CRUISE ON CELEBRITY -- ROME TO FT LAUDERDALE
The Celebrity Constellation in Port
fall we spent
a month in New England exploring coastal Maine and Rhode Island
and then were off
Naples where we settled
in very happily for six weeks. When it was time to go home we opted
for a cruise to save ourselves from a long uncomfortable flight
and to enjoy being at sea, both real plusses. We took a
Celebrity, hoping as we'd
heard, it was a step up from Holland America. Repositioning cruises
occur in spring and fall and can be an economical way to check
out the idea of cruises.
Constellation was to leave from Rome and arrive in Ft.
Lauderdale 17 days later having visited Livorno, Italy (Pisa and Florence),
Cartagena, Spain, Agadir, Morocco, and the three Spanish Canary
Islands of Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife. It sounded fine
in all, it was an astonishingly disappointing voyage.
majority of passengers might have benefited from a manners class
instructions. Because almost all food served was over loaded with
garlic, in just a few days passengers
began to smell so strongly that riding a full elevator became
an impossibility. Most of the more senior staff were arrogant and
the quality of the food
was at best second
rate. It was poorly prepared and poorly presented. Deck chairs
were profoundly uncomfortable.
of the saving graces of any cruise voyage is the day to day
continual encounters with service staff, from cabin stewards
to serving staff in the dining rooms. They are all pretty young
and come from all over the world. Most of them have yet to
develop a distaste for passengers common amongst more senior
staff. These are a few of the folks that made our voyage bearable,
even at times enjoyable.
Matviygshin, Cabin Steward from The Ukraine
Mindanao, Cabin Steward, from The Philippines
Carabuena, Dining Room Service, from The Philippines
Cvetanoska, Dining Room Service, from Macedonia
of these individuals worked hard to please guests and were grateful
very occasional "thank you" they received. They were ready
with a smile offering whatever they could to make a passenger's voyage
and more pleasant. They all have our admiration for doing very difficult
of the big selling points of cruise ships is the destinations
provide to passengers. What isn't always apparent is
the distance from the port to the dream destination. The port city
of Citavecchia is about two
if you have a car waiting for you at the port. If not, you get off
the ship, board a bus to the port gate then walk to the train station
a few blocks away hoping for a train leaving soon. Many passengers
opt for expensive packaged tours. Bussed to a desirable
herded along by a chatty guide.
this cruise we started off with a bit of bad luck. We left Naples
by train the day before our Citavecchia departure, planning to overnight
and explore this little seaside port town. That all went well until
the next morning when in the dining room we overheard that there
was a problem. Bad weather had forced the ship to remain in port
in Naples. We would be busses there to board.
Chaos reigned most of the day, but once on the ship a lovely afternoon
meal was served in the dining room. Sadly the chef left the ship
to be replaced by a short enormously fat and incompetent "chef" called
Tiny. That first lovely meal was the last one served for 17 days.
in Cartagena, Spain, brought a beautiful sunny day in an attractive
city. Food in the dining room seemed to be rapidly declining
in quality and they'd opened a pasta bar where you could have
fried to order. Unfortunately enough folks wanted a tablespoon
or two of fresh garlic fried in the middle of the dining room
so if you were eating dessert with the strong smell of frying
it tasted none too appealing.
is very chic food available on maybe the fanciest street in Cartagena.
it's an interpretation of
pizza. What do you think?
arrived early in the morning in Cartagena on a Sunday. All
locals who could possibly do so were sleeping in not out
adding local color to our ship's location. Always
take a look at the day of the week your cruise ship will be
visiting your desired locations. Sunday is pretty DREADFUL
is not an
exciting destination, but it is very civilized and it is spotless.
Old architecture on the main thoroughfare
restored, but one would hope something about the city was
just a little more interesting.
from Cartagena brought dinner, a poorly prepared greasy dahl
with floating chunks of garlic. The accompanying naans might
have well served as frisbees.
is a coastal town best known for its beaches. It is hot and
extremely dry. Many passengers stayed on board or opted
for the long bus ride tour to Marrakech. Ever the independents,
we got off the ship and were bussed to a parking lot with waiting
a price for a few stops and set off first for the curious
garden I had found on the web.
wandered through an enchanting run down garden with crumbling
structures and assumed it was the result of the earthquake
that destroyed most of this oasis town and cost 20,000 lives.
