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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Celebrity Cruise Line

GTS Millennium

Your Rating:Five Stars
Reviewed by:Don E.
# previous cruises: 21 to 30
Date of Trip: May 1, 2005
Itinerary: Repositioning

I enjoyed this cruise so much that I thought a short review would be in order. This review is a bit different than most. I want to share my experiences of cruising in the Penthouse Suite and the special treatment one receives when residing in the Penthouse Suite.

This ship has been described in detail so I will not go into that. I will not write about the ports since they all have been detailed many times on here. I want to write about our personal experiences on the Millie. We booked this cruise about a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting May 1st for quite sometime.

Based on my analysis I determined that per square foot, a Penthouse Suite is the best buy on the ship. With the balcony, the Penthouse Suite is almost 3,000 square feet which is the equivalent area of 12 regular size cabins with balconies. Based on my analysis I booked Penthouse Suite 6147.

In September 2003 when taking the reverse transatlantic on the Galaxy in the Penthouse Suite, the Hotel Director at the time Mr. Traganis told me to book the PS on a M Class Ship and I would be very happy with the size and quality of the suite.

Mr. Traganis told me he would be on the Millennium crossing in May 2005 and we would have a great time as I did with him on the Galaxy. I was real excited about seeing Mr. Traganis on this crossing. We kept in touch through the year on email and joked and cajoled one another.

About four days before May 1st I received an email from Mr. Traganis stating that something came up and he would be taking the Century to Europe and leaving the Millennium on May 1st and that a new Hotel Director named Mr. Renato Chizzola was permanently assigned to the Millennium. I can't say I was thrilled with the news but he gave Mr. Chizzola my email address and I received a nice friendly email from him assuring me that I would have a great time onboard.

The hoopla started with a nice email from Celebrity telling me that they would meet me in the reservation area and whisk me up to my cabin without any lines. I thought this was a good way to start out my adventure. I live in Florida and drove my truck to the "Park and Ride" by the pier for $49 a week which is very reasonable. We left our area at 6:30 am and arrived at the Park and Ride in Port Everglades at around 10:30 am. We took the free shuttle from the Park and Ride to the Pier which took 8 minutes. I tipped the shuttle driver $1.00 per bag and immediately tipped the port baggage handlers $1.00 per bag.

There were quite a few cruisers at the port at 10:45 and we were informed we would not be boarding until 11:30. I sat in the Pier Terminal and awaited the doors to open to the Cruise Desk. They looked at my tickets and placed me in the CC Area which was nice.

As soon as the doors opened and I went to the suite line and gave them my name the Assistant Hotel Director appeared and waited for me to check in and get my room cards. As soon as I passed muster with the check-in folks, Yannis took me up the back stairs to the ship avoiding the lines and ships' photographer.

The Assistant Hotel Manager escorted me to my Penthouse Suite carrying my carry-on luggage and welcomed me to the ship. There was an extra bottle of champagne waiting for me to make up for the glasses we would have received if entering through the main entrance.

Public Areas
The Public Areas were clean, well maintained and inviting. We spent a lot of time in our Penthouse Suite but did venture out once in a while mostly at night just to see the ship.

We liked Cosmos Disco and Michael's Bar.

Food and Service
The Metropolitan Dining room had great food and service but the Specialty Restaurant The Olympic was outstanding in both food and service. It was well worth the $30 per person surcharge plus I left a tip to the Maitre D and the Waiter-Cooker.

On Day 2, in the morning, we received an invitation to the Captain Michael Karatzas' Table for dinner that night which we accepted. We met the Captain and the other invitees at the pre-dinner cocktail party and he was very professional and cordial. My wife was seated to the Captain's right during dinner so I had a chance to bend his ear a bit. He is a sports car lover and I just pushed Porsche while he raved about Ferrari's. I knew my mission for the remaining 13 days was to convince Captain Karatza that a Porsche was a better value than a Ferrari (through personal experience).

On Day 5 the Hotel Manager sent me an invite to join him to dine in the Olympic Restaurant. I called Mr. Chizzola and told him to come to the Penthouse Suite before hand for drink and Hor'derves which he accepted.

