by Sue Clark Koenig
September 23, 2002
We are Jim and Sue, in our lower 50's, married about a year ago all kids grown and gone. Our cruising choices tend toward the ships that offer a more elegant experience rather than a casual style. For Caribbean cruises, we book for the ship and number of sea days, not for the ports.
This was our second cruise with Celebrity; the first was a 14-night cruise on Mercury. It was on this first cruise that we became acquainted with Captain Adamidis and his wife Joyce. I kept in contact with Joyce via email over the past months so when I found that they would be on this ship I was delighted. We also schedule our cruises around times that there will be few children onboard so the new adults-only concept sounded good. We had never been on a ship as large as Millennium and weren't sure we would like it. We loved it! She is by far the most beautiful ship we've ever sailed. I loved the art and the colors throughout the ship. This sailing was also the introductory sailing of Celebrity's new marketing strategy so I'll include a few comments on those as well.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day prior to sailing and stayed at the Renaissance. The hotel was very nice and the Jacuzzi tub in our Jr. Suite felt good after the plane flight. We had dinner at the hotel and then "kicked back" and relaxed until bedtime. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and at 11:30 took a taxi to the ship.
Monday - sail away from Fort Lauderdale
Check-in was a breeze; there was only one couple ahead of us in the line for
Captains Club and Suites. We presented our documents and credit card and received
an introductory letter and one explaining that we would not be stopping in Columbia.
As we turned to go to the boarding area a lovely lady who introduced herself as
Melanie Burger, the Social Hostess approached us and asked us to step aside as
Joyce wanted to be called when we arrived. Soon Dru Pavlov, the Assistant Cruise
Director, joined us. We had a nice chat about the ship and all the new things
being introduced on this cruise. Within about 10 minutes Joyce came running down
the escalator to greet us. As she escorted us onboard into the Grand Foyer, we
were handed a glass of chilled champagne - one of the new changes being introduced
and a really class touch. There were already a number of people in the Foyer as
cabins would not be ready until 1:00. This is a big improvement over sitting in
Wow, is the only description I have for the room - the walls are wood paneled
and the carpet and soft furniture are done in light neutral colors. Mirrors were
used to make the 538 sq. ft suite look even bigger. It was certainly the most
beautiful cabin we've ever had (and also the most expensive). The bathroom had
a wonderful Jacuzzi tub with jets that massaged your back - I ended up soaking
in the tub almost every day. It also had double sinks, a large shower with nice
glass doors, several storage shelves and of course, the toilet. On the balcony
(195 sq. ft.) outside the living room sliding doors were two padded teak lounge
chairs and outside the sliding doors from the bedroom was another Jacuzzi tub
and a table and chairs. We enjoyed our morning coffee each day at this table and
spent many hours sitting on the balcony. We used the outside Jacuzzi a few times,
mostly just as a way to cool off while we were sunning. It is rather small and
shallow and not nearly as ni!
We began unpacking as our bags arrived, located our lifejackets for the drill
and read the daily program and other information in the cabin. Soon the 15-minute
warning announcement for the safety-at-sea drill was made and we donned our lifejackets.
I love to watch the expressions on the faces of first-time cruisers as they go
through this necessary procedure. Immediately after the drill we went back to
our cabin to pop the complementary bottle of champagne and watch the sail-away.
I called a couple we had "met" on the Internet, Ray and Joann, and invited
them to join us. As it turned out, they were absolutely delightful and we met
with them several times during the trip. At 6:00 we went to dinner...always an
interesting experience. Would we like our tablemates? Yes! Although we were at
a table for six, only one other couple was seated there. They were a great British
couple, Norman and Maria, so I knew we would have enjoyable dinners. Our table
was on the main leve!
After dinner (casual attire) we went back to the suite and found our cabin tidied up, the bed turned down, the daily program and an Invitation to dine at the Captain's Table the following evening. To me, that is the biggest honor one can receive while sailing so I was thrilled and glad that we had already sent Jim's tux for pressing. We had a nightcap and "watched the water go by" until bedtime. This really is a life I could get used to!
