Know what to expect When cruising on the celebrity constellation, one of the oldest ships in the celebrity fleet.

Ask any seasoned Celebrity cruiser about the Celebrity Constellation and they often just rave about how it’s one of their favorites. I wanted to know why this particular cruise ship was always spoken about with such affection!

I had the opportunity to jump on a last-minute 7-day voyage aboard the Constellation on a sailing departing from Ravenna, Italy that included an itinerary of Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, and Greece. This gave me a chance to try to understand the love for one of the oldest ships in the Celebrity fleet.

They call her “connie”

There are very few cruise ships so beloved that passengers sail on them over and over again, much less have a name for the ship! The Celebrity Constellation, also known as the “Connie” has created a following, unlike anything I’ve seen in the cruise industry, especially considering it’s an older rather unremarkable ship compared to the Celebrity mega-ships of today. 

Her sister ship the Millennium comes close to the same level of adoration and has been named “Millie” by her many fans.

Celebrity Constellation Overview & Ship Stats

A few things to know about the Celebrity Constellation, most notably that it’s one of the oldest ships that Celebrity still operates, launched in late 2001. The Constellation holds nearly 2200 passengers and 1000 crew with 7+ bars and 9 restaurants including specialty dining of Sushi on 5, Tuscan Grill, and Le Petit Chef. Suite guests have access to Luminae and AquaClass guests can make use of Blu.

Celebrity Constellation Renovation

The ship was lightly refurbished in 2020 with common areas getting a little love with new carpeting, upholstery, and fixtures.

Even though the ship is one of the oldest, the light refurbishment has left the common areas feeling modern and almost as if you’re sailing on a newer-built expedition ship. The staterooms, on the other hand, weren’t touched and feel dated.

It is rumored that the Constellation will go into dry dock in the spring of 2024 for a full refurbishment, but no one can really confirm or agree when/if this is actually going to happen. Our eyes are out on the itineraries and it looks lke the ship might go into dry dock after the transatlantic crossing in March of 2024. This is TBD!

What we like about the Celebrity Constellation 

  • The ship is well maintained and common areas look new
  • Since the ship is smaller with fewer passengers, there was rarely a line for anything
  • Fewer children (may not be a plus for families, but I prefer some vacations with fewer kids)
  • The entertainment staff
  • Music throughout the ship was quite good

What we don’t like about the constellation

  • Cabins are dated
  • Food quality in general is not up to par. Celebrity is known for much better food than this.
  • Specialty restaurants were overpriced and unremarkable 
  • A fair number of customer-facing staff clearly didn’t want to be on the ship working
  • There was too much space dedicated to “Suite” guests for such a small ship. Restaurants, private sun decks and Michael’s Club, while great on larger ships, takes too much space on the Constellation
Celebrity Constellation - An In-Depth Review of the Experience Onboard one of Celebrity's Most Beloved Ships 1

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Fellow Passengers

Celebrity Cruises caters to a wide variety of passengers, but the smaller ships tend to attract fewer families and a slightly older traveler demographic. This was true with the Constellation (and from discussing with travel agents and other passengers, this is pretty typical for the Constellation and the sister ship the Millennium)

Additionally, many passengers we spoke with actually sail exclusively on the Constellation because it caters to a little older crowd.

That’s not to say that there weren’t younger couples in their 20s and 30s.

We asked other passengers what they loved so much about the Constellation

For 7 days, it felt like we were interviewing people as we were genuinely interested to know WHY people love this ship. Why do passengers return to the Constellation over and over and absolutely love the ship? That was my burning question.

We spoke to no fewer than 50 repeat guests and universally they stated that they return for the intimate size of the vessel, fewer passengers means fewer lines, a more adult vibe, and most of all, the crew, and they love the cruise director/entertainment staff!

This all baffled me quite a bit since I’ve never booked a cruise based on who the cruise director was! Though I must say, Sue the cruise director, was extremely good at what she does. We chatted with Sue for a while and learned a bit about her life on the ship and how she thinks she was just built for that type of job. Sue genuinely loved doing what she was doing! But what happens when Sue moves on? Will people love the Constellation as much? We’ll have to see!

Regardless of who the cruise director is – the fact that the ship has a much smaller passenger count did make it more appealing in general. The only time the ship felt “full” was at the Martini Bar, which is the central social hub in the evenings, but aside from that, with fewer passengers than larger ships, it felt just right.

So I get it. I understand why people like the Constellation.

But let’s talk about the food….

