After 3 Celebrity Cruises, I decided to try HAL in Sept 2004, which for me, was a big step but I thought, the price was great and who knows, maybe it will be wonderful. I was wrong......and so, I came back to X and I am very glad I did.
I had originally booked an 8:50 a.m. flight and was supposed to arrive in San Juan at 4:00 p.m. The evening before leaving I was so ready to go I called Delta to find out how much it would be to take the earlier flight offered. It was $25.00. It left here at 6:00 a.m. but arrived in San Juan at 1:00. So, after not being able to sleep anyway, I got up and went on that early flight! It was great too. I took a cab with a couple I met at the baggage claim and we boarded about 2:30. Champagne in hand, one of the attendants took my carry-on from me and escorted me to my cabin, #8153.
The Constellation was my first M-Class Ship. I have always loved the smaller ships....Century and Mercury are the 2 I have sailed so this was definitely stepping out of the box. I want to begin by saying she is a large ship, but she doesn't "FEEL BIG".....she is very easy to maneuver around. Even though there were many people on board, I never felt lost and learned my way around quite quickly.
The first evening was open seating and we had a wonderful group from our ROLL CALL who had agreed to meet in the Martini Bar between 7-7:30. We had 20 people show up and we ended up with 2 tables of 10 next to each other for dinner. It was a great start to a great week!
Sunday we went to Casa De Campo and I took the free shuttle service offered to an area with some shops and restaurants. They offered it to 2 places..there, as well as the Marina. It was ok....nothing special but overall it was nice.
Monday was Dominica and we had 18 people from the ROLL CALL book an excursion with an Independent Operator called Reynos Tours. It was excellent and I recommend them highly. We went to Emerald Pool, Trafalger Falls, and overall it was excellent. We left at 9:30 and returned about 2:30. It was $30.00 and I felt the value was excellent too.
Tuesday was Sea Day and the first formal night.
Wednesday was Barbados. The original excursion I booked was cancelled, though the one I ended up doing was fantastic. We went to the Harrison Caves and Andromeda Botanical Gardens, along with a stop for photos at the beach. I must say, this had to be the best excursion I can remember ever doing and was really unbelievable. These caves are 500,000 years old and when you look at them you are seeing Mother Nature at her most awesome. And the Gardens were absolutely beautiful too. I would tell anyone to do this tour....it was outstanding.
Thursday was Antigua. I went on the Jolly Roger Pirate Cruise and it was a lot of fun. It was 3 hours and there was your rum punch, beer and soda. They had a rope where people could swing on and drop into the water. We stopped at the beach for about an hour. I walked on the beach and it was a fun excursion.
Friday was St Thomas. I didn't book anything...just walked around Havensight and used the CyberZone to check in on here. I ended up getting my tablemates each a Bon Voyage gift and actually strolled in and out of the shops for most of the day.
I enjoyed my time in all of the ports. The only place I had been to previously was St. Thomas so everything was new to me and again, all were nice, some better than others, but nothing was bad.
Food is always a subjective topic. What one person likes someone else may think is terrible. I love the food on Celebrity and Constellation was no exception. We had a table of 8 in the dining room. 6 of us from our Roll Call and a really nice couple from Vancouver. I enjoyed all my dinners. We had a group of 10 go to Oceanliners on Wed. evening and I was very impressed. The Goat Cheese Souffle was as wonderful as everyone had told me it would be......and I got the Grand Mariner Souffle for dessert. YUMMY! The lobster on the 2nd formal night was excellent. I always enjoy the chilled fruit soups too and they tasted as fantastic as I recalled. I ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room a few times. The food was always good. As I said, I love the food on Celebrity.
This is an area in which I feel Celebrity always excels and when things happen otherwise I want to bring it to the person's attention (or the person's supervisor). My cabin attendant and his assistant were wonderful. Edwin and George, both from India. Both excellent. Whenever we saw each other they would always ask me how my day was going and if I was enjoying my cruise.
Waiter was Milos and assistant Sulin. Both also really nice.
We did have a problem with our Sommelier though. We had 8 people who all drank wine and for whatever reason, our Sommelier seemed to be vacant. The first evening she showed up after all the orders had been taken. The 2nd evening one of our table mates brought a bottle of wine and it needed to be opened. I was able to flag down our Ass't Maitre 'd and she opened it right away. It just seemed the Sommelier didn't care to wait on us and in my opinion, that was unacceptable. I saw her at various other tables so not sure what the problem was.
