Travel, Uncategorized

Cruise Crew

Alas, our cruise around the Mediterranean Sea with the family had finally begun! First order of business…introducing the Cruise Crew: myself, Adam, Shelby (my amazing sister), Debra (mom), Frank (stepdad), Al (uncle), Sue (aunt), Maria (cousin), Bill (Maria’s friend), Angela (cousin), Josh (Angela’s fiancé), Fred (uncle), Sandra (aunt) and B (cousin). That is 14 people!!!! The only thing missing from this awesome cruise crew, were cruise crew shirts! Oh well, maybe next time.

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Cruise Crew (minus Bill, he took the photo)

(Please note that at the time of the cruise we were enjoying ourselves and did not foresee starting a travel blog. With that being said, this post will lack detailed pictures of our experience. We apologize, but please enjoy and hopefully our words and story can help paint a nice picture).

Overview

We boarded onto the Celebrity Constellation, an 8 night cruise with port of calls in: Barcelona, Nice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast (Salerno), Kotor, Ravenna and Venice. We were going to hit 4 countries on one cruise, but unfortunately, a day before our departure to Nice, France was when the tragedy of a cargo truck deliberately driving into a crowd  of people during Bastille Day. Our captain respected the city of Nice and their loss, so we spent an extra day at sea.

This was Adam and I’s first cruise so we do not have any cruise experiences to go off of, but the Celebrity Constellation was pretty impressive. The ship had 12 decks, with two restaurants for dinner, a 24/7 buffet, several different bars, library, jogging track, theatre, spa, outdoor pool, 4 whirlpools, art gallery, shopping, casino, kids zone and more.

Staterooms and Service

We booked an interior room and were quite happy with it. It had a desk with a mirror, (I basically used it as my vanity), comfortable bed, decent sized bathroom and overall we never felt cramped. There were times when 6-7 of us would be in the room playing Heads Up and hanging out yet we never felt like someone was invading our space.

Our room was always kept clean. Every time we got back to our room from our excursions at the port of calls it was always clean with new towels, chocolate and a program for the next day. Our attendant was very friendly, always asked us if we needed anything and how our day was. When we did ask for something, it was delivered in a sufficient amount of time. She made a huge impact on our stay and we are pretty sure she did not charge us for our laundry which was not cheap. She made our cruise experience special and a 5 star experience just by her warm personality and going that little above and beyond. We made sure to tip her something special for making us feel like home everyday.

Theatre

This was probably the least impressive aspect of the entire cruise. Maybe it was because Adam and I are spoiled since we saw every Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, but out of the two shows we saw on the cruise they were just okay. Most of the family went to the first show on the cruise, it was a musical without a story, more like a show with several themed acts. Shelby and Angela both agreed that the entertainers were off key for most of the show (coming from a dancer and pro cheerleader). The show was entertaining enough to enjoy, but nothing to be amazed about.

The other show Adam and I watched was a magician that was trying to be a comedian. It must have just been Adam and I because almost the whole theatre was laughing at the guys jokes, but we were not. We had come to watch some cool magic tricks and instead walked into a comedian show that did a few magic tricks. So a little disappointing, but we wanted to make the most of our cruise experience. Next time we will skip the shows and make use of an alcohol package.

Dining

We stuck to our “free” dining options because we did not want to pay more than we had to. We figured if we are paying for free dining (and good dining/food) then why pay more for something already included? Maybe the food and ambience is a smidgen better, but for the prices offered we did not think so. The other fine dining options included Ocean Liners, Tuscan Grille and Blu. Every night there was a quote on our menu, one quote read, “to eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art” by anonymous. I believe we were all eating intelligently by enjoying what we had already paid for. So, what were our dining options? They were the Oceanview Cafe and the two deck, fine dining restaurant, San Marco.

Oceanview Cafe

Oceanview Cafe was Celebrity Constellation’s 24/7 buffet and casual dining option on Deck 10. The buffet was shaped in a large oval with various stations, some repeated on both sides, while sometimes you could only find a specific station on one side. It took me at least two cycles around the entire buffet to figure out that one side would be missing something delicious that was offered on the other side. The more common and popular stations were typically the ones that could be found on both sides of the “oval”. Oceanview Cafe had something for everyones palate, on a daily basis it served Indian, Italian, Asian, English and American cuisine.

