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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This is going to be long winded! So many times, I have read that this itinerary only comes around twice a year and therefore, fewer reviews. If I can help anyone decide to take this journey, my job will be done. I decided to sail from ... Read More
This is going to be long winded! So many times, I have read that this itinerary only comes around twice a year and therefore, fewer reviews. If I can help anyone decide to take this journey, my job will be done. I decided to sail from Honolulu instead of Sydney mainly to escape airline luggage restrictions and also to rest after my first visit to Hawaii. This trip was 18 months in planning with no stones unturned. I really don’t know where to start. I’m always sceptical about people who have a gripe against a cruise line or hotel when something goes wrong that clouds their entire review (sometimes due to unrealistic expectations), or those, much like me, who can see no wrong. I’m a glass half full kind of person. I will try to give this review balance. A little background. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and more importantly, to Bora Bora, my bucket list place. My youngest daughter aged 19 and I flew to Hawaii on Jetstar on September 24 from Sydney. We spent a marvellous week there before embarking the Solstice on Oct 1 for the cruise home via French Polynesia and New Zealand. What a month-long journey it was…. We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel in a premier oceanfront room. The view was stunning and well worth the extra cost for this room in my opinion. It made me constantly “feel” I was finally in Hawaii. It’s located next to the Park Shore Hotel and the Zoo in the quieter end of Waikiki. It was an easy 10-minute walk to Waikiki central. The staff at this hotel were friendly, helpful and professional. We luckily paid $USD60 for an early check in which was much appreciated after arriving from Sydney at 6am. Those overnight flights are brutal if you can’t sleep on a plane (like me). Check in and check out was super easy and fast. The pool area was very pleasant. You could check out towels and deck chairs to take to the beach across the road without charge. There’s an ice machine on some floors. One thing about this hotel is that there is no room service. That didn’t bother us in the least because there were 2 ABC stores, a Wolfgang Puck, a juice place, a cookie store and a Subway on the ground level. The weather in Hawaii was very warm and humid. The locals saying that it was unusually so due to the recent hurricanes and volcanic activity around the islands. I enjoyed swimming at Kuhio Beach to cool down on many occasions. The ocean was refreshing and not cold. Whilst in Hawaii we went with Oahu Photography Tours to the “North Shore” and a “Beautiful Hawaii” tour. I can highly recommend them. You don’t need to be a photographer. They will help you get great shots at some beautiful locations if you want or you can do your own thing. An iphone is just as good as an SLR. We took both. It’s a great way to see the island. I do have to say here that many people we spoke with went to the North Shore with Hi5. It sounds that this may have been a better option. I will go with them next time. Oh, and there will be a next time. Already booked for next June before I even left Hawaii. LOL. We also went to Pearl Harbour. Got a shuttle from our hotel, for something like $USD32 return for both of us. Of course, you still can’t disembark the boat onto the memorial due to structural defects, however, the moving video and 2 free museums were well worth the visit. The movie really explained in simple terms why and how the bombing of Pearl Harbour occurred. Such a tragedy. I booked Arizona tickets online two months out. We got there two hours before our tour asked if we could change our times. Numbers are down so we were able to do that no problem and did not have to wait. One morning at 6am we hiked Diamond Head. We caught an Uber as the buses weren’t running that early. My daughter called it the “death hike” although it wasn’t that bad. It was tough though. There were lots of places to stop and rest on the way up with great photo opportunities. There are lots of uneven lava paths, tunnels and stairs +++. I saw some young and older people have trips and spills. TIP. Once you get to the top and arrive at the near vertical stairs on your right, turn left, a much easier climb to the summit. We were greeted by an amazing scene that included a rainbow! Well worth the effort. Some other things we did was to eat Poke’ in backstreet restaurants, tuna, salmon and octopus, yum. I tried Loco Moco once, and ate at a lovely Italian place, Arancino Di Mare, down near the zoo. Beautiful food. Of course, we went to the Cheesecake Factory and Dukes. No complaints. Lulu’s attached to the Park Shore had great breakfast although way to big portions that were very tasty and economical. Get one meal for two. Great views too. Tikis grill at our hotel was lovely too. You could have a light meal by the pool with drinks or dine in the restaurant for a more a la carte menu. There was nightly music and entertainment. We were on the 10th floor and the music was enjoyable, not intrusive. Of course, we also did some retail therapy at the Waikele outlets and Ala Moana Centre and got some high-end bargains compared to prices in Australia. We caught an Uber to the outlets from Ala Moana, $USD35, and then got a Robert’s air-conditioned bus back to the hotel for $USD10 each which you could book at the outlets. Now to the cruise October 1, got to the terminal by 11am with Hawaii23 shuttle service and were on board by 12 eating lunch at a dedicated dining room function for Concierge class. A lovely way to start. This would be my 7th cruise. All the others on Royal Caribbean. As Concierge class we were invited by the concierge Javier, to the bridge and to sail into Auckland on the helipad which were really nice touches. The main advantage of Concierge class for me was the location. We had a hump cabin on the pool deck with a bigger balcony. We were starboard and had shade most of the day. From day 1 I was blown away. This ship by far is the best I have been on. Probably the biggest difference is that this ship seems to have 2 passengers to each crew member. That