First time on Celebrity
This was our first cruise on Celebrity for my wife and myself and we had heard excellent reports about this company. We sailed on Constellation from Singapore to Abu Dhabi via Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Oman. The itinerary was very good, covering some places we had been to many years before and lots of new ones. Every destination had places of interest worth seeing. My only comment would be that I cannot see the point of the last night sailing from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, having to leave the ship at 8am and be transported back to Dubai to fly home. No time to see Abu Dhabi. We have cruised many times both ocean and river and I have to say that the crew on Celebrity were the best on an ocean cruise we have experienced. I would mention the Reception Team, nothing could be too much trouble and they were always smiley and happy as opposed to P&O where Reception is normally all gloom and doom. Both boarding and disembarkation were very well organised. We ate at the first sitting, table 503 with a super view out across the stern. we were on a mixed table for 8. We had 6 absolutely amazing companions, all extremely interesting and well travelled, we could not have asked for better. All three waiters were absolutely first class, probably the best we have experienced at sea. The food was excellent and our Head Waiters recommendations were always superb, accurate and sometimes amusingly blunt............... especially "don't have the ??? ................ which always raised a laugh. Constellation is not a new ship, it is programmed for a major refurb in the near future. I would compare it to Oceania with P&O, like a worn but well fitting pair of shoes, a bit of a cosy favourite. Yes it needs some work but it was being maintained and it was always spotlessly clean. Personally I did not like the design whereby the shops were internal rather than around the atrium but that is personal taste and nothing more. Entertainment was mixed. The problem being the show times. 7.30pm is too early for the first sitting and 9.30 too late. Hence we missed many shows or arrived late. The quality was typical cruising entertainment so average. However, I did miss the P&O style where there are two entertainment venues operating simultaneously. Daily entertainment on deck was excellent and as usual the staff were first rate. Now lets cover the contentious bits. I believe staff should be paid properly and not depend on tips. The concept of going "the extra mile" is rubbish. I have found on every cruise we have done that service is always of a high standard and much better than hotel holidays. I would much prefer that cruise lines charged appropriate fares to pay fair wages. We cruise regularly with APT and Scenic where tips are in the fare so it can be done. $14.50 a day is not gratuities its wages! Put in on the fare! $14.50 a day is over $450k for a 15 night cruise or $415 per member of the crew or $28 a day. Thats wages not "the extra mile". The second contentious point has to be the drinks prices. Once again I do not mind paying a fair price but $10 for a bottle of Stella + 20% tip is $12 compared to a shop price in the UK of 50p! Even with a mark up of 1000% that allows for a further 90% profit. Surprisingly. Corona, a much more expensive in the UK is cheaper on board! Very nice. I do find a compulsory service charge of 20% to be ridiculous for passing a customer a bottle of beer with the top off! Especially when that barman should be receiving $415 a cruise in tips already! Before you say buy a drinks package, we did! Just making the point about stupid prices. Rant over! I think the itinerary and excursions deserve comment. We booked excursions in most ports of call except Dubai as we were new to many ports and dis not know the area. I would say the trips we did were excellent. Its hard to judge value as some seemed expensive and some cheap but they were all good and no complaints. We had a trip in Mumbai cancelled so hired a taxi. The point I would make is that all ports seemed exceptionally safe and in future I would book our trips independently in these ports. Celebrity:- Conclusion If Constellation is representative of Celebrity service then the reputation the company has is well deserved. The ship is like Oceania in the P&O fleet, very welcoming and homely. I would certainly travel with Celebrity again and on Constellation. If the timings of the evening shows was addressed say 7pm and 9pm the cruise would have been near perfect. Certainly the best staff we have experienced at sea. With a little thought and management this could really be an Excellent ship, its already well above average in our opinion. We had a brilliant cruise!
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