Cruised for the first time as a 25th Anniversary present to ourselves, and other than minor (really, really minor) issues, the cruise was great. We live in Orlando, and drove in to port the morning of the cruise, arrived early - and < ... Read More
Cruised for the first time as a 25th Anniversary present to ourselves, and other than minor (really, really minor) issues, the cruise was great. We live in Orlando, and drove in to port the morning of the cruise, arrived early - and < 30 minutes after stepping from the car we had embarkation mimosas in hand and were looking at the booths on deck 3.
We'd been advised that cross-selling was more prevalent than it used to be, and it did seem that every corner had someone offering a dinner package, a drink package, a spa package, etc, etc; learning to say 'no' came very quickly. We did purchase a dinner package (one dinner at the Tuscan restaurant, 2 at Ocean liners), and we had no complaints or issues at either restaurant, EXCEPT that the MDR food was *almost* as good and no additional cost. Based on the food quality in the MDR, i'd have a hard time justifying the cost for the dinner package on a future cruise.
Almost everyone we spoke with told us how 'brave' we were to make a Trans-Atlantic cruise as our first cruise ever - and we still marvel at that thinking. We had no time for boredom, always something going on; a show, a class, an auction, a drawing, meals...all great fun. Of all things, Bingo was disappointing. I'd be fine only playing 3 games a session if packages were, say, $20/person. But the packages were $40/60/80, and that's a bit pricey to play three games and leave - so that was a one and done experience. We were *slightly* disappointed in the karaoke songs options (lots of older music, which is fine considering the typical clients, some newer music) in that there were few musicals included (as in one - 'My Fair Lady' was the only one I find - no Phantom, no Cats, no Wicked, no other big name, recognizable musicals included; just seemed like an odd omission).
The ship ported in Madeira, Gibraltar, and Alicante before disembarking in Civitavecchia. We took none of the ship excursions, and so cannot comment on their quality - but can say the pricing seemed high. In Madeira we walked the town and had a great time, especially after 8 days at sea 8-). In Gibraltar we accepted a cab tour from a gentleman standing at the taxi stand, and once a group was gathered (maybe a 15 minute wait), we took off and definitely got our monies worth. He was informative, funny, knew his material and was easily understood. In Alicante I had arranged a Vow Renewal ceremony through a local company, and we met at Castillo de Santa Barbara - beautiful site and all went very smoothly. DO NOT look for cabs at the Castillo though, they don't seem to wait around there at all; expect to take the elevator from the Castillo to the beach and find one there, although it's a short walk to port shuttle from that point.
The entertainment was hit or miss, mostly hit for us. Jayne Curry was fantastic, and the highlight of the individual entertainers as far as we were concerned. The juggler/comedian Steve Carte was standard fare, without anything truly distinguishing his work from other juggler/comedians we'd seen busking in parks for many years now. The stand-up comedian lost us and we walked out when he presented a series of jokes (better performed and notably available on DVD and the internet) from Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall. Comedians stealing material is nothing new, but not such high visibility jokes and scenarios. Gemma Louise Doyle joined the ship in Madeira when Jayne left, and we lost in that trade; Gemma's singing is mostly pleasant, but she has little stage presence and no connection to the audience whatsoever. If we'd not been sitting in the 2nd row we'd have left.
The Stars of the Constellation preformed several shows as well, and several were VERY good (iHollywood and the new show Elyria), most were decent and (we felt) only one failed to live up to expectations. It was the fourth night at sea (can't remember the name or theme of the show) but the cast seemed tired or bored, and it showed in the performance - very rote with no energy. Later performances were much, much better 8-). Perhaps the timechanges affected them?
Our room itself (inside cabin 9018) was fine; small as expected, but plenty for two people not spending hours awake in the room. Hallway noise was non-existent, and we never heard anything from other passenger cabins. It IS next to a steward pantry, which apparently has metal stairs in it - you can hear the occasional steps being taken. It's also beneath the spa, and seemed to have drains from the spa area passing the walls, so you had the occasional water feature sounds coming from the walls. We found it relaxing (although it probably encouraged the odd nighttime bathroom trip or two), but I'm sure there are pickier travellers for whom these sounds might be disturbing.
Service was great, the crew friendly, the weather was all but perfect for the entire trip. We couldn't believe we were finally on a cruise, and now look to make it a habit.
A BIG recommendation: when the ship is heading to a new area (not back to the embarkation port), DO have language classes for the end point of the cruise! Celebrity put on ONE one hour Italian class right at the end of the trip, and all the conversation we heard though this not only should be standard fare, it should have started day one and continued right through the cruise! Just a marvelous idea. Read Less