Well, we are onboard Celebrity Cruise Line’s Millennium and it is just as sad as I was afraid it would be. And I am just as mad as I was afraid I would be. Let me explain.
We have been sailing on Celebrity since 2004 when we did our first Panama Canal crossing. This will be (I would have to check to be sure) our 22nd Celebrity Cruise. And on any of their ships other than Flora in Galapagos, we are done with them. And today’s first few hours on the ship explain exactly why we are done with them.
Example #1–I can’t see forward
About 10 minutes ago (it’s 3:25 on May 3) I left our stateroom to go up on deck and take some photos of the San Diego skyline. Having been on this particular class of ship before (like 11 times) I knew (or at least I thought I knew) where everything is. But this ship is one of four in her class and she has been “Edgesized,” That means that they took the ship into dry dock and made a bunch of changes. Many people have raved about those changes. Having sailed on her sister ships and now having been aboard for a whole 5 hours, I can say that while the surface stuff is nice (better linens, better beds, etc.) the big stuff sucks.
I went up to the top deck to take photos. On this class of ships I have taken photos from the top deck of so many places. Our Panama Canal crossings (twice), Vancouver, BC, Alaskan glaciers and so much more. But now when I tried going to the front of the ship to take in the San Diego skyline, no luck. Every deck forward of a certain point at the front of the ship says, “Stop, Retreat Guests Only.” Which basically means rich people only. And the other place that we photo nuts knew about was in front of the gym. You could walk out on a large deck from the front side of the gym. Well, that is gone now as well. They closed it in to add more exercise machines. To me, that’s just saying to anyone besides the suite guests, “Ha Ha Ha, you should have bought a suite.”
I have no problem with anyone spending their money to get a suite or a larger stateroom. We ourselves like to sail in X’s Aqua class which gets us dinner in a different dining room with s0-called healthier food and a little nicer ambiance. And there are a lot of others things I don’t mind them doing to give those who spend more a little more. But when they cut off everyone but those rich folks from any place that they can go to the front of the ship to see the view or take a photo, they have gone too damn far.
Example #2–Don’t give me CRAP for “free”
One of the new “innovations” on Celebrity is the Always Included program. Now some things you would normally pay extra for are…Always Included. Things like a Classic Beverage package, included gratuities and free WiFi. Well, Celebrity—why bother giving me free WiFi when it is so horrid that I either can’t use it or if I really need to be able to get online, I will be forced to go and buy your faster package. The illustration shows what I got when I launched a speed test website today. Our download speed is 0.4 MPS (megabytes per second). At home, we get almost 250 MPS. So this isn’t just 4 MPS or .4 MPS, It’s .04 MPS. That means for a single web page to download and just show what’s on it it can often take more than 15 minutes just to bring my e-mails down. And there are fairly simple web pages that won’t download anything other than text. They call this “Basic” internet service and it’s what you get for free.
I am going to guess what you are thinking, “Hey Jim, it’s free. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that in the past you could buy these items for (most of the time) less than what they increased the cruise fare by, to pay for them. And when you did buy them, you got a lot faster internet speeds than this. It’s just sad. And yes, I could go and upgrade my web speed and I have no problem doing that but don’t tell me I get internet service and then make it so bad that if I need to use it, it is worthless. Lastly, some of you are going to ask why I need internet on this trip—we are on vacation. Yes, we are, but we are also closing an escrow on a bridge loan to buy a new house when we get back and that means we need to be able to Docusign a bunch of stuff and doing it with this slow speed is a pain in the proverbial donkey. I also need to be able to get e-mail from my travel clients. Just this afternoon I had to cancel a cruise for two clients who came down with COVID.
Example #3–I am not a fan of beige.
Some cruise ships are downright gaudy. Circus-like almost. Celebrity never looked like that. They were nice, muted colors. Shades of blues, golds and other subtle colors. Well when they redid Millennium to “Edgeisize” her they just decided that they wanted the opposite of gaudy, they wanted blah.
I am sitting in a stateroom typing this where every single surface and linen are some shade of beige. The ship’s interior furnishings with a few notable exceptions were converted to beige. This is now the most blah ship I have ever been on and if they are going to do this to all the Celebrity ships, I am glad we won’t be back on any of their standard ships (we still plan on going to the Galapagos one more time on the amazing Flora).
OK, enough griping. Let me check in tomorrow about our day in Santa Barbara today.