Review of Celebrity Millennium Jan24th to Feb 4th.
This was the 6th cruise for my wife and I, 3 with Carnival, 1 with Norwegian and the 2nd with Celebrity. We had previously done a 10 day Southern Caribbean Cruise on the Celebrity Galaxy in February of 2009. Although we have enjoyed all of the cruises we have taken we found that the Celebrity cruise on Galaxy was just a step above the other lines in terms of service, friendliness of staff and overall ambiance. For this reason we decided to take the 11 day cruise on the Millennium and were joined by our friends who we have cruised with before on Carnival.
We always fly in the day before the cruise. Coming from Eastern Canada in the winter time you never know what type of weather you can get. We flew from Halifax N.S. to Philadelphia to San Juan on the 23rd arriving on schedule at 2:30 PM. I must say San Juan is the easiest departure port we have ever used. After collecting your luggage you just step outside to the curb where there is a taxi station. Just tell them what hotel you are going to and they give you a slip with the price you will be charged.
Due to a bidding mistake by me on Priceline we ended up staying at the Sandy Beach Hotel in the Condado area of San Juan. I checked out the reviews on trip adviser for this hotel which were mixed but most said for the money it was worth it for a one nite pre cruise stay. I decided to use it and for what we needed it for it worked out fine. It is an older hotel and the room was basic but did have a flat screen tv which I was able to watch the NFL playoff games on! The front desk clerk was very helpful with any questions I had and they supplied a nice continental breakfast in the morning. The location was good also. Out the front door and 50 feet to the left was the beach. To the right and around the corner were restaurants and a Walgreens.
We checked out at 10:45 in the morning, got a taxi right outside the hotel and were at the cruise terminal by 11:00. We gave our luggage to the porter and waited in line with about 20 others till they opened the doors. We were quickly checked in, grabbed 2 bottles of wine at the liquor store inside the terminal and were on board by 11:45. We were greeted with champagne and mimosas and then off to deck 10 for lunch. Our rooms were ready by 1:15 so we dropped off our carryons before exploring the ship. I had herd that you could ask the steward to remove the contents of the mini bar to give you but ours said he wasn't allowed to . We had brought a case of water with us but had only room to squeeze 2 bottles in. Our luggage was delivered to the room by 4:00 so unpacked and got ready for the muster drill and dinner.
The muster drill is a lot less painless now. Our muster station was in the casino where they demonstrated how to put on the life vest. We weren't required to bring our life vests and did not have to assemble outside by the lifeboat. It took all of 20 minutes.
We had the main dining time at 6 PM. We were seated with 2 couples from Ontario and had a table at the very back of the lower dining room right in front of the windows, a great spot for watching the sun set.
On our last Celebrity cruise we had an excellent head waiter and assistant. We weren't so lucky this time. We had 2 young ladies from Peru who although they tried really hard just never seemed to get it together. As for the food in the dining room, we found that it wasn't quite as good as it was 2 years ago. Whereas we would have to decide which entrEe to order then, this year we ended up hoping there would be something we would like. Thank goodness for the left side of the menu which has many popular items that you can order every night. As others have said the coffee is not very good either in the dining room or in the buffet area. We ate breakfast mostly in the dining room and it was always good. They do have good waffles at the buffet. Lunch was always in the buffet and we found the sandwich bar and pasta station very good.
We found the entertainment in the theatre to be very good. There were 3 production shows with the ships singers and dancers that were good. The rest of the shows included Amy Adler, an outstanding piano player, Sean O'Shea, a zany impressionist., Then Fu, a juggler and comedian, Kuba who played the xylophone and other odd instruments plus a magician and a comedian who kept us entertained.
We found the thalassotherapy pool at the front of deck 10 near the aqua spa and really enjoyed it. It wasn't nearly as crowded as the main pool
This was a very port intensive cruise that had many of the same ports as our Galaxy cruise. We picked up tours at the port in St. Kitts, Dominica and Grenada. We did a cruise ship tour in Aruba. All of them were good and took us to 3 or 4 interesting spots on the islands.
I had prearranged a tour on St. Lucia with Cosol. This was the highlight of our cruise. We stopped often for photos. St. Lucia is beautiful! There were stops at a banana plantation, Marigot Bay where Dr. Doolittle was filmed, an active volcano, the Pitons, and a beautiful secluded beach between the Pitons that we had to take a water taxi to get to. We stopped for breakfast where they set up a buffet of local foods that had just been cooked. We had 25 people in the group that travelled in 3 air conditioned vans. We were lucky enough to have Cosol himself as our driver. He is very knowledgeable about the island and also very funny. Now this is a drinking tour. There was a blue van that followed us around which was just for the coolers. There was rum punch, beer, sodas and water. The food and drinks were included in the price of $65 each and lets just say everyone was feeling good by the time we got back to the ship!
Celebrity adds a very nice touch when returning to the ship from a day in port. They offer you ice cold face cloths to cool off with and cold water and punch. Also I find the staff and crew are genuinely happy to see you and always make it a point to say hello!
Disembarkation was a breeze. We had a late flight so they told us to meet in the lounge at 10:00. When we got there we were able to go right to the baggage area, collect our luggage and go through customs in about 10 minutes. We picked up a taxi outside and were at the airport in another 15 minutes.
All in all, it probably wasn't as good as our previous Celebrity cruise but it was still a great time and I would certainly sail Celebrity again.