After my first sea-cruise experience on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl, cruising in the Caribbean from Miami I wanted to cruise again. After 4 long years this year I could embark on a new sea voyage, this time in the eastern Mediterranean Sea from Venice on Celebrity Cruises beautiful Celebrity Constellation. Our Route would take us from Venice to Dubrovnik, Mykonos, Piraeus (for Athens), Santorini and Katakolon (for Olympia). I always wanted to visit Venice and was struck by how much bigger and beautiful it was then I imagined beforehand, combined with the rest of the stops on the route I enjoyed some of the best sights and sceneries to be found in the eastern Mediterranean.
As we departed from Venice we took the people mover service from Piazzale Roma towards the passenger port after which we had a short walk across to “terminal” 107 where our ship as the only cruise ship in the port was docked. First we had to drop off our bags at the entry of the building to be taken to our stateroom by the crew, before heading up to the upper level where we had to check-in, receive our sea-pass cards (these cards are used as an identity card to check who gets off and on the ship at each port as well as your room-key and your payment card for any on board purchases you make) and go through security before boarding the ship.
Upon boarding we were immediately greeted by the on-board staff by a welcoming drink of sparkling wine to set off the holiday mood. We were allowed to board the ship as of 11:00 but our cabins would not be available until 13:00 so we spent our time exploring the ship and having some lunch.
The Celebrity Constellation is part of the Millenium class of cruise-ships owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. She was built in 2001 by Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France. The ship is powered by a COGAS power plant of gas turbines and a steam turbine providing up to 60 megawatts for the electric systems and two 19 MW Rolls-Royce/Alstom MerMaid azimuth thrusters for propulsion. In 2007, an additional diesel engine was fitted as a fuel-saving measure. The ship can run on any combination of the gas turbines or diesel. In port, she generates electrical power from the diesel. The ship was put into dry-dock in 2013 for a major make-over to put it in line with the new Solstice Class ships coming online at the time. In early 2018 she received another dry-dock cure with some minor refurbishments. It can carry around 2100 guests and 950 crew, so it is a true floating city.
On my previous cruise I had booked an interior room, to save costs, but this time we opted for a slightly more expensive sea-view room as that would give us a complimentary beverage package. I was actually quite pleased with the room as it was sufficiently spacious for the 9 day trip we would have, with plenty of storage space and both a desk and a sofa near the window. I really appreciated the window in the morning as the little bit of light pouring in gave us an idea when the sun rose and the morning view of a new port was just outside the window. When entering the room the bed was made up as a double bed, but after a request at guest services this was swiftly changed into 2 separate beds.
The TV is one of the most important features in the room, while the programming offered on the satellite channels and the ships own channels wasn’t that amazing, it did always provide a view from the bridge and a GPS map to see where you were. However the most useful function of the TV was to check your spending, as a detailed overview of everything you paid with your Seapass was available on the screen. This is especially important to keep track of your expenses on a cruise as in general only food in the main restaurants and water, some soft drinks, tea and basic coffee I included in the basic fare, the rest is to be paid by consumption, only when you pay for a beverage pack you also get a number of other drinks “included” in the price.
The bathroom was a very basic and small affair, with a sink, a toilet and a small shower, sufficient towels and toiletries where provided.
Public Spaces and Facilities
Most of the facilities and public areas can be found on decks 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11. All decks are connected by 3 staircases and elevator banks, with only the front and middle stairs and elevators going from 1 to 11 and the rear from 2 to 11. The middle elevators are made of glass, giving a panoramic view over the sea when travelling up and down.
Level 1 is used for embarkation and debarkation in most ports, with fully equipped security areas to prevent people from bringing dangerous items on board. Here you can also find the medical facility where you can get medical advice from trained doctors and nurses.
Level 3 midship is where you can find the desk of Guest Relations where they can help you with any inquiries or problems you might have on board as well as the shore excursions desk where you can book your excursions organised by the cruise company. Towards the rear of the ship you have the conference rooms as well as the Qsine restaurant, a specialty restaurant with a cover charge (meaning you have to pay extra to eat here) serving more exclusive meals in the evening with a view into the kitchen where they are prepared in front of your eyes.
Level 4 has 2 promenade decks at each side of the ship, where you can have a walk and inhale the fresh sea-air. In the rear you have the main floor of the San Marco restaurant, which is the main restaurant and complimentary for everyone, offering at table service with a menu that changes daily. You can have both breakfast and dinner here every day and lunch on sea days. We have some very fond memories of the excellent food served here as well as the very friendly and professional staff working here (for example knowing I prefer a pineapple juice in the morning and bringing this spontaneously as well as remembering our preferences for coffee and tea after the meal without having to ask). The seating at level 4 is for guests using the “celebrity select” dining option, meaning you can just turn up and wait to be seated when you want during the opening hours of the restaurant.
