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50 Celebrity Dover Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise so I have written a review hopefully to inform those going on their first and review the ship and staff. Before your cruise. The information we received before was very good, I was not in charge of ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I have written a review hopefully to inform those going on their first and review the ship and staff. Before your cruise. The information we received before was very good, I was not in charge of organisation though but let me summarise thus: Pack for a normal holiday plus some really sharp suits, shirts and ties and you won't go far wrong. Also bring loads of medication because it is an American ship and healthcare there is unfamiliar. Getting there. Too easy for words as you head to the dock area in Southampton the road signs have special LED displays for which ship is boarding where. Then you turn onto that dock (no massive trucks or industry as such as it is further down the solent) and you arrive in a line of cars in the holding area where you can get out and look up at the enormous thing that is Eclipse (It dwarfed the French aircraft carrier in one port!). Once you get on that dockside you are done. They take over from there. From getting to the dock we said goodbye to our luggage (taken out of your car for you, but we were embarrassed so we helped) and parked. Short walk with hand luggage and suit carriers to the security where you are greeted by either very happy and helpful staff or extremely good actors. From leaving the car to getting on board we were about twenty minutes, no queues, no waiting, just checks at the desks and walking through to the ship. IT WAS BRILLIANT. No horrible airport to negotiate, no three hours wait for a three hour flight packed like sardines, just efficient happy service all the way to the ship, and when you get onboard you KNOW this is going to be something special. Our jaws dropped when we got on board. I have seen reviews saying this is not a 5star experience, they are, in my humble opinion very wrong indeed. The whole ship is gorgeous, not opulent in the dripping gold and gaudy carpet sense but sleek and stylish in a very classy way. For the car nerd, if I was expecting Lamborghini I got top of the range Aston Martin. Stateroom Excellent. Some reviews have mentioned storage space. I can only fear for what these people bring aboard. I had 5 suits, 14 shirts, loads of summer holiday clothes and I really overpacked. My girlfriend had 14 dresses and her summer holiday clothes and we had plenty of room. There is a good size wardrobe, draws, overbed storage and loads of room under the bed. The bathroom is solid and stylish, the shower excellent and plenty of storage in there too with even a thoughtful little rail in the shower for ladies to shave their legs. The rooms seem to exude those little thoughtful details that make two weeks in them seem like three days. A credit to their designers. Also everything was of excellent quality, well fitted and solid. The bed was massive, I am six foot and I got lost several times and had to call for assistance. The balcony was on one of the 'bulges' of the ship and I would recommend that as you looked right onto the sea rather than over a lifeboat which meant when the dolphins (yes) came really close you got a great view. (dolphins mainly in the bay of Biscay, watch out for them in the mornings... early). The TV also pulls out so you can watch it at the right angle from the bed. So stateroom excellent. Dining. I may not have cruised before but I have eaten at very good restaurants from New York to Athens and I can tell you, as a man for whom quality food is a delight, The Moonlight Sonata restaurant is brilliant. We took fixed dining at 8:45 so we were at the same table with my family each night and it worked very well for us. Gave us time for a drink before. Also there are always two shows on a night and if you have late dining you can usually choose which one you go to as the times work out well. The portions are perfect and we were always full but rarely uncomfortable. And if you want to have your main again or a second pudding all you need do is ask.... not me but my dad was known as 'two puds' by the end of the cruise. The same dining anywhere in the UK with white table cloths excellent service, wine waiter and four consistently delicious courses would cost £120 a couple every night. You can have breakfast lunch and dinner in the MSR but we had breakfast and lunch in the oceanview cafe mostly though there are other small eateries around the ship ranging from burger and chips or stir fry at the mast bar to light salads and snacks near the spa. If you were of such a mind you could eat yourself silly. Oceanview cafe breakfast was up to you. From blueberry pancakes with syrup to watermelon chunks. From a cardiac event enducing full English to museli followed