What a wonderful cruise! We had such a wonderful experience on the Millennium's 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise in early November. This was our 7th cruise and second on Celebrity, having cruised previously on the Mercury to Alaska 5 years ago. We're in our early 60's and have recently retired, allowing us the opportunity to take a cruise longer than 7 days ... and that's a wonderful opportunity.
We flew in a day early, despite Air Tran trying to mess that up. Originally, we were scheduled to arrive in San Juan around 3:00PM, but a flight change added a stop in Orlando and so we didn't arrive until around 10:40PM and then waited for our last piece of luggage ... that didn't arrive, so after finally working with the Air Tran rep (the last bag was still in Orlando), we finally arrived at the Old San Juan Sheraton after midnight on Sunday night ... when just about every eating place closes early on Sunday. We were told the bag would be brought to the ship only to receive a call once we had embarked that the bag could only be delivered to our hotel ... even though we had checked out. Beautiful! So, I took a taxi back to the hotel and waited ... and waited for an hour-and-a-half until it arrived. Then, another taxi back to the ship. Thankfully the lines weren't long then.
Embarkation - Since we had completed our information online, this procedure took about 10 minutes max ... and that included taking the time to make reservations at the Olympic restaurant. And isn't it nice to be greeted with a class of champagne and welcomed by many of the ship's officers and staff.
Food - Although the beef isn't as tender as before, it's still very tasty. There are some very creative menus and we also had wonderful options. My DW is more of a vegetarian/sea food eater and she never had a problem finding dining options. Me? I had trouble limiting it to two many nights ... and so I had two many nights. (I'm working off the 6 pounds I gained already!) We got a 7 bottle Captain's wine package and then a 3 bottle package. There are nice options, but maybe a little overpriced, but convenient. Whenever we had a pinot, our sommelier brought us Riedel glasses - class act and more on Riedel later! The appetizers, soups,salads and desserts were also varied and tasty. Our waiter and his assistant weren't as good as we've had, but were very friendly. They were a new pair and are still working out responsibilities. Overall, it was wonderful! The Olympic specialty restaurant shouldn't be missed. The ambiance, wait staff, food and wine are a treat above and beyond the regular dining experience!
Entertainment - Absolute the best we've had on any cruise!! The 3 ship company productions were outstanding, especially Boogie Wonderland and Broadway Salute. Great singing, dancing and energy! The other nights had Jim MacDonald (comedian - quite good), Nick Lewin (magician/comedian - great English humor and mannerisms), Karen Grainger (singing impersonator - wonderful) and Antonio Salci (piano/composer - great). The various bands and musicians around the ship were also impressive.
Room - Balcony, 7023. Typical for size. Room steward worked hard and was around when you needed him. We had wine glasses (cab type) waiting for us for the wine we brought onboard.
Excursions - We did the island train on St. Kitts (OK, a little overpriced), the Whale/Dolphin watch on Dominica (3 sperm whales total ... take the Trafalger Falls tour instead!!) and the Old/New San Juan tour after disembarkation (not worth the money to get off the ship early, especially if you get Luiz!! What you can understand will be repeated multiple times.) We did our own Spice and Waterfall tour on Grenada, which was interesting and had a tour with COSOL set up on St. Lucia, but Hurricane Tomas shut down the island so we went to Martinique instead... bummer! A sea day would have been better!! Others that we talked to agreed that it was a most unfriendly island and few spoke English, just French. The island was not a good experience. We went to Blue Beach at Curacao, but the water was too stirred up by the wind, so we couldn't snorkel. On Aruba, we took a 3-hour island tour with Summer tours (outside the gate) with Sergio that was a great value for $15! Onboard, we did the Riedel glass wine tasting for $85 and it's worth every penny. I learned more that day than all the wine club tasting that I've experienced over the last 20 years! I'm looking forward to receiving our 2 sets of 4 glasses at home to recreate that experience with our wine!
Although the ship is 10 years old, it still looks great! It's also obvious that customer service is a priority with Celebrity and everyone makes eye contact and greets you warmly. The captain and other officers were very visible throughout the cruise and spent time talking with many of the passengers. On our two at sea days, there were Bridge tours given that were very interesting.
Having been on 4 other Caribbean cruises in March, April and June, we didn't care as much for the November date. It seemed quite hot (I handle heat better than my DW and even I was uncomfortable) and the water was stirred up at the beaches.
Disembarkation was fast and efficient and we were sad to end our great experience. With 6 straight days of different ports, we looked forward to a sea day and just relaxed reading, dozing and eating ... and dozing. All in all, the best cruise we've had and we look forward to sailing on Celebrity again. Now, if they would only sail through Glacier Bay on their Alaskan cruises it would be perfect!!