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20 Celebrity Millennium Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We have just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Millennium starting in Barcelona and visiting Villefranche for Nice and Monte Carlo, Livorno for Florence,Pisa or Pompeii, Civitavecchia for Rome (two days), Naples for Capri and ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful cruise on the Millennium starting in Barcelona and visiting Villefranche for Nice and Monte Carlo, Livorno for Florence,Pisa or Pompeii, Civitavecchia for Rome (two days), Naples for Capri and Sorrento, Athens, Istanbul (two days), Mykonos and Santorini, before reaching Venice. Living in the middle of London we had a taxi to Victoria station before catching the Gatwick Express to the airport. Then it was just a very quick flight to Barcelona and immediate embarkation - all as smooth as clockwork. We found our stateroom (7066), and the whole ship, to be immaculate. We had read before we cruised that the ship is looking tired. I looked very carefully and truly, the only signs I could see of any aging were that some of the chair coverings in the cafe on deck 10 were worn. Apart from that, everything sparkles and gleams. The weather everywhere until Athens was cool (jacket required) but sunny. From Athens onwards things warmed up and Mykonos and Santorini were tee shirt and shorts weather. We did experience a force 8 gale when approaching Istanbul in the Dardanelles and although the sound of the wind on our balcony doors was terrible, the ship hardly moved. Maybe some of you saw that a number of cargo ships were wrecked in the Black Sea at this time. Millennium, of course, never went through to the Black Sea but we were on the brink in Istanbul. We had a fabulous time and only took the X two day tour in Istanbul - excellent value and spread nicely over the two days - afternoon the first day and then from 9.30am - 4pm on the second day. It was a wonderful way to see an awful lot in comfort. The Topkapi Palace, Agia Sofia and the Blue Mosque were the outstanding features. In Villefranche we walked to Nice! We were out for a walk along the coast road, spotted a fort on a hill and climbed towards it. We missed it but enjoyed a beautiful walk and then spotted a beautiful bay below and discovered that it was Nice, so walked there. Only took about 1.5hrs. We caught a bus back. A mere euro or two and for that you could travel a very long way. In Livorno, we just walked around the town and found it to have a really good, interesting market and canals absolutely full of small boats. We did head off to Rome on the local train - easy journey of about an hour and a bit. Alighted at St Peter's station and walked just a very short distance to St Peter's Square, which was fabulous - no queues at this time of year so had a good look round St Peter's and climbed to the very highest cupola - not for the faint hearted. You can go to the first cupola by stairs or lift but the highest cupola can only be reached by steep stairs which become smaller with no handrails and sloping walls. There weren't any signs explaining this, and it was impossible to retreat so do be aware. We walked on through Rome to the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. We had a fantastic day and have vowed to return to Rome. In Naples we went on the ferry, which is right next to where the ship docks,to Capri. A ride of about 40 minutes. You then need to take either the cable car or a bus up to Capri town, on top of the hill. It was so cold, though sunny. Lots of top designer shops, if you like shopping. As my husband is half Greek we visited family in Athens. Istanbul I have already mentioned above. Mykonos were two places to wind down a little -sunshine, slower pace etc. We have been to Venice before and love it but this time just went straight to the airport for the flight home. The Ship For all those who have heard that Millennium is looking shabby, I was delighted to find that it was not at all the case. Our stateroom had new carpets, curtains, bedding and nothing appeared to be showing much wear. The bathroom had no mould (as others have found). If I had to find anything it was that the net curtains had been trapped in the balcony door at some time and they could be replaced. All the furniture was good. The public areas were in good shape. The spa and thelassotherapy pools were our favorite areas. Ideal for winter holidays when outdoor pools are pretty useless. The food was all very good - not as good as many years ago (1996 on the Horizon) but nothing to complain about and a lot to praise. My only little gripe was that one meat dish and the lobster were too salty, but that might be just a personal preference. We didn't eat at the special Olympic restaurant - tried it on the Summit and for the price difference wasn't worth it. Nice to do it once though. Entertainment all day and evening long - very varied and something for everyone. Not just the usual production singers and dancers, who were very talented, but a super Adage duo - incredible aerial act, opera lecturers/performer, classical piano concerts, comedy/magician, dance classes, quizzes etc. There was a great mix of people on the ship. We were in a definite minority as Brits, and our dining table comprised Americans, Australian, Austrian too. Made for some good conversations. There was quite a Spanish contingency too. It is what a European cruise is all about. We returned home thoroughly relaxed, having enjoyed another great time with Celebrity and today have booked to sail on Constellation to the Baltics next May. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
My sister and I sailed on Millennium on 11/4 through 11/18 and had a fantastic time. I might add this was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. Our embarkation was easy and swift, our luggage arrived within a few hours and our cabin, ... Read More
My sister and I sailed on Millennium on 11/4 through 11/18 and had a fantastic time. I might add this was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. Our embarkation was easy and swift, our luggage arrived within a few hours and our cabin, although small, was suitable for our port intensive trip. All our information was gathered before our leaving so we were able to relax after a 25-hour journey with little sleep. We had a virtual tour of the ship online and had booked our shore excursions long before the trip. I might add that the ship-sponsored excursions were inconsistent to say the least, some were exceptional and others were...well, perhaps herding cattle would describe it best. Some guides were great, others went through the motions of getting us from A to B without loosing anyone. Some were very informative and others seemed to be reading their descriptions of things. This, I would say, was my biggest complaint and it really doesn't amount to much since we booked ½ of our tours (on my sisters advice) by private guides.The ports of call were absolutely amazing,Rome,Istanbul,Athens....wow! On the ship I found some activity to do almost every moment I wished to. Everything from BINGO to Texas Hold 'Em, with art shows and auctions in between. If you wanted activities you just had to look at the daily newsletter to find one. The shows were fun and shopping was great, I found some unique things to bring back along with my port purchases. The staff was friendly and polite and Elton and Kumar were outstanding as our steward and waiter respectively. The food was very good we dined in the Metropolitan every night but two, I was even offered a tour of the galley which, having been a cook years ago, I really enjoyed. I'm hooked, I've been home one week and I'm looking forward to my next cruise. Thanks Millennium, I'll be back Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We left Florida one day prior to the cruise since the ship was spending an overnight in Venice and I felt sure we would not miss it. We checked our bags in Orlando and they went through to Venice with no problems. I heard stories of ... Read More
We left Florida one day prior to the cruise since the ship was spending an overnight in Venice and I felt sure we would not miss it. We checked our bags in Orlando and they went through to Venice with no problems. I heard stories of luggage getting lost on flights to Italy but we were lucky it went without a glitch. It was cold and rainy in Venice and we didn't go out the first day. We were tired and slept a bit when we got on the ship. We booked a Royal Suite (6138) and it was more then enough for 2 people for 28 days. The separate bedroom is nice for privacy and for one of us wanting to stay up late watching TV. We had Alex for our Butler and he was excellent. We have had him before and enjoy his service and personality. A number of crew members that we know were on this cruise which made it more like home with the familiar faces. Ziggy was the Hotel Director, Captain Karatzas was the Master, Ally the F&B Manager, Zafer the Assistant Maitre d, Milivoy the Restaurant Manager, Lisa Gallant the Cruise Director (and is she great), Katy the Front Office mgr or Purser and Regina the CC Hostess. The cruise started off on a negative note. I booked the RS a year in advance and paid the going rate at the time and gave my $900 deposit. Three weeks before the cruise Celebrity had a Exciting Deals Offer on the internet and the six remaining RS were offered at $4,000 less than what I paid. I called my TA, Celebrity and they said NO way they will refund me anything because of the lower prices on the "Happy Hour" special. I was miffed to say the least that they didn't even offer me any compensation. I did voice my dissatisfaction onboard but they could do nothing for me. I am a good customer with many cruises under my belt in nice suites but still talked to deaf ears. Seems unfair to have Happy Hours or Exciting Deal specials and punish the folks that paid and reserved in advance. I am thinking hard about changing cruise lines if that's how they treat well established customers. Once on the ship and the politics aside it was as great as ever dealing with everyone and the customer service provided by everyone. The staff is excellent and do a great job of pleasing the guests. We met our ship friends on the first day and caught up on our lives. The ports of call were great, we enjoyed this port intensive cruise and took tours in each city. We took the Celebrity Tours and felt they were of good value. I cant take more than a four hour tour so we booked half day tours in most ports. The food in the Metropolitan was excellent. We had dinner there every night except for the three nights spent in the Olympic Restaurant which was as fabulous as always. The staff at the Olympic was great and the service is impeccable. This is the first port intensive cruise we have been on and the dining room is closed at lunch time so that left the buffet everyday. I don't do buffets normally and was not happy to eat there. The food there just did not do it for me and I normally do not complain about food. I got used to doing the Transatlantic cruises where the dining room was open most of the time for lunch but this was different on the first leg. This is the first time in 20 + Celebrity Cruises that I had disdain for the food. We just took a Princess Cruise in Sept and the buffets looked magnificent and appetizing. I cant say the same here. Also at night during the second leg, the TA, everything food related closed down at 11 pm which I didn't like. Normally the pizza place was opened to 12 midnight and the salad and pasta bar until 1 am. I am not sure why they both closed at 11 pm sharp, maybe for budgetary reasons. The room stewart Salomae was great and Alex and his staff of Butlers are the best, Nelson, Savio and Santoso. I had fun with the butlers for 28 days, great personalities and they couldn't do enough to please. Captain Karaztas and I are friends and we spent a lot of time together since I didn't see him in March. He was a gracious host and we enjoyed the time with him at the lunches and dinners. In Athens at the terminal when I was on the internet in the Wi Fi area, I saw Author Joyce Adamidis walk by and we seemed to know each other immediately and spoke for about 30 minutes which was fun. If you are reading this Joyce how about emailing me your address!! Thanks.. Great meeting you. Venice was as beautiful as ever. I didn't feel as comfortable in Dubrovnik as in other places. I felt some resentment from them being American. I wasn't the only one who felt like that. Athens was great Kusadasi and Ephesus were the best places we visited. They love Americans and are very respectful toward us. The transatlantic portion of the cruise went by so fast. It was a very relaxing time for us and we didn't do much. The canary islands were fun to visit, all the same but still nice. The shopping on this cruise was great and we bought a bunch of clothes and a few pieces of jewelry. The cruise was great and we did have a good time. Will I frequent Celebrity as much as I normally do? No. I didn't appreciate the sticking I got when they posted the Happy Hour (Exciting Deals) on the web lowering my cabin category by $4,000 and not offering a dime off my suite. A letter to Dan Hanrahan was a waste of time. For some pictures of this cruise cut and paste my weblink http://good-times.webshots.com/album/562323891hWjSkM Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
My parents and I just got back from a 12-day Mediterranean cruise on the Celebrity Millennium and had an incredible experience that far exceeded our expectations. We flew in the day of the cruise (Continental Newark to Milan and Alitalia ... Read More
My parents and I just got back from a 12-day Mediterranean cruise on the Celebrity Millennium and had an incredible experience that far exceeded our expectations. We flew in the day of the cruise (Continental Newark to Milan and Alitalia Milan to Venice) and went straight to the ship. Or at least tried to. When we boarded the plane in Milan we saw the cart with our three bags (and dozens of others) pull up to plane and then back up and swing around the other side. We just figured that the bags would be loaded on the other side. No such luck. After waiting at the (chaotic) carousel in Venice for an hour, we realized our bags just hadn't made it. None of them. We headed over to the lost luggage line and stood behind about 50 other passengers. Apparently lost luggage is the norm at the Venice airport, which the concierge on the ship later confirmed. Sixty people on our cruise sailed away without bags. We spent about two hours filing a report, etc. and then headed to the ship by taxi. (You don't need a water taxi, just a 15-minute trip and it is cheaper than the Celebrity shuttle.) When our bags didn't arrive the following morning, we panicked a little and headed to the airport to see if we could try one last attempt to locate our bags. It was a hopeless cause and we missed our day in Venice. Though almost 100 bags from our flight were missing they couldn't seem to locate ANY of them. So we headed back to the ship and waived goodbye to Venice and our luggage at sail away. We were finally reunited with our bags six days later in Athens. Morals of the story: take a direct flight if you can (Venice is apparently notorious for losing luggage), pack as many necessities as you can on your carry-on, and take a photo of your luggage on your phone or digital camera before you leave, so if it is lost, you can show it to the lost-luggage folks. The rest of our trip was outstanding: CABINS: We stayed in a family oceanview room and it was wonderful. My "room" had two pull-out sofas, its own tv, dressers, etc. and a sliding partition to separate the bedroom from my room/living room. The balcony was enormous. They say it is almost 250 sq feet and I believe it. We easily had room for our three lounge chairs and table with chairs where we ate breakfast every morning, etc. The room was in decent shape. Could've used a little updating but overall we were very pleased. Also the shower (while still tiny) seemed to be bigger than ones I have seen on other ships. If you are traveling with 3+ people as a family, I highly recommend the family suite. It was definitely worth the extra money and we all kept our sanity. SHIP: I LOVE this ship. By far my favorite of the ones I have been on (Celebrity Zenith, Carnival Victory, Caribbean Princess). It is really elegant and understated. Nice dEcor and I thought very easy to navigate. I don't think I ever got "lost" as I have on other ships. It is laid out very well. The public rooms were beautiful. The Cosmos lounge on the top deck, forward is a wonderful place to watch sail aways, sunsets, etc. The dining room is far superior to others I have been in. We scored a table by the window and it was so nice to look out at the ocean during dinner. The back of the dining room is one giant window. The spa was wonderful. I did the Persian Garden option, which I think was $99 for the whole cruise. You have access to three different steam rooms/saunas, the hot stone loungers, aromatherapy showers, etc. It is almost identical to its counterpart on the Princess except not crowded. I was usually in there alone, if not with only one other person. It was very nice. The gym is nice too. Nothing better nor worse than the average ship gym. ACTIVITIES: As with my other Celebrity cruise, I really enjoyed the activities. They had a wonderful opera lecture series. I don't even particularly like opera but was captivated by the enthusiasm of the singer/lecturer and ended up attending all three lectures. Also went to a couple of the art lectures, which were fair. Went to Bingo and several rounds of trivia too. I also like that there were very few announcements on this cruise. ENTERTAINMENT: I went to a few shows and thought they were very good overall. Most of the people they brought in from the outside for one night were excellent, particularly the violinist. I also heard the pianist was outstanding. I think Celebrity makes a real effort with the entertainment. I have been to some shows on cruises that I couldn't believe they even allowed. DINING: I thought the food in the dining room was, for the most part, excellent. There were a few dishes that were average but overall I was very pleased and I still think Celebrity has the best food of any cruise line I have been on. Lunch at the Ocean Cafe was average and breakfast was below average. I don't think I had one decent breakfast on the trip. I ended up just sticking to bagels and yogurt—hard to mess that up. One hidden gem was the Aqua Spa Cafe. Great setting by the hydrotherapy pool and really delicious food, wonderful salmon, pita sandwiches, smoothies, etc. One night my family and I ordered the dining room menu to our room and ate on the balcony—how wonderful! And do not miss the Olympic. Far above and beyond Sabatini's on Princess. Worth every penny times ten. FRIENDS: One of the best parts of the trip was the new friends we made, mostly through CC. Don't hesitate to sign onto the boards and make your presence known! We hooked up with several different couples/families for private tours, met for meals, and enjoyed the cruise critic party hosted by Celebrity. This was the most special part of the trip—walking through the halls and running into familiar, friendly faces. SERVICE: This was another highlight. Everywhere we went, the crew greeted us with friendly hellos. We had the most wonderful waiter—Kristijan from Croatia was a gem. One of the ladies who worked in the shops even gave me a pair of her own (new) socks when I lost my luggage! Literally the only person on the ship who I was disappointed in was the Captain's Club representative. You would think this would be the most service-oriented person on the ship, but we found her condescending and unhelpful. Otherwise, service is really where Celebrity shines. Every person I dealt with on the ship—bar waiter to guest service crew remembered me and what I ordered and even remembered my name. The champagne upon boarding and the cold towels when coming back to the ship each port day were great plusses. PORTS: Venice: We spent most of the two days in Venice at the airport trying to track down our luggage but the gondola ride we did was wonderful. Well worth the (ridiculous) price. Dubrovnik: What a wonderful surprise! I had heard from many people how charming and beautiful it is, but I still wasn't prepared. We had perfect weather (as we did literally every single day of the trip) so the views went on forever. Of course, walking the wall is a must. Every picture I took was more beautiful than the one before it. Do a little research on restaurants. We randomly chose a terrible one. Santorini: My favorite port, though part of that is probably because we had the most time there. It was so nice to be there through the evening. I wish we were able to stay longer at some of the other ports. We did the Santorini in One Day tour with Kamari Tours (kamaritours.gr) and it was the best bargain of the trip—35 euros per person for a nine- hour tour (not private). We adored our guide, Tania. The two highlights were climbing the volcano—a bit of a challenge but well worth it—and the spectacular town of Oia. Do not miss Oia. A lot of people on our ship just stayed in the town of Fira where the ship docks because they figured all towns looked the same. They do not. Oia is a must-see—my most incredible photos of the trip. Also, try the local Vinsanto dessert wine. Delicious! Athens: Our guide, Nikos, made this port for us. Another incredible bargain. I think we paid around 60 euro per person (there were nine of us) for a private guided tour with Nikos and a driver. They picked us up and dropped us off at the ship and we took a city driving tour, an in-depth tour of the Acropolis, shopped on the Plaka and had a wonderful local lunch with Nikos. Nikos does not use email but his fax number is: . If you are looking to get the most out of your day, I very highly recommend him. Naples: We took another private tour, this time with Benevenuto Tours. I was happy with this company though the driver/guide was really more of a driver than a guide. I preferred it when the guides ate lunch with us and narrated most of the drive, etc. We did have an excellent tour guide inside of Pompeii, set up through Benevenuto. I think Pompeii is a must see. We also did a driving tour of the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and Sorrento. This is my second time in this area and both times I was underwhelmed for some reason. I think I must be the only person in the world that feels this way though. Next time I would do Pompeii (and/or Herculaneum) and Capri (which people raved about) and skip the Amalfi Coast. Rome: My family seemed to be the only people on the cruise that had a perfect day in Rome. There was a big parade, etc. that day because of a national holiday and it sounded like none of the other guides/shore excursions really worked around it. Most people missed at least one thing they really wanted to see. Our guide, Carlo, zipped us around that city like the pro that he is. We saw literally everything and more that we wanted to see in Rome in about six hours, plus had an amazing lunch with Carlo. We waited in one line (for about 10 minutes at the Coliseum) the entire day. Carlo had it timed perfectly for when the lines are minimal. We started at St Peters (zero line) first thing and waved at the three-hour (!) line for the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel, then to the Pantheon, Coliseum, Catacombs (incredible!), Forum, and back to the Sistine Chapel at 3:00—zero line. We did a short tour through the museums before ending at the Sistine Chapel. Don't miss it. Do whatever you can to make it there. Some people were disappointed but I think it is up there with the Grand Canyon as one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. I cannot say enough about our guide. It was pricey but after hearing the horror stories of everyone else on board, I think we would've paid twice as much. You can find him at romeguide.net. Livorno: We chose to spend our day in Cinque Terre, about an hour drive from the port (but at least twice as long back!). I had been there before and though it is spectacular, it really is a place that is best if you have several days (though I guess all the ports are that way). You really get the most out of the scenery if you have the time to hike between each town and laze around in the different towns at a slow pace. Our tour was a whirlwind, though the boats from town-to-town ran very much on time and we were able to see all but one village. It is a gorgeous place. The tourists have definitely discovered it though! I was there three years ago in the shoulder season and felt like I had it all to myself. This time it was very crowded. Though definitely worth the trip. If you have been to Florence/Tuscany or are looking for incredible vistas, I definitely recommend Cinque Terre. Villefranche: This was one of our favorite ports (well, weren't they all?). We were pleased with our tour by Travels with Friends, again more of a driver than a guide though. We spent about half the day in Monaco and the rest touring Nice and Eze. Eze is a very charming town but seems a little Disney Land-ish for me. Kinda fake and overrun with tourists. Still worth a visit though, especially if there is no time to visit a more remote French provincial village. We found a wonderful little spot on the beach in Nice to sit in some shade and eat ice cream. We may have missed some of Nice, but it was nice to stop and smell the roses. Barcelona: Probably our least favorite spot, but I am convinced that it was because we didn't have guides or the ship to go home to every night and had to fend for ourselves. I would not recommend our hotel—Hotel Ambassador—it was a good location but the service was not good, the walls were paper thin, and it was dark and depressing. We found the food in Barcelona to be overrated as well. I would say do some research instead of just dropping in places like we did. We had a wonderful meal and saw a great flamenco show at Tablao de Carmen in the Poble Espanol. Well worth the money. http://www.tablaodecarmen.com/ang/inf.htm Also the Gaudi stuff is just unbelievable. The Sagrada Familia far exceeded my expectations. Do not miss it. My family called this a trip of a lifetime. Splurging on things like private guides and a lovely ship like the Millennium made all the difference. I usually would try not to sail the same ship twice, but I am already booking an Alaska trip on the Millennium next summer. Sorry for the long review—I hope you find some of it helpful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Overall cruise was fantastic and would repeat in a minute. Ship and its crew were great. As with many ships the public areas get worn and could use more frequent updating. I usually don't let this get to me. Embarkation in Venice ... Read More
Overall cruise was fantastic and would repeat in a minute. Ship and its crew were great. As with many ships the public areas get worn and could use more frequent updating. I usually don't let this get to me. Embarkation in Venice was smooth and disembarkation in Barcelona was amazingly efficient. We were told to expect 30 to 45 minutes to disembark but found ourselves on the curb 15 minutes after being dismissed (which was right to the minute of when scheduled). With exchange rate hedging the ships excursions seemed to consistently be overpriced. We elected to do all our own arrangements for some substantial savings. The entertainment was of high quality but seemed to lean to much toward an opera based crowd. Heard Phantom of the Opera three times in one cruise which was a bit much. Including an opera singer from Australia who was quite self impressed and spent more time talking than singing. Since he consistently was off key from the band I guess less was better. The dancers and aerobatic group were astonishing considering this was said to be their first chance to perform as a group. Food was well prepared and presented. I know of some who wanted (or expected) more gourmet selections based on Celebrity's reputation but for me it was done well. I have had some gourmet which goes over the top and when you get you selection it neither looks nor tastes like you would expect when you selected it. Maybe a dish or two of such would be a trade off to please both sides. The cruise director Derrick was from Canada and was one of the better I had seen in our 12 cruises. Was upbeat and visible. I as well like the fact Celebrity does not go overboard on announcements compared to some other lines. I go to relax and not be constantly trying to talk over background chatter about art auctions and bingo. If I want to know what to do or where to go the daily planner has all I need to know. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This cruise was marvelous and we loved every minute of it. We arranged our airfare ourselves and arrived in Venice a day early. Well worth the extra time in Venice. Beautiful though we we disappointed in the graffiti all over the city. We ... Read More
This cruise was marvelous and we loved every minute of it. We arranged our airfare ourselves and arrived in Venice a day early. Well worth the extra time in Venice. Beautiful though we we disappointed in the graffiti all over the city. We took a water taxi to the ship with another couple and that made it so easy. Celebrity greeted us at the water taxi station and took our luggage while we walked over to the ship. It took less than 5 min to get our keys and then we were on the ship. We were not Con. class but were greeted with a glass of champagne and escorted to our cabin. That set the stage for a wonderful cruise. Our luggage arrived about 2 hrs later. All ports of calls were fantastic though I found Athens nothing more than a very big city with amazing ruins. Santorini is something we hope to go back to along with the Sorrento coast of Italy. VilleFranche was such a quaint little town we never left it to go to Monaco, but then we had visited there a few years back. We loved the ship, the crew, the food, and the service. We were made to feel special the entire cruise. Everyone had a smile on their face and it amazed me how the crew remembered me and my wants. For ex I only had to ask for diet soda once at dinner and every night when I came down,there were 2 diet sodas waiting for me. We found the food exceptional. Everything just as our waiter described, food cooked to our desires and great company. I thought the entertainment was great, but by husband did not enjoy it as much and felt it was less than professional (dancers). I loved the comedian, but he didn't but overall we were not disappointed. In fact, we love the service and Celebrity so much, we booked another cruise with them for Feb of 08, before we left the ship. This was a cruise of a lifetime for us and we had high expectations. CELEBRITY DELIVERED!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
