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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We took this cruise as a gentle way to go home to Canada from Japan. (We had done an around Japan cruise with Windstar beforehand) It was very enjoyable, food great, staff lovely, entertainment good. There were alot of sea days ... Read More
We took this cruise as a gentle way to go home to Canada from Japan. (We had done an around Japan cruise with Windstar beforehand) It was very enjoyable, food great, staff lovely, entertainment good. There were alot of sea days together but we got a routine of trivias, podium talks, hot tubs and eating in the day as the weather was too cold to be out on deck much or in the swimming pool. The speakers were entertaining, one gave talks on major trials. Another did Buddhism history and meditation and a third did varied talks from Rasputin to dog behaviour. The afternoon progressive trivia was fun if you had got a team together. It wasnt too rough so seasickness wasnt an issue either. We did have to change our clocks forward about 6 separate times to be on Vancouver time by arrival butbetter than getting full jetlag. So repositioing was worth doing, although the stop in Russia was a waste of time except to stretch your legs! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
While the overall cruise was very enjoyable, since we were with friends, we have for the first time, being Elite members, have found some issues with the food and/or the prep. This was the first time we sailed in Aqua Class, and while ... Read More
While the overall cruise was very enjoyable, since we were with friends, we have for the first time, being Elite members, have found some issues with the food and/or the prep. This was the first time we sailed in Aqua Class, and while the smaller dining room is nice & Blu, gave us access to two menus (Blu and Main), we do not feel the extra cost of Aqua class was merited. There were some instances where the entrees lacked flavor and were overcooked. One of our travelling companions made the remark that the crepe suzettes dessert tasted like "hockey pucks." Early on, we expressed our disappointment to Guest Relations. Subsequently the Head Chef came to our table and explained that the food comes frozen from the US. and that may alter the freshness factor and taste. Having been on numerous Celebrity cruises, Europe, Caribbean and the TransAtlantic, this was quite a unique explanation. On a positive note, service in Blu was excellent and the wait staff were always willing to exchange any food that was not to your liking. The Blu hostess was also extremely accommodating. As on all our Celebrity cruises the cabin attendant "Z" kept our room in excellent shape. Also we had fun with the Celebrity Life staff, particularly with Jaz and Tim. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
As the caption suggests, my main dissatisfaction with the cruise was the was overly-amplified "ambient" music everywhere, and it was always of the thump-thump variety. There was no escaping it. I will never cruise on ... Read More
As the caption suggests, my main dissatisfaction with the cruise was the was overly-amplified "ambient" music everywhere, and it was always of the thump-thump variety. There was no escaping it. I will never cruise on Celebrity again. For those who do not object to this terrible noise, I am adding a few comments on other aspects of the cruise. The promotional material said the port of embarkation would be Yokohama. With no explanation and no apology Celebrity sent out an e-mail saying the ship would leave from an freighter port about ten miles from Yokohama. I had to change my hotel reservations. Some people said they didn't get the e-mail, went to the wrong port, and had to scramble. Some poor souls probably failed to make it on board at all. Changes must sometimes be made, of course, but failing to acknowledge inconveniencing your customers and to apologize is a serious breach in good service. Regarding the cabin, the shower was roomy and functioned perfectly. It was the best cruise ship shower I've seen. The little lady who tended to my needs was sweet and responsive. Sheets were changed every three days, which was nice. The bed was over-burdened with huge pillows. I stowed them over the closet and under the bed. My cabin attendant got me a reasonably-sized pillow. The mirror had a big circle of light around it. If I sat on the sofa, the light reflected off my glasses, producing an image in the mirror of me with luminous circular eyes. I was amused. The TVs are bolted to the wall, so when the TV was playing next door, I could hear it. The food in the dining room was mediocre, meaning it wasn't very tasty. The emphasis seemed to be on what is called “presentation.” Typically, food is placed in a heap, rather than segregated on the plate. Maybe this is artistic, but the assemblage has to be taken apart before one eats it. As for the specialty restaurants, I didn't try them. Two [Luminae and Blu] were reserved for people higher up in Celebrity's caste system. As a peasant, I was not allowed in them. There was no library on board. A room called “The Retreat” looked like it served that purpose, but it was off-limits to serfs like me. The ship does not have a card room, but we were allowed to play in the upper dining room near the door into the service area, where there was an escalator in serious need of grease. The throbbing of the escalator, along with thumping ambient music, did not make for a relaxed card game. I imagine dining there would be less than ideal, too. Nearby were tables for two with seats enclosed in a cove of foam. That might help a little with sound abatement. One of the bars had two talented chanteuses and a dance floor. It was a pleasant and entertaining way to spend a little time in the evening. The shows in the auditorium were all grossly over-amplified. The grandest featured elaborately-costumed and energetic dancers wearing fake microphones and lip-syncking to recorded music. I don't expect an orchestra on a cruise ship, but at least the singing should be real. Enrichment included a man who talked interestingly about crime in Los Angeles. The other lecturer, while a dynamic speaker, did not have much of interest to say. His lecture on the Pacific Ocean basically said it is big. I like to go to the gym and use the treadmill. Who needs music playing at all or, if it is necessary, why at such high volume? Maybe you want to watch TV, listen to content on your phone, or just read. The loud music is an annoying distraction. All this noise is a deal-breaker for me. I'll never cruise on Celebrity again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We tend to prefer longer cruises with sea days. Celebrity almost always has excellent speakers and this cruise was no exception. We tried to catch all the talks. This is our second cruise in Aqua. The ammenities make the trip so much ... Read More
We tend to prefer longer cruises with sea days. Celebrity almost always has excellent speakers and this cruise was no exception. We tried to catch all the talks. This is our second cruise in Aqua. The ammenities make the trip so much more enjoyable so thats what we look for now. Our cabin, an A1 was a long way from the spa and because of the weather we didn't use it. The room was very well done and the bed was very comfortable. By the time we finished breakfast our room was usually finished. Very clean.did n The buffett was usually crowded but never so much that we couldn't find a place to sit. I noticed, and reported, when a guest came back and dumped his leftover food back into the container. After that I only ate what was served. No more self serve. I feel that they should have someone at all the stations. I have no desire to eat a strangers leftovers. The lounge music venues were very nice. The service in Blu as always was excellent. Daniell and Jet, our waiters, Yudie(sp) the Maitre d' and the wonderful hostess were were so friendly and professional. Overall the shows we great with one notable exception. The music was so loud it overpowered the singers and the guest piano player. It was also.was damaging to our ears. Some of the performances we had to leave because of the music. I don't know why the music director thinks that louder is better. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We are in our early 70's - this was our 40th cruise - but only the 2nd with Celebrity (usually we cruise with either Princess or NCL) - We choose this for the itinerary - always wanted to see Hong Kong ! We are spoiled, and have ... Read More
We are in our early 70's - this was our 40th cruise - but only the 2nd with Celebrity (usually we cruise with either Princess or NCL) - We choose this for the itinerary - always wanted to see Hong Kong ! We are spoiled, and have cruised in suites for the last several years. The Room - we had a Celebrity Suite - #9096 - yes - we did hear chairs scrapping, etc. noise from Deck 10 above (but this was the last Celebrity Suite available) - and the noise was not so bad that it actually woke us up from sleeping or anything. The floor to ceiling windows were wonderful, and the extra space with the dining table were great. The balcony was indeed, narrow - but no problem - just turned the chairs sideways ! The totally negative part about the room (which we had read about, and were fore-warned) was the bathroom - very small - and the HUGE step in and out that you had to take to get in and out of the tub or the shower (combination tub and shower) The ship did show a little wear and tear - but nothing all that horrible (or worth reporting as far as I am concerned) The service and the food in the Luminae Restaurant was absolutely outstanding ! - You could pretty much ask for anything that you wanted. You could always order from the menu from the main dining room if there wasn't anything on the Luminae menu that caught your fancy. The wait staff were beyond great - welcomed you by name whenever they saw you. Our meals were, without a doubt, the highlight of the trip ! We did eat in the Italian Restaurant one night - it was OK - expensive wine. We found no reason to venture out of the Luminae after that. The entertainment was hit and miss. The production shows with the ship singers and dancers were very, very good - and very well attended. The other entertainment were things like jugglers and harmonica players (!) - not so good, and not so well attended. (of course, there were a couple of ports that the ship overnighted at, so passengers may have stayed ashore on shore excursions later than normal. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Celebrity is one of our favourite cruise lines. The staff are always friendly and so helpful. The facilities on board are all good. Our cabin was as expected. The captain is one of the best we have experienced on all the cruise lines. The ... Read More
Celebrity is one of our favourite cruise lines. The staff are always friendly and so helpful. The facilities on board are all good. Our cabin was as expected. The captain is one of the best we have experienced on all the cruise lines. The entertainment team were excellent especially Paul the cruise director, who was a very talented performer in his own right. We ate breakfast and lunch mostly in the Ocean View which always had a good selection of food. The areas were always kept clear and it was never too difficult to find a table. The Main restaurant on deck 4 for the select dining was easy to use. The staff were well organised if the restaurant was busy we had a beeper to call us to the restaurant when they were ready for us. Once or twice we had to request the food to be a little warmer but the staff were very obliging. Melwin the somellier was excellent, remembering our favourite wines and was very attentive. Anwari was one of our favourite waiters too. My husband booked the Tuscan grill for my birthday but it was very disappointing. The food was served cold. Considering there were only 20 people in the restaurant the service and food should have been far better. Although the staff replaced the meals it took the edge off our celebrations. Due to this we would not bother again and would not recommend the restaurant. It was well overpriced for what we had, The ports and shore excursions were good. Travelling with friends on this occasion made it a very memorable cruise Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This was my and my husband's first trip to the Far East. Since we cannot take a long vacation at this stage, we opted for a cruise , and since we have happily sailed in the past with Celebrity, and the itinerary offered by them was ... Read More
This was my and my husband's first trip to the Far East. Since we cannot take a long vacation at this stage, we opted for a cruise , and since we have happily sailed in the past with Celebrity, and the itinerary offered by them was quite outstanding (Yokohama/Shimizu/Kobe overnight/Nagasaki/Shanghai/Okinawa/Taipei overnight/Hong Kong) we decided to sail with the Millie, even given the vast lack of consensus about her (opinion ranging from "the grand old lady" to "that old hag of a ship"). Having left our teenager son at home, I thought it a good time as any to splurge on an AquaClass stateroom. The cruise was fully booked a full year before sailing day, and when stateroom 9051 became available, I happily pounced on it. We arrived in Tokyo two days before the cruise, as many other cruisers did. It was a very good idea as it gave us the time to start adjusting to the time difference and to the very different culture and food. A couple of days more would have been even better. We spent a day touring Tokyo a bit with a private guide; others preferred to take a bullet train and visit Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and suchlike. All were very happy and impressed with Japan, its sites and the kindness and warmth of our Japanese hosts. On Sunday we boarded the ship at Yokohama port, a short train ride from Tokyo station and a few minutes' journey by taxi from Yokohama station. The embarkment process was a total mess. Hundreds of people were waiting in a huge group in the cavernous hall. Somehow, Captain Club/Aqua Class passengers had been grouped with all the other staterooms, whilst Concierge , Zenith and Suites passengers had a (very short) queue of their own. Moreover, Celebrity had requested a few days before the cruise to prepare three copies of the photo page of our passports, but had not specified that each passport had to be photocopied separately, so the smallish photocopier in the hall was put to task and another big queue formed there. At a certain point AC passengers were told by one port assistant to go to the shorter queue, but then another assistant started arguing with her, and the confusion multiplied. On the other hand, during the cruise itself, the complicated process of immigration and emigration in and out of Japan (twice), China, Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR was effectuated on the ship in a very smooth and professional manner. The ship is not new, that is sure - but it is lovely kept, and the crew is friendly and seems to be genuinely concerned in you having a happy and carefree vacation. There is indeed a big overhang due to the enlargment of deck 10, especially felt on deck 9 - but our deck 9 cabin was not dark as I feared and the overhang protected us from torrential rain some days and the hot rays of the sun on others. The noise from deck 10 on our heads was not too bad (cliking of heels a couple of time during elegant evenings and some trolley wheels rolling sounds which could be mistaken for thunder - and we had those too). All in all, the stateroom was pleasant and we spent many happy hours relaxing there. The stateroom's bathroom was very nice. I appreciated especially the shower cabin and the shower column, and the nightlight. The toiletries were Gilbert and