1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Transpacific Cruises
  4. Transpacific Cruise Reviews

1 Shanghai to Transpacific Cruise Reviews

Millennium Shanghai to Vancouver – Our Suite Class Experience To put this review into perspective, we originally booked the 2104 sailing of this cruise [two years in advance] but Celebrity charted the ship and we re-booked for this ... Read More
Millennium Shanghai to Vancouver – Our Suite Class Experience To put this review into perspective, we originally booked the 2104 sailing of this cruise [two years in advance] but Celebrity charted the ship and we re-booked for this year. It was our 10th Celebrity cruise [13th overall] and would complete our “World Cruise”. All but our first cruise have been in higher-end suites and after our 40th wedding anniversary cruise in 2014 when we booked a Penthouse, we have been hooked. We are not rich but our cruise insurance is so expensive, we cannot afford to cruise as often as others so choose to do it in style when we do. After our cruise in 2013, we had started to feel jaded about cruising and think that our money could be better spent elsewhere. Just at the right time, Celebrity announced their new Suite Class Experience. Although we had experienced Michael’s Club and priority boarding on our 2014 cruise, this was our first cruise with the full Monty. Our pre-cruise experience for this cruise was far from perfect so we were hopeful that our experience on board would be better. Pre-cruise We took an airport taxi to the Heathrow Renaissance Hotel the day before our flight. The hotel has undergone continues upgrades in the eight years we have stay there pre-cruise. It is a real pleasure staying there and is highly recommended by us. Although we usually use the Hoppa bus to get to the terminal, this year we tried a taxi. Because of the amount of luggage we cruise with, a taxi was much easier and quicker but, also, considerably more expensive. The jury is out on what we will choose in future. My husband requires wheelchair assistance because of the distances you are required to walk at Heathrow but, this time, the Special Assistance department was far from its usual pleasant and efficient operation. By the time he arrived at the gate, the flight had almost completed boarding and both of us were quite stressed by the experience but that was the only issue we had. We chose not to upgrade our flights because it is hard to justify to costs these days for such a relatively short time, although we do pay for additional bags and to choose our seats in advance – one of the pairs of seats at the rear of the ‘plane. For the first time in years, our flight was not full and the two seats in the row in front of us was empty and we ended up with two seats each and both on the aisle. Both pairs of seats had really great leg-room and we were more comfortable than if we had upgraded top premium economy. Immigration was, contrary to reports and reviews I had read, quick and easy. There were toilet facilities available before Immigration and the experience was considerably less painful than arriving in Miami. Once we set off landed in Shanghai, the Celebrity experience immediately started to improve. We exited Customs to be greeted by our driver holding a sign with our names on it. He spoke little English but had no problem communicating with us and we were whisked off to the Hyatt in on the Bund where there was a letter from Celebrity awaiting us with the details needed for our transport to the port on Sunday. About a fortnight before leaving home, I had contacted to hotel to upgrade our room to a Bund Club Suite with river view. It was expensive but considerably less expensive than upgrading our flights to Club Class and for considerably longer time. The suite is spectacular with arguably the best views in Shanghai. Let’s say that our first lunch in the hotel buffet was an experience and one that sent us scurrying to Trip Advisor for the reviews of the hotel’s Chinese restaurant and decided us against risking it for dinner. Instead we asked the Bund Club’s [executive lounge] concierge to make us a reservation for the Lost Heaven on the Bund for the following evening planning on ordering room service for our first night in Shanghai. We stayed at the Bund Club for a pre-dinner drink but were enticed by the complimentary treats available with the evening cocktails and had no need of room service once we had finished. It is well worth upgrading to a room with Bund Club access if staying at this hotel for the breakfast as well as the evening cocktails. Embarkation Embarkation at Shanghai was "difficult". We were prepared for this and ready to go with the flow. We had Celebrity transport from Shanghai and this, on its own was well worthwhile as we arrived at the port to see a long line snaking out from a tent. People with luggage had clearly been waiting a very long time. It became clear that these were people what had private transfers to the ship and had been dropped off by their transport as they arrived. Although others on the coach had already started to complain, it was clearly better to say sitting on the vehicle than standing in the sun. After a relatively short wait, the coach was driven to the rear of the tent and our