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Sail Date: September 2006
EMBARKATION: Went so smoothly, we had completed express pass on-line, but didn't even need it. We arrived at the Pier at Bayonne, NJ at approximately 2:00 and by 2:10 we were through the short line of CC passengers and on the ship. We ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Went so smoothly, we had completed express pass on-line, but didn't even need it. We arrived at the Pier at Bayonne, NJ at approximately 2:00 and by 2:10 we were through the short line of CC passengers and on the ship. We had given our carry on luggage as well as our suitcases to the dockside porter so we didn't have to worry with any luggage once on board, went directly to Deck 10 for welcome buffet. Plenty of seats available and waiters to help carry your tray to a table. We didn't explore the ship, as we wanted to see our cabin and find our emergency station. ITINERARY: Celebrity seems to make a lot of changes to itinerary. I booked this cruise a year in advance, and in that time, they made three changes to the itinerary. When we boarded, there was yet another change to the itinerary, giving us all port days going Northbound, and three sea days coming back Southbound. It also made us arrive in Halifax a day later, and Quebec a day later, incurring rain at each port. Rather than sunshine if we had arrived the day earlier that we were originally scheduled. THE CABIN: Was so nice. I knew when I booked CC 6143 that it would be a little larger and have a huge balcony, and we were not disappointed. The cabin was at least double the regular balconies. There were two canvas covers. We could sit under the cover right by the door (approximately 4 ft), and still had another cover of about 6 ft. to the edge of the balcony. We were fully covered from the rain and the sun. It was quite cold on the balcony, the TV in the room said the temp was pretty consistently running a high of 55 and a low of 44, but with the rain and the wind, it seemed a lot colder. Only had breakfast on the balcony the first morning, it was just too cold out there to do it more. The cabin had at least an extra two feet over regular balcony cabins. We had two huge suitcases, two regular suitcases and three carry-ons, and had plenty of storage space. This is the first cruise I have been able to totally unpack the suitcases and have plenty of space to store everything. There were approximately 8 drawers in the closet that my friend used, then the desk had 4 huge shelves that I used. We each also had a two drawer nightstand. The suitcases didn't even have to go under the bed, they were stored at each end of the cabin (out of the walkway). We had fresh flowers everyday in a bud vase in the bathroom, and a row of 8 bud vases attached together in the main cabin. The bathrobes were thick and plush and we utilized them as we didn't pack our own. The only thing we didn't try was the various pillows. The ones we had on the bed were so good, we didn't feel the need to try any others. The bathroom and shower were larger than standard also. I could actually turn around in the shower. The whole layout of the cabin was well thought out and seemed even roomier than it was. Standard balcony cabin has 170 sq ft, CC balcony cabin has 191 sq ft, but it seemed much larger. DINING ROOM: The San Marco dining room was well decorated and we were lucky enough to have a table for 8 right by the aft windows. We had early seating, so usually had a beautiful view of the sunset as we sat down for dinner. Our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. They saw to our every need. If (as on one occasion) I didn't care for my selection, he noticed that immediately and asked me if I would like something else. They promptly cleared away used plates and silverware and the beverages (whether it was water, iced tea or coffee) were replenished as soon as the glass was half empty. The Sommelier was promptly at our table after the first night when one of our dining companions ordered a bottle of wine, he was there promptly every night thereafter to see to our beverage needs. The only complaint we have on the food, was that it was a little too gourmet for us. We didn't really care for all the sauces and fancy food. They even made a mousse of the carrots, instead of just serving carrots. We only had lobster one night, which was a disappointment to my friend. She had been looking forward to more than one night, as we were in New England and thought lobster would be more readily available. We did not eat at the Specialty restaurant (Oceanliners) but did look in, and it was beautifully decorated as an "Old" Oceanliner would have been. We ate at the Poolside Grill for hamburgers twice, and they were fresh and very good. Not a thin pre-cooked burger, but a nice fat juicy patty, with mushrooms (if you wanted) and all the normal condiments. But it is outdoors, so it was cold out there too. We did receive canapes in our cabin at 5:00 each day, but didn't care for them so asked for cheese and crackers instead. We also had fresh fruit bowl in the cabin daily. We found we didn't like eating them before dinner, so asked the cabin attendant to leave them in the cabin, and we usually ate them as a before bedtime snack. ENTERTAINMENT: The on-board entertainment was fantastic. We went to the shows if we were not in port with a planned activity. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were top notch. Couldn't tell they were not Broadway STARS. Their voices and presentation couldn't have been better. We had wanted to see a Broadway show and were disappointed that didn't work out, but once on-board and saw their first show (Broadway Medley), that took away the disappointment. Then we saw them twice more. They had a juggler, a keyboard musician, a pianist, and a West End Singer (from Britain) named Lindsay Hamilton. She was outstanding. She had starred in Evita and Les Miserables! so she sang hits from them as well as other songs. I had never heard of her, but others on-board had heard of her. I was so impressed, I bought her CD. Only one small complaint in this department, the movies in the Cinema were usually scheduled at the same time as the live shows, so you couldn't do both. Would also like to see more variety of movies in The Cinema. SHOPPING: Was excellent, both variety and pricewise. They were always having sales of 25%, 40% or 50% off. We made plenty of unplanned purchases on-board. Since being home, I have checked out the prices here for like items and while not quite the savings of 50%, we did save about 20% off of like item here. EXCURSIONS: This would be the only real disaster of the whole cruise. Boston and Portland went smoothly, with someone on the pier holding up signs for each tour. As you disembarked the ship, you looked for your tour and went to that person, then onto the coach. But there were no free shuttles from the cruise pier to downtown. Overall I thought it was well organized and all would be well. Unfortunately, not to be. We arrived in Bar Harbor (and because it was a tender port) chaos reigned. Everyone that had a tour planned was told to go to the Celebrity theater for tender tickets for disembarkation. The line wrapped continuously around and around. Nobody could find the end of the line, and there was only two people passing out tender numbers. Folks that had an early tour booked had to wait in the same line as those with later tours. They finally did announce if your tour time was approaching, to come to the front of the line, making some folks that had been waiting for a long time, frustrated. Tempers flared a little, and there were lots of comments on the lack of organization. Celebrity knew this was a tender port, and should have had a better handle on the disembarkation. Maybe only having the early tours report to the Celebrity theater at an earlier hour, then the later tours at a different hour. The tours themselves were great, and well worth the money Celebrity charged for the tour. I had thought when we reached Halifax and it was rainy, that the tour would be cancelled, but it wasn't. We went to Peggy's Cove to see the lighthouse, but with the wind and the rain, it was too dangerous to walk around on the rocks, so settled for lunch in the Sou'Wester restaurant (the only restaurant) which was packed, not only with our cruisers, but cruisers from another ship too. We felt for the fee charged, we didn't get the full effect of the tour. IN Saint John, I rented a car and we drove on our own. It was much nicer than being on a tour coach. We went where we wanted to go and did what we wanted to do. Finally Quebec! We arrived in the rain, and it continued to rain all day. We had signed up for a walking tour, and again thought sure it would be cancelled. No No! We started walking in the cold, wind, wet streets. The guide knew she had 22 in her group. The guide tried to take us where there was a little shelter to do her talking, but we gave up and separated from the tour (telling the guide we were doing so). We found a pharmacy and purchased some cold pills, as we were both feeling a little sore throat. Made our way to the funicular, and our tour was just arriving, so we rejoined the group, again telling the guide we were back. Made our way up the funicular to Upper Quebec for the carriage ride. Once again, the guide had us standing in the cold, wind and rain saying our carriages wouldn't be here for another half hour. Again, we told her we were going into a restaurant out of the rain to have a cup of hot tea. She said okay to meet her on the sidewalk by the statue at 12:00 for the carriage ride. We left the restaurant at 10 to 12 and stood on the sidewalk looking for her or the group. Nobody was around. A carriage driver came over and asked if we would like a carriage ride. We told him we had pre-paid for one, and was looking for our guide. He went to his boss, she came over and asked if she could help. She took out her cell phone and called someone, and finally found our guide. She came over and asked where we had been. She knew the numbers weren't quite right when she loaded the carriages 15 minutes early, but sent them anyway. She made a phone call and it was decided to let us take our carriage ride, even though everyone else was on their way back. We told her to go with the group, back to the ship. We would make our own way back to the ship. We had a delightful ride in the carriage with a really nice driver that spoke excellent English. The carriage was covered so we weren't getting wet, but it sure was cold even with two big blankets over us. When we arrived back at the square, his boss, France, was sooooo nice. She didn't think the other guide should have left us, so she offered to drive us back to the ship, even though it wasn't her tour. So we loaded into her vehicle, and on the way back she showed us many more interesting sights of Quebec. I asked about St. Anne's Basilica, and nothing to do, she said she would take us there. We absolutely had to see it. We weren't scheduled to go there on our tour, but ended up seeing it, and Mortmency Falls (SP?) and lots of fall foliage also. She was so friendly and such a good ambassador for Quebec, she made our stop there so much more enjoyable than it would have been. We would have left with a sour feeling had she not stepped in. Then she took us back to the ship and didn't want to take anything, even for her fuel. We did leave a $20 bill on the seat when we departed her vehicle. After all, if we had to pay for a tour to those places, it would have cost a lot more. We felt she had befriended us, and wanted us to really enjoy her city. But we wanted to show her how much we appreciated her generosity. Then we had booked a tour to the Sugar Shack for dinner and a show. It was an enjoyable venture, even in the rain. At least it was in a building. It was interesting to see how the Maple syrup water is collected from the trees, and processed, into syrup, butter and taffy. The show was local folk type music. They had folks from the tour join in and play the spoons, and there was a small square dance also. The food was outstanding. Typical lumberjack meal is what they called it. Back to the ship for departure. DISEMBARKATION: Went almost as smoothly as embarkation. We had been given a form to complete with our flight time, so once back in Bayonne, we had been given a letter telling us where to go to wait until our embarkation time. We had been assigned the theater, so went there at 9:00 for continental breakfast and to await our time of 11:00. Rather than like on other cruises, just waiting around in the lobby or open areas anywhere you could find. Once our time was called, it took may ten minutes to find our luggage and get to the pick-up area. Unfortunately I had pre-arranged a pickup for 12:00 so had to wait the 45 minutes for him to arrive. Then off too the airport for our flight home. OVERALL: The cruise was absolutely fantastic. While we did enjoy the cruise immensely, we did feel there was room for improvement, especially in the organization of shore excursions. Would we ever book Celebrity again? Probably not. For the difference in cost to NCL, we didn't see that big a difference in the product. I selected this particular cruise because it went to Quebec, whereas NCL didn't. Then to have the schedule changed so we arrived in the pouring rain, really put a damper on the Quebec excursions, thereby affecting my whole outlook at the cruise. And three days at sea, was just too much idle time for me. I was climbing the walls on Wednesday really ready to disembark on Thursday. The last four days really discolored the whole cruise for me. Wish Celebrity had left the schedule as it was, with a sea day between the ports rather than all three sea days at the end of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2006
This was the second cruise for DP and myself, having sailed on RCI's Jewel of the Seas a few months earlier. I think comparing the two ships is relevant, given their common corporate ownership, similar size, and similar layout and ... Read More
