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24 Celebrity British Columbia Cruise Reviews

This was my first cruise with Celebrity and was the worst cruise vacation so far because of the services food quality and entertainment. Embarkation at Yokohama was very unorganized and confusing : no signboards directing guests where to ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Celebrity and was the worst cruise vacation so far because of the services food quality and entertainment. Embarkation at Yokohama was very unorganized and confusing : no signboards directing guests where to check in their bags and where to line up for passenger check in procedures, very few guest relation staff to help out guests, insufficient chairs in the terminal hall. The overall services of most staff members were satisfactory. However, my cabin attendant was careless in doing his job. He did not refill shampoo bottle when empty. He only provide one bathing soap for 2 persons in the cabin for the entire cruise. He even left a cleaning spray bottle on the floor outside the washroom one evening. I came across 2 cabin attendants on my deck floor and one officer on the staircase and they had a very unhappy faces and did not let you pass. I had to step aside and let them go first. On several occasions, I saw bucket of water with cleaning towel in it left in the deck corridor overnight. For the first 7 day of the cruise, buffet meals in the main dinning room were served by staff members but they were under staff and did not know their duties very well. Guests had to face with long line up for food and drinks. The food in all restaurants was always cold and of poor quality : steak overcooked, shrimps and lobster tasteless. They deployed too many waiters selling soft drinks and alcohol during meals, even at breakfast. The shows in the theater were only satisfactory. They had too many guest speakers giving out boring talks and only staged 1 movie at the theater during the entire cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We had a very fantastic and enjoyable trip crossing the Pacific -- the entertainment was outstanding, the lecturers knowledgeable and witty, the service top notch, the food delicious (especially the Olympic) and the crew entirely ... Read More
We had a very fantastic and enjoyable trip crossing the Pacific -- the entertainment was outstanding, the lecturers knowledgeable and witty, the service top notch, the food delicious (especially the Olympic) and the crew entirely approachable with excellence in the forefront. I have read other reviews about this trip and although I agree with some of the points raised I wholeheartedly disagree with complaints about the ship and crew. First to mention, our upgrade from 'suite guarantee' to a Royal Suite was fantastic and made for a very incredible trip! Hence, I imagine part of our experiences enjoyed on the voyage may not be comparable to others. Embarkation in Yokohama was confusing and if we had not taken matters into our own hands it could have been a long and drawn out process (i.e. waiting in line to get a number to wait in line to get processed). But, that was the port’s process, not the ship. Since we were in a suite we by-passed that process, although we had to convince security to let us through; however, once we got into the ship's processing area we were treated like royalty. There, we were met by Maritza (Michael’s Club concierge) and personally escorted on board to Michael’s Club -- where we waited comfortably while our room was readied, which needless to say, was fantastic -- and our butler, Richard, was outstanding! This was the inauguration of Michael’s Club on the Millennium and I want to say we were totally spoiled by the service. Maritza did an outstanding job of making everyone feel welcome and helping to connect everyone in the club; also, kudos go out to Helen and Tipi for providing great service. The port stops were in Hakodate, Muroran (Sapporo) and Petropavlovsk. These are not the most exciting ports, but a chance to see something different. Hakodate’s port was quite far from the city. Buses were provided to the central market area (school children were at the port to assist with information and giving themselves a chance to practice their English which was a nice touch). Muroran was also a port far from the city. Here we opted for the one hour bus to Sapporo and explored on our own. We just missed the peek of the cherry blossoms, although there were still many in bloom. As an added delight, a very beautiful send off came from the locals as the ship was preparing to leave. The next port, Petropavlovsk, was a running joke by Steve, the cruise director, on the inefficiencies of the Russian customs which surprisingly enough did not present any problem to us in getting off the ship; we took a cruise tour to avoid the visa issue (the U.S. embargo was a problem with purchasing though, charge cards were denied and dollars were not accepted at the places we were trying to buy). The delay came, however, as the ship was trying to leave because of passport issues (5 hours delay) -- partly due to Russian immigration and partly due to the ship needing a better system on making it known about the re-collection of passports upon re-boarding. We almost walked through without turning ours in and we could see how others could have gotten by. One of the other complaints of reviewers had to do with the norovirus outbreak and the constant announcements on washing hands. I think the crew did a very good job of cleaning all parts of the ship during the initial week when this was identified as a problem, and even afterwards when it was contained. Actually, one precaution that was practiced when we first boarded that I believe should have been continued was having attendants serve all buffet items to keep the guests hands out of the food areas including beverage dispensers. Steve, the cruise director, did a fantastic job of providing top-notch entertainment, considering having to get a new act on the spur of the moment when one group was denied entrance into Japan. The concert pianist was a magnificent showman, especially with the addition of the young violinist. The other outstanding addition to this cruise was the Celebrity Corporate Executive Chef Rufino joining the cruise to give cooking demonstrations and classes (a favorite with my wife). The last treat was the captain took the inside passage on the way into Vancouver. Overall this trip set a high bar for service and enjoyment for all of our cruises going forward.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Turning 50 is one of those big milestones in your life that deserve to be celebrated. So, I found what I thought to be the perfect way to do that for my Wife..."Deanna's Hawaii 5-0 Cruise" on the Celebrity Solstice! We had ... Read More
Turning 50 is one of those big milestones in your life that deserve to be celebrated. So, I found what I thought to be the perfect way to do that for my Wife..."Deanna's Hawaii 5-0 Cruise" on the Celebrity Solstice! We had cruised with Celebrity once before (Auckland to Hawaii in 2008) and enjoyed a fantastic time so we had high expectations of this newer & much larger ship...and we weren't disappointed! Everything about it from the service to the food, the staff to the facilities and the entertainment to the bars & restaurants was truly EXCELLENT! I can't thank our Travel Agent Andrea West (www.luxuriousjourneys.com) enough for helping us (& our two Aussie friends) get the best possible deal (including ALL beverages!) and the ideal room on board. I highly recommend her service to anyone considering a cruise! Boarding in Honolulu was fairly easy and didn't take that long. As the ship stayed in port that night, we took the opportunity to go shopping and then met up with our friends for cocktails at the "Aft Bar" high above the stern and watched the sunset over the harbour. That's where we met one of our favourite crew Mark (from Jamaica) who really made us feel welcome and poured drinks the way we like them-STRONG :-) We had anytime dining so the 4 of us headed to the MDR around 8.30pm and had no trouble finding a table. The service & food was excellent every night that we dined there (4 of the 10 nights) and it really is a beautiful venue. We found a cool cocktail bar that had a bar top made of ICE where we enjoyed more cocktails & funky beats before we went to the nightclub & danced into the wee small hours...a pattern which we repeated for almost every night. (Here we made another friend in "Dani" from the Czech Republic who became our favourite barman & he really looked after us for the entire cruise) The next day was more shopping & then we met up with our friends for "Maitais" at the "Royal Hawaiian" on Waikiki beach, where we stayed until 4.30pm and got back to the ship in time to make the sailing but sadly missed the lifeboat drill (NOT!) It was then that I realized it was the first formal night and I had sent my tuxedo away for pressing that morning (thinking it was the next night) so it was a mad rush to get it back and I can't thank our room attendant Lyn enough for making that happen in time! It was this night that our friend Al found the place that was to become our favourite...the "Molecular Bar!" The two 'scientists' (the best way to describe them) made the most amazing cocktails we've ever had using ingredients that you would never believe would work. However, I learned a valuable lesson...only have ONE of their cocktails BEFORE dinner if you want to remember what you ate. The first port of call was Lahaina on Maui and the tender process was well organised with no real wait time. It probably helped that we were late risers and had things to do before we went ashore (I went to the gym every morning, which was excellent. It even had a sauna in the changing room which I only discovered on day 5 of the cruise) and that we never use pre-booked excursions so there was no need to rush. We had researched the historic places to visit (the Wo Hing Museum is great) so it was a nice afternoon strolling about & just taking in the scenery. There are plenty of bars overlooking the ocean for a nice cold "Maitai" (it was quite hot that day) and the people are friendly & welcoming. To my credit cards regret, we discovered an "Outlet Centre" at the end of the main street with a great range of designer stores, so my Wife shopped up a storm again & we headed back to the ship having made a great contribution to the local economy. The next port was "Hilo" on the Big Island and even though it was a wet, dreary day, it was another nice place to stroll around, after our taxi driver had taken us up to the impressive waterfall which was really roaring due to the rains. Here, we saw ladies with incredible skill creating beautiful feather lais and hat bands at the "Lyman Museum" along with other interesting displays depicting the islands history & culture. Well worth a visit. The following day, our last port of call was "Kona" on the other side of the Big Island. This was my favourite destination. It helped that it turned out to be a gorgeous day and the vibe of the place was really great. Again, we sought out the historic places including a huge stone & timber church and directly opposite, the Royal Palace (a place for the royal family to get away from the mainland) which was hosted by a really nice group of volunteers who escorted the 4 of us throughout & explained all of the interesting facts about the history and the stunning collection of furniture/art it contains. The other places that are a 'must see' in Kona are the reconstructed temple of King Kamehameha and the art gallery inside the hotel behind it, with a series of incredible paintings that tell the story of how Hawaii came to be. We ended our day ashore with a swim at the little beach by the temple (there a changing rooms, etc close by) and even without goggles, I could still see a multitude of fish around the rocks at the entrance to the little cove. Another thing that impressed me was the outrigger canoe school that was taking place on the same beach. Groups of young people were being taught how to paddle the canoes and off they would go out into the bay, one after the other. Certainly a great way to involve them in their culture and give them a fun experience, instead of play station or getting into mischief. Something our country should take note of. From then on, it was 5 days at sea on the way to Vancouver. This is the part of the cruise that I really enjoy. No need to get up & be somewhere or do anything, unless you want to. Time to relax, read or do whatever takes your fancy...and the Solstice is well set up for that. We pre-booked a speciality dining package which included 5 nights. 2 at "Tuscan Grille" 2 at "Silk Harvest" and one night at "Murano." We chose "Murano" for my Wife's Birthday and the others were booked around that. The staff at "Murano" are top notch. They really know what they are doing. From the time you arrive to the time you leave, you are made to feel special. I would go as far as saying that it is an entertainment experience in itself. But of course, it's also about THE FOOD. DELICIOUS!!! From the Lobster Tails & Chateau Briand cooked table side to the stunning desserts, it truly was spectacular! We chose to pay to go again for our friend Shayle's birthday on the second to last night of the cruise & it was just as good as he first night...so ten out of ten for consistency! "Tuscan Grille" was our next favourite. Again, wonderful service & amazing food! What I really enjoyed was the location. It' right at the end of the stern, with huge windows overlooking the ships wake. I highly recommend asking for a table by the windows. "Silk Harvest" is the Asian fusion restaurant. I love Asian cuisine but while the food was enjoyable (& the service excellent) it could have had more flavour. I realize the need to cater for all tastes but frankly, if you don't like Asian cooking...just don't go. Those who enjoy the intense flavours of Asian cuisine should not have have their experience lessened to cater for those with less tolerant palates. The "Ocean View Cafe" food court was also of a very high standard, with a huge range of different food stations to choose from, that morphed into something else throughout the day. They even had incredible Ice Sculptures! There is also a healthy options cafe located near the fitness centre with smoothies & various other choices for those watching their waist lines. The shows in the theatre were amazing! One was a compilation of famous Broadway Show Tunes and the other a similar show to "Cirque Du Soleil." A very talented group of singers, dancers & acrobats that I would gladly pay to see again. The bands on board who performed in the various bars around the ship were great and they all combined for one big show in the theatre on the last night of the cruise. A great way to end what was a fantastic holiday on board Celebrity Solstice. We will definitely sail with them again!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Spent a total of 40 days on the Solstice starting in Auckland and ending in Vancouver. The good news is I didn't gain any weight. The bad news is the the quality of the food. I'm a elite member of celebrity and always loved the ... Read More
Spent a total of 40 days on the Solstice starting in Auckland and ending in Vancouver. The good news is I didn't gain any weight. The bad news is the the quality of the food. I'm a elite member of celebrity and always loved the line because of the food. I don't know what happened but I was definitely disappointed with this cruise. Also felt the wait staff was very rushed and for a cruise line that advertises it meets all your needs even before you knew you had them, it certainly didn't come through with it's promise. Even when we asked for certain things we were often told they weren't available. The ship itself was very clean and the room stewards were wonderful. The public rest rooms usually had a staff member assigned to it. The hand rails were constantly being cleaned which is really good for keeping illness down. But the ship is definitely showing it's age especially in the cabins. The entertainment was average with the exception of the show Solstice which was fabulous. Their enrichment program which I have always loved was not up to par as most of the speakers were boring or not related to the cruise we were on. The ship didn't seem to have a user friendly flow. Having to hang over the balconies to watch shows in the grand foyer was very uncomfortable. For a ship that caters to an older crowd here were only 7 tables dedicated to card playing in a very noisy area of the ship as it did not have an assigned room. On the last leg of the trip from On the last leg from Hawaii to Vancouver the ship changed it's activity director and things improved somewhat. But even with that I think this will be my last time sailing on the Solstice category. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
First the good news. We were in Aqua class and it was outstanding. The food was great for breakfast and dinner. Service was terrific and the maitre d was the best we have ever seen.Unfortunately Aqua class was the saving grace of our trip. ... Read More
First the good news. We were in Aqua class and it was outstanding. The food was great for breakfast and dinner. Service was terrific and the maitre d was the best we have ever seen.Unfortunately Aqua class was the saving grace of our trip. From embarking in Shanghai onwards we were completely disappointed with all aspects of the cruise. Embarkation at Shanghai took two hours and the crew tried to blame the Chinese authorities, but we breezed thru immigration and were only held up because of the shortage of Celebrity staff and scanning machines on the gangway. This continued to be an issue at every port of call.Having got on board we went for lunch at the Oceanview Cafe. Sub standard food and a very drab environment. I have spent a lot of time in hospital cafeterias and most provided a better experience than the Oceanview cafe. As mentioned we could eat breakfast and dinner in Blu but had to endure Oceanview for lunch. We often opted for lunch at Bistro on Five which was $5 each extra but it was better although very limited in choice. Throughout there was an obvious attempt to separate us from our cash with drink packages, expensive shore excursions and "if you don't like the food why not try a speciality restaurant".The entertainment was very average with repeat shows on a regular basis and seemed to end in about 40 mins each night. Others have mentioned Norovirus and coughing from many passengers and I will not add to the comments except to say it was not well handled by the crew.This is a very ordinary ship posing as a 5 Star cruise. One of the many negative comments from our fellow passengers focused on the lack of visibility of the officers who seemed to be in hiding for most of the trip and the customer service staff should all consider a career change.On our return we immediately cancelled our planned cruise to Australia in the fall with Celebrity and will probably not consider them for our cruising again. One wonders if cruise lines are cutting back costs to try and fill the ever larger ships they keep launching. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
