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Pre-Cruise Hotel 12/5-6 First time stay at Embassy Suites 17th St. Room had typical ES layout, though bedroom had vanity/sink area as well as bathroom so two people could get ready more easily. Bed was very comfortable. Lots of retail and dining options available within easy walking distance of hotel. Usual ES amenities including evening manager's reception and free breakfast. Tip: Be sure to request upper floor room with view of Port Everglades for ship watching. Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale Embarkation Arrived at port just after 10:30am using hotel shuttle. Because we were in an AquaClass stateroom, we got to go thru Priority Check-In. We were thru security, check-in, embarkation photo, and seated in waiting area by 10:40am - super efficient and this is why I like getting to port early. And we waited maybe 10 min before they started letting us onboard by 11am, which is probably the earliest I've ever gotten onboard any cruise! Cabins were not available until 1:15pm. Our luggage was delivered shortly after 3pm - supposedly another benefit of being in an AquaClass stateroom is expedited luggage delivery. Contrary to the most recent info online prior to the cruise which listed a 4pm departure time, muster drill was at 4:30pm and sailaway was at 5pm. Our Cruise Critic group attempted to have a meet & greet at the Sunset Bar (Deck 10 Aft), but it was being used for a private corporate reception much to our dismay. Cabin We booked an Aqua Class stateroom - one of the new ones (1114) on Deck 11 that was added during the 2013 dry dock. The new staterooms are located in the back of the ship and are secluded from general traffic flow so they are very quiet. Yet they are conveniently located one deck above the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) & Sunset Bar, so you can quickly pop down for drinks, meals, or bringing back drinks/snacks (like pizza & sushi that we like to do for watching port sailaways from our balcony). Aft elevators & stairs are nearby for easy access to all the lower level dining rooms. The room was bright & airy with all light color woods and lots of mirrors. The room had a curved queen bed configuration, sofa, glass coffee table, desk, and chair. It really felt more like a mini-suite (to compare to Princess) than a balcony stateroom. Plenty of storage areas in the cabinets, closet, and wall niches. The bathroom was truly first class - fog free mirror, glass door shower with a wall of water shower head, and under vanity storage. The hair dryer though is the annoying kind where you have to keep holding in the on button. The cabin even had that new cabin smell! Ship The ship is very well maintained - you'd never know it was 13 years old! Not just the new cabins as I mentioned, but all the interior spaces felt fresh & updated. And since we were sailing in early Dec, there were beautiful Christmas decorations all around the ship. The Persian Garden area of the M Class ships is quite compressed. No standalone heated stone loungers - instead a communal stone bench. The various sauna & steam rooms were small, and there was limited space to move around. I'm told the Persian Garden area on the S class ships is much more spacious (probably more like what we've experienced on Royal Princess) so I'll look forward to trying it there. We checked out nearly all the bars & lounges (trying to somewhat maximize use of our Classic All beverage package that we received as a free perk when we booked this cruise). Without a doubt, the hottest happening night spot was the Martini Bar - it was packed and raucous every night. Traffic flow seemed to work very well everywhere - I never noticed any major points of congestion. Though we tried to use the stairs as much as possible for cardio exercise, the few times we did use the elevators they didn't take too long - maybe a benefit of a mid-size ship. I also noted on sea days that there seemed to be good availability of loungers. I think Celebrity is pretty aggressive in counteracting chair hogs. Connie doesn't have all the bells & whistles of newer ships - no outdoor movie screen or indoor movie theater, no adults only outside deck area, no elaborate water slides, limited number of alternative dining options, etc. And in general I do prefer newer ships for many of those bells & whistles. But I was so impressed with how well she was renovated and the apparent pride that her crew has that manifested itself in the service level (see below), I found I didn't really miss those bells & whistles too much. Dining Lunch - Continuing the tradition we started on our first Celebrity cruise, we had embarkation lunch in Bistro on Five. Cover charge is now $10. We both had the cream of chicken soup and the Mon special mac & cheese w/ bacon. Scott had the Italian dessert crepe (Nutella, banana, pistachio) and I had the Spanish crepe (dulce de Leche). Dinner - AquaClass staterooms have their own dining room for dinner and breakfast called Blue. We both had the same items: appetizer - chilled seafood napoleon, soup - sweet yellow corn veloute, main - pan seared filet mignon. For dessert - I had dulce de leche crema catalona and Scott had the no sugar added banana blueberry crepe. Entertainment We had intended to see the comedian, but our dinner in Blue ran longer than we allowed time for. So instead we went to the Cellar Masters lounge and listened to Flying Colors Duo - a vocal guitar duo. Day 2 - At Sea Activities Took the free galley tour in the morning. All the chefs were introduced, the hotel director did lots of Q&A, and we got to go thru all the various kitchens serving the different restaurants on board. Very interesting - don't miss this enrichment opportunity! Attended our first Captains Club Celebration since this was our 2nd Celebrity cruise. Got to meet many of the officers including the very funny Captain Tasos. A nice selection of free drinks were offered along with passed canapés. Heard the port shopping lecture only because it was in the same room with bingo immediately following. We were not winners in bingo sadly. Dining Breakfast - First time breakfast in Blue. We had made-to-order omelettes, along with chocolate croissants (which aren't as good as the ones that Princess has). Lunch - Our CC group met for lunch in the San Marco dining room. Scott and