is amazing. Considering I have been on Ovation where it was probably 10 to 1. There were no lines on this ship! The Solstice staff were standout. They are truly a credit to their ship and industry. So friendly and willing to help anyone and assist at every opportunity. I could name so many people. But here goes some….Greg and Abel on the pool deck, Maurice, our room attendant, Jim, Faishoul, Kim and Almandi in the dining room. Thank you. You deserve all the recognition you can get. The Solstice has tendering down to a fine art. We had no problems getting off or back on the ship whenever we wanted. We were docked for Honolulu, Papeete, Auckland and of course Sydney. The entertainment was enjoyable with a few standout performances. I enjoyed the enrichment talks about sharks, rays and turtles etc with Brent Nixon prior to French Polynesia. They were appropriate and informative. Especially as we would be swimming with them in Bora Bora. The food was amazing. Not one bad meal. We were careful not to overeat and enjoyed our food. Often skipping lunch after a lovely breakfast where you are spoiled for choice. Occasionally we had a hot dog or burger from the Mast Grill that were always tasty. We dined at many of the specialty restaurants, namely Murano, Silk Harvest, and Tuscan Grill. The flambé lobster at Murano was particularly good. At Silk Harvest, we did a set menu that consisted of a lot of seafood with an Asian twist titled Silk ‘n’ Soul. Very nice. Tuscan Grill was my least favourite, only because I am not a steak person. We had pre-purchased a 3-night dining package. Most nights we did select dining and did not ever wait to be seated. We were treated like royalty. We ate breakfast in the Oceanview café daily except when we ordered room service on days that we had early tenders. It was on time, complete and still hot enough to eat. I was not going to purchase a drink package; however, I could not pass up the premium package for $AUD46 a day! It went on sale just before our cruise. By the time I had daily bottled water, speciality coffees, soft drink, nightly wine with dinner and a cocktail or two, it worked out economical for me. Whenever we went ashore I would grab some cold bottled water to take with me. I suppose I should mention here that we were advised not to drink anything other than sealed bottles of water in French Polynesia which surprised me a little. We were also warned about having drinks with ice in it. My daughter had the premium non-alcoholic package which was not on sale. I was under the impression that she would not be able to drink alcohol as this cruise originated in the USA where drinking laws are 21. However, after clearing Hawaii and in international waters, the drinking age was reduced to 18. So, she ended up having a couple of drinks which were charged at full price and 18% gratuity. Luckily for me she doesn’t drink much. Our first port of call was Maui after departing Honolulu at midnight. We had organised a ship’s tour on what was a beautiful day without any wind. A 45min helicopter flight. How else to see the most of Maui in one day? I can only say that it was worth every dollar. My daughter and I travelled in the front with the pilot as we ascended 10000 feet to the Haleakala Crater. Awe inspiring. It looked like something out of a sci fi movie. A bit like Mars, the red planet. We then travelled the road to Hana by air and saw majestic waterfalls and beautiful terrain that you can’t see from the road. We travelled the famous Jurassic Park helicopter scene into the “park” as Blue Hawaiian had the contract for all the helicopter scenes for all the Jurassic movies. On return to the port we visited the shops and bought some souvenirs and enjoyed the shade of the Banyan Tree. After Maui we had 5 sea days. There was always something to do around the ship or relax around the pool. The cruise director, Rick Spacey and his team could certainly entertain. The uniformed staff often played games against passengers which I think they genuinely enjoyed. Many people debated that 5 sea days in a row were too much, however, I didn’t think so. I used the Canyon Ranch Spa for a massage and a manicure however I found the staff unengaging, condescending and dismissive on two different occasions. Karin who did the massage and Kim the advanced aesthetics technician who did my nails were less than happy to be there in my opinion. I believe they are not employed by Celebrity which could have enhanced their business in my eyes. I could not wait to get out of there. Our next port of call was Papeete, Tahiti. The city itself was like any other capital city with a French flavour. We did another ships tour down the West Coast. It was a nice way to see some of the island. We visited a grotto, a scared ground, and a botanical garden. We called into the markets to buy some souvenirs and found them to be quite expensive. $USD10 for a fridge magnet minimum. This was the same all over French Polynesia. I did get some beautiful unique flower arrangements for my granddaughters to wear in their hair. The next port day was Bora Bora. My destination!! I was up early because I was so excited. It was another beautiful day. I had organised a private tour for about 30 cruisers with Maohi Nui. We had booked nearly a year out to ensure we could experience all Bora Bora has to offer. 12 of us, 6 at a time, did a full day combo tour for $USD215 each which included going up the mountain in a 4-wheel drive for some stunning views, a drive around the island with commentary from Arii who was obviously proud of his country and culture. Up the mountain we visited an artist studio where I bought 4 beautiful hand painted sarongs for my family at home. They were not cheap but definitely unique and of good quality. The artist said it takes him 4-5 hours to paint each one. We then went down the mountain and boarded a 12-seater outrigger canoe with Teddy and Vaitiare and went snorkelling in a coral garden. So many fish all swimming around you. We were serenaded by ukulele as we were taken through the pristine waters to Patrick’s private motu for a true Polynesian feast of suckling pig cooked underground. It was melt in the mouth good! It was served with fruits cooked in the oven, two types of BBQ fish, a chicken and spinach dish and some salad. Cold drinks were supplied and included bottled water, beer, wine, soft