We chose to cruise with Celebrity for our Greek Island trip. We have been cruising for 15 years and have sailed with several other companies. Unfortunately, after flying to Venice, staying in Venice, cruising for a week, and spending a couple days in Rome after the cruise, the highlight of the trip was the disaster that happened on the island of Santorini. We arrived excited to take the excursion that we booked via Celebrity. After leaving the ship, we found ourselves in a half hour traffic jam. Evidently, there were three cruise ships that arrived as well as a cargo ship that was being unloaded. It took so long to get up the mountain on the bus that we only had 30 minutes when we arrived at the first stop which was the winery. We arrived at the winery and the chaos started. We were to sample three different wines and enjoy the view, and then if we wanted to go through the gift shop, we could purchase our favorite wine. Unfortunately, as soon as the Winery specialist began to talk about the wine, several other tours groups swarmed the place and we were not able to hear the complete introduction. Next, the lines were so long, we were not able to sample each of the three wines. Our excursion leader then began calling for everyone to get on the bus for the next part of the tour. A very frustrating beginning to what would be a disastrous day. The next stop was Oia, which is a neat cliff hanger type of village, however it is basically all shopping and eating establishments. I like to experience the culture and meet the local residents. I did meet many shop owners and only a few of them were actually from Greece. Other than the view there isn’t much to see or do. Of course, getting back to the bus was quite a hike and the traffic jams continued. We finally arrived at our last stop and our guide parked the bus quite a way from the main town of Fira. We had several older folks in our tour so we helped them walk up the steep incline to get to the town. We could have parked closer, but there were so many busses jamming the small city we ended up in the first available spot. Our guide showed us to the line to ride the cable car back down to the port area. She stated we could spend some time in the town then go to the port. We looked at the line and decided it was so long that maybe we should get in line so we weren’t late for our dinner reservation. After 2 hours in line we finally made it to where we go see the cable car entrance. About this time, other tour guides brought there tours and marched them to the front of the line. Now we had been in line for about 2 hours with the sun beating down on us, we were thirsty and also needed to use the restroom which was nowhere in sight. A tour guide operator started to push to the front of the line with her group and those of us in line moved in front of the group to block them from cutting in front of us. People were booing and shouting. The tour group that was cutting in front of us, starting pushing and pulling to get to the front of the line. A riot was about to break out. Two men started pushing and pulling me, then I intervened, my children and wife started worrying that I was about to get into a fight with these people. It was really an ugly scene. When asked why the tour operator did not go to the end of the line, she stated she would go anywhere she wanted. My family ended up separated from me during this time as the tour group merged into the people that had been waiting peacefully. During this time, I saw team members from Royal Caribbean and Costa. They were walking up and down the line checking on their guests and telling them not to worry about the ship leaving as it was approaching their departure time. We did not see anyone from Celebrity until we were at the entrance to the cable car building. I did let her know that this situation was nearing a riot and they needed to help diffuse the situation and also people needed water, restrooms etc. After finally getting on the cable car and walking toward the boarding point to get back on the ship, I mentioned to the attendant the trouble that we had and what was happening. He took our room number and said they would follow up with us. Back on board the ship, we had to quickly change and run to the dining room. We were still sweaty and not really ready for a nice dining experience. We had to rush through dinner so we could watch the show. Our day that we had looked forward to, had become a day we did not want to remember at all. I may not be painting this picture properly, but the next day at breakfast my family did not want to leave the ship. They were nervous that since the same ships were going to Mykonos as well, that the same situation would occur and they were not happy with the Greek islands at all. Luckily, Mykonos was much better.
I want to describe how Celebrity handled the Santorini disaster. After notifying the attendant at the port entrance, I went to the guest relations desk to ask for a refund for the terrible shore excursion and to share my experience. The guest service attendant told me that the shore excursion desk would follow up with me. I had a message on my room phone after getting back from Mykonos to come to the shore excursion desk. My wife and I proceeded to the shore excursion desk and they asked us to describe the situation and told us that there manager would review the situation and get back to us. The next day was a day at sea and we received another message to come to the excursion desk. We went to the desk and they said that they would offer a 30 percent refund of our excursion cost. At this point, I asked to speak with the manager. I informed the manager that I flew from the USA to Venice for this cruise, spent a couple days in Venice to get used to the time change and also show my children around Venice. (I am very familiar with Venice) I also paid for 3 staterooms, excursions, meals, gifts, etc. on this trip and planned a couple days in Rome after the cruise and then fly home. I told him that I had an extremely high investment in this trip and for one of the days to be ruined by a terrible excursion that I booked via Celebrity, that I should receive at a minimum a 100 percent refund. He finally relented and gave the refund.
