by Coco Creek
December 16, 2007
After wondering for the better part of two years whether cruising was for me (my life has been filled with adventure vacations), I planned and booked a cruise on Celebrity Millennium, along with my sister, with four Eastern Caribbean stops (San Juan, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Campos de Camp in the Dominican Republic and Labadie, Haiti.
I live in Broward County, Florida, so getting to the boat was as simple as asking a friend for a 15 minute drive. Embarkation went slower than normal (according to cruise veterans), in large part because the Millennium had just crossed the Atlantic and as a result Immigration, Customs and Coast Guard inspection took a big longer. Nevertheless, we were on the ship within 90 minutes of arriving at the terminal, feeling positive and ready for my new adventure.
Things were going right from the start. My sister's pre-booked Spa times were in place, our excursion tickets were in our room, so we have plenty of time to explore our new ship (home) of the next seven days and have a buffet lunch up on Deck 10. The muster drill went well and I am sure by the second cruise will be a big bore. Now, on to the particulars:
Millennium looks good. The various art offerings around the ship were really amazing and often thought-provoking. There is normal wear and tear. During the trip, the wood rails on Deck 11 were sanded and varnished, so it appears that there is ongoing maintenance.
We were in a CC room on the 8th Deck. Immediately, my sister fell in love with the veranda and spent many a restful hour enjoying the sea rushing by. Rooms are a bit small by hotel standards, but there is plenty of space for storage and after all, we did not go on the cruise to sit in our room (veranda excepted).
We expected this to be one of the highlights and it was. Our tablemates were Celebrity veterans returning to cruising after being part of the famous Princess "tilt cruise". Their experiences and advices were a highlight of dining. The food was really good. (NOTE: The appetizers and soups were absolutely gourmet). The Olympic Specialty Restaurant offered one of the best meals of my life to celebrate my 65th birthday and the harpist played Happy Birthday on the harp -- a real first.
The entertainment was surprisingly good. The Celebrity Dancers and Singers put on three wonderful productions and two of their singers (a soprano and tenor) were absolutely outstanding. A pianist, Antonio Salci, put on a first rate, audience interactive concert. A guitar playing comedian, John Charles, was not my cup of tea, but others in the audience seemed to enjoy his show. Finally, two gymnasts put on feats of flexibility and strength that were truly amazing.
One of our excursions, a sunset cruise in San Juan, was cancelled -- bummer. Instead I went on a short tour with a street side vendor whose color and personality made up for the lost excursion. In Tortola, I took the Sea and See excursion from which I have some beautiful photos. In Casa de Campo, I took a trip down the Chavon River which turned into Salsa dance lessons -- unexpected, but absolutely fun.
The service was an absolute highlight of the trip. Staff always offered a friendly nod as we passed. Our waiters, Jon A and Mauricio, were a wonder -- coordinated, efficient, and always smiling. They definitely added to our dining. Our housekeepers kept our room spotless and the assistant housekeeper often spotted me in the hallway and went over to unlock the door for me. Even in the Aqua Spa, the services were excellent and one of the young ladies, Renee, helped my sister with a knee problem throughout the week.
Yes, more cruising. Next trip is back on the Millennium for a northbound trip on 27 June, 2008. I cannot wait for those excursions!