November 2013 - Celebrity Constellation to Transatlantic
In November 2013 we sailed the Celebrity Constellation on a transatlantic crossing from Rome to Fort Lauderdale with stops in Livorno (Florence), Cartagena, Morocco, and the Canary Islands. We were booked in a Royal Suite which provided a bedroom with access to the balcony and hot tub there, a sizeable living room and a small dining and bar area that could accommodate four for dining. Unfortunately, the condition of the dining table was terrible with major stains and blemishes. We asked to have it covered. (We entertained in our suite several times). This was our first cruise on Celebrity. Having sailed previously several times on Seabourn and having made a similar transatlantic crossing the previous year on the Seabourn Quest our expectations for the Constellation were somewhat lower than what we have experienced on Seabourn. We were very pleasantly surprised to find the service on the Constellation to be excellent and the crew to be cheerful, helpful, and eager to please. We were especially impressed with our butler Cipirian Priscasiu whose service was superb. Upon our arrival he was asked how difficult it would be to prepare a complicated morning protein shake of eggs, peanut butter, ice cream, and ice (one of us is a competitive athlete on a high calorie diet) and without a moments hesitation he said, “At what time each morning would you like me to bring this to you?” The shake together with our breakfast was delivered every morning at 8:30. While Chip did an outstanding job taking care of us we were also very pleased with the service staff both in our stateroom (Moreno) but also in the dining rooms and at the bars. We were accustomed to the excellent service we have experienced on board our Seabourn cruises but we agreed that the service on the Constellation was comparable to the care we have experienced on Seabourn. Particularly outstanding were Onur, Sheyla, Slojana, Iputu, and of course Marco whose spectacular bartending displays were always exciting. Because of the special service we received we elected not to utilize the prepaid gratuities options, offering some cash tips during the cruise and the giving each of the crew members who impressed us cash expressions of our appreciation on the day before our departure.
We are without apologies both athletes AND foodies. We were not unhappy with the food on board the Constellation but here is where the comparison with Seabourn did not match up. We ate in all of the specialty restaurants and we found the cuisine and creativeness in Blu to be the best dining experience on the ship. We found the availability of fresh seafood to be limited and the wine list somewhat lack luster. Although we had been told to prepare for this, we found the need to carry and flash our “drink card” continuously somewhat annoying. We had purchased a premium liquor package ($1000+ per person) prior to sailing but we missed the all-inclusiveness of Seabourn and the ease with which you could go from venue to venue without having to go through the drill of pulling out your card and signing chits.
The cruise director, JC did an excellent job. Most interesting to us were his successful efforts to include passengers in the performances. Near the end of the cruise, a large chorus of passengers who had rehearsed together during the course of the cruise performed to a full theatre. They in addition to several passenger/singers (thank you Taina Plagmann in particular) received a standing ovation from the entire theatre.
Finally, as we saw him often among and interacting with the passengers it became apparent that much of the high morale among the staff came from the exuberant and affable captain Tasos Kafetzis. It was clear he had the respect of his crew and they admired his leadership.
Based on our very unexpectedly very pleasant cruise on Celebrity Constellation we have booked a short Caribbean cruise for next month on the Constellation and another long cruise through the Panama Canal on the Celebrity Infinity for later this year.