Eddie Manning’s limo service provided our transfer to Southampton, and despite the skepticism with which we viewed the mountain of luggage for the five of us, it fit easily into the back of the seven-passenger Mercedes van. We were at the pier by 1:30, and onboard ship within minutes.

This is our first time cruising on Celebrity, and it’s always interesting to compare ships and lines. The Constellation was built in 2002 and refurbished most recently in 2010. Despite the fact that it’s scheduled for another one in April, everything seems new and shiny.

The layout of the ship makes it seem much more intimate than the 2000 passenger count would suggest. It pinches in at the middle, and there are many public areas where you can see both port and starboard views simultaneously.

This is the nicest suite we’ve ever had on a ship, with excellent fit and finish, and a really nice cabin layout that separates the bedroom, living/dining room and bathroom with a short hall that is also a cleverly designed closet. THe amenities are great except for the wi-fi, which is marginal at best, even on the provided in-room computer.

As with every line we’ve been on (except Costa) the crew is overwhelmingly nice and accommodating, and everyone sees to know your name by the second day.

The five of us got together in our suite for afternoon Champagne and canapés, then went our separate ways.

Linda an I caught an early show in the ship’s theatre, a well designed 4-story space in the bow, that has no columns blocking sight lines. It was a revue of the ship’s performers, and the singing, dancing and acrobatics were impressive, better than I’ve seen on other lines.

After the show we headed for dinner. The food is certainly a cut above Royal Caribbean, the parent company, but not the fine dining quality of Oceania or Regent.

Wine seems to be priced with primarily a fixed markup rather than a percentage, so the more expensive bottles are better deals, although some rare gems listed at great prices didn’t actually exist when I tried for them. A corkage charge is available for wines purchased off-board, a nice feature I haven’t seen on a cruise line before.

We took advantage of the discount available when buying three or more bottles of nice wine to stock up for the trip. The ability to have the restaurants store unopened or opened bottles for you and transfer them between restaurants on the ship is one of my favorite features of cruising.