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Sail Date: February 2015
This was a short cruise to Key West and Cozumel, with two days at sea in between. The Constellation is an extremely nice ship and the same class as the Summit, which we were on as well. While not the newest ship , it has most of the ... Read More
This was a short cruise to Key West and Cozumel, with two days at sea in between. The Constellation is an extremely nice ship and the same class as the Summit, which we were on as well. While not the newest ship , it has most of the features you would want, as well as a nice décor and layout that makes it a very comfortable ship. It has an open deck at the rear, adjacent to the buffet, that is a great place to eat or have a drink. It is not as big as on the Solstice class ships and can get crowded when the weather is nice, which it was throughout this cruise. Docking right in Key West on a not too hot day was a real convenience. The Truman White House, where several significant historic events have taken place, is right next to the cruise port entrance and it was open to the public on this day. Very nice shaded grounds to walk around in and the gift shop had a nice little free historic display. In Cozumel we docked at the remote port instead of the centrally located one in the actual town center of San Miguel. This means you have to take a taxi, which is much less convenient. The port area where we docked is much less interesting, really just tourist shops. As Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus members we understood that we would receive reciprocal level benefits on this Celebrity cruise. However we only received Diamond level benefits. This was disappointing and not very clearly disclosed by RCI. The Elite level nightly reception in the Reflections lounge was very nice, but not as nice as the same level on Royal Caribbean. I can't understand why there is no reception on the first night, like on Royal. The snacks served were pretty lame and not always available, as they are at the buffet on Royal. There were also less choices of beers and other beverages. It was also one and one half hours shorter and there were no credits to use at the other bars as on Royal. The Elite party was held at the rather odd time of the morning. It would have been better to hold it in the evening, when the beverages served would be enjoyed more. It was nice to be on a ship without the pool deck movie screen, but unfortunately they replaced it by having music blasting in the early morning and late evening, making it impossible to sit and converse. Another odd thing was that there was no Caribbean band playing anywhere on the ship. They had a portable disco playing in the lounges and on the pool deck. There were also two women singing some rather non-mainstream types of music and none of the lounge musicians seemed to draw more than a handful of people. The one exception was the female classical string trio, Gran Volta. They also performed a very rock-like show in the theater using electric string instruments. Well done Celebrity! There was no lobster that I could find on the menu and even the bread selection was limited. They had some nice cakes and cupcakes at the buffet and the ice cream counter was good, although both seemed to lack any rich flavor. The freshly made waffles at the buffet were great, as usual. Celebrity' pizza is the best. But overall the buffet food lacked the variety and presentation of even the small ships on Royal. The make your own pasta bar did not even have any meat sauce available. Other than sushi there was very little in the way of Asian foods and curries. Even the hamburger grill on the pool deck lacked flavor, although the French fries were good. No afternoon tea, even in the buffet. The second production show was cancelled due to technical problems and replaced with a variety show. Jane Curry put on a very good cabaret show with her singing. There was no "meet the stars" opportunity on this ship. The one production show performed was good. The Captain put on a good talk about how modern ships are constructed and answered questions afterward. He was very personable and has quite a sense of humor. The cabin was fine except for the fact that the dust ruffle on the bed was full of holes and mostly in shreds. I cannot believe they have not replaced it. There were only about two trivia games each day and the prizes have become practically insulting. We heard that the ship had a reduced number of cruise staff and that seemed to be the case. Embarkation was the slowest and most disorganized I have seen in a long time. The Elite line just seemed to feed into the regular lines and you had to go in another line to register your credit card. Never had to do that before. This was very enjoyable cruise, but I have to say that since Celebrity went to the Modern Luxury concept it has resulted in some updated style but much less luxury.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Let me start out by saying this is our second Celebrity Cruise. We started on the Century then tried Princess and Carnival. We have always used the Celebrity Cruise as our benchmark so my expectations where high. We had a C1 stateroom 6144 ... Read More
Let me start out by saying this is our second Celebrity Cruise. We started on the Century then tried Princess and Carnival. We have always used the Celebrity Cruise as our benchmark so my expectations where high. We had a C1 stateroom 6144 and the balcony was huge. Three times the length of a normal balcony so this is a room to get. It was quiet and in a good spot. Check in at Ft Lauderdale was excellent and we were on the ship in half an hour tops. Sorry to say we get no priority check in with Concierge any longer. Took until 1 to get to the room and met our room stewart shortly after. He seemed eager to please at that time. We had sparkling wine in room...no more flowers and asked him to empty fridge and fill ice bucket and he did. We had classic package for drinks and hubby ordered a corona to be told they didn't have any so they suggested a dos equis he said sure and they proceeded to charge him as this is not in the classic package....might have told him prior to opening and serving. He went to complain and ended up upgrading, not sure it was necessary but was off on a bad foot. When arriving there was debris on our balcony and our chairs were dirty. Never cleaned during the cruise and our balcony tables were never wiped down. One evening we went to dinner came back to freshen up and our room was not turned down etc but we went back out. Returned at midnight...room not cleaned....no towels. Called housekeeping and they said we must have left the DO NOT DISTURB sign in place.....no we did not. They delivered two bath towels and that was it. We had to give them our dirty towels, no apology. Had anytime dining and that was a mess. We make reservations prior to sailing and waited in line each night for at least 20 minutes. No reservations waited and got a buzzer and were able to sit and have a drink while waiting. One night we tried to get a buzzer and were told no go as we had reservations so we had to wait. Food was either good or really bad. Service in dining room was acceptable but not what we were used to. Entertainment was good. We enjoyed the variety of shows and the improv duo was great. Game shows are fun and the Captain was very entertaining. Cruise director was good but seemed to be stretched VERY THIN. Three in total in his staff including him! Buffet was not organized and you could not reach food in the back. People were using tongs and dropping into the food so was not happy with that. Ate in Ocean Liners and that was excellent for service and for the quality of the food. Bistro on five we ate three times and food was good. Same server each time but again she was on her own, felt bad for her. Café Bachio was a great great spot. Loved the teas and iced teas and pastries but again the people here were understaffed and did their best. Martini bar was FANTASTIC. These guys are not only bartenders but fantastic entertainment. Punta is the BEST! Condition of ship was so so. Lots of rust on railings, room had dirt spots on curtains, sliding doors, walls and mold in shower. Worst cruise shower I have had. No place for you to rest your foot in order to shave legs. Canapes in room in afternoon please don't bother. I had green olives EVERY day along with a square of watermelon with cream cheese. I tiny blob of hummus and pita chips. Not worth the concierge class charge. In fact my upgraded bathrobe had two holes in it! Disembarkation we did walk off as we had an early flight. Very disorganized no room to wrap a line around. Had one person lugging an oxygen tank and trying to carry their own luggage?? Ports were wonderful. Tender in St Barts was horrendous for some, we had no problem as we went down early. St Croix was beautiful and San Juan was a joy. Our hours there I would avoid as we arrived at 7 AM and nothing opens until 10 AM. We left at 2PM so our stay was too short. Not a fan of private islands but Labadee seemed beautiful but avoid the marketplace as you will be harassed by the vendors non stop. Two ships in Labadee so that caused some congestion but people seemed to enjoy (not my cup of tea). The ship seemed to have a LOT of elderly people, not sure if it was the time of year or the ports or what but just be aware of the potential demographics on the ship. I had a good time but will avoid the Constellation in the future. I think Celebrity might be cutting back to much on staff. I ordered shrimp cocktail and got FOUR SMALL SHRIMP each time. Come on Celebrity really??? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
This is my 2nd time (and last time) on the Constellation and 7th Celebrity cruise. This ship is in terrible shape. The furnishings in the public areas are in tattered disrepair. The fabrics are literally worn off the furniture so there are ... Read More
This is my 2nd time (and last time) on the Constellation and 7th Celebrity cruise. This ship is in terrible shape. The furnishings in the public areas are in tattered disrepair. The fabrics are literally worn off the furniture so there are bald spots. The room was not much better with rust in the grout in the bathroom and a moldy shower curtain. Having been now on Celebrity many times, they have cut back on the amenities. No cotton ball/Q-tip container. Instead, you get nothing unless you ask, and then you only get a 2-pack of cotton balls and Q-tips. Not a big deal, but you notice these things as the price of cruising continues to rise and they strip away the small stuff. Also, no pen and pad of paper in the room--this used to be standard. The TV room service program was not working, so they sent someone with another TV. Well.....it's not the TV, it's the programming. Duh! The battery in the in-room safe was dead, so the safe did not work. They sent another mechanic for that. Stay out of room 9109. Embarkation was a cluster mess even though I have priority check-in as a platinum member. Disembarkation was easy, since I stayed on the ship literally till they called my name to kick me off. My flight wasn't until 4 p.m. so I wasn't in a hurry to get off the ship. The food was the worst! Lobster bisque is more like lobster broth, with no trace of lobster. Steaks are tough and rubbery. I love to try all kinds of food, but I found that I needed to order two entrees at dinner just to have the hope that I could eat something off of each plate. That's really sad! The only dessert that is consistently good on Celebrity cruises is the creme brulee. The cake-style desserts were very dry and lacked good flavor. The buffet was hit or miss on good tasting food. If you can get your entree prepared fresh (omelette station or stir fry), that seemed to be the best way to get a tasty meal. I got tired of trying to hunt down a good meal so I went to room service. Boy, that was a mistake! The burgers and chicken sandwiches were dried out, the breakfast orders were made completely wrong and they gave me cream and sugar but no coffee. Really?? Nobody noticed that before sending it out? The shows were barely adequate, if not a bit lame. We had very smooth sailing seas, therefore, no swaying stage, so there was no excuse for the performers not to be in perfect step. Didn't do anything in Nassau except walk and shop and went to Senor Frog's. Fun place with great rum drinks and lots of dancing and singing. Took the "Taste of Key West" tour from the ship excursion. Well worth it for a food sampling tour. You visit a few of the establishments and you get a sampling of their food. Our walking tour guide was very informative and friendly and stopped along the way to give you some history of the area. The tour is a couple hours long. Not on this tour but was featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives is DJ's Clam Shack on Duval Street in Key West. I made my way down there to try their lobster roll. The BEST lobster roll I've ever had. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Celebrity Constellation / 8 Day Cruise 1/16 - 1/24 Before I begin my review, a little about us.  We are in our mid fifties and this is our sixth cruise in the past nine years.  All of the previous cruises were on Princess. I will point ... Read More
