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11/26 abd 12/3/05-Constellation

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cottage

Guest
#1
Hi--anyone scheduled for these cruises? Sailed the 12/3 route last year and can recommend shore excursions. Looking for input on 11/26 itinery and shore suggestions. Also, does anyone know of a site that rates online travel agents. Thank you.
 
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Ted_D

Guest
#2
Cottage,

Wife and I are booked on the 11/26 Deep South on Constellation. We have sailed the ship before and
like it a lot. The route includes St Maarten and St Lucia which we have done several times. We like
St Maarten for shopping, thinking it the equal of St Thomas. St Lucia has some nice inland scenery
and good waters for sailing, scuba, etc but the natives are very poor and a little aggressive in trying to
sell you something. It aslo has a good golf course, if that isa your thing. We are looking forward to Dominica, but have never visited it. From what I have read and been told, it is relatively unspoiled and beautiful, but lacks infrastructure. We intend to take a formal excursion there. Aruba is a wierd island
in that it is a desert. We visited 20 years ago, so I doubt anything we remember is still there. It is
a very developed island with large hotels, etc but some very interesting scenery. Isla Margarita is a
total mystery. From what I have read, it is fairly undeveloped and small. But, it also appears to be
friendly and gentile. We'll see.

I am sorry but can't help you with a site that rates on-line agencies. I will offer that we have used
Crusies Only four times and have had nothing but good experiences with them. For Celebrity now
days, you are going to get the same price from any TA -- on-line or otherwise. So, it really boils down
to who is trust worthy, gives excellent customer service, and has relevant real knowledge about
your cruise and options. Hope that helps some.

Ted
 
C

cottage

Guest
#3
Hi Ted, thanks for your reply. We stopped at Dominica last year, it was a replacement for Granada. It isia very rural island with little development. We hired a private tour outside of the gates. It turned out to be led by a young man(college educated) who worked for a tour company during the week, but on his days off worked this tour bus for tips. A very poor island, but well educated. We went up into the mountains for a tour of one of the falls and flowers, plants, etc. He was able to give a lot of information and was very chaming. On the way down the mountain, we stopped at a shack where a number of men offered you a table filled with fresh island fruits and cocobeans that had(with coconut) been made into the local "almond joy", as well as fresh cane juice. The Charge? Actually, none. They had a bucket hanging from the ceiling and asked that you make a donation. Across the way was a young couple that weaved baskets. There is a small town on the island, but we did not go into it. Across from the ship was a huge warehouse filled with "island" treasures-most of which you see on every island. However, if you look closely there are some real island crafts. I am a quilter and always on the lookout for fabric. At one booth I was able to purchase real island waxed fabric. Somewhere in my papers from last year, I may still have the name of this young man and phone number. If so, we could arrange to have a private tour with him. Many people stayed on the ship, but for us it was the most pure island. On another note I had found a site called Skyscraper where our 12/3 cruise was listed for almont $600.00 less that what we had booked. Originally, we had booked for our first week on board last year, and then months later considered a second week. Rather than change ships in San Juan to what we considered a lesser choice, we booked our second week on the Constellation but in an inside room(which was more than we were booked for our balcony room on the first week). This site was $600.00 less for the inside room then what we had booked(for 2). Checked them out with their local Better Business Bureau, as well as Celebrity. Went with the paperwork to our own travel agent to see if they could match it,or come close. Celebrity wouldn't match it, and our agent couldn't. She actually suggested that we cancel our trip with her and book with Skyscraper. Apparently Skyscraper buys blocks of rooms, wasn't selling them fast enough and has lowered the price. I've been told that after this year, this won't be done. But for this year, its a find. Did I rebook the inside room and save the $600-of course not, but I did upgrade to another balcony room and still saved $150. I had no idea that booking on board was so reduced. We are planning to book again, but am unsure of where. Possibly Panama Canal or transatlantic. Have you signed up for the gathering party on the Constellation yet. From another chat sight I learned of it. You can find it on the Celebrity Home page. If 25 passangers sign, there will be a private meet and greet party sponsored by Celebrity. Can't go wrong. Keep in touch. Hope to meet you on the ship.
 
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Ted_D

Guest
#4
Cottage --

Nice to hear back from you. If you bump into the name (and or contact information) on the fellow that took you on your Dominica tour, I'd love to have it. The group get together is probably through Cruise Critic. At least, I know they have such a thing. Perhaps others do as well, but I've not seen them. Since
you have done Constellation before I don't need to tell you what a great ship it is. The only real problem is that it is six months from now!


Ted
 
S

sailboat

Guest
#5
Cottage

We are sailing the 12/3 route this year and have been to most of the places on the 11/26 itinerary. St. Maarten is of course known for its dual personality Dutch and French. Downtown St. Maarten is a bustling place with lots of shops and shoreside cafes and restaurants. Check out the stone beach sofas and easy chairs! More comfortable than they appear at first glance. If you have enough time in port you can shop for part of the day and take a snorkel excursion for the rest.You can walk from the ship into town--its' not far. The waters and beaches are very pretty. It's been a while since I've been to the French side; I recall it as quiet and somewhat reserved.