I want to point out that in each of these encounters with Celebrity on this event, they never took ownership of the situation and only blamed the tour operator. I believe that a sign of a quality company is what they do when things go wrong. I wished they said “Sorry and we will take care of you” and make a bad situation, better. I wanted them to take ownership the first time that I engaged the guest relations desk and not have to deal with them three separate times. I should not have had to ask for a full refund, it should have been a given. The solution should not have taken three days to resolve, but should have been immediate. The take away I have from Celebrity is that customer satisfaction is only something that you get if complain multiple times. By the way they eventually offered 50 dollars off of my next cruise. Really? I spent so much money on this trip, 50 dollars would not pay for a taxi ride. Many of my fellow cruisers were really upset and Celebrity said they were overwhelmed by the number of complaints and that is why it took so long to respond. I think that they were attempting to minimize their financial impact instead of making a ship wide announcement talking about the issue. Celebrity should have described what they were going to do in the future to prevent this from happening again and taken ownership of the problem. A refund and some empathy would have gone a long way. As a matter of statistics, only 10 percent of the people actually ever complain, most just never come back as customers. I heard a lot of complaints on the ship for the rest of the cruise. FYI, Celebrity knows that this situation will happen time and time again based upon their cruise schedule. I wonder how many people they have notified that they will have a bad experience in Santorini.
Now to talk about the cruise in general: We booked three staterooms for my family of six, however I will reflect on my stateroom and experience. One of the things that made this cruise on the Constellation nice, were the fellow cruisers. What a nice courteous group of people. I have sailed on other ships with other companies and was very surprised at some of the things that I saw and heard. I will say no more. The Constellation is older and is showing some signs of age, but a nice ship overall. No bells and whistles like the newer ships, but decent. Our dining staff the first night was not very good, but the second and remaining nights they were top notch. Our two waiters Nevada and Frederick were awesome. I love sitting down at the table and the drinks that you want arrived without asking. Promptness and professionalism more than accurately describe these fantastic waiters. Our room attendant was great as well. He would open the door for us when we returned to the stateroom and was pleasant and seemed to love the job he was doing. Our stateroom was nice and well lit. The balcony was not huge but larger than the tiny balcony we had last year on NCL. The lounge chairs reclined which was very nice as well. I think the food quality and choices were nice. The coffee and tea seemed watery and not as good as I would have expected. The dessert choices were great and the Fathers Day cakes were a nice touch. I have been a cruiser for 15 years and fortunately I have not had any significant issues. I obviously like cruising. The Celebrity cruise was good, not great. Other than Corfu, I really didn’t find the Greek islands that intriguing. I would go back to Corfu and Capri, I also like Venice, Naples, and Rome. Overall, I am glad I went on the trip, I will never go back to Santorini. All I can do is share this with others and hope they have the info they need to make a good decision.
Nice light and airy room with a slightly larger balcony than we had on NCL last year. The balcony chairs reclined and it was nice to drink some wine on the balcony each evening and reflect on the days experience.
We have been to Venice before and spent a lot of time there. It was great to bring our children and give them a guided tour. we spent a couple days there before the cruise.
We love Croatia, the people are great, the scenery is nice, and the food/beer/wine are excellent. We have been before so we shared our time with the family and showed them around.
I loved Corfu. Since there were six of us, we rented a van and drove around the island. We initially went were the tour busses went, but is was so crowded we found a small private or semi private beach with chairs, umbrellas and a restaurant. We sat on the chairs which kept us off of the rocks. Very little sand on the islands in general, mostly rocky beaches. The water was clean and cool. We swam some and drank beer. afterward we changed out of our swimsuits and had lunch at the restaurant. The food was top notch and service was great. The only issue I had with Corfu was the trash along the roads. Mountains of trash and it smelled. I overheard someone say the trash men were on strike.
3 cruise ships and one cargo ship made for a choatic day. read the scene in my primary review. I definitely would not go back to Santorini and would recommend that people avoid this place altogether. Beggars all around, nothing spectacular to see or do. Nice water view and interesting cliff hanger village. look at pictures online and go somewhere else to spend your cruising time.View All 110 Oia Wine Tasting Reviews
Nice little seaside village. Mostly shopping and eating with some nice views. Good food and drinks. Specialty bakeries and restaurants made this a nice place to eat and experience variations on Greek food.
We took the ferry boat from Naples to Capri. We arrived and used the cable car to get to the top of the island. Great gardens, landscaping and scenery all around. What a treasure! Will definitely go back. People are nice. Food was great. All around great place to visit.View All 57 Capri Walking Tour Reviews
Rome is like most other major cities. Dirty in general, smokers and their mess everywhere. Total lack of courtesy with regard to smoking in line while non smokers are nearby. Graffitti everywhere. Cramped spaces. Poor roads. It is like New York city, I will go for a day or two, but I am always happy to get back home. We did have some good food, sightseeing, etc.