We booked a 12 day Baltic Cruise on the M/V Celebrity Constellation, with 2 pre & 1 post cruise stays at the Crowne Plaza and Hilton Airport Hotels respectively in Amsterdam. Both hotels have complimentary airport shuttles, but one can easily walk to the Hilton either from the outside or via connective inside walkway from the second floor of the Amsterdam Airport, unless you have lots of luggage.
The Crowne Plaza is a relatively new hotel, while the Hilton is classically dated, with a new one being built across the lot. Both hotels were very clean, quiet and comfortable, with the Crowne Plaza being more spacious. As we were at the Hilton on a weekend, we do not know how bad the construction noise, if any, would have been.
WiFi is expensive at the Crowne Plaza, but complimentary, if you are an IHG Rewards Club member. WiFi is complimentary for guests in the lounge area of the Hilton.
We had complimentary full breakfast buffets for our weekend stays at the Crowne Plaza. At the Hilton, we upgraded to an executive room, where we had access to the executive lounge and complimentary full breakfast buffet. There were complimentary appetizers and beverages, including beer and wine in the executive lounge. The upgrade alone, was less than the cost of 2 breakfast buffets.
Amsterdam city centre is a short tram, bus or train ride away. From the Crowne Plaza, it was an easy 10 minute stroll, approximately 4 blocks, to the transportation centre. We purchased a very useful 24 hour tram ticket on board. One could have purchased the tram or train ticket from a vending machine, but you must be able to read the instructions, which is in Dutch.
We found Amsterdam a very safe city to travel in.
The Celebrity Constellation had recently been refurbished. The areas where staterooms 3112 3144, starboard plaza deck are, were once meeting rooms and a cinema & conference centre. We were in aft stateroom 3142, one below the promenade deck. Evidence of recent refurbishing was the fresh sawdust found in one of the cabinets above the room fridge. Rooms 3142 & 3144 are in an enclosed area from rooms 3112 3140, by a separate keyed entry door. Our room was located approximately below the dining room entry way, as such, it was fairly quiet. Our room had the basic amenities of a stateroom, was clean and comfortable. It also had couch by a large picture window which was nice.
We found that the shore excursions, along with the on board activities were similar to those on other cruise ships, bingo, trivia, art auctions, etc., but the disembarkation for the excursions on the Celebrity appears to be more efficient and orderly.
As in most port cities, there were plenty of Hop on Hop off type buses, if you don’t want to partake in a ship’s excursion or wander off by yourself. It was refreshing not to run the gauntlet of independent tour guides, as you do in the Mediterranean or Caribbean areas or at least they were not as apparent.
We thoroughly enjoyed visiting all new ports, seeing and experiencing the different sights and cultures, as these were, but especially St. Petersburg and Copenhagen.
The staff on this particular sailing, in general, made you feel welcome. The service in general was also very good. The latter two comments rings true, especially because we had “anytime” time and thus different wait staff at each sitting. The only other comment about the dining experience is that the food presentation lacked the “wow” factor, as experienced on other cruise lines.
Of the 5 different cruise lines we traveled with, the entertainment on this sailing was the best we have seen.
The disembarkation on this particular sailing was timely and efficient. Unlike other cruise lines we’ve sailed with, our luggage went directly to the airport, where we picked it up, thus reducing the clutter at the cruise ship terminal. Notwithstanding the complimentary shuttles, we had pre-booked transfers from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the cruise terminal and from the cruise terminal to the airport.