This was our second cruise with Celebrity, having cruised on Summit 2 years ago through the Panama Canal. We had flown from Australia to join the Constellation for this much awaited cruise and had high expectations given our previous experience. We had a Concierge class cabin on Deck 8, much quieter than those on deck 9, under the pool deck. Wonderful cabin staff and cabin was clean and well looked after during out occupation. Embarkation was fine at Bayonne Cruise terminal, even though by the time we got there after 1.30pm, there were large queues even in the priority boarding areas, it only took 30 minutes before we were onboard and enjoying our glass of champagne. We were escorted to our cabin as we had brought our luggage on board with us, as we had no luggage tags, and the luggage attendant at the cruise port were overrun and didnt have any either. Our cabin was available immediately and we unpacked and then found our table seating time was for 6pm, too early for us, so we went down to midships, where the San Marco Manager was able to put us with a table of 10 for the 8.30 pm seating with no problems. After this we had lunch from the buffet, caesar salad with fried southern chicken ( a bit dry) and then a delicious mango sorbet. The range of ice creams and sorbets available this trip was wonderful. We left port finally at 6.30pm and went to the 7pm show, highlights of what was to come. Acapella choir, the Voice Males and the Celebrity Band and singers and dancers, all fantastic. This was one of the highlights of this trip as we found nearly all the entertainment first class, the best we have seen on board any ship and this was our 7th cruise. Dining in San Marco that night was very good, crab and avocado salad, lamb shank with couscous and then creme brulee, all tasty and tender. However, over the 2 weeks, we found the food quality, taste and choice were very hit and miss. Our table waiter would try and guide us to the best choices, but when we decided outside his recommendations, most times we were very disappointed. Food came cool to lukewarm at best on cold plates most nights. Soup one night was wonderful and inedible a few nights later (either far too salty or cold). We thoroughly enjoyed the duck dish, the oysters with spinach and Parmesan (could be offered more than once a trip) Dover sole with shrimp mousse quenelles, but the steaks and some of the fish were inedible, tough and overcooked. The last formal night when lobster was on the menu, our waiters recommendation was for Mamma's home style pork chops!!!! No one chose them and we all wished we had, as the lobster was the worst we have ever tasted on board a ship, minute in size and largely inedible. A real let down on our final formal night - and this along the coast that serves up the best lobster at the cheapest prices that we have ever seen. We ate lobster and clam chowder every lunch time off the boat as it was such good value for money compared to Australian seafood prices. We ate breakfast and most lunches at sea in Aqua Spa Cafe and loved it. Its choice of light, tasty but healthy lunches were delicious. Breakfast too was very good, but could have been a little more diverse, with some extra things added over the 2 weeks rather than offering the same fare daily. Wait staff here were wonderful and very kind to guests, one introducing us to another guest from Australia, who was travelling on her own. We struck up a great friendship and enjoyed comparing notes after drinks each evening before dinner or at lunch time. Our experience in the Ocean Liners restaurant was mixed. The food was really awe inspiring. Here we had a really wonderful lobster, choosing the scallop/salmon/prawn trio then Maine lobster bisque, both exquisite appetizers. Mains we both had surf and turf, a tender beautifully cooked filet mignon with a large lobster tail, then chocolate and grand marnier souffles for dessert. 5 stars for the food. The only criticism we had this time was we felt rushed and we had asked to have our courses served with decent intervals between (25 minutes), but even then the food came too early for us, making what should have been a long, slow evening meal of true enjoyment a very rushed and hurried affair. This is because they take the dessert order when you order your entree, thus leaving little room for space between courses, especially when cooking something like souffles. Go back to the old way of doing things in these restaurants, a long slow dining experience is what most of us are looking for, not a quick stuff you silly and get out parade! Overall we really enjoyed the cruise and the ship, our only concerns were the food quality which has seriously deteriorated since our least Celebrity experience.
Quiet location, though we were opposite a door which lead to the lifts down to the galley. Only time we found this noisy though was the night before disembarkation when they used these lifts to clear luggage left outside rooms. We also had our room attendants trolley just outside our door most days, but he was not noisy and so it was not a problem. Balcony fine, great closet room but because it is in the hallway and has the bathroom door opening into this space, it can become a bit squeezy at times when you both try to do things here.
Bar Harbor is a lovely quaint little town with the main attraction being Acadia National Park,. We were tendered into port (no problems anytime with waiting either going out or coming back in). We booked an afternoon tour with Oli's Trolleys which we booked easily off the boat, to take in the old mansions of Bar Harbor and then Acadia National Park. We then walked along the Shore Walk, easy walking past beautiful houses and hotels with lovely views of the ships in port and harbour. This takes you back to Main Street where the houses are wooden and shingled. We visited the local Indian museum, the Abbe Museum, which is very interesting and gives a history of the local tribes as well as information on Archaeological digs in Main. Across the road from here is the beautiful Episcopalian Church open to the public and full of the most beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows, well worth a visit. We had lunch at West Street Cafe with views over the water- clam chowder then a must have, Blueberry Pie and Ice Cream all washed down with a glass of local Blueberry beer. US$30 for 2 of us. Our trip to Acadia allowed us to see a bit more of the autumn foliage and the island.We visited Cadillac Mt, Sieur de Monts Spring and Ocean Drive and the Thunder Hole.
Belle, belle Quebec! We had an overnight here and so had nearly full 2 days to explore. We had visited Quebec previously, so had prebooked a car from Budget in the old upper town which we drove out to Ile d'Orleans. Here we really saw the full autumn colours that we had missed on our journey up the New England coast, because of the warm autumn weather. Ile d'Orleans is well worth a visit, as it turns from very urban near the bridge across the St Lawrence river, where people commute to Quebec city, to a real rural environment where they grow wine grapes, potatoes, strawberries, apples for cider, as well as all sorts of vegetables, corn, pumpkins. We stopped at La Boulang about 2/3 of the way around the southern part of the island and had a wonderful cake and coffee. We also visited a Sugar Shack where they sell Maple Syrup products. Found a wonderful restaurant in Basse Ville (lower city) called Le Lapin, (The Rabbit), 52 Rue du Petit-Champlain, where they cook and serve rabbit in all sorts of ways. We had rabbit cassoulet and a rabbit pie, both stunning. Then maple syrup creme brulee for dessert with calvados, superbe.
A word or warning for driving in Quebec on Sundays. It is a one way system that is already confusing, but on Sundays they close a lot of streets for pedestrian access, making driving very difficult. Don't use a car unless you want to visit outside the city and ask about road closures and the best way to get back to the Car hire place after you have finished driving.
Halifax in Nova Scotia is a hilly but interesting port with one of the largest harbours in the world. It is not a pretty city but has some good things to do. We walked along the Wharf Walk to the Historic Buildings complex and visited the Maritime Museum with its history of the Titanic and its effect on Halifax, the nearest town with the first boats to reach the area of Titanic's disaster. From this interesting museum we walked up to the top of town to the Citadel for wonderful views over the town, port and harbour. Then we took Fred, a free bus which travels around the town on a continuous loop for a ride eventually getting off in the main shopping street after a circuit of the town (it was very drizzly). For lunch we took a recommendation to Little Fish in Argyle Street, where we had 1/2 lobster and caesar salad with a local beer. Delicious and cheap.