The modern 900-seat Celebrity Theater is where most of the major entertainment action takes place. The banquet-style seats are comfortable enough for the nearly hour-long programs, and the small tables positioned along the rows of seats are handy. The two-tiered theater is three decks high and hosts Vegas-style song-and-dance revues at night, focusing on Broadway and pop hits. Other evening headliners may include veteran singers, comedians and musical acts. Celebrity has a favorite list of entertainers, including a lot of musicians and singers from England, so regulars can expect at least one or two acts during a cruise to be a repeat from previous cruises. Fortunately, they're enjoyable performers whether you've seen several of their shows previously or none at all. The Constellation's in-house singers and dancers are first-rate, and the costumes and staging are professional. The house band deserves the many kudos it gets, backing up every type of entertainer the ship books without a hitch.
Evening entertainment elsewhere on the ship emphasizes music, with bands in the Rendezvous Lounge on Deck 4 performing '40s and '50s jazz standards, some pop songs (a la swing) and other danceable classics. The Reflections venue on Deck 11 serves as an observation lounge for readers or sea gazers and a quiet place for dance and craft classes by day, but it's also the official gathering place and watering hole for the Captain's Club Elite members from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. and later turns into a (often sparsely attended) disco for the few who are willing or able.
The Martini Bar on Deck 4 is a favorite haunt for fun-lovers. It looks a bit like a frozen space pod, with a phosphorescent green bar with silver accents, topped by an ice skating rink surface that keeps one from leaning on the bar with your elbows. It's a combination of booze and entertainment, and the bartenders flip and juggle bottles of top-shelf vodka and gin in time with disco music as patrons hoot and holler. Martinis of all colors and flavors are $10-plus. The colorful six martini tasting flight is $18, which is a very good value on its own, but the show put on to pour the six at the same time is priceless -- at least for the first two or three times. Finding seats around the main bar during peak time is a challenge, as is getting a bartender's attention. If you plan to be a regular at this bar, a tip (bribe) the day you come aboard of $20 or more may result in better service throughout your cruise.
Cellar Masters offers a great selection of wines by the glass, along with some premium beers all served by a very friendly and knowledgeable bartender. Celebrity offers a variety of all-you-can-drink packages.
During sea days, the ship's cruise director and staff offer plenty of activities to keep cruisers busy, although many passengers are content simply to read, knit or play cards. There are usually two or three popular Celebrity Life enrichment events including lectures related to the cruise itinerary or subjects of intellectual interest including astronomy, history, arts and music. In addition, there's usually at least one wine tasting education event per day and several beer and booze tasting events during the cruise.
Celebrity continues to entertain food-lovers with galley tours and cooking demos, but now the company has teamed up with the Bravo channel and the Emmy award-winning "Top Chef" to offer a special Top Chef at Sea experience on a number of sailings. Constellation offers a pared down version of the show's Quick Fire competitions with contestants chosen from the audience and senior chefs. The event doesn't quite equal the TV show's level of excitement, but it's still an enjoyable way to pass a few hours at sea.
For the active, there are exercise and dance classes, but the very popular Zumba classes that were offered at no charge have became not-so-popular now that they cost $15 per session. Other popular activities range from trivia and craft-making to photography demos and Apple-product how-tos. There seems to be an increased emphasis on shipboard marketing related to onboard art auctions, cosmetic and skin care services, jewelry sales and Riedel wine glass tastings -- all designed to sell shipboard products and services.
The ship, and the line as a whole, recently added the new position of destination concierge. An expert in the ports of call, this concierge will arrange private shore excursions for passengers who want to avoid bus tours but don't want to plan their own time ashore. The concierge will also book restaurant reservations and show tickets in port stops.
The social center of the ship is the Grand Foyer, a three-deck atrium with warmly illuminated, polished quartz-like stone steps and decorative, gauzy curtains hanging from the ceiling. Anchored by the customer service center and shore excursion offices on Deck 3, the space fans out and up into several popular venues and lounges including the Martini Bar, Cellar Masters, Cafe al Bacio, Gelateria and Sushi on Five. You'll frequently hear live jazz or classical music played in these venues.
The Photo Gallery, which brings out the gawker in all of us, is outside the Celebrity Theater on Deck 4. Prices begin at $19.95 for a single photo from formal night. There's no charge to get your picture taken, either casually while dining or in a formal sitting.
Outside the Celebrity Theater on Deck 5 is The Emporium, Constellation's shopping destination, featuring a series of stores selling jewelry, Celebrity logo items, some cruise fashions, high-end leather goods, forgotten toiletries ($2.95 for dental floss, so try not to forget it) and duty-free cigarettes and premium alcohol (that are held for you until the end of the cruise).
