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Karen Richins

Age: 50

Occupation:Sales

Number of Cruises: 12

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Constellation

Sailing Date: October 25th, 2002

Itinerary: 14 Night Transatlantic

Ports of Call: Barcelona, Spain; Malaga, Spain; Gibraltar, UK, Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Nassau, Bahamas Number of cruises including this one: 12 for me, 6 for my Significant Other.

We arrived in Barcelona 2 days prior to boarding the ship and were delighted with the city. Our hotel, The Grand Marina - and recommended by Celebrity, was located on the pier. We watched many cruise ships come and go and only had to cab a mile to the Constellation. Boarding the ship was quick and easy as we are Captains Club members and Celebrity made sure that we were moved to the head of the line.

The ship is absolutely beautiful, very modern with artwork of all types throughout the stairwells and public areas. Our cabin was located aft on the stern, and the balcony was extra long with 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table. Upon request we were given thick navy cushions for the loungers. The cabin itself is tastefully decorated with a large mirror at the end of the bed and another at the desk facing the sofa. We had plenty of drawer and storage space for our 14 night cruise. And I must say that the bed was soft and comfortable without the hump in the middle - usually a dead giveaway that 2 twins have been pushed together. The blanket is covered with a white duvet and there were 4 bed pillows. Very inviting and we slept well on this cruise.

The bathroom seems a bit more roomy than most and the shower is rectangular, although the shower curtain has a tendency to blow into the shower and stick to you as you shower. The hair dryer’s on the wall of the bathroom and there are cupboards below the sink for storing items. Something appreciated more by us ladies than the men! I would suggest bringing a hand mirror if you want to look at your back side. None of the mirrors in the cabin are movable. Freddy (finally a cabin steward’s name we could remember) was fantastic. He brought wine glasses without our asking when he saw a bottle on the desk. He delivered 7 more when we had a cabin party one evening with our family and friends on board.

That brings up another interesting situation that I’m not sure I fully understand. Celebrity does not allow you to bring your own booze aboard – or so they state in the ticket book. Upon scouring the booze store in the Celebrity shopping mall the crew member working the store told us we could buy alcohol from the store and take it to our room. He “acted” as though it was a secret and if caught he would be in serious trouble. The catch was that you had to bring your blue Celebrity bag from the room to carry the bottle in. So we did. Only to find everyone was doing the same thing because the clerk had given them the same story he gave us. I thought maybe Celebrity felt guilty about not letting us bring booze on board when HAL recommends you bring it in your carry on luggage so the bottle doesn’t break. Interesting, huh?

We always travel with a laptop and we were looking forward to the internet connection in the cabin aboard the Constellation. After searching our cabin for this connection, and finding nothing, we headed down to the Guest Relations desk on Floor 3. There we were given a special phone and cords for use with the internet. A flat fee of $100 allowed unlimited use of the internet from our cabin. If you’re uncertain about setting up the phone, you can have your cabin steward do this for you. We were far too impatient to wait and took the plastic box back to our cabin immediately. The set up was basic and a 2 page flyer was included with the kit. However . . . the flyer did not mention that Windows 2000 is not compatible. If you plan to use this service I would suggest having XP on your laptop. You must also have a dial-up modem to connect to the phone. We had 2 laptops, one with Windows 2000 and one with XP. I don’t believe the system is compatible with Mac. We were able to download some email into Outlook on the 2000 OS, but could not send email or check any web based email such as Hotmail and Yahoo. The pages timed you. The laptop with XP allowed us to connect, download, and send files as we had planned. Plus access our web based email. The connection is very slow and occasionally times out. One nice touch was that we used MSN Messenger to chat real-time with business associates, friends and family at home. It truly made a difference to have this form of communication in our cabin as opposed to using the internet café. By the way, there is large internet café with a dozen or more terminals and stays busy most of the time. Celebrity offers classes in Word and Excel throughout the cruise and they appeared to be completely full.

To help stunt our growth (width wise) we work out. The gym on the ship has several treadmills and elliptical cross trainers, as well as the typical weight machines, a few free weights and an exercise floor. The classes, with the exception of the spinning class, are free. We did not use the AquaSpa or Beauty Salon, although both looked very nice. The sauna is in the changing rooms and has a large window looking out the side of the ship. There are 2 main pools, one is indoors and has 2 areas where you can lay in shallow water and let the jets of water massage you. The water temperature is similar to a hot tub. The outdoor pool is relatively large and there is also a wading type pool just beyond it. We swam almost everyday in the late afternoon and were thrilled to find that Celebrity leaves the pool open when there are waves in it. You could almost body surf!

Late seating starts at 8:30PM and by the time you work through the courses it’s almost 10:30PM. Food was good and we were well taken care of at dinner. Wine can be a little bit slow and we learned quickly that if you order your wine before dinner the bottle is there when you sit down. This can be done in your cabin on your TV using the remote control. Do keep tabs on your account, again using the TV. We had a charge that wasn’t ours for drinks. Guest Relations researched the charge and removed it.

The SeaSide Café is large and they have several starting points for the buffet. We never waited long in line, if at all. They have a special theme lunch each day at the end of the buffet and 2 pasta bars that change daily as well. Ice-Cream is excellent, appears to be made fresh, and opens at lunch. Soft Ice Cream is offered later in the day. The food was good and there’s always a helpful crew member to carry your tray to your table. They keep the food areas extremely clean and I’ve found this to be true on a past Celebrity cruise as well. We saw several guests in wheelchairs with a crew member pushing them through the line and helping these folks settle into a table with their meal. There was even a woman on board with a seeing-eye dog and we later learned the dog was a first for Celebrity. All of the staff had a story about the dog and we were told several times over that it had been through a barrage of tests and paid full fare to be on board.

Shore excursions were executed perfectly and we participated in 3 of their best excursions before crossing the Atlantic. All tours were in comfortable buses with bathrooms and the bus time was narrated as we traveled. The only drawback on the longer tours is the length of time spent in the bus for the tall guys in our group. Not enough leg room for those pushing the 6 foot and above mark.

Big kudos to the Celebrity photographers as they take the best pictures of any cruise ship we’ve been on. The photo gallery also has equipment for reading from a digital camera or other various types of storage media. They will make prints from your pictures and you can use choose different graphics to customize your prints.

One of our favorite hangouts before dinner was the Martini Bar. They actually know how to make a good martini along with a selection of specialty drinks. I highly recommend the Melon Martini! Décor is very modern and the Champagne Bar is on the other side. Dance music is one deck below and you can watch through an opening in the center. Nice touch.

We tried the Oceanliner restaurant on the last night of our cruise and found it to be quite good overall. The only hitch was the Caesar salad that was overdosed in that salty fish that my other half had requested they leave out. He returned it for a pasta dish and was quite satisfied with his 2nd selection. Our flaming dishes were perfectly done and our waiter actually broke out of his mold and shared some humor with us as he cooked our meals. Helping take away the somewhat stuffy feeling of perfectionism that I felt was a little bit overstated. But then I come from Seattle, Washington and we’re pretty casual in the PNW.

Overall we absolutely loved this ship, the staff, the food, and would cruise her again. We especially enjoyed the 14 night transatlantic crossing with our favorite days being the ones at sea. This was definitely one of our best cruising experiences.

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