drink and champagne. We ate with our hands as you do in Bora Bora from banana leaf plates. After lunch, Patrick performed his fire dance before we headed back to the outrigger to swim with sharks and rays, and that we did in 1-2 metres of water! It was thrilling. Finally, we headed out to the reef to swim in 40ft of deep blue water on top of sharks deep below. To top everything off, a mother and calf whale breached in front of our outrigger as we headed back to the port. What a day! Words are not enough. This day turned out to be the highlight of our month-long holiday. It’s a good idea to take water shoes, an underwater camera, and your own snorkels as we did. If you go to Bora Bora, do yourself a favour and tour with Maohi Nui. Vaitiare likes to book groups to make her job easier so use your roll call and organise things early with one person to do the planning. I do recommend the combo tour however only 12 people per day can do this. The other cruisers did the full day tour and Polynesian lunch minus the 4 wheel drive up and around the island and most raved about the day. All money is payable on the day in cash. The last port of call in French Polynesia was Moorea. It was very hot and humid. We booked the ships Capture Moorea photo tour. It was a lovely way to see the island from Belvedere Lookout and atop Magic Mountain. It was very majestic scenery. After we left French Polynesia, the weather changed. We had cold windy weather with 4 metre swells. They closed the top decks for a couple of days. I was rocked to sleep two nights in a row. The weather settled a little in New Zealand and remained cool till we reached Sydney. Fortunately, I heard of no one coming down with gastro. Unfortunately, many people including myself became unwell in the last few days of the cruise. Many people were quarantined due to influenza A or another virus going around that caused razor blade throats and a hacking cough. I am still recovering. I don’t blame Celebrity for this. The ship was kept meticulously clean and they maintained mandatory hand sanitising. It was just a consequence of many people in a confined space with viruses that were airborne and helped along via the air conditioning when everyone was forced inside due to inclement weather. Despite the illness, I had the time of my life!! I met so many nice people to share my time with. I can now tick off Bora Bora and hope that you can too one day. It really is paradise. Everything else on this remarkable voyage was a bonus. Tours Hana and Haleakala Helicopter Exploration ++++ Discover Tahiti’s West Coast +++ Maohi Nui- Bora Bora ++++++ Capture Moorea- Photo tour ++++ Auckland- Hop on Hop off bus and the Skywalk +++ Bay of Islands- Island and Cave Adventure ++ Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We did the Tahitian Treasures Cruise on Solstice from Honolulu to Sydney for the second time now. We enjoy seadays and chose Aqua Class because of the breakfast in Blu and access to Persian Gardens. Dinner in Blu is a nice plus and we are ... Read More
We did the Tahitian Treasures Cruise on Solstice from Honolulu to Sydney for the second time now. We enjoy seadays and chose Aqua Class because of the breakfast in Blu and access to Persian Gardens. Dinner in Blu is a nice plus and we are happy to report that the food has been significantly better compared to our Blu experience from last year! Our cabin 1543 showed some wear under the roof on the balcony (visible and rusty holes) beside this, it was kept extraordinarily well by our steward Santan. He was incredibly hard working and we can't praise him enough! Overall the ship is still in very good condition - just the seats in the theatre desperatly need a new padding and one hot chair in Persian Guardens seems to be out of order for more than 1 year! We love seadays and we have immensely enjoyed Brent Nixon's lectures and those of Mary Amanda (B. Nixon's wife). The Hawaiian enrichment where enjoyable and authentic, but we had the feeling, that they have just been squeezed into the daily programme without very much attention - which resulted often tin conflicts with other important programme points. Too bad, because our tutors where hard working and overly friendly and helpful. The shows where hit and miss, often very good and spectacular, but then noticeably cheap (repetetive jugglers and the comedian was not funny at all) and boring. Our cruise director Richard and his sidekick Tim where more entertaining than the jugglers and comedians of the main program. Food in Blu was outstanding all the way and Ocenview Cafe always offered an incredible offering of various food and we always found something delicious there. The crew is exceptionally hardworking and overly friendy - with one exception: Guest Service who had a different attitude: "No, you customer are wrong, we can't help you" and we could always feel that they where afraid that complaints could lead to potential refunds (which we never asked for). We dined twice in Murano - top notch from beginning to end and being helped by Sandra was like being guest at a friend's home! She's a gem! We also dined twice in Sushi on 5 and where excited about their offerings that had nothing to do with Sushi! We enjoyed the Lobster Ramen, the Lobster Wan Tan and in particular the Ramen Sliders (Wagyu burgers). Having booked the dining package for 4 nights in advance, Sushi on 5 and Murano gave a very good value for money. All meals in Blu where excellent and beyond what we have experienced last year, the staff around Tanja where absolutely outstanding and it was just like returning to family. It really was that good! We did read a lot about Celebrity diming down and to be honest (with the exception of the lack of the daily 2 bottles of water) we could not sense anything compared to last year - quite the opposite: Everything was slightly better compared to last year. One negative thing: We had to leave ports in Bora Bora at 6:00, Moorea at 5:00, Auckland and Bay of Island at 6:00. Keeping in mind the tender times, this all left not enough time at the destinations and we have heard complaints, that Celebrity excursions left viewpoints before sunset just to be right on time back on the ships. These stays should be longer (and have been mostly longer in the last year) to enable guests to enjoy more of these phantastic destinations. Another niggle: Last year, we had an Hawaiian Farewell show with Hula dancers of all ages (particularly the little boys and girls where just adorable!!!) - nothing like that this year and we really missed it! All in all, it was an almost perfect experience and we can highly recommend cruising on Celebrity Solstice! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I had twelve prior cruises under our belt, but had never done a re-positioning cruise. The "Tahitian Treasures" cruise from Honolulu to Sydney via French Polynesia and New Zealand sounded like just the ticket for our ... Read More
