Overall Rating: Fair
|Destination:||Caribbean - Southern|
|Departed From:||San Juan Puerto Rico|
|# of Nights:||9-10 Nights|
Celebrity Millennium Nov 22, 2010 departure from San Juan
This is just a quick review of our most recent cruise. We have been on Carnival, RCCL, Princess, NCL cruise ships before. This was our first, and I believe last cruise on the Millennium. We are 57 and 58 years old. We enjoy snorkeling and shopping in the ports.
Yes I know you may read this review and say that I am just a grumpy old man suffering from buyers remorse or I am an old cranky person. My review may seem too negative. But I assure you I am not any of those things. OK I have to accept that I am old, but generally I am a very happy person who enjoys cruising. I am going to try to be as objective as I can be in this review. If you disagree with it that is find, we each have our own take on things. I am just telling you what I saw on my cruise.
We always get in one day early before going on a cruise especially in San Juan. We also try to stay one day after the cruise just to relax and unwind before hitting the airport. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in San Juan. Nice - clean and close to shops and restaurants. We both speak Spanish and I was stationed in Puerto Rico for two years with in the Navy. So we were a little familiar with the area. Boarding in San Juan was very uneventful. After getting to the check in area everything went very smooth. BOARDING TIP - Tip the porter to take your bags from you at the curb. This way you can go ahead of the line and get checked in faster and easier. We got our welcome aboard champagne and found our room with no trouble. This cruise ship does not have as many elevators as some other cruise ships. Everything goes up and down from the center of the ship. Remember where it is as you will be using these elevators a lot, if you plan on leaving the ship. They have a set of elevators at each end of the ship but these only go to the main passenger cabins. They don't go all the way up or down.
The entire cruise ship was too warm for us. When we asked the steward about this, he informed us that our room was the coolest of all the cabins he takes care of because we had a small fan going all the time. He told us that most of the passengers prefer it warm since they are older. I am not sure I would make such a broad decision if I were the cruise line. We had a balcony which we selected. The floor plans on all of the sites we checked showed this deck as having an extra large balcony but it did not. Deck 6 had the larger balconies. I did feel a little cheated but hey it is a balcony and most others had none. The room was smaller than most other cruise lines but then again it is in line with RCL ships. Two hanging closets and one set of drawers. Suit cases went under the beds. We did not have enough room with just two people. We were continually getting in each others way. The room was capable of handling three. I am glad we did not have three people.
The ship is very understated. Wood paneling almost everywhere. If you like the old middle England look of dark woods then you will be very happy. Very little art work displayed. What was displayed was hideous to look at. Really. I am not an artsy type of person but I know that what I like to look at and this ship did not have it anywhere.
Most people enjoy going on a cruise for the great food. Sorry to say I did not find that to be the case here. We had a great table for four right next to the captains table looking out the back of the ship. Our table mates only came one night. They preferred the food in the Olympic restaurant. The captains table was only used one night by one of the minor officers. The first night I ordered the salmon and the prime rib. I knew I could not eat it all but I generally love both items. Well the salmon was poached which it did not say on the menu. I hate poached salmon. So I moved on to my prime rib. It was excellent. My wife could not find anything she wanted to eat from the 6 or 8 entries they offered so she had the steak from the alternative menu. She said it was good. The next night I had lamb. It was good, nothing to write home about but it was good. My wife again was unable to find anything she liked so she had the steak from the alternative menu.
Next I had Mahi Mahi. Done a little more than I would have liked but still a nice piece of fish. Again my wife ate the steak from the alternative menu. The next night they offered a skillet fried steak with sauteed onions and garlic. We both had this item. Not much flavor for all of the onions and garlic they had in it. The meat was very tough, very close to shoe leather. One night I did not find anything I wanted to try on the menu so I ordered the steak from the alternative menu that my wife seemed so fond of. It was about 1/2 inch thick and very tough. No flavor. I had to ask for the ketchup. Even my wife said it was not as good that evening as when she normally orders it. Just my luck. We did not bring any formal cloths with us as we had to much to carry with our snorkel equipment so we ate at their ocean grill and cafe during the formal nights. I should start by saying they had 5 main grills or food areas plus two small specialty areas for pizza or poached eggs. At dinner 2 of the main grills were for stir fry. If you don't know a lot about Chinese food you may not care. There are many different styles of Chinese food. I personally do not like Cantonese style stir fry. I love Szechuan or Huanan style. Mandarin is a hit or miss for me. Everything they served was Cantonese style. One other grill was set up for Sushi. The sushi looked very fresh and well prepared but I was not in the mood for raw fish. The fourth grill was set up for pasta. They had only four types of pasta. They would cook it for you on the spot but I preferred mine cooked more. I was never able to get the cook to understand that I wanted mine cooked more. They would set a timer and when it went off the pasta came out no matter what. The sauces they had available to put over the pasta were very limited, they were ok but not inspired. The only other grill had the same dried out steak they were serving from the alternative menu and a very thin pork chop. This really was even less appealing here because it was set out in a cafeteria style serving line drying out. My wife somehow got a very nice thick breaded pork chop but it was the last one and all I had to chose from was a thin, hard piece of pork meat. I used the ketchup liberally these two nights. The last grill was used for deli sandwiches in the afternoons and waffles in the morning. Nothing at night. The pizza grill was very limited. If you like thin style pizza you will be ok. Sorry they do not have much sauce on the pizza's and unlike Carnival you can not request anything.
