OUR CRUISE in REVIEW CONSTELLATION Jan 14, 2012
CRUISE DATE Jan 14 2012
SHIP Celebrity Constellation
Duration 14 day
Itinerary Southern Caribbean
Embarkation Ft Lauderdale
Cost $1801. each incl taxes /fees
SB Credits $525 total
Cabin Outside 2102 cat 07
As long as we were going to be in Fl already cruising a week on EPIC, we decided on another back to back. A Dollar car rental booked when we got in port of Miami took us to Ft Lauderdale for $38. We learned to check rental cars carefully for dents etc, for a full tank at the start, and to get a receipt when filling up before returning. Ft Lauderdale never asked for the gas receipt, but the previous year Dollar gave us a real hard time with no receipt in Miami, despite the tank showing full. Dollar shuttled us to the ship and we were on board at noon with no line to speak of.
We were welcomed aboard with mimosas or champagne, and went straight to Deck 10 for lunch in the Seaside Cafe in the stern. There was no crowd like we normally have the first day, and it was easy to find a table for a good buffet lunch. Next we checked table 462 for ten in the San Marco Dining room. Our cabin was ready at 1:30 and was so much nicer than the EPIC!
We were disappointed to learn that Perry Grant (a fantastic entertainer) had just left the ship on vacation. We also were reminded that the slots were all OLD in the casino, a letdown after the brand new ones on EPIC, but it turned out they might have paid out a little better than EPIC, although the ship won in the end!
Our table mates for dinner the next two weeks were Harvey and Helen , Ron and Ros , Barbara and Dave, and Sharon and Don. Loretto and Jeffry were our good Phillipine waiters.
On our first sea day we met Joe and Jenny who we knew were aboard for their 9th time on the ship. Nat won $40 in the casino before lunch, and we sent out our first load of dirty laundry using a $20 credit we received as Captain's Club "Elite" members. Our Stateroom attendant left chocolates on our pillows (every night) and left two roses in our room when he turned down the bed. The bed was very comfortable with the extra egg crate on top of the mattress we had requested in advance.A pitcher of ice water in the room every day was another nice touch.
When I got on-line for the first time, I had 132 emails, despite having cancelled my regular subscriptions. Someone in the computer room told me he opens a special email address for a cruise, eg hotmail.com, and only gives a few people that email address to avoid all the emails you don't want. Elite status gave us 180 minutes free internet time which otherwise would have cost $100.
We hung out in the solarium, used the hot tubs and solarium pool, and never had any trouble finding a lounge chair. The tour of the galley was not as impressive as the first time we did it, but this time there were about 500 people in several groups taking the tour instead of the dozen a few years ago. Sailing was very smooth in 10 ft seas the second day at sea.
Aruba was our first island. An easy walk from the ship, we hopped a bus for $2.30 RT and got off at the Marriott on the beach. Someone (a real good looking woman) gave us towels and spoke in Spanish to the guy who came to throw us out, letting us use two shaded lounge chairs. Must have been my good looks but I have no idea what she told him! The beach and swimming were nice, but no fish for snorkeling. Anyone is free to use the beaches, but to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas if we had to we would have walked past the Marriott a short distance. Next time we should do the excursion that Joe and Jenny did with snorkeling at a sunken ship or look for Palm Island that Ron and Harvey went to.
The comedian that night, Greg Klett was hilarious. we had seen him before somewhere on a cruise. In Curacao the next day, we shared a cab with a couple ($20 for the cab) to KonTiki beach which someone raved about on Cruise Critic. We paid $3 admission and had free shade and chairs, and fair snorkeling. I walked the beach for about half a mile, while Nat took a great swim. It seemed like no-one was speaking English, but a very nice British couple who we had lunch with the day before just happened to park beside us. In the afternoon we walked into downtown Willemstat, very pretty with the bright multicolored buildings. We finished up with a visit to the Rennaisance hotel casino and played penny slots, coming out $17 ahead! We found a coupon for $5 free slot play on the Curacao map we got at the welcome booth.
