World Trip HomePost Seven

Post Seven - First Impressions

Lobby AtriumLobby Atrium

Many of life's first-time experiences are pretty forgettable, maybe most of them, in fact. That's why you have to wrack your brain to think of a memorable one, right? But I think each of us can name a "first" or two that was the best it could be. You can never replicate the sense of discovery and element of surprise that make those experiences unique.

This cruise felt like that. Neither Scott or I knew what to expect; we certainly didn't foresee the luxury we lived in for two weeks. I may never do something like this again, but I'm sure glad I took the time to try it once.

The trip started here. We walked up the gangway into the lobby, on the ground floor of the ship's three-story atrium. Warm cherry wood shone in the diffuse afternoon light. A backlit marble staircase climbed to the atrium's second floor. Classical piano music tinkled softly from above. We crossed the lobby, stepped into a glass elevator, and glided up the side of the ship.

Now That's a ShipNow That's a Ship

A few statistics:

First launch: June 2001
Tonnage: 91,000
Length: 965 feet
Max Speed: 24 knots
Registry: Liberia
Nationality of officers: Greek
Nationality of staff: More than 50 nations
Passenger Capacity: 1,950
Crew size: 991

Cabin in the Evening LightCabin in the Evening Light

Looks inviting, eh? We spent lots of afternoons in our cabin reading, working on the computer, sipping tea, and just watching the sea go by. The time changes also took their toll (we moved our clocks forward six times in all).

The bed sheets were soft, the towels thick. Our bath linens were changed twice a day, and we always had fresh robes. Every night after dinner, the bed was turned down and we got chocolates on our pillows.

My name is Semyan, Scott SemyanMy name is Semyan, Scott Semyan

That's my dinner date, on our veranda. He scaled the side of the ship from Octopussy's Zodiac just to meet me.

It was nice to have a door to open for fresh air. Plus, we were directly over the lifeboats. We could jump the railing right into one if the ship went down.

We were halfway up the ship on deck 6 (there are 12 decks total) near the center. If you ever go on a cruise, try to get a room in the center of the ship, halfway up. We felt relatively little movement. The room was spacious, with room for queen bed, desk, small couch, and table. We also had a small bathroom, closet, safe, television, and a minibar that we never could figure out how to open (probably a good thing).

Meeting Cher In the HallwayMeeting Cher In the Hallway

One night in the lounge, a drag queen performed a dead-on Cher impersonation, belting out "Believe" with her husky voice, licking her lips, and flipping her dark, curly mane as if channeling the diva. I found out later that Cher wasn't even a hired performer, just a passenger roped in by the staff.

For days, I kept my eyes peeled for the "he" side of Cher. I scouted the ship for a younger men with dark curls, prominent noses, generous mouths, skinny butts, and long legs. Nothing.

Then one day, I stepped out into the hallway just as an attractive, short-haired blond man was walking by in a fashionably baggy gym suit. A shipwide announcement describing the midnight buffet was just ending. He smiled at me wistfully and said in a husky, slightly drawling voice, "It's too bad this cruise is almost over. I just want to keep on eatin'!"

That voice. I tried not to stare as he passed by. The nose, the eyes, the skinny butt. Finally, I had found Cher.

The Music Library With No HeadphonesThe Music Library

Notes (the music library's slightly cheesy name) was just a few steps from our cabin. It was a nice idea, to have a place to relax and listen to music. I'm sure at some point in the future they'll automate all this and make it available in the cabins. In the meantime, we still had "genre" radio stations in the cabins. The ship's library ("Words") was pretty cool but after the first day most of the books were checked out. Perhaps they could stop by a Half-Price bookstore next time they are in Seattle and really stock up.

You Can Never Be Free of Chihuly. Escape is Futile!You Can Never Be Free of Chihuly. Escape is Futile!

Over the last five years, I've watched PBS specials where Chihuly suspends twisted glass chilies over canals in Venice, floats delicate glass fronds down the waterways of Norway, and precipitously arranges more of the same in front of temples in Jerusalem. In Las Vegas, the lobby ceiling of the Bellagio casino is a rainbow blaze of Chihuly's signature blown-glass discs. And now I've seen him on the Millenium, too.

This unmistakable, lovely Dale Chihuly chandelier hung in one of the two main stairwells. The art on the ship--mostly paintings, sculpture, and photographs--was interesting, lovely, weird, or scary, depending on your taste. It made for great conversation to talk about what you liked and what you hated.

The ship's art wasn't for sale, but never fear, there was plenty more to buy. An onboard dealer hawked paintings and sculpture at daily auctions in the ship's main shopping arcade. Now that's a souvenir....


Our maid Marites (Mah-ree-tess) was a gem. After our first introduction, she called us Mr. and Mrs. Semyan every time she saw us. (I felt so adult.) The few times we paged her for something, she appeared with a speed that was almost eerie. Was she waiting in the hall or something? Marites and her husband worked on the ship for nine months each year. During their three months off, they went home to the Philippines.

The ship's staff seemed to truly take pride in their work. Employees came from places like Croatia, Moravia, Burma, Morocco, the Himalaya, and Ghana. Everyone was profusely friendly and conversational. Staff members always greeted you with a smile, from some cleaning person vacuuming a hallway to an officer hurrying to the bridge. I just want to know one thing: What was the cruise line putting in their food?

Next Up: Virtual Ship Tour

Copyright 2001
Scott & Karen Semyan