Instead of a review, herewith some random notes from our April 27-May 11 crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona on Millennium. This was our second cruise on the Millie and our fourth on M-class ships since 2000. We remained in Barcelona for four days after the cruise, then took the overnight train to Madrid for another four days. Just back this week.
Celebrity’s enhancements are very much in evidence and really do serve to upgrade the brand. The cold towels, the sushi bar, and the champagne on boarding are especially nice touches.
The new lecture program is very welcome and on this cruise was absolutely superb. We were blessed with the well-known maritime historian John Maxtone-Graham who gave a wonderful talk on each sea day about the great liners that plied the Atlantic in the heyday of ship travel. Each of his hour-long presentations seemed like it lasted only five minutes. A superb guy and a stunning speaker.
Just as impressive were the daily talks by Ambassador Diego Ascencio, former US Ambassador to Colombia. He spoke of world economics, the cultures of Portugal and Spain, cross-cultural communication, and—grippingly—of negotiating his own release when he was taken hostage in 1980 by M-19 guerrillas at the Dominican Republic’s Embassy in Colombia while he was our ambassador there. Ambassador Ascensio turned all his presentations into dialogues with the very receptive and thoughtful audiences in the Celebrity Theater, and we all came away proud to have shared some time with this remarkable man.
The overall quality and presentation of the food has improved noticeably.
The Olympic Restaurant is still a joy. If you love the sea, its history and its lore, you still can’t do better than to book a table at the Olympic. Doing so amid the Maxtone-Graham lectures added to the spirit. Great fun.
Captain Adamidis may be the most ubiquitous of the Celebrity captains. He sails with his wife, their young son and a nanny, and can be found shopping and sightseeing in Malaga, eating in the Aqua Spa, and taking family walks along the pier. He’s a bit shy, but a very friendly guy.
This is just a guess and may be completely wrong, but I have a hunch that Michel Roux is being phased out as Celebrity’s guru de cuisine. His name appears only once in the printed menus, his name was only mentioned once at the culinary demonstration, and—most telling of all—his cooking trinkets in the gift shop are marked down 50%, and they no longer carry his cookbooks. I made no attempt to verify this hunch.
Which lounge on the Millennium is the most underused? According to cruise director Edwin Rojas, it’s the Rendezvous Lounge. This revelation came when a passenger complained that the dance floor needed to be bigger in the Rendezvous. Rojas replied that on the contrary, our group was the first in a long time to use the place for dancing. “On most cruises, three couples dancing in the Rendezvous is a big night,” said Rojas. On our longer cruise the place was somewhat more popular with the Lawrence Welk set, but the converted Michael’s Club drew many of us for nightcaps by featuring a good jazz and blues piano man. Could it be that the days are numbered for the rikky-tik drum machines and keyboards in the Rendezvous?
Scuttle-butt had it that there may soon be a smoking prohibition except for outside decks.
Ship’s staff intimated that Celebrity will soon be going to some sort of “tips-charged-to-your-account” system. Maybe in a month or so.
Olympic restaurant maitre d’ says that some form of specialty restaurant is in the planning for retrofitting on Century, Galaxy and Mercury. Olympic was fully booked for all sea days by the second day of our cruise.
Except for formal nights, most late-seating shows have been moved to 7pm before-dinner time slots. Great idea. The production shows are the same ones we’ve seen for a few years now, and will see for a few more years to come. Tight budgets.
FLASH: There was actually some liquor in the drinks at the Captain’s Club party. And, you could ask for a specific drink and they would bring it! Nicely done.
Pillow chocolates have been upgraded. This time it was my wife who slept on hers one night. One of us manages to do it every cruise.
Dress codes are still not enforced. Jeans on formal night. T-shirts on informal. We asked that a bare-chested guy in the deck 10 cafeteria be asked to go put a shirt on. He was, but only after a lot of hand-wringing by the staff.
The new debarkation procedures are excellent. Stay in your room until a pre-assigned time (according to your tag color), then go to the theater or a lounge to await being called. This may encourage people who don’t have early flights to want later rather than earlier debarkation. It’s absolutely painless, and no milling throngs.