April 2014 - Celebrity Constellation to Caribbean - Western
We arrived at the pier and after a brief wait for porters to tag our bags (I didn't print out my bag tags early enough online and had to get them locally...a rookie mistake), we proceeded into the "rats maze" of the line to pre-board the ship. It wasn't to long and it was very well organized. We were given our room keys and were immediately allowed to access our rooms (We were on deck 6 portside forward). Our bags were already there awaiting our arrival!!! We put things away and proceed to the US Coast Guard mandated "abandon ship" location. From that point on, it was easily the most relaxing vacation I've taken in years!!
The crew was friendly and attentive. Meals were wonderful in the main dining room (San Marcos). The specialty restaurants (Ocean liners and The Tuscan Grill) were easily some of the finest meals I've ever had the pleasure to eat. Ocean liners "Lobster Flambé" was to DIE for and Tuscan's "Grilled NY Strip" rivaled Ruth's Chris Steakhouse!!! And if you didn't feel like a "sit down" dinner, Ocean view Cafe had a great breakfast as well as lunch and dinner!!
If you drink alcohol, there certainly was NO shortage of bars on the ship to quench your thirst. But be warned!! If you do not purchase a drink package, your bar bill will be shocking!!! Not even a bottle of water is free aboard ship ($4 U.S). I did have a "Classic Alcohol Package" for my wife and I and it included most beer that the average consumer would drink and all of the non-call drink (Daquiri's, Margaritas etc) but if you wanted a Jamison and water, THAT was not included! The children each had the "Premium non-alcohol Package) and everything was covered!.
Entertainment was excellent. My wife and I attended shows every evening in the theatre on deck 4/5. The musicals were pretty well done and the comedian (Troy Thirdgill) was outstanding. My wife partook of some bingo while underway and I played Texas Hold 'em in the casino. The two elder kids just did "teen stuff" and by all reports, had a great time. The youngest child (5) was a frequent member of the "Fun Factory" where they provide age appropriate activities for kids. She too had nothing bad to say about her experience.
Shore excursions were...well, to each their own. I stayed aboard in Cozumel as I believe if you've seen one Mexican seaport town, you've seen them all. My family went on the dolphin adventure and had a great time while I stayed busy on board just relaxing and napping!! Key West is....well, Key West. If you've been there before, not much has changed (unless the last time you were there was 1972).
Debarkation (Leaving the Ship) was a bit of a mess. They want you out of your stateroom by 0830 which is fine. We all understand that the staff has to prepare for the next group of guests. But, the ship asks you to go to the theatre and wait...that's it...just wait. We arrived in the theatre at 0830 and basicaly sat there with NOTHING to do but wait (our departure number was 30 and they began as 1).!! Ok, so we are all in a theatre...how about some news? An old movie, maybe? SOMETHING to keep me/small children entertained??? Once our number was called, we left the ship only to be herded into the terminal where again, we sat and waited for permission to get our bags. After waiting 30 min or so, we retrieved our bags and then were herded into another "rat’s maze" to clear customs (which really makes NO sense as our point of entry into the U.S. was Key West!!). Of course, it being a Saturday, there were 3 customs agents for 3000 guests but it really didn't take that long and all they wanted to see was our passports (Darn, I should have brought back a "square grouper"!!!).
All in all, it was still an enjoyable experience and I will take another cruise again someday soon...and it will most likely be on a Celebrity X vessel!!!
Eric in Virginia Beach