Hi, I will write this review in my best English but it is not my mother language so I am sure I will make mistakes, I hope this won't bother the readers too much. We are from the Netherlands and we are 58 and 51 years old.
This was our second cruise on Celebrity Constellation. Last year we had a Transatlantic from Miami to Amsterdam. We then found out that the ship is quite small, there was not much to do aboard. So, we decided never to have a transatlantic cruise with Constellation again. But.....this was something completely different. A lot of ports, not well known, we took the change.
We booked in oktober 2013 when it was still quiet in the Ukraine. Sadly, things changed. Celebrity offered us a different cruise with different ports, no longer the Ukrain. Although we thought this was not a really good alternative, we understood. There was no compensation from Celebrity for people who booked early, instead there was a real price drop so we payed too much. Well, as long as the cruise is nice, that doesn't matter.
We embarked in Istanbul. This was very good. No lines, from taxi to deck 10 took us less than 20 minutes! Our cabin was ready in a short while and our suitcases arrived half an hour later. Fantastic! In Istanbul we stayed for 3 nights in Hotel Amira. Nice hotel, beautiful rooms and five stars service!
We went to dinner in the MDR. We always have second seating and we always ask for a table for 6 persons. We usually end up with people from our own country but this time we shared the table with four people from the UK. Very nice company, our dinners were the highlight of the cruise!
Unfortunately, the weather wasn't all that good. But our captain was fantastic. He sailed detours and changed the itinerary to avoid storms and he managed to dock in two ports where we should have used the tenders. So, a big hooray for the captain!
Entertainment on board was what we expected. We had three production shows. Those were the same as 16 months ago. Very good, but nothing new. We also saw the show of a magician, White Magic, very good. And a show of a singer, Peter Grant, he was very good. We didn't see any other shows. Because we had second seating at 8.30 we went to the shows at 7.00, that was well organised.
But unfortunately, all the shows later in the evening in Reflections started at 10.30. The activity manager thought that a dinner that started at 8.30 must end at 10.00. This was not the case, not a single evening. We always got dessert at 10.35-10.40 so when we finished, we gave our card to the sommelier, waited to get it back, then ran through Rendez Vous, Martini Bar, Casino and Photoshop to the elevators. We got up to Reflections at deck 11 to find out that the show was nearly over. Usually when we got in we heard the host say: We are now at the end of the show! Very disappointing. We missed quizshows and Karaoke. The Karaoke finals (a big succes, Reflections was overcrowded) last for only 30 minutes! What a shame, because everybody enjoyed it and after the final song, everybody " ran " away and there were only 30 people left. I can't believe why the entertainment team (last year 4 people worked there, this year 3) didn't give more time to the successful items.
Since our last cruise on Constellation, 16 months ago, it was obvious that there was less staff. You could see that in Oceanview. Tables were not cleaned in time. Several persons were looking for a table, a lot of tables still had leftovers and dishes from former eaters. The staff had no time to clean it quickly. Also there was one person walking around for barservice. We ordered once with this person but it took more than half an hour to get our drinks. Obviously we already finished our meal. That's why from that moment on we got our drinks ourselves. We had beverage packages, tips were included. The tip was always the same: ordering at a waiter who brought it with glass and ice was as much tip as getting it at the bar yourself in a can for takeaway. Hmmm....My husband liked the specialty coffees at El Bacio. Waiting time over there was sometimes very long, like twenty five minutes. There were long lines for take away. More staff would have been a good idea.
Since Michaels Pub is now only for elite members and the Martini Bar (a great hit on our last cruise with a DJ who played crooner music, every evening it was hard to find a free chair) was ment for an other audience (with a DJ for people in their 20's) with lots of open places at night, there was only Reflections and Rendez Vous for bands to play. Both rooms were very big. Sometimes it should have been better to have a more intimate room for a few dancers but that's not available on Celebrity. Most people on board were in their 50's and 60's and then there were a few older and a few younger. We were surprised about the music choice in the public rooms. Too young!!!!!
Celebrity claims to put much effort in the environment. That's a good thing of course. We couldn't rhyme this with the pictures taken on board. There must have been taken thousands and thousands. They sold this pictures for 25 USD a piece !!!!!! Of course a lot of pictures where not sold. These pictures gave a lot of garbage. Not so good for environment. I have a suggestion: make the pictures less expensive (how about 5 USD a piece). You will sell much more and it's better for the environment.
We had the laundry done. When we got it back, one pantyhose was lost and one was torn down. We had no evidence of the dirty laundry we put in the bag. An advice for everyone: try to avoid laundry services.
We had 2 formal nights and a semi formal night. We were not familiair with a semi formal night, so we asked at Guest Relations. They didn't know either. Hmmm.....We like to dress up for formal nights, so did our table mates. It was a real pleasure to see so many beautiful suits and dresses. It's a pity that Celebrity didn't do anything extra on this nights. No special menu, all very modest.
