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We were a group of 11 family members traveling including 4 children under 6. The grandparents (early 60s) had recently been on Silversea as well as the RCI Monarch. My husband and I (late 30s to 40) were on the Infinity Southern Caribbean ... Read More
We were a group of 11 family members traveling including 4 children under 6. The grandparents (early 60s) had recently been on Silversea as well as the RCI Monarch. My husband and I (late 30s to 40) were on the Infinity Southern Caribbean in March 2002 without kids, and on the RCI Explorer of the Seas in July 2002 with kids. The others (32-35) had not cruised recently. Most of us live in the Philadelphia area and we are used to going out to fine restaurants (more of the newer, trendy type) and going to shows in both New York and Philadelphia. We would have been very disappointed with food that was just ordinary or banquet food. Because the ship is moving to Europe for the next 6 months, I will not say much about the ports we visited in this review. Embarkation: I can sum it up in one word: HASSLE. The Constellation moved from the Pan American pier to the pier at Old San Juan. As a result the taxis drop passengers off with their bags at the sidewalk and it is up to the passengers to get the luggage to the "gate" themselves where they have to show ID and have a porter take the luggage. Porters do not come through the gate to help you get the bags from the sidewalk to the gate like they do at the Pan American pier, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, or virtually every other cruise ship embarkation port. Given that we were a group of 11 traveling with young kids this was very difficult for us. Fellow passengers were shoving so getting through the line was not easy and the officials in San Juan exercised no line control. When I finally got to the front of the line to get my ID checked, I stood there, literally blocking my fellow shoving passengers, while the men in our party handed me the luggage one-by-one which I pushed through the gate so a porter could take them. Other passengers in the meantime pushed their way in front of the rest of the party so we had to wait for the others to work their way through the line to show their ID. I don't know who was responsible for this mess but it was disgraceful. Once we finally got to the terminal, the agents checking people in were the slowest I ever experienced, even though we had filled out the online passenger information, and though we were all Captain's Club. After we finally checked in, we went to a table where we registered the kids for the fun factory, and got information on the program. From then on, getting to the ship was a breeze, though they routed us so we had to walk past every shop in the terminal (this is the long way around the terminal). Once onboard, we were met by friendly staff offering champagne and orange juice and 2 people escorted us to our 4 cabins. Passengers: This is one area in which the cruise differed substantially than the Infinity cruise the year before. First there were between 450-500 children aboard as it was a holiday week. Second, I would say 50% of the guests were from Puerto Rico. Often it was difficult to find fellow passengers who were not speaking Spanish. Most announcements were still in English though in some shows they also did announcements in Spanish. Some of the staff told us that the bars were not as busy this week as usual, and the golf pro said not as many people signed up for golf outings as usual. The kids were generally happy and well behaved though there was the "too frequent" annoyance of getting on the elevator to find all of the buttons had been pushed. I noticed this more toward the end of the week. Also, I did notice one night a lot of teens hanging out on the 11th deck outside the tower, many of whom were smoking or drinking. They all seemed to be Puerto Rican as they were speaking Spanish. There were also a lot of uniformed security officers walking around frequently, but I did not notice them do anything about the drinking teens. To be honest, they weren't loud, unruly or bothersome so maybe security left them alone. One of the guards told us they were with a private company hired by Celebrity to "patrol" public areas whenever there are a lot of kids on board. Cabins: My husband, myself and one child were in cabin 7045 (cat 2B) connecting with cabin 7047 with my parents and my other child. Our cabin steward was Benedito and he was one of the kindest, most gracious people I have ever met. The cabins were clean and everything was in working order. They were decorated in a pale green motif with lots of wood trim. The minibar is in a cabinet built into the wall with the TV and another cabinet above it. If you want access to the minibar you have to ask the cabin steward to unlock it. The pull out sofas are big enough for one small child only. I can't imagine a teenager or adult sleeping on them comfortably. Also cabin 7045 is slightly bigger than 7047. With the pull-out sofa extended there is about 1 foot of space between the bed and the desk in 7045 to get through to the balcony. In 7047 there is no space when the bed is extended so you literally have to crawl over the bed to get to the balcony. We tried to move the bed back but could not. Also the king sized bed in 7045 was slightly longer as it curved out in the front, while in 7047 it was square. With the doors closed we could hear people in the connecting cabin. However, we could not hear people on the other side of us and, they reported to me that they could not hear us (which is good because my kids were not always quiet). We had plenty of storage space for everything and were able to keep the cabin fairly neat. The balconies seemed to me to be the same size as the cat 1B I had on Infinity, and the Cat 9 I had on Explorer. There are frosted glass partitions between cabins on the balconies and if you lean forward you can see into the stateroom of the people next to you. My brother and his family were in Cat 9 cabin 7055 (inside). They had 2 bunk beds that came down out of the ceiling, and you could not see them when they were up. They had the same amount of storage that we had, though the room was laid out differently. My brother reported that the bunks were comfortable. He is 6 ft. 1 inch tall and slept comfortably in the bunk a few times while his younger children slept in the bed. My sister had an inside cabin by herself and it connected to the cabin next to hers. She observed some noise from the adjoining cabin. Room service: We did get room service a few times and it never took more than 10 minutes. It was usually delivered by Zifka (spelling) from Bulgaria. She was also an in-room babysitter and watched the kids for us one night while they slept, and watched my brother's kids for them 4 nights. Another Bulgarian lady in housekeeping, Pavlina, stayed with our kids while they slept a couple of nights. We were pleased with both ladies and felt comfortable with both. San Marco restaurant/Food: We found the food to be very good to excellent. My parents reported terrible service at breakfast on Sunday morning in the main dining room. I ate there Friday with the kids and service could not have been better. For dinner when we arrived Saturday we discovered they messed up our table assignments and split our party up so that our tables were not even on the same level. This was rectified and the next day we were all put at 1 table by the window on deck 5. Our waiter Neels from South Africa, was the most exuberant person I met on the ship. He is young, attractive, tried very hard to please, and was a lot of fun. Our assistant waiter "Mr. Z" (we could not say his name and he did not talk much) was the hardest working person I observed on the ship. Between the 2 of them we had excellent service. Of all the meals, the only one I did not care for was the duck (it was well-prepared, I just did not like it). The leg of lamb was terrific (contrary to previous reports about it being tough and inedible), the rack of lamb was as good as any I have ever had in fine restaurants, and beef dishes and all fish dishes were excellent. The spinach salad the first night is my favorite, but all salads and soups were superb. I thought it was a very nice touch that they have a different children's menu every night (though you could always order the "usual stuff:) - RCI had the same kids' menu every night. My kids loved all the food, but my kids are not picky eaters. My nephews are picky eaters and there was plenty to please them. Some nights my kids even ate from the adult menu. And some nights, we adults ordered some items from the kids menu. If you are a fan of creamed corn or macaroni and cheese, ask your waiter to bring you some when they are on the kids menu. They were both TO DIE FOR. The creamed corn was so good we placed a special order for it later in the cruise. It is not on the adult menu. We also experienced terrific service from our sommelier Bruno, and our drink waitress Vesta. Vesta was only too happy to get me my soda every night even though I purchased the sticker. Seaside Cafe: We were very impressed with both the quality of the food and service in the buffet. In the morning, even after you got your breakfast, servers came around offering coffee, and others came around with trays of pastries, just like they do in the dining room. They did have waiters helping to carry trays but more often than not I ended up carrying my own, even if I was trying to manage the kids at the same time. The food at lunch was very good, and they always had a pizza station at the aft starboard side, as well as a "made to order" pasta station at the aft port side. In the aft section of the cafe they had soups, salads and sandwiches. This section was open later than the main buffet. We never ate there for dinner. My husband and sister-in-law went up for sushi one night which was set up in the same place as the pasta station at lunch. They announced they did not enjoy the sushi because the rice was cold. They never went back. I did enjoy the "afternoon tea" set up in the Seaside. The tea sandwiches are something they did not have on Explorer and I really enjoyed them. Soft Drinks: We purchased the soda sticker but we noticed the water on the ship tasted funny. As a result, all fountain drinks tasted funny, especially at the beginning of the cruise. My sister says she would not get the sticker again because she hated the taste of the drinks. Ocean Liners: As we enjoyed ourselves in San Marco so much we ended up canceling our reservation. Pool and chairs: I did notice people having trouble finding chairs around the pool on the sea day if they did not get out early. Because my kids are early risers, we were always out early and had no problem getting padded chairs around the pool in around the same location. People were not very aggressive and I did not notice excessive hogging like I did on RCI. The smaller pool at one point was so crowded with children that it was not possible to get in it. The kids all seemed well behaved however. Bars: We found the bar service by the pool to be exceptionally slow during the day. Our favorite bar became the Martini Bar, which was run by the infamous Sudi and his side-kick Kirk (aka Tom Cruise). We had such a good time with them. They were truthfully some of the best entertainment we had on the ship. I highly recommend that anyone cruising on a ship in which Sudi is working to look him up. Not only does he make a fabulous drink but his charm and "magic" are engaging. Whenever he saw one of us, he never failed to ask where "the rest of the family" was. One night when my husband and I "snuck away" from our family in the Rendezvous Lounge, Sudi made our martinis for us then told us to go back downstairs to the Rendezvous, where he would bring our drinks. A few minutes later he showed up with our drinks, socialized with my family, and even teased my sister because she was not drinking a martini. Entertainment: This is still Celebrity's weak point. There is a dearth of entertainment between the end of the first dinner seating and the end of the second dinner seating, except for the "headliner" shows. Because the main entertainment seems to be squeezed into the time after second dinner seating, I think guests at that seating might think there is more entertainment on the ship. Truthfully, I prefer second seating but because of our children we could not do it this time. We thought the duo in the Rendevous Lounge, Karen &Carl, were just awful. Everyone in our party felt they were like a "Saturday Night Live" skit where they make fun of lounge singers. But this couple was serious. My parents went to most of the main shows and thought they were all very good. We went to the comedian (Cary Long) /magic show (Gossamer Magic) and thought it was excellent, particularly Cary Long. Musical reviews are not our thing so we avoided them ourselves. We enjoyed the guitarist who played outside the Seaside Cafe on deck 10, Cory Heydon in the evenings, but he was pretty mellow. We enjoyed the piano player in Michael's Lounge, Jim Brookhart, but he was also mellow. I was desperately hoping for some sort of funny, entertaining piano lounge act like Matt Yee on the Explorer. Sometimes in the evening we wanted to laugh and have a more raucous, and not mellow time earlier in the evening. I think if they moved some of the more "fun" entertainment to an earlier time slot, people might stay up later. The mellow entertainment just made us sleepy. We did enjoy the sock hop one night, and the activities staff did a great job getting everyone involved. We also enjoyed the "Not so Newlywed Game" which was moved to 11:15 in the evening (it was around dinner hour on the Infinity). I was disappointed that they no longer have the Caribbean night on the pool deck on Wednesday - it is Saturday while sailing out of San Juan. After that, there is never anything going on at the pool deck at night for the rest of the cruise. We did go to the Casino. I had said the casino on the Infinity was the nicest casino I had ever seen on a ship because of the way it was laid out. It was much nicer than the one on the Explorer which held 1500 more passengers. The Constellation is virtually the same. My parents agreed it is a much nicer casino than what they experienced on any other ship. Fun Factory: Because of all of the children on this sailing, Celebrity ran the full, 4 tier program. My kids were in the youngest group, the Shipmates. Celebrity definitely has the most underrated children's program out of the major cruise lines. As compared to the Explorer, the facility seemed much larger, with a huge ball pit and double decker twisting slide in the facility. The ship does not have a water slide like the Explorer. Also, they do not even fill the small baby pool in the play area except on the day at sea. They also had a large, circular room for drawing and coloring. The bathrooms were also much cleaner than the ones on Explorer. The activities were similar to the ones on the Explorer, except that throughout the week they had several activities that were "family" activities - ie. parents could (were expected to?) come. These were the talent show, karaoke, bingo, Caribbean party night (for the kids not adults), and the final night when they showed the kids cruise in review at the cinema. We went to all of the events if my kids were going to be there - many parents did not go. To tell the truth, it became a pain, there was really not enough room for all of the kids plus their parents at some activities (notably karaoke and the Caribbean party which were in the tower), and to be at the kids activities we missed out on some adult activities (like the Captain's Club reception). As a pleasant surprise, the Fun Factory was open Saturday evening - the night of embarkation. They even had the slumber party that night. You just had to pick up the kids prior to the muster drill. Explorer did not offer this notwithstanding it was a holiday week. The Fun Factory also offered a complementary children's dinner pizza party every night of the cruise - not just on the formal nights. We allowed the kids to go twice, though they would have liked to go every night. I liked most of the counselors except one. That one told me one of my daughters had been crying "all day" (it was evening when she told me that and they had only been there a few hours that day - and my daughter does not usually cry "all day"), and that they tried to reach me but could not. When I checked with another counselor, Lilli, I was told she had not been crying and they never had to call me. Not sure if the other counselor confused me with another kid's mother, but I could not figure out her problem. Also BIG DRAWBACK: Constellation does not have pagers for parents like they do on Explorer. It was a little disconcerting to know that in case of an emergency I could not be reached easily. Celebrity invested so much in a nice children's facility, they should have the pagers. My kids announced they liked the Fun Factory better than the kids club on the Explorer but then, at this age, they live for the moment. Enhancements: We really loved the chilled towels at poolside and when boarding the ship in ports. I also enjoyed the sorbet (only came around with it on the sea day) and the lemonade (only saw that when I was by the pool while docked in St. Thomas). I never noticed pool side massages or fashion shows. We never went to the topless deck but I know where it is and it is a very remote location. We did enjoy the late night bites on 2 occasions. The rest of the nights we were not up when they came around. Spa: All of the women in our group but me had treatments in the spa and all reported that they LOVED them. All had massages. My mother also had a facial and my sister had a wrap. They indicated there was no pressure to buy products at the end of the treatments. Disembarkation: It was very orderly. We had beige tags (for Captain's Club Founder Members) and were the first major color called off the ship, after the people with much too early flights. Instead of having general announcements, they give you a letter telling you where to report and what time based on your color. Beige reported to the Celebrity Theater at 8 am. Other colors reported to other places at later times. Once assembled there, one of the activities staff was there to tell us when to go, and to escort us off the ship. Disembarkation in the terminal was much better than embarkation. Porters were readily available, and the luggage was lined up in a neat an orderly fashion. Porters then took us right through customs and then out to the curb to get us a taxi. Very easy. Summary: I would not hesitate to recommend the Constellation, but it is not for everyone. I would not recommend it to someone who is looking for nonstop wild entertainment. Even at its best, the entertainment is never wild. A Puerto Rican lady in our next door cabin told me her family has taken the RCI Radiance before and liked it better because there was more of a "party" atmosphere. Her elderly mother remarked "A harpist! Am I dead?" I do believe people with late seating would find the entertainment more acceptable. o2bmmw@hotmail.com July 2003 Read Less
My wife and I had the pleasure of sailing on the Celebrity Constellation on a 10 day Western Mediterranean Cruise that started on October 4, 2002, in Barcelona. There had been very few reviews of the Constellation - in fact, the Cruise ... Read More
My wife and I had the pleasure of sailing on the Celebrity Constellation on a 10 day Western Mediterranean Cruise that started on October 4, 2002, in Barcelona. There had been very few reviews of the Constellation - in fact, the Cruise Critic's own review was only posted a couple of weeks before we sailed, so I thought I would share my thoughts about this beautiful ship. The Constellation is Celebrity's most recent ship - the 4th and probably last of the so-called Millennium Class ships (named after the first of them). The ship is new this year, and after 6 months of sailing European waters, it still looked fresh and new. The Ship's Appearance The outside of the ship is very classy - simple colors of blue, white and teak with little ornamentation. Most of the rooms have verandahs, although there are plenty of simple ocean view and inside cabins. The basic cabins are not huge, but are well laid out, with either 2 twin beds or a king, a small sitting area, large mirror and plenty of storage. The interior design of most of the rooms is very tropical, with oranges and lime greens predominating. The bath shower seemed a tad more spacious than the Century class, and it was definitely the best shower I have ever had at sea - plenty hot, and plenty powerful. We had a Cat 1B aft cabin which had a spectacularly large balcony - something like 17x9, or almost as large as our room. On the 8th floor, most of the balcony was very private. We entertained new friends a couple of times and spent many a late evening on the deck. This was no more money than a regular 1B, so search these out as they are quite incredible. Service We had marvelous service from our cabin steward "Freddy" from the Philippines. He might as well have been our butler. In fact, we had better service from him than we had from a "real" butler on the Galaxy earlier this year. He brought us breakfast, including fresh omeletes and homemade croissants. When we had guests over, he brought over extra wine glasses, cheese, fruit and cracker plates, a tablecloth for the table on the deck - you name it, he would get it for you, with a smile and enthusiasm. Basically, I thought this was a whole lot better than a Sky Suite when factoring in that we don't take baths and our balcony was 3 times the size of the Sky Suites - and it was roughly $1,000 less!! Drinking and Dining The ship is layed out pretty much like every other Celebrity ship - so if you have sailed the Horizon, Century or Galaxy you will feel right at home. It's just a whole lot roomier. For those of you who are nonsmokers, it even has one of the few completely non-smoking bars at sea. The Martini Bar, starboard on deck 5, not only makes the largest and best Martinis anywhere - land or sea - but is completely smoke free. Most of the Cova Caffe Milano is also smoke free, due to its layout mostly being starboard also. The main dining room is the Marco Polo. It is very spacious and well laid out with classy but not ostentatious decorating. The food was the best we have ever had on a cruise. Celebrity is known for its food being a cut above, but many comments on the boards and other reviews have been less complementary of the food recently. Our experience was just the opposite - the food was better than ever!! Steaks and chops were cooked perfectly - from medium rare to well done - however you liked it. I had wonderful lamb chops - thick and juicy and rare, with a wonderful sauce that made you totally forget about even asking for mint jelly. And the veal steaks we had one evening were some of the best we have had anywhere - including some pretty ritzy places in the States. Even the pastas - usually not one of the mainstays, were cooked just al-dente, and the sauces were not too overpowering. The only weakness was the shrimp cocktails on "lobster" night - they were mealy and tasteless. But the lobsters were fantastic - huge and meaty and flavorful. And (if you were nice) you could have more than one!!! I must make a special comment about the soups and appetizers, which continue to amaze. Even if you are not a fan of cream or cold soups, you have got to try some on the Constellation! We had dinner one night at the specialty restaurant, Ocean Liners. The service was quite simply over the top. My wife was even escorted to the rest room. The food was excellent, but really, not a whole lot better than what was being served nightly in the main restaurant. I'd say it is worth the extra $25 per person for no more than one night of the cruise. I think for this to truly catch on, the food choices need to be more dramatically different than what is available elsewhere on the ship. The Seaside Cafe is the buffet restaurant on the pool deck. When fully operational, it has something like 6 separate buffet lines, not including the specialty islands (omeletes and eggs how you like them in the morning - pastas in the afternoons). We only ate there a couple of times since we loved having breakfast on our balcony, and the itinerary was very port intensive. Our criticism would be the hours for lunch are a bit short - there were a couple of days when we could have used a bite, say around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and it was already closed. Still, pizza time started at 4 and it was pretty marvelous pizza. The burgers were pretty blah, but wait it out for the turkey burgers - sometimes a 15 minute wait, and you will get a sandwich worth eating. We are wine drinkers, and part of the pleasure of a European cruise is picking up some nice bottles on shore and bringing them to dinner. The corkage fee was $12 - a tad high, but worth it with some of the great prices we found for exceptional wine - especially in Barcelona. But I have to admit the wine list has improved dramatically since my first cruise with Celebrity 4 years ago. Not only are the prices more reasonable - good bottles can be had for $18 - $38, but the variety of European wines was excellent. The wine list in Ocean Liners is even more extensive - and expensive - and the corkage fee there was $15 - but they did decant our 97 Grand Cru Bordeaux (which probably didn't need it, but it was good theater). Entertainment We are not big entertainment goers, but the feedback from the friends we made on the ship was that except for the classical artists, who were quite good, the rest of the entertainment was average at best - not up to Royal Caribbean or Princess standards. I will attest that the classical musicians were quite good - and they played all over the ship - from dinner in both restaurants, to the Cova Caffe Milano, to Michaels - the soon to be forgotten cigar club. That's right - the classiest cigar bars afloat are soon going the way of smoking sections in Los Angeles restaurants - to be no more. And this Michaels was as beautiful as the one on the Century - everyone's favorite. But, it was not very well used, even on an European cruise where the demographics would tend to favor cigar smokers. I was told by the very nice hostess from Lithuania that it will be converted to a piano bar sometime in the next 6 months. The nightclub - Reflections - on deck 11 forward was huge and loud and quite busy most nights after midnight. So, if you like to dance away your calories, this was definitely the place. The DJ is hidden at the bar, so you need to go play hide and seek to make requests. For the most part hip hop and 70's disco were king, although there was also a 50's-60's night. Good old rock and roll - well, it seems no one really dances to that any more, I guess. Oh well... Pool Deck Area The outdoor pool area was very large, with two pools - a wading pool and a lap pool with very comfortable temps. There were also plenty of Jacuzzi's. On this cruise, mostly because it was so port intensive, it was never crowded. On a full ship in the Caribbean, I'm sure it will be surrounded. Another good reason to have that large aft balcony just a hop, skip and jump away!! The Thalassotherapy pool pretty much acts like an indoor pool on this ship. After awhile the jets on the head and the metal bars get to be a little annoying. Still, it was refreshing, and since our one full sea day had real skittish weather, it got plenty of use. Lots of chairs with wonderful views - and even its own, quasi healthy food bar. The spa was huge and overrun with the usual gamut of young British women all trying to sell you something you really don't need. But it sounds so good.... My wife did get her hair done, some shade she has never seen in the States, but hey - it was Europe, and she looked great!! For those of you who believe you must continue to exercise while on vacation, the workout room was humongous, with a zillion machines of every persuasion and great views out the front of the ship to keep you motivated. Rarely any waiting. Art etc. Another Celebrity novelty, if you will, is the modern art throughout its ships. While I am still most fond of the art on the Century, I have to admit the statues on the Constellation were quite wonderful. Check out King Kong on deck 11 and the young man looking oh so forlorn in Reflections. Then there is red and black man, enjoying a drink with you in the Champagne bar. There are numerous other examples. But it does help make for an even more imaginative cruise experience. Speaking of imaginative... While not quite "Borders" at sea, the Constellation does have a music bar, called "Notes" where you can sit at a computer, and after 5 or 10 minutes of moderate frustration, actually listen to some music while sitting in quite comfortable chairs. Open 24 hours, it's a nice place to take that book you checked out from their library - I got a relatively new historical novel by David Nevin called "Treason" - and spend some quiet time. Oh, but then the balcony beckons... The ship also has a relatively large computer room, which never seemed very busy - probably because they charged 50 cents per minute. On shore, we rarely paid more than $2.00 for a half hour at one of the numerous Internet cafes. People we spoke with who used the computer service said it was agonizingly slow, and cost anywhere from $5 to $20 to read and send a few emails. Good place to run some spreadsheets or type out a few letters, though. And they did run computer classes on "Word" and "Excel" if you think cruising is supposed to be a school-like experience. We don't gamble, but the casino was plenty large and plenty busy when at sea. We actually met some people who claimed to have won. Well, who am I to doubt them? Excursions Of course, if you really want to gamble, on this cruise, you could have gone to the Monte Carlo Casino - just remember to bring your passport, a sports-coat, and $10 for an entrance fee. This cruise was excursion heavy. And a lot of the fellow passengers we met took excursions almost every day. Reports ranged from "Excellent" to "unprintable." They were certainly expensive - some costing as much as $150 or more per person for a full day exploring Rome, for instance. Well, that day there were 400,000 Spaniards in St. Peters, and at least one of the excursion managers was smart enough to go back in the afternoon, and actually got his group into the Sistine Chapel, when most everyone else had given up. Most of the Spaniards - in town for a Beatification of one of their priests - had left St. Peters by lunchtime and, seemingly had made it to the Spanish Steps area, where we had stopped for an enjoyable lunch after a beautiful walk from Travestere. We're old Europe hands, and pretty much did everything on our own. Six of us rented a taxi in Livorno, and had a great day in Florence for just a tad more than the train ride plus taxi back to the ship would have been - without the worry. Nice was a $1.50 and 10 minute bus ride away. Palermo was literally right outside the boat's gangway. Seriously, if you do Europe, do some research, have some fun, and skip the excursions. Cruise Highlight The highlight of the cruise for us was hiring a private driver in Naples and seeing the Amalfi Coast. How much more pleasurable in a Mercedes E series with only our driver and a private tour guide instead of a crowded bus, going around those crazy bends to one beautiful vista after another - and, for pretty much the same money!! We had a great time - met some great people - and really enjoyed what has got to be one of the best cruise ships afloat these days. If you have a chance to take the Constellation - either on one of its 7-day Southern Caribbean itineraries this winter - or better yet, in Europe next season, you should grab at the chance. And look for one of those aft cabins.....we may be your neighbors!!! greygypsy1@yahoo.com January 2003 Read Less
