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28 Celebrity Millennium Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Just back from a 5 night cruise on Celebrity Millennium with stops in Roatan and Cozumel. Millennium is now going to drydock for three weeks in the Bahamas. We had a wonderful time. Lovely balcony in C2 class. Eddy did a great job ... Read More
Just back from a 5 night cruise on Celebrity Millennium with stops in Roatan and Cozumel. Millennium is now going to drydock for three weeks in the Bahamas. We had a wonderful time. Lovely balcony in C2 class. Eddy did a great job keeping us happy fulfilling all our needs. Food and drink was great. Embarkation and departure were smooth and painless. Great entertainment! Just a pleasure. Suggestions for future passengers- * order a cheese and fruit plate nightly to complement the canapes. * don't stress the a partially obstructed view in 8050. Not a big deal. * Do not depend on Internet. Just terrible. Slow and cutting off regularly. Even when trying to book a new cruise with the Celebrity travel consultant. Maybe the Sosticizing will solve this. * Do eat in the Olympic dining room. Maybe even twice. Wow! * If you can avoid it, do not go on the last cruise before dry dock. Crew members are mentally moving on to home, their next contract or into dry dock. They have no idea what to expect and some were fairly apprehensive. Celebrity was already tearing down parts of the ship {sport bar)and the noise was really unfortunate. Suggestions for Celebrity. * Fix the internet. Really bad. * Open the coffee bar at 6 AM. There is just not enough available for early risers. * I know refits are unusual, but please do not start the overhaul while customers were on board. On the fourth day at sea, they began taking apart the 11th deck above the buffet hall. Talk about a way to end the cruise early. YOU just felt like the cruise line had moved on and they just wanted you out of the way. It was loud, continuous and a real breach of customer focus. All that said, it was still a great time for us and just our bad luck to catch the last trip. I only emphasize this so others can avoid it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We just returned from our 5-day cruise on the Celebrity MIllennium. We left from the Port of Miami and went to Key West (6-hours in port), Cozumel (9 hours in port), a day at sea, and then back to Miami. This was our first time cruising ... Read More
We just returned from our 5-day cruise on the Celebrity MIllennium. We left from the Port of Miami and went to Key West (6-hours in port), Cozumel (9 hours in port), a day at sea, and then back to Miami. This was our first time cruising with Celebrity, and, overall, we were very pleased. First off, getting on the boat was a breeze. We flew Southwest to Fort Lauderdale and used SAS shuttle service to get to the boat in Miami. I can't say enough good things about SAS. I booked them online ($15 pp one way) and Steve was very responsive and professional. The shuttle van showed up at the airport within a few minutes of my call, and the trip took about 35 minutes. Once at the boat (at around 11:15 a.m.), we were ushered onboard immediately, welcomed with a cool drink and were relaxing by the pool by 11:30 am! We ate lunch at the Oasis buffet--very good and were told we could get to our room at 1:30 p.m., which we did. The room was a lovely surprise. We had one of the least expensive rooms (no porthole and on deck 2) and it was bright and roomy and more than adequate. Lots of drawer space and plenty of hangers! Much better than comparable rooms on RCCL or Carnival. Our room steward and her assistant (Maylene and Mario) were very attentive. However, for some reason, one of our suitcases was delayed in getting to the room and we finally had to go down to Security to retrieve it around 5:30 p.m. No explanation was given for the delay, and no apology was given when I pointed out that the zipper on one of the outside pockets was broken. The good: I was a little nervous about what to expect, since the Millennium is going into dry dock in April to be spruced up. However, we both thought the ship was lovely, not at all shabby, and beautifully appointed. The lounges, club, casino, buffet, and main dining room were very nice--there are lots of little tucked-away places onboard and I especially liked comfortable chairs on deck 3 by the windows. Our friends all raved about the casino, too. The pool area is great--plenty of chairs on 10 and 11--and the service at the pool was great! We also enjoyed the stage shows (iBroadway and Boogie Wonderland). Lots of talent there--and very professional, from the costumes to the choreography to the quality of the singing and dancing. Also, when the cruise director sang Time to Say Goodbye, well, it just blew everyone away--she has a fantastic voice!! We also enjoyed the Celebrity Chef Cook-Off very much. We liked the food at the Oasis buffet--especially the little sandwiches and the scones that come out in the afternoon. The pizza also looked good, as did the sushi. Also, at the Kova (?) Cafe on deck 5, there are tappas in the evening that we enjoyed, plus little finger sandwiches and pastries in the afternoon. Breakfasts here were good--the omelet station especially. Also, room service for breakfast was a nice treat--and the coffee seemed to be a tad bit better here than elsewhere on the ship. Also, there were not a lot of kids on this cruise--it was mostly couples and some groups of college kids/20-somethings. But the ship does have activities for children and I do have to say that the children I saw were all really well-behaved and seemed to be having a good time. The college kids and 20-somethings also seemed to be having a great time, too--especially after we left Key West and were sailing to Cozumel!... and I know we had a great time, too!!! Overall, all of the staff was friendly, helpful, and available when you needed them. The chocolates on the bed each night were excellent, especially the raspberry chocolate! Now, you may think that's a silly thing to comment on, but we are talking nice, expensive-tasting dark chocolate.... mmmmmmm. :o) Disembarkation was also quick, painless, and accomplished in less than 15 minutes. I called SAS and the van was there in less than 5 minutes. The bad: I was not impressed with the food in the main dining room. Nothing really knocked my socks off, though it was all fine. The service was OK, though the wine service was slow and spotty. I remember the food and the service being 100% better on Royal Caribbean! But, the other people in our party all really liked the food, and you could order as many things as you wanted... on the last night, I ordered several appetizers and salad and then had the seafood risotto appetizer for my dinner and it was more than enough. The desserts aren't spectacular, but the New York cheesecake was OK. I do have to say that we all pretty much thought the coffee on the ship was awful--very strong and often bitter. I mean, I like a bold cup of coffee, but I had to use 5 or 6 of the little creamers just be able to drink it. And the coffee/beverage stations at the buffet were not set up logically for easy use--you had to keep crossing in front of people to get your glass or cup then get your coffee or cold drink, and then get cream or sugar. That may be nit-picking, but it was annoying when the buffet was crowded and the ship was rocking back and forth because of rough seas. :o) Also, it could be easily fixed. The excursions: We booked the trolly and took the ride around Key West and over to the other side of the island and it was fine, given the limited amount of time we had in port. For our day in Cozumel, we had booked a Mayan cultural tour that was cancelled at the last minute so we opted for the Tulum Ruins and Beach Break. Unfortunately, due to the rough seas, we were about an hour late in docking and getting off the ship, and then the ferry was delayed by rough seas in getting us over to Playa del Carmen, so the advertised 8-hour tour had to be shortened. On the plus side, we enjoyed our tour guide and the ride to the ruins--but, because of time constraints, we only had an hour at the ruins. They are beautiful, though. Then we went to the beach club where we had a buffet that included Mayan fish (delicious!), beef frijitos (NOT what you may be expecting if you are used to the frajitos you get in the USA at Chili's or other TexMex chains, but very tasty!), black beans and rice (yummy) and some other things. It was good. Then we walked out to the beach--and it was just spectacular! White sands, blue/green/azure/turquoise/periwiinkle-hued water, and rolling waves... and the play of sunlight and shadow just could not be captured with the camera. Overall, though, I would say if you really want to see the ruins, just book the Tulum Express and don't be concerned about getting back to the ferry at Playa del Carmen--it's easy to get to and the town looked like fun to explore. The ferry ride to and from Cozumel takes about 35-40 minutes if the sea cooperates. The ride to Tulum takes about 35 minutes, too. Our traveling companions all did some variation of the dolphin encounters (push, pull or just the encounter) and they all enjoyed themselves though they all said the photo packages were outrageously expensive. We did get a nice professional photo of ourselves at Tulum that included an informative book about the ruins and the area for just $15, so that was a nice surprise and well worth it. Overall impression: We really enjoyed our Celebrity experience and would definitely sail with them again. I think in some ways they are a step above RCCL, although the food and dining room experience on Royal Caribbean are far superior, INHO. In fact, I have to check to see if there are Celebrity cruises leaving from Bayonne, NJ (as there are RCCL cruises) because from me, cruising from Bayonne is the ULTIMATE in convenience! I would not hesitate to recommend Celebrity and the Millennium if you are looking for a nice, relaxing time at sea. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was the first cruise my husband and I have taken by ourselves (no friends, no children). We were thrilled with our stateroom. It was clean and well appointed. I was impressed that everything in our four suitcases could be unpacked and ... Read More
This was the first cruise my husband and I have taken by ourselves (no friends, no children). We were thrilled with our stateroom. It was clean and well appointed. I was impressed that everything in our four suitcases could be unpacked and stowed with empty drawers to spare. Even our suitcases could be stowed in the closets. Our cabin attendant was very attentive and responded to our special requests promptly and with a smile. After reading that this ship was scheduled to be dry-docked next month I was a little concerned about what to expect. We didn't find one area of the ship that was not well kept and in good repair. Perhaps experienced cruisers might note the color schemes or missing amenities but I don't think anyone could fault the overall upkeep of the ship. We loved the size of the ship. It is easy to get around on, intimate enough to get to know fellow cruisers but large enough to find private space as well. Although cabins on both sides of us were occupied we never heard noise from either side. We especially appreciated the size once we docked right next to the Oasis of the Sea. That ship made us look like the harbor tug boat. We enjoyed listening to the wonderful Mariachi Band perform pool side in Cozumel while the passengers on the five decks of the Oasis that loomed above our ship clapped along. It was an amazing contrast of size. We don't have any complaints about the food or service. Everything was top notch. The only negative comment we have is purely subjective on our part. We did not find the entertainment to be diverse enough or as engaging as we would have liked. The performers worked really hard on the shows and we applaud their efforts and talents but we would enjoy seeing a wider selection rather than two nights of variety show acts with similar performance themes. Overall, great cruise and we look forward to cruising again with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
Embarcation was a breeze. Got to Miami Port at noon and was on the ship by 12:30. The Food was very good in all venues. The Olympic was way over the top. We thought it was an excellent meal. Both of had the Filet Mignon and ... Read More
Embarcation was a breeze. Got to Miami Port at noon and was on the ship by 12:30. The Food was very good in all venues. The Olympic was way over the top. We thought it was an excellent meal. Both of had the Filet Mignon and Souffles. We thought in general the crew was very friendly greeting everyone when they passed. The Captain kept us well informed with good english. The Entertainment was great. The shows were excellent with a live orchestra on stage. The ports were just ok. Roatan was not a paradise by any means but we did get off and walked around a bit. The Captains Club Hostess Melissa from Australia was professional but lacked basic people skills. After having Chandru, Juliana, Donette and Anna we were very let down by this Hostesses lack of human skills. She is not in the right position in our opinion. There were several instances where she ignored people or was just plain rude to the people she talked too. The GSM Philip was teriffic. He just has that "can do" attitude which is the norm for Celebrity. Our Waiter and Asst Waiter were great and Harrish our AMD was the best yet. The room team did an excellent job of keeping our CC Room spotless although I never met their boss the Asst Ch Housekeeper. All in all we had a great 5 day cruise. Cannot wait to take a future Celebrity Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Cruise Review Celebrity Millennium November 4-November 18, 2007 14 Day Mediterranean: Barcelona-Venice This was our first cruise and an ambitious one of 14 days. It was also our first vacation to Europe. We are in our 50's and have ... Read More
Cruise Review Celebrity Millennium November 4-November 18, 2007 14 Day Mediterranean: Barcelona-Venice This was our first cruise and an ambitious one of 14 days. It was also our first vacation to Europe. We are in our 50's and have traveled mostly in the United States. We spent 2 full days in Barcelona before the cruise and 3 days in Venice, post cruise. The decision to take a cruise was based on many recommendations from travel sites, that a European cruise was the best value with a declining dollar. The Celebrity line was selected because of the ports, its ratings as the best of the mid range cruise ships and its reputation for very good to excellent food. The Millennium did not disappoint. We did not go on the cruise with other couples, however, we met a number of persons on line that became our cruise mates throughout the cruise. The secret is CruiseCritic.com and joining the roll call for one's cruise. Security We took the advice of many posts on how to carry valuables. We purchased a PacSaf pouchsafe 100 neck pouch for both of us. It is designed to wear inside of your shirt or blouse. We both kept a copy of our passport, ship ID, credit cards and large denomination Euros in it. We kept a wallet with only 10-20 euros and maybe a one day bus pass. My wife used a PacSaf AntiTheft Sling shoulder bag. In it was an ID, small amounts of euros, lipstick and tissue. We never had any problems and it worked perfectly. We did hear several stories of passengers having wallets stolen in ports. Language I can converse in Spanish reasonably well, although I would not use the term fluent. I did buy a phrase book and spent six weeks learning key phrases in Italian. I found the ability to request things in Spanish and Italian( and often would fill in Spanish words when I did not know the Italian word) was invaluable. I frequently was treated differently than others who did not attempt the lingua franca. Learning to say simple things such as please and thank you, or a simple greeting, goes a long way in showing respect. Airlines We used American Airlines with connecting flights in Spain with Iberia and in Italy with Alitalia. We packed with guidance from others and divided our clothes, some on our carry on and some in each others luggage. In fact, all of our luggage made it just fine. Our flights were on time in spite of some weather problems, with one understandable delay in Chicago due to sleet. The airplane food was pretty adequate and we had no complaints. Our biggest problem was of our own doing, when one of our bags was 12 pounds over the 50lb limit. AA allowed us to redistribute the weight to avoid the overcharge. We ended buying a collapsible bag in Turkey for all our souvenirs and better weight distribution. Just one note about Duty Free shops. We were considering purchasing olive oil and wine in the DF store in Rome and bringing it back on our carry on. We fortunately did not and are glad we did not. If one has a connecting flight after returning to your US entry airport, you have to go through security again. The liquids would have to be left behind for the benefit of the clean up staff but not the air traveler. The Millennium Starting with boarding in Barcelona, we had read the ships website and CC posts and determined that we were allowed to bring on board, only at the beginning, two bottles of wine which we did have. There was a sign at the baggage check in that said no alcohol. After a little confusion we ignored the sign and had my carry on scanned with the wine and no problem. To make it even more interesting there was a liquor store where you could buy any of the so called prohibited alcohol, just prior to boarding the ship. Most amusing. The check-in was smooth otherwise. We had a cabin with an ocean view on the third or Plaza deck. Having a window was a good choice and useful both at night and coming into ports. The cabin steward was excellent with great service and very personable. We were assigned the late dining which was a very late start @ 8:45, much later than we usually eat. However, we did adjust and spaced our time accordingly. We did tend to miss any dancing or shows because of it. We did go to the Main or formal dining every evening and main dining for lunches on the three sea days. The sit down breakfasts and lunches were quite leisurely. We found the informal or cafeteria dining much too congested. We thoroughly enjoyed the service and the food choices were frequently excellent. We say this coming from New Orleans, where our food expectations are high. Appetizers, soups entrees and deserts choices made for many memorable meals. Other food choices, that we enjoyed, were a healthy breakfast bar(Aqua Spa Cafe) and the sushi bar in the late afternoon. The entertainment was secondary on this cruise because of all the tours. However, there were a few programs that were excellent including a toast to Broadway, some opera arias and a piano program. Ship Amenities- The Thalasotherapy pool(no charge) which is a large hot, salt water pool was one of our favorite daily events. It was especially welcome after a long day of tours. Another surprise was that the ship stores would have sales of items frequently found in the ports of call. On several occasions the items were less expensive than the local markets. They did prove to be a bargain. There were three seminars on wine tasting that we attended that were most informative and well worth the cost of $10 for each. At Sea We very much welcomed the 3 sea days to recoup from all the touring. We had patches for seasickness but never needed them. The boat would roll on the open waters but neither of us got nauseated. Although in higher seas you might have to grab the hand rail on the stairs. Ports of Call In spite of the challenge of this being our first trip to Europe and our first cruise, we opted to do all our own planning for the ports of call. We did not use the ships tours with one exception in Rome and toured on our own, joined other small groups or contracted tours on our own. I think the ships tours can be a pretty good value since you are paying in $ and often include lunches. However, we found that independent tours gave us more flexibility, more individualized attention and on several occasions, became significantly cheaper. The secret to success was detailed planning, for this cruise it was about 4-5 months of effort. Most of it was spent researching tour guides, destinations and comments from other cruisers on Cruise Critic. Barcelona We spent two full days in Barcelona and enjoyed it immensely. We stayed at the Banys Oriental Hotel(129E) in the Old Quarter of the city. The hotel like most of Barcelona will have an old exterior with ultra-modern furnishings in black and chrome. Highly recommended. It was very nicely located and this section of town is quite charming. Architecture was similar to the New Orleans French Quarter( which is really Spanish). Lots of great tapas bars such as Taller Tapas and Sagardi. Both were reasonable and excellent food, great Rioja wine and Sangria. We also found the best gelato in Europe in this area. The nearby Picasso museum was overwhelming in the amount of works. Also nearby was the Chocolate Museum which was also entertaining. The Ramblas is also worth a lot of time. One of the highlights is the La Bouqeria or market place. It is one of the great markets of the world with lots of fresh produce, meat and candies. We used the on/off doubledecker Turista bus, however we needed to supplement with public transportation. The lines for the Turista bus at Placa Catalunya were sometimes an hour or more wait, so we sometimes took the wonderful Metro to a site and picked up the Turista bus at a later stop. This was supposed to be the off season but the crowds were pretty large. Taking both the full ride around town on the red and blue Turista line allowed us to appreciate the varied architecture in Barcelona. One footnote for bargain shoppers, a true flea market is at the Glories stop on the red line Metro. It is only on Saturday and it ends about 4pm. We got there late and were disappointed that we could not take advantage. . It is in a somewhat isolated area and you will have to follow fellow shoppers around an overgrown park to reach it. Barcelona is a young vibrant city and worth a return trip. Villefranche, Nice and Eze Village The first port required tenders to reach Villefranche. Once on shore we located the bus station(about 15 minutes) which was an up hill climb behind and above the Citadel. It was a short wait and a 20 minute ride to the Main bus station (Gare Routiere)in Nice. This is also very close to the old quarter of Nice and the flower market. My inadequate French did not hinder things for us because the bus station had the bus routes(I have copies of these) and the next departure time on the electronic bulletin board, Because of the timing we opted to transfer to the bus to Eze Village. The total cost per person one way to Eze was a couple of Euros. The ride to Eze on the public bus was spectacular with great views of the Med. Eze Village is a wonderfully quaint medieval town on the top of a small mountain overlooking the Med. We first stopped at Galimard Perfumeur and received a personal tour of how perfume is made. It is the oldest in France. The climb up to Eze Village is quite nice and there is pleasant sky garden at the top for 5 E with great views. We only had time for a quick lunch in Vieux or old Nice. Wonderful spot for a sidewalk cafe a crepe, a quiche, an Eclair and some wine. Again the architecture was a cross between Caribbean and New Orleans French Quarter. Narrow streets and lots of quaint shops. Villefranche is also a very lovely town with narrow streets and great architecture and worth time as well . Lovely views of the harbor especially while sitting in a bistro with a cappuccino. Firenze(Florence) The ship docks at Livorno approximately 1.5 hours from Firenze. We used Tuscany Tours with Paola Migliorini(www.florencetour.com). We worked the details out with Steve and Sandy and went with a group of 8. We were met fairly promptly at the port in Livornio at 8:00am by Paola's husband Giuseppi. This was a little bit of a surprise because Paola had reassured us she would be the guide. We had selected her because of great reviews of her because she was an art historian. That was one criticism of her from other CC bloggers that she sometimes contracts out to others. In spite of this we felt good to have Giuseppi who provided enormous information on the 1.5 hour ride to Florence on architecture, wine making, and what is made in each town. He restores the old homes and is also a consultant on winemaking. Quite a combo. Giuseppi took us on some of the back roads to Firenze through the Tuscany countryside. We had arranged with Paola to make reservations at the La Accademia museum and this was very important for time. This way we were able to see Michelangelo's David and his stone slaves which are equally impressive without waiting in lines. Giusseppi turned us over to professional guide Virginia Girolami at the La Accademia museo and she gave us an in depth tour and great insight into both the David and the marble slaves of Michelangelo. Virginia also brought us on a a tour of the main sections of Florence to include the Cathedral/Duomo, the Baptistery and the Ponte Vecchio. Guiseppi picked us up and brought to a park overlooking Firenze with great vistas of the city. Firenze and its Renaissance art and architecture was magnificent. Pisa After leaving Firenze, Giuseppi made a short stop in Pisa to see the leaning Bell Tower as well as the Baptistery and the Cathedral. Pisa was the great city prior to Firenze and it show its glory well. It is quaint enough to deserve a return visit. We were able to return to our ship about 5:30 after a very excellent tour. Roma(Rome) The ship docks in Civitavecchia, which is about a 1.5 hour train or 2 hour bus ride to Roma. There is a free shuttle that brings passengers from the ship to the edge of the port area. The train station is about a 15 minute walk from the shuttle drop off area. The round trip ticket was 9E and that also included the Metro and buses in Roma. An incredible bargain! The trains run about every 30 minutes, are quite comfortable and are very efficient. The trains, except an express, make a number of stops prior to the primary stop at the main terminal in Roma(Stazione Termini) and same for the return to Civitavecchia. The one drawback is if a train strike occurs which happened on our 2nd day in Roma. There are fewer trains and more congestion. We opted to take the ship's Rome on Your Own Bus because of the uncertainty. However, some braved the trains during the strike and made out just fine. One note, be sure to validate your train ticket on the day you use it. Citta Del Vaticano(Vatican City) Piazzo S Pietro(St Peters Square) is one of the stops on the train from Civitavecchia. It puts one out on the west side of Vatican City. So we had to walk along the walls until we came to St Petes Square. The Vatican can be a full day and we made it so. One great bit of CC advice was to get advance tickets for the Vatican Museum with a Vatican guide. You have to fax this request to the Vatican in advance and they confirm with a fax back to you. This prepaid 23E charge was a bargain because the guide was excellent but more important you go right to the head of the line and show the guards your fax. When you pass several thousand people in line, you realized this piece of paper was almost as valuable as your passport. The Vatican Museum has so many magnificent works of art that it would take weeks to fully appreciate it all. The guide does not take you into the Sistine Chapel(which is at the end of the tour), but does give plenty of detail about what is there. Scavi Tour We requested and were very lucky to receive approval for the Scavi Tour. Scavi means excavation and it is a separate tour that goes underneath the St Peter's Basilica to what is generally accepted as the grave of Peter, the apostle and first Pope. This excavation initially took place in the late 1930's but has been kept very low key until recent times. The Vatican is built upon the original burial ground of the Roman aristocracy. The excavation goes down to these early Roman family mausoleums and the original street of those times. It was a very unique experience which culminates in a brief viewing of the bones of Peter. The tour is obtained by an email or Fax to the Vatican Scavi Office. On the day we went there was only one English speaking tour for 15 persons. So its very limited. We ended our day by touring the Basilica of St Peter,. the largest church in the world. It has many incredible sights but foremost is Michelangelo's La Pieta. We ended our day with a short bite of pizza and cappuccino in a small bistro a few blocks away from the Vatican. It, like most bistros we ate at, were very local, reasonable and satisfying. From there we caught the Metro(subway) during rush hour to the Stazione Termini( train Station). The Metro was crowded but efficient, very attractive and easy to use. At the Stazione the marquee had one train that said Civitavecchia on bin(track) 15, but we had known from the CC posts it was supposed to be on Bin 25-28. We resisted getting on the closer train and went to Bin 26, a very long walk, and noticed many other familiar cruisers waiting for the train. The train on Bin15, which two of our friends took ended up in the wrong city. Roma II As stated earlier, because of the train strike we opted to take the Millennium' Rome on your own tour. This took longer than the train to get to Rome, but gave us 6 hours and piece of mind that we could not miss the boat with a ships tour. We were let off around the corner from St Peter's. We bought tickets for the on/off Tram bus. We were able to purchase them right on the bus, which stops at St Peters. We got off at Trevi Fountain, which is truly spectacular. We knew that it was the biggest pickpocket spot in Roma but there were more Polizi there then anywhere else we visited. After another light lunch and gelato we grabbed the Tram bus and headed to the Colosseo(coliseum) and Roman Forum. We also visited the Palatine Hills the location of the homes of the Roman aristocracy. The Forum area is quite extensive and might have been wise to have used a guide. Buying the combo tickets for everything at the Forum was helpful. At the Coliseum we did opt to use a licensed professional guide. This was a late decision and could have been a little cheaper by adding to the combo ticket. The guide was very informative but instead of 45 minutes it turned into 1.5 hours and we had to leave early. The ride through the rest of the Tram route back to the Vatican was very relaxing and enjoyable with many magnificent sights. Another wonderful day in Roma. A word about the transportation strike. There was also a demonstration which disrupted traffic significantly in the center of Rome. The Tram bus actually charged a slight discount from the usual fare because everything was taking longer. Another observation, watching the Vespas and small cars maneuver in heavy traffic was a sight to behold. The Vespas frequently looked like bees in a disturbed bee hive. Roma was intoxicating. Napoli( Naples) We joined a tour with some other cruisers with Italy Limousine (www.italylimousine.com). We were met at the port by our driver, Reno, who spirited us away through Naples and towards Pompeii. Reno was charming and the first of what the ladies described as eye candy, but more of a driver than tour guide. We frequently had to request info on sights on the ride to Pompeii. The next surprise was that we had requested Italy Limousine for a specific guide. This was to be Enzo, one mentioned in CC posts, and a well respected authority on Pompeii. We were informed that he was recovering from eye surgery and could not come. Instead, his son Sasha, Eye Candy II, poked his head into our van and he said he also could not be our guide because he was already committed.