September 13, 2002
The idea of a cruise first came to mind while planning a trip to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. We had been discussing various vacation options when my wife mentioned a cruise. A colleague at work had told her about an article in the Globe & Mail (Toronto, National newspaper), the article introduced and rated various cruise lines. Each line was described offering information on ship sizes, number of passengers, age groups targeted, activities, food, etc. . Based on this information we tended to lean to HAL or Celebrity and did some online research. The Celebrity's Millennium, 10-day southern Caribbean itinerary appealed to us both. We contacted a TA, who agreed that Celebrity would probably appeal to us based on what we told her and what we were looking for. So we booked our trip and paid our deposit. Were we doing the right thing? Neither of us had ever cruised before. Would we like it? Would we be seasick? Would this type of vacation work for us?
The ship is beautiful. The ship's lounges and bars are beautiful each with their own appeal one of which would please different age groups and musical interests. From ballroom dancing in the Rendezvous lounge to disco in Cosmos, the elegance of a Martini in the Platinum club, to a football game on satellite TV in the Extreme sports bar. The dining experience (all meals) was superb whether dining in the Metropolitan the main dining room or, one of the alternative dining rooms (Ocean café / grill, Aqua spa buffet. There us always someplace open and serving to have a meal, tea, coffee, ice tea, punch or lemonade. If not room service is available 24 hours a day. The Olympic restaurant, the specialty restaurant, was an experience beyond belief. The additional cost of $25pp was money well spent. The waiters in Tuxedos were at your service at all times. The table set with fine china, crystal and silverware. Our meals were presented tableside. The menu selection & wine menu are superb. The sommelier, will offer wines from the wine cellar. Wine price range from $25 a bottle up to wines in the $100's of dollars. We choose to bring our own wine, which we brought to the dining room earlier in the day to have chilled, and pay the $15 plus tax corkage fee. I must admit this was the only disappointment. When we told the sommelier that he would be serving our wine, he was not discreet enough to hide is disappointment that we would not be ordering from the wine menu.
The pools and hot tubs were excellent, yes there are still some tiles missing in the shallow, this seems to be an issue, which is frequently mentioned in review. I imagine at some point Celebrity should fix this. The Aqua spa with the Thalassotherapy pool is an experience not to be missed and is a nice escape from the rain when you are at the open-air pool. We did not purchase any of the spa packages nor did my wife have her hair done at the beauty parlor but we did hear from those who had, that the services were excellent but needed to be reserved in advance. The fitness club was well equipped with a trainer there to offer advice on how to use the equipment and offer personalized services. A feature of the Aqua spa we did enjoy was the buffet, which offered light and nourishing meals.
The Celebrity theatre offered nightly entertainment, we had chosen late seating for our meals and the evening shows for late seating were arranged either prior to dinner or after dinner. The pre dinner shows were at 7:00 p.m. and the post dinner shows were at 10:45 p.m. We liked this way of scheduling. If you weren't up to those late night shows you didn't miss all the shows. For, our part we only missed one show. We found the shows to be of professional quality ranging form light entertainment such as the comedian/juggler, the magician, song and dance shows and musical shows. I won't go into the specific names or acts but all were superb productions and very entertaining.
Our Ports of call were, St. Maarten, St, Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, and St. Thomas. Each island has it's own natural beauty and personality. This being our first cruise and visit to the islands we booked our shore excursions with Celebrity. In St. Maarten we did the Regatta sailing, which was a thrilling adventure. In St. Lucia we did the Land/Sea tour to Souffreiers. This tour was exceptional and highly recommended. In Barbados we booked the Harrison Caves excursion. The beauty of the caves is breath taking. In St. Kitts we choose the Nature Kayaking, what a wonderful explore the St. Kitts' coastline and paddle in the Caribbean Sea. When we arrived in St. Thomas our planned excursion "Escape the Magen's Bay" was cancelled due to lack of participation and our shipboard account was credited with our refund. So on we decide to strike out on our own. We took a Taxi island tour, which showed us the island highlights, and following the cab driver's advice we chose Coki beach over Magen's Bay to swim a snorkel. We arranged with the Cab driver to comeback and pick us up two hours later. The cab arrived precisely at the arranged time and returned us to the ship. We paid our cab fare only when arriving at the pier, our total fare was $20/pp.
Our first time cruise experience was beyond all expectation. We met marvelous people from interesting places. Couples like ourselves from Canada, people from all over the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Dominion Republic and Australia. A wonderful person of all ages, each with their own stories to tell and share. We made some acquaintances and friends who we hope to someday meet again.
We were told that cruising, from June to November, in the Caribbean was risky due to hurricane season, and this of course is true. During our cruise there was a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, which I believe hit the coast of Cuba. This only affected us, one night where we experienced high winds, a bit rougher sea and a spectacular lightning storm during the night; nothing, which really rocked (our boat) the ship. The one big advantage we found was that at all our Ports of call, the Millennium was the only ship in Port and we had no crowds to deal with and had the islands to our fellow passengers and ourselves. With this cruise now behind us, we can comfortably say "Cruising is for us" and we are anxious to live yet another cruising experience.