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Evan Gray

Age: 18

Occupation:Student

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Millennium

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: n/a

Celebrity
Millenium
Western Mediterranean Adventure

Evan Gray


Background:
We are a family of four who recently celebrated my high school graduation on a 14-day cruise aboard the Millennium. This was our third cruise—Mercury in Alaska in 1999 and Grand Princess in Western Caribbean in 2003—and our best one yet. The itinerary and overall experience was amazing, and this cruise is great for anyone interested in getting a good taste of a variety of countries and/are making a first trip to Europe. Our cruise was a “special” itinerary, with an extra sea day and a half-day stop in Valetta, Malta. The cruise embarked in Barcelona Spain, with ports of call in Villefranche (French Riviera), France, Livorno (Pisa and Florence), Italy, Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, Naples (Sorrento, Capri, and Amalfi Coast), Italy, Valetta, Malta, Santorini, Greece, Mykonos, Greece, Piraeus (Athens), Greece, Dubrovnik Croatia, and disembarkation in Venice with an overnight the day before.

Booking:
We booked directly through Celebrity, which this time around was both a positive and negative experience. Unfortunately we had a lot of difficulties with our “Guest Vacation Specialist” after the initial booking. Issues with a change made to our air booking led to the discovery that it stemmed back to her. We were never contacted when Celebrity had to change our tickets on the return from Venice which was because of this same individual. Keep in mind when booking air through the cruise lines that they are at the whim of the airlines who give them discounted seats. Although the majority of people don’t experience problems like this, it was disappointing that some individuals on Celebrity’s shore-side staffing didn’t meet the caliber of the amazing people on their ships.

Pre-Cruise:
We decided to fly into Barcelona a day early and booked a hotel through Celebrity as well with the transfers included. If you can find the time, definitely go into the embarkation port a day or two early not only so that you can enjoy the city, but have some cushioning for the unexpected. We were very jet-lagged, and were extremely grateful to have the night to recuperate before the cruise. On our cruise, almost 100 people missed the ship in Barcelona between missed connections, delayed flights, and bad weather.

When we arrived in Barcelona, the Celebrity ground staff was very pleasant and transferred us directly to our hotel—Gran Hotel Havana. It was a really nice hotel, and conveniently located in a central area of the city. Barcelona is a beautiful city, with wide sidewalks and tree-lined streets. The buildings are wonderful, the city is very clean, and it’s a city that’s very easy to do on your own. Barcelona is well-planned in a grid pattern with a subway, bus lines, and plentiful and inexpensive taxis. On our first afternoon, we walked around Sagrada Familia. We heard that climbing inside isn’t worth it if you want an unobstructed view of the city. We then walked down to the marina for a wonderful Spanish dinner, and took a taxi back to the hotel to retire for the evening. The next morning, our bags were taken around 8:00 for direct transport to the Millennium. This is one advantage of utilizing transfers and hotel stays offered by the cruise line. The hotel included a delicious breakfast with an outstanding variety of options, and then we had a few hours to enjoy on our own before the transfer to the pier. We walked down to the Arc De Triomf, and enjoyed the many parks and open spaces in that area of the city. Although we didn’t go into the Gothic District or go to Las Ramblas, I’d definitely return to enjoy more of the city. Many people warn of the pick-pocketing, especially in the more touristy areas of the city.

After a painless transfer to the pier, we had a pretty easy embarkation. Celebrity still had people fill out a repetitive form at check-in which added time to the process. However, we were on the ship in no time—about twenty minutes after arriving at the pier. Once on board, we were greeted with “complimentary” champagne and orange juice, and Millennium’s harpist played outside of the elevator lobby. It was a nice opportunity for the first toast of many to celebrate the beginning of a cruise through the Mediterranean.

The Ship:
The Millennium is an amazing ship, and I can see why she and her three sisters have been so successful within the Celebrity fleet. During our cruise, her public areas were kept spotless, although it was pretty easy to tell—at least to us—that Millennium is ready for dry-dock. Many of the heavily trafficked areas were showing wear. However, once Millennium leaves Europe near the end of this year, she’ll look as good as new after her dry-dock. Instead of running through the ship, I’ll mention areas that we went to later in the review.

