1) Background Info
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and timing as this was a major-milestone birthday celebration.
2) Travel to Port / Embarkation
"Our flight out of our originating city was delayed so we missed our ... Read More
1) Background Info
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and timing as this was a major-milestone birthday celebration.
2) Travel to Port / Embarkation
"Our flight out of our originating city was delayed so we missed our connecting flight. We had pre-arranged and pre-paid for an airport transfer to the cruise port through Celebrity. Since we arrived so late, we missed the last transfer. Therefore, we needed to exchange money to local currency at the airport and take a taxi to the cruise port. That process was easily done and our cab driver did a great job getting us to the cruise port in a very timely manner.
We arrived at the cruise port at approximately 11:00 p.m. the evening of the first Hong Kong day. There was virtually no one around the cruise port. The gangway was open 24 hrs and there were folks there to check us in with no problems. Again, since it was so late, we had to take our own luggage through the cruise port and to our cabin (no porters this time of night). The cruise port is quite large, so it was a long trek working our way through the port and finally to our cabin.
Since we did miss the airport transfer (which we pre-paid to Celebrity) and had to pay for a taxi ride to port upon our arrival, I notified the front desk of our situation. She verified that we did indeed not use our transfer so she refunded our money for the pre-paid airport transfer. I'm not sure if we were refunded the money because we had booked Celebrity Air and they could see that we missed our connection - hence the missed airport transfer. In any event, I was pleasantly surprised and happy to receive the refund hassle-free."
3) Muster Drill (General Emergency Drill)
The Muster Drill (or General Emergency Drill) for our cruise was actually done on the second day we were in Hong Kong. The drill was as follows: All Aboard on Sun. 12/8/19 at 5:00 p.m., Muster Drill at 7:30 p.m. and Departure at 8:00 p.m. So no need to worry about missing Drill on day one since it is held on day two.
The drill was not held outside and life vests were not required. We just needed to meet at our Assembly Station as indicated on our stateroom door - which is also listed on the SeaPass cards.
4) Ship Information
"The Millennium was recently refurbished, and we were quite pleased with the facelift.
The décor was bright and airy and the ship never felt crowded. We could always manage to find space to ourselves somewhere on the ship.
We liked the outdoor rooftop movie area. However, during the day it was quite hot there. Later in the day on beautiful days it can be quite lovely.
I would like to see more hand sanitizer stations set up around the ship, especially in the back of the Oceanview Cafe. When sitting Aft outside of the Oceanview Cafe, if you want to wash your hands, you have to walk through the Cafe again and to the front of the Cafe.
The ship had the typical activities such as pool volleyball, bean bag toss, ping pong, basketball, trivia games, etc. You could do as much or as little as you desired.
All of the employees were extremely helpful, pleasant and courteous - from our room steward, dining room waiters, Guest Relations, Shorex Desk - everyone was great to work with.
On the day of the milestone birthday, we received a bottle of champagne in our cabin from the ship. I thought that was very nice and unexpected."
7) Visas for Vietnam
There was a lot of confusion pre-cruise about obtaining a Vietnam Visa. As soon as I got on board, I asked Guest Relations if there was any paperwork that we needed to fill out for Vietnam as we did not have a Vietnam visa. She stated that as long as we weren't spending the night in Vietnam (i.e. for example spending the night in Hanoi) or we weren't leaving the country (i.e. flying over to Cambodia) there was nothing we needed to do - the ship would take care of the paperwork. Since neither of those scenarios applied to us, the ship took care of the paperwork to obtain a Vietnam landing card for us and charged our shipboard account a one-time fee of $6.00 per person. Those folks spending the night off of the ship were charged $28.00 per person - but I'm not sure what process they had to go through. I heard there were a few folks that did the Cambodia trip from our cruise, so most folks didn't spend the night off the ship in Vietnam.
