"CELEBRITY" CRUISE LINER "MILLENIUM".
We boarded the ship on the Monday evening, in Venice, but it still stayed in port until the following day, departing at 5pm.
It is no small matter embarking 2000 passengers on a 90,000+ ton ship, in these days of security concerns in particular. We experienced difficulties immediately as my ID pass was missing and Ernie's suitcase showed something 'fishy' (a pair of sharp, long scissors which he had completely forgotten about) when checked by the screeners, so firstly we were kept waiting while we got a security clearance, then later, he was called back to the embarkation deck. The Hebrew-speaking security personnel (who else has such a good record for security management as the Israelis), insisted in my thorough identification before letting me on board and then unpacking everything in Ernie's suitcase until the suspicious item was found,- much to Ernie's embarrassment. My small suitcase lost its tag and was eventually returned to me late at night,- while many passengers complained of lost luggage from all over the world, at airports and in transit! I would imagine that it's a logistical nightmare for the crews of the hundreds of cruise-liners roaming the seas these days!
Departing Venice at sunset, cruising slowly along the Grand Canal, in front of Piazza St. Marco, was just beautiful. For the next week we were able to go back to a more normal routine of eating what we liked whenever we liked , exercising in the gym or walking the track on deck, dining in style or casually, breakfasting in bed or at the buffet or preferably, at the health-bar around the air-conditioned ,glass-enclosed second whirl-pool & spas deck area,- our favourite spot. And the nightly entertainment,- well, that again is one of the best parts of cruising, particularly it seems on the Celebrity liners.
The weather became very warm to hot and the seas beautifully calm and smooth-sailing for us all along the Adriatic to Dubrovnik once again, as our first port-of-call. Tours are organized at every stop for those who want them, often booked well in advance from home. But we had visited all the ports before, so we were able to disembark at leisure if at all, walk-about wherever we wanted to and return at our convenience. Ernie often preferred to stay on board and spend the time at the gym or reading around the pool.
Santorini, the picturesque Greek island was our next stop after a day at sea. This was magical,- the island itself is beautiful, the shops are lovely ( a shopping channel on TV and a shopping-guru advises everyone what to buy where in every port, with the admonition:" if you see it and like it,- buy it,- or you'll be sorry later!") Our ship stayed in Santorini Bay area until
11 pm. so that we could see the famous "Santorini sunset" which was really spectacular! They organised a Greek-theme buffet around the pool for that evening, which we chose to attend instead of the dining-room,- complete with lamb-on-the-spit and musicians from the island entertaining us. It was a magical night!
(Being Friday evening, we attended the Shabbat service first, which they provided on board this American Liner, complete with wine and Challa and a couple of youngsters expertly took over reading the service from the photocopied pages which were distributed to the 2 dozen or so of us there!)
After Piraeus/ATHENS, we had another day at sea and our next stop was NAPLES. The beautiful weather and calm seas made it very pleasurable to be on board. The lecturers on various topics, individual entertainers, the Broadway-style extravaganzas on a couple of nights and the various bands and musicians wherever we turned, made this a very enjoyable holiday for all generations,- each group finding their own level of entertainment and company. Families, the disabled of all ages,- all could enjoy some aspect of this holiday and this is why cruising has become the number one form of holiday travel these days.
Naples offered the prospect of visiting Pompeii, the island of Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, or all of these in one tour costing some $350US pp. We picked up the local ferry to Sorrento, then by taxi for a drive around the coast to Positano where we lunched, walked down the steep hillside to the beach and picked up the ferry back to Sorrento and then again to Naples,- all at minimal cost.
Next day it was farewell-time for us to our fellow passengers and the ship, in Civitavecchia/ROMA, as we were transferred to the airport to pick up our BA-flight to Shanghai via London. (Again, this was an unnecessary expense to have arranged and paid from home,- at least half the cost to do it on the spot, with absolutely no trouble at all!)
We hope that our friendly dinner-table companions, the Greens and Goldenbergs from the USA and the Woodcocks from the UK, continued to enjoy the 4 days of the rest of the cruise and the other ports which we missed, all the way to Barcelona.