Celebrity Constellation has undergone a transformation - - a
multi-million dollar refit designed to give this popular ship a
new style. As the ship's Hotel Director, Ryan Kingston plays a
crucial role in implementing this new style, I spoke with Mr.
Kingston about what guests should expect from the new
To establish a frame of reference, I asked Mr. Kingston to
describe the cruise experience that Celebrity offers.
"The style of Celebrity - - quality and service - - certainly
caters to an affluent clientele. Our clientele does not come
back all of the time because they think it is not consistent with
their lifestyle. The style of our ships suits their lifestyle. It is
how they enjoy their life at home and when they come on a
ship they have the same level of expectation. That is really
what we deliver everyday."
Celebrity's cruise experience has an international appeal with
significant numbers of Europeans and other nationalities in
addition to Americans and Canadians on most cruises. "That
makes it so exciting for every one who comes here. They
meet different people from different cultures and hear about
things that are going on all over the world."
The Celebrity fleet can be divided into the Solstice class, the
Millennium class and the Century class. (There is also a small
expedition ship that does cruises to the Galapagos Islands).
The critically-acclaimed Solstice class ships are Celebrity's
newest and largest ships (122,000 gross tons). The four
Millennium class ships, of which Constellation is one, are
smaller (91,000 gross tons) but have long had a reputation for
providing a sophisticated cruise experience.
"In the past, [the four Millenniums] were very similar
experiences. Obviously, every ship has a different feel and
depending on the group that is on the ship, it can have a
Constellation, however, underwent a two-week re-fit in the
Spring of 2010 during which it was "Solsticized" i.e, altered to
be more like the Solstice class ships. "If you were to compare
this ship to Infinity, Summit or Millennium, it has obviously
had some changes. So the experience on this ship versus other
Millennium class ships is a little bit different."
"Certainly the Martini Bar is an example. It is very different
on this ship versus its sister ships. It really creates a different
level of energy and a different environment. It is more
consistent with the Solstice class."
"It is a change in direction. I think that is what people will
notice the most when they come on the ship. The style of the
ship is a different style. This has a different feel to it. It has a
different energy level to it. It has a different vibe to it.
Clearly the energy level and the style of the ship have changed
The most prominent alterations to Constellation were the
addition of two new dining venues - - the Tuscan Grille and
Bistro on Five. These additions give Constellation more
"options and a more diversified program. I think that is what
people want. They do not want to be locked into a style of
cruising that is main dining room every night. That may be
fine for shorter cruises but when you get into longer
itineraries, it is great to have other options. For example, this
cruise is 14 days and not everyone wants to sit in the main
dining room and have a two hour dinner every night. Sure the
menus change every day and we are continuously trying to
freshen the main dining room but at the same time people
want something different."
Prior to the refit, Constellation did have more than one
dining venue. In addition to the main dining room, it had a
buffet restaurant for those guests who wanted a casual,
informal meal and the Ocean Liners Specialty Restaurant for
those times when guests wanted a formal fine dining
experience. Thus, there were options but "you had a big jump
from each dining option."
Now, the new additions fill in the interstices. Guests who
want to be served but who "would like a lighter meal, can go
into Bistro on Five and have wonderful salads, sandwiches as
well as the crepes. People love those whether they are
breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night. It is a great option and it
is a nice price point as well."
Similarly, guests who want a sophisticated meal but not the
formality of a French-style fine dining restaurant can go to the
Tuscan Grille. "It is a wonderful Italian steakhouse, people
rave about the food and the service. On this ship, it is in a
fabulous location. It sits up on Deck 11, top of the ship,
surrounded by glass and has views that are fabulous. When
we were up in the Norwegian fjords, where it is light until two
or three in the morning, you could have dinner up there and it
was absolutely spectacular."
The refit also added two new venues to the ship's line-up of
bars and lounges. "The wine bar, Cellar Masters, is a
completely different environment than what was there before.
In the past, it was one environment; one bar on one side [of
the area], one on the other, and some type of entertainment in
the middle. Now you have a very distinct, different
environment. It has a lot more character. It is a warmer more
inviting environment than we presented in the past."
A feature of Cellar Masters is vending machines that
dispense fine wines by the glass. "It is a wonderful experience
for those who enjoy wine. You have enomatic machines that
allow people to do a lot of wine tasting independently without
having a lot of engagement from staff. If they just want to try
things and taste them or if you always wanted to try a little bit
of this or that, you can do that at your leisure."
One of the bars that Cellar Masters displaced was the ship's
Martini Bar. Constellation's new Martini Bar is not simply the
old bar in a new location. "The one we have today is very
different. It is a much more upscale, typical high-profile
martini bar that you would expect to see in the major
metropolitan cities around the United States and elsewhere.
[The old Martini Bar was] more of a classical martini bar
where it was a lot more subdued and a lot more quiet."
"It has a lot of energy. People get in there and enjoy it."
With its ice covered bar, high energy music, wide variety of
martinis and the flare of its performing bartenders, "it is a
show. That is what we have been able to deliver on Solstice
and bringing that to this ship has been very popular. It is a
fun environment, a very active engaging environment."
Another transformation was the ship's specialty coffee bar.
Café al Bacio occupies the same location that once was the
site of the Cova Café but it is not just a name change. Café al
Bacio "has a different style. It is a lot more contemporary in
style than what we are used to the ship. Cova Café was a very
traditional style. Café al Bacio is more upscale. I think it is
more engaging for people."
"You have the Gelateria, which we did not have in the
Cova Café. Gelato is very popular. All the accompaniments
that go with it and candies are very popular as well. The
coffee and light snacks that we are providing from Café al
Bacio are different than the Cova Café. The dessert selection
and sweets that we produce are significantly different than
what we are providing in the Cova Café."
Adjacent to the Cova Café used to be the glass-enclosed
Card Room. That area has now been opened up and has
tables and chairs as part of Café al Baco. "It is a wonderful
seating area. People do play cards and drink coffee but at the
same time you'll find just as many people with their laptops
having a coffee or just sitting privately having a conversation
or enjoying the views out the window. It is a very different."
The Solsticization of Constellation was not limited to the
public areas "The staterooms have all been completely
re-done. Again, [the goal was to make them] more consistent
with the Solstice style of ship."
"All of the staterooms received flat screen televisions. They
upgraded the interactive television system so it is [similar] to
what we have on the Solstice class. All of the soft-goods - -
carpet and drapes, all the bedding, all the headboards, all the
upholstery on the couches - - everything was completely
re-done. All the bathrooms were re-done and updated.
.Primarily, it is a complete re-fresh of the stateroom itself. The
stateroom product is completely upgraded "
Solsticizing involves more than physical changes to the ship.
"We program it a little bit differently in the lighting, sound,
music and entertainment. It is more consistent with the
"The feedback that we have received on this ship since its
revitalization has been nothing short of spectacular. Sure
things are different but I keep hearing the word that it is very,
very 'comfortable.' They love seeing the diversity of food and
Celebrity intends to Solsticize Constellation's sister ships as
well. "At the end of it all, you will have four ships in the class
that have all the features and amenities and services that you
would typically have on a Solstice class ship just on a smaller
scale for those people who really enjoy this style of ship."
The Tuscan Grille
Hotel Director Ryan Kingston
A conversation with
Hotel Director Ryan Kingston.
Richard H. Wagner
Cruise ship interview - - Celebrity Consteallation - - Celebrity Cruises - - Hotel Director Ryan Kingston
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Above: An enomatic machine in Cellar Masters.
Below: The New Martini Bar