed ordering room service for breakfast on port days. You fill out the room service card that is found in the back of your Celebrity Directory of Services book that will be in your room. A nice touch is that they call you a few minutes before room service comes to give you time to be prepared. This was great and the eggs and coffee were always hot and good!
We had early seating and at first I didn't want that, but the ship was full and we couldn't be changed. I ended up being thrilled that we weren't changed. First of all, we had a table with the very best tablemates! We had a great time every evening and ended up doing many activities together. Secondly, we were able to see the evening show at 9:00 instead of 10:45. We never felt rushed getting ready for dinner, even after a day at port. The day we went to Aruba, everyone at the table agreed that we wanted to spend as much time there as possible so we made reservations at the Ocean Grille for 7:00 and met there instead of the main dining room. It was a perfect solution so we could each do our "thing" at port and still enjoy each others company for dinner.
Ports - We loved Key West! It's such a pretty, quaint town. We booked a tour off the internet and had a blast! We drove our own two person speedboats around the mangroves and islands (we followed a guide!) and saw the backyards of multi-million dollar homes. We were on the lookout for manatees, but unfortunately didn't spot one that day. Then, following the guide, we took off into the ocean to a small bay where we snorkled in clear, warm water. The tour lasted about 3 hours - from 9:30 till 12:30. We had about an hour to walk around the town before heading over to the tandem. The tour was from www.jungletour.com <http://www.jungletour.com> and was a lot of fun!
Cozumel - We went to the Nachi Cacoom Beach Club. The sand was pure white and the water was as clear as can be. It usually costs $5 per person to use the chalupas and chaise lounges, but if you're going to buy a drink or lunch, they don't charge you to use the facilities. We sat under the grass chalupas and had a wonderful swimming and snorkeling in the water. They have a nice restaurant there, and also food and drink service directly to your chairs. This beach was not crowded at all and when we passed the ones that the ship recommended, they looked mobbed! Try to get there before noon to get a nice chalupa next to the water. It's a $15 cab ride each way, so see if another couple wants to join you. There are water sports here also...jet skis, parasailing, etc.
Costa Rica - We booked the Tortuguero Canal tour through the ship. We thought the tour was way to expensive for what you got. We saw a few monkeys, a toucan, sloths, a few iguanas but no crocodiles because it was a misty day, If I were to do this port again I would book a tour off the ship from one of the many tour guides that were waiting on the pier. They not only gave you the canal tour, but also the banana plant tour and a beach tour for half the money the ship charged. Everyone we spoke with who took the "off the pier" tour loved it!
Take the free shuttle or walk over to the shopping area. It's an open air flea market and is a lot of fun! This is where you'll find the best prices on their coffee. Panama - We booked the Two Ocean Railroad tour through the ship. It was a pretty good tour...the train was beautiful! We were lucky enough to see a ship pass through the first lock. The Guten Lake is huge and you'll pass right by it. We spotted many monkeys in the trees and a few large turtles roaming by the sides of the tracks near the Lake. If you go into the shopping area right off the pier, bring your camera! You'll find kids walking around with their pet spider and white faced monkeys along with exotic birds etc. For a dollar you'll get a fun shot of yourself holding a monkey. You'll also get a bit of a surprise when you come out of the shopping center and head towards the ship....you'll find a group of Native Panamanians dancing. This might not seem surprising, but they are in all stages of undress (women topless and men have the bottoms bared) and they have green symbols painted all over them. It's a riot watching everyone gather around them!
Aruba - We took a taxi to Palm Beach and were let off at the Marriott Hotel, which is the last hotel on Palm Beach. The hotel is beautiful and after you walk through the lobby (which is where the casino is located) you'll pass a small bridge with a sign that says, "Iguanas Passing" They aren't kidding! There were iguanas walking around this area everywhere you looked and some were huge! Great Kodak moment! We paid $10 for the use of the facilities. We found a chalupa right on the water and the attendant fixed our lounge chairs with Marriott towels. The water was great, the sand was soft and it was nice and shady under the chalupa. Every 15 minutes or so we ventured into the water to float around or snorkel. You can rent floats for $5 for the day or jet ski, etc. We loved having the waiters come to our lounges and take our drink orders and just enjoyed the perfect day.