The Staterooms:
We booked two adjoining balcony staterooms, 8022 and 8026. The connecting door was wonderful, and I’d definitely recommend adjoining staterooms for families. Since our first cruise, we’ve discovered that we simply can’t have the four of us in a single room with one bathroom. On a longer cruise such as this one, I’d probably also be more worried about having enough storage space for more than 2 people in one room.

The rooms showed more wear and tear than the other areas onboard, with some curtains and carpets that needed to be replaced. In 8022’s bathroom (mine) the floor tiles were coming loose, but Cajy had maintenance glue them back in when we weren’t around. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean really improved the Pullman beds in their staterooms by having them entirely concealed within the ceiling, making the stateroom much more attractive. Every standard room has a large chair (almost love seat size) that has a pullout bed for a third person.

The bathroom itself was very nice, with a very generous amount of counter space, shelves for toiletries (although hanging toiletry bags are very helpful), and a hair dryer. The women in our family didn’t like the hair dryer at all, so a travel hair dryer may be a smart addition to the packing list. The shower was a very nice size, with two shelves and a retractable clothesline. The showerhead was adjustable vertically and had a hose attachment. There was a shampoo dispenser in the stall. Water pressure and temperature were very consistent, but the water ran on the hot side. The shower curtain was the typical one on cruise ships that frequently drift into one’s shower space and like to cling to the body. The bathroom also had a trash cabinet, and more cabinet space underneath the counter, which we used to put away the cotton balls and Q-tips provided by the ship. The bathroom also had a lotion dispenser and Celebrity provided bath and hand soap bars.

The room had a double-length closet with plenty of clothes hangers, and a tie-rack on the door (although the one in 8022 had been removed because one of the screw joints was broken). There was another cabinet that opened to large open shelves, with one shelf holding the room safe. Inside were also six pull out drawers. Finally facing the bed and sitting area was a door opening to the fully stocked mini bar (which can be emptied upon request), with a slide out drawer above the mini bar. The TV sat atop a shelf with an open shelf underneath for even more storage. The TV had cruise ship programming, CNN, Discovery Channel, radio music, CBS shows, many classic shows in syndication, and several movie channels (some free and some for a fee). Above the TV was another cabinet with extra pillows and blankets. Each bed or side of the bed had it’s own nightstand with two drawers and a lamp. The beds were comfortable for all of us, and were high enough to store our suitcases underneath. The desk had storage on both sides with two shelves concealed by doors. The desk had a big mirror against the wall and a tray with glasses, frequently re-filled ice bucket, and a carafe of water. It’s nice that this feature hasn’t been removed from Celebrity’s ships, as I enjoyed this a lot on our Mercury cruise—and again on this one. The lighting wasn’t very bright above the desk. The coffee table was adequate in size. The balconies were of a nice size, with much better deck flooring than the blue plastic grid flooring used on Princess’ ships. It had two upright deck chairs and a small beverage table. We were very pleased with the rooms, and the storage space was perfect for two people on a cruise of this length.

Fellow Passengers:
On European cruises, expect a much higher percentage of Europeans on board. What surprised us the most on this cruise was the large number of families onboard. We didn’t see a lot of young couples, but other than that there was a pretty diverse age distribution. The ship was far above normal occupancy, and was just short of the maximum occupancy. However, the ship seldom felt that crowded, which demonstrates the expert design of the Millennium. We had no trouble meeting some very nice people, which is another one of the joys of cruising. On a side note, many parents we met complained of their teenagers being disinterested in leaving the ship to do excursions or see the ports. It was a shame to see some disappointed parents complain about the lack of desire in their children to see such an amazing part of the world.

Dining:
I’m very pleased to say that the food on Millennium is either the same or better than it was on Mercury six years ago. I’m going to split dining into different venues and comment on each.

