This is a review of the 10 Day Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Millennium my partner and I just returned from. A little about us: we are a gay male couple, late 20's/early 30's, and we have taken a cruise for my past 3 Spring Breaks (I am a teacher). We both love taking cruises, but researching, planning, talking about cruises is one of my favorite things in the world - so I am a true "cruise nerd." I have been on Costa, Carnival (2X), Celebrity (2X), Royal Caribbean, NCL and Princess. People say I need another, less expensive, hobby!
We flew down to San Juan, PR on the day of departure. Our flight landed in San Juan at 3:50pm and we had to be on board by 5:30pm. There were no delays, and besides having a child kicking my seat for hours, no major problems. We grabbed a cab from the airport for $22 for the both of us and our luggage. Embarkation process was fine. A little confusion with the luggage but nothing major. Got on the ship pretty quickly.
When we arrived on the Millennium we were greeted with champagne. Our cabin was right off the Grand Foyer and the staff directed us there. We were in 3065, which is an Oceanview Stateroom. It had a large porthole for a window and a flat-screen LCD TV. The room was decorated tastefully. The size seemed pretty standard. I had a balcony on the Summit over the summer and definitely missed it! We had no problem with storage and the room was in good condition.
I'll be reviewing our cruise based on service, food, the ship, entertainment and itinerary. Please remember this is just my opinion. We all have different tastes and perspectives, so please do not be offended.
SERVICE So the service for the first 30 minutes was shaky (we had an annoying experience with a bartender and a customer service rep. about our cards being demagnetized), but after that we had zero complaints. In fact, we felt like the service was excellent across the board. The room stewards were friendly and did a great job. The bartenders, pool waiters, waiters, assistant waiters and maitre d's were fantastic! It felt like the entire staff was doing everything they could to ensure we were enjoying ourselves. 5/5
DINING We chose late dining and sat with a family and another couple. They were all very nice, however on the first night the conversation turned to religion and politics and let's just say that it made for an awkward dinner. In addition, we just felt like we didn't have much in common with our tablemates. So on the next day we went to the maitre d' and asked him to switch our table. We chose to do the Select Dining where we could eat when we wanted. On the first 2 nights we had to wait quite a while, but it seemed like the hostess and the maitre d' were working hard to get us in. On all subsequent nights we were quickly seated. If we wanted to see a show and we needed to get out a little bit early, they made sure to bring out our food more quickly. We felt like the hostess (Telma) and the maitre d' (Nicholas) did an excellent job seating us quickly.
The food in the main dining room, Metropolitan, was good to great. There were some meals that were outstanding (Spaghetti and meatballs, chateaubriand, excellent seafood - they don't give you baby shrimp and tiny scallops in the seafood dishes, they're quite large). The foods were presented meticulously. Delicious fresh breads, the best French Onion Soup. The salads weren't remarkable. I usually let the waiter suggest what entrEe was best that night and was never disappointed. Desserts were very good as well. The Millennium has an everyday menu and there also is wide variety of food choices that are presented each day. Unless you are used to eating in the top restaurants on land, and will settle for nothing less, you will not be disappointed. Portions were good. I have quite the appetite and after eating the four courses I was always full.
The breakfast buffet was just "alright" for me. Yes, they had all of the food you expected (waffles, French toast, omelet, breads), but the quality was fair. It wasn't difficult to get a seat in the Ocean Grill. Maybe I'm just not the biggest fan of buffets in general. I preferred ordering room service. The menu items are limited, but if you add a few special orders on the door-hanger-menu by hand, they will usually bring them. I'm not talking about crème brule, more like pancakes or French toast. You can ask them to put in fillings in your omelets (cheese, veggies) and they will do so. Room service came on time and it was so nice just chilling in our balcony....ummmm... not this time... on our little couch, gazing through our port hole. The quality seemed a little better. Be VERY specific about what you want, because if you don't write it on the paper, it won't be there in the morning (ketchup, sweetener, etc.).
The lunch buffet was a little underwhelming as well. They would have a pasta station, a salad station, a carving station, and a small variety of other dishes. What I had from the buffet area was OK. On the Summit I remember they made Caesar salads with fresh salmon chunks - delicious! They also did this with fresh chicken. Not on this cruise. This itinerary was about half the price though. On the other hand, the pool grill served burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, wings, chili nachos and we liked it better. We usually did an excursion or went to the beach and returned to the ship about 3ish and had lunch at the buffet or pool grill. They have an ice cream station where you can order soft serve or scoops. They have a few toppings to choose from... yum... Reese's Pieces! I definitely indulged with the ice cream. How can one resist chocolate ice cream with Reese's? Ah, the memories.