by smoked salmon and cream cheese roll you are totally spoilt for choice. And here is my first crewmember mention, Donovan the coffee and Tea guy in a morning really puts a smile on everyone's face. Full marks that man. If you are waiting to go I will not spoil it for you, when it happens you will know. Our Moonlight Sonata Restaurant waiter was and Indian guy whose name is difficult but begins with A and he was brilliant, always happy and attentive and very very good at his work. His recommendations were always perfect and if you ordered something else apart from his recommendation he was always happy. One night I was ill and not at dinner and my family said he was very concerned and said he would bring me some food personally if I was up to it (I was not but you can't help feeling bowled over by that sort of service). Extra special mention for Zenyap our waitress who went above and beyond all the time. Small things like seeing what breads we were not eating on the first couple of nights and taking the time to prepare the bread basket before we arrived to what she knew we would prefer. Showing us some napkin folding and other little tricks that will make any dinner parties we throw just that little bit more special. The Maitre d' for our table (432) Akar I think his name was, was the definition of excellent. He ran a tight ship so to speak and always made sure we were happy. One night we could not have what we ordered for very understandable reasons and he was just fantastic. He made sure we could order that dish any time we wanted after that night and had a special plate of handmade chocolates sent to our room to apologise. The replacement dish was sirloin steak so good we all forgot about it very fast. Bars and clubs There are LOADS search them out and find your favourite. We ended up in the wine bar cellar master most nights before dinner. Dennis the Sommelier (wine waiter) in cellar masters was incredible. Friendly, knowledgeable and a genuinely excellent at what he did Dennis really made our cruise just that little bit more special. He took the time to get to know our preferences and would make little polite suggestions for things we might enjoy. If I am ever in a position serving people I want to be able to do it like Dennis, a gentleman. Gym and spa After all that food and drink you need to stay at your best. For this purpose there is a fantastic, modern and very well equipped gym which I used regularly. It is free, never full and there is a sauna waiting for you in the changing rooms with really posh showers after. The one stand out bad point for my girlfriend was the spa prices the equivalent of £200 for a 75 minute massage... £200! I want to write more on this and the spa prices and how much we wanted to use them but I do not have the heart. A massive shame. Destinations Gibraltar. A bit high street UK. You can walk off the ship into the town. Our tip is not to wait for the cable car up the rock but get a white but from one of the islanders. The saving is minimal but you get to see things better. Toulon We paid for the shuttle bus into Toulon at $15 euro each it was good value and air con. Toulon was nice and good for a walk round but you can also just get off the ship and walk around the little town where the dock is. Florence Beautiful Jewel of Tuscany. Pay for the bus ride from the port. It is about an hour and the Aussie guide Pete we had was funny, a resident, informative and let us nap on the way back rather than talk. A good guy. Florence it's self was gorgeous, historic and totally spoiled by sweating English and American cruise ship parties just like the one we were on. My BIG tip for Florence and Rome is to not go on a celebrity tour. Not that they don't look good tours. The guides we saw taking groups sounded great and very polite but the sight of 20-30 people in 100f heat having to walk around like a school party would bring the pity out of the hardest misanthrope. On your own with a book you can do as you please when you please and how. Celebrity are MASTERS however at organising the busses and embarkation/disembarkation. You book your tour before or during your cruise, then present yourself in the theatre at the time on your ticket, get a coloured sticker with your bus number on and leave within 5-10 minutes. No queues, no hassle. Rome Same bus transfer job. Same heat, less crowds, great fun. If you want to go into St Peters go first thing you do as you get off the bus. Otherwise the Q is too big... and I mean massive. Again Celebrity did a great job organising. Sardinia We were shattered after Rome and Florence so Sardinia... we are sorry. Cadiz Walk off the ship into the town, brilliant place, go see the fish market and Marks and Spencer will never look the same. Lisbon Shuttle again. Lisbon is beautiful and easy to walk round from the drop off point. If you go the hard rock cafe in Lisbon please frown at the lady waitress for me then withhold your custom. Lisbon has plenty