Metropolitan Restaurant:
The Metropolitan Restaurant is the main dining room aboard the Millennium. It has a lot of larger tables, with few tables for two. On this cruise, the late seating (8:45) was completely full. If you have special circumstances or a particular preference, make sure that your dining requests are made clear to whomever you book the cruise through. One of the best tips we can suggest is to always check your table assignment during the afternoon on embarkation day. The restaurant had an Assistant Maitre’D positioned in the Rendezvous Lounge to check table assignments and make any necessary changes. We had originally been assigned a table for 10 in spite of our request when booking. However, the Maitre’D saw our initial request in his computer, and was very quick to re-assign us. Although Celebrity still has set dining seatings, they’ve become more flexible with passengers in order to accommodate people, especially on a cruise with intensive ports like this one. They closed the doors 45 minutes after the seating began, and waiters were ready to still get passengers food if they came in after that. What made the dining experience pleasurable for us was the ability to enjoy high caliber food with outstanding service. Our waiter, Cristian, and his assistants Jose and Karina were outstanding. This was Jose’s first cruise, and it was difficult to tell. He caught on to our preferences very quickly, always asking if I wanted an ice tea, and always bringing the coffee cups out for us after the meal. Celebrity still has Sommeliers, which I think my father appreciated greatly. Carlos made very good recommendations (according to my dad) and was also a pleasure to talk to. The bar waiter in our area was terrible the first few nights, but after we offered some feedback he was much more attentive. I think assistant waiters should be able to serve sodas, but that’s just my opinion. Our Assistant Maitre’D, Cjacka, was amazing. He came to our table every evening and was a pleasure to talk to. However, Cristian was the highlight of our cruise by far. He spoke with us after every meal, enthusiastically entertained my father’s persistent dessert questions every evening, and was attentive to the perfect degree. The food was incredible. The appetizers were always very good, with a lot of variety. The soups were also excellent and creative, which I personally liked. On the first and last formal nights, Celebrity still serves the sorbet intermezzos, another example of the class that Celebrity has retained. Every evening, there was a pasta, foul, seafood, and red meat entree. At the beginning of the cruise, the meats were coming out slightly overcooked, but later in the cruise everything was much improved. The entrees had a pretty good variety, and were for the most part delicious. We didn’t have a single entrée that was a total miss, which was nice. The desserts were truly outstanding. The sherbets were some of the best we’ve had, and the pastries were of a nice variety every evening and of an excellent quality. In our opinion, dining on Celebrity (at least in the dining room) is in many ways better than Princess. The quality was much better, especially with the desserts. We also dined in the Metropolitan for a few breakfasts and lunches. The lunch menus were very good, and were different every day. The breakfast menu was always the same, but the food was very good. Most people didn’t go the Metropolitan for breakfast or lunch, which made it a nice place to have a relaxing, quiet, and enjoyable venue to have a meal with the service to match.

Ocean Grill and Café:
Part of the “Casual Dining Boulevard” on Millennium, the buffet on board was very nice. It had four separate buffet lines which flowed very well, but I think were too small to have allowed a larger variety within the buffet line itself. There were plenty of beverage stations which were easy to locate and convenient. You could get three different juices, ice tea, or various hot beverages. Waiters would also move around the tables, and would go down to the dining room to get a juice not offered in the buffet if you’d ask. The pastry stations in the morning had a nice variety, and further aft there were both made-to-order omelets and a pancake/waffle station. The sticky buns were especially delicious! In the afternoons, there was a pizza station where you could get a made-to-order Italian creation. They also had a freshly tossed pasta station, and a sandwich station with both hot and cold made-to-order options. Throughout the afternoon, ice creams and sherbets were available. In the evenings, the aft station become the sushi café with reasonable selection and a great quality of sushi. We were also told that the sushi chefs would always be more than happy to satisfy requests for sashimi or a specified kind of roll, etc. Waiters frequently circulated to either help people to tables, clear trays, or fetch beverages for passengers. Seating was usually readily available, especially in the aft areas of the buffet. Most people were eager to get seats right across from the buffet lines, but I’d recommend going further aft (around the Ocean Grill area) for both better options and quieter tables. For an hour in the afternoons, they also had a casual afternoon tea, with selections of tea, finger sandwiches and pastries. They also offered Casual Alternative Dining for a $2 per person surcharge, which other passengers said was a great alternative to dining in the restaurant on an informal or formal evening.

