Oct. 13 - 17, 2011
We arrived at the port from the Hampton Inn Blue Lagoon near Miami International. We often drive in the night before a cruise. Great hotel at a reasonable price. We left our car parked with them and took their port shuttle ($10 per person). Great choice. We were at the port in 15 minutes and arrived to a quick & easy embarkation and were on the ship in less than ten minutes.
Champagne & orange juice greeted us from smiling staff members as we stepped onboard. A normal Celebrity welcome. We headed up to the pool deck to get some work done before cabins were ready. We opted for the Pool grille for lunch. Burgers and fries were fresh and great. We were permitted to go to our rooms just after 1:00.
We were in cabin 7026, forward on the starboard side. It was a standard veranda cabin. Luggage arrived around 2:30 and we were unpacked before muster drill at 3:45.Celebrity has definitely improved the drill over the years. A quick indoor review of life vest instructions and we were done and ready to sail
Knowing that Millennium is going into dry dock for a major overhaul within the next six months, I was anxious to see how she was doing. I was happy to see that Millennium is in darn good shape given her age and impending Solsticizing. Public spaces and furniture looked great, our cabin was fine. There were some signs of wear and tear (the decking on our veranda was starting to come apart and flake off) but overall, I thought Millennium looked great.
We chose late seating and were at a table near the top of the steps on deck 5. We were seated with another couple from South Florida and four sisters from Georgia. Our waiters were friendly (our assistant waiter was relatively new to the position) but service was disorganized and it took 45 minutes to get our appetizer the first night. It was nearly 11:00 PM before we left the dining room. Didnt figure out what was amiss but something wasnt right. It improved the next several nights but it was definitely different from our normal Celebrity dining room experience.
What was very odd is that with the exception of a brief appearance the first night from the head waiter to ask our servers why the appetizer plates hadnt been removed, we never saw him. He never introduced himself, never stopped at the table to see how things were going. Nothing. Very, very strange and very un-Celebrity like.
The upside is that the dining food was good. The prime rib the first night was great (although my husband got his about ten minutes after everyone else). My dinner the last night (a ham and banana stuffed chicken I know it sounds weird) was also very good. The only disappointing dinner in the dining room was formal night.
Heres the list of the formal night entrees in the main dining room:
Pan Seared Pork Medallions
Pan Seared Aged Sirloin Steak
Creamy Lemon Ricotta Ravioli
While the menu may have been fine for your average dinner in the dining room, it was a far cry from the formal night menus Celebrity has traditionally offered. There wasnt any entree that anyone at the table thought was really good. Im struggling to understand why the only formal night of the cruise has the poorest menu of the entire cruise. I went with the Chicken Wellington. It was my only dining room entree I didnt care for and really wasnt up to Celebritys formal night food. Id much rather pay a little more and have the great formal night menu return (a decent steak; a lobster tail).
This is my favorite of all Celebritys specialty restaurant. As the maitred said Olympic has a soul. Shes not just a restaurant. The history of the wonderful things from the original Olympic takes you back to a wonderful time. The service and the food match! Everything was outstanding. I went with the filet and my husband had the rack of lamb. A chocolate souffle for me and the Grand Marnier for him. Truly a special night worth the extra cost, even though the extra cost is creeping a bit high.
The food here was consistent with what we had on Constellation in February. Items that you got fresh and hot were typically very good (pizza was good). Items that had been sitting in a warming tray were not as good (be sure to ask for a warm waffle just off the waffle maker they are much better than those in the warming tray). Overall, for buffet food, its fine.
Lots of little goodies can be found here throughout the day. Small sandwiches early; dessert bites in the afternoon; and hors dourves (tapas) in the evening. The items we tried were all very good.
We arrived towards the end of the Sunday brunch and it was very crowded. Lines were long for things like pasta, stir fry and the omelet station. They always make the dining room look so pretty with ice carvings & food displays. The food is good and this is a great chance to take some nice photos.
