First the Ugly!
The Constellation from the outside is the ugliest cruise ship I've been on. It looks like it's been built using Lego bricks and the colour scheme reminded me of a car ferry, particularly from behind.
We had dreadful weather in Monaco and more rain in Genoa and Livorno. It did however greatly improve for Rome, Naples and our last sea day before returning to Barcelona.
Inside the ship the dEcor, carpets, furniture and fittings were the best I've seen and were really classy. It had a refit back in May and everything still looked fresh and new.
As for the service this was easily the best we've ever experienced and food was superior too even against Princess which has been my favourite cruise line. We tried a speciality restaurant (The Tuscan Grill at $30 extra each) and the whole experience was better than any gourmet restaurant I've tried on land.
Compared with the Princess "Grand" class ships we thought the inside of the Constellation would be noticeably smaller but it wasn't at all. The only obvious difference was the absence of a dedicated night club. Constellation has a show lounge called Reflections which doubles up for this after midnight. In the day time this was also a nice lounge to sit in with its panoramic windows over the bridge and sides.
The choice of public areas to socialise in was very impressive and we tried all of them (the Martini ice bar is something else!) but found ourselves mostly in Reflections after each night's Theatre show which we were able to see having chosen 1st sitting. If you like ballroom/Latin dancing then you won't ever be disappointed. By the way the magician Carl Andrews was just amasing with his "slight of hand" show.
The night life was so good that we never went to bed before 1 am and even stayed up until 2.45 am! The activities team worked tirelessly to ensure the passengers were entertained and were such a friendly bunch we soon got to know all their names. The dancers/singers were also excellent and their shows in Reflections with passenger interaction were their best.
Other points were mentioning that set Celebrity apart from P&O, RCCL and Princess include a champagne welcome on embarkation, and complimentary umbrella's placed in our cabin. A line of senior crew would also greet you back on board at each port call and overall the crew were always polite, friendly and keen to offer assistance. Captain Gerry was also visible around the ship giving a lecture, posing for pictures on the second formal night and listening appreciatively to the Acapella boys singing in one of the bars.
Having had our main cruise holiday back in June aboard Emerald Princess this cruise was a last minute holiday and by far exceeded our expectations. There was a great mix of nationalities with the Brits and Yanks being the majority and for a one week cruise this has to be one of the friendliest we've ever had.
I had half hoped it wouldn't be as good as Princess but it was so now I have a dilemma when choosing our next cruise.