As we just come back from our 7 Night Greece & Turkey cruise on Celebrity Constellation (sailing on 08/23/2015), I decided to write down an objective review for those readers who would love to start cruising with Celebrity but somehow got confused with all the contradictory reviews published almost everywhere.
I never cruised with Celebrity before and even if this year I already booked 7 cruises I decided to have a go. It was a 7 Night Greece & Turkey cruise on board Celebrity Constellation starting from Venice and visiting Dubrovnik, Kussadasi, Mykonos and Corfu. I took the decision to choose a medium value stateroom just to stay on the safe side in case this cruise liner was not my coup of tea.
My and my partner we were in an Aquaclass Cabin – stateroom 1110, on the 11 deck
Celebrity Constellation Overview
Celebrity Constellation debuted in 2002 as the final ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium Class, with 2,034-passengers and affectionately known as “Connie” by its fans. Spending 7 days on Constellation, at every step, in each venues, I didn’t have the feeling that I am on a cruise ship, one of those massive floating hotels sailing all-over Mediterranean sea; Constellation manage to balance the intimacy offered by smaller ships and the space offered by bigger ships. Passengers have access to nine bars and lounges, French, Italian and bistro alternative restaurants, shopping zone and lot of public areas without the risk of getting agoraphobic.
Is easy to fall in love with the modern and exquisite deco where rich but not opulent fabrics in jewel tones mix elegantly with the abundant use of marble and wood accents throughout public areas. The atmosphere is not like any other cruise ships we’ve been before but one with personality, filled with grand spaces that flow nicely from one to the other
Our option was an Aquaclass cabin to stay on the safe side in the balance value for money-comfort-services – and wasn’t a bad option at all. I have to say that from outside Constellation look very impressive with an incredible number of balconies due to the fact that about 60 percent of its accommodations feature verandas.
AquaClass Stateroom is, apparently, among the most popular choices on all Celebrity ships a kind of a spa-inspired cabins. The Celebrity website introduce the AquaClass stateroom having floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening to a private balcony large sitting area private bathroom with Hansgrohe massaging showerhead 100% Egyptian cotton towels complimentary use of bathrobes minibar 32-inch flat-screen TV direct-dial telephone and voicemail thermostat-controlled air-conditioning individual safe hairdryer and 24-hour room service. Pretty accurate but:
- most of the Aqua Class staterooms aft on Deck 11, including ours (1110) are beneath the basketball court on Deck 12, and above the Seaside Grill on Resort deck. Quite noisy sometimes
- Hansgrohe massaging showerhead not an amazing addition as couple of days the water pressure made impossible of using all options of the device.
- the Egyptian cotton towels looked sometimes a little bit tired like the complimentary bathrobes which for sure need a replacement
I was very impressed with the fact that our room steward (Cruz excellent in all aspects) was changing the fruit basket daily but not very impressed with the odd looking and lack of quality healthy drink placed in our room on a daily base.
Quite happy with the storage space even if the cabin has the size normal for a balcony cabin on other ship. The best feature was with no doubts the balcony: due to an ingenious design the balcony looked bigger than others and have enough space for 2 chairs, 2 small tables and a footrest – perfect for a relaxing afternoon.
Bottom line – AquaClass cabin is a very good investment for the space offered and the amenities, if you can see beyond the oversold amenities and add-ons going on-board with not so high expectations.
