They’re two of the most lauded classes of ships to ever debut for Celebrity Cruises: The Millennium Class and the Solstice Class. Both are equally trendsetting, offering up some of the best features at sea and many that had never been seen before their debuts.
Both classes of ships sail Celebrity’s itineraries around the world, and both offer the line’s signature blend of class, culinary excellence and affordable luxury.
As the Millennium class turns 16 and the Solstice class turns eight, let’s take a look at these great vessels:
|MILLENNIUM CLASS||SOLSTICE CLASS|
|Ships in Class||Celebrity Millennium|
|Smallest Stateroom||Inside Staterooms: 174 square feet||Inside Staterooms: 174 square feet|
|Largest Stateroom/Suite||Penthouse Suite Category PS: 1,432 square feet with a 1,098 square foot balcony.||Celebrity Reflection: Reflection Suite Category RF - 1,636 square feet with 193 square foot veranda.|
Rest of Class: Penthouse Suite Category PS - 1,291 square feet with a 389 square foot balcony.
|Destinations 2017-2018||Mediterranean |
Pacific Northwest & Coastals
Canada & New England
Australia & New Zealand
Hawaii & South Pacific
When the Millennium Class debuted 16 years ago, it boasted some of the most innovative, beautiful and downright stunning ships afloat. Okay, so the original LEGO-esque paint scheme was a problem, but Celebrity quickly covered that up at each vessel’s first drydock, replacing it instead with the current black-and-navy-on-white theme that is present on the ship’s exteriors today.
Celebrity took what it had learned with Celebrity Century and her two sisters, Mercury and Galaxy, and applied it to these four new ships. When they emerged, they quickly outpaced their younger siblings and ushered in a new era for Celebrity Cruises.
They’ve also been test ships in a way for the fleet. Celebrity’s brief Cirque du Soleil flirtation made its way on to most Millennium Class ships, with somewhat mixed results. We remember sailing aboard Celebrity Summit in 2010, long after Cirque had exited stage right, and looking up at the odd honeycomb patchwork of cloth dividers that were left behind in the forward observation lounge and wondering when it would be removed.
Fortunately, the last six years have seen Celebrity pump more money than ever into maintaining these beautiful ships, which have had an astonishing amount of work done in their short lifetimes. New staterooms have been added; suites with no balconies have been given them; dining venues have been improved and upgraded; deck space has been modernized; and features have been added and swapped out as the times demanded.
Just this past year, Celebrity sent Celebrity Millennium into drydock in Victoria, British Columbia for her largest-ever refit; one that touched nearly every space onboard the ship.
“We are beyond thrilled that Celebrity Millennium will soon be even more stunning than ever before as a result of the $8 million that we’re investing in this drydock,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president & CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “We have added new elements and experiences that will help open up the world for modern luxury travelers, from our gorgeously updated Suite Class staterooms onboard to the amazingly delicious Tuscan Grille menu, and, of course, the new Rooftop Terrace.”
However, the refit wasn’t without controversy. Many past guests were disappointed that the line elected to remove the Olympic Restaurant, which featured panelling and artifacts from the RMS Olympic, sister-ship to the RMS Titanic. The artifacts have been kept and are on display throughout the ship, but the Millennium Class was originally united by the fact that each ship had a formal specialty restaurant themed after a classic ocean liner. Now, the future of those venues is very much in doubt.
In its place, Celebrity has rolled out the Tuscan Grille, the line’s popular, Italian-inspired steakhouse that debuted on its Solstice Class ships. In addition to the completely revised décor, Tuscan Grille will offer up fresh pasta made in-house; an Italian cocktail menu, a first for Tuscan Grille; a wine list focused on the wine-growing regions of Italy; and new foods like artisanal salami and cheeses; crispy crab arancini with lemon pepper aioli; grilled branzino with spinach and olive oil; swordfish with Castelvetrano olives, fennel and white wine; and oven-roasted USDA Prime dry-aged steak.
