“Hello, my name is Kashlee and I am a cruise addict….”
Something I never saw myself saying, but it’s true. I have fallen hopelessly head over heals for all things cruising and there is no turning back. In fact, when I am not writing blogs about cruising, I am probably searching for a cruise to take.
This September, I got the opportunity to take a cruise in a way I never thought possible….across the Pacific Ocean! The Celebrity Millennium was setting sail from Vancouver to Japan, and I knew I had to be on it.
This blog is a complete in depth review of not only the Celebrity Millennium Ship, but also the Celebrity brand as a whole. (Which, *Spoiler Alert* is so insanely good, I just want to move onto one of their ships for life.)
In all fairness, I have always been more of a ‘hotel and explore the city’ kind of traveler, but Celebrity has managed to trump most of the experiences I could create on my own.
** UPDATE JUNE 2019
While this review blog is still extremely accurate, (and will give you great insights to the Millennium) the ship has JUST been renovated! If you want to see the new staterooms and other revolutionized areas, pop over to our Celebrity Millennium Renovation – Before and After’s Blog
Why We Chose To Cruise With Celebrity
So why didn’t we just hop on a flight to Japan and get there as fast as possible? Well, for starters, who wants to be on a 10+ hour flight in economy? Nobody, that’s who. Once we found out about repositioning cruises and how they are a WAY better value than simply flying, it was a no brainer decision.
We chose the Celebrity brand over any other ship for this journey because of their reputation. Trevor and I don’t have kids, love the finer things in life, and have been known to eat a few extra meals a day when no one is looking. Celebrity is known for their on board enrichment, world class service and mouth watering food.
A match made in heaven.
We had a few people tell us “Oh, you are going to love the service on Celebrity, it’s really amazing!”, but we just thought of it as a passing comment. I mean, how GOOD could it really be? Certainly it couldn’t be any better than our favourite 5-star boutique resorts? Right!?
We were about to find out!
The Booking Process with Celebrity
We went online and set our search for ‘TransPacific Cruises’, which is the best way to find ones that do a one-way sailing across the Pacific Ocean. (Another way to find repositioning cruises is to also select ‘Trans-Atlantic’)
We found the Celebrity Millennium was leaving Vancouver on September 14th, 2018 and set to reach Japan on September 30th. Perfect.
It gave us the different categories of rooms with explanations and their respective prices, plus any promos that were on at the time. We found a killer price on a Veranda Room and booked it on the spot. A great thing about Celebrity is you only have to leave a deposit (ours was $900) and the entire amount isn’t due until 90 days before sailing.
The Millennium Itinerary
The Celebrity Millennium - Transpacific Sailing
Sept 14-30th 2018
Day 1 – Vancouver
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – PORT: Sitka, Alaska
Day 4 – At Sea
Day 5 – At Sea
Day 6 – At Sea
Day 7– At Sea
Day 8 – At Sea
Day 9 – At Sea
Day 10 – At Sea
Day 11– PORT: Otaru
Day 12– PORT: Hakodate
Day 13– At Sea
Day 14– PORT: Shimizu
Day 15– PORT: Yokohama
Our itinerary did change slightly!
Because of oncoming super typhoon Trami, our captain decided to forgo the Shimizu Port and head to Yokohama one day early. This made for a double overnight in Yokohama instead before departing. While we were excited to tour around Mt.Fuji in Shimizu, we were happier with the call he made for everyones safety instead.
Checking In / Day Of The Cruise
Our cruise left from Vancouver and our summer place is a 4 hour drive away in Kelowna, so rented a car and left a day early.
After overnighting in Vancouver, it was super easy to get down to Canada Place and find our departure area. We rented a car with Enterprise and they have a return desk RIGHT inside the cruise terminal. We drove up to the parcade, went to level 2, and returned the car within 10 minutes of arriving. Then the entry way to the cruise check in and luggage drop is only a 3 minute walk, and still easy with multiple bags.
Once we were in Celebrity’s hands the entire check-in, luggage drop off and boarding process took under and hour and was very organized. We were given our sea pass cards and boarded the ship in no time. By the way, boarding starts at 11:00am, which was something we didn’t know until we Googled it!
Another thing we didn’t know, as all cruise lines are different, was Celebrity allows you to bring on as many NON-Alcoholic drinks as you want. My husband is sober and LOVES Coke Zero, so he brought on a small tote bag filled with them, no problem! We just dropped the tote off with the rest of our luggage and threw one of our luggage tags on it.
