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Sail Date: July 2004
We boarded the Constellation in Dover for the British Isles cruise. Arriving early, our boarding was smooth and fast and organized. The sky suite was nicer and roomier than our similar suite on Mercury last year. Our butler couldn't ... Read More
We boarded the Constellation in Dover for the British Isles cruise. Arriving early, our boarding was smooth and fast and organized. The sky suite was nicer and roomier than our similar suite on Mercury last year. Our butler couldn't have been better. He was a professional butler and decided to take to the seas. The food was better than Mercury. There was only one bad meal in 14 nights. The waiter was better prepared with more experience. And the sushi bar on the 10th deck was wonderful as a little bonus. We had lunches in the aquaspa each day after a stay in the hot tub (at sea). The meals were light but very tasteful. Lots of salmon. And our butler gave us an excellent breakfast in our suite every morning. We liked the idea of lounging over pots of coffee first thing without having to make conversations with strangers in the dining room. We ate in the special reserved dining room twice; it's good that we didn't eat there more as I would have gained even more weight for the cruise. We liked the cruise so much that we booked a transatlantic crossing for November 2005 from Barcelona on the sister ship. And we upgraded to a Celebrity Suite; the price for the transatlantic even with the upgrade was only 60% of the cost of the July cruise. My wife likes the fact that there will be seven sea days on this crossing as she got spoiled on the sea days at the spa with facials and massages. It's a pleasure to feel so relaxed and see her so relaxed. One pleasant surprise was after the first port stop in France, I was shopping for wine to take on board at the port and many passengers warned me not to as it would be confiscated. I listened to them as I had read that before on the Cruise Critic, but before boarding, asked a ship officer and he said that it was OK to bring on board. I went back and bought two bottles (as we did in each next port), put them in my backpack and had no trouble with the X-ray on boarding. We had a group of 10 from Naples and had sail away parties each night along with at-sea parties. Wine is less expensive at port than on ship. We didn't bring any wine to dinner with the corkage fees as we just ordered bottles for the table. All of the facilities were wonderful on the ship and the crew was attentive and friendly. We tipped at the end a little higher than the amount the cruise line advised as the crew gave us the best service possible. My only complaint was that the cruise ended after 14 days. It wouldn't be hard to learn to live like that all year. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
Baltic cruise 2004 The Ship: Constellation is a very impressive ship from the quayside and does not disappoint when you board: The entrance hall is impressive and leads to an amber coloured staircase that is lit by night and is used ... Read More
Baltic cruise 2004 The Ship: Constellation is a very impressive ship from the quayside and does not disappoint when you board: The entrance hall is impressive and leads to an amber coloured staircase that is lit by night and is used for the formal photos on formal nights. Public areas of the ship are excellent and although there were 2000 pax on our cruise it never seemed crowded except for the chair hogs in the thalassotherapy pool area. Ships areas were: The Thalassotherapy pool, good for an early morning dip and Jacuzzi on mornings when you were not going out on trips. There is a light food refreshment area behind the pool which was very popular with people who wanted a lighter healthier eating option. Pool chairs went not much after 6 a.m. on sea days with books and blankets appearing without owners very early on The main pool area which was equipped with blankets and towels if it got a bit cool and has a burger and pizza bar which opens every day from 12 noon until 6 p.m. Very handy for an alternative to the main restaurants when peckish. The reflections lounge: at the top of the ship there was various entertainment before and after the dinner seatings and a late night DJ every night from late evening. The martini and champagne bars were popular pre dinner meeting places. Played the slots a couple of times in the casino, but as I am not a big gambler I cannot comment on what the casino has to offer overall. The Cova cafe was an excellent place for a coffee or drink and the adjacent pasticcheria was always good for a cake or two whilst partaking of the coffee. The main San Marco restaurant was very impressive and had Venetian blinds on the formal nights which changed the ambience. We had a table on deck five on the port side and looked down on the main seating area. The seaside restaurant topside was, in the main, well organised and we used it mainly for breakfast and late night buffet. The omelette station at the back often gets missed and the stations double for pasta stations at lunch. Breakfast is a full English or American offering with a waffle station at the rear near the back terrace. The theatre is massive for a ship and on two main tiers and the lighting and effects for the shows is very professional indeed, more about the shows later. The internet cafe and card rooms were always well attended on sea days and in the evenings . The onboard cinema was used for lectures and films depending on the time and what was on the programme. The Gym and Spa areas were well used and extensive and the jogging track was in constant use for walking and running exercise, from the gentle stroll to the complete fanatic (complete with press ups) you didn't look out of place either way. Michael's club was a haven of peace with usually piano music and comfortable chairs to relax in and there were a number of other lounges (rendezvous etc.) where various other entertainment was offered most evenings. Altogether there were lots of choice offerings for all types and tastes and you could find somewhere to sit and be entertained or fed at most times of the day. The Cabin: We were in a 2a guarantee balcony room (8014) at the front of the ship and were very pleased with the cabin. The only drawback was the distance from the main restaurant areas and we used the walk to shed the pounds put on in the dining areas. Our cabin stewards Gina and Roque were diamonds and sorted our every whim and request out with a smile and always a happy greeting. There was no noise at night and the ride was very smooth and the proximity to the front did not bother us at all, even in the North sea. Some fellow guests got an upgrade to concierge class (complimentary) and these rooms were slightly larger with an extra bookcase and had a champagne welcome and hors d'oeuvres every day. The general consensus was that it was very nice but they were not sure whether it was worth the extra money to book one. Embarkation: Smooth as a nut: we arrived at Dover cruise pier at about 11:00 and were on the ship within 15 minutes having been swung through the captains club area . The main area was nearly as quick and very fast at that time. The moral is arrive early if you can and get processed quicker. I could not imagine a more speedy check in anywhere in the world with any cruise line than this one. We were met with a glass of champagne or orange juice and directed to the seaside cafe for lunch. The cabins became available at about 12:30 . Entertainment: Contrary to reports I had read before we sailed the entertainment was very good to excellent and the production shows were very good and the effects and costume changes slick. There were no available seats in the very large theatre for the production shows and people stood at the back to watch. There were three of the shows over the voyage, all very good. Piano player extraordinaire Brookes Aaron was a great hit and his shows are not to be missed as he is a complete livewire and excellent piano player with a classical and other repertoire which keeps you enthralled throughout his performance. Eric Bohus is the cruise director and we found him to be helpful and not too in your face . He was ably assisted by Mike his asst, cruise director. Don Gavin from Boston and an Irish comedian provided the comedy for the shows. There were two arial stars who did cabaret and complimentary arial shows to the main production shows. They were excellent. Lounge entertainers were good with a piano player in Michael's club, a guitar soloist in The Cova cafe and a duo in Rendezvous most nights. The celebrity band was excellent and performed all over the ship with the big band sounds being my favourite in the Reflections lounge at night. The four piece quartet that played in the restaurant or the Cova were also very good. The Emporium shopping area had various sales and themes throughout the cruise and enticed our money away quite effectively thank you !! There were a number of enrichment lectures on finance, history, and 2nd world war generals and battles. We attended a couple of Dr. Joan Sbala lectures and the one on Rasputin was good info for the St. Petersburg tours. She also does one on chocolate !! Food: Anyone on a cruise ship that goes hungry cannot be in full possession of their faculties and this ship is no exception to the rule. Breakfasts were the usual Continental, British or American fare and there is a lighter alternative at the thalassotherapy pool if required. We tried the room service a couple of times and it was excellent and hot and very presentable and bang on the order time . Get a card outside your door before 4 a.m. and they deliver. Luncheons at the buffet were good and there was plenty of choice with the poolside burger/pizza bar as an alternative or the lighter option as for breakfast. We were on early seating at 6 p.m. and found this better for us with the shows later. There were 3 formal and 4 informal (jacket nights) and 7 casual nights and the majority of people respected the dress codes with few exceptions. We had Sasha as our Maitre'd and Jose as waiter with Marek as his asst. All were excellent. Sommelier was Lenka and she was very attentive and good at her job and ably assisted by a tall blonde south African girl whose name I never was able to find out, but she was excellent also. The food I found was always well presented and we could find nothing to complain about and much to admire. You will not be disappointed and the choice is good with 3 starter and 3 soup choices and 5 entrEe choices per night with numerous sweet options to finish the meal including some excellent no sugar options. There is an alternative sushi or casual option in the seaside restaurant every night with the same menu as the main dining room. $2 tip suggested per person for the service We did not go to the speciality dining room but those who did said it was worth the $20 cover charge per person . Michel Roux was on our cruise and dined in the restaurant one night trying out the various dishes and inspecting the galley. Late night buffets were the usual fare as was the afternoon tea option if you were hungry. Room service is 24 hrs a day and free if you really need another option and during restaurant hours you can order the full menu in any cabin. No-one needs to starve on this ship !! The Ports: Oslo: We took a taxi from the pier to Bygdoy peninsula and it cost 120 kroner. We saw the Fram museum and the Thor Hyerdahl museum. The Fram museum allows you to go onto the ship that Amundsen sailed on to accomplish his south pole expedition and is very interesting with actual equipment and sound effects lending to the atmosphere. We caught a ferry back to city hall from the Fram museum for 20 kroner each and walked past City Hall to the Royal Palace where we saw the local troops on guard and walked in the palace gardens. Walked back to the harbour and then looked in the cruise shops at Akerhaus fortress and the QE2 was berthed there also, and then caught the free shuttle round the corner to the ship for lunch. Back on board at about 1 p.m. for a 2 p.m. sailaway. A good morning sightseeing and you can do the ferry both ways if you wish saving another 80 kroner. We opted to take the taxi ride for the change of scenery. Stockholm: Took free shuttle to Opera house then walked in to the shops to have a look around. Then walked back over the bridge past the parliament building just in time to see the changing of the guard at noon: It is a mounted guard with a band and then it dismounts and does a traditional changing guard ceremony on foot with rifles. Good entertainment!! Walked next block into Gamla Stan and had a sandwich in cafe and did some souvenir shopping and took some more pictures. We then walked back to the opera house and caught the free shuttle back and had a couple of peaceful hours in the pool area. We probably could have done the vasa museum in the time allotted but will get this next time. Helsinki: Caught free shuttle in to bus station and then walked down boulevard to harbour.. Had a look at harbour market and then bought a combined ticket from ferry office for 8 euros for two people for the 3t/3b tram circular tour round the city and a return ferry ride to suommellina fortress included in the price. Spent the morning hopping on and off the tram at the various city vantage points. You catch the tram adjacent to the market. You can get a free guide from the ferry office and look at which stop to get off to see them. The stops are clearly marked on the guide and come up on the screen on the tram before you get there. Took the ferry over to suommellina fortress in the afternoon and looked at a couple of the museums there and then walked back to the free shuttle from the harbour and back to the ship. Saw most of the Helsinki sights this way and 8 euros for 2 is certainly an economical way to do it. By now you will have realised that we like to explore on our own and see some different things than the ship's tours. The ship's tours were OK and those people who went on them did not have any issues. We managed to see everything that they did and were only short the guide. St. Petersburg: We opted for the ships tours on this port as we did not see the £80 visa fee for each of us as being a good deal if we were to try to do things on our own. We booked in advance for four half day tours with a lunch back at the ship in between on both days and this worked out fine, obviously it was a busy schedule, but you don't go to Russia to stay on the ship and we wanted to make the most of the time. We did have other options, Red October for example, and we were invited to join other CC board members on various outings but we felt that we would play safe with the ship's tours on this occasion. The guests who did the red October trips had nothing but praise for the organisation of the company and I did not hear any negative views from any of the board members who went with them and it was a highlight of the cruise for many. We were equally pleased with the ships tour's and would do them again. Here is a pen sketch of what we did. Day1 a.m. Hermitage tour: we had a good look around the hermitage and saw a good proportion of the highlights of the place. It has been said that if you spend 1 minute looking at every painting in the hermitage you would take about 9 years doing it!! I can well believe it for the place is massive and has a number of floors to explore. I shot so much film that I had to avail myself of the download facility at the photo shop as my 256 mb card was full when we came out. A truly remarkable place which you could not do justice in a week. Prepare to be amazed not only by the content of the building but by the fabric and decoration which has to be seen to be believed. The trip was worth it, in my opinion, for this one morning alone. There were a number of traders waiting on the pavement outside to sell you goods but I was not impressed by either their goods or demeanor so we left well enough alone Day 1 p.m. Peterhof palace and gardens: This tour takes you about 16 miles outside St Petersburg and you get a chance to see some of the "normal" areas of this Russian city. The gardens at Peterhof are spectacular and the fountains are excellent and work without the benefit of a pumping system and work on gravity alone which is an amazing achievement considering when they were built. We had a good guided tour of the gardens and were able to take some shots of the various aspects of the gardens and fountains during the tour, which was well described by our tour guide. There was a shopping opportunity at a covered stall market in the coach car park, which was better value and with lovely Russian stallholders and dollars were the order of the day. We got quite a few souvenirs