Celebrity Constellation Cruise Review by RobTexas: Celebrity Constellation to The Baltic
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Celebrity Constellation to The Baltic
This was our first cruise on the Celebrity Constellation, or any of Celebrities’ Millennium class. We have previously sailed on the Solstice and the Eclipse, and consequently found ourselves comparing the different ships. The Constellation is a smaller ship than the other two, and from time to time we noticed it, particularly in the public areas. However, Celebrity was our cruise line of choice before we started the cruise and our experience on the Constellation enhanced this opinion.
One of the things we have noticed on Celebrity cruises that while there is no shortage of opportunities to spend money, they don't push drinks on you like some cruise lines do. We found this to true on the Constellation.
The food and entertainment were up to the standard we expect from Celebrity. The average Celebrity guest is probably over 50, and this is reflected in the entertainment on board. There did not appear to be an extensive program for children, which was of no problem More for us - but might be for some people.
A Baltic cruise is a great way to see a number of Northern European cities. For most people, ourselves included, the jewel was going to be Saint Petersburg, and it didn't disappoint.
We stayed in Amsterdam for two nights prior to the cruise at Double Tree by Hilton, Centraal Station. The hotel was convenient and we had no complaints. In theory you could walk from the station to the hotel and from the hotel to the cruise-port. If you have more than one rolling luggage person, as we did, it is less practical. We opted for a taxi in both cases and were glad we did.
Embarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced. We were in line for no more than 5 – 10 minutes, then walked straight onto the ship, had the usual glass of champagne, booked an additional shore excursion, and went up to the Ocean View Café for some lunch.
We were on board fairly early, so we had to wait for our stateroom to be ready. There were plenty of places to find a quiet spot to sit, and the wait was not particularly long.
Our luggage arrived in plenty of time to get unpacked before sail-away.
Our stateroom (8098) was a standard Concierge class stateroom, which are the same as the standard Veranda staterooms. The stateroom is slightly smaller than on the Solstice class ships, but not enough that we noticed it. The balcony is about 20% smaller. The arrangement of the closet and bathroom is such that you can’t open the bathroom door if someone is getting something in the closet. This was sometimes a minor inconvenience, but never a problem. The beds were comfortable, not remarkable.
The stateroom is conveniently located to the aft staircase and two decks down from the Ocean View café. We found this convenient since we like to avoid the use of elevators while on board (an effort to offset the eating!). The location is our primary reason for paying the extra for Concierge class.
One thing about our particular stateroom is that a painting scaffold is parked between this and the next-door stateroom (8100), resulting in a partially obstructed view. It is not listed on the Celebrity web-site as such.
We like to eat dinner at the early sitting in the Main Dining Room, That way we have dinner then go to the show and maybe catch one of the lounge performers. We like to be on a table for eight, so that we get to meet some other folks during the cruise. So far we have always been lucky with our table companions, and it was true again for his cruise. We had requested to be seated at a table of eight, and our request had been fulfilled. I do wish Celebrity had made it easier to make our request. I ended up having to call my TA.
On the Constellation the MDR is the San Marco Restaurant. The San Marco was up to the standard we expected. Not quite five-star, but probably four. I like to try different things and was not disappointed. Our fellow table guests were great. Generally we were all easy to please, had cruised on this class of ship before, so came with certain expectations that were met, but not exceeded.
The Ocean View Café is the buffet café on the Constellation. Actually it is comprised of the Ocean View Café and the Ocean View Grill, with a set of stairs and elevators between. The serving stations run down the middle. We found this a little inconvenient, since you had to do quite a lot of walking to check out all the offerings, However, the food itself and the selections available were certainly up to the standard we expect from Celebrity. We had most breakfasts and lunches there and generally found that it was not overly crowded. A couple of exceptions were breakfasts when almost everyone was getting off for shore excursions.
The only time we had room service was for breakfast on a few occasions when we were on an early excursion. Breakfast always arrived on time, whether we got exactly what we ordered was a litle hit and miss, you never knew quite how many slices of toast etc.would arrive.
We usually don't bother with paying extra for the specialty restaurants, but we received a complimentary dinner at "Ocean Liners" - a French resturant. It was very good, and the service was excellent. On a future cruise, I would be tempted to spend the money. I would certainly check to see if they were doing any deals.
The Constellation production ensemble performed in three specially staged productions, which were all worth seeing. The six vocalists were good and the remaining ensemble members had good energy. The guest artists on the other nights were the standard cruise mix of singers, comedians, and magicians. All were worth spending an hour so with, none left me wanting to see them again.
I liked the Rendevous lounge for after dinner drinks, music, and dancing. The group that usually played was easy to listen to and the Rendevous is a comfortable lounge. Drink service was sometimes a little slow.
Celebrity include educational talks in their daily activities. On this cruise they included a series of talks on the Russian and Danish royal families as well as one on the founding of St. Petersburg. Even though I am not a history buff, I found these talks very interesting, the speaker was able to make them entertaining as well as educational.
Our Cruise Director (JC) was energetic and creative. He and the Events Manager (Mark) made a great double team , their daily TV show was hilarious.
Ports of Call
We had originally planned to do walking tours on our own for each of the ports except Warnemunde and St Petersburg, however a minor foot accident prior to the cruise limited my ability to walk far. The result was that, although we enjoyed all of the ports we visited, we didn't do as much as some other folks might.
The ports visited were:
Warnemunde / Rostok – Germany
Stockholm – Sweden
Helsinki – Finland
Saint Petersburg – Russia
Tallin – Estonia
Copenhagen – Denmark
A short review of each is included in the “Ports” section. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
It seems all cruises spend two days at St Petersburg. I have heard that the Russian government requires they stay overnight, but in any event you can easily spend two days there. We treated ourselves, and booked a private two day tour with Alla tours. It was well worth the money. We had a guide and driver for the two of us. We were able to avoid the crowds, stop for a break whenever we need it, and got to chat about ordinary life as well as the history etc. Our guide was very knowledgeable, not just about the history, but also the art in the Hermitage. Our driver was more of a chauffeur - he always seemed to have the car just where we needed it. I would recommend Alla Tours to anyone visiting St. Petersburg.
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