Soames, except for the shower gel, which was the Celebrity one. Our stateroom attendant, Lydia, was prompt, clean, honest and friendly. Blu was one of the highlights of the cruise, not only for the high quality of the food, which strived and succeeded in delivering a refined haute cuisine experience whilst taking care to serve healthy alternatives wherever possible without renouncing to the tste and the quality - but also due to the lovely atmosphere there. Linda the maitre d'h and her assistant did a wonderful job of giving each group the best seats available, and many a happy and pleasant conversations took place between tables during supper and breakfast. In comparison, the Oceanview cafe was just ok, crowds being its main problem. We did not feel any need or urge to visit the specialty restaurants. We did not see any shows, so I cannot comment about them, although I heard many passengers praising them. We enjoyed the presentations of the guest speakers , Ms Patricia Bjalaand Welch, who gave four very good talks on the various ports; and Mr Milos Radakovich, who talked about stars, weather, wildlife and the ocean in an engaging and interesting way. Some of the mornings I tried to swim - but the pools outside were either cold or the seas too stormy to swim in a pool which is above one's height to start with. As per the various ports - in Shimizu we met strong and incessant rains, so we saw only Kunozan Toshogu Shrine and went back to the ship. I understand the weather is very fickle in this part of the world, which further justifies stay a few days pre-cruise in Tokyo, and spend a sunny one of them visiting the mount area. In Kobe we decided to leave the ship for the night, and visit Kyoto in depth for a day and a bit. We got back to the ship, our familiar Western bubble, thoroughly "shrined out" but charmed. Nagasaki we - and many other passengers - toured on our own using the day pass for the tram sold in the port for 500 yen. We visited the Atomic Bomb Museum and the Memorial Park, the Spectacles Bridge, Chinatown and Dejima ( from the outside), the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture (recommended) and Hamamachi Dori, getting back long before the all aboard time. In Shanghai we had a glitch due to the fact that the Himja typhoon hitting the area had caused the closure of the port, and although we arrived in good time and decent weather, the port authorities refused to let us in, even when our captain ( a most excellent officer and gentleman, Nikolas Christodoulakis, who with his faithful team made great efforts to keep us safe and made for a very smooth and enjoyable sailing) volounteered to take the ship on his own, without the assistance of the port's pilot. Not only that, the port's authority ordered us out of the port alltogether, so instead of docking at 7 am , we docked at 1pm - and it would have been much later had not our captain, again, volounteered to take the ship on his own, a suggestion which this time was accepted. This cut short our ( independent) and other shore excursions, which was a shame, since we had relatively very little time to start with and Shanghai port (Baoshan) is about an hour way from the Bund ( and the drivers seemed not to show any sympathy for traffic rules). Back in Japan, we took a shore excursion to visit Okinawa, which was quite a letdown. Our guide was a very sweet and quite overeager lady, who did her best to translate in doubtful English what another guide said, and then proceeded to show her similarly doubtful singing and playing skills. Other groups experienced similar problems and the stop was not the summit of the cruise. Taiwan, on the contrary, proved a very positive surprise, with many interesting sites less than an hour drive from the port (Keelung) including the National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai Shek memorial and Taipei 101 in Taipei, and Shifen Old street and Yehliu Geopark. Finally, we reached Hong Kong, where we stayed overnight before disembarking. The Kai Tek terminal is quite far away from the city centre and a very long and narrow building which caused the disembarcation to feel like a long and cumbersome back and forth walk. On the first day, we took the free shuttle to the apm shopping mall, wasting a long time exchanging our leftover yens (most banks in Hong Kong change only to account holders - but with four different financial institutions authorised to issue HK dollars, who wants to risk being given counterfeit money?) and then waiting for the shops to open in the mall ( most opened at 11, some even later) . Then we went to the HK Museum of History - which I found very interesting and visually pleasing. After that, we boarded a sampan for a twilight cruise, which was lovely apart from the sudden intense downpour from the beginning of our cruise to its end - and then it was time to return to the ship, enjoy one more meal at Blu and pack. The disembarkment process was smooth and efficient and we found ourselves at our hotel - after having used the prepaid bus transfer provided by the ship to HK station) before 10am. All in all, a most satisfactory cruise in which we met many very nice people and saw many interesting places. Well done, Celebrity! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Chose this cruise because of the ports we visited. Japan was on our bucket list. We did our first cruise on Celebrity a few years ago and considered it to be a high class cruise line. Embarkation in Tokyo was somewhat chaotic and slow. ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the ports we visited. Japan was on our bucket list. We did our first cruise on Celebrity a few years ago and considered it to be a high class cruise line. Embarkation in Tokyo was somewhat chaotic and slow. It took over 2 hours standing in line in a rather gloomy area. There was little seating and amenities. Once on board we were surprised not to be directed to the buffet but were pleased our cabin was ready. An outside cabin forward on deck 8 which was considerably larger than the adjacent balcony cabin. It was an excellent choice and well attended by Felix who worked efficiently and discreetly, spoke good English and was always smiling. We had set dining and were extremely well looked after by Nino and Gary. The menu did not have a lot of choice although there was a section of "always available" dishes for all courses. By the second week there were only 2 dessert offerings plus the "always available". Must emphasise again though that our waiters were superb. Breakfast was not as consistent in service or food quality as the evening meal. Some options were not always available including skimmed milk. Some guests were disappointed there was no lobster on the menu unless you paid extra for it.. Not my taste but is usually regarded as a cruise treat. It was eventually served on the last evening chic night but we heard it was not available in the pay restaurant that night. We used the buffet once as we were late back but were not impressed with the food which looked as if it had been there for some time. It was a quiet evening as a lot of guests were ashore but I think the food should have been kept fresh. We would have liked a few more activities that were hosted. For example table tennis and basket ball were not often organised but were promoted as free play. Also the table tennis was located in one of the smoking areas. Not a good idea, especially in a hot and humid location. Unlike other cruises my husband found the complimentary gym sessions were few and far between. Part of the fun of cruising to us is dressing up on formal nights. Didn't check before packing but Celebrity now have "evening chic" instead of formal. This can be anything from jeans to a tux. My husband's tux and my long dresses were a very small minority. Entertainment was good and the resident singers and dancers put on some good shows. Disappointed that there was no show on last night. We missed the penultimate show so we could get the packing done and enjoy the last night's show, so we ended up with little to do on the last night. Itinerary was good and we mostly made our own arrangements to view the areas. We did the ship excursion to Chiufen village in Tai Pei which we enjoyed and did the tour on disembarkation day which took us to the airport in Hong Kong where the airport is some distance away. Quite a few elements to this trip and we enjoyed it. Overall a good trip with just a few personal niggles. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
DW and I are in our mid 50's who enjoy cruising. While nothing is ever perfect and pristine, especially if one chooses to focus on negativity, we are generally take things in stride as we feel blessed in the fact that we can enjoy the ... Read More
DW and I are in our mid 50's who enjoy cruising. While nothing is ever perfect and pristine, especially if one chooses to focus on negativity, we are generally take things in stride as we feel blessed in the fact that we can enjoy the luxury of cruising. Now onto our cruise. We arrived in Tokyo 3 days before embarkation and had a marvellous time. Japanese people are so wonderful, very polite and helpful. Tokyo is very clean and with a fantastic transportation system that is easy to use and inexpensive. We stayed at the Grand Central Hotel, which is very well located, about a 10 minute walk to Kanda Station on the Ginza Line. Room was very small, but that is typical for most Japanese hotels, especially if you are on a budget. On embarkation day, we took the train to Yokohama and arrived in plenty of time with very little effort (we only had two large pieces of luggage to drag around). Embarkation was delayed to 12pm due to the late arrival of Millie, but once it started we got onboard fairly quickly and were enjoying lunch in the Oceanview buffet by 12:30. Ports of call were fantastic, with the exception of Shanghai. Aside from Visa issues with visiting Shanghai and a late docking due to the port being closed due to high winds from a passing typhoon, the port is quite far from the Bund and other tourist attractions. Also, some taxi drivers were very dishonest, we were literally taken for a ride. We shared a taxi with another couple for a ride to the Bund, which should cost $85CNY, but the driver took the outer ring road and by the time we got to the Bund the meter was at $280CNY! We later learned that we were not the only victims, as there were at least a dozen other passengers who were victimized. So be careful when travelling in Shanghai. The entertainment on board was quite good, we enjoyed the shows and were appreciative of the efforts of the Celebrity dancers and singers. We had dinner in the MDR and the food was very good, as was the service. Kudos to our waiter Sanjaya, his assistant Supana, our sommelier Miroslav and drink waiter Prince. All were very good and attentive to our needs. Disembarkation was a challenge for most people at the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong. Beautiful terminal, but very poor taxi service, fortunately we booked our taxis in advance. All in all, we had a wonderful time. Millie is showing her age, and yes there is rust showing in some spots, including our balcony and at times it is very difficult to find a seat in the Oceanview buffet, but the staff is very friendly. Captain Nicholas was very visible throughout the cruise, cruise director Steve was fantastic and of course Café al Bacio is a terrific place to sit and have a nice specialty coffee and/or tea along with wonderful desserts and sweets. This is our first cruise on an M class ship. While we prefer the S class ship (Reflection is our favorite), we would not hesitate to book another cruise on Millie. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This was 14 day cruise from Yokohama to Hong Kong, with stops in Shimizu, Kobe (for Kyoto), Nagasaki, Shanghai, Okinawa, and Taipei. We would recommend this itinerary as a good introduction to this part of Asia. This was our fourth ... Read More
This was 14 day cruise from Yokohama to Hong Kong, with stops in Shimizu, Kobe (for Kyoto), Nagasaki, Shanghai, Okinawa, and Taipei. We would recommend this itinerary as a good introduction to this part of Asia. This was our fourth cruise on a Celebrity M-Class ship and our twenty-first cruise overall. (But this is my first review- apologies for the length!) The Millennium met our expectations, in part because we are very familiar with this class of ship – we had been on the Millennium prior to its most recent dry-dock, and were on the Infinity earlier this year. To our eyes, the ship was in good condition. If you looked hard, you could find some faded varnish and rust in areas exposed to the weather, but the interiors were in great shape. We were in a standard (2B) balcony cabin on deck 8. This cabin has adequate closet space and lots of storage. The cabinetry is in warm wood colors, which I find pleasing. Our steward, Erline, was consistently cheerful, and kept our room clean and neat. Earlier this year, we had a C3 “Concierge Class” cabin on deck 9 of the Infinity, a sister ship. The “standard balcony” cabin on the Millennium seemed to be about two and half feet shorter. But this made no practical difference to us. The bed size and storage space were the same. (The couch is smaller.) We also preferred being on deck 8. Our C3 on the Infinity had some nighttime noise from the Oceanview Café directly overhead. Our 2B on the Millennium was completely quiet. We used “Select Dining” (open seating) in the main dining room on both cruises, and always asked for, and got, a table for two. We usually reserved a dinner table one day ahead. It may be coincidence, but I noted that when we were booked Concierge Class for the earlier trip, we were consistently seated at one of the best tables in the dining room (by the big rear window). On this more recent trip, booked in a “standard” cabin, we were seated by a window for only one dinner on the entire fourteen day cruise. (Note – this is an observation, not a criticism – I think it’s fair that folks paying the higher rate should get the better tables, if that was what was going on.) Food in the Main Dining Room was a mixed deal. When it was good (as it was on Evening Chic nights), it was really good. One night, I had a spectacular Chateaubriand with Béarnaise sauce and another night, a very good hake served Provencal style with tomatoes and peppers. But on other nights they seemed to be economizing. Food was of lower quality, and/or bland. I notice that even with Select Dining, the maître d tries to seat people in consistent areas, so we got to know our two servers and sommelier (Cris, Nasir, and Dwayne). They were great! We didn’t eat in Tuscan Grill. We are in that group of the passengers who are still unhappy that Celebrity removed the “historical ship” themed restaurants from this space on the M-Class ships. I thought the food in the Oceanview Café was good and had nice variety – but it was always a mob scene when we were there. Celebrity should look into opening and promoting alternatives venues on days when large groups of people are going to be heading for the Café at the same time. When all the shore excursions return to the ship at 1:30p, couldn’t the main dining room's lunch schedule be adjusted accordingly? Partly because the Oceanview Café was so busy, we ate lunch twice at “Sushi on Five”. This venue has ala carte pricing, so depending on how much you order, it can be as expensive as a land-based restaurant. That being said, the sushi was really good, and the dessert we had (a sponge cake with passion fruit sauce and wasabi-flavored ice cream) was incredible. We ate QSine once. The décor was fun, and the food was fun to look at. But with the exception of the steak, which was high quality, most of the effort seems to go into the fanciful presentations, rather than the quality of the ingredients. Go if you want to be entertained by your food, and if you have a big appetite. This