Although we have cruised many times over the years, this was our first trip with Celebrity. We usually prefer the newer, mega cruise ships for the greater variety of amenities & entertainment, but the Constellation didn't disappoint. The not-so-small Constellation holds approximately 2,449 passengers & 941 crew. It entered service in May 2002. We had a short delay boarding due to Public Health Inspection. Later we learned that the ship scored a 99% rating, lowered only because of a cracked tile - quite impressive! There were a large number of Europeans onboard - many from Germany and the UK. Australia was also well represented as well as Canada & South America. Announcements were made in English, German, French, sometimes also Spanish. After the first day, the frequency of announcements lessened considerably.
Question people as to why they cruise and most mention the food at the top of their list. Well, the food onboard was delicious. We always ate dinner in the main dining room, the elegant yet understated, San Marco Restaurant because the food was so wonderful. The 2-deck high windows at the rear of the restaurant and large side windows afford beautiful ocean views on both levels. A center ceiling of rose-colored glass casts a rosy glow over the entire restaurant. Tables are dressed in crisp white linens with either a small floral vase or a flickering tea light candle (battery-operated for safety.) The food has a French slant to it. The head chef is French. We had lobster on the last formal night.
One of the reasons that we were so satisfied with the food was our waiter, Gede. We always asked to be seated at one of his tables. He received a Crewmember of the Month award for the previous month. He has been with Celebrity for 13 years. Every night he offered his informed recommendations with explanations. After a short time, he anticipated our requests. Attention is given to every diner, adult or child alike, by the entire wait staff. Tables were cleared and reset moments after being vacated. I can't say enough about how smoothly the dining room was run starting from the hostesses, Amy & Alexandra at the upper level entrance. The chefs also did a terrific job with presentation of the dishes. We enjoy choosing our own time to dine & hadn't cruised on Celebrity sooner since it only recently offered this option. We usually dined between 6-6:30 and we never encountered a line or a difficulty is getting a table where we wanted to sit.
The buffets in the Seaside Cafe were quite extensive - the best I have had on any ship that I've cruised. English & American Breakfasts were available with a wide selection of items. Lunches include a German Corner and Mexican & Asian selections plus soups, salads, sandwiches and hot entrees/meats of every kind. We both enjoyed the best pizza we've ever had on any ship. I loved the wide variety of complementary sushi available nightly also. My husband enjoyed the evening stir fry. I especially appreciated the ice cream/frozen yogurt, sorbet and soft serve ice cream available. We often observed crew offering to carry trays for elderly passengers & bringing coffee refills or desserts to passengers. The great ratio of passengers to crew members made a big difference in service & it showed.
I would be remiss if I didn't extol the extravagant Easter Brunch prepared for us complete with foil -wrapped large Chocolate Easter Bunnies & Eggs. It was a feast for the eyes. The same sumptuous brunch was repeated later in the cruise - don't miss it. I especially enjoyed photographing the large roasted pig, the ice sculptures and all the desserts. Everything was fabulous.
For me, though, it is the itinerary that is most important. Most passengers that I spoke with said that the itinerary motivated them to choose this particular cruise. Although Port Canaveral is ten minutes away from where we live, we chose to drive 3 hours to Fort Lauderdale for this 14-night cruise to the Exotic Southern Caribbean. Our Ports of Call were Aruba, Curacao, Granada, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten & St Thomas. We hadn't visited these islands in a long time, so we took shore excursions for most of them. Our Celebrity-run Shore Excursions were well-organized, high quality, very educational and fun. The costs varied from $24.75 on up depending on the activity & length. The guides all spoke English well and were very accommodating answering questions & stopping for photos. Drivers were all careful & polite. Although we could have saved money in each port booking tours directly with local guides, for peace of mind, we stayed with the ones offered by the cruise line & were quite satisfied.
Our charming ocean view stateroom, #2129 was mid ship on Deck #2. It was a compact 170 square feet and had a large window, a sitting area with a glass table & small sofa, mini bar, safe and a 20" flat screen interactive TV. Even though we brought plenty of clothes, we found lots of cabinet, drawer and closet space for all our belongings. The entire deck was very quiet even though our room was close to the glass elevators. The only noise we heard inside was a distant hum cycling on & off when we were in open seas that we thought might be the stabilizers in operation. All the passageways to the staterooms are cheerfully painted in light beige and salmon colors and the walls are adorned with wall hangings. I thought that these areas were the nicest of all the previous ships that I sailed. Our room steward, Saturnino was quite attentive to our needs & stopped by on the first day to introduce himself. He stopped by again a few days later to ask if we needed anything - only more ice, please. One evening we retired early after a long day sightseeing & he checked in to make sure that we were OK.
All the staff & entertainers greeted us pleasantly whenever we passed them. The Senior Officers were visibly present especially at night. One particular officer, Kim from Human Resources chatted with us several times and called us by name whenever she saw us. Everyone on staff made you feel like a celebrity. They all seemed to love their jobs. Rich Clesen, our energetic Cruise Director was everywhere around the ship especially in/outside the theater and onshore at Ports of Call. He was very approachable & funny. We tried to beat him out of the theater each night but never could. Did he have a twin onboard., we wondered? No, but he must run fast - all the way from the theater's stage.
