We have just returned from the last south bound voyage of the Millennium for 2011.
We began our journey with a Celebrity land tour. That's a separate review, but suffice it to say we had a great time exploring inland Alaska.
We boarded the Millennium in rainy Seward. We arrived later than the cruise only passengers, so embarkation was a breeze. We were surprised to be met at the check in counter and given a personal escort to our cabin. It was a nice touch.
Our royal suite was located on the port side. As many have noted on the Millennium reviews, the ship is overdue for its renovation. The cabin was well worn. The tiles in the bathroom lacked grout in places. The curtains to the balcony were threadbare and dirty. The bed was very hard and not up to current industry standards. The cabin was clean, but it was impossible not to notice the wear and tear.
Our cabin staff was outstanding. Our room steward was very visible and instantly accommodated our needs. The butler was equally helpful. We could not have asked for better service.
The reason we picked Celebrity after a 9 year absence was their smoking policy. It was a real pleasure not to smell smoke in our cabin and balcony! We won't sail another line which does not have a similar policy. Well done Celebrity!
Our first night we were invited to eat in the Olympic at no surcharge, a perk of our suite. The food and service were outstanding. It was a nice way to start the cruise.
Our first night out of Seward was quite rough, but the captain gave us fair warning. By morning the sea was quiet and the sailing smooth. Our treat for the day was a remarkably close approach to Hubbard Glacier. The weather was light rain and overcast, but we had decent visibility. The captain brought us to withing 1/2 mile of the glacier. What a sight! We could hear the creaks and groans of the glacier, and watched several chunks fall into the bay. Even standing on the 10th deck we could feel the concussions of the falling ice. It was an unforgettable spectacle!
We were scheduled for 7:00 PM select dining. Along the way of the land tour we had made friends with a wonderful couple from England. With the help of wonderful maitre d' Allan we were able to rearrange for 6:00 PM fixed seating at a table for 4 near a window. The service at our table was fantastic, and we enjoyed every meal. There was plenty to choose from each night. We could not have been happier with our dining experience.
We did miss some of the suite perks on HAL. Their suite lounge is outstanding and we missed the free laundry.
Our port stops included Juneau, Skagway, Icy Point Strait and Ketchikan. It rained at every stop, but we got by and enjoyed our excursions. Ketchikan was a deluge most of the day, but a wonderful Dungeness Crab feast took away the pain.
We didn't see the sun until late in the afternoon approaching Vancouver. Vancouver was sunny when we arrived which was a refreshing change!
A few thoughts about our journey may be in order. The land tour was too intense with too many long days. If we visit inland Alaska again we will do it on our own. Budget your time as well as your money. We crammed in too much on the cruise as well. Last, do better homework than we did. Late August/early September is rainy season in coastal Alaska. If you go late in the season plan on getting wet!
Overall the cruise was excellent. It will be even better once the ship and furnishings are brought up to date.