Affectionately known as "Connie" by its fans, the 2,034-passenger Celebrity Constellation debuted in 2002 as the fourth and final ship in Celebrity Cruises' Millennium Class. Over the years, the ship has developed a host of admirers and repeat cruisers who are drawn to its value, comfort, above-average food and drink offerings, friendly crew, spotless facilities and intriguing itineraries.
In 2013, the ship went into dry dock for a major makeover. The 66 staterooms added include popular AquaClass cabins and their companion Blu restaurant featuring healthy "clean cuisine." Other new features include the addition of private verandahs for the eight Celebrity Suites, an upgraded basketball court, an iLounge with Apple workstations and a retail store, and new meeting and conference spaces. Also upgraded was the Wi-Fi throughout the ship with a new easier-to-manage log-on system. Some common areas and staterooms were redecorated with new color schemes, carpeting and upholstery reflective of the newer Solstice Class.
Constellation, and the Celebrity line as a whole, attract older cruisers looking for an experience that offers value and a bit of luxury. In both price, quality of food and service, and general ambience, Connie strives to balance the intimacy offered by smaller ships and the leisure, entertainment and dining perks offered by bigger ships. Passengers have access to nine bars and lounges; French, Italian and bistro alternative restaurants; a large casino and nightly Vegas-styled entertainment.
The staff is friendly and helpful, and senior officers, including the captain, are very visible and accessible. All go out of their way to chat with passengers on their frequent walks through the ship and at shipboard events.
Celebrity attracts upper middleclass passengers, many of whom are experienced, savvy travelers who have sailed on the ship several times. Passenger demographics depend on the season and itinerary, with summer and seasonal holidays drawing more families with children than other times of the year. The ice-frosted martini bar and casino are lively evening venues, but this is not a late-night disco-loving party boat. Passengers are typically in the 40 to 70 age range, although it's not uncommon to see some couples in their 20s and 30s – many enjoying honeymoons or a first cruise.
Americans, Canadians and Europeans usually make up the largest passenger groups, though the mix can significantly change with the itinerary. When the ship is in Europe, the passenger mix is international, with a roughly even blend of North American and European cruisers, mostly hailing from England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. For Asian routes, the number of Asians and Asian-Americans spikes significantly, as does the number of Australians and New Zealanders. Eastern Mediterranean cruises see a marked increase in cruisers from Slavic and Eastern European countries. In the Caribbean, expect the breakdown to skew much more toward North American, especially from wintry areas of the United States and Canada.
During the day, dress is resort casual, but Celebrity passengers tend to dress up for dinner -- typically button-down or dressy Tommy Bahama-type sport shirts and slacks for men and dresses or smart-casual pants for women. Formal night on Celebrity has been replaced by "evening chic" in the main dining room. This means that men can ditch the full suit and tie in favor of a sport coat and collared shirt, with designer jeans. Women can wear cocktail dresses, sundresses or designer jeans or nice pants. In the buffet, almost any form of dress is allowed except swimwear, flip-flops, spa robes and bare feet.
Tips aren't included in the cruise fare, but suggested gratuities are automatically added to onboard accounts at a rate of $13.50 per person, per day, for those in standard cabins; $14 per person, per day, for Concierge Class or AquaClass; and $17 per person, per day, for passengers in suites. Adjustments to gratuities can be made through the guest relations desk until the last day of the cruise. An 18 percent charge is added automatically to all beverage and minibar purchases, as well as spa and salon charges. You can't remove these gratuities, but can add to them.
Many grateful cruisers offer the best of servers, bartenders and room attendants an additional gratuity of $5 to $40 per person at the end of the cruise in appreciation of outstanding service. Some savvy cruisers do this at the beginning of the trip to gain an edge on service for the duration.