|Celebrity Millennium and Four Eastern Caribbean Ports|
April 9 - April 16, 2006
We were a family of four on Spring Break. We got a great rate on a pair of inside cabins. The ports were fun, but were not necessarily our favorite Eastern Caribbean destinations. The Millennium is a great ship, well laid out, with lots to keep us busy. The food was good, and the service was friendly. This was out first trip on a Celebrity mega-sized ship. We were glad we went and would consider Millennium again in the future.
Part I - Precruise
We chose Celebrity due to our prior experience. We chose Millennium because we had not previously experienced Celebrities largest ships. We generally prefer the Eastern Caribbean ports over Western Caribbean ports.
B. Cruise Critic
Cruisecritic.com was once again very helpful in securing key information for all of our ports of call and getting to know some of our fellow travelers before the cruise.
C. Choice of Route
We have cruised the Western Caribbean and the Eastern Caribbean. We have found the Eastern ports have the best beaches and are generally more hospitable.
D. Choice of cabin
We booked this cruise during a Celebrity Tuesday "Happy Hour" Sale less than 30 days before the cruise. We chose two inside cabins (Category 9 on the Vista Deck) entirely based upon price. Interestingly, it was less expensive to book two cabins than to attempt to stuff all four of us into one cabin. Each inside cabin has 170 square feet of space. The cabins (7101 and 7093) are spacious.
We paid about $600 per person ($86/day/person) including port fees and taxes (but not including tips and incidentals). Note: I only include price information because it was requested by fellow travelers following my previous reviews.
We brought our passports which we got four years ago. Our kids did not have passports. Instead, a picture ID and an original birth certificate were required. Hint: AAA members can get really good passport pictures for free at AAA offices.
I insured the trip through Travelex, opting for their TraveLite product, which I concluded was a good choice due to: relative cost comparisons, ease of access and booking, good disclosures, excellent coverage for what I needed, and especially because their insurance is "primary", meaning that I do not have to involve any other insurance in the claims process. I had no interest in proprietary insurance offered by a travel agency or cruise companies because if either goes under your insurance is worthless and defeats the purpose. We bought the insurance within 14 days of our booking to assure there would be no questions about "existing medical conditions", although I am not aware we have any. Thankfully we never had a need for the insurance. Here are 16 great tips on How to Select Cruise Insurance.
H. Prebooking Excursions
All of our port excursions were done privately with the exception of Dominican Republic. We bought this excursion on the ship simply because there was not sufficient information on the boards to make our own arrangements. More details below.
Packing hints came from this board. We packed for 2 Formal nights (suit and tie / fine dinner dress), 2 Semi-Formal nights (aloha shirt with dinner jacket / dinner dress), and 3 Casual nights (polo's and Dockers, blouses and skirts), in addition to enough clothing to cover us for 7 days. Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed were battery powered alarm clock, shoe rack, rounded scissors (under 6"), bottled water, cards, camera, film, sunscreen, binoculars, highlighters, collapsible dirty clothes bag, and a water camera. We also made seven 8x10 posters for our cabin door (one for each day, "If this is Saturday, it must be Nassau!" and the like) and mentioning Cruise Critic in hopes that someone else on the boards would notice and strike up a conversation. The cabin doors are metal. We held up our signs with little magnets.
Part II - Embarkation
A. Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale
We drove from Charlotte, NC to Port Everglades, FL on Saturday, staying at a local hotel. We then drove to the port on Sunday. We arrived at 10am which was too early as passengers were still disembarking. We returned at 11am, dropped off our baggage and parked the van in the nearby Port Everglades parking lot at a cost of $12/day (credit cards are accepted). Not cheap, but they do provide covered parking, security, and a free round trip shuttle which was waiting for me on both ends. Other than the cost, the worst I can say about the spacious garage is that the elevators are really slow.
Celebrity Millennium was berthed at Pier 18. (Of interest to some, the port is really close to the airport --- no more than a 10 minute cab ride). While I was parking the van, my wife tipped our baggage handler $1/bag. (I usually tip $2/bag. You want to make sure the bags reach your room). If you don't offer the tip quick enough, the handlers will let you know, with their hand held out, that they will not refuse a tip if you wish to tip them NOW.