here and we considered them good value. The guides on both tours were very knowledgeable and they were also prepared to talk about how they lived and other Russian day to day facts as well as the tour details and we all felt that they were excellent citizens of a city of which they were very proud. The opulence of the palaces, (and we passed President Putin's place on the way to Peterhof) was in stark contrast to the rest of the city which looks quite shabby in places and you can well understand how the revolution took place when a few people lived in such splendour and the majority were living in lesser circumstances. A poll that was conducted when the name changed back from Leningrad to St Petersburg was only 52% to 48% in favour of the name change and the citizens still relate to Leningrad, less because of Lenin, more because they were brought up in Leningrad and associated with that name. Day2 a.m. Catherine's Palace and Pushkin: early 0730 start and we got in early before the crowds. Still had to get in a line to get in and the private tours were going ahead on occasions (Red October, for those of you who have chosen this option). The palace is as opulent as the Hermitage but different in its way and well worth a visit. We toured the grounds afterwards and there was another Market on the car park (the best one of the trip for me) with pleasant stallholders and again the $ was accepted widely and good value. The guide today was different but equally knowledgeable and came up with the pearl that the KGB building never had traffic jams outside even now and that the locals reckoned that you got a great view of Siberia from the basement there. Day2 p.m. Did the rivers and canals tour with a visit to St Peter and Paul fortress where all the czars are buried first. One of the party had his wallet stolen whilst coming out of the church here and lost his credit cards and cash. The guides are constantly warning you to watch your valuables as pickpockets from eastern europe are operating in the city and you just need to keep an eye on you pocketbook and keep it stowed away in your clothing. I did not find this particularly intimidating because you can find this in almost any city in the civilised world and if you have something, someone generally wants to get it off you. You just need to take a sensible approach to how you behave and keep the minimum amount of cash and cards with you that you need and use the safe in the stateroom to guard the rest. We followed this approach and did not get stung !! The river tour was all around the city and took us past most of the main sights as the city is built on canals and most of the major buildings are built on them. Again good value for money. The four tours were very tiring but worth the effort and you don't go all that way without putting some serious effort into sightseeing!! Bear in mind on this cruise there is a five day intensive port schedule from Helsinki to Tallin and you need to take full advantage of the sea days to rest up and recuperate. Also bear in mind that from dover the clock goes forward three hours in total up to St. Petersburg so this adds to your transatlantic hours change and can be quite a challenge for the American guests. We left St. Petersburg happy but tired at about 7:00 local time in the evening. Make your mind up before the port what you are going to do about dining arrangements as well. There was a Russian buffet on this night from about 8 p.m to midnight if you wanted to miss the restaurant. Tallin Estonia: Tallin is a little gem of a place and we were blessed with good weather as well. You can take the free shuttle from the ship to the city centre and walk into the town which is very compact and see the sights. If you are not too good walking take a taxi to the Alexander nevsky cathedral at the top of the hill and walk down and see the sights and shops on your way down. We spent some time having a drink at one of the many open air cafes in the main square and then walked up to the cathedral (quite a steep climb but o.k.). There was a service on because it was Sunday but we could still go in. The cathedral is Russian Orthodox and the priests were chanting in a very deep voice and it was very moving. The Bishop was also in attendance at the service and in special robes for the occasion. Tallin shops are good and the prices seemed reasonable compared to Scandinavia in general. We got some watercolour prints from a nice lady on the climb up to the cathedral and were pleased with the purchase and quality. We went back to the ship in the early afternoon after having a good look around . A lovely little town with character and well worth a visit. You do not need the ships tours here. Warnemunde: Rostock The ship docked at Warnemunde cruise pier and the train for Berlin is right next to the pier and a 100 yard walk from the gangway. About 800-1000 guests must have got on the train which had lots of carriages and went to Berlin for the tour. We decided to do our own thing as usual and caught a train from the station to Rostock with some CC friends we had met on the boards. It costs 8 euros for two return fare and takes you from Warnemunde to Rostock in about 20 mins. Both stations are the end of the line so you cannot go wrong here! Rostock centre is about a 10 min walk from the main station and we strolled along the side of main tram tracks to get into the centre. Keep the tracks on your right and go down the road that is at two o'clock coming out of the station exit. We came across a large house that is a local jewish community and our friends, who are jewish, went inside with us to see and talk to the people. It turns out that they are all Russian jews who have settled here and are building a community. They showed us the small synagogue that is part of the building and were happy to give us some of the history of the community and what had happened to the community in the war years. Myself and my wife were equally interested as we are not of the Jewish faith and found the differences fascinating. The stroll into Rostock took us into the town centre at the market and town hall (Rathaus) square and we looked at the shops and went into the old baroque church (Marienkirken) which dates from the 15th century. There is a famous astronomical working clock from the churches early years still there and an enormous pipe organ with an unusually baroque housing. The town is a mixture of old Hanseatic buildings and modern malls and considering it was in East Germany until not so very long ago it is surprisingly pleasant to stroll around and see the sights. We lunched on german sausage and beer at an open air cafe in good weather again and then caught the train back to Warnemunde. We then spent a very enjoyable couple of hours on the harbour and sea front at warnemunde and looked in the shops and cafes and had a walk on the beach which was very clean, fine sand. We got back on the ship at about 5:30 p.m. and got ready for dinner. The Berlin train got back in at about 8:30 that evening and again a german buffet was provided up to midnight as an alternative to the main restaurants. Berlin trip feedback was mixed with some enjoying the trip and some complaining of the travelling time and delays and tiredness. The sailaway from Warnemunde was to music and an enthusiastic crowd of locals who came to wave us away and wish us bon voyage, altogether a pleasant end to an enjoyable day with a sea day to recover from the rigours of the last five days to look forward to and the prospect of getting one of the three hours back overnight. Copenhagen Denmark: Copenhagen is one of our favourite cities and did not disappoint on this visit which we played differently from last year. We took the free shuttle in to the centre and walked to Rosenburg castle to see the grounds and the crown jewels. The grounds were full of locals taking the sun on the lawns and grassed areas and the castle is a compact high castle with the usual formal rooms and sights that you will find in any castle in the world. We spent some time here and watched the troops drilling for a guard change in the adjacent palace yard. We then walked back in to the centre and had a coffee at a pavement cafe and went down the main pedestrian street . We went into the Round Tower which is a 15th century tower with a circular path up to the top which the king used to ride his carriage up. We had to walk however and were rewarded with some great views of the city and the ship from the top. We had done the canal tours last year and decided to ask for a price for a rickshaw tour from one of the many rickshaw riders you see around town. The deal was done with a resident Frenchman (yes Frenchman!!) and for 150 kroners he took us around most of the major sights with a commentary for the next half hour or more and it was excellent and he was able to go through back alleyways and cycle paths and avoid the traffic and it was surprising what he was able to show us in the time. We visited the parliament, amelioborg palace nyhaven, churches and numerous other sights that we would have worn a lot of show leather out to see. He was happy to stop for photos when necessary and was very helpful indeed. I can recommend this option to anyone wanting an overview of the city, it was great!! He only charged us 110 kroners in the end and it was a good deal all round. I happily paid him the original agreed fee and wished him well. We spent a happy hour or so in Nyhaven harbour having a drink and then strolled the 5 mins back to the free shuttle and went for tea on the ship. We took the Tivoli shuttle ($20 each inc admission) from the ship at 7 p.m. and spent the evening in Tivoli meeting friends from the ship and enjoying the free entertainment in the gardens. Beware though, most folks who ate in the gardens complained bitterly about the prices and one guy paid about $70 for a pizza meal and some wine for himself and his wife . The moral of the tale appears to be a) eat on the ship or b) check out the price board before sitting down in Tivoli!! The night was spent docked in Copenhagen. We opened the curtains next morning to a lovely view of the fort that was built after Nelson sank the Danish fleet in the harbour in 1800. The Danes were about to join the war against us with the French but Nelson won the day and left minus one of his arms in the process. We had a leisurely breakfast and then strolled along the waterfront to the left of the ship to Amelioborg palace and saw the guards patrolling in their bearskin hats and formal uniforms. There is a city water taxi on the water front that you can catch in to the city for shopping there or we chose to stroll along the front and enjoy the day. We passed a replica bronze of David, Michelangelo's statue from Florence full size and in all its naked glory. The palace gardens are pleasant and there is a great domed Lutheran church across from the palace that has a host of statuary in the surrounding gardens and a huge whispering gallery inside similar to St Paul's in London. Sailaway was 12 noon so we strolled back having a drink along the way and got back on the ship after last minute shopping at langelinie pier and sailed away reluctantly at 12 noon. Epilogue: Cruising must be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your vacation time and this cruise in particular, though port intensive, has much to offer the seasoned or unseasoned traveller. All of these cities with perhaps the exception of St. Petersburg, where you need to exercise more caution, are safe to walk in and see for yourself how the locals live. For those of you who enjoy the ship's tours there is nothing wrong with that and they are many and varied, if a little expensive. For us we much prefer to explore and do our own thing, and in that we sometimes do and see some things that we might not have on a normal guided tour. The ship was all that we had expected and more. The food and entertainment were first class and the celebrity staff were a cut above the usual. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and would go back tomorrow if we could. I hope your trip is equally good for you and that you have as many enjoyable memories to bring back home as we were blessed with. Happy cruising and don't forget to sign up to the CC party which was held in Michael's club for us on the first sea day at 10:00. Jim and Margaret Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
SUMMARY: My wife, daughter (11 y.o.) and I had a great time on our Southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation, and we are already thinking about our next cruise aboard this ship. BACKGROUND: Our previous cruise experience was aboard ... Read More
SUMMARY: My wife, daughter (11 y.o.) and I had a great time on our Southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation, and we are already thinking about our next cruise aboard this ship. BACKGROUND: Our previous cruise experience was aboard the Galaxy in February, 2000 on a similar Southern Caribbean cruise. EMBARKATION: Smooth with no problems. My only nit to pick is the bus that transported us from the airport to the ship was a little shabby. SHIP: The ship is beautiful and still has a new look and feel. In particular, I found the signage in the elevators and on each deck to be helpful in finding destinations. The ship has a main pool and a "kiddie" pool along with four hot tubs and two showers for rinsing off. The main pool was a decent size and was never crowded. Both my daughter and I found the water to be extremely salty, more than I remember on the Galaxy. Also the hot tubs were more like warm tubs. The spa area was a heavenly oasis of quiet. The warm water of the pool was soothing, evoking an "Ahh" whenever we entered the pool. Two of the four sides of the pool had contoured "benches" under which emanated gentle bubbles. Five minutes on the "bench" was enough to start the "I'm turning into Jello" mode. Two hot tubs flanked the pool and were available to finish the job that the pool started. CABINS: The cabin decor was bright, colorful and conveyed a sense of spaciousness. Upon arrival, we were pleased to find a bottle of champagne and a bowl of fresh fruit. The quality of both was very good. Both the bed and the pull-out couch were quite comfortable. The towels in the bathroom were Egyptian cotton, thick and absorbent. Cushioned chairs on the balcony was a nice touch. Peter, our cabin attendant, was outstanding. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Dominican Republic: Based on lots of Internet research, we passed on seeing the Dominican Republic. Later that day when people returned to the ship, we heard horror stories about the kayak tour (beached kayaks; lots of jellyfish) and power boat excursions (three of five boats had engine trouble). Barbados: We took the Five Star Catamaran Cruise. My daughter and I enjoyed sitting on the forward netting while the boat sailed towards our rendezvous with sea turtles. Watching sea turtles "flying" through the water was an unforgettable sight. Lunch was tasty and consisted of fried flying fish, spicy BBQ chicken, decadent mac and cheese, and assorted salads. I tried to drink a rum punch but it was way too strong for my taste. A great excursion that I highly recommend. Grenada: Grenada was a tender port. We had no firm plans for this island so we rode the tender into port and walked along the waterfront. Unfortunately, the natives are quite aggressive in soliciting services, and I would not like to repeat the experience. On the tender ride back to the ship, we chatted with two couples who went to Grande Anse beach, and they were very disappointed (sea weed; lots of shells in the sand; pesky natives). Antigua: Eli's Eco Tour was awesome! The first part of the tour was a high-speed cruise along the coast along with Eli's narrative about the history of the island intermixed with current events and gossip about a Texas millionaire's construction projects on the island. The first stop was Bird Island. Our group of about twenty took a short hike (5 min)to the top of the island where we watched for Humpback whales and took in the incredible vistas. After returning to the boat, we took Eli's quick snorkel refresher "course". Next up was lunch - BBQ chicken, plantains, chopped salad and incredible carrot cake. Drinks included passion fruit and tamarind juices in addition to the standard Coke/Diet Coke/water. After lunch we motored to Hell's Gate and dropped anchor. I did the cave hike which was short but interesting while my wife and daughter snorkeled near the boat. Eli moved the boat a couple of hundred yards off of Hell's Gate to a better snorkel spot and we snorkeled again. Rum punch was served on the return to port. A super way to experience Antigua. St. Thomas: We loved Magen's Bay on our last visit to St. Thomas so we decided to go again. Last time we took the Celebrity excursion but did not get enough beach time. For this visit, we decided to cab it ($6/pp/each way). A nice, quiet and relaxing day at a stunning beach. FOOD: Breakfast: Our morning ritual aboard the ship was to pig out on Anita's incredible chocolate croissants and Beata's yummy iced cappuccinos in the Cova Cafe. Lunch: The lunch buffet in the Seaside cafe, which was themed every day, was hit or miss. For example, the Mexican lunch was tasty but the Italian lunch was not. My wife and daughter tried the hamburgers by the pool and thought that they were pretty good. One day I ate a yummy Garlic chicken dish from the Spa cafe. Dinner: My one worry about taking a Celebrity cruise after the acquisition by RCCL was the food quality. Fortunately, every meal that we ate in the San Marco restaurant was delicious. Some of the memorable dishes included chicken consomme, beef consomme, onion soup and all of the beef. The only unappetizing dish was a dry, chewy lobster tail. ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment is not a priority for us on a cruise. We went to one show, called Batacuda, that none of us liked. FITNESS & RECREATION: The ship has a well-equipped gym with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, resistance machines and free weights. The equipment was Life Cycle brand and in perfect working order. CONCLUSION: The Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Constellation is a fantastic vacation that we hope to repeat in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
