I have cruised for fifty years on many ships, the first being a cruise from NYC to Scandinavia on the STATENDAM in 1958. Over the years many other cruises followed on a variety of ships including the MICHAELANGELO, CRISTOFORO COLUMBO, ROYAL VIKING SEA and STAR, GRIPSHOLM, QE 2, MARIPOSA, MAASDAM and CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. I have endured rough seas including a hurricane while on the GRIPSHOLM. I've never felt a concern for safety until I boarded the CONSTELLATION for a thirteen day cruise from Port Liberty, NJ to New England and Canada. With only a 26 foot draught and eleven passenger decks, including one which extends over the side of the ship, the CONSTELLATION is top-heavy. In even moderate seas the ship bobs like a tin can on the ocean with neither a pitch or roll, but a "waddle and jerk".
The early morning of October 29 saw the CONSTELLATION encounter a low pressure system of the coast of Maine resulting in a steady wind of 60MPH. The CONSTELLATION did not react at all well, slamming and jerking far more than any other ship I have sailed. Apparently the high profile and shallow draught of the CONSTELLATION offered an inviting target for the wind. A naval architect that was on board described the CONSTELLATION as riding like an RV on water. He said he would feel safer on the North Atlantic in his sailboat than on the CONSTELLATION. That pretty much says it all.
The embarkation at Port Liberty went very smoothly. We were able to board shortly after noon and enjoy lunch while waiting for our stateroom to be readied. The room was large and pleasant and throughout the voyage well- attended by our steward and his assistant. In spite of having written confirmation from Celebrity that we would be assigned a table for two in the main sitting, we were given a table for six and told that no change could be made. Apparently the ship was full with every cabin occupied, but I was surprised that the written confirmation meant nothing.
The dining experience on the CONSTELLATION was adequate. Food was what would be expected and the service was friendly if a bit harried by having to serve such a large number of people. Formal nights on the CONSTELLATION would be semi-formal on the QE 2.
The enrichment program was meager, but included an estate attorney from New Jersey who presented four outstanding programs on living trusts, probate and insurance trusts which drew standing room only crowds to a relatively small theater. Why the ship's staff didn't move them to a larger facility when their popularity became apparent is still a mystery. The cruise was worth taking if only for his excellent presentations.
I've found art auctions on other ships to be intrusive. On the CONSTELLATION they were EXTREMELY intrusive. On the first day at sea we wanted to read in the lounge and enjoy the sea views out the windows. Not possible. The curtains were drawn hours before the art auction and the lounge was filled with what was called "art". Apparently these art auctions are held at sea so as to be out of any legal jurisdiction. It is an annoying feature of cruising today that should be eliminated for the benefit of the vast majority of passengers who have no interest in the trash that is offered.
We enjoyed the ports of call, especially Charlottetown, PEI and Quebec City. Both cities lend themselves to walking which we enjoyed. We took none of the shore excursions offered by the cruise line, but heard mixed reviews, as could be expected with a large number offered at most ports.
The entertainment was not impressive, especially when audience members threw articles of clothing on the stage after a rather ordinary performance by a singer-piano player. Disembarkation went as smoothly as embarkation, especially considering the large number of passengers and baggage involved.
If not for the above mentioned concern about the top-heaviness of the CONSTELLATION, I would give this cruise on the CONSTELLATION three stars. I don't plan future cruises on the CONSTELLATION, but will search for ships providing more stability at sea.