Imagine staff unhelpful in relation to us e-mailing customer service about advice on which type of Indian visa was required. We received an answer stating “we are not legally qualified to give this information speak to the Indian High Commission or VFS. When we contacted the Indian High Commission they gave us the incorrect advice. Eventually, we got a detailed and clear answer to our question from Celebrity who stated that we must have a tourist visa for multi entry. Two weeks before Christmas Celebrity wrote to all guests about the correct visa and Imagine copied this communication and sent it to us a week before Christmas when it would have been impossible to arrange the tourist visa at such short notice and over the holiday period. The staff generally at Imagine were variable. One was very patronising, one did not return our calls but Scott was good.
The flight from Heathrow to Dubai was an overnight flight. We would not do this again as we did not get any sleep as the flight was noisy. (we had upgraded to premium economy hoping we might be more comfortable for the overnight flight). We did have more leg room and the Virgin staff were very good but we did not sleep.
When we arrived at Dubai airport there was no-one from Imagine to meet us. There were several reps from Celebrity, Virgin and other holiday companies but not Imagine. We were told by the Virgin rep that our rep was at the other terminal. Eventually after 30 mins he turned up. He did not have anything to show he was from Imagine just a sheet of paper stating 'data travel'. He spent ages on his mobile phone then approx. an hour later we were taken to a coach for the 2hr journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to board the Constellation. This 2 hour journey was totally unnecessary it is possible to fly directly from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi International Airport. Having to endure an unnecessary 2 hour coach journey after a night without sleep was exhausting. With better organisation we could have flown from Heathrow the day before boarding and arrived in the afternoon to stay in a hotel overnight. Then we could have boarded the Constellation the next day.
In fact while we were booking-in to board the constellation several people in the queue said that they had done this cruise before and rather than do the overnight flight they had arranged to fly the day before the cruise and stay overnight at a hotel. We would rather have done this even though it would have probably cost a little more. At least you don't arrive tired.
We have cruised on the Constellation before on several occasions but not recently. It is in need of an urgent refurbishment. Our stateroom (concierge class) had a worn sofa with stains on it, window nets curtains which needed washing, the towels were very thin and worn and the sheets had holes in them.
The food has always been very good on Celebrity cruise ships but in the San Marco main restaurant the food was barely warm and one evening when we had a chicken breast it was tough too. We complained to our waiter who was very good and took the food back to the kitchen to be heated up. Unfortunately it came back no warmer. The next night the same thing happened again. He then told the maitre'd. We had 3 meals on consecutive evenings which were only warm or tough and then gave up and ate in the Ocean View Cafe. The staff were variable as far as customer service skills went.
We went on several excursions tours on the Constellation but were disappointed with most of them as they often included visiting additional places we were not interested in. We decided it would have been better if we had explored the places we visited ourselves as there were lots of options available at each port of call: for example, the hop on hop off buses and plenty of taxis. Some of the coaches used by Celebrity did not have seat belts. The excursion entitled “Mumbai Masala” was positively dangerous as part of the tour included walking along a busy main road without a footpath. The local drivers drove very fast and wove in and out between us all.
We enjoy playing table tennis, but to our surprise and disgust, the table tennis tables were in an enclosed area with 3 walls. The fourth wall being open to the smoking side of the pool area. We wanted to play table tennis to keep fit but because of the position of the tables the smoke was trapped in the area where the table tennis tables were positioned. We played for a short time but couldn't stand the smokey atmosphere so didn't play for the rest of the cruise. On the newer ships (eg the Eclipse) the table is positioned on deck 15 which is out of the way and pleasant to play on.
We had the classic drinks package on the cruise. Recently Celebrity has changed the drinks prices of some of the drinks so that drinks which were used to be included in the package are no longer included as part of the package and you now have to pay extra. This was good for some drinks e.g. we could get a Peartini by paying the extra $5 dollars whereas before you had to pay the full price. The small Appletini which was included in the package is no longer included and you have to pay extra. So it is swings and roundabouts depending on your tipple.
Most of the shows were good. Anthony Scott the comedian was excellent. The guitarist in the bar by the ocean view cafe was good but the music was too loud to sit and listen to while enjoying a drink before dinner. The Celebrity band in the Theatre was good but the drummer's microphone seemed to be too loud in comparison to the rest of the band's instruments. The Phil Collins tribute act was good but also far too loud. The show Celebrate the World was just ok.
We went to the Tuscan Grill for breakfast one morning as were are elite plus members and this is a benefit available. They have a very limited continental breakfast on offer so we didn't go again. The ocean view cafe has a great selection but it is so busy in the morning and at lunchtime that it was sometimes difficult to find a seat. The only way to ensure you get a table was to have breakfast early 7.30ish – 8.00 a.m. and have lunch late after 2.00 p.m.
We went to Qzine to wait to disembark. There was tea and coffee but you had to use paper cups. There was very little else and this was supposed to be a benefit for elite plus members. It was not worth going to.
7 day golden triangle tour
The 7 days began with a journey by coach from Abu Dhabi to Dubai airport where we caught a flight to Delhi and then were taken by coach onto the (Radisson Blu) our hotel. The total journey time was13 hours. Most of us were exhausted when we arrived. Some people on our trip had arranged flights from Abu Dhabi to Delhi and arrived much earlier and fresher at the hotel than we did.
The first hotel we stayed at was the Radisson Blu. This hotel is noisy with poor insulation. The staff are very friendly and the food good but we did not get any sleep here particularly when we returned to the hotel for 2 nights towards the end of the 7 day trip. There was an Indian wedding and it started at 8.00pm and went on all night. It was so noisy that no-one on our tour that we spoke to, slept that night. This was because the music was too loud and booming through the hotel (which is circular and the music went up through the middle to all rooms). Also there were wedding guests going back and forth all night along the corridors, banging doors and talking loudly. The first morning we were there we had to book an early call at 6.30 a.m. for our excursion out of Delhi. This is because the heavy traffic in Delhi required us to get out of the city before the rush hour. We visited a carpet factory and a furniture manufacturer which were both sales pitches and not of interest to us.
The excursion to Agra where we visited the the Taj Mahal was magnificent but the coach journey from Delhi to Agra took a tiring 5 hours. We didn't realise how much time would be spent travelling on coaches during the 7 days. Agra to Jaipur took 7 hrs and Jaipur to Delhi 6hrs. It is a gruelling schedule, especially if you have early starts following no sleep.
Our stateroom had a worn sofa with stains on it, window nets curtains which needed washing, the towels were very thin and worn and the sheets had holes in them.
Mosque was very interesting
Easy to do this tour independently
Spent a fair amount of time on this tour walking along dangerous, polluted main roads