1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Celebrity Cruises
  4. Celebrity Constellation Review
  5. Celebrity Constellation Cruise Reviews
July 6-19, this year brought one of our most fabulous cruise experiences ever!!! After spending three nights in London prior to the cruise in one of nicest boutique hotels, The Beaufort in Knightsbridge, the four of headed to Dover by ... Read More
July 6-19, this year brought one of our most fabulous cruise experiences ever!!! After spending three nights in London prior to the cruise in one of nicest boutique hotels, The Beaufort in Knightsbridge, the four of headed to Dover by prearranged chauffeur-driven hired car (cheaper than renting a car for four of us including seven bags). He even stopped at a large shopping center, so we might pick up a few last minute items. Shortly after the "Connie" came into view as we passed over the last hill down to the port in Dover, we knew we were in for a treat. Brand new with just a few cruises under her belt, she sparkled and shined. Since we arrived around noonish, it didn't take long to board and locate our perfect cabins #7206 and #7208 in the stern of the ship with balconies five times the size of the side ones---great value for the money--Cat 1C. Our balcony had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs along with a table. It was fun to overlook the penthouse suites to see how the other half lives, also. Our cabin attendant, Ramir, was very attentive. He always made sure we had enough pillows and towels. Arriving early enough allowed us to get one of the 70 hookups for laptops on board (not many considering the number of passengers onboard). Those of us, who have to stay in touch with the office, unfortunately, need to remember to arrive early to get one of these setups. One thing about the Radiance class ships--they all have the hookups already in the cabin, which was great to send digital photos everyday to the husband, when I took the mother through the Panama Canal earlier in the year. Moving on to the dining on the ship. Most mornings with few exceptions, we had breakfast in the cabin. Ordering anything hot was challenging in the first few days, but after awhile almost everything arrived warm. Beverages were always hot, but we stopped ordering scrambled eggs after a few cold orders. I don't really think this is their fault, it really is a long way to those stern balconies. The main dining room for both food and service was terrific. Our assistant waiter from Bali, our regular waiter from Turkey and our maitre'd from South Africa were all fabulous and would like to commend them for the terrific celebration they put together for our friends' 18th anniversary!! Our friends loved blue cheese and they made sure every meal included it and not just any blue cheese, but Danish Blue--we haven't found any in the states to duplicate it. We used the ships excursions only for Saint Petersburg, because we didn't want to bother with visas. On the last excursion in Saint Petersburg, we had the railway delay our return to the ship by 30-45 minutes, so the ship waited for us since we were on her excursion. The rest of the ports we either shared cabs or used public transportation. It really was a great itinerary Dover, LaHarve (shared cab and saw the beaches and monuments of Normandy and the little quaint town of Honfluer), Oslo(public transport around to the sights),Copenhagen( cabs and public transport),Waramunde (train to Rostock), Tallin (walked around town), St Pete, Helsinki (public transport) and Stockholm(ferries and other types of public transport). Entertainment still needs work. They had a great piano player and singer from London, good dancers, staging and band--but fire those Celebrity singers. Makes me wonder how you would know that Celebrity is part of RCCL--Since RCCL has some of the best entertainment at sea. We really loved the ship!!!! Happy Cruising!!!shesurfs@comcast.netSeptember 2002 Read Less
On December 14th we returned from a 7-day "Southern" Caribbean cruise originating in San Juan, Puerto Rico, including stops in St. Croix, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St. Thomas; in other words, mostly Eastern Caribbean or West ... Read More
On December 14th we returned from a 7-day "Southern" Caribbean cruise originating in San Juan, Puerto Rico, including stops in St. Croix, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St. Thomas; in other words, mostly Eastern Caribbean or West Indies ports. This was our sixth cruise and our first trip on a Millennium-class ship. Four others were also Celebrity cruises on the Zenith, Galaxy, and Century; we have also taken one Royal Caribbean cruise. We generally book far in advance as we prefer to arrange our own air transportation and our work schedules are predictable. We selected this cruise because it offered several new ports for us and would serve as a good introduction to cruising to our brother and sister in law, who live in the upper Midwest and were seeking warmth and sunshine. In a nutshell, our cruise experience can be summarized in three main points. First, our cruise experience was excellent. Second, we felt secure on and off the boat. Third, the surprise best port of call was our originating and terminating port, San Juan. Arriving in San Juan We arrived two days prior to embarkation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, because we were traveling on frequent flier miles and there were limited seats available even though we set up the trip nine months in advance. This was a fortuitous turn of events, however, because it provided opportunity to reduce the jet lag from the 4-hour time zone difference from the West Coast and also allowed us to get better acquainted with Old San Juan. We'd booked two nights in the Wyndham Old San Juan directly across the street from Pier 3, where we'd embarked two years earlier on our Century Panama Canal millennial cruise. We'd gotten an excellent hotel rate through a web-based promotion which included both breakfast and happy hour in the hotel concierge lounge. Shortly before we left home, we found out that the Constellation would not dock at Pier 3 but at Pier 6 across the bay so we lost the chance to merely wheel our luggage aboard and added a pair of cab rides. Old San Juan has a 500-year history and the forts to prove it. The old city looks deceptively small on maps. We spent the better part of four days before and after the cruise exploring this vibrant urban environment, and look forward to another chance to spend time there as an originating port for a future cruise. The combination of locals and visitors, old history and modern everyday life makes for a fascinating