When Celebrity Millennium made its debut in 2000, it was a first-in-class flagship for Celebrity, introducing a new gas propulsion system and exterior elevators. Today, the ship -- along with its nearly identical siblings Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Constellation -- is benefitting from a series of upgrades, designed to bring these older ships up to par with the line's more modern Solstice-class vessels. New cabins (including AquaSpa accommodations), specialty dining venues, an upgraded coffee shop (now with a gelateria), rejiggered bars and an Internet Center revolving around Apple products now tempt passengers to part with more of their vacation dollars.
Yet, the overall impression of Millennium is that it's ... pretty. That's not a word used often when discussing seagoing vessels, but it's the simplest and most accurate word to describe Millennium. The soft hues and stately public spaces; the tortoise-shell onyx stairway at the center of the ship; the diverse art around every turn; the stunning space in the Cosmos Lounge with its wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary design, glittery dance floor, Art Deco-style lighting system and light woods; the clubby, homey feeling of Michael's Club; and the contemporary-mixed-with-Deco design of the Metropolitan Restaurant offer an eclectic experience, but all of it is soft ... and pretty.
And even on a big ship, now with an additional 60 cabins, the feeling of an intimate experience prevails. The layout and accessibility are excellent, with 14 elevators and a design that makes getting from one point of interest to another easy and enjoyable. Lots of outside deck space and promenades help in this regard, as well. Celebrity says that instead of cramming the new venues into an already-full ship, it made use of wasted space and streamlined the interior design.
Millennium's 2012 refurb also made the ship more ADA-compliant. Changes like a lower guest relations desk, ramps in shops and improved wheelchair-accessible cabins will be welcomed by the line's disabled travelers.
From bow to stern, the public areas on this ship offer both surprises and charm, whether it's the unique (and often unexpected) modern art around every corner, the wow factor when entering Cosmos for the first time or the clubby, calming surroundings in Michael's Club.
This is one classy vessel.
The decor is an eclectic mix of contemporary, Old World, Art Deco and resort chic, which could, if done poorly, create a schizophrenic ambience. But, that's not the case here; everything fits and flows smoothly from one venue to another, and the most impressive attribute is the use of natural light whenever possible. The glass elevators along the outside of the ship are a nice touch, as is the dramatic Grand Foyer with its long drapes and sweeping staircase.
The Grand Foyer rises from Deck 3 to Deck 5. Its lower level covers all the administrative functions -- guest relations, shore excursion, concierge, Captain's Club and future cruise sales desks are all there. Aft of this area is the conference center, which can be divided up into two or three rooms, each with plasma TV's and projectors.
The photo gallery is located on Deck 4, across from Michael's Club. Up one deck and forward of Cafe al Bacio is Millennium's enormous shopping venue, the Emporium. Along with the usual logo shops and duty-free items, there are several jewelry and watch shops, as well as an Apple store. Instead of cluttering the aisles with specials as on most ships, there is a circular central kiosk area for the daily discount offerings. A presentation area with rows of seating and a big screen is used for port and shopping talks.
The Celebrity iLounge is found on Deck 6 midship. There, iMac computers are available for Web browsing, or you can sign up for a Wi-Fi account, as wireless Internet access is available shipwide. Prices start at 75 cents a minute, or you can purchase a package: 38 minutes for $25, 90 minutes for $50, 208 minutes for $100, 555 minutes for $200, or 1,666 minutes for $400. Computer and technology classes, mostly focusing on Apple products, are held there and cost extra.
Words, the ship's two-story library on Decks 8 and 9, features a spiral staircase, glass walls and deep armchairs.
There are no self-service launderettes. Also, the movie theater has been removed.
Of the 1,079 cabins aboard Millennium, 867 are oceanview, and 623 of those have balconies. The ship also offers 50 suites, ranging from the uber-luxe penthouses to more petite but elegant Sky Suites, as well as 26 accommodations that are fully ADA-compliant and wheelchair-accessible.
Millennium's standard cabins, from the least expensive insides to outside balcony cabins, are beautifully configured and nicely decorated with soft hues, elegant furnishings, rounded-end beds and comfortable seating options. They serve as oases of calm away from all other ship activities.
Standard inside and outside cabins come in at 170 square feet. Balconies add 38 square feet of outdoor space. They are certainly not the largest staterooms afloat, to be sure, but the way they are configured and the calmness of their decor make them wholly appealing.
Family Verandah staterooms are quite large, at 271 square feet with 242-square-foot balconies. Sliding doors with translucent windows separate the master bedroom areas from the living areas, where the kiddos can bunk on pullout couches. The huge balconies each feature two lounge chairs and a table with two chairs.
Millennium's ConciergeClass cabins measure 194 square feet with 54-square-foot balconies. Concierge passengers receive extra perks, including a pillow menu, daily fresh fruit, sparkling wine on embarkation day, nightly hors d'oeuvres, use of binoculars, robes, Hansgrohe shower heads, handheld hair dryers, a Celebrity Cruises tote bag and expanded room service breakfast menus. Also included are the services of a concierge, priority check-in, express luggage delivery, priority disembarkation, shoeshine service and main/specialty restaurant seating preference. In 2012, Celebrity expanded the ConciergeClass services to include an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices.
AquaClass cabins are the same size but come with different perks. In-cabin amenities include daily delivery of bottled water and tea, an upgraded room service menu, pillow menu, extra toiletries (shower gel, lip balm), use of plush bathrobes and slippers, and a Hansgrohe shower panel. Plus, AquaClass cruisers get exclusive spa privileges, such as access to healthy dining in Blu, complimentary passes to the Persian Garden steam and sauna room, and on-demand wellness programming.
Millennium features four types of suites. Twenty-six Sky Suites give slightly more room than the Concierge Class cabins, each coming in at 251 square feet with a 57-square-foot balcony. They're essentially just bigger cabins with no separation between living and sleeping areas. Eight Celebrity Suites -- at 467 square feet with 85-square-foot balconies -- are true suites with separate sleeping, living and dining areas. The eight Royal Suites are a bit apartment-like at 538 square feet with 195-square-foot balconies. Not only are there separate sleeping, living and dining spaces, but the spacious balconies each feature a whirlpool and cushy lounge furniture.
If you want to truly live it up, book one of two Penthouse Suites, each a whopping 1,432 square feet with a 1,098-square-foot balcony. There you'll find a baby grand piano, butler's pantry, motorized drapes, entertainment centers, complimentary scotch and vodka, a master bath with a whirlpool tub and a second bathroom, and another whirlpool, bar and dining table on the balcony.
Stay in any of these suites, and you'll receive butler service; priority check-in, debarkation, tender service, restaurant seating and theater seating; afternoon canapes and tea service, and daily in-cabin specialty coffee; one or two complimentary specialty restaurant meals; and a welcome bottle of sparkling wine.
Of the 26 wheelchair-accessible cabins, five are inside, four are outside, eight are standard balconies, three are Concierge Class, and six are Sky Suites.
Stateroom decor on Millennium consists of light woods and cool pastels, with added luxuries like little throw pillows on the sofas. Storage space is more than adequate for two people for a longer cruise, with several closets for hanging clothing, small shelves next to the desk/vanity for books and other items, and two large cupboards under it. The only drawers are in the nightstands, which also have lamps attached to the top. It's nice having a side-night-table light, rather than the one that's affixed to the wall overhead. But in some staterooms, the bedside lamps keep you from putting "stuff" on the tables. Happily, that is not the case here; the lamps were tall enough to stack books and lotions and other bedtime things on the stand.
The bathroom is large and well lit, with plenty of storage space for cosmetics and toiletries. Standard accommodations, Concierge Class and AquaClass cabins have roomy showers, while suites have whirlpool baths. There are wall-mounted hair dryers in the standard cabins; upper-category accommodations get handheld dryers, but there are no outlets for them in the bathrooms. You have to use them in the desk/vanity areas, which is kind of a pain if you aren't using that area for grooming.
There are two 110-volt outlets and two 220-volt outlets at the desk. If you bring a converter kit, you can convert one of the 220's to a 110 (or vice versa), giving you three outlets to use for sundry electronics like laptops, digital cameras and cell phone chargers.
Balconies in standard verandah staterooms are comfortably large and nicely furnished with strapped chairs and small tables; Concierge Class and AquaClass balcony furniture has canvas pad covers, and suite passengers get a mix of mesh and wooden furniture.
Millennium's lido deck (Deck 10) has an inordinately large overhang toward the forward part of the ship and a series of angled overhangs toward the aft. They are so big that the ship was built with a row of stanchions that angle down from the overhangs. Rooms at the top level under the Resort Deck, therefore, get interrupted views and little sun. Although such rooms are great in almost all respects, they would be better with more sun and less interference with the outdoor vista. Also, while soundproofing is excellent from room to room, this is not the case with the ceilings, and being right under the pool deck can make for a noisy trip.