( which ended up being another of our small groups from the ship) Instead, he said we would have the Archeologist guide us. By this time we were getting a little concerned, but Giuseppi, Eye Candy III, introduces himself to our group of skeptics. As we learned over time, Giuseppi or Pepi was a ringer. He was a pupil of our original guide Enzo, but also the youngest PhD in archeology @ Oxford University. He was also a guest lecturer @ Oxford and Columbia University on Pompeii. Although we could not confirm this, his knowledge and enthusiasm of Pompeii was profound and kept our attention for hours. Guiseppi made Pompeii come alive and our appreciation of this incredible site was appreciably enriched. He also adapted himself to the pace of our group which had folks from their 50s to their 80s. A comment about persons with special needs; being in a small group that is more responsive to individual needs may be critical for a successful and enjoyable tour. We noticed a few persons falling behind in one of the 40 person ship's tours and felt they did not enjoy the sight completely. Guiseppi did not have a website or a card, but if available he could be requested from Italy Limousine. We reluctantly had to leave Pompeii, which is quite large and could easily take a full day. Amalfi Coast The second part of our day with Italy Limousine was our drive along the Amalfi Coast. This was through Sorrento to the town of Positano and Ravello. The Amalfi Coast drive is truly one of the most scenic drives in the world with spectacular views of the Mediterranean from the high cliffs above. As one drives along these narrow cliff hanging roads along the coast, we appreciated the skills of our driver Reno that much more. Driving along here is simply not a possibility for most people. Frequently the road is only 1.5 lanes in width and lots of curves. Many olive trees and citrus in the area. We picked up some lemon flavored olive oil here. After a light lunch in Positano, we headed to the mountain top town of Ravello. It is a very quaint setting and known for its pottery. We spent maybe only 45 minutes here but this was enough, and our energy level was waning. We concluded the day with a ride around the side of the mountain back to Naples and our ship. However, we did still get several good views of Mt Vesuvius before the day ended. The weather was also spectacular with incredibly blue skies all day. A truly memorable day. Athens We arrived @ the port of Piraeus, which is 25-30 minutes from Athens. We had confirmed a private tour for 4 persons with Spiros(www.athenstaxi.net) He picked us promptly at the dock @7:30 in his Mercedes taxi. Spiros is from Greece but spent many years in New York so his English is excellent. He provided lots of commentary about all that we saw. The first major stop was the Acropolis with the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena. Great views, since the Acropolis is on a very high plain overlooking the city. Spiros provided us guide books to take with us for all the sights we visited. We also visited a site the apostle Paul used to preach to the Athenians, as well as the beautiful Theatre of Dionysius. Spiros brought us to the all marble Olympic stadium, the great temple of Zeus, the Roman and Greek Agoras(the ancient offices), and then to the great National Archeological Museum, which holds many of the historical treasures of Greece. Spiros took us to a very local taverna with great food and no tourists. We finished the day with a baklava and strolling on the Plaka (the old shopping area) and a viewing of the changing of the guard. We would highly recommend Spiros, he is quite reasonable and very professional. Istanbul Coming up the Bosphorus to the city of Istanbul, is a very memorable experience, especially as you view all the mosques and minaret's. Istanbul was clearly the most mysterious and exotic cities on our cruise. Because of the recent US House Committee resolution on Armenian genocide and continuing problems with addressing the Kurds on the Iraqi border, there was more than a little apprehension. However, our visit was quite memorable and worthy of a return. The people went out of their way to be friendly, especially many of the school children we encountered on our tours. They were probably better ambassadors for their country then we adults were for ours. Some of the most haunting memories are the call to prayer 5 times during the day, which is done by a live muezzin for each mosque. For our tours of the city, I contracted with Murat Gurer (http://www.guideforistanbul.com) who was highly recommended by CC users. He was a super guide and very reasonable. We had 10 persons that joined us on the tour. Murat had a separate driver in a very comfortable small bus. The ship was delayed by 2 ½ hours so we did not arrive until mid-afternoon. Murat took us to the Blue Mosque, most impressive, and then to the Grand Bazaar. As seems to be a part of all Istanbul tours, Murat brought us to one rug dealer, who had an excellent reputation, but provided the pitch for Turkish rugs. One in our party did buy a lovely rug, but I did not want to spend time on rugs, because I need hours for rug shopping. The bazaar had the sights and smells of all that we think of in an exotic place. We did buy lots of gifts. Istanbul II Murat met us very early and we headed directly to the Spice Market. We were able to purchase some spices such as saffron, cinnamon, and pilaf seasoning, but the smells were incredible. We also bought some Turkish delights that were enjoyed back home. They also have other dealers such as in the Grand Bazaar but on a smaller scale. Murat took us to a number of other marvelous sights in old Constantinople including the Topkopi Palace. This magnificent palace of the Sultan, including the Harem and living areas was something to behold. We also visited the beautiful Hagia Sophia, which was once a Christian cathedral, then a Mosque in the 15th century and now a museum. Later we went to the Underground Cistern, which is truly beautiful. After a quick lunch in a local restaurant, we headed to the foreign neighborhoods near the Orient Express Hotel which was very European. Murat suggested we do this rather than going into Eastern Istanbul, because of the lost 2.5 hours. It was very unique and few tourists. We would strongly recommend Murat as a tour guide for any group. He gave us many insights into Istanbul that no mere tour could provide. Istanbul is right on the edge of major changes with 50% of the population under age 25. Mykonos We tendered to the island of Mykonos. After so much intense sightseeing the Greek islands were a welcome change of pace. We chose not to do any tours but just wander through the town and take in the sights. The Aegean Sea was beautiful blue as was the sky and some of the domes. The narrow alleys, whitewashed homes and interesting people made for a perfect day. Mykonos was an enchanting place. With a carafe of wine, a Greek salad and view of the Aegean Sea, Life is Good! There are lots of great sights as well with Little Venice, the Windmills, and an immense number of Greek Orthodox churches. The walking was quite leisurely and we will certainly return to Mykonos. Santorini We tendered to the port of Fira. The town of Fira is some 750'+ above the port. We took the vernacular to make it to the top. Great views on the way. We opted to take a public bus to the town of Oia on the tip of the island. The hardest part was finding the bus station in Fira. The fare was all of 1.4E each way. The long ride along the high ridge gave a beautiful view of the island and the Aegean Sea. It was yet another cloudless day. Oia is a small village with great view of the Aegean, blue domes, whitewashed homes and lots of donkeys to carry the loads up the steep steps. A great place to spend time and catch the sunsets. We headed back to Fira and had a lovely lunch at the Zafora Restaurant. Another great Greek salad and a great white Santorini wine, but the view of the Aegea was incredible. The town of Fira has great views of the Aegean, but does not have the ambiance of Mykonos or Oia. We opted to walk the 750 steps down to the port and it was actually quite doable. The views on the way down were magnificent. For both Islands a single long or short sleeve shirt was sufficient. Venezia(Venice) The ship pulled into Venice while it was still dark and it was quite beautiful. We were able to negotiate an early departure from the ship. There was no official transportation into Venice from the ship. A transport brought us from ship to the Port building. At the port we learned that there was a service that would transport each piece of luggage for 5E to ones hotel. We took advantage and then located another transport that did drive us from the port to the Piazza Roma, where we took a Vaporetta to our hotel. ( this free transport did have the Millennium on its marquee, but the ship never mentioned it). Thus for a price of 6E each for the Vaporetti and 10 E for the baggage we were able to get to our hotel. The other option was a water taxi at between 100-150E. The weather was in the mid 30's and misting for our first day in Venice. It did warm up some on the first day possibly into the low 50s. We spent a total of 3 days in Venice. Two nights we stayed at a small hotel in Venice and the third night was spent in the town of Mestre, a suburb of Venice but closer to the airport. The hotel was the Locanda Fiorita, which was closest to the Piazza Santo Stefano and the Saint Angelo Vaporetto stop. It was half the cost of the other lodging(129E), wonderfully located away from the heavy tourist areas and a short 15-20 minute walk to Piazza San Marco, or Rialto Bridge, or the Accademia. The room had lots of Venetian charm and a nice breakfast of croissants, juice and cappuccino. The Piazza Santo Stefano had several moderately priced trattorias, which we visited and enjoyed immensely. We visited the La Accademia museum after a light lunch, which had many religious works of art from the Renaissance. The cold weather and a long day called for an early turn in. Venezia II We started our day with a wonderful walk to the Piazza San Marco. It was very sparsely crowded that morning. It was chilly but a very clear day. We met our friend from the Millennium, Steve and Sandy and picked up a combination ticket for the Doges Palace at the Museo Correr-no wait. We headed to the Doges Palace which was overwhelming.-magnificent architecture and artwork. There is so much there that it could easily take more than the 2.5 hours we spent. It is comparable to the Vatican museum in its scope. We did spend some time in the Museo Correr which also had many works of art. We concluded the first half of the day by spending some time in the Basilica of San Marco. It is a magnificent building and the views from the upper floors are really special. It is also worth the extra euros to take the short tour behind the altar with the tomb of Santo Marco and the incredible gold altar. The famous Bronze Horses are there as well as a balcony view of the Piazza. After regrouping at lunch we headed to the Rialto Bridge and some shopping. One surprise was that prices along the Rialto Bridge market were actually cheaper than other cities we visited, including the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. We ended the touring part of our day by taking a gondola ride with the four of us. The total was 80E for about 40 minutes, but in sum it was well worth it. Our gondolier was third generation and although only 25, he knew plenty about the city. We also timed it close to sunset so we got both some areas in the daylight and at night. A great adventure! We ended the day by buying some wonderful sandwiches and pairing it with our last Rioja wine from Barcelona. Venezia III We bought an all day vaporetto pass(15E) and headed to the island of Murano. It does take a lot of stops but it gives one a chance to fully appreciate the total Venice and how surrounded it is by water. We did get to see two different demonstrations of glass blowing in Murano, which was most informative. When it came to purchasing glass frequently it was hard to tell which were actually Murano glass and which were copies. Several dealers showed us their books of Murano stickers. We did buy some small pieces of jewelry. Murano itself is worth the ride because it is Venice without the crowds. We headed back to our hotel to retrieve luggage. One thing I enjoyed about the vaporetto rides was that we would head to the very back of the boat which had a few outside chairs. Bundled up, this was a great adventure each time. On a couple of occasions, after a short conversation in Italian, a local would point out specific sights and explain them to us, fortunately in English. This was some of our favorite moments We decided to spend our third night in the city of Mestre. It was on the mainland and close to the airport. We had a very early flight and a water taxi was going to cost us 150E. After discussion with the hotel staff, we decided to haul our 3 pieces of luggage and a backpack on the vaporetto. We timed it a 3:00 so it avoided the rush hour. Even with all of this luggage the vaporetto staff only smiled and waived us on. We got off at the Ferrovia stop and went right to the Stazione Treni(Train Station). We caught the train to Mestre for about 4 E each and then went one block to our hotel. The Golden Tulip Tritone Hotel (89E) was easily accessible from the Mestre station. Our biggest challenge was bringing the luggage up the stairs at the train station. We could not find an elevator, but there must have been one there. Our next important task in Mestre was to locate the airport bus which was one short block down from the train station. This one of the reasons we stayed at the Tritone, its excellent location for transportation. We talked with some other tourists who stayed there and took the bus into Piazza Roma We bought our advance tickets for 3.5E each and caught our bus in the morning promptly at 0530 for our 20 minute ride to the airport. It worked like a charm( a cab ride would have been 35-40 E). We did do a little shopping while waiting for the restaurant to open that evening. We were able to find two magnificent pieces of Murano glass for very reasonable prices. One piece did have a minor flaw, but it did not matter. The hotel recommended a neighborhood restaurant called Ristorante MorO. For 36E we had an extraordinary meal with ½ carafe of house wine and the most extraordinary dessert. A fitting end to our extraordinary trip. P.S. We do have two albums of pictures on Shutterfly. If anyone wants to view them I can forward the website information. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Our Itinerary: 14 night Classical Med cruise, Barcelona, Villefranche, Florence, Rome (over night), Naples, Athens, Istanbul (over night), Mykonos, Santorini, Venice. This was a port intensive cruise with only 3 sea days. We booked our ... Read More
Our Itinerary: 14 night Classical Med cruise, Barcelona, Villefranche, Florence, Rome (over night), Naples, Athens, Istanbul (over night), Mykonos, Santorini, Venice. This was a port intensive cruise with only 3 sea days. We booked our air on our own using Delta Frequent Flier miles. We had a flight from Tpa to ATL and then to Barcelona. It was a good flight, we arrived Barcelona 10/5 at 11:00am. We had made arrangements to be picked up by BarcelonaTaxi@barcelonataxivan.com They picked us up right on time and brought us to our Hotel. We booked the Hilton Diagonal Mar through Hilton Honour rewards for two nights. The hotel is beautiful and it's not far to get anywhere in the city. It's not in Las Ramblas but it's only a bus ride or taxi away. The Ship: Millennium is beautiful. We were booked in the SkySuite 9121. We had a great Butler Ruben. He was always around in the event we needed anything. Our cabin was a Handicapped accessible room so we had a big bathroom and walk in shower (no tub). The only wear I saw in the room was where the curtains had been caught in the sliding glass door several times. I'm sure it wouldn't be cost effective to change them every time. though I do think they need to come up with a better idea for the sliders. We had wonderful service from Togi and Otto in the Platinum Club (Martini, Champagne and Wine Bar). Togi is very entertaining with his jugging of bottles. We had great food every night in the restaurant. This cruise we decided not to book the Specialty Restaurant. So every evening we were in the dining room. We had the best table mates, and our waiters Alberto and "G" were absolutely wonderful! The variety of food choices is amazing and the food comes out hot, fresh and great tasting. No one at out table ever complained about any meal. For Lunch if we were on the ship we ate at the buffet. The food was always good and the variety of choices were abound. Breakfast we usually dined in our cabin, occasional we snuck out for the wonderful waffles! We booked our itineraries some on our own and some thru the ship. For Villefranche we went on our own. You can take a train which isn't difficult and get to Nice, Cannes, Monaco and Monte Carlo. We chose to go to Cannes and Nice. Be warned though the trains are not in the best part of town so once you get off, you have to walk a long way or take a cab to get to the interesting sites. Florence (Livorno) we took the ships slow food movement tour. It was a great choice. We went to an Esturcan archeological site, a winery, where we had an awesome lunch, an olive oil factory. It was a great tour and we really enjoyed ourselves. Rome (Civitavecchia) we took the ships "Angels & Demons" tour. It takes you to sites mentioned in Dan Browns book. It was a great tour, and it includes alot of the sites you'd want to see anyway. The second day we decided just to visit Civitavecchia. It's a great little town. The port has a free shuttle which will drop you off not far from the train station so you can get a train back into Rome if you want. Naples - we booked seesorrento.com (Marcello) and we took the Amalfi Coast tour. IT's well worth the money and we had a fabulous lunch that had breath taking views. Athens - We booked georgestaxitours@yahoo.com Our driver was Tony. He was the best. He is very proud of his town and knows alot about the history. Istanbul - we booked the ships 2 1/2 day tours. First day was European side visiting the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, rug demo and the famous market. Second day was Asian side and Topkopi Palace. I was disappointed in the second day as the bus took us over the bridge to the Asian side and turned around and went back to the European side. Other than that the tour did go to most places you probably want to visit. Mykonos - what can I say but Beautiful! You definitely can do this Island on your own. It's friendly and beautiful. Santorini - We did the Oia wine tour thru the ship. It's a great idea if there is going to be some ships in port as we got to the top of the Island by bus. You can only get up otherwise by walking, donkey or cable car. There is 6 cable cars that hold 6 people in each. we had 4 ships in port on our day and the line to go up and down the mountain was very long. We only were in port from 7-3pm so if you didn't get moving first thing you didn't get to see alot of the Island. This port is very picturesque and beautiful. Would have loved more time here. Maybe on the next cruise. We only made one Show and that was the Ventriloquist. If he's on board don't miss him, he's really good and it's a great show. Usually we make more shows but we had so much to do we just never made it. All in all we had a great time, great ship and met great new friends. We'd definitely sail Millennium again. It's now my husbands favorite ship. I still love Constellation, she's my favorite. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Four of us were between 40-50 really enjoyed this trip. We were some of the youngest people on the Millennium. But we could not keep up with some of the seniors, who danced all night. We found this trip to not be a restful one, we wanted ... Read More
Four of us were between 40-50 really enjoyed this trip. We were some of the youngest people on the Millennium. But we could not keep up with some of the seniors, who danced all night. We found this trip to not be a restful one, we wanted to see as much as possible and tried to pack as much as possible to our days. The Millennium does show a lot of wear and tear. The ship needs new carpets and a bit of updating. Embarkation was a breeze, no wait and the ship was ready for us before 11am. Our rooms were ready around 1PM and our luggage arrived to our room between 2-4. We stayed in Barcelona the night before which I would suggest. Barcelona is a beautiful city. We booked airfare and hotel through Celebrity and we were happy with both. We wished we had stayed in Venice for a night on our return. We did not have any time to see Venice. The food or service was not as good as an earlier trip on the Celebrity's Galaxy but it was still fine. Our waiter was not the best in the dining room, but he did get us anything we asked for. Nice, France We did a ships tour to Monte Carlo, and Eze which was great, except for a few complaining older people who did not like all the walking but we read the write up which said walking up to 3 miles. Florence, Italy Another ships tour of Florence/Pisa, well worth the trip. The guide was very full of info.( you must pay for bathrooms and if you want to sit in a cafe you must pay extra to sit down)Another long day of sites and walking. Rome/Civitavecchia Rome is unbelievable! We had a private tour, and highly recommend Stefano at romecab@yahoo.com our best day of the trip we had a wonderful English speaking, nonsmoking guide who took us everywhere before the tour buses. We had lunch in "The Little Tomato" our guide ordered for us and a nice wine, it was perfect. Stefano also arranged a private guide for the Vatican. Marco was outstanding, he was $60 euro an hour but well worth every penny. He took us right in with no lines and for two hours told us more than we could take in. This is one place not to miss. The second day in Rome we took the train from Civitavecchia which was a short walk from the port, an hour ride and walked around on our own. This was fun also but we wished we booked the guide for both days. Enjoy Rome! Naples/Capri We took a ships tour Capri/Sorrento/Pompeii. Capri was another favorite stop.A great lunch in Sorrento. Pompeii was amazing. Athens/Greece Private tour in Athens spirostours@yahoo.com. Spiros is a wonderful man and would highly recommended him also. We had a great day. Istanbul/Turkey We took the two day ships tour, both were a half day. Very interesting, a clean and large city. We were very glad to have a guided trip of the city. We saw a lot and learned much about Turkey. Mykonos/Greece We walked around on our own. It is a safe and beautiful island. Santorini/Greece We took the cable car up and walked down. This to is one of the most enjoyable and beautiful places we went. We all would go back here. I can see why it is a great vacation spot. All in all a great vacation which I highly suggest for you to do. But keep in mind it is not a time for just relaxing! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
I sailed on Celebrity Cruises' Millennium on Aug. 17, 2007 from Barcelona to Venice. The itinerary was wonderful as were the shore excursions. I booked all of them in advance on their web site and my tickets were waiting in my room ... Read More
I sailed on Celebrity Cruises' Millennium on Aug. 17, 2007 from Barcelona to Venice. The itinerary was wonderful as were the shore excursions. I booked all of them in advance on their web site and my tickets were waiting in my room when I arrived. Since I'm talking about shore excursions, let me say that I found that the ship's Shore Excursion Department was extremely organized. We met in the Celebrity Theater for each tour. Considering there were hundreds of guests participating in various tours, there was never any mass confusion. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived about 12:30pm and walked right up to an agent. Since we had done our on-line checkin, the process took less than 5 minutes. When we boarded, we were served champagne or a mimosa and escorted to our cabin. This was a very nice touch. In terms of the ship, I was a bit disappointed in the dEcor. There is nothing about the dEcor that is eye-popping like the ships with Royal Caribbean or Carnival. I would describe it as understated elegance, which is what I guess they want it to be. We were in an oceanview room, which was actually more spacious than I thought it would be. The room had a hair dryer, safe and mini-bar. They also have the new bedding, which was wonderful! There is a desk, small sofa and small table. Also there is plenty of closet space. The beds are high enough off of the floor that you can stash your suitcases underneath. They also have very nice phones, which have the time and also caller ID!! So when your friend is calling from their room, their name appears on the display! We were confirmed for early dining. However, prior to the cruise, we decided that because of very long touring days, we wouldn't go to the dining room every night and would just go to the buffet. I was extremely disappointed in the options at the buffet. On other cruises I've been on, I always was able to get a fully cooked meal. Here the choices were pasta and salad bar, pizza, sushi (which was excellent), hamburgers and hot dogs and ice cream (which was also excellent and FREE!). They also had an option called the Aqua Spa Cafe which was in the solarium area. It was actually a bit hidden and in my opinion was the best kept secret on the ship in terms of food. Here they had light fare, which was delicious! I found out that the same staff (cooks and servers) took care of this venue as those in the Olympic Restaurant (specialty restaurant). They also have an option called Casual Dining. This is a great alternative, however, I feel that it should be called something else, because it is not at what I would consider casual dining. It's dining very similar to the dining room, just in the Ocean Cafe (buffet area). The service personnel are in training (which I found out from a friend) and therefore, can be lacking. The food is good and you get your full courses. Reservations are required and there is a suggested $2 per person gratuity. One thing I found disturbing, however, is that our waiter here, as well as our waiter in the dining room solicited us to be sure to make comments on the comment form. I didn't think this should come from the caliber of personnel that Celebrity has. The room service was excellent. They had a lot choices, including steak and French fries, which were very good. We ordered our food about 6pm and it took a bit longer than I expected (about 45 minutes). The buffet at lunch time was much better and I found that there were a lot more choices. Another example of the great service on board a Celebrity ship is that at the lunch buffet after you make your choices, a waiter takes your tray for you and escorts you to an available table. We also had the opportunity to dine in the Olympic Restaurant. The cost is $30 per person. Although the specialty dining on cruise ships is not my thing, I found this experience to be delightful. The setting, of course, is very elegant and is great for a special occasion. At first, I thought it would be stuffy, but the staff were very friendly and interacted with us. There were more choices on the menu that I expected. You have your choice of either a 4 or 6 course meal. And if you like wine, you can choose wine pairings with each course (for an additional fee of course.) We arrived there early (6pm) so it took about 2 hours. But if you arrive later in the evening, it usually will be longer than that (about 3 hours). And needless to say, the food was outstanding. The entertainment was very good. This is one of my favorite things on a cruise. The production shows (three of them) were fabulous. The costumes and sets were great and the dancers, the musicians and singers were very talented. On the other nights, they had singers, comedians and a virtuoso pianist, who was incredible. They also have a cinema on board where they showed movies. I was disappointed, however, that they repeated the same movies halfway through the cruise. Also around the ship, they had good entertainers. In particular, there was an a cappella group called Top Deck. This group consisted of 4 young men, who recently graduated from college and took on this venture before starting a "real" job. They were so talented and very entertaining. We tried to catch their act at every opportunity. They offered several lectures. Although I didn't attend any of them, I find that to be a nice benefit to the guests. They also offered complimentary computer classes. The internet cafe was staffed most of the time when the ship was at sea and they were very helpful with guests who weren't familiar with computers. Debarkation was also VERY organized and went very smoothly. Instead of having ALL of the guests be out of their rooms and in public lounges early in the morning, they asked guests be in an assigned public lounge at a certain time based on their colored tags. And then they came to that lounge to escort us to the gangway. This alleviated those annoying announcements and the lounges weren't as crowded as on other cruise lines I've been on. It was a great trip. I can't say enough how great a cruise line Celebrity Cruises is!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
This is ridiculously long . . . tried to organize to allow you to pick the items of interest to you. Enjoy - we sure did! Overall - we loved our experience. However, I wouldn't say that we are HUGE cruising fans. Cruising isn't ... Read More
