Number of Cruises: 11
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: November 27th, 2006
Constellation Cruise Review
My wife and I are veteran
cruisers and a very young age 55 and 57. We are busy people with an active
lifestyle, and enjoy cruising mainly to relax and re-charge our batteries. Our
November 2006 cruise on board Celebrity's Constellation was our first on a
Millennium-class ship and our first cruise longer than 7-nights.
The Constellation is, in a word, magnificent. Gas-turbine engines, exclusive to Celebrity's Millennium-class, eliminate the shuddering felt on diesel-powered ships. Sparkling clean (sanitary dispensers are everywhere to help prevent a Norwalk virus outbreak). Beautifully decorated. Easy to find your way around. Hardly any congestion for such a large ship. Very friendly staff. The excellent service and good food that Celebrity cruisers have come to expect.
Our cruise left from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Celebrity has the embarkation process down to a science, and we were on board about 30 minutes after arriving at the terminal.
A few highlights and suggestions to share with you. Our cabin was on Deck 7 with a veranda. A mid-ship location helps to eliminate rocking and rolling. The veranda cabins are worth the money. I spent hours reading out there or just enjoying the sea. There was sufficient space for storage in the cabin, and we came with four fully-loaded bags. I believe that my wife packed a change of clothes for every possible occasion, including a change of clothes for when she was changing clothes. There was still room for everything in our cabin. The bathrooms are also adequate in size with an excellent shower. Bring a clock, though, because there is not one in the cabins.
The entertainment was standard for most cruise ships, including the nightly shows in the theatre. This is not meant as a criticism, since the shows in the highly-competitive cruise industry are generally good. The theatre, by the way, was the best designed we've seen on any ship, with almost no obstructed sight lines. The Constellation is also distinguished by a Cirque du Soleil show that brought the audience to its feet, cheering. It was one of the best shows I've seen anywhere, on or off ship. I believe that the Cirque show is offered on only one other Millennium-class ship and is exclusive to Celebrity.
Unlike Holland America's Vista-class ships, which are similar in size to Celebrity's Millennium-class, there is plenty of shade by the pool. An exercise track on Deck 11 was a wonderful alternative to the treadmills in the gym at the front of the ship, and provided marvelous views of the seas and ports. In the evenings before our second-seating dinner, we met with friends for a drink in the Martini Bar, just outside the second level of the dining room. The center of the room is open to provide a balcony of sorts to the Rendezvous Bar below. By the second night, the bar staff already knew us by name.
I've seen other reviewers rave over the ship's atrium, which you can visit on a virtual tour on the Celebrity website. It is breathtaking. Also in the buffet restaurant on the pool deck, sections of the dining room extend over the sea and there are glass-panels in the floor for a remarkable view. The casino is beautiful and exciting, with friendly and funny black-jack dealers. Glass-enclosed elevators on mid-ship port side are said to have been innovated by Celebrity.
We were lucky to be seated in the dining room at the foot of the grand staircase with a waiter from India named Mennino, of Portuguese descent. Mr. Mennino epitomized the courteous, professional, expert white-glove service that has earned Celebrity its superior reputation. Chairs were held for us, napkins were placed on our laps, every menu was explained and recommendations were made for our dining pleasure. Despite being extremely busy and working ridiculously long hours, Mennino always found time to stop and chat, with the warmest smile and eyes. No request was too outlandish or unreasonable. Some members of our table occasionally dined in the separate, "specialty" restaurant on Deck 3 during the cruise, although my wife and I found the items on the menu a little too fancy (read "phony") for our tastes. The praise for the specialty restaurant was not so much for the food as the service, where you could sit and dine for hours. For us, that meant missing a show after dinner or cutting into valuable casino time, which did not justify the expense of $60 per couple.
Most of the ports we had visited before. Grand Cayman, Aruba and Cozumel are very good for shopping and are all tourist-friendly. (By the way, there are also beautiful and plentiful shops on board ship.) The port in Panama was dreary but we took a cab from the pier for a 15-minute drive to the fascinating Canal. It's not known as the "eighth wonder of the world" by accident. The port in Costa Rica was dirty and dangerous, and good only if you're leaving the ship on a shore-excursion bus. I believe that for next year's cruise it's been replaced by another port.
Some other interesting features which we did not take advantage of: a large spa in an expanded glass-enclosed area on the pool deck that also offered a "lite" buffet, an acupuncture center, a computer internet center, a "conservatory" filled with flowers and a two-deck library.
All right, I've rambled on enough already, so let's get to the bottom line. Now having cruised for 11-nights, we'll never go back to 7-night cruises. They're just not long enough. And you'll agree that once you treat yourself to a veranda cabin, you won't settle for anything less. It was our best vacation to date, and I recommend this ship without reservation or hesitation. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.