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2 Celebrity Constellation Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Europe - Black Sea

We just returned from the Sept. 20th 2014 cruise thru/around the Black Sea and what a disappointment.! We sailed about 18 months ago on the Solstice from Dubai to Singapore and expected a similar experience on the Solsticized ... Read More
We just returned from the Sept. 20th 2014 cruise thru/around the Black Sea and what a disappointment.! We sailed about 18 months ago on the Solstice from Dubai to Singapore and expected a similar experience on the Solsticized Constellation. Lets begin.... Celebrity after much delay finally amended the ports due to the crisis in the Ukraine. They hyped the new ports as if we were going to the most exciting,wonderful destinations..After returning home and rereading the letters from Celebrity-we started laughing at the promotion of this cruise ! We boarded without any real problems in Istanbul and within several hours our baggage was delivered to our cabin.We booked Concierge and were on the 8th deck. The cabin was fairly spacious and had adequate storage. The bathroom was what one would expect on a ship,but the shower was surprisingly large and almost like a normal size shower at home. Our room attendant -Desmond was great and always available to asset in any needs or answer any questions. Celebrity has done away with small things that obviously reduce costs. No longer do you get chocolates on your pillow each evening or those humorous animal creations using a towel-no big deal..afternoon canapés wee the same non descript greasy or salty tidbits and the fresh fruit each day was tired looking apple,pear and orange with no variety ever. The ship itself seemed tired and showing some wear and tear. Several of our fellow cruisers complained of mold in the bathrooms,obvious signs of chipped paint in hallways and worn bannisters in several areas. We also experience a terrible 'raw sewage'-to be polite smell coming from at least one or two cabins on the aft side and that aroma lasted three or more days before we wised up and walked to and from our cabin in another direction. The food in the MDR was OK -nothing really great and their Indian Vegetarian selections were awful not just to Indian couples but to our selves and others who attempted to eat the entrees. The buffet menu at nighttime seemed OK and at least offered more choices to dine. We ate several evenings in the Specialty Restaurant -Oceans ? and there the decor,service and quality of food,etc was worth the $ 55 par head charges.It is very similar to Murano on the Solistice if I am correct. As an example of Celebrity'sd cost cutting--at breakfast in the MDR jellys,preserves were provided in those little packets that one will see in a neighborhood diner and if you requested Ketschup for your eggs,in lieu of it being provided to you via severing dish or a Ketchup bottle,the server would stand over you and drop a serving on your plate and disappear. Whatever happened to the supposed upscale Celebrity experience that is so highly touted ? Entertainment was what one would expect on a cruise,nothing to talk about-in some cases like watching a rerun of the old Ed Sullivan shows ! We opted out of taking any of the overpriced,crowded and basic,pablum tours continually being hawked by Celebrity and joined with other cruisers in doing our own planning and booking. Now about the ports.... Athens,Ephesus and Mykonos were wonderful and whether it was your first time or the 10th visit,these locations never fail to please. But as far as Burgas,Varna,Constanta,Trabzon and Sinop--3rd rate stops and in some cases looked as if WWII just ended and the devastation,ruins were just beginning to be addressed. Constanta in particular is a real dump and in several other stops,some of the women from the ship felt very unsafe just browsing in the local shops.There is a reason that most of the cruise lines have bypassed these ports in the past and have mostly avoided them even now. In at least one port,we were the first Western ship of our size to ever visit and once you looked around you could understood why ! There always was a church or monastery to visit or a local museum or garden,but they were not major 'must sees' on any travel magazine or travel sites ... The obvious reason for their inclusion had to be Celebrity not being able to at a decent-read cheap cost price other availability of ports and Celebrity's marketing dept. attempting to maximize their expenses at our detriment. Several passengers wondered why we did not go instead to Gallipoli and Troy-maybe then it would have meant renaming the cruise as a Greek Isles cruise and not a Black Sea one. Bottom line- many passengers voiced very similar complaints and perhaps those of us griping aloud have come to expect a level of service that Celebrity is unable or willing to provide.If one wanted to sail on Carnival and receive that type of experience -why the necessity of paying the higher booking costs ? WE are already committed to sailing in the beginning of January on the Infinity from Buenos Aires to Santiago and approach the cruise with trepidation and major concerns. I just hope we do not have the same experience on board. At least we know the ports are acceptable... I am fairly certain that regardless of this upcoming cruise,it will be the last time we sail with Celebrity.I would rather pay a little more and receive the quality that is advertised and expected... As afinalcomment,please be aware that the overwhelming majority of your fellow passengers will be in their mid 70's + and also the dress attire is dismissed by too many of the passengers even on the so called'formal nights'..Ido not relish the idea of eating next to individuals who look as if they would be not out of place in a cafeteria setting and unfortunately dress for dinner exactly that way ! Others may express a totally different view of all that I have written-but that is up to you the reader to analyze.. a blue collar individual even if they have achieved success financially will still present themselves accordingly and sad to say do not expect or have failed to experience 'fine dining' and a level of sophistication promised but seldom delivered ! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I’ve read the three preceding reviews of the Black Sea cruise we just completed, and while I don’t doubt the veracity of those reports or the feelings that prompted them, I’m compelled to present a very different report. In short, we ... Read More