Dinner at the Olympic with the Boss was just exceptional. We got the best service and the best seat in the Restaurant by the Harpist. Fabio, the Restaurant Manager was suburb and made the event special for us. It was great having Mr. Chizzola with us as the employees jumped through hoops for us. I have pictures of the experience and of the meals in my webshots.

On Day 7 we ate again at the Olympic and again had a fabulous meal. I had the Hotel Manager get us the private room and it was an amazing experience. We were treated like royalty thanks to Fabio.

The Captain and the Hotel Director attended two of the Cruise Shows with us and I worked the "engine room" scenario into the conversation. I was kind of pushy but it worked.

The Penthouse Suite on first view was breathtaking. It was huge and the balcony was to die for with many chairs, tables, umbrellas, granite wet bar and big hot tub. Yannis told me the Yamaha Player Grand Piano was just tuned as it is after every few cruises.

The Butler Mark Fernandez came in to introduce himself. He is from India and is the Head Butler on the Millennium. I immediately took to Mark and we developed a friendship throughout the cruise. I told him I would like Dewers Scotch and Barcardi as opposed to what was provided. He immediately got the correct liquor. I told him that my wife drinks 12 diet sodas a day and that I drink 6 bottled waters and 6 Cokes a day. I told him that I wanted club soda and tonic water for mixing. He said the refrigerator would be stocked each day with these selections.

I met our room steward Agnelo and his assistant Sue-neil (male). They were a good team and kept the Penthouse Suite spotless.

I told Mark the Butler that I would eat breakfast and lunch in the Suite everyday and dinner in either the Olympic (Specialty) or the Metropolitan Restaurant. He had no problem with either request. He offered to unpack our suitcases when they came and I told him he could do mine but my wife was not interested.

The phone rang at 1:00 pm and it was the Hotel Director inviting me to meet with us in his office at 1:15. I accepted and we went down to meet Mr. Chizzola. When I met Mr. Chizzola I was super impressed by his manner and professionalism. He was very cordial and made us feel real special during this meeting. The tone of the meeting was there was nothing that Celebrity would not do for us during this cruise that was "reasonable". That was a great statement to me.

The shows were great to me. I appreciate and respect anyone that can get up in front of 2,000 people and entertain. We met most of the dancers and singers in Cosmos on the formal nights and developed some friendships.

I invited the Captain and Hotel Director to the Penthouse Suite for dinner and cocktails several times and we had great times each time he came by. Each time the Captain came to visit the Head Housekeeper provided multiple bottles of champagne and bottles of liquor. Mark made sure we had fresh Hor'derves and setups.

We were fortunate enough to have sailed with Mr. Ernest Borgnine and his wife Tova. Mr. Borgnine had 4 sessions in the Celebrity Theatre telling us about the fascinating life he has had. He spoke about Betty Davis, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Shelly Winters and about all his movies. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the butcher Marny in the movie Marny. I was enamored with the entire series of talks. They play clips of about 100 films before the staged show.

We did not get off in Puerto Rico on day 4 and got off for about an hour in St Thomas on Day 4. We have been there many times and just wanted to read and watch DVD movies in the Suite.

On Day 5, I started bugging the Hotel Director about touring the bowels of the ship, the mysterious decks below Deck One. I was told that after 9/11 no one was allowed down below and it could be dangerous climbing up and down those narrow stairs that lead to the bottom of the ship. I told the Director that I have a penchant to see the entire ship including the engine room and all the things on minus 2, minus 3 and minus 4 decks. And I reiterated that on day one I was told that nothing reasonable would be refused us. He called the Chief Engineer and was told "NO WAY" I could see below deck one for the obvious reasons. Being the sales person I am and very persuasive I let it go and would bug them another time.

