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19 Southampton to Europe - British Isles & Western Celebrity Constellation Cruise Reviews

Mainly to see Iceland and spend time in London before boarding. Iceland did not disappoint. It was wonderful, vast and scenic. Our first port was St. Peter's Port, Channel Islands. We took a ship's tour to Cornet Castle which ... Read More
Mainly to see Iceland and spend time in London before boarding. Iceland did not disappoint. It was wonderful, vast and scenic. Our first port was St. Peter's Port, Channel Islands. We took a ship's tour to Cornet Castle which was very nice. Next port was Cork Ireland and we took a tour called best of Ireland. We first went to Kinsale which was a long drive and we were given very little time there to even say what is was like to see. A waste of a drive. Then to a Hall in Cork for lunch which was okay not great with very lame entertainment. Then onto Blarney Castle which was beautiful. We had ample time and enjoyed it very much. Akueryri - we took the jewels of the North which was wonderful. Isafjordur - we took a morning and afternoon tour one was Life and Culture and the other Artic foxes and Avalanche. They were both good. We had excellent guides and the scenery was amazing. Iceland is all about natural settings although we did visit two small churches which were charming. In Reykjavik we took the golden circle tour and on the second day a 4x4 Safari. Both good. Running out of space here and not sure how it all works. Belfast - I wish we had more time there. Went to the Giant's Causeway, loved it, but there is a lot to see in Belfast. Other passengers seemed to enjoy the tours of the city and the Titanic Museum. We had a very good from the podium speaker who made you want to see this city. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. We selected this cruise not for the itinerary but for the excellent rates. We were not disappointed! The itinerary was great too. We would have signed up for a B2B while on board had we not had ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. We selected this cruise not for the itinerary but for the excellent rates. We were not disappointed! The itinerary was great too. We would have signed up for a B2B while on board had we not had commitments for Thanksgiving. I estimate that about 50% of the passengers were British, 40% American, and 10% other, primarily Chinese and Hispanic. Embarkation was disorganized. We had opted for transfers from Heathrow to Southampton with Choice Air. There was a delay in boarding because of an outbreak of Norovirus on the Constellation. Consequently, we were given a free, four hour tour of Winchester on the way to the ship. This turned out to be an enjoyable bonus although it was very cold, our luggage had been sent ahead, and we did not have appropriate clothing with us. We did not arrive at the ship until 1730. Once at embarkation, it was pandemonium trying to find our room and an available elevator. The decor of the Constellation tends to be contemporary. Everyone, both staff and passengers were very friendly. We took only one on-board excursion and that was to Paris. At the other ports, we did our own self-guided tours. The two ports of call in France were a couple hours distant from anything of real interest. The ports in Spain and Portugal were convenient and enjoyable. Men, in particular, were dressed very casually during the day (saw some threadbare tee shirts and jeans with holes in them) which surprised us for what is billed as a "premium" cruise line. Our 4 table-mates at our 1800 fixed seating were a real joy! We often observed that we were some of the last to leave the MDR after 2 hours of convivial conversation. Positives: our Concierge Class room and the ship were spotless. The staff was very friendly and very helpful and offered 5 star service. The destination expert lecturer, Dr. Caitlin, was outstanding. The food at both the MDR and buffet ranged from outstanding to average. We quickly learned what we liked best and avoided other offerings. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants. Very few on board announcements over the speaker system. Negatives: It took several days to get the upgrades we expected with Concierge Class and some upgrades were never received. Music in the main theater was TOO LOUD! Buffet at the Seaside Cafe needs to be reorganized - food would get cold trying to get around to all the food venues. We were constantly being "hustled" by the staff to purchase upgraded dining. Danish pastries at the buffet were inedible (which was a blessing in disguise!). Overall, we would rate the cruise as 85 out of 100. Since this was our first cruise on Celebrity, we will take responsibility for misunderstanding some of the on-board protocols and not getting more out of the cruise. Had we been more experienced on Celebrity, I would probably rate this 5 stars and 90 to 92 out of 100. Was the cruise perfect? No. Would we do it again? YES, in a heartbeat, in fact we signed up for a future cruise while on board and have no buyers remorse! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We had never cruised Celebrity before, only Princess so we didn't know what to expect. The Constellation did not disappoint us. It is a different experience from Princess. There is no "Wow" factor when you enter the ... Read More
We had never cruised Celebrity before, only Princess so we didn't know what to expect. The Constellation did not disappoint us. It is a different experience from Princess. There is no "Wow" factor when you enter the Constellation - the main lobby is nicely appointed but not palatial. The main dining rooms are lovely but not magnificent and the various bars and lounges are nice but not spectacular. The art throughout the ship is very modern and not to our taste. The staff are great though. They seem to be younger than Princess staff and just as helpful. The ship had just gone through a Norovirus outbreak (previous cruise) and the staff handled the situation well. Our room was great - it seemed larger than our previous rooms on Princess and had an ocean view which we enjoyed. The shower was quite large and great pressure and very hot water, all pluses, although we were on deck 2 and someone from deck 9 complained about the pressure. The downside is the hangers which are the ones that are "attached" to the bar in the closet - not classy and a real pain. Another negative is that the fridge was fully stocked with minibar items which we had to ask to be removed so we could put water in there. The ship's tours were excellent, although a definite negative is that you have to pay upfront and they are non-refundable or transferable the day before the tour (we couldn't change our mind and do another tour without paying for both, even if there was availability (very unlike Princess). Entertainment - the shows exceeded our expectations. The cast had multiple stars and seemed to be a better calibre than our previous cruise experience with Princess. The other entertainers were lost in the shuffle and their shows were poorly attended and although some of them were good, others were just plain awful. We liked the fact that Celebrity does not spend all day announcing the activities that are ongoing on the ship. Dining Experience - we chose Select Dining and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! We had the same table and same staff for the entire 12 days for dinner and they were superb, thanks to the very obliging Maitre D'. Celebrity has a separate Sommelier, who is extremely knowledgeable and that is also a definite positive. The food in the dining room was top notch and a great selection. It wouldn't matter what your tastes are, they had something for everyone. We also really liked the buffet at lunch (more so than the dining room, which is only open on sea days). The highlight for us was the Asian Station, which is apparently a staple on all the Celebrity ships. We did not go to the Speciality Restaurants, although we had previously booked before our actual cruise (based on the on-line menu). When we went to look at the restaurant (Ocean Liners), the menu posted outside the door and the menu posted on Celebrity website were different. In speaking with the Restaurant Manager, he informed me that they had changed their menu over 3 months ago. This is also a huge negative for Celebrity - their website is awful ,hard to navigate and out-dated. We called customer service once before we left and no one ever telephoned us back. The only other drawback to the dining experience was some of the staff trying to "upsell" on the Speciality Dining at lunch time in the buffet area. They would come to certain tables and try and promote you to book a night in one of the Speciality restaurants. It was definitely not classy. All in all, we loved our Celebrity experience and would definitely cruise with them again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This cruise was somewhat blighted by the outbreak of norovirus which, as another reviewer mentioned, caused a major dislocation to the ship's procedures. Small examples: the library was closed for a couple of days because all the ... Read More
This cruise was somewhat blighted by the outbreak of norovirus which, as another reviewer mentioned, caused a major dislocation to the ship's procedures. Small examples: the library was closed for a couple of days because all the books were being sterilized: items such as glasses in cabins, kettles etc disappeared on the last day at sea - again to be sterilized. The worst disruptions were in the self service restaurants - they were no longer self service: we had to ask for everything. We weren't permitted to just pick up the bowl of melon sitting there in front of us, we had to find a member of staff to hand it to us. The combination of staff shortages and communication problems made getting breakfast/lunch in these restaurants a bit like Russian roulette. Definitely not a pleasurable experience. In fairness, the staff were doing their best under very difficult circumstances. I don't know whether the same problem was having an impact in the San Marco Restaurant, but as Celebrity Select diners, I would say that this was probably the worst flexible dining experience we have had on any ship. And we have been on an awful lot of ships on different cruise lines. In fact, as I said to my wife on our 2nd or 3rd day, if this was our first experience of Celebrity, we probably wouldn't do it again. However, we do have "previous" on the Eclipse in Aqua Class, an altogether better experience. To be specific, we frequently had to queue at the dining room entrance, once for ten minutes or so. Then if we wanted a table for two, there was a 50/50 chance of having to wait, up to 15 minutes. In contrast with other cruise lines who have got this better organised, there were no pagers - we just had to sit down and wait in the adjacent Cellar Masters. Once inside, the staff were just on the edge of coping, but sommeliers were so rare it sometimes took real persistence to even get a wine list before our main course was served. Whilst still on the subject of dining, we had two complimentary cover charge dinners, one at the Tuscan Grill and one at Ocean Liners. In the former, in addition to signing for wine, we had a $10 "service" charge to sign for. There was no equivalent charge at Ocean Liners. Curious, I queried the charge with Customer Relations. Me: "We prepaid our gratuities, so why are we being charged again for service?" CR: "Because service charges in cover-charge restaurants are not covered by your prepaid gratuities". Me: "Where does it specify this on the Celebrity web site?". CR: "service charges in cover-charge restaurants are not covered by your prepaid gratuities". Me: "Why is this charge imposed in the Tuscan Grill but not in Ocean Liners?" CR: "service charges in cover-charged restaurants are not covered by your prepaid gratuities" After a while, they got fed up with me asking the same questions and I got fed up with hearing the same answer repeated, so they agreed to reverse the charge. In a nutshell, this is an example of one of the things I don't like about Celebrity: they appear to make up the rules as they go along. Their web site says absolutely nothing about service in cover charge restaurants and in fact gives the impression that prepaid gratuities cover everything. If they could find a way to charge cruisers for the air breathed in when on board, they would certainly do so, and then add a 15% service charge on top. Even the self service enomatic wine dispensers in Cellar Masters attract a 15% service charge when topping up your wine card. And I didn't have the heart to repeat to our butler that we had prepaid our gratuities and that would take care of his tip, because I think he might have thrown himself off our balcony in response. Cabins: we had a guaranteed suite, and this turned out to be an Accessibility Sky Suite. I was very pleased initially because the floor area appeared to be much more than a standard Sky suite. However, when we got into the cabin we realised that virtually all the extra space is squandered by the need for wheelchair access to the cabin and bathroom. This meant that there was no bathtub, and the shower was miserably inadequate, especially when compared with the excellent showers in Aqua class on the Eclipse. And despite there being large areas of wall space near the door, there were no coat hooks whatsoever. The cupboard and clothes hanging space was just about adequate - for one person that is. For two it was quite inadequate. Ports and excursions: as other reviewers have pointed out, some of the ports on this cruise are a long way away from places of interest. For example, Le Verdon is a coach drive of nearly two hours from Bordeaux. As a matter of policy, we decided to book excursions on every port day, and we did indeed have some very memorable excursions. To anyone considering this cruise, I would say this: you should be prepared to bite the bullet and pay up for Celebrity's ludicrously expensive excursions, because if you don't, on too many port days you will be wandering around aimlessly in less than attractive surroundings. This is getting far too long, so I'll just sum up by comparing this cruise to a curate's egg: good in parts, but with some pretty dodgy bits as well.... Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no ... Read More