B. Security Processing and Boarding
We were in the terminal by 11:10am. It was very disorganized, but a method ensued through the madness. It was clear that they were a little short on personnel. All of the Celebrity personnel were pleasant and kept their cool. There was a pileup of folks attempting to get a numbered ticket which would allow you entry into waiting room number two. The first waiting room was just inside the terminal. You were to wait here until your number was called. After a short wait (5 to 15 minutes) in each room, you were allowed to go through security screening and check-in. Both rooms were reasonably comfortable. Fruit punch and water were offered in room two.
There were separate lines for suites, and non-suite, passengers. All lines fed into a very long table of friendly folks processing your boarding documents. We were in line about 15 minutes. Assuming you had already completed all the documents requested, signing in and getting your ship credit card (which is also your cruise ID and cabin key) took no more than 10 minutes for us to get processed. They took your credit card for charges at this point. After check-in we preceded towards the ship. There was a quick wait for the cruise photo (which can be skipped), and then a very short wait to get your cruise card data encrypted with your image at one of two stations. We boarded Millennium and were greeted with a glass of champagne or orange juice. Cabins were to be ready at 1:00pm, so we were directed to the Ocean Cafe on the Resort Deck - 10 for lunch. Hint: locate the Riviera Grill near the Riviera Pool for a grilled hamburger, blackened fish sandwich, or other daily special. While everyone else is in line at the buffet, you could be enjoying a great sandwich with no lines (the first day). The grill will get discovered by day two when folks take to the pool.
C. Explore The Cabin
We were in cabin 7101 and 7093, an interior category 9 cabin with 170 square feet. We were located slightly forward of amidships, in the middle of the ship, on the Vista Deck - 7. Interior cabins on this deck are accessed from the Port hallway (which by definition would mean the Starboard exterior cabins had less noise in the hall and would afford a little more privacy than the exterior Port cabins). The cabin was extremely well laid out. Lots of drawers and enough room in the closets for our clothes. The bathroom has lots of room, storage, and a shower. There is a large mirror covering the entire far wall which helps create the illusion of extra spaciousness. Our cabin also had a desk and loveseat-sized couch/hide-a-bed. Hangers and robes were provided. Hint: you can secure additional wire hangers from your cabin attendant. The desk featured a number of informational brochures including Sunday's event newsletter "Celebrity Today". Being Cruise Critic members, we received an invite to the following day's gathering, along with a CruiseConnections pin and a couple of name tags. Our stateroom attendant did a wonderful job throughout our cruise. Of note, we found the inside cabins really easy to sleep in. Since there is no window, the room stays dark --- making it really easy to sleep late or take a nap any time of day. Our kids tuned the TV to the ship's "front of the ship" cam at night. The channel is pitch black of course at night, but will slowly light the room as the sun rises. You can see if you're at sea or in port with a quick glance.
D. Tour of Ship and Search For Food
We found sustenance in the Ocean Cafe on the Resort Deck - 10 for a noon buffet lunch. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. The entire week, without exception, we always took the stairs (and pretended that this was sufficient exercise to cover our food intake).
E. Lifeboat Drill
About 30 minutes prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. If you've never been through this drill, a loudspeaker announcement is made for all guests to don their orange life vests and gather at your assigned muster station (as directed by the sign on the back of your cabin door). After waiting for all passengers to arrive, you are directed on the proper use of the vest, and then directed to your assigned lifeboats for additional instructions. You do not board the life boats. A final announcement dismisses all passengers to return the vests to their cabins. The drill went smoothly and lasted about 20 minutes.
F. Dinner - 6:30pm First Seating
We were seated at a table for 4 (by request) in the upper level (Entertainment Deck - 5) of the Metropolitan Restaurant, next to the rail overlooking the lower level. A two-story window covers the back of the restaurant (and the ship). Our server, assistant, and Maitre'd did a very good job throughout our cruise.