voyage had a pretty good solo singer/guitarist and a vocalist/guitarist duo, whom we overheard performing in the Rendezvous Lounge. The singing/dancing cast worked hard and showed off their ability in a variety of styles. A Motown-style R and B quartet got the theater jumping one night. The Cruise Director, Steve, struck a good balance between being entertaining without being silly, and letting us know what was available without being a shill. We had good experiences with the shore excursion staff on this trip. Although not an issue for us, we understand that they were able to make adjustments for passengers whose tours were affected by our late arrival into Shanghai. Disembarkation went well. We bought a Celebrity bus transfer to our Hong Kong hotel. We were called ahead of schedule, so we had less of a wait than we expected. The design of the Kai Tak cruise terminal in Hong Kong requires lots of walking from the gangway, to immigration, to the bus lots. I hope they can make the flow more efficient when they complete all areas of the terminal. Some impressions of the ports and excursions follow: Yokohama – On the outside, one of the most beautiful cruise terminals I’ve ever seen – curving wood walkways and green lawns facing an attractive skyline. On the inside, we were directed to a long, slow-moving line to get to a check-in desk. It took over an hour to get to check-in, but things improved after that. Shimizu – We took a Celebrity excursion to the Hakone area for a lake cruise, and aerial gondola ride to a volcanic area. This would have been really nice if it hadn’t been pouring rain the entire day. (And it was too rainy/cloudy to see Mt Fuji). But the lake boat (a mock galleon) was picturesque and the volcanic area was dramatic. So I don’t regret the trip. Kobe (for Kyoto) – Five stars! The first day we took a Celebrity excursion to the “Golden Pavilion” in Kyoto, followed by a Japanese dinner featuring a dance by an exquisite “maiko” (apprentice geisha). Highly recommended! The second day we visited three famous shrines in Kyoto: Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari (with its hundreds of red gates), and Ryoanji (known for its Zen rock garden). Kiyomizu-dera and Fushimi Inari were very crowded, but it was possible to find some quieter spots away from their entrances. Nagasaki – We took another Celebrity excursion to the Peace Museum commemorating the Nagasaki atom bombing, and another aerial gondola to a hilltop viewing station (more fog and rain!!). The museum was excellent. It seemed that cruise passengers who had prepared in advance to see Nagasaki on their own, saw more than we did on this excursion. Shanghai – Our entry into the Shanghai port was delayed by the remnants of a typhoon, though our personable captain had worked quite hard to get us to port as soon as possible. We had toured Shanghai extensively on a previous trip, so we planned to visit on our own by subway. Because of the shortened day, we spent all our time walking the riverside promenade at the Bund. Whatever you do, make sure you plan to be on the Bund at twilight when they turn the building lights on – this is one of the most spectacular urban sights in the world! The Shanghai subway system is modern, easy to figure out, and has signs and announcements in English. But it takes an hour, at best, and one or two transfers to get from the Baoshan Port to the Bund. And the stations are very crowded with long transfer passages– not for the faint of heart. Okinawa – We went on a Celebrity shore excursion that visited Okinawa World (with a folk village and limestone cave) and Shurijo Castle. Although interesting to hear a bit about Okinawa’s unique culture, I regret not visiting some of the World War II-related sights instead. Taipei – We went on two Celebrity shore excursions. The first visited the 101 story Taipei 101 skyscraper, and a large active Buddhist temple complex. The second tour visited several buildings erected by the Chinese Nationalists: a museum, a military memorial, and a memorial to Chiang Kai-Shek. It is interesting to see these twentieth century buildings, that were built to resemble a traditional Chinese (e.g. Beijing’s Forbidden City) style. Taipei appears to be an orderly, attractive city. (Note that the port is some distance away from the Taipei.) Hong Kong – We had been to Hong Kong before, so took the Celebrity shore excursion to Lantau Island. This was a more rural area, so visiting here is a respite from crowds. The long aerial gondola ride from the Po Ling Monastery and Buddha statue, back to the north side of the island was incredible. 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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We have recently returned from our extensive Asian travels, and have been very surprised to read such negative reviews of the Tokyo (Yokohama) to Hong Kong cruise. This was a very interesting itinerary, and although not perfect we found ... Read More
We have recently returned from our extensive Asian travels, and have been very surprised to read such negative reviews of the Tokyo (Yokohama) to Hong Kong cruise. This was a very interesting itinerary, and although not perfect we found the Celebrity Millennium cruise to be very enjoyable. The main let down for us was the quality of the food and the service in the MDR. We overcame this by eating some evening meals in the Ocean View Buffet, where we were able to have food cooked to order e.g. stir fries and pasta. We also enjoyed sitting in the outdoor eating area when weather permitted. The ship itself was in good condition for its age, and there were many pleasant bars and places to sit to listen to a wide array of music. The covered pool area was lovely and not too crowded.The entertainment overall was of a good quality and we enjoyed the enrichment lectures very much. Our ocean view stateroom at the front of the ship was large and comfortable ( no balcony) and our attendant was excellent. We took 2 shore excursions; Shimizu was disappointing because of the weather, but that is not anybody's fault, and the tour to Kyoto from Kobe was good, we especially enjoyed seeing the Golden Pavilion. Everywhere we went was crowded, but we found that to be the norm in Asia. Other ports we explored on our own with no problems at all. Overall we don't think that Celebrity deserves to be rated more highly than Royal Carribbean, but this cruise does not deserve the negative reviews it has received. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
I have to begin this review with the fact that the Monday prior to sailing (October 10, 2016) I was told by Celebrity personnel that we would not be allowed to board the ship without a China Visa. I checked with the Chinese Consulate who ... Read More
I have to begin this review with the fact that the Monday prior to sailing (October 10, 2016) I was told by Celebrity personnel that we would not be allowed to board the ship without a China Visa. I checked with the Chinese Consulate who referred me back to Celebrity. The consulate said I might qualify under the 144 day (no visa needed for US citizens) rule, however, check with the Cruise Lines because they could not say whether or not I could board the ship. I spent 7 1/2 hours on the telephone and the bottom line was that we NEEDED the Visa before would could board the ship. This came from Celebrity Cruise lines. After frantically looking for a way to get a Visa in 4 days (because they had to be in my hands before Friday - we were departing on Saturday to catch the ship on Sunday), and finally found an expediter in San Francisco who (for a fee of $259 over the cost of the Visa, and that was very reasonable compared to others) could get the Visas for me. Going back AGAIN to the fact that I was TOLD REPEATEDLY that I could NOT BOARD the ship without this VISA, after boarding, one of the first signs that I saw was one that said "Guests who wish to participate on tours in Shanghai but do not have a Chinese visa may obtain a provisional visa to be able to participate on a Celebrity Shore Excursion." I later learned that these people got these provisional visas for $10.00!!!! Compare that to $432!!!!! I also learned that other people on this cruise had been told the same thing. If you were one of them, I would love to hear from you!!! Along with being hoodwinked by someone who (I hope) didn't know any better because they do NOT COMMUNICATE properly, after boarding I found the food choices to be very limited, (You are strongly encouraged to purchase food from a specialty restaurant if you want variety) the on-board activities very good if you had one foot in the grave (during a line dance instructional class on the Lido deck, one of the guests asked the instructor to turn the music down!!), practically no activities during days at sea, the Guest Services Staff limited in knowledge. They had no stamps aboard if you wanted to mail postcards. They had no money aboard if you wanted to exchange currency. They said they were waiting on stamps. Also told we could get money exchanged in port (what if we were going on a tour and had no time to exchange?). I still have to give credit where it's due. The waiter and his assistant were wonderful, and the dining room manager was extremely accommodating. The ship is still a nice ship, but most of the staff did not seem very happy. I was also told that there were Leadership people on this cruise from Celebrity. No one told me that while I was aboard and the leadership did not think enough of me and my predicament to have a face-to-face with me. even though she was presented with my circumstances. NOT EVEN TO APOLOGIZE OR TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN MIS-COMMUNICATION. They have a disclaimer on all documents that says each individual is responsible for knowing whether or not they need a Visa. How much good does finding out that you don't need a Visa do, when Celebrity turns around and tells you that you will not board if you don't get one?? I am going to write everyone I know to tell them that I think that CELEBRITY SHOULD TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY for my loss of almost $2,000 to expedite the visas, and my guests' loss of $170. each. I always thought a lot of RCCL, and felt that since Celebrity was supposed to be their higher end, the service, food, etc., would be also. IT IS NOT!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
Although my individual ratings might not reflect my overall 'Very Good' rating, my Wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise with Celebrity and have booked another for early 2018. Ashore, the trip was made special by the ... Read More
Although my individual ratings might not reflect my overall 'Very Good' rating, my Wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise with Celebrity and have booked another for early 2018. Ashore, the trip was made special by the ports of call, especially Japan and Hong Kong. On-board, our fellow guests, comprising of Americans, Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Scandinavians and 'fellow' Europeans including Brits off course, made for an interesting and very pleasant social experience and one which we thoroughly enjoyed, thanks to everyone! The ship was much bigger than we have been used to, but the extra size and amenities were a welcome discovery and we never felt too claustrophobic especially on days at sea. However, Celebrity want to look to Thomson Cruises for instance, for food that actually tastes of something, the food on board, although featuring many of the World's cuisines was very bland at times. Also cleanliness, our cabin was clean enough, but some of the public areas were in need of proper cleaning. The crew were satisfactory, but sometimes a little surly and unhelpful, Guest Relations being a chief culprit. Comparing Celebrity to Thomson cruises once more, the latter's staff are generally always helpful & amazingly cheerful and there always seems to be an army of staff cleaning too! So, don’t be put off booking with Celebrity for one moment, but do please note my concerns. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
The best thing about this cruise we thought was the exciting ports. After that, there was nothing good about this ship. Neither the ship nor the staff.....No one smiled and clearly they were over worked and tired. Not enough help on ... Read More
The best thing about this cruise we thought was the exciting ports. After that, there was nothing good about this ship. Neither the ship nor the staff.....No one smiled and clearly they were over worked and tired. Not enough help on board..can you imagine that??? They always have enough help that seem to trip over each other. Clearly cost cutting.. Let me explain some..How many times have seasoned travelers noticed the level of help attending to their needs.? We were never asked if we needed more of anything in the Ocean View cafe, and the wiping down of tables were done with dirty cloths and way to much bleach smells all through the buffet line....o.k...so this may not be to much of a turn off to some, but he smells throughout the ship of sewer order was simply unacceptable. Celeberty made money on me...I simply could not eat while on the ship..only off the ship in ports..It was a very difficult trip . After almost a year after our trip, I can still smell the sewer and bleach in my nostrils....Dramatic ....maybe, but It has made my lust for travel dulled to say the least. How many of us look forward to the trip,entertainment, food ..drinks etc??? We were so bored on sea days..that never happens...but seems the cruise line was and is on sever budgets to make a bigger profit each year. The couple who gave a so called lectuer about a few ports only showed slides of there experiences and no information that would help us generally about places to visit or eat on shore...very boring..did no one see his program before hiring them?? There are a few reviews on this site that actually say it all..so I won't take the time.....but, It became completely clear that Celeberty does not pay the fees to dock at the better docks , like in hong kong..Last time we docked a year before we docked at the fabulous port that allows you to get right off the ship directly into the massive and exciting mall, and enjoy the night electronic light show from the deck. Not one ship was docked in that slip this year.....The fact that we were docked half way around the island and spent over $100 between cabs and hop on bus to get into the town area...also, since budgets are Celeberty's concerns we were told that the cruise before us did not stop in Bali...the highlight for many people who chose that cruise. Other ships were docked there, but Celebrity seemed not to want to pay for dockage and suggested it could not safely dock..hummmmm?????Same story in Shanghi..we could not get off the ship until about 11:00 and only left about 5 hours to enjoy a massive city. We were told the government wanted $50,000 more to allow us to disembark on time...hummm? but....bottom line for me was we traveled half way across the world and we did not learn much at all..My fault..we should have hired private tours in each port. The level of tour guide Celebrity hired was middle of the road. They could have hired better from the pool of guides all cruise companies hire from, but did not. I understand much better now that the cruise companies scare you saying if you can't get back to the ship on time with private guides they will simply leave..they need to sell the tours of course......well....if you have enough money to get there in the first place you may have enough money in an emergency to get to the next port.... all in all..We will never go on an old ship again,and We will be much smarter than last time . Hireing private guides that flood each port is a good way to go unless you take care of it before you leave home. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Perhaps my expectations were tainted by a cruise on the Eclipse back in May because I found the cabins and the wall veneer damaged alongside the beds (although you wouldn't have seen this if the beds hadn't of been brought ... Read More
