We sailed on the Celebrity Constellation Nov 28-Dec 7, 2015. This was our third cruise on the Constellation and she has a fantastic Captain and crew, as well as very friendly and efficient dining staff, cabin stewards, and entertainment. ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Constellation Nov 28-Dec 7, 2015. This was our third cruise on the Constellation and she has a fantastic Captain and crew, as well as very friendly and efficient dining staff, cabin stewards, and entertainment.
I won't go into all of the details of the entire cruise, but I will give the highlights:
We drove from Tampa on Nov 27 and stayed at the Rodeway Inn on Hwy 84 the night before the cruise. We have stayed here many times before, and really liked it.. Izzy, the hotel manager, does a great job getting you to the ship and getting you back to the hotel when you return.
We took the early shuttle from the hotel to the port ($2 pp charge) to get you to the port early, and we think it was worth it. We were elite class, and got to board the ship after the suite class people. We were onboard about 11:15 am, and were given a glass of champagne when we boarded, as is normal for Celebrity cruises. Lunch at the Ocean grill cafe was good as normal.
This was the first time on the Connie that we just had a Veranda cabin, and it was OK, but it was about 25 square feet smaller than a Concierge or Aqua cabin, and we did not realize this when we booked the cruise. Our primary reason for booking this cruise was that it went to St. Croix, St. Barts, and Labadee, Haiti, and we had not been to these ports before.
Our luggage was delivered to our cabin about 3 PM, which was better than we had experienced before. The life boat drill was a joke, as usual, because we met in the main theater, and they explained where we should meet in case of a real emergency. If the ship is going down, I am not going to the theater, I am going to the life boat.
We had dinner at Ocean Liners specialty restaurant the first night and had Dover Sole, which was excellent. You get a 20% break on the price the first night of the cruise, so you paid $80 instead of $100 for two, and that includes the 18% gratuity charge.
The first two days at sea were fairly rough with 10-15 foot waves. The Captain said that the stabilizers were working full time. After that it was a smooth cruise.
On Sunday from 1-2 pm the Captain's party was well done, with an opportunity to talk to the Captain and his officers. I asked the Captain if he was the Captain of the Silhouette in April 2015; he said, "no, that was my brother". They looked so much alike you would have thought they were twins. We had a very friendly and efficient Captain, as were his officers.
This was our first cruise after attaining Elite status, so we went to the Elite plus cocktail party. Only a few officers there, but nicely done. Since we had the free drink package anyway, it was not big deal, but would have been if you did not have the drink package since you get free drinks from 5-7 pm.
There was an art auction during the days at sea, and we attended one of them, but they never seem to change. You do get free champagne, but the prices are extremely high compared to what you can get online. I have been stung before, but never again.
The entertainers for the most part were excellent, including David Gudice, Kathleen and the Saints, Jayne Curry, Jason Bishop, and Flying Colors Duo. If they are on your cruise in the future, be sure to see them, especially Jayne Curry.
We went to the Select and Elite class wine tasting, and it was very well done, with a real entertaining and funny wine steward.
The High Tea for Elite and up classes was just OK in our opinion; guess we were spoiled with the ones on Holland America. We will probably skip this on our next cruise, although we did meet some very nice people. To Celebrity's credit, they told you what the dress code was, and they did not let anyone in wearing shorts and flip flops. I saw the lady turn several people away. Too bad they did not do that at dinner, because we saw several people at dinner in the main dining room with shorts on.
For the ports of call, our favorite island by far was St. Maarten; the people are so friendly, and the prices are as good, or maybe better, than St. Thomas. Where else can you play nickel slots in a casino and they bring you free drinks!! We have been to St Maarten many times and recommend the Explorer cruise as probably the best of the tours unless you are a beach person. Since we live in Florida and can go to the beach anytime, we opt out of cruise beach tours.
St. Barts--our least favorite place on this cruise. You had to go in by tender, which was no big deal, but the wait was pretty long. We just walked around downtown, and went in a few of the shops. We found the prices high and the people not that friendly. We had never been there before, and have no desire to go back. You had to be really careful crossing the street because the drivers would not stop and let you cross unless traffic was backed up and they couldn't go forward anyway.
In San Juan we took the Bacardi Distillery tour, and it was interesting, but pricey. Once you have seen one distillery, you have seen them all. The best part was the ride from the ship to the facility; we had a great tour guide and saw parts of San Juan we had not seen before. When we were here last year we took the rain forest tour, and it was excellent.
In St. Croix we took the Panoramic Drive tour; it was pricey, but informative, but it took 4.5 hours instead of the advertised 3.5 hours. Although we had a good tour guide, it was way too long a tour for us. I think if we go back again we will just take a taxi downtown and do some shopping.
Our final stop was Labadee, Haiti, and we had never been there before. It is a private island which Royal Caribbean bought and turned into a really nice facility. We failed to go to the presentation onboard about this island, and that was a big mistake. They have 3 places for the BBQ lunch, several bars, and several beaches. We did not sit out by the beaches, but there were plenty of lounge chairs, both in the sun, and under some of the trees. The beaches were very pretty, with blue waters. We think the Gulf coast of Florida has better beaches and whiter sand, but we cannot match the crystal clear blue waters of some of the islands. There is a trolley that takes you to the far end of the beaches, or you can walk; we chose the trolley. At the far end there is an artisan market place where local vendors have little cubicles to sell you stuff; some of the vendors are pretty aggressive, but they will negotiate on the prices. We were interested in a 12 inch metal sun face that the vendor wanted $25 for, and when we started to walk away, he finally lowered the price to $5. There is also a covered vendor market place, and no one bugs you, but the prices are not negotiable; this place benefits a lot of the local economies, and we bought some things there.
To summarize the trip, I will do it in the Clint Eastwood way, of the good, the bad, and the ugly:
The Good: Excellent Captain, Officers, and crew, entertainment, food, fantastic ship-very clean.
The Bad: There was a huge group of people ( we later learned they comprised about 35-40% of the passengers), who were booked by one particular travel agency. For the most part they were well behaved, but with any large group of people who seemed to be well acquainted, some were totally loud and obnoxious (probably too much booze), but I guess there are always some of those no matter where you go. Unfortunately they totally took over the Martini bar in the afternoon (which was a designated meeting place for them), and the lounge where Kathleen and the Saints were playing before dinner. We learned to live with it, but we would not go on another cruise if we knew that particular group were booked. It must be a really popular agency because almost all of the suites, Aqua cabins and Concierge cabins were booked when we made our reservations about 10 months in advance.
The Ugly: Nothing Read Less