This was my third voyage on the Constellation and she continued to please. In fact, I sailed on the new Silhouette in December 2011 but prefer the Constellation for warmth/ambience and easy of getting around.
Arrived on the AutoTrain from Virginia the day prior to the cruise. Stayed at the Hyatt Place, Dania Beach. Package provided one night's stay, parking for two weeks and round-trip transfers. This is a very nice property with many cruisers and flight crews staying here. Do be aware that the shuttle to the pier stops at all ships; took 30 minutes for the return trip shuttle to arrive at the pier.
I took the 10:00 a.m. shuttle from the hotel. Had to 'encourage' the porters to load my luggage onto the carts rather than letting them sit on the ground. I was concerned that my luggage would co-mingle with those disembarking. Only about 25 other passengers in front of me in line for screening. The waiting area was very well organized with the coordinator providing frequent and humorous updates as to when embarkation would begin, which it did promptly @ 11:30 a.m. Immediately went to the buffet and then strolled the decks to re-familiarize myself with the ship's layout. Cabin was ready at 1:30 p.m.; luggage arrived promptly.
Had a balcony cabin forward of the glass elevators, portside. Requested an 'egg crate' foam pad for the bed. Hung a wreath on the door - my way of quickly locating my 'home' in the long line of cabins.
Elite breakfast: meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries and delicious speciality coffees, Bellini's and Mimosa's.
Food in the buffet was good: breakfast was the same every day and I did a mix of the American and British selections. Lunch in the buffet had good variety from day to day. Enjoyed the sushi in the evenings as a pre-dinner snack.
As a solo traveller, I prefer fixed-table dining and selected the 8:30 seating. Had a marvelous set of table mates: couples from Australia, Germany, California and Florida. We never lacked for interesting and spirited conversation.
The main dining room's food was very good; I enjoy lamb which was offered several evenings. Was disappointed that escargot was not offered on the 'every day' side of the menu. While it was mentioned that the supplier was having issues with providing a sufficient supply, we guessed that this might be a cost-cutting measure (as was the lack of shrimp cocktail at the gala brunch).
Entertainment was good to very good. Enjoyed two of the three production shows, had seen two of the speciality acts on the Silhouette which were worth repeating, enjoyed seeing Diane, the Welsh comedian/singer, again.
Of course, as a Perry Grant fan, attended the majority of his 7:30 p.m. shows in Michaels Club and both appearances in the main theater. For newcomers to Perry, it can be a love or hate response. Everyone must see him at least once to know which pack you fall into. His loyal following is legendary and his talent is unique (he moves to the Eclipse in the late Fall I believe).
At every activity (Captain's Club or Cruise Critic), it was mentioned that the Connie is the fleet-wide ship with the most repeat cruisers. Passengers love the ship itself (easy to navigate and Perry Grant)and the Southern Caribbean itinerary. Unfortunately, the 04/21/12 cruise, was the last time the Connie sailed the southern Caribbean run. When returning from Euroipe in the Fall, she will revert to four- and five-day cruises. What a shame for us fans, but it was explained that the Eclipse has 900 more beds and this itinerary always sells out. Question is: do passengers enjoy the Connie and Perry more than the itinerary? Time will tell.
The Connie is showing a bit of rust and worn wood on railings; the wood planking at the pools needs refurbishment. However, the carpeting and furnishings are in very good condition. The dining room chairs are actually comfortable unlike those on the Silhouette (pillows were needed because the chairs were too deep and waiters had to move the chairs out of necessity rather than courtesy because they were so heavy/wide).
Ports: Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Saint Martin and Saint Thomas. Aruba: beautiful beaches, town OK (lots of road construction), took a non-ship tour. Curacao: beautiful Dutch architecture, interesting movable bridge across the shipping lane; took a non-ship tour. Grenada: more authentic island experience downtown; took the ship's 'Land Rover' tour; had a very good guide who pulled all types of spice and fruits from trees and brought them to us; known for the spice market. St. Lucia: there on a Sunday so downtown Castries was closed; took a non-ship tour with COSOL; two small vans of ship's passengers; included island foods and a lot of rum punch, Pitons beer and white; swam at Jalousie resort between the Pitons. Barbados: national holiday so downtown Bridgetown was closed; took a non-ship taxi tour of this beautiful island ($15 pp). Antigua: another more authentic island experience downtown; have been here many times; just walked around town. St. Maarten: have been here many times; simply did the beach alongside the 'boardwalk'; purchased the lounge chair/umbrella/beer package. St. Thomas: ship's Jeep/beach tour was cancelled due to lack of participation; started out with overcast skies and deteriorated into torrential rain; shops emptied out as passengers (Connie and Allure) headed back to the ships.
Booked Bermuda and New England/Canada on the Summit for 2013 out of Cape Liberty. Celebrity is my line of choice.