SHIP REVIEW Arrived in Barcelona 3 days early. Well worth the days. Toured using the Bus Turista to get a taste of Barcelona, which was great! Stayed at the 5 star Majestic Hotel on Paseo de Gracia (just like 5th ave in NY) fantastic! ... Read More
SHIP REVIEW Arrived in Barcelona 3 days early. Well worth the days. Toured using the Bus Turista to get a taste of Barcelona, which was great! Stayed at the 5 star Majestic Hotel on Paseo de Gracia (just like 5th ave in NY) fantastic! Embarkation: arrived at 12:00pm by taxi from hotel (10 minute drive)to no lines and no waiting. Since we are Captains Club are check in was separate but still a perfect time to arrive for anyone. Boarded our first Celebrity cruise (more than 10 with Royal Caribbean) minutes later. Cabin: #6049 with Balcony is a adjoining cabin which we specifically requested NOT to have but got it and was not able to be switched since the ship was sold out. Do not stay in one unless you want to hear all that goes on in the next cabin. The balcony door was broken so we heard the ocean in our cabin everyday and the curtain was also falling down. We complained several times but the balcony door was never right/quiet nor was the curtain fixed. The bathroom tile was cracked and stained; however, the cabin attendant was exceptional. Dining/Food: We had dinner in the dining room each night except the 1 night we dined at the Olympic (specialty dining) where there was a $30 PP extra charge for this experience. The food was very good and service excellent. You could easily dine for 2 1/2 + hours but we asked to finish within 2 hours since we wanted to continue the evening at a show or casino. The regular dining room food was fair to good and the service excellent. The dinner choices were somewhat limited. We had a table for 8 and one of the couples was on cruisecritic.com and were from Scotland, the other 2 couples were both from England. Entertainment: The shows that I attended were very enjoyable and the individual entertainers very talented. The Celebrity singers and dancers were great and really put on great shows. The port days were long and active so many people didn't attend the late shows but the ship had several predinner shows. Activities: were plentiful to take advantage of and participate. From pool games, to art auction to on board shopping to bingo etc.. Sports activities were also well attended. From basketball which my husband played frequently to golf lessons with Dale the golf pro which my husband raved about and was incredible. Golfing at the Belfry in Scotland with a dining room tablemate at the simulator was splendid. Services: I enjoyed the well equipped workout area and machines at the AquaSpa but was disappointed that several machines were broken the entire trip. I also used a spa service which was good but unhappy being provided with 2 stained and old robes to use. The internet and computer dept was wonderful with helpful assistance and direction. The DSL speed was more than adequate to e-mail and wireless areas abundant. SHORE EXCURSIONS Shore Excursions: This trip really focused on the ports and experiencing a side of the world that is so rich in history and beauty. My husband and I are very active and in our mid 40's. We were not interested in excursions with a bus load of people and having to wait for everyone and go by a schedule. We found several recommended private tours through cruisecritic.com members and booked them. Compared to the ships rate for the same excursions, we opted to go private and so happy we did for all except 3 tours. All of the private tours included all of the ship's recommended sites plus the ability to stop and photograph, shop and eat that we requested. VERY IMPORTANT Nice(Villefranche)for our 1st port Frederick from dream-tours.com toured us through the French Riviera and was wonderful and HIGHLY Recommended. Filled with knowledge and details of all the sites we had a terrific day that included Eze Village, Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St Paul. Another couple (honeymooners from Canada) joined us and we hit it off so well we invited them on all the other tours we booked. They joined us on 3 others.. Florence/Pisa (Livorno, Italy) we used limoinrome.com and our driver Paulo who explained all the sites including the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and took us to a castle and winery in the Tuscan countryside which was breathtaking. Also HIGHLY Recommended. Florence is a great mecca of shopping and we definitely contributed to Florence's economy. Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy) Vincent was our driver this time through limoinrome.com. We visited every major site and then some. He provided us with explanation and pictures before we toured the site and timed the stops so fantastic that we didn't wait in line for ANY venues. Naples/Capri Our driver from sorrentolimo.com was nice but very disappointing with virtual no communication (he did speak English)or explanation of the sites. We drove the Almalfi Coast and visited Sorrento, Positano and Pompei which is highly recommended..just better with a good driver. These locations are beautiful and breathtaking and a definite MUST. Santorini is a place we want to return to thanks also to Nikos and Anna at santorinitours.com. HIGHLY Recommended. Nikos toured us all over and explained the history and sites. He also is a professional photographer and took pictures of us with his camera throughout the day and provided us a CD of those pictures. This island is absolutely beautiful and fortunate to experience a sunset that compares to no others. We visited the main village of Oai (shopping and picture taking), Fira and the black and red beaches. Our best meal of all the ports was a local favorite, with the best Greek food. Athens tour was provided by Mikis at athenstaxi.net, who was thorough and extremely knowledgeable and HIGHLY recommended. A few other families from the ship (including the Gilbert family we met from cruisecritic.com) used this company and we all had a wonderful time throughout the day meeting up at several sites and all had lunch together at a seaside cafe with excellent food and reasonable prices. Dubrovnik was a ship excursion because we didn't find a recommendation of a private company. I know why now, because one is not needed. This is a port you can do on your own. Walking the walls of the city is the highlight which you can purchase a ticket and walk the walk. It is fascinating and enjoyed the site. Venice day 1 we purchased a water taxi transfer from the ship to St. Marc's Square..the only way to get into the heart of Venice unless you purchase a tour. We did it on our own with the Gilbert family and toured Venice through public water taxis. This is so amazing compared to city bus services..water is the way to go. We purchased a all day water taxi pass that you can use to Murano and Burano and throughout the city. We did purchase a gondola ride through the ship which was quite enjoyable for 45 minutes but again we could have purchased one on our own cheaper. The gondolas held 4-6 people and we were joined by another couple from California that even though it was the last full day of the cruise, became friendly and exchanged e-mail, phone etc. Venice last day and disembarkation included a ship's 4 hour excursion to Padua and airport transfer, all included in price. Our flight was 5:00pm and wanted to have part of the day touring. The ship wouldn't store luggage and we didn't know the airport would store it so we took this tour. This was one we should have planned better to spend more time in Venice. Venice airport is 15 minutes from the port. Either way, it was the most organized and smoothest disembarkation ever to get our luggage and go to the bus. OVERALL EXPERIENCE Overall we expected a step or two above Royal Caribbean and for the most part it was true. The ship is 6 years old and showing its age in many places; however, still classy and laid out well. A refurbishment and "makeover" will be well worth it. The experience was fabulous and the friends we made will be lasting. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Our Cruise on the Millennium July 1st was our 15th cruise and our first in Europe. I have taken my original board review and out it into categories, rather than a diary form to make it easier to read. Off We Go: Continental Airlines from ... Read More
Our Cruise on the Millennium July 1st was our 15th cruise and our first in Europe. I have taken my original board review and out it into categories, rather than a diary form to make it easier to read. Off We Go: Continental Airlines from Newark,NJ. In one word our flight was a nightmare, and it seemed as though we would never arrive in Barcelona. We finally did arrive in Barcelona, and waited a bit for our luggage, met the representative from Celebrity and put on the bus rather quickly. Unfortunately it was quite a bit later that we actually started moving, because we had to fill up our bus. Embarkation: It took us literally 5 minutes. We got on the express pass line(there was no line) and we were on the ship 5 minutes later. Just as we boarded we heard an announcement that passengers could now get into their rooms. We were greeted with Champagne and cookies but did not receive an escort to our room. The Cabin: Cabin 8112. I had been in a similar cabin in April so I knew exactly what to expect. What we didn't expect and were really not pleased about was the mold in the bathroom. The mold was in the shower and the bathroom walls. The other unexpected surprise was that our toilet did not work. We did not get a resolution to the toilet problem for almost 4 hours. The mold was never resolved, despite repeated requests. There is ample space for clothes although you might need to get a little creative with some of the space. We had 4 suitcases and were able to get two under the bed. Room Attendant: Not the best we have ever had, and not the worst. I did not feel as though he wanted to go above and beyond, although his assistant did. Other staff members put themselves out, this person seemed to only do what he needed to, no more no less. Dining room: Table 505: We had a wonderful experience in the dining room. our waiter and busboy anticipated our every need. I had explained to Sanjaya our waiter the first night that I had terrible food allergies, and he made sure that everything I had was safe for me to eat. The only thing we noticed which was not really a problem for us, was that our food was never hot. The food overall was excellent. There were a few nights were my allergies prevented me from eating anything on the existing menu, and our waiter, went out of his way to help me with alternatives. Breakfast and Lunch: We never ate in the dining room, but ate up on deck 10. I liked the hamburger grill, sandwich/wrap station, and spa cuisine. The buffets were not that great, but the individual stations were wonderful. Gourmet Bites: Since we never got out of the dining room until 11pm..we couldn't even try them, but they looked really good. Cova Cafe: Loved the frozen coffee drinks..Never tried the pastry cart. Drinks: Soda for me, my husbands drinks in the dining room were made well. Shows: The shows were good. The big production shows were the same as they were in April, and I thought the previous group was better than this one. Sometimes the shows were hard to attend when they had a pre-show for late seating passengers. Many of the tours were 10.5 hours long, and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the ship. pre-shows also did not get attended well in general. We felt badly for one excellent performer who only had about 40 people attend his show. Activities on the ship: We attended art lectures by Justin Newell, the art historian on board. He was excellent. I learned so much useful information to take with me on my tour the following day. We also attended port/shopping talks which were informative. Slot machines which were pretty friendly. We did not do any of the Captains Club activities, because they always seemed to be opposite something else we wanted to do. Spa: I had a full body healing massage, and then a scalp massage. Both massages were very relaxing. The first massage I was not pressured into buying products, the second one just a little. I was a little disappointed because I had requested the same person the 2nd time, and wasn't told until I was there that she was off. I didn't find the reception staff in the spa very friendly. Other staff: We found the rest of this ship's staff to be exceptionally friendly and helpful. The Guest Relations desk went out of their way to help us with a few problems that had come up. Tours: Outstanding with the exception of one tour. The tour guides were incredible, knowledgeable, personable, fun. We opted to do all the ships tours this time, and we don't regret it. There were several extraneous factors which could have ruined a tour if we had done it on our own, and with the ship's tours we knew we were safe. Villefranche: Tenders: Our first port and what a picturesque port. Our tour was at 1:30pm. Monte Carlo and the Grand Casino. Great tour guide. Won on the good old Red white and Blue machine. Florence Italy: Note: If you want any real shopping time on these tours you need to take "A Taste OF" tours which leaves you plenty of time to shop. We had 45 minutes on our tour, which was okay since we knew what we wanted, but we had to scramble. Florence is breathtaking. You need much more than a day to see everything. The Baptistery doors(Go to the art historian's lectures) we felt so smart understanding ahead of time what panel signifies what and how to read the panels. Lunch was included and was a typical Italian Lunch. Rome: Several things have come into play with this port. There was a wildcat taxi strike in Rome which was playing havoc with traffic. The Pope was giving his last speech of the summer, and the usual crowds were doubled because of these 2 events. Our guide was absolutely fantastic. She figured out how we could still do everything we were supposed to, despite the obstacles..So we saw the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel. We could not get to St. Peter's Basilica, so we went to the Roman Coliseum, then had lunch and finally went back to the Basilica. The re-arranged schedule worked perfectly! Naples: This was the port we decided to do the Exclusive tour. This was the most fantastic tour we have been on, on any of our cruises. There are no words to describe how wonderful our tour guide, bus mates, driver were. The Amalfi Coast is breathtaking. If you have motion sickness beware its twisty and turny, but oh so worth it. Positano and Sorrento are not to be missed. Pompeii was great and we were lucky that the heat was not what was expected. What history! Santorini:Tender: Choppy water! The only bad tour. We went on a wine tasting tour where we were promised old fashioned grape stomping, but where we were taken was a modern factory. Our guide seemed almost bored and really did little to make the tour interesting. There was a tour escort on our tour that told us she was going to let Celebrity know how disappointing this tour was. We decided to meet some friends in Fira where our tour left us, for dinner at the Sphinx. Its a beautiful cliff side place where you can drink and eat and watch an incredible sunset. $$$$$ As we got ready to leave Santorini a yacht nearby gave us a fireworks display which was a nice surprise. The fireworks lasted for about 10 minutes and just filled the sky with color. Note** It was windy and chilly when the sun went down in Santorini. Athens: Pouring down rain at the Acropolis: We had 3 hours to shop at the Plaka. Guide was very good, very informative. Bought a tapestry, lots of shops, high pressure, especially the food places. Note* Don't eat in outdoor cafe called Sikiness. Croatia: Hot hard to breathe there.. Shuttle bus (No tour today) $10.00. No air on the bus.. Walled City overcrowded and hot. Too much for us we went back and spent the afternoon at the pool. Venice: Arrival 11am Entrance into the Grand Canal is beautiful. Masterpieces of Venice tour..EXCELLENT! Evening Gondola ride..disappointing..4 people to a Gondola, so you end up with people you don't know...next time we will go alone. Debarkation: smoother than smooth.. Venice airport: We were there by 8:20 and our flight to Milan wasn't until 12:20pm...NOTE you can't check in until 2 hours before, so we had to find a place to wait with all our luggage. When we finally got to the gate...It a free for all!! Assorted observations and tips: We had bought a scale from Magellens for $7.50 to make sure our luggage was not overweight...it was a great investment...I also bought these neck cooler things that you wet in water and then you can put in the refrig..which weigh nothing and keep you cool for hours...QVC.. You want to have lots of $5 and $10 Euros for tipping on the tours etc.. If you are CC class and can't have or don't like fish they will give you cheese and crackers with some fruit.. If there is nothing on the menu that you want to eat...aside from the steak and chicken which are always available, you can also ask for pasta....If there is a pasta dish you want but something else looks even better..you can ask if you can have an appetizer size portion of the pasta... Make sure you check you mini-bar bill carefully...we were charged for things we never used... If you are a size small don't wait to buy a jacket or sweatshirt in the shops on the ship...if they have smalls they are the first to go... Cova Cafe not to be missed!! Safe in room was fine...we had no problems....there are no safety deposit boxes.. Excursions were the best and most organized we have seen...and this was our 15th cruise.. Sea days at the spa fill up almost immediately so make your reservations as soon as you board...same for the alternative dining... We bought smaller cards for our camera..so if our camera was stolen we would not lose everything....We burned them to a CD each day...and we took more than 900 pictures...once you burn them though you can't add to the same CD... We used under the clothes wallets and had no problems..My husband and another gentleman did feel someone lightly touch their back pocket...Just be careful and wise...we only carried one credit card each and enough cash for that day...we wore little to no jewelry.. Beware of the kids...and beware of gypsies with babies...they will pretend to almost drop it..and while you go to grab it...they take your wallet... we were told they are not even real babies but dolls...Just be smart and you will be fine! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
We had a wonderful cruise on the Millennium. There were 4 of us, in our 50's and 60's. This was the longest cruise any of us had ever taken. We flew Alitalia, as we had heard great things about the airline and the price was ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise on the Millennium. There were 4 of us, in our 50's and 60's. This was the longest cruise any of us had ever taken. We flew Alitalia, as we had heard great things about the airline and the price was right $800.00 from Miami to Milan, Milan to Venice and the return was Barcelona to Milan, Milan to Miami. We booked 10 months before the cruise. Our flight times did not change and we had uneventful flights. They did get our seat assignments mixed up, but were able to fix them for us at the airport. We were there the required 2 hours ahead. No problems at all. We were somewhat disappointed with the airline, as the seats were very close for an international flight and the attendants were not very friendly. The food was better than I have experienced with Delta etc, but airline food none the less. Wine was free with the meals, a nice little plus. Venice We arrived in Venice around 11am a day before we were to board the ship. I am so glad we gave ourselves that extra day. We stayed at Locanda Orseolo, a hotel we got from these boards. We booked with them 9 months before our trip and requested rooms with windows on the canal. The airport is several miles from Venice. There are several ways to get out of the airport...by boat or land. You can go by bus to the Piazza Roma, which is kinda like the entrance to Venice...were cars can no longer go. The AVTO bus (blue) is 3 euros per person, including luggage. This bus takes you to Piazza Roma. (We are told there is luggage storage at Piazza Roma, next to Pullman Bar on the ground floor @ 5euro per piece per 24hrs). If you are going directly to the ship, and have not bought their transfers, you can take a land taxi to the ship OR this bus to Piazza Roma and then a land taxi to the ship (probably cheaper but more time intensive). There is a Vaporetto stop at Piazza Roma as well, so if you are going to a hotel, you can pick up one of these...but it would be real difficult to get a lot of luggage on one of the boats, as they are usually VERY crowded. At Piazza Roma, you could also get a private water taxi to your hotel. OR you can go by boat, right from the airport dock to Piazza Roma. Remember that if you take a Vaporetto to a hotel, you will then have to drag your luggage to the hotel, across cobble stones and over bridges. If you want to go by way of the water you must first get from the airport to the airport's dock. Unfortunately, the airport dock is a bit of a walk from the baggage area of the airport, and there is no longer a free bus shuttle from the airport to the dock. They have a walkway that you can take and it's very well marked. It is all flat, cement and easy to pull your luggage along. We were told it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the dock. There you get a boat to the Piazza Roma or a private water taxi to your hotel, if it is on a canal that is accessible. Upon our arrival we used a water taxi company called Venezia Water Taxi. They were in the baggage area of the airport. They charged the 4 of us 10 euros to drive us and our luggage to the dock, and then 90 euros to take the four of us and all our luggage to the Locanda Orseolo. So the entire transfer from airport to our hotel was about 25 euros per person. It was a blast. It was about a 20 minute boat ride to the first small canal, then into the grand canal, under the Rialto Bridge and finally to a couple smaller canals to our hotel. The boat ride was a wonderful introduction to Venice...in our opinion much more fun than the gondola rides we observed. They were in groups of gondolas, with one singer on ONE of the gondola. The traffic in the canal was brutal...day and night, and not too romantic looking to us! The canals were full of boat traffic...very, very busy. We arrived at our hotel and went in thru a window, luggage and all. The hotel was wonderful, the owners treated us like family that they were so happy to have visit. They cooked a made to order breakfast for us in the morning and gave us lots of advice about the area. If you stay here, my only suggestion is to have what you need for your hotel stay in ONE suitcase. They will keep the rest for you on the first floor, as there are no elevators. I can't tell you how much we enjoyed watching the action on the street/canal from our windows. The hotel also has a front door to the street and is a very short walk, less than 5 minutes to San Marco Square. Perfect location. We had made advanced reservations for a tour of the San Marco Church for 4pm, so we had ample time to wander around the area. We walked to a restaurant that the hotel recommended, called Aqua Paza (spelling may be wrong!) I believe it was located in Campo S. Angelo, a rather large square. The food was incredible, 3 of us shared a huge fish...we got to pick it out! We ate outside, in the middle of the square and had a bottle of local wine...excellent! Cost was around 100 euros. We walked back via another way, toward the Accademia...easy to do but make sure you have a good map with you. The streets are well marked, and there are signs pointing to San Marco Square, Rialto Bridge and several other places. So you won't stay lost for too long! We were back at San Marco Square in time for our reservations to tour the cathedral. These reservations are free and well worth it. We walked right in, past a VERY long line. The church was well worth the visit. At the end there is a small bar/snack bar, right before the gift shop. We stopped there and had a glass of local wine&.excellent! Here is the web site for the free reservations. http://www.alata.it/eng/booking/sanmarco.asp After the church, we headed for Harry's bar for a Bellini. The place was packed and very small. The prices were outlandish! So we left there and had our Bellini on San Marco Square instead. We figured the price was probably the same, but at least we could people watch and enjoy the scenery. The square is very large, with tables lining both sides of the square. There is usually a live band playing music (mostly American music!!) on one side or the other. We each had a Bellini, while people watching, listening to the music, and writing post cards. Much nicer atmosphere than in Harry's bar! The guys drank the Bellini but hated it, they then ordered 2 Jack Daniels on the rocks...so our final bill for those 6 drinks was 103 euros! Just the 4 Bellini's were 73 euros! Of course, part of it was the service charge for sitting at the tables! It was around 7-8 pm by that time...and we had been up way over 24 hours. We decided that would be our dinner! We went back to the hotel and crashed. Next morning, after a huge breakfast made by the owner of Locanda Orseolo and served by his wife Barbara, we checked out of the hotel (they held our luggage for us). We headed to the Doges Palace. We had made reservations there as well, for the Secret Itinerary Tour. Our tour was for 9:30. The line was huge when we got there, but we walked past everyone to the door, told them we had reservations for the tour, and we were let right in. Went to an office on the left, where we paid 16 euros each and went in for the tour. The SI tour is very good, we loved it. Took about 1 ½ hours and we were then able to go thru the rest of Doge's Palace, the areas that are open to everyone. We enjoyed it very much. Got back to the hotel around 1 pm and took the same taxi company to the ship. This time it was 30 euros for the four of us and all our luggage, via the window again! What fun, we enjoyed our second taxi ride as much as the first. Down the Grand Canal, under the Rialto Bridge...great views and another hundred pictures! Embarkation The embarkation was simple and quick. We were taken to our rooms while sipping on our champagne. We had aft cabins on the 9th floor. They were perfect. Plenty of storage space, bed was comfortable. This was a CC cabin, so we had champagne in the room, our choice of several kinds of pillows etc. X web site has a list of the amenities of the CC cabins. We met our cabin attendants and I must say they were excellent. Most days, on arriving back on the ship, Mark would run ahead of us and have our 2 doors open for us! Little things, but it made us feel special. We were treated royally. Ice everyday, wine glasses when we needed. We never wanted for a thing. After a VERY quick look over the ship, checking on our table in the dinning room (which was perfect) and having lunch, we headed back to Venice. We were quit surprised when they asked for 8 euros each for an all day pass to use Celebrity's water shuttle to San Marco Square. It used to be free! We had little choice...so we added $16 to our ship card and off we went. The dock the X shuttle lets you off is to the right of San Marco Square. Looking to the left, when getting off the shuttle is a hotel called Daneli (or something very close to that). Take a moment to walk thru the lobby. It's just beautiful and it has free bathrooms! After getting off the shuttle, we bought a 24 hour Vaporetto pass and took one of the Vaps to the island of Murano. The Murano stop was to the right of the dock that the X shuttle uses...looking at San Marco Square. The stops are all very well marked. Just make sure you get on the Vaporetto that is heading in the right direction. We had a great afternoon. Wandered around for hours, very little crowds, beautiful scenery, bought some Murano glass and stopped at a little bar and shared a bottle of local wine...excellent! We headed back to San Marco when everything seemed to be closing on the island and avoided stopping for a drink on the square! We headed back to the ship via their shuttle, had dinner around 8:30. This first night was casual night and had open sitting. We went to the show that night, the singers and dancers are really very good. Enjoyed the music...then bed. Next morning we took the X shuttle back to San Marco Square (another $8 per person!!) and then just started walking. We wandered all over Venice, stopping at a darling little local restaurant. We all had lunch and a bottle of local wine (excellent!) for 29 euros! Everything in Venice is NOT expensive, you just need to get away from the tourist areas. After visiting the Jewish Ghetto area, we grabbed a Vaporetto, using our 24 hour pass, and went back to San Marco Square, again enjoying the ride thru the Grand Canal. We made the last shuttle to the ship! The sail away was amazing. It is a must see. Being as high as you are on the ship, it was a whole different vision. We were on our aft balcony, but we heard the rail space was very crowded. Dinner at 8:30. Informal night, most men were in sport coats or suits, with and without ties. Ladies all looked very nice. Dubrovnik Next day was Dubrovnik. A beautiful place. We tendered at this port, being dropped off at the dock right in the city. Apparently there were long waiting times to go ashore. We had priority boarding for the tenders (CC cabin) but it did not do us much good. Had a good 45 minute wait. Much complaining. But once we got there it was all forgotten. The place is so different, indescribable. If you want to climb the walls of the city, you must pay in Kuna. When you enter the city from the small port, go to the right. This will take you to their main street, where you will find some ATM's. Then walk back the way you came, as the entrance to the Wall is to the left of the port entrance, up several stairs. It's 50 Kuna per person to climb the walls. It's quite the walk! There are several, very clean bathrooms along the wall, as well as a couple different places for cold drinks and snacks. These are ON THE WALL, no need to climb back down. A stroller would be doable, but you would have to carry it up and down MANY steps. A wheelchair would be impossible. It was very hot, bring water and wear a hat. The views are lovely. You can go down halfway around if you feel that you cannot continue. I was in sandals the entire trip..I don't own a pair of sneakers or closed toed casual shoes, and I did just fine. But if you have trouble walking or lose your balance easily, good walking shoes would be a must. After we completed the wall, we stopped at a little outside cafe for a bottle of local wine...excellent! We then did some shopping and wandered around the town. Around 3pm, we decided to have lunch. Found an outside tavern down one of the little alleyways and had a great meal and a bottle of local wine (excellent) for 160,000 kunas! Gasp! Fortunately, they took euros. It was 34 euros. We then headed back to the ship as we left at 5pm. After the beautiful sail away, we enjoyed some time in the T pool and had a snack at the Aqua Spa Cafe. A must try. Every time we wandered down there they had great food choices, no line! Tonight was formal night, so we got all dressed up. We girls wore gowns and our husbands were in tuxes. Had a lovely dinner. Anytime I don't have to cook is a GREAT NIGHT! Sea Day Next day was a sea day. We lounged by the pool, enjoyed the music and had a very relaxing day. Dress was informal. I can't tell you what people wore to dinner. I just don't pay that much attention. Everyone seemed to look appropriately dressed in the dining room thru the entire cruise. Santorini We were awake and on the balcony as we sailed in...it was breathtaking. Its pictures just can't do this island any justice. We had breakfast on our balcony and then went in search of the tender. This morning it was much better organized. Very little wait and on to the Island. We took the funicular up, forgoing the donkeys. It was a quick trip up, great view. Cost was 3.5 euros per person. We wandered around Santorini for a few hours. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We had planned to take a bus to Oia, but when we got to the bus station, we found that the next bus was in 45 minutes, so we took a cab instead. The taxi stand is right by the bus station. Cost was 20 euros. A lot more than the 1.5 euro bus. But the ride over was really nice, with great views. We arrived and wandered around the town. Very similar to Fira, but much smaller. We had been told about a restaurant at the foot of Oia, down in Ammoudi Bay, so we headed there for lunch. You go down steps similar to what you saw when going up to Fira, but not as long and no donkeys! Just keep asking how to get down to Ammoudi Bay and you will be directed to the right set of steps. We took a leisurely walk down the stairs; again the views were breath taking. Upon arriving at the bay, facing the water, the restaurant is to the left. You need to walk thru a couple other dinning areas to get to it. It's called Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna and has a yellow roof. It's the last restaurant in the row. Owned by Dimitris and his wife Joey. If you go there, make sure you ask to say hi to Joey. Tell her the 2 couples that she met at the taxi stand sent you! Well worth the walk! The food was great and the view was wonderful. We had a bottle of their local wine...excellent! Cost was not cheap, but we felt very reasonable. After lunch, Joey called us a taxi to take us back to Fira. We took the funicular back down around 3pm (another 3.5 euros), as we had booked a trip on a sailing boat at 4pm. The sailing ship is an exact replica of a schooner. We sailed from the port of Fira (same place the ship tender lets you off) and cruised throughout the Caldera area. From around 4pm to 9pm. We went to the Nea Kameni Volcano, and we walked to the crater's rim. It's a long hike, up hill and it's hot. Took about 45 minutes. We brought water with us, you can also buy water and soda and beer on the sailboat. The guide that takes you up stops frequently for breaks, explaining the history of the area as well as telling different stories about the volcano etc. We enjoyed it, others remained on the sailboat, others walked around on their own. We got back on the boat and sailed to the HOT Springs, where we swam for an hour or so (the springs are only warm, and the swim to get to them is cool to cold depending on what you're used to!!). Several folks on the sailboat chose to stay onboard and watch the others swim. To swim to the "hot springs" you must be a rather good swimmer...although they do offer life vests for those who want them. After that, we were served a free meal comprised of traditional Greek hor-d'oeuvres and Santorinian wine. We then sailed back to Fira listening to live music while the sun was setting into the sea. A truly wonderful way to end our day in Santorini.  Dress was casual that night, and we did not leave the port till around 11pm. We just ate around the ship that night. Some sushi, pasta, a desert from the spa cafe and ice cream. We enjoyed some local wine we had bought on shore on our balcony as we sailed away. Another perfect day! Athens  We had decided to do Athens on our own. We had all our maps and plans all written down and we were ready to go! We got off the ship and started our walk to the metro/train station. We turned left and followed the port around. And we walked, and walked, and walked. We asked several times for directions, thinking we had passed it up, but no. The directions were correct. Eventually you come to a three way street area and you go to your right. The metro/train station is two stop lights ahead on the right. It was a good 20 minute walk. When we returned, we took the # 843 bus that drops you off right at the port. Would suggest looking for that bus stop when you leave the port instead of walking. Just remember that you want to go towards your left, with the port at your back. Almost everyone in Athens speaks some English, so don't hesitate to ask for directions. Anyway, we made it to the metro/train station. We bought all day tickets for 12 euro per person. When you enter the tracks area, be sure to have your ticket stamped...it's an auto machine that you walk thru. There are two sets of tracks, both pointing in the same direction. I wanted to make sure they both went towards Athens, so I stepped into one train to ask someone what direction it was going and the door closed on me!!! Leaving my husband and friends standing on the platform screaming! Well, that certainly was a oops! To make a very long story short, I prayed that my girlfriend was thinking the same thing I was. We had taught our children if we ever got separated, go to the last place we were all together and STAY there. Sooooooo I hoped and prayed that my girlfriend would stay put, and keep my husband from jumping on the next train after me. I then got off at the next stop, got on the next train going in the opposite direction and went back to Piraeus. There they were, waiting for me on the platform. Needless to say, we NEVER got on a metro/train without making sure we were all together. The doors close very quickly, so beware! OK...we finally got our hearts started again and headed for Athens. By the way, both trains, on both sides of the platform go towards Athens. So you can hop on either train. This is the green line. You go about 8 stops to the Omonia and get off to transfer to the red line. There are huge metro maps on the walls. Check your next stop, which is Akropoli, and see what is the last stop on that line. I believe it's Panagoulis. That is the direction you want to go. Follow the signs to Panagoulis. Get on that metro and get off at Akropoli. Again follow the signs to the Acropolis when leaving the metro station. When you leave the station, go to the left, up the hill. It's a very short walk. You will see the ticket booth. The cost is 12 euro per person and includes the Acropolis, Kerameikos cemetery, Temple of Zeus, Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds, and the Ancient Agora. If you are doing Athens on your own, my advice is to decide ahead of time what you want to see and accomplish. We had a very good map of Athens and used it all day. Plan your day well; be very familiar with the map. And ask questions if you are not sure you are going in the right direction. It can get a bit confusing. We did everything we wanted, except the trip up to Lykavittos Hill. We were just too tired to do any more. Even if you are not using the Metro, if you have time, go down the Syntagma Square Metro station, it's like a mini museum, with all the artifacts they found when digging out for the Metro. Free. We saw: -Everything on the Acropolis, including the museum. Walk to the flag pole, the views are great and it gives you some idea of the layout! There is a very clean, free bathroom near the museum. -The Roman Agora, The Tower of the Winds. There is a fresh water fountain there&.free! We filled up all our water bottles. -Arios Pagos, a small rock or rock hill that St Paul preached from. Great views. -Ancient Agora. We did not walk thru the whole area. You reach it from a walkway to the right of the Ario Pagos. -Mitropoli Cathedral -Syntagma Square...saw the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the guards -wandered thru the Plaka and had lunch at an outside dinner. We had a lovely bottle of local wine...excellent. Price was 26 euros and they gave us a "shot" of their local brandy free after lunch. -Walked thru the National gardens to the -Olympic Stadium, then walked on past the stadium to -Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch. We were back by the Akrpoli metro station by that time, took it back to Omonia, switched to the green line toward Piraseus. This time we were smart and got the # 843 bus back to the port. The bus stop is across the street from the Metro station, just look for the number 843 on the signs on the poles. Whew, what a great day. We had a ball and saw everything we wanted to, with time to spare. That night was Informal night. We just managed to keep from falling asleep at our table...no shows that night for us! Sea Day Just relaxed and enjoyed the Mille that day. Spent some time in the T pool. Went to a lecture on Florence and Rome. That night we dressed up for Formal night. We did some dancing after dinner. Great day. Naples We docked here, but the port was not too accessible to the city. The ship charged $5 for a shuttle to take you out of the port area. If you had a ship excursion or a private excursion booked, you did not need to pay this. We had booked a private driver/guide for this port. At 8 am he was waiting on the dock with our name on a card. We used Francesco Marrapse -- he was perfect. We first drove thru Sorrento, then spent some time walking around in Positano. Then we enjoyed the drive thru the Amalfii coast, stopping in Ravello for a wonderful lunch on the patio of a restaurant on the top of a mountain. The food was great, very reasonably priced and we enjoyed a bottle of local wine...excellent! We then drove on to Pompeii, where Francesco had arranged a private guide to take us thru. It began raining at this point, but Francesco had umbrellas so off we went. We truly marveled at Pompeii, and felt the private guide was well worth the extra money. Francesco charged the 4 of us 550 with another 35 per person for Pompeii (10 euro per person to get in and 25 euro per person for the private guide.) An audio guide is available for 20 euro. I suggest you do one or the other, or you will not be able to really understand what you are looking at without some help. Another perfect day. Everyone else was saying how tired they were, but we felt we had done a lot in one day, but at a very leisurly pace. We had a casual dinner that night. Rome The shuttle from the ship out of the port in Rome was $8 per person. We had hired a private guide here as well, so we did not need the use of X's shuttle. Our guide, Carlos, was waiting for us at 7:10 am when we got off the ship. We had emailed back and forth about what we wanted to see. As the Vatican was high on our list, he suggested that if we were willing, we would start out VERY early and do it first. The Vatican Museum closes at 2pm on Saturdays and he felt it would get quite crowded. He also hired a private guide for the Vatican Museum. Her name was Domizia. She had gotten in line at the museum at 7:30am that morning! When we arrived around 8:10, Carlos took us up one of the many hills in Rome for a beautiful view of the city. He then dropped us off with our guide and we joined her in line. She sent us, a couple at a time, to a local bathroom before they opened the museum, as she said the lines in the museum would be really long. We were one of the first to enter the museum when it opened at 8:40. We had an incredible time. The guide was everything we could have asked for. She took us straight to the must sees and explained and educated us as we went along. She has been doing this for 7 yrs, so she knows the guards and we got thru some lines rather quickly!!! We also did the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters with her. She was wonderful. The guided tour was to be 2 ½ hours but she did not leave us till around noon. The place was packed by then. We learned later that Tony Blair was there. When we returned to the ship, we learned that many of our fellow travelers never got into the Vatican due to the crowds. At around 12:30, Carlos was waiting for us outside in St. Peters Square and whisked us, via back roads and alleys, to other sites in Rome. I have never seen so many people in one place before in my life. Thank God we had Carlos! We entered the Coliseum, St. Peters in Chains Church to see Michelangelo's Moses.....wow! We made stops at the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. We saw the Spanish Steps, Circus Maximus, the baths of Caracalla, Piazza Noavoa, and Capitol Hill. We also had time for lunch at a little taverna by the Coliseum and a bottle of local wine...excellent! Carlos was 500 euros and we shared this tour with another couple we met on line. So the 6 of us split that...84 euro per person. The Vatican guide was another 120 euro...20 per person. The entrance to the Vatican museum was 12 euro per person and the Coliseum was 11 euro per person. Another very busy day, but because of Carlos, we were not nearly as exhausted as we thought we would be. Dress code that night was Casual. Livorno Florence Pisa Shuttle service at this port was $8 day. Again, not needed if you have a tour scheduled. We hired a taxi at this port. He was not a guide, just a taxi to take us to Pisa and then Florence and bring us back to the ship. We thought that we could handle Florence on our own as everything is so close. It worked out well for us. We knew what we wanted to see and had bought a very good map. Another couple joined us. The cost of the taxi, at our disposal all day, was 320 euros..about 53 euro per person. Cheaper than the ships "Florence on your own" package that we had considered, and this way we did not have to have the bathroom stops etc that you have when you are with a large group. We used Tuscany by Taxi and were very pleased. He even spoke a little English and gave us a run down of what we were seeing. We were picked up at 8 am and he took us to Pisa first. We had the entire place to ourselves! We chose not to climb, but took many pictures. The square is really very pretty. I was pleasantly surprised, it was much nicer than I had expected??!! They do have very clean bathrooms for a slight charge...0.20 euros I think. We then were taken to Florence. First to Michelangelo Square for a breathtaking view of the city and a look at our first "David", in the Square (he's one of the fakes). After taking a few hundred pictures, the taxi dropped us off at the Accademia. We had 10:30 am appointment and we literally walked right in. Looking at the door, the line to the right (the really long one) is for people without tickets. The line to the left of the door is for those with reservations. We had called several months ahead for reservations. I strongly suggest you get reservations. You then pay the 15 euros at the door and walk in at your appointment time. If you make your reservations by phone, make sure you have your reservation number with you arrive about 15 minutes before your appointment time. What can I say about David...he is magnificent. The rest of the museum was very enjoyable as well. We spent an hour there. They have free, clean restrooms. Next, the taxi driver drove us to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and dropped us off. We made arrangements for him to pick us up at 4-430 at the Santa Crocein Church. We were in awe of the Cathedral, the Duomo..its gold doors. We had attended a class on Florence on one of the sea days on the ship, so we knew a little about the doors of the Duomo. Since it was Sunday, the Cathedral was closed to the public till 2pm. However, we went to the noon mass. The Cathedral was beautiful, the organ was amazing, the service was very moving...even thou it was in Italian! We thought we might sneak out early, but we stayed to the very end...then wandered a bit thru the magnificent church. Next we headed down Dei Calzaiuloi...most stores were closed (our DH's were very happy about that!). We stopped at a small outside restaurant down an alley for lunch, had a bottle of local wine...excellent! We had also made reservations for the Uffizi during the same phone call for the Accademia. They have a special door for reservation holders...door #3. Looking down the "U" that is the museum...door # 3 is on the right, the rest of the entrances are on the left. An hour is not enough time to see this museum. It's packed with people, confusing to navigate thru. You need days, maybe weeks to truly experience this museum. The number to make the reservations at the two museums is 011 39 055 294883. You can also get reservations on line, but you have to pay when you make the reservations, so if something happens and you can't make it or the ship's itinerary changes, you lose the money. It's a very cheap call; they will give you 2 separate reservation numbers, one for the Accademia and another for the Uffizi. You go to the museum about 15 minutes or so before your reservation time, WITH THE RESERVATION NUMBERS, pay in euros, and go right in. We were not too impressed with the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, perhaps because it was shoulder to shoulder people! Prices seemed high at the many jewelry stores that were open. We crossed the bridge and turned to the left, just wandering thu the city. Out last stop was Santa Croce church and it was a real gem. It was 5 euro to enter but well worth it. Lorenzo, Leonardo de Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Dante, Machievelli, to name a few, are all buried there. If you intend to do this city on your own, get reservations ahead of time, study the map and know what you want to see. It is very doable on your own, as everything is close together. I can't speak for shopping...most stores were closed and we were not there to shop anyway! Tonight was formal/informal night. That's how it was stated in the daily. Needless to say we were tired that night. We enjoyed the sail away from our balcony, then had to get ready for dinner. We were happy to forego the tux and gowns. Our husbands put on their sport coats and we girls wore dresses. Villefrance We were looking forward to this port. We had our day planned to the minute, with bus and train schedules. Unfortunately, we woke up to rain. We had breakfast in our room, as it was too cold and damp on the balcony. Around 10-10:30 the rain slowed so we decided to make a go of it with our itinerary completely changed. We had planed on leaving Villefrance, first to Nice, Eze next, returning to the ship so the guys could change into long pants/sport coat. We had planned to spend the evening in Monte Carlo, entering the casino. Since we had such a late start, and it was cool and rainy, the guys wore pants anyway, so we decided that we would try and get to the Casino by 5pm, before jackets and ties were required. We took raincoats, umbrellas and back packs and headed out. The ship tendered here, and again there was some tender issues. We were sent back and forth several times to different areas on the ship...no one seemed to know what was gong on. Eventually we did get tendered into shore. We knew that the bus station was up a hill, next to the Tourist Information Booth. However, the walk was quit the hike, uphill the whole way. We had no difficulty, but some folks were halfway up and not sure whether to continue or try and get back down. You could follow the winding road up hill, or take a short cut up some stairs. Just keep going up hill, and ask if you are going towards the Tourist Information Booth. There are many places on these boards that discuss the bus and train schedule, and how easy it is to do this port on your own. If you decide to do this area on your own, make sure you have all the schedules, a good map, and are willing to change itineraries as the day goes by. The town of Villefrance is picturesque. Lots of little shops, restaurants. All built on terraces, on hills. If you're heading for the bus stop, just keep going up hill. We left Villefrance via the # 100 bus to Nice. This stop was on the other side of the street from the TI Booth. We had intended to purchase the all day bus pass, but the bus driver did not have any! So we just paid as we went. Most trips were less than 2-3 euros for the two of us. Wandered around Nice a while...we had a map and we walked from the bus stop to Hotel Negresco and went inside. Just a beautiful hotel...used the bathrooms! Next we wandered down the Promenade Des Anglais ending up in old town. Lots of shops...very touristy. It was drizzling off and on. No one on the beach. We stopped for some pastry and coffee (no wine, too early, even for us) We did a circle, ending up back at the bus station. Took the # 82 bus to Eze. Again, a very picturesque city&but I thought very touristy and crowded. We did not walk down the Nietzsche Path, as we were afraid the rain had made it too muddy. We waited for the bus from Eze to Monte Carlo for 40 minutes, but it never came. So we took a taxi. We thought he told us 14 euros, but when we got there he said 40 euros...oh well. We paid the 10 euros each to enter the casino. We used our pictured drivers license for ID. Of course our guys were in pants, as we were told no shorts. However, we did see men in shorts in the casino, women in almost anything...capris, skirts, sandals. It was not very crowded and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. It's nothing special. We won around 60 euros and hi-tailed it out of there. After using the bathrooms, of course. We went back to Villefrance via the # 100 bus. Had a bit of a time finding the bus stop. Asked many folks, but did not find the French quite as helpful as the Italians. There was a huge set of bleachers set up outside the casino, blocking the view of the park and fountain that we were looking for. That's where the bus stop was! Anyway, arrived back in Villefrance and did a little shopping, then back to the ship. Casual night. Barcelona It was great having the morning off, as we did not arrive until around 2 pm. We had time to start our packing and have a nice lunch. Another shuttle charge here, $8 for the day. We took our one and only ship excursion to Montserrat and loved it. We left the ship with our group at 3pm (so we did not have to pay the $8 shuttle fee) and drove thru the city...getting a little tour. Then we drove up the mountain towards Montserrat. What a climb. We had some folks on the bus literally sitting on the floor so they did not have to look out! The ride was incredible, beautiful, and a little frightening if you are afraid of heights. The Monastery is unbelievable and the Black Madonna gave me goose bumps. There is a funicular that you can take to go even higher up the mountain if you choose to. We had a guided tour thru the Monastery and then about an hour on our own. There is a restaurant there so we had a bite to eat and shared a local bottle of wine...excellent! We returned another way, so saw some different parts of Barcelona. Altogether, well worth the $40 per person. We got back to the ship around 8pm, just in time for our late seating. Casual that night, as suitcases had to be out by 11pm. Next morning the disembarkation went very smoothly...at least what I saw. You received a color with your time to disembark, depending on how you filled out the form earlier in the cruise: ie people with early plane flights getting off first. We know that some folks left the ship at 4:45am due to an early flight, but for the most part we all departed between 7 and 9am. Barcelona has a beautiful port. The luggage comes out on a revolving baggage wheel, just like at the airport. We were off the ship by 8am and had our luggage and were out the door by 8:30. I had made arrangements on line with Angie's taxi service to pick us up. The taxi was waiting for us when we exited. A van, large enough for the 4 of us and all our luggage cost 30 euros. He drove us to Hotel Continental on Los Rambla. The hotel rooms are small, not many amenities. On the good side, the air conditioning works very well, they have a continental type breakfast with free drinks available 24/7, and they are located right at the top of La Rambla, a perfect location. We had a room with a balcony, can't image one without...would feel pretty closed in. It was fine for one night, but I would not want to stay there longer than that. We asked for ice for the 4 of us and were given 4 ice cubes!!! Anyway, one of our rooms was ready, so we put all the luggage in there, had a bite to eat at their 24 hour breakfast bar, grabbed a few free bottles of water and headed out. After walking the length of La Rambla, we bought tickets for the Bus Turistic...the off/on double decker bus. Cost was 18 euro per person. It worked well for us. We got off and on at all the sites we wanted to see. The Barcelona Cathedral was beautiful; Sagrada Familia was really weird, but interesting. Park Guell is quite a walk, up hill from the bus stop or metro stop. Not sure it's worth the hike, if you don't like to walk. The bus was very crowded, sometimes full, so you had to wait for the next one, but they did come every 5-10 minutes. You cannot see much from the bottom floor. The top is the best, but can be very hot. At every stop, people on the bottom are able to take any vacant seats on the top level, before they let any new people on. It works well and is very orderly. The other option is to use the Metro. An all day pass costs about 4 euros per person or a 10 ride pass (can be used by more than one person) is around 6 euros. The only down side to the Metro is that you can't see anything as you travel from place to place. The hotel made reservations for us to see a Flamenco Show. We went to the Tablao Flamenco for a great dinner and show. Cost was $60 per person and we felt it was worth it. The meal was a buffet with lots of Spanish type foods and free local wine...red, white or sangria. You already know that we have not met a local wine we did not like! The next morning I had made arrangements for Angie's taxi to take us to the airport. Cost was 46 euros for the 4 of us and all our luggage. The taxi driver was waiting in the lobby the next morning when we came down to check out. Very reliable. The Ship We thought the Mille was in good shape. We were having a great time and certainly did not look at her chairs, carpet etc., but to us she seemed fine. Our cabin attendants were wonderful, very attentive to our every whim. Everyone was helpful, always a smile on their face. We had most of our breakfasts in our rooms, on our balconies. Lunches were mostly on shore. Did use the pasta bar, the sushi was great, and we ate several times at the aqua spa cafe. We enjoyed our dinners, but cannot honestly say the food was consistently excellent. We had some very goods meals and some ok meals. But nothing that detracted from the entire cruise experience. Our waiters were very good, and we enjoyed our evenings with them. We never noticed the infamous odor or black/brown water in the sink. We enjoyed dancing several nights; saw a couple shows that we thought were entertaining. Unfortunately, I can't comment much further than that. I did hear good things about several of the shows we missed. Our cabin was aft, on the 9th level. We loved it and would not hesitate to book it again. However, we did hear chairs being dragged overhead some mornings. We never experienced any water pouring down due to them cleaning the floor above. The evenings were lovely, with the music from the floor above drifting down for our listening pleasure. The televisions do not have ANY hook ups. We were not able to view our pictures via a slide show. We asked for a VCR/Disc player, but was told they do not have any. I had purchased a Roadstor (on eBay, really cheap) to copy my pictures from the digital picture card onto a disc. This worked very well. The ship offers this service at $15 per CD. I had also brought some music CDs to listen to thru the Roadstor, but was not able to listen to them as I could not hook the Roadstor to the TV (to use the speakers). We used the T pool several times, and my black bathing suit is still quite black...did NOT fade. Choice of clothes for this trip was something I kept reading about. If you get nothing else out of this review, please know that as long as you are dressed appropriately; wear what you are comfortable in and what you look good in. DO NOT stress out on your choice of wardrobe. We saw jeans everywhere, on locals as well as tourists. Capris were very popular, as were longish skirts. Lots of pants on women and shorts on men. Lots of sneakers...even white ones! The man that served us in Venice had on jeans, a t-shirt and white sneakers. He spoke very poor English, but was so very helpful. Did not see the baggy shorts/pants and "wife beaters" that we see so much of here. THANK GOD! The only ladies that were not carrying purses were tourists. That's how they pick us out before we even speak! Having said that, we still were very cautious with our money. We did not carry any valuables, the guys had their money in their front pockets and we girls used a waist pouch I found at AAA. We carried travel bags when we needed additional thing like water, rain gear, maps etc. While on buses and trains/metros we kept them in the front of our body. Never had a bit of trouble. Used the safe on the ship with complete confidence. We had ordered 2 liquor packages from the Celebrity web site as a gift to ourselves before we left for our trip. They were $55 each (I understand this price has since gone up!). When we arrived in our cabin on the first day, the cabin attendant had a card noting that we had ordered the liquor. He asked us what kind we wanted, we told him Jack and Grey Goose. The package included a liter of booze along with a bag of nuts and a six pack of soda (we asked him for a six pack of water instead). By the time we returned to the ship, the 2 bottles were there, along with the nuts and 2 six packs of water. We also had ice and glasses waiting for us. This was a lot easier than trying to sneak the bottles on board in our luggage. We were able to enjoy a cocktail, some snacks that we ordered thru room service, and the view as we sailed away from each port. We bought some local wine and never had any trouble bringing it back on the ship. It went thru the metal detectors and we took it to our rooms. No questions asked. We could drink it in our rooms, or take it to dinner with us and pay the $15 corkage fee...that was usually more than we paid for the wine! Do try the local vino, we found it consistently good. Bathrooms were everywhere. I have no horror stories to tell. Most were very clean and I did not find one hole in the floor. I carried toilet paper but did not need it, not even once. We used them at restaurants, museums, bars, hotels, and there were many public WCss or toilets to be found. Occasionally we had to pay a very small amount, but most of the time they were free. We brought a couple hundred euros with us, got the rest from ATM's without any difficulty. Just remember to let your bank and credit card companies know that you will be using your ATM card/credit card in Europe, so that they are not suspended due to possible theft or fraud. I can't thank everyone on this board enough for all the great information, suggestions, and opinions. Our trip went off like clockwork. We had an absolutely wonderful time, and would not have changed a thing! Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Flight and First Day in Venice We started out our journey with a nights stay at the Sofitel at Gatwick North terminal. We really liked the hotel, it was very modern, classy and very well maintained. On Thursday 25th May we caught the 1pm ... Read More