I both had the mozzarella sticks appetizer. He had the BBQ pork knuckle panini and I had the whole wheat orenchiete pesto pasta. I skipped dessert and he had the strawberry shortcake. Dinner - In Blue we both had the pan seared macadamia nut encrusted sea scallops appetizer. I had the blue crab bisque soup and Scott had the cucumber tomato gazpacho. I had the sherry glazed Cornish hen for my entree, and Scott had the pan seared Pacific salmon. For dessert, Scott had the chilled strawberry soup and I had two scoops of the after 8 (aka mint chocolate chip) ice cream. Dessert - In Cafe al Bacio, Scott had a cup of hot chocolate and I had a chilled espresso drink w/ a scoop of gelato. Entertainment After dinner we went to listed to the vocalist/guitarist Peter Fisk. Poor guy was set up in Cafe al Bacio, one deck above the rowdy Martini Bar w/ its thumping trance music. Bad logistics planning on Celebrity's part - which they repeated again the last night of the cruise. We went to the 10:30pm production show iHollywood. It started out as a tribute to movie music beginning with black & white films and moving forward chronologically. Then toward the end it jumped the shark time-wise, and we went from The Little Mermaid (with non-Disney animation effects) to Titanic to Saturday Night Fever to Flashdance, jumping around been 70s 80s and 90s. The show ended with a James Bond montage. Lots of sparkly costumes and decent enough dancing & singing. Day 3 - Cozumel Activities We shared a taxi w/ a couple from our CC roll call to the Nachi Cocom Beach Club. We had made advance reservations for Nachi as they cap daily attendance at 100. Cruising friends of ours had been there and raved about it. It was quiet and relaxing - this is not a spring break party type atmosphere. All inclusive of food & drinks plus loungers on the beach with shade coverage available - all for $55 per person. We had a picture perfect day with high temp in upper 70s, blue skies, sunny, and a light breeze. The water temp was a touch cool on entry but quickly acclimated to pleasant & refreshing. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Nachi and would definitely do it again. Entertainment After dinner, we killed a little time in the Martini Bar lounge area listening to DJ Lancero (the premiere DJ on board) - he plays a good mix of EDM with recognizable songs and less reliance on pure play remixes. Tonight's main entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was illusionist Jason Bishop. I think he was probably one of the best illusionists I've ever seen. He was quite funny and very talented. He's down-to-earth and actively encourages you to try to figure how he does his tricks (using mirrors & close-up cameras, bringing people on stage to verify things, etc) - and you still can't figure it out! He even has a cute little Yorkshire Terrier who has a disappearing trick of his own! Ended our evening by checking out the Electric Pool Deck Party - EDM music again spun by DJ Lancero. There were two Celebrity staffers dressed in head to toe "Tron looking" black suits with LED lights on stilts that helped amp up the crowd for dancing. Dining Breakfast - First time eating in the buffet (Oceanview Cafe). Tip: if you like a little savory item, get the chicken samosas as they were quite tasty. Lunch - In port at Nachi Cocom Beach Club. Shrimp cocktail, nachos w/ cheese/refried beans/guacamole, chips & the hottest (but delicious) pico de gallo I've ever had, rice w/ shrimp, and chicken & beef fajitas. Everything was excellent! Dinner - Decided to keep it casual tonight so opted to eat in the buffet. It would seem that fewer Celebrity passengers choose to skip dining in the main dining rooms or speciality dining rooms than Princess passengers do. The evening buffet selections seem more limited, and there weren't a lot of people eating in the buffet. What was offered in the buffet included made-to-order pasta and stir fry stations. Tip: If you're interested in meat or fish, skip the pre-made offerings on the buffet line, and head to the very back of the buffet. There you can get fresh pork chop, chicken breast, minute steak, or salmon grilled to order. Dessert - Redeemed our Captain's Club benefit of a free scoop of gelato. We also had cups of hot chocolate from Cafe al Bacio, mine spiked with a shot of Bailey's (highly recommended). Day 4 - At Sea Activities After seeing how cramped the Persian Garden area was (on a sea day of course the spa is always busy), we decided to hang out in the Solarium where there is a good sized thalassotherapy pool. We snagged a couple of the padded loungers, and spent a couple hours reading and enjoying the warm therapeutic water of the pool. Played the final bingo session of the cruise and still no luck for us. Dining Breakfast - Ate light breakfast in the buffet. Lunch - 1st lunch in the buffet. As I noticed on Celebrity Equinox, the buffet offered a nice variety of international foods, and Celebrity is not shy about keeping to authentic spice levels. Very good mini cupcakes were featured for dessert. Dinner - Back to Blue this evening. I had the crispy Boursin cheese and Scott had the cured citrus wild salmon for our appetizers. We both skipped the soup/salad course and instead got the always available shrimp cocktail. Scott had the NY strip for his entree and I had the cumin grilled pork chop which was one of the standout menu items for the week. We skipped ordering desserts since we got a chocolate layer cake in honor of Scott's birthday (we had designated the 10th as his birthday since his real birthday was the day after the cruise ended). This was actually the second cake he'd gotten as one was also delivered to our stateroom in the afternoon - we were swimming in cakes! Entertainment Tonight's main entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was the U2 tribute band L.A.vation. We attended the second show. The guys playing the Edge and Bono especially channeled their physical appearances and mannerisms. Musically speaking, they were highly entertaining and did a very competent job, playing about 45 min and covering a good representation of the major hits. Really enjoyed this show! Late night in the Celebrity Theater featured the brand new adults-only production show Elyria. The premise is that Elyria is a land where temptation and darkness are transcended by love. The costumes