I am a history fan; I have long wanted to see Greece. This cruise was a great way to scratch the surface. Departing from Venice was an amazing bonus. Cruising down the canal past the city of Venice was incredible and really a great selling point for this specific cruise.
Celebrity sold us on their service last January while on board Silhouette. Don't misunderstand Celebrity Constellation is not Silhouette, but it is Celebrity. Celebrity service is far better than any of the other 4 cruise lines we have cruised on. Yes, Constellation is 17 years old, but once you get onboard I just did not see the age. She looked far better than many newer ships (except Silhouette) we've been on.
For us being able to get around ship quickly is important. I think the date of the selection was critical to our experience. As grandparents to 3 boys, we love children; however, we go on vacation to recharge and enjoy ourselves. With this cruise beginning on August 28th, there were few children onboard. We did not have to listen to children running up and down the passageways outside our cabin. Perfect for sleeping late.
Our cabin was amidships near the elevators. Perfect for getting to deck 10, quickly. We never had to wait more than 1-2 minutes for an elevator. We lived the fact that we could review our onboard account from our cabin television, daily.
We had pretty big plans while ashore, so we did not plan late nights aboard. This does not mean we did not go to the evening shows. I wish I had taken notes on the entertainers who came aboard, but... In any event, we really enjoyed Lorraine Brown and the fact that she performed an evening show and a matinee several days later was great. We did enjoy the onboard singers and dancers. The aerialists were especially good. I believe one show was too much, Elyria (not sure I've spelled it correctly); we found the subject matter offensive/borderline offensive.
Ports of Call
3 Sea Days - well needed days to rest
1. Katakolon - Ancient Olympia, shore excursion, interesting, but now I've done it; I won't do it again.
2. Santorini - Wow!!! You anchor in the caldera and the view is amazing. I've read other reviews of complaints about long lines for the cable cars. We never waited longer than one cycle of the cable cars. Walk or ride the donkeys if you want, imho, the smell of donkey urine and feces are a take away from a good cruise (although for some probably great for a good laugh, but not me). We visited Oia, got the Blue Dome shots, and walked as far as you could go. The road to Oia is interesting. Back to Thira (Fira) for quick tour and back to ship for a long, quiet nap.
3. Piraeus (Athens) - 2-days here. The port is 20-30 minutes from downtown Athens. Day 1 - Instead of touring our first day, we took a ferry to the island of Poros (where my brother-in-law grew up). If you get the opportunity, go to Poros. We only spent 4 hours there (ferry trip is about 2 hours round trip), but with the help of my sister's in-laws we had a great opportunity to see the island from a more personal perspective. This island is beautiful. I would come back to Greece just for this! After returning to the ship, we took the Metro to the Athens Plaka district and proceeded to get quite lost. No matter, we walked up to the Acropolis just as the sun was setting and then got lost in the Plaka district. IT was late when we returned to the ship. Day 2 - we had an Athens City Tour with add-on Acropolis tour with Shore Excursions Group. As enough people did not book the trip, four of us were given a virtual private tour of Athens - Perfect!
4. Mykonos - another beautiful location. We were off the ship early for our personal walking tour of Mykonos town. Love it, until later in the morning as the crowds began to build. The windmills and Little Venice are short walks from the tender dock Have lunch or coffee in little Venice, you might meet the local mascot, a pelican walked through the sidewalk cafe as we finished up.
5. Corfu - So many choices for tours, but did not want the long tours out into the island. There is so much history right in Corfu town. We took the shuttle to the terminal and walked out and caught the Hop on-Hop off bus. Corfu town is a small town with small streets and was quite crowded early making for a 20-30 minute ride to Kanoni. At Kanoni, get off and walk 300-400 feet to see and visit Mouse Island (beautiful view) Just across the channel, from Mouse Island, are views of what many believe looks like Capri. Here, you will also view aircraft landing at the island's only airport. BTW, the boat ride to Mouse Island cost 5 Euros round trip for 2; 5-10 minute ride. We left Kanoni and went to the Old Fortress, very impressive; especially when you consider when it was built. If you're up for it walk to the top - it is a long haul, sometimes made worse by people stopping to take photos on the narrow steps. Take your photos from the top, you won't miss anything.
