January 16, 2005
Following a Western Caribbean week aboard the RCCL Splendour, we travelled across Florida from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale. We have always said that Celebrity was our favorite, but this particular trip aboard ther Millenium (January 16-23/05), for a variety of reasons, was not our best cruise. Embarkation was extremely quick and efficient. We were on boad and enjoying lunch in the Ocean cafe by 12:30. When we were allowed to go to out staterooms at 1:00, we were amazed to see our bags already there! Our inside room was very adequate for space and storage, included a mini bar for the first time. Shower, bathroom etc. all good. Unfortunately, the builders chose to put down a yellow print carpet in these rooms, and it was really stained and grubby looking. You don't really expect to have to wear your shoes in the stateroom like you might in a cheap motel. Outside of our stateroom, the Millenium is 'understated elegance'. Lots of light wood in place of the usual chrome, glass, and mirrors. Lots of artwork, but very little that we found appealing. The 'buddha heads' on every landing of one stairwell, were downright scarey and unattractive. Service at the desk was very good, also excursion desk.
The Metropolitan dining room was a little disappointing. We didn't have a great location, but more than that, often tablemates never showed up and we dined alone. Thought we could have been moved to equally empty other tables. Celebrity's service is usually wonderful. Unfortunately, our waiter Vidas, frequently got the plates wrong or order wrong. Also, completely neglected the two of us (dining alone again) while fawning over the twenty-something beauties at his other table. His assistant Jerry was very good. The food and menu was virtually identical to that of RCCL Splendour (afterall same parent company). The Ocean Cafe (buffet with 4 lines) was definitely superior to most ships we've been on. Lots of variety and Celebrity service in place of serve yourself. Also a pasta and pizza bar, grill with burgers, hotdogs, fries, a healthy/vegetarian bar, hard ice-cream counter with ?6 flavors each day, no shortage of place to get good food. Perhaps what made the food seem less than great, was the fact that we hit very rough seas as soon as we left Lauderdale...unlike any we have ever seen, and even some of the crew. Most people sick, lying in bed for the first day or so. There were small tsunamis in the pools and water everywhere. The second day was slightly better (down to 12 foot swells). Unfortunately, I also got ?bronchitis, cough, fever etc.
The entertainment was probably the best we have seen on a ship. The male and female aerial artists (?from Cirque de Soleil) were amazing. Yakov Smirnoff is undoubtedly the best comedian we have ever encountered. The production team was the usual and quite good, although the singers were sometimes off pitch. Our cruise director Darren (Canadian) was the best one we've seen since Julian on our first cruise aboard Celebrity Horizon.
We enjoyed our visit to Casa del Campo (actually Romona) in Dom. Rep. The free shuttles to Altos de Chavon were appreciated, and Altos de Chavon is a beautiful and interesting place; its easy to spend a couple hours just walking around enjoying the replicated European villa and cobblestone streets. We bought excursion tickets off the ship ($30) for the KANDELA show in the huge open-air amphitheatre that evening. Worth the money, but I don't know what it would have cost if we had just arrived and asked for tickets at the gate. Weather was overcast for St. Thomas so Magen's Beach was not at its best. Walked 'downtown' but tired of the shops. Enjoyed exploring the Castillo de San Cristobal in San Juan ($3 admission). Also, cool and cloudy, and included a downpour that day. Bahamas...you can only take the straw market for a brief period but you should see it once. We took a ferry over to Paradise Island to find a beautiful beach. Unfortunately, the ferry operators are determined to cram as many people on board as possible and it got a little ridiculous. The beach was fun, but it is a very long walk around the end of the island from the ferry terminal to the beach. On return we passed as hotel tenants and walked through the resort instead! Also, difficult to find a place to change on the beach, so wear your suit.
Poolside was never overly crowded due to the weather. Last day at sea was good, relaxing and fairly calm. Poolside band 'Fusion' was the best island band we've heard. The lead (female) was good and sang elsewhere on the ship. They weren't out very often though, possibly due to the weather. Overall, an enjoyable week, but surprisingly not as good as the week previous aboard Splendour.