This was our very first ever cruise and overall, we really enjoyed it. My partner and I booked this cruise to celebrate my partner being promoted in his career after several years of being on a long and arduous training course. We had been recommended to do a Celebrity cruise a few years ago and my parents and sister recently went on a P&O cruise and were raving about how much they enjoyed it, plus, we couldn't decide on a holiday destination this year. Hence, why we decided that we should do a cruise holiday as we could visit many places, experience many different cultures whilst enjoying the excellent facilities that cruising has to offer.
As a younger gay couple in our late twenties, we were worried that being on a cruise would not be our thing as we had read many reviews on here about how the Celebrity Constellation was mainly full of older citizens and with activities more suited to those of that of an older age group. However, this couldn't be more far removed from the truth. We found many people from all different age ranges and we felt quite at ease with being on the ship. The original concern may be true if you go outside of the school holidays but we didn't find this with us going in August. At the same time, you don't need to worry about there being lots of children on-board with going in the middle of August. Part of the reason we booked the cruise with Celebrity was because we wanted to have a holiday with as few children around as possible. We thought many children/families that would do cruising, would go with Celebrity's sister company, Royal Caribbean. This was true. Don't get me wrong, there were families with small children on-board but most families had teenage children.
Additionally, the Celebrity Constellation is a gay friendly ship and there were several events that the ship arranged that the LGBT community could attend. Many of the guests too that were on-board the ship were well travelled and were fairly open minded and so being a gay couple did not phase them and we became good friends with several couples.
We set sail from Rome (Civitavecchia) which meant we had to fly out to Rome. Transfers and everything was already sorted out before and this was well organised and there was no fuss. At the airport, Celebrity representatives were there ready to assist to your need and were very friendly and supportive. If I was to be picky about anything, it would have been nice if Celebrity themselves collected the luggage for us at the airport and then delivered it straight to our rooms on-board the ship. There were several times where we had to collect/drop our bags, on/off the coach and deposit them before embarking the ship, which wasn’t a problem really. However, with this being Celebrity and them advertising that they want to make you feel like a celebrity, I thought that the company really missed a trick here. Furthermore, I was disappointed that they didn’t do this as I knew that when my parents and my sister and her husband went on their cruise with P&O, they dropped off their bags at check-in at the airport in England and the next time they were reunited with them was in their cabins. However, as I said, this is only a minor, picky point.
Otherwise, embarkation went smoothly and without a hitch. When we first arrived on the ship, we were quite pleased to see that it wasn’t as dilapidated as many reviewers had made it out to be. It was lovely and clean and everything had its place. Both my partner and I were quite a gasp at how wonderful and beautiful it was inside. We were very impressed. We were greeted with champagne and other refreshments and it all had a lovely atmosphere to it, one that still resonates with me today as it was so welcoming.
Due to our room being cleaned, we could not go into our cabin straightaway. Nevertheless, because we had travelled for about 12 hours and because it was nearing lunchtime, we decided to go and have something to eat at the buffet. Because we had heard about the fantastic pizza on-board, our instinct was to try that first. It wasn’t the greatest pizza I have had but it was by no means the worst. We were both expecting a lot worse in actual fact considering that it was a buffet. We then continued to see what other delights the buffet had to offer. We weren’t holding our breath but we were both pleasantly astounded by the variety of types of food that they offered and at how good it tasted. There was everything from fish to meats (cold and hot), cheeses, pasta, Chinese food, curry, sushi, just lots of food. It was a sight for the eyes! On most days, we enjoyed the food from the buffet and we tended to have our late lunches in there and most dishes were scrumptious. What was really good about it too was that each day, when we stopped at a different port of call, there would be a stand which served delicacies from that region/country and we both enjoyed this touch as the main dining room (San Marco) did not offer this opportunity.
After our lunch, we proceeded to our cabin. We opted for an Oceanview Stateroom and we weren’t disappointed as our cabin had a massive port-hole that was practically floor to ceiling in height. This was a lovely touch as I was expecting quite a small window. However, we were situated in one of the cabins towards to the aft of the ship that had been converted from social space in the last overhaul. I’m aware that not all Oceanview staterooms are like this and so some research is needed if you wish for a cabin with a similar window. The cabin itself was quite spacious and a lot bigger than we were expecting, with plenty of storage facilities. We were both quite impressed at how much storage Celebrity had managed to work in. There was even room for your traditional safe and mini-bar fridge with additional storage space above them!