Tuesday - Key West
We woke up about 7:00 (we're by nature early people) and called Lawry, our butler, for breakfast. After lounging around with coffee and rolls for a couple hours we decided it was time to go ashore. We walked to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for a cheeseburger in paradise and a margarita even though it was only 10:30 in the morning. Then we slowly wandered our way back to the ship. After boarding we went to the conservatory flower shop to get a boutonnière for Jim. It is a great shop - it took me a while to realize that some of the arrangements were artificial flowers.
We had scheduled an "unofficial" Cruise Critic party for 2:30, a
half hour after sailing. Over 50 people had joined the message board post so a
few days before sailing Celebrity contacted me and said they would host the party.
Forty-seven people attended the party, which was very nice - drinks and appetizers
were provided by Celebrity and served by waiters. We met wonderful people, some
of which we were able to invite to our suite for cocktails at other times during
the trip. Joyce and Melanie both attended the party, as did two people from Celebrity
headquarters and a couple of Officers. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The party
was in the Platinum Club, the champagne and martini bar areas. This is one of
my favorite rooms on the ship; I loved the silver, grays and purple. The lighting
effects in the ceiling change from day to night and the room takes on a whole
different look. The center of the room is open to the Rendezvous Lounge underneath
it so you can listen to!
After the party it was time to dress (formal attire) for the Captain's Welcome
party and formal dinner at the Captain's Table. We had plenty of time because
the Captain's table is at the late seating (we usually eat early). Jim's tux was
hanging back in the room and I chose my new gown for that special night. We attended
the Captain's Welcome party prior to dinner that was held in the Grand Foyer.
With nearly 2000 people onboard, they have done away with the long reception lines
to shake hands with the Captain and Officers and I found I liked the change. We
met the rest of those invited to the Captain's Table in the Rendezvous in a special
reserved area and then Melanie escorted us to the table. As I said earlier, this,
to me, is the nicest honor you can receive. We were seated at the end of the table
with Jim to Joyce's right and I was at the end of the table so we were able to
visit with the Captain and her very easily. Although the wait staff in the dining
During the night we hit the remnants of Hurricane Isadore and it became a bit rough. Jim got up and moved to the couch during the night because the rock & roll was keeping him awake and making him feel a little queasy. He even took a Bonine. I'm lucky, the rocking just put me to sleep but the lightning flashes woke me several times - I sleep better on a ship than anywhere else.
Lawry delivered our coffee and rolls and as we sat outside Jim described the
great lightning show I missed. Then he announced that he thought he'd go back
to bed and try to get some sleep. I sat outside and watched the ship approach
Cozumel. After three attempts to dock the Captain reversed course and made an
announcement that the port would be canceled for the safety of the ship and passengers.
A revised daily schedule was prepared with many added activities and delivered
to the cabin very quickly. I only heard a couple passengers grumble about the
missed port; most seemed very accepting and shared my attitude of "if you
book a trip during hurricane season, you might get a hurricane [duh!]." It
was fun to meet and talk to the people from the party as I wandered around the
ship. Jim woke up early afternoon feeling much better and wanted to go to the
buffet to eat. Even only choosing a few items, we ate too much and ended up skipping
dinner. The lunch, goodies with te!
Lawry brought our coffee and rolls, which we took outside on the balcony and then soaked in the Jacuzzi. After dressing, we went to explore the ship. At the photo gallery, I picked up our boarding picture, browsed some of the shops - it is the nicest shopping area of any ship I've sailed. Mid-morning we went to a "fun and informative talk" given by Joyce and Edwin Rojas about her book If I Were Not Upon The Sea. The book is a great read and to hear her tell the stories is even better. I really recommend it for anyone that is curious about the life of cruise ship staff. It's for sale on Millennium - I don't know about other ships.