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no complaints. The ship had previously experienced noro virus outbreaks so no self service and no ice on the martini bar. The crew were well prepared with gel etc so we experienced no problems. We has a premium non-alcoholic package and this was an excellent choice. I thoroughly recommend this package. I have previously used the premium alcoholic package but I think the non-alcoholic package met our needs better. We did have some Martinis and had fun with the flight of martinis once or twice. We also tried Ocean Liners and this was a highlight of our cruise. We also went for the champagne afternoon tea and this was the first one on a cruise I have enjoyed. Even Cunard had been a disappointment. We spent a lot of time relaxing in the Cafe Baccio, enjoying the coffee. Staff again were excellent. We paid for access to the perfumed garden but I am not sure if I would do that again. The entertainment was hit or miss. I enjoyed the acts placed around the ship but did not enjoy Perry. However, Michaels club was packed out when he played, so we were not missed. Some acts in the theatre were good, others ok. All a matter of taste. Celebrity delivered the break we needed and we will definitely cruise with hem again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
1. not friendly welcome - other cruises a big party, this... you're here, and so what 2. Food served only by staff. a. First day virtually all servers not friendly improved over cruise, but not all happy to be serving. b. Really ... Read More
1. not friendly welcome - other cruises a big party, this... you're here, and so what 2. Food served only by staff. a. First day virtually all servers not friendly improved over cruise, but not all happy to be serving. b. Really slowed meal times large lines by stations at busy times c. Servers hard to find at some stations non-busy times d. Tables had signs "This table has been sanitized" and, had in fact, been wiped down with a disinfectant. The problem was that, in many cases, they were moving mud around the table. The table was sanitized, but not clean. 3. Are they watching food temperature? I had Shellfish Bisque that was barely warm. Could lead to food poisoning. It made me wonder how carefully they were testing food temp on the line. I was about to comment that I'm sure they are watching temperature in the kitchen, but is an assumption on my part. 4. The overall attitude of the crew is, in my opinion, a direct result of managements attitude. 5. Ship has maintenance issues, lights not working, rust, equipment in some facilities, the carpets in the buffet are filthy in some areas. 6. Our cabin was the largest veranda cabin I've ever had and was very well appointed. 7. Our cabin team was excellent - I can't recommend them more.Very friendly and accommodating and kept the room in tip-top shape. 8. My friend took a wine tour based on ONE of the wineries that was listed on the tour. The Winery has a world class reputation and hasn't done public tours in years. The tour stopped outside the gate of the winery and they could shoot photos of the winery through the fence. The tour cost $300 and was a rip off. It appears that the cruise line deliberately misled people in their description of the tour. The other participants were quite angry with this apparent deception. 9. One thing I found curious as I'm writing this at 3 in the morning. One of the staff is sweeping the carpet in the buffet area with a broom and dustpan. Wouldn't a vacuum cleaner be more effective at actually getting dirt out of the carpet? 10. The port in Bilbao had free WIFI, but one couldn't get logged on. The staff at the port commented that the cruise ship was blocking the signal. Apparently, an attempt by Celebrity to keep the everyone paying the cruise ships outrageous rates for Internet time. 11. The Ocean Liner restaurant - an extra fee restaurant - was world class. The service and food were wonderful. Had dinner there twice and would recommend it to anyone. 12. The service and the food in the main dining room was very good. 13. My friend was attempting to get a cup of coffee. After picking up 3 cups from the "clean" tray and finding them dirty she mentioned it to a ships officer that happened to be close by about the situation.His comment was "just use a paper cup!" in an exasperated tone of voice. 14. This cruise was a "wine immersion" cruise. We didn't hear of any wine seminars of any kind until 2 days before the end of the cruise from a fellow passenger. There was a list of seminars that we were told they couldn't put on tables because of the sanitary problems the ship was undergoing. 15. After we saw the list of seminars we discovered that they were all rather expensive... Riedel Glass seminar $87 - promoting Riedel glasses. A wine and food seminar at $95. The least expensive one was a wine and cheese tasting for $35. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We sailed the Thanksgiving cruise on the Connie-my sister and me. She is not really enthused with cruising, but wanted to go to Europe. This was the last cruise on this itinerary. They were heading across the Atlantic after our trip. ... Read More
We sailed the Thanksgiving cruise on the Connie-my sister and me. She is not really enthused with cruising, but wanted to go to Europe. This was the last cruise on this itinerary. They were heading across the Atlantic after our trip. For one, the price on this cruise was a Bargain! First stop, Le Havre in northern France. The beaches of Normandy are, to me, a must see, along with the American cemetery and WW 2 museum. Since I had been there recently, we decided to take the train to Paris for an overnight. Easy train to St. Lazare, and a brisk tour of Paris. I have been there many times, but never tire of it. We took the night dinner river cruise on the Seine. Rodin museum, Eiffel Tower, general sightseeing and back to the ship by train. Quick 10 euro taxi ride to and from train station to pier. Bordeaux. What can I say!? Chateaux, wine. I relied heavily on prior review (Trisha-thanks!) for guide- Bordeaux Vertigo. Fabulous. Bilbao and the Rioja region was great. Used the ship tour which I usually don't because of cost, but this was reasonable and efficient. Bilbao was very interesting. The Guggenheim is the main attraction. I'd say the Frank Ghery building is the big attraction here. The art exhibits were pretty good. Frankly, I could have spent both days wandering the cobble stoned streets and feasting on penches (sp?) the local tapas. They are to die for, and the local wine is fabulous. Nothing like traditional Spanish tapas, they are Basque works of art. Vigo: very nice city to walk and shop. La port, we took a ship tour to a UNESCO world heritage city, sorry cant remember the name. Overall, loved the cruise and he ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Our Diary on a 12 Night Immersive Wine Cruise Celebrity Constellation October 1, 2012 Saturday, September 29~ Departed from our home. After 3 flights and 22 hours later we arrived at Heathrow International, on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ... Read More
Our Diary on a 12 Night Immersive Wine Cruise Celebrity Constellation October 1, 2012 Saturday, September 29~ Departed from our home. After 3 flights and 22 hours later we arrived at Heathrow International, on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Smithforairports was waiting for us along with the two couples we met on our Cruise Critics roll call who helped share the transfer cost to Southampton. Our cost to Southampton was 105.00 GBP split 3 ways in an 8 Seater minibus. The price per couple was around $57.00 USD. Additional notes: Smith's will take credit cards charging a 2.00 GBP additional fee. Since the airport exchange rates are the worst, this made perfect since to us until we were able to find an ATM. Meeting place for Smithsforairport was at the information desk in Heathrow just past baggage claim. Smithforairports e-mail address is bookings@smithsforairports.com Sunday, September 30th- It took about 90 minutes to travel from LHR to our hotel in Southampton. We pre-booked an internet special (non-refundable) at the Premier Inn West Quay for a 1 night stay. The hotel was new and it was voted #1 hotel in Southampton by Tripadvisors. It wasn't the Ritz Carlton by any means but for 39.00 GBP it was definitely worth it. The Premier Inn was conveniently located 5 minutes from the cruise port and in the city centre. Also, it was about an 8 minutes walk to the Red Lion Inn where we had planned to go for dinner that evening. The Red Lion Inn located at 55 High Street is the oldest ale house in the city. On Sunday they have specials on family style dinners which go very well with their locally made ales on tap! The Red Lion Inn claim to fame is their 20 plus ghosts! That's right, as per their website at http://theredlionsouthampton.com they boast 20 ghosts; all of them eager to make an appearance. Unfortunately we didn't see any ghostly aberrations. Hmmm, I guess they didn't get the memo from us requesting that we wanted them to make an appearance? Monday, October 1st~ We woke up to a 70% chance of rain and the weather outside did not disappoint. Just after 11:00 a.m. we left our hotel into a grey cold and driving rain. But that didn't dampen our spirits because this was it, the day we embark on our cruise ship the Celebrity Constellation, our home for the next 12 days. Embarkation went very smoothly; we were on board within 20 minutes. My first stop before heading to our stateroom was to visit the Maître d. Because of the uniqueness of this cruise itinerary, we were on a waitlist for Select dining since July. I guess everybody else on this cruise ship was thinking and doing the same thing, hence the waitlist! So the type A personality that I am, I was going to find the infamous Maitre d named Adam! But when we found where Adam was holding court, there was already a line that had formed with the same agenda. Finally it was my turn to speak and I gave him my reasons why we needed to go from early dining to Select. Adam looked at me and said, Madame, this is a totally sold out ship, but I'll put you on my hotlist for Select dining. So I thought my request for Select dining is going to happen between 12:00 and NEVER?! Oh well, we could always go through the buffet line the nights we come back late from our shore excursions, which were many! Now we were off to check out our stateroom, 9152, a guarantee Concierge Class Veranda. We've never have gone this route before, but what a deal this turned out to be! Waiting for us in our stateroom was a chilled bottle of champagne with two glasses, a large bowl of fruit, flowers, and chocolate covered strawberries. Yes, life is good especially with Celebrity! After finishing off 2 bottles of champagne with our dear friends and traveling companions, Mike and Mary Ann, who were also in guarantee Concierge Class, we were chatting about our up coming cruise when I looked out to see a very SUNNY balcony! This was a good thing, in fact this was AWESOME, because at 5:00 (after the muster drill) we had a Sail-A-Way get together at the Sunset Bar deck 10 for a little soiree of 99 people from our Cruise Critics roll call. By the way, guess who the hostess was....that would be me! Additional note: The taxis from the hotel to the cruise port were 5.00 GBP. Tuesday, October 2nd Le Havre & Paris- We decided since we haven't been to Paris for at least 30 years and Mike and Mary Ann haven't been since their honeymoon 40 years ago this had to be our #1 priority, an overnight