Time for the cruise vacation to start

After the The Amazing Race we did get to Venice, albeit quite a bit later than we had planned on arriving. With that, we were also tired from the extended travel and decided that we’d take it easy for this first late afternoon & evening in Venice rather than head out for some touring.

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  • Thursday July 13, 2006

    Settling in on Celebrity Millennium

    Deck 9, or Sky Deck, on Millennium was where our room (or Stateroom in ship lingo) was located. Our first elevator ride took us to Deck 9 midship, and from there we found our room, slightly forward of midship on the starboard side. We could see our room easily when we entered the hallway on the starboard side - our luggage was outside the door.

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      One minor glitch here, neither of the “Sea Pass” cards (the combination identification, key & payment card assigned to us at check-in) would open our room door. Gary went to the Guest Relations Desk on Deck 3 to sort it out while Linda stayed outside the room. While waiting there Linda met Stela, our room attendant, who was able to let her into the room. It took a few goes of reassigned cards to get to the understanding that there was something wrong with the card reader on the door. A technician was dispatched and the door fixed.

      First impressions of our room were good. Our room was a decent size with a double bed, love seat, desk and chair. There was plenty of storage space. A glass sliding door led to a balcony with two comfortable chairs and a table.

      As part of the Concierge Class, there was a bottle of champagne on ice plus some fresh fruit waiting for us on arrival. There was an additional bottle of champagne in the room as a bon voyage gift from the travel agency that we had used - CruiseShipCenters. At about 5:00pm Stela appeared with some canapés, a daily treat that we were to receive. We relaxed and enjoyed the canapés, fruit and champagne rather than venture into Venice (which had been our original plan) - it had been a long trip to this point. We took it easy, cleaned up and got dressed for dinner.

      For the cruise we had our preference of the second seating for dinner in the Metropolitan Restaurant, but for the first night it was open seating with a casual dress code. We sat with Anne and Dave, a very nice couple from Bath, England. It was an enjoyable dinner and our first experience with the main dining room’s 5-course dinner menu. We knew we were going to be very much enjoying the food on this vacation - elegant French cuisine with class and great taste.

      We took a walking tour around the ship after dinner and then headed back to our room for the night. Tomorrow would start early - Venice was waiting.

  • Friday July 14, 2006

    Touring Venice before setting sail

    Today was our first full day on the cruise. It began bright and early with a trip up one flight of stairs to Deck 10, the Resort Deck, for breakfast at the Ocean Cafe located aft on Millennium. Ocean Cafe was the location of casual eating onboard the ship. For breakfast there were many choices in a cafeteria style setup. There were many servers stationed to assist in carrying trays to one of the tables. The food was good, but the coffee wasn’t. Dark brown water - yuk. This would become our single biggest complaint onboard the ship - the lack of a good strong cup of regular coffee.

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      We had booked a shore excursion into Venice and we were required to be at the Celebrity Theater on Deck 4 forward by 8:20am. This was our first shore excursion on our first cruise, so we needed to learn how it all worked. It was all quite neatly done: the cruise staff arranging people into smaller groups - designated by small circular stickers with numbers on them. If you look at our pictures you will see some of them on our clothing. Our group was called around 8:30am and were led to the gangway at Deck 1 midship. Our SeaPass cards were read in a machine on exit of the ship, so they would know if you were on or off the ship. From the ship we went to a small boat that took us to the pier near the monument to Vittorio Emanuel.

      It was beautiful travelling the water surrounded by attractive old buildings under ideal weather conditions. After docking we walked along the edge of the Canale Di San Marco, looking at the buildings and bridges. Our tour led us to the Palazzo Ducale, or Doges Palace, which we spent a fair bit of time touring inside. The art and architecture in the palace was impressive. Particularly impressive was the Sala del Maggior Consiglio, a huge hall used as a meeting place for members of Venice’s Great Council in the 14th and 15th centuries. Also beautiful was the inner courtyard with its Giant’s staircase complete with huge statues of Mars and Neptune meant as symbols of Venice’s power. We exited the palace via a stone bridge called Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) to a prison called La Torre Grimaldina (Grimaldina Tower). Not a place to “visit” in operation, we thought. From there we went to Basilica San Marco. Construction of the Basilica began in the 11th century, even though it took centuries to complete. The formal tour ended with a demonstration at a Murano glass factory just off Piazza San Marco. We did not return to the ship with the tour, but rather spent time alone wandering around Venice. It is a beautiful city, one we both would like to visit again.

      We returned to the ship via a Celebrity shuttle boat that was docked close to Monumento San Marco. Waiting to clear the security pre-screen on the dock outside our ship we were given rolled hand towels that had been stored in shaved ice in a cooler - wow, they were so refreshing after a hot day in the sun. With those towels, we never really minded standing in any line! At 4:30pm the ship’s crew conducted an “Emergency and Lifeboat Drill” - our responsibility was to put on our life jackets (couldn’t just take them - had to be wearing them) and report to our “Muster Station”. In our case the Muster Station was listed on the back of our stateroom door as Michael’s Club on Deck 4 forward. When we arrived there we were actually assembled across from Michael’s in the Photo Gallery area. Announcements were made as to what to do - for both staff and passengers. At the appointed time we were led outside to stand in a specific area of the deck - under what would be our lifeboat. The whole exercise took about 20 minutes.

      The ship set sail from Venice at 5:00pm, and we went up to the Sunrise Deck (Deck 11) to watch. The ship travelled along the Canale Della Giudecca as it departed Venice, giving us the most amazing view of the city off the port side of the ship. We had great plans to go to the 7:30pm pre-dinner show at the Celebrity Theater but we just never moved fast enough to make it. Cold fresh water, canapés, fruit and getting ready for dinner seemed to be as much as we could manage. Actually, one more thing before dinner - a visit to Cova Cafe Milano on Deck 4 midship. There we purchased cappuccinos, and it became a place we would frequent - alternating between cappuccinos and espressos. The late seating for dinner was at 9:00pm and the dress code was informal. We entered the Metropolitan Restaurant from Deck 4 (it spans Decks 4 and 5 aft) where we were led to our table. It was a fabulous surprise to have a table for two! The meal was wonderful. This was our dinner table for the remainder of the cruise, with our waiter Mahayasha, assistant waiter Marlon, sommelier Sebastian and bar server Romina. All were excellent and quickly learned our preferences. After dinner we went to the internet cafe to send some emails back to Canada. The internet cafe provided some sport back home for those trying to find us on the webcam!

Venice Image Gallery

Celebrity Millennium docked in Venice
Entrance to The Grand Canal in Venice
Looking towards Palazzo Ducale & the Campanile at Piazza San Marco
The top of Scala dei Giganti (Giant's Stairway) surrounded by Mars & Neptune at Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)
Gondoliers in Venice
Canals & bridges everywhere
Busy spot for Gondolas on the Grand Canal
Heading to Piazza San Marco
View of Venice as Celebrity Millennium set sail
View of Venice as Celebrity Millennium set sail
View of Venice as Celebrity Millennium set sail
View towards Piazza San Marco as Celebrity Millennium set sail
About WHITEonline

WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.

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