This was our first time on the Constellation, although we sailed on the Galaxy last year. This was also our first transatlantic crossing,(in 15 cruises) and undoubtedly the cleanest ship we have ever been on. Furnishings, art work, and ... Read More
This was our first time on the Constellation, although we sailed on the Galaxy last year. This was also our first transatlantic crossing,(in 15 cruises) and undoubtedly the cleanest ship we have ever been on. Furnishings, art work, and floral arrangements throughout are most attractive. The stateroom (Concierge Class) was quite comfortable and had more than adequate storage for two. Ship's personnel were unfailingly polite and responsive. Service at the ports of call was excellent for both pre-arranged excursions and solo expeditions. Where applicable the ship provided free shuttle service and there were uaually easy alternatives to the listed tours. On most days at sea one would hardly know the ship was moving; on one day of truly high seas a few of us had some difficulty walking, but there was no evidence of sea sickness, nor did things roll about on the stateroom shelves, as has been our experience in the past. Obviously the stabilizers work well. Entertainment was good overall, and spectacular in terms of stage effects and presentation on "big show" nights. The Theater is so arranged that all seats provide an excellent and comfortable view of the stage. Throughout the ship there were also many small musical groups playing most of the evening. We heard all of them, even the solo harpist, and they were outstanding, each in its own venue. We did find the food somewhat disappointing as we had on our previous Celebrity cruise, but we have dined in some of the world's finest restaurants and know that with thousands of meals to prepare, it is difficult to please everyone. In view of the following rating scale, I will add that embarkation debarkation went very snmoothly on the ship, but we were neither graciously greeted at the San Juan Airport nor were we given any help in getting our bags out to the traffic island where we were to await the bus to the ship - for a half hour or so. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
I am posting this review here since this site was great in providing me some detailed information for our Celebrity Constellation, Southern Caribbean Cruise, April 17-24 2004. A little background information: This was our 4th cruise ... Read More
I am posting this review here since this site was great in providing me some detailed information for our Celebrity Constellation, Southern Caribbean Cruise, April 17-24 2004. A little background information: This was our 4th cruise and 1st on Celebrity. Our previous cruises were: Carnival Fantasy (1995), SunCruise Sunbird (1999) and RCCL Voyager of the Seas (2001). We have taken land-based, resort vacations in Cuba (2002) and Dominican Republic (2003) and enjoyed them almost as much as our cruises. My wife and I are in our mid-30's with no children. Although this review may be too lengthy for your liking, my aim is to provide 'detailed' information that people may be able to use. I find most people at this site are looking for minute details, tour company names, guide names, taxi drivers, specific foods etc. I will provide as much of these details as possible. Day 1 (Sat Apr17): We boarded Constellation at approx 2:30pm and I have to say that it was a breeze. There was a line up but practically no wait and once we got to the counter the processing took maybe 2 min at the most. There were refreshments provided just before you got in line. Easily the best check in out of four cruises. Why can't they all do it like this? The rest of the day was spent touring the ship, dinner, unpacking and the muster drill (which seemed unnecessarily long). After grabbing our life jackets we met in Michael's Bar and waited for about 20-25min before all heading out to the deck for another 15-20min. I still don't understand why we just couldn't meet on deck. Except for that very minor inconvenience we had a great day and were happy to be safely on board. Dinner (casual) - I had cold soup most nights (excellent), prime rib (excellent again) I always had dessert but can never remember what I had. I'm usually not that big on dessert but they were all very good on the Constellation. Day 2 (Sun Apr18): Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic - I had read many negative reviews about this port. Most of you may already know that it is a recently added port by Celebrity and that there is not much to do or see in the immediate area. Celebrity however, provides free shuttles to Altos de Chavon and the Marina for its passengers. I don't know what to tell you about staying on the ship or going to Altos de Chavon or the Marina. We went to Altos de Chavon and I agree, there is not much there to see. But the thought of being on the ship straight from Saturday to Tuesday made us decide to get off the ship and have a look around; besides, the price was right. Altos de Chavon had some nice buildings and some Celebrity staff told us later in the day that it was used for a movie set (Anaconda). Not quite sure if that's true but it was worth seeing for about 20 min or so. We were there no longer than 30min before looking for a shuttle to head back to the ship. Since I had read earlier that Altos de Chavon was more interesting than the marina, we decided to pass on the marina and went directly back to the ship. The shuttle bus ride was 25min to Altos de Chavon one-way. The rest of the day was spent around the pool, dinner, show etc. It was a fun and relaxing day. I thought the evening shows were very good. I wasn't thrilled with the juggling and ladder act (1st night) but the musical productions were well done. I thought the comedian was pretty good too. Dinner (semi-formal) - fish entree, filet of halibut if I recall correctly (very good) Day 3 (Mon Apr19) Day at Sea - As with most days at sea on other ships, the pool area was fairly crowded but we managed to get a decent spot in the sun. But very soon the nice spot in the sun turned into a bad spot in the rain. It rained off and on and quite heavily at times although many observed that the captain and crew seemed to be earnestly trying to avoid raining areas. Although successful at times, there was no avoiding the rain completely and we got caught in some torrential downpour. At times, it was neat watching the rain at a distance when we were in a clear spot and seeing it pour only several hundred feet away. My wife took this opportunity to attend a flower arranging class (she said it was pretty good) and although she invited me to go with her, I politely declined being the vessel of testosterone that I am. I then proceeded to walk down a few levels and lightened my wallet at the casino where the blackjack dealer was killing us. I think I lost three or four hands where I had 20! But hey, I was on vacation so I still had fun. The sun eventually came back out, so we got a little more sun and swimming in before getting ready for dinner. Walked by the art auction...then did a little shopping in the galleria area. Since this was the last cruise in the Caribbean before heading to Europe, there may have been a bit better prices on some items than usual. Not sure about that, but nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised that prices were not that bad on some items. I think I paid $1.25 for a nice mug and $30 for a very nice Celebrity sweatshirt with zipper. Dinner (formal) - Filet mignon (excellent), by this time I was realizing that the beef was arriving a little more well done than I had asked. I believe this was due to the long trip from the kitchen to the main dining room during which time the beef was still cooking. So from this point on I ordered my beef medium instead of medium-well and it arrived just as I like it, a thin pink line in the middle. (With Homer's drooling face - mmmmm steak....) Day 4 (Tues Apr20): Bridgetown, Barbados - We had been to Bridgetown once before on a cruise and spent the day walking around Bridgetown. Since we didn't want to do that again, I decided we should do something a little more interesting. I had read on this board about someone taking a local bus to Mullins Beach and saying that it was pretty safe. Well, that's all the encouragement I needed. After taking the free shuttle bus from the ship to terminal (bus and taxi area) about a 1min ride, we then boarded another shuttle into town ($1.00 each). This is about a 3min ride which drops you off in a busy area of Bridgetown. I had read that the Bridgetown bus terminal was nearby but I couldn't see it anywhere. After walking aimlessly for a minute or two, during which time the Empress (my wife) was none too pleased, I decided to ask for directions. See ladies, not all men refuse to ask for directions...although I fully admit to thinking that I was not lost but on an unplanned adventure at the time...but I chickened out and asked for directions anyway to avoid the wrath of the Empress later on. The bus terminal ended up being about a 5min walk from the drop off point. I'm not sure which direction we were facing at that point but you need to walk in the opposite direction of the water. There were many friendly people willing to help so don't be afraid to ask for directions along the way, this means you too, guys. The local bus was quite an experience. As reported on this board, there was blasting reggae music the whole time. There was an older lady who looked about 70 who was sleeping through the whole thing too. What you need to know (which I didn't and looked like a lost tourist) is that you don't pay when you walk onto the bus like you do in North America. In fact, there was no place to put money in when you got on the bus. After looking dumbfounded for about 10 seconds we sat down like everybody else. Later, we found out that after giving you a few minutes to settle in your seat and get your money ready, another guy on the bus comes around collecting the fare and giving change. They accepted US currency and the ride was .75 cents USD. If you want to go to Paynes or Mullins beach you need to take the bus that goes to "Speightstown" or sometimes written as "S'Town". Mullins beach was about a 45min bus ride from Bridgetown. I politely asked the guy giving change if he could let me know when we got to Mullins Beach and he did just that. The beach was very nice. Some people from the Constellation were there but it was not crowded. I paid $8 for two beach chairs and an umbrella. Snorkeling was minimal (I took my own gear, saw rentals for boats, sea doo, water skiing but not sure if they had snorkel gear for rent). I saw small groups of little fish without going too far out. There is a bar there "Suga Suga" which had beer and food too. The Banks beer was good ($3.50 USD I think). I had planned to take a taxi back to the ship if the ride or searching for Mullins beach was hectic but it was quite the opposite. You get off the bus and walk right on to the beach. I was watching to see how often the buses come by for the return trip and it was about every 15min or so. When we went to the bus stop on our way back, we just missed a bus but another came along in less than 5min (got lucky, I guess). Because this was not your regular ship tour with 30-40 other people and because we mixed a little with the locals, I really enjoyed this day in Barbados. My wife got a kick out of it as well which is very good since I was dangerously close to being kicked by her earlier in the day. Dinner (casual) - Coq au Vin, otherwise known as chicken in wine sauce for those of you who are French challenged. This dinner was just ok and probably my least favourite dinner of the week. That's not to say it was bad because it wasn't, just not as good as the other nights. Day 5 (Wed Apr21) St. George's, Grenada: Again, the research on Cruise Critic paid off here. Since this day was the Empress's birthday and the main reason behind our trip, I wanted to make sure it was a "regal" and hassle free day. After reading many recommendations, I booked a tour with Mandoo Tours: http://www.grenadatours.com/ I just emailed him asking about price and notified him of the date that we'd be in Grenada. He replied right away and the cost of $40 each was well worth it. He met us at the dock where we tendered and most of the people on his tour were people who had heard of him on the Cruise Critic board. I think we had close to 20 people. If you are interested in really learning about the background and history of this Island, you really should think about this tour. After the bus tour, we asked Mandoo to take us to Grand Anse beach, which he did gladly. Everyone else was tired from our extensive tour and went back to the ship. After about 2 hours at the beach, Mandoo came back to pick us up and took us back to the tender (All included in the $40 price). The day in Grenada went perfectly without a hitch and was very enjoyable. We were treated royally and rightly so considering the company and occasion J. I was glad to pay him $100 for the two of us for a great day and probably the highlight of the week. Dinner (semi-formal) - Why mess with success? Went back to beef and had an 8oz NY Sirloin Steak (medium) which was good. Not as tender as the other steak dinners but this was NY sirloin not prime rib or filet mignon so it was expected. Day 6 (Thurs Apr22) St. John's, Antigua: Like Barbados, we had been here once before and it was not our favourite port. Previously, we took the snorkeling excursion and then walked around St. John's. We hardly saw anything while snorkeling and noticed many aggressive homeless people around St. John's. But many people seem to enjoy Antigua so I was determined to really see this Island and have a better experience this time around. We went with a taxi driver (Norris) who was an affable, older man and one of many taxi drivers looking for fares at the dock. For $60 he agreed to drive the two of us to Nelson's Dockyard, Shirley Heights, with a few other stops along the way (he said he would lower the fare if we found 2 other people to go with us but we didn't bother). We wanted to be back to the ship by about 12:30 for lunch. We saw a lot in 3-4 hours and the views from the mountaintop were spectacular. Got some great photos here. Antigua really is a beautiful place and the water seems bluer here than anywhere else for some reason. After driving us back to the ship for lunch, we agreed to him picking us up again an hour later to take us to the beach. Norris was right there waiting for us when we left the ship to go to the beach an hour later. I asked him to take us to Hawksbill so we could do some snorkeling. Other than Long Bay, I read that Hawksbill is the best for snorkeling and Norris confirmed that. I originally wanted to go to Long Bay but it is on the other side of the Island from port so that was out. Hawksbill was about 15-20min away and instead of the usual $30; Norris charged us $20 since we were with him in the morning). The amenities are bare at Hawksbill (little shack with soft drinks and umbrella rental, which we did not use) but the snorkeling was fantastic. One meter into the water there is a slight drop and then some coral spread out here and there. From