blend of people watching, education, entertainment, good food and strong drink. My brother and sister-in-law arrived very late the night before we boarded. When they hadn't arrived by half past midnight, I'd left a note at the front desk for them so they'd know when and where to find their complimentary breakfast, where the boat was docked, and what time to meet to share a cab ride over. As far as I can determine, this note was promptly thrown in the trash, as they did not receive it and when we asked at the front desk at mid-morning what might have happened to it, we received only a blank look in response. Embarkation On embarkation day, though our travel documents listed boarding time as 1 p.m., we showed up about 11:30 in the morning, hoping to avoid lines and extend our cruise even if only a few hours. There were perhaps 50 persons already in line in front of us, and a kiosk with a "GTY" sign to provide cabin assignment to cruisers with guarantee category bookings. The actual embarkation process began a few minutes after we arrived. We moved through several short lines before embarking about noon and being escorted to our cabin. On boarding, we were handed a sheet of paper stating what was available at such early hours and throughout the afternoon; the Seaside Cafe opened its first buffet at 12:30. After putting down our carry-ons, I wanted to ask the room steward to empty the fee-based minibar. He was nowhere in sight but the cabin phone had a labeled speed-dial button. Thinking I'd get the housekeeping supervisor, I was surprised when our steward, John, answered telling us he was having his lunch and would take care of our request as soon as he finished. Apparently each steward is now issued a cell phone. Our cabin was decorated with an orange print bedspread and a solid greenish sofa; our brother's cabin had the same green fabric on his oversized chair; the length differential between the two is the fundamental difference between a standard and premium cabin size. The fabric was dimensional, e.g. had a good texture and natural fiber, but the bed tended to look rumpled with almost no effort; the sofa and matching desk chair had numerous stains on the fabric. For a ship that is only seven months in service, I found these stains visually shocking when I first arrived in the room, and uncharacteristic for a space in many ways comparable to a business-class hotel in the states. Our balcony, accessible by a sliding glass door, held two plastic-webbed chairs and a small glass-topped table. The bathroom contained adequate shelving for our sundries. Included in the bathroom are lotion, soap, and shampoo; however, the quality and range of these amenities were below those found in a business hotel stateside. Some travelers would be satisfied with these products, if avoiding packing them were a prime goal; others would find them unacceptable. We called our brother to say we'd come down and walk the boat together to get oriented. The telephone system includes caller ID so when we called, my brother's name and room number appeared on the telephone display; similarly, it displayed his name and number every time he called us. Having missed his complimentary breakfast at the hotel, he was already hungry so we agreed to make it a quick tour. I wanted to be sure to go by the AquaSpa and book a massage for the one day we'd be at sea, a day where bookings can be hard to obtain, so I quickly ran upstairs and made an appointment. There were only a few times still available, and also no advance booking of half hour massages, though they suggested I might find it possible to get a half hour later in the week on one of the port days. A Top-to-bottom Tour of the Ship Back at the cabin, we went down to Deck 2, Continental, to pick up my brother and sister-in-law. The four of us took the elevator to the Deck 11, Sunrise, and began working our way back down to the bottom. First we took the stairs up to the Sports deck to check out the basketball court. While adding this court is an impressive effort by the cruise line and a substantial improvement over a former lonely single hoop, the avid pick-up basketball player in our group ultimately spent very little time on court. In port, the playing service is brutally hard; at sea, wind and boat motion interfere with shooting, particularly on the less sheltered end of the court. There were a number of basketball-related activities onboard; the court attracted mostly a younger crowd perhaps more accustomed to playground courts. Back on the Sunrise deck, we checked out the jogging track, which is comprised of a composite surface applied to steel. It is knee-breaking hard to run on in port, but much better when ship is in motion; the boat's mild rocking cushioning the impact. The track is a bit narrow and jogging when many people are sunning is difficult. But early in the mornings, walkers and joggers were able to command the track. One significant improvement over former cruises is the deck staff's management of this space; on all prior trips early morning jogs were more like steeplechases, with many chairs askew and leftovers from late night eating and drinking laying about. On this trip, by the time I went topside between six and six-thirty in the morning, conscientious deck staff had made certain every chair was in place and pushed back from the marked track area; every dish, glass, and wayward napkin was tidied up. One more interesting aspect of this ship is the use of Plexiglas to increase connectivity between floors. A skylight from the Sunrise deck allows natural light into the Seaside Cafe. In the mornings, walking or running laps was made more interesting by peering down each lap upon the wait staff setting up the buffet for morning diners. Also on this deck is the large forward Reflections lounge, similar in design if larger in size to all forward lounges on other ships. Most of the late-night dancing occurred in this lounge. Down one floor to the Resort deck, where we came to the Seaside Cafe and Grill at one end and the AquaSpa and 18-and-over thalassotherapy pool area at the other. Two pools and four hot tubs can be found midship. We hurried past this floor so as not to be stopped by hunger from our goal of orienting ourselves prior to lunch. We could see the gym equipment was outstanding, with a half dozen elliptical trainers, an equal number of treadmills, free weights and a variety of strength training machines. There were three benches in a small free-weight area bolted to the floor, spaced too closely together in the small area. With only one other person in the area sitting on the middle bench, I was unable to bench press using the barbell at the bench as it would