On Day 7 I received an invitation from the Captain to meet him in Cosmos for drinks after the show which we accepted. We talked more about cars and ships and had a great time together. We agreed to meet the Captain in his personal quarters for breakfast the next morning at 9 am. Again interacting with Captain Karatza was great. I learned about Greek Culture and he told me about his vast experience in the Maritime Industry. He is a master captain and one of the Senior Celebrity Captains. He proved to be a true gentleman and now a friend. We talked about Porsches and I brought up a few car magazines to show him why I am a P-Man. I joined either the Captain or the Hotel Director most nights in either Cosmos or Michaels and never once had to buy a drink. They were most gracious in their generosity. All of our bar drinks were comped on this cruise.

On Day 8, I got a call the next day and told I could see the entire ship, all floors and stand on the bottom (deck minus 5) of the ship. I have lots of pictures of my tour in my webshots site. This 3 hour tour was exceptional. We were the first Passengers ever to tour the bowels of the Millennium. Our tour guide was fantastic and at the conclusion of our tour I offered him a $100 bill which he refused. I was very upset but told him I would get him a bottle of liquor and he said he could accept that as a gift. He felt uncomfortable about taking cash. I bought him a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue ($119 on the ship) which is a very good Scotch. Elias about kissed us when he received this bottle. He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He loved being the tour guide and just took his time showing me every nook and cranny of this huge beautiful ship from deck minus 5 to Deck 1.

We went to the Bridge twice alone to see the departures from Malaga and Gibraltar. The Millennium Bridge is a sight to behold. It was huge and has the best most up to date navigation equipment.

Who Goes
I met a bunch of great people on the ship. I ended up with 7 business cards of people that I want to see again. Some of the cruisers live in Europe and we have already exchanged emails and are planning to travel to Italy to see one couple in 4 months from now.

Another couple from Tennessee befriended us and we are planning to meet them in Jacksonville later this month when they fly in for business.

This cruise was the best one yet and we have done Celebrity a number of times and stay in the Penthouse Suites but on the C Class ships. I will stick to the M Class ships from this day forth due to their beauty and the size and luxury of the Penthouse Suites. I befriended Nancy the Florist in her Florist Shop and she send my wife roses every other day and fresh floral arrangements every 4th day.

I have been back about a week now and have received 4 emails from the Hotel Director and 3 from the Captain. We are going to Fort Lauderdale to meet them when they come back in November. Of course I promised the Captain he can drive the Porsche if he is open minded about buying one. I just hope he doesn't get me to buy a new Ferrari but it will be fun just seeing these guys again.

Tipping: As I stated the Penthouse Suite is at least as big as 10 regular rooms meaning the Steward and Asst Steward have to do the equivalent of cleaning 10 rooms so they must be rewarded accordingly.

I went to the casino and got a cash advance of $2,000 the second to the last night and added $500 to that for tips. There were so many workers that touched me on this cruise I don't think I tipped enough at $2,500. The Concierge Marnix was exceptional and at my beck and call throughout the cruise. The chief housekeeper Theo visited me daily. The Metropolitan Restaurant Manager Britt visited my table every night. The food and beverage manager Christoff visited my suite at least 5 times and sent us the best jumbo shrimp cocktails and special French pastries. The bar girls were so cute and friendly to us that we tipped them very well. They came to our room to visit us and see the Penthouse Suite which they had never seen in 4 years. I had to get everyone clearance to visit us which did not make much sense to me but I had carte blanche to do that.

I know there are long threads about tipping and I have previously been admonished for expressing my views so I don't participate anymore but I have the opportunity here to tell it like it is without getting flamed.

Tipping matters folks!!! When I go back on the Millennium I guaranty the staff will just bend over backwards to please us. The workers remember who tips well, trust me. And when you cruise another ship and you see someone you tipped well from years ago, they remember you and you get the royal treatment. They also remember the cheapskates, the minimum tippers. The "suggested" rates are outdated. They have in place for many years and inflation has eaten up what was once a decent gratuity. I triple the suggest tip for good service and the sky is the limit for exceptional service (just ask Mark the Butler).

I realize the Penthouse Suite on an M Class Ship is not for everyone. It is very expensive and a large area of space. It is something that everyone should experience at least once in ones lifetime. I am hooked on the size and service provided when staying in the Penthouse Suite.

Check my pictures on pages 3 and 4 of my webshots site that substantiate this review with pictures. http://community.webshots.com/user/irwind101

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