Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: December 7th, 2002
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: December 7th, 2002
This was our second cruise. Our first
cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. Needless to say the cruise
on Voyager was fantastic and we were hooked on cruising. I chose this cruise and
the last one based on the itinerary and the amenities and size of the ship. I
don’t think I would really cruise on a smaller boat, but who knows. For this
cruise the itinerary was fantastic and the size and amenities of Constellation
fit the bill, plus the price was fantastic.
We weren’t really planning on going on a cruise this year, our original choice was to go spend Christmas with our family in Mexico City. But because of work issues I couldn’t get the time off from work during Christmas, and with the Mexico City vacation cancelled I began looking for something to replace it, and Constellation was right there waiting.
PRE CRUISE (San Juan, PR)
I work in the airline industry and so we got non-rev tickets on American Trans Air (ATA) from Las Vegas to San Juan, PR via Chicago. We got on the flight late Thursday night to arrive into Chicago at about 5am Friday to catch yet another flight from Chicago to San Juan via Miami. Needless to say it was a very, very long flight. Thankfully, since we were on standby, we got on all flights fine and we made it to San Juan late Friday evening. We hadn’t booked a hotel room in San Juan due to the fact that since we were flying standby we were not sure if we were going to make it to San Juan either Friday night or on Embarkation day, Saturday. Upon arrival at San Juan we proceeded to baggage claim and prayed that our luggage had made it. It did. So we went out of the terminal and into the tourism board’s office. They were really helpful here, they help tourists like us, who did not have plans made, arrange for a hotel room. She told us that the most affordable place to stay that was near the pier was in the Condado area. There are three main parts of the tourist part of San Juan: the luxurious, resort-like Isla Verde, which is right next to the airport; the very nice and affordable Condado; and the classic Old San Juan. Old San Juan is where the pier is, and Condado is right in between Isla Verde and Old San Juan. The hotel we chose from a magazine at the Tourist Board’s Office wasn’t all that it was hyped up to be in the magazine, but it was comfortable enough for one night. It was near shops and restaurants and also right across the street from the beach. Nice enough but I would never go back to it again. However, do plan ahead if you’re staying in San Juan because same day prices are through the roofs on more famous hotels.
On Embarkation day we were really excited and I couldn’t wait to see Constellation in person. We took a taxi from the hotel down to the pier at about 11am. We arrived at the pier by 11:30 or so. There was already a line forming outside of the terminal building. The reason for the line was because on this particular sailing, Celebrity sold a lot of Guarantee cabins, and so the people had to find out their cabin numbers before they left their bags at the door of the terminal. We already knew ours, but were still hoping for an even higher upgrade. We booked the special fare that was category 12 or higher, for an inside stateroom. We were upgraded a few categories, but were still in an inside stateroom and we were hoping we could’ve gotten upgraded even more to an outside or a balcony, but that wasn’t the case and we just had to wait in line longer. The people that already had their cabin numbers in their luggage tags were going into the terminal faster. Once in the terminal we sat down briefly at a big hall they have prior to the check-in counters where a few Celebrity representatives were walking around making sure we all had the right papers ready before proceeding to the counters. After less than 2 minutes sitting down we got to go to the counters. I was surprised at how fast it all went once we were in the terminal. The whole check-in process took less than 10 minutes!!!! WOAH! Much better than the hour and a half we spent checking in for Voyager last year. After we got our Signature Cards we proceeded on to the gangway, before going upstairs there was a guy handing out little papers for open seating dinner for that night. Since we were some of the first on board they were handing out Main seating vouchers, we took the vouchers but then rethought our choice and we decided we wanted to be late seating that day as well, so we went back and the young man was nice enough to exchange our Main seating tickets to Late Seating. Great! After a quick ride up the escalators we were facing deck 3 of Constellation. We went through the door and put our Signature card in the little machine that they have to take your picture, proceeded on through another security screening that was set up inside the ship, and then we were in the Grand Foyer. A high ranking officer greeted us and asked us which cabin we were in, we said 8004, and he told one of the many gentlemen standing by in white gloves to escort us to our cabin. Very nice! On Voyager (which is gargantuan) there was no one to show you the way to your cabin. It was a nice touch by Celebrity to make you feel welcome, however, I personally didn’t like the way the gentleman took to get us to our cabin. He took us through the corridor of cabins in deck 3 to get to the forward elevator lobby to go up to deck 8 where our cabin was. I didn’t like walking through a long corridor of cabins, I would have rather preferred that he would have taken us up the Onyx Staircase in the Grand Foyer up to deck 4 and then taken us through the casino and the photo gallery to get to the forward elevators. But that’s ok, no big deal, I’m just picky I guess.
