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Pleasantly Surprised for the Holidays
We had heard that with major cutbacks the experience had significantly degraded aboard Celebrity's Millennium. We have come to really enjoy Celebrity for the food in the main dining room, the wait staff, entertainment, and service. We were not disappointed with this cruise in the least. We booked a Concierge Class Balcony Cabin and enjoyed the size and location of the room (quiet deck). The cabin steward, Lawerence, was very friendly and responsive. The only issue we had at all was that room service couldn't seem to get the order correct on our breakfast orders.
We chose the main seating at a table for 10 and had the best table mates we could ever ask for. This is honestly one of our favorite parts of the trip--getting to know other travelers. We were probably the last one's out of the dining room each evening as we would just sit at the table and enjoy each other's company every night.
The food was very good. I can only recall on meal that I wasn't absolutely More
thrilled with, and even that one was still pretty good. Michael Dsouza was our server and he was absolutely wonderful. Always attentive with a little extra fun and comedy as well. We all enjoyed him thoroughly (felt like I left a friend when we left). My favorite meal was the beef wellington and our favorite dessert was the after eight ice cream---yum!!
We visited the "Olympic" specialty restaurant and the food and service definitely were worth the supplement. The strawberry crepe dessert was one of the best desserts I've ever had and both of our meals were superb! The live music was noticeably absent and the piped in music seemed inappropriate for the atmosphere. Pan flute disco hits----hmmmm not really what we expected. (The lobster and filet were both superb!).
We didn't go to the theatre every evening, but the shows we attended, we really enjoyed (I heard not such good things about the Christmas show). I honestly thought that this was the best ensemble cast of any ship we had been on. They seemed to really work well together and were all solid performers.
There wasn't that much other than decorations, a Christmas show, a mild New year's eve party that got rained on that made this an extra special holiday experience, but we had done the same timeframe on Princess' Grand Princess last year and this one was MUCH MUCH better. Can't even compare the food and service. Celebrity is hands down better.
We visited 12 ports, but since I only have space below to talk about 6, I will review the 6 that stand out to me. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Not our first time to Barbados, and hopefully not our last. We booked with "Segway tours of Barbados" through the ship for an off road----yep your read correctly-----off road Segway adventure. It was a hoot! Beautiful scenery on cliffs with fun guides and lot's of opportunity for gorgeous photos. This was our first time on segways and we both picked it up quickly and really enjoyed the off road part of the trip. Another couple from our dinner table was on this tour as well and they had great things to say about this trip as well. Lot's of fun, easy, and great views.
There is soooo much to do on this island. This was our favorite port. Dominica still exports crops and isn't completely dependent 100% on tourism. This made for more interesting and authentic island experiences, I think. We joined a couple from Chicago that we had made friends with and visited the Emerald pool, did some river tubing, and spent some time on the beach. We scheduled the tour with a wonderful local tour guide/driver just as we came off the ship. It was a great trip and our guide was a 50 something women (who looked 38) that was superb at sharing the history and helping us experience a bit of Dominica. She took us to a roadside produce stand (It's nice to be nice) where "Mr. Nice" showed us some local produce and provided samples---he even extracted the cane juice from sugar cane by hand and gave us all a taste with coconut juice. Great little side stop and very fun/educational.
This was the only port that we really didn't care for. We hadn't booked an excursion (wasn't much offered) and thought we would just get off the ship and find something to do. The city is very dirty and I felt unsafe. When we tried to get a cab to take us to a beach I had read was nice, it was very expensive and the drivers made me feel unsafe---as if I was going to be miles away and then told that it would take an even larger sum to get back----it just felt very shady, so we walked away and got back on the ship for an extra "at sea" day. I think if we ever returned, we would just never get off the boat.
Not sure why the cruise lines stop here.
Honestly, I was really surprised by San Juan. We flew in two days early to spend some time before embarking and I think we needed about 4 more days. We both really enjoyed the old town and the forts, and really wished we had time to get out to the rain forests and the countryside. We definitely look forward to returning and spending more time. When visiting, you must eat at Raices in old town and order the Mofongo----it is soooo good!
Beautiful island. The lower rating is more due to our experience, rather than the actual island. Most sites are quite a distance---really too far due to the infrastructure to drive, so you really need to take a boat. We booked with a group in the port shops called "Pursuit boat tours". NOT a good experience. All near Soufriere---We went to a volcano with active sulphur springs (for about 2 mins), then to a really crowded and very small waterfall---we live in Oregon and have much grander waterfalls, so this was pretty lame to us. We were on the trip because we wanted to visit the Twin Pitons and snorkel. We were promised both, but got neither. They spent a good deal of time convincing us that we would go to a spot right between the two Pitons, but never did. There were issues with where they were to take us to the beach and snorkeling and the back up didn't work out either, and the second back up wasn't suitable for snorkeling. Then they were an hour late picking us up----the group of 30 waited on the pier for them to pick us up to go back to the ship for a solid hour. We saw one of the crew of 3 off in the edge of the forest smoking pot during our stop at the beach---lovely. We were supposed to be back to the ship with an hour and a half left to walk around town and do a bit of shopping-----we got back 25 mins before the ship left. Yikes. Our recommendation-----don't book with Pursuit boat tours in St. Lucia.
One of our favorite stops. There is so much to do here. We booked a "downhill mountain trek" through the ship and really enjoyed the day. We drove to the highest point of the island on an old sugar cane plantation "Lotterie Farm" and paused for some amazing views of the island then started our downhill hike through the forest and the old plantation (regrown forest). Our guide, Donna, was fabulous. She was always aware and looking out for our safety and kept up a constant commentary on the history and pointing out interesting flora and fauna along the way. She had great stories and truly made it a really pleasant day. This is a new tour for some of the ships and we really enjoyed it----thanks, Donna!