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Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,827 Reviews

10 days Barcelona to Venice; Exhausting but wonderful

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by Water babies

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jul 2019
  • Destination: the Western Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Royal Suite

We can only travel easily during July due to our fifteen year old son's school and athletic schedule. The Caribbean holds no allure for us during the heat of the summer, we've done Alaska, and the Pacific is so far from the East Coast of the US, therefore Europe is our preferred destination. This itinerary/ship seemed to be the best value that Celebrity had to offer for July in Europe, so after several other preliminary bookings on the Edge for this year, we settled on it in December 2018. We did 3 days in Barcelona prior to the cruise by booking a Celebrity City Stay Package. Hotel was nice and in a great location but the per person price was a little outrageous for a triple occupancy room. My son slept on a sofa bed that was left out the entire stay, leaving us little to no room to walk in the room. If I had been given the option of paying a single supplement, I would have, but alas Celebrity ignored my repeated inquiries prior to the cruise. I also am quite put out that having been notified we would NOT be visiting Sagrada Familia on our included city tour, I booked/pre-paid to visit on our own free time, then the tour guide took us there the final evening (as was stated in the original itinerary). Needless to say, I will NOT book a Celebrity City Stay package again (and indeed there were only 9 of us on this sailing who did) but will make our own arrangements.

Boarding the ship was great--we were in a Royal Suite again (we have done the same on the Summit twice before) and the Constellation was so much like the Summit it was like coming home. I am actually glad that the Constellation had not been "revolutionized" yet. Everything on the ship was well-maintained. I don't need everything to be brand-spanking new and trendy to feel comfortable. The crew was STELLAR, as always. We love Luminae (our son only does dinner there--he prefers the buffet if he eats breakfast at all) and we were so happy to see familiar faces from our previous Summit cruises (Siraz, the sommelier and Armando who had been in Blu for our Southern Caribbean cruise). Being able to mix and match from the main dining room menu was also a big plus. Even though we had specialty dining included, we only ate in Tuscan Grill one night (meh...especially with Italian ports on the itinerary) and Sushi on Five for At Sea day lunch (yum). We have done Qsine before and it's not our favorite. We did miss Murano (was Ocean Liners on Constellation). I did get gelato at Cafe Al Bacio 3 or 4 afternoons, though. Got a pedicure on embarkation day (much needed but overpriced and the upsell pitch is unavoidable) and my son used the Gym equipment, hung with other teens at the pool but otherwise we did not frequent the spa/pool deck at all (except some late lunches at the Grill after excursions). Since we did an excursion every day in port and had only one sea day, did not get to maximize use of the ship's facilities. We were so tired most nights, we went back to the room after dinner (usually seated at 6:30 pm) and were lucky to be awake past 10 pm!

Our son, of course, is a night owl and rarely came back to the room before 2 am. There were many teens on the cruise and he was well entertained--we even left him behind on the ship for 2 out of the 3 Dalmatian Coast ports since he was tired of shore excursions (said it was like being on a school field trip--too much history). I heard no reports of bad behavior from other cruisers and the ship's safety officer assured me they allow "teens to be teens" under watchful eyes. Our room steward and butler were accommodating and allowed him to sleep in the bedroom all morning while they attended to the rest of the suite. My husband and I only made it to one show in the theater (the last 30 minutes of the "Rock" show). We heard several of the shows were quite good. Our son went to the "Magic of Soul" hoping it was a magician or comedian (which we missed having on this sailing as well) and said he enjoyed the show anyway. We did go to the Rendezvous Lounge--the performers there were good (we could often hear them in Luminae, competing with the piped in music, which was distracting at meal time--wish they had closed the doors or turned off the piped in music) but not compelling listening. As always, there was those 1 or 2 couples who were putting their dance lessons to good use. We stayed for one of the Trivia games (Are you smarter than a Ship's Officer) which was entertaining enough to keep us awake. They seemed to be having a rash of illness among the performers during our sailing--several did not perform when expected.

We went to our Cruise Critic meet and greet (nice to chat with others), Senior Officers Cocktail Reception in Micheal's on the second formal night (obligatory photo with Captain provided to us for "free") and couple evenings in Cellar Masters where we enjoyed a solo guitarist who interacted with us like we were the only ones listening (and we might have been) and also met a couple from the UK (Edinburgh)who surprisingly knew as much about the NFL as we did!

We did Celebrity excursions for 4 ports (French Riviera x 2, Montenegro, Croatia), Rome In Limo private excursions for 3 (Florence/Pisa, Rome, Positano/Sorrento/Pompeii) and a Roll Call arranged Excursion (Slovenia-Lake Bled)with 14 others. I will review them separately but I will say that the only disappointing one was the Beach Day in Croatia--which Celebrity gave all participants a 50% refund after many complained upon return to the ship. I learned that, especially during the heat of the summer, 3 days pre-cruise and 5 port days in a row is exhausting to say the least. We'll either opt to stay on board in some ports or find an itinerary with more sea days scattered throughout for future cruises. Just hard to travel that far and not get off the ship!