Celebrity Constellation / 8 Day Cruise 1/16 - 1/24 Before I begin my review, a little about us.  We are in our mid fifties and this is our sixth cruise in the past nine years.  All of the previous cruises were on Princess. I will point out differences, likes and dislikes of Celebrity and Princess.  If I am critical, please know it's just constructive criticism.  I love to cruise and always enjoy my cruises.   I am amazed at the people that I think just try to find something to complain about.  Ft. Lauderdale: We flew in late the day before the cruise.  I booked a room on Travel Pony at the Springhill Suites in Dania Beach.  The price was a great deal $127.00 a night.  We called the hotel when we landed and the shuttle (a Mercedes Van) was there to pick us up within 5 minutes.  So much of the pick up by hotels at the Lauderdale airport is a matter of timing, ours was good this particular day.  We were greeted by a very friendly hotel staff when we arrived. They gave us bottled water and answered questions about our stay at the hotel. We have never stayed in this area before.  There is a huge shopping center with lots of stores and restaurants just across the highway.  There's a K-Mart for those last minute purchases (water sox for us). We didn't think their wine selection was great but since we had the beverage package, it didn't matter to us.  We were going to go to one of the restaurants in the shopping center when another guest at the hotel recommended the Rustic Inn.  We took a cab and had a great time.  Their specialty is crabs and if you haven't been there, don't go with a headache.  Everyone is given a mallet to pound the crabs or pound to celebrate the birthday or anniversary of one of the diners.  I didn't think of Uber when we went to dinner but we did use Uber for the ride back.  Highly recommend it, it was 1/2 the price of a taxi. The hotel provides a nice breakfast, eggs, meats, pancakes, and all of the normal hotel breakfast items.  The hotel also provides free transportation to the port.  The shuttle time for our cruise was 11:45.  Since you can't get into your cabins on Celebrity until later, we decided to take advantage of the free shuttle.   All in all this was a great hotel deal, nice room, free cruise port and airport transportation, as well as breakfast.  I will book this location again.   Embarkation  I didn't look at my watch when to see what time it was when we walked in the cruise terminal, I'm guessing around 12:15.  We departed from the new terminal #4.  It was very nice, it's a long walk from where you drop your luggage to the check in area.  The check in line was somewhat long, guessing it took us about 45 minutes to get through check in.   We were Concierge Class but really never saw a check in line for these guests. Departure Day Enjoyed the glass of champagne or mimosa when boarding the ship. Off to the buffet, to find it was VERY crowded.  There was no where to sit, I am guessing we walked around for five minutes before we could find a place to sit. I should have listed to everyone on Cruise Critic and gone to Bistro on Five.  The buffet is set up in stations and I've read nothing but good comments about how much people like it.  Me, not so much.  I felt like by the time you found what you wanted,, the first items you picked up were cold.  I'd read a lot of comments saying the food was better on the buffet on Celebrity than Princess.  I didn't find that to be the case, I thought it was good but not great.  The one difference, I really liked was the nice selection cheese, sliced per your request.  I wish this was offered in the evening buffet. Bar service was pretty limited in the buffet, overall we found it a bit sparse everywhere but still managed to get our monies worth out of the drink package. (More on that later). We missed Princess having waiters everywhere to bring you water or take a drink order.  Cabins were announced to be ready at 1:15. The welcome bottle of champagne for concierge level room is a nice touch, we saved ours for later in the cruise.     Walked around the ship to learn the lay of the land. Went to find the drink of the day which was listed to be at Cellar Masters on deck five. Bartender (Borris) told us it was not this bar couldn't make it.  He was a wine bar and didn't have the ingredients. Really made no apologies like it was our fault that we were asking for something he could make.  Settled on a drink at the pool bar waited 5 minutes. Lady across from a said she had been waiting 20 minutes. Didn't meet room steward until around 6:00, Anthony.  He was a fine cabin steward.  We really didn't have any requests, so not much to comment on here. Muster Drill We arrived right before the drill started and the room was packed.  First time we've ever seen passengers show up so early for a muster!!!  Muster you do not have to wear your life jacket or even take your lifejacket.  It was VERY crowded and other than showing how to put on the life jackets, there wasn't much to the presentation.  Much less than Princess. Cabin 9181 - Cabin larger than Princess. Thinking more like a mini?  Small couch in the room.  Unfortunately, ours was awful, when you sat on it, you sank to the bottom. The closet is in the "hallway" and creates congestion between closet and bathroom. Bathroom about same size.  Shower larger but difficult to figure out the hot water, you have to push in the button.   Light in bathroom stays on all time, I think? Nice to look at bill on TV, seemed less channels than Princess.  Also, really lacking in the navigation information shown on the TV on Princess.  I really like to know how far we have gone and where we have to go, the seas, the temperature etc.  Coming back at night and reading the next days activities along with looking at that channel are my way to end the day.   Balcony:  Ours had a covered overhang , the pillars were somewhat in the way of photos.  Really ike the cement verses rubber floor on Princess, much more comfortable. Chocolate cookie on pillow first formal night, no mints. Hair dryer, need a rubber band to keep it on.  Thanks to my Cruise Critic friends for letting me know this tip. Bed was very comfortable, more so than Princess. Theater Nice to have tables for drinks in front of your seats. Not much bar service.   Shows were good to very good.  Really enjoyed the two comedians.  Can't remember two comedians on a cruise before.  Production Shows, Comedians(2),  Juggler, Pianist, Liars Club Casino Casino crowded.  Love non smoking.  Slots seem looser. Dinner We had anytime dining.  I  made reservations on line in advance for most nights.  We had to change a few nights around and were able to get right in or wait in the bar with a pager.  We never waited longer than 15 minutes. Dining room hosts didn't seem as accommodating as Princess.  Warm in dining room and theater! Water was bad, really musty tasting first night.  Did get better then bad again.  Since we had the drink package, we requested bottled water. Dinner service fluctuated between bad and good.  We had a couple of great waiters and a couple not so great, never coming back to check on us after meal was served.  Food we thought overall was very similar to Princess.  I missed Princess Fettuccini Alfredo and my husband prefers the Caesar Salad on Princess.  Desserts, I think are better on Princess. Martini bar Very entertaining and those guys pour a strong drink.  Fun place to stop at night. Cafe al Bacio Beautiful setting.  Nice touches, plates,  cups etc.  Pastries divine.  Friendliest crew on the ship, always call you by name. Like how it's in a somewhat secluded location, not like international cafe on Princess but missed salads and sandwiches of the IC. Pool 10:15 no trouble finding a spot by the pool.  Perhaps staff watches chair saving better than on Princess? Miss the smaller adult only pool back of ship on Princess. Breakfast/Lunch Buffet very crowded first Sea Day! Line in the dining room long.  Dining room breakfast nothing special, same every day,  Like how Princess has special breakfast entrees. Missed the yogurt that Princess has where you can add your own granola, fruit, etc. We thought the food was good, not great.  Similar to Princess, I think Princess buffet may be better?.  Perhaps desserts better on Princess also.   Pizza very good on Celebrity.  Aqua Spa Cafe, great place for late afternoon (4:00-5:00 pm) snacks. Ship Overall Beautiful art work Dining room. Much more elegant than Princess.   There were more children but never did they interfere with anything we were enjoying.   Concierge class Pillow menu none . Check in line none or we missed it.  Canapés.  None first day.  Second day.  Plate with 4 small sections.  Piece of watermelon olives dip 3 chips.  Hardly worth the effort. Honestly, wouldn't book this class again, if you didn't get better 123 Go benefits for Concierge class or higher. Tuscan grill. Food was wonderful and service excellent    Calamari excellent , goat cheese salad , filet very,  good dessert creme brûlée.  Toffee panacotta amazing.  A bit expensive at $45.00 per person.  Formal Nights / Dress Code Much more dressed up than Princess.   Second formal night, we dined at the  buffet for first time.  Was okay, not great. Some men with just polo style shirts  were allowed in dining room. Couple we met from Canada, he was asked to change when he ame to dinner in shorts.  This would never happen on Princess.  I think this is fine but if they're going to enforce the dress code, they should also enforce on Formal Night and not allow men in the dining room in polo shirts.  Captain and Cruise Director BEST EVER! We want them both on every cruise Drink Package Drink plan we were given the classic package when we booked. We upgraded to premium.  If you're a wine drinker might be hard to find wine on classic. For us, the drink package was a great deal. All the bottled water, soda, coffee, wine and cocktails you can drink up to $13.00. Martini's are $13.00 each and we spent a lot of time there. We both drank wine at dinner that averaged around 10.00 a glass. With the 123 GO package, it's certainly a great incentive to book a Celebrity cruise over Princess. Room service Used the breakfast card to order the night before. Room Service called before delivering.  Delivered right on time.   Internet Internet VERY slow.   One nice thing you can use account on multiple devices. Disembark The one benefit of concierge class that really liked is these guests were called in their special waiting area, prior to the announcement for the large group of their specific luggage tag number. We were off about 830.  The one thing I really did not like about this cruise is there was no EZ check to check your luggage to the airport from the cruise. CELEBRITY - I hope this changes next time we cruise!!! The airport, of course, was so busy.  When we got there about 9:00, they were allowing you to check baggage up to two hours before your flight.  We were fortunate and found a place to sit.  After we had been waiting a couple of hours, they announced there was early baggage check for Southwest downstairs.  Who knew?  I went to check it out and there were bags EVERYWHERE.  At that time, they were allowing people to check bags up to three hours before their flight and that was only about another hour for us, so we chose to wait.  Once it was time for check in, the line was very short.  We had TSA precheck, so through security pretty quickly.    St. Bart's I was a little leery of this stop.  There's not a lot of information on the Cruise Critic page and a lot of what you read isn't good. We were tender ticket 4.  Off by and on shore 1045.  We used Turbe rental car, Kia Picante for $50.00.  The car was delivered to the pier about 11:15.  The roads are very narrow and curvy.  It's funny all the cars you see have scratches on them on the bumpers.  We stopped at the Supermarket by the airport and picked up sandwiches.  Delicious baguette with ham and cheese for around $5.00.  The supermarket would take a credit card for charges over $10.00 or you could pay in US dollars, change returned in euros.  Drove around the island, beautiful island and fun to explore.  Stopped at beautiful Petite de Culdesac beach.  Car return at the airport and they drive you back to the port.  Gas must be paid for with a credit card with a chip.  Stopped for a beer at St. Jeans beach before returning the car.  Some shopping at port.  Souvenir shop on Main Street by super market had traditional type souveniers.  We purchased  a Christmas ornament there. We found the people to be friendly and would not hesitate to go back.  Renting a car is the way to go!!! St Croix Tour with Sweeney's Safari Tours.  Drove around the island.  Went to the Cruzan (pronounced cruisin) rum factory. Tour was 8.00 (credit card only) but you get two drinks and 4 tastes, strong drinks, well worth the 8.00. We had some rain showers but we were in the van during the rain, so no problem. Lunch at Harvey's, excellent highly recommend.  Owned by step mom of basketball player Tim Duncan.  Very friendly and great service.  After lunch did some souvenir shopping.  Purchased beautiful glass plates at Mitchell Larsen Studio and a hook bracelet at Sonya's. San Juan We got off the ship at 8:00.  Took trolley to fort, which didn't open until 9:00.  $5.00 admission for both forts.  We walked into town.  Did some shopping at Puerto Rican Artcraft on Fortaleza Street. Unique, reasonable hand crafts, all made by local artists. Had lunch at Barrachina, tried Mofongo, delicious! , Of course, visited the GIANT CVS that everyone talks about across from the port.  Old San Juan is charming, wish we'd had more time.     Labadee We were in the port with Celebrity Reflection.  Both before we cruised and on board, everyone was concerned about how crowded Labadee would be.  We got off the ship fairly soon after we docked.  We found a  beautiful spot under palm trees right by the first swim beach (I can't remember the name).  They had gentleman helping with beach chairs.  I did get some bug bites on my ankles, so take spray.  I am really susceptible, no one else in our group got any.   The lunch and the line reminded me Princess Cays.  Long lines and lots of flys. Bar service was sporadic.  I ordered a daiquiri, which was on the menu at the bar, and the bartender said we don't have those at this bar, some of the drinks weren't cold.  Only saw someone walking around taking drink orders once.   The zip line looked like lots of fun but to us, very overpriced at $91.00. The entire island seemed to really clear out by about 1:30.  When we headed back to the ship about 4:00, there was hardly anyone on the island.  Nice day but for future, like Princess Cays, I might stay on the ship. Final Thoughts Overall impression of Celebrity verses Princess, there are some things we prefer on Princess but we would for sure sail Celebrity again.  Especially with the incentive of the drink package, paid gratuities and onboard credits.   We had a wonderful cruise, very relaxing, great weather, calm seas and nice port stops.  Made some new friends from Canada and enjoyed touring and dining with them several days and nights! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