Celebrity Constellation dining, and the underwhelming experience for a foodie

People love ships and cruises for different reasons. For me, food is a big component of a cruise, and Celebrity, historically, has had some of the best food at sea.

That is until I experienced the Constellation.

The Connie has a good number of dining options for a smaller and older ship including the main dining room, the buffet, and a random selection of other food stations. The 3 Specialty restaurants include Tuscan Grille, Sushi on 5, and Le Petit Chef. Additionally, there are designated restaurants for the suite guests (Luminae) and Aqua (For suite & aqua class guests)

We experienced the main dining room, buffet, and each of the 3 specialty restaurants. Unfortunately, because this was a last-minute cruise, we weren’t able to get a suite or AquaClass cabin to test the other two restaurants.

The main dining room

The main dining room, I felt was in line with what you’ll experience on any nicer ship these days. The main dining room menus have changed so much, that perhaps my expectations were tempered. I just found the food to be average and underwhelming and sometimes downright strange. It’s not that food was inedible, it just wasn’t memorable. Some dishes we had to send back because they were cold and others didn’t arrive prepared correctly. This is only a real concern when it comes to people with food allergies. I felt like even though we were asked every night about food allergies (which I have), the notes never made it to the kitchen. So for someone with a severe food allergy, this could be a real problem of course. Luckily, my allergy is a little obscure (specific nuts), but it still warrants a mention so others can take extra caution.

specialty Restaurants

I’m conflicted when I think about what Celebrity has done to specialty dining in the past 2 years. Mostly, it revolves around price / value when it comes to each of the upcharge dining venues. I recognize inflation is a real thing in the world, but the prices being charged now are almost eyewatering for what you get from both experience and food quality.

Tuscan Grille

Celebrity Constellation Tuscan Grille

Having a good, or GREAT steak is a real treat for me and so many others. In the past, it was great to spend little for a nice steak restaurant while on vacation, but at $55 per person (dinner) PLUS an additional 20% for gratuity, you’re in the realm of Ruth’s Chris or similar restaurants. That sets the expectation right away.

The appetizers were uninspiring and were obviously not made to order, likely prepared in bulk with a lack of seasoning and flavor. The steaks arrived cool to the touch yet overcooked.

The saving grace was the pasta dishes. We tried a few and they were generally better than expected, but I wouldn’t be happy to have spent $55 on a few pasta dishes. TIP: Order half portions and try multiple pasta offerings!

Additionally, the staff at Tuscan Grille seemed disorganized and seemingly lacked training. There were some food handling practices that I don’t think would be appreciated by anyone really paying close attention.

Having the manager come over and ask about our experience was a nice gesture, but we sure let him know our opinion on everything to the extent I almost felt bad. It’s not a normal practice for me to complain, and in reality, everything was just mediocre, not horrible. The meal just wasn’t as expected and would have been better on Norwegian(NCL) or something similar.

To be fair, the manager offered to have us return at no cost, but we declined as it’s not a practice I want to get known for, complaining for free food :)… Additionally, I’m not sure I’d have derived any additional pleasure by trying anything else on the menu based on the experience.

Le Petit Chef

Celebrity Constellation - An In-Depth Review of the Experience Onboard one of Celebrity's Most Beloved Ships 2

You’d think by this point, the word would have been out to not ask my opinion on the food 🙂 But here we go again.

Le Petit Chef is an amazingly fun concept. I truly loved the “theater” of the projected animations onto the table from above and a story about the meal we were being served. The technology mixed with the atmosphere and everyone in the restaurant being captivated was unique!

But there’s something newbies won’t realize! There are two different menus available for the restaurant. So if you’re booking online, you don’t know what menu you’ll end up with.

On our first visit, unfortunately, it was a seafood-forward menu which would have been ok had it not been for a sea critter soup that tasted like I was drinking the leftovers of a bait bucket. That single-handedly almost ruined the meal. This was followed by the main course of a lobster tail, which is the big draw of this menu, so I’m told. The tail was small and it was covered in potato chips. Almost criminal, in my opinion. Tasty but weird.

The rest of the meal was fine, but again, not amazing.

Having been asked yet again, what we thought of the experience, I explained my thoughts. I was again offered to return to try the other menu, which we did, and I’m GLAD we took the manager up on this one.

The second menu featured more mainstream items and braised short rib of beef (medallion form), which was prepared extremely well. This made up for the entire seafood fiasco.

So in the end, the whole concept is a bit gimmicky, and food … is hit/miss. But at $129 for the two of us, it felt incredibly overpriced for what we got.

