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little britain

Review: 2 nights on Constellation

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A very short little cruise from Amsterdam to Southampton, repositioning the ship before her Wine Cruise season. 2 nights long and just 250 miles travelled.

We used BA Avios airmiles to buy our flights to AMS for £13.50. Took off on time at 7:20 and landed in Amsterdam an hour later. By accident we bought 1st class train tickets for €6.50pp for the 15 minute ride into town. Exit the station by platform 15 (or you just follow the boat signs), cross the road to the water, look to your right and you should spot your ship just by the Movenpick Hotel. It is a simple easy 10 minute stroll to Amsterdam Cruise terminal, avoiding the cyclists. Within an hour of landing in Holland we were checking in to leave again. Nothing personal! We were on board by 11am and it looked like we were one of the first to arrive.

Having only taken s-class ships recently we were interested to see what a solsticized m-class ship looked like. Unfortunately she fell a little short of the real thing in our opinion. We found her a bit shabby in places, balustrades desperately needed varnishing, rust on balconies needed painting, bathrooms needed replacing, buttons in the elevators were worn. Strangely our oceanview room smelt of paint be we could not see what could have been painted. Perhaps it was outside. The ship was very clean though and we did like the general layout. Many wasted areas such as Cellar Masters (but hey, that is empty on s-class too).

Seaside cafe was strangely laid out in 2 halves separated by the stairs and elevators. And it had carpet on the floor? Outside seating area was nice, clearly divided into the smokers and non smoking side. Food was good, especially the chateaubriand in the MDR on the 2nd night.

We had bought the drinks package and here we encountered the first issues with service that befell the whole cruise. A waiter approached, ready to take our order, we said we had the package and he walked off. Oh dear. Were we about to experience the service issues ‘because we have the package so they won’t get tipped’ that we had so often read about. It took 3 attempts to get a waiter to serve us. Finished plates lay uncleared on the outside table for 25 minutes. There just seemed to be an apathy about the crew which we had not encountered before, which if it had been a longer cruise would have caused concern.

There was a mandatory inspection by UK passport authorities. We were told that we would have a letter in all cabins advising of the time to go. We did not have one; neither did many others. When we called GR we were told to go at any time. The whole of the Reflections Lounge on 11 was given over to this. A solitary UK passport official gave a cursory glance at the passport and that was it. They were calling for guests by name and room number later that afternoon – so they probably had not got the letter either.... or heard the announcements ....or read the information in the daily sheet.

 

Because it was a 2 night cruise there was general confusion before going about the dress code. The UK office were advising that there was one formal night, but then this changed to Smart casual or Formal optional leading to a mixture of outfits. There was a general party atmosphere on board, and there was a very large group who totally disregarded the dress code and had a fancy dress evening one night which did not fit in with our impression of what Celebrity cruises should be like. They also seemed to take over large areas of the ship, even adorning statues with tee-shirts advertising their group. Classy.

 

Captains Club vouchers were not issued, probably as they would have been pointless (no time to do laundry!) but we did get the $49.99 internet voucher. The Captains Club Elite drinks were held on the 2nd night in Michaels Club, but given that there were apparently 150 Elites on board you could not even get through the door. Remember that the Passport man is sitting in solitary splendour in the vast Reflections lounge perhaps the venues could have been swapped with some forward thinking? Now it usually takes 2-3 days to get the internet package redeemed so this led to issues on the last morning when the value had not been deleted from the account, despite a visit to GR the day before and a call to our room by GR advising it had been done. The interactive TV did not work for the cruise so we could not check via our TVs.

I wonder why Captains Club cannot introduce guest ‘Preferences’ selection like RCI have done for their Diamond and D+ members where you can go on line and pick the gift you want. It would be so much easier and you could pick that you wanted the Internet voucher as your gift and your account could be preloaded with $49.99 in OBC before you board to save all this kerfuffle. Perhaps we should forward that as an idea to Michael Bayley ( but as we in the UK did not get his email but that is another issue!).

 

Having just re-read this it does sound a bit negative. We do not mean it to be but I think after so many wonderful cruises on the s-class ships, with great service this cruise just fell a little short. However the weather was wonderful, considering we were in the middle of the English Channel, we travelled with some great friends, and we even got to experience Perry Grant......who was frankly average –but I did only stay 4 minutes before bailing out to the better offer that was the Martini Bar!

Edited by little britain

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We loved the Connie back in 2007 but that was 5 years ago. I understand she will get another drydock to add Aqua sometime in 2013-maybe some of your complaints will be corrected- but then again-there is only so much that can be done for an older ship to refurbish it-which is why cruiselines come out with new ships every year or two.