The food was good but not fantastic. We missed extra things like a brunch or a dessert festival. There was nothing extra. You should think Celebrity would do this to compensate for the poor itinerary. But they didn't.
We had several ports where no passenger had been before, I'm sure. You could take a shore excursion but we all know this is very expensive and not always good, you are with 55 people and often have to wait. We don't like shore excursions. There was a lady from Shore Excursions who told us about the ports, doing them on your own. That could have been nice but her information was not so good. For example, she told us that Aya Sofia in Trabzon was beautiful (she even showed us pictures of a beautiful ceiling) and she said it was an easy short walk tot Aya Sofia. Well, first of all, it took 90 minutes of walking to get there. No easy walk. Second of all, the ceiling was hidden behind curtains. Very disappointing. Also the only thing she told about Sinop was that it was a happy city with happy people. She forgot to mention the prison, very impressive and close to the ship. It looked like she didn't do her homework well.
It was not possible to write a review for all the ports we visited because the options Burgas, Constanta, Trabzon and Sinop where not listed. So, I will tell something about these ports in this part of the review.
Burgas is a small village in Bulgary. Friendly with a park and shops. Interesting?.....no. We took an excursion to Nessebar. It was 40 minutes by bus, we had 3 hours free time. Nice little village with old elements. We liked it very much.
Constanta in Rumania didn't have good critics so we decided to stay on board (it was also raining, not really inviting). From people who went to Constanta we heard it was a very sad city. All these people should have stayed on board if they had only knew. We think Celebrity better skips Constanta en make a two days stop in Athens.
Trabzon in Turkey was a nice place with good shops. Since there are not too much tourists there, they didn't pull you into their shops. Very pleasant. But interesting?....no.
Sinop had a good museum, it was a prison. We spent lots of time there, although just visiting. They had a nice port and good shops. We liked it there. And the same as in Trabzon: not too much tourists so we were not pulled into shops. But again....interesting?.....no.
Well, the cruise went on and on. We had a good time, nice cabin, reasonable food, great table mates and we had some fun time in the ports. But then THE LETTER ARRIVED.
It was the disembarkationletter. We made 4 cruises before (2 RCL, 1 HAL and 1 CEL). On all of these cruises we were asked what time we wanted to leave the ship. This time we flew at 2.40 pm so we wanted to leave around 11.30 am, if possible. Unfortunately we had no choice, we had to leave at 7.40 am!!!!! I was never before in a 5 star hotel where checkout time was 7.40! There was no other option. The day before we already arrived in Istanbul. We tried to find a luggage storage at the port. There was none. The staff in the port didn't speak English but it was clear: no luggage storage. We went into town and found one next to the Taksim Square. On the day of disembarkation we got our suitcases in the port. My suitcase was broken. Two of the four wheels where off. Just opposite of the handle, so it was very hard to walk with it. We tried to find people from Celebrity but we didn't. Nobody spoke English so we went off.
This departure (way too early, way too unfriendly and leaving us with a broken suitcase) was not the best departure ever. It gave a bitter sauce over our sweet cruise. THAT'S NO MODERN LUXURY!!!!!
We had a concierge class cabin on deck 8. It was clean, there was enough space for our clothes, it was fine. We never had flowers or hors d'oevres, but maybe you had to ask for them? We don't know and we don't bother to much. We read at Cruise Critic that cabins on deck 9 had less sun on the balcony because of the overhang. That's why we choose a cabin on deck 8. Well, we also had less sun, this was because of the overhang in the Oceanview Cafe. This only matters when you have a cabin on the aft part of the ship. On the fourth night of the cruise I had a little injury on my foot. There was a little blood involved. This blood came on the sheets. Well, I thought in a 12 night cruise the sheets would be changed every few days but...till the last night we had the same set of sheets (I could see that because of the blood). I wasn't concerned about it but I am a little surprised because I think on a 5 star cruise the sheets should be changed once in a while. We only had one night with a chocolate surprise and two nights with animals (we think, didn't recognize them) made of towels. Although we both had a beverage package, we still had to pay for the water in the room. Hmmm.....
Nice town, big park, nice shops, fine restaurants. Nothing special. Friendly people.
We had a private tour (only for the two of us with a Dutch guide) in Efese. Very good. We also spend a little time in the shops in the port. Not to special and the shop owners were very determent to get you into their shops. That was a bit overwhelming, not nice.
We took a hop on hop off bus, just outside the port. It's a pity the port is a long ride from the center. But the center of Athens was fantastic. We only had time till 6.00 pm, but I think this better had been a port where we could stay the night to have two days there. Lots to see, nice people, good food.
Nice little town, beautiful houses and colors. Nice shops. Very small town. One day is enough.
We spent some time before the cruise in Istanbul in Sultanahmet. Very good, nice things to see. A pity that the shop owners and restaurant owners all try to get you into their business. Very annoying. Taksim Square not so good, I have seen much more better squares than this one. Galatay bridge is nice, remember if you want to visit Blue Mosque (not so blue) you have to wait for at least 90 minutes.