Here, finally, is Part 1 of the review I have been promising you since I got back over a week ago! It takes time to load all those pictures!
Celebrity Constellation, Part 1 13 Day Southern Caribbean, Nov. 9-22/09
Sunday, Nov. 8 and Monday, Nov. 9
Once again, we flew into the port city, Miami, a day early to acclimatize ourselves before the cruise, and also to meet up with the group that we were sailing with this time, cruisers from another cruising website.
We were all staying in the same hotel, and had planned a dinner out at a restaurant to get to know each other.
The evening was fun, it was a loud and rowdy sports bar, but the food was good and it was great to get to know everybody.
The next morning we all met in the lobby and piled into 2 shuttle buses that took us to the port, arriving about 11:30 a.m.
The embarkation line-ups were separated into Decks / Concierge Class / Elite. Our Concierge line was very slow, in fact all the regular Deck lines passed through quickly while our "priority" boarding took almost an hour.
Finally, we entered the beautiful Constellation, with it's classy and understated elegance apparent immediately. No Carnival gawdiness here!
We were met by white-gloved staff proffering glasses of champagne, and were guided towards the elevators in the direction of our cabin.
Our Concierge Class cabin was situated on Sky Deck 9, between mid-ship and aft, port side. When we arrived, it was ready, clean, bright, nicely appointed, and we had champagne on ice and a tote bag, courtesy of the group booking, as well as beautifully decorated fruit bowl and other amenities included with Concierge class.
The room itself was a bit small and difficult to navigate, however there was plenty of storage space in the closet, cabinets, wall space and under the bed, as well as a nice seating area, and vanity/bar.
The bathroom was one of the tiniest we've seen in our cruising career, as was the balcony, which barely held 2 straight backed chairs and an oversized table.
We met our room steward Michael, a pleasant young Filipino, and made our usual request to keep the ice bucket full at all times.
Now I hate to interrupt this Part 1 before it's finished, but I have discovered under the new rules, that I am only permitted to post 10 photos at a time, and apparently I had 23, so now I've reached my limit, I will have to end here and continue the rest in Part 2. Sorry about that....
It's still Day 1, but Part 2 so I can load more pictures....
After checking out our cabin, we headed upstairs one deck to the Seaside Cafe for some lunch. The choices were varied and many, and everything we tried was delicious, including several delectable desserts!
In order to walk off those desserts, we then wandered the ship outdoors, familiarizing ourselves with the various areas, particularly the main pool.
There were 2 pools, and 4 hot tubs in this area on Deck 10 mid-ships, with another pool and 2 more hot tubs in the Aqua Spa, forward.
The Aqua Spa was a covered, temperature controlled area, and the pool was a Thallasotherapy pool filled with very warm water, with an area of massaging rollers to relax all those tired travelling muscles. It was a very attractive area, with it's live tropical plants, and beautiful teak lounge chairs, but although some chairs were covered with cushions, the majority were not, and we found out later in the week just how uncomfortable they could be!
We continued our explorations aft, where we found the outdoor play area for the Celebrity Childrens' program, as well as a great view of the Carnival Imagination's new Water Works water park, visible from the back of our ship.
By then we figured our luggage had arrived, so we went back to our cabin to unpack, and then it was time for the dreaded Muster Drill!
We were not required to drag or wear our life vests on this ship, but were to meet in a common area, in our case, one of the lounges, while the usual recorded messages were played and live demonstrations were performed. This was the first time we were to realize how many German tourists were on this cruise with us - all announcements during the cruise were made first in English, followed by a German translation.
Unfortunately, even after the announcements and the demonstrations, we were still required to go out on deck to our muster stations, and were lined up in sardine rows in the heat while more English/German announcements were made.
Finally it was over, and we were free to attend our pre-scheduled "meet and greet" cocktail party with our cruising group.
This was where we had our first problem navigating the ship. Our itinerary said "Reflections" disco, and our little handout map also said Reflections disco, Deck 11, forward, but when we got there, there was no "Reflections" disco, just a really weird looking lounge called "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth". It certainly was, it looked like something of a cross between Lord of the Rings and the Michael Jackson Thriller video!
I think this is what it must have looked like before it got all draped and "mummified":
Turns out that "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth" was formerly known as "Reflections", but was "made-over" to accomodate the Cirque de Soleil show that was on the Constellation for some time, but apparently didn't do so well, so all that was left was the very strange decor.
Again, my limit of 10 photos is up, so I will continue Day 1 in Part 3...
Our little group of about 14 were the only ones in there, and we had a little cocktail party of our own to celebrate our sailaway from Miami.
I have no idea if there was any other sailaway party on deck, the kind I like, with live music and dancing and contests, but from what I saw on the ship video the rest of the week, I don't think so. Just people smiling and waving with their drink-of-the-day, which is pretty much what we were doing anyway!