were even more lavish than a regular production show. The humor and dancing were on the risqué side, so no kids allowed and some of the older adults walked out after a few minutes. Elyria is one of many new shows Celebrity is rolling out across the fleet. I'm glad we saw it, as I think it's good that Celebrity is putting a focus on improving entertainment - I think that's an area where they are weaker compared to Princess. Day 5 - Key West Activities Before we could get off the ship, everyone had to go thru immigration onboard the ship since we had been to Cozumel. That's the downside of this version of the itinerary having Cozumel before Key West. We were assigned an 8:15 timeslot and the entire process including line wait time took less than 10 min. We had to present our passports for review. Once onshore, we started doing the self-guided Old Island Restoration Foundation walking tour (also known as the Pelican Path Tour). Be forewarned - they advise the tour takes 1-2 hours and I think this is grossly underestimated. We got thru point of attraction 37 of 51 after 4 hrs (including 1+ hrs at the Little White House), and decided to stop so we still had time to tour the Hemingway House & Museum, get the obligatory photo at the Southernmost Point marker, plus have lunch and get back to the ship by the 4:45pm deadline. We walked about 7 miles in total, and got a good appreciation for the architecture on the island. Definitely a teaser to come back for a longer visit! And we got to enjoy the legendary Key West sunset with our own sunset cruise - Vision of the Seas left first and we had to turn around 180 degrees to leave port, so Captain Tasos made sure to time it perfectly so we could enjoy the full sunset before we finished sailing away. Dining Breakfast - Quick breakfast in the buffet before heading on shore. Lunch - In port at Conch Republic Seafood Company. We had smoked fish dip and conch fritters as starters. I had the blackened fish tacos, and Scott had the blackened snapper BLT. And when in Rome (or Key West in this case), we had key lime pie for dessert. Dinner - Last dinner in Blue. I had the almond encrusted baked Brie and Scott had the chilled Maine lobster salad. Again we skipped the soup/salad course in favor of the shrimp cocktail. Scott had the Cabernet braised short ribs and I had the sautéed orzo w/ smoked chicken breast. My entree was ok nothing special - I probably should have gotten the always available broiled Atlantic salmon filet. Scott raved about the short ribs. We skipped ordering dessert as we still had birthday cake #2 to eat (the room version wasn't as good as the dining room version). Dessert - We had our final cups of hot chocolate from Cafe al Bacio. Entertainment Since we had to pack, we decided to skip the evening production show. We caught the final set of vocalist Peter Fisk. And we wrapped things up with the late night Liars Club, featuring Mark the band master, Damian the cruise director, and Captain Tasos. No holds barred among the three men, especially the Captain. Tip: Don't miss the Liars Club no matter what cruise line you're on - it's always one of the funniest things you'll see. Day 6 - Fort Lauderdale Disembarkation Had our final breakfast in the buffet. Since our flight wasn't until nearly 3pm, we opted to do the Ft. Lauderdale Land & Sea w/ Airport Transfer excursion. We had to meet in the Celebrity Theater at 8am. After retrieving our luggage and getting thru customs, we got on the coach bus around 9am. We were taken on a tour along the beach, up Las Olas Blvd, and over to the Riverfront. Then we went on the Carrie B riverboat for a 90 minute scenic cruise on the New River and Intercoastal Waterway. We got to go deep into Port Everglades for some great cruise ship photos. Finally we were transferred to FLL airport, arriving just after 1pm. The tour was a much more pleasant way than sitting at the airport to kill time before our 3pm flight. We had a very gregarious tour guide Lori who kept us amused and informed about the history of Fort Lauderdale. Service As we experienced before on Celebrity Equinox, service was generally quite good. Again I felt that crew all over the ship made an extra effort to be friendly & welcoming. Our cabin steward Rama attended to our special requests and gave us numerous tips on making the most of our stateroom location. The staff in Blue got to know us well - a benefit of being in an exclusive dining room. Ivana at Cafe al Bacio became our favorite bar server - we saw her multiple times the first sea day at special events we attended and thereafter she was our go to server in Cafe al Bacio. And I can't say enough about Captain Tasos - now I understand why I read so many positive comments about him on Cruise Critic. He executed his duties with professionalism of course, but he's genuinely accessible. His bridge announcements were always humorous, he was out & about on the ship, and the fact he participated in ship activities like the officers vs passengers pool volleyball game and Liars Club earned him major cool factor points. I certainly hope to have him as my Captain on future Celebrity cruises. Final Thoughts This was our 2nd Celebrity cruise, and we'll definitely plan to do more to build up our loyalty level. We like the "Modern Luxury" vibe, and though we remain steadfast Princess fans, it's nice to mix it up a bit. Our first time in AquaClass was very nice - certainly the stateroom was a winner, dining in Blue was a notch up service-wise than usual anytime dining, and the other perks were good (Priority Check-In, extra loyalty points per night, etc). Celebrity has stepped up its game in entertainment, though I still think Princess offers more variety & options. The illusionist Jason Bishop and the U2 tribute band L.A.vation were definite highlights of the cruise. And while we never dined in the main San Marco dining room except for one sea day lunch, we kept tabs on the dinner menus and concluded this is another area where Celebrity seems to have made big changes since our 1st cruise. Back in 2011, we felt that they seemed to be trying too hard to have fancy dishes - one or two items might be appealing, but the overall menu just seemed inaccessible. This cruise, we noted several items every night that sounded good. So I can now appreciate why Constellation is a beloved ship in the Celebrity fleet.