This is ridiculously long . . . tried to organize to allow you to pick the items of interest to you. Enjoy - we sure did! Overall - we loved our experience. However, I wouldn't say that we are HUGE cruising fans. Cruising isn't the only vacation we do and I wouldn't want to do it every vacation. But it does make sense for an itinerary like the Med and given the exchange rate, it was more affordable way to see Europe right now. On the plus side: cruising is very relaxing and an easy way to travel. On the other hand, I am happy we've had other experiences in Europe. If you really want to experience a city in Europe - you need to spend at least a few days there. But it was a fun way to see the Med and or get an overview of Europe and great for those like us with limits to the amount of vacation time and spending available; I was very happy we did it. o In hindsight, our Rome tour was my biggest regret. I was happy we had private tour - but I knew better - I've been there before . . . quantity vs quality thing. Being able to say you saw everything isn't the same as picking a few spots and really enjoying them. If you don't mind rushing and racing around - then you can see it all. Mind you, you will jump out of the car and only have a few minutes to snap a photo ("look everyone - there's the Forum, sorry, don't have time to tour it, hurry back!") o I also regret we didn't spend the night in Rome, then take the high speed train to Florence and catch up with the ship the next morning. I love Rome and it would have been a better way to enjoy more of it and enjoy the evening when all the day tourists are gone. Better yet - I wish Celebrity would overnight in Rome since the port is so close to Florence anyway! Or at least leave at 11pm. o Sharing personal drivers was terrific - however, you might want to trim your list of places to see (especially Rome where you spend 3 hours to/fro eating up much of your day) so that you can experience a few spots fully, especially if you are really interested in something - AND experience great food in relaxing setting. You could always set a time/place to rejoin your private tour so that you can do some things at your own pace. That's our preference and won't work for everyone - we are healthy, active and prefer to be away from crowds as much as possible. We loathe wearing stickers and following a group of people - we are more independent travelers. Our ship was a floating hotel for us. We did share private tours at nearly every port as it made financial sense and saved time from taking local transportation. If we had several days in port - we would do it all on our own. La dolce vita! o Do separate from your group as much as possible and just pick a time to meet up. You don't need to spend every minute of a 10 hour tour with these folks. o Suggestions for Celebrity: ? I do wish our entire cruise experience reflected the ports we were visiting. British Pub night while in Florence made no sense to me. Also wish the evening menu reflected the ports of call. Maybe one drink of the day could also reflect the port of call/country. ? Put sliders on the chairs on deck 10 to reduce noise. ? Implement non-smoking staterooms - maybe one side of ship? ? Improve the newsletter - way too much paper. Front page should include: dress for eve, weather forecast. Each page should have date . . . we had so much paper - mostly sales stuff selling other cruises, spa treatments or something in the store. Show videos on other ports of call instead! Expand the section for common phrases in the language of port of call. ? What would you do if you miss the ship? Is there a phone number for any of the ports?? Something I thought about a few times . . . but thankfully didn't need. Tired the "port agent" once, phone just rang and rang. ? Show National Geo videos or travel channel stuff for each port of call - and only for the next upcoming port of call. ? Implement something so that vacant pool chairs for a certain period are cleared for new guests. Seeing all chairs "taken" yet 1/3 empty is annoying. ? Get rid of party band by pool each eve - use local musicians instead, again reflecting the port of call. o We did hear chair scraping noise in morn and at night (cabin 9201) and sounds from revelers every now and then on deck above - it did wake me (I am a light sleeper) but not enough that I would give up my room. I would prefer a lower deck to avoid that though. Not a big deal though. o Our cabin steward was Antonio and we was awesome - our room was refreshed every time we stepped out! Lovely! Can't say enough about the service - I don't think it could be much better! o We will most likely cruise again for unique itineraries where cruising makes sense (Alaska, maybe Galapagos, etc.) We will consider Celebrity again (so far our best experience over Holland America (Yuk!) and Carnival) we and very much enjoyed the Millennium, although I am intrigued by the idea of smaller, more personal ships. I am sure there are higher quality ships and lines - but for our price range - it certainly met or exceeded expectations. o I have online photo gallery - if you want to see it, send me an email to Psuflita (at) gmail (dot) com ? A note about airports in Frankfurt & Munich - we flew Lufthansa from SFO to Frankfurt, then to Venice. We had plenty of time between flights - or so we thought. There we were in terminal not far from our departure gate (or so we thought.) So we decided to spend our extra hour in the business class lounge, after all - we used a bunch of miles to get these seats, lets enjoy all the benefits (LH biz class lounge was just OK.) A few minutes before our flight was to board, we decided to mosey on over to our gate - WRONG! What we saw was several hundred people standing in another security line! Arrrgghhhhhhh. No one mentioned that we would need to clear two more passport checks and another line for metal detector and x-ray our carry on items! It took us an extra hour to get through these lines (and we were thankful because the line was even longer for EU members) . . . and we RAN the mile or so (who the heck spaced those gates so far apart; they sound so close?) and then had the lovely added benefit of some woman from Lufthansa yelling at us about not planning our time better and that they were about to take our luggage off and leave without us, etc. etc. etc. Yelling! Seriously - she scolded us all the way onto the plane! Can't she see we are running and well aware we almost missed the plane? Did Lufthansa employees think to mention to us at the lounge or when landing -something like: "hey, you connecting flight people better hoof it on over to your gate 'cause it takes FOREVER and we aren't happy to check your passport just once, we like to do it at least at two different stops with two different lines! Viel Glueck!" (good luck in German). In any case, the flight attendant who witnessed the tongue lashing in Frankfurt was incredibly kind to us . . . we shook it off happy to be on our way to Venice! The return connection through Munich was better; the airport is smaller and we knew better than to wait on the other side of security. Again we had to go through two passport checks AND a line for x-ray screening of our carryon, etc. but the lines were quick. Our gate was on the other side of the extra security and had no lounge, no place to get coffee, etc. But we were happier not to nearly miss our flight. They also stamped my passport in and out of Germany - what is up with that? I am just connecting flights - didn't even have time to pee in the country! Our luggage arrived without a hitch; although I did cross pack and include two outfits in my carryon, just in case. Advice I picked up on CC! ? Transportation from Venice to pier - although I love the water taxi . . . didn't make sense for the location to pier. We used http://airports-shuttle.com/, cheaper than the ship transfers. Driver was waiting for us and zipped us right to the ship - no waiting. ? Note about money: ATMs work great - only had one cranky machine. It was the way to go. Do remember to do the conversion; when I first took out withdrawal I forgot it was in Euros and thus, exceeded daily withdrawal amounts so it didn't work. After I had the "DUH!" moment, it worked like a charm. Also . . . almost everyone does everything in cash in Europe! All guides, taxis, etc. Just for backup, make sure you have a pin for cash withdrawals with your credit cards in case your ATM card doesn't work (or is stolen.) We hardly ever carry that much cash around anymore . . . but you definitely need it in Europe. DO call your credit card companies and bank before you leave home - we heard of folks having their credit cards frozen for fear of fraud. Read up on tipping - we encountered Americans who were tipping WAY too much for local standards. Here is further info on subject http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/eurotips.htm http://www.fodors.com/wire/archives/001892.cfm ? Embarkation: NOROVIRUS Notices everywhere! GULP. We had to fill out special questionnaires because the last cruise had an outbreak of noro. Had overwhelming urges to wash my hands! Staff was on hand to greet us as we walked in and explain the situation. They were very kind and apologetic. Maybe a cruise for our 25th anniversary was NOT the right idea - but then we remembered that most outbreaks of noro do NOT happen on a cruise, it can happen anywhere. If people would just wash their hands . . . Boarding was delayed for extra sanitation (some passengers annoyed - but I felt differently - take your time people! If you need more time to clean - have at it!) Embarkation did begin at 4pm promptly and we were in the first group to board (we had concierge class cabin.) Yeah! People cleaning EVERYWHERE. My hands are now raw from washing already! We went to our room (9201) it was very nice, balcony awesome - and quickly showered to freshen up. By the time we were out of shower, our luggage had arrived! Bleach smell in our bathroom was a tad overpowering but after running the shower was fine, and frankly, it gave me some peace of mind that our room really was clean. Because the ship was late embarking, the shuttle to Venice was free! Yay . . . away we went! ? Staying in touch - my Blackberry rocked. See blurb below in what I packed. ? Food- we were delighted to be in such a rich culinary part of the world. We wanted to really taste where we were - even if it meant skipping the dining room or some courses at dinner (which always left my waiter asking, "are you sure?"). We drank local wine - and purchased wine for our room in many of the ports. I had Frommers recommended restaurants and was delighted with results. The only times I was disappointed was when I let one of our tour guides select the restaurant - they always picked an overpriced spot with the menu in multiple languages and the only other guests in the restaurant were other tourists. Next time I will listen to my instincts and my Frommer's guide. o We skipped the dining room several times for dinner, never used for breakfast or lunch. My only real criticism - need more vegetables in the meals - and if there is a way, fresher veggies. I bought some real tomatoes in port and they all teased me about it. We gave the extras to our waiter assistant and he was soooo happy. Otherwise - it met our expectations for a dining room serving 1,000+ people at a time. It isn't gourmet - and the ship isn't the Ritz Carlton. I think too many people have unreasonable expectations that this is a 5-star dining experience. It isn't. But it isn't costing that either. Eating in a dining room with hundreds and hundreds of people is never going to be 1st class. Its way better than Olive Garden though (and our experiences on Holland America and Carnival) so adjust your expectations and make the most of it! o We had a table for 2. Dining room food was very good; service was excellent. Breadsticks are amazing! Our waiter was Kressov (sp?) and Asst waiter was Edgar - they were awesome! Asst Maitre D - can't recall his name, but he looks like a tall Buddy Holly - also outstanding. Our wine stewards were awesome and tolerated our slow decisions. Seriously - Celebrity really shines with service. Outstanding! Saw some whiners giving the staff a hard time; I feel for the staff, they really go out of their way to please. It reminded to be thankful for my table of 2. One woman made a big scene about wanting to be at a table of 8 and yelled at several staff . . . then repeat performance the next night when the other 6 guests at new table didn't show. Again, thankful I don't have to sit with any poopy people. Maitre D said it right . . . on a ship of 2,200 people, thank goodness we only have a few like that. o The Olympic was very nice, food was great - service hovered a little too much, but I think they were just trying to impress. We also splurged on the wine pairing service (another $30) - very happy we did so! We had planned to dine twice here . . but there was just too much food on the ship (and in port - hello gelato!) Didn't feel like one more big meal and cancelled our 2nd night. Besides, we loved our dining room team and it was fun. o We ordered breakfast room service every day - usually just for coffee and the yogurt parfait! o We only used the buffet for ice cream and sushi bar; once for tea and goodies. Happy to see they don't allow people to touch everything. Staff handled all that. o The aqua cafe was awesome for healthy lunch - yummy gazpacho! o Ordered a latte from Cova was very good; didn't indulge in the baked items. Hey, eating every 2 hours anyway . . . never could work up an appetite! o I forgot to tell them we didn't want bread at every restaurant in port - as a result we had to pay for it (usually $2 Euro per person.) For some reason, bread in Italy is substandard at restaurants. Pass it up! It is tasteless and often stale. Save your money for gelato! ? Things I wished I had packed - or was sooooo happy I did: o Pump hand soap for our stateroom bathroom - I don't like slimy soap bars and didn't use any public restrooms for sanitary reasons (read CDC website on noro) o Corkscrew (it was coveted by many!) o French press coffee maker + our own coffee (we ordered a pot of hot water and steamed milk each morn - perfect for us finicky coffee aficionados) o Suntan lotion - the spray on kind, put it on in the morn, and away you go o Good hand lotion to carry in your purse - all that hand washing and sanitizing leaves your skin dry! o 25 year old wine to celebrate our 25th anniversary -we brought an amazing wine, but ended up bringing it back with us. Our hotel sent up champagne on our anniversary - so we decided to celebrate again when we got home. That bottle is well traveled now - great idea though! o Travel power strip - LOVED it. http://www.shop.com/Monster_Power_MP_OTG400_SLV_Outlets_To_Go_4_Outlet_Power_Strip_%28Silver%29-42342158-p!.shtml o Small scissors o My own shampoo & conditioner o Sewing kit - sure enough, we needed it o SpaSensials foot socks for my aching feet! They saved my life! Was perfect way to refresh them after long days in ports . . . http://www.spasensials.com/products.asp#Foot o Sleeping pills to help me sleep once I got to destination and adjust to new time zone! o Seasickness patch - I cut in half (recommended from someone on CC Board) - had ZERO side effects this time, and no seasickness. YAY! o My Blackberry (T-Mobile service)- I emailed in each port and at sea to give a travelogue of sorts to my kids. Stored all details of our schedules and contacts in it so I didn't have loads of paper. Incurred NO additional cost for email and web use, did use the phone a few times and incurred $64 in international phone rates - 2 calls while at sea. Delighted with its functionality and reception - in fact, laughed as it had way better reception in Europe and remote spots than it does in my home! Of course, I had disabled work email before leaving home ? o My husband's camera phone so we could immediately send photos (silly and otherwise) to our kids. o Wish I had brought little packets of salt/pepper - the ship ones were sterilized so much they didn't work well. o iPod + little travel speakers ? Favorite spots on ship/entertainment o Loved the T pool!!! Great spot to have indoor/outdoor feeling. The spa was invigorating - but warning: don't shave your legs 24 hours before using it. All that salt water - Ouch! o Loved 2nd floor pool bar and Fabian, my favorite bartender o Our private verandah . . . I had my lounge chair in the sun, and hubby prefers shade. Perfect. Also fit a large table and two regular chairs. Could have fit more! o Missed having a fun $10 store like we experienced on Mercury. Other stores were OK. Only purchased from the temporary boutiques, nothing inspired me. Prices were fair and often much better than in port. (What's with the cruise line emphasis on shopping anyway?) o Didn't use spa services this time around (itinerary way too busy) but we did tour the facilities and began cracking up when the sauna door got stuck (with a guest inside!) They called someone to fix immediately - and the guest decided she really didn't want the sauna after all ? o Casino - we went there a little; cigarette smoke always got to me though. They do have non-smoking area, but it only has regular slot machines which don't ring my bell. o Used a few bars before dinner - usually whichever was closest to the dining room. . . service was always great and bartenders often very entertaining! o Entertainment -went to the pick pocket show - it was really good. Not a big fan of cruise ship entertainment so we really didn't sample much else. We had 2nd seating (delighted about that) and we were usually first off the ship in port (and once almost the last back-story to follow ?) We did enjoy the classical music - it was first rate. Other music seemed a tad cheesy (but that's always been our experience on cruise ships, and frankly, to be expected. Remember all those comments from Simon Cowell? Its true!) Even guitar dude was just OK. Can't they get someone who plays Jack Johnson or John Mayer? Listened to DJ music twice in the Navigator Club - wowie, Elton John and Barry Manilow. Dismissed ourselves early. Thank goodness for the iPod. o Missed having a yoga or pilates class first thing every morning as we were arriving in port like our Mercury Mexico cruise experience. Just as well though, we were off to our ports first thing. ? Excursions: we only did 2 ship sponsored - everything else we did on our own or pre-arranged, see ports of call for details: o Jeep tour in Croatia - A bust - see ports of call below o Riedel wine tasting seminar - it was OK, they will work the kinks out. Would have preferred tasting better wines - would even be willing to pay more for it for really good wine. It was $85 a piece and included having 4 Riedel crystal tasting glasses sent to you (you pay shipping) Fair deal. ? Ports of call: o Venice - ahhhhhhhhhhhh, such a magical place. We wandered away from St. Marks Square. Holy cow - way too many Ps (people and pigeons.) We went off the beaten path and had awesome meal which was very reasonable for Venice standards, and did some great shopping. Toured Doge's Palace - awesome. Otherwise wandered and experienced. Lovely! We did enjoy the dueling orchestras in St. Mark's square after nightfall (when the Ps are gone!) It is overpriced to get a table there and who cares! The live entertainment and ambience was worth every penny! o Dubrovnik - I researched and knew that there were 4 cruise ships in port. Ugh. So I selected a ship excursion - 4WD jeep tours; far away from crowds. Now this has an upside and a downside. As it turns out, it was a windy day and our ship couldn't get close to the port - so the tenders were far away and took forever. Some folks didn't get off the ship until 1pm! We didn't tour the city because of time, but I didn't feel like it was huge loss - others reported huge crowds and overpriced shopping. And it was HOT and humid! The positives to this tour: ? We were first to get off the ship - but still much later than we hoped because of tender situation ? It was just 10 of us ? We had amazing and authentic lunch that almost made the whole excursion worth it - it was in someone's private olive oil press room. Awesome! ? We made great friends and laughed so hard at the comical situation ? Tour guide was good at skipping rocks (I am really reaching here!) and he had a crush on Ashley (one of guests on our tour) - she was our ploy! We took a real road back to town from lunch; not sure if that was his plan all along, but we credit adorable Ashley and will be forever thankful! The negatives of this tour: ? Think: Deliverance meets Dubrovnik! ? Tour was way overpriced for what it was ? "Jeeps" were beat up vehicles with broken vents, broken gas gauge, broken air conditioning and at least ours was in desperate need of shock absorbers! So, we had our windows open . . . we ate a lot of Konvale dust! We should have known from all the dents and serious scrapes on the vehicle what we were in for! Mirrors were broken, etc. ? Outside of one scenic path - the tour was nasty dirt road, while we ate dust from the vehicle in front of us, we were poked by bushes from the narrow overgrown path and bounced all over. o But all this aside, the friends we made and laughs we shared made it all worth it! I wouldn't do it again, and wouldn't have done it if I had known what it was . . . but luck was on our side as we had 10 of us in 3 jeeps - all of whom were so much fun to be with! o Santorini - we prearranged a rental car with Damigos. We were first ones off ship (yeah concierge class) and took the first cable car up. Our rental car dude was waiting for us with a sign and walked us to the rental car place. The streets aren't named so thank goodness he took us. We got the car for the day for $42Euro - very happy. We wandered all around the Island - loved Ia (we were leaving as the buses were arriving!) and then headed to the beaches. Loved Kamari beach - and we had awesome lunch there (Maxi!!!) It was so damn hot - and this beach was magic. Nice breeze, amazing local wine and beer! We shared a Greek salad that was amazing and my husband had a stuffed burger thingy - beef pattie stuffed with feta and prosciutto -YUM! I also had a beef pattie thingy no stuffing that was so delicious . . . round potato thingys, tsatsiki, lemon and pita. Our best meal of the trip - MAGIC! We also found a winery, did more sitting in the breeze, purchased some olive oil soaps and local wine. Watched the sunset, ate another Greek salad in Fira. I don't know why I wasn't hungry for dinner! That eve it rained and the rest of the trip was perfect - not hot or humid!! o Athens - one of the best deals of the trip. I originally secured Spiros (Athens taxi http://www.athenstaxi.net/) but last minute our group expanded and we needed a mini van. So Spiros' colleague George was our awesome driver. Tour was $450 Euro and could easily accommodated 12 very comfortably. George lived in South Africa for a time so his English was great; he was happy to let us all do our own thing and meet up at agreed upon times. Terrific - LOVED the Acropolis. Note about Acropolis: It is very slick walking surface! We saw two spills and one person on the ship broke her arm! She was wearing Sperry Topsider tennis shoes! Thousands of years of wear makes the marble like glass . . . so do wear shoes that don't slip. Both my husband and I slipped a little, I was wearing rubber soled shoes. But don't let that stop you, just walk slow - hold onto railings and prepare to be in awe! Had greek salad - yum (yes, my 3rd in 2 days!) Plaka was totally fun. Museum very impressive. I liked Athens so much more than I expected! o Naples - went with private tour (arranged by another) with Francesco Marrapese - he was very good, rode in Mercedes mini-van. Pompeii was soooo totally cool! We had a private guide and it was worth it. Also did a tour of Amalfi coast - Sorrento & Poisitano. Spent a little too much time in the car for me - and stopped at some wood inlay place that we could have skipped. Road is verrrryyyyy narrow - had our mirrors tucked in so they wouldn't be taken off by oncoming traffic! A little harrowing at times. Had OK lunch. Great tour overall. o Civitavecchia/Rome - went with private tour (arranged by another) Rome in Limo. Driver drove like a bat out of hell . . . the plus side, got in and out of Rome in record time! I should have asked him to slow down . . . mind you, I have been accused of being a lead foot many times, but he was going so fast - and on return trip, in the pouring rain. I thought about asking him if he was headed to a fire. On the plus side, he was very knowledgeable and certainly kept us on schedule. But as you will see in my overview above . . . we did the speed demon tour of Rome, had a mediocre overpriced lunch at restaurant selected by guide (with only other tourists in restaurant and menu in multiple languages - a sure sign of a trap) and had no time for wandering or shopping. It was go, go, go. This was the only tour I really wish we had done differently. Oh well! We did see it all - while in the fast lane perhaps! o Livorno/Florence - soooooo happy I didn't sign up for any private tours for this. This also was a return trip for me so I knew it was a small and manageable city. We took a taxi mini van to the train station - total fee $20 Euro divided by your group. (Walk past all the taxis that want to take you all the way to Florence and there are a number of local guys.) We got to the train station early and got on the 7:43am train (it wasn't the express, but got us to Florence before the 8:11am express train.) Train cost $25 Euro, round trip for the two of us. Doing Florence at our leisure was just what we needed after rush of Rome. We toured Pitti Palace - I spent $8 Euro for guidebook, did a fair amount of shopping; found great leather, jewelry and tomatoes! We had lunch at Il Latino (recommended on Frommers) it was AWESOME! We were only Americans in restaurant - it was 2nd best meal of trip. Wine was lovely also! Shared a slice of cake with hubby - not uber sweet. Portions are so right in Europe - not dripping with cheese or ginormous servings! Gelato was amazing as a great afternoon pick me up . . . decided to take the 4:27p train back. Oopsy, it was late leaving by 25 min. Note: Livorno doesn't have many taxis - but be patient. It is small town and they will drop off the other passengers and be back in 10 min. We were close to being a little panicked (Ok, more than close!) that we might miss the ship . . . but alas, we arrived with 20 minutes to spare! And there were 50 or so of us, so I don't think the ship would really have sailed without so many. That said - it was a nail biter. We did witness 4 passengers pull up just as the ship was pulling away . . . they lowered the gangway and several hundred passengers were all watching and cheering those late lucys! Met at the bar with our pals to bring our blood pressure down after thinking we might miss the ship. More laughs and excitement! o Villefranche - went with private tour Sylvie di Cristo . . . oopsy, she wasn't there as planned. She had 4 flat tires (discovered when the person who planned the tour called her!) Our tour started an hour late, but she brought some fresh French bread as a peace offering and still promised us the full tour. As luck would have it though, she drove a Peugeot mini van. While it did have 4 brand spanking new tires ?. . . it had waaaayyyy too many people for it. It supposedly accommodated 8 passengers - which might be doable if you were all midgets. Or at least all on the petite side. My husband and I are 6' tall . . . my legs were wedged in. And I mean wedged! (he was cracking up - glad I could provide the comic relief.) I couldn't sit at a slant unless I crowded out my neighbor further! Sardines come to mind. The seat didn't fold up, just the back pushed forward so wearing a skirt was fun while climbing out of the backseat. It also didn't have vents in the back and the poor folks who were wedged in the front seat had to endure the fan on super high so that air could reach the back. They were on the petite side and their knees were also wedged in. This was the most expensive guide we hired on the trip ($800 Euro!) Sylvie was lovely person and knowledgeable - but not worth the price especially with the sardine vehicle - IMHO. We toured St. Paul de Vence and had lunch there because it was already late, (found cute bistro with view - enjoyed wine from Provence - overpriced but to be expected considering location,) we also toured Eze. Note: I wouldn't tour both of these two Medieval towns - and you certainly don't need an hour to walk the town. The cities are super small and everything is overpriced. I looked at a scarf I liked - made in India. Totally charming, but I could have skipped one and experienced more of area. Then we headed to Monaco, I wish we had had time to tour the palace, and we went to the casino. Yay for that! So classy . . . I wore my open toed shoes, no problem. Marilyn in our group agreed to this tour as long as she had at least an hour in casino. I don't think others were too keen on this - but we had all agreed to this in email before the trip. This was highlight . . . we were on our own in the coolest surroundings. We enjoyed a glass of champagne in casino and were told to check out the bathroom, but I forgot. It was the highlight of the tour . . . so much classier than Vegas. No blinking lights or annoying noise. Great to experience and we aren't gamblers. Took photos of all the amazing cars parked out front. We spent a little time touring Villefranche before boarding the ship; I would have liked more time there - and more time on our own (not to mention less time as a sardine.) o Barcelona - we spent two nights here. Had great time, but it was such a huge modern city - quite a contrast to some of the other charming and quaint ports of call. We walked most of it - and took the hop on/hop off bus. It was nice that narration is via earplugs so if you prefer to use your guidebook and not have loud narration, it was possible. We discussed for several days and decided the best description of Gaudi was: Aliens meets Dr. Seuss! Didn't realize that the real Spanish tapas were mostly fried meat, so non-fried offerings were few and far between. Still, we had some very good food and Spanish wine. Stayed at the Hilton Diagonal Mar - enjoyed the executive club level breakfast and afternoon wine. Was very quiet and in the new part of the city - ocean view room, close to beach. Doorman was incredible - I gave him an extra bottle of champagne that had been gifted to us. Really, all the staff was awesome. Speaking some Spanish was a necessity in this city. We took a taxi to airport, ran about $30 Euros. ? Cruise Critic - I have to say, finding this website was a HUGE highlight and allowed me to really plan the trip. Thank you to the dozens of people who provided advice. DO take some advice with a grain of salt - look at their other posts - remember to consider the source. Some folks just expect WAY too much. We prefer to avoid lines, crowds, loud and "negative nellys" and each time we did our own thing, we would usually find ourselves leaving a spot just as the Celebrity tour bus was arriving. This made us very happy and off we would go to next spot to stay ahead of the crowds and buses - or better, find spots not visited by the crowds. I also have to say that we totally lucked out and we met awesome friends on this board. Our cabin neighbors made our cruise that much more enjoyable! I value meeting these folks and treasure the time and laughs we had together! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
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 ... Read More
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
Sail Date August 2007
My wife and 12 year old have been on maybe ten cruises and my wife and I did this exact cruise in 2002 (sans child). In 2002, it was the best vacation we ever had, great people, food, ports and rather cheap with the euro 1 to 1. Not this ... Read More
My wife and 12 year old have been on maybe ten cruises and my wife and I did this exact cruise in 2002 (sans child). In 2002, it was the best vacation we ever had, great people, food, ports and rather cheap with the euro 1 to 1. Not this time. Pound was over 2 to 1 and the euro was 1 to 1.50. The purpose of this trip was to introduce my son to the trials and rewards of travel. (vs. the Playstation game "Euro and Europe in summer.") We flew from LAX to London (AIR NEW ZEALAND--A+) and stayed for two days before taking the Eurostar to Paris ... and then taking the Artesia night "sleeper" train to VCE. Do not take this train unless you want no sleep! "Not possible" as the French would say. That magic dream moment of seeing my son walk out of the VCE train station and be impressed with the beauty of Venice was marred by 26 hours of no sleep and the throngs of summer heat and tourists. I grabbed a water taxi to take us to the ship dock. That is the only way to go. Walking in the heat... "Not possible." I talked the driver down to 85 Euros but some got it for 65. We were beat and Celebrity started loading passengers at 11am and we had lunch and were in our room by 1pm. We had cabins 7002 and 7003. They looked bigger and really were! Probably double the size of any other OV room. There was a full sized sofa bed with a very comfortable mattress. It was the best designed and most comfortable mattress I've ever seen on a sofa bed. There was a small entry way where we kept our suitcases, a desk with three feet all around it, two chairs beside the sofa and a window that both my son and I sometimes sat on to get a free internet signal. (Found on only in Croatia) The windows in these room face forward and had a "tunnel" view. The rooms are also not next to each other. There is a crew thing between the room and require a long walk between. Be careful with M-class forward rooms. The diagram makes rooms look close that are very far apart! The Port forward rooms are NOT across from the inside rooms as shown. Since we were at the dead end of the forward hall, there was NO noise of people walking by and it was a long way to the back or anywhere for that matter. We had one rough seas night and there was a lot of motion (expected at the front) and we were next to the anchor chain dropping during tender days. But I'd try for these rooms again. These were wonderful rooms for a family. Last trip on the Infinity we nearly killed each other because the space was so tight. The rest of my review if somewhat jaded. Europe was HOT and HUMID and my 12 year old is not interested in old stuff that doesn't have a video screen. The goal of our trip was to get him off the ship, take pictures, no suffer and back to the comfort and joy of shipboard life. We avoided all shore excursions that would trap us in a bus for 9 hours. This was to expose him the world but not too much. We had a lot of five to nine Euro cokes in front of most of the best parts of Europe. We trained to Rome, and took the Celebrity shuttles elsewhere. Some shuttles are sort of a rip compared to our 2002 trip where the docking was within walking distance of the city. Either security prevented walking or just the miles of walking made the shuttle sort of blackmail. Celebrity charged between 6.00pp each way to 20.00pp in Venice for a day pass. Adds up quick. We had early dining and the four of us had our own table. We had requested a large table (we like strangers). Food was okay to good, not the special small portions of tasty treats I remembered from 2002. We tried the specialty dining room but I think we were just too tired and hot to enjoy it properly. My son loved the Children's Club once we got him into it. The menu of the next day's activities left on his bed each night was wonderful. This is basically a tough trip in that every day is a great and exciting port. We looked into the showroom nightly but it seemed like all they did was old 50's show tunes and we were too tired to even tap our feet. Disembarkation was easy. Barcelona's had a zillion cabs (get the cabbie to commit to a meter BEFORE you get your luggage in his cab (if going close). We stayed in a H10 hotel. Clean, close and reasonable. Summary: Mission "not possible" was accomplished. We had some problems with airports and connections. Heathrow took hours in many lines and security before they let us into the "shopping center" they call an airport, then more security at the gate. Try to avoid Heathrow (and all airports....I know, "not possible") What I learned...make direct air connections with same carrier. AVOID: night sleeper trains, any hotel called "Mad Hatter" (London), summer in Europe, credit cards that charge 3%+ on all foreign transactions, Heathrow, expecting any "educational" vacation with a 12 year could be relaxing.... The most rewarding moment was after 26 hours of travel, we were about 30 minutes from home and my son says, "So where are we going next year?" Mission accomplished.... Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