There was some terrific entertainment onboard. Justin Wade, the guitarist/singer who mostly performed in Cova was one talented guy. He had a wide repertoire and quickly had a loyal following. It would be nice if he could have performed in a bigger venue with good lighting. It was tough to walk through Cova when he was performing.
Metro Park, the ships a cappella group, was outstanding as well. Only together for a short time, this group was very talented and could easily be competing on The Sing Off.
The string trio was great and on the last night they did a set with Justin Wade. What a great way to end the cruise!
We didnt make it to any of the shows in the theater. Carlos, the piano player in Michaels Club was enjoyable but he made a strange comment one night about finishing early so the bar servers didnt have a late night. It was 11:25 PM on a Saturday night. Hardly a late evening and an odd comment from an entertainer when there werent other entertainment options on the ship at that point except the disco.
If I had one concern about the entertainment it was by 11:30 PM there was nothing to do except head to the disco (Cosmos on deck 11) and the music was so loud you literally could not step off the elevator and talk to the person you were with.
BAR SERVERS OR LACK THEREOF
I tried to figure this one out and the only thing we can come up with is since a lot of people are purchasing drink packages there is little incentive for bar servers to ask people if they want something to drink. The night we were listening to piano music in Michaels, it took the bar server 25 minutes to approach us and ask if we wanted a drink. On several other occasions, we had to go to the bar to get a drink because bar servers werent coming around. I dont know if they have less servers or less training but it was unusual and noticeable.
Our server in Cova (the coffee bar) was the one bar server who was consistently attentive and friendly. Kudos to her on her first contract.
Always a touchy subject, this was by far the most casual Celebrity cruise weve ever been on. There were several intoxicated guys yelling at the muster drill in the theater that had no shirts on. That was a first. I stopped to wonder if I got on the right cruise line. You saw everything from shorts and jeans everywhere throughout the cruise to a moderate number of cruisers dressed formally on formal night. There is definitely a different feel to this cruise and I wouldnt put it in the typical Celebrity category. I have to say that I didnt pay much attention to who wore what in the dining room but outside the dining room the majority were very causal in the evenings. We dressed like we always do on a ship, according to the requested guidelines for the evening.
PORTS OF CALL
Time here is short. We walked around town and took in The Little White House (worth a visit if you havent been). Duval street screams tourist with all the little souvenir shops competing with each other over $5 t-shirts.
We had hoped to do the Amazing Cozumel Race here but it had been canceled for insufficient participants. And Im guessing if they had enough participants it would have been cancelled for bad weather. We walked around a bit and had a nice lunch at Palmeras before taking a taxi ($7 per person) back to the ship.
Believe it or not, disembarkation was even faster than getting on the ship. I like the conveyorized belts (like the airport) that they have for luggage in Miami. We went down the escalator and our bags were on the belt waiting to be picked up. We walked into the Customs area to no line and were in a cab back to our car within ten minutes of having our number called. We were one of the first groups called so that may have helped as well. But getting off the ship was the easiest disembarkations weve had.
Meeting space is terrific
Karren Asst. Head Housekeeper she was everywhere!
Overall food quality
Lack of bar servers
Nothing to do after 11:30 except the disco which was far too loud
Poor formal night menu
Non-existent head waiter
Table refreshing in buffet area dirty dishes and tables not being wiped down
Mellissa (not a typo) Capt Club Hostess borderline rude on several occasions
Stained robes in closet
No bill received in cabin on final evening/morning
Like it or not, shorter cruises are going to draw a wide variety of cruisers and a somewhat different crowd. The average age of passengers seemed much lower than a longer Celebrity cruise with a smattering of families with small children. There were very few teens on board. For a short getaway, the cruise was great. I was doing some planning for a business meeting well be holding on board next year so I was looking at things with perhaps a different eye than a vacation cruise.
Things we typically do (i.e. sit by the pool) we skipped. The weather wasnt the best (we had rain most of the time) but that didnt bother us as we had plenty to keep us busy. I wouldnt hesitate taking another short cruise on Millennium or Constellation when she takes over this route next year. Just know going in that it is not your typical Celebrity cruise.