Part III - Food!
Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. The meals met our expectations. There was good variety. Nice presentations at lunch and dinner. No one at our table ever needed to send back an undercooked or overcooked item. Our Maitre'd was very friendly and helpful. Meats were cooked to order. Yes, you could even order "rare". Of note, one night my teen daughter ordered a pasta dish and as she was eating it, she mentioned in a hushed voice that she didn't like the sauce. The Maitre'd instantly materialized out of thin air (he was visiting with the table next to us, though he had gone unnoticed by us) and asked my daughter if she would like to order something else. The Maitre'd was insistent that he bring her something she would enjoy. He was very serious. My daughter was a little embarrassed as she didn't mean to get anyone involved, but relented and allowed a Rack of Veal (a large veal chop) to be brought in its place. The veal was awesome (both my wife and I had ordered it), and my daughter was quite happy. We were very extremely impressed that all passengers, regardless of age, are treated as valued patrons by the staff.
A. Always Available
The following items are available every night (even if they do not appear on the menu): shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, chicken, salmon, and a NY Strip steak.
B. The Best Breakfast Items
Mixed berries, fresh tropical fruits, Belgian waffles, smoked salmon, eggs benedict, French toast, sticky buns, jelly doughnuts, and an array of pastries. See notes on the Cova Cafe and Spa Cafe.
C. The Best Lunch Items
The sandwich bar in the Ocean Grill (Deck 10 - Aft), fresh tropical fruit from the Spa Cafe (Deck 10 - Forward/Amidships), lamb curry from the Ocean Cafe (Deck 10 - Amidships/Aft).
D. The Best Appetizer
The Escargot were incredible. All appetizers were well presented.
E. The Best Soups
Cream of Broccoli, Onion Soup, Mushroom Bisque, Louisiana Gumbo, and Pumpkin Soup. The chilled Rhubarb Soup and the Cool Cucumber Soup were awesome.
F. The Best Entrées
All of the Lamb and Veal dishes, and all of the steak offerings (Prime Rib, Tenderloins).
G. The Best Desserts
Fresh made ice creams (available noon to 10 pm in the Ocean Cafe), crème Brule, cherries jubilee, all cheesecakes, baked Alaska on parade.
H. Room Service
We didn't order anything from room service.
I. Midnight Buffets
All but one (Le Grande Buffet) were scheduled to take place by the pool on Deck 10. Usually served ice cream, an assortment of cookies, lots of fresh fruit, and some great beef ribs. The themes included a Sock Hop and a Caribbean Night. Le Grande Buffet took place on the last day at sea in the Metropolitan Restaurant at 12:30am after a 30-minute picture-taking preview. You will marvel at the beautiful ice carvings and food creations.
J. Sushi Bar
Beautifully prepared (very fresh and chilled) sushi was available most nights from 5:30pm to 9:30pm in the Ocean Grill (located Aft on Deck 10) which they decorated with a Japanese restaurant theme. It is a winner. An opening time of 5:30pm better accommodates passengers with the Main Seating for Dinner. On previous cruises, the Sushi Bar did not open until 6:00pm.
K. Cova Cafe
Hint: Locate this early in your voyage. The Cova Cafe is located amidships on Deck 5. They serve incredible "not to be missed" croissants and danish (like footlong cinnamon twists) from 8:30am to 11:00am most mornings and in the afternoons (3:00pm to 5:00pm) they serve cookies, fancy cheesecake, and other pastries. They offer fancy coffees and wines for sale. There is no additional charge for the food items. This is also one of the place you can pick up a "soda sticker". At a cost of $5.00/day (plus 15% gratuity) they will place a sticker on your sea card which entitles you to unlimited fountain sodas anywhere on the ship.
L. Spa Cafe
Hint: Locate this early in your voyage. Hidden forward/amidship in the AquaSpa on Deck 10, they offer healthier offerings at breakfast and lunch. Be sure to stop by for a plate of fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, and awesome soups.