My wife and I have previously sailed on Celebrity's Century and our expectations for the Constellation were set by our near-perfect experience on that beautiful ship. In the weeks leading up to our cruise on Constellation's 3rd ... Read More
My wife and I have previously sailed on Celebrity's Century and our expectations for the Constellation were set by our near-perfect experience on that beautiful ship. In the weeks leading up to our cruise on Constellation's 3rd sailing, I kept a close eye on the [Cruise Critic message] boards to get as much new information as I could. A week before our cruise, a maiden voyager posted a few pictures of the ship's interior, and my expectations dropped a little. However, from my first step aboard her, I recognized that the pictures had not done her justice, the Constellation is a finely appointed, gorgeous ship which wouldn't disappoint even the most discriminating traveler. My wife and I felt that the service fell below the excellent level of attentiveness and friendliness on the Century (a 90 on the Constellation, a 97 on the Century); and that the food in the main dining room, at times, was not up to what we had experienced on the Century (a 92 on the Constellation, a 95 on the Century). Although, I have to add, the onboard entertainment had improved ten-fold from our experiences three years ago on Century, much to the credit, I am certain, of a gentleman named Armond. In particular, two of the production shows were "over the top." I could go on about the wonderful people and ports, but I would like to just make this review about the ship. Crew and Staff For the most part, the staff and crew are wonderfully polite, hospitable and helpful. After being spoiled by the Century staff, I did feel that the staff on the Constellation, while attentive to guests needs, lacked the drive to "go the extra mile." If you ask for something on the Constellation you will get it, and sometimes much grander than what you requested (a birthday cake for a friend's surprise party was above and beyond any birthday cake I've ever had, with confectioners baskets of chocolates inset), most times with a smile. However, often enough to notice, service was delivered without a smile and without the enthusiasm, which can leave a guest feeling as though it is asking too much or burdening the crew. I don't know how that type of enthusiasm is imparted to a whole ship-load of staff, but perhaps Celebrity could rotate everyone through the Century at least once. There were some outstanding examples on the Constellation, but a few slackers is all that it takes to knock it off perfection. Discotheque and NightclubThere was a modest amount of interest in the Disco, and my wife and I eventually gave up on trying to get it going. I don't know if it was because the captain and his crew were always up there requesting sappy crappy 70's Greek disco spin-offs, but that seemed to be the biggest dance-killer once we managed to get people out on the floor. The disco itself is huge and beautiful with a big round bar, which (and you wouldn't know this unless someone told you) is where the DJ is seated, unseen behind white-opaque windows. Now, in all fairness, once you discover that there is a DJ (for 2 nights we thought it was just pre-recorded tracks of the same old crap, see above), he will play almost anything you request. Once he started playing some Shaggy, Pink and UB40 (not to mention some Stones, Van Halen, Guns and Roses and other classics) we really had the disco crowd up and on their feet, but he continually rushed through the "good stuff" and cleared out the floor with dance-beat rip-off 70's crap, once cutting together 10 awesome American rock songs into a 4 minute un-danceable conglomeration and then switching back to crap, which just made our party of 15 leave the disco (leaving only the first-mate and his friends to smoke cigarettes and watch nobody dance). So, all in all, we were pretty disappointed with the music selection and the DJ, but there is potential, just make sure you let the DJ know (repeatedly) what type of music you want to hear (unless its rip-off disco beat 70's crap in Greek, he'll play plenty of that on his own). Also, he either doesn't have a smoke machine, or doesn't know how to use it, turn on the smoke man, turn on the smoke! The location of the dance floor is also "unfortunate", at the front of the room, rather than in the middle, not raised and it takes all attention away from a really gorgeous (and expensive) bar. I doubt Celebrity will change the lay-out, but they should. Sports Deck, Spa and Gym If you are an exercisaholic or an aerobics lover, you will be more than content with the Constellation's large and up-to-date Sports Deck and Gym. The golf simulator is fantastic, the gym has more than enough exercise bikes, treadmills and machines for everyone, without feeling "empty" all the time. The aerobics classes (and tai-chi), I am told, were invigorating. The gymnasium itself has a key address, right on the front of the ship with a large wrap-around window, very well stocked and lit, with changing rooms and showers and the spa facilities right there as well. Friends used the personal trainers and were pleasantly impressed. My wife received one completely terrible spa treatment, but received another one complimentary when she took the time to 'constructively' complain to the management; it was all handled very professionally (except the bad treatment itself). I was very very surprised and delighted at the haircut I received on board (I ran out of time to get it cut before the cruise by my regular barber; I am very picky about who cuts my hair, but I felt I didn't have a choice); my wife can tell you that I was extremely nervous, but the lady who did my hair did a fabulous job, my regular barber is lucky that she is at sea. I also received a couple of excellent massages and spent time in the "Persian Garden" treatment area, check it out--herbal steam, peppermint and strawberry showers, heated ceramic benches, Turkish bath, sauna. My wife enjoyed manicures and pedicures, massages, mud baths and seaweed wraps, all (but one) were rejuvenating and relaxing. The one complaint, by everyone I spoke to that used the spa, too many pushy sales pitches (and this kept many people from going back for more treatments), after the first time, I just told them flat-out that I did not want any sales-pitch at the end of my treatment, but this should not have been necessary--hopefully it will change. Poolside There is a very large "Thalasotherapy" pool under a large glass dome (surrounded by hot tubs), very nice warm water with jets and bubbles, but not as invigorating as the thalasotherapy pools on the other Celebrity ships, room for more people, but less people used it because of the lack of jets, etc... This area also has teak deck chairs and a "spa" cafe, very relaxing, warm and inviting. The outdoor pools and hot-tubs are phenomenal, chairs are stocked with cushions, towels and blankets abound and a very friendly attentive (not too pushy) drink staff. The outdoor band excels at Caribbean music, but sucks at anything else. Our biggest running joke on the cruise was the poolside band's really really awful rendition of "Who Let The Dogs Out" sung to a laid back Jamaican theme, it loses something in the translation--instead of a vigorous rally-call, it comes off as an inquisitive children's song to which old ladies might shrug their shoulders and ask - "who did let those dogs out?", I guess it's the PG cruising version. Dining Room/ Specialty Restaurant (Ocean Liners) Ocean Liners is an incredibly beautiful and gastronomical delight at sea. The servers/preparers are all top notch, the food is even more incredible than the main dining room (which is superb-most times). The wine-list is very good (could use a little improvement, reds jump from $50 commercial wines to $200 premium selections without much in between) and the wine prices are comparable to most nice restaurants in the states (about 2X retail on most, a little less on more expensive wines). Kelly and I had a wonderful bottle of 1997 Opus One at $195, a bargain for restaurant pricing and very well kept. My only complaint with Ocean Liners is that there is only one menu, so after 2 or 3 times, you are all out of choices, but it is still absolutely fabulous, and Dario, the maitre'd, is outstandingly wonderful. Don't pass on the opportunity if you are on the Constellation; and book as soon as you are on board, or sooner if you are a past-cruiser. The dining room, complete with a wonderful quartet for lunches and dinners is as beautiful, if not more, than all of the Celebrity ships. The servers were wonderful, but not as incredible as our servers on the Century. The food was occasionally just all right, but most often it was a delight; the lobster tails and steaks (you only get one night of lobster, but filet's and tenderloins are almost nightly) are incredibly well done and Michael Roux's soups and appetizers don't disappoint. Don't miss lunches in the main dining room, they are almost as good as the dinners. As well, the best food on the buffets is found at the stations aft in the Seaside Grille, fresh pasta's with sauces, omelets and other delights, prepared fresh for each customer. Shops We were amazed at all of the beautiful shops on board. The prices are average mall retail, with sales on different items on different days. The more expensive items don't go on sale, so if you see a camera, emerald or expensive watch that you must have, go ahead and get it if it's a good buy. There is a liquor store on board with ample supply of everything you need except rare wines. Suggestion to Celebrity - Why not put in a specialty wine store with wonderful bourdeaux's, pinot's, cab's, etc... from France, Italy, Calif., Chile, etc... (you have to work it out with the wine menu in the restaurants, but many restaurant/wine stores in California do it quite succesfully), this would save guests some time in port looking for a wine shop? Theatre I think Celebrity's entertainment is getting better, much better. Or maybe it's just Armando's excellent job on the Constellation. I have to admit, when we were on Century, we gave up no Celebrity's entertainment, it was amateur hour. However, the Constellation had an excellent comedian/impressionist/musician, a professional pick-pocket, a concert pianist and 2 very well-done production numbers that we absolutely loved (most nights, a couple of performances were a little dry). Our biggest complaint here was the "depth" of the shows. Why can't a cruise-line have one or two full-scale productions of hits like "Chicago", "The Producers", "Les Miserables" or something similar. Put that on 2 or 3 nights during the cruise, let guests select what night they want to see it and then fill in the other evenings. Martini/Champagne Bars Elegant surroundings with ample sitting room for all. The Martini selections go beyond those listed on the extensive menu and are not outrageously priced, equal to a nice restaurant or lounge on shore. The Martini's are fantastic, the champagne selection is a little skimpy, but the caviar was fantastic (they should think about adding a foi gras selection as well). These two lounges (actually one large lounge with martini on one side and Champagne on the other) is a great place to meet before and after dinner. AND, the big bonus, there is an opening in the floor, so guests can enjoy the live music going on in the Rendevouz Loung directly under the bar (a great act). Rendevouz Lounge Carl and Karen, remind you of the duo from Saturday Night Live with their commentary, but the music is actually excellent and versatile. They will leave you laughing and singing, the Constellation should hang on to them as long as they can. The red, white and blue furnishings are a little "much", but it is a beautiful space with a huge bar and good stage positioning. A very enjoyable spot. Notes / Words I didn't think, before I got on the ship, that a library, or music library, would play a part in my European vacation. However, what Celebrity has done in creating these two very relaxing and usable spaces is incredible. With wonderful views of the ocean outside and contemporary comfortable surroundings and artwork, you can sit and enjoy any music your heart desires. The library is very well stocked if you run out of a good book to read at those days at sea and the librarian was extremely helpful and accommodating. Casino Plan to give some back to Celebrity at this little stop, but don't miss out on stopping by. The casino is large enough to never be "overcrowded", and intimate enough to allow you to see most of the action from whatever game you choose to play. There is almost always room at the $5 tables, except maybe on formal night, which was nice to see (sometimes ships only have one full $5 table and a lot of empty higher limit tables). The dealers were, almost always, very enjoyable and pleasant. The casino manager (or was he a pit boss), Richard, was very courteous and professional and runs a great place to lose money. They could use a few more well-placed televisions with current sporting events on. Atrium / Cova Cafe Marvelous deserts served practically all day. You'll have to pay a little extra for the cappuccinos and mochas, but they are worth it. Michael's Club As beautiful and bigger than the one on the Century. The cigar selection is fantastic and the cigars are well-kept. You can purchase Cubans, Dominican, Hondurans, etc... The prices are the same as you would expect to pay at a nice cigar-bar back home, maybe even a little less. Drink prices are standard (not inflated) and the atmosphere is quiet and refined. Even if you don't smoke cigars, the smoke is not overpowering and this is a great place to hold a conversation with new friends. Staterooms / Suites Absolutely comfortable. We had a sky suite, which we found to be very well laid out. We were disappointed that the tub was not a "Jacuzzi" tub, but we got to use the high-tech Jacuzzi tub in our friends royal suite (wow!). There was more than enough room to have some friends over for a drink and store all of our items for a 2 week cruise (and we over packed). The beds are a little soft, but if you ask, they'll put a board in for you under the mattresses. Celebrity uses a wrap system to put the beds together and fill in the little gap between mattresses which is perfect, you really can't even tell that you are on two separate mattresses. The window drapes are opaque, which is useful when traveling to where the sun never fully sets and is as bright as day at 5am in the morning. The couch (a pullout) is very comfortable for lounging and the cabin stewards were very attentive. Whatever you want in your cabin is really just a phone call away. One night, however, we ordered a movie on the television which cut-out halfway through and we could not get it back on, the front desk was little (or no) help. This was extremely frustrating and I hope it is a problem they can fix on future cruises. Aft Bar < A beautiful wood bar with teak chairs and tables on the rear of the ship, a fantastic place to watch the ocean pass by, usually pretty empty and peaceful. Also a great place to take your breakfast when pulling in to port. Read Less
Just returned from our cruise on Celebrity's Constellation to the Southern Caribbean which included: Puerto Rico, St Croix, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, and St Thomas. This is our second cruise with Celebrity, and once again, the ... Read More
Just returned from our cruise on Celebrity's Constellation to the Southern Caribbean which included: Puerto Rico, St Croix, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, and St Thomas. This is our second cruise with Celebrity, and once again, the staff treated us like royalty. I cannot say enough about Celebrity. The service: Asis our cabin attendant was amazing. I don't know where he hides, but as soon as we were close to our room, he would jump out from somewhere to open our door. We could leave for a few moments and come back to a clean room. We had clean towels at all times, and he even set up towel animal figures for my 2-year-old son. If we ever needed anything, we could just pop our head out of our door, and there he was, ready to help. I am sure he had many other cabins to care for, but it felt as though he was reserved for just us. Ivica our waiter was also excellent, as well was our waiter assistance and wine steward. My son did not like to sit for more than 40 minutes at a stretch, so my husband was often away from our table. Ivica would take my husband's course and exchange it for a fresh one if he felt too much time had passed. He was very attentive to us, especially to my son. I don't know how many tables he was in charge of, but we felt as though we were his only one. I have to mention another waitress who we remembered from the Millennium, which we sailed last year. Samena came to visit us every night even though we were not at her table. She was extremely nice and always gave special attention to my son, which we all really appreciated. The entire staff was extremely nice, always smiling, and it just made the entire atmosphere wonderful. The Food: We ate in the main dining room every night with one exception. We got a babysitter for my son (with whom we were very pleased) and treated ourselves to the Ocean Liner. It is not to be missed! For appetizer, I had the goat cheese soufflE. It was amazing. Now I am not a real goat cheese fan, but this soufflE was out of this world. I had seen others rave about it, and I am glad I tried it. My husband had the lobster bisque which he enjoyed, although he told me after tasting the soufflE that he wished he had gotten it. For entree we both had the Sea Bass. It was good, not outstanding, but definitely good. For dessert, I had the Grand Mariner soufflE and my husband had the chocolate soufflE, we also both got the sampler. Pure decadence. I have to push the chocolate soufflE. That in itself was well worth the trip! They also gave my husband a side scoop of vanilla ice cream, which put this dessert over the top! The service and food in the main dining room is excellent, and I could not have imagined being more pampered than the service we received in the main dining, but at Ocean Liners I felt like I was a movie star or something. Honestly, you will not find better service ANYWHERE. I live in the NYC area, where have some of the best restaurants in the world....we are not easily impressed. The service at Ocean Liners definitely did just that. Dining here was one of the highlights of our trip. They also have casual dining, which we only took advantage of the night my son was dining alone. We got him pizza and pasta and ate outside on the Aft deck listening to music while watching the sun set. We tried some of the pasta, and it was delicious. Sometimes we would get an after dinner sushi snack, which was always fresh and good. I can't forget to mention the Spa dining. Excellent. We ate here every day for lunch. Never a line, very healthy and tasty meals. We never ate at the buffet lunch. I realized by the end of the cruise that they also served breakfast. Next time, we'll be visiting the Spa for breakfast as well. The Ship: If you have traveled on the Millennium, it is basically the same exact ship except the Constellation does not have the Sports Bar. We were told it was very expensive to have the big screen TVs getting all of the games on satellite. I don't think they had enough traffic through there to warrant having another one on Constellation. Instead, they have a larger conservatory which housed lots of plants and flowers. As the Millennium, the ship is beautiful and tastefully decorated. It also has an expansive art collection. It was a main "disco", plus a champagne bar, martini bar, and lounge. It also has a movie theatre, which we never went to and a large theatre for shows. Plenty to do. They had an area for kids which included a small pool and some climbing/slide equipment. My son used it the day we were out at sea, but not the baby pool. The waves in it were too much since we were traveling. He was too young to use the inside play area. Children must be 3 years old and potty trained. Next year we'll use the "camp" services. They even watch the children until 1 am on formal nights for free. Great deal! Our Room: We went with the "cheap seats" again. Our room was an Ocean View room without a balcony on the 2nd floor. It was perfect. We were afraid to get a balcony because I had visions of my son getting out on it in the middle of the night and falling off the boat. Paranoid, I'm sure, but I wasn't taking any chances. If we did not take our son, I would have loved to have had one to have breakfast or drinks out on. The room we had (2115) was mid-ship and we were very happy with it. It had plenty of storage and my son slept on the pull out couch. It pulled out into a twin bed. It did get a little crowded when the couch was pulled out, but we really were only in our cabins to sleep and change clothes. The one nice thing about the cruise is, no matter what type of room you had, you were treated first class all the way. I compare it to the treatment I had on my wedding day--it felt as though we were very special. Entertainment: We sent to the lounge prior to having dinner and I have to say a huge thank you to Karen and Carl the lounge singers. They are the nicest people and were so nice to my son. He loved dancing to their music, and at one point they gave him a maraca to play during their act. They were fun to watch. We only saw a few shows in the theatre. We saw a piano player...Finkel, who was extremely talented. We also saw a magician who my son enjoyed. He was okay. We heard the comedian was good, but we missed him. Grand Buffet: Don't miss the Grand Buffet display. It is on the last formal night and it is a site to be seen! I notice that on this cruise there were only 2 midnight buffets: one sherbert display in the beginning of the week, and then the Grand Buffet. However, there is food available 24/7. Islands: We had seen PR last cruise, so we basically stayed on the ship when we got there. Our first stop was St Criox and since we had to be back on the ship by 2:45 pm, we decided to spend the day by the pool. I heard the snorkeling was excellent (which we couldn't do with the baby) but otherwise it was not worth getting off the ship for. St Lucia: Absolutely beautiful. Lush, green, tropical, the Pitons are amazing. We went to Marigot Bay, which had fantastic views, but the beach (sand) itself was not very nice. We heard if we traveled further away near the Pitons, there was a beautiful black sand beach. We'll try that next time. We took a water taxi which cost us $50 round trip. We could have probably talked them down. Barbados: We went to a beach club called the "Boatyard". It is extremely close to the port, and a lot of the crew goes there. You get a beach chair/umbrella and $5 worth of tokens to use at their restaurant/bar for $10. You also have use of their "iceburg" climbing rock in the middle of the ocean and their ocean trampolines. Volleyball is there too. We had the most fun here. Antiqua: We went to Hawk's Bill. It was a $30 round trip taxi ride (usually the taxi drivers like to come back for you so they make the money both ways). You have use of a hotel's amenities which includes a pool. You only have to pay for a beach chair if you want it ($5). I think this was the prettiest beach of all the islands. St Thomas: We went to Megan's Bay. It is listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. In my husband's opinion, it was the prettiest that we visited. It is only $6 per person for a taxi there, and $3 to get on the beach. It is another $5 for a beach chair and you can also rent a float for the day. This beach is a little crowded, but if you walk down a little, it becomes less crowded. There is a restaurant, rest rooms, and showers there. The water is really calm and perfect for lounging out in the ocean on the float. Traveling with Toddlers: My son was very easy to travel with. I highly recommend getting the late seating instead of the main. We had the main and I did this thinking my son needed to eat earlier. Had I planned better, I would have realized we could have fed him at the casual dining room earlier in the night and he would be asleep by the time we had dinner. He could have been next to us asleep in his stroller. Plus, since he slept on the beach until around 4 pm or so, he was ready to run around by the time 6 pm came. I also recommend bringing some type of shelter if going to the beach. We had brought a little half tent which was very portable and easy to put up. You can't always find a place under a palm tree to shade your child, and not every beach provided umbrellas. My son would sleep nicely in the half tent and we didn't have to worry about him burning. You don't have to bring toys. The children's area let's you sign out a toy box full of sand toys, books, and lots of fun things. My son enjoyed playing with everything. Last Day Advice: We had to get off the ship by 10:30 am on Saturday, yet our fight was not until 6 pm. We had no plans on how to spend those hours in between. At the baggage claim in Newark we ran into a family from our cruise, and what they did was rent a hotel room in Puerto Rico for the day with another couple. I am kicking myself for not doing that. This way, you have a place to store your luggage, a shower, and a bed for naps. Plus the use of their facilities. We'll definitely do this next time. Stats on us: married couple in mid-30's traveling with a 2 year old. boarderdeb@aol.com June 2003 Read Less
We went on our very first Cruise aboard Celebrity's Constellation, departing San Juan on December 7, 2002. We had a complete package that included air flight. Which was the first time my wife ever flew in an airplane. We left the ... Read More
We went on our very first Cruise aboard Celebrity's Constellation, departing San Juan on December 7, 2002. We had a complete package that included air flight. Which was the first time my wife ever flew in an airplane. We left the mountains of North Carolina and flew into Charlotte, where we caught an Airbus that took us into San Juan. We arrived in San Juan around 1 PM. When we arrived at the airport, we started toward the baggage claim area, and found the greeters from the Constellation, that quickly checked our tickets and got us to the area to catch the bus to the ship. The Bus was very comfortable and air conditioned, we were trying to adjust to the temperature in San Juan in the low 90's, which was a system shock considering when we got on the plane the temperature was 20 degrees in Asheville, NC. The bus driver welcomed everyone to Puerto Rico, and acted as a tour guide as he took us to the pier. The trip took about 20 minutes. When we arrived we filled out a boarding questionnaire and got into line for boarding. There was a slight problem with our cabin assignment. When the travel agent set up the cruise, a mistake was made in the reservations. My wife was assigned a stateroom with her aunt, and I was assigned one with her uncle. The travel agent contacted Celebrity prior to our departure, and they assured him that it could be very easily straightened out when we arrived at San Juan. We went up to the ticket window, within 10 minutes of arriving at the terminal and explained the problem to the worker Pedro, who rolled his eyes and stomped off with our tickets in his hand. His supervisor came over to the window, and told us that they would take care of the problem and to go ahead and board. He returned our tickets to us and we began the walk up to the gangplank. We were stopped on the way to the ship for the first of several pictures taken by the Photography Department on the ship. They told us that the picture would be available for purchase later in the cruise for $9.95 each. We then boarded the ship and was greeted by the ships crew, who was lined up in crisp clean uniforms and white gloves. We was welcomed aboard and shown to our staterooms, by one of the crew. We had an ocean view room on the 3rd deck, with my wife's aunt & uncle just 2 rooms down from us. The room was very clean, the bathroom was spotless and the amenities were a nice touch. After a quick change, we had a knock on the door. It was Freida, our stateroom attendant welcoming us aboard and introducing herself. She told us to please call her if we needed anything at all. We then went and meet the rest of our group, which included my wife's aunt, her uncle and another couple. We went up the Seaside Cafe on the 10th deck and enjoyed the buffet lunch. The wait staff was very friendly and attentive. It appeared that they were working very hard to make each guest, feel they were the only one on the ship. The lunch was excellent, after we ate we began walking around the ship to acquaint ourselves. We started on the Aft section of Deck 10, we was impressed that the Seaside Cafe, had 2 services lines, 1 port and 1 starboard, a grill on each side and an aft section also. After a couple of pictures with Old San Juan as the backdrop, we began walking around the ship. We were very impressed with the staff, each one stopped what they was doing to welcome us aboard. After working our way completely around deck 10, we walked up to Deck 11 and toured it. We checked out the walking/jogging track and noted that the deck chairs were located not to impede the usage of the track. We made our way to the bow and walked into the Reflections lounge. The view from the front of the ship was impressive. We then went down the forward elevators, not as impressive as the glass mid ship elevators, but just as nice and went down to the 4th Deck. We walked into the Celebrity theater, which is impressive to say the least. Then made our way to the stern of the ship, walking by the photography shop and by the Casino. We made our way thru the ship back to the San Marco Restaurant. Which is an impressive two deck facility. We then went up the 5th Deck and walked thru the lounges and the onboard shops, all of which was closed during the times we was in port. We then went back to our staterooms, and found a majority of our luggage had been delivered waiting for us in the hallway. After some unpacking, we went back up the 10th Deck and enjoyed the pool area and some ice cream. We stayed there for a couple of hours, watching the Kitchen staff getting set up for the Bon Voyage Party. We went back to our rooms, and found the rest of our luggage waiting and changed for our main seating in the San Marco. We walked in to the San Marco, and the wait staff welcomed us aboard. We enjoyed our first meal there, then went to the Celebrity Theater for the Welcome Aboard Show. We enjoyed the preview show of the entertainment that was on slate for the week. After the show, we went back to our stateroom to get prepared for the lifeboat drill that was held before we left port. We found our Muster point in Michaels Cigar Bar and was showed which boat we were assigned to. After the drill, we returned out life jackets to the our stateroom, then went back to the pool area for the Bon Voyage party. The Bon Voyage party was wonderful, we were very impressed with the band "Vibz". This group from St. Lucia is very talented and hopefully they will get an album cut soon. We stayed at the party until the ship had sailed out of Puerto Rico, before we called it a night. We awoke the next morning in St. Croix, US VI. After an excellent breakfast at the Seaside Cafe, we went ashore. We were promptly stopped by the ships photography staff for another picture, with the Constellation as the backdrop. We made it into the port city and was hit by a large group of tour guides, trying to sell tours of the island. We meet one, that offered a 4-5 hour tour of the island, with stops anywhere we wanted to stop at. This was offered for $20 each. We decided to give it a try. Our guide/driver was very informative about the island, we was taken across the entire island and the history of St. Croix, was explained to us. After some stops for shopping, we got back to the port about 4 1/2 hours later. We felt it was very well worth the $20 each we paid. We boarded the ship and went back to our stateroom. We then went back to the Seaside Grill for lunch, then to the pool to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. After a couple of hours, we went to our room to clean up and change for supper. We had a message waiting for us on the phone, to please call the Guest Relations Desk. I called and they told me that there was a problem with the room that need to be addressed. I told them that we would stop by on our way to eat. We then had a knock on our door, it was the Housekeeping Supervisor, who informed me that there was a problem with our room. The drain in the shower was leaking, and sending water into the cabin below us. He wanted to show me what the problem was, but at that time, my wife was in the shower. He was very polite and insisting to show me the problem, but I told him to go away, that my wife was in the shower and that we would talk to him, after she got out. The phone rung, and I told him that I had to go, so I left him standing in hallway. It was Guest Relations wanting to talk about the problem with the room. I told them that the Housekeeping Supervisor was in the Hallway, and they should really talk to him. So I then went back into the hallway, and listened to what the Housekeeping Supervisor had to say. They offered to upgrade us to a room on the 8th Deck, and there would not be any charges for the upgrade. I accepted the offer and he told me to contact the Stateroom Attendant when we was ready to go up. I explained to him, about the problem we had with our reservations, he assured me that he would personally take care of it and make sure that it would be straightened out. My wife came out of the bathroom, to find me packing. I told her that we were upgraded and had to pack up. After she got ready, we called the stateroom attendant and went to Guest Relations. When we got there, the lady working there had no idea about what was going on and could not figure out, whey my wife and I wanted to be in the same stateroom. We told her to call the Housekeeping Supervisor and he would explain everything to her. She called him, and kept saying Yes Sir, yes Sir, etc. After she got off the phone, she apologized saying that she had just come on duty, and no one had taken the time to tell her about this. She then gave us new cards and give us our new cabin assignment. We then got on the glass elevator and went to the new Stateroom. We found the room and entered. Our new Stateroom attendant Agus was waiting on us and welcomed us. He showed us our room with a veranda and told us to please let him know if we needed anything. We then went down and found our seats for the late seating. Our Waiter greeted us as we sat down and introduced his self and the assistant waiter Agata from Poland. During the rest of our trip, Agata went out of her way to provide service for us. This included at Breakfast, Lunch or if we ran into her in a port or on the ship. The next morning we awoke to find ourselves in St. Lucia. We had breakfast and left the ship for a day of exploring. We decided to walk into town, which was an experience to say the least. Of course we got mobbed by the taxi/tour drivers, offering to take us anywhere we wanted to go. But we told them no, and started walking into town. We walked into the Flea Market across from the Fish Market and visited several of the vendors. We also walked thru the other market places in the area, when we walked into the Fish Market, my wife had to duck, when one of the vendors was trying to throw a fish upon his shoulder to show it to a prospective buyer. After that we started walking back toward the ship, with street vendors trying to stop us, my wife and her aunt got lured in by a gentleman that was selling handwoven baskets, which of course they each had to purchase. We then made it back to ship and had lunch. After lunch, we went to the pool area to relax, Vibz began playing at 3 PM, as the ship was sailing out. They sang an absolutely beautiful song about their home island. Tuesday found us in Bridgetown, Barbados. After walking to the terminal building, we caught a $2 taxi ride into the middle of Bridgetown. The driver told us to be prepared to be bombarded with taxi drivers trying to sell us tours. When he pulled up to let us out, my door was opened by two gentleman that immediately started offering us tours. We told them no thank you, and walked off. We explored the shops and malls in downtown Bridgetown, then walked the 2 miles back to the ship. Wednesday was spent at sea, we spent the day enjoying the pool and the fantastic food service that was available. During the afternoon, we tried the Pizza after hearing some people say that they did not like it. I found it to be outstanding, but I had not found any food served all week that I would say was bad. We had an excellent supper and enjoyed another good show in the Celebrity Theater. During the time, that we did spend in our room, I found it amusing that other than live International CNN and a few Spanish Channels, they would tape shows on the networks and replay them several times over a 24 hour period. I guess I would have assumed that since the ship offered Satellite Internet Service for fifty cents a minute, that they would have provided Satellite TV to the ship as well. Thursday found us in Antigua, We walked into downtown and visited several of the local shops. We did purchase some Antigun Rum for one of my wives co-workers and for my brother. It was not until after the trip did we find out, that it is some of the best rum produced in the world, I wished we had bought some for us. After spending a few hours in town, we went back to the ship for lunch and the pool. I did find it interesting, that at this port, the crew did not take liquor bought by the passengers from them and store it. This caught my attention, since at the Terminal Building in Puerto Rico, the Duty Free shop handed everyone in line a sales paper, with a statement in it, that it was illegal for the ships to demand storage of liquor and not let the passengers keep it with them. We had seen them take liquor from others at the ports we had visited, but this was the only time we had purchased any. We did take them to our stateroom and stored them there. Tonight was our second and final formal night of the cruise, we walked right by the photographers who begged us to let them take our picture, I told them that I would not purchase it, so they then started working on the next couple behind us. We enjoyed our supper and the evening show, when we got back to our room, we found the letter stating that we would have to go thru US Immigrations in St. Thomas. We noted the time that we was told to be there, and called for a wake up call so we would not miss the early appointment. We got up the next morning and went down to the Celebrity Theater with our documents in hand. When we stepped off the elevator, we noticed a long line to our right. An immigrations official was standing at the elevator and told us to go to the left, right up to a waiting official that looked at our documents and said "Welcome back to the US, I hope you have enjoyed your cruise." This process only took a total of 3 minutes. We understand the people in line, was there for up to half an hour. We got off the ship after breakfast, walked straight thru the Havensight Mall and walked into downtown. After some shopping, and a visit to the Flea Market set up across from the Fire Department, we caught a taxi ride back to the ship for $3 each. This was the only port that we saw another cruise ship at. My wife loved the shops and found a linen shop, that she could have spent days in. After we got back to the pier. We walked thru the Havensight Mall, then went back to the ship. We had another great lunch, and enjoyed the afternoon at the pool. All week I had purchased a couple of beers each day, as well as soft drinks. The waiter that was working the area of the pool, told me that we could have purchased an armband for about 5 dollars a day for all you wanted soft drinks. But you would have had to purchase it for everyday of the cruise. Nice to find that out on the last day. I will say that $2.44 a beer, and anywhere from $4 to $7 for mixed drinks can add up. We ended our cruise in San Juan, where we signed up for a tour of Old San Juan (the only Celebrity Tour we took). We totally enjoyed the tour of Old San Juan and the forts, We got to spend about an hour shopping and grabbing some lunch before we got to the airport. The tour bus, took us right to our luggage at the airport. We then hiked from the luggage area, to the terminal and made it 1 hour before our flight. The temperature in San Juan was 95 degrees when we departed and 19 degrees back in North Carolina when we landed. We were very impressed with the Constellation and its crew. The shows were good for the most part and we was impressed with the cruise director, despite some of the criticism that we had read on reviews of other ships that he was on. We became fans of the band VIBZ and hope they are the ships band when we go back again. We did have some minor problems, but overall rate the cruise and experience excellent.June 2003 Read Less
The Constellation is beautiful. The artwork is gorgeous, the public rooms are beautiful, the decor on the ship is so pretty, the pool cushions on the pool deck are a nice touch. We went at Christmastime so I woke up early to save two ... Read More
The Constellation is beautiful. The artwork is gorgeous, the public rooms are beautiful, the decor on the ship is so pretty, the pool cushions on the pool deck are a nice touch. We went at Christmastime so I woke up early to save two chairs (Yes I did). The staterooms are perfect -- they are spotless. We were in cabin 7024. Kids had 7050 we had a balcony they had an inside room attendant was amazing. The TV channels were bad Spanish channels. They should have more to choose from. My experience in the dining room We had late seating. First night was open seating (sit wherever they put you). Great waitress. Second night, sat with 3 other people from England (why would the do such a stupid thing). We are American with 2 kids 14/11 they didn't want to sit with us either. So we changed tables from downstairs to upstairs. The table upstairs was in a bad spot 529. We had a bad waiter but a great assistant! He had to wait on a table of 12 also we sat for two hours. The bar maid took 45 min before asking us if we wanted a soda, the wine Steward was there in 1 min (we don't drink). I was so angry that Maurice the headwaiter brought us our sodas twice. Only on the last night did she ask us when we sat down. We did eat in the alternative restaurant (Ocean Liners) it was great!!! Well worth the $25.00. The towels are great they give you towels to take to the Islands and a beach bag to carry them. Very nice. There were always two security guards around the pool. My kids 14/11 couldn't go either in the hot tubs outside or in the pool without me being there. I thought that was bad. My kids were more then able to swim. The hot tubs were lukewarm so they were not dangerous. But the Thalassotherapy pool was amazing we went in every day after we watched the sun go down it is so relaxing there. We loved the pizza and the buffet breakfast. Don't forget about the food in back of the ship they always served something different there. Never saw the shows we were too tired. Coffee bar is nice you get a great piece of chocolate if you order cappuccino or espresso. That is my review any questions??? Lissee63@aol.com March 2003 Read Less
This was our first cruise and very much anticipated. It was our 20th wedding anniversary trip. We arrived in San Juan on Friday night. We stayed at the Condado Plaza hotel. It was ok but next time I think I'll stay in Old San Juan. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and very much anticipated. It was our 20th wedding anniversary trip. We arrived in San Juan on Friday night. We stayed at the Condado Plaza hotel. It was ok but next time I think I'll stay in Old San Juan. Glad we only paid Priceline rates. The next day we had a leisurely morning and then made our way by taxi to the Pan American Pier at about 11:30 am. It was about a 5-10 minute taxi ride. When we arrived, there were a couple dozen people in line outside the terminal. We met some of the nicest folks waiting in line. We greeted each other throughout the cruise. In about 20 minutes, our luggage was collected and we were ushered into the large waiting area where rows of chairs were provided along with friendly greeters and ice water. It was fairly muggy but not too hot that morning. We took our seats, filled out a few papers handed to us (disembarkation plans) and before we knew it, we were receiving our boarding documents! We stopped in at the duty free shop right there in the terminal to grab a few beverages (both alcohol and non). We tucked them into our carry-on luggage and proceeded to board. Wow, from the first moment, service was fabulous. We were greeted by white-gloved attendants with champagne or orange juice. Our attendant escorted us to the seaside cafe (deck 10) and invited us to have lunch as our stateroom would not be ready until 1 pm. It was about 12:15 by this time. I also used this time to also make dinner reservations for Ocean Liners on the sea day. That day fills up quickly. Precisely at 1 pm we were invited to go to our stateroom. We had cabin 7203 in on deck 7 aft overlooking the wake. The verandah was as big as the stateroom. Two loungers with comfy pads, two regular chairs and a small table. The room was plenty big. The bed quite comfy with no detectable evidence that it was actually 2 beds together! Our room attendant introduced herself almost immediately. We asked for wine glasses and she accommodated us quickly. Very nice. TV included a ship info channel (or two), CNN International, Cartoon Network and a little English and Spanish programming. Mostly sitcoms and movies. Pay-per-view was available but we never used it. We had planned on going into old San Juan. But it was muggy out, we were quite a distance away (taxi required) and the ship was lovely so we stayed on board and settled in. Plenty of storage room and our luggage arrived by 2:30 pm. I do know that folks who arrived later in the day didn't have luggage in time for dinner. Speaking of dinner. We were given a ticket for first seating that first night. We had the late seating assigned for the rest of the cruise, but the first day they assign as you arrive. Arrive early and you eat at 6 pm. Made sense to me. We explored the ship in the afternoon and went to the spa and booked treatments for the next day. Many folks were booking treatments at that time. Also enjoyed the Thalassotherapy pool mid-afternoon. It's a lovely adult only area. We discovered the next day that the lite fare lunches in the spa area were the best! We only ate lunch in the Seaside cafe once and it definitely less satisfying. For dinner we were seated with a young couple from Maine and an older couple from Montreal. The older couple had somewhat limited English but all were very nice. Frankly I can't remember what we had for dinner. But I know it was good! In the evening the sail away party was really fun. But first we had to muster. It was simple and orderly. Most folks paid attention and did as asked. Only a few acted like they would prefer not to be bothered. Then the party. It started with a carved melon parade! Amazing creations. Good music, fruit, food and festivities. We sure slept well! Sunday morning brought St. Croix. We were the very last ship scheduled to stop here. The vendors on St. Croix seemed frankly depressed about this fact. We got off the boat for about an hour. Stuck my toes in the blue water and bought a dress. But Fredrickstead is dead. We spent the rest of the day having spa treatments. I had a mini facial and massage then later a foot treatment and pedicure. My husband had a hot stone massage and later had his haircut and conditioned. The salmon lunch in the spa area was wonderful. We found the spa services to be attentive and overall very good. I was pretty unimpressed with my foot treatment but everything else was great. At 2:30 there was the Cruise Critic party. It was in Michael's club. Really nice to put faces with names. I guess there were 35 or so. They served tasty bites and beverages. The ship departed St. Croix by 3 and by 4 we were in the casino. A very friendly and comfortable place. My husband hit nicely on slots the first day which gave him a nice little bankroll for gambling throughout the week. (Hit for about $500 on quarter slots). Look for "Chalkie" a very sweet dealer from South Africa. I play roulette and from the first evening, I was called by my first name. Nice! Dinner gave us the chance to finally meet our permanent tablemates and waiter. We were seated at a table for 6 (we had requested 8-10 but I'm glad the way it turned out). We waited and waited. We were beginning to feel we would be alone when both other couple arrived at the same time. Ann & Mark and Terri and Tom. We were all almost the same age (early 40s), had left kids at home and it was obvious that Celebrity had made a fine match. What a relief. The food that night was only OK. I did not care for the duck, although the appetizer/salad courses were very good. Service was excellent. It was formal night so everyone looked great and I love the portrait the ships photographer took of us. As we did each evening, we went to the casino for a bit and then retired to our wonderful verandah where the acoustic guitar music from the outside aft lounge on deck 10 wafted down as we watched the stars. My favorite part of each day. We didn't do any of the big shows, but others said they were quite good. Especially the Broadway review (night 1) and the comedian (later in the week). On Monday we were in St. Lucia. It is very picturesque from the coast. We went on a half-day beach snorkel through Celebrity. We (and about 25 others) cruised up the coast to Anse Chastenet a resort near the Pitons. While there we snorkeled in a protected reef area and relaxed under palm umbrellas. Just lovely. The snorkeling was quite good, as well. Those who stayed for the all day outing were treated to a barbecue lunch in an open-air restaurant. Upon our return, we did a bit of duty-free shopping in the port area but didn't venture further inland. As you get back on the ship, crew provide passengers with cold, wet towels for cooling down. A nice touch. We really enjoyed time spent on the ship. There are many relaxing lounges, but my favorite was Reflections up on deck 11 at the very front of the ship. This is also where bingo was held. (We played but didn't win). In the afternoon there is pizza and ice cream readily available. We didn't lay around the pool but when we walked through, we always saw available chairs and the music and games seemed to be plentiful. We preferred the more serene Thalassotherapy pool area. Tuesday was Barbados. We got off the ship and there was an extensive tourist service port area. Security seemed tighter here than in other places. We hired a taxi for $20 per hour and Winston (our driver) took us on a most enjoyable 4-hour tour. We went to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve --a highlight of the trip. We sat among green monkeys, big turtles, deer, etc. that seemed oblivious to our presence. Very enjoyable. As we continued to tour the island, Winston stopped and cut sugar cane from the field and we enjoyed it as a snack the rest of the drive. That evening we noticed the most rocking of the trip. While it was evident everywhere, it was most obvious in the dining room. My husband wore wristbands from then on. The food seemed to get better and better in the dining room. And the service remained great. The beverage guy (Cenk) was wonderful and had a new cocktail (of his choice) ready for me each evening. The daily cocktail specials are a great bargain ($3.45). We also brought a bottle of wine to the table to share (we are from California wine country). There was a $12 corkage fee. Wednesday was "at sea" day and our 20th anniversary. We played in the casino, went to bingo, and lounged on the deck. I also went to a flower arranging demonstration and Michael spent a bit of time in the internet cafe. There were also cooking demos and lots of pool games. The internet cafe was nice. For 6.95 you can send a snapshot postcard greeting or for .50 a minute you can surf or do emails. Nice and convenient. Also, as folks celebrating our anniversary, we were invited to a honeymoon/anniversary cocktail part in Reflections. They had cake and champagne, music to dance to and it was very nice. The best part of the day was our dinner at Ocean Liners. The wonderful experience was worth way more than the $25 cover charge. It is a wonderfully choreographed presentation of fine dining. Many dishes are cooked tableside, there is a wonderful cheese course and the service is absolutely outstanding!!! Special Kudos to Sam and Ali. The enthusiasm they have for their work was