1st Time on Connie; 1st Time in AquaClass

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by macusr

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2015
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aqua Class Balcony
Pre-Cruise Hotel 12/5-6

First time stay at Embassy Suites 17th St. Room had typical ES layout, though bedroom had vanity/sink area as well as bathroom so two people could get ready more easily. Bed was very comfortable. Lots of retail and dining options available within easy walking distance of hotel. Usual ES amenities including evening manager's reception and free breakfast. Tip: Be sure to request upper floor room with view of Port Everglades for ship watching.

Day 1 - Fort Lauderdale

Embarkation

Arrived at port just after 10:30am using hotel shuttle. Because we were in an AquaClass stateroom, we got to go thru Priority Check-In. We were thru security, check-in, embarkation photo, and seated in waiting area by 10:40am - super efficient and this is why I like getting to port early. And we waited maybe 10 min before they started letting us onboard by 11am, which is probably the earliest I've ever gotten onboard any cruise!

Cabins were not available until 1:15pm.

Our luggage was delivered shortly after 3pm - supposedly another benefit of being in an AquaClass stateroom is expedited luggage delivery.

Contrary to the most recent info online prior to the cruise which listed a 4pm departure time, muster drill was at 4:30pm and sailaway was at 5pm. Our Cruise Critic group attempted to have a meet & greet at the Sunset Bar (Deck 10 Aft), but it was being used for a private corporate reception much to our dismay.

Cabin

We booked an Aqua Class stateroom - one of the new ones (1114) on Deck 11 that was added during the 2013 dry dock. The new staterooms are located in the back of the ship and are secluded from general traffic flow so they are very quiet. Yet they are conveniently located one deck above the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) & Sunset Bar, so you can quickly pop down for drinks, meals, or bringing back drinks/snacks (like pizza & sushi that we like to do for watching port sailaways from our balcony). Aft elevators & stairs are nearby for easy access to all the lower level dining rooms. The room was bright & airy with all light color woods and lots of mirrors. The room had a curved queen bed configuration, sofa, glass coffee table, desk, and chair. It really felt more like a mini-suite (to compare to Princess) than a balcony stateroom. Plenty of storage areas in the cabinets, closet, and wall niches. The bathroom was truly first class - fog free mirror, glass door shower with a wall of water shower head, and under vanity storage. The hair dryer though is the annoying kind where you have to keep holding in the on button. The cabin even had that new cabin smell!