Riviera Grill:
The pool grill offers burgers and different kinds of “dogs” right off the grill. They had some creative daily specials, with pretty good food.

Cova Café di Milano:
Located on Deck 5 midship, the café and bakery provided an enjoyable place to savor an afternoon treat. The coffee drinks (for a surcharge) were VERY good and well worth the price. Complimentary pastries (also very good) were available in the adjacent bakery, with offerings during certain hours in the morning, afternoon, and wine selections in the evening.

Olympic Restaurant:
My parents and I went to The Olympic on the second evening with a reservation made through the Captain’s Club prior to the sail date. We were amazed at the small number of guests dining there, but it was in large part because it was so early in the cruise. The service and food were amazing and it was well worth the $30 per person cover charge. The Maitre’D and waiters cooked a lot of the food table-side, unlike anything we’ve seen on another cruise. Everything was outstanding, but the remarkable dishes included the Lobster Veloute, Goat Cheese Souffle, Lamb, Veal, and Steak Diane. The desserts were equally outstanding. The meal is lengthy—. more than two and a half hours, but the chairs were very comfortable, and the presence of the harpist was a nice complement to the dining experience. However we learned from some friends later in the cruise that with a full dining room, it was very noisy—probably because of poor restaurant design. I’d recommend making a reservation earlier in the cruise when you can get more of an intimate dining experience.

Entertainment:
For the most part, onboard entertainment was very good. The activities staff was very energetic, pleasant, and made the cruise all the more enjoyable. Harun, the Activities Manager was an outstanding Bingo host, and will be a great Cruise Director if he gets promoted. Derek Habraken, our Cruise Director, was widely visible, talkative, and sure that there was plenty to do on board.

The production shows in the Celebrity Theater were pretty good. The final show was the best, with some excellent singing talent in the cast. The dancing didn’t quite match the level of the singing, but the shows were good from an entertainment standpoint. On other nights, some guest artists performed which were very good as well. One night there was a mediocre comedian/juggler, and on another, a big-name illusionist who was outstanding.

Live music could be found almost everywhere on board. The ship’s orchestra would play big band jazz or dancing music on many of the evenings. Millennium also had a guitarist, DJ, party band, and performing duo. In Michael’s Club (my favorite area of the ship), an excellent pianist performed every evening. I’d highly recommend Michael’s Club even for one evening, with it’s very attentive bar service, amazing atmosphere and great music. The one thing I did miss on this cruise was the presence of a string trio or quartet on board. However, Millennium had an excellent variety of music for different musical tastes.

Shopping:
The shopping area on deck 5 is very laid out very well, with plenty of room to navigate the shops. Because they aren’t situated around the foyer, the foyer area remains spacious without being constantly crowded with people and tables selling goods like on Princess. My parents like art auctions, and were very disappointed on this cruise. Millennium has a very small art gallery and an even smaller space dedicated to the art auctions themselves. Lots of art pieces were propped on easels making the general area seem sort of disorganized, and the art being put up for auction wasn’t very impressive. The photo gallery on deck 4 was spacious compared to what we experienced on Grand Princess. It’s spacious enough to avert traffic jams, and was a pretty easy venue to find pictures.

Service:
What really set this cruise apart—even from our Mercury cruise—was the amazing service aboard Millennium. We never saw a crew member who appeared unhappy or was not helpful. Crew members consistently smiled and greeted passengers. At the shows, the activities staff was at the doors to greet people and converse, and the Cruise Director, Derek, was always initiating friendly conversations with passengers. The men and women on Millennium work so hard, and they never let anything get past providing the best service they can. We really were impressed with how we were treated on this cruise, and weren’t disappointed for the duration of the cruise.

