Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by Photo_Traveler_MBC
- Sail Date: April 2012
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Ocean View with Balcony 2A
At the TSA checkpoint, since we had lots of toys (Cameras, Ipads and Cell Phones) it took a few seconds for the trays to be loaded. Unencumbered Spring Breakers were behind us and did not wait for us to pass security. They just crowded in the lines. When we moved back in the line to follow our stuff through and get screened, we caught flack from a selfish Denver co-ed for "crowding". I fly on business and pleasure about 5 to 10 times a year. As we all know, the TSA Security process is serial. The TSA folks should have been monitoring the lines.
HOTEL - We stayed at the Hampton Inn on Stirling. It was clean, friendly, quiet and had a great breakfast. They also provide free transportation from FLL to the hotel. Transfers to the cruise port are arranged at the front desk.
EMBARKATION - After a quick X-Ray of our carry-on luggage, we walked to the DECK 8 Counter. Our paperwork was ready and we were quickly boarded. It took about 35 minutes from entering the terminals to stepping on the Constellation. The terminal at 24/25 is pretty much an old warehouse. We were greeted onboard with glasses of champagne and lots of friendly faces. Our room was ready at 13:30. That allowed time for a hamburger by the pool. Our luggage came in about 16:00. We were pretty rushed trying to put up a Easter Flag on the railing of our balcony (before we passed the "PortFever" video Camera).
As stated by other "Connie" guests, you receive the safety review in the assembly area for lifeboats. Ours was A4 in the forward theater. Lifejackets are not required. Our review was not terribly delayed by stragglers.
THE SHIP - We found the Constellation to be very clean. No smells or other issues. We had room 8021. That is a veranda located four openings back from the forward superstructure on the port side. Except for the normal nightly creaking of the vinyl patio door and other seams, the room was quiet. The "sea effect" was probably heightened by being high in a forward room. However, we did not have any issues. I could never tell if it was the sea or the wine causing me to bounce off of walls (smile). Some rust was visible on the balcony railings. But, it's a ship. For example, even the newer Koln-Dusseldorfer Rhine River cruise ship "The Nederland" showed visible rust when I spent four nights on it in 1968.
Our cabin stewards were Thanawatt and Everett. Both provided excellent service and were very well recognized (beyond what's included in our fares). They met and exceeded every expectation. We had 7 AM breakfast on the veranda at each cruise port. It's entertaining to watch the activity and scenery as this ships are moored at the pier. .
While in St Thomas, there were repairs to the water system on our side of the ship. Water was off from 10AM to 1PM. Upon arriving back from St Thomas the water system worked fine after a few seconds of black debris cleared the system.
There were rumors of a minor outbreak and quarantine on deck three. That was all I heard. It was a healthy ship from what I could see.
I should have bought stock in that manufacturer. As passengers went from place to place we had a choice between self serve or an attendant squeezing Purell in your hands. I always took a medical grade product called "PAWS" ashore for cleaning our hands.
Great service in the main dining room...We had Celebrity Select. That meant we entered on the 5th floor. We always tried to eat in the section that had Jimmy Carter (from India) as the server. It was run perfectly. Omg!!!! So much food and wine..so little time. We only ate in the MDR about five times. We used the Tuscan Grill, Pool Grill and Buffet for variety.
All of the MDR entrees were prepared to perfection. The chicken and steak dishes were perfect.
THE TUSCAN GRILL
The servers and staff are from Turkey, Yugoslavia (Macedonia), Italy, Greece and a host of other European countries. They provided upbeat and impeccable service. Our Dinners were as relaxed as one might experience traveling in Europe. Yet, it was almost like a family dinner as they made an effort to get to know their guests. The wine stewards at the Tuscan Grill and MDR were excellent. Oh Yes, the soups, appetizers, pasta dishes, steak and filet were as good as one might expect in the best five star restaurants. We definitely added to the 15% service charge for both the servers and Wine stewards. ..Also, they offered to prepare any Italian dish that wasn't on the menu.
The GELATO stand on Deck 5.
Let's see, do I want a good wine or do I want some premium Italian Ice Cream? It was always a split decision. A gregarious young lady from Romania, who ran the stand, was always helpful with samples and recommendations. When it came time to order, there was usually time for talk about the ships departure for Europe, life in Romania, life on a cruise ship and even a Romanian surgeon I met in Denver. The Gelato was worth the extra few bucks.
There was a lounge across the atrium from the Gelato stand. It was outfitted with large yellow wing chairs and provided great views. I consumed a few glasses of grape juice there. Again, there was excellent service.