of little cafes locally run which were good but open about eleven am. Vigo Again a walk off job. Vigo feels good. Like Cadiz it is a solid Spanish town with friendly locals good cafes etc. We were a but 'cathedraled out' by now though. Entertainment. The entertainment on board was great during the day and Amy who ran the quiz was a saint. Dru the Cruise Director tops my 'most likely to read Cruise Critic for his name' list and will be happy to find we thought he was great. Including the routine we got into of saying 'good morning Dru' when we switched on his cruise director channel in the mornings. The evening entertainment (the shows) were mixed. The Broadway type stuff and the circus one were brilliant and I have been to Broadway and West End stuff and I was more than happy. The rock and pop stuff was less so but the two don't really mix anyway. Stick to the glitzy musicals Celebrity that's what your stars do best! Disembarkation. So easy it makes my cry to think of ever having to go to an airport ever again. Overall this was an amazing holiday and if we can save up we would go celebrity again with no hesitation. I would say if you have kids most people said Royal Caribbean were more child orientated. There was plenty to do and a really good looking kids club but this really is an adult oriented ship. It was a shame the main pool was virtually off limits as families absolutely colonized the area and the pool was always full of kids unless you got up early. I have chickens at home, I would like to have brought them but they poo everywhere and I can't control them. So I did not bring them as I thought they would annoy other guests. Why can't people do this with children? However to Celebrity's eternal credit the enormous indoor solarium pool and Jacuzzis are adults only and we could always find space in there to relax. Those who wanted a sunbed on sea days when it was sunny have to be on deck before 8am to be sure and attendants are good enough to remove towels and books that are left for more than half an hour without use. We heard people complain that there were not enough sun beds but there are 2500 guests on board at 10am when they all want one. Get up early and you too can be smug and self satisfied knowing (watching them wander round like morons wondering why) having had a nice lie in they cannot find a prime spot. The early bird catches the worm. There is always somewhere to sit in the sun even if it is on the lawn at the back. Behaviour of other guests was generally good. The piercing and tattoo crowd have (of which I am a proud member) have largely been priced out and it is good to find yourself surrounded by people who behave better than you do and I consider myself quiet and considerate. Some of the moans are very funny if you can listen in. Some people are NEVER happy. I would ask those older couples who spend £5k plus on a holiday to do nothing but be moan why they don't go to Butlins where they can be PROPERLY miserable, have a REALLY good moan AND save themselves the price of a second hand Jaguar a tweed suit and a hearing aid. Even when pushed to the limit by these waddling clouds of perpetual despair the staff were relentlessly polite and friendly. Though I suspect anyone boarding who can offer cheap voodoo dolls of other guests would do a roaring trade with the pool staff and oceanview cafe waiters who often bore the brunt with class and grace. If you like a drink get the drinks package. The drinks are extortionate otherwise. We drink an average amount and if we hadn't have had the drinks package we would have spent about£1450 as it was we spent £980 for the two of us and had a great time. My brother who can drink quite a bit and his wife who also appreciates the odd tipple got through £2500 of drinks. The package saved them LOTS of money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
The disappointment set in on arrival at Southampton although we had booked disabled parking we were directed else where. The boarding process was also disappointing compared to princess the previous year. The ship had the wow factor and ... Read More
The disappointment set in on arrival at Southampton although we had booked disabled parking we were directed else where. The boarding process was also disappointing compared to princess the previous year. The ship had the wow factor and was very clean and tidy. Our biggest disappointments was in the food on Grand Princess we were told if we did not like what was on the menu we only had to ask and the would supply whatever we wanted and they did. This was not the case on Eclipse when I asked for alternatives I was told that was how it comes take it or leave it more of less. The menu was boring and repetitive and I heard this repeated many times by other clients. Boarding tours was slick and professional with Princess it was badly organised and badly run by Eclipse staff. On returning to the ship things were much better with iced towels and drinks on the quay for guests. The entertainment was ranged from good to boring while we were on board. Lectures seemed to be badly placed as the most popular got the smallest rooms and the least popular the largest. Overall we did enjoy our cruise but would not be in a hurry to book again with Eclipse and would probably go with Princess or P & O. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first time on Celebrity was we was a little unsure what to expect after reading so many reviews on cruise critic and other sites after reading review after review with people saying "It's full of old people" we ... Read More