St. Lucia--In my view, THE tropical island. It's lush and mysterious with those twin volcanos (the Pitons) rising from the end of the island. If you want to visit the volcanos, its a full day with much of it spent getting to and returning. Most tours feature a bus ride one way and a sail ride the other way. Try for a tour that takes you by sail both ways--it's a little shorter and easier on the system --no winding roads to deal with. And there's a majestic sefafaring feel to sailing up the coast with the Pitons looming just ahead. If you like to shop you'll find pleasant shopping just steps from where your ship docks at Pointe Seraphine. Visit www.pinnaclestlucia.com for more info about this shopping center.

Margarita Island is another port where excursions take a long time. The ship docks near an open-air market selling a variety of items--jewelry, tee shirts, carvings, etc. A short walk takes you to a beach where for a small fee you can purchase a chair, umbrella, and even a massage! Not too great for swimming--the water is only knee dip quite a ways out from shore. And you'll want to wear your beach shoes--the beach area is quite natural with all sorts of stuff in the sand further up the beach. The port area is not picturesque. It looks a bit flat and dessert like. The local market adds a much-need splash of color, music, and scenery. You might want to consider an excursion here, just be aware that most involve a long bus ride and the view of the mountains--very pretty--can wear a little thin. This area is relatively new to the tourism industry and they are trying hard. No real pushiness from the merchants, at dockside though if you do show interest expect to be waited on with enthusiasm! Prices are reasonable and there's enough variety to keep you browsing from one stall to the next. You may encounter more aggressive sales techniques further inland.

Aruba - a desert-like island, very dry, but quite beautiful. Look for the windblown divi-divi trees near the shore. Oranjested is very developed with a busy downton and lots of shops--a short walk from the ship. The Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino has developed its immediate area with more shops and even a movie theatre.The shopping area near the resort is a good spot to stop for ice cream. Because you've got a late departure, you may want to consider having dinner in town. We opted to have dinner on the ship as we were getting to the end of our budgeted entertainment dollars, but saw several places that looked like fun. It's really hot here, so no matter what you choose to do, bring water. We did not and had to stop at a seaside cafe for icy cold beers--oh well, you have to keep up your liquid intake and oh did they taste good! Check out cruiseopinion. com for other traveler's reactions to this and other ports of call.

What can you tell us about Caso de Campo, Dominican Republic?
 
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cottage

Guest
#6
Thank you for the information. Dominican Replublic was an interesting adventure. I don't remember if other shore excursions were offered, but the ship offered "Free" shuttles to two different areas. The first was a reconstructed "spanish" town, apparently part of a resort, made to represent something in the 1700's, I believe. The workmanship was wonderful and the view peaceful. The village had multiple shops, some clothing, jewelry, gifts, etc., more upscale than your usual affair. There was one shop that sold coffee, and that alone is worth the trip. The Dominican coffee that we brought back was excellent and inexpensive as well. There were a couple of restaurants, one with an open balcony(and bathroom facilities), which overlooked golf greens. The river was quite brown, but probably so because of the severe hurricanes that had swept the area that fall. The second shuttle that they offered as not worth the time or effort. Although you could have taken it directly from the ship or as a second option from the spanish village, it was a boat docking with a small(very attrractive) shopping area around it. The shops, if open and occupied, were expensive, but reminded me of the shopping outlet areas at home. Most of the store fronts were empty. There was one coffee spot. Basically, the place was deserted. Appeared that this was a condo area. Why the free shuttles? I'm really not sure. I felt that it was for safety of passengers, but I have nothing to back that feeling up with. On a good note, there was a great outdoor show held that evening in the spanish village. It was in an open air theater(Greek/Roman like), stone steps that you sat on. They did provide minimal cushions as I recall. The performance was wonderful....talented jugglers, dancers, singers, puppets, etc. Very lively, very island like, very colorful complete with confetti from cannons and fireworks. Under the night sky it was wonderful, and since this is the only island on which you are at night time, well worth the price--I believe it was $30 or so. You don't need to buy the ticket ahead of time. I would certainly wait to see what the weather is. Have you signed up with Celebrity for the gathering party. You can do so on their web site. I found out about this from another chat site. Apparently, if 25 passengers sign up before the ship, Celebrity provides a meeting place with food/drink, etc. The catch is you can not sign up on board. You sign up before hand and are notified before sailing, when and where the gathering will be. Did you sign up on board for this years trip? My limited expenience has been that it is much less expensive if you do it that way. Have you done Panama or Transatlantic? Keep in touch...it's only 6 more months!!!!