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Arabian Sea & Suez Canal Cruise on the Celebrity Constellation

4/22/18 to 5/7/18

Embarkation

After a leisurely breakfast, we waited in the room until it was time for us to go to the lobby for our EA Tours transfer to the ship.  We scheduled an early 10:00 AM pickup, since we preferred waiting at the terminal to waiting in the hotel room.  Since the Zayed Port is so close to downtown, we could have saved some money by taking a cab; but the Toyota Previa provided more room for us than a standard cab.  We were at the terminal in less than 15 minutes.  It is a large open building.  Since we were early, there was no line at check-in.   We did have to turn in our passports once we completed check-in.  They gave us a copy and we were told the passports would be returned after we left Jordan.  There were lots of shops in the terminal to check out while waiting to board.  It was a quick easy process.  The way it is supposed to be.

 

Ship

I normally don’t mention the Hotel Director on a ship, but this time we had a rock star.  Andrea from Germany was just amazing. I have never seen a Hotel Director who was involved in everything happening on the ship.  She was always present wherever we went and normally talking with passengers to see how they were enjoying the cruise.  Whatever activities were happening, she was there, even at the dock when we were leaving the ship.  And she always had a pleasant smile and was truly happy to see the passengers. 

Since we did a complete review of the Constellation public areas for our October 2016 Holy Land cruise, I am not going to include it again for this review, since minimal changes have been made to the ship.  If you want to see what the ship looks like, you can click LINK to go to the Holy Land review page.  I am making comments and including photos of changes below.

Rooftop Terrace – This area on deck 12 was previously just a sun deck.  A large movie screen along with chairs and loungers have been added.  It is quite a nice-looking area.  The downside to where it is, is that there is no elevator access to it, so anyone wanting to watch a movie there, had to climb one of the long staircases to get there.

   

   

Qsine – This restaurant is located on deck 3 in the space previously occupied by Ocean Liners.  We enjoyed Qsine on a couple of previous cruises; but have no desire to go back, since it is more of an appetizer type dinner.  Ocean Liners, on the other hand, was a French style restaurant that we have enjoyed going to and would happily have gone to on each cruise.   

   

   

I thought that it was strange how they partially covered up the artwork on one wall with gray paint. 

Future Cruises – A nice area on deck 5 has been set up for passengers to find out about and book future cruises.  It was previously in a very small area shared with the Captain’s Club.

The Emporium – I really liked how this shopping area on deck 5 was redone.  It is much more attractive, as well as more open and easier for shoppers to look at the merchandise.

   

Cabin

When we booked this cruise while on last year’s Alaska cruise, we wanted to be in a Concierge cabin, since they are larger on this class ship than the standard veranda cabins.  They are 191 sq. ft. or 12.3% bigger than the standard 170 sq. ft. cabins.  On the S Class ships, both classes are 194 sq. ft., so Concierge Class isn’t as important on those ships.  A month after we booked the cruise, the prices dropped considerably, where it was cheaper for us to have an Aqua cabin.  Since we enjoyed Aqua on our first experience in 2016, we were thrilled and booked cabin 1111.  I really liked the location on deck 11, since we were close to the rear elevator and just above the buffet and sundeck/pool area.  Another real plus was that there was an open hallway and a sitting area just outside our room where we could keep Carol’s TravelScoot.  I booked this cabin specifically since with the bed by the door, storing Carol’s TravelScoot in the room would have been a big issue.

   

The one down side to this cabin was that we would get phone calls from crew members at various times during the day.  When I answered the call, I could hear people in the background, but no one was on the line.  Since it showed what extension was calling, I would call them back.  They said they didn’t call me, so it must have been regular butt dials since the number was 1111.  I have read that on some cruises, kids will also dial that number.  On occasion, we did just unplug the phone to make sure we weren’t disturbed.

The room was very comfortable, and it was nice to have the large couch. 

Our two large suitcases fit under the bed with no problem.  The desk had two US and two European electric outlets.  We usually bring European adapter plugs to double the capacity if needed. 

The bathroom is a nice size with adequate storage.  The shower is quite nice and relatively large for a cruise ship.  Aqua Class showers have the Hansgrohe shower panel, which provides different nozzles to spray different parts of your body.  It is a cute feature, but I just used the main head since when you turn on the other heads the cold water sprays out of them until it warms up.  

   

The balcony itself was quite comfortable with footstools for both loungers and is only partially covered.  The view to the water was unobstructed.

   

Our room attendant was Revin from Mauritius.  He was on the ball and normally had our room done quickly while we weren’t there.