My wife and I had twelve prior cruises under our belt, but had never done a re-positioning cruise. The "Tahitian Treasures" cruise from Honolulu to Sydney via French Polynesia and New Zealand sounded like just the ticket for our inaugural re-positioning, and we were not disappointed in the slightest. The Solstice, although the oldest of the Solstice class ships, is still relatively young (in service since 2008) and is in tip-top shape. Everything is sparkling clean, in good working order, and we didn't see anything that showed signs of wear and tear. Our stateroom was reasonably spacious for two, as was the veranda. One thing I liked was that the bed frames were high enough off the floor to easily allow our 29-inch suitcases (and we had four of them since we were staying on in Australia after the cruise and needed clothing for a couple of climate zones) to fit underneath them. There is also a nice-sized couch in addition to a small but functional desk. The large TV provided for easy viewing and the controls worked well. Storage space was adequate, but just barely. More drawer space would have been nice although I'm not sure where it could have gone. One minor complaint is that the safe was in a less-than-convenient spot, requiring you to get on your hands and knees to operate it. At least there was a safe, however, which we think is a critical piece of equipment for storing passports and other valuable. This was the first time we opted for Celebrity's "Select Dining" rather than having a fixed dining time and fixed seating assignment, and we found it worked quite well. Being able to eat when we wanted was very convenient, and allowed us to select the time that best worked relative to shows or other activities that we wished to see. We never had to wait for a table, and although the tables are relatively close together, it afforded us the opportunity to meet some very nice people while also avoiding the situation, which has sometimes occurred, of being seated for the whole cruise at a table with people with whom you have nothing in common. Also, over time Celebrity has cut back on the selections available in the main dining room, and we found that on some nights where there was nothing that compelling on the main menu we enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere of the buffet in the Ocean View Cafe. Food quality was uniformly good in the main dining room and the Ocean View Cafe. We also tried three of the premium restaurants -- Silk Harvest (Asian fusion--nothing particularly impressive), Murano (continental--limited menu but excellent quality and superb service), and Tuscan Grill (Italian/steak house--good amount of choices, also with excellent quality and service). We found the entertainment on this cruise to be somewhat better than on other Celebrity cruises we have taken in the last couple of years. There was a good variety of singers, comedians, and production shows. We particularly enjoyed Ivan Rutherford, who for many years was in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, and Nikki Barrett, an Australian singer. The singers, dancers and band really put their all into the production shows. Although we enjoyed some of the shows more than others, we never for a moment felt that any of the cast were putting less than 100% into their efforts, even though by this point (they were all near the end of their tours) they must have done these shows any number of times. The only entertainer we were a little put off by was a juggler who, although quite talented, made a number of comments we thought were a bit too edgy for an audience that included some (although granted not a lot) of children. Special mention goes to one of the bands, Jeam Beam, who we thought did an excellent job with every genre of rock, pop and contemporary music. Service was exemplary. We don't know how they do it day in and day out, but one thing we have found on every Celebrity cruise we have taken is that to a person, the crew is friendly, cheerful, and anxious to please. Being a re-positioning cruise, there were lots of sea days, but we never felt bored or as if we were going through the same routine day after day. There were a variety of activities to keep us busy, and plenty of time to just sit, relax, and read if that's all we wanted to do for the moment. We enjoyed all the ports of call and the shore excursions we did, although Papeete on Tahiti was something of a disappointment--a bit grungy around the edges. Bora Bora and Moorea were excellent, and we highly recommend the Aqua Safari on Bora Bora--you put on a diving helmet into which air is pumped under pressure so it keeps the water out, and you can walk on the sea bed 15 feet below the surface, surrounded by hordes of tropical fish. A truly memorable experience! Moorea was scenically magical--very reminiscent of Bali Hai in South Pacific. For some reason, it has been dropped from next year's itinerary for this cruise, however. Would we do this cruise again? In a heartbeat! It was one of the best we've ever done. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We had traveled on this ship last year in Alaska in a small suite. We felt like we were treated like royalty. This trip was a transpacific with many days at sea,so we took a Royal Suite. The room was very comfortable and the butler and ... Read More