We went to the Ocean Buffet for lunch. The food was quite good for a buffet and there were a good variety of items from which to choose but the best was the cinnamon ice cream for dessert. We spent a couple hours on the balcony sunning and reading - which for us means a few minutes in the sun - a quick dip in the Jacuzzi to cool off and a few minutes sitting in the shade and then a repeat - we probably look like we are playing musical chairs.
That night we had dinner reservations in the Olympic to celebrate Ray and Joann's
49th anniversary. Joyce joined us for dinner and Ray presented each of the women
with a long stemmed rose. I added it to the vase in the cabin with the rose from
the Captain. The Olympic is well worth the surcharge (or gratuity as Celebrity
prefers to call it). We spent some time looking at the pictures and items from
the original ship that are on display in the entry. We ate in the larger white
dining room; it's very spacious, elegant and quiet. At first reading the menu
seems a little skimpy as you can only choose soup or salad but the food is so
rich and filling that we absolutely waddled out. Everyone at the table had either
the Steak Dianne or Shrimp Scampi; both cooked tableside. The desserts are to
die for; the favorite seems to be a chocolate mousse but I had the Waldorf pudding
and it was exceptional! I should note here that the attire for the evening was
casual but for the Oly!
We decided that this would be a nice day to do a "sail-away" cocktail party in the suite, so we filled out invitations that I'd made on the computer at home prior to leaving and delivered them to the various cabins around the ship. The butler will do this for you, but we found it a way to see other areas we had yet to explore. We ended up sitting under an umbrella in the café on the 10th deck aft having a nice cool pina colada. Then back to the cabin to prepare for the party. I called Lawry and asked him for extra appetizers, ice and another champagne bucket. He set everything up beautifully and even checked in several times during the party to make sure we had everything we needed. Everyone we invited came - 4 couples and us; it was a casual attire evening so everyone was relaxed and seemed to have a good time. We were too full of champagne and appetizers to go to dinner, so we skipped it.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading. It sounds like we're really boring people when I read what I've written, but we both have rather high stress jobs and work long hours so for us this is heaven!
We made it to dinner (informal attire) that night and had a great dinner and wonderful conversation with Norman and Maria.
Sunday - at sea
by now you've figured out our morning routine, coffee and rolls on the balcony followed by the soak in the Jacuzzi. Joyce invited me to have lunch in their quarters so I could have a chance to spend a little time with their son Haris. This was a difficult trip for him because he was restricted to the Captain's and crew areas due to the adults-only sailing. He is 5 and usually spends afternoons at the Fun Factory with the other kids. Their cabin is very nice and very large - as is befitting the Master of the ship. It also doubles as the Captain's office so there is an attached conference room.
For this Adults-Only Escape Cruise Celebrity designated this as Valentine's Day to add a little love and romance to the trip. I'm not sure if there were any special activities, but given that I'd packed a red gown, I wore it for dinner (formal attire).
Monday - Aruba
Aruba is one of our favorite ports so after our coffee and the usual routine we headed off the ship. This also allowed for the early rush of people to already be gone. Our first stop (well, not quite first as I had to look in all the jewelry stores we passed) was Iguana Joe's for Jim to have his Banana byebye - a drink he says is the best ever; so good, he had another. To me it tastes like a banana daiquiri but he insists that it is much better. I had a pina colada and we shared a huge plate of nachos and then browsed around - mostly jewelry shops. Although I didn't buy anything this trip, Jim got a nice watch.
We decided it would be a good day to have the full dinner service in the suite and called Lawry for the dinner menu. He came back later to take our order and ask the time for delivery - 6:30. He set our dining table with a linen cloth and all the silver and glassware and promptly at 6:30 he arrived with appetizers and breads, shortly after that he brought the soup and salads. He is magic because just as we finished those, he came back with our entrees and dessert followed. This is one of the things Celebrity does better (for suites) than any other line we've sailed - the others just deliver your entire order and drop it off. If you get the chance, I recommend that you have dinner one night in your suite.
