GTS Millennium

Synopsis by Kris Krenz, MCC

 

On November 16, 2000 Maureen and I had a chance to spend a couple of nights on Celebrity Cruises' newest ship, the Millennium, in New York City after she completed her first Trans-Atlantic crossing. It was an exciting opportunity to tour the Millennium because she is the first of a new class of ship for Celebrity Cruises-both in design and technology.

This new design consists of a panamax hull (meaning the hull is the maximum size allowed to pass through the Panama Canal) incorporating four decks of ocean view staterooms with private verandas. Another nice design feature is that 80% of the staterooms onboard are ocean view staterooms, and 74% of these have private verandas.

The Millennium was built at Chantiers de l' Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France. She is 91,000 gross registered tons, 964.6 feet long, 105 feet wide, has a 26.3 feet draft, features 11 passenger decks and has a cruising speed of 24 knots. The Millennium can accommodate 1,950 guests double occupancy and houses 999 crewmembers (this means that the crew-to-guest ratio is 2:1). Her maiden voyage was July 1, 2000.

 

Maureen Krenz, MCC

Rick Sasso, President of Celebrity Cruises

Kris Krenz, MCC

Photo taken in Grand Foyer onboard the Millennium

 

I think that we will see a lot more new builds similar in design and size to the Millennium-Costa's "CostaAtlantica," Carnival Cruise Lines' "Spirit" and a future ship from Holland America appear to be similar. This design has been a result of passenger demand for more veranda cabins as well as the cruise lines desire to maximize passenger capacity per ship while being able to navigate freely around the globe. Many larger new builds such as Carnival's Destiny Class, Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class or Princess Cruises' Grand Class cannot transit the Panama Canal, which limits these ships itineraries.

So have the cruise lines and the customers found a happy median in ship design?

The Millennium also boasts a number of firsts for the cruise industry. She is the first to use gas turbine technology. This technology can reduce exhaust emissions by up to 90%. The Millennium uses "GTS" (Gas Turbine System) as a prefix to her formal name, which is "GTS Millennium." Also the use of this type of system curtails engine noise and vibration considerably. She is also the first ship to have an exterior glass-enclosed elevator. It is fun to use and gives you a wonderful panoramic view, but if you have a fear of heights this may present a problem because it is the only elevator bank mid-ship.

 

 

 

 

This Celebrity Cruises press photo shows the casual outdoor dining area located aft on the resort deck.

 

Another industry first is that all suites onboard have Internet access, flat screen PCs and printers. (One note is that I failed to find these available in the Sky Suite categories as stated in the literature.) Also a first is "Notes," a two-level music library with personal listening stations. I found this feature a little bit unusual because the seating is spread out and there are only 15 listening stations in this large open lounge (and I found the music selections to be very limited for a person with discerning tastes). I do however, find this concept of a music library very good. Maybe the crew can pick up some "real" steel drum and calypso music during the Millennium's Caribbean runs. (I would be more than happy to guide Celebrity in music recommendations, as collecting world music is a personal hobby.)

The AquaSpaSM is 25,000 square feet, and according to Celebrity is the largest, most sophisticated and extensive spa at sea. One exclusive offering is the "Sensory Heaven" experience by Elemis Ltd., a premium brand offering holistic therapies and spa products. The AquaSpaSM also offers Thalassotherapy, hydrotherapy, mud-steam sequences, thermal baths and the new Aromatic Bath. Guests can also enjoy healthy foods and beverages at the AquaSpaSM Café, and its pool (under a glass roof) is the largest hydropool at sea, featuring reverse currents for resistance swimming.

 

 

The AquaSpa SM

Photo by K. Krenz

 

Not only is the spa considered the largest at sea, but the Millennium also features the largest designer boutique shopping area found onboard any ship. The area, made up of stores and kiosks, is called "The Emporium" and features European-style shopping boutiques, an art gallery, auction area and more.

A unique and "old" original feature is "The Olympic" dining room-probably one of the most talked about features onboard because the woodwork used in this restaurant was removed from the "A La Carte" restaurant onboard the RMS Olympic, which was a sister ship to the RMS Titanic. Although the "The Olympic" was off limits during our stay onboard the Millennium, I did manage to finally find my way in to get a closer look and to touch the elegant wood paneling. It's kind of ironic that Celebrity is playing on one of the worst disasters at sea to gain notoriety-but then again, if Celebrity made no mention of Titanic how many would know or care about the Olympic?

"The Olympic" is probably the most luxurious and elegantly designed space onboard the Millennium. The rich Edwardian wood-carved walnut panels with gilded highlights were fully restored and painstakingly installed. "The Olympic" seats 134 guests and features an open galley and a dine-in wine cellar with a capacity for 8 guests. Remember to tell your clients to book their reservations early in the cruise if they wish to dine here. Also be prepared to spend time and money, as the dining experience takes about 3 hours and the cost per person is a nominal $12 to cover gratuities (splurging on a nice bottle of wine will also be in order). I was also told that suite guests have preference as to table size and location.

