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


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Well, I cannot figure out why my pictures are no longer showing, so the rest of the review will be picture-less. :( Sorry, folks!

 

Days 8-11, SEWARD (Debarkation) to TALKEETNA and DENALI, etc.:

 

Now for the land portion of the review.

 

First of all, easiest debarkation ever. Granted, there was o customs to deal with, but getting off the ship and on to the bus for our travels into Alaska could not have any smoother. We had our assigned time to get off the ship at 7:50 and we were called to leave right on time! We were on the bus by 8:00. As we got on the tour director (Sally) introduced herself and handed us the day’s itinerary. We waited a brief time to get everyone on board and off we went!

 

We did pull over right after leaving the port (the bus was not allowed hang around at the port after it was filled) so Sally could fully introduce herself and the driver of the bus (Mark). They were AWESOME! Every day Mark started off with a story that was actually an elaborately told joke. :)

 

Anyway, land tours involve a lot of bus travel. It’s literally hours between stops. Some didn’t realize this and some minor complaints were made. I don’t what they were expecting. Celebrity does not yet have Star Trek-like transporter systems….

 

Our first stop was at the Alaska Wildlife Center near Anchorage. It’s not like a zoo or a typical animal sanctuary. AWC primarily houses animals that are endangered and they’re attempting to build up the numbers for release back into the wild (such as the Wood Bison) or animals that just cannot survive in the wild any longer because of injuries or they’re orphaned. It’s an absolutely glorious place as far as I’m concerned. I wish had more time to spend there.

 

Then we headed to Talkeetna! While there we stayed at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge for the night. It’s a very nice place to stay. Best of all they do have a shuttle that’ll take you to town, though it only runs until about 6:30. Thankfully, there is a taxi service! It’s $4 person each way. Though if you eat at Twister Creek (which I HIGHLY recommend), they have vouchers and the ride if free for you! Just ask them!

 

As for Talkeetna itself, it’s small and quaint. I loved it. Even though I was excited to be going to Denali the next day, I would have quite happy remaining here. But off to Denali we went!

 

It’s about a 2 and half hour drive from Talkeetna to Denali. But we were making great time so we made some unscheduled stops along the way. One for ice cream. :) Once we got to the Denali Visitor Center we were able to head off for some lunch before our Historical tour in the park. Thankfully, we were the first bus to arrive! (There were 3 other tour buses from Celebrity doing similar tours as ours.) It gets crowded quickly!

 

We only did the shorter Natural History Tour, but there is a longer Tundra Wilderness Tour you could take. Mind you, the tours started at about noon. Our tour took 4-5 hours. The Tundra tour takes about 8-9 hours. They provide a small snack on the longer tour, but from what I heard from others who took it, they were quite hungry when they got back to the lodge where we were staying. (More on that in a bit.)

 

I’ll admit, it was a bit of a mess in terms which bus we needed to go on and at one time. There was a huge throng of people milling about with no clue what to do. The tour directors for each group had differing information as to what time to be there to board, etc. It all got straightened out, but it was confusing for a short time. It was also the only time for us that it was that “messy”.

 

We both loved the History Tour. And while we probably would have enjoyed the longer tour, the extended time just didn’t work for us. Unfortunately, that day Mount Denali was covered by clouds. According to the bus driver/tour guide we had, Mount Denali is only seen a few times during the summer months. So if you see it, count yourself lucky! It was somewhat disappointing, but that’s nature. We still had a great time.

 

Now then, for bad part of the trip. Denali Park Village is terrible. Period. Horrible service, unclean rooms, and just an overall lack of caring by staff. In my room, under the beds was garbage. Used straws, pieces of paper. I would never have seen it if I hadn’t dropped something and needed to retrieve it from under the bed! We didn’t have dinner there (I’ll get to that in a sec), but we had no choice for breakfast. It’s just a very basic buffet. Nothing being served stands out. We got there and there were 2 other tables that had people at them. We sat down, asked for coffee, and we headed to the buffet. We ate, drank the coffee….. and that was it. NO service. NO refills. NO asking how things were. NO interaction by the staff at all. We could have walked out without paying and no one would have noticed. I didn’t do it, but I could have. Suffice it to say, no one got a tip. The worst thing is, the buffet cost us $29.95 a person! It wasn’t even worth $9.95.