wonderful. My husband (who is a foodie gourmet was in the mood for steak. Sam convinced us to return again on Friday night and the chef would prepare a special, custom meal. Filet with truffle sauce. We agreed. But this night the food was also excellent. The goat cheese soufflE is as everyone has raved. I had pancetta wrapped prawns flambE on a bed of arugula. Yummy! At the end they presented us with a lovely anniversary cake. A special evening. Thursday was Antigua. This was planned as our shopping day. Lots of shopping to be done, too; although there was a fair amount of aggressiveness by taxi drivers, panhandlers, etc. Once a bit back from the dock, however things were fine and we enjoyed the shops. Went to visit Yoda Man, as well. Got all of our souvenir shopping done. This was the last formal night and the grand buffet night, too. It was lobster for everyone (though some of the guys asked for two entrees- and got them). Also there was the baked Alaska parade. Not much flame but fun. Because we had not been in the main dining room for our anniversary they lit candles on the baked Alaska and the asst. maitre de made a public toast/blessing to us. Wow! It seemed we just finished eating and the grand buffet was ready. We went through at picture taking time. It was quite impressive. But we didn't eat. Too full from dinner. Back to our verandah and a night cap. A note about announcements. Aside from the muster and a daily navigational report there were none. Everything we needed to know was in the daily sheets. And if we needed additional info, there was always a TV channel with updates. It was soooo nice to relax without interruptions. Friday was our last day and St. Thomas. We were given immigration check time the night before and before we could get off the ship we needed to show our documents. It was quick and painless in the Celebrity Theater. We were off the boat by 8 am and headed toward Red Hook to meet the Winifred a private sailboat. We booked the day sail on the internet (www.sailwinifred.com). There was one other couple and the captain (Sharon) and the first mate (Allyson). It spit rain as we left the harbor but it was of no consequence. From then on it was wonderful sailing (with full sails) to St. John. What a great boat and such a personal excursion. We moored off St. John for snorkeling and beach combing. Allyson & Sharon were such gracious hosts. Saw giant turtles, rays and beautiful parrotfish. We were treated to a nice lunch on-board and then had a leisurely sail back to Red Hook. I couldn't imagine a more perfect day!!! I highly recommend the Winifred. Back to the boat by 4 (the taxi ride back from Red Hook was a bit hairy as the cab felt like it was on its last legs). We had time to rest and clean up before our second dinner in Ocean Liners. We ate early so we could join our tablemates for a late dessert in the main dining room (it was tip night, and all). Ocean Liners had been excellent the first time, but this dinner was unparalleled! When we arrived we were greeted as long anticipated guests. Our wine was decanted, and we were seated at the best table (in the corner with a settee). We had pre-ordered so things came out with precision timing. The filet with truffles was outstanding (and huge!) and I really enjoyed the lobster broth appetizer that preceded it. The whole meal was 2 ½ hours of pampered heaven. After dinner we finished packing and set our luggage outside our room. We had initially been given a 9:30 am disembarkation time and color. But we really wanted to get to the airport early. All I did was call guest relations and they had a new set of colored tags sent up. I actually got to pick the time. I chose 8:15 am. Eventually we joined our regular table for a farewell toast and pictures. We had prepared our tip envelopes ahead and we gave those, as well. I wish they had provided extra blank envelopes as I wanted to tip a couple of folks in addition to the recommended ones. I got a couple from the concierge desk. As we returned for the night to our room, we were met in the hall by a crewmember presenting us with a thank-you bottle of champagne from the casino host (I didn't think we lost that much money). It was very nice, but where to pack it in our carry-on?? We got up early the next morning and we were already in port. We had breakfast and then went to the theater to await our color being called. Right on time. We disembarked to a large warehouse with tagged luggage. There were porters available and we had no trouble finding ours. Customs was a breeze and before we knew it we were off to the airport. Seemed we didn't need all the time we budgeted. But we were wrong. We had plenty of time to relax to be sure. I actually took a nap and the gate area was uncrowded. But those that arrived an hour or more later, arrived to insanely long lines to check in. (There is no curbside). I was so glad we had arrived early. Security was tight and we were "selected" for extra scrutiny. It went pretty quickly though and was professional. We really had a wonderful trip. The highlight must be the service. The ship was well laid out and never seemed crowded (even though it was full). The food was very good (although excellent in Ocean Liners). The cabin plenty roomy. The verandah perfect. Very nice passengers. But the real treat was the service. I missed it the minute I left the ship. Thanks Celebrity. We had a wonderful time!! lcirivello@communitymedia.org June 2003 Read Less
July 6-19, this year brought one of our most fabulous cruise experiences ever!!! After spending three nights in London prior to the cruise in one of nicest boutique hotels, The Beaufort in Knightsbridge, the four of headed to Dover by ... Read More
July 6-19, this year brought one of our most fabulous cruise experiences ever!!! After spending three nights in London prior to the cruise in one of nicest boutique hotels, The Beaufort in Knightsbridge, the four of headed to Dover by prearranged chauffeur-driven hired car (cheaper than renting a car for four of us including seven bags). He even stopped at a large shopping center, so we might pick up a few last minute items. Shortly after the "Connie" came into view as we passed over the last hill down to the port in Dover, we knew we were in for a treat. Brand new with just a few cruises under her belt, she sparkled and shined. Since we arrived around noonish, it didn't take long to board and locate our perfect cabins #7206 and #7208 in the stern of the ship with balconies five times the size of the side ones---great value for the money--Cat 1C. Our balcony had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs along with a table. It was fun to overlook the penthouse suites to see how the other half lives, also. Our cabin attendant, Ramir, was very attentive. He always made sure we had enough pillows and towels. Arriving early enough allowed us to get one of the 70 hookups for laptops on board (not many considering the number of passengers onboard). Those of us, who have to stay in touch with the office, unfortunately, need to remember to arrive early to get one of these setups. One thing about the Radiance class ships--they all have the hookups already in the cabin, which was great to send digital photos everyday to the husband, when I took the mother through the Panama Canal earlier in the year. Moving on to the dining on the ship. Most mornings with few exceptions, we had breakfast in the cabin. Ordering anything hot was challenging in the first few days, but after awhile almost everything arrived warm. Beverages were always hot, but we stopped ordering scrambled eggs after a few cold orders. I don't really think this is their fault, it really is a long way to those stern balconies. The main dining room for both food and service was terrific. Our assistant waiter from Bali, our regular waiter from Turkey and our maitre'd from South Africa were all fabulous and would like to commend them for the terrific celebration they put together for our friends' 18th anniversary!! Our friends loved blue cheese and they made sure every meal included it and not just any blue cheese, but Danish Blue--we haven't found any in the states to duplicate it. We used the ships excursions only for Saint Petersburg, because we didn't want to bother with visas. On the last excursion in Saint Petersburg, we had the railway delay our return to the ship by 30-45 minutes, so the ship waited for us since we were on her excursion. The rest of the ports we either shared cabs or used public transportation. It really was a great itinerary Dover, LaHarve (shared cab and saw the beaches and monuments of Normandy and the little quaint town of Honfluer), Oslo(public transport around to the sights),Copenhagen( cabs and public transport),Waramunde (train to Rostock), Tallin (walked around town), St Pete, Helsinki (public transport) and Stockholm(ferries and other types of public transport). Entertainment still needs work. They had a great piano player and singer from London, good dancers, staging and band--but fire those Celebrity singers. Makes me wonder how you would know that Celebrity is part of RCCL--Since RCCL has some of the best entertainment at sea. We really loved the ship!!!! Happy Cruising!!!shesurfs@comcast.netSeptember 2002 Read Less
On December 14th we returned from a 7-day "Southern" Caribbean cruise originating in San Juan, Puerto Rico, including stops in St. Croix, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St. Thomas; in other words, mostly Eastern Caribbean or West ... Read More
On December 14th we returned from a 7-day "Southern" Caribbean cruise originating in San Juan, Puerto Rico, including stops in St. Croix, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St. Thomas; in other words, mostly Eastern Caribbean or West Indies ports. This was our sixth cruise and our first trip on a Millennium-class ship. Four others were also Celebrity cruises on the Zenith, Galaxy, and Century; we have also taken one Royal Caribbean cruise. We generally book far in advance as we prefer to arrange our own air transportation and our work schedules are predictable. We selected this cruise because it offered several new ports for us and would serve as a good introduction to cruising to our brother and sister in law, who live in the upper Midwest and were seeking warmth and sunshine. In a nutshell, our cruise experience can be summarized in three main points. First, our cruise experience was excellent. Second, we felt secure on and off the boat. Third, the surprise best port of call was our originating and terminating port, San Juan. Arriving in San Juan We arrived two days prior to embarkation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, because we were traveling on frequent flier miles and there were limited seats available even though we set up the trip nine months in advance. This was a fortuitous turn of events, however, because it provided opportunity to reduce the jet lag from the 4-hour time zone difference from the West Coast and also allowed us to get better acquainted with Old San Juan. We'd booked two nights in the Wyndham Old San Juan directly across the street from Pier 3, where we'd embarked two years earlier on our Century Panama Canal millennial cruise. We'd gotten an excellent hotel rate through a web-based promotion which included both breakfast and happy hour in the hotel concierge lounge. Shortly before we left home, we found out that the Constellation would not dock at Pier 3 but at Pier 6 across the bay so we lost the chance to merely wheel our luggage aboard and added a pair of cab rides. Old San Juan has a 500-year history and the forts to prove it. The old city looks deceptively small on maps. We spent the better part of four days before and after the cruise exploring this vibrant urban environment, and look forward to another chance to spend time there as an originating port for a future cruise. The combination of locals and visitors, old history and modern everyday life makes for a fascinating blend of people watching, education, entertainment, good food and strong drink. My brother and sister-in-law arrived very late the night before we boarded. When they hadn't arrived by half past midnight, I'd left a note at the front desk for them so they'd know when and where to find their complimentary breakfast, where the boat was docked, and what time to meet to share a cab ride over. As far as I can determine, this note was promptly thrown in the trash, as they did not receive it and when we asked at the front desk at mid-morning what might have happened to it, we received only a blank look in response. Embarkation On embarkation day, though our travel documents listed boarding time as 1 p.m., we showed up about 11:30 in the morning, hoping to avoid lines and extend our cruise even if only a few hours. There were perhaps 50 persons already in line in front of us, and a kiosk with a "GTY" sign to provide cabin assignment to cruisers with guarantee category bookings. The actual embarkation process began a few minutes after we arrived. We moved through several short lines before embarking about noon and being escorted to our cabin. On boarding, we were handed a sheet of paper stating what was available at such early hours and throughout the afternoon; the Seaside Cafe opened its first buffet at 12:30. After putting down our carry-ons, I wanted to ask the room steward to empty the fee-based minibar. He was nowhere in sight but the cabin phone had a labeled speed-dial button. Thinking I'd get the housekeeping supervisor, I was surprised when our steward, John, answered telling us he was having his lunch and would take care of our request as soon as he finished. Apparently each steward is now issued a cell phone. Our cabin was decorated with an orange print bedspread and a solid greenish sofa; our brother's cabin had the same green fabric on his oversized chair; the length differential between the two is the fundamental difference between a standard and premium cabin size. The fabric was dimensional, e.g. had a good texture and natural fiber, but the bed tended to look rumpled with almost no effort; the sofa and matching desk chair had numerous stains on the fabric. For a ship that is only seven months in service, I found these stains visually shocking when I first arrived in the room, and uncharacteristic for a space in many ways comparable to a business-class hotel in the states. Our balcony, accessible by a sliding glass door, held two plastic-webbed chairs and a small glass-topped table. The bathroom contained adequate shelving for our sundries. Included in the bathroom are lotion, soap, and shampoo; however, the quality and range of these amenities were below those found in a business hotel stateside. Some travelers would be satisfied with these products, if avoiding packing them were a prime goal; others would find them unacceptable. We called our brother to say we'd come down and walk the boat together to get oriented. The telephone system includes caller ID so when we called, my brother's name and room number appeared on the telephone display; similarly, it displayed his name and number every time he called us. Having missed his complimentary breakfast at the hotel, he was already hungry so we agreed to make it a quick tour. I wanted to be sure to go by the AquaSpa and book a massage for the one day we'd be at sea, a day where bookings can be hard to obtain, so I quickly ran upstairs and made an appointment. There were only a few times still available, and also no advance booking of half hour massages, though they suggested I might find it possible to get a half hour later in the week on one of the port days. A Top-to-bottom Tour of the Ship Back at the cabin, we went down to Deck 2, Continental, to pick up my brother and sister-in-law. The four of us took the elevator to the Deck 11, Sunrise, and began working our way back down to the bottom. First we took the stairs up to the Sports deck to check out the basketball court. While adding this court is an impressive effort by the cruise line and a substantial improvement over a former lonely single hoop, the avid pick-up basketball player in our group ultimately spent very little time on court. In port, the playing service is brutally hard; at sea, wind and boat motion interfere with shooting, particularly on the less sheltered end of the court. There were a number of basketball-related activities onboard; the court attracted mostly a younger crowd perhaps more accustomed to playground courts. Back on the Sunrise deck, we checked out the jogging track, which is comprised of a composite surface applied to steel. It is knee-breaking hard to run on in port, but much better when ship is in motion; the boat's mild rocking cushioning the impact. The track is a bit narrow and jogging when many people are sunning is difficult. But early in the mornings, walkers and joggers were able to command the track. One significant improvement over former cruises is the deck staff's management of this space; on all prior trips early morning jogs were more like steeplechases, with many chairs askew and leftovers from late night eating and drinking laying about. On this trip, by the time I went topside between six and six-thirty in the morning, conscientious deck staff had made certain every chair was in place and pushed back from the marked track area; every dish, glass, and wayward napkin was tidied up. One more interesting aspect of this ship is the use of Plexiglas to increase connectivity between floors. A skylight from the Sunrise deck allows natural light into the Seaside Cafe. In the mornings, walking or running laps was made more interesting by peering down each lap upon the wait staff setting up the buffet for morning diners. Also on this deck is the large forward Reflections lounge, similar in design if larger in size to all forward lounges on other ships. Most of the late-night dancing occurred in this lounge. Down one floor to the Resort deck, where we came to the Seaside Cafe and Grill at one end and the AquaSpa and 18-and-over thalassotherapy pool area at the other. Two pools and four hot tubs can be found midship. We hurried past this floor so as not to be stopped by hunger from our goal of orienting ourselves prior to lunch. We could see the gym equipment was outstanding, with a half dozen elliptical trainers, an equal number of treadmills, free weights and a variety of strength training machines. There were three benches in a small free-weight area bolted to the floor, spaced too closely together in the small area. With only one other person in the area sitting on the middle bench, I was unable to bench press using the barbell at the bench as it would have hit this other person in the head! I had to ask my spouse to spot for me as a basic spotting rack ubiquitous in sports club was not part of the exercise equipment. I also spotted a fellow passenger who wanted to try using the barbell. It would have been an extra value if there had been staff assigned for general questions and simple instruction even thirty minutes a day. The majority of aerobic classes were available only for a $10 charge; these included yoga, Pilates, and spinning. Only mundane stretching and aerobics were non-fee classes. The next four decks, Sky, Panorama, Vista, and Penthouse, were mostly given over to cabins. We prefer a cabin nestled between two other floors of cabins, and on this cruise had an excellent portside cabin midship/forward on the Panorama deck. Struts on the Sky deck support the overhanging Resort deck, keep those balconies in nearly perpetual shade. The Panorama deck experienced a modest degree of this shading effect. Depending on the cruise itinerary and one's own preferences, more or less shade or protection from weather may be desirable and should be a consideration in selecting a cabin. Within categories 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2A, 2B, 2C, the pricing is nearly identical. Aesthetics of location and the value of a few extra square feet would be our suggestion in deciding on a cabin. The high proportion of cabins with verandas creates substantial semi-private spaces for passengers, freeing up space in the public areas for passengers in ocean view or inside cabins and creating a more spacious environment throughout the boat. We spent time every day on our veranda and I enjoyed several friendly chats when on occasion our neighbors were also leaning over the to check out the action below coming into or leaving ports of call. We found with the good weather in the Caribbean, the veranda functioned as an extra room. The sliding door was virtually soundproof, so if my spouse was watching television in the cabin, I could sit outside with a cool drink and it was very quiet. Midship on these four decks of cabin were the Words and Notes public areas, providing library and music services. Because we were visiting this space early on the first day, the librarian was present and books on many topics were available. One of us checked out a book to enjoy on the trip. The chairs in these spaces were similar to the chair in my brother's cabin, a goodly size but not the indulgent oversized chairs found in the library on the Galaxy or Century. Perhaps because this was a port intensive cruise, these public spaces seemed little used and always uncrowded. The next two decks, Entertainment and Promenade, were anchored by the Celebrity Theater on one end and the San Marcos Restaurant at the other. In between were shops, lounges, and midship the upper two stories of the Grand Foyer with its marquee illuminated onyx stairwell and gold lame floor to ceiling drapes. Outside on the Promenade deck is the best location on the boat for those with inside or ocean view cabins who would like to spend some quiet time breathing the sea air and watching the waves. Deck 4 is also where the Internet Cafe is located. We did not spend the $100 for network access from our cabins, but my brother, on his first cruise, visited the Internet Cafe nearly every day, happily sending brief messages to his coworkers back in the icy Midwest. The Internet Cafe is beautiful -- open, airy, plenty of natural light. With high resolution flat panel displays and moderately speedy satellite wireless service, this is a first rate facility, if pricey at 50 cents per minute. In addition to fee-based services, several free computer classes were offered each day. Deck 3, Plaza, was the focal point for many cruise-related services. It's the first space a passenger sees upon boarding, and the last seen on the way out. Midship are found Guest Relations, Shore Excursions, the Bank, the Future Sales area, and four glass-enclosed elevators. Guest Relations hosts the "Lost and Found"; I had to make two trips there, resulting in two "found" objects. Forward from midship on deck 3 are cabins; aft is where the Cinema and Conference Center can be found on one side, the Ocean Liners fee-based specialty restaurant on the other. We didn't make reservations for Ocean Liners. My first inclination would have included it mostly because we have tried basically everything on the main dining room menu and there are new dishes at the highly praised specialty restaurant. But my brother and sister-in-law hadn't eaten in the regular dining room and didn't see the point in spending the extra money for Ocean Liners. Philosophically, we don't like the idea of paying extra for food or drinks on the cruise when much more than enough has already been paid for, so we make a point of sticking with standard fare. As an alternative for new food at no extra cost, we ate spa lunch every day, which included great things like sushi (vegetarian), tofu with bulgur wheat, pork loin, a dish that I swear was chicken biryani though I think it was labeled chicken with rice, and sliced turkey. With the exception of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", most of the movies shown have already been released on video/DVD. For passengers who don't go to movies often, some might offer a first viewing. Also, the theater has very good acoustics. So if you already saw, say, "We Were Soldiers" on DVD or at a theater, you might actually enjoy seeing the picture just as much or more a second time on the ship. The ceiling in front of the screen has a reflective quality that can be slightly distracting with certain kind of light intensity on the screen. This could be easily remedied with a gallon of black paint. Deck 2, Continental, was all cabins, and where my brother's ocean view cabin was located. He much enjoyed the view from this vantage point close to the water. Deck 1 provided the gangway for most ports of call, and also housed the Medical Center. Social Activities Onboard Perhaps nothing is more personal than the activities selected when one has free time. The Constellation offers a variety of directed and non-directed choices, from movies and bingo to the library, card room, and listening gallery. We selected only a few of the wide range of offerings and found all our time enjoyably occupied. We attended about half of half the nightly shows, my brother and his wife attended all of most of them and rated them excellent. For my part, I would wake up early every morning and walk a few miles on deck. Then we'd have breakfast and in this port-intensive itinerary would spend a half day of sightseeing. We'd return in time for spa lunch in the Thalassotherapy pool area. After lunch, I'd go out again for some last minute shopping. Returning back midafternoon, we'd have time for more deck walking and a workout at the gym, then shower and dress for main seating dinner. Ours was always one of the last tables to finish, often running to two hours each night of everybody gabbing. Our wait staff, Kaya and Monica, never showed any impatience over this behavior even though they clearly had work to do re-setting the table for late seating, and on one night Kaya even put forward a considerable effort folding paper napkins into long stemmed roses for each of the ladies at the table. In addition to our foursome, our table included Farrell and Micky, a retired couple who travel as opportunity permits, and Steve and his son Brendan from Green Bay, and two empty chairs. This was not our initial table assignment as despite calls to Celebrity prior to the boarding, we were not initially seated with my brother and his wife, and so we had to have our table assignment corrected on boarding. This table of ten was oval rather than round, resulting in two separate conversations occurring at each end. It took some effort each evening to rearrange ourselves to give each equal time seated near others. After dinner, we would catch the show or go to a movie or watch a movie in the room before going to sleep. We were invited to a few early evening cocktail parties, including one for members of the Captain's Club and another for Repeaters. At each of these parties, a waiter at the door offered flutes of Champagne and glasses of wine. These drinks had been poured some time in advance, and unfortunately had warmed to room temperature. After the first party, we made a point of ordering drinks instead. On all occasions we were promptly served custom drinks, and never were left with an empty glass for very long before one or several staff members stopped to ask if we needed another or to make sure we had been served. As a result of this quality of attention, on several days we were able to wend our way directly from the party into the dining room for dinner, fresh drinks in hand. Perhaps this saddened our sommelier, but we were quite happy not to incur the cost of drinks with dinner. I'd like to dispel any sense that we are cheap tightwads, by saying that we used the money saved this way to supplement the recommended tips to our cabin steward and wait staff. Going the Extra Mile Two of our tablemates were big water sports fans and booked excursions every day. One intriguing option for them was the BOB (Breathing Observation Bubble) excursion in St. Thomas. Even though they tried to book this the first day, it had sold out rapidly. A couple of days later, they were notified that staff had arranged to put together another BOB group and were they still interested? Our dinner conversation on the way out of St. Thomas was dominated by their excited description of these odd scuba-esque scooters, and how pleased they were that the shore excursion staff had been able to accommodate this additional group. The first trip to the buffet, one of the Celebrity staff was posted by the elevators