8) Port & Shore Excursions
Hong Kong - We took a Celebrity Shorex via motorcoach. We took the tram to Victoria Peak for truly beautiful views of the city, visited the fishing village of Aberdeen for a sampan cruise ride and lastly visited Stanley Market. We still had some Hong Kong dollars from our taxi trip to the cruise port, so we used that for a little souvenir as US dollars aren't widely accepted.
At sail away, go to the top decks and just take in the harbor views. Everything is lit up and is really pretty. We were docked at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminals, which is the former runway of the Hong Kong airport. There is a laser light show at 8 p.m. nightly. However, it is located at the foot of the Kowloon Peninsula and is better seen from the Ocean terminal. You won't be able to see much of the laser light show from Kai Tak, but the harbor views are beautiful nonetheless."
"Hanoi / Halong Bay
Day 1 - We did an all-day Halong Bay Excursion with Authenticasia. We put down a deposit of $25 USD. Dong was our guide and did a great job. He was very knowledgeable and personable. This was a very, very enjoyable day. The weather and scenery were gorgeous and loved that we went to a part of the bay away from tourist crowds. Loved the rustic row-boat ride rowed by a local - the area was very quiet and peaceful. Lunch was delicious and there was plenty of it. There were 16 of us on the junk boat so there was plenty of room to move around. USD is widely accepted throughout Vietnam, so we paid for the tour in USD at the beginning of the tour. This tour was very well organized, the company sent very good and detailed instructions and I would highly recommend.
Day 2 - Did a Panoramic Halong Bay by bus through Celebrity Shorex. Visited Quang Ninh Museum, visited Long Tien Pagoda then stopped at Hon Gai market. Did not really care for this shorex. Although the museum was ok, the Pagoda was not really worth it and I didn't care for this market. I wouldn't recommend it.
"Hue / DaNang (Chan May)
A group we met on the cruise invited us to join their group. No deposit was required. Payment was required at beginning of the tour. The highlights of the tour included Hai Van Pass which is claimed to be the most scenic hillside roads in Vietnam, a stop at Marble Mountain and Monkey Mountain and Hoi An Old Town. The town was approximately 1.5 hours from the cruise port. The tour van was not very comfortable, and I felt very unsafe with this driver. He drove very, very fast, was always over the center yellow line, passing traffic in no-passing zones on these wet mountain roads.
I was not impressed with the tour guide either. She did not keep the group together and just didn't take command of the group. She took us to some local shops (I'm sure for commissions) keeping us there for an inordinately long amount of time until someone in the group got on her to get our tour moving.
Lunch was included in this tour but was so anemic we all left hungry. We didn't want to order add'l food as we had already spent too much time on lunch.
When talking to the guide to ensure we got back to port in time, she made a comment that it wasn't really up to her, it was up to the driver to get us back in time. That was an inappropriate comment and not reassuring.
We really enjoyed Hoi An and would have liked to spend more time there. I was so glad when this tour ended and we were safely back on ship. If I had this port to do over again, I would book the Celebrity Shorex Hoi An On Your Own where Celebrity provides transportation to/from Hoi An and you can explore the town on your own."
"Ho Chi Minh / Saigon (Phu My)
We did a Saigon Highlights Tour with Smile Tours. This too was a very enjoyable and organized tour. No deposit was required. Payment due day of tour. There were 16 of us on the tour that contacted the tour operator individually. This tour was very well organized, the company sent very good and detailed instructions. The provided bus was very comfortable, the driver was very safe, the tour guide Tam was very knowledgeable and organized. He did a good job facilitating our tour and giving us precise instructions throughout the tour. He kept the group moving and kept us on time and according to the itinerary.
We visited China Town and participated in a Trishaw ride through the hustle and bustle of the city. That was a hoot! We all loved this! We visited the Reunification Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office and City Hall. Lunch (not included) was at Pho 2000. It is a very small and busy restaurant but the food was good and we left stuffed. I would highly recommend this tour company."
