Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eating, Drinking and Exploring on the Celebrity Millennium

After the stop at Catalina, we had a day at sea on the Celebrity Millennium. I decided it would be a great time to learn more about this cruise ship.

I got up very early because I had hoped to get some work done. Unfortunately, the internet was down (what am told is a frequent occurrence). I did get a workout in at the gym, an impressive facility with a huge assortment of equipment, as well as mats, stability balls, weights and fitness classes.  I then  discovered the Aqua Spa CafĂ© in the Solarium,  a great adults-only area with a hydrotherapy pool and two whirlpools. The food is wonderful and healthy, with an assortment of dishes that include yogurt grilled chicken and fish, fruits, vegetables and grains, such as couscous and quinoa.  I knew this would be a spot I would return to as much as possible.

My friend Lynn and I made a stop at the casino, where the ship was offering a “Free Money Slot Pull.”  We didn’t walk away with any extra money, but got to play for awhile on the ship’s coins. After that I went to meet Michael Bramlett, Food & Beverage Manager of the Celebrity Millennium. We talked for quite awhile about the huge cocktail menu (only the first two pages are altered, depending on the ships itinerary),  He also told me that this wine cruise was just one of the many options in the “Savor Your Destination” themes, available on a number of different Celebrity Cruises with itineraries all over the world.

One of the things I was most interested in hearing about was the Beverage Plans. They allow passengers to choice from what suits them best, from $6 a day for soda to $46 a day for unlimited premium drinks (alcoholic , non-alcoholic, wine and beer). Options exist for everything you could think of in between, including the Premium Non-Alcoholic I was on, which gave me endless bottled water (including Vitamin Water), soda, juices, smoothies, frozen drinks and specialty coffees.  It worked well for me since I was going to be doing most of my wine and spirits drinking at all our stops. 

Bramlett told me that many guests go for the top package, enjoying the freedom that they can drink whatever they want and not worry about what the bill at the end would be. He reminded me that it was the ship experience people were on board for and it was the staff’s job to make sure they had what they wanted. “The best island we are going to hit is The Millennium,” he stated.

I finally got an internet connection so lunch was in front of my computer in my stateroom. I was surprised how easy it was to order room service straight from the television, with dozens of options available 24 hours a day for no extra charge. I enjoyed the Margarita Pizza before my Bridge Tour led by Second Officer Stefanos Fallos. The bridge was much bigger than I imagined and as technically exact as the computers that run the ship are, they also follow what looks just like the GPS I have in my car and look up Weather.com for additional information. This ship also costs a staggering $9-10,000 in fuel per hour.

After the tour I was down in the Grand Foyer for what F&B Manager Michael Bramlett called a “taste of what we do on the Millennium.” Taste was an accurate word as there were chefs and samples from every department, including the sushi that is served each evening. I just took a few nibbles before the Wine Appreciation 101 seminar that was a part of this wine cruise. There was a big turnout for this very basic course in wine tasting that was led by Larry Nocera, Director of Sales for Caribbean, Latin America and Cruise Lines for Kobrand.  The choices came from France, Italy, California, France and Portugal and, while I was impressed with the selection, there wasn’t really anything that caught my eye (or, I should say, my taste buds). It was still an interesting course for the novice in tasting that went over the geographic make up of the wine regions.

Dinner consisted of a fruity Grenadine Scented Pineapple with Honeydew; good French Onion Soup (which I was happy to hear is available every day); and an incredible pasta, Penne Poulet Aux Truffles in Chardonnay Cream.  After dinner, I met Larry again at the “Connoisseur Wine & Cheese Pairing” in Michael’s Club.  This tasting was much more intimate and I enjoyed the cheese and the wines, especially liked the Tignanello from Marchesi Antinori in Tuscany Italy. 

By the time the tasting was done it was time to head to the stateroom for some rest as in the morning the ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and we would head to Napa and Sonoma.

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