There was aways plenty of seats available in the dining room. The dining room surrounded the outside of the oval buffet which gave guests prime seating near the windows to watch the endless ocean. There was also dining on the deck patio, but this seating was limited. Wake up early enough, (we typically ate breakfast around 8am), and the odds will be in your favor. The outdoor seating area also had their own bar as well as the indoor dining.

Every morning we would all try to enjoy breakfast together at Oceanview Cafe and would do our best to sit outside on the deck patio. Adam will be the first to say that breakfast was amazing! In the morning, (every morning), Adam had his plateful of waffles. To this day he says how much he misses those waffles and will admit that it was his favorite part of the entire cruise! Now I will even admit, the waffles were pretty darn good and I would have mine with whip cream and blueberries, whereas Adam stayed to the classic butter and syrup. Eventually, we would branch out and enjoy other breakfast options such as, french toast, pancakes, lox bagel, potatoes, fresh tomatoes, fruit and more. A few action stations included: eggs benedict, omelet, or eggs cooked any way you want – but the waffles was where it was at!

We only had lunch on our days at sea and like breakfast it was always delicious. They had everything from, fruit salad, pasta salad, vegetable salad, make your own salad, fresh sushi, pizza, pasta stations, beef broccoli stir fry, pot stickers, egg rolls, fish and chips, beef tenderloin, meat carving stations and more. As stated before, there was always something for everyone. There was always so much to choose from we tended to grab a small spoonful of everything. We all ate with no regrets.

Surprisingly, we never ate from the desert buffet. Most likely because we had already ate too much for lunch. The dessert station would have a variety of tarts, cakes, puddings and even sugar free options. One thing we did have room for were cookies and gelato. The gelato and cookies were separated from the dessert station and had its own section in Oceanview Cafe.

We quickly learned that after a days worth of sightseeing and traveling we would always come back starving. In our defense, we had averaged around 12 miles of walking a day and that meant we were burning calories. So, when we arrived back on the ship we would go straight to Oceanview Cafe and pile on fresh sushi onto our plates. It was enough to satisfy our stomachs and not ruin our dinner.

San Marco Restaurant

The San Marco Restaurant was the fine dining, two deck restaurant that was offered to all the guests. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was available to guests everyday. Breakfast and lunch had no assigned seating/reservations, whereas dinner did have set dining times. Guests could choose a set dining time of either 5:45pm (early) or 8:15pm (late) or open seating from 5:15pm to 9pm. We had a set dining time of 8:15pm and were able to have the same table and staff throughout our entire cruise. Out of the eight nights, two were formal attire and for the remaining nights we would dress business casual. It was a lot of fun getting dressed up for the formal nights because the entire cruise would be more elegant with photographers, a red carpet, etc.

The menu changed daily and often correlated with countries we had just visited. For example: the night we were supposed to be in Nice, France the menu had fried frog legs and escargot for appetizers. Both are traditional French cuisine. The menu also did a good job of catering to everyone’s needs. There was always a vegetarian, chicken, fish and beef option as a main entree. With that being said, we always ordered our three courses in the beginning, our appetizer, entree and dessert. Since this was “all inclusive” you may order more than one appetizer, entree and dessert. There were times when someone could not decide on an appetizer because two sounded so good, so they would order both. (Okay so that “person” may or may not have been me). On lobster night I think it is safe to say that everyone at the table ordered a second round of lobster. Yes, we had two entrees of lobster each for no additional cost and yes, we are fat Italians! It was heaven. Before our appetizers came out we would basically have a first course of bread and butter. Every night we were served freshly baked bread with different flavors of butter e.i. chive butter, red pepper butter, basil butter, avocado butter, goat cheese butter and more.

This would not be Our Sweet Adventures without talking about desserts right? I was very impressed with the dessert selection, therefore, I have every dessert listed and described here for your taste buds enjoyment!

The food was always prepared and executed well. Even the portions were perfect, sometimes I wished the appetizers were larger, but by the end of the meal I was always satisfied – I never felt uncomfortable for eating too much. The young men on the other hand, (not to mention any names, but….Adam, Josh, and Bill) were typically still hungry. Luckily, they would help themselves to finishing their neighbors plates. Otherwise they would order more food. So as you can see, dining on a cruise is awesome! Service is done well, the food is delicious and the atmosphere was always warm and inviting.

