We recently went on the Baltic cruise and WOW, what an experience. Everything went so smoothly and met expectations that we thought all ships were like that. We are hooked on cruising now and are already planning our next voyage. Having recently read the reviews of another very well known ship, I was surprised to see a lot of unhappy people which made me realise how lucky we were to have chosen the Constellation for our first voyage.
We booked a cabin with a balcony but were upgraded to concierge class with a restricted view. I was at first disappointed but actually it was only a small metal structure which in no way restricted the view so we scored. The room was lovely and spacious with plenty of room to unpack all our things. The bathroom is small but very pretty with a fresh rose and all the guest amenities you would expect. The shower has a little wash line so you can rinse out a few things which dry quickly overnight so take a bit of washing powder with you.
The food was fantastic although for one or two nights, the choices in the San Marco restaurant were uninspiring. Sometimes the starter portion was very small but there is so much food, you can't possibly complain. The "brunch" organised towards the end of the trip was spectacular and beyond the imagination of the average person.
The buffet on 10th floor was really great and we often chose to eat there, specially breakfast. The variety is amazing and although some of the stations closed at different times of the day, there was always lots to choose from at any time of the day. Lots of people chose this option and it was very crowded but you never had to wait for more than a few minutes. tea, coffee, juice and water available 24h.
In my opinion, the "specialty restaurants" are superfluous. We did not use them.
We only took the St Petersburg excursion. The SA rand does not go very far and we felt the excursions to be expensive. Generally we walked into town, sometimes quite far, but you see things along the way. I would recommend that you do some research on what buses to catch and what you want to see before you sail e.g there are warnings about the HOHO buses in Copenhagen. I did this and could make the best of the day.
We booked the Celebrity St Petersburg 2 day excursion and although it was expensive we were not disappointed. It was fabulous - beyond expectation. You can't do this city justice on your own in 2 days. One review I read, suggested a tea break. He also mentioned that it was very strenuous. I am undergoing chemotherapy and did not feel tired at all. It is all so exciting and there is so much to see, you don't even think about a rest or have time for tea. Do some walking before your cruise and you will be ready for the 2 days.
The "on board" group of entertainers were excellent and their shows were magical. The "guest" entertainers were okay but I felt they could have saved a lot of money by using some of the lead "on board entertainers" to do their own show - they were that good - but I suppose that would make Celebrity look cheap!
The lectures were on interesting topics but the lecturer was so boring and did not seem to have a good knowledge of his topics. A real pity.
Our only gripe
Our only gripe was the beverage packages. We took the classic package at $44 per day plus 15% service fee. We misunderstood the explanation on the brochure, thinking that we had to pay for tea, coffee and water on the ship. The wording is misleading (but clear if you read it again) as you only have to pay for SPECIALITY tea, coffee and water eg Irish coffee. Even so, you are off the ship most of the time and it is almost impossible to use this package fully. When we found it did not suit us, we tried to cancel the package but the management would not move on the subject so we ended up paying over $1,100 unnecessarily.
This was really our fault but I did feel that the management could have seen we made a mistake and been more sympathetic.
All in all, I can highly recommend the Constellation for a wonderful and trouble free cruise. The ship was late coming into Amsterdam and we missed our flight but I don't see that as a reflection on the Celebrity or part of this review.