have hit this other person in the head! I had to ask my spouse to spot for me as a basic spotting rack ubiquitous in sports club was not part of the exercise equipment. I also spotted a fellow passenger who wanted to try using the barbell. It would have been an extra value if there had been staff assigned for general questions and simple instruction even thirty minutes a day. The majority of aerobic classes were available only for a $10 charge; these included yoga, Pilates, and spinning. Only mundane stretching and aerobics were non-fee classes. The next four decks, Sky, Panorama, Vista, and Penthouse, were mostly given over to cabins. We prefer a cabin nestled between two other floors of cabins, and on this cruise had an excellent portside cabin midship/forward on the Panorama deck. Struts on the Sky deck support the overhanging Resort deck, keep those balconies in nearly perpetual shade. The Panorama deck experienced a modest degree of this shading effect. Depending on the cruise itinerary and one's own preferences, more or less shade or protection from weather may be desirable and should be a consideration in selecting a cabin. Within categories 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2A, 2B, 2C, the pricing is nearly identical. Aesthetics of location and the value of a few extra square feet would be our suggestion in deciding on a cabin. The high proportion of cabins with verandas creates substantial semi-private spaces for passengers, freeing up space in the public areas for passengers in ocean view or inside cabins and creating a more spacious environment throughout the boat. We spent time every day on our veranda and I enjoyed several friendly chats when on occasion our neighbors were also leaning over the to check out the action below coming into or leaving ports of call. We found with the good weather in the Caribbean, the veranda functioned as an extra room. The sliding door was virtually soundproof, so if my spouse was watching television in the cabin, I could sit outside with a cool drink and it was very quiet. Midship on these four decks of cabin were the Words and Notes public areas, providing library and music services. Because we were visiting this space early on the first day, the librarian was present and books on many topics were available. One of us checked out a book to enjoy on the trip. The chairs in these spaces were similar to the chair in my brother's cabin, a goodly size but not the indulgent oversized chairs found in the library on the Galaxy or Century. Perhaps because this was a port intensive cruise, these public spaces seemed little used and always uncrowded. The next two decks, Entertainment and Promenade, were anchored by the Celebrity Theater on one end and the San Marcos Restaurant at the other. In between were shops, lounges, and midship the upper two stories of the Grand Foyer with its marquee illuminated onyx stairwell and gold lame floor to ceiling drapes. Outside on the Promenade deck is the best location on the boat for those with inside or ocean view cabins who would like to spend some quiet time breathing the sea air and watching the waves. Deck 4 is also where the Internet Cafe is located. We did not spend the $100 for network access from our cabins, but my brother, on his first cruise, visited the Internet Cafe nearly every day, happily sending brief messages to his coworkers back in the icy Midwest. The Internet Cafe is beautiful -- open, airy, plenty of natural light. With high resolution flat panel displays and moderately speedy satellite wireless service, this is a first rate facility, if pricey at 50 cents per minute. In addition to fee-based services, several free computer classes were offered each day. Deck 3, Plaza, was the focal point for many cruise-related services. It's the first space a passenger sees upon boarding, and the last seen on the way out. Midship are found Guest Relations, Shore Excursions, the Bank, the Future Sales area, and four glass-enclosed elevators. Guest Relations hosts the "Lost and Found"; I had to make two trips there, resulting in two "found" objects. Forward from midship on deck 3 are cabins; aft is where the Cinema and Conference Center can be found on one side, the Ocean Liners fee-based specialty restaurant on the other. We didn't make reservations for Ocean Liners. My first inclination would have included it mostly because we have tried basically everything on the main dining room menu and there are new dishes at the highly praised specialty restaurant. But my brother and sister-in-law hadn't eaten in the regular dining room and didn't see the point in spending the extra money for Ocean Liners. Philosophically, we don't like the idea of paying extra for food or drinks on the cruise when much more than enough has already been paid for, so we make a point of sticking with standard fare. As an alternative for new food at no extra cost, we ate spa lunch every day, which included great things like sushi (vegetarian), tofu with bulgur wheat, pork loin, a dish that I swear was chicken biryani though I think it was labeled chicken with rice, and sliced turkey. With the exception of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", most of the movies shown have already been released on video/DVD. For passengers who don't go to movies often, some might offer a first viewing. Also, the theater has very good acoustics. So if you already saw, say, "We Were Soldiers" on DVD or at a theater, you might actually enjoy seeing the picture just as much or more a second time on the ship. The ceiling in front of the screen has a reflective quality that can be slightly distracting with certain kind of light intensity on the screen. This could be easily remedied with a gallon of black paint. Deck 2, Continental, was all cabins, and where my brother's ocean view cabin was located. He much enjoyed the view from this vantage point close to the water. Deck 1 provided the gangway for most ports of call, and also housed the Medical Center. Social Activities Onboard Perhaps nothing is more personal than the activities selected when one has free time. The Constellation offers a variety of directed and non-directed choices, from movies and bingo to the library, card room, and listening gallery. We selected only a few of the wide range of offerings and found all our time enjoyably occupied. We attended about half of half the nightly shows, my brother and his wife attended all of most of them and rated them excellent. For my part, I would wake up early every morning and walk a few miles on deck. Then we'd have breakfast and in this port-intensive itinerary would spend a half day of sightseeing. We'd return in time for spa lunch in the