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26 Celebrity Millennium Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Intro: To those who don't know me, by way of a little background, I am a 49 year old corporate real estate attorney from Calabasas, California (just northwest of Los Angeles). Accompanied on this cruise by my wife, Beth, a School ... Read More
Intro: To those who don't know me, by way of a little background, I am a 49 year old corporate real estate attorney from Calabasas, California (just northwest of Los Angeles). Accompanied on this cruise by my wife, Beth, a School Psychologist. For the first time in 10 years, we left the two teenaged daughters (17 and 19) at home. Pre-Cruise/Venice: Flew from LAX to Venice with a 2:40 layover and change of planes at JFK. Only problem with JFK was that at 5-7 in the evening, all food services at the Delta terminal were closed with the exception of Burger King. Plane from JFK to Venice caught a tail wind and we were in Venice at 9:30 am on Thursday, over an hour ahead of schedule. Celebrity personnel met us at the luggage carousel and escorted us to a nearby waiting bus. The trip into Venice was quick and easy. Our luggage was taken to the hotel for us and we were led on a short easy walk from the bus parking to the hotel. We opted for the two-night pre-cruise stay at the Carlton Executive Hotel in Venice. The hotel was clean and nice, rooms were small but well appointed. Not really worth the $359 per person for the two-night stay, but the logistics of not dealing with our own luggage/transportation easily made up for that. The hotel was located right across the canal from the train station, making it convenient to the port and to the buses/trains, but a long walk to most of the sites of Venice…That was okay, because, for two days, we got very accustomed to walking everywhere. First day, we walked across the bridge to the Ghetto, toured the Synagogues and Ghetto (absolutely fascinating), then walked to Tintoretto’s church and to the Rialto Bridge. Had dinner on the Piazza Santa Margarita in the same outdoor café where we ate on our honeymoon 22 years earlier (very good, but overpriced and all ala carte). Friday, we took a "free rideâ€? to Murano. BEWARE! Free rides are worth what you pay for them. The hotel clerk told us they would arrange such free rides, but, you are basically there as a guest of whichever glass blowing studio paid for your ride. The boat tenders to their private dock and they give you a personal guided "tourâ€?, most of which is a trip through their showroom store where your one-on-one guide tries to sell you extremely high-priced pieces. We LITERALLY escaped and ran…there is no exit…You need to find your own way out. We found some other tourist family jimmying open a gate and followed them to freedom…Once outside the gates, Murano is charming, but everything is a glass-blowing gift shop…We took a "Vaporettiâ€? (a public bus-boat) back to the main islands, walked to Piazza San Marco, toured the Doge’s Palace (a highlight is crossing the Bridge of Sighs on the INSIDE…to the prison)…For dinner, we crossed the bridge to near the train station where there are many nice little outdoor cafes with prix-fixe complete multi-course menus…We chose the Cafe "Brindisiâ€? with a full menu for 13 Euros a person…Very good… Next morning, on schedule, the ship’s land agent, Medov, came to take us to the ship… Check in was remarkably quick…we were on board in a matter of minutes… The Ship: What can I say…The Millennium is magnificent…The ship’s décor is dignified and warm, the layout is convenient (for a ship her size). Our cabin was on the Eighth deck, right near the midship elevators, making everything a convenient distance…Dining Room on the 4th and 5th decks to the rear of the ship, Celebrity Theater 4th and 5th to the front…most everything else was to be found between the two…shops and lounges on the 5th, casino, internet cafe and lounges on the 4th…Cosmo’s disco on the 11th, pools, spa and buffet on the 10th, cinema and purser on the 3rd…All easy to find… Our cabin was not large, but comfortable…perhaps could have used a bit more closet space, but, all-in-all, a minor inconvenience…Cabin Steward, Martin, was excellent and highly professional, almost transparent most of the time…he knew our schedule, made note of changes to it (like our reservation time for the Olympic) and adapted to it… I was very impressed with the showroom, amply large with few truly bad seats… We had Early Seating…which worked out perfectly with this itinerary…the only nights we were in port late, we ate in the Olympic or it somehow otherwise worked out (we had tickets to the Flamenco show in Barcelonaâ€"departing 8:45, so the early seating slid very well right in front of it.)