It’s worth noting that for every menu, there’s an alternate menu you can choose from. It’s less fun because it doesn’t match the table animation.

Sushi on 5

Quite surprisingly, the Sushi restaurant felt like the best overall value for money. The full menu of typical sushi bites as well as unique cocktails, sake, and Japanese beer made the experience quite enjoyable.

The quality of the sushi made it feel like you were getting as good or better of a meal and experience than you would from a typical land-based sushi restaurant with a similar price.

On some days, Sushi on 5 is available for a late afternoon lunch as well as a full dinner.

Celebrity Constellation Dress Code

For the most part, the Constellation is relaxed and relatively casual. In the evening, people tend to dress a little nicer, and one night of the cruise, there was a “dress up” night where we saw everything from jeans and button-up shirts to a few Tuxedos. While the only universal dress code requirement seemed to be no shorts in the dining rooms at night. Overall the ship is casual without a lot of “fuss”.

Is Celebrity Constellation a good ship to cruise on?

In short, yes, I think it’s a good ship for the right traveler and the right itinerary.  If I had to choose the Apex vs Constellation for an identical itinerary, I probably wouldn’t choose the Constellation. But for a unique experience in an ‘old school’ way of cruising, it’s a good choice, especially if you’re a cruiser that prefers a more laid-back crowd with fewer kids. So for the right price, right itinerary, and right traveler – the Constellation can be an excellent choice. 

But this cruise ship is not for everyone. 

It’s not fancy, new, and sparkly like a Resort Hotel. It’s older but as the cruise director said, has a big heart. For the most part, people traveling with families looking for exciting adventures, water slides, robotic bartenders, etc – this isn’t the right ship. 

Cabins / Staterooms on the Constellation 

In-room entertainment is limited compared to other cruise lines (no first-run movies, etc). Everything is as you’d expect with all of the basics found on any cruise ship. The biggest issue is really just the aged feeling of the cabins on the Constellation. The bathrooms are original and the interiors of the cabins weren’t touched during the light refresh in 2020. It’ll be interesting to see if the cabins get a complete makeover during the alleged 2024 refit.

Activities & Entertainment

One of the things that stands out on the Constellation is the entertainment. The entertainment staff, including the beloved cruise director (Sue) are highly visible and active on the ship. Much more than I normally see on any ship or brand with the exception of Virgin Voyages. 

Activities are arranged throughout the day and they’re actually quite fun. Everything from Trivia to archery contests and other audience participation events. There was a surprising amount going on every day for the size and style of the ship.

There were silent discos, costume contests (It was Halloween after all!), tasting events, games and a few lectures about the ports.

One thing that stood out the most was the exceptional quality of the musicians onboard. From solo artists to small groups, the music was just great… everywhere you went. Given cutbacks on other cruise lines, it was nice to see that whoever is in charge of the entertainment for this ship found some great talent.

Celebrity Constellation deck plans

We’ll be inserting interactive deck plans soon! We’re waiting for the refurbishment (should it happen) to produce our interactive deck plans for this ship.

Until then, you can see the deck plans for the Celebrity Constellation here.

Celebrity Constellation bars & lounges

There are plenty of bars and lounges onboard the Constellation including the guest’s favorite Martini Bar. The ice-covered bar top, good people watching, and huge selection of drinks make this the top spot in the evenings. This is the central gathering place for many passengers for pre and post-dinner drinks and it becomes quite busy at peak times. 

The Cellar Masters wine bar which is just outside of the Martini bar is a great low-key relaxation spot to avoid the madness of the Martini Bar. Unfortunately, the availability of wine is limited and probably shouldn’t be marketed as a “wine bar”.

Reflections Lounge is a great spot equal to what many people call the “observation lounge” – with expansive views out the front of the ship.

Bars on the Constellation include:

  • Café al Bacio & Gelateria. Freshly baked snacks, dessert cocktails, rich coffees
  • Cellar Masters. A collection of wines from (some good, some not so good)
  • Martini Bar & Crush. Creative cocktails served with flair
  • Mast Bar. Poolside cocktails, frozen specialties, and nonalcoholic drinks
  • Michael’s Club. Private lounge and concierge exclusively for guests of the Retreat
  • Reflections Lounge. Panoramic views by day; events and chatting at night
  • Rendezvous Lounge. A place to meet before dinner or enjoy a signature cocktail after
  • Sunset Bar. A casual atmosphere to hear live guitar as the sun sets in the ship’s wake
  • Casino Bar – as it says, the bar in the casino! 🙂
Celebrity Constellation Bars

Fitness & Recreation

For those overachievers looking for a good workout on vacation, the gym will not disappoint. It’s stocked full of well-maintained TechnoGym equipment that looks like it’s relatively new (within the past few years).