 

Unlike you I was not impressed with S class- although I enjoyed my cruise well enough. I like the Connie much better-but then she did not look run down when I was on her. I would like to see celebrity come out with some new ships like the Connie instead of them to keep bringing out S class. What is there now 4or 5 S class?

 

We are going back on the Connie for a short 4 day cruise in January. I was wondering does she have the Bistro on Five or any other pay extra restaurant beside Oceanliners now?

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We loved the Connie back in 2007 but that was 5 years ago. I understand she will get another drydock to add Aqua sometime in 2013-maybe some of your complaints will be corrected- but then again-there is only so much that can be done for an older ship to refurbish it-which is why cruiselines come out with new ships every year or two.

 

Unlike you I was not impressed with S class- although I enjoyed my cruise well enough. I like the Connie much better-but then she did not look run down when I was on her. I would like to see celebrity come out with some new ships like the Connie instead of them to keep bringing out S class. What is there now 4or 5 S class?

 

We are going back on the Connie for a short 4 day cruise in January. I was wondering does she have the Bistro on Five or any other pay extra restaurant beside Oceanliners now?

 

Connie has a Bistro on 5 and Tuscan Grille.

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Constellation has Tuscan - very good and Bistro on 5 which we did not manage to visit. We were on ths same two day cruise and it was a great trip but I think Little Britain has hit the nail on the head about the lapses.

Our butler told us a large group of staff had left the ship that morning to move over to Reflection and I think that showed. The new teams were not quite right, wine service on night 2 was so slow in particular.

I would agree the "antics" of the large group onboard did impact on the ambience and it was not what we expect from Celebrity

I also think the fact the staff knew there would be no feedback forms showed (even though the hopelessly inaccurate Celebrity Today said their would).

And I agree the final accounts was a debacle - annoying to have an obviously fake excuse about issues with the Internet being the reason we could not keep track via the Interactive unit. We did get a final account (not) it was delivered late afternoon on the day before disembarkation and was made up to 11 am, as much use as a chocolate teapot!

 

If I had never cruised, I might have been impressed, it was less easy as a frequent cruiser. Luckily we went with a great group of friends so had an enjoyable time!

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Connie has a Bistro on 5 and Tuscan Grille.

 

Good I understood no Tuscan Grille-but maybe it was Asian. The Bistro on Five we liked quite well too-it is good for lunch especially.

 

We did use them for dinner one night while on our cruise this summer thinking it would be quicker than the dining room as we were tired from a long day in port-but we found it is still served in several courses and so it takes over an hour.

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I am not an X cheer leader as we have yet to try it but I find a review of any 2 day cruise very unfair. Of course you'll get groups that could little afford a longer cruise and staff changes between longer cruises would also be expected. Staff also would not go out of it's way for folks who they may only see for a day or two as opposed to someone on a 7-14 day one.As much as things should be the same for everyone on any cruise ship they don't seem to be.

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Little Britain and uktog: Thanks for the reviews... sad that this ship could provide a negative experience.

 

A two day cruise may lead to misconceptions but then the cruiseline knows it had to show its best side in order to entice people to come back for a longer trip.

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Little Britain and uktog

 

Your slightly deflated reviews seem to echo excitedofharpenden. It is such a shame as we had such a wonderful time on both our Constellation cruises. We found her a beautiful ship both before and after her Solsticisation. It seems that you experienced her on a few "off-days". I know that it is hard, we have had a few less than perfect cruises ourselves, but please do not let that influence your choice in future.

 

Sue

 

PS You always have a soft spot for your first ship!

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I wouldn't say my review was deflated. I really enjoyed Constellation and didn't notice the same service issues as the OP, but then I didn't have the drinks package so maybe that made a difference. My one point of concern was some of the external areas which looked a bit tatty. I've been on Connie five times, most recently last March and it wasn't like that. I also remember her as the Celebrity flagship of the fleet not that along ago. Sad she's now the least up to date of the M-Class, off for further alterations and to take a pounding on those short Caribbean trips.

 

Phil

Edited by excitedofharpenden

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Sorry you had these issues little britain. It puts me right off these short cruises. I really don't understand this part:

 

'We had bought the drinks package and here we encountered the first issues with service that befell the whole cruise. A waiter approached, ready to take our order, we said we had the package and he walked off. Oh dear. Were we about to experience the service issues ‘because we have the package so they won’t get tipped’ that we had so often read about. It took 3 attempts to get a waiter to serve us.'