one meter in (about 4ft deep) you can see fish swimming around you. I took many underwater pics here and snorkeled practically the whole time until Norris picked us up. My wife even saw a starfish crawling by her feet, which sent her running out of the ocean full speed. One other note, we saw only four other people on this beach, who were not there long and the rest of the time we had the whole beach to ourselves. Not sure if this was because the time of day (we were there from around 2:15-4:15) but this place was deserted. Our first visit to Antigua might not have been our favourite but this time around it was definitely one of the highlights. I still think about our relaxing and fun time at Hawksbill beach occasionally with fond memories. Dinner (formal) - Lobster, and a huge tasty lobster tail it was! I had plans for seconds but alas, the full stomach overruled the hungry eyes and that's the way it goes sometimes. Day 7 (Fri Apr23) Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Otherwise known as the shopping capital of the Caribbean. The only thing I was looking for was a couple of souvenir t-shirts and maybe some hot sauce. The t-shirts were $10 each in Grenada and Antigua and they were 5 for $10 in St. Thomas. Score! My enthusiasm was soon quelled when I looked around and realized that surrounding me was a shopping area where every other store is a jewelry store. My wife's eyes lit up and I nearly had a stroke right there. I was led from jewelry store to jewelry store and everywhere the Empress went, the lamb was sure to go. Wife: Can we go in here? Me: Baa. Wife: Let's go into this shop. Me: Baa, baa. Miraculously, we did not purchase any jewelry. Perhaps she was graciously rewarding me for my quick action in asking for directions earlier in the week. In any case, I escaped a most formidable jewelry trap unscathed with my Visa card still cool to the touch. Score one large victory for the underdog here. Neither of us wanted to leave St. Thomas after only seeing the shopping area in Charlotte Amalie and believe me, there were many taxi drivers persuading us of the same. We happened to walk by a very outgoing guy calling himself 'Doc' who like many others had a modified Ford F-150 to carry 16 or so passengers in the back (and pretty comfortably, I might add). For $15 each we had a tour for about 3 hours that took us to the top of the mountain nearby (try the famous banana daiquiri there), a few stops along the way at strategic spots to take pictures and a quick stop at Magen's Bay to drop anyone off who wanted to stay at the beach and a ride back to the ship for the others. It was a bargain. Doc was pretty funny too with some jokes and stories during the tour. Some of my favourite pictures from this vacation were taken during this tour. The rest of the day was spent by the pool (albeit a little sadly since we realized that this was the last day), dinner, martini bar and show. If Sudi is your bartender on the Constellation make sure you pay him a visit at the Martini Bar. He was very entertaining with his tricks and showmanship. We had martinis on a few nights and they were excellent. Dinner (casual) - For the life of me I cannot remember what I had this night. I'm pretty sure it wasn't beef because as much as I enjoy it, I usually don't have it 3 times in one week and by this point I had enough. There's one thing I need to mention about the food on the Constellation. Both my wife and I really liked the fact that you could eat healthy if you chose to. Especially in the Cafe in the spa area (where we had most of our lunches), it was very easy to eat healthy the whole week. And overall, there was generally a healthier and more dignified approach to food as opposed to the "strap on the feeding bag" frenzy of the buffets previously experienced on other cruises. Of course, that didn't stop some people from making absolute gluttons of themselves but to each his own. Day 8 (Sat Apr24) Disembarkation - Not much to write about here. Since we had a 10am flight, we were among the first group to get off the ship after docking at around 7am and made it to the airport with plenty of time. Very smooth and easy. I don't know what other advice to give other than this: try to have some consideration for those around you. There are way too many yellers in this world already. I enjoyed not having the regular broadcasts for bingo etc by the ship but felt the people talking louder than any PA speaker replaced it. Having said that, relax and don't let little things bother you if everything doesn't go perfectly. Vacation time is far too precious to waste over petty things. Besides, if you are booked on this cruise you are on the best, large cruise ship of 2003 according to Conde Nast: http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/lists/cruiseships04/large and it doesn't get much better than that. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions, ask them in this thread (http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=147097554&m=334104791&r=334104791#334104791) and I'll try my best to answer. Happy travels. -David. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
OVERVIEW: This was our fourth Cruise, and the second time we have traveled on a Celebrity Ship. There were a total of eight family members traveling with us on this vacation. We purchased our airfare separate from our cruise and stayed in ... Read More
OVERVIEW: This was our fourth Cruise, and the second time we have traveled on a Celebrity Ship. There were a total of eight family members traveling with us on this vacation. We purchased our airfare separate from our cruise and stayed in San Juan the day before and the day after the cruise. SHIP: Two members of our group had previously traveled on Constellation's sister ship. The ship appeared very clean and I think you could definitely tell it was built recently in 2002 vs. other older ships we have traveled on. EMBARKATION: We checked out of the hotel at one O'clock PM and took a taxi to the dock. The boarding time listed on our documents was listed as two o'clock pm. We were surprised to find that there were not very many people in the short line inside the terminal. Once onboard the ship there was a short line to get inside. Overall there were no delays and we were very happy with the short amount of time embarkation took. CABIN: Our Cabin 9003 (on Sky Deck/Deck 9) had an adjoining door (which we requested) since we were traveling with our children. The cabin was the most spacious we have seen. There was plenty of closet space for hanging clothes, (and enough hangers for two people), with plenty of drawer space. The door connecting 9003 and 9007 has a lock on it, but only the Asst. Hotel Manager has a keys to lock/unlock the door, not the room steward. We left the door unlocked all week, but it would have been a nice feature to have a sliding bolt lock on our side of the door. The bathroom/shower were bigger than we expected from those we have seen in the past. There is a safe in the cabin which was easy to use and worked well, it has an electronic combination or you can use a credit card to open/close it (no charge). The only noise/music we barely noticed was one night from the deck above, but it seemed to travel through the open hallway rather than through the walls/ceiling and didn't cause us to loose any sleep. SHIP MOTION: As with any ship it seemed we noticed some motion the first night and the last night. Our Waiter said that those two nights are when motion was most felt because of the open sea. Our cabin was high up and forward so I expected we would notice more motion than someone mid-ship on a lower deck. (Something to consider when booking your cruise). If your have never been on a cruise get some medication or a patch before you go (just in case). SHORE EXCURSIONS: We used Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions on Barbados (4x4 Adventure & Paradise Beach), and Antigua (Mini Boats Rental). DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: We left the ship and there were taxis waiting. There are set government rates posted on the signs there. We asked to go to a beach that was recommended to us. The driver took us to Dominica Beach I think, (a Public Beach which was busy on this Sunday) which had a few shops (small huts with plastic tarps for walls). The beach was ok overall, but we later realized that this was not where we asked to go. There were other people from the ship at this beach, but not many. You couldn't walk this beach because there were resorts with Security on both sides. No rental of anything available, chairs, umbrella, etc. After returning to the ship and changing we took the free shuttle bus to an area to go shopping. We ended up in a small area near a Marina where there were shops; however the shops were selling expensive items and since we arrived there late in the day not many were open. I only saw one that was geared towards people on vacation. BARBADOS: This was our second time to Barbados. Went to Harrison's Cave and Island tour last time and it was worth it. Also went to Carlisle Bay Beach. For fewer than ten dollars you can enter, get a couple of drink tokens, a chair, and umbrella. There is a large floating inter tube to dive off of, and other water related items available. This was our second time to this beach. There is shopping in a medium size commercial type covered strip mall where you can buy stamps and mail postcards at the post office, as well as purchase alcohol, rum cake, souvenirs, etc. We were told you could walk to town. It appeared to be about one mile from the ship and we didn't find the need to explore it. I took the Celebrity-sponsored 4x4 Adventure Land Rover Tour & Paradise Beach. I enjoyed the trip which lasted about three hours. Our guide "Tammy" driving "No Big Ting" was a great guide and an enjoyable person to learn from. The adventure visited places that were not accessible to tour buses. The convoy (four land rovers on our trip) went through Fisherpond Sugar Cane Estate and Coffee Gully before passing St John's Church built in 1645. There were panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Eastern Coastline of Barbados. We stopped at Bathsheba where refreshments were served. Rum Punch (with or without alcohol) and Rum Cake. The convoy then traveled downhill into Cattlewash and past Holetown before arriving at Paradise Beach for a brief swim and refreshments before heading back to the ship. Restrooms were available at both stops. It was a great adventure. GRENADA: This was the only port we had to tender into. The ship used its tenders and there were tenders from the harbor also tendering in passengers. There was no wait when we tendered, however the tender was full. We were told our tender from the ship would hold 150 people. When arriving onshore in St George, there were small stands set up across the street from the Fire Station. Most of them sell the same items, Spices, Cinnamon, Syrup, etc. There are some shops in town that have more selection. We took a taxi to Annandale Falls which we were told was eight miles from St George. You could dive off a rock ledge into where the falls drain into which was marked as eighteen feet deep. I would say the drop from where you can jump was ten feet up, but the falls were probably another fifteen feet up on the opposite side. The rest of our group went to Concord Falls (a smaller set of falls) and Grand Anse Beach. ANTIGUA: Six people took a taxi to Dickerson Bay Beach. The other two took the Celebrity-sponsored shore excursion for the Mini-Boats/Great Bird Island. A shuttle bus took us to a Marina where we were given instructions on how to operate a small zodiac boat. The fiberglass hull boat with inflatable pontoons had a twenty five horse power outboard motor and all equipment appeared new. The tour guide told us this was a new operation. Each boat has a cooler which is used to keep items dry. The cooler is big enough to put an average size backpack in. The boat then travel together to Great Bird Island. Once you arrive you can hike up a hill for about two minutes to get some great pictures, or you have about one hour to swim. The water was clear and there was a nice beach but it was suited more for someone who doesn't swim well because it had a gradual drop off, but you could only go out to about five feet deep because of seaweed growing from the bottom/reefs. I felt it was worth the trip. St.THOMAS: This was my third time in St Thomas; our original plan was to take a water taxi to St John, however since we didn't do that first thing in the morning more than one person said it wasn't worth it because we would have to rush back. There is plenty of shopping within walking distance of the ship. We have been to Meagan's Bay in the past and the view was nice but the water wasn't as clear as the beach next to Coral World which we have also been to. After speaking with a gentleman at a tourist booth who seemed very knowledgeable he recommended Sapphire Bay Beach for Wave runner Rental. It was forty dollars for thirty minutes, and eighty dollars for one hour. I've only ridden a wave runner a few times and opted for the thirty minutes. There was plenty of room to ride, and a second person can ride with for free. The wave runners were full size and looked like a newer model. It appeared they were capable of holding three people. The only problem I found was that the wind was causing good size continuous waves and I couldn't go very fast, but I'd rent one again in the future. While I was riding the wave runner the rest of the group was swimming. There is a resort where we were dropped off, and they would rent you chairs, there was also a bar and a small store where you could purchase soda pop. The beach was clean, and the water was clear. There was a drop off about three feet out if you tried to wade out to go swimming, and the drop off was a bit rocky. We thought the view was better than Megan's Bay. SAN JUAN: We took a taxi to see "The Forts of Old San Juan" which are "El Morro, San Felipe Castle, Museum & Lighthouse" and San Cristobal, Castle. There is an admission fee at each, you save a dollar if you buy a combination ticket which gets you into both. They are in walking distance of each other, but it seemed a bit far to walk. I enjoyed walking through the forts and wish I had done it sooner on one of our previous trips. SERVICE: The service on Celebrity is excellent. It really stands out after you have traveled with another cruise line. This cruise was no different. Our Room Stewards were great, and Waitress Sanely and Asst Waiter Lukas at Dinner were excellent. The Captains Club party was nice. We missed the one on the last cruise. FOOD: It was never ending. I only attended Breakfast once and wasn't impressed with the speed of service. I think the buffet was a better option. Lunch at the Grill or the Buffet always had something to offer. Dinner always offered more options that what I could try in one night. We requested late seating and Dinner 8:30 and it usually took two hours which was fine except that kids club closes at ten o'clock and we were usually just ordering desert at that time. We ordered room service for coffee and rolls in the morning. It came early every morning (beware). KIDS CLUB: While our daughter had fun and didn't have anything to complain about regarding kids club, the hours they were open were not the best. After 10 pm you pay six dollars per hour, and if I recall correctly the were closed between 12 noon and 2 pm, and closed between 5pm and 6 pm which really cuts out some options we had on other cruise lines. There were two formal nights were Kids Club was free from 10pm to 1am, however those were the nights were we wanted both kids with us for dinner. They just attended 30 min late after dinner was over. ENTERTAINMENT: We only attended one show with a Comedian on this cruise. He was good. POOL: The enclosed pool area for Adults only was GREAT. Kids have to stay at the pool outside (ship rules). DRINKS: A bit expensive, but very good. We found inconsistencies of the drinks in the Martini Bar. SUMMARY: A great 4th cruise for us. The ship was excellent, we couldn't expect anything more. Can't wait to go on the next one. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We just got back from a week aboard the Constellation. I travelled with my brother (age 39), son (age 15), sister (age 35) and her twin four year old girls, and my aunt (age 59). We all had a fabulous time. The food, service, and ... Read More