 

Now then, they figure you’re pretty much stuck there so it really shows up in the work ethic and service, as it certainly did for breakfast. Thankfully there is new shuttle that started this year that’ll take you the 8 miles into town! It starts at 4:00PM with the final trip being at 10:30PM. It costs $5 a person each way. It’s well worth it!!!! I’m somewhat shocked that the lodge is allowing him to pick people up right at the door, but I’m glad they did! Not that it matters, he could easily pick people up at the entrance if he had to, and it’s a short walk. That shuttle was the saving grace for that night!

 

The next day we went to Husky Homestead to play with puppies!! You get there and, as you literally step off the bus, they hand you a 3 week old puppy to hold! This is actually part of their training, to get used to being handled by many people as they would during a race. After that, we got to see some of what Jeff King does to train them for a race and then he talks for a bit as to what goes into preparing for one. It’s so worth it the extra cost. If you get that chance, do it! It made the morning bright & sunny again!

 

After that, back to the lodge, hop on the bus at about 1:00 to head back to Talkeetna so we get on the train back to Anchorage. The only issue we had is that we nearly hit a moose! Thankfully she was far enough in front of us that Mark could break in time!

 

The train was great. We occupied the final car of the train and the entire top is glass for unobstructed views of the countryside. And a VERY good dinner is served on board. (Unfortunately we had to pay for it, which was and still is a bit bothersome to me…)

 

Once we got back to Anchorage, we headed to the hotel for the night. It really went quite smoothly. And this was also where we parted ways with Sally & Mark.

 

The next day we had a 7:45PM flight out to Chicago, so we had loads of time to kill. We slept in. Really late! :D This was also the only day that it RAINED hard. But we headed out to breakfast anyway and went to Snow City Café and it was crowded! But it was well worth the wait, too.

 

After breakfast it was a taxi ride to the Anchorage Museum. Just an incredible experience there. It’s another place I highly recommend.

 

We had transport set up by Celebrity to pick us up at 5:00 at the hotel. Again, the pickup went smoothly. The drive to the airport was another matter…. Traffic was backed up because of some stop lights being out along the route. It slowed us down a bit. A 15 minute ride turned into a 40 minute to the airport. The head shaker moment was when, once past all the traffic, the bus driver wanted to show us where there might be a moose or two! Seriously, no one didn’t cared at that point!! Just get us to the airport!! The comments made by me and others on the bus were less than flattering! :rolleyes:

 

Getting off the bus, grabbing the luggage, checking the luggage at the United chick-in desk, and getting through security? 20-30 minutes. It was a BREEZE. Our flight even landed early in Chicago…. at 4:30AM. (ugh)

 

So with the exception of one horrible experience at Denali Park Village, it was a really great trip. Overall, the service and food on the ship was excellent. We could not have asked for better weather. And travelling/flying turned our far better than anticipated. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

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Kevin - thanks for sharing your review - even without the photos you did a great job. Our post cruise tour was different than yours but we too eventually ended up at the Denali Village and we demanded a room change - the first one was too nasty to stay in. The second room was lovely! Riverside, clean and bright. Celebrity needs to wake up to the fact that they have a big problem in Denali.

 

It was a pleasure to get to know you and Paula during this cruise - we might not agree on much else but we do share a love of cruising ;)

 

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  • 4 months later...

Can you please tell me if the Millenium has samll fridges in the cabins just like they have on Princess ? Where you can store your water and ice, etc.

 

 

 

 

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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