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14 Southampton Celebrity Constellation Cruise Reviews

We expect a lot from Celebrity and they delivered. Connie, as the Constellation is affectionately called by her many afficianados, is well maintained and a pleasure to spend on for multiple days at sea. The Cruise Director's staff ... Read More
We expect a lot from Celebrity and they delivered. Connie, as the Constellation is affectionately called by her many afficianados, is well maintained and a pleasure to spend on for multiple days at sea. The Cruise Director's staff did an excellent job with the entertainment and activities, plenty to do for those who wanted to be busy but also many comfortable places for reading and relaxationn. The cuisine is above average for cruise lines; it's not Oceania but well about average, well prepared and varied Let's follow the outlinee: Getting to the ship: We flew to London a couple days early to reacquaint with that great city. Stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Earl's Court. Not luxe, but adequate in a very costly city and convenient to the metro and buses. (HIghly recommend the Oyster Pass for transportation). Train from Waterloo to Southhampton is convenient and frequent, make reservations online in advance for best rates. We paid only 6 pounds per person for the trip. Taxi from Southhampton Central Station is only a couple of pounds and readily available. Boarding process was somewhat chaotic. Extensive security screening, long lines and slow. Once beyond security, check-in was not so troublesome. All in, it took about an hour from arrival at the port to boarding. Once on board, about 2 pm, cabins were not ready as the ship was once again doing deep cleaning to guard against recurrence of the norovirus that had reared its ugly head on a couple of prior cruises for Constellation. (Before going on, let me say there was no noro on this cruise to the best of my knowledge. Diligent handwashing and use of sanitizers, as well as "hands-off service at the Buffet and the dining room, seem to have worked.) Shortly after 3, announcement made that cabins were ready for occupancy. Cabin: We had a veranda (read balcony) cabin on deck 9 directly below the Seaside Cafe (read Buffet). We had seen commentary that these cabins were subject to noise disturbance in the night; we had no such problem and the overhang from the deck above made the veranda quite comfortable and weather proof Cabin seemed smaller that on some lines but was adequate. We were not sure the veranda would be useful on transatlantic but we used it daily for reading or just relaxing. We stayed busy enough that we did not have breakfast on the veranda but are sure it would have been a lovely experience. Shower was spacious, even for a large person like myself. Despite some commentary about Celebrity, shower gel is available but not part of the routine supply in the bathroom, just ask for it. Closet space was fully adequate. Only complaint:beds are hard, not a generous mattress on a hard platform. Potential cruisers looking for some real space might want to look at the Family Veranda cabins on the stern, they are fabulous. Cuisine: It is difficult to evaluate the cuisine on cruises these days. They all seem to get some things very right, and some not so right. On balance, Celebrity hits the mark more frequently than some of the others. perhaps just a teeny notch above RCI and more above NCL but in a close contest with HAL and Princess. We did not test the speciality dining rooms as the meals in the MDR were always more than acceptable (and Celebrity may have pushed the envelope just a tad too much with its cover charges for the speciality dining rooms). Menus in MDR were offered wide variety of well prepared meal, with only one repeat menu on a relatively long cruise. Service staff, at least for our table, was attentive, professional and appropriately friendly. (It may have helped that the lead waiter was Turkish and we were able to greet him and carry on rudimentary conversation in Turkish, nevertheless dinner was always a pleasant experience.) The Seaside Cafe offered excellent choices for breakfast ,including a station devoted to poached eggs and the range of dishes possible with poached eggs. (Great oat bran muffins too) The creperie ($5 cover charge per person) offers a reasonable and very attractive option for lunch. Activities: Not much to say here. I go overboard with Trivia. There were at least 4 opportunities per day, including progressive. But there was much more. Three speakers, one on golf, one on esoteric things like medieval alcohol and tattooing and one, the most popular, on famous criminal cases out of Los Angeles gave daily lectures on sea days. Culinary demonstrations involving a guest celebrity chef were well received and fun. Since this array will change on each and every cruise, the details are not important, just that Celebrity and the staff did a fine job of ensuring that the sea days were full of activities, with a range of subjects to appeal to most anyone. Entertainment: Classical pianist, entertaining violinist, three vocalists with superior talent, plus a resident cast that performed the compulsory production shows, and supporting it all a first class orchestra. Perhaps the best lineup of entertainment on any of our many cruises Ship Connie is well maintained. Celebrity ships are not up to HAL in terms of decor but Connie boasts lots of fine art and well decorated public space. We prefer the vast promenade on some of the RCI ships but space was never a problem on Connie, she seemed particularly roomy in all the public areas. Should mentiion here that the senior officers on board, up to and including the Captain, were seen throughout the ship, friendly and approachable. 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
