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Review of Millennium May 27th - June 6th Alaska Cruisetour (and a bit more)

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First things first, this is going to be longwinded. So you’ve been forewarned! :D


There was more going on for this trip than just a cruise, which I will get to shortly. My wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on this cruise (May 28th), so we decided to “go all out” on this vacation. We spent a few days in Seattle prior to the cruise (which was awesome!), a day was also spent with friends of ours who live in Anacortes, WA, eventually ending up in Vancouver, BC, the day before we left for the cruise. We had absolutely excellent weather throughout, with very little rain. (A drizzle in Skagway, an hour long soft shower in Icy Strait Point, and a morning rain in Anchorage the day we headed home.)


The time spent in Seattle was one of just exploring all the things we missed the first time we were there 4 years ago. It was a very packed 5 days, but it was loads of fun going to places like the aquarium, EMP, and the Chihuly Glass Garden. We also got a great deal on an apartment which I booked through AirBNB (the actual company is called Stay Alfred and they used AirBNB to advertise the place). We were a block from Pike Place Market and within walking distance of pretty much everything. Here are a couple pics of the view from the balcony of where we stayed.




So if you’re looking for a great place to stay in Seattle, do a lot of research on AirBNB and you’ll find it! Also, if you’re there, go to Five Point Café! A great little hole-in-the-wall diner!


After Seattle, as I said, we took the Amtrak train up and we spent a day in Anacortes with friends. Just a beautiful place to visit and I wish we had more time. Especially when there is an incredible restaurant called Dad’s Diner there! (I’m a foodie, what can I say? :p )


The Thursday before the cruise we again hopped on the Amtrak and got to Vancouver. We used that as a “day of rest” for the most part.


May 27th we boarded the cruise! It was an incredibly easy process. We got there just a little after 10:00AM and we were on board by 11:30. Canada Place has it down pat! By far the quickest and easiest embarkation I have ever had.


The ship has definitely been “refreshed” from its dry dock, but there is still some minor work that needs to be done (mainly painting). Overall she looks very good though and I have no complaints. Having been on Summit previously, we felt "at home" on Millennium. We both love the M-Class ships.


Anyway, once we got on board we headed to the MDR for the Concierge lunch. Ugh. We never should have bothered. EXTREMELY limited menu and no options for those who like steak, chicken, or pork… So bear this in mind when you go there so you don’t face the disappointment as we did. We headed to the buffet instead, which was surprisingly “empty”. I was very grateful for that! No pushing and shoving!


After eating we headed off to upgrade the drink package, make our reservation at Qsine for our anniversary and order the internet package. 2 out of 3 were great! The Xcellerate internet was horrible for me. It ran extremely slowly. It occasionally took up to 5 minutes for something to load up. It didn't matter where I was on the ship, it was all the same: SLOW. So unless you REALLY need to be on the internet, save some money and pass on the package. That was probably the only real aggravation we had the entire cruise and the only true negative we had.


More to come later, but a few picture postings below....

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More ship pics!


The new large screen TV on the rooftop terrace:



The terrace does offer great views!





Caught this during the post-muster drill roll call meet up!


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Just a few more for tonight.


My view in the MDR for dinner:



Relaxing on the balcony:



Think I have a modelling career ahead of me?



I had views like this a lot of the time.







More tomorrow!

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Hi Kevin! We just arrived back from our Post Cruise Tour and was so happy to get to meet you and your lovely Paula.


I'll be writing a review of my own (minus photos) but can't wait to read along to hear all about how you felt things went.

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More review!


After the easiest embarkation and lunch at the buffet ever, and after using up all the OBC we collected ( :D ), we explored a bit. I’ve already posted a pic of the TV on the new rooftop terrace, the terrace is truly a great place to be to watch sail away. I love what they did to deck 12. The warmer climate cruisers will really love it!


We got into our cabin around 1:30 and our luggage arrived soon thereafter! We were unpacked and ready to go by 2:30! Our room steward was Huly and he definitely was one of the better stewards we’ve had. We had to only ask for one thing: binoculars. Otherwise, it was all taken care of and efficiently done.


A bit about the cabin though. We stayed in 9140. I specifically picked this cabin for a few reasons. The main one was where it was located on the ship and the coverage it gave us on the balcony. If it rained, we would have been perfectly dry! However, as I found out the last night on the ship, right across the hallway from our door is the entrance where they take the luggage on and off the deck! Definitely quiet the entire cruise, until that last night! I’d still pick this cabin again!