The ship is just beautiful, a lot smaller than Voyager, but a lot more beautiful and elegant. Constellation was all that I expected from the reviews I had read and more. I specially loved the understated elegant décor that was kept throughout the ship. Everything was kept absolutely immaculate and you could see people cleaning 24/7.
(More on the Ship in Detail Later)
From the beginning, before we booked the cruise, we wanted a balcony cabin, and we were going to get a balcony cabin, but once again we were afraid that since we were flying standby, we weren’t going to make it on time to catch the ship (we’ve had some bad experiences with standby flying) so we decided that if it happened we wanted to loose the least money possible. It might have been the wrong choice, but it was ok anyway. The cabin was very nice and quite roomy. It was a lot roomier, or at least felt like it, than Voyager’s cabin. The décor was very nice and pleasing also. Storage space was more than enough; we had a lot of spaces that were left unused. The bathroom was very nice and a lot bigger than the one on Voyager. Voyager’s shower was like a space pod, circular with plastic doors, but the one on Constellation was a lot more conventional and much bigger. That was certainly nice. The only thing we missed was the cabinets behind the mirrors that were in the bathroom of Voyager, they didn’t have those on Constellation, but it was ok cause we had room underneath the sink. The vacuum powered toilet is plain scary, but cool. They use less water and they get to save the environment, Kudos to Celebrity. The TV had the same interactive system that Voyager had, however, the videos of shore excursions were unavailable, that was a real shame, we were looking forward to seeing the little videos they have on the shore excursions. Those videos were the one that helped us choose which shore tours we wanted while on Voyager. The do show videos of shore excursions on another channel but they are in a constant rotation and you have to wait till all videos are through to see the one you are looking for. Our cabin attendant was fantastic. On Voyager we hardy got to see him, on Constellation, Melanio was always around and was very friendly and kept everything spotless and to our liking. Another thing that was nice on Constellation was that Melanio always kept ice and water for us in the room. Something that was unavailable on Voyager. Also another very nice touch were the bathrobes that Celebrity provides for you to use while you’re onboard and the night light. The night-light was very good. On Voyager when you turned off the lights the room was pitch black, and if you wanted to get up to the bathroom you’d have to turn on the lights and bother the person that was sleeping next to you, this was not so on Constellation, the night light gave off a nice little hue of light to where it was bright enough at night to find your way to the bathroom without having to turn on the lights. GOOD JOB CELEBRITY! More points for them. On this cruise we didn’t try the room service, but I assume that it is as fantastic as the rest of the service is.
Now Back to the Ship….
The ship, even though it’s a 91,000-ton super structure, feels a lot smaller than what it really is. I don’t know how they managed to do that, but I figured that Constellation, being on the large-ship category, would have the big resort feel that Voyager had, but Constellation had a very cozy, homey feel I just loved. I felt like we were on a yacht cruising the Caribbean with only a few more guests, than on a 91,000-ton cruise ship with more than 2,000 people on board. We never ever felt crowded throughout the entire cruise. On Voyager we didn’t feel crowded throughout most of the cruise but there were plenty of times when you could tell there was 3,600 people right there next to you.
The only complaint I had with the ship was
the rockiness. Now, you must understand that this is my second cruise and that
my first cruise was on the 146,000-ton Voyager of the Seas, which is practically
a floating city. On Voyager we only felt a little rocky on a couple of days and
that was it, every other day we couldn’t even tell we were on a boat. Also, it
might be that on Voyager our stateroom was Midship, and on Constellation we were
on the very far forward of deck 8. Also, the fact that there were times when
Constellation had to cover a very long distance in one day (From St. Croix to
St. Lucia) and we were going quite fast, and also the fact that there were a
couple of very windy days. Well, with all that said, I must explain that it was
really quite rocky for what I thought cursing was like. Now I didn’t mind it too
much, but since I was traveling with my mother, who has a history of
seasickness, I was a little concerned. She never got seasick, but it was still
quite an experience. I had never felt a boat that size rock so much, those are
the times when you really can see the power of the ocean.
Ok… now really… back to the ship
Deck 3 doesn’t have very much, it’s centerpiece, of course, is the Grand Foyer, and the base of the Onyx staircase. Other highlights include the Guest Relations desk (very friendly people there), the Shore Excursions desk, the Golf Desk, and the Cinema and Conference rooms. We didn’t spend much time on this deck nor used the facilities much, but nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning.