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
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
I'll start at the beginning because that is a very good place to start. We had originally booked a transatlantic on Celebrity Equinox for November 25 but we had to scuttle those plans thanks to a condition I contracted called Charcot ... Read More
I'll start at the beginning because that is a very good place to start. We had originally booked a transatlantic on Celebrity Equinox for November 25 but we had to scuttle those plans thanks to a condition I contracted called Charcot Foot which resulted in four months in a cast and the prospect of life in a wheelchair. In mid-October I was given the good news that I could walk very limited steps and my orthopedic surgeon saw no reason that we couldn't get away for a little r&r while between medical appointments. That very evening we were scouring the websites to find a crossing that would fit into our timeframes. We ended up with our favourite line, Celebrity, and Concierge Class accommodation on the Connie that was less in money than a normal verandah. Ever conscious of the dollars being spent so close to Christmas, we found a most reasonable airfare with Icelandair and, a month later, we were on our way! I won't go into the trials of travelling with a wheelchair. For those impressions please visit the home page of www.barrier-freecruising.com. We arrived at Heathrow following a fourteen hour journey from Toronto to Boston to Reykjavik to London. Kind of long but, at $520pp, I'm not complaining. Because of a tight arrival time, and our luggage plus a wheelchair, I decided to surprise Barb by renting a car and driver for the trip to Southampton. He met us in the baggage area, loaded our cases and chair and soon we were on our way. We only made one stop during the ninety minute drive and our driver pointed out some of the landmarks along the way. There was a delay boarding the ship due to a shortage of ship's crew assigned to assist some of the special needs passengers but, despite this, the entire time spent from cab to shipboard was no more than thirty minutes. Having crossed the Atlantic the other direction in spring on Celebrity Eclipse, it was hard not to start comparing the two ship styles right away. The first was the Seaside Cafe where we went to get a nibble or three while waiting for the cabins to be prepared. I will mention right at the start that Constellation was still undergoing a strict health regime due to an outbreak of Norovirus on an earlier November outing. For the first five days of our cruise all food handling was done by the Celebrity staff right down to putting salt and pepper on your food in the dining room. It meant for slower lines in the cafe but Barb and I appreciated the situation and the ship's most cautious response. Some people actually enjoyed the additional pampering. Back to the Seaside Cafe. I immediately missed the 'food islands' concept on Eclipse and the other solstice ships. There was nothing wrong with the food. It was completely up to Celebrity standards but I think the idea of the separate serving areas makes for a much quicker flow from chaffing dish to tray to table to tummy. I did like the way some of the eating areas by the windows actually jutted over the sea and you could look down to the ocean below. We made our way to the cabin when it was announced they were ready. Celebrity advertises that Concierge Class includes fresh flowers, fruit and savouries in the room as well as upgraded bed linens, bath robes and a 'pillow menu'. The room itself appeared smaller than the same category on Eclipse but, according to the ships' deck plans, they are almost the same size. Could be the layout. Past CC reviews have referred to stains and other signs of age in their staterooms. I looked but I didn't see anything worth mentioning. I should state that we booked a C1 and not an accessible AC since these sell out very quickly due to the limited number available. I was able to fold the wheelchair and hobble around between bed and bath and Saline, our room steward, rustled up a shower stool for me. I get to try the AC category when Barb, her wheelchair-bound daughter and I re-board Eclipse again to head back across the pond in spring. Something was very wrong in the dining room on the first two nights. Orders were mixed up and, worst of all, on the second night out we waited almost an hour for our appetizers and another hour plus for our entrees to arrive. We, and the others at the table, were very upset by this and let Customer Service know. We learned a week into the cruise that our wait team had originally been assigned to five tables and not just the two that they would normally serve. We were further upset that no proper apology was made by the maitre d' and, in fact, he never once approached our table during the entire cruise. It appeared that he delegated his assistant maitre d' to deal with the complainers. The food was Celebrity good and we felt that, on Constellation, the portions were actually bigger than on Eclipse. We didn't try any of the specialty dining venues but the feedback from fellow travellers seemed to be all positive. Cruise Director Sue Denning and her staff seemed to have the pulse of the ocean going passengers and only missed the mark when it came to the deejays late at night. But then again, with the great food, ocean