The next morning I ate breakfast in the dining room and our Maitre 'd was working. I took her aside (Ruby from South Africa) and told her 2 nights in a row was unacceptable. I wasn't rude or loud, just matter of fact. We were given a new Sommelier from the next night on until the last evening. He was actually the Head Bartender, his name is Andre and he was waiting for us as we all took seats every night. So that is all one can ask for, if there is a problem or something that needs to be be fixed, that it gets done promptly with no backlash. I believe we were all satisfied. (well, I can only speak for myself) but we always had our wine after that evening. And Ruby, who was the Ass't maitre 'd was extremely nice as well.
My other incident was with one of the bar servers in Cova. I had asked for something and she snapped back at me. I was so startled it took me a moment to gather my wits. I realize we all have bad days but there was no need for her to speak that way. I could have been very nasty back to her, but I said to her, there was no need for her to speak that way to me. Later in the day, I decided to speak to the Ass't Bar Manager, whom I had met on both my Century and Mercury Sailings. (His name is Loren.) That was a nice surprise! We spoke for a few minutes and I told him what happened. I was not trying to get the gal fired but there is no reason for anyone else to be spoken to in that manner either.
Other than that, the staff and crew were as friendly as wonderful as I remember. Always a good morning, afternoon or evening, always a smile. The service in the buffet area was excellent too. Always a waiter there to carry your tray and also, after sitting down, getting drinks for folks as well. Whatever the request, they always seem to be more than happy to help
I went to 2 shows throughout the week and both were excellent. A Tribute to Broadway and Around The World. I believe the 2nd one had a different name but it was song, dance and pictures with a tribute to countries all over the world. The costumes were beautiful.
Cirque.....The Masquerade Ball.....I went on the evening it was presented and only stayed about 1/2 hour. They are still tweaking this and there were marketing people on board the ship. They had random invitations sent out to folks who attended the ball, asking for input. It was (in my opinion) just the disco with Cirque Characters and loud music. It was given to me as a gift but I will say I would not pay $30.00 to see it.
I was very impressed with everything. The Grand Foyer is beautiful and there always seemed to be someone cleaning. The areas were always bright and shiny...seems the ship and the attitude usually match.
We had about 40-45 people show up at the CC gathering. It was held Tuesday (sea day) at 10:00 a.m. in Michael's Club. We had coffee, tea, and pastries and It was really nice putting names to faces. Corey, the Asst Cruise Director was there and he is very nice too. Throughout the week we we all see each other, some of us did excursions together and we also met each night in the Martini Bar before dinner. Speaking of Martini Bars, Sudi is wonderful, as others have stated. I tried a few new ones and yes, still had a French as well. There was one called a "Martini Delight"....it was delightful!
Demographics Of This Sailing*****continuing on Part II
Demographics Of This Particular Cruise
I don't know if these 2 weeks are "Holiday" for Puerto Rico or not. There were many families on board, not only of Hispanic descent but I would say 90% were from Puerto Rico. Anyone who knows me, knows I have friends of all backgrounds, colors, religions, whatever. I don't usually post about demographic on my reviews but I feel this was a big part of this week. If a child is ill-mannered on a cruise ship, I am guessing they are the same way at home. As I don't have any kids, I am just going by living 46 years and giving a guess at an assumption. A lot of these kids had no manners. They didn't ruin my cruise by any means, but this is a review, so I am reviewing it. I would be sitting by the pool listening to Onyx (wonderful band by the way) when there would be kids running in and out of the pool, and eventually one or two would run up on stage (during the song) and try to touch the instrument. A wet kid and live wires don't make a good combination. And the parents never did anything, unless of course someone else complained. I saw security called a couple of times. So, there were definitely kid problems for those folks laying close to the pool. As I said, I don't care where people are from...in this case they all happen to be from Puerto Rico. If they had been from Timbuktu, I would have still said they were misbehaving.
Overall, I had a fantastic week. I would sail M or C Class now. Inside or Window...just get me on the ship!
Constellation~1st M Class Cruise! 12-11-04 Then....Back on Century! 5-7-05!!! Check out my Cruise Pictures: http://community.webshots.com/user/lovescruising