We are a family of 5 with 3 daughters, 19,17,and 4. We wanted to travel to Europe but figured it was a better value and easier route to go on a cruise since we have a 4 year old. That way we could unpack and set up a routine, including valuable pool time and a familiar bed for this 9 port cruise.
My husband and I had sailed in the Caribbean with Constellation previously and even though it is an older ship we enjoyed our past cruise and have nothing to complain about concerning the ship - though somewhat dated, it is kept clean and maintained adequately.
Our whole family just loved this cruise! Being able to get to all those ports in Europe was just an incredible experience and we loved this itinerary since we got to see so much of the Meditteranean and a taste of the Adriatic. Our servers, room steward and staff around the ship was friendly and helpful. The cruise director, Alexandro, was hilarious, the singers around the ship were great, the guest performers, Vox Fortura, were excellent, and the ship singers and dancers on the main stage were great as well. They even did a matinee show during the day at sea which was well done - slightly strange storylline our 4 year old couldn't follow, but she liked the stage performance.
We had a veranda room in the back which was awesome! Heard some chairs scraping on the Oceanview early in the morning but didn't matter too much because we were up early to venture out every day. The sleeping quarters worked out fine for our family, but if our older girls were larger or boys of that age it would have been too tight. Plenty of storage and closet space, and a huge mirror to get ready, just annoying there was only one outlet by the mirror which my daughters and I fought for.
The only complaint I would have is that we ordered room service for breakfast a couple times when we had an early excursion and never got what we ordered - also got juice and coffee everyday ordered to come between 7-730 and it always came 6:45 or slightly earlier.
Our young daughter loved the smaller pool and it is nice they provide life jackets for them if needed.
We used the Oceanview cafe for breakfast only, lunch as well on the sea day. There's plenty to choose from, quality varies there but the food in the main dining room always had something for everyone. We had no trouble just going down and getting seated with our same waiter whenever we showed up, which was always between 5:45 - 7 PM.
Easy embarkation and debarkation.
We always did the ports on our own or hired private drivers. We think the ship excursions are way overpriced.
We are not big drinkers so just had the 3 bottle wine special which was I think 120. Since we ate lunch in port we would sometimes get wine or beer then.
Our children did not do the kids clubs - we were having too much fun just being a family together!
Barcelona- Had a couple days here before we set sail. Awesome city with beautiful Gaudi architecture, history, people watching, walking!
Toulon - (La Seyne Sur Mer) I read about this port beforehand and knew we didn't want to stay here. Took a cab to the train station (Six Fours) and got a train to CAssis. Awesome city - super picturesque, took the 45 Min Calanques Ferry (pretty but we've seen similar in the US) and walked around town. The big issue was we couldn't find a cab or bus to take us to and from the town to the train station so be prepared for a steep walk on the way back if you go.
Villefranche - toured the lovely city, then took the train to Nice and walked around.
La Spezia - took the ferry to Portovenere and explored this beautiful, picturesque area.
Civitavecchia - hired Rafael, from mycabinrome.com to take us to certain highlights around Rome. He was right on time picking us up in port with a newer van with AC, very knowledgeable about the ancient history of Rome, even helped us meet up with some family for lunch. Highly recommend!
Naples - Used See Amalfi Coast company (driver Giovanni) to drive us to various towns on the Amalfi Coast. There was some confusion at pick up - we were told to meet him at the cruise terminal so took a shuttle there to wait for him - he went straight to the ship so we missed each other. Eventually with a few calls he found us. Giovanni was excellent, kept an eye on traffic conditions near Positano and after consulting us, we changed our itinerary to reduce our time in traffic and see a couple more towns instead. The scenery is gorgeous! Our daughter got carsick so take your Dramamine!
Kotor, Montenegro - Gorgeous ride in - wake up early for this awesome display of God's handiwork!! We walked through the old town and straight up to the top of the fortress first thing in the morning - 1350 steps up with a 4 year old! If you do this climb you need to do it first thing before the sun bakes the trail.
Split, Croatia - explored Diocletian's palace, some of us went up the bell tower. There isn't much to do/see here after that in port, especially after seeing Kotor.
Venice - we got an airbnb here for a couple days after disembarkation. Took the Alilaguna straight from the cruise terminal to a spot near our apt. Recommend getting the 24 ACTV waterbus pass so you can go up/down the Grand CAnal, take a side trip to Murano or Burano. We went to Burano where all the houses are painted various bright colors - super great photo spot!
Wish it was in the budget to do this more often - it was an awesome trip!
Great! Walls are thin and when you go out on the veranda a certain point everyone can see you but the views are spectacular and there is lots of space for lounging or eating.
Pull out beds are basically a single cot size and a full size bed. Lots of storage!
Go to Cassis - possible to do on your own if you're fit to walk to/from train station in Cassis. See above for details.
We wanted to maximize our time in port so did not go to Florence or Pisa. Highly recommend Portovenere for the day via ferry.
It's hard to see Rome in a few hours. Hire a private guide to get the most bang for your buck. See above for details. We prebooked Colisseum entrance which is absolutely necessary - book early to get the earliest time. We went at 2 PM and it was so hot it was hard to enjoy.
Private guide to Amalfi Coast - excellent! SEe above.
Gorgeous port - wake up early to watch the ship sail in. Old city is lovely, take stairs up to fortress early in the morning for fantastic view.
Walked through Diocletian's palace, did not do museum - but would have if our kids weren't with us. Not a whole lot to do here but it is a shorter stay and at the end of the trip so didn't need a full day experience.