We flew out of Toronto direct to Amsterdam, arriving at 7:00am. The cruise and flight was booked with Transat Holidays, and since they guarantee having passengers at the port in time for departure, or make arrangements to the next port of call, we decided to arrive the day of departure. It took very little time to clear customs and retrieve our luggage. After some confusion we caught the train from Schipol Airport to Central Station. Since it was too early to go to the port, we walked a few blocks, dodged many bicycles, and had breakfast at Carla Cafe. After walking back to Central Station, we found the location of Tram 26 to take us to the port.
Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise terminal at 10:30am, had our luggage taken from us,were given a health questionnaire to complete regarding any stomach flu or cold symptoms, and a #7 check-in card. We proceeded upstairs and sat around until they started registration @ 11:15am. We had completed our X-press Pass online months ago and found registration was very quick and efficient and were directed to the Seaside Cafe for lunch by 11:45am. The buffet has 5 duplicate areas of cheese,fruit,gourmet salads,hot entrees,vegetables,roast beef,pizzas,breads,& desserts. Since we were early there was no problem finding a table. The area was clean, & bright. The waiters were readily available to help with trays and efficiently cleaned the tables as they became vacant. After lunch we found comfortable padded wooden lounges on Deck 10 and relaxed until we could go to our cabins. It was sunny, but windy & cool and the wool blankets that were provided were appreciated.
Cabin: At 1:00pm it was announced that the cabins were ready.We chose an inside on Continental Deck 2. It was small but well laid out. The wall of mirror behind the bed made it look larger, and it had lots of closet space,& good lighting in both the cabin & bathroom. The shower was larger than anticipated, and there was a clothesline and nightlight. Sally our room attendant checked to see if we were satisfied and promptly delivered the extension cord & distilled water we requested. Our luggage arrived @ 2:15pm, and we were almost unpacked before the emergency drill at 3:45pm. Our muster station was in the casino-it all went very smoothly, and most passengers paid close attention to the crew explaining the procedures.
Dining: We chose early dining,6:00pm,San Marco Restaurant and had a table for 6. Our waiter(Bob-Indonesia) and assistant(Carlos-Honduras) were excellent. The left side of the menu was the same for the entire cruise:shrimp cocktail,escargot,French onion soup,Caesar salad,steak,chicken,salmon,creme brulee. The Menu du Jour was different for each of the 12 nights, and featured a delicious selection of appetizers,salads,fish,meats,poultry & desserts. We were told that we could mix & match from both sides, and this is what was often done. We all found the food at the very least good and more often very good to excellent, and therefore none of us felt the need to try the specialty restaurants. Of note was the perfectly cooked fish,& tender lamb, and variety of sorbets.
On the first formal night (there were 3), 2 male passengers arrived in the main dining room dressed very casually. They were followed by the head waiter carrying jackets which they were required to put on.
We had all but one of our breakfasts in the Seaside Cafe, and were pleased with the variety and freshness of the ingredients. We especially liked the made to order omelettes and waffles. There was a large variety of teas, and the coffee was good.
Entertainment: There were two guest speakers onboard. Victoria Tennant, and Dr. Ed Lynch. They were both excellent and gave different perspectives of the Baltic/Russian region.
We enjoyed the large musical productions starring the Celebrity Constellation Production Singers and Dancers,as well as guest entertainers:Nick Page who had starred as Jean Valjean in London's West End Les Mis.,Brooks Aehron, a concert pianist and wonderful entertainer who we had the pleasure of seeing twice, and Lindsay Hamilton,who put on a terrific one woman show. Each night before dinner we would have a drink at the Rendez-Vous bar and be entertained by different small bands&singers. There was always a small group of passengers who took advantage of this to do some dancing. The acapella group were very good, and many nights Michael's Club had Perry Grant entertaining. There was much more entertainment that we didn't frequent-I don't see how anyone could be bored or not find something to their taste.
Ports: Our ports of call were Amsterdam,Warnemunde,Stockholm,Helsinki,St.Petersburg(2days),Tallin,&Copenhagen. We did each port on our own, except for a private tour in St. Petersburg(Alla Tours).Each port had much to see, and the time available allowed only a brief overview of each city. Unfortunately we also had rain several times. The weather was cool,so jackets,long pants and rain ponchos were necessary.
We docked in Amsterdam at 5:00am.A form had been sent around earlier in the week asking for flight information, and the evening of our last full day a letter was left in the cabin indicating the place & time of our disembarkation. As we were staying in Amsterdam post-cruise, we didn't need to leave until 8:50am, and were allowed to take all our luggage with us, and proceed directly to the exit. The only glitch we encountered was a credit was owed to us (we had been paying our account in full in cash during the entire cruise), and we couldn't leave until guest relations refunded us the amount owing. We exited the ship @ 9:10am.
Summary:This was an excellent cruise.We loved everything about the ship, and would definately sail with Celebrity again. All the staff we met were friendly but not intrusive;there was a great variety of food items to choose from at all times, & it was well prepared & fresh;even though the ship was full, it never seemed crowded; the public bathrooms were always clean,with no offensive smell,had cloth hand towels,and often had a staff member available to open the door upon leaving;a wide variety of entertainment available for all tastes.