This was the second cruise for DP and myself, having sailed on RCI's Jewel of the Seas a few months earlier. I think comparing the two ships is relevant, given their common corporate ownership, similar size, and similar layout and design. The executive summary, for those with short attention spans: this was a wonderful cruise. The ports were fantastic, the weather was generally very good, and we met many really great people on board. The ship itself, about 4 years old, was in very good condition and very enjoyable to sail. Now the details. Embarkation was relatively smooth, with the usual champagne offering in the Grand Foyer upon arrival. No one was around to offer an escort to our room, but for us that hardly mattered; we had reviewed the ship's deck plans and knew where we were headed. Besides, we had only one carry-on bag between the two of us so we were hardly in need of such assistance. It would be nice to know whether those who may have desired escort/orientation services were able to get them readily, but I cannot confirm that one way or the other. I did, however, see a small group of elderly women getting a tour of the ship on the first day. The Grand Foyer rises three levels up, from the third to the fifth decks. The floor is a sprawl of blond and gold marble in a star pattern flanked by warm but light-colored woods. Beyond lies the guest relations area, the concierge, the bank window, the future cruise sales office, and the shore excursion windows. Off to the port side is a bank of glass elevators that were always busy and often full. At key times one might wait as long as 10 minutes (!) to get one. We often walked the stairs instead, or used the forward and aft elevators, which were rarely as busy. Sometimes the middle elevators were so full that weight restrictions caused operational problems. Sometimes, however, it appeared that the weight of the elevators passengers was the real problem. The centerpiece of the foyer is an alabaster staircase ascending from the third to the fourth deck in full view of the observation areas on all three levels. The large blond and rust stones of the staircase are lit from within to fantastic effect, and several bands of gold and rust-colored fabric flank it from above like royal columns. Whereas Jewel's Centrum rises several floors higher, creating an awesome, dizzying display of engineering achievement with a very sophisticated and modern appearance, the relatively smaller and more compact Grand Foyer on Connie feels warmer, more traditional, and more elegant, especially upon first arrival. The third deck, also called the Plaza Deck, is also where Ocean Liners, the specialty restaurant, resides. (More on this later.) There are also some conference rooms and a cinema. The cinema is poorly laid-out. The chairs are quite plush and comfortable, but far too many of them have rather extreme viewing angles of the large screen. This "movie theater experience" is executed much more intelligently on Jewel, where the cinema looks exactly like a small replica of a "stadium-style" theater, in which every seat has a great view. The movie selection was reasonable on our cruise, though we didn't take any in. Walking up the beautiful stone staircase to the fourth (Promenade) deck, one finds oneself standing on a short, thick translucent glass bridge connecting the port and starboard observation areas. This and the staircase itself are presumably the promenade to which the deck's name refers, and sure enough on formal nights this is where people could be seen lined up for photos or just strutting around. On the starboard side is the Internet Cafe, one of two ship areas devoted to computer access. The color scheme here is the same as throughout almost the entire ship, featuring lots of blond tones, light woods, and bright color accents. Internet time is absurdly expensive at 75 cents a minute, so we just avoided it entirely (and were surprised at how easily we managed without the online world for two weeks!), but really, it's hard to understand why Celebrity charges so much. Jewel charges 50 cents, and even that seems a tad excessive. Moreover, the pre-paid "packages" Celebrity offers are sort of a joke. For example, you can pre-pay 100 minutes for $70, thereby saving a whopping 5 cents per minute. Woo hoo! Forward of the foyer on deck 4 is the Fortunes Casino. As we don't gamble I've got little more to say about it, except to note that it appeared they have the usual assortment of entertaining and idiotic ways to lose your shirt. Forward of the casino is the photo gallery and sales center (which looks like it might on any similar ship) and a more private space called Michael's Club, a piano bar and lounge that eschews Constellation's otherwise bright and light color scheme for a darker, old-world feel. It resembles the library or study of a crusty British country club, with lots of mahogany, traditional club chairs, and softer lighting (though the carper does retain the brighter colors of the rest of the ship). It's a beautiful space but very much underutilized. For one thing, its closed doors and turned-off lights during the day often gave the impression of the place being locked up, which was almost never the case. It also has the appearance of being a cigar bar, which also isn't so, but which kept a lot of timid people from venturing inside. The biggest problem, though, is that it's only staffed in the evenings, so there's not much reason to be in it during the day, unless you want a very secluded and dark place to yourself. And the evening entertainment in Michaels Club was always the same, so if you didn't care for that persons particular stylings (as we didn't) you pretty much never went back (as we didn't). It seemed a shame, as Michael's Club could really be used for so many more things. Another lounge occupies the fourth deck just aft of the foyer and forward of the main dining room. Called the Rendezvous Lounge, this space features a central dance floor and small band stage surrounded by rust-colored lounge chairs with bright stripe backings. The most interesting thing about the lounge is that the ceiling is cut away in a circle that matches the circular area where the stage and dance floor are below, so that people on the fifth deck above (in another lounge) can look down upon the musicians, dancers, and guests, while people can look up too. This also allows the music to permeate both levels of lounges, a clever arrangement, though the music at times was too loud for conversation if you sat near the center on either level. Fortunately, there are slightly more secluded (and quieter) areas of chairs and tables around the corners and off to the sides. Aft lies the main dining room, called the San Marco Restaurant, which occupies two floors with a joining staircase, balcony views on the upper level, and large floor to ceiling windows at the stern of the ship. This layout is almost identical to Jewel's and provides surprisingly intimate dining in many areas, except perhaps at the very center of the lower level, where in the middle of a busy meal you might feel more like the survivors of a Poseidon adventure. We had a table for six on the lower level nearer the front of the room and by a window, and we found that to be a very quiet and comfortable arrangement. On one of the open seating nights (when we were docked overnight in St. Petersburg) we and two of our dining companions tried a balcony table on the fifth level overlooking the main floor below. That was also a nice spot, offering a great view of the action as well as the musicians (seated next to the upper staircase landing), but our own table seemed a bit more intimate. The restaurant continues the ship's overall color schemes, with rust chairs and carpeting, blond/gold accents, and spectacular flush-mounted ceiling lighting composed of the same beautiful stones (or perhaps an imitation) as the staircase in the Grand Foyer. Admittedly we couldn't really admire the ceiling or the grand rear windows from our regular table, but on the other hand being next to a window we did get to enjoy the automatic drawing of the window shade near sunset each evening. (This phenomenon can also be experienced while sitting in the Rendezvous Lounge and Ocean Liners.) A nice touch. Moving up to the Entertainment (fifth) Deck, one finds a collection of shops called the Emporium midship. Thats about all Ill say of the shops, other than the obligatory sarcastic comment that at times you would have thought they were giving away bars of gold. Mostly it was overpriced junk and stuff you could buy in the ports for less. But we have to have shops on ships, dont we? And hey, DP and I bought a pair of discounted Celebrity tee-shirts, so we did our part. Also on the fifth deck are the lower entrance to the theater (more on the theater later), the upper level of the main restaurant, another lounge, and a coffee bar and seating area called the Cova Cafe, which overlooks both lower levels of the Grand Foyer. The space surrounding the coffee bar is again done in a scheme of blonds and golds with bright color accents. It was nice to sit at one of the many little tables and sip a cappuccino or nibble on an afternoon pastry (brought round on a cart by a lovely young Hungarian woman) while watching the goings-on all around. We also enjoyed playing backgammon there, borrowing the board and pieces from the glass-enclosed card room adjacent to the coffee bar, which is cleverly named Cards. It has a dozen or so tables set up for game-playing. With many windows looking out on the ocean or port scenes, as well as a transparent view of the coffee bar area, the card room feels bright and airy, but because its doors remains shut, it can feel stuffy when full of people, which is why we generally preferred to sit just outside it for our backgammon sessions. Aft of this area is the fifth deck lounge, which as previously mentioned has a central cut-out balcony view of the Rendezvous Lounge below. The upper lounge actually has two names. On the port side it is called the Champagne Bar (yes, the blond color scheme once again prevails) while starboard it's the Martini Bar. Don't believe the hype, at least not completely; it's not really two bars but rather one continuous area with identical furnishings that can be crossed from side to side in the middle near the balcony. However, to be fair, one side (the Martini Bar) is non-smoking so people do tend to gravitate to one side or the other. Plus each side has its own bartender and wait staff, and the Martini Bar does try to specialize in various martini concoctions (though of course you can order anything you like). So it did sort of feel like two separate lounges. (The Martini Bar also has a collection of Van Gogh flavored vodkas, which I happen to like, and which may or may not be available elsewhere in the ship.) We had excellent service in the Martini Bar and highly recommend it for a pre- or post-dinner drink. But be warned. Along with the Rendezvous Lounge below, these sitting areas, being adjacent to the restaurant, go from ghost-town empty to jam-packed full in a matter of minutes just before and after each dinner seating. Oh, and the lightly-seasoned curly breadsticks are a winner too. The sixth through ninth decks (Penthouse, Vista, Panorama, and Sky Decks) contain only staterooms except for one area on each level directly midship. On the sixth deck this area is the second computer room, and unlike the fourth deck computers that are arranged in the round, these are arranged in classroom-style for classes and other teaching assistance (as well as Internet and general computer access when there are no classes). The sixth-deck computers are also set up to let you burn CDs of your digital photos. You can download your digital photos via card readers in either computer area and they are stored for free on the ship's servers. You get 1.5 GB per person as of this writing. The catch is this: the storage is free, but the CD burning is not. It's $15 per CD, which seemed outrageous to me. I can understand that there should be some fee associated with this activity, especially since so many people needed the assistance of the computer staff to download and burn their files. But $5, maybe even $7 or $8, sounds more appropriate to me. For someone like me, who didn't need anyone's assistance, and who moreover helped a couple of other pax sitting on either side of me when the staff was too busy near the end of the cruise, well, they should have paid me. Still, I took so many pictures on this cruise that I had to reluctantly fork over $30 for two CDs so that I could reuse my memory cards. I guess it was better than having no such storage service at all, which would have forced me to delete lots of pictures during the cruise. (I'll wean and edit them anyway, but it's nice to be able to do so at home at my leisure.) So Im not complaining about this too loudly. More like muttering. On the seventh level the public midship area is called Acupuncture at Sea. We peeked in there once and it looked nice and relaxing, sort of an outpost of the spa, but we didn't use it at all. A licensed acupuncturist was available most of the time. It is worth noting that the computer area on the sixth deck and the Acupuncture at Sea suite on the seventh deck were once a common area called Notes, with the two levels joined by a staircase. Evidently this was an area for music downloading and listening. I'm not sure why Celebrity reconfigured these spaces. Maybe Notes was underutilized, or maybe it didn't generate enough revenue, or maybe the demand for computers and acupuncture services was just much higher. In any event I can't help but point out that the new configuration yields two areas that potentially produce lots of revenue. On the eighth and ninth decks the midship space is occupied by the library, called Words (undoubtedly intended as a companion name for the original Notes). This area is still two levels joined by a staircase. Unlike the library on Jewel, which is so tiny as to be more aptly described as a nook, and which uses an honor system, this library feels more robust, since it is an actual enclosed space on two levels, with far more books, a librarian, and a check-out system. Very nicely done. Now, you may ask if I bothered to read anything as erudite as an actual book on this cruise. I did not. But if I wanted to, I certainly would have had a nice selection to choose from. Now, a momentary respite from public spaces to mention our cabin. It was a standard balcony cabin on the seventh deck, on the starboard side and forward of midship. Since we had the same class of cabin on Jewel the comparison was inevitable. Constellation wins hands down. Despite having virtually the same interior square footage, the layout of our Constellation cabin was superior, with more useful storage spaces and a more open feel. The bathroom also had a far better layout than Jewel's, with a bigger shower