Since we were early birds and ready to board right at 11:00am, our room was not yet cleaned and set up. We decided to head up to the Oceanview Cafe (the buffet) and have a bite to eat while we waited.
The State Rooms
Celebrity Millennium Veranda Room - 6025
We walked in and were pleasantly surprised with the room we had chosen. It was bright, clean and had everything to make us comfy for the 15 day journey.
It had two single beds pushed together to make a king (or is it queen, I can never tell!?), a small couch for one, desk and chair, and double wardrobe closet. The bathroom had decent counter space and great lighting, which is all I need to be happy. Our sliding door took us out to the extra long balcony, which was about double the size of a standard room.
Those amazing folks at Celebrity also upgraded us to ‘Concierge Class’ benefits within this room. That meant we had a big bowl of fresh fruit (all the good kinds too!), chocolate covered strawberries, upgraded bathroom amenities, and robes in the room. I’m telling you…. You will use a big fluffy robe on a transpacific cruise more than you think you will!
What we LOVED about the room:
The use of space – The room is small, compact, but wonderfully laid out and uses space like a boss. Our suitcases fit easily under the bed, and our toiletries fit into the cabinets and shelving. Everything has a place and even over packers will find somewhere to put all their stuff. We never felt crowded or claustrophobic.
How quiet it was – The one thing I especially LOVED about this room was the fact that it was essentially soundproof. I didn’t hear the people above me, nor did I EVER hear the theatre below! I was also concerned with how close the bed was to the door, until I never heard people in the hall as well. It was a nice change after coming off another ship that basically had paper walls.
The view – No matter what kind of ocean view hotel room you can get, it will never have an ocean view quite like a cruise ship! The vista outside our window was ever changing and always spectacular. We sailed past volcanos, mountains, islands, whales, big waves and sensational dramatic sunsets, all to be taken in from the comfort of our room. Magical!
What we disliked about the room:
Slightly dated – It’s seen some guests in it’s day, but in it’s defence it was in very good condition and spotlessly clean. Just the decor and style was a little old-school, but never took away from our experience. I almost feel bad mentioning it, because I feel it’s a super high maintenance comment. Anyway, it’s being renovated to look more like the Edge rooms in a few weeks, so this won’t be a issue. (P.s.- we saw the renderings on board and the renovation is insanely gorgeous!)
Wifi Connection IN the room – Hmmm… this one was tricky for me, as a serial Instagram stories uploader. Since the room was delightfully soundproof, that also meant the wifi connection wasn’t very strong inside. Most guests wouldn’t notice it. Email comes in and basic webpages load with moderate speed, but uploading short video clips and watching Insta Stories were slightly painful. A few times I opened up the front door to get a better signal. I’ve heard rumours that in the renovation they are adding additional access points, so likely this will be resolved in a few weeks as well.
Plugs – Or lack there of. Trevor found one plug over by the desk for his phone, while I found one behind the TV to charge mine. Those were the only 2 outlets we could find in the room and neither of them were very convenient to use. In my imagination, I see them adding better outlet locations (maybe even USB ports?) in the Reno, but I guess we will see!
Celebrity Millennium Room Tip:
On the Celebrity Millennium, with the way the ship is shaped, there are a few cabins that have extra long balconies, without charging a higher price. They are called the ‘Sweet Sixteen’, as they are 8 rooms on each side of deck 6, and they have the bonus of a larger balcony. We chose room 6025 and loved having the extra outdoor space. Even though most days were chilly, as we got closer to Japan the weather warmed up quite a bit, so it was nice to have outdoor access.
(You can see the location of the Sweet Sixteen rooms in the above photo. Just look at the 8 rooms balconies directly above the word MILLENNIUM.)
Departure From Vancouver
After we did a tour through our stateroom and unpacked a bit, it was time to depart from Vancouver. Hundreds of people all went to the top decks of the ship to watch the Millennium back out of the pier and head under the Lions Gate Bridge.
Daily Life On Board the Celebrity Millennium
The Transpacific itineraries have a LOT of sea days, which is perfect for my personality. I like slow travel and I like a more relaxed vibe, so having so many sea days was such an amazing and peaceful experience. It’s hard to get stir crazy when the ship has 101 activities going on at any given time.