We just got back from a week aboard the Constellation. I travelled with my brother (age 39), son (age 15), sister (age 35) and her twin four year old girls, and my aunt (age 59). We all had a fabulous time. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. Last year, we sailed on RCI's Voyager and had a wonderful time, but a very different experience. The itinerary for this trip included some beautiful islands and the Constellation is a more elegant ship. However, the entertainment on RCI was much better (ice skating show, a circ de soleil type show, etc.). We went to the specialty restaurant which was fabulous - I was hesitant because I enjoyed the main dining room, but the food was definitely something to write home about! The Fun Factory kids program was terrific. We just can't say enough good things. The only criticism I have is that the Contellation draws an older crowd and there is more smoking on board than I remember on the Voyager. They seem to allow smoking in a lot of places on the Constellation (one whole side of the ship) and it gets annoying. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
For our first time cruise, this could not have been any better! It was easy embarkation and we were on the ship by 12:00 Noon. We had booked our own flight and the cab to the pier was easy. We took the rest of the day for site-seeing in ... Read More
For our first time cruise, this could not have been any better! It was easy embarkation and we were on the ship by 12:00 Noon. We had booked our own flight and the cab to the pier was easy. We took the rest of the day for site-seeing in San Juan. Our luggage was in our room by 5:30 and we took the late afternoon before dinner to unpack. We were told it was open seating for dinner and we were to come at 6:30. We elected to still go at 8:30 and there was no problems. I highly recommend a room with a veranda, we are spoiled and will never do without! With late seating for dining we spent most late afternoons (the ship left ports around 6:00 pm every evening) enjoying the view and room service. Breakfast on the veranda was also a treat. It is amazing to see that most of our pictures of the island themselves were taken from our balcony! First stop in DR was one we would have done without, but as it was our first cruise, we were excited to see anything available. Other than the Casa De Campo resort excursion, most passengers agreed this was not worth the stop. Our day at sea was fun and spent by the pool meeting other cruisers and enjoying the activities provided by the staff. In Barbados we booked the 5 Star Catamaran excursion and it was wonderful! Strictly 5 star! The boat, activities, and food were all amazing. We did not see much of the town or island, except as we cruised in the catamaran. In Grenada, the town looks very pretty from ship, but is extremely poor and somewhat depressing. We took our own cab to the Grand Anse Beach, which was pretty, but really rough surf and the vendors hounded you constantly. Not our thought of a Caribbean getaway. Antigua was pretty and we enjoyed shopping. We did our own beach again and went to Dickinson Bay. Very pretty and enjoyable. There were some good buys from the vendors, but they did not approach you, they were set up in 'shops' along the beach. Found some good gifts to take home to family. Several restaurants there as well. St. Thomas was by far what we had been waiting for. Very, very pretty. After doing some shopping in town (great place to buy a digital camera) we did another beach and went to Coki Beach. This was by far what we had been looking for all along. Something right off Gilligan's Island! Calm, clear as a swimming pool, and great amenities. Dinners were wonderful for the most part, a chance to try some unknown foods, and to have seconds of those you loved! We did go to Oceanliners on Wednesday (this works best for the schedule of the week) and it was excellent - it met all the expectations we had. We only made two shows, and they were enjoyable but not of the quality we had heard for most cruises. They were something you would see put on in a high school production, not by actual paid performers. But with late seating dinner, there were not many shows that fit within our schedule. The ship and staff could not have been nicer. Everyone was friendly and willing to help in any way. Our assistant waiter, Livia, was the best! Formal dress did not translate to what I considered formal. The men were dressed but many ladies were in pants with dressy tops, and some teenagers were not dressy at all. I did not see anyone turned away. If you like to dress as we do, by all means, but do not fret over what to take for formal nights. On disembarkation we were told we would have to find a place to store our luggage while visiting San Juan, as our flight did not leave until early evening. We were told by the ship that the airport would not take our luggage up to two hours before our flight. We left the ship at 10:30 am and went straight to the airport. Luckily we did as it took over 1 1/2 hours in line to check our luggage (they DID take it for us without a problem even though it was almost 6 hours before our flight). We then took a cab over to the Ritz Carlton, had lunch, lounged by the pool in the shade, shopped and then went back to the airport in time for our flight. Much easier than having to store our luggage somewhere and retrieve it before we boarded. We saw some people miss their planes as they waited until the two hours before flights and then could not maneuver the lines for baggage check-in. The San Juan airport is not 'user-friendly'. One other item to note, there were many messages on the boards about alcohol brought on ship. We saw people buying in the port at San Juan before we left, walk right on with bottles, cases of beer, etc. And in other ports, we never saw anyone have their's confiscated. There was talk about people buying liquor in the ship's emporium and taking it right back to their cabin. Do not worry with packing your own, if you would rather buy in port or on board! This was our first cruise, and we would not change a thing. We are already looking for a next one! The Constellation is an amazing lady!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. ... Read More
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. Embarkation -- 3 We had a nightmare experience getting to San Juan after being bumped from our flight. We actually met up with the Constellation on Sunday in the Dominican Republic. The travel department at Celebrity was absolutely NO help at all. In fact, if I could give the staff at Celebrity a negative rating here I would. However, the crew of the Constellation was very helpful and friendly: meeting us at the airport in the Dominican Republic, steering us through local Immigration/Customs, and preparing our cruise documents rapidly. Their deserved 6 star rating averages out the 0 stars for the Celebrity travel department for an overall rating of 3. I should note that on my prior Celebrity cruise aboard Infinity out of San Juan our embarkation was very smooth. Public Rooms - 6 The overall architectural atmosphere aboard the Millennium ships is quite nice. Not too glitzy, not too subdued. All public areas aboard these ships are adorned with original art and photography pieces, giving them an aura of elegance without being snobby. The color scheme of the boat's interior is spot-on, but I must admit I find the exterior of the ship to not be my cup-of-tea. Rest assured that you will not find a better variety of areas more tastefully decorated on any other cruise liner currently at sea. I'm sure there are more richly/elegantly appointed boats at sea, but I doubt one could book a cruise on them at this price point. A+ Cabin - 5 Our cabin was very utilitarian and pretty, though somewhat disappointing for me after having stayed in a Sky Suite on my prior cruise aboard the Infinity. The deck is now a must have for my cruising vacations and I would recommend EVERYBODY to ensure they have their own private veranda. I spent EVERY morning on it with my coffee, reading/journaling, enjoying the scenery. My only gripe with the veranda is regarding the lack of privacy. Depending on your room's location, you may or may not have ANY privacy on your deck. We found the cabin to be lacking in storage space, though this may be more indicative of our excessive packing than a weakness in the cabin. Also, there are no irons/ironing boards aboard the ship. [I would recommend packing a travel iron if the thought of wearing wrinkled clothes or paying $$$ for pressing services bothers you. I used the laundry services on the boat and can attest that they did a nice job of stain removal on several garments and all garments were pressed perfectly, and delivered promptly.] Also on the downside, my fiancEe and I both felt the linens, particularly the bed spread, appear worn out and even, yuck, dirty. Dining - 6 There is nothing for me to add here that hasn't already been said ad nauseam. At this price point I guarantee you will not find better food. How they can prepare such high quality food for so many passengers still boggles my mind. Not to be missed: at the aft of the 10th deck Seaside grill there is a daily luncheon pasta and salad bar. For whatever reasons, this particular luncheon spot remains relatively unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. I highly recommend it for lunch. The Oceanliners specialty restaurant is well worth the money. I believe Celebrity's specialty restaurants rank as some of the best dining experiences PERIOD, not just at sea. If my dining companions were willing, I would gladly eat there every night. The staff can be a bit over-the-top in their mannerisms, but I appreciate their commitment to excellent service. Room service is also a wonderful touch. I highly recommend the Chocolate chip cookies ("Warmed up please") and their Pizza. For some reason, their room service pizza is different, and in my opinion better, than that which is served poolside. Speaking of poolside, there has been a definite drop in the service level offered by the wait staff poolside since my last Celebrity cruise. I'm not sure, but it appeared to me that there were fewer "Pool Butlers" than there used to be. Minor quibble... Entertainment - 5 We went to one show - "Fantasea" - and it was laughable. All of the musicians aboard the boat were terrific. The pool side band "Prodigy" was great. In fact, I would recommend going down and having a listen even if you don't want to lay out - they are that good! The casino is quite nice though smoky. They offered the typical cruise line game assortment with the exception of single deck Blackjack at $10 minimums! The in-room TV was acceptable with a varied movie rotation, CBS primetime programming and CNN International live. On board, internet access was reliable though expensive. There are art auctions managed by Park West [my advice... buy elsewhere], a nice shipping facility, movie theater showing recent films, etc. Bingos were, as usual, popular with the kids and blue-hairs. Bottom line: You should never feel bored. Fitness & Recreation - 6 Their health club is first rate, the spa is excellent though $$$. With the fitness facility, aerobics, spinning and yoga classes, and spa dining, if you wish to not gain weight, or even lose weight on your cruise, Celebrity makes it possible. Value - 6 You will not find a better value for your cruising dollar. PERIOD. My fiancee thoroughly enjoyed her first cruise, and is looking forward to cruising again. We had some horrible seas on our last night (St. Thomas to San Juan) but otherwise it was literally smooth sailing. These millennium vessels are, in a word, awesome! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. ... Read More
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. Embarkation -- 3 We had a nightmare experience getting to San Juan after being bumped from our flight. We actually met up with the Constellation on Sunday in the Dominican Republic. The travel department at Celebrity was absolutely NO help at all. In fact, if I could give the staff at Celebrity a negative rating here I would. However, the crew of the Constellation was very helpful and friendly: meeting us at the airport in the Dominican Republic, steering us through local Immigration/Customs, and preparing our cruise documents rapidly. Their deserved 6 star rating averages out the 0 stars for the Celebrity travel department for an overall rating of 3. I should note that on my prior Celebrity cruise aboard Infinity out of San Juan our embarkation was very smooth. Public Rooms - 6 The overall architectural atmosphere aboard the Millennium ships is quite nice. Not too glitzy, not too subdued. All public areas aboard these ships are adorned with original art and photography pieces, giving them an aura of elegance without being snobby. The color scheme of the boat's interior is spot-on, but I must admit I find the exterior of the ship to not be my cup-of-tea. Rest assured that you will not find a better variety of areas more tastefully decorated on any other cruise liner currently at sea. I'm sure there are more richly/elegantly appointed boats at sea, but I doubt one could book a cruise on them at this price point. A+ Cabin - 5 Our cabin was very utilitarian and pretty, though somewhat disappointing for me after having stayed in a Sky Suite on my prior cruise aboard the Infinity. The deck is now a must have for my cruising vacations and I would recommend EVERYBODY to ensure they have their own private veranda. I spent EVERY morning on it with my coffee, reading/journaling, enjoying the scenery. My only gripe with the veranda is regarding the lack of privacy. Depending on your room's location, you may or may not have ANY privacy on your deck. We found the cabin to be lacking in storage space, though this may be more indicative of our excessive packing than a weakness in the cabin. Also, there are no irons/ironing boards aboard the ship. [I would recommend packing a travel iron if the thought of wearing wrinkled clothes or paying $$$ for pressing services bothers you. I used the laundry services on the boat and can attest that they did a nice job of stain removal on several garments and all garments were pressed perfectly, and delivered promptly.] Also on the downside, my fiancEe and I both felt the linens, particularly the bed spread, appear worn out and even, yuck, dirty. Dining - 6 There is nothing for me to add here that hasn't already been said ad nauseam. At this price point I guarantee you will not find better food. How they can prepare such high quality food for so many passengers still boggles my mind. Not to be missed: at the aft of the 10th deck Seaside grill there is a daily luncheon pasta and salad bar. For whatever reasons, this particular luncheon spot remains relatively unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. I highly recommend it for lunch. The Oceanliners specialty restaurant is well worth the money. I believe Celebrity's specialty restaurants rank as some of the best dining experiences PERIOD, not just at sea. If my dining companions were willing, I would gladly eat there every night. The staff can be a bit over-the-top in their mannerisms, but I appreciate their commitment to excellent service. Room service is also a wonderful touch. I highly recommend the Chocolate chip cookies ("Warmed up please") and their Pizza. For some reason, their room service pizza is different, and in my opinion better, than that which is served poolside. Speaking of poolside, there has been a definite drop in the service level offered by the wait staff poolside since my last Celebrity cruise. I'm not sure, but it appeared to me that there were fewer "Pool Butlers" than there used to be. Minor quibble... Entertainment - 5 We went to one show - "Fantasea" - and it was laughable. All of the musicians aboard the boat were terrific. The pool side band "Prodigy" was great. In fact, I would recommend going down and having a listen even if you don't want to lay out - they are that good! The casino is quite nice though smoky. They offered the typical cruise line game assortment with the exception of single deck Blackjack at $10 minimums! The in-room TV was acceptable with a varied movie rotation, CBS primetime programming and CNN International live. On board, internet access was reliable though expensive. There are art auctions managed by Park West [my advice... buy elsewhere], a nice shipping facility, movie theater showing recent films, etc. Bingos were, as usual, popular with the kids and blue-hairs. Bottom line: You should never feel bored. Fitness & Recreation - 6 Their health club is first rate, the spa is excellent though $$$. With the fitness facility, aerobics, spinning and yoga classes, and spa dining, if you wish to not gain weight, or even lose weight on your cruise, Celebrity makes it possible. Value - 6 You will not find a better value for your cruising dollar. PERIOD. My fiancee thoroughly enjoyed her first cruise, and is looking forward to cruising again. We had some horrible seas on our last night (St. Thomas to San Juan) but otherwise it was literally smooth sailing. These Millenium vessels are, in a word, awesome! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
