We returned from our 2 week cruise on the Celebrity Millennium Monday 10/30/16. This review is posted in hopes that it can help others avoid similar miserable experiences. Unfortunately we did not look at Cruise Critic reviews before going on this cruise. If we had we would have seen that for the last two years there are many reviews about the Millennium noting the same problems we experience. This leads me to the conclusion that Celebrity is budgeting the operations of this ship at a very low level; the problems are not going to be fixed as they’re not actually problems …. they are the business plan which the company executes perfectly.
• Boarding experience: okay
• Once one steps on board there is immediate pressure to buy drink packages and specialty restaurant packages. One is approached over and over by different staff members offering the same thing …. It’s much like the unpleasant hawking that goes on in an Indian bazaar. In addition, you are approached numerous times asking if you want to purchase soft drinks or bottled water.
• 10th Floor Buffet Dining: some days the food is mediocre, other days it is terrible. Even when the food is tolerable the buffet is way over-crowded. People are reaching in front of one another to serve themselves. Serving spoons are mixed up so a spoon that is for one dish ends up with food on it from another dish. Some are grabbing food with their hands others are eating in line. It is disgusting and unsanitary. On other recent cruises (Oceania and Disney) the guests are served by staff at the buffet. Much more sanitary. The foods offered at this (Celebrity) buffet are relatively cheap; narrow selection and in many cases previously frozen, tasteless and unappetizing. Very few, if any, fresh vegetables. Mostly cheap carbs, which is very difficult for anyone on a low sugar, low-carb diet. With the exception of the ice cream area, desserts in the dessert area are not labeled sugar free or no sugar added even when that designation is applicable. We suggested to the person in charge, more than once, that labeling should be done; he agreed, but it never happened – you had to ask each time. Big supply of pork dishes. There is a shortage of places to sit. One of us would hold a table while the other assembled their meal in the buffet lines …. although we were seated at the same table we weren’t really eating together. After the first day or two we began to dread going to the buffet as it was such an unappetizing, unpleasant experience. Wait-staff is focused on what they can sell you, liquor, etc. If you ask for something that’s free, like ice-tea, they tell you to get it yourself.
• Metropolitan Dining Room: service is good but the food isn’t. Menu selection is highly repetitive. The daily menu contains three items that one can pay extra for (lobster, fish, steak). Fish and steak are also offered at no extra charge but the extra is required if you want something that is of tolerable quality. That there is extra charge for better food pretty much says it all: that the regularly offered food is not good. Fish smells and tastes fishy; meats are fat or tough; usually no side orders of fresh vegetables offered, or when offered, in tiny amounts. The dining experience is focused on upselling you to the items that cost extra (but who would trust them when the other food is so bad?) One evening the waiter even said to us that he would not recommend we order either the chicken or beef as it was “of such low quality”. The only option left was fish. My wife ordered salmon. It was undercooked and had the fishy smell and after-taste of all the fish they serve. It was inedible. We often ended up just stuffing ourselves with bread in order not to leave hungry. One morning I requested some half-n-half to put on my breakfast cereal. I was told that there wasn’t any. I pointed out that there was plenty on each table to put in coffee. Waiter checked with his boss and was told there wasn’t any more. I told him I didn’t believe it and wanted to see his boss. Then, and only then, was I allowed to have some additional half-n-half.
• Specialty restaurants: these are okay, but only okay, not really good. And, one shouldn’t have to pay extra $35 per person per meal to get food that’s just okay.
• Port information: the company does not circulate maps or port information other than lectures about the tours they sell for each port. Most ships give one a map and port information before arrival so that you know how to get around. Not this ship. They give almost no information which appears to be a purposeful method of forcing people to book their tours.
• Library: the two floor tall library has mostly bare shelves …. Most of the books have been removed. Very, very disappointing as we like to read onboard. It appears that since the library is not a revenue generator, Celebrity has removed most of it.
• On board movies: there were only two or three movies offered on the big screen during the entire 14 day voyage. Instead, each day two free movies are offered on the TV. These are junk movies that teenagers might like although there are almost no teenagers onboard. There is a good selection of pay-per-view movies. Once again, Celebrity has found a way to get the customer to pay for something (movies in this case) which should have been included at no charge.
• Stateroom: although we were concierge class, our stateroom was the smallest that I can remember, however it was adequate. What wasn’t adequate were the electrical outlets: there were only two in the entire stateroom; none in the bathroom. Items like electric razor or toothbrush had to be charged in the two outlets by the desk while alternating with mobile phones; computer, etc. The outlets are on the opposite side of the room from the bed which meant that to power the CPAP machine that I use when sleeping, an extension cord had to be run across the floor … we hoped not to trip on it when we got up in the middle of the night. Stateroom attendant was good; cheerful and conscientious, however out on our balcony the paint was peeling off metal surfaces and there was corrosion all around the balcony door. This is true for other parts of the ship as well. Celebrity has deferred maintenance. It’s shoddy.
