My wife, daughter and I have cruised extensively on Celebrity and on other cruise lines. We recently cruised on the Eclipse during Spring Break and had a wonderful time. My daughter is 13 years old and has been cruising since she was a toddler. The fact that we live in Miami makes cruising very convenient.
Travel to Port of Embarkation
Since we live in Miami traveling to the port was a snap. I was able to work until 1:30, since I work in downtown Miami. My wife picked me up at the office and we were at the port in 5 minutes.
I dropped my wife, daughter and our luggage off at the terminal building and self parked our car. After walking back to the terminal we proceeded through security and "checked in". We were on board and sipping champagne in about 20 minutes. It was a "painless" embarkation with "no lines". No doubt this was a result of our late arrival to the terminal building. Since we are Captain's Club members and had booked a concierge cabin we had a special check in line. What surprised me though was that the regular check in line also had no wait. Sometimes a "late arrival" is a good thing.
The Millennium is a ship built in 2000. Based on several reviews on the boards I was concerned that the ship would be showing her age. We had recently cruised on the Eclipse and experienced a Solstice class vessel. That Eclipse cruise to date had been one of our favorites. In the past we had cruised on the Century, Galaxy and Mercury. All of these ships were well maintained and provided a great cruise experience. One thing that we have learned in our cruising is that a ship can be old, yet be well maintained and not show her age. The Millennium fits into this category.
After getting settled in the cabin we began exploring the ship. We quickly discovered several public rooms that would become our favorites The Gova Cafe and the Martini Bar were active spots on board that always attracted a crowd. We did miss the ice bar top the Eclipse had in the Martini Bar though.
I did notice that "Extreme" the Sports Bar did not open during our cruise. This was a really cool place that had large televisions and a ping pong table. It is a shame that the space was never used.
Another space that we found difficult to access was the conservatory. Whenever we would try and visit the conservatory it was closed. On one of our sea days we were finally able to see it. What a peaceful and beautiful place. It is a shame that they are doing away with the Conservatory during the dry dock process when they "Solsticize" the ship in 2012.
Michael's Club on the Millennium has entertainment and a crowd. On the Eclipse, Michael's Club was barely used.
The retail shops on the Millennium were not impressive. The Eclipse has an amazing shopping area. I hope they renovate this area when the ship goes into dry dock in 2012.
All in all, I found the public areas to be in fairly good shape considering the age of the ship. A dry dock in 2012 will definitely "spruce up" the ship.
As soon as we boarded the ship we headed to our cabin to drop off our personal belongings. We were booked on a concierge cabin on deck 8. The cabin was located on the port side of the vessel and had a nice balcony. The size of the balcony on the Millennium seemed a bit smaller than that on the Eclipse. The cabin itself had plenty of storage space and an LCD TV. The cabin was nicely decorated and clean. The only remark that my daughter made was that the bedspread smelled old. The interactive feature of the television was not working on our cruise due to an upgrade that was being performed on the system.
Entertainment and Activities
We only attended one show during our cruise. The "Boogie Wonderland" show on the last night of the cruise was amazing. We truly enjoyed ourselves an thought it was better than some of the shows on the Eclipse.
The calypso duo that played on the ship was also very good. We spent most of the days lounging by the pool and enjoying the sun. Chose not to participate in the activities on board the ship.
Ports of Call
The ports of call on our cruise were not known until the night before embarkation due to Hurricane Rina. As a result of the hurricane our ship could not visit Cozumel and instead spent a day in Nassau. Many passengers were disappointed, but all realized that it was inevitable due to the storm.
During our stop in Nassau we chose to visit Atlantis. My 13 year old daughter wanted to do the water slides in Atlantis so we took a taxi to Paradise Island and paid the exorbitant fee to spend a day on their property. We all had a good time and my daughter especially enjoyed the experience.
Key West was a port of call that was interesting to say the least. It turns out that we stopped in Key West during Fantasy Fest. Duval Street was closed due to a street festival that was going to take place at noon. There was a lot to experience during this brief six hour stop. Unfortunately, some of the experience was not suitable for young children. Several times I had to cover my daughter's eyes due to the sights that are a part of Fantasy Fest.
We did choose to visit "Sloppy Joe's" and have a bit to eat before heading back to the ship.
This is an area that Celebrity excels in. The preparation and presentation of the food on board the Millennium was what I had thought to expect on the ship. The food in the MDR was excellent. The only disappointment was what other reviewers had stated concerning the menu on the one formal night of the cruise. The menu on that night was average and did not contain any entrees that one would expect, such as lobster or filet Mignon.
The Ocean Cafe food selections included everything that one would expect such as a pasta station, Tandoori station, Pizza and a Panini station. The breakfast buffet also provided the obligatory omelet station, as well as an assortment of hot side items such as corned beef hash, bacon and sausage.
Our cabin steward was amazing. Shortly after sailing we still had not received two pieces of luggage. I called him and explained the situation. Within a few minutes he appeared at our door with both pieces. It seems that they were placed in front of another stateroom.
During the cruise our cabin received regular turn down service and was kept spotless.
We chose traditional late seating for our dinner service. Again we were fortunate to have a great waiter and assistant. We received prompt service every night and enjoyed the dinning experience. We heard from a few other passengers that they did not have great service.
The 4 night cruise was short, but an enjoyable vacation. The relaxing nature of the Celebrity cruise experience made it exactly what I needed--- a de-stresser. I would without a doubt do it again.