Picture this: You have just returned to your cabin after the "Welcome Aboard" show. It is 10 pm and you step out onto your aft balcony overlooking the ship's wake. You are mesmerized by a dazzling light show of moon beams creating moving geometric patterns and lines on an ocean rippled by the wake of the ship. On past cruises we have observed spectacular scenes of silvery moonlight rays shining brightly on the ship's wake and on the white crests of the ocean waves, but have never seen such a spectacular vision. This is very hard to describe, but it must be a natural phenomenon like the rainbow, where certain conditions exist to make the optical illusion of a waving checkerboard design. This was magical, the half moon shining over the ship's wake was just stunning. What better reason to have booked an aft cabin? And this was only the first half moon of the lunar cycle, so we were anticipating seven evenings of moonlight spectacles. And each night the moon grew bigger and more beautiful, but not as dazzling as the illusion of the first night.
This was our 24th cruise in the past six years. We sailed on the Millennium last January and booked our wedding anniversary cruise this year in the same cabin #8176. Since we enjoyed our first cruise so much, we returned to relive happy days and excellent accommodations, service and food. From the numbers of repeat Celebrity cruisers aboard this ship, it is obvious many others believe, as we do, that Celebrity "exceeds expectations."
Our reunion with old friends, the unforgettably kind Hotel Manager Dimitrios Anagnostou (Greece) and the cosmopolitan Olympic Restaurant Manager Raffaele Bernardini, was mutually warm; moreover, we made a new friend, the interesting Master of the ship - Captain Michael Karatzas (Greece) - more about these unique men later.
Continental Deck 2 is cabins only.
Plaza Deck 3 aft holds the Cinema & Conference Center, midship is the beautiful classic alternative restaurant, the Olympic, with the original walnut paneling from the White Star Liner the Olympic (sister ship to the ill fated Titanic). There is also the original Wine Cellar from the Olympic and a fantastic collection of famous wines. You must make a reservation immediately when boarding, if you wait until mid cruise you may not get one. See the Manager Raffaele for a night you will always remember (more later). Midship is the Grand Foyer with the Guest relations Desk, and the Glass Elevators overlooking the ocean; then there are cabins; and forward is the main floor of the Celebrity Theater with its sofa seats, very nice and comfortable. Its walls are made lovely with torch like illumination.
Promenade Deck 4 has the lower level of the Metropolitan Restaurant and the Rendezvous Lounge with its dance floor. Midship is the second level of the Grand Foyer with a lighted gold onyx staircase to Deck 5 and the Cova Café. Next is the Fortunes Casino with the classical Greek statues of women with water urns and huge murals of lovely ladies in bucolic settings. Very nice. Then forward is Michael's Club - a genteel cigar smokers' refuge. Finally, there is the second tier of the Celebrity Theater.
Entertainment Deck 5 aft has the upper level of the Metropolitan Restaurant where we dined early seating at table #525 over looking the Grand Staircase and the lower level with the Captain's table (more about this later). Midship is the beautiful Platinum Club with unique crystal lights and royal purple upholstered chairs and a Champagne Bar with huge urns holding chilling bottles. Walk forward and enter the Grand Foyer and the Cova Café di Milano (reminiscent of the real Cova Pasticceria-Confetteria founded in 1817 across from the famous La Scala Opera House, Milan, Italy). This is the best place to people watch, while having exquisite coffees, teas, cocktails and the finest desserts. Don't miss it. We ran into the Hotel Manager Dimitrios and Captain Karatzas here among others.
Penthouse Deck 6, Vista Deck 7, Panorama Deck 8 and Sky Deck 9 are all cabins, mostly with verandas.
Resort Deck 10 aft has the Ocean Grille and the Ocean Café both serving great food (individually prepared pastas, sushi, an oriental buffet and Pizza from 3 pm to 7 pm and 10 pm to 1 am (hours that we wished were expanded, since first seating dinner would be ruined by pizza that late, how about 11 am to 7 pm?). Eating at the buffet was made pleasant by the linen place mats on the trays, quick assistance with waiters carrying trays and assisting with drinks. This is where a passenger notes how helpful the crew is. Try navigating a buffet in a wheelchair, believe us, it's not easy. Many times we avoid this way of dining, but not on the Millennium, here we enjoyed it. Midship on Deck 10 is the Riviera Pool and hot tubs; forward is the Aqua Spa with its two whirlpools and salt water therapy lap pool surrounded by teak wood chaise lounges and privacy glass walls. All the way forward is the Thermarium and finally the Gym with aerobic and cardiovascular equipment.
Sunrise Deck 11 aft holds "Ship Mates Fun Factory" and the Arcade for the younger cruisers. For the athletic and sports fans there are the Golf Simulators, the Jogging Track and the Extreme Sports Bar with large screen TVs. Here can be found Tom Shannon's (USA) painted fiber glass figures, "Climber," "Fly & Dive," "Snowboarder," etc. and in the stairwell is the "Summer Green" chandelier by Dale Chihuly, a lime green amazing work of blown glass. The Mast Bar, and Aquadome are also on Deck 11. Forward is the Cosmos Night Club with a beautiful 270 degree view of the sea ahead. The interiors match the outside of the ship: Navy Blue and Gold. There is a lighted polished metal dance floor and circular bar with a lighted polished metal space dome. The ceiling sports lighted sea gulls: Fantastic!
Sports Deck 12 has rest of the sports areas: an open deck area and the basketball court.
FOOD & SERVICE
Some of the more memorable dishes were as follows: Appetizers, such as shrimp cocktail, prosciutto with melon and mushroom Pate` Confit. Breads were excellent especially the breadsticks served daily (the fennel seeded ones were the best). There was a nice variety of both hot and cold soups. Salads were interesting and Caesar salad was always available. Entrees included excellent veal, beef, chicken and don't miss the rack of lamb or the stuffed quail (a light bread and giblet stuffing). Our compliments to the chef. Celebrity is one of the few lines to still have sommeliers in the dining rooms; this is a plus for Vincent who drinks wine with his meals.
We enjoyed dinner at the beautifully decorated Captain's table (a centerpiece of cymbidium orchids as lovely as the single rose that the Captain gave each lady at the dinner): Escargot, Pate` Confit, Carolina soup, Tornados of Beef au jus, Petit Fours and two wines, a dry white and a medium body red. Captain Karatzas is a delightful host and Mary, seated next to him, was happy to engage in conversation about the ship, safety (which he cannot stress enough), and world events (on which he is well versed) and of course his beloved home Athens, Greece. He is "an Officer and a Gentleman" and imparts confidence to the passengers as Master of this marvelous ship.
The only thing that can rival dinner at the Captain's Table is dining at the Olympic. This restaurant oozes atmosphere with the beautiful walnut paneling with its festoons of gold gilt. In this formal ambiance, we dined on a meal selected personally by our friend the Manager Raffaele Bernardini: Vincent's shrimp were prepared table side with arugula and Balsamic vinegar - a culinary experience; Mary's Russian Salad was superb. Just when you think nothing can top this - the desserts do: moist chocolate Soufflé, no tiny tid bit, but large enough to serve two. Dinner is topped off with a tiered tray of petit fours. Ah, memories are made of this! Raffaele has trained his staff personally and the service is impeccable. Don't miss this opportunity. You may never dine like this at sea again.
The twenty-four hour room service is quick and extensive. We had a full breakfast served in our cabin every morning. And this is the first time we had continental breakfast served in the cabin on the morning of debarkation.
Around the ship various entertainers were excellent: The Enigma String Quartet who played in the foyer and nightly in the dining room; Melanie the harpist performed in the Cova; however, most enjoyable were the "Young Duo" Gianni and Gabriella who played nightly in the Rendezvous Lounge Deck 4. This was always crowded, but, they could also be seen and heard from the balcony above in the Platinum Club.
Social Hostesses Katrina Crow and Sarah Van Pevenage were very friendly and busy, busy, busy looking after everyone. Thanks so much.
This cruise is one we won't forget easily for the many friends we revisited and the many new ones we made. We were sad to say farewell to Dimitrios Anagnostou who made our cruise so memorable; we shall return to Celebrity soon.
PORTS OF CALL
Catalina Island, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Arrival: 7
am. Departure: 5 pm.
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Thursday, Arrival: 8 am.
Departure: 6 pm.
Nassau, Bahamas, Saturday, Arrival: 12 noon. Departure: 6
With the sweet memories of this cruise we are looking forward to two others
which we have booked for the near future: one to South America on the
Norwegian Dream, March 3rd, mainly for the very interesting itinerary
(Patagonia, the Falkland Islands, the Strait of Magellan and the Chilean Fjords)
and the next on the CostaAtlantica, April 7th, to revisit this beautiful
ship, a floating art museum.
PHOTOS courtesy of Paul Jaffe.
For lots more SeaLetter photos and information on Millennium, click HERE.
Vincent & Mary Finelli have written many reviews for the SeaLetter and may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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