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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:Three Stars
Reviewed by: Robert George
# previous cruises: 5
Date of Trip: January 14, 2001
Itinerary: Caribbean

The following report is on Celebrity’s Millennium on a 7 day Caribbean cruise Jan 14 - 21, 2001. This cruise was marred by two huge groups, one was 500 Orthodox Jewish people and another was an incentive group of 300 people from another Jewish organization. These two groups essentially took over the operation of the ship on this cruise making it somewhat unpleasant for all the other passengers.

I arrived at the pier at 1:20 PM. There was no wait to check-in, and we were immediately allowed to board the ship after checking in. It must be noted all of Celebrity’s brochures state no alcoholic beverages may be brought aboard. I carried two bottles of wine on board in my carry on luggage. Even though this bag passed through an X-ray machine, nothing was said. We were greeted at the gangway by ship’s officers and cruise staff. We were escorted to our room by a white gloved steward, who offered to take our carry-on luggage.

Public Areas
The exterior of the ship is in excellent condition, as would be expected in a ship this new. There is not a blemish on its exterior paint or deck furniture. The only blemish I saw was the hand rails on the verandahs are beginning to flake and need to be sanded & revarnished. Also, as with Celebrity’s Century, there is not a Promenade deck where passengers can walk completely around the deck. . Because of insufficient space on the Promenade deck for all passengers to muster for lifeboat drill; passenger muster stations are in different public rooms. It must also be noted , during this drill before sailing, no roll call was taken.

As with most ships, the interior of this vessel is being spotlessly maintained. Celebrity does not cut corners when buying carpet for its public rooms. Just as with the Century, the Millennium has beautiful, as well as, practical carpeting through out the ship. On the whole, the ship is somewhat glitzy, but it is certainly not in the same category as some of its competitors. What Celebrity may spend extra on carpeting, it certainly doesn’t do the same for fresh flowers on board. Except for the entrance to its specialty restaurant, all flower arrangements & plants are artificial . . . . and look it. Although most of the art on this ship is modern, except for a few exceptions it is in good taste. The public lounges on this ship, although similar to those on the Century are much better designed. The showroom, The Celebrity Theater, built on three levels, is marvelously designed with the ultimate in showroom technology. On the Plaza deck there is an innovate meeting center with four private meeting rooms with seating capacity of between 18 & 75 persons each, all with audio-visual aids. In addition, the cinema, in this same area seats approximately 150. I have not seen a more comprehensive meeting center on any other ship.

Food and Service
Dining Room: The Metropolitan Restaurant is a quite formal two story room with large windows having a capacity for 1170 patrons. Decorated with dark paneling throughout it is spacious, however, many tables on the lower level were too close together, making it difficult for the waiters to pass between the tables without brushing against the guests. It is used for two seatings at dinner and open seating breakfast and lunch. On this cruise the first seating dinner was taken over by two very large groups on board. On open seating meals the upper dining room was reserved for the Orthodox group. The food on this cruise was not nearly as good as that on the Century last year. This was probably due to the additional workload required by the kitchen staff preparing all the kosher meals in addition to the regular menu. All the fish dishes we ordered were overcooked & dried out. I ordered Prime Rib, medium rare, and received it medium well. When I tried to send it back I was told all the beef remaining for that meal was well done. On another occasion I ordered lamb chops with the same results. Eating in this restaurant at breakfast and lunch was no better. The overall eating experience in this room was not particularly good.

The Olympic Restaurant: This is an alternative restaurant whose name is taken from White Star Lines, ss Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. The designers of this restaurant recovered wood paneling from the original ship and used it in the design of the restaurant. Unfortunately, they only had enough of this beautiful walnut paneling to cover the walls of the smaller of the two rooms comprising the restaurant. The larger room is decorated with pretty, but nondescript white wall covering. The menu used here is quite similar to those in HAL’s Marco Polo restaurants. The difference being the price. Whereas HAL charges no additional fee in their alternative restaurants, Celebrity is charging a whopping $25.00 per person!! Normally I would not pay for this type of rip-off, but, I couldn’t write this report without at least trying it. What is offered for this price is essentially a three course meal. You are given a choice of an appetizer, or soup, or salad plus an entree & dessert. When looking at the menu before making reservations it is quite misleading, giving the impression the meal includes appetizer & soup & salad, plus entree & dessert. Sadly this is not the case. The food was all right, but not exceptional. The Crepes Suzette, dessert was a poor excuse for this traditional dessert. It was not made at our table as advertised, and used crepes so thick they could have been used as pancakes with a sauce that didn’t even resemble the original recipe.

