This was the first time Jet, Set, Sail departed from Cardiff and the airport is certainly not yet set up for this type of cruise package. We'd checked out the private terminal/lounge at Stansted on the Internet and realised that ... Read More
This was the first time Jet, Set, Sail departed from Cardiff and the airport is certainly not yet set up for this type of cruise package. We'd checked out the private terminal/lounge at Stansted on the Internet and realised that Cardiff couldn't compete so our expectations were low. Free parking was allocated at Cardiff airport. Check in was very easy with dedicated desks. We were told we'd be fast-tracked through security and that we would be able to go directly through to the gate where we would be served refreshments before boarding. However, the fast-track lane was closed as the airport was "quiet". We were then stopped at security to go through the scanner which hadn't been calibrated so it couldn't be used but we were still kept waiting for quite a while. We were then denied access to the gate as "they weren't ready for us", despite passengers having already gone through. As a result there were a number of irate passengers. We waited for about 35 minutes in the main terminal before being allowed to go to the gate. Once through there were plenty of pastries along with tea, coffee, juices and Prosecco on offer.
Initially the JSS (Jet, Set, Sail) cruises were marketed as using a private jet providing a business class experience, this was then "downgraded" to Premium Economy. Unfortunately, this has been over-hyped, basically the plane is a 737-300 chartered from Titan Airways. We were allowed a generous 25kg of luggage. The flight was comfortable but I'm not sure we had 31" of leg room as was advertised. A hot breakfast was served with tea, coffee and juice but some passengers complained that there were no alcoholic drinks offered. Service was very good and the crew very pleasant.
On arrival at Barcelona we had to wait for almost an hour for our luggage to arrive on the carousel, then we had to queue up to give our names to the Celebrity representatives and pass our luggage to the porters to transport to the ship. Some passengers thought that once their luggage was checked in at Cardiff they would not see it again until it was delivered to the cabin on the ship. We were escorted to the coach for transfer to Celebrity Constellation where check in went very smoothly.
As usual with Celebrity once on board we were greeted by friendly smiles and offered a glass of "bubbly". Due to the delay at the airport our cabins were ready for us and after a light lunch at the Oceanview Cafe we found that our luggage had been delivered to our cabin. We opted for an oceanview cabin on deck 7 forward which was situated in a very quiet part of the ship in a short corridor with only cabins on the decks above and below, so it was very peaceful each time we returned to ours after a busy day. We had a short walk to the lift to go three floors up to Reflections or three floors down to the Theatre but on the whole we chose to take the stairs. The MDR was a bit of a trek to the aft of the ship on decks 4 and 5 after all it is quite a large ship.
The Constellation had a refit earlier in the year but as we hadn't sailed on her for many years we couldn't compare the recent before and after transformation. I wasn't impressed with the main pool deck as the loungers were very uncomfortable if you used them all day on a sea day. It's a while since we sailed on one of the larger ships and found the number of passengers using the pool deck rather overwhelming. We were like sardines but, in fairness to the Pool Butlers, they always managed to "squeeze in" more loungers for guests who wanted to be near the pools. We experienced extremely high temperatures and wonderful, sunny days and, while on board, staff regularly distributed ice cold facecloths and, on occasion, fruit skewers - it was a nice touch.
The loungers in the Thalassotherapy indoor pool were much more comfortable and it was quite peaceful in there compared to the hustle and bustle of the main pool deck.
We chose select dining so we could choose the time at which we wanted to eat. The time varied very slightly each evening but we never had to queue for a table because we made a point of booking for the next night with the lady at the desk on our way out of the MDR. Meals were very good and there was something to suit everyone. Our waiter, Bob, was brilliant, as soon as he knew what we liked he was able to recommend particular meals and tell us if he thought we might not enjoy what we had initially chosen. If he thought the portions looked a little small he brought extra for a particular person or for us to share.
We ate at one of the speciality restaurants, the Tuscan Grill, which has a variety of Italian/steak meals on offer. We enjoyed what we had ordered and found the staff there to be very attentive. Actually, we found the staff on board very friendly, attentive and, in the main, very efficient.