Thalassotherapy pool area. After lunch, I'd go out again for some last minute shopping. Returning back midafternoon, we'd have time for more deck walking and a workout at the gym, then shower and dress for main seating dinner. Ours was always one of the last tables to finish, often running to two hours each night of everybody gabbing. Our wait staff, Kaya and Monica, never showed any impatience over this behavior even though they clearly had work to do re-setting the table for late seating, and on one night Kaya even put forward a considerable effort folding paper napkins into long stemmed roses for each of the ladies at the table. In addition to our foursome, our table included Farrell and Micky, a retired couple who travel as opportunity permits, and Steve and his son Brendan from Green Bay, and two empty chairs. This was not our initial table assignment as despite calls to Celebrity prior to the boarding, we were not initially seated with my brother and his wife, and so we had to have our table assignment corrected on boarding. This table of ten was oval rather than round, resulting in two separate conversations occurring at each end. It took some effort each evening to rearrange ourselves to give each equal time seated near others. After dinner, we would catch the show or go to a movie or watch a movie in the room before going to sleep. We were invited to a few early evening cocktail parties, including one for members of the Captain's Club and another for Repeaters. At each of these parties, a waiter at the door offered flutes of Champagne and glasses of wine. These drinks had been poured some time in advance, and unfortunately had warmed to room temperature. After the first party, we made a point of ordering drinks instead. On all occasions we were promptly served custom drinks, and never were left with an empty glass for very long before one or several staff members stopped to ask if we needed another or to make sure we had been served. As a result of this quality of attention, on several days we were able to wend our way directly from the party into the dining room for dinner, fresh drinks in hand. Perhaps this saddened our sommelier, but we were quite happy not to incur the cost of drinks with dinner. I'd like to dispel any sense that we are cheap tightwads, by saying that we used the money saved this way to supplement the recommended tips to our cabin steward and wait staff. Going the Extra Mile Two of our tablemates were big water sports fans and booked excursions every day. One intriguing option for them was the BOB (Breathing Observation Bubble) excursion in St. Thomas. Even though they tried to book this the first day, it had sold out rapidly. A couple of days later, they were notified that staff had arranged to put together another BOB group and were they still interested? Our dinner conversation on the way out of St. Thomas was dominated by their excited description of these odd scuba-esque scooters, and how pleased they were that the shore excursion staff had been able to accommodate this additional group. The first trip to the buffet, one of the Celebrity staff was posted by the elevators to direct passengers toward the buffet. I thought this was a nice touch for newly embarked passengers. I was surprised to see this person posted there every day, every meal, making sure people did not have even a momentary sense of dislocation. Noted Improvements In the several years since Celebrity was acquired by Royal Caribbean as part of an ongoing consolidation in the industry, there has been on every cruise a continuing fear and grumbling about whether the quality of food, service, and the overall experience has declined. This discussion continues and nothing in this review will likely alter the opinions of many of the discussants. However, this cruise put to rest in our own mind the idea that the line is in major decline. We saw many small improvements that directly relate to prior passenger concerns and felt that the food we ate on this week equaled the quality of our original knock-your-socks-off cruise experience. Here are some things we noticed: Signage pointed the way to coffee during hours when the buffet drink stations were closed. There were always coffee cups available, something I've had to chase down crew members to obtain on other ships on occasion. The printed "good night" cards left on our pillows along with chocolates now are whimsical children's drawings depicting "dreams at sea," part of Celebrity's sponsorship of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There's greater variety and broader placement of artwork in cabin hallways and stairwells. Personally, I found the pieces created a strong contemplative state of mind. On the first day, it was great fun observing passengers' reactions as they wandered past the gorilla and fish sculpture above the main pools. I would have enjoyed a brochure describing all the artwork, the artists, and the any underlying ideas and themes in their selection. Perhaps something like this could be found at Guest Relations, but I neglected to ask. This cruise made better use of the cinema. The movie of the day was shown several times, and sometimes two movies were shown on the same day. A lecturer provided intellectual stimulus for those among us feeling news starved. Bruno Wassertheil had been a radio correspondent in Jerusalem for over twenty years. He offered three lectures on the current situation in the Middle East creating a true "enrichment series" as billed in the Constellation Daily. The Decline of the AquaSpa If there was one area where this cruise showed serious decline over past cruises, it was in the management of the superb fitness and health area. The "AquaSpa by Elemis," seems to be devolving into a shop for Elemis products and spa services and only peripherally to continue to include some square feet of public passenger space devoted to health and exercise. It was unclear why there were four persons behind the reception desk, as their presence did not improve the speed or efficiency of booking appointments or matching clients with their assigned spa staff. The waiting area near the desk had only a couple of chairs, so clients were directed to a set of chairs around a corner, where a state of "out of sight, out of mind" existed. My own appointment, made within minutes of boarding to assure a spot on the day at sea, was misallocated to another person despite my checking in with the reception desk three separate times. The error was not even acknowledged nor verified for more than a quarter hour, while my massage minutes were being chewed up through staff mismanagement. This mistake meant that the "consultation sheet" which I