stay in gay Paris! We bought roundtrip tickets from Le Havre to Paris for a non-stop train (no hassle of changing trains) with Rail Europe in advance for 4 people. The cost was $370.00 USD with an $18.00 shipping & handling fee which was included of in the price. We also pre-booked the Hotel Muguet in the 7th Arrondissement, a 5 minute walk to Rue Cler and 15 to 20 minute walk to the EiffelTower. Hotel Muguet was also a 5 minute walk from the metro train station Ecole) Militaire, which was very convenient especially going to and the from the St. Lazare Train Station. Hotel Muguet was adorable and the view from our bedroom window overlooked the golden dome of the Invalides, which was especially beautiful at night! With our carry-on bags in hand we checked into our hotel around 1:00 p.m. and dropped off our bags, then quickly departed to take a direct metro train (yellow line) down to Versailles for the afternoon. The entry fee on Tuesdays is 25 Euros, more than any other day of the week because of the music in the garden and probably because the Louvre is closed on Tuesday. Normally it is 18 Euros. The gardens of Versailles were breathtaking. You could easily spend 2 to 3 hours strolling through them. The Versailles is very comparable to the Peterhof in St. Petersburg, Russia and oddly enough the Peterhof is also known as the Russian Versailles. The display of wealth in both palaces is hard to imagine, I can see how the French & Russian people were just a little disenchanted with their rulers who definitely knew how to flaunt their riches! Wednesday, October 3rd ~ Paris, France ~ After meeting Mike and Mary Ann downstairs at 8:00 a.m. we decided to eat our breakfast at the most famous market street in Paris the Rue Cler. The Cafe du Marche was definitely the most popular amongst the locals and a great place to people watch. We ordered their breakfast special which consisted of orange juice, coffee, freshly baked croissant, and a ham & cheese omelet. The cost for per person was 10 Euros which was a real deal, especially in Paris! Our plan for the day was to buy passes on the Batobus which is a hop on, hop off panoramic glass enclosed boat on the SeineRiver. The Batobus stops at 8 stations; we bought a 1 day pass in front of the EiffelTower for 15 Euros per person. The stops included were as follows: The Eiffel Tower, Musee D Orsay, Saint German Des-Pres, Notre Dame, Jardin Des Plantes, Hotel De Ville, The Louvre, and the Champs-Elysees. Pick up was every 25 minutes; what a great way to see Paris especially on a very limited time schedule. The Batobus website is: www.batobus.com Train from Paris left on time at 4:50 p.m. arriving in Le Havre at 6:58 p.m. Taxis were supposed to be plentiful, especially when a train arrives. Unfortunately they weren't, we waited for at least 15 minutes in the pouring rain before we were able to secure one. Price to and from the cruise port to the train station was 10Euros. Additional note: The Hotel Muguet had a storage area for our luggage, which we used on the second day after checking out. We retrieved our bags from the hotel on way back to the St Lazare train station very convenient. After being gone over night to Paris we noticed we had several invitations on our bed and one was from Adam, the infamous Maître d. It said, Celebrity is pleased to inform you that you now have Select dining! So quit your whining!!...No, he didn't say that, but I'm sure he was thinking it ;D Thursday, October 4th Sea day ~ Awww yes, our first sea day and a much needed day of rest! This was also the day of Celebrity's Meet and Mingle, which was scheduled for 10:15 a.m. at the Reflections Lounge. As the roll call keeper, I was always checking the boards to see how many members to date had signed up for the get together. The day we left for the United Kingdom we had 132 reservations. I was concerned since I read from the other roll calls that Celebrity was not getting the invitations out to every stateroom. I even posted this before we left letting everyone know if they did not receive an invitation to contact the front desk. Unfortunately a number of people that were planning to attend did not receive their invitations, which was very disappointing since I went out of my way to speak to Roxanne, the lady in charge of Cruise Critics/Meet & Mingle functions on board the Constellation. She assured me that everyone would receive an invitation. On a positive note, the reception line at the Reflections Lounge was impressive, the captain and all the first officers along with the cruise director were all there for roll call Meet & Mingle. Additional note: This was our first formal night. The second was on Monday, October 8th leaving Bilbao, and third was Thursday, Oct. 11th our second sea day. Friday, October 5th Le Verdon (Bordeaux Day 1) ~ After many hours of researching for a Bordeaux wine tour, we finally felt we hit a home run with Bordeaux Vertigo! Bogdan Ghita, the general manager for Bordeaux Vertigo, was always quick to respond to my many e-mail requests. Bodgen writes and speaks excellent English so communicating with him on our wants and needs for our tour was made easy. His suggestions for Grand Cru Classé Châteaux in the Bordeaux region were better than we had anticipated. He was always very attentive to our group of 8 by answering our questions. Bogdan supplied us with bottled water, filtered and sparkling on both days which was a very nice touch! On our first day we visited 4 Châteaux with tastings in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, all them a Grand Cru Classé Châteaux. Lunch was at restaurant called Le Savoie in the MargauxVillage. The manager of Le Savoie set up a very nice banquet room for 16 guests. We had another tour group of 8 with Bordeaux Vertigo that joined us for lunch. It was fun to share our notes with them on the Châteaux that we had visited during the day. Drop off was at the Le Verdon docks at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, October 6th Le Verdon (Bordeaux Day 2) ~ Bogdan promptly picked us up at 8:30 a.m. We had another busy day in front us; this time we would be visiting the Pauillac & Saint-Julian appellations of Bordeaux for 3 tastings at Grand Cru Classé Châteaux The last Château, Château Lynch-Bags had a very nice square or hamlet with shops and eateries. Our group decided to pick-up a quick bite so we could head back to Marguax Village to Cave L Avant-Garde , a wine store which Bogdan suggested (just in case we didn't have enough wine back on the ship)! Drop off for today's wine adventure was at 3:30 p.m. On a final note: We will always fondly remember the 2012 harvest in the Bordeaux region, especially picking up more than a few bottles of wine from 7 different Châteaux. We can now say that 2012 was an excellent year for touring the beautiful countryside of Bordeaux especially with Bogdan as our guide! Their website is: www.bordeauxvertigo.com Additional notes: Contrary to what I have read on other roll calls, we never had any of the staff from the cruise ship confiscate our wine upon embarkation. We were able to take wine on board at every port. Sunday, October 7th- Bilbao/ Gexto, Spain ~ Joe and I went round and round on what to do in Bilbao for a Rioja wine tour. The tour companies we contacted were very expensive. Finally we negotiated a tour with Thabaca, which turned out to be a great itinerary and one of favorites in Europe! We met our driver at Bilbao port at 8:15 a.m. and proceeded to meet our tour guide, Elena, in Rioja. Elena was enthusiastic and more than willing to share her love and knowledge for Rioja countryside. We had a photo op at the famous Bodegas Ysios, conceived as a temple dedicated to wine, which became the pioneering signature winery in La Rioja. It set the trend for construction of avant-garde wineries. Its name, Ysios, pays homage to Isis and Osiris, two Egyptian gods closely related to the world of wines. Unfortunately because it was a Sunday it was closed! Ysios is spectacular Bodegas, even though we were unable do a wine tour! The next stop was at the Bodegas Carlos San Pedro. The San Pedro family has been producing wines in Laguardia, Rioja Alavesa for over 500 years! Most of the wineries in this area stored their wines in ancient caves which guarantee perfect temperature, humidity level, and darkness all year round. Adding to the medieval feel and surroundings was our wine tasting held inside a cave with just a few lights and candles. We were able to taste the wine directly from the tanks inside the caves. It was good, but his bottled wines revival any Bordeaux wine we had tasted so far! Carlos was a perfect host and his knowledge and love for his wine was evident! Our next stop was at Ostatu, a very picturesque winery! This is where you can really appreciate the Rioja region. It was breathtaking, especially during their harvest! Our hostess was Maria, the daughter of the Samaniego family, which has owned and managed the winery for over 500 years! Maria was a gracious hostess; her pride and knowledge of wine making was in her voice and eyes. For our wine tasting she took us to a beautiful patio area where two of the walls were enclosed by glass. The other walls and patio floor were in sandstone. Instead of having grout between the tiles of the floor, there was grass. In harmony with the color scheme were the red clusters of chilies peppers that hung on the sandstone walls, very classical Spanish! Maria came out with plates of different varieties of grapes that grew in their vineyard; they were delicious. Next, she came out with 3 different wines along with plates full of prosciutto on crusted bread. I later read in their brochure that they designed their tasting room, the Txoko Ostatu, to be the best atmosphere to share with friends and we could not agree more! Their wine was excellent and at very reasonable price! Lunch was on our own in the medieval Old Centre of Laguardia, which was an enchanting place to sight see, eat, and drink. It reminded us of Tallinn, Estonia which we also visited with Mike and Mary Ann. There were many outdoor cafes that served pintxos (tapas) with wine and beer at very reasonable prices. This was a great way to people watch while touring the village. Our next stop was at Marques de Riscal, the largest winery in Rioja (also known as The City of Wine). This winery has two very different designs and styles going on. The battle of old verses ultra contemporary. The rose colored and grey steel architecture curling around to symbolize a grape vine was not quite our style, but unique. To us it looked very commercial on the verge of being more like an industrial factory than hotel and winery. But the courtyard and wine tasting room were tastefully done and more traditional with local sandstone defining the old Spain, like a Spanish Missionary! On a positive note, the wines here were good. Additional notes on Rioja and Thabuca tours: The tour cost was 115.00 Euros per person, which included VAT, entrance fees, wine tastings, and an English speaking guide in a minibus that held 12. Tour duration was from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. All in all, we were very happy with Thabuca Tours, we would use them again in a heart beat if we our fortunate to return back to Spain! Monday, October 7th Bilbao/Gexto, Spain~ Day 2 in Bilbao- The weather in Gexto was gorgeous! So Joe and I chose to walk around the cruise port of Gexto especially since we had been on a treadmill for the last 6 days combined with an early departure time at 3:00 p.m.Gexto is a very clean port and seaside town with their beautiful promenade, marinas, shopping, and numerous restaurants to choose from, not to mention the stately mansions along the coastline. We returned to our stateroom around 1:00 p.m. to get ready for our next event, a blind wine tasting at Linda and Chris's penthouse! Not really, they had a Family Veranda on the aft! Linda & Chris were very gracious hosts, not only did they provide their beautiful stateroom but they also had yummy appetizers for us to enjoy. There were 6 couples in all and each brought a covered bottle of wine for the tasting. To make it even more enjoyable, we were blessed with perfect weather! A wonderful afternoon was had by all! Thanks again Linda & Chris! Tuesday, October 8thVigo, Spain ~ The Connie pulled into Vigo, Spain around 12:00 p.m. We could see from our balcony the beautiful palm tree lined promenade and shopping malls. After disembarking we walked toward the city centre passing by Principe Street, the most important shopping street in Vigo. We headed up the hill to the CastroPark which was quit a hike, but worth it. The park is well maintained with dirt paths for walkers and joggers that seem to run down toward a lookout point where the Atlantic Iron Age ruins are. After strolling down the hill we headed toward historical Old Quarters where we found a side street that has many outdoor cafes. We picked the Cafe Cerveceria Gril where all the locals and the Constellation entertainers were eating and