After the muster drill a few of us from the roll call made it up to the rooftop for sail away! I didn’t realize until much later that I had forgotten to take pictures! (Sorry, everyone!) A good time was had by all! Unfortunately, we were delayed leaving the port because they were still loading supplies on to the ship. So we never got the opportunity to watch from the terrace as we sailed off. We didn’t leave port until about 6:30, 2 hours late.


Our servers in the MDR were James and Patreet. They were good, not great. We didn’t lack for service, but it’s not the type of service I’ve gotten in the past from Celebrity. Not exactly a complaint per se, just an observation. I did, however, have an issue with the sommelier. He definitely did not like us bringing our own bottle of wine to dinner the third night. (It was a bottle we had bought last year on our anniversary specifically for this cruise.) He quite reluctantly opened the bottle and poured for us, but only after questioning me a couple of times if I really wanted to spend the money for the corkage fee. It was a bit irksome.


After dinner we headed to the martini bar. I’ll say right now we saw no shows while on board. We did hear many people complaining about the poor quality of the shows though and that the performances lacked any type “passion” or exuberance. As for the martini bar, as much as I love it, I really wish they turned the music down just a bit! It made it somewhat difficult to hold a conversation at times, but it never detracted from the enjoyment of martinis! Crème brûlée martinis are awesome!! It’s not on the menu, but you can order it! Music aside, still a great place to relax after dinner.


The martini bar is also where we meet up with Jane & Bob. (Yep, that’s her posting above mine here!) Great couple!! My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the few times we were able to hang out with them. And that first night, Jane was definitely enjoying herself immensely! That’s all I will say to avoid any embarrassment. :D


We made it a somewhat early evening and decided to relax further on the balcony to watch the scenery of the Inner Passage. There is absolutely nothing more serene than that. If you’re a spiritual person at all, this is what true peace is.


Time to break this into days now:


Day 2, Inner Passage: As I said, this was out third Alaskan cruise. On the previous two cruises, it poured both times we sailed the Inner Passage. This time, however, it was beautiful all day. Not a drop of rain! Again we spent tons of time on our balcony to enjoy the scenery. This was also the day I forgot to adjust the time on my watch, so we got up an hour earlier than “needed”! It was when we showed up and the Connections Party did I figure it out! So we took the hour to wander the ship some more and work off breakfast a bit!


10:30 was the Connections Party at Qsine and many of the roll call people showed up! It was great to meet everyone. I’ll post the group picture a bit later. (Not sure I can access the site where my pictures are loaded from work.) Of all the roll call parties I’ve attended, this one was one of the best.


Later that day we spent a bit of time with Jane & Bob on their aft balcony. I am still trying to figure out how Jane fit all 10 pieces of luggage in her cabin, but she did it!! :p


Anyway, most of the rest of the day was just spent enjoying the sailing of the Passage. We did Qsine for dinner for anniversary and it was absolutely incredible. It was our third visit Qsine and it was probably the best one to date. I know some people have issues with spending the money for it, but for us it’s one of the highlights of the cruise. It’s 2 and half hours of pure self-indulgent enjoyment!


After waddling out of Qsine, we stopped by Rendezvous Lounge to listen to some music and digest a bit! Most of the talent that appeared there was very good. Afterwards we headed back to the cabin for much needed sleep for a busy day in Ketchikan the next day!


More review a bit later, and hopefully some pics if I can access the site from work! Otherwise, much later today!

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Success! I can access the site from work!


The roll call group photo:



The view from Jane & Bob's aft cabin:



Picture of Paula, Jane, and some of Bob:



The porthole in the floor of the Oceanview Cafe!



We were being followed!



One of MANY pictures of shore I took.


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Celebrating our 20th in style!



Paula's second favorite dish there: Tresviche!



Her absolute favorite: Escargot & Lobster fritters.



And my spring rolls!



In the end, they surprised us with a cake!


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A couple more from the glass garden:





I need to share the menu at Dad's (a bit blurry, sorry!):



Ship pics!


Martini bar:



Our cabin:



Quick question, do they still have shower curtains or have they changed to glass doors during Millie's dry dock? Never sailed M class, October will be our first and will be on Millie, as you know S Class ships have the glass shower doors.

