I have to say that I am somewhat surprised at some of the recent reviews of the Constellation.
This cruise was a 'doddle' for us as we live only an hour away from Harwich. I found a local taxi who did the return trip for less than the port car park cost.That meant we were delivered and collected at the cruise terminal door. It also meant that we were able to check in as soon as they opened at 11 a.m. and were on board very quickly and very easily and were able to start our exploration of the ship.
Cabins were ready most promptly and our cabin steward soon came along to introduce himself. Our cabin was maintained immaculately throughout the cruise and if he was around our steward (Sim) always greeted us.
For the most part I thought the ship was in excellent condition with housekeeping staff being seen continuosly cleaning. Some of the handrails needed varnishing but hey the ship is 7 years old now. Furthermore this work was being carried out during our voyage and I am sure they will get round the whole vessel in time.
With regard to food, during the cruise we ate in the Seaside Cafe, the Marco Polo restaurant and Ocean Liners and also had the occassional bite in Cova cafe. The choice of food could not be faulted, American, English, Asian, Italian were all provided. I must admit we tended to find our preference and stick with it so we never tried the pizza or pasta and that is partly because it is so readily available at home.
Our Dining Room steward (Allan) and his assistant were just fine and we had no problems with the service other than one night when there was a problem with lamb shank. This is a popular dish in the UK and with so many Brits on this cruise I suspect they actually ran out. We were offered the option of waiting or ordering something else, so we made another choice.
The service in Ocean Liners is just something else and was up to the standards of a top class restaurant in France. The food was superb and well worth the additional charge.
With regard to the Buffet Restaurant I must admit there were some staff who were not particularly friendly but I would say that was a minority. For the most part the crew were polite and friendly even though on a few occasions we were embarrassed by the way guests spoke to them, it just wasn't necessary.
The entertainment was good to start with. The singers and dancers were very good and the productions were probably the best of any of the four cruises we have been on. The artistes at the last show were much poorer than those we enjoyed previously. In fact we discovered on our return home that the so called comedian performed on a cruise my in laws went on in 1994. I suspect he's doing the same act 15 years on!!
Celebrity organised a Cruise Critic connections party on the first sea day for which there was a very good turn out. We were also provided with some special visits during the cruise but were asked to be discreet about them! They were informative and made us feel special.
The ports of call were fantastic but we did our own thing and did not take any ships tours. The private tour 6 of us took in St Petersburg was absolutley excellent and worth every rouble!
In closing I have to say that our first ever cruise was with Holland America and for us there are some little things that I think they do better. But we would definitely sail Celebrity again if the itinerary was right.