stall, more comfortable toilet location, and gobs of bathroom storage (Jewel's bathrooms have precious little). However, Jewel's color scheme was more appealing, as the cabins on Connie once again feature lots of blonds, light woods and bright color accents (in this case, a light blue that was particularly unattractive in my opinion). Still, overall the cabin was quite comfortable and well designed, and the balcony, though small, was pleasant. Stateroom attendant service was competent and friendly. (I should mention, since there was a recent review of a different Celebrity ship in which the unfriendliness, or at least nonchalance, of the staff was noted, that on this ship all the staff were constantly smiling, greeting the pax, and in general seemed very eager to please.) The tenth level (Resort Deck) is where most of the public goings-on can be found. Here you'll find the gym, spa, indoor pool, lower level of the outdoor pool, buffet, and grill. At the bow is the gym. It's a good-sized space with plenty of treadmills and other exercise equipment, though with only four working elliptical machines (two more were out of order) there was sometimes a wait for these. A half-dozen or so stationary bikes were also often fully occupied during the early and mid-morning hours. Around lunchtime the gym tended to empty (time to pack on the calories we had just burned off, and then some), but on sea days there was another spike of activity in mid- to late afternoon. Gym towels are plentiful, but I was surprised by the lack of hand wipes, and only occasionally could one find the bottle of disinfectant spray to spray down the equipment with. Also lacking is any kind of drinking water. You have to go outside the gym just to get to a fountain. Really there should be a water cooler with cups. In these little details, Jewel's gym is exemplary, while Connie's is just adequate. The spa features several attractive-looking people standing around waiting to sell you stuff, as well as a thermal suite called the Persian Gardens. We didn't use it or any of the spa services. The indoor pool area, called the Aqua Spa due to the presence of the Thalassotherapy pool, is a lovely and generally quiet space, with dozens of Adirondack-style chairs, plentiful towels, and soothing music. The high, arched glass ceiling lets the sun in and lets you view the sky above (people on the upper deck of the outdoor pool can also look down upon you). There is a small cafe that serves healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options buffet-style. We ate our breakfast there often, away from the maddening crowds who would pile up their plates with eggs, sausages, and pancakes. (You can't get any of those things in the Aqua Spa Cafe, but you can get cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, muffins, bagels, salmon, and of course morning beverages.) Hanging plants, wood columns, and interesting sculptures add to the greenhouse ambiance. Through no fault of the ship, the Thalassotherapy pool was out of service our entire cruise, apparently due to a Legionella concern from the prior sailing which had to be addressed. (Can someone explain to me just what the heck thalassotherapy is anyway? Is it even a real word? My DP enjoyed making fun of it by calling it the Jurassotherapy pool.) Aft of the indoor pool is the two-level outdoor pool, with the usual accoutrements, and beyond that is the Seaside Cafe, also known as the buffet. With occasional exceptions, you can't have your dinner buffet-style on Connie, though they do reserve a section of the tables for what they call Casual Dining. This is for those who don't want to dress up or otherwise make an appearance in the main dining room, like maybe if theyve got a sudden nasty zit on the nose. But it's still table service. Breakfast and lunch at the buffet are madness, with none of the elegant ergonomics of Jewel's efficient self-serve "floating" buffet stations. Instead you queue up at one of four starting points, and then try to make your way through several bottlenecks, not the least of which is getting a tray and cutlery in the first place. The coffee/water stations stand apart but are also poorly designed and present another bottleneck. Servers on our cruise were polite but ignored requests for small portions, and the crowd often bandied about in the usual rabid zombie me-first state of mind, with plenty of cutting in line and bobbing and weaving and generally making it difficult for others to maneuver about. Thank God some of us at least maintained our smiles and courtesies. To be fair, there are a few nice features on the buffet, such as a made-to-order pasta station, a nice salad bar (much better than Jewel's), fresh cheese and bread offerings, and two ice cream stations. Pizza and sandwiches are also readily available, and in the early evening fresh sushi is prepared by real sushi chefs, though ours were occasionally seen arguing with each other, perhaps disagreeing on the correct technique for slicing eel. At the very aft of the buffet is an outdoor grill that serves hamburgers and so forth. There are certainly plenty of options overall, but with its poor layout and crowded conditions, the buffet is one of the least successful elements of the ship. Up on the Sunrise Deck (number eleven if youre still counting) you'll find a lovely though tiny conservatory displaying and selling fresh flower and plant arrangements, a jogging/walking track around the upper level of the outdoor pool, several kiddie/teen areas, an outdoor bar, and an indoor observatory/lounge at the bow called the Bar at the Edge of the Earth. Previously known as Reflections, this space was originally conceived with an ultra-modern design featuring lots of metal, modern lighting, and violet hues. Evidently somewhere around the time Cirque got involved with Celebrity they redecorated the lounge to look more like the morning after Mardi Gras, with oddly-shaped fabrics dangling everywhere for a more mysterious look. It works to a certain extent, though it grows tiresome by the end of a two-week cruise. The twelfth and top deck, called the Sports Deck, is really two mini-decks. The forward portion has additional lounge seating and a topless sunbathing area, though we never saw anyone topless up there (then again, this wasn't a warm and fuzzy Caribbean cruise), while the aft section has a combination paddleball/basketball court. It isn't really much of a deck, unlike Jewel's top deck, which is fully connected and features a more extensive variety of sport activities, but it does serve its purpose. The crew appeared to play basketball up there more often than the pax. The food on board was generally very good. The main dining room offers five courses, including appetizer, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. The variety of choices was generally excellent, with virtually every menu offering pasta, fish, pork, beef, and poultry options, plus two vegetarian entrees if you were lucky enough to glimpse one of the vegetarian menus. Overall I'd give the dining room food 3 to 3.5 stars, with appetizers and soups generally faring best. Desserts looked tempting but were often a bit disappointing. To counter that problem several varieties of ice cream and sorbet are offered each night. The peanut butter ice cream was marvelous. The quality of the buffet food was generally a notch lower than in the dining room, though the variety of offerings made up for that. One could certainly make a wonderful salad for lunch with a nice serving of fresh cheese and bread on the side. Entrees were of mixed quality but side veggies were generally very good. The low point in the ship's cuisine was the coffee. It was pretty terrible, bitter and artificial-tasting. For anyone who thinks otherwise, the coffee is definitely made from a syrup base; it is not freshly brewed. We found it nearly undrinkable at first, but being coffee addicts we slugged it down anyway. We found that two little creamers per small cup of coffee made it almost palatable, and as the cruise went along we sort of got used to it. But really, it was pretty awful. To be fair, two of our traveling companions found it "not all that bad" though I'm pretty sure they were in the minority and being a tad generous in their assessment. The coffee in the specialty coffee bar was, of course, far superior, but it also cost extra and wasn't available in the very early morning hours. My recollection is that the coffee on Jewel, also a syrup-based product, was not nearly as lousy as the stuff on Connie. Finally in the food category there is Ocean Liners, the specialty restaurant. One can't argue with the impeccable if slightly stuffy service, nor with the outstanding ambiance, featuring a darker decor and live harpist, plus more of those automatic window shade thingies, but for a $30 surcharge I was expecting the food to be just a bit better than it was, and this sentiment was echoed by several of our traveling companions. To be sure, it is haute cuisine, certainly of a higher quality than in the main dining room, but it still wasn't quite all that and a bag of chips. Moreover the main entree options are rather limited, and you can't order extra courses like you can in Jewel's specialty restaurants, one of which, Portofino's, is still my favorite specialty restaurant to date. I would suggest giving Ocean Liners a try only on longer cruises, just for variety's sake. Few people we talked to found it especially memorable. The theater is your typical multi-level facility with plentiful seating and good views all around. One annoying aspect is that bar waiters try hard to sell cocktails just before each show, when people are milling about and getting settled into their seats, and in this chaos sometimes a drink was spilled on someone's blazer or evening gown. At least the real entertainment was quite good, far superior to what we saw on Jewel, where the ship's in-house production company was rather amateurish and disappointing. On Connie the in-house troop was far better, still not world-class but about what I would call off-Broadway quality. Several guest performers were excellent, including a violin virtuoso and a West End entertainer. Best of all was the Taste of Cirque. Though short in duration it was highly professional and polished. The overall condition of the ship on our cruise was very good. Yes there were the occasional carpet stains and missing bits of wood here and there, but nothing beyond the normal wear and tear one might expect from a four-year-old ship. Public bathrooms were consistently spotless and smelled fresh, whereas on Jewel a few of them had started to reek near the end of the cruise. Sitting areas were comfortable, pools and outdoor decks were always kept clean, carpets were vacuumed daily, and glass surfaces and railings were cleaned and polished regularly. Service, as previously mentioned, was always professional, courteous, and friendly. Others have sometimes complained about the guest relations staff on Celebrity ships. We found them to be superb. We also had a problem with the bathroom in our original cabin that rendered it rather unpleasant to use, and our concerns were promptly and courteously handled by the housekeeping staff. Ultimately we were moved to a cabin down the hall, and given a complimentary bottle of champagne and night at Ocean Liners for our trouble. Disembarkation in ports and post-cruise went smoothly, and necessary evils such as the muster drill and crew fire drill were kept as unobtrusive as possible. Bottom line: other than the few minor issues mentioned herein, it was hard to find fault with this cruise. The ship was comfortable and felt far more intimate than its 90,000 tons would suggest, the food was at worst adequate and often very good, the service was almost always outstanding, and the itinerary was splendid. We also met many wonderful people who added greatly to our overall enjoyment. Comparing the Constellation to the Jewel of the Seas yields two very fine vessels with slightly different plusses and minuses. Overall we preferred Jewel's layout (especially the buffet), as well as its more sophisticated decor and pleasing artwork (most of the art on Connie is either bland or atrocious or both, with a few notable exceptions such as the enormous snake-like colored glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling on deck 11). But we liked Connie's cabin layout much better (especially in the bathroom), as well as the intimacy of her public areas and the healthy dining choices and relative peace and quiet in the Aqua Spa Cafe. Certainly we would cruise Celebrity again in a heartbeat (in fact we are booked on two other X cruises) and in particular, we can recommend the Constellation very highly. She has plenty to offer young and old alike, and anyone who cant manage to have a good time on board is not worth hanging out with anyway. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Review of Celebrity Constellation On July 29 we completed a two-week cruise on the Constellation, from Dover to France, Ireland, Scotland, the Norwegian fjords, and Copenhagen. While there were many high points, as discussed below, we ... Read More