Service and Crew
The ships crew are amazing. We were always warmly greeted by the crew everywhere we went onboard. Our San Marco dining room servers: Waiter - Widastra, Asst Waiter - Ram, & Sommelier - Susana were wonderfully friendly and warm. In 15 cruises, we have to say they were the best we've ever had. Thank you so much for that. We ate in the Tuscan Grille & can only say, "what's not to enjoy here?" The Tuscan staff were amazing hovering just out of view, but always available in an instant when something was needed. Great!
In all of our previous cruises, we probably never had more than a shallow hello from the ships officers. Constellation was vastly different. We were always greeted by ship's officers, including the captain, saying hello, asking how our day was, how we were enjoying the cruise, and if we needed anything to let them know. We experienced this everyday. This is our first experience where our cruise director had anything to say other than a nod or simple hello. On Constellation, the Cruise Director Rich (sorry I did not make note of your last name, but won't ever forget your first name), was amazing. He was everywhere talking with guests. He greeted us as we boarded and he was there to wish us well when we departed at 0745. Thanks, Rich.
This type of service is indicative of great management and leadership at the top. From my perspective, that is the Captain. I've been on several other cruises and never had this personal service. Thank you, sir!
This is only my second Celebrity experience but embarking and disembarking have never been better on any other cruise line I've been on. Because this cruise was sold out, embarking was expected to be timely. We received a text and email indicating what time we would arrive for embarking. We paid no attention to this and boarded, as we were ready. Within a few minutes, we had our photos taken and were onboard. Disembarking went just as well. Unbelievably, we packed only carry-on luggage (took advantage of ships laundry) for 2-weeks in Italy and Greece. When it was time to leave, we left our cabin, early (we had an early train to Rome to catch) waited no more than 10-15 minutes and we were off and on our journey to Rome.
I read reviews from previous cruisers complaint that cabin six was too small, dust in the cabin, and general minor complaints. This was not our experience.
As cruisers, we prefer inside cabins for the darkness once the lights are out. We booked this cruise 6-7 months prior and decided we would try an Ocean view cabin. We were quite surprised how much larger this cabin was to other cruise experiences that included balcony suites. We were quite happy with cabin size.
As we reached to unlock our cabin door at embarkation, we were met by the individual who made our cruise memorable, Alvin. After greeting us, he asked that we let him know anything we might need to make our stay better. My wife immediately told him the one thing that was most important to her. He said he would take care of it. He met this requirement everyday. One evening we returned to our cabin after dinner, Alvin met us as we approached the door to let us know he had not yet met her requirement, but that by the time we returned from the show he would have the extra towels she always requests. Apparently, the holdout cruise, put a strain on the laundry this one day. When we returned from the show, the towels were there.
Alvin never failed to greet us and speak with us in the morning, afternoon, or evening. He went out of his way to personally greet us every time he saw us. One day, he was making up the cabin across the hall, and we moved on to the elevator. Apparently, Alvin saw us, followed us to the elevator to apologize for not greeting us when we left our cabin. One other evening, we were heading back to our cabin for the night. Alvin was assisting another guest in his cabin, we continued on and entered our cabin. Within a minute, he was knocking on our door to say hello and ask if there was anything we needed and to say good night.
I have to add that upon first greeting us, Alvin told us if we needed anything to press his call button on the phone to reach him directly and he would get it done immediately. I heard this but did not understand the direct connect of reaching him. After getting settled aboard, we wanted to lock things in our safe. Unfortunately, the safe would not lock. In error, I called Guest Services. Fifteen minutes later, we were antsy to leave the cabin. I remember that Alvin said I could reach him directly from the ship's phone. I picked up the receiver and phone him. To my surprise, he did answer. He told me he would get that taken care of immediately and not to leave the cabin as someone would be coming to correct the problem. Within a few moments, ship security showed up and quickly fixed the issue.
Our cabin was immaculate throughout the cruise. We were never disappointed by his service. He always greeted by name coming and going. This is service.