Went on this cruise with my mother, I bought her the cruise as a Christmas present. We went on the 4 night Western Caribbean cruise aboard Celebrity Millennium embarking from Miami, stopping in Key West for half a day and Cozumel for a full day.
I have only ever been on one cruise (Carnival) and my mother has never cruised before, so we didn't have a lot of expectations other than we wanted to relax and enjoy warm weather and sunshine (we are from Michigan, and in January, we don't see the sun much).
I read reviews of the Millennium before we left and wasn't sure what to expect because many were good, many were bad. Ultimately we thought the cruise was FANTASTIC and we could not find anything to complain about.
I will start with embarkation:
We arrived at the airport and were planning to find a cab, but found that there was a bus waiting at the airport that would take you directly to the cruise ship for around $16 per person. We were told the first bus would leave in an hour so we walked around the airport for a short time and returned. We got on the bus and were at the cruise port less than 20 minutes later. Once we got to the cruise port, we were told we could go ahead and board, which was not something we expected, since when I called the day prior, they told me boarding would not be before 1:30 pm. We arrived to the airport around 9:30am, and were on board the ship by 11:00 am or so. Getting on was a total breeze, no lines really, just check in and follow the leader, and get on. Upon boarding, we were greeted by crew members dressed in their tuxedos, handing us Champagne. Once on board we were told our cabins were not ready but that they had a lunch buffet ready for us. We were tired from an early morning flight and hungry so we grabbed a table and some food. The food was pretty good, and it was nice to be on board already relaxing in the sunshine. After lunch, we laid on the top deck in the sun and listened to music, very relaxing. An hour or so later, they told us we could go to our rooms.
We were in Concierge Class, Cabin 8055. Okay location midship, we had a bit of a walk either way but that was fine. The room itself was pretty standard, but was much nicer than the Carnival cruise I had previously been on. The room was well appointed, and very clean. We had a welcome bottle of sparkling wine and fruit waiting for us which was a really nice touch, along with flowers. Each day our fruit was replenished, and we received afternoon canapes each day in our room (they werent the greatest, but it was still a nice touch). The cabin was kept clean, and our beds were turned down each night with a chocolate. We had a veranda as well, which is definitely the way to go, it is so nice to sit on the balcony and watch the sights and hear the waves, we even slept with the door slightly open and there is nothing like sleeping to the sound of waves crashing against the cruise ship, so relaxing and peaceful.
We really enjoyed the food, we had breakfast delivered to our room every morning, and Concierge class has a menu with a few more items on it, so we enjoyed that. The breakfast was great, a lot of options for room service, and we chose what time we wanted breakfast delivered every morning and it was always prompt. They always called a moment or two before delivering breakfast which was also quite conscientious.
The buffet's were okay, I would not say they were fantastic, but they were definitely enough variety to keep most happy and the quality was fine.
We only ate in the restaurant one night, as we had our dinner delivered to our room every other night, which is another perk of concierge class. The restaurant was fine, but honestly, with a private balcony, I would much rather have dinner in the room and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and the breeze. I did not enjoy the restaurant too much because its inside and feels kind of claustrophobic to me. The Olympic (I think that's what it was called) the private restaurant with a $40 per person surcharge, was booked for the entire cruise with a wait list so we did not get to try that, but it looked very nice. We really enjoyed our dinner, there were a lot of good options, and when you are on a cruise, the nice thing is you can order whatever you want, we ordered multiple appetizers and entrees and if we didn't like something, we just didn't eat it. Overall I felt the dinner was excellent and being able to have it delivered to your room was a major plus!
I was worried because the ship is being remodeled soon, and many reviews said it was a "tired" ship in need of an upgrade. I found that to be untrue. While it may be getting upgraded soon, its still nice, and the condition of the ship certainly did not spoil my time. I felt that it was well kept, it was nice, clean and actually pretty modern, I am excited to see what it will look like when its remodeled if this is what Celebrity considers in need of a remodel. I have to say when I cruised with Carnival the ship was way more dated and was not getting refurbished anytime soon that I was aware of. I thought the use of space was really well done.