My wife & I took our honeymoon aboard the Celebrity Millennium on a 13 day cruise during June of 2007. The departure port was Barcelona, Spain visiting Villiefranche, Pisa/Florence, Rome, Naples, Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik, & ... Read More
My wife & I took our honeymoon aboard the Celebrity Millennium on a 13 day cruise during June of 2007. The departure port was Barcelona, Spain visiting Villiefranche, Pisa/Florence, Rome, Naples, Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik, & finally finishing in Venice, Italy.We handled our own flight arrangements into Barcelona by flying in on Easyjet the morning of the cruise. It did take us sometime to find the Celebrity representative to take the bus to the cruise port since they did not have any sign directing passengers unlike the Disney cruise. Unfortunately we had a wait about an hour before we could depart because of additional passengers flying in the airport. The bus ride was not to long and after about 20-30 minutes then we arrived at the port to get aboard the ship. Check in was quick and easy but boarding of the ship did not begin for another hour so my wife & I had lunch in the shopping area of the port. Once aboard we headed to our stateroom, Celebrity advised us they would not be ready for another 2 hours but when we got there our room was clean & our luggage had arrived. My wife quickly took a nap since she was recovering from a bad bought of hay fever she had gotten while we were in England before the cruise. Our room was 9000; ocean-view stateroom, on Sky Deck. The room was very large since our room was one of the few ocean-view's on the deck, and apparently where the balcony was normally located we had an additional small pull-out couch and storage space. Closet & storage space was ample for all our luggage (which is a lot for a 2 week cruise). My wife was very impressed with the vanity mirror in the room. Our room also had a full couch which was very nice. The bathroom was a good for the size of room we had. The stateroom's TV & ordering system was easy to use and figure out. We used the TV a few times to order room service & breakfast during the trip. Room service was always delivered quickly and nearly always on time. Both our primary & secondary stateroom attendants were very polite and friendly throughout the cruise. Clean towels and other items were always in good supply. Since we were honeymooning, I had booked honeymoon package. The items were always promptly delivered on time for every night we were to receive them. The only issue we had with our room during the cruise it was located near a crew entrance for the bridge area. A few times during the cruise my wife & I were awoken by crew members coming & going through the door.The Millennium was enjoyable and was easy to get around. I definitely prefer the Millennium shop layout compared to other cruise ships. The staff of these different locations were always very helpful even on topics relating to the cruise and it's ports. The coffee bar makes an especially nice cappuccino & espresso in my opinion for you coffee lovers. The front desk staff were always helpful and the ATM & cash exchange services were located right next to it. Even though the weather was perfect for our entire trip the Millennium indoor pool is a great amenity on those warmers days when you just enjoy a good swim and not deal with the crowds outside. I was disappointed to learn once aboard that Celebrity has just gone to policy of no smoking inside the ship. When I booked the cruise it had there was a cigar bar located aboard but when we arrived it had been converted to a piano bar. Millennium offers a large variety of dinning & drinking venues aboard and we enjoyed them all while aboard. There were plenty of activities during our cruise though we only attended some because of being so tired after spending so much time in port during the trip. Our days at sea normally involved sleeping in late and going to various activities like art shows, shop sales, and other presentations. Since we were newly weds we did attend the ships get together for honeymooners & people celebrating anniversary's. If you are adventurous you can even participate in the game show during the event. One of the funniest moments of our honeymoon occurred watching the game show. My wife & I also won the contest for being the youngest newly weds aboard the ship. We got a nice prize packing including t-shirts, cards, mugs, a cake, and even a bottle of champagne. Food aboard the ship was very enjoyable. While Celebrity tout's their normal dinner service being very close to high class fine dinning, it fell a bit short of my expectations. Even then, the Millenniums food is far above both Carnival & Royal Caribbean ships I have sailed on. Dinner in the dinning room was always an event in itself normally involving 4-6 courses. I consider myself an adventurous eater and the nightly menu's always had something new to try plus having the classics as well. DJ our head waiter did a fantastic job during the entire cruise. DJ had been working on the Millennium for several years so he knew the menu's, the ship, and the port inside & out and provided us with valuable information. DJ was even able to help my wife & I get a very nice table at the Nautika restaurant in Dubrovnik since he was friends with ones of it's managers. The only issue we had with dinner service was our sommelier. My wife & I quickly befriended another honeymooning couple dinning with us. We decided to share a bottle of wine every night with them, our sommelier did not like this arrangement in addition she got upset for me during one meal for getting a class of cheaper wine that was a type that I particularly liked. Our final dinner service our sommelier never even came to our table. Our friend left the dinning room to order bottle of wine. The staff in the bar asked the reason and she explained the situation. They said they would take care of the delivery and a few minutes later our sommelier delivered the bottle of wine and an apology. The Ocean Cafe & Grill had enjoyable food for the most part. The made to order waffles are must to try while aboard. The nightly sushi bar was very good as well, always a popular place for a mid afternoon snack. We did notice a few things throughout our cruise that the previous nights dinner menu cakes & pies were often cut up to make desert for the next day's lunch. Towards the end of the cruise the ship began running out of fruit juice & fresh fruit for the buffet. The Platinum Club also had very nice martini's, I especially enjoyed the flight of martini's which was a great deal. My wife & I also had dinner in the fine dinning restaurant the Olympic while aboard. I purchased the dinner with the full wine package. Our food was fantastic and the service from the large staff of waiters/waitresses, sommiliers, and other individuals was superb. The wine pairings for each course were pretty spot on. Since again we were newlyweds the Olympic staff gave a entire cake to celebrate besides the regular deserts we received with dinner. The Olympic is a must for any foodie, but I would not recommend for children.As part of the honeymoon package I purchased we did get over an hour in Roman bath with skin treatments. All we had to due was to call and book an available time during the cruise. The treatment was in small private bath much like steam room. The experience was completely new for both my wife & I but was enjoyable. The only problems my wife & I had during our entire cruise was when leaving the ship. I bought some scotch & wine to take home. We were repeatedly told to put all alcohol in our carry-on luggage which my wife & I did. As soon as we left the ship and reach the airport that is where things got unpleasant. At Venice's airport you can not check in for your flight until 2 hours in advance. Since the Millennium and 2 other cruises ended their cruises on the same day, there were several thousand people stuck in the airport for several hours before they could check in to their flights. Luckily I found a table in the food court so my wife & I were able to sit while waiting, most people had to sit on the floor. When we finally checked in for our flight we headed through security which the Italian customs agent said I was not allowed to bring my alcohol through. He tried his best to help me put in our checked luggage but it had already left to the terminal. He was very upset about having to take it, which I did my best to assure him it was not his fault. Upon returning home I contacted Celebrity concerning the issue of my alcohol but never received a good answer on why the instructions were mixed up.The first port we visited was Villifrance located in between Nice & Monaco. I had booked a shore excursion to take us to both Nice & Monaco. The ships tender took us to our waiting bus where we headed to Nice first. The bus dropped our group off near old downtown just near the flower market. There we were free to walk around the city for over 3 hours. My wife & I enjoyed walking through the local street markets and local stores. We even took the opportunity to try some of the local pastries which were very enjoyable. We then headed to Monaco for the rest of our bus tour. The bus took us to Old Monaco which was some way from Monte Carlo where some people wanted to go. My wife & I enjoyed the old city and visited the royal family's home and then went shopping before we had lunch. We arrived a week after the F1 race so racing clothes were on sale everywhere. Lunch in a local Italian restaurant was great and the Monaco beer the owner said was terrible was quite good in you like a amber style beer. For sea lovers you can visit the aquarium which is world renowned. We than headed back to the ship and the drive was very scenic and enjoyable. My wife & I then walked around downtown Villefranche before heading back to ship. Contrary to the opinion rude Parisians have bestowed on their fellow countrymen the locals of Nice & Monaco were very friendly and talkative. The area was one of our favorite ports of the entire trip.Our second port was to area outside Pisa & Florence. Again I booked a bus tour to visit both locations. The drive to Pisa was not too long, but we quickly learned from our tour guide there isn't much to see in Pisa besides the leaning tower. Sure enough she was correct and the tour only spent about hour in Pisa. Be warned do not buy anything from the street vendors since it is illegal and you can face a 1,400 euro fine. We then headed to Florence which was a very beautiful drive. We walked to Dante's church to begin our free time within the city. Many headed to see the statue of David but my wife & I walked around to visit some of the cathedrals and old buildings. My wife definitely enjoyed the great number of fine leather and clothing stores located in the city. We had some additional time so we tried to go & see the statue of David after all but the wait was over 4 hours so were returned to shopping district to grab a bit to eat & get some gelato. If you don't have time to see David don't be depressed there are a number of other version commissioned as well throughout the area including a stone one in the center of the city. Overall Florence is a very interesting city to visit, if you are a big fan of the Italian Renaissance or shopping you'll most likely enjoy it.Our next port of call was Rome. Unfortunately President Bush was in Rome for a state visit and there were mass demonstrations across the city. It was advised Americans should be travel with as much discretion or not at all. We decided to stay at the Port of Civitavecchia and walk around. Since it was Sunday most of the stores were closed and nothing was going on there was not much to see or do.Naples was our next stop. I had been warned even before our trip to be extremely cautious in Naples by my history professor who had lived there for several years. Celebrity and especially the foreign cruise staff warned all passengers at length not to go into the city itself and to stick with your tours at all time. We were told to take no valuables with you and make sure you have hidden copies of the required travel documents just in case. Upon leaving the port you quickly find that Naples is a extremely dirty city with shanty towns and packs of roaming wild dogs. We boarded our bus to Pompeii, and as you drive there you can see the piles of trash every where because of the city's on & off trash strike. Pompeii itself was an enjoyable place to visit and would have been more so if we had not had the slowest tour guide I have ever experienced. Since my wife & I are both lovers of history and very familiar with the site from books, we asked to separate ourselves from the tour so we could move faster and see more of the site. The original idea was return to ship and take a cab to the Naples Museum of History, but some of our table-mates had taken a cab to Pompeii and on their return trip the cab driver tried 4 times to drop them off in strange parts of the city. Based on that and plus our tour guide and the locals telling as well not to go into the city we did not. I did enjoy a nice afternoon on the ship taking in the view of Mt. Vesuvius. The ship when departing did sail past the scenic island of Capri, which I told was by other passengers was a beautiful and interesting location to visit. All in all when enjoyed visiting Pompeii but nothing else really about our stop in Naples, so be forewarned about the port.Santorini was our next stop and by far the best stop on the entire cruise for both my wife & I. We took the ship's tender the cable car to take us up to Thira. Unfortunately there were also 2 other cruise ships anchored so the wait was about an hour. We didn't not want to take the foot path because of the distance or ride the really smelly donkeys. Upon reaching the top you get a breathtaking view of the entire volcanic caldera. After taking a few minutes taking in the view, we headed to main road north of Thira to get a taxi ride to the town of Oia. The cab ride was quite an adventure since the cab driver was driving very fast while dodging 4-wheelers & mopeds driven by tourists. Upon reaching Oia we quickly began walking around the local churches and shops. We did stop to help a local who had spilled his shipment of tomatoes down one of the walkways in the town. He was very appreciative of my wife, other tourists, and my help in rounding them all up. Walking along the path towards the northern point of the island is fabulous. I don't think I have seen more breathtaking views in my life. The local buildings are beautifully decorated with their white walls and brightly colored roofs and windows. All the while my wife & I visited the islands local shops buying some jewelry, drinks, and taking plenty of pictures. When the other tourists began moving in force into Oia, we headed to a local restaurant for an early lunch. The restaurant had a breathtaking balcony reaching over the edge of the caldera allowing for some great pictures. After lunch we headed back to Thira were we visited more shops, which my wife was impressed with the variety of fine jewelry stores. In the early afternoon we headed back to the ship, to cool and prepare for dinner later. At sunset we and a lot other passenger headed to the rear of the ship to take in what is considered one of the best sunset sets in all of the world. In the end, if my wife & I had one place to pick to visit again it would be Santorini. Though locals told us the beginning or end of the season is the best time to visit since during peak season as many of 8-10 cruise ships can be anchored any give day making Thira & even Oia very crowded. Athens was our next stop, and like our other stops we took a bus tour to the Acropolis. We left out Piraeus getting good bus tour through the city. The group made a short stop the spot where the first modern Olympics were held. The route to Acropolis was very winding threw the city but we finally reached our destination. Our tour guide gave us our ticket and told us what time to meet back the bus. We then walked up to entrance, and upon reaching there you begin to be screamed at by Athenian tour guides trying to move the crowds in & out the Acropolis. Reaching the summit you get to see the sight of the Parthenon. The Parthenon then, still, and for sometime in the future is going under restoration. Scaffolding covers certain sections of building and parts of the Acropolis are covered with blocks of marble being repaired or replaced. The experience is still exciting and the site allows from some great views of city of Athens. After returning to bus we stopped for a bathroom break at tourist shop run by a "friend" of the tour guide. We then proceeded back to the ship. It was unfortunate that my wife & I had to choose visiting the Parthenon or Athens History Museum. I hope they offer future shore excursions that include both. All in I enjoyed the experience greatly, though my wife found the Acropolis a bit boring.Dubrovnik, Croatia was surprisingly enjoyable port. We took the tender ashore and a bus to Old Dubrovnik. Its massive stone walls were very impressive. My wife & I headed to well known photo gallery dealing with the Yugoslavian/Bosnian conflict. The gallery was quite small for the entrance fee, but still a moving experience. After that we left headed into the city shopping at some of the local stores and enjoying the scenery. When finished we headed to the Nautika for lunch. Nautika is upscale seafood restaurant with a well known reputation in Europe. With the help our waiter DJ on the Millennium my wife & I got a very beautiful table on the porch overlooking ocean. The food was fantastic and I had the best calamari I've ever had in my life. Dubrovnik is quaint and very enjoyable destination and I look forward to the chance to visit there again in the future.Our final port was Venice. It is an interesting experience heading into port past St. Marco's square on a cruise ship. Once there you can easily take a water taxi from the port to St. Marco's. My wife & I then headed out on foot by ourselves to take in the city. Contrary to what many people had told us the city really had no odor and was pretty clean. Of course you do have to very careful of pigeons in St. Marco's square. My wife & I had a women walking right in front us get a hair full of poop. I would recommend walking in the covered areas as much as possible around the square. We decided not to take a gondola ride because of the high cost, plus my wife does not like small boats. We enjoyed our time walking and taking in the buildings and shopping in the many stores of all kinds variety. Venice ended up a lot better then what my wife & I expected since so many people had made negative comments about it before we left. It was definitely a very enjoyable place to visit.All in all the the honeymoon was fantastic and Celebrity & the Millennium lived up to nearly all the expectations and opinions I had heard before going on the cruise. Both my wife & I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone in the future minus maybe visiting Naples. 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Sail Date June 2007
My husband and I went on the May, 2007 Celebrity Millennium's 12 night cruise from Barcelona to Venice with 3 other couples. We booked through a travel agency but planned all the shore excursions on our own. The ship was wonderful, ... Read More
My husband and I went on the May, 2007 Celebrity Millennium's 12 night cruise from Barcelona to Venice with 3 other couples. We booked through a travel agency but planned all the shore excursions on our own. The ship was wonderful, the food service excellent and the wait staff very attentive. We all had balcony rooms and enjoyed the ability to sit on the balconies whenever we could. Because we had 8 to share the cost of private limousine services for land excursions, I found companies online and booked the excursions at prices less than what the ship could offer. Additionally, we had the luxury of being able to control our own times and locations. We used Revelation Tours in France, Italy Limousine for the first three ports in Italy, Santorini Tours in Santorini, Dennis Kokkotos in Athens, and Venice Boat International in Venice. In Dubrovnik, we took the ship's bus trip to Pile Gate and then met some friends who now live in Croatia who acted as our tour guides for the Old Town. Most memorable were the tours by Italy Limousine conducted in Rome by Carlo and the Amalfi Coast by Gianluca. These two gentlemen were exception in terms of their broad knowledge base, their personalities, and their attention to our needs. I used a portable wheelchair and they were very accommodating and made sure I was comfortable in the vans. I would be very happy to act as a reference for anyone taking the Mediterranean Cruise and can be contacted by e-mail. Three couples live in Arizona and we flew on US Airways through Philadelphia to Barcelona and back from Venice. One couple lives in Milwaukee and they flew on Delta through Atlanta to Barcelona and back from Venice. This cruise was the trip of a lifetime for my husband and me....a very memorable trip attributed to the Celebrity line and our personally planned shore excursions. Maria Walwork Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Celebrity Millennium Nov 10-24, 2006 Review by Host Joe November 9, 2006- Pre-Cruise We flew in a day early to Venice. After arriving at the airport we took the Aliliguna Oro, from the docks near the airport, which are about a 5 minute ... Read More
Celebrity Millennium Nov 10-24, 2006 Review by Host Joe November 9, 2006- Pre-Cruise We flew in a day early to Venice. After arriving at the airport we took the Aliliguna Oro, from the docks near the airport, which are about a 5 minute walk away. This boat service was $25 Euro per person, and took us directly to San Marco. We were able to bring all of our luggage with us at no extra charge, and we ended up being the only people onboard! We bought the tickets right at the dock. Once at the dock, we set off to find our hotel that I had booked online, Liassidi Palace. It was about a 5 minute walk to the hotel. When we got there, they informed us that they were overbooked, but were setting us up with an upgraded hotel right on the waterfront. They walked us to the Londra Palace hotel, which was right in front of the dock that we had just been docked at! The hotel was fabulous, and I highly recommend it! November 10, 2006- Embarkation We asked the hotel for help with a taxi, and the bellman walked us out the door and walked us right to a taxi boat. The service was $70 Euro, which is steep, but with luggage and all you don't have much of a choice! The taxi boat took us right to the bow of Millennium! There was a Celebrity rep there that took our luggage right from the taxi boat and we were off! We walked up to the building where they were doing the embarkation. It was 11am exactly. There was virtually no line. We were greeted pleasantly, got our cards, then got on a little bus that took us right to the gangway. We were the first two people to walk on, which was a very fun feeling. We were greeted with champagne and smiles. After lunch we went to our stateroom, 7019, balcony cabin. We loved it! It was one of the very forward cabins that are kind of framed, and we thought it was very unique and fun. The stateroom was in excellent condition, with new bedding, and everything was in great shape. After getting settled a bit, we walked back off Millennium to take the shuttle boat service that Celebrity offered. It was $15 per person, and included unlimited service to and from San Marco. What a deal! As noted above, it cost us $70 Euro just one way to get to the ship. We returned to the ship after a day of exploring Venice, and there was open seating tonight. Before dinner we went to the martini bar, and quickly found who our favorite bartender would be - his name is Tipat or TJ. November 11, 2006- Venice, Italy We took the shuttle in to San Marco, and just spent the day exploring around. We were not going to do a gondola, but finally decided to do it. It was $70 Euro, and was kind of short, but a lot of fun and glad we did it. The Murano glass in all of the shops was too good to resist, and we bought quite a few pieces. We also bought a gorgeous tapestry. I never dreamed there would be so much irresistible shopping in Venice! We departed Venice at 7pm. November 12, 2006- Dubrovnik, Croatia We took the Celebrity shuttle into town, which was $10pp and well worth it. the walk into town looked very long! We walked right off where the bus dropped us and started our way to walk the Wall which surrounds the old city. We first had to change a little money into their currency, Puna. There is basically 5 puna to each US dollar. It cost 50 Puna per person to walk the wall. It took us 2 ½ hours to walk the entire wall, and it was awesome! I took about 200 pictures from the quaint rooflines of the city, to the magnificent views of the water. After walking the wall we walked inside the absolutely pristine streets of the old city. We had lunch at a local bistro, and then coffee to warm up a bit after that. Being fall, it was in the 50's, which was really perfect for all of the walking we did. November 13, 2006- Day at Sea We did nothing but explore the ship all day. Now is a great time to mention just how beautiful Millennium is. For being nearly 7 years old, we both felt that she has been well maintained. Now, anyone wanting to look for faults can certainly find them, but I prefer not to seek things out unless they hit you, and there was never anything that hit us at all. The food in the dining room has been fabulous, much better than what I have experienced on ships in the past year. I love that Celebrity has added escargot to the nightly optional menu! We had to drop our passports with Celebrity during the day today, and they will hold them until we are done with our last Greek port. November 14, 2006- Mykonos, Greece We used the Celebrity shuttle service again, $10pp round trip and again well worth it. The shuttle dropped right at the edge of town. We spent the day just wandering around the quaint village, shopping and enjoying a nice Greek lunch on the waters edge. November 15, 2006- Kusadasi, Turkey We were not going to go into this port at first, due to some of the new reports that we had heard about unrest. When we arrived, we looked at what looked like a nice resort town and decided to walk on shore and just play it by ear. We felt good, so we hired a cab for the morning to take us to Ephesus, $60 Euro round trip and the driver would wait for us as we toured Ephesus in a meticulous 1964 Chevy BelAir! Once at Ephesus, we were approached by a guide who offered $40 US to take us through Ephesus, and we agreed. It took us about an hour to go through, and it was worth it. When we walked out our driver was right there, and asked what we would like to do next. We chose to visit a rug factory, so he took us to his favorite one. What an experience! It was fun to see how the rugs are made, but they are so expensive, we opted to just take away the experience of it. After the taxi driver took us back to the port area is when things took a turn. The driver offered to show us a great place to shop. He took us into the shopping are near the ship to his friends place. Before we knew it, we were upstairs of this persons store, being spun around in front of a mirror with the ugliest leather coat with a fur collar I have ever seen. These people are smooth. I quickly gained my composure and explained that we were not interested in leather anything. They rushed us downstairs to a sofa in front of a jewelry counter. I quickly said we were hungry and would maybe come back later -  wrong.  they own a restaurant, and offered a free lunch.. I said no, that we needed to go onto the ship and make an important phone call. This was a good one, as it stopped them in there tracks! What we learned about Turkey is that they are the hardest sellers we have every experienced and that it was very uncomfortable. They need to learn that if they do not do this to people they would probably sell more! We left the selling area, and walked along the waterfront. This was a gorgeous walk, and we stopped and had a wonderful lunch along the waterfront. We then tried Turkish Coffee. In a word, yuck! It is coffee full of very fine coffee grounds kind of looks like mud. I will stick to latte's, thank you! November 16, 2006- Athens, Greece This was one of the few ports that we did a ships shore excursion to see the Acropolis, etc. We boarded a big old bus full of other passengers and headed out. Our guide had a monotone boring voice, and within minutes we all were virtually comatose! The highlight was going to see the Parthenon, although I have to say that we were absolutely stunned at how much pollution hangs over the big dirty city of Athens! After the visit to the Acropolis, we had the option of being dropped at the Placa area. We chose to stay and visit the Placa, and this is where Celebrity really had it together. We instantly were greeted by a Celebrity rep, who asked us what we wanted to do downtown. We said lunch, then shopping. He walked us to a quaint little lunch spot, called Dion's where it was only $10 Euro for lunch. After that we were guided by our Celebrity rep to where to shop and he told us to come back to see him when were done and he would get us a cab back to the ship. I did not feel that comfortable here, so our shopping was kind of brief. I was glad that we had our neck wallets here. We had a cab back to the ship, and got back onboard. November 17, 2006- Santorini, Greece When we woke up I was absolutely in awe with the views from our balcony! It reminded me of a cross between Hawaii and Alaska! We tendered ashore, and had the option of taking a donkey to the top or a cable car. We opted for the less smelly option, the cable car. It is $3.50 Euro pp each way. Once up on top, we spent a wonderful day just walking around, taking in the views and shopping. We had lunch at one of the many cliff side cafe's. It was magnificent! We took in one of the best sunsets ever before heading back to the ship. November 18, 2006- Day at Sea A much needed day of rest! Relaxing in the T-pool, and just enjoying the beauty of the ship all day was fantastic. We were able to pick up our passports today, and kept them for the remainder of the cruise. We had dinner at the Olympic tonight. What a great experience& not to be missed and worth every penny of the $30 pp surcharge! November 19, 2006- Naples, Italy We had a private tour booked with other of our Cruise Critic friends, there were 8 of us sharing the tour.  