I sailed on the Celebrity Millennium for eight days.
Even though I’ve been on five cruises with my family, this was the first one since the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and there were some things I didn’t expect about the overall experience.
Even though it was summer, it was still cold and sometimes too foggy to see anything.
When most people book a cruise in the summer, they picture days lounging by the pool, drinking frozen margaritas, and wearing shorts.
The ports we visited in Alaska were all pretty warm, but days at sea were quite cold. It was often too windy to enjoy any of the outdoor activities, such as movies at the outside cinema or games by the pool deck.
We were also looking forward to sailing through Alaska’s picturesque Inside Passage, but it was too foggy to see anything.
There were blanket stations throughout the pool deck — I grabbed a few to stay warm on my stateroom balcony, too — and on our very cold journey to Hubbard Glacier, the crew passed out hot chocolate to everyone outside.
I thought there would be more food options available throughout the day.
Although there was plenty of specialty dining for dinner and a massive buffet on the pool deck, we’d occasionally come back tired and hungry from our excursions and realize there was nowhere unique to eat until our set meal time.
The buffet was closed between lunch and dinner, except for the pizza bar. Even the burger station on the pool deck wasn’t available.
I’m glad I packed eye masks for sleeping.
In Alaska, the sun rose as early as 3 a.m. and set as late as 10 p.m.
Since the sun was out so late, I didn’t feel tired, but bringing an eye mask helped me maintain a regular sleep schedule.
I’d definitely recommend packing one, especially if you’re a light sleeper like me.
Even though the ship provided hand sanitizer and masks, I didn’t see many guests using them.
As this was my first cruise since the pandemic, I was curious about what health protocols would be put in place, if any. For example, guests needed a negative COVID-19 test to board the ship. We also provided proof of vaccination.
I didn’t notice any social-distancing measures on board, but I saw staff frequently wipe down buttons, tables, and other frequently touched surfaces. Plus, there was hand sanitizer near the dining areas.
I also appreciated that they gave guests reusable masks with Celebrity branding, but I rarely saw anyone wearing them. Every staff member I saw was masked, though.
The onboarding process and safety briefing was surprisingly easy.
Unlike many other cruise lines I’ve sailed with, Celebrity only required us to watch a video and check in at the muster station as part of our mandatory safety briefing.
We checked in there with the staff as soon as we stepped on the ship and were then free to wander and go to our staterooms, making this the quickest briefing I’ve ever experienced.
Since our stateroom was part of the concierge class, we also got to enjoy an exclusive lunch in the main dining room. Overall, it was by far the smoothest embarkation process I’ve experienced.
We used our phones a lot more than I expected.
Passengers could book dining reservations, check the daily itinerary, and even look at dinner menus in advance through Celebrity’s app.
The general cruise fare included a basic Wi-Fi package, which pretty much only worked for the app.
We used the messaging feature to stay connected, setting up a group chat to let each other know where on the boat to meet and send reminders about dinner reservations or excursion times.
It was important to keep my phone charged to stay connected with my family and easily know what was happening around the ship.
We drank so much coffee.
Celebrity offers passengers a basic drink package as part of the original fare.
My family stuck with the classic drinks package, which covered any drink up to $9. If we wanted to buy beverages that weren’t part of our fare, like a premium cocktail, we only had to pay the difference.
I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but fortunately, the ship had a coffee shop that was covered by my package. Having access to unlimited iced lattes and specialty hot teas was a major highlight.
People were casually dressed in the main dining room.
Although there were signs about not wearing flip-flops or shorts in the dining room, that definitely didn’t stop anyone.
I noticed a lot of guests not following the dress code during dinner but still being allowed in the dining room.
Additionally, the formal nights called for “evening chic,” which Celebrity describes as a “modern take on dressing up,” listing cocktail dresses and designer jeans as examples.
Some passengers wore dresses and heels, but I was able to opt for sandals and a sundress, which was more comfortable.
I could’ve ordered pretty much any meal to my stateroom with room service, even food from the main dining room.
One night, I started to feel bloated from the amount of food we’d been eating and skipped dining in the main room.
My parents let me know that our waiter asked if I wanted any food sent to me.
I could’ve ordered anything from the main dining room — even a plate of beef Wellington — and had it delivered to my stateroom.
By day six, we started to run out of things to do.
Since this was a trip to Alaska and it was usually too cold to lounge on the pool deck or swim, we were surprised by the lack of onboard activities — especially during sea days.
We attended our fair share of trivia sessions, as well as silent disco nights, but would’ve enjoyed more options like bingo or mini golf.
Le Petit Chef was an adorable specialty-dining experience that felt worth the price.
Normally, my parents stick to eating dinner in the main dining room instead of the specialty restaurants, but when we found out Le Petit Chef — an immersive 3D dining show featuring “the smallest chef in the world” — was offered on board, we booked a reservation right away.
The dining experience, which cost around $55 per person, features a cartoon chef that’s projected onto the table and plates.
It was surprisingly heartwarming, and the food was pretty delicious, especially after watching the little animated chef cook it in front of us.