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Shower curtains in the Concierge cabins.


Guess its shower curtains for our Veranda cabin then. Thanks for the quick reply. Have a nice weekend.


And Happy 20th Anniversary, hope we can meet up with you on a cruise in the future.

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More review!


Later that day we spent a bit of time with Jane & Bob on their aft balcony. I am still trying to figure out how Jane fit all 10 pieces of luggage in her cabin, but she did it!! :p



I'm coining a new phrase - "luggage shaming" - :o. As a proud member of OPA (over packers anonymous) - I resemble that statement. In fact we each had 1 carry on and 2 checked bags.


Once we hit the 6 night post cruise tour we each had our carry on bags and 1 checked bags each delivered to our rooms. :p


We just got home and the worst part of this trip is the laundry afterwards.

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First things first, no idea why my pictures are no longer showing, but hopefully the ones I post from now on will show!


Back to the review!




We had no plans for excursions in Ketchikan. With this being our third time here, we were more interested in doing a self-guided walking tour of the city. I am very glad we decided to do it, because it gave me a much better appreciation the history of the city. I still find it to be the most “tourist-y” of them all, but once you get past the port you can really enjoy what the city has to offer. If you have no desire to go any of the excursions here, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out this site to download a map for a walking tour of the city: http://www.experienceketchikan.com/ketchikan-walking-tour.html. You can go at your own pace. For us it was ideal. Plus the tour does have you ending up a Burger Queen for lunch! :p Just an awesome dive place for a burger. Plus they’ll deliver to the bar next door where you can enjoy a beer with your burger!


After lunch we went back to the ship. We left the port early, 3:00PM, so it was good timing. Rest of the day I rested. At this point I was at my “lowest” because of a head cold. So that put a damper on doing much that night other than dinner.




This was our first time here. This is where we also had a whale watching tour, which we did book through Celebrity. This is also one of the few ports where only one ship at a time will be docked there. So if you’re here, you know your ship is alone! And as we were docked, before getting off, we were watching eagles flying around and landing in one of the trees.


The whale watching tour was fun. We have done one in the past in Juneau and we had an incredible experience with it. This time we didn’t see as much wildlife, but that’s nature for you. We DID see quite a few whales though on the tour. We even saw a couple of sea otters. Overall we had a really good time.


As we returning to the dock after the tour, there was a whale breaching near shore. He (his nickname is “Barry”) apparently does that quite a bit, though this was the first time this cruise season. Unfortunately, as I was about to take a picture of him, a rush of people jostled me and cut in front of me, so I got no pictures him. Though I did get a “great” one of a woman in a pink hood…. (please note the sarcasm)


As we docked, it started to rain slightly. First rain of the cruise. It wasn’t bad at all though. We were thinking of eating on shore, but the massive amounts of people at the eating establishments pretty much made our decision to return to the ship for us. Plus the head cold wasn’t helping. I must say though, the food smelled awesome.


After dinner we stayed in Rendezvous Lounge because it was quieter than the martini bar. We did, however, grab a martini to bring with us to drink in the lounge! :)


More a bit later, but some pics now.

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I just think this is an awesome statue.



The infamous Creek Street.



No salmon....yet. We were about 2 weeks too early for the spawning.



If you get the chance, visit here! You'll learn a ton of history of Ketchikan and the native people.


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Icy Strait Point.



One of three eagles we saw flying around as we docked.



Heading out to whale watch! (Despite the ominous look to the clouds, it didn't rain until we returned.)



We did see whales though!






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One more whale shot.



Sea otter!



Heading back to the dock. Now it's raining!



Eagle still in the tree! (Sorry for the blurry image, that was the max limit for my zoom!)



The singer at Rendezvous Lounge. I never got her name, but she was really good!


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Day 5, JUNEAU:


Today was the day I have been waiting on for 10 years. My helicopter ride to walk on Mendenhall Glacier. Our first time to Alaska we didn’t have enough time to do it and a whale watching tour; the second time it got canceled because of fog. This time, however, the day was absolutely gorgeous!!