to direct passengers toward the buffet. I thought this was a nice touch for newly embarked passengers. I was surprised to see this person posted there every day, every meal, making sure people did not have even a momentary sense of dislocation. Noted Improvements In the several years since Celebrity was acquired by Royal Caribbean as part of an ongoing consolidation in the industry, there has been on every cruise a continuing fear and grumbling about whether the quality of food, service, and the overall experience has declined. This discussion continues and nothing in this review will likely alter the opinions of many of the discussants. However, this cruise put to rest in our own mind the idea that the line is in major decline. We saw many small improvements that directly relate to prior passenger concerns and felt that the food we ate on this week equaled the quality of our original knock-your-socks-off cruise experience. Here are some things we noticed: Signage pointed the way to coffee during hours when the buffet drink stations were closed. There were always coffee cups available, something I've had to chase down crew members to obtain on other ships on occasion. The printed "good night" cards left on our pillows along with chocolates now are whimsical children's drawings depicting "dreams at sea," part of Celebrity's sponsorship of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. There's greater variety and broader placement of artwork in cabin hallways and stairwells. Personally, I found the pieces created a strong contemplative state of mind. On the first day, it was great fun observing passengers' reactions as they wandered past the gorilla and fish sculpture above the main pools. I would have enjoyed a brochure describing all the artwork, the artists, and the any underlying ideas and themes in their selection. Perhaps something like this could be found at Guest Relations, but I neglected to ask. This cruise made better use of the cinema. The movie of the day was shown several times, and sometimes two movies were shown on the same day. A lecturer provided intellectual stimulus for those among us feeling news starved. Bruno Wassertheil had been a radio correspondent in Jerusalem for over twenty years. He offered three lectures on the current situation in the Middle East creating a true "enrichment series" as billed in the Constellation Daily. The Decline of the AquaSpa If there was one area where this cruise showed serious decline over past cruises, it was in the management of the superb fitness and health area. The "AquaSpa by Elemis," seems to be devolving into a shop for Elemis products and spa services and only peripherally to continue to include some square feet of public passenger space devoted to health and exercise. It was unclear why there were four persons behind the reception desk, as their presence did not improve the speed or efficiency of booking appointments or matching clients with their assigned spa staff. The waiting area near the desk had only a couple of chairs, so clients were directed to a set of chairs around a corner, where a state of "out of sight, out of mind" existed. My own appointment, made within minutes of boarding to assure a spot on the day at sea, was misallocated to another person despite my checking in with the reception desk three separate times. The error was not even acknowledged nor verified for more than a quarter hour, while my massage minutes were being chewed up through staff mismanagement. This mistake meant that the "consultation sheet" which I had filled out and which included my full name and cabin number was used in the initial "consultation" with a completely different person who had no appointment for that day and time and who clearly was not even asked if she was the person who had filled out the form just a few minutes earlier. Of course, with this level of quality control, she did not receive the spa service she had originally booked, and I lost my appointment with my assigned masseuse. Ultimately, another masseuse was located and though I did not have a stop watch and cannot say whether I received a 50-minute massage, I did receive at least the bulk of my requested service. The entire experience was unnerving, and I received no formal apology or compensation for this problem, while my the bill included a ten-percent built-in gratuity. I wrote up a long comment on the incident, including my name and cabin number, and submitted it to Guest Relations that evening. I never heard back on my comment, and do not know if it was even forwarded to the AquaSpa management. In addition to my personal trouble, there were other signs of a switch from a health club onboard to a superstore selling health- and beauty-related products. More than half the group classes were fee-based. Personal trainers were available for a charge, but often no one seemed available for even a few minutes' explanation of equipment or assistance with free weights. Celebrity once offered a fitness program with punch cards that passengers could fill with cruise staff walk-alongs or fitness staff classes, thereby earning points exchangeable on the last day for t-shirts or hats, but this program has been discontinued. Friendly trainers have been replaced with Elemis product salespeople. These changes send a message that fitness is not for everybody, costs extra, and there's no point getting started on a cruise; impressions, sadly, being generated on a ship with the finest fitness center and equipment we've ever enjoyed at sea. Ports of Call There are only a few things we'd like to include about the ports of call, particularly since many changes are occurring in which ports are going to be used, even for the rest of this current season in the Caribbean. One unexpected and unanticipated plus in our particular itinerary this week was the absence of other big cruise ships in port with the Constellation in all stops save St. Thomas and starting/ending in San Juan. This meant the streets were not jammed with tourists and we were able to join many local residents when meandering through downtown districts, improving each port's local flavor and hopefully diminishing the negative impacts associated when cruisers arrive in swarms. Most importantly, we had a terrific time in Old San Juan and are quite happy that at the turn of events that resulted in our staying there four nights. St. Croix is being dropped, but we enjoyed our day in Christiansted visiting the fort, enjoying a cool drink on the boardwalk, and shopping. St. Lucia has the best batik store I've ever seen, combined with the best prices imaginable. It's called Caribelle Batik, and you'll need to take a taxi there. We were charged about twice what I would think was a fair rate, but we were late getting going after lunch and didn't want to risk getting stranded somewhere and missing the boat. In my mind it turned out to be fair because he ended up waiting nearly an hour while we tried on things and looked at the various outfits which included casual and business attire in cotton and silk, all made locally. On Barbados, I took my only Celebrity-sponsored shore excursion, the Kayak and Turtle Encounter. I selected this excursion and its early morning time slot in part because I knew it would be arduous and thought the exertion and the time of day would make it less desirable to the majority of passengers thus resulting in a more intimate experience. There were only nine on our excursion, three couples, two friends, and me. The three persons who drove our boat, explained local life, snorkeled and kayaked with us, talked about everything and nothing for hours. In addition to experiencing sea kayaking (me for the first time), we snorkeled in stunningly azure waters about twenty feet deep where turtles visit because they are being fed. A number of other small groups were also snorkeling to view the turtles. Each time one appeared, everybody got quite excited which naturally resulted in the turtle turning tail and slowly swimming away to calmer waters. I had a great time, was able to follow one turtle for some distance and touched another. After the snorkeling, we took the boat back to the ship, a pleasant half-hour or hour ride during which we listened to ancient and familiar party music, drank beer, soda or rum punch, and shared tasty seemingly homemade banana bread. Truly a highlight of the trip. We enjoyed visiting the local historical sites in St. John's, Antigua, walking distance from the pier. There's a small museum, a cathedral up the hill with a flower-filled cemetery out front and a chapel with a World War I propeller fashioned into an overhead light, and good shopping on Redcliffe Quay. Too late to improve my looks that last formal night, I found a beauty salon where I could've got a manicure/pedicure for about half the cost on the ship. On previous cruises, we have enjoyed wandering around Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. We had a practice of finding a shady or breezy viewpoint where we could enjoy a cool drink and watch activities in the harbor, before browsing for small trinkets or sweets downtown. All the places where we used to do this no longer allow cruisers these simple pleasures. Most notably, both the 1829 Hotel and the Inn at Blackbeard's Castle are now owned by the same person, who closes the former location's patio till 4 pm and charges $12 to visit the national landmark of Blackbeard's Castle, which formerly was unfenced and a free site to visit. Next time, we won't even leave the boat at St. Thomas, or will get off solely to take the water taxi to visit St. John. This is a special loss for us as it was St. Thomas where we arrived on the first morning of our first cruise, and were enchanted by birdsong in the main harbor. Now, at Havensight, we hear only the ceaseless noise of nearby machinery and the welcome mat for cruisers has been rolled up tight. Foreign travel is not as carefree as it was just a few years ago. The added security provided by the cruise line has been automated thorough measures such as photos taken upon embarkation so whenever we came back on board each of us would put our Celebrity signature card into the machine and our picture would pop up onscreen. All hand luggage went through an x-ray similar to those at the airports. This automation meant that despite the added security, we experience no lines getting on and off the ship. Before docking in St. Thomas, everyone was required to present identification and be individually verified by US officials. Each cabin was given an assigned time and place to show up. In our case this process took less than two minutes, but my brother and his wife were not so fortunate, and for whatever reason those assigned their time ended up waiting nearly a half hour for Customs officials to view and approve their identities. A Sidebar on NLV This cruise occurred with peaking media coverage of Norwalk-like virus numbers reported on several cruise ships. At ports of call, locals offered inaccurate assessments of viral outbreaks, such as a taxi driver who said, "Germs are floating off the boat and making people sick," and a hotel clerk who said, "We have to have the air conditioning on high to protect against the cruise ship people who are coming to the hotel." Cruise management more correctly noted that the best defense was thorough hand washing and reduced personal contact. It seemed to work, as everyone talked about how much they were washing their hands, and I saw less evidence of colds, coughs, and other maladies than on other cruises. Disembarkation The saddest time on a good cruise is when one has to leave the ship. This was the smoothest disembarkation ever in San Juan. On prior cruises, hallways were clogged with luggage on the last night and in the morning everybody sat in crowded lounges for long periods of time. Unlike earlier trips, on this cruise the crew collected luggage throughout the evening so the halls stayed mostly clear. After breakfast in the dining room, we were virtually alone in the Thalassotherapy pool area for less than fifteen minutes before our color group was called. The final Constellation Daily noted that it might take till 10 a.m. or later for the ship to be cleared to allow people to begin to get off, but the process went much faster. Color groups also included numbers, and our luggage was in the precise color and number group location, plus our three bags remained together. Again, because of our frequent flier tickets, we spent two more nights at the Wyndham Old San Juan before flying home. This gave us time to visit the second major fort, do some final shopping of nice things we saw the week early while saving our spending money for ports of call, and have a great last night's supper at the Cafeteria Mallorca. We also caught up on our web surfing at Soapy's just across from Pier 3 and down the street from the Wyndham (Soapy's also has a cafe in St. Thomas on the 2nd floor of the Guardian Bldg on Frenchman's Bay Road above the Budget Car Rental estimate about 10 minutes walk from the dock in Havensight but we didn't learn this till back in San Juan so didn't stop there.) This terrific little facility contains about 20 terminals; you buy an access card for the approximate time you want (six dollars for 50 minutes, for instance.) Soapy's also has two DHCP data ports so if you have your laptop, you just attach and go, billed at $2.50 per half hour increment, a sixth of the cost on the ship, not begrudging the cost or the value of the satellite service onboard. I have left out many aspects of the cruise thinking that I've tried the reader's patience with this already long review. I hope you find it helpful and have a terrific cruise on the Constellation or wherever you may go. cmhoriuc@pacbell.net March 2003 Read Less
Western Europe Perhaps the greatest impact the cruise ship "Constellation" had on me was seeing a chandelier made by glass artist Dale Chahuly (he aptly named his work "Constellation Chandelier 2002"). It was hanging ... Read More
Western Europe Perhaps the greatest impact the cruise ship "Constellation" had on me was seeing a chandelier made by glass artist Dale Chahuly (he aptly named his work "Constellation Chandelier 2002"). It was hanging over a beautiful red velvet settee named " Tatlin" made by Italian artists Rocky Semprini and Mario Caransi. The items were in a walk-in glass tower in the upper deck of the ship. I caught a glimpse of the work of art through the tower's glass roof, just about sunset. The sun's rays touched numerous fingers of the chandelier and the effect was magical and radiant. The enchanting sight utterly enraptured me. It is part of a contemporary art collection that tastefully abounds on the ship. The Constellation is a friendly ship. Passengers and crew alike greeted each other with a smile and a hearty hail when they meet. The captain plus his officers are Greek, the cruise staff are American /European and the hotel staff are at least 50 nationalities. I made an effort to know the names of everyone I met on the ship specially the hotel personnel and greeted them in their indigenous tongue. I learned to say please, thank you, hello, goodbye, good morning, good night in Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Croatian, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Indonesian, Thai, Hindi, Arabic, and in Filipino which is my native tongue. They all spoke English and didn't hesitate to teach you new foreign words when asked. Food on the Constellation was superb. It was extremely well prepared and beautifully presented. Each dish was a work of art. The bread & pastry were baked to delicate perfection. The ship made their own ice cream and it tasted homemade. It came in exotic flavors like teramisu, rum raisin, cinnamon, guava, mango and other fruit flavor. They served it behind two immaculate counters in bowls or oversized cones. We dined at the San Marco Restaurant that could seat 1170 people in two floors, and the buffet style Seaside Cafe that could hold 754 casual diners. My favorite place to eat was the Aqua Dome Cafe that I did not discover until two days before leaving the ship. They served light and healthy breakfasts and lunches. A chef cooks ala-carte meals to order. I still savor the grilled tilapia and vegetables lunch today. I met a man from North Carolina at breakfast one morning. Over eggs- benedict we discussed the relative merits of the food served on the ship. " Superior and very fresh", is the way he described it. He was on his 50th cruise. Although outclassed by 27 cruises I have a tendency to agree with him. Alexj from the Ukraine was our waiter and Adrian his assistant was Romanian. These two were experts in their craft. They went about serving us dinner like choreographed ballet dancers. They were a joy to behold in action. They left not a thing out of place. We shared our meals with two congenial couples from Southern California. Betty spoke French fluently and her husband Earl was with a team that photographed nuclear tests in the Pacific. They roam the U.S and Canada in their motor home, when not cruising. Maggie and Fred loved to dance and were very good at it. Maggie is a retired real estate person and Fred an old WW2 veteran. Fernando our cabin steward and his assistant Oliver were both from the Philippines. They did their work well and effortlessly. The mirrored walls were spotless. The bathroom gleamed and always stocked with neatly folded towels. A basket of fresh fruit, a water pitcher and a bucket of ice were replenished daily. The bed was already made-up when we returned to the cabin from breakfast (no matter how early). The cabin (the hotel preferred to call it stateroom) was always squeaky-clean. Cabin 3023 deck 3 was our address for the two-week cruise of Western Europe. It had about 135 square feet of space, a shower, a double bed, a writing desk, ample closet space for our two 30 inch suitcases. A large porthole gave us a good view of the ocean and made the room bright & cheerful. The 110-volt ac outlet came in handy when charging camcorder or digital camera batteries. An interactive color TV that we seldom used except to check our bills. The cabin was quiet and well insulated from outside sounds. Discreet use of the ubiquitous shipboard P.A. system made a welcomed difference in noise level. (The cabin number identified you, when checking out books from the library, using the Internet (50 cents a minute, free printing) laundry ($5.50 to dry clean a jacket that cost $7.50 at home), charging drinks etc.) Deck 3 also called the plaza deck, housed a 24 hour guest relations desk, a bank which dispensed foreign currency, the ship excursion desk, a cinema, that doubled as a chapel where Father Walter Kersey an elderly priest from San Diego celebrated Catholic Mass daily and various meeting rooms. Deck 3 amidships also located the grand foyer where an imposingly majestic onyx staircase stood uniting deck 3 with the upper levels. Bosco from India is the ship's librarian. He is impeccably dressed and looks very preppy. He is friendly, cheerful, helpful, and very knowledgeable. He keeps track of his books and keeps them under lock and key when he is not on duty. He is very liberal with books donated by passengers to the library. Some passengers forget to return borrowed books when they leave the ship. His demeanor reflects the attitude of the staff specially the guest relations' people who are eager to help passengers without patronizing them. The photo people need a bit of improvement. They have an annoying habit of rousting diners for an unwanted group picture while your soup is getting cold. The 416 capacity Reflections nightclub with its spectacular ocean and land views operated from 5pm till dawn and seldom used during daytime. It provided a haven for quiet reading or snoozing. Amanda a harpist from Wales played lovely harp melodies from classical Chopin to modern Gershwin at the Cova Cafe. They served cappuccino or a glass of wine as you listen to the soothing strings of her harp. The Scherzando Quartet from Poland also performed at the cafe. Tony Pastor a passenger from Batangas, Philippines vacationing with his family discovered an unused piano at the cafe. Much to delight of the ship he played classical music flawlessly on the piano and sang Italian arias with a beautiful tenor voice. He always attracted a bevy of admiring listeners whenever he performed. Celebrity cruises has refined "people moving" to a science. It used two gangways when the ship docked or anchored. This system minimized congestion and gridlock common to other ships. A free shuttle bus provided by the ship while in port ran every 30 minutes to the center of town. It was greatly appreciated by passengers who wanted to explore ports on their own. Our 13-night Western Europe Cruise aboard the Constellation ended on the 13th day of September 2002. Celebrity Cruises stands out because of their attention to the smallest detail. Even to their choice of font and gold lettering of "The Constellation Daily" reflects the subdued elegance that the Constellation is. The GTS (gas turbine system) Constellation is a 91,000 ton, 964 feet, 999 crew and 1950 full passenger capacity cruise ship, flying the Liberian flag and is owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises. A French shipbuilder made the vessel and launched by Celebrity Cruises in May 2002. philreamon@aol.comOctober 2002 Read Less
I am a refugee from Renaissance Cruises. While I enjoyed the Constellation on the August 31 sailing from Dover to Barcelona, and depending on itinerary and price I may cruise Celebrity in the future, I don't think that Celebrity is ... Read More
I am a refugee from Renaissance Cruises. While I enjoyed the Constellation on the August 31 sailing from Dover to Barcelona, and depending on itinerary and price I may cruise Celebrity in the future, I don't think that Celebrity is my new cruising home. I found that Celebrity has some strong plusses (the Cova Cafe, the Seaside buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and the free shuttle busses), but there were also some minuses (dEcor in the public rooms, noise in the San Marco restaurant.) Part of my problem, of course, is that I miss the non-smoking, child-free atmosphere of Renaissance, which ironically was changing those policies when it went bankrupt. Ship The Constellation is only a few months old and beautifully maintained, but the public rooms were too glitzy for my taste. The only room that I thought tried for understated elegance was the Ocean Liners Restaurant, and even there some of the pictures of ocean liners looked as though they had been clipped from travel posters. The art work generally in the ship was non-representational and I thought poor examples of the form. The San Marco Restaurant was over the top with color, lights, and adornment, especially brass. I also thought the restaurant was noisy, which is probably to be expected since it seats 1,170. I was seated on the fifth deck balcony of the restaurant. I was alert to vibrations because other posters on these boards had mentioned them. The only times I could feel anything at all-and it was insignificant--was when we pushed away from a dock. (I was at the early seating.) Others on the ship told me that vibrations were noticeable in front of the large windows aft on the fourth deck. The cabins were more to my taste: light colored paneling, mirrors, straightforward furnishings. The effect was cheery and bright. Closet and drawer space was satisfactory, and the bedside lights were strong enough for reading which is important to me. My cabin was on the Continental Deck. I was never bothered by vibrations or noise, but there was a racket when we dropped anchor in Villefranche. The rubber anchor chain has yet to be invented. I spoke with a couple of ships officers about the past problems with the propulsion pods. From what I was told, the failures of the pods were due to assembly shortcomings and not design or engineering adequacy. The pods have been put together correctly now and should continue to operate as designed (although an engineering officer admitted his department was keeping a close eye on them.) Service I found the staff to be up to the par of Holland America, Windstar, or Renaissance. That is a high par to be at and they all seem about equal to me. We had one special needs child aboard, and I cannot imagine how the dining room staff could have been more attentive in bringing him special foods and giving him extra attention. Their concern for his comfort and well-being was unfeigned. Food and Wine The Seaside buffet is the best of its kind that I have ever been to at sea. I put together some excellent light lunches of soup and salad at the buffet, and I particularly recommend the gazpacho. These lunches helped me end the cruise without gaining weight. At breakfast there was an ample assortment of fruit (the melons were perfectly ripe), yogurts with accompaniments, cereal, and a range of diet-busting croissants, brioche, eggs and breakfast meats. I will admit to having eggs Benedict twice in the San Marco dining room, and the second time they were better than the first. I found the restaurant was better with straightforward main dishes than more elaborate ones, and my meals improved as I learned what I considered the San Marco's strengths. Rack of lamb and even the Chateaubriand were excellent, but dishes with more elaborate preparation or sauces were not as good, and the duck was an example. I thought this was true too in the Ocean Liners restaurant, where the lamb would have been better without its pastry wrapping. I am glad I tried Ocean Liners, but I did not go back. I owe a debt to other posters for information on wine, particularly NHCruisers. Thank you. The information was correct. I brought aboard bottles at Vigo, Lisbon, and Palma, and never had the slightest problem. My practice was to read the dinner menu posted outside the San Marco and give the appropriate bottle to the Room Steward along with the table number and sitting. The bottle appeared at the dinner table, chilled if required, and I was charged $12 which was cheap considering the overpriced wine list on the Constellation. I invited the excellent sommelier to try the wine with us. He was a fount of information and liked trying new wines. I learned a great deal, especially about albarinos, and I like to think the sommelier may have picked up one or two pointers too. Cova Cafe This venue was my favorite by a wide margin. After dinner the Scherzando Quartet treated the Cova to old standards; or Amanda Whiting, a talented charmer, would play the harp. It is a wonderful cafe with some of the best espresso I have had. Entertainment The cruise director, Ray Carr, has come in for some knocks on this board for not being seen around the ship, but my experience was that he runs a good program. Amanda Whiting, the Scherzando, Karen & Carl in the Rendez-Vous, and the other groups had the support they needed. The entertainment programs ran smoothly, including a midnight buffet on deck, and I enjoyed his TV programs. I want the cruise director to be working for me, not to be seen by me. Lindsay Hamilton's two shows were high points the cruise, and she is the best singer I have heard on any cruise. I don't usually like "Broadway-style" or "Las Vegas-style" shows (do Broadway or Las Vegas have "Cruise-style" shows?), but if you like them you will like what the Constellation offers. An Irish comedian on the last night, whose name I did not catch, was a side-splitter. The enrichment lectures I thought were nowhere near as good as Holland America does, but I have it on good authority that the florist aboard gives talks that should not be missed by anyone with an interest in flowers. I also had a nice tour of the galley which I inquired about because of this board. (Bridge tours were not being given for security reasons.) The gymnasium and library were both well run and well equipped. I took a free class in the Excel spread sheet, and learned enough to consider charging off part of the cruise as a legitimate business expense. (Just kidding, IRS, but it was a well taught introduction to Excel.) Embarkation and Debarkation Embarkation was smooth. Thanks to this board I had completed the passenger questionnaire at the Celebrity web site and it was available to the shore staff. I arrived at a little after noon, there was no line, and within minutes I was having lunch at the Seaside buffet. Debarkation was more difficult. My luggage was misplaced twice, once on the pier and for a longer time at the airport, but that was the evil genius of luggage at work and Celebrity's shore personnel were most helpful in locating the bags, particularly Xavier at the airport. Miscellaneous The Constellation generously ran free shuttles from the ship to downtown Zebrugge, Le Harve, Lisbon, Palma, and Livorno. The other ports did not need shuttles. I estimate the busses save passengers about 8 to 10 dollars each way and are a counter-argument to the accusation of nickel and diming. The photographers were usually unobtrusive, which I appreciate, but at Vigo they blocked the bottom of the sole gangway to photograph everyone debarking. This slowed the process and I was just in time to see my train pull out of the Vigo Station for Santiago. Photographers did not block the gangway after Vigo. Thanks to advice I received on this board I brought an old bathing suit for the Thalassotherapy Pool. The bathing suit faded even more but the pool was well worth it. We had one pain-in-the-neck child on the cruise, but that was only to be expected since there were more than 40 aboard. Generally they behaved properly and the youth staff seemed to have enough programs for the youngsters, including a tour behind the scenes at the Celebrity Theatre. On the previous cruise the kids had broken the passengers' ping pong table by sitting on it, but I can see my own children doing that when they were young. I did not take any of the ship's excursions, but if there is any interest in my tours ashore I will be glad to answer questions. Upsilon6@aol.comOctober 2002 Read Less