We had traveled on this ship last year in Alaska in a small suite. We felt like we were treated like royalty. This trip was a transpacific with many days at sea,so we took a Royal Suite. The room was very comfortable and the butler and concierge were outstanding. The ship is going into refurbishment and it needs it. Carpet is worn and paint is peeling. We had the feeling that the ship was shorthanded. We mostly ate in the Luminae restaurant. This is where we saw fewer servers than last year.The shower was small but very nice. The room was clean and comfortable and while the closet was small,there was ample drawer and cabinet space. Having been to Sitka before, there were no excursions that interested us. We did a ship excursion in Otaru, but did not get much out of it. We thought the entertainment was mediocre at best. WiFi was better than expected on a transpacific with so many days at sea. I would travel with this ship again after the refurbishment. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We took the Celebrity Millennium on a 15 day trans-Pacific trip from Vancouver to Tokyo. It was a trip we were anxiously anticipating since the ship was scheduled initially to go to Dutch Harbor in the Alueutian Islands, a port we would ... Read More
We took the Celebrity Millennium on a 15 day trans-Pacific trip from Vancouver to Tokyo. It was a trip we were anxiously anticipating since the ship was scheduled initially to go to Dutch Harbor in the Alueutian Islands, a port we would never visit otherwise. Six months ago, Celebrity cancelled the port and substituted Sitka. We were never notified of the change nor were our traveling companions who had booked directly with the cruise line. When we discovered the intinerary change, I called to ask why this was done and why we weren’t notified. Basically we were told that it had something to do with Chinese immigration...yes, that’s right...Chinese immigration even though the last time I looked, Dutch Harbor was in the United States. In truth, the person I was talking with was reading from a paper and couldn’t answer any questions. He said that it was the responsibility of our travel agency to inform us of the itinerary change. I called American Express and they had no record of any changes and, as I indicated, our friends who booked directly with Celebrity were not informed either. The “customer service” represented basically told me my only option was to cancel the cruise. Nice. We boarded the ship in Vancouver and the check in was excellent...much better than we have had at the port on previous cruises. The ship is old and worn but it still has character and we like the small size of the ship...2,100 passengers. Captain Alex is awesome. He is quite a personality and just a lot of fun. He is also visiable around the ship which is nice. Overall, the service on the ship was good and the staff was accommodating even though it is a stressful voyage for them with 8 consecuative days at sea. Sitka is a nice port...no complaints about that other than it wasn’t Dutch Harbor. On the first night of the trip, we were eating in a speciality restaurant when the power went out throughout the ship. This was three hours into the voyage. The generates came on with emergency power and I guess the problem was resolved in about 60 minutes. A disturbing way to start a trip when you are crossing the Pacific Ocean. The cabin was fine...we had an eight deck concierge class room with the option of a bottle of champagne every day. The beds are average. Princess is doing a much better job now with their new beds in all staterooms. Lots of rust on the ship but it is going into a major dry dock in 2019. The buffet lunch was average at best. It was always over crowded and guests would sit at tables for hours playing cards and drinking coffee. You could not get a table until after 2 PM for lunch. There is little effort to encourage guests to eat and then vacate tables. They finally put out tent cards with that except they were only in English and they needed to be in at least two other languages. Food was mediocre. The main dining room was better. The service was very good; food just ok but that is not the waiters fault. The gym was absolutely terrible. You could not get a treadmill at any time of the day or night. People would monopolize the machines for hours despite people waiting. It was so bad that security had to be called at least two times that we know of to prevent fights from breaking out. We finally gave up on the gym after a week...it wasn’t worth the hassles or the frustrations. They don’t have enough equipment, the room is too small, and they need to get rid of the paid exercise classes to accommodate passengers who want to work out. The excursions on the ship in Japan were not worth the expense. They mostly consisted of being transported to a certain area and given free time to explore on your own. The Japanese hosts were lovely people but there wasn’t a whole lot to the tours. It seems that the trend in cruise lines is now to de-emphasize service and to find more “revenue enhancement” activities to make more money. That is not a good policy for elite passengers who travel a lot. The evening cocktail party for elites has been reduced in hours and there is now a three drink maximum during that time. Yes, you can use your cruise card at other bars between 5 and 7 PM but the purpose of the party is to visit with other passengers. Overall, it was an ok cruise but, in truth, a bit of a disappointment. We have been looking more at Princess lately and have some pretty good sailings with them. Maybe it is time to switch once and for all? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
When I was looking for a cruise, I was excited to see that the Celebrity Millennium was rated a 5. Previously, I had been on 4.5 rated ships which I thought were fine ships so, I thought the Millennium would be exceptional. I was wrong! ... Read More
