We are a retired couple ages 61 and 60 that travel and cruise a great deal. We live in Florida and part time in NYC. We are used to eating out at fine dining restaurants, and seeing theater, concerts, etc in NYC. We have cruised many times to the Caribbean, eastern western and southern, to Turkey and Greece, the Baltic, Panama Canal, Alaska, Barcelona and Lisbon. We usually like to take independent tours and not be with large groups.
We totally fell in love with Captain Tasos Kafetzis. We have never, in over 20 years of sailing had a more entertaining, enthusiastic, engaging and young Captain. We attended his lectures and saw the game show he participated in, all informative and fun. We also think he set a standard and tone for all his officers and crew which was certainly discernable. Smiles, interactions, and professionalism, even chance encounters in an elevator. And last but not least, his amazing DONUTS! What a treat to turn in a circle around the Seven Sisters and the Suitor waterfalls with music no less.
We stayed a night at the Amsterdam Marriott Rennaissance on Kattengat very close to Dam Square, the Central train station and the port. We like to arrive the day before so we can rest a little, start to timeshift and not be stressed. Very convenient for embarkation the next day. We chose this hotel because we had points. We ate at Lucius seafood restaurant on Spuistraat, which we could walk to. Wow, fresh
marvelous shellfish, get the seafood tower and you will not be disappointed. We did have lines at embarkation, even though we thought having the concierge level allowed us a quicker time. There were so many people with this level and above that the lines were probably as long as the regular lines.
We had a concierge level balcony cabin 8087 on this trip. Having midship was great, but I did not see the concierge value. We were told repeatedly by the concierge Michael, that we could make our dinner or spa/salon reservations better ourselves! There is no dedicated concierge or person to speak with, so I do not understand the term for this class of cabin. Michael did assist us with arranging a rental car, and I expect this is available to any passenger speaking to the concierge desk. We do love having a balcony and this cruise was no exception, with wonderful scenery and a serene, quiet and private place to sit. Our cabin steward was professional and attentive, we always had whatever we needed. I do wish there were passenger laundry facilities onboard, as we traveled an additional two weeks after the cruise. We therefore had to use the cruise laundry which is an expensive addition. The sail away out of Amsterdam is so interesting because of the lock, be sure to be outside and see it. We luckily had our balcony to watch the windmills and scenery go by.
This cruise is the first time we tried the luggage forward service and it was fantastic. Our large bag was picked up at our door and appeared in our cabin, then was picked up at the final port of Amsterdam and arrived back home. It contained our eveningwear, and pool and gym clothing. We were able to travel light on the plane with only carryon bags, and this also made it easy to travel by train during our ongoing trip after the cruise with also only small wheeled carryon bags.
We arranged for 6 of the 12 nights to have dinner at specialty restaurants. We like the ambiance, having a smaller more intimate room, and always being able to arrange for a table with a window! We had the open dining and wished to make all the reservations the first day. The policy is only the day or two before, so we had to constantly go and wait on a line to arrange for the dinners we had in the MDR. Although this was a pain, we never had to wait very long, and sat in the lounge when we did have to wait. Wish this could all be done online, the same with the specialty dining reservations package. I think individual specialty dinner reservations could be made online. Same goes for spa/salon. Most people know if they want to get their hair done before formal nights. Celebrity, step into the 21st century and get all this available online before one even begins the cruise. If you are aiming to get a younger demographic, this and better internet is essential. ( see note later)
We were disappointed in the quality of the food overall on the cruise. Especially if you are paying a premium, you expect superior quality food. Some of it was very disappointing, other meals were better. But none were exceptional. The fact that there was not even one evening to have Maine lobster in the MDR is a shame. There was a night with, I believe maybe warm water tails, that came out totally inedible. Must have been frozen a long time, just mealy and awful. The Ocean Liner restaurant did not have Filet Mignon on the menu, also a disappointment. The Tuscan Grille, on the other hand, did, which was surprising, and my husband enjoyed it there. The staff was professional and accommodating, albeit they have no control of their kitchens. We are not big breakfast or lunch eaters, and we always found good options, like egg white omelets, yogurt and fruit, and salads fresh and available. The gelato was a big hit with us for a treat.
We had the drink package for the first time, and only because there was a special promotion. It did not include the martini bar specialty cocktails, so we usually just went elsewhere, and my husband just had two small martinis, instead of one regular size one! We loved having our expresso everyday, and sometimes twice a day and the Cafe al Bacio was always jamming! We ended up purchasing bottles of wine a few times because we didn't like the choices with the package, and did have an anniversary celebration one evening. Otherwise, we had our cocktails or glasses of wine with our evening meals. We also liked being able to get bottles of water whenever we wanted. We don't drink juice or soda. So, I don't think we would do the package again, and we are not that big of drinkers anyway.
The spa is smaller on this ship than on the Solstice class, and does not have the Persian Garden room with lots of beds and a wonderful ocean view. That is why we were not interested in an Aqua class cabin, nor did we get any day passes for the Persian Garden. In fact, we never even had massages this trip, which we usually do. I did use the salon for hair and nails and my technicians were lovely. We both used the gym and never had to wait for equipment. I usually practice yoga on my own, as the class times were not good for me. The pool areas always had seats available and we Floridians watched the swimmers in amazement. The upper pool deck was a wonderful place to watch us going in and out of the fjords and the Captain opened the helicopter deck a few times for passengers.
