What's it really like? According to Cruise Critic Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown, who traveled onboard the ship as it meandered from its shipyard in Hamburg to Amsterdam early Sunday, Constellation "has a new lease on life."
The ship, she reports from Amsterdam, is sleek and contemporary and "looks fantastic, much more jazzy than I remember it from a visit last fall." Among the enhancements: approximately 65 percent of all carpets, from dining room to staterooms to spa and fitness facility, have been replaced (the new color scheme in the cabins is earth tones of brown, tan and maroon). Cabins, by the way, have new bedding, flat screen televisions, and soft furnishings, including love seats. The theater's seats have been re-upholstered.
The biggest wow factors, she says, are Solstice-related enhancements (Celebrity Cruises' Solstice class of ships, the newest in the fleet, had introduced innovative new dining and drinking concepts that until now have not been available on the Millennium series of vessels).
Highlights, she reports, include:
A popular new restaurant concept for Celebrity is Bistro on Five, which, on Solstice-class ships is a jazzy, colorful and casual café offering panini sandwiches and sweet and savory crepes. Coincidentally, the Bistro on Constellation also is tucked into space on deck five – so no need to change the name.
The Cova Café di Milano, an Italian-inspired coffee bar, gets a makeover and a new name and is now known as Café al Bacio and Gelateria. The coffee bar part is basically just a different design scheme but the gelateria – wow! Make sure to order your gelato served in a home-made waffle cone.
Refurbishment designers took the original Martini Bar, one of the few spaces on Millennium-class ships that, Spencer Brown says, really never appealed to passengers and transformed it into Cellarmasters, a wine bar with Enomatic technology (which better preserves open bottles of wine; this enables bartenders to offer a much wider selection of pours by the glass).
And Tuscan Grille, the popular Napa Valley-style steakhouse that debuted on Celebrity Solstice, is here on Constellation. It's tucked up on deck 10 (great views) in the former home of a flower shop and a golf simulator.
Constellation is the first cruise ship in the cruise line's Millennium family of vessels to receive such an extensive upgrade; it's part of a $200 million dollar investment over the next three years or so in not just Constellation but also Celebrity Infinity (fall 2011), Celebrity Summit (late fall/winter 2011-2012), and Celebrity Millennium (spring 2012).
Stay tuned for more details -- and photo and video from the ship.