My wife and I were wary cruisers because of a previous experience we had when I worked for a company that rewarded us with an incentive cruise. That lone exprience turned me off cruising. Needless to say I was somewhat concerned this Alaska cruise would be a similar experience. I could not have been more wrong. The difference between Celebrity and the other cruise line was like night and day. From the check in, the quality and cleanliness of our suite, the ship itself, the passengers, the crew, and the amenities, wine selections, and food Celebrity hit a home run.
We booked our flights through Celebrity and arrived a day before embarkation in Vancouver. We stayed across the street from Canada Place in the Fairmont Waterfront and walked to the ship the next morning with a Celebrity rep. No one was at check in and we breezed through the process. At that time, being a suite guest, we were escorted to another kiosk and offered a specialty restaurant seating at a nominal fee rather than the ordinary fee which we took advantage of. Once on board we were met with champagne on our way to our suite where more champagne and a fruit basket were awaiting us.
After the mandatory lifeboat drill we meandered through the Millenium and I found it extrodinarily easy to navigate from our room on the sixth deck. Even though we were one deck above the restaurant there was never any noise coming from it that we heard. My wife and I requested a table for two when we booked the cruise and our wishes were honored with a wonderful table next to a large round window that allowed us a wonderful view during the times we ate there. The food was excellent and in the Olympic restaurant, the specialty restaurant, it was exquisite with a top notch wine list and, again, both times we ate there we were given a great table that allowed us our privacy. Frankly, I was blown away by the experience.
We also spent a lot of time at the Cova Cafe, a coffee bar that had a great classical string trio, a jazz group, or a soft rock/folk singer performing. This turned out to be our favorite spot. We took breakfast in our room each morning and our butler could not have been nicer or more professional. Actually, the entire staff and crew were the most pleasant folks I have been around in a long time.
Both my wife and I utilized the spa treatments and they were as expected though maybe the attempt at selling some other service at the time of treatment was a bit off putting though I don't want this to be seen as a complaint.
For as much use and as old as the Millenium is I thought it was in great shape. Also, I often wondered where all the passengers were since wherever I went the ship seemed somewhat empty even though there were 2,000 people on it somewhere. Only in the dining room and the theater at times did I see the crowds I expected to be everywhere. Even the casino was uncrowded and the crap table was virtually empty.
We did some excursions in the various ports. The White Pass railroad out of Skagway was the highpoint and should not be missed. My wife and I are avid bicyclers and we did a bike tour at Icy Strait Point that was OK just to get some exercise. We were tendered into Icy Strait Point and that went off without a hitch in a pretty hard rain. We also went to a Salmon hatchery that was interesting.
When we landed in Seward we started the 5 day land package we booked up to Denali and finally to Fairbanks. We were fortunate in that we flew a small plane around Mt. McKinley and there was no cloud cover that day. We took the Alaska Railway from Denali to Fairbanks and what a way to end the trip. Celebrity has its own car. There were 21 people on our package and the car held 80. With a bar, a top notch dinner, and all the room you wanted to take in the unbelieveable views it was a highlight of the whole experience.
I highly recommend Celebrity cruises. My wife and I wanted a laid back somewhat upper tier experience away from a lot of children and younger heavier drinking party types and this is exactly what we got. We had considered Regent for this cruise and I believe we paid about $2,000 less with all the add ons at Celebrity as opposed to the all inclusive Regent price. I don't know how much more luxurious Regent would have been, but what I experienced was more than enough luxury for me. On final thing, I bought the top drink package and did not drink enough to have made it worthwhile. My wife had the top non alcoholic package and paid by the drink for alcohol and that is what I would probably do next time. Did I say next time? Absolutley.