Personal Background Information - This was our first and possibly last cruise with Celebrity. We are not avid cruisers but have cruised with other lines before.
Embarkation - embarkation went smoothly as we were in Concierge class although there was no line up at the other desks either. The instructions said not to embark before 3 pm but a lot of people were there by 12 noon. How they would have handled 2000 people all at 3 pm I have no idea. Fortunately we were early and were able to get aboard and our cabin was ready.
Stateroom - This was on deck 6 and had an extra long balcony which stuck out further than the decks above. This meant that everyone higher up looked down on you and when they swabbed the decks higher up every night the balcony got drenched.I also found that the ship definitely needs some refurbishment as the promised cushions on the balcony lounges were too dirty and lumpy to even want to sit on and the cabin carpet was dirty and stained
Ship Info -Main areas of the ship were okay but very run of the mill and not very well used. Most lounges were usually empty.I wish the Millennium had a roof that would close over the swimming pool so that during poor weather you could still swim or use the hot tubs. We really liked that feature on a previous cruise on the Veendam
Dining- Unfortunately due to illness (head cold) we did not use the main dining room as we did not want to pass on our germs from coughing and nose blowing to other guests at our table for 10. However my biggest beef is that we were still expected to pay gratuities to dining room staff even though we never received their services. I don't think anyone is happy to pay for services NOT received. We requested these charges not be added to our account but were told that the staff needed these monies as their wages were not sufficient. That's all very well but I always thought that gratuities were for services performed well and not an automatic charge. This was outlined in the Guest Ticket Booklet under Gratuities that it was for "exceptional service and personal attention". Instead of the main dining room we found other dining options limited. The buffet area did not have main dishes in the evening only pasta, stir fry and sushi. At lunch they had very nice entries such as roast pork and curries etc, which would have been better in the evening. The alternate dining area at the end of the buffet was good although service was slow and it was the same menu every night.
Staff & Service - staff were overworked but did their best. I would have liked more cleaning in the cabin such as vacuuming and wiping down of the vanity. This vanity never got wiped so I purposely left an orange peel out to see what they would do. The peel was removed but left a sticky mark which wasn't touched. We had upgraded to Concierge Class on recommendation from our Travel Agent but frankly were disappointed. Some of the items promised never materialized e.g. daily flowers, tote bag, choice of pillows, leather key tab etc. Also early disembarkation was not offered for tendering services which would have been a boon as getting 2000 people off a ship in Sydney by tender was like herding cattle and took over an hour!
Entertainment - was quite good especially the local Australian entertainers. The enrichment lectures were also very informative and were probably the best of the entertainment.
Shore Excursions- I would like to concur with a previous poster that shore excursions were double the cost of those available on shore. We only took 2 shore excursions which were both okay especially the one from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. The guide was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately if you didn't have an excursion booked your only way of getting into town was by shuttle bus which you had to pay for. Unfortunately the ship was always docked miles away from the town and you couldn't just walk in. Often you were docked in a working container port and you weren't allowed to walk through. You soon get tired of watching containers being moved around in one port after another. Our worst nightmare happened in Sydney when the ship could not get into a berth and had to anchor out in the harbor. Trying to get 2000 people off the ship was a total mess. Information to disembark was not given out properly and you were left running around the ship trying to find out where to get a number for your tender. This took over an hour to get off the ship and then you were off loaded in to some old warehouse miles from anywhere. We were also disappointed that as Concierge Class we did not get priority treatment for disembarkation and when we enquired about this we were told to go to Guest Relations. On a ship the size of the Millennium this was a mile walk and up several decks so I just gave up and waited for my tender number to come up.
Disembarkation at the end of the cruise went smoothly although we were charged exorbitantly for the airport shuttle at $102US for 2 whereas a taxi was only $45 AUS. Also nobody checked if we had tickets when we got on the shuttle so we feel we were had. If we'd known the airport wasn't that far away we would have never paid for the shuttle.
Summary - Did not compare with other cruises we have taken and the Millennium is way overdue for some refurbishment. I am sure this is the same for most cruise ships nowadays but you are charged extra for every little thing. No more free exercise classes, soft drinks etc. Cruise rates may be coming down but they make up for it once they get you on board. However the ports of call were generally good which helped to make this cruise memorable for us.