M. Pizza and Pasta
There is a dedicated Pizza Bar and a dedicated Pasta Bar on the starboard side of the Ocean Cafe. Both are open generally noon to 1:00am. The pizza bar features a daily special and over a dozen toppings if you wish to create your own. The pasta bar features lots of garlic, several sauces, and at least three noodle selections. The pizza is actually quite good.
N. The Captain's Table
We received our first ever invite to join the Captain for dinner. We were honored by the invite but had to regretfully decline as the invitation was "adults only". We hope to have another opportunity on our next voyage.
Part IV - Entertainment
All the movies were shown in the Cinema on Deck 3 throughout the day. Of interest, popcorn is now served. A batch of fresh popcorn is popped for most showings. It's a nice touch. Since only one batch is cooked, get in line early if the movie is well-attended. It will run out.
The Celebrity Theater spans 3 decks and is just beautiful. Seating is very comfortable and sight lines are very good. We have not seen a better theater in any of our prior voyages. We were generally not very impressed with the production shows on this cruise. We found the singers and dancers to be quite talented, but the direction/production/choice of songs, arrangements, and some costuming was poor. The use of screens for interludes was not very effective. The bright spot in these productions was that the lighting effects were quite good. The one exception to all this was the new show "I Love The Nightlife" where the production was great, and the use of a screen for the opening Blues number was pretty cool, but the lighting needed some work. The two comedians (Thien Fu and Noodles Levenstein) were very entertaining and family friendly.
The Fortunes Casino on (Promenade Deck - 4) is filled with slot machines, one Craps table, two roulette tables, and a few poker and blackjack tables. The casino was open while at sea. Closed while in ports. While smoky, it was not as bad as on the smaller Celebrity ships.
It is located Forward on the Resort Deck-10. I enjoyed a one-hour full body massage. My wife booked it for me at a rate 40% off the regular rate. She was in the gym one night and the spa was offering a special to fill a few time slots --- which went fast at the special rate. It was a VERY good massage.
E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs.
Due to having over 400 children on this cruise, the Millennium made the AquaSpa pool and hot tub off limits to anyone under 18. I applaud them for this. The Riviera Pool and hot tubs were designated for family use. There were a couple of folks that violated the policy, but overall it went very well. We did not use the pool facilities.
F. Celebrity Orchestra and Other Ship Bands
The Celebrity Orchestra was very good. The other bands were okay.
G. In-room TV
There were a few of closed-circuit ship channels and satellite stations (namely ESPN, CNN, and TBS) available on the TV in the cabin. About a dozen free movies were also available daily on the TV. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well.
H. Room Service
You can order from morning to late night. We didn't order anything from room service. We have used room service on prior cruises. They don't just drop the order off at your door --- they come in and set it up for you. Be sure to tip!
Part V - Parties
A. Cruise Critic Party
We signed up for the Cruise Critic party on the Celebrity web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place. An invitation to the party, set for 10:00am on Monday (our first day at sea) in Michael's Club along with 2 CruiseConnections lapel pins, and name tags, greeted us in our cabin upon arrival. At the appointed time we arrived at Michael's Club. In total, about 20 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting other cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. The Cruise Director, Simon Weir, and the Captain's Club Host, Justin, were in attendance. Justin was quite impressive at the numerous Captain's Club events. Simon gave us some additional information about all the logistics involved with the Chilean Tragedy and how Celebrity dealt with it. (We also all met informally on Deck 11 after the muster drill on Sunday, and a second informal meeting was scheduled by the ship for later in the week, which I missed).
B. Captain's Club Parties
There is a party of some sort happening daily. These included a party for all Captain's Club Members, a party of Elite and Select Captain's Club Members, a Captain's Club Elegant Tea, a party celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and others. We did not make all of the parties. The Captain's Club events were well attended and top notch. Of note, we have been to events on other ships were you were basically limited to a few selected drinks. The bars at the Millennium Captain's Club cocktail parties were open wide --- there wasn't a drink we couldn't order.