The Ocean Cafe: This Lido type, self service, buffet style restaurant is exactly the same set up as the Century. There are four separate, but identical buffets set up in this room. These buffets were not overly crowded because 500 of the passengers (Orthodox Group) were eating breakfast & lunch in the upper dining room). In addition there are two omelet stations where omelets or fried eggs to order are available. Because of this set up, choices are somewhat more limited than those ships with longer buffet lines. At lunch three hot entrees (normally the same as those served in the dining room) plus a carving roast. In addition there were numerous desserts offered. Most of the seating for this restaurant is inside. What tables there are on the aft deck behind the Cafe are in the open , exposed to the wind & weather. It should be noted, the passenger service trays used on these buffets are the same as the Century having a starched cloth underliner which prevents dishes, cups or flatware from slipping off of them. A good idea , indeed.

Ice Cream Bar: There were two small ice cream bars in the Ocean Cafe. These were open during lunch and in the late afternoon. They offered 3 or 4 flavors of poor quality ice cream or sherbet. The ice cream looked as though it was home made without using the proper equipment. The ice cream was consistently grainy in texture as though it had ice crystals in it. There were minimal toppings for sundaes with cones only being offered in the late afternoon.

Buffets: The late night buffet was only served four nights. The other nights snacks (finger food) was passed in the lounges that were still open at 1215 AM. One of the buffets was the Grand Buffet served in the dining room. This was the traditional huge spread produced once a week by most cruise lines. Other than the late night buffets there were no deck buffet luncheons or barbecue dinners.

Bakery: The breads produced by this bakery were as good as I’ve seen on any ship. The selection at dinner of French rolls & Italian bread sticks was outstanding. The desserts produced by the pastry chefs were remarkable this was the one area that didn’t seem affected by the groups on board.

I enclosed a bar price list in the envelope attached to this report. As can be seen by this price list, prices seem to be continually escalating. With the 15% gratuity added to these prices, they were generally more than I paid on the Crystal Symphony last month and slightly more than HAL is charging. The ship has an extensive wine list in the dining room with prices ranging from $21 to over $500 per bottle..

Cova Cafe di Milano: This innovative food & beverage outlet is located around the atrium on the 5th deck. In addition to tables around the atrium there is a separate tea room, plus a full service bar that also dispenses Italian coffees from a formidable expresso machine. On the other side of the room there is a bakery counter dispensing complimentary rolls and Danish in the morning. From its refrigerated display case afternoon pastries & desserts are served as well as, finger sandwiches & cookies during tea time.

Dining Room Service: The dining room service was good, but not as good as it was on the Century. The European staff was absolutely expert in both their English and knowledge of the menus. The waiters on this cruise seemed a little harried & seemed to be serving more tables than normal. This again may be attributed to an unequal distribution of workload due to the special requirements of the groups on board.

Olympic Restaurant Service: The service in this restaurant was suppose to imitate that era from which this restaurant is named. If that means many dining room personnel and frenetic service, this restaurant seems to have succeeded. From Captains to Waiters, to Busboy, everyone seems to be moving in a rush. They look like an orchestra still in need of rehearsal, rather than a symphony in melodic concert.

Ocean Cafe Service: Although the service in other eating establishments seems to have suffered, the service in the Ocean Cafe at breakfast & lunch was great. The four buffets in this room are well staffed with service personnel. It is possible they were over staffed for this cruise because so many more guests were eating these meals in the dining room than normal.

Bars & Lounges Service: Although most of the bar staff was friendly, they were somewhat vocal about the make up of the passengers on this cruise, since these large groups were not drinkers, the bar staff’s 15% gratuity would be significantly reduced. As I found on the Century, even though the staff is from many countries, they speak English, and only English in front of guests. Any time a bar or lounge was open, in addition to the bartenders there were always bar servers on duty. In the Celebrity Showroom there were numerous waitpersons taking drink orders before and during the shows. .

Room Stewardess : On this ship Celebrity is not using an exclusively Indian housekeeping staff as they did on the Century. Our stewardess was from the Philippines and her male assistant was from Columbia. They were both very friendly and helpful, providing excellent service throughout the trip.

Front Office: The only dealing I had with this office was to try to order a souvenir menu package as was sold on the Century. I was first told these were sold by the gift shops on the Millennium & after not finding them there was told by a Front Office supervisor these packages are not sold on the Millennium..

