Celebrity Cruises sailed its first ever Middle East cruise season in 2016 and Cruise Arabia & Africa was invited aboard to tour the ship as part of our Ship Review series.
Celebrity Cruises is the latest cruise line to home port a cruise ship in the Middle East for the winter cruise season, offering roundtrip cruises out of Abu Dhabi. During her maiden call to Dubai, Cruise Arabia & Africa was invited aboard to tour this latest addition to the Arabian Gulf cruise market.
Owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises, the second largest cruise company in the world, the 13-deck Celebrity Constellation is 295m long and is the first cruise ship ever to make the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, a roundtrip departure point.
Affectionately known as “Connie” by her fans, the 2,034-passenger Celebrity Constellation debuted in 2002 as the fourth and final ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium Class. She received a major refit in 2013, during which 66 AquaClass cabins were added, along with private verandahs for the eight Celebrity Suites, an upgraded basketball court, an iLounge with Apple workstations and a retail store, and new meeting and conference spaces.
Also upgraded was the Wi-Fi throughout the ship with a new easier-to-manage log-on system. Some common areas and staterooms were redecorated with new color schemes, carpeting and upholstery reflective of the newer Solstice Class. In 2016 she was refurbished once more, ahead of her return to the Middle East for a second cruise season out of Dubai.
The “seaside pool” is surrounded by four whirlpools, and there is also an adults-only thalassotherapy pool – which has bubbles to massage your back while you relax – with its own accompanying whirlpool.
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Fitness fans can take advantage of sea views while jogging around the oval track on deck 11, or try out the multi-use court, with basketball hoops, on deck 12.
When the ship is docked in Abu Dhabi, passengers can get eye-catching views from the ship’s helipad of the soon-to-open Louvre on Saadiyat Island, as well as the Corniche skyline.
The Canyon Ranch SpaClub offers a massage for Dh462 or acupuncture sessions as well as a range of other treatments.
The 25,000-square-foot spa complex features 13 rooms for treatments including body waxing, facials (Dh448), scrubs, wraps, hairdressing, manicures and pedicures.
It is open every day and if you don’t feel like going ashore when the ship docks, you can indulge in a port-day spa discount. A port day is actually one of the best days on which to enjoy the spa as it is much quieter. You can also purchase a Dh367-a-week pass to the spa’s Persian Garden thermal suite, which offers a herbal steamer, Turkish bath, tiled loungers and rain shower.
This would cost Dh700 on one of the ship’s Middle East cruise itineraries, which are typically around two weeks in length, but it provides full access to the spa during opening hours.
The gym features a variety of Life Fitness treadmills, exercise balls, bikes and weight machines. Yoga, Zumba and Pilates classes and personal training are available for a fee, but stretch and group cardio classes are free.
The two-deck, 1,170-seat San Marco is the largest of the six dining rooms on-board and is the main restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which is included in the cruise fare. Upstairs features walk-in dining, while the deck below is reservation-only. The menus offer a wide range of traditional international dishes.
Although San Marco is not a formal dining venue, those who wish to remain in their swimming costumes or beachwear from the day can head to the Oceanview Café on deck 10 for a buffet.
For lunch, the Poolside Grill serves burgers, bratwurst and grilled chicken.
The most upscale dining venue is Ocean Liners, Celebrity Constellation’s speciality fine-dining restaurant on deck 3, where the emphasis is on seafood with a French twist. This premium dining experience costs Dh165 per person.
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Constellation’s other upscale paid restaurant is modern Italian steakhouse The Tuscan Grille. Blu, which was added two years ago, is an upmarket “clean cuisine” restaurant that is complimentary for AquaClass suite passengers (and Dh200 for those who are not).
For health-conscious cruisers, the AquaSpa Cafe offers low-calorie options, and Sushi on Five is the ship’s Japanese restaurant. There’s also a Gelato Café and a Starbucks-style Café Al Bacio.
A 1,500-seat, two-tiered theatre on deck 5 hosts major shows twice a day, before and after dinner and all are free, with the entertainment included as part of the cruise fare. The shows are Broadway/West End in style, but also include acrobatics and dance performances, as well as musical extravaganzas such as Mamma Mia! or a Freddie Mercury tribute act.
Celebrity Cruises derives its name from the idea of passengers being treated like celebrities, but of last it has also started partnering with celebrities for on-board entertainment and former X Factor finalists do perform on board on select sailings. Live bands also perform in the Rendezvous Lounge on deck 4, while passengers sit at stone-encrusted glowing tables.
Guests can also enjoy traditional local-themed performances at the ports-of-call and during the day there is craft-making, lively games, trivia contests and dancing competitions. The kids can be dropped off at the “fun factory” to play board games and table tennis, or attend slumber parties.
Babysitting is also available on request.
We’ll start at the upper end of the price scale, because Middle East cruise passengers typically book only the best when they cruise. Two palatial 1,432-square-foot penthouse suites come with 1,098-square-foot balconies and a baby grand piano. These suites also boast commanding views when entering and leaving port.
The 538-square-foot Royal Suites (with 195-square-foot balconies) feature whirlpool tubs on the verandas.
The 467-square-foot Celebrity Suites feature a bedroom separate from the main living area, while the 251-square-foot Sky Suites and 191-square-foot Concierge Class cabins include 42-square-foot balconies.
All suite passengers get the services of a butler, who can help pack and unpack bags, and access to an exclusive lounge with free coffee, pastries and juices.
The standard state rooms start at 271-square-feet with the Family Veranda cabins, which have a partition separating the master bedroom from the lounge and kids’ sleeping area, as well as a 242-square-foot veranda with loungers, tables and chairs.
The AquaClass cabins boast a personal spa concierge to arrange treatments. Standard cabins average 170 square feet, with 38-square-foot balconies. In all, the ship can accommodate up 2,170 guests.
- Prices for a 14-night cruise start from Dh5,875 per person. Visit www.celebritycruises.co.uk