When I was looking for a cruise, I was excited to see that the Celebrity Millennium was rated a 5. Previously, I had been on 4.5 rated ships which I thought were fine ships so, I thought the Millennium would be exceptional. I was wrong! Overall, I don’t think the Millennium quite measured up to the other ships. I don’t mean that it is a bad ship. it isn’t. It wouldn’t be my first choice but I would take it again. My cabin was better than I had on any of the other ships in the same category. The entertainment, except for the library, was at least as good. The food was slightly below the quality I’ve had on other ships but always equal or above what I’d expect at a good coffee shop. The service was a slight bit below that on other ships I’ve been on but I feel that was management’s fault, not the actual staff that provided the service. To me, service is the complete service package, not just that provided by the actual servers. Millennium management seems to have the idea that to increase profits they can increase the service charge and lower the size of the staff. (It’s called a gratuity but in actuality it is a charge added on to the bill.) I don't mind paying a gratuity and I can't suggest a solution that would insure an adequate gratuity for good service but I don't feel the service charge system on the Millennium insured good service. There were staff members who I thought deserved something extra but as the overall service charge was already over twenty percent of the fare, I didn't give them any extra. It seems that there may be too few staff members to maintain the highest quality or that the training of staff is lacking attention to detail. For example, an inspection of the cafeteria will reveal several instances of neglect: pastries that have been maimed by passengers, food trays with only one or two items left in disarray within them. Unmanned stations. Food trays that are almost impossible to reach. These are all parts of the service I have come to expect on a cruise ship based on my experience with other lines. Examples of what I consider less than adequate service also include the following. . Too few tables in cafeteria. At busy times it was extremely difficult to find a table. Sometimes I had to make two or more complete rounds of the restaurant to find one. This created an unpleasant competitive atmosphere among diners looking for a table. The food stations used for clearing tables in the cafe are in full view. Food scraps in full view are very unappetizing! There were receptacles for teaspoons near coffee stations for both clean and dirty spoons. These could be easily confused and I think passengers sometimes were confused as to which was which because I got a couple of “clean” ones that were were wet and sticky. I also got a napkin wrapped knife that was covered in brown stuff. Coffee stations were often out of coffee (brewing) and usually the coffee was only warm. Pastry area was often a mess - mangled cakes, helter-skelter smaller items. Roast beef and pork were usually somewhat dry and tough. Had Kobe meatloaf that was extremely salty. I had lobster one night which was very good but most of the other food was fairly average.. Waiting time to get into the more formal restaurant always over 15 minutes. Sometimes seemed that there were empty tables. Perhaps this is because there is not enough staff to accommodate the number of passengers. Many of the single party deuces were separated by less than five inches - too close together. The physical menu was lackluster (one page of drinks for sale, the other the menu) which, to me, made the menu offerings less than exciting. I think that when one comes to eat, the food should be the first thing one sees on the menu. The wine list is comprised of mostly overly expensive wines. Limited information is provided about which restaurants are specialty restaurants and their costs and which restaurants were for the lower class passengers and which for the two higher classes of passengers - a rather elitist boat. The Library on the Millennium was an extreme disappointment to me. Based on my experience on other ships, I was expecting to be able to find a variety of reading material. This ships library lacks any reference books and the reading material consists of limited selection of novels and a few non fiction books. I didn’t count them but I estimate the library had fewer than one hundred books, non of which I found of interest. Had I known, I would have brought my own materials. Very disappointing to me. Others might not find it so. One of the worse things about this cruise, however, was Toluene (lacquer) smell which covered over several floors for several days. It gave me a headache. I know ships must perform this sort of maintenance while cruising but there are exhaust systems available to direct the fumes to the outside. I wonder too if the fumes are as volatile as they smell and if so if they represented a fire danger. Surely the fumes represented a danger to the workers if they were not wearing proper safety respirators. Coffee, tea and water were the only sugar free drinks. The singing and dancing ensemble is excellent as was Salvatore and the female singer/pianist. The rest were so-so. Both speakers on the lecture series were outstanding although the fellow was a little difficult to understand at times. But then, my hearing is a little wonky too. Because of a typhoon, we missed a port on the itinerary. I understand and appreciate the concern for safety. I think the Captain would have gained some good will if he had given some small token to make up missing a port. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We had long wanted to experience a longer time at sea on a repositioning cruise, and also to visit Japan, so this cruise killed two birds with one stone. I had read the CC reviews about the age of the Milennium, but some peeling paint ... Read More
We had long wanted to experience a longer time at sea on a repositioning cruise, and also to visit Japan, so this cruise killed two birds with one stone. I had read the CC reviews about the age of the Milennium, but some peeling paint etc just adds character to a ship and didn't concern us. However, we had two cabin issues that probably linked to the age of the ship and these were an unpleasant surprise. Firstly, our balcony cabin had an adjoining cabin door and the noise insulation was really terrible. You could hear the couple next door talking and I am sure they could hear us. Guest Services said there wasn't much they could do about this except get the cabin attendant to turn down the volume on the TV to minimum. (I had spent hours on the first night listening to what turned out to be the ping ping music of the Celebrity TV Channel that the attendant had turned on to welcome the other couple back to their room.) The second issue was the mattress which was ancient and caused me to have bad back ache. It took me a week to isolate this as the cause and Guest Services were really helpful. They arranged for the senior housekeeper to inspect and confirm the same day, and then they replaced with a brand new and mercifully comfortable mattress. Embarkation was smooth except we hadn't realised that we needed a USA visa as well as a Canadian visa- I knew that Sitka was in USA