My husband, my sister and I, age range 45 to 60 cruised on Constellation Oct. 16 to 23, 2010.
We are not first time cruisers. First time on Constellation.
Our past cruises mostly Celebrity mid size ships, always balcony cabins
Cruise selection based mostly on itinerary and dates rather than the ship.
The review & opinions expressed below stem from our personal perception, thus highly subjective.
This is a port-intense itinerary, so there were many services that we did not have time or reason to experience. Services such as spa, art auction, wine cellar, specialty restaurants, cafes, accupunture, botox, teeth whitening, etc…
Summary of our likes and dislikes of Celebrity Constellation experience:
• Room service was fantastic! We ordered coffee early in the morning, and it was delivered to our room, with a smile, every time!
• The embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and swift, No fuss or hassle.
• Not many loud announcements during the day.
• Some Specials, promotions are done on print, rather than loud hawking throughout the ship.
• Friendly, Hardworking staff. Always YES to requests.
• The lounges feel more intimate and comfortable. (love the chairs!)
• GYM is spacious, and the trainers are friendly. (have had experience before where the trainers express their disapproval when I use the floor space without joining their paying classes.)
• Almost daily, my sister used the equipment in the gym, found it adequate.
• Love the brunch!
• The Salt water Adult Pool!
• The renovation really updated the feel of the ship.
• History / art lecture , seminar onboard by Mary (forgot her last name.)
• Love the hot sauna in the woman’s change room!
• Cabin was smaller than Princess, even with all the large mirrors in the room.
• Noises from the deck above (cafeteria) early in the morning
• Too much selling
• VAT added to every purchase, to every service
• No Free Specialty coffee at dinner
On sea day, the pool areas were full, which is expected. unoccupied lounge chairs were difficult to find. However, there were many chairs with only beach towels; probably forgotten or the passengers just left them there assuming the crew will pick them up. I decided to grab one lounge chair with a beach towel. Should someone shows up to claim this seat, I would simply move. No one did. I sat and read for 3 hours.
Main Room Dining has always been a significant part of our cruise experience; This is the first time that we did not enjoy our dining as our previous Celebrity cruises.
Food--our seared Tuna, no matter how raw we ordered was way over-cooked. Over-cooked tuna was just too dry. To me, it was wasted. We love Tuna! It was a valiant attempt . Searing Tuna perfectly on this mass scale, to me, is next to impossible.
The personable service provided by the same waiter and assistant for our entire cruise is something we look forward to. We did not receive that during this cruise.
My personal observation is that the staff are stretched and stressed. And we felt it. They could not devote the time for that personal & individual attention that my husband and I really enjoyed.
Even with the same nightly requests, we still had a mix up: decaffeinated coffee was mixed with caffeinated coffee (sleepless night). The rhythm between the courses and water or coffee refilling were interrupted frequently.
An experience with our wine steward maybe worth mentioning: he brought a new bottle of wine to us (we bought a package.), put it on our table, and left without opening the bottle. After 20 minutes or so, and several attempts of flagging him, we finally had to ask a "supervisor." A waiter from another table opened the bottle for us. The wine steward was then sent over to our table to “explain” why he did not open the wine, rather than the straight truth: he forgot. When we dismissed his phoney reasons (our meal has not started), he then changed his tune, and apologized. By then, he did not seem sincere, and was talking too much. We just wanted to enjoy our wine and dinner.
The supervisor did come over after and made sure everything was set straight.
Sad to say, after that incident, no one from our table wanted to order drinks from that wine steward.
REVIEW OF PORTS
This was a port-intense itinerary and the reason we chose this cruise.
We really luck out—with the exception of Nice, the weather was fantastic! Everyday was warm and sunny!
Barcelona--We stayed a few days in Barcelona pre and post cruise. Montserrat is definitely worth a visit. A note on the train schedule: The published train schedules did not necessary correspond to their actual schedules. Our supposedly 7:36am train departed at 7:22am. We thought we were on the wrong train. Even the attendant did not know the actual time.
We did not join any tour in Barcelona, we find the city easy to navigate by ourselves. We walked a lot. While walking the city, we “discovered” many pleasant surprises such as local craft and food markets, irresistible bakeries, charming cafes…
We watched our belongings very carefully, so the pick pocket did not take advantage of us. My husband did observe the network of “scammers”, promoting the shell game. There were 7 of them working together.
There were so much to see and absorb. Long but fulfilling days. These are the places where I believe no words can take the place of actually being there experiencing, smelling, touching, seeing, tasting…
Being our first time visiting these places, we could not imagine getting to all those sites, without a local guide / driver. Time is limited. The traffic, the crowds, the line ups in these places were unbelievable, and I was told the summers are even worse.
We booked 3 tours, all private, and with Fabrizio of Allarounditaly (allarounditaly.net) in Livorno, Civitavecchia, and Naples.
Our tour driver/guide, Fabrizio was great and funny and knowledgeable. And he cares. To avoid long line ups, he helped us reserved tickets to Academic, and got us to purchase tickets in advance to the Vatican. The valuable time we saved from line up was spent admiring David, and the Sistine Chapel instead. One of our dining companions toured with the cruise line, waited in line for Vatican ticket, and did not have time to admire the Sistine Chapel.
Via Cruise Critic roll call (wonderful place to get information and get companions!), we got together with 4 other fellow passengers. 7 of us formed our own tour group. I think it was the perfect size. We shared 3 long tour days, and really enjoyed each other’s company! We had tons of laughter and fun! We also had our alone time. I think it worked out very well.
One of the high light for me was visiting a winery on our way to Florence. It was situated on top of rolling hill, perfect illustration of Tuscany.
The “retail” space was a tiny front office. I can tell this is an actual working winery, not a “tourist shopping destination”: we were the only people there; the “salesperson” putting the labels on the bottles as we purchased; and somewhat annoyed workers pushing wheel barrels around us intrusive tourists! What a wonderful place to pick up organic virgin olive oil, organic honey, and of course, wine!
We did not feel pressure to buy. In fact, we genuinely like to purchase more had they not run out! I could have bought a few more bottles of their famous organic extra virgin olive oil!
Amalfi Coast is just breath-taking! It should be on everyone’s bucket list, in my opinion. Sorrento, Positano are on our WILL-VISIT-AGAIN list.
We enjoyed cruising, and visiting new places. And this trip encompass both.
As I heard one passenger said, “the worst day on a cruise still beats any day at home!" We whole-heartedly agree!