 

There is no need to tell a waiter that you have the package - just give them your drinks order and hand the card when the drinks are delivered as you would without the package. The only issue would be if you ordered something that wasn't covered by your package and you would have to sign for that.

 

As for bar staff not receiving gratuities for drinks packages, as far as I know, they get the 15% everytime they put a drink through the computer, which is why they are so eager to replenish your drinks. I'm sure someone will correct me if this is wrong. :)

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I was on this cruise, the issue was when starting an order the server asked for your card and yes some did say ah, I will be back and were not, particularly at the Aft bar. Later on, you could see particularly one sommelier not being keen to make eye contact and come to deliver top ups, they had previously served us so knew we were on a package ( we therefore also made assumptions the package was an issue for them)

Edited by uktog

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There is no need to tell a waiter that you have the package - just give them your drinks order and hand the card when the drinks are delivered as you would without the package. The only issue would be if you ordered something that wasn't covered by your package and you would have to sign for that.

 

My experience has been they ask for your card upfront most of the time. They take it with them to ring the drinks up and then bring it back. Regardless, by the second drink they know if you are on a package or not!

 

Phil

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I was on this cruise, the issue was when starting an order the server asked for your card and yes some did say ah, I will be back and were not, particularly at the Aft bar. Later on, you could see particularly one sommelier not being keen to make eye contact and come to deliver top ups, they had previously served us so knew we were on a package ( we therefore also made assumptions the package was an issue for them)

 

Very strange and I too would be very annoyed about that!

Do you think that more people take the package on the short cruise so they have to hold back a bit with the drinks or be out of pocket?

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My experience has been they ask for your card upfront most of the time. They take it with them to ring the drinks up and then bring it back. Regardless, by the second drink they know if you are on a package or not!

 

Phil

 

Ah thanks Phil. Yes, I believe it happened that way with us too, drinks package or not; that they took the card with them when taking the order, sorry.

Either way, it shouldn't make any difference should it?

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I was on this cruise, the issue was when starting an order the server asked for your card and yes some did say ah, I will be back and were not, particularly at the Aft bar. Later on, you could see particularly one sommelier not being keen to make eye contact and come to deliver top ups, they had previously served us so knew we were on a package ( we therefore also made assumptions the package was an issue for them)

 

Did you report him? That is what you do you know-do not feel bad about doing that-they know the rules and this is not acceptable to Celebrity for their employees. I have no problem reporting a lax or surly crew member-and on the flip side I also will do those cards to recommend a crew member that I felt went out of their way to help

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I wouldn't say my review was deflated. I really enjoyed Constellation and didn't notice the same service issues as the OP, but then I didn't have the drinks package so maybe that made a difference. My one point of concern was some of the external areas which looked a bit tatty. I've been on Connie five times, most recently last March and it wasn't like that. I also remember her as the Celebrity flagship of the fleet not that along ago. Sad she's now the least up to date of the M-Class, off for further alterations and to take a pounding on those short Caribbean trips.

 

Phil

 

Phil

 

Apologies, I obviously was mistaken on the tone I picked up from you review. Perhaps I am feeling a little too defensive about Connie!

 

Sue

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Did you report him? That is what you do you know-do not feel bad about doing that-they know the rules and this is not acceptable to Celebrity for their employees. I have no problem reporting a lax or surly crew member-and on the flip side I also will do those cards to recommend a crew member that I felt went out of their way to help

 

I did not report the crew member, it was a two night cruise, life was too short for that. There were also no feedback forms in use on that cruise, which I said earlier may have contributed to one or two of the issues. Also I think the large group on board were causing issues that impacted on service, for example wait staff on the aft bar could not easily get to other guests because of the way the deck furniture had been "re arranged" to accommodate a group get together ( not organised by the ship)

 

It was still a very enjoyable cruise, just not what I normally see from Celebrity in terms of all aspects of the service or onboard ambience

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Captains Club vouchers were not issued, probably as they would have been pointless (no time to do laundry!) but we did get the $49.99 internet voucher.

 

We went to the see the Captain's Club host re the message in the Newsletter about Captain's Club vouchers. He said he had asked for the message in the newsletter to be taken out, but it wasn't. I must admit that I was happy with his explanation that they couldn't issue vouchers for a 2 day cruise until I went into the i-lounge to print off my boarding pass for our flight back from Southampton.

I was so cross that I was charged the top rate of $0.75 per minute for a very slow service.

I knew I shouldn't opt for a package, as I wouldn't use the minutes up. Still being 'Select' at that stage, I had no vouchers to deduct from a package if I had selected one.

 

Question, if free internet minutes were given to 'Elite' members, why was NOTHING given to Select members.