The public areas including restrooms are always spotless and constantly cleaned. Hand sanitizers are located at all restaurants as well as at the theater and the casino. The Front Desk even has a supply of Handi-wipes to use in port - great idea! I loved the new Martini Bar with its sleek ice-topped bar where I inscribed our names in the ice one night. The bartenders are friendly and entertaining. The martinis, by the way, are delicious. The neat glass elevators with ocean views were fun to ride and we used them regularly. We also enjoyed the cantilevered areas in the Seaside Cafe. Look down below through the unusual round glass windows in the floor and watch the ocean passing by. Finding the cozy 2-deck library was a joy for me. The Fortunes Casino was the place to be in the evening. The magnificent Grand Foyer with its imposing marble staircase was striking. The whirlpools on board differed in temperature. The two outdoor pools were a little cool for me to stay in too long. We loved going to the Solarium where quiet music played. Using the warm salt water Thalassotherapy indoor pool there was delightful. Since I don't enjoy sitting in the sun, we came here often. We always found 2 comfortable, cushioned lounge chairs together each day.
The Celebrity Theater wass comfortable and beautiful. Besides the three wonderful production numbers, Celebrate the World being the best in my opinion, we were entertained by: aerialists Lixandra and Ilya, a husband & wife team, David Meyer & his one-of-a-kind musical instrument, resident entertainer Perry Grant, vocalist/piano player, John Bressler, magician, Nick Lewin, a capella quartet Blend Tech, former cop/comedian, Kevin Jordan, Greg Bonham an Aussie singer & trumpet player and Diane Cousins, a funny comedian/singer who can really belt out songs with her powerful voice. All the performers were very entertaining & I attended almost every show.
There was a wide variety of live entertainment around the ship, as well. When leaving the dining room each night, hearing classical music played by the Arabesque Trio was so soothing. We stopped each night to listen. I enjoyed the live island music played daily poolside by Flava whenever we could find a lounge chair in a shady location. My husband's favorite was the Blend Tech Quartet that mainly performed in the Grand Foyer. We also enjoyed listening & dancing to the Carousel Party Band in the Rendez-Vous Lounge. Many past guests are big fans of the outrageous Perry Grant - he has quite a following. But whether you enjoy him or not, you have to admit that he loves what he does and puts his heart & soul into his shows. He performs many nights in Michael's Club, a cozy piano bar room. Terry Dodson performing in the Sunset Bar was a great favorite of ours, also.
Sometimes it is the small things that really make a difference. Being greeted with champagne as we came onboard on embarkation day was a portend of good things to come. The terrific Galley tour was also preceded by champagne - how elegant! We were pleasantly surprised to find a complementary tote bag in our room as well as two robes to wear onboard & an umbrella to use in ports. I appreciated that EVERY night there were two show times (7 & 9 PM) - so convenient. The Captain's Welcome Aboard Toast was a nice touch. Handing menus to and taking dinner request from the ladies first was appreciated. The dining room staff calling us by name was expected but asking us first what we wanted to be called was even nicer. Finding white quilted cotton placemats on the plastic trays at the Seaside Cafe buffets were a nice touch, also. Being able to get news & sports scores back home via the very accessible The USA Times was neat. My husband enjoyed doing the daily Crossword Puzzle & SUDOKO. Foreign language issues were also available. Having the "Pool Butlers" hand us iced hand towels in the Solarium and onshore after a sweaty day of sightseeing was so refreshing. Using cloth towels in public restrooms was luxurious. The cruise line asked us what time we wanted to disembark the ship and we got the exact time that we requested.
I check with a few of the children & their parents onboard and they were quite happy with the Kid's Programs. One day we watched them parading with their hand puppets. They were all kept active with Basketball Shoot Outs, Dodgeball, Hula Contests, Relay Races, Jumping Contests, Scavenger Hunts & Egg Hunts. They were also creatively involved in Drawing Contests, Rainstick Craft, Talent Shows, Torch Making, Sand Art Bottles & Lego Challenges. There were ice cream & dinner parties too.
I had only minor complaints. I mainly wished that the Celebrity Dancers & Singers had performed on stage in the Celebrity Theater more than the three times that they did. The dancers did perform Cabaret style in Reflections starting between 10-10:45 some nights but that was too late for us after tiring sightseeing & early next day excursions. I did manage to watch replays on TV. Also it was a tight squeeze with two people trying to access the closet, safe & bathroom in the narrow stateroom entrance. We found this on almost every ship. The Constellation is also beginning to show wear. She is due for renovations next year. The small furniture nicks & scratches do not detract from her beauty, though. She is well loved by all who sail on her. I heard that they will be adding a few more staterooms - that's good news.
Will we be back on Celebrity again - you bet! We placed a deposit for a future trip. If you like something other than one big party scene with lots of drinking & loud music, consider the Constellation especially if you are over 40. You will especially enjoy the fine food, excellent service and great entertainment. See you onboard.