This is only my second review in regard to any of my cruises. I wrote one for our journey on the repositioning of the Summit in October of 2011. During that cruise, I could honestly say "Excellent!" the traditional response the Celebrity staff always worked so hard to hear, applied. Yes, I was so taken with their personal friendliness and attention to our every desire that I was just about bursting to express my pleasure and gratitude.
I am very sorry to say, our cruise on the Millennium Gems of South East Asia was a complete reversal.
From the beginning of this cruise I noticed something was missing. Embarkation was smooth, I must say. But that was were it ended. The Millennium crew seemed apathetic and at times even miserable. The smiles were few and far between. Any request was met with a hesitance I never before would have associated with this line. I got the feeling they wanted to give more-but somehow couldn't. Where was the Modern Luxury?
Also, where were the extensive multi million dollar renovations? Oh, I see, the money was spent to install new lounges, and specialty restaurants. Yes, that must be it. I guess they ran out of money to invest in the maintenance so desperatey needed on board.
Detail this Stinking Tub! On the ship exterior rust abounded. Windows were left unwashed. The clocks everywhere did not function-for the whole 14 day cruise. I rarely saw crew cleaning, and there were few cheerful greetings on the stair walls as on past cruises. Must be that Modern Luxury at work again.
There was a smelly brown sludge running across the floor in the aqua spa pool area-really gross. The Persian garden was a depressing odorous pit with knobs broken off of the rainshowers & many broken tiles. No wonder I was the only one in there! In the buffet main drink station smelled gross too. If this is Millennium's version of Modern Luxury I really don't like it!
Our cabin was another issue. I wish I had thought to photograph the bathroom. Penthouse deck #6 oversized forward outside cabin. Moldy and in need of paint. One night the toilet refused to flush. Water to the brim just sat there. We called in the problem, "We're sorry someone will be right up." It's after midnight, no one came. I had to dress and use a public toilet a flight down. I stayed awake till almost 2 am-no one came, no one called. We called again next morning and were told it was a problem with the main, and they think it was fixed. They sent up a plumber, who did something to the flush mechanism, success. I just wish they had done it earlier.
The electrical outlet by the bedroom vanity was literally falling out from the wall with exposed wires. It would pop out if I attempted to plug in a blow dryer, or more than one rechargable device. I was disheartened by notifying people who just did not care. I just stuffed it back in the wall each time I used it. You'd think the room attendants might have noticed? There's that Darn Modern Luxury again-deal with it! Yuk!
So-So Sorry were our dining arrangements.Upon embarkation we had requested our dinner seating be changed from early to late. We had met another couple who wished to go from late to early, and so we thought it would be a simple matter to request to swap our assignments. Ha! Not so, as a matter of fact our request seemed a personal affront to the manager. He informed us testily that he would make NO CHANGES until the following day. But please, I continued surely this is a simple fix, we like their table, they like ours, what is the problem? I was then told, as he continued to look down averting my gaze, that there were many others ahead of us. But we are elite, surely we have priority I replied. "Madam, please, what is your room #? I will not do any reassignments until tomorrow. End of conversation... More Modern Luxury I presume?
Well, thanks a bunch! Looking back, we would have been better off just switching dining assignment cards with the other couple. In that apathetic environment no one would have noticed anyway.
We received our dining assignment after 3 pm the following day.
The table was in the dining hallway as you first walk in right by the podium. We were seated with a couple who spoke no English whatsoever. Well, we didn't speak their language either. Isn't this info available to the dining manager?For the sake of speed I'll cut to the chase and say we wound up eating alone at a table for 6 the entire cruise.
The group social dining interaction was totally missing. I was extremely disappointed. Here we were, all decked out in our modern luxurious finery seated alone at this large table, and the Maitre d never acknowledged our situation. No further adjustments were ever offered. He should have delivered so much more but somehow-couldn't. Modern Luxury? Come on!!!
Service in the upstairs buffet was no better. I almost dropped breakfast on the floor one morning because my tray buckled from the crack through it. You'd think with all the money they spent to solstitize her, the company could have splashed out for some new buffet trays. Tables were not kept after. I had to clear a table myself on more than one occasion. The coffee carts were slow, if they came around at all. The venue seemed understaffed. However we did have our MR. WASHEE WASHEE! He always smiled as he dosed out the hand sanitizer. Yeah! Cute stuff.
I wish he could have used some of his excess energy to WASHEE WASHEE away the funk by the main beverage station.
Of course we have learned to expect the poor entertainment. Yes, most theatre entertainment stunk it up too. We gave up on the shows quickly. Unfunny comedian, jugglers and the usual Celebrity lounge singer sub par fare.Then there was our "port expert" who did an Enrichment Series in the theatre. I learned all about the matriarch of his family, but nothing useful or new about any of our upcoming ports. So we are still not really sure if he was on staff or just an excentric unknown poser. The worst swill yet! Walked out mid lecture, then tried to watch episodes in my cabin, ugh, wonderful cure for insomnia.