I was concerned because this is a big ship, and some of the reviews talked about lines and hoards of people. I know this was a sold out ship because I checked a couple of days before to see what was still available in terms of rooms. It NEVER felt like it was at capacity, as a matter of fact, on multiple occasions, my mom and I said that we felt like we had the ship to ourselves. One night we were sitting at the champagne bar and we were the only ones there, it was only 8 or 9pm.
The pool/deck area was definitely crowded during the day, but there were many spaces you could go where there were chairs to layout away from the pool/crowd/music. I find the belly flop and other silly contests to be annoying and obnoxious, and I never really encountered one because there were so many options for places to lay out and relax. I really couldn't figure out where all the people were or if they just all stayed in their rooms, at times, it felt very peaceful and quiet.
Ultimately, whoever Celebrity hired to figure out their people flow, did a fantastic job, and I have no doubt they have put some money into consultants because they are doing things right, and very well in terms of people flow and care of passengers.
Whenever you get on and off the ship, you really feel like you are coming home, and the staff usually say "welcome home." It was a nice feeling. They greeted us with water and juice whenever we got back on board from port, as well as iced towels to clean your hands, very nice touches, and very smart in terms of keeping things clean and decreasing risk of illness. Again, gotta hand it to Celebrity here, they are very thoughtful!
Key West, I have been here a billion times, so nothing new, but it was still fun as Key West always is, the only thing I wished was that we had more time in Key West, only had half a day.
Cozumel, I had previously been to Cozumel twice, this was my third time, my mother's first. We walked away from the tourist trap when you first get off the boat at the port and rented a Jeep from a guy downtown (for half the price of the Jeep excursion). He provided us a map and told us a few good places to go, we got to explore a side of Cozumel most tourists probably don't see and it was pretty fun. We drove along the ocean and ate at a great place called Coconuts, up high above the crashing waves with fantastic views and even better food. It was a long day in Cozumel and I felt they timed it very well, we were there from 11am to 8pm, and that was a good amount of time for Cozumel, it was really nice.
Day at Sea:
the day at sea was so nice and relaxing and peaceful. I thought that this is when all the people would come out and the lines would be ridiculous, but it really was not, and it was quite enjoyable. We booked a special at the spa, five mini treatments at a good price, and it was VERY nice and relaxing. The Spa itself is just okay. I have been to spas all over, from Bora Bora to Up North Michigan and felt that this spa certainly could have improved, but it was not horrible by any means. It was relaxing and tranquil for the most part and both my mother and I enjoyed our treatments.
My mother bought an internet package deal the first day on board and was able to use internet in designated areas on her lap top. The only complaint I would have about the internet is that it would be really nice to have it in your room, however they said they are adding this feature when they remodel the ship. The other internet problem was that my mom had a package but it kept billing her separately so we had a few charges on our on board expense account that weren't accurate, however, when I called, they took them off with no question or problem and were very kind and courteous.
Literally took less than 5 minutes, including customs! Wow, Celebrity should train the other cruise ships in this respect. They told us we had to leave our room and meet in a specified area for disembarkation, at 7am, I called guest services and they told me that we could stay in our room until 8 am and could stay on the ship until 9:30am, so we did, since we had a later flight. We had breakfast and relaxed on the back of the deck, there is this great little eating area that is all wood and has great views off the back of the ship. Others had the same idea as us and it was pretty busy. They kept making announcements that there was no line to leave, so that was really helpful, because we knew when it would be a good time to leave, when we finally did, totally impressed by how breezy it was getting off the boat.
If you are looking to be pampered and have a relaxing time, I would say Celebrity is the way to go. Concierge class is a nice touch, but the extras such as priority embarkation and disembarkation are not necessary, and I never saw any such thing while I was getting on or off and wondered what they were referring to, although we also never had to wait in lines either...
I would absolutely cruise with Celebrity again, and hope that my next cruise with them is as smooth as this one. I felt they went above and beyond and really made it a great experience. I cant believe there are people who complain about this cruise ship/line, I just cant imagine what they are used to or expect. It should be noted that I am not easily appeased either. I am an avid traveler and a self proclaimed hotel snob, so this is not a review from someone who just "goes with the flow."
I cant wait to go on my next Celebrity cruise, hoping it will be in the coming year!