The next day was at sea with a start on the treadmill in the fitness center. All of the equipment was in great shape, and I could watch Fox News while working out. I later attended an enlightenment lecture by Joe Valencic on Sperm whales, sharks and giant squid , very interesting. Joe had been involved with National Geographic and Discovery channel expeditions.
After the talk a few of us cornered him and he showed us some interesting new products from the recent CES show in Vegas, including a greeting card with a LCD screen and USB port to allow you to load up to 8 videos! It will sell for only $19.
Here is a list of special Celebrity features that we liked:(some for "elite" status)
Roses in the room, robes in the room, a gift beach bag (of which we already have ten), chocolates on the pillow, cloth towels in restrooms, daily newspapers, ability to view accounts or reserve excursions from the TV set in the room, many TV channels including FOX, CNN and movies, and the coupons for laundry, internet, casino deals and more, daily happy hour with free drinks (for 3 hours), Captain's gala lunch , high tea, Ocean Liners breakfast lounge.
In Grenada we went to Great Anse bay with Joe and Jenny by water taxi. It was $4 each but it waited until it was overloaded and wasn't worth the wait. Next time we should take a regular taxi...it's 5 minutes from the ship. Great Anse was a nice beach,within sight of the ship, but no snorkeling again. We enjoyed a good swim and had 4 beach chairs and two umbrellas for $25. That night, I slept through the excellent production show (ha). Actually the singers and dancers were the best we've ever seen on any cruise.
In Barbados we docked near a 5 masted cruise schooner, the Star Clipper, which someone told us was fabulous. We also were near a 4 masted cruise ship, both offering cruises that start in Barbados. We decided to stay aboard Constellation in Barbados, but heard from people later that their snorkel excursion with turtles and stingrays was terrific. It went out on a boat called Tiami. We bought a Celebrity Passage future cruise voucher for $100 which guarantees us a $300 shipboard credit on a 2 week cruise and the $100 serves as a deposit when we decide on any cruise in the future.
Filet mignon with some kind of sauce was the best tasting piece of meat I ever had in my life! Meals so far have been outstanding. The comedian from Boston who got on board in Barbados was a riot. He pointed out that in Boston they don't pronounce "R's"...they have stores like "Toys Us". "Where do you find a turtle with no legs? Right where you left it". Both comedians so far were very clean. We spent another quiet day in St Lucia. Next time we should look into a beach we heard about near the pier and a small airport...people who went couldn't recall the name. We could also go on a taxi tour.
In Antigua we went to Dickenson Bay by taxi, had two chairs and an umbrella for $15 and were right next to a Sandals resort. Nice beach, nice swimming, nice walking but no snorkeling. We started thinking about booking cruises for next year, same time as Harvey and Ron.
On St Martin this time we went to Orient Bay, but it was very windy and rough. Nat swam, but I didn't even go in. I walked the beach and went sightseeing (not the nude beach part, just the topless part!) Orient is in French St Martin. Next time we should go to Sunset Beach near the airport on the Caribbean side where it is always more calm and planes almost hit you taking off or landing.
Dave told us of a website to compare cruise rates...cruisecompete.com. Wednesday we returned to beautiful Magen's bay. (we were there 2 weeks before)More crowded this time but had great swims and beach walks. I snorkeled at the far right and saw a few different fish than the thousands of silver fish already seen. St Thomas had more beautiful yachts than we ever saw there before. The last day at sea we booked three cruises for next year, all fully refundable until 75 days prior to the cruise date, but transferable to a travel agent only for 60 days. We booked a week on Silhouette, 2 weeks on Eclipse, and ten days on Expedition for March in the Galapagos. Harvey and Ron are planning the same Galapagos week.
We really enjoyed every aspect of this relaxing cruise on Celebrity, and enjoyed the EPIC cruise as well the previous week despite the negatives. I have to say Celebrity is definitely our cruise line of choice . Food was good, shows outstanding, ship was shipshape.
This was our third time on Connie, but next year we'll do pretty much the same itinerary on a new ship. We've been to all the islands in the Caribbean pretty much, but what could be a better winter escape?