The category 2 stateroom on the Penthouse deck was nice. The verandah on this trip was used by the two of us more on this trip than many others because of the ideal weather. There was a very small sitting area in the room consisting of a love seat that only sat one person. The bathroom was fairly good sized, with plenty of storage space, although it didn’t have a tub, the shower was quite large. The only amenities in the bathroom other than soap and shower caps was a lotion dispenser on the wall and a shampoo dispenser in the shower. All of the rooms on board come with a mini bar and refrigerator plus two terry cloth robes. There is no fruit or flowers in the rooms. This ship also has interactive television in the rooms. By using the remote control a guest can order room service, order shore excursions, view their on board statement, or order “pay for view” movies. Although there are free older movies shown continuously on different channels the “pay for view” movies are not that new and at $8.99 per movie it clearly is a rip off. In addition to the above, many passengers, especially the elderly, complained the entrance door to the room took too much effort to open. This was due to the resistance of the door closer being set too high

Cruise Staff: Cruise Director, Jim Cannon, although young, is a seasoned cruise director whose staff did a fine job. There is no doubt Mr. Cannon is a very experienced and professional individual. His handling of the Cruise Directors duties was without a flaw. His obvious motivation of his staff led them to try to make every guest’s cruise a memorial experience even though that was a very uphill battle on this cruise..

Entertainers: Celebrity has engaged a new production company, Molyneux Musick International, to produce their musical revues on their new Millennium type ships. They did three production shows during the cruise. Each of these shows had a large company of 17 performers, 12 dancers & 5 singers. Their first show, “Classique, a Musical Odyssey” was marvelous, the best I’ve seen on any ship. The second show “Pure Platinum” was a rock & roll remembrance of the 60’s - 70’s era which now has pretty much worn itself out playing to cruise audiences. Today, anyone that has taken a cruise has probably seen a rock & roll (Oldies but Goodies) show. The final production show was “ Spectacle of Broadway”. This was an excellent production but did not compare with their opening show. The other entertainers on board this week were good to outstanding. The highlight being concert pianist Naki Ataman, playing “Around the World” I saw his show on Crystal a couple of years ago. His performance here was every bit as good, receiving a rousing standing ovation at its conclusion. The one disappointment on this cruise compared to the one I took on the Century last year was the lack of an A Capella singing group providing impromptu performances around the ship. They had such a group on board, however they only performed twice as a minor part of the main evening show, one night singing only one song.

Musicians: All the musicians and musical groups were excellent. (the Celebrity Orchestra, The Caprico Quartet, Onyx, The Young Duo, & Gordon Hayman on the piano as well as Jay on the harp.

Aqua Spa: This facility has even more equipment and services than I saw on the Century. Besides the normal exercise equipment and fitness areas it has a large domed pool outside the main spa area that is used for Thalassotherapy treatments plus other bath and shower treatment rooms. In addition there is a beauty salon & barber offering all their normal options. As on the Century, these services do not come cheap. The only things not having a price attached are the exercise equipment and the sauna and dressing room.

All the Shore Excursions were briefed by the Shore Excursion Manager, Stefan Delguste. An innovative way to conduct these briefings was done on this ship. There was no live briefing on any of the shore excursions. These briefings were conducted on TV, and then repeated numerous times.. There were shore excursion order forms in the cabins so they could be deposited in a drop box at the Shore Excursion office. Passengers could also order excursions through their interactive television in their room.

Who Goes
The Millennium is a beautiful ship with some of the most modern facilities and equipment afloat. It has the potential to becoming one of the finest ships in its class.. As can be seen in this report the food is good, but certainly not outstanding. The Food & Beverage service was also good but not as good as I experienced on the Century.. The entertainment was excellent and by reintroducing the impromptu performances of the A Cappela singing group it could be outstanding. The alternative restaurant, Olympic is nice, but certainly not worth paying $25.00 per person for the privilege of eating there. It is a shame with a ship this beautiful, live floral arrangements , plants & greenery are not used. The artificial flowers and plants now used certainly cheapen what could be a smashing presentation.

It is obvious from this report this cruise was certainly not a success for Celebrity, except possibly from a financial standpoint in that the ship was carrying nearly a full load of passengers. The two large ethnic groups on board took over the operation of the vessel to such an extent the other half of the passengers felt they were being treated as second class citizens. There is no doubt Celebrity will get a flood of complaints from the guests on this trip. There were a lot of very unhappy people that disembarked the Millennium in Fort Lauderdale that chilly Sunday morning of January 21, 2001.

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