This was our second time cruising, and second with Celebrity. It was a wonderful cruise. My husband and I are 30-somethings.
Flight and Embarkation: We had an air deviation and flew Delta from Seattle to Atlanta, and then Atlanta straight to Venice. No problems at all. Embarkation was easy and quick. We landed in Venice about 11:30AM and were on the ship by about 1:15pm. It was easy to find the Celebrity agents at the airport for our transfer.
Public spaces: Were in great shape. We visited the Metropolitan restaurant (obviously), the sushi bar, buffet, Aquaspa cafe, thalassotherapy pool, the spa, the conservatory, sports bar, martini bar, theater, Cosmos night club, and the Olympic.
Stateroom: We were in room 6030, a veranda room with an oversized deck. Our stateroom attendant, Rivon, was *wonderful.* The new bedding on the Millennium was wonderful, and the sheets were of really high quality. The carpeting and condition of the bathrooms was pretty poor, and need to be replaced. It didn't affect our experience at all, but was very noticeable. We only had one small problem, and that was no hot water on the first morning. Rivon told us one of the burners turned off and it was fixed by the afternoon. We also took advantage of our Captain's club coupons for the "stuff a bag full of laundry and we'll clean it for $20" deal.
The Spa: We had a $100 credit to the spa. We opted to do the Couples Rasul treatment, which was about $90. This is basically a "self service" treatment, in which Ross and I went into a steam room/sitting area, exfoliated each other with this yummy lime/ginger/salt scrub, showered, then applied a mud bath, and sat in a steam room. When we finished, we could use all of the expensive spa products (masks, lotions, etc.). They basically lock you in for an hour. The steam room had cold hoses that Ross and I had fun with. :-) They had showers in both rooms that sprayed you from the side and top. it was fun!
Sea Days: We had 3 of them, and we needed them! We were pooped after touring all day in the very hot sun. I played some bingo. DH played in a poker tournament. We went to a wine tasting. We played cribbage and read books. Cher Zorrila, the activities manager was funny, and I enjoyed going to bingo with her leading. :-) The last sea day the ship was rocking quite a bit, also, but DH and I both took a dramamine just in case and were fine.
The Martini Bar: Deserves its own category. :-) I think I tried about 12 different kinds of martinis (a different one each night). Like on the Mercury, the bartender there was great. His name was John Cardona. While you may look at the prices here and balk (about $10/drink). They are LARGE, heavy drinks. We came every night with DH's dad.
Dining: We went to the Ocean Cafe for most breakfast. I love lox, capers, and cream cheese bagels, so I had one every morning. I also tried the waffles, which were quite yummy. There was not much variety here, but it was consistent and good.
We visited the sushi bar 3 or 4 times, and were pleased with it. Some nigiri sushi as well as rolls. Very good!
We went to the Aquaspa cafe for lunch when we were on the ship for lunch. They have great healthy choices for lunch. I had cashew chicken with a little apple salad and some borscht one day, and then another day, I had citrus marinated salmon and tropical fruit soup. They have limited choices, but they are good, and the portions reasonable.
In the Metropolitan, we had great experiences. Cihan and Menino were our waiter and assistant waiter, respectively. Cihan tried a little too hard to please, and often didn't know much about the menu, but he was *great* with our nieces, and was always friendly. Our sommelier, Doan, was a big highlight of the cruise for us. He invited us to a wine tasting/food pairing the last sea day, and we enjoyed it very much. He spoke good English, but asked us halfway through the cruise for another slang word for "yummy" because he felt he was overusing it. We will miss him.
The food was excellent. I had seafood most nights, but got the filet mignon one evening. Some of my favorites were: goat cheese tart, spicy tomato soup, cream of cauliflower soup, the ratatouille crepe, the ceviche, the caramel macadamia nut mousse, the pear and vanilla low fat ice cream. There were so many great dishes, I'm sure I've forgotten something good. I only had bad food one evening.... lobster night, the last night of the cruise. the lobster was absolutely inedible. Rubbery, bitter, and little shell pieces I had to spend my time picking off the lobster. I also didn't care much for the chilled avocado soup I ordered one night either, but that's just a personal preference. The seafood was consistently good.