I’ve read the three preceding reviews of the Black Sea cruise we just completed, and while I don’t doubt the veracity of those reports or the feelings that prompted them, I’m compelled to present a very different report. In short, we had an excellent experience. Although the delayed boarding was unfortunate, given that Celebrity was doing its best to cleanse the ship of the Norovirus, our reaction was “take all the time you need.” In fact, we appreciated all of the safety measures taken, and we assume that’s why the number of cases on our cruise was vastly reduced from the previous group. That said, we were among the first to board and had the Oceanview Café to ourselves for about 20 minutes while the staff doted on us (this was the result of chance, not any personal connections or star status on our part). Our room was very nice and the service provided by Gwen (our “butler”—still loving that, although I would have preferred that he change his name to “Jeeves”) and Suhas (our steward) were unceasingly attentive and immediately responsive to the few requests we made. I can’t imagine any better service than what they provided. In that regard, we were really impressed with the friendliness and service level of every staff member we encountered. A special shout out goes to Natalia in the Gelateria. After Day Two, she would call us out by name (kind of like “Norm!” on Cheers, I suppose) and was fun to talk to while she dished up our latest calorie bombs. I’d regard the food service overall as very good, even though it started off questionably. We were assigned to dine by ourselves at a location that was hilariously awful: the first table against the wall as one enters the Main Dining Room, and next to the kitchen entrance as well as the Maître D’s stand. At that table, one can dine while heavy laden waiters brush past, expectant diners hover nearby, and an overworked headwaiter deals with the usual issues. While we were waiting for our appetizers, bemoaning our outcast state, I got up and approached the Maître D, and began gently with, “You know, I don’t think this table is going to work for us…”, but before I could finish my entreaty the guy shook his head and said, “That’s terrible. Come with me….” He cancelled our order and took us up to the dining room’s higher level and told the head guy there that he was changing us to Anytime Dining and we should be given the best table available. Never another problem after that. Over the ensuing eleven nights, we dined multiple times in each of the main dining room, Tuscan Grill (loved the Ravioli Ripieni con Carne Brasata di Manzo and the chocolate and pistachio crème brulee—can’t remember the exact name as by the dessert course I was in a food coma), Ocean Liners, Blu and The Bistro on Five, and enjoyed all of them. The food in the main dining room was only good- to very good, but fine considering the volume they have to meet. And recognizing that after 40 years of marital bliss the conversation can sometimes lag a bit between us, we usually requested dining companions and we were always given two or more really interesting people to dine with. We ended up eating multiple times with a few couples and it was a highlight of the trip. As a form of repentance, we used the fitness center and track often. The center has a good selection of resistance and cardio machines and a fair selection of free weights. Most users were careful to wipe down after use, and we saw the staff wiping down everything frequently. The track is decent, but best utilized before 8 am or so. The evening’s entertainment was always good if not particularly great, although the violinist was exceptionally talented and the Man from Mars and his amazingly limber wife (“Okay, I’ll stop staring, honey…”) were very entertaining. One beef: I hate it when Emcees call out things like “Are you having a good time????” and similarly banal inquiries obviously intended to evoke a big round of applause. Hey, if I like the show, I’ll clap enthusiastically. I’d like to organize a group response along the lines of “WELL, IT WAS JUST OK…” but that’ll have to wait for another cruise. We really enjoyed the shore excursions, all but one of which we arranged privately. By doing so we got to know several couples in advance and developed friendships with several that will endure well beyond the trip. And if anyone doubted that ship-based excursions include a hefty surcharge, consider that for the Odessa Ballet we attended, the ship’s charge would have been around $120 each and seats would have been in the middle or back of the theater (great opera house, btw). Planning ahead, we purchased Row 3 seats for $30. True, my purchase didn't include bus transportation to and from the theater, but we saved 2 x $90 by walking to and from the ship, an enjoyable stroll down Primorsky Boulevard and the Potemkin Steps, much less than a mile. It was an outstanding itinerary we’ll recommend to anyone interested. And despite a couple of hiccups, which were immediately resolved, we thought Celebrity did an excellent job under difficult conditions. We’ll be back.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Celebrity Constellation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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