luggage removed and then we were drive to the front of the terminal building. We entered the building and walk through a huge hall. At the far end we found a huge mass of humanity that we quickly realised was a very, very long queue to check-in. Whilst I held our place in the queue., my husband went up to what looked like [and turned out to be] an information desk. There was a couple trying to resolve an issue at the desk. My husband recognised a Celebrity uniform [the Captain's Club hostess] and just showed her our luggage tag on our carry on. [It was far too noisy and busy for anything else and one reason for tagging your carry-on!] We were immediately called over to the desk and checked in by someone who clearly did not do this. Once we had checked-in, we were escorted through the crowd to a separate security line without a queue. Passed security, there was a long line [but nowhere near the huge crowd waiting to check-in] which moved quickly and it was probably only about 10 minutes before we were through Immigration and boarding the ship. This was a little difficult for my husband because the gangway was extremely long - presumably to absorb the crowds if the check-in and immigration process suddenly sped up. Once on the ship, although rooms were ready, an officer spoke to us and suggested that we may like to head to Michael's Club for refreshments to recover. Once in Michael's Club we were welcomed and our beverages of choice were waiting! All through the process, Celebrity personnel apologies to us for not being able to provide a better embarkation experience. As I said we understood it was not going to be easy - reading Cruise Critic had prepared us. As far as we were concerned Celebrity had clearly made every effort to make it as easy as possible for us. We were given a 12:00noon check-out and departure from our hotel. Coaches had been leaving from 9:00am. These people would not have boarded much earlier than us. After relaxing for a while, our butler collected us from Michael's Club and escorted us to our suite. We dropped off our bags and headed to Bistro on Five for lunch. It was now 2:30pm. Millennium and the Penthouse Suite Having stayed in the PH on Constellation, there were no surprises on Millennium. My husband really appreciates having a kettle and microwave and it is useful to have a full size fridge as well as a wine chiller. We had arranged our suite [including bar] set up in advance through the Michael’s Club concierge and everything was in place when we boarded. There were many threads about the condition of Millennium before we cruised, in particular the question of how well she had been maintained. Quite honestly, I do not think that there has been any skimping on maintenance. I saw one member of crew sanding the railings whilst we were docked in Petropavlovsk where it was really cold. They were painting the whole of the back of the ship in another port. However, the ship is now very dated and was clearly not built originally to the same high specification as Eclipse. Just because we were looking for maintenance issues [so that I could report back on Cruise Critic], we noticed that the original design and finish were just not as good. There were many annoying design features in the PH and the PH bathroom fittings are clearly very dated now. Even my husband, who really does not care much about these things, noticed how dated the whole ship looks. I do not intend to list all the things we noticed because, most of the time, they are unimportant and, at others, were just humorous. Nothing stopped us having yet another great cruise. We were looked after incredibly well by our butler and stateroom attendants who were clearly noticed what we used and liked and proactively responded. Entertainment, Activities and Dining The food is an important element of our cruise. We do not attend shows nor take part in most of the on board activities. Having given up eating in the Main Dining Room in 2009, we were really looking forward to having the opportunity to eat in Luminae. Overall, we enjoyed the experience but it required some adjustment, on our part, having eaten in the specialty restaurants for so long. Luminae does not have the “special” feel to it that the specialty restaurants do and this is primarily because of the lack of space. Although the restaurant was never totally full, it often felt crowded. Ideally, the tables would not be so close to the window wall or to each other. It is difficult to see how it can be otherwise when Luminae has been carved out of existing space on board but we, personally, prefer larger tables and sufficient room to allow the staff to serve correctly without the struggle they currently have. We were disappoint, initially, to learn that Luminae was only serving brunch and dinner on sea days and days when we arrived late in port, and breakfast and dinner on other days when the marketing had promised breakfast, brunch and dinner every day. However, as we lost 9 hours in 17 nights, brunch and dinner turned out to be perfect as we could “survive” on just two meals per day but just two brunch menus for half the cruise with just two more added, the brunch menus were very repetitive. We still feel that, on normal cruises, breakfast, lunch and dinner