We had to cut our party short in order to get ready for our 6 p.m. dinner. The early seating was not our 1st choice, but it's what we got, so we thought we'd try it and see.
The San Marco dining Room, the only dining room on the Constellation, was a large, airy, and tastefully decorated room that just said "class".
We were seated about one table away from the Captain's table, near the huge floor-to-ceiling windows aft, and our tablemates were 2 other couples from our cruising group.
We had a pleasant and efficient waiter who was always smiling and couldn't do enough for you, and the service and the food lived up to Celebrity's reputation for both.
Our first dinner was wonderful; from the French Onion Soup, to the Caesar Salad, the Marinated Chicken Breast, and the Creme Brule for dessert, everything was spectacular. I had a sinking feeling that this was the first cruise that I was going to gain weight on!
After dinner we wandered the public areas of the ship, many of which were empty or near empty. Bars and lounges, even the casino were quiet and under-used, and the Photo Gallery was deserted, which is a first on any ship I've been on! We noticed throughout the cruise how few people were ever in the Photo Gallery, even though it was probably the largest and most accomodating of Photo Galleries we'd ever seen.
The Rendez-Vous Lounge
The Martini Bar
The Fortunes Casino
We ended up in the Celebrity Theatre for the Welcome Aboard show, hosted by our Cruise Director Josh Riffe. I recognized Josh from a cruise our family had done on the Carnival Valor about 4 years ago, when he had graciously posed for my camera with my daycare "friend" Flat Stanlyette!
The show itself just briefly gave us a sample of what entertainment was in store for the cruise; a wonderful acapella group called the Voice Males, an "ardage duo" who performed circus-like dance art, and the very talented Celebrity singers and dancers, who I was relieved to see could really sing and dance.
By the time the show was over, we were ready for bed, no late-night disco-hopping for us!
A very nice first day onboard, and looking forward to 12 more!
Celebrity Constellation, Part 4
Day 2, Tues. Nov. 10, Sea Day
Our first day at sea was a pleasant one. The weather was picture-perfect, and I was glad to have a sea day to relax in the sun.
First though, we went to morning Trivia, held every morning at 9:30 in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth. It was never well-attended, but the small groups who showed up regularly took their Trivia very seriously!
Following Trivia, we had a pre-scheduled meeting with our cruise group, for a group photo as well as a gift-exchange.
It had been my suggestion that we all bring something from our hometown, a small souvenir of some kind.
Everyone showed up with little bags of thoughtful gifts; postcards, keychains, fridge magnets, drink holders, shot glasses, some even threw in pamphlets of tourist attractions in their hometowns. It was a nice way to share a little about ourselves and to get to know each other.
We all posed for a group photo, including the mascot bear.
Even though all of us were wearing the same group T-shirts, one other cruiser and myself were actually dressed identically in jean shorts and sandals and we looked like twins. We even swapped sandals for a photo!
It was now time to "hit the deck" and find a spot to lay in the sun. Well, that proved more difficult than we'd imagined.
I had always read on these boards about how hard it is to find deck chairs on cruise ships, and about chair hogs who leave towels on chairs for hours and hours, but I had honestly never encountered any problems finding a chair - until now.
This ship was packed. We wandered every square inch of Deck 10 and Deck 11 from forward to aft and there was not a chair to be had.
We finally gave up and decided to go in for lunch.
Lunch on this sea day was a special brunch held from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. in the San Marco dining room.
The atmosphere was very formal, with tablecloths and beautifully laid tables, and the buffet style brunch had many offerings. The highlight for me was the chocolate fondue fountain which I discovered while trying out some delectable pastries for dessert.
I must admit I went a little crazy dipping strawberries, bananas, grapes and chunks of pineapple into that cascading fountain of milky chocolate!
After lunch, we went to Cinema 3, a small cinema on Deck 3 where movies are shown daily, and the site of Name That Tune Trivia.
This is where we first met activity staff Carl, who was a highlight of this cruise for me. Young, energetic, polite, friendly and so funny, he was a great Trivia host, and quite obviously enjoyed his job.
On this particular day it was 50's Name That Tune Trivia, and it was great fun guessing the songs, and singing along. We almost won too!
Following Trivia, we decided to try our luck with the deck chairs once again.
After wandering futilely all around Decks 10 and 11, we finally found a slightly hidden stairway to Deck 12, which turned out to be a topless deck, and it too was full. Off in the corner were 2 lonely chairs which we grabbed, only to discover they were broken with missing vinyl strips or the back wouldn't go up. However, since they were all we could find, we settled down and took in a little sun. Unfortunately, it was a very long walk down 2 flights of stairs and halfway across the ship if one wanted to go to the bathroom, the bar or in the pool!
It was a short afternoon however, since with our 6:00 dining time we had to go in early to get ready for our first formal night.