As an AquaClass guest you have access to a special restaurant – Blue. Again a little misleading from Celebrity: “clean cuisine”. That can put off some guests, like myself, who just want to enjoy a special and divers culinary experience, thinking that you will get only healthy, low calories, steamed food even in holiday. That’s wrong, very wrong as Blue is quite an amazing option for dinner. Although there’s a preconception by many passengers that the menu is full of flavourless vegan-type dishes in small portions, the reality is that the chefs manage to dinners that are palate pleasing and reasonably good for you. Can’t forget the delicious escargots de Bourgogne, the frog legs, chilled soups or dream like stakes. A typical dinner menu would start with appetizers like the amazing braised beef short ribs followed by a soup or salad course (my favourite was the Waldorf salad). Entrees include anything you want from veal and beef, to game hen, prime rib and fish. Superbly presented and served every evening. The entire atmosphere was exactly as described on Celebrity website: Blu – Intimately elegant, yet fresh and modern. The only downside was the slow service: if the restaurant was busy you needed around 2.30-2.45h to complete de dinner even if around your table you have a small army of 2 hosts, 1 waiter, 1 assistant waiter and 1 sommelier. But the quality of the food made the waiting worth it. The modern feel to Blu’s décor transcends to food and presentation and you forget that you’re on a cruise ship and feel like you’re out at a contemporary restaurant.
Only once we tried the breakfast in Blue – maybe to healthy for us and again a little bit slow. Funny but useless the idea to have a “tableside muesli service”: if you want to stay fit and healthy I think that a short walk to the buffet to create your own muesli will not kill anybody.
Blu features open seating and reservations are not required. Cruisers can dine anytime between 6 PM and 9:30 PM. Quite a good idea that idea to get a pager if your table is not ready and avoid waiting in a line in front of the restaurant. The lines in front of San Marco Restaurant (the main dinning venue) were funny: men in tuxedos and ladies in elegant gowns waiting in a 10-15 people line for 20 minutes reminds me of a Tarkovsky movie.
The buffet is like anywhere else; good ideas to have different stations with different dishes but unfortunately the timings for meal was wrong. On board they have strict timings for different meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (afternoon or late) which remind me of a summer camp or a Spanish all-inclusive resort. For example if you fancy a snack after 11.00pm you lost the battle: nothing open, nothing available apart of the room service – with an announced waiting time of 30-40 minutes. We tried once, after spending some time in the night club to order something and after 45 minutes, around 2am we needed to cancel the order and jump in bed – maybe that was the healthy option offered by AquaClass stateroom!
And twice we had lunch in the main dinning room – San Marco. Was empty and we expected a quick friendly service but, again, Celebrity needs some work in this area: an army of waiter were walking around – in search for the missing polite smile maybe – and the lunch took 2h again.
Room service is very good with an improved menu in AquaClass stateroom. Annoying is just the policy of calling the room to check if “everything is fine with the room service”; even if at the beginning that impressed me quite a lot, couple of times we got the phone call before the breakfast arrived which destroyed completely the feeling of “personalised and carrying service”.
The heart of Constellation’s public areas is her Grand Foyer, a rectangular, three-deck atrium dominated by a backlit onyx stairway that glows beneath you.
The elegant Reflections venue on Deck 11 serves as an observation lounge for readers and a quiet place for dance and craft classes by day, but it’s also the official gathering place for very good clubbing music.
Entertainment venues include the three-deck Celebrity Theatre in the bow; the modern 900-seat theatre is where most of the major entertainment action takes place. The banquet-style seats are comfortable enough for the nearly hour-long programs, and the small tables positioned along the rows of seats are handy. We enjoyed there couple of nights watching the ship’s shows.
We didn’t used the contemporary Rendezvous Lounge, Fortunes Casino as was not a lively atmosphere when we passed through.
Constellation also got a Martini Bar (our favourite space even if sometimes crowded and most of the time understaffed) – a combination of booze and entertainment with the bartenders flipping and juggling bottles of top-shelf vodka and gin in time with disco music. Finding seats around the main bar during peak time is a challenge, as is getting a bartender’s attention. One of our fellow passengers told me that if you plan to be a regular at this bar, a tip the day you come aboard of $20 or more may result in better service throughout your cruise.
The comfortable Café al Bacio and Gelateria for specialty coffees and ice cream was a little bit too crowed for us and the Cellarmasters wine bar, was most of the time empty.