In a corner next to the main restaurant you have luminae, a specialty restaurant for Suite Class passengers only.
In Front of both restaurants you have the Rendezvous Lounge, this space has a bar service opening in the afternoon and is often used for concerts, auctions, celebrity life activities and as a gathering point.
At Midship, around the show staircase down towards level 3 you have the Martini Bar / Crush, a bar serving drinks with an iced table top.
Further towards the front you have Fortunes, the obligatory casino on a cruise ship, this is only operational when travelling in international waters.
The next room is The photo gallery where you can look at the pictures taken by the on board photographers and decide whether you want to have them or not.
And last but not least you have the main floor of the Celebrity Theatre, where every night a show is performed to entertain the guests and during the day a number of talks and presentation as well as being the meeting point for the start of a lot of shore excursions.
Level 5 has the upper level of the San Marco Restaurant, dedicated to people preferring to dine according to the traditional fixed dinner seating, with an assigned dining time and always the same people around the table.
Next door is Blu, this is the restaurant for aquaclass guests, serving an alternative, more “healthy” cuisine.
Towards the middle you have Sushi on Five, the made to order sushi bar, where you have to pay separately for your items of sushi.
Right next door is Cellar masters, the wine bar.
Around the upper level of the midship atrium you have the specialty coffee bar “Al Bacio”, serving specialty coffees (to be paid extra) and an offer of delicious (complimentary) pastries, at the other side you have the Gelateria, serving freshly made Italian style ice cream (of course a supplement has to be paid).
Between the atrium and the front of the ship you can find the ship’s shopping centre and art gallery and in the front you have the balcony level of the Celebrity theatre.
At levels 8 and 9 you can find the ships library and computer room connected by an internal stair, right next to the glass midship elevators.
Level 10 has the Oceanview bar at the rear, this is an open-air bar open almost all day offering seating with a view towards the se passing by.
Right behind is The Oceanview café, the main buffet restaurant, offering food options throughout the day. Even though the buffet offering is enormous, with lots of options, the offering stayed mostly the same throughout the entire trip becoming somewhat boring. Even though the food on offer was good, you could clearly see that it was of an inferior quality to that of the main restaurant.
The middle of the ship is filled with the open-air pool deck, here you can find a big swimming pool as well as a smaller pool for the kids and 4 open air whirlpools. The pool area is surrounded by sun loungers and pool towels can be picked up from towel stations scattered around the deck. There is also a corner with a table tennis table and a smoker’s corner. During the day there is also a bar serving all sorts of drinks and a grill area serving freshly made burgers and hot-dogs.
Towards the front you have the Solarium, consisting of an adults-only pool and 2 whirlpools under a glass dome, with some more comfortable loungers scattered around. There is also the Spa Café serving “healthy” food for breakfast and lunch.
The Front is occupied by the fitness and spa club of the ship, offering a range of beauty treatments and massages at extra-cost.
Deck 11 is partly open to deck 10 below, providing light and air to the pool areas below, and has a jogging track around to keep fit. On Deck 11 you can also find the Tuscan Grille, a speciality restaurant with a cover charge, offering a Mediterranean inspired kitchen.
At the front you have the Reflections lounge, with a beautiful view over the bow of the ship, offering a bar service during the evening, with live entertainment and music until late. Next door you can find the children’s and teenage clubs, where parents can drop off their offspring to be entertained.
Deck 12 is only a small part at the rear of the ship, with a basketball court and an area with lounge seating where they also project some movies throughout the day.
Behind the scenes
During my cruise I was lucky enough to partake in a behind the scenes tour, showing how the ship is run and what goes on down the bottom of the ship. At the lower levels you can find the extremely clean kitchens where everything from bread over vegetables and roasts to ice-cream is freshly prepared on board by cooks working round the clock in different shifts.
The vast amount of food items stored in a relatively small space below is equally impressive, the sheer amount of items needed to keep the floating fed and watered is enormous.
And when visiting the laundry department with its huge washing machines I was mostly jealous of the machine the irons and folds items automatically.
Visiting both the engine room and the Bridge finally gave an idea of what comes to play to keep a huge ship like this working and steering it without passengers noticing anything of it.
I was very happy with my cruise with Celebrity and will definably make another cruise in the future, preferably to an even more exotic destination.