drinking. We ordered calamari and beer; the café even had free Wi-Fi which was great since I had my I-Pad with me. I couldn't resist emailing a few family members and friends to say Hi, I'm in Vigo, Spain eating calamari and drinking a beer while typing you an e-mail Wish you were here!.....Click the send button done! Yes, life is good in Vigo! Wednesday, October 9thPorto, Portugal ~ This was our last port of call and our tour was with Lisbosightseeing.com. Our pick-up was at 7:45 a.m. and our driver/guide arrived in an 8 Seater Mercedes Benz minibus. Our first stop was at a small medieval town called Amarante, where a 16th Century monastery is located. Unfortunately we were not allowed to enter because they were having mass that morning. Our next stop was the famous MateusPalace in the municipality of Vila Real, Portugal. The 17th century Manor House is considered to be the most beautiful and emblematic baroque building in the country. Our group decided not to tour inside the palace, so we enjoyed walking through the beautiful palace gardens while taking pictures. This allowed us more time at the wine tasting room. We had 2 different kinds of tastings. The first was with 3 different wines for 1euro per person and our second tasting was with 2 port wines for 2euro per person. Mateus certainly has come a long way from the days that we drank their wine in our early 20's! Our next stop was in Régua, a pretty little town situated at the point where the right bank and left bank flow together into the DouroRiver. We stopped for lunch at an outside café on the river. Joe and I shared a pork dish and our waitress kept bringing out different kinds of vegetable dishes, bread baskets, along with 3 bottles of wine, a bottle of port, and finished off with a bottle of white brandy. It was a feast fit for a King for around 10 euro per person. Our next stop was at the Quinta do Tedo's wine estate, a very pretty family run winery situated on the upper banks of the DouroRiver. We tasted 3 different wines with no tasting fee. We all took naps on the way back to the ship. Additional notes on Lisbosightseeing: The Douro wine country tour cost was 360.00 Euros. This was for an 8 pax, which is about $115.00 USD per couple. This was paid up front via Pay Pal which was a leap of faith for all of us! The duration of the tour was from 7:45 a.m. to 4:00 pm. The tour price did not include wine tasting, entrance fees, or lunch. By the way, we also paid for our driver/guide's lunch. I guess this was expected and it is customary in Portugal?! Thursday & Friday October 11th and 12th Sea days- Well folks, we are coming to the end of our amazing 12 day Immersive Wine Cruise, and what a cruise it was! It was one our favorites, we loved the overnight stays in some of ports of call which gave us a chance to really immerse ourselves. It was historical, fast paced, and the people that we met on our tours were easy and FUN to be with! Thanks everyone who shared our tours, we had some great times and memories! On a final note we used Smithforairport for our transfer back to Heathrow. This time we had 4 couples with 12 large suitcases and many carry-on's. I don't know how our driver got all our suitcases in the minibus, but he did! The cost from the cruise port back to Heathrow International was 92.00 GBP for an 8 pax, which was around $40.00 USD per couple. I hope you find this informative. My husband doesn't understand why I do this, but I tell him I do it to help others plan their vacations. By the way, we love Celebrity, especially the staff and service. Always remember to embrace the moments in your life! Trish aka Animated-one Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My partner (Troy) and I (Todd) just returned from our vacation that included the October 25th sailing of the Constellation. All I can say is that it was a cruise like no other. With all of the overnights, it seemed more like a voyage ... Read More
My partner (Troy) and I (Todd) just returned from our vacation that included the October 25th sailing of the Constellation. All I can say is that it was a cruise like no other. With all of the overnights, it seemed more like a voyage than a cruise, if that makes any sense. Passengers seemed very engrossed in seeing the ports and their time on land seemed to be the focus. Coming from the US, this itinerary was what I would call off the beaten track (not Med, not Baltic etc...) and it proved to be one of our best. Except for our first day at see, we were blessed with sunny days. A bit chilly at times but the sun made it bearable. EMBARKATION -- We flew in on the same flight as some other Cruise Critic members and were able to share a ride with them to Southampton using Smiths for Airports. Smiths was great! They were on time and got us there quickly and safely. Our flight arrived at 7:30am so we were at the port by 10:30am. I was surprised at the number of people already there checking in, but everything seemed to move quickly. We had the good fortune to book a suite so no waiting for us, not sure everyone else would agree that it moved quickly but it appeared to. The ship was not ready to board so we were given a number and we all went into a general waiting area. Not too long after they started calling numbers and we boarded. I'm not sure and really didn't care how long we waited as we were on vacation, enjoying the company of our new friends and excited about the cruise. We boarded and enjoyed lunch at the buffet and then waited for our rooms to be opened up which happened around 1pm. CABIN - We booked a suite guaranty and were fortunate enough to be upgraded to a Celebrity Suite. Add a kitchen and we could move in! The cabin had recently been redone when the ship was solsticized and it looked great. We had two flat screen TV's, an ipod/iphone dock, an old computer, a Bose Stereo system and lost or room. We used the ipod/iphone dock a lot to not only listen to our music but to charge our phones as well. Bed linens were nice (not wonderful but nice) and the Bulgari toiletries were great. I do still prefer the beds on HAL but we seemed to sleep just fine. We did have a butler but only used him to make some specialty restaurant reservations and for two lattes every morning. Our stewards were great and we always came back to a clean room with fresh towels. This was our first time as Elite and we loved the discounted pricing on the Internet package and also the laundry benefits. It says turn in laundry by 9am for next day delivery but we turned ours in around 1pm one day and still got it back the next day. A nice surprise as that was not what we were expecting. My only complaint would be to please not mix in the little hair conditioner bottles with the little body lotion bottles. I need readers for close up and they look exactly the same so boy did I get a surprise one day. I did separate them and put the hair stuff in the tub and body stuff by sink. My partner thought it was hilarious and it became a running joke. It got funnier when on the last day he yelled from the bathroom - Wow the lotion seems to so thin and going so much further today. Apparently our steward added a bunch of new bottles so you can guess what he did. We still laugh about that. SHIP - The ship is great! The size is nice and since we've been on the Constellation as well as the Millennium and Infinity before, so we knew exactly what to expect. We've also been on two Solstice class ships and did miss a few things like the relaxation room you can use prior to a massage and the buffet setup. There are also a few aspects that seem dated but none of those things affected our cruise. The deck plans and photos are online so I don't understand when people act surprised or disappointed in the layout etc... I also don't understand people who complain about an itinerary (um you booked it???) but that's another story. The solsticizing was done very tastefully and we thought the public rooms looked very nice. We love the thalassotherapy pool and hot tubs and used them quite often. The outdoor pools were never used but it was windy 50 degree weather in the Atlantic so that was no surprise. SERVICE -- This is unfortunately the one area that we thought was not up to the usual Celebrity standards. I wish I could say that the crew and service were wonderful but many seemed indifferent and robotic at times. An example is our waiter who gave us a little speech at the end of our meals telling us the next day's weather, dining times etc... If anyone made a comment like "how lovely" or "wow that's great", he would look a little miffed, seemed to completely throw him and it took a few seconds for him to recover and basically started at the beginning of his speech again. We learned not to interrupt so we could get through it. He was nice enough but didn't add anything to the dining experience and was basically just there to take the order. The bartenders seemed low on energy as well and it made for a less than festive atmosphere at the bars. There just didn't seem to be a feeling of "we're so glad you're here" that we've come to expect. Sorry Celebrity but this one was not up to par. Of course that wasn't everyone and there were others who were outstanding including the shore excursion rep we spoke with, the Captains Club team, the girl who took our drink orders in the MDR, our stewards and other various crew members we encountered. We did have an outbreak of the Norovirus on the 3rd or 4th day so it may have affected the crew's attitude with the additional work they needed to perform but the service was like this from day 1 so I don't know how much can be attributed to the outbreak. FOOD - The food we found to be generally quite good if not sometimes excellent. The buffet had the usual items and we thought it clever to make one side more American focused and the other side more UK focused. My only complaint about the buffet would be the amount of salt in the meat dishes. You can't possible need that much. Other than that we enjoyed most of the items we got from the buffet and found it to be quite typical of most of our cruises with carving stations, a mix of potato and vegetable dishes, pizza, sandwiches, salads and your standard little rectangular cruise ship deserts which I personally find pretty tasteless. Like on all buffets, on land or on sea, any item sitting for a while got a little dry. We've learned to eat avoid those items. It really is a double edged sword -- if you want the freshest food, you have to go when it's moving quickly and are the busiest times, go when it's quite and empty and chances are the food has been sitting there for a while. The MDR and specialty restaurants were where we found the food to be above average. Meats were seasoned correctly, tender and cooked to order. Side dishes were warm and not overcooked. We had dinner in the Tuscan Grill and I know I had the best Filet I have ever ordered anywhere. We also ate at Ocean Liners and again, the food was excellent. I had the Lamb Chops and it was a huge portion and cooked medium rare just as ordered. In the MDR, the prime rib and lamb shank were the standouts. So now on to the ports. LE VERDON/BORDEAUX -- Maybe it was the sunny weather but Le Verdon wasn't this horrible wasteland that I've read about in other reviews. Yes it was far outside of Bordeaux which was a shock at first and caused for some additional planning (thank you Cruise Critic members), but I just did my research and once on board, Celebrity did provide excellent information regarding transfer, train and ferry schedules. The view from the ship over the green marshes out to the countryside was quite nice I thought. The first day we took the transfer to Soulac sur Mer and then took the 2 hour train into Bordeaux. We found a 2 -3 hour bike tour of the city online and had a wonderful tour. In the Chartron district there was an antique street fair and merchants had tables set up displaying their pieces. Every now and then there would be a band playing and there were lots of interesting shops and restaurants. After our bike tour, we took the tram back over to this district to hang out and had an amazing afternoon. I would go back to Bordeaux in a minute. On the second day we opted for a ship's wine tour. Since we were leaving that day we thought it best as this would guarantee us getting back to the ship in time. We chose the Medoc Tour and were not disappointed. We visited two chateaus and both were beautiful and quite different. The drive to them was absolutely stunning and I was surprisingly glad that we were on a bus since we were sitting much higher than a car and it gave us a better viewpoint to see what was around. We had a family style lunch at the second chateau that consisted of fresh bread, pumpkin soup, veal stew with the chateau's white wine, white rice and a chocolate torte for dessert. The actual owner of the chateau greeted us and played host. She was very warm and friendly. We really enjoyed this port! BILBAO -- Love! Love! Loved this city! We were not sure what to expect but all of