We cruised on the Millennium, from Singapore to Hong Kong, over Christmas and New Year.
And we had an amazing time…
The itinerary was just brilliant, giving us time to have a taste of Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Yes, some of the places you might want to visit are a long way from the ports, but if you’ve done your research you’ll know this and be prepared for some long coach rides to some of the most evocative places in the East- Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue Imperial City, Hanoi… We were surprised by the number of passengers who didn’t seem to realize this. Don’t people research anything before booking? The delights of Singapore are within a short MTR ride from the port; you can almost touch the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from the ship! And when you arrive in Hong Kong you can see the skyscrapers from your balcony! One of the many highlights for us was our approach into Ha Long Bay as we seemed to weave between these mysterious islands, spotting fishermen in their sampans as we passed. Magical!
We took Celebrity excursions in very port, not brave enough to go our own way and book independently, but judging by the number of minibuses and cars waiting for passengers as we boarded our coaches, quite a few had done. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the ancient kingdom of Ayatthua, our ‘Private Journeys’ trip around Ha Long Bay (three boats- sampan, small rowing boat and speedboat), and our Highlights of Hong Kong. Expensive, yes, but worth every penny…
The Millennium looks fine and dandy. We’d been dreading it, to be honest, after reading some reviews which described her recent refit as cheap and nasty. Not according to us. And it’s one of the cleanest ships we’ve been on, not just the cabin but everywhere around the ship. After what must have been a difficult night for the cleaners on New Year’s Eve, there wasn’t a piece of evidence the next morning that there had ever been a party…
What often makes a cruise, of course, is the crew. This was one of the best we’ve had- smiles, greetings, good humour and outstanding service from almost everyone made it a pleasure to be on. We felt that many went out of their way to make a difference and to make passengers feel they were in good hands. Thanks to all the crew members- especially those in the Metropolitan Restaurant and in the Sky and Rendezvous Lounges, too many to list here- who made our Christmas cruise so special.
We thought the food was superb. Finding a table in the Oceanview Café was never a problem, and we enjoyed breakfasts here with too many choices for a mere fortnight’s trip. Special mention to the Eggs Station, where it wasn’t only entertaining to watch three pans being juggled with everyone’s ridiculously specific requests, but the omelettes and eggs over-easy were always cooked to perfection! We chose the Metropolitan for lunches on sea days (great choices/rapid service) and for dinner (we made a 7.45 reservation for the whole cruise despite being on a Select Dining basis) where we enjoyed the many dishes on offer with whatever special/extra requests we fancied. We heard a few passengers complaining about the food. Really? What on earth do these people eat at home? Do they realize the sheer numbers these kitchens are catering for?
We loved the entertainment, both during the day (quizzes hosted by a super-friendly team) and in the evening around the ship. Good Vibes, who more often than not could be found in the Rendezvous, were top notch, and the pop band which played up on top deck for the New Year’s Eve party (apologies- name forgotten) were great. The production singers and dancers, together with the ship’s orchestra in the main theatre, were the best we’ve seen and heard. Some passengers rave: “They’re just like West End shows!” No, they’re not actually, but they’re very good given their limitations and given the fact that the stage is sometimes moving more than was intentional!
As this was a ‘Holiday Cruise’ we felt the entertainment team, together with the cruise company, had made a special effort to make it one to remember. A particularly nice touch I thought was finding a card and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine left in our cabin on my birthday. And I hadn’t even told anyone…!
There were a couple of negatives, of course there were- children in Adult Only areas which went unchallenged, too many areas for exclusive use of Aquaclass or Suite guests, too many upscale shops with too few customers, and the fee paying restaurants too pricey and unattractively squeezed into pokey little nooks. We also found some staff on the Excursions Desk rather officious. But any negatives were completely outweighed by the positives.
We came home with hundreds and hundreds of photographs, with many many memories of the most wonderful places we’d been lucky enough to visit, with even more of the charming people we met, both fellow passengers but mainly crew members whose paths we chanced to cross.
Overall- five stars.