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Review of April 9-16 Constellation Cruise - Extremely Long!!


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I have gathered so much great information from this board, I thought it only fair that I participate by writing a review of our trip on the Constellation and continuing the dialogue on the Celebrity experience.


San Juan – We arrived a day early to look around and enjoy the night life. We took a rather expensive cab ride from the airport to the Marriott Courtyard. The hotel was about 1-2 miles away and cost $14, plus tip. The hotel had nice rooms with an ocean view, a casino, a salsa night club and was directly on the beach. I would definitely recommend this hotel except for one thing… it is directly… and I mean directly at the end of one of the runways. When planes went overhead, it sounded like they were landing on the hotel. The air traffic was not too bad and for one day it was fine, but we would not stay more than overnight. We then took a cab into Old San Juan, explored the area and landed at Sr. Frogs. Sr. Frogs late at night is quite an experience and I would recommend it. (Big wheel racing for Tequila shots was a unique experience. ) Like the cab ride, however, it was quite expensive for bar food and drinks… but overall worth every nickel. We went to the hotel and went to bed. We slept late the next morning and took a cab to the ship. Even before boarding her we were in awe. The ship was beautiful!! We were there right at noon, so there was a crowd… but the embarkation process was smooth and well organized. We were on the ship in 10 minutes. We were quite impressed. Once on the ship, we did not get back off in San Juan. We explored all afternoon and hung out by several bars.


Casa De Campo – Here we did the Catalina Beach Break, which is a private beach on an island. This was a nice beach and the water was very refreshing. They had beach runners to assist with getting chairs and drinks. The only downside was the merchandise hawkers. One would think that an island would equal no harassment. Not true!! They import merchants to sell various trinkets and trash. They pretty much left you alone on the beach, but if you had to go down the walkway to the bathroom… look out… because you will have 4-5 trying to give you something or direct you to their hut. Overall though, this was nice and I would recommend it.


Sea Day – Well it is now time for some spa services and we scheduled the Rasul. All I can say is mud + oils + steam bath + showers + locked door = very happy couple. My wife also had some sort of wrap done that she enjoyed. The rest of the day was spent at the pool and on our balcony. Very relaxing day.


Grenada – Based on the information I have seen on the cruise critic boards, my wife and I were not even going to get off the boat. We had seen that as soon as you get off the ship 30+ people are begging for money. Lucky for us we met a very nice couple on the ship via our cruise critic roll call. They raved about the port and a specific cabbie who performed excellent tours. They got off early, found him (Pete the Treat) and called us. We are soooo glad they did because we had a great day. We got off the ship and at the cruise terminal there were some merchants who were overly aggressive. We boarded Pete’s van and saw the island. He stopped several times for pictures, explained everything in detail (in two languages as we also had a couple from Spain with us), we stopped for beer, we stopped at a waterfall where we swam, we stopped at a VERY small rum stand where we had free samples, we went to an old fort, etc. etc. I would recommend Pete to anyone for an excellent day in Grenada and do not let the negative posts about this island scare you away!!




Barbados – We did the Swim with turtles and snorkel at the ship wreck excursion. This was another great day!! There were several turtles and we got some great pictures. Snorkeling at the wrecks was fair, but decent. After the snorkeling, we went to a private beach for about an hour. Important note: After the water activities the crewed opened up the bar (which was free) I had several beers and was feeling pretty loose, which I needed because I had plans to visit Diamonds International with my wife after the excursion. All I can say is that she left happy and I was looking for another drink. The only disappointment we had here was the cabbies. When you leave the cruise dock, a cabbie comes up to you every two feet asking if you need a ride. After about 20 “no’s” I was starting to get annoyed. That aside, it was a very nice stop.

Note on Diamonds International
– The ship’s shopping consultant / channel will make D.I. sound like the best place to get Diamonds and that the deals are incredible. Well we had our purchase appraised by a local firm that specializes in appraisals. (They do not sell jewelry!!) The deal we got in Barbados was ok… but I probably could have done as well here in Atlanta. I am not sorry we made our purchase as the ambiance and surprise / excitement from my wife was worth it. Just make sure you know your local / home pricing and don’t rely on ship’s advice as you may do as well in your home town.