Itinerary-targeted items are available in some of the shops in case you forgot to pick up a souvenir ashore. Many of these goods are craft and jewelry items that could have been purchased for less at local markets. Sometimes there are bargains and sales of merchandise related to a previous cruise itinerary.
The library on Deck 8 is woeful -- under-stocked and unsupervised. The few books available are grabbed up a half dozen or more at a time by thoughtless passengers who obviously don't own a Kindle or iPad. Wander into the library a few hours after sailaway, and you'll be greeted by lots of empty shelves, a few fantasy paperbacks and some titles in German or French.
Wi-Fi is now available throughout the ship. For those who don't bring their own hardware or need a hand, the Celebrity iLounge on Deck 9 offers a small Mac accessory store, computers, printers and advice. The lounge hosts computer and internet classes, some for a fee.
There are no self-service laundry facilities, but laundry, pressing and dry cleaning is available for a fee.
The midship pool area, with two pools, several hot tubs and plenty of whimsical sculptures (a big gorilla was a favorite), is where the action is on nice days. Get there early to get prime lounge chairs, but don't be a deck chair hog leaving a book on the chair while you go to a lecture and lunch. It really upsets folks and there's a good chance your stuff will be picked up by the pool attendant. If you're a non-smoker, take care to avoid smoking areas along one side.
The spa's 25,000squarefoot complex features a glassandsteel solarium with a large, heated adults-only thalassotherapy pool, hot tubs, a spa cafe and thermal suite, a full-service salon, 13 treatment rooms and a fitness center.
The spa offers a host of head-to-toe treatments and services including facial and body waxing, peels, various facials ($122 and up), massages ($126 and up), acupuncture, scrubs, wraps, hair services, manicures and pedicures. Port-day spa specials offer discounts on several services.
The Persian Garden thermal suite offers an herbal steamer, Turkish bath, tiled loungers and rainforest shower. The Persian Garden passes run about $100 per week plus 18 percent gratuities and are limited to 50 passes, so book early if you're interested. You must be 16 or older to use the Persian Garden facility.
The gym features a variety of Life Fitness treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weight machines. Yoga, Zumba and Pilates sessions, as well as personal training, are available for a fee. Stretch and group cardio classes are free.
Fitness buffs take advantage of fresh air and sea views around the oval jogging track on Deck 11; three times around equals a kilometer. For the sports enthusiast, a multi-use court with basketball hoops is on Deck 12.
During school holidays or summer vacations, there may be over 250 children onboard. There's plenty for them to do when they're not on shore excursions with their parents.
Celebrity breaks down kids' groups into Shipmates (3 to 5), Cadets (6 to 8), Ensigns (9 to 11) and Admirals (12 to 17). During peak family cruising seasons, teens are further broken down into 12 to 14 and 15 to 17. At select times, kids under age 3 can participate in specific toddler activities, where they can interact with other children their age and play with age-appropriate toys, but parents or guardians must accompany their child. These are held in the kids club, and hours are announced in the ship's daily newsletter.
Celebrity Constellation's Shipmates' Fun Factory children's area located on Deck 11 features all manner of toys, a bank of video games and draped area for movie watching. There's an adjacent splash pool, ball pit and climbing apparatus.
Age-appropriate activities are scheduled for each grouping. The youngest cruisers might enjoy finger painting or making a cowboy hat, while older kids might participate in sushi-making demos and hip-hop dance classes. Other activities include scavenger hunts, rock band play and group sports activities. There are scheduled activities from about 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
For 3- to 11-year-olds, lunch (on port days, noon to 2 p.m.) and dinner (each evening, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) run $6 per hour, per child. Nightly slumber parties, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., are also billed by the hour per child, with an immediate surcharge for late pickup.
In-cabin babysitting is available for around $8 per hour for children 12 months and older with no more than two children per sitter. Requests through guest relations should be made at least 24 hours in advance and is subject to personnel availability.
Teens have their own venue, the Tower, a cool, cylindrical and windowed structure that sits atop Deck 11 and features a small pool table, flat-screen TV and video games. Tower hours and teen program schedules vary depending upon the cruise; check with the ship's activities staff for the current schedule.
A small arcade, adjacent to the Fun Factory, features the typical mix of gun battles, car racing and excruciating "use a robot claw to grab a prize" games. In a generous touch, each kid is given 30 minutes of free arcade play to rid crime from the streets of Tokyo, hunt big game and drive souped-up Mustangs.
Parents with young children need to bring formula, diapers and wipes, but there are extra supplies onboard, should they run out. Strollers are not available for rent.
* May require additional fees