Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: July 12th, 2002
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
This was a special year. I graduated from high school and my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in May. During their honeymoon (a cruise through the Mediterranean on a small cruise ship), they decided that they would cruise again 25 years later. This was the reason my dad (53), my mom (51), my sister (20) and myself (17) decided to go on a cruise. We live in Holland, Europe and have spent several vacations in Greece. A cruise through the Caribbean attracted us most, despite our love for Greece.
We weren’t really into the cruising-world, so we had to start from the beginning. We figured a 7-night cruise would be too short, since it would take some time to get to know the ship. A 14-night cruise would be too long, as exhausting as cruising is. 10 Days seemed to be a great compromise, and in the end, it was. Reading cruise reviews (thanks, cruisereviews.com), I found out that Celebrity cruises was generally liked. These factors lead us to this cruise:
Ft. Lauderdale, at sea, at sea, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, at sea, at sea, Ft. Lauderdale.
In the end we were glad we had many sea-days, which gave us a great opportunity to get to know the beautiful Millennium a little better.
The Millennium is a beautiful ship. At 91,000 tons, she is not exactly small. You really should bring your walking shoes. When, for example, you want to go from the ocean café on deck ten midship to the theatre on deck four, all the way in the front, you burn all the calories that you consumed the day before. (yeah, sure!) I’m not going to give you detailed information on all the bars and lounges on board. In stead, I will tell you which are my favorites.
First of all, there is the rendez-vous lounge on deck four. It’s a very nice bar with dance floor. The music was provided by the excellent duo “Howard and Rose”. This is the place to be for those of you who like to dance. What has to be said, though, is that people under the age of 40 are hardly ever seen in this area.
I also liked the pool area, on deck 10 and 11. There was a pool for lounging with cocktails while listening to the Caribbean sounds of the excellent party band “Onyx”. Then there was a pool for swimming. Don’t even try to swim here, because, especially during days at sea, this place is crowded. There are four whirlpools in this resort area. There weren’t very many people in these. The reason for this is probably that, especially in the last couple of days, they were far too hot. It’s just not possible to spend more than 2 seconds in there, unless you want to end up boiled.
Cosmos is the nightclub on deck 11. It can accommodate many people. I have never seen it really busy in there, though. It was in this cosmos nightclub that I enjoyed many dance-classes. Swing dance, salsa, cha cha, Caribbean line dance, it was all there.
My favorite place was the celebrity theatre on deck 4 and 5. It is very large and it’s the first 3-level theatre ever on a ship. You don’t sit in chairs, but on cozy sofas. This was the place were you least realized that you were on a ship. The entertainment was good, but I won’t discuss it in detail.
Millennium is equipped with gas-turbine engines, a low-vibration and -emission propulsion system. I never felt any vibrations.
I can’t really say something useful about the motion of the ship, due to my lack of reference. You could feel it sometimes, but it was never disturbing. We didn’t have any bad weather, so I don’t know what the ship behaves like in these circumstances.
The embarkation was pretty smooth, I think. We arrived at port Everglades, pier 25, at about 11.15 a.m. We were told do dump our luggage somewhere and were then sent to the terminal. We had to wait for about 15 minutes. Then we were checked in and our embarkation picture (terrible) was made. It think we were onboard about 45 minutes after arriving at the terminal.
The safety drill was boring. Everybody had to assemble at his or her so called Muster-station, before heading for the lifeboats. We had to stand there for about 15 minutes, which is pretty long when wearing a life vest in 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We were given lots of instructions, but we couldn’t hear what they were saying. My luggage arrived at about 5 p.m. This was a bit late, but the first night was casual, so I didn’t need my tux. We sailed away fifteen minutes later.
My parents had cabin 7120, an exterior cabin with a private balcony. My sister and I had an interior cabin, number 7119, on the Vista deck. It was quite large, with lots of mirrors, a good shower and a hairdryer. Our cabin steward was called Sabino and he was pretty good. The only problem with the room is that when the door was locked, it was still possible to get in.
Our towels were changed about 3 times a day. We never had to use the same towel twice. Our ice-supply was also refilled on a regular basis. The interactive television was perfect. It had several music channels, useful information on shore-excursions. It could also be used to check your account and to order free room service.
Most important: The Food
The food was excellent. The main dining room is called the Metropolitan restaurant. It’s a two level restaurant with a grand staircase connecting the two levels. Our waiter was Gzregorz from Poland. His assistant was David from South Africa. Our wine-stewardess was called Lenka. She was from Slovakia. All three of them were wonderful and their company made us enjoy dinner even more. Dinner in this restaurant was perfect. The food looked good, was tasty and warm. It’s amazing how the galley can cook this well for 1300 guest at a time. Our assistant Maitre d’ told us it was possible to do a guided tour through the galley. We did this and it was nice to see what it looks like in there. One day, they had Dutch cheese on the menu. We loved it so much, that we got a cheese-platter with this cheese every day for the rest of the cruise. Fantastic service! We didn’t have dinner in the Olympic restaurant, nor in the alternative dining room. Breakfast and lunch were very good too. I can certainly understand why Celebrity cruises is known for its great food!
Ports of call:
St. Maarten (St. Martin): We rented a car here and made and explored the island by ourselves. We visited the French part (Marigot) as well. In the afternoon we did some shopping. We thought the island was beautiful, but that was before we had seen St. Lucia and St. Thomas.
St. Lucia: On St. Lucia we took the 7.5-hour island tour. During the first 4 hours we explored the island in an air-conditioned bus. We visited the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean, Marigot bay and some more very nice spots. After lunch, which was nothing special, we were brought to a huge catamaran that would bring us back to the ship. We stopped for an hour at a beach for some swimming. We were very lucky, because when we were on St. Lucia, the carnival was going on. It was great to see what carnival is like in the Caribbean! We thought St. Lucia was absolutely gorgeous.
Barbados: On Barbados, my sister and I went on a 4x4 adventure. It was a real bumpy ride, but it was a lot of fun! My parents went on a tour to a rum-distillery. They thought it was nice. Carnival Destiny (which is actually bigger than the Millennium) was docked next to us in Bridgetown. It was a great sight, those two mega-ships in Barbados’ green water.
St. Kitts: Not interesting. The island is very small and except for the rainforest, there isn’t very much to see. We took a cab to the capital, Basseterre, were we did some necessary shopping before heading back to the ship for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.
St. Thomas: Fantastic! Not only is it a shoppers paradise, it’s also extremely beautiful. We did a short island tour in a not so comfortable open bus. The views on this island are stunning. We saw Magens bay, which is supposed to be one of the top-ten most beautiful beaches in the world. We would love to come back to St. Thomas for a land-based vacation.
Debarkation was awful. We didn’t have a flight to catch because we were going to spend two more days in Miami-Beach before heading back to Holland. When our color was called, we had to stand in line for about half an hour in the grand Foyer, before being able to exit the ship and pick up our luggage. I really think Celebrity and Port Everglades have to discuss this procedure, because it’s a large contrast between the luxury of the cruise and the “fuss” of the debarkation.
This cruise has been perfect. Millennium is a beautiful ship that is well maintained, clean and luxurious. The service is excellent and the crew tries very hard to make your cruise a great experience. Our itinerary was great, with many sea-days and awesome ports of call. Celebrity just has to take a closer look at the debarkation, but I’d like to say:
Keep up the good work and thanks for a great vacation!