Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by Max Circus: A Taste of the Celebrity Life
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A Taste of the Celebrity Life
My wife and I sailed on the special 2-night Constellation on 1/19/13. Port of call was Nassau. We were on Deck 8 in Inside Cabin 8015 (Category 9). Late seating for dinner. This was my first Celebrity cruise having sailed previously on Carnival, RCCL, Disney and Norwegian. My wife had sailed on Celebrity once previously. We paid $119/person not including tax and gratuities. We purchased the Classic beverage package for both of us. We took this cruise mainly for the price, but also because we had booked a 7-day cruise on Summit in April 2013 and we felt this would give us a taste for this class of ship.
We arrived at the pier about 2:00. It was a very strange embarkation. Apparently Constellation was in a temporary pier so instead of the usual terminal building, they had a large tent. Not the best first impression for a cruise line boasting they are "deluxe". I thought we might be headed into a beer tasting festival instead of a cruise . ? But once More inside, realized we were in the right place. We were able to use the line for Select checkin since I had been able to get Captain's Club credentials having been Platinum on RCCL. Check in was fast and we quickly found out we had been upgraded from Deck 2 to Deck 8. We had booked an Inside guarantee. It was nice to be closer to the pool and bars. We bypassed the photo op and across the gangway we went. Onboard by 2:30.
We were welcomed with a nice glass of champagne and really enjoyed the look of the ship. We quickly made our way to Deck 8 using the stairs (we always try to avoid the elevator and get the extra exercise). We were greeted by our cabin steward on our way down the hallway and he made us feel very welcome and to let us know if we needed anything. The cabin was in perfect order. Next on our agenda was some lunch.
We had done some research and saw that Bistro on 5 was going to be open lunch so we are anxious to try it. We were greeted by the hostess and quickly seated at a table for two. This was our first opportunity to try the drink package and we both ordered a glass of wine. For food, I order the chef's salad and a Rib Eye crepe. Both very good -- especially the salad and blue cheese dressing. My wife had the Cowboy crepe which she thought was very good (I did also!!). There was a $5 surcharge each (which we thought was a bargain for the food quality) and we left an additional $5 gratuity. We next were headed to a Roll Call meetup at the Sunset Bar on the back of the ship.
The roll call was in the Sunset Bar which is the coolest bar on any ship I have been on. Great place for sail away with a guitar player, shaded seating and nice bar with stools. And close to the pizza station if you still needed a snack. The roll call members were wearing beads and they had name tags which was a nice touch. The bar service was a little spotty at first. The bartenders seemed ill-prepared for the number of people. After about 10 minutes of this, one of the managers came out and he quickly got a couple more bartenders and the service was back to normal. Again we used the beverage package and it worked fine. They do take your card and confirm your package but you have nothing to sign. We found that if you stayed in the same bar for more than one round, they no longer asked for your card and in some cases just came over and refilled your wine. We chatted with some of the people in the group and watched as we sailed away from Miami, seeing the Epic and Breeze as we departed. We headed to our cabin to get dressed for late dinner.
We first went to the welcome aboard show and saw the comedian Fred Klett who had apparently appeared with Jerry Seinfeld before. We found him pretty funny. Not rolling on the floor funny but had some interesting observations. The crowd was very small. After dinner, we went to Michael's Club where they had a piano singer. She was very good. Very cool lounge and unlike any piano bar I had seen before (no seats around the piano). We then went to karaoke and had fun singing a song (Lady is a Tramp). We liked how the host moved new people to the front of the list to sing. We then went to the disco in the Reflections Lounge. Every other disco I have been on a ship has been in what I would call a "cave". Very dark and low ceilings. Not on this ship. Huge room and large floor to ceiling windows. Simply the best disco I have ever seen. And a great DJ who really knew the crowd. Played a mix of old and new -- and often both at the same time which kept everyone dancing. Great cocktail service here.
