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suzyv

Millie Eastern Caribbean Sailing (Post #1) 4/17/05 - 4/24/05

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This won’t even begin to rival chesterh’s amazing Celebrity travelogues, but I thought I’d give my own review a shot. I’ll post in sections, and hopefully it won’t take me too long to get it all down.

 

My husband and I just returned from sailing the Eastern Caribbean aboard Millennium. We had a truly fantastic time, and this was our sixth time sailing with Celebrity together...twice aboard Century, once aboard Zenith, once aboard Galaxy, and now twice aboard Millennium. As our track record clearly suggests, we love Celebrity Cruises and their fleet of stunning ships. So much so that we're actually afraid to try another cruise line. This particular sailing began on Sunday, April 17th in Ft. Lauderdale, continued to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, San Juan, St. Thomas, on to Nassau and finally back to Ft. Lauderdale on the 24th. It went like this...

 

Sunday, April 17th...Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 

Our day began at an hour I did not previously know existed...2:50 AM. We booked the earliest flight to Ft. Lauderdale from BWI to ensure that we would arrive in time to catch the ship. Unfortunately we paid the price of being prepared in loss of sleep. We dressed in shorts, ever hopeful that the temperature on our indoor thermometer didn’t really read 34 degrees. After the 25th check of our luggage and miscellaneous cruise paraphernalia, we kissed our animals goodbye and headed for the in-laws house. They were kind enough to brave the early morning hour to drop us off at the airport, and we are most grateful to them for the sacrifice. It was indeed 34 degrees outside, and prompted full-blast heat for the entire ride to the airport. After a little breakfast, and some...how to put it politely…not-quite-Starbucks...airport coffee, we plodded through security, and awaited our flight in the terminal. This was our first flight since before September 11th, and therefore our first time dealing with all of the new security measures. We were asked to take off our shoes, which was easy for me since I was wearing sandals. Sending up a quick prayer that my husbands socks were clean, I glanced down, sighed gratefully, and proceeded through the screening process uneventfully. Equally uneventful was the flight into Ft. Lauderdale. Our luggage was easy to spot as there were only about 30 people on our crack of dawn flight. We were less than impressed with the early morning Florida weather, and had been hoping for some heat to chase away the Maryland chill we had left behind. A friend of mine that I worked with years ago…now a Ft. Lauderdale resident…offered to pick us up at the airport and drive us to Port Everglades. Eager to catch up with him, if only for a short time, we accepted the offer. He met us in the baggage claim area and whisked us away to the cruise ship terminal. Somehow it took far less time than it had in the past when we hailed a cab. Strange...

 

Passenger drop-off and pickup is always an adventure at Port Everglades. Many folks wait outside to be picked up from the previous cruise, while new passengers try to sort out where they should be, and where they should take their luggage. As Carlos created a spot to pull into, we quickly jumped out, grabbed our luggage, said our good-byes, and sprinted to the curb to avoid collision. Not for the first time I was thankful that I have packing for a cruise down to a science, and didn’t pack any unnecessary clothes.

 

The Millie awaited us, floating placidly alongside the port. The last time we sailed on her, she was sporting yellow paint in addition to Celebrity’s signature sapphire blue and white. I personally liked the paint job she had before, but admitted that the blue and white are a striking contrast and fit more with the classic Celebrity look. In our opinion, there aren’t too many ships out there that can compete with the beauties in Celebrity’s fleet. Later in the cruise we idly wondered to each other just how many coats of paint it had taken to cover up the yellow.

 

While I staked out some chairs in the terminal with our carry-on luggage, Greg hauled our suitcases to the check-in area, filled out luggage tags, and left the bags in the hopefully capable hands of the porters. Filling out luggage tags upon arrival at the terminal was a new procedure for us, and a bit of a pain. We were used to filling them out ahead of time, which seemed to make the process easier. I’m not sure why the procedure was changed, but we heard some complaints from others about it as well. After the luggage was taken care of, it was a very short time before we were able to board the ship. As Captains Club members, priority embarkation is one of our benefits, and we strongly recommend joining. I believe it’s free now, where in the past it was $35 to join, so there’s no reason not to do it. The priority embarkation and disembarkation alone are worth the few minutes it will take to join. We made our way through port security, with some discussion about my three birth certificates. I was born in England, and I always get “the eye” when I present my birth certificates to the document checkers. I’m almost glad that, as of December, passports will be required for all cruise ship passengers. Despite the price and hassle of getting a passport, it should be easier than the birth certificate route. Hopefully I won’t be pegged as an illegal immigrant ever again. Our excitement built more and more as we rode the escalator up to the second floor of the terminal, passed quickly through the “photo-op” area, smiled pretty for our Sea Pass card pictures, and finally boarded Millennium. Despite the considerable breeze and chilly temperatures, visions of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and the warmth to come immediately filled my head the instant my feet touched the deck. We accepted a glass of champagne from a smiling hostess, and toasted each other and the fun that we knew was about to begin. I’ve seen a lot of criticisms about Celebrity’s welcome aboard champagne, but I think it’s a nice touch. It may not be the best champagne in the world…okay, it’s pretty much bottom of the barrel as far as quality…but they’re trying to start each passengers cruise with a touch of elegance. It’s something that we appreciate, not for the taste of the champagne certainly, but at least for the effort.

