The Constellation Ship and Crew
The Constellation is a beautiful ship with a wonderful staff, excellent cuisine and incredible entertainment. The hefty remodel did not disappoint! We enjoyed relaxing on the "bubble beds" of the indoor pool. The jets in that pool are excellent after a long day of walking!
Our room was quite spacious for a basic inside cabin. It was very quiet as well. The only downfall was that the pullout bed blocked the path to the bathroom and the door. I was surprised at how comfortable my pullout bed was!
The entire crew was really top notch. Everyone was so friendly and had no problem stopped to chat with his or her guests. Understandably this is part of their job however they never made you feel that way.
We were pleasantly surprised to see our Cruise Director, Rich, greeting us each morning at our ports of call and upon our return we were even more surprised to see Rich joined by the Officers and even the Captain to welcome us back onboard! The Officers were even helping serve at the brunch during our day at sea! We also saw Rich, Mike (Activities Director) and the Officers around the ship quite often talking with guests. These "simple" acts spoke volumes!
We had an excellent stateroom assistant, Tinneson, who greeted us each morning and evening. In the evenings he would often open our door for us and did an excellent job keeping our beds maid and room tidy. Antonio are main stateroom attendant was very good as well.
We looked forward to our dinners each evening. Not only did we have good food, we had great dinner companions but an excellent wait staff as well. If you have the pleasure of Daniel (from the Philippines) as your headwaiter, listen to his advice as to what to order each night. He never stirred us wrong! Daniel assistant was wonderful as well!
To have a tour of the bridge was a treat and a highlight! The gentleman from Poland who showed us the bridge did a wonderful job. He was very informative and quite funny as well!
The entertainment, again top notch! The entertainment is usually one of the highlights of a cruise for me and the Constellation did not disappoint! Lindsay Hamilton (West End star) and Carl Andrews (comedian/magician) were both fantastic! The Cast of the Constellation were all incredible! We could have been watching a West End show the singers and dancers had such talent!
My favorite entertainment for this cruise was the Acappella group The High C's! These four young men from Georgia, USA could SING! And make you laugh! We had the pleasure of listening to them four times through our cruise and I liked them so much I brought their CD home with me!
The buffet had a great variety from around the world for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For dinner, we liked the fact that there were two menus to choose from. The "favorites" were available each night and then the daily specials. The escargot and French Onion soup appetizers were favorites among our table. The meat dishes were always fabulous! The cut was always really nice and the preparation perfect. The pasta sauces were a bit bland however I think that is partly due to having to please the masses. We prefer lots of herbs and spices in our sauces but this may not be everyone taste. So, if you are like us, go with the meat selection and not the pasta. Don't forget to save room for desert!!! OH THEY WERE GOOD!!!
The Cellar Master...oh how we miss this lovely wine bar. Who ever came up with the concept was a genius! We also enjoyed the entertainment of watching a Champaign bottle being opened with a Saber!!!
Ports of Call
I do have to say that I will not being taking another cruise where half of the places of interest are an hour or more away from the port. For a family of three taking a trip like this on a budget, we took the public transportation to reach Monaco, Florence and Rome.
In Monaco, the trains were on strike so a public bus was the only option. With 2 cruise ships in the harbor, our ship being full, coming back from Monaco was a nightmare. Poring down rain, there was no queue to get on the bus so people were pushing from all directions (not fun when you are short!). People were getting on the bus and buying tickets for people in the back of the line. Those people were then cramping there way forward. We ended up being separated in the chaos. If the capacity were say 50, I would say we had 80 on the bus. The worst part was the bus driver kept stopping and picking more people up! Needless to say, the hour bus ride back to Ville France, smashed in a bused with fogged windows was not pleasant. Advise when going to Ville France if there is a strike, stay in Ville France or go to Nice, which is apparently only 15 minutes on the bus.
In Livorno, 5 cruise ships in that day. To take the Celebrity transportation from Livorno, to Pisa and onto Florence would have cost us $90 per person ($270 for 3). It cost us a total of 20 Euro on the train! Going to Florence was not a problem. Coming back we ran into the same thing in every port of call. Everyone from all the ships were on the last possible train that would arrive back to the port city in time for the ships departure. We were luck and were able to get seats. For a lot of people it was standing room only for the 1:45 hour trip back to Livorno.
Rome was the same type of train return as Livorno. The only difference was this train was a double-decker even more crammed with people and several upset locals. I feel for the locals trying to commute home but it was still not fun being yelled at in Italian. We were between two cars for this hour-long journey. Someone did a head count, 42 people including two small children were cramped into this space. You could not move. Again, we could have paid the $90 per person to take the Celebrity transport into Rome.
Other than the public transport nightmares, Monaco was very pretty. We were able to see some mini go-carts of sorts race, which was a lot of fun. This was my second time to Florence and third to Rome. We all enjoyed the beauty of Florence and in Rome the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel were the highlight.
The other two ports of call were Genoa and Naples. In Genoa the city had some pretty things to see but overall, the city was just ok. We enjoyed ourselves but I don't think it is a city we would go back too. Maybe if the weather had been better and we ventured out further we would have a different opinion. Capri on the other hand was gorgeous! We all enjoyed our day in Capri very much!
Overall, the trip was enjoyable. With such heavy ports of call, we didn't get to enjoy the ship as much as we could have. The long days were quite exhausting. However, for my parent's first trip to Europe, this was the way to go. After this, I think we will take cruises with fewer ports of call and highlights close to the port so that we can relax on the ship more!