I sailed with my brother--not my husband. Celebrity had a hard time understanding that two people with the same last name were not husband and wife, but that in no way impacted our enjoyment of the cruise. We are both in our mid-forties, my brother single, myself married but left DH at home (He's absolutely sure he'll hate cruising, but I'll change his mind.) We both like to travel and have travelled and lived in different countries.
Pre-Cruise Hotel: We flew into Miami and stayed at the Coral Gables Westin. We wanted quiet, safe, and elegant and that's exactly what we got. We booked through Celebrity and were put in a room which opened up right on the colonnade where the pool was located. The colonnade is a beautiful, peaceful area to enjoy the wee morning hours before the city awakes-high enough up to see the stars. I felt perfectly safe walking out on my own for my 0500 constitutional on the streets of Coral Gables. The area is full of boutique shops and all kinds of unique restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
Embarkation: We used the shuttle provided with our pre-cruise hotel by Celebrity. They pick up everyone at various hotels in the area and then head to the port --about a 1/2 hour ride after all the stops. It was a great way to meet fellow cruise passengers. We arrived about 1215. We went through a tedious security checkpoint-it took about 20 minutes. (Not really that long, but I couldn't wait to get on the boat --LOL!) After that on to get our Sea Pass. There were no lines here, despite the lines at security. They had separate lines for concierge, suites, etc. Our attendant seemed new and a little unsure about the process, but he was very polite. We received a very tiny map enclosed within your key card folder which shows the deck plan of the ship. You will need a magnifying glass to read it, but don't worry, getting around the Millie was easy-even for a first timer. As soon as you cross the gangway, they have attendants with champagne, mimosas, or OJ waiting for you. As others have stated, there wasn't really any direction as to where to go after that. We wondered what to do for about 2 minutes than they announced that our rooms were ready.
Stateroom: We were worried that we wouldn't be able to get away from the crowds, so I did a lot of research on cruise critic and booked us a sky suite with a very large veranda (6132)-just to be on the safe side. We worried for naught, but more about that later. The balcony is triangular shaped, faces forward, and mostly uncovered. The small section which is about the size of most other sky suite balconies is covered. The beds were very comfortable-firm for my brother and soft for me. Our room attendant, Luna, changed out my pillows to memory foam pillows. She and our butler, John kept our room beautiful. We had chilled champagne upon arrival and we were delivered fresh flowers, afternoon tea, cakes, savory snacks, and a fruit bowl daily. We thought it was great for the price we paid. There were nice toiletries in the bathroom. I will definitely skip bringing my own body wash and shampoo next time. The only thing I really didn't like was the tub in the bathroom. It was very high to step over to take a shower. I would've preferred a walk-in shower. That being said, the tub is plenty deep enough to take a good bath if you desired. Everything was clean and in working order.
Special Perk: If you are a suite customer or concierge class customer, you may get special invitations to events around the ship. Awaiting us on one of the beds was an invitation to the Captain's sail away party on the helipad. What a marvelous way to start out journey!!
Ship-The Millennium: I can't really compare her to any others as she was my first, but in my eyes she was beautiful. There were so many things to see and plenty of spaces to hide away. Admittedly, I was wide-eyed with wonder. You can always find a spot for quiet relaxation, an energetic party, or anything in between. All the jewelry shops seemed a little odd, however, I guess that's status quo on cruises. It would be nice to have a larger sundry shop. They had just one little wall in the liquor outlet. I loved the seating in the theater with little tables for your drink. I was always able to find a seat front and center for the later show. Neither of us ever felt crowded or experienced any kind of "cattle car" mentality at any time on the ship.
Pools and Spa: I never had a problem finding a lounge chair by the pool. I thought the main pools were sort of small, but maybe they just seemed small because there were so many people around them. The thalassotherapy pool was magnificent and included with price of the cruise. This was my fave hangout. It didn't fade my bathing suit, but it did relax my muscles. The Persian Gardens were a little overrated. They have a lot there in a very small space, so you may need to wait to use some of the rooms. I paid for a pass for the whole cruise and only used them twice. In the future, I would just pay per day that I wanted to use them. I booked a massage on a shore day; the service and masseuse were excellent. They do have a hard sell on their Elemis spa products.
Activities and Entertainment: There were so many activities available. You could easily keep busy even if you were travelling alone. Of course I wanted to do everything, but just couldn't. I caught a galley tour, some cooking demonstrations, and a champagne tasting (Yes, there is a pattern here--foodie!)The shows were fun to watch, but I could see how they would be redundant on a longer cruise. The juggler was a hoot. Metropark, an a cappella group was magnificent--I would pay to hear them. Late night there wasn't much going-Cosmos seemed to play the same dance mix every night, but if you're out with new friends--who cares?! We are generally not "late night" people BUT we were on holiday! We did see a bar fight one night at Cosmos --too much to drink and too much testosterone. We were with several elite Celebrity members who stated they had never seen this occur on a Celebrity ship before--I guess there is a first time for everything. Security handled it quickly and smoothly. Everyone was dancing again in about 15 minutes.
Food: We originally were booked into "Select Dining" and did dine in select the first night. The service was great at first, but went "south" after the main course was served. We had to wait some time for drinks, desserts, and they even lost my Sea Pass Card at one point. (They found it 45 minutes later, though; it is amazing that this didn't happen more often.) The second night, we ate at the Olympic-the food and the service were outstanding-definitely worth the fee to dine here. We met some wonderful folks who invited us to their late seating in the DR and ate there every night for the rest of the cruise. Great service and great food! Sometimes we had two appetizers, once a chocolate souffle from the Olympic; they really cater to your every whim. If you don't like an entree-get another, or describe how you'd like something fixed, plus they'll gladly give you two entrees if you can't make up your mind. That would have to be my one complaint--too many choices. One side of the menu is fixed and the other side rotates nightly with chef's specials. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch; there was something for everyone there-from spicy Asian dishes, to English breakfast, plus all kinds of eggs Benedict, and your usual pasta, omelet, and fresh waffle stations.
Children's Activities: We did not utilize this service. However, I was told by one of the staff that there were 74 children on board and you never would've known it. So, they must've been very busy all the time.
Service: The crew members of the Millennium make this cruise special. The staff on the Millennium were ever-present and always gracious. I NEVER had anyone be cranky or treat me anyway other than special. Boy, did I miss that when I disembarked! The captain and crew were visible throughout the cruise chatting with passengers. We had extensive conversations with the cruise director, Rich, and Caissie, the activities director both of whom wanted to know what they could do to make our experience better. Every staff member I met greeted me and asked how I was enjoying my cruise. Some have noted some issues at the Cova CafÃ© and I have to say that I spent a lot of time there-often opening and closing the place-and never had anyone be rude or act put out by my requests. From the first day, the staff at the Cova remembered me by name and knew how I liked my coffee.
Disembarkation: We were supposed to have our luggage bagged/tagged and outside of our stateroom by 2300. Well, we missed it, so had to self disembark. And was I ever glad we missed it. We, literally woke up, ate breakfast, grabbed our luggage, and were headed down the gangway in minutes--off ship by 0730. Concierge was a wonderful help to get us an earlier flight out of MIA-finding all the options available to us. We were originally scheduled on an 1800 flight, but they were able to get us on an 1100 flight.
Summary: As a first cruise, Celebrity Millenium was fantastic. I would highly recommend this 5 night cruise and this cruise line to first time cruisers, people who are mellow, and people who just need to relax. Warning: This cruise line may addict you to cruising!! Have already booked my next one....