This was our first time on Celebrity was we was a little unsure what to expect after reading so many reviews on cruise critic and other sites after reading review after review with people saying "It's full of old people" we are 38 & 43 and I would say the average age was 50-60 and we had more fun with the people we met on this cruise then any other we have ever taken. Embarkation was a dream we arrived at 10:20am and was on the ship at 11am what a great start to the cruise. We opted for Aqua-class and had cabin 1603 a hump cabin with balcony and boy was we pleased such a great location in the middle of the ship and right near the lifts and no we never heard any noise apart from one afternoon when getting changed we could hear the band playing at the poolside. Blu... we had read so much about Blu and was really looking forward to dining there however the first night was not good they had a very small selection of starters and nothing I liked :( so I ordered the steak for the main course that arrived cold so ended up ordering room service not good when you pawy the extra for Blu and end up with burger and frys in your cabin however the following night we was informed there had been alot of problems in Blu and this would not happen again,the food in Blu is good but only ever warm I made a point of telling them I liked my food piping hot and this was seen to with no problem another point worth mentioning was three times we was given a plate or saucer with a chip in it surely the kitchen should see this when plating up ? so for all of the above I would give Blu 3 out of 5 the main benefit for us was not having to dine in the main dining room that was very crowded and the tables and chairs far to close to one another. The brunch buffet was a total nightmare it was more like a bun fight :(( there was huge ques both sides of the dining room and you could not even see the food the chefs had prepared because of the amount of people so we left and had lunch in the ocean view cafe it was lovely and quiet bliss :)) I think Celebrity should address the brunch better in future so everyone gets to enjoy it. So overall for food I would again rate it 3 out of 5. The entertainment was brilliant and the best we we have seen so far in St-P they had some Russian dancers come aboard to do a show for us and this was great. The circus act was also very good and worth seeing again. Service was probably the best we have ever received on a cruise ship every member of staff smiled and said hello when walking past you from the cleaners to the captain and nothing was ever to much for the staff to ensure you was happy and enjoying your holiday. Shore Excursions.. next time I will do far more research on ports because like all cruise company's Celebrity love selling you there shuttle tickets and some points of interest was only 10-15 Min's walk from the ship and they charged you $10-15 a time. OK we had issues with the warm food and poor service in Blu the first night but would we book again ? you bet we have booked to return next year :)) Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We embarked on the 18th June in Southampton - very smooth process, everyone was helpful and we were parked and on the ship in less than half an hour. Basically a walk on. Our room was not ready till 1pm, so we headed for the ... Read More
We embarked on the 18th June in Southampton - very smooth process, everyone was helpful and we were parked and on the ship in less than half an hour. Basically a walk on. Our room was not ready till 1pm, so we headed for the Oceanview Cafe for lunch. Crowded but not overly so. We found a table easily and had a nice lunch. Our stateroom was on the 7th deck, in mid ship, starboard. It was very spacious, and we had enough room to unpack all our 6 suitcases. Managed to find room for everything. Suitcases fitted well inside one another under the bed. Some people complained that there was a lack of drawers, but we were ok with the storage provided. There are large storage cupboards above the bed (have to stand on the bed to get to your stuff, but that's ok). There was kettle and things to make tea and coffee with. I have heard that not all sailings have that facility but only those that sail from Southampton due to the large proportion of UK cruisers. The balcony was very private - noone can look from the