Below is a press photo of the Olympic Restaurant

 

What Celebrity has also done is create a small museum outside of "The Olympic" restaurant. Not only does this museum display items from White Star Lines, including the ship's bell from the RMS Olympic, but it also features an audio-visual history of "The Olympic" narrated by Author and Historian John Maxtone-Grahm.

The "Metropolitan" Restaurant is the main dining venue onboard. Located aft, it seats 1,224 guests and spans two decks. By day the large two deck high aft windows offer a wonderful panoramic view, and by night large shades are pulled down that show different scenery, creating a different environment each evening. The restaurant's colors are very bold shades of blue, red and gold, there is an open stairwell between the levels, and an orchestra or piano player serenades you as you dine.

The largest casual dining area onboard is found on the Resort deck, called the "Ocean Café" and "Ocean Grill." Celebrity has designed this area to create the atmosphere of a Portuguese bistro. A casual breakfast, lunch or dinner can be enjoyed here, including light cuisine, pizza, pasta, grilled foods, ice cream and much more. The most notable seating area is the outdoor aft dining area, featuring a teak deck, teak tables, teak chairs, and wood paneled bar. The wood décor adds a very warm rich feel to this area, reminding me of the outside aft bar area found on the smaller Windstar ships. If you happen to dine inside near the ceiling to floor windows in this location you will be surprised to find clear glass ports in the floor with views that look straight down 6 decks. (I saw a few people making wide berths around these ports to avoid stepping on them-this ship may be a great choice for people trying to cure their fear of heights.)

As far as the lounges go onboard, Celebrity Cruises once again gives smokers something to cheer about. "Michael's Club," the cigar bar, is almost as elegant as "The Olympic." This English Georgian style lounge is designed with natural cherry paneling and filled with beautiful classical art. Another specialty lounge is "Platinum Club," the Martini, Champagne and Caviar bar, overlooking the "Rendezvous Lounge," which serves as a gathering place with music and dancing while waiting to go to dinner.

 

 

The two level Metropolitan Restaurant

Photo by Kris Krenz

 

For specialty coffees there is "Cova Café Milano," named after the internationally renowned Italian Café located near Milan's famed La Scala Opera House. Not only will you sample some wonderful coffees, but find fresh-baked pastries as well.

Topside on the Sunrise Deck you will find the "Extreme Sports Bar" and "Cosmos." "Extreme Sports Bar," with its glass walls, is brightly decorated with colorful furniture and features sports-related contemporary artwork. There are also many flat screen TV's suspended and placed at odd angles, so no mater where you sit you can watch your favorite sporting event without getting a crick in your neck.

"Cosmos" is a glass-enclosed observation lounge located high above the ship's bridge. It offers comfortable seating areas, a large dance floor and stage for a live band and the best panoramic views found onboard. Above the centrally-located dance floor is a large skylight--during the day the lounge is filled with natural light, and at night the Cosmos comes alive with live dance music. Later on in the evening a DJ takes your requests until the wee hours.

I was pleasantly surprised with "The Celebrity Theater." On the Millennium, Celebrity has changed from the contemporary Broadway theater design used on their other ships to a Mediterranean-themed classical-appearing theater. Celebrity's first three-deck performance theater, "The Celebrity Theater" reminded me of an old opera house with two of the three levels offering a full circular balcony. A nice feature of these balconies is that they are not stepped back, but built one on top of the other, so if you sit in the balcony you can still feel up close to the action. Many torches with simulated flames are recessed into the wall all around the theater, creating the illusion of what a playhouse might have been like before electric lights.

After the show a stop at the casino is in order. "Fortunes Casino" is designed in 19th century Belle Epoch décor, with beautiful murals, statues and columns. Celebrity did not cut any corners with the quality of materials and craftsmanship in the casino.

 

 

 

Michael's Club, the cigar bar

Photo by K. Krenz

 

The Millenium has a large three-level open area called the "Grand Foyer" (the first area you will see when boarding the ship, and probably the last area as you disembark). It is on the bottom level, where you will find most of the guest services. Many lounges are just off of this open area, including Celebrity's first Internet Café, where you can send digital postcards to your friends and family back home. You can also catch the glass-enclosed elevators in this area. Celebrity made great use of natural light, which filters in on this area by day. A very large translucent, backlighted, yellowish/brown onyx staircase is here, leading from the first to the second level. In my opinion, this was one of the least attractive features found onboard-it looked like a glowing great pyramid of Egypt and because it is backlighted, it stands out. The bulky glowing staircase appears to be drastically out of proportion with the rest of the "Grand Foyer's" surroundings. If this object was removed and replaced with a gentler stairwell, I think visual harmony would be achieved in this area.