Review of Celebrity Constellation On July 29 we completed a two-week cruise on the Constellation, from Dover to France, Ireland, Scotland, the Norwegian fjords, and Copenhagen. While there were many high points, as discussed below, we were disappointed in "the best cruise ship in the world", as boasted by the otherwise excellent cruise director, Derek. Embarkation - Celebrity did not offer us transfers to the dock, and when we discovered the possibility 10 days before sailing (on their website), we were told we were too late to schedule. Our travel agent also failed to offer us this, and could not intervene with Celebrity. This was a blessing in disguise, since we had arranged our own one-night stay in London, and the train trip from Victoria Station to Dover was scenic, smooth, less than half the price of the Celebrity shuttle, and nearly an hour shorter. A brief taxi ride to the terminal led us to a fairly smooth check-in, although no one directed us to the priority line for "concierge class" customers. However, the check-in was swift at 1:30 in the afternoon and we were on board before 2. Although we were promised Priority delivery of our luggage, only one of four bags arrived promptly, two more arrived just before the 5 PM sailing, and the final one after we sought it out at Guest Relations (a tag I had offered to replace on the dock, but was told not to, had been lost by the porters) later that evening. The lifeboat drill was the worst we've ever attended. We congregated in the Casino, a nice place to be when the ship goes down if the tables are open. However, when they took us on deck, no checks were made of attendance, nobody checked the accuracy of life vest use, and we had to stand there for a long time listening to instructions in three languages. I would suggest separate drills for passengers with different native languages. I'm sure that they would have appreciated that as well. Stateroom - clean, pleasant, comfortable, adequate storage, decent bathroom. The balcony which was advertised as 41 sq. ft. was actually significantly smaller, apparently one of a few which taper from four feet deep to just over two feet, making it a struggle to get around the small table to the second chair. This was room 8102. Andrew, our cabin steward, was pleasant, efficient, and rapidly available. The room was kept clean throughout the voyage. Concierge class - nice, but definitely not worth the extra $$$. The "menu of pillows" was really two different pillows on both sides of the bed; no choice, certainly no menu. But comfortable, and it's nice on warm evenings to have three other sides of the pillow to provide a cooler surface for resting on. The daily hors d'oeuvres arrived all but two days, and were largely tasteless, served on toasted squares of bread that was clearly stale before toasting. The hors d'oeuvres on NCL were far superior, more attractive, tastier, and fresher. We had no occasion to use the concierge's services except once, and that time we got voice mail; I'm not clear when we might have used it, since making one's own shore excursion and specialty restaurant reservations, which we did, is a snap. The one possible thing our extra nearly $1000/couple may have bought us was the table for two in the dining room which we had requested. (We've had two dismal cruise experiences at larger tables.)  However, when tables for two were available, $20 to the maitre d' has always worked in the past. Itinerary - This is what attracted us to this cruise, and it was one of the best in our 22 cruises. The trip into Geiranger and the fjords, lakes, and mountains around was worth the cost of the entire cruise. One of the two or three best places we've ever visited (Moorea in the Pacific and St. Petersburg being the other contenders.) We were able, with shore excursions, to get to Paris (much better than we anticipated), Edinburgh (steeped in history and landmarks), and Hamlet's castle at Helsineur (Elsinore). The pleasant surprise was Belfast in Northern Ireland, a city that has gone rapidly from longstanding turmoil to progressive development, and the gateway to amazing countryside. Celebrity only offers this itinerary once, unfortunately. Shore Excursions - costly, but worth it. We did two ports on our own. Dublin is easy walking and we managed to see most of the important sites and have fish and chips and Guinness at a local pub in four hours; we used the ship's shuttle back and forth to town. Bergen, one of our favorite stops, is also compact in terms of features. Don't miss the fish market, Bryggen (the old port, now a shopping district), and the funicular to the top of the local mountain. Just a delightful day; also the most reasonable shopping in Norway if you get off the main street. We bought two pieces of amber jewelry for half the cost onboard and a third of the price in the States, and delicious smoked salmon and caviar at the fish market for a third of US prices. In Le Havre we opted for the Paris tour with Seine luncheon cruise. While we didn't get into any sites, we saw most of the important ones from the outside, and lunch while viewing Notre Dame and other sites was magnificent. Some in our group did find enough time to climb the Eiffel tower to the second level (720 steps). From Cork, Ireland, we chose the excursion to Killarney and its scenic lakes; informative, beautiful, worthwhile. Decent shopping at Blarney Woolens. (We bought Irish jewelry and a drum.) In Greenock we took the tour to Edinburgh, as noted above. Other than a luncheon snafu (they expected us an hour later than we arrived), it was informative and enjoyable. From Belfast we went to the glens, which were appropriately misty and enchanting. We took a long excursion from Geiranger that went to a high viewing point, from which the most famous pictures of the fjords have been taken, and then to Briksdalen Glacier, where a one hour plus climb of nearly two miles took us to the foot of the ice floe and its glacier lake. My wife was able to wade for nearly 10 seconds! In Olden we took a pleasant two-hour lake cruise, but the equally pleasant part was exploring the small town. In Copenhagen we shuttled to Tivoli Gardens the first night, worth seeing once in your life but not again. The next day we traveled to the castles of North Zealand, saw the homes and beaches on the Danish Riviera, and came back with scores of photos. Prices are a little high, but the guides were universally knowledgeable, informative, and pleasant, although the woman in Belfast spent a lot of time dissing her ex-husband and her son-in-law and anything that wasn't native Irish (such as the Scots, and the evergreens from Norway). Dining - our biggest disappointment, with exception. We had been informed that menu selections from Michel Roux were available daily; these were not on the menu nor were they offered by our otherwise excellent waiter Olman. There were limited selections every night, with Roux-recommended choices, which almost always differed from Olman's suggestions. Meat was overcooked, over tenderized, and not very tasty. Appetizers were good but not exceptional; ditto the desserts. Their presentations of Bananas Foster, cherries jubilee, and baked Alaska were poor imitations of the true versions. The significant exception was the extra charge Ocean Liners restaurant, where we had the two best meals we ever recall in our 21 previous cruises. Service, setting, and food were all exceptional. Wine selection throughout the cruise was satisfactory while not extensive, and a little more expensive than similar wines in stateside restaurants. Public rooms - I participated in a medical course on the ship, and the facilities for this were very good, although one of the two meeting rooms had poorly functioning audiovisual equipment making many slides unreadable. The seats were comfortable and all had fold-up platforms for taking notes. We had an occasional drink in the bars and lounges, which were attractive, with average service. The casino, where we spend a lot of time on cruises, was small but usually adequate; there was often a wait for a seat at the blackjack table after the first dinner seating finished. The casino staff were friendlier than average, with the exception of two dealers whom we tried to avoid. The theater was attractive, had excellent view lines, and was comfortable. The shows were average at best; we walked out on the one production show we saw due to poor singing by the female star and uninspired choreography, although the male singer and operatic second female were excellent. We heard better reviews of the two production shows we opted to skip. The nightly shows didn't attract us, except for one magician who was below average. The major exception was the Cirque du Soleil show, which was magnificent, albeit short and with a small cast. However, the advertised presence of Cirque characters throughout the cruise, especially in the Bar at the End of the Earth, was never visible to us the entire cruise; perhaps it was bad timing on our part. The dining room was attractive but, as noted above, the food was not. Get a table by the windows if possible. Shopping offered less variety and higher prices than on other recent cruises. The library was extremely well-stocked, with a nearly full-time librarian. The Internet room was good but seldom needed, since there were hot-spots scattered around the ship where wireless access was available. The price of $.50/minute adds up if you're checking your e-mail, however. Art work aboard the ship was among the least attractive we've seen, admitting that art appreciation is very subjective. Elevator service was poor. Cars would often pass by when the button was pushed for the direction they were headed, and a three to five minute wait was not unusual. Elevators on RCI are provide much better service. Crew - This was the least friendly and least customer-oriented crew we've encountered. There were a few officers whose role clearly included welcoming passengers to the restaurants and a few other areas. Anyone else we encountered ignored our Hello's without response. One maintenance man whistled loudly to a colleague 50 feet away within three feet of my ears, and those cleaning the deck under our balcony were loud and disturbed our rest. The crew seemed to lack any commitment to customer service. Loyalty club - I've forgotten the name since we didn't join and probably won't. I was surprised, when Northwest Airlines honored our Continental miles, that Celebrity gives no credit for our three cruises on RCI, with same ownership. The representative I talked with was not a good recruiter for Celebrity's club, never suggesting that we join when she turned down our Crown and Anchor credits. Overall - We probably won't sail Celebrity again. Its sister line, Royal Caribbean, offered more for less money, and the food, by and large, was better. There were more activities, such as the climbing wall, which we took advantage of. Unless the itinerary is exceptional, and not offered by RCI, Holland America, or Princess, we're done. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Review of the Celebrity Constellation, transatlantic eastbound, 04/28/06 This review is based upon my observations onboard the Celebrity Constellation on her transatlantic voyage leaving Bayonne, NJ on 04/28/06. My husband and I have ... Read More
Review of the Celebrity Constellation, transatlantic eastbound, 04/28/06 This review is based upon my observations onboard the Celebrity Constellation on her transatlantic voyage leaving Bayonne, NJ on 04/28/06. My husband and I have cruised the Caribbean before, however this is our first transatlantic cruise Embarkation- Pros- The online check in really helped reduce the check in time. With all that you are trying to keep track of, you simply show your I.D. and a method of payment for incidentals and you are moved to the queue for transport to the ship. Check in is at a separate facility, once complete you are then bused from this facility to the ship. If you are with someone who has difficulty walking, you may want to have a portable chair close as they will tire. Cons- Given the reviews I had read, I anticipated a quicker embarkation that we actually received. There is a flat rate of 35.00 from the Newark airport to the cruise pier.. Once at the pier, we gave our bags to the porters, and walked inside the building. You will have to stop celebrity personnel and request a wheelchair. We were onboard within 60 minutes after having our hand luggage passed through security and a metal detector. Once onboard we received a glass of champagne or orange juice. Our room was not ready for another 2.5 hours and we were invited to enjoy the buffet on 10 deck aft during this time. Accommodations- Pros- We had purchased a category Z guarantee. We ended up with an oceanview room at the front of the ship Rm. 6007. The room was well thought out with plenty of mirrors to give the illusion of additional space and every square inch of usable space was available for storage. The room had excellent lighting. This is important to me in that often there is not good light for reading or other tasks. That was not the case with this cabin. There was a large (48 X 48)-porthole window in the cabin. The bathroom was great, with a shower that didnt leak and strong pressurized hot water on demand at all times of the day or night. There was plenty of storage for toiletries. The cabin was kept very clean and orderly by the cabin attendants, however they were not obtrusive. The Constellation is a large ship. There were 1900 people on board, yet we never felt crowded or waited in line. That was a pleasant surprise as we wondered if with so many people, we would feel like cattle being herded. Cons- The only problem was that the in-room computer locked safe did not work consistently. Often we would have to re-program the system 5 or 6 times before the safe would lock. Service- Pros- The service was relaxed but very good. The cabin attendant Servio is great. He anticipated our needs, gave good counsel and took care of minor details. If you have him as a cabin steward, you are lucky. Service in the public areas and food areas was good, Tables were cleared quickly and if it appeared that you needed assistance with your tray, there was someone to help. Cons There were two onboard gratuity forms left in our room at different times. One form listed 10.50 per day and one 14.00 per day. We dont know if there was an increase during our trip. Common Areas The common areas were kept very clean. The ship has a modern, rather minimalist dEcor and I do not remember a common area that was less than spotless at anytime during the day or night. Food- Pros After reading the reviews in CC, I had downgraded my expectations on the cuisine. I expected standard cruise fare in the main dining area and the food met that level of expectation. Our waiters, Lazaro, his assistant Koerng were excellent. We did not go to the Ocean liners restaurant and cannot comment on the service or food. The courses were served ably and confidently and we were pleased with the service offered. We brought wine for dinner and were charged a 15.00 corkage fee each time we opened a bottle. Our tablemates were great company and we spent many evenings laughing over the days events. The best coffee on the ship is found in the Cova Cafe on deck 5. It has great pastries in the morning (directly across the deck and at no charge). The Cova Cafe and turns into a wine bar in the afternoon. It is also where the string quartet plays in the early evening. Cons None Entertainment. There was a regularly scheduled string quartet on the 5th floor each evening that received a lot of attention. They did an excellent job We did not go to any of the evening shows. We did go to the masquerade party for a short time. Everyone appeared to be having a good time. General comments 1. If this is your first transatlantic crossing be prepared for rough water. We had cruised in the Caribbean in the past, but were unprepared for the roughness of the Atlantic. At one point, the pools and elevators were closed down due to the pitching of the ship. There were 40-50 foot swells. Anyone who is taking a transatlantic for the first time should give thought to the air/water temperature and the time of year they sail. Many of the cruisers who had done transatlantic trips before didnt seem surprised at the roughness of the seas. 2. Consider bringing your own beverages. Celebrity charges 2.50 ea. for soft drinks (there is a daily plan offered at $5.00 per day; however it must be purchased for the duration of the trip). Additionally, you are charged for bottled water. While the wine list is acceptable, if you are looking for a specific wine experience, it may be more cost effective to bring your choices with you and simply pay the corkage fee. You can check the Celebrity wine list online. We brought wine, water and soft drinks in checked baggage. We asked that the mini-bar be emptied so we had space in the refrigerator and again, it was done immediately. Even though the Celebrity brochure says that alcohol brought onboard will be confiscated, no one questioned us or seemed upset in any way. We feel this was the best choice for us. 3. There were few children on the ship. Out of a complement of more than 1900 people there were fewer than 20 children onboard. 