top, bottom or side. The bathroom was amazingly large - biggest shower cubicle we've had in any cabin. Shower was very powerful, and there is a leg shaving rest for ladies!The toiletries supplied were of very superior quality so that I didn't feel a need to use my own as I have done on previous cruises. The dining was superb. We had freedom dining and could dine anytime between 6 - 930pm. The food was excellent and the service amazing. They couldn't do enough to please you. We were so pleased with it that we never felt a need to try any of the speciality restaurants. However, on the last night, we ventured into Qsine - amazing experience. Really good service and food. Breakfast and Lunch we had in the Aquaspa Cafe next to the Spa Fitness area. It served a variety of healthy options which we thought was excellent. Organic breads, homemade jams, lots of fruit, beautiful salads. The shows in the evening were top notch. Amazing shows from their own dancers and the celebrities they brought in were of very high quality as well, from comedian to violinist & hypnotist. The other guests on board were mostly able bodied over 50s. There were hardly any children (maybe we saw about 20). Apparently children are not common on this ship due to other ships providing more facilities and onboard entertainment for them. This factor was one of the things that made this cruise so enjoyable and relaxing. The pool area was very civilised. The sunbeds were plentiful, people didn't really hog them and were quite polite. The beds were padded and very comfortable. There were even double sunbeds and various interesting looking comfy chairs for sitting or lying on. The indoor pool area was useful on cool wet days at sea. We were not in Aquaspa class, but we were able to purchase use of the Persian Gardens for a fee (about $200 for 2 of us for the 14 days). We used it quite a lot for relaxing in, after a day touring, and on sea days. Well worth it if you like that kind of thing, and much cheaper than booking an aquaspa stateroom. There were heated stonebeds, mild sauna and steam room. All communal which was a plus for us. Otherwise there are separate saunas in the changing rooms for men and women. Altogether this was a wonderfully relaxing mostly adult cruise. People we met were really nice and the crew couldn't do enough. I made a complaint one day about some misinformation they gave us in Stockholm - the concierge sent us a bottle of wine, a glass of chocolates, 2 free shuttle tickets for Copenhagen, and refunded our shuttle for Stockholm that we'd purchased! Talk about trying their best. We would certainly cruise with Celebrity again. They are the fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was our second Celebrity cruise but the first on Eclipse Embarkation was so smooth, it really didn't take any time at all and Southampton is well organised for ships as large as the Eclipse. The room was ready and ... Read More
This was our second Celebrity cruise but the first on Eclipse Embarkation was so smooth, it really didn't take any time at all and Southampton is well organised for ships as large as the Eclipse. The room was ready and excellent;plenty of room, neat, clean with friendly staff meeting you. We really liked the design. We did Select Dining and didn't have to wait more than 15 mins on any night in the Moonlight Sonata dining room. We saw a variety of waiting staff who were all excellent and attentive, remembering you even if they did not serve you that night. At this point we must say how wonderful the staff were; they never failed to speak as you walked by them and could not do enough to please you. They were so patient with those who considered it was their place to criticise, far more than we could have been. How mealie-mouthed some people can be! We enjoyed the trip around the kitchens and the Head Chef proved very entertaining, as was Que. The entertainment was OK although we would personally have preferred more comedy.We enjoyed the Behind the Podium lectures We bought a Rick Steve's guide to use to walk around the ports on our own; our advice is that if you are fit do most of these ports on your own, language is not usually a barrier and the buses, trams and trains are reliable and cheaper. Disembarkation was excellent and slick yet we didn't feel they were in a hurry to get rid of us to clean the cabins for the next trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We liked the stateroom and the quality build of the ship. It certainly has a wow factor.iLounge was brilliant with really good staff - computer courses were good and entertaining too.Smoking - there is a no smoking policy which does not ... Read More