Deck 4 hosts the Celebrity Theatre’s main level on the forward section of the ship. Also the ship’s exterior promenade (one of my favorite places to hang out and smoke a cigarette watching the ocean go by), they have very nice beach chairs on the promenade for people to hang around and sit and relax. I love these outdoor promenades that the ships have. They are always quiet and peaceful, and these are the places where you can really go and be alone with the ocean without having to go up to the pool deck where everybody is. The only thing I missed was the fact that on Voyager you could go from the outdoor promenade up to the very forward of the ship where the helipad is. On Constellation the helipad is closed to the public… too bad. I would’ve liked to go to the tip of the ship to do the “King of the World” thing like I did on Voyager. Deck 4 is also home to the lovely casino. A lot nice than Voyager’s, I thought voyagers was tacky and flashy and did not go with the décor of the rest of the ship, but Constellations’ Fortunes Casino was very nice and very cozy. Also on deck 4 is the photo gallery (only took a couple of the cruise-sponsored pictures and never bought one) and the Michael’s Club, the cigar joint on the ship which is also very nice, and me being a smoker, I would’ve liked to go and spend some time in there, but since mother is a non-smoker I didn’t get a chance to spend much time at Michael’s Club. Another place that’s very nice is the computer center. I got to keep in contact with the world for the fee of 50 cents a minute. Not bad, but it does add up, I only went a couple times but I loved the plasma screens and the fact that the whole computer is covered in wood was lovely. The only thing I hated is that the connections are very slow, and when you are paying per minute it can get tedious. The computer center is right on the Grand Foyer, the three-deck atrium that is just breathtaking. I was very impressed that Celebrity, without having to do a glitzy, gargantuan indoor promenade like on Voyager, still managed to take your breath away with a simple, elegant, three story atrium, I just loved the Grand Foyer. A little further aft from the Grand Foyer is the Rendez-Vous lounge. This was a nice spot to hang out before dinner and before the show. The cheesy Starlite Duo played here, I say cheesy not because they were bad, but because they were very repetitive. They have a little kind of karaoke machine that makes the music that the singer sings to, and so they probably have a limited repertoire of songs, so we would hear somewhat the same selection but just in a different order every day, however, it was still nice to hang out and enjoy the music, besides, the duo was very friendly and nice. Also here in the Rendez-Vous lounge is where we had some good times with the Karaoke parties. There was some really good talent on the ship, specially the Brown family, who performed on both karaoke nights and on the talent show on the final day of the cruise, what a lovely voice those two girls had. I actually was going to sing for once, but I could never gather enough courage to get up and sing… well may be it’s a good excuse to go back to Constellation to do what I couldn’t do before.
Further aft still, and to finish off deck 4, is the San Marco’s Dining Room main level. This is where we dined the first and second night. First night because it was open seating, and second night because it was before we changed tables. By the way, the Matri’D of the San Marco restaurant, Eric, was fantastic. We met him on the very first day when we wanted to change from Main Seating to Second Seating (when we bought our cruise tickets, because it was so late, we didn’t get a choice). He was very nice as changed us immediately, and then we got to see him again when we wanted to change tables. We wanted to change tables because since we are originally from Mexico City, my mother doesn’t speak English very well, and we were seated with two American couples, so my mother felt somewhat uncomfortable because we sort of didn’t fit in, and even though they were very friendly, we sometimes couldn’t relate to the conversations they had. The first couple was from New Jersey and they were in pharmaceutics, and the other couple was from Texas, and oddly enough, the wife used to be in pharmaceutics, so it was bla bla bla bla bla about pharmaceutics the whole night. So thankfully Eric, the Matri’D, came to the rescue when we went to see him the third night before dinner, we begged for a table for two, and not only that, but I also wanted a table closer to the center of the dining room, he said, “Room 8004, right” this was before we even introduced ourselves, I was amazed that he remembered us from two days before, he pulled out his little table assignments, and he said… “I’m sorry we have nothing”. We were utterly disappointed, and when he saw our face, he said, “well maybe I can work something out”, he turned to the upstairs assignments and there was an empty table for four, right on the balcony, near the center, and he said, “ok, this is just for the two of you, room 8004”. Talk about 5-star service! Needless to say, we were sold.
Deck 5 is home to the Celebrity Theatre’s Balcony, and the very extensive Emporium shops, in the forward area of the ship. I was very impressed with the shops. On Voyager, being a much larger ship, the shops were very small and lacked a lot of variety, on Constellation; the shops were very extensive and had plenty of different things. They had the usual specials every other day, but the selection in the shops was good and the deals on cigarettes were to die for! Two cartons for $21, you can’t beat that. Another surprise was that they actually had my brand of cigarettes… Benson & Hedges Ultra Lights Menthol… I can never find those but back home. Also, it’s nice that they placed the auction room right here, unlike Voyager where we never found where the auctions where held. Deck 5 midship is where the last level of the lovely Grand Foyer is, and here is where the Cova Café Di Milano is placed. We didn’t spend much time in here, but if we had more time I would’ve liked to try one of their gourmet coffees while listening to the quartet or the harpist, which played here often. We did try the afternoon pastries and these were just to die for, like anywhere else on the ship. Continuing aft, is the Martini/Champagne Bar, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful rooms on the entire ship, second only to the Grand Foyer. The décor was fantastic in neutral, light tones. This room is also open to the Rendez-Vous lounge below and you can always hear the music playing downstairs. We didn’t spend much time here because we would have rather sit downstairs in the Rendez-Vous to watch the Starlite Duo play. To finish off Deck 5 is the upper level of the San Marco Restaurant where we spent the rest of the cruise (after the first two nights) dining in the lovely company of each other.