That was not so as the garden was created in the 1990's.
Having been there for a half hour or so we encountered Abdellah
Tamri who told us the garden was closed, but offered us the
chance to see it anyway. He told us about
the argon tree native to this area which produces an oil
used in cooking and as a base for upscale skin care products.
Here was a man who had to interact with tourists most of
but he was still a genuine human being. He loved the garden
and his city. To
see more of the garden click here Jardim
important on our list was the souk, a two square city
block sized market
selling absolutely everything. It turned out to be closed
our only port day in Morocco. I was truly heartbroken. We tried
to communicate with our driver the type of thing we were looking
for and were taken to
what he called the Berber souk, a tourist trap if there ever
was one. There a young fellow named Fisal
attached himself to us and accompanied us through five floors
of Moroccan tourist goods at tourist prices in tourist
at the ship we had a salad, having picked out the brown and
decaying pieces of lettuce. Luckily I had bought some wonderful
balsamic in Italy which we daily brought to the dining room.
Tomorrow we land in Lanzarote and I have a cactus garden to
look forward to.
short 500 lb affable Jamaican "Tiny," the "chef" in
charge of the self serve dining room patrolled
like a junk yard doberman. Young serving women
whenever he is near. I think Celebrity should
be aware of this very serious problem.
the night the most glorious thing happened in
the darkness outside our window. Dozens and dozens
if not hundreds of seagulls were flying with
the ship. Gaining and losing ground, they made
a dance I could not have imagined and they did
so for hours to our enormous delight.
CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
the first of three Canary Islands on the ships list proved interesting
after a frustrating start. My husband had taken up the offer of assistance
on making the most of our visit offered by ship staff. He asked about rental
cars as we thought it would be entertaining to drive the island on our own
after stopping at the Jardin de Cactus in Guatiza. The accommodating
staff member said there were no rental agencies in town. We would
have to take a 25 Euro taxi to the airport to pick up
a car and return the same way. He even seemed
especially kind to call the airport agency to ask if a car could be delivered
to our location in the port. Sadly that was not possible. So, we gave up on
the idea of a round island road trip. But, when piled on the bus transport
into town, midway there was a car rental
agency which we rode
by in the bus. Either ship staff are completely incompetent or they do their
best to make
travel as difficult as possible. Group tours are VERY lucrative.
took a taxi to the Jardin
de Cactus which
lies on an hectare or so (maybe 2 acres). It proved a wonderful
if very very hot garden full of large and
astonishing cactus. To see the garden on my gardening web site,
please click here Jardin
to the ship at 3 PM, we found little available for a light snack.
There was the precooked pizza option, the inedible
if not almost disgusting precooked pasta option, the pink slime
hamburger and dull old hot dog options. We opted for a nap.
went to dinner late, hoping to miss the crush of hungry passengers
and we did. Sadly, what hungry hoards do to a self serve dining
room that had not been managed or repaired is not a pretty sight.
We got salads. The greens were in better shape than the evening
before though the bins of additives proved as disgusting as was
becoming the norm. They did finally have tomatoes -- pale torn
slices floating in water at the bottom third of the bin. Luckily
just as we were about to leave with only greens a young woman showed
up with haphazardly sliced and chopped green and yellow peppers.
That helped and of course we had our own balsamic as the chef had
replaced the ship's balsamic with wine vinegar -- similar color,
but not quite the same. My husband had a little sushi and some
the way back to our stateroom, we stopped by the formal dining
room and stepped out into the hall to speak with the manager.
The smell in the dining room was of over powering garlic. We explained
that we prefer to have garlic used as a flavoring, not as a basic
food group and that we would like to have garlic free meals delivered
to our room. I am allergic to garlic so it was not a frivolous
request. At first he said "No,
that cannot be arranged." I
told him that the chef had said we could order whatever special
foods we wanted. Quickly he reversed his position and said of course
just let him know when we want our dinners delivered and he would
see to it personally. It didn't work out too well. On
the plus side for Celebrity, we lost weight. Seventeen days with
little edible food does wonders.