6. Consider your Internet and news information needs. If being connected is important to you, there is a 24-hour Internet cafe onboard, however, connection is .75 per minute. Our Sprint wireless card did not work onboard, but my T-Mobile cell phone received a signal when we reached the English Channel. I had read that taking a class would allow you free Internet time that was not the case in the class that I took. Celebrity indicates that all rooms have access to CNN, in actuality; we were out of range after 24 hours at sea and did not have CNN access again until Thursday. 7. Be aware of the time change. On the east bound voyages, you lose an hour each evening. This time change really sneaks up on you and you dont realize that you are awaking 4 or 5 hours earlier. In summary, this was a wonderful cruising experience. I would recommend that anyone considering this cruise understand that the Atlantic can be a very active body of water and that crossing the Atlantic passengers should expect seas that are active. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
My wife and I have cruised for many years, mainly on Silversea. Purpose of this cruise was to get acquainted with a new Celebrity ship, of which we had heard good things. We booked a Royal Suite at a cost of $ 8,079, which for a 7-days ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised for many years, mainly on Silversea. Purpose of this cruise was to get acquainted with a new Celebrity ship, of which we had heard good things. We booked a Royal Suite at a cost of $ 8,079, which for a 7-days cruise was as expensive, if not more so for a Silversea frequent cruiser (where one obtains significant savings over the published fares). The Royal Suite is the second largest suite type on this ship. You can access Celebrity's website for details. It was very nicely appointed, with two jacuzzis and ample closets. No shower gel, though. The butler, Judas, was excellent. We utilized his services quite a bit - polishing shoes, obtaining reservations in the specialty restaurant, setting up breakfast on the verandah or inside, depending weather conditions. He also served afternoon tea or coffee with pastry and sandwiches, and only an hour later, hors d'oeuvres for an in-suite cocktail hour. All very, very pleasant. And he took care of having a roller on one of our suitcases fixed. The Ocean Liners specialty restaurant (at an extra USD 30 cost per person) was very good, not only foodwise but also in service. Very recommendable. Due to acute pain in the shoulder area, I utilized the acupuncture service on board. It was quite expensive (about USD 100 per session), but worthwhile for the reason intended. My wife was happy with the reflexology sessions she had. Main restaurant: Well, it was... OK. Servers were courteous, but somewhat too chummy and we disliked being asked "where are you from?". Usually such questions are made by the passengers, not the staff. Food: it was good, but not distinguished. Service was as efficient as you can expect on a 2000+ passenger ship. Buffet restaurant: For the purpose intended, it was quite good, specially the breakfast. The sushi bar in the evenings was perhaps the best overall culinary experience, outside the specialty restaurant. The shows were good, as can be expected on such a big ship. We did not participate in any ship-sponsored excursions, since we had been to the port of calls (Casa de Campo, Grenada, Barbados, St Kitts and St Thomas) on previous cruises and trips to the Caribbean. We were though impressed of the amount and variety of shore excursions offered. While the check in procedure was somewhat bumpy (we arrived at about 2:30 pm - a later timing would have been much better) the checkout was perfect! Passengers were ordered to assemble in different public areas, according to their luggage color code, and from there they were advised to deboard in a very, very orderly fashion. Great organization here. It was somewhat obscure how the ship managed passengers bringing liquor aboard. There is a desk where passengers are supposed to surrender any bottles bought at the tax free shop before boarding. But many took their supply aboard in their carryons. Then, on board, there was a store offering liquor at very good prices, so it really is not worthwhile to bring anything on board, but you have to consider the fact that during port stays, the on board shops are closed. Overall it was a positive cruising experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
We have sailed Royal Caribbean, Princess and NCL. We treated ourselves to a Celebrity cruise in December 2012, and were very disappointed. We eat only vegan meals. Celebrity advertises that they have a separate vegetarian menu with vegan ... Read More
We have sailed Royal Caribbean, Princess and NCL. We treated ourselves to a Celebrity cruise in December 2012, and were very disappointed. We eat only vegan meals. Celebrity advertises that they have a separate vegetarian menu with vegan options. On our prior Celebrity cruise, the Maitre D' told us "they don't have that anymore," and in spite of generous "pre-tips," the dining staff was simply not accommodating. We ate what we could at the buffet. I wrote to Celebrity to complain and received apologies and vouchers for $200 each for a future cruise. Against my better judgment, we booked for 1/2/14. We knew that they finished the "Solstice" renovations last March and were interested to stay in a brand new AquaClass stateroom on the top deck. Most importantly, this would give us access to the new Blu restaurant. What a difference a year makes! First, the cabin was brand new and everything was in great shape. While we had stayed in a concierge cabin last time, the cabin service was better in AquaClass. Second, the service and food in Blu made our trip. The Maitre D', waiters, assistant waiters, and wine stewards all worked as a team. They made sure that we had the regular menu and the vegetarian menu for the next day and helped modify dishes where necessary to make sure we could pre-order good vegan meals the next day. They often suggested additional dishes that were not on either menu. The captain has only been in that position for 70 days. He is loved by his crew and has set a much more friendly and accommodating tone. We would book this ship again...but only in AquaClass, as no one else can use Blu. Some other notes: Entertainment is fair to average. It is surprising, as they are part of RCC, and RCC has very good shows. The single shuffleboard court is covered with lounge chairs and there is no shuffleboard equipment. This is odd, as is it an activity that costs Celebrity next to nothing. The activities pool deck often has music and entertainment that is so loud that it can cause hearing loss. Fortunately, there is an adults-only therapy pool which is quiet and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We recently returned from our first Celebrity Cruise. We are cruise lovers and firmly believe that a bad day at sea beats a day at work any day. We've sailed on almost all of the mass market lines including, Carnival, NCL, Princess ... Read More
We recently returned from our first Celebrity Cruise. We are cruise lovers and firmly believe that a bad day at sea beats a day at work any day. We've sailed on almost all of the mass market lines including, Carnival, NCL, Princess & RCCL. This review will be written from the perspective of a comparison between Celebrity and the other cruise lines, especially Royal Caribbean which has been my favorite line to this point. Prior to boarding I corresponded with many of my co-passengers for many months on Cruise Critic, many of which were fans of Celebrity. I was told that I would "love" Celebrity and that "they just do it better", etc. I went on this trip with an open mind prepared to enjoy the "premium" service and experience Celebrity markets. Since we live only about 10 minutes from the port in Bayonne, there was no need for pre-cruise arrangements. Because this was a repositioning sailing we would be flying back into Newark so we parked our car at the airport and arranged for a ride for the short trip to the pier at Cape Liberty. I did another repo cruise from Bayonne at almost the same time last year on the Voyager of the Seas. That departure was in cold and windy conditions, but still a lot of fun. Just about a week or so before boarding the Connie I realized that because Daylight Savings Time had ended that we would be leaving port in the dark at 6:00 pm. I figured that this would add to the excitement of sailaway, being on deck, going under the lit up Verazzano bridge. I was looking forward to it. Embarkation-We arrived at Cape Liberty around 12:15 or so and gave our ample luggage to a waiting porter. This was a 9-day voyage which included 3 formal and 2 informal nights, so we had more luggage than in the past. We tipped him appropriately and made our way inside the terminal. Since boarding had already started, there were no lines and we walked right up to an agent with our previously printed Xpress Pass and were checked in within 5 minutes. Took our boarding photo and walked right onto a waiting bus to shuttle us to the ship. We were onboard and enjoying the welcome champagne and orange juice by 12:30. Grade-A+ Cabin/Ship-Our cabin was ready when we arrived so we went there right away to check it out. About a month or so before we sailed there was a rock bottom sale on this sailing. The prices were originally great anyway, with us paying less than $700 for 9 days. We originally booked an inside guarantee. During the sale, inside guarantees could be had for $450 per person! I'm not kidding. Instead of requesting a refund, we took advantage of the low pricing to upgrade to a balcony cabin for only $80 more per person. What a deal. We were assigned cabin# 6048. One of my CC buddies advised me that that was the "special" cabin he had specifically booked, but gave up in favor of a guarantee to get the price reduction. I was anxious to see what was so "special" about this cabin. From the deck plans it appeared as if this cabin had a slightly larger balcony than the standard balcony cabins. It was a bit larger, however there was a downfall to this location. This specific cabin on all decks had a kind of slanted, triangle shaped balcony. This make them slightly larger, but they were angled so that every time you step up to the railing of your balcony you're looking out at all of the balconies down the side of the ship. And more importantly, they're looking at you! It meant for a little less privacy because I didn't feel free to walk up to my balcony in nightgowns or even less J, but the slightly larger space did allow for us to put a padded lounge chair out there which I enjoyed many times during this voyage. I liked the mirrored walls in the cabin as well as the small couch. The overall dEcor was very inviting. There was a mini fridge and enough storage space for us to put away all of our things. I liked the extra drawer space in the closet. The bathroom/shower is definitely on the small side, but aren't they all? I believe this was the smallest bathroom I've ever had. The best bathroom would be on the Norwegian Dawn, with the sectioned layout. Overall, a comfortable attractive room. The rest of the ship was equally as attractive. I liked the elegance of the ship. The public spaces were very comfortable and nicely decorated. The layout of the ship was good, and easy to get around. One disappointment, though, was the Thelassotherapy pool. After hearing so much hype about this venue, I thought it was going to be a tranquil, solarium type atmosphere. I walked by this pool several times before I realized that it was THE T-pool. I was envisioning a more secluded, out of the way area in the spa for this pool. It was basically just the indoor pool as on the Solarium on RCCL ships. However there wasn't as much tranquility in this area as in RCCL. I found it to very noisy in this area, not conducive to quite conversation or reading. I definitely prefer the Solarium on RCCL ships which are decorated with a tropical theme. Just more relaxing and pleasing to the eye. Grade-A- Food-After checking out our cabin we headed to the buffet area for the welcome aboard lunch. This was the best buffet lunch I've had on a ship. There were excellent choices including carved meat, rice, salads, fresh pasta. I was disappointed in the choices of salad dressings, however, which was limited. Only 3 choices, and not the usual offerings like Ranch, French. They had tomato basil or something like that. Throughout the week, I commented that the buffet here definitely beat that on RCCL. My last trip on the Voyager last year had a dreadful buffet, where it was difficult to get a hot meal. I also ordered room service for the first time ever on this trip. I enjoyed a full service breakfast one day before going ashore. I even took the advice of some other reviewers and wrote in some items that were not on the room service menu. I also made sure to write in all of the