I live in Alaska. My 17-year-old daughter and I flew to Vancouver, BC to embark upon Celebrity Millennium on May 29. I booked the cruise on the night of May 25, so it was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I booked a Guarantee interior room through an online travel agency that we have used before. I checked Celebrity's website often the next two days to see if my cabin would be assigned before I left home. On May 27, we got our cabin assignment. Very late on May 28, we arrived in Vancouver and took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency (the airporter shuttle does not operate 24 hours per day and we arrived during their non-operational time) for about $30. I had booked the hotel and airline separately (mileage tickets). We spent the morning and early afternoon shopping (this was payment of the bribe to my daughter because she did not want to spend a week with me cruising in her backyard) at stores we do not have in Alaska. The Hyatt Regency extended our checkout time from noon to 1pm. When asked earlier, my travel agent told me the cruise would depart out of Ballantyne Pier, which is what Cruise Critic members were also saying. Thanks to them, I knew to ask. I was familiar with Canada Place because we disembarked there on a Princess Cruise last August, plus I had stayed at the Pan Pacific in 2007 for a short conference. The Hyatt concierge told us a taxi would cost about $10 and take about ten minutes to Ballantyne. The Hyatt bellhop stowed our bags at no charge from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while we ate lunch and finished shopping. At 2:30 pm we collected our bags from him and took a taxi to Ballantyne. While I paid the taxi driver, my daughter dealt with the porter, telling him our stateroom number so we could tag our bags. That was one thing that we cut too close, getting bag tags ahead of time. But it was no problem, he handed us tags and we put our stateroom number on them and we were set. Embarkation was a snap. We had an Express Check-in done online and all we had to do was show the credit card and passports. We went straight to the room so we could ditch our carry-on bags. It was made up with a king-size bed, but our room attendant said she would fix it. We have had this happen many times on cruises and it is very easy to change from king to twins or vice-versa, we've even reconfigured the beds ourselves once. No big deal. We went exploring. We did the muster drill. Our bags arrived about half-hour before dinner (early seating), so we got ready and went off to dinner. We were seated at a table of eight, but a party of seven arrived to join us. In retrospect we should have offered our seats and let them sit down, while the staff dealt with us, but at the time I did not know how the staff wanted to handle it, so we remained seated. I think this is what happened: The maitre' d disapeared somewhere and the assistant waiter went to find him. Meanwhile, the 7-party asked someone else what to do and the waiter came and added a place setting. While he was doing that, the 7-party left. I wondered if they were seated somewhere else in the dining room or if they just gave up and went to the buffet. I'll never know. When we arrived back at our room, it was made up into two twins. I did not get coupons for the Captains Club so we went and asked for them at the Captains Club desk. No problem. The next day we were notified by note that our dinner table assignment was changed. That was no problem, either. We were in the same section at the same time. The 7-party was seated at our old table. I find it funny that this breakdown in communication could happen, especially with all the information they collect from us online when we register.I usually like the cooking demonstrations onboard cruise ships and Millennium had one the first morning (sea day). Instead of a cooking demonstration to teach a specific skill, it was more like an advertisement for Millennium's specialty restaurant, the Olympic. Hmmm. I prefer a cooking demonstration or a tour of the kitchen or something other than the Olympic staff showing their own skills of wine and cheese choices. But, it was enough to whet my appetite to eat at the Olympic. I've never eaten at a specialty restaurant on a cruise before. I know, I know, why does someone so concerned with taxi fares pay extra for food on a cruise? I could not figure out how it worked, though. What does it mean, service charge? Or cover charge for ala carte? How much was it? The introduction book in the stateroom doesn't list Olympic's phone number and everytime we passed by the restaurant, it was closed or the staff looked busy. I was embarrassed to ask how it worked. I kept thinking, what if there's a huge cover charge AND they charge per menu item, would I really want to do this? One day near the end of the cruise my daughter found their phone number and pressed me to call it, so I finally did. The charge is $30 per person for a four-course dinner. I booked a reservation for later that evening.The setting of the Olympic Resaurant is elegant. We were fawned over by the staff, greeted by the restaurant director, the maitre' d, the waiters, the sommeliers, the assistant waiters, etc. My goodness, there were so many people hovering around us, I don't know how they kept it all straight and in fact, they didn't. Something happened about half-way through the meal. The staff started talking among themselves, but not in English. Romanian, perhaps? The sommelier was very young and the others on staff kept doing his job, I don't know what that was all about. I think the uproar had to do with our food, but I can't be sure. The maitre' d passed by, muttering in English, "Unbelievable! This is unacceptable! Not again!" People that were seated after us ate and left long, long before we did. No one ever came to say anything to us about it and I was not concerned that food wasn't coming quickly enough, but the sidelong looks and the drama were highly entertaining. It was extremely unprofessional to air dirty laundry in front of the guests, even if the guests could not understand it. The issue should have been taken behind doors or dealt with later. But like I said, we found it highly entertaining.The food in the Olympic was OUTSTANDING. What made me chuckle was that the portions were so much bigger than in the dining room. We only had four courses, but I was so full I almost asked for a cart to roll me out of there. So . . . high drama and an excellent meal, what more could a person ask for? Of note . . . if handed a plate of petit fours and you see one that looks like a piece of gummy