our friends who have visited have gone on and on about how wonderful it is and we watched the Rick Steves episode like 3 times but all I can say is that we loved this city. The way it sat on the river with the hills on each side, the way the old and new architecture blended together, the cleanliness and friendliness of the people all made for a wonderful time there. I found two walking tours online and we signed up for each. One was for the day and one ended up being during the evening. The best part was that they were both free!!! The one during the day was with Bilbao Walking Tours, lasted about an hour and a half and took us around the outside of the Guggenheim and around the downtown area. It was informative but boy did she move quickly. If you didn't hear her say Aaaaannnnnndddddd CONTINUE you would be left behind haha. The evening tour took us through old town and was with Bilbao Greeters. I cannot say enough about our tour guide Nuria. She is a truly special person and we wanted to take her home with us so we could hang out some more. Her knowledge and passion for everything Basque had us mesmerized. She spent three and a half hours with us and took us into buildings and showed us things we never would ever have known about and I'm sure were not on other tours (the public library, the opera house while a show was going on etc...). What she had to say about all the places we visited brought the city and it's people even more alive than before. After that we took the 11pm transfer bus back to the ship and hit the sack. On day two we took the transfer bus in and visited the Guggenheim. We enjoyed walking around and seeing the pieces we had seen in photos in person. We spent maybe 2 hours there, got some light lunch and then took the transfer bus back for our 3pm sailaway. VIGO -- Like I've read by many, unless you were going to Santiago de Compostela, there weren't a whole lot of options for tours or things to do and see. It was our only fully overcast port day and we ended up just walking around the town and then heading back to the ship. We thought about going to Santiago de Compostela but for us, after two days in Bordeaux and two days in Bilbao, we just weren't in the mood to sit on a bus for two hours each way to see a town with a cathedral. Everyone who went said they had a great time and loved it so please don't base any of your plans on our decision. PORTO -- Another great surprise! I had booked a 3 -- 4 hour walking tour that met at 9:30am and when we road through town it was raining and completely empty - no cars, no people - empty. We thought we were in for a dismal depressing day. What we didn't know was that it was a holiday and by noon the sun was shining and the whole city was out and about. Phew! We chose Bluedragon Tours and our guide was again amazing. We saw and learned all that my head could absorb. After the tour we ate at one of the restaurants along the river (up on level 2) and had a wonderful lunch. We then did something I don't think anyone else did, we took a cab to Museu Serralves. Troy found it online and it is Porto's museum of modern art located on the grounds of a huge art deco estate. There were no exhibits but being fans of art deco, we were really only there to see the villa and the grounds. We were so glad we went and took way too many photos. After that we took a taxi to the ship. Another great day! LE HAVRE/PARIS -- I've been to Paris once and Troy goes to Paris for work maybe twice a year (sympathy violins come in). Since in our 14 years we've never made it there together, we opted for the Paris On Your Own Overnight tour with Celebrity. Basically it was a transfer to the city the first day with a transfer back the next but was done very well. We thought about taking the train but this also seemed a good way to guarantee we would make it back to the ship in time. Again we had amazing weather and saw almost every touristy thing there was to see. On the first day the Opera House was closed due a matinee and Notre Dam was soooooo crowded we opted to save those for the next day. We saw on an Anthony Bourdain special a restaurant name Les Cocottes and decided that was where we would eat. We read that they open up at 7pm and to get there at 6:45pm as a line will begin to form then. We got there around 6:35pm and were the only ones there. Sure enough though, at 6:45pm people started coming up. The first group was a mix of Canadians and Americans who also saw the restaurant on the same show. At first I thought uh oh, maybe he owns this place and we've been suckered. But I remember all of the tripadvisor reviews we read and then all the locals started lining up. It was just as good as we thought it would be and were so happy we went. The two standouts were the rocket salad with sweet bacon and a poached egg and the langoustine ravioli with artichoke mousseline. For dessert we had waffles with chantilly cream with sides of caramel and chocolate sauce. After dinner we went to our 9:30pm appointment at the Eiffel Tower and took some beautiful photos. The next day we went to the Notre Dam and Opera House and did some shopping. After a stop at Laduree for some pastries and macarons, we headed to our meeting spot and took the bus back to the ship to pack and get ready for disembarkation. DISEMBARKATION -- Pretty straight forward really. We got up, got ready, went to our spot to wait and waited. They called our number, we got off the ship and collected our luggage. We were staying on for two nights in London so we grabbed a taxi to the train station and took in an express train to the Waterloo station. OVERALL -- We loved this cruise and for the ports would consider it one of our best. Even with the odd service vibe we still consider Celebrity our cruise line of choice and I'm already looking at the cruises they have for Asia. Happy sailing everyone! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at tadiebold@msn.com. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We've just returned from our first Celebrity cruise, which sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, Le Verdon (for Bordeaux), Bilboa, Vigo, and Porto. For background, we have cruised approximately 10 times before on a variety of ... Read More
We've just returned from our first Celebrity cruise, which sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, Le Verdon (for Bordeaux), Bilboa, Vigo, and Porto. For background, we have cruised approximately 10 times before on a variety of lines/ships, and booked this "last minute" for a relaxation holiday, as neither of us is particularly passionate about wine. We had been to a couple of the destinations before, and planned to do our own thing in each port rather than book on the organised excursions. Our initial impression was good - information arrived in good time, including the change of dock at Southampton, and despite being a late "guarantee" booking we were allocated our cabin number a couple of weeks prior to departure. We drove to the port and used a valet parking company for £93 for the 12 nights. The boarding process was a breeze and took less than 15 minutes and we were aboard at approx 1pm. We were surprised to find no-one around to show you to your cabin, but we found it easily and were very pleased with it. It was clean, spacious and had a very large porthole which made it light and airey. Altho' I had requested twin beds, it had been prepared as a double. However, our cabin steward(ess), who arrived within minutes of us, arranged for it to be disassembled whilst we were at lunch, and also cleared the mini-bar at our request to make way for our own drinks. Having unpacked our luggage which arrived within a quarter of an hour, and stowed it in the capacious wardrobes, and variety of drawers and cupboards, we headed for the buffet, Seaside Cafe, on deck 10. As we expected, since it was lunchtime on the first day, it was pretty chaotic, and it seemed that most of the 2000 passengers aboard must have descended simultaneously. Nonetheless we found a table to share, and did a scout of the food counters and were pleased by the variety on offer - Pizza, made to order pasta, Asian Delights, English favorites, Sandwiches, Salads etc. etc. plus a good selection of desserts and an ice-cream bar (I can wholeheartedly recommend the hot chocolate sauce....) It soon transpired that the main reason for the chaos (in my Opinion) was the layout of the food stations, and the fact that most of the food was seved to you rather than self-service. This led to queueing and to-ing and fro-ing. The best example of this is the Tea/Coffee station where you pick up a cup in the middle, go to one end for the coffee (assuming that there was some - often there wasn't), then you had to swerve around the person pouring their cold drink which was set between you and the milk, you then had to cross the corridor (a motorway of food gatherers!) to get sugar and a teaspoon, and cross back to put the used sugar sachet and used teaspoon in their respective recepticals. It's a small thing, but would be soooo easy to rectify and it must irritate many people each time they went for drinks. Breakfast the next day was even worse and it took me 25 minutes to gather the components of a cooked breakfast, fruit, and 2 coffees and 2 juices (the first 3 coffee stations I visited were empty, and when I pointed this out to an assistant he simply swapped the signs for the caffeinated and the de-caf and said there was plenty!!!! It drove me mad the number of times that the coffee and/or milk containers were empty when I was trying to get hot drinks, and I was surprised that they didn't seem to have anyone responsible for checking them on a regular basis. It also surprised me that there was only one day when a waiter was offering coffees or teas at the table at breakfast, on most ships we have been on this was a daily service. Dinner the first night was also a surprise, because having asked for a table for 2, and assuming that because this was in our booking documentation it had been assigned to us, we were shown to a table for 10. As it happened this turned out very well and we had some very interesting and entertaining evenings, but I would have preferred to have been told in advance that this would be the case. Why bother to ask you what you would prefer and then give you the absolute opposite? The food in the main dining room was, to my mind, variable. I had steaks a couple of times and they were really good, however other main courses reminded me of school dinners (and that is not a compliment). I was disappointed that a "luxury" cruise line didn't do more on the presentation of its food - it seemed singularly lacking in swirls, dustings, scattering and artistic smears, but maybe this was to encourage you to go "up market" with the pay extra restaurants? I thought, on the whole, that the food was a good "pub grub" standard but certainly not 5* restaurant. The formal nights were the most disappointing, with no real noteworthy dishes at the first 2. The last formal night had options of Lobster, Beef Wellington, and Quail (amongst others) which got me excited, but the reality was underwhelming - the lobster came with a mound of watery rice and even more watery broccoli and the Beef Wellington came with a distinctly soggy bottom. Another major gripe was that the MDR was not open for breakfast or lunch on any of the port days - so only available for 3 out of the 12 days. This meant little choice but to cope with the chaos of the buffet at breakfast. There seemed far fewer staff than we had on a comparable Princess cruise earlier in the year, and I wondered whether they had pared back to make these cruises more cost effective and that closing the MDR had been one of the casulties? We made up by eating afternoon tea, and some of the best warm scones to be found at sea! On the subject of staff, I know it's very subjective, but I found them a little down-spirited on this cruise, and wondered whether it was the effect of THAT DOCUMENTARY. Mostly we did have very good service , but there were a few occasions where they gave the impression that they couldn't really be bothered. To the lady in the sunshine cafe who bought me Jello when I really needed it - thank you very much and may you too be shown the kindness of strangers. To the person who chose to do nothing but recommend expensive and inappropriate ship services to a person in need of help, may you one day understand how it feels. And to the senior staff who I found so casually unhelpful and mis-informative in Le Verdon, I shall make my views known elsewhere.... On the plus side, we found the entertainment generally very good, particularly the production shows which were not far off West End standards. The musicians around the ship were varied and great, and the activities team were fun and professional in equal measure. I thought that there was something for everyone, and if shows weren't you thing then there was always the Cinema, or free and pay-per-view movies in the cabin. You could also spend your evenings in a variety of bars. We found that compared to UK land and ships prices the drinks were on the expensive side (probably 50% up on those of P&O, Thomsons etc, but comparable to Princess).As we don't drink much it doesn't really worry us, but we'd like to say a big thank you to those that do, and those that spend freely in the Casino and the Art Auctions because the cross subsidies help make it a very good value for money cruise for us. However, would I do it again.......on balance, probably not. The couple of bad experiences with senior staff and the underwhelming dining experiences are enough to make us want to spend our money elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
