We were a bit apprehensive about the age of the Constellation, and about Aqua Class on this M class ship. We need not have worried. This was our 9th cruise, having enjoyed cruises on Princess, RCCL, and one on HAL.This was our best cruise yet, far exceeding our expectations. The ship is absolutely beautiful, well designed, very well maintained, and kept very, very clean. On balance we liked Constellation better than newer ships we have enjoyed on other cruises.
Embarkation was well organized and surprisingly quick. We were aboard ship about 20 minutes after arriving, grabbed a sandwich and cold drinks and easily found a lounge to begin enjoying the much anticipated warm Florida sun. Our stateroom was available a little after 1:00.
Our deck 11 Aqua Class stateroom was one of the new ones added in 2013, The size of the room and balcony were average, but nice. The bed was excellent, with mattress, pillows, and bedding first quality, the bathroom well designed with glass shower doors and a multi-spray shower. The cabin stewards did a great job, with fresh fruit, iced tea, and flowers. Each encounter included a smile and polite comment.
We enjoyed the sail away party - the band was great - and went to dinner. The Blu dining room is beautiful, with mostly tables for two, which could be pushed together for four, with plenty of tables for six, all spaced as are tables in other ship dining rooms. There was never a wait to be seated. The food and service in Blu were superb, actually better than in many specialty restaurants on other cruises. The daily special entres, topped with reductions rather than cream sauces, and the daily special appetizers, soups, and deserts were outstanding. Steak, salmon, and chicken, and standard soups and salads, are also available every day if you choose. Breakfast at Blu is a delight, with about anything you want, served at a beautiful place setting in a quiet room, including fresh juice and fruit, and eggs cooked to order. Blu was amazing, so good that for the 1st time on a cruise we did not go to a specialty restaurant. The excellent service under the supervision of a skilled maître d' was enhanced by the best sommelier we have ever encountered aboard ship. We did go to the main dining room one evening (for veal chops that night not on the Blu menu), and got a table for two with no wait. The veal was outstanding, and service excellent. We enjoyed Aqua Class thoroughly, and while some here have criticized Blu, to us Blu alone was worth the Aqua Class upgrade.
The Seaside Café, the buffet on deck 10, was pretty much the same as on newer ships on other lines. It has all of the expected items plus stations for Asian stir fry, Indian curries, and cooked to order eggs at breakfast. Most food was very good, some unexpectedly good. Burgers and dogs poolside were fine.
The entertainment in the bars and lounges was good, but in the Celebrity Theatre not so much.The big production shows were embarrassingly amateurish. And an illusionist, and a "comedy juggler". Seriously?
Pools and adjacent sundecks were pretty crowded, but there was plenty of space and lounges away from the pools. We never had trouble finding a lounge. The public spaces are elegant and seemed far less crowded than on other ships.The Spa, Persian Gardens, and shopping arcade were nothing special. With 3 banks of elevators there was little or no waiting. There was no push to buy things. The Captain and crew often walked around, talked with passengers, answered questions, and had lunch in the Seaside Cafe. The only thing we really disliked on the cruise was being required to go to a lower deck for a mindless 7:10 AM (!) "customs clearance" after docking at Key West on day 5.
Debarkation was a breeze, walking off the ship with our luggage at 7:15, and being on the road at 8:00.
This was a really enjoyable cruise. A beautiful, spotlessly clean, well maintained ship, with a personable Captain and crew, and excellent food and service. Aqua class was great, and Blu outstanding.
We found Constellation to be deserving of her high rating and loyal following.