Dining - We chose to eat in the main dining room and buffet foregoing the extra costs with the premium restaurants. Food in the main dining room was very good, comparing only to Royal Caribbean which I've sailed on 10 previous times. ... Read More
Dining - We chose to eat in the main dining room and buffet foregoing the extra costs with the premium restaurants. Food in the main dining room was very good, comparing only to Royal Caribbean which I've sailed on 10 previous times. Service was great- wine arriving to the table within mere minutes of ordering. Very attentive staff- never waited long for the food to arrive. Food was always cooked to order and tasty. The NY steak was a bit grisly but good. Public Rooms - The ship was clean and the decor was pleasing. There was no garish colors from the 80's I'm so used to. Plenty of seating in the lounges. The banisters on deck and artwork outside need attention. Cabin - 2119 outside cabin with very large porthole. Roomy (for a cruise ship) cabin with plenty of storage space and closet. Bathroom standard but unlike the bubble showers on Royal, this shower was large enough to actually move around and wash areas not so easy to get to in the bubble shower stalls. Love that this line provides individual soaps and shampoos and lotions. Nice touch. Always had clean towels and a tidy room with a full ice bucket. Entertainment - Eh! what can I say. It was ok. This ship caters to an older crowd for most stuff. What I liked: stringed trio in the lounge, Guest singer , and comedian. What I didn't like: I've never been on a cruise that didn't utilize the top deck area at night. NOTHING! Pools and hot tubs actually close at 10pm. No midnight buffet, no evening dances on deck; it was just useless space. The daytime use wasn't a ton better- one line dance class (not sure when they were supposed to use those new skills), a female band (who were very good) that played for about an hour one day. A "dj" that played for about an hour... Really it was sad. If there's anything this ship needs to work on is entertainment. But then it really made me relax (which is what I needed). The main show was just ok (but good singers and dancers) as it looked more like a high school production. And REALLY unfortunate was the "ventriloquist" from UK's Got Talent - I'm not going to be mean but people walked out. Value for Money - This was a great value since we got a good last minute deal. I'd do it again. Service - As stated before, simply amazing from the captain down. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
I never had anything to compare my last two cruises(NCL) with until now. With booze pkg. and tips included, four of us were on our way. As usual, the empoyees were very friendly and anxious to please. We checked in quickly and headed to ... Read More
I never had anything to compare my last two cruises(NCL) with until now. With booze pkg. and tips included, four of us were on our way. As usual, the empoyees were very friendly and anxious to please. We checked in quickly and headed to the pool area for a drink and to chill. An hour or so later up yo the room to unpack luggage . We had 6 oclock set dining but decided on the buffet.Not very impressive at all. The wife got a slice of roast beef and asked me to find her a steak knife. I found one but it didn't help...wouldn't cut through it. And the overall selection of food wan't very good. We ate at the fixed restauant the rest of the week which was ok. The wait staff was great and very attentive and couldn't have asked for better. OK...you probably have figured out by now I like to eat and drink LOL. Very surprised they have nothing all week around the pool area unless you want hot dogs and hamburgers..and grumpy people cooking them. I heard more than a few complaints. I didn't know this was a bargain cruise. The premium drink pkg is worth every penny. I just watched the bartenders pouring what I asked for. Martini Bar very good and drink pkg comes in handy cause they use mostly all top shelf. The shows were also very good and we caught them all. Our room was near the front hence perhaps more rocking than I experienced on the bigger ships. We met very nice people at our dinner table and had a good time overall. Like I said, the wait staff went above and beyond as if their jobs depended on it. Maybe the chef and F&B director could take a lesson. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Although this is our 10th cruise, it was our first on Celebrity. Our previous cruises have been with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but wanted a different experience to "bump things up a notch." Overall it was pleasant, but ... Read More
Although this is our 10th cruise, it was our first on Celebrity. Our previous cruises have been with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but wanted a different experience to "bump things up a notch." Overall it was pleasant, but thought I would highlight the a few pluses and minus from our point of view (that's why we read reviews right?) PLUSES +++ FOOD: Very satisfied with the quality of items offered on the buffet and main dining room. Clearly an upgrade from RC and Carnival. As a side note, I did not see a single person waste plates of food as we have seen on other cruise lines. People ate what they took because it was good! My favorite spot was the Sorbet & Gelato bar inside the buffet area. DEMOGRAPHICS: 80% of the passengers were in the 40's - 60's. We saw maybe a dozen children and perhaps a dozen couples in their 20's, so I would have to say it was a homogeneous group. It was nice for us, because the music and activities were centered around that. No hairy back or drinking contests poolside. Instead their were salsa dance lessons, pool volleyball, wine tasting etc. ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Cruise Director was did his job in a classy way. He was funny, but not obnoxious. No sales pitches and overdone announcements encouraging people to spend money on the stores. DISAPPOINTMENTS - - -: SERVICE: Notably in the poolside bars and buffet area. This is one area were Carnival and RC have Celebrity beat hands-down. Unfortunately we felt the staff in these area walked around without purpose or a sense of urgency. Not sure what's going on, but staff did not appear happy nor eager to help; and was consistent for the duration of the cruise. A true disappointment for us, since we thought Celebrity was going to excel in the service area. Again, we had an overall pleasant cruise and would consider Celebrity again, but this experience was not enough to win over our loyalty. Happy sailing :)   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
Just completed my 2nd cruise with Celebrity on the Constellation. It was a last minute booking and we stayed in Cabin 6004 (Ocean View Accessible). Let me start off by saying that my first experience with Celebrity was on the Equinox on a ... Read More
Just completed my 2nd cruise with Celebrity on the Constellation. It was a last minute booking and we stayed in Cabin 6004 (Ocean View Accessible). Let me start off by saying that my first experience with Celebrity was on the Equinox on a 10 day charter cruise last summer in the Mediterranean in Aqua class and we had an amazing time. This cruise I would give a B-. The boat is a good size, but there doesn't seem to be a lot going on. I expected less activities on a 4 day cruise, but most of the boat was a snooze fest. I later realized from other guests that the M class tends to be a quiet ship. I really liked our room 6004 (pics attached). It was nice to have an oversized room, and I will definitely be requesting ADA rooms going forward to have the extra space. The service I found to be lacking with certain crew. The martini bar was always packed and one evening myself and another couple next to me waited 15 minutes before even being acknowledged by one of the three bartenders. There was no apology for the wait and when he took our order he looked annoyed. The next day the pool bar had only 1 staff member around lunch time and he too was completely overrun and had a sourpus face. On Equinox there were more visible staff, they always had a smile and I never waited more than 5 minutes for a drink. At least when I did wait the bartender would acknowledge me and let me know he would be with more shortly, not the case on the Connie. I get that many cruisers are now on the drink packages, and being a 4 day cruise many guests are not the most polite, but I was completely surprised to see such a large number of the crew looking so unhappy with curt replies. There were a few bright spots. Alexander in the Rendezvous lounge was always a treat (he was my favorite bartender on Equinox, so it was just luck he had moved to the Connie). The food was very good. Our first night in the main dining room though the service was painfully slow, but then we asked to be seated in a different section the following night and everything was perfect so we always returned to that section and had a great time. I can see why some cruisers who like a more relaxed and quiet pace enjoy the M Class. I'm glad I did the cruise, but going forward I would only book an S Class ship. The ship having less to do was only a minor disappointment, my main concern was the dichotomy of service. There were a few bright stars that we learned to always go to and it made the cruise by day 3, but Celebrity should have great service all around. The port stops were 50/50. We did a Snorkel excursion in Nassau which was well worth the money and a great way to see the island. We walked around the town for 15 minutes, but not being into the diamond exchanges, we returned to the boat for lunch. This is a stop I would avoid on future cruises or opt to stay on the boat. We had a wonderful time in Key west, a rather late start due to some drinking the night before in Reflections, but would definitely go back. The Butterfly Conservatory is worth the visit. Since I've been off the boat I've been in a YouTube video spiral of cruise reviews (Thinking the NCL Getaway might be fun to try). I have to say I still love Celebrity and I'm booked on the Equinox again in Aqua Class for the 10 day Med cruise this summer (Rome to Istanbul). So it was nice to see her in port when we disembarked.   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
We went with Royal Caribbean on our last cruise and the cruise was great! This cruise by comparison disappointed big time. First, they lost our bags so we had no change of clothes or toiletries until late in the evening. Next time I think ... Read More
We went with Royal Caribbean on our last cruise and the cruise was great! This cruise by comparison disappointed big time. First, they lost our bags so we had no change of clothes or toiletries until late in the evening. Next time I think I take the bags on myself if possible. The guy who cleaned our room who was very nice apologise but nothing offered for the inconvenience. Second, they messed up our table at dinner and left us standing there for about 10 minutes while trying to sort it out and then sat at us at another table for 15 minutes and gave us some water to sit there sipping while they attempted to sort us a table. The food at each dinner was ok but really not much better, if at all, than the buffet food that was offered. The service was average at best. The entertainment is sub standard. Don't get me wrong I expect the hard sell on a cruise but the ones I have been on previously had good entertainment to go along with that. Everything centered around them selling you something and the entertainment seemed an after thought. You are a captive audience so entertainment is pretty key. They would go through several long periods of nothing going on poolside not even music playing. They had different sporting events on the calendar but no announcements poolside and no one there when the different events kicked off (at least the ones we tried) except for the pool volleyball against the crew. Most were just cancelled. The Zumba kicked off late. Again no announcement and the woman showed up and left because the only one there was my girlfriend. The ship is nice enough but most are. The itinerary was good Bahamas and Key West. We planned para sailing through the cruise but the weather prevented it. Not the cruises fault but with everything else that went wrong it just added to the dissatisfaction. If everything else had been up to standard, it would have been ok. Disembarkation badly organised and we were delayed an hour getting off in Key West meaning we had a lot less time to explore the island and they also docked late. Good points are the cruise ship is decent but most are. The Captain is interactive and a laugh. As I said cruises are fun but this one disappointed for us and I wouldn't book with Celebrity again. When the cruise was almost over, I asked for a customer satisfaction card and the guy behind guest relations said you get an email. He didn't ask what was wrong or if I had any issues or if I was satisfied. I told him about the issues regardless. His comment "put it in the email." I think that sums it up. I have since put it in the email. Nothing further about my less than stellar review to the Constellation. All's I get from them is sales email. Why am I not surprised?!? Avoid!   Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Celebrity Constellation and Four Eastern Caribbean Ports This is a huge review. It'll likely take you over 20 minutes to read it all. Like my prior reviews, it's filled with incredibly useful information. If it's too much ... Read More