We liked the stateroom and the quality build of the ship. It certainly has a wow factor.iLounge was brilliant with really good staff - computer courses were good and entertaining too.Smoking - there is a no smoking policy which does not appear to be enforced. People were smoking on their balconies throughout the cruise. Smoking is permitted in the Sky Observation Lounge in a corner on the port side which makes the whole lounge unusable for non-smokers.Food - (in the main dining room)disappointing. One starter was just a wedge of iceberg lettuce with an ordinary tomato sliced over it - no other garnish. Lobster bisque tasted as though it came out of a packet. Did not dare to try the speciality restaurants.Oceanview cafe - beverage stations were badly laid out leading to queues of frustrated people. Supplies of teabags kept running out.Staff - not very motivated, some quite surly/miserable.Cruise Director - where did they get him from? I've seen amateur MCs do better.Entertainment - otherwise very enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Celebrity Cruises, ship Eclipse, 14 days, Southampton return. The Eclipse is a new ship having been launched in April 2010 and it is amazing. It's huge, holds 2,800 passengers and was sold out on our trip. New ship, it gets a 10 out ... Read More
Celebrity Cruises, ship Eclipse, 14 days, Southampton return. The Eclipse is a new ship having been launched in April 2010 and it is amazing. It's huge, holds 2,800 passengers and was sold out on our trip. New ship, it gets a 10 out of 10. We had a balcony cabin and it was identical to every other cabin we have had while cruising. The only difference was the layout. Every second cabin the beds are reversed - near the window or near the washroom. As usual, great cabin staff. Dining was available in the Main dining room, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Main dining room food gets a 10 out of 10 for presentation but 7 out of 10 for quality. In other words, it looked better than it tasted. Our dinner on the final night was really bad - both my spouse and I spent a great deal of the late evening hours on the throne. Also had the "Lido" deck buffet style for three meals each day. The Lido gets a 6 out of 10 for food. The layout of this areas is confounding. People are going in every direction and a great number of them pay no attention. There were also three specialty dining rooms open for dinner - Qsine, Murano, and Tuscany. We tried Tuscany (Italian) and it gets a 7 out of 10 for both categories. The Murano (French) gets a solid 10 out of 10 for each. It was a wonderful experience. The service in all areas was at par but for the price I would have expected something a little better, especially since they had said to staff the new ship they took the best from the rest of the fleet. Ports of call - Zeebrugges Belgium, Warnemunde Germany, Stockholm Sweden, Helsinki Finland, St. Petersburg Russia, Tallin Estonia, and Rotterdam Netherlands. It was a part of the world we had never been to, so we really did not know what to expect. In a lot of ways it is not a lot different from parts of North America. Sailing into Stockholm reminded us all of the 1,000 islands in the St. Lawrence. The best stop for us was St. Petersburg. It's easy to understand why there was a revolution. The concentrated wealth that must have been in that city is incredible! All in all a nice cruise. It gets a 7 out of 10. Of our four cruises it rates behind the Eastern Med. and Alaska but above the Caribbean. Complaints? Too many kids on the ship left on their own, i,e. running up and own the halls at 2 in the morning. (that's a chance you take with a summer cruise which is about the only time you can get to this part of the world with any chance of good weather - which was sunny and high 70's every day. Only rained twice and that was overnight). This cruise had 5 of the 14 days at sea. With the great weather there was not enough outdoor space. It was also not necessary to have 5 sea days. The last day was a sea day and I could have rowed faster! They were just killing time as the second officer told me during our tour of the bridge. Only other complaint was just the size of the ship. While the ship itself was new and spectacular, I think size has an impact on the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen in the main dining room. By the way, they also ran out of stuff like skim milk, some types of soft drinks, and some brands of beer. Would I sail with Celebrity again? Maybe yes, maybe no. Given a choice between Holland America and Celebrity, I would likely select Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We just got off a long anticipated cruise to the Baltic on Celebrity Cruise Line's Constellation and the one word that keeps slipping through my lips is "underwhelmed". For my 71st cruise and my partner's first to the ... Read More