Sail Date: October 2003
Ship was beautiful. No question about it. Cabins are good...not great. But what the Constellation suffered the most from is poor quality food that lacked any real flavor. The meals were boring and at best reminded me of first class airline ... Read More
Ship was beautiful. No question about it. Cabins are good...not great. But what the Constellation suffered the most from is poor quality food that lacked any real flavor. The meals were boring and at best reminded me of first class airline food. The formal dining room for breakfast and lunch were terrible. Meats were chewy and tough. It was obvious that the food had been sitting for a long time before it came to the table. The cruise lines have dumbed down cooking to the art of the "bland" that offends no one but has little flavor or meaning. What I would expect once I hit nursing home age. By then end of the first week, we made a point of eating lunch off the ship in each port because the freshness and taste were far superior than what we got onboard. As well it is also apparent, that the cruise line do not seriously want to help or support travelers who do not wish to spend a fortune on their overpriced land excursions by providing real information on how to reach a local bus or train to go into the cities such as Florence, Rome or Messina. The agents at the exit will point to the direction of the train or tell you to take a taxi but never seemed to know how much we should spend, or what a train ride would cost. This is because the cruise line outsources the shore excursions and to provide alternative and cheaper ways into the cities, would cut into their profits. Most people do no realize the ships outsource the shops, spas, tours and just about everything else that is not welded to the ship. I have taken 7 Celebrity Cruises and the quality of the food has gone down hill considerably from even 3 years ago. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
There were a few negatives, as there always will be in the course of a week on the water, but all in all this was a first class cruise. Value for money for the Concierge Class cabin was superb and our group had an absolutely wonderful ... Read More
There were a few negatives, as there always will be in the course of a week on the water, but all in all this was a first class cruise. Value for money for the Concierge Class cabin was superb and our group had an absolutely wonderful cruise experience none will soon forget. We're already working on the next one. SHIP, EMBARKATION, AND CABINS: We had sailed on the Millennium in September of '02 and loved that ship, but the Connie is even more beautifully appointed, newer and still squeaky clean and is she elegant! Embarkation was handled so well that some cruisers in our group barely had time to complete their paperwork. Too soon is better than a line and too long. We were off to the ramp in a mere matter of moments. We were already very happy campers. This was our first experience in a Concierge Class cabin (on the Sky Deck) so we were anxious to see what differences there would be between CC and our usual balcony cabin. What a pleasant surprise. The CC class cabins on Deck 9 are furnished in light, almost white-washed wood with pale turquoise green and pastel gold fabrics. This certainly makes the cabins look and feel more spacious than the warmer tones we've seen used on Celebrity in the past. Brilliant! There was a full-size bottle of Bouvet Brut on ice waiting on the table for us. Next to that, a bowl of fresh fruit. A beautiful vase of fresh, pale lavender flowers sat on the desktop and a fresh yellow baby rosebud in a bud vase in the bathroom. And the nice, thick towels and bathmat Celebrity had promised in the literature were absolutely begging me to shower...a luscious pale shell pink. (They will sell you a new set at a reasonable price.) We were definitely getting into a good cruise mood! It didn't take us long to settle in and our luggage arrived relatively promptly. We were in a group of four couples that had met on previous Celebrity cruises (Galaxy and Millennium). In touch via email over the years, all had booked CC cabins on Deck 9, three in the general area of mid-ship aft, and one in 9043 forward. All agreed on the attractiveness of the new pastel decor. The couple in cabin 9141 said they experienced quite a bit of noise through the ceiling from the cafeteria above but in 9131 and 9133 it didn't seem to be a problem. The couple in 9043 had requested that specific cabin as they particularly liked the triangular configuration of the balcony, but we preferred the standard rectangle one. Different strokes for different folks. Contrary to postings on the Cruise Critic Message Boards, none of us found the overhang above the balconies to be of any consequence at all. In fact, the overhang provided some shelter from the sun as it was going down in the evenings. The cabins were beautiful and comfortable. The closet and drawer space was adequate, the same as on all other Celebrity ships. The bathroom towels and bathrobes were a nice touch of luxury. The bed was comfortable, though it didn't seem any different from previous Celebrity cabins despite promotion of a pillowtop mattress in CC. There was an order form in the cabin so that you could order a different pillow if you felt you needed one, but the standard pillow was what was there on arrival and it was fine. Loved the duvet, very cozy. Air conditioning worked well and we barely turned on the tele. When we did, it worked fine. Concerns over the mini-bar proved to be foundless...Celebrity doesn't use the sensors that charge automatically when an object is moved, or removed. SHIP'S MOTION: Having read concerns and disagreements on the Cruise Critic Message Boards about the motion of the Millennium class ships in comparison to other cruise lines, I was perhaps more attentive to this concern than usual. On Millennium I had never noticed the ship's motion at all. On Century, my husband had had to take sea sick pills to get to dinner. We had a lot of rocking and rolling on Galaxy as we hit a pretty wild thunderstorm during the week of that cruise but I actually enjoyed it. Sovereign of the Seas was fine when we sailed on her and Windsurf was an experience at sea I'd never want to duplicate (as in porthole underwater). I'd have to say that perhaps because I was paying attention to it, I noticed quite a lot of motion on the Constellation during our week aboard her. A strange sort of vibration and creaking you could feel when you went to bed at night, but it never kept us awake and didn't make us ill. But I'd say if you're sensitive, better get drugs or a patch. Being at sea is a crapshoot. We slept like babies every night...you might not. My conclusion: it all depends on the sea, not the ship, and the passenger. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We decided on Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions on all but St. Thomas. St. Martin: My husband and I loved the Rhino Riders. Fun, fun and more fun ending up on a beautiful, quiet, white sand beach! St. Lucia: Catamaran Cruise to the Pitons was nice. Sadly it was impossible to hear the history and background on the island over the dysfunctional PA system. It might have proved interesting and the island certainly looked beautiful. Stopped at a beach for a too-short swim and were descended upon by vendors who came at us by water from all sides. A bit disconcerting. Barbados: Five Star Catamaran Cruise took the cake, a class act! Good food and first class service ending at a beautiful white sand beach. Barbados is always tops on our list. We could see 50 feet down to the bottom the water was so clear. Antigua: Catamaran Cruise to Bird Island, the shore excursion least likely to be repeated. The tiny beach proved to be less than private, was teeming in fact with cruise ship passengers as two additional cats moored nearby. We had to ferry to the beach in groups of eight in a zodiac which took some time. Our group took one look and bagged it back to the cat where we swam off the side of the boat. The water was decidedly cleaner there. Lunch was tasty, but food safety on board was disturbing. No sink in the head for washing hands (yuk) and I saw ice go into a rum punch cup via a crew member's bare hand... St. Thomas: Privately booked sail at www.sailwinifred.com. Lovely sail on an older all-wooden sailboat over to a gorgeous, quiet, white sand beach near Caneel Bay Resort on St. John. Be still my heart! Individual attention on board and in the water, a wonderful experience for unsure swimmers. Unusually good rum punch with pink grapefruit and pineapple juices finished with a touch of nutmeg! Very nice, homemade lunch. Continental breakfast was the only disappointment. Small potatoes considering the rest was so good! SERVICE: Stunningly wonderful. Cabin service: seldom have I felt so accommodated, so pampered, even in high-class luxury hotels in Europe. Only complaints would be small ones: snooty service at the Cafe Cova Milano (I hate people who want to tell me about how I should drink my coffee - I'm from Seattle) and the very frustrating inconsistencies of the drinks in the Martini Bar. Six nights and never once did we receive a martini that tasted even close to the same drink ordered the night before and prepared by the same bartender. But again, stunning service from Natalia, a real gem and Dana, a class act who remembered us from Michael's Club on the Galaxy in 2001. (How did she do that!?) I don't know how service at any price could be any better. AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST...FOOD: (Oh Nickos, you're not going to like all of this.) The food overall was a bit of a disappointment. Not quite up to what we've experienced on other Celebrity cruises. And our night in the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant was a real disappointment. Several ordered the veal, which the head waiter had heartily recommended. It was very tough. Service was very uneven, the right hand didn't seem to know what the left was doing and it did upset our evening. We had to request service from the wine steward several times and our wine still didn't arrive with our food, which is always exasperating. All attention seemed to be focused on the adjacent table, where $200 a bottle wines were being ordered. Our previous experience in the Millennium specialty restaurant had been world-class. One of our couples had gotten engaged there in September 2002. This was not in the same league. Room service meals are really quite delicious. Try 'The Mermaid' tuna platter, or 'The Mediterranean' hummus, pita and couscous platter or the wonderful Chicken Salad with Curry Mayo on a pita. Yummy! ALL IN ALL: A wonderful cruise week. Celebrity still rocks. They still appeal to our over 50's crowd who have come to expect a lot of value for money but they are also doing a great job for the thirty and forty-somethings who are not focused on providing a family experience for their children. Go for it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
This was my 8th cruise, but my first time on the Celebrity Cruise Line. Constellation: This ship was absolutely beautiful. Celebrity pays attention to small details. There is a new policy meant to make the passenger's experience ... Read More
This was my 8th cruise, but my first time on the Celebrity Cruise Line. Constellation: This ship was absolutely beautiful. Celebrity pays attention to small details. There is a new policy meant to make the passenger's experience more enjoyable by making very limited announcements. When arriving into port, only one announcement is made when the ship has been cleared. So, separate excursions are not announced. You should know when your excursions are scheduled as Celebrity will not be reminding you. The first night aboard is open dinner seating for your time selection. So, scheduled dining is at 6:00 PM (early seating) and 8:30 PM. Our ship did not leave port until around 11:00PM. It was a pleasant experience boarding. We were greeted with champagne and allowed access to our rooms at 12:00 Noon. A welcome aboard luncheon for those arriving throughout the day was available. Our room attendant was terrific. All of the staff was helpful but I felt the food staff in the Seaside Cafe could have shown more smiles. We ate in Oceanliners (not included in cruise price) for a wonderful dining experience. Well worth the $25.00 per person. Remember to tip the staff here. They more than deserve it!!! At night, after dinner, food staff employees roamed the ship serving a variety of finger foods. Nice touch!! The crew staff encouraged participation in activities throughout the ship. Ports: Our visit included Casa de Campo, Grenada, Antigua, Barbados and St. Thomas. I enjoyed all of the ports as each has it's own charm. My husband and I only booked one excursion through the ship. All other excursions were obtained on land after docking. We tendered in Grenada. Casa de Campo - I did not think there was too much to do here. There are free shuttle buses to two areas. One is the marina where there are many restaurants and a few boutiques. The other was to the medieval village. This stop is too long, but we made the best of it and had a good time. Barbados - We rented a car (big mistake for us). These roads are too narrow. Add to that driving on the left hand side of the road, making many a turn frightening. Not many places to pull over to view the spectacular scenery. We did get some beautiful pictures but were relieved to make it back to the car rental (located right outside the terminal). Grenada: Known for spices and charm, we hired a van to take 4 of us on a tour of the island. This island is also beautiful and we captured more beautiful photos. We hired the driver for $20 per person and gave him a tip at the end. We thought it was well worth the money for a 3.5 hour tour. Antigua: We also hired a driver to take us on a tour of the island. Some of the roads are not the best here and there are many speed bumps (called sleeping policemen by some). Our driver offered to take us to the rain forest also, but the roads are very bad and it was raining off and on that day. We opted for him to take us to a beach instead. $20.00 per person plus tip. St. Thomas - Shopping and our excursion to St. John. St. John was my favorite island. The water surrounding this island is every shade of blue. I would visit here again and again if I could. San Juan: wish we had more time to visit the Fort. Barcardi factory was OK. It is a self guided tour. You are given a hand held instrument requiring you to put in a corresponding number found on pictures, desks, etc. Then you listen to this hand held instrument as you are given a description corresponding to the number you put into the unit. Bacardi does not take you through the actual factory any longer. You are given 2 tickets for which you can use to get free Bacardi drinks at the outside pavilion. Notice the pavilion is shaped like a bat (the Bacardi insignia). Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Ship/Food Service: Constellation is a beautiful ship and the food and service were exceptional. All venues of Dining were superb, including the Specialty restaurant OceanLiners, and the light fare dining @ AquaSpa Cafe. There were plenty ... Read More
Ship/Food Service: Constellation is a beautiful ship and the food and service were exceptional. All venues of Dining were superb, including the Specialty restaurant OceanLiners, and the light fare dining @ AquaSpa Cafe. There were plenty of dining venues, all with great food choices. San Marco dining (first seating) was not crowded at all, as we were seated at a table for 6, and no one else ever showed up to sit with us. We ended up inviting a couple we met to dine with us, and the Dining room staff was very accommodating. Agata and Cristian were wonderful!!!The gym was well equipped, and usually not very crowded (read a little later and I'll tell you why I think this was so). The cabins were a little small compared to others, but the bathroom were a little "roomier" than others. Rafael our Cabin Stewart was superb, always greeting us with a smile on his face. Ports of Call/Excursions: Ports of call were OK. While in Barbados, I would recommend the Rain Forest Hike and Cave Adventure (for those physically fit to do so). My husband did it and it was his favorite overall. I would not recommend Grenada for snorkeling, and the tourist is "bombarded" with locals as soon as you disembark. Celebrity should consider dropping Grenada from their Itinerary and spending another day in St. Thomas, in my opinion the most beautiful of ports on the trip. The Para-sailing was fabulous there. while in Antigua, the Kayak, Snorkeling and Hike adventure was superb, thanks to our guide Anthony! Age of Passengers: Well, here goes my main criticism of the ship. I think the average age of the other passengers was 70-80! I saw more wheelchairs, walkers and canes than I wish to remember. We actually had a gentleman come to breakfast every morning in his pajamas, bathrobe and slippers, like it was the Nursing Home Dining Room ! (I couldn't believe my eyes). Needless to say, I thought the activities on the Ship were a little too tame for the younger passenger (scrabble contests, BINGO, Spelling Bees). Even the Comedian at the show (which by the way was good despite the majority of "age" related jokes) was making constant reference to the "young" crowd, obviously being sarcastic. By the way, this is why I think the Gym was never crowded, more than half the passengers would never make it to the Gym. We met other young couples in the Gym and on the walking track. OverView: An excellent Cruise for the older, less active passenger. If you want to keep busy, especially while at sea, you might want to reconsider this ship. Also, if you are traveling with young children, or teenagers, there were but a handful on Board. School vacation week, as I understand, is the week to travel with your family. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
My wife and I (ages 45 and 42, respectively) cruised on Constellation January 17-24, 2004. I am a sales engineer and my wife is a first grade teacher. I have enjoyed reading Cruise Critic reviews as we attempted to choose a cruise. That ... Read More
My wife and I (ages 45 and 42, respectively) cruised on Constellation January 17-24, 2004. I am a sales engineer and my wife is a first grade teacher. I have enjoyed reading Cruise Critic reviews as we attempted to choose a cruise. That enjoyment seems to increase after selecting a cruise, as we begin to plan activities on the upcoming trip. We have cruised 11 times, though this was our first Celebrity trip. I have never written a review before and hope this isn't too disappointing to the reading audience. Our TA had often suggested we try Celebrity, but we had always resisted due to complete satisfaction with Carnival, RCCL, and Princess and the mistaken belief that Celebrity was too expensive. This fall, however, we were amazed by the pricing offered by Celebrity for the San Juan departure of Constellation, and booked an outside cabin without balcony. A weak effort by Carnival's Jubilee o our early 2003 cruise might have also played a role, as we actually were somewhat let down by that ship's condition and by its cruise director. Our trip began with a same-day flight from Houston via Atlanta to San Juan. We have three children, so leaving early or staying over is difficult for us. We purchased trip insurance for 5% of our trip's cost, from an independent insurer and slept better as a result, during severe thunderstorms, the night before our departure. Our flights came off on time and we actually enjoyed the movie from Atlanta to San Juan (Denzel Washington as a small town police chief). Upon arrival in San Juan at 4:20 pm, we were met by Celebrity staff for the transfer bus to the ship. We paid $26 (I believe) for one-way transfers to the dock. Our luggage was tagged prior to departure from Houston and we never saw it again until it arrived in our room around 8:30 pm. We had our ticketing paperwork filled out in advance and were only momentarily delayed entering the cruise terminal in order to fill out one local document tossed at us by Celebrity employees as we left the bus. From landing at the airport, we were drinking champagne on "Connie" in less than 55 minutes. We were escorted to our room (and I failed to tip the escort, for which I feel bad now that I have read subsequent reviews in which tipping this service seems to be the right thing to do.) and were relaxing immediately. My initial impression of the ship's decor was very favorable, since we were led through wood-walled hallways into a very subdued and classy room. A little smaller than Carnival, and a little larger than Princess, the room had a refrigerator (under lock and key) that our room steward immediately opened for us. The shower was bigger than most we have seen and water pressure was moderate (i.e good for a cruise ship). Our steward, Hafit, was very good and very unobtrusive the entire week. As wine-lovers, we brought along, in my carry-on, six bottles of nice reds, and drank five of them at dinner ($12 surcharge in the dining room and $15 in Oceanliners). The other bottle became a gift for our wine steward, Edit, who was a joy each night at our table-for-two in the late seating. We were on the lower floor of the dining room and had a window view, but it was always dark while we ate so the view was limited. A summer cruise would have a sunset during dinner and would make that table quite popular. Our table service was very good, with smiles and with napkin placing done with a flourish. My favorite table service ever was on Grandeur of the Seas in 1999 (Emiel from Czechoslovakia was so good he is probably in a five star restaurant in Paris by now). The food on Connie was above average and the creme brulee was as good as I have had. I'd give the overall food a 8 out of 10, with Oceanliner's being a 10, the dining room an 8 and the buffet (lunch and breakfast) a 7. The pizza was fair, and the burgers pretty good at the poolside counter. Drinks were relatively expensive, with the 15% gratuity added (and well earned on this ship). Oceanliner's deserves its own paragraph. Our TA had gotten us a reservation in advance, but you could do that upon arrival on the ship (and you should). We ate there Monday night (a formal night) and were very pleased with the team service and the music provided by a pianist and violinist. They were quiet enough to not overwhelm conversation, and yet they added to a classy atmosphere. I had the beef and my wife the fish and both were tasty and well prepared. The lobster bisque was great, though the cheese tray was not my cup of tea. Not to say it was bad, as Pam loved the various flavors. Dessert was the chocolate souffle and it is as good as we had been told. Our wine steward, who did not bear a grudge because we had brought our own wine, took us (after dinner) to their wine "cellar", where we saw a deep collection of wines we'll never be able to drink (that means "afford"). If the Connie were ever to sink, there would be several salvage teams trying to get to the wine - in fact, I think I'd take up diving. The shows were fairly good, with comedy, dance, and a "west-end" London musical singer with a great voice. The theater is wonderful and well designed. No show we attended was full, though the ship was 95% full (we were told). We also enjoyed the lounge acts, relaxing in Reflections many evenings. The Champagne bar was also fun (though smoking was permitted there) and the Martini bar (no smoking on that side) served a great martini (my wife nursed hers for two hours, it was so large). We also had drinks at the casino bar and got good service, with friendly greetings (as we did everywhere). The casino was fun, and we played 30-45 minutes most nights. I won at craps, lost at blackjack and watched my wife win a $200 slot (quarters). Table minimums were $5-10 most of the time, though $15 blackjack was available. Many cruisers were playing BJ or craps for the first time and the dealers occasionally had to get stern about bad rolls or handling cards. Overall, we won a minimal amount (which beats the expectation). The islands were all beautiful. Our favorite was St. John (during the St. Thomas stop). We cabbed to a ferry and went over to Trunk Bay. I now have a favorite beach in the world. It also happens to be a National Park, so there are showers and concessions and it is free of local sellers. Grenada, in particular, had more than its share of sellers, and it took away from our relaxation on Grand Anse Beach. We did one tour, in Barbados, and recommend it to all. The Five Star Catamaran was a great time and lasted five hours. We were taken to two snorkeling locations and to one beach. Food was very good and there was an open bar for those thirsty souls in need of libation. The crew was extremely friendly and the Captain was funny and a good sailor. Coincidentally, Pam and I met the cruise director from Jubilee on this excursion. Although I thought he was a lousy cruise director, he did seem to be relaxed and friendly in conversation. He said he was about to take over Carnival Destiny and was "scouting" excursions for his future passengers. Maybe he'll be a good cruise director one day and we just caught him too early. Antigua was outstanding. We took a cab to a beach that the cabbie had endorsed (Dickinson Beach?) and it looked off toward Nevis and St. Kitts and was near to cold drinks and bathrooms. The beer we had there (in a green bottle) was said to be brewed on the island and was really good. Can't recall the name, which was probably due to the beer itself. Dominican Republic was better than we expected. We took the ship's bus to the Marina and relaxed at a couple of bars and wandered the boat docks, looking at multimillion dollar boats and dreaming of being Warren Buffet (or at least Jimmy). We have rarely done five islands on a seven day cruise and might not for a while. When the goal is relaxation, a three port trip is probably best. For those with energy to burn, this itinerary is a good one. There were no ugly beaches (that we saw). Overall, this was a really nice trip for a couple trying to catch up with each other. We ate as a couple, did excursions as a couple and did not meet anyone by name (other than crew) the entire week. That may sound anti-social, but we had hoped to do a lot of reading and visiting with each other. Mission accomplished. Celebrity is a bit nicer than the other three cruise lines we have sailed. Constellation is a class act and future cruisers will enjoy the atmosphere and service. We will be back (on Celebrity and possibly Connie), but we will not forsake any of the others. The route, the ship, and the cost will always mean something to us, and until one of these four lines truly shoots itself in the foot we intend to stay open minded. Mike and Pam Written 3/4/04 Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
