Which ship/cruise to book? Grand Princess or Millennium for Mediterranean in August 2005? Only previous cruise was Disney. This is first adult cruise without kids. First Europe trip. Pros and cons of Grand Princess Med v. Celebrity Millennium Med anyone?
From what I have read on the boards, you cannot go wrong with either ship you choose. My wife & I have the Grand booked for May 26, 2005, from Barcelona to Venice and we can't wait!
There were two main reasons why we chose the Grand over the Millennium: First, we wanted a cruise that started in one city and ended in another, which the Grand does. This way we will stay a couple day's pre-cruise in Barcelona and have four day's post cruise planned in Venice (with Princess allowing a one overnight stay in Venice aboard the ship!). With a round trip type cruise, I feel that the ship is having to "back track" which will either limit the number of ports you will stop at,and/or, shorten your distance of sailing to the more distant Countries. Second reason we chose the Grand was because Princess was one of the few ships still visiting the Country of Turkey, with stop's in Istanbul and Kusadasi (for Ephesus). We hated to travel all this way to the Med and miss out on these two major historical and biblical places.
I also feel that the Grand gives a more broad feel of the Med with it's Grand Mediterranean itinerary. You get to travel and explore from the far Western point of Spain to the far eastern point of Turkey, with a good dose of Italy in between to top it all off!
I've cruised both Princess and Celebrity in Europe...and my choice, hands down, is the Millennium...largely because of the cruise line itself--I find Celebrity to be superior in just about every way imaginable in terms of food, service, entertainment, etc....secondly, for the ship...The Millennium is just far superior in terms of passenger-to-gross tonnage ratio and passenger -to-crew ratio...
Let's also take a look at the all important itinerary:
Wed barcelona, spain -- 7:00 PM
Thu villefranche (nice), france 10:00 AM 11:00 PM
Fri livorno(florence/pisa),italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
Sat civitavecchia (rome), italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
Sun naples, italy 7:00 AM 7:00 PM
Mon at sea -- --
Tue mykonos, greece 1:00 PM 11:59 PM
Wed santorini, greece 7:00 AM 11:15 PM
Thu piraeus (athens), greece 7:00 AM 11:00 PM
Fri at sea -- --
Sat dubrovnik, croatia 7:00 AM 5:00 PM
Sun venice, italy 12:00 PM --
Mon venice, italy --
Both itineraries are virtually the same in terms of Barcelona, Livorno, Rome, Naples and Venice...
Here are the trade-offs on the other ports:
Both ships visit Mykonos and Athens...But, Princess gives you only the morning in Mykonos while Celebrity gives you the afternoon (prime beach time) and the evening until midnight--so you can explore the nightlife on the island...
In Athens, Princess gives you a full day...until 5:45...but Celebrity again gives you the chance to go out and enjoy the nightlife...
In the south of France, Princess gives you a day in Marseilles (which is a big, dirty port city...but allows you to do excursions in Provence) returning to the ship before 6... while Celebrity puts you on the Riviera in Villefranche--right next to Nice and Cannes and a short ride into Monte Carlo--and allows you until 11:00 at night...
The major itinerary differences are with Istanbul and Kusadasi on Princess versus Santorini and Dubrovnik on Celebrity...On Princess, you get an 8-6 day in Istanbul and an afternoon in Kusadasi...With Celebrity, you get a full day in Dubrovnik and a day and night--until 11:15 in Santorini...
As far as those ports go, it is personal preference whether you'd prefer Istanbul and Kusadasi or Santorini and Dubrovnik--all four have their charms, historical and archaeological wonders and other benefits...
But, clearly, Celebrity gives you more time in port...
All in all though, one thing is true...You can't go wrong either way...and BOTH of these itineraries give you the opportunity to do distinct pre- and post-cruise stays in Venice and Barcelona--neither opportunity of which is to be missed..
I have cruised on both of these ships. Contrary to what Bruinsteve says, not only me and the wife but every other person in our party which was eight, agreed that the Grand had the Milli beat hands down. (we all were on both cruises with the same party) Perhaps you will not spend all that much time on board, but the Grand, at least when we took it, out did the Milli in all catagories, food, entertainment, staff was equally great, the ship itself had more to offer such as more night clubs and theaters, dining options better on Princess, and you actually get to eat and drink ice tea on board any time you want on Princess. There were times when we got back from a port tour and could not get any food on the Milli and at lunch time they closed the ice tea service down. Princess has something 24 hours a day. As far as ships decor we also thought Princess was much better. Fresh flowers around and the ships appearance just nicer. We have been on Princess for three cruises(all excellent). Celebrity only the one but don't think I would go back unless it was a great deal. We also prefere RCI to Celebrity(Radiance class ships are gorgeous).
Perhaps we should give them another try but we have been too happy with Princess and RCI so we go back and forth with them.
Now if the itinerary is better for you on one than the other than you have to go with that. You will have a great cruise no matter which you choose. Believe me we had a great time on the Milli but its what you make of it while your there.
PS....after a Disney cruise ANY cruise line will seem like heaven. Good Luck, and just cruise!!!!
I'll leave the battle of the ships in the hands of others , however, August is one of the worst months to choose for a Mediterranean cruise that calls in Italy. It's their holiday MONTH - the cities virtually shut down as you approach the major holiday on August 15th (called Ferragosto), and the resort areas/beaches become packed like sardines. It is a pity to visit Italy - that has so much to offer - when many places are closed.
Furthermore, the temperature in the Mediterranean is very hot in August. If intense heat doesn't bother you, then there's no problem. However, if you ARE bothered by heat and blazing sun, you may wish to re-think your plans, if possible.
The ideal time to cruise the Med is either in Springtime or Fall. Yes, there are plenty of cruises during mid-summer, but do be aware of the drawbacks.