The entire vibe of the trip was one of rejuvenation, enrichment and enjoyment. Just enough going on to never be bored, but not so much stimuli that it exhausts you.
This was not a party cruise at all, with the average age being something around 60, but they could still tie one on at happy hour! Most of the guests on a transpacific repositioning cruise are going to be pro-cruisers. Only a handful we met were first timers. I am not sure if it’s just because repositioning cruises are generally unknown to most people, or if because all the seasoned pro’s snatched up the tickets before anyone else could. Either way, I would highly suggest it to ANY first time cruiser, as it’s quite an immersive dive into what makes cruising such a luxurious experience.
What about kids on board? We hardly saw ANY, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. I was told there was around 40 kids on board, yet I only ever saw 5 or 6. This cruise being 2 weeks long and leaving in September wouldn’t be an optimal time for families to take a vacation, but some families still hopped on. We met a couple who were both teachers on a one year sabbatical and they were home schooling their two kids. They loved how Celebrity had more educational actives in the Kids Club and not just TV and Games. Just like the cruise line added more enrichment based activities for the adults, they have done the exact same for kids.
The Dress Code – Evening Chic
I wanted to address this one right away, since it was one of the questions I got asked while on board.
“What is the dress code like!?”
Some people (including myself at one point) thought you had to get all ‘tux and tails’ on a cruise, or be shunned by the general population. NOT TRUE on Celebrity. They have changed their ‘Formal Nights’ to something called ‘Evening Chic’. We had 3 Evening Chic nights on our 15 day cruise.
Evening Chic is dressing with purpose, but the attire can be whatever you want it to be. If you want to get into a ball gown, go for it! However, if you want to wear some designer jeans with a blazer and some cute shoes, that works too. It allows for more personal flair and style to be added to the Dress Code, and gets away from super rigid rules.
On Evening Chic nights I personally wore dresses, but nothing over the top. Trevor opted for slacks, a dress shirt, dress shoes, and left the jacket at home. We saw others in everything from formal attire, right down to classy Hipster.
Big fan of Evening Chic over here, as it makes it easier to PACK!
Here is where I might rant and rave like a lunatic for a little while, so brace yourself.
Hands down, BEST SERVICE of my life. Better than any 5 star hotel, luxury resort, first class flight or VIP treatment that I have ever had. Ever.
So what does that even mean? How can ‘service’ really be THAT good?
That is exactly what I thought. I was told the service was going to be incredible, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. Little did I know it was going to leave such a lasting impression on me. (Aka- ruined me for life.)
I had servers remember my name, hostesses remember my room number, staff remember exactly who I was, where I came from and where I was going next. I felt like everyone had a cheat-sheet uploaded into their brain of every possible preference I have, and then delivered me personalized service based around them. It’s shocking to see a waiter in the hallway, three days after you’ve eaten at his restaurant, and he says: “Good day Mrs. Kucheran!”….like what!? He must have served HUNDREDS of people between when he saw me last, but he remembers my last name? Extraordinary!
They had just under 1000 staff on board, making the guest to staff ratio around 1:2. No wonder they were able to offer such personalized, intimate, all around kick-ass service!
The Tiny Details That Impressed Us
Here are a few more examples of the tiny details that impressed us:
- One night at the Tuscan Grille restaurant, I asked the barman if he could make me a mocktail that wasn’t very sweet. He brought over a great Italian soda with basil that rocked my world. Then, about 5 days later, we made reservations at the same restaurant to dine with friends. When I sat down, he came over to me and asked if I wanted any wine.
I said “actually, I don’t know if you remember me or not, but you made me such a great mocktail the other day….”
He was smiling. “Yes, I have it here for you.” And literally retrieved the very same drink I had, already pre-made for me.
This impressed me for a few reasons. One, he gave me the option to choose something else without feeling pressured that he had already made me a drink. Two, he must have seen my name on the reservations list and recalled what I liked to drink and timed it perfectly for my arrival. Three, WHERE ON EARTH CAN YOU GET THIS SERVICE!?
- MY husband Trevor LOVES his cappuccinos. Every morning before lunch he would order an extra hot cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso in the lounge. His server once asked him if he knew what time he would be coming tomorrow for his coffee. Trevor thought she was asking because it was a bother for her to go fetch it, but it was because she wanted to have it READY on the table for him next time, so he didn’t have to wait a few moments.