What a way to do it! We were booked with Marcello Maresca from SeeSorrento.com. Marcello is a crazy guy! What a fantastic tour! We were fully entertained all day long! Our first stop was Pompeii, where Marcello had arranged for a private guide. Pompeii is not to be missed. Next we went for a drive along the Amalfi Coastline. Marcello knows where to stop for the best pictures, and he goes everywhere the big tours don't to create a fantastic experience. He took to one of his secret restaurant spots for a meal that I will never forget - all homemade, all absolutely delicious! It was a great day, thanks to our wonderful guide! November 20, 2006- Civitavecchia, (Rome), Italy Again we had a private tour with Cruise Critic friends. We were booked with Stefano from Rome Cabs. Stefano had our tour down to a science. After a stop at the Coliseum, we headed for the Vatican. As we approached the Vatican, Stefano pointed out the line that was wrapped around for a couple of blocks waiting to get in. My stomach went into knots. I did not want to wait in that line! No worries, he had a guide that had been waiting in line all morning, so that when we pulled up we just got in line with her and in less than 5 minutes we were in the Vatican! After a fantastic tour of the Vatican including the Sistine Chapel, we went on to see the Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps. We went back to the Vatican area so that we could see St. Peter's basilica as it had been closed when we did our tour. After that, we headed back to the ship, which is about 1-1 ½ hours away from Rome. November 21, 2006- Livorno, (Florence & Pisa), Italy We again were booked on a small tour with Cruise Critic friends. We were booked with Guido, Tuscany In My Pocket. Our day started with going to see the real David, then a walk on our own to see the Ponte Di Vechio bridge and the Duomo. After that, Guido had set up a wonderful lunch and wine tasting at a little wine shop& this was another fantastic experience that I will never ever forget! After a stop for some fantastic gelato, we headed for Pisa. By now it was raining like crazy, and Guido asked if we really wanted to see Pisa in the pouring rain and although others had already been there, I voiced that I really wanted to see it even if it meant standing in the pouring rain! We were only there a few minutes, but the rain actually stopped during that time so we ended up with some great pics of me holding up the leaning tower! (you have to be a tourist some times!) I was a bit nervous as we left, as Guido was telling how when it rains hard they sometimes close some roads and they did! Luckily, Guido knew how to get around and get us back to the ship in plenty of time! Leaving the port was interesting that night, as the wind was blowing so hard and the waves were huge! Millennium handled everything wonderful, though! November 22, 2006- Villefranche, France Once again, we were booked with Cruise Critic friends on a small private tour. This time we were with Dreamtours. After our short tender ride, we joined our guide. Our first stop was at a perfumery. It was an ok stop, but nothing was too interesting to us. Next was the small town of Eze, perched at the top of cliffs overlooking the water. We had about an hour to walk through we took many pictures of this quaint town. Next up was a stop in Nice. We were dropped at the edge of the farmers market, where we really enjoyed seeing all of the olives, fruits and vegetables. Best of all, I quickly found the pastry area, where I tried my first real croissant and another and another.. All I can say is that I am really glad that they do not make them anything like that here in the US, or I would be in trouble! They were so good! Next we went to St. Paul De Vence, another small quaint walled city. We had a quick lunch here and then walked around and took pictures. We found the shop keepers here to be rude and nasty, to be quite blunt! We then headed for Monaco. We had time on our own to visit the Monte Carlo casino, but I refused to pay the $10 Euro pp entry fee, so we took a pic of the store front and then went to the Choclaterie where we had some luscious chocolate treats! After a stop to see where Grace Kelly is laid to rest, we headed back to the ship. November 23, 2006- Barcelona, Spain We arrived at 2pm, so we were able to rest a bit in the morning. Upon arrival, we had booked a short tour through the ship to see the city and Gaudi. So glad that we did this, even though we hate the big bus tours. We got a real feeling for the city this way. We had a great stop at Segardia De Familia church and tour inside then to Park Guell. This was Thanksgiving, and we had a great evening with our table mates and farewell drinks with friends at the Martini Bar, enjoying Tipat's (TJ) fantastic humor and martinis. November 24, 2006- Debarkation, Barcelona, Spain We opted for the latest time off the ship, which was 9am. I love Celebrity's no announcement policy, and the way they debark. We just had a quiet breakfast, then walked off the ship at 9am. We got a taxi van, which there was a wait for them as the cars are so small! It was $25 Euro flat rate to our hotel, Hotel Barcelona Universal. I cannot recommend this hotel, not that it was bad just kind of weird and the location was advertised as near Las Ramblas, which it is really 2 or 3 blocks away. The hotel was clean and neat but our room was like an inside cabin, with no window to the outside! During our time in Barcelona we bought a 2 day pass on the Bus Turistic for $22 Euro pp, which is a network of double-decker, top-open buses that stop all over the city at tourist destinations. This is the way to see Barcelona! The buses have 3 different routes, and at any stop you can get a bus within 10 minutes. We saw many sites, and it was wonderful. We went to the top of the Columbus monument& warning! The elevator is tiny (2-3 people, tightly!), and the top is very claustrophobic, you can hardly move! We discovered on our last night that if you head just to the right of Las Ramblas (with your back to the pier area), that there are streets upon streets of wonderful shops and restaurants. We thought that Las Ramblas was it and frankly we were not that impressed as it was a bit seedy. however this other area was wonderful and we spent hours just walking around! We took a taxi to the airport after our 2 nights in Barcelona on our own. Ending thoughts We walked away from this cruise so glad that we did it but in the future we would never do another 14 day cruise with only 2 days at sea. it was crazy busy and we were absolutely worn out! Not to mention the major 6 and 7 hour time differences and jetlag that causes! We believe that fall is a great time to visit the Med, as crowds were at a minimum and the temps were great for touring. We were concerned that it might be too cold, but it really wasn't considering how active we were! All in all, it was one of the best cruises we have ever done! The combination of the magnificent Celebrity Millennium and her staff, our friends from Cruise Critic, the wonderful guides and of course the beautiful ports made for an unforgettable vacation! Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our second Celebrity cruise and first trip to Europe. The cruise line is wonderful and the staff are friendly and helpful. Our cabin was dated but comfortable. We would not spend extra on Concierge Class again. Either get a ... Read More
This was our second Celebrity cruise and first trip to Europe. The cruise line is wonderful and the staff are friendly and helpful. Our cabin was dated but comfortable. We would not spend extra on Concierge Class again. Either get a standard room with a balcony or upgrade to a suite. The towels were bleach stained, but the bed linens were new. The food was good but not great. The entertainment was not much and the activities such as bingo were held at odd times. The excursions were exceptional with local tour guides who could not have been better. Celebrity does the best job with timing etc. for their excursions. You really don't have to worry or think about any detail. This cruise really is a sample or taste of Europe. A way to get a feel for Europe to see places you may want to re-visit and spend more in depth time. We ran for 6-8 hours a day to see as much as possible. It would be a good idea to go a couple of days before the cruise and stay a couple of days after to really maximize your time. Please also be advised that the ports are quite a distance from the city centers so that does use up al ot of time. Additionally, Athens is the only city that was difficult to navigate, dirty, unfriendly and where we worried about pick pockets. Be sure to take hand sanitizer, and tissue as most European bathrooms are infrequent, dirty and lack toilet seats, toilet paper or paper towel. Since we were prepared it was not such a shock but others on the cruise were not so happy with the lack of clean facilities. I would recommend this cruise for anyone wanting a flavor of Europe. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was my third Celebrity cruise. It was great as always. The embarkation a breeze. The champagne welcome, the staff showing you to the cabin (if you want to) and the impeccably clean and well prepared cabin. I was afraid that the ship ... Read More
This was my third Celebrity cruise. It was great as always. The embarkation a breeze. The champagne welcome, the staff showing you to the cabin (if you want to) and the impeccably clean and well prepared cabin. I was afraid that the ship was going to be tired after 6 years in operation, but I had to look hard to find aging signs. They must have refurbished a lot of the lounges and bars quite recently, as the carpets and upholstery looked new. My favorite bar is always the martini bar, also this time. Peter Angeles and Cecilia are fabulous. I hope they are there on my next cruise as well. Great to spend 1 night in Venice upon embarkation, and 1 night in Barcelona before disembarking the ship. Of course, the balcony in the cabin is a must! So long. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
I read all of the reviews for this trip before booking, and continued to read them until we left for our trip. I am not going to try to repeat a lot of things that have been said in previous reviews, but rather update some of the key ... Read More
I read all of the reviews for this trip before booking, and continued to read them until we left for our trip. I am not going to try to repeat a lot of things that have been said in previous reviews, but rather update some of the key points from my point of view. My wife and I travelled with our 9 year old and 18 year old girls. We all had a wonderful time and would love to do it again soon. The 9 year old had a great time on the ship with the other kids, attending the "Fun Factory" almost every day. The staff was great there, and and it gave us some free time which we otherwise would not have had. Most of the time there was no charge, and at meal time there was a $6.00 per hour charge, which I considered reasonable. Our 18 year old had no trouble meeting kids her age. Her only complaint was that on sea days, there were no chairs by the pool, because people would put their towels down early in the day, and by 10:00 there was nowhere to sit. In general the ship was in good condition. I saw nothing to suggest that it needed work. There was no smell that others have remarked about. Everything was spotlessly clean. We booked a concierge class room for ourselves and an inside room across the hall for our daughters. This worked very well. Mary our room attendant was fantastic and could not have been more helpful. Both rooms were clean and well appointed. We were in stateroom 9133, which was mid ship, and very handy to the pool and Ocean's. It was a little noisy at times so perhaps it would be better one level down. I'm not sure I would pay the extra for Concierge Class again. Most of the extras were not worth much...except...We had a great 4 person table next to a window at the second seating. I attribute this to being in Concierge Class. So, I have mixed feelings. We all thought that the food was very good. There was a good selection, and the staff was incredible. I purchased a case of wine in Livorno, and we drank that each night. The wine steward would keep any leftover until the next night, and there was a $15 corkage fee which I thought was fine. The Italian wine was very good and it worked our to be a good value. I was necessary for us to travel in the middle of the summer because of the girls. Needless to say the weather was hot and there were thousands of tourists at every port. Imagine Disneyland on a hot day in the middle of the summer. If you have the choice, I would travel in September or October. We spent two nights in Barcelona prior to the cruise. We love the city and I think that it is well worth spending some time there. After the cruise we flew to Rome for 3 nights. This worked well because there is so much to see in Rome, and it allowed us an extra "at sea" day when everyone else on the ship was in Rome. We flew from Venice to Rome on Air One, a commuter airline. Unfortunately, we had to pay an extra $200 for baggage. They only allowed 44lbs per person, whereas Delta allowed 50 lbs and two bags. Watch this one! This was a great trip and I look forward to our next one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This site proved informative for me as I prepared for our family vacation and I hope to do the same for your family. We traveled a party of 7, Grandma 68, My husband and I, our four young children...the girls 8 and 6, the boys 4 and 2. ... Read More
This site proved informative for me as I prepared for our family vacation and I hope to do the same for your family. We traveled a party of 7, Grandma 68, My husband and I, our four young children...the girls 8 and 6, the boys 4 and 2. We are from Danville California right outside of San Francisco. The Millennium proved to be our safe haven! There was something for each one of us! We loved the service, the staff. We were prepared to be the only people with young children only to find out this cruise had over 100 little people! I thought it would be mostly elderly couples but there were so many families. The children loved the Fun Factory! Shipmates and Cadets as they were referred. They were busy doing crafts, going to ice cream together, tours backstage, they met the dancers, toured the bridge. They met children from different countries, Mexico, Canada, England, India, and the East Coast. They had a talent show and did a group skit. At the different ports Rome, Santorini, Venice you could hear their little voices saying hello to one another in Piazza Navona, St. Peter's Square, playing with pigeons in San Marco Square, riding in the tenders from and to beautiful Santorini and Villefranche France. Children are so friendly it was so refreshing. I was actually able to find a sitter for my two year old, here and there which gave my husband and I alone time when we wanted it. The food was plentiful, fresh and healthy. Our rooms were very well kept. My mother-in-law shared a deluxe room with balcony with the two girls and my husband and I were with the boys. Our rooms were side by side and we could talk to each other via our balconies. There is a fold out bunk bed that the housekeeper sets up in the evenings. The beds were surprisingly comfortable. My mother-in-law is a seasoned cruiser and enjoyed the casino, and upscale shopping on board. She felt the entertainment wasn't quite up to par but enjoyed it none-the-less. She enjoyed retrieving all the port and formal night photos...she loved her morning coffee service and her balcony! She enjoyed how well kept her room was. She too enjoyed how kind the staff was to the children especially Olessia, Vanessa,Karla and Stephanie. My husband and I had the time of our lives. We are avid boaters and really enjoyed seeing Europe via the ship. At the different ports we hired our own driver's and designed our own excursions which proved perfect for us. We loved the ports and felt we were at each one long enough. On board we ate Sushi, Formal, Buffet, Hamburgers poolside the staff was eager to accommodate any of our needs. We were as busy as we wanted to be on any given day. It was so healthy for our ten year marriage. We walk away from the Millennium with a fond farewell. Arrivederci, Tutti Grazie Celebrity Millennium! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This June cruise was a repeat trip for me, the first having been taken in October 2003. I enjoyed the ports of call so much three years ago that I wanted my daughter to have the opportunity for a similar experience. So, same ship, same ... Read More
This June cruise was a repeat trip for me, the first having been taken in October 2003. I enjoyed the ports of call so much three years ago that I wanted my daughter to have the opportunity for a similar experience. So, same ship, same itinerary. This was my ninth cruise, the third to the Mediterranean. It was my daughters first, but hopefully not last, cruise. Travel arrangements to the ship and back home were left to Celebrity. I noticed that under an hour was allowed for plane changes in both Chicago and Munich and I should have questioned my travel agent. Although we were able to make both connections, it was necessary to scurry and any delay in a flights arrival would probably have resulted in our missing the connecting flight. Celebritys embarkation and disembarkation procedures were orderly experiences. Fortunately Celebrity takes folks flying out of Barcelona to the airport hours ahead of scheduled flights. (Read my October 2003 review for my experience then.) There are simply too many cruise passengers trying to get out of town at the same time. Queues were long and difficult to traverse as we pulled our luggage through the terminals. Getting through security was a nightmare as eight disorganized lines had to merge to become four before having luggage screened. Once past security, our gate assignment was changed twice. We needed every second of the four hours allotted. The ships officers and staff who we encountered were pleasant and helpful. On this cruise (as well as some earlier this year), the Millenniums visits to Athens and Santorini were switched. At least six ships were scheduled to visit Santorini on the same day: +/-2000 passengers X 6 ships = way too many folks on the tiny island! By arriving a day earlier, the Millennium had the island all to itself! When I became aware of this change, I contacted the concierge who called the independent driver in Athens and car rental agency on Santorini to change the reservations for us. Confirmation of the changes was in our stateroom when we returned to our cabin that afternoon. Some of the ships services have been altered since the 03 cruise. I recall there being a variety of foods (entrEes, vegetables, etc.) to select from in evening visits to the Ocean Cafe. Now only pizza and pasta are available. The sushi bar is still a popular place. Casual dining on Deck 10 aft is a training ground for novice waiters and we joined a couple for dinner there one evening. I admire the on-the-job training concept but found the service poor. Before the appetizers were served, we began looking for the hidden cameras, thinking we were subjects for Candid Camera. The assistant maitre d apologized for the multitude of mishaps and vowed service on our next visit would be flawless. Although we appreciated her concern, we didnt want to risk being guinea pigs a second time. A formerly complimentary service was transportation between the ship and towns where the ship docked. Now theres a round-trip shuttle charge: Venice, $10 per person; Dubrovnik, $8 per person. Theres also a charge in Barcelona, but since we had an independent driver, I dont know what the charge was. There are many spots on the ship where you can get a bite to eat. I suggest you visit the spa when in the mood for a light meal. After enjoying multi-course evening meals, having a fruit plate and/or salad was refreshing and not overly filling. Food in the Metropolitan Dining Room was generally good. Each evening our waiter Branko explained the ingredients and preparation of dishes about which we were unsure and voiced his recommendations if we were undecided. I found cake desserts to be dry, but those containing chocolate to be excellent! Our assistant waiter Edward is probably under a doctors care now for bursitis of the elbow which he developed after pouring uncountable servings of water into my bottomless glass. In an effort to eliminate gastrointestinal illness problems, the ship has placed dispensers of hand sanitizer throughout the public areas. I was happy to see people routinely help themselves whenever they passed one. They are prominent wherever food is available as well as in the Internet Cafe where so many hands touch the keyboards. In the Internet Cafe passengers can download pictures from their digital cameras and then copy them to CD(s) on one of the last two days of the cruise ($15/disk). We took advantage of the service, downloading our photos, reviewing and sometimes deleting the less satisfactory ones at the end of each day. Cafe attendant Van was very patient and willingly helped as we sometimes floundered about through the routine. Some of the ships shore excursions are long, eight to ten hours, so space for the second seating dinner fills up quickly. Day-long private tours, however, had us back to the ship by 5:00 PM, a sufficient time to get ready for early seating dinner at 6:30. Weather for the entire two weeks was sunny and hot, hot, hot  between the mid 80s and 90sF! When passengers returned to the ship, we were often greeted by crewmembers who distributed iced towels as we waited to pass through security. It was a nice touch and very much appreciated! I attended two or three evening shows, due in part to their being scheduled early, during first seatings dinner. The crews first production show was very well done (the others were performed after my bedtime but I heard compliments about the dancers and singers enthusiasm and energy). Bob Arno performed one evening, showing the audience how a pickpocket works and then giving us pointers on how to remain safe from theft. On three other evenings guest musicians entertained the audience. Celebrity will now charge a passengers onboard account with the recommended tips for waiter, assistant waiter, cabin steward, assistant housekeeper and assistant maitre d when completed forms for that purpose are submitted to Customer Relations. TOURS We took only one ship-sponsored excursion, that being the Secret Walking Tour of Venice. It was no surprise that our guide was knowledgeable and entertaining, and we enjoyed walking through the districts and hearing about their history. In Dubrovnik we visited the ATM at the concession stand outside the wall in order to have kunas to pay for admission (50 kunas per person) to walk on the wall. The day was sunny and hot, so after walking only the portion of the wall along the sea, we returned to street level and visited Moby Dicks for a lunch of sea bream accompanied by a local beer. Great service (our waiter deboned the fish for us) and excellent food! Following a sea day, we visited Santorini and rode the cable car (3.50 Euros each way) to the top. Id reserved a car from Tonys Rent a Car (www.santorini.gr-santorini.com/rentals/tonys/) and two tablemates joined us for the day. We drove to Oia first to sightsee and shop and then found our way to Monolithos Beach where we had lunch at Scaramagas, an open-air fish tavern. The restaurant had been recommended and provided a welcome break in a busy day. As we ate, the proprietor/fisherman worked on his nets while other family members manned the kitchen and waited tables. Then it was back to Fira to return the car and shop yet again before returning to the ship. Our next port was Athens. In 2003 we used Spiros Taxi Service (www.athenstaxi.net). Our driver had been Marcus and I requested him again. The days first stop was the Acropolis so we could get up and down the hill before tour buses began arriving (thank you, thank you, Marcus!!). Next was the changing of the guard at Parliament. The ticket purchased for the Acropolis (12 Euros) included admissions to other sites (Ancient Agora and the Temple of Zeus) so we visited those as well. The balance of the day was spent visiting Cape Sounions Temple of Poseidon (admission 4 Euros) and included a stop for lunch at a seaside restaurant on the way. Day seven was a sea day. We lazed around, visited the on-board gift shops and mentally prepared for the next five tour-filled days. Our driver in Naples was Gennaro of Sorrento Limo (http://sorrentolimo.com/) whod also been our driver in 2003. Gennaro efficiently got us over the Amalfi Coast drive and allowed time for short stops in Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi. We opted for a light lunch and he recommended we take time for this in Ravello, a beautiful area a few miles beyond Amalfi. After lunch we visited Pompeii (admission 10 Euros) where hed engaged Elvira to be our guide through the ruins. I highly recommend Gennaros service and appreciated having Elvira as our guide again this trip. Day nine was spent in Rome. Constantino (Tino) was the driver provided by Driver In Rome (http://www.driverinrome.com/). He did an excellent job getting us to the must-sees which included the Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Coliseum (admission 11 Euros). On our drive to the city, Tino asked if wed discussed having a private guide at the Vatican (admission 12 Euros). We agreed it would be a good idea, and Tino was able to book a guide who spent two hours leading us through the museums rooms and explaining some of what we saw. Our guide also accompanied us through St. Peters Basilica and the Sistine Chapel before taking us back to Tino for our return drive to the ship. Day ten, next port, Florence. Our driver here was Claudio of Rome Limousine (http://www.limoinrome.com/). As wed come to expect, Claudio seemed to effortlessly get us to the highlights of the area, beginning the day in Pisa. Then it was on to Florence where our stops included the Accademia Museum to see the statue of David (12.50 Euros for reserved tickets), Church of Santa Croce (5 Euros) and of course, Santa Maria del Fiore, more familiarly known as the Duomo. Following a two-hour break for lunch and free time, the group met to continue our tour and visited the Ponte Vecchio and shops in the area before returning to the ship. Day eleven, Villefranche: Our driver here was Frederic of Dream Tours. (http://www.dream-tours.com/). Fred had also been our driver on my visit in 2003. He is very enthusiastic about ensuring his group has an enjoyable visit. It was an amazing day which started in Nice and included a stop at a city overlook and was followed by a visit to the flower market. Then it was off to St. Paul de Venice, a beautiful hilltop village, where we were able to spend some time exploring the winding footpaths and visiting a variety of small shops. Following our lunch there, we headed out again to visit two more medieval sites, Tourettes Sur Loup and Gourdon. The former is undergoing renovation and will certainly become as popular as Eze and St. Paul de Venice are. Gourdon, a small mountain-top community, appears to hang from the side of the mountain. Wed asked to see something different that day, and we got it! Our final day, afternoon arrival in Barcelona: The private tour today was conducted by Jose Soler (http://wwguides.com/forums/member.php?u=243). No van this time: he provided the booked group of ten with a spiffy 22-seat a/c BUS! We started with a drive to a city overlook and then passed by some of the venues for the 92 Olympics. Along the way we saw well-known sites/sights including buildings designed by Gaudi and we walked around the Sagrada Familia (still unfinished and under heavy structural framework). The highlight for me was our stop for a walk through Gaudis Parc Guell where Jose explained the developments concept to us. The tour concluded after a visit to the Gothic Quarter where we walked through the narrow lanes as Jose gave us a history of the area. SUMMARY This is not a cruise for anyone who wants to rest. But if visiting a variety of ports with multiple points of interest is what you seek, I highly recommend this ship and this itinerary. Even though this was my second cruise with these ports of call and many tours were with the same drivers as three years ago, I saw something new each day. And now that Im home, I can think about rest. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Millennium - Penthouse Suite Mediterranean Review As promised, here is the review of our Millennium 12 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona in Penthouse Suite 6148 which embarked on 26th May. These are my/our personal thoughts and ... Read More
Millennium - Penthouse Suite Mediterranean Review As promised, here is the review of our Millennium 12 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona in Penthouse Suite 6148 which embarked on 26th May. These are my/our personal thoughts and opinions and any criticisms made have absolutely no bearing on the overall experience; I have however tried to be as honest as possible regarding Millennium and the cruise in general We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this cruise and would not hesitate to book either Millennium or the PH Suite again. It is the most wonderful itinerary, which is sure to be an immense pleasure to anyone who loves cruising. I know the cultured amongst you will be aghast that there is no mention of visits to museums, famous monuments, sights etc. but for those of you that enjoy shopping, eating and not using public transport, then this is the review for you! Venice The cruise embarked at Venice and we decided to stay 2 nights prior to embarkation. We flew from London Heathrow direct to Venice on BMI. We arranged a private transfer from the airport through the Concierge at our hotel. At ¬130 it was quite expensive however we were pleasantly surprised at the service. We were met at the airport terminal by a chauffeured Mercedes which took us on a 20 minute drive to the main Venice car terminus. From here a private water taxi was waiting and took us directly to our hotel. When we arrived the weather was horrendous with torrential rain, however by booking the private transfer we were able to bypass everyone queuing in the rain. We were in our hotel room 90 minutes after landing, which is good going by anyones standards. We stayed at the Duodo Palace Hotel, which is very conveniently located just a 10 minute walk from San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. This is a small (38 bedrooms) comfortable, 600 year old former palace. The bedroom walls are adorned with Venetian fabrics and frescoed ceilings which are quite amazing. We booked a superior room which included breakfast. The staff were extremely gracious and made our stay very enjoyable. The first evening we ate in a restaurant that had been recommended  the Aqua Pazza  whilst the food was quite good, we would not recommend it. Over 90% of the diners were English speaking, however the menu was entirely in Italian. When asked the maitre-d was extremely irritated at having to translate and we ended up just having a pizza and sea bass, simply because we dare not ask for anything else to be translated. Nice food but the attitude of the staff spoilt the evening. The next morning we walked to the Rialto Bridge and explored the local market and shops. There is a very interesting fish market which takes place each morning between 7 am  12 noon on the opposite side of the canal. Whilst we had been adamant in advance that we were not going to hire a gondolier, we changed our minds and decided that we simply had to  it was ¬80 for a 40 minutes ride for the 2 of us. We actually thoroughly enjoyed the experience as you see parts of Venice that you simply cannot see on foot. We visited San Marco where I purchased some Murano glass beads  very expensive and I would recommend that you look elsewhere first We also bought some bird seed to feed the pigeons  quite an experience but dont do it if you are in the least way scared of birds. They really flock around you to get at the food. In the evening we went back to San Marco and decided to sit and have a drink whilst listening to the live music. However they add an additional charge of ¬4.50 per person just to listen to the music, which we considered outrageous considering they were charging ¬18.50 for a gin and tonic. The second evening we ate at Trattoria Alla Madonna which is located down a small side street about 100 yards from the Rialto Bridge. Reservations are a must as the place was full even at 7.30 pm. The meal was extremely good, our only complaint came at the end of the meal. Service was added to the bill of 15%, however the wait staff expected an additional tip on top of this. The waiter was very clearly annoyed when we only paid 15%, but we have always understood this percentage to be for service which includes the waiter. Embarkation We again arranged for a private water taxi to take us to the cruise terminal, which cost ¬70. We were collected from our hotel at 10.30 for the 20 minute sail to the terminal. It is a wonderful way to start your cruise and a real must as far as we are concerned for arriving at the cruise terminal in Venice. Our luggage was taken off us at the quay-side and we had literally a 200 yard walk to check-in Check-in was already open and we went directly to the Penthouse/Royal Suite check-in deck. I had already completely the online check-in documentation so this only took a few minutes. We were though surprised that this desk was being manned by a trainee who had to be shown every process. We were not greeted in any way and were not escorted onboard as has been reported previously on here. I was slightly disappointed at the initial reception we received, which really was non-existent. However, we were onboard for 11.30 and following lunch our suite was ready for 1.00 pm. Our luggage was delivered shortly after. Cruise Critics Party We arranged with Celebrity that the Cruise Critic party would be held in our suite as we set sail from Venice on the second evening. They set up a bar on the veranda and it was wonderful to meet everyone we had been talking to for all these months. The Ship Millennium is a wonderful ship and we would not hesitate to sail on her again. That said, some external areas are showing her age, particularly the pool area on deck 10 which was quite grubby in parts. The public areas such as the theatre, restaurants, bars etc. are in fabulous condition with new carpets & furnishings. There are minor areas showing wear and tear but they make no difference to the overall experience. It would be impossible to keep her looking brand new when you consider how many guests pass through. Penthouse Suite Firstly, this is truly a magnificent experience and one which we would love to repeat at some point in the future. During our first afternoon we were visited by our Butler, Ram Iver, the Assistant Head Housekeeper and the Head Housekeeper. A complementary bottle of champagne was on ice for us. Ram had 7 other suites to look after, but he truly made us feel like we were his only guests. Nothing we asked for was a problem and he went out of his way to help us whenever he could as far as anticipating what our requirements would be. If you are lucky enough to have Ram as your Butler on any sailing, he will certainly look after you well. We were served afternoon tea in our suite at approximately 3.30 pm each day by Ram, he would bring a huge trolley laden with the most delicious pastries and sandwiches from which we could choose. Obviously a selection of what was available in the buffet area. At 5.00 pm we were served canapes each day. Ram made us up two separate plates each day, as DH adores shellfish but I am allergic. We had breakfast served in our suite every morning. On the days where the weather was good we ate at the outside table which was a wonderful start to the day. There were several beautiful flower arrangements in the suite, these were not changed throughout the cruise, but quite honestly, they did not need to be and still looked reasonably fresh at the end of the cruise. Foyer  the foyer is absolutely beautiful with gorgeous mosaic tiles, there is a security camera for the exterior door. Lounge/Dining Room  the dining table seats 10 for a sit down dinner, this is however probably the maximum it could seat. Furnishings were very comfortable, although some were showing signs of wear. The wood paneling had also obviously suffered from water damage at some point. The entertainment system comprised of a plasma TV, surround sound, DVD and VCR players. The DVD play is obviously US format and we could not therefore bring any films from home. There are no DVDs available onboard, and although there is a video library, most of the films were quite old. Satellite is available but the channels onboard are fairly limited. The baby grand piano was quite fun, however even at the lowest volume it was too loud to talk and we felt it could be quite intrusive for the next door cabin. There was one self-playing CD provided. Computer laptop and printer provided in the lounge  the rate is the same as the internet cafe at 75c per minute. Butler's Pantry - American style fridge/freezer, with built in water/ice dispenser. Microwave and lots of glass wear etc. 2 bottles of complementary alcohol were provided, which Ram changed for gin and peach schnapps. Top shelf of fridge was stocked with soda and tonic water which were complementary however all other drinks in the fridge were charged as per a normal mini bar. We did however request large bottles of diet coke and these were provided free of charge. Each day a new plate of fresh fruit and cheeses were put into the fridge for our consumption. Guest Bathroom  Quite large, nicely presented, includes additional shower Master Bedroom  very comfortable bed with the best cotton sheets I have ever experienced. We were quite happy with the feather pillows provided therefore we did not request the pillow menu. There is a huge amount of closet space, which even I couldnt fill ! We were not offered any assistance with the unpacking/packing  I didnt really want any help anyway, although it is stated on Celebritys website as a perk of the PS. There is a plasma TV in the bedroom but no DVD. One word of warning  maintenance use the stairwell on the deck to access the window cleaning equipment for the Metropolitan restaurant. The first morning, I opened the bedroom curtains and saw someone walking by  they did however only use this access twice during the cruise to our knowledge. Bathroom  Gorgeous large bathroom, although showing some signs of wear and tear but nothing major. Towels were not particularly soft or large as reported on here, but there were plenty of them. The shower was wonderful, very high pressure and hot. Jacuzzi was rather temperamental and did keep switching off stating it had a malfunction, it was nice though to sit in on a cloudy afternoon, there is a TV on the wall by the Jacuzzi but we did not use it. Dressing Area  Again lots of closet space with a large dressing table  the lighting is quite bad though in here for doing make-up etc. There is a small 4 digit safe located in one of the closets. Balcony  This is where the PS really comes into its own and makes the whole experience so worthwhile  words really cannot describe how wonderful this area is. There is a variety of comfortable furniture, dining table & outdoor Jacuzzi. On a hot day we simply ran the Jacuzzi full of cold water and just jumped in there when we needed to cool off from the sun. Metropolitan Restaurant We were seated on a table of 10 at second seating and had some extremely good evenings in the restaurant. We were extremely fortunate to have excellent table mates, now friends. Our waiter was very good and the food was to Celebritys normal high standard. Olympic Restaurant Firstly, this restaurant is an absolute must, even if it is only the once, and it is well worth the additional $30 pp. They also offer a Menu Exceptional which is a 6 course meal (you choose from the normal menu) however different fine wines are served with each course. The additional fee for this is $27.95 pp on top of the $30. We had the great pleasure of dining at Michel Rouxs restaurant The Waterside Inn a few weeks prior and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the meal in the Olympic compared very favourably in terms of food and service. Casual Dining Buffet Generally the food was quite good, but I would not say it was fantastic. I do though appreciate how hard it must be to keep so much food fresh and still tasty. The daily roasts though were dry and tough. Pool Grill I only used this once as I really fancied a burger and fries for lunch  they were awesome and I am sure the kids would flock to here. Spa/Salon This is the only area that I really felt I could complain about. I found the reception staff (at least those few I dealt with) to be rude and abrasive. After two very bad experiences with the Spa Reception staff, I actually cancelled all the treatments I had booked for the entire cruise. I also complained to the Main Reception but never heard anything back from anyone. Entertainment The only show we attended was Bob Arno Pickpocket  this was wonderfully entertaining but also an enlightening show. As well as the usual entertainment, he tried to explain to the audience how pick-pockets actually work, going as far as showing a film of thieves in action in major cities throughout the world. The main reason we did not see any more shows was due to the time. The shows for late seating were at 11pm, by which time we were ready to call it a night. We really would much prefer to be able to see a show and have a drink before dinner. Tipping When charging drinks etc onboard an additional line before the total amount payable has now been added which indicates it is for an additional tip for outstanding service. Personally we felt that this is a bit much when a service charge of 15% is already levied. We had pre-paid our tips, however we did pay several individuals, such as our butler and stateroom attendant, a far greater amount as they had given us exemplary service. Photography As part of a suite package you have included a private portrait sitting, in a location of your choosing. We decided to have a session with Black Label Photography, this is a new service, which is clearly being run as a concession and not by Celebrity themselves. Apparently the normal fee for this sitting is $50, however, I suspect that this would be refunded against any purchase. The photo session itself was very enjoyable and lasted almost an hour. We were invited back the following evening to view the photos on a wide-screen TV in the form of a slide show, with over 50 images to choose from. The photos are however extremely expensive with the cheapest package being $495. They will not give you the prices until after the viewing and they give a very hard sell, assuming that you will definitely purchase. We really, really did not want to spend so much money on photographs, however, we absolutely loved them and after much deliberation decided to purchase the cheapest package, which included six 8x10 prints and one 11 x 14. These are printed in the US onto high quality photocard and sent to your home address by FedEx within approximately 6 weeks. My advice  dont do the sitting unless you want some new photographs  otherwise you will love the result but spend a fortune! Weather It was fairly typical for Europe in late Spring. The majority of days were good, with temperatures rising to the late 70s / low 80s. We did however have about 3/4 days which were quite cool with some quite heavy rains which lasted more or less all day. We were lucky with the sea conditions  most of the time you could hardly tell we were moving. This seems fairly typical for the Med at this time of year. Venice Continued  first night casual, second informal A shuttle bus was still available to San Marco and the note from Celebrity Today states A shuttle service will be available from the pier. Tickets can be purchased on the pier at a price of $8.00 for a day ticket. As we had already seen much of Venice, we spent the first 24 hours just enjoying our suite. As we did not sail until the next day, and many passengers had not yet joined the ship, open seating was observed in the main dining room the first night. The safety drill was held at 4.30pm on the 2nd evening, just before we set sail. Dubrovnik  Tender  Formal There were three other ships in port that day which led to operational difficulties for the tenders. The Port Authority would only allow one tender per ship, which meant some people had to wait 3 hours for a tender. We were lucky as we got a priority tender pass and were able to get straight onto the next tender. Dubrovnik is a beautiful place, however due to the 3 cruise ships, it was extremely busy with tourists. All the shops accepted Euros, however if you want to go walk the city walls you must pay in the local currency of Kuna. That evening we were invited to the Captains Table for dinner. We felt extremely honoured as the Captain only personally dines in the Metropolitan once per cruise and all other dinners are hosted by another officer of the ship. It was a wonderful opportunity and I felt even more privileged as I was seated to the Captains right during dinner. Interestingly, the other 4 couples were all celebrating a special wedding anniversary and this was why they were invited. We had a most wonderful evening and were given a complementary photograph of the evening. Santorini  Tender  Casual Santorini is probably the most beautiful of all the Greek islands we have visited. The town itself is situated on a hill-top overlooking the sea. The only access is by cable car, donkey or on foot. We chose the cable car, which even if you are afraid of heights, literally took 2 minutes. The views are spectacular. The narrow cobbled streets are lined with the usual tourist shops, jewelers, restaurants etc. but it is a very pretty town. Comfortable non-slip shoes are a must as the cobbles are very smooth and you could easily slip. A camera is essential as the views from the top are amazing. DH walked back down so that he could take some more photographs. The walk down only took him approximately 20 minutes, however he said even his knees were aching from all the steps. One relatively young lady on the tender had started to walk up to the town as she was afraid of the cable car and the donkeys. She said after about 1/6th of the way she gave up and turned around. Walking up should only be contemplated if you are extremely fit. As we did not sail until 11pm open seating took place again in the Metropolitan dining room, with a Greek buffet being served on deck 10, by the pool, which is what we opted for. The buffet was excellent. Athens  Docked  Informal We are visiting Athens in July and we therefore decided to just go into the city centre to do some shopping at Plaka. We decided to take a taxi, however the majority of drivers outside the terminal were only interested in selling a tour for the day, or waiting until you finish shopping at ¬30 per hour. We found a taxi who would take us for ¬30 however for the first time ever (to our knowledge!), we were completely ripped off. DH handed the driver a ¬50 note at the end of the journey asking if he had change, the driver responded by saying but the fare is ¬30 and he was holding a ¬10 note. We assumed that we had incorrectly given him a wrong note and gave him an additional ¬20. When he had sped off, DH checked his wallet and realised he had originally given him a ¬50 note. Therefore the journey actually cost us ¬70 !!! We all think that we would not fall for something so simple, but it was done so smoothly we did not realise until it was took late. We also think that if we had realised in time and challenged him, he could have turned nasty and we were in a small deserted street by this time. To make matters worse, the driver had dropped us a good 30 minutes walk from Plaka. We wandered round the local shops, however we were very disappointed and felt they were over priced. We were told by the taxi drivers at the terminal that it would be impossible to get a taxi back and even if we did it would cost ¬80. However we easily hailed a cabin within 5 minutes and the cost back was ¬25. At Sea - Formal Naples  Dock  Casual Everyone warned us that you have to be extremely vigilant in Naples as it is the pick-pocket capital of the world. Hence we removed all our jewelery and took nothing of value with us. We decided to go shopping to Via Toledo, which is the main shopping district. We took a taxi from the port which cost ¬10. A word of warning, the taxi drivers all tried to tell us the shops were closed and we should take a tour instead  guess what, they were all open, albeit not until 11am. We enjoyed a couple of hours of very good and reasonable shopping and decided to walk back to the ship, which although involved taking our lives in our hands crossing the road, only took approximately 20 minutes. We could of course have walked there in the morning if we had realised it was so close. That evening we hosted a private dinner party in our suite for our table mates. Our butler worked tirelessly all day to ensure that we had a superb evening. Ram normally went off duty at 9pm, however he stayed until almost midnight. Even then it was only at my insistence that he clear the table so he could retire for the night  bear in mind he was back on at 6am the next day. Civitavecchia  docked  Casual As we are visiting Rome next month we again decided to have a quiet day and explore Civitavecchia. The cost of the shuttle bus from the ship to the pier entrance was $8 pp for a day pass. The main street of Corso Centocelle is very pretty, although there is not much to see and shopping is very limited and expensive. Worth a stroll out for a couple of hours. I suspect it could be busier with more happening later in the season. After lunch, the wind was quite brisk, so we decided that the pool area on deck 10 would be more sheltered than our balcony. A very nice touch was that blankets were provided as well as towels (yes, it was that cold!) Livorno  docked  Informal/Formal We had booked Florence on your Own with Celebrity, which is simply a coach ride to and from Florence. You can of course use public transport, however Florence is a good 90 minute drive from the port and the Italians do have a habit of going on strike at no notice! I took the attitude that if we were on a ships excursion which was late back they wouldnt leave without us, so it was worth paying the extra few bucks for peace of mind. On route to Florence the coach stopped at a leather factory outlet/manufacturer. Whilst some of the goods were quite nice, I would not recommend buying from there as you will find much better quality at a better price in Florence itself. We were left in Florence and had approximately 5 hours on our own. It is a beautiful town, very easy to navigate and easily done on foot. As it was a public holiday that weekend, and also a Sunday, not all the shops were open, however the vast majority had opened by 12 noon. San Lorenzo market is quite good, with most of the stall holders having shops immediately behind the stall. We ended up buying a leather jacket each and a fur coat for me. Do shop around though if you are interested in leather as quality varies considerably. You can get a leather jacket for ¬80, but to get a beautiful soft calves leather jacket expect to pay closer to ¬300. Before we left Florence the coach drove around the outskirts of the city where we had some wonderful views and passed some incredible properties. That evening was informal/formal however we were so exhausted we decided to stay in our suite for dinner. Ram brought us that evenings menu from the Metropolitan and we were able to request dinner at whatever time we required. Villefranche  Tender  Casual We have spent several weeks in this area of France and had not intended to go ashore, however the weather was not great, so we decided to go into Nice. A taxi from the pier was ¬35 which is quite expensive as it is only a 10-15 minute drive, this does however seem to be the going rate. The one place you really should visit is Eze, it is a beautiful small town between Nice and Monaco. The walk to the top of the old town is quite a hike but the views from the top are spectacular. Monaco is also well worth a visit, completely different from any other place in the Med and about the only place in the world where every other car is either a Ferrari or Porsche. Barcelona We arrived in Barcelona at 2pm the day before the cruise ended. Having visited Barcelona extensively in the past, we decided to enjoy our last day onboard and not leave the ship. Disembarkation We were able to leave the ship at whatever time we wished without having to go to the Theatre and wait for our number to be called. We left our suite at 7.45 (almost in tears!) and were in our taxi on the way to the airport by 8.10. We used Angelina Garcia angietaxi33@yahoo.com and the cost was ¬40 from the port to the airport. We had booked a return flight with Easyjet from Barcelona to London Luton, which departed at 10.55 am, ideal time for leaving this cruise. We had a marvellous cruise and would love to be able to repeat the experience. Hope I havent bored everyone too much and please feel free to ask any questions Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
My wife and I flew from Miami to Barcelona, via Madrid, on American and Iberia. It was a very smooth flight. We stayed at the Apsis Splendid, a nice little hotel close to Placa Catalunya. Overall a great location for La Ramblas and the ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Miami to Barcelona, via Madrid, on American and Iberia. It was a very smooth flight. We stayed at the Apsis Splendid, a nice little hotel close to Placa Catalunya. Overall a great location for La Ramblas and the Barri Gothic and old port. We had a nice Paella dinner in the old port, walked around and even went to the beach for an after dinner stroll. Barcelona is well worth an early day or 2 arrival, as it is a beautiful, easily navigable city, and has great restaurants, especially fresh seafood. Sunday morning we walked the Ramblas and people watched as we sipped Cafe con Leche, and then went to the port for embarkation. As with previous Celebrity embarkations this was extremely smooth. We had lunch on board and then unpacked our luggage, which had already gotten to the cabin, an outside cabin with balcony on Vista deck (7022). We liked the cabin a lot. It had plenty of room for 2 people, plenty of storage space, and we liked the balcony and the view it gave us of some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. After unpacking we walked off the ship and took some great pictures and had a short walk. We had cruised on Summit and Constellation and so knew the ship very well. We like Millennium a lot and felt right at home. After we sailed we had late sitting dinner, and had an early night. The first sea day was spent relaxing and enjoying the ship. It is worth mentioning that this cruise is a great way to see the "Must See" cities of the Mediterranean. It is port extensive, however, and you need to trade off the late night shows, disco, buffets and partying if you want to get up at 6am for the tours and early arrivals at each port. You simply can not do it all! We had an early night and set our alarm phone call for 6am. Villefranche is a beautiful quiet little town, and it is easy to visit Nice, Monte Carlo or Cannes from here. We took the train to Nice, walked the old town, and the Coeurs Saleya Flower market, the old port and then caught the bus to Monaco. After a short walk around Monte Carlo we took a train back toward Villefranche. We got off the train at Beaulieu Sur Mer, the next town to Villefranche. We then spent the afternoon walking all the way around Cap Ferrat. Cap Ferrat is peaceful, beautiful and very quiet. There is a footpath which goes all the way around, although the path is uneven in parts, and hilly. To walk all around the cape will take you 3-5 hours. After walking around we relaxed for a while on the beach in Villefranche, and had a drink at one of the bars on the front. Late dinner was followed by a visit to Cova Cafe Milano (our favorite location on Millennium) The Spanish guitarist playing there or on the stern on the ship was one of the highlights of the ship's entertainment. The 6am phone alarm came too soon, but the all day tour for Pisa and Florence left at 7.30am. Florence and Pisa are beautiful, and well worth a visit. Florence in particular is incredibly beautiful. Italian traffic is notoriously busy, so I would recommend that ship's tours are the way to go when you want to visit the tourist meccas of Florence, Rome or Naples. If you are late, delayed in traffic, or on the train, or bus, then you will be out of luck if you miss the ship. These were the only 3 days that we took ships tours, and I would not consider doing these cities any other way. After a 10 hour tour and a late dinner it was time to set the alarm for another 6am wake up call for Rome the next day, and another 10 hour tour. Rome's traffic is awful. The bus to Rome arrived just in time for rush hour. We parked and walked to the Trevi Fountain. From there we walked through central Rome, the Roman Forum and ended up at the Coliseum. The Coliseum is spectacular by any standards and well worth a visit. After our visit to the Coliseum my wife and I were dumbfounded to see that we then had to get back on the bus and drive back out of Rome to have lunch. It took 1 hour to get to the restaurant, 1 hour to have lunch and 1 hour to then drive back to St Peter's Basilica and Vatican City. This was the only problem we had with the 3 tours we took. It left us just a little over 1 1/2 hours in the Vatican. All too soon we were back on the bus heading back to the port at Civitavecchia. We arrived just in time. If we had been on our own we would have had problems. Another early night after dinner, and a 6am alarm. The next day we were in Naples. This was our third 6am wake up call for a 7.30am 10 hour tour. We arrived at Pompeii before it opened, allowing us the treat of enjoying Pompeii before the crowds arrived. Sorrento, for lunch, however, was overrun with tour buses. We could not help but think what it must be like in these tourist centers in July and August, when the Europeans go on holidays. Sorrento was beautiful and after lunch we took the ferry to Capri. Capri is spectacular, especially the ocean side of the island. To see Pompeii, have lunch and see Capri in one day can only really be done by ship's tour. If you want to go on your own I would not recommend that you try to visit any more than 1 of these locations. After 4 ports in 4 days the sea day was much appreciated. Rest was understandably the order of the day. The ship is a great place to relax. Service and food in the restaurant is consistently excellent. There are many bars and places to relax, including the outside pool deck and also the inside pool, both of which were heavily used on this cruise. The weather was wonderful, especially when we remembered that this was still only mid May. The gym and the spas are among the largest afloat and one of our favorites. The casual lunch and breakfast cafes are run of the mill, and not up to the same standard as the main restaurant, in my opinion. I do not like the fact that you have to make a reservation for the bistro alternative dining in a corner of the buffet area. Sometimes you don't know what you want to do for dinner until you get back from ashore. If you don't make reservations you have to go to the main restaurant or make do with pasta and the sushi bar. The sushi bar was consistently good, however. Celebrity is still a very traditional cruise line in the area of dining I feel, and I do not feel that this cruise lends itself to this type of restricted dining options. A little more dining flexibility would be a good innovation. After the sea day we arrived in Santorini. Wow! Santorini is one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited. The pictures do not do it justice. It is spectacular. My wife and I were on the first tender, and up the cable car into Fira, before the early tours had disembarked. We walked to Oia, and must say that we were more than a little surprised in the reviews we had previously read that led us to believe that the walk was on a simple footpath. We walk a lot and this was not a simple footpath. It was quite literally up and over 2 very large hills. To say it was a spectacular walk, however, would be an understatement. Santorini is one of the most beautiful places with it's whitewashed buildings, blue church domes and buildings perched on top of the sheer caldera cliffs. We took the bus half way back to Fira, and then walked the rest of the way on the cliff side to Fira. The sunset was spectacular. We sat on the stern of the ship, listening to Spanish guitar music, watching the light change, enjoying a drink and gazing at the beauty of Santorini. Truly magical! The next day we arrived in Athens, again at 7am. We disembarked early, walked around the port to the far side of the ferry terminals and found the railway station. It is outside of Gate E6. If you leave the cruise terminal and keep on turning left around the port you will come to the railway station. The trains to Athens are regular and Monistariaki, the stop for the Acropolis and Parthenon, is stop #7. The Acropolis and The Plaka are well worth a visit. Athens is always hot, and after walking through the ruins and the narrow streets of the Plaka we had lunch, and made our way back to the ship. We enjoyed the pool for a late afternoon swim. After dinner we sat on our balcony and enjoyed our sailing away. The final sea day was spent enjoying the ship and relaxing. We even caught one of the shows. The entertainment is not what sets Celebrity apart. The shows are good but not exceptional. The food in the restaurant and service throughout the ship is excellent but the Olympic Restaurant is truly special. The food there is exceptional and we had a great dinner on the final sea day. Do not sail on a Millennium class ship without trying the specialty restaurant. You will be disappointed if you do. Dubrovnik is a beautiful city, and not to be missed. Although I had seen many of these ports previously this was my first visit here, and I was not disappointed. The city walls are easy to walk, as are the narrow alleys and streets. After exploring for a while we walked to the beach and enjoyed a little time there. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty for Santorini on this cruise. In the same way nothing on earth can compare with the thrill of sailing into Venice for the first time. Sailing through the channels and twists and turns and then past St Mark's and the Grand Canal is inspiring. Venice is a wonderful city, one which everyone should see at least once in their lives. The narrow alleys, canals and the bustle of the Grand Canal create a magical city, which is truly unique. If you embark here then come early. If you disembark then stay over or make sure that you at least get an overnight stay. Venice is completely different after dark. We disembarked after a much too quick cruise and flew home, via London. With booking our own flights way in advance we got a great price and were able to make our own arrangements. We stayed over in London and went to a West End show and had dinner with my sister at one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants, all in all a perfect way to end a perfect cruise. This is a cruise I would recommend to anyone considering a European cruise. The culture, history and beauty of these great European cities is incomparable. If you want a sampling of these great locations then this is the cruise for you. Celebrity is a fabulous cruise line. The food, service and facilities are all first class. Their ships are clubby, warm and friendly, and make a really inviting base to travel on. If you can spring for a balcony go ahead. It really adds to the experience. At the least try to get an outside cabin to enjoy the passing views and sunrises and sunsets from. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
A little background. I'm in my late 30s and my husband is in his early 50s. This was our 5th cruise - 1st on Celebrity. We had planned this trip for about 18 months and it turned out to be everything we had expected and more. We ... Read More
