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You never forget your first cruise. Like your first kiss, the memory sweetly lingers. It’s those warm fuzzies that drew us back to Celebrity’s Constellation in December—eight years after she introduced us to a whole new way to travel. But those were the days of midnight buffets and chocolates on our pillow. They’re long gone and the Constellation is a different place, run by the same—but yet a very different—cruise line. The Ship: Wearing the Years Well The Constellation has held up very nicely since its 2002 inauguration. Its upgrade and “Solsticization” in 2013 brought new beds to the cabins, refreshed carpeting throughout, new restaurants, bars and more. It’s a handsome ship, with a commanding marble staircase dominating the Grand Foyer on Deck 3. One of the ship’s highlights is at the very back of Deck 10, what I call the “Teak Deck” for its upgraded picnic furniture (officially, it’s the “Sunset Bar”). The little patio, like most of the ship (including rooms and balconies), is now smoke-free, enabling all of us to enjoy the view of the stern’s wake without wheezing. The ship is compact and easy to get around; we had the layout down in a day. Its relative smallness at 91,000 tons gave it an intimate feel, which, after many trips on larger vessels, was a nice change of pace. The Entertainment: Mixing It Up There’s been a big change in the daytime activities. Where once there were guest speakers, there are now “Life Enhancement” lectures on health and fitness. “Enhance Your Life Through Exercise” and “Happy Feet for Healthy Life” were some of the offerings. There are also more pool and game show activities, as the cruise line works to appeal to younger cruisers. An officer vs. guest pool volleyball game made its debut on this trip, joining the usual “Newlywed Game” takeoff, “Battle of the Sexes” and “Liar’s Club,” which—a first for us—featured the ship’s captain on the panel. Evening entertainment was good quality, albeit standard fare—Broadway-style shows, a comedian, violinist, magician and singer. Off-stage entertainment ran the gamut, from folk music to classical to rock and salsa. The Food: A Turn Toward Ordinary Alas, from this foodie’s perspective, quality was sacrificed for quantity. When we first took the Connie, the three-star Michelin winner Michel Roux was running the show and each meal in the main dining room was a gastronomical high. Today, the food is plain at best. Entrees ranged from good (there was a nice crispy breaded pork chop and decent tenderloin) to poor (one steak had a very strange consistency). Desserts are merely ordinary. Instead of the rich and decadent “Opera” pastry I enjoyed on Princess, for example, the Constellation serves up chocolate layer cake. The ship’s buffet, the Oceanview Café, runs until 9:30 p.m. at dinner, but compared to buffets on competing lines, seems an afterthought. There are some nice features, such as made-to-order grilling (choice of steak, salmon, chicken and pork), stir-fry and pasta, good pizza and an ice cream bar with syrup and candy toppings. But the desserts seldom varied from puddings or cupcakes. On the other hand, the breakfast and lunch buffets offered a huge variety. (Although sorely missing was the array of fabulous rolls we once looked forward to.) The Extras: A Few Still Remain Some of what earned Celebrity the reputation of a premier cruise line is still there—the welcome champagne at embarkation, iced towels greeting you after a hot day at port, but we find it a changed cruise line, and the Constellation, a changed ship. Those sailing on the Constellation for the first time will enjoy a smaller ship experience, quality entertainment and a crew eager to please. In short, a good cruise, but not a spectacular one.  

A Cruise Review: The Connie Anew

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by rjgdjg

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2014
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Concierge Class 2
You never forget your first cruise. Like your first kiss, the memory sweetly lingers.
It’s those warm fuzzies that drew us back to Celebrity’s Constellation in December—eight years after she introduced us to a whole new way to travel.
But those were the days of midnight buffets and chocolates on our pillow. They’re long gone and the Constellation is a different place, run by the same—but yet a very different—cruise line.
The Ship: Wearing the Years Well
The Constellation has held up very nicely since its 2002 inauguration. Its upgrade and “Solsticization” in 2013 brought new beds to the cabins, refreshed carpeting throughout, new restaurants, bars and more. It’s a handsome ship, with a commanding marble staircase dominating the Grand Foyer on Deck 3.
One of the ship’s highlights is at the very back of Deck 10, what I call the “Teak Deck” for its upgraded picnic furniture (officially, it’s the “Sunset Bar”). The little patio, like most of the ship (including rooms and balconies), is now smoke-free, enabling all of us to enjoy the view of the stern’s wake without wheezing.
The ship is compact and easy to get around; we had the layout down in a day. Its relative smallness at 91,000 tons gave it an intimate feel, which, after many trips on larger vessels, was a nice change of pace.
The Entertainment: Mixing It Up
There’s been a big change in the daytime activities. Where once there were guest speakers, there are now “Life Enhancement” lectures on health and fitness. “Enhance Your Life Through Exercise” and “Happy Feet for Healthy Life” were some of the offerings.
There are also more pool and game show activities, as the cruise line works to appeal to younger cruisers. An officer vs. guest pool volleyball game made its debut on this trip, joining the usual “Newlywed Game” takeoff, “Battle of the Sexes” and “Liar’s Club,” which—a first for us—featured the ship’s captain on the panel.
Evening entertainment was good quality, albeit standard fare—Broadway-style shows, a comedian, violinist, magician and singer. Off-stage entertainment ran the gamut, from folk music to classical to rock and salsa.
The Food: A Turn Toward Ordinary
Alas, from this foodie’s perspective, quality was sacrificed for quantity. When we first took the Connie, the three-star Michelin winner Michel Roux was running the show and each meal in the main dining room was a gastronomical high. Today, the food is plain at best. Entrees ranged from good (there was a nice crispy breaded pork chop and decent tenderloin) to poor (one steak had a very strange consistency). Desserts are merely ordinary. Instead of the rich and decadent “Opera” pastry I enjoyed on Princess, for example, the Constellation serves up chocolate layer cake.
The ship’s buffet, the Oceanview Café, runs until 9:30 p.m. at dinner, but compared to buffets on competing lines, seems an afterthought. There are some nice features, such as made-to-order grilling (choice of steak, salmon, chicken and pork), stir-fry and pasta, good pizza and an ice cream bar with syrup and candy toppings. But the desserts seldom varied from puddings or cupcakes.
On the other hand, the breakfast and lunch buffets offered a huge variety. (Although sorely missing was the array of fabulous rolls we once looked forward to.)
The Extras: A Few Still Remain
Some of what earned Celebrity the reputation of a premier cruise line is still there—the welcome champagne at embarkation, iced towels greeting you after a hot day at port, but we find it a changed cruise line, and the Constellation, a changed ship.
Those sailing on the Constellation for the first time will enjoy a smaller ship experience, quality entertainment and a crew eager to please. In short, a good cruise, but not a spectacular one.
 