- At the beginning of our cruise we told our wonderful room attendant Anabel that we would always like to have a fresh water pitcher and ice in the room. For the entire 15 days we never saw either empty. Like magic, there was always a full pitcher of drinking water and ice on our table. Not only that, but she was extremely caring about giving us the best service possible, even though she had been doing this job for 22 years! You would think one would get jaded after catering to guests for two decades, but she treated us like we were the only guests on the ship.
- Passing by any staff in the hallways or the stairs, no matter their rank or job, they would stop and greet us. A smile, a hello, and many times calling us by name! Just remember, there were over 2000 guests on this ship, so how ANYONE remembers any persons name is beyond me!
- No matter the request, their goal and M.O. is to try and fulfill it with a smile.
The food was another surprise for me! I have to admit I thought it would be much like a crappy All Inclusive resort where the food is very bland and plain. (I used to work at a large All Inclusive in Mexico, so I know all about eating horrible food for months on end!) I figured with two weeks on board the food would be anything but fresh and overly repetitive.
In the case of Celebrity’s food, I am delighted to be WRONG. It was delectable.
Dishes were full of flavour, had great presentation and were always hot.
Even EGGS that we had delivered to the room each morning came piping hot, which is NOT an easy feat for delivery.
Where to Eat
We found we were always full on this ship, because there are so many places to eat that are included in your fare.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner can all be ordered through room service at no additional cost. There was a simple system on the TV that allowed us to just click and order.
Breakfast was also done with door hangers (hung the night before) and to be honest, we got it every single day! I’m sure we missed out on some tasty breakfast dishes in the dining room, but it was just so easy and simple for us to order to the room.
Our usual breakfast spread consisted of a carafe of coffee, scrambled eggs, meats for Trevor, danishes and cereal with soy milk.
Throughout the entire 15 days they were never late with delivery, nor did they forget an item. Room Service on the Millennium is a well oiled machine!
Traditional Sit-Down Dining
3 meals a day could be taken in the main dining room called the Metropolitan, which offers sit down menu service. I was shocked to see this, because I figured only buffet would be included in the fare, so I was happy to be wrong!
Both Lunch and Dinner were 3 courses, including appetizer, main entree and desert. Bread basket and assorted whipped butters were always put on the table as well.
They had tables ranging from 2 guests, all the way up to 10. If you wanted to meet some new people, get chatty, or perhaps not wait for a table of 2, sharing a table of 10 was the best option.
We did both during our sailing and each has its own set of benefits.
The menus changed daily and I believe only had 1 repeat during our entire two week sailing.
The Oceanview Cafe and Grille buffet is located on deck 10 and was always fully stocked with great food. I was happy to see a vegetarian station, healthy choices station, and no sugar added desserts section. Of course, there were the full carb, full fat stations that we all know and love! (Nothing wrong with that, just made us walk up to 10 instead of taking the elevators!)
The one thing I didn’t like about the buffet was that it turned into a GONG SHOW around peak times, especially at lunch. It wasn’t that the kitchen was running out of food options, it was that it was hard to get through the people to actually get the food. Also, finding a table could be a little challenging at times. Because of this, we usually opted for traditional sit down lunches at the Metropolitan, or we ate at the buffet at 1:30 instead of 12:00 noon.
The buffet was also open very late into the night for late night snackers like myself.
Having a 7 night speciality dining package was a culinary adventure to say the least. These packages are over and above the ticket price of the cruise, but I highly recommend it for foodies who spend more time thinking about their next meal than anything else. (Me!)
The menu, service and quality of food at the specialty restaurants is astounding.
Here is how we split up our 7 nights:
Tuscan Grille (Italian) = 3 nights
Qsine (Global) = 2 nights
Sushi on 5 (Japanese) = 2 night
It was an impossible task to try and figure out which restaurant would get the 7th night, so we just defaulted to the Italian restaurant, because…. Pistachio filled donuts.
Set up on Deck 3, this classy Italian restaurant had a lot to offer. (Including this dramatic entrance for a great Instagram photo!) The service was remarkable at this restaurant, and the vibe was very cozy yet high class.
Here were some of our favourite dishes:
Goat Cheese & Arugula Toasted Pine Nuts, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Roasted Beef Ribeye (16 oz) with Gorgonzola
Lemon Garlic Brick Chicken with Broccolini Aglio E Olio
Donuts filled with Pistachio Gelato and topped with cherry sauce and powered sugar
If you dine at Qsine on the Millennium, make sure Percy is your waiter. This guy has the Qsine culture running through his veins. I have never seen someone as passionate about the menu and making sure his guests are enjoying it.
