We travelled to Southampton with inter-cruise coaches,we had to pick it up at Burton Wood services as the one from Leeds was full. it took 6hrs with a 45 min stop and two pickups on the way. but once you hand your luggage to the driver you don't see it again till it arrives outside your stateroom.
This was my first Celebrity cruise, I must say I was not as impressed as I hoped to be, I found the ship to be quite dark and dull in places, and the Grand Foyer was not very grand at all, we had our photo taken at the bottom of the stairs on one of the formal nights and we look like we are at the bottom of an escalator in a shopping mall..
Our cabin I thought better than the ones on Princess as the bathroom and the shower were bigger and the wardrobe had doors. we have always had a balcony before and as we booked at the last moment we could only get a cabin on deck 3, these just have a porthole, the only problem I found was you couldn't open the window and get any fresh air, and they got very stuffy after a short time.
We did have a kettle with tea and sugar but no coffee, they had sachets of Hot Chocolate at the buffet to bring down.
I wish I had taken my own hair dryer as the one with the hose in the bathroom was rubbish.
Plenty of space under the bed for suitcases etc.
Our cabin steward was very good and any request was carried out quickly.
There was no duty free shop as UK regulations prohibit the on-board sale of Tobacco and Alcohol and perfume etc was subject to 20 percent VAT.
We found the food to be very good in the dinning room, but the service was a bit haphazard, we were at a table for 6 on second sitting and I don't think we had one meal where our orders were all correct, we quite often ended up with things we didn't order and had to wait while they were changed, I also have never been asked to reuse the cutlery from my salad to eat my main course before, I thought it was just a blip on the first evening when the waiter put my knife and fork on my side plate to reuse. they did it again on the second night, so this time I asked for clean ones and for the next night till they got the message. Also a couple of nights our meal was nearly over before our wine arrived. but they are small things and the food was beautifully presented and always hot...
The buffet was a bit hit and miss and set out a bit oddly with a gap in the middle and if you didn't carry on to the bottom you would miss quite a bit as farther down they had a station doing Eggs Benedict and poached eggs etc, at the bottom end they had the waffle and pancake station and you could go out of the doors there to eat outside. at lunchtime they did hot sandwiches there and Pizzas, in the evening they would cook chicken salmon etc to order and had baked potatoes fries veg salad etc to go with it. they had a pasta station where they would cook to order.
you could get burgers and hot dogs fries salad etc from 11.30am to 6.00pm.
light breakfast and lunches with Salmon etc cooked to order.
Dress ranged from men wearing trousers and a sports jacket to a Dinner suit, and ladies in anything from a sundress a cocktail dress or full evening dress.
The Captains Welcome toast was at 8.30pm while we were having dinner or 10.45pm which was when the show was on in the theater, so the timings were a bit strange
Room Service was fast and even though a limited choice was tasty and hot. we had our evening meal in our cabin after we go back from Porto, we were so tired we just had dinner and watched a couple of films on TV. We had breakfast on the last morning as we had an early disembarkation, it came on time and was very good and saved us time.
The shows we went to were quite good, but they are down to personal choice and not everyone has the same taste and I heard people saying the magician was fantastic and also rubbish, so it is up to the individual. Perry Grant who sings and plays the piano in Michael's Bar was quite funny the first couple of times but did more or less the same thing each evening. he had a sort of cult following who he took the mickey out of all the time. there were the usual things like bingo and slot pulls which we didn't go to so can't comment. we did go to Dancing with the officers which was quite funny, that was followed by Karaoke which wasn't, we left after the second rendition of "That's Life"
There was a Trivia Quiz now and then and some people took it VERY seriously and got quite cross if they lost, and as the prize was only a sun visor it was not much of a loss.
The outdoor pool was freezing cold, plenty of loungers but a lot were in the shade unless you went up on the top deck where there was no shade at all,the pool attendants did go round removing towels people had left to reserve beds after so long, the indoor Thalassotherapy pool was like a pool sized hot tub with two bubble beds and water spouts to massage your head and neck, this was usually full and people reserved loungers and didn't come back for hours.
The Shuttle service from the ship cost $15 and the first one was a fiasco, as they had not ordered enough coaches and we waited over an hour, some waited one and a half. when we finally got on the coach we were told it would be complimentary, and we did in fact get a refund, in the end we were refunded for all the shuttles but don't know if this will be the case on future cruises. it seems that we were so far away from anywhere at some of the places we docked it was a bit like you had to pay or be stuck there, one dock was just a few containers and a shed and miles of nothing, no taxis to be had.
We didn't go on any of the excursions, just did our own thing.
At Le Havre we got a taxi into the town which cost 8 euros and as we shared with another couple who were waiting which made it very cheap, we did the same on the second day and went on the little tourist motor train that goes round, it is not hop on hop off though. and cost 5 euros.
At Bordeaux we got the shuttle to Soulac Sur Mer which is a little sea side town with the usual tourist shops and lots of bars for lunch and some nice wine. it's a pleasant place to pass a few hours.
We got the Shuttle into Bilbao on the first day about a 25 min journey. it was a five min walk to the Guggenheim, it was only 8 euros to get in as the 3rd floor was closed because they were putting in new exhibits, I don't know what the usual price is. we enjoyed the Hockney exhibit very much as the paintings are from near where we live. we then walked by the river to the old town for lunch and got the tram back to the Guggenheim for 1.40 euros and the shuttle back. the day after we got off and walked round the bay, a nice beach and a couple of hotels. the marina next to the ship had a little shop where we got some 2litre bottles of coke and bottled water to bring on board, we asked our steward to empty the fridge of the pay for drinks so we could chill ours, there was no problem with this.
At Vigo the ship docks right at the town so we just got off and wandered, it's a beautiful place but very hilly, we had wine and tapas outside a nice bar which was only 16 euros for 4 of us and we had 2 glasses each. there is a shopping mall by the ship where we got one or two gifts to bring home.
Porto we docked at the end of the town and as we came through the terminal celebrity were selling tickets for the yellow hop on hop off bus for 15 euros, there was a very long queue as people who wanted the shuttle to the end of the dock thought that was the queue for them, it was all very badly organised, we just walked out onto the shuttle (it is only a 2 min journey but as it is a working dock we were not allowed to walk) and got the Blue ho ho bus for 10 euros, it was just unfortunate they had a marathon and part of the route was shut to traffic. there was also the red ho ho bus as well but I don't know the price. it was a short day as we had to be back on board for 5.45pm also as it was Sunday hardly anything was open.
We were allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine on each time we got back on board, some people got off a couple of times and fetched two bottles on each time. At Porto we got two bottles of Port which were taken from us and returned the last afternoon.
My sister picked up a bug the day we left Porto and we had to go to sick bay and they gave her an injection, she was ill the last two days and quarantined, they did not charge for her treatment and she got a letter to say she would get a credit off her next cruise for the time spent in quarantine. another couple of people we talked to were also ill and spent time in quarantine.
we were asked to wait in the Rendezvous bar at 7.30am but it was 8.15am by the time we were called as they had problems with offloading the luggage, but once off it was straight to pick up our luggage and out, so only about 15 mins.
We just booked the cruise for a nice relaxing holiday and were not much interested in the wine aspect so didn't take much notice of the wine related activities on board, but we did enjoy our cruise and I hope they iron out the difficulties for the next cruise. I would not go on the Constellation again as I didn't think it was anything special but this again is personal taste. and some of the places where we docked left a lot to be desired, but we may look into other Celebrity ships for the future.