Celebrity Constellation - 7 Night Western Mediterranean Cruise
Celebrity Cruises are evil, sending emails with good deals, such as the one I received on the 1st July 2010.  So I had a look at the 7 night Western Mediterranean cruise on the gorgeous Celebrity Constellation from the 9th-16th October.  They had an inside, including flights and transfers for just ickle me for just £960.50, which is unheard of!  A few days later, a similar offer for a near-identical cruise came for Voyager of the Seas but it cost more.  Well you know how it is.  Impulse is nature's way of saying it's something you MUST to, so I booked inside cabin 7055.  Also being several months later, it would be an ideal break to recharge the batteries.  My mum would still have her cancer and I should have had an operation to free me of the constant pain I had been in for months so I would be more mobile to help her.  Connie had been my second cruise (another impulse before taking my first!) and I just fell in love with her, wanting to go again but price was always the downside.  Only three ships make me want to go again and again, feeling like I'm going home each time I set foot onboard - QE2, Aurora and Vision of the Seas.  I had last been on Connie back in April 2007 so would I get the same feeling or would she be a huge disappointment?  Celebrity now require a deposit of £150 per person and I paid it off a couple of weeks later, booking just three excursions on the 20th July.  I booked my taxi to and from Heathrow and as soon as I gave my address he said, "Miss Dempsey.  Are you going on another cruise?"  Knows me too well!  I always use them to the airport, the only time I hadn't been able to was when I went on Norwegian Epic.  On the 9th September I received an email letting me know my e-docs were ready.  Thank goodness you can request luggage labels rather that faffing about when you arrived.  I had changed e-docs to a mail ticket but someone at RCCL changed it back!  The e-docs are War & Peace!  There is so much paper wastage.  How on earth does printing off twenty-one pages of A4 make it green?  If they did it (and they should since we pay these fares) it would have been at least half the size and easier to manage.  It's just laziness and cheapness on the part of cruise lines.  The luggage labels arrived on the 15th September - eight of them, clearly in case I lost seven!

The day neared and I came very close to not going.  My mum had been admitted to hospital on the 18th September and was still in there right up to the 9th, a rollercoaster of emotions thanks to the medical profession doing zilch.  Also the weekend before, my left jaw had swollen due to a tooth abcess.  I'd gone to a new dentist, since mine let it happen by only scaling and polishing over the past two years, even when I last went a couple of weeks previously in absolute agony.  
So the new one had given me antibiotics and said I need a root canal.  Ouch!  That's just the price!  Well things went okay and we were working on getting my mum home so off I headed to Heathrow at Stupid o'clock (as the driver called it when I booked), which was 5am.  I arrived seventy minutes later, Terminal 3, which I was surprised about since I thought all BA was T5.  I was able to check in but not my luggage for another hour.  When I did that, I was chatting to a lady from San Francisco who was going on Voyager of the Seas with her friends in Spain the next day for her first cruise.  There were quite a lot going on Connie, including Earlene Bentley, an lovely American lady living in London.  The flight was fifty minutes late, due to it arriving late from Madrid and then various other things, and boy were we all glad to get to Barcelona at 1.10pm!  It seems most of the passengers were heading to Connie, including the couple next to me.  As we waited for the luggage, I was chatting to the Voyager passenger and she was looking forward to it.  My case came and, after packing my cardigan, headed out to the rep.  After handing our cases over, we were marched off towards two buses.  I sat with Earlene as we drove to the port and caught a glimpse of our ship plus Sovereign, former Sovereign of the Seas.  I was getting excited now!
It was straight to check in, since the luggage was going to be loaded without us.  We were handed a norovirus form as soon as we walked in then Earlene went to Concierege check-in while I went to the normal Xpress Pass.  My credit card wouldn't work on the system.  Grrr!  It did that in Southampton when I went on Eclipse but at least this time I had changed it weeks before so there should have been no problems.  So it was straight to Guest Relations after grabbing a glass of Welcome Aboard plonk only to be told the card was on the system and she didn't know why it didn't work in the terminal.  Of course, since I was on antibiotics I shouldn't have had the plonk but forgot myself.  After the hassle of the day, I needed it!  Now Connie is the first of the Millennium class to be 'Solsticized', which is their words for trying to make them into Solstice class.  They really shouldn't.  Millennium class isn't Solstice class.  They had made a few changes such as adding a Martini Bar, Cafe al Bacio, Bistro on Five.  But what else had they done?  I dreaded to think!  But first port of call was the cabin, which I finally reached at 3pm, to freshen up as best I could before grabbing some much-needed lunch.  I had hoped for an upgrade but didn't mind this one.  It was very similar in size and layout to the one I'd shared with Rowan on Vision of the Seas.  Of course that was a four-night trip with someone to talk to.  This was a week alone.   Would I be bored?
My stewardess Doris introduced herself then I went to the Seaside Café to try and find food.  There wasn't a lot of choice left at that time of day but it was nice to just sit and relax with a snack and drink anyway.  I was on second sitting, which for some reason was 9pm instead of the original 8.45pm, which really is a little too late.  Then time for a wander.  Despite the Met Office saying it would be pouring and cold in Barcelona, it was actually dry and boiling!  Will they ever get it right????  As I wandered around, I had the familairity even though it was so long since my last trip.  Yes, she was definitely added to my favoured ships and I needn't have worried.  I'd only been on less than an hour and was enjoying it as much as the first time.