but, in my mind, we were travelling from Canada to Japan. There were a lot of other passengers in the queue for emergency USA visas and one Chinese couple were unable to get their visa for 3 days so they lost their cruise- terrible for them. We had travelled on several Solstice class ships and didn't feel that the Milennium design was massively different- the buffet was much better designed on the later ships and I am sure they will correct this during the January re-fit. Food in the Main Dining Room was generally great. Entertainment was also much better than I had expected- I had thought that Celebrity would cut corners on a repositioning cruise but I saw no signs of that. We went to the main shows and the talks by a naturalist. We also tried the talks on Japan but the lectures were poorly structured, and I don't think the lecturer knew that much about Japan. A shame really as Japan is so different from most other countries and a really fascinating culture- Celebrity should aim to improve this aspect I feel. Service was pretty impeccable- Celebrity staff manages to deliver a top class experience every time we go on a cruise, and this really adds greatly to our enjoyment. It was a bit chilly and rainy on the cruise, so no one wanted to use the swimming pool, with the result that other areas of the ship became pretty crowded at times. Especially, the gym in the morning, though it was fine in the afternoon. We enjoyed ourselves in the ports, doing our own thing. Japan is so well organised for transport, and everyone seems so helpful and honest, that it was far easier to travel on our own than we had expected. Eating in Japanese restaurants is great fun! We missed the last port due to a typhoon but had an extra day in Yokohama on board ship, and that worked our very well. We traveled to Tokyo by train using the free shuttle at Yokohama. I was really worried about our quantity of luggage as we had four suitcases and two small bags, but it was a Sunday and the Yokohama train station they use is for the normal train rather than the bullet train, and these have far more luggage and were not crowded either. I was annoyed that the Celebrity (paid) shuttle to Tokyo was not included within shore excursions but rather in Guest Services, and I only found out about it by chance 5 days before the end of the cruise, by which time it was booked out. In the end, the train worked much better for us, as our hotel was next to Tokyo station, whereas the Celebrity shuttle would have needed a 30 minute taxi ride to the hotel. After the cruise, we had a few days in Kyoto. We used the Japan Tourist offer of a hotel and bullet train tickets and this was both good value and a great service. The main sites in Kyoto are very crowded but there are lots of minor temples and other sites that are simply lovely. We hired a guide and that was a great investment. We must have fired 500 questions at her over the course of the day and she was so articulate in explaining how and why Japanese people think the way that they do. (Her employer is Chris Roworth Guides). This review sounds a bit negative, but we had a great time and felt that the cruise was a great way to get a sense of the distance to Japan, and was great value for money. I brought two crates of sparkling water on board as the cost of the drinks package would otherwise have negated the value for money side of things! We also used the internet very sparingly. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I had been to Vancouver last year to visit my son- what a great place to start a cruise! Diverse city with loads of things to do and places to see! Granville Island, Stanley Park, Gastown to name a few. We ( a friend from school and me, ... Read More
I had been to Vancouver last year to visit my son- what a great place to start a cruise! Diverse city with loads of things to do and places to see! Granville Island, Stanley Park, Gastown to name a few. We ( a friend from school and me, both in our 60’s) were here for a few days before the cruise started and would love to have spent a few more. The embarkation ran smoothly, quickly and easily. Couldn’t have been better. Everyone involved was helpful and pleasant. The Millenium -All public areas and cabin were kept spotlessly clean and tidy although the fittings and fixtures are a bit tired. Refit due next year I believe. We were in aqua class so we had a balcony which, although we didn’t use often, was a great bonus. We had a few issues with the cabin: the aircon didn’t work, the shower drain was blocked on arrival so it had a musty smell, the water didn’t drain well in the shower so the second person in had to paddle and my friend’s bed had a torn sheet. Those were the negatives. However, most were dealt with really quickly( aircon, sheet, blocked drain) and efficiently. The shower drain remained a problem. To “make up” for this we were given an option to dine in one of the speciality restaurants for a night. . Qsine= confused and confusing- strange mix. Blue= great food, service at times dreadful! 40 mins to get breakfast? Improved as time passed. Sommelier brilliant, maitre de tried his best. Main restaurant very good with lots of choice although was surprised it closed at 1. I do realise they needed to start prep for dinner and give the staff some time off but with all the activities it was difficult sometimes to fit food in! The terrace cafe’s range of food was amazing and tasty although seating on sea days will always be a problem. I was a bit worried about the 8 days at sea but I needn't have worried....so much to do, people to meet, food to eat, lectures, shows, shopping and so much more! Entertainment mixed bag- some superb, some dreadful. The show by the celebrity cast was brilliant. The artists who performed around the ship were also excellent. Activities- art class, unexpected and enjoyable although too big a class to learn a lot. Lectures by Celia Garland on wildlife were absolutely brilliant! Get her back! What a joy to listen to her! Quizzes were fun! There were plenty of other things to choose from eg bridge, salsa, basket ball, ping pong or keep fit, massage etc Got to put a bit in here re shops. Beautiful merchandise, great prices but....please, please be aware of the amounts of duty free you are allowed to take back to your country before you are tempted to buy expensive items on board. Service with