One thing that I really liked about the cabin was the new door lock system.  We just had to put the key card up to the door for it to unlock.  Much better than having to insert the card.

 

Dining ( Link to Menus )

We ate in Blu every evening and for breakfast a few times.  It is such a pleasure to eat there.  It is a smaller quieter room with more personal attention than we normally receive in the main dining room.  We really enjoyed several of the team so much, including Restaurant Hostess Hazzel, Assistant Waiter Yuliia and bar server Bade. 

        Hazzel                                                 Yuliia                                                     Bade

 

Entertainment

Cruise Director Rich Cleeson did a very nice job of providing the right amount of information before and after the shows, without overdoing it.  He did seem to be all over the ship and constantly engaged with passengers.  He has a very pleasant personality and really seems to enjoy what he does.

   

Performers - There were 13 separate individual acts during the 15 day cruise.  They had a pretty good mix of quality performances, with the majority being singers.  I do wish that they had more comedians; but that is just my personal preference.

Bayne Bacon – Bayne is a comedian and musician.  As I am writing this, I don’t remember his singing at all; since his comedy was quite unique and enjoyable.  As I go back through the photos of his performance, I see that he was playing the piano and guitar; but don’t recall if he was good at it.  It must have been OK, or I would have remembered that.  His comedy though was very funny.  He told his jokes very slowly and his timing with pauses worked quite well.  I always enjoy seeing comedians that have original material and a unique style.  I would happily go to another one of his shows.

   

Bernadett Nyari – She is an outstanding violinist!  The audience just loved her music selection and her energy as she moved around the stage entertaining us.  She played many very lively songs that were so enjoyable; but they did wear on her.  When she would finish playing some of them, she would stop to tell us about her next piece.  It was difficult for her to catch her breath since she was so active during her performance.  She did a great job!

    

Matthew McGurk and Katia – Matthew is an outstanding magician.  He has won many awards in Great Britain starting when he was just 16 years old.  He is a slight of hand artist, so his entire show was devoted to card tricks.  The tricks were displayed on the large screen behind him, so that everyone could see what he was doing.  He is quite amazing, although I have seen some of his tricks previously on TV shows like Americas Got Talent.  His wife, Katia, is an aerial performer.  She spent a few minutes on the long pieces of aerial silk cloth showing her skill.  It was a nice break in the magic show.   Later in the cruise Matthew did an afternoon show, displaying how he does some of his tricks.  It was interesting and appreciated.

   

Gordon Daniels – Gordon is one of the singers that performs around the ship during the evening.  They allowed him to put on his own show one night.  He is a good performer and very comfortable on stage.  We just didn’t like his voice or how he made most of his music into a reggae sound.  I like reggae; but when he put Radio Head’s song Creep into reggae, it was just too much for me.  It was the worst show of the cruise in my opinion.

   

Gary Walker -  He is a Stevie Wonder impersonator.  He does look a lot like him and does his moves.  He also sounded similar to him, so he did a pretty good impersonation of Stevie.  Most of the songs he did were well recognized; but for some reason he also played some that were not as recognizable.  The audience was mixed on his performance.  Many loved it, but many also left during the performance.  I don’t know if they didn’t like his impersonation or they just weren’t into Stevie Wonder’s music.  He also performed a half of a matinee show later in the cruise. 

   

Enrico Cifiello -  Enrico is an Italian singer who performs a nice variety of music genres.  He sings them in both English and Italian.  He has an outstanding voice.  Even the songs we were not familiar with, that he sang in Italian, were a pleasure to listen to.  This was Carol’s favorite performer of the cruise.

   

Shaun Perry – Shaun is a very accomplished performer from the Yorkshire area of England.  He has performed before the royal family three times.  He did a great job and the audience loved him.  He played music from Prince’s Purple Rain to Bring Him Home from Les Misérables.  Fortunately, he also performed a half of a matinee show also.  He is a quality performer that I would enjoy seeing again.

   

Gold Art Duo – Now this was a most enjoyable and entertaining couple. It is difficult to describe since they did so many different things.  Both of them are acrobats; but the man is also a magician and silent comic doing things with his body and expressions.  While doing their various routines, they also did some incredible quick changes right in front of us.  In one trick, he had a huge balloon that he stuck his head into.  He then proceeded to put the rest of his body in it and came out the other end.  It was an awesome show.  The couple also performed acrobatics in the production shows.

