First off, I would like to say that I selected Constellation because I was travelling with an 8 and 12 year old and had heard that this was a good option...More about that later.
Embarkation was not glamorous, but was quick and efficient. We chose Celebrity over Crystal b/c we were told by a travel agent that they are better for families. Thus, we afforded ourselves the Royal Suite and still came out significantly better than Crystal's prices. The suite was well-appointed - B & O stereo, 2 large flat-screen TVs, nice woodwork, walk-in closet, nice marble bathroom with a large tub (bring a bungee cord for the bathroom door, tho - a design flaw - it slams all night long). Butler service was helpful and made a nice difference for us in terms of unpacking/ packing, although I will say that at first the butler told us that he could not help us with packing b/c he had too many other suites to help and when we were clearly disappointed and he still had rec'd his tip, I think he thought better of it and decided to help out. I was happy to have the Royal Suite and it worked out well for a family w/ 2 young kids..there was a nice dining area for bkfst room service. I checked out the regular rooms and those were light and bright and we would have been fine in those as well...but if I had to do it again, I would still go for the Royal.
Food - San Marco feels like Red Lobster or something of that level. Iceberg lettuce, weak sauces, definitely not a gourmet experience, but passable. Ambiance was okay. We had a very lousy table at first in front of a kitchen entrance. I was surprised that having the Royal Suite gave us no better seating/reservation privileges in any of the dining facilities. Oceanliners IS indeed a fine dining experience, but we were only able to access it twice..would have gone more if we could have. Breakfast was fine everywhere and there were many choices, depending on how much time you wanted to spend. I was surprised that I was impressed by the ship's theater and entertainment. It definitely added to our evenings as we do not go to casinos or cigar bars...the other bars were WAY too smoky for our taste so we didn't go even though we go out to bars at home!
Kids -my children had an amazing time. That said there were some issues - The pool is weak. There is NO service around the deck. Very self-serve. I found it sort of unpleasant to be there even though we were on a Caribbean cruise and spent outdoor time on the beaches in the ports. The kids' programs sound great on paper and they have a decent facility, but the staff were EXTREMELY UNWELCOMING, something I have never experienced before in any hotel program or camp. In fact, the people working in the kids program were less friendly than the staff anywhere else on the ship were to my kids, including security!! We heard this from several other families as well. Strangely, it seemed to work out fine for families with kids aged 4-ish, but not for those with kids ages 6-15. I was really shocked. My kids attempted to join in on various activities many times and finally just gave up. They are very out-going kids and have been to loads of similar programs without any problem. When I finally went to speak to the director about this, she asked me to cite all the examples and gave meager excuses and didn't really care much. Her staff looked at her like she was out of her mind hearing her response. You are really on your own. DO NOT count on this program as we had. Anyway, the kids still had lots to do. There is a basketball court and they seemed to love just exploring the ship.
The Aquaspa - a well-equipped underutilized facility - the dancers and entertainers were there more than the guests. Massages were okay. They do not offer you a locker to shower which I found odd and unhygienic. I inquired and they said that most of their guests did not wish to shower and they washed their hands. Yuck!! Ports - We enjoyed a great evening show in the Dominican Republic. Grenada was not great - too many hagglers on the beach. I wanted to pay them to leave us alone.
Barbados - we arranged to go to the Sandy Lane Hotel for the day. this was a great choice. We had seen the caves on a previous trip. the shopping in Barbados is a completely unattractive waste of time. (Speaking of which, I did not find the info. that I got from Celebrity's shopping consultant to be very accurate - He encouraged time spent shopping in Antigua and Barbados - the selection and quality in St. Thomas are far superior, so it was really a waste of time to do any shopping in the other areas, far better to enjoy the beaches/sights.
San Juan - go to the Old City Be careful about excursions. On our parasailing trip we paid extra for a role of film taken by the crew. When we got home it was empty. So disappointing to the kids who wanted to remember the experience with photos. One diving excursion had a boat that was more like a bus. When I saw it, I just couldn't bring myself to get on it. I am happy to have a place to write a review. Celebrity is NOT interested in any feedback. I found that strange. They told me to write a letter and they would respond in three weeks?!
All in all, we had a great time and enjoyed our first cruise. If you are a sophisticated traveler, you will often feel like a tacky tourist and foolish on a cruise. It is definitely travel for the masses. You will not have individual or unique experiences, but if you laugh at all of that you can still have a good time.