We do like having the small size ship, and the Constellation was upgraded previous to our sailing, and we thought the ship looked fine, bed okay, bathroom clean, tile and grout clean (a pet peeve of mine) public areas nice and not glitzy. This was a port intensive cruise and we only had three sea days out of twelve. We are not big shoppers when cruising so I cannot comment on that aspect of the cruise. We always wish the internet would work better. One would think all the cruise lines would have worked this out better somehow. It is also a very expensive addition. Even though we are retired, we always read the NYT online each morning, check CNN Money for market info and check and send email each day. And where is the Skype? I think all the cruise lines need to step up to the plate on this issue. We often make port arrangements ourselves, often by email or skype, and we had a difficult time confirming or making additional arrangements without internet capability.
We would like to commend Cesar Paucar, one of the musicians. He often played at Cafe al Bacio and Michael's lounge. A very talented guitarist and we thoroughly enjoyed all of the performances that we were able to hear. Maybe we are becoming too jaded, or seen too many cruise shows, but we were not that impressed with the shows in the theater. I seem to remember we liked the shows last summer on Celebrity Millennium in Alaska. We had a blast at the Motown night and the 60's night. The dancers were so much fun to dance with and along with most of the room we sang all the words to the songs we all remembered.
Disembarkation was easy and we took a cab to the Central station to catch our train to Bruges. Trains are very easy to use and we took the high speed Thalys train to Bruges through Antwerp. The Antwerp station is a lovely old classical station and we saw tour groups visiting during our change of trains to the local. The Thalys train was very comfortable, with free internet access, and free snacks and drinks in first class. This train does go all the way to Paris .
We had a very wonderful cruise and we loved Norway. Thank you to Captain Tasos and crew for a very memorable journey, and I hope many of you will get to sail on the Celebrity Constellation.
As per the cruise critic instructions, I will add my cruise ports that are not listed below:
Small village with about 480 residents. We did not do the glacier tour as we have done this before in Alaska, British Columbia and Alps. We took a short walk and went into the internet cafe for tea and email. It was a dreary drizzly day and we decided not to spend hours on a bus and just relaxed on the ship.
We rented a car from the airport to go see the highly recommended Altantic Road, Atlanterhavsvegen". It was a cloudy, not particularly nice day, but we headed off anyway. A bit of a hassle to have to get to airport to rent auto, and have to also get back from airport. It is very small, with only maybe one flight a day, so not staffed. The young woman at Hertz waited for us to arrive to pick up auto and then closed up! We also would have had to call for a taxi back to port if one had not shown up to return a child car seat which was providential for us. Back to the road trip. Very easy to follow the map or our iphones. Maybe it would have been nicer on a beautiful sunny day, but we were not impressed with the route. Stopped a few times to meander by the shore and stretch our legs. The bridge was interesting but a long way to go. We climbed a very muddy hill at the restaurant, marina stop for a better view. We saw a boat load of tourists going over to the island for lunch at the inn. On the return trip we stopped to see the cute bus stops with the soil and grass roofs. Surrounded by farms it was truly pungent.
Our sunniest and most beautiful day of the cruise. We were so happy because it was our 39th wedding anniversary. We rented a car through Geiranger Adventure, great people! 990 NOK for about 5 hours. Sadly, when we stopped at the information booth we were told all cars were rented, none available, and were not told about this company. They were maybe a few hundred feet outside the building and right on the road! Shame on the tourist information booth. If all your available autos are rented, why not tell tourists about other options. Anyway, with map in hand we started driving up up up. Only one road, no way to get lost. First view point is at Flydalsjuvet, and it was a beautiful first stop to see Constellation at the mouth of the fjord and about halfway up to Mount Dalsnibba. We also stopped at Lake Djupvatn where there is a place to stop and pick up food for a picnic or eat there. Then we headed up to the top of Mount Dalsnibba for the million dollar views. Just amazing and we were so thrilled to have perfect sun. It was cool and windy up top, so glad we brought scarves and jackets. Don't forget to stop and hug or kiss the troll. The store has clean bathrooms and hot chocolate besides other snacks and gift items. After we got back down to town we saw a group dressing up as Vikings for a boat ride in a replica Viking ship. How cute and fun for families. We watched them pull up alongside the Constellation to threaten her with their make believe weapons and give some nice loud Viking yells.
Easy town to walk into where we easily hopped a city bus, you pay the driver, to go out to Sunnmore Museum. This is a folk museum replica of Norwegian coastal culture. It was built in 1931 and is about 50 acres (120 hectares) with 50 old preserved buildings and some boats. There is also a beautiful church, the Borgund Church with a very old graveyard adjacent to the museum. There is also an exhibition hall with cafe, souvenirs and clean restrooms. This was so interesting we ended up spending more time than we originally thought, and came back to town with time to stop at a cafe for some coffee when it started to drizzle. We always carried our trusty folding umbrellas, so a little drippy walk back to the ship.
This was a very small town with no major attractions if you did not plan to take a tour. I think many things were far away and would be a long bus ride. There were no rental cars available in town although one could request one and wait until it got there. Great tourist information building that seemed to also be town community hall with library and pool. We decided to enjoy nature and take a hike up to a lookout point above the town. The beginning of the path was very easy and paved. It became a little more difficult and unpaved with tree roots as we climbed up to the lookout viewpoint. We were glad we did as the view was pretty, with the town and farms and fjord spread out below. After so many days of eating it was good to get some exercise. This port had the best free wifi and we were able to skype with our grandchildren. Many crew members were at the port feverishly using the wifi, some even at the railing on the open deck closest to the port building.