… Our table was wonderful…Our tablemates were Nick and Liz, from New York, Nathan and Zippy from New Jersey and Ralph and Doreen (lilmscaddy on Cruise Critic…Intros were easy…thanks, CruiseCritic) from Indiana…We all became pretty close pretty quickly and did quite a bit together as a groupâ€"on and off the ship… Our Waiter, Davidâ€"from Franceâ€"and assistant waiter, Francisco were great…If anyone who reads this gets David as a waiter, consider yourselves in very good hands… We had a table at the extreme rear of the ship at the window, on the port side, 4th floor…nice views for dinner… I, personally, thought the food was outstanding…although, there were mixed reviews from our table…my wife, for one, had a few meals with which she was less than thrilled… The Olympic: We ate one night in the Olympic…the food and service was excellent…Beth had the Cheese Soufflé and Steak Diane…I opted for the Lobster Bisque and the Veal…The veal was fine but I should have gone with the Steak Diane…The Chocolate Soufflé for dessert was unbeatable…I wish they served it in the main dining room as well…Although the meal was excellent and I would easily pay far more back home for such a dining experience, I don’t know that it justifies the extra $50…It’s not as if the main dining room is giving you burgers and fries at a fast food window…I know the Olympic has its fans, but for me, if it didn’t exist and I was FORCED to eat in the main dining room each night, I wouldn’t exactly feel deprived… Other food: I thought the pizza was only fair at best and hardly worth the effort…The Sushi bar, however, was outstanding…My only wish would be that they should open it at 4:00 p.m., like the Carnival Elation (Yes, folks, Carnival gets some things right) instead of 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.…For those of us with early seating, this puts it smack opposite dinner hours…Still, on more than one occasion, I stopped for a plate of sushi on my way to dinner!! Selection and quality were outstanding…But, if it were open at 4:00, we could at least digest a little sushi before beginning the next meal…Ice Cream was great…and convenient…I must have had about two cones a day… Entertainment: On various nights, the main shows included: The Celebrity singers and dancers: Very good, but, as typical with most cruises, the shows lacked much originality and whoever comes up with these shows obviously believes that music, as we know it, ceased to be created after 1965…with the exception of motown and disco which seemed to have continued on through around 1975…the last show by these guys, at least had some good costumes and some interesting opera numbers… A magician: again, pretty good, but nothing overly flashy… Jugglers: These guys were fun and entertaining…and funny… A comic: Don Gavin…from Boston…my favorite on this cruise…very funny, also did a quite funny midnight show… A violinist and a trumpet player (co-billed but separate)…good, but these types of acts don’t make for an exciting show…Lisa, the violinist, was actually quite nice…we met her later in the cruise… An impressionist: weak on the impressions, but strong on the audience rapport…which more than makes up for talent…relating to the audience is a greater talent…especially in putting up with one obnoxious young audience "volunteerâ€? who tried to hijack the show (Parents, get a clue…muzzle your kid)… A couple of the house singers did "double-dutyâ€? headlining shows…good, but Celebrity should bring in added talent instead to make these shows a bit more special so you don’t feel you’re just getti8ng another "houseâ€? show without the dancers and costume changes… I may have left someone or another out…though the nights when we were in port late, there were no shows… Overall, the entertainment rates only a "fairâ€?…But, that’s okay, I’m satisfied with "fairâ€?…it beats what we got on Princess in the Baltic a couple of years back… Ports: General: We had visited 8 of the 10 ports before, some more than once…but never by cruise ship…We had always made our own way, hit and miss…so, we decided, this time, to rely mainly on tours…We considered booking our own guides, but the uncertainties of hiring guides and not having others to defray some of the costs or of ending up with incompatible tourmates pretty much convinced us to rely on the ship’s excursionsâ€"despite the obvious limitations…and cost (other than the high cost of private, unshared tours) was not a major concern…So, we went with Shore Excursions in every port… Dubrovnik: We opted for the Cavtat and Dubrovnik tour…I would not recommend it…Cavtat was scarcely worth seeing…The tour of Dubrovnik was brief and did not go up onto the walls…after the tour, we wandered the old city on our own…and this would have been sufficient… Corfu: We did the Achilleon Palace, Paleokatstritsas and Corfu tour…The Achilleon Palace was definitely worth seeing and we would not have seen it on our own…after the tour, we ate lunch at the same restaurant we ate at on our honeymoon, "Pizza Pete’sâ€?…Yes, that’s rightâ€"but, don’t let the name fool youâ€"this place is a one-of-a-kind…it sits out on the cliffs over the sea, near the harbor and the old fort…the kitchen sits on the other side of the highway and the waiters dodge traffic as they bring you your food…the food includes Pizza and Italian specialties, but the menu is extensive and is largely Greekâ€"it’s actually two restaurants…or at least looks like itâ€"the other half has a Greek name, but the menus are the same, and the kitchen and waiters are the same…it’s a ploy for folks who can’t decide between Greek and Italian…the patio is "splitâ€? between the two…sit on either side…it’s the same…You’ll find it on the road along the sea between the shuttle bus stop and the harbor… Then, we wandered the town on our own, shopping and hopped the free shuttle back to the ship… After these two ports came a much needed and well spaced "Day at Seaâ€?