had filled out and which included my full name and cabin number was used in the initial "consultation" with a completely different person who had no appointment for that day and time and who clearly was not even asked if she was the person who had filled out the form just a few minutes earlier. Of course, with this level of quality control, she did not receive the spa service she had originally booked, and I lost my appointment with my assigned masseuse. Ultimately, another masseuse was located and though I did not have a stop watch and cannot say whether I received a 50-minute massage, I did receive at least the bulk of my requested service. The entire experience was unnerving, and I received no formal apology or compensation for this problem, while my the bill included a ten-percent built-in gratuity. I wrote up a long comment on the incident, including my name and cabin number, and submitted it to Guest Relations that evening. I never heard back on my comment, and do not know if it was even forwarded to the AquaSpa management. In addition to my personal trouble, there were other signs of a switch from a health club onboard to a superstore selling health- and beauty-related products. More than half the group classes were fee-based. Personal trainers were available for a charge, but often no one seemed available for even a few minutes' explanation of equipment or assistance with free weights. Celebrity once offered a fitness program with punch cards that passengers could fill with cruise staff walk-alongs or fitness staff classes, thereby earning points exchangeable on the last day for t-shirts or hats, but this program has been discontinued. Friendly trainers have been replaced with Elemis product salespeople. These changes send a message that fitness is not for everybody, costs extra, and there's no point getting started on a cruise; impressions, sadly, being generated on a ship with the finest fitness center and equipment we've ever enjoyed at sea. Ports of Call There are only a few things we'd like to include about the ports of call, particularly since many changes are occurring in which ports are going to be used, even for the rest of this current season in the Caribbean. One unexpected and unanticipated plus in our particular itinerary this week was the absence of other big cruise ships in port with the Constellation in all stops save St. Thomas and starting/ending in San Juan. This meant the streets were not jammed with tourists and we were able to join many local residents when meandering through downtown districts, improving each port's local flavor and hopefully diminishing the negative impacts associated when cruisers arrive in swarms. Most importantly, we had a terrific time in Old San Juan and are quite happy that at the turn of events that resulted in our staying there four nights. St. Croix is being dropped, but we enjoyed our day in Christiansted visiting the fort, enjoying a cool drink on the boardwalk, and shopping. St. Lucia has the best batik store I've ever seen, combined with the best prices imaginable. It's called Caribelle Batik, and you'll need to take a taxi there. We were charged about twice what I would think was a fair rate, but we were late getting going after lunch and didn't want to risk getting stranded somewhere and missing the boat. In my mind it turned out to be fair because he ended up waiting nearly an hour while we tried on things and looked at the various outfits which included casual and business attire in cotton and silk, all made locally. On Barbados, I took my only Celebrity-sponsored shore excursion, the Kayak and Turtle Encounter. I selected this excursion and its early morning time slot in part because I knew it would be arduous and thought the exertion and the time of day would make it less desirable to the majority of passengers thus resulting in a more intimate experience. There were only nine on our excursion, three couples, two friends, and me. The three persons who drove our boat, explained local life, snorkeled and kayaked with us, talked about everything and nothing for hours. In addition to experiencing sea kayaking (me for the first time), we snorkeled in stunningly azure waters about twenty feet deep where turtles visit because they are being fed. A number of other small groups were also snorkeling to view the turtles. Each time one appeared, everybody got quite excited which naturally resulted in the turtle turning tail and slowly swimming away to calmer waters. I had a great time, was able to follow one turtle for some distance and touched another. After the snorkeling, we took the boat back to the ship, a pleasant half-hour or hour ride during which we listened to ancient and familiar party music, drank beer, soda or rum punch, and shared tasty seemingly homemade banana bread. Truly a highlight of the trip. We enjoyed visiting the local historical sites in St. John's, Antigua, walking distance from the pier. There's a small museum, a cathedral up the hill with a flower-filled cemetery out front and a chapel with a World War I propeller fashioned into an overhead light, and good shopping on Redcliffe Quay. Too late to improve my looks that last formal night, I found a beauty salon where I could've got a manicure/pedicure for about half the cost on the ship. On previous cruises, we have enjoyed wandering around Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We had a practice of finding a shady or breezy viewpoint where we could enjoy a cool drink and watch activities in the harbor, before browsing for small trinkets or sweets downtown. All the places where we used to do this no longer allow cruisers these simple pleasures. Most notably, both the 1829 Hotel and the Inn at Blackbeard's Castle are now owned by the same person, who closes the former location's patio till 4 pm and charges $12 to visit the national landmark of Blackbeard's Castle, which formerly was unfenced and a free site to visit. Next time, we won't even leave the boat at St. Thomas, or will get off solely to take the water taxi to visit St. John. This is a special loss for us as it was St. Thomas where we arrived on the first morning of our first cruise, and were enchanted by birdsong in the main harbor. Now, at Havensight, we hear only the ceaseless noise of nearby machinery and the welcome mat for cruisers has been rolled up tight. Foreign travel is not as carefree as it was just a few years ago. The added security provided by the cruise line has been automated thorough measures such as photos taken upon embarkation so whenever we came back on board each of us would put our Celebrity signature card into the machine and our picture would pop up onscreen. All hand luggage went