December 22, 2008
The cabin was very well designed. We chose an ocean view on the bottom level. It had plenty of space to store clothing and the beds were high enough so that four large suitcases could be hidden, out of sight. The bathroom was well stocked with spa quality soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner in refillable bottles. The view was superb. I spent a fair bit of time curled up in the oversized chair by the window looking at the waves which were only about 30 feet below. In fact we liked the cabin so much that we would choose this kind of view, instead of a balcony, for future sailings.
The musical venues on the ship made a positive contribution to our enjoyment of this cruise. We danced in the Rendez Vous Lounge every night, to the music of the Carl William Quartet. He approached us on the first night and asked us, along with other passengers, what kind of music we liked to dance to and he continued to be warm and charming throughout the cruise. The house band, Fusion, was excellent and took delight in playing requests and serenading people who were celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. A really good guitarist/vocalist played in the vicinity of the Café Nova each evening. It was a fun place to go to enjoy a coffee and chat. The A Cappella group was also excellent. I have never been on a cruise which offered such an extensive menu of music, with something for everyone, scheduled at regular times and in very pleasant settings.
I am not a big fan of buffets, but I must admit that I became one on the Constellation. Line-ups were short when we had breakfast and lunches, and the selection of food was long! Made to order omelettes were always available along with breakfast breads and pastries that were delicious. Made to order pasta was also wonderful at lunch, cooked by a chef who could not hide his pleasure in preparing such delicious offerings to the passengers. I am sorry that I did not make a note of his name. Desserts were plentiful and really tasty at the lunch buffet. Snacks were offered in the late afternoon and were in the form of small sandwiches and buns and assorted cakes. Timing is everything on a ship and a few times we were too late to take advantage of these wonderful little bite-sized treats.
I am a person who notices small details and I appreciate ambience. One of the features I enjoy about RCCL and Celebrity is their attention to art on the ship. The ship is a floating gallery and whoever selects the pieces should be praised for their ability to select works that speak to so many types of people. I always wondered why the cruise lines have not made guided tour tapes with headphones, to be used by passengers, as an onboard activity for sea days. There is an air of whimsy to the collection and it serves at least for me, as kind of a visual banquet. Sculpture is everywhere and the reclining woman in the indoor pool area is stunning. You will find very little bare wall space on this ship and I am the kind of passenger who will stop and look at framed photos lining the corridor and I will appreciate each featured piece on the landings of the staircases. My hat goes off to those who have made the decision to spend so much money amassing such a collection. I enjoyed it every day of the cruise.
I first tried a Thalassotherapy pool onboard the Century a few years back before the ship was refurbished and the questionable decision was made to do away with the pool. A much larger Thalassotherapy pool is found on board the Constellation. It is covered and intended for adult use only. Spa music is piped in and the whole atmosphere is calming and soothing. The water is very warm in this pool with curved overhead pipes positioned in the corners which spout high pressured jets of water intended to massage the back. At each side of the pool is an elevated rack of wide smooth pipes which you can stretch out on and jets of water pulse under you for a full body massage effect. In short, it is a little bit of aquatic heaven!
The Ports were interesting on this cruise. We experienced the partial crossing of the Panama Canal by ferry, the only excursion which we booked through the ship. It was really enjoyable despite the to/fro hour long bus ride on a bumpy road. The ferry departed from the second set of locks and the guides on the bus and ferry were both informative and entertaining. We even saw a crocodile. A light buffet lunch was served and cold drinks were provided. In Grand Cayman we took a cab to the Reef Grill and enjoyed their beach for the full afternoon. Lounges can be rented for 5 dollars and an umbrella for 10 dollars. Food is good and reasonably priced and change rooms/washrooms are available. One great feature about this spot is that they have a beach and bar web camera so that at a prearranged time you can stand and wave at your friends and family. Don't miss Nachi Cocum while in Cozumel. You don't have to reserve a spot at the Reef Grill, but you must reserve this beach club in advance and place a small deposit online. Like the Reef Grill, it is a short cab ride away from the port. The property is gorgeous and the service outstanding. It has a pool with a swim up bar, change rooms and, for an extra fee, opportunities to engage in water activities. Upon arrival, you are escorted to shaded lounges by your waiter who will continue to serve you drinks and superb food, covered under your admission, throughout your day long stay. The guacamole and breaded grouper are wonderful and the best Pina Colodas I had on the cruise were from Nachi Cocum. The sand is a little coarse, so you may want to wear beach shoes. After a swim, you can snooze on the hammocks under the many palm trees which grace this property. We felt that we received excellent value for the money we paid. Last, but not least, is the Craft Market in Costa Rica, just steps away from the ship. Don't miss it. You can get great deals on coffee and vanilla and the crafts made from the local wood, exotic to us, are beautifully made and very reasonably priced.
Security was also an issue on this ship. Children were in places they should not have been and the security crew turned a blind eye to it. Even when confronted with the fact that children were in the adult hot tubs, the security officer I approached seemed very reluctant to address the issue with the parents present. Chair hogs were out in full force and despite warnings posted on the daily passenger newsletters left in the cabins, these inconsiderate passengers were given free reign to place their personal belongings on lounges, walk away and not return for hours, thus depriving other passengers of the use of these chairs. The posted consequence for this behavior was to have the property removed by the pool attendants, to be reclaimed later at a specific location. Not once did I see this happen. The most disturbing incident of a serious breach in security took place when an unescorted child of about 8 years old was allowed to board the ship after walking back alone along the pier at Costa Rica. This disregard for the rules and safety on the part of ship security personnel left me wondering what would happen in the event of a real crisis on board the ship or at sea.
Entertainment in the theatre was very poor. Once again, attendance at the theatre for me in previous cruises was an experience I looked forward to each day. This was not the case on this cruise. The ship's company of entertainers was very young and lacked any stage presence. The shows were boring and the staging uninspired. Having cruised on a Princess ship last year, I was very disappointed. I have never been on a cruise which did not feature at least one stand up comedian. Eleven nights on a cruise ship without a comedian is eleven long nights. On last year's Princess cruise you had to go early to get a seat in the theatre, it was that popular. Surely, the number of vacant seats should be an indicator to the entertainment director that all is not well. To please a wide cross section of ages and preferences, a cruise line needs a wide cross section of talent. Today's passengers are a savvy lot and what passed for entertainment ten years ago will not pass today. All of the onboard innovations in the world will not make up for a lackluster program of theatre entertainment.