Grand Cayman - We booked a Stingray City tour off the internet. The tour guide met us at the pier and took us to the Grand Cayman Yacht Club. There we boarded a beautiful yacht and went through the harbor past million dollar homes and out into the sea to the sandbar. This is a MUST DO! The stingrays are as tame as can be and you have to touch them to believe how smooth they are. Our tour guides were wonderful and there were only 18 of us on the yacht. The guides provided the food for the rays and they were in the water with us lifting them up for us to hold and taking pictures of us, etc. After stingray city, the guides took us to Coral Reef where we snorkeled and saw the most amazing fish. The guides provided all the equipment along with floating vests if you wanted it. The price of this tour was $25 per person and lasted just under 3 hours. A nice touch was that we were given the choice of going back to the pier or going to Seven Mile Beach. We chose the beach and again had a ball. The water temp was 88 degrees! The outfit we took the tour with was www.nativewaywatersports.com. I highly recommend them!
Crew - The crew was great! Always a smile and a friendly hello and always willing to help out. Our waiters were perfect, bartenders and drink people were friendly and not pushy and the hostesses seemed to have a ball with their job and tried to get everyone involved. The captain's wife gave a talk to promote her book. If you buy it, read chapter 3 right away!!! WOW!!!! I think the only one we didn't see with a smile on his/her face was the captain himself. I guess he read Chapter 3 of his wife's book!
Glitches - We had a wonderful cruise and the time of our lives! There were just a few things that bothered us and I think the biggest was the rude people on the ship. Some groups didn't think twice about walking right in front of you or cutting in lines, saving rows of seats in the theater, etc. I don't know if this was a language barrier problem or different customs from different countries, or what. There were many large groups of Europeans on the ship and maybe in their countries people are so congested that pushing in front of others is normal...don't know. But, they sure didn't follow by American ways and many, many people were getting visibly upset with their behaviors. We actually witnessed two near fights when a group of 8 cut in line to be with their tour friends. The groups were large...not family groups, but tour groups, and they tended to let everyone in their tour cut in line with them.
Another problem was the pre-teens and teens. Some of them seemed to have nothing to do so decided to run through the ship and play havoc with the elevators, ice tea machines, ice machines, etc. The last few days of the cruise were the worst. I think 11 days may have been too long for some of the kids. We spoke with the teens every chance we could to see if they were enjoying the cruise because we almost brought our 16 yr. old. All of them said the same thing...they were bored! I don't think Celebrity had enough activities for the teen groups.
Last but not least was our cabin stewart. He wasn't very accommodating. One afternoon I asked him for ice and he told me that he would re-fill it at 6:00pm. It was 4:00 and the ice was melted so I asked if he could bring some sooner. "No", he said. "I only bring ice at 10:00am and 6:00pm." I almost had to laugh! I asked him to make an exception and to make that exception quickly! LOL!!!
On the last full day at sea my husband and I were packing up. We decided to order room service for lunch and enjoy the balcony for our last day. I went to look for the room service menu which is in the Directory of Services book. The book was gone so I went to ask John (our steward) if I could have the book back for a few minutes. (the stewards take the book from the room on the last evening so you can't take it home with you) John told me that he didn't want us to have room service that day because he was "busy getting ready for the next cruise." He suggested that we eat in the buffet. I ended up ordering room service through the TV, so everything was fine in the end, but the room steward's attitude was not great for the whole 11 days.
**TIP - This was amazing to me, but you can buy booze on the ship and bring it right back to your room!! They don't hold it till the end of the trip. Just tell them that you want to bring it to your room and they will bag it and let you take it there. This sure saved us a lot of money especially since the liquor is so inexpensive in the shops!
Don't miss going through the Observatory. This is where one lone man designs and produces all the flower arrangements you see on the ship. The place is just amazing. It's located on the 10th and 11th levels (two stories).