The resort deck (deck 10) is where the main pool can be found. Although this area is very functional with many deck chairs, I found this lounging area to be smaller in proportion with the other Celebrity ships. Most of the outside pool lounging area has been compromised by the enclosed AquaSpaSM pool area. It will be interesting to see if this area will be large enough to handle all of the Caribbean sun-worshipers during her first Caribbean season. I hate nothing more than having to worry about getting a lounge chair by the pool with my wife.

In regards to accommodations, the Millennium's Penthouse Suites are the largest afloat at 1,690 square feet. I was in awe by the large L-shaped veranda with the large wet bar, lounge/seating area, exercise equipment, and whirlpool. The Royal Suites are also very accommodating at 562 square feet. I was impressed with the 498 square foot Celebrity Suites. Even though the Celebrity Suites do not have a private veranda, the location of these suites provides some of the best views and offers a larger living room seating area--it is amazing how much extra room you have when you take away the veranda. The smallest suite accommodations are the Sky Suites that range from 254 to 362 square feet.

 

 

 

Our standard oceanview stateroom

Photo by K Krenz

 

The standard oceanview cabins with veranda accommodations range from 208 square feet to 232 square feet (including the veranda). Standard ocean-view staterooms and inside staterooms are 170 square feet. The Millennium also has 12 very unusual staterooms. These cabins (category 3) facing aft feature a veranda almost as large as the room itself. The category 3 accommodations are staterooms that are 271 square feet with a veranda of 242 square feet.

In-room amenities include a refrigerator/honor bar, sofa/seating area with coffee table, safe, hair dryer, telephone with voice mail, interactive TV, radio, complimentary use of terry cloth robes, 24-hour room service, shampoo and lotion dispenser along with other misc. amenities.

Children will not be left out as the "Fun Factory" offers a playroom with a variety of activities for children from the ages of 3 to 12. Here is a puzzle wall, movie room, colorful play area and separate arts-and-crafts room. Older children will be able to enjoy their own broadcast room and video game arcade.

Other notable features found onboard are the two level library "Words", the Cinema and Conference Center, Meeting/Function Rooms and the Conservatory. The Cinema doubles as the largest multi-media room accommodating up to 300. Five other smaller sophisticated meeting rooms are also available. The "Conservatory" which I did not see, is a tranquil space designed by award-winning floral designer Emilio Robba of Paris. The "Conservatory" features unusual flowers, plants, trees, mini-gardens and fountains.

Because I had plenty of time to wait before boarding the ship in NYC I was able to get a good look at the exterior of the Millennium. One thing I did observe is that a few of the outside veranda cabins vary considerably in veranda size because of the angles of the ship. I even noticed that a few of the verandah cabins have view obstructions. These are not noted in the literature. I would almost bet that the sister ship, the Infinity, will be identical. If you are concerned about placement of your cabin, your best bet would be to let PAK-N-GO Cruises and Tours make your cruise arrangements.

The unusual lines of this ship could be a factor when you are choosing a cabin. I walked up and down the pier to note the staterooms with obstructions not noted in the Brochure.

PAK-N-GO Cruises and Tours' knows where to place you. Call us today!

Photo by K Krenz

 

The exterior color scheme of the ship I found to be very unusual for Celebrity Cruises. In my opinion the current color scheme of the fleet is more synonymous with a luxury product. The gold, red, and blues used on the Millenium are almost contrasting and create a near "cartoony" effect. The wide gold racing strips and the large words "GAS TURBINE" painted boldly in red, reminds me more of a "NASCAR" racer than a cruise ship.

With my short onboard visit, I've come to the conclusion that the Millennium will offer something special for every guest. While I was not "thrilled" with the exterior design, lines, colors and angles of the ship the interior was tastefully done. I also was impressed by the cleanliness of the public areas and cabins. As per usual, I will not comment on the food. Food is of a very personal nature and what one person may find wonderful another will find bland, boring or not to his/her tastes. However, once again the extensive food entrees featured onboard the Millenium are created by Master Chef Michel Roux.

I do want to thank Rick Sasso, Julissa Perez and the rest of the team at Celebrity Cruises for inviting us as guests onboard this marvelous ship.

-- K Krenz MCC

When it comes to booking a cruise on the Millennium, you want the PAK-N-GO Cruises and Tours' advantage. The Millennium cruises the Eastern & Western Caribbean in the Winter and Europe in the Summer. Call PAK-N-GO Cruises and Tours today to book your next cruise vacation.

More Photos of the Millennium (Click on the names below.)

Lounges onboard the Millennium (Will be available soon, please check back.)

Resort Deck onboard the Millennium (Will be available soon, please check back.)

Restaurant onboard the Millennium (Will be available soon, please check back.)

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