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Cabin Review

Concierge Class 2
Cabin C2 8112
The cabin was in a great location--super quiet and very accessible to the elevator. The room itself was standard size but has ample storage space. For example, the night tables have two closed drawers, there are many deep drawers in the closet, and all sorts of nooks and crannies to store stuff. We had room to hang two shoe organizers in the closet. The balcony furniture was mixed--the chairs recline, which is lovely, but there was no ottoman. The bathroom is an okay size, but noticed some of the extras--cotton balls and q-tips are now gone.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • San Juan
    Even before you pull into the pier, you know this place will be special. The imposing 16th century San Felipe del Morro fort greets your ship as you enter the harbor and land at old Europe’s doorstep. Walk off the gangway and you’re smack in the middle of Old San Juan, complete with lapis-blue cobblestones, horse-drawn carriages, statue-studded fountains and thriving cafes. Throw in the pastel facades of the Caribbean and you’re in picture-taking paradise. El Morro is one of two fascinating forts you can walk to in town; 17th century Fort San Cristobal is the other. They’re well-preserved and each takes hours to explore. And with their positioning on the ocean, the photo ops are perfect.Then there’s the shopping, the restaurants, the bars and the people watching. With your ship still tied up at the pier when night falls, you can see the place really heat up. Hang out at the plaza near Starbucks on the Calle Tetuan and let a fellow fill your arms with parrots—for a price, of course.
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  • St. Barts
    With no pier large enough to support a cruise ship, tendering is the only way to get to St. Barthélemy, a territory of France (officially an “overseas collectivity”). But when your tender sidles up to the pier in Gustavia, you’ll find yourself in the French Riviera cum Caribbean.French is the language, Euro’s the currency, locals chat over wine and burgers at outdoor cafes, and there’s even a patisserie hidden away on a back street. But this place is all about the water. The harbor is compact and crammed with sailboats. But what you notice first is the volume of colossal yachts, each bigger the next. It’s no wonder that the gourmet shop in town’s business card reads “Yacht Provisioning.”St. Barts—or St. Barths—its nickname is spelled both ways—is clearly an affluent place. Its people are thin, tanned and well groomed. They pull into town on their dinghies from their yacht moorings or navigate the island’s steep and narrow streets on mopeds or golf cart/car hybrids. The streets are so tight that most cars have to park half on/half off the sidewalk. With the bustling traffic, narrow streets, cruise passengers and locals clogging the sidewalks, getting around is a bit of a challenge, but the ambience is unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean. And after dipping into some shops, if you need a pick-me-up, you can choose from many restaurants and cafes, as well as an ice cream shop. For a foodie like me, the supermarket on Quai de la République was a wonderland. Rabbit and choucroute in a can, cleaned-out baguette bins and hundreds of wines lovingly displayed in their own metal encasement reminded me we weren’t in the U.S. anymore. The shops in St. Barts are chic and dear. But be forewarned: a simple refrigerator magnet to remind you of your stay is about $11. Shell Beach is walkable, which means in this one stop, you can shop, swim, eat and drink—all by foot—my definition of a really great port stop.
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  • St. Croix
    Unlike St. Thomas, its overbearing sibling, St. Croix is reassuringly laidback. The cruise terminal is at Frederiksted, known as “Freedom City,” founded in 1751 and the island’s second-largest town (the capital is Christiansted, a short drive from the port). Frederiksted’s lovely Strand Street promenade is perfect for enjoying the crystal-clear waters and rocky shore without getting your feet wet. Birds and crabs do their thing among the craggy shoreline, and unbroken conch shells lay untouched amid other natural debris washed up by the sea. Alas, it’s a crime—literally—to take any of these as souvenirs. There’s a veterans park along the waterfront, honoring the various branches and those who have served, as well as a number of 18th century homes.Just outside the pier is a plaza, where you’ll find vendors selling mostly craft jewelry and art objects. The plaza is remarkable for its large clock and statue of slave rebellion leader Buddhoe blowing a conch shell in a dramatic gesture of freedom.There’s also a small beach just a short walk from the pier, but the water is rocky underfoot and more suited for sunbathing than swimming.
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