The Missus and I booked a quickie on the Millennium from San Diego to Vancouver for a number of reasons. First, there aren't that many short West Coast cruises anymore. Second, it was an easy way to achieve Elite status on ... Read More
The Missus and I booked a quickie on the Millennium from San Diego to Vancouver for a number of reasons. First, there aren't that many short West Coast cruises anymore. Second, it was an easy way to achieve Elite status on Celebrity. Third, it was a way to experience Aqua Class, on the cheap, in a newly "Solsticized" Millennium-class ship. We were originally booked for Concierge but found that, for not a whole lot extra, we could upgrade to Aqua. Done. We previously cruised on the Summit and Infinity, pre-Solstice. After reading the not-too-positive reviews of Millennium right before it went into the yard for the update, we wondered what we were getting into - and whether the ship would be released on schedule in time for our cruise. Millennium was out of service just long enough to complete the renovations started on the previous cruise. Thus, there was a lot left undone - it would have been nice to scrub off the dirt and spray over the rust spots. What was done, was similar to other Millennium-class ships that received the Solstice treatment. Most of you already know this. But if you do not: The Fun Factory kids' space was moved out and new cabins were installed on Deck 11, turning that space into true revenue space. A group of former Concierge cabins on 9 also were turned into Aqua cabins; having stayed on that deck before, I could see the need to add more bells and whistles. They're right under the pool deck and there is not a lot of sun or sky visible from the verandas, as well. The bells and whistles of Aqua, of course, are having the run of its own specialty restaurant, Blu, as well as Persian Gardens access. Likes: Our Deck 11 cabin: It was nice to move into a cabin that has barely been lived in. Everything's new. No wear, no bedbugs. None of the furniture or woodwork has been beaten up yet. You're only one deck above the Oceanside Cafe for a quick, non-Blu bite, and from the pool area. However, you're a long way from everything else, especially AquaSpa (after all, isn't this what Aqua class is all about?). The verandas need better care. The stewards hadn't time to spray everything down, and everything was encrusted with salt. The chairs are metal with a Sunbrella-type fabric, and are nice once they're cleaned off. Really liked the rain shower in the cabin bathroom, along with the accompanying full-body shower, once I mastered the controls. The more you use it, though, the more water you leak through the double tempered-glass doors into the bathroom. It is still an enjoyable soak. The new Aqua deck is new and unproven territory to the cabin stewards. Not everything promised appeared at once, but it took only a day to produce them all - tea, flowers, canapes, and the like. The champagne went quickly. Our stewards, Javier and Humberto, were hard-working and likeable, and efficient; this wasn't always the case on previous Celebrity cruises. Blu: probably the most controversial aspect of our cruise. We thought the food wouldn't be any different than the Metropolitan Dining Room in which it resides. We ate breakfast and dinner there the entire cruise, which changed our minds 180 degrees. Blu can be thought of, either as another specialty restaurant (with fairly exclusive access) or as a really cool restaurant you might find on shore. Some of the entrees mirror what's being served in the Metropolitan, but Blu has its own kitchen and chefs and the entrees are prepared in a different manner. As with any land-based restaurant, Blu has its good (and, not-so-good) nights. Some meals are done quite well, thank you, in Blu. They serve a mean steak. The Missus raved about the scallops appetizer - as tender a product as we've had on shore. Others? The desserts can be a bit over the top. A "parfait" is normally layers of ingredients served in a special glass. In Blu, it is served in a flat tray with each layer laid out separately. A pea soup is so neon-green that you want to run back to your stateroom for sunglasses. Yet, it tastes terrific. You really have to expect the unexpected in this particular restaurant. Blu breakfasts are relatively pedestrian, in comparison. Lots of the usual staples - baked goods, griddle stuff. Since it serves Aqua passengers, there is an emphasis on healthy stuff. Several parfaits (in real parfait glasses) and smoothies are offered. The staff makes muesli from scratch. Your mind may tell you that traditional muesli is a watery, milky gruel. Here, you call the shots in assembling your muesli, from a cart loaded with ingredients. Your taste buds will tell you that you did very well. It really is good, and you should try it at least once. Previous messages on the CC boards indicated dissatisfaction with the "coziness" of the seating in Blu. It isn't a very big space for all the Aqua passengers. You are so close to your neighbor's table that you can reach over and sample what is on their plates. The space issue didn't bother us after the first day. In fact, we struck up quite a few conversations with those at neighboring tables. Because of the space issue, we found the dinner seating far better after 7:30 or 8:00 (the restaurant is open from 6:00 - 9:30 p.m.). Jovet was the maitre d' in Blu for this particular cruise. He is a "trainer" maitre d' - he works with the restaurant staff to ensure they get things right, after a fashion, before moving on to the next new Blu (he's bound for the last new Solstice ship when it comes on line this year). Jovet rushed around, greeting guests, busing tables, talking, always talking with the guests. During a slack period, he explained that he led by example; if the boss is doing what the rest of the staff is doing, everyone else has no excuses. On every other cruise we've been on, we might see the maitre d' circulating on the last night of a cruise, fishing for tips. Not in Blu. As previously mentioned, Blu can have good and bad nights. This was especially true when dinner patrons couldn't stagger their arrival times, such as when shore tours returned late to the ship. Under a full load, the kitchen staff tended to falter under stress. Entrees would come late, and cold. My lobster tails were a half-hour behind schedule, and were tough and rubbery. We gave up on dessert one night when the waiter disappeared on us. Still, this is all new to the staff. They should be able to pull it all together over the long Alaskan cruise season. Persian Gardens: The other bells-and-whistles attraction of Aqua. Nothing new about the Gardens; they've mostly been around since the Millennium-class ships first set sail. What's new is that the Turkish and dry baths, along with the wonderful heated benches, are free to Aqua passengers. Nothing new to most CC readers, here...but we thought this was a great attraction. Thalassotherapy Pool: Our favorite spot. We spent at least a portion of each day there. The cold, blustery weather kept the outside pools and whirlpools from being used to any great extent. Bistro on Five: You do pay a cover charge, but it isn't excessive. They put out excellent crepes and panini sandwiches. Not Crazy About: Martini Bar: It replaced the Internet Cafe. It has a space of its own now, instead of being part of a lounge. We found it to be a bit "gimmicky". The bartenders were nowhere near as fun as those in the previous Martini Bar. Cosmos: The traditional lounge above the Spa has been bisected by the kids' Fun Factory. I hate this, although I know it had to go somewhere after being 86'd by our Deck 11 Aqua cabins. Now the lounge has lost its symmetry as well as most of its space. The panoramic view is gone. Because the space is smaller, sound tends to bounce around more (the party band, Headlines, is pretty good - but would it kill them to lower the sound level by half?). The Cosmos sign is not located above the main door. It is located, instead, in the domed atrium leading to the jogging track outside. How many guests expect to come to Cosmos that way? iLounge: Only good if you're heavily invested in Apple products. Another gimmicky attraction, complimented by the Apple specialty boutique downstairs. Library: Not as good as others in the Celebrity fleet as far as variety of volumes goes. Quite a few books that were non-fiction were labeled as fiction, and vice versa. Celebrity, if you're looking for a fleet librarian, I'm available... Miscellaneous: Qsine: Did not try it on this cruise. We're booked on a 14-day Eastern Canada itinerary on Summit in the fall, and figure to wait until then to help break up the dining monotony (and because we're currently not booked into Aqua, we won't be in Blu for a while). Ditto for The Olympic. Cellar Masters: Also did not try, since we're not big wine snobs. I did like the novelty of the self-serve wine carousel, which is becoming big in some shoreside hotels these days. Tours: Didn't take any. We're from the Bay Area, so San Francisco was old hat for us; we slummed around Pier 39 in the morning and spent a sun-splashed afternoon on our veranda. We've been to Victoria before, and merely walked around town. Those were the only port calls on this repositioning cruise. Entertainment: We had an issue with Take Note, the dance quartet in Rendez-Vous. They took forever to set up (C'mon, people! The Grateful Dead took less time to tune up than you did). And when they did set up, they really weren't very good. Rondell Sheridan, the featured standup comic, is a poor man's Chris Rock and was quite funny. Captain's Club: We are members, but were never notified about the onboard events and missed most of them. The Captain's Club party was rather perfunctory, and conflicted with a lot of mid-afternoon activities. It would be nice if Celebrity enforced the dress code for this event. "Smart Casual" has been dumbed-down to the point that it's a complete joke. You might as well sail on Carnival. Overall: A much better cruise than we expected, thanks to the Aqua Class upgrade. We'll keep trolling for Aqua discounts on future Celebrity cruises. It will be very difficult to return to main (or even Select) dining after we've tried Blu. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our second cruise on Celebrity, the first being on Solstice in the Caribbean in January, this year. I've been following the progression of the "solsticizing" of the Millennium on the Celebrity website, so my hopes ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Celebrity, the first being on Solstice in the Caribbean in January, this year. I've been following the progression of the "solsticizing" of the Millennium on the Celebrity website, so my hopes were high. We booked an Aquaclass cabin, which, at the time, was less than any Concierge class. Then we upgraded to a Suite guarantee for not much more. We flew to San Diego the day of the cruise and took a cab right to the ship. The driver tried to tell us that he only took cash, but we know that in San Diego all taxis are required to accept credit cards (and it's emblazoned all over the cab windows), so we insisted on using credit. The check-in went smoothly until we got on the ship. All on-boarding guests were funneled to a single bank of four elevators, and one was not working. Not a great beginning. We found our cabin, 9123, which turned out to be a Sky Suite "Accessible", meaning wheelchair-accommodating. What that translated to was a bathroom with a floor-level, walk-in/roll-in shower, but with no storage whatsoever -- not one shelf, and a tiny sink. We immediately went to the Guest Relations counter and reported that we did not need the "accessible" part and would greatly prefer to transfer to another cabin. They did not hold out much hope, and told us that they would not know until everyone was on board after the ship sailed. We did not unpack, just in case. We proceeded to an informal Cruise Critic meet-and-greet in the Sunset Bar, which very few of us found. We did at least meet Sigfried and Ilse, Dana (Danna?) and Bruce, and Eric and Jennifer (Gonzo70). Then we all took off to muster, which was short and sweet. We next met our suite butler, Ramir, to whom we repeated our wish to transfer cabins. The first pleasant surprise was an invitation to suite passengers to watch the sailaway from the helipad at the very front of the ship. We were all met in a lounge and then guided through the upper level of the theater outside to the helipad for a selection of sparkling, white and red wines. The weather was wonderful, so this was a great experience! When we got back to our cabin the miracle actually happened! We switched Sky Suites with another couple on the same deck who were very eager for the accessible bathroom because the bathtub was an insurmountable obstacle for the husband. Yippee! We rolled into our new space, 9111, and immediately took off to dinner in the MDR. The table by the window was great, as were our tablemates, and the prime rib was absolutely delicious. The show in the theater was lots of fun, but the lighting on-stage was poor, which I reported to the CD. The next day at sea was sunny but too cold to sit by the pool, never mind get into the pool. One big drawback on this class of ship is that when it's windy and cold outside, the entire pool area and the deck above it are unusable. Even going out to the pool area to grab a burger from the outside grill was unthinkable. That cut out a lot of the ship, not to mention our favorite place to hang out. Finding a quiet place to read was a major problem. The events in the lounges were chatty and loud. We ended up staying in the cabin a lot. We could not use the balcony, either, because it was much too cold. Yes, there were two lounge chairs out there, but oddly, no table at all. The bed was comfortable, especially after we requested extra pillows. That sea day was formal night, and we were surprised that suite passengers could reserve seats in the theater for that evening. That was another nice, surprise perk! That show was introductory and short. The next night's singing and dancing show was the best, and the lighting was better but still weak. There was some confusion about whether, as suite passengers, we were entitled to one free specialty restaurant. Our butler found out that we could book one for $5 each, which we requested him to do on our evening in San Francisco (the next day) -- although the charge was odd. We live in San Francisco, so we played tourist in the morning and greatly enjoyed the fog burning off. Then we stopped off at home to water the plants, since we were so close, and still had plenty of time to get back to the ship for martinis. We reported to Qsine at 9 p.m., as our butler supposedly reserved, but they had no record of us. We reported to Guest Relations to complain, and they got us into Qsine anyway, and for no charge at all. So much for the butler... We had thought it was odd that we received a thank-you note from Qsine that morning instead of the following morning...hmmm... The iPad menu completely baffled me, but my other half figured it out right away. The presentation also put me off, but the food was wonderful and so was the service. We would recommend it after all. All other meals were in the MDR. Breakfast and lunch in the buffet were mostly boring, and the coffee was terrible every day. We picked out the parts we liked, and surely missed the multi-station buffet on the Solstice. We also missed the wonderful central atrium on the Solstice, along with its feeling of space and light. I have never been on a cruise ship where I could not find even one thing I wanted to buy in the shops -- until I got to "The Emporium" on the Millennium. Even the logo wear was not a bit interesting. On this cruise we experienced our first Captain's Club event, which was a cocktail party in Cosmos, which is a great lounge on the top deck, front, just after noon. The sushi was delicious, but the carved beef was way overdone and dry. The crepes Suzette table screamed sugar and did not work well with the cocktail theme. The captain's speech and the introduction of the officers was charming, and the entire event lasted an hour. A nice touch after all. The bars overall were OK, but there was a bartender in the casino who did not know that a cocktail consists of ice, then liquor, then mix. The liquor is never added to the mix; it's the other way around. Not the friendliest guy, either. It seemed to take forever to get into Victoria, BC, where we arrived late. We were surprised to find out how far we docked from the city center, so we took a shuttle bus for $8 each, R/T, which turned out to be a perfect choice. It was gloomy in Victoria, but not raining, so we did a little shopping and found a wonderful little pub, Garrick's Head, in which to enjoy a tall draft pale ale and some onion rings. Perfect! Our disembarkation ("debarkation?") in Vancouver was quick and easy since we walked off with our luggage early and with no crowds at all. It was drizzling when we got off, so we were very happy to discover that the SkyTrain station was quite close to Canada Place (an easy walk). This was our first time taking it to YVR, and it was inexpensive and extremely clean and efficient. San Francisco's BART could learn a lot from them!!! Thinking back on the whole experience, it was an enjoyable trip but not nearly as grand as we pictured. The suite was OK, but not worth the money. We were directly under the pool deck and got very tired of the clomping of shoes and high heels overhead, not to mention the extremely poor idea of the crew rearranging deck furniture at 12:15 a.m.!! Some days we received canapes before dinner, some days we did not. The fruit basket disappeared completely on the next-to-last day. We did a lot more reading than we expected, and we missed the daytime movies that Princess is so good about in the theater. The cold weather at sea kept everyone confined to the inside areas, so perhaps a warmer destination would have helped. For us, we'll stick with the Solstice class ships. We did enjoy all of the people we met. Everyone was charming, and that was a highlight of the entire vacation! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our first trip on the Millie, and also our first repo. We had sailed before on the Century, which had immediately felt like an old friend, as well as Century's sister ship, Mercury, now renamed and sailing in Europe. Millie ... Read More