 

Stepping inside Millennium was like coming home for us. It’s true that we’d only spent a week of our lives on her, but it’s easy to become as familiar with a ship as you are with your own home when you’re roaming it’s decks for a week. We immediately went to the Rendezvous Lounge where we knew the Maitre D’ for the Metropolitan restaurant would be posted. For the past few cruises we’ve chosen late seating, and we were hoping for a table for two on this cruise. Many people cruise to meet new friends, and prefer to sit at large tables for dinner. We’re a little different. When we go on vacation, we’re looking to spend time with each other, and a table for two at dinner accomplishes that. As fellow cruisers know, eating dinner takes up a good chunk of the evening, and we prefer to spend that time with each other. This is not to say that being seated with other people would ruin our cruise. Quite the contrary. We’ve been seated with other passengers on previous cruises, and have really enjoyed ourselves. In fact, we’re still in touch with a couple that we were seated with on our last Millennium cruise some years ago. It is simply our preference to dine by ourselves if possible. With fingers crossed we asked if we’d gotten a table for two, and were told that we had. Success. On to the buffet.

 

Still hauling our carry-on bags, we headed to Deck 10 and the Ocean Café. Along the way, we took in the lovely interior of Millennium. Elegance is the word that always comes to mind when I am asked how to describe one of Celebrity’s ships. Millennium, and I imagine the other ships in her class…Constellation, Summit and Infinity…are the height of elegance. Muted woods and soft colors create a pleasing atmosphere, while interesting artwork brings life to the walls and miscellaneous corners around the ship. I’ll be the first to admit that some of the artwork is a bit…odd. Take for example the collage of swimming pool pictures outside the starboard entrance to the Ocean Café. I found my right eyebrow raising in puzzled amusement every time I walked past the display. And my lips definitely quirked a bit every time I passed the Buddha-esque busts in the aft stairwells. My opinion on some of the artwork notwithstanding, the designers clearly took a lot of time and care in deciding how the ship should be decorated. Millennium could easily be classified as a floating art museum, between all that she is decorated with, and the artwork carried onboard for the art auctions. There are modern touches all around the ship, but there is nothing stark or clinical about her. She is graceful, fun, innovative, tasteful and just a bit offbeat in places. A wonderful mix, in my opinion.

 

I may be the only one on this, but I notice the carpet on cruise ships. Let’s keep it real folks…some of the carpet aboard these ships is nothing short of hideous. I’m talking raise-your-eyes-to-the-ceiling-to-avoid-looking-at-it hideous. However, I didn’t find myself looking down and cringing at all this time. Either Millennium had some people with taste picking out her carpet, or I’m finally getting used to the style. I’m not sure which. If it’s the latter, I’ll be sure to seek professional help immediately.

 

I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was to use the stairs to get to the buffet, but we were gasping for air by the time we made it to Deck 10. We arrived at the Ocean Café more than ready to eat. We chose a buffet line, and joined the throngs of hungry passengers. Here we discovered something new…hand sanitizer stations. You simply hold your hand under the opening, and the clever little machine dispenses a perfect amount of hand sanitizer. These things are so cool…or maybe I just don’t get out much. Seriously though, I applaud Celebrity for understanding the risks of infections and illnesses that are inherent on a cruise ship, and for trying to cut down on the spread as much as they can. We personally used these little stations quite often during our cruise, along with normal hand washing. Accepting my linen covered tray and silverware from the tray and flatware guy du jour, I looked ahead to the vast sea of food in front of me and knew that the cruise had truly begun.

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Hi Suzy,

 

Wow! Can't wait to read more about your cruise.

Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

We did the Millennium in February and it was a great cruise.

What's not to love!

 

Mari

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We were on the same cruise and enjoyed it immensely! Wondering why you had to fill out luggage tags - we received ours preprinted in the Celebrity spiral-bound book we received weeks before the cruise.

 

Looking forward to your next installment!

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Hi Dave,

 

If your docs are E-Docs, then the luggage tags are filled out at the pier.

We needed extra tags ( all those shoes and golf bags ). The porter filled out the tags for us, took less than five miinutes.

 

Mari

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Dave,

 

Mari is right, it was because we had E-Docs. My husband must have had a porter at the end of his rope. He made Greg wait awhile to get the luggage tags, and then Greg had to fill them out. It wasn't a big deal, we just found it easier when we had the luggage tags beforehand. The online documents were great though!

 

The next installment is forthcoming. Hopefully I'll have it posted by the end of the day. Thanks everyone for your comments!!!

 

Suzy

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Hi Suzy,

 

Loolking forward to reading your next post.

 

Mari

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