candy, beware that it may be candied grapefruit peel. Euw. Took quite a bit of coffee to get rid of the taste. The food in the Metropolitan dining room was always superb, our waitstaff was excellent and very friendly. The cruise was not full and there was time for the staff to dote on us. This was my second Celebrity cruise, neither of which was full, and the staff was wonderful on both. My favorite part of each day in port was to take my laptop up to the Aqua Spa Cafe, grab a cup of coffee, plug my cellphone card into my laptop, and check email and the news. It was a much slower pace there than in the hubbub of the buffet. Diamond Princess has two hot tubs on the stern. We enjoyed them every day of last year's Alaska cruise. It doesn't matter how cold it is, or how much it rains, if you're sitting in a hot tub. Millennium does not understand this. On an at-sea day of wind and cold, we went to the outdoor whirlpools and learned to our dismay that "whirlpool" does not necessarily mean "hot tub." The whirlpools were heated, but not hot. We were already in the tub when we made the discovery. We thought maybe it was a malfunction of that particular whirlpool, so we decided to try the other one. Part of the pool deck was not open yet (I assume from the refurbishment), so my daughter did a quick shimmy, soaking wet and shivering, through the very cold kiddy pool into the other whirlpool. I quickly followed, only to discover that it was no different, but now we were even further away from our towels and wraps. We stayed underwater as long as possible and then just went for it. If there's one thing I hope someone from Millennium might learn from reading this it's that a person can actually enjoy stepping into cold air if they're coming out of a place that's very, very hot. Yes, we really do run into the snow from the sauna. HEAT THE OUTDOOR WHIRLPOOLS! After that, we enjoyed the indoor spa pools, even though, strictly speaking, my daughter wasn't old enough to use them. I'd have much rather been outside in a hot tub! The Thalasotherapy Pool is very, very nice, though.There were very few children aboard the ship. Probably most places still had school in session. My teen met a few other teens on the last day of the cruise. She chose not to attend the teen activities, so this is not a reflection of their organized activities.Our stateroom was an interior on deck 2. They're pretty much all the same, no matter the ship. Seemed like the room temperature would be cool while we were docked and then heat up while we were underway which was usually at night. Too warm to sleep very well. The beds were comfy and the bedding was clean. The room attendant was good. There's really not too much to say about an interior regular stateroom. I'm not that much into cruise entertainment. We went to the first night's opening and loved the Sea Sharps. They are awesome! The dancers were ho-hum. We went to iBroadway and it was pretty good. We did not see the magician or the comedian until the last night. The comedian was hilariously funny, but the magician was boring. We went to the Sea Sharps many times while they performed at the Cova. I went to the lecture on the first day, but I'm just not that into nature lectures, plus I've lived in Alaska all my life. Disembarkation had the usual headaches. Why do they ask us all the questions about when we leave and how we're getting out of there, if they don't do anything with the info? It seems like they just ask the questions over and over. Anyway, we were not given the option of hauling our own bags off the ship, which I'm quite thankful for. Last year on Princess that was a disaster. I don't really understand why they send groups of people to one specific location to have them disembark. Why not let people trickle off, straight from their rooms? Why not give people a half-hour time frame to depart? Well, there must be a reason for the way they do it, but I don't get it. Our bags were packed the night before and set outside the room. It was very nice for us because we did not have to pack for an airline, we could take as much stuff as we wanted because my husband was picking us up off of the ship. We were told to report at 9:15 am to the theater. The timing of this is a little annoying. When I was filling out all the registration rigamarole the popup menu always said we could not plan to depart the ship until 11am, so that's what time I told our ride to be at the pier. It's a 2.5 hour drive from Anchorage (where we live) to Seward (where the ship docked). We didn't get cell service in our room or out at sea, so I had to call first thing in the morning to get an earlier ride. We arrived on time at the theater only to have a flood of people going the opposite direction. We waited a couple minutes and then I went to ask what the procedure was. The lady asked for our color. I drew a blank, but then thought she probably meant our bag tag color and indeed that was the case. She told us we could disembark immediately from deck 4. Of course deck 4 was incorrect, it was deck 3, but it didn't take us long to figure it out and we walked straight off. We spotted our bags right away and waited about twenty minutes for our ride. There's quite a bit of seating in the Seward terminal. Much nicer than I thought it would be.All in all, it was a most relaxing cruise and I highly recommend it.
2039 was very, very quiet. Not sure if there was anyone in the rooms to either side. We never saw anyone.
We walked 3 miles from the ship to Saxman to see the totem park. Once there, a gentleman collected $3 from each of us in order to visit the park. It was worth the six miles and the $6. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. I'm not sure if that trek would have been worth it in the rain. Usually it's raining.
We never do any Alaskan shore excursions and there's not much to do in Skagway. A boutique was having a sale and my daughter scored a nice blouse and capris. In Skagway, of all places. LOL.
This was most interesting to me. I last visited Hoonah in 1977. You cannot imagine how shocked I was to learn the cruise ship would stop there. The Native association and the cruise industry have done a good job of creating an interesting destination. I enjoyed the historical artifacts and the nature path through the woods and along the beach. Nice job. There's a wide assortment of shops in the cannery building.
I've been there many times and it's a typical cruise port . . . D.I., Tanzanite, etc. Good grief. Our dining companions took the city bus out to Mendenhall and then walked to the glacier. Kudos to them. We did not stay off-ship very long.