We just got off a long anticipated cruise to the Baltic on Celebrity Cruise Line's Constellation and the one word that keeps slipping through my lips is "underwhelmed". For my 71st cruise and my partner's first to the Baltic we did a lot of research and settled on this ship for a number of reasons: the itinerary was fantastic, hitting the major ports of the Baltic with ample time in most cities, as well as overnights in St. Petersburg (essential) and Copenhagen (nice). We also got a very good price at a time when Celebrity was practically giving cabins away. While earlier CC Member Reviews had caused us to keep our distance from this ship, we had seen enough good ones recently to tempt us into throwing caution to the wind and booking. While we are certainly glad we went on this trip, our enjoyment came almost exclusively from the wonderful group of passengers on board (many of whom we met here at Cruise Critic) and the superbly interesting cities we got to see and explore. A fellow passenger said something on our last night that we had thought for the past week... "It was an OK enough cruise for the low price we paid, but if I had shelled out the original cruise price I would have been very, very angry today." That more or less sums up what Celebrity has become. My review of this ship and cruise is based on what Celebrity claims to be and on what they actually deliver. There were many points during the cruise when we thought... "Hmmm, these are obvious cost cutting measures due to the financial times," but as there were so many examples of poor management and lackluster, sometimes aggressive and rude staff throughout the week that in the end we came to the conclusion that Celebrity is nowhere near the level of a 5 star cruise line that they claim to be or once might have been. While I tend to write longer reviews when I am a bit pissed off then when happy, to help you out if you are thinking about booking this ship I will tell you basically: • Don't pick this ship if you are picky about consistent good service or follow-through on requests • Food on Celebrity is nothing special anymore, but it is decent enough sustenance for your intense port excursions and a good alternative to very expensive dining in Baltic and Scandinavian countries • Prices for very average wines were very high and one beer will cost you $5; martinis $10 with an 18% service charge! • Don't waste your money on suites or Concierge Class, book a balcony though! • Don't expect elegance • Entertainment at night was abysmal and daytime entertainment is mostly revenue based so be prepared to entertain yourself • The ports and time in port are VERY good, but the ship lies about independent tour and transportation possibilities. Really.. they out and out LIED both verbally and in print! • This is NOT a 5, or even a 4, star vessel/line Now for the details... We had a super experience getting to the ship thanks to some good research. Harwich as a cruise port is somewhat problematic to reach if you are flying into Heathrow and unless you are coming to London a few days earlier it makes sense to shell out the very high cost of $200 roundtrip to take the Celebrity shuttle - otherwise you'll have a bit of an ordeal getting your luggage and self to the ship. Heathrow to Harwich requires getting to Liverpool Street Station in London either by the Tube or taxi (not fun on a Saturday at the best of times, but with luggage a nightmare) and then transferring to "The Cruise Train" which stops directly at the entrance to the cruise terminal. As work is being done on the lines on various weekends that the ship sails from Harwich, you must leave the cruise train, schlep your luggage to a bus, go a short distance, and then get back on the train. Too much drama to start a cruise and absolutely not for older folks, out of shape folks, or princesses like me. Instead, we were able to take the ferry from Hoek van Holland which was a very nice and pleasant car ride from our home in Germany, spent the day in Delft, and then board the ferry for a nice overnight journey to Harwich. The ferry docked directly behind the Constellation and we were able to wheel our luggage down one ramp and deposit it 50 meters away at the cruise ship doorstep. PERFECT and we shall do it again!!! As easy as all that was, we experienced the first of what came to symbolize the lack of training and knowledge that the Celebrity Constellation came to represent over our 2 weeks on board. At check in we stopped to drop our bags off and the baggage handlers had a totally different room number than our documents: not a major drama, but also confusing because we had chosen our cabin and upgraded to a Concierge Class balcony two weeks before as this was my partner's 40th birthday and we wanted a special room. The man had no idea why we had a new cabin number nor did anyone at the Concierge Class check in. After making us wait about 10 minutes and causing us considerable consternation we were told simply to go to the reception on board and they would clear it all up for us. Check in itself was smooth, orderly, and quick aside from the cabin switch, but we were seriously worried as we boarded the ship that an error had been made and we had lost our lovely CC balcony. Imagine our relief and surprise when we found out we had been upgraded to a Sky Suite! Fantastic news