First, the good news: the crew on the Constellation was the friendliest of any cruise we have been on. They always greeted us and were helpful in promptly providing assistance when requested. Sue, the cruise director, and entertainer Perry were excellent. Many of the crew members often were hard to communicate with because of their limited English skills, but a little patience solved any problems.
The entertainment was generally good, about what one would expect. It was so pleasant not to have a cruise director that constantly made often-trivial announcements over the public address system (this happened on our last HA cruise). Embarkation and dis-embarkation procedures were a breeze, best we have ever experienced.
Food: a mixed bag. The beef, as reported by previous cruisers, was of mixed quality. Sometimes o.k., other times very tough. We found the pizza, which others have said they liked, quite tasteless. And the veal cordon bleu served one night was unlike any such dish I have ever seen or tasted, but other passengers seemed o.k. with it. Overall I would say the cuisine was a bit below "cruise average."
Dress code: what dress code? All but three nights were listed as "smart casual." Very casual would describe what actually was worn, especially by men. At night, we dined on the fourth deck, early fixed seating. The rush to enter the dining room at 6 p.m. reminded me of visiting New York City and watching the 5 p.m. mob rush toward the subways. Suits and sport coats were rare, collared sports shirts common, and frequently some men wore the type of T-shirts you would expect to see on a beach. On the formal nights, I estimate fewer than 10 percent of the men wore tuxedos (I quit that years ago). Maybe since this was a repositioning cruise it was more casual. But more likely the baggage fees being imposed by the airlines are continuing to accelerate the trend toward more casual clothing.
Our FV cabin, 7199, was fine, and the 242-square-foot balcony was wonderful, although cool weather often prevented us from fully enjoying it. Our cabin attendants were cheerful, prompt and helpful.
The ports: average. Renting a car in Cherbourg and visit the D-Day beaches and American cemetery was the highlight for me. I wish the Azores stop had been in scenic Madeira instead of Ponta Delgada. Lisbon was interesting, and although the stop in Dover didn't allow time to visit London, it was a nice little town with friendly residents. We don't like tours but we did book the see-Paris-on-your-own bus tour from LeHave; it was a bit rushed but this was unavoidable because of the distance involved. (I had asked the tour desk twice if there would be a rest stop on the 2.5 hour bus trip to Paris, and was told both times yes, there would be. There wasn't. But to our surprise, the bus did have a toilet.)
The low value of the American dollar was dramatically illustrated by the on-shore prices everywhere we went. For example, my wife found a Guess purse in Holland priced at nearly three times what it sells for in the U.S.
Now the bad. There were perhaps more than the normal cruise aggravations, such as an awful mattress, a sliding glass door that Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle to open and close, loose tile in the shower, shower tiles that were mildewed, a TV that quit working, and a few others. Most of these were promptly fixed when we reported them.
But the really disgusting thing was a toilet that repeatedly would not flush. This happened on at least seven occasions. The plumber told us aft cabins on decks 7, 8 and 9 were affected, apparently because passengers kept ignoring the written notice to flush only toilet paper (not Kleenex-type tissues and other stuff) in the toilet. (As one previous poster has described it, the toilet paper is "molecular-thin," an accurate description. Reminds me of what was provided in most European hotels in the 1950s). The plumber did his best but the problem kept occurring. I suggested to him that perhaps he should bring a bed and sleep nearby in the hall rather than having to make repeated trips to fix the problems.
Obviously some people will just ignore the instructions on what to and not to flush, so why Celebrity doesn't take this into account in design of the plumbing system is a mystery to us. We had never have had such a continuing problem on any other cruise ship. This kept us from rating the cruise higher.