Muster was 5.15pm, my muster station being the theatre.  It was another without lifejackets which is good.  The two muster guides demonstrating on the stage were making funny faces and waving as they demonstrated, which was different and got a laugh.  Round of applause too after another one started to clap.  It was one of the shortest I'd attended.  Up on deck to see if Sovereign was still in view (having sailed at 5pm) and spotted Golden Iris arriving for 6pm instead of 7pm.

It was really nice seeing one of the former Cunarders at last.  I went up to the forward observation deck.  One thing they could have done now she's 'Solsticized' is remove the top half of that damn wind screen!  Reflections in photos is crap.  I noticed people on the helipad so wondered if they'd finally opened it up like their Royal Caribbean counterparts.  When I got to the Promenade Deck it was STILL crew only.  The only things I really hate about Celebrity are the crap Prom decks.  No walking around like on normal ships.  Just dead ends.  We cast off ten minutes late and did blast - hooray!  Only the once though.  Nice to know it can be done since everyone was mute when I'd been there on Equinox.
It was getting a little chilly so I went back in, heading for the photo shop to find out about those albums which hold 10"x8" photos.  The bloke said they'd stopped doing them last year.  What is the point of having these photos and nothing to keep them in?  I bought my boarding photo and pre-ordered the DVD.  I asked if it would be ready after 8pm on the last day and he said 2pm.  When I reached the cabin I saw my case had turned up - hooray!  Doris helped me get it in the cabin.  It had been such a relief earlier to learn the people next to me on the plane hadn't seen theirs either.  Funnily enough, the people just around the corner had an identical matching pair.  Hope they don't pinch mine when we're back!  It was great to be able to freshen up properly with a change of clothes.  Went shopping.  Two shops for souvenirs and both were crap.  Then went to the theatre to see the preview show which was great.  The cruise director kept raving about this piano player Perry Grant in Michael's Club, constantly saying he's the best.  I wondered if he'd been in there when I was last on but the name wasn't familiar.  There were many in the audience who seemed to know of him and he appeared to have quite a following among them.  Dumped the stuff then went to dinner in the San Marco.  Half the table was empty with my only compaions being Douglas, Gaileen (probably got that wrong) and their teenage son Scott.  After that it was bed.

The following morning we were due to arrive in Villefranche for 10am.  I went on deck and it was incredibly cold and windy.  
Princess Daphne was docked in Nice.  It was going to be no more than 14C this day.  Brrr!
I got some breakfast from the Seaside and took it outside so I could get Sovereign arriving near us for 11am.  I was surprised to see Le Diamant heading for Nice.
I had an early afternoon excursion to Monaco and Monte Carlo so headed down to Deck 1 for the tender just after noon.  As I got in the lift I bumped into Mustapha, my Facebook friend who works in the Tuscan Grille.  It was nice to finally meet him after all these months of chatting online.  The queue for the tender moved fairly fast, the barrier coming up after the Japanese people ahead of me.  I was going to be first on the next - yay!!!  Once it docked and the passengers were disembarking, the security guard took my card but the machine wasn't working.  It had made some weird noises with those of the last couple of Japanese people and didn't register the lady who went through.  They opened up another one and I went on then got a prime spot on the top.
We drove towards the bus park at Monaco, passing Europa docked in Monte Carlo.  Seven Seas Voyager was at sea.  I found out later she had a pod problem on the 3rd In Athens.  The cancelled the following Mediterranean cruise and was heading briefly to Marseilles before going to Genoa for repairs.  Nice little bonus even though not so nice for the passengers missing their cruise.  Then we went up to the rock after Pullmantur group 30 and it was freezing and much windier up there.  Considering my fear of heights and escalators (well they're HIGH!), I did remarkable well both ways and am very pleased with myself.
There was an annoying American man who was constantly saying, "I want to see Princess Grace" all the way out of the church and back onto the street even though we passed her grave and he was told that by his friend.  Few more things to see, such as the Palace, and then a mere twenty minutes free time when there's so much to see.  It was too cold to just sit around and wait so I and an American couple returned to the coach then set off for Monte Carlo.

We had to meet at the Oceanographic Museum.  I did a little souvenir shopping then strolled back.  It was too cold and windy to sit around so I and a young American couple headed back to the bus where many others had the same idea.  Then we pulled away for the short drive to Monte Carlo.  Here were had a ridiculous hour and a half free time.  What the hell is there to do besides gamble and shop?  Being Sunday, all the shops were shut anyway and most people couldn't afford the prices if they hadn't been.  I had no interest in casinos so went for a wander to the front.


© Patricia Dempsey 9th-16th October 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission