Cruise Review Celebrity Constellation April 2-9, 2005 by earlybloomer
Our party consisted of 2 adults and 3 kids ranging in age from 9-15. Note that we traveled during spring break week, which may provide a different picture than the usual one of this particular cruise. This was our childrens' 2nd cruise, and my husband's and my 5th.
Embarkation- After gathering our luggage at the airport, we took a 15 minute taxi ride to the Pan American pier. Fare was around $20. We were glad we had made our own air and ground transportation arrangements, as others were standing around in large groups with their luggage transported in large trucks. We arrived at the pier around 4pm and walked right in. The sign in process was quick and painless. There is a duty free shop right at the check in where you may buy soft drinks, water bottles, liquor, etc.... We put our purchases in our carry ons and walked right on the boat. The Ship-
This boat is elegant and understated. Not flashy at all. Soft colors and lots of wood. No brass and neon like some showier ships. We loved the decor. The ship is loaded with original contemporary artwork. Every day we would find a new piece that we had not previously noticed. Be sure to see the Dale Chihuly chandelier on deck 11. Great sculpture on the pool deck. Whimsical pieces on every landing of every stairway! This ship is loaded with art.
Stateroom- We had two connecting rooms. 7045 and 7047. These were on the 7th floor forward, port side. Some people would find the location to be a disadvantage due to the long distance from the dining room. This ship is around 900 feet long. You WILL be walking a lot! We really liked this location as we could pop right up the steps and be at the pool or seaside grill quickly. The rooms are very small, as was expected, but were appointed really nicely. The bed linens were a wonderfully soft cotton and the mattress very comfortable. Our rooms had balconies, which were really nice to have. A daily wipe down of the outdoor chair was necessary to rid them of the sea salt coating! The view of the night sky from your balcony is a treasure. We have never seen so many stars before. The lack of city lights , along with the sliver of a moon we had, produced perfect conditions for stargazing. The bathrooms were much nicer than other ships we have sailed on. A reasonable amount of shelf and counter space for your toiletries. I would recommend bringing your own hair dryer. The one supplied in the stateroom is on an accordion type hose and is difficult to handle and becomes too hot to hold after about 2 minutes of use. The shampoo supplied in the shower is wonderful, but bring conditioner. It is not supplied, and the water is VERY hard and leaves your hair feeling like straw. Closet and drawer space are sufficient for 3 people. I'm not sure how 4 would survive in these rooms! Cleanliness of the rooms and all areas of the ship was excellent.
Food- We were impressed with the food on this ship. Lunches and dinners were especially good. Breakfasts became a little monotonous. We started out eating breakfast in the main dining room the first two days, but soon ditched those plans when it was taking more than an hour for breakfast. Instead, we dined at the seaside grill in the mornings. This is a buffet set up which unfortunately had the same offerings all 7 days..... On the positive side, there were both an omelet and belgian waffle stations in the same dining area. Lunch was great in the main dining room, but not always convenient if you were in your swimsuit and wanted to stay by the pool. Luckily, the lunches offered at both the aquaspa and the seaside grill were really wonderful. A great touch was ,as you got to the end of the buffet line, a server would carry your tray for you and get you situated on your lounge chair, or wherever you decided to dine. The service was outstanding in every regard. For a buffet meal, the food was very flavorful and nicely presented. Your tray had a cloth liner and napkin, with real silverware. We had heard that the service and amenities on Celebrity were a notch above the other big lines and we definitely agree with this! We ate dinner nightly in the main dining room. Both the beef dishes and fish were excellent. Don't miss the filet mignon- as good as any nice restaurant. We ordered shrimp cocktail and Caesar salads nightly, even though they weren't listed on the menu. The servers will go out of their way to accommodate you- just ask! Our server cut up our girls' steak for them and always knew what drinks to bring us. From 6-10 nightly, the aft area of the seaside grill became a sushi bar. What a nice treat, and the offerings were fresh and delicious.
Overall- we were very pleased with the meals on this ship. I came home a bit heavier than I left!
Martini Bar- This was such a fun pre-meal stop. Unfortunately, the great bartender Sudi had his last day on the ship April 9th. He is returning to Bali to get married! He was a real highlight of the trip for us. A great crowd worker, drink mixer, entertainer, magician, etc.....not to mention the fact that he made us some great martinis. Hope his replacement will be half as good!
