There was a lot of good and some bad to this cruise. First the good: a fortnight of great ports and great weather. And the bad ? ... something has happened to "Connie".
Harwich was its useful efficient self for embarkation and we were on board within an hour of driving through the port gates. Cabins were ready on time and she still looked stunning.
Entertainment was more silver than golden. The same production shows as last year, but with a much inferior cast. Also the cruise director, Jeff Potts, was nothing special. He just didn't compare to stunt-man John last cruise.
Service just seemed to have gone down a notch somewhere in 12 months. Whether it was in the main dining room, food quality or the state room service. When once nothing was too much trouble, now it seems to be. One of the bar service waiters summed this up as "many of the top people have been reassigned to the new Solstice class ships". I don't know if that is true, but it want the same happy and attentive crew.
There is a much more evident hard-sell push on board this time. Whether its the soda package, the spa package, the camera shop or the excursions, Celebrity need to harvest your money somehow. The "Russian Bazaar" was heavily sold prior to St Petersberg and advice given to wait and buy your souvenirs there. When you did they were much more expensive than the official gift shops in Russia.
Main dining room food was often hit and miss. You didn't always get what you ordered and sometimes the rendering of classic dishes was a little odd. There was also a tendency to finish all the savory dishes with a drizzle of olive oil. Just too much. That said, the short order evening restaurant in the Seaview was still great and dinner in Ocean Liners was a delight of cooking, service, theatre and even ballet. Well worth the surcharge to experience.
It was still a great cruise experience, but this year Constellation is starting to show some signs of tiredness.