It was a truly formal evening on Celebrity, I didn't see anyone "underdressed" and even the waiters were decked out in their best.
On this evening, we saw the Captain and his guests at the head table just a table away from us.
We had our tablemates take our photo, as dressing up is a rather rare occasion for us!
Dinner was once again fabulous! I had Rack of Lamb, James had Chateaubriand, and both were wonderful.
The Constellation chefs, and in particular, their pastry chefs, deserve kudos for their efforts!
Our after dinner entertainment this evening in the Celebrity Theatre, consisted of "Showtime", a Broadway medley by the Constellation singers and dancers.
It was a very good show musically, and the costumes were great, but I'm just not a big fan of broadway musicals.
Following the show, we went to the Bar at the Edge of the Earth for a late night performance by the Voice Males, the acapella group who kept us entertained throughout the cruise with their wonderful renditions of old harmonized classics, their choreography and their slapstick humour.
You can check them out on YouTube:
Celebrity Constellation, Part 5
Day 3 Wed. Nov. 11 Sea Day
Ahhh, another sea day. I love having 2 sea days at the beginning of a cruise, gives me a chance to really relax and unwind before having to get up early and be off the ship for a tour in port.
As this was Nov. 11, known as Remeberance Day in Canada, we were pleased to see many Canadians onboard sporting red poppies, ourselves included. At breakfast, and at morning Trivia, we could pick out the Canadians as we nodded at each others' poppies and gave each other the thumbs up sign.
I noticed in the daily schedule, there was a Veteran's get-together with the Cruise Director at 11:00 in the Martini Bar, to honour all veterans onboard.
After morning Trivia, which we won after a 3-way tie breaking question, we spent another fruitless morning wandering around on the pool decks, trying to find chairs. James finally found one in the shade, and I opted to just sit by the pool, when I wasn't in the pool. As he couldn't go in the water because of his cast, I had to make up for it by being in the water twice as much. Ah, the sacrifices we make....
Lunch in the Seaside Cafe was once again, wonderful. There were so many different choices and everything I tried was good, in particular, the desserts. Today I had "churros", a sort of cinnamon-y rolled pastry, dipped in whipped cream and they were decadent!
After lunch I went to Trivia again, this one was 80's Name That Tune, and poor Carl had nothing but technical difficulties with his CD player.
There were long delays while someone came to fix the system, but Carl handled the situation with professionalism and good humour, keeping us entertained with stories about the Constellation. When we finally got to play, I did surprisingly well, as I didn't think I knew the 80's that well!
Everyone got prizes; pens, keychains, candies or Bingo cards, as a thank-you for being so patient during the delay.
James had opted to attend the Captain's Club Celebration, an oddly-timed cocktail party at 1:15 in the afternoon, for repeat passengers.
He reported later that it was the best return passenger party he's ever been to, with free cocktails, h'or d'oeuvres, and a chance to meet and have your picture taken with the captain, as well as meet and speak to other officers and members of the crew. He was quite impressed.
During the afternoon of this glorious-weather sea day, I managed to find a deck chair and enjoyed the pool band Sipra, while in and out of the pool.
Sipra was one of the better house bands I've heard on cruise ships, and besides their pool gig, they also entertained nightly in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth.
That evening at dinner I was feeling too full to eat. I had eaten a cheeseburger at the poolside grill around 3 p.m. and was just not ready for a big dinner at 6:00. We were both finding it hard to eat at the early seating.
After dinner, we decided to go check out pianist/entertainer Perry Grant in Michael's Club, as we had heard from several people that "you have to see this guy!"
Michael's room is much more like someone's living room than an entertainment venue. It has comfortable couches and chairs, a huge fireplace mantle and incidental tables covered with autographed photos of many Hollywood and musical stars posing with Perry Grant.
Perry himself is quite the star. With his peroxide-blonde hair, sparkly suit and wide-eyed smiling demeanor, he put me in mind of another great piano entertainer - Liberace. He certainly had a way with his audience, carrying on friendly conversations between numbers, inviting people up to turn on and off his revolving disco ball, and seemingly getting to know everyone. He performed the classics, from the Crooners to Judy Garland, something for the older crowd on Celebrity to enjoy. The show was enjoyable, and Michael's Club was packed to the door every night of the cruise.
I found a little video of Perry performing on the Constellation, just to give you an idea of his talent, energy, audience rapport and the ambiance of Michael's Room:
The main show that evening in the Celebrity Theatre starred Broadway singer Shauna Hicks, and since she was doing a rendition of Broadway show tunes, which we don't really care for, we opted to skip that show.
Once again, we wandered around the ship to see what else was happening and the answer was "very little". Most evenings seemed dead quiet, with nobody around, and the only action was in the casino. This was one of the few disappointments we had with Celebrity, the Constellation just lacked personality and a sense of fun.