Ship

The ship is very well maintained - you'd never know it was 13 years old! Not just the new cabins as I mentioned, but all the interior spaces felt fresh & updated. And since we were sailing in early Dec, there were beautiful Christmas decorations all around the ship.

The Persian Garden area of the M Class ships is quite compressed. No standalone heated stone loungers - instead a communal stone bench. The various sauna & steam rooms were small, and there was limited space to move around. I'm told the Persian Garden area on the S class ships is much more spacious (probably more like what we've experienced on Royal Princess) so I'll look forward to trying it there.

We checked out nearly all the bars & lounges (trying to somewhat maximize use of our Classic All beverage package that we received as a free perk when we booked this cruise). Without a doubt, the hottest happening night spot was the Martini Bar - it was packed and raucous every night.

Traffic flow seemed to work very well everywhere - I never noticed any major points of congestion. Though we tried to use the stairs as much as possible for cardio exercise, the few times we did use the elevators they didn't take too long - maybe a benefit of a mid-size ship. I also noted on sea days that there seemed to be good availability of loungers. I think Celebrity is pretty aggressive in counteracting chair hogs.

Connie doesn't have all the bells & whistles of newer ships - no outdoor movie screen or indoor movie theater, no adults only outside deck area, no elaborate water slides, limited number of alternative dining options, etc. And in general I do prefer newer ships for many of those bells & whistles. But I was so impressed with how well she was renovated and the apparent pride that her crew has that manifested itself in the service level (see below), I found I didn't really miss those bells & whistles too much.

Dining

Lunch - Continuing the tradition we started on our first Celebrity cruise, we had embarkation lunch in Bistro on Five. Cover charge is now $10. We both had the cream of chicken soup and the Mon special mac & cheese w/ bacon. Scott had the Italian dessert crepe (Nutella, banana, pistachio) and I had the Spanish crepe (dulce de Leche).

Dinner - AquaClass staterooms have their own dining room for dinner and breakfast called Blue. We both had the same items: appetizer - chilled seafood napoleon, soup - sweet yellow corn veloute, main - pan seared filet mignon. For dessert - I had dulce de leche crema catalona and Scott had the no sugar added banana blueberry crepe.

Entertainment

We had intended to see the comedian, but our dinner in Blue ran longer than we allowed time for. So instead we went to the Cellar Masters lounge and listened to Flying Colors Duo - a vocal guitar duo.

Day 2 - At Sea

Activities

Took the free galley tour in the morning. All the chefs were introduced, the hotel director did lots of Q&A, and we got to go thru all the various kitchens serving the different restaurants on board. Very interesting - don't miss this enrichment opportunity!

Attended our first Captains Club Celebration since this was our 2nd Celebrity cruise. Got to meet many of the officers including the very funny Captain Tasos. A nice selection of free drinks were offered along with passed canapés.

Heard the port shopping lecture only because it was in the same room with bingo immediately following. We were not winners in bingo sadly.

Dining

Breakfast - First time breakfast in Blue. We had made-to-order omelettes, along with chocolate croissants (which aren't as good as the ones that Princess has).

Lunch - Our CC group met for lunch in the San Marco dining room. Scott and I both had the mozzarella sticks appetizer. He had the BBQ pork knuckle panini and I had the whole wheat orenchiete pesto pasta. I skipped dessert and he had the strawberry shortcake.

Dinner - In Blue we both had the pan seared macadamia nut encrusted sea scallops appetizer. I had the blue crab bisque soup and Scott had the cucumber tomato gazpacho. I had the sherry glazed Cornish hen for my entree, and Scott had the pan seared Pacific salmon. For dessert, Scott had the chilled strawberry soup and I had two scoops of the after 8 (aka mint chocolate chip) ice cream.

Dessert - In Cafe al Bacio, Scott had a cup of hot chocolate and I had a chilled espresso drink w/ a scoop of gelato.

Entertainment

After dinner we went to listed to the vocalist/guitarist Peter Fisk. Poor guy was set up in Cafe al Bacio, one deck above the rowdy Martini Bar w/ its thumping trance music.