Words & Notes
Words is on decks 8 and 9, and this is the library. I only visited once just to see what it looked like. It’s a very nice room, but I didn’t see very much people there, and personally I wasn’t going to spend much time there either when there is so much to do elsewhere on the ship, but nonetheless it’s a very nice, quiet spot to be if you want to be alone with a good book. Notes is on decks 6 and 7, also midship, and this I wanted to use but the first time I was there I couldn’t figure out where to get the headphones, later I found out that you can get them at the guest relations desk, but I never found the time to either go and get the headphones or to go and listen to music in Notes. May be next cruise too….
This is the resort deck where all the daytime action happens. In the very forward is the famous AquaSpa. I had read in some reviews that the décor wasn’t too great, but I thought it was elegant and modern and just fantastic like on the rest of the ship. We didn’t get to try out any of the spa treatments, may be this is just another excuse to go back to Constellation to try all that I missed. The one thing that I did like is that just aft of the spa they had the male/female changing rooms. These were nice and spacious, and it was a very good feature so people don’t have to go all the way back down to their staterooms to change or shower after swimming or after a spa treatment. I also liked the fact that they had the sauna rooms here and these were available for use for everybody. This was something I did try and it was just heavenly, they also have a big window looking out to the sea from the sauna room. This was a feature that we couldn’t find on Voyager.
Our favorite spot in Deck 10 was the Thalassotherapy pool. This is the glass enclosed therapeutic pool right in the forward of the ship. The décor was relaxing and elegant, with lovely wooden beach chairs and teak flooring. This is also the adults only area in the pool, now I don’t have anything against children, but they do get to be noisy and the often disrupt the peace, so it was nice to be in the peaceful surroundings of the Thalassotherapy pool. The pool is pretty large and they have these cool jets on each side of the pool where you can lay down and just lounge around being softly massaged. They also have two whirlpool tubs, which were another heavenly experience, perhaps my only complaint was that they were extremely hot, but that was because they are therapeutic as well, and it was nice to just sit there for the recommended 15 minutes. Another complaint about the Thalassotherapy area was the lack of beach chairs, they only have a few of those, they have a lot more of some other chairs that do not fold all they way, so perhaps it would have been nice to have a few more of the folding beach chairs. Also, there was this one day that we finally found two folding chairs, and we left our towels there along with our clothes while we went to the Jacuzzi for a little bit, just to come back to the surprise that a rude gentleman had removed my towel and clothes and placed them in another char (the not folding kind) so that he could use my folding chair! HOW RUDE!!!!! It wasn’t a big deal, but come on people! Let’s all have common courtesy!!!! Anyway… we just decided that if we ever wanted to go lay down we would go to the main pool area where folding chairs were always plentiful.
The main pool area is large and nice, a lot, and I mean A LOT of beach chairs, we never had any trouble finding chairs here, that was very nice, because on Voyager I thought the main pool area was a little small for the amount of guests and the chairs were never enough. We also loved that they had a live band most every day playing there, and it was also nice that the band played a wide variety of music, unlike the band on Voyager, which only played the calypso music. So this was very nice, we didn’t go on in the pools here a lot. They have a big lap pool, which is nice and deep (about 7’) and another smaller wading pool for children and lounging around. The also have 4 more whirlpools here which were always full, but that’s because they were at such a nice, comfortable, body temperature.
Further aft is the Seaside Café/Grill.
This is the very nice breakfast/lunch area of the ship. The setting was very
nice, and the food delicious. We hardly ever encountered lines here, the only
lines (and they were small) were on the midnight buffets when it is expected
that everybody is going to be there at the same time. We didn’t get to try some
of the special features of the Seaside Café and Grill, like in the morning they
made pancakes and omelets made to order in the Seaside Grill, and during lunch
hours they had specialty food also in the Seaside Grill, like made to order
pasta, sushi, and such. The lunch themes varied each day featuring a different
part of the world. We didn’t get to try the omelets during breakfast because we
are late risers, so we always were too late to enjoy the full breakfast, we
always made it to the “Light Breakfast” or rather LATE Breakfast because we were
never there by 10am which was the time that the regular breakfast was over, but
still the food was good even though we had to stick to a smaller variety due to
our sleeping habits.