I have sent this comment to Miami,as we had no questionaire in our cabin.

I imagine a large number of the office staff have been sent to Reflection - we were given 2 final bills during the Thursday afternoon- ours & the next door cabin's.

If I get a reply from Miami I will let you know.

 

However, I think I will be told, 'well you are now Elite, so in future you will be rewarded with the benefits.'

 

All the above aside, I still want to go on another cruise before our Oct 2013 one on Infinity, but it won't be another short one thats for certain!

 

Some photos of our 2 days here:

 

http://travel.webshots.com/album/583374162PEwYhc

Edited by upwarduk
adding photo link

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I was on this cruise, the issue was when starting an order the server asked for your card and yes some did say ah, I will be back and were not, particularly at the Aft bar. Later on, you could see particularly one sommelier not being keen to make eye contact and come to deliver top ups, they had previously served us so knew we were on a package ( we therefore also made assumptions the package was an issue for them)

Firstly let me say I have never purchased a drinks package. At least not one for alcohol, only soft drinks etc. We cruised earlier this year on the Eq with another 2 couples who both bought the premium package. They both noticed exactly this same problem. Waiters who seemed reluctant to serve them. They got round it by adding an extra tip in cash, I know this is true as I saw it on several occassions. Two different bartenders told them that they do not get the full 15% tip if you use a package. I have no idea if this was fact or fiction.

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I knew I shouldn't opt for a package, as I wouldn't use the minutes up. Still being 'Select' at that stage, I had no vouchers to deduct from a package if I had selected one.

 

Question, if free internet minutes were given to 'Elite' members, why was NOTHING given to Select members.

I think you have answered your own question. Select offers a benefit of 25% off certain packages, but if you aren't going to fully use the package then there's no point in buying it. What was your final internet bill?

 

Phil

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What was your final internet bill?

 

Not much, €6.75 for 9 mins.

Not much I know, just the principal, that 'Select' were given NOTHING!

 

I was determined to print our boarding pass, but my hands were tied really, I couldn't do it until 30 hrs before hand ( Flybe) so had to rely on the ship internet.

We went to Amsterdam on Easyjet- you can print your outward & return Boarding passes 30 days before.

 

But I was so glad that I had done them; I heard a passenger on the phone, warning a friend that if he hadn't done his, it would cost him £60- not sure which airline. He maintained he was within time, his computer told him he was 1 min outside!

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Not much, €6.75 for 9 mins.

Not much I know, just the principal, that 'Select' were given NOTHING!

 

I was determined to print our boarding pass, but my hands were tied really, I couldn't do it until 30 hrs before hand ( Flybe) so had to rely on the ship internet.

We went to Amsterdam on Easyjet- you can print your outward & return Boarding passes 30 days before.

 

But I was so glad that I had done them; I heard a passenger on the phone, warning a friend that if he hadn't done his, it would cost him £60- not sure which airline. He maintained he was within time, his computer told him he was 1 min outside!

If it makes you feel better the internet minutes were all that was given to Elites, but on a short cruise like this I understood why. I flew out easyjet, but just came home on the train. I'm flying out and back with them to Barcelona next month for a cruise and have printed off both boarding passes. One less thing to think about.

 

Phil

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I did not report the crew member, it was a two night cruise, life was too short for that. There were also no feedback forms in use on that cruise, which I said earlier may have contributed to one or two of the issues. Also I think the large group on board were causing issues that impacted on service, for example wait staff on the aft bar could not easily get to other guests because of the way the deck furniture had been "re arranged" to accommodate a group get together ( not organised by the ship)

 

It was still a very enjoyable cruise, just not what I normally see from Celebrity in terms of all aspects of the service or onboard ambience

 

Those forums you fill out at the end of the cruise. If I was treated badly/unprofessionally I would not wait until the end of the cruise, I would call guest services. After all whether he or she got an extra tip from you they would get a tip from the group fund- there are tips you pay on those packages and you also tip a certain amount per day.

 

Perhaps as you say the cruise was too short for you to worry about that-yet you still felt the need to post this here? That does not make sense to me-as obviously it bothered you quite a bit if you felt the need to post it here.

 

BTW-OT-but whenever we get those packages and we frequent a particular lounge or the coffee shop- we usually have the same server often and so-toward the end of the cruise we will tip that person extra. I know we are not the only people that do that and yes most PAX do that even on short cruises, just not as much as you would on longer cruises.

 

So that waiter needs to get his act together for that reason also-he is hurting himself in the long run-which would be another good reason to report him-yes he would not like the strike against his record, but he would do better and benefit in the long run.

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