Just got back a few hours ago and thought it would be good timing for me to mention some of the highlights as well as some of the "wish someone had told me that" points of The Baltic Cruise on Celebrity.
First off, this truly is a fantastic itinerary and we had the time of our lives.
That said, I will just briefly delve into some observations which may or may not prove useful for those of you planning this cruise.
1. Boat is fabulous. All Celebrity boats have been "Solsticized". I must tell you though that our cabin did seem smaller than on previous voyages but if this was so...it may have been due to the fact that the shower area is now much larger and quite nice.
2. Lovely service throughout the ship with very helpful personnel and staff.
3. Without any doubt, the nicest, most intelligent and interesting group of passengers we have eve come across. It was a delight to meet new people each evening from all over the world. The people helped to make this cruise extra special. There were less Americans on board than Australians, Scots and people from Britain. Loved meeting them!
4. Food is VERY GOOD. Now that I have said this, i also want to say that they did a tremendous job of catering to all tastes with a very wide variety of foods from all over the world. There was most definitely something for everyone. This was the positive. The negative:
The food is not as good as I remembered it from other cruises. This should really not be a major concern for anyone as the food is still very good, it's just not what it once was. I could give lenghty examples/explanations but what would be the point? This may well turn out to be a matter fo MY personal preference and certainly the food offered was head and shoulders above other cruise lines we've been on.
I, and several other passengers DID speak with Guest Relations regarding the charge for shuttle buses from the ship. With no other way to get to towns, you either would have to sign on for a celebrity tour or arrange private transportation. Celebrity charged for the shuttle to take you into town in several of these ports. As one person put it: Why are they hickel and dimining us to death here? In several of these ports, The Constellation did NOT receive the premiere spot in the port and there was NO WAY to get into town without transportation without walking miles in some cases. These shuttles, in these situations should be offered to their passengers free of charge. It was almost as though we were being punished for not having taken their excursions. It just felt cheap. I do understand that gasoline if crazy expensive in Europe but perhaps if they had told us about these costs up front, there might have been less disgruntled passengers.
Do NOT take the HOHO bus in Copenhagen unless you are prepared to :
1. Be left standing at times while the bus passes you by. This happened to several couples including myself and my hubby. My hubby ended up chasing the bus to no avail. What would have happened if we HAD TO BE on the ship and counted on this method of transport?
2. They are not honest about their pick up drop off locations. Several couples we spoke with were told they would be picked up in one place only to find out later that the location was given in error or "changed". I don't own a crystal ball..do you?
3. One woman told me about how she returned to her ship 15 minutes after she had been picked up by this bus because they wanted to see if there were more passengers.
4. We were delayed for 40 minutes in one place because they were playing a game of chicken with the tour buses. Not worth going into. Don't take these buses. They are totally unreliable. If you have had a good experience with them, count yourself amongst the very fortunate.
5. St. petersburg: We loved this port as everyone does and I think we covered it very thoroughly in the time we had at our disposal. There is a price to pay however. First off, the ten hour tours run you ragged and it is followed by a second day which although usually not as strenuous...is no walk in the park. If you want a leisurely tour or more time in the Hermitage, pick your tours very carefully. They ran us from 7:30 in the morning till almost 6 at night. Very few bathroom stops but we did indeed see everything and then some. We were on Alla tours. Get your running shoes ready. Very good tour but very strenuous.
It is very annoying to say the least, that we are not allowed to shop in stores we might want to in St. Petersburg as all the tour operators have deals upon deals with these souvenir shops , museums, etc. A drink of vodka is not what I was looking for inside these part junk/part high priced souvenir shops. This was disappointing for shopping purposes.
The open air buses were freezing. Several people we were with ended up becoming sick after this early morning romp in the cold. Yes, it was very unique to see the buildings this way and it's a wonderful idea but even going downstairs (where the windows were wide open) was still incredibly cold and drafty. Dress appropriately and think twice before taking this boat.
Pack a little snack and some water for this tour. You'll need it and they did not stop for us until the 1 pm lunch. This was Alla Tours and the first day we ate on the bus. We didn't come to St.Petersburg for the cuisine but this was very tacky. After a solid morning of running and more running, it would have been delightful to just sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and have use of the bathroom facilities. This was also not so easy to come by on this tour.
OUr guide, Angie was very knowledgeable about Churches and Palaces but knew practically nothing about Art. Know what you are truly interested in and if it is art..you should choose a different company for one of the days.
I don't know...we adored Talinn and if you don't go to the sweater market there, it would be a huge mistake. This port had the most reasonably priced souvenirs. In Helsinki..you must see Stockmann's Dept. Store. Also: lovely items, reasonably priced. Copenhagen was outrageous. We heard a story at dinner of one family who paid 60 dollars for two burgers and a drink. They also tried very hard there to charge us 60 dollars for two tea cakes and two teas.
Warnemunde and Rostock was a great day. The opera House in Stockholm was amazing.
I will come back later this week to see if anyone has any questions I might be able to answer. I would be most happy if I was helpful in sharing even one new thing you may not have known.
The weather was much better for us than previous weeks. You can't order the weather but i cannot imagine what this trip would have been like if it remained cold, damp, clammy and without sunshine when we were there. As it was, Amsterdam was a literal "wash out" but most of the other days eventually saw some sun at some point.
Very tired from this vacation though. It is definitely rigorous but you will have memories forever.
BTW...there was a fantastic accapella group on this ship called of all things "Lemon Squeezy". Bad name but the most brilliant singing. You will love them if they are on your ship. Truly exceptional young talents.