Deck 11 is the sundeck; in the far forward is the beautiful and large Reflections Nightclub. This was nice place to go watch the ocean during the day, and it was a vibrant nightclub at night. They had theme parties each night here, ranging from the 70’s Disco party, to the 50’s Golden Oldies party. The parties we attended were always very good and featured live music and were hosted by the cruise staff. Following the theme parties the DJ would play till the wee hours of the morning (or so we heard). The DJ to some people was very bad because he wouldn’t mix the music just right, but this was because due to the fact that we boarded in San Juan, there were a lot of Puerto Ricans onboard, so they would constantly request salsa music, so the DJ would gladly play salsa, but then the American crowd would request different music, so then the DJ had to switch from Salsa to R&B and back and forth. So it was really funny to see the disappointed faces of the Puerto Ricans leaving the dance floor when the DJ switched music, and then after a couple of songs the same disappointment with the other crowd when the DJ would switch back to Salsa… I think they should all just dance all sorts of music and not be so narrow minded to only dance the type that they want… but oh well! Anyway… so most of Deck 11 is filled with lounge chairs, I got to spend a few hours toasting here… I hate my skin though cause I was already pealing by the middle of the cruise so I had to go back to toast again… oh well! The lounge chairs were always plentiful and you could always find a spot for just yourself.
Midship, Deck 11 is the Conservatory… this
is a very nice flower garden/shop kind of deal. This would be a nice spot to
relax if it didn’t have such high foot traffic of people moving from deck 11 to
deck 10 and vice-versa… but still, they have a nice flower shop and it always
smells fantastic in there. Also around this are is the Golf Simulator, which we
never used, but there were always tournaments being held here. Further aft, deck
11, are the children’s facilities. The smallish arcade, and the Shipmates Fun
Factory, which thankfully is where most of the kids were restrained during the
day, I have no comment on these facilities because we didn’t use them, but we
could see a lot of kids having fun around here.
Deck 12 forward has nothing more but an observation/sun deck full of beach chairs with unobstructed sun, and of course, sweeping views of the ocean. The only thing I didn’t like about this part of the ship is that the glass enclosures are really high due to the fact that since it is so far forward, wind gusts are really bad, but I guess this is all for people’s protection… so whatever… like I said, I’m picky, and then to finish off deck 12 aft, is the multi-use sports court. I’m not a big sports person so we only went to visit one day just to see what it looked like and that’s it.
PORTS OF CALL – San Juan
On embarkation day, since we got to the ship quite early, we got off the ship after we toured it, and took a cab to the Old San Juan. Our taxi driver was nice enough to kind of explain which streets to take so we could get the most out of a little walking tour of Old San Juan. He dropped us off by the El Morro Fortress, so we walked the short distance to the entrance, and for a small, nominal fee, we went in to tour the centuries-old fortress. There is not too much to see at the fortress… so perhaps I would recommend that you wait and take the guided tour (which I believe is only a couple of extra $) so that you can get the most out of your visit. I think we only paid $4 for the both of us, so we enjoyed taking a couple pictures and walking around the fortress to find the lovely sweeping views of San Juan.
After El Morro, we walked down the quaint
little streets of Old San Juan (quite different from the modern, busy streets we
had seen throughout the rest of the island), and while we were walking we
managed to find our way to the Cathedral of San Juan, where a big even was
taking place that particular day, we walked down to find out that it was Marc
Anthony’s (the singer) wedding to former Miss Universe, Dyanara Torres (SP) so
it was quite an even to see the crowd gathering outside the cathedral and the
impressive security all around there… plus my mother loved the beautiful flower
arrangements they had on the steps of the cathedral. We walked a little more
around San Juan and then by 4pm we were ready to go back to the ship.
Upon arriving at St. Croix we could really tell it was a virgin island because there was not much to see around the pier. It is quite a walk from the debarkation point to the end of the pier so they have little shuttles taking people back and forth as needed. We decided not to book any shore excursions so we decided to just get off the ship and just wing it. We were thinking of going down to a beach in St. Croix, but since it was cloudy and raining a little bit, we decided to go to the other side of the Island to Christianstead (Frederikstead is were the ship docks). We took the taxi right from the pier and our taxi driver was fantastic, he talked to us throughout the whole ride about the different things we were passing and he also told us a lot about the history of St. Croix. We finally got to Christianstead and so off to the shops we went… we found some good deals on souvenirs here, so we bought pretty much most of the stuff here to take back home. After a little more rain and some more shopping we went back to the ship. All of St. Croix was very nice and quaint… well they said it was quiet that day because it was a Sunday and everyone stays home on Sunday… so may be if you go on a different day, the peacefulness we encountered won’t be the same. On the way back to the ship we got the same taxi driver (thankfully) and he took us a different way so we could see more of the island… we visited one of the world’s largest oil refineries, and he even took us shopping for rum at a place where the deals cannot be beat… and all this for just a regular taxi fare… what a deal… and we didn’t even have to spend the money for a shore tour.