The bathroom was small considering at how big the rest of the room was but even then, Celebrity managed to incorporate lots of storage solutions into the bathroom so it never felt tiny or ‘full of stuff’. Again, many people complained that the shower cubicle was too small but we didn’t find this. I am quite a big guy but I managed to fit in there perfectly with ample room to move about. I would say that it was roughly the same size as most UK showers. Shower pressure was good even when the ship was stationary but the water seemed a little ‘too’ treated and made my skin feel unnaturally smooth and shiny. Nevertheless, the best part of our cabin was the bed. Originally, I was concerned as we were told that the bed was a Queen’s size, which is just a bit larger than a single bed in Britain. However, I completely forgot, American ship, American sizes. Hence, the bed was much larger than I had anticipated and was in fact bigger than my King size bed at home. I had so much room in the bed that I couldn’t tap my partner on the shoulder goodnight, even with my arm stretched out. It was divine! What made it even better though was the fact that the bed was the most perfect bed we had both ever slept on. I cannot begin to describe how comfy the bed was. It was firm but squish-able, soft but supportive. It was just amazing! We liked the mattress so much that after the cruise we tried to buy one as we knew you could buy them but to no avail as they’re only available in America. To top it all off, we were greeted with an excellent turn-down service every night with chocolates on our pillows.
Dining on the ship was excellent! We never had a bad meal on the ship, whether that was in the main dining room, The Grill by the pool deck, the speciality restaurants or the buffets. All over exceeded our expectations. We ate in the main dinning room most evenings and I can only compare the food to meals served in gastro pubs back in Britain. Very tasty, great flavours, well prepared and fantastic presentation. Every evening the menu changed and there was always something that everyone could have, whether you were a vegetarian, a vegan or even someone who was gluten intolerant. However, there was a part of the menu which remained the same each day and had many classics on there like French Onion Soup, and Grilled New York Sirloin Steak. Hence, there were safe options if you didn’t particularly enjoy that evenings selection.
Portion sizes were a bit on the small side but this wasn’t a problem as we generally asked for more and over the course of the holiday, our waiter, Savio, would know exactly how much to bring out to us. Only negative about the main dining room was at breakfast time when a different waiter tried to sit us on a table for six even though we requested a table for two. He said that we could not make that request in the mornings as tables were reserved, which we knew was a lie as we had most of our breakfasts in the main dining room. We did say to the waiter about this and he said that was not true, to which we replied that we didn’t wish to eat there that morning, and we walked off. Luckily, Savio walked past us and questioned why we were going so quickly, when we explained the situation, Savio sorted out the problem for us and sat us on a table for two and couldn’t apologise enough for the rudeness of his colleague.
We did go and eat in Ocean Liners (a speciality restaurant) one evening and were very happy with the service and food. We both had the chateaubriand which was exquisitely cooked and so tender that it just melted away in your mouth. My partner and I both agreed that it was a fabulous experience and we’d do it again but at the same time, we didn’t feel that we were missing out on anything either as the food was just as good in the main dining room. The only difference really was that you can tell that Celebrity had thought about the more minor touches that can really bring out the difference, like the presentation of the butter in different shapes, how drinks were presented and how your food was served to you by the waiter.
Service on the ship was very good overall. The main dining room, buffet, house cleaning and bar staff were excellent and I could not fault them. They were always very happy to help, friendly and really took their time to get to know you, your tastes and just made you feel like a CELEBRITY! As I’ve said, our Head Waiter, Savio, was excellent and knew exactly what we liked (and how much of it). He really took care of us. Our drinks lady was fantastic at suggesting different cocktails that we would like to try and we built such a great rapport with her too. Our sommelier (Richard) too was very friendly and could pin-point exactly each night what I would like to drink and when. Our other waiter, Alex, was just as good and we really had a good laugh with them all. They are all a credit to the ship and the company and should be given extra special credit. They all went out of their way to keep us feeling like celebrities.
Our room/cleaning staff were just as exceptional. I’m a bit of clean freak and so I would check if under the beds had been cleaned and new linen placed on the bed for example. Everything was perfect! Not a dirty mark in sight! Point for improvement though, it would have been nice if the outside of the port-hole would have been cleaned at least once on our journey as after each voyage, there was a greater build-up of sea salt on the window, which was making it harder to see out of towards the end of our cruise. However, this is probably not a house keeping staff chore. Nevertheless, our room attendant Winston was also phenomenal at making us feel like a celebrity. He knew that I didn’t like dark chocolate and so he would go out of his way every day to make sure I had milk chocolate on my pillows instead. He was also very polite and would always greet us with a happy smiley face if we ever saw him on the corridors.
However, there were two negative points that we both felt quite disgruntled with in regards to the service. First being one of the photographers. On the more formal evening, we asked a photographer (can’t remember his name) if he could take our photo. In a rude manner, he turned around to us and said that he was closing at 10pm and so couldn’t do another shoot. My partner then replied back to him saying that it was only 9:30pm to which the photographer snapped, I’M CLOSED! This really spoilt our holiday and made us feel quite angry. On another occasion, we proceeded again to approach this fellow to ask to take our photo, thinking he was having a bad day, to which he completely blanked us. This made our blood boil and we made a formal complaint about him when the cruise survey came around.