Bars and Lounges

You could always find the Cruise Crew at the bar for pre dinner drinks at the Rendezvous Lounge. The Rendezvous Lounge had a nice bar, a wooden dance floor, live music every night and the chairs surrounding the dance floor were these large, red, felt chairs that were extremely comfortable. The live music was always good, but after the fourth night I think we memorized their set list. We could pretty much guarantee that around 8pm we would hear “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay. With the being said, the music was a mix of genres and songs were ones that would ensure people to get out on the dance floor, whether it was for a slow dance, some salsa dancing or just going with the beat.

Almost every bartender I came across was friendly and served great drinks. I always enjoy challenging bartenders on creating something special for me and a lot of the time they did. In fact I had some great drinks that others would want to order, but if I couldn’t find the same bartender the drinks never tasted the same. It was certainly fun for me and always gave me a new drink to enjoy every night.

Pool and Upper Deck

On our days at sea, if the Cruise Crew was not in their staterooms then they were at the pool! There were two outdoor swimming pools that almost connected to each other. There were also four whirlpools! Even on the hot summer days the whirlpools were always enjoyable. Lastly, there was both a pool and whirlpool for children. Chairs were always difficult to find and hold. Most days we would have two chairs for all fourteen of us. I do not know how we made it work, but we did. The pool deck had at least two bars, a drinking station for daily beverages e.i. juices, water and soda and the Pool Grill which served your favorite grill grub i.e. hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders and fries. When we were ported in Barcelona the Pool Grill served fresh paella! On the same deck a little further back from the outdoor pools was the Solarium, an indoor lap pool under a glass ceiling. The Solarium is definitely for guests who wanted a more relaxing and quieter atmosphere for swimming. It also featured healthier snacks, like yogurt and smoothies (you never found the Cruise Crew here).

The deck above the pool also had pool chairs for those wanting to catch sun rays, read a book, or get the best views of the ocean and try to find some whales and dolphins. This deck also has a nice jogging track for those wanting to stay in shape and not roll out of the cruise ship like us. Lastly, there is a clay basketball court for guests to shoot some hoops.

Activities

Activities were always led by the cruise staff. Our cruise activity host was very good at his job, you can tell he loved what he did because he had endless energy. He was like the cruise activity Energizer bunny – no joke. Activities were daily and would take place all over the cruise. I will be listing the ones we took part of.

One of the first days on the cruise was BINGO! There were several different options of boards to choose from. Depending on how many boards you wanted and higher chances reflected how much more you had to pay. I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth on the standard board. I was soooo close to wining one of the three BINGO games. It was all for fun and it was a nice way to pass some time and enjoy one cruise activity.

Stars Wars under the stars…yes!!!! A few of us went to the pool deck after dinner to catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the projection screen. Watching Star Wars on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea with the stars gleaming down on us was definitely cool. I totally imagined a Star Wars world beyond the stars above us as we watched the movie….yes I am a nerd.

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Pool volleyball was something we wanted to do, but some of the Cruise Crew were taking a nap and so we ended up being in the peanut gallery. It was fun watching the teams play against each other. One match was even cruise members vs cruise guests. Maybe next time we will partake.

On our last full day on the cruise ship they had a Top Chef competition and I tried soooo hard to be picked to take part in the activity. The room was full of guests wanting to be a part of the cruise’s Top Chef, but only four people were able to play. Kind of disappointing, but we all stayed and watched the competitors. They really had fun with it and maybe it was a good thing I was not picked as I would have been very competitive.

Cruise Attire

We loved dressing up every night for dinner. Here is a slideshow of our nightly outfits.

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Ending Notes

We did not hit every aspect of this cruise. There were of course more bars and lounges, and more activities to partake in, but we wrote about the stand outs for us that made our cruise experience one to remember!

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Tips:
  • Make sure to schedule your daily dinner arrangements. We were able to have the same table and staff every night. It was nice building relationships with the ones who took care of us every night.
  • Also, with that being said, everyone works hard for you to enjoy your vacation so be courteous and tip your servers. They just took care of you for your entire cruise.
  • As stated before, feel free to order as much as you want during dinner. Just be mindful of waste – do not let your eyes be too big for your stomach.
  • If you want to enjoy the spa, (massage, hair cut, facial, etc.) on your day at sea, make sure you book that the day you arrive.
  • Try to book your cruise when they include free perks such as, drink packages, gratuities, free wifi, on-board credit, etc.
  • Make sure to book your excursions way ahead of time before you board. The worst that can happen is cancelling your excursion onboard. You definitely do not want to  wait too long and suffer not getting your favorite excursion option.

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Ciao!

C+A