We ate in the Olympic one night, and to be honest with you, I wasn't overly impressed. The food was a small notch up, and the service was a glitzy step up. There, you have 4 courses rather than 5. An appetizer, main course, cheese course, and dessert. I ordered the goat cheese souffle. This was a home run. Then I ordered the sea bass, and it was so so. Nothing extraordinary, but the fish was done perfectly. The cheese/fruits/etc. were ok. I thought that the fruits were something you could have gotten out of a bag at Costco, to be honest with you. I ordered the bite size dessert sampler, which included dark chocolate creme brulee (yum), rum cake, ice cream, and a couple of other things. It was good. It may sound like I'm being overly critical, but when you pay an extra $30 to eat, you expect something extraordinary, and I didn't see it. They coordinated the delivery of your plates so it took 2 waiters to deliver 4 plates of food...that was nice but unnecessary. The sommelier brought around champagne to start the meal....that was nice. All in all, I don't think it was worth the extra money.
Venice: We got into Venice at noon on 8/5. We enjoyed the first night on the ship and unpacked and slept. The next day, we walked to Piazza Roma and bought a 12-hour pass for the Vaporetto for about 12 euros (I think). We rode it to St. Mark's Square where we fed the pigeons, and wandered some of the little streets. We bought some glass candies as a souvenir. This was one of my favorite stops!
Dubrovnik: This place was so very charming, like a fairy tale. We visited the old town and walked the wall all the way around (took about 2 hours), and then ate and shopped a bit in the city itself. We took the ship's shuttle to the gate of the Old City ($12 each for a day pass). We ate lunch at a place called Konoba Pax one street back from the Stradun. It was about 12 Euros/person. Our only disaster here was that I misjudged how much space I had on my memory card in the camera. We went into a store and bought an expensive one...the wrong one after the guy had sliced open the card packaging for us. We got cursed at in Croatian. Not much fun!!!
Athens: We went on a ship sponsored tour here that was OK ("Taste of Athens"). If I had it to do over again, I would have taken a taxi to all of the places I wanted to see. Some people might be shocked, but....the Acropolis was really underwhelming to me. Athens and Pireaus (the port) were very dirty, graffiti-filled cities, and there was tons of smog. All in all, not my favorite stop. However, we did have some shopping time in the Plaka that was cool. I bought a cheap necklace and some olive oil soaps. We also found Brettos liquor store, and had shipped 3 bottles of Greek wine, a bottle of Absinthe, and a can of ouzo (we tried all of this too, and I think, talked with the store owner). It was kind of sad that the highlight of this stop was the liquor store! ;-)
Santorini: One of my *favorite* stops. We tendered here, and it was efficient. Once ashore, we rode the donkeys up the hill (it was fun, and I saw no evidence of abuse in the donkeys. If you want to do it, do it!) You do have to watch your legs. The donkeys run up against the wall, and I got brushed pretty hard by a herd of donkeys coming down the hill. We took the public bus to Oia (only 1.20 euros), walked around, and ate lunch at Restaurant Lotza. We got Tzaziki, Moussaka, and had Vinsanto wine for dessert. Then we rode the disgustingly hot bus packed with odd folks back to Thira, where we shopped, then rode the cable car down the hill. This is a place I'd love to go back to and spend a week just laying around, reading, and exploring.
Naples: We booked a private tour here for the eight of us with See Sorrento. Marcello sent his driver Marco, and we had a great day seeing the Amalfi coast, eating a WONDERFUL lunch in Pontone, and then ending the day with Pompeii. The beauty of the coast is amazing, and we learned a great deal from Marco...things like the difference between the olive oils of different countries, why they use chestnut stakes in their terraced gardens, that the old Amalfi was up on the hill and people traveled by steps into town. We stopped at a roadside stand and tasted olive oil, grapes, and spices. It was a great day! We also ended up with about 45 minutes free time in Amalfi itself. My only regret is that we didn't ask for a guide at Pompeii. It was HUGE and the instant I entered I realized I could have gotten more out of it with a guide.