In the area of the atrium, we had a extensive social conversation with "Katook" (sp?) the head bartender from Indonesia. I told him that I was impressed with the overall job Celebrity does to please it's guests.
The POOLSIDE Grill - The service seemed glacially slow. However, the food was worth it. Cookies, some toppings and veggies were self service. There are four entrees: Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Turkey Burgers and Veggie Burgers. The hamburgers are sourced from Colorado beef. I'm not sure if that will be true in Europe.
The CASINO - The casino was pretty much like stateside. If the casino is busy, the payouts are frequent. There was an outstanding staff supporting the casino. No long waits for jackpot payouts. Many of the machines are older and dispense coins/tokens. Lots of table games and poker opportunities.
The AFT OUTDOOR BAR
I thought it would be our hang out for breakfast. After I discovered one afternoon that room temperature for red wines was whatever it was outside (80 plus), I decided this was not the place for me. However, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the staff. Sunsets off the stern are fabulous. I filed an inquiry about the red wines not being kept at a proper temperature in the aft bar. The ship's staff went out of their way to correct the problems.
The SEASIDE GRILL BUFFET - It was always a good place to eat. I generally had to flag down someone for sodas and drinks. The Pizza selection was predictable. There was a great sandwich bar selection at lunch. It doubled as the grill at dinner. Most dinner entrees took about 10 minutes to cook and were created to your specifications.
The SHIP's PHOTOGRAPHERS -- Love them or Hate them, they serve a purpose. As a photographer myself, there is nothing more irritating when they are not paying attention and start bugging you for group or couples photos while you are shooting video or stills. This team did very good work.
The FEEL -- The art work on the ship is very modern compared to what might be found on HAL. I enjoyed some of the more humorous pieces. The passengers were mostly a mixture of Europeans, Canadians and Americans. That tended to steer the overall feel towards European civility. Children were welcome. But, they rarely were seen running around or behaving boisterously. It was quite refreshing. On Celebrity, we were treated very well. Being friendly and open to new cultures and experiences enhances the experience.
My Stupid Mistake -- I was wearing a "Tilley Hat" for sun when disembarking in Antigua. As I was putting the ships id in my wallet the hat blew away. I tried to catch the hat with the same hand my wallet was in. The hat ended up in the Caribbean. My wallet ended up in the net (WHEW!!). I was hoping the crew could get a gaff hook and grab the hat. I could have washed it in our cabin. Alas, that did not happen. The moral to this story is to be aware of side winds when entering the gangplank. Of course, I could have also used the straps on the hat. I'll buy another up at Grand Lake.
DISEMBARKATION -- We were scheduled off the ship at 10:10. We left at 09:50. It took 20 minutes to find our luggage, get through customs and step on the airport transfer bus.
SOUTHWEST to Denver -- I've flown many hundreds of times. I'm not sure if it was sidewinds; but, the landing was one of the 5 hardest landings I can remember. The crowd on the plane was eclectic. Spring breakers, crying babies, sick folks and even a barking dog (Dogs are Cargo -- Period!)
WILL WE BE BACK??? There is a strong chance of us repeating this itinerary on March 23rd. This cruise was a good rehearsal for the Eclipse cruise.
REVIEW OF OUR ITINERARY:
This cruise proved the point that we don't need "private islands". The real ones are wonderful! Please see the Ports Section for our review.
The elevator lobby was 5 cabins away.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
AntiguaPatrice was the guide on the Best of Antigua tour. The island is another feast for the eyes. The Nelson shipyard and views from fortifications and viewpoints were the special stops. If you love large sailing craft, this tour is a must do. Patrice tried to get us all to sing our national respective National Anthems. That was fascinating. Patrice had a good singing voice. The "Black Watch" was moored next to us. It's a pretty ship. It looks like an old Princess ship from the late 1990's. It was on a two month cruise from OZ to Europe. I wanted to take the helicopter tour over the Monserrat volcano damage. However, the weight limit is 230... Few exceptions. This is where the Antigua charter company should take some lessons from Blue Hawaiian. I've never been turned down on Maui or the Big Island. They just charge for "excess baggage"..,View All 1,301 Antigua Cruise Port Reviews
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Aruba-- I made a neophyte mistake and did not book a tour. When we were leaving the cruise terminal, it was like being thrown to the wolves as all the independent tour/cab drivers were selling their services. We just walked around town and enjoyed the many sights, shopping and culture. We need to return to Aruba to see the rest of this beautiful island. It was the "Hottest" location on the cruise.View All 1,379 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
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BarbadosBarbados was a gem. We took a cab up to the Crane Resort. The resort was featured on Life styles of Americas Rich and Famous. It is quite the place for weddings and Honeymoons. The beach is one of the best (and most photographed) on Barbados. Of course, timeshares are available. We had lunch in the main restaurant. We caught a cab at the cruise port. It was about $25.00 each to go up to The Crane. Next time, we'll take a beach and city tour to see the island. There are many other fabulous resorts and beaches to see on this Island.View All 1,310 Barbados Cruise Port Reviews
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Island Tour-- I woke up as we were approaching Curacao. I thought we were sailing into He## or into a volcanic zone. There were clouds over the mountains reflecting a spectacular pulsating red glow. The glow was caused by the burn off flares from refinery's.View All 145 Island Tour Reviews
Our independent Cab driver was Hubert #132. He gave a very thorough tour and provided cultural and historical details as well as took us to the fort and other view points. We drove around town several times as he pointed out the landmarks. This island was a wonderful stop. I'd recommend Hubert. His cab is decorated with an Iguana on the sides.