through an x-ray similar to those at the airports. This automation meant that despite the added security, we experience no lines getting on and off the ship. Before docking in St. Thomas, everyone was required to present identification and be individually verified by US officials. Each cabin was given an assigned time and place to show up. In our case this process took less than two minutes, but my brother and his wife were not so fortunate, and for whatever reason those assigned their time ended up waiting nearly a half hour for Customs officials to view and approve their identities. A Sidebar on NLV This cruise occurred with peaking media coverage of Norwalk-like virus numbers reported on several cruise ships. At ports of call, locals offered inaccurate assessments of viral outbreaks, such as a taxi driver who said, "Germs are floating off the boat and making people sick," and a hotel clerk who said, "We have to have the air conditioning on high to protect against the cruise ship people who are coming to the hotel." Cruise management more correctly noted that the best defense was thorough hand washing and reduced personal contact. It seemed to work, as everyone talked about how much they were washing their hands, and I saw less evidence of colds, coughs, and other maladies than on other cruises. Disembarkation The saddest time on a good cruise is when one has to leave the ship. This was the smoothest disembarkation ever in San Juan. On prior cruises, hallways were clogged with luggage on the last night and in the morning everybody sat in crowded lounges for long periods of time. Unlike earlier trips, on this cruise the crew collected luggage throughout the evening so the halls stayed mostly clear. After breakfast in the dining room, we were virtually alone in the Thalassotherapy pool area for less than fifteen minutes before our color group was called. The final Constellation Daily noted that it might take till 10 a.m. or later for the ship to be cleared to allow people to begin to get off, but the process went much faster. Color groups also included numbers, and our luggage was in the precise color and number group location, plus our three bags remained together. Again, because of our frequent flier tickets, we spent two more nights at the Wyndham Old San Juan before flying home. This gave us time to visit the second major fort, do some final shopping of nice things we saw the week early while saving our spending money for ports of call, and have a great last night's supper at the Cafeteria Mallorca. We also caught up on our web surfing at Soapy's just across from Pier 3 and down the street from the Wyndham (Soapy's also has a cafe in St. Thomas on the 2nd floor of the Guardian Bldg on Frenchman's Bay Road above the Budget Car Rental estimate about 10 minutes walk from the dock in Havensight but we didn't learn this till back in San Juan so didn't stop there.) This terrific little facility contains about 20 terminals; you buy an access card for the approximate time you want (six dollars for 50 minutes, for instance.) Soapy's also has two DHCP data ports so if you have your laptop, you just attach and go, billed at $2.50 per half hour increment, a sixth of the cost on the ship, not begrudging the cost or the value of the satellite service onboard. I have left out many aspects of the cruise thinking that I've tried the reader's patience with this already long review. I hope you find it helpful and have a terrific cruise on the Constellation or wherever you may go. cmhoriuc@pacbell.net March 2003 Read Less
Western Europe Perhaps the greatest impact the cruise ship "Constellation" had on me was seeing a chandelier made by glass artist Dale Chahuly (he aptly named his work "Constellation Chandelier 2002"). It was hanging ... Read More
Western Europe Perhaps the greatest impact the cruise ship "Constellation" had on me was seeing a chandelier made by glass artist Dale Chahuly (he aptly named his work "Constellation Chandelier 2002"). It was hanging over a beautiful red velvet settee named " Tatlin" made by Italian artists Rocky Semprini and Mario Caransi. The items were in a walk-in glass tower in the upper deck of the ship. I caught a glimpse of the work of art through the tower's glass roof, just about sunset. The sun's rays touched numerous fingers of the chandelier and the effect was magical and radiant. The enchanting sight utterly enraptured me. It is part of a contemporary art collection that tastefully abounds on the ship. The Constellation is a friendly ship. Passengers and crew alike greeted each other with a smile and a hearty hail when they meet. The captain plus his officers are Greek, the cruise staff are American /European and the hotel staff are at least 50 nationalities. I made an effort to know the names of everyone I met on the ship specially the hotel personnel and greeted them in their indigenous tongue. I learned to say please, thank you, hello, goodbye, good morning, good night in Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Croatian, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Indonesian, Thai, Hindi, Arabic, and in Filipino which is my native tongue. They all spoke English and didn't hesitate to teach you new foreign words when asked. Food on the Constellation was superb. It was extremely well prepared and beautifully presented. Each dish was a work of art. The bread & pastry were baked to delicate perfection. The ship made their own ice cream and it tasted homemade. It came in exotic flavors like teramisu, rum raisin, cinnamon, guava, mango and other fruit flavor. They served it behind two immaculate counters in bowls or oversized cones. We dined at the San Marco Restaurant that could seat 1170 people in two floors, and the buffet style Seaside Cafe that could hold 754 casual diners. My favorite place to eat was the Aqua Dome Cafe that I did not discover until two days before leaving the ship. They served light and healthy breakfasts and lunches. A chef cooks ala-carte meals to order. I still savor the grilled tilapia and vegetables lunch today. I met a man from North Carolina at breakfast one morning. Over eggs- benedict we discussed the relative merits of the food served on the ship. " Superior and very fresh", is the way he described it. He was on his 50th cruise. Although outclassed by 27 cruises I have a tendency to agree with him. Alexj from the Ukraine was our waiter and Adrian his assistant was Romanian. These two were experts in their craft. They went about serving us dinner like choreographed ballet dancers. They were a joy to behold in action. They left not a thing out of place. We shared our meals with two congenial couples from Southern California. Betty