This was our second cruise. Our first was a great experience with Royal Caribbean. Based on reviews, we decided to go with Celebrity this time. The experience was a great deal of fun with plenty of opportunities for relaxation; but was it ... Read More
This was our second cruise. Our first was a great experience with Royal Caribbean. Based on reviews, we decided to go with Celebrity this time. The experience was a great deal of fun with plenty of opportunities for relaxation; but was it worth the cost, and did it live up to its 5 star rating?
Embarkation was smooth and painless. The Constellation had docked at terminal 4. This is a brand new building with a well organised and friendly staff. We were through the terminal and on the ship in about 15 minutes.
Once on the ship, we received a complementary champagne, were just about to start exploring, and the sales pitch began. We were immediately approached by a hostess from the specialty restaurant "Ocean Liners". The hostess thrust a menu into our hands and began giving us details about the menu, service and value we would receive at this restaurant. We responded that we had already booked and paid for the other specialty restaurant "The Tuscan Grill". This did not halt the sales pitch. Feeling a little pressured, we relented and booked in for that evening. We then decided to head to our stateroom, on our way out of the lobby, we were approached by a host from the "Tuscan Grill" specialty restaurant with a similar sales pitch. He only relented when we explained that we were already booked into the Tuscan Grill and provided details of which night we were booked in.
From there, we went to our stateroom. We had booked 2 inside staterooms on deck 3, one for my husband and I, and one next door for our teenage son. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the staterooms, much bigger than on Royal Caribbean, and very well laid out. The bathroom was large enough to move around in, and the shower was huge (huge in ship terms, which is small, but much larger than the one we had on Monarch of the Seas). There was plenty of storage. So much in fact that we didn't use it all. The rooms were clean and comfortable, and the housekeeping staff met us at the door to introduce themselves. Throughout the cruise they were very friendly and always available.
The Constellation has several specialty restaurants, a main dining room, and a buffet. Ocean Liners is their signature specialty restaurant, and that is where we dined on the first evening. The service was flawless. We ordered ala carte and were not disappointed both with taste and presentation. My son had the rack of lamb, I had the chateaubriand, and my husband ordered the lobster, which was prepared table side by our hostess. My husband a I enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine from the wine package we had previously ordered (the 5 bottle classic wine package). Upon leaving the restaurant, we were approached with the bill, which showed that they had originally charged us for the wine by the glass, then realized they had confused the classic wine package with the classic beverage package, reversed the charges, and told us that the remainder of our wine would be sent to the next restaurant, The Tuscan Grill.
The following evening, we went to the Tuscan Grill. Once again, the service was impeccable, and the food amazing. My husband had the rib eye steak and says it was the best steak he has ever had. I had the fillet mignon, and our son had the lobster penne. The desserts were "to die for". Again, my husband and I enjoyed wine with our dinner. We had informed the waiter that we had the classic wine package and that our wine was supposed to be sent over. At the end of the meal when the bill came, we were charged for the wine. They had once again confused the beverage package. The maitre'd apologized for the confusion, admitted it was their mistake, but refused to reverse the charges. We paid, then went to Cellar Masters where after about five minutes, it was sorted out by a very helpful staff member.
The remainder of the cruise, we went to the main dining room. The food was amazing, however the service was far less impressive than in the previous two restaurants. Each time we ordered something "extra" (pop, espresso), they immediately asked for the sea pass and presented a receipt to be signed, instead of waiting until the end of the meal. We selected the anytime dining which worked out well. We were able to sit at our own table and book any time we wished.
For breakfast and lunch, we went to the buffet. The buffet was average, as to be expected when serving over a thousand.
Activities were scheduled throughout the day, appealing to a wide variety of people. There was ballroom dancing, live entertainment in the theatre, and bands both on the pool deck and in the lounges. We especially enjoyed the trivia game shows, and the comedian showing in the theatre.
There was also plenty of opportunity to sit back and relax in the many quiet areas on the decks.
Our 16 year old son enjoyed the teen club activities.
Our ship docked in Cozumel on Dec 24. There were several tours available to choose from. We wanted to see the Myan ruins. There was an 8 hr tour, and a 4 hr tour. We chose the 4 hr tour rather than spend hours on a bus. We really enjoyed this trip. We went to the ruins in San Gervasio, then a bus ride to The Mayan Cacao Company. The trip was very interesting, great people, very informative guide. There was plenty of opportunity for photography.
On Dec 26, we docked in Key West. We decided not to book an excursion, instead opting to walk around on our own. We purchased tickets for the Hemingway House and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum from a local vendor. The Hemingway House was amazing, and again, plenty of opportunity to wander around and take photographs. We very much enjoyed this.
Next, we went to the Mel Fisher museum. Again, very interesting with amazing artifacts.
Great value for money on these excursions.
On Dec 27, the last day of the cruise, the ship docked at its final destination, Fort Lauderdale, at around 7 am. Since our flight was not scheduled until 7 pm, we chose to do the shopping excursion to Sawgrass Mills Mall.
We were to meet our tour guide in the theatre on deck 5 at 8:45am. Our guide was then meant to escort us through the disembarkation process. However, at 8:05, an announcement was made for those of us going on this excursion to go to deck 3 and disembark. I immediately went to deck 3 and explained the confusion of the contradicting instructions to a staff member. This staff member seemed confused, spoke to someone on the radio, then said we needed to come to deck 3 right away and disembark.
Therefore, we followed her instructions and disembarked.
After clearing customs, we went to the front of the terminal. There was some initial confusion as we did not see a tour guide or bus. After asking several terminal staff, we were approached by a tour guide who said that we were late. We explained that were told to disembark. He said we did not follow instructions properly, then he left. About 5 minutes later, we were met by a second tour guide who was extremely helpful and informative. He said the bus would arrive shortly and stayed with us and the other guests who had begun to arrive, assisting us with our luggage, very nice. We were driven to the mall, and dropped off with a time to meet for transport to the airport.
Unfortunately some people chose to be 45 minutes late for the meeting time, making everyone else late for their arrival at the airport. We were in no danger of missing our flight, but other travelers were, due to the inconsideration of people who chose not to meet the timings.
The positive point about this excursion is that we didn't need to worry about our luggage, which was kept on the bus during the shopping trip, and we didn't need to try to find a taxi.
The Celebrity Constellation is one of Celebrities older ships. It received a remodel to upgrade some of its amenities but is still showing some signs of age. The staff was courteous and friendly and for the most part very helpful.
Celebrity sell themselves as an upscale cruise line. However, despite paying more for this cruise, we feel the service was not as good as our Royal Caribbean experience.
We had a great time, and will probably sail with Celebrity again, but would like to try a different ship.