condiments we wanted since I'd read previously that if you don't do that, you won't get them. The room service menu offered a plain omelet, so I wrote in the things I wanted included, such as cheese, onions, etc. It came just as ordered. The entire order was perfect. The freshly cooked pancakes and waffles were very good at the breakfast buffet. During the week we only went to the formal dining room for dinner. I don't pay for the extra charge venues. We went to the DR for breakfast twice as well, including the day of debarkation. The food was always very good, with one exception. The lobster I received on formal night was terrible. The worst I've had on any trip. I spoke to others who said theirs was good, but I didn't enjoy mine at all. I enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate with pastries at the Cova Cafe. Overall the food was very good, but not extremely better than that on RCCL. Grade-B+ Entertainment-While I enjoyed what was offered on the ship, I found Celebrity to be very lacking in this area. There just seemed like there wasn't much to do. Daytime activities were very few. I mentioned to several of my fellow cruisers that I was very disappointed in the daily activities or lack of them on this ship. While on other ships, I'm always afraid to nap during the day for the fear that I'd miss out on some fun activity. Not on this ship. I took many naps and slept later than normal, comfortable knowing that there wasn't much going on to miss. Good thing was I caught up on some much needed sleep. I liked the fact that there were few onboard announcements and the usual belly flop and hairy leg contests were not missed, but I do like the other type of game shows that are offered on other ships. I always make a point to go see the ship's version of the Not so Newlywed Game, it being one of my favorite activities. They had no such game on this ship. Nothing like RC's "Quest" or anything of that sort. There was one, I repeat, ONE stand up comedy act during the entire 9-day voyage. One show only. I was extremely disappointed with this. I enjoy comedians on the ships and couldn't believe that only one show was offered. I also enjoy Karaoke and only 2 sessions were offered during these 9 days. Some Celebrity fans have told me that these are the things they like about Celebrity. I guess that would mean I'm still a RCCL fan because I missed these things. The cover band on the ship, Onyx was excellent, with the drummer/singer Johnny something. I forgot his last name. I really should have kept my daily sheets. He was an excellent vocalist. He was featured during the welcome aboard show. I thought this meant that he would have a full show later in the week and I looked forward to it. Didn't happen. He sang in the Rendezvous Lounge with the band, but did not have his own show in the theater. I only attended 2 of the production shows, as I'm of the mind, you've seen one you've pretty much seen them all. I enjoyed "Fantaseas" immensely with it being up there as one of the best shows I've seen at sea. That top honor goes to NCL's Dawn and their presentation of "Bollywood". The lead singers and dancers of the Connie were all very good. Grade-C Ports/Excursions-The itinerary on this ship left something to be desired. One of the original ports we were scheduled to visit was Charleston, SC. Many of us were excited about this port and were looking forward to exploring it's many historic sites. However, it was replaced with Freeport, Grand Bahama. No one was excited about this port at all, especially since we were already scheduled to visit Nassau. 2 port in the Bahamas is really not that exciting. Also since I've been to Grand Bahamas twice before for land vacations, I was even less thrilled. Therefore I used this day as a "ship" day. I envisioned myself having the empty ship to myself. Unfortunately, many of the other passengers had the same idea. There were lots of folks onboard this day. The rest of the itinerary was the standard Eastern Caribbean visiting St. Maarten, St. Thomas and ending in San Juan. We took one ship sponsored excursion which was in St. Maarten. We did the 4 X 4 Jeep Safari excursion and we had a blast. Even my DH who isn't easily excited had a great time. We met a nice couple who we shared a jeep with and had a great time. We drove through town on both sides of the island and stopped at Orient Beach for a few hours before ending the tour with some off road driving. While at Orient Beach we had a delicious lunch and enjoyed the beautiful beach area. It was a great day. In St. Thomas we just did a little shopping and visited a nearby phone/internet center to call home and check email. We had beautiful weather all week, but we did have 2 very rough days at sea. One of which prevented my husband from attending the formal dinner in the dining room. I went alone, and since we had a table for 2, I was dining alone. Some of the nearby diners took pity on me and asked me if I wanted to join their tables. Lol. I must have looked like a lonely, pathetic lady. It was very nice of them to ask. Those 2 days onboard were a bit uncomfortable, difficult to walk with many folks feeling seasick, but other than that we had warm sunny skies. Service-Service was excellent throughout the ship. Here, Celebrity lived up to my expectations. We had a wonderful room steward, Agnelo, and wonderful dining room wait staff. Our waiter was Dzoni from Croatia and his assistant, "Mr. T" from Thailand. Mr T didn't resemble the famous character from the 80's, instead a petite man who liked to crack jokes. They honored all of our requests, even for Crème Brulee on the nights it wasn't on the menu. We met some very friendly bar servers, some of the nicest from Jamaica. The casino dealers were also very nice and they liked to joke around with the players. There was even a nice pit boss, a tall lady with red hair, that was on point. I gave her my room card to get cash at a table, and she greeted me by name after that. Nothing to complain about here. Grade-A Debarkation-We debarked in San Juan, which would be my first time doing so in San Juan. We were scheduled to meet at 8:45 am in a specified meeting place based on the color of our debarkation tags. We arrived about 5 minutes late and I asked the lady by the door if our color had been called yet. She told me to just walk out the door. We walked right off the ship into the terminal where a waiting porter helped us locate our luggage and secure a taxi to the airport. No problem at all. Grade-A Celebrity hosted, not one, but 2 Cruise Critic parties on this sailing. While this was a nice gesture, I don't even know what the purpose was at the first meeting. When I went to the meet and mingle on the Voyager, the cruise director staff actually hosted the meeting and got the participants actively involved with mingling with each other. They had a trivia contest and gave out some nice prizes. For our first meeting all they did was basically announce that it was a cruise critic meeting and then left us to our own devices. We had an informal meeting of our own the day before at Michael's club, which was much more fun than this. The 2nd meeting was a bit more exciting because the captain of the ship attended and held a sort of question and answer session. He graciously answered our questions regarding the ship, future ships, itineraries, etc and that was appreciated. One other thing I should note really didn't affect me, but is worth mentioning. We had a serious medical emergency on this sailing. I'm told that while enjoying an evening of dancing in the Rendezvous Lounge that one gentleman passenger simply passed out on the dance floor, apparently from a heart attack. They evacuated the lounge and proceeded with emergency life-saving procedures on the man. They even had to use a defibrillator on him to restart his heart. Some of the passengers there at the time said it looked very serious. We heard the next day that the man had been medi-vaced off of the ship during the night. I had the opportunity to speak to the wife of the patient several days later while waiting in line at the buffet. She praised the response of the medical staff very highly. She said they responded very promptly and were very professional and treated her very well during this difficult time. She wasn't able to go with her husband in the helicopter because of limited space and was unable to get a flight to Florida that didn't involve flying all the way back to Newark, NJ then back down to FL. Since her adult son had flown to oversee his father's care until his mother could get there, she stayed on the ship. However, she was just sick and miserable about the situation. She said the staff took care of her and were very concerned about her. They even allowed her to use the ship's phone free of charge every day to call her husband. She did say that he was having surgery and was doing well, thank God. While we don't normally think about these things, it's good to know that we will be in good hands if an emergency does arise. When we first boarded and were eating lunch in the buffet, all we saw boarding were much older passengers. We were wondering if we were going to be in the minority of passengers under the age of 50. Throughout the week we did find some more younger passengers, but the definite majority was definitely over the age of 60, maybe even 70. While I don't care for the party like atmosphere offered on some ships, I do enjoy fun activities while onboard the ship. For that reason I feel RCCL is still the best fit for our family offering a more laid back atmosphere with a nice passenger mix and fun activities. Not to mention beautiful ships. I mentioned in the beginning of this review that I envisioned a high-energy, fun sailaway while on deck. Wouldn't happen. I bundled up and went out on deck, but there were very few others out there with me. No music, not the typical sailaway. I don't know if this because of the time, 6:00, and many folks were at dinner, or if this is the usual for Celebrity. They were also having a sail away party in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth, which is a great lounge which also doubles as the disco. When I didn't see many folks up on deck I figured there would be a lot of people who didn't want to brave the cold at the party. Wrong again. The place was pretty much empty. I don't know where everyone was but I was a bit let down with this less than festive sail away. Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise, one that I wouldn't mind repeating if I was in the mood for a quiet, relaxing vacation and wanted to catch up on some sleep. Overall grade-B I hope this review has been helpful to some of you and feel free to contact me with any questions. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
This website has been a valuable resourse for me. I thought that I would take the time to document my experience with the cruise that we just returned from last week. The biggest complaint that I have is that Celebrity is allowed to ... Read More
This website has been a valuable resourse for me. I thought that I would take the time to document my experience with the cruise that we just returned from last week. The biggest complaint that I have is that Celebrity is allowed to change port destinations AFTER you have booked your cruise. Celebrity changed our schedule to the point that about 20 hours of port time was eliminated including one of the ports. If you can get to London the day before the departure day, I would encourage you to do so. My sister arrived in London on the morning of the cruise. Her plane was delayed 1 1/2 hours from Chicago. Celebrity was suppose to be waiting for her at the airport to transfer her down to Dover. She finally tracked down a Celebrity representative to locate her bus. There was a major accident on the highway to Dover. This again was a major delay. The Celebrity bus arrived 4 MINUTES before the cut off at 4:00 pm of allowing passenger on the ship! A little too close for comfort. It was not Celebrity's fault my sister's plane was late, but planes being delayed is pretty common. Celebrity did not appear to be prepared for this situation. The Celebrity reputation for outstanding service & food is to be applauded. There is a wide variety of food to select from. You have many options to dine. We throughly enjoyed the food at their specialty restaurant, Ocean Liners. Well worth the extra fee of $29.00. The "butterfly presentation" of this dining area is a nice touch. (Butterfly presentation is where the waiters surround the table and present the main course at the same time." I enjoyed the food at the AquaSpa/pool area. This area had a healthier choice of food items. My husband enjoyed the hamburgers in the main pool area. When we ate at the main Dining Room, the food choices were excellent. Shore Excursions - Poland. This is a country that is still struggling to regain their freedom. We saw many areas with graffiti filled buildings. The Constellation only stops here twice a year. I wish that we had gone to the originally planned destination port in Sweden. Russia - Thanks to the past reviews on this website, I found out about Red October. I highly recommend Red October Excursions. You can tailor your tour pretty much anyway you want with them. We had a group of 40. If you have only 2 in your group, they will try to get you with a larger group. Estonia & Finland - Very quaint countries. Enjoyed these ports. It's nice to go on a trip where you do not see a McDonalds or mall at every corner. Stockolm - Enjoyed sailing into the Stockholm area. The Ice Bar is a very commercial gimmick, but fun. I would not recommend the city Celebrity excursion. You spent most of the time stuck in traffic. Norway - Beautiful port, but you do not arrive until 2:30 pm! Enjoyed the Celebrity excursion, but it was a tough to see everything in such a short amount of time. The good news is that it does not get dark until about 10:00 pm in the summer months. Ok, so I have another complaint. We were lucky to have beautiful weather, but the cruise prior to us was cold and rainy. According to rumor, a high percentage of the guest and crew members got sick. Within a few days, a very high percentage of our ship's guests got sick as well. The lines were long everyday in the medical facility. The doctor blamed in on the change in weather. I had to miss our shore excursion to Berlin due to being sick. Also, make sure you call your credit card company to inform them that you will using your credit card in these countries. You also need to bring more than one credit card. Even though we called the credit card company, they still denied us at a restaurant in London. It was a bit embarrassing in front of our group of friends. The same card worked before and after this restaurant experience. Be prepared for sea sickness on the North Sea. This was the first time I have gotten sea sick in three cruises. Several of us got pretty sick when the starting rocking on the North Sea. We were fine once we got into the Baltic Sea. Please do not be an "Ugly American" to the people in these countries! We had a mother and a 20 daughter traveling in our group. The mother was constantly making demands on the tour guide. At the end of the tour, the daughter actually apologized for her mother's behavior! I will say that after spending the day in bed being sick while my husband was gone all day in Berlin, it was a nice surprise to get a phone call from guest services to see if I needed anything since they knew I had not left the room all day. I greatly appreciated their phone call. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