This was our first trip on the Millie, and also our first repo. We had sailed before on the Century, which had immediately felt like an old friend, as well as Century's sister ship, Mercury, now renamed and sailing in Europe. Millie is a larger ship, and was looking very spruced up thanks to its recent dry dock upgrades. We took the train to San Diego and stayed the night before at the Courtyard San Diego Downtown. It was a very nice hotel, but being a Saturday night, we were woken up by drunk guests walking to their rooms at 11 pm and then again at 1 am yelling in the hallway. That is the nature of hotels in general, I am afraid. It was a hike up the hill from the train station and then down again to the pier the next day, but we plan to stay there again next year before going on another cruise planned on our beloved Century. The hotel was close to Horton Plaza and many shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory, which DD and DS didn't care for, but which DH and myself enjoyed. We had snacks at Baja Fresh which is on Broadway just up the hill from the port. We have been to San Diego before, so we just went to Sea Port Village. We recommend the USS Midway for those who have not yet visited that great piece of history, and also Balboa Park. Getting on the ship was easy. There were lines, but things moved along quickly. Our cabin was ready, so we dropped off our luggage (we carry all ours on ourselves), and went to the buffet which was not too crowded and which is similar to the set up on Century and Mercury. At dinner, we were assigned to a large table of 12. We had never been asked what our table preference was when booking, but last time we sailed together on the Mercury we had a table for four, so I didn't think to ask Captain's Club about it. Families traveling together who want their own table should inquire beforehand. Both DD and myself are vegetarians, so finding an entree at dinner is a challenge. There was a vegetarian selection offered each night, however, all of them were spicy, so I skipped the entree each night, whereas DD asked for Fettuccine Alfredo one night and received spaghetti with Alfredo sauce instead. The same thing happened to me years ago on the Oceanic- must be the go-to choice for chefs. To his credit, our waiter did ask if there was anything else they could get me- that was nice, but I didn't take him up on the offer. I did order an extra salad or fruit soup sometimes instead, but he didn't bring it. I guess you are only allowed one choice from each category on the menu. He also forgot to bring DS' fruit soup one night which he loves, so that bummed him out. I think our wait staff had too many people to serve- others had mentioned this in earlier reviews. It is too bad really, the staff has no time to speak with you individually and share stories/experiences, or get to know your food preferences as they did in the past. Also, the tips are now charged to your account each day, and there are no longer any vouchers issued as in the past which you had passed out to the crew on your last night. It does seem that the crew knows what they will be earning in advance, so there is little effort to go the extra mile. We had an interior cabin near the library. We really liked our cabin. The location was perfect. The only issues I had with the cabin was the rust on the tile in the bathroom which needs to be replaced during the next dry dock, and also the toilet seats needed to be replaced during dry dock and weren't. That would have been a simple upgrade. When the ship was moving at a fast pace, there was a creaking noise from the ceiling above the beds, but when the ship was going from Victoria to Vancouver at a much slower pace, the noise stopped. Anyway, I managed to sleep through it. I enjoyed the Persian Garden offered for $79 for the five night cruise, however, on the last night it closed an hour early for "deep cleaning". I was the only one in there and DH told me that if several others had been using it, they probably would have closed it down station by station instead of just telling me they were closing. That was a bummer. The ladies' changing/shower room nearby was also closed, so you had to walk back to your cabin wet and feeling dirty. They also didn't tell you that a 15% tip is added to the bill- you find that out when you get your final statement on the last night. If you have a day spa near your home, you can probably skip the Persian Garden, but for those of you who enjoy the spa experience, it would probably be money well spent. A must-do experience on the cruise was the Bistro on Five. John was our waiter both times we dined there on port days when we were too late for the MDR. Even though he wrote down our order, he kept forgetting to bring some of the dishes, however, he was very attentive so we simply ordered some dishes for the second time when he came around again. No one left hungry, in fact, poor DH ate so much on the first visit that he left uncomfortably full and remembered to order fewer dishes on our second visit. The brownies are served in whipped cream- very good. The best dish is the Italian Crepe made with bananas and Nutella. Also recommended are the Cowboy and Spanish Crepes. The chef came out to visit and she was very pleased to hear from DD that her crepes were better than the ones DD had in France. Bistro on Five is well worth the $5pp charge- best deal on the ship. Regarding the ports, for San Fran we booked a tour on Alcatraz directly with the National Park Service. Wonderful tour, everyone should experience this interesting piece of American history. After that we walked around Pier 39. We had walked up to Coit Tower in the morning to try to see the wild parrots, but they weren't around. In Victoria, we just walked around since there wasn't very much time to spend in port that day, and DH and myself had just been there two years ago. We recommend the castle for those of you who enjoy old historic homes, tea at the Empress for fans of high tea, and Butchart Gardens if you love flowers. We arrived in Vancouver on time, and had an easy exit off the ship. We spent the day in Vancouver and then took the afternoon train to Seattle. On the way, I saw my first Bald Eagle from my window seat. Lovely train ride along the ocean. We spent two nights in Seattle at the Courtyard Pioneer Square before flying home. We had a very nice room in a corner with a nice view of the city, this time without any noise in the hallway. We would stay there again. We recommend the Music Experience for music fans, Smith Tower, the Underground Tour, the Space Needle, and taking the monorail. The people taking the Duck Tour also sounded like they were having a lot of fun as they drove by. Overall, we had a perfectly nice vacation on the Millie. I never felt at home on the Millie as I had with the Century, but that is a typical experience with me. Sometimes I just never feel that I have seen the whole ship. The upgrades done in dry dock made the ship very pretty, but I hope they finish fixing all of the little things- especially the clocks which mysteriously all seemed to tell a different time. The buffet lunch in the dining room presented one day was very nice- almost as good as the midnight buffets of long ago. The Baked Alaska in the MDR was also a nice surprise. The buffet had the same food every day, but there was always something to eat. The pizza was better than what you generally find in the buffet or pool side. We only saw the first two shows, but we enjoyed them, as well as the backstage tour of the theater done for Select members. We have sailed three times now with Celebrity and will continue to do so. Celebrity represents a good value, and even when things aren't perfect- you can still have a perfectly good time.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not ... Read More
Prior to this cruise I did my homework if you will as much as possible prior to sailing for this being a first time cruise by catching up on reviews and as much information as possible from this site. As a first time cruiser I was not disappointed. We went into this with a fairly open mind as first time cruisers as to what to expect and were not at all disappointed. Also, it should be noted the running joke during the course of the cruise was this was my "first" cruise where I did not have to work as I am retired navy. Booked the 5 day Pacific Coastal cruise on Celebrity Millennium as this was the second cruise after the Solictization refit. Flew down to San Diego two days prior to the arrival of Millennium and stayed two nights at the Holiday Inn - On the Bay literally across the street from the cruise ship pier, had a bay view room in the hotel and the morning of the cruise opened my balcony curtains to see the ship across the street from my room. Had a late check out at 2pm and walked across the street to the terminal dropped off our bags and proceeded to the security screening and check-in. All total from the time we entered the security screening and check-in to getting to our stateroom it probably was all of 25-30 minutes, but about what you might expect for checking in close to 2000 passengers on a ship (try that with 2000 passengers and TSA at any major airport)There was the customary champagne and mimosas that were nice, as we got onboard everyone was gathering at the first elevators near the gangway, so we wandered aft and found the aft elevators pretty much empty and went right up to our stateroom, the only issue here was the time it took for luggage to arrive at our stateroom, well after the muster brief and just as we were getting underway, (note we had been onboard for almost two hours now.) Once we got unpacked and settled in we used the time to go explore the ship and find a nice spot for the sail-away which was a fantastic view of the San Diego city. Dining - first night we chose to eat at the Ocean View Grill on deck 10 which had a very nice selection of entree items set in a buffet style arrangement. Also purchased a specialty dining package for the Olympic Room during our at sea evening after San Francisco which was superb, service, menu selection (Chilean Sea Bass) and wine selections were all outstanding. A couple of nights we chose the MDR as we also had the option of select dining and had the same window seat on the port and as well I was impressed with the menu selections and presentation (Lamb shank which fell off the bone.) We also purchased a premium drink package and I must say Keisha and Michael in the casino bar, and the gentleman from the Martini bar had it most entertaining and enjoyable experience. On the last night of our cruise we watched one of the bar tenders at the Martini bar pour a Martini flight of 24 glasses at one time! Very entertaining to watch. Entertainment wise we checked out the Celebrity theater the first night underway and after that it was mostly Cosmos, Michaels and the lounge. As we had a concierge class stateroom we took advantage of the enhanced room service menu and enjoyed breakfast each morning on the veranda. And would also like to thank our stateroom attendant Willy for outstanding service and attention to detail while making our trip enjoyable. There were some minor issues as a result of the refit in our stateroom that were corrected during the cruise, such as during the resurfacing of the veranda deck in our stateroom there were glue foot prints on the threshold of the sliding door and splashes of paint and glue on the outside glass, but these were taken care of during port visits while away from the ship. All in all, I was very impressed and had a most relaxing vacation during my first cruise and enjoyed meeting our new cruise friends Dave and Patty from Louisiana, and all the wonderful crew members who worked so hard to make our first cruise so much fun and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I admit it, I've become a travel snob and thought the wine themed cruise would be special on Celebrity but it was not. I asked around and found out the wine themed events were for wine groups that booked the cruise as a group through ... Read More
I admit it, I've become a travel snob and thought the wine themed cruise would be special on Celebrity but it was not. I asked around and found out the wine themed events were for wine groups that booked the cruise as a group through their wine clubs. I was told there were two groups on board, one had 90 people and another 100 people and the special events were for them only. There were the usual wine tasting seminars for a fee that most cruise lines offer but nothing out of the ordinary for those not traveling with a wine club. The food in the Oceanview buffet was the same everyday and boring, not much creativity there.The dining room was nicely decorated with good servers and the food was average but I am a foodie. The big touted buffet from 10 am-2PM in the dining room was mostly the foods from the Oceanview buffet with a few other items added but the presentation was excellent. We had dinner in speciality restaurant Qsine and it was fabulous. $40 each with fun and energetic servers with very creative meal items and presentation. Loved the concept, edgy and imaginative. I noticed the management staff stayed on top of the service in the bars and dining areas. If there was a bottleneck of people, the manager called for assistance and even someone in a suit jumped in to clear tables. The embarkation went smoothly and many employees were on hand to welcome passengers and assist. The customer service at the reception desk was excellent and if they didn't have the answer,they would call our stateroom with the answer. Disembarkation went smoothly also considering how many people needed to get off the ship. There is a new express procedure for those with carry on luggage only, they get off the ship first which is a good and modern procedure. Overhead announcements were minimal which made the ship more quiet and no obnoxious cruise director was yelling out the latest bingo jackpot-yeah!! Entertainment with the comedians was very good but the chef cook off was just okay. Professor Lisa's presentations were outstanding and witty. Lots of people gathered in the frosty styled martini bars and cafe al Bacio for morning espressos and snack time. These were the gathering holes for good drinks and relaxation with entertaining live music. The newly designed ship is more modern and gone are the days of gaudy staircases and flamboyance. Colors are softer and have more of a cosmopolitan look. Good customer service all the way around. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
- Stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown prior to cruise. Hotel was really close to the port and we were dropped of by Enterprise at the pier after turning in the rental car Downtown. - Embarkation in San Diego was a rough evolution. There ... Read More
- Stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown prior to cruise. Hotel was really close to the port and we were dropped of by Enterprise at the pier after turning in the rental car Downtown. - Embarkation in San Diego was a rough evolution. There were 2 ships in port and the Port of San Diego was NOT ready to handle the crowd. An unfortunate event on the ship added to the confusion,caused delays with boarding and eventually delayed our departure. - Millennium is a good looking ship and appears to be well maintained. It does not have a huge multi story Centrum with big lights and lots of glitz. Millennium gets by with a much more cozy and sedate layout which we found to be very nice. - Cabin was an S1 Sky Suite. The room was comfortable with plenty of storage. If you have any mobility issues be wary of the bathtub. It has a high stepover height and it took my wife (bad knees) and I a moment to figure out the best way to enter and exit the tub-shower combo. There are plenty of places to grab onto so it became a non-issue for us. The Butler service was awesome. Fresh fruit and daily Tea/Snacks were a nice touch. Our Butler (Alwi) and Attendant (Luna) were a joy to sail with and they provided quality service through every part of the cruise. - Did the Select dining 4 nights in the MDR and felt that the service was not as good as when you deal with a set table and service crew. Dined in the Olympic for 5 nights and we cannot say enough good things about the food or service. Our server was Glen and we requested him each night because of his professional service and warm personality. To cruise aboard the Millennium and not dine in the Olympic will be cheating yourself out of a wonderful experience. The buffet was better than we had experienced on other cruises. Purchased 1 Premium alcohol package and 1 non-alcoholic package. It was really nice to not have to sign all those receipts. However, it was tough to get a server to come back and get that second drink order. Even though a gratuity is prepaid, I believe the grat pool split entices the server to search for greener pastures. - Public areas were enjoyable. The mineral pool in the Solarium and the Persian Garden (Steam Rooms) are not to be missed. Spa and workout facilities never seemed crowded. - Disembarkation was painless and well planned both on the ship and at Canada Place. Plenty of help in the terminal with luggage and directing traffic. San Diego could learn a few things from Vancouver - Took the Quick Shuttle from Canada Place back to Seattle for about $82.00. The trip took 3.5 hrs to Downtown with a stop at the border for U.S. Customs. The Shuttle will take you all the way to SeaTac for flights out. - The Wine Cruise Itinerary was very enjoyable, made better by a quality ship and crew. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Celebrity Millennium - May 3rd Wine Cruise - San Diego to VancouverI want to start this review by saying that my wife and I took this cruise to unwind and relax. Since we have visited almost all of the ports that the ship stopped at, we ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium - May 3rd Wine Cruise - San Diego to VancouverI want to start this review by saying that my wife and I took this cruise to unwind and relax. Since we have visited almost all of the ports that the ship stopped at, we didn't feel pressured to do any of the shore excursions and merely did short walking visits of most of the port areas. So if you're looking for shore excursion reviews, stop reading now.This was our first cruise on Celebrity and our first cruise with an inside cabin. I'd like to write this review with the topics that concerned us the most, crew, accommodations, food, etc. and that is how I will proceed.EMBARKATION: Due to a passenger suicide on the night before our departure, our embarkation wasn't as smooth as we would have hoped, having a three hour wait in the terminal on a hot day, before allowing us to board. After delaying the ships departure for nearly two hours, we finally made our way out of port at 6:00 PM.CREW: The crew of the Millennium gets my highest points for the trip. Everyone, from Andrew the Hotel Director, down to the maintenance crew were all extremely congenial and helpful. Our cabin steward, Kerwin, went out of his way to keep our cabin clean and stocked with ice and clean towels. If we were coming down the hall, and he saw us, he would rush to our door and unlock it for us before we got there, and he always greeted us by name. Our waiter and busboy, Wiganata and Bebito, were also exceptional. They were always quick to get our meals and always kept the water glasses topped off and asking if there was anything we wanted. I give the crew, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 10.FOOD: We ate mostly in the main dining room and the buffet on deck 10. We weren't able to get reservations in the Olympic Restaurant before the cruise departed and I never got around to stopping by, seeing if there were any cancellations. The food, overall, was good. Enough to fill you up, a good selection and prepared and presented well. All the meals were served hot and although not five star gourmet, met our expectations. The buffet had a good selection of food for every breakfast and lunch, but we never ate there for dinner. The outside burger bar was Ok, with the onion rings a bit too crunchy and the hamburger patty tasting like it had been cooked an hour earlier. The cookies at the burger bar were great! On the last formal night, we were offered a lobster/shrimp dinner. I had this, with three shrimp and a half of a lobster tail. It was tasty, but I could have used a whole tail. I had three breakfasts in the main dining room, Eggs Benedict each time (I like Eggs Benedict). The first two times the meal was perfect, hot eggs, cooked so as to be a little runny on the inside and covered with a smooth Hollandaise sauce, muffins fresh and cut-able with a fork. The last time the eggs and sauce were perfect, but the muffin was so hard that I couldn't cut it with my knife. You could drive nails with those things! I complained to the assistant maitre'd for what it was worth. I give the food on a scale of 1 to 10, a 7.5.CABIN: For the first time in our cruising experiences, we took an inside cabin on this trip. After the first night we found that we actually liked it better than a cabin with a window. It was quieter, darker in the mornings (for sleeping in) and just the same size as the cabins that cost $500 or more for a window. All cabins had a 20" flat screen TV, a safe and a minibar. I especially liked the bathroom; the shower was bigger than most and it NEVER ran out of hot water. We've been on several cruises where if you slept in, you had to wait to take a shower because all the hot water was gone, not on the Millennium. My only gripes were that there was a constant humming, I assume from the turbines powering the generators that we could hear and feel in the walls, even when docked. I'm sure this was from being on deck 2, and was probably felt by everyone on that deck. After a while, you tended to ignore it. The other minor complaint was that the bed was just a bit too firm for my taste, but it didn't keep me up at night. I'll give the cabin a 9 out of 10.ACTIVITIES: Like most cruise lines, there were the usual shows and entertainment. The nightly newsletter outlined all of the next day activities and you never were lacking for something to do. We only attended one show, a musical/dance number by the ships cast. It was as good as I've seen, but we just weren't interested in the shows on this cruise, so we left early and didn't attend anymore. The casino was always busy when open and we dropped a few dollars here. Not being a gambler, I didn't lose much money, but heard from other Cruise Critic people that they thought the slots were just a little too tight. The Emporium was well stocked, and we bought a few things, but watch out for the bargain watch sale! We bought two watches, mine had the look of an expensive watch but was very cheap and most of the hands on the watch were strictly decoration and not functional, and the watch my wife bought quit working after two hours. Obviously, we took them both back. I won't rate the ship's activities since we didn't participate.FAVORITE SPOT: Our favorite spot on the ship was the Atrium/Spa area on deck 10. This is an enclosed area at the stern of the ship, just in front of the Aqua Spa. It had two hot tub/whirlpools and a larger pool-like spa that had aeration. We would sit in the lounge chairs near a window that were probably more comfortable than any others on the ship. They had pads and head pillows, so getting comfortable and just watching the sea go by was very easy. I read an entire novel on this trip, sitting here, something I hadn't done in a long time. They also had a healthy food bar here and a coffee and beverage bar too, so you didn't have far to go for some refreshment. Being that it was glass enclosed, it was bright, yet a little warmer than being in the open on deck. Very nice.PROBLEMS: On our very first night, we ate in the main dining room at first seating (6:00). We found or table, although there was some confusion from the waiters who seated us about where our table was. Having found our table, we noticed a few things from the very moment we sat down. The windows at the stern of the ship, near out table on deck four on the starboard side, were very dirty and the tinting was flaking off in around the edges. Some form of mold or other contamination was collecting in the corners of the windows, giving the atmosphere a distinct "back alley" look. Many of the outside windows in public areas were salt encrusted and had bird droppings on them. They obviously don't clean them very often. When we looked at the ceiling, we saw a bunch of masking tape running in long lines across the ceiling panels. Our first impression was that it was for some painting project, but felt it was rather tacky to leave it up for passengers to see. When we questioned the maitre'd, we were told that that corner gets very cold and that the masking tape was to block the vents and keep the air conditioning from cooling that area. I was dumbstruck. This ship is 10 years old, you'd think they could get the venting set correctly in ten years and not require masking tape to correct a problem. I don't know how long it had been up, but it looked like it was there for some time. At the very least, you'd think someone could find something better, that looked more professional, to block the vents. I have since forwarded pictures of the windows and masking tape to Celebrity with these comments. Hopefully they can correct the problems.PORTS: Well, I don't have a lot to say here. We've traveled to all of the ports that ship stopped at, at one time or another, so we didn't spend a lot of time ashore. The only port we hadn't visited was Astoria, Oregon. Now here's a community that does it right! They have a non-profit organization of cruise ship greeters that are stationed at the pier and around town to help you during your visit. They offered a $7.50 bus pass (per person) that made the circular trip from the pier, through town and back, where you could ride all day for the one fee. We rode the bus into town before lunch, walked around and visited shops, then went to the Maritime Museum then back to the ship for lunch. We then rode it again to the center of town, caught another bus that went up to the "Astoria Column" and returned after the visit. These volunteers go out of their way to make sure you had an enjoyable visit to their small town, and it was.DEBARKATION: We opted for the express debarkation, where you take your own luggage off the ship at 7:30 AM. This was really nice and went smoothly. We were off within 15 minutes and customs was a snap. The customs officer said that this was the best way to leave the ship because the lines for the normal departure make it a slow process. I think we'll make this the standard way of departure from now on.FINAL COMMENTS: Being our first trip on a Celebrity ship, we found the overall experience enjoyable and would sail with them again. Since this was a "Wine Cruise" Celebrity didn't enforce their policy on bringing wine aboard after the start of the cruise, very nice. The crew was great and the food was good. Other than the maintenance issue of the ceiling and windows in the dining room, the ship was in good condition and well maintained. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Embarkation at SD was delayed due to a death during the preceding cruise. Celebrity did it's best to make us comfy but it's an old, un air conditioned terminal. An annoying thing was that when we arrived by taxi from the airport, ... Read More
Embarkation at SD was delayed due to a death during the preceding cruise. Celebrity did it's best to make us comfy but it's an old, un air conditioned terminal. An annoying thing was that when we arrived by taxi from the airport, a porter rushed to pull our luggage from the taxi. He then moved it about 10 feet to a line where we needed to show our documentation. The porter, of course expected his tip, as did the next porter about 10 feet away who took the luggage to put it on the ship after he too, got a tip.   We booked the Milli about 10 years ago when it was new and large. Now it's old and mid sized..but...it's so easy to get around..and so pretty..and well maintained. Putting the glass elevators on the port side of the ship, visible from both the back and front end of the ship made it clear to us where we were. We had just taken a Soltice class ship a few months ago which set the new standard for us. We thought we'd find the Milli old and outdated. Wrong. I remembered that the ship used to have a CD library called "Notes" and the elevators still indicates it's there...it's not...it's the Acupuncture Center now. Anyway, it looked like new carpeting thruout the ship and the bed was comfy...everything worked except the toilet for an hour. Most passengers were in the over 50 range, few kids and lots of UK residents added to our enjoyment.       Activities: We didn't find much we were into. There was an outstanding naturalist on board, Milos, who spoke during the 3 sea days and made learning about how the earth was formed, why the planets we see at night are lots' older than we think, and animals of the NW. Generally speaking, we find Princess daytime activities more to our liking...even the movies on board were boring..all G or PG, I think.       Service: outstanding as far as performance....everywhere...competent, fast...now friendliness was something else as far as the dining room staff went. The wait staff seemed confused very often and defensive. The cabin attendant seemed liked he wished to be elsewhere. Others on the ship whom we passed and Guest Relations were all top notch.       Shore Excursions: The only tour we took was in Seattle to Boeing and the HOHO in Victoria. Very interesting tour of Boeing. The route of the HOHO in Victoria was more limited than I remembered it to be...still, a nice way to get around that beautiful city. We rented cars or golf carts elsewhere.       Dining: We ate most all meals in the MDR..we did Select (anytime) dining and only needed to wait once for a table. Food was very good but they pureed most veggies..we do have teeth, so this was very unnecessary. Pizza was outstanding and in the Aqua Spa, they had the best salmon I ever ate anywhere. Burgers were OK..nothing outstanding about them. Once during the cruise, the ship had a brunch in the MDR....very good selection..very good quality.       Entertainment: we saw two of three production shows and they were outstanding..among the best we've ever seen..featured 2 M and 2F singers..shows were original, fun and professionally executed. We caught one half of the Don Given comedy act and were sorry we didn't see the entire show..he was laugh out loud funny..not insulting, not nasty..just very, very funny. There was a male singer featured one night, whose name escapes me..he did a variety of b'way, opera, and pop songs and the show was definitely worth the time. The piano player with the voice which sounded like nails on a chalkboard almost made my ears bleed...horrible..frightening bad...great at the keyboards, but, sir..please, step away from the mic. As far as lounge acts..an acoustic guitar-singer, Justin Wade was also very enjoyable, with a unique voice and arrangement..mostly James Taylor type of songs with some standards..Justin had a unique voice with interesting arrangements. Finally, there was an acapella group with loads of talent and personality..everyone seemed to love One Touch..couldn't get enuf of them.       Disembarkation: We were assigned to a 9:15 AM meet in a lounge to depart and actually got our luggage, went thru customs and immigration and were on our Vancouver Shuttle at 10:15 to the airport for our 2:30 PM flight. Vancouver shuttle is highly recommended..very well organized...paid in advance online so I didn't need to wait on line at the terminal.       Summary: we'd do this again in a heartbeat...great ports, great onboard experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We booked a Celebrity 7-night cruise for Alaska after enjoying our Mediterranean experience on Celebrity's Solstice. We purchased a package that also included a 5-night land tour, beginning in Anchorage and ending in Seward, where we ... Read More
We booked a Celebrity 7-night cruise for Alaska after enjoying our Mediterranean experience on Celebrity's Solstice. We purchased a package that also included a 5-night land tour, beginning in Anchorage and ending in Seward, where we embarked for the southbound leg of the ship's Inside Passage loop. My husband and I are in our early 60s and this may be our only visit to Alaska, as there are just so many places to go. If you've read a lot of these reviews, as I have, you appreciate that they are very subjective. I offer the following observations for what help they afford to fellow travelers. Visiting Alaska is, in several ways, a lot like visiting China. There is a a tourist route. If one hundred tourists spend a week each in New York City they'll likely have 100 diverse experiences. If 100 tourists go to China for a week, they'll all see the Wall and the Forbidden City. And if you go to Alaska with a tour you'll see a somewhat predictable pattern of glaciers, mountains and fabulous sea and land animals. Moreover, you'll have your adventure within a 4-month timeframe - tourist season runs mid-May to mid-September. Many of the folks with whom you interact may not even be Alaskans - young people come from the world over to staff the tourist venues, restaurants and hotels. So, do some research before you book. What do you really want to see and do in Alaska? If what's covered in the tour route (sea and/or land) is sufficient, great. If not, you'll want to pay a little more to 'get out there'. Our Millennium 7-night Southbound tour from Seward to Vancouver took us to within 2 miles of the Hubbard Glacier and to 4 Alaskan ports - Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, & Ketchekan. I'll review the ports separately elsewhere in Cruise Critic, suffice it to say that they are all 'staged' ports, colorful little tourist sections of town lined with shops and more shops. If shops aren't your thing, well, again, do your research. Each port offers a hundred opportunities to really see Alaska. Celebrity offers some great excursions and there are many private companies with competent, trustworthy staff to help you plan your adventures. Aside from the ports what is really nice about cruising Alaska is the opportunity to see whales - several kinds of whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, --- and maybe walk out on your veranda, as we did one morning, just in time to watch a bald eagle fly overhead. Wow! Cruising the Inside Passage, mountain ranges on both sides of you, is just awesome and using your 'floating boat' to explore different areas and do different things is what makes the Alaskan cruise a good choice. What did we think of Millennium? Frankly, we found it a bit small and tired-looking, after cruising on Celebrity's Solstice 2 years ago. Millennium's crew, however, are first rate. You'll see them everywhere on board, they'll remember your name and they'll be every bit as geeked as you are when you see that baby whale. All the services and amenities are just fine and Celebrity's website does a great job of giving you all of the details. (well - except for it's shore excursion section, which is about the worst online 'tool' you'll ever encounter.) If you want to pay, I recommend the seating option that allows you to walk into the dining room any time you please (between 6:30-9:30). It was wonderful not having to watch a clock for dinner seating and we never waited even 5 minutes for a table. By all means spend one night at the Olympic Restaurant. It is an absolute bargain -- food and service are delightful. What one thing would I change on Millennium? Same thing I would change on Solstice -- rethink the Ocean Cafe -- the buffet section of the ship. On Celebrity this place is always crowded, always chaotic. No one helps with seating, folks often walk endlessly just looking for a table to share. Beverage lines are long and no one comes by with refills - even of water or coffee, yet there are plenty of staff selling cocktails. I never, ever enjoyed eating there -- in fact I ate a lot of pizza just to avoid Cafe food lines.Final observation. If you want a richer Alaskan experience, couple your cruise with a land excursion. In fact, I recommend booking a Celebrity cruise just so that you can book the Celebrity Land Excursion. We did the 5-day excursion beginning in Anchorage. Our tour director (Leah) was terrific -knowledgeable and energetic. She was with us every leg of the trip and this trip had a lot of legs --- Wilderness Train from Anchorage to Talkeetna (the Royal Celebrity train cars are fantastic and we saw our first brown bears and bald eagles while sitting in the dining car), --- overnight at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (perfect), ---train again to Denali for 2 nights that included an 8 hour tour of Denali and our siting of grizzlies) --- bus ride (Royal Celebrity buses are beautiful) to Fairbanks, --- overnight and flight back to Anchorage and down to port Seward by bus to board our ship. Everything well organized, well executed every step of the way. Just wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