Antigua – My wife and I used this day to just relax and hang out as a couple. Up to this point we had done all the excursions in a group. We did some shopping in the market and then took a cab to Turner’s Beach. The beach had a restaurant / bar and was very quiet. We discovered that this was the same beach that the shore excursion went to but they were leaving when we arrived. The group that we had been hanging out with went to Pineapple Beach, which is an all inclusive where you can get a day pass. They raved about it. In hind site, we probably should have gone with the group, but we had a wonderful day none the less. The only negative was once again the cabbies. When you get off the ship, be prepared for the swarm as you walk towards town. They were even worse here than Barbados. But overall this is a very pretty island. We are even considering buying land and /or building a house in the future on this island.



St. Thomas – In this port we did the BOB excursion where you putter around a reef on an electric underwater scooter. When not on the BOBs, we snorkeled, which was GREAT. Again, this was another excellent excursion. I have some amazing pictures where I was surrounded by thousands of fish. Once we finished, we did some shopping for booze and perfume. Again, I did not find the deals too great… but hey, we are on vacation and the selection was outstanding.


What about our experiences on board ship? Well this is a mixed review. :rolleyes:


The people – We used cruise critic to meet people via the roll-call for our cruise. While I thought the people were nice on the board, they were even better in person. One of the people on the board was able to secure 3 8-person table tops for dinner. The group also setup a get together prior to the “official” party. These arrangements allowed us to meet new friends quickly and become involved with events that would not have happened otherwise. For example: Three of us had aft cabins in a row and the one in the middle was the handicap cabin. We handed chairs over rail to the middle cabin and had several pre-dinner cocktail / sail away parties in various ports. We also routinely accompanied others in the group on shore excursions, at the bars and sat together at dinner. If anything made this cruise special, it was this group of people. I truly believe that we made friends that we will keep in touch with for quite sometime and they made the cruise very, very special.


The ship – The ship was amazing. It is very clean and well laid out. We never felt crowded and many of the venues had a very intimate feel about them.


The cabin – We were fortunate enough to secure an aft cabin. All I can say is WOW. We spent a good deal of time on our deck. The cabin itself was well appointed and well maintained. There was a good use of mirrors to make the cabin feel even bigger than it really was. Our cabin steward and assistant was very good and responsive, however, they fell short of my expectations for “famous” service. We took a Holland America cruise on the Noordam 11 years ago and whenever we left our cabin… we came back and the cabin was cleaned up, water / ice refilled, etc. We went through a lot of ice on the first night on the HAL cruise and on the second night forward there were two buckets of ice for us. This did not happen on the Connie. There was the morning cleaning and the evening turn down service and that was all, unless we called for something. As with our first cruise, we went through a lot of ice and the buckets they left on the Connie were routinely half melted. We had to ask for more ice everyday. There was never that proactive touch to meet the need before the request. That said, when we called… we always got what we wanted ASAP from very agreeable and pleasant people who we really enjoyed.


Main Dining – This is where I felt terribly let down by Celebrity, based on the high praise on the boards related to the excellent food and service. :( The main dining room was average at best. Don’t get me wrong, I had some excellent dishes… but I also had some average dishes and my dinner was not hot on two nights. Further the service needed some serious work. Examples: Our table was always one of the last to be served, regardless of when we all sat down. Many times other tables were finishing their desert as we were being served the main course. This made me feel uncomfortable sending a dish back, since this would almost definitely translate into an even later departure for everyone at the table. Another issue.. on several nights the waiter put the wrong dish in front of me. One night, every dish put in front of me was wrong. Despite what seems like a waiter issue, I don’t put the majority of blame on him. I put the blame of the Maitre 'd. We saw him twice. Once at the beginning of the cruise and on the last night looking for tip envelopes. Our wait staff had too many tables and could have used some assistance. What seemed odd to me was that they knew that these tables were cruise critic folks, many of which are very seasoned cruisers. (Not my wife and I.) I would have expected a little extra effort, but that just did not seem to happen. Finally, it was my understanding that live music was to be played during dinner. I only noticed this happened once, which is a shame as it was quite good and added to the ambiance.


Specialty dinning – We went to Oceanliners for dinner one night and the experience was incredible. Both the food and the service was outstanding!! :D :D :D Complete opposite experience from what was happening in the main dining room. We dined with friends and we wanted to have late seating. This was not available (lucky for us), so we eat early that night and the venue was half empty. This is the way to go. We had several conversations with the wait staff and feel that we received even better service as their load was much lighter. I would recommend requesting early seating for the best experience.


