I realise that I've written one LONG review, but I've attempted to address some of the topics that I wanted to know more about prior to taking my first cruise. Hope it's helpful to some folks. :)
This was my first cruise ever and it was a great way to start! I've traveled on ferries and smaller boats/ships overnight, but never a real cruise ship. I'd read some negative reviews prior to my cruise, so I was a tad apprehensive. However I didn't think that the Turner Classic Movie Channel would risk its reputation by offering this rather pricey cruise, attended by many famous people, on anything less than a stellar cruise ship, and it seems that I was right! My experience with Celebrity and the Constellation put any worries that I might have had to rest!
(This cruise centered around the showing and appreciation of classic movies. TCM TV hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz were on board, as were celebrities such as Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Arlene Dahl, Sally Ann Howes, Norman Lloyd, Rich Little, and Alex Trebek.)
Booking was easy through "Sixthman", on-line. All information and directions were very timely, thorough, and helpful.
Our hotel shuttle dropped us at the Celebrity (Constellation) pier. Our checked luggage had the correct Celebrity specific tags on it and it was swiftly handled by the cruise line's staff from that point on, without any problems. We made our way into the building which seemed like a proper, permanent structure to me; clean and well decorated, and there were many well groomed and polite staff members available to direct us, and to answer questions.
We got through security swiftly, and then went on to "check in". This process seemed to go quickly in general for most folks from what I could see at the time, but we were especially lucky in that we were permitted to board right away as we had "priority embarkation"; a perk from booking a "Sky Suite" (S1). We had no waiting to speak of. At this same desk we could see some staff members in funny hats who would entertain folks by singing Happy Birthday to anyone whose birthday it happened to be. :)
The line of guests walking toward the doors of the ship moved along very quickly and with no waiting that we could see. There were crew members smiling and greeting us at every turn. Once on board we were given champagne, mimosas, or juice. We walked aft and were free to do what we wished as we waited for our room to become ready. We chose to sit in the peaceful 5th floor bar "Cafe al Bacio" and enjoy more champagne, and some yummy pastries. We both had obtained the Premium Beverage Package during booking our cruise, and this package is definitely a good idea if you enjoy a drink with meals, in between meals, and in the evening.
An overhead announcement stated that all staterooms were ready after we had waited for approx. an hour, maybe less. We easily found our stateroom and our luggage arrived very shortly after. Our butler Alfred (what a dear!) and our two room stewards Luis and Boris, introduced themselves in turn and explained the daily routine. The butler provided us with two methods of contacting him, and he reminded us often to contact him if we needed anything at all. He answered very promptly whenever we did call for him.
There was champagne and fresh flowers and fruit waiting for us. We had flowers, fruit, and a never ending supply of canapes and desserts showing up in our room several times daily, as if by magic. The stewards kept the room very clean and would supply towels, beach towels (excursions), and change the sheets whenever asked. The three of these fellows worked hard to quickly fulfill any and all requests. They all seemed very well trained, polite, friendly, and impeccably groomed. I did notice that all of the staff on the Connie smelled similar, and they all smelled great. Maybe they have rules about which scents they may or may not use?
They didn't discuss the "Pillow Menu" as such, but in our room, we seemed to have every type of pillow they had available. We both seemed to find our favourite.
The room had a safe, a small fridge, and lots of storage for the two of us. The room was tastefully decorated and very quiet. The carpet looked quite new. We couldn't hear any noise from the hall or from the next door rooms, other than perhaps a little bit while we were in the bathroom. But you couldn't hear this "noise" from the bedroom. We couldn't hear any noise from the public space under our room (the dining room), nor from the staterooms above us.
The beds were surprisingly comfortable, and the sheets of good quality. The closet was quiet large and even large enough to be used as a tight changing room if you're shy. :) The TV was of quite a large size. The balcony was heaven! 6127 has a nice balcony. The HVAC system would make a gentle hum at certain settings, but it was not too loud; in fact I found it rather soothing. We had enough hangers, but we could easily have obtained more if we had requested. The drapes were heavy enough to block light quite well. There was a night light in the bathroom that could be unplugged. The hairdryer was not great, but certainly adequate.
We did not dine in the specialty dining rooms but I only heard good things from the few folks I heard speaking about their experiences with them. Well, we did have crepes at the Bistro on Five which were wonderful. All of the crepes are five dollars and they are very good. This Bistro has great hours, and the decor and staff are lovely.
The food that we had at the main dining room, the Aqua Spa Buffet, the Sunset Bar, and the many other venues around the ship that we visited, was all very good! There was a pool side grill where hot dogs, hamburgers, and the like were made to order. Generally I found the food on the ship to be of a chef level quality, well presented, and professionally served. Most of the food seemed to be of gourmet level to me. The buffet choices were vast and there were food selections from around the world. I enjoyed the Indian food. Even the buffet pasta was great; not overcooked at all which is a feat when it comes to buffets.
We enjoyed the "Crush" ice bar and martini bar on the fourth deck. It was a great place to meet folks, and enjoy the very good martinis.
We didn't have to endure much waiting at all on the Constellation, despite the ship being at full capacity (the cruise was "sold out"). We had no waiting at the dining room, buffets, or other food venues. There were only the occasional very short waits for the elevators, if any at all. We never had to wait for a poolside deck chair.
There were always seats available at the theater which is saying something on a cruise such as ours. There were popcorn and drinks available when entering the theater where the staff would welcome you with a smile, and waitstaff would also bring drinks to your seats. The screen was surprisingly large, and the sound system was great. I found the seats comfortable, and there are little tables between the seats on which you can place drinks. Being at the front of the ship, we'd sometimes feel the roll of the ship while in the theater, but it was not bad at all. The seats were placed at such an angle that even short persons such as myself were able to see the stage and screen.
