This was our first ever cruise and we chose to sail the Constellation simply because it sailed from Amsterdam and seeing we live in the Netherlands, this was the perfect departure point. Moreover, travelling with a 10-month-old, it was the obvious choice.
When we checked in, we were given a sheet of paper with some information, but it wasn't until we had sat down with some fellow Cruise Critics that we understood that there was a virus on board the Constellation. The Norovirus had decided to rear its ugly head on the cruise prior to ours and all the staff on board the Connie were working hard to clean her up. In the meantime, all passengers were given a lunch bag with a sandwich, juice, muffin and chocolate bar to eat. Bottled water was also available for those who wanted that. Finally at 3:00pm boarding began and it seemed to have gone rather smoothly. We were informed that the staterooms weren't ready, so we had to stay in the public areas. The complementary drink when entering was a good way to start the cruise. When the staterooms were given the all clear, we were able to get our stuff settled in and just had to wait to go to supper. Our luggage arrived during the course of the evening.
Supper in the MDR (San Marco) was exceptional! The chefs certainly know what they are doing, although I felt that the pasta was a bit too overcooked. As an Italian, I can be rather picky about how pasta is prepared. Other than that, all the other food was beyond my expectations.
The staff were all very friendly, helpful and more than willing to talk to us. It also helped that they all loved our daughter and did everything to shower her with attention. They would entertain her when we ate. Our stateroom attendant was also very quick to help us when we needed him. I don't think we could have survived the 2 or 3 episodes of baby vomit on the bed if he hadn't changed the sheets so quickly.
The activities on board was very well organised. There was so much to do and so much variety in what they offered. There was simply not enough time to participate in all the activities. I had heard from the Cruise Director, Allan King, that someone complained about there being too many trivia games offered, but I felt the offer was good enough.
The live shows and bands were amazing! I absolutely loved hearing Free-4-All, the ship's a capella group. The 4 young men are very talented and have amazing voices. As for the singers and dancers, one word: WOW! The shows simply took my breath away. Finally, I loved the other live shows offered (Ric Ceisler and Livewire).
Despite the Norovirus, which had gripped quite a few cruisers on our cruise, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. I was very satisfied with the extra precautions taken to minimise the spread of the virus, although it is not entirely possible to stop it from going around. I was just so relieved that my 10-month-old didn't catch it. We were spared. The crew did their best to inform us of how best to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. Hats off to them.
My husband and I agree that the cruise made a lasting impression on us, even if the ports of call passed by in a blur. I've made many friends on board the Connie and hope one day to return to meet with them again!