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|Celebrity Millennium |
Millennium and her sister ships, introducing several new elements, have exceeded passenger expectations and are the reference for ships coming in the next decade
by Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (March 12, 2002)
The 90,228 GT Millennium is the first ship of a new class built by French yard Chantiers de l'Atlantique for Celebrity Cruises.
The Millennium was first presented to the cruise media in March 2000, and delivered in June 2000 in St. Nazaire, France.
She sailed the Mediterranean in her first summer season, which was repeated this year after a Caribbean winter season.
The Millennium introduced several new elements, such as four glass ocean view elevators, Internet access in suites, both first ever at sea, a two deck music library, called Notes, and the biggest Spa at sea.
But the true novelty in the Millennium design was the propulsion plant: she is the first cruise ship to use gas turbine technology.
She is propulsed by two GE Marine LM 2500+ gas turbines and a steam turbine, instead of the most usual diesel electric arrangement with four to six diesel engines.
Each of the three drive an AC electric generator.
The system, called COGES (COmbined Gas turbine and Diesel engine), supply power to two electrically driven podded Mermaid units, for the first time on a cruise ship. It can rotate 360 degrees and so avoids the use of rudders, shaft lines and stern thrusters.
Gas turbine technology also reduces exhaust emissions, noise and vibrations, though uses more expensive fuel.
The absence of vibrations allowed 26 cabins, with aft facing balconies, to be built over the stern.
The Millennium sails at 24 knots, a high cruising speed, which enables her to make longer cruises.
Just over 91,000 tons, the Millennium is a big ship. Her design is the consequence of passenger demand for more balcony cabins and the cruise lines desire to maximize passenger capacity.
This new design has a Panamax hull that allows her to pass through the Panama Canal.
It incorporates four full decks of ocean view cabins, all with private balconies, in her narrow superstructure.
On the outside the Millennium is similar to the former Jon Bannenberg designs for Celebrity Cruises.
The outdoor design makes Millennium a cruise ship with an attractive and aesthetically pleasing exterior look thanks
to her curved glass towers amidship, housing the glass elevator port and Celebrity Suites starboard, and the staggered decks and wider bow & stern sections on decks 6 through 9.
There are also two more small glass towers on deck 11 which give the ship some of her exterior appeal.
Both are located aft Cosmos and house the flower shop - port, and a large artwork starboard.
She is a multi funnelled ship. Like earlier Celebrity cruise ships the Millennium has three funnels, painted blue, with yellow and red details, which give her a lot of personality.
Her blue hull makes the ship easily recognisable.
The vast amount of glass used on the Millennium makes her a "transparent" ship, and breaks the uniformity of the balconies.
So, the ship looks smaller, and far from the boxy look of some modern cruise ships.
But I think that the exterior design of the ship, although appealing, has caused vast inconsistencies in cabin amenities and views.
Like on the "8000 class" cruise ships of Carnival - Costa Atlantica and sisters, the superstructure is narrower than the hull, and the lifeboats, located on deck four, aren't located in recessed niches.
So on deck 6 some balcony suites and cabins have obstructed views due to the top of the lifeboats.
The Sky Suites are not all the same size and two of them, located on deck 6 between the Penthouse and Royal Suites, have only one conventional glass door and not the advertised full height double sliding glass doors, leading to a completely exposed balcony with four decks of white steel walls towering above.
The Royal and Penthouse Suites are located on the wider part of the ship, aft deck 6, but their balconies have the disadvantage of being totally exposed to the decks above and have little or no privacy.
Furthermore there were traces of breadcrumbs and other food stuffs, thrown to the birds from the Ocean Grill outdoor eating area on deck 10.
I think that this deluxe accommodation must at least have a covered private balcony but this is difficult to obtain in a slope superstructure, such as the one on the Millennium.
The suites aren't the only areas to be penalized due to the ship's design.
The top category balcony cabins, located on Deck 9, have darker and somewhat dreary interiors being always in the shade of the 15 - foot overhang and the diagonal support beams of the Resort Deck above.
