This was our second cruise on Celebrity, the first being on Solstice in the Caribbean in January, this year. I've been following the progression of the "solsticizing" of the Millennium on the Celebrity website, so my hopes were high. We booked an Aquaclass cabin, which, at the time, was less than any Concierge class. Then we upgraded to a Suite guarantee for not much more.
We flew to San Diego the day of the cruise and took a cab right to the ship.
The driver tried to tell us that he only took cash, but we know that in San Diego all taxis are required to accept credit cards (and it's emblazoned all over the cab windows), so we insisted on using credit. The check-in went smoothly until we got on the ship. All on-boarding guests were funneled to a single bank of four elevators, and one was not working. Not a great beginning. We found our cabin, 9123, which turned out to be a Sky Suite "Accessible", meaning wheelchair-accommodating. What that translated to was a bathroom with a floor-level, walk-in/roll-in shower, but with no storage whatsoever -- not one shelf, and a tiny sink. We immediately went to the Guest Relations counter and reported that we did not need the "accessible" part and would greatly prefer to transfer to another cabin. They did not hold out much hope, and told us that they would not know until everyone was on board after the ship sailed. We did not unpack, just in case. We proceeded to an informal Cruise Critic meet-and-greet in the Sunset Bar, which very few of us found. We did at least meet Sigfried and Ilse, Dana (Danna?) and Bruce, and Eric and Jennifer (Gonzo70). Then we all took off to muster, which was short and sweet. We next met our suite butler, Ramir, to whom we repeated our wish to transfer cabins. The first pleasant surprise was an invitation to suite passengers to watch the sailaway from the helipad at the very front of the ship. We were all met in a lounge and then guided through the upper level of the theater outside to the helipad for a selection of sparkling, white and red wines. The weather was wonderful, so this was a great experience! When we got back to our cabin the miracle actually happened! We switched Sky Suites with another couple on the same deck who were very eager for the accessible bathroom because the bathtub was an insurmountable obstacle for the husband. Yippee! We rolled into our new space, 9111, and immediately took off to dinner in the MDR.
The table by the window was great, as were our tablemates, and the prime rib was absolutely delicious. The show in the theater was lots of fun, but the lighting on-stage was poor, which I reported to the CD.
The next day at sea was sunny but too cold to sit by the pool, never mind get into the pool. One big drawback on this class of ship is that when it's windy and cold outside, the entire pool area and the deck above it are unusable. Even going out to the pool area to grab a burger from the outside grill was unthinkable. That cut out a lot of the ship, not to mention our favorite place to hang out. Finding a quiet place to read was a major problem. The events in the lounges were chatty and loud. We ended up staying in the cabin a lot. We could not use the balcony, either, because it was much too cold. Yes, there were two lounge chairs out there, but oddly, no table at all. The bed was comfortable, especially after we requested extra pillows. That sea day was formal night, and we were surprised that suite passengers could reserve seats in the theater for that evening. That was another nice, surprise perk! That show was introductory and short. The next night's singing and dancing show was the best, and the lighting was better but still weak.
There was some confusion about whether, as suite passengers, we were entitled to one free specialty restaurant. Our butler found out that we could book one for $5 each, which we requested him to do on our evening in San Francisco (the next day) -- although the charge was odd. We live in San Francisco, so we played tourist in the morning and greatly enjoyed the fog burning off. Then we stopped off at home to water the plants, since we were so close, and still had plenty of time to get back to the ship for martinis. We reported to Qsine at 9 p.m., as our butler supposedly reserved, but they had no record of us. We reported to Guest Relations to complain, and they got us into Qsine anyway, and for no charge at all. So much for the butler... We had thought it was odd that we received a thank-you note from Qsine that morning instead of the following morning...hmmm... The iPad menu completely baffled me, but my other half figured it out right away. The presentation also put me off, but the food was wonderful and so was the service. We would recommend it after all. All other meals were in the MDR.
Breakfast and lunch in the buffet were mostly boring, and the coffee was terrible every day. We picked out the parts we liked, and surely missed the multi-station buffet on the Solstice. We also missed the wonderful central atrium on the Solstice, along with its feeling of space and light.
I have never been on a cruise ship where I could not find even one thing I wanted to buy in the shops -- until I got to "The Emporium" on the Millennium. Even the logo wear was not a bit interesting.
On this cruise we experienced our first Captain's Club event, which was a cocktail party in Cosmos, which is a great lounge on the top deck, front, just after noon. The sushi was delicious, but the carved beef was way overdone and dry. The crepes Suzette table screamed sugar and did not work well with the cocktail theme. The captain's speech and the introduction of the officers was charming, and the entire event lasted an hour. A nice touch after all.
The bars overall were OK, but there was a bartender in the casino who did not know that a cocktail consists of ice, then liquor, then mix. The liquor is never added to the mix; it's the other way around. Not the friendliest guy, either.
It seemed to take forever to get into Victoria, BC, where we arrived late. We were surprised to find out how far we docked from the city center, so we took a shuttle bus for $8 each, R/T, which turned out to be a perfect choice. It was gloomy in Victoria, but not raining, so we did a little shopping and found a wonderful little pub, Garrick's Head, in which to enjoy a tall draft pale ale and some onion rings. Perfect!
Our disembarkation ("debarkation?") in Vancouver was quick and easy since we walked off with our luggage early and with no crowds at all. It was drizzling when we got off, so we were very happy to discover that the SkyTrain station was quite close to Canada Place (an easy walk). This was our first time taking it to YVR, and it was inexpensive and extremely clean and efficient. San Francisco's BART could learn a lot from them!!!
Thinking back on the whole experience, it was an enjoyable trip but not nearly as grand as we pictured. The suite was OK, but not worth the money. We were directly under the pool deck and got very tired of the clomping of shoes and high heels overhead, not to mention the extremely poor idea of the crew rearranging deck furniture at 12:15 a.m.!! Some days we received canapes before dinner, some days we did not. The fruit basket disappeared completely on the next-to-last day. We did a lot more reading than we expected, and we missed the daytime movies that Princess is so good about in the theater. The cold weather at sea kept everyone confined to the inside areas, so perhaps a warmer destination would have helped. For us, we'll stick with the Solstice class ships. We did enjoy all of the people we met. Everyone was charming, and that was a highlight of the entire vacation!