This was our 31st Cruise, and number nine with Celebrity, and second time on the Constellation having sailed on her back in 2012 when she did the 14 day Southern and Eastern Caribbean route. This route is now done by the Eclipse which we actually booked first and then added on this five day Cruise to do first, to take advantage of the 1,2,3 Go Promotion and the Free Drink Package. We booked an OV cabin, which was the first time in about 20 Cruises that we did not have a Balcony, but we knew we would be back in a Balcony for the 14 day Eclipse Cruise so figured we would handle the OV without any issue. We were way down on Deck Two and the cabin was pretty small but for five days was no big deal.
We flew down two days early and the flight reinforced why we never fly the day of a Cruise. The flight was delayed for three hours due to a snowstorm and some questionable decision making by Delta Airlines so arrived in FLL at 3:45 instead of 1:00. There were 30-40 people on our flight who were sailing that day and some were scheduled to sail at 4:00. They ended up making their ship, but were not allowed to wait for luggage, not sure how that turned out but sure reminded us why we fly two days early in the winter. We stayed at the Embassy Suites on 17th street with two of the other Couples we knew, and watched the Super Bowl during their Free Cocktail Happy Hour, good timing I would say.
We arrived at the Pier about 11:00 and were on board by 11:30 having our first cocktail and taking a stroll around the Ship to reacquaint ourselves with her layout. The Connie was “Solsticized” since our last sailing with the addition of Bistro on Five, Martini Bar, AQ Class, and other features which I have mixed feeling about. Mostly had an issue with the Martini Bar which had very little room for folks to congregate in groups due to space restraints, it had none of the little cubby seating you have in normal Solstice Ships.
We sailed on this Cruise with three other couples we have sailed with before and had arranged for a Table for eight in the MDR. Food in the MDR was fine and service was very good and it was nice to see Escargot on the every night menu. The Buffet is set up in the old style and not in Stations like on the Solstice Ships which we much prefer. Once you get the hang of where to find things it moves much more freely we feel. Our Cruise Critic group was fairly active prior to the Cruise but due to the short Cruise we did not have a lot planned other than a small Sail Away Gathering which some folks made it to.
This Cruise had two Sea Days and stopped in Cozumel and Key West. In Cozumel we went with our friends to Paradise Beach Club. A taxi/van took six of us there for $28 Total and it only costs $3pp for a pass that got you two chairs and an umbrella on a lovely Beach. If you want to use their Pool and Water Toys out in the ocean, you can pay $18pp. They had Beach Service which was very prompt and polite and drinks were reasonable. The nice thing is they do not allow folks to peddle their wares to the folks on the beach so it was a very peaceful and lovely day.
In Key West we just wandered around town and enjoyed a drink at a couple of the more popular Bars. My wife and I had visited Key West a number of times in the mid to late 80’s and for the most part did not notice a lot of changes. It was nice to get back there and was one of the reasons we picked this Cruise. You do have to check in with US Customs first thing in the morning here. It is handled very quickly and only took a few minutes to check in with your names and show your passport to the agent. They punch a little hole in your Sea Pass Card and you can’t get off the ship without your card being punched.
We stayed on board as late as we could for disembarkation (about 9:30) in FLL and used the Free Shuttle Bus that took us over to the Eclipse. If I had to do it again, I would just grab a Taxi and give them a nice tip as sitting around on the bus while they filled it was rather tiresome.
All in all was a nice little Cruise on a somewhat changed old friend of a Ship. I do like some of the eight and nine day Cruises they are now offering on the Connie and will have to consider these in the years ahead. We did book the Equinox for March of 2015 while on board to take advantage of the low deposit, on board Credits, and the Drink Package again.