Celebrity Constellation Entertainment
The Celebrity Theater hosts typical big-ship Vegas-style song and dance revues at night, focusing on Broadway and pop hits. Other evening headliners may include singers, comedians and musical acts.
Evening entertainment elsewhere on the ship emphasizes music, with bands in the Rendezvous Lounge performing 40's and 50's jazz standards, some pop songs (a la swing) and other danceable classics. The top-ship Reflections, by day an observation lounge for readers or sea gazers, turns into a (often sparsely attended) disco at night. Michael's, the ship's clubby cigar and cognac bar, features live sing-a-long piano music. Michael's Club also features evening events like Jameson whiskey-tasting (for $15.95).
The Martini Bar looks a bit like a frozen space pod, with a phosphorescent green bar with silver accents, topped by an icy surface for doodling. It's a combination of booze and entertainment, and the bartenders flip and juggle bottles of top-shelf vodka and gin in time with South Beach-style club music as patrons hoot and holler. Martinis of all colors and mixtures are $10 each, and a six-martini combo is $15. It certainly has a magnetic pull, and during sea-day demonstrations, small crowds gathered to clap and chant "Go Larry, Go Larry," as Larry the bartender executed the challenging six-martini pour.
Cellar Masters features self-service "enomatic" wine dispensers -- just grab a Riedel glass, swipe your card, and choose from three different sizes: an ounce, a half-glass or a full glass. (The distribution system has the added benefit of keeping bottles highly pressurized for up to three weeks.) There are numerous reds and whites on offer to satisfy most palettes, from a modest house wine to a $59-a-glass (Opus One 2003 on our sailing), and passengers can sample a few sips of the pricey stuff for a fraction of the per-glass cost. Human-free dispensing makes the venue one of the only 24-hour bars at sea. (If you have wine questions, however, it's staffed from 5 p.m. to midnight or 1 p.m.) The hotel director noted that he's seen passengers in their bathrobes in the early a.m. hours sipping away.
Editor's Note: Celebrity offers a variety of all-you-can-booze drink packages. For $44 per day you can drink unlimited beers up to $5 per serving and wine and spirits up to $8 per serving. The premium package, at $54 a day, allows you to drink every beer on the list, as well as wine, spirits and cocktails less than $12 per serving.
During the day, Celebrity is less activity-packed than Royal Caribbean, Carnival or NCL, and many passengers are content to get some reading done, participate in a wine tasting, take a dance class or enjoy a talk. The Celebrity Theater may host lectures, offering PowerPoint presentations on a variety of subject matter like the mating habits of dolphins or the exploits of the Viking civilization. Other activities may include art auctions, weight loss seminars and cooking demos. During sea days, the Reflections Lounge always features a row of passengers who line up to watch the ship's wake in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Considering the daily schedules, one thing that stands out is the number of wine- and liquor-tasting events held throughout the ship. Whether your drink of choice is red wine, small batch bourbon, margaritas or martinis, passengers have the opportunity to sample all manner of booze (fee applies).
The Celebrity Cinema, Deck 3 aft, plays second-run films, which are about a year out of theaters.
Celebrity Constellation Public Rooms
Constellation's social locus is the Grand Foyer, a three-deck-high atrium with warmly illuminated, polished steps and decorative, gauzy curtains hanging from the ceiling. Several bars (coffee, martini, wine) and lounges and the casual creperie fan out from there.
Deck 3 features the Guest Services and Shore Excursions desks, plus a concierge desk for those looking to make onshore arrangements like car rentals and restaurant reservations. All passengers, not just those in suites, can take advantage of concierge services, free of charge.
The Photo Gallery, which brings out the gawker in all of us, leads into the Celebrity Theater on Deck 4. Prices begin at $19.95 for a single photo from formal night.
Funneling into the Celebrity Theater on Deck 5, The Emporium is Constellation's shopping destination, featuring the standard series of stores selling jewelry, Celebrity logo items, forgotten toiletries ($2.95 for dental floss, so try not to forget it) and duty-free cigarettes and alcohol. Itinerary-specific items are also available there; on our itinerary, there was an expansive collection of Baltic amber jewelry. And, just in case passengers had any lingering guilt about not buying tchotchkes in St. Petersburg, the Emporium held a "Russian Bazaar," featuring matryoshka dolls -- which we'd spent two days seeing onshore -- for inflated prices.
