Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by SomersetLady: Baltic Cruise - May-June 2013
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Baltic Cruise - May-June 2013
We went on a Baltic Cruise from Amsterdam, leaving June 20, 2013. The check-in was chaotic -- partially because they were having computer problems. But the problem was equally caused by their inefficient and disorganized system. Similarly - the dinner assignment was screwed up, having been assigned to a table that didn't exist. We were tentatively assigned to a table with a table with a couple who had been assigned to the same non-existent table.
All that having been said, the rest of the cruise went smoothly. We were in a cabin with a verandah. The stateroom attendant was very attentive; the food both up in the buffet area and in the dining room was very good. The ship was generally operated very well, although I would very much have liked more "enrichment" programs similar to what had been offered on previous cruises that we have taken on the Cunard and Princess lines (e.g., bridge lessons, various lectures, classes in Photoshop Elements, etc.).
We did not More use the ship's shore excursion offerings. Having seen other reviews on Cruisecritic, we opted to go on an all day Warnemunde tour with Friends of Dave, operated by Dave Natale. The tour we took was Magical Mecklenburg --Warnemunde & Schwerin. This is very different from tours you are likely to find on the ship's offerings. Dave is an American who has lived in Germany for about 15 years, and in Warnemunde for about 3 or 4. He had been on the Celebrity Baltic Cruise in 2009 and realized that there were no local tours for English speaking tourists, and put together a number of tours that were fun, interesting, informative and very much driven by his humor and enthusiasm.
The highlight was St. Petersburg. Again, having read previous reviews, we opted to go with TJ Tours. My husband has a sore foot which somewhat limited his mobility, so we took an individual 2 day "relaxed" tour with our own car, guide and driver. For us it was the perfect solution. We saw St. Petersburg at our own pace, and had the full attention of our wonderful guide. The advantage of such a tour is that we could converse about many different things, learning much about life in post-Soviet Russia that wasn't limited to the information that a group tour would provide. As it turned out, my husband had a bad cold and the ship didn't sell nasal spray, so we were able to add a trip to a pharmacy to our itinerary. Visas are not an issue, because the Russians treat a tour ticket as a visa. I imagine that the group tours by TJ Tours were of the same quality as our individual tour. And I cannot praise our guide and driver enough for the tour we had.
We toured the other ports on our own.
The disembarkation was as organized and efficient as the embarkation was disorganized.
On balance, we came back very pleased with our vacation, and but for the first day glitches and our wish for more onboard enrichment activities, we were very happy with our cruise.
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