Furthermore the portholes on the wider areas of the buffet, although an interesting concept, unfortunately provide absolutely no privacy to the balcony cabins below.
The Millennium is not any cruise ship. She will be the reference for the cruise industry in the next decade.
When she was delivered, the Millennium introduced many amenities for first time and thanks to her classic decor she will make history.
Carrying only 1,950 passengers on double occupancy, Millennium is one of the roomiest cruise ship afloat, with a passenger/space ratio of 46.6.
This choice shows the option that Celebrity has taken: increasing the size and the number of public rooms, makes the passenger flow better and ensures that the passengers never feel crowded on board.
I think the results are outstanding.
At the same time there are many intimate areas where a few chairs or a sofa can be found.
For a cruise ship of her size, the Millennium has an excellent lay out.
She has no deadend hallways and all three stairs and lift towers go from top to bottom, so it is very easy to find your way around, after a short time on board.
Millennium is a gorgeous ship inside and outside.
The decor, artwork, paneling, and carpeting throughout is quite stunning.
An incredible amount of artwork and flower arrangements can be found everywhere you turn on the ship, and some of it is very unusual like for example the mannequin hanging from the ceiling near the Cosmos Lounge and the sculpted figures on each deck in all three stairways.
The Grand Foyer
Deck 4, Promenade and deck 5, Entertainment represent the heart of the ship for evening and night activity, as far as dining, drinking, shopping, and entertainment are concerned.
Deck 4 has the exterior promenade area, ample and with stairs, but this promenade does not go all around the ship.
The deck 3 contains amidship the lower level of the three deck high atrium, called the Grand Foyer.
It was designed by Wilson Butler Lodge.
It isn't one the hightest atrium afloat, but Celebrity chose the so called │horizontal atrium▓, which obtain the same, or better sense of spaciousness, without vertical effects.
The Grand Foyer is the ship's main entry and the major meeting point.
Here, the passengers find the Guest Relations desk, the bank, the shore excursion area, and a beautiful backlit marble staircase leading up to Deck 4.
The warm glow on this stairs creates a calm ambience.
Port side there is a group of glass panoramic elevators. These provide a constant reference to the sea, and because of this fact the Grand foyer is one of the most frequented place on the ship.
There are four mahogany pillars lined with long ceiling coves. The ceiling has a subtle lighting scheme that changes gradually to blue as the day progresses to evening.
The floor is ocean blue, with marble radial and annular details, which enhance its role as safe harbour.
The four external panoramic elevators are found for the first time on a cruise ship, and have a view to the ocean through an 11-deck elliptical wall.
This arrangement acts as the lighthouse for the Grand Foyer.
The Shore Excursion area is a large space with extra seating, opposite the external elevators.
Aft of this atrium area, on the starboard side, is located the cinema and five sophisticated meeting rooms.
The cinema doubles as the largest multimedia room accommodating up to 300 people.
Celebrity does not run first rate movies at the cinemas because these are available on the cabin television, on payment basis.
Only older and second rate movies are shown at the cinemas, since there isn't much interest to go to the cinema.
On the port side, aft of the atrium, is the Olympic Restaurant.
This is Millennium's speciality restaurant, the first true alternative dining venue on a Celebrity ship, which highlights the cuisine of the three-star Michelin chef Michel Roux.
This room was designed by Birch Coffey Design Associates.
The design stems from the wood paneling and some décor items taken from the original 'a la carte' dining room of the Olympic, a sister ship to the Titanic.
Demetrios Kaparis bought the rare wood at an auction at Sotheby's; it had been in a private residence in England after the Olympic was dismantled for scrap in the mid-1930s.
The Olympic Restaurant aboard the Millennium works under reservation and is open seating.
It has three rooms.
The first is the entrance and it works as a maritime museum with pictures, memorabilia, plans and photos of the Olympic.
The second room contains all the original beige hand painted walnut paneling from the Olympic, with some tables, and is the core of the restaurant.
Adjacent there is a small private wine cellar decorated with a big chandelier from the Olympic's first-class lounge.
The room is used only for wine tasting, there is a small bar, special meals and small parties.
