pleasant but below expectations
Australia & New Zealand
Embarkation - Great, no lines and we got upgraded to a suite from a concierge class cabin
Ship - The Millennium is in need of maintenance. This can be a beautiful ship and will be once again after the renovations are complete. We were told the ship will be dry docked for two weeks before the Alaska cruise season and its a good thing. While not a disaster, the ship was not in the condition we all expected. Table tops were missing in the Celebrity showroom and outlets were duct taped to the walls in the cabins. I was surprised that Celebrity allowed this type of "brand damage" to occur.
Food - Good and I gained two pounds. However, I think Celebrity has lost its advantage in this area. I think the food was comparable to other cruise lines such as Princess, RCL, and Holland.
Entertainment - Below expectations and far below the competition. This was the area we were most disappointed in. They actually repeated main act performers in the Celebrity More
showroom. I have been on 6 cruises and that was a first. They also had two "dark" nights in the Celebrity showroom. I considered them "dark". They offered a two year old movie, in lieu of entertainment for the two nights we were "in port" overnight. So when we were in port in Melbourne and Sydney, there were no shows in the Celebrity showroom but they offered you an old movie. Not a classic just an old movie. The movies they offered everyday were also old. Let me summarize the movie selection - If the airlines can offer new releases, why can't Celebrity???? The live performers they had were pretty good but they reused and reused them. The Celebrity dancers and singers were great and as good as any we have seen.
Excursions - Ship tours are Way, way overpriced. You should research local providers and book them if possible. We found that Celebrity had at least a 100% markup on their shore excursions. I have commented on the major ports in the port review section but since there is no option to review Napier in that section, let me advise you to see Cape Kidnappers by booking with firstname.lastname@example.org. Cape Kidnappers is gorgeous and gannetsafaris does a great job. This was the tour operator that Celebrity used and we saved 100% by booking directly with them. acmtours.co.nz for Melbourne is also a great choice. See port reviews.
Service - Absolutely great. The best part of the cruise. Its obvious that the staff has been trained not to say no. They accommodated all of our special requests. The staff was great and they actually deserve better management. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We arrived in Auckland 4 days before the cruise and had a lovely time. We stayed at the Westin which was wonderful. Great location, service and rooms. We visited Waheke Island which was gorgeous and is well worth a trip if you have the time. Had lunch at Te Whau which was nice but I think perhaps that restaurant is overrated. The Auckland Explorer bus was sort of a disaster. They had a breakdown so we waited over 40 minutes for the bus to start our tour which was irritating when time is precious. You also can't hear the pre-recorded tour commentary. As my husband said, it was bus transportation not a tour. But cheaper than a cab. We went to Auckland Sky tower and had lunch on the observation deck where we observed with great enjoyment those brave souls who did the bungee like jump. Very enjoyable!! A very liveable and fun city!!
Booked a tour with Mark from awesometours.co.nz. Mark was a great guide. He did a very nice city tour and was on time at the pier. He was also very concerned with the happiness of each guest. The tour itself was a disaster due to the weather. It was rainy and very wet. So this tour was a mud feast. The natures wonder place was a mud pit. I admire and commend their mission but be beware that if its wet you will need to dress like you are visiting a pig farm. We did see seals (but hey San Francisco has so many that was no big deal) but the yellow eyed penguins were about a mile away. With binoculars, you could see them as a speck. All two of them.... The Albatross colony tour was better. But again the weather made the visit pretty miserable. I could tell from the shadows that Dunedin is a beautiful place and on a sunny day this tour is probably phenomenal. But if its rainy, you should be forewarned and don't wear good clothes if you still elect to go.
We booked a Great Ocean Road tour with Peter Johns from acmtours.co.nz which was absolutely great. From my first correspondence and thru today, the experience was great. When you book outside the cruise ship you are always worried if someone will actually be there at the pier. Peter was great about staying in contact with me before the tour so my confidence level was high that he would "be there" the day of our tour. Samuel was our guide and we had a great day visiting the Great ocean road and the 12 Apostle area. Samuel made sure we saw Kangaroos and Koala's in the wild and cooked us a genuine Aussie barbie with kangaroo meat. We traveled in a new Mercedes SUV and we actually ended up being a tour party of two. The helicopter ride was great and Samuel let me use his digital camera on the helicopter. Samuel then sent us digital photos that he took that day. We really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend acmtours!!!
We did a ship tour that included an interior tour of the Opera House. I highly recommend that tour. The inside of the opera house is gorgeous and we really enjoyed seeing it. We also booked a ship tour to the Koala Sanctuary and that was also great. We saw tons of koala's and petted them, got up close and personal with the kangaroos (buy food at the entrance!), and saw a very interesting sheep shearing demo. Great place. We were disappointed that Celebrity had to tender at Sydney. It was pretty inconvenient and caused quite a bit of lost time. There was a Crystal ship that used the prime docking space which would have been perfect.
Wellington is very walkable and a lovely city. We went on a Lord of the Rings tour that we booked thru the local tourist information center. It was a flat earth tour. It was okay. Priced much better than the ship's excursion. We visited some film locations and also the WETA cave. They also included a short city tour and our guide was great. Very helpful and accomodating.