Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by Globetrotterskent
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Aqua Class Balcony
Sail away was a low key affair - scheduled for 8 pm. We watched from the pool deck before dinner but most people seemed to have chosen to eat instead and there was no real event happening, no live music etc.
The ship itself was clean and well maintained everywhere. Some public areas had noticeably been refurbished recently e.g. new carpets, seat coverings etc. We have sailed on all the other ships in this class so it felt very familiar to us.
Our Aqua class stateroom on deck 9 was as expected. The service from our steward was excellent - he attended to all our needs very well. We asked for an ice bucket which was provided and refilled daily.
The main reason we choose Aqua is to eat in the restaurant Blu. We absolutely love the experience there. Although it was perhaps apparent that staffing levels are slightly reduced, as the waiting staff seemed to be rushing around a lot, the service was still excellent, friendly and professional. We prefer to eat later around 8.45-9 pm, but it seems so did many others on this trip. On a few evenings we were given a buzzer to wait until a table was free, so we could sit in the bar until it buzzed, which was never more than 15 minutes. The food and wine was as good as ever. We enjoy Blu so much so decided there was no need to pay extra for the specialty restaurants as they weren't worth it for us. We have been to Qsine before so didn't feel compelled to go back. $45 a head is a lot extra especially if you are happy with the restaurant you are eating in.
The entertainment was very good - generally professional, classy and of a high standard. We enjoyed several of the guest acts, which seemed to be aimed at the mainly British audience, as several had been on UK talent shows etc. The ones we saw were all very good. The production shows were mainly great, there are some very talented singers and dancers. The one we disliked was the late night show Elyria - it was disjointed and odd, and was just an excuse for smutty jokes and an attempt at being risqué which fell flat. We are not prudes but we found it quite cringey and embarrassing in parts. It's a shame as there were some great aerial displays and song routines within it. The music around the ship was good with a talented house band Planet Boogie and other great musical acts who could all be found in various venues day and night.
As previously stated, we mainly chose the cruise for the itinerary. The first stop was Ko Samui, a tender port on a Thai island. It was quite a long tender trip around 25 minutes and a bit choppy. The port is small but pleasant to wander round, with a couple of streets of shops and eating places, and we took the recommendation of the ship's port information sheet to visit a great beach restaurant / bar.
The next port was Laem Chabang for Bangkok. We were there for 2 nights - this is something we like about Celebrity as it gives you more time to explore. We had done quite a bit of research and had opted to book a hotel independently but use the ship's transfer service via a Shore Excursion (Bangkok overnight on your own). There were 3 or 4 coaches full of people doing the same. This was MUCH better value than a ship's overnight excursion, and we much prefer the freedom. The journey from the port was around 2.5 hours each way so definitely not worth trying to do it in one day. We had investigated organising a private car to take us in and out but it was amazingly not cheaper than the ship's transport on this occasion. We had a great couple of days exploring the madness of Bangkok - there are some incredible sights, we loved the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha, and yes of course Patpong at night!! It was an education!
Unfortunately we missed the next port Nha Trang due to the high winds - it was unsafe to tender. This was a shame but can't be helped. The ship's staff did a great job at pulling together extra activities and shows which we enjoyed.
The next port was Danang where we opted to visit Hoi An which is around 1.5 hours drive away but through really interesting countryside and small towns. We had done our research again and saw that it is very hard to get taxis in this area and not from the cruise port itself so again we chose the ship's excursion, Hoi An on your own. Again this was the ideal combination of guaranteed safe transport but freedom to do our own thing. It's frustratingly expensive but as we found from talking to others, the taxis were very pricey and not completely reliable / available. We knew the ports were a long way from the sights, so this is the best way to see them really - it's not like Mediterranean ports but we knew that before we went. We loved Hoi An , it is a beautiful interesting little place, with a gorgeous riverside setting. We spent a lovely hour or so having lunch on a balcony overlooking the bustle and activity of the boats and traders on the river. There is a big market, a street of nice shops and several temples and museums too.
Our final port of call was Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as the locals still call it). The port was Phu My, again a good couple of hours away. It was surprising to hear people complaining about this - surely they had found this out when they booked?! Anyway we once again did the ship's on your own excursion. It later transpired this was the ONLY way to get out of the port (unless I guess you had pre booked private tours) as there were NO taxis going anywhere and some other passengers we spoke to later were disappointed that they were stuck in the port where there is nothing to see. It is frustrating that you are basically reliant on the ship's excursions but we had travelled a long way to get to Vietnam so this was the way to see these incredible cities. We enjoyed HCMC (Saigon) a great deal, it's well worth a visit.
So in summary all the ports are pretty much a distance away from the tourist sites. The ship is docked in container ports which are not exactly picturesque but are interesting in their own industrial way I suppose! We were fully aware of this so we were not surprised or disappointed, and really enjoyed the chance to visit Thailand and Vietnam so easily in a 12 night cruise.
The cruise we did was mainly British and European guests, and a few Australians. Surprisingly few Americans. The age range was quite wide, a younger crowd than other cruises, from 30s upwards, lots of middle aged people and active retired people. Formal nights are non existent, they have Elegant Chic instead and people did make an effort and dress up nicely. We saw 3 or 4 people in black tie at the most.
We did notice that there was noticeable crowding in some of the bars and lounges at peak times. We never managed to get into the Martini Bar no matter when we tried - it was always out favourite place on other ships. There is a lack of bar space - we sometimes had difficulty in the Rendezvous but did manage to get in there. Cellar Masters had some space but no atmosphere. The Reflections Lounge was underused in our opinion, on previous cruises there was something going on in this nightclub every night. Service in the bars was good but again there are fewer staff than before. We did use the buffet restaurant Oceanview a few times for lunch and breakfast, it was perfectly adequate. We do worry about the hygiene of some other guests - we heard there was a norovirus outbreak although we didn't meet anyone affected. We are always scrupulous with our own hand hygiene, unfortunately others are less careful. We had breakfast in Blu (when we got up early enough) which was always good.
There was plenty of deck space and seemed to be enough sun loungers. We always got our preferred spot on deck 11 above the pool when we went there around 10 am on sea days. There are lots of others areas where seats and loungers have been provided too.
Disembarkation went incredibly smoothly. We chose to take our own luggage off which we did at 7.30, we walked straight off the ship, through immigration and to the taxi queue. We were in the airport before 8 am!
As always Celebrity delivers elegant, high quality service. We were a bit worried the standards may have slipped since our last cruise with them 2 years ago but we didn't find that. We will definitely choose them again for the right itinerary and price.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
Bangkok On Your OwnWe used the ship's excursion for transport each way and stayed one night in a pre booked independently arranged hotel. This was a good choice. We did all the main sites. Traffic is an issue and it took us longer to get around in taxis than expected - we used the longtail boats on one occasion which were good fun and quick.View All 31 Bangkok On Your Own Reviews
Da Nang1.5 hour coach journey but then we were left to our own devices for approx. 3.5 hours in the beautiful town of Hoi An. It's easy to get around and really worth a visit.View All 12,794 Da Nang Cruise Port Reviews
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Koh SamuiNot that much to do but pleasant to wander around. We went to the Sunset Bar for a very nice lunch.View All 93 Koh Samui Cruise Port Reviews
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SingaporeLove Singapore! Beautiful, vibrant and so much to see. We went to Gardens by the Bay which we highly recommend especially the bar at the top of the Supertree. We also visited Fort Canning Park as it was near our hotel, it was really enjoyable to wander round.View All 569 Singapore Cruise Port Reviews
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