Villefranche, France:
Villefranche is a beautiful town on the French Riviera just a stone’s throw away from Nice. Because of our excursion, we were unable to explore Villefranche itself, but I would definitely recommend it to people with enough time on their hands. We did the “Best of the French Riviera” excursion, and it was great. Our bus drove along the coast, through Nice, and on to Cannes which was our first stop. We enjoyed some time looking at the outside of the film festival building, the famous handprints, and admiring the ritzy shops. We stopped at a scenic restaurant outside of Grasse for a delicious lunch, and then we went into the town to tour a perfume factory. The prices for French perfume direct from the factory are very good. Later, we went to St. Paul De Vence, which is a walled medieval town on top of a hill. I would absolutely recommend it. It has a lot of art shops, but the character of the buildings and the views are amazing. This port has many options, as many of our fellow cruisers chose to head in the direction of Monaco and raved about it. In many ways I don’t think you can go wrong in Villefranche.

Livorno, Italy:
Livorno is a busy industrial port that serves as the gateway to Florence and Pisa. We did a “Pisa with Italian Beach” excursion since we wanted to have a more relaxing day between all of the intensive ports. First we went to Pisa and saw the leaning tower and other buildings. The area has too many souvenir stands and street vendors that detract from the beauty of the area. I was disappointed with how touristy it was near the monuments, however the stop is worth it to see the tower up close. Then we headed to the Italian Riviera and a seaside town called Viareggio. It’s very near Lucca, which our tour guide said is a very nice medieval city to visit. Viareggio had many beach establishments and a beautiful sea walk with plenty of shops and gelaterias. Be aware that now people must wear swimsuit cover-ups on the sea walk. Most of the stores were closed in the middle of the afternoon for siesta so plan to do your shopping before lunch. The beaches were very nice, with very fine sand and warm water. Jellyfish were abundant in the water so watch out—I managed to get stung twice. Other people really enjoyed Florence. If I go back to that area, I’m definitely interested in seeing Lucca.

Civitavecchia, Italy:
Civitavecchia is the port to get to Rome. We took the “Imperial Rome” tour, which had its plusses and minuses. Almost all of the tour groups we saw—including ours—gave everyone ear phones to listen to the guide over a radio because of all the city noise. Ours weren’t very nice, and didn’t work too well which was very disappointing when we couldn’t understand some narration. If you don’t like the ear phones that fit inside the ear, it may be wise to bring regular headphones just in case. Rome is very crowded, noisy, and confusing, so I wouldn’t recommend doing it on your own if it’s your first time. Our tour visited Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and Vatican City. The advantage of being in a group for the Colosseum is that you get in without having to stand in the VERY long line for general admission. The Colosseum is amazing on the inside, and I highly recommend it. Vatican City was also very crowded, but going inside St. Peter’s Basilica well worth it. Plan ahead and wear clothing that’s suitable for the dress code—no exposed knees or shoulders—because it is enforced. Some people in our group had to purchase polyester cover-ups from a store right outside the Vatican. If you go into Rome, plan on a very long and tiring day—we were very exhausted when we returned to Civitavecchia.

Naples, Italy:
Although I personally wasn’t very impressed with Naples itself, the port is a connection point to a great variety of places. Naples appeared to me to simply be a large city supposedly filled with con men and pickpockets. However, our tour bypassed Naples, and instead went to Sorrento and then on to Pompeii. Our tour was called “Taste of Sorrento with Pompeii.” This was by far our favorite excursion. Our tour guide, Enzo, was amazing and made the excursion even more enjoyable. Following a very scenic drive along the coast our bus dropped us off at a farm in the hills outside of Sorrento. It was a genuine Italian farm with lemon trees, multiple crops and an old world charm. We saw a demonstration of making homemade mozzarella, and were treated to a sampling of bread, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and salami. We also had an opportunity to taste and buy the limoncello made at the farm. Then we went into Sorrento where we had free time to explore the town. I absolutely loved Sorrento because it’s not touristy and is a charming, nice sized town. We found beautiful wood in-lays at good prices, and the shopping in general was pretty good. If you can, go to Sorrento, because I was wishing when we left that we had more time there. I probably would have liked to spend a whole day there. Finally we went to Pompeii. The guided tour helped with navigating and understanding the ruins, and made the experience more worthwhile. A return visit should include a trip to the Herculaneum ruins to get contrast with what’s at Pompeii. Other people we talked to also raved about Capri and the Amalfi Coast, so there are many tour options around Naples.

