This cruise was sort of a repositioning cruise for the
Constellation; ending her Baltic season as she headed over to the
The itinerary began in Dover, England- Zeebrugge, Belgium-
LeHavre, France- Vigo, Spain- Cadiz, Spain- Lisbon, Portugal- Palma
de Mallorca, Spain- Villefranche, France- Livorno, Italy- ending in
I filed "Virtual Cruise Reports" for CruiseMates, which detailed
our experiences in the ports of call. You can use the search
feature on CruiseMates Home Page, if you wish, to read those
reports. Here, I will concentrate on the ship experience, as well
as tidbits of gossip I picked up along the way from some Celebrity
Cruise Line Execs who were along on this sailing.
We've previously sailed the Millennium and the Summit, and
clearly very much like this class of ship. Even though they are all
sister's, each has some areas which have a different feel than her
The exteriors of these ships do not take your breath away, as
some ships do, but once you're onboard all exude a refined,
somewhat elegant, atmosphere. Like her sisters, Constellation
carries a modern somewhat eclectic mix of art and sculptures
walking the gangway, guests enter the ship on Deck 3 in the Lobby
area. Here you'll find the Guest Relations Desk, the Bank, Shore
Excursions desk, the office of the Future Cruise Coordinator, and
out of the way, nearer to the bank of elevators, the alternate
(extra charge) restaurant, Ocean Liners. Down the hallways from the
Lobby forward are passenger cabins. Aft from the Lobby, you'll find
a small movie theatre, as well as a number of conference rooms.
An illuminated marble onyx staircase, decorated using linen like
styled draperies as columns leads up to Deck 4. The Casino,
Michael's Club, the Photo Galleries, and the entrance to the
Celebrity Theatre, are located forward of the lobby on Deck 4.
Heading aft is the Rendezvous Lounge, and then the lower level of
the San Marcos Dining Room. The Internet Cafe is also midship ,
just off of the stairway.
Deck 5 is centered by the Cova Cafe, designed to give the
ambience of a European sidewalk cafe, they serve various fancy
coffees and pastries, and a decent hot chocolate. Located forward
of the Cova Cafe are the "shops of the emporium", offering rather
typical cruise ship shopping, as well as a sitting area where the
art auctions are sold.
Aft of the Cova Cafe enroute to the upper level of the San
Marcos Dining Room, are the Champagne & Martini Bars. Really,
one large bar, as is the Rendezvous Lounge on Deck 4, but one side
features champagne, the other Martinis. Though you can get either
plus all the regular drinks no matter which side of the room you
sit in. The color scheme in the Champagne/Martini bars is much more
subdued and relaxing than in the Rendezvous Lounge, so this was my
favorite spot for pre dinner drinks.
Decks 6 through 9 are passenger cabins decks, except mid-ship
where a two story library and music listening rooms are located.
Both offer relaxing, comfortable furnishings in a quiet
Deck 10, Resort Deck is where the action is on sea days. The
central pool is divided in two sections, with some space for
loungers between them. Immediately next to the stage area is the
grill area, where you can find hamburgers (regular beef, or you can
special order turkey or chicken burgers). Pizza is also served from
here at various times of day.
Forward from the pools is the Seaside Cafe, the ships buffet
areas. The Seaside features 4 main buffet lines, then heading aft
from there, about half way toward the stern there is a station used
for freshly prepared omelets for breakfast, and daily choices of
freshly cooked pastas for lunch. At the immediate end of the room
is another buffet which features a theme food buffet, with the
theme changing daily.
Just aft of this buffet, outside on the stern fantail, is my
favorite place on the ship. This area is furnished with large
wooden tables, and cushioned wooden chairs well suited to el fresco
dining. I loved sitting out here in the mornings with a fresh cup
of coffee, as I struggled to gain consciousness, while watching the
ship‘s wake, or looking out at that day‘s port of
Celebrity would do well to put some of this same type of
furnishings surrounding the central swimming pool area, now
furnished by very cheap, plastic looking tables, and chairs that
are as uncomfortable as they look.