In St. Lucia the port is a lot different, here we could immediately see the bustling action going on. Upon debarking the ship we were immediately in a big shopping arcade even before leaving the port… the people here were a little unfriendly and pushy with sales… but from our experiences in other parts of the world, this is to be expected in any town where tourism is the main base of income. We proceeded off the terminal and into a taxi that took us to Reduit Beach, the driving here is just plain scary, but in a way we’re used to it because in Mexico City the driving is just as scary, so it reminded us a little about home. Reduit beach is very nice, and for a rather small price you can rent a beach chair and an umbrella. I guess because it was winter the water was colder than usual, but it was very refreshing in a warm sunny day in St. Lucia. There were plenty of people selling things all along the beach, but since we spent most of the time in the water, we didn’t have to deal with most of them. All in all it was a relaxing day in paradise.
In Barbados my original plan was to repeat what we did in St. Lucia, take a taxi, go to a beautiful beach, and just relax, but due to the fact that mother had gotten a bad sunburn (even with sun block and all) the day before, we decided to go downtown instead. We got off the ship (already afternoon by now) and took the shuttle down to the terminal (it’s a LONG walk). The terminal here is also full of shops, but just outside of the terminal you can get a wonderful photo opportunity to catch Constellation in all its splendor. We took the shuttle from the terminal to downtown ($2 per person), the driver was pushy to get his money, but it was a short ride, so it didn’t matter. Since it was so quaint around the terminal, we expected downtown Barbados to be kind of like the Old San Juan… nice, quaint, and quiet. But OH NO! Were we in for a surprise, downtown Barbados was a bustling Mecca of activity. I never thought so much movement could go on in such a little island. I have only seen so much people in Vegas, New York, and Mexico City, but I never expected to find such a thing in Barbados. Shopping was also good here and we got a few good deals on shirts and things. We went to Tiffany’s (which I was surprised to find here in Barbados) and I thought I could finally get the ring I had been wanting from Tiffany, but they didn’t have it in white gold… so oh well… more people…. More shopping… and then back to the ship we went. If I could do it over again, I think I would go to a beach instead in Barbados… downtown is far too busy for my tastes, but it was still and amazing sight to behold. Also, do not miss the WONDERFUL Calypso Rum Cake store… these are the best tasting, most affordable, greatest (can you tell I love them) rum cakes in the Caribbean. We only got a four-pack sampler but now I wish we would have gotten more. The shop is in the terminal and the people are really friendly and they have cakes out so you can try them… they really are fantastic… you’ll love them after the first bite.
After the experience in Barbados, this time I was determined to go to a beach and just unwind, thankfully, mother’s sunburn was better and so we got off the ship to find a local youth group playing lovely calypso music right on the pier. It was very nice, and after we sat there for a few minutes, we went on to the main area right off the ship. Lot’s of shopping here, and once again, a lot of people (locals), we were going to shop around a bit, but a taxi driver approached us, and after telling us we should go to the beach early, off we went to the beach by the Sandals resort. The beach at first seemed kind of small, but once I sat my foot down in the sand… OH MY GOD, I was in sensory heaven. I had never felt such soft sand in my life before (not Cancun, nor Cayman, nor Cozumel, nor Jamaica, or anything for that matter); it was a lovely powdery white, really what a Caribbean beach is meant to be. We once again rented a beach chair, and this time mother wore a shirt over her bathing suit, and off the water we went. Again the water was colder than usual, but refreshing, and the sand was just to die for. We lounged around and we just let the world go by, I dug a hole in the sand for my feet, and I just let the waves move me as the pleased. We also had fun digging for little seashells and such; there was a nice area to pick for these things right where the waves break. Mother brought a bottle full of sand and seashells with her. After a few hours in paradise, back to the action of the shops by the ship we went. We did some more shopping, and then we retired to Constellation.