This was my 8th cruise, but my first time on the Celebrity Cruise Line. Constellation: This ship was absolutely beautiful. Celebrity pays attention to small details. There is a new policy meant to make the passenger's experience ... Read More
This was my 8th cruise, but my first time on the Celebrity Cruise Line. Constellation: This ship was absolutely beautiful. Celebrity pays attention to small details. There is a new policy meant to make the passenger's experience more enjoyable by making very limited announcements. When arriving into port, only one announcement is made when the ship has been cleared. So, separate excursions are not announced. You should know when your excursions are scheduled as Celebrity will not be reminding you. The first night aboard is open dinner seating for your time selection. So, scheduled dining is at 6:00 PM (early seating) and 8:30 PM. Our ship did not leave port until around 11:00PM. It was a pleasant experience boarding. We were greeted with champagne and allowed access to our rooms at 12:00 Noon. A welcome aboard luncheon for those arriving throughout the day was available. Our room attendant was terrific. All of the staff was helpful but I felt the food staff in the Seaside Cafe could have shown more smiles. We ate in Oceanliners (not included in cruise price) for a wonderful dining experience. Well worth the $25.00 per person. Remember to tip the staff here. They more than deserve it!!! At night, after dinner, food staff employees roamed the ship serving a variety of finger foods. Nice touch!! The crew staff encouraged participation in activities throughout the ship. Ports: Our visit included Casa de Campo, Grenada, Antigua, Barbados and St. Thomas. I enjoyed all of the ports as each has it's own charm. My husband and I only booked one excursion through the ship. All other excursions were obtained on land after docking. We tendered in Grenada. Casa de Campo - I did not think there was too much to do here. There are free shuttle buses to two areas. One is the marina where there are many restaurants and a few boutiques. The other was to the medieval village. This stop is too long, but we made the best of it and had a good time. Barbados - We rented a car (big mistake for us). These roads are too narrow. Add to that driving on the left hand side of the road, making many a turn frightening. Not many places to pull over to view the spectacular scenery. We did get some beautiful pictures but were relieved to make it back to the car rental (located right outside the terminal). Grenada: Known for spices and charm, we hired a van to take 4 of us on a tour of the island. This island is also beautiful and we captured more beautiful photos. We hired the driver for $20 per person and gave him a tip at the end. We thought it was well worth the money for a 3.5 hour tour. Antigua: We also hired a driver to take us on a tour of the island. Some of the roads are not the best here and there are many speed bumps (called sleeping policemen by some). Our driver offered to take us to the rain forest also, but the roads are very bad and it was raining off and on that day. We opted for him to take us to a beach instead. $20.00 per person plus tip. St. Thomas - Shopping and our excursion to St. John. St. John was my favorite island. The water surrounding this island is every shade of blue. I would visit here again and again if I could. San Juan: wish we had more time to visit the Fort. Barcardi factory was OK. It is a self guided tour. You are given a hand held instrument requiring you to put in a corresponding number found on pictures, desks, etc. Then you listen to this hand held instrument as you are given a description corresponding to the number you put into the unit. Bacardi does not take you through the actual factory any longer. You are given 2 tickets for which you can use to get free Bacardi drinks at the outside pavilion. Notice the pavilion is shaped like a bat (the Bacardi insignia). Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Ship/Food Service: Constellation is a beautiful ship and the food and service were exceptional. All venues of Dining were superb, including the Specialty restaurant OceanLiners, and the light fare dining @ AquaSpa Cafe. There were plenty ... Read More
Ship/Food Service: Constellation is a beautiful ship and the food and service were exceptional. All venues of Dining were superb, including the Specialty restaurant OceanLiners, and the light fare dining @ AquaSpa Cafe. There were plenty of dining venues, all with great food choices. San Marco dining (first seating) was not crowded at all, as we were seated at a table for 6, and no one else ever showed up to sit with us. We ended up inviting a couple we met to dine with us, and the Dining room staff was very accommodating. Agata and Cristian were wonderful!!!The gym was well equipped, and usually not very crowded (read a little later and I'll tell you why I think this was so). The cabins were a little small compared to others, but the bathroom were a little "roomier" than others. Rafael our Cabin Stewart was superb, always greeting us with a smile on his face. Ports of Call/Excursions: Ports of call were OK. While in Barbados, I would recommend the Rain Forest Hike and Cave Adventure (for those physically fit to do so). My husband did it and it was his favorite overall. I would not recommend Grenada for snorkeling, and the tourist is "bombarded" with locals as soon as you disembark. Celebrity should consider dropping Grenada from their Itinerary and spending another day in St. Thomas, in my opinion the most beautiful of ports on the trip. The Para-sailing was fabulous there. while in Antigua, the Kayak, Snorkeling and Hike adventure was superb, thanks to our guide Anthony! Age of Passengers: Well, here goes my main criticism of the ship. I think the average age of the other passengers was 70-80! I saw more wheelchairs, walkers and canes than I wish to remember. We actually had a gentleman come to breakfast every morning in his pajamas, bathrobe and slippers, like it was the Nursing Home Dining Room ! (I couldn't believe my eyes). Needless to say, I thought the activities on the Ship were a little too tame for the younger passenger (scrabble contests, BINGO, Spelling Bees). Even the Comedian at the show (which by the way was good despite the majority of "age" related jokes) was making constant reference to the "young" crowd, obviously being sarcastic. By the way, this is why I think the Gym was never crowded, more than half the passengers would never make it to the Gym. We met other young couples in the Gym and on the walking track. OverView: An excellent Cruise for the older, less active passenger. If you want to keep busy, especially while at sea, you might want to reconsider this ship. Also, if you are traveling with young children, or teenagers, there were but a handful on Board. School vacation week, as I understand, is the week to travel with your family. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
My wife and I (ages 45 and 42, respectively) cruised on Constellation January 17-24, 2004. I am a sales engineer and my wife is a first grade teacher. I have enjoyed reading Cruise Critic reviews as we attempted to choose a cruise. That ... Read More
My wife and I (ages 45 and 42, respectively) cruised on Constellation January 17-24, 2004. I am a sales engineer and my wife is a first grade teacher. I have enjoyed reading Cruise Critic reviews as we attempted to choose a cruise. That enjoyment seems to increase after selecting a cruise, as we begin to plan activities on the upcoming trip. We have cruised 11 times, though this was our first Celebrity trip. I have never written a review before and hope this isn't too disappointing to the reading audience. Our TA had often suggested we try Celebrity, but we had always resisted due to complete satisfaction with Carnival, RCCL, and Princess and the mistaken belief that Celebrity was too expensive. This fall, however, we were amazed by the pricing offered by Celebrity for the San Juan departure of Constellation, and booked an outside cabin without balcony. A weak effort by Carnival's Jubilee o our early 2003 cruise might have also played a role, as we actually were somewhat let down by that ship's condition and by its cruise director. Our trip began with a same-day flight from Houston via Atlanta to San Juan. We have three children, so leaving early or staying over is difficult for us. We purchased trip insurance for 5% of our trip's cost, from an independent insurer and slept better as a result, during severe thunderstorms, the night before our departure. Our flights came off on time and we actually enjoyed the movie from Atlanta to San Juan (Denzel Washington as a small town police chief). Upon arrival in San Juan at 4:20 pm, we were met by Celebrity staff for the transfer bus to the ship. We paid $26 (I believe) for one-way transfers to the dock. Our luggage was tagged prior to departure from Houston and we never saw it again until it arrived in our room around 8:30 pm. We had our ticketing paperwork filled out in advance and were only momentarily delayed entering the cruise terminal in order to fill out one local document tossed at us by Celebrity employees as we left the bus. From landing at the airport, we were drinking champagne on "Connie" in less than 55 minutes. We were escorted to our room (and I failed to tip the escort, for which I feel bad now that I have read subsequent reviews in which tipping this service seems to be the right thing to do.) and were relaxing immediately. My initial impression of the ship's decor was very favorable, since we were led through wood-walled hallways into a very subdued and classy room. A little smaller than Carnival, and a little larger than Princess, the room had a refrigerator (under lock and key) that our room steward immediately opened for us. The shower was bigger than most we have seen and water pressure was moderate (i.e good for a cruise ship). Our steward, Hafit, was very good and very unobtrusive the entire week. As wine-lovers, we brought along, in my carry-on, six bottles of nice reds, and drank five of them at dinner ($12 surcharge in the dining room and $15 in Oceanliners). The other bottle became a gift for our wine steward, Edit, who was a joy each night at our table-for-two in the late seating. We were on the lower floor of the dining room and had a window view, but it was always dark while we ate so the view was limited. A summer cruise would have a sunset during dinner and would make that table quite popular. Our table service was very good, with smiles and with napkin placing done with a flourish. My favorite table service ever was on Grandeur of the Seas in 1999 (Emiel from Czechoslovakia was so good he is probably in a five star restaurant in Paris by now). The food on Connie was above average and the creme brulee was as good as I have had. I'd give the overall food a 8 out of 10, with Oceanliner's being a 10, the dining room an 8 and the buffet (lunch and breakfast) a 7. The pizza was fair, and the burgers pretty good at the poolside counter. Drinks were relatively expensive, with the 15% gratuity added (and well earned on this ship). Oceanliner's deserves its own paragraph. Our TA had gotten us a reservation in advance, but you could do that upon arrival on the ship (and you should). We ate there Monday night (a formal night) and were very pleased with the team service and the music provided by a pianist and violinist. They were quiet enough to not overwhelm conversation, and yet they added to a classy atmosphere. I had the beef and my wife the fish and both were tasty and well prepared. The lobster bisque was great, though the cheese tray was not my cup of tea. Not to say it was bad, as Pam loved the various flavors. Dessert was the chocolate souffle and it is as good as we had been told. Our wine steward, who did not bear a grudge because we had brought our own wine, took us (after dinner) to their wine "cellar", where we saw a deep collection of wines we'll never be able to drink (that means "afford"). If the Connie were ever to sink, there would be several salvage teams trying to get to the wine - in fact, I think I'd take up diving. The shows were fairly good, with comedy, dance, and a "west-end" London musical singer with a great voice. The theater is wonderful and well designed. No show we attended was full, though the ship was 95% full (we were told). We also enjoyed the lounge acts, relaxing in Reflections many evenings. The Champagne bar was also fun (though smoking was permitted there) and the Martini bar (no smoking on that side) served a great martini (my wife nursed hers for two hours, it was so large). We also had drinks at the casino bar and got good service, with friendly greetings (as we did everywhere). The casino was fun, and we played 30-45 minutes most nights. I won at craps, lost at blackjack and watched my wife win a $200 slot (quarters). Table minimums were $5-10 most of the time, though $15 blackjack was available. Many cruisers were playing BJ or craps for the first time and the dealers occasionally had to get stern about bad rolls or handling cards. Overall, we won a minimal amount (which beats the expectation). The islands were all beautiful. Our favorite was St. John (during the St. Thomas stop). We cabbed to a ferry and went over to Trunk Bay. I now have a favorite beach in the world. It also happens to be a National Park, so there are showers and concessions and it is free of local sellers. Grenada, in particular, had more than its share of sellers, and it took away from our relaxation on Grand Anse Beach. We did one tour, in Barbados, and recommend it to all. The Five Star Catamaran was a great time and lasted five hours. We were taken to two snorkeling locations and to one beach. Food was very good and there was an open bar for those thirsty souls in need of libation. The crew was extremely friendly and the Captain was funny and a good sailor. Coincidentally, Pam and I met the cruise director from Jubilee on this excursion. Although I thought he was a lousy cruise director, he did seem to be relaxed and friendly in conversation. He said he was about to take over Carnival Destiny and was "scouting" excursions for his future passengers. Maybe he'll be a good cruise director one day and we just caught him too early. Antigua was outstanding. We took a cab to a beach that the cabbie had endorsed (Dickinson Beach?) and it looked off toward Nevis and St. Kitts and was near to cold drinks and bathrooms. The beer we had there (in a green bottle) was said to be brewed on the island and was really good. Can't recall the name, which was probably due to the beer itself. Dominican Republic was better than we expected. We took the ship's bus to the Marina and relaxed at a couple of bars and wandered the boat docks, looking at multimillion dollar boats and dreaming of being Warren Buffet (or at least Jimmy). We have rarely done five islands on a seven day cruise and might not for a while. When the goal is relaxation, a three port trip is probably best. For those with energy to burn, this itinerary is a good one. There were no ugly beaches (that we saw). Overall, this was a really nice trip for a couple trying to catch up with each other. We ate as a couple, did excursions as a couple and did not meet anyone by name (other than crew) the entire week. That may sound anti-social, but we had hoped to do a lot of reading and visiting with each other. Mission accomplished. Celebrity is a bit nicer than the other three cruise lines we have sailed. Constellation is a class act and future cruisers will enjoy the atmosphere and service. We will be back (on Celebrity and possibly Connie), but we will not forsake any of the others. The route, the ship, and the cost will always mean something to us, and until one of these four lines truly shoots itself in the foot we intend to stay open minded. Mike and Pam Written 3/4/04 Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
This was our third Celebrity cruise (Infiniti-2002 & Galaxy-2003) and eighth overall (four on Holland America and one on RCCL). It was our best one. Physically the ship is outstanding - beautiful, clean, etc. But there seems to be a ... Read More