Forward on Resort Deck you find the popular Thallasotherapy
Pool, and Spa. The Spa Cafe, which offers light cuisine, and is
really just a walk up window. Moving forward from this area is the
spa and gym, both of which I walked through only to say I had been
Above the Spa, on Deck 11, is where the ship's disco,
Reflections is located. There are great views out the windows of
this horse shoe shaped room, with the windows offering about a 300
degree view. While we were onboard, it was used for a number of
early evening cocktail parties for groups onboard. On this
particular itinerary it was quiet at night, but I could visualize
the joint jumping on a Caribbean sailing.
Deck 11 also has the jogging/walking track of which I made as
little use as possible.
Deck 12, I just wandered once for a tertiary look, there is a
basketball court (which I understand will soon be converted to
Certainly I have missed describing some of the public rooms and
their locations, but I just wanted to give an overview glimpse of
the layout of the ship.
The Cabin We were in a Category 1A on Deck 8, just a bit forward
of mid-ship. While no one would dare call these cabins spacious,
they are well furnished, and well laid out. We had over packed for
14 day cruise, and had no problem finding a place to store
everything, and in fact had empty drawer space left over.
The bathroom is smallish, with the toilet, some under-counter
storage, and a couple of open shelves next to the sink for
toiletries. The shower is a bit larger than standard cruise ship
showers, and have telephonic showerheads, and excellent pressure.
Temperatures remained pretty constant, so we didn't find ourselves
jumping in and out of the shower.
The cabin had a small sitting area, with a small sofa located
next to the balcony door. I prefer this set up to those that have
the bed next to the door. Not as much climbing involved getting to
the balcony. The balconies are pretty tiny, and have two chairs and
a miniature table for furnishings. The dividers separating the
balconies are glass, but not clear, so offer some privacy, but you
can see silhouettes of your neighbors in the evening if the balcony
lights are on in the evening. If you're interested in romantic
interludes on the balcony, keep the lights off, and duct tape over
We did get to tour a Penthouse suite, which was incredible, if
you have an extra $10,000- $20,000 per person, laying around to
splurge. Separate bed room, living room and dining room areas are
spacious and impressive. With Plasma TV's in both the bedroom and
living room areas, a dining table seating 8, and a desk with
computer and internet hook up.
The bathroom features a whirlpool tub located in a bay window
looking out that enormous balcony, and wake of the ship.
The balcony has an abundance of cushioned loungers, wooden
tables, full bar set up, and Jacuzzi for whiling away the hours in
We also toured a handicapped accessible inside cabin. These are
laid out with wider doorways, lower light switches and counters,
and specially equipped showers which one might expect in a
handicapped cabin. It is also equipped for the seeing or hearing
impaired, with such features as Braille numbers on the cabin doors,
and a bed which vibrates for wake up calls for the deaf.
Food In 13 nights onboard I found the food in the San Marcos
Dining Room to be of excellent quality, with a very talented eye
directed to presentation. There was never one item I sent back to
the kitchen that I didn't care for, or that wasn't cooked to the
level of doneness I requested. Since I'm a "meat and potatoes guy",
during the galley tour, I was very interested to learn that the
steaks are cooked a la minute, not flash frozen partially cooked.
All orders are brought to a central section in the galley by the
wait staff, and are then processed and sent to the appropriate chef
stations. This way, the chefs know immediately how many rare,
medium etc. steaks they need total for that dining time, and get to
work cooking them. Quite amazing considering they are serving up to
1100 people at a sitting.
An interesting tidbit here- Waiters are allowed to carry a
maximum of 16 plates (orders) on a tray at one time. Trust me, this
takes a real talent. I tried picking up a tray, and had difficulty
getting it to shoulder height. The Galley is located on Deck 3, and
there are escalators used by the wait staff to get the food to, and
the dishes from, the dining rooms on Decks 4 &5.
The Seaside Cafe is the ship's buffet area. As mentioned
earlier, there are 4 regular buffet lines, the grill area by the
pool, the omelets and pasta stations, and the buffet at the rear
used for them lunches, as well as ice cream/yogurt stations on each
Breakfast buffets were pretty standard fare, though we did
notice plates of lox available daily as well. The Omelets station
prepares omelets to order, or you can choose to go for freshly
cooked eggs done any way you like.
