This was our 5th cruise, first on Celebrity. We previously cruised on Regent, Oceania and Viking. Norway is an extremely expensive destination, hence our decision to give Celebrity a try since their prices are much lower and they were offering the 123 special. We stayed in Aqua Class, which we thought might give us a reprieve from crowding that we expected, since this ship is more than twice the size and occupancy of any ship we had ever cruised on.
Our perception of Constellation compared to smaller, luxury class ships:
Lots of overcrowding at buffet during lunch and dinner. We wish they would have had more restaurant choices during the day to relieve the seating issues (lack of adequate tables for everyone). It wasn't a problem at dinner.
A lot of pushing, shoving and cutting in line: for food, to get on shuttles, to get on elevators and an overall rudeness on the part of many passengers in the bar areas. There was quite a blend of nationalities on this particular cruise and I understand that there are different cultural mores when it comes to personal space and the like, but this was over the top for us.
We had upgraded to the premium drinks package because we like to drink good wine. There were many times we had a decent glass of wine in one of the restaurants or bars and could never get it again. The craft beer lounge would have been awesome if they had not changed it to a (completely underutilized) VIP lounge. They did have a nice wine focused lounge on board, Cellarmasters, however, we had the bad luck to be cruising during the World Cup games and Cellarmasters became "all World Cup, all the time" something we have no interest in. One final comment about wine, is that we would have dearly loved to have been able to order glasses of wine from room service to enjoy on our veranda (without paying extra of course!) This is first cruise we have taken where we could not do this.
The entertainment options were more plentiful than the smaller ships. Our favorite by far was the Russian Violin Trio. Gorgeous and talented. We wish the Saxophonist could have gotten rid of the guy with the synthesizer and we might have enjoyed her music. The shows were okay. I usually find them pretty cheesy and I hate medleys and variety shows. The violin guy from England was awesome, the best by far, the poor juggler's performance was cringe-worthy, I only can hope it was due to pitchy seas that night.
Dining at Blu was pretty good, and we ate all dinners there except the 4 nights we did the specialty restaurants. The service was good and food acceptable. I wish their breakfast hours could have been extended until at least 9:30 because we are not early risers most of the time. Lunch in Blu would be a godsend too, as we hated the Oceanview buffet so much (we renamed it the "Push and Shove Cafe") We ate lunch on shore every port and tried the hamburgers a few times to avoid the Oceanview. We ate at the Oceanliners restaurant twice, once we had the multi course with matching wines, and the second time we did ala carte and had wines that were included on our package. It was pretty good, nice presentation, very ambitious tableside service which could benefit from further staff training. The Tuscan Grill however, was excellent. We thought the food, service and ambiance there was much better both times we ate there. The sommelier in Tuscan was the best on the ship as well, kudos to her!
One of the "benefits" we thought we were going to receive as Aqua Class guests was exclusive access to thalassotherapy pool, jacuzzis and the Persian Garden area. We enjoyed the pool for a sum total of an hour until a woman brought her diapered infant into the pool with her. Disgusting. Even though there were signs stating adults only, children were jumping in and splashing around. So that was that. There was a pool guy there, but he did not enforce the rules. We used the jacuzzis once or twice, but a combination of children and extreme over-chlorination put an end to that as well. I never did use the Persian Garden for some reason...... My husband enjoyed the steam room. We did not get any spa treatments. The fitness room was fine, it had everything we needed, I only wish I had thought to bring an iPod for music.
The only other things I can think of to mention are that we liked the Reflections Lounge, great views, the martini bar was fun one evening to try a few interesting drinks, the coffee shop was very good, the public areas nice enough. We weren't big fans of the artwork, and don't do art auctions, casinos and onboard shopping.
The itinerary was good. It was nice to start in Amsterdam so we had an opportunity to spend a few nights in that beautiful city before boarding. The highlights of the actual cruise were the fjords of Geiranger and the sail out of Molde which was beautiful. The city of Bergen was terrific. I almost wish they hadn't bothered going all the way up to Honnigsvag and instead had gone to Oslo and hit another fjord area. The further north we went the colder and grimmer the weather got. I guess a month later when all the snow had finished melting would have helped, but then we wouldn't have had all those awesome waterfalls. All in all I'm glad we finally got to see Norway! We did know that it was going to be expensive, but I have to say it exceeded even my expectations. Be prepared to pay triple what you are used to at home for similar meals and/or goods.
Overall, the cruise was good. We booked Celebrity's Xplorer for the Galapagos next April, and it being a smaller more rustic ship, we have our expectations in full check. Again, Celebrity offers a great value in the uber-expensive Galapagos, so we will go with them. Other than that, on future cruises, we will probably go back to Oceania. It's more expensive, but we think for us it is worth it.