All standard cabins come equipped with mini-bar fridges (check prices before using the goodies), safes, telephones and interactive televisions with excellent programming (including CNN, ESPN, several movie channels, several in-house channels and TNT). The "interactive" part includes ordering room service (works well!), checking your daily bill balance and playing video slots and blackjack (for those who are bored and need to spend money gambling on a television).
The Celebrity Theater, at the front of the ship on Decks 3, 4 and 5, feels like a real theater. It has comfortable banquette seating in rich red and purple hues, a double balcony and excellent, nonobstructed views. Space for wheelchair seating has been added. Most of the shows are typical cruise fare with a live orchestra and "The Celebrity Singers and Dancers." Guest entertainers also perform.
Cosmos, the forward-facing lounge at the top of the ship, is surrounded with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. It's used during the day as an observation station and for various activities. At night, it's turned into a fabulous disco/dance hall.
Deck 4 is the entertainment hub on Millennium. Anyone looking for some excitement and camaraderie can easily find it in the Rendezvous Lounge, lined with windows opening onto the promenade, which is great during the day. In the evenings, people actually dance on the center wood floor and sing karaoke until the wee hours. The Martini Bar and Crush, complete with ice-topped bar and juggling bartenders, make great pre-dinner cocktail spots.
The casino, located midship, seems impossibly small for a vessel of this size, and the 10 tables were busy most evenings.
Michael's Club feels like a private men's club with cushy chairs, flat-screen televisions showing sports, and a bar stocked with more than 60 international and craft beers, along with high-end Scotch and whiskey. Of course ladies are welcome. The piano has been removed, though a live guitarist may make an occasional appearance.
Up one deck is Cellar Masters, with a bit of wild red, green and purple decor trying to liven up the state-of-the-art, yet somewhat cold, enomatic wine-dispensing machines. Taste wine on your own or during a scheduled wine-tasting led by a sommelier.
Celebrity's enrichment and activity program, called Celebrity Life, is split into four categories -- Taste, Learn, Revive and Play -- but the terms aren't used in the daily Celebrity Today newsletter, and all the passenger sees is a variety of onboard programming. Taste activities include cooking demos and wine appreciation; Learn encompasses dance classes, language learning with Rosetta Stone, and computer skills workshops; Revive is just your typical fitness classes and spa seminars; and Play includes "Dancing with the Stripes" officer-and-passenger ballroom competition, trivia contests and pool games (weather permitting). Other activities include bingo, karaoke and Wii games.
Celebrity offers the usual gamut of tours in port. One nice touch is that the booking form divides up the excursions into categories; on a five-night Pacific Coast wine cruise, categories included Wine Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Wildlife Tours and Private Tours. Specific tours were marked with a "manager's recommendation"; interestingly, these seemed to be the most expensive offerings in each port.
Celebrity Cruises is increasing its suggested gratuity by 50 cents per passenger/per day beginning on all bookings made on or after April 29 for all cruises that begin on or after the same day. The new suggested gratuity will be $12.00 per person/per day, if you're in a standard cabin; $12.50 per person/per day, if you're in a Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $15.50 per person/per day, for passengers in suites.
|Fitness and Recreation|
The ship's main pool area, located on Deck 10 midship, is a sophisticated affair, with cushioned loungers, day-beds and wooden accents. The pool itself is divided into a shallow end for dipping and a deeper end for swimming; a circular lounge area sits on a raised platform in the middle. Anyone who wants to swim laps can do so early in the morning before the pools get busy. There are four hot tubs, a bar and table tennis on the port side.
Please note that only fully toilet-trained kids can use the ship's pools.
A jogging track and shuffleboard can be found one deck up on Deck 11, along with a basketball court on Deck 12 at the top of the ship.
Forward of the main pool is the Solarium, with a thalassotherapy pool (free of charge to use) under a retractable roof, teak loungers with head pillows, and round tables by the AquaSpa Cafe. It leads into the AquaSpa itself, where spa service and treatment areas are accompanied by the for-fee Persian Garden steam and sauna area, a hair salon and a forward-facing gymnasium and fitness center that is appealing.