… Santorini: We took the Akrotiri Museum and Wine Tasting tour. The Akrotiri part does NOT take you to the ruins themselvesâ€"they are covered and closed…The Museum is in Thira and could have been done "on our ownâ€? as well…but they do take you on a scenic drive around the island to some great view spots and a neat little winery…and they do leave you off at Thira without having to take a donkey up the hill…and with a cable car ticket for the ride home…After our tour, we met up with all of our dinner table mates for lunch at a nice view restaurant in Thira and then went with another of the couples out to Oia and back by public bus…Beautiful island… Athens: Took the Acropolis and Cape Sounion with Lunch tour. Acropolis was, of course, fascinating…even with all the scaffolding and work being done…then came a waste of a stop at a touristy gift shop, then a pretty good Greek lunch at the Hotel Metropolitan (A Chandris Hotel)…lunch was good, but the location had little charm…Then the drive out to Cape Sounion for the very picturesque Temple of Poseidon…which had to be one of the windiest places on earth while we were there… Then, another deserved "day at seaâ€?… Naples: Took the massive, ten-hour "Capri, Sorrento and Pompeiiâ€? tour…and, yes, believe it or not, they fit it all in quite adequately…Our guide, Franco, was excellent…First, we boated right over to Capri, took the Funiculare up to the top, walked to the gardens on the far side of the island, then had shopping time in town…then we boarded a hydrofoil directly for Sorrento, bused to the top to a restaurantâ€"very good and charming, but warm…then some shopping time in town and back to the bus for a tour of Pompeii…with excellent commentary by Franco…but I wish we had more time here…stopped at a useless "Cameo Factoryâ€? on the way back to the ship…ran OVER the 10 hours…we showered and dressed in a hurry and just made it to dinner… Rome: We hit the jackpot on shore excursions here…â€?A walk in Renaissance Romeâ€?…I think the name of the tour and the description (â€"3.5 mile walk…â€?) scared most folks away…So we ended up with two tour guides and only eleven passengers…Since we all fit into a much smaller bus, we were able to travel to Rome on a more restricted route…so that "1.5 hour bus rideâ€? to Rome took only 45 minutes…The walk part…from the Trevi to the Pantheon to the Piazza Navona and many other sights along the way…was quick and easy with only 11 passengers to keep track of (and that description seemed to scare away the older and less mobile folks as well)…We had an outstanding lunch at a small restaurant and had found ourselves so far ahead of schedule that we got an extra, unscheduled bus tour of parts of the city not on our planned itinerary…Then we spent the last portion of our tour with a very personalized guided tour of the Vatican… Livorno: Excursion Jackpot part two: We originally opted for the Pisa and Florence tour, but the more we thought about it, the extremely hot weather, the thought of 40 or 50 passenger buses having to park far from the tourist sites, the walks, the lines, the waiting…and we’d been to Florence before anyway…and it was Monday and we knew the museums would be closed…So, nope…last minute (morning of the tour) we asked out and were allowed to change to the Tuscan Countryside tour…Another small group "19 this timeâ€"and a visit to the beautiful and quaint San Gimigniano and Volterra…Lunch was at an extremely charming little winery outside of San Gimigniano…Plate after plate of antipasti: Salami, prosciutto, cheeses, olives, peppers, breads, tomatoes, and on and on…then some delicious pasta…and wine…and wine…and wine…and wine…So glad we made the switch… Villefranche…Back to the big buses…the Nice, Eze and Monte Carlo tour…a very pleasant time walking through the "marketâ€? in Nice and stopping for a "Double Cafeâ€?, Eze was enchantingâ€"with a very nice lunch…Toured the Palace in Monaco (on our own nickel during our "free timeâ€?…A little upset with the tour guide, Valerie…She gave us a meeting time: 2:45 p.m. and a meeting place: The Yellow Submarine outside the Oceanographic Institute…then failed to wait for us there…We got there a few minutes BEFORE the appointed time…about 10 to 12 of us were gathered there and when 2:45 came and went, the debate raged over what to do…Some folks didn’t even seem to know how to find the bus on their own…luckily, I knewâ€"a short walk, an escalator, an elevator, two more escalators and turn right…Everyone followed me…When we found the bus, we found Valerie…she claimed that since it was so hot and crowded at the meeting place and since many of the passengers were back early, they just "decidedâ€? to leave early…no other explanation, no apology…Guess what, Valerie: No tip either… Another well-spaced and well-deserved "day-at-seaâ€?… Barcelona: We had an "overnightâ€? in Barcelona before finishing the cruise. Took a morning "City Tourâ€?