Well, we're finally relaxed and really enjoying our little home and routine and we realized we were in the home stretch - aaack, not ready for it to be over! I intended to go to Origami and the ice carving demonstration, but we were too busy relaxing and I missed both of them. I did run into Joann and Ray while looking at the photo gallery and we had a drink in Michaels Piano Bar. Michaels, as the cigar bar was one of our favorite places and I was glad to see that they hadn't changed the décor at all. It reminds me of a Gentlemen's Smoking Room on the old liners - I'm sure this is the feeling they were originally going for. There are now three smoking tables; the rest of the bar is non-smoking. It seems that there just wasn't enough use as a cigar bar to make it a viable business option.
During the day the Captain made an announcement that Hurricane Lilli had just passed over the Caymans and that the tenders would not be able to run the next day so we would be at sea and go to Nassau in the Bahamas the following day. Another change that didn't bother us at all - in fact, since we had never been to Nassau, we welcomed it.
We decided this would be a good day for another cocktail party so we did the invites and delivered them. The attire for the evening was informal so we were more dressed up than for the first one. I thought we all looked quite elegant in the beautiful setting of the Royal Suite. Again Lawry provided everything we needed and again we skipped dinner. I've got to figure out how to eat more on these trips - we miss out on an awfully lot of good food!
This morning while drinking coffee, I commented that I sure could use a massage
and Jim said, "Call and book one". It only took me about a minute to
reach the phone and have one booked for 10:30 in the suite. That meant he had
to go to the disembarkation talk when I had already agreed I'd attend. He took
it with little grumbling and off he went. Tracie, the masseuse, and an assistant
arrived and set up the massage table and I lay down for an hour of pampering.
Jim came back at about 11:00 and went out to sit on the balcony so as not to disturb
us. A few minutes later the Captain announced that there were whales to port so
I jumped off the table, wrapped the purple towel around me and ran out to tell
Jim. Well, everyone on our side of the ship were also out on their balconies to
see the whales and I realized that they could see me wrapped in the little purple
towel. I was hoping everyone was looking out to sea, but several people commented
to me later that they had se!
The Captains Club cocktail party took place in Cosmos before early dinner and was well attended. For this party there was a reception line and we had the opportunity to thank Captain Adamidis for a great trip. We also saw several of our new friends from Cruise Critics. We found Ray and Joann and sat with them. The Captain made a very nice speech about the new enhancements to Celebrity sailings and explaining why the changes in our itinerary were necessary.
Dinner was exceptional that night and ended with the introduction of the dining room and galley staff and the Baked Alaska Parade.
Before bed we stopped in the Rendezvous and listened to the Flagship Orchestra playing Big Band music - very enjoyable.if only Jim would dance. The dance floor was very busy that night and some of the dancers were very good. I watched the Gentleman Hosts on this trip and want to comment that I thought they were much better than those on our last few trips. These two gentlemen danced almost every dance and seemed to be making sure that any of the unaccompanied ladies had a partner.
Thursday - Bahamas (substituted for Grand Cayman)
We were anxious to see Nassau because we had never been to it before and the port area looked very nice. We actually hurried a bit through our breakfast and went into town. It is a great place to browse - I love the jewelry stores although they are the same in most of the ports. We both bought tee shirts and Jim got a shot glass for his collection so we didn't break the bank here either. We ended up in a nice little café for a drink and a conch salad; then it was back to the ship. The iced towels handed out when you reboarded really felt good (another of the new enhancements).
It was time for the much-dreaded repacking. It's not as difficult as packing because there is no choosing what to take or carefully folding to avoid wrinkles, but I hate it anyway. We got most of it done and realized it was almost time to sail. A quick call to our friends Ray and Joann, and the couple next door, Chuck and Kathy, and we had one last sail away party with the last of the champagne.
