Millennium 11-25 April 2013 stateroom 9033
After so many cruises with so many cruise lines it is so easy to "carp" at Celebrity failures. Which would not be altogether fair.
So let's start at the top. After the Equinox, Eclipse and Reflection with their first rate reputation it was inevitable that the Millennium (older and smaller) would leave something to be desired. We can only concur with fellow travellers on the Reflection (cruising the Med last October) who.....having sailed on the Millennium before and after "Solticization" ....found the upgrade claim totally bogus "from a passenger viewpoint." Celebrity can claim what it likes "technically" and no doubt full marks would be obtained. However from a passenger view it looked very tired and in need of a lot more care ,especially in the (not so) hidden corners. Doors, balconies, decks to name a few plus a LOT MORE organisation in the Ocean View diner.
Certainly a TOTAL absence of "luxury" was surprisingly apparent.
That said we did not book the Hong Kong to Shanghai cruise expecting too much. Of far greater concern was the fabulous itinerary via Japan, Korea and China. In this respect and we know, despite considerable difficulty from immigration ( Turn off the whole ship's passengers and crew and not allowed to return until EVERY passport accounted for ???) Through "gritted teeth no doubt" the crew did an extremely good job.
The food everywhere was first class.... every day every meal....The BRUNCH was the highlight of all the onboard experiences....and if it wasn't right first time? only moments to correct. Which leads me nicely to the crew. Without exception Celebrity's high standards of service were apparent throughout the ship. To a "man" nothing was too much trouble and all questions/requests were taken care of with a smile (NOT through "gritted teeth" we felt)! A word of warning!? A satisfactory INTERNET connection might be beyond the resources of the boat but there were so many complaints about costs and quality they might have given a free service rather than regard it as "a nice little earner"
Our "stateroom" was looked after superbly AND .....considering the age of the ship adequate. Certainly by QE2 standards positively spacious ! Was however difficult to match the wardrobe space with sufficient space to allow for extra clothing including formal wear. We think Celebrity could easily rationalise it's policy to formal nights by cutting them out all together thus allowing more wardrobe space ?????? NOT a policy we would favour but bowing to modern trends perhaps.
From here springs our FIRST major complaint. Dining room dress code on non formal nights. Frankly the absence of ANY form of standard was totally obvious and we direct the fault directly to Celebrity. It beggars belief that "smart casual" for dinner whilst dictating no swimwear or bare feet should allow the following as personally witnessed and abhored by many......... Grubby T shirts / shorts from all day use, trust they used the pool to clean up? ...track suits with trainers, pumps, call them what you will .....camouflage trousers and "fatigues" ....these were not isolated events but witnessed in many forms every evening. I should add we were booked into "select dining" A totally different conotation from our expectations. We looked on in horror and did not witness a single refusal of entry to the dining room. The dining staff from "top to bottom" were most apologetic when brought to their attention and we felt they were totally embarrassed by what must be seen a a fatal relaxation of Celebrity standards.
Our SECOND major complaint refers to the obviously DELIBERATELY set cold temperatures in the public areas ....but not the staterooms. It was impossible on several nights to enjoy the activities or bars due to uncomfortable low temps. There were complaints (manyfold) by fellow passengers as we grouped in the elevators complaining as to the necessity to shorten the evening to seek the warmth of our cabin. Despite visiting the relations desk more than twice to be told they had not realised the problem (rubbish!) the ship remained cold. The problem was compounded by the fact that NOT A SINGLE crew member when asked would give any opinion as to "are you cold as well"? Many MANY passengers concluded the low temperature was Celebrity policy to reduce the possibility of any virus outbreak. Commendable at one level but deplorable at another. Embarkation should include an easy to read sign "THIS SHIP IS COLD ...YOU WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE " Of course there was the option of taking overcoats into the dining room for after dinner activities ......which we did on 3 occasions !
Overall the cruise remained good value for money. Sadly despite our delight with previous Celebrity cruises and to paraphrase a memorable line from a film " Not only have you lost our friendship ...you have lost our vote" to be automatically number ONE
Finally a very bizarre event in the otherwise stunning Olympic Restaurant where we dined for our first night before sailing....and resolved not to return. It is difficult to impart the totally honest nature of the following experience. The restaurant decor, menu, food, presentation and overall attention to detail by the staff was victim of a ridiculous "mind set" when it came to desert. Our table was shared by two others and the desert choice was excellent. I however elected for the cheese board having noted the wonderful ( and brimming over) trolly earlier. I requested biscuits with 3 types of cheese ...Blue, Manchego and Brie.
The reader of this review will understandably doubt the accuracy of my description but we have witnesses as to what followed!
The Blue and the Manchego would have been lost behind a standard postage stamp ? and about the same thickness. This is NO exaggeration. The Brie compared to a pat of butter ...I do not lie. Feeling the plate had been presented as "tasters" for my approval I resolved to remind the head waiter of a quote from Oliver Twist ...of whom he had knowledge ( full marks) " Please Sir ...I want some more" Whereupon at THIRD time of asking I received another plate EVEN SMALLER THAN BEFORE. Bewildered by what seemed an act of pure "Seppuku" on the part of the Maitre, we departed ...never to return. I deliberately chose cheese again the following night in the main dining room. More than enough for a sandwich the following day
Concluding thoughts on Celebrity . The Soltice ships are beyond limits for faultless cruising but with the ever rising competition and oversupply of ships Celebrity have currently lost their cutting edge
Fortunately not a situation beyond redemption..... just needs a personal overview of current opinion and NOT rely too heavily on the automaton responses to the "obligitory" review cards .....which I refused to complete. BTW upbeat comment ...Disembarkation had military precision ...best ever.