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
Sail Date: January 2004
This was our third Celebrity cruise (Infiniti-2002 & Galaxy-2003) and eighth overall (four on Holland America and one on RCCL). It was our best one. Physically the ship is outstanding - beautiful, clean, etc. But there seems to be a ... Read More
This was our third Celebrity cruise (Infiniti-2002 & Galaxy-2003) and eighth overall (four on Holland America and one on RCCL). It was our best one. Physically the ship is outstanding - beautiful, clean, etc. But there seems to be a real sense of "family" among the crew and it showed in incredible, cheerful service. The other welcome "best ever" was the entertainment. I was overwhelmed with the the Celebrity Dancers shows that include acrobatics. Also the non-showroom entertainment was truly first rate: Toby Beau Duo in the rendezvous lounge and the a cappella singing group "4-2-5". The food was the same as previous Celebrity cruises - the best ever. This cruise we also ate in the specialty Ocean Liners Restaurant. Again - a best ever experience. There was just one surprise - we received no rating questionnaire. That has always seemed to be a very important event on previous cruises. They missed out on getting straight A's if we had one to complete. We only got off the ship once - for a beach excursion in Barbados. There were six ships in port and the cruise terminal was a "Zzoo". Instead of the advertised 20 minute ride to the beach, it took over an hour just to get out of the parking area as they were inspecting every vehicle in and out. But once out all was great. Celebrity has really done a great job in refining the cruise experience. We will be back. Also - this was the first cruise where we made our own arrangements for air and transportation to and from the ship. It was not the last. On our own it was easier, cheaper, faster and we avoided the crowds by arriving alone rather than with 40-50 other people at the same time. We will always do this in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Just returned from our sailing on the Constellation on January 10th, 2004, this was our 17th cruise in all, 3rd on Celebrity. We are 38 & 42 yrs old and traveled with my parents who are 69 & 70 yrs old. Before I begin what will ... Read More
Just returned from our sailing on the Constellation on January 10th, 2004, this was our 17th cruise in all, 3rd on Celebrity. We are 38 & 42 yrs old and traveled with my parents who are 69 & 70 yrs old. Before I begin what will probably be a long review let me just say FANTASTIC! That was our experience onboard the Constellation. We booked our airline transportation on our own, so I can't comment on the experience with the meet & greet service at the airport or the transfer offered with Celebrity. We arrived in San Juan at Noon on the 3rd of January, retrieved our luggage and hopped a taxi to the Pier, taxi ride is $17.00. When you approach the Constellation she really is a beautiful ship. The Constellation docks at the Pan American Pier, this is a nice facility, but there is nothing around the docks so once you board there is no reason to get back off the ship. However, in the future that will change as there is a large shopping mall under construction within walking distance to the Pan Am Pier. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 1pm, checked our luggage with the porters and proceeded inside. Celebrity reps asked us to complete a form regarding any illnesses we had recently (i.e., any potential exposure to the "norovirus"); form just took a couple of minutes and we were on our way. Since we had arrived early there wasn't a crowd at all. We were booked in a Concierge Class Stateroom so we went right to the CC check-in desk no one in front of us and 5 minutes later we were checked in and on our way. We had completed our documentation online prior to the cruise, so hopefully that expedited the process. We stopped for the traditional photograph, and then boarded the beautiful Constellation. As you board for security purposes you insert your "seapass" card and they photograph you, so when your embark or disembark in the ports of call they can see that it's you. Celebrity has made many enhancements to its onboard product and one of them is evident immediately, Complimentary Glass of Champagne as you board, and the white gloved staff to escort you to your stateroom. Alas, we are onboard and the process was smooth and quick. Hats off to Celebrity already and we have only been at the pier for about 15 minutes. Stateroom: We were booked in the new Concierge Class Stateroom 9058. Upon arrival in our stateroom a chilled bottle of Champagne in a stainless champagne bucket & two champagne glasses along with a fresh bowl of fruit greeted us, and we knew this was going to be a fabulous vacation. Now more about the cabin, this is a mid-ship cabin, just below the spa/pool area. I have read many differing opinions on the staterooms on deck 9 of the Millennium Class cabins, due to the overhang from the pool deck. However, I am a fan of this, because you can sit out on your balcony regardless of the weather or the sunshine. Don't get me wrong I love to sit in the sun, but I usually do this by the pool and not on my balcony. When I sit on the balcony it is usually for a relaxing break out of the sun or rain, whatever the conditions may be. I have also read about concerns regarding noise, we really had no issues with noise, every now and then you heard a few things, but nothing that ever bothered us, and we also had deck 9 cabin on the Millennium in '01, and had the same experience. So, I wouldn't hesitate to book a cabin on this deck. Now regarding the cabin, incredibly spacious, well maintained and in excellent condition. The balcony was very spacious and with the concierge class you get a few extras: the chairs on the balcony have padded seats & back and there is a large round table for dining al fresco. The bed was very comfortable with a duvet & 4 different types of pillows to choose from depending on your desires. "Frette" bathrobes which are very comfortable, in fact one of the most comfortable robes I have had onboard a cruise ship (which I decided to purchase one to bring home - it has "Celebrity Concierge Class" embroidered on the robe). Also, upgraded bathroom items, bath rugs, larger/thicker towels, fresh flowers in the bathroom and stateroom, special CC shampoo & body lotion. One of the best upgrades on the CC is the fresh fruit basket daily in your room and a special room service menu for breakfast. You complete your order form the night before and place it outside your stateroom and specify the time you want your breakfast delivered. I must say that we had breakfast on the balcony 5 out of the 7 mornings. Our stateroom attendant always called about 5 minutes before delivering the breakfast just to let us know he was on his way. I thought that was wonderful. Upon arrival he set up the table on the balcony with a tablecloth and set the table as if we were dining in a restaurant. FYI, when ordering you mark the number of orders you want, not the number of items you want (one morning I wanted 2 fried eggs so that's what I ordered, but I received two orders of 2 fried eggs and that's when our stateroom attendant informed us to order only the number of orders desired, the form is somewhat confusing). I absolutely love to wake up in the morning, put on a robe and sit out on the balcony and enjoy a quiet leisurely breakfast. The food always arrived as ordered and if it was to be hot it arrived hot. The fresh squeezed orange juice was wonderful. The stateroom had all the standard features on Celebrity: stainless ice bucket & water pitcher, mini-bar and spacious closets. Needless to say we were very pleased with our stateroom. Room Service: We did not order anything from room service except our breakfast which was fantastic. Though my parents did order lunch a couple of days and they said it arrived as ordered and within 15 to 20 minutes of ordering. They also were booked in a CC cabin # 9057 on the port side. We were on the starboard side. San Marco Restaurant/Food: One Word - EXCELLENT! The food and service was excellent as usual on Celebrity. On embarkation day (Saturday) dining is open seating at 6:00pm and 8:30pm. Upon embarkation you receive a dining card for either main or late seating, this is usually given based on the time you embark, i.e. those embarking early get main seating and those embarking later get late seating. However, if you want late seating, just ask for a late seating card or just show up when you want, they never check or ask for the card. We opted for late seating as it appeared many other passengers did as well because there was a long line to get into the dining room on deck 4. However, if you go in on deck 5 there was no line and we were seated immediately at a table for 4. This is usually a very challenging night for the dining room staff, but I must say they did an excellent job and the food was very good. On the second night you dine at your assigned dining time/table as noted on the confirmation card you receive in your stateroom. We had late seating table # 400 for eight. This table is fantastic, it is on deck 4 at the rear of the dining room by the two deck tall windows and right next to the Captains Table. The Captain dined in the dining room on the two formal nights which are on Monday & Thursday evening. Our waitress was "Jasminka" from Croatia (that's right waitress, very unusual to have a waitress, in fact this is only the second time we have had a waitress). She was wonderful, very friendly, funny and worked very hard, always got our orders correct, served to the correct person, and always to the ladies first. She even made sure to line up the Celebrity "X" on the charger plate and the plate she was delivering. Our assistant waitress "Adit" from Croatia also, (okay two waitresses from Croatia, that must be a good sign) because the service was flawless from these two. Always making sure that we had fresh ground pepper with our soups, salads and even entrees. Water glasses were always full and they just seemed to be right there whenever we needed them. The Asst' Maitre D' was ever present, but not obtrusive. Again, another enhancement Celebrity has is Sommeliers, while other lines have cut them, Celebrity has kept them and it really makes a huge difference. Our Sommelier was very knowledgeable always offering suggestions if requested. We had wonderful bottles of wine every night and there are a lot of bottles in a reasonable range between $20-$35. Food: Everything I had was enjoyable, the soups were superb. I wish I could remember exactly what I had every night, but I can't, let me just say that we all enjoyed our dining experience, it was fantastic. Seaside Cafe: This is the buffet restaurant onboard. We had breakfast here only one morning, since we primarily had breakfast on the balcony in our stateroom. It was traditional breakfast fare. We did eat lunch here almost everyday. The food was very good, I really appreciate that on Celebrity you are served your food from the buffet vs. having to serve yourself. On Sunday the 2nd day onboard there was an Oriental Buffet Luncheon, On Monday the 3rd day onboard there was a Mexican Buffet, On Wednesday the 5th day onboard there was an Italian Buffet. All were very good. Also, everyday there is a grill which is on the starboard side just aft of the pool area. They serve hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and a daily pasta selection as well as pizza. I found the pizza to be mediocre at best, however the burgers & hot dogs were very good. There is also an ice cream bar on both the starboard & port sides with ice cream from Noon to 6pm everyday. In the aft is the Salad Bar, Soup & Sandwiches. This changed everyday, and was always very fresh. The lemonade is particularly good, the tea somewhat strong. Seating in the cafe was plentiful, however particular if you go all the way to the aft area it is never crowded and if you can find a table next to the window the views are spectacular. Also, one area not to miss is the aft area outdoors with dining tables, umbrellas and a large canopy providing much needed shade. I must say that there was always plenty of staff and as soon as we finished dining there was always someone there to remove our dirty dishes. I never saw dirty trays just sitting on tables and there were a lot of management staff always walking around making sure that everything was going smoothly. We never ate dinner here, so I can't comment on the evening meals. Ocean Liners: A MUST DO!! This is really a fabulous experience. We ate in the "Olympus" Restaurant on the Millennium and so we had to try "Ocean Liners". We dined at Ocean Liners on Wednesday evening at 8:00pm, which is an informal night (no ties required on informal nights, just jackets, however if you go on a formal night, ties are required, jackets are required every night) this is the night you depart Grenada at 4:30pm, so it seemed like a good night to go. The service was fantastic and the food unbelievable. If you have read about the goat cheese soufflE, it is all true, and in my opinion a must have, others had the Caeser Salad and were not real impressed. For entrees I had the Steak Diane which was again fantastic, perfectly cooked to order, others had the veal and rack of lamb all were very pleased. The cheese course is always excellent, and of course for dinner the grand marnier soufflE or they may have a special soufflE which on our night was chocolate, and since I am a chocoholic it was a must have and I was not disappointed. Entertainment: Saturday (embarkation day) no regularly scheduled entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre, but plenty of music in the lounges. Sunday evening (Casa De Camp) Celebrity Showtime in the Celebrity Theatre with "The Comedy of Kevin Flynn" and "International Virtuoso Pianist Tian Jiang". We did the shore excursion to "Kandala, A Latin Extravaganza", so we missed this show, however, we heard "Tian Jiang" was excellent. We had the pleasure of hearing his music again later in the week and he was fantastic, A MUST SEE, (of course you would have to like this type of music). Monday (at sea) Celebrity Showtime "FANTASEA", having seen many production shows on cruise ships, this was one of the best we have ever seen. I would highly recommend seeing it. Tuesday (Barbados) Celebrity Showtime, "Lindsay Hamilton" West End (i.e. London, England) Star of "Evita" & "Les Miserables". She was phenomenal, one of the best singers I have had the pleasure of hearing on a cruise ship. She received a standing ovation and later in the week she performed again, & again received a standing ovation. I liked her so much that I even bought one of her CD's and she autographed it for us. Now, I rarely buy a CD of a singer on a cruise ship, but she is well worth it, she has a fabulous voice & is a great entertainer. While talking with her she is on the Constellation for a couple more weeks, and then she is fortunate enough to be headed to New York to perform on the NEW "QUEEN MARY 2". She is very excited about this engagement, she will be on the QM2 for a few weeks and then return to the Constellation until early April, and then she is getting married, so hopefully you will have the opportunity to see her performance. Wednesday (Grenada) Skip the show and hit the Casino, "Batucada: A Song & Dance Odyssey", just not worth the time, really a dull show. The only good thing was we were able to hear "Tian Jiang" for 2 songs during the middle of the show, which didn't make a lot of sense, but we were happy to hear his music. If you catch him on Sunday evening, I would skip this show. Thursday (Antigua), if you have been to Broadway or seen musicals, you have seen this show, and I am sure it was much better. "Spotlight Broadway" in my opinion is the typical cruise ship production show. After the show at 12:15am was Late Night Comedy Hour with "Kevin Flynn" the comedian from Sunday evening, didn't see him, but heard his show wasn't very good. Friday (St. Thomas) "Variety Showtime" a repeat performance of "Lindsay Hamilton" & a cute group called "Acapella Quartet 4:2:Five". Worth seeing, just to see Lindsay again. All in all I would rate the entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre as EXCELLENT, I have to say that just for Lindsay & for Fantasea! Cruise Director: I have to devote a special paragraph just for our cruise director. Eric is FANTASTIC! We had him previously on the Millennium and he is just great. He is very classy, no tired, repeated cruise ship jokes, and he has a beautiful voice. He sang with Lindsay twice, and they make quite a duo. If only they were singing in the Rendezvous Lounge (more on that later). Eric is what all cruise directors should aspire to be! Casino: What can I say it's a casino. We played the slots one evening, didn't win. Children: We weren't traveling with any children, so I can't comment on their programs. I can say there were not very many children onboard this cruise. Maybe 10 -15 max. Lounge Entertainment: I am going to start out with the positive entertainment and then segway to one of the worst musicians I have ever heard on a cruise ship. The music in the Cova Cafe di Milano, the harpist "Karen O'Bray and the "Royal String Quartet" were wonderful. We didn't spend much time here, but the few times we walked through when they were playing, we would stop and listen for just a few minutes, it was quite pleasant. In Michael's Club Piano Bar the pianist "Fred Potvin" was fantastic. If you like piano music make it a point to spend some time in Michael's club, you will really enjoy your time here, not to mention what a great place to have a drink. The Celebrity Orchestra was good, not the best I have heard on a cruise ship, but nothing to complain about. Okay, now for the worst, the music in the Rendezvous Lounge was horrible. The "Touch of Class Duo" was terrible, she was okay, but he was terrible. I heard people all over the ship talking about how bad they were. Usually the Rendezvous Lounge on deck 4 & the Martini Bar/Champagne Bar on deck 5 are great places to have drinks and enjoy the music, but this time these bars were barely used because of the bad music. I was astonished that they were actually being paid to perform. Hopefully, Celebrity will get enough complaints to remove them SOON from the Constellation. In fact, I can say this was the only thing on the entire cruise that bothered me. And it really didn't bother me that much, because we just found another place to have drinks. There is no shortage of wonderful places to sit and relax. Ports: I am not going to spend a lot of time here, because I know everyone likes to do different things in the various ports, but I will touch on what we did or what we are familiar with on the various islands. "Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic": I read a lot of negative reports on this island before leaving home, but it's not all bad. To clear up some confusion: Celebrity does run complimentary shuttles to both "The Marina" & to "Altos De Chavon", I had read that the complimentary shuttles only went to the Marina and to go to Altos De Chavon you had to take a taxi. This is simply not true. Complimentary Shuttles ran from the time we docked up until the time we departed. We took the shuttles to Altos De Chavon, takes about 15-20 minutes and well worth the trip. The views are stunning and the village very quaint. We spent some time walking around the village, taking in the views and then returned to the ship. In the evening we returned to Altos De Chavon for dinner at a wonderful restaurant "Giacosa" and Italian Restaurant that simply had wonderful food & service. They also give cruise ship passengers a complimentary bottle of wine (1 for every 2 passengers) with dinner. If you are thinking of having dinner ashore I highly recommend this restaurant. Later we went to the show "Kandala, A Latin Extravaganza" held in the outdoor amphitheater. I had read a lot of positive reviews about this show. It is okay, we enjoyed seeing it, but really not worthy of a return, there were only 107 passengers onboard that took this excursion, so I guess it doesn't interest a lot of people. Though it was a beautiful evening, with a full moon and lots of stars, so it was really enjoyable to sit outside. "Barbados" we pre-arranged a tour with "Boyce Tours" before leaving home. I had read good things about them and I have to agree. Carol Franklin showed up on time to meet us exactly at the location she told us to meet her, and our driver "Jimmy" who we had requested because we had seen his name numerous times on the boards. He was fantastic, he is extremely knowledgeable, very courteous and friendly. He toured us through Bridgetown and then to Harrison's Cave, over to Bathsheba & then to the Wildlife Reserve. Harrison's Cave is very interesting and very well done. Bathsheba is beautiful and well worth a visit. I had last been to Barbados in Nov. '95 and I remembered going to the Wildlife Reserve to see the Green Monkeys. At that time the Monkeys were plentiful, I wanted a repeat experience, but now the trees have grown so tall that the Monkeys have escaped. Though the locals claim they return after 3:00pm for feeding time, we were there until 3:30pm, and no monkeys spotted. Fortunately, we did see a few monkeys as we traveled throughout the island. Jimmy picked us up at 10am and returned us to the ship at 4pm. The charge was $50 per person for 4 passengers. He drives a nice van that actually seats 10 passengers, so it was very comfortable. We have taken tours before when they want to put 4 passengers in a tiny car. This charge included our admission to Harrison's Cave (we saw a sign posted for $16US per person) and also to the Wildlife Reserve ($8US per person), so we felt like the tour cost was very reasonable considering this admission prices and for a 6 hour comprehensive tour. If you have never been to Barbados, this is a great way to see the island. If you are a repeat visitor, there are a lot of other options. Barbados is a very lush and beautiful island, with very friendly people. "Grenada" we were here in Feb. '03 on the "Sea Princess" so we didn't plan to do much. This is a tender port so allow extra time for whatever you decide to do. Last year we went ashore and hired a taxi driver to show us the island. We went to the waterfalls, the fort & Grand Anse Beach. Also, a really beautiful island well worth exploring. There are plenty of taxi drivers waiting at the tender docks to take you anywhere you want to go. "Antigua" we spent some time walking around the town, but mainly a ship day for us. We had been here previously, so we decided not to do much. Be forewarned the Antiguans are aggressive people, not mean or rude, just aggressive. After being on Barbados & Grenada, it is quite a different approach. Also, there were 4 cruise ships in port that day, so very crowded. "St Thomas" what can be said about one of our own. Simply a beautiful island, not that I am prejudice, just proud! We spent some time downtown shopping before returning to the ships pool. We will be back here next month Feb. '04 on the Galaxy with a group of 10, so we will go to the beach then. If you plan on buying anything specific in St. Thomas, check the prices at home first, especially online. I wanted a new portable DVD player and found that it was cheaper online than in St. Thomas. This isn't always the case, but it pays to be knowledgeable and prepared. There is a wonderful "Lalique" store in St. Thomas ( if you like this sort of stuff) and their prices are very good compared to the states. There cost of a taxi to town is $3 per person each way. If you go to Megans Beach it is $6 per person each way. Have no fear there are plenty of taxis waiting to take you everywhere. Disembarkation: We had an early flight at 9:50am from SJU to Miami, so we had early disembarkation at 7:15am so needless to say it was smooth as silk. I think most passengers. were just beginning to wake up. Summary: EXCELLENT, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL!! This was simply a great cruise, from the crew, to the ship, to the food, to the entertainment, to the stateroom, to the itinerary, well worth a repeat trip on the "Constellation". Again, this was our 17th cruise so it ranks in the top 5 or 6 of all our cruises, a lot to say considering that some of our cruises have been for 14 nights to exotic ports. I hope you enjoyed reading my review and that you find it helpful as you prepare for your cruise or in deciding which cruise ship to cruise on. If you have specific questions that I might can assist you with, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at cruisermichael@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We sailed on Constellation on 1/31 from San Juan. My girlfriend and I (both in our 20's) selected Celebrity for our first cruise after much research online and with much assistance from this site! We booked through X directly, no ... Read More