Bad logistics planning on Celebrity's part - which they repeated again the last night of the cruise. We went to the 10:30pm production show iHollywood. It started out as a tribute to movie music beginning with black & white films and moving forward chronologically. Then toward the end it jumped the shark time-wise, and we went from The Little Mermaid (with non-Disney animation effects) to Titanic to Saturday Night Fever to Flashdance, jumping around been 70s 80s and 90s. The show ended with a James Bond montage. Lots of sparkly costumes and decent enough dancing & singing.

Day 3 - Cozumel

Activities

We shared a taxi w/ a couple from our CC roll call to the Nachi Cocom Beach Club. We had made advance reservations for Nachi as they cap daily attendance at 100. Cruising friends of ours had been there and raved about it. It was quiet and relaxing - this is not a spring break party type atmosphere. All inclusive of food & drinks plus loungers on the beach with shade coverage available - all for $55 per person. We had a picture perfect day with high temp in upper 70s, blue skies, sunny, and a light breeze. The water temp was a touch cool on entry but quickly acclimated to pleasant & refreshing. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Nachi and would definitely do it again.

Entertainment

After dinner, we killed a little time in the Martini Bar lounge area listening to DJ Lancero (the premiere DJ on board) - he plays a good mix of EDM with recognizable songs and less reliance on pure play remixes.

Tonight's main entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was illusionist Jason Bishop. I think he was probably one of the best illusionists I've ever seen. He was quite funny and very talented. He's down-to-earth and actively encourages you to try to figure how he does his tricks (using mirrors & close-up cameras, bringing people on stage to verify things, etc) - and you still can't figure it out! He even has a cute little Yorkshire Terrier who has a disappearing trick of his own!

Ended our evening by checking out the Electric Pool Deck Party - EDM music again spun by DJ Lancero. There were two Celebrity staffers dressed in head to toe "Tron looking" black suits with LED lights on stilts that helped amp up the crowd for dancing.

Dining

Breakfast - First time eating in the buffet (Oceanview Cafe). Tip: if you like a little savory item, get the chicken samosas as they were quite tasty.

Lunch - In port at Nachi Cocom Beach Club. Shrimp cocktail, nachos w/ cheese/refried beans/guacamole, chips & the hottest (but delicious) pico de gallo I've ever had, rice w/ shrimp, and chicken & beef fajitas. Everything was excellent!

Dinner - Decided to keep it casual tonight so opted to eat in the buffet. It would seem that fewer Celebrity passengers choose to skip dining in the main dining rooms or speciality dining rooms than Princess passengers do. The evening buffet selections seem more limited, and there weren't a lot of people eating in the buffet. What was offered in the buffet included made-to-order pasta and stir fry stations. Tip: If you're interested in meat or fish, skip the pre-made offerings on the buffet line, and head to the very back of the buffet. There you can get fresh pork chop, chicken breast, minute steak, or salmon grilled to order.

Dessert - Redeemed our Captain's Club benefit of a free scoop of gelato. We also had cups of hot chocolate from Cafe al Bacio, mine spiked with a shot of Bailey's (highly recommended).

Day 4 - At Sea

Activities

After seeing how cramped the Persian Garden area was (on a sea day of course the spa is always busy), we decided to hang out in the Solarium where there is a good sized thalassotherapy pool. We snagged a couple of the padded loungers, and spent a couple hours reading and enjoying the warm therapeutic water of the pool.

Played the final bingo session of the cruise and still no luck for us.

Dining

Breakfast - Ate light breakfast in the buffet.

Lunch - 1st lunch in the buffet. As I noticed on Celebrity Equinox, the buffet offered a nice variety of international foods, and Celebrity is not shy about keeping to authentic spice levels. Very good mini cupcakes were featured for dessert.

Dinner - Back to Blue this evening. I had the crispy Boursin cheese and Scott had the cured citrus wild salmon for our appetizers. We both skipped the soup/salad course and instead got the always available shrimp cocktail. Scott had the NY strip for his entree and I had the cumin grilled pork chop which was one of the standout menu items for the week. We skipped ordering desserts since we got a chocolate layer cake in honor of Scott's birthday (we had designated the 10th as his birthday since his real birthday was the day after the cruise ended). This was actually the second cake he'd gotten as one was also delivered to our stateroom in the afternoon - we were swimming in cakes!

Entertainment

Tonight's main entertainment in the Celebrity Theater was the U2 tribute band L.A.vation. We attended the second show. The guys playing the Edge and Bono especially channeled their physical appearances and mannerisms. Musically speaking, they were highly entertaining and did a very competent job, playing about 45 min and covering a good representation of the major hits. Really enjoyed this show!

