Although Celebrity Constellation entered service in 2002, she continues to be a popular premium category cruise ship. We asked her Hotel Director Mario Valentino to outline some of the reasons he sees as contributing to Constellation's vitality.
“We [i.e., Celebrity Cruises] have a product that is superior to many of our competitors. Each vessel is unique. You can talk to the customers and they have their favorites. Although we have a standard across our company in terms of certain offerings, our individuals make us each unique. Each offers a unique experience.”
“Our friendliness abroad this particular vessel is phenomenal and that's all based on care for our customers. [The crew] open up their arms and treat [the guests] like family.”
“The people are really our greatest asset. We pride ourselves in that and I think the Constellation really shines in that regard. All the individuals enjoy what they do and as the expression goes, if you love what you do, you don't have to work a day in your life.”
“With Celebrity, we have a higher ratio of crew to guests than a lot of the cruise industry, which gives us the opportunity to spend a little more quality time with our customers. I think it is not only appreciated by the guests but by the crew as well. They don't feel they have to limit the amount of time that they can interact and engage with our guests because they have that higher ratio and they can dedicate the time in engaging with our guests.”
“[And this attitude is] not just when they are 'on-stage' with the guests but behind the scenes as well. Regardless of who you speak to, they are not just friendly but sincere.”
The friendliness and caring is combined with a dedication to providing superior service. “When we are docked with another vessel from another company and you approach the gangway, you see the difference. Visually, [you see] our canopies and couches. You are going to be handed a nice cold towel. You're offered a cup of water or fruit punch - - i it is a little chilly, some warm hot chocolate. It is not just when you step inside but before you get inside there is somebody there to greet you to welcome you back to the vessel.”
The Millennium class “are beautiful vessels. It is sort of old world meets modern luxury. With our older vessels we have that old world look that people still appreciate but that new modern luxury feel to it. In listening to our clients, that is more and more what they want.”
"[Constellation] is the right size for a lot of our clients.
Some appreciate the larger vessels and some appreciate this size. Some guests may prefer more opportunities with regard to specialty dining choices and more venues. Other customers want more of a sense of community. The smaller the vessel the more you are going to run into the same fellow guests and relationships start to develop. Is one better than the other, not necessarily. It all depends upon what the customer wants. It is nice to provide the option.”
In addition, the Constellation of today is not the same as the Constellation of 2002. The ship has had major refits in 2010 and then again in 2015, which added new features and staterooms similar to those found on Celebrity's more recent larger vessels. “We want to continue to be the leading premium line in the cruise industry. And you almost have to re-invent ourselves as much as possible and be one step ahead of our customer.”
Offering diverse itineraries is another of Constellation's attractions. To illustrate in one year, the ship's schedule called for her to do Bahamas/Caribbean cruises from South Florida - - perhaps the most routine cruise itinerary. However, in the same year, Constellation was off to the Mediterranean and to such exotic destinations as India.
“We pride ourselves in our destinations. The company is always looking at what they can do different and provide something [new]. As people cruise more and more, their desires change and they want to explore new destinations so we are trying to offer that different experience for individuals to have those opportunities.”
Along the same lines, Constellation offers “wonderful shore excursions and wonderful land to sea excursions. We are positioned now so that your vacation experience with Celebrity does not start when you get aboard the vessel. We now have some wonderful land to sea excursions where you can enjoy your Celebrity experience days before you even arrive on the vessel. It is sort of a one stop shop for people who want to do a little bit more before going on a cruise ship - - let Celebrity take care of them from the time they reach that destination to the time they are aboard the ship. This can be something as unique as our safari experience.”
“We are known for our food. Sometimes we ask first time cruisers 'why did you choose Celebrity?' 'Well, we've heard so much about the food.' We are always trying our best to make sure that there is no disappointment. Our reputation that we offer an award-winning dining experience continues to exist.”
To this end, during Constellation's most recent refit, Celebrity added Luminae, a luxury restaurant exclusively for Suite Class guests. “It has been extremely well received by our suite guests. Their expectation is that they want something unique. . Luminae offers that. It offers them a venue where they can have some unique offerings as well as meet fellow guests and start developing that sense of family. It can develop a strong rapport.”
Luminae comes on top of the addition of Blu during the 2010 refit. Blu is a luxury restaurant for the exclusive use of Aquaclass guests. “Blu is a unique experience. Aquaclass is geared toward more of a wellness product, healthy eating. Aquaclass ties in with that and Suite Class ties in with Luminae creating [another] overall unique experience. The menu in Luminae is quite different than Blu. Beautiful, beautiful options available but uniquely different from each other because it is a product because the product we are offering in Aquaclass is different.”
At the same time, Celebrity has maintained the same quality level in Constellation's main dining room upon which its reputation was built. “In fact, when we introduced Luminae, the menus continued to be the same [as before] in the [main dining room].”
Cruise ship interview - Celebrity Cruises - Celebrity Constellation - Hotel Director