Our Cruise Director, Steve (hi Steve) was a very nice guy, but was not as visible as he should have been. I got the feeling he would have liked to give more, but again, for some reason couldn't.
Poolside offerings were (yawn), nil. Guests need more activities especially since it's almost impossible to find a lounger to nap on. Apparently the function of the lounge chairs is now to sun the pool towels, as the chairs seemed only ever occupied by those same towels. The attendants just could not keep up with clearing them. It was even hard to get poolside drink service. Not that many people were using it. I too gave up quickly. I tanned on the poolside decking with a towel under me and drank my self service fountain beverages. Ah! Modern Elegance.
Thankfully the party band Kenosis saved the day poolside. And we partied with them up in Oasis where they also saved our evenings. They're an awesome band, and very nice approachable people too! Hi Mary, hope to see you all again someday.
A note of thanks to the Casino Hostess as well. Thanks for taking the time to get to know my husband Jimmy and myself. Meeting you was one of our highlights.
Speaking of saving the day, we needed Mighty Mouse to swoop in and tie off the tenders on a few occasions. The tendering procedures were downright awful!
Perhaps I should have written about tendering first as it was the most disturbing thing of all. It was dangerous at times. In hindsight, the hour we waited in pouring rain to go back to the ship on Lombok was not so bad.Next day I was on the first tender to Komodo. They could not tie it down. Took at least 30 stressful minutes, the pilot was obviously furious as he yelled, I have never sunk a tender yet. The reply from the ship was "we are sending a sailer to you now". He screamed "Send me 2! Get some sailers over here now!" Yes, comforting stuff, it built up my courage to meet the Komodo Dragons.
Bali was another problem. Took over an hour to make shore both days.
The 9 pm tender back the first night could not come aside Millie and black smoke nauseated us all. The pilot tried over and over again. It was like watching a 16 year old student learn to parallel park a car. We arrived back at 10:30. Other tenders that night fared worse. On one, a deck flooded from the toilets, and another tender had a line snap while people were crossing between the vessels. A mass exodus of guests demanded to see the Captain at guest relations. We were even asked to sign a petition, but we layed low as not to be shackled in the brig for the rest of the voyage (just kidding here). I don't know what became of this group's demands, but I do know we all deserved some answers.
The bridge should have delivered so much more but somehow-couldn't.
Say what? Hey an explanation/apology from the bridge would have meant something to me! This scary situation was never addressed. I felt we were unsafe and uncared for. One morning we talked with an officer who assured us not to worry, Phuket would be an easy short quick tender. No way. It was still chaotic disorganization and it still took way to long as we boarded huge ferries again. My advice is to plan on being the last person back to the tender pier to reboard ship. Then Celebrity will have extra boats on duty to hopefully leave on time. Hey, on this cruise we rarely left port on time. The whole operation was slapstick humor at it's worst.
One last comment on tendering. I still don't understand why we needed to tender at all in our last port of Phuket. They have a deep sea port available on the other side of the island. So why didn't a ship of this size use it? Maybe too expensive? I'd love to know.
Should we feel special? We are supposed to have priority tendering as elite members. Another big HA! We were late for all our tours in Lombok, Komodo, Bali and Phuket. We were always ready, but you see they made us go to Michaels club on tender days and wait there to be dismissed from that lounge to the tender deck. All ship tours got priority. These tours got on the speedy lifeboats, but we were always detained and then escorted down to board the 500 passenger type local ferries along with the mainstream tender ticket holders. So much for our priority boarding. They should have delivered so much more but somehow-couldn't.
People who were not elite were issued tender tickets given out very early morning without the recipients even having to be present. Only one person from your group had to show in the lounge to get as many tickets as they wanted. Then they could give them out as they pleased to their friends. If those people missed the tender # on their ticket, they could still get on a later tender, no questions asked. So thoughtful people who got their tickets when they were actually ready to board were punished for their consideration and sat around for very long times. Total nonsense.
We would never cruise with this line again if this were our first experience on Celebrity.
The poor Millennium, past her prime, seemed a poorly managed and sparsely staffed vessel. On any of the older vessels, there are things that you just have to accept. We always have considered these factors on other older cruise ships. But this went beyond acceptable. I have grown to feel like a member of the Celebrity family and I wanted to defend her to other guests who were cruising Celebrity for the first time but somehow I couldn't. Many even said to us "never again." This saddens me.
As a founding member and elite Celebrity loyal cruiser I am disappointed that our main reason for enjoying Celebrity Cruise Line, which was their X (excellent) customer service, food and accommodations, has been replaced with the "Modern Luxury" marketing ploy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the Solstice class ships. The Solstice and the Silhouette were both fantastic experiences for us, so I feel I understand the Modern Luxury concept. It's just that to me it need to be about a lot more than updated bars and new dining venues. IMHO the Millennium, just did not deliver!
So, for the sake of the many special memories on Celebrity cruises gone by, I will give X another chance.
For sure I will write another review after my next cruise in April/May.
It will be my 3rd voyage on the Summit, and my 13th voyage with Celebrity, so wish me good luck!
Hopefully we will find some Modern Luxury on the Solsticized Summit!