Etihad flights booked with Celebrity were a bit hit & miss - not guaranteed to sit with your partner/family because of block booking.
The early-arrival check-in at a hotel (with breakfast) was a nice idea, but only half a dozen staff were sent by Celebrity to check-in 200+ tired guests after their overnight flights. Embarkation otherwise fine - Abu Dhabi terminal pleasant and modern.
First impressions of Constellation: tatty carpets, and threadbare deck towels which had presumably once been 'Celebrity blue' but had faded to 'grey with bits hanging off'. Would it really cost that much to renew these every year or so?
We were on board early (11:30am) so didn't expect to be able to unpack until later, but on all our previous (non-Celebrity) cruises, we've been allowed to dump our hand luggage in the room. This time, though, the fire doors to the stateroom corridors were closed to prevent access, so we had to wait on deck. Best to check your hand luggage in if you want to head straight out (we were staying in Abu Dhabi overnight).
(In Abu Dhabi, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a must see. Free to enter but a good taxi-ride away.)
The general layout of the Constellation is OK, but the staircase in the 'Grand' Foyer is a big mistake and a white elephant. It fills the bottom floor of what could be a nice (if small) atrium and is little used. It prevents that space being used for activities/dancing etc., and robs the ship of any kind of social focal point.
The San Marco dining room at the back of the ship was quite nice, with fixed dining upstairs and 'select' (anytime) dining downstairs. The service was great and food always prompt and hot. Menus seemed good the first week, then a bit variable the second. Anyone hoping for a traditional (British) Christmas dinner would be disappointed. Christmas decoration on board was pretty pathetic, with most public areas just having a small tree stuffed in a corner.
The Rendez-vous bar next to the dining room is the standard sort you find on every cruise ship, nothing to see here, move along. The small Martini bar looks like a recent addition to the Constellation and is very popular/busy/loud/crowded if you like that sort of thing. The Fortunes Casino is good, especially as no smoking was allowed.
The Emporium shops were varied and interesting, although I didn't buy anything (never do!) except a $17 bottle of cough mixture.
Standard photo gallery leads to a moderately sized 'Celebrity Theatre'. We're not show-goers, so won't comment on the quality of those.
On deck 5 the Al Bacio coffee bar was probably the best part of the ship for us. Nice relaxing place to be with good views and good speciality coffees (and cakes/cookies) with nice furnishings.
The pool deck is fairly standard and is more spacious than photos on Google or videos on Youtube suggest - never had a problem finding a lounger. HOWEVER, allowing people to smoke down one side of the pool area basically makes that side unusable to anyone who doesn't want to smell smoke all day. The pool is heated and salty.
The upper deck around the pool has no glass panels in the railings, so can be very windy when at sea, making lounging up there either 'pleasantly breezy' or 'uncomfortably chilly', depending on the temperature of your blood. For those that want peace and quiet, there are calm, quiet, sunny and sheltered spots at the front and rear, where you can't quite hear the (LOUD) music around the pool, but are not too far from the bar.
(Talking of bars, the drinks package was very welcome. The choice of beers was limited to the standard American fizzy rubbish - although I settled on Corona - and a couple of European Weisbeers. The wines-by-the-glass however, were very decent, and the speciality coffees and cocktails a real bonus)
Also on the top deck was the Reflections bar, where the action happens after 11pm. Thing is, it's too big, and nothing much happens until gone midnight when the second show has kicked out. There was rarely enough people in there to make it work, even when the dancefloor was full. Maybe different lighting would help.
The Oceanview Cafe buffet restaurant (or Smash 'n Grab as we call them) was a mixed bag. There are varied selections of food at different stations, but not all are always open, so it's hard to predict. The most reliable was the pizza station. Hot breakfast selection wasn't great, very little fruit to put on your muesli. Omlettes were good but long queues. Napkins only had knife & fork rolled up in them - spoons were separate, but not where you could find them (like near the muesli). No plates anywhere near the pastry stations, so presumably you're only supposed to want one with something else.