Flight and First Day in Venice We started out our journey with a nights stay at the Sofitel at Gatwick North terminal. We really liked the hotel, it was very modern, classy and very well maintained. On Thursday 25th May we caught the 1pm BA flight to Venice. Once at the airport in Venice, we took the shuttle bus into Piazzale Roma, at one end of the Grand Canal, and then dragged our cases across bridges to our Hotel, the Carlton and Grand Canal. We really liked the hotel and its perfect location on the Grand Canal. From the hotel it was easy to cross the bridge and explore the marvelous streets and alleyways of Venice. We spent the rest of Thursday exploring Venice, walking to St. Marks Square and catching the waterbus back to the hotel. 26 May - Day of Boarding Ship We decided to head from the Hotel to Millennium at around midday, so caught a taxi from Piazzale Roma (where cars are allowed) to the cruise terminal. Upon arrival we were able to check in and immediately board Millennium. After the usual champagne, we made our way to the Cova cafe to buy our soda package (around $60 for our 12 night cruise for unlimited fountain soft drinks), then to our cabin, 8045 to leave our bags there. We met our cabin steward at this point, and then headed to the Ocean Cafe for some of Millenniums famous "made to order" pasta. As usual it was brilliant! In the afternoon we walked back into Venice. We could have taken the $8 Celebrity organised waterbus direct to St. Marks Square, but to be honest that is not the best area of Venice, and usually full of tourists, so we much preferred to explore starting out in the area around our hotel from the night before, The hotel Carlton & Grand Canal. The walk is ok, although a little dangerous when crossing some of the roads. We returned to Millennium at around 6pm and had a good look around the ship before getting ready for open seating dinner. We went along at 8:30. Dinner was great; it was so nice to get back into the old routine. After dinner we explored the ship further. 27 May - More Venice and Departure After a room service breakfast, we headed into Venice again on foot. We had another nice day exploring. I really fell for Venice. Very few places are as good as people say, but I can honestly say Venice is. We headed back to Millennium at around 2:30 for a late lunch (well, our first visit to the really good burger grill by the pool, followed by one of the lovely aqua spa cafe deserts.) After lifeboat drill, we headed up onto top deck for sail away. I must say the departure from Venice was amazing. Wow, what a view from that great height. I took some really good video as we sailed down past all the sights of the city. At 5:45 we headed to a cruise critic party (we had received invite in our cabin when we arrived onboard) The party was held in one of the Penthouse suites. We felt so privileged to be invited along. Thanks to Lynda and Jeff for that. It was really special. Later we headed to our late sitting dinner. We met our tablemates; Trevor and Mary form the UK as well. They are lovely people, who we shared so many brilliant days with, and are now great friends. As it was our first regular late sitting dinner on the cruise we met Javel and Alvin, our waiter and assistant for the first time. They were fantastic, and in over 23 cruises I can honestly say we have never had waiters like them. They made the cruise for us. 28 May - Dubrovnik We anchored at Dubrovnik and tendered in. Apparently, there were long waiting times to go ashore, caused by the port authorities only allowing one of the ships tenders in at a time. We heard quite a lot of complaining about this. Personally we did not find a problem, as we opted for going ashore later at 11ish, avoiding all the waiting around. After all, we were on holiday so trying to rush off the ship first thing always seems a little silly to us. We walked around Dubrovnik, and really liked the place. The old city is compact, and contains many fascinating alleyways and sets of steps. After a really nice afternoon exploring the city we headed back to the ship and relaxed until dinner. Javel and Alvan were on form at dinner as usual. 29 May - At Sea A lovely relaxing day at sea while cruising via the straights of Messina towards Greece. 30 May - Santorini After a nice room service breakfast, we headed ashore by tender at 11am, after all the crowds had gone. We took the cable car up to the town on top of the cliffs and had a good look around. What a lovely place, and the views of Millennium at anchor were really good. After a light lunch and some lovely beer (ok, our legs did not work after one glass of beer in the sun!) we headed back to the ship at 4pm and had another wonderful evening on Millennium. 31 May - Athens We decided to walk to the local metro station in Piraeus and catch the train into Athens; we did a walking tour of the city (thanks to the map from the concierge) We stopped off at my favourite place, the Parliament building to see the somewhat amusing changing of the guards. It sure is a unique experience! As it was such a hot day, we headed back to the ship, via the metro, for a nice cool drink on deck and a chance to plan yet another amazing evening. 1 June - At Sea Another relaxing sunny day on Millennium, followed by dinner in the Olympic restaurant with Trevor and Mary. Dinner was fantastic. The goats cheese soufflE and Chateaubriand were out of this world, and it would have been rude not to have the equally brilliant Waldorf pudding, to finish it off cheese and biscuits were served. What an amazing evening. 2 June - Naples We had an early start on this day so we could go on a half-day Celebrity tour to Pompeii. Really enjoyed the tour, and took so many photos. Back to ship at lunchtime for a relaxing afternoon and evening. 3 June - Rome We caught the train into Rome (9 euros including day pass on metro and busses. The ticket is called a BERG). Upon arrival it was obvious the Pope was on show in Vatican City, so we immediately made our way across the city to avoid the steadily increasing crowds. It was one of those situations which was a little scary, with large crowds of people and shut off streets and subways, making things even more difficult. We explored the city until 3pm, and then headed back to the railway station and Millennium. Its worth noting that despite the onboard paper "Celebrity Today"saying the shuttle busses ($5 for a day pass now!) drop you a 15 minute taxi ride from the railway station, they actually drop you a 10 minute walk away. 4 June - Livorno On this day, we had a half-day afternoon Celebrity tour organised to Pisa, so had a relaxing morning onboard ship. The tour was good and we had a really nice afternoon in Pisa admiring the great buildings, and trying to work out how the leaning tower stays upright. After the tour we had another fantastic evening onboard. 5 June - Villefranche It was raining in the morning so we decided to head ashore after lunch. We caught the train into Monte Carlo (5 euros return), and spent 4 hours exploring. It was interesting to see most of the stands and barriers were still in place from the previous weekends formula one Grand Prix race. Moored up the harbour were Crystal Symphony and Easycruise 1 - what a contrast eh! After a nice glass of beer on the seafront back in Villefranche, we headed back to Millennium. As usual the evening was brilliant. It was a formal/informal evening with the customary baked Alaska parade in the restaurant, and later in the evening the Grand Buffet. 6 June - Barcelona We arrived on schedule in Barcelona at 2pm and after things had settled down at the gangway we headed ashore. We took the Celebrity shuttle coach ($8 for a day pass) what turned out to be a relatively short distance to the one end of Las Rambla. We walked up this fascinating street full of amazing street artists and performers, stopping and watching many as we passed. On the way back the four of us stopped off for a 2-litre jug of sangria, as you can imagine not much sense was heard from us after that. It was a bit of a sad evening as it was our last out with Javel and Alvan. Over the 12 nights we had become a really good team and enjoyed many laughs together. I guess all good things come to an end eh. After dinner we wandered around Millennium until pretty late. It was interesting to note that the late night bites were still served in the public rooms at midnight, and pasta and pizza were still available in the Ocean Cafe in the early hours. 7 June - Bye Bye Millennium! We were set to leave Millennium at the rather ungodly hour of 7:10 (there has to be a penalty for being allowed to board so early at the start of the cruise) we caught a taxi to Barcelona airport at a cost of 30 euros, pretty reasonable compared to the Celebrity shuttle at $25 per person. Unfortunately our flight was not until 1pm so we had a fair bit of waiting around to do. We found the airport to be a pretty nice spacious place and passed the time pretty easily people watching and shop exploring. Production Shows We really enjoyed these. They were the most professionally produced and performed shows I have ever seen. The energy and professionalism of the performers really came across. Millenniums fantastic theatres many features were used to their full extent. The Shows were: Spectacle of Broadway, Fantasea, Classique: a musical Odessy and I love the nightlife. Congratulations to the theatre team. Caberet artists The other shows we went to were: A brilliant English Violin performer, who went through virtually every time of music style you can imagine. Very good indeed. A professional pickpocket, once again a very good entertaining and educational show. We certainly knew what to look out for the next day in Rome! I have to mention the fantastic Spanish guitar musician, Pepe de Jose who performed in the Cova Cafe and at the Ocean Bar. He was on our cruise on Millennium in 2004 and we were so pleased to see him back onboard for this cruise. Food We dined in the Metropolitan Restaurant every evening, apart for the one in the Olympic restaurant. We could not fault the food or service in either restaurant, and as mentioned before, our brilliant waiters made it a cruise to remember. Food quality and service were equal too if not better than Millennium was in 2004. Our night in the Olympic was perfection. The Ocean Cafe food was as good as ever, with made to order pasta dishes, pizza, many buffet choices. Ice cream was served all day as well. At lunchtime sandwiches were also available, made to order. In the evening sushi, pizza and pasta were available and part of the Ocean Cafe was turned into a casual dining area, as an alternative to the Metropolitan Restaurant. The Burgers form the Burger grill were as brilliant as ever! Food form the aqua spa cafe was really nice. They do the best deserts on the ship at lunchtime as well. Room service was always delivered really fast, and the menu available very nice. When food was being served in the Metropolitan Restaurant the same items were available for delivery via room service, a real treat. Ship Condition There has been much said on Cruise Critic about the "tatty" look of some Millenniums public areas, I can assure you that I looked hard and found things to be in a very good state of repair. The carpet in the theatre has been replaced, and new light strips fitted on all strips, making things much safer there. One or two things on the exterior of the ship, mainly made form aluminum, could do with repair, but it was nothing significant. Our Stateroom CC grade 8045 was in good condition and had the extra large angled balcony, a real treat. We were looked after well by our cabin steward, and her assistant, so no complaints there. Attitude of Staff Every member of staff on Millennium always greeted us with a smile and a hello, how are you? They are a great team and really were the best we have had on any ship. Some of the officers seemed a little non-understanding at times though. On one occasion one of the Assistant chief housekeepers came to ask if everything was ok with the cabin and steward etc. We told them that we had brown water in the bathroom that evening. They replied oh that's good, smiled and went. Maybe some training is required there! On another occasion we returned to our cabin after the show to be greeted with a strong smell of sewage. We called guest relations, who sent somebody up so see what the problem was (it was not caused by a blocked toilet, and seemed to be coming form the air conditioning). The man from guest relations did not seem to understand that the problem was, and went. He did say we would hear from them, and that was the last we heard of it. Captains Club As elite members, we were looked after very well by the Captains Club hostess. We had an elegant afternoon tea in the Olympic Restaurant, Backstage theatre tour and galley visit, as well as other treats. Well done on making your loyal customers feel special. It really works, as we booked an Alaska cruise whilst onboard. Conclusion A brilliant cruise, visiting some of the most amazing places on what I feel is the best ship in the world. About Me I am an engineer from the UK in my 30's who travelled with my friend Finn in his 20's. We now cruise exclusively with Celebrity after previously being regular P&O customers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
This was a cruise for my 27-year old daughter and myself (50+ mom). We have crusied before in the Carribean and have also been to Europe several times, but not on a cruise. In fact, I have really enjoyed traveling thru Europe by train and ... Read More
This was a cruise for my 27-year old daughter and myself (50+ mom). We have crusied before in the Carribean and have also been to Europe several times, but not on a cruise. In fact, I have really enjoyed traveling thru Europe by train and have been on trips thru Italy, France and Spain. Quite a few of the places we were to visit on this cruise we had visited before, which played a part in our choice of excursions in port. But my daughter wanted to do something different this year and a cruise it was to be. We have cruised Celebrity, HAL, RCCL and Costa before; Celebrity being the line we like best. When we decided to book the cruise I liked the itinerary - I had never been to Greece and have recently heard alot about Dubrovnik, so the ports offerred some old favorites along with a few new places. We actually booked somewhat at the last minute (at least by our usual planning standards). About a month and a half before the sail date we booked an inside cabin over the internet, then about a week or so later I decided to upgrade to a "Verandah Guarantee" cabin. Boy did that work out for us! We ended up on a verandah in Concierge Class at the back of the boat - 7212 - it was fantastic. The largest cabin I have ever been in (it was handicap accessible) and the balcony was just HUGE. I am so glad I decided to spend the bucks to do that upgrade. I loved the little extras that came with the CC cabin - fresh flowers, afternoon nibbles, priority tendering and also it helped put us in the late dinner seating which was great for a European cruise. Gave me time to take a nap, then sit out on the balcony, sip some wine and then go to dinner! Here are some general observations - then I will cover the ports. We like the food on Celebrity - we live in Atlanta so we are used to good restaurants. I have also spent a lot of time on my other European trips enjoying the local cuisine....a vacation is alot about food to me. Now I don't necessarily like the very highbrow gourmet food...but well prepared foods with good ingredients. I would rate the Celebrity food good or very good. As others have said, listen to what your waiter tells you is good that evening; the items I had that I would say were mediocre were those not suggested by the waiter (but he was always willing to then bring me a second item that I should have ordered in the first place!) We had some very nice fish, my daughter likes beef and it was usually very good with tastey sauces. We like the dining room experience and we were fortunate to have some great table mates. Another family with a daughter the same age as my daughter and a single woman...in fact we enjoyed our table so much we never ate away from the table on any nite except the one that was "open seating" - the nite we were in Santorini. We always think about going to the specialty restaurant, but in the end decide against it - the food in the dining room is definately very good - why pay more? But I must admit I did miss some of my usual European vacation foods - as good as the food was, it was not the same as what we usually eat on the land in Italy, France or Spain. Our shipboard activities are limited! We like to sun, I usually walk several miles on the track, my daughter went to the gym...we do not go for the entertainment so I have no comments on the shows. We went to Karaoke one night and it was pitiful, but maybe everyone was tuckered out from the land excursions. The passengers were definitley older than on a Carribean cruise. Very few my daughters age - except a few honeymoon couples. But I must say, even though the crowd was a bit older, they loved to dance! The rendezvous lounge was always buzzing before dinner. I think they had a guest professor on board our trip providing some musical entertainment and maybe lectures. They also had an art historian that gave talks on Italian and Spanish art on sea days - I very much enjoyed those! Ports - we flew in one nite eary to Barcelona, stayed on a hotel right on Las Ramblas. I love Barcelona, would have loved to stay longer! If you have never been to Barcelona before, it would be good to do the Hop on - Hop off bus...it will cover most of the highlights of this amazing city. Villefrance - we walked around the city and out towards Cap Ferrat as we have stayed in Nice and toured the general area before. Nice beach in Villefrance....had a wonderful scallop risotto in Cosmos reaturant near the waterfront in the old city. Livorno - we bought the ship's transfers here....waste of money. Didn't take you to the train station. We ended up getting a taxi at the port to go directly to the train. We did a trip on our own to Lucca where we rented bikes and explored the ramparts....great day! Cittavecchi - again bought the ships transfers. Here the taxis could not come to the ship (that I could tell) but maybe here was a free shuttle bus. It was way too long to walk in tho. It was very confusing and frustrating to me the different port situations. The ship did not always give clear and helpful instructions on how to do the ports on your own. If you don't plan to do ship excursions try to find out ahead of time (by posting on the boards I guess) about how to get from the dock to a point where you can do your own thing. Several of the docks were a long ways and in very pedestrian unfriendly areas from where you needed to be). Anyway at this port we went into Rome on our own as we have been there and done the main tourist things previously. But if you have not this is definitely a place to buy a ship excursion if you want to maximize your time on the land. Naples - WOW - I knew Naples was chaotic as we have come thru it before on the way to Capri. I planned to go to the Archeological museum on my own and then do a "Rick Steve's walk" around the city. None of the taxis at the dock would take me to the museum - wanted to score full day trips to Pompeii! I did eventually get one across the street - got to the museum - they would not sell me a ticket without correct change! Eventually got my bill changed by buying a phone card and went to the museum which I ended up enjoying a lot. Also stopped by a local grocery store to restock my in room wine bar - the store was as chaotic and crowded as the rest of the city! The Amalfi coast is much more enjoyable than the city - do yourself a favor and splurge on a car and driver for this shore excursion. Santorini - took a taxi to Kalmata (something like that!) beach. This was another great day! Beach is black pebbles - tough on the feet but a great place to sun worship. And here is the best part....there were very nice chaise lounges and umbrellas for FREE FREE FREE. In France we have had to pay 15 Euros each for similar set ups, so we were happy to have a value day on the beach. Ate at a beachside restaurant - the view was better than the food (I was looking forward to my Greek tasties) but the wine was cheap and pleasant so overall the day was a winner. Athens - I had gotten info from the internet as to how to get from the port to the city but it didn't work for me. First of all it was VERY HOT at 10am. I exited the boat thru a confusing complex crowded with many people heading to the Greek ferries to be met by an aggressive swarm of taxi drivers. I attempted to find the metro, but again the area was very pedestrian unfriendly. I headed back to the boat! That evening our table mates told us they had taken a taxi to town (25 Euros) and the metro back. The young woman said the walk from the metro to the boat was a "deathmarch" - fairly long and very hot. Well, I'll see Athens another time! Dubrovnik - WOW - drop dead gorgeous. I would love to return to this city and spend some leisurely time there and along the coast. We did not get any of the local currency - had our credit card and Euros - however to walk the walls you need the local money. Oh well...next time. Went to lunch at a restuarant suggested by a shopowner - mostly locals and some crew from the ship there. I decided I wanted sea food - so I ordered a grilled fish. It came on a plate with head, tail, bone in......I looked expectantly at the waiter, then I realized I AM NOT ON THE SHIP!!! I did manage to debone and enjoy it but they sure do spoil you onboard, don't they? Venice - did not purchase the ship's shuttle tickets, but it was a bit of a walk to Piazza Romale. We wanted to walk to locate our hotel when we were not dragging our bags. The shuttle goes to St. Marks. Venice was VERY crowded - try to get away from the crowds after you have seen St. Marks. There are nice places to eat on the Zattarere where you can watch a lot of the boats buzzing by and be away from the throngs. I must admit the ship sailing into Venice was great (tho I know these big ships must be part of the high water problem!!) They play opera as the ship sails in - I started crying - it was just such a LIFE IS GREAT moment! My daughter was apalled! The next day when we disembarked, lo and behold there was a free shuttle bus to Piazza Romale where you can connect to a bus that takes you to the airport. We stayed an extra night in Venice - it is so amazing! I am weary of this report! To summarize - we enjoyed this trip very much but I missed being on the land in Europe. It was great to just unpack one time and visit so many great places, and the access in from the ports was frustrating at times. If you spend the money for the ship excursions it would make it a lot less hassel in most of the ports. The vacation was just a little too much on the boat for me - tho don't get me wrong I like the ship. Perhaps the food quality has gone down a bit but it is still good. My daughter loves the sushi, I like the salmon in the aquaspa. The buffet, pasta, grill options for lunch were not always fabulous, but there were always tastey morsels to be found. One day there was some grilled shrimp that were great! The service and crew were wonderful (that is one aspect that wins it over the land in Europe where at times the service is bit surly or unfriendly!) I wish Celebrity spent a few bucks on fresh flowers - the artifical arrangements looked tired. Feel free to email me any questions you might have. This is a great itinerary - if this is your first trip to Europe it will give you many ideas of where you want to go in the future and spend more time on the land! Bon voyage! SueC12 Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Overall, a simply fabulous cruise. (The nits below should not detract from this.) HIGHLIGHTS: Main seating dining and service, overall service, Santorini (Oia), Dubrovnik (and Dubrovnik seafood), Venice, Capri, Olympic dining room ... Read More