After much research, and the advice of a trusted friend and travel agent, we decided to go on the Millenium. My wife had been on two previous cruises; one to the Caribbean with RC, and last year in the Med with Regency for two weeks with ... Read More
After much research, and the advice of a trusted friend and travel agent, we decided to go on the Millenium. My wife had been on two previous cruises; one to the Caribbean with RC, and last year in the Med with Regency for two weeks with her mom. I had no interest in either locations; being from Hawaii I like going places on vacation that are different, and enjoy fall colors in particular. So we decided Alaska was the ticket, and Celebrity would provide the quality that we are used to. I should add that we own a 5 star timeshare that has gotten us used to top flight accommodations, i.e. Hyatt, Marriot, Hilton Grand Vacations in locations like Incline Tahoe, Park City, Whistler, etc. So it was with some excitement that we booked a suite, figuring that we would want the extra space and the promised level of extra service that the Celebrity website bragged about. So we arrived in Seward and got on board; that part was easy, we had beat the rush that was soon to come. We went to our cabin, and it looked quite nice, and then left to explore Seward, which is a fascinating town, and did not seem to have the endless jewelry stores that we would encounter in the next ports, which is another story. The aquarium was interesting and recommended. At any rate we returned to our cabin to bathe and get ready for our first night on board. The first bad sign were the pubic hairs in the tub; then my wife took a hand towel and wet it down, muttering that the floor was filthy. I didn't believe her until she got off her hands and knees and showed me the once clean towel covered with dirt and grime on the bathroom floor. Not the sort of dirt from one or two missed cleanings; caked on dirt. Not an impressive start. We had been invited to the Olympic the first night, their special dining room, and that was indeed a highlight. In fact, although it's an additional $30 pp in retrospect we should have eaten there every night. Exceptional service and food. The next night we ate in the main dining room, and the food was good, but the service was not, and the crowds were noisy. Afterwards we walked around the ship and discovered an undocumented feature, the Water's Edge dining room, apparently an experiment on the 10th deck port side. This was where we ate the next two nights, and found it to be much more relaxing than the main dining room. I'm not sure if they will continue it, but it was a much better option than the main dining room. My wife did say the food was much better than the other cruises that she had been on, and I will say the breakfast buffets were quite good, and many people were at the buffets at all hours. Back to the cabin; on our third morning I went to the bathroom and was overwhelmed with a strong stench of urine. Could I have been sleepwalking and missed the toilet? Nope, a towel washing the floor didn't help. Told our steward about it and went ashore. Came back on board in the afternoon and found two maintenance guys outside the cabin replacing some part of plumbing. Great, I thought, I wasn't hallucinating. Unfortunately, this didn't fix the problem, and the bathroom was still filled with a disgusting stench. Called the steward, he said maintenance would come back. Two hours later, called the concierge and complained. An hour later a maintenance fellow tapped on the door and said they'd fixed it, a pipe was unsealed. The smell persisted, and I called to complain again. By this time I was more than frustrated. Their solution was to have housekeeping bring a bunch of cleaners into the bathroom and flush and overwhelm the smell. I should point out that at no time did a manager get involved, nor was there a followup inquiry. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations in service on a cruise ship versus a hotel. Celebrity certainly was clueless, and I was definitely dismayed by this experience. At the least there should have been a visit from a manager, along with a bottle of champagne and an apology for the inconvenience. However, with the exception of the Olympic room, this ship seemed to be focused on one thing; getting as much money as possible from passengers from selling shore excursions, jewelry, and gambling, as well as alcohol. Our suite was on the sixth deck, directly above the lifeboats. We like to rest on our vacations, which typically are in a Hyatt or Marriot or Hilton timeshare with fireplace and Jacuzzi tub, etc. This includes catching up on sleep, so imagine our dismay when in our second port they had a lifeboat drill for the crew beginning at 10 am. So much for relaxing in the room, the noise was enough to drive us out of our cabin. And there was a halogen lamp between the lifeboats pointed directly at our cabin so you couldn't see a thing at night, and had to close the curtains carefully to get a dark room. The fact is they don't want you spending time in your cabin at all; most of the television was devoted to shore excursions and the sale of jewelry and spa experiences. A clue to this was the vcr player under the tv. So much for playing a dvd for a romantic evening in bed; in fact they've set up the tv's so you can't hook up an external device, and I don't know what the heck the purpose of having a vcr in the room is, unless it is to hearken to a distant past before cell phones and the Internet. Ah yes, the nostalgia of the golden age of VCR's, courtesy of Celebrity. We kept the tv on the chart showing our location, and did a lot of reading. Oh, and speaking of the Internet, I was told there was wireless in the room, and bought the $99 package for it on the first day. This was another falsehood; there were wireless hot spots, as well as a room with pc's in it running internet explorer 6, which most people stopped using four years ago for security reasons; heaven only knows how many people on that cruise used those pc's and now their email and other passwords are probably being spread across eastern Europe right now, and if they were foolish enough to put credit card info into one those pc's the smart thing to do would be to close that card immediately before getting charged for a few flat screen tv's lol..... at any rate I'd take my notebook to the 5th deck, and use the exceptionally slow internet there. As I'm a puter geek I checked network speeds, and they were slower than a 14k dialup. My blackberry worked on most of the cruise, and I should have just used it and left the notebook in it's case. The highlight of our shore visits was Skagway. As the onboard naturalist, who was a hoot and quite informative put it, the ports have "metastasized" into jewelry malls. Store after store after store selling jewelry. I took a picture of a row of them in Skagway with hawkers standing in front of each one trying to get passengers to come inside; this was far worse than the timeshare booths that used to wreck Hawaii until laws were put into place to control them. I really feel sorry for the residents of Alaska who have to be dismayed at what has happened to their ports, and I am surprised they have not had the desire to control these aggressive salespeople. It was with some relief that we went on the Skagway White Pass rail trip; a highlight of the trip, and highly recommended. Celebrity has done their own private stop, as I am told is something they do in the Caribbean..... at Icy Strait which was a nice stop. Of course on the ship they did not mention the extensive hiking opportunities, as they were too busy pushing the zip line excursion. Once ashore we found that there were some excellent hikes, but by that time we had no time for it, as we had not planned on it based on the lack of information about them. The Celebrity profit machine was razor sharp in their focus, and self guided tours were anathema to them. So we went to the Olympic again, had another marvelous and memorable dinner, and the Waters Edge as well. That and the railway and a truly awesome viewing of Hubbard glacier on a day that the captain said was the clearest of the season were the three best things of the cruise. We were quite lucky weatherwise, and enjoyed the Alaskan vistas, but could have done that on a ferry for part of an Alaskan vacation. I did get great pictures and as a photographer was quite pleased with that. Disembarkation in Vancouver can only be described as complete chaos. First we're told to go one place, then another, and the hordes trying to escape were pushing and shoving; my wife said it was quite unlike her other cruises, and I certainly hope so. Once we got off the ship and to Canadian customs, things improved markedly. We walked across the street to our suite on the gold floor at the Fairmont and thanked heaven that we were off the Millenium. In summary, I was unimpressed with the ship and crew, excepting the Olympic. They seemed short handed in housekeeping, and had obvious quality control problems that senior management didn't care about. At the resort I work at we have mystery shoppers quarterly, judging all aspects of the resort, and bonuses for staff are on a quarterly basis are based on a variety of scores from the shoppers and comments from our guests, many of whom return year after year. I'd say the hotel side of the ship should be sacked, at least on the housekeeping side; random checks by competent managers of rooms would have disclosed problems that should be fixed. But I suppose on a ship it's harder to get good help that sticks around. I had to laugh at their attempts to get people to buy future cruises at a discount. Still, the ship gets good reviews in the 3 books I purchased prior to deciding on her, so perhaps the fact that it was their last Alaskan cruise of the season prior to heading south and the crew was burned out may have been a factor. This is not an acceptable excuse. My wife, by the way, is delighted that I have now experienced a cruise, and won't be asking to go on another. Give me a relaxing two weeks with a five star resort and a staff that is properly trained and I'll be quite satisfied, and will never suggest a cruise again. She can't wait to go back to the Fairmont Pacific Rim, where they understand what quality hospitality is all about. Oh well, live and learn. What might have been a great experience for someone a couple of years ago when they reviewed it certainly was not for us. However, things change; think about a restaurant that you used to love, and then went downhill. Unfortunately, this was not a restaurant, and we were on board for a week. At least the weather was good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Day 1: Arrived in Fairbanks. Celebrity representatives met us in the baggage claim area of the airport. Transferred to Sophie Station Hotel via Motorcoach. Greeted by Tour Director Jennifer for a brief overview of land tour and when to ... Read More
Day 1: Arrived in Fairbanks. Celebrity representatives met us in the baggage claim area of the airport. Transferred to Sophie Station Hotel via Motorcoach. Greeted by Tour Director Jennifer for a brief overview of land tour and when to meet the next morning. Very well organized. Tiring day from air travel and 4 hours time difference. Day 2: Fairbanks. Breakfast buffet on our own at Zack's in Sophie Station Hotel. I would not recommend this buffet as it's very expensive at $13.95 and not worth it. If you arrive in time, you could walk to Fred Meyer store on Day 1 and get something to eat for breakfast. Met at 7:45am to board bus. Met our driver Ewing. Stopped by Alaska Pipeline en route to El Dorado Gold Mine. The Gold Mine tour was about 3 hours. This is a working mine. We learned about Alaska's Gold Rush history and saw a gold panning demo. We panned for gold which was fun. I found $10 worth of gold flecks. We stopped for lunch on our own in downtown Fairbanks. Jennifer made several recommendations. We ate at the Cafe Promenade. Had time to walk to the Visitors Center. After about 1.5 hours in downtown Fairbanks, we set out for the Riverboat Discovery tour. This was an excellent 3 hour tour aboard a sternwheeler riverboat. We saw a bush plane taking off, saw kennels of Iditarod winner, learned about the ancient Athabascan Indian culture. Got off riverboat for a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village. Got back on riverboat for return trip. Returned to Sophie Station Hotel. Dinner on our own. We walked to Bruster's Pub which was very good. Day 3: Fairbanks/Denali Departed at 7:40am for the Wilderness Express, luxury domed railcar. Traveled to Denali. Fantastic breakfast onboard the train. Arrived in Denali National Park about 12:00. Explored Visitor Center. Had about an hour before boarding bus on the Tundra Wilderness Tour. This is about an 8 hour trip but it's well worth it. We were fortunate to be in the 30% that actually see Mt. McKinley. We saw lots of wildlife including moose, Dall sheep, a grizzy with 2 cubs, and golden eagle. They serve a snack box that included canned chicken salad with crackers, cookie, roll, carrots and water. It was actually pretty tasty. Stayed overnight at the Grande Denali Lodge. A previous reviewer called this place a dump but I do not agree. Perhaps they have renovated since his trip in Aug. 2009. The lobby was very nice and the restaurant very good. Day 4: Denali/Talkeetna Check out time was 10:00. We departed lodge for the Wilderness Express at 11:30AM. There was time to go to Denali Village or take an optional land excursion but it was so windy that we opted to stay at the lodge. Today we had a great lunch on the train during our 4 hour trip to Talkeetna. We arrived in Talkeetna and had the rest of the day on our own. Stayed at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge which was beautiful with a cozy lobby with large stone fireplace. If it had been clear, we may have been able to see Mt. McKinley from the hotel deck. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy. Jennifer recommended Twisted Creek for dinner but it was packed so we went to the Roadhouse. It was good too. I had quiche and the guys had pasties (like a pot pie). The lodge provides shuttle service to town. Day 5: Talkeetna/Anchorage Check out time was 11:00 so we had the morning free for excursions. We walked on the trail behind the lodge. Apparently we came very close to a moose as others from our group saw us from the lobby. We did not see the moose but just the droppings! We also took a River Float Tour down the Talkeetna River. Had time afterwards to get a famous cinnamon roll at the Roadhouse. It was HUGE and sinfully delicious! At 12:00, we departed for Anchorage on the motorcoach. We made a stop at a small general store for ice cream. We arrived in Anchorage about 3:00 for a couple of hours of shopping/leisure time in downtown Anchorage. We checked in the Downtown Anchorage Marriott, a very nice hotel. Dinner on our own at Glacier Brewhouse which was within walking distance. Had King Salmon which was outstanding! Day 6: Anchorage/Alyeska Had breakfast at Snow City Cafe per Jennifer's recommendation. Very Good! Departed Marriot around 10:00 for the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Here we learned about Alaska's first people and the many native cultures. We were there about 2 hours which was sufficient time for me but some would like to have had more time there. It depends on what your interests are. You cannot see all of the presentations, films, dance performances, storytelling and tour the museum in 2 hours. This was also our lunch stop but we skipped lunch as we had a good breakfast. At 12:30 we departed for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where we saw some grizzly bears, moose, caribou, musk ox, porcupine, eagle and great horned owl up close. These animals cannot survive in the wild due to injuries or some other reason. We were there about an hour. We arrived at The Hotel Alyeska about 3:15. This was definitely the best place we stayed....a 4 Star Resort. We took the shuttle to Girdwood where we ate dinner at the Double Musky. This was another excellent suggestion by Jennifer. Day 7: Alyeska/Seward Check out was at 10:00 but we did not leave for Seward until 2:00. We enjoyed the Alyeska Tram Ride where we soared 2300 feet above the valley. The views were breathtaking. Afterwards, we walked about 2 miles round trip on the Winners Creek Trail behind the resort. This is a rainforest with beautiful trees and waterfalls. Said goodbye to our Tour Director Jennifer. Ewing drove us to the pier in Seward. This took about 3 hours. We had our first view of the Millennium. We were off the bus and through security and on the ship in less than 30 minutes! Celebrity did a GREAT JOB! This was our first cruise. The food on the ship was not as outstanding as we had hoped. People always talk about the great food on cruises. It was good but certainly not lke a 4 or 5 star restaurant. Also, they had a Dessert Extravaganza one night but this, for us, was a disaster. The cruise director said to be sure to bring your camera. It was total chaos. Very dark, noisy and crowded in the Cosmos Lounge. This was one BIG PARTY geared more toward a younger crowd in my opinion. We could hardly walk through there. We stayed about 5 minutes and left. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Pre-cruise On 3/27 we boarded the AA red/eye flight from Miami to Santiago de Chile where we arrived early Friday morning. Three Ladies from "Celebrity" welcomed us in the baggage area and guided us to the transfer bus. We spent ... Read More