As I have mentioned, we were on her in March/April of this year. We never had an issue with lounge chairs. Probably because we were out early (7 -7:30AM). We have a favorite spot, and that is just outside the spa area, under the upper deck, behind the little enclosure that you get towels and spa stuff at. We were able to sit there every day, even port days.
Hopefully you tried the thalossotherapy pool, as well as the AquaSPa Cafe, located just behind the T-pool.
The a capella group on our cruise was called Metro PArk, and it looks like thier contract was not renewed. We enjoyed them.
Perry Grant is our all time favorite entertainer thus far. We just enjoyed his risque banter and really liked his songs. We enjoy him as I recall you and James enjoyed the one singer on Princess, whose name escapes me.
Did you folks try the Casual Dining area in the rear of the ship? I seem to recall you said you did. Do you recall the menu? Did it still have curried (yeach !) lamb on it?
Funny you should mention that 14 days seemd to long. Mrs. S and I had the very same feeling when we got off Infinity after the 14 day Canal transit. We feel 10 or 11 days is the best.
At any rate, thanks again...I can't wait to read the next ones !
Celebrity Constellation, Part 6, Day 4
Thursday November 12, St. Thomas
We were up early on this morning as we had a tour booked. We had ordered a room service breakfast the night before, and it arrived right on time, and was served on our tiny balcony. The food was good, and so was the champagne!
Just before disembarking, the skies opened up and it poured heavily. It was still raining when we left the ship, but one of the perks of Concierge Class is that you get umbrellas in your cabin, so we put them to good use.
Fortunately, the rain didn't last too long, but it did remain cloudy most of the day in St. Thomas.
We had booked online with Sunny Liston Tours, to go to Coki Beach. As we were not a group, Sunny had his wife pick us up in their personal car, a Toyota Prius Hybrid, and we enjoyed a lovely chat with her on the 40 minute ride to the beach.
The beach was beautiful, the water warm and calm, and there were helpful accomodating staff on the beach, including not-too-pushy vendors.
The staff were more than happy to bring you a drink or a meal, and of course we had to have the St. Thomas specialty, Bushwackers!
Despite it being overcast, and a little sprinkly, I spent most of the time in the water, and it was a great spot for snorkeling.
Even though I didn't have a snorkel, I saw so many fish, especially when I used a package of breakfast cereal I had taken with me from breakfast.
Some people had dog biscuits as well, and we were amazed at being surrounded by beautiful colourful fish.
I could have rented snorkel equipment, but I really didn't need it. Chair rental was $5 and an umbrella was $10.
Because of his cast, James had to make do with a lounge chair on the beach and couldn't go swimming, but he was happy enough just to be by the sea.
Right next to this spot was Coral World, an underwater observation centre, which we didn't visit.
After our relaxing time on the beach, we were picked up on time by Sunny Liston himself, and were back at the ship by 3p.m.
There were seats available in the pool area as it was a port day, so I spent about 2 hours out by the pool , relaxing in the sun that finally shone through the clouds.
Dinner at 6:00, there were only 4 of us, as one couple was tired after their all day excursion and wanted to eat casual in the Seaside Cafe.
Our meal was wonderful once again, I had turkey parmagianna, and the desserts, as always, were to die for.
After dinner we went for a lovely stroll outdoors in the warm evening air, before going to see the evening's entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre.
Tonight's featured artist was Hyperion Knight (yes, that is his real name!), a virtuoso concert pianist who not only entertained, but educated the audience as well with his fascinating stories of the history and the personal lives of the classical composers he was playing. Great show!
After the show we wandered up to the Seaside Cafe for a late snack, and discovered, tucked in a deserted corner of the Grill, a Filipino guitarist named Eugene, who seemed to be channeling the voice of James Taylor, during an enjoyable set of James Taylor's songs.
We sat and enjoyed his performance, with very few other people.
Shame, because he was very talented, just not featured enough for people to discover him. We made a point of looking for him the rest of the cruise, as his "performances" were listed in the daily itinerary.
It was time to say goodnight once again, and off to St. Maarten tomorrow.....
Celebrity Constellation, Part 7
Day 5 Friday, November 13, St. Maarten
We started our day off with an early morning visit to the ship's infirmary.
James' cast had been causing a lot of peeling skin problems on his fingers, which he was keeping bandaged due to sensitivity.
The doctor prescribed some cortisteroid cream, and we were in an out of there in less than 15 minutes, with a bill for $130.
By 10:00 a.m. we disembarked in St. Maarten, walked to the pier and took the water taxi ($6pp) for a ride across to the beach in Philipsburg.
It was extremely hot and humid and the beach was very busy, but we were greeted by locals who offered us 2 chairs, an umbrella, and a bucket of 5 drinks (beer, soda or water) for $20.
We had a nice spot with a view of the ship, but the beach and shopping area nearby were very busy and noisy.