Lunch buffets seemed to have a great deal of variety. The only
shortcoming I noticed was the lack of much variety in leafy
In my opinion the best lunch buffet is served at the immediate
aft of the Cafe, where each lunch is served in theme which changes
For dinners, the Seaside Cafe offers a casual dining alternative
at no extra charge, but reservations are necessary. Tables are set
with linens and cutlery. You get your own appetizers or salads from
the buffet, and then waiters take your orders for entrees. We never
did try the casual alternate dining venue because we enjoyed the
dining room experience much too much.
The Grill area, by the pool offers hamburgers, hot dogs, fries
and condiments, and acts as the pizzeria, during designated pizza
hours. The hamburgers were surprisingly good. They didn't taste as
though they'd been sitting in the steam trays all day, as one might
expect. It's likely they know their peek times of demand here, and
probably have a pretty good idea of numbers of burgers they have to
prepare. Turkey and Chicken burgers are also available here, but
they request about 10 minutes to make these special to order.
One of the major complaints I've heard about Celebrity in the
past is the limited hours of the alternate casual dining, grills
and pizzerias. From what we learned from our Celebrity Cruise Line
hosts onboard… look for this to change, and expand, very
Ocean Liners Restaurant (present surcharge is $25/per person) is
simply a fantastic experience. It's an unusual experience for the
average diner, with exemplary "butterfly service" and a mouth
watering menu. We ate here twice. Once I tried the Veal, the next
time Steak Diane, and I'd happily chose both again.
We never did sample the "lean & light cuisine" offered at
the Spa Cafe, because I'm neither lean nor light so thought they
may decline to serve me.
Service To be sure, we experienced 5 star service on this
cruise! The media group we were traveling with had 4 tables in the
center of the San Marcos Dining Room, and we alternated which
tables we were sitting at each evening, to enable everyone to
socialize more easily. All the tables were serviced by two teams of
servers. Not to be naïve, because of the nature of the group,
I would guess we were served by their top two teams, and the
service was indeed outstanding by both teams!
Quite different from my experience with Celebrity servers of
only a few years ago though, the service was not only exact and
professional, but had an extra touch of friendliness. There was a
seemingly genuine interest in making us feel like guests, rather
than simply passengers.
This same attitude was demonstrated throughout the ship, with
the staff of each department we encountered, from officers, to
cabin stewards, to bar waiters, to cleaning personnel. We also
"felt" this on our May cruise onboard the Summit, so it seems to be
a direction Celebrity in general is trying to direct its staff
As they should be, dinners were a highlight event of the day.
During the entire 13 nights onboard I don't believe we ever left
the dining room before 11 P.M. because we were enjoying ourselves
Entertainment Because are evenings in the dining room ran so
late, and this was a port intensive European itinerary, we saw none
of the shows in the Celebrity Theatre so I apologize, but I can not
comment at all.
The Rendezvous Lounge on the Constellation was jammed each
evening after main seating and prior to late seating. Actually the
first time I have seen this lounge so heavily used on a Millennium
Class ship. The duo performing here presented an enormous variety
of music, that seemed to offer something for everyone. A Cher
impersonation show one night left standing room only in this
Both the Revelations Disco and Michael's Cigar Club were very
underutilized on this sailing.
There were a number of pre dinner (7 P.M) shows held in the
Theatre for those with late seating. This ever expanding trend
seems to negate many of the advantages of booking late seating
dinner. If you're rushing to make a 7 P.M. show, it seems you might
just as well rush to a 6:00 P.M. dinner, and then have the time to
enjoy a leisurely evening on the ship.
The entertainment onboard may already be showing signs of the
upcoming changes in direction Celebrity has announced. There were a
number of enrichment lectures, classical artists appearing in the
theatre, harp music by the Cova Cafe, which aren't typical cruise
fare in my past Celebrity experiences.
There were some thing about the ship's interior design choices
which struck me as odd. My own particular mini gripe was the purple
colored carpeting in many public areas and corridors. It struck me
as an odd color, that in many areas, didn't seem to match the
various colors in wood trim and wall treatments, and
The Rendezvous Lounge and the Champagne/ Martini Bars are of
very similar size and layout (except for the whole in the floor
above to look down at the dance floor of the Rendezvous lounge).