Pre-cruise On 3/27 we boarded the AA red/eye flight from Miami to Santiago de Chile where we arrived early Friday morning. Three Ladies from "Celebrity" welcomed us in the baggage area and guided us to the transfer bus. We spent the next 3 days at the "Sheraton" hotel: Nice lobby with an attractive bar, great pool with an outdoors restaurant, rooms newly remodeled (but bathrooms in need of renovation!). The personnel was very friendly. The concierge Naomi helped us to organize a knowledgeable private driver for a four-hour city tour and for Saturday a visit of a smaller vinery. She also took care of our dinner reservations: "Aqui està Coco" and "Ox" - two excellent restaurants. "Celebrity" had also a special desk at our hotel to book excursions and the transfer to the ship. Overall we had a very positive impression of Santiago: Friendly people, clean, safe and well-organized city with beautiful sites. Embarkation in Valparaiso - CC stateroom 7206 Boarding was easy and fast, without the usual "Welcome bubbly" - but in our stateroom waited a bottle of real Champagne in an ice bucket, which we opened on our huge balcony (22 x 10 feet). This was the perfect start for a unique cruise! A short talk to the restaurant manager resulted in one of the best tables for two in the dining room and then we met our friendly stateroom attendants Ramonito and Birad - the best stewards we ever had on a cruise. Food and entertainment Good choices for breakfast and lunch in the "Oceanview" restaurant on deck 10 - excellent food and service (by waiters Jorge and AndrE) in the "Trellis" dining room. Only disappointment was our one time "Rodizio"-dinner in the casual restaurant: No welcome, bad service, tough and overcooked meat. Just the opposite was another evening when we enjoyed a perfect service and an outstanding meal during a wonderful dining experience in the "SS United States" specialty restaurant. We didn't attend any production show, but enjoyed the Chilean flutist Viviana Guzman, the entertaining baritone Stephen Fisher-King and the funny comedian Jeff Nease. Other highlights were: "Headlines" (Band), Pablo Rodriguez (Guitarist) and the "Rendez-vous" Quartet, while the Acapella Group, the String Quartet and the Jazz Trio were pretty boring. Excursions and ports La Serena-Coquimbo: Nice and informative ship tour, but nothing spectacular. Machu Picchu: The one in a lifetime event! Our deluxe option offered the unique "Monasterio" hotel in Cuzco, very interesting city tour and a (not so good) dinner in a "tourist trap" restaurant (We would recommend to eat dinner at the "Monasterio"). Day 2 started with an unforgettable train ride with the "Hiram Bingham" Orient Express, followed by the fantastic and awesome visit of the "Lost city of the Incas". Our guide Fernando brought Machu Picchu to live and filled us in on the fascination of Inca history. The trip back to Cuzco on the Orient Express concluded the day with an excellent five star dinner, wine and entertainment. After a second night at the "Monasterio" we had to fly back to Lima in order to rejoin the "Infinity". Manta-Ecuador: We stayed on the ship (and got the pool for ourselves!). Panama Canal: We saw the sun rising over the Pacific (!) and enjoyed breakfast and most of the day on our big balcony - cruising through the six locks and Gatun Lake. Thanks to the very informative lectures of Colonel James Reid and naturalist Milos Radakovich we could appreciate the hard work that was necessary to build this wonder of the world. Cartagena-Colombia: We hired a taxi for an extended visit of this beautiful old town and the impressive fort. Our luck: Just at the end of the trip (at the ship terminal) our taxi broke down but we made it back safely. Ocho Rios-Jamaica: Having been in Jamaica before, we stayed (nearly alone) on the ship - another sunny pool day. Ship, Dress code and Conclusion "Infinity" is in good shape; we liked the size, layout, art and amenities. While most of the officers ignore the passengers - they don't greet or talk to you - the rest of the crew is very friendly and helpful. They work hard and deserve their gratuities and often even an additional tip. In general passengers were well dressed - on formal nights most men in tuxes or dark suites and also on informal evening ladies impressed by elegant outfits. One questions remains: Men wearing "Speedos" at the pool are often criticized - but what about obese and overweight women showing their not so young bodies in Bikinis? We were so lucky having the chance to visit Machu Picchu, travel though the Panama Canal and to enjoy this well organized cruise. We had to book another cruise while on board: Early 2009 we will be on a much smaller ship - Azamara's Journey - and we can't wait to be at sea again. Peter Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Did this very nice, short three day repositioning cruise on Infinity. (Disclaimer: We have been on Infinity four times in the last 18 months, so it is our home away from home.) Embarkation was WONDERFUL! We always arrive early and hope ... Read More
Did this very nice, short three day repositioning cruise on Infinity. (Disclaimer: We have been on Infinity four times in the last 18 months, so it is our home away from home.) Embarkation was WONDERFUL! We always arrive early and hope to get on early. In the past we have actually been the first people aboard twice so this time was no exception. Especially for a three day cruise. So we left our hotel at 10:30, arrived at the terminal at 10:45, were checked in by 11:00 and let onboard by 11:15. OUTSTANDING!!!! Once onboard we dropped off our carry-ons in our cabin (we had been in the same aft CC cabin on a 14 night canal crossing in 2004 so we knew it well), met our stateroom attendant whose name was Meriam. She had taken good care of some friends on a previous voyage so we knew we were in good hands. Then off to the outdoor hamburger grille to meet our Cruise Critic group, as we had volunteered to give them a tour of the public areas of the ship. As usual, Infinity was immaculate. We had been on her in the Caribbean in February, just before her dry dock and thought she was clean then. About the only things we could see that were changed during the dry dock were upgrades and rearranging of some of the shops and changing of the art around the ship. I need to mention that X did a wonderful job of making a short cruise easier but it was still very strange to find our disembarkation documents waiting on our bed when we walked into our cabin the very first time. By making a short cruise easier I meant that X was great about making the lifeboat drill earlier, skipping the disembarkation talk and other little stuff. Some general observations: Food: Breakfast for us was in the AquaSpa cafe. Always good. Best lox and bagels ever! Lunch was wherever we found it, AquaSpa, pizza, grille, etc. Dinner on nights one and three were in the main dining room. We had early seating and some very nice tablemates but I thought the food at dinner was rather bland on this trip. It was not up to previous Infinity cruises. First night I had a mushroom appetizer that I had eaten on a previous cruise and it didn't hold up. Had a decent soup and a normal shrimp cocktail and then prime rib. Pretty sad when then the best part of a meal is the horseradish you get to put on your prime rib. And dinner on night three was just about the same. But in between came one of the best dinners we have ever had. We and five other Cruise Critic friends met at 6:30 for a superb, five hour dinner in the wine room of the United States restaurant. The service, the food, everything was fantastic. Seriously, we arrived at 6:30 and ordered the menu speciale (sic) with the wine pairings and it was superb. The chef first sent us a wonderful taste of some type of chicken dish that I can't describe. Then our first course was a lobster bisque or a borscht. I had the bisque, my bride the borscht. Both were excellent. Second course and everyone had the goat cheese souffle. What else? Main course and both of us had the absolutely wonderful rack of lamb in puff pastry. It was superb. Then the cheese course and finally the chocolate souffle for dessert. Outstanding and we really did walk out of there at 11:45. What service, what food, WOW! Entertainment: We can't say a lot about the evening entertainment because we skipped it all. Not because we don't like to be entertained but because we had seen them all before. In fact, the Rock and Roll Show on the first night was the same one we had seen in October 2004. You would think that they could change the shows at least once every three years. Service: Was and is the finest on the seas. Elesio in the Martini Bar is still the finest bartender on this earth. He takes care of everyone so well and makes the Martini Bar our favorite place to be on board. Everyone else from our asst. waiter to the cabin attendant was fantastic. For a three day cruise, it was great. Infinity is a wonderful ship, its crew is the best at sea and the CC folks we cruised with were outstanding. This was our second repositioning cruise on Infinity and we are only sorry that they aren't doing another next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
15 day Panama Canal cruise Getting to Miami: We flew down a day ahead of departure. We booked the cruise early and then booked rooms and airline tickets early. Celebrity then changed the port of embarkation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. ... Read More
15 day Panama Canal cruise Getting to Miami: We flew down a day ahead of departure. We booked the cruise early and then booked rooms and airline tickets early. Celebrity then changed the port of embarkation from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. It is about 30 miles and not a long distance. Celebrity did not offer to cover the extra cost for the transfer which cost us about $60. Embarkation: It was smooth and quick. Since the ship had been in dry dock for two weeks prior, there were no passengers getting off nor some of the other issues related to clearing immigration, etc. We got on the ship at 11:00 am. Dining: We had main seating and were at the back of the ship at table 420. Our tablemates were great as we try to always get a round table for 8. We enjoy meeting new people and having the pleasure of dining with them for the trip. The food was respectable, but not as memorable as we had had on the Constellation just 5 months prior. Lobster night was excellent. Being on a 15 day (2 week cruise, we had hoped for two lobster nights, but only one was forthcoming). Service was acceptable, but it was difficult to understand our waiter at times due to noise in general in the dining room and at times the noise from the ship. The Seaside Cafe was very good. Being in CC class, we had excellent room service, thus ate on our balcony most mornings. The room service food was always hot and on time. We did go to the cafe for waffles twice. For lunch we ate in the cafe every day we were on ship except one. I personally became addicted to the pasta bar with garlic and onions sautEed and added to the sauces. I would ask the servers to drain my pasta more as it seemed they hurried that process. I finally requested that they skip that step (heating the pasta a little more) it didnt change my enjoyment and the pasta was much less watery. We enjoyed the sushi bar a few evenings. This is located at the back of the seaside cafe from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. We did not try the alternative dining as we had tried it on the Constellation and did not want to spend the extra money. In retrospect with the food in main dining being okay I wish we had tried it one evening. Entertainment: We were a little disappointed in the entertainment. Most likely it was more our age vs. the actual entertainment. We are in our early 50s and felt that most of the performances were targeted to an older age demographic. We were some of the youngest people on the ship. The ventriloquist though was excellent as we had seen him on the Constellation in Dec 05. The bright spot for us was Tony playing guitar at the aft bar in the evening. Services/Activities on board: Internet cafe is very expensive and was down a couple of days. We had 7 sea days, so we signed up the package minutes and from an accounting stand point, it worked very well. I do think the pricing is extremely high and would suggest as we did at a couple of ports of call, find an internet cafe where instead of paying $45.00/hour at 75 cents per minute, you can find places for $5.00/hour. The crew was great! The crew was great! Never had a problem and in fact joked with a couple of the crew (activity staff) that they seemed to be having as much or more fun than we were. The theme parties we excellent and the crew participated and added a lot to the enjoyment. We attended a couple of other activities during the 2 weeks, but for the most part tried to have no schedule. My motto was eat, sleep, drink. Ports of Call: With the Panama Canal, it was a cruise to remember just because of that. It took the whole day to sail from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Other ports were Aruba, which to me is overrated. Most of our ports were on the Pacific. Our best was Acapulco. Coming into the port is neat as the views are wonderful, then we did the Cliff Divers tour and had some of the best seats for viewing in the restaurant next to the cliff. This was a ship sponsored tour. We did a zip line tour in Costa Rica with an individual named Charlie Soto. He met us at the pier, personally was with us the whole day and then when one of our excursion members needed some medicine (unrelated to the excursion) he help her find a pharmacy and went into the store to again help. This was on a Sunday in Puntarenas. In Cabo San Lucas we ate at a ship recommended restaurant called the Shrimp Factory or Store. It was the best shrimp I have ever had in a restaurant. The plate is big, the shrimp are big too. Get the whole plate. I got only a ½ plate and craved more. They cooked the shrimp in saltwater and it required no sauce as needed if cooked only in plain water. At end of cruise, we had two days in San Francisco. Blue skies and warm weather! Ate crab twice, once in Monterey and second time at Fishermans wharf and rode the trolley cars. We also helped SF celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake. Disembarkation: We had a smooth and quick disembarkation. The biggest issue was immigration where the whole list of passengers ended up in line at the same time to go through immigration. The line went from the theatre (which is forward) aft on the starboard side all the way back to the dining rooms and then across the ship to the port side to begin heading back to the theatre where we started our trek to the dining room and then back to the theatre. The theatre was where immigration clearance took place. Once the line started to move it went pretty quick. It turned out it was a good time to see everyone again and say good bye as you tried to find the end of the line. Conclusion: The Panama Canal trip was well worth it. It was worth it for a number of reasons: 1) We met a lot of Cruise Critic members that we had be on threads together for months 2) we had an exotic itinerary 3) We had 15 days! 4) we had a great crew/staff 5) we had great tablemates 6) we had great weather  on our trip (18 days with not one day of rain or rough seas). I would recommend the Panama Canal cruise to anyone and would recommend Celebrity as the cruise line to sail. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
First of all, let me say this was our ninth cruise and first with Celebrity. If traveling from Ft. Lauderdale, try the La Quinta hotel. Great place, not run down as some others have complained about hotels in the pier area. Your stay ... Read More
First of all, let me say this was our ninth cruise and first with Celebrity. If traveling from Ft. Lauderdale, try the La Quinta hotel. Great place, not run down as some others have complained about hotels in the pier area. Your stay includes transportation to the pier which was great. The embarkation procedure was fantastic. No lines and everything was ready for us to walk up, get our room card and board. As we went to our rooms the room steward greeted us and asked us a list of questions about how we wanted our room set up and any special requests we had in relation to his service. All through the trip we were totally happy with his service. The food was plentiful and tasted great. During lunch many people were unaware that there was a made to order pasta bar and sandwich bar at the rear of the ship. These same people were not aware of the waffle bar for breakfast. You cannot skip these. They are almost a dessert they were so good. If you don't want to eat dinner in the dining room you can go to alternative dining, which requires a reservation but it allows a less formal dining area with complete waitservice and only two menus. The menus are alternated each night so not a huge selection but very good. My one complaint is that if you choose not to have a "sit down" dinner, there is no dinner buffet which would allow you to just grab a quick bite then go off to the casino or hang out on the decks. It was a little annoying to me since I don't always want to spend two hours eating dinner. Celebrity is a little different. No animal towels on your bed and none of those activity announcements every half hour to disturb your naps. They had a noon update and that was it. The entertainment was great with an a cappella men's singing group, Lighthouse, which was the the best shipboard entertainment I have ever enjoyed. As for shore excursions, we did the 4x4 thing on Aruba which was okay, but there were four of us and we would have done better renting a jeep and touring ourselves. In Costa Rica we did the Aerial tram which was also just okay. The sale is that you are in a rain forest, which you are. But it was cut years ago and is still 30 years or so from being back to where it should be. In Acapulco we did our own cab thing and got to enjoy all there is to see. For souvenirs, avoid the government area flea market (overpriced) and just walk the shops around the pier. Plenty of them and never pay what they want. Bargain and the prices drop 50 to 60 percent. Cabo San Lucas of course was beautiful and we fended for ourselves. Paid 10 dollars per person for a 1 1/2 water taxi tour of the bay which we thought was a good deal. They will even drop you at lover's beach and come back for you later. We found the guy at the end of the pier and english was not a problem for him. All in all, great trip. Celebrity is a great cruise line and would not hesitate to travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We sailed the Millennium on 3/28/2004 from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego through the Panama Canal. Originally the cruise was slated on the Infinity, but she suffered mechanical problems that required a drydock visit and Celebrity substituted ... Read More
