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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.

Millennium - Western Mediterranean

Celebrity Millennium Cruise Review by Kitty

Trip Details
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.
Kitty’s Full Rating Summary
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