Constellation 1/02/11-1/15/11 San Diego-Fort Lauderdale 13 nights
My husband and I traveled on the Celebrity Constellation from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale. It was our second Celebrity cruise. We have also cruised Carnival, Premier, NCL, Holland America, and most recently Royal Caribbean. I have read and learned so much on CC that I want to share our experience.
Embarkation: This was the only area where improvement is needed. I need to start with the fact that our documents did say that arrival after 2PM was recommended. As all seasoned cruisers know most ships begin boarding between 11:30 and 12. When we arrived at 11AM cruisers from the previous trip were still at the terminal. Wow we had never seen that before. The luggage drop off area was chaos. That is because there was only one porter to collect all the luggage of the arriving passengers. The other porters were still helping the departing passengers. Once we dropped off our luggage we headed to the check in area. Short line, we got our sea pass cards and boarding group number one and off we went. The check in agent said boarding should begin about 11:30. We made our way to a large room with folding chairs and we waited and waited. To summarize boarding for passengers did not begin until 2 PM. Our beef is that no information was given. If they had explained the delay it would have made things better. Communication was lacking here.
The Ship: The overall appearance of the ship was beautiful. Everything was sparkling clean and if there was wear and tear we never saw it!!! My husband noticed that several LED lights were not working especially on the stair treads in one of the lounges that was dimly lit, but I would never have noticed it. He felt it was safety issue. We spent our first half hour exploring the ship. We decided to have a quiet lunch on Bistro on 5. One of the best tips we read on CC. We were the only patrons the entire time!! Lunch was great and we vowed to return later in the cruise, which we did.
Cabin: We had a veranda cabin on deck 7. On first entering the cabin looked smaller than others we have had. Once our luggage came and we unpacked, the efficiency of the storage made up for it. We had a place for everything plus storage that we never used, making the cabin very efficient and not so small any more. The bathroom also had plenty of storage. The only criticism here was the hairdryer. It was fixed on the bathroom wall and not very efficient. I was very happy I brought my own. Now I could dry my hair in the cabin at the vanity while my husband showered.
Food: We ate most breakfasts in the Buffet. Never had trouble finding a table and I never felt crowded.Food was plentiful, lots of variety. Omelet stations, poached egg station, waffle, French toast and pancake station. The stations made the buffet very efficient. Coffee was hot and good. We had breakfast twice in the dining room. Service was fast, food good, not as big a selection as buffet, but being waited on was a plus. We had lunch in either the buffet or at the grill, the selection seemed large. Most days we opted for a light meal at lunch.
Dinners: We had select dining. Let me start by saying we sat in different sections, repeating wait staff only a few times. We never waited for a table. Service each night was efficient and orders were received promptly and correctly. The one thing I don’t get about select dining is the reservation system. We had made reservations online prior to our cruise as is suggested. They always had a table for us, but the dining room manager consistently made comments that we could get a more desirable table by arriving earlier or at a different time. HUH?? As the cruise progressed we continued to arrive at our reserved time and the comments stopped. Overall we were pleased with our select dining experience and we booked that for our next cruise.
We ate at both the Tuscan Grille and Oceanliners. Both were outstanding in service and food and presentation. I would recommend both these restaurants, with Ocean liners being our favorite.
Formal nights: We made a decision before the cruise not to dress for formal nights for many reasons. We made reservations for the specialty restaurants on the first two formal nights and ate at Bistro on 5 for the third. This allowed us to stay within the luggage weight and allowance for our airlines and have an overall more relaxed dining experience.
Birthday celebration: My husband’s birthday happened to be on a sea day and also our second formal night. He had asked me not to make a big deal about this. He preferred to keep it quiet, no decorations, or singing waiters. We had reservations for Tuscan Grille that night. In our cabin on our arrival to the ship, there was an envelope addressed to only me and inside was a short note from the captain’s club concierge stating that they noted it was my husband’s birthday and if there was any way they could help me in celebrating that day to let them know. Another Wow!! I knew I wanted to try to arrange for a bridge tour. On the first sea day I called the concierge dept and made that request. They said “They would be happy to make that happen” … And they did. The day before his birthday he received an invitation to attend a bridge tour. He was very surprised and excited. It was a perfect way for him to celebrate his day!! He also received a certificate good for 30 dollars in purchases in the on board shops, a very nice touch and totally unexpected!!
We especially appreciated the smoking policy on Celebrity. We never smelled smoke the whole trip. The entertainment was plentiful around the ship. There were multiple venues every night with music playing throughout the evening. We attended most of the evening shows and enjoyed them all. We thought the singers/dancers on this ship were the best we have seen on any ship. Their shows and the guest entertainers were all very good. A bonus on this trip was that there was a large jazz group on board consisting of several bands and followers. They were not part of the ship’s entertainment, but they played in the lounge areas of the ship almost every night and the cruise director announced that we were allowed to go listen whenever they were playing. This added to our trip as we enjoyed their music.
Ports: Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. We booked a private excursion. My husband had seen a small boat whale watch on the Celebrity site when investigating this cruise and that‘s what he wanted to do. When the shore excursions for this trip came on the web site, the small boat excursion was not available. So after some investigation I booked an independent excursion. It was a fifteen person boat. The excursion was fantastic. We saw 6 whales up close and personal, (within the government guidelines for how close you can get to the whales), which is what we wanted.
Acapulco: We did the ship’s sponsored city tour which gave us a good overview of the city. It included the cliff divers, which were amazing.
Hualtuco: We did not book an excursion here. We walked from the ship to the shopping area and beach.
Costa Rico: We booked the Rainforest Canopy Tour, which was a zip line tour through the rain forest. My husband loved it, but it was a bit too adventurous for me. I’m glad I did it once, but would not do it again!! One thing I would note is that it was difficult to see much of the rain forest as you were moving fast. I can now cross zip lining off my “list”!!
Panama Canal Transit: we did not do an excursion here, opting to enjoy the canal and locks on the ship. It was great day.
Cartegna Columbia: We did a ship sponsored city tour. We felt it gave a great overview of the city and it’s rich history.
Sea Days: There were many listed activities. Our agenda on this trip was rest and relaxation. We participated in very few activities. We attended the galley tour, which was enlightening. The only thing lacking here was there was no cookbook available. I would have bought one if offered!! My husband attended the navigation talk by the captain and he was impressed with his professionalism and found the talk worthwhile. There was a list of Captain Club activities given to us on arrival to our room. The only one we attended was the backstage theater tour. This was informative and worthwhile.
Disembarkation: We opted for the luggage valet service. For an extra $20.00/person
The cruiseline transported our luggage so the next time we saw it was when we got off our plane in Boston. They printed our boarding passes and we were able to go through customs with just our carry-ons. Well worth the up charge in our opinion.
Overall: The staff on this ship are outstanding. Everyone we encountered was friendly and smiling. Earning extra credits was our room steward Doris, who went out of her way on a daily basis for us. She was the best. We also noticed that the head waiters worked harder than I’ve ever seen, clearing tables, serving meals, trouble shooting, and generally checking that all guests were having a good experience. They all went out of our way to make our trip the best we have had in fourteen cruises.
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them. Thank you for reading my review. Debbie