Late night in the Celebrity Theater featured the brand new adults-only production show Elyria. The premise is that Elyria is a land where temptation and darkness are transcended by love. The costumes were even more lavish than a regular production show. The humor and dancing were on the risqué side, so no kids allowed and some of the older adults walked out after a few minutes. Elyria is one of many new shows Celebrity is rolling out across the fleet. I'm glad we saw it, as I think it's good that Celebrity is putting a focus on improving entertainment - I think that's an area where they are weaker compared to Princess.

Day 5 - Key West

Activities

Before we could get off the ship, everyone had to go thru immigration onboard the ship since we had been to Cozumel. That's the downside of this version of the itinerary having Cozumel before Key West. We were assigned an 8:15 timeslot and the entire process including line wait time took less than 10 min. We had to present our passports for review.

Once onshore, we started doing the self-guided Old Island Restoration Foundation walking tour (also known as the Pelican Path Tour). Be forewarned - they advise the tour takes 1-2 hours and I think this is grossly underestimated. We got thru point of attraction 37 of 51 after 4 hrs (including 1+ hrs at the Little White House), and decided to stop so we still had time to tour the Hemingway House & Museum, get the obligatory photo at the Southernmost Point marker, plus have lunch and get back to the ship by the 4:45pm deadline. We walked about 7 miles in total, and got a good appreciation for the architecture on the island. Definitely a teaser to come back for a longer visit! And we got to enjoy the legendary Key West sunset with our own sunset cruise - Vision of the Seas left first and we had to turn around 180 degrees to leave port, so Captain Tasos made sure to time it perfectly so we could enjoy the full sunset before we finished sailing away.

Dining

Breakfast - Quick breakfast in the buffet before heading on shore.

Lunch - In port at Conch Republic Seafood Company. We had smoked fish dip and conch fritters as starters. I had the blackened fish tacos, and Scott had the blackened snapper BLT. And when in Rome (or Key West in this case), we had key lime pie for dessert.

Dinner - Last dinner in Blue. I had the almond encrusted baked Brie and Scott had the chilled Maine lobster salad. Again we skipped the soup/salad course in favor of the shrimp cocktail. Scott had the Cabernet braised short ribs and I had the sautéed orzo w/ smoked chicken breast. My entree was ok nothing special - I probably should have gotten the always available broiled Atlantic salmon filet. Scott raved about the short ribs. We skipped ordering dessert as we still had birthday cake #2 to eat (the room version wasn't as good as the dining room version).

Dessert - We had our final cups of hot chocolate from Cafe al Bacio.

Entertainment

Since we had to pack, we decided to skip the evening production show. We caught the final set of vocalist Peter Fisk. And we wrapped things up with the late night Liars Club, featuring Mark the band master, Damian the cruise director, and Captain Tasos. No holds barred among the three men, especially the Captain. Tip: Don't miss the Liars Club no matter what cruise line you're on - it's always one of the funniest things you'll see.

Day 6 - Fort Lauderdale

Disembarkation

Had our final breakfast in the buffet.

Since our flight wasn't until nearly 3pm, we opted to do the Ft. Lauderdale Land & Sea w/ Airport Transfer excursion. We had to meet in the Celebrity Theater at 8am. After retrieving our luggage and getting thru customs, we got on the coach bus around 9am. We were taken on a tour along the beach, up Las Olas Blvd, and over to the Riverfront. Then we went on the Carrie B riverboat for a 90 minute scenic cruise on the New River and Intercoastal Waterway. We got to go deep into Port Everglades for some great cruise ship photos. Finally we were transferred to FLL airport, arriving just after 1pm. The tour was a much more pleasant way than sitting at the airport to kill time before our 3pm flight. We had a very gregarious tour guide Lori who kept us amused and informed about the history of Fort Lauderdale.

Service

As we experienced before on Celebrity Equinox, service was generally quite good. Again I felt that crew all over the ship made an extra effort to be friendly & welcoming. Our cabin steward Rama attended to our special requests and gave us numerous tips on making the most of our stateroom location. The staff in Blue got to know us well - a benefit of being in an exclusive dining room. Ivana at Cafe al Bacio became our favorite bar server - we saw her multiple times the first sea day at special events we attended and thereafter she was our go to server in Cafe al Bacio. And I can't say enough about Captain Tasos - now I understand why I read so many positive comments about him on Cruise Critic. He executed his duties with professionalism of course, but he's genuinely accessible. His bridge announcements were always humorous, he was out & about on the ship, and the fact he participated in ship activities like the officers vs passengers pool volleyball game and Liars Club earned him major cool factor points. I certainly hope to have him as my Captain on future Celebrity cruises.