This was our third Celebrity cruise (Infiniti-2002 & Galaxy-2003) and eighth overall (four on Holland America and one on RCCL). It was our best one. Physically the ship is outstanding - beautiful, clean, etc. But there seems to be a real sense of "family" among the crew and it showed in incredible, cheerful service. The other welcome "best ever" was the entertainment. I was overwhelmed with the the Celebrity Dancers shows that include acrobatics. Also the non-showroom entertainment was truly first rate: Toby Beau Duo in the rendezvous lounge and the a cappella singing group "4-2-5". The food was the same as previous Celebrity cruises - the best ever. This cruise we also ate in the specialty Ocean Liners Restaurant. Again - a best ever experience. There was just one surprise - we received no rating questionnaire. That has always seemed to be a very important event on previous cruises. They missed out on getting straight A's if we had one to complete. We only got off the ship once - for a beach excursion in Barbados. There were six ships in port and the cruise terminal was a "Zzoo". Instead of the advertised 20 minute ride to the beach, it took over an hour just to get out of the parking area as they were inspecting every vehicle in and out. But once out all was great. Celebrity has really done a great job in refining the cruise experience. We will be back. Also - this was the first cruise where we made our own arrangements for air and transportation to and from the ship. It was not the last. On our own it was easier, cheaper, faster and we avoided the crowds by arriving alone rather than with 40-50 other people at the same time. We will always do this in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Just returned from our sailing on the Constellation on January 10th, 2004, this was our 17th cruise in all, 3rd on Celebrity. We are 38 & 42 yrs old and traveled with my parents who are 69 & 70 yrs old. Before I begin what will ... Read More
Just returned from our sailing on the Constellation on January 10th, 2004, this was our 17th cruise in all, 3rd on Celebrity. We are 38 & 42 yrs old and traveled with my parents who are 69 & 70 yrs old. Before I begin what will probably be a long review let me just say FANTASTIC! That was our experience onboard the Constellation. We booked our airline transportation on our own, so I can't comment on the experience with the meet & greet service at the airport or the transfer offered with Celebrity. We arrived in San Juan at Noon on the 3rd of January, retrieved our luggage and hopped a taxi to the Pier, taxi ride is $17.00. When you approach the Constellation she really is a beautiful ship. The Constellation docks at the Pan American Pier, this is a nice facility, but there is nothing around the docks so once you board there is no reason to get back off the ship. However, in the future that will change as there is a large shopping mall under construction within walking distance to the Pan Am Pier. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 1pm, checked our luggage with the porters and proceeded inside. Celebrity reps asked us to complete a form regarding any illnesses we had recently (i.e., any potential exposure to the "norovirus"); form just took a couple of minutes and we were on our way. Since we had arrived early there wasn't a crowd at all. We were booked in a Concierge Class Stateroom so we went right to the CC check-in desk no one in front of us and 5 minutes later we were checked in and on our way. We had completed our documentation online prior to the cruise, so hopefully that expedited the process. We stopped for the traditional photograph, and then boarded the beautiful Constellation. As you board for security purposes you insert your "seapass" card and they photograph you, so when your embark or disembark in the ports of call they can see that it's you. Celebrity has made many enhancements to its onboard product and one of them is evident immediately, Complimentary Glass of Champagne as you board, and the white gloved staff to escort you to your stateroom. Alas, we are onboard and the process was smooth and quick. Hats off to Celebrity already and we have only been at the pier for about 15 minutes. Stateroom: We were booked in the new Concierge Class Stateroom 9058. Upon arrival in our stateroom a chilled bottle of Champagne in a stainless champagne bucket & two champagne glasses along with a fresh bowl of fruit greeted us, and we knew this was going to be a fabulous vacation. Now more about the cabin, this is a mid-ship cabin, just below the spa/pool area. I have read many differing opinions on the staterooms on deck 9 of the Millennium Class cabins, due to the overhang from the pool deck. However, I am a fan of this, because you can sit out on your balcony regardless of the weather or the sunshine. Don't get me wrong I love to sit in the sun, but I usually do this by the pool and not on my balcony. When I sit on the balcony it is usually for a relaxing break out of the sun or rain, whatever the conditions may be. I have also read about concerns regarding noise, we really had no issues with noise, every now and then you heard a few things, but nothing that ever bothered us, and we also had deck 9 cabin on the Millennium in '01, and had the same experience. So, I wouldn't hesitate to book a cabin on this deck. Now regarding the cabin, incredibly spacious, well maintained and in excellent condition. The balcony was very spacious and with the concierge class you get a few extras: the chairs on the balcony have padded seats & back and there is a large round table for dining al fresco. The bed was very comfortable with a duvet & 4 different types of pillows to choose from depending on your desires. "Frette" bathrobes which are very comfortable, in fact one of the most comfortable robes I have had onboard a cruise ship (which I decided to purchase one to bring home - it has "Celebrity Concierge Class" embroidered on the robe). Also, upgraded bathroom items, bath rugs, larger/thicker towels, fresh flowers in the bathroom and stateroom, special CC shampoo & body lotion. One of the best upgrades on the CC is the fresh fruit basket daily in your room and a special room service menu for breakfast. You complete your order form the night before and place it outside your stateroom and specify the time you want your breakfast delivered. I must say that we had breakfast on the balcony 5 out of the 7 mornings. Our stateroom attendant always called about 5 minutes before delivering the breakfast just to let us know he was on his way. I thought that was wonderful. Upon arrival he set up the table on the balcony with a tablecloth and set the table as if we were dining in a restaurant. FYI, when ordering you mark the number of orders you want, not the number of items you want (one morning I wanted 2 fried eggs so that's what I ordered, but I received two orders of 2 fried eggs and that's when our stateroom attendant informed us to order only the number of orders desired, the form is somewhat confusing). I absolutely love to wake up in the morning, put on a robe and sit out on the balcony and enjoy a quiet leisurely breakfast. The food always arrived as ordered and if it was to be hot it arrived hot. The fresh squeezed orange juice was wonderful. The stateroom had all the standard features on Celebrity: stainless ice bucket & water pitcher, mini-bar and spacious closets. Needless to say we were very pleased with our stateroom. Room Service: We did not order anything from room service except our breakfast which was fantastic. Though my parents did order lunch a couple of days and they said it arrived as ordered and within 15 to 20 minutes of ordering. They also were booked in a CC cabin # 9057 on the port side. We were on the starboard side. San Marco Restaurant/Food: One Word - EXCELLENT! The food and service was excellent as usual on Celebrity. On embarkation day (Saturday) dining is open seating at 6:00pm and 8:30pm. Upon embarkation you receive a dining card for either main or late seating, this is usually given based on the time you embark, i.e. those embarking early get main seating and those embarking later get late seating. However, if you want late seating, just ask for a late seating card or just show up when you want, they never check or ask for the card. We opted for late seating as it appeared many other passengers did as well because there was a long line to get into the dining room on deck 4. However, if you go in on deck 5 there was no line and we were seated immediately at a table for 4. This is usually a very challenging night for the dining room staff, but I must say they did an excellent job and the food was very good. On the second night you dine at your assigned dining time/table as noted on the confirmation card you receive in your stateroom. We had late seating table # 400 for eight. This table is fantastic, it is on deck 4 at the rear of the dining room by the two deck tall windows and right next to the Captains Table. The Captain dined in the dining room on the two formal nights which are on Monday & Thursday evening. Our waitress was "Jasminka" from Croatia (that's right waitress, very unusual to have a waitress, in fact this is only the second time we have had a waitress). She was wonderful, very friendly, funny and worked very hard, always got our orders correct, served to the correct person, and always to the ladies first. She even made sure to line up the Celebrity "X" on the charger plate and the plate she was delivering. Our assistant waitress "Adit" from Croatia also, (okay two waitresses from Croatia, that must be a good sign) because the service was flawless from these two. Always making sure that we had fresh ground pepper with our soups, salads and even entrees. Water glasses were always full and they just seemed to be right there whenever we needed them. The Asst' Maitre D' was ever present, but not obtrusive. Again, another enhancement Celebrity has is Sommeliers, while other lines have cut them, Celebrity has kept them and it really makes a huge difference. Our Sommelier was very knowledgeable always offering suggestions if requested. We had wonderful bottles of wine every night and there are a lot of bottles in a reasonable range between $20-$35. Food: Everything I had was enjoyable, the soups were superb. I wish I could remember exactly what I had every night, but I can't, let me just say that we all enjoyed our dining experience, it was fantastic. Seaside Cafe: This is the buffet restaurant onboard. We had breakfast here only one morning, since we primarily had breakfast on the balcony in our stateroom. It was traditional breakfast fare. We did eat lunch here almost everyday. The food was very good, I really appreciate that on Celebrity you are served your food from the buffet vs. having to serve yourself. On Sunday the 2nd day onboard there was an Oriental Buffet Luncheon, On Monday the 3rd day onboard there was a Mexican Buffet, On Wednesday the 5th day onboard there was an Italian Buffet. All were very good. Also, everyday there is a grill which is on the starboard side just aft of the pool area. They serve hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and a daily pasta selection as well as pizza. I found the pizza to be mediocre at best, however the burgers & hot dogs were very good. There is also an ice cream bar on both the starboard & port sides with ice cream from Noon to 6pm everyday. In the aft is the Salad Bar, Soup & Sandwiches. This changed everyday, and was always very fresh. The lemonade is particularly good, the tea somewhat strong. Seating in the cafe was plentiful, however particular if you go all the way to the aft area it is never crowded and if you can find a table next to the window the views are spectacular. Also, one area not to miss is the aft area outdoors with dining tables, umbrellas and a large canopy providing much needed shade. I must say that there was always plenty of staff and as soon as we finished dining there was always someone there to remove our dirty dishes. I never saw dirty trays just sitting on tables and there were a lot of management staff always walking around making sure that everything was going smoothly. We never ate dinner here, so I can't comment on the evening meals. Ocean Liners: A MUST DO!! This is really a fabulous experience. We ate in the "Olympus" Restaurant on the Millennium and so we had to try "Ocean Liners". We dined at Ocean Liners on Wednesday evening at 8:00pm, which is an informal night (no ties required on informal nights, just jackets, however if you go on a formal night, ties are required, jackets are required every night) this is the night you depart Grenada at 4:30pm, so it seemed like a good night to go. The service was fantastic and the food unbelievable. If you have read about the goat cheese soufflE, it is all true, and in my opinion a must have, others had the Caeser Salad and were not real impressed. For entrees I had the Steak Diane which was again fantastic, perfectly cooked to order, others had the veal and rack of lamb all were very pleased. The cheese course is always excellent, and of course for dinner the grand marnier soufflE or they may have a special soufflE which on our night was chocolate, and since I am a chocoholic it was a must have and I was not disappointed. Entertainment: Saturday (embarkation day) no regularly scheduled entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre, but plenty of music in the lounges. Sunday evening (Casa De Camp) Celebrity Showtime in the Celebrity Theatre with "The Comedy of Kevin Flynn" and "International Virtuoso Pianist Tian Jiang". We did the shore excursion to "Kandala, A Latin Extravaganza", so we missed this show, however, we heard "Tian Jiang" was excellent. We had the pleasure of hearing his music again later in the week and he was fantastic, A MUST SEE, (of course you would have to like this type of music). Monday (at sea) Celebrity Showtime "FANTASEA", having seen many production shows on cruise ships, this was one of the best we have ever seen. I would highly recommend seeing it. Tuesday (Barbados) Celebrity Showtime, "Lindsay Hamilton" West End (i.e. London, England) Star of "Evita" & "Les Miserables". She was phenomenal, one of the best singers I have had the pleasure of hearing on a cruise ship. She received a standing ovation and later in the week she performed again, & again received a standing ovation. I liked her so much that I even bought one of her CD's and she autographed it for us. Now, I rarely buy a CD of a singer on a cruise ship, but she is well worth it, she has a fabulous voice & is a great entertainer. While talking with her she is on the Constellation for a couple more weeks, and then she is fortunate enough to be headed to New York to perform on the NEW "QUEEN MARY 2". She is very excited about this engagement, she will be on the QM2 for a few weeks and then return to the Constellation until early April, and then she is getting married, so hopefully you will have the opportunity to see her performance. Wednesday (Grenada) Skip the show and hit the Casino, "Batucada: A Song & Dance Odyssey", just not worth the time, really a dull show. The only good thing was we were able to hear "Tian Jiang" for 2 songs during the middle of the show, which didn't make a lot of sense, but we were happy to hear his music. If you catch him on Sunday evening, I would skip this show. Thursday (Antigua), if you have been to Broadway or seen musicals, you have seen this show, and I am sure it was much better. "Spotlight Broadway" in my opinion is the typical cruise ship production show. After the show at 12:15am was Late Night Comedy Hour with "Kevin Flynn" the comedian from Sunday evening, didn't see him, but heard his show wasn't very good. Friday (St. Thomas) "Variety Showtime" a repeat performance of "Lindsay Hamilton" & a cute group called "Acapella Quartet 4:2:Five". Worth seeing, just to see Lindsay again. All in all I would rate the entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre as EXCELLENT, I have to say that just for Lindsay & for Fantasea! Cruise Director: I have to devote a special paragraph just for our cruise director. Eric is FANTASTIC! We had him previously on the Millennium and he is just great. He is very classy, no tired, repeated cruise ship jokes, and he has a beautiful voice. He sang with Lindsay twice, and they make quite a duo. If only they were singing in the Rendezvous Lounge (more on that later). Eric is what all cruise directors should aspire to be! Casino: What can I say it's a casino. We played the slots one evening, didn't win. Children: We weren't traveling with any children, so I can't comment on their programs. I can say there were not very many children onboard this cruise. Maybe 10 -15 max. Lounge Entertainment: I am going to start out with the positive entertainment and then segway to one of the worst musicians I have ever heard on a cruise ship. The music in the Cova Cafe di Milano, the harpist "Karen O'Bray and the "Royal String Quartet" were wonderful. We didn't spend much time here, but the few times we walked through when they were playing, we would stop and listen for just a few minutes, it was quite pleasant. In Michael's Club Piano Bar the pianist "Fred Potvin" was fantastic. If