This was our second cruise with Celebrity, having cruised on Summit 2 years ago through the Panama Canal. We had flown from Australia to join the Constellation for this much awaited cruise and had high expectations given our previous experience.
We had a Concierge class cabin on Deck 8, much quieter than those on deck 9, under the pool deck. Wonderful cabin staff and cabin was clean and well looked after during out occupation. Embarkation was fine at Bayonne Cruise terminal, even though by the time we got there after 1.30pm, there were large queues even in the priority boarding areas, it only took 30 minutes before we were onboard and enjoying our glass of champagne. We were escorted to our cabin as we had brought our luggage on board with us, as we had no luggage tags, and the luggage attendant at the cruise port were overrun and didnt have any either. Our cabin was available immediately and we unpacked and then found our table seating time was for 6pm, too early for us, so we went down to midships, where the San Marco Manager was able to put us with a table of 10 for the 8.30 pm seating with no problems. After this we had lunch from the buffet, caesar salad with fried southern chicken ( a bit dry) and then a delicious mango sorbet. The range of ice creams and sorbets available this trip was wonderful.
We left port finally at 6.30pm and went to the 7pm show, highlights of what was to come. Acapella choir, the Voice Males and the Celebrity Band and singers and dancers, all fantastic. This was one of the highlights of this trip as we found nearly all the entertainment first class, the best we have seen on board any ship and this was our 7th cruise.
Dining in San Marco that night was very good, crab and avocado salad, lamb shank with couscous and then creme brulee, all tasty and tender. However, over the 2 weeks, we found the food quality, taste and choice were very hit and miss. Our table waiter would try and guide us to the best choices, but when we decided outside his recommendations, most times we were very disappointed. Food came cool to lukewarm at best on cold plates most nights. Soup one night was wonderful and inedible a few nights later (either far too salty or cold). We thoroughly enjoyed the duck dish, the oysters with spinach and Parmesan (could be offered more than once a trip) Dover sole with shrimp mousse quenelles, but the steaks and some of the fish were inedible, tough and overcooked. The last formal night when lobster was on the menu, our waiters recommendation was for Mamma's home style pork chops!!!! No one chose them and we all wished we had, as the lobster was the worst we have ever tasted on board a ship, minute in size and largely inedible. A real let down on our final formal night - and this along the coast that serves up the best lobster at the cheapest prices that we have ever seen. We ate lobster and clam chowder every lunch time off the boat as it was such good value for money compared to Australian seafood prices. We ate breakfast and most lunches at sea in Aqua Spa Cafe and loved it. Its choice of light, tasty but healthy lunches were delicious. Breakfast too was very good, but could have been a little more diverse, with some extra things added over the 2 weeks rather than offering the same fare daily.
Wait staff here were wonderful and very kind to guests, one introducing us to another guest from Australia, who was travelling on her own. We struck up a great friendship and enjoyed comparing notes after drinks each evening before dinner or at lunch time. Our experience in the Ocean Liners restaurant was mixed. The food was really awe inspiring. Here we had a really wonderful lobster, choosing the scallop/salmon/prawn trio then Maine lobster bisque, both exquisite appetizers. Mains we both had surf and turf, a tender beautifully cooked filet mignon with a large lobster tail, then chocolate and grand marnier souffles for dessert. 5 stars for the food. The only criticism we had this time was we felt rushed and we had asked to have our courses served with decent intervals between (25 minutes), but even then the food came too early for us, making what should have been a long, slow evening meal of true enjoyment a very rushed and hurried affair. This is because they take the dessert order when you order your entree, thus leaving little room for space between courses, especially when cooking something like souffles. Go back to the old way of doing things in these restaurants, a long slow dining experience is what most of us are looking for, not a quick stuff you silly and get out parade!
Overall we really enjoyed the cruise and the ship, our only concerns were the food quality which has seriously deteriorated since our least Celebrity experience.