Final Thoughts

This was our 2nd Celebrity cruise, and we'll definitely plan to do more to build up our loyalty level. We like the "Modern Luxury" vibe, and though we remain steadfast Princess fans, it's nice to mix it up a bit.

Our first time in AquaClass was very nice - certainly the stateroom was a winner, dining in Blue was a notch up service-wise than usual anytime dining, and the other perks were good (Priority Check-In, extra loyalty points per night, etc).

Celebrity has stepped up its game in entertainment, though I still think Princess offers more variety & options. The illusionist Jason Bishop and the U2 tribute band L.A.vation were definite highlights of the cruise.

And while we never dined in the main San Marco dining room except for one sea day lunch, we kept tabs on the dinner menus and concluded this is another area where Celebrity seems to have made big changes since our 1st cruise. Back in 2011, we felt that they seemed to be trying too hard to have fancy dishes - one or two items might be appealing, but the overall menu just seemed inaccessible. This cruise, we noted several items every night that sounded good.

So I can now appreciate why Constellation is a beloved ship in the Celebrity fleet.
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Cabin Review

Aqua Class Balcony
Cabin A1 1114
We booked an Aqua Class stateroom - one of the new ones (1114) on Deck 11 that was added during the 2013 dry dock. The new staterooms are located in the back of the ship and are secluded from general traffic flow so they are very quiet. Yet they are conveniently located one deck above the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) & Sunset Bar, so you can quickly pop down for drinks, meals, or bringing back drinks/snacks (like pizza & sushi that we like to do for watching port sailaways from our balcony). Aft elevators & stairs are nearby for easy access to all the lower level dining rooms. The room was bright & airy with all light color woods and lots of mirrors. The room had a curved queen bed configuration, sofa, glass coffee table, desk, and chair. It really felt more like a mini-suite (to compare to Princess) than a balcony stateroom. Plenty of storage areas in the cabinets, closet, and wall niches. The bathroom was truly first class - fog free mirror, glass door shower with a wall of water shower head, and under vanity storage. The hair dryer though is the annoying kind where you have to keep holding in the on button. The cabin even had that new cabin smell!
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Nachi Cocom Beach Club
    We shared a taxi w/ a couple from our CC roll call to the Nachi Cocom Beach Club. We had made advance reservations for Nachi as they cap daily attendance at 100. Cruising friends of ours had been there and raved about it. It was quiet and relaxing - this is not a spring break party type atmosphere. All inclusive of food & drinks plus loungers on the beach with shade coverage available - all for $55 per person. We had a picture perfect day with high temp in upper 70s, blue skies, sunny, and a light breeze. The water temp was a touch cool on entry but quickly acclimated to pleasant & refreshing. We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Nachi and would definitely do it again.
    View All 104 Nachi Cocom Beach Club Reviews
  • City Tour
    Since our flight wasn't until nearly 3pm, we opted to do the Ft. Lauderdale Land & Sea w/ Airport Transfer excursion. We had to meet in the Celebrity Theater at 8am. After retrieving our luggage and getting thru customs, we got on the coach bus around 9am. We were taken on a tour along the beach, up Las Olas Blvd, and over to the Riverfront. Then we went on the Carrie B riverboat for a 90 minute scenic cruise on the New River and Intercoastal Waterway. We got to go deep into Port Everglades for some great cruise ship photos. Finally we were transferred to FLL airport, arriving just after 1pm. The tour was a much more pleasant way than sitting at the airport to kill time before our 3pm flight. We had a very gregarious tour guide Lori who kept us amused and informed about the history of Fort Lauderdale.
    View All 51 City Tour Reviews
  • Key West
    Once onshore, we started doing the self-guided Old Island Restoration Foundation walking tour (also known as the Pelican Path Tour). Be forewarned - they advise the tour takes 1-2 hours and I think this is grossly underestimated. We got thru point of attraction 37 of 51 after 4 hrs (including 1+ hrs at the Little White House), and decided to stop so we still had time to tour the Hemingway House & Museum, get the obligatory photo at the Southernmost Point marker, plus have lunch and get back to the ship by the 4:45pm deadline. We walked about 7 miles in total, and got a good appreciation for the architecture on the island. Definitely a teaser to come back for a longer visit! And we got to enjoy the legendary Key West sunset with our own sunset cruise - Vision of the Seas left first and we had to turn around 180 degrees to leave port, so Captain Tasos made sure to time it perfectly so we could enjoy the full sunset before we finished sailing away.
    View All 1,787 Key West Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Key West Cruise Port Review