Overall, a simply fabulous cruise. (The nits below should not detract from this.) HIGHLIGHTS: Main seating dining and service, overall service, Santorini (Oia), Dubrovnik (and Dubrovnik seafood), Venice, Capri, Olympic dining room LOWS: Tired statesroom, uneven breakfast and lunch service, uneven tour guides, entertainment, confusing disembarkation/airport transfer, rude Venetian salespeople, Sorrento generally, "first class" meals on excursions, pad-thai and pre-cooked dessert crepes at main seating dining, cold burgers at the grill EXCURSIONS TAKEN: Nice/Eze; Florence/Pisa; Imperial Rome; Capri/Sorrento/Pompeii; Delos; Athens Acropolis; Doge's Palace/Glassworks PORTS WHERE EXCURSIONS SKIPPED: Santorini, Dubrovnik TIPS: (1) On Santorini, an excursion is unnecessary. Oia was the highlight of the entire cruise and shouldn't be missed. Bus service from Fira to Oia is only 1 euro (v. 15 euro by taxi). Be prepared for 3d world packing of the bus, though. (2) In Greece generally, retsina and ouzo are awful (probably an acquired taste). (3) Dubrovnik was a surprising treat. The candied almonds sold in some stores are delicious (if pricey). The restaurant at the end of the Stradum right by the water is great. Walking the city wall is well-worth the small fee. (4) In Venice, gondola rides can be independently arranged for significantly less $$$ (140 euro for 4-6 people for the longest 1 hour trip). Skip Cafe Florian (85 euro for coffee and dessert for 4!!!) and try the cafe across the square, which plays better music anyway (classical instead of showtunes). (6) The Capri/Sorrento/Pompeii excursion was great because of Capri, which is very cute (although Santorini/Oia is far cuter). The tourbooks are right -- Sorrento is a waste of time. REVIEW: Overall, the cruise was great. DINING: Dinner in the main dining room was excellent. It only disappointed twice -- when we tried the Pad Thai (very non-authentic; more like bad chow mein) and the crepes (pre-cooked). Our wait staff -- Daugaus, Darius, Herson, and our wine steward Dona (all sp?) -- were excellent and very attentive. The members of our table consistently ordered more than one entree, and were always satisfied (except as discussed above). The wine list was decent and very reasonably-priced. We ordered two bottles of wine for our table almost every night, and never had to repeat choices. Breakfast in the main restaurant disappointed. The only advantage over eating on Deck 10 was that the omelets and croissants were slightly better and there were no lines. The staff was somewhat inattentive, however, and rather rigid. For example, when one of our friends asked for a plate of grapes, she was told that this could not be accommodated. She could, however, order an entire fruit plate and discard everything except for the grapes. The service in the buffet restaurant on Deck 10 was spotty. The waiters are supposed to offer to take your tray to a table -- but only did so for those who were very old or very infirm. STATESROOM: Our statesroom attendant, Jose, did an excellent job. He made sure to fold/arrange our clothing daily and even sprinkled rose petals on one of our friend's beds on her birthday. Our statesroom itself was adequate. The 170 square feet of space were ample, as was the closet space. The furnishings in our statesroom disappointed, though, and looked to be more than 5 years old. The small couch was dirty and threadbare, and one of our lamps was missing a lampshade (the result of a former inebriated occupant's mishap, we later learned). The paint on our toilet seat was peeling, and there were visible scratches along one of our statesroom walls. The blow dryer was very, very weak. EXCURSIONS: Although we liked all of the excursions that we took, we had mixed reviews regarding our tour guides. Our local tour guide in Rome was fantastic, as was our Delos tour guide. On the other hand, our guide on the airport transfer in Barcelona (yes, yes -- not really an excursion) did a great job of NOT selling us on Barcelona (e.g., "This is the ugly part of town." "Spaniards do not really siesta, except for the lazy people in the south.") Our guide in Athens constantly threatened to leave us if we were late (and, indeed, consistently departed a few minutes before the appointed time). Celebrity mis-advertises some of the excursion meals in its literature as being at "first-class restaurants." In Italy, we dined at three such restaurants in a row -- on our Florence, Rome, and Capri excursions. These meals were certainly not "fine dining." Celebrity tries a bit to hard to "pitch" certain of its affiliated stores. In Venice, the Murano glassworks demonstration person even conceded that he was giving us a "pitch." OTHER: The entertainment was adequate. The illusionist's illusions were good overall -- but he laughed too hard at his own jokes. We dropped in on many of the other shows (Fantasea, etc.) and found them to be solid, if slightly amateurish (better than your average college production, but only slightly so). The ship's bands were adequate, as well. Prodigy was very entertaining (especially the lead singer, who was quite the showman). The violinist for one of the bands consistently played off-key. She played during dinner, and thus we could not avoid her. Overall, the highest marks for food quality, main seating dining, and personal service. Decent marks for breakfast/lunch service, entertainment, and our statesroom. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was my third cruise with the Celebrity Cruise lines and I will say from the start that it lived up to my every expectation, just as Celebrity has done on each of my previous two cruises. My husband and I booked our entire package ... Read More
This was my third cruise with the Celebrity Cruise lines and I will say from the start that it lived up to my every expectation, just as Celebrity has done on each of my previous two cruises. My husband and I booked our entire package through Celebrity via a travel agency. I highly recommend this to anyone who is planning on a similar trip. They took care of our flight to Barcelona, transfer to the hotel from the airport, the hotel stay, transfer from the hotel to the ship, transfer from the ship to the airport and the flight home. With all the other stress that goes into planning these trips; it was wonderful to have all of those important details taken care of by the travel company - especially knowing that if something went wrong we could count on them to help us out. It is probably a little more expensive to do it this way, but I still recommend it for the peace of mind if nothing else. We flew into Barcelona a day early so we could sample a bit of the local flavor rather than having to head straight for the ship. I am really glad we did. La Sagrada Familia, La Rambla and the Placa de Catalyna are not to be missed. The street performers at La Rambla were very entertaining. Note of caution, we did hear of someone who had their camera cut from their wrist while in Barcelona so keep a close eye on all belongings when you are in a crowd of people. La Rambla gets pretty packed so just be aware of what is going on around you. We stayed in the hotel Gran Havana and it was pretty nice. It was definitely well located as it was about halfway between La Sagrada Familia and La Rambla. We were able to walk everywhere and felt very safe even when we were out pretty late on our first night. We got to the ship fairly early on Sunday. They were having computer problems at the time and couldn't print out our seapass cards so one of the security guys walked a bunch of us on the ship and let us go so we could wander around and look at the ship while it was still pretty empty. I leave it to others to describe the actual ship itself, these vacations for us are more about the destination than the transportation, but I will say that it was beautiful and well kept and I couldn't complain about a single thing appearance-wise throughout the whole duration of the trip. We only had to wait an hour before our seapass cards were available and then we were able to drop our carry-on bags at the room. The rooms weren't supposed to be ready until 1, but I remember ours was available considerably before that. We did have to go back down and have our security pictures taken since we didn't have our cards when we boarded, but all in all I thought Celebrity handled the computer problems admirably. The room was pretty standard from our other cruises. We always get a plain inside stateroom for the simple fact that we spend so little time in it; I would rather use the extra money to buy souvenirs. There is plenty of room for our needs, though we did have a small table this time that was kind of nice to have even though it took up a good bit of extra floor space. My only complaint on this cruise was that there were no hooks on the walls as we have seen on other ships and part of the closet space was taken up by the safe which on other ships has always been tucked away behind the mirror. The closet space seemed smaller, but that may be because this trip was almost twice as long as any of the others we have every done and I can't pack light to save my life so we brought a LOT of clothes. My husband and I were on the young side for this cruise (I am 29 and he is 35) where the majority of the passengers were retirement age. Celebrity did their usual wonderful job of putting us at a dinner table with three other couples that were closer to our age than the average and I have to give them major props for this because we became good friends with all three of them and spent a lot of time with them during the port days. We ended the week with hugs and exchanging contact info so we can get in touch and visit each other. All of the service in every place we went on the ship was wonderful. Our dinner waiter Preston, his assistant Wilfredo and the bar waiter (whose name I never managed to catch) were WONDERFUL. We are more soda drinkers than we are alcohol drinkers (though we do our fair share of that too) so we bought the unlimited soda sticker on the first day and our bar attendant kept the glasses coming all through dinner and half the time they were already there by the time we sat down! They got to know our usual likes throughout the week and catered to us very specifically throughout the cruise. One of our table mates was such a chocolate nut that they even added chocolate sauce to her deserts a couple of times even when it wasn't mentioned on the desert menu at all. They were just wonderful. If one of us didn't seem too fond of a dish; be it the appetizer, soup or whatever - they were right there to replace it in no time and genuinely seemed happy if we were happy. They were an amazing group and I can't say enough good things about them. We spent a good number of our evenings in the Rendezvous Lounge listening to Karaoke which was always a hoot and having drinks. Seating was usually at a premium right after the second seating since there were usually a bunch of us from our dinner table trying to sit together, but we always managed to find a spot somewhere. On several nights we went up to the disco in Cosmos and danced had drinks. I guess because of the higher average age on this cruise, there weren't usually that many of us on the dance floor except on Latin night when it was packed. The staff in both places was wonderful and attentive without being overbearing. I never felt pushed to order anything, but if I did they were very quick. The ports were the reason we took this cruise, but as every person likes something else, I will just hit the highlights. In Villefranche we didn't take a tour at all and decided to just wing it. The train was a bit difficult to figure out, but we managed to get to Cannes and Nice before packing it in and spending the rest of the day wandering around Villefranche. Cannes was neat because the film festival was going on, Nice didn't do much for me, but I think that is because we got off at the wrong stop. If you want to go there, make sure you get off at the stop that takes you to the beach. We ended up in the city and it was just like any other city except we couldn't read the signs. Villefranche was actually the highlight of the day; it is an old fishing village and is just about as quaint and picturesque as they come. Loads of people raved about Eze (which can also be reached via train, just in the opposite direction of what we went) and I really wish we had gone there instead, though Villefranche was great. Next was Livorno. We took a ship tour to Florence and Pisa which was wonderful. Our guide was Ramona who was fantastic, but something of a practical joker so you weren't sure when she was being serious or not. She started out the tour in Italian and went on for about five minutes before anyone tried to stop her. She was just pulling our leg, but I would imagine she would have done the whole day that way just to see how long it took us to speak up! We walked around Florence with a tour guide. We had earpieces to hear the guide with, but to be honest we couldn't hear that well and just ended up meandering around on our own. This is fine, but keep an eye on your guide! It is very easy to get lost or end up in someone else's group accidentally (as we did, fortunately we figured it out before we got left!). After that we went to Pisa and got to go around on our own for a while. I highly recommend the ships tour for this stop since the trains are a bit iffy and this way you get to see Florence and Pisa in one day. It is quite a ride out there so going it on your own might be tempting fate. At least if the ships tour is late getting back, they wait for you! Rome (or Civitavecchia) and Naples were the two highlights of our trip. I found some folks on the cruisecritic.com roll call for these ports and planned a private tour with a company called Benvenuto Limos (benvenutolimos.com or info@benvenutolimos.com). I cannot say enough good things about this company. They were fantastic. I emailed back and forth with Giovanni who is also one of the guides. He was incredibly helpful in setting up which tours we would do and extremely patient with all of my endless questions. We had a driver named Fabrizio for our Rome tour who was personable and fun and treated us incredibly well. We had a great time and got to see most of the big sites in Rome with stops for lunch and gelato. He was a great guide and very informative and if you can ask for him personally for this trip, I recommend it. We got a bit turned around outside the Vatican where we were supposed to meet him, but he had planned ahead and given us a cell phone so we could call him if we got lost. Of course, we were lost so we couldn't tell him where we were, but my husband convinced one of the Swiss guards outside the Vatican to take the phone and explain to him where we were. He just seemed very relieved to get us back! Giovanni himself was our guide in Naples and again, he was just wonderful. He also was very funny and informative and made sure we saw some incredible sites. We had planned to see Pompeii and drive the Amalfi Coast during our day with him (a 2 hour guided tour at Pompeii is included in the tour we chose). We did the Amalfi Coast drive first and it was just breathtaking. Giovanni is from this area and you can tell he is proud of it, as he should be. It was incredible. I let him know that I was interested in purchasing a cameo so we made it a point to stop at a place that sold them (where I found one that I loved) and we also stopped at a place that made in-laid wood items where he got us a short demonstration and then some time to shop a bit (we all did, they were beautiful items). We stopped for lunch along the way at a delicious seafood restaurant and had some time to wander around at several other places where we stopped for great views. We did Pompeii on the way back to the ship and had a knowledgeable guide take us through some of the highlights (you would need days to see everything, it is huge). If you are going to either of these ports (as well as several others in Italy, check the website), I HIGHLY recommend using Benvenuto Limos. They made these two stops the highlight of our entire vacation. The price for six of us to share a van with one driver was 600 Euros and when you break down all that we got to do and see and the personal attention that we got, it was very competitive with the tours that the ship was offering. They are also well aware of what happens if they don't get you back to the ship on time so they are very careful to schedule everything so as to get you back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. On Mykonos we took a shore excursion to Delos, which if I am not mistaken is the only excursion available at this port. It is an island of ruins and well worth the trip. We had a tour guide that walked us through the ruins explaining things as we went, but mostly we just enjoyed wandering. The only people on the island were the tour groups from the ship so it was relatively uncrowded and it was a beautiful day to boot. A trip well worth taking. We did stop in Mykonos and had souvlaki and gyros at one of the little cafes before going back to the ship. Santorini was an interesting stop. You leave the boat and then have to get to Fira by foot, donkey or cable car. Word of warning; if you are not in pretty good shape – do NOT walk! The four of us that went are all regular exercisers and we wondered if we were going to make it. Some places smell rather strongly of donkey and if you aren’t careful you might get run over if the donkeys pass you on their way back down. They move pretty fast. They do wear bells though so if you do walk and you hear the bells coming from above you – get to the inside of the path! They tend to swing wide so you won’t have any trouble if you stay on the inside. We didn’t do that and practically got trampled, fun! The town itself was really neat. It was all cobblestoned walkways and narrow alleys. There are some great shops. I bought a sterling silver ‘greek line’ necklace and earrings for 35 Euro. I suggest doing what we did and just wandering around on your own. It is pretty hard to get lost here unless you take the bus into Oia on the other side of the island (I understand that the prices are better there since it isn’t quite so touristy, but Fira wasn’t bad). Athens was probably the least favorite of all of our stops, but that isn’t saying much since we really loved pretty much every place we went. We took a ship’s excursion to the Acropolis and got to see the Olympic stadium, but that was about it. The rest of the trip was really just big city. Though to be completely forthcoming, we did fall fast asleep on the bus so they may have shown us amazing things that we just slept through. Going to the Acropolis was well worth the price of the excursion though. It was rather awe inspiring to be standing in front of something that is 2500 years old. There is a saying that Europeans think 100 miles is a long way and Americans think 100 years is a long time. There is something to be said for that. It is hard to wrap your mind around something that has existed for that long when your own country hasn’t even been around for 10% of that! Dubrovnik was something of a pleasant surprise. We weren’t sure what to expect and really didn’t have high expectations, but we ended up loving it. The ship provides bus service right to the gates of the city. It is pretty cheap (I think less than 3 euros per person) to walk the wall of the city. It goes about a mile and is a great way to spend the afternoon. There are great views of the ocean as well as the city itself. There is a maritime museum about halfway around that we stopped in more for the AC than anything else. I was hoping to see info about the building of the wall and the recent civil war, but there really wasn’t much about either of those there. Cars inside the city walls are rare to nonexistent – it is definitely a pedestrian type of place. We came down off the wall for shopping and lunch. This is a tourist paradise. Dubrovnik has seized Capitalism by both horns and gone full bore. Everyone we dealt with was extremely nice and spoke excellent English, the food was wonderful, the prices were good – I would definitely suggest this itinerary if for no other reason than to check this port out. I definite highlight! Keep in mind that they have their own unit of currency; the kuna (I think 10 kuna = 1.50 euro or thereabouts) so the prices listed are not always in euros though we used them without problem everywhere we went. They happily did the currency conversion for us and usually had no problem making change in euros. Venice was a beautiful as I had heard it would be. The sail into the city isn’t to be missed. I can never keep port and starboard straight, but just be on the front of the boat on the right hand side of the ship. If you have a balcony on that side or know someone who does, take advantage of it. It is almost a 2 hour process and it gets hot; especially since everyone else is up on the main decks doing the same thing. The city goes by pretty much underneath you so a good view is easy to come by. We were on one of the top decks though and the wind shield got in the way of a lot of the pictures we wanted to take. St Marks is easy to see as are Doges Palace and the Bridge of Sighs if you are on the right side. St marks square is fantastic for shopping. If you want anything made of Murano glass and don’t want to actually go to the island; this is a great place to get it (getting to Murano is REALLY easy. If you don’t want to book the excursion through the ship, there are representatives from the glass factory at the pier practically begging you to take a free shuttle out there for a demonstration.) I know of one couple who took the Murano/Burano tour through the ship and really enjoyed it. St Marks is also the place to buy a cameo as there are literally thousands of them available. I was a bit annoyed to find the exact same cameo I got in Florence for almost 30 euros less than what I paid for it, but oh well. If you do want one – wait for Venice! Another fun thing to do is to buy corn from the vendors in the square and feed the pigeons. They land all over you trying to get to it. This makes for some really entertaining photos! We did book a shore excursion through the ship in Venice to take the ‘Gondola Serenade’. Do not, I repeat DO NOT book this tour through Celebrity unless they have changed vendors by the time you take the trip. We actually filed a formal complaint about this tour because it was SO bad. The cost was $105 per person and you could easily get a gondola ride on your own at any one of a dozen places for about the same price. They put four people in a two person gondola so that my husband and I ended up having to sit on foot stools the whole time facing each other knee to knee (very romantic!) while the other couple in the boat sat in the seats. The gondoliers were smoking and drinking beer and it really was the most unpleasant, uncomfortable experience I can remember having on vacation. It was so bad we were laughing out loud the whole time about how ridiculous it was. The worst part was we kept passing other gondolas with only two people in them and they all seemed to be having a great time. Celebrity is usually very good about the excursions that they offer so they may well have changed vendors if they get enough complaints, but definitely check first! So I have a tendency to babble even when I type so this is probably information overload. The bottom line is this was a fantastic cruise, Celebrity is a top notch company and I would recommend this itinerary, this boat and these excursions (EXCEPT the gondola ride!) to anyone and everyone looking to have an unforgettable vacation. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
I am just back from my first cruise with Celebrity Cruises on the Millennium for 2 weeks in the Med., here is my review of the cruise... Myself and two friends, early, mid and late 20s joined Millennium in Barcelona on 24/10 after flying ... Read More
I am just back from my first cruise with Celebrity Cruises on the Millennium for 2 weeks in the Med., here is my review of the cruise... Myself and two friends, early, mid and late 20s joined Millennium in Barcelona on 24/10 after flying into the city on 23rd and staying at the Grand Marina hotel. (Really loved the hotel and was within sight of the cruise ship berth. We arrived at the terminal at 11:30 a.m. and joined a very short queue to check in. Within ten minutes we were issued with our sea pass card, which was account, ID and door key. We then boarded the ship. We were greeted in the atrium with a glass of champagne and escorted to our cabin, Sky Suite 6101. Our suite was all ready and very impressive. Shortly after our butler, Arles came along to say hello. Throughout the holiday he was totally brilliant. Now it was time to explore the ship. We were very impressed with the ship's facilities and found that a lunch buffet was already being served in the Ocean Cafe. This sure beats sitting in a waiting room to board the ship and arriving for afternoon tea. We explored all areas of the ship and checked out our table in the Metropolitan Restaurant, a table for 4 made up for the 3 of us, on second sitting. First impressions:   A very spacious ship. The dEcor is very modern and impressive. The prom deck is a little disappointing being very plain with a rubberised rather than teak finish and no windows in the superstructure of the ship alongside. All carpets and fittings look immaculate and everywhere is very clean. Bars: Good service with pleasant happy staff (ok the women in the Cova Cafe seem to have an attitude problem at times). Ocean Cafe: Good choice of food, lots of seafood. Always at least one carvery meat was available at lunchtime. Separate pasta counter where you can have pasta sauces of your choice made up. A separate sandwich making station is available too with about 15 types of bread available and a vast array of hot and cold fillings. Lots of lovely desserts there too! Really nice ice creams and sorbets were available at no charge from 12-6 at a separate ice cream bar within the Ocean Cafe. During breakfast complementary fruit juices, tea and coffee were available and during the rest of the day free fruit punch, guava, lemonade and iced tea, tea, coffee and cold milk were provided.... What a great idea. In the afternoons fresh hollowed out fruits filled with sorbet were handed out to all people on deck. Metropolitan Restaurant: A vast restaurant on 2 levels seating over 1100 people in 2 sittings, 6:30 and 8:45. We were on the lower level in the centre on a table for 3. The menus were very good with a good choice. A separate vegetarian menu was also available. A basket of fresh rolls, breads and bread sticks was provided. The breads were different every day. All meals were pre-plated rather than silver service, I found no problem with this and extra vegetables were always available. In addition to the menu other items were always available such as chicken, steak, Caesar salad etc. Wine service was very good with a separate wine waiter serving you and wines could be pre-ordered if required from the cabin interactive TV. As we had paid for the soda pass (unlimited fountain soft drinks for the duration of the cruise), we always had full glasses of soft drinks on the table. These were very efficiently replenished too. We found all the restaurant staff were great and had some great times chatting to them. Olympic Restaurant: Dining here was a great experience. The dEcor, food and service were of the highest quality. We had afternoon tea on one afternoon and dinner on one evening in the restaurant. The evening cover charge was $30 and well worth it. Cova cafe: A very nice coffee bar overlooking the atrium, serving speciality coffees and lovely pastries (you only pay for the coffee). Pool grill: Serves a nice selection of pizza, burgers and freshly made pasta form 12-6 p.m. All food was of a very high quality. Once again free drink stations were provided here too. Casino: A large Las Vegas style casino was on the ship. We had a couple of fun evenings in here on the slot machines, and did not actually lose much money. Shops: There were quite a few shops all grouped together. The duty free shop was not open at any time due to EU laws as we were not calling at any non-EU ports. Aqua Spa: A really nice enclosed pool, well more a giant Jacuzzi. Some lovely steamer chairs here and an Aqua Spa cafe providing healthier meals. The gym was very nice and overlooks the bow of the ship. I heard the treatments were good, although a little expensive. Theatre: The theatre was excellent. There were 4 production shows, a really good Irish comedian, an illusionist and some other guest musicians. The production shows were the best I have ever seen on a ship, making full use of the amazing lighting rig, the lifts and turntables on the stage and projected images. The singers and dancers were very good. The comedian (Adrian Walsh) was fantastic and had us all in stitches. The seating was of the bench type with a little table for every 2 people. This seemed to work well and it was nice to have a drink with you in the theatre. Music: Most evenings there was a great variation of music around the ship. A string quartet in the Cova Cafe, Acapella singers in various places. A group playing in the Rendezvous Lounge. A really good Spanish guitarist and singer (Pepe) at the Ocean Grill, A pianist and singer in Michael's Club and another group and DJ in the Cosmos bar (the Crows Nest to any P&Oers!) Reception desks: There was the main reception desk, and bank desk, a concierge desk and a shore excursions and future cruise bookings desk. I found separating the desks works well as if you wanted to see someone at reception you did not have a massive queue of people changing foreign currency there, as they would be at the bank. The man at the concierge desk was a genius, providing us with maps, train times and great advice at every port. Itinerary: We started out from Barcelona and called at Genoa, Livorno, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Messina, Naples, Civitavecchia, and Villefranche ending up at Barcelona 2 weeks later. From Livorno we went on a half day tour to Pisa which was very enjoyable and well organised. In Athens we caught the metro from the port to the city for 70c and had a great day walking the city. In Naples we went on a half day tour to Pompeii, a really fascinating place. In Civitavecchia we caught the train to Rome and spent the day walking around. And once again in Villefranche we caught a train to Monte Carlo and spent the day there. We arrived at all ports on time and departed on the dot at all times. In Santorini and Villefranche which were tender ports, the service was very efficient with very little waiting. When boarding after a long hot day iced flannels and drinks were handed out, a really nice feature. Cabin: The 3 of us were in Sky Suite 6101 just forward of the glass lifts on port side. The suite was lovely with a twin beds and a sofa bed. There were 3 chairs on the large balcony. Fresh drinking water, ice and fruit were provided daily. The cabin steward was very efficient and Arles our butler was a total star. If wanted a full breakfast, lunch or dinner would be provided in cabin. Afternoon tea and daily canapEs were also served. There was a 21" fully interactive TV in the cabin. Pay per view films. Shipboard account review, room service ordering, wine pre-ordering and many other things could all be accessed on the TV. I found this excellent and so much better than having to call at reception to get a printout of your account to check up on things. Along with the nightly turn down service, luxurious chocolates and a little card showing the following day's weather forecast were left on the beds. The quality of the room service food was excellent; we even pigged out on a midnight pizza each one evening. Disembarking: As we had a suite we were in the second group getting off. Our disembarkation time was 6:45 a.m!.!! A little early but I guess you can't have early boarding and late disembarking. The process went very smoothly and the cases were easy to find. We headed straight to the airport for the midday flight home. Conclusion: Overall I would say that our cruise was as good as it can get. The ship, food, entertainment and service were 5 star and we were very lucky to have consistently good weather. I cannot recommend Celebrity cruises highly enough; the value for money was great. The only weakness was the lack of self-service laundries, as these are not provided on Celebrity. I managed to get by without ironing shirts by steaming them in the shower! I am now really looking forward to our Panama Canal cruise next May on Infinity. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask away.... Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