Day-passes to the Persian Garden are free to AquaClass passengers and cost $20 per day for everyone else. (Cruise-long couples and singles passes can be purchased for a discount off the daily rate.) Spa services at the Steiner of London-operated facility include facials, massages, hair styling and nail treatments with specials offered on port days. More unusual options include the Bamboo Massage, where bamboo shoots of various sizes are rolled and used to massage muscles. Celebrity Millennium has licensed doctors onboard and offers Restylane(R) and Perlane(R) treatments, as well as Botox.
Celebrity also has a trained acupuncturist onboard Millennium. In fact, it was one of the first lines to introduce the now-standard cruise spa option. A special acupuncture area is located on Deck 7 with four treatment rooms.
The fitness area offers the usual cardio machines and weights. In the aerobics space, abs workouts and stretching sessions are free, but classes in Pilates, spinning and yoga are offered with an additional fee of $12 per person (plus 15 percent gratuity). However, some of the best workouts onboard are to be found in the dance classes, which are offered free of charge.
The AquaSpa area is for adults only, and -- thank goodness -- it seemed to be enforced.
The well-equipped, bright and cheerful Fun Factory is located forward on Deck 11, and it has programs for kids of ages 3 to 11. Teens have their own programming and hangout space, called X Club. Between the youth and teen facilities is the ship's arcade.
Participation in the kids' program is complimentary (with some exceptions) and is broken nicely into compatible age groups. Potty-trained children are welcomed from age 3 and join the Shipmates (3- to 5-year-olds). Cadets (6 to 8), Ensigns (9 to 11) and Teens (12 to 17) make up the balance of the groups. Age-appropriate activities are available for each, and trained counselors are in attendance.
The Fun Factory is outfitted with large TV's, a Ping-Pong table and computer terminals. Kids' activities include crafts, Wii games, puppet shows, dinosaur studies, sushi-making, miniature boat-building and pajama parties. Celebrity has partnered with The Nerdel Company to offer activities focused on healthy living -- such as puzzles, sing-alongs and cooking classes -- that feature a puppet named Nerdel. Special family activities include Ping-Pong tournaments, bingo, talent shows and scavenger hunts for kids and parents.
Teens hang out in the two-story X Club, a gaming haven with two Wii and Xbox machines on the first floor and PlayStation 3's on the second. The club also has space for lounging and a dance floor with an iPad-jukebox system. Teens can participate in teen pool Olympics; late-night theme parties, such as "Red Carpet" and "Prom Night"; craft and scrapbook activities; karaoke; and fashion design workshops.
Parents with children younger than 3 are invited to accompany their toddlers into the playrooms at select times. (Infants who sail must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, for transatlantic, transpacific, select South America and other select cruises, infants must be at least 12 months old.)
It's $6 per hour, per child, for kids ages 3 to 11 to participate in the "Afternoon Party" from noon to 2 p.m. on port days and/or the nighttime Slumber Party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. A dinner party from 5 to 7 p.m. is complimentary on sea days or when sailing occurs before 5 p.m.; it's the same fee as the other parties when the ship is in port. A V.I.P. pass gives access to all parties, exclusive Fun Factory activities and a gift bag. The price varies per cruise but gives a discount off the cost of individual parties.
In-cabin baby-sitting is available for $19 per hour for up to three children (12 months minimum) within the same family. In-cabin baby-sitting is subject to availability and must be requested 24 hours in advance.
Parents can also borrow toys from the Fun Factory for children to use onboard. The toys, suitable for a variety of ages from 3 to 11, include many LeapFrog interactive toys.
Depending on the destination, the dress is usually casual during the day and resort-casual in the evening. Celebrity is a traditional cruise line, and the typical Millennium cruiser likes the tradition of dressing up for supper. Plan for two formal nights on seven- to 11-night cruises and three or four on cruises of 12 nights or more. The rest are "smart casual." Formal nights find most of the ladies in beaded or flowing gowns or cocktail dresses and men in tuxes, as well as suits or slacks and jackets. On smart-casual evenings, women wear skirts or nice slacks with pretty tops, while men wear slacks with collared shirts or sweaters.
Celebrity Millennium passengers tend to be sophisticated, well-traveled adults in the 45 to 65 age range, and indeed, the Celebrity experience is ideal for the "baby boom" generation. Millennium's longer cruises tend to skew older, but folks are young at heart, flocking to the gym and partying it up at night. Summer Alaska cruises attract a few more families than usual. Most of the passengers are North American, with Britain and other European countries represented.
|Expert reviews are provided by CruiseCritic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.|