Disappointed with Celebrity but Fabulous Itinerary: Celebrity Millennium Cruise Review by mariners

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Disappointed with Celebrity but Fabulous Itinerary

Sail Date: April 2014
Destination: Asia
Embarkation: Hong Kong
Thanks to posters on Cruise Critic, we found out that embarkation in Hong Kong was delayed as the ship required deep cleaning. This was because some passengers on the previous cruise had Norovirus. It should be noted that despite booking directly with Celebrity, we did not receive an e-mail from them informing us of this delay. I suggest that passengers check Cruise Critic and the roll call for your cruise before you leave for the port.

We arrived at the port around 2:30 p.m. and, although it was fairly busy, the line moved quite quickly. However, there was paperwork to be completed for both China and Japan before we could go through security. Initially, this was easy to fill out as there were many seats with tables in the waiting area. Shortly after we began to fill out the forms, an alarm went off. All waiting passengers were told to go through security and not to panic. Once we cleared security, there was not enough counter space and/or chairs for more than a few people More and this made filling out the forms more difficult. After the forms were filled out, we quickly finished the rest of the formalities and boarded the ship. Our cabins were ready so we went directly to the cabins.

As I had read the reviews on Cruise Critic, I was ready for the older ship. If one did not look too closely, most of the public areas appeared to be in fairly good shape. Our cabin was not. The balcony windows were encrusted with salt and rust. The windows themselves were quite dirty. The balcony was in poor shape with rust, damaged flooring, and furniture that was salt encrusted and dirty. Inside the cabin, the carpet along the balcony needed to be replaced. The sink in our bathroom barely drained and could not be fixed. The Millennium is definitely ready for drydock.

Our grandchildren’s adjoining cabin was in better shape. The only issues were the closet door that had a broken hinge and the bathroom door that had to be slammed shut or it would not stay closed.

Because of the Norovirus, additional cleaning took place throughout our cruise. Crew were constantly cleaning hand rails, door handles, and most surfaces that people would touch. Sometimes, that meant that surfaces, especially door handles to the cabins, were wet which had some passengers complaining loudly. In my opinion, Celebrity made every effort possible to reduce the chance of passengers getting the Norovirus. To this end, everything in the Oceanview Café had to be served to the passengers and that included drinks, and condiments. At busy times, it was extremely difficult to find a table and some of the passengers were extremely rude to both crew and to other passengers. It made for an unpleasant dining experience. As a result, we typically ate either at the Pool Grill or in the MDR when we were onboard for lunch.

Quite a few other passengers must have agreed with us as the Pool Grill was fairly busy. Although the food was very good, the grill was understaffed. The chef not only cooked; he also served all of the condiments. Staffing might not be an issue on cruises that do not have extra precautions in place, but the chef needed more help on our cruise. Drink service was non-existent.

Something that I had not experienced on Celebrity before was a sign outside Oceanview Café requesting that guests not take food outside the café. As there were no salads outside, I usually went and got a salad and took it outside. No crew member or staff ever said anything to me.

The food in the MDR was much better at lunch than at dinner. Both lunches we ate in the restaurant were very good. However, the service was not .

In the evening, the service from our wait staff, Putu and Serdal, was superb and they were the reason we ate dinner in the MDR. The food was usually mediocre, but they made the dining experience enjoyable. I highly recommend that anyone, but especially those who are travelling with children, ask to be seated in their section.

We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants with the exception of Bistro on Five where the service was very good, but the food was also mediocre. We were also charged for wine as the cards were not swiped until the end of the meal and it took multiple trips to Guest Services to get this corrected. It would appear that the computer thinks that you are abusing your drink card when you are billed for all of the drinks at one time and, therefore, charges you for all of the drinks.

Before this issue occurred, I had already spent hours at Guest Services. Our printed documents showed our perks, but, somehow, they were not in the Celebrity system. I had to take the documents to guest services where they photocopied them and sent them to Miami. Until approval was given by head office, we were charged for all drinks including water. The only water we could buy onboard was Evian and that was not included in the Classic package. Despite us trying to make arrangements that would allow us to have water that was included in the Classic package, it was not allowed.

After Celebrity onshore personnel informed Guest Services that we did indeed have the package, the drinks, with the exception of the water, were credited to our account. It took multiple trips to get the water sorted out. Thank you to Judith for helping us resolve the issue.

One issue was never resolved. Our grandchildren did not receive their onboard credit. As all of us signed up for the perk at the same time, and our invoices were dated the same date. It made no sense to either Guest Services or us that Miami refused to provide the credit. Miami was adamant that the children had booked their cabin four months before the rest of us. No wonder their website is such as mess!

On a positive note, we took three Celebrity excursions, and two of them were fabulous. In Taipei, we took the Half Day Chiefun Village Tour. The scenery was gorgeous. The tea was a unique experience because of both the location and the snacks. The dried mushrooms were a big hit as was the tea house. The only way it could have been better would have been if we had more time to explore the village. Our tour guide was excellent.

We also had a terrific tour in Jeju where we took the Jungmund Full Day Tour. The island is spectacular and it was easy to see why so many people like to vacation on the island. Once again, out guide was excellent. There are many sites that we did not get to see and I would happily sail on a ship that has Jeju as an overnight port.

The third tour we took through Celebrity was in Busan. Our guide spent most of his time distressed and worried that someone would get lost. We had a passenger who decided she was going to shop at the fish market. Instead of getting the tour that we should have, our time was spent waiting for our guide. He spent his time searching for the shopper. This was not fun for those of us waiting. However, Busan was a great port to visit.

Nagasaki we did on our own and found it easy to find our way around. This is another port where one has to pick and choose what to see as there are more sites than can be visited in a day. One of the surprise highlights was the farewell from students playing in a band and the other citizens who came to wave good-bye. It was very special.

We spent two nights off the ship at Raffles Beijing that we booked independently. We set up a private tour for the two days of Beijing and the surrounding area with Jessie Di (toursbyjessie). This was definitely a highlight of our trip. Jessie was outstanding! She has a passion for Beijing and as well as being a tour guide. Her knowledge of both past and present history is excellent. Her animated discussions kept all of us engaged and wanting to learn more. We left Beijing feeling like we were leaving a friend who had just shown us the best of her city.

On a negative note, Tianjin (Beijing) was the first port where we had issues with being able to leave the ship. We were told that disembarkation was delayed and that there would be an announcement once the ship had cleared. We decided to wait sitting on the chairs outside the Destination Concierge on Deck 3. Before any announcement was made, we saw groups of people with overnight bags leaving the ship. The people had Celebrity tour stickers on them. I went and asked if the ship had been cleared and was told that it had not. Then, more groups of people with Celebrity tour stickers on them left the ship. We went over to the stairwell and were lined up with other individuals who had independent tours. Shortly after that, we were allowed off the ship. It would not have been an issue if Celebrity personnel and/or information had told us that we would not be able to leave the ship until after specific Celebrity tours left. It would not have been an issue if pre-cruise information explained that individuals on private tours would not be able to disembark until a specific time. Hopefully, someone from Celebrity will read this and my comment card and ensure that accurate information is provided in the future.

The second time that we had an issue with disembarkation was at the end of our cruise in Baoshan (Shanghai). At least this time when I asked if there was going to be a long delay, I was told the truth and could telephone my guide so that she would know that we were delayed.

The itinerary was fantastic and we were all thrilled that we had the opportunity to take this trip. Despite all of the issues with Celebrity, we had a marvelous time. We won’t, however, be booking another Celebrity cruise until we are sure that we are not going to have the same issues. I hope that Celebrity will step up to the plate. Less

Published 05/13/14
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