Entertainment- We enjoyed the nightly shows on this boat. The resident cast of singers and dancers were a very talented crew. Besides the song and dance numbers, we were particularly in awe of the "fliers", Anna and Jimmy who swung around on ropes suspended from the ceiling. They were amazing and beautiful to watch. There was an outstanding older male Canadian ventriloquist on board. He and his dummy provided a hilarious routine. Another great entertainer was Marc Donaghue- A Brit who played many stringed instruments in very upbeat renditions along with the great Constellation orchestra. Aside from the nightly shows, we were especially impressed with the Serenada Quartet that played several nights in the Cova Cafe'. This string quartet from Poland was a joy to listen to and we made a point to hear each of their performances.
The Staff- We noticed that the staff of this ship appeared to be more experienced, polished, and professional than other ships we have sailed on. Their manner was more refined, to match the atmosphere of the ship. A nice bunch. We also appreciated the lack of overhead announcements on this ship. There were only 2 or 3 made daily, and all necessary for getting off or on at ports.
Ports- One nice amenity on this ship are the thick, large beach towels and tote bag in every room for your use ashore. It was nice not to have to bring beach towels from home.
Our ports were as follows: Casa De Campo DR- we got off the boat and took the free shuttle to Altos de Chavon- a new "artists" colony modeled to look like an old European village. This was not really worth our time. The place was rather deserted and had a very fake feel to it. I would recommend staying on the boat at this port based on our experience and everyone else's that we talked to. Or try to see the "real" Dominican Republic and not this conceived little area that they had created for tourists.
Grenada- this was the poorest island and was very much devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Despite this- it was one of our favorite stops! We hired a private taxi driver (Cutty- who we highly recommend!) to take us to Seven Sister Falls. Along the way, he told us many interesting facts about the island. We stopped roadside to feed some wild monkeys. The hike to the falls was moderate+ and was a lot of fun. Be sure to pay the $2 to the trail attendant and get your walking stick. It is very helpful on this hike. This particular hike is for those in at least good physical condition. You can swim at the base of the waterfall, and locals will dive off the falls for your entertainment.
Barbados- We did the 5 Star Catamaran Cruise offered by the ship. This was such a fun day and we felt it was well worth the $79 per adult charge. Got to snorkel with sea turtles and some huge fish. All snorkel equipment is provided, but the mask was too large for our 9 year old. If you have young kids- buy a mask for them before your trip. Flotation vests were also provided. The boat crew made us a delicious lunch,and an open bar was available all day. A well run excursion. For the sun wary- there is plenty of shade in the lower level of the catamaran, with nice seats and great views. Once back in town, be sure to check out the stores in the pier building. There are free samples of rum cake that are just unbelievable. These make nice gifts to bring home.
Antigua- Beautiful island with beautiful beaches. Unfortunately our taxi driver was not the most interesting guy. This made our tour a bit boring. We chose him based on his nice van- next time we will interview our driver a little more to assess his personality!
St. Thomas- We took a taxi (multi person, open air safari type taxi) to the red hook ferry dock. ($8 pp). 20 minute ferry ride over to St. John, which is just about the best place on earth. We got a snack at the Grotto Deli which was a great find. Then hiked to Solomon Bay for a few hours of swimming and beach time. Beautiful, small bay with few people on it. A real treat. Had lunch at Margarita Phil's which was a great meal. Quite a fun day
The last night- we waited to pack until after the evening show. think this was a mistake, because it took quite a long time, and we were all exhausted. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the ship was again in motion and we were rockin' and packin' at the same time. Not the best moment of our cruise.
As with all cruises, our luggage had to be outside our stateroom door by midnight. We suggest starting your packing during the daytime!
Disembarkation- easy and fast. You are called by colored tags. After your color is called, you quickly leave the ship and are led to a large warehouse type room where all of the luggage is set up by tag color. Taxis are waiting just beyond the luggage area. One suggestion is to eat a good breakfast before leaving the ship. There is not a great variety of food available in the San Juan airport. There is a Starbucks in concourse C , which you can get to from any of the concourses once you have passed through security. As for the security- once you check in at the airport, you will be guided to the security line. This line was about 500 feet long and we were sure it would take over an hour. Luckily, it moves very fast and our wait was 15 minutes tops.
Overall- this is the best cruise we have taken and we would definitely book a Celebrity cruise in the future. After experiencing their level of service, I'm not sure we would be satisfied with Royal Caribbean or Norwegian again. We give it an A+