First let me tell you that we had a great time, we met some great people, ate some wonderful food on the ship and in ports (especially Tapas), and drank some of the best wine and beer I've every had. THE PORTS · Le Havre: $15 ... Read More
First let me tell you that we had a great time, we met some great people, ate some wonderful food on the ship and in ports (especially Tapas), and drank some of the best wine and beer I've every had. THE PORTS · Le Havre: $15 bus trip to get into the town; spent the morning at the open market, tasting food and buying bread and cheese to bring back to the ship. We LOVE the bread in Europe. Next day spent 2½ hours going to Paris and 2½ hours coming back. Folks, that's five hours of your day on a tour bus. Really? · La Verdon: Worst port ever. There was absolutely nothing in port; really, you were at Celebrity's beck and call. It was 2½ hours to Bordeaux or a transfer for $8 to a local town. Slulac (local town and only town) was cute, but it's a resort town and this time of year half of it was closed down. · Bilbo: Again, a $15 bus trip to get into town. The options were to wait for a free shuttle that held only 18 people or to share a taxi with another couple for 5 Euros each. I'd rather spend the money than wait in line for anything. The town was quaint and the people were nice. · Vigo: The ship was docked right in town, no bus ride needed. Today is Sunday so most everything was closed, but we still managed to find a cool outside bar for a wine and beer pick-me-up. · Porto: Free shuttle to the end of the pier, because no walking was allowed on this working pier. Lots of decently priced excursions: We did "EP15 Oporto City and River Cruise," and did some wine tasting, which was very enjoyable. THE SHIP Bathroom: The blow dryer in the bathroom got so hot holding it, I had to dry my hair in shifts. Smokers beware! Constellation is a NON-smoking ship. No smoking in the casino, nor on your own balcony. There are a very few small sections on the ship designated for smoking. Wi-Fi: Hubby says Constellation's Wi-Fi service is not up to par. Had to wait two days to download an email. Food: Quite good. I had osso bucco one night in the MDR and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Had the buffet for breakfast every morning. I think they need to arrange it better, getting everything together and eating it HOT was very difficult. Coffee area also needs better a layout. We never ate lunch on the ship because we were too busy eating and drinking in bars while we were out and about. We also tried the Tuscan Grill, where both food and service were excellent. Casino: Here the facilities show some age. The machines pay in quarters--when is the last time you saw that? But that did not keep me away. I was a regular customer. I heard they are refurbishing it next month. Entertainment: Excellent! We thoroughly enjoyed the Broadway shows, magician, juggler and the cruise director herself doing a one-woman show. She was great. I cannot forget the funniest piano player/singer and comedian Perry Grant. A must see... All in all, we had a great time. The only real frustration was that several of the ports of call required such long bus rides into towns of note. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
The main driver for choosing this cruise was to cruise with friends so they could try Celebrity. We were a group of 8. 2 had cruised celebrity many years previously and did not like the line due to poor time management, 2 are P&O ... Read More
The main driver for choosing this cruise was to cruise with friends so they could try Celebrity. We were a group of 8. 2 had cruised celebrity many years previously and did not like the line due to poor time management, 2 are P&O stalwarts and 2 had never cruised before. So for us the itinerary was to some degree secondary to the timing and the price, so we opted for the cheapest inside cabins which were fine, although 3 did suffer from noise from the adjoining maintenance corridor but Guest Relations were very quick to help with this. We all thought the food was excellent, I have read other reviews of this cruise criticising teh buffet.We never use the buffet normally, this time we did for lunch and breakfast because there were no queues, the food was fresh and hot and there were always plenty of empty tables. Streets ahead of P&O which we have most experience of. MDR experience was again excellent we chose Select dining and pre booked a time online for each night.We were allocated a wonderful table and as we were 8 together it seemed to suit them and us to keep the same table throughout.Service was super, 2 of the group had the wine package and the service to us and them was identical and very attentive, and the wait team worked really well together. We had one meal in Ocean Liners and that was worth the cover charge, especially as they were offering deals of varying sorts to fill it on odd days (we went on an odd day!) The ports were as we expected them to be having researched ahead of time. We opted for private tours or DIY and had a great time. Photos of the ship and the ports are on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jobloor/sets/72157631851176778/ Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This was our first time on Celebrity. We had been told it was an upmarket Royal Caribbean but we found it to be very much on a par. The good news was our cabin. We booked Concierge Class which was well worthwhile. The cabin was very ... Read More
This was our first time on Celebrity. We had been told it was an upmarket Royal Caribbean but we found it to be very much on a par. The good news was our cabin. We booked Concierge Class which was well worthwhile. The cabin was very spacious and had a large shower. We ate breakfast on the balcony most days. We enjoyed the main dining room and the two specialty restaurants. We ate lunch at the AquaSpa cafe - beautiful piece of grilled tuna or salmon with salad. The buffet is just as badly organised as most cruise lines. Couples have to "guard" their tables so one eats while the other gets their next course. I wish other lines could see how well Oceania does buffets. The buffet food quality was significantly below that of the main dining room. The production crew did a great job with their 3 shows. The headline acts left a lot to be desired. The hypnotist spent 40 of his 50 minutes just finding and testing potential subjects leaving little time for any demonstrations. The pianist could only play very quickly and loudly without any subtlety. When the comedy juggler showed that he could juggle spit, we decided to walk out. The ports were very interesting. The only disappointment was Le Verdon which required a $90 per head coach trip to Bordeaux. The highlight was Bilboa with the Guggenheim museum. The outbreak of Norovirus caused a major dislocation to the ship's procedures. Waiters and kitchen staff ensured there was no contact between food and the passengers. Sometimes this went to absurd levels such as dispensing sugar and sweetener sachets individually, removing cotton buds and brochures from the staterooms etc. The activities at sea were fairly minimal for a ship with over 2000 passengers - we have had more variety on much smaller ships. Overall we had a great time. We enjoyed the cruise experience, the ports and the friends we made on board. We would travel Celebrity again if it had an attractive itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We have just returned from our first Celebrity cruise, 12 nights which sailed from Southampton to Le Havre (for Paris), Le Verdon (for Bordeaux), Bilboa, Vigo, and Porto. As my wife is expecting, we asked at check-in if we could be ... Read More
We have just returned from our first Celebrity cruise, 12 nights which sailed from Southampton to Le Havre (for Paris), Le Verdon (for Bordeaux), Bilboa, Vigo, and Porto. As my wife is expecting, we asked at check-in if we could be rushed through which they said no problem and we were moved to the front and we were on the ship within 10 minutes. Big thumbs up. Initial impressions of the ship that although it was a mid-sized ship, the same as our last 2 cruises on the P&O Oceana, it seemed larger with more public areas. The main thing that was missing was the atrium, which was disappointing as this is usually the most impressive part of the ship. After doing a quick tour as the ship I didn't like it, I thought there was too many cafe's, bars that all looked the same and didn't think I would find my bearings. Mid way through the cruise I got used to it, and found it it to be an impressive ship with a good layout. There was a wide variety of nationalities on the ship, a lot from over the other side of the Atlantic and I thought with us being a young couple, we thought we would be fairly lonely on this cruise. However after a day or 2 we started to meet some very nice people, some whom we are staying in though with. We booked an outside cabin mid ship and low, which we were very happy with, especially for the price we paid. It had a large port hole, a small settee, plenty of storage, double shower and plenty of room. Due to the position of the cabin, there was very little movement throughout the cruise and the captain used the stabilisers when he thought it would get rough. Our stateroom attendant was friendly and chatty (even though we called him by his last name all cruise, whoops !) and helped us with anything we needed. In the buffet Sea Side restaurant at the top of the ship there was a good variety of food, from shepherds pie to sushi, and curry's to pizza. The layout wasn't great, you needed to keep going back and forth especially at the drinks station which could have been laid out a lot better and easier. However it was good enough and plenty of seats made sure you were never short of somewhere to sit. We were on an early sitting (6:00) on a table for 2 in the San Marco restaurant which we attended on the second night. The waiters were friendly and helpful but not very personable. As we did a tour to Paris on the third day we asked Oliver the Assistant Maitre D if we could change to the late sitting (8:30). He sorted it and we were moved to a different area of the restaurant. We found it more enjoyable there and the waiters more chatty and entertaining so we asked to be moved permanently which Oliver arranged. After a night or 2 we joined a couple we had befriended in the casino and sat on their table for the rest of the holiday. The food generally wasn't anything special and the service lacked on a few occasions but overall the dining experience was good. On a couple of occasions we had lunch in the Crepe Bistro which for $5 each was definitely worth it. The crepes and paninis were excellent and there was a good atmosphere and good service. One night, Oliver sorted out a reduced price for the Tuscan grill for the 4 of us. It should have been $30 each, but we got it for $24 each plus a complimentary glass of wine. The wine was charged to our bill which we weren't happy about but they removed it when queried. The food and service in the Tuscan Grill was excellent, there were 6 courses: Appetiser, Soup, Pasta Course, Fish Course, Meat Course and Dessert. We couldn't manage the dessert so we arranged to return the following night for it, which wasn't a problem :) In fact we joined another couple we had befriended the following night and they brought us practically every dessert on the menu, they really couldn't do enough for you and I highly recommend this restaurant as a treat. The Casino was large with a lot of tables and slots. The slots needed updating and the tables were $6 minimum to play, so I only played 1 night. I mainly played texas hold em on the electronic table which was $60 per game (house took $10 each). This was the social hub of the ship for me and we met a lot of great people here. The Thalassotherapy pool was great and I went here nearly every day. As there was hardly any sun on this cruise it was great to have this option and would have been a little bored without this. The changing area was very clean and with good facilities including a sauna with a large port hole. The gym had a good variety and number of up to date machines with a separate area for free weights and aerobics. The spa was expensive, but this is par for the course on