Our only other cruise experience was nine years ago, on the Celebrity Zenith from New York to Bermuda, and we happily anticipated this 11-day vacation on the Conde Nast #1 passenger ship, The Constellation. We liked the idea of not having to take an airplane, as we live in the tri-state area, and the ride to Cape Liberty is just about an hour and a half. We hired a car service, as we always feel that our vacation starts as soon as we lock our front door. The embarkation procedure was efficient and quick. There was a notice regarding enhanced sanitary precautions to prevent future incidents of the Norovirus, and this delayed our early boarding by 1/2 hour...but for a good cause. (And all throughout the cruise, the crew were continuously and meticulously spraying and wiping every surface to maintain this best possible germ-free status.) Soon we were aboard, with champagne offered immediately, and on our way to our Sky Suite to deposit our hand luggage. The glass elevators mid-ship were a wonder, and then we were on the Penthouse deck, where our Butler, Agnelo, welcomed us to our cabin. He was a tireless ambassador for the entire cruise, and showed us every courtesy from full breakfasts in our suite, to afternoon cappuccinos and fresh raspberries & pineapple. The Sky Suite 6125 was immaculate, and delightful. It is set in a small jog in the ship, and so the balcony had an additional few square feet to enjoy. The bed was absolutely perfection -- more comfortable than any hotel, and we've been to a number in many resorts and European capitals. The bathroom was mostly marble, with a deep tub and great shower that could be hand-held. Walk-in closet, and built-in drawers held five bags of clothes (and I only had two outfits that I didn't wear!) Temperature was always pleasant, as we could adjust wall-thermostat, and there were plenty of overhead lights and lamps. The food in the San Marco Dining Room was mostly excellent. I loved the escargot in garlic butter and once I discovered it, ordered it every night, and my favorite entree there was the loin of lamb in apricot sauce.
Lobster tail and Baked Alaska topped the menu on the final formal evening. We ate in the Ocean Liners Restaurant one night, and it was everything we anticipated...beautiful surroundings, a harpist setting the mood, and impeccable service, with Caesar Salad prepared at our table, as well as Maigret of Duck in Orange Sauce. The goat cheese souffle was magnificent. We found the lunch buffet to have the least of our food preferences. Very average fare, but the saving grace was the ice-cream counter!! My husband never missed that opportunity. The entertainment was fairly special. The highlight was the Taste of Cirque du Soleil...I didn't really expect it to be so terrific, because of the size of the stage -- but since ALL the air space was used in the theatre, the whole act was remarkable. From award-winning concert pianist, to West End diva, and dry-humour comic, one was definitely entertained. The ship's photographers did a great job of documenting everyone's good times, and it was fun to look for one's photos among the groups displayed on both sides of their location. The shore excursions we took were more on the relaxing side, with beach days at Cozumel's Playa Mia, and Grand Cayman's Colonly Beach Club...clear waters, and white sands, and comfortable loungers. Ocho Rios' Dunn's River Falls was the adventure for my husband, and I was able to snap photos along his way from the platforms beside the water. Disembarkation was a breeze, and we were told at the end that only 30 cabins had been affected by the lock-down caused by the Norovirus. The crew really did a fabulous job of chasing the germs away with their constant sanitizing, and presentation of portable hand-washing equipment. Weather really co-operated, and the photo album will remind us of happy times. The Constellation is a wonderful ship.