Unfortunately, it was raining in Venice the day we disembarked, which just added to the chaos in the terminal. Even though they have the Micheal's Club concierge escort you off the ship and have your bags in a separate location available whenever you want to leave, I saw no advantage for Suite guests. We had to line up with the masses to walk through customs (who did some random checks but were mostly just a bottleneck). Our intent was to take the People Mover to Piazzale Roma where our post-cruise hotel was, but ended up taking a Taxi for 40 Euro since we didn't feel like wandering around in the rain and he was right there at the exit and willing to take us (he was the second one we asked). We still had to haul our luggage over one bridge (3 sets of steps) but that's what 15 year old boys are good for, LOL.

Checking into the hotel (Hotel Olympia) was crazy--lots of guests from our sailing checking in at the same time while folks on the next sailing were checking out and the rooms had to be cleaned). The lobby was wall to wall people and luggage--the bellman had to kick us out into the rain because there was no room to move. We explored and came back, drenched, after 2 pm when the rooms were ready as promised. It was actually a welcome change from the intense sun and heat we had every other day of the trip.

Overall, we enjoyed our entire vacation, and came home exhausted but happy. The best part was meeting fellow cruisers (on land and at sea) from other parts of the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and South America. As always, Celebrity delivers a quality product and fully met our expectations. When something fell short, they fixed it in most cases, with the exception of the Celebrity City Stay Package (lesson learned). We put all of our travel nest egg in one proverbial basket for this trip and have no regrets--we feel we got what we paid for. I would not recommend Celebrity to a budget-minded traveler or someone who needs lots of excitement/over the top activities, but it suits our family's needs like a glove and is squarely in our comfort zone.

Water babies's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Royal Suite
Cabin RS 6138

Just like our cabin on the Summit in 2018, with a few different quirks like the plugs UNDER the vanity in the bedroom--hard to see when switching the many devices we needed to charge. They painted the rail to the balcony mid-cruise but it was dry by our At Sea days. There was a sewage smell at times--possibly from the bath drain (which we never used) or in certain ports where I suspect the holding tanks were emptied or overflowing--not sure which. Bed was comfortable (our son did not complain about the sofa bed at all) and the cabin temp was kept cool enough to combat the intense heat of the itinerary. Can't say enough good things about our Butler, Bart or our Steward, German. They met every request promptly and anticipated things we didn't even know we needed.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

I was informed of an itinerary change 2 months ahead of the cruise, so I was able to book our own tour of Sagrada Familia during our free time (at extra expense). Then, our tour guide took us there as was stated in our original itinerary after all. So, I paid twice for the same thing! With no apology or explanation offered. I also had inquired about the room accommodations since it was not explicitly stated with our booking. We got no definitive response and then found out we were booked as a triple room. I would have paid a single supplement if it had been offered!! I will make my own arrangements in the future--this was NOT good value for the money.

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I think the perfume factory stop in Grasse could have been eliminated, giving us a shorter excursion and more time in Villefranche in the afternoon. I wish we had stopped in St Paul de Vence first, before all the crowds and before we were too tired to walk the hills. There was too much free time in Cannes, but I was happy to have lunch included (which I was not expecting from the tour description). That made the price of the excursion much more reasonable.

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We were met by our driver (sorry I forget her name--yikes!) and had a van just for the 3 of us--very comfortable. She took us to Pisa first where we stopped for coffee and to use the restrooms, after taking all the obligatory photos (already lots of people). then off to Florence, where she took us to a lovely church overlooking the entire city. She was very knowledgeable and personable, and knew her way around for sure. I would have been lost on our own. The restaurant she took us for lunch was nice--we were the first customers and were in/out without hassle; it was reasonably priced for being in the heart of the tourist zone. Our visit to the Academia served it's purpose--we saw David. It was only slightly cooler inside than outside, so we did not linger. She got us to the Ponte Vecchio and then back to the ship in plenty of time. If I went to Livorno again, I would choose to do Cinque Terre or something in the Tuscan countryside. I would not hesitate to use Rome in Limo again if they offered an itinerary for those areas.

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We were met by Giovanni (?) in a Mercedes sedan--not a roomy as the van but more practical in the city. Again, he was a very knowledgeable and personable driver who we enjoyed spending the day with. He showed us all the sights you have to see in Rome and was very cognizant of not overtiring us with excessive walking in the heat. He took us took a great little Pizza place frequented more by locals than tourists for our lunch break and did not give us excessive "free" time away from him or the car. Our Vatican guide was also also great (sorry I forget his name, too!) and he was very engaging with our 15 year old son. He made sure we saw the highlights and managed the crowds/heat/stairs/walking the best he could. Again, our driver got us back to the port in plenty of time, tired but satisfied we had seen Rome in a day.