This restaurant was a modern twist on cruise ship dining. We were given tablets to order from and told to order at least 4 dishes, as they are meant to be shared. The food is from all over the world and has influences from Greece, Morocco, India, China, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the US. It’s kind of like tapas, but with crazy unique modifications and a super modern flare.
I promise, it’s like nothing you have ever seen before. I giggled like a school girl the entire time.
Here are some of our favourite dishes at Qsine:
Fresh Market Salad with Arugula, Radicchio, Frisée, Watercress, Spinach, Pomegranate Emulsion, Crispy Goat Cheese Crumble
M’s Favorites –Patlican Salata, Mixed Olives, Tzatziki, Eggplant Imam Biyaldi, Tabbouleh, Hummus, Chicken Kofta, Zathaar Lamb Chops, Kibbeh, Mediterranean Chili, Falafel, Goat Cheese Cigars
Chinese x Martini = Chitini’s- Orange Chicken, Beef & Pepper in Black Bean Sauce, Sweet & Sour Pork, Sticky Rice with Dipping Sauces
The Silver Bullet dessert– capsule filled with a trip of gelato flavours, chopped fruit and chocolate topping
Sushi on 5
Any Asian foodie will appreciate the menu at this restaurant, although I have to say it felt a little…secluded? It was on Deck 5 in a moderately busy area, but seemed like everyone had forgotten about it. At most, there were only 2 other tables while we were there. I should also mention, the service was ‘meh’ during our 2 evenings here. Not bad, not good, just entirely bland and forgettable. Since we had gotten used to receiving 10/10 service in every other corner of this ship, it really did stand out to us.
The food however hit the spot. We were getting prepped for all the Japanese dishes once we hit our first stop in Otaru, so this was the perfect place for a sushi warmup.
Here were some of our favourite dishes at Sushi on 5:
Truffled Albacore Tuna – Crispy onion, white truffle oil, house ponzu
Kobe Beef Ramen Sliders – Shaved radish, mizuna, fried onion, tobico, ginger aioliBBQ Pork Ramen Bowl – Slow cooked pork belly, soft boiled egg, pickled hon shimeji mushrooms, scallions
Green Roof Tuna Sushi Roll- Spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, black sesame
(The desserts here didn’t really float our boat, so we grabbed something elsewhere)
Usually reserved for ONLY Suite Class guests, as well as Zenith Club Guests (aka- people who have cruised A LOT!), Michaels Club was hands down our favourite room on the ship. Because we were media covering the voyage and Celebrity wanted to give us access to all parts of the ship, we were granted a pass to the private lounge.
Good move on Celebrity for teasing us like this, because now we can’t live without Michaels Club, so we’ll just have to only book suites now or achieve coveted Zenith status post haste.
The lounge was open from 7am to late into the night and provided it discerning guests with light snacks, canapés, fine wines, sodas, coffees and appetizers throughout the day. There was also a formal tea service each day at 3, which I don’t believe we missed once. (The scones are to DIE FOR!)
Trevor is sober 10 years, and I am doing a ‘year without booze’ this year, so we both abstained from the free alcohol in Michaels Club, but it looked divine. Instead we would have our daily tea, cappuccino and a Perrier on ice. This private and peaceful retreat was the best part of our day, as it allowed us a quiet spot to work, or to simply reflect on everything going on around us. It’s exclusive, luxurious, coveted and like I said… literally our favourite room on the ship.
At the time of our sailing, September 2018, Michael Club looked more like an old fashioned cigar lounge, which I LOVE. It was decked out with wood paneling, thick wooden pillars, china cabinets, dim lighting, and everything else that gives off the ‘Oxford University Lounge’ kind of vibe. Old school and old money.
Soon, in the Millenniums upcoming renovation, Michaels Club will be given a new name and revolutionized to be super modern. Think white walls, open concept spaces, bright, chic, etc. I’m torn between the two worlds of Michales Club to know which version is better! Guess I will just have to wait and see.
John, our private concierge in the lounge, was also a pro at setting up anything we needed. He personally booked and modified all our dinner reservations, ensured we were aware of port times and itineraries, and went out of his way daily to give us an over and above level of service. The waiters inside Michales club had a knack for remembering all your preferences and gave a mind-reading level of service. They always gave the impression that you were their only guest, and serving you was the best part of their day.