spoke French fluently and her husband Earl was with a team that photographed nuclear tests in the Pacific. They roam the U.S and Canada in their motor home, when not cruising. Maggie and Fred loved to dance and were very good at it. Maggie is a retired real estate person and Fred an old WW2 veteran. Fernando our cabin steward and his assistant Oliver were both from the Philippines. They did their work well and effortlessly. The mirrored walls were spotless. The bathroom gleamed and always stocked with neatly folded towels. A basket of fresh fruit, a water pitcher and a bucket of ice were replenished daily. The bed was already made-up when we returned to the cabin from breakfast (no matter how early). The cabin (the hotel preferred to call it stateroom) was always squeaky-clean. Cabin 3023 deck 3 was our address for the two-week cruise of Western Europe. It had about 135 square feet of space, a shower, a double bed, a writing desk, ample closet space for our two 30 inch suitcases. A large porthole gave us a good view of the ocean and made the room bright & cheerful. The 110-volt ac outlet came in handy when charging camcorder or digital camera batteries. An interactive color TV that we seldom used except to check our bills. The cabin was quiet and well insulated from outside sounds. Discreet use of the ubiquitous shipboard P.A. system made a welcomed difference in noise level. (The cabin number identified you, when checking out books from the library, using the Internet (50 cents a minute, free printing) laundry ($5.50 to dry clean a jacket that cost $7.50 at home), charging drinks etc.) Deck 3 also called the plaza deck, housed a 24 hour guest relations desk, a bank which dispensed foreign currency, the ship excursion desk, a cinema, that doubled as a chapel where Father Walter Kersey an elderly priest from San Diego celebrated Catholic Mass daily and various meeting rooms. Deck 3 amidships also located the grand foyer where an imposingly majestic onyx staircase stood uniting deck 3 with the upper levels. Bosco from India is the ship's librarian. He is impeccably dressed and looks very preppy. He is friendly, cheerful, helpful, and very knowledgeable. He keeps track of his books and keeps them under lock and key when he is not on duty. He is very liberal with books donated by passengers to the library. Some passengers forget to return borrowed books when they leave the ship. His demeanor reflects the attitude of the staff specially the guest relations' people who are eager to help passengers without patronizing them. The photo people need a bit of improvement. They have an annoying habit of rousting diners for an unwanted group picture while your soup is getting cold. The 416 capacity Reflections nightclub with its spectacular ocean and land views operated from 5pm till dawn and seldom used during daytime. It provided a haven for quiet reading or snoozing. Amanda a harpist from Wales played lovely harp melodies from classical Chopin to modern Gershwin at the Cova Cafe. They served cappuccino or a glass of wine as you listen to the soothing strings of her harp. The Scherzando Quartet from Poland also performed at the cafe. Tony Pastor a passenger from Batangas, Philippines vacationing with his family discovered an unused piano at the cafe. Much to delight of the ship he played classical music flawlessly on the piano and sang Italian arias with a beautiful tenor voice. He always attracted a bevy of admiring listeners whenever he performed. Celebrity cruises has refined "people moving" to a science. It used two gangways when the ship docked or anchored. This system minimized congestion and gridlock common to other ships. A free shuttle bus provided by the ship while in port ran every 30 minutes to the center of town. It was greatly appreciated by passengers who wanted to explore ports on their own. Our 13-night Western Europe Cruise aboard the Constellation ended on the 13th day of September 2002. Celebrity Cruises stands out because of their attention to the smallest detail. Even to their choice of font and gold lettering of "The Constellation Daily" reflects the subdued elegance that the Constellation is. The GTS (gas turbine system) Constellation is a 91,000 ton, 964 feet, 999 crew and 1950 full passenger capacity cruise ship, flying the Liberian flag and is owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. A French shipbuilder made the vessel and launched by Celebrity Cruises in May 2002. philreamon@aol.comOctober 2002 Read Less
I am a refugee from Renaissance Cruises. While I enjoyed the Constellation on the August 31 sailing from Dover to Barcelona, and depending on itinerary and price I may cruise Celebrity in the future, I don't think that Celebrity is ... Read More
I am a refugee from Renaissance Cruises. While I enjoyed the Constellation on the August 31 sailing from Dover to Barcelona, and depending on itinerary and price I may cruise Celebrity in the future, I don't think that Celebrity is my new cruising home. I found that Celebrity has some strong plusses (the Cova Cafe, the Seaside buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and the free shuttle busses), but there were also some minuses (dEcor in the public rooms, noise in the San Marco restaurant.) Part of my problem, of course, is that I miss the non-smoking, child-free atmosphere of Renaissance, which ironically was changing those policies when it went bankrupt. Ship The Constellation is only a few months old and beautifully maintained, but the public rooms were too glitzy for my taste. The only room that I thought tried for understated elegance was the Ocean Liners Restaurant, and even there some of the pictures of ocean liners looked as though they had been clipped from travel posters. The art work generally in the ship was non-representational and I thought poor examples of the form. The San Marco Restaurant was over the top with color, lights, and adornment, especially brass. I also thought the restaurant was noisy, which is probably to be expected since it seats 1,170. I was seated on the fifth deck balcony of the restaurant. I was alert to vibrations because other posters on these boards had mentioned them. The only times I could feel anything at all-and it was insignificant--was when we pushed away from a dock. (I was at the early seating.) Others on the ship told me that vibrations were noticeable in front of the large windows aft on the fourth deck. The cabins were more to my taste: light colored paneling, mirrors, straightforward furnishings. The effect was cheery and bright. Closet and drawer space was satisfactory, and the bedside lights were strong enough for reading which is important to me. My cabin was