Celebrity Constellation and Four Eastern Caribbean Ports This is a huge review. It'll likely take you over 20 minutes to read it all. Like my prior reviews, it's filled with incredibly useful information. If it's too much for you to take in at one time, feel free to print it out for future reference or jump to those sections in which you have the most interest. Feel free to ask questions. For pictures of all of the ports please see: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/constellation2.html Celebrity Constellation January 16 - January 24, 2015 St. Barts, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (Haiti) Executive Summary We departed Ft. Lauderdale, Florida aboard Celebrity's Constellation and visited four ports: Gustavia, St. Barts; St. Croix, USVI; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Labadee, Hispaniola (Haiti). Constellation's personnel are very attentive, friendly and helpful. The food is very good. The ship is very well laid out, clean and in very good shape. The Captain's Club events are very good, and the ship's entertainment is excellent. The ship's Captain, Tasos Kafetzis, and the Cruise Director, Alejandro Tortorelli, are the best we have ever seen. We experienced a few minor problems but nothing that would ruin the cruise. Part I - Precruise A. Cruise Critic Cruisecritic.com was once again very helpful in securing key information for all of our ports of call and getting to know some of our fellow travelers before the cruise. B. Choice of Route While we have been to San Juan several times, and St. Croix once, we were looking forward to visiting ports in Labadee, Haiti, and Gustavia, St. Barts. The cruise left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and traveled to St. Barts, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (Haiti). The other 4 days were "At Sea". We hoped to escape the cold weather and enjoy some nice weather in the Caribbean. Day 1: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - Debarkation at 4:30pm Day 2: At Sea Day 3: At Sea Day 4: Gustavia, St. Barts Day 5: St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Day 6: San Juan, Puerto Rico Day 7: Labadee, Hispaniola Day 8: At Sea Day 9: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - Disembarkation at 7:00 am C. Choice of Ship We chose the route first, but were also happy to be cruising on Celebrity Constellation once again. We last sailed on Constellation to New England and Canada. Constellation is one of four Millenium class ships. She took her maiden voyage in 2002 and was refurbished (Solsticized) in 2010. She weighs in at 91,000 tons and has an occupancy of 2170 passengers, although it never really felt crowded. D. Choice of cabin We booked this cruise on CelebrityCruises.com less than 30 days before the cruise. We chose an inside guarantee, meaning we did not have a say in the actual cabin choice. In return we paid a lesser fare. We were assigned a Category 12 cabin on the Continental Deck (Deck 2) --- the lowest passenger deck. Our cabin (#2009) was reasonably spacious. The cost difference between an inside cabin and a balcony cabin was being able to afford the cruise at all, so we found ourselves with a forward inside cabin. An advantage of an inside cabin (besides a much lower cost) is how easy it is to sleep in them, since there is no sunlight. Inside cabins are the exact same size as the outside ocean view cabins, with 170 square feet, though they are smaller than the 183 to 200 square feet found on the newer Solstice Class ships' interior cabins. E. Price We paid about $575 per person ($72/day/person) including port fees and taxes (but not including airfare, tips and incidentals) for this 8 day cruise. Note: I only include price information because it was requested by fellow travelers following my previous reviews. This price does not include the 1-2-3 deal, any beverage plan, or prepaid gratuities. It did include a $100 cabin credit. [Note that cabin credits usually take 24 hours after departure before appearing on your account.] F. Passports Even though we were boarding in Florida, we were visiting 2 foreign countries and 2 territories of the USA, so we felt it would be a good idea to bring passports. This trip we used passport cards. They were accepted without a problem and were so much easier to carry around than the standard passport book. The passport card is the wallet-size travel document that can only be used to re-enter the United States at land border-crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card provides a less expensive, smaller, and convenient alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air. Therefore, since the passport book is the only document approved for international travel by air, we did bring the passport book with us in case it was needed for evac or air travel but we were able to leave it locked in the cabin safe the entire trip. G. Insurance I insured the trip through Travelex, opting for their Travel Select product, which I concluded was a good choice due to: relative cost comparisons, ease of access and booking, good disclosures, excellent coverage for what I needed, and especially because their insurance is "primary", meaning that I do not have to involve any other insurance in the claims process. I had no interest in proprietary insurance offered by a travel agency or cruise companies because if either goes under your insurance is worthless and defeats the purpose. We bought the insurance within 14 days of our booking to assure there would be no questions about "existing medical conditions", although I am not aware we have any. Thankfully we never had a need for the insurance. G. Prebooking Excursions Based upon the recommendations we got off the Ports of Call threads, we decided to prebook an excursion in St. Croix --- which we arranged privately via email. In St. Barts, San Juan, and Labadee we simply walked. More details later. We have found that researching excursions ahead of time and making arrangements directly with the tour operator has always resulted in a more enjoyable, and less expensive, tour than can be arranged through the ship. Tour group size typically runs about 8 to 24 passengers versus the hordes typical of a ship's tour. H. Packing We packed for 2 Semi-Formal nights (suit and tie / dinner dress), and 6 Casual nights (polo's/aloha shirts and Dockers, blouses and skirts), in addition to enough clothing to cover us for 4 days. Although it was an 8-day cruise, we packed for 4 and gave the ship our laundry on days 3 and 6 using a Captain's Club coupon. (Note that there is no do-it-yourself laundry on any Celebrity ship). Among the most helpful "extra items" we packed was a battery powered alarm clock, roll-up shoe rack (we use the pockets to store useful things), sunscreen, highlighters, collapsible dirty clothes bag, wide-brim hats, a backpack, magnets (to keep announcements and invites handy --- since the walls are metal) and a water camera. We also made eight 8x10 posters for our cabin door (one for each day, "If this is Monday, it must be St. Barts" and the like). The cabin doors are metal. We held up our signs with little magnets. Not only did they help us keep track of the day and our cabin location, we struck up a few conversations with our neighbors who appreciated the signage. I. Water Camera Speaking of the water camera, I highly recommend you get a rugged water camera for your cruise. They are so much more versatile than an ordinary camera and you'll enjoy taking them places regular cameras can't go (like the beach, waterfalls, and underwater). Just as I over-research ports, I spent hours researching water cameras. We wanted a camera we could indeed take everywhere, that took good pictures in and out of the water, and had a good optical zoom. We purchased the rugged Olympus Stylus TG-830 for under $220. Wow! that's a great camera for the money. It has lots of easy-to-use picture modes and the panoramic mode just takes your breath away. Here's why it's rugged: it's waterproof to 10m/33ft, shockproof to 2.1m/6.9ft, crushproof to 100kgf/220lbf, freezeproof to -10C/14F, and dustproof (which also means it keeps sand out). It also has built-in GPS and e.Compass, 5x optical zoom, 10x enhanced (not fuzzy) digital zoom, and full 1080P Full HD Video. (They have a newer model out now, but the reviews are not as good). All of the pictures in this review were taken with our Olympus TG-830. If you don't have one, a cruise is a great excuse to buy one. J. Marriott BeachPlace Towers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida We flew into Fort Lauderdale one day early to help avoid the stress of travel delays that might occur on cruise day. We took a taxi from the airport to the Marriott BeachPlace Towers for $22 plus tip. Taxi dropoff is on the first floor. Check-in is on the 5th floor. The four elevators are notoriously slow. The front desk was very friendly. We were in studio lock-off room #1203 which featured a king bed, kitchenette (small refrigerator, microwave, bar sink, and coffee maker), couch, table, chairs, and a shaded lanai overlooking Ft Lauderdale Beach, with a table and 2 chairs. There is a CVS (no pharmacy) in the mall fronting the beach. They have beer, wine, water, and just about any sundry or beach item you could want. The beach is busy with lots of people-watching opportunities, and there are lots of bars nearby. Part II - Embarkation A. Fort Lauderdale, Florida We flew into Fort Lauderdale one day early and stayed at Marriott BeachPlace Towers. See details above. We enjoyed an early dinner at Coconuts (happy hour is from 4pm to 6pm) and picked up bananas for the next morning's breakfast since it is difficult to locate a reasonably priced breakfast before 9am in the area. We checked-out of the hotel at 9:50am and took a taxi ($12 plus tip) to Port Everglades. B. Security Processing and Boarding at Port Everglades On the way to the pier, everyone in the taxi must show their passports to security and the trunk is searched. We arrived at the pier itself about 10:05 am, gave our luggage and a $5 tip to a luggage handler, and waited until about 10:35am to enter the terminal. There were two lines outside. One for Suites, Aqua Class, and Zenith; and one for all other passengers. Once inside, our Express Check-in paperwork and passports were checked as we queued for security. We headed to Celebrity Check-in 5 minutes later. Separate lines were set up for Suites and Aqua Class, Elites and Select members, and a line for all others. Once in line, you waited until being directed to one of over a dozen Celebrity check-in agents. Priority was generally given to folks in the line order sequenced above. The agent checked our passport cards, credit card, and embarkation form. She asked us each to complete a health form. Within 10 minutes we had our Sea Pass (which is used as your ship ID, ship credit card, and door key) and were sent to yet another line to have our picture taken to electronically match our image with our Sea Pass card. Boarding began at 11:00 am. Two or three more security checks later, we were on the Constellation. An attendant greeted us with a choice of champagne, mimosas, or orange juice; while others sold specialty dinners, alcohol packages, and spa appointments. Cabins were not yet ready, so we set out to explore the ship. C. Tour of Ship and Search For Food We found sustenance in the Oceanview Cafe on the Resort Deck - 10 for a buffet lunch. Hint: locate the Pool Grill near the Riviera Pool for a grilled hamburger, turkey burger, veggie burger, or hotdog. While everyone else is in line at the buffet, you could be enjoying a great sandwich with no lines (the first day). The grill will get discovered by day two. There are two buffet lines on deck 10 with lots of hot meal and salad choices. While the Oceanview Cafe was already open, the Pool Grill and Aqua Spa Cafe didn't open until noon. Work your way aft and your find a pasta station, a pizza station, and a sandwich station. In the afternoon there is also an ice cream station (all ice cream is made on board). In the morning you'll find 4 omelette stations, a poached egg station (get your poached eggs prepared several different ways) and a waffle and pancake station. At night, there is a sushi bar. Going forward on this deck, you'll find the Aqua Spa Cafe which features healthy meals at breakfast and lunch. There is no extra charge for any of the food on this deck. The ship is well laid out with ample sets of stairwells and elevators. We spent 2 hours getting reacquainted with the ship. The Celebrity Theater on Constellation is a grand entertainment venue. The seating spans three decks with excellent views from almost all of the seats. (The far seating on the left and right sides of the upper level have minor obstructions). D. Explore The Cabin We were in cabin 2009, an interior category 12 cabin with 170 square feet. (This is the same square footage as the Ocean View cabins). We were located portside near the forward stairwell and elevators on the Continental Deck - 2 under the Celebrity Theater. (We never heard any noise from above). Our interior cabin on this deck was accessed from the Port hallway. The cabin was well laid out. Lots of drawers and enough room in the closets for our clothes. The bathroom has lots of room, storage, and a shower. There is a large mirror covering the entire far wall which helps create the illusion of extra spaciousness. Our cabin also had a desk and loveseat-sized couch/hide-a-bed. Hangers were provided. Rooms are supposed to include bathrobes, an umbrella, and a hair dryer as well. The robes showed up a couple days later and we had to ask for the umbrella. The bathroom no longer has a hair