A little background. I've cruised with Royal Caribbean and Carnival and by far this was the most mismanaged and disappointing cruise I have been on.
As with anything the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As such, my discontent with respect to the Constellation is more than a reaction to dissatisfactory service or food (my complaints have been listed below). To use the car manufacturing sector to analogize my feelings about this cruise: We certainly did not pay for a Rolls Royce but we paid for a cruise with a company that is considered by many to be the Mercedez of cruising (reliable, luxurious, high end).
This level of service is not what we experienced onboard (as mentioned above). My memories of my experience in Europe is clouded by this dissatisfaction with our cruise ship. When I was asked how my holiday had been I was forced to admit that I wasn’t all too pleased, which is rather unfortunate. The truth is that by day 4 (Estonia) I was wishing I could transfer to one of the other ships docked at the pier, but I knew this was impossible.
• Great variation in quality of dishes offered.
• Most dishes were tasteless and poorly executed in the main dining room/Buffet offerings were repetitive and equally poorly executed.
• Resembled “rest stop diner food” (low quality/unskillfully prepared) as opposed to that of a 4-star restaurant (as previously experienced onboard the RCC Adventure of the Seas)
• Deserts were tasteless, unimaginative or poorly executed (my “soufflé” which tasted much like microwaved egg whites was left barely touched).
• The coffee was awful. The overpriced “café” coffee resembled the free coffee offered onboard the Adventure of the Seas and Carnival Imagination. Although I did not try the espressos onboard I also heard from an acquaintance that these were equally disappointing.
• The food during our excursion to St. Petersburg was unpalatable. The same acquaintance
remarked on Day 1 ashore that she wasn’t quite sure of what the Beef Stroganoff consisted of (it didn’t taste of anything). Day 2’s meal was equally disappointing and reminded me of canned cream of chicken soup served atop white rice. Certainly not what anyone expected given the pricing of the excursions.
• A couple sitting in front of us while awaiting the departure of one of our tours commented that they had ordered room service and that it never came.
• The attitude of the waiters towards guests was rather surprising. We found the waiters on the RCC Adventure of the Seas welcoming and quite helpful. Our waiters onboard the Celebrity were, in general, the types of waiters you would chose not to tip – absent, unfriendly, etc
• On the last night of the cruise I was struck by how rude one of the ushers had been to the hostess.
• Badly in need of updates, upgrades and repair.
• Maintenance and painting undertaken during the day, at many times with guests present or rather in the way
• Major deck cleaning undertaken during pool opening hours on deck 10 This occurred twice to my knowledge. The second time people were still in the pool or hot tub when crew proceeded to move chairs to the side in order to hose down the deck.
• Outdoor furniture in need or repair or replacement
• Coffee table in our stateroom was rusted, scratched and scuffed
• Although cleaning was undertaken in view of guests the ship certainly was not clean. Windows and exterior of ship was grimy throughout our trip. There were also a large amount of insects which made the Constellation their home (so much so that an acquaintance was unable to make use of their balcony throughout the trip).
• It was apparent that the back patio area of deck 10 was never cleaned during our trip: juice, stains, and grime stained the floors.
• After undertaking what appeared to be maintenance of the lifeboats on deck 4 (on day 1 in St. Petersburgh) the deck was not cleaned by the time passengers reboarded the ship. Rust and dust covered the majority of the deck. The following day I noticed a crew member mopping up the debris
• The light coming from underneath the door in our stateroom was terribly bothersome (even for someone who typically does not have a problem sleeping with some light present).
• Favours were given on days 1 and 2 of the cruise. On our previous sailings favours (chocolates) were always placed on our pillows. We then overheard another guest mention that favours were only given on days 1 and 2 with Celebrity. This is a little bit incomprehensible to me. Royal is generally seen as the lower quality brand yet it offers much more in terms of service, personalization, and small touches which make guests feel welcome.
• Crew members seemed to have a bad attitude and acted as though they were bothered by the presence of guests.
• Our sail-way cards kept getting demagnetized despite not carrying electronic devices with us while out on tour. When sailing with Carnival I had kept my card with my cell phone (behind the phone under the gel case) and it had never gotten demagnetized.
• Cleaning and repairs to my knowledge and confirmed with 2 other cruisers had always been undertaken during the night hours on Royal Caribbean and Carnival. The cleaning and repairs on the Constellation are undertaken during the day with guests present. The result was that often we felt we were in the way. Most of this should have been done at night (as it is done on other ships).
• I often saw crew members not acting professionally in the presence of guests (fooling around on the patio, holding hands on the last day while walking by the pool – the place was filled to the brim with guests).
• I often had the sense that I was in the crew’s way. Housekeeping often acted bothered about the prospect of having to come back later to do a room.
• The attitude onboard was a serious problem. Many of the crew members were disgruntled or cold while others acted arrogant or snobbish. This was certainly not the welcoming atmosphere we expected to feel onboard.
My main issue, again, is that this was not a 5-star cruise as it is often advertised. When compared to the Constellation this constitutes serious false advertising. Had I known how things would be onboard the Constellation I would not have paid for the cruise – quite simply, I would have waited a month and cruised with Royal.