A little background. I'm in my late 30s and my husband is in his early 50s. This was our 5th cruise - 1st on Celebrity. We had planned this trip for about 18 months and it turned out to be everything we had expected and more. We flew into Barcelona via Frankfurt from Vancouver to enjoy two nights pre-cruise at the Atrium Palace in Barcelona (Great hotel....beds a little hard, but a great location). Barcelona is a wonderful city and I highly recommend spending some extra time there if possible. The hop on/off bus is a great deal. Embarkation....a breeze. We filled out the XPress pass and the whole thing from start to finish was about 10 minutes before we were boarding. Our Cabin...WOW...how do you beat an FV? We had 7199 and just loved it. We didn't want to give it up. The cabin was great and the deck was to die for. Millennium....She was in pretty good shape. She is going into drydock in another week or so, but on the whole, she's beautiful. I really like the M class ships, they're such a great size and so elegant. Probably the nicest ship we've sailed on. Staff.... Excellent. Our cabin attendant Nemia was awesome. She's definitely the best we've had in five cruises. The waiters were good but not the best. Everyone we encountered was really friendly and helpful. Entertainment: Can't comment. We didn't attend one show. This was such a port intensive itinerary that we didn't do any late nights. Food: I'm a bit torn on this. I was expecting more. We only ate in the dining room about half the time...we were a little peeved to have not received our table for two that we asked for 18 months in advance. Do they really need Sweetbreads on the menu? I mean with only four or five selections...does anyone order Quail, Squab and Sweetbreads? I'm not that picky of an eater and there was one night when I wanted absolutely nothing on the menu, not a appetizer, soup, salad or entree. The Olympic was excellent. Well worth the $30 per person. Ports: Villefranche: We had a private tour with Sylvie who is amazing. In my opinion it was the best private tour we did, although Daniele in Rome came very close. We visited Nice, St. Paul de Venice, Eze, Monaco & Monte Carlo. Livorno/Florence/Pisa: Private tour with Driver in Rome. Another very good day. You saw the herds of cruise ship tours and just groaned. Private Tours are the only way to go. A word of advise on shopping: I'm kicking myself for not stocking up on scarves at the San Lorenzo Market. We were buying lovely silk scarves for around 4 or 5 Euro...some were even 3 for 10 Euro. Everywhere else the exact same ones were 15 - 20 Euro each. Rome: Private Tour with Daniele from Driver in Rome. We saw so much and had to do very little walking. Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Coliseum, St. Peters. Even the Pope! Naples: We elected to take the ferry ourselves to Capri. Very easy to do. It was about a 40 minute trip. Capri is lovely to just walk around and have a leisurely lunch. A beautiful island. Next time we'll do the Amalfi Coast. SEA DAY: Yeah!! Finally some rest. We hung out on our deck most of the time and read. A lot of people get burned out on this cruise, so we really tried to relax and not do much on sea days. Mykonos: Lovely island, better prices than Santorini for jewelry, etc. Very windy though. As soon as you leave the protection of the little winding streets we were getting blown to pieces. We ate at Nicks Taverna and it was great. The best greek salad we've ever had. Athens: A private tour this time with Spiros, only he wasn't our driver, it was Michael. A good day. We visited the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, changing of the guard, 45 minutes in the Plaka and then out to Cape Sounion for the Temple of Poseidon. We really liked having a private tour, but with three adults in the back of the taxi, they were feeling a bit cramped. Santorini....WOW....what a lovely island. We checked out of the Donkeys and elected to take the cable car up. We looked around Fira a while and then took the noonish bus out to Oia. Do not miss Oia. This is such a lovely town and where all the pictures are taken of the white churches and the blue roofs. Just walk around for a couple of hours...it's beautiful. We then took the bus back to Fira and made our way back to the ship. Another Sea Day...Yeah..more rest. Dubrovnik. This was the first day on the cruise we woke up to rain..and it was pouring! We waited an hour or so before deciding just to do it and take the Tender in. After about 45 minutes of walking around the town the rain let up. Dubrovnik's old town is a lovely walled city. We wish we'd have walked the walls but when we first arrived they would have been very wet and windy and then later we were laden down with purchases. Go to Mea Culpa for pizza - it's excellent. Venice...what can I say about Venice...just thinking about it makes my heart skip. It is the most beautiful city I've ever been to. We just loved it. We arrived around noon and decided to skip the ship's transfer to St. Marks. We'd arranged Venice Cards before we left with a three day Vaporetto pass. So we found our way to Piazza Roma to pick up our passes and board the #1 Vaporetto for our trip down the Grand Canal...what a way to first see Venice. It was lovely. We walked and walked as far as our legs would carry us the first day and dis some planning as to where our Hotel was located for when we disembarked. Disembarkation: Again, a breeze. Very well organized. We left around 9:30 - 9:40 as we weren't going home we had two nights post cruise in Venice. We picked up our luggage with no problem and then got in the line to organize a water taxi. You can't just go out and hail one, you reserve and pay and then go out and board with your group when your number is called. They try and put you into groups so split the cost. We paid 50 Euro a couple. We had three couples all going to different hotels. If you're all going to the same hotel I think it was around 30 Euro per couple. Venice....post cruise....ah....We made our way to the Westin Europa Regina which I had booked on points. We were so lucky to be upgraded to a Junior Suite overlooking the Grand Canal. It was such a lovely hotel and our room was amazing. Back to exploring (shopping)! Again, we walked and walked....ate Pizza and Panini's standing at counters..don't sit down unless you want to pay triple. We will definitely be back to Venice. Our hotel had a shuttle to the airport for 50 Euro a couple which we took. It was just a water taxi, but cheaper than booking one yourself. Once at the airport don't get a porter unless you want to pay 5 Euro a bag (which can really add up). We paid 1 Euro for a luggage cart and walked the 7 minutes ourselves. Random Notes: If you like scarves...buy them off the street in Barcelona or at the market in Florence...way cheaper. Santorini had some beautiful one's too, but they are expensive, so if you need cheap gifts, florence is excellent. Florence market had some great deals.... lovely leather, silk ties for 5 Euro and millions of silk scarves. Italy...eat standing up. Sit down and the price goes sky high. Eat lots of Gelato...yum! Mykonos is cheaper than Santorini for shopping. Venetian glass...Real Venetian glass is cheaper on the ship than in Venice. I bought a necklace that was $82 us on the ship and 129 Euro in Venice. Also be careful of cheap chinese glass. We were warned numerous times about glass around the Rialto Bridge. There is a lovely little shop about two block west? of San Marks called FGB where she makes and designs her own jewelry, she had great prices...I bought six pairs of earrings. Stay and extra day or two in the embarkation and disembarkation ports...it makes a huge difference. Private Tours are the way to go...make friends on Cruise Critic and put groups together. People were exhausted after Rome, I don't think we walked more than a block. Do the Hop on/off bus in Barcelona, it gives you a great overview of the city into sites you'd never see otherwise. Go to the Med. You won't be sorry! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
What a wonderful trip to the Med. We were on the Celebrity Millennium from Oct. 25th to Nov 6th 2005. We are in our mid 50s and this was our first trip to Southern Europe and our 7th cruise. This trip took an extensive amount of ... Read More
What a wonderful trip to the Med. We were on the Celebrity Millennium from Oct. 25th to Nov 6th 2005. We are in our mid 50s and this was our first trip to Southern Europe and our 7th cruise. This trip took an extensive amount of preparation and I could not have done it without the help I received on the cruise critic and trip advisor boards. What follows is my ramblings of my memories of the trip. If you are reading this, I hope you get a few pieces of information that help you plan your trip. I would like to stress that this was a dream vacation and I would recommend it to anyone. There is something for everyone, so choose what you want to do based on your budget and your physical capabilities. My husband and I love to walk. We like to visit the buildings and streets up close to feel the ambiance of the city. On this cruise, we planned to take advantage of our ability to walk for hours. The next time we visit Europe, we may not be as mobile as we are today. While I can walk for hours, I find standing in one place for a long time more tiring. Therefore, guides usually dont work because they generally stop in one place and talk for an extended period of time. We read and planned as much as we could before the cruise and we carefully chose which museums we wanted to visit, since we were more interested in the architecture and the ambiance of the cities we were visiting. Our plan to walk is one of the reasons we chose to do this trip at the end of October. I cannot walk for 4 hours in the heat of summer in the Mediterranean. We booked our cruise and we hoped it would not rain too much or too hard. As it turned out, we could not have asked for better weather. Not one drop of rain fell during our 18 day trip. The temperature during the afternoon was generally in the high 60s. I had also heard so much about the pickpockets, I figured it would be a lot harder to pick my pocket when I was wearing my jacket. I have a pretty flat purse that I can wear with the strap across my body under my coat. For the days that we had our passports and all our money, we wore money belts. I started looking at flights a year out. Continental airlines, our airline of choice, flies non-stop from NJ only to Rome and back non-stop from Madrid (although they now flying non-stop to/from Barcelona). When I first started to price tickets, the ticket to Venice-Barcelona was about $1,400 (although that changed later) and Rome-Barcelona about $700. We decided that we wanted more time in Rome since we had never been to Rome and the cruise ship docked the first night in Venice anyway. The price differential made it an easy decision. So we planned our pre-cruise in Rome. We had a 5:30 p.m. flight out of Newark, NJ and arrived in Rome at 7:30 a.m. Continental served dinner, breakfast and had several additional drink services. The plane had individual monitors in the back of the seats with a choice of 3 movies and video games. The movies recycle during the flight. It was a great hassle free flight and we arrived in Rome ready to go. Day 1 precruise ROME - We were picked up at the airport by Salvatore for 45 euros. He was at the airport waiting with a sign. I was hoping for some commentary on the ride into Rome but he just pointed out a few sites. His website said 42 euros so I emailed him to make sure 45 euros included everything including luggage. When we arrived at the hotel he conveniently did not have change for 50 euros. So we dug out the 45 euros. (I had purchased Euros from my Credit Union at work.). Sorry, no traffic, no extra service provided, no additional tip when you play games with us. Would we have a limo pickup again? Yes, because we were fresh when we got to the hotel and as you will see we had a full day in Rome. I had spent entirely too much time looking for the perfect hotel in Rome. The perfect hotel would be centrally located, 4 or 5 star and reasonably priced. October is high season in Rome, and prices at the better hotels were astronomical. We ended up staying at Hotel Forty Seven which is near the Rome Forum and a few blocks from the bridges to the Trastevere area. This was a good 4* hotel. One of the reasons I chose this hotel was I figured our luggage would have to be stored both the first day on check in and the second day on check out and I wanted a hotel where I could feel comfortable leaving our luggage in storage. Fortunately, our room was ready, so we were able to put our passports and money into the safe that first day. The hotel was modern, clean, nice size room, nice bathroom and included an excellent breakfast. It is located close to the Forum. We had stepped right back in time, staying at a hotel where you walked out the front door and there was the Boca del Verita.. The hotel clerk was extremely helpful and provided a map of Rome. We walked around the Forum towards the Coliseum so that we could buy our tickets at Palatine Hill. We were the only ones buying tickets at Palatine Hill. When we got to the Coliseum a few minutes later, there was a long line to purchase tickets and we breezed right past them. We also purchased a book on our walk which had commentary and pictures on the historical sites now, with plastic overlays that showed how the buildings would have looked in the past. This really added to our understanding and enjoyment of the Coliseum and the Forum area. (We never paid full price for these tour books from the street vendors. We paid 7 euros for the 10 euro book and 8 euros for the 12 euro book.) Dont miss the small museum on the upper floor of the Coliseum. We then headed across the street to the Forum. After walking around the Forum and sitting a few times to view the then, now pictures in our book we went up to the Palatine hill, but what we found was mostly gardens and a great view down of the Forum. If there was a Palatine museum we did not find it. When we exited the Forum we passed many street performers. We looked for a restaurant on our walk but we did not see any. So we finally settled for some Gelato from a street vendor and sat on the steps and watched a minor music street production. (Something special because it was Sunday?). We then walked to the Trevi fountain and sat for 20 minutes. The sculptures and the fountains are magnificent. The only downside was the street salespeople. At least 10 people came to us selling the same stupid toy. I could not understand why so many people would be selling the same thing. I finally said NO in a loud voice and that was the last time we were approached by any of these people. On the ship someone mentioned that they may have been working as a group, trying to get you to buy something so they could see where you kept your money. They also distract you with the toy. We walked back to the hotel, past the Victor Emmanuelle monument and rested for a short while. At this time we were faced with the reality that restaurants were closed during our regular dinner time. We took our chances and headed out to look for a restaurant. There are no restaurants near the Hotel Forty Seven but they suggest you cross the bridge to the Travestre area. It was quiet when we were there and most of the restaurants were closed. But, we found a nice little restaurant where we ate outdoors and had one of the best and least expensive meals of the trip. Pre Cruise Day 2 ROME  We had a great nights sleep and woke up for an early breakfast. It looks like we took care of any jet lag by staying up all of the first day. The breakfast at Hotel FortySeven was excellent. We checked out of the hotel and they put our luggage into storage. I was very comfortable with the storage area and the fact that they gave us tickets for our luggage. We had another wonderful day exploring Rome on foot. We walked to the Pantheon. Walking in Rome is a walk back in time. You do not know what building or church you will find around the next corner. After the Pantheon we went to Piazza Navone. We were way ahead of schedule, so we looked on our map for something else to see. But the major sites listed on the map that were within walking distance of our planned day were closed on Monday. So we headed to the Synagogue and the Jewish Museum. Our walk took us through a different section of Rome and we happened upon an outdoor market. Shopping is always more fun in an outdoor market. We arrived at the Synagogue 10 minutes before one of their 2 scheduled English tours at 11:30. After the tour we walked through the area that had once been the Jewish ghetto. It was very interesting seeing how the people now live in Rome, right under ancient ruins. It boggles my mind. We had lunch at an outdoor cafe. We returned to the Roman Forum area and decided to do the part of the Roman Forum that we had missed the previous day. We were just fascinated by ancient Rome and the weather was a perfect 72 degrees. We returned to our hotel early enough to sit and rest for a while before picking up our bags to head to Termini station for our 5 oclock train. We correctly planned that our second evening was going to be down time for us and it would be well spent sitting on a train to Venice. The hotel called a taxi (12 euros + tip) and we left for the Termini station an hour before our train. I had purchased first class train tickets to the Venice Mestre station on a Eurostar train where we did not have to change trains. Using the Trenitalia site was very easy. Just click on English. The trick is to register when you enter the site before you try to purchase your tickets and to turn off your popup blocker. No need to pay an agent or Rail Europe additional fees. I wrote down the confirmation #, and they also sent me an email confirmation. The confirmation # acts as a ticket. For the additional 35 euros for first class we got wider seats and beverage and cookie service. I walked to the second class section and the seats had the same amount of leg room. In 2nd class you sat 4 across as opposed to 3 across. In retrospect, I would purchase second class seats on the Eurostar. If you want to know the train stops you need to click on the train # on the Trenitalia site. This allowed us to know when we should prepare to get off. There was also a dining car and a snack car if you would like to eat on the train. We purchased the tickets 5 weeks before our trip. The first class car we were in was fairly full. We decided to go to Venice Mestre because the hotels were more convenient, cheaper, and we could get a land taxi to the ship the next morning. The only downside to stopping in Mestre is that we came in on a middle track and had to lug our luggage down and up steps, something we had been trying to avoid. The station had a mechanical stair lift, but my husband was in no mood to figure out how that worked. But when we left the train station and saw the sign for our hotel across the street, all was forgiven. We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Bologna which was directly across the street from the train stop. It was a 4* hotel with an excellent breakfast. We got an AARP rate on the internet for 120 euros. They gave us a jr. suite. Day 1 - VENICE The next day the hotel called a taxi which took us to the ship at 10:00. The taxi cost about 25 Euros. We knew it would be too early to check into the ship. We dropped off our luggage and headed to Venice. We wasted 10 minutes looking for the free Celebrity water bus, until someone told us that it was not available for new passengers in the morning. So we were pointed in the right direction and we walked to the Piazza Roma. It was probably a half mile walk but I dont think there were any stairs. As it turned out, you could probably hold your taxi, drop off your luggage and ride to the Piazza Roma from the cruise ship terminal. If you are interested in staying near the Santa Lucia Train station I would check this out with a Venice Limo company, the hotel you are planning to stay at, or on the boards. We bought a 24 hour pass to the Vaparetto in one of the information stores in the parking garage on the right as we neared the city, and followed the crowds to the Vaparetto. We had arrived. First stop was San Marco Square. Our plan for the day was to walk around and to go to the Doges Palace. We had read to avoid lines to go to the museum across the square, The Korman Museum and buy our ticket for the San Marco Square museums. When we purchased the ticket we asked for the WC. They were in room 14. By the time we got to room 14 looking at all the exhibits as we walked, used the WC, and walked back through the archeological museum to exit, we had done 2 museums. As it turned out, Doges Palace did not have a long line. The palace was huge and not to be missed. We enjoyed the palace immensely. We were there for over 2 hours. We got to walk over the Bridge of Sighs as part of the palace walking route and also visit the prison. When we finished the Palace, we decided to get on a Vaporatto to the Lido to give us a chance to rest our feet and to see a little more of Venice and Venice life. How interesting seeing people getting on and off the Vaperattos as they went about their everyday life. The Vaporattos are very noisy and crowded, although we were able to find seats. We did a round trip and got off at Rialto and walked back to San Marco Square. We did some shopping and window shopping. I bought a tapestry and a scarf and that took care of all my shopping for the trip. We took the free Celebrity shuttle back to the ship. It was about 3:30 and there was no line at all for check in. Needless to say, when we got to our room our bags were outside. We unpacked, rested, went to dinner and headed back to San Marco Square. Just by accident we met one of our cruise critic friends on the shuttle and we spent several hours walking in Venice together. We found Harrys Bar and enjoyed the ambiance of Venice at night. DAY 2 VENICE  The next morning we were up bright and early. Our plan was to go with our Cruise Critic friends to the Jewish Ghetto section of Venice. Celebrity provided a free water bus to San Marco square. We then used our 24 hour pass for the Vaparatto from the previous day to get to the stop nearest the Ghetto. The area was very interesting not only for its historical background, but it is a section of the city where people still live. We spent the next few hours walking from the Jewish Ghetto back to San Marco Square. They say the city of Venice is a museum and they are correct. Every street is unique, with the canals, bridges and interesting buildings. Our friends were taking pictures of unusual windows and clotheslines, and it focused us on looking at details that we might not normally see. We took a 2:00? Celebrity water bus back to the ship. I dont think I could have walked another step. Life boat muster and then a sailaway party with our cruise critic friends. This gave us a chance to meet the people we would be touring with. It was a fabulous sailaway. The skies were overcast, but we were all happy that we had 2 more days with no rain. We knew we were in Venice during low tide, but we had heard stories about water in the streets and we were thankful for the nice weather, overcast in the high 60s. We had had a lot of laughs on our cruise critic board talking about what to do if there was water in Venice. Sheila had purchased $5 galoshes on the internet to ward off the rain (it worked!). Ed was going to buy a blow up kiddie pool to float his luggage around Venice if it rained. We were also happy our group had prearranged to meet at sail away. Because of the hurricanes in the U.S., Celebrity said they never got the cruise critic list from their Miami office. By the time they arranged a cruise critic party it was halfway through the trip and many of us had already done tours together. The Ship  We had an inside cabin on deck 8. We knew this was a port intensive cruise and we would be out of our rooms early. We were usually eating breakfast as the sun rose and the ship docked. Sunset in late October is pretty early. As we requested, we had early seating and while we were eating the sun set. During the cruise we changed the clocks for daylight savings time and sunset was even earlier! Dont be afraid to ask for extra pillows or a mattress pad if you would like a softer bed. This is available by asking your room steward. The room was an adequate size. There is ample closet space. I like the setup of the room. There is a night table on both sides of the bed. On other cruise ships one side of the bed was against the wall and I had to climb out of the bed. This was the same room we had on the Constellation last year and it has no neighbor on one side and a connecting door to the room on the other side. This was the second year we did not hear our neighbors. In fact last year we asked the steward if there was anyone in the attached room. Dining  We had asked for a table of 6 and we were given a table for 7. It was in the front of the dining room on the forth deck near the big picture window. At first we were thrilled with this, but we found this section of the dining room to be very noisy and we had trouble hearing across the table. There was music in the dining room every night, sometimes a player piano and sometimes a 3 piece band. Last year our table was on the 5th deck and I do not remember thinking it was noisy. Weve been very happy with the food on Celebritys cruises and we werent disappointed. There are plenty of choices, and the one night I could not find something I wanted I ordered salmon. Our tablemates often ordered an extra main dish of pasta for the table and our waiter served some to anyone who was interested. On several of the nights when Celebrity expected people to get back late, they extended the early seating time to 7:00. The 6:15 time ended up not being a problem for us, but it was nice to know they would not close the doors at 6:30. We did not try the specialty dining. Entertainment  Millenniums theatre is one of the more comfortable ships theatres weve been in. They had the typical production shows which we always enjoy. In addition they had a pianist who was excellent and a violinist who was very good. We like the routine of early dinner, a show and then head to our room. There were also the usual Piano Bar and small band. We particularly liked their country western singer/guitar player. We thought that the activity choices during the day were lacking. There was an excellent lecturer on board to talk about the different historical sites and he was only scheduled twice. He mailed us a CD of all of his lectures. I do not know what the Social Director was thinking or not thinking, not adding a lecture on the last sea day to talk about Spain. Performers were scheduled for afternoon performances on sea days and that was a nice bonus. We were interested in most of the movies which were all fairly recent, but they were scheduled at the same time as the shows in the evening. When we asked about why there were no movies shown during the day we were told the Cinema was being used for meetings. I cannot imagine that either the Cinema or Theatre could not be made free for a 2 hour time period for a movie. There always seemed to be time for the shopping lecture. On this ship the art auctioneer did not conduct lectures. We often attend the art lectures even though we do not purchase artwork. The Social Director was not an Entertainer. Some of the Social Directors have been very funny and warm up the audience for the show. We felt Millies Social Director was a little flat. Another example of poor scheduling was the late in the cruise - cruise critic party. We had to go to the desk many times and give them a list of cruise critic members and finally have a meet and mingle scheduled halfway through our trip. Day 3 - DUBROVNIK is a wonderful stop on the cruise. We docked for this stop. Ive noticed many ships tender at Dubrovnik. Another of the benefits of cruising to the Med so late in the season is that there was usually only one other ship in port, and it was often one of the smaller European ships. Celebrity provided a free shuttle bus to the gates of the walled city. The highlight of the day was a walk on the walls. The walls provided beautiful views of the city, the rooftops, and the sea. On some sections of the wall you practically look into peoples upstairs windows and down into their yards. As you enter, the stairs up to the wall are on your left. Tickets were 4 Euros. At the top of the steps you have a choice of which way to walk. A left turn takes you on the half of the wall with fewer steps. We headed that way. We got off halfway around by the sea entrance and walked around town. We visited the synagogue and its small museum. Later we went back to the sea entrance to the museum (save your ticket) and walked the rest of the wall. This was another terrific day. The sailaway was also terrific. We had gotten back to the ship early enough to rest and go out on deck to listen to music and enjoy the sailaway. We had just enjoyed another sunny day in the high 60s. Day at sea. Much needed. We finally got a chance to rest. We were able to sit in the sun at the outdoor pool and use the outdoor pool and whirlpool. How lucky could we get for a cruise at the end of October. ATHENS  We had booked a private excursion for a group of 15 (from the Cruise Critic boards) with Paul. Paul picked us up in a 16 seat minibus. He was at the port waiting for us at 8 oclock and off we went. Paul is not a guide, but he speaks excellent English and he used a microphone to point out all the sights. Everyone could hear him. The windows of the bus were larger than typical bus windows and so clean you could probably take pictures through them. We went to the Acropolis, Acropolis museum, Hadrians Arch and the ruins right behind it, a monastery, the old Olympic stadium, the new Olympic stadium, the changing of the guard (much more interesting than I thought), the subway museum, the Plaka, the Roman Agora and the Ancient Agora. It was our choice as a group not to take the drive down the coast to Cape Sounion which would have taken 3 hours since we wanted more time in the city. We also made short stops at the synagogue and a Byzantine church and Paul drove us by the University and other buildings of interest. This tour ended up costing 35 Euros a person (inc. tip) since we split the price by 15. We returned to the ship at 4:30. I went across the street to an internet cafe. 15 minutes cost 1.8 Euros. Check your change. The woman gave me some funny money instead of a 2 euro coin. The coin she had given me had a 5 on it and I thought she had given me too much and I didnt want to cheat her. Ha! Surprisingly, Athens was the coolest day of the trip. It was overcast, windy and in the mid 60s. But it didnt rain. We were sorry we hadnt taken our coats just in case. We could have left them on the van if we didnt need them. SANTORINI  We tendered in Santorini. We went down to the theatre to get tender tickets and there was no wait. We were on the first or second tender. Santorini is just another magical place. Each day I felt like I was waking up in a new fairy tale. We took the cable car up to the top, walked around, and went to the bus station. Unfortunately it was Sunday and the buses ran every 2 hours to the archeological site. Since the bus to the archeological site left before the bus to Oia, and that is what we really wanted to do, we decided to go there. The bus trip was so interesting. I enjoyed my 1 euro ride as much as any excursion. When we got off, the bus driver pointed us to the right along the shore. As we walked and the shore got narrower we realized we had probably walked in the wrong direction. We headed inland and saw signs to the red beach. So that was where the driver had sent us. We walked back towards the bus stop to find the archeological site, but it was closed. So we walked back to the red beach, took some pictures, found a restaurant deck on the water and sat on the beach and watched the Mediterranean. Since the buses only came once every 2 hours we had a wait for the bus. The trip back was not direct and it circled to another city on the island. I enjoyed every minute of the bus trip. By the time we got back it was a long wait for the bus to Oia. So we will save that for our next trip. We spent an hour or so exploring Fira and then we headed down the walking path to the tender. That was fun and quite a challenge. No, it was not the donkey poo, but the donkeys. We would occasionally be blocked by a