First three days of our cruise

23 Apr

Monday, April 18

As usual for me on the day of a big event, I woke up very early in anticipation of our cruise. We spent the morning at the beach, enjoying our last day at the Caribe Hilton.

We checked out around noon and headed over to the pier in our rental car to drop off our luggage. There was already a big line of people waiting to check in with their luggage. I’m thinking this line is going to take forever. But then I see a man working with luggage and ask if they have porter service. He says yes, that we can drop off our luggage with him. I give him a $10 tip and he loads our 5 pieces of luggage right onto one of the cages that they fork-lift onto the ship. He then directs us around the long line to the security screening. Using the porter saved us about a half our of waiting outside in the sun. I’m sure many other people would have done the same if they had known.

After security screening, we check in and are on the ship within 10 minutes. This was the fastest check-in ever. As expected, the guest rooms are not available until after 1:00 p.m. to allow time for clean-up after the last cruise.

After a quick lunch at the buffet, I seek out the maitre de to confirm our table request for two. (We are doing fixed seating at 6:00 p.m.) He indicates we are assigned to a table for four. So I ask if we can switch. He basically says no problem and that we will have a new table assignment card in our room. (More on this later.)

Our luggage and table assignment taken care of, we take a taxi to Castillo de San Cristobal in Old San Juan for our last sightseeing. From the top level of the fort, the Millennium can be seen in the distance.

Picture to be added later when I have full internet access.

Celebrity Millennium seen through the gun port of the fort

This fort is amazing with its tunnels, dungeon, and views of the city.

Picture to be added later when I have full internet access.

Santa Maria Cemetery and del Morro in the distance

After visiting the fort, we walk over to the Plaza de Colon for some last minute shopping. Actually, my wife did the shopping while I retreated from the heat into an air conditioned Starbucks for a cold drink and free WiFi.

Around 4:00 p.m., we took a taxi back to the ship in advance of the 5:00 p.m. “all-aboard” time.

Heading back to our cabin, we find all of our luggage waiting for us in the hallway. Our huge Family Ocean View aft cabin easily absorbed all of our belongings. It’s really easy for two people to find room for their belongings in this very oversize cabin.

When we headed down to dinner with our table assignment card in hand. Our assigned table is in a wonderful location on the upper level right next to a big window. I had expected the deuces to be located in less desirable locations, as experienced on the Celebrity Mercury (now owned by a German cruise line). But on Millie, there are several deuces located in prime window locations. I couldn’t be happier with our table location.

I’m going to skip the food reviews, simply because I’m really bad at it. I’m not very good with superlatives. The food was great. I’ll leave it at that.

After dinner, we went onto our balcony for the sail-away at 8:30 p.m. The ship goes right by el Morro on its way out to sea.

Tuesday, April 19, At Sea

We had breakfast in the main dining room where we were seated with six other passengers, all residents of Puerto Rico. As they told us, Celebrity ran some really good last-minute specials that they could not pass up.

At 11:00 a.m, we attended the first of a series of lectures on the Panama Canal. This first presentation was on the French attempt. The lecturer is a professor from Boise State University in Idaho, not far from my home.

We had a light lunch in the Aqua Spa. My wife attended a “Taste of Millennium Cooking Demonstration” while I explored the ship.

The musical entertainment on board this part of the cruise includes:

  • Trevor Cole, Steel Pan Player
  • Sipra, Party Band
  • Danielo De Laurentis, Latin Solo Guitar
  • Justin Wade, Guitar & Vocal
  • Dukeland Quartet, Ballroom to Jazz
  • Pollyana Jones, Piano & Vocal
  • A Capella: On Point
  • Fiore String Trio, Classic Strings
  • Celebrity Orchestra

Overall, I am impressed with the large variety of musical groups. Our favorites so far are Pollyana Jones , Sipra, and On Point.

This is the first formal attire night. My rented tuxedo was delivered around 3:00 p.m. It fit perfectly. When we got to dinner I noticed that many people are dressing more casually on formal night than our last Celebrity cruise five years ago.

The evening show in the Celebrity Theater was “Simply Ballroom”, a dance review that highlighted the talents of the dance team.

Wednesday, April 20, At Sea

So far, the seas have been so calm that you hardly notice being on a ship. We are in the middle of the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Rico and Columbia. There is no land or other ships in sight, just the calm seas. The ship is traveling at a leisurely 15 m.p.h.

After breakfast, we attended the second Panama Canal lecture, “The Building – American Era”. These lectures are pretty high level. If you have read “The Path Between the Seas” or “Your Day in the Canal” most of this material is review.

At 11 a.m. we went to a Swing Dance class led by a husband-wife from the dance team. The class did a very good job of teaching the basics of the step in just 30 minutes. It was enough to get you started.

The Cruise Sales office was running a special today in which you get dinner for two at the Olympic Restaurant if you book a future cruise. I was already planning to do so. I made a reservation for an Alaska Cruise in 2012. If you book on board, you get on-board credit, a $100 per-person reduced deposit, and up to three levels of upgrade. We got a C1 aft Concierge Class Balcony for the price of a C3. C1’s can cost quite a bit extra due the the very desirable location. So this might be your best way to get a C1 at a good price. The on-board booking benefits are transferable to another cruise if you change your plans, as long as you keep the same reservation number.

We had dinner in the Olympic Restaurant. The atmosphere here is very relaxed and calm compared to the bustle of the main dining room, the Metropolitan Restaurant. In the Metropolitan, the waiters and their assistants are all running around as required to serve a four-course meal simultaneously to a thousand people. In stark contrast, the Olympic only had a about 30 diners during our visit. The tables were far apart and there was a huge staff to tend to your every need. My water glass was never below half full. As soon as you take your last bite of bread, a waiter appears with the bread basket offering your choice of five different breads. Overall, its a very enjoyable experience I recommend trying it at least once.

The evening show was “Matilda and Patrick Murray”, a ventriloquist (Patrick) and his dummy Matilda. Matilda is a Jamaican woman who plays the comic role. Patrick, the ventriloquist, plays the straight man. It was a very funny comic performance.

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