This "review" contains a few comments and observations about our September 18-30 (2004) Mediterranean cruise aboard the Celebrity Millennium. It does not include a full review of the ship or the ports as these have been covered ... Read More
This "review" contains a few comments and observations about our September 18-30 (2004) Mediterranean cruise aboard the Celebrity Millennium. It does not include a full review of the ship or the ports as these have been covered in other reviews. However, I try to comment on items that would have been of interest to us prior to taking the cruise for anyone considering a similar itinerary. As background, my wife and I are 50 and 51 and live in Florida. We've cruised 19 times, 18 of which have been in the Caribbean and Bahamas aboard various ships in the Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and NCL lines. This was our 7th cruise with Celebrity, our second aboard the Millennium. While we have traveled outside of the US (e.g., Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore, Beijing, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and most Caribbean nations), this was our first trip of any kind to European countries. My point is that we did not know what to expect in Europe beyond what we had read about. Overall, the ship was in very good condition, food quality was very good and the service was fine (with the exception of the dining room sommelier, who was responsible for many more tables than any one person could ably cover). We chose cabin 9105, which on Millennium is a Concierge Class cabin. This was our second Concierge class cruise. We appreciated several of the "amenities" provided to this class including the choice of pillows, occasional gifts in our cabins, preferred seating (table for two, second seating), preferred embarkation and disembarkation, afternoon sweets delivered to the room, an extra social event and, in particular, the larger table and padded chairs on the balcony. These were much more comfortable than the standard balcony table and chairs, especially during our few meals on the balcony. We flew to Venice a day prior to being able to board the ship. We did research prior to arriving and knew that getting our luggage from the Venice airport to the hotel and then on to the ship would require some planning. As a result, we checked three of our bags at the Venice airport luggage holding office (3.5E per piece per day, I think) and took the Alilaguna waterbus from the airport to St. Mark's Square. When we were ready to leave for the ship the following day, we took the waterbus back to the airport, picked up our bags and took a land taxi directly to the ship. While this was relatively painless and about 30-40E cheaper than taking private water taxies, it added about two hours of travel back and forth to the airport over two days. In hindsight, it would have been preferable to arrange to split the cost of a private water taxi with other cruises (if you can) from the airport to the hotel and then on to the ship. If that's not possible, leaving your luggage at the airport works well. We stayed at the Locanda Orseolo, which we highly recommend. Our room was large (two rooms, actually) with wood floors and modern bathroom fixtures. Our large windows opened out over a small but rather active canal (complete with a few singing gondoliers). The staff was very friendly and helpful. Breakfast was a combination of self-serve buffet and made to order pancakes and quiches. By the way, although the base and foundation of the locanda are a few hundred years old, the floors with rooms were (re) built in 2002. I can't say enough about this B&B. I wish we had a few more days to spend there. (By the way, after flying overnight with little sleep, we retired for the night by 7pm. While it was tough to pass by Venice so early in the evening, we felt much, much better the next morning.) St. Mark's Square was a five minute walk from the locanda. Venice is a location that we would likely never tire of visiting given the chance. What sticks in my mind are the walks down narrow "streets" and over dozens of bridges, the ubiquitous nature of water vehicles (taxies, buses, delivery vehicles, even the police and hospital ambulances are boats), innumerable restaurants and bistros and, especially, St. Mark's Square. (We also highly recommend the Doges Palace Secret Itinerary Tour.) Last but not least, Venice is a "must see" sometime in your lifetime. The entire experience is very difficult to describe unless you've been there. This is probably not a bad time to mention money. We used Euros the entire trip, but we waited until we arrived at the Venice airport to exchange dollars for Euros. While we could have exchanged 1.37 dollars per Euro (plus a handling fee) at JFK, the exchange rate at the majority of ATMs we used during our cruise was approximately 1.22 dollars per Euro (plus a small fee in all cases). At the Venice airport, there is a currency exchange in the luggage retrieval area which charges slightly more than the ATM found just outside the luggage security area. Note that you'll need a 1 Euro coin (or was it 0.50E?) to get a baggage cart in the luggage area. Tickets for the Alilaguna waterbus can be purchased in the airport lobby. A free shuttle bus will transport you to the waterbus pier at the airport (next to the private water taxi docks.) ATMs are numerous in Venice as they were in all the ports we visited. Regarding the other ports: Dubrovnik, Croatia: A wonderful half-day visit to the old walled city, which is like something out of a fairy tale. Note that this was the only port that did not take Euros. An ATM just outside the walled city entrance provided Croatian Kunas for use during our visit. Walking along the top of the wall is a great experience but be aware that the walk to the highest areas is steep in places. We stopped to rest several times during our stroll. Pictures from the top of the wall are spectacular. Santorini, Greece: A beautiful island. We rented a car (Hertz, 80E per day) and spent 9 hours driving from the south end to the north end (Oia), with a stop in Kamari for a beachside lunch. The highlights of the day were our visits to Kamari and Ammoudi Bay, as well as shopping in Oia. Visiting the cliffside shopping and restaurant area in Oia is an absolute "must." Do not visit Santorini without visiting Oia. Athens, Greece: We took a taxi from Piraeus (the port) directly to the base of the Acropolis (for 20E but should have been about 12E). The Acropolis area is wonderful. While a visit to and pictures of the Parthenon are required, don't miss the small museum at the top of the Acropolis (free, easy walk through, many historic figures and parts of the Parthenon) and, in particular, the ancient market place area to the northwest of the Acropolis base. We had lunch in Monastiraki Square and walked to Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. From Monastiraki Square we returned to the port via the public train (about 1.5E). Note that the walk from the Piraeus train station to the ship was about 30 minutes, directly along the pier area. Finding our way from the station to the ship wasn't difficult but finding the train station walking from the ship would in my estimation be much more difficult. If you decide to take the train in both directions, make sure you have good walking shoes and good directions from the ship to the station. Naples, Italy: We spent no time in Naples. Instead, we took the public train (about 30 minute walk from the ship and not the easiest place to find on your own) to Pompeii, where we encountered about ten minutes of light drizzle, the only rain we had on the entire trip. My first 20 minutes at Pompeii were a bit underwhelming, since I had already seen plenty of ruins in Athens. However, I was much more affected after a period of time by the size of Pompeii as an ancient city. It's breathtaking to consider the devastation that was brought to such a large city and residents. I highly recommend visiting the public bath house ruins and some of the larger private residence ruins. From Pompeii we boarded the train for Sorrento, where we had lunch in the main square. After lunch we took the public bus to Positano, a wonderful ride high above the rugged coast with beautiful water. Getting off at the second Positano bus stop (I remember reading that it was the second, but I think it was the third stop), we walked down to the beach along walkways and alleyways lined with stores and restaurants. I highly recommend a visit to Positano as it's a wonderful experience. A word of caution based on personal experience: plan your time carefully, especially if you're taking public transportation as we did. It was our intention to take a hydrofoil from Positano back to Sorrento and then one from Sorrento back to Naples. However, the seas were too rough in Positano (or so the sign said - it didn't look all that rough to me) and there was no service that day. As a result, we had to reverse our trip using public transportation (bus to Sorrento, train to Naples). The bus was 30 minutes late and overcrowded. While the train was on time, we had to run from the Naples train station for a taxi back to the ship. The taxi got caught in traffic and we had to run the last few blocks to get to the ship. All passengers were to be on board by 6:45pm. We arrived at about 6:52 and were among the last to board before they pulled up the gangway and made sail. In 19 cruises, this is the closest we've come to missing our ship. I'd like to say we can laugh about it now but I can't. It was frightening. (By the way, it's my understanding that some passengers were left behind in at least two ports when they did not return in time.) Rome, Italy: We were part of a group of eight people (Cruise Critic party folks) that reserved a private driver (Pepe, who works for Daniel). From my perspective, this is the only way to see Rome in one day. We visited Vatican City, the Coliseum, the Spanish Stairs and a church with an alter displaying the chains placed on St. Peter to bring him to trial, among other areas. We also had a wonderful outdoor lunch in an obscure Roman neighborhood square. Pepe was so friendly, cooperative and knowledgeable that we requested that he be our driver the next day in Florence/Pisa (where we had also contracted with Daniel). Florence/Pisa, Italy: Pisa and Florence were wonderful but the day was highlighted by a visit to San Gimignano and a small winery/B&B in San Donato. I highly recommend a visit to the latter two if possible. Villefranche, France: Escorted by a private driver (Sylvie), eight of us visited Monte Carlo (Monaco), Cannes, Eve, and the Nice area. The day was highlighted by being driven along the Monte Carlo Grand Prix road course, lunch on the beach at Cannes and visits to Eve and another small, obscure village between Cannes and Nice. Barcelona, Spain: We stayed at the AC Diplomat and toured most of the day using the Red and Blue lines of the Bus Touristica Bus (on-off), both of which we highly recommend. Highlights were the Olympic stadium area and Gaudi's Sagruda Familia. The latter can be viewed/walked through in 30 minutes but is fascinating. We were disappointed with Las Ramblas, but perhaps we didn't visit it late enough in the evening. While this is meant to be neither a positive or negative comment, Barcelona felt like Chicago with surrounding mountains. Random comments: • The Millennium was a wonderful "floating hotel" to come back to at the end of each day in port. • Although I was told by the ship's staff that there was a 50/50 mix of Americans/non-Americans on the Millennium, our feeling is that only about 25% of the passengers were American. There seemed to be a large number of Canadian, Italian and Spanish citizens on board. This was a quiet, friendly, laid back cruise. • The weather in late September could not have been better. • We saw no shows in the Celebrity Theater. We either were too tired or were spending time in the Aqua Spa pool in the evening. • Our personal security never felt threatened on shore. Nor did we feel any anti-American sentiment during our port visits. (We hadn't expected any but thought I'd mention it anyway.) • While in port, we kept our cash, credit cards and passports in a zippered pouch that hung around my neck under my shirt. • In most ports, Diet Coke was known instead as "Coke Light." Also, quite unexpectedly, in several ports we noticed milk shakes to be a popular adult drink. • Why can Europeans, especially Italians, get by with such small cars when SUVs and large vehicles are our preference? The only American cars we saw on our trip were a Hummer, two Jeep Cherokees and about half a dozen Chrysler PT Cruisers. When I asked about American cars, our driver said that they're nice but not very widely owned due to their gasoline consumption. • Everything is more expensive than you plan for (except for wine ?). • Wear comfortable walking shoes and take drinking water with you on shore. • We were quite comfortable (and able to save a lot of money) doing the majority of land touring on our own using public transportation. However, I highly recommend a driver (or tour) in Rome and, to a lesser extent, in Florence/Pisa, Amalfi Coast (Sorrento/Positano), and the Villefranche/Nice area. • While all ports were wonderful, it is our firm intent to return to the triangle of Venice/Rome/Florence (by land) in the future. • Folks on shore were friendly and helpful, especially in Italy. • One of several nice touches by Celebrity was a poolside buffet in two ports that had late night return times, including native Greek dancers performing on deck while in Santorini. • Celebrity also allowed passengers to download digital pictures onto a server during the trip. Downloading was free. At any time (but mostly at the end of the cruise) passengers then transferred their pictures to CDs at a cost of $15 each. With roughly 400 pictures, this was a valuable service for us. Leave plenty of time (roughly one hour per CD) to do the CD burning if you wait to the last day of the cruise. • Thanks to Irene for arranging the drivers in port. • I hate to say it, but the first few days back at home were kind of depressing. We really missed the culture and neighborhoods that we encountered on the trip. It makes one realize what a young country we are. Last but not least, when asked by our friends about this trip, we've responded "it was the trip of a lifetime." Indeed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Note: This was a chartered cruise with Atlantis Events. Embarkation: When flying to Venice, Italy from the United States, you virtually have to connect some where. During this connection or even getting into Venice, several of us had our ... Read More
Note: This was a chartered cruise with Atlantis Events. Embarkation: When flying to Venice, Italy from the United States, you virtually have to connect some where. During this connection or even getting into Venice, several of us had our luggage shipped to other places or left at the connection airport! Celebrity did a great job providing us with extra complimentary clothing to change into while waiting for the bags to arrive. Getting on the ship was easy and painless once they started boarding everything was fine. Ports of Call: Extraordinary. This cruise was once in a lifetime for me. Seeing the Olympics in their birthplace, Athens, and being there for the closing ceremonies. Mykonos, Greece was highly overrated with so many damn people crowding into this little ally way for the sponsored club but I went off and had my own fun and it was still a great time. I loved Capri, Italy, passed up the ship shore excursion to go back to that island again! Ship Itself: By far Celebrity is the best ships for elegance I've sailed on thus far. As the lesbian comedian Shann Carr joked when I was on the January charter, same ship, that I was closest located to the stairwell with the heads on them! LOL. I'm a sucker for elegance and this ship is the best I've been on so far. Nice combination of wood and decor to truly impress! Stateroom: It was an interior cabin and the only interior cabin located aft on deck 7! Since I was in the share program, I was randomly assigned a roommate who sleep through most of the parties and was getting up when I was just getting back! LOL. Oh well, the room itself was very nice, nothing out of the ordinary. Very clean and very friendly room attendants who were extra diligent about making sure our rooms were up to par and even left some towel animals, common to other cruise lines but not Celebrity. Nice touch and I rewarded him with a bonus tip at the end of their niceness. Nicest stewards I've had yet (and this was my sixth cruise)! Service: The people at guest relations were incredible. They found my luggage in Paris de Gaulle and were all over Air France to get it to the ship before it left! It arrived just prior to sailing and everything was ok, still, they wanted to make sure this didn't dampen my spirits so they gave me complimentary toiletries, clothing and a bottle of champagne! I personally had to thank them for their nice efforts for making it a pain free time! They said, no thank you for being so nice about it. I guess when people lose luggage they take it out on them?? :( The dining room service was fabulous, our popular girl onboard was Daniella! She was a hoot! Finally got to sit in her section the last night onboard. All the rest of the waiters and waitresses had tricks and were very much enjoying our presence and let us know that by good service given! Food: Thus far sailing on every cruise ship, between RCCL, NCL, Princess and Celebrity, I can't really rate Celebrity as standing out but I can say it was comparable to those lines in presentation and exquisite taste. If I'm not cooking it, I'm not complaining if it's cooked to my liking (as in rare). Entertainment: Since Atlantis brings on their own and it's what you sail them for, I shall just comment about the Celebrity shows that were run on the off nights. FantaSea was incredible the second time around and so were the rest of the Broadway style shows. As for Atlantis entertainment, those HoneyBoys still have loads of work to do with their sound, still horrible. Comedian Shann Carr, as always incredible and so was the hypnotist! The hypnotist really got some Brit guy on board, who I saw on the last night of the cruise and said the magic word and he said the code word he was hypnotized with!! I certainly hope the hypnotist got that out of him because saying "God Bless America" every time the code word is said could get you in trouble in England amongst the commoners!! LOL Overall, this was the best cruise experience of my life because of the unique itinerary combined with the fact that I was sailing with a crowd that I can really be laid back with. The ship was incredible, food was great, service beyond a doubt the best I've had and the entertainment was the same as I've come to expect from Atlantis. Celebrity Millennium is a highly recommended ship to sail on in my book! Bon Voyage :) Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Just came back from a glorious 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise aboard Millennium. This is my 3rd Mediterranean cruise and my 5th cruise on Celebrity. After 20+ cruises, I stopped counting how cruises I've been on. I tend to get ... Read More
Just came back from a glorious 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise aboard Millennium. This is my 3rd Mediterranean cruise and my 5th cruise on Celebrity. After 20+ cruises, I stopped counting how cruises I've been on. I tend to get critical at this point since I have plenty to draw from. Ship itself -- not impressive. I prefer the dramatic atriums some cruise lines have which Celebrity avoids. Grade: B Shops on the Emporium -- good layout and plenty of stores compared to most cruise lines. Not as many interesting things to buy though. Grade B+ Service -- good. Although I miss the little shows the waiters put on. They did one but it lacked energy which most Caribbean sailings tend to put on. Grade: B+ Cabin -- good. I had a category 2B with veranda. Nothing fantastic but ample like any other cruise lines. The attendants were great. Grade: A- Celebrity Theater -- poor layout and unimpressive. The SHOWS are WOW! They have A+ shows and excellent performers. Grade: B- for the theater, A+ for the shows. Casino -- good size. Grade: B+ Food -- good. Grade: B+. Computer at sea -- very expensive and slow. Grade: D Room Service -- excellent. Food is very good, specially the soups. Grade: A- Ports of Call -- great. Although they shoud have warned those who took the Rome On Your Own tour that it was a public holiday and all the shops were closed. We just wanted to shop since we've been to Rome many times. It made for a very long, hot, sticky day just killing time. Guess it didn't hurt to see the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Plaza Navona, and toss 3 coins on the Trevi one more time. We got to practice a favorite European past time, people watching, as we ate slowly in an open cafe at the P. Navona. Whoopee. Grade: B+ Embarkation -- poor and not as organized in Barcelona. Grade: C Disembarkation -- excellent and smooth in Venice. Grade: A+ Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
My wife and I sailed on the May 21st sailing of the Celebrity Millennium in Europe. We flew from San Francisco and I'm 49 (13 cruises) and my wife is 55 and in wheelchair (5 cruises). EMBARKATION: Smooth as it has ever been, but ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the May 21st sailing of the Celebrity Millennium in Europe. We flew from San Francisco and I'm 49 (13 cruises) and my wife is 55 and in wheelchair (5 cruises). EMBARKATION: Smooth as it has ever been, but then we did get there kinda late (3:30) and the ship wasn't sailing from Venice until the next day so no hurry. CABIN: Handicapped cabin #2022. Very nice with PLENTY of space, especially in the bathroom. Lots of drawers and shelves and comfortable beds with a small foldout couch and chair. Only drawback was opening of bathroom down would block access to part of the cabin by a wheelchair passenger. You would need to close the door to get by. FOOD: We had been warned that the quality of food had gone down on Celebrity, but not on our cruise. The food was wonderful all over the ship. Great choices at breakfast at the Ocean Grill. You can use the buffet, have eggs cooked special, have a special omelette or very nice was the waffle grill in the back. Can be had with warm syrup, sugar free syrup, melted butter, cherries in syrup or even a delicious orange butter. We had also been warned that Celebrity didn't know how to do pasta being a french kitchen. Let me tell you, being Italian, I know pasta and all of it I had was excellent. They didn't have that much in the dining room but did have one lunch buffet that was all Italian. It was wonderful. Great sauces and perfect pasta, especially the lasagna. You could also get custom pasta daily at the same stations you get omelettes in the morning. Never did venture to the Ocean Grill for dinner so cannot comment. The food and service in the dining room was excellent. Our waiter, Andreas, was from Croatia, and our assistant waiter, Oman, was from Indonesia. The menus were varied and although the same items were repeated (ie chicken or veal), they were prepared differently. We did eat in the Olympic dining room the evening before our 4th anniversary. And it was every bit as good as people had said. The service is amazing. I'm sure that if you dropped a knife they would catch it before it hit the ground. Each and every dish was perfectly prepared. Taking previous recommendations, I had the goat cheese souffle for an appetizer and it was wonderful. After dinner they brought us an anniversary cake and the violin player played for my wife and I. After trying the cake, my wife had ordered the chef's desert surprise, a sampling of 6 small deserts. I had the chocolate souffle with hot sauce poured in the middle. Excellent. They then brought out a 3-tiered plate of petit fours which we sampled but nearly had to be wheeled out after 3 hours of eating. We were just too tired to try any of the late night buffets or the bites they passed out late at night. But did see the fruit buffet display one night and it was lovely. It's also nice to know Celebrity has made the duties of the sommelier much easier now. They are only in charge of wine. There is another person in charge of taking other drink orders, alcohol, soft drinks or coffees. Makes for very good service and kudos to sommelier Gitana on our cruise, a lovely lady with a great personality. PORTS: In Venice Celebrity provides a complimentary shuttle from where the ship docks to St. Mark's square, a nice feature not all ships do. DUBROVNIK: Again they provide a shuttle to the center of the walled city. A lovely city with very friendly people and nice prices on lace and tablecloths (better than Venice we found). ATHENS: We had a private guide here for the day who picked us up at the ship at 8 am along with another couple we met here from Colorado. We got our driver through Spiros who came highly recommended here and his name was Dmitris. Very nice distinguished gentleman who drove us around Athens in his Mercedes taxi. He will be driving for NBC when the Olympics begin. He took us first to the Acropolis to beat some of the crowds. Only bad thing was the wind was blowing 35 MPH on the top of the hill, but worth every minute to see. He also took us 40 miles outside Athens to Sounion to visit the ruins there. Then we visited a Greek restaurant nearby right on the water in a very quiet bay. An unusual restaurant in that the seating was on the water side and the cooking part is across the 2-line road. The waiters had to walk the food across the road! SANTORINI: Every bit as beautiful as people had said. We tendered into the town of Fira. But most of the town is on the top of the hill. You can walk (500 very long steps uphill), you can take the small funicular cars (6 per car) or take a donkey ride up the same steps you walk (therefore if you want to walk you do it early in the day!). I visited twice, once before lunch and again in the afternoon. Took the funicular up and down the first time and up again the second time. I rode the donkey down and that was fun once I got in synch with the donkey. Very nice shopping here for souvenirs and things native to Greece. NAPLES: We took a taxi to visit the Archeological museum where most of the items from Pompeii are being shown. Was fantastic touring the museum and seeing all the ancient items. ROME: We had a private guide here also with our friends Charlie and Betty from Colorado. Found him online and his name was Angelino. He was tremendous and took us everywhere in Rome, even some places I don't think cars were allowed. We saw an awful lot in a day. And he took us to a restaurant his family likes and the food was fantastic. FLORENCE: My wife and I were going to take the train from Livono into Florence but she had gotten worn out and stayed behind to rest. Was very easy to take the train and only cost 11.6 euros round trip. Just remember to have your ticket stamped at the machine near the trains. One couple didn't and got fined onboard. Was easy to take a taxi to the station in Livorno, buy a ticket and hop the train. Was in Florence by 10:20. Had a reservation to visit the Academia Museum and had a great time. Lovely 15th century paintings and of course the David which was larger than I thought. VILLEFRANCE: Had been here once before and took my wife (after the tender ride) for a stroll along the waterfront. We went back for lunch and I came back in the afternoon. Tried to take the train to Monaco but missed it by 2 minutes and another one was nearly an hour away, didn't want to wait. Thought about Nice instead but just when I was confirming the schedule, that train pulled up. Not enough time to get a ticket and get to the other side of the tracks. Took a small tram that is near the dock for a tour that showed the area including the bordering town of Beaulieu. BARCELONA: My wife and I were in the first group off the ship despite our flight not being till Noon. It was because the handicapped transfer we had asked for was ready and we hopped aboard for the ride to airport. Beat all the crowds. Flew from Barcelona to Munich to connect to a Lufthansa flight to San Francisco. Got lucky to be upgraded to business class seats in Munich for the 11 hour flight. That was TREMENDOUS. All in all, having been on 13 cruises (and numerous lines) and my wife 5, we both felt this was a runaway winner for the best cruise. Great itinerary, lovely ship, but even better service and food than we could have hoped for. Can't wait for our next trip which will be on Celebrity!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM, 5/21/04, Venice to Barcelona, Mediterranean 13 Day Itinerary. Submitted by: RADGroup@aol.com Flight from Fresno, CA to SFO (5-20-04) UAL; SFO to Frankfurt to Venice (5-21-04) Lufthansa Business Class. I nicknamed ... Read More
CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM, 5/21/04, Venice to Barcelona, Mediterranean 13 Day Itinerary. Submitted by: RADGroup@aol.com Flight from Fresno, CA to SFO (5-20-04) UAL; SFO to Frankfurt to Venice (5-21-04) Lufthansa Business Class. I nicknamed our cruise "Mama Bird Kicks the Chicks Outta the Nest Tour" since we were celebrating our two sons (ages 18 and 22) traveling with us as adults for the first time. My husband and I (he is 52, I am 49), were also celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary. This was my 2nd Celebrity cruise following a cruise on the Mercury to Alaska with my sister and mother a couple of years ago. This cruise was the first Celebrity cruise for my husband and two sons. It was by far the best cruise I've been on and my husband and boys were thoroughly impressed with our ship and with the Celebrity cruise line. Celebrity is a wonderful cruise line -Celebrity strives for excellence and it shows. Celebrity has some of the best crew to passenger and space to passenger ratios in the industry. Celebrity's M class ship, Millennium, made a very positive impression and we look forward to cruising with them again. Celebrity knows how to treat passengers "famously". (Believe me, I had to fly to LA the day after our return and train a new batch of employees the day after we returned -- I kept waiting for my steward to appear!) I was pleased to see Celebrity was still striving for excellence and was impressed with the improvements in their Entertainment productions since my last voyage with them. **Note** Any criticisms or recommendations in this review are intended to be constructive and are offered in hopes that someone from Celebrity will read it. THE SHIP The Millennium is beautiful; it is designed to make the most out of the available space. We particularly appreciated the positive use of space planning; although the Millennium was at full capacity it did not feel crowded at all. The flow from one public area to another was very logical and smooth. The dEcor was elegant and sophisticated. The ship itself was kept very clean and I was impressed with the continual painting and maintenance that was being done. (This seemed to be a bone of contention in past years). The crew was unobtrusive in the completing of their duties; in fact, I had one of the workers call down to me when I tried to sit on a lounger beneath the mast pole he was painting! The artwork on the ship was aesthetically pleasing and accented the feeling of spaciousness and elegance. The pool area was well designed. We never had a problem getting lounges (especially when painting was underway! (LOL!). While it was crowded near the pool on sea days, we were able to locate chairs easily. I did have a slight issue with certain people pulling up their chairs too close, but that was not the ship's problem and that only happened once! The pool butlers were attentive and efficient about removing towels from the chairs as were the bar attendants in making the rounds for drink orders. Our boys quickly learned if they ordered four beers from the pool bar they got the fifth one free PLUS they came in a bucket of ice. (Oh, AND no more said about that bar bill ... OMG!) Another comforting touch was when the pool attendants passed out chilled towels poolside. On sea days, the sorbet parade occurred around 2 PM and was a hit. The citrus sorbet was very refreshing. Usually the parade was followed by a round of Music Trivia or some other audience-involved activity. The Duo Mr. Jones & Me played poolside and they were pretty upbeat and kicky playing apropos cruise songs like Gloria Estefan, etc. The Aqua Spa was fabulous as usual. I had a great massage which I scheduled immediately upon embarkation. I booked it for the early AM of our first sea day which I figured would be a safe time - of course, we soon learned that our Captain's Club and Cruise Critic activities would conflict with this appointment. (Murphy's Law, I suppose ...) I was disappointed to learn when touring the Millennium Aqua Spa that the Thallasotherapy pool was open to the public rather than requiring a pass as was the case on Mercury. Consequently, with the thallasotherapy pool open to the public it was always crowded and was just not very appealing. I did not use it once whereas I used it on a daily basis on Mercury. We enjoyed the bars and lounges. Unfortunately, we discovered the Martini bar one of our final evenings and totally missed out on the martini sampler. We heard it was a great way to try new offerings. We did enjoy a cocktail now and then during the cruise and enjoyed the variety of bars and lounges. Being from California, the smoking does bother us and we found that we just didn't stay anywhere it was smoky for very long. Fortunately, the casino was very smoky so we left that venue for our sons! (Thank Goodness...they were lucky!) We found Michael's club was a terrific place for a relaxing cocktail in a quiet atmosphere. We loved the warm intimate environment. Cosmos was a nice dance club. We enjoyed dancing here at the beginning of the cruise but didn't frequent this as much as we would have liked. It could either be empty or packed depending on what time you went. Things picked up a bit later and our sons enjoyed frequenting the club. I liked the DJ - he picked up on our ages the moment we walked in the door and started playing age-specific music. I didn't even wait for my husband to join me on the dance floor! The Extreme Sports bar was a bit disappointing. My sons felt the lack of current programming made it hard to keep up with their current teams', games and scores. Football teams were making their cuts and Heaven knows... my guys are not happy when they are not being kept in the loop... (They did check the internet for scores, cuts, playoff data, etc.). Words and Notes were a nice touch. We didn't use them much, but the boys visited Notes quite often and separately, enjoying the privacy. We noticed other folks had rented the MP3 players from Guest Relations but we did not take advantage of this. We browsed by the gym but unfortunately never had a chance to visit since we were out so early every day and relaxing by the pool in the afternoon. This area had a nice selection of equipment and was kept very clean. Although I used it everyday on my cruise to Alaska I just didn't find the time while on this cruise. The boys used it for a day or two, but they said they too were too wiped out to enjoy it. The photography area was convenient and we took advantage of many sittings. They actually offered photo taking every evening not just on the formal nights. We rented tuxes onboard for the boys (which up until our first dinner they refused to do - score one for mom!) so of course we made certain to have a lot of pictures taken, and we purchased many as well. We also purchased the cruise in review video in which we found we were featured! It was $24.95 and it will be mailed to us in a few weeks. . OUR CABINS Our CC (Concierge Class) stateroom with Verandah (9097) was midship on the Sky deck. Our two boys were in a 2B Penthouse deck stateroom with balcony (6057). The design of both stateroom/cabins was similar and typical Celebrity. There was sufficient storage and closet space for my husband and me in 9097 and for the boys in 6057. Each room had two double closets with a tie/belt rack and lower hanging bars that folded down if needed. A single closet adjacent to the double closet had 6 drawers, a few shelves, and a safe. The staterooms differed slightly in size; ours was 191 sq ft with a 58 ft balcony, the boys room was 170 sq ft with a 40 ft balcony. Both rooms had an entry which opened to a hall which led past the bathroom on the right and the closet on the left. We were able to accommodate our clothing in the drawers and closet and our luggage fit safely under the bed. The main area of our cabin had a very comfortable queen size bed. The boys had two double beds. A sofa, table, and two chairs were located in our seating area. We had a desk with two cabinets for storing our cameras, film, suntan lotion, etc. while we used the other cabinet for our home bar accoutrements. We had additional storage in the nightstand drawers. Both rooms had TV's and mini-bars. Power outlets were by the desk and we brought power chords from home for both rooms which proved helpful. Since we were in a Concierge Class room our bathroom was slightly larger than the boys, and it had a great shower massage head. We had a shampoo dispenser in the shower, an assortment of soaps, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner as well as the requisite cotton balls, q-tips, and shower caps. We received a complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival, binoculars (which were of surprising quality) and we had fresh fruit and flowers daily. As mentioned earlier, our balcony was larger than our sons. We had cushions on our chairs and a nice table. Our sons, after seeing our setup, took their cocktail table from their room and set it on the deck. It actually made more room for them in their cabin as they preferred to sit outside anyway. The views from our midship room were terrific; prior to the cruise I heard a lot of hooey RE: the Sky deck CC rooms and balconies (Rooms had an overhang (yes), it wasn't sunny (it was sunny enough), the overhang was obstructing (NOT!), it was noisy (Didn't hear a thing!); I tell you, we found the rooms to be delightful! We had views FORE and AFT along the entire port side of the ship. The boy's balcony on the Penthouse floor was situated more FORE of ours on the port side and they had lifeboats directly below them, however, they found that did not bother them at all. Both cabins had overhead lights controlled by a switch near the desk panel. My husband and I decided we would just like to take a future cruise to sit on the balcony! ARRIVAL: Upon arrival in our cabin we noticed some areas that were not quite up to our expectations; but considering how quickly they turn the cabins, it was not the result of spot cleaning that was at fault! The carpets could use a good overall steam cleaning, but the rest of the cabin appearance and cleanliness was good. My suggestion is that Celebrity devote some TLC to the carpets at the next dry-dock or break in cruise routing. Our cabin steward, Zaldy, was very good with the day-to-day cleaning of the bathroom, main vacuuming, etc. Prior to this cruise I was concerned about the reports of noise above the sky deck. Our cabin was situated directly below the jogging track and buffet area. It was very quiet. We did not hear anything like others have reported regarding the crew moving furniture and hosing down the deck at ungodly hours of the morning; but then again, we were probably off the ship by then! I did hear an occasional chair scraping but nothing out of the ordinary. I would not hesitate to be in this cabin on this level again. We had plenty of privacy on the balcony, and had sufficient sun and shade. I didn't feel there was any breach of privacy whatsoever. DINING Metropolitan Restaurant, (main seating, table #535) - We were seated at a table for 10; but to our luck the other diners seated with us decided to move to dine with friends prior to our first meal! We had a table of 10 for the 4 of us! With two college age sons, one 6'3 and the other 6'1 and 250 lbs, and a husband of 6' and 200 lbs, we couldn't have fared better! A little leg room was nice... believe me! The restaurant dEcor and ambiance was very nice. We had a great porthole view of the sea from our table. We enjoyed the views from our table and once when there was an emergency on board we noticed they covered the portholes to mask that we were not leaving port on time. I don't think anyone else noticed. The porthole coverings used on the formal nights were quite attractive and afforded a desired ambiance, however I wish they wouldn't lower them until after sunset because you do you miss the view. We enjoyed the string quartet but found it was difficult to hear them from our table. Food ranged from excellent to very good. We did not have to send one meal back. I was a bit surprised there were not as many fish entrees as I would have liked but we honored our waiter's recommendations and he never steered us wrong! I probably ate more beef than I have in years, but it was worth it! We made the acquaintance of the dining room Maitre'D, Vlady, on our first evening and he insured that we had a lovely dining experience for the extent of our cruise. He arranged to have an antipasto plate of prosciuto, tomatoes and mozzarella for us prior to each evening's dining. The food was as good as I remember it to be on the Mercury cruise to Alaska a couple of years before. Excellent beef, lobster, salmon, and rack of lamb were featured. The appetizers and soups were consistently excellent - My sons ate foods I never thought they would enjoy: cream of asparagus, duck consommE, cream of cucumber, gazpacho, seafood gumbo, cream of broccoli, escargot. We also enjoyed our salads enormously; partly because one son requested a special salad of "iceberg lettuce" with creamy Roquefort dressing which was not on the menu. Both sons, and then my husband, were thrilled with the chef's willingness to accommodate this request. It wasn't long before we noticed the Roquefort dressing became an addition to the menu for the duration of our cruise! The desserts were fabulous - although I stopped indulging after the first night. The rest of the family continued to enjoy dessert right up through the last day! We enjoyed the baked Alaska parade on the last formal evening and we were surprised when we were presented with an Anniversary cake both in the Olympic Room and then at our Main seating the next day! What a group! Our waiter Angelci was from Macedonia and he was truly outstanding. The assistant waiter Da Dong (from Bali) was a hoot and was very attentive. My boys (ah, good Italian boys) are major bread eaters and short of bringing the baker to the table our food crew kept the bread basket refilled! Angelci was very good at letting us know what was good and what was NOT recommended. He and the restaurant manager seemed genuinely interested in our opinion and in making certain we were satisfied. Our wine sommelier, Catina from Lithuania was wonderfully friendly and very helpful. We brought a lot of our own wine and she seemed thrilled to have our business. (We noticed there weren't many bottles of wine ordered in general). The Olympic - Wow! What a divine evening. This dinner was an unbelievably outstanding and a wonderful treat. I fell in love with the Wine Room and reserved it for our anniversary. What a beautiful room! The room was octagonal in shape with wooden and glass wine cabinets lining the walls of the room. Glass doors protected the wine bottles; I was told one bottle was priced at $12,400.00! I had the goat cheese soufflE, the rack of lamb, several delicious selections from the cheese cart, and the chocolate soufflE with hot coffee sauce for dessert. We were surprised when the maitre'D brought out a cake for our Anniversary! The wait staff sang "Happy Anniversary" to us and we took pictures. What a delightful evening! As if this wasn't enough, we had cucumber soup at the beginning of our meal and then after our cake a selection of petit fours for dessert. The food and presentation were amazing. My husband had the French onion soup, which was the best he has ever had. One son had escargot and another son had the lobster bisque. The staff was attentive and most entertaining. We had our room attendant, Zaldy, deliver three of our own California wines beforehand and the maitre'D told us he could sell them for 3 times what we paid for them (We elected to drink them). I did splurge and had a nice glass of French Champagne with my appetizer. The Assistant Maitre'D was in charge of serving us and our Sommelier was delightful! He had been scheduled to work at the French Laundry prior to this engagement but could not because his Visa did not come through in time; we had many stories to share with him. He was young yet very knowledgeable. This dining experience was a great Celebrity innovation! The $30 per person surcharge was well worth it. We tipped extra since we felt it was so deserved. Ocean Cafe - We had breakfast here once as a family but since I am not a breakfast eater nor do I like buffets, this was not my preference. The food was ok, but then the highest I would ever rate a buffet is "ok". Our boys ate there for a couple of days, and then we all decided to have our respective breakfasts in our rooms. We could watch the port activities from our balconies and eat breakfast at leisure before the day began. Mast Bar- We found this option on our last day. One of our sons had been dying for a sub sandwich and they made them here to order! The deck was beautiful - the fore location a little windy, but most enjoyable. Aqua Spa Cafe - Another wonderful addition to Celebrity Dining! The food here was fabulous- light, tasty, and just enough. I enjoyed this immensely. The selections were delightful and a perfect compliment to basking in the sun by the pool! Sushi Bar - We never found this and I must say after 13 days I was in sushi withdrawal. I gather the hours of operation must have conflicted with our early dinner seating, or... Could it be...my husband purposely diverted my attention elsewhere? Riviera Pool Grill - This became our hang-out after returning from our shore excursions. They had delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries with a few other accompaniments. This was very convenient and they had a great beer selection (Yeah -Red Stripe!) on ice. Ice cream bar - My boys (including my husband) frequented this more than I cared to know about. Evening pizza and pasta - Another place given a good workout by my boys. This was great since we had the main seating and occasionally the boys would be hungry again later. Cova Cafe - We really didn't frequent the cafe because we enjoyed breakfast in our rooms. We also missed the afternoon snacks here and I gather this is where you may also purchase soda cards here. We did not. Midnight Bites - This was a great concept however we were always conked out by then. Our sons' did partake once or twice. The "bites" served in the lounges were also a nice touch (they also did this on the Mercury). Since we had a CC room we were served our canapEs in our room a touch we thoroughly enjoyed. Midnight Buffet - This was presented once during the cruise. We were so tired we did not attend. I know from a prior cruise that it takes them hours and hours to prepare and display everything. Often diners attend only to take photos of the stunning ice sculptures and beautifully arranged delicacies. I have always thought this an extremely odd practice. All in all the variety of dining choices was very pleasing and the availability was very good with a variety of food offered frequently throughout the day. The options were varied and the food was as good as the last time we cruised. We were all very happy with the choices. THE CREW The few crewmembers already mentioned were wonderful. Everyone was genuinely friendly and seemed very happy. The service was prompt and attentive. We enjoyed talking and joking with many of the staff - they were all delightful! ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director - Edwin Rojas - What a voice! I never tired of listening to him. He announced that he was retiring the last day of the cruise to spend some time with his wife and sons; I hope he will be back soon. Port and Shopping Guide- John. John highlighted many of the "select" shops safe for our shopping excursions. I did buy a nice onyx and diamond ring at one store in Santorini that was a recommended shop but I did not notice any "added benefit" associated with my purchase. Sustained - A cappella group - A nice group with a select range of music. Mr. Jones and Me - Duo - Very enjoyable. Mrs. Jones had a beautiful voice. They played a nice selection of typical tunes (Gloria Estefan) poolside while branching into others in the evening at the Cosmos dance club. By the end of the week the poolside music had become a bit repetitive. Coco Band - They were not for us but filled the 60-80 year old age niche. Many passengers enjoying listening and dancing to them. We saw many excellent dancers. Pepe Ayala - Guitar player - Very enjoyable; he was out on the aft grill deck outdoors. The cigar and other smokers would hang out here, and as my son erroneously read from the daily itinerary, "cigar smoking under the stairs" -(uhmmm..."stars") - the smoke really wasn't bothersome with the fresh air. Bob Arno - Comedian - Interactive Pick pocket - Absolutely hilarious . He was very talented and had the audience in stitches (and short their wallets, watches, money clips, etc.) Mary Amanda - Harp- Very talented and lovely. Nathaniel Reed - Pianist - Michael's Club Another extremely talented performer. Also, he is funny and witty. He played a nice varied selection. DJ Yvon -DJ Cosmos - Awesome. He had the knack to play appropriate age-specific music when you walked in the door! He made you want to get up and dance!! The Celebrity Singers and Dancers- As I mentioned earlier, we met one of the singers and two of the dancers the first day of the cruise and they were adorable! Of the two girls we met, one was obviously a gifted cheerleader and gymnast, and the other had the benefit of a fabulous ballet background. Their shows were great! All in all, the shows were much improved over what I remember on Mercury Alaska. KIDS/TEENS CLUB We did not have a chance to view these areas. PORTS OF CALL / SHORE EXCURSIONS Venice - Friday May 21, 2004 We boarded the ship following our delayed flight arrival from SFO to Frankfurt. Venice Limo picked us up at the airport and delivered us to the cruise terminal prior to the arrival of the cruise buses. We checked in quickly and the Captains Club afforded us a most timely embarkation. We investigated the ship, our rooms, and met our room attendants. Later we toured the bars and other public areas. The boys wanted to take a nap before dinner and as I expected, we did not see them the rest of the evening. My husband and I took advantage of the open seating in the dining room and we had a very pleasant evening. I walked over and found where our regular First Seating table was and was pleased it was near a window. In talking with the Maitre'D, he advised me that our prior tablemates were going to be moving to sit with friends of theirs at the later seating. I was thrilled we would have a table of 10 just for our family! I asked him if we could keep the large table and just set the service for the four of us rather than moving in a smaller table - he was very pleased since they preferred not to change the usual seating pattern. Venice -Day 2 We decided to go into Venice early since we all had a good nights sleep. We were among the first off the ship and we enjoyed the lack of tourists and crowds in Venice. Venice was a most interesting place. The square was almost empty (except for the pigeons) and it was enjoyable to look at the Basilica and the Campanile without the crowds. We got to peek inside the church before the tours and the church interiors were absolutely gorgeous! We walked around the curving streets but it was too early for anything to be open so we headed down to look at the bridges. We walked around the city, looked at the bridges and the shops and took a lot of pictures. At one point I caught a woman sticking her hand in my husband's backpack. She left immediately after squarely looking me in the eye. We stopped at the Metropole Hotel for coffee and juice and sat out on a quiet patio. The hotel seemed rather stuffy and small although it is a recommended hotel in Venice. The use of marble was beautiful, but our family decided we wouldn't want to stay there for any length of time. Once it started getting crowded in Venice we headed back to the ship. We changed into our swimsuits and went out to the Riviera Grill and Pool. We spent couple of hours lounging in the sun and then attended the Life Boat Drill. At 3 PM we went out on the deck for the Bon Voyage party. We met with Elisabeth the social hostess and remade our acquaintance with Rebecca and Kim, both dancers with the Celebrity Singers and Dancers. Croatia - Day 3 We woke up early and watched as we pulled into the seaport. The port was wide and beautiful. There was a huge bridge near where we moored the ship. I called the boys and had them look out as we approached the dock. We were off the ship by 7AM and went into Croatia, boarding a bus on the dock that was provided for our use. We elected to see Croatia on our own and we had a ball! The city was Phenomenal! What a fortification! To think that the architecture dated from the 6th century was amazing! We were impressed with the walled city and amazed at the number of steps that led down from the fortress into the city at measured junctures. These steps crossed little avenues complete with eateries, pubs, shops, and other businesses. We found a great little pub which served great pizza and beer. The pub had a large CD collection above and behind the bar and the pub tender was the resident DJ as well. He played great music and we lounged, ate pizza and drank beer. The resident cat was stretched out on a bench and did not move the entire time we were there. Once back on board the ship we planned our evening. We had dinner with the boys and attended the Captains Gala Toast then attended the Spectacle of Broadway, which featured the Celebrity Singers and Dancers. The show featured the Broadway shows Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Chicago, and others I have forgotten. We were impressed. At Sea - Day 4 We left Croatia last evening and spent the day sailing to Greece. Today was our first official sea day. The seas were a little rocky last night but not bad. My younger son said he had toppled over while in the shower the night before, but given the space in the shower and his size, I didn't take it too seriously. Since he had also been in the Casino and bar-hopping most of the night, I gave it even less notice. I had scheduled my massage at 9AM; so the boys (including hubby) were on their own to have breakfast and explore. While I felt I had a good massage, I also felt the masseuse was really pushing the merchandise. I bought some shower gel and aromatherapy oil. I got out of the Spa a bit later than I planned since the spa was very busy on the first sea day. I arranged to meet my husband at 10:15 at the spa but of course he was not where he said he would be, or I was a few minutes late, probably a bit of both. I looked around at the places where I thought he might be (the Sports Bar, Pool Bar, etc.) then went up to the stateroom. He was not there either. Since our cruise critic meeting was at 10:00 and I knew I was already late, I dashed off a note that I missed him and would catch him at the meeting. On my way down to Michael's club, I looked for him in the stores and casino and finally got to Michael's Club about 10:35. The CC group was just disbanding and my husband had already left. Since we had our CC Anniversary Party Scheduled for 11:30, I went back up to the room. My husband had been back and he had left me a note! I headed to the disco for the Anniversary party. As expected, when I arrived, my husband wasn't there, so I went back up to the room. Our Steward/room attendant, Zaldy, said my husband just came back and left and said he would meet me at the party. Believe me; I did not receive a very gracious welcome when I finally caught up with him! We did enjoy the party and were impressed with the number of couples whom had been married 50 years or greater. The winning couple was married 55 years! We checked out our pictures at the Photo Shop - they were quite good and we purchased a few. We went up to the Pool and met the boys and got some sun. That afternoon after lunch we attended a wine seminar with Adolfo Alarcon, the winemaker from Kendall-Jackson. It was a very nice seminar. We retired for our afternoon canapEs and later met the boys for dinner. Athens-Day 5 While it was still dark, I watched the ship sail into port and then watched the sunrise. We were cleared by 7:30 AM, which was much earlier than our scheduled time. We were the first off the ship. We asked John, the shopping guide how much to expect to pay for a taxi to the Acropolis, he told us $25 -35 was the going rate. We found a taxi driver who drove us into Athens. We saw the stadium that was being built for the Olympics. We were amazed at how our driver backed up on the Freeway and into the entry lane for the opposing traffic. He backed all the way up the on-ramp then flipped a U-turn! We were aghast! We came eye-to-eye with a woman attempting to merge onto the Freeway going the proper direction. She did not seem alarmed. We were among the first to enter the Acropolis and spent most of the morning exploring before any tour groups appeared! We saw the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, the Dionysus and Odeon theatres, the Ancient Agora, the Athens stadium and finally, the Plaka. It was very windy at the top of the Acropolis 30-40 mph winds but we got some great unobstructed pictures since we arrived so early. We spent an hour or so in the cafe at the Acropolis and then caught a taxi back to the ship. Amazingly and after much difficulty, we caught a taxi just dropping off a fare - he drove us in a new Mercedes sedan and charged us $4.80 for our return trip to the ship! Wow, did we get gouged going into town! Santorini - Day 6 - Wednesday We awoke early again and watched our ship head into port; we watched the sunrise over the hills. We had decided against doing a tour here and we really lucked out in doing so. I don't know what more could have been seen! We were the first to disembark via tender and we arrived in Santorini by 8AM. We docked right next to the Constellation and they blew their horns back and forth to each other as they docked. It was loud and pretty humorous. We took the cable car up to the city. The donkeys were ready for a day of hiking up the mountain but we opted to take the cable car instead. The Museum of Thira was just opening as we arrived. We explored the ancient pottery, statutes, and engravings. We walked up the narrow crooked streets passing schoolchildren on their way to class. We saw their school, the little storefront jewelry stores, eateries, and hotels. We had lunch at a mountain-side restaurant with a fabulous view of the ocean and our ship. The scenery from the restaurant was gorgeous. The hillside was a blend of blues, peach, coral and white; a maze of restaurants and hotels with blue lap pools threaded their way across the landscape and added a suggestion of opulence and elegance. Sea Day 2 - Day 7 - Our Anniversary We woke up a bit later than usual (there was no