My DW and I are Diamond RCCL cruisers, we decided to give Celebrity a try to open up more itinerary choices. The fact that Celebrity gives us Elite status was another deciding factor. We have sailed smaller ships and mega ships before and are ok with either, understanding that we usually have to give up size for a more unique itinerary. We chose this Constellation 9 night cruise based on the Barcelona to Venice Mediterranean sailing that included Croatia and Montenegro.
Had no problems with the Celebrity website, the booking process, selection of meal times, tours, etc. I was able to set up my schedule exactly the way I wanted. Bought a couple of excursions. So far so good…
I have to say that I was a bit dismayed with some of the recent Constellation reviews on Cruise Critic. A few of them described the ship as being “in major disrepair” and as being filthy. There were also reviews that complained about terrible service and rude staff members. As an experienced reader of reviews, I understand that opinions can vary widely. I also understood this ship wasn’t built yesterday.
Was a breeze. This time we opted for a later pier arrival (so that we could enjoy a few last hours of Barcelona) of around 2:30ish and we basically were able to walk on, go directly to our room, etc. We had priority boarding but really didn’t need it. We were able to buy some wine in the port store and carry it on with no issues.
Obviously not a new ship, the Constellation does show some wear and tear. To describe it as being in “major disrepair” or “filthy” is simply ridiculous. Ship was certainly clean and we observed adequate ongoing cleaning activities. We spent most of our deck time in the solarium and there was always an attendant there cleaning and drying the floors from pool and spa splashes. Most of the deck chairs looked brand new. The carpeting didn’t even appear that worn to me. After reading those scathing reviews read pre-cruise, I was very pleased with the ship’s condition. Layout was also easy to learn.
THE CABIN – 8002
We usually opt for a balcony but settled for an Oceanview (booked a Guarantee) in order to spend more on sightseeing, etc. We were assigned cabin 8002 which turned out to be a really oversized oceanview (due to the shape of the outside of the ship and the hallway, this cabin is like 30-40% longer than the standard oceanview. We really enjoyed the space!! The location of the cabin (extreme FWD) was not of any consequence regarding noise or movement on this sailing. Regarding condition/cleanliness – perhaps a little (and I mean a little) wear and tear, but very clean. We had no complaints about the cabin. Our Cabin Steward, Neil from India, was fantastic (best we’ve ever had on any cruise). Always a big plus when the Steward seeks you out on day one to both greet you and to find out if you have any questions/requests.
Always subjective, but here goes. We had Select Dining and I made reservations for dinners pre-cruise. We only really had an issue on night one when we waited in the reservation line for 30 minutes (behind a large group of suite guests with NO reservation that were trying to get multiple tables together, by the windows, etc, etc). IMO, the hostess really should have pulled this group aside to seat those in line WITH reservations. When we finally got to the hostess, she declared “you’re late for your reservation”, to which I replied “think it’s the other way around because we were here on time”. We were automatically seated at tables for two, which by the way, are like 6 inches from other tables for two. Really more like a table for four. We didn’t mind the closeness (we met some really great couples) but there is a bit of awkwardness because the food is coming at different times at each table of two - since the couples are seated at different times. On to the dining room food quality: overall, a bit better than RCCL. The prime rib was really good, as were the fish dishes. Loved having some new choices. Service in the dining room was very good overall, think we had one waiter on one night that was just average. No issues at all with wine and drink service either. We have had issues in the past on RCCL (getting timely drinks in the dining room), no issues on the Constellation.
The Oceanview Café was also a positive experience for us. A big plus was that there were always open seats (which is not the case on the larger RCCL ships). I give the food quality and selection a slight edge over RCCL.
We did not eat in any specialty restaurants.
Our overall experience with Constellation staff members was excellent. I already mentioned our exemplary Cabin Steward. Many, many staff members called us by name (more so than any previous cruise). Of the several dining room teams that served us dinner, we only had one waiter that was “so-so”. The Captain’s Club Ambassador was very attentive during the evening happy hour. Our one interface with Guest Services (complaints about the really crappy internet) was handled to our satisfaction. The staff members in the Oceanview Café were very efficient, dirty plates were always quickly removed- pleasantly. I was also impressed with how organized the queues for excursions were handled by those staff members. I mentioned the slightly snooty Select Dining hostess -after the first night our interactions with her were fine. So, call me completely puzzled by those negative staff reviews I’d read pre-cruise…..
Certainly enjoyed the nightly cocktail hour(s). No drink coupons loaded on the card for this cruise, the cocktail crowd was always pretty small. Appetizers at the Elite happy hour were pretty weak, IMO the RCCL Diamond Lounge had better offerings. The free bags of laundry were fantastic. Also enjoyed the Elite breakfast.
BEDDING- we slept fine but the mattresses could definitely use an upgrade. Also, it appears Celebrity does not use that foam “crack filler” when beds are pushed together?
INTERNET- Absolutely horrible on this cruise. We could hardly get into our email, forget about uploading more than one picture at a time. After complaining at Guest Services, we were sent to talk to the “specialist” in the IT Lounge. He admitted that on that cruise the bandwith was “not what they had hoped for”. We ended up getting a 50% refund which I thought was fair.
INTERACTIVE TV- How about posting the dining room menus here? Also was able to view my daily schedule on the newer RCCL ships, missed that here….
FELLOW PASSENGERS- Maybe it was the itinerary, maybe it was Celebrity – not sure which, but as a whole, we experienced a great group of savvy travelers (with the exception of the guy grabbing the buffet food with his hands – there has to be one on every cruise). Average age was also younger than we expected.
We enjoyed our first Celebrity cruise and would not hesitate to consider this line in the future. We look at Celebrity as an extension of RCCL, the slightly better food and service being an extra perk. Really wish we still earned RCCL points for Celebrity sailings though!!
Worth it to see David alone!!