on the Continental Deck. I was never bothered by vibrations or noise, but there was a racket when we dropped anchor in Villefranche. The rubber anchor chain has yet to be invented. I spoke with a couple of ships officers about the past problems with the propulsion pods. From what I was told, the failures of the pods were due to assembly shortcomings and not design or engineering adequacy. The pods have been put together correctly now and should continue to operate as designed (although an engineering officer admitted his department was keeping a close eye on them.) Service I found the staff to be up to the par of Holland America, Windstar, or Renaissance. That is a high par to be at and they all seem about equal to me. We had one special needs child aboard, and I cannot imagine how the dining room staff could have been more attentive in bringing him special foods and giving him extra attention. Their concern for his comfort and well-being was unfeigned. Food and Wine The Seaside buffet is the best of its kind that I have ever been to at sea. I put together some excellent light lunches of soup and salad at the buffet, and I particularly recommend the gazpacho. These lunches helped me end the cruise without gaining weight. At breakfast there was an ample assortment of fruit (the melons were perfectly ripe), yogurts with accompaniments, cereal, and a range of diet-busting croissants, brioche, eggs and breakfast meats. I will admit to having eggs Benedict twice in the San Marco dining room, and the second time they were better than the first. I found the restaurant was better with straightforward main dishes than more elaborate ones, and my meals improved as I learned what I considered the San Marco's strengths. Rack of lamb and even the Chateaubriand were excellent, but dishes with more elaborate preparation or sauces were not as good, and the duck was an example. I thought this was true too in the Ocean Liners restaurant, where the lamb would have been better without its pastry wrapping. I am glad I tried Ocean Liners, but I did not go back. I owe a debt to other posters for information on wine, particularly NHCruisers. Thank you. The information was correct. I brought aboard bottles at Vigo, Lisbon, and Palma, and never had the slightest problem. My practice was to read the dinner menu posted outside the San Marco and give the appropriate bottle to the Room Steward along with the table number and sitting. The bottle appeared at the dinner table, chilled if required, and I was charged $12 which was cheap considering the overpriced wine list on the Constellation. I invited the excellent sommelier to try the wine with us. He was a fount of information and liked trying new wines. I learned a great deal, especially about albarinos, and I like to think the sommelier may have picked up one or two pointers too. Cova Cafe This venue was my favorite by a wide margin. After dinner the Scherzando Quartet treated the Cova to old standards; or Amanda Whiting, a talented charmer, would play the harp. It is a wonderful cafe with some of the best espresso I have had. Entertainment The cruise director, Ray Carr, has come in for some knocks on this board for not being seen around the ship, but my experience was that he runs a good program. Amanda Whiting, the Scherzando, Karen & Carl in the Rendez-Vous, and the other groups had the support they needed. The entertainment programs ran smoothly, including a midnight buffet on deck, and I enjoyed his TV programs. I want the cruise director to be working for me, not to be seen by me. Lindsay Hamilton's two shows were high points the cruise, and she is the best singer I have heard on any cruise. I don't usually like "Broadway-style" or "Las Vegas-style" shows (do Broadway or Las Vegas have "Cruise-style" shows?), but if you like them you will like what the Constellation offers. An Irish comedian on the last night, whose name I did not catch, was a side-splitter. The enrichment lectures I thought were nowhere near as good as Holland America does, but I have it on good authority that the florist aboard gives talks that should not be missed by anyone with an interest in flowers. I also had a nice tour of the galley which I inquired about because of this board. (Bridge tours were not being given for security reasons.) The gymnasium and library were both well run and well equipped. I took a free class in the Excel spread sheet, and learned enough to consider charging off part of the cruise as a legitimate business expense. (Just kidding, IRS, but it was a well taught introduction to Excel.) Embarkation and Debarkation Embarkation was smooth. Thanks to this board I had completed the passenger questionnaire at the Celebrity web site and it was available to the shore staff. I arrived at a little after noon, there was no line, and within minutes I was having lunch at the Seaside buffet. Debarkation was more difficult. My luggage was misplaced twice, once on the pier and for a longer time at the airport, but that was the evil genius of luggage at work and Celebrity's shore personnel were most helpful in locating the bags, particularly Xavier at the airport. Miscellaneous The Constellation generously ran free shuttles from the ship to downtown Zebrugge, Le Harve, Lisbon, Palma, and Livorno. The other ports did not need shuttles. I estimate the busses save passengers about 8 to 10 dollars each way and are a counter-argument to the accusation of nickel and diming. The photographers were usually unobtrusive, which I appreciate, but at Vigo they blocked the bottom of the sole gangway to photograph everyone debarking. This slowed the process and I was just in time to see my train pull out of the Vigo Station for Santiago. Photographers did not block the gangway after Vigo. Thanks to advice I received on this board I brought an old bathing suit for the Thalassotherapy Pool. The bathing suit faded even more but the pool was well worth it. We had one pain-in-the-neck child on the cruise, but that was only to be expected since there were more than 40 aboard. Generally they behaved properly and the youth staff seemed to have enough programs for the youngsters, including a tour behind the scenes at the Celebrity Theatre. On the previous cruise the kids had broken the passengers' ping pong table by sitting on it, but I can see my own children doing that when they were young. I did not take any of the ship's excursions, but if there is any interest in my tours ashore I will be glad to answer questions. Upsilon6@aol.comOctober 2002 Read Less
Celebrity Constellation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

Find a Celebrity Constellation Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise