Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Eastern Caribbean on the Millennium

This was a great cruise, but being only a week, it was definitely too short. This time we brought two of our girlfriends along, & it was fun to watch them discover the joys of life aboard a cruise ship. Since this was their first cruise, they got a cabin with a verandah, which we got to enjoy also. On Friday morning we ordered a room service breakfast, which was very opulent. We enjoyed it on the verandah.
The Millennium is a beautiful ship, with some interesting features. The one I think I liked best was the large portholes in the floor of the casual dining room on Deck 10, which allow for watching the water go by if you look down. That's something definitely not recommended for those who are prone to seasickness. Although there were a few times when the movement of the ship was quite noticeable, the size of the ship minimized the effects of the motion. The other nice feature was the central atrium, where one can lean over the rail to hear the band playing below.
The midnight tropical fruit buffet was beautiful, with lots of watermelon carvings, and other imaginative fruit creations. This one was much nicer than the one on the Zenith, maybe because there was much more space for setting it up.
The grand gala midnight buffet was stunningly beautiful. It was by far the most beautiful one I've ever seen. There were many ice sculptures. My favorites were the fish and the huge vases that were filled with flowers. The bread table was amazing. The pretzels tasted great, also. It was almost as if there was a hint of cinnamon in them. As usual, though, the best tasting food was on the dessert table. The Indian headdress done in melon, the chocolate ship, and the egg penguins were all unusual and very well done. The only thing this buffet was missing was the large oval "pictures" they featured on the Zenith, which were scenes made up from carved fruits and vegetables set into a bed of gelatin.
I can't say enough good about the wait staff on the Millennium. We have for the most part experienced excellent waiters. But the team of Sandu and Kittisak excelled over the best of the others. The scale of comparison here is between excellent and exceptional. Sandu had a lot of fun with our table, as we did with him. The best part is that he went far out of his way to help us play a practical joke on one of our new traveling companions. The success of the project is demonstrated by the photo with the huge doughnut. There is a story behind presenting her with a doughnut, which I will not relate. Suffice it to say, we took her by surprise and all had a great time with it. The doughnuts (there were two of them) were specially made for us by the pastry chef, and were the best tasting doughnuts I've ever eaten. To go with the candles on the one doughnut, all the waiters gathered around our table and we sang "happy doughnut to you" to our friend. Fortunately she appreciates a good joke and is still our friend. The memory of the whole episode still makes me smile. Sandu also looked out for us at every meal he worked; he found yogurt for my lunch on the day I felt sick, and sent waiters to get what we wanted when the "late night gourmet bites" were being served (as the supervisor it was appropriate for him to do that). We also had the pleasure of being the first to know that he had gotten engaged to a very beautiful young lady in the middle of our cruise. We wish him and his bride-to-be a lifetime of happiness. We also hope to encounter them on other cruises. He let us know that if we will be on his ship, we can request to be seated at one of his tables. That's worth remembering when you have such a special waiter.
Our room steward, Francis, was also exceptional. He was always available, always had a big smile for us, and even though it wasn't one of the amenities that came with our cabin, at our request he kept us supplied with a bowl of fresh fruit throughout the cruise.
This time I made good on my goal to try shore excursions, and did a tour of both San Juan, & the island of St. Thomas. Unfortunately, when we were at Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic, I was again not feeling well, so while I have a couple of pictures, I really have not seen the island. From what I understand, I did not miss much, but it is disappointing to have illness interfere with sightseeing opportunities. I was able to get a lot of good pictures on the tours, & those I will share in later postings.
When we boarded the Millennium we were not sure how we were going to like being on such a huge ship. Our prior experience had been on smaller ships like the Zenith & the Maasdam. However, apart from the walking distances between shipboard locations, the atmosphere was very similar. We met quite a few nice people, and did encounter them multiple times. The other thing that was really phenomenal on the Millennium was the show lounge entertainment. The quality of the Celebrity Singers & Dancers troupe, along with the other entertainment was the best we've seen. There was a comedian who was actually both funny and clean. The juggler was okay, but did nothing of particular interest. I'm afraid that when it comes to jugglers, if I've seen one, I've seen them all; juggling is juggling. I also tried the dance classes offered by one member of the dance troupe. That was quite fun except for the fact that he operated on the assumption that everyone is as coordinated as he is. It was still an adventure, a place to make new friends, and I know more now than I did when I started.
All in all, it was a great time, and it brought home to me that I like being on a cruise ship far better than I like being on land. It keeps getting harder to leave the ship to go home. More later.

No comments: