Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by Dr. ASW
- Sail Date: June 2019
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Family Ocean View with Balcony
My wife, who used to be a travel agent, and I have been on over 20 cruises so were well versed in our younger days on cruising, but have not done so in over 10 years. Once the ships got so big, the itineraries didn't seem to ever change and the product just wasn't as glamorous as the days before the magaliners we decided to hang it up for a while until the family got older and we could afford a higher-end vacation and this is what we thought we booked......this is where the two stories begin.....
We chose Celebrity because of past experience years ago and the more adult style experience it was to offer.....we chose this 10 day cruise as we have never traveled to most of the stops and have never been with our children to Europe as a family before....and after putting two through college we had to try to cut some corners...so we booked a quad cabin....family veranda and figured we could deal in one space given the amount of time we would be off the ship on this busy trip.
Before I go further I just want to say that despite the negatives that will follow, the ship was the perfect size for us, though older it was clean, well kept, the crew and staff were smiling, attentive, and it truly was what we expected from the Cruise Lines in regards to the service associated with Celebrity. The itinerary was superb. We also found the food better then we had anticipated given the size of ships these days....there were never lines of people to fight, never an issue finding a table, lounge chair or seat in a show and embarkation, tendering, returning aboard, and disembarkation were as smooth as could be so to that end Celebrity gets a 10/10....
So what say you was wrong with our trip????
To begin with, we found the booking process to be a real "cheapish" experience...kind of like buying a car.....it seemed that once we booked the trip we had to call several times to get the rate/perks adjusted based on the different promotions that would come out just days after originally booking or changing something....it was like trying to keep track of airfare...and was very confusing....even to us seasoned cruisers back in the day. And the thing that really pissed me off was the email I received to "BID" on a cabin upgrade....I found this to be extremely low-end for such a high-end business. This left a very poor taste in our mouth before ever leaving given what this trip was costing soup to nuts.....we can't believe the cost of drink packages and the confusing way they are presented, the internet fees for what was almost no service....they consider internet a perk in this day and age and half the time we couldn't do our work if needed or make calls to friends using Wi-fi calling....it should be free for everyone in this time of our lives....more on the drink package issue later......
More background....we chose to travel at this time of year due to the fact we figured there would be very few children on this ship on a June 9 sailing from Europe and we never expected babies and small children on a 10 day port packed European sailing....boy were we wrong!!
We arrived at the ship and boarded easily and we found our nice sized family, veranda stateroom with our very nice attendant....we were exhausted as we had to travel to the ship in Rome the day of sailing and so really needed to get a nap in before dinner.....this is where the problems began.....
The family Verandas on the back of the ship have two pull-out type sofa beds to go along with the twin/king really beds....my son is 5'11'' and my daughter 5'8" so no one could sleep without their sofa being out and made.....when we got in our cabin we immediately tried to pull out the beds and the smaller one wouldn't come out...the fabric was all torn and the side of one armrest was coming apart from the back of the couch....mildly annoyed we couldn't do this ourselves we had to get our cabin steward and he informed us the bed was bent so had to pulled out a special way....still exhausted and wanting to be able to sleep when we wanted they called someone to fix the bent framing and the head of housekeeping came and told us that the next day while we were in port they would remove the furniture and reupholster it and fix it properly....he was great...Claudio and they did as promised but it was a little off putting to not be able to get comfy right off the bat.....
Well....from here the problems got worse......we had just all laid down to nap and as soon as we drifted off our neighbors got to their cabin....all 5 of them...thats right all 5!! Parents with 3 children under the age of 8 one of whom was under a year old.....the fighting, crying, screaming from parents etc...started instantly and I just for the life of me couldn't fathom a family of this age on a trip like this......I still can't.....needless to say we immediately reached out to the staff about a room change and as usual "No Rooms at the Inn"....we were stuck with this circus next to us for 10 days...and it was a circus....baby crying in middle of the night...wall so thin I could hear every word said in their cabin when I laid in bed....they had breakfast delivered to their cabin every morning 6:30-7:00AM and never once showed any concern for their level of noise...babies you can't control but toddlers you can to some degree and they couldn't.....my two children were so upset being 23/21 and not being able to sleep-in was brutal.....to make matters worse....they would leave their room by 7:30 and their alarm clock would go off at 8AM....I had to leave them a note on their door about this.....
This scenario of this young family next door really is what drove so much of our negativity about the cruise...the lack of sleep magnified every experience and again....I feel this was no place for children this age and in speaking to so many older passengers when they heard our story they couldn't believe it either.....now this family was part of a bigger family....we actually met their parents (the grandparents) of the little ones on a tender....I offered to switch rooms so they could be closer to their family and they just laughed...they knew what would happen if they were next to their kin.....they also had two other grandchildren on board one of whom was a newborn we met on a train in France....I'm sorry Grandparents..but why would you bring 5 children under the age of 8 on a trip like this...to me this is selfish.....I don't care what circumstances there may be in life and all looked very very healthy so I don't believe this was a bucket-list family cruise for them.....
We had several meetings with the cruise personal about the issues we were experiencing and although they sent us flowers champagne, paid for dinner one night and ended up giving us a nominal certificate towards another trip some day $2500 it in no way could make up for this over $12,000 vacation......they actually said they would not reach out to the family and that we shouldn't confront them either......we asked for our internet packages be refunded as the service was terrible and they wouldn't do this which we thought was pretty cheap.....enough of "The Children of the Corn".....very, very disappointing.....
Now for the other issues we had....
1) Drink and internet packages/perks are a suck job...the fact that there is plastic all over the bottom of the ocean they use plastic water bottles in the restaurant and that if you don't show you have a drink package you get tap water......it was like showing your passport to fly and ridiculous to have a waiter pour water form a small plastic water bottle.....between the drinks and internet packages/perks this is a very, very sad consumer experience!!!
2) So Canyon Ranch runs the Spa on Celebrity.....well, we've been to Canyon Ranches on land and have been pampered to death....well, not the case on this ship....staff very ordinary and we paid for the "Persian Garden Experience" with the "Adult Only" pool area.....well three times my wife came out of the shower to find young children with their parent using the toilet in the locker room and one day a woman was breast feeding a baby right by the Adult Only pool....there was no policing of this policy and it was far from Canyon Ranch quality.
3) Dining room experience was not the service we were used to.....now I know I said the food was better then we thought it would be, but there is so much energy wasted on figuring out who has what drink package by the servers, sommeliers, etc....that to get more then 1 glass of wine at dinner was like pulling teeth....or getting a second drink....you pay for these packages but yet they bog down the entire service/experience you expect in the dining room....this was very, very annoying.....
4) Casino...staff friendly and pleasant, but Casino was small, and opened later then stated every night and not just by a few minutes.....I would have liked to have been able to utilize the Casino more.....
5) gift shops.....basically felt the shopping onboard was lame and wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't part of the ship...and liquor store never opened once the entire 10 day cruise.
6) Shore excursions don't seem to be worth the money...we had private tours arranged in several ports and did our own thing in others and saved hundreds of dollars doing this and felt we had a great experience in all ports we stopped in. In Sete France it cost us 50 Euro total to take the train to Mountpellier but if we did the tour for 4 it would have been close to $1000
Staff, Ship, Entertainment, Ports 10/10....over all experience and discomfort factor due to the above 3/10.....
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