dryer attached to the wall. The former wall space has been repurposed as a much-needed nightlight. We located our hair dryer in the desk. The desk also featured a number of informational brochures including Friday's event newsletter "Celebrity Today" and a letter itemizing many of the invitational events. In a paper and labor saving move, the invitation letter replaces the many individual invites that would normally be delivered throughout the cruise. The cabin has a cooler in a cabinet under the TV which looks like a small refrigerator but doesn't really chill items very much. It's full of mini-bottles. We asked our cabin steward to empty it out so we wouldn't have to worry about a cabin liquor bill and so we could use it for bottled soda and water we bought in Ft. Lauderdale. Our stateroom attendant did an okay job throughout our cruise. Actually he did a good job but was just not as stellar as previous attendants. I get the impression these folks are stretched pretty thin now. Of note, we found the inside cabins really easy to sleep in. Since there is no window, the room stays dark --- making it really easy to sleep late or take a nap any time of day. Our cabin also had our dining room table assignment. We requested (and were confirmed before we left) for the Main/Early/6:00pm dinner reservation yet were given a late dining assignment which was not acceptable. Some folks like eating late (9:00pm). We do not. So I sought out the Head Maître'd. There was a 35 minute wait while other passengers also looked to change their reservations. We were able to secure a table for 2 at the Main Seating. It worked out well. Our neighbors, also at a table for 2, were 2 inches away --- so we enjoyed dining with them as a quasi-table for 4. It was table #112 next to a large window on the Starboard side. Our luggage was delivered around 2:30 pm. E. Lifeboat Drill About 45 minutes prior to leaving port, we participated in the mandatory lifeboat drill. If you've never been through this drill, a loudspeaker announcement is made for all guests to report to your assigned muster station (as directed by the sign on the back of your cabin door) which for us is the Celebrity Theater. After waiting for all passengers to arrive, you are directed on the proper use of the vest. Interestingly, we did not have to actually wear the life jackets during this drill, which was welcomed by all. We also did not need to actually visit the lifeboats. Your Sea Pass card has your muster station printed on it and life jackets are in your cabin. A final announcement will dismiss all passengers. The drill went smoothly and lasted about 20 minutes. F. Cruise Critic Sailaway Following the lifeboat drill, we donned our Mardi Gras beads and headed to Sunset Bar on Deck 10 to meet folks I had been talking to on the Cruise Critic message boards. The beaded necklaces were intended to help us spot one another. G. Dinner - 6:00pm First Seating We requested a large table as we enjoy meeting other passengers and sharing experiences. We were seated at a table for 2 in the lower level (Deck - 4) of the San Marco Restaurant. As mentioned earlier we were assigned a table for 2 but due to the close proximity of a neighboring table for two we essentially had a table for 4 and thoroughly enjoyed our tablemates. Our server, assistant, and Maitre'd did an excellent job throughout our cruise. Part III - Food! Celebrity has a good reputation for their cuisine. The meals generally met our expectations. There was good variety. Nice presentations at lunch and dinner in the San Marco Dining Room. Our waiter, Metin, and assistant waiter, Aleksic, were very competent and aimed to please. Our Assistant Maitre'd was very friendly and helpful. He wanted to make sure we let him know if there were any problems or special requests. Meats were cooked to order. Yes, you could even order "medium rare". A. Always Available Each night we had a new menu of items we could select for dinner which included 4 appetizers, 2 soups, 2 salads, and 4 or 5 main entrees. The following items were among those available every night (and appear on the left side of the menu): shrimp cocktail, escargot, French onion soup, Caesar salad, chicken breast, broiled salmon, NY Strip steak, apple pie, creme brule and NY cheesecake. B. The Best Breakfast Items Fresh fruits, smoked salmon, eggs benedict, sticky buns, omelettes, and poached eggs from the Oceanview Cafe; and the fresh fruit and muffins from the Aqua Spa Cafe. C. The Best Lunch Items The pizza, sandwich bar in the Oceanview Grill, fresh fruit and salmon (grilled or poached) from the Spa Cafe (Deck 10 - Forward/Amidships). D. The Best Appetizer All appetizers were well presented and among the best menu selections. We especially liked the escargot and all of the items prepared with goat cheese. On many days the selection was so appealing that we ordered 2 different appetizers to enjoy. E. The Best Soups If there was one area that did not live up to expectations, it was the soup. This was once traditionally a strong suit. However we found the soups tasty but generally weak (stretched too thin with broth). The French Onion soup was very good. F. The Best Salads These were all good and fresh. 3 different dressings were offered each night on a rotational basis. The "Celebrity" and "Tarragon" dressings were among our favorites. G. The Best Entrées All of the Lamb and Veal dishes, Caribbean Lobster Tail, Prime Rib, all Braised Beef items, and the Tenderloins. H. The Best Desserts Fresh made ice creams (also generally available noon to 10:00pm in the Oceanview Cafe), crème Brule, cherries jubilee, all cheesecakes, bananas Foster, apple pie, the Australian chocolate cake, and baked Alaska (no longer "on parade"). The best ice creams included: cinnamon, blueberry, strawberry, butter pecan, peanut butter, pistachio, and the mango sherbet. I. Room Service You can order room service from a limited menu via your television. We didn't order anything from room service. J. Oceanview Grill This is a very versatile location with lots of fresh food. Breakfast items included waffles and pancakes (with lots of toppings). Lunch items included sandwiches and salads. Dinner items included fresh pork, chicken, fish, lamb, and steak grilled to order. K. Sushi Bar Beautifully prepared (very fresh and chilled) sushi was available most nights from 5:30pm to 9:30pm in the Oceanview Grill (located Aft on Deck 10). It is a winner. The number of items is very limited now and the choices rotate nightly. We didn't see California Rolls on the 3 nights we had sushi. An opening time of 5:00pm would better accommodate passengers with the Main Seating for Dinner. L. Aqua Spa Cafe Hint: Locate this early in your voyage. Hidden forward/amidship in the covered pool area, the Aqua Spa Cafe on Deck 10 offer healthier offerings at breakfast from 7am - 10am and lunch from noon to 2pm. Be sure to stop by for a plate of fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, fruit muffins, fruit tarts, and fresh entrees. Oddly they also offer an large assortment of less than healthy (but very tasty) snacks like pastries, pies, cakes, donuts, and empanadas here from 4pm to 5pm daily. M. Pizza, Pasta, and Salad There is a dedicated Pizza Bar and a dedicated Pasta/Stir Fry Bar on the starboard side of the Oceanview Cafe. Both are open noon to 1:00am. The pizza bar features several pizzas with different toppings as well as a number of grilled vegetables you can add to your pizza. The pasta bar features several sauces, mix-ins, and noodle selections. The salad bar (located on the port and starboard buffet lines is also open varying hours. N. Ocean Liners - Constellation's Specialty Restaurant Located midship on Deck 3, this is one of two specialty restaurants on the ship for which there is an extra charge. The cover charge is $50 per person. For this, you are swept back in time to dine in the style of the transatlantic cruise ships of the mid-twentieth century. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Service is very high end --- as is the food. What you are paying for is a special dining experience that you won't soon forget. On our last trip, we enjoyed a delicious goat cheese souffle appetizer, lobster bisque, tenderloin filet (which my wife says was the best she has ever eaten), lobster tail, and for dessert we enjoyed a dark chocolate souffle. My wife also enjoyed an Aspen Coffee with dessert. Your bread plate and water glass never go empty. We were not bothered with picture taking opportunities, flowers, or given a hard sell on wine (although we did each order a house Merlot to enjoy with the meal). It was a very pleasant 2-hour dinning experience in a very fancy venue with great food and outstanding service. O. Tuscan Grille - Constellation's Specialty Restaurant Located midship on Deck 11, this is the other specialty restaurants on the ship for which there is an extra charge. The cover charge is $45 per person (or $35 if you book on Celebrity's website precruise). It's an Italian Steakhouse which serves pastas, seafood, steaks and salads. I was anxious to try this restaurant and we booked it for the first night. Olena provided us outstanding service that night. You can enjoy anything and everything and as many courses as you like since small portions are as available as normal portions. We most enjoyed our salad with goat cheese, lobster alfredo, and the fresh waffle-shell bowl with sorbet at dessert. We both ordered the tenderloin filet but next time would likely order the veal chop and experiment with several small portions of the various pastas available. P. Bistro on Five Located across the foyer from Cellar Masters, Bistro on Five offers all-you-can-eat soups, salads, panini, crepes, and deserts. It's not normally very busy. The $5 cover charge seems to keep people away which makes it a nice and quiet alternative to the Oceanview Cafe primetime madhouse. It's open most of the day. Q. Cafe al Bacio (Formerly the Cova Cafe). Hit up Cafe al Bacio on Deck 5 midship for a variety of espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha and macchiatos; as well as a dozen premium hot teas and iced teas. My wife fell in love with the Cafe Mocha Caramel Machiatta on a prior cruise. It was a great place to stop in the morning on the way to breakfast. If you want a quick bite to eat, they offer free croissants, pain au chocolate, brioche, fresh blueberry muffins and apple turnovers in the morning; light lunch items; and desserts at night. The baristas at this cafe are very friendly and efficient. R. Gelateria Located across from Cafe al Bacio, the Gelateria offers 10 or 12 flavors of Italian gelato. The charge is about $5 for a 1-scoop waffle cone if you don't have a Captain's Club coupon. S. Classic Drink Package We did not have a drink package on this trip. Bars are plentiful however. If you have a package (or not) you won't go thirsty. T. Midnight Buffets There were no midnight buffets. U. Grand Buffet The sea day grand buffet event has not been resurrected. This used to be a signature cruise highlight. The presentation alone was picture-worthy! V. Pillow Chocolates Nightly pillow Chocolates have been discontinued in favor of a quality chocolate-covered Oreo on the first formal night only. Apparently the former chocolates were causing a mess when accidentally sent to the laundry or health concerns when they migrated into another cabin. Part IV - Entertainment A. Movies There is no cinema on this ship. The former cinema was converted into conference space. Free and pay-per-view movies were available on the cabin tv. Pay-per-view movies were priced at $12.95 each and there were 71 choices (though many were offered in several languages). These are relatively recent DVD releases and very obscure releases. There were also about 24 free movies available throughout the cruise with 4 free movies per day shown on a rotating schedule throughout the day. B. Shows The Celebrity Theater spans 3 decks and is just beautiful. Seating is very comfortable and sight lines are very good. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers performed three shows. We enjoyed all of the entertainment which included three production shows: iHollywood, The Land of Make Believe, and Celebrate the World. These were some of the most talented performers and best productions we've had the pleasure to watch on any Celebrity ship. Guest entertainers included comedian Jim David, singer Jordan Bennett, juggler Jeff Taveggia, a very high-energy world champion pianist Ryan Ahern (who seemed to torch 30 keys a second), and comedian Joe Yannetty. The aerialists were equally impressive with very aggressive stunts. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers also performed a couple of great bonus shows in the Reflections Lounge: Sideshow, and Motown. Another well-attended show was "Liar's Club" featuring Alejandro, Sara (from the Activities team), and Captain Tasos Kafetzis. It was a laughfest from start to finish! C. Casino The Fortunes Casino on (Promenade Deck - 4) is filled with slot machines, one craps table, a roulette table, and a few poker and blackjack tables. The casino was open while at sea. Closed while in most ports. The casino is no longer a smoke-filled venue as Celebrity has prohibited smoking here. The upside is that I no longer avoided the casino. D. Canyon Ranch Spa It is located Forward on the Resort Deck 10. We did not use the spa on this trip. E. Outdoor Pools and Hot tubs. The Swimming Pool and indoor hot tubs were reasonably active. F. Celebrity Orchestra and Other Ship Bands This ship has more talent than about any other Celebrity ship we have sailed. The Celebrity Orchestra, Roberta Amaral (guitarist), and Gran Volta (classical string trio), were all very good. Also available were dance band Deja Vu, house band Shenanigans, and 1 Kilombo (a DJ duo) which we did not seek out. G. In-room TV There were several closed-circuit ship channels and sporadic satellite stations available on the TV in the cabin, namely: ESPN, ESPN-C, ESPN2, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC World News, Sky News, Engage, HLN, TBS, TrueTv, TNT, Family Channel, Cartoon Network, movie channel (see above), and a series of Celebrity channels: Cruise Director's Channel, Celebrity International, Celebrity Life, Celebrity Special Events, Shore Excursion Channel, Port and Shopping Channel. You can also order room service and check your current account on the TV as well. Hint: be sure to tune into the Cruise Director's Channel every morning. You'll get good laughs courtesy of Cruise Director Alejandro and get a good idea what's happening that day. H. Room Service You can order from morning to late night. We didn't order anything from room service. We have used room service on prior cruises. They don't just drop the order off at your door --- they come in and set it up for you. Be sure to tip! I. Sporting Events The NFL playoffs were available on the cabin TVs and on TVs in the casino. Due to overwhelming passenger demand, the ship eventually set up two TVs and good speakers in Cellar Masters. Despite no advance notice or announcement, the room was absolutely packed with passengers. We might have filled the theater for these two games but it was not available. To their credit, they have already announced plans to show the Super Bowl live in the Celebrity Theater. J. Activities There is no lack of things to do: movies, bingo, a couple of trivia contests (with "life changing prizes") throughout the day, ping pong, musical entertainment, shows, culinary demonstrations, water volleyball, seminars, casino tournaments, cards, and dancing to name a few. The activities staff was outstanding. The Cruise Director, Alejandro, is hilarious! His 5-minute taped daily activity briefings with another member of his staff on the closed circuit tv channel are laugh-out-loud gems not to be missed. Part V - Parties and Tours A. Cruise Critic Connections Party We signed up for the Cruise Critic party on the Celebrity web site. We received an email confirmation that a party would take place at time, place and date to be determined. We were supposed to receive an invitation to the party in our cabin. We did not receive one. We found out the party was set for 10:15am on Saturday (our first day at sea) in Tuscan Grille. Due to some invitation confusion and a low turnout due to the Captain's Enrichment Talk, our meeting was rescheduled and new invites were sent out for 5pm on the following Wednesday. I didn't receive that one either, but since I can't take a hint I showed up anyway. In total, about 24 folks attended. We had a great time meeting and greeting other cruise critics. Light refreshments were provided. The Cruise Director, Alejandro, and another officer were in attendance. He did a lot of good "Q and A", and left us with time to mingle. B. Captain's Club Parties There is a party of some sort happening daily. These included a party for all Captain's Club Members which included a great ensemble performance by representatives of all the ship's entertainment, a party of Elite and Select Captain's Club Members, a Captain's Club Elegant Tea, a party celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and others. We did not make all of the parties. The Captain's Club events were well attended and top notch. Part VI - Health Concerns A. Smoking Celebrity does this right! There was no smoking in the restaurants, casino, lounges, Celebrity Theater, cabins or verandas. Smoking was permitted outside on the port side and rear of the ship only. We are very sensitive to smoke and applaud Celebrity on it's smoking policy. The ship's interior environment was very enjoyable. B. Pools and Hot Tubs No problems were reported. C. General Cleanliness of the Ship In a word: impeccable. You could not take a stroll without witnessing some type of cleaning going on at all hours. The ship was constantly being cleaned: floors, walls, fixtures, everything! We did not witness any torn carpets or peeling paint. Constellation is really in good shape. D. Viruses To the best of our knowledge, there was no outbreak on our ship. Kudos to our fellow passengers and Celebrity personnel for their personal diligence. E. Seasickness Until last year, I always alternated half of a patch behind my ears for the duration of the voyage. This trip I again tried going unmedicated. It generally went well as I never got seasick but did feel odd on all of our sea days. On the roughest day I did need to get a Bonine tablet (free) at the front desk. I also sought out ginger ale and wore Sea Bands with limited success. F. Drinking Water All Celebrity ships have their own desalination and purification process. The drinking water on Constellation was good, but not as good as Equinox which has the clearest and tastiest water we've ever experienced on a cruise ship. Part VII - Ship Notes A. Ship's Crew We were very impressed with the ship and crew. Very friendly and competent. B. Our Stateroom Attendant He was reasonably attentive. Kept the beds made and bathroom clean. I believe these folks are stretched very thin however as there were noticeable deficiencies we had not experienced the last time on Constellation, like delays in getting the room cleaned in the morning. C. The Shops Merchandise did not rotate very much. There was something on sale each day. The booze prices on the ship were generally attractive. D. Internet Service The Celebrity iLounge located midship on Deck 9 has about 14 Apple computers and 1 printer. Due to the Elite member benefit of 90 minutes of free interest access, we were easily able to get online and print our airplane boarding passes. We were successful in not giving in to the temptation to check our email while on the cruise. E. Kids There might have been 2 or 3 dozen young kids on this voyage. F. Michael's Club Michael's Club is now a highly restricted private lounge for use by suites and Elite Zenith level passengers. G. Dress Code Very few men in the Main Seating wore a tux on Formal nights. Most wore coat and tie. Did not see any major violation of the dress code in the dining room. H. Time Changes We stayed on port time during this voyage, adding an hour before arriving in St. Barts and setting the clock back after our final port. I. Tendering We only tendered at one port - St. Barts. Tendering requires getting tickets which dictate the order of when you'll be allowed to board a tender (lifeboats holding over 100 passengers each) from the ship to shore. Priority is given to folks who have booked ship tours and those in Suites and Elite status. Tendering began at 9:50am and was not completed until after 12:30pm. Non-priority passengers were asked to line up at the Emporium on Deck 5 starting at 9:30am to get their tickets. Hint: be ready to leave the ship at 9:00am and get in line for tender tickets early! Returning to the ship simply requires lining up at the dock and boarding the tenders on a first-come / first-served basis. J. Upon Returning to the Ship When you return to the queue to re-board the ship after a day in port, you are greeted with ice cold hand towels, water and fruit punch. This is a really nice Celebrity touch. K. Customs We went through customs upon Disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale. Basically we just got in a 20-minute line to show our passports and customs declaration cards to Customs Officials. An express lane was available for handicapped passengers. L. Kids Club The Kids Club and Fun Factory are located on Deck 11 Forward. There were only about 36 kids on this particular cruise. Those that were involved in the kids club could be seen occassionally at different place on the ship in groups actively engaged in different activities, like a scavenger hunt. They looked like they were well taken care of, and appeared to be having fun. Part VIII - Tipping The service personnel on Celebrity receive meager wages and rely on your tips for income. While Celebrity says it is customary to offer gratuities to the ship's personnel who service you on the voyage, it really is expected, and it's something you should figure into your cruise budget. I say it's expected, but the ship's personnel work long hours to service you and the other passengers. They genuinely do everything they can to service your needs. Celebrity automatically bills your onboard account for tips on a daily basis. You have an opportunity to change, add, or remove them. Celebrity suggests $12 per day per person; or $192 for a party of 2 on an 8 day cruise which breaks out as follows: Waiter $60.90, Assistant Waiter $35.10, Stateroom Attendant $58.50, Dining Room Management $16.70, Other Service Personnel $20.80, and additional tips for room service, bartenders (even though a 15% gratuity is already included in all bar drinks), the Sommelier, and any other personnel who you wish to tip. And feel free to tip above these guidelines. Here's a really handy Cruise Tip Calculator covering all major cruise lines. If you have purchased a drink package, a 15% gratuity is already included. Part IX - Captain's Club If you have taken a previous voyage and are not a member of the Captain's Club, sign up. It's free. Benefits include a Captain's Club express line at Embarkation, priority Disembarkation, some small cabin welcome gifts, casino and spa discounts, free entrance into the wine appreciation seminar, a backstage tour, private departure lounge, and a one cabin upgrade. Some exclusions apply. Elite members also receive coupons for 90 free minutes of internet, one item drycleaned for free, and an opportunity to have a bag full of laundry (about 30 items) cleaned free, as part of their sheet of coupons. Elite members also have access to the Reflections Lounge for free drinks between the hours of 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm on most nights. A. Captain's Club Parties There is a party of some sort happening daily. These included a party for all Captain's Club Members which included a great ensemble performance by representatives of all the ship's entertainment, a party of Elite and Select Captain's Club Members, a Captain's Club Elegant Tea, a party celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and others. We did not make all of the parties. The Captain's Club events were well attended and top notch. B. Captain's Club Wine Appreciation Seminar Due to a scheduling conflict, we were unable to attend this event which took place in the San Marco Restaurant. C. Captains Club Backstage Tour at the Celebrity Theater Due to a scheduling conflict, we were unable to attend this tour that takes you behind the scenes of the Celebrity Theater to view the dressing rooms, props and other backstage areas. It is surprising how much the talent can do with so little room at their disposal. Here's a review of the Elite Benefits A. Priority embarkation while boarding the ship Upon arrival in the Fort Lauderdale cruise terminal, we found separate lines were set up for Suites, Aqua Class, Concierge Class, Elites and Select members, and a line for all others. Once in a priority line, you waited until being directed to one of over a dozen Celebrity check-in agents. Priority was generally given to folks in the line order sequenced above. Once called, the agent checked our passport cards, credit card, and embarkation form. Within about 10 minutes we had our Sea Pass (which is used as your ship ID, ship credit card, and door key). SUCCESS. B. Access to the Captain's Club Lounge for daily coffee house style breakfast This lounge is located in the beautiful Ocean Liners Restaurant, located on Deck 3 midship. It's open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. This is a fast continental style breakfast with Mango Smoothies, Strawberry Smoothies, pastries, fresh fruit, smoked salmon, sliced deli meats, fresh orange juice, tea, coffee, cappuccino, espresso, and mimosas. The coffees are very good. We had some difficulty getting served on the first morning we attempted breakfast here and did not go back. FAIL. C. Evening Cocktail hour (excludes embarkation and evening of Senior Officers' Party) This venue is located in the Reflections Lounge on Deck 11 forward and is open from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Available drinks included wine, well drinks, soda, juices, beer, and O'Douls. They also served appetizers. SUCCESS. D. Complimentary 90-minute Internet package The iLounge Internet Cafe is located on Deck 9 midship. They have about 14 computers and a printer. It's open 24 hours with limited staffing during daylight hours. I used it to print our boarding passes. SUCCESS. E. Complimentary access to Persian Garden (on one port day of your choice while ship is in port) Persian Gardens is part of the Canyon Ranch Spa on Deck 10 Forward. This garden is a bit antiquated in comparison to the new ships but gets the job done. They have several different dry and wet saunas. SUCCESS. F. One complimentary bag of laundry (wash, dry, fold) This is one of the most appreciated benefits as it allowed us to pack lighter. They will wash and fold up to 30 pieces. On day 3 we gave them a bag a laundry and again on day 5. SUCCESS. G. A private shipboard departure lounge, serving continental breakfast We had the option to sit in the Elite departure lounge located in Ocean Liners. Since we had the Early Departure Option we did not use this lounge. H. Priority Tender Service in Tender Ports of Call We tendered in just 1 port: St. Barts. All other ports had piers. Tender priority is first given to passengers on Celebrity's tours (which is as good a reason as any to book a ship's tour in a tender port, especially if it's an ocean-related tour), then to Suites, Elite, Elite Plus and Zenith. We received 2 Priority Tender Tickets in our cabin the night before the tender port. We arrived at the appointed lounge about 30 minutes before we were officially scheduled to start tenders. We were sent to catch a tender