Celebrity has a favourite list of entertainers, musicians and singers from England, which tried hard to be too alternative and less entertaining. The overall quality was far under the similar acts on other cruise liners. If you add the loud and weird background music on-board you will understand why we preferred to spend our evenings in Martini Bar.
Talking about background music: was funny to have breakfast in Blue around 7.45am and being bombarded with loud alternative sounds; was hilarious that that time in the morning one of the songs was related to “sex on the beach”, “push it harder” or “orgasm”. Maybe this is modern luxury – music sex and … scrambled eggs!
Reflections club is a great place…but the DJ manage to kill it; my partner and I love dancing but the disco was club music aimed at 18 year olds (not many of them on the cruise). When we spoke with the DJ with some request he ignored as in a very impolite way and after the second went back to his favourite music: clubbing. Was quite weird that a DJ doesn’t realise the need to change the rhythm when the dance floor is empty for most of the time and quite full for one song or another. Therefore we preferred the parties in Martini Bar.
The shows were a big disappointment. With such a great venue as Celebrity Theatre and the level of quality advertised by Celebrity you expect something much better than on other ships. But we were wrong again. Apart of some acts, guest entertainers, the Celebrity productions remind me of an end of season show of a mediocre acting school. The costumes, the lights, the sound and the stage production were great but didn’t manage to raise the level of the cast: chubby dancers, singers with a “BGT audition” voices and scripts insulting the IQ of the audience.
One night we decided to watch the Elrya – the most acclaimed and newest Celebrity production, described as a “sensual, seductive and dreamlike” stage performance and rated 18+.A show launched in April and prepared in the new Royal Caribbean Production Studio. “Our (rehearsal) space is even bigger than Cirque du Soleil’s,” Thomson-Foley-a former dancer turned cruise director turned entertainment boss, said. Unfortunately the size doesn’t matter in showbiz. The entire performance remind me of a bad casted pantomime in Blackpole for a stag’s and hen’s parties. What was the need for the vulgarity and the poor quality of the stand-up drag moments? What was the need of killing massive songs with poor voices? Fortunately for all on stage the performance was on a cruise ship and not in a real theatre…the critics will kill the show after the first night. On the Constellation you can re-cover in the Martini Bar.
The Cruise Director and his staff was “Carnival style”: great jokes if you are half-drunk, activities who try hard and unsuccessful to be funny, their entire presence around the ship (even on television) was dull and over the top. When you search for modern luxury you don’t expect to find officers playing water polo in their uniforms or pub style competition…on a cruise ship yes, you do!
OK, that’s enough for now…quite a long review but the only reason is that I enjoyed cruising with Celebrity and I am sure that they can do better and they have to if they want to be “modern luxury”.
Why I liked our Celebrity Constellation cruise?
- Superb food, no compromises in quality and presentation
- Elegant and modern look like ship with all the facility that you expect from a cruise ship but keeping a sense of intimacy and class
- Very good room steward – Cruz (staterrom 1110) and an all the time polite smiling bartender – Milos (Sunset Bar)
- Excellent bar concept – Martini Bar
- Amazing selection of drinks (no mass produced cocktails)
Why I didn’t like our Celebrity Constellation cruise?
- Slow service all around the ship maybe due to the under staff cutting costs policy
- Not a 5* service overall with a tired attitude and “we’ve done that for the last 6 months” smile
- A fantastic venue (Reflection Lounge) killed sometimes by a “playing music for myself” DJ
- Low quality and profile entertainment with a waste of money and energy for a mediocre result
When I looked back I realise now that was not exactly their slogan “LUXURIOUS. MODERN. UNIQUE”. It was a nice cruise, a little bit overpriced, with fellow guests trying to balance their spending and expectation with the only solution of enjoying their vacations.
Of course far much better than Costa or MSC but a long, long way to Regent or Viking! So Celebrity you still have time to act and be where you want and deserve to be. You will have another go soon…
Thank you for a nice week.