air, theatrical shows and a daytime of tours and events, who needs to stay up late anyway? The shows were some of the best I have seen at sea. The dance/singing troupe worked their hearts out and I really don't know how they did two shows a night. If one guest performer really stood out I would have to say it was Sean O'Shea. It has been a long time since I have watched such a high energy show. His sense of timing is impeccable and it was one show I hated to see come to an end. By the way, Sue and some of her entourage, including Perry Grant (like him or not) move to Eclipse later this winter and I wish she could bring that orchestra with her. As the kids say.. they are AWESOME! We did three shore excursions.. all on our own. In Le Havre we hired Patrice, a local cabbie who is proud of his town, his region and his car. We shared the cab for three hours with another passenger and drove all around the historic city and then to the stunning cliffs at Etretat. Total cost was 50Euros each with tip. In Lisbon (Lisboa) we teamed up with Johnny, a 24 year old cabbie whose family has been in the tourism business for decades and who, himself, studies tourism to obtain a degree. His English was excellent and he took the two of us through every side street of the old district, out to the Belem area, let us shop and take pictures whenever and wherever we wanted.. all for a total price of 80Euros, tip included. Our last stop was Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands. Again we elected to do our own sightseeing and our driver was Alberto. Between his limited English and our fractured Spanish, we wound our way from Santa Cruz to Porto de la Cruz with the majestic Tede volcano dominating the scenery. He knew which stops would yield the best pictures. Altogether a nice three hours costing 80Euros. By the time we reached Tenerife the weather was already nice and warm.. for a pair of Canadians. It would take several days at sea for the southern Florida crowd to start to feel at home. How was the crossing? With only one five hour exception when we encountered some swells, it was smooth and steady as she goes. There was plenty, or little, to do during those eight days. Sherene made our visits to the shops enjoyable, the cooking demonstrations were as much fun as they were informative (maybe more), the strolling acapela group popped up everywhere and, as previously mentioned, the nighttime shows in the theatre were top notch. We didn't spend a lot of time on the upper decks by the pools or in the solarium, but instead made great use of our balcony.. me for laying back and snoozing while Barb work hard on finishing a Christmas stocking for one of her children. I fondly say that Barb cross-stitched her way across the Atlantic. We purchased our airport transfers while on the ship and disembarkation went very smoothly and soon we were at MIA waiting for our flight home. I would certainly sail on Celebrity Constellation again. Except for the usual high volume times, her elevators were never crowded, the hallways easy to negotiate (except next time I will bring a stroller.. too much carpeting for wheelchair users), the service was excellent and friendly and the food was Celebrity good. We are booked on Eclipse in the spring but, this time, in an accessible stateroom. Roll on April! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Celebrate with Celebrity Constellation What a difference a year makes! Last Year's Transatlantic was on RCCL Navigator not so good. This year Constellation was a 9 out of 10 Hard to believe that they are part of the same RCCL ... Read More
Celebrate with Celebrity Constellation What a difference a year makes! Last Year's Transatlantic was on RCCL Navigator not so good. This year Constellation was a 9 out of 10 Hard to believe that they are part of the same RCCL family. The entire trip will have created fond memories. In Southampton we stayed at the Hotel Mercure very reasonable and only a 10 minute walk to the Pier. Boarding at 11:00 AM was slow so we went shopping at the excellent West Quay Mall came back at 2 PM boarding took only 10 minutes. Superlatives for all the restaurants, Gym was above average, I just wish that the dry sauna was turned on before 7AM when the gym was full. The ship personnel were always friendly. The Entertainers as well as Sue the cruise director were entirely appropriate for the demographics of this sailing. Every evening was enjoyable. The dress suggestions for Formal/Dress-up Dinners were well upheld even providing a Jacket for the men who didn't have one. We so appreciated the restraint in using the ship's Public address system to a minimum they assume appropriately that guests will & can read the daily activities newsletter. Diane Hedricks Zumba classes twice a day were SO appreciated by my Wife as well as the other 90 guests. Finally a word to the Stuffy/Elite 5% of our fellow passengers who felt that this was their exclusive private cruise,they would be happier chartering their own Boat next time, Especially the lady who insisted on turning down the music since it disturbed her ability to read in silence during the Zumba class in the Reflections lounge. Overall it must be obvious by this review that Celebrity Constellation is very high on our favorite Cruise ships list. 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
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
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 joined the ship at Southampton, having travelled down from lancashire, on the cruise connections coach. this was a very good start to the cruise, because it is so much easier than flying to a cruise port. We arrived about one ... Read More