I needed to wait though…. The excursion was at 12:00, so we had a bit of time to kill. Not a problem! I would also finally get the opportunity to visit a place I’ve been trying to get to, and failing, the previous two times in Juneau: Pie in the Sky bakery! So once off the ship we headed over there! I was so excited. I had called to make sure they’d be open when the ships were in, so I wouldn’t waste my time! Unfortunately, I wasted my time. There was a sign on the door saying “life happens” and they were closed that day. :( Seriously? I was not happy….


Ah well. At least I had the helicopter ride to look forward to, right?? :)


And, yes it did happen! And it was AWESOME!!!! Check one off the bucket list for me! Even my wife, who was quite nervous about the flight, enjoyed it a lot! If you get the opportunity, do this!!! It was seriously the BEST excursion I've ever had on any ship!


Anyway, after literally coming back down to Earth, we did a bit of sightseeing in town, tried to hop on a the green trolley, but it never showed. With the temperature dropping like a rock in water, we said the heck with it and headed back to the ship. No idea if that trolley showed…. We left with it being 15 minutes late in arriving.


Back on board, we warmed up at Café al Bacio and then headed off to dinner later. And, as usual, the evening was spent between the Martini Bar and Rendezvous Lounge, meeting up Jane and her husband, Bob.




Like in Ketchikan, we had no excursions planned here. We’ve done all we wanted to do at this port, but we do love the city, so we were excited about exploring on our own. We also had tickets for a show called THE DAYS OF ’98 SHOW, a show about (and I quote) “Soapy Smith, Alaska's most notorious outlaw”. It was an incredibly fun show! Hokey as hell, but completely and uproariously fun! It’s probably on the edge of PG/PG-13, so very little ones should probably avoid it.


After the show I finally got to Skagway Brewing Co. for lunch! SUPER crowded, but we hit it at the right moment. We got there about 11:30 and waited close to 15 minutes. I heard that later in the day the wait times were close to 90 minutes. Not too many places are worthy of such a wait time, this place is. If only for the beer cheddar soup and the Spruce Tip Ale!


After lunch we were about to finish our walking tour, did a few blocks, and it began to rain. We decided to call it a day at that point. It was close to 1:30 or so anyway and Millennium left at 4:00. Thankfully they had shuttles going back forth to the ships and downtown. (There were 3 ships in town that day.) Fair warning to those docking in Skagway: The walk from the ship to edge of town (basically 1st and State St.) is probably a half mile long walk.


And if you’re curious about the walking tour we did, here’s where I go the map for it: http://skagway.com/walking-tour-and-trail-maps/walking-tour-map/

One thing I found interesting as we left Skagway was what looked like an old light house on an island in the middle of nowhere. I’ll post the picture below.


Also, this was the night of the second “no longer formal but now chic night”. I was pleasantly surprised to many people dressing up and not “dressing down”. Many suit jackets for the men and long dresses/gowns for the ladies.




Ugh, I actually had to wake up very early to see it. 6:00AM early…. My wife, on the other hand, stayed in bed. Today was her day for the head cold to knock her out. I let her sleep in and I headed up to deck 12 to get great views of the glacier. This is where I learned again how rude can be. There was a group of us sitting in the loungers looking over the railing to keep an eye out for the glacier and people started to walk right in front of us and lean on the railing. :mad: I wasn’t going to have any of that. I said excuse me and pulled up the lounger right up the railing so no one could cut in front. Some weren’t happy, but there were about 10 of us who had been sitting there since 6:30!


Anyway, I realized with the way the ship was turning, I’d get better views from my own balcony! So off I ran to get there! And I got some great shots, too. My wife even got up for a few moments to see the glacier before the pull of the bed got her. I was also able to get views of the glacier from Jane & Bob’s aft cabin! Thanks, guys!


With this being the final night on board I tried my hand at some blackjack. Usually I do all right. Most times, at worst, I’ll break even. Not this time. It just seemed that the dealer had an insane amount of luck…. So much so that the 5 of us sitting at the table all got up at the same time and left. I didn’t break even, but I kept my losses to $20. I have never seen a dealer THAT lucky in any casino, land or sea. Period. :rolleyes:


Time for more pictures!

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Millennium from the pier at Juneau.



Here comes my ride!



My wife "trapped" in the front!



Me eager for the adventure to begin!



And away we go...



Yeah, there will many 'copter pics!

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Beginning the flight over Juneau.



What I could see out the front.



I decided to do a zoom function through the front for a better pic.



Yeah, the views are incredible.



No we're getting closer to Mendenhall.


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