The furnishings in the Champagne and Martini Bars are upholstered
in soothing, relaxing pastels, while the bright , striped
upholstery used in the Rendezvous Lounge were quite startling to
I'm not sure if this is new, or simply something I never noticed
on previous sailings of Millennium Class ships, were the strap
handles on the backs of the chairs in the lounges. These were handy
and certainly made it easier to move the chairs around when trying
to enlarge the space if we were meeting a larger group for
The "New Celebrity"
We attended a number of presentations by representatives from
Celebrity. Perhaps the most interesting was by Deitmar Wertanzel,
the recent new hire as Senior Vice President of Fleet Operations,
who came to Celebrity from Crystal Cruise Lines.
It certainly grabbed my attention when he told us Celebrity
Cruise Line's goal is to reinvent itself. REINVENT…Pretty
strong wording when describing what is "seemingly" a fairly
successful cruise line, with a relatively loyal base of repeat
He described his vision to take Celebrity, who's competition in
the "Premium Cruise Line" category is basically Princess and
Holland America, a step above, closer to the Crystal cruise
experience, while maintaining "premium line pricing".
We heard a lot of slogans they used to describe the " New
Celebrity"… "A Taste of Luxury"… "the Savvy
However it seems the initial thrust of change seems to be in the
areas of improved service, based on a program they called SSS;
Safety, Service, Style. Areas they feel can be addressed via
training, not necessarily dollars. To achieve this goal they'll
eventually be assigning Training Managers to every ship in the
The experiment will begin on the Celebrity Millennium 9/23/02
sailing, and they'll be watching the effects closely, combing
through the Customer Comment Cards to gauge passenger reaction.
Amongst the things passengers should notice immediately on the
- All ships will have Celebrity's Theme song played at sail
away. The theme song- Over the Rainbow. And complimentary champagne
will be served on boarding or during sail away (yet to be
determined) - Michael's Clubs will no longer be Cigar Clubs.
They've chosen to take the sophisticated atmosphere of these
lounges and use them as piano bars, where guests will be able to
relax and have drinks in a more upscale, intimate atmosphere, as
compared to the Rendezvous Bar, or the Martini and Champagne Bars.
- there will be dedicated Pool Attendants, and at least part of
their job will be to actually assist guests with their needs. On
hot sunny days in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and other warm
weather itineraries they will be supplying guests with frosty cool
towels to refresh themselves. - plans are afoot for greatly
expanded spa services, including offering pool side messages, much
less restrictive hours for the Thalassotherapy pools onboard, and
other events poolside such as wine tasting and fashion shows. -
greatly extended hours for the alternative food areas such as the
buffet, pizzeria and burger grill areas. - on a 7 day cruise, on
possibly 3 of the days, midnight buffets will be replaced with
themed poolside lunch buffets. There's still likely to be two
midnight buffets; the Grand Buffet and one other. - the current,
cost additional, alternative restaurants such as the Olympic will
be offering a brunch menu on sea days, and will be used for High
Tea on some afternoons. Initially there will likely be a charge for
brunch, but not for High Tea. - one item that was somewhat
surprising to me is the addition of a topless area of the deck for
sunbathers. - late night comedy shows will be added for the adult
crowd - rather than having the Captain occasionally host guests
during dinner, they will begin having other ship's officers hosting
guests as well, and on a more regular basis. - they will be
creating an extensive onboard lecture series, as well as extended
programs to increase dance lessons, smaller more intimate shore
excursion packages available, cooking classes with the head chef
onboard, etc.- basically trying to expand what's known as their
"enrichment programs". - they are looking at ways to enhance the
services in another category of cabins, below the sky suites. While
at this point they can't change the physical structure of those
cabins, they are looking at a number of new amenities for them.
It will be interesting to see if Celebrity can attain their
goal, basically creating something akin to a new step on the ladder
of cruising. Not quite up to the services of the luxury cruise
lines, but… Premium Plus.. If you will.
You have to give them an A for attempting it, and I'd be happy
to get on any of their ships to be one of the guinea pigs.