It’s been a few years since cruising with Celebrity and our second time on Constellation. The ship was in better condition than the first time with everything spotlessly clean and tidy. Standards are good throughout although lots of extras have been dropped and onboard prices have soared, hence we decided to spend our money onshore in the local community instead.
Embarkation was quick and efficient and we were now allowed onboard immediately without having to wait endlessly in the halls whilst they cleaned the cabins although you do have to wait on the ship until the cabins are ready but at least you can explore or have lunch which we did.
We had an inside cabin this time, 8097 as didn’t feel like paying for a balcony just to see the Adriatic coast which is nothing particularly spectacular. The cabin was small but everything was convenient for us to get ready quickly and it encouraged us to spend more time outdoors on deck. The bed was hard but that was just fine for us and we asked for feather pillows which made our sleeps fantastic. The air con worked superbly so was never too hot or too cold. The bathroom always smelled stale and musty but a few sprays of perfume changed all that unless you had to get up in the night when the smell was noticeable. The cabin was pretty well insulated against noise but a group of women next door did shout and giggle most of the time so we did hear them. The cabin steward was excellent and kept everything very clean and tidy with a constant supply of fresh towels etc. The real downside of our cabin was that it had bedbugs. Each morning we woke with lots of bites but didn’t put two and two together until we got home and read up about our spots, hmm, fitted the description perfectly. Have notified Celebrity.
Meals in the cafe were very ordinary with lots of choices missing from our previous cruise but acceptable nonetheless and should cover most people’s taste. Coffee was particularly dreadful and bread choices limited. Restaurant meals were really nice with a good selection. Silver service has given way to food being plated in the kitchen which was probably much better as food didn't get cold. The little extras like a chocolate with the coffee has disappeared. Service for all meals was good and staff kept the tables clean. Didn't eat in any of the speciality restaurants.
Shore excursions are a ridiculous price, we only went on the Mount Etna and Jewellery making/shopping trip at $72 per person, this was a 6 hour tour and very good. The walk around a spent crater on Etna's rim was thronged with people as was the whole area, commercialised to the limit. The jewellery making house was beautiful and we were provided with a nice spread of snacks and wine after being shown around. On the way back to the ship we asked to be dropped off in Catania so we could have a quick look around the town which incidentally isn’t very exciting.
The itinerary was great as we only spent two days at sea and on these days there were plenty of things to occupy your time around the ship and catch up with your sleep/eating/drinking. We chose this cruise for the ports of call. We love old architecture and quaint places so as photographers this was a dream. I wrote to Celebrity before leaving home asking for docking arrangements in the ports and was told they were all in town but was annoyed to find when we were onboard that Zadar and Split were a good 20 minute bus ride away, (far too far to walk there and back) for which we were charged $12 per person, an extra spend of $48 for transfers which should have been provided free of charge. Wouldn’t have minded had we been informed correctly in the first instance.
Entertainment was good but nothing out the ordinary and seemed to be shorter than what we remembered on previous cruises but a scant hour was long enough. We had second sitting in the restaurant so went to the show before dining. The constant hindrance of the ship’s photographers became so intrusive that we did our best to avoid areas where we knew they were. The shopping emporium was nothing new, same old, same old, sell, sell, sell.
Disembarkation went smoothly from the ship until we got outside when it then became bedlam. Along with many others we had an airport transfer included but there was no place to wait for an hour and a half other than on the tarmac in the rain. We could have stored our luggage for 5 euros per bag in order to take the shuttle to the end of the pier but didn't want to shop. A waiting area with seats should have been organised. Celebrity staff were on hand but no-one had a clue what to do with us or where we had to go to catch the coach. Eventually someone did direct us to the correct place but there were far more people waiting for the transfer than the coach had room for. Fortunately our names were on the list so we did get on. Others probably had another coach, I have no idea.
Cruising isn't particularly our thing but it's such a convenient way for us to see lots of places with only having to pack and unpack once. Seasoned cruisers we will never be.
Basic cabin, small, bedbugs, reasonably well insulated against noise, sofa, table, chair, hairdryer, safe, wardrobe with plenty of hangers, TV.