Valetta, Malta:
In all honesty, I can see why this port isn’t regularly scheduled in Celebrity’s itineraries. It was a half-day stop, and that was more than enough. The sail-in was stunning and the best part of this port. We found Malta to be crowded, architecturally boring, dry, and dusty. Our tour was disappointing as well, with Mdina being the most interesting stop. I think Valetta is probably very interesting, and we probably would have been more pleased if we just stayed in Valetta and wandered on our own. The Maltese are best known for their filigree and Maltese crosses, which were abundant in the shops; however most of the other shopping didn’t seem that great.

Santorini, Greece:
Santorini was another one of my favorite ports. Santorini is famous for its beautiful towns on the cliff-side of the island which overlook a caldera and volcanic island. We did a tour of the Akrotiri ruins with a stop at a winery, and transport back to the main city of Fira. The Akrotiri ruins are fascinating to people interested in archeology, but were not as impressive as Pompeii. These ruins are entirely covered which was great considering the heat, although restoration work intruded the visage because of the scaffolding. The winery stop was so-so, but I’m glad we saw the ruins. Fira is a beautiful cliff-side community, and we enjoyed a delicious Greek lunch at one of the many restaurants overlooking the caldera. Afterwards, we did plenty of shopping, with jewelry being a very easy commodity to find. We found a painter selling beautiful watercolors of the island and purchased one for a very reasonable price. I would love to go back and enjoy Oia—reportedly the most beautiful town on the island—and some of the beaches on the sea-side of Santorini. The island is very easy to do on your own, with buses and taxis to transport you anywhere on the island. While my mom, sister, and I took the cable car back down to the tender port, our father walked the trail down. He wouldn’t recommend it considering the heat and smell created by the hefty compilation of donkey droppings.

Mykonos, Greece:
Mykonos was an interesting port. It’s mainly a resort area and all of the buildings are painted a crisp, clean white. It’s a direct link to some of the most significant ancient Greek ruins on the island of Delos, but other than that there isn’t much else to do unless you’re into beaches or a good nightlife. We did the Ancient Delos tour. The island and ruins can only be reached by a ferry and are about thirty minutes from Mykonos. We find Greek ruins especially interesting because of their mythological background. After our ruins tour, we had another delicious Greek lunch, and then walked the beautiful narrow streets. Mykonos is known for both windmills and pelicans and we were fortunate to see them both. We felt that shopping was so-so, and many of the shop-owners were less friendly than those in Santorini. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our time ashore in Mykonos.

Piraeus, Greece:
Pireaus is the main port for Athens. We did the Cape Sounion tour with Athens included. Our coach drove us through Athens proper pointing out the famous landmarks. We walked to the top of the Acropolis, definitely worth the effort. The steps up weren’t too bad, but the rocks on top of the Acropolis were very slippery, so I wouldn’t recommend sandals. It was also very hot, but our tour company gave us iced water bottles. One advantage of this tour was that we were on an air conditioned bus for much of the day, while many other Athens tours dropped people off for many hours on end. Athens appeared to be a very crowded, congested, and modern city. Cape Sounion, the southernmost point of Greece was well worth the trip. The drive was a little long, but the coastline was beautiful and the Temple of Poseidon on the Cape is beautiful. There were many little hotels in this area. It would be easy to stay in this area and still hit the main tourist attractions in Athens. In all honesty, I think Athens is a city I wouldn’t mind doing only once, although I think I’d like to go back just for the sake of seeing the Parthenon without the scaffolding and restoration work.