• Towels: the bath towels are smaller than usual --- like one would find in a Motel 6. Not easy to get dry with the small towels. Only two bath towels are provided, no extras. Obviously a money saving measure. Our shampoo and conditioner was not replenished until the day before the cruise ended.
• Concierge Class meant that we received hors d’oeuvres daily. These were usually about 6 peanuts; a handful of stale chips and some kind of tasteless dip. Basically nothing you’d want to put in your mouth. Occasionally fresh fruit in the form of an apple or pear, an orange and sometimes a few grapes were provided. For most of the trip we thought the concierge was our room steward as there was no evidence of a concierge. It was towards the end of the cruise that we learned that a woman who sometimes sat in the library could offer concierge assistance. Concierge class on this ship means almost nothing.
• Entertainment: 3 or 4 good stage shows; we saw some of the other entertainment also … it wasn’t good. We weren’t the only ones in the audience to walk out of a show after 10 minutes. The company certainly saved money on the entertainment. Most daily activities were focused around drinking, spa, shopping in boutiques …. Again, the emphasis was on activities for which money could be charged. Actual free activities were minimized.
• Internet: expensive and worked very, very poorly. When trying to send or receive a simple email my connection would be dropped so often that it could take an hour just to send or receive. If they’re going to charge about $20 per day for internet, it should work reasonably well but it doesn’t.
• Staff training: Celebrity is obviously saving money by not giving staff adequate training. When we had a question about a port or logistics the guest relations and tour staff usually did not know the answer; typically, we knew more about the destination or situation than they did. These are untrained people who have been given a narrow script to follow. This problem is typified by a situation in the dining room at breakfast. I would order ½ grapefruit but it would arrive mashed up because the staff didn’t know how to cut a grapefruit. When I discussed the matter with the maître d he admitted he didn’t know how a grapefruit should be cut and that he’d never eaten one. When the maître d has never had experience with a simple food item like a grapefruit, how can the item be served properly? Again, untrained people are following a narrow script.
It quickly became quite clear that Celebrity’s intent was to deliver a cruise at the lowest possible cost to the company and sell the passenger as much additional as possible. They have become extremely skillful at forcing one to spend extra money by offering cheap food, depriving one of port information and alternatives to their tours, orienting onboard activities towards those for which they charge. The problems this review outlines are not related to the age of the ship which was refurbished just a few years ago. The ship is nice, even though the railings and paint is not maintained. Adequate electrical outlets could have been put in as part of the refurbishment; paint and exterior maintenance should be performed whether a ship is old or new. The problems are those caused by Celebrity cheapening the experience to save money and guide the customer towards spending more.
Although our two previous Celebrity cruises had been very enjoyable, this one was so bad that I couldn’t wait for the trip to end. If they had offered us the opportunity to stay aboard at no charge we would have declined. This experience has made us feel that Celebrity should definitely be avoided and that we have been defrauded by the company cutting quality in so many ways. This may be likened to going to Tiffany’s where one expects quality but making a purchase only to learn it’s gold plate not gold. The difference is I can return something of lower than expected quality to Tiffany’s. With Celebrity, both my time and money are gone and I can’t recover either.
Although we were concierge class, our stateroom was the smallest that I can remember, however it was adequate. What wasn’t adequate were the electrical outlets: there were only two in the entire stateroom; none in the bathroom. Items like electric razor or toothbrush had to be charged in the two outlets by the desk while alternating with mobile phones; computer, etc. The outlets are on the opposite side of the room from the bed which meant that to power the CPAP machine that I use when sleeping, an extension cord had to be run across the floor … we hoped not to trip on it when we got up in the middle of the night. Stateroom attendant was good; cheerful and conscientious, however out on our balcony the paint was peeling off metal surfaces and there was corrosion all around the balcony door. This is true for other parts of the ship as well. Celebrity has deferred maintenance. It’s shoddy.
Kobe is very accessible. It's great to walk around the downtown and China Town areas. We also took a 30 minute subway-train ride to charming mountain village which is a spa-town where local crafts abound.
Taipei is an amazing place that is often over-looked. One day we used the train to get in town from Keelung Port but found the next day that a taxi was not costly and was a big time saver. It's easy to see Taipei's sights on your own by using taxis. The 101 Building (second highest in the world); Chang Kai Shek Memorial and temples are marvelous. Don't miss one of the night markets.
If it's your first visit to Shanghai a tour might be best. As we had previously seen central Shanghai we pre-engaged a car and driver via internet. The driver took us to one of the delightful "water villages" in the Shanghai delta country.
Nagasaki is easy to navigate by streetcar or taxi. The streetcar line goes from the port area right to the Peace Park. If you prefer a taxi, they are readily available and inexpensive.
Hong Kong is a fascinating port but can be confusing because it is a labyrinth of streets on the mountain side as well as the bustling Kowloon side. Everyone should go to Hong Kong - Kowloon once. After that, well, it depends upon your taste and interests.