The only low point of the cruise was the service in the dining room. On the first night we arrived right at 8:30 and were seated immediately. When we got to the table, our waiter came over and told us it would be awhile before he would be over to take our orders since he had to seat other guests. Or so he said. We actually didn't see him seat any other guests but he was correct about not coming back for quite some time. Once he did come, he took our orders for dinner. Food quality was very good but needed more seasoning. For example, escargots which I have loved on other cruise lines for their buttery-garlic flavor, were nearly tasteless on Celebrity. The Duck L'Orange which I had on the second night also was exteremely underseasoned -- tasting nothing of orange and lacking any sauce. I also ordered the Celebrity signature Beef Toranado (I am sure I have spelled this wrong). And while it was cooked properly to order (medium rare), it too cried out for some simple salt and pepper.
Cocktail service was also off. We never saw a bar waiter. In fact, our assistant waiter had to leave the dining room to go get my wife's cappuccino, slowing down service for everyone. The sommelier was very good, but it took a while for him to come to our table to take orders. Once he did, it took some time for him to return for refills. It seemed like he was the only one serving our entire dining room. That issue seemed to be more about management then the individual server since it appeared that one server had the whole entire side of the restaurant to take care of.
We had room service breakfast and found it average. The omelet was cooked solid and the coffee average. Much better in the buffet where I was surprised to find made-to-order eggs benedict with your choice of protein including smoke salmon. Delicious!! They also had English breakfast and for the first time I tried blood sausage -- and I loved it!!
Lunch in the buffet was very good. We found it unlike any other cruise ship buffet in that they served you almost everything. For example, someone would put the green you wanted in a salad bowl and then you would take that and put whatever else you wanted. They had a pasta station where they made it to order. Even the entree section, the servers would give you a portion (or more) of what you asked for. I actually liked this approach better than other cruise line since there was less concern about cleanliness issues. There was a great pizza station where they had 3 -- 4 types available. The best food we found in the buffet was the absolutely amazing selection of freshly made sushi. We had this for a snack before the last dinner and found it really good. One service issue at the buffet was that I found that dirty trays and plates stayed around much too long - especially out at the Sunset Bar where the seagulls were feasting on uneaten food while we were in port. I have to put some blame on the passengers for this. A reasonable person would know that when you eating outdoors near a port, there are going to be birds. Sometimes very aggressive birds. If you are done with your tray, have the common sense to at least put a napkin over it so it is not as available to the birds. Or better yet, take 30 seconds and bring it inside where it isn't tantalizing for the gulls. We saw several times where this wasn't done and the birds came in large flocks. Mostly avoidable if the guests would have taken a little consideration for the passengers around them. We ate breakfast in the dining room on the last morning and it was pretty good -- although the eggs benedict in the buffet were better.
The service issues are possibly symptoms of the 2-night cruise and being understaffed. I don't know how to explain the food issues since I had much higher expectations from Celebrity.
Pool and Other Amenities
We sat by the pool on the day at Nassau and had a "sea" day". The area has two pools one smaller than the other and used for games (they have a basketball hoop). Bars are found on either end. Cocktail service was somewhat slow in that there weren't many server walking around. Once you found one, they would come back to you. We also checked out the adults-only Solarium which was excellent. Large heated Thermo pool with jetted stainless steel "chaises". Very relaxing and they have their own buffet of healthier lunch options and snacks. Also some interesting marinated fruits which I tried but none were particularly memorable. There is also a sauna, separate showers and lockers for men and women in this area. Did not try them but probably will for our upcoming Summit cruise. On the first morning, we did a morning 3-mile walk on the jogging path. Not as wide as some other ships and there were some chaises which you had to be careful walking past.
We had only brought carryon luggage so didn't have to leave anything outside our cabin. We would just walk off the ship through customs. The process took longer than I think it should have. We waited in a long line on the outside paths of the ship (Deck 3 I believe). And getting through customs took some time as well. It took over an hour to get off the ship and through customs. Longest of any ship I have been on.
I loved the ship and enjoyed the cruise very much. I have never been on a "ruined" cruise. I am excited for our 7-day cruise on Summit which is the same class. This gave me the "taste" I wanted and left me wanting more - which I hope to get on Summit. There was so much of the ship I felt we didn't get to explore and I plan to take it all in on Summit. If you have any questions about the cruise, I would be glad to try to answer them. Less
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