At first : I'm a German Tour guide, so please excuse my English..
For me , it was the 7. time to go on these islands. For my group it has been first time. Time before we have been sailing with the Millenium of Celebrity Cruise lines. So we thought, same company - sister ship - even "Solsticized" , so what ? But, that's what we thought...
To make a long thing short:
Embarkation was alright, even the extra waiting time for the extra cleaning of the ship, because of norovirus. We understood this.
We knew that the luggage will take a time, to be on the cabin. So we went to the buffet at Deck 10, and had some drinks on the after Deck there. This is the best way to spend the time waiting. Others were looking around to discover the ship and it's facillitis.
As I mentioned- it was not our first time. We do this professionell.
The cabins were, as we expected them, an knew them from sister ship Millenium.
With some exceptions.. Some beds seemed not to be freshly made. Things were missing on the cabin..like beach towels, bags. They Cabin Stewards gave us various answers: Only on request..or one night before first Island-tour, or even: there will be none.. ! After talking to guest relations, day by day they arrived in all of our 16 cabins.
I was looking for the group coord. manager Cherry, but I only got her on the phone, or someone of the staff was talking to her like " she said I shall tell you.." So, I never saw her, during the first time of my first of 2 sailings
with two groups!!! Only on 2. cruise ( I had a back to back ) I told the reception , that have to spek to her - face to face. Then she showed up ! OK..one time..I never saw her again after that. I'm a customer with 3 times Celebrity award of beeing the greatest seller of cruise trips in southern Germany, I think, I should not ask to see her - she should ask to see me ?
Action on board:
To be true - there was not really an action happening. Not for us. If you like playing bingo or go to the casino, or try to learn how to fix up a table with special napkins a.s.o.
They have been, as we know it from Celebrity - professionell and nice. Worth to go there.
At first : I worked for radio and TV stations in Germany for 22 years as a on-air personal. The Music from tapes or Cd's running during the days , was almost horrible ! Some kind of chillin-music after having some drugs ? From outa-space!
Or some Jazzmusic with people singing or playing a Sax or Trompete, seemed to be in a competition, who can reach the highest tune for the longest time.. Nerv killing! It almost made me and others agressive. That was the reason, why I left some places very early, to get out of reach.
After I mentioned that to several people on board - they changed it ..a little!
These music tapes and it's kind of music had nothing to do, with the average people being on that ship. Not the kind of people-not the age of them.
And again, I am used to that, what the Millenium had on Board, and they where excellent.
On the constellation, I had the feeling, they ordered them via internet, without listening to them, and looking for the lowest price ! And believe me, that's what they really got.
The Reggae Band looked like one, but the never played like one. If i would through some corn on some sheets with music notes on.. a blind chicken would more often pick a corn on the right tune, then this band does ! Awful !
The indonesian "Show-Band" had a quality to play on a beach bar, with no entry fees, but not on any kind of a ship. So, we decided not to listen to them , and leave, when they appear.
The accapella Group : After beeing a group in this constellation, for only 5 month.. that was OK ! The repertoire could have been a little bigger, but OK
The Guitarrmen and singer on the after deck:
Nice to listen to him.. if you prefer not to talk to youre friends at the table. He almost made every job like beeing on a concert. The reason why he was playing there, should have been backround music ? Have a drink, talk with youre friends and guests, have some music in the back. This guy was that loud, that all kind of talking went out to screaming to youre partner on the table. It took some time and some comlaining to change that.
Result of music entertainment on Board (except the theater!) : Forget it.
The buffet at deck 10 was alright for breakfast. A little strange for us during lunch time! Much too much asian and indian food, where we sometimes where not able to find out, what the hell it is, they are serving there with these indian names. Germans are not that kind of people who load up the plate with "I don't know what it is, If I don't like it - through it away!" But standing in a row for a time, you better take what you know, instead trying all the wrong stuff.
The buffet, following after closing time 2:30 afternoon, which started at 6 at night, was pretty poor. Some pastas with different sauces, the asian guy with some asian food , some sweets - thats it ! The sushi at the asian station must have been great, thats what sushi fans always tould me !
All whats left, was a grill and sandwich station at the top of the buffet.
The deal here : Sandwiches or.. Chickenbreast - minute Steak - Steak of salm - pork chops. So far - so good !