The third room is the larger dining area with the majority of 134 seats, but it is rather plain with white walls and pillars.
Aft this room is located the glass-walled galley, where the diners can watch the preparation of the meals, which are usually finished table side.
In the daytime, The Olympic Restaurant is also used for cooking demonstrations.
The Metropolitan Restaurant
The two seating Metropolitan Restaurant occupies the stern of the vessel on decks 4 and 5 and is an elegant two deck main dining room with an interior grand staircase connecting the two levels, although you can also enter each level on its respective deck.
There is a small stage at the top of the staircase where musicians play during the evening dining hours.
The room features natural light through two deck high glass windows aft, that provide a panoramic view of the ocean, and large portholes on the sides.
There is beautiful lighting and lighting effects: the large back windows are covered by scenic shades on formal nights, and the side windows have both light filtering and scenic shades, that are used to enhance the comfort and ambience of the room.
The room has a 1940s décor and features big columns, etched-glass panels and a 10-meter oval starburst pattern in alabaster to adorn the ceiling.
Behind the Olympic & Conference center is the main kitchen, it's the largest afloat, and galley tours are offered during the cruise.
This restaurant is decorated in bold shades of blue, red and gold, and is extremely comfortable.
The tables are in all sizes and forms with comfortable chairs and the restaurant can accommodate 1,224 passengers...at the same time it is large enough to prevent crowding.
The Celebrity Theater
The Celebrity Theater on Millennium is the first three deck high theater in the Celebrity fleet.
Its architectural design, another WBLI creation, has been changed from the contemporary Broadway design to a classical looking theater, that seems an opera with two of the three levels offering a full circular balcony, built one on top of the other.
The theater takes advantage of its location in the bow occupying full five decks and it extends down to deck 3.
It features a full fly-loft, an orchestra pit and a rotating stage.
A bar is located at the rear where people can drink while watching the show.
The view is excellent from virtually anywhere in this huge theater and the rich interior materials include leather, lacquered wood, hardwood and stone.
Lighting effects are found in this huge room. Many torches with simulated flames are recessed into the wall around the theater.
Other Public Rooms on Deck 4
Between the Celebrity Theater and the Metropolitan Restaurant on deck 4, starting forward is located the photo gallery starboard, with the Michael's Club port.
Celebrity introduced the first cigar room at sea, and now the tradition continues on the Millennium.
This lounge is even bigger and more sumptuous than the earlier Century-class ships, and is also furnished in English Georgian style, with natural cherry panelling, filled with beautiful classical art, a small bar aft, near a French balcony, the first outside window in a Michael's club.
This elegantly decorated area is one of the prettiest room on the ship.
Further on there is the Fortunes Casino, designed by Louis Pereira and Associates.
This room has a true Vegas feel an follows the owners's lush style, with a lot of brass, thick knotted gold cords, gilded picture frames, structural pillars of double columns with elaborate Corinthian capitals and white marble Roman sculptures.
As on other Celebrity cruise ships, there is no way to go around this noisy room.
Next is located the middle level of the Grand Foyer with some sitting areas and an oval room, opposite the glass elevators, containing the Internet Café.
The last room before reaching the Metropolitan Restaurant is the Rendez-Vous Lounge, another Birch Coffey design.
It evolved from previous Celebrity vessels and became more elaborate, larger with 315 seats and is connected, through a small atrium, to the Platinum Club.
The Rendez-Vous Lounge is fitted with a small stage and a wood dance floor below the atrium.
It is very popular before the restaurant opens, and is usually crowded.
This room is also used for many daily activities such as napkin folding demonstrations and the like.
This restaurant is decorated in bold shades of blue, red garnet and raw colours, and the seats are extremely comfortable.
Other public rooms on Deck 5
Starting aft, the first room is the Platinum Club Lounge, which is split into two bars: the Martini Bar on one side and the Champagne & Caviar Bar on the other.
The lounge is decorated in silver with details in deep purple, grey and blues, and has some marvellous etched glass art deco lamps and other fixtures.
An interesting aspect of the Platinum Club is that it is located directly above the Rendez-Vous Lounge and has a large circular opening over the dance floor below, which has a railing larger at the top than at the bottom.
Its round windows add extra nautical flavour.
Thus, music from the Rendez-Vous entertainers drifts up to this lounge as well, and provides added ambience to the room, and this draws attention to the entertainment coming from below.
But I think there are too many mirrors, mainly in the forward section.
Forward there is the upper level of the Grand Foyer - I think it is the best decorated of the three - and, opposite the glass elevators, is the oval shaped Tea Room, which also doubles as the card room.
This area around the Grand Foyer includes the 92 seats "Cova Caffé di Milano", another Celebrity trade mark since it was first opened on the Celebrity Century.
Here too the decoration is splendid: blue tapestry, indirect lighting, buff upholstered sofas, etc.
Forward there is a huge zone called The Emporium, the largest shopping area afloat, 4,267 square meters.
It was designed by the London-based Designteam, and has fifteen stores and boutiques.
Inside The Emporium there is an elegant and sophisticated ambience, plenty of room and in addition to the typical jewelry, watches, fragrance, clothing, and liquor stores, there are also a few 'designer' stores including Donna Karan (DKNY), Versace, Michel Roux Gourmet, etc.. There is an auction area as well.
Words and Notes
Words is a two-storey library with an interior circular staircase that spans decks 8 and 9, and Notes, a similar two-storey room, is the first music library afloat featuring fifteen listening stations.
Notes spans deck 6 and 7, judt below Words, and has a vast collection of 1,500 CDs grouped in genre and period for easy browsing.
Both are adjacent to the glass elevators, on their respective decks, and are little gems, rich in wood paneling and décor and with ample and comfortable seating.
Deck 10, Resort Deck, containes the Ocean Café, Ocean Grill, the main outdoor pool area, and the Aqua Spa complex.
The Ocean Café is located aft, below the funnel, and is the place for morning and lunch buffets, and for evening alternative dining.
It is well designed with four identical serving lines, two each side.
It has two ice cream parlors and two freshly made pasta distributors, one on each side.
The indoor eating areas are quite spacious, because this is the widest deck on the ship.
The floor to ceiling windows give diners an excellent view of the sea.
In the wider areas there are glass portholes in the floor, through which you can see straight down the side of the ship and the sea below.
The most notable seating area is the outdoor aft dining area, the Ocean Grill, featuring a teak deck, teak furniture and a wood panelled bar.
This is a very pleasant place for dining in warm weather.
The Riviera Pool is an attractive pool area, but lacks the luxury and elegance of the Aqua Spa.
With two pools of different depths, four Jacuzzis of two different sizes, a lot of stainless steel showers, metallic furniture with pads, covered stage, a pool bar, a grill, a shop with bath equipment, and two level lounging areas.
This place is relaxing and never crowded and is well sheltered from the wind as well.
The Aqua Spa area forward is the largest spa at sea with an area of 7,620 square metres, designed by the Syntax Group of the UK, and operated by Steiner.
The most notable feature is the glass enclosed pool, raised on a large teak deck, with two Jacuzzis.
Each of the four corners has a different whirlpool.
The furniture is all teak made and there are a lot of plants.
Forward, are located the rest of the spa facilities: 16 treatment rooms, hair salon, Spa cafe' and an ocean view gymnasium with a lot of heath equipment and an aerobic section.
The highest deck, deck 11, features the the jogging track, and has a lot of chairs overlooking the Riviera pool area below.
On this deck, at the very back of the ship, there is the Arcade filled with interactive games, and the children's area called the Ship Mates Fun Factory.
This is a fairly large complex for young children with play and activity areas inside. Plus, there is a small outdoor pool and climbing facilities.
There is only one entrance to this children's area, which has separate daily activities and is supervised by Celebrity staff.
The Cosmos Lounge
High atop the ship, on deck 11 is located the beautiful Cosmos Lounge, with 270║ views through large floor to ceiling windows.
Magnificent views can be seen over the bow, but the side views are obstructed by the wider sections of the Resort deck below.
