To ensure that we would dodge any airport closings in the DC area, we departed DC two days early, arriving in San Juan non stop. Stayed at the Marriot Stellaris Resort & Casino. Had a great room overlooking the pool and Ocean. It was in the Condado area and so we were close to restaurants and the lobby bar and casino offered entertainment nightly. It was a good interim stop, but my San Juan was a disappointment. I went there about 17 years ago and actually little has changed since then. Overall, the island is poorly maintained and a pride was missing from those who work in the hospitality industry.
Check In: We took a taxi to the Pier, about 20 minutes from the hotel. Boarding time was 2 PM and we were checked in and in our room by 2:30. Bags did not appear until 5:30 but it was not a problem, because our casual dress was still acceptable fro the 6 PM dining. We were most impressed with the high spirit staff with joyful welcomes and offers to assist with anything. Our female room attendant, Lydia, was the best. She was very attentive and cheerful. Always there when we needed her.
Room: We were in Concierge 3 and on Deck 8/Port Side. Perfect location for most stops. Room size was adequate, but storage space left a lot to be desired, especially drawers and shelves.
Dining: Celebrity has been very good with us about honoring dining table size and seating hour, but we found 6 OM to be too early and 8:30 to be too late. The next time we may trip My Time Dining. Dinner in the MDR was usually very good and service was excellent. We especially liked our Assistant Waiter, Franklin.
We used the buffet for breakfast and lunch and found the set up to be rather disjointed, especially at lunch. The salad bar needed work. Veggies were chopped in huge chunks,there were no cherry tomatoes, beets, red onions, or chopped egg. We tried the healthy lunch at the Aqua Spa and it was a nice change. Also had to do the grill, fish and chips (where they also served liver and onions). Sandwich bar and pizza station were also a nice twist; however, by the time you get the lay of the land, you don't have time to go back to your favorite.
The Olympic Restaurant was so disappointing. We had had a wonderful experience when on the Summit so thought that this restaurant would meet our expectations and we had prebooked it for two evenings. Service was overbearing - they try to do too much too fast; the bar is far away, so when you order a drink, you have to wait forever for it to arrive; and you can smell kerosene from cooking tables. Fillet Mignon was not prime meat, and most other items were unremarkable witht he excpetion of the Dover Sole - highly recommended.
Entertainment: The entertainment was exceptionally good. There was plenty of variety and the Broadway type productions were very energetic and fun. Lots of good talent and a hard working team. We also enjoyed many of the evening events sponsored by the crew. There was a Dancing with the STripes, very fun evening; a karioke night, an Iron Chef Cook Off, and good lounge shows going on all evening. Pool band always put on a great party.
Crew: The Captain proved himself to be a great leader. You could tell that the crew took pride in their work and they were joyful in delivering it. They often were showcased for their talents that went beyond their jobs. It was very educational to take part in a tour of the galley and also to be able to do a small group tour of the navigation bridge. The Captain also hosted a Q&A one afternoon and shared with the experiences of his career and the work of the Captain. Can't believe that he doesn't have a balcony!
We also were impressed with a delightful reception hosted by the Officers for our Meet & Mingle Group. Many of the Officers were present and were appreciative of M&M and its members. It was most pleasant to socialize with them.
Spa: The spa was okay, and I did have one treatment, but was not overly impressed. They really push the services, almost in a sense of desperation.
Overall: Millie is a most beautiful ship and is meticulously maintained. The cruise was nice, but quite honestly 8 ports in 11 days is too many. We had been to many of them before, so did not feel a need to do a lot of exploring,so we used the ship more than usual during port time.
Our future visits to Aruba will be outside of Oranjsted.