about 10pm. This was great since some passengers were unable to catch a tender until after 12:30pm. SUCCESS. I. Priority wait list in Main Dining Room We requested the 6:00 pm "Early" seating in the Main Dining Room and we were confirmed online. Unfortunately, upon getting on the ship we found they had changed us to the late seating. I had to spend 45 minutes to get this resolved. We were fortunate to get a table for 2 at the Early seating after speaking with the Head Maitre'd. I understand that there was so much demand for the early seating that half of the 5th floor dining was converted to early seating use for the first 3 hours. This led to heavy backups for folks assigned to "Any Time Dining", which usually occupies all of the 5th floor tables, for folks that wished to eat before 8pm. FAIL. J. Elegant tea invitation We received an invitation for tea on the last sea day. It was held in the San Marco restaurant from 3:30pm - 4:15pm. Due to competing events, we did not attend the tea. K. Other coupons and benefits that may also be applicable to Classic and Select club members Complimentary wine appreciation event: We received an invitation for wine appreciation event in the San Marco Dining Room at 11:15am on the second sea day. Senior Officers' Cocktail Party: We received an invitation for this cocktail party on day 5. It was held in Reflections Lounge. Gift: My wife received a rose and a nice note on day 2. Other useful coupons: Double payout on any 1-to-1 Roulette or Blackjack wager, free dry cleaning of 1 item, and discounts on various spa services. Welcome Gift: normally we've received a light Celebrity carry-all bag. We did not receive a welcome gift on this cruise. For pictures of all of the ports please see: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/constellation2.html Part X - The Ports A. Gustavia, St. Barts / St. Barts / St. Barthelemy 10:00am - 7:00pm. All ports except St. Barts had piers. We anchored in Gustavia Bay and took tenders to Port de Pleasance in Gustavia (which is located directly across from Sunset Hotel on Rue De La Republique on the left side of the harbor. The tender procedure was slow, primarily due to regulations in St. Barts limiting the tender speeds to 3 MPH in the harbor. We were on a 10am tender and got to shore about 10:30am. Upon arrival we set out on a 35 minute walk across the island to visit the airport and Saint Jean Beach (Baie de St. Jean). To get there, walk to your right (facing the island) until you get to the first cross street (Rue De La Suede) and turn left. Turn left again on the next street (Rue August Nyman). Keep right at each fork. The second intersection is a roundabout with an awesome bronze Indian statue of “Savaku” the Arawak spirit. Turn right here as well. This area is the highpoint of your walk and offers breathtaking views of the airport and west side of Saint Jean Beach. Commuter aircraft (puddle jumpers) begin their landing just 50 feet above your head and must land on a very short looking runway that ends in the ocean. It's lots of fun to watch planes land. They also come in off the ocean but those flights are more fun to watch from St. Jean Beach. Continue down the road parallelling the airport. Just across from the airport terminal (which has free, clean, modern restrooms on the northern end of the terminal) are a couple of strip malls. The second strip mall has a grocery store where we purchased litres of cold water for 1.35 Euros (about $1.50 US) and a 16-inch sandwich made on an awesome local baguette for 4.75 Euros (about $5.50 US). These prices are 25% to 50% of what you would pay in town. You'll find the sandwiches near the small deli counter in the rear of the store. The sandwiches are very popular and may sell out at lunchtime. The store will take US currency and give you change in Euros. At the end of the airstrip (about a block past the shops) is an entrance alley to St. Jean Beach. St. Jean Beach is actually 2 beaches separated by Eden Rock, upon which sits a hotel with restaurant and attached "Sand Bar". St Jean is a very pretty beach, with several shops, bars and restaurants, where you can watch planes flying over surfers while landing or taking off at an airport whose runway spills out into the ocean. Don't bother renting chairs and umbrellas here as these command $50 to $100 for a set! Head back to the ship the same way you came, making a left at the Indian Statue and keeping left at the next intersection. (You'll still get to the port if you make a right at the second intersection --- it'll jut take you a little longer. This same intersection (which has a dialysis/medical center on the corner) is the entrance to the lighthouse and the smaller of two forts guarding the harbor. A very short uphill walk to the fort/lighthouse will reward you with picture-worthy views of the ship, harbor and surrounding area. Continue down the road, make a right at Rue De La Suede, and you'll find yourself back in Gustavia. From here we meandered through the shops and worked our way to Shell Beach (aka Anse de Grand Galet), the closest beach to the ship and a very easy 10 minute walk --- longer if you linger in the stores. Shell Beach is so named because the beach is covered in small and medium-sized shells. It's a good idea to wear water shoes. The further from the entrance you get, the less crowded you'll find the beach and the more large rocks you'll find where you can leave your towels and "claim your territory". Other than the bar and grill, there is very little shade here. Notes: 1. The walk to the airport is along a fairly narrow road and can be uneven at times. There are sidewalks from the airport to Saint Jean Beach. Although we never felt in danger you should definitely stay alert to traffic and road conditions. 2. Taxi service from the port to Saint Jean Beach runs $30 to $50 each way. 3. Some passengers rented a car and enjoyed a beautiful day exploring the island and her 14 beaches. 4. Most of the shops, bars and restaurants in town are outrageously expensive and close from 1pm to 3pm. 5. While we enjoyed our visit to this beautiful island, I heard from Celebrity personnel that they may not return due to the logistics and passenger complaints about tendering and absurdly high prices for almost everything from beer to t-shirts. B. Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands 8:00am - 5:00pm. St. Croix is the largest of the four US Virgin Islands. We arrived on a Tuesday. A reggae band was playing on the pier when we arrived. From the ship, you can see the quaint town of Frederiksted in front of the pier with lots of shops, to the left is an old fort (Fort Frederik) with a beach and then about 2 miles further left was a popular beach called Rainbow Beach which had a bar and rented watercraft. On our last trip we had prearranged a 1.5-hour ATV jungle tour, explored the town, and cooled off in the water at a nice beach next to the fort in front of the ship. This time we prearranged for a 4-hour island tour with Sweeny's Safari Tours. The tour includes the Cruzan rum factory, the town of Christiansted and Columbus landing. We covered about 3/4 of the island. The tour cost is $40.00 cash per person (plus tip), and Cruzan will charge you $8.00 per person (credit card only) for entry [prices as of January 2015]. We met our driver on the street at the dock entrance. The tour rep was holding a sign that reads "Sweeny's Safari Tours". We departed just before 10:30am and returned by 3:45pm. This is a very good deal. Just the cost of roundtrip taxi fare to Cruzan and back is $20 per person. This is a 4-hour tour (though ours actually lasted over 5 hours) that includes the Cruzan Rum tour. For just $20 more per person than taxi fare to Cruzan you can get a tour of the island! There were 6 of us in a 14-passenger air conditioned van with a very accommodating driver who allowed us to stop and take pictures or alter plans on the fly. Our first stop was the Cruzan Rum Distillery where for $8 we were part of an escorted tour of the facilities and rum making operation. At the end of the tour you get 2 rum drinks (Rum Punch or Pina Colada) and samples of up to three of their premium, spiced, or flavored rums. Our bartender had a very generous pour and was anxious to give everyone basically whatever they wanted. Once my wife tried their Cruzan Velvet Cinn Rum --- a Horchata beverage made with rich dairy cream, bakery cinnamon, and Cruzan rum --- she was hooked and we bought 2 bottles for $18 each to enjoy at home. It's great by itself or as topper to your morning coffee. We viewed the sunny countryside, got rained on as we drove through the rainforest (go figure), drove by Cane Bay Beach, traversed "The Beast" (a steep winding road that is part of St Croix's annual triathlon-qualifying event), and viewed picturesque Columbus Landing. From there we headed to Christiansted, the larger of St. Croix two main towns where we had 1.5 hours to eat lunch and explore the sites. Our driver recommended Harvey's for an authentic local lunch which 4 of us enjoyed. Among our entrees we ordered Goat Stew (very tender meat with a nice rich dark gravy), Fried Grouper, and very tender Conch in butter sauce. Each of the meals was about $14 and included 4 sides like macaroni and cheese, rice, fungi, cassaba, slaw, and mixed vegetables. Cold Carib beer was $4 bottle. Service was very friendly. After lunch we split up and explored the town. My wife went window shopping and I headed to Fort Christiansvaern. There is a $3 entrance fee. I got lots of good pictures from the second floor of the fort. Resuming the island tour, we drove past the Hovensa Oil Refinery which was once the largest in the world and would still qualify as one of the 10 largest. The 1500-acre site currently sits dormant but is in talks to be reopened. It took us fully 10 minutes to completely pass the entire complex --- the scope of which is pretty awesome. (Check it out on Google Earth). We returned to town at 3:45pm in plenty of time to take some additional pictures, hit the beach quickly, and casually walk back to the ship. Additional information from Cruzan [as of January 2015]: Cruzon Tour Hours During "the Season" (which runs from the first week of November through the second week of April): Monday through Friday, From 9:00 am - 4:30 pm, with Saturday and Sundays from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. A guided tour of the Cruzan Rum distillery takes approximately 30 minutes and leaves every 30 minutes at the top of the hour. The tour entails a walk through the Mixing Tank Room, the Fermentation Room, the Still House, the Warehouse, and the Filter Room. Following the tour they take you to "The Pavilion Visitors Center" which houses the Gift Shop and their "Don't Hurry" Tasting Room, where guests are invited to sample award-winning rums. The gift store has many items for sale including hats, T-shirts, shot glasses, and of course, rum! They do not accept cash but they do accept credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, and Discover). When cruise ships are in port, the distillery is very busy. To avoid the crowds, they recommend visiting between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. The drive from the cruise ship port to the Cruzan Distillery is about 10 to 15 minutes. The Taxi fare is around $20.00 round trip. Walking is not recommended, as the path between the port and the distillery is a busy road. It is approximately 5 miles from the cruise ship port to Cruzan Distillery. C. San Juan, Puerto Rico 7:00am - 2:00pm. Given that the forts don't open until 9am, we slept in and left the ship at 8:30am for a leisurely 20-minute walk up the hill to Castillo San Cristobal, which you can partially see from the ship. Both San Cristobal and the better known El Morro fort are very impressive, massive structures worth detailed exploring. The combined fortresses and connecting wall are designated as a United Nations World Heritage site. San Cristobal, covering 27 acres, is the largest fortification built by the Spanish in the New World. Yes, it's actually larger than its more famous sister El Morro. Cost is $5.00 per person for one or both sites --- just save and show your receipt --- or free with the Senior Pass and Golden Age Passport. [Price current as of January 2015]. Don't make the mistake of hiring a taxi, unless you are physically unable to walk up a hill. It is pretty easy to walk to both sites as places are closer than they appear on maps. Highly recommend visits to both which offer lots of history, information, and picture opportunities. Adventurous kids and adults alike will enjoy crossing over the drawbridges (which span dry moats), exploring numerous tunnels, unique stairwells, arched passageways, barracks, storerooms, ramparts, cannons and dungeons. Each fort also offers a gift shop with cold bottled water for under $2. The walk from San Cristobal to Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) is an easy 20-minute walk via the city wall walkway parallelling the sea. You can also take a free US Parks Service shuttle between the two forts, or wait for the free hop-on/hop-off trolley. However you may have to wait a long time as these are often packed, and yes, you can also catch the trolly from a stop near the port to both forts. El Morro is a real gem of a fort, with 6 levels and 60-foot walls overlooking the ocean. It also features a pair of spiral stairwells, one of which is triangular. Even the restrooms in El Morro offer picturesque views. (You won't find a restroom anywhere with better vistas). It's a 30-minute walk back to the ship from El Morro. D. Labadee, Hispaniola (Haiti) 10:00am - 6:00pm. Haiti itself occupies the Western third of the island of Hispaniola, while Dominican Republic occupies the Eastern side. Labadee is not a private island off of Haiti as some believe. It's actually a peninsula on the beautiful northern coast of Haiti. This is a really pretty port offering a nice