But.. I'm shure, the staff here got told, how long a chickenbreat or all the other stuff has to be on a grill - thats it. Want some herb-butter on youre steak ? Don't have it ! Want some onions on youre steak ? Don't have it ! (don't even know that option) I asked them to put some fried onions on the steak
They offered some raw ones.. No man.. I want you to to put these on the grill for 2 minutes , get them glassy to light brown.. put them on the steak, thats all !
Oh no sir, we can not do that. OK- forget it! The baked potatoe, could you please open it, to put some soure cream in there ?
"you want me to.. what ? Ok forget it, put the soure cream on the side- i'm done.
open all day and deep in the night. Different pizza's some sidedishes. OK !
If you order italian food on that pasta station, you'll find a guy ( ok, he's chinese) in an all italian cook outfit. But do not ask him for the italian names of the food like "alio e olio" which is just pasta with garlic and olive oil, or to make it more worst "alio e olio al diavolo" which just means with hot spice, like peppers. He will not even have an idea, what the hell you talk about! OK - it is an american ship, they speak english (some still try to..) but don't you put a guy behind that station in an al italian outfit, that not even knows the basics of the original food names. On all other stations I get served the indian stuff with all indian names, where I dont know, is that the name of the indian cook or his food ? So I have to know - my fault if I don't.
All in all the buffet on deck 10 ist good for breakfast, lunch. Poor for the night.
San Marco Restaurant:
Good Food - up to excellent, and nice waiters and assistance.. if you got the right ones ! Most of them are, some not
My one, Helmi and his assitant Dino - they where a top team ! Outstanding !
When I was down there, I really fellt pampered with the best service I could get, and the best Food they had. For 8 people 3 different kind of steaks in 4 different kinds of cooking - rare, medium rare - medium done - well done- and they all came as ordered - always ! Respect ! 5 * for food and service!
Extra Fee Restaurants :
The "ocean liner" or "the tuscan grill"
Some of my people tryed them, because of a special event like 25. anniversry , birthday a.s.o. They all came out happy - even after they paid a little more for drinks , and the extra fee. It's worth it, when you have to celebrate a special day or wnt someting special.
The other special restaurants, we did not try - even after they offered them every day again and again... and again.
If "solsticizing" means, to put more places with extra fees in there, man - this was the wrong way ! The average amount of people using this ( by having a included excellent food and service at the San Marco! ) was too low to get in the costs of the new buildings- my opinion.
The after deck Bar :
Nice to sit and meet. Smokers on left - non-smokers right side.
Service OK , Music sometimes much too loud. Music from tapes..
2 times they build up a table , nice decorated with an Ice Sculpture,a winebarrel and some bottles and glasses, and a variety choice of cheese. looked really nice ! Some people made photos of it, but no one really knows, what's it all about...
OK ,I'm here to tell you ('cause no one elso will ever do).. You did have the chance to try some different wines (extra price !) by bottle or glass, to find youre favourite one, and have a cheese/crackers snack included !
But... nobody told you ! No waiter - no Winespecialist - no one !
The waiters never took the chance to sell this to you, they just ignored it.
After 2 hours of standing there - untouched- they begann to put the cheese on little plates , and serve it to the people as a snack. Then they took the whole thing away again...
They even did this, when we had a little storm comming up, and no one - except some smokers for a quick cigarette, was sitting there.
Bad joke ? No - the truth ! I think there ar people who are watering the Flowers in a garden - meanwhile a heavy rainshower comes down- because it was on theire daily plan to do so.
They left this bar open, even when the wind was that hard, that it blows youre head away, but closed the poolbar inside at same time. No one understood this, but even after we talked to the people in charge therefore.. nothing happend.
Its like that - we always did that way - we always do so in the future, why proof it?
Result for me and my 2 groups on Board :
Celebrity : YES
What a difference a ship makes..
Constellation : NO - not again !
The Constellation seems to be for relaxing older people only, who just like to lay on the pool ( some with earplugs, because of the loudness and the quality) and enjoy the food and the weather..play some bingo, name that tune or join the casino.
Even a 60 year old woman (in a concierge Cabin) from New York said : This is God's waiting room..
But if so, they should make the cabins smaller, for the result, that the gangways have enough room then, to pass by two wheelchairs.
I will not be missunderstood ! I have no problems with people in wheelchairs, while I had a time in one of them too ! But If you construct a ship and it's programm in this direction of users, then please, do it perfect!