Again… I might seem boring, but I once again wanted to go off to a beach and relax, but since we had heard that St. Thomas was a shopper’s paradise, mother wouldn’t take any of my requests for a beach, and so it was unanimously decided we would go shopping. This day, we had to get up really early (well that’s for us) at 7am to go to the immigrations clearance onboard the ship (since it was the first US Port after we left St. Croix). So the night before we got letters telling us where to go for the mandatory check. Since mother is a US Citizen she (and most of the rest of the cruise) went down to the Celebrity Theatre for the check, and I (along with fewer guest) went up the Reflections nightclub, where I enjoyed views of the Sea Princess. This was the only port where another ship was in town along with us. In the rest of the ports only Constellation had been in town, so it was nice to see the Sea Princess docked in front of us. After “Late Breakfast” off we went to shop. They have a lot of shops right by the pier too, these shops were closer to Sea Princess though (since she was docked in front of us) and since we were further behind it was a little walk to those shops, so we just took the taxi right after getting off the ship, and off to downtown we went. Here is really a shoppers paradise… there are hundreds of shops, with everything from clothes, to jewelry to Tiffany’s. Here we went to look for my ring again, but this time, they didn’t have it in my size… such luck… oh well! So we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked around what seemed to be an endless supply of shops… mother was in sensory heaven this time, so after a couple of hours, I had had enough, so we headed down to the Hard Rock Café to get some last souvenirs, and then we started walking back towards the dock to find a taxi. Around where the taxis drop you off there is a little esplanade, and in this particular day, some of the local schools were having a recital of Christmas music in the little kiosk in this esplanade. So we sat in a little bench and watched the chorus of children sing for a few minutes. After enjoying their angelical little voices, we started heading back to the main street to find a taxi when we were approached by this young gentleman asking if we had been invited to go up to “Blue Beard’s Castle”. We were intrigued and said no… so he said that if we went up to Blue Beard’s Castle we would get 2 free bottle of rum and a round trip ticket to anywhere in the world, and a three-night vacation for two. Of course this all seems to good to be true, and so we already knew that this was somewhere where you had to buy something to get all the stuff… well anyway, come to find out, it was one of those time share places. So anyway, we have already been to some of these, and since we had some time, we decided to go up to the hill where Blue Beard’s Castle is, to take some pictures and things. So they took us up there, and after a couple hours of trying to sell us a time share, we finally got our pictures, our round-trip tickets (which you have to stay at a particular hotel, for a particular amount of time to get the tickets), our three-night vacation, (which you was limited to a few cities around the US), and our rum (which was the only thing that was truly free). But at least we got some good pictures, the rum, and a free ride back to the ship. So I guess if you have time to spare, want a few good pictures, some bottle of rum, and a tickets and hotel with a catch, go up to Blue Beard’s Castle. If not, remember to stay away from these gentlemen, because they are hard to get away from.
Anyway… so back to some other details about Constellation
The food was just fantastic. Onboard Voyager, the food varied from good to great, to not so good, but onboard Constellation it was all fantastic. The dinners were always great… from beginning to end. The meats were always cooked to perfection, the soups were great, specially the creams, and the desserts were just TO DIE FOR! The salads were the only thing I didn’t particularly preferred, and this was because I’m really picky when it come to the salad dressing, and since the change the dressing every day, it was very tough for me to try out a different dressing every night, so sometimes I would skip the salad, but the days I did have the salad it was great just like the rest of the Food.
The food during breakfast was what I was
particularly worried about before we went on Constellation, because on Voyager
the breakfast area and the breakfast food were just horrible, but on
Constellation, the food was just as great as anywhere else. The French toasts
were a little weird looking, but they were tasty nonetheless, and everything
else (particularly the eggs) were great.
The service was great throughout most of the cruise, the cabin attendant as I had mentioned was great, the only thing I missed where the towel animals, but I guess because Celebrity is in the Premium category they cannot be having none of the things that lower rated cruise lines have… so that was just fine not having the little animals waiting for us. I guess personal service is better compared to having towel animals, but never seeing your cabin attendant. The service in the bars was great too, they were all friendly, wanting to know how your day went, always ready to give tips on both the selections at the bar, and the ports of call, and they were never pushy selling drinks or anything. The Dining room service was great too, the waiter the first night was quick and he spoke English quite well, the waiter the second night (remember we changed tables three times) was a little quieter, spoke less English, and always seemed to be in a hurry, but the assistant waiter was friendly a made up for whatever the Waiter lacked, and then our waiter for the rest of the cruise was very nice, always at hand when needed, and very knowledgeable when it came to what the dishes where made up of. The assistant waiter was from Peru, so he spoke Spanish and this was comforting for mother, but he lacked some service skills… but oh well! I guess you can’t have everything can you? Also as I had mentioned the Matri’D was fantastic. I guess our only complaints was the fact that the assistant waiter, Richard from Peru, was a tad bit lacking in customer service skills sometimes, and wasn’t too knowledgeable on thing, but it was ok, because he was very friendly and he remembered all of our tastes by the second night we were with him, so that was good.