cruise ships. The Cafe on board with the big yellow chairs was nice to sit in through the day and the herbal teas were great. We didn't attend many shows but the theatre was impressive and what we did see was good. The excursions were many and varied, but all were over priced. This didn't seem to put people off as they are well marketed. We only took 1 trip to Paris which worked out about £80 each and included a sightseeing tour, a couple of hours free time and a cruise down the River Seine. As Paris is about 2.5 hours away from port we thought this was not too bad, but it was a long day. The drinks prices on board were expensive and it was a good job we both weren't drinking as our cruise bill would've been very high ! A 15% tip was added on for each drink which soon adds up. In the cafe you could pay nearly £3.50 for a drink you could get for free in the self service restaurant. Photos were expensive but they didn't seem to hassle you as much on this cruise and quickly scarpered when I said we hadn't spoken for 3 days (works every time :) The tips charges were $11.50/day (£7.15) compared to P&O £3.50/day. We asked for these to be adjusted off as we prefer to pay in cash. For example, we didn't eat in the main restaurant 5 nights so we didn't want to tip the waiters there as we were tipping other waiters elsewhere. The payout for things like Bingo was very low and needs to be addressed. Ports: Le Havre - OK for Paris, but 1 day was enough here. Le Verdon - Rubbish Bilbao - Nice port, plenty to do Vigo - Again nice port Porto - Handy for the beach and not too far from town. Disembarking at the end of the cruise was quick and easy. Overall the cruise was very good (bar the weather) and Celebrity certainly know what they are doing. P&O seem behing the times compared to them and need to up their game. However, we will not be cruising with them in the near future as they wanted to charge £500 + tips for a 6 month old baby when we asked for a quote for next year. We thought this rediculous and will probably get a last minute deal with P&O as they don't charge up to 2 years. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My wife and I booked this cruise on Constellation as an escape from a very dreary summer. We had an ocean view cabin and considered it to be one of the best cruises we had taken. Embarkation was swift and we felt very welcome. Our cabin ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise on Constellation as an escape from a very dreary summer. We had an ocean view cabin and considered it to be one of the best cruises we had taken. Embarkation was swift and we felt very welcome. Our cabin was a good size and well positioned. We dined second sitting in the main dining room and did not feel tempted to try any of the other options the food was of a very high standard We took breakfast in the cafeteria and their was always a good choice. A particular favourite was the roast joint of ham or pork which was presented daily The entertainment was varied and of a high standard. A bonus was the nightly performance of Perry Grant in his lounge. This was the first time we had come across Perry and we hope it will not be the last. The fact that 3 times we stayed overnight in port proved to be a bonus as it gave us more time to do as we pleased We found the staff and crew were very pleasant and helpful. We can only say that the Celebrity experience is one that we would like to sample yet again they certainly set a high benchmark for the rest of the cruise community Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We travelled to Southampton with inter-cruise coaches,we had to pick it up at Burton Wood services as the one from Leeds was full. it took 6hrs with a 45 min stop and two pickups on the way. but once you hand your luggage to the driver you ... Read More
We travelled to Southampton with inter-cruise coaches,we had to pick it up at Burton Wood services as the one from Leeds was full. it took 6hrs with a 45 min stop and two pickups on the way. but once you hand your luggage to the driver you don't see it again till it arrives outside your stateroom. This was my first Celebrity cruise, I must say I was not as impressed as I hoped to be, I found the ship to be quite dark and dull in places, and the Grand Foyer was not very grand at all, we had our photo taken at the bottom of the stairs on one of the formal nights and we look like we are at the bottom of an escalator in a shopping mall.. Cabin. Our cabin I thought better than the ones on Princess as the bathroom and the shower were bigger and the wardrobe had doors. we have always had a balcony before and as we booked at the last moment we could only get a cabin on deck 3, these just have a porthole, the only problem I found was you couldn't open the window and get any fresh air, and they got very stuffy after a short time. We did have a kettle with tea and sugar but no coffee, they had sachets of Hot Chocolate at the buffet to bring down. I wish I had taken my own hair dryer as the one with the hose in the bathroom was rubbish. Plenty of space under the bed for suitcases etc. Our cabin steward was very good and any request was carried out quickly. Duty Free. There was no duty free shop as UK regulations prohibit the on-board sale of Tobacco and Alcohol and perfume etc was subject to 20 percent VAT. Food. We found the food to be very good in the dinning room, but the service was a bit haphazard, we were at a table for 6 on second sitting and I don't think we had one meal where our orders were all correct, we quite often ended up with things we didn't order and had to wait while they were changed, I also have never been asked to reuse the cutlery from my salad to eat my main course before, I thought it was just a blip on the first evening when the waiter put my knife and fork on my side plate to reuse. they did it again on the second night, so this time I asked for clean ones and for the next night till they got the message. Also a couple of nights our meal was nearly over before our wine arrived. but they are small things and the food was beautifully presented and always hot... The buffet was a bit hit and miss and set out a bit oddly with a gap in the middle and if you didn't carry on to the bottom you would miss quite a bit as farther down they had a station doing Eggs Benedict and poached eggs etc, at the bottom end they had the waffle and pancake station and you could go out of the doors there to eat outside. at lunchtime they did hot sandwiches there and Pizzas, in the evening they would cook chicken salmon etc to order and had baked potatoes fries veg salad etc to go with it. they had a pasta station where they would cook to order. Poolside Grille. you could get burgers and hot dogs fries salad etc from 11.30am to 6.00pm. AquaSpa Cafe. light breakfast and lunches with Salmon etc cooked to order. Formal nights. Dress ranged from men wearing trousers and a sports jacket to a Dinner suit, and ladies in anything from a sundress a cocktail dress or full evening dress. The Captains Welcome toast was at 8.30pm while we were having dinner or 10.45pm which was when the show was on in the theater, so the timings were a bit strange Room Service. Room Service was fast and even though a limited choice was tasty and hot. we had our evening meal in our cabin after we go back from Porto, we were so tired we just had dinner and watched a couple of films on TV. We had breakfast on the last morning as we had an early disembarkation, it came on time and was very good and saved us time. Entertainment The shows we went to were quite good, but they are down to personal choice and not everyone has the same taste and I heard people saying the magician was fantastic and also rubbish, so it is up to the individual. Perry Grant who sings and plays the piano in Michael's Bar was quite funny the first couple of times but did more or less the same thing each evening. he had a sort of cult following who he took the mickey out of all the time. there were the usual things like bingo and slot pulls which we didn't go to so can't comment. we did go to Dancing with the officers which was quite funny, that was followed by Karaoke which wasn't, we left after the second rendition of "That's Life" There was a Trivia Quiz now and then and some people took it VERY seriously and got quite cross if they lost, and as the prize was only a sun visor it was not much of a loss. Pools. The outdoor pool was freezing cold, plenty of loungers but a lot were in the shade unless you went up on the top deck where there was no shade at all,the pool attendants did go round removing towels people had left to reserve beds after so long, the indoor Thalassotherapy pool was like a pool sized hot tub with two bubble beds and water spouts to massage your head and neck, this was usually full and people reserved loungers and didn't come back for hours. Shuttle Service. The Shuttle service from the ship cost $15 and the first one was a fiasco, as they had not ordered enough coaches and we waited over an hour, some waited one and a half. when we finally got on the coach we were told it would be complimentary, and we did in fact get a refund, in the end we were refunded for all the shuttles but don't know if this will be the case on future cruises. it seems that we were so far away from anywhere at some of the places we docked it was a bit like you had to pay or be stuck there, one dock was just a few containers and a shed and miles of nothing, no taxis to be had. Excursions. We didn't go on any of the excursions, just did our own thing. Le Havre. At Le Havre we got a taxi into the town which cost 8 euros and as we shared with another couple who were waiting which made it very cheap, we did the same on the second day and went on the little tourist motor train that goes round, it is not hop on hop off though. and cost 5 euros. Bordeaux. At Bordeaux we got the shuttle to Soulac Sur Mer which is a little sea side town with the usual tourist shops and lots of bars for lunch and some nice wine. it's a pleasant place to pass a few hours. Bilbao. We got the Shuttle into Bilbao on the first day about a 25 min journey. it was a five min walk to the Guggenheim, it was only 8 euros to get in as the 3rd floor was closed because they were putting in new exhibits, I don't know what the usual price is. we enjoyed the Hockney exhibit very much as the paintings are from near where we live. we then walked by the river to the old town for lunch and got the tram back to the Guggenheim for 1.40 euros and the shuttle back. the day after we got off and walked round the bay, a nice beach and a couple of hotels. the marina next to the ship had a little shop where we got some 2litre bottles of coke and bottled water to bring on board, we asked our steward to empty the fridge of the pay for drinks so we could chill ours, there was no problem with this. Vigo. At Vigo the ship docks right at the town so we just got off and wandered, it's a beautiful place but very hilly, we had wine and tapas outside a nice bar which was only 16 euros for 4 of us and we had 2 glasses each. there is a shopping mall by the ship where we got one or two gifts to bring home. Porto. Porto we docked at the end of the town and as we came through the terminal celebrity were selling tickets for the yellow hop on hop off bus for 15 euros, there was a very long queue as people who wanted the shuttle to the end of the dock thought that was the queue for them, it was all very badly organised, we just walked out onto the shuttle (it is only a 2 min journey but as it is a working dock we were not allowed to walk) and got the Blue ho ho bus for 10 euros, it was just unfortunate they had a marathon and part of the route was shut to traffic. there was also the red ho ho bus as well but I don't know the price. it was a short day as we had to be back on board for 5.45pm also as it was Sunday hardly anything was open. Wine We were allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine on each time we got back on board, some people got off a couple of times and fetched two bottles on each time. At Porto we got two bottles of Port which were taken from us and returned the last afternoon. Health. My sister picked up a bug the day we left Porto and we had to go to sick bay and they gave her an injection, she was ill the last two days and quarantined, they did not charge for her treatment and she got a letter to say she would get a credit off her next cruise for the time spent in quarantine. another couple of people we talked to were also ill and spent time in quarantine. disembarkation. we were asked to wait in the Rendezvous bar at 7.30am but it was 8.15am by the time we were called as they had problems with offloading the luggage, but once off it was straight to pick up our luggage and out, so only about 15 mins. We just booked the cruise for a nice relaxing holiday and were not much interested in the wine aspect so didn't take much notice of the wine related activities on board, but we did enjoy our cruise and I hope they iron out the difficulties for the next cruise. I would not go on the Constellation again as I didn't think it was anything special but this again is personal taste. and some of the places where we docked left a lot to be desired, but we may look into other Celebrity ships for the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