a smile sums this area up! Attentive without being overbearing. The guys in the cocktail bar were incredible! Captain Alex was good fun and informative. The folk who manned cafe al baccio were also great. In fact all the staff worked so hard but managed to keep a smile on their face...even at 6 in the morning! Ports were great with lots to do and see. Alaska was amazing. Sapporo had a food festival going on(in honour of samna, a local fish) market food stalls in abundance..what a choice! We didn’t need lunch that day as the stall holders were desperate for us to try their wares and we obliged...it would have been rude not to.We missed Shimizu due to typhoon Trami but we had an extra night in Tokyo. Since we had a trip booked to see Mt Fuji we exchanged this and visited Kamakura instead which proved to be amazing...we would never have seen the giant Buddha otherwise. Most of the excursions we booked(whale watching in Alaska(not to be missed!) were very well planned and executed. The Otaru trip was a huge disappointment! Ok, it was raining but the “ nature walk” round a park was overpriced and quite frankly boring! The best bits were tasting a locally grown apple and losing someone who had nipped into a shop. Honestly the worst celebrity excursion I’ve been on! We would have been better exploring the local port town! It sounded far more exciting! We ended in Tokyo and were lucky enough to stay a couple of extra days. The transfer to our hotel was dreadful. It took over two hours(others in a taxi took 20 mins), because we had to stop at a number of hotels. We rode up the same street 3 times. However Tokyo is an amazing city...not enough time. The people are exceptionally polite, most speak some English( for those of us who don’t speak Japanese) and all are very helpful! The toilets? Well, you’ve heard the stories. In the hotel we were in the seats were warmed and there were various buttons to press for various “treats”. There was also what we referred to as a panic button.....just in case you got overwhelmed with the choice available. We did come across a couple of old style ones on our travels which proved a source of much hilarity. I’m going to miss that heated seat in our cold Scottish winter! Shopping opportunities abound and food available to suit all tastes and pockets. Would I do it all again? Absolutely!!! In a minute!!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise for itinerary & price, and to visit my sister in Otaru. Embarkation was very smooth. Cabin (8129) was OK, but was showing its age. TV was an old LCD with a "fuzzy" picture. Our cabin's ... Read More
We chose this cruise for itinerary & price, and to visit my sister in Otaru. Embarkation was very smooth. Cabin (8129) was OK, but was showing its age. TV was an old LCD with a "fuzzy" picture. Our cabin's housekeeper always greeted us and took care of our needs. Cabin was kept clean & lines fresh. We purchased soda package. Limited selection of diet sodas, but good enough. They don't stock bitter lemon! Why? Servers made sure that were never "dry" on sodas. We spent most of our free time in coffee lounge. Staff members there were wonderful and cookies fresh. Captain Alex could be counted on to keep us informed of cruise progress & issues. His jokes were deliberately "corny." Fun hearing from him. Fellow passengers were very friendly and were very interested in other travel experiences. Some children on cruise, but they were well behaved & courteous. Okay, about the food. Breakfast in dining room was very good. Omlets were made to order and were served hot. Breads & pastrys were exceptional. Lunch & dinners were a bit disappointing. Limited menu selections. Buffet was mostly average or worse. Some individual items were good(pepperoni pizza. salads, and rice), but scrambled eggs were too "wet," and chicken pie was wretched. It was like somebody put a bunch of leftovers in a blender and turned it in to a glop filling. Hamburgers & hotdogs at pool grill were very good. We only purchased the Tokyo Tour/Airport Transfer excursion. I called Celebrity before signing up for excursion to confirm that my wife could stay on bus during stops. She had back surgery 12 weeks ago & can't walk far or fast. Celebrity rep assured us that she could stay on bus. We took the excursion. Just before arriving at first stop, guide informed us that all had to leave bus for that stop. We all need to walk quickly to keep up. My wife gave up after 2 blocks. We dropped out of group and waited for bus to return an hour later. Guide was very apologetic, but it was Celebrity that misled us. Typhoon caused us to be stranded overnight in Narita Airport. Not Celebrity's fault. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We found some of the Cruise to be very good. However there were other areas that I felt were less than satisfactory. Activities (on board) were good but very repetitive particularly as we were on board for 8/9 consecutive days. The ... Read More
We found some of the Cruise to be very good. However there were other areas that I felt were less than satisfactory. Activities (on board) were good but very repetitive particularly as we were on board for 8/9 consecutive days. The cabin service was less than satisfactory. On some occassions, our room was not cleaned until after mid-day. The Cabin Attendant did not build any sort of rapport with us and we rarely made contact with him. Shore excursions were, as usual, expensive and unimaginative. Unfortunatley the weather on the Japan tours did little to improve the experience. The dinining each evening was excellent. Our waiter , Basheer and Assistant Suthasine were extremely curtious and very friendly. They should be complemented by Celebrity. Disembarkation included a tour of Tokyo and set down at the airport. My main criticism of this is that our flight was at 10.00pm and we were left at the airport at 3.00pm! Most unsatisfactory and something Celebrity should address. I normally pre-book the drinks package but on this occassion I purchased the standard package at the beginning of the cruise. I was advised of a price by your staff of $675. Much to my surprise, I was charged an additional $121.50 gratuities! despite notifying customer relations at the beginning of the cruise that I did not want gratuities added to my invoice!! Read Less
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