Celebrity Constellation May 28-June 9 - Northern Europe - Baltic Sea Out of Amsterdam - Ports: northern Germany (Warmemunde-Rostock); Stockholm; Helsinki; St Petersburg; Copenhagen; 3 days at sea - 12 nights We were a group of 10 - 5 in their 20's; 5 in their 50's and 60's; basically 2 families. Amsterdam: we stayed at the Hotel Pulitzer and it was heavenly - just wonderful. We took a private canal cruise offered by the hotel - this is a Starwood property. Free internet in lobby and business service center. Neat coffee bar. Go get pancakes close by (we went to Sara's Pancakes; does not take credit card) - amazing - sweet and non-sweet. Very few places in Amsterdam take credit cards. Watch out for the bikes! We tried taking the train to central station and then a cab - that was a mistake - way too difficult on train if you have big bags. Take the shuttle to your hotel from the airport.
Taxi to pier for 3 was 16 Euros - when you arrive at the port, they do not help you with your luggage as they do at many ports - just a word of warning. You can walk to the ship from Central Station area easily. Ship: the renovation is ok not spectacular; the food was ok not outstanding (buffet food boring; coffee horrible); we had a Family View room and it was outstanding - not a suite but a sitting area for 6 or so and a huge balcony - room 7202 on the back of the ship; 2 TV's; closing partition door between beds and sitting area; huge amount of storage area; nice size shower. Several errors between Cruises International and Celebrity - rooms promised with 2 lowers and 1 upper had 2 lowers and a chair sofa (that doesn't work for 3 6'+ guys) - just be sure the room you are going to get is as described by the travel agent. Move from level 6 to level 2 not compensated with credit or shipboard credit. $250 shipboard credit promised by travel agent never fully posted for 7202 - still working on that.....
Plenty to do for all ages. 2 of our group competed in the Dancing with the Stars competition and we had a winner. We only went to one ship show and spent 30 min in the casino. We did enjoy cocktails in Rendezvous and Reflections Lounges as well as our room and balcony. The kids loved the buckets of beer. We did select dining - paid gratuities in advance and could basically go to dinner whenever we wanted - we always had our same waiter and table for 10 and were immediately seated - it was great. Dining room and buffet are both on the back of the ship if you want to be close via elevator. We ate outside on the back at the buffet/cafe area a lot - lovely.
There was a norovirus outbreak and there had been one the week before. We boarded 3 ½ hours late - long wait in Amsterdam terminal and sailed 3 hours late. All week, we were handed all food and drink and had to constantly put hand sanitizer on. 2 in our group got the virus - it lasted 12-24 hours and the ship did as much as they could.
Ports: we did not do any Celebrity excursions General comments: a. Don't worry about differing currencies; you can use an ATM or a credit card (capital one does not charge an overseas fee); just get your Euros as you leave the airport in Amsterdam b. Weather overall was great - only one day of rain; cool not cold and warm some days - take layers c. Be sure you know your PIN # on your credit card and that you know the # (not letters) of your ATM code d. Sights not to miss - lots of windmills, lots of swans as you leave Amsterdam, islands going in and out of Stockholm - 3 hours at least - gorgeous - this is a cruise for the ports - don't stay on the boat! e. When leaving you could easily make an 11am flight f. Stockholm, St Petersburg and Tallin the best (Tallin the favorite of all on our cruise) g. There is a safe in your room - use it - won't hold a laptop h. At this time of year it is not dark much at all - sunrise at 4:30am, sunset at 11pm or so i. Fairly easy to buy liquor on shore and sort of "sneak" it onto the boat j. Lots of cobblestone in lots of ports - beware for walking! k. Time changes twice while on cruise - Russia 2 hours later than Amsterdam
1. Warmemunde - we rented 2 cars through Enterprise. They were great - it was a Sunday but they will met us at the pier gave us the keys and we could just return the car to the pier and drop the keys in a box. Easy to drive in Germany - kids loved the Autobahn! Be sure to specific automatic or manual or they will rent you a manual. We had an automatic BMW523i.
2. Stockholm - cruise in unbelievably beautiful - be sure to be outside for a long time before you are due at port - lots of seagull escorts! Ate lunch in town by the Opera House - wonderful Swedish meatballs! Old town - Glama Stann was wonderful - used hop-on hop-off boat by the ship - 10euros each - worked fine
3. Helsinki - took shuttle bus in - $10 round-trip; walked to Christ Rock Church - ok but not outstanding - not overly impressed with Helsinki - missed the Merimeko fashion show outside though!
4. St Petersburg - used TJ Travel for our private 2 day tour - the ship may discourage you from private tours but it is just fine - it is great - it was just the 10 of us on a minivan - they were wonderful in advance and while we were there - we paid $190 each for 2 day relaxed tour - we went to Peterhof gardens - exquisite - Catherine's Palace - took hydrofoil; rode subway; went to Hermitage (stairs do not have railings - not easy); ate in Russian restaurants - yummy "pies" (cabbage, fish, strawberry as well as borscht and chicken kiev) - there is a lot of traffic in St Petersburg - takes a long time to get around - you cannot go around the city on your own - Church of the Spilt Blood beautiful from the exterior - they will do the schedule you want
5. Tallin Estonia - awesome walled city - we all loved it - a local festival with an outdoor operetta was going on that day - lovely; bought linens; used shuttle bus offered at port - very good prices
6. Copenhagen - rain sort of ruined the day - took shuttle bus in but too wet for us - looks like a lovely city, especially for shoppers! Disembarkation very easy and not crowded at all - 70 Euros to take 4 of us to the airport