SHOWS & ENTERTAINMENT
As I had mentioned the Starlite Duo wasn’t much in selection, but big in talent and friendliness. The quartet we only got to hear a couple of night at dinner; we never go to see the harpist, but heard she was good; the pianist played most every night at dinner and he was very good, and the pool band was fantastic and played all sorts of music. The Shows were great all the time, and the theatre was dazzling. The theatre can easily rival the technical merits of any showroom in Vegas. The floor of the stage sinks, rises, rotates, etc, etc, etc. It is all very technological and it all compliments well the talents up on Stage. The two production shows were great; they have very good dancers and very good singers. The first one was Batucada: A Dance Odyssey, this was just fantastic, a lot of dancing, and lots of cool music. The second one was about Broadway, this one began well, but ended kind of slow… but it was good nonetheless. The headliners Lindsey Hamilton, JC Fisher, Brooks Aheron and Jeff Nease were all very good; Lindsey Hamilton was fantastically charming and had a super voice… everyone just loved her. Brooks Aheron is a pianist, but that we didn’t know that the first day he played, so we decided to skip his show thinking that he was a comedian, thankfully he played a concert on the sea day so we got to see what we had missed. He’s very talented and it was nice to see a classy piano concerto while at sea. JC Fisher is a tenor and he was also great… although he played a couple of songs, which I heard from some of the foreign guests that they thought were tacky… and this was in particular that he chose to close his concert with “I’m Proud to Be an American”. Now this is fine, I mean, he is an American, and the ship was mostly filled with Americans, and it is the aftermath of Sept. 11, and so the song fits… but from what I talked with some of the foreign guests (among them a couple from England, Holland, Mexico, Canada, and Switzerland) the thought it was kind of tacky to sing that song knowing that there are plenty of foreign people onboard… the song was great and all… but they still thought it was just a tad tacky. But anyway… God Bless America… but anyhoo… then we went to Jeff Nease and he was quite funny. So all in all the shows were fantastic and they were really above the ones on Voyager.
Since we got onboard Constellation, we quickly inquired about the debarking procedures, we had a nightmare getting off Voyager, so we wanted to avoid confusion and crowds etc. I went down to the Guest Relations Desk on deck 3 to ask about these little things, we were planning on catching a flight leaving out of San Juan at 9:20 am so I wanted to see what was the earliest we could get off the ship to see if we could catch that flight, the lady at the desk told me that the earliest we could get off the ship would be at about 9am, so that was too little time for us to go down to the airport, so I asked what the latest time would be to get off, and she said it would be around 10:30am. With this information I retired to the cabin and proceeded to enjoy the rest of the cruise. Come the last night, we got our colored luggage tags and a handy flyer mentioning the order in which colors would be called for people to get off the ship (nice touch, it would have been nice to have this info onboard Voyager), we had Lilac which was one of the last ones on the list, so I figured we would be getting off the ship around 10am. We woke up early debarkation morning, had a nice breakfast (unlike the hurried breakfast we had on Voyager) and then just before we were done having breakfast, our color was called. They had started calling colors around 8:30 and by 8:45 was when our color was called, we were surprised since I didn’t expect to get off the ship till at least 9:30, but I guess since the ship wasn’t completely full, the debarkation process was going quite swiftly. Unlike Voyager in which we encountered crowds and long lines to get off the ship, we were off Constellation within 10 minutes since we left the buffet area upstairs. The only thing that delayed us a little bit was that we were held just before the hall where you pick up your luggage due to the fact that the Customs agents were getting a little backed up, but after that small hold up we were off the terminal very quickly. By 9:15 we were taking a cab to the airport where we checked our luggage, got our “confirmed” seats (thank God we didn’t have to standby anymore) and the nice young man at the airline ticket counter told us, after we asked, that it would be nice to spend some time around Isla Verde before we boarded our 2pm flight back to Chicago. We took another taxi down to Isla Verde from the airport where we found a nice little beach, rented a couple beach chairs, I took a nap while mother chatted away with the local lady renting out the beach chairs, and then after a nice nap we spent a couple more hours with our feet in the sand and with the surf rubbing against our legs. It was a nice end to a lovely vacation before boarding the LONG flight back home.
Finally the end to the review… I know… you’re tired of reading by now… now listen… I know this was lengthy, but I am always in need of knowledge about the ships I’m going on, and so a lot of people write small reviews and I always want to know everything before I go so I decided to write a long one… I hope it has been helpful… All in all I would rate Constellation a 10 out of 10. The whole cruise was fantastic and I would do it again in a heartbeat. So if you are planning to go on Constellation in a future cruise… don’t hesitate… just go! YOU’LL LOVE IT! Well I can’t wait for my next cruise… and this will be either Radiance of the Seas… Infinity… or I might even give Carnival Spirit a try… if not I’ll just go back to Constellation because I know I’ll have a great time.