We sailed the Millennium on 3/28/2004 from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego through the Panama Canal. Originally the cruise was slated on the Infinity, but she suffered mechanical problems that required a drydock visit and Celebrity substituted the Millennium. This is one beautiful ship. Really perfect. Celebrity is simply wonderful. Their dedication to excellent, service is tops. Celebrity seemed to be having some problems the day we arrived because about 70 passengers were waiting a long time at the airport for our bus transfer to the cruise terminal. But once we got to the terminal embarkation was a breeze.
A little bit about the ship. We booked the cheapest fare available and were placed in a terrible stateroom, 2192 on the Continental Deck. There was an intermittent mechanical noise of extreme vibration that was awful. We tried to adapt, but after two nights of little sleep we went to Guest Relations to ask for relief. They instantly moved us to a lovely stateroom on the Plaza Deck (same category). Blessed silence! And they could not have been nicer about the whole thing. • There are lounge chairs on Deck 4 that are almost always shaded. • If you have Main Seating for dining, and want to go to the show after dinner, get there early, as the seats fill up awfully fast. We missed a couple of shows because of this. • The Aqua Spa on Deck 10 is really nice. Indoor heated pool with incredible jet areas. I think they’re called bubble benches. You have to back up to the area, lift your butt up onto the pipes and slowly ease yourself back to the seating area. Tricky the first time, but well worth it! If no one else is there, you can really spread out sideways and have a ball (or bubble). • The Aqua Spa has a lovely café area that serves “healthy” offerings. We enjoyed lunch there often. • At the very aft of the Deck 10 buffet area there should be a sandwich/salad bar area. If you like tuna fish salad, you can get a great sandwich built there. That was a nice change of pace for lunch one day. • Right outside that aft area of the buffet is a nice outside seating area with umbrella tables and an awning. Great place to have a glass of wine with that tuna sandwich. Nice place for an afternoon drink as well. • If you like pizza, we thought the pizza was excellent for a nice change of pace. • If you’re interested, the gym area is great. I didn’t take any of the classes, but I visited often to use the rowing machine, bike, treadmill, and to do some private yoga. • The pools on deck 10 have two different depths. One is about 4’ and the other is 5’6” if I remember correctly. • I love a good martini, but I never did make it to the Martini Bar on deck 5. Tablemates said it was wonderful. • On the at-sea mornings there is a Battle of the Sexes trivia contest in the Rendez-Vous Lounge that is great fun. That may have been the best entertainment on the ship! • There are many things going on: educational lectures, computer classes. I attended a “Sugar Demonstration” by the head pastry chef that was wonderful. • Save the Celebrity Today! that you’ll find in your stateroom when you arrive. It has an itinerary for the full 14 days including the dinner dress code, along with the arrival and departure times for each port. • Take along a highlighter for each day’s shipboard guide. • Take along a nite-lite. You can plug it into the hair dryer unit in the bathroom. • Pack a swimsuit, shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops in your carry-on bag so that you can make a quick change as soon as you get on the ship and head up to Deck 10. The ports:
• Aruba: if you’ve never been there before I recommend the ship excursion Town and Countryside Drive. It gives you a nice overview of the island, beaches, resorts, casinos, shopping, botanical garden, aloe factory and the Natural Bridge. Very nice tour for the price. If it’s offered in the morning, then you can have the afternoon to go off on your own to a beach or shopping. • Panama Canal: the best viewing is probably from the topmost deck way in the front of the ship. It’s where the topless sunbathing area is offered. You can get to deck 11 on elevators and then one flight of stairs takes you to the top deck. That’s a really good place to watch the approach to the locks and going through the locks. I was in the gym area when we went through the “cut” and had a very good view. They provide a really nice Panama Canal brochure in your stateroom. • Panama (Fuerte Amador): I didn’t talk with anyone who enjoyed any excursion to this area. The ship doesn’t anchor until 6PM. So whatever was done was done pretty much after dark. Everyone was disappointed. I think that even if it weren’t dark they still would not have been impressed with the excursions. The only people who had anything positive to say were those who just took a tender and did a little exploring on foot and shopping. • Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Wow! What a fascinating country. We opted for a non-ship tour. We joined 20 other people from Cruise Critic and booked with JD Watersports for a River Cruise. They met us on the pier and we journeyed on an air-conditioned bus to a restaurant that was terrific. We had a leisurely lunch there and then traveled on to the river. Boarded a nicely canopied boat for a terrific river cruise. Be prepared. It may be very warm and humid. But I just loved the whole trip. You cannot imagine how many creatures, crawling and flying, you will see. Other people went on ship’s excursions that they just raved about. Those I particularly remember people praising were the Flavors of Costa Rica coffee plantation, the La Paz Waterfalls, and the Sarchi shopping trip. And some of those were really long days, but the people said they were just wonderful. Our day was about 6 hours, and we had the bus ride, lunch, river cruise and ride back for $59. We opted to not do the botanical garden walk. • Acapulco: beautiful place. Again very warm and humid. We arranged for a private vehicle again with Cruise Critic friends. There were six of us in a Suburban. The driver was exceptional. I must admit that I got ill during the voyage and had to return to the ship before seeing the cliff divers. But the tour I had was lovely. And the others told me that the rest of the journey was just as wonderful and the cliff divers were extraordinary of course. Acapulco is a very large, heavily populated area. Lots of traffic. But breathtaking scenery. Ended up costing each couple who finished the whole tour $75. • Cabo San Lucas: I can’t talk about anything ashore because we did not go ashore that day. I was surprised at how many people stayed on the ship that day. The weather was absolutely fabulous. This is a tender port that is the shortest stay in port. I’d be a little leery of taking any private trip on Cabo. By the way I was very lucky that afternoon because I was sitting in the buffet area having a cup of tea and happened to see a couple of whales cavorting off the port side of the ship. They weren’t close, but I could definitely tell what they were. They kept “blowing”, slapping their tales and breaching. Wow, what a show they put on! Altogether this was a wonderful cruise experience. Traversing the canal is extraordinary. But what made this trip most memorable for us was not the ship, not the itinerary, but the people we met. We were seated at a table for twelve and what a fabulous group we turned out to be. From NH, southern California, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. We love the dining room experience anyway and Celebrity does it very well. But we especially looked forward to joining out tablemates each evening because we just had such fun being together. It was very hard to say good-bye.