Constellation - February 26 - March 12, 2011: Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by 2J's
Overall Member Rating
Constellation - February 26 - March 12, 2011
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We ate in the dining room 11 of 14 nights and loved Bistro on 5, Oceanliners, and Tuscan Grille. All provided exceptional service and delicious, premium quality food. Tuscan Grille on Constellation was far superior in food and service to Tuscan Grille on Solstice in May 2010. Usually, we don't go to all specialty restaurants, but food quality in dining room is not as good and the offering of premium entrees not as frequent. A blatant example is the entree (½ lobster tail, 1 small scallop, 1 shrimp, mini-filet) on final formal night instead of nice-size lobster tail and filet in the past. Our Maitre d' came More to the table every night to check on our satisfaction, but he was limited by the menu in what he could do. Though the every night part of the menu offered plain salmon, other species of fish were not available without spices or sauces so there was no flexibility for those of us who would like simpler grilled fare.
We thought the cruise director, Sue Denning, was outstanding. There's something to be said having an entertainer, not just a talker, as cruise director. She was everywhere and spoke with everyone whether on ship or in port. Sue's husband was on this cruise, so she was exceptionally busy getting ready for the next cruise (when she'll be in Miami at the CD's meetings), spending time with her husband, and being everywhere she needs to be. It's a demanding job, and she does it well. We also enjoyed her one woman show which was in addition to another show that night, not a substitution as some cruise lines do.
We were happy to share Captain Pagonis's last cruise on Constellation, hear his lecture on navigation, and spend time with him at the Captain's Club Officer's party (although we've enjoyed sailing with him several times and hate to see him go to Silhouette). He sets a great example by mingling with passengers in the buffet line and other places on the ship. His friendly attitude filters down from the Captain, through the ranks, to every staff member; and we were pleasantly greeted by anyone we met in the hallways or anywhere on the ship. The officers were very accessible as well. We spoke with many, especially Bernhard (Hotel Manager), who was visible everywhere and willing to answer any questions (even if the answer was not what we wished to hear).
The Captain's Club host, Graeme, did a good job enforcing the dress code at Elite Happy Hour and did announce that happy hour was being changed to 5-7 pm by popular request.
Production shows were elaborate, and singers and dancers very good on this cruise. Imported entertainment was not as good, but that's the luck of the draw... you get what you get... Some we liked, some, not. Now we come to Perry.... We enjoyed his one-man show very much... his sequined vests, jackets (each night) and robe. We found his show like a magnet, drawing us in for fun each night. He is definitely an entertainer.
Ports don't interest us that much since we've been to each many times. Our destination is THE SHIP. We are very happy on sea days, although we always get off the ship even if it's to walk. The exception is Bonaire. We confess to choosing this particular cruise because Bonaire was one of the ports. We snorkeled on our own off the beach in Aruba, and we saw lots and lots of fish, but nothing beats Bonaire and Woodwind Tours! For the best snorkeling in the CaribbSean take this trip. They outfit you, teach you, snorkel with you, pamper you, and give you the trip of a lifetime. Sadly, Celebrity is dropping Bonaire from their schedule, so we will have to cruise with another line when we want to go back for our third trip on Woodwind.
I can't conclude this review without mentioning embarkation and disembarkation. Both were horrendous! The ship was at Pier 29, which should be used for small ships only. We had no wait to get our Sea Pass and didn't need to even be in the "Elite" line. After that, it was all downhill. There was a delay in taking photos for the Sea Pass. We were herded into a seating area where we were instructed to wait until called to get in line. Some passengers decided to call themselves to get in line. It became a big mess. Celebrity port staff needs a better system. It took over an hour to board and no preference was given to Elite, Concierge, or Suite passengers. Disembarkation was equally bad. When our color was called, we went to the terminal and found our luggage wasn't ready. We had to wait while that was accomplished. Then, since the area was so small, aisles were too narrow to find bags and maneuver. Our porter loaded our luggage and got us out of the terminal, but then we had to shuttle to the parking lot. It was a long, aggravating process.
We are happy that Celebrity doesn't permit smoking in cabins, on verandahs, or in most places on the ship. Our wish list would include limiting smoking more. If we wound up on the wrong side and had to walk through smoker's alley around the pool, it was very unpleasant and the smoke drifted beyond the designated area. Our second wish would be to have footstools on the verandah. There is plenty of room for them, and it's a small amenity with a major comfort result. Third, of course, would be to put Bonaire back on the itinerary. Fourth, addressing the aforementioned food quality. One shouldn't have to go to specialty restaurants to get the kind of food we used to get in the San Marco.
All-in-all, this was our best trip in recent years. Less
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