Cosmos is a multi-purpose lounge that serves in the day time as an observation lounge, and is also frequented for pre-dinner dancing and cocktails, and later it becomes the night club.
This room has an interesting lay out and is very suitable for the above activities.
The main stage is located centrally aft, has a canopy which extends out over the round dance floor, and is decorated in tan and blue.
A second round raised stage, located forward starboard, which shares the same dance floor, has a grand piano for lighter music in the late afternoons.
And then is located the round bar.
The ceiling over each of these areas was designed to emphasise the spaces, and has numerous light fixtures and effects like a circle of lighted rods over the piano, a large skylight over the dance floor, a half world globe over the bar with rows of lights, all of which constantly change colour, and lighted birds.
Cosmos is my favourite room on all Celebrity ships, but the Millennium one has become larger and higher.
Deck 11 also contains the 3 distinctive glass walled turrets that give the ship some of its' exterior appeal.
Two of them are behind Cosmos and the one on the port side houses The Conservatory, a flower shop inspired by the Emilio Robba ateliers in Paris.
It is a two level turret with an interior circular staircase and a lounge area with wicker furniture and a ceiling which has been recreated as a daytime blue sky obscured by the sihouette of a magnolia tree.
In fact there is a florist shop, plenty of silk and real flowers, which fill the space, with six real magnolia trees.
It has personnel who are constantly keeping all the various flower arrangements fresh.
The starboard tower houses a large piece of artwork.
The amidship tower, opposite the glass lifts, houses a "sports" bar called Extreme with large screen televisions. Tones are strong, but also garish, red, yellow, and green, with blue furniture.
And the aft part of the deck houses the children's Fun Factory, fitted with a television studio, a lot of play stations, a ball pit and kiddie pool, all staffed by professionals year round.
Deck 12, the Sports Deck, consists of two separate sections, one aft, behind the funnel that contains the basketball/tennis courts and the golf simulator.
The forward section containes other sunbathing areas, sheltered from the wind by glass walls all around.
Suites and Cabins
The passenger cabins, designed by AMK of Athens, are located on six decks.
The lower grade accommodations are on deck 2 - full length, and 3 - only forward, in the lower part of the hull and don't have balconies.
This lay out is possible because of the vibration free gas turbine machinery.
The other cabins on board are located on a four deck block over the promenade deck, and the vast majority have private balconies, in tune with passenger' rising expectations.
Due to this lay-out, of a total of 975 staterooms, 80% have ocean views and 74% have balconies.
Also, the Millennium was fitted with 26 wheelchair accessible cabins in all categories.
Standard inside and outside cabins are 15.8 square meters with two lower beds and a sitting area with sofa.
The outside cabins, with private balcony, measure from 19.3 to 47.6 square meters.
There are 50 suites on board, which range from 28.6 square feet with veranda and large marble bathroom with bathtub, to a pair of 133 square meters penthouse suites with an additional │L▓ shaped 102 square meter veranda with whirlpool tubs, the largest at sea, designed separately by Birch Coffey.
They were fitted with a piano, 24 hour butler service and two large screen television and a flat screen pc with Internet.
A Fun Zone for kids from 3 to 12 and a teen lounge, video game room and broadcast room make the vessel a good family vacation escape.
All cabins are well laid out, and are spacious, furnished in light, airy colours.
All of them have a sitting area, refrigerator, interactive television, hair dryers, mini bar, and safe.
The bathrooms are larger than usual.
But some suites and cabins have such poor insulation that you can hear even low toned conversations in adjacent cabins, as well as every opening and closing of drawers, etc.
The décor throughout the ship is rich and sophisticated, with classic ornamentation and more than 500 pieces of contemporary art.
Celebrity chooses emphasizing quality and content over capacity, as so the Millennium is a roomier ship, with a passenger/space ratio of 46.6 and a passenger/crew ratio of 2. Both are some of the highest numbers in the cruise industry.
As a consequence, Millennium and her sister ships have exceeded passenger expectations and are the reference for ships coming in the next decade, such as the new 8,000 series of Holland America.
For further information: Celebrity Cruises