Overall my wife said she thought the food was the best she had ever had. ????? I don't understand how she came to this conclusion since she did not want to eat anything from the regular menu and always went to the alternative menu for the steak. I personally did not care for the food. I know that sounds stupid with all of the choices available and the ability to have the food removed and something else brought to you. I am diffidently not a picking eater. But I just was underwhelm by the food. Our wait staff were great no problems.
Breakfast was always a chore. The eating area is very large but it is hard to get a seat. Because most of the passengers are older they like to just sit and talk. But when you only have so many seats and more passengers than seats some thing has to give. Again the wait staff were very good and would offer to carry my tray for me since I have a cane. The food area is very large so if you want different things for breakfast you could be setting your self up for a lot of walking. Pancakes and waffles are only served at the back of the ship and omelets are only served near the front of the grill area. A very long walk.
I love a good omelet. Every morning I went in search of my omelet. None of the cooks spoke very good English. After two days I settled on one guy. My cook was from India and I think he got every fourth word I said. We tried to understand each other but it was hard. The omelets started out very thin - mostly vegetables. After stopping the cook the second time to instruct him on how much egg to put in the pan we started getting better. In fact - by the end of the trip most of the other passengers would stop me to find out how I got such a good looking omelet. I would always tell them where to go but they forgot the most important ingredient. Praise! The cooks really do want to please you but they usually don't get any feed back. So I always made sure my cook knew how good his omelet was. Lots of praise went a long way. He used to say he looked forward to my arrival because he enjoyed making my omelet so much. I know it sounds silly but it worked.
Lunch's were better - they have a grill near the pool that served very good hamburgers, hot dogs, fry's and the best onion rings I have every had. Unfortunately when they closed this grill down in the afternoon you could not get a hamburger until the next day.
I did see one nice thing that none of the other ships have had. They have two Ice Cream bars. They have soft serve custard if you want it but they also have hard style ice cream and sherbets. I say style here because the ice creams and sherbets were never allowed to become hard. They were served as soon as they were made. Very good quality and tasting but you had to eat them quickly or they would melt. You could also have a sundae made for you or even a bowl of M&M's
The pools were adequate for the passengers and most of the passengers were very courteous of their fellow passengers usage of the chairs. The indoor pool in the spa area was a nice treat. This is not like most Carnival or RCL ships where people try to reserve a chair for the whole day even though they are told not to. The guests here were all very polite and only put their towels on a chair when they were going to go into the water. No one put their stuff down and then went to eat breakfast.
The passengers were on average 60 to 65. Some older - some younger. But these older passengers were very active. On one of our excursions we were taking a snorkel on a catamaran. Usually catamaran's are not good for snorkeling and this one was no exception but what amazed me most were the people. We talked to a number of people who had never been snorkeling or near the ocean and they simply jumped off as they were instructed into 50 foot deep water and swam about 250 feet to the snorkel site. Many of them had planned to stay near me as I am very large and slow so they thought I would be the same in the water. Safety in numbers or if a shark came I would be the bait. But, I used to teach snorkel and scuba diving when I was younger, so when I am free of the earthly encumbrances which force me to walk slowly with a cane, I swim like a fish.
The ports we visited were fine. With two exceptions:
St Croix - If you go to St. Croix book a snorkel trip from a dive store near the dock or plan on getting on the bus to the downtown area. There really is nothing to do in the port where you dock. That is not to say that the downtown area is a hub of activity but there is more going on there than at the port.
Aruba - Aruba has a fantastic bus system. We took a bus to the beach. This is the same beach the tour companies take you to if you go via catamaran or glass bottom boat or Atlantis submarine. With this much activity at this beach we knew we were going to have a good snorkel experience, and it was. When we were done we caught the bus back to town. Total cost for two people 4.60 us. Compare that to the cost of this excursion on the ship. 65.00 to 85 dollars for one person. Granted they went on a boat and we went on a bus but we had three times as long at the snorkel site and we decided when to leave. The people of Aruba were very very friendly. If I even looked like I might want to cross the street in the downtown area every car stopped. Very nice. WARNING - Don't try to do this at your local Walmart you will get run over.
Since this cruise cost a little more that most others - the passengers did not appear to be self centered trash, they actually listened to the announcements and tried to follow the rules about smoking. This was a very pleasant experience. The entertainment for the shows were just ok. They had a ventriloquist who was quite good. They only had two bands. One jazz and one Latin. They both were just ok. While I did prefer the Latin band. The in-room TV programs were terrible. I do not like being nickle and dime'd to death when I am on a cruise. We buy the soft drink card and don't go to the - pay for food - dinners. The TV was set up to play reruns of two or three year old shows. And after 7 days they repeated again. Very little was live. The ESPN was live but almost everything else was taped. Very disappointing if you are planning on keeping up with your favorite show. You have to pay if you want to watch movies. Very poor movie selection.
The de-boarding process went very smooth. No loud announcements for passengers to go here or there. Overall I think the type of people on the cruise made a big difference from the other cruise lines we have been on. I wish I could get these passengers on a Princess cruise. DE-BOARDING TIP - Wait until the very end to get off the ship. Once you get off the boat there will be no other suitcases but yours sitting in the middle of the floor. Very easy to collect your things and walk right through customs. Very pleasant experience compared to the usual fighting and pushing to get your stuff mixed in with everyone else's stuff.
Any day crusing is better than a day back home but I just don't feel like I got as much for my cruise dollar on this cruise as compared to other cruise experiences we have had - for a number of reasons. Overall I have to admit that this was a very quiet and relaxing cruise.
Hope this review helps.