Let's begin with a few words about the author. My wife and I have cruised for many years and have experienced most of the mainline cruise companies along the way. In a number of cases, we have had multiple cruises on various lines. We are experienced enough to arrange for our own tours, i.e. not sponsored by the cruise lines. We have enjoyed all of our cruising experiences and recognize that each cruise has its occasional lapses.
Our trip on Constellation departed San Diego en route to Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco (all in Mexico), Costa Rica, a full Panama Canal transit, and Cartagena, Colombia with departure at Miami.
Regarding Constellation, we had an outstanding experience. The ship is understated elegance. Although large, we never felt crowded. There are all sorts of spacious gathering areas. It is the most stable riding ship we have ever experienced. Although now on its way to refurbishing in dry dock, it is meticulously maintained. It has a quirky art collection on board, not to my tastes but interesting nonetheless.
The crew is very friendly and will interact with the passengers, which is a nice change from years ago when Celebrity had a "non-intrusive" crew policy, read "cold atmosphere". In fact, we both remarked that the crew went out of its way to greet you whenever they encountered you on your travels about the ship.
Since this was a long cruise during the school year, younger people were definitely in the minority. We have been on many Celebrity cruises and have seen a wide variety of age groups on board, so the demographics of this particular cruise should not be used as a measure of the age of all passengers on this line. With that said, I would characterize Celebrity passengers in general as educated, cultured, and international, although most are from the U.S. We both noticed more people dressing up on this cruise compared to previous cruises on Celebrity. Once again, this may be due to the ages of the passengers on this particular cruise. There were very few t-shirts in view, unless purchased from the ship and denoting the ports visited.
The entertainment was quite good, but for a more cultured audience. The resident dance and singing company was as good as we've seen. The musical groups in venues outside the main theater were excellent. The headliner type acts were typical of cruise lines throughout the industry.
One exceptional feature was a Smithsonian lecturer who was an expert on Latin America. I found his talks to be extremely interesting.
Regarding food services, we were not disappointed. Celebrity is known for its dining experiences. The service and food in the main dining room was excellent. The buffet was as good as we've seen anywhere. One note: we used the traditional seating method of dining, as did the majority of the passengers. We find that the service is more attentive and we get to all of our activities without the hassle of planning our dining in a group of six. The only complaint we heard was from people who chose the "free style"service. They found the experience to be longer with less attentive service. Do you have more freedom when you dine this way? Yes, but you pay a price as well.
One negative was the 40's night party on deck 11, a clear substitute to the old midnight buffet. It was crowded and dangerous because of it. Surprisingly, there was little or no 40's music played. Free drinks of any kind, including water, were not in supply.
Another negative was the trivia contests on board. Some of the crew acted like they had never conducted one before. Passengers were giving the crew advice about how to m.c. the games. The games were still fun, just frustrating at times.
All in all, this was pretty minor stuff. In general, we had the impression that little expense was spared to provide the passengers with a memorable experience, even though the fare was very low for a premium cruise line. This ship gets high marks, indeed!
Cabo San Lucas
We had been here previously on another cruise, so we elected to tour Todos Santos on a ship sponsored tour. It was well-narrated and the trip there, although long, was very beautiful. The town itself is interesting but not spectacular in any way.
If in Cabo for the first time, a trip to El Arco is a must. Restaurant Mi Casa is also highly recommended.
Many reviewers are not kind to this community. They cite crime issues and "faded glory". We did our homework and booked the highly recommended Tour by Van with Rudy Fregoso (Rudy Acapulco). Rudy and his guide Sergio took us on an exceptional tour of a beautiful city. We found the people of Acapulco to be most welcoming. Rudy's van is spotless, can go where the large tour buses can't go, and is considerably less expensive than the ship tours.
There are some very nice shops near the pier. The jewelry shop here has a superior selection of fire opals, but they are expensive. The beaches are nice, but the water is still not up to Caribbean quality. The nearby town of La Crucecita is a short distance away, but may not be worth the time and trouble since time is tight. The area is picturesque. I would suggest shopping and swimming. The beach by the pier is very nice.
We went on a river tour here, which we enjoyed. We saw lots of crocodiles and birds. As in Acapulco, we used a private van, this time through Okey Dokey Tours, another highly recommended service. It was an excellent tour at a very reasonable price.
One negative note:
I expected an eco paradise here, but was surprised to see the amount of trash and litter. I haven't seen anything like this since we were in Santo Domingo during a garbage strike. Waste Management is needed here. This was all the more glaring due to the country's international reputation for ecological management. Sadly, Costa Rica was the least clean of all our stops.
This is a souvenir stand, pier only stop.
As in previous stops, we used a private van service through Lee Miles (Mr. Emerald). His guide, Mercedes, provided an exceptional tour of a beautiful city for a very low price. The old city is reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The city is clean and safe. In many ways, the best was saved for last.
One note: If shopping for emeralds, you will find a superior and cheaper selection than the ship's at Mr. Emerald in Cartagena.
This is a great ship with wonderful dining and activities. It is particularly recommended for individuals looking for an educational experience and for those interested in meeting people from around the world.
Trip highlights for us (with the right tour provided) would be Acapulco and Cartagena, although all stops were interesting.
This ship and itinerary is probably not the best for families with children, including teens.