There have already been several quite comprehensive reviews of Constellation and the 'Immersive Wine Cruise' she's sailing. Without repeating too much, here are our impressions. First up, the Millennium Class Celebrity ... Read More
There have already been several quite comprehensive reviews of Constellation and the 'Immersive Wine Cruise' she's sailing. Without repeating too much, here are our impressions. First up, the Millennium Class Celebrity ships are not as new as the Solstice vessels, but its not all bad. For one thing, they carry fewer passengers and so are less crowded. They have also been 'solsticised' which effectively means redecoration and re-branding of some inside venues. Constellation is 10 years old but there is still life left in this ship and compared with the prices you'll pay for a cruise on a Solstice ship, its worth a look. This cruise attracted a fair few North Americans. Mostly middle aged or retired couples with a passion for Europe and Wine. I'd say they made up around 50-60% of passengers. But if there was any loud vulgarity it wasn't our North American cousins, but the lower end of the cruising market Brits who lowered the tone. We were grateful not to see any football strips being worn though. The ship is suitable for a quieter cruise than one might get on a larger Royal Caribbean ship like Independence of the Seas. But this makes for a more relaxed break. Ports of call were all good. Even Le Verdon which was near to Royan which is worth a visit. Do research and make plans though, to make the best of your time. Food is competent, but no more by cruising standards unless you pay for Ocean Liners and the Tuscan Grill. The MDR is not as accessible as it should be, closing quite early for breakfast and not open for lunch in port. Bad Celebrity! This is not good enough. I suspect that Celebrity were staffing both the Buffet and MDR from the same roster and so were not able to run both venues competently at the same time. Select Dining was not quite so 'select' as Celebrity might like to suggest. We had to wait to be seated most evenings. Logistically I fail to see how it could have been run any better though. This is a case of managing expectations. I think Celebrity slightly oversold Select Dining in order to get those tips prepaid. Still, the waits were not unreasonably long or poorly managed. Entertainment was likewise competent but not exceptional. But at this price do you really get everything? I would have like to have seen more live music in places like the MDR. Alas, the resident string trio were playing in Cafe El Bacio during evening dining times, where you paid to drink the good coffee. I get that you want to drive people to these paid-for venues but the MDR is a big part of the overall experience and should not be neglected in this way. Move the String Trio to where the people are Celeb! Crew were all good. Very attentive, polite and well turned out. Our stateroom attendant earned himself an extra tip. In light of the rather naive and stupid documentary about Celebrity on UK Channel 4 the night we returned, we think we did alright by the guy. I am pleased to say we did not see a towel animal the entire cruise. The pool deck and solarium were the part of the ship where it most showed its age. This is puzzling as 'solsticising' the pool deck should not be too expensive. A bit of new pool furniture?? But that aside, the pool decks were perfectly usable and we could usually find a space. The solarium came in handy when the weather was less accommodating. Our only excursions were shuttle buses and we ended up demanding (and getting) a refund for the utterly dire service in Le Havre, which left me waiting for a shuttle bus for over an hour. It was better value in Bilbao though where proper coaches were used. The service was convenient and frequent, making it worth the $15. In summary I would have no hesitation of paying a similar amount of money to what we paid this time to cruise on Celebrity Constellation again. It perhaps suffers unfairly by comparison with its newer sister ships but is perfectly acceptable by comparison with other ships in the fleets of other lines. Well done Celebrity and Constellation! You've got our £75 open passage booking so you know we'll be back! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
we have just returned from the celebrity wine immersion cruise overall we had a very nice cruise we met nice people, had a nice dining table the food was wonderful and service excellent our cabin was fine although we often heard ... Read More
we have just returned from the celebrity wine immersion cruise overall we had a very nice cruise we met nice people, had a nice dining table the food was wonderful and service excellent our cabin was fine although we often heard noises, laughing, and conversations from cabins nearby some stuffing had been put in the door between our neighbouring cabin our cabin girl jennifer remembered us from another cruise.. amazing the prices on the excursions were very high so we only took one to paris as we had never been there before otherwise we did our own thing with hop on buses royon and soulac were disasters at royon we found the tourist board and there were wine tours but we didn't know that you had to phone for a taxi and we had no phone we waited at a taxi stand in the rain for quite a while but of coarse no taxi came also at soulac there were no taxis to go to wineriesalso at le havre we shared a taxi for 6 and went to honfleur which was a beautiful medieval village, had a great time wandering, eating mussels and having wine we also found the prices for on board drinks,wine packages high and $25 for corkage is really alot at southampton we booked the holiday inn online, not knowing that it was out in the wilderness Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This is a fairly new concept for Celebrity, and overall I am very happy with our cruise. We began by spending three nights in London, staying at the Judd Hotel. The location was fantastic, being near subways, rail, and many sites we wanted ... Read More
This is a fairly new concept for Celebrity, and overall I am very happy with our cruise. We began by spending three nights in London, staying at the Judd Hotel. The location was fantastic, being near subways, rail, and many sites we wanted to visit. Also, many pubs and restaurants in the area. On the 19th, we traveled to Southhampton and boarded the Constellation, which has been "Solsticized." While it was updated and overall very lovely, I would go for the true Solstice ships the next time. Our stateroom was plenty large, tho the balcony was very small. As the weather was cool, it did not become a problem as we spent little time on it. The Wine Cellar had self-service wine stations, which were convenient, but I had expected they would change the wines frequently so that we could try many different labels. That did not happen. The itinerary was what drew us to this cruise, and it did not disappoint. We first had a sea day, which was welcome as we had been on the go nonstop in London. Our first port was Vigo, of which we got to see little (our own choice). We were picked up at the pier by Brendan of Guided Galicia and left for Santiago de Compostela. Our tour there was very enjoyable...Brendan was an excellent guide and we learned and saw so much. After touring the cathedral, the office for the pilgrim certification and some little shops we got back in the van and saw more of the countryside. We visited Lagar de Costa winery and met with Sophia, part of the family, and tasted several of their wines. Very good!! After buying some of the wine we headed out and saw more beautiful scenery. We then went to Cambarro, a harbor town that was very picturesque and had a delicious seafood and omelette luncheon (with local wine of course). Next was Oporto, Portugal, another beautiful hilly town. We toured the Cathedral, then went to the Calem Cave to learn about and taste port. From there we boarded a boat to take us for a tour on the Douro River. We saw very interesting architecture and also saw a bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel. I really fell in love with Porto. Back to Spain, Bilbao this time, we took a tour of the Basque country visiting a small fishing town plus the city of Guernika. Our guide was steeped in Basque culture and educated us in the importance of this area to democracy. That afternoon, upon returning to ship, we walked about 45 minutes along the harbor get to the shopping area in Gekxo. The next day we took the shuttle into Bilbao, another beautiful and progressive city. I could easily go back and spend a week there. We visited the Guggenheim Museum and loved walking in the city and just observing the buildings. Quite an impressive area! That night we ran into some heavy seas in the Bay of Biscay...I'm not a good sailor and the Constellation's movement ended my evening very early. The next day was much better and we were sailing to France. Our first port was Bordeaux. Actually the port is in Le Verdon, quite a ways out from anything, so we spent our two days here doing alot of bus riding. The first day we went to St. Emilion, a Medieval town with steep winding streets surrounded by acres of lush vineyards. On the way we passed many chateaux and vineyards. We did alot of walking in St. E, took a ton of pictures. I loved seeing the town and the surrounding area, but I think our guide was new. She didn't seem real comfortable with her English and was a little stand-offish.We reboarded the bus and drove a short way to a chateau and wine cave for a very lovely and delicious luncheon and wine tasting. It was a buffet with roasted meats, wonderful salads, cheeses, desserts and two or three bottles of wine. Made the long drive back to the ship very good for napping! The next morning we took the "Bordeaux on Your Own" excursion and had cafe and croissants on the square near the Grand Theatre. We walked about quite and bit before meeting our guide, Patricia, from Bordeaux Walking Tours. She is American but has lived several years in France. She studied architecture and her enthusiasm for that subject is contagious! We learned (and saw) so much with her. She also educated us on the city's mayor who has pulled Bordeaux into a thriving city with modern transportation and regulations for keeping the city's historical buildings restored and cleaned so that everything is a treat for the eyes. The riverfront that he developed is filled with gardens and an amazing reflection/bathing pond. I would love to go back to Bordeaux also and spend much more time! We sailed that afternoon for Le Havre. We had our last sea day and last formal night before reaching port. We never did see much of Le Havre, because we left the next morning for an excursion to Giverney and to Rouen. Giverney is home to Claude Monet's home/museum and gardens. We spent a couple hours here just soaking in the beautiful flower and water gardens. Sooooo gorgeous!! After, we drove a short distance to a restaurant in the countryside. It had been a millhouse and still had the water wheel working. We had a very lovely 3 course meal here with wine. We were impressed both with the beauty of the setting and the food served. Leaving here we drove to Rouen and saw where Joan of Arc was tried and burned at the stake, where the Black Plague victims were buried (80% of the population was wiped out in less than a week), a modern church dedicated to St. Joan. It is a city with both midieval buildings and new. The cathedral is impressive as are the city's many bridges. Leaving here we had another hour or so drive to return to the ship. The next morning we packed up and left the ship by taxi for the train station in Le Havre. (The ship would sail back to Southhamption the next day.) We traveled into Paris and checked into our hotel, Le Petit Paris in the Latin Quarter. We spent 4 nights there and loved this chic little boutique hotel. Our rooms were small but efficient and very comfortable. After four days of non-stop walking and tour (and eating and drinking) we finally left for Charles De Gaulle and flew home. We have fond memories of our time on ship. While I still prefer the larger Solstice ships I cannot fault any of the service or food we received on the Constellation. Our cabin attendant, Mathys, was very helpful and kept our room spotless. Our dining room servers, Moses and Olga, were fantastic. I feel the meals served on this cruise were some of the best we've ever had on ship. All in all, I highly recommend this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
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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