We used Thai Tour Guide for a private tour of Bangkok for both days for just the two of us. No deposit was required. They did an outstanding job for our two-days. This was a very well organized tour. Tour operator Mr. Chob was great to work with in setting up the tour details prior to the cruise and provided great detail of the tour. Tour must be paid in Thai Baht at the end of each tour day. USD is not widely accepted. The van was very clean and very comfortable. Our tour guide was Ms. Pookie who was excellent at keeping us informed, comfortable and kept our needs first. She held her umbrella over me to keep the sun off of me, and would use the umbrella to shield my camera from the sun when taking pictures. The driver was "Mr. Happy" who did a great job driving safely through the hectic Bangkok traffic. They were very prompt both days in picking us up at the Laem Chabang port and again at our hotel on Day 2. We requested a change to our itinerary and they were very accommodating in our request and went out of their way to accommodate us. It was very hot and they kept plenty of water on hand and each time we visited a location and returned to the van, Mr. Happy always had clean wet towelettes for us which was much appreciated. Ms. Pookie knew all of the spots for great pictures as well as knew where to stand for pics and keeping us safe at the railway track.
The ship cleared immigration and we disembarked at 8:35 a.m. Ms. Pookie was waiting for us when we exited the cruise terminal, we were off to Bangkok at 8:40 a.m. and arrived in Bangkok at 10:55 a.m. (2 hrs 15 mins). We visited the Royal Grand Palace & Royal Temple, and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) in the morning. In the afternoon, we had a Private long tail boat canal tour (Chao Phraya River) which was really something to experience. We passed on the Flowers & Vegetable Market and instead went to Siam Paragon mall which was all high-end shops and interesting to experience. We were dropped at our hotel at 5:00 p.m. We stayed at the LeMeridien hotel which was quite lovely and elegant. Ms. Pookie and Mr. Happy were very prompt on day 2 in picking us up at the hotel at 7:00 a.m. We arrived at the Maeklong Railway market at 8:20 a.m. (which is even further from the cruise port than Bangkok). From Maeklong, we experienced the Damnern Saduak Floating Market which was very interesting to experience. Since we were so far from port and the traffic is so heavy, we headed back to port at 11:15 a.m. and arrived safely back at port at 2:40 p.m. (3.5 hours).
When staying overnight at a Bangkok hotel on your own, you must have your original passport with you or you will not be able to check in to your hotel.
One last nice touch was when we pulled into the cruise port on our return, Ms. Pookie and Mr. Happy stopped and brought out birthday cake and a candle from the back of the van and sang happy birthday to our milestone birthday. I suppose after hearing us talk about the birthday, they went out and got the cake and candle which we felt was so sweet and thoughtful.
Ms. Pookie and Mr. Happy did an outstanding job of facilitating our tour, keeping us comfortable and safe, and getting us back to port on time. I would highly recommend this company and wouldn't hesitate to use their services again if ever in Bangkok.
We booked the Celebrity Ultimate Singapore and Airport Drop-off. Water was not provided on this tour. Since it was an all day tour, it would have been nice if water had been provided since it was quite warm. Fortunately, though, we did have water on us. Lunch was not included which we felt probably should have been included for the price. We visited the Botanical Gardens, drove by Little India and colonial-style buildings, ate lunch in China Town, took a bumboat ride on the Singapore River and spent time at the Marina Bay Sands complex which was interesting to see in and of itself. Take the elevator to level 2 of the Casino to overlook the Casino floor - HUGE. Overall, a way to spend the day sightseeing instead of sitting at the airport for 10 hours.
On our last overnight stay on the ship in Singapore, from the top deck we watched the light show at the Gardens by the Bay about 7:45 p.m. If you're on the ship at that time and not out and about, you might enjoy it. Although you can see the light show, it is a little ways away.
"We were in an outside cabin on Deck 2 Forward. We were a little apprehensive initially about noise and motion due to our location on the ship. However, it was unbelievably quiet and smooth. Granted we did have smooth seas during our trip, but I still expected to hear ship noises and hear the waves pound the bow. There were numerous times throughout the cruise that I looked out the window to ensure we were still moving because it was that quiet and smooth.