Lanzarote was the
first of three Canary Island port visits. It is a pleasant place,
but extremely dry and very hot even in middle November. We hopped
a taxi and sped off to Guatiza to visit the Jardin de Cactus.
It was wonderful. You can see more on my garden website, Green
Gardening Cooking & Curing.
most of the folks who had found their way here were sitting
in the shaded bar enjoying cold beers.
CANARIA ISLAND, CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
we planned on using the shore day to take a leisurely walk through
town after a breakfast delayed until most of the other passengers
had eaten their
fill and been on their way. I rarely eat breakfast, but I surely do love French
toast buttered and floating in Vermont maple syrup. With that in mind we made
our way to the dining room where as is our usual we do a walk about
to see what's there.
On the way to French toast we discovered chocolate croissants, slices of swiss
cheese (good to have on hand in the stateroom fridge for those times there's
no food worth eating in the dining room), and a couple of breakfast croissants
for making cheese sandwiches.
now we made it to the French toast serving area. But, what is this?
I took out my glasses and still wondered. We asked one of the serving
staff about it and were told it was "corn flake French toast." Sounded
like something served in primary school, but with its appearance
I don't think even kids would eat it. Damn!! Foiled once again.
My husband had yogurt and nuts and one of those chocolate croissants.
It remained uneaten as there was only a dribble of chocolate at
either end were it could be seen and nothing else. Chef "Tiny" is
nothing if not parsimonious.
I mention the other breakfast offerings? There are omelet stations
where you select your ingredients and an omelet is made before
your eyes in oil in an old scratched Teflon® pan where the
cook uses a burned and stained rubber spatula as his only cooking
Teflon® and burned plastic omelets. Moving on to the freshly
cooked eggs station you'll find duplicate second rate equipment.
the aisle a ways you'll come to the Eggs Benedict area also with
the same very old scratched Teflon® pan. This time it is filled
with very cloudy water in which your eggs will be reheated as amazingly
they are precooked poached eggs. Here the options include something
called English bacon, but even with my glasses I couldn't identify
it as bacon like, sausage burgers, older than sin precooked spinach,
barely tan low quality English muffins and topping the whole mess
is something they pass off as Hollandaise sauce, except that it
has the wrong color, the wrong texture and the wrong taste. Oops, "Tiny's" touch
I try to wake with a good attitude, something that will see me
through the day's disappointments. But here on Celebrity, there
are just too many disappointments.
left the ship and took a long walk through town, here and there finding
something totally charming.
Canaria has a clear cut feeling of Spanish history as you can
see in this
church. The surrounding areas are visually charming and studded
with delightful cafes. We enjoyed the town.
ISLAND, CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN
is mountainous and visually appealing with green mountains
and bright sunshine. But it was a distraction for only
one day before we would voyage across the Atlantic.
This is a Better Way to Travel by Sea
we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and were on our way back home to Guatemala,
never to voyage again on a Celebrity ship.
One day we were served batter fried fish that had gone bad before
being fried. Maybe this is why so many ships now have outbreaks
poisoning relabeled as some sort of incidental bacterial or viral
The salad bar was truly a health hazard as all foods were
contaminated with others largely because of faulty serving tongs
and inadequate management.
evening I waited 15 minutes for a food server to find some black
olives that weren't in a bin with pieces of ham and
chicken and green olives and some kind of oil. Beside me was
a young woman waiting for a dressing that had been available
only the day before. Now there was none in the large upstairs
self service dining area. It had to be retrieved from several
decks below. After 20 minutes our requests were met. She had
dressing and I was faced with a salad plate of "black olives." The
black olives were floating on about two tablespoons of mystery
oil, along with one green olive and some generic minced greens.
When I said I wanted 'clean' olives the young server asked if
I wanted them "washed." I said no, I just wanted them
free of oil, green olives, and miscellaneous greens. He didn't
really get the idea until I showed him the salad bins all of
which were contaminated with other foods.
The casino raised its prices after leaving Naples. When a
passenger on a continuing voyage asked why, he was told. "Because
Americans will pay it."
The quality of food was appalling and again I truly think it was
because Americans will eat it because they are used to it. Europeans
would have staged a mutiny.
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