We went down to the dining room to say good-bye to Norman and Maria and to give our waiters their envelopes, but didn't stay for dinner. After leaving the Metropolitan, we wandered around the ship. We picked up one more picture from the photo gallery and I fed my usual $10 into the slot machine. Jim joked that this time it took less than 60 seconds for me to loose it. The casino is large and highly decorated with mirrors and statues, much like Las Vegas casinos. I like it, but heard others say they thought it was gaudy. The traffic patterns on that deck force you to walk through the casino to get from one end of the ship to the other and they have designed the casino where you have to zigzag through the machines and tables to get through it - a good marketing tactic, I'm sure! On the formal nights the casino was full of people and looked very elegant.
Friday - Fort Lauderdale (or the fat lady sings)
Disembarkation was the easiest ever. Passengers were allowed to stay in their cabins until their color tag was called. This is much better than everyone crowding into public areas and tripping over the carry-on luggage. We had white tags and were the first group called. Customs and Immigration were cleared quickly and we didn't have too much trouble locating our luggage in the "happy hunting grounds." A porter assisted us to a taxi and we were off to the airport.
We had booked a late flight because our last experience getting out of Fort Lauderdale airport wasn't good but were able to get on an 11:45 flight. I called the limo company in Denver to advise them of the change and they met us on time. So now we're home.stacks of laundry, mow the lawn, clean the house and off to work on Monday. We were lucky because we had Saturday and Sunday to get caught up.
Summary and thank you's
First, I'd like to say that everyone's cruise experience is different - it's what you make of it. We enjoy the relaxation, pampering, elegance and "watching the sea go by" so we always book the best cabin we can afford because we spend a lot of time in it. Some friends that cruise often are the opposite - they don't want to dress up and they do excursions at every port so they book less expensive cabins because they don't spend any time in them (they also book another line where they don't have to dress up). It pays to compare what the different cruiselines offer before you book and to deal with a knowledgeable travel agent.
I'm sure I forgot to mention things during this review such as High Tea in the Olympic, which was delightful. I had intended to do a day-by-day diary on the computer in the suite, but that never happened so this was done at home. I did use the computer for email.
We had so many special treats on this trip starting with Roswita Arnet, Director of Total Guest Satisfaction, who contacted me prior to sailing and offered to have Celebrity host our Cruise Critic party. She contacted me the first day onboard and we met in Cova Café to make sure all the details were worked out. Then later in the trip a huge bouquet from her was delivered to the suite. Along the same line I should thank Bob Kesler, Vice President of Total Guest Satisfaction, who was onboard and came to the CC party. He was very interested in getting our input on the new enhancements - and delightful to talk with. Nickos Batistatos, Hotel Manager, and George Traiganis, Office Supervisor Hotel Manager, also attended the party and visited with the guests.. All of these people really went out of their way to give us a good time.
Thanks and congratulations also need to go to Celebrity CEO, Richard Fain, Jack Williams, and Dietmar Wertanzl for taking steps to keep Celebrity a step above the other cruiselines.
Captain Adamidis (and all the bridge staff) did a magnificent job of keeping us in good weather and calm seas while avoiding two hurricanes and he is absolutely charming to talk with. [Oops, ended with a preposition]
How do you possibly thank everyone? A few more special thanks: Melanie, Social Hostess, Edwin, Cruise Director, and Lawry, our Butler deserve special note, but everyone on the ship deserves to be mentioned.
The biggest thank you goes to Joyce Adamidis, whom I'm proud to call my friend, with her sparkling personality and never ending energy she made this trip perfect for us.
Now the great people we met onboard - mostly due to the Cruise Critic message board and party: Ray and Joann - thank you for the orchid arrangement and your company many times during the trip. Josie - thank you for the embroidered guest towel. Don, Florence & Edith. Nancy and Frank, Tina & Javiar, Jerry & Denice, Mike & Maria, Chuck & Kathy and many others - I hope you'll forgive me for not remembering all the names.
I'm already looking for our next cruise - perhaps the Mediterranean next summer
on the Millennium. Right now, that seems a long way off - so I might find something
before then that we just can't resist.