Perhaps my expectations were tainted by a cruise on the Eclipse back in May because I found the cabins and the wall veneer damaged alongside the beds (although you wouldn't have seen this if the beds hadn't of been brought together to form a double which also showed pieced in bits of veneer in a slightly different colour) and the bathroom mirrors missing their silver backing along the bottom and in the corners. The shower cubicle had traces of black mould and you couldn't adjust the shower rail to fix the shower heads position in place and had to rely on getting it to balance in just the right place to give you a continuous soaking. Unfortunately the cabin sprung a leak one morning after just getting up fortunately and deposited yellow water on the pillow end of the bed! This was sorted very quickly, however the bed side cabinet still showed signs of this when we left the ship with a caked in mess around the table lamp. As for the cruise and the ports, these were great, although service levels on the ship, which was tired in many places were not the best I have experienced with other competing premium cruise lines providing better all round service or in fact when compared to the Eclipse, however the this ship probably had some of the best senior officers that we have sailed with and who seemed to look forward to mingling with passengers. Food choice was what I would call adequate and edible in the main dining room, however, it very much depended on what you ordered as our table never had a bad rare or medium steak and the food was on many occasions just warm which possibly could be accounted for by the occasional slow table service. One thing that was great though, was the fact that Celebrity finally got the 144 hour transit free visa process in place for the Shanghai disembarkation. Chinese officials sailed and processed the passports on our only sea day from Sth Korea and we never had a problem getting off the ship. In all, I found the ship a mixed bag, tired in places, excellent entertainment and stressed crew especially in the coffee bar area. Overall I rate the ship 3 star, because it wasn't an outstanding experience as a so called 5 star should be, but that could be because after sailing now for many years, that my expectations are that much greater! Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We had heard good things about Celebrity but sadly it did not live up to them. We booked Aqua Class for the so called exclusive Blu restaurant at which you just turn up - no need to book. What they did not make clear was that there was ... Read More
We had heard good things about Celebrity but sadly it did not live up to them. We booked Aqua Class for the so called exclusive Blu restaurant at which you just turn up - no need to book. What they did not make clear was that there was not enough tables for all the Aqua class guests, so 5 nights out of the 11 we turned up and were given a bleeper and told to go away until a table became free - totally unacceptable when we had paid extra for exclusivity. We dined elsewhere for 2 nights so only 3 nights out of 11 could we 'just turn up'. When challenged as to why we could not reserve a table we were told its not company policy. Ha! The safety drill was a farce - we got held up in one of the lounges for nearly an hour while they were looking for people who hadn't turned up - not our fault but not allowed to leave. The disembarkation was a mess - no instructions where to go and no-one at the portside to check in with for our transfer. On the first day we booked a shore excursion we arrived at the assembly point and only then told we needed our passports to go ashore - no warning beforehand. As we were as far away on the ship as you could possibly be without falling into the sea this involved a run the entire length of the ship - twice! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
SHIP’S CONDITION Despite substantially advertized efforts of “solsticizing” the Millennium, her age shows up in various places. I didn’t specifically look for the signs of aging, just noticed things here and there. It is clearly ... Read More
SHIP’S CONDITION Despite substantially advertized efforts of “solsticizing” the Millennium, her age shows up in various places. I didn’t specifically look for the signs of aging, just noticed things here and there. It is clearly seen in quiet corners, and – sadly – in the staterooms. Glasstop table in our stateroom had a heavily rusted base ring; multiple hinges in the wardrobe were refit (yet, all the doors were loose), balcony door sill was rusty and painted over oh so many times, and the stateroom a/c unit behind the toilet wall was making all sorts of weird and strong noises during the whole cruise – despite continuous complaints, the techs were unable to fix that... However, understanding that the ship is in service for 16 years, and honoring the efforts of the crew to keep it neat and clean, one should be quite impressed with the overall Millie’s condition. Public areas – stateroom hallways, staircases, foyers, bars, spa, I-café, etc. – were refurbished impressively nice. One thing that sells Millie’s aging easily is the condition of the bathrooms, both in the staterooms and in the public areas. Outdated fixtures and sinks, cheap mall-like separation walls, last century floor tiles, and wall décor is nowhere near the elegant and modern bathrooms on S-class ships (we have sailed on every S-class ship, just for the record; we also cruised on Millie’s sister ship, Infinity). I am vouching a 100% for environment protection, but I kinda doubt that installing a sulfur oxide scrubber in ship’s exhaust system during the cruise is a sizeable effort in that direction, specifically if this makes the top deck messy and unsightly. If anything, it could’ve been done during recent Millie’s dry-docking. MDR smells. Period. This is another sign of the ship’s long-time wear-and-tear. CREW Only positive things to say, from the Captain, who I met literally in every corner of the ship (e.g., wedding chapel, running deck, medical bay, hallways, basketball court converted into construction site for scrubber...) to our stateroom attendant to our waiter. One of the tests that I have on every cruise ship for the waiting staff is a request of something atypical, like asking to get me a glass of tomato juice during breakfast. It is not a standard item, and it takes for a waiter a trip to the galley to pour it there and to bring it back to the table. It may take somewhere from 10 mins to eternity to get it, depending on the class of the cruise line, eagerness of the crew member to serve, etc. ... but on Millie I was getting it within 10 mins every time. Reception staff was always helpful and resourceful; very refreshing and pleasant experience. This is the first time that we saw a decimation of the stateroom attending staff on Celebrity ship: now they have only a single attendant, no assistants anymore, and with 10+ cabins to clean, it is a tough chore for one guy! DINING Let me correct this. If you are not forking extra dineros for specialty restaurants, or you are not in the suites or Aqua Spa level cabins, it is not a DINING any longer on Celebrity. It is a good level Applebee’s or Red Lobster’s eating, with rare infusions of occasionally tasty dishes from good old days of Celebrity’s glory. Food quality and taste on Celebrity cruise line ships continues to deteriorate. It is amazing how it varies even among supposedly similar menus on S-class ships, but Millie’s galley is far behind those. However, if you have a good, experienced and – importantly – honest waiter, you still could find a good meal choice. Fish was prepared better than meat/poultry on this cruise, and seafood choice was also wider. Desserts were (again) of Applebee’s level. Lavazza coffee was noticed only by the brand-labeled paper cups and coffee-making machines; other than that, the taste of the regular coffee across the whole ship was close to atrocious, unless you are paying extra in Bistro on 5. (Even in the Captain’s Club Breakfast Break (we are Elite members) we had – twice! - a Cappuccino with extra espresso shot that resembled an espresso machine wash-down water...). The sitting capacity of Millie’s Oceanview Café is adequate and even bigger than on S-ships (proportionately to the number of guests), but the design of “all-in-line” stations is outdated and needs to be changed to the “islands” like on S-ships. It was easy to find a table during breakfast or lunchtime, but lines – especially to cooking stations (omelets, pasta etc.) – were often too long. To summarize Millie’s eating experience, for a regular folk who does not want to pay additional fees it is not a great one. Yes there are nice dining options, but it costs extra, and paying 90 bucks for a couple in order to get a tasty dinner on the top of what you already paid for your cruise meals is outrageous. I only can compare this with Oceania ships, where specialty restaurants come free, and btw, Oceania’s Red Ginger restaurant beats Sushi on Five hands down even without 45$ pp surcharge. There was an incident related to how eagerly the specialty restaurants do want to get their seats filled. On second day, we received a flyer in the cabin (by the way, the amount of paper that is wasted on ANY cruise line for this useless and annoying advertisement method is incredible... If this stops, and the amount of food waste is halved, why would Millie need a SO2 scrubber? :)) – so we received a flyer with Celebrity Today newspaper that offered a bundled deal (89$ pp) for three dinners at all three specialty restaurants. When I called to inquire, I was told that it was the deal “from previous cruise” and that now the price is $109 pp... Huh??! One additional thing to mention. This was not a booze cruise by far, but it was quite noticeable that during the whole cruise the bar staff was pushing VERY hard to sell the beverage packages. To say the least, the first thing that was literally shoved in our faces once we stepped onboard was an iPad with beverage package “promotions” – in fact, the bar staff guy almost grabbed the stateroom keys from our hands to “enroll” us... EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION Embarkation in Yokohama was flawless. Disembarkation in Shanghai was disorganized, although ship’s personnel tried to help local operators as much as they could. We purchased Celebrity’s pier-to-city transfer for $54 pp, and instead of 9:30 am per schedule we disembarked about an hour later and still had to wait in the “sardine corner” of terminal for another 20 mins until being escorted to the bus. PORTS We checked the excursions available from Celebrity beforehand. The story is standard: hugely overpriced and not really diversified or attractive by content. Example: Celebrity excursion from Kobe to Kyoto was priced at about $240 pp and included only Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizu-Dera as highlights plus lunch, all for 9 hrs with trip on Shinkansen (bullet train). For comparison, we hired a local driver-guide with minivan from MK Taxi Co. in Kyoto for 5 of us, and paid about $600 for everything, including lunch in fabulous traditional Japanese restaurant in Gion district. We saw four UNESCO heritage sites, including Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizu-Dera, plus Gion district in 6 hrs (not counting the train time to/from Kyoto) and rode a super-rapid train Kobe-Kyoto for 1/4 of the price of Shinkansen, spending about 45 min each way. This is certainly not the first and not the last complaint about the cost and the quality of Celebrity’s excursions. Actually, for many other cruise lines it is even more absurd, but I won’t go yapping further about this – it seems that cruise companies really don’t care. I also do understand that this is a matter of personal preference. What bothers me more concerning shore excursions on Celebrity ships is the lack of in-depth information about the ports of call. This can and should be organized better. The on-board TV programming about ports of call seems to be done by middle-school students, very generic and oblivious. Oceania ships have local guides coming onboard right after ship is cleared, so cruisers could consult on the localities BEFORE they go ashore. You may say it is not that important, but it is: you learn what to take ashore additionally or how to dress appropriately for, say, temple visits etc. – all that before you leave the ship. Small but often valuable detail. TOKYO/YOKOHAMA This is a very popular destination and many things are said by others, I don’t want to be redundant. If you stay overnight onboard in Yokohama like we did, it’s a nice city on its own, and lots of places are just next to the international terminal. Train system is extremely useful and efficient, it is not that complicated to learn on the spot how to buy tickets (English-written instructions are available in the ticket machine touch screens), and Japanese people are so polite and helpful that even if they do not speak English well, they sympathize your trouble and will go a long mile (sometimes literally walking with you to point out!) to help. We bought SUICA IC cards, rechargeable electronic multi-pass tickets that we used everywhere when traveled by trains or when bought stuff in the Family Mart stores, this is a very good way to spare the hassle of figuring out the fare etc. You can charge the card with up to 20,000 JPY. SHIMIDZU-SHIZUOKA This was a relatively short stop, only 7 hrs, and we sailed off at 3 pm. The highly touted attraction there is the magnificent view of Mt. Fuji, which is considered a premier spot for all of Japan for this purpose... Millie clipped the tails of two typhoons during this trip, and naturally, except a couple of days in the middle of the cruise (Kagoshima/Nagasaki and somewhat sunny day in Busan) the rest was just rain, often drenching, like in Shimizu... So no Fuji in site anywhere. But forget Fuji! I wanted – for years – to visit Kunozan Toshogu Shinto shrine, one of the sacred places in Japanese history, the place of the first mighty shogun of Edo era, Tokugava Ieyasu. It was a dreamlike experience, because when we reached the shrine, the rain started pouring crazy, and except us, there were only three other people in the whole complex. One thing related to the early departure (3 pm) from Shimizu. All-aboard was 2:45 pm, many people came early and conveniently wanted to have lunch onboard. I have never seen such a stampede in the Oceanview café – it seemed that everyone on board decided to eat at that time. I saw folks taking plates down a deck and eating in the library (I kid you not). Naturally, lines to the stations were mile-long and it looked like café staff was unprepared to that – more popular dishes were flying off the stations, and replacements were not hurried in... KOBE First day we took a super-rapid train to Himeji, where the famous Himeji castle is placed. Two stops on port liner train took us to Sannomiya station, from where we went to Himeji. From Himeji station you can walk straight to the Himeji castle (20-25 min walk). Very well-preserved and unique site. Highly recommend for those who likes Japanese samurai movies :) You walk six stories up through a wooden maze of the rooms breathing history in the palace... For a second day we booked the excursion in Kyoto (see above). Incredible place. I cannot name any other city in the world that has over a dozen UNESCO Heritage Sites, and many of them are within a walking distance. Surreal tranquility of ancient but well-kept gardens. Millennium-old amazing stories and traditions. You breathe all that in Kyoto. KOCHI Nothing spectacular, except we happened to arrive during their local holiday