person on a donkey going nowhere. This was an experience. When we got back to the ship, I threw all of our clothes in the sink to wash. Later when I looked at my daily sheet, I noticed that the excursion to the Archeological museum was not listed. In the future, if I am heading a distance from town I will check on the daily sheet for this hint of closings. NAPLES  We did a private tour of Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast with one of the best recommended guides and 5 other people we had met on the boards. I will not use the drivers name because he was charming, helpful, and did everything we expected. Everyone else in our group loved this tour. I had concerns about doing this tour because I do not like long drives, or drives on the side of mountains, but everyone on the boards had said the Amalfi coast was the highlight of their trip and I signed on without fully researching what the day would be like. I loved Pompeii. We purchased different books, and walked around with our little group, matching the buildings to the pictures in the book and reading the comments to each other. I would have loved to spend more time in Pompeii. We then headed to the Amalfi coast. I sat in the back. What I thought was going to bother me  the hairpin turns on the side of the mountain were not a problem. There were walls or guard rails on the side of the road and I always felt safe. Unlike a bus where you sit up too high to see the walls, you could easily see them from the van. My complaint was that I could not hear the driver well, and we had to keep asking him talk louder. I also felt like I was not part of the tour, sitting in the back of the van. We spent an hour in bumper to bumper traffic until the driver could bypass the crowd going to Sorrento. We did not see or stop in Sorrento. This was the beginning of what I thought was a long monotonous drive with beautiful scenery. I can understand why some people love this, especially in the heat of the summer. But quite frankly, once I saw the first little village on the side of the mountain, all the villages looked the same. And like I said I hate long drives. There were a few short stops for shopping and pictures, and a too long stop for lunch. The tour ended with an hour drive back to Naples with nothing interesting to see since the driver avoided the coastal roads. He also took us on a short tour of Naples in the dark. (It was Nov. 1 and we had just set our clocks back for daylight savings time). In retrospect, I have thought about what would have made this day better. One thing is that I dont think the extra money spent for the best driver was worth it since I had to strain to hear the commentary. Quite frankly, I cannot remember one thing he said. So if you have a group of 8, you will have 3 second class passengers in the back seat who cannot see and hear as much as the front 5. Yes, we did change seats, but there was not too much commentary on the way back. I definitely would not do the Amalfi Coast in a bus. I would suggest you decide what interests you. If you like to investigate on foot and get up close to the buildings and streets, this is not for you. If you like to look out the window at some magnificent views and dont mind a 5 hour drive with some traffic tie ups, then you will love the Amalfi coast. ROME - Our next stop was Civitavecchia. We had saved the Vatican Museums for this day. We took the train into the city. I had hesitated to do this, but everyone said it was an easy port to get to the train station, and it was. We took the free shuttle bus to the entrance to the port. We walked to the right for about 10 minutes with a small group from the shuttle bus. The entrance to the train station was on our left. We were buying our tickets before we knew it. We told the cashier Rome and he sold us a day ticket to the train and the Rome metro for 9 Euros. I believe we got on the 8:15 train. Since we were going to the Vatican, we got off 50 minutes later at the San Pietro station, walked left for a block and then right. Most of the people walked in this direction. We entered the square near St. Peters. The pope was having an audience that day and there was heavy security. It took us a while to find the end of the line to the Vatican museums. Because we got onto the line by crossing the square and exiting on the other side, we did not see how long the line was. There was a tour guide behind us and she said the line was 45 minutes to an hour long and she was correct. We got on line at 9:30 and we paid to enter the Vatican museums at 10:20. The line was 5 blocks long but it moved quickly. The Sistene Chapel was crowded but we had no trouble getting seats on the benches along the outside. We sat down at 4 different locations to get different views. I do not know if people were unaware that there are benches along the outside of the room, or if they stay close to their tour group. When we left, we saw that the museum was not taking any more visitors. There was a line about half way across the square for St. Peters and we decided to skip this. FYI, others who went to St. Peters said the line was about a half hour long and it was for a security check. We headed back to the train station and returned to Civitavecchia. We were going to visit the fortress next to the shuttle bus stop, but it was closed to visitors. Only the tourist office was open. We walked around Civitavecchia for an hour and took the shuttle bus back to the ship. In retrospect, we accomplished what we had planned for the day. If it hadnt been a Wed. and the day after All Saints day when the Vatican was closed we would probably have gone to St. Peters and that would have been quite a full day. I do not think I would have wanted to take the train if this was our only day in Rome because there is so much to see in Rome. However, several of the younger couples used the Metro and were able to see most of the major sites, but not the Vatican. FLORENCE  We took the ships excursion A taste of Florence which was bus transportation and a 2.5 hour walking tour of Florence with an additional 3 hours on your own. The bus ride was fine and the guide on the bus was very informative. However, about 45 minutes into the trip we stopped for a bathroom pit stop which took half an hour because there were 3 other tour buses ahead of us. We waited 10 minutes for the last missing person. It turned out he was standing outside the bus smoking. Strike one for bus excursions. We changed tour guides in Florence. The guide in Florence did not talk into her microphone. As we walked she had private conversations with whoever was standing next to her. People complained several times and even asked for their money back if she did not intend to talk to the group. Then she talked into her mike for a few minutes, and then back to her private conversations. Strike 2 for bus excursions. I do think we covered more ground and had a better understanding of what we were seeing because of the guided tour. The tour guide did talk into her microphone when we stopped in front of a building. Towards the end of the tour we passed the Uffizi museum and there was only a short line. We had made reservations from home for the Uffizi museum, but we decided to skip the reservations and we headed to the Synagogue since this was our first priority. We had an English tour of the Synagogue and visited the small Synagogue museum. They had great bathrooms by the way. We then headed to the Uffizi museum. There was no line! The guide said she had never seen this before. We spent about an hour and a half at the museum and then took a leisurely walk back to the meeting place, stopping to walk around a few of the buildings we had passed earlier on the tour. Back on the bus we had the first guide, and we drove through an interesting section outside of Florence and she gave us commentary on what we were seeing. Base hit for the excursion. All in all, a wonderful day. VILLEFRANCHE  We tendered in Villefranche on another beautiful day in the high 60s. We were off the ship bright and early. We walked through the Rue Obscure and through the old city of Villefrance up and around a street which ended in the new city. We found the tourist office and got a good map of the area. We were interested in walking to the Rothschild mansion which was in Cap St. Ferrat and the tourist agent gave us similar directions to those we had gotten on the internet. This was a 2 mile walk, so we didnt want to take this long a walk without a map. We walked down hill towards the tender and visited the fort. Then we went back to the ship to eat a light lunch and rest for an hour before our next adventure. And what an adventure it was. We walked along the shore for about a mile. The water was on our right and the train and several small restaurants were on our left. At the last bench we sat and rested for a while. We continued our walk up a flight of steps (the steps are on the left when the road ends at the parking lot), and continued along the road keeping the mansions and the water on our right. We understood we were passing some of the most expensive real estate in the world. However, you only get to see fancy gates and beautiful foliage. We made the first right turn and this road eventually merged with a road with traffic. At the next intersection we saw the sign to the mansion. We were 5 minutes early, so we found a wall to sit on. At 2 p.m., the opening time for the museum, the gates opened by themselves. It was sort of spooky and we got a good laugh. We continued our walk to the house. The house was very interesting, but even more impressive were the gardens. There were 7 themed gardens, French, Italian, Japanese, Exotic, Stone, etc. with a path that led you in and out through all the gardens. I did not think I would like this (especially after the amount of walking we had already done), but the gardens were fabulous. We returned to the house to watch a film (with English subtitles), about the house and gardens. This gave us half an hour to recharge our bodies for the walk back to the ship. It was a gentle slope downhill to Villefranche and we enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the tender. The next day was our last full day. We would dock in Barcelona at 5:00. There was time for a whirlpool, to relax the weary legs, to finish my book, to pack. A large number of people got off the ship at Barcelona. We thought about getting off the ship but it was already getting dark. (downside to the Oct 25th cruise). We were too far from anyplace to walk to. So we decided to stay on the ship for dinner. As you have probably figured out by now, we are not big on eating off the ship. For health reasons I feel more comfortable eating on the ship. The entertainment that night was a movie in the Celebrity theatre. I really enjoyed this. I had not watched TV all week and it was nice to see a movie on the big screen. At the end of the movie we returned to our rooms and put our bags out. Tomorrow we would say goodbye to the Millennium. BARCELONA - We departed the ship at 7:45 a.m., exactly our scheduled time. I dont remember going through customs. We shared a limo van driven by Angie (with a trailer behind) with 2 other couples staying at the same hotel. The cost was 25 Euros per couple. We stayed at the Continental Palacete which I had booked on their website for 120 Euros. When we got to the hotel there were 12 steps from a lower lobby until you get to the elevator to the lobby. The hotel had a lovely sitting room, free internet access and 24 hour drinks and buffet (although the buffet was not as nice as it looked in the pictures and we ended up not eating anything from the buffet except cold cereal.) As it turned out, our room was on the upper floor and we had to carry our luggage up another flight of steps. This was particularly annoying because I had emailed the hotel and confirmed that they had an elevator. The room was small but that is what I paid for. The bathroom was large and clean. The beds were hard and I had a very poor nights sleep. We walked to the Barri Gothic which is the old portion of the city. This was very interesting. Then we took the tourist bus around the city. We got off at a flea market and also some Gaudi buildings and the Gaudi church. In retrospect I wish I had planned my day in Barcelona better because we didnt go into any of the buildings except for the church in the Barri Gothic. We spent too many hours on the tourist bus. When we exited the bus we could not find our hotel. Unfortunately, since we had shared a taxi to the hotel, and one of the other couples had made the arrangements, I had not paid attention to the exact address. We finally stopped in another hotel and asked for directions. Fortunately the desk clerk had a book listing all the hotels. As it turned out, we had been within half a block of our hotel. Next time we will be sure we have the location of our hotel circled on our map. We rested for a while and headed out for dinner. We had no trouble finding restaurants open even though it was 6 p.m. We had a simple dinner and went back to our room. We were probably asleep by 9. This turned out to be good because we were wide awake the next morning at 5:30 and we decided to catch the 7:30am train to Madrid. We had not purchased train tickets in advance on the chance that we would be up early enough to take the 7:30 train. I guess we know ourselves pretty well. We had cold cereal at 6 a.m. and checked out. There was a taxi stand across the street from our hotel, and we were at the train station in 15 minutes. It was a 5 euro ride. My husband got on a line to buy tickets and I went to the information booth to make sure he was on the correct line. It turned out he was on the wrong line, but the line to purchase tickets to Madrid was very short. I showed the ticket agent the printout from the internet and pointed to the train we wanted. I asked for second class seats. I asked if we were facing forward and they said yes. When I asked about first class seats they did not know if the seats would face forward. As it turned out, as we passed the first class cars I saw that the seats faced each other in first class. In second class everyone faced forward. I feel like you have more leg room when you can put your feet under the seat in front of you as opposed to having your feet intermingled with a strangers legs. There was plenty of room and I was not sorry we had purchased second class tickets for 63 Euros each. There was even a movie shown on the train, although it was in Spanish. They gave out free earphones and they had a place to plug the earphones in and choose different channels for the movie or music. Unfortunately, even though it was an American movie, they did not have the English soundtrack. After an uneventful trip, we arrived in Madrid at 12:30. Our hotel, the Westin Palace was a 7 euro taxi ride from the train station. I showed the driver the confirmation page for the hotel. I was afraid he might take us to the Royal Palace. What a difference going to a 5 star hotel. I had found a special on the Westin internet site for AARP members for 152 Euros a night, breakfast included. The breakfast couldnt have had more choices. You had to pay for the room 21 days ahead of time. Since we had trip insurance anyway, we booked the room in Sept. It was a beautiful hotel. The restaurant had a stained glass domed ceiling. I love Westins heavenly beds. I will not go into great detail of the rest of our trip, since most cruisers do not go to Madrid, but we spent the first afternoon walking around the old city of Madrid. The next day we went to the Prado museum and the Royal Palace. On the next day we took a bus to Toledo. Toledo is another fascinating city. If you are ever in Madrid, dont miss Toledo. I liked it better than Barcelona. We stayed 3 nights in Madrid and took a taxi to the airport (20 Euros with tip). Our non-stop Continental flight to NJ was uneventful and 8 hours after our plane took off we were home. This was a wonderful trip. We had a great time everyday. Each city had its own magic. Whether you choose a ships excursion, a private tour, or on your own, I am sure you will have a great time. The only thing I would do differently is plan our days in some of the cities more carefully. I thought I had overplanned this trip and wanted to leave some room for spontaneity. But with so little time, it is important to know exactly what you want to do. If you are taking a hop on hop off bus, decide ahead of time what stops you will get off at. Otherwise you have to make the whole loop a second time. In several cities, we had time to do more things than we planned and while we loved walking around, we probably could have fit in a few more sites. If any of my Cruise Critic friends are reading this I would like to thank you for making this trip extra special. To Sheila, thank you for being our rock. You researched any question anyone had and were our cheerleader. To Ed, thank you for the great web resource page. I wouldnt have recognized Sheila and Art without the pictures and we had a magical night in Venice together. To our honeymooners Lorne and Tamara, I hope the rest of your life is as great as your honeymoon. Thanks Tamara for letting me internet date with Lorne. To Brenda, thanks for the pictures. Actually, I would like to thank everyone for the pictures. I now have over 2000 pictures of the trip and I relive it often. Keep the pictures coming. I hope our paths cross again on another wonderful cruise. Below is our spend for the trip. It includes cruise and airfare from NJ for 2, as well as our 2 nights precruise and our 4 nights post cruise. If I forgot the entrance fee cost I guessed. I changed everything to dollars which will probably not be as helpful when you are trying to figure out how many Euros you will need, but I wanted to get an idea of the price of the entire trip. I used an exchange rate of 1.27 which was about the exchange rate I got from my credit union or this should cover the better exchange rate I got on my credit card but they added a fee. Price for 2 - U.S. $$ Cruise + insurance 3500 Airfare 1200 NJ, Limos to & from airport 150 Limo to Hotel 47 57 Rome Hotel 47+ tip, 1 night pre cruise 286 Entrance Fees Coliseum & Palantine hill 23 Book, postcard 12 Dinner, gelato 31 Jewish Museum Tour 13 Lunch 21 Taxi to train 19 Train to Mestre 234 Hotel Bologna, Mestre 1 night 150 Taxi to ship 30 24 hour vaparatto pass 27 Tickets - Museums of San Marco Square 23 Tapestry 37 Book, postcard 15.6 Gelato 4 Scarf 6 Dubrovnik  walls 10 Dubrovnik  synagogue 5 Athens group tour + tip 80 Acropolis multi site ticket 30 Internet café 2 Athens book & postcards 5 Monastery 5 Santorini Funicula  1 way 10.16 Santorini  bus 8 Naples - private tour 264 Pompeii book 10 Pompeii entrance fee 20 Lunch in Amalfi (shared) 10 Rome  train to Rome round trip 23 Vatican entrance fee 30 Florence excursion  ship credits 0 Synagogue 10 Uffizi 17 postcards 1 Villerfranche  Rothschild mansion 23 Tips on ship - ship credit 0 Continental Palacete Hotel - 1 night 155 Hop on hop off tour bus 46 Dinner 26 Train to Madrid 155 Taxi Madrid 9 Westin Palace Madrid  3 nights 600 Dinner night 1 25 Prado entrance 10 Royal Palace Entrance 10 Dinner 25 Bus/Metro card all day Toledo 18 Synagogue/museum entrance  Toledo 13 Synagogue 2 Entrance  Toledo 8 Dinner 40 Taxi to airport 26 Total $7,567.76 Money Saving Tips  Walk, walk, walk, at a leisurely pace. This allows you to really see the city and saves on taxi fares. Sign up for cruise on your Celebrity Cruise. You can change the trip date by keeping the booking number (we did). This gave us $200 shipboard credit. Own Royal Caribbean stock. This gave us another $200 shipboard credit. (I do not know if this perk is still available). Book your own plane tickets and come in 1 or 2 nights early. Doing it yourself lets you choose the flights that work for you. The money you save will usually pay for your hotel room. My husband only eats 2 meals a day when he is having a big dinner. I do not like to eat off the ship for health reasons, so we try not to eat off the ship. I bring some energy bars for the days we are off the ship at lunch time. We buy water or bottled juice off the ship. Since we walk a lot, we keep our eyes open for grocery stores where the prices are less expensive. Do your homework about the sights you will visit. You dont need someone to tell you what is right there in the guide book. We purchased 4 of those picture tour books in different cities. They served as information guides to the major sites and they now sit on our coffee table with their neatly organized pictures and commentary. No need to print out the 2000 pictures which I have links to from my Cruise Critic friends. (Although I have printed a few to supplement the pictures I took.) Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We are back from a very enjoyable 12 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Other reviewers posted excellent information so we knew what to expect. However, I found very little about the Continental Deck and cabin 2194, so I was concerned ... Read More
We are back from a very enjoyable 12 night cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Other reviewers posted excellent information so we knew what to expect. However, I found very little about the Continental Deck and cabin 2194, so I was concerned it will be noisy and the view will be obstructed by waves. (One reviewer was unhappy with cabin 2192 which is an inside cabin). I am pleased to advise that the cabin was very quiet, and the view from the decent size windows was never obstructed, except for one wave in a bad storm. Sea motion was hardly noticeable throughout the cruise. People on the upper decks felt the high waves much more than we did. We made a few suggestions to improve the experience. 1. For late hour dining you have a choice of salad, pasta and pizza. I suggested adding cheese, crackers, fruit and pastry for those who like some tea of coffee with a small snack before bed. You can get this through room service, but we wanted to sit at a table with our friends and unwind. 2. The movies in the closed-circuit TV were old, and not listed in a TV guide. It would have been nice to know a day in advance what will be playing. 3. Gratuities can only be charged to your cabin if you accept the "recommended" amounts to all staff listed in the schedule. You can't pick and choose. The food was very good to excellent. The entertainment was top notch. Lots of activities to select from, well organized embarkation, disembarkation and tendering to and from port (except for Barcelona. That was the only post where we had to pay for shuttles, where more port buses were needed, and the charge was slightly higher for a return trip than Celebrity told us.) Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
I'm sitting at a PC in the Millennium's well-equipped Computer Room with a view of the Western Mediterranean passing peacefully by as we sail for our final destination, Barcelona. The fact that I can so easily access a terminal ... Read More
I'm sitting at a PC in the Millennium's well-equipped Computer Room with a view of the Western Mediterranean passing peacefully by as we sail for our final destination, Barcelona. The fact that I can so easily access a terminal on a Sea Day is due both to the greater number of terminals than on previous cruises as well as the price of internet access (a painful $0.75 per minute, and a connection noticeably slower than your home cable modem hook-up). This is our tenth cruise, although first with Celebrity (we are long time Royal Caribbean cruisers, the corporate owner of Celebrity). It will not be our last though. It's a slightly up market version of Royal Caribbean, a slightly older crowd (average age maybe 45), slightly fewer kids (though with a peerless kids' program), and significantly better food (on which more later). At twelve nights, this was also our first "longer" cruise, which felt a little decadent and certainly long enough to let the time merge into a pleasantly confusing fog of ports, excursions, dining dress codes and misplaced days ("if it's Friday it must be Santorini"). We arrived in Venice a day early, both to adjust to the six hour time difference from the U.S. east coast as well as to sightsee. Venice in August is a popular place, and San Marco Piazza (which we have visited before) allowed crowd movement akin to exiting a large sporting event. Taking a vaporetto (water taxi) is certainly the recommended way to get from Marco Polo airport to your hotel; however, Nature plays a role here and since the canal most convenient to our hotel was inaccessible (low tide) we had to wheel/carry the considerable luggage a family of six takes for two weeks across San Marco Piazza, down alleys barely wide enough for a suitcase and finally to our hotel. If I think of it, next time I'll check for deep water access near our hotel. So we settled in, explored, took a gondola ride, ate at "tourist" restaurants, and the next day boarded our ship. Check-in was uneventful. It was high tide so a relatively short hike with bags to the vaporetto, and following a pleasant ride to the passenger terminal our bags were taken by a Celebrity representative while we were processed and led onboard. Our group was eight (three adults, four teenagers and a four year old). We've cruised together many times. Reports on Millennium from various websites range from positive to tired. It's a big ship though smaller than the Royal Caribbean Voyager class (those of the rock-climbing wall and ice-skating, not that we've ever tried either). We found it well looked after, clean, and generally with a wide variety of activities on offer (unless you're an under-age teenager seeking entry to the 18+ disco). We tentatively enrolled our young daughter in the Kids' Program, and this turned out to be a big success. While we had to probe and guess at how she'd spent her day, she invariably skipped in there each morning while we went on an excursion that she would not have enjoyed nearly as much, and as a result a better day was typically had by all. The evening dinners in the main dining room were a notable step up from Royal Caribbean, whose standards we feel have slipped in recent years. We really didn't have a bad meal, and in many cases the quality was easily that which you might expect in a good restaurant back home. The lamb shank was slowly cooked for several hours, delicious and quite enormous. Similarly on lobster night (our elder daughter's favorite) the lobster tails were decent-sized (such that if you did indulge in a second that was quite as much as anyone could consume). Our waitress, Viktoria, from Hungary was ever-cheerful and efficient, swiftly replacing the occasionally poorly-chosen appetizer and quietly whispering to us the better menu choices (advice we quickly learned to heed). We ate in the dining room every night and never had a bad experience. The evening entertainment was decidedly mixed; we've had better. The Millennium Singers and Dancers were heavily employed, it seemed to us, and at their worst (a most forgettable show named "Fantasea") made us feel as if our role as audience was that which parents of young children play when the little ones announce at home there will be "a show" in the family room (attendance compulsory) in five minutes. It's somehow less endearing when the quality is the same but the performers are adults. There was an illusionist, Jamie Allen, early in the cruise who was excellent, but one or two comedians would have been good and were sorely missed. Although we typically watch the evening show, we passed on many after the first few days. Our cabin (7204) was a family suite with a queen size bed, pull out couch for our two daughters and a quite large balcony (always well worth it in our experience). And it was here that we encountered the Oregon family. On the penthouse deck directly below us, in a cabin that our balcony overlooked, was a very pleasant couple in their late 50s/early 60s. They were traveling with three of their grown children and respective spouses and children, distributed in three other cabins. We engaged in some small talk from our balcony overlooking theirs, and they invited us in to see their quite sumptuous quarters (which included a piano and two plasma TV screens). They were the eminently presentable U.S. cruising couple, well-dressed, well-travelled and not bad neighbors. Children can surprise you, and presumably the loud and substantial pre-school teacher (yes, really) that was next door to us had turned out somewhat differently than her unfortunate parents might have expected perhaps 20 years earlier. Now I've normally thought stateroom walls are steel, and can remember few occasions where our neighbors on past cruises were even audible. And, as we were reminded on many occasions those first two jet-lag induced sleepless nights (at a shrill level of decibels more appropriate for the evening show) Oregon is nine hours time difference from Europe. These people evidently live life at a very high noise level, which rendered the wall paper thin and afforded us unwanted details on minute details of their daily lives. It began to resemble a version of reality TV watching a certifiably dysfunctional family in action, as screaming matches developed over such issues as ownership of a glass of water, missing chocolate powder, TV channels, bodily emissions and other unsavory aspects of (I presume) what passes for every day life in certain parts of Oregon. They reminded us of the Griswold cousins in National Lampoon's Vacation, a view that was reinforced when we briefly met the husband. Our amusement over the first couple of days soon shifted to incredulity, especially when I pointed out to the amply fed Mrs. Griswold that we could hear EVERYTHING going on in their room. We're still getting used to living like this was her reply, and while I searched hard I couldn't detect a trace of embarrassment, as if it must be some other domestic battle we were listening to every night. I did wonder if I should report unusually thin walls on Celebrity ships, but since on our other side the cabin might as well have been empty I guess this was just our bad luck. Eventually their sleep patterns conformed more to ours although we often awoke to bellowing (usually concerning food). It was Griswold's first cruise, and I hope for the rest of the cruising public, their last. By the way, our stateroom attendant was quite adequate, did his job efficiently and was unobtrusive. In surveying our group on the ports and excursions (ages ranging from 4 to 42), the Pisa/Viareggio tour offered the requisite photo opp in front of the leaning tower (now freed again of its ugly supporting cables) along with a pleasant few hours at the beach and was the favorite of our teenagers. Santorini was of course beautiful, but if you choose the volcanic hike/hot springs wear your oldest sneakers and when swimming in the springs a sulphur-colored swimsuit will be less discolored than most when you emerge from the hot water. Nice and Monaco were beautiful and made us determined to return in the future with time to explore more widely. Rome and Athens were of course as expected. My daughter and I meanwhile took an olive-oil tasting trip north of Rome and enjoyed seeing the countryside. Celebrity's only real mistake was a disastrous tendering operation in Dubrovnik which left hundreds of passengers stranded onboard waiting for a boat ashore. Our ticket for tender #9 saw us wait 90 minutes; no doubt those like another family we chatted with (possessing #27) never got off. A public explanation and apology, since so many were affected (including us) was disappointingly absent. The gym was well equipped. I tried a spinning class and was happy to find the activities staff organized a daily soccer game when it became clear there were enough Brits on board to make it worthwhile. We've had a great time which is now winding to a close. As I've been typing the PC technician has been most patiently assisting guests create CDs of their photos. One is left with the agreeable impression that this is a well run place. A few other tips: • Try the spa food • Check out the aquarium in Monaco • Barcelona was fun, but avoid the flamenco show and watch for pickpockets Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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 3.5
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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