Once again, we chose Celebrity for our summer holiday cruise and it did not disappoint. Although we had sailed Europe before, this was our first cruise in the Northern part and Russia. OUr trip began out of Halifax,NS to Rejkavik,Iceland to Amsterdam on Icelandair and we were very impressed with this airline. Service was great and more importantly, the movie selection was ideal! We arrived in Amsterdam to stay 2 pre-cruise days at the Grand Hotel Amrath which I had booked through Hotwire for a price of $109 AD per night. While the hotel was "grand",our room was not! They stuck us on the basement floor (-1) and then tried to tell us that we weren't really in the basement. This was hard to swallow when all you saw out your window were ankles walking by!! I know I will get a lot of flack for this but Amsterdam was not what I thought it was going to be like. Yes, the canals and the museums were great, but the whole city seemed to reek like sewer and pot!! I'm not a prude but that really bothered me. Also, the grafitti and the overall dirtiness of the streets and canals did not add anything to my impression.
NOw, on to the Constellation. We showed up to board at the appointed time(or even earlier!)and received a message that they were continuing to scour the ship for the norovirus. This was not a problem for me as the longer they took, the cleaner the ship would be. And it was. I really was impressed with Celebrity for taking the iniative on this and in a couple of days after boarding,the salt and pepper shakers were once again on the tables! Both the staff and the passengers worked together to ensure the cleanliness of the ship and I commend both. Service from every sector was very impressive. Our room steward, Francis was very efficient as was his helper, Yougish. A big bravo to our waiters, Dennis and Sanjee who performed brilliantly each and every night and had to contend with a table of malcontents who were NEVER happy with anything. My heart broke for them every night as they tried again and again to please these people who did not appreciate anything and never offered a simple please or thank you.
Our first stop was Warnemunde, Germany which,aside from St.P'burg, was my favourite stop. We chose to tour with the infamous Dave of Friends of Dave Tours and what a good choice that was. WE really felt like we were spending the day with a friend and not a guide! He is hysterical and will have you in stitches the whole time,but more importantly, he has a wealth of information on the towns that you will visit. We toured with him for almost 12 hours and ended the day with a celebratory drink on the waterside patio in Warnemunde. The very next day, Dave sent me an email starting with "Do you miss me yet?" Yes, Dave, I miss you!!!!
Stockholm,Copenhagen , Talinn and Helsinki were all spent doing DIY tours. We just simply walked off the ship and wandered around. The Rock Church in Helsinki is absolutely amazing and we were lucky enough to hear the organ music when we were there. It is truly something to see.
St. P'burg was THE highlight for me and we toured with Denrus and had the pleasure of having Nadya as our guide for 2 days. She, like Dave, was a fountain of information as she took us around to the various places. The one that impressed me the most was Catherine's Palace and the surrounding gardens. It was exactly like I thought it would be. People were very friendly,even if they could not speak English very well. Seeing the different countries was nice but it was always nice to get back to the comfort of our cabin and balcony which we used a lot. We would have our coffee there in the morning and our pre-dinner drinks in the evening. Weather was scorching at some ports so it was nice to get some fresh air on the balcony.
Even though our next cruise is with Royal Caribbean(which we've never done), we are true Celebrity fans. They have that extra touch of class that never seems to waver. I like seeing a smiling face and a pleasant "good day" when I walk around the ship, and that's what I got. We were happy campers!!