C. Captain's Club Wine Blending Seminar
This is a really cool event which took place in the Olympic Restaurant. A sommelier walks you through the finer points of wine growing and tasting, then, with the help of six Kendall-Jackson red wines allows you to craft different blended wines. Once each attendee settled on the blend they personally liked best, we built ourselves a full glass and took it to lunch.
Part VI - Health Concerns
There was no smoking in the restaurants, show lounge, Michael's Club, Library, or Card Room. Smoking was permitted in the night clubs, casino, outside, and the interior port side of the ship. The air circulation in the night clubs was generally poor. Therefore we generally avoided these areas. Although we are very sensitive to smoke, we could not detect any smoke smell in our cabin. We did not observe anyone abusing the smoking privilege. They had every right to smoke in various areas of the ship, and unfortunately they did.
B. Pools and Hot Tubs
We did not witness any babies in the pools or tubs, but young children made good use of both.
C. General Cleanliness of the Ship
In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! While old, we did not witness any torn carpets or peeling paint. She really is in good shape.
To the best of our knowledge, there was no outbreak on our ship. Kudos to our fellow passengers and Celebrity personnel for their personal diligence.
We had rough seas from Ft. Lauderdale to Dominican Republic and from St. Thomas to Nassau. A few passengers had a problem with sea sickness. I alternated a half of a patch behind my ears for the duration of the voyage. I had no problems with seasickness or even queasiness, but I did have some very minor vision problems which I attribute to being patch-related. My wife had no problems at all.
F. Sewage Smell
The CruiseCritic.com boards have been buzzing for months about a possible sewage smell in the Forward areas of the ship. We didn't smell anything odd until Friday night at Sea, when there was a pronounced sewage smell in the entirety of the Forward stairwell and down a couple of the halls about 20 feet. It did not effect the Celebrity Theater. Other than that, and a constantly foul smelling men's bathroom (noticeable only when in the men's room itself) on the 5th Floor near the Theater, we did not notice any other bad smells at any other time or place. On this voyage, I would consider this a minor item.
Part VII - Ship Notes
A. Ship's Crew
We were very impressed with the ship and crew. Very friendly and competent.
B. Our Stateroom Attendant
He was very attentive. Kept the beds made and bathroom clean. Upon arrival we requested 14 wire hangers, and later we asked for a foam mattress pad for the bed. Both were handled promptly. Hint: the foam pad took the bed from "hard" to "very comfortable".
C. The Shops
Merchandise did not rotate very much. There was something on sale each day. The booze prices on the ship were generally as good as, or better than, shops in the ports, and they will match any printed flyers you bring back from shore. There is a lot of space dedicated to shops on this ship. Most are very high end.
D. Internet Service
It was available in abundance in the "Online" room amidships on the Promenade Deck - 4. We did not use the service.
Due to Spring Break we had over 400 kids on board. Most were well behaved. Frankly, the only wild behavior we witnessed was while the kids were in their club groups. Thank goodness for the activities coordinators and their talent at keeping the kids grouped and occupied.
F. Dress Code
About 15% of men in the Main Seating wore a tux on Formal nights. Most wore coat and tie. Did not see any major violation of the dress code in the dining room, except on Informal Nights where numerous men came dressed without a jacket (as if it were a Casual night). The Second Seating appeared to have closer to 50% in tuxes on Formal nights.
We went through customs in Puerto Rico. Basically just got in an hour-long line on the ship at our appointed time to show our passports and cruisecards to customs officials in the Celebrity Theater. We felt this process was very poorly executed. However, we don't have any suggestions to speed the process, except maybe to exempt U.S. Citizens. We really couldn't figure out the necessity of this exercise. In Puerto Rico we received an "exit pass" to disembark. We also passed through customs upon disembarkation as we exited the terminal in Ft. Lauderdale. This was very fast.
H. Topless Sun Bathing
I didn't know exactly where to make these notes. There is an unmarked Deck 13! Accessed from the exterior of Deck 12, there is a sign and a stairwell leading to a Deck 13 "Topless Sun Bathing" area. The area is very private. There is no way to see what's going on up there without physically walking up there. The area can not be viewed from any vantage point on the ship. (I found it late one night while exploring the ship).