I wanted a top of the line experience and chose Celebrity over a Crystal cruise because I was told they were good with children. I would like to set the record straight on that issue. Yes, there were plenty of nice kids on board. If your ... Read More
I wanted a top of the line experience and chose Celebrity over a Crystal cruise because I was told they were good with children. I would like to set the record straight on that issue. Yes, there were plenty of nice kids on board. If your children are 4-6 they seem to do well with them. I had a 12 year old and and 8 year old with me, both of whom were really excited about the activities that were on the program each day. Both actually went to the Fun Factory to attend and were rejected by the staff for various reasons on several occasions, to the point were they basically gave up by the third day. These are kids who have participated in programs at every hotel we have ever gone to that has one. My eight year old son was treated better by the adult guests on the ship when he wanted to participate in a basketball tournament. The model response at the Fun Factory is "NO." When he asked to play Mancala when the 9 year olds were playing he was told no b/c he was 8. On the last night you could color a t-shirt...he was also told "no." This is the most unwelcoming attitude I have ever seen in any children's program anywhere...even though it sounds very good on paper. As far as the rest of the experience: We stayed in the Royal Suite. The finish was beautiful. lots of nice features, plasma TVs, computer (internet time is 75 cents/minute, which seemed very expensive esp. since the computer was very slow).We had a very nice butler, Carlton from India, who was extremely helpful esp. with unpacking and packing which we greatly appreciated. The room was always very clean. The bed was comfortable for us, but I would probably go for two rooms instead of the suit next time, b/c the queen sleeper sofa was pretty uncomfortable for the kids. Food--too much everywhere and very ordinary quality in the main dining room---sort of like a Sizzler level with better service. (iceberg lettuce, bottle type dressing) Once we figured this out we went to Oceanliners twice...that cost an additional $120/night for the four of us. Excellent service and more gourmet-type food....had to push very, very hard to get a reservation, though and could only get in two nights even though we supposedly were supposed to have some seating preference after paying for the Royal Suite...it didn't seem to help much. The shows were a pleasant surprise. The theater is beautiful..and comfortable. We attended 4/5 shows and they were a great bonus for the kids who were constantly told they couldn't participate in the kids program for various reasons. The material was kind of corny, but there was definitely some talent there and it was fun to go. There was quite a mixture of people on the ship...there were definitely some who made you wonder if Celebrity had given freebies or something. The ports were all fine, except Grenada, where the beach was filled with hagglers non-stop. they also recently suffered a hurricane and the island is devastated, so the beach is basically the only thing to do..we visited St. George's University for a diversion and to escape the unpleasant beach scene. Mark, the shopping advisor gave some advice that I would disagree strongly with...nice guy, seems to have a lot of experience, but he said to purchase things in Barbados and Antigua b/c they need the business more and you would get better deals than St. Thomas...this was not the case for me and I checked on several items...also, the selection in St. Thomas is mind-boggling and is quite limited in the other places. If I had to do it again, I would not have spent one second shopping in the other ports...enjoy the water/beaches and save it all for St. Thomas where you can find anything you want. Excursions- Parasailing in St. Thomas was excellent and felt very safe. Snorkeling in Antigua was from a boat that felt like a bus. The ship was very well organized and they gave you great reading material about the ports every night. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
We took our travel agent's advise and did not use Celebrity's transfer option. We were glad we did. Those who did suffered long waits while we breezed right through. We hadn't cruised on Celebrity for about 4 years and ... Read More
We took our travel agent's advise and did not use Celebrity's transfer option. We were glad we did. Those who did suffered long waits while we breezed right through. We hadn't cruised on Celebrity for about 4 years and noted quite a difference. Service was still good but noticeably indifferent. I suspect that the new "convenience" of allowing tips to be charged to one's account has engendered a feeling of entitlement. Another difference is that one has the feeling of being regarded as a cash cow to be milked at every turn. Food too seems to have taken a downward turn. One night we looked forward to the "canard a l'orange" because it has always been one of our favorites and it turned out to be tough and very lacking in sauce. Inexcusable. That said, the cabin was very nice and always clean and well-maintained. We agree with those who comment that the choice of the Dominican Republic as a destination was a real downer. Seen from Celebrity's viewpoint, it enables them to offer a cheap enhancement of the itinerary because it's so close to San Juan but knowledgeable travelers know there's little of interest there and the fake medieval village of Altos de Chavon, complete with purveyors of fake Cuban cigars, is barely worth the trip. In Grenada we found plenty of cab drivers willing to take us to Annandale Falls, the Grand Etang, and the Spice Market for $15.00 each--or about half Celebrity's price for the same tour. We took Celebrity's tour in Barbados and seemingly traveled every backroad on the island without seeing much. On a previous cruise, we took the bus up the west coast where all the good beaches and lovely homes are and came away much more impressed. Next time we'll try Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
First off, I would like to say that I selected Constellation because I was travelling with an 8 and 12 year old and had heard that this was a good option...More about that later. Embarkation was not glamorous, but was quick and ... Read More
First off, I would like to say that I selected Constellation because I was travelling with an 8 and 12 year old and had heard that this was a good option...More about that later. Embarkation was not glamorous, but was quick and efficient. We chose Celebrity over Crystal b/c we were told by a travel agent that they are better for families. Thus, we afforded ourselves the Royal Suite and still came out significantly better than Crystal's prices. The suite was well-appointed - B & O stereo, 2 large flat-screen TVs, nice woodwork, walk-in closet, nice marble bathroom with a large tub (bring a bungee cord for the bathroom door, tho - a design flaw - it slams all night long). Butler service was helpful and made a nice difference for us in terms of unpacking/ packing, although I will say that at first the butler told us that he could not help us with packing b/c he had too many other suites to help and when we were clearly disappointed and he still had rec'd his tip, I think he thought better of it and decided to help out. I was happy to have the Royal Suite and it worked out well for a family w/ 2 young kids..there was a nice dining area for bkfst room service. I checked out the regular rooms and those were light and bright and we would have been fine in those as well...but if I had to do it again, I would still go for the Royal. Food - San Marco feels like Red Lobster or something of that level. Iceberg lettuce, weak sauces, definitely not a gourmet experience, but passable. Ambiance was okay. We had a very lousy table at first in front of a kitchen entrance. I was surprised that having the Royal Suite gave us no better seating/reservation privileges in any of the dining facilities. Oceanliners IS indeed a fine dining experience, but we were only able to access it twice..would have gone more if we could have. Breakfast was fine everywhere and there were many choices, depending on how much time you wanted to spend. I was surprised that I was impressed by the ship's theater and entertainment. It definitely added to our evenings as we do not go to casinos or cigar bars...the other bars were WAY too smoky for our taste so we didn't go even though we go out to bars at home! Kids -my children had an amazing time. That said there were some issues - The pool is weak. There is NO service around the deck. Very self-serve. I found it sort of unpleasant to be there even though we were on a Caribbean cruise and spent outdoor time on the beaches in the ports. The kids' programs sound great on paper and they have a decent facility, but the staff were EXTREMELY UNWELCOMING, something I have never experienced before in any hotel program or camp. In fact, the people working in the kids program were less friendly than the staff anywhere else on the ship were to my kids, including security!! We heard this from several other families as well. Strangely, it seemed to work out fine for families with kids aged 4-ish, but not for those with kids ages 6-15. I was really shocked. My kids attempted to join in on various activities many times and finally just gave up. They are very out-going kids and have been to loads of similar programs without any problem. When I finally went to speak to the director about this, she asked me to cite all the examples and gave meager excuses and didn't really care much. Her staff looked at her like she was out of her mind hearing her response. You are really on your own. DO NOT count on this program as we had. Anyway, the kids still had lots to do. There is a basketball court and they seemed to love just exploring the ship. The Aquaspa - a well-equipped underutilized facility - the dancers and entertainers were there more than the guests. Massages were okay. They do not offer you a locker to shower which I found odd and unhygienic. I inquired and they said that most of their guests did not wish to shower and they washed their hands. Yuck!! Ports - We enjoyed a great evening show in the Dominican Republic. Grenada was not great - too many hagglers on the beach. I wanted to pay them to leave us alone. Barbados - we arranged to go to the Sandy Lane Hotel for the day. this was a great choice. We had seen the caves on a previous trip. the shopping in Barbados is a completely unattractive waste of time. (Speaking of which, I did not find the info. that I got from Celebrity's shopping consultant to be very accurate - He encouraged time spent shopping in Antigua and Barbados - the selection and quality in St. Thomas are far superior, so it was really a waste of time to do any shopping in the other areas, far better to enjoy the beaches/sights. San Juan - go to the Old City Be careful about excursions. On our parasailing trip we paid extra for a role of film taken by the crew. When we got home it was empty. So disappointing to the kids who wanted to remember the experience with photos. One diving excursion had a boat that was more like a bus. When I saw it, I just couldn't bring myself to get on it. I am happy to have a place to write a review. Celebrity is NOT interested in any feedback. I found that strange. They told me to write a letter and they would respond in three weeks?! All in all, we had a great time and enjoyed our first cruise. If you are a sophisticated traveler, you will often feel like a tacky tourist and foolish on a cruise. It is definitely travel for the masses. You will not have individual or unique experiences, but if you laugh at all of that you can still have a good time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Food was generally just okay, certainly not outstanding, stay away from the buffets in Seaside Cafe. Both breakfast and lunch were rotten. Breakfast meats were brown! Main dining room decent but not amazing. Caribbean and fruit midnight ... Read More
Food was generally just okay, certainly not outstanding, stay away from the buffets in Seaside Cafe. Both breakfast and lunch were rotten. Breakfast meats were brown! Main dining room decent but not amazing. Caribbean and fruit midnight buffets were not worth staying up for. The one bright spot was the Grand Midnight Buffet on the second to last night, and the Oceanliners specialty restaurant. Both outstanding. Entertainment tedious and boring. Seems like the band Onyx played the same songs over and over again and most of the shows were a bit boring and the same as last year, according to frequent cruisers I traveled with. Service was okay, not "amazing" like I had heard. Mostly what I would expect at any restaurant but not over the top by any means. Felt like i got nickle and dimed especially with Internet access. No wonder the Internet cafe was deserted at all times. Cirque was dopey and certainly not worth the price of the plastic overpriced mask. Persian Gardens not worth the $30.00 day pass, considering you had a free sauna in the ladies and mens locker rooms in the spa and you had to leave the area to get into a Jacuzzi. Itinerary was cool. Liked every island. Shore excursions were fun particularly BOB underwater in St. Thomas. Recommend Catalina Beach in Casa de Campo. A paradise. Did not enjoy the 11:00 p.m. sailaway from San Juan. Couldn't see a darned thing. Don't miss Suni mixing martini's and coffee in Cova Cafe. Also, be sure to visit Oceanliners and the T-pool and Jacuzzis. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