port to scout!) Since it was a sea day we had breakfast in our room. We lounged in the sun and prepared for our big dinner at the Olympic Club. (See Olympic Club) Naples - Day 8 We watched our ship dock pre-sunrise. This had become such an important part of our cruise and a prelude to another delicious day! The first thing I noticed, the Naples port appeared a little dirtier than the others. We had talked about visiting Pompeii but several people had shared with us that it was somewhat depressing. Since I had really wanted to go to Capri and Sorrento instead, this notice served well! We got off our ship and immediately saw Castel Nuovo looming before us. My husband and the boys really wanted to see it, so we tried but it did not open until 9AM. Since we did not want to wait, we just walked over to the Ferry terminal and purchased our tickets for Capri. We left on the earliest Ferry to Capri. When we arrived in Capri at Marina Piccollo (or was it Grande?) we walked around and caught a cab in the square - We paid $60 Euros for the 4 of us to drive around the island in a Convertible. The driver took us up to all of the scenic spots. We stopped to view the luscious lemons and to see the Madonna encased in the mountain. We stopped at a lot of scenic turnouts where we took pictures. On one such occasion, the driver stopped the car, jumped out and picked some lovely yellow flowers for me. We drove on and passed the Mt. Solaro chair lift and went down to the seaside beaches along the beachfront Marina. We saw the grotto and the Faraglione and the fort/castle on the hill. It was a luscious, sunny day. Once we finished with our Capri drive we returned to the Ferry and took another Ferry into Sorrento. We walked around Sorrento, had a beer and checked out the shops in the vicinity. Our youngest son was getting hungry and wanted to return to the ship. On our ferry back to Naples We actually saw a shark in the water off the side of the ferry - the fin spiked no less than two yards from us and we gawked as we noticed kayakers near the shore. Rome-Day 9 We awoke early to watch our ship pull into Port Civitavecchia. As we approached the dock, we could see a number of buses, taxis and limos lined up. Our youngest had been burning the midnight oil in the casino and wanted to sleep in so only our oldest accompanied us into Rome. We caught the early train in and the ride was very enjoyable. The train delivered us right at the Vatican. It could not have been easier. We walked around the Vatican square and were amazed at the enormity of it all. The pope was scheduled to deliver a papal audience later that morning and as the day progressed it became more and more crowded. After we finished at the Basilica we walked through the city and explored. We walked down the Via Della Conciliazzone, saw St. Angelo's, other churches and historic buildings. We crossed the river and went into the Piazza and saw the Spanish Steps. We walked on to see the Trevi Fountain and the Panthenon. We caught a cab and went on to the Coliseum. What a marvel! We caught our return train from the Coliseum and sat with a newlywed couple from Buenos Aires. We had a wonderful conversation with them since my son had just completed a research study on Buenos Aires. Livorno/Florence/Pisa - Day 10 Again awoke early and watched our ship enter port and dock. We arranged a limo pick up for 8AM and I kidded my husband that the car alone in the back parking lot must be our Mercedes sedan with the driver kicked back snoozing. As 8 AM approached, sure enough, the car pulled up to the gangway and our driver was rested and raring to go! Our driver, Fabrizio, was hilarious! His "Mama Mia's" were too funny and his quick wit was quite enjoyable. His car was impeccable and he did not hesitate in getting us to wherever we wanted to go. We had a great day in Florence, shopping and sightseeing. While I would have liked to have stopped at a Tuscan winery, it probably would have been a bit too much to do in a day. We agreed to meet Fabrizio back at the square for our return trip back to the ship. We agreed on a time and managed to get back to the ship before the masses or the traffic wore us down too badly. Villefranche - Day 11. Docked early in VilleFranche. We caught a cab into Nice and rode down the Corniche with a former race car driver (at least he thought he was). It was a windy, scary and very pretty trip. We arrived in Nice and were let off at the water fountains across from the Grand Hotel. We walked the streets of Nice and while some of the eateries with their pretty striped tablecloths and chair cushions looked striking, I really wasn't too impressed. The stores looked like any you would see in a big city, for instance, San Francisco's Chinatown. We returned back to VilleFranche and had a nice lunch at a restaurant near the dock. At Sea - Day 12 What a nice day. Lounging in the sun. Swimming laps in the pool. Listening to the pool band. It was hard to believe we were nearing the end of our cruise. My husband and I agreed we hadn't spent such quality and fun-filled time with our children since they were toddlers. What a great family vacation! We ate our last dinner as a family in the dining room and said good-bye to our waiters. They suggested we do a "back-to-back" We all laughed. After packing, my husband and I got ready to retire to bed; Shortly after we heard a knock on our door. Our "Casino-minded" son wanted to pop-in and advise us he just spent his last moments in the casino. As he turned to leave he showered upon us $600.00 in chips! (I hope he doesn't get used to this!) Barcelona - Day 13 - Ah, our last day. We had breakfast in our room and were as ready as we ever would be to disembark. We made a quick call to the boys, said a sad good-bye to Zaldy and we were off. EMBARKATION / DEBARKATION / CUSTOMS: Embarkation - We arrived in VCE via SFO/FRA on Lufthansa the day we embarked. We arrived in VCE at 2:30 PM instead of 1:30PM for our embarkation time of 3PM. We quickly found our luggage and our Limo driver was waiting for us - We had four people and seven pieces of luggage so it had been a blessing that we ordered a Mercedes Van! We arrived at the cruise terminal around 2:45 and were quickly assisted by a porter who took our luggage. Our driver dropped us at the front of the terminal. We entered and were immediately directed to the Captains Club line. We had no line to deal with whatsoever. We had our docs reviewed and since we were Captain's Club and concierge class we were allowed priority embarkation. We went through security. We proceeded down a hallway, had a picture taken, got our room cards and sea pass accounts activated. We proceeded up an escalator passing through the area where a photo is taken for each room card. We got on board and we were offered champagne from a tray of champagne. We met a couple of the Celebrity Singers and Dancers who greeted us and then had a crew member escort us to our rooms. We were onboard close to 3 PM. My husband and I received our luggage by the time we got to our room; although one of the boys bags did not arrive until 5PM. He didn't mind, he had his swimsuit in his carry-on. Debarkation - This went very smoothly. We were given priority debarkation. Our steward/room attendant, Zaldy, put out our breakfast as usual (sans the tablecloth), I love the Celebrity touch! They still make you feel you are a guest even on your last day! After a leisurely breakfast in our respective staterooms, we collected our few remaining items, and visited our balcony one last time. Following breakfast, we proceeded to the priority lounge and waited 5 minutes to be escorted from the ship. My husband and boys searched for our luggage, I got a porter who then collected our luggage and brought it curbside, where I had flagged down a taxi. It was very easy. Other passengers were just running around and stressing out which was beyond me. They had no clue. We got to the airport in no time and once there, we had no lines. Customs - This went so smoothly I couldn't believe we were done! GRATUITY SYSTEM We charged our gratuity for the two staterooms to our shipboard account to make things easier. The forms were very easy to fill out. We tipped everyone the expected gratuity and also tipped ahead of time for any services we expected above and beyond the norm. As we have read in prior reviews, and what we have found to be so very true, those folks you take care of repay you in kind in so many more ways than you can anticipate!! Moral: Give and ye shall receive! CRUISE CRITIC As was the case on my last cruise, the Cruise Critic party invitation arrived after we embarked and was left in our room the first night of our stay. Unfortunately, and again, the party was scheduled at the same time I had booked my massage appointment. Consequently, I arrived for the CC party at the tail end of things. My husband checked in earlier and chatted with a few folks, but he still didn't meet everyone. He was very tickled with receiving our C.C. pins. I only wish we would have known ahead of time when the party was scheduled; I would have liked to have participated! CAPTAIN'S CLUB We also missed the Captain's cocktail party since we were scheduled then for our anniversary dinner in the Olympic Room. I heard the party was nice. Since we used our CC Club membership to arrange our Olympic Room Anniversary Dinner reservation prior to boarding, it would have been nice if they would have taken this into account. While it was nice to be able to make the reservation ahead of time, I found that I was VERY thankful to have personally checked our table assignments prior to our dinner. Prior to our first evening's seating, I made a point of introducing myself to the maitre'D at the Olympic Room. In reviewing the seating options, I found that I absolutely LOVED the Olympic Wine Cellar room and asked him if we could celebrate our Anniversary dinner in the Wine Room. He graciously accommodated my request and confirmed our reservation. I was very satisfied with all of our CC benefits; if there was anything that I could recommend, it would have been that the boys' balcony room could have been upgraded or discounted due to our Captain's Club status. I paid full price for their balcony room in addition to ours. OTHER The Daily program was very informative. We looked forward to it being delivered to the stateroom during the bed turndown each evening. In addition, the accompanying weather forecast was great! Our boys also received an itinerary but it took a few days for them to pick up the benefits of reviewing the daily schedule! One of our sons turned into a CASINO fiend and he actually won enough to buy himself a Tag Heuer watch at one of the onboard shops. He still had several hundred dollars of winnings to spare when we disembarked. I wish I had his luck! He made a lot of friends in the Casino, many three or four times his age. We had a nice couple compliment us on our boys' manners and behavior (I'm sure they were initially a little concerned when they saw two young men check into a stateroom next to theirs!). My husband and I saved our pillow chocolates in a ziploc bag since we couldn't eat them at bedtime; now they are now a terrific remembrance of our wonderful trip. Our boys did not contribute any to the cause; they managed to eat every single one of theirs! In addition to our CC amenities we received a nice CC Cruise card case - I found it was easier to keep track of my SeaPass this way although I still had to run up to the Sky Deck a couple of days to get my card as we tried to disembark! CC also provided a wonderful menu of pillows and the "Isotonic" pillow was divine! I heard a passenger inquiring as to where she could purchase one - I would love to know that as well! We also enjoyed the binoculars, the daily fresh fruit and flowers and the delivery of daily canapEs during happy hour. We loved our itinerary with the two days in port at the beginning. I would have liked a couple of days on the tail end (rather than just one) to relax before heading home. All of the ports were desirable and I would love to visit each one again and again. (I must admit though that Villefranche, which was supposed to be a highlight of the cruise, just didn't do it for me). I enjoyed the sea days and we could have used more. The design of the ship left one to feel comfortable and we never felt crowded or pressured. There were no lines or waiting. Everything was convenient, easy and accessible even with the ship at full capacity. IN SUMMARY Our family enjoyed this vacation tremendously and cannot wait to cruise with Celebrity again. Feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding our trip and ... Yes... Celebrity, We were treated "FAMOUSLY"! radgroup@aol.com Celebrity Mercury 9/00 Celebrity Millennium 05/04 Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
Celebrity Cruise Lines - Millennium 12-Night Mediterranean Legacies Cruise October 14-26, 2003 PREFACE The travelers: Two women, widowed, one approaching retirement, the other already there. We've both cruised before (HAL, Royal ... Read More
Celebrity Cruise Lines - Millennium 12-Night Mediterranean Legacies Cruise October 14-26, 2003 PREFACE The travelers: Two women, widowed, one approaching retirement, the other already there. We've both cruised before (HAL, Royal Olympic and Carnival), but this was the first cruise on Celebrity for either of us. The Millennium was selected because the itinerary was one we were both interested in, was port intensive and at the outer limits of the time we had available to travel. PRE- AND POST-CRUISE ARRANGEMENTS Although some people enjoy making their own travel arrangements, we opted to assign this task to Celebrity, eliminating the potential need to make last-minute changes or risk overlooking something. Teresa and I live in different states and flew separately to Venice. She arrived about 8:30 AM Tuesday; I arrived two hours later. Celebrity representatives met arriving passengers, and buses shuttled us to the ship. Check-in was simple. The difficult part was trying to stay awake until shortly after noon when the ship was ready for us to board. Our return to the US two weeks later was frustrating. Teresa's plane was apparently overbooked, and passengers were offered six hundred airline dollars as an incentive to move to other flights. She declined the offer, did get checked in to board her flight and reached Dallas at the scheduled time. I arrived at the Barcelona airport on Celebrity's shuttle bus 2-1/2 hours before the plane's scheduled 1:00 PM departure. I was ticketed on Air France from Barcelona to Washington, DC with a change of planes in Paris. The Celebrity package also included an E-ticket on United to fly from Washington to Cleveland. When I was sixth in line and after standing in line for two hours, check-in for the flight was halted. The plane was full or had reached its weight limit. The remaining passengers were instructed to visit the adjoining Air France ticket counter to make alternate arrangements. Airline reps were less than helpful to the first people they dealt with. One couple was told they would be ticketed only as far as Air France's US termination city. Any subsequent flights to their destination on planes of other airlines would be their responsibility to arrange. A lot of yelling went on at that window. When it was finally my turn, I asked, "Just get me home, whatever routing, whatever time." My options: (1) fly later that day to Paris, spend the night there, and continue home the next morning; or (2) remain in Barcelona overnight and fly out the next morning. I chose to stay overnight in Barcelona. The rep reissued the two Air France paper tickets and changed my connecting United reservation by issuing an e-ticket to replace the original. Approximately two dozen of us spent the night at the Tryp Hotel, a very nice facility near the airport. When I returned at 6:00 the next morning, a long line had already formed but I was able to check in and got home with no further problems. THE SHIP Many cruise reviews include a description of the ship, public areas, cabin accommodations, general dEcor and food quality and presentation. These criteria are less important to me than the itinerary and experience in each port of call. To summarize in a few words, the ship is attractive and stable in rough seas, the crew is attentive, and I didn't lose any weight. Because we anticipated long days touring when in port, we requested second seating (8:45 PM) for dinner. This worked well for us, allowing us time to relax and regroup before eating. Generally after we'd rested and dressed for dinner, we visited one of the lounges or stopped by the sushi bar to have a pre-dinner appetizer. We ate breakfasts and lunches in both the dining room and Ocean Cafe. When shore excursions were booked, the Cafe was our choice; on sea days where eating could be unhurried, we visited the dining room. OUR CABIN Our cabin, midship on Vista Deck (7), had a veranda, which we used when weather permitted. Cabin appointments were comparable to those of similar class ships: king bed split into two twins, a settee and coffee table, television with remote control, vanity and chair, shower bath and combination mini-bar refrigerator. ON-BOARD ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT There were many daytime shipboard activities available, but day-long shore excursions prevented our taking part in them. Celebrity provided opportunities to play games such as bingo, trivia and pictionary, and Enrichment programs were available as well. Fatigue from long days of sightseeing also precluded my attendance at evening shows. By 11:00 PM, when we left the dining room, all I wanted to see was my bed. SHORE EXCURSIONS In the past we have purchased ship-sponsored excursions in ports we were unable to see on foot. In doing research for this cruise, however, we found many travelers opted to book private driver/guides for some ports. We decided to do the same. The caveat was that it would be our responsibility to get back to the ship before it left port. A ship will wait for its sponsored tour buses to return before leaving port; she wouldn't wait for us. Three months prior to our sail date, I contacted several recommended drivers and eventually scheduled five to serve as driver/guides. In three other ports we did self-guided tours and in the last, Barcelona, we purchased Celebrity's City Tour with hotel transfer. Our reasons for deciding to book private tours were: (1) our cost would be less than a ship's tour, even after a tip and the price of lunch/snack were added; (2) we could decide on the agenda and time spent at each stop and (3) our group would be small with no more than eight passengers in a van. As our days with the private drivers passed and our experience grew, we learned (1) it's important to tell the driver at the start of the day whether the group wants a leisurely lunch or a quick snack (eat fast, see more); (2) the quantity of historical information offered by private drivers varied. From our experience we felt that bus guides give more background. (But then, they're not concerned with navigating traffic while talking, either.) and; (3) Vehicle acoustics and the driver's tone sometimes made hearing what he said difficult. Bus guides have microphones. Venice, Italy - The consensus of what we read about touring Venice was to "see it on foot, get lost." Once on the ship and after a quick lunch, we took the vaporetto shuttle to St. Mark's Square to wander around. There were signs pointing the direction to the Rialto Bridge but we never found our way there. After three hours exploring on foot, we returned to the ship to unpack and collapse. A week before the cruise I had made reservations for the "Doges' Palace Secret Itinerary" Tour (12.50€). Following the two-hour tour the next morning, there were only three hours until we needed to be back on the ship, so we stayed in the area around the Square rather than chance missing embarkation. If you have only a day in Venice, take a guided tour, perhaps the ship's walking tour. We spent so much time lost that we had too little time to see more of the sights we were interested in or take a gondola ride. An informal get together of Cruise Critic members assembled after the ship set sail, and we met again formally Friday morning. It was great fun to meet face to face after months of e-mail correspondence. Dubrovnik, Croatia - Reviews we read indicated it was a simple matter to tour Dubrovnik's old town without investing in a tour or guide, so we did. The day was sunny but high winds necessitated the use of tenders to the port. A bus then shuttled us to the walled city. A fee (converted to Euros) of 2.20€ each bought us tickets to walk along the wall's top. The steps were numerous and steep, but the views of the city and Adriatic Sea were worth the effort and price. At the halfway point we descended to the street where we had lunch and then continued our exploration of Dubrovnik as we walked to the pick up point for our return to the ship. Athens, Greece - Following a day at sea, we joined two fellow passengers for the first of our independent driver/guide tours. Although Spiros (www.athenstaxi.net) had indicated he'd be our driver, we were met by Mike, one of his employees, outside the terminal's main entrance at 8:30 AM. The sky was overcast, but Mike made the day bright for us. Our morning stops included the Acropolis, changing of the guard at the Parliament Building, Temple of Zeus, Mt. Lycabettus and a short stop to shop. Mike took us to a neighborhood restaurant for lunch. We dined family style on lamb, pork and true Greek salad (no lettuce but lots of feta cheese, tomatoes, green peppers, olives and onions) and a Greek dessert of yogurt topped with honey. We also drank retsina wine, which Mike said should be ordered from the barrel, NEVER in the bottle. We finished the day by driving to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon and were back on the ship by 5:00 PM. We'd had a busy day and were ready to rest. Santorini, Greece - I visited Santorini on a cruise three years ago, but we had less than five hours of shore time. On this cruise we would have nearly fifteen hours. To take advantage of the time, we reserved a rental car for the day (www.pangosmio.gr). The instructions were that we would be met at the port. When there was no one there at the appointed time, we rode the cable car to the top thinking the representative would be there, but she was not. Eventually I called the emergency number that had been provided with the reservation and learned that she had been at the port but evidently arrived after we'd left to search for her office. (NOTE: if you're told where you'll be met, then wait there!) Once we had the car, we spent some time in Fira and then went to Oia to shop, stroll and take pictures. Following lunch at a cliffside cafe, we drove across the island to Akrotiri and then stopped to tour Koutsogiannopoulos Winery on the way back to Fira. After returning the car, we headed to Zafora's, a restaurant near the cable car station. We found a table there where we shared a sampler of Greek appetizers and watched the sun set before tendering back to the ship. Naples, Italy - Following another sea day, six of us from the ship met our second private driver, Gennaro (www.sorrentolimo.com). What a professional, personable, friendly man! He allowed us to set the pace, reminding us at the same time that the faster we moved, the more we'd see. Our tour began with a drive along the Amalfi Coast. If we wanted to stop to take pictures, we had only to ask. Occasionally he'd stop without prompting because there was a view he wanted us to see. He arranged for us to have lunch in Ravello at a hillside restaurant with a spectacular view of the gulf, and after our meal, we went into the town for a short visit. I'd asked Gennaro to schedule a private guide for us in Pompeii. We spent two hours with her, walking through and learning about the ruins. Her fee was paid by Sorrento Limo and was included in the total we paid to Gennaro back at the port. Rome, Italy - Max (www.maxleotta.com) was to be our driver, but Aldo came in his place. We were very satisfied with his effort to show us as much of Rome as possible, especially since it was a rainy day and Rome traffic moved slowly. In spite of congestion, Aldo pointed out a number of historical sites and made several stops that included the Forum, Coliseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona. With so much to see, we asked for a noon stop for a snack, and Aldo took us to a small lunchbar near the Vatican. It was here that we sampled gelato for the first time. (Oh, boy, that's good stuff!) As the end of the day approached, we finally reached the Vatican, and literally ran through the Museum in order to get to the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's before our day had to end. I cannot praise Aldo highly enough for his perseverance in getting us to as many sites as he did. Florence, Italy - Another day with another driver, this one Alex, also an employee of Max Leotta's limousine service. Alex was as reserved as Aldo was ebullient, but he was every bit as accommodating. In discussing what we wanted to see, Alex suggested that we secure tickets for the Uffizi and Accademia museums first and plan the rest of the day around those stops. We were able to get into Accademia immediately, but tickets for the Uffizi weren't available until after our tour ended. Thus, we walked across the street to see Michelangelo's 'David' and then made the short drive to Cathedral Square. While Alex stayed with the van, the six of us headed off for 2-1/2 hours of picture taking, sightseeing and shopping. Back in the van we continued to Santa Croce Church where Michelangelo and Galileo are entombed. Our last stop was at an overlook for one last view of Florence. The time we'd have spent in the Uffizi Museum was now available for other use, so we asked Alex to take us off the expressway and through the Tuscan countryside on the drive to Pisa. Who said, "It's just a leaning tower"? The architecture and area surrounding the church, baptistry and tower make this an outstanding stop. I'm so glad we didn't pass it by. We were back on the ship by 5:00 and it had been another memorable day. Villefranche, France - This was our fourth consecutive day with a driver/guide, this one scheduled to be Alain (www.Dream-Tours.com). The six of us tendered to the port where we were to meet Alain at 8:30. When he hadn't arrived by 8:45, I asked the attendant at the information desk to call the Dream-Tours office. Uh oh. In spite of repeated e-mails where the subject line included the date of our tour, we were on their schedule for the following day. The Dream-Tours rep said there would be a driver at the port within a half hour. (While we waited, Sylvie Di Cristo approached us, asking if we were the party she had booked for the day. Sylvie's a very personable woman, and I can understand why she's been highly recommended by many people.) Shortly after Sylvia departed with her group, Fred rushed in looking for us. He apologized for the mix-up and set about making sure the rest of the day was without hiccup or complaint. Our tour began with a drive through Cap Ferrat as we headed to Eze, a spectacular stop if only for the view alone. Shopping in the quaint nooks could have taken most of the day; however, we needed to move on to Monaco and Monte Carlo. We spent some time in the garden outside the casino taking pictures and then drove through the marinas and over portions of Monte Carlo's Grand Prix racecourse. Eventually we stopped at the church where Princess Grace is buried and had time to see the church, visit the palace, wander the narrow lanes and, of course, shop. From Monte Carlo it was on to Nice. While two of our group visited the Matisse art museum, the other four strolled through the gardens of an adjacent church and adjoining city park where the ruins of a Roman bath remain. Our final stop was St. Paul de Vence, a hilltop village reminiscent of Eze. With too little time to explore and shop, it'll be at the top of our list of places to visit if (no, when) we return to southern France. With the ship not sailing for another six hours, Fred was willing to continue our sightseeing tour; however, we were tired and ready to rest. Fred had more than made up for the false start early in the day. Should he be your driver, you can be assured Fred will do whatever he can to make your visit a memorable one. Barcelona, Spain - After a final day at sea, we were greeted with rain when we disembarked in Barcelona. For passengers who extended their stay in Barcelona by at least a day, the ship had available a half-day excursion of the city that included a transfer to a hotel. Our first stop was at Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. With umbrellas in hand, we circled the work in progress as our guide explained some of the history and design. Back on the bus, we passed other Gaudi creations and then went to the Gothic Quarter to stroll the old lanes and learn of the area's importance to Barcelona. Rather than continue our outdoor tour in the rain, our guide altered our agenda and took us into Barcelona's City Hall where several pieces of art are displayed. Near noon and back on the bus, passengers were dropped off at their respective hotels. Ours was the Gran Hotel Havana and the room more than met our needs. After checking in, we walked to Las Ramblas to complete our souvenir shopping and sample tapas. WEATHER We visited nine ports and had four cloudy days, three days of rain and two sunny days. (I have no recollection of what it did the three days we were at sea!) Daytime temperatures generally reached into the 60's and at the least, a light jacket was usually needed. This was a good cruise to dress in layers. SUMMARY Would I recommend this cruise? Yes, if your goal is to visit as many ports as possible in the shortest amount of time. Teresa and I returned to our homes exhausted but glad that this had been our cruise choice. If you have questions, let me hear from you. Kitty Read Less
Sail Date October 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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