After 20 cruises, it is very difficult for me to rate any cruise experience as the all time best in any category. However having said this, the Celebrity Constellation 4/09/11 cruise earns this award for excellent service provided by the entire crew. The attitude to please and attempt to exceed passengers’ expectations was very evident. It wasn’t just the cabin stewards or the waiters, but also the food servers, maintenance staff, shop attendants, photographers, musicians, entertainers, activity staff, senior officers and Captain. Every member of the staff was courteous and pleasant in every interaction. The Captain was quite personable and Cruise Director, Sue Denning was outstanding. Customer service starts at the top and this was pleasantly pervasive during the entire cruise.
The courtesy of the crew even influenced the behavior of the passengers who seemed generally more polite and friendly than those on many other cruises.
We were conveniently located on the 9th floor in between the middle and aft elevator banks and only one flight of stairs from the Seaside Café. The cabin was recently renovated and the cleanliness showed. On the second morning I told the cabin steward that the refrigerator felt a little warm, and by early afternoon it was inspected and replaced by maintenance staff. On the third day I mentioned that a bracket on a cabinet door was loose, but the door was still usable. It was repaired when I returned later that morning. Service was exceptionally responsive and attentive.
We were initially assigned to a large table for twelve, where it was very difficult to converse. The next day we telephoned to request reassignment and were easily moved to a smaller table for six. Once again dining room staff was very accommodating to a passenger request.
Dinners in the San Marco Restaurant were quite good. Nothing really outstanding, but an adequate menu was provided for each day. Meals were hot on arrival. Service was friendly and efficient.
The selection in the Seaside Café buffet was more varied than the dining room and provided many options even for picky eaters. Breakfast was very good, although predictable after several days of the same offering. The banana pancakes in the rear grill were outstanding. Lunch offerings were quite abundant although some curry dishes were a bit spicy. The stir fry station at dinner offered a change of pace. The stir fry chef was outstanding in cooking to your specific request.
Hamburgers and hot dogs in the Poolside Grill were cooked to order instead of sitting on a warmer. I did not try them but overheard that the barbecue ribs were very tasty.
Dining in the Tuscan Grill was very good, but, given that the food elsewhere was also quite good, did not seem extra special or worthy of a $30 per person additional charge. Service was very attentive and superb.
The crepes in Bistro on Five were very good. The desert crepe – Italian Nutella – was outstanding, and by itself well worth the $5 cover charge. Service was outstanding.
Ice cream in the Gelateria was very good, but not worth a fee compared to the free ice cream/sherbet available in the Seaside Cafe.
Late night pizza in the buffet was quite good. Juices and regular/skim milk were always available (a big plus over other cruise lines where it available only at breakfast and sometimes lunch.)
Overall, entertainment was average to average plus. A few performers were very good, but others were mediocre. The three shows with the Constellation Production Cast were not good (I almost fell asleep during one). Perry Grant was a unique experience; plan on attending at least one of his shows, but don’t sit in the front row, unless you want to be a focus of his humor. Cruise Director, Sue Denning, was outstanding as both a cruise director and entertainer. Don’t miss her One Woman Show.
Live music was provided by two good bands in either Rendez-Vous or Reflections. The dance floor in Reflections has a very poor (sticky) stainless steel surface. Between 7:00 - 7:45 and 9:00 – 9:45, when the shows are in progress in the Celebrity Theater, there is no live music. The DJ typically took over in Reflections about 11:30. He seemed to play a pre-selected sequence of music geared to a much younger age-group and had no sensitivity to the older crowd in the nightclub or the mood of those who were dancing.
Taken individually many experiences on this cruise were only average to good. However collectively with excellent service provided by all, this cruise is rated very good.