The regular outdoor pool area was a nice spot to read, relax in the sun, or meet folks. There were two pools in that area and the water was not too cold. They are not deep enough for the water to be over an average sized adult's head, but certainly deep enough for swimming. There are four, fairly large hot tubs surrounding these pools.
The deck chairs around these pools were cushioned and some were out in the open beside the pools, while others were sheltered from the sun by a mezzanine that hung above the periphery of the pool area. These sheltered chairs were still definitely "outdoors", but you could still enjoy the pool area if the weather got bad, or if you had too much sun. The glass walls (windows) around these chairs slid open to allow the sea air in, if you're so inclined.
There were always lots of clean towels available and the staff kept the pool area well picked up and tidy. Waitstaff circled the area often and took drink orders. I noticed the waitstaff bringing food and other items to some of the quests who were resting on their deckchairs.
The salt water spa pool "Aqua Spa" was located beyond (forward of) the outdoor pools and it was very nice. The water was lovely and very warm, but not hot tub warm. There were two hot tubs on either side of the main spa pool. One nice touch was that there was a lift chair to aid those folks with mobility issues in and out of the hot tubs (but maybe not the spa pool itself? - I couldn't quite tell for sure). Another nice touch, was that this spa tub and area was designated as being an "adults only" (16 years and older) area, making it an even more peaceful retreat. There was a sign or two that gently reminded folks to please keep the area serene, as "spa treatments are in progress". Many folks rested on the old fashioned, wooden deck chairs and read. It was one of my favourite places on the ship.
There were four huge, high taps on all corners of this spa pool that dropped water straight down with some force, and they provided quite a good neck and back massage. There were fabulous "bubble chairs" built into the two sides of the pool where you could recline on smooth, stainless steel bars, and the warm water would bubble up around you. This area was quiet and the noise of the water drowns out (pardon the pun) any voices or other poolside noise that might occur. This area was covered by a transparent roof, so the sun was always visible. It was a very nice place to relax, especially if the weather was poor.
There were showers, saunas, and a spa treatment area beyond this spa pool. The sauna had a large window that overlooked the ocean. Guests were able to use these facilities without any fuss, and we were able to walk right in, no waiting, no extra fee (other than for the spa treatments themselves). These full shower/bathroom facilities could be used by quests who had crowded cabins as a secondary bathroom, as long as they didn't linger too long.
There was quite a mix of folks on our cruise, but it seemed to me that most folks were middle aged or older. But there were also many young couples. I only saw one child embarking, but never saw him again during the cruise. The folks on this cruise were all interested in the theme which was classic movies, so maybe we all got along better than the average crowd? But I don't really know as this was my first cruise. Some folks seemed to go to bed early, and others never seemed to sleep at all. But there were many public places where the night owls could meet without bothering those who were trying to sleep.
I truly cannot think of a thing to complain about regarding this cruise. If I was totally unreasonable and nitpicky, I might be able to think of something. But in all reality, things went very well indeed. Especially when I consider that there were a couple of thousand of strangers gathered together in a new and strange environment, out in the middle of the Caribbean.
I must admit that I did hear several folks complaining about little things. Frankly it seemed to me that these folks just loved to complain in general, and would complain no matter how well things were going. Jeepers, some of them were just awful. I don't know how the staff endured folks such as these, but they would just keep on smiling and acting in a professional and respectful manner. I know that things must go wrong on cruises at times, and that they do need to be addressed. But from what I observed, the nonsense about which most of these folks were complaining was either nonexistent, or not important in the least.
During all of our comings and goings from our stateroom, the staff managed to clean it twice a day, deliver our daily goodies, and perform our nightly turn down service without detection. Their timing was magical, and we never saw them unless you wanted to. Our butler was very helpful organising one of our shore excursions, along with our other extra requests.
We were supplied with fabulous, fresh beach towels for both of our excursions, along with a very good quality tote bag/wallet for off shore exploring; it appeared to be very water resistant.
Getting on and off of the ship for our excursions went quickly and smoothly (waves permitting), and the staff wished that we "have a great day", and "welcome back" as we came and went. The staff were very attentive to anyone needing aid, and they seemed focused on safety. We enjoyed Celebrity's famous chilled towels and champagne upon our return to the ship. Also, antibacterial soap was dispensed by a couple of crew members at the door, if you were so inclined.
Leaving the ship also went very smoothly. We had our luggage tags delivered to our room by our butler the night before, and he explained the process. We packed, put our tags on our luggage and placed it in the hall before going out for the evening. We didn't realise that we couldn't get our room service coffee on the day of disembarkation (silly first timers), but when our butler heard us asking our steward about this, he said not to worry and took the time to deliver it himself! What a great guy.
We were allowed to leave the ship whenever we wanted to due to our "priority disembarkation" perk from booking the "Sky Suite" (S1), so we wandered over to the bar on the 5th floor where we had first started our cruise five days before. We relaxed and enjoyed some mimosas while our Beverage Cards still remained activated! We only had to line up for a small amount of time in order to leave the ship, and we easily found our luggage and got though customs. The staff was helpful as we lined up to leave the ship, ensuring that we had our customs cards filled out, and answering questions. We took the Celebrity shuttle to the airport. We had no tickets for this shuttle (our fault) but the driver saw our Celebrity lanyard ID's and let us on the bus anyway. Nice guy. :)
If anyone has any specific questions for me, please feel free to ask. :)
I grew rather fond of "Connie" during my five days on board. I would definitely book a cruise with Celebrity again, and would certainly take the opportunity to enjoy more time on board the Constellation. :)