We had a very fantastic and enjoyable trip crossing the Pacific -- the entertainment was outstanding, the lecturers knowledgeable and witty, the service top notch, the food delicious (especially the Olympic) and the crew entirely approachable with excellence in the forefront. I have read other reviews about this trip and although I agree with some of the points raised I wholeheartedly disagree with complaints about the ship and crew.
First to mention, our upgrade from 'suite guarantee' to a Royal Suite was fantastic and made for a very incredible trip! Hence, I imagine part of our experiences enjoyed on the voyage may not be comparable to others.
Embarkation in Yokohama was confusing and if we had not taken matters into our own hands it could have been a long and drawn out process (i.e. waiting in line to get a number to wait in line to get processed). But, that was the port’s process, not the ship. Since we were in a suite we by-passed that process, although we had to convince security to let us through; however, once we got into the ship's processing area we were treated like royalty. There, we were met by Maritza (Michael’s Club concierge) and personally escorted on board to Michael’s Club -- where we waited comfortably while our room was readied, which needless to say, was fantastic -- and our butler, Richard, was outstanding!
This was the inauguration of Michael’s Club on the Millennium and I want to say we were totally spoiled by the service. Maritza did an outstanding job of making everyone feel welcome and helping to connect everyone in the club; also, kudos go out to Helen and Tipi for providing great service.
The port stops were in Hakodate, Muroran (Sapporo) and Petropavlovsk. These are not the most exciting ports, but a chance to see something different. Hakodate’s port was quite far from the city. Buses were provided to the central market area (school children were at the port to assist with information and giving themselves a chance to practice their English which was a nice touch). Muroran was also a port far from the city. Here we opted for the one hour bus to Sapporo and explored on our own. We just missed the peek of the cherry blossoms, although there were still many in bloom. As an added delight, a very beautiful send off came from the locals as the ship was preparing to leave.
The next port, Petropavlovsk, was a running joke by Steve, the cruise director, on the inefficiencies of the Russian customs which surprisingly enough did not present any problem to us in getting off the ship; we took a cruise tour to avoid the visa issue (the U.S. embargo was a problem with purchasing though, charge cards were denied and dollars were not accepted at the places we were trying to buy). The delay came, however, as the ship was trying to leave because of passport issues (5 hours delay) -- partly due to Russian immigration and partly due to the ship needing a better system on making it known about the re-collection of passports upon re-boarding. We almost walked through without turning ours in and we could see how others could have gotten by.
One of the other complaints of reviewers had to do with the norovirus outbreak and the constant announcements on washing hands. I think the crew did a very good job of cleaning all parts of the ship during the initial week when this was identified as a problem, and even afterwards when it was contained. Actually, one precaution that was practiced when we first boarded that I believe should have been continued was having attendants serve all buffet items to keep the guests hands out of the food areas including beverage dispensers.
Steve, the cruise director, did a fantastic job of providing top-notch entertainment, considering having to get a new act on the spur of the moment when one group was denied entrance into Japan. The concert pianist was a magnificent showman, especially with the addition of the young violinist. The other outstanding addition to this cruise was the Celebrity Corporate Executive Chef Rufino joining the cruise to give cooking demonstrations and classes (a favorite with my wife). The last treat was the captain took the inside passage on the way into Vancouver. Overall this trip set a high bar for service and enjoyment for all of our cruises going forward.