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rnewste

Just returned from Nov 20-27 Constellation S. Caribbean Cruise

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Am typing this tonight from the Westin Rio Mar hotel in Puerto Rico. As am on 24.4 Kb dial-up, will post a more detailed review when home on broadband.

 

Overall, out of our past 12 cruises on non-Celebrity Lines, this was the BEST ship, crew, food, of all our cruises. Constellation can't be beat!! Ports of call however, did not equal our Tahitian nor Hawaii cruises. While we had a great time on Eli's Eco Adventure on Antigua, and Sarah's Glory tour on Barbados - - the Caribbean can't hold a candle to Tahiti or Hawaii for friendliness of people (Aloha Spirit), climate, natural scenery, the "Wow Factor", etc.

 

Every meal on ship was excellent - especially the night we went to the Casual Dining venue (steak arrived still sizzling). BTW, we stayed at the el Convento pre-cruise, and are now at the Westin Rio Mar for 2 nights post-cruise. This facility is an excellent wind-down hotel as compared with the "busy" hotels in San Juan area.

 

I've also figured out the "meaning" of the new Constellation hull paint scheme, and what it symbolizes - - but more in a later post after returning home Nov 30.....

 

Ray

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Hi Ray:) thanks for the mini-review!!! Cannot wait to read more about your cruise....as I am going on the Constellation 2 weeks from TODAY:D

 

So glad the service and food on the ship were terrific:)

 

Waiting to read more.......!!!!

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Ray,

 

Yes, Thanks for the mini-review. I know the Caribbean isn't as great as Tahiti or Hawaii, but the plane trip is SOOO much better! No jet lag.

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I'm new to these boards and am planning to go on the TA, April 23, 2005 on the Constellation, so I'm very happy you loved being on the Connie so much !

Since we're also sailing from S Juan and want to stay one night before our cruise

could you tell me al little bit more about the Westin hotel, location etc ? thanks

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Eurodolphin I haven't stayed at the Westin but I just wanted to point out that it's not IN San Juan (although it's fairly close) and is a resort located in Rio Mar about 30 minutes from San Juan. If you are only staying one night prior in San Juan, there's lots to see right in San Juan. Which hotel you choose for the night will depend on whether or not you are looking for a beach day or sightseeing.

 

San Juan has basically three areas that most visitors choose from. The first is furthest from the airport, the last is closest (taxi rates are set):

 

Old San Juan - (cab fare from airport will run you $16 + luggage charges) old section of the city with Spanish flavor, lots of shops, restaurants, couple of small museums, old forts to explore, and night life but no beach. You can probably cover this whole area by foot if you're a good walker but it's hilly and there's a free trolley that you can use to get around as well. Hotels: Wyndham OLD San Juan (chain but can sometimes find good rates online - has rooftop pool and casino), El Convento (convent converted into a very nice hotel has several restaurants also small rooftop pool), Hotel Milano (European type budget option but in high season they sometimes insist on 2 night weekend stays). Recommend this area if you want to focus on sightseeing rather than beach.

 

Condado - ( cab fare from airport $12 +) residential (but mostly big apartment/condo buildings) and tourist area. Again lots of shopping, restaurants, nightlife but no real tourist "sights". Good selection of hotels from expensive to moderate. The larger hotels have restaurants, pools, casinos, and beaches but imo the beach in this area isn't as nice as in Isla Verde (next section). I think the best hotel here is the Marriott; the Wyndham Condado Plaza is ok too. There are some more moderate hotels but I haven't heard enough about any one in particular to recommend one.

 

Isla Verde - (cab fare from airport $8 +) residential and tourist area with fewer hotels, restaurants and shopping but the best beach. There are a couple of good restaurants outside the hotel (recommended: Metropol) but mostly they are in the hotels and expensive. Two very good resort hotels right next door to each other: Intercontinental and Wyndham EL San Juan and there's also a Ritz Carlton further down in the direction of the airport. The Wyndham El San Juan is famous for its gorgeous lobby area (worth a visit if you are in this neighborhood even if you don't stay here) and has several very good restaurants. All three have nice pool areas and the Interconti and El San Juan are on the best part of a long beach. Recommend this area if you plan to spend your day by the pool or on the beach.

 

There's also another residential area called Ocean Park adjacent to Condado with some small B&B type hotels but for one night I wouldn't stay in that area. There is also the Caribe Hilton which is in another area by itself between Old San Juan and Condado. The hotel has its own private beach and a bunch of restaurants, but if you stay here without a car you aren't really very close to anything else.

 

In terms of being close to the Pan American pier, none of the three areas is walking distance UNLESS Celebrity is using the Old San Juan pier...which is usually not the case for departures from San Juan. Condado is probably closest to the Pan American pier but you'd still need to cab it.

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Agree 100% with joeb re: location of Puerto Rico Hotels. We stayed on arrival night at the el Convento Hotel in Old San Juan. Great location to wander over on foot to El Morro, or San Christobal fortresses.

 

If you have 2 nights in your schedule post-cruise, I would highly recommend the Westin Rio Mar. Several of the San Juan hotels seem like staying in downtown Miami, while the Westin is out in the wilderness (you really need a rental car).

 

Really having "withdrawl pains" from the Constellation food! Well above our previous Holland America, NCL, and Princess meals. I am now a confirmed convert to Celebrity (assuming I can get a reasonable fare for future cruises).

 

Ray

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We were on the same cruise as Ray. We agree with Ray, Costellation's food and service is hard to beat.:)

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Regarding San Juan hotels, last year stayed the day before our crusie at the Ritz Carlton. stay away from it, expensive and really not up to normal Ritz standards. Pool side crowded with exorbitantly priced drinks.Also, when staying on a Friday night for just the one night they know you are getting on a boat the next day so you will get a horrible room. Ours was dirty, worn and over looked the parking lot. Not a good experience!

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My family just stayed at the Ritz on Friday November 19, 2004.

 

Yes the rooms are expensive but did not get a bad room. I booked the cheapest room available and got one overlooking the pool area. Room was clean and very nice.

 

We swam at the pool on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Drinks were expensive (but thats the Ritz). Pool was not all that crowded and had no problem getting four lounges together. Pool attendents were there to give us towels and make up the lounges with three towels apiece.

 

Food was excellent and the kids went to the kids program on Friday night and loved it.

 

I have stayed at both the Ritz and the El San Juan. I would have no problem staying at either of them again.

 

Having stayed at many Ritz Carltons around the US, I would say that the one in San Juan is just as good as any of them.

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thanks everyone for your opinions of the San Juan hotels, sure helps alot to find out what everyone's experiences were.

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We have stayed at Ritz Carletons all over the us and overseas. This hotel was NOT up to the usual Ritz standards. There are better options for less money, especially if just for a night prior to a cruise. Regarding the comment about the drinks by the pool, the pricing was outrageous not just usual ritz expensive!

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