We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Great combination of ports - very different and unique, with so much to do and see! Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. This was my fifth cruise on Celebrity, and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Great combination of ports - very different and unique, with so much to do and see! Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. This was my fifth cruise on Celebrity, and I'll definitely do another next year. That seemed to be the sentiment of several of our fellow cruisers, many of whom were either already booked on another cruise on Celebrity, or booked another cruise while onboard this one.
Let me first say that this is NOT a cruise for the faint of heart, and it should definitely not be your first cruise. There are a lot of visa and immigration hurdles that must be overcome, but it is so worth it. This is a cruise for adventurers who enjoy seeing intriguing parts of the world and have their set their expectations accordingly. It is NOT an easy cruise. There is a lot of walking involved everywhere. Do not take this cruise expecting to see ports like those you see in the Caribbean, Europe or other developed cruise destinations. The contrast in the port cities is vast. You begin in Singapore, where everything is beautiful, shiny and developed, but when you get to India, the first three ports are essentially industrial ports. Mumbai is a bit more modern, and then you end in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the ports are shiny and beautiful. The cruise line did a good job of managing this. They insisted that everyone attend the port talks (and Marco did an excellent job with the port talks, providing photographs and tips, so you knew what to expect when you arrived in these ports).
The passenger mix on this ship was wonderful. There were people from 50 different countries onboard...it was fascinating. So many wonderful people to meet and talk to! Not a lot of children, as this was a rather lengthy cruise, but those we did see seemed to be enjoying themselves. Just a few words about the ship. The Constellation is a beautiful ship. It has always been a beautiful ship. I was on it when it was new, on a cruise of the British Isles and Norwegian Fjords, back in 2003. By today's standards, it's now a mid-sized ship. She is going into dry dock on May 2nd, I believe. I don't know truly how much work will be done, but it really just needs a bit of esthetic updating. I certainly didn't see anything that was horribly egregious! We had an ocean view stateroom on Deck 2, and it was just fine. Our cabin attendant, Brian, was amazing. He kept everything in perfect order for us. I don't know about balconies on this itinerary, because the weather is extremely hot everywhere you go. It's hot and steamy in Asia, and then just hot (but dry) in the Middle East. It was nearly 100 degrees everyday (over 100 with the heat index). I preferred being in the cool AC in my cabin when I wasn't out on a shore excursion.
We chose the Select Dining, so we were able to go to the Main Dining Room whenever we wanted. We are late eaters, so we usually did not arrive before 8:45 or 9:00 p.m., and there was only one evening where we had a brief wait for a table (and I think that was because we actually showed up a bit earlier that evening). We also ate for 3 evenings in the specialty restaurants. Sadly, Ocean Liners will be disappearing during the dry dock. :( Classic French cuisine apparently just does not cut it with the majority of passengers anymore. The Tuscan Grill was okay, but Ocean Liners was better. I'll be dreaming of the Grand Marnier soufflé (and the lobster and the Dover sole). I've always thought that Celebrity has good to great food (for a cruise ship - remember that they are feeding thousands of people every day), and they did not disappoint. The suite passengers raved about Luminae, the exclusive restaurant for suite guests. I also heard good things about Blu, the Aqua Class dining restaurant. And I love the Aqua Spa cafe! Healthy food...no butter or oil...lots of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. Heard they will be revamping the Aqua Spa menu during the dry dock, or perhaps shortly thereafter. The food in the main dining room was very good, as was the food in the buffet. They have a carving station with something different everyday. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. The ice cream station was busy, busy, busy (it was so hot!). There's pizza and pasta available almost all of the time.
The staff. I can't say enough great things about the staff on this ship. They were truly the most hardworking, pleasant, amazing crew. The pool manager had to be the hardest working guy on the ship. He was out there every single day and night, working on the pool area, managing his staff of pool butlers. The food service staff was amazing. There was one sweet waiter who was Indonesian...Suk...(and I'd mess up the rest if I tried!)..so friendly, always smiling and singing. We also really enjoyed the entertainment on the ship. The cruise director, Rich Cleesen, and his staff (Jessica and Mathew were terrifc) did a great job. We didn't see every single show as we were quite tired on port days, but we loved the Australian Beatles show (who subsequently morphed into the Rolling Stones and were equally as good - they did a later show in the Reflections Lounge and had everyone up dancing and singing - I think if they had been willing to play for an extra couple of hours, everyone would have stayed!). We also thought the production shows were really good - one was an "around the world" musical and the other was a tribute to Hollywood. There was also a great show that was done by a multi-talented comedian (Steve ___?). We heard a lot of good things about the shows we missed.
On sea days, we hung out at the pool, went to the port talks, played bingo, went to happy hour and played trivia in the Rendevous Lounge...it was a nice, laid back vibe! We also went to the Canyon Ranch Spa and had pedicures. Definitely not cheap, but a treat. We had a large contingent of fitness aficionados on board, so the gym facilities got utilized quite a bit, and the fitness classes were well attended as well.
About shore excursions. We lined up private guides in all of the ports, so we did not take any of the ship excursions (other than the Inside Access tour of the ship, which was fantastic...I would highly recommend doing it at least once in your cruising lifetime!). I heard some grumbling about the some of the shore excursions, but it would not be fair for me to comment without having first hand knowledge. What I would say is that I think it is super important to research, research, research the ports before you go. Cruise Critic is an invaluable source for this, as many of the seasoned cruisers who participate have knowledge that is absolutely invaluable. We used Muziris' Heritage for our tours in India (we negotiated a deal for all four ports), and I can't say enough good things about them and the service they provided to us.
I would be remiss in mentioning however the one thing that I wasn't terribly fond of - and that was the whole "drinks package" thing. First off, I thought that bottled water (not premium, but just regular bottled water) should have been free on this cruise. It costs the cruise line pennies. It was hot, hot, hot. Instead, they were selling bottled water as you exited the ship. I do understand the non-drinking passengers not wanting to subsidize the drinking passengers, but there has got to be an easier way. There were people who bought drink packages and were so confused about what they purchased, what they were entitled to etc. There were people who had to negotiate the terms of their drink packages, because they were told they were not entitled to certain things, but the printed terms said otherwise. We tried to order a bottle set up for our stateroom, but no one seemed to know what we were asking for (although it was advertised on the Celebrity website). So much time was spent by the passengers and the bar staff trying to negotiate this, that I thought was nuts! Too many different levels. The wine packages were good. If they somehow manage to sort that out, it would truly be perfection! Overall, it was an incredible, amazing experience - one that I would definitely be thrilled Read Less