We sailed the Millennium on 3/28/2004 from Ft. Lauderdale to San Diego through the Panama Canal. Originally the cruise was slated on the Infinity, but she suffered mechanical problems that required a drydock visit and Celebrity substituted the Millennium. This is one beautiful ship. Really perfect. Celebrity is simply wonderful. Their dedication to excellent, service is tops. Celebrity seemed to be having some problems the day we arrived because about 70 passengers were waiting a long time at the airport for our bus transfer to the cruise terminal. But once we got to the terminal embarkation was a breeze. A little bit about the ship. We booked the cheapest fare available and were placed in a terrible stateroom, 2192 on the Continental Deck. There was an intermittent mechanical noise of extreme vibration that was awful. We tried to adapt, but after two nights of little sleep we went to Guest Relations to ask for relief. They instantly moved us to a lovely stateroom on the Plaza Deck (same category). Blessed silence! And they could not have been nicer about the whole thing. • There are lounge chairs on Deck 4 that are almost always shaded. • If you have Main Seating for dining, and want to go to the show after dinner, get there early, as the seats fill up awfully fast. We missed a couple of shows because of this. • The Aqua Spa on Deck 10 is really nice. Indoor heated pool with incredible jet areas. I think they're called bubble benches. You have to back up to the area, lift your butt up onto the pipes and slowly ease yourself back to the seating area. Tricky the first time, but well worth it! If no one else is there, you can really spread out sideways and have a ball (or bubble). • The Aqua Spa has a lovely cafe area that serves "healthy" offerings. We enjoyed lunch there often. • At the very aft of the Deck 10 buffet area there should be a sandwich/salad bar area. If you like tuna fish salad, you can get a great sandwich built there. That was a nice change of pace for lunch one day. • Right outside that aft area of the buffet is a nice outside seating area with umbrella tables and an awning. Great place to have a glass of wine with that tuna sandwich. Nice place for an afternoon drink as well. • If you like pizza, we thought the pizza was excellent for a nice change of pace. • If you're interested, the gym area is great. I didn't take any of the classes, but I visited often to use the rowing machine, bike, treadmill, and to do some private yoga. • The pools on deck 10 have two different depths. One is about 4' and the other is 5'6" if I remember correctly. • I love a good martini, but I never did make it to the Martini Bar on deck 5. Tablemates said it was wonderful. • On the at-sea mornings there is a Battle of the Sexes trivia contest in the Rendez-Vous Lounge that is great fun. That may have been the best entertainment on the ship! • There are many things going on: educational lectures, computer classes. I attended a "Sugar Demonstration" by the head pastry chef that was wonderful. • Save the Celebrity Today! that you'll find in your stateroom when you arrive. It has an itinerary for the full 14 days including the dinner dress code, along with the arrival and departure times for each port. • Take along a highlighter for each day's shipboard guide. • Take along a nite-lite. You can plug it into the hair dryer unit in the bathroom. • Pack a swimsuit, shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops in your carry-on bag so that you can make a quick change as soon as you get on the ship and head up to Deck 10. The ports: • Aruba: if you've never been there before I recommend the ship excursion Town and Countryside Drive. It gives you a nice overview of the island, beaches, resorts, casinos, shopping, botanical garden, aloe factory and the Natural Bridge. Very nice tour for the price. If it's offered in the morning, then you can have the afternoon to go off on your own to a beach or shopping. • Panama Canal: the best viewing is probably from the topmost deck way in the front of the ship. It's where the topless sunbathing area is offered. You can get to deck 11 on elevators and then one flight of stairs takes you to the top deck. That's a really good place to watch the approach to the locks and going through the locks. I was in the gym area when we went through the "cut" and had a very good view. They provide a really nice Panama Canal brochure in your stateroom. • Panama (Fuerte Amador): I didn't talk with anyone who enjoyed any excursion to this area. The ship doesn't anchor until 6PM. So whatever was done was done pretty much after dark. Everyone was disappointed. I think that even if it weren't dark they still would not have been impressed with the excursions. The only people who had anything positive to say were those who just took a tender and did a little exploring on foot and shopping. • Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Wow! What a fascinating country. We opted for a non-ship tour. We joined 20 other people from Cruise Critic and booked with JD Watersports for a River Cruise. They met us on the pier and we journeyed on an air-conditioned bus to a restaurant that was terrific. We had a leisurely lunch there and then traveled on to the river. Boarded a nicely canopied boat for a terrific river cruise. Be prepared. It may be very warm and humid. But I just loved the whole trip. You cannot imagine how many creatures, crawling and flying, you will see. Other people went on ship's excursions that they just raved about. Those I particularly remember people praising were the Flavors of Costa Rica coffee plantation, the La Paz Waterfalls, and the Sarchi shopping trip. And some of those were really long days, but the people said they were just wonderful. Our day was about 6 hours, and we had the bus ride, lunch, river cruise and ride back for $59. We opted to not do the botanical garden walk. • Acapulco: beautiful place. Again very warm and humid. We arranged for a private vehicle again with Cruise Critic friends. There were six of us in a Suburban. The driver was exceptional. I must admit that I got ill during the voyage and had to return to the ship before seeing the cliff divers. But the tour I had was lovely. And the others told me that the rest of the journey was just as wonderful and the cliff divers were extraordinary of course. Acapulco is a very large, heavily populated area. Lots of traffic. But breathtaking scenery. Ended up costing each couple who finished the whole tour $75. • Cabo San Lucas: I can't talk about anything ashore because we did not go ashore that day. I was surprised at how many people stayed on the ship that day. The weather was absolutely fabulous. This is a tender port that is the shortest stay in port. I'd be a little leery of taking any private trip on Cabo. By the way I was very lucky that afternoon because I was sitting in the buffet area having a cup of tea and happened to see a couple of whales cavorting off the port side of the ship. They weren't close, but I could definitely tell what they were. They kept "blowing", slapping their tales and breaching. Wow, what a show they put on! Altogether this was a wonderful cruise experience. Traversing the canal is extraordinary. But what made this trip most memorable for us was not the ship, not the itinerary, but the people we met. We were seated at a table for twelve and what a fabulous group we turned out to be. From NH, southern California, Michigan, Ohio and Texas. We love the dining room experience anyway and Celebrity does it very well. But we especially looked forward to joining out tablemates each evening because we just had such fun being together. It was very hard to say good-bye. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Sail Date February 2004
I have been on 24 cruises and think that this is the nicest looking ship that I have ever been on. I think this is the standard that all ships should strive towards. Our room was nice and the balcony was fine. There was a great variety ... Read More
I have been on 24 cruises and think that this is the nicest looking ship that I have ever been on. I think this is the standard that all ships should strive towards. Our room was nice and the balcony was fine. There was a great variety of food to choose from. The dining room food was good, not great. You could go to the alternative dining area, which we liked when we were tired of the same dining experience in the main eating area or you could eat Sushi, which we are very fond of eating, or you could eat the Spa food which was very good. There was the pizza and hamburgers and fries which were great, but the best dining experience was the SS United States eating area. It cost $25 per person but it was well worth every cent. Go there often. The chocolate souffle was to die for. Ports were as follows: Cabo San Lucas: very good shopping and a nice place to just walk around. Acapulco: take a tour, I've done tours and not and this place needs help so go on a catamaran or go see the divers. Hutalco: Why we docked here is beyond me. There is really little to see and little to do. They should think up somewhere else. Costa Rica: We never saw this port as someone had had an accident and we had to go back to Hutalco and drop them off and head to the Canal. Canal: We didn't get off and I am glad we didn't. The views were great and we had a good time right on the ship. My son, who was on another ship at the same time went on a tour and this is done with armed guards and there was a riot where they went, so why bother getting off and why would they even suggest doing so. At the canal we stopped at Cristobal. We were late getting there and had about an hour to shop. Fun getting the little souvenirs, and this experience there told me don't need it. Aruba: This was the best stop. It wasn't long enough. Since it is the best by far they should factor that in. Shopping for watches was great and everyone we saw had a great time. We also did the hiking and snorkeling tour which was very good. Getting Off the ship was not the best experience. Waiting, and then rushing and trying to find my bags. They lost one and to date they have not found it. Did you know they only offer $300 for a lost bag if they don't find it in the 14 days they say it takes to look? Hey the bag is either there or it isn't. I would suggest trip insurance for this very thing. We did. Hopefully, it will pay. That covers $1000 per person. How could they lose a bag from our room to the dock? The after part of the cruise with the lost bag is going badly but the cruise itself was great. I would still go again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Review - Panama Canal - Celebrity Infinity - December 7-21, 2003 Dec 6 - San Antonio to San Diego - Flew to San Diego a day early in case there were flight delays or other problems plus we wanted to embark as early as possible the day of ... Read More
Review - Panama Canal - Celebrity Infinity - December 7-21, 2003 Dec 6 - San Antonio to San Diego - Flew to San Diego a day early in case there were flight delays or other problems plus we wanted to embark as early as possible the day of sailing. Due to a large convention in San Diego, we could not find a room at a hotel downtown or near cruise terminal. We ended up at the Hampton Inn on Greenwood. Not the best location or hotel but chose it for the price, free shuttle from airport and to cruise terminal. Since we had visited San Diego previously, we did not do any sightseeing that day, just rested and visited with the other couple we had booked the trip with, my husband's sister, her husband and their daughter. Sunday - Dec. 7 - Embarkation - Casual Night - We caught the hotel shuttle to the cruise terminal shortly after 11 AM and were unloading our luggage by 11:30. There were already people there. The ship was not due to arrive until 2:00 although it actually pulled into port around 12:30. Boarding began between 1:00-1:30. There were long tables of representatives to check us in. They did not have computers and were manually checking everyone in. It will save you lots of time if you do the on-line embarkation form, print out a copy and BRING IT WITH YOU. Even if you do it on-line but don't have the copy with you, you will have to manually fill out the forms. Since we had the print-out, all we had to do was give our credit card information. They placed a Blue Sticker on our ship cards and that signified the order of boarding. We thought we would be the first group to board as we were there so early but some people who arrived later than us actually boarded earlier. The first group to board was the Red Stickers 1-7. These passengers appeared to be physically challenged or passengers with small children. The second group to board was the Yellow Stickers 1-7. I believe these people were in the Suites, Concierge cabins, and high ranking Captain Club members. (We're low ranking CC members). The next group was the Blue Stickers. Finally! Sorry, I don't know the colors after blue. Complimentary snacks and beverages were available while you waited. There was a sign on the table that said "Ship sold out - no upgrades available" but the representative said to check with the Guest Relation Desk if interested in an upgrade. As soon as we boarded, we, and the other couple we were traveling with, went straight to Guest Relations to inquire about an upgrade. We both had a 1B balcony cabin but were interested in the Family Veranda cabins that were still showing available online. Guest Relations said it would be $1000 per cabin to upgrade and initially we said "No, too much" and then, "Can we see the FV cabins". After comparing our 1B balcony cabin to the Family Verandas, we called the Guest Relation Desk and said, "we'll do the upgrade!!" Ordinarily, we would not have done an upgrade but we had such a good cruise price to begin with and the larger room and huge aft balcony (over 240 sq ft) won us over with it being a 14 day cruise with so many sea days and the canal itself. We figured it came to $35 per person per day! We'd just spend less for drinks, souvenirs, and shore excursions. Our cabin was FV 8183, their cabin was a corner FV 8177. We met our room steward, Marino, and asked if he could get us padded cushions for the lounge chairs and extra hangers. He obliged on both counts. After doing a little unpacking, we headed up to the buffet for lunch, then to the Dining Room to check out our table assignment, bought a coke sticker for my husband at the Cova Cafe and then headed out to San Diego for a little sightseeing. I purchased a bottle of Terramia Pinot Grigio (an Italian wine) that I "planned" on drinking during sail-a-ways on our balcony but figured if they took it from me while boarding, I'd just have it in the Dining Room and pay the corkage fee (more on corkage fee and wine steward later). I did not try to conceal the bottle at all and sent it through x-ray and security with not one glance from anyone. We had a special treat that evening around 7 PM when we were able to view San Diego's Christmas Boat Parade from our balcony. All the boats were decorated in Christmas lights and sailed very close to our ship, probably making the coast guard and security people somewhat nervous. Initially we were to set sail at 8 PM but due to all the snow and bad weather in the northeast, the ship did not sail until around 9:30 PM, probably waiting on passengers who were delayed, so did not get to see the sail-a-way from San Diego as we had late seating. Main Seating first night 7:00 PM - Late Seating 9:00 PM We lost 1 hour sleep as we were requested to turn our watches forward 1 hour before retiring. Monday - December 8 - Sea Day - Formal Night - The mandatory Lifeboat Drill was scheduled for 10:30 AM. First cruise I've been on that it was not done before leaving port. The Cruise Critic Party was at 11:30 in Michael's Club. There was a big turn out and it was fun to finally put a face to a screen name. Everyone was relieved to see the newly-weds (MrsT and Andy) made their flight out of Philadelphia despite all the snow and airport closures. There were snacks and beverages. The staff seemed so "surprised" at the number of people who came and how we already seemed to know each other. I believe the ship staff still does not have a "clue" what Cruise Critic and the Message Boards is all about. After about an hour, we were taken to the Grand Stair Case where an official picture was taken of the group. In the afternoon, Captain Club members were treated to complimentary wine tasting event. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, eating and learning our way around the ship. Tuesday - December 9 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Casual Night - This was the only port where we were tendered to shore. The famous Los Arcos and Land's End could be seen from the ship. There was only one other ship in port that day. When you get off the tender there are lots of guys trying to sell tours. We wanted to see Los Arcos up close and go to Lovers Beach. Lovers Beach is rated as one of Mexico's "Ten Best" by Conde Nast Traveler. The water taxi guy wanted $10 initially but we bargained for $8 each round-trip. We paid up-front. He sailed around Land's End and Los Arcos and gave a limited commentary and would stop for pictures. He dropped us off at Lovers Beach. He asked us how long we'd like to spend there and we said 1.5 hours - thinking that would give us plenty of time. He said he would be back in 1.5 hours (which he was). He gave us his card with his boat's name on it. Actually we could have spent more time at Lovers Beach and 3 hours would have been better than 1.5 hours. There are two sides to Lovers Beach, the rough Pacific side with heavy surf, a strong undertow and erratic rip-tides and the calmer bay side where you can snorkel. We spent most of our time on the Pacific side taking lots of pictures of the rocks and watching surfers. I tipped $1 to a guy that helped me off and back on the boat at Lovers Beach. There is no food or drinks at the beach to buy and saw only one vendor selling silver. After returning to port we walked to the town (just a block or two away) and did some shopping. Went to Cabo Wabbo Bar/Restaurant where sister-in-law bought t-shirts. Did some window shopping but didn't buy anything. Brother-in-law and niece did the Ship's Kayak Shore Excursion Tour and said it was fun. Enjoyed Cabo San Lucas and wouldn't mind visiting this port again. Last tender was at 5:30 - Ship sailed at 6:00. That night there was an Island Party at 10:30 on the Pool Deck with a fruit and sherbet buffet. There was dancing to the music of Legacy the wonderful band that plays everything from reggae to country to rock. Instead of the Activities Staff personnel encouraging the passengers to get up and dance, they had their own "party" dancing with each other and completely ignoring the passengers. This was the first of many examples of how the Activities Staff did (or didn't) do their job. We lost another hour of sleep as we were requested to set our watches forward 1 hour before retiring. Wednesday - December 10 - Sea Day - Informal Night - Participated in some of the day's activities such as Trivia, champagne ring toss, digital camera Q & A, etc. Husband played in first of two slot tournaments and went to an enrichment lecture, etc. When husband showed up (early) to "basketball with activities staff", the activities staff never showed up! Thursday - December 11 - Acapulco - Casual Night - Thanks to reading the Ports Of Call Section on the message boards and the postings from the Operations Manager for Acapulco Port Authority, our day in Acapulco was great. He had posted that if cruise passengers asked for him on the pier, he would help with finding a reputable driver for private tours. Within minutes of being asked for, he arrived and was very professional and helpful in finding out what we wanted to do and then arranged a driver and tour for the four of us for the day. He also told us of a festival that was being held that night in town and if we wanted to go, but were leery of going by ourselves, to let him know and he'd go with us! Our driver drove a late model suburban vehicle and spoke very good english. We were driven along the bay and stopped at Las Brisas, Senor Frogs, to the new resort hotels and to the Cliff Divers and then later to a shopping market. Photo stops were made along the way. At the cliff divers my husband and I opted to watch the divers at the La Perla Restaurant. For $12 each, we were seated at a table in the shade with a great view of the divers. We were served two drinks. The other couple decided to go to the observation deck to watch the divers and while our view point was probably better, they were closer to the divers. The entire tour lasted a little over 6 hours and we paid $100 including tip for the four of us. It was around 3:30 when we were dropped back at the pier. We went back to the ship, ate a late lunch and then decided to walk along the bay near the ship. I bought some silver jewelry from a street vendor - who knows if it's real silver or not (it was stamped), but it looks good and the price was more than reasonable so I'm not too concerned over its authenticity. We then found ourselves in the area where the festival was being held - Festival for the Virgin of Guadalupe - all the little children were dressed up in traditional Mexican garments and the little boys' faces were painted with mustaches, beards and side-burns. There were photo booths set up with different themes and the children were having their pictures taken. There were colorful balloons, toys and food being sold. We did not see any other "tourists or ship people" there and it was enjoyable taking in the sights and sounds including all the firecrackers. We never felt the least bit uneasy as the locals basically ignored us. After enjoying the festivities, we thought we should get back to the ship as it was getting close to our dinner time. The ship sailed at 11 PM. There was a Tex-Mex Party from 10-Midnight on the Pool Deck with Mexican food and country western music. Friday, December 12 - Huatulco, Mexico - Informal Night - Huatulco was not in the original itinerary but was added this Fall. This is the latest resort being developed by the Mexican government and has a 30 year master plan and a $200 million price tag. The area consists of 9 bays, a few developed already but most not. We arrived late morning and the ship docked at a brand new pier. We were the only ship in port. There is a nice sand beach and calm water at the end of the pier with beach lounge chairs, and tables and chairs in the shade if you want to have lunch or a beer. There is a little shopping area just a couple of blocks from the pier. At the shopping area, the people have the usual souvenirs but the shopkeepers were not that "pushy" while browsing. The prices seemed the best and while some things were "marked" with a price you could still negotiate. There were six of us in our group that day. We decided to hire a water taxi to take us to the different bays where we could stop to snorkel, swim or sit on the beach. The problem we had in Huatulco was that not everyone who deals with the tourists speak English and while we THOUGHT we knew what we wanted to see and do, it was not communicated very well to the man who was making the arrangements with the boat driver who could not speak ANY English. We were under the impression we could go to ALL or MOST of the 9 bays if we wanted and that we had the boat for ALL day. The price was $10 each person ($60 total). The boat driver thought we were to go to ALL the BEACHES in THREE of the BAYS and he wanted more money if he was to take us to any additional bays. At least that was the conversation we had with him through sign language and very broken Spanish. After about 2 hours, we had him take us back to the dock where we had a "conversation" with the tour operator who refunded some of our money. As it turned out, it would have been impossible to see all 9 bays in one afternoon and we should have stayed at one of the bays at one of the beaches and where we would have had a delightful afternoon. Regardless, we still had a scenic boat trip and some beach time so not all was lost but it was very frustrating for a while. After getting our "refund", we did some shopping and then relaxed on the beach by the ship for the rest of the afternoon. Everyone agreed that Huatulco was one of our best ports and everyone wished to come back again soon.....Be careful what you wish for. Saturday, December 13 - Sea Day - Formal Night - My husband has a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite Receiver) and every morning he would check our position and compare it to the ship's position that was shown on the TV. It was around 8:30 AM and we were sitting on our balcony having breakfast when he checked our position. He said, "This is strange, the GPS shows we are 3 nautical miles from Huatulco". After telling him, his toy was worthless, I got up and looked around the side of the ship and said, "The GPS is right, we're back at Huatulco!" Seems a passenger became seriously ill (heart-attack?) at 1 AM and the ship decided to turn around and go back to the nearest port which was Huatulco to take him off. It was a couple of hours before we were on our way again. What we didn't realize at the time is that we had lost too much time back-tracking and would not be able to make our port of call in Costa Rica as scheduled. We received a letter that evening stating that because of missing Costa Rica, each cabin would be credited with $100 shipboard credit and there would be two complimentary cocktail hours the next night. We would have rather have gone to Costa Rica but it was a nice gesture on Celebrity's part. What this also meant was that we would have 5 sea days in a row (counting the canal) before we would get off at Aruba. We spent the day doing the usual shipboard activities such as trivia, napkin folding classes, golf putting and competing in the blackjack tournament. Celebrity has the most boring ship board activities! Sunday, December 14 - Sea Day (Would have been Costa Rica) - Casual Night - Instead of visiting Costa Rica we had another sea day. Not much to talk about as we just relaxed on our balcony watching the wake and participating in the same-old-same-old activities. At 2:30 after playing Pictionary, my sister-in-law and I went up to the Pool Deck to see what the "Poolside Fun with Activities Staff" would be (at 2:45). We were sitting there waiting for the announcement as to what the activity would be when the activity staff announced since there wasn't anyone interested in Poolside Fun, it was cancelled for that day. My sister-in-law and I and another man went up and said we were there for the activity....just waiting to find out what it was going to be. The activity guy said no one else seemed to be interested and besides the "passengers on this ship didn't like to participate anyway" and so there wasn't going to be an activity. This kind of ticked me off and I told him maybe if he would just make an announcement what the activity was, he just might have participants. The staff had already made up their mind that they weren't having the activity. When I said I was going to make a "complaint", he handed me 3 t-shirts (one for each of us) and said, "Will that make you happy, now?" How rude. Of all the cruises we have taken (this was #12) I have never seen an activity staff so unprofessional. We lost 1 hour sleep as we were requested to turn our watches forward 1 hour before retiring. Monday, December 15 - Sea Day - Informal Night - Just another day at sea. Restful and uneventful. That evening at 10:45 they had a 50's - 60's Sock Hop that was fun. Didn't get to bed until 1:00 AM. Tuesday, December 16 - Panama Canal & Cristobal Pier - Casual Night - The highlight of the cruise - to transit the Panama Canal. I set a wake up call for 5:30 AM so that I could see the Bridge of the Americas as we sailed under it. I was about 20 minutes too late. As soon as the phone rang, I jumped up and ran out to the balcony and there in the distance was the Bridge. Oops. As with most mornings we had ordered breakfast to be delivered and evidently everyone else on board had also. Took our breakfast over to my sister-in-law's cabin since their cabin/balcony was a corner one and we could really get a good look at the workings of the canal. Spent much of the day watching the working of the locks and was surprised at the beauty of the lake. Around 7:00 PM we were able to get off the ship at Cristobal Pier (a re-fueling stop?). There is a nice handicraft market right there are the pier and some entertainment. There is also an internet cafe that was $3 for ½ hour. They had t-shirts for $5 that were pretty good quality. You could bargain somewhat for the t-shirts and handicraft items but not too much, just a dollar or two off asking price. My husband went to the ship's doctor instead of to the pier that night. Dr. Visit: When we were in our cabin, we'd keep the sliding glass door open to the balcony to hear the water. One evening before the canal, we had been going in and out of our cabin to the balcony with the door open when I decided to close the door. Poor husband didn't realize I had closed the door and walked smack into it and about knocked himself coo-coo, even made his nose bleed a bit. We even joked that I probably gave him a concussion. So when a day or two later he complained of being dizzy and the room spinning to the point of being nauseous (especially during the canal transit when he tried to look down over the ship), I got worried, thinking he had indeed gotten a concussion. He went to the ship's doctor that evening. After checking him out, it was determined it wasn't a concussion (thank goodness) but probably a slight inner ear infection and he was having a bad case of vertigo. She gave him some sea-sick tablets and by dinner, and $73 later, he was completely well. Wednesday, December 17 - Sea Day - Informal Night - Lazy day - did the usual trivia games, golf putting, slot tournament and eat. Thursday, December 18 - Aruba - Casual Night - Arrived approx. 7:00 AM. Everyone was excited to finally get off the ship after 5 days (not counting Cristobal Pier). We decided to do the beach scene. After a leisurely breakfast, we got off the ship around 10 AM and hired a taxi to take us to Palm Beach where most of the high rise hotels are located. The taxi ride was $10 each way. We were dropped us off between the Radisson and Wyndham Hotels. We rented a beach chair that also came with a float for $10 for all day. My husband doesn't like too much sun so he was more than content to lie under a shady palm tree while I laid on the float in the beautiful clear, sea-foam green water. When I wasn't in the water, I was walking the beach taking in the sights and taking lots of pictures. Had we wanted to be more active, there were jet skis you could rent, banana boat rides, water skiing, scuba diving, parasailing, etc. We stayed at the beach until 2:30. We walked over to the Radisson and easily got a taxi back to the ship. After getting a quick bite of lunch, we headed back out to the market area at the pier to look around. Ended up at an internet ice cream cafe and checked our email. It was basically $1.25 for every 15 minutes of use. We used 45 minutes worth - time flies when you're on the web. Still, so much cheaper than the ship. It's very windy in Aruba and on the top deck at sail-a-way the wind just about blew our hair off our heads. My husband said I looked like a troll doll !! Realized I had not had even one sip of the wine I'd purchased in San Diego, so decided to take the bottle to the dining room and pay the corkage fee of $12. Wine steward took the wine and although it had been in the mini bar for 10 days, he decided it needed more chill time. When he finally got around to opening it (at main course) he tasted it and said it had a high sugar content. I told him, I preferred a sweet wine to a dry wine and that is why I picked it. Instead of just pouring it, he kept talking about the high sugar content. Remember, this is an Italian wine I have purchased before and like which is why I bought it this time around. It was really embarrassing for me for him to continue to make a big deal of what he considered my "poor choice" of a wine in front of my table mates. Tonight we got 1 hour of sleep back - Got to set our watches back 1 hour. We needed an extra hour of sleep. Friday, December 19 - Sea Day - Formal Night - It finally dawns on us that we have only two more days of the cruise left. Where did the days go? Time for serious pool deck time and the sun tan we've been putting off. Except....it's cloudy and cool outside. We shuffle from inside from the trivia games to outside to sit under the cloudy skies while Legacy plays their wonderful Reggae music that makes you want to get up and dance and so I do....with the teen-aged kids who also love the music and love to dance. They don't seem to care a 55 year old woman has invaded their group and even seem to welcome me. Not too many others around the pool today and as with the other sea days, no problem ever with finding a deck chair by the pool. There were no chair hogs on this cruise. In fact, we wonder where everyone is this afternoon. Saturday, December 20 - Sea Day - Casual Night - We awake to find it cloudy, rainy and cool today. Might as well use this time to start packing so we won't have to do it tonight. By 11, I've got everything packed except for what we're wearing tonight and tomorrow. Talked to Humberto with future cruise sales and book a cruise to Alaska on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas for September. Pool deck completely deserted and it looks like a ghost ship. My sister-in-law and I go to the Thallostherapy Pool and enjoy the warm water and water jets. Later, I go out to pool deck and listen to Legacy play for the last time...no dancing today, though, just trying to stay warm with the beach towels wrapped around me instead of under me. Sunday, December 21 - Disembarkation - Since we were spending the day and night in Fort Lauderdale, we are among the very last to disembark. We went through immigration at 8:30 in the Celebrity Theatre. We stayed in our room and sat on our balcony until 9:35, our "scheduled" time to disembark. Our cabin steward did not seem to have a problem with us staying in the cabin. They finally called our "color" close to 10 AM. No problem finding luggage and clearing customs but flagging a taxi was a different matter. No rhyme or reason here nor one line to make it more orderly. It was every man for himself and despite not being in a hurry, it did not seem too long before we were on our way to the hotel. Observations: The average age of the passengers on this cruise appeared to be 65-75 years old. There were at least 3 and up to 5 passengers who died while on this cruise (depending who you talked to). The service and food in the dining room was very good after a rocky start (Asst. Waiter was replaced after 5 days of very poor service). Did not eat in the SS United States Restaurant but niece and a friend did and said service and food was exceptional. The Good Things: Loved all the ports of call and most of the sea days. Loved the free ice cream from noon to 6 PM every day. Loved the 2 PM "sorbet on parade" on pool deck. Loved the cold towels when returning from port. Loved the padded deck chairs. Loved our large cabin and balcony. Loved having breakfast delivered in the morning and eating it on the balcony. The Bad Things: Celebrity really needs to update and have more options for activities on sea days as it's the same thing over and over. The activity staff needs better training. Some of the lectures were extremely boring and some of information given was erroneous. Better prizes should be offered for participating and winning in the activities...key chains and pens just do not cut it. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
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