Part VIII - The Ports
A. Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
1:00pm to 11:00pm. We docked at the pier in La Romana. You have an opportunity to purchase a number of excursions or take a shuttle, provided gratis by Celebrity, to Altos de Chavon and Casa de Campo Resort. Altos de Chavon is a recreation of a medieval Spanish village with cobblestone streets. It's an interesting stroll, but not of interest to kids. Casa de Campo is a 7,000 acre resort. The shuttle took you to the marina where there are shops and restaurants. During the Port Talk, we were encouraged to visit the marina after dinner. Unfortunately, it closes at 7:00pm.
We chose to take the Bayahibe Beach Break excursion at a cost of $44 per person. An air conditioned tour bus took us to the Sunscape Casa del Mar La Romana Resort. This is a very nice all-inclusive resort on Bayahibe Beach, about 30 minutes drive from the ship. The excursion included transportation, beach lounge chairs, use of the resort beach and pool, and access to the open bars. This is an excellent facility for families. There is a big white sand beach and lots of shade. Food and watercraft are available at a small additional charge. The large pool has a 12-foot tall tethered floating "Iceberg" climbing wall/slide that the kids couldn't get enough of. We got hit by a late afternoon downpour, but it didn't dampen the fun. I do recommend it. We felt secure at all times. When you've got an excursion like this available, I do not recommend staying on the ship.
We would have done the Bayahibe Beach excursion on our own, but we couldn't get any enough information on the Ports of Call thread to feel comfortable about it. Let me remedy that right now. You can do this on your own, and you shouldn't hesitate. At the port, it is easy to arrange for your own transportation to Bayahibe Beach. (A fellow passenger arranged for a van for their group of ten for $10 per person. They got roundtrip transportation to Bayahibe Beach and the driver even waited for them for 3 hours while they enjoyed the beach). If you don't need the resort facilities, you can access and use the beach just East of the resort.
You can do the Sunscape Casa del Mar La Romana Resort on a Day Pass, which would be great if you arrive in the morning. A day pass runs $50 per person (less for children under 11), from 10:30pm until 5:30pm It includes unlimited drinks, food, and access to non-motorized watercraft, snorkel gear, beach chairs --- pretty much the works! The resort personnel are extremely friendly. Shirley Sánchez, the Chief Concierge, is very good at answering any questions you may have via email. A taxi for 4 should run in the $30 to $35 range each way. If the driver doesn't stay, the resort will get call a taxi for your return trip to the pier.
B. San Juan, Puerto Rico
10:00pm - 8:00pm. Upon arrival we immediately headed for San Cristobal Fortress on foot. Then on to El Moro Castle via the city wall walkway by the sea. Both were really cool to visit. Very impressive, massive, structures. Cost is $3.00 per person for each site, or $5.00 per person for both sites. It is pretty easy to walk around town as places are closer than they appear on maps. Highly recommend visits to both. (Check out the restrooms in El Moro. You won't find a restroom anywhere with better views). On the way back to the ship, just off The Street of San Francisco, we stopped at a street cafe for papaya and guava frappes, chips, and guacamole. It was a nice break.
C. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
7:00am - 5:30pm. St. Thomas is a major shopping destination. On our last trip here we privately arranged for an island tour with Godfrey's Tour for $20 per person (plus tip) which included shopping in Charlotte Amaile, an island tour, and 2-hours of beach time. This trip, we opted to enjoy Sapphire Beach on our own and shop Havensight at the pier. Despite what everyone at the pier will tell you (and there will lie to you), you can get local transportation for $2 per person in an open-air taxi to Sapphire Beach. Simply walk out of the Havensight pier main gate, cross the street, turn left and walk until you get to the Bus Stop (there is a pullover area) across from K-Mart and cross the street so that you are standing on the K-Mart side of the street. It is a leisurely 10 to 15-minute level walk. When you see an open-air taxi drive up, flag him down, tell him where you wish to go and enjoy the trip. The drive takes about 20 to 30 minutes each way depending upon traffic. Pay upon exiting the taxi. If you are going to Sapphire Beach, you will be dropped off at the entrance to the Sapphire Beach hotels which is at the top of a hill. A short 5-minute walk will get you on the beach. Sapphire Beach is a gorgeous white sand beach with lots of shade trees and awesome views of several nearby islands including St. John. The snorkeling is good. We saw several schools of fish (previously unknown to us), an eel, and a small stingray. Beach lounges are $5 each if you want to rent one, or free if you just occupy one of the many chairs abandoned by their previous inhabitants. A dive shop, bar and grill, and restrooms are available. Some water sports are also available. Pick up the taxi again where it dropped you off.