…well worth the $39 for a nice overview with stops at Montjuic, the Sagrada Familia and at the Cathedral…Then, we went back to the ship and packed, had dinner and then went on the "Flamenco Dancingâ€? excursion…what an absolute waste…do this on your own if you really must…First, we stopped at the "Palaceâ€? to watch the colored fountains show along with the mobs of folks…then on to this seedy Flamenco club for popcorn and sangria and a really poor excuse for a dance show…Somewhat amateur hour-ish…and the seating made viewing the dancing difficult at best…We (at least the men) spent most of our time here looking at our watches (How long can this go on???)…at $69 a head, a complete rip-off… We also opted for the additional two-night package in Barcelona at the Gran Hotel Havana…The hotel was quite nice, rooms were substantially large with large bathroom…Location was excellent, on Corts de Catalans at Carrer Bruc…it was three blocks west on Corts to Passieg de Gracia…from Passieg de Gracia, it was only one block south to the Placa Catalunya, the main square of Barcelona and a center of nightlife…The giant "El Corte Inglesâ€? Department store…10 stories of shopping with everything you’ll ever need sits right on the Placa on the Passieg de Gracia frontage (NOTE: Bottled water all over town at small stands and cafes, bars and bakeries goes for 2 to 4 Euros for a 1.5 liter bottle…But, in El Corte Ingles, if you go down one level from street level, you are in the supermarket section and you can get an assortment of bottled water for around 35 Euro CENTS for a 1.5 liter bottle…as well as just about any other snack or drink you want…The Placa Catalunya is also the northern terminus of Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s great walking street…North of Corts de Catalans, along Passieg de Gracia, within just a few blocks, you will find the "Manzana de Discordiaâ€? with Gaudi’s amazing "Casa Batlloâ€? (10 Euro for a short radio-guided tour) and a couple blocks up from that, Gaudi’s "Casa Milaâ€? with it’s great museum and roof access for 7 Euro…Our first day off the ship, we walked south through Las Ramblas and through the Barrio Gotic (the really old parts of Barcelona)…The second day, we walked up Passieg de Gracia to the Gaudi sites then ate lunch at Placa Ruis e Taulet then hopped on Bus #24 along Passieg de Gracia up to Gaudi’s amazing Park Guell… And, then, sadly, the next morning, we returned home…Celebrity’s land agent had a van at the hotel to collect us right on schedule…and the rain poured down at last just as we left the van for the terminal… Some side notes: --Making for a really nice cruise, my wife hit the "final bingoâ€? (a 3-way tie) and walked off with $618…we bought drinks for the table that night… --Formal nights were on two of the "at-seaâ€? nights and, surprisingly, once on a port night (Corfu, I believe…but I don’t have the schedule with me as I write this)…Four of the last five nights were "Casualâ€?, with the informal nights loaded heavily to the earlier nights… --Karaoke was only on "at-seaâ€? nights… --The unruly and rude passengers: The major topic of discussion onboard the ship were the "unruly French peopleâ€?… There were apparently 500 French folks on board…as well as 500 Spanish, some Italians and the rest mostly English speaking (American, Canadian, British, South African, Australian, etc.)...And not ALL the French passengers were rude and obnoxious of course...we met many with whom we would gladly cruise again...Apparently, there was a particular group of 100 or more from a French Bridge Club who, regardless of seating assignments, all walked into the late seating and proceeded to "claim" sections of tables...extremely aggressive and rude...made life fairly miserable for everyone...I also observed many of the Europeans smoking virtually everywhere on the ship..."No Smoking Section" meant absolutely nothing to them...I am asthmatic and very sensitive to this...And, of course, certain entire groups seemed to completely disregard their children, even actively encourage their bad behavior...Yes, if we could have kicked off about 500 people, the cruise would have been perfect--the other 1800+ passengers were exactly what you'd hope for...We, thankfully, had early seating--it was splendid and dignified the entire cruise--I only heard the accounts of the late seating from friends in late seating... Overview: Despite certain problems, overall it was an EXCELLENT cruise…The ship was fantastic, the service excellent, the itinerary was about as good as could be found, the ports varied from the big cities of Rome and Athens and Barcelona, to the small islands and remote ports like Corfu, Santorini and Dubrovnik…We went from the truly ancient sites of Athens and Pompei, to the Medeival in Dubrovnik and San Gimigniano and Eze to the modern of Monte Carlo and Gaudi’s Barcelona…We visited different cultures, heard different languages, ate different foods…saw great art and architecture…and did it all from a great modern ship with traditional service and values… If you are even slightly considering doing the Mediterranean by cruise ship, I wholeheartedly endorse the Millennium…I wish we had another two weeks… Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
Celebrity Millennium Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 3.5 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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