Our cabin was brightly decorated with plenty of storage for us. The bathroom was very nicely done with a nice sink and shower. Liked the automatic night light in the bathroom - really helped in the middle of the night. The provided shower gel seemed watered down and we didn't really care for it. We used the hand soap in the shower as it seemed to do a better job at cleaning. The provided shampoo seemed watered down as well.
The cabin had a nice flat-screen TV in our room. However, there were times at sea (due to the location of the ship) that there was no signal. So catching the news was a hit and miss at times between Vietnam and Bangkok.
We had a great room steward who took really good care of us and helped with all of our needs.
"We liked the open concept layout of the Oceanview Café and really liked the bar seating at some of the Café windows. It gives more people a chance to sit at a window. We always went to breakfast early so we didn't have any problems with seating. Findng seats at lunch time from approx 12 noon to 1 p.m. could sometimes be challenging. I felt the service staff kept the tables cleared in a very timely manner. Lights are dimmed in several areas of the Cafe at dinner time, which I thought was a nice touch if you want more of an intimate atmosphere in the Cafe for dinner.
Although we ate most of our meals at the Oceanview Cafe, there weren't as many vegetables as I was expecting, and it seemed like a lot of the food was fried. The soups were mostly broths as opposed to hearty soups. Loved their breads in the Bakery and they had a nice selection of ice creams - sometimes offering sorbets and frozen yogurt along with the ice cream. Although I didn't eat any of the desserts, they did look really good.
Hamburgers at the Pool Grill were just ok. We've been on other cruises where the burgers at the pool were made to order. These burger patties were pre-made and the servers just put the patties/cheese on the bun. There were condiments that you could add yourself to your burger (i.e. lettuce, tomato, onion, etc). These burgers just didn't have the same flavor as made to order burgers.
We did eat at the Tuscan Grille, and my dinner was delicious. Ordered the filet with plenty of vegetables and the lobster pasta and enjoyed it immensely. The meat was very tender and cooked to perfection, and the service was excellent."
11) Dress Code / Formal Wear (Evening Chic)
"The dress code per night for our cruise was as follows:: 1=Smart Casual; 2=Smart Casual; 3=Evening Chic (day at Sea); 4=Smart Casual; 5=Smart Casual; 6=Smart Casual; 7=Evening Chic (day at Sea); 8=Smart Casual; 9=Smart Casual; 10=Smart Casual; 11=Smart Casual; 12=Evening Chic (day at Sea); 13=Smart Casual; 14=Smart Casual
Below are the dress code guidelines per Celebrity:
The Code: Celebrity's website states that you'll need two types of evening clothes for a cruise. Most nights are "Smart Casual and Above," meaning sport shirts and slacks for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On "evening chic" nights, both men and women may prefer more dressy attire, though it is not required. Nor are jackets and ties required for men.
Number of Evening Chic nights: Cruises of four to six nights have one evening chic night, those of seven- to 11-night cruises have two, and those with 12 or more nights have three.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, tank tops, caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed during evening hours. As long as jeans don't have holes, rips or tears, they are permitted in the main dining room.
The entertainment was average. There wasn't really any one performance that wowed us. But we do appreciate the effort put forth to provide the entertainment.
"We took an all day Singapore tour with airport drop-off Shorex through Celebrity. We got our envelope with disembarkation instructions a couple of days prior to disembarkation. The envelope had a letter with disembarkation instructions but did not include our tickets. I went to Guest Relations right away (since the Shorex Desk wasn't open at that time) and they provided me with tickets with no issues. I'm just glad I caught this prior to disembarkation so that we wouldn't have any potential issues and/or delays at disembarkation.
Day of disembarkation went smooth and we had no issues. We found our luggage in the terminal immediately and got to our assigned bus in plenty of time. "
Overall, we had a safe and fun cruise. Everything turned out great and we had a very enjoyable journey with many amazing memories. Read Less