CABIN (see below)
DINING The Metropolitan Dining Room looked gorgeous, and for the most part, the food matched its elegance to such an extent that we didn't have to contemplate paying extra for specialty dining. Still, when I saw the menu the first night, I felt it was not as high-brow as I had hoped. Thankfully, the impression improved, but when they had something really decent, they put EVERYTHING I was looking forward to into that one evening (lobster tail, rack of lamb, beef Wellington). There were other blemishes: not knowing what "English cut" was for the prime rib, for example, the Béarnaise not having any tarragon in it, subbing sea bream for the advertised cod without first telling diners (only owning up to it when challenged, and thereby looking like they were passing off one fish for another), and the soup course being weak almost all around, hot or cold... For the most part, though, the food was fresh and tasty, and the service at most seatings, exquisite. It was a marvel that they kept so much food going around so hot, and that one night when a Grand Marnier soufflé was offered for dessert took the cake, so to speak. I was also amazed and thankful that our wine steward Jelena remembered my name on the second night, and even more thankful that she gave us (and everyone else?) a 20% discount off all bottled wines, making the choosing of any of the packages quite unnecessary. The mark-up was your usual restaurant-type (before the discount kicked in) - I would not recommend lugging your own and paying the $25 corkage unless you're talking about 3-figure fine wines. The buffet at the Oceanview café, too, was impressive - LOTS of variety, fresh, and most of it well-prepared (those Indian dishes!!!), intruded upon occasionally by a lack of authenticity that ranged from frustrating (cannoli not made with mascarpone, and tiramisu with no actual lady fingers in it) to ROTFL ridiculous (at the "Indian Favorites" carving station, they featured - you guessed it - roast BEEF!) But there's a dire dearth in seating to handle a ship of this size, a situation not helped by inconsiderate fellow cruisers (a couple sitting opposite each other in a square table for four...)
ENRICHMENT / ENTERTAINMENT Listening to Dr. Gary Kramer talk about everything from whales to stars, as well as hold court in a wide-ranging QnA, was a pleasure - dude and wife are accomplished dancers too! Most of the entertainment was good - musical guests included an accomplished Chinese pianist/composer Jiang Tian and various great singers; the revue had its moments, with a fine young female singer leading the way, but the first show was confusing, and just average when it came to singing/dancing (the final night was a little better).
EXCURSIONS & PORTS OF CALL Ship excursions were by and large pricey and not worth the money. Just by way of an example, the excursion to Beijing from the ship at the port in Tianjin comprises a bus ride there and back (3 hours each way): cost, $119 for this "self-guided tour" per person. With a little bit of planning, a couple can take a taxi to the Binhai train station ($12 each way) and take the high speed train right into Beijing ($10 per person each way), saving not only a boatload of money ($65 vs. $258) but trimming 2 hours of travel time. We loved all 3 places in South Korea - heck, all the ports of call, but felt we could easily have spent more time on land than cruising in the ocean at a slow speed.
MISCELLANEOUS As mentioned, the Celebrity Millenium experience exceeded my expectations, as did "staying cooped up for 14 nights" - cuz we didn't, as we went ashore to explore at every port, and it was a great adventure. Some touches of "luxury" are appreciated (most waiters helping you place the napkin in your lap), while others are unnecessary (cloths to dry your hands in every public bathroom - in addition to paper towels). The gym is just too small for a ship this size: can't quite picture what would happen when it's not an older crowd like ours. The damn TVs did not work 95% of the time on 90% of the channels. The Solarium is beautiful, but the water in the hot tub is way not hot enough, and the number of hot tubs, inadequate.
The ship had just gone through a major remod, which really helped - even the tiny room felt like home after a short time, very much helped by our superb cabin attendant Gerald. We had adequate storage space after stuffing the empty luggage under the bed, but the bathroom itself - and the shower stall in particular - was just too small for comfort even for us "smaller" people. There were occasional problems with plumbing and heat control, though, which, along with the bit of rust showing through the door-frame paint to the balcony, proved that the improvement might have only been skin-deep.
A complimentary bus by Millenium takes you to town in Busan
Our bus took us on a long ride from the port to Gyeongbokgung, where we toured with a guide for almost 2 hours, before going to the quiet street (not much there...). Lunch was on our own, but the guide took us to this place that served traditional Korean meals (not inexpensive by Korean standards), finishing with a visit to the North Seoul towerView All undefined undefined Reviews
Hired a taxi to take us to Hallasan and did a hike up the volcano
Air was very bad the first day.
Have to get train tix ahead of time to avoid disappointmentView All undefined undefined Reviews
Taipei 101 is just a lot of premium brands - more interesting to walk to other malls that natives frequent around the neighborhoodView All undefined undefined Reviews