The beach itself was pebbly and full of bits of broken shells; this was one time I wished I had brought my water shoes, as it was very uncomfortable walking into the water from my chair.
I did spend most of my time here in the water as it was just so hot. Poor James had to sweat it out under the umbrella, but he did venture into the water for a photo.
Due to the heat, we headed back to the ship about 2:00, showered, changed and had a light lunch. We returned to the pier at 4:00 as we had arranged to meet our Cruise group for Margaritas at our favourite spot in St. Maarten, Happy Hours.
Not a single member of the group showed up, so we sat under an umbrella people watching and enjoying another couple of Bushwackers, before heading back to the ship.
On this afternoon, we had time for a late afternoon nap, as we had gone to the dining room at breakfast and asked the Maitre 'D if he could possibly change our dining time. We had been finding the early seating just too difficult, and the Maitre 'D was very accomodating and found us a table for 2 for the late seating dinner at 8:30. This was much more to our liking.
Dinner, as usual, was excellent. James had Cream of Broccoli soup and delicious and tender Short Ribs, while I had Chicken Spring Rolls with Thai Chili Sauce, and Turkey Mozarella Meatballs.
As much as we enjoyed our meal, dessert was even better; a pastry cigar filled with dulce de leche, and chocolate blueberry cake. Both were scrumptious!
Once again, after dinner we found that entertainment was lacking, and we ended up back in our cabin watching a movie.
There was a "Latin Sizzle Party" poolside outdoors at 11:30, but as we're not that fond of Latin music, we just didn't feel like going.
We decided instead to get a good night's rest and be ready for our day tomorrow in Antigua......
Celebrity Constellation, Part 8
Day 6, Saturday, November 14, Antigua
P & O's Ventura, in Antigua
Saturday dawned hot and humid in the beautiful island of Antigua. We were off the ship before 9:00 a.m. to meet up with our cruise group; there were 14 of us who had booked an island tour together,
From the pier, we walked a long way to the meeting place, where we waited a good half hour in the stifling heat for our tour bus to show up.
When it did, the driver realized he's need 2 buses to accomodate us all and we waited again.
While I waited I took a picture of this pirate ship in the harbour and wished I'd gone on a sailing trip instead....
Finally, we boarded the 2 buses, which although air conditioned, did not feel like it at all, especially for me, way in the back.
We spent 20 minutes just sitting in heavy traffic to go about 2 blocks, where the driver parked and let us out.
He then led us through busy traffic across the street and into a sweltering farmers' market.
There were some small shops, but he didn't linger long enough to let us look, instead, he led us into a huge, airless marketplace full of fruits and vegetables, and judging by the smell, many of them rotting.
The market was crammed with people, you could hardly move, and there was some crazed religious fanatic outside in the street, shouting prophets into a megaphone. We couldn't hear a word out tour guide was saying. Not a pleasant experience.
We were then herded out of the market, and told to wait in a little town square while the driver went back to fetch the bus.
In this square was a huge statue, and we all took photos. I later learned that this was V.C. Bird, known as the "father of the nation", leading Antigua and Barbuda into independence in 1981.
The wait for the bus was getting long; I was really suffering from the oppressive heat, and I was having trouble breathing.
Tired of waiting, and not impressed with the tour so far, we excused ourselves from the group and decided to walk back to the ship (we could see it from where we stood).
We walked back faster than we had come by bus, and were soon recovering in air conditioned comfort.
With this being a port day, we discovered there were lots of deck chairs available, so we claimed one in the shade and one in the sun, and James spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, and me, in and out of the pool.
It was unfortunate that we did not see much of Antigua on this trip, but the tour was really not for us, and I much preferred relaxing by the pool on this very hot day.
P & O's Ventura in Antigua
It was nice on this evening, not to have to rush for dinner at 6:00, but took our time and relaxed until 8:30.
Once again, the meal was great, but we felt the service was a bit rushed. Maybe it was because of our location, right next to the serving station, where a multitude of waiters rushed in and out, criss-crossing each other - I was just waiting for a collision!
Showtime tonight, pianist Hyperion Knight, was not as enjoyable as two nights ago. His stories and performances of Chopin and Rochmononov were not as palatable to the masses as his material from the previous show. There was also a performance by singer Shauna Hicks, who sang some classics beautifully.
We attended the Late Show, the Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed Game show, hosted by Allejandro, the Manager of Entertainment.
He did not do a very good job as host, he was erratic, repetitive, and often rude, just not a good host, and the show consequently was not as good as it could have been. Interestingly, the questions used in the game were identical to the ones we saw used on Princess earlier this year.
We regretted staying up late for this disappointing show, and headed off to our cabin to rest up for our day in St. Lucia tomorrow......