and the city was booming with crowd plowing through the mega-store (three huge malls linked with underground passages). Sushi, bakery, ramen, udon, sweets of all kinds... Everybody was so nice and kind! They had a few dozens of elderly volunteers who navigated Millennium cruiser’s way through the city – they wore yellow jackets, seen from afar. KAGOSHIMA Spent a few hrs downtown; neat port city, amazing view of the active volcano Sakurajima from the ship. Last eruption – February 2016! There is a nice market downtown, and a XVI century old castle nearby, well kept and impressive. NAGASAKI Very touching welcome on arrival from local tourist board. The top attraction for this strategic Japanese port is A-bomb memorial and Peace Park. I did not want to see that. Personal reasons. We opted out to walk the line of temples and cemeteries along Teramachi, Temple Street. Amazing experience on early Sunday morning. Again, as at Kunozan Toshogu in Shimizu, only a few people where with us there, locals who came to prey or to visit their loved ones... Rich history (I was moved mightily when read a few obituaries in English next to the tombs, for famous locals... They talk about times when Dutch and Brits were fighting to establish the control over the port!). Unbelievable spirituality. JEJU ISLAND Miserable weather the whole day. Nothing close to Hawaii, although the island is claimed to be Korean Hawaii :). We hired a cab straight from port and went around, visiting a few places of various interests, including Loveland sculpture park. Quite unusual way of inspiring young Koreans to have more children. Waterfalls seemed to be popular as well, but they are relatively far from port. (Big difference between Korea and Japan is an often-cold reaction of Koreans related to your attempt to ask the direction...) BUSAN For us, it was an incredible discovery of the modern, massively populated, well-developed city-port. Great organization of free shuttle service to downtown – no waiting in line at all. Haeundae I’Park complex is like a snapshot from futuristic sci-fi movie. Google it, you’d be stunned. We took a 2hr City Bus tour, very much recommended! SHANGHAI Again, this is a well-documented point in many itineraries. We stayed post-cruise for three days there. The Bund, temples, noodles, soup dumplings, People’s Park, shopping. Unfortunately, Saturday October 1 was the first of the National Day holidays in China, and Shanghai streets were jammed with visitors. Scary experience of being caught underground, during the closure of Nanjing Rd East subway station in the evening – the police were shutting down the exits one by one, and the crowd was frantically trying to get out at the nearest exit, with no avail... Qi Pu market is a mecca for cheap clothes, bags etc. in Shanghai. Went there just to soak in the experience. Interesting trend: once you are “glued” by the street picker, a man or a woman who aggressively calls you to see “el cheapo” bags or watches or clothes, he/she will follow you anywhere in Qi Pu, and try to lure you to his/her “sister”-“brother”-“untie” stalls. It is a fascinating tactics to watch :) SUMMARY Great itinerary often makes for a great cruise, even if the ship is not perfect. This was exactly the case with us. We are devoted Celebrity cruisers, and will sail with Celebrity again, but on S-class ships. Millie was a pride of Celebrity for years, and if tradition needs to be held high, she needs to be fixed well, not just brushed on the surface. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
This was my first cruise. I was so excited All my cruise friends had raved about cruising -the food,the intertainment etc. Here is my reflections: The food was vile. The service terrific. How difficult it must be to serve food that ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was so excited All my cruise friends had raved about cruising -the food,the intertainment etc. Here is my reflections: The food was vile. The service terrific. How difficult it must be to serve food that isn't up to standard in the main dining rooms and deal with the complaints. The new trend now is to push passengers to the speciality restaurants. The Canyon Ranch Spa was terrific. No need to pack anything nice to wear. I did wear all my pretty dresses to dinner,but everyone else wore shorts. I especially enjoyed (not) the wife beaters at breakfast. I liken this experience to the deregulation of the airlines. If you want good food you will have to pay for it. Guest services and porter staff outstanding. Entertainment good: As far as theatre is concerned. However, there wasn't all that much. The casino could not be operated due to Japanese laws. So knowing this information ahead of time, it would have been nice to have something else to do. Movies??? Trivia at ten not so exciting. Cleanliness of ship, not so much. I was told not to expect much as the ship was 16 years old. Excuse me, hotels are old,but there are PIP standards that must be met In order to keep the franchise. There was a terrible smell in my cabin that could not be eradicated. Cracks in the tiles as well. Shore excursions were okay, but very expensive when alternatives are cheaper and cover the same or more. The Captain and his crew were amazing. We encountered two typhoons during our cruise. Never felt unsafe. It is my understanding that the Celebrity had once been a family owned enterprise. Standards were high all over. Now the celebrity is owned by Royal Caribbean, No longer are there high standards. I worked in the airline industry for many years. Passengers dressed to board a plane and travel eregulation changed all that. Peanuts and no food is now the standard. Looks like the same occurrence has taken place in the cruise industry. A shame Would I go again. Yes but my expectations would be much lower. It was the best and cheapest way to see Japan. However, if I consider another cruise I will ask how old the ship is and who owns it. I will look for other cruisers who will tell me about the standards. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
This was our second Celebrity Cruise, and it was chosen for its Ports of call rather than the Cruise Line although the ports of call in Japan and South Korea were fascinating the weather could have been better. Quite a few passengers ... Read More
This was our second Celebrity Cruise, and it was chosen for its Ports of call rather than the Cruise Line although the ports of call in Japan and South Korea were fascinating the weather could have been better. Quite a few passengers including ourselves could not understand why Celebrity was caring out this cruise at this time of year as it was the start of the Typhoon season ?. It turned out it was repositioning from Alaska. On arrival at check in we were told that our specifically booked inside cabin 9115 in the middle of the ship on a higher deck, had been upgraded to a ocean view 2023 on deck 2 bow !!!, and they called this an upgrade. After a heated discussion we eventually got the cabin we had booked but every time the Customer Service staff left us some one tried to sell us drinks, restaurant, spa or excursions packages not one but half a dozen times. Not the best way to deal with upset customers. Our cabin was as we had booked, but bed linen was worn and threadbare, dust, dirt and previous passengers tablets found on the floor and having to ask Cabin steward to restock toiletries!. Not what we would expect from a 5 Star Cruise Company ?. Meals in main restaurant ranged from very good to dire with the Celebrity Classic Meals being very good, while the daily restaurant menu was often bland and tasteless especially the ethnic meals, we often wondered if the Chefs ever tasted the food ? because if they did they would not have served them. Cafeteria was the only venue open for Lunch and often closed before Celebrity Organised Shore Tours returned to the ship, showing a total lack of coordinator between departments. Entertainment again ranged from very good to embarrassingly poor, and daytime activities for those who did not go ashore were non existent. Customer service and quality of service with the exception of out waiter Jorge was non existent, and to added $12.50 dollars per person per day gratuities and 18% on to your drinks etc. bills added insult to injury. I should point out that my background is over 50 years in the hospitality industry at a executive level and so I know what I am talking about, and we have done in excess of 20 cruises. We were not impressed by our first Celebrity cruise on the Eclipse in Europe, but our tour operator had said we would definitely be impressed with a Long Haul Celebrity cruise!. Wrong, we will never use this company again and its Chic Elegant replacement of Formal nights is a FARCE. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
Was an awsome cruise , we loved Japan ,so clean and well mannered people .No Graffiti,no scateboards , best behaved kids i have ever seen. Cabin ( 1112 ) was clean and modern . Best cabin stewart ever . We hit 2 Typhoons but ... Read More
Was an awsome cruise , we loved Japan ,so clean and well mannered people .No Graffiti,no scateboards , best behaved kids i have ever seen. Cabin ( 1112 ) was clean and modern . Best cabin stewart ever . We hit 2 Typhoons but captain manouvered boat around both of them, witth just a few bumps. Cruise Directoe Steve from Canada was very approachable and knowledgeble ,he did an outstanding job. We loved our morning Lattes at the Cafe el Bacha verymorning Danella and Natasha Barbera and Brigita where super waiters. Food in Blu was delicious well prepared and well presented , loved my shrimp cocktails and french Onion soup,was so much more refined than fighting the hordes at to Buffet . South Korea was also very nice. Debark in China was long and tedeous, too much security at Airport , Transfer to Airport was late leaving and poorly arranged . Will not fly home from China ever again . Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
the ship is older much to my disappoinment.the food was ok the tours were ok the disembarkation was long the entertanment was ok nothing to do around the ship when at sea not long enough at some ports .in some of the halls were smelly they ... Read More
the ship is older much to my disappoinment.the food was ok the tours were ok the disembarkation was long the entertanment was ok nothing to do around the ship when at sea not long enough at some ports .in some of the halls were smelly they really support drinking even if you have the drink package by triying to upgrade you to a higher package.the day of dembarkation when i came to pick up my passport it seem to be misplaced the lady seemed to be confused about where it was she looked everywhere then she started handing me one from India and i told her does that look like me then she handed me one from Canada and i again told her does that look like me.meantime the lines were getting longer and the lady behind me asked what was what was going on I told her they had misplaced my passport and i wasn't leaving without finally after about 15 minutes she found it in the same box she had looked in the first place all she said was a simply i'm sorry> Read Less
38 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Japan and a little bit of China After having two Japan cruises cancelled by Celebrity, we finally made it to Japan, with a touch of China. It turned out to be one of our favorite trips. We very much liked Japan, and its people. The ... Read More
Japan and a little bit of China After having two Japan cruises cancelled by Celebrity, we finally made it to Japan, with a touch of China. It turned out to be one of our favorite trips. We very much liked Japan, and its people. The people were friendly and many were very helpful to us. The country was clean, with no trash on the street or graffiti on bridges or buildings. The people were polite and generally dress well with not grunge. The country functioned very well, drivers seemed to obey the traffic laws, the trains ran on time and we felt safe walking the streets, even at night. TOKYO We arrived in Tokyo, Narita airport on October 17; eight days prior to our October 25 cruise that was more in Japan than China. The worst thing about the trip was the long flights to and from East Asia. We did have a direct flight on Delta from Atlanta to Narita. Still, 14 hours on an airplane was like a marathon, it just never seems to end. However, end it did at 3:30 PM on a Saturday. Fortunately, Japan’s wonderful infrastructure included the Narita Express, a fast train directly to Tokyo Station, with trains about every half hour. A one-way ticket was about 3000 yen or $26. The trip took less than an hour. On the sound advice of my Son, Jack, who was in Tokyo on business a few months ago, we booked a hotel room at the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Marunouchi, which was adjacent to Tokyo Station. This allowed us to avoid the cost of a more expensive taxi. However, we had to find our hotel. I knew from a map of the station that the hotel was just north of the station. Getting there was more difficult, since the station was huge. We found the east exit and turned left, but there were so many skyscrapers in the way. We did not see the hotel. Fortunately, a young Japanese woman stopped, on her own, to help us, after a search on her smart phone gave us the proper directions. We found the Japanese people constantly seemed to be helpful during this trip. The hotel was located on the top floors of a skyscraper, with the lobby on the 27th floor. Our room happened to be on the same floor, with a nice view of the city. Booking this hotel turned out to be a great decision, due to the location, reasonable price ($230 per night with a nice breakfast included), and very helpful staff. Another interesting feature was that both the hotels we used in Japan had vending machines that included beer. For $3 you could purchase a night cap instead of spending $10 in the hotel bar for the same beer. The hotel staff was great in assisting me in contacting our tour company to reconfirm our local tours and determine where to pick up the bus for the tours. The room we booked included a double bed, desk and chair, but was not large enough for another chair. This was not a problem, since we spend little time in our room. Our room was on the same floor as the lobby and restaurant. We had a buffet breakfast every morning with a choice of Japanese or Western food. We enjoyed the Western food, which was generally good, but the Japanese don’t cook their scrambled eggs as much as we do in the USA. Still, we had great choices with eggs, bacon, sausage, croissants, breads, yogurt, fruit, cereal and more. We stayed there five days then went on a tour to Kyoto for two nights, returning to the hotel for one more night prior to our cruise. The staff had already placed our left luggage in our hotel room prior to our arrival from Kyoto. The staff helped us with coordinating with our tour company as well as assisting in navigating the huge Tokyo Station. Breakfast was good with a choice of Japanese or Western. I only wish they cooked the scrambled eggs a bit more. The hotel was perfect for our visit. The Narita Express took us to nearby Tokyo Station upon arrival, so we avoided an expensive taxi. Also, the hotel is near the Ginza district. We took full day tours every day but one in Tokyo, which included a very good Japanese lunch, so in the evening, after two healthy meals, we were not terribly hungry. Therefore, we didn’t spend much on evening meals. One night we had pizza in an Italian restaurant on the third floor of the building that included the hotel and the other nights we ate at restaurants in Tokyo Station. There are many to choose from and we always found very good food, without spend a lot. Japanese beer was good and we sampled Sapporo and Kurin brands. One evening, we were comparing the English menus of two restaurants in Tokyo Station and noted “pork rectum” as one of the choices on one restaurant’s menu. We elected to eat at the other restaurant. That evening, Ginny noted this even on Facebook and my Daughter, Risa, who lived in Korea (with US Army) indicated that this dish was a delicacy in East Asia. Still, we had a laugh about this. Several months prior to our trip, I had booked tours with Viator for our stay in Japan. We have had success with Viator in the past, especially in Asia. Viator contracts out for all its tours. All our tours were provided by JTB Sunrise Tours. All our tours were excellent, with well informed and personable guides. Each day tour included a very good Japanese lunch that exceeded our expectations every time. Our first tour was on our first full day in Tokyo, Sunday. We slept about 12 hours that night recovering from the jet lag. We had to walk to meeting point at the south end of Tokyo Station for our pickup. We were taken to a central bus terminal, where we were assigned to our tour bus for the day. This process takes about half an hour or more, since there are many tours and many buses involved. Our first tour was the Panoramic Tokyo Day Tour - Meiji Shrine, Asakusa Temple and Tokyo Bay Cruise. The tour included the Meiji Shrine, Japan's most famous Shinto shrine, the Imperial Palace garden, and the Asakusa Kannon Temple (Senso-ji), Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple Our bus drove past the shopping areas of Nakamise Shopping Street and the Ginza district. We then took a short cruise of Tokyo Bay. The Meiji Shrine website explains the significance of the shrine: Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is called Japan's ancient original religion, and it is deeply rooted in the way of Japanese life. Shinto has no founder, no holy book, and not even the concept of religious conversion, but Shinto values for example harmony with nature and virtues such as "Magokoro (sincere heart)". In Shinto, some divinity is found as Kami (divine spirit), or it may be said that there is an unlimited number of Kami. You can see Kami in mythology, in nature, and in human beings. From ancient times, Japanese people have felt awe and gratitude towards such Kami and dedicated shrines to many of them. This shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken (their tombs are in Kyoto). Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After their demise, people wished to commemorate their virtues and to venerate them forever. So they donated 100,000 trees from all over Japan and from overseas, and they worked voluntarily to create this forest. Thus, thanks to the sincere heart of the people, this shrine was established on November 1, 1920. The shrine was somewhat crowded, since it was Sunday, but fortunately, we saw two wedding parties that day, as well as several Shinto priests in traditional dress. It was a great way to start our tour of Tokyo. Next, we visited the Imperial Palace garden, which are on the grounds of the Emperor’s palace. The palace was on the site of Edo Castle, originally occupied by the Shogun. The restoration of the Emperor to power resulted in the Shogun vacating the palace for the Emperor. Entrance to the palace itself is only allowed one day a year and not for the general public. Entering the Palace grounds, we passed over a huge moat and then through the massive 500 year old walls in order to visit the gardens. The site itself was not that overwhelming, but it due to its historical importance, it is a must see when visiting Tokyo. Our next site was the Asakusa Kannon Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. According to a legend, in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple. Beyond the Hozomon Gate are the temple's main hall and a five storied pagoda. Destroyed in the war, the buildings were reconstructions. The Asakusa Shrine, built in the year 1649 by Tokugawa Iemitsu, stands only a few dozen meters to the left of the temple's main building. We saw a lot of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan, and were told by guides that Japan has 127 million people, including 100 million worshiping Shinto and 100 million Buddhists. Japanese generally find not incompatibility in worships both faiths. Shinto emphasizes life, while Buddhism emphasizes the afterlife. On our way to lunch, we passed through Ginza, as shopping district, close to Tokyo Station. The tour then took us to Tokyo Bay, were we took a short cruise, where we could see the skyline and a new shopping area called Odaiba, located on an artificial island created in the past for a fort to protect the bay from invaders. After the amazing first three sites, the cruise and visit to Odaiba was a step down. All in all, the tour was excellent and I would recommend it as an introduction to Tokyo. The next day, we had no tour planned. We did a little shopping, looking around Tokyo Station and walked to Ginza. Going through a nice department store, we could see that the Japanese like name brand designer items, whether luggage, clothing, jewelry or whatever. The prices we saw in the stores were very high. We found a nearby post office and mailed some postcards to family. Most ATM machines in Japan are not compatible with ATM cards from the USA, except at the post office. I was so concerned about not having enough cash that I purchased $900 worth of yen and $100 worth of Hong Kong dollars before the trip. As it turned out we had about $200 worth of yen left after leaving Japan. We used a little to buy some New Taiwan dollars and exchanged the rest back to US dollars before we left for home. On Tuesday we were on another JTB Sunrise tour, Kamakura, Yokohama and Tokyo Bay Day Trip from Tokyo. The tour included the Great Buddha of Kamakura at Kotoku-in. Kamakura's historic Hasedera Temple and Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. The huge Buddha at Kamakura dates from 1252. It was originally housed inside a temple, but a huge tsunami washed away the wooden structure sometime in the late 15th century, and the statue has sat out in nature ever since. The Hasedera Temple was equally impressive. The site was ancient and included a large hand carved wooden statue. The official website provided an interesting history: The Origins of Kamakura’s Hasedera Temple According to the legend, in 721 AD the pious monk Tokudo Shonin discovered a large camphor tree in the mountain forests near the village of Hase in the Nara region. He realized the trunk of the tree was so large that it provided enough material for carving two statues of the eleven-headed Kannon. The statue he commissioned to be carved from the lower part of the truck was enshrined in Hasedera Temple near Nara; the statue from the upper half (actually the larger of the two) was thrown into the sea with a prayer that it would reappear to save the people. Fifteen years later in 736 on the night of June 18, it washed ashore at Nagai Beach on the Miura Peninsula not far from Kamakura, sending out rays of light as it did. The statue was then brought to Kamakura and a temple was constructed to honor it. Since time immemorial, Hasedera Temple has been known as the 4th station among the 33 holy places in the Kanto area. We found this site to be amazing, with beautiful gardens and a nice view of the Ocean. Our final site was the Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. These gardens were more amazing than the Hasedera Temple. The gardens were donated by a wealth beneficiary to preserve ancient buildings from around Japan. The gardens and ancient building are set in well-designed locations. It was another example of fantastic Japanese gardens that we saw on our trip. We never tired of visiting these gardens. Again, our tour included an excellent Japanese lunch. On Wednesday, we took another JTB Sunrise tour to Nikko, north of Tokyo. Despite the wonderful sites we had seen already, Nikko proved to be our favorite day tour in Tokyo. Our tour included the amazing Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, and the Kirifuri Waterfall from an observation deck in Nikko Park. The official website describes the Toshogu Shrine, as follows: The Toshogu Shrine is the main attraction of Nikko. The Shinto shrine is dedicated to the kami (spirit) of Ieyasu (d. 1616), who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate, a military dynasty that ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. To create a worthy shrine for the shogun, 15,000 craftsmen worked for two years, using 2.5 million sheets of gold leaf. The enshrinement of Ieyasu's spirit is reenacted twice each year in the Procession of the Thousand Warriors. Unlike most Shinto shrines, characterized by minimalist architecture that blends into its surroundings, Toshogu is a riot of color, gold, and carvings, with birds and flowers, dancing maidens, and sages following one another around the buildings. Some visitors find the shrine awe-inspiring and beautiful; others are repelled by the gaudiness. In contrast to the exuberance of the shrine, Ieyasu's mausoleum itself is relatively simple and austere. One of the most famous elements of Toshogu is the Sacred Stable, where a white imperial horse is kept (a gift of New Zealand). The stable's fame derives from the original carving depicting the three wise monkeys, "Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil." Other famous carvings at Toshogu include a sleeping cat and an odd rendering of an elephant by an artist who had apparently never seen one. This site was the most impressive one we visited until Kyoto. It included hundreds of 400 year old cedar trees that were provided by one of the Shogun’s lords. Shogun Tokugawa was known as the first Shogun that brought peace to Japan after many years of infighting by various lords. We found Tokugawa’s footprint in several of the historical sites that we visited in Japan. Next we visited the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, which also had a nice garden. Of course, to go inside the villa, we had to remove our shoes, which we probably did 50 times during our time in Japan. The villa was interesting, but traditional Japanese homes are somewhat Spartan and simple. They are usually made of wood and paper (with all the earthquakes that made sense). Again, we had another great Japanese lunch and finished our tour at the Nikko Park to see the Kirifuri Waterfall. This required a hike along a path through the woods to a viewing platform. The falls were attractive, but not particularly awesome compared to falls we have seen elsewhere. On Thursday we checked out of our hotel, leaving our large suitcases there for our three day trip to Nara and Kyoto. This was another Viator/JTB Sunrise tour that I purchased over the internet prior to our trip. The tour was named Kyoto and Nara 2-Day or 3-Day Rail Tour by Bullet Train from Tokyo. The tour included round trip transportation on the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto, a hotel room at the New Miyako Hotel for two nights, and a half day tour of Nara the first day, then full day tour of Kyoto the second day. The third day we were on our own. Lunch was included the first and second day, as well as breakfast every morning at the hotel. We departed on the bullet train from Tokyo at 9:50AM (a tour representative met us at the meeting point, provided us with tickets and vouchers, guiding us to the train), arriving in Kyoto about Noon. We were escorted to our hotel, the New Miyako Hotel, just across the street from the rail station. NARA AND KYOTO Both cities were former capitals of Japan (capital were the Emperor lived). Our afternoon tour of Nara followed an excellent lunch at our hotel. The bus took about one hour to arrive at Nara. Our first site was the Todaiji Temple, a huge wooden temple with a huge Buddha and several smaller statues. The temple is described, as follows: Todaiji "Great Eastern Temple" is one of Japan's most famous and historically significant temples and a landmark of Nara. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan and grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple's influence on government affairs. Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world's largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall's size. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two Bodhisattvas. The building was impressive, not just in size, but the included statutes and contents. Upon arriving, we passed through the nearby deer park, were hundreds of tame deer were there to greet us. Some in our group purchased food for the deer and feed them. I was satisfied to pet one or two. One problem, with all the deer walking around, we had to watch our step so we didn’t step in the deer manure. Visiting the temple, we encountered awesome statues, many other tourists, as well as worshipers. It was Interesting that the temple included a small gift ship. Next, we visited the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine was originally established in 768; however the buildings have been reconstructed several times. There were a thousand bronze lanterns as well as 2,000 stone lanterns outside the main shrine precinct and along the path leading to the shrine. Also, there was a sacred thousand year old wisteria tree. Our final stop was at Nara Nagomikan, a large building for shopping, filled with tourists. On Friday, we had our full day tour of Kyoto, the long ancient capital of Japan. Our morning tour included Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple) and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The first two sites we encountered massive crowds, including many Japanese school children, most appearing to be grammar school age. Nijo Castle was described as follows: Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). His grandson Iemitsu completed the castle's palace buildings 23 years later and further expanded the castle by adding a five story castle keep. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era, and the castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994. Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense) and some gardens that encircle the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats. This was the first of the castles we visited in Japan. There are not many castles, in Japan compared to Europe. It was a bit refreshing to see a castle after so many temples and shrines. Little did we know that we had many more shrines and temples to see in Japan. We enjoyed seeing them all, but it reminded me of touring Europe, where visiting cathedrals is so common that it is easy to be cathedral saturated. We were definitely shrine and temple saturated after our trip. Nijo Castle was interesting with its palace, walls and grounds. We visited Ninomaru Palace, which served as the residence and office of the shogun during his visits to Kyoto. The palace survives in its original form, and consists of multiple separate buildings that are connected with each other by corridors with so called nightingale floors. The floors were constructed so as to squeak like a nightingale, to act as an alarm that someone was approaching. This operated as a security device protecting the shogun from assassins. The garden was impressive with its well laid out stones, plants and lakes. The Golden Pavilion was our next temple to visit. Its beauty was amazing, especially when viewed on the other side of the lake, where its reflected image is apparent. Unfortunately, hundreds of other people felt the same way and our viewing was limited to a few minutes, couple of snaps of the camera and negotiating the crowds out of the crush. Still, the small temple was most plated in gold and shined magnificently in the sun. This temple is a must see if you come to Kyoto. It is another UNESCO World Heritage site. The Imperial Palace was not so crowded, since it can only be visited by appointment, which our tour company had arranged. We viewed the large structure from the outside as well as inside (shoes off again). We were taken back to the hotel for lunch, which was good, then for three more shrines or temples. Kyoto has a plethora of shrines and temples, many in their original state, since the city was not damaged during WWII. Our afternoon tour included the Hejan Shrine, Sanju Sangendo Hall and Kiyomizu Temple. The Hejan Shrine was only about 100 years old and while impressive, compared to what we had seen and would see later, this shrine was not in my opinion a must see for visitors of Kyoto. The Sanju Sangendo Hall was impressive. The massive wooden hall was a Buddhist Temple including 1001 Buddhas. There was one massive Buddha stature and 1000 others. Also, there were statutes of Buddhist gods. Apparently, the faith has many gods originating from Hinduism, since Buddha was an Indian. No photos were allowed in the temple. It was amazing, but dust from the burning incense was thick. Ginny commented that the whole place needed a good dusting. The Kiyomizu Temple was our final site for the day. The temple is on the eastern side of the city next to the mountains (mountains are everywhere in Japan). The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. We were not allowed to go inside the temple, but the view was good and the temple complex was impressive. It was a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our last day in Kyoto, we were on our own. There were several interesting sites we could have visited, but we chose to do the Philosopher’s Path. The Path is near several shrines or temples. It was described, as follows: The Philosopher's Path is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Usually in early April these trees explode with color, making this one of the city's most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots. Approximately two kilometers long, the path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji. The path gets its name due to Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan's most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University. We took the easy way getting there by taking a taxi to the north end of the path to the Silver Pavilion. The taxi cost about $20 and we could have taken public transportation for less, but didn’t want to bother with changing trains, etc. The Path itself was along a canal in a quiet residential district. Our first temple to visit was the Silver Pavilion, which had never had the silver applied to its exterior like the Golden Pavilion. The most impressive part of this site was the amazing garden. The site was next to where hills started to rise on the eastern side of the city. The grounds were largely covered by moss. This doesn’t sound impressive, but the groundskeepers were appeared to be constantly raking the moss of any leaves or debris, which created an amazing appearance. Of course, there were lakes, beautiful flowers and trees as well. We walked the path and visited a couple of small shrines the arrived at the Eikando, formally known as Zenrinji Temple. The temple did not allow photos inside. There were attractive rock gardens in courtyards, inside the temple. There was a pagoda and a platform (many steps to get there) were we took photos of the city. By the time we reached the end of the path at Nanzenji Temple, we took photos of the exterior and then elected to head back to our hotel. Sightseeing can be tiring and we had done a lot of sightseeing. The taxi back to our hotel was about $14. We relaxed in the hotel for a couple of hours before our train back to Tokyo. Again the tour company had someone to escort us to the rail station and our train. We were back in Tokyo about 9PM, made our way to our hotel, the Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Marunouchi. Checking in was quick and our left luggage was already in our room, which happened to be the same room we had stayed in before. The next day was the start of our cruise. We had signed up for transport to the port at Yokohama with a fellow cruiser, Ron. Green Tomato provided the transport for Ginny and I, it was about $115 total. We could have saved taking the train and then a taxi, but did not want the hassle of dragging luggage on the train. CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM A week prior to flying out to Japan, Celebrity called us offering an upgrade to a sky suite. We had originally booked a balcony. Had we booked a sky suite in the beginning, the price would have been at least double that of a balcony. However, Celebrity offered us an upgrade for a total of $800, which was still a fraction of what we would have paid for a suite in the beginning. We accepted and were moved to cabin 6145, which is one of the higher level sky suites (sky suites are still the entry level suites). The upgrade provided us with two free meals in one of the two Celebrity specialty restaurants, which was worth $180 to $200. Also, we could dine in the new suite restaurant, Luminae. Other benefits included a butler, who brought us tea and snacks about 4pm every afternoon. Checking in at Yokohama was fast and easy, once we discovered there was a short line for suite passengers. Our suite was located next to the huge suite on the aft, port corner of the ship at deck 6. We had one room, which appeared to be about twice the size of a normal balcony cabin, with a balcony quite large (including upright chairs, table and lounge chairs with footstools. Also, the bathroom was large, with a separate tub and shower, double sinks and lots of storage room. We did enjoy the suite, but this cruise was very port intensive and we spent little time there with only four sea days. Even with the benefit of dining in Luminae, we concluded that we would never book a suite outright, due to the cost vs. benefits. Luminae This restaurant was excellent. The food and service was exceptional. Also, over the two weeks, we became acquainted with many others dining there. Having done Aqua class and dined in BLU on one cruise, which we found to be excellent, we found Luminae to be even better than BLU. The food in BLU was closer to what was available in the main dining room, while in Luminae, the food was closer to fine dining. The only disadvantage was that there were fewer choices available on the menu. There were usually about five appetizers and five main courses available. Still, the quality came through and I know that I gained some weight on this cruise (I usually don’t). Another advantage over the MDR was that Luminae was quieter. Breakfast was excellent with a very wide selection. One thing, two years ago we were in BLU and they had Muesli from a cart, where your serving was made to order at your table. We learned that this option was no longer available. Luminae still had muesli, but it was closer to what you could find in the buffet. The staff was excellent and we were served by several different servers, all took good care of us. Plamen was the Maître-de and handled the service quite well. Edwardo was our sommelier, who was excellent. Entertainment The entertainment was generally good, and had some great shows, but Celebrity needs to change its production shows for its singers and dancers more frequently. Some of the shows like IBroadway and Boggietown we have seen on two or three earlier cruises. The singers and dancers were all up to speed in talent, except for one female singer. The guest artists that were excellent were Peter Cutler, Greg Andrew impersonating Elton John and Monique Dehaney. Dan Hamill was good as well as the Rock Rhapsody celebrating the group Queen. We found the ship to be in pretty good shape considering its age. One minor issue was that a spot between the floor tiles in our bathroom kept oozing a sticky substance. Not a bid deal, we put a tissue down from time to time so not to walk on the stuff. Happy Hour We look forward to the happy hour from 5-7PM every evening when elite guests or higher congregate and socialize (with free drinks). On other cruises we have enjoyed the happy hour in the deck 11 bar with its great views. It is great to meet others and socialize. For this cruise, we were issued three vouchers per night and had three bars where we could redeem the vouchers. One bar was the Sunset Bar, which for most of the cruise was too cold to use, the other Rendezvous, which always had loud music so we could not socialize; and last Cellar Masters, which was rather modest in size and a bit understaffed. We understood that the Cosmos bar (forward deck 11 bar) was booked every night by the Park West (art sales group). Many of us thought it was unusual to book the best bar on the ship every night for one group. Still, we meet some great people in Cellar Masters and successfully cashed in our vouchers. SHIMIZU (Mt. Fuji) Our first port was Shimizu, which was near Mt. Fuji. We took the Celebrity excursion Best of Shimizu with Lunch, which was described, as follows: Spend a day exploring Shimizu's unforgettable medieval castle ruins, world-heritage-listed ancient pine grove, exquisite traditional gardens, and more. At Shizuoka City, see Sengen Shrine before heading to Sumpu Park. Sumpu Castle was partially rebuilt after a 1635 fire, and re-opened post WWII as a park. See traditional gardens at Momijiyama Garden. Little rivals Nihondaira Park with its commanding views of Mt. Fuji. Following your Japanese lunch, see Miho no Matsubara, beloved by artists for its gnarled trees and vistas. Highlights: • See Sengen Shrine, ancient Suruga country's main shrine with deep religious support. • Explore Sumpu Park and its 1585-built Sumpu Castle; and Momijiyama Gardens featuring traditional manor house ponds. • Grab your camera for Nihond Nihondaira Park, home to an ancient pine grove overlooking the sea while Fuji towers east. The tour itself and guide were excellent. We visited the castle ruins; with its thick walls and gardens was interesting, and then the Sengen Shrine and another wonder Japanese garden at Momijiyama. The Nihondaira Park was up on a small mountain and had scenic views of the bay and area, but not Mt. Fuji. Miho no Matsubara was near the beach, and the only disappointment was that the view of Mt. Fuji was not good at all. We had a better view of the mountain from our cruise ship early in the morning. Apparently, the best time to view the mountain is early in the morning before the haze thickens. This was an excellent tour, but if you want a better view of Mt. Fuji. We could have taken another excursion or done a tour from Tokyo, where you are taken much closer to the mountain. Still, we did see the mountain. KOBE We arrived in Kobe at 11AM and time for an excursion. The ship docked there overnight, so we had another day as well for sightseeing. Many people on the ship visited nearby Kyoto. I was glad that we visited Kyoto from Tokyo, since the ship’s excursions to Kyoto were about $200. Also, we had two full days in Kyoto as well as half a day in Nara. Our first day we did Highlights of Osaka which included: When it comes to history, Osaka has one of the most fascinating ones of all. See the best of Osaka and learn about its rich past. First, visit the stunning Osaka Castle, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a well-known warlord who ruled the country in the late 16th century. Then, it's on to the revered Sumiyoshi Taisha, the guardian deity for sailors and deity to bring prosperity. See Osaka and all its wonder and glory. Highlights: • Admire old weapons, armors, and folk-life items in the astounding Osaka Castle. • Explore the renowned Sumiyoshi Taisha, the shrine that three million people visit at the beginning of the new year. The Osaka castle was our second castle to visit on our trip. It was reconstructed and we enjoyed the castle (we walked up to the top floor) and its exhibits. Next was the Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine, which was interesting, having L shaped designed buildings. Our second day in Kobe, a group of about 20 of our cruise critic friends did a do it yourself trip to Himeji Castle. The trip was organized by Carole from Ontario, Canada. Carol also organized several tours for the cruise. Ginny and I were on all of Carol’s tours, except for the one at Shanghai. We were one her tour of Nagasaki and both days in Taiwan as well as a do it yourself both days in Hong Kong. Carol had researched our trip, which worked out well. We took the Kobe monorail from the cruise port to the train station nearby, then the train to Himeji. After we exited the Himeji rail station, we could see the huge castle (largest castle in Japan) at the end of the street less than a mile away. The Japan Guide describes the 400 year old castle: Himeji Castle, also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered Japan's most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty and its well preserved, complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles. The castle recently underwent extensive renovation over several years and was fully re-opened to the public in March 2015. Himeji Castle lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. The castle complex as it survives today is over 400 years old and was completed in 1609. It comprises over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths. The castle was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was very impressive and overshadows even the large Osaka Castle. We walked up the wooden stairs several stories to the top floor. The interior was largely wooden with no furniture, but did have an occasional exhibit. An elderly Japanese volunteer noted our group and guided us (no compensation expected) through the castle. His English was hard to understand sometimes, but we appreciated his gracious effort. After visiting the castle, we went through the gardens, which were attractive as Japanese gardens can be. We learned that Himeji Castle was featured in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice as well as The Last Samurai. After touring the castle and gardens, we walked back to the train station and mistakenly took the wrong train. Carol asked the attendant at the station which track and we realized the train had gone past Kobe, when we arrived in Osaka, north of Kobe. Himeji was south of Kobe. No problem, we got off the train in Osaka, found the next train to our port and arrived safely there. We had a few laughs about this. NAGASAKI Our next port was Nagasaki, where the second atomic bomb was used in World War II. Our tour was organized by our new cruise critic friend Carol. The tour was with Tours by Locals. https://www.toursbylocals.com/Nagasakionedaytour Our group of 8 visited the Peace Park, Hypocenter, A-bomb museum and the surroundings; Spectacle Bridge and Temple Row; Site of the former Dutch trading House on Dejima and Dejima Wharf and visited a shopping area. We opted to skip the Shinto shrine. We purchased a streetcar day ticket for 500 yen and used the streetcar for transport to the sites. Our guide was excellent and left us some flexibility regarding what we would visit. Also, the Japanese lunch was excellent for about 900 yen. The Peace Park was located at the center of the bomb blast. The blast was an air blast, but the park was just below where the blast occurred. There were many memorials from different countries spread all over the park. Our guide pointed out what the bomb damaged. We learned here and at the A-bomb museum that the bomb largely missed the city’s business district, but instead hit a largely residential area. The museum was excellent and presented the history and facts of the bomb damages without getting into the propriety of the US dropping the bomb. At the museum, we were shown items that were directly damaged, like steel girders, melted coins and other evidence of the damage. After the nice lunch, we visited Dejima, a former Dutch trading center. The Japanese allowed the Dutch a trading center in Nagasaki as long as they did not proselytize Christianity. The center was near the business district and appeared to