Another perk of the job was getting to cover Luminee, which is the Suite Class dining restaurant on board. For this elite and private dining room they brought in their best servers, best menus and had everything prepared fresh upon order. Luminee is magnificently decorated and looks much like upper-scale dining in Los Angeles or New York City. It’s hard at times to remember you’re actually on a ship, at sea, crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The menu was smaller, but more elegant and usually had about 5 appetizer choices with 4 mains to pick from. The chef always brought out an amuse bouche to start the evening and a dessert trolley for a sweet finish. Think of rack of lamb, filet minion and modern takes on simple classics.
Like I had mentioned earlier, I’m kind of biased when it comes to watching live entertainment. I once worked for a large hotel chain in Mexico as an ‘animator’, which basically meant sports coordinator during the day and a dancer in the nightly shows. Because of this, I can’t seem to get my mind out of the industry when I am watching shows. I keep thinking about the outfit changes, hours of rehearsal and other insider tidbits. Not many shoes can pull me out of my own head and back to the performance at hand.
Celebrities shows DID give me some relief and entranced me to watch with fresh eyes, which is always a nice escape.
I also loved how they really mixed the shows up! It wasn’t all theatre and dancing, but quite a mix of all forms of entertainment.
Here are some of the types of entertainment we saw during our sailing:
- Magician (shout out to the awesome Matt Johnson!)
There are two performances of the same show each evening, one a 7:00pm and one at 9:00pm. This way, you can have your preferred dinner time and still get a show in before or after. Since my husband and I act like we are 80 years old, we would eat around 5:00pm and catch the 7:00pm show. (How embarrassing!)
Two Things I Loved About The Theatre:
1- The seating was great! I hate individual stadium type seats that fold up when you stand. This seating was more like a couch, with lots of leg room in front. The seats were so easy to get into and much more comfortable than stadium seats. They also had great drink tables in front of the seats instead of cup holders on the arm rest, which added to the comfort.
2- We didn’t have to reserve the shows before hand. Some cruise lines make you reserve your show times days in advance, which really takes the fun out of spontaneity. I came on the cruise to relax, not to get stressed out with appointment times.
Whoa Nelly! There was a lot to do on the cruise.
Part of me wished it would go on for another 15 days so I could get it all in. I was tickled to see it wasn’t all ping pong and water aerobics either, it was actually a great variety of high class activities.
Not only that, but they had informational seminars, entertainment based lectures, history and culture talks and even demonstrations. There was something for everyone on this cruise, but especially those with a more refined taste.
Our Fav Celebrity Activites
Here are some of the activities we did (Or wished we did, but ran out of time!)
Water Color painting lessons
Insider celebrity seminar with an Emmy winning journalist
Lectures about the destinations we had coming up, like Otaru, Hakodate, Tokyo and Alaska.
Movies! They played Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai, and other Asian flicks to get up prepped for Japan
10+ talks about our oceans, types of whales, bear encounters, volcanos, and other ecological topics
Live Q&A with the captain and other officers
Tango lessons with the dance crew
Technology and iPhone photography lessons
Popular Celebrity Activites
I also wanted to point out of some other activities that I did not go to, but sure were popular on the cruise.
Art seminars and live art auctions
Fitness, cycling and yoga classes
Culinary lessons (like how to cook the perfect pasta)
Beauty seminars (like an eyebrow workshop and perfect day time makeup look)
Skin demonstrations (getting rid of puffy eyes, wrinkles, dark circles and more)
Blackjack and Poker tournaments
Silent disco parties
Wine and port tastings
Guest choir rehearsals and performance
Tour Through The Celebrity Millennium
Even though the Celebrity Millennium is a relatively small ship compared to the newest mega ships, there were still many areas to explore!
The Celebrity Millennium has 12 decks and around a 2100 passenger capacity. You can peek at the Deck Plans here.
The ship features:
- A library
- Acupuncture room
- Huge gym with lots of equipment
- Indoor and outdoor pools
- Indoor and outdoor jacuzzis
- A casino
- Gelato shop
- Boutique area with many shops. Jewelry, clothing, perfumes, even an Apple store.
- Computer lounge
- Hair salon
- Wine Cellar
- Conference Room
- Lounges, bars and cafes
- Photography studio
- Kids Club
- Jogging Track
- Rooftop Terrace
For our sailing, we planned on doing organized tours through Celebrity at two stops: Sitka, Alaska and Shimizu, Japan.
