Celebrity Cruises is like an old friend.

I’ve probably logged nearly four months of sea days on their ships.  Considering that there is a definite similarity of theme across the entire fleet, if you’ve cruised Celebrity once, you’ll feel right at home again and again.

Celebrity Cruises traditional welcome aboard champagne
Celebrity Cruises traditional welcome aboard champagne

As soon as I stepped off of the metal gangway and onto the eleven year old wooden deck of the Celebrity Millennium, I was instantly reminded that I was aboard a Celebrity ship. The Welcome Aboard Crew, in their burgundy and black Welcome Aboard attire, extended their white-gloved hands to offer a Welcome Aboard glass of champagne.

The difference today though was that you were given the champagne flute as soon as your feet touched the deck…outdoors.  This signature welcome aboard usually happened as you entered the ship’s lobby…in the foyer.  Maybe it’s a crowd control innovation.

Celebrity Cruises Millennium inside cabin
Celebrity Cruises Millennium inside cabin #7044

I easily found my cabin. I’ve been on the 7th floor on these ships many times. So after only two wrong turns… I was there. Cinchy.  Cabin 7044; an inside cabin designed sideways, which makes it seem a little less cookie-cutter and tiny.

At precisely 3:45pm, with seven short and one long blast of the ship’s horn, everyone orderly proceeded to their designated muster station…without their life jackets.

I have to remark about the traditional muster drill.  If you’ve ever cruised from a port in Florida then you probably have distinct memories of sweating bullets while standing at attention on deck, crammed into small groups like canned sardines, all the while strapped into suffocating neon orange life jackets.  There you’d stand for at least 20 minutes while your “assigned crew member” demonstrated how to put on the life jacket that you were already wearing.  Not to mention hearing these instructions sometimes in five languages.  Times have changed.

Today, the life boat drill would be different.

For the guests in my section of the ship, our life boat station was the Celebrity theatre.  No sooner had I entered the theatre and was seated in a cushioned chair, a voice came over the PA system to deliver a three minute spiel about what to do in the event of an emergency.  No demonstration from the onstage crew on how to fasten the waist-strap or how to blow the attached whistle. Just a short narration and the voice announced, “the lifeboat drill is now concluded.” Applause and laughter filled the crowded room.  Passengers quickly filed out and went on to begin their holiday.  No more worrying about dangling and dragging straps to trip over while slowly heading back to your cabin.  I would like to think that this new trend will be embraced by all the cruise lines very soon.

MIami skyline as seen from Celebrity Millennium
MIami skyline as seen from Celebrity Millennium

Before I knew it, Miami was a distance speck on the horizon, a spectacular sunset turned to dusk and it was nearly time for dinner. Rather than choose either a main (6PM) or late (8:30PM) dining assignment, I elected to have the Celebrity Cruises version of Norwegian Cruise Line’s trendsetting Freestyle dining option, Select Dining. My spontaneous dining time of 7:15 was wonderful as I was immediately seated at a quiet table for one.

Not to bore you to tears with a lengthy “What I ate on my Vacation” memoir, here’s the Cliff Notes version.  On the first night out, a simple meal is always a good idea for me; begin slow and pace myself for the rest of the cruise.

For starters I chose roasted beets with feta cheese and endive followed by Celebrity’s signature Forest Mushroom Cappuccino Soup with Porcini Mushroom Dust.  Grilled plain Atlantic salmon with steamed vegetables and a baked potato completed my dinner. While it might sound like a hefty meal, portions have thankfully gotten smaller.

Celebrity Theater aboard the Celebrity Millennium
Celebrity Theater aboard the Celebrity Millennium

Tonight’s show in the Celebrity Theater is a mélange of the shows for the upcoming week.  I decided to check it out, if only to hear the Celebrity Orchestra.  In an age of lip-syncing and pre-recorded background music, Celebrity is one of the few mid-range cruise lines to have musicians accompany the singers and dancers throughout the performances.  The high-energy show Welcome Aboard show ended in about forty-five minutes and several hundred tired and weary passengers headed back to their staterooms for some much needed sleep.  To me, it doesn’t matter what type of vacation you are embarking on; the first day is always emotionally and physically tiring.

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