We sailed on Constellation on 1/31 from San Juan. My girlfriend and I (both in our 20's) selected Celebrity for our first cruise after much research online and with much assistance from this site! We booked through X directly, no travel agent, and included air and an extra day in PR in the package. We received fast and courteous service throughout the booking. Being from Buffalo, NY we both went tanning for a month prior--which I highly recommend if you plan to stay in the sun. We were able to handle the tropical sun w/o burning!! The only thing I would change would be adding an additional day prior in San Juan... Our flight took us to San Juan from Buffalo via Philly. The San Juan airport experience was not pleasant-- it took forever to get our luggage! But, we were assured by some really nice people we met that it always takes forever there! We used X's transfer agency to get us+bags to the Caribe Hilton...Mistake. A cab would have saved us 2 hours and 2 headaches. Once we arrived at the Hilton, we began a fantastic vacation. The hotel was nice, large open lobby, private beach, several pools and a swim up bar, a upscale spa/gym, and some decent restaurants. We ate at Morton's of Chicago which was OK it is not as good as the Palm or our own Buffalo Chophouse. The next day, after a workout overlooking the Ocean, we spent the morning sunning ourselves on the beach. Again, we used X's tour group to get us to the terminal, and next time we will use a cab. Embarkation: We could not believe how huge the ship was! Beautiful! I was totally in awe as we pulled up to the terminal. We arrived shortly after 1:00pm. The processing at the terminal went so fast, I could not believe it! We stopped at the Duty-free in the terminal for cigarettes and Absolut (which we took on board w/o incident) and were on the ship by 1:30! Great organization by everyone. We were given Mimosas and escorted to our room by a white gloved attendant. Stateroom 7182: We wanted a cabin w/balcony since neither of us had been on a cruise and we had reservation about how we would react to motion. We were not disappointed! The cabin was surprisingly roomy, absolutely spotless, and well equipped. Our attendant, Katarene, and her assist. Jose, treated us like royalty throughout the cruise. They did a great job! The Ship: We spent the first hour checking out the public areas and eating lunch at the rear of the ship. We were back to back with the Serenade of the Seas and got some great pics! We also experienced our first Celebrity Cocktails which came in Souvenir glasses and met Darma-- the best pool waiter ever!!! We then made our way to the pool where we got front row chairs and relaxed. We did not ever have an issue with chairs at the pool - there were always some available. Drink service was excellent at all times too! Public areas on board were clean, bright, well noted on maps, and there were tons of elevators. The rendezvous lounge, home to some A+ Karaoke, was a favorite after dinner meeting place for us. We had a good time in the casino, and entered the slot tournament on the at sea day. The main dining room was roomy, and we were lucky enough to score a table for two with our "own" window! The T-Spa pool was awesome-- check out the "bubble chairs" for a relaxing experience. I also enjoyed the workout facilities-- never crowded, clean, first rate equip. The showers were great as well. I used the ship's library "words" and found it well stocked and friendly. They even have IPods for guest use! I read "The Ship and the Storm" about the Fantome and hurricane Mitch. Good book to read while at sea! We had a great time at the newlywed game at Reflections nightclub, and found it enjoyable the rest of the time too (superbowl party). The rest of the ship was great too-- coffee at Cova, pics at the grand foyer, whatever we did- we received great service! Food: After the first night when we ate early, we were assigned to the late seating. Again, we were happy with this choice. We are Both picky eaters, and found the food at dinner to be very good. We both found it funny that we ate more red meat on board than we usually do in a month. However, the service we received from our waiter, Zjelko, and his assistant Agata, was phenomenal. They were a great team--fast, they knew how we liked our food, and they answered any requests we made. I remain impressed at the work they did. The highlight was the second formal night and my surf and turf experience. Sommeliers did a great job too, and we enjoyed a bottle of wine with each dinner. We visited Ocean Liners, and chose not to dine there due to our picky appetites and their limited menu. Passengers: We had a nice time at the CC party, which was in Michael's Club on Monday, our at sea day. We also are glad we met George and Deborah our "neighbors". The rest of the passengers were quite a mix of ages and nationalities. We were thrilled at the lack of kids on board!!! I only saw 5-10 the entire trip which was great!!!! Everyone we encountered was friendly, shared stories, and seemed to be enjoying their trips as much as we were. Alot of fellow northeasterners escaping our snow! I heard again how lucky we were to be on this ship for our first cruise as it was the best that many "veterans" had ever been on. It seemed to me that except for the "wild exceptions" dress code was respected in the main dining room and most stayed in dress for the entire evening. The exceptions were funny though. Excursions: We booked three online before sailing. Two were A+ and one was a C. The great ones were--- the BOB in St.Thomas and Dolphin Fantaseas in Antigua. If you go to either island, book these excursions! Both were well run, fun, and excellent experiences. The average experience was the Malibu Beach in Barbados. The beach was beautiful and the cocktails good, but the terminal was a mess due to several ships in port, and we left almost an hour late! In Grenada, we went to Grand Anse Beach on our own where we had a nice time. The locals were fun and very friendly!!! The bad was the Dominican Republic--Casa De Campo as a port of call makes no sense to me. There was nothing to do, no beaches nearby, and when we tried to shop, we were scared away by man with shotgun. I would not get off the ship next time. But,it gave us more time at the pool, which was not bad.. Shopping was WAY OVERRATED! Maybe living on the boarder W/Canada we are numb to the duty free experience, but still...do you really need to go on Caribbean cruise to save a few bucks on stuff? We did notice that it would be a great place to purchase an expensive watch or diamond. Misc: We had an amazing time and are looking to book again ASAP. The ship was incredible! I totally over packed! The service was fantastic. We did find that there was a lack of available food following afternoon excursions as lunches all shut down by 2 or 2:30. But that is the ONLY NEGATIVE!! I believe that X will be our choice for our next cruise. I hope you find this review helpful as you decide on your next cruise-- if I left out anything or if you have questions, feel free to contact me via email at : pjfarr1@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Constellation was clean, efficient, and luxuriously appointed throughout. It matches or exceeds the experience we had on Millennium in 2002. Food was excellent. "Ocean Liners", their up-charge restaurant, was fantastic and ... Read More
Constellation was clean, efficient, and luxuriously appointed throughout. It matches or exceeds the experience we had on Millennium in 2002. Food was excellent. "Ocean Liners", their up-charge restaurant, was fantastic and worth the $25 per person. Dining room quality and diversity were good, but desserts were not as inventive as Celebrity has delivered in the past. The wine list was rather limited in the main dining room, but impressive in Ocean Liners. A couple winners (dining room) were the 2002 Macon Villages by Drouhin at $26 and the 1993 Torre Gran Reserva for $24. The Grand Buffet was truly a visual treat, and I'm sure it would have tasted good, but we couldn't stay up. Stateroom attendants were friendly and helpful, as were the dining room personnel who were directly responsible for our experience. Drink fetchers in the restaurant, however, were slow and obviously faking friendliness (smile would disappear before their head turned away). Same with poolside bartender on deck 10 (deck 11 was good, though). Buffet personnel were friendly and perhaps more attentive than on Millennium, but equal to Mercury (2000). All housekeeping personnel were cheerful and hardworking. E-mails that come to you at your temporary celebrity.com address are *not* announced with a stateroom phone message as advertised. In the casino, veteran blackjack players wonder whether all the cards are there at the $5 table. Without a regulatory authority on open seas, who's to check? The ship appeared to be about 3/4 full. From my observation, RCL is using a yield-maximizing strategy that brings cruise prices down in waves, rather than steadily as cruise date nears. Best consumer strategy is to identify the cruise(s) you might like, then keep an eye on them regularly over several weeks waiting for a deal you consider acceptable. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
For our first time cruise, this could not have been any better! It was easy embarkation and we were on the ship by 12:00 Noon. We had booked our own flight and the cab to the pier was easy. We took the rest of the day for site-seeing in ... Read More
For our first time cruise, this could not have been any better! It was easy embarkation and we were on the ship by 12:00 Noon. We had booked our own flight and the cab to the pier was easy. We took the rest of the day for site-seeing in San Juan. Our luggage was in our room by 5:30 and we took the late afternoon before dinner to unpack. We were told it was open seating for dinner and we were to come at 6:30. We elected to still go at 8:30 and there was no problems. I highly recommend a room with a veranda, we are spoiled and will never do without! With late seating for dining we spent most late afternoons (the ship left ports around 6:00 pm every evening) enjoying the view and room service. Breakfast on the veranda was also a treat. It is amazing to see that most of our pictures of the island themselves were taken from our balcony! First stop in DR was one we would have done without, but as it was our first cruise, we were excited to see anything available. Other than the Casa De Campo resort excursion, most passengers agreed this was not worth the stop. Our day at sea was fun and spent by the pool meeting other cruisers and enjoying the activities provided by the staff. In Barbados we booked the 5 Star Catamaran excursion and it was wonderful! Strictly 5 star! The boat, activities, and food were all amazing. We did not see much of the town or island, except as we cruised in the catamaran. In Grenada, the town looks very pretty from ship, but is extremely poor and somewhat depressing. We took our own cab to the Grand Anse Beach, which was pretty, but really rough surf and the vendors hounded you constantly. Not our thought of a Caribbean getaway. Antigua was pretty and we enjoyed shopping. We did our own beach again and went to Dickinson Bay. Very pretty and enjoyable. There were some good buys from the vendors, but they did not approach you, they were set up in 'shops' along the beach. Found some good gifts to take home to family. Several restaurants there as well. St. Thomas was by far what we had been waiting for. Very, very pretty. After doing some shopping in town (great place to buy a digital camera) we did another beach and went to Coki Beach. This was by far what we had been looking for all along. Something right off Gilligan's Island! Calm, clear as a swimming pool, and great amenities. Dinners were wonderful for the most part, a chance to try some unknown foods, and to have seconds of those you loved! We did go to Oceanliners on Wednesday (this works best for the schedule of the week) and it was excellent - it met all the expectations we had. We only made two shows, and they were enjoyable but not of the quality we had heard for most cruises. They were something you would see put on in a high school production, not by actual paid performers. But with late seating dinner, there were not many shows that fit within our schedule. The ship and staff could not have been nicer. Everyone was friendly and willing to help in any way. Our assistant waiter, Livia, was the best! Formal dress did not translate to what I considered formal. The men were dressed but many ladies were in pants with dressy tops, and some teenagers were not dressy at all. I did not see anyone turned away. If you like to dress as we do, by all means, but do not fret over what to take for formal nights. On disembarkation we were told we would have to find a place to store our luggage while visiting San Juan, as our flight did not leave until early evening. We were told by the ship that the airport would not take our luggage up to two hours before our flight. We left the ship at 10:30 am and went straight to the airport. Luckily we did as it took over 1 1/2 hours in line to check our luggage (they DID take it for us without a problem even though it was almost 6 hours before our flight). We then took a cab over to the Ritz Carlton, had lunch, lounged by the pool in the shade, shopped and then went back to the airport in time for our flight. Much easier than having to store our luggage somewhere and retrieve it before we boarded. We saw some people miss their planes as they waited until the two hours before flights and then could not maneuver the lines for baggage check-in. The San Juan airport is not 'user-friendly'. One other item to note, there were many messages on the boards about alcohol brought on ship. We saw people buying in the port at San Juan before we left, walk right on with bottles, cases of beer, etc. And in other ports, we never saw anyone have their's confiscated. There was talk about people buying liquor in the ship's emporium and taking it right back to their cabin. Do not worry with packing your own, if you would rather buy in port or on board! This was our first cruise, and we would not change a thing. We are already looking for a next one! The Constellation is an amazing lady!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. ... Read More
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. Embarkation -- 3 We had a nightmare experience getting to San Juan after being bumped from our flight. We actually met up with the Constellation on Sunday in the Dominican Republic. The travel department at Celebrity was absolutely NO help at all. In fact, if I could give the staff at Celebrity a negative rating here I would. However, the crew of the Constellation was very helpful and friendly: meeting us at the airport in the Dominican Republic, steering us through local Immigration/Customs, and preparing our cruise documents rapidly. Their deserved 6 star rating averages out the 0 stars for the Celebrity travel department for an overall rating of 3. I should note that on my prior Celebrity cruise aboard Infinity out of San Juan our embarkation was very smooth. Public Rooms - 6 The overall architectural atmosphere aboard the Millennium ships is quite nice. Not too glitzy, not too subdued. All public areas aboard these ships are adorned with original art and photography pieces, giving them an aura of elegance without being snobby. The color scheme of the boat's interior is spot-on, but I must admit I find the exterior of the ship to not be my cup-of-tea. Rest assured that you will not find a better variety of areas more tastefully decorated on any other cruise liner currently at sea. I'm sure there are more richly/elegantly appointed boats at sea, but I doubt one could book a cruise on them at this price point. A+ Cabin - 5 Our cabin was very utilitarian and pretty, though somewhat disappointing for me after having stayed in a Sky Suite on my prior cruise aboard the Infinity. The deck is now a must have for my cruising vacations and I would recommend EVERYBODY to ensure they have their own private veranda. I spent EVERY morning on it with my coffee, reading/journaling, enjoying the scenery. My only gripe with the veranda is regarding the lack of privacy. Depending on your room's location, you may or may not have ANY privacy on your deck. We found the cabin to be lacking in storage space, though this may be more indicative of our excessive packing than a weakness in the cabin. Also, there are no irons/ironing boards aboard the ship. [I would recommend packing a travel iron if the thought of wearing wrinkled clothes or paying $$$ for pressing services bothers you. I used the laundry services on the boat and can attest that they did a nice job of stain removal on several garments and all garments were pressed perfectly, and delivered promptly.] Also on the downside, my fiancEe and I both felt the linens, particularly the bed spread, appear worn out and even, yuck, dirty. Dining - 6 There is nothing for me to add here that hasn't already been said ad nauseam. At this price point I guarantee you will not find better food. How they can prepare such high quality food for so many passengers still boggles my mind. Not to be missed: at the aft of the 10th deck Seaside grill there is a daily luncheon pasta and salad bar. For whatever reasons, this particular luncheon spot remains relatively unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. I highly recommend it for lunch. The Oceanliners specialty restaurant is well worth the money. I believe Celebrity's specialty restaurants rank as some of the best dining experiences PERIOD, not just at sea. If my dining companions were willing, I would gladly eat there every night. The staff can be a bit over-the-top in their mannerisms, but I appreciate their commitment to excellent service. Room service is also a wonderful touch. I highly recommend the Chocolate chip cookies ("Warmed up please") and their Pizza. For some reason, their room service pizza is different, and in my opinion better, than that which is served poolside. Speaking of poolside, there has been a definite drop in the service level offered by the wait staff poolside since my last Celebrity cruise. I'm not sure, but it appeared to me that there were fewer "Pool Butlers" than there used to be. Minor quibble... Entertainment - 5 We went to one show - "Fantasea" - and it was laughable. All of the musicians aboard the boat were terrific. The pool side band "Prodigy" was great. In fact, I would recommend going down and having a listen even if you don't want to lay out - they are that good! The casino is quite nice though smoky. They offered the typical cruise line game assortment with the exception of single deck Blackjack at $10 minimums! The in-room TV was acceptable with a varied movie rotation, CBS primetime programming and CNN International live. On board, internet access was reliable though expensive. There are art auctions managed by Park West [my advice... buy elsewhere], a nice shipping facility, movie theater showing recent films, etc. Bingos were, as usual, popular with the kids and blue-hairs. Bottom line: You should never feel bored. Fitness & Recreation - 6 Their health club is first rate, the spa is excellent though $$$. With the fitness facility, aerobics, spinning and yoga classes, and spa dining, if you wish to not gain weight, or even lose weight on your cruise, Celebrity makes it possible. Value - 6 You will not find a better value for your cruising dollar. PERIOD. My fiancee thoroughly enjoyed her first cruise, and is looking forward to cruising again. We had some horrible seas on our last night (St. Thomas to San Juan) but otherwise it was literally smooth sailing. These millennium vessels are, in a word, awesome! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. ... Read More
I booked a cruise with my local travel agent for the Constellation sailing out of San Juan. This was my 8th cruise - 2nd on Celebrity -- and my fiancEe's first. Overall, the cruise was quite enjoyable, with some minor quibbles. Embarkation -- 3 We had a nightmare experience getting to San Juan after being bumped from our flight. We actually met up with the Constellation on Sunday in the Dominican Republic. The travel department at Celebrity was absolutely NO help at all. In fact, if I could give the staff at Celebrity a negative rating here I would. However, the crew of the Constellation was very helpful and friendly: meeting us at the airport in the Dominican Republic, steering us through local Immigration/Customs, and preparing our cruise documents rapidly. Their deserved 6 star rating averages out the 0 stars for the Celebrity travel department for an overall rating of 3. I should note that on my prior Celebrity cruise aboard Infinity out of San Juan our embarkation was very smooth. Public Rooms - 6 The overall architectural atmosphere aboard the Millennium ships is quite nice. Not too glitzy, not too subdued. All public areas aboard these ships are adorned with original art and photography pieces, giving them an aura of elegance without being snobby. The color scheme of the boat's interior is spot-on, but I must admit I find the exterior of the ship to not be my cup-of-tea. Rest assured that you will not find a better variety of areas more tastefully decorated on any other cruise liner currently at sea. I'm sure there are more richly/elegantly appointed boats at sea, but I doubt one could book a cruise on them at this price point. A+ Cabin - 5 Our cabin was very utilitarian and pretty, though somewhat disappointing for me after having stayed in a Sky Suite on my prior cruise aboard the Infinity. The deck is now a must have for my cruising vacations and I would recommend EVERYBODY to ensure they have their own private veranda. I spent EVERY morning on it with my coffee, reading/journaling, enjoying the scenery. My only gripe with the veranda is regarding the lack of privacy. Depending on your room's location, you may or may not have ANY privacy on your deck. We found the cabin to be lacking in storage space, though this may be more indicative of our excessive packing than a weakness in the cabin. Also, there are no irons/ironing boards aboard the ship. [I would recommend packing a travel iron if the thought of wearing wrinkled clothes or paying $$$ for pressing services bothers you. I used the laundry services on the boat and can attest that they did a nice job of stain removal on several garments and all garments were pressed perfectly, and delivered promptly.] Also on the downside, my fiancEe and I both felt the linens, particularly the bed spread, appear worn out and even, yuck, dirty. Dining - 6 There is nothing for me to add here that hasn't already been said ad nauseam. At this price point I guarantee you will not find better food. How they can prepare such high quality food for so many passengers still boggles my mind. Not to be missed: at the aft of the 10th deck Seaside grill there is a daily luncheon pasta and salad bar. For whatever reasons, this particular luncheon spot remains relatively unnoticed by the majority of the passengers. I highly recommend it for lunch. The Oceanliners specialty restaurant is well worth the money. I believe Celebrity's specialty restaurants rank as some of the best dining experiences PERIOD, not just at sea. If my dining companions were willing, I would gladly eat there every night. The staff can be a bit over-the-top in their mannerisms, but I appreciate their commitment to excellent service. Room service is also a wonderful touch. I highly recommend the Chocolate chip cookies ("Warmed up please") and their Pizza. For some reason, their room service pizza is different, and in my opinion better, than that which is served poolside. Speaking of poolside, there has been a definite drop in the service level offered by the wait staff poolside since my last Celebrity cruise. I'm not sure, but it appeared to me that there were fewer "Pool Butlers" than there used to be. Minor quibble... Entertainment - 5 We went to one show - "Fantasea" - and it was laughable. All of the musicians aboard the boat were terrific. The pool side band "Prodigy" was great. In fact, I would recommend going down and having a listen even if you don't want to lay out - they are that good! The casino is quite nice though smoky. They offered the typical cruise line game assortment with the exception of single deck Blackjack at $10 minimums! The in-room TV was acceptable with a varied movie rotation, CBS primetime programming and CNN International live. On board, internet access was reliable though expensive. There are art auctions managed by Park West [my advice... buy elsewhere], a nice shipping facility, movie theater showing recent films, etc. Bingos were, as usual, popular with the kids and blue-hairs. Bottom line: You should never feel bored. Fitness & Recreation - 6 Their health club is first rate, the spa is excellent though $$$. With the fitness facility, aerobics, spinning and yoga classes, and spa dining, if you wish to not gain weight, or even lose weight on your cruise, Celebrity makes it possible. Value - 6 You will not find a better value for your cruising dollar. PERIOD. My fiancee thoroughly enjoyed her first cruise, and is looking forward to cruising again. We had some horrible seas on our last night (St. Thomas to San Juan) but otherwise it was literally smooth sailing. These Millenium vessels are, in a word, awesome! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
SUMMARY: My wife, daughter (11 y.o.) and I had a great time on our Southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation, and we are already thinking about our next cruise aboard this ship. BACKGROUND: Our previous cruise experience was aboard ... Read More
SUMMARY: My wife, daughter (11 y.o.) and I had a great time on our Southern Caribbean cruise on the Constellation, and we are already thinking about our next cruise aboard this ship. BACKGROUND: Our previous cruise experience was aboard the Galaxy in February, 2000 on a similar Southern Caribbean cruise. EMBARKATION: Smooth with no problems. My only nit to pick is the bus that transported us from the airport to the ship was a little shabby. SHIP: The ship is beautiful and still has a new look and feel. In particular, I found the signage in the elevators and on each deck to be helpful in finding destinations. The ship has a main pool and a "kiddie" pool along with four hot tubs and two showers for rinsing off. The main pool was a decent size and was never crowded. Both my daughter and I found the water to be extremely salty, more than I remember on the Galaxy. Also the hot tubs were more like warm tubs. The spa area was a heavenly oasis of quiet. The warm water of the pool was soothing, evoking an "Ahh" whenever we entered the pool. Two of the four sides of the pool had contoured "benches" under which emanated gentle bubbles. Five minutes on the "bench" was enough to start the "I'm turning into Jello" mode. Two hot tubs flanked the pool and were available to finish the job that the pool started. CABINS: The cabin decor was bright, colorful and conveyed a sense of spaciousness. Upon arrival, we were pleased to find a bottle of champagne and a bowl of fresh fruit. The quality of both was very good. Both the bed and the pull-out couch were quite comfortable. The towels in the bathroom were Egyptian cotton, thick and absorbent. Cushioned chairs on the balcony was a nice touch. Peter, our cabin attendant, was outstanding. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Dominican Republic: Based on lots of Internet research, we passed on seeing the Dominican Republic. Later that day when people returned to the ship, we heard horror stories about the kayak tour (beached kayaks; lots of jellyfish) and power boat excursions (three of five boats had engine trouble). Barbados: We took the Five Star Catamaran Cruise. My daughter and I enjoyed sitting on the forward netting while the boat sailed towards our rendezvous with sea turtles. Watching sea turtles "flying" through the water was an unforgettable sight. Lunch was tasty and consisted of fried flying fish, spicy BBQ chicken, decadent mac and cheese, and assorted salads. I tried to drink a rum punch but it was way too strong for my taste. A great excursion that I highly recommend. Grenada: Grenada was a tender port. We had no firm plans for this island so we rode the tender into port and walked along the waterfront. Unfortunately, the natives are quite aggressive in soliciting services, and I would not like to repeat the experience. On the tender ride back to the ship, we chatted with two couples who went to Grande Anse beach, and they were very disappointed (sea weed; lots of shells in the sand; pesky natives). Antigua: Eli's Eco Tour was awesome! The first part of the tour was a high-speed cruise along the coast along with Eli's narrative about the history of the island intermixed with current events and gossip about a Texas millionaire's construction projects on the island. The first stop was Bird Island. Our group of about twenty took a short hike (5 min)to the top of the island where we watched for Humpback whales and took in the incredible vistas. After returning to the boat, we took Eli's quick snorkel refresher "course". Next up was lunch - BBQ chicken, plantains, chopped salad and incredible carrot cake. Drinks included passion fruit and tamarind juices in addition to the standard Coke/Diet Coke/water. After lunch we motored to Hell's Gate and dropped anchor. I did the cave hike which was short but interesting while my wife and daughter snorkeled near the boat. Eli moved the boat a couple of hundred yards off of Hell's Gate to a better snorkel spot and we snorkeled again. Rum punch was served on the return to port. A super way to experience Antigua. St. Thomas: We loved Magen's Bay on our last visit to St. Thomas so we decided to go again. Last time we took the Celebrity excursion but did not get enough beach time. For this visit, we decided to cab it ($6/pp/each way). A nice, quiet and relaxing day at a stunning beach. FOOD: Breakfast: Our morning ritual aboard the ship was to pig out on Anita's incredible chocolate croissants and Beata's yummy iced cappuccinos in the Cova Cafe. Lunch: The lunch buffet in the Seaside cafe, which was themed every day, was hit or miss. For example, the Mexican lunch was tasty but the Italian lunch was not. My wife and daughter tried the hamburgers by the pool and thought that they were pretty good. One day I ate a yummy Garlic chicken dish from the Spa cafe. Dinner: My one worry about taking a Celebrity cruise after the acquisition by RCCL was the food quality. Fortunately, every meal that we ate in the San Marco restaurant was delicious. Some of the memorable dishes included chicken consomme, beef consomme, onion soup and all of the beef. The only unappetizing dish was a dry, chewy lobster tail. ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment is not a priority for us on a cruise. We went to one show, called Batacuda, that none of us liked. FITNESS & RECREATION: The ship has a well-equipped gym with treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, resistance machines and free weights. The equipment was Life Cycle brand and in perfect working order. CONCLUSION: The Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the Constellation is a fantastic vacation that we hope to repeat in the near future. Read Less
Celebrity Constellation Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 4.1

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