Online@Celebrity, the ship's Internet café, has been moved from Deck 5 to Deck 6, midship. There are four terminals and about 15 laptops set up for passenger use, and the space also hosts free (how to shop online, how to use Word) and for-fee computer classes (Rosetta Stone self-teaching language courses, starting at $25). Taken in industry context, Celebrity is a little stingy with its Internet minutes, especially considering the oft-frustrating at-sea speed. Pay-per-minute will run you $.65 a minute, but the following packages are also available: $29.95 for 49 minutes ($.61 a minute), $49.95 for 90 minutes ($.55 a minute), $79.95 for 150 minutes ($.53 a minute) or and $99.95 for 237 minutes ($.42 a minute). Wi-Fi is available, but only in designated locations like the Seaside Cafe and the conference rooms on Deck 3 (the best signal, says the Internet manager). If you want to access the Web with your laptop, make sure you consult Online@Celebrity's resident techie. There are some quirky rules to establishing a Wi-Fi connection.
Unfortunately, there are no self-service laundry facilities, which is especially bothersome on a 12-night sailing, and per-item charges border on price gauging. Do-it-yourselfers should bring detergent/use the shampoo and wash in their cabins.
Celebrity Constellation Spa & Fitness
In terms of spa-to-ship ratio, Celebrity Constellation's AquaSpa is cruising's largest -- a 25,000-square-foot complex that features a glass-and-steel solarium with a large heated thalassotherapy pool, hot tubs, a spa cafe and hardwood loungers; a for-fee thermal suite; a full-service hair and nail salon; 13 treatment rooms; and a fitness center.
Speaking of the solarium, it's one of Constellation's most tranquil spots, and the Rubenesque nude lying sidelong puts all who enter in a pleasant mood. We were sailing in the perfect region for such a warm, relaxing spot -- a Baltic Cruise, during which the weather can be windy and cold during the early part of summer -- but the place was never overly crowded. But all tables were usually accounted for by card-players and lunchers. The thalassotherapy pool features four large faucets, from which gush a constant stream of warm water. There is no fee to use the Solarium.
Constellation's decently equipped gym features a variety of Life Fitness treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weight machines. I had no trouble snagging a treadmill on the sea days following my 5,000-calorie feeding frenzies at Ocean Liners and the Tuscan Grille. Cycling, Yoga and Chilates (a lower intensity version of Pilates) are $12 per person. Stretch and group cardio classes are free. Personal training is available for $85 per hour session or $210 for a three-session package. Take note that the 5 session "Cruise Special" was priced at $350 -- the same per-session cost at the three-session package.
The Steiner-run AquaSpa offers the standard pricey treatments, including a Swedish massage ($119 for 50 minutes), teeth-whitening ($199) and the now firmly entrenched Botox injections for your face. Folks at the spa told me about 20 people had the procedure during our cruise; prices start at about $300, but a (free) consultation is required to determine how much it'll cost to remove wrinkles on the brow or around the mouth or eyes. More unusually, the spa has begun offering a long-term hair-straightening procedure.
Look out for port-day spa specials like an offer that lets you mix and match three 20-minute treatments for $99.
The AquaSpa complex also features various "self-treatment" rooms, including The Persian Garden suite, which offers an herbal steamer, Turkish bath, tiled loungers and rainforest shower. The number of Persian Garden passes is limited to 50, so book a full-cruise pass on the first day if you're interested. Access to the Persian Garden is $99.
A private Rasul mud room is available for $95 per couple for 50 minutes of action.
His and hers saunas are available for free in the men's and women's locker rooms.
Celebrity Cruises was the first line to offer acupuncture at sea. Constellation's stand-alone acupuncture venue is located on Deck 6. Hours are very limited.
A midship pool area, complete with two pools, several hot tubs and plenty of whimsical sculptures (a big gorilla was a favorite) was somewhat underused during our Baltic Cruise, although sunbathers took full advantage of the lounging opportunities when the rays were there. Naturally, when the ship repositions to warmer climes, the pool area becomes the sea-day hub.
There's a jogging track on Deck 11; three times around equal a kilometer (or 5/8 a mile), so a little less than five times around equals a mile. For the sports enthusiast, a multi-use court with basketball hoops and mini-soccer goals are up on Deck 12 -- this area was largely left alone during the dry dock, and it shows; it's beset with rusted corners and ripped nets.