contain some of the original buildings, although I am sure some restoration was necessary. The center gave us an interesting perspective on early contact of Europeans in Japan and the basis of trade. Next, we visited the Spectacle Bridge. The Nagasaki City Tourism Guide explains the importance of the bridge: In 1634, Japan's first Chinese-style stone bridge, the Spectacle Bridge, was constructed by Mokusunyoujo, the second-generation Chinese monk of Kofukuji Temple, Japan's oldest Chinese Temple. The bridge gets its name from its resemblance to a pair of spectacles when the arches of the bridges are reflected as ovals on the surface of the river. This bridge, along with Edo's Nihonbashi Bridge and Iwakuni's Kintaikyou Bridge, are considered the three most famous bridges in Japan. Although it is not well known, Spectacles Bridge was the inspiration for the Double Bridge of the Imperial Palace. We skipped the shrine and visited a shopping area, which was more modern than a traditional bazaar. It was an excellent tour for a very reasonable price and our group of 8 very much enjoyed the tour. Our next day on the ship was our second sea day (first on the day before Nagasaki) and we enjoyed the opportunity to relax and recuperate from all the touring. Our next port was Shanghai. We only had one port in the People’s Republic of China, and the issue of acquiring a visa for China was quite large on our cruise critic roll call. I asked Celebrity (via email), as did others, if we needed the visa if we elected to not go ashore at Shanghai. We received a tentative yes, but caveated by the concern that the Chinese authorities could change their policy, which could lead to our not being able to board the ship in Tokyo. At first, I planned to skip the visa and visit to Shanghai, since we had spent four days in the city on a tour of China in 2012. However, Ginny and I decided to not take the risk that could stop us from taking the cruise. Unfortunately, while our passports still had more than two years of validity, we lacked two clean pages (required by China) for the visa. Therefore we had to acquire new passports. It turned out to be expensive, but we now have new passports with a ten year Chinese visa. SHANGHAI Shanghai is an amazing city of some 22 million people. It has grown since our visit in 2012, when we were told its population was 17 million. Ginny and I took a Celebrity excursion named Watertown of Zhujiajiao. It was one of the few excursions that did not duplicate what we saw in the city three years ago. It was described as follows: Explore Zhujiajiao, known for its 36 moss-covered bridges, on this tour to ancient landmarks and the Tian Hou Silk Factory. Visit Daqing Youju and Fangsheng Bridge, both important historical landmarks. Then, savor a delicious multi-course lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, you can shop for fine local silk products at the Tian Hou Silk Factory, followed by a coach ride to the Pudong New District in Shanghai, with a final stop at Riverside Avenue near the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. Highlights: • See Zhujiajiao’s famous, Fangsheng Bridge, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. • Visit the Daqing Youju, a post office that dates back to the Qing Dynasty. • Enjoy a multi-course family-style lunch of traditional Shanghai-style dishes served at a local restaurant. The tour was pretty good and our guide was informative. The watertown of Zhujiajiao was interesting, especially the visit the old post office. However, we had visited another watertown near Shanghai in 2012 that seemed more authentic and less touristy than Zhujiajiao. Traffic in the city was congested and getting around took some time. We noticed that traffic chaos had not changed since our visit to mainland China three years ago. If there were three official lanes, the drivers would create four or five. The visit to the silk factory seemed like the same one we visited in 2012. The lunch was good, but the waitress forgot to bring the rice to our table. The tour guide did apologize. It did seem strange, no rice with a meal in China. Otherwise, the meal was very good. Our last stop of the day was near dusk at the new Pudong district, across the river from the historic Bund. We managed some photos, despite that the sun had set. It was a relatively good tour, but I would not recommend this tour if you have not been to Shanghai before. OKINAWA Our next port was our last port in Japan, Okinawa. Fortunately, the weather there was good and nice and warm. Temps were in the high 70s and I was able to wear shorts for the first time. We took another Celebrity excursion, Okinawa World and Shurijyo Castle. We first stopped at Shurijo Castle, former seat of power during Ryuku Kingdom's 500-year reign. The castle grounds had the typical thick rock walls, but the structure of the castle was wood. It was reconstructed, since the original building was destroyed in World War II. Our guide explained this history of Okinawa, how it was influenced by contacts with China and had some measure of independence as for a while, before being incorporated as a full part of Japan in 1879. The castle was worth a visit. Okinawa World was a theme park that included a large cave with its stalagmites and stalactites. It took about 40 minutes to walk through. The rest of the park included a small reconstructed Okinawan village with crafts, etc. It was ok, but frankly I was underwhelmed. We saw a show with native dancing that was good, especially with the dragon (two persons inside the dragon) dance. All in all, the theme park was one that I would probably not recommend to others, but some might like it more. Our other option for Okinawa included a trip to the old Japanese command center during the WWII battle or a drive to see some scenic areas on the island. We enjoyed our visit to the island, but after being wowed by our other Japanese sites, Okinawa was not as impressive. TAIWAN Carol’s tours for our two days in Taiwan were excellent. The tour company was My Taiwan Tour Travel Service Co., Ltd. Both tours together cost about $110 per person which was far cheaper than what Celebrity’s excursions had to offer. Since we arrived in Taiwan at 1PM, our first day tour was a half day tour. The tour took us to the Yehliu geo park at the Yehliu Promontory, which had many unusual shapes. One famous formation was known as the "Queen's Head." There were perhaps a hundred or more unusual formations which was fascinating. I am sure that persons going through my photos of the trip will ask why I took so many photos of rocks. My answer, they were very unusual rocks. Our tour finished with a trip to the Keelung Market (Keelung was the port north of Taipei where our ship was docked). We walked through the busy market with all its interesting stalls. Most were selling food of some kind. Some of the food looked and smelled good, others not so. Day two in Taiwan was a full day tour that took us to Taipei. The highlight of the tour was a visit to the wonderful National Palace Museum. The museum was originally founded in the Forbidden City of Beijing in 1925, and moved to southwest China during the war with Japan, then moved to Taipei by Chiang Kai-shek when he moved there from the mainland when the Communist won the civil war. The museum is filled with amazing and priceless works of art and culture. Our guide took us through the museum, oriented us and took us to see several of the very important items. The item that I thought was the most awesome was the huge painting on silk called One Hundred Horses. The 1728 painting was by Castiglione, an Italian artist that mixed styles of East and West. After the museum, we visited the tallest building on the island, Taipei 101. We didn’t go up to the top to see the city, since we had two buses with a total of 40 persons and that would have taken too much of our time. We did have lunch at the building site, which were largely dumplings with various ingredients. The lunch was quite good. In the afternoon, we visited the Chang Kai-shek memorial, which was huge, including a huge statue of Chang. Frankly, the memorial and statue were a bit much, since the statue was probably at least three times the size of Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial. Our last stop was at a Taoist/Buddhist Temple. The temple was colorful with many active worshipers in attendance. The tour was excellent, particularly including the museum. HONG KONG The cruise ended in Hong Kong and we had a full day and overnight until we disembarked from the ship. The first day, Carol, John, Terry and Katy joined Ginny and I on a do it yourself trip to see the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery. All of us had been to Hong Kong before and none of us had seen these sites. Fortunately, there was a free shuttle that took us from the cruise port to a shopping mall near the Diamond Hill MRT station. The Garden and Nunnery are located adjacent to the mall. The Nan Lian Garden was amazing. It was magnificently landscaped with trees, plants, rocks, a waterfall, bridge and small museums. The fact that it was a quiet and serene garden in the middle of heavily built up Hong Kong added to the beauty of the garden. We found a small exhibit there of Murano glass from Venice, with some stunning glass. The nunnery was a Buddhist temple and also surrounded by tall buildings in a pleasant surroundings. We had spent about two hours at these sites, and then went through the mall, finding it very much like what you find back home. We all wanted to get back to the ship even though it was early afternoon, since we had to pack and prepare to leave the ship the next day. The next day we departed the ship at 8:30AM and took a shuttle to the Kowloon Station, where we could check our luggage early for our flights. We found a place in the nearby mall where we stuffed our carry-on bags in a locker for a few hours and Carol, John, Ginny and I took a taxi to the Hong Kong History Museum there in Kowloon. We spent about three hours enjoying the museum which covered the geological and political history of Hong Kong. The exhibits were well done. Returning to pick up our carry-ons, we took the Airport Express, a fast train, directly to the airport. Ginny and I said farewell to Carol and John, then continued to the last stop on the line to our hotel (we could see the airport from the hotel). We had a day rate for 8 hours at the hotel, to relax, since our flight to Seoul-Inchon was not until 12:55AM the next morning. We were on Korean Air Lines from Hong Kong to Seoul, then directly to Atlanta. The food and service on the flight was excellent, but it was another marathon 14 hour flight to Atlanta. By the time we arrived in Jacksonville, we were totally wiped out. The best part of coming home was seeing our cat, Simon, we happily greeted us. In fact, since we have been home, he follows us everywhere. It was a fantastic trip. We loved Japan and our new friends from the cruise, but it was so good to get home again. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
just got back from a cruise from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong. This has got to be the worst cruise ever. Embarkation was a nightmare and totally disorganised. I had originally booked for a standard balcony cabin but because of mistakes ... Read More
just got back from a cruise from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong. This has got to be the worst cruise ever. Embarkation was a nightmare and totally disorganised. I had originally booked for a standard balcony cabin but because of mistakes made during booking had to accept a more expensive concierge class cabin as all the standard cabins had gone by the time they sorted out the mess they had made. Once on board I found that having a more expensive cabin gave no improved benefits. Cabin steward was great but dining arrangements were a nightmare. Done select dining before on other ships and found it worked well but on this ship it was impossible to select dining times even when you booked the day before because the only time slots available were 5.30 or 8.45 which defeats the point of select dining. When in the dining room for breakfast service was poor and there didn't appear to be enough staff to do the job. The maitre d'hotel was not running the restaurant in fact spent most of his time clearing tables due to staff shortage as a result the management was no existent and the waiter please themselves as to what they . Some even wander around doing nothing at all. Evening dinner was rather better as waiting on staff were assigned to tables but food quality was poor and many mistakes were made with orders. Mostly drank red wine with meals as I had a bad experience when I ordered a white wine. During the meal opened bottles were stored in ice buckets standing in a line by a wall. both times i ordered white wine I suspect they had mistakenly served my bottle to other guests as i feel I didn't get full measure but they denied it when i questioned them. They ran out of food supplies during the cruise eg. English Bacon was only available on first two days and never appeared on the menus again. They had a wine on special offer price but it was unavailable during the first three days because they had none on board. The Shore excursions were badly managed with too many trips leaving at the same time and many arriving at the same destination together making it impossble to enjoy the visists. On one occasion they had 10 coaches arrive at a museum at the same time resulting in a huge queue to get in and resulting in spending less than half an hour inside. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
So we are what is known as "cruisers"...and love the carefree way to travel around the world,but we will never sail again on an old ship..refurbished or not. Our trip a few weeks ago to Asia resulted in a very unpleasant ... Read More
So we are what is known as "cruisers"...and love the carefree way to travel around the world,but we will never sail again on an old ship..refurbished or not. Our trip a few weeks ago to Asia resulted in a very unpleasant experience with surely help,not enough help,smells of sewer backup all around the ship with passengers finding the toilets in the rooms had filled up with sewage in the mornings and therefore infected the smells of the whole ship.it is impossible to get that out of your nose not to mention the Buffett had been scrubbed every night with bleach which lingered every day for breakfast and lunch..not good at all!.. The ship is old and dirty. The dresser drawers in our cabin smelled of dirty clothes not to mention our bathroom and water from the tap had sewage orders.the schedule to visit ports looked good on paper, but in reality was impossible to enjoy. Time spent on a bus brought you to sights around dusk or into towns that were not even open when we arrived and then had to depart. Clearly we should have checked with on line reviews,but we have always loved Celebrity and trusted them to give us a great trip... Never would I have thought that the entertainment would be poor or tired,nor that we would have been so boarded on sea days..but it was and we were. Food is always something to look forward to,but shortly into the cruise we sent much back and ate up in the Buffett for salad and cafeteria type selections. Very few staff seemed to enjoy the job,nor was there enough help. The ship docked at a high spread train in Kobe,nut instead of a tour starting off on the train to visit Kyoto eight hours away on a but, the tour would have been better utilizing this experience of a high speed train then to a bus.. So sorry for this review, but necessary for travelers who go halfway around the world expecting a good adventurer.we understand the ship is due for yet another makeover...but beware..how do you think they will reduce the sewage problems? Len Read Less
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