Celebrity Constellation, Part 9
Day 7, Sunday November 15, St Lucia
After yesterday's aborted tour, and because the heat in St. Lucia was also intense, we decided to cancel our planned tour with the group.
We were sorry to miss visiting and touring the lovely island of St. Lucia, as we had enjoyed seeing the sights of the island on a previous visit, but somehow, yesterday's experience kind of soured us on taking tours we had no part in planning.
We did however, get off the ship for a short visit to the pier shopping area, where it was unbearably hot, and made worse by the fact that there was a major power failure in the area, and none of the shops had lights or air conditioning. This also meant that shoppers could not use debit cards, it was cash sales only, so I wasn't even able to do any shopping.
We decided to return to the ship.
Not many people stayed onboard, so we enjoyed another relaxing day with our choice of deck chairs, and I spent a lot of time in and out of the pool.
My only complaint here was the piped in "muzak" which was quite loud, annoying and repetitive, it seemed like the same 4 songs over and over.
We tried moving away from the big speakers, but over on the side of the ship there was other muzak piped in so we were subjected to two different types of music competing for our ears. Why can't the cruise lines just shut everything off and let people enjoy the peace and quiet of a relaxing day by the pool?
This fellow by the way, is just one of many unusual statues and objets d'art that can be found in and around the Constellation. Why a gorilla carrying a fish on the pool deck, I don't know.....
Other than being lazy by the pool, and reading one of the 4 books I managed to read this cruise, I did little else except play morning and afternoon Trivia. These were the highlights of each day for me, as the entertainment hosts were always so much fun, and so were the people who played Trivia every day.
Dinner this evening was great; James had Ahi Tuna Steak which he enjoyed, and I had Chicken Alfredo which was excellent.
Dessert was also amazing, no complaints here, but we found the service could have used a little tweaking.
Unfortunately, we had another unsatisfying evening of entertainment. The main theatre show was entitled "Rhythm of the Night", a Latin style song and dance show, and we managed to stay for about 15 minutes of it, and really didn't enjoy it, so we left and went to bed.
Not a very exciting day, but a relaxing one. It was nights like this however that we began to think that 13 days was going to be too long for us on a cruise, and that Celebrity's entertainment left much to be desired.....
Celebrity Constellation, Part 10 Day 8, Monday November 16, Barbados
My first thought on this day was that it was my sister's birthday, and I wished she could be here in Barbados with us to celebrate.
She and I have decided, come hell or high water, that next year on her birthday, her 50th, that we will be celebrating on a cruise!
We had not booked a shore excursion in Barbados, but decided instead to just take a taxi and go the beach for the day.
It's quite a walk from the dock, through the shopping terminal, and out to the taxi area. We stopped at Visitor's Information and asked about taxis and they assured us taxis (mini-vans) were $3 per person, very reasonable.
Just outside the terminal area we were accosted by various dispatchers of a multitude of taxis lined up.
We told one we wanted to go to Malibu Beach and were directed to one half-full van.
The driver of the van demanded $4 per person, despite the fact we had been told inside that it was $3, and despite the signs posted at the entreance that it was $3. James argued with the driver, not because it was a big difference, just on the principle of feeling ripped off.
It did no good, and anxious to get to the beach, we got in anyway, and the driver closed the door and walked away.
We were 10 people in a 12-person van, and the driver wouldn't depart until he found 2 more people to make a full load.
There was no air-conditioning, and we were crowded, hot, and people were getting impatient, angry, and dangerously over-heated; it was hard to breathe.
There we sat, for 10 or 15 minutes, waiting, until everyone revolted; someone forced open the door and we all got out, gasping for air, and stalked away.
The driver lost 10 fares due to his arrogance, greediness and inconsideration, and we were left with a sour taste of Barbados.
We were so angry and overheated, we decided that rather than chance another bus, we'd just go back to the ship.
We realized later that we should have walked past the the main taxi area, and out the "Exit" archway, and found a taxi on our own as we had done the last time. The cattle-herding that goes on at the main area is ridiculous.
Back in the terminal/shopping area, it was not comfortable to shop because there was no air conditioning there either, except inside a few shops.
The outdoor kiosks were tiny, dark and also not air conditioned, so also not conducive to lingering over purchases.
After very little shopping, we headed back to the ship.
One thing we liked in Barbados were the other ships we saw in port. Across from us there was a German ship called Mein Schiff, and we could tell that it was previously owned by Celebrity, because you could still see the mark of the Celebrity "X" on the smokestack under the ship's new logo which looked like a winking smiley face
There was also the beautiful 5-mast sailing cruise ship Club Med 2 which looked very inviting. I sure would like to try that one some day!
We also saw a submarine in dock behind the German ship,and I heard someone say it was from Holland.
We both enjoy seeing other cruise ships in port and often will choose our next cruise based on a certain ship we saw in a port.