Other dining – For breakfast we usually had room service, which you can order just about anything you want. It was always very good. On a few occasions we ate in the grill for breakfast and had waffles and / or omelets, also very good. In the evening there is a Sushi bar at the aft of the ship that we also enjoyed. And you MUST go to the Cova café for warm chocolate croissants in the morning.


Bars - We went to several of the bars on the ship. This was another area where the service was inconsistent. On some venues, there was an over abundance of wait staff and getting beverages was no problem. In other venues, like the Cova Café area at night where the string quartet plays, they had one or two servers when they need much more. Also when we took our first cruise on HAL so long ago, the staff in the bars knew our name, cabin number and drink preferences after the first night. We did not see that with the staff on the Connie.


So would we do Celebrity and the Connie again? Well had you asked me that question leaving the ship that day, I would have said yes. While I would not defend the line as vigorously as some others on the board… Celebrity would definitely be a consideration for future vacations. While some of my expectations were not met, we had a great time and would do it again. That said, this opinion was influenced greatly after leaving the ship by the worst service experience I have had in a long, long, time…


Transfers to the airport - My wife and I did not book our air travel through Celebrity. As stated earlier, we arrived a day early and took a cab to the pier. Once on the boat we discovered that we could purchase a transfer to the airport once we docked. It was $20 for the two if us, about the same price as a cab. So we made the purchase. What a HUGE mistake!!! As we were loading the bus they had us place our bags with many, many others. (Way more than the people on the bus.) We asked about this as they were not loading the bags on the bus we were boarding. We were told that our luggage would be “right behind us.” Well we arrived at the airport where we joined about 100-200+ cruise passengers from both the Connie and an RCL ship. We were packed like sardines in the hot sun… baking… all waiting on our luggage so we could go to the airline counter. At 30 minutes this became quite annoying. At an over an hour anger and frustration was setting in rapidly. I spoke to friends on my cell who left customs a half hour after us, took a cab, had already checked in with the airline and had been at the gate for over 10 mins. We were still waiting!! Then a truck showed up… only one bag of ours was on that truck. Then a second truck pulled up. We were now pushing our ability to check-in our luggage our flight and it looked like we might miss it. The was a “luggage coordinator” there from RCL / Celebrity. Her name was “Nelly” and apparently her position was to hold a clip board, write on the small white board which ship the luggage truck belonged with and gab with he friends. Other than that she was useless. We asked when we could expect our luggage. She informed us that she did not know and that she had no control over the luggage trucks or any way to check on the status of the luggage delivery. She seemed a little annoyed about our and others queries on our luggage and told us that this was their process and basically we just had to live with it. Her whole attitude was uncaring and quite ambivalent. I then asked why were not informed about their process on the ship and got no reply. I finally asked for her supervisor’s name since she could not help me and their phone number. She argued with me a couple of minutes and finally gave in. By this time the second truck showed up. It was quite full and time was running out. We told them that we were about to miss our flight and she said not to worry… they would take responsibility for getting our luggage delivered to us. I think to myself, finally a little accountability and customer service. She then informs us that if this happens the luggage will be sent via UPS ground and should be to us in 3-5+ days!!! This is when my wife went off on her. (Those of you there probably remember a red head woman giving “Nelly” and crew a piece of her mind.) While this might have seemed a little abusive, I can assure you there were others there were not too far off from doing the same thing. Unfortunately we feel that Celebrity / RCL tried to make an extra buck or two on those using transfers by doing what was the most efficient for them and not what was in the best interest of their passengers. This situation was further aggravated by the fact that they staffed the “luggage coordinator” position with their least capable customer service person. Unfortunately this being the last experience we had with Celebrity colored our entire perspective of the line. Being in sales and customer service all my life, I can’t understand why a business would set themselves up to make such a poor last impression since usually the first / last impressions are all people remember!!


In closing, I want everyone to know that I feel that I have fouled sacred ground on this board by making comments and observations that contradict the many glowing reports on the Celebrity cruise line. I know some people take these comments personally, even though I am not sure why. I have seen others make negative comments and the replies to those comments are quite defensive and sometimes boarder on hostile and little ugly. (Even for minor criticisms) For those who are going to flame me… and I am sure there will be a couple.. I did not write this review to raise anyone’s dander. Quite to the contrary, I put a lot of weight into the zealous defense raised by those in this board favoring the line. Honestly, I probably put to much weight into these posts, creating unrealistic expectations for our experience. I want this post to serve as just another voice in an ongoing dialogue about the various experiences had on Celebrity, nothing more. With that I wish everyone only the best experience and may see some of you on other cruises. I would also be happy to answer any questions.