However, the caption had to make a last minute change of course due to an approaching super typhoon and Shimizu port was removed from the schedule.
This left an excursion in Sitka, Alaska, and of course taking our own tour through the stops in Otaru and Hakodate, Japan.
Sea Otters, Raptors and Bears, Oh My
Excursion in Sitka Alaska
Not only did we see ALL the animals that the title suggests, but we also got to see humpback whales and bald eagles. It was the perfect day for an Alaskan tour.
Sunny, mild weather, and clear, which is not something that can always be said about coastal Alaska.
Early in the AM we disembarked off the Millennium and boarded a very small catamaran type boat, called the St. Eugene. This boat took us all around the bays of Sitka in hopes of spotting some whales and sea otters. It did NOT disappoint! We saw whales ‘sounding’ (or diving down, displaying their tails before fully entering the water) almost immediately! September is usually the last you will see of these magnificent creatures before they head down to Mexico or South America for the winter.
Throughout the 3 hour boat tour we were able to see many types of birds, bald eagles, rafts of male and female otters (I DIE at the cuteness!) and stunning views of the coast. The boat had an open upper level which was great for taking pictures, and an enclosed lower level for staying warm in the brisk September air. There were 2 washrooms, a gift shop and even snacks, coffee and hot chocolate. Our tour guide was a young man who was born and raised in Sitka and truly loved sharing his backyard with everyone.
After the boat tour, we headed into a raptor sanctuary, where they aid and rehabilitate injured raptors. (Raptors are birds like eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, ospreys and kites.) 90% of the cause of injury to these birds is man, so they also try and educate on how to lessen the harm to our raptor friends. If the birds are injured for life, they remain at the sanctuary, which has been set up to give them a home as close to free nature as possible.
We even got to see a raptor up-close and personal, as one of the staff brought her into a room for a live Q & A.
To end our day, we headed over to the most unique bear sanctuary I have ever seen. What used to be the tanks for an old abandoned pulp mill, were converted into massive enclosures for equally massive bears! One enclosure held both male and female adults, while the other houses some brand new orphans who were still too tiny to be around such huge roommates.
The people around me probably got sick of me constantly cooing “Omg, they are SO cute! I CAN’T!”, but I couldn’t help myself. I had never seen such gigantic bears in my life, especially not ones that sat like humans and had the most freaking adorable faces.
If you love bears, you MUST take the “Sea Otters, Raptors and Bears, Oh My!” excursion. You won’t forget this experience!
Self Guided Excursions
At our stops in Otaru and Hakodate, we decided to do self-guided explorations of the cities. Both were super easy to navigate and get around in.
Otaru was our favourite out of the two cities, as it felt more quaint, accessible and welcoming for tourists. Because of it’s canals and cobblestones, the city has been dubbed ‘the Venice of Japan’, and while that is a stretch, it’s still certainly lovely. The canals were an easy walk from the ship, as was the centre of town. It was our first stop after 8 straight days at sea, so we were happy to get our steps in.
If you love food, you will love Sakaimachi street, which is essentially the ‘main’ tourist street in Otaru.
It’s jam packed with anything and everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Half of the stores are chocolate and candy stores, with the other half being either Sushi, Ramen or Japanese street food. You WILL have trouble figuring out where to eat, I can promise you that.
Otaru is also known for it’s beer, so if you are a connoisseur of brew you will have ample opportunities there. There is also a great hike out to a peninsula that some of our friends did and recommended.
Loved Otaru, would be delighted to return.
The main attractions in Hakodate were too far to walk from port, but Celebrity had a free shuttle that got us there in under 15 minutes. Truth be told, it wasn’t really my thing…but for many people it’s great!
We went through the world-famous fish market…which is where I probably got turned off. I’m a fan of sushi, but not a big fan of rows and rows of fish and bustling crowds of people. Between you and me, it’s rank! BUT… if you love to eat still squirming tentacles and weird sea creatures, then this is the place for you!
We then walked over to some beautiful red brick warehouses, but were a little bummed out that everything inside was priced really high and not traditional goods. It was definitely more set up for cruise ship visitors, which is to be expected, but lacked the culture we were seeking.
Maybe this would have been a better stop to do a guided tour with? I find that guided tours are ALWAYS more memorable as they are pros at showing you the best of the best.