D. Nassau, Bahamas
12:00pm - 5:30 pm. Having been to Nassau a couple times before, we opted for a 45-minute "cheap tour", jumping on the #10 Jitney ($1.00 each way, or $2.00 roundtrip, payable when exiting) to Cable Beach. The drivers are really friendly. Greet them with a hearty "Good Day" as you board. You can catch the #10 near the British Colonial Hilton (a few blocks to your right after you leave the pier). There is an incredible amount of construction going on currently. It looks like the island is upgrading its image as well. We thought about checking out the beach at the Wyndham, but the kids didn't weren't up for another beach day. So we did simply rode roundtrip. We then took in a little shopping, scooping up some shirts, that become vibrantly colorful when exposed to sunlight, at Del Sol. Walked through the Straw Market. If you are looking for junk, this is your place. There are about 300 vendors crammed into a relatively small area all selling the same stuff. Whatever you do, don't pay the asking price. If you simply pick up an item and then set it down and start to walk away, the price will drop at least 25%. (How many palm leaf purses featuring SpongeBob Squarepants do you need anyway?) Of all the ports, our weather was the best in Nassau. Very warm, but with a very cool breeze (felt like air conditioning) and crisp blue waters.
E. Days At Sea
We had two days at sea. Both were rough. There was no lack of things to do on the ship. Sea Days actually provided nice rest spites and allowed us to get reenergized. It also helped pace the cruise. We slept in late. You can also eat, play games, attend art auctions, port shopping briefings (basically a way to kill time watching a talking advertisement), watch movies in the room, attend shows, eat, nap, blackjack tournament, slots tournament, midday snack, cards, pools, bars, eat, trivia contests, shuffleboard, ping-pong, paddle tennis, basketball, darts, read, chat with fellow passengers, eat, board games, Bingo, eat, rum tasting, shopping, gambling, exercise, movies, live entertainment... the list goes on!
F. Ships in Port
Visit CruiseCal.com to see which ships are likely to be in port during your cruise.
Part IX - Tipping
The service personnel on Celebrity receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Celebrity says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. I say it's expected, but the ship's personnel work long hours to service you and the other passengers. They genuinely do everything they can to service your needs. We generally tipped better than the Celebrity guidelines, which are as follows for a party of four on an 7-day cruise: Waiter $98, Waiter's Assistant $56, Stateroom Attendant $98, Assistant Maitre'd $21, Assistant Chief Housekeeper $21, and additional tips for room service, bartenders (even though a 15% gratuity is already included in all bar drinks) the Sommelier, Spa Personnel (note that they only tack on a 10% service charge) and any other personnel who you wish to tip. Here's a really handy Cruise Tip Calculator covering all major cruise lines. Early in the voyage, Celebrity gives you the option of charging all of the tips to your cruise account.
Part X - Captain's Club
If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a CC express line at Embarkation, priority Disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, casino and spa discounts, cocktail parties, free entrance into the wine-tasting seminar, and a one cabin upgrade. Some exclusions apply..
