We expect a lot from Celebrity and they delivered. Connie, as the Constellation is affectionately called by her many afficianados, is well maintained and a pleasure to spend on for multiple days at sea. The Cruise Director's staff did an excellent job with the entertainment and activities, plenty to do for those who wanted to be busy but also many comfortable places for reading and relaxationn. The cuisine is above average for cruise lines; it's not Oceania but well about average, well prepared and varied Let's follow the outlinee:
Getting to the ship: We flew to London a couple days early to reacquaint with that great city. Stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Earl's Court. Not luxe, but adequate in a very costly city and convenient to the metro and buses. (HIghly recommend the Oyster Pass for transportation). Train from Waterloo to Southhampton is convenient and frequent, make reservations online in advance for best rates. We paid only 6 pounds per person for the trip. Taxi from Southhampton Central Station is only a couple of pounds and readily available. Boarding process was somewhat chaotic. Extensive security screening, long lines and slow. Once beyond security, check-in was not so troublesome. All in, it took about an hour from arrival at the port to boarding. Once on board, about 2 pm, cabins were not ready as the ship was once again doing deep cleaning to guard against recurrence of the norovirus that had reared its ugly head on a couple of prior cruises for Constellation. (Before going on, let me say there was no noro on this cruise to the best of my knowledge. Diligent handwashing and use of sanitizers, as well as "hands-off service at the Buffet and the dining room, seem to have worked.) Shortly after 3, announcement made that cabins were ready for occupancy.
Cabin: We had a veranda (read balcony) cabin on deck 9 directly below the Seaside Cafe (read Buffet). We had seen commentary that these cabins were subject to noise disturbance in the night; we had no such problem and the overhang from the deck above made the veranda quite comfortable and weather proof Cabin seemed smaller that on some lines but was adequate. We were not sure the veranda would be useful on transatlantic but we used it daily for reading or just relaxing. We stayed busy enough that we did not have breakfast on the veranda but are sure it would have been a lovely experience. Shower was spacious, even for a large person like myself. Despite some commentary about Celebrity, shower gel is available but not part of the routine supply in the bathroom, just ask for it. Closet space was fully adequate. Only complaint:beds are hard, not a generous mattress on a hard platform. Potential cruisers looking for some real space might want to look at the Family Veranda cabins on the stern, they are fabulous.
Cuisine: It is difficult to evaluate the cuisine on cruises these days. They all seem to get some things very right, and some not so right. On balance, Celebrity hits the mark more frequently than some of the others. perhaps just a teeny notch above RCI and more above NCL but in a close contest with HAL and Princess. We did not test the speciality dining rooms as the meals in the MDR were always more than acceptable (and Celebrity may have pushed the envelope just a tad too much with its cover charges for the speciality dining rooms). Menus in MDR were offered wide variety of well prepared meal, with only one repeat menu on a relatively long cruise. Service staff, at least for our table, was attentive, professional and appropriately friendly. (It may have helped that the lead waiter was Turkish and we were able to greet him and carry on rudimentary conversation in Turkish, nevertheless dinner was always a pleasant experience.) The Seaside Cafe offered excellent choices for breakfast ,including a station devoted to poached eggs and the range of dishes possible with poached eggs. (Great oat bran muffins too) The creperie ($5 cover charge per person) offers a reasonable and very attractive option for lunch.
Activities: Not much to say here. I go overboard with Trivia. There were at least 4 opportunities per day, including progressive. But there was much more. Three speakers, one on golf, one on esoteric things like medieval alcohol and tattooing and one, the most popular, on famous criminal cases out of Los Angeles gave daily lectures on sea days. Culinary demonstrations involving a guest celebrity chef were well received and fun. Since this array will change on each and every cruise, the details are not important, just that Celebrity and the staff did a fine job of ensuring that the sea days were full of activities, with a range of subjects to appeal to most anyone.
Entertainment: Classical pianist, entertaining violinist, three vocalists with superior talent, plus a resident cast that performed the compulsory production shows, and supporting it all a first class orchestra. Perhaps the best lineup of entertainment on any of our many cruises
Ship Connie is well maintained. Celebrity ships are not up to HAL in terms of decor but Connie boasts lots of fine art and well decorated public space. We prefer the vast promenade on some of the RCI ships but space was never a problem on Connie, she seemed particularly roomy in all the public areas. Should mentiion here that the senior officers on board, up to and including the Captain, were seen throughout the ship, friendly and approachable.