beach day with expensive excursion options for the more adventurous. Here's a map of Labadee you can print: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/labadee-map.jpg I'll walk you clockwise around the map starting at the pier: From the pier (bottom left) you are spilled out on Buccaneer's Bay where you can schedule tours. North of there is Dragon's Bay which includes the main tram station (#2), and 1 of the port's 5 lunch pavilion "cafes" (#4), a drink station "pub" (#5), a lookout point (#6) worth a view of the entire north side beach areas and the zipline landing. There are no swimmable beaches in Dragon's Bay due to the rocks and reefs in the water. As you move inland (to the east) on the north shore you'll encounter Adrenaline Beach which has waves and good views of the zipline participants. The further east you walk, the sparser is the shade. The Dragon's Tail Coaster (#33) is located at the far eastern border, just past rentable cabanas (#35), and the zipline is up the hill to its left but is only accessible by truck. Just south of Dragon's Tail is Town Square, with a bar (#18), lunch pavilion "cafe" (#19), the second tram station (#25), small amphitheater (#30), and Artesian's Market (#21, housed in a building). This is where the friendly no-haggle, no-hassle, local shops are located. They sell local arts and crafts. As you head south from here, you'll run into the Artesian's Village (#20, looks small on the map but it's really over 200 yards long and on both sides of the walkway). This is an uncomfortable gauntlet of outdoor "hassle and haggle" shops, manned by very aggressive locals offering similar wares, that stretches until you reach the sanctuary of Columbus Cove. Columbus Cove is an oasis of sun, sand, and lots of shade with a beautiful beach, no waves, and an unobstructed view of the ship. It's very pretty and the water is very comfortable. Being the furthest beach from the ship, it will typically have the lightest crowds of all the full-access beaches. It also has a tram station (#43), "pub", "cafe" (#38), and an aqua park (#39) with waterslide (fee applies for both). Now, heading west across the south shore you'll hit Nellies Beach, a beach cove featuring rentable cabanas (#31, if you rent one, be sure to pay a little extra for the cabanas on the water). This is also the southern route to Columbus Cove which will thankfully bypass the entire Artesian Village complex. Heading further west toward the pier on the south shore is the Barefoot Beach Club, an exclusive gated beach cove for guests residing in Grand Suites and above. It's the closest southern beach to the pier. They have rentable cabanas (#13), a tram station (#15), and their own food and beverage facilities. Our day at Labadee started when we left the ship at 10am and wandered around the peninsula as we made our way to Columbus Cove, the furthest beach from the ship. We came across the Artesian Market building with low-key local vendors doing a brisk business. Just past the Market, you hit a gauntlet of high-pressure local vendor shops. There must be over 50 of them. All of the stuff they were selling looked very similar. As you pass by the shops you are greeted with "Follow me", "Where are your from?", and "Can I ask you a question?" --- all intended to get you to engage with them and look at what they are selling. Most folks will feel very uncomfortable and want to exit the area as rapidly as possible. (If you do buy here you can easily haggle their first price down by 50% to 75% as long as you don't show too much interest). If you have no interest, just ignore them (or say "no thanks") and keep walking. You'll survive the ordeal unscathed. We eventually worked our way to Columbus Cove and found lots of beachfront shade at the far end, complete with unobstructed views of the water and ship. This is despite being the second of two ships to arrive in port and having arrived at this beach at 11am. The beach will get a lot busier come 12:30pm. A buffet lunch was served in the pavilion behind us starting around 11:30am. Lunch was free and included juices, water, tea, breads, grilled chicken, pork chops, beef, hamburgers, hotdogs, ribs, slaw, green salad, potato salad, corn on the cob, light desert bites, and a few other items. Each pavilion offers several additional covered structures with lots of shaded picnic tables. We enjoyed our lazy beach day at Columbus Cove and exploration of the peninsula. Fee-based activities available included Dragon's Breath Flight Line (zipline, $96 per ride), Dragon's Tail Coaster ($26 per ride), Adrenaline Coastal Boat Tour ($50), Haitian Cultural TOur ($75), Labadee Wave Jet Tour ($100), Sandbar Island Getaway ($50 - $55), Parasail Adventure ($86), Kayak Adventure ($40), Dragon's Splash Waterslide ($24) and Arawak Aqua Park ($20 per hour). [Prices current as of January 2015]. Notes: 1. small lockers are available at several locations for $8. 2. Alcohol was available and free if you were on a beverage plan (same rules as on the ship). 3. The south side beaches were prettier and nicer than the north side beaches, offered more shade, and calm water. North side beaches offered more sun, wind, waves, and great views of folks using the Dragon's Breath Flight Line (zipline) and Dragon's Tail Coaster. 4. You only needed your Sea Pass Card (no other ID required at this private port) and your beach towel from the ship. Lounge chairs are free but you might tip an attendant a dollar or two to haul and setup your lounge chairs and wipe them down. E. Days At Sea We had four days at sea. There was no lack of things to do on the ship. Eat, play games, port shopping briefings (basically a way to kill time watching a talking advertisement), attend shows, eat, nap, midday snack, cards, pools, bars, eat, lots of trivia contests, read, chat with fellow passengers, eat, "behind the scenes" galley and stage tours, art auctions (aka "how to overpay for art" while drinking free champaign), wine seminar, gambling, exercise (no, not really, but there is an exercise room), eat, book your next cruise (and get two stackable bonus deals), live entertainment... the list goes on! Captain Tasos Kafetzis conducted a very interesting and humorous enrichment talk on "The Building of a Solstice Class Ship". F. Ships in Port We were the only ship in port at St. Barts and St. Croix, but we saw two other ships in port at San Juan (Carnival Freedom, Disney Fantasea) and one other ship at Labadee (Celebrity Reflection). Visit CruiseTimeTables.com or CruiseTT.com to see which ships are likely to be in port during your cruise. It's a really good idea to either book tours way ahead of time, or have a good plan, for any ports that are due to be crowded. G. Other Caribbean Ports You'll see several other islands while cruising at sea and you may be sailing on a back-to-back cruise that takes in other ports than the four described here. We've now visited over two dozen different ports in the Caribbean and have posted our very detailed first-hand information on excursions we've taken, complete with photos. Visit "Secrets of the Caribbean" to view these other ports: http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/caribbean-secrets.html H. Cell Phones Using a cell phone while on the ship is expensive, so most folks wait until they are in port before using them. Check with your phone carrier to see what coverage is included with your current phone plan. Verizon covers Puerto Rico for voice and text, and St. Croix for texting only, as part of their domestic plan. Data plans, ship plans, and international plans are available for an upcharge. For data and texting the smart traveler will look for free and low cost wi-fi locations at ports. Part XI - Onboard Credits When booking a cruise you often receive onboard credits from Celebrity and/or your travel agent which you can spend on anything charged on the ship including specialty dinners, onboard shopping purchases, excursions, casino credits, bingo, spa, beverages, and gratuities. Most onboard credits are non-refundable while others like a port tax refund are refundable credits. You can view your credits starting on day two either on your TV set or by asking for a copy of your current billing at Guest Services. Refundable credits are coded as "OBR - ONB" while non-refundable credits are coded as "OBN - ONB". The difference of course is that refundable credits can literally be taken in cash if unspent, while non-refundable credits are a "use them or lose them" proposition. Part XII - Disembarkation and Customs A. Disembarkation Earlier in the week everyone completed surveys which were used to prioritize passengers. Clearly those folks needing to catch early plane connections or who were on early escorted tours in Fort Lauderdale had highest priority. Numbered disembarkation luggage tags were issued to all cabins, and passengers were instructed to place the tags on their luggage, and tear off the stubs for bag retrieval in the cruise terminal before proceeding through customs. On the final sea day, everyone is supposed to receive their disembarkation letter and numbered luggage tags. We are asked to place all of our luggage outside of the cabin by 11pm for pickup. All luggage is sorted by number in the cruise terminal. The number also dictates the time you'll be asked to depart. The times start at 7am and end at 10am. All passengers were instructed to exit their cabins by 8am and sit in public areas, or lounges, until their assigned time. Breakfast was served in the Oceanview Cafe from 6am to 8:30am, Blu Dining Room from 6:30am to 8am, and in the Main Dining Room from 6:30am to 8am. Celebrity won't send you home hungry. If you wish to get off the ship as early as possible, you can sign up for "Walk-off Express Departure". Under this plan, you keep all of your luggage in your cabin overnight and haul it off the ship yourself. Departure began about 7:20am. It took just 10 minutes to leave the ship and 20 minutes to work our way through customs. We were on the street by 7:50am and shared a taxi with another pair of passengers who were waiting in the taxi line. B. Taxi Rates The taxi rate from the port to FLL (Ft. Lauderdale airport) runs $15 - $20 total for 1 to 4 passengers. By sharing a taxi we shaved our cost in half. Don't worry about not fitting into a regular cab, as they have taxi vans available which will comfortably hold 5 passenger plus driver and luggage. We arrived at the airport by 8:10am. C. Parking Rates As of January 2015, it costs $15/day to park at the Ft. Lauderdale port parking structures. D. Customs Allowance According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, US citizens traveling to the Caribbean are permitted $800 worth of Duty Free goods including 2 liters of alcohol per person (as long as at least 1 liter was manufactured in a CBI country). US citizens traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands (aka St Croix) can bring in $1600 worth of duty free goods including a total of 5 liters of alcohol (as long as at least 1 liter was a product of, and purchased in, the USVI). This higher limit includes no more than $800 in Duty Free goods from other Caribbean countries. All you needed to do was to declare the total value. Anything greater had to be itemized (declared) and a duty paid. E. Luggage Valet If you sign up for Luggage Valet ($20 total fee for up to 3 bags per person), you'll receive disembarkation instructions, airline boarding passes, luggage tags and baggage claim checks on the final night of your cruise. Celebrity will handle the baggage from the ship to your airline. You simply set it outside your cabin door and pick it up when you get to your home airport. This service is only available in select departure ports only (like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Seattle, San Diego, and Seward) with only with select airlines that depart between 11:30 am and 11:59 pm. The following airlines participated in the program: From Ft. Lauderdale = American Airlines, Jet Blue, Air Tran, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways; and from Miami = American Airlines, Air Tran, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways. Bags are screened by customs and normal airline baggage fees apply. Unfortunately, luggage valet was not available on this cruising. Part XIII - Praises and Gripes A. Praises Constellation's personnel are very attentive, friendly and helpful. The food was very good. The ship is very well laid out, clean and in very good shape. The Captain's Club events were very good, and the ship's entertainment is excellent. The ship's Captain, Tasos Kafetzis, and the Cruise Director, Alejandro Tortorelli, are the best we have ever seen. B. Gripes We certainly didn't have too much to gripe about, although if you got any group of folks together, similar themes emerged: 1. The photos were very professional and creative. The price of the photos was outrageous. I still don't understand the mentality of taking tons of pictures of passengers and then expecting us to pay $10 to $20 for each. We won't. 2. We miss the big sea day "Grand Buffet" in the Main Dining Room. The awesome presentation alone was worth a visit. 3. The acapella group is gone. They are worthy of a reprise. 4. There was no "Enrichment Seminars" related to our ports of call. These are usually very interesting and worth attending. 5. It took the effort of a lot of passengers to get Celebrity to set up a public venue for the NFL Playoff games. They need to be more attuned to major sporting events and people's strong desire to watch games in a group environment. 6. There was a communications breakdown as we didn't receive invites to either cruise critic party, nor did we receive any disembarkation documents. We were happy to use the Walk-Off Express Departure, but we didn't request it.   Read Less
Celebrity Constellation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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