by Linda (popsec)
April 19, 2006
Wow!........the Constellation more than lived up to the great reviews we'd read! We just got back from a nine-day cruise out of Bayonne, N.J. to Labadee, San Juan, St. Maarten and Bermuda. We had 8-1/2 days of sunshine with only a half day of rain and fairly rough seas.Embarkation
We arrived in Bayonne at 11 a.m. and started boarding at a little after noon. It was easy and painless. You drop off your bags when you first arrive and then proceed to the parking area. The parking was $15 a day and very secure. A shuttle takes you to the terminal. This terminal has a nice inside waiting room with plenty of seats.
After boarding we explored the ship and then headed off to the buffet (rooms wouldn't be ready until about 1 p.m.). We had stateroom 3065 with a 48" porthole window (great unobstructed view). It was a super nice room, but the bed was on the firm side and pillows were flat and horrible (my only complaint on the room).
We went to see the Maitre 'D to see if we could have our dinner seating changed from late to early. He told us they'd let us know the next day (a card was delivered to our stateroom the following afternoon with a new table assignment).
There were only two formal nights on this cruise instead of the three that were listed. The second night was formal, so we got all gussied up and ate in the gorgeous San Marco dining room.Entertainment
The entertainment....was superb! The house band, Onyx, played by the pool most days and in the Bar at the Edge of the Earth (Deck 11). The ship's orchestra played Big Band music in the Rendezvous Lounge one night, there was a singer/piano player in Michael's Club every night, and the Mozart Duo also played in the Rendezvous Lounge every evening. The Cova Cafe had a string quartet most days.
Some of the highlights for us were the 50s/60s sock hop, country line dance party, masked ball, evening pool party with fruit buffet, and, of course, the Grande Buffet (more about that later).
During the sea days there were swing, Rhumba and Cha-Cha classes in the afternoon; we went to a couple of those.Casual Dining
One of the things that we really enjoyed, but I couldn't find out much about on the message boards, was the casual dining in the evening...we loved it! They set up one side of the buffet seating area in the evening for casual dining with tablecloths, flowers and fun waiters (these guys are the ones in training for the San Marco). We had the same waiter every night (Paul from Jamaica), and he was so much fun! Every evening we had a table for two, in front of a huge window with gorgeous views of the ocean and sunset. The menu consisted of a great bread basket, a choice of two appetizers, soup of the day, house or Caesar salad, six entrees (chicken, fish, barbecued spare ribs, mixed grill, etc...these changed every night but usually chicken and a fish was on the menu), baked potato or fries, and a choice from about four desserts. It was a nice alternative to the two-hour dinners in the formal dining room without sacrificing great service.
We didn't take any of the excursions so I can't comment on them.
Labadee was a nice surprise after reading all the horrid reports on Haiti. The tenders took us ashore and we were greeted by island music, a gorgeous beach, and beach attendants waiting to put a lounge chair wherever we desired. We learned that Celebrity had this whole area specifically developed for its cruise ships and it was really nice, clean and welcoming! The flea market was rather intrusive as the local craft-makers do everything but drag you into their cubicles to display their wares. They really get in your face and just don't want to let you pass on. But if you like to haggle on price, you'll have fun here as they keep dropping the price until you buy something. On the other end of the flea market is a craft area with fixed prices but no high-pressure sales.
San Juan: I don't have too much to say. We walked around and went in some shops but it was really hot and it was my least favorite stop.
St. Maarten was gorgeous -- everything I thought a Caribbean island would be! It has stunning beaches, upscale shopping and it's so clean! We took a bus for $3 each inland a ways and browsed the shops. Then we walked along the beach back to the ship.
Bermuda/Royal Navy Dockyard. For $12 a day you can ride any of the ferries or buses and it's a great deal! We took the ferry to Hamilton and walked around, then took the #7 bus back to the ship. What a great way to see the island! At the dockyard, we paid $10 each to go through the Maritime Museum and to see the dolphins (for $204 you could swim with the dolphins for 45 minutes...gulp!...too rich for my blood!).
I did ask several kids what they thought of the kids' program, and the teenagers weren't impressed......there didn't seem to be much for them to do.
Debarking was a breeze, customs was a snap and the shuttle takes you right over to the terminal.