I will give it a second shot! On our return to Hakodate, we would like take this Celebrity guided excursion.
Here is where everything comes together so nicely. From reading everything above, one could figure that this cruise must have cost a small fortune, but it was a STEAL!
Our tickets were only $1000 USD each, which includes transportation to Asia, plus two weeks of accommodation, dining, and entertainment.
I don’t think I could live on land for that price. (Fast forward to me in retirement living full time on cruise ships instead of an old folks home.)
When I checked flights to Japan from Vancouver, they were around close to that amount for economy seats! Don’t even get me started on how much business class flight were….
This made using this transpacific cruise a NO BRAINER for getting to Asia. Why on earth would we fly when we could have a luxurious two week vacation for the same price!?
What IS Included in Cruise Fare
For most Celebrity cruises, here is what IS included in the fare price.
- Sit-down dining and/or buffet for 3 meals a day
- Coffee, tea, water, juice
- Snacks at various spots (like cookies and cake at Cafe Bacio)
- All shows and entertainment
- 90% of all activities (some have a fee)
- Use of amenities like the gym, pool, jacuzzis, etc.
- Port fees
- Transportation to Japan from Vancouver
What IS NOT Included in Cruise Fare
Here is what CAN be over and above the cruise fare. Of course, if you have status in the Captain’s Club, have booked a Suite, OR have booked with free perks, you still might get some of these for free.
- Premium Drinks. Coffee like cappuccinos, soft drinks, alcohol, etc. These can be purchased on demand, with a package, or might be included with a booking perk.
- Specialty Restaurants. Again, you might have them included with a perk, but if not you can pay a cover charge per restaurant visit, or purchase a package.
- Activities like pilates class, art auctions, and wine tastings.
- Spa treatments, salon, acupuncture, etc.
- WiFi. If you can get this as a perk, DO IT! Otherwise you will need to purchase a package.
- Gratuities. These are paid at the end of your cruise and calculated on a per day, per person basis.
Celebrity Booking TIP:
To maximize the amount of amenities you get INCLUDED in your fare, watch out for the “Free Perks” promotions. They happen throughout the year on select cruises and room classes, and are an amazing deal.
During these promos they allow you to choose 2 free perks like free gratuities and free wifi, which can save a ton of money!
The Celebrity Millennium Renovation
In February 2019, the Celebrity Millennium will dry dock in Singapore for it’s $100 Million dollar renovation. The entire process will take over 30 days and will include a. major overhaul and all state rooms and public spaces.
We had the opportunity to meet with the hotel director onboard and he gave us a great insight to what the refurbishment will cover.
The Millennium will seem like a brand spanking new ship, despite being 20 years old. Some spaces that will be revolutionized are:
The casino, the dining rooms, the theatre, the grand foyer, the gym, Michael’s Club, adding suite retreats to Deck 12, and ALL of the staterooms.
The design palette features lots of whites, crisp blues, and sleek modern spaces. Many design elements are being borrowed from the Edge Class ships.
Here are some example renderings of what the renovation will look like once completed:
Watch our Stories from the Cruise:
Our Upcoming Trip
So if you couldn’t tell already, I am a pretty big fan of the Celebrity Millennium. I am going to give it credit for changing the way I travel for the rest of my life. I just didn’t realize I COULD have it all. Fancy dining, perfect service, adventurous itineraries… all without putting myself into bankruptcy.
This is why: We’ve BOOKED the same ship for April 2019, but this time dong the voyage in reverse.
April 24th, 2019:
We’ll board the dazzling, newly renovated Celebrity Millennium in Yokohama and take the 14 day sailing back to Vancouver, Canada.
Not only am I ecstatic to see it’s 100 million dollar renovation, but I am also over the moon to repeat my experience again. See familiar faces, eat at my favourite restaurants, and do all the activities I didn’t fit in on the last go around.
Want to Come?
We are inviting our readers and friends to come with us! We’re not involved with the booking at all, we just want to have some fun on board with like minded people. If you think the Japan to Canada repositioning cruise is a good idea (which it is), just head over to Celebrity and book your room. Last time we checked, they had rooms starting at $800 USD, which is a STEAL for a two week transpacific crossing.
Disclosure: Celebrity provided me with wifi packages, excursions and speciality dining packages for my sailing. However, my opinions of the brand are my own, truthful and not at all influenced.