you like piano music make it a point to spend some time in Michael's club, you will really enjoy your time here, not to mention what a great place to have a drink. The Celebrity Orchestra was good, not the best I have heard on a cruise ship, but nothing to complain about. Okay, now for the worst, the music in the Rendezvous Lounge was horrible. The "Touch of Class Duo" was terrible, she was okay, but he was terrible. I heard people all over the ship talking about how bad they were. Usually the Rendezvous Lounge on deck 4 & the Martini Bar/Champagne Bar on deck 5 are great places to have drinks and enjoy the music, but this time these bars were barely used because of the bad music. I was astonished that they were actually being paid to perform. Hopefully, Celebrity will get enough complaints to remove them SOON from the Constellation. In fact, I can say this was the only thing on the entire cruise that bothered me. And it really didn't bother me that much, because we just found another place to have drinks. There is no shortage of wonderful places to sit and relax. Ports: I am not going to spend a lot of time here, because I know everyone likes to do different things in the various ports, but I will touch on what we did or what we are familiar with on the various islands. "Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic": I read a lot of negative reports on this island before leaving home, but it's not all bad. To clear up some confusion: Celebrity does run complimentary shuttles to both "The Marina" & to "Altos De Chavon", I had read that the complimentary shuttles only went to the Marina and to go to Altos De Chavon you had to take a taxi. This is simply not true. Complimentary Shuttles ran from the time we docked up until the time we departed. We took the shuttles to Altos De Chavon, takes about 15-20 minutes and well worth the trip. The views are stunning and the village very quaint. We spent some time walking around the village, taking in the views and then returned to the ship. In the evening we returned to Altos De Chavon for dinner at a wonderful restaurant "Giacosa" and Italian Restaurant that simply had wonderful food & service. They also give cruise ship passengers a complimentary bottle of wine (1 for every 2 passengers) with dinner. If you are thinking of having dinner ashore I highly recommend this restaurant. Later we went to the show "Kandala, A Latin Extravaganza" held in the outdoor amphitheater. I had read a lot of positive reviews about this show. It is okay, we enjoyed seeing it, but really not worthy of a return, there were only 107 passengers onboard that took this excursion, so I guess it doesn't interest a lot of people. Though it was a beautiful evening, with a full moon and lots of stars, so it was really enjoyable to sit outside. "Barbados" we pre-arranged a tour with "Boyce Tours" before leaving home. I had read good things about them and I have to agree. Carol Franklin showed up on time to meet us exactly at the location she told us to meet her, and our driver "Jimmy" who we had requested because we had seen his name numerous times on the boards. He was fantastic, he is extremely knowledgeable, very courteous and friendly. He toured us through Bridgetown and then to Harrison's Cave, over to Bathsheba & then to the Wildlife Reserve. Harrison's Cave is very interesting and very well done. Bathsheba is beautiful and well worth a visit. I had last been to Barbados in Nov. '95 and I remembered going to the Wildlife Reserve to see the Green Monkeys. At that time the Monkeys were plentiful, I wanted a repeat experience, but now the trees have grown so tall that the Monkeys have escaped. Though the locals claim they return after 3:00pm for feeding time, we were there until 3:30pm, and no monkeys spotted. Fortunately, we did see a few monkeys as we traveled throughout the island. Jimmy picked us up at 10am and returned us to the ship at 4pm. The charge was $50 per person for 4 passengers. He drives a nice van that actually seats 10 passengers, so it was very comfortable. We have taken tours before when they want to put 4 passengers in a tiny car. This charge included our admission to Harrison's Cave (we saw a sign posted for $16US per person) and also to the Wildlife Reserve ($8US per person), so we felt like the tour cost was very reasonable considering this admission prices and for a 6 hour comprehensive tour. If you have never been to Barbados, this is a great way to see the island. If you are a repeat visitor, there are a lot of other options. Barbados is a very lush and beautiful island, with very friendly people. "Grenada" we were here in Feb. '03 on the "Sea Princess" so we didn't plan to do much. This is a tender port so allow extra time for whatever you decide to do. Last year we went ashore and hired a taxi driver to show us the island. We went to the waterfalls, the fort & Grand Anse Beach. Also, a really beautiful island well worth exploring. There are plenty of taxi drivers waiting at the tender docks to take you anywhere you want to go. "Antigua" we spent some time walking around the town, but mainly a ship day for us. We had been here previously, so we decided not to do much. Be forewarned the Antiguans are aggressive people, not mean or rude, just aggressive. After being on Barbados & Grenada, it is quite a different approach. Also, there were 4 cruise ships in port that day, so very crowded. "St Thomas" what can be said about one of our own. Simply a beautiful island, not that I am prejudice, just proud! We spent some time downtown shopping before returning to the ships pool. We will be back here next month Feb. '04 on the Galaxy with a group of 10, so we will go to the beach then. If you plan on buying anything specific in St. Thomas, check the prices at home first, especially online. I wanted a new portable DVD player and found that it was cheaper online than in St. Thomas. This isn't always the case, but it pays to be knowledgeable and prepared. There is a wonderful "Lalique" store in St. Thomas ( if you like this sort of stuff) and their prices are very good compared to the states. There cost of a taxi to town is $3 per person each way. If you go to Megans Beach it is $6 per person each way. Have no fear there are plenty of taxis waiting to take you everywhere. Disembarkation: We had an early flight at 9:50am from SJU to Miami, so we had early disembarkation at 7:15am so needless to say it was smooth as silk. I think most passengers. were just beginning to wake up. Summary: EXCELLENT, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL!! This was simply a great cruise, from the crew, to the ship, to the food, to the entertainment, to the stateroom, to the itinerary, well worth a repeat trip on the "Constellation". Again, this was our 17th cruise so it ranks in the top 5 or 6 of all our cruises, a lot to say considering that some of our cruises have been for 14 nights to exotic ports. I hope you enjoyed reading my review and that you find it helpful as you prepare for your cruise or in deciding which cruise ship to cruise on. If you have specific questions that I might can assist you with, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at cruisermichael@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We sailed on Constellation on 1/31 from San Juan. My girlfriend and I (both in our 20's) selected Celebrity for our first cruise after much research online and with much assistance from this site! We booked through X directly, no ... Read More
We sailed on Constellation on 1/31 from San Juan. My girlfriend and I (both in our 20's) selected Celebrity for our first cruise after much research online and with much assistance from this site! We booked through X directly, no travel agent, and included air and an extra day in PR in the package. We received fast and courteous service throughout the booking. Being from Buffalo, NY we both went tanning for a month prior--which I highly recommend if you plan to stay in the sun. We were able to handle the tropical sun w/o burning!! The only thing I would change would be adding an additional day prior in San Juan... Our flight took us to San Juan from Buffalo via Philly. The San Juan airport experience was not pleasant-- it took forever to get our luggage! But, we were assured by some really nice people we met that it always takes forever there! We used X's transfer agency to get us+bags to the Caribe Hilton...Mistake. A cab would have saved us 2 hours and 2 headaches. Once we arrived at the Hilton, we began a fantastic vacation. The hotel was nice, large open lobby, private beach, several pools and a swim up bar, a upscale spa/gym, and some decent restaurants. We ate at Morton's of Chicago which was OK it is not as good as the Palm or our own Buffalo Chophouse. The next day, after a workout overlooking the Ocean, we spent the morning sunning ourselves on the beach. Again, we used X's tour group to get us to the terminal, and next time we will use a cab. Embarkation: We could not believe how huge the ship was! Beautiful! I was totally in awe as we pulled up to the terminal. We arrived shortly after 1:00pm. The processing at the terminal went so fast, I could not believe it! We stopped at the Duty-free in the terminal for cigarettes and Absolut (which we took on board w/o incident) and were on the ship by 1:30! Great organization by everyone. We were given Mimosas and escorted to our room by a white gloved attendant. Stateroom 7182: We wanted a cabin w/balcony since neither of us had been on a cruise and we had reservation about how we would react to motion. We were not disappointed! The cabin was surprisingly roomy, absolutely spotless, and well equipped. Our attendant, Katarene, and her assist. Jose, treated us like royalty throughout the cruise. They did a great job! The Ship: We spent the first hour checking out the public areas and eating lunch at the rear of the ship. We were back to back with the Serenade of the Seas and got some great pics! We also experienced our first Celebrity Cocktails which came in Souvenir glasses and met Darma-- the best pool waiter ever!!! We then made our way to the pool where we got front row chairs and relaxed. We did not ever have an issue with chairs at the pool - there were always some available. Drink service was excellent at all times too! Public areas on board were clean, bright, well noted on maps, and there were tons of elevators. The rendezvous lounge, home to some A+ Karaoke, was a favorite after dinner meeting place for us. We had a good time in the casino, and entered the slot tournament on the at sea day. The main dining room was roomy, and we were lucky enough to score a table for two with our "own" window! The T-Spa pool was awesome-- check out the "bubble chairs" for a relaxing experience. I also enjoyed the workout facilities-- never crowded, clean, first rate equip. The showers were great as well. I used the ship's library "words" and found it well stocked and friendly. They even have IPods for guest use! I read "The Ship and the Storm" about the Fantome and hurricane Mitch. Good book to read while at sea! We had a great time at the newlywed game at Reflections nightclub, and found it enjoyable the rest of the time too (superbowl party). The rest of the ship was great too-- coffee at Cova, pics at the grand foyer, whatever we did- we received great service! Food: After the first night when we ate early, we were assigned to the late seating. Again, we were happy with this choice. We are Both picky eaters, and found the food at dinner to be very good. We both found it funny that we ate more red meat on board than we usually do in a month. However, the service we received from our waiter, Zjelko, and his assistant Agata, was phenomenal. They were a great team--fast, they knew how we liked our food, and they answered any requests we made. I remain impressed at the work they did. The highlight was the second formal night and my surf and turf experience. Sommeliers did a great job too, and we enjoyed a bottle of wine with each dinner. We visited Ocean Liners, and chose not to dine there due to our picky appetites and their limited menu. Passengers: We had a nice time at the CC party, which was in Michael's Club on Monday, our at sea day. We also are glad we met George and Deborah our "neighbors". The rest of the passengers were quite a mix of ages and nationalities. We were thrilled at the lack of kids on board!!! I only saw 5-10 the entire trip which was great!!!! Everyone we encountered was friendly, shared stories, and seemed to be enjoying their trips as much as we were. Alot of fellow northeasterners escaping our snow! I heard again how lucky we were to be on this ship for our first cruise as it was the best that many "veterans" had ever been on. It seemed to me that except for the "wild exceptions" dress code was respected in the main dining room and most stayed in dress for the entire evening. The exceptions were funny though. Excursions: We booked three online before sailing. Two were A+ and one was a C. The great ones were--- the BOB in St.Thomas and Dolphin Fantaseas in Antigua. If you go to either island, book these excursions! Both were well run, fun, and excellent experiences. The average experience was the Malibu Beach in Barbados. The beach was beautiful and the cocktails good, but the terminal was a mess due to several ships in port, and we left almost an hour late! In Grenada, we went to Grand Anse Beach on our own where we had a nice time. The locals were fun and very friendly!!! The bad was the Dominican Republic--Casa De Campo as a port of call makes no sense to me. There was nothing to do, no beaches nearby, and when we tried to shop, we were scared away by man with shotgun. I would not get off the ship next time. But,it gave us more time at the pool, which was not bad.. Shopping was WAY OVERRATED! Maybe living on the boarder W/Canada we are numb to the duty free experience, but still...do you really need to go on Caribbean cruise to save a few bucks on stuff? We did notice that it would be a great place to purchase an expensive watch or diamond. Misc: We had an amazing time and are looking to book again ASAP. The ship was incredible! I totally over packed! The service was fantastic. We did find that there was a lack of available food following afternoon excursions as lunches all shut down by 2 or 2:30. But that is the ONLY NEGATIVE!! I believe that X will be our choice for our next cruise. I hope you find this review helpful as you decide on your next cruise-- if I left out anything or if you have questions, feel free to contact me via email at : pjfarr1@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Constellation was clean, efficient, and luxuriously appointed throughout. It matches or exceeds the experience we had on Millennium in 2002. Food was excellent. "Ocean Liners", their up-charge restaurant, was fantastic and ... Read More
Constellation was clean, efficient, and luxuriously appointed throughout. It matches or exceeds the experience we had on Millennium in 2002. Food was excellent. "Ocean Liners", their up-charge restaurant, was fantastic and worth the $25 per person. Dining room quality and diversity were good, but desserts were not as inventive as Celebrity has delivered in the past. The wine list was rather limited in the main dining room, but impressive in Ocean Liners. A couple winners (dining room) were the 2002 Macon Villages by Drouhin at $26 and the 1993 Torre Gran Reserva for $24. The Grand Buffet was truly a visual treat, and I'm sure it would have tasted good, but we couldn't stay up. Stateroom attendants were friendly and helpful, as were the dining room personnel who were directly responsible for our experience. Drink fetchers in the restaurant, however, were slow and obviously faking friendliness (smile would disappear before their head turned away). Same with poolside bartender on deck 10 (deck 11 was good, though). Buffet personnel were friendly and perhaps more attentive than on Millennium, but equal to Mercury (2000). All housekeeping personnel were cheerful and hardworking. E-mails that come to you at your temporary celebrity.com address are *not* announced with a stateroom phone message as advertised. In the casino, veteran blackjack players wonder whether all the cards are there at the $5 table. Without a regulatory authority on open seas, who's to check? The ship appeared to be about 3/4 full. From my observation, RCL is using a yield-maximizing strategy that brings cruise prices down in waves, rather than steadily as cruise date nears. Best consumer strategy is to identify the cruise(s) you might like, then keep an eye on them regularly over several weeks waiting for a deal you consider acceptable. Happy cruising! 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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