Dubrovnik, Croatia:
This was another great port of call. On this day, Millennium anchored offshore and we were able to tender directly into the old city, as opposed to transferring to the old city from the pier that is about 5-10 minutes away by bus. Dubrovnik is a very unique port, which made it a great addition to the itinerary. The old walled city is beautiful, with a unique style of architecture. We went on the tour entitled, “Best of the Adriatic” which toured the city and then drove us through the beautiful countryside for lunch with a short stop in the seaside town of Cavtat. Our tour emphasized the art in the old city, which wasn’t that special in my opinion, but we were given enough free-time to enable us to walk part of the city walls and enjoy the vantage from above. Many portions of the walls were very narrow, which could be a challenge for the unstable. In Croatia, most places accepted Euros, although the Croatian kuno was preferred. It cost 4.50 Euros for admittance to the wall. The Croatian countryside is beautiful, and I’d really recommend getting out of the city as well. You can still see some remnants of the war, which served as a sobering reminder of the recovery in process. This was a great port, and I’d recommend getting an early start in the morning before the old town really fills up with people. Crystal Serenity was the only other ship in port our day, and the city felt pretty crowded. We were told that Dubrovnik is becoming a very popular port of call for cruise ships, and one needs reservations far in advance to visit on your own.

Venice, Italy:
Venice was a fitting city in which to end such a fantastic cruise. We took a tour to San Giorgio Island, Murano, and enjoyed a gondola ride down part of the Grand Canal. The gondola ride was a great experience, and so was the trip to Murano. Glass is prevalent in Venice so a trip to one of the factories may not be necessary unless you’re a serious glass shopper. Murano glass is spectacular, and watching the glass blowing was a nice treat. We returned to St. Marks Square after lunch onboard the ship, and enjoyed shopping and touring part of the city during the afternoon. Venice is very crowded during tourist season, and I was amazed at the solid throngs of people. The shopping got a lot cheaper past the Rialto, so I’d definitely recommend the walk over the bridge to get to cheaper stores. The streets are very narrow, so it’s best to keep an eye on your belongings at all times as well. Venice is such a unique city, and one that could easily keep you occupied for more than a day.

Disembarkation:
Although we were extremely disappointed to leave Millennium, we were very pleased with our smooth departure. The disembarkation procedure was by far the best we had ever experienced, with a timely and direct transfer to the airport. Instead of making everyone wait in lounges at the same time, they gave all passengers a disembarkation group staggered in times. We arrived in our meeting area and left the ship several minutes later, which removed the need for PA announcements and annoying crowds.

Final Thoughts:
This cruise was amazing. The length was perfect for traveling in this part of the world, and it was well worth the hefty investment in time and energy. While this trip was very intensive in the beginning, remember that you don’t have to make it that way. We worked to make our excursions and days less intensive in the beginning so that we wouldn’t be completely exhausted by our first sea day. We were all really impressed with the outstanding level of service and quality cruise product that Celebrity delivers. Thank you for reading, and happy cruising.

Biggest Tips:
-Fly in a day early, and do custom air if booking air through the cruise line.
-Bring a water bottle to fill from the carafe in your room if you’re not particular about the water you drink. Now Celebrity really pushes the bottled Evian water—nearly everywhere—so you can save a lot of money by taking care of it yourself. Some of our excursion companies also gave us bottled water.
-Do the Olympic Restaurant early in the cruise before it really fills up.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for more than one dish in the dining room—you’re not paying for it and they’re happy to do it! We often ordered almost all of the desserts on the menu for our table.
-Bring your own hair dryer if you want something functional.
-A major issue for us on this cruise was the lack of enforcement of the dress code. In our opinion, Celebrity should either use it or lose it, because it became really annoying to see the same people constantly disregarding the dress code.
-Tables in the buffet area are much quieter and more plentiful farther aft.
-If you want to sunbathe without being near the pool, walk up the stairs to Deck 12 Forward where it’s secluded, quiet, and deck chairs are abundant.

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