I want to start this review by letting you know that I am a middle-age woman that traveled with my husband, 25 year old son and a friend of his. We have been on about 14 cruises with several of them being on Celebrity. We are ... Read More
I want to start this review by letting you know that I am a middle-age woman that traveled with my husband, 25 year old son and a friend of his. We have been on about 14 cruises with several of them being on Celebrity. We are Captain's Club members. This cruise was the Captain's Club Reunion Cruise along with the maiden voyage of Cirque du Soliel. For these reasons, I was very excited to be on this cruise. My expectations were high that I was going to have the magic of Cirque, along with the excellence of Celebrity. I thought, how could we go wrong. Well, I have to honestly say, it was not that great. I am not going to take you on a daily schedule of the cruise. I feel that has already been stated many times. I do want to mention about the Cirque Du Soliel "Experience." Yes, it is an Experience and not a show. If you expect a show, you will be very disappointed. The disco has been transformed into "The Bar and the Edge of the Earth." The look of it, well it looks like the TV show "Trading Spaces" came in and decorated it. They have slipcovered the chairs in white, they have lots of material hanging from the ceilings. They have made tents in the back with lounges in them. The cocktail waiters, well it was obvious that they did not know what they were doing. I had a frozen drink dumped in my lap and on the others in my group. He gave me a few small napkins to clean up and gave me a free drink. The rest of the group was charged for theirs even though the orders were wrong and they had stuff on them too. That was bad service. After a major complaint by my husband, we did get our clothes laundered for free. The "experience" was like a bad technical rehearsal. I just was not impressed. We did go to the Masquerade Ball. Yes, we paid the $30 per person and really looked forward to something magical from this. Well, it was the same "experience" we had for free two nights before. (This time no drink on me however.) The only difference at all was that everyone had on masks and dressed in white. I had read in another review that no one was talking about the "experience" on board afterward. I do not know where that person was, because we heard a lot of people complaining on how bad it was, After being part of a focus group about it, Celebrity and Cirque did make changes on the last night. It was a lot more fun with better music and more interaction with the characters. We did get a refund on the Masquerade Ball. I also want to bring up one other thing. I had terrible service in the main dining room (San Marco). Our waiter never introduced himself, and never talked except to apologize when he got the order wrong (that happened a lot). We only ate in the San Marco three nights because the service was so bad. One example of this service was with any Celebrity cruise waiter, they start the night with an explanation of the menu. What we received was, "Good evening, what do you want." We had to ask the maitre 'd to refill our water glasses because the assistant waiter or the main waiter just did not do it. We later found out from our table mates, that the assistant waiter was very unhappy with his job and he wanted off of the ship. He actually told them this. This does not say much for Celebrity. We did eat at the Sushi bar a lot at night. It was great.  Our favorite place to enjoy a sunset was at the bar on the stern of the ship(Seaside Grill). That is where Happy Hour was and we enjoyed Pablo singing every night there. The Seaside Grill by the pool was also very good for hamburgers and pizza. I have to also compliment the activities staff. Tommy, Paul and Renata were great. My group loves trivia, and we had a lot of fun in the competitions. The other entertainment was great also. I was so impressed with the quality of shows onboard. I highly recommend the Aquaspa. I had a hot stone massage that was absolutely best. I also got a haircut and manicure. The services were excellent. One benefit to being a Captain's Club member, you get coupons for discounts on spa services. The staff were wonderful. Overall, I had a good cruise. It was not the excellent cruise that Celebrity is famous for. I had hoped with all of the heads of Celebrity on board, that services would be top notch, but it was not. I was disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We are 46/52, no children and have cruised twice before on RCI (Sovereign 9/02 and Rhapsody 8/03). We booked through an internet agency about 2 months prior to sailing. ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We are 46/52, no children and have cruised twice before on RCI (Sovereign 9/02 and Rhapsody 8/03). We booked through an internet agency about 2 months prior to sailing. We arrived in San Juan the night before and stayed in a hotel in the Condado area. We walked around and went into the Marriott hotel for a drink and played in the casino for about 20 minutes. We then ate dinner at a local restaurant prior to heading back to our hotel. I felt comfortable even though it was about 1:00 a.m. but then a middle aged man walked up and walked with us to the hotel, stating it was not safe to be walking alone. Next day, took a taxi to the ship and boarded about 12:30. Boarding was quick and efficient and we were taken to our cabin by a white-gloved butler while shipping champagne -- nice touch!! Cabin was nice, plenty of storage, clean and comfortable. We stowed our carry ons and went to the buffet for a bite to eat. Came back and met our steward (D'Cunha) who was pleasant and helpful throughout our trip. We then got off the ship and took a taxi into Old San Juan where we toured the fort and bought some sodas/water/wine to take on board. Got back about 5 p.m., unpacked and got settled prior to meeting our Cruise Critic buddies in the Martini bar where we hung out until going to dinner at 8:00. First port was Casa de Campo and we took the free shuttle to the Altos de Chevon area where we walked around and looked at the buildings, shops and restaurants and had a couple of drinks before heading back. We enjoyed this but I can see how it would not be that exciting for everyone. Next day at sea was a revelation -- we went out to the pool area after breakfast and I can best describe the scene as "Saturday at Wal-Mart" -- numerous screaming kids running around eating hot dogs and huge crowds in the hot tubs/pool. There was no place to sit and after about 15 minutes we returned to our cabin. Never went to the pool again. Seems Puerto Rican school was already out and the ship had a very large number of families on board. We also learned that some new passengers boarded in the Dominican Republic to fill the cabins. I know everyone has their own standards of behavior but I was stunned by the amount of rude/pushy behavior and being spoken to repeatedly in loud Spanish that did not sound friendly. Next port was Dominica -- a beautiful island to look at as the ship is pulling in. I took a tour with 13 other Cruise Critic members and it was great. The attractions were quite crowded but I enjoyed the exercise. The waterfall area was like the ship -- loud/pushy people who apparently did not learn the concept of "taking turns" when they were children. My husband went on a scuba dive which he really enjoyed. On return to ship, was smashed in elevator by an older woman with a stroller full of packages which she was using to block the elevator to let only her "posse" on board -- I was right by the door and had no choice but to push in behind her while she was loudly cursing at me in Spanish. Went to the outdoor food area to get a snack and there were about 40 people in line for the hamburger/hot dog area so went back to the cabin and ordered room service, which we did several times for afternoon snacks. Next day (Barbados) was the highlight of our trip. Had read about the local bus service so we found the terminal and took a 45 minute ride to Mullens Beach. Driving (quite speedily) through this gorgeous place while listening to Reggae Christmas music was great!! The beach was beautiful -- white sand/turquoise water/very few people -- and we stayed about 2 1/2 hours prior to catching the bus back to town. Met 3 people from England (from the Queen Mary) on the bus who were fun to talk to. The total for the round trip ride for 2 was $3.00 -- I still smile when I think of this day. In Antigua and St. Thomas, we basically walked around and shopped. I did have some luck in the King's Casino in Antigua and promptly invested my money in some jewelry. We took a taxi to Magen's Bay in St. Thomas which was very nice but fairly crowded. We enjoyed the comedian and illusionist on the ship and saw the production type show one night which was fairly good. Spent about an hour at the "Bar at the Edge" which was interesting -- you kind of mingle with the characters. However, there were a lot of children and picture taking which surprised me. Celebrity also hosted a Honeymoon and Anniversary Party there during the day which was really nice. We also enjoyed the pianist/singer and the jazz band in Michael's Club and Pablo on the back deck during sailaways. We also found that the Thalassotherapy pool was practically deserted by 6:00 p.m. and had some nice soaks/tubs prior to getting ready for dinner (we had late seating). No complaints about the food, service seemed rushed and perfunctory compared to our other 2 cruises and the Muzak in our area of the dining room was very loud. We did ask our waiter if it could be turned down but apparently it couldn't. We had a table for 10 and enjoyed our tablemates. We did meet 2 different couples who told us they were the only English speaking people at their assigned tables for 8 to 10. When we returned to San Juan we were not assigned to disembark until 10:30 since our flight did not leave until 5:00 p.m. We slept in and then went for a leisurely breakfast and bought a couple of pictures from the gallery. We got back to the cabin about 9:00 and were gathering up the last of our things and packing the carry-ons. Our steward knocked on the door about 9:20 and was horrified to find us in the cabin, explaining that we were supposed to be out by 8:30. I did look at the paper with the disembarkation time and this was not mentioned. Anyway, we left as quickly as we could and went to sit in the show room until our color was called. We then got a porter who helped us with our bags and had us in a cab within 5 minutes!! We went to the airport and checked our bags, then cabbed to the Hotel Intercontinental for a few hours to hang out (drink and gamble) before our flight. This is a beautiful hotel in a beautiful area. All in all, we enjoyed our trip and the ship but did not find it in any way superior to the previous ones -- I had perceived Celebrity as a "premium" cruise line which in my opinion it is not. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We arrived on the red-eye flight from LA and they did not provide a bus until well after noon; wish they would not keep you sitting in the airport so long. Holland-America is much better about this. After waiting a while to be processed ... Read More
We arrived on the red-eye flight from LA and they did not provide a bus until well after noon; wish they would not keep you sitting in the airport so long. Holland-America is much better about this. After waiting a while to be processed for boarding, we found we had been upgraded from a cat 1A to a 'sky suite'. This is NOT a true suite by any standard, but is a nice stateroom that we estimated at about 270 square feet plus a nice verandah; very comfortable; and the closet space was actually adequate (the cat 2c cabin we had before on a sister ship had a two tiny closets; this seems to be a weak point on Celebrity in general). If I was paying top dollar for a suite, I would be disappointed in this non-suite, but as a free upgrade, who can complain? The food and service on board was generally quite good, although we had some veal one night that tasted fairly good but had the texture of a Michelin truck tire. Very few decent wine selections are available for under 40 dollars; on our previous cruises on H-A there were many many excellent wines for $25-40 per bottle. Celebrity really seems to gouge on the wine markup; far beyond the mark up in most fine restaurants and other cruise lines. I frankly think they would do better business if they were not so greedy. Paying $50 for a wine that costs $10-12 retail is a bit much. The entertainment in the show lounge was excellent. We were very disappointed, however (along with 100 or more other passengers), on the night when they advertised a 50's dance night at 11:30 up in the forward lounge and the band had still not showed up after midnight. We finally left at 12:15. We never received any explanation at any time on the cruise; I think an apology was to be expected, at the very least. Also a projectionist did not show up for a movie one night until we complained at the front desk, and then they showed up, started the movie, and ran away to let it run badly out of focus for the whole movie. The person who is supposed to be in charge is obviously not on top of things. The ship decor was very nice everywhere and facilities were generally excellent. We enjoyed the shore excursions, particularly Isla de Margarita, St. Lucia and to St. John. Strongly recommend the one on Isla de Margarita where they take you on a boat trip in a Mangrove swamp area with extensive wildlife viewing, along with a visit to a botanical garden and general island tour. The gym was very nice, and never seemed to be particularly crowded. I always found a treadmill available when I went there. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise very much. There were some annoyances, as mentioned, but we did not let them spoil our trip. We are going on Constellation again this summer and hope to run into fewer glitches. F. Martin 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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