This was our first trip on Constellation since its Solstice upgrade. The improvements are very obvious and have made a very good traditional cruise ship much better.
Our trip to Istanbul was via Heathrow terminal 5 on British Airways. Excellent service before and during the flight was marred by the absolute chaos that is Ataturk airport. Previous visits to Turkey resulted in handing passport complete with new 10 note to immigration and hey presto you've arrived. This time everyone queued at immigration only to be told that visas were issued at another queue and then you had to return to the immigration queue. Once cleared, collect luggage, wait for the coach and then to the ship berthed alongside the quay in Istanbul.
Embarkation was fairly quick and once on board the usual key-cards with obligatory photograph was swiftly completed. Luggage was promptly delivered to the cabin within 30 minutes. Table reservations were checked and then off to view the changes to the ship.
The old card room has been replaced with the Martini bar and the flower shop is now the Tuscan Grill. The hole in deck 5 that allowed people to view dancing on deck 4 has gone which has resulted in the Bistro on 5 and Cellar Masters to share the space and the whole of deck 4 to become a general bar, meeting place for after dinner light entertainment.
The itinerary was one sea day to start and finish and a different port on all other days. Generally the ship docked around 0700 and left around 1800hrs which left plenty of time for either organised shore excursions or individual visits.
Day visits in Turkey included Istanbul. Bodrum, Kusadasi and Marmaris while Rhodes, Santorini, Athens and Souda in Crete provided the Greek ports of call.
Our dinner placement was on a table of eight. The company was excellent with lively discussion on most nights about places of interest and sights seen. Being all Elite members of the Celebrity Captains club gave access to Michael's club most evenings where old acquaintances were renewed and new friends were made.
Food was very good both in the main dining room and the buffet on deck 10.
Ok it can be crowded at peak times but overall the standard of both the venues and the food served was exceptional.
Entertainment was varied and although most shows had been seen previously the changes in cast members added additional enjoyment.
Overall the staff were superb. The crew went to extreme lengths to accommodate requests and it appeared that nothing was too much trouble. The senior officers were approachable, hospitable and very attentive to all passengers needs.
Overall we consider this cruise to have probably been one of the best we have experienced and it is our intention to travel again on this superb ship in the very near future.