So, in a nutshell, Metropolitan Dining was excellent, buffet was fair, room service was good, pool grill was good. 4.5/5
THE SHIP OK... so this is it. The Millennium is an incredibly beautiful cruise ship. When you walk around this ship it makes you feel like a Celebrity. It's tastefully decorated, has great art around every corner, and a tasteful color scheme. The Grand Foyer is my favorite area on the ship with the glowing staircase and flowing drapes. The public areas are comfortable, the bars and lounges are well-appointed and the ship is easy to navigate. Our stateroom was right off of the Grand Foyer and it felt like we never had to walk far to get to any area on the ship. Normally, I feel like I'm burning some calories by walking up and down the long corridors of cruise ships (wishful thinking), but not this time. The pool deck is designed well and has lots of deck space. Cruise ships tend to be on the tacky side (loud colors, over-the-top-Vegas, or even worse, Atlantic City dEcor), but not the classy and sophisticated Millennium. The Summit is the sister ship to the Millennium, but I think the Millennium was freshened up with a dry dock. It didn't look worn at all (as a side note, the Summit, as of last summer, was beautiful as well, and all of this hullabaloo about it being old and decrepit is ridiculous, unless they suddenly stopped with the maintenance). I have to cruise on the Millennium again. I've never felt like this about another cruise ship. I think it's love. 5/5
THE ENTERTAINMENT So I feel like I've been Paula Abdul so far... handily doling out the praise. Well, maybe I am suddenly becoming Simon (cue the boos). The entertainment did not knock my socks off. It was well... kind of hit or miss... and that's being kind. Let's start with the live music/performers throughout the ship. The piano bar lady was just alright. We didn't really feel compelled to go see her. The pool band was good (Magnitude) but it seemed like they were hardly out on the deck performing. On one sea day they were out for only one hour! On other days, maybe two. They used the same band for nighttime performances as well. I don't know about you, but I really like to hear live music while I'm lounging at the pool and most cruise lines seem to have it MUCH more regularly. The bands throughout the ship were just OK. We had a comedian/illusionist on board and his performance in the Celebrity Theater... ummmm... not so good. The a capella group, North by Northwest, were entertaining. The Cruise Director, Rich Clesen, is a great guy and was an average as far as cruise directors go. The first production show was a Dancing with the Stars-themed show and it was poor. The second production show was a 70's revue and I thought it was alright by my partner didn't enjoy it. The third show, I am happy to say, was really good! It was a Broadway Revue and the singing and dancing, and the actual show, was really entertaining. The singers and dancers are good, but I feel like they are limited by the material they are given. On a side note, the male dancers on this ship are the most attractive at sea. You had to see one of the dancers dressed up in this Native American get-up... whoops, I'm digressing! Also, the other random entertainment (games, shows, etc.) seemed to be a little limited or a little lame. The juggler was entertaining. One bright spot was a British singer, Lindsey Hamilton, who was incredible - do not miss her! The staff talent show is a hoot too. But overall, I was disappointed with the entertainment and expected a lot more from Celebrity. The Summit's entertainment last summer seemed much better, especially the production shows and the guest acts. I was told by one of the ship's staff that the Summit has a different company doing the production shows. The costumes and staging on the Summit were really excellent. Sorry Millennium, I'm only giving you a 3/5.
ITINERARY This cruise was packed with A LOT of ports (7) and had only 2 sea days. The two sea days were at the end of the cruise, and we felt like we could have used another one somewhere in the beginning of the cruise just to unwind. The ports were excellent! We are not really interested in shopping, we prefer doing an excursion or just going to a beach and spending the day. I try to research private tours on Cruise Critic instead of doing the Celebrity-sponsored excursions. I think you get better value if you do this.
Ports of call, overall, were really excellent - a good variety of everything. A 10 night cruise is much better than a 7-nighter - you really get to a relaxed state of mind! 5/5 (Note: they will only allow 6 ports of call reviews below, so I will place the first one, Tortola, in the review.)