       

   

   

Tara Rachel – She is a flute and piccolo virtuoso.  She was quite talented; but having just finished a long tour in Petra a couple of hours earlier, I didn’t stay to watch the complete show.  I was pretty exhausted and would have fallen asleep during the show.  With the ship in port until 10:00 PM, the only show was at 10:15 PM.  I should have just waited until the show was repeated the next day.

       

Tian Jiang – Tian is an outstanding pianist from China.  He was a child prodigy and brought to the USA originally by violinist Isaac Stern, who found him during one of his visits to China.  Tian returned to China; but was eventually able to return to the USA.  He played a nice selection of Broadway and film songs along with some of his original music, which was most enjoyable.  He also performed a matinee a couple days later.

   

Leanne Mitchell – Leanne won the first season of the Voice UK in 2012.  We were really looking forward to seeing her; but she was too sick to perform.  She was scheduled again a couple of nights later, but never recovered.  We were most disappointed.

Chas Burnett – Chas is a British comedian who tells some very funny jokes.  Most were ones I had never heard; but he did throw in some familiar one liners where they fit in.  He also plays guitar and sings some humorous lyrics to popular music.  In one grouping, he was portraying what aging artists like the Rolling Stones should be singing rather than the original versions.  It was quite humorous how he was able to insert old age ailments into the tunes.

       

The Revolvers – This cover band played popular music from the 60’s.  They tried to look like the Beatles, but only sang a few Beatles songs.  I thoroughly enjoyed their music selection; but their voices weren’t good enough to do justice to the groups they were covering. It was still a pretty enjoyable show for what it was.

   

   

   

Ollie Mulkeen – He is a British singer/trumpeter that mixes in some humor with his performance.  He was a good trumpeter and he sang OK; but his type show and music selection weren’t my favorite. 

   

Production Shows – On a 15-night cruise, I was surprised that there were only three production shows.  Especially since one of the shows was a late-night adults only type show that started at 11:00 PM.  So, if you weren’t a late-night person, you missed it.  Then the final production show was on the last night of the cruise when many people were still packing to leave the ship the next morning.

Land of Make Believe – This show was described as a modern day musical twist on classic fairy tale stories such as Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz.  As expected, the story line was rather silly; but the staging and costumes were very colorful and a lovely display.  The musicians and dancers, for the most part performed quite well; and there was a very nice music selection of classic hits.

   

       

   

   

   

   

       

       

Elyria – First off, the show had an incredibly stupid plot line that was difficult to follow.  Then two of the singers stood on stage for a while telling semi-dirty innuendo jokes; while involving some audience members with what could be considered insulting comments by some.  That part of the show was painful to watch, plus with one of the performers talking too quickly to understand some of the things he was saying, it took away from the show.  I am really surprised that Celebrity has this type content in one of their shows.  I realize that Celebrity would like to attract a younger audience with racier type shows; but I don’t see this one as the way to do it. The actual music, dancing, costumes and sets were very good; but the story line got in the way.  The two gymnasts/aerialists who were the Art Duo couple, did another captivating segment of the show.

   

   

   

   

   

   

Soundtrack – This show presented music from popular movies and musicals.  It was nicely presented with a good music selection.  The dancers did a nice job and it was, as the show description said, a high energy performance.  The two gymnasts/aerialists who were the Art Duo couple, did another outstanding performance.

       

   

   

   

       

   

   

   

Activities

Cruise Critic Meet and Greet (www.cruisecritic.com) - We always look forward to the Connections Party, where the people we have been communicating with for many months on our roll call get to meet each other.  Around 125 people had signed up for the party and a good number of them showed up in the Rendezvous Lounge at 10:15 AM on the first sea day.  Cruise Director Rich Cleeson hosted the event.

   

Beyond the Podium Speakers – With there being ten sea days, we were very pleased that there were three enrichment speakers.  It is always so enjoyable to learn more about the places you will be visiting.

Craig Pilant – Craig is a historian.  He did a good job of presenting historical information in a way that was interesting rather than boring. 

Michael Fuller – Michael is an Archeologist, who was a great speaker.  He kept the audience fascinated with his stories about explorations he and his wife had been personally involved with.  It was sad as he showed photos of ancient places and objects that they had taken from Syria, where so much of it has since been destroyed by Isis.  At least they took lots of photos to remember these places by.

Bill Thayer – Bill is also a historian, but his presentation method wasn’t as appealing as Craig’s.  He had a lot of good history to share, but he had so much detail that my head was spinning trying to keep track of what he was talking about.  Others made the same comments to me.

 

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