The refit also saw the removal of the themed décor in the casino (remember those Romanesque statues? They’re gone now.)
Following her refit, Celebrity Millennium looks and feels more like a Solstice Class ship than ever before – and that’s a good thing for the line’s guests, who want to be assured of the same quality cruise experience across the fleet.
Celebrity Summit also went into drydock this year for a similarly-themed refit. Refits for Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Constellation have yet to be announced.
Natural light and ocean views have always played a substantial role in the design of Celebrity’s trendsetting ships. This is most evident in the Solstice Class, which use banks of oversized windows at nearly every turn. Few are the public rooms that lack any sort of open viewpoint to the ocean, and those that do – like the striking Library – are opened up to the ship’s sweeping, multi-story atrium.
These ships are winners; there’s no other way to describe it. Few guests sail aboard them and come away disappointed. In fact, most gush openly about how much they’ve enjoyed their experience onboard. These were the ships that broke the mould, setting sail with real grass lawns on their upper decks, offered up classes in glass-blowing, had massive spas and increased open deck space, and offered up an almost-unheard of number of culinary features, like healthy choice dishes, fresh gelato, authentic Italian and French cuisine, paired with classic American favorites.
Avid Cruiser’s own Ralph Grizzle was onboard Celebrity Solstice several years ago, and offers up this great look at what makes these ships so special:
You might be inclined to think that, because the Millennium-class ships are smaller and carry fewer passengers, that they have more personal space. In the cruise industry, this is known as a Passenger-Space ratio and the general rule is that the higher the number, the more spacious the ship.
When Celebrity designed its Solstice Class, the company paid special attention to ensuring it maintained the same high passenger-space ratio found aboard its existing vessels. Despite the fact that the Solstice class ships are larger and carry more guests, the overall passenger-space ratio is nearly identical to that of the smaller Millennium Class. That means that Celebrity Solstice will feel every bit as spacious and uncrowded as Celebrity Millennium.
However, we have to tip our hat to the Solstice Class here, too. While the Millennium Class ships are beautifully designed, there are some odd choke points (notably on the lower Deck 4 level of the main restaurant) that have been smoothed out on the Solstice ships, which feel more free-flowing and less disjointed overall.
Because Celebrity was so mindful when designing the Solstice Class, you’ll find standard interior, oceanview and even veranda staterooms are pretty much the same as the counterparts aboard the Millennium Class. The one exception here – and the one area where the Millennium Class trumps the Solstice Class soundly – are the ships suites.
While the Solstice Class has some beautiful, spacious suites (the Reflection Suite aboard Celebrity Reflection tops out at 1,636 square feet and is situated in a commanding location overlooking the bow), it’s the Millennium Class’ two Penthouse Suites on Deck 6 aft that really turn heads.
These two suites – which overlook the ship’s wake – offer up 1,432 square feet apiece, complete with a separate bedroom, marble-clad bathroom with whirlpool soaker tub, a living room, dining room, entry vestibule, and even a grand piano.
What really makes these suites amazing, however, is their private balconies, which span an amazing 1,098 square feet and wrap clean around the side of the ship in an “L”-shape. These balconies are so big that they include a separate seating area, a bar, four sun loungers, and an outdoor whirlpool tub.
If you like your suites on the lavish side of things, it’s hard to beat one of these for sheer size and personal space.
A year ago, we would have given our vote to the Solstice Class without hesitation. But the new enhancements that Celebrity has made this year to Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Summit is making the Millennium Class ships more attractive – and relevant than ever before. We’d still give the edge to the Solstice Class, but the Millennium Class offers more than ever to love about it.
Instead of choosing between the classes of ships first, we’d encourage you to pick your ship by your destination, and then choose the ship that fits your needs best. This is particularly true of destinations like Alaska, which offer both Millennium and Solstice Class alternatives. On other runs – South America, for instance – you may not have a choice.
Either way, it’s unlikely you’ll come away disappointed with any of these thoughtfully designed ships.