The other negative was that I had planned to get engaged on-board the ship as we were sailing in to Venice. Several days before I made the proposal, I asked Guest Relations if they could do anything for me to make the moment memorable and special. I had asked if me and my partner could go on the helipad briefly so that I could do the engagement at the front of the ship. At the start of the cruise, I had seen some other guests on there, having a tour around, hence why I didn’t think it would be too much of a problem. The reply I got was not very helpful. I was told that due to health and safety, they couldn’t do this, even though I had told her about seeing others on the helipad previously. I then proceeded to ask her if it was possible to hire out a couple of the musicians to come and play out on the top deck towards the aft of the ship. I said that I was more than willing to pay for them. Again, her reply was that she couldn’t do this. Therefore, I replied to her, what could she/the company do to make this a memorable experience. Her reply was that I could go towards the back of the ship, on the top deck and do it there. Again, I repeated if there was anything else they could to add to that experience to which she replied, no. To say I wasn’t very impressed was an understatement and so if you’re thinking of doing something extra special for a loved one, or planning a special surprise, don’t do it with Celebrity as they didn’t make me or the occasion feel as special as it could be.
There was lots of entertainment and activities to do throughout the duration of the cruise and we didn’t get bored. You could get as involved or as little involved as you wanted and their very helpful Celebrity Daily magazine, let you keep up-to-date of the different activities that you could do during the following day. I think it would have been fantastic if the Constellation had a cinema on the ship like they do on P&O and Princess. Like this, I could have caught up on some good movies. They did hold open air cinema nights but one of them was cancelled due to poor weather and the other was of Jungle Book, which I wasn’t fussed about seeing. Shows that were put on by house staff were quite bizarre and were not up to the ‘Broadway standard’. Costumes, lighting, backdrops, acrobatic aerialists were all very good, but the singers were mediocre with only one fabulous female singer. Dancers were sometimes out of time and lacked sharpness and precision, which I thought was disappointing, considering Celebrity touted their shows as being of a ‘Broadway standard’. I was expecting dancers with the professionalism of Strictly Come Dancing but instead was given something very different. However, the shows were passable and were good at a basic level of entertainment value.
We didn’t do any shore excursions with them. We did have one booked with them before the cruise, which was to go up to Mount Etna and experience the craters but this was cancelled two months before the cruise with no reason given. We did try and book another one whilst on the cruise that appeared quite similar to the one we originally booked but we refused to pay the price of $370pp when originally, the itinerary we booked would have only cost us $150pp. Nevertheless, there were lots of lovely excursions that you could have booked whilst on the ship so long as you were willing to part with a hefty lump sum of money. My best advice on getting good value for money and going to see some fantastic places is doing some research before you leave on your ports of call so that you know what it is that you want to see and how you are going to get there. It does take a bit of time planning it beforehand but it makes such a difference when you’re actually on holiday as it makes it stress free and doesn’t waste any of your precious holiday time. Additionally, Celebrity were very good at providing shuttle coaches (at a small fee) if ports were quite a distance from the main city and I would recommend these and they are well organised with very little wait time.
In summary, overall a very good cruise with very good staff, a beautiful ship with luscious interiors, food and beverages, with some fantastic ports of call. Apart from those irritating moments which I mentioned previously, it was lovely relaxing holiday that we both thoroughly enjoyed and were quite upset when it all came to an end. I would definitely recommend Celebrity to anyone, even with those negatives as generally, the experience proved a relaxing and re-energising holiday where most of your needs are met and you are mostly made to feel like a celebrity.
We opted for an Oceanview Stateroom and we weren’t disappointed as our cabin had a massive port-hole that was practically floor to ceiling in height. This was a lovely touch as I was expecting quite a small window. However, we were situated in one of the cabins towards to the aft of the ship that had been converted from social space in the last overhaul. I’m aware that not all Oceanview staterooms are like this and so some research is needed if you wish for a cabin with a similar window. The cabin itself was quite spacious and a lot bigger than we were expecting, with plenty of storage facilities. We were both quite impressed at how much storage Celebrity had managed to work in. There was even room for your traditional safe and mini-bar fridge with additional storage space above them!
The bathroom was small considering at how big the rest of the room was but even then, Celebrity managed to incorporate lots of storage solutions into the bathroom so it never felt tiny or ‘full of stuff’. Again, many people complained that the shower cubicle was too small but we didn’t find this. I am quite a big guy but I managed to fit in there perfectly with ample room to move about. I would say that it was roughly the same size as most UK showers. Shower pressure was good even when the ship was stationary but the water seemed a little ‘too’ treated and made my skin feel unnaturally smooth and shiny.
Nevertheless, the best part of our cabin was the bed. Originally, I was concerned as we were told that the bed was a Queen’s size, which is just a bit larger than a single bed in Britain. However, I completely forgot, American ship, American sizes. Hence, the bed was much larger than I had anticipated and was in fact bigger than my King size bed at home. I had so much room in the bed that I couldn’t tap my partner on the shoulder goodnight, even with my arm stretched out. It was divine! What made it even better though was the fact that the bed was the most perfect bed we had both ever slept on. I cannot begin to describe how comfy the bed was. It was firm but squish-able, soft but supportive. It was just amazing! We liked the mattress so much that after the cruise we tried to buy one as we knew you could buy them but to no avail as they’re only available in America. To top it all off, we were greeted with an excellent turn-down service every night with chocolates on our pillows.