would be preferable. Where Celebrity have not compromised is the staff in Luminae. Everyone from the maître d’ and hostess to the wait staff and sommelier were clearly recruited from the best in the fleet and well trained. The chef was very visible and the quality of the food of the highest quality. It was a huge pleasure to have a changing menu in Luminae as opposed to the fixed menus in the specialty restaurants. Obviously, there were some menus we preferred more than others but alternatives were available on request. Some of the highlights, we must mention, were: the chicken liver custard, the duck liver pate amuse bouche, the duck consume, the vegetable curries, braised short rib, beef and veal cheeks, beef and tuna tartar, meat balls starter and, surprisingly, the pizzette starter! The pain de champagne was the best bread we have ever had on board - just a shame it was only available at dinner. It was early days for the new restaurant but it did not completely meet expectations. The marketing promises that “the Suite Class chef can provide a tailor made experience to suite guests and prepare a dish to their liking” yet, for example, we were told that granola can only be served with compote and parfait as they are prepared in advance. This was resolved by making the granola from Blu [in my opinion, actually a nicer granola] on its own but, in view of the marketing, it was surprising that the Blu experience could be more “tailor-made” than Luminae. We attended the Chef’s Table – our fifth – and this time, on Millennium, we were served by far the best food so far. We enjoyed both the menu and the quality of the food served. It was a totally enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, our other experiences in Olympic were not so enjoyable. Had Luminae not been available, we would have had a very different experience on Millennium. We had one dinner and on lunch in Olympic and both were disappointing. We know the menu and usual standard of food and service extremely well after eating in the equivalent restaurants for years. [In all our years of cruising with Celebrity, we have never before eaten in the specialty restaurants less than four times per cruise.] The food at both dinner and lunch fell a long way short of the usual standard and the service was not as good as in Luminae. We actually witnessed two members of the wait staff arguing in the middle of the restaurant during lunch. Michael’s Club We had experienced Michael’s Club [in its present incarnation] once before and so contacted the concierge, by email in advance, requesting our choice of beverages to be available. The bar staff, provided exceptional service. In fact, it was difficult to pop into the room to speak to the concierge or another guest without leaving with our favourite beverage in hand – not that we are complaining! Both servers quickly learned our routines and we able to recognise whether or not we required a refill without interrupting the flow of conversation. The only disappointment in Michael’s Club was the snacks provided. Although available at lunch time and in the evenings, they were the same as the mediocre canapés served in suite. Celebrity is capable of making good canapés. Those served at the Chef’s Table were wonderful. We do feel that better evening canapés and more suitable day-times snacks would be a great improvement. Ports We chose not to take excursions [ship or private] in most ports and, for this cruise, had only made a lunch reservation at a Kobe beef restaurant in Kobe. Our lunch at Wakkoqu in Shinkobe, like saki, is an experience that we are glad we had but would not necessarily choose to repeat. Disembarkation and Post-cruise For us, disembarkation went like a dream. There were only 10 guests who had booked post-cruise hotels through Celebrity [staying in two different hotels]. We had the latest disembarkation time and stayed in Michael’s Club until 10 minutes before our time when the concierge escorted us to our designated lounge. When our number was called, he returned to escort us off the ship – via a different gangway to the majority of the guests and as far as Immigration. This, for us, is another really valuable aspect of the new Celebrity Suite Class experience. The remaining part of disembarkation demonstrates the value of booking post-cruise arrangements through Celebrity as well as what a wonderful port Vancouver is. As the concierge said goodbye, a porter approached us! Everyone, both Celebrity and port staff, were wonderful although I am not so sure those waiting in the taxi queues were so impressed by us being taken to the front of the line. From leaving Michael’s Club until sitting in our room at the Four Seasons Hotel having had our luggage and tea making facilities delivered was less than two hours! Although my brother lives in North Vancouver, it had been over 20 years since I last spent any time in Vancouver itself. It is a stunningly beautiful port and city. The weather forecast [although not the weather itself] was not too promising so we purchased a two day ticket for the HOHO Vancouver Trolley. Using this, we got to see much of the city and Stanley Park as is an easy way to get around the main sights. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click