After photographing the other ships, we returned to our ship, greeted at the gangway with ice cold refreshing towels, a really nice touch from Celebrity. These towels were also handed out poolside, as well as little paper cups with iced sorbet or fresh fruit.
Just an example of Celebrity's attention to details in their service.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the near-deserted pool area, with our choice of seats, and every time I went in for a dip, I was alone in the pool!
At 10:30 p.m. there was an "Island Night Celebration" poolside, with live Island music from the band Sipra, a beautiful buffet with fresh fruits and ice sculptures, and dancing led by the entertainment staff.
While taking photos, I caught CD Josh Riffe sneaking a snack at the not-yet-open buffet!
We did attend the party, but found it lacking somehow in energy and participation.
A lot of people were just sitting and watching, or up on the upper level looking down, there was very little participation, and the staff didn't seem to be able to generate any enthusiasm for things like a conga line, or a limbo contest that went on way too long.
We left before it was over, and stopped in to see guitaritist Eugene in the Seaside Cafe before heading off to bed.
It's too bad you got a bad taste of Barbados,we had a wonderful time there.We had a private excursion and went all over, and, thought the locals were wonderful....too bad you met one who wasn't at the start of your day there....
Oh,I loved your purple necklace and earrings...matches your outfit perfectly
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Celebrity Constellation, Part 11
Day 9 and 10, November 17 & 18, Sea Day and Aruba
The Tuesday of our 2nd week onboard the Constellation was a sea day, enjoyed much like any other sea day, relaxing by the pool.
For some reason, lapse of memory perhaps, I have no notes written for that day, other than our evening visit to Constellation's specialty restaurant, Ocean Liners.
Ocean Liners is a beautiful and classy restaurant, reminiscent of the early days of ocean liners (as opposed to cruise ships).
As you enter there is a display of old china and silverware from classic liners, and the restaurant itself is decorated with paintings of many of those liners.
There is a separate room, actually, the wine room, with wall to wall, floor to ceiling wine racks, and one large, beautifully set table. I'd imagine that this is reserved for the Captain, or other V.I.P.s.
The main dining area is spacious, warmly carpeted, and comfortably appointed with tables and chairs. On this evening, we had booked as a group, about 12 of us, and unfortunately, we were divided up into 3 tables of 4. We didn't get to share any conversation with the most part of the group, but we did very much enjoy our tablemates, Joey and David.
The service in Ocean Liners was more than attentive, the staff couldn't do enough for you. Our meals were served "butterfly style", with a flourish of lifting the warming covers off all at the same time.
The meal itself was spectacular, from the amuse-bouche, to the appetizers, to the entrees, which for us were filet mignons and/or lobster done to perfection.
Everything went smoothly, like a well-oiled machine; the arrival of bread, the re-filling of wine, the arrival of our meals simultaneously, and the offering of desserts, which were out of this world!
James had the "sampling"; 6 little parfait glasses with a sample of different tasty desserts. I had a fine crepe with flambeed berries served with whipped cream, and our tablemates ordered delicious chocolate souffle.
We were very impressed with the food, the presentation, the exemplary service, and fully enjoyed the spirited conversation with our tablemates.
It was one of the best experiences with a specialty restaurant in many a cruise, and one we vowed to repeat before the cruise was over.
Day 10, Wednesday November 18, Aruba
This was our first ever visit to Aruba, and we had pre-booked a shore excursion to see the island, but received notice onboard the day before, that it had been canceled due to "lack of participation".
We'd immediately gone to the shore excursion desk and booked another one, called the "Fun Sail and Beach Tour", and I'm so glad we did, because it was one excursion I would highly recommend.
As we disembarked in Oranjestad, a short walk away was a large, cool, open and airy shopping plaza, a very pleasant place to shop for crafts and souvenirs while waiting for shore tours.
The tours themselves were well organized and groups divided and sent on their way with tour guides in very little time.
Outside, we boarded the Pelican Adventure, a catamaran with a fun, friendly crew and an open bar.
We set sail for 45 minutes along the pretty coastline of Aruba, filled with white sand beaches and modern hotels.
As I tend be sensitive to motion sickness, sitting in the front is always a good idea, so I made my way onto the "trampoline" netting at the very front of the catamaran, and sat riding the waves with a wonderful view!
We arrived at Palm Beach, a beautiful spot, and chairs and thatched umbrellas were supplied at no extra charge. The crew from the catamaran served us free drinks right on the beach, talk about being spoiled!
The beach itself was lovely, clean white sand, and the water was warm and calm. I was surprised to see the beach being patrolled by Aruba Police on ATVs, apparently to keep vendors from pestering the tourists.
It was a very pleasant and relaxing hour and a half stay, I only wished it could have been longer. On the return journey I once again laid on the "hammock" up front, but this time we were heading into the wind and the waves, and it was a wild ride up and down and getting splashed. I was having too much fun to even think about being seasick!
Free drinks, including their specialty "Aruba Areeba" and great dance music made it a fun trip back, and we were sorry for the excursion to come to an end.
The afternoon was spent poolside, where there was plenty of room as it was a port day, and once again we had to tolerate the loud repetitive piped-in muzak.
The one thing we did enjoy was our sail away from Aruba, it was such a pretty, colourful island and we hope to be back again someday.
I made a note that this evening's dinner was very good, with choices of Honey-Crusted Chicken with Pecans, and Sirloin Steak, and a delicious Chocolate Chiffon Pie for dessert. Again, outstanding food on Constellation.
The evening's entertainment in the Celebrity Theatre was comedian Noodles Levenstein, who was good, but disappointing because the audience turn-out was very poor. It can't be easy to make people laugh when there are less than 20 people in the whole theatre.
This was a recurring problem onboard Constellation; we always arrived early to make sure we got seats to see a show, yet the theatre was always more than half empty, sometimes even less . I'm not sure if this was due to the poor quality of entertainment or because so many people were repeat passengers and they'd already seen all the shows.
Following Noodles Levenstein, there was a Late Show "Starring You", essentially an awards ceremony to recognize passengers who participated in and "starred" at such activities as Trivia, Line Dancing, and Karaoke.
We found the presentation very amateur and a bit cheesy, a desperate attempt to "entertain" by using passengers.
The ceremony was followed by an "after-party" in the Bar at the Edge of the World, where there was live entertainment by the band Sipra, and a late-night Chocolate Buffet, which offered a multitude of sinfully delicious choices.
Happily overdosed on chocolate, we headed off to bed, ready for our day tomorrow in Curacao.....
Celebrity Constellation, Part 12 Day 11, Thursday, November 19, Curacao
This morning we woke up in another island we'd never visited before, the beautiful Curacao, with it's pastel coloured buildings with gingerbread fronts, all on a rocky waterfront.
There is an interesting story about how Willemstad, the capital of Curacao came to have such pretty pastel coloured buildings.
An early mayor of the city used to suffer from severe migraines due to the then glaring white of most buildings; therefore, he ordered that all structures in Willemstad be painted pleasing pastels. Today, many of these Colonial buildings are considered to be UNESCO World Heritage monuments.
We were off the ship early for a group boat and beach tour. From the dock, we departed on a double decker boat for a 20 minute run to the beach.
Once again, I stayed up front in the open air, and it was a rough ride against the wind and waves, but I only got wet, not sick.
We learned that all beaches in Curacao are man-made, many with rock walls surrounding them, and beach fronts cleaned to reveal beautiful clean white sand.
The beach we were taken to was in an area of private hotels, but we were assigned lounge chairs with shade from either thatch umbrellas or trees, and given coupons for 1 free soft drink. There was a bar/restaurant nearby for other drink and food purchases, and a quite good and reasonable cheeseburger for $4.
There were also some small clothing and souvenir shops, and I wandered into a swimsuit shop and saw the price on a 2-piece bathing suit at $191. U.S. or $335. Dutch! I wandered right back out again!
We stayed on the beach from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., enjoying the view, the water, the warmth, and the absence of beach vendors.
These wonderful excursions to the beach are never long enough for those of us who come from a colder climate, and it's always hard to drag ourselves away and return to the ship.
Back at the ship's pier, there was a large tented area outside which held a musician's bandstand where a lone musician played some island jazz, and craft and gifts kiosks and a bar. We did a little shopping, then sat and enjoyed the music with a Blue Curacao Margarita from the bar.
Along the rock wall bordering the pier I spotted some colourful folkloric sculptures, and noticed they were also for sale at the craft market.
Returned to the ship by 2 p.m. and fell asleep for a few hours, exhausted from the heat and probably the Margarita!
I woke up in time for my daily ritual, Afternoon Trivia, while James attended a sail away event, a visit to the ship's Heli Pad, hosted by Josh the Cruise Director, the Captain and several of the his crew. He got some great video of this tour, where drinks and h'or d'oeuvres were served, and a bird's eye view of our sail away from Curacao.
This was another island we vowed to return to one day, it really was beautiful, and I took some lovely sunset photos on our departure.
On this evening, it was another Formal Night, featuring the perennial favourite, Lobster and Baked Alaska, but instead we enjoyed an amazing braised beef rib lasagne, which was more delicious pot-roast-flavoured beef than it was lasagne, in layers with cheese and spinach - divine!
We waived the ritual Baked Alaska for dessert and instead chose petit fours and a light sorbet, which was all we needed after that magnificent meal.
The late show big production called "Around the World" with the Celebrity singers and dancers was excellent - a great effort, lots of energy, great dancing and singing, wonderful costumes, simply the best show we'd seen all cruise.
Goodbye Curacao, and tomorrow...our second-to-last sea day.....