Grenada-- We took the Best of Grenada Tour. The Grenada tour made three stops without much substance. This driver was definitely not "Mandoo". He didn't even try to attract a monkey up at Grand Etang NP. We toured a spice factory. The viewpoints they stopped at were usually obstructed by wiring. Be sure to tip the improvisational Calypso singers up at Grand Etang or you will find yourself in one of their songs (smile). I'd probably stay on the ship the next time we visit this island.View All 568 Grenada Cruise Port Reviews
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St. LuciaI took the Volcano and Pitons land tour. Jalousie was our guide for St Lucia. We hit every sight a first timer might want to. The bus stopped at a Christian owned spot. The Maranantha Gardens and the restaurant across the street. (not to fear) They did serve the Carib brand of beer and had wonderful BBQ... Expect lots of stairs and walking as you visit the volcano. Per the guide, If he vanishes, the volcano's erupting. Time to run quickly. .Our driver had a PHD in driving. I'm assuming that was in "Pot Hole Detection". This Island is a must see. Beautiful beaches, bays and coves galore. This tour offered several photo opportunities to shoot the "Pitons".View All 1,209 St. Lucia Cruise Port Reviews
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St. MaartenEverything that you may have read about Bernard's Tours in St Maarten is right on the money. Look up Bernard Augustin and St Maarten on the Internet for more information. Our driver's name was John. He was an excellent tour guide. Beer, rum punch and less spirited drinks were provided for guests. I was the bartender on our tour. The rum punch was handy for working up the courage to feed Iguanas and stand under arriving aircraft at MOHO beach. The plane spotting souvenirs at the Sunset Bar are pricy by local Standards. But, they are worth it. We had a choice between three beaches. A family beach, the clothing optional side of Orient Beach and the family side of Orient Beach. We chose the family beach down the road. The water was calmer and you could walk out about 400 feet before having to swim. It was wonderful. Besides that I hadn't filed an Environmental Impact statement to use the nude side of Orient Beach. :-). After all, the French have standards to uphold (smile).View All 4,161 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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Island TourThe "SUV of the seas" was in St Thomas with us. We were at Havensight. They were in the other harbor. They looked like a sky scraper towering over the hill across from our cabin. The roads were very busy in Charlotte Amalie. It was hard to imagine the impact of four or five ships being in town... I would guess total deadlock. It might be good to book a real tour in USVi rather than relying on a cab tour. Our driver did not drive down to Megan's beach. We had hoped to see that at "Sea Level" rather than From "See Level". There was no need to take the Havensight sky ride as we were taken to better/higher viewpoints during morning light. For a photographer, the sky ride is a morning treat unless you want to catch the views away from town to the East. Again, the "SUV of the Seas " was in St Thomas and brought in 5,000 of our fellow travelers. I would recommend Sharkey in cab "rock and roll" for an island tour. He advised that he was a trained and certified driver and tour guide. Since I'm "certifiable", we got along well. I recommend a tip to Sharkey to go down to Megan's beach on the tour. He drives a cab/open air tour vehicle called "Rock & Roll".View All 217 Island Tour Reviews
As we sit in the fabulous harbor of Charlotte Amalie, I'm left to wonder..Where do these people get the $$$$$$ for the floating toys??? Many of the yachts here would require a paid crew of five to twenty people. This looks like a place entrepreneurs go when they go to Heaven :-)..More so than St Maarten or Aruba / Cura'ao.