One of the drink stations was split across an aisle and had mugs one side, teabags on the other, hot water back on the first side, and milk on the other. Oh, and the bin for the used teabags in the middle of the aisle.
The best food station was right at the back, serving grilled chicken, steak and fish.
Half a dozen bands and singers rotated around the bars and lounges for entertainment every day, but other than that there was nothing to do. We tried a couple of dance classes held around the foot of the white elephant staircase on deck three, while ignorant elderly idiots walked right through the group as we're trying to learn to foxtrot (seriously, why do you do that?). There was an interesting series of lectures by an ex-NASA director, but after the start time was moved to 9.30am we skipped the third and fourth. Sorry Jim. There really was nothing else to do on the ship on a sea day besides the standard every day facilities. Even the cookery demonstrations had an extra charge (why?).
We knew before we booked that the ship had no big screen on the pool deck, so were pleasantly surprised on day three when a small-ish temporary screen was put up, with free popcorn, and cordless heaphones handed out, for us to watch The Secret Life of Pets - great. But that was it. Once. On a fourteen day cruise. Why would they show us they could do that and then never do it again? And no films were shown indoors in the theatre, despite it sitting empty half the day. We got the impression that they didn't do these things so that we would be forced into the casino, shops, spas and bars to spend money.
Muscat: Nice, safe place to get off and walk along the front for an hour or two, with some shops, cafes and a souk to mooch around.
Kochin: Did a part boat, part coach, part walking tour. A little chaotic and litter-clogged, but some nice shopping streets and friendly people.
New Mangalore: Didn't get off the ship.
Goa (Mormugao): Not representative of Goa really, being too far from its famous beaches, but if you want an authentic look around an industrial Indian town with one of the locals, it's fine. We hired a taxi for an hour or two and saw a marked, a park/garden and a beach/viewpoint, as well as learning about the driver's life and family, and the local industry.
Mumbai: Biggest surprise. Not as chaotic as expected. Nice colonial buildings, beautiful seafront. Did a reasonably priced tour around the city on a coach, with a trip on a train (with no doors) and stops at the outdoor laundry and Ghandi's house.
Dubai: Its reputation precedes it. Take taxis instead of the tour bus, but don't get a taxi from the port if you don't want to be ripped off - get a shuttle bus somewhere (anywhere) else first, and then get a taxi. Dubai Mall is HUGE, Mercato Mall on Jumeirah small but pleasant, Wafi Mall pointless and soulless. The aquarium at the Atlantis The Palm hotel is much, much smaller than you might expect. Very good, but you'll be in and out in 20 minutes (for £30 each).
I seem to have complained about things, but we did have a good cruise. It's just that it could have easily been so much better. I don't want to come across as a whingeing Brit - god knows there were so many of those on this trip that I thought I'd boarded a P&O instead. Seriously, people, stop it. You have a reputation, and not a good one.
OK, one final moan (!) - the dress code. Evening Chic nights ran the gamut from black tie to t-shirt and shorts with backwards baseball caps. For that reason if no other, we would not choose a Celebrity cruise again, but I'm sure many people liked it that way.
In a good position not far from the lifts, but near the end of a corridor (so not many people going past), until 10am ish when the crew doors start slamming (fair enough I suppose).
Bed wasn't great. Very firm (normally OK with that) and very obvious join between the pushed-together singles (no topper covering it). Pillows were pretty rubbish.
Space in the wardrobes was stingy, although plenty of drawers and a small dresser and mirror.
Small sofa(bed) was just used as extra storage. Window was good and bright, but we missed the fresh air of a balcony this time.
Bathroom was small but actually had a decent sized shower. The best feature though was the night-light, which was just bright enough to read your Kindle by if you couldn't get back to sleep in the middle of the night!
TV was in a good position, but just had the usual selection of news and sport/info channels, plus a couple of scheduled movie channels. On-demand movies were $14.95 a time. More nickel-and-diming.
Turning up the aircon (cooler) sounded like a bus was idling in the bathroom.
Cabin steward was nice, friendly and efficient.