A Classic drinks package was included in the price we paid so we never had to purchase water or soft drinks. Alcoholic drinks up to the value of $9 per drink were included. If we wanted anything more expensive we had to pay the difference plus an 18% service charge on top.
We had a slight problem with our booking but after speaking to the staff at Guest Relations we were able to come to a satisfactory solution. Guest Relations staff were fantastic, they left messages on our cabin phone checking that everything was now ok and asking if they could do any more to help us.
Great itinerary, overnight at Valencia, then on to Livorno, Civitavecchia, Kotor, Split and another overnight in Venice. We were only tendered once, at Kotor in Montenegro as it's a very small port and another ship was moored right alongside the old town. Tender service was well organised and efficient but it took around 20 minutes to reach the port. Luckily, sea conditions throughout the cruise were fantastic, the sea was so calm, at times it was like glass. This gave us the opportunity to easily spot marine life such as dolphins, manta rays and, jellyfish.
We only booked one excursion as we'd been to all the ports before. We chose the Game of Thrones and Medieval old town Split tour. We were driven by coach to Klis fortress which was around 20 minutes from Split. The guide was very knowledgeable about the fortress itself and also about the TV series, part of which was filmed there. From there we returned to Split and were taken to the Diocletian Palace which was built by the Roman Emperor, Diocletian. The guide provided us with lots of interesting information and also explained which parts of the palace were used in the filming of Game of Thrones. We then walked through the old town which is part of the palace grounds and where further filming took place. We enjoyed our time at Split and are planning to return for a short break.
In Valencia, Livorno and Venice the ship was moored quite a way from the centre of the cities so shuttle buses/boats were provided at a cost of around 20 per person for a return journey. At Civitavecchia the shuttle bus was provided by the local authority and not chartered by Celebrity. Split was the only place that could be accessed on foot directly from the port.
Entertainment throughout the ship was very good with a variety of activities provided. The production shows were very good, however a couple of the Celebrity singers were a bit out of tune. Guest artists included Jane Curry who has a great voice and is a very funny lady. Oil Nez was excellent, he plays a number of wind instruments and is very entertaining and interacts well with the audience.
Our return flight was scheduled at 2.25pm from Venice airport. We were concerned that we would be forced to disembark by 9am and then be "abandoned" at the airport. However, those travelling on JSS received an invitation from the Guest Relations Manager, Milana Dortangs, to a disembarkation presentation in Reflections. During this presentation she was very thorough, detailing exactly what to expect on the morning of disembarkation. She was available for questions from guests at the end.
On the day of departure guests could remain in Cellar Masters/Sushi on a Five to wait for their disembarkation time slots. Refreshments were provided throughout the morning and a member of staff distributed quiz sheets with crosswords/sudoku to those who required something to pass the time. When time slots were announced a member of staff escorted a group to the lift and down to the exit. We were guided to where our luggage was situated and escorted to our coaches. On arrival at Venice airport we were met by Celebrity representatives who supplied trolleys for our luggage. Again, we were escorted to the check in and guided towards security. It was extremely well organised and slick.
The return flight was slightly delayed but that didn't cause us too much trouble as we had a car parked at Cardiff airport. We were served a hot meal followed by dessert along with a choice of soft drinks, beer, red or white wine and tea or coffee. It was the best in-flight meal we had in years. Again the crew were very pleasant and helpful.
On return to Cardiff we had to show our boarding pass to staff who then provided a ticket to insert at the barrier to allow us to exit the car park.
The cruise was much better than expected as over the last few years we have sailed on much smaller ships and the staff tend to be very approachable. We can honestly say that we couldn't fault anything on this cruise. The staff, waiters, pool butlers and crew were equally delightful and friendly. Each one wore a star on their uniform which we believed meant that they were employee of the month but everyone had a star. Apparently it is to remind them of the ethos of the company - to strive to be a star and to do their utmost to help all guests have a wonderful experience. We think it's worked - each and everyone we met was delightful. Read Less