The fitness facilities on the Celebrity Constellation are pretty impressive given the age of the ship. The space is huge with every piece of equipment that you’d want (or think you’d want) while on a gluttonous vacation. Unsurprisingly, the gym facilities were rarely busy.

For passengers into more guided workout activities, there were plenty of classes available throughout the cruise, most with a nominal fee.

Celebrity Constellation Gym

Spa / Persian Garden on Celebrity constellation

The cost of the Persian Garden on the Constellation ranges from about $25 per day to $135 for a week-long pass depending on the itinerary. For that fee, you get access to a very limited experience compared to newer Celebrity ships.

So if you’re a fan of the Persian Garden spas found on other Celebrity cruise ships, don’t get your hopes up here. The spa facilities on the Celebrity Constellation are a bit of a disappointment.

The facilities are essentially limited to a large communal space with warmed stone benches as well as a few unique steam rooms and sauna cabins. But that’s it.

It’s not surprising that the facilities of the spa aren’t very elaborate, since the ship is one of the oldest in the fleets and was built before the onboard spa and thermal suite craze began.

There is good news about this though!

Spa facilities like the Thalassotherapy Pool are actually free since it’s located in the solarium. Additionally, there are saunas located in the gym changing / locker rooms. So facilities that you now have to pay to use on newer ships is actually accessible from public areas without having to pay an additional fee.

Is the spa pass worth it on the Constellation?

In short, probably not. With the Thalassotherapy Pool in the solarium being accessible, and the spa facilities being so small in the Persian Garden, paying for a pass doesn’t really make sense.

Pools on the Celebrity Constellation

The Constellation has a single main pool with the addition of the solarium pool which is supposed to be “adults only”. Each pool is flanked by hot tubs which were kept right at about 99 degrees (f).

The central pool is a great gathering spot and never felt too crowded. Unlike the Mega-ships, the pool size is perfect for the ratio of passengers. What makes it even better is the fact that the Solarium pool is open to everyone, it helps distribute the passengers over more pool space and pool seating. There was never a problem finding a seat around the pool, even during a full sailing. while we may have just been lucky, we didn’t witness the chair hog behavior often found around cruise pools.

Celebrity Constellation Pool

Casino

While I’m not a big gambler, I always play a little in cruise ship casinos so I can speak first hand to how they are. For such a small ship, the casino was quite enjoyable with a huge variety of machines and sufficient gaming tables. Having won over $400 on the slot machines in the Celebrity Constellation Casino, just to promptly give it back to the casino in the form of roulette was disappointing but quite fun. I think the casino on the Celebrity Constellation is one of the better small-ship casinos I’ve experienced. Celebrity doesn’t allow smoking in the Casino, unlike most other cruise lines. Non-smokers who enjoy gambling will really appreciate this. 

Finally, the bar in the Constellation Casino is quite cozy and a great place to people watch. It’s not just a walk up service bar, there are a few tables that sit above the action to watch what’s going on. 

Rooms to avoid on the celebrity constellation

There are really only two places on the ship that people make a comment about regarding noise and discomfort on the Constellation.

On deck 2, both forward and aft, there are complaints of engine noise and anchor noise.

On deck 9 under the Oceanview Cafe (Morning chair noise)

Has Celebrity Constellation been renovated?

The ship was lightly refurbished in 2020 with some common areas being refurbished with carpet, upholstery, and other small cosmetic changes.

The ship is due to go into dry dock in the spring of 2024 for additional refurbishments, but those plans are not confirmed.

Would we Sail the Connie again?

In short, it depends. If the price was right and the itinerary was good, I think we’d consider the Constellation for another cruise. There was nothing so offputting about the ship that I’d say NEVER AGAIN. Having said that, however, I would likely avoid the specialty dining on the Constellation in the future.

Do you have a comment?

Did we miss something? Have you had a different experience? Did we get it wrong?

Celebrity Constellation Photo Gallery

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2 Comments

  1. We have a cruise booked with cabin 9012 and 9046. We are wondering if it is noisy under the gym in cabin 9012?

    1. Hi Faye, We traveled with some folks who stayed in that general area (under the Gym) – and they didn’t complain of any noise. In all fairness, however, the gym was lightly used and there weren’t a lot of free weights or anything that are normally the culprit for loud noise!