Recently on Cruisecritic there has been such a dichotomy of opinion about the Millennium that I became concerned that we (two couples) had made a mistake in booking the Northbound SE Asia tour from Singapore to Hong Kong. To give some context - we've done only about a half dozen cruises, on Crystal and now three with Celebrity - the Mediterranean on the Solstice, Alaska on Millennium and now again this March cruise on Millennium. We opt for many vacations that do not involve cruising, but have learned that we very much enjoy the benefits of a cruise ship for port intensive experiences. When there are exciting ports to visit it is lovely to come back to one's cabin in the evening, enjoy a good dinner and choice of entertainment and go to bed without packing up for the next day's excursion. We don't pay too much attention to the linens & pillows, but we do appreciate good service and attention to detail.
I believe the Millennium is now the largest ship to access the ports on this cruise. It certainly is a new venture for Celebrity and we are amazed at how much they've gotten right for their first season. Let's start with the ship. It's not as big or as new as its Solstice 'sisters' but its upgrades have toned up the common areas and made them much more fun. The theater - beautiful. The Martini Bar - order the 'Flight' and marvel! The Cafe - $3.50 buys you a delicious latte, an overstuffed easy chair providing sea views and several delicious and complimentary pastries. There are so many nooks and crannies onboard, most with a server just nearby and none that leave you feeling rushed or unwelcome. One of my favorite areas is Cosmos, deck 11, foreward - a bar, nightclub and dance floor by night it offers a massive front of window by which to sit and watch the ship's direction. Another is the two-floor library, great for bringing a glass of wine to find a quiet moment. (and neither of these are 'walk through' areas, by the way). Take the ship tour offered several times early in the voyage and learn your way around. And read the daily log - if solitude is not what you want so much is offered without charge. We loved the Celebrity Chef Cook off in the Theater - laughed so hard at the rubber chicken - and the chef's tour of the Galley.
Let's talk food. We think of ourselves as 'foodies' and have never been too impressed with any cruise food. We dined at Olympia Restaurant on our previous cruise with Millennium. It was quite good, but we weren't anticipating anything special from the main eating areas. Surprise and delight! The MDR (Metropolitan) offered us excellent dinners every night we dined there. Each night's menu had so many lovely choices and wonder of wonders - even a few entrees reflecting the cuisine of the ports where we were docked. For us, this was a first! Our service was excellent - each course as presented was timely, at suitable temperature and completely appealing. We sat in Select Dining, meaning we could come to dinner whenever we chose. We'd heard rumors that the service wasn't as good in Select Dining, as guests here have already paid their gratuities and would not necessarily have the same waitstaff each night. We had a team of super folks - Jason, Tatiana, Walter, Made, Christian, Igor and accommodating hostesses who seated us within minutes after we arrived. Every night we felt we were going to a fabulous restaurant. A total treat. And when we wanted buffet, Oceanview worked just fine - everything fresh and tasty.
As for the tour itself - embarkation from efficient Singapore was the fastest I've ever experienced. We are Captain's Club members, but did not book Concierge or Aquaspa; nonetheless we got right onboard. We booked only ship excursions this time as we did not have time to research on shore options. Don't usually think much of ship excursions - bus loads of we tourists - but these were all thoughtfully arranged and with excellent tour guides. No problems on any of the excursions. Yes, most ports require a drive to get into the city. But there is much to see on the drives and much to learn from the guides. (And I've flown into Bangkok many times - it can take 2 hours to get from the airport to center city in a cab!)
We were the 1st ship to disembark at Hong Kong's new (and unfinished) port. And Celebrity crew - dressed in bright yellow shirts - guided us all from new port to old port and to whatever planes, trains, or cabs we travelers were seeking - regardless of whether we were traveling on with them or going off independently. It was impossible to get lost.
On more comment - midway through this cruise we were presented with and encouraged to complete a feedback card on this ship's performance. There is no better way to ensure continuous improvement than to actively seek customer feedback - particularly during rather than after the event. Very classy.