Just back from our second ever cruise. Both have been on Celebrity, and we like most of the things about that line. All in all, though, this cruise was a 5/10 at best.
First impressions mean a lot. And Millenium's first impression was not good. Perhaps because our first cruise ever was on the Eclipse just 4 months ago and we imagined that all cruise ships look shiny and new, we both had the same reaction upon boarding: this ship is in bad shape. Not that she wasn't seaworthy, but we both imagined our mothers having reactions based on the fact that the ship looked shopworn. We were greeted with what looked like peeling paint, poor condition of the varnish on the decking, and a distinct lack of smiling staff to welcome us aboard.
Had our little mimosa while boarding, but it was too early to access the cabin. No matter, up to Aqua Spa Cafe for a light lunch. Aside from being salty, that meal was fine. Checked out the fitness classes on offer -- chose none. Expected more of a variety than three classes total, and all had a relatively hefty cover fee. We don't do Pilates or Yoga, so there was really only cycling or engaging a daily personal trainer (not our idea of a vacation, however). Skipped that.
Announcement to go to the cabin -- and we're off! Loved the huge, deep balcony in 8172. Really, if you're in C1 on this ship, take it. The balcony was bigger than the room. Totally delightful, and we made great use of it. Downsides: the tiles in the bathroom were not what I would call clean. PA system didn't work (almost missed muster drill because of it).
The number 1 highlight of the whole cruise was the staff at the Cova coffee bar. Dragana, Delia and Alin (Romanians all) were frankly fantastic. Awesome attitude, great conversationalists, and all seem to enjoy their jobs. We enjoyed them so much we were passing out $20s to them as we were leaving. Plus they all make a hell of a coffee.
We learned something very valuable on this voyage. On our first cruise, we were booked in Aqua Class -- that means no main dining room. We hate the main dining room. To be fair, we only went one night -- the first night we went to the special tailgate party in the Cosmos lounge to watch the KU-UK NCAA basketball final. So no dinner. Night two we had reservations in Olympic for a birthday dinner. That was great. Wednesday night, we present ourselves in the dining room. Got to our table (table for 8, #405). Right above the engines. Vibrations, loud noises. And we didn't like our companions (only 2 were there). Full disclosure: we're a gay couple. And they clearly didn't like that. They were southern-US polite, but were clearly uncomfortable. And that made us uncomfortable. Waiter was frankly over ebullient, and the assistant waiter seemed shy and uncomfortable with the head waiter's antics. Food was a 4/10. I took the "chef's recommendation" -- I guess that means stuff they have to get rid of. The beef was very tough. Thursday we just went to the buffet, and we decided to pay the $40 a head to go back to the Olympic rather than deal with the MDR a second time on Friday.
The Olympic: do it. If cost is a consideration, I'd seriously think of skipping an excursion so that you can do this instead. As you know, we ate there twice, and both were outstanding. Sole Veronique the first night was melt in your mouth delicious. The escargot tortellini (I might call them tortelloni, for your Italian speakers out there) had a flavor that was out of this world. Salads: perfect. And the Valrhona Chocolate dessert was TDF. And we essentially don't eat dessert. Splurged on a $100 bottle of the Puligny-Montrachet that was also great. Second visit we both had the Filet Mignon, sans truffles, that was also delicious. Perfectly prepared. The serving crew was great as well.
Oceanview Cafe: 2/10. Consistently out of what most people would consider normal items. Like orange juice at breakfast. Coffee from their urns -- I know, it's mass produced coffee, and I don't expect anything gourmet from that -- was frankly undrinkable. In fact, it was a joke among many passengers about how awful the coffee was.
So, what's missing? Well, frankly, a team to pick up the garbage. There was garbage everywhere. Watched no fewer than 45 staff walk past a collection of dirty plates, cups, glasses and empty bottles, until finally a senior officer picked them up. This cruise (it's spring break time) had lots of smokers, but rarely were the ashtrays emptied.
Cabin steward staff was also fair at best. Saw ours twice, and the one time we phoned, there was no answer, and no voice mail even. He did keep a bottle of champagne iced down for us. That was nice. But we're still waiting for a small cake from the Olympic to be delivered. Not sure if that's the restaurant's fault or the cabin steward's.
Moral of the story -- new ships only, and Aqua Class is a must for us (or at least Celebrity Select Dining with a table for 2).