We joined the ship at Southampton, having travelled down from lancashire, on the cruise connections coach. this was a very good start to the cruise, because it is so much easier than flying to a cruise port. We arrived about one o'clock, and embarkation was smooth. soon we were in our cabin, met Colin our stateroom assistant, who was most welcoming. the cabin was spotless, as usual with celebrity ships. We then had lunch, wandered arround the deck, and then got ready for emergency lifeboat drill. The drill took place in the theatre, which i think is OK, but i also think that we should go onto the actual deck, so that the experience of an actual emergency can be felt. people were talking and not taking much notice of instructions. a list of peoples room numbers were read out, there were a few, how foolish can they be. We have been on a few cruises, but there were people who have never been on a ship before, and i think that for these people alone, to stand and think and try on life-jackets is more educational than sitting in a warm theatre, with people laughing and not listening is not good. Dinner was as usual great, with a lovely table of eight. We soon became friends, and shared our daily experiences with them each evening. The service was great. good choices on the menu. During the cruise we ate in the cafe, for breakfast and lunch, and there again the food was good and service excellent. We sometimes had a burger of kebab on the outside deck, at lunch, while sitting in the sun. On this ship there are always plenty of sunbeds, and with plenty of space unlike the larger ships, when the beds are all squeezed together, and you are touching the person next to you. The pool towels were always taken care of by the pool butlers, and were lovely also there were blankets, the previous trip had been to the Balkans, but we had a couple of days, when they were most welcome. The entertainment on Constellation was very good, it had something for everyone, and the costumes were lovely. the entertainment manager Steve Gayda was very friendly and was always about the ship, and happy to say hello, which is so nice, and pleasant. All the Staff and Officers were extremely friendly and approachable, the Officers, were to be seen all over the ship, taking part in various competitions, all good fun the crews Celebrity's got talent show was very good as well. We are members of the Captains Club and the host Graeme Kelleher was the best. He was so wellcoming, and friendly with everybody. The events, were all very well organised. Thank you Graeme. This was the first wine trip, we ourselves are not wine drinkers, but went along fot the wonderful itinery. We didnt go on any organised excursions, but had a great time, adventuring in the wonderful ports of call. So all in all lovely ship, great crew, very relaxing what more could you ask for.Thank You Celebrity . Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We found this itinerary interesting and the cruise turned out to be a winner. The itinerary included 3 overnight stops for Paris, Bordeaux & Bilbao and that allowed for additional time to enjoy the stops. The pace of the cruise ... Read More
We found this itinerary interesting and the cruise turned out to be a winner. The itinerary included 3 overnight stops for Paris, Bordeaux & Bilbao and that allowed for additional time to enjoy the stops. The pace of the cruise allowed for ample down time at sea to recharge, rest and burn off some of the extra calories that are a part of cruising. The weather wasn't the greatest as we had several days of rain including at sea. The cruise definitely had a wine theme but it was not overbearing and beer afficionados like myself could enjoy the experience equally as much. The food in the dining was good. We had dinner at each of the specialty restaurants. Both had excellent service. Tuscan Grill is worth the surcharge but I would not say the same about Ocean Liners as that is just average. The service was excellent throughout the trip and the guy doing bingo was worth the admission cost. The entertainment was pretty good. The Celebrity players hit a home run each show and there was good jazz in the lounges. The make up was about 50/50 American to European which I find enjoyable. There was no port option of Bordeaux so I am including my review in this section as that was definitely one of the highlights of the voyage. The trip includes an overnight stay at port. We elected to take the cruiseline bus tour into Bourdeaux but did not return. The bus dropped us off right in the heart of Bordeaux and we were walking distance to our hotel. We did a city tour on our own as they offer an audio guided trip through the city in English. The tour was about 1.5 hours and well worth it. From there we walked the town to a few churches and along the river. Dinner in Bordeaux was memorable as our hotel directed us to a little fish restaurant in town and there were no tourists. Bordeaux definitely does not get the tourists like Paris. Day 2 was private tour from Bordeaux through the wine country with a couple of stops for tasting and a vineyard tours. The wine country is absolutely gorgeous and we enjoyed the ride through the countryside and were dropped off right at the port by our guide. Be mindful that the port for Bordeaux is desolate so you can't just walk off the boat to stroll through town. If you don't do an excursion then you will need to rely on the ship activities. 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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