Background: This was our fifth Celebrity cruise and our third on Constellation, which we had not sailed since a TA in 2006. Since we are a family of three, we book suites, looking for discounted rates through Internet travel agencies. We sail with a number of other cruise lines, including Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Regent and Silversea.
Summary: Although we enjoyed this cruise, we found that Celebrity has changed a good deal since our last cruise on the Constellation in 2006. Service remains outstanding, but ship maintenance, food quality, food variety and the lectures offered have declined. We will sail with Celebrity again, but on the new, larger ships.
Service: All our stewards, in the dining room and our stateroom, were outstanding as usual. Service throughout the Constellation was wonderful.
Food: Since 2006, the quality of the food has declined, but that said, we still enjoyed our meals overall. A time or two, we had some very good entrees, including a wonderful fillet of halibut one evening, but overall the food is rather bland. Ingredients used are not the best, with no butter at all in many of the cookies and no cream used in the preparation of creamed soups, with arrowroot or cornstarch likely substituted as thickeners. Overall, it is apparent that Celebrity is reducing per passenger costs by cutting food quality. No longer is lobster served, except as part of a seafood medley at one formal dinner. The seafood medley is rubbery and tasteless.
Stateroom: We booked a Royal Suite at a discounted rate, but found that the very same suite we booked in 2005 currently has some problems. Our heat did not work throughout the cruise. At first, this was not apparent as we embarked from Florida, but as we advanced across the Atlantic, we were most uncomfortable without heat. Attempts to fix the problem were not successful. Eventually, the maintenance crew simply turned off the cold air flow completely. I wonder how the passengers following us managed as they were going to northern Europe, which is quite cold in May. Our lighting was also inadequate as Celebrity has added very low wattage bulbs throughout the suite rendering it rather like a cave due to all the dark paneling. This was not so in 2005. The sofa bed also gave way, and we had to request that it be repaired. It was left open one evening, with the frame broken near the head of the bed. The bedroom queen mattress was terrible....very hard even with added padding. The suite was kept spotless, and the staff tried very hard to solve our lack of heat problem with no success.
Lectures: In the past, we have enjoyed very good lecture series on crossings on the Constellation. This time, not so. No "name" lecturers as in the past.
Library: The library is quite literally a mess. The lighting is so low that it is nearly impossible to even see the books. There is no librarian. Books were randomly placed on shelves. A beautiful room left to ruin. There are few books available. Take your own....
Entertainment: Overall, the entertainment was quite good. We particularly enjoyed Linsey Hamilton and the British comedian, whose name I do not recall. We did not see any of the production shows.
Conclusion: Although we were disappointed in some aspects of this cruise, we intend to give one of the new Celebrity ships a try. Some of the crew on the Constellation think that she will be sold as the newer larger ships enter service. Perhaps that explains why we had problems in our suite. The crew remain stellar, however, and provide wonderful, friendly service.