This was our fourth Celebrity cruise, along with many other cruises on other lines, the second on a millennium class ship and it didn’t disappoint overall.
We flew to Istanbul on a Celebrity package the lazy option.. Our paperwork confirmed there was no meal supplied by Turkish airlines, so sausage rolls were purchased at Gatwick at great expense, only to find on the flight we were supplied with a meal, which by the way was really good.
We were booked into the Hilton, again paperwork confirmed no breakfast was provided, and guess what, we did get breakfast. Slight issue with the room, it was a lovely Hotel on the hill overlooking Istanbul, lovely views from the ground floor reception. We were allocated our room, to get to there is was down 3 flights in one lift, round the corner and down another 3 in the next lift. We were right at the back of the hotel with a view of the bushes!! It did feel a little like we were in the cheap seats.
Boarding was delayed due to a deep clean following an outbreak on an earlier cruise, which we were informed of upon arrival so we had a morning to wander Istanbul. Once we were picked up check-in and boarding couldn’t have been better.
Rooms were available earlier than expected, we had a ‘sweet sixteen’ (6033) with the extra large balcony and we were very impressed apart from the previous occupants socks in the bottom drawer!!
We settled into ship life very quickly, we were Select dining and this was extremely well executed. The staff in the dining room seemed to work together a bit more than we have seen on other ships. The sommeliers seemed to help each other out so we never waited for wine which can only be a good thing. We had a table for 2 every night which was what we wanted, we booked the first 2 nights when we got on board and then later in the cruise we were able to book a 8:30 table every night. There were rarely queues and we never waited long. We did one speciality restaurant Ocean Liners. This was a lovely experience and the food was very nice. The staff were very efficient but it was almost like they were trying too hard and made it all feel at bit tense (or pompous as we heard someone else describe it).
We had a premium drinks package which worked well for us. We were extremely well looked after by Zora in café al Bacio. She was superb, so friendly and efficient. We ended up not having desert in the dining room but going to see her for liquor coffees and cake instead.
We felt the entertainment was a bit lacking. The entertainment staff were not very visible, we only saw the cruise director a couple of times and we were always out and about on the ship in the evening exercising our drinks package... He never mingled in any of the bars. He only turned up to his scheduled events, did the bare minimum and left. To his credit he did come and speak to us one night in the reflections lounge. There was only one late show which was disappointing, we don’t like going to the early shows, we like a pre dinner drink at the Martini bar (why wouldn’t you with a drinks package!!) before it gets too busy and then eat at 8:30pm. The second show was 9pm so anyone on 2nd sitting would miss it. There should at least be late shows on the formal nights.
It was quite a port intensive cruise, there was a sea day followed by 9 ports and then another sea day. We could have done with a sea day in the middle to have a break.
The weather was lovely for the whole trip except for the day in Mykonos, it was really sunny and warm but horrendously windy, which took the shine off a lovely port.
Santorini is simply stunning, we got the cable car up without any queue’s or problems, then walked along the top to the next village along from Fira, this is my hot tip as Fira gets very busy and is quite commercial but get away from your shipmates where its peaceful you can really take in the amazing views and scenery.
My other favourites of this trip were Marmaris in Turkey and Chania in Crete. Both were lovely ports to visit, both quite busy resorts but had really attractive waterfront areas to stroll around.
Unfortunately Celebrity fall down badly on disembarkation day. Basically there motto is "you’ve had your cruise, we’ve had your money, now get off our ship”
We were given a time of 7am to depart, we were called before 7am and then dumped very unceremoniously at the airport at 7:45am nearly 5 hours early for our flight.
Overall we had a thoroughly good cruise, it was very relaxing, no issues, no illness "except a bit of a cold but everyone on the ship seemed to be coughing by the end.
The Constellation is a beautiful ship and absolutely spotless inside and extremely well looked after. I disagree with the addition of the Aqua cabins at the back. It has made the Oceanview a bit of a dead end, you cant escape at the back and if you come up the aft lifts trying to get out on deck you have to go all the way back through fighting the hungry crowds..
Would I cruise with Celebrity again? Try stopping me. We are booked on the Equinox next year and cant wait..