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Excellent review Patrick.Right on the mark IMHO.

Glad the review on the CC group was favorable.!! Sharing the week with all of you definetly made the cruise a lovely one.And that lovely verandah was the best part.

I totally agree with the service in the dining room. The previous cruises on Celebrity-that we took- the service was a great deal better. I thought our waiter was darling but very harried. On our last Summit cruise, the food was always organized,and hot but we also had a great chance to enjoy our wait staff. I missed that part of it especially. We really did not have that opportunity on this sailing.

Shopping: the cruiseline always recommends diamonds International. And perhaps rightfully so. But three times we bought jewelery from a small jeweler in St Thomas, he depends on return customers and word of mouth and i have always been very pleased with our purchases. Came home with two beautiful rings that we had appraised here.

Tell Kelly to send several pics of your children.

again , it was apleasure being with you both for the week- give our regards to Stephanie and Miller.


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No sacred ground trampled here. Thanks for the detailed review and telling it like it is (or was). Always good to know what was going on when someone gives a positive or negative review.


The transfer to the airport did sound like a disaster. We have avoided these transfers because we usually don't have time to wait for the bus to fill even if things go smoothly.

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Patrick, a great review! Could not have said it better myself. But actually, Al and I had transfers and we had no problem except for the crowding and heat. Al disagrees and said next time we take a cab. I hope you got the pictures we sent. Did Kelly finish the rum? Having meet you all made our vacation so much more fun! Try Princess and then let me know what you think.Thanks. Carol

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Carol... what time did you disembark? If later, then you were probably ok. We watched several buses of people arrive prior to the luggage, so if you were on the last bus... it probably was not too bad of a wait. We waited over an hour, probably closer to an hour and a half from the time we stepped off the bus to when we got our last bag. I am curious and am hoping that we just experience an anomaly. :)

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My wife and I were on Serenade of the Seas 4/16/05. Same port, same problem. We went on a bus, our bags went on a truck, about 2 hrs. later we got back together again. How did you answer the question, "have your bags been in your possession all the time"? Talk about a security problem. It was not just your cruise, we waited with many cruisers from the Constellation.

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Patrick, not sure what time it was that we disembarked but it was pretty quick and not much confusion at the airport. Our flight was 11:45AM we rode home on the same flight as Cathy and Tom. We had a problem some years back with Royal Caribbean and it was the same circumstance as you just had. Except they left our luggage sitting outside the terminal, THE WRONG TERMINAL! And we had to go looking for it. They had the wrong airline and left it sitting on the sidewalk. You think would have learned our lesson in San Juan. It seems fine in Fort Lauderdale where we have never had any kind of problem departing our ship. It was a very pleasant cruise. One thing I do want to note is I found the ship to be VERY clean. More so than any ship we have ever been on. The public restrooms were spotless and the carpets were clean also.

Some of the photo's were great that you sent. Take care and may all yours and Kelly's dreams come true. Carol

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Patrick -


Great detailed review.


I'd like to make a few comments... we had early dining in the main dining room. We saw the matre'd every night. She stopped at our table, had extensive conversations with all of us and then went to another table. our wait staff was unbelievable. You are right, it could be just the matre'd doing their job or not, but I couldn't complain at all about our staff.


Your comment about the cabin steward and the ice. Well you met my husband, we had two buckets of ice every day and we saw her at least 5 times a day.

I guess we just hit "pay dirt" with the staff that we encountered. It's a shame it's not more consistant though.


We did our transfers through the cruiseline when we booked and we were given taxi's for the transfers and we did not have any issues like you and Kelly encountered. It's a shame you both had to go thru all that.


It was really nice meeting both of you, we really enjoyed the conversations.




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Great review. You guys seem to have found the positives where those before you (including me) couldn't. We did go to Pineapple Beach Resort, but you got Pete the Treat, so I'll call it even. Don't take my comment wrong, we had a great time too.


Your transfer disaster is why I NEVER recommend cruiseline transfers unless it is a foreign port with difficult logistics (ex. leaving out of Dover, England). Our trip from the port to the airport in San Juan was a breeze and less expensive than the ship's transfers.

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