Tortola, BVI - We booked with Patouche tours for a ½ day trip to the Virgin Gorda Baths. First you take a short bus ride to a marina where you board a catamaran. They sail over to Virgin Gorda. You then have to snorkel (provided) to the beach. You get to snorkel through a coral reef to get to the shore. The Baths are really amazing... giant boulders randomly stacked on top of each other. When you get to the beach you are guided on a hike through the Baths (rocks). It's really beautiful and awe-inspiring. Just think Stonehenge put through a blender and placed on a picturesque beach. The hike is not easy, especially if you are big and tall. You really have to squat and walk through tight spaces... in some places squeeze... shouldn't have had that extra rich chocolate mousse cake at dinner. After the hike, you get some additional time to snorkel in a different area. Lots of cool stuff... sea urchins, coral, and a variety of fish - we even saw a stingray! Then you have to swim (far) back to the catamaran. The ride back was relaxing. We had a great time hanging out with the other 8 passengers and the 2 crew. The crew was friendly and kept the drinks flowing. They played great music and it was a nice vibe. What a way to kick off our cruise! $80 per person was well-worth it. One of our favorite excursions... highly recommended!
Chair hogs: They still exist. The pool butlers are making some efforts by putting notes on chairs, but we didn't see this. Many of our fellow cruisers did, however. I spotted a new breed of chair hog... the fruit-chair hog. Someone put a different kind of fruit on four adjacent chairs. One chair had a pear, the next an apple... you get the picture! Every time I walked by there was no person, just fruit getting a tan. Serious chair-hogging going on the sun deck, especially during the 2 sea days. Both days we eventually found lounge chairs, but it took quite an effort. People just place books and magazines (or fruit) to claim chairs and then disappear for the day.
Air conditioning: It seemed like there were times the Millennium wasn't cranking the AC enough and the ship was stuffy. Luckily, our cabin, and hallway were always cool, but other areas, including the Ocean Cafe and some other hallways and bars were downright stuffy. I asked a staff member about this and they said it had to do with doors opening to the outside Caribbean air, but that doesn't work with the interior hallways and some bars.
Smells: On the Summit there were some hallways that always seemed to have a sewer smell (again, luckily, not in my hallway) There were NO funky smells on the Millennium! Hooray!
Drinks: The drinks throughout the ship were delicious and strong! Prices would range (with the service charge) from 6 dollars to 8 dollars. Find out what the drinks of the day are. There are usually 3 choices and they only cost $5 plus the service charge. This is a good way to save a bit on your bar bill. We had the drinks of the day every chance we could but still racked up quite the bar bill! It was well worth it though!
Easter: Our cruise took place during Good Friday and Easter and we had a Catholic priest with masses offered. My partner is Catholic and this was really convenient for us. Easter was on a sea day, and if Celebrity didn't have a priest there was no way we'd be able to take this cruise. So major props to them for providing religious services. They also had a rabbi and non-denominational Christian services.
Crowd: The ship only felt crowded on sea days on the sun deck. Other than that, it was really comfortable and not-packed at all. There was a good mix of ages on the ship: families, middle-aged couples, older couples. Not too many younger couples. The people of the ship seemed a little chill and relaxed. We are not crazy partiers, but it seemed a little tranquil for us. Our last 2 Spring Break cruises were on RCI and NCL and they were a little more happening, had more current music and were a tad more lively. We preferred the lively vibe a little more, but you can't have it all!
Cruise Critic: We had a great roll call on Cruise Critic with over 90 people signed up for the Celebrity Connections party. Neil and Jerry, fellow Cruise Critic members, organized a sail-away event, a cabin-crawl, and a slot-pull. The cabin crawl was sooo much fun. We were able to see Sky Suites, Penthouses, and everything in between. I never knew cruise ships had such wonderful accommodations! One can dream, right???? Neil and Jerry also brought some fun awards to hand out to people who participated in the Cabin Crawl (messiest cabin, most in need for an upgrade). This was really funny and a great chance to meet lots of nice people. To all of the people we met from Cruise Critic, thank you for making our vacation even more fun! Thanks again to Neil and Jerry for organizing enjoyable events.
Final Thoughts What a great vacation! Outstanding ports, service and food, on an incredible ship. Entertainment was lacking a bit, but the good points made up for it. I would sail Celebrity again but would prefer it to be a smidge more lively with more/better entertainment options. I know Celebrity goes for a more formal/polished cruise experience, but I'd like to have all of this with a little more fun. But fun is subjective and this is just my opinion. Thank you for reading and maybe I'll see you on board someday.