Florence: Here, we booked the ship's excursion: Florence and Pisa on your Own. This went much better than our last ship tour. We had a great guide, Serenella. We had about 45 minutes in Pisa, so we took pictures, and had a Cappucino and Espresso in a shop there. I was really impressed by how much the tower is leaning! Then we went to Florence, where we had about 4 hours of free time. We stopped in a little cafe and bought paninis. We walked and ate. Since the Uffizi with the David was closed, we went to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, walked around, took pictures, and shopped. Found a great small leather purse and a scarf. It was a great day and I would definitely come back here.
Rome: Here, we booked another private tour with Benvenuto Limos, and a private guide at the Vatican, who was AWESOME. We saw the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, the Pantheon, Coliseum, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus..... I was shocked we were able to see so much in one day. Roberto (our driver) was able to give us so many tips to save time. He recommended a great place to eat right by the Vatican called L'Insalata Riccia. We came home completely pooped! The only disappointment was that the Trevi fountain wasn't on and was being cleaned. But we got to see the daily 3000 euros they remove from the fountain each day. YIKES! We were also overwhelmed by the size of St. Peter's Basilica....pictures just can't capture that.
Villefranche: Here, we booked a halfday ship tour of Nice and St. Paul de Vence. This one was a winner! Before that, though, we wandered around Villefranche, which was a great surprise and one of my favorites. We walked around the bay and took pictures, stopped at a small cafe for espresso, and then shopped a bit. We found the Rue Obscure, a little underground street. We had 4-cheese pizza at Les Palmiers. It was great! St. Paul de Vence was charming, an old medieval walled village on the hill. We bought some blackberry liqueur and some truffle oil from a small vendor here. I also bought some jasmine, almond, and olive soaps in Villefranche.
Disembarkation: Very smooth and efficient. We ate buffet breakfast, and got on the bus to the Barcelona airport. I only wish we had more time there.
The flight and airport situation was EXTREMELY stressful. We had a flight out at 10:45AM. The airport was a ZOO when we arrived at 8AM, 2-1/2 hours ahead. It took us one hour to go through the check in line, and there were only about 20 people ahead of us. Air France only checks in one flight at a time, and they were checking in folks for the 9:30 flight until about 9AM, when they opened our line. Not to mention the line queuing was nonexistent. People were snaked everywhere into different lines. Security....we got into the wrong line...the one where staff, crew, and anyone cuts in. It took us 30 minutes to get through this line, and we were about 15 back in the line. Then at the gate, they load you onto buses that take you out to the tarmac to your plane. We took off about a half hour late, which was stressful, because we only had a 55-minute layover at Charles de Gaulle airport, which is the hugest, most confusing airport on the face of the planet. I even researched ahead of time, which was a DAMN good thing. Otherwise, I would have gotten on the tram there and never made it. We landed in Paris at 1PM, and our flight took off at 1:20 PM. We began sprinting like crazy people. Well, this walkway between F and E terminals is downstairs into baggage claim, out of the building across the street, and back into another building to go through security again. When we kept following the signs and ended up outside, I just about had a panic attack. When they stopped me at security to *completely* search my bag, I thought I was going to kill someone. They told me "you have many metal things in your baggage." It turns out what they pegged on was Ross' cigar and case he bought on the ship. They kept rolling their eyes at me because I was panting and antsy. The lady told me I needed to look at her. Then we ran like devils to the gate, where they were giving last boarding calls to get on the bus to take us to our plane. They stopped me again, randomly, to search my bags. More laughing at me. I got wanded and frisked. Lovely. While I was in a hurry, I was not being rude to anyone, and was shocked at the attitude of the workers there.
I will avoid the Charles de Gaulle airport like the plague in the future if I have a choice.
Having said all of that, Air France was lovely to fly on...2 meals on our 10-hour flight back to Seattle, and the in seat movies and games helped pass the time.
Summary: This was a GREAT cruise. I definitely still love Celebrity, and would highly recommend this cruise if you want to see a number of different places in the Mediterranean. Read Less