Part XI - Disembarkation and Customs
Breakfast was served in the Metropolitan Restaurant and Ocean Cafe. Disembarkation was going smoothly (though running 20-minutes behind schedule) until about 9:00am when an announcement was made releasing "all colors", wherein a free-for-all for the exit and major gridlock ensued. Earlier in the week everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch plane and train connections or who were on escorted tours in Ft. Lauderdale had highest priority. Select and Elite members had good priority as well. Other Captain's Club members had priority within their color group. Color-coded Disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage, and tear off the stubs for bag retrieval. Disembarkation was scheduled to begin at 8:20 am. All passengers were instructed to sit in specific public areas until their group color was called. Once off the ship, you clocked out with your sea pass one last time, showed your ID to customs personnel, collected your bags from the terminal, declared your purchases and exited the terminal. Bags were arranged by color for easy retrieval in the terminal.
According to Celebrity, US citizens traveling to the Bahamas and Caribbean are permitted $800 worth of Duty Free goods including 1 liter of alcohol per person. In the Virgin Islands (i.e. St. Thomas), travelers are allowed an additional $400 Duty Free exemption including 4 liters of alcohol and 4 cartons of cigarettes per person. Since we traveled to both sets of islands on this cruise, we were permitted to take advantage of both allowances. All you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid.
Part XII - Praises and Gripes
Millennium's personnel are very attentive, friendly and helpful. The food was very good to outstanding. The ship is very well laid out, clean and in good shape. The terminal's personnel are also very nice and helpful. The Captain's Club events were top notch. Of note, we have been to events on other ships were you were basically limited to a few selected drinks. The bars at the Millennium Captain's Club cocktail parties were open wide --- there wasn't a drink we couldn't order.
We certainly didn't have much to gripe about, although if you got any group of folks together, similar themes emerged: 1. the drink prices were too high. (The "drink of the day" was $4.95. All other drinks were higher). Folks said they would drink more if the prices were more reasonable. The bar waiters would also make more in tips if they could sell more drinks. 2. The photos were very professional and creative. The price of the photos was outrageous. I really don't understand the mentality of taking tons of pictures of passengers and then expecting us to pay a mint for each. We won't. 3. While the entertainers (dancers, singers, performers) were very good, the productions rank as our least favorite of any Celebrity cruise we have been on. (This is in stark contrast to the Zenith Bermuda run we were on last October wherein the shows were all fantastic --- the best we have ever seen on any ship). 4. The Wine Auctioneer, and host of the Captain's Club Wine Seminar, was not very well prepared for the morning seminar. A total of six of us arrived on time, yet he made us wait 10 more minutes for late arrivals which never came. He served champagne, which one passenger drank. Had he been better prepared, and served wine instead of champagne, the event could have been a hit
Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. The information presented is an opinion intended to assist travelers in preparing for their Eastern Caribbean cruise.
Since we do not have complete control over the "Ads by Google" appearing on this page, we do not directly endorse their sites or products. Please notify us if you find any of the advertisers to be misleading.
Feel free to contact me to correct any information in this article or to alert me to additional information one should consider.
Secrets of the Caribbean|
Detailed information, hints, and tips to assist you in visiting popular Caribbean cities and ports.
Tips for Bermuda Visitors and Cruisers|
Detailed information to assist you in preparing for your Bermuda visit.
Tips for First-time Western Caribbean Cruisers|
Detailed information to assist you in getting ready for your first Western Caribbean cruise.
Cruise Ship Dictionary|
A quick reference to cruise ship terminology.
How to Select Cruise Insurance / Travel Insurance|
Great consumer tips to assist you in choosing the right insurance for your trip.
Cruising Alaska on a Budget|
Detailed information to assist you in preparing for an Alaska cruise on a budget.
Celebrity Zenith and Nine Caribbean Ports|
Detailed information on Celebrity Zenith and ports in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Isle Catalina, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten, Tortola, and Key West.
Tips for Southern Caribbean Cruisers|
Detailed information on Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Tortola.
Celebrity Constellation and Seven New England and Atlantic Canadian Ports|
Detailed information on the Celebrity Constellation and the ports of Boston, Portland, Halifax, Quebec City, Charlottetown, Sydney, and Saint John.
© 2006 Topher
Thank you for visiting. Aloha!