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This was booked as a 3-port package with Rome in Limo. My husband and I had done Positano, Amalfi Coast and "Pizza School" in Sorrento with Rome in Limo on a previous cruise stop in Naples, which is why I used this company. I had indicated on booking that I might want to alter the itinerary for this port since we really only wanted to see Pompeii, but apparently that was totally ignored. The driver (again I forget his name) obviously had a set itinerary he could not alter, and our Pompeii guide was pre-arranged for 2 hours starting around 2 pm. My son was quite tired of excursions at this point and was really disappointed we would not be getting back to the ship early. Therefore, he once again slept the entire way to our first stop in Positano. This time our driver was clearly only a driver, not a guide. Although he was friendly enough, he gave minimal information and then just answered questions. Mostly he would drop us off, point us in the right direction and then pick us up at a designated spot. We had done Positano before and I STILL never made it all the way down to the beach. Even doing the hill first thing was too much for me on day #7 of touring. When we got to our lunch stop in Sorrento, it was the same restaurant we did "Pizza School" during our previous trip! We met our guide at the designated entrance in Pompeii. She was very knowledgeable but not very accommodating in terms of our comfort level, starting at the Port gate which was at the bottom of a steep incline. We did manage to stop in the shade for her first long explanation, but only because I could not go any further without resting. After about an hour during which I could barely concentrate on what she was saying due to the intense heat and cumulative fatigue from the trip thus far, I stopped her and told her we would have to cut the tour short. She quickly realized her mistake and took us back to the driver as quickly as she could--he being interrupted from his 4th break of the day and driving us back to the port mostly in silence so we could nap. We spoke to others who did Celebrity's excursions to Pompeii who said they also went in the heat of the afternoon (supposedly there is a breeze at that time of day) but had entered a gate that was already at the top of the site and then descended down at the end. One couple had booked a small group excursion that included (unbeknownst in advance to them) virtual reality headsets that showed what Pompeii looked like originally, prior to the eruption, in some spots. I would only go back to Pompeii if that was available in the future. Overall I found Ephesus more impressive. I will be very careful when booking private tour operators in the future and make sure they are willing to tailor the excursions to our needs--otherwise there is much less advantage to using them over the ship's excursions (although you do avoid the cattle call in the theater and don't have to continually wait for stragglers and counting heads).

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I like that the walking tour was brief and hit the highlights (and fairly flat). The Farm visit was really just a lunch stop--not much to see in terms of production of the products they were offering for sale, but it was nice to see how the locals live and sample the products. The musical entertainment was good, but not Montenegrin folk tradition by any stretch of the imagination (flute and electronic keyboard and the ubiquitous rendition of John Denver's "Country Roads" I've heard all over Europe). Glad we left my son on the ship.

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We were 16 people on a small bus. Our tour guide was minimally informative--he seemed new and unsure of himself but he was personable enough and was focused on getting us to our arranged-for sights and back to the cruise ship on time, despite challenging traffic conditions as surrounding European tourists started the traditional vacation period to the Lake Bled area. Even on a day with a mixed weather forecast, Lake Bled was gorgeous. The rowboat out to the island was not overly long and enjoyable (covered for relief from the sun). I did not expect the 99 steps up to the church but was happy to finally find the restroom at the top (the guide was oblivious to the fact that we might need rest stops and never pointed out where they were, even when asked--unbelieveable!). I enjoyed having lunch at the Castle--something our fellow Roll Call member coordinated with the tour company and all the tour participants in advance--especially the infamous Lake Bled Cream Cake which lived up to the hype. We were a bit rushed but pleasantly surprised by our whirlwind tour of Ljubljiana and did make it back to the bus before the sky opened and made it back to port (most of the traffic was in the opposite direction) in plenty of time--an hour before sail away. My husband said it was his favorite excursion of the cruise (we left our son on the ship).

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We were informed of an itinerary change in advance, but the price of the excursion was not altered. It was a pretty steep price just for a transfer to a beach & "resort" that was advertised as sandy, but was actually pretty rocky, at least to enter/exit the water. Had I known, I would have cancelled or at least brought water shoes. "Included" was a sunbed (barely adequate) and shared umbrella (which we had to fight over with others on the excursion since it was a "free for all" when we arrived at our designated area). There was no attempt made to let folks get local currency at an ATM, even though the bathroom facilities were not free and any food/drink you wanted beyond the one included beverage (water, limonata or orange drink) would also have to be purchased. The Shore excursion staff said they would take Euros but our guide told us that was actually prohibited by law and if the merchant did take Euros, you would not get any change back. The guide was actually quite informative and entertaining and he did stay on the beach to make there was nothing anyone needed. Of course, there was that one couple who decided not to take the bus back to the ship and never told the guide, delaying our departure by more than 30 minutes. Luckily, enough people were dissatisfied and complained upon our return to the ship that they gave everyone a 50% refund of the tour excursion price.

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I enjoyed Cassis and was able to do a 45 minute boat tour of 3 Calanques as I had hoped. It would have been nice to have that as part of the excursion, but I understand that it is weather dependent, just like the drive up to Cap Canaille, which was happily opened at the last minute for our excursion.

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Water babies
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