This is a nice ship that is well designed so you are able to find your way around in no time. It is spacious and it never feels crowded in the public areas. The stateroom is nice and bigger than we expected, or maybe it is just that the space is well used. Everything was very clean and the service was meeting our expectations.
We also enjoy the breakfast and lunch buffet very much. There was a lot of variety. The omelet station in the morning and the pasta bar the rest of the day are great.
The pool area was a nice place to relax. One of the pools was very cold, but the other was nice and the Jacuzzis were set at a nice temperature. We never had any problem to find a chair around the pools. The staff seemed to apply the "no hog chair" policy and most of the passenger did not reserve a chair if they were not there.
As for the entertainment, there was an "A Cappella" group (The Naturals) that we really enjoyed thorough the cruise. Those guys were extraordinary and it is a shame that their contract was ending on January 2009 because it will leave a big hole to fill in the schedule.
We experienced a lot of disappointments on that cruise... Where to begin?
Let's talk about dining. The design of the main restaurant (San Marco) had nothing extraordinary to offer, and the food is disappointing. We had a couple of meal where most of our dinner companions thought the food was bad, but most of the time it was "just OK". The presentation was good, but it definitely lacks flavour. A lot of people were talking about the quality of the food and were surprised that it was not better than that. About the specialty restaurant where you have to pay extra (The Ocean Liner), some really liked it, some said that the service is superior but not the food so it was not worth it.
You can order room service using the TV but don't expect this system to be perfect. Two out of three times we used it our order was missing some items when it got to the room. The service was quick, but not having what you ordered was annoying to say the least.
The library (called "Words") is a real joke. I went there as soon as I got on board and I could not believe my eyes. Most of the shelves were empty and the few books they had included "AAA travel guide", "Dictionaries" and old publications. I think you could have fit all the books available in two or three carton boxes. Celebrity should definitely buy some books or transform that area to something else because it is just wrong to call that a library. By the way, there was a music room called "Notes" on that ship before but it has been converted to a "massage room", so don't look for "Notes" even if you can still see it on some plans near the elevators!
One of the shuffleboard areas was missing one disk and it was never replaced even if we reported it twice in the first two days. We could not get a deck of cards at the guest service even if it says that we can in the reference book in the stateroom. There were missing pieces on the chess boards available in the game room.
The entertainment was dreadful. On our previous cruises we had great shows but we could not believe how boring the shows on this ship were. To be fair the acrobats were good and the singers and dancers were "OK", but the "hypnotist" and the "stand-up" were so boring that most of the crowd left before the end of the performance. There were a couple of entertainers that maybe some really old folks could appreciate but there was nothing there to please people who were born after 1950!!! And don't even think that you could at least catch a good movie if there is nothing else to do because the movies that were showed were either old news (2007 movies) or they would bore your brains out.
There were some activities that were announced on the bulletin board that did not even occurred and when they did occurred they were not all success. For example there were supposed to be basketball but no one showed up from the staff and we were only two passengers so we had to recruit player ourselves to be sure to have some people the next time. The staff literally had to beg for 15 minutes to get two couples for the "not so newlywed game". The karaoke was going well when it was presented in the "Rendez-vous lounge" but was a flop at the disco. The trivia's seems to be attended only by the same 10 people's days after days. There was some dancing too, but nothing to rave about.
The only activities that seem to work well on that ship are the bingos and the casino. I guess it is greatly related to the average age of the crowd which is a really old crowd.
Another thing that was strange is that when we cruise the Celebrity Summit about five years ago there was a midnight dessert buffet that was displayed in the main dinning room that was grandiose but this time on the Constellation (which looks a lot like the Summit) there was no such thing. There was a fruit/dessert buffet one night but it was on deck 10 and it was very limited. It was nothing to compare to what we had on the summit.
At least the ports were interesting but my advice would be to book your excursions off-ship because they are a lot cheaper for the same experience. The best were Cartagena and Costa Rica. Not much to see in Grand Cayman but still interesting. Not much to do in Cozumel if you are not snorkeling (Tulum is to far). Panama is a dump, take a taxi to go see the nearest locks (Gatun) but don't waste your time with longer excursion, they are definitely not worth it.
And about the decoration of the ship... Well let just say that I never saw so much crap displayed as "art". I am not an expert, and that might explain why I did not appreciated the "out of focus" pictures on the wall of deck 5, or the "gorilla with a fish" on deck 11, or the metal sculpture in the Cova Cafe, and all the rest of the bullshit that was proudly displayed all around the ship. The ambiance was nice but the decoration was really awful.
Why do they accommodate so much the smoking crowd? There is a complete side of the outside decks that is reserved for those stinking smokers and this is a real annoyance. They should give them a small isolated room in the bottom of the ship where they could kill themselves slowly without bothering everyone around. I was amazed by the number of smoker on that cruise. I guess again that this had something to do with the "age factor" of the passenger. I think younger people have understood that smoking is out. Just walking on the smoking side of the deck to go from one place to another was bothering enough to avoid it at all price.
I think this was our last Celebrity cruise, or at least until we feel really really old! The poor quality we experienced on Celebrity this time (food, entertainment, etc) has convinced us that we could do a lot better for this kind of money on other cruise line.
And even then, make sure that the taxi you get acceptable before you go. We got a cab driver (Big Mike) that was a real danger on the road and his taxi was dirtier than he was, which was hard to do!
You could go to Tulum but it is far and if you already visited something similar (Chichen Itza is much better) it is not worth the trip there.
Note that just beside the bus station in central square there is a public library where you can access Internet for free.
When I research the available excursion on Internet before the cruise I found a couple of good reviews about a local tour company called "Strictly Business". So we booked with him prior to our departure and this was a very good decision.
It cost us 45$ per person but we got a private tour of Puerto Limon since we were just four passenger in his minivan. The guide (Marshall Scott) took us around the city in place where most of the big tour bus cannot go. He also took us on a boat ride on the Tortuga Canals (The best part of the tour), a visit to a banana plantation and to a national park. He was fun and informative about the area and we really appreciated him.
You can contact this guy at firstname.lastname@example.org
I recommend him.