and a wonderful thing to have happened... but why all the drama we wondered? Why wasn't the check in staff sufficiently informed of this simple and routine change? Instead of being able to proudly and happily say to us upon embarkation..."We are pleased to tell you that you have been upgraded to a Sky Suite," the disorganization and confusion at check in had only produced anxiety. OK... first day and VERY EASY to forgive and forget...WE HAD A SUITE!!!!!!!!! On the other hand... note to self... things that should be simple and basic are not that way at Celebrity! Our room was nicely appointed and we were very happy as we found the large bathroom with a bathtub, large teak decked balcony with comfortable chairs, and semi-walk in closet. What a nice surprise to also find that we had a butler and two stateroom attendants who promptly introduced themselves. We explained that we are pretty low maintenance cruisers and very tidy, and that we require only two things during our cruise: ice at 9am 3pm and turn down, and daily refills of all toiletries...other than that, we're good. Even today, the last of the 14 day cruise, we still have to consistently ask and remind the cabin stewards for toiletries and ice. Is that 5 star service? Ask daily and you will get it? It may seem like a minor inconvenience or annoyance... but why, in a Sky Suite (or any room) should you have to repeatedly ask for the most basic things? Very poor! Which brings us to the suite itself; our initial reaction was very excited and happy to have been upgraded, but by the last day we found ourselves wishing we had had our original balcony cabin. Why you might ask? Because for 2 weeks our toilet NEVER ONCE worked properly and we had to pour water into the commode every single time we used it in order for it to flush and our shower had little to no water pressure unless it was set to scalding hot. Again we asked ourselves... THIS IN A SUITE??? In itself, those problems are bad enough, however, we reported the problem to our steward, to our butler, to the Concierge, and twice to the front desk and we NEVER ONCE got an answer or a reply or a repair. Is that Celebrity's idea of treating us like stars? If the problem was not able to be repaired during our stay, fair enough, but a note, a phone call, a message, anything to let us know what the situation was would have been nice...however... that seems beyond the ability of the Constellation staff. Happily my partner tipped me 20€ at the end of the sailing for having maintained the toilet. Oh... and FYI... the toilet paper on board is cheap and AWFUL! The staff overall we found to be unfriendly. This contrasted with the views of a few of our fellow friends on board, but each morning in the breakfast buffet area we had to say good morning to the staff rather than the other way around, our thank you(s) went unanswered in most cases, and we were hard pressed to see a smile anywhere. By the end of the cruise we'd come to the conclusion that the sour attitudes were a result of a severely understaffed ship. Tables were left un-cleared for long periods of time during breakfast and lunch and when they did clear them, they gave the table only a cursory swipe with a cloth instead of truly cleaning the tables off, there was practically no one to carry trays for older or handicapped people, coffee-lemonade-and utensils were often empty and it took several requests to get them filled, and the serving staff seemed uninterested in both what and who they were serving. The buffet area itself is not very pretty and had a cold, utilitarian feel to it...but worse there is absolutely no flow at all, no rhyme or reason to the lines of where one should enter the buffet and where one should leave it. This resulted in people coming to certain points of the buffet from both directions and getting irritated when other people cut in front of them to order eggs, toast, cuts of meats, etc. The staff was no help in keeping order and on more than one occasion I heard them being rude to guests... so much so that on the second to the last day I spoke up to a particularly nasty employee who I'd heard speaking rudely to a woman who was simply trying to order an omelet. Perhaps the staff follows the lead of the management...as each morning my partner and I would sit in the back section eating breakfast and watching the two dining room managers drink coffee, smoke, and chat with each other all while tables were dirty and the lone, solitary bus boy was overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. Yet this was not limited to the buffet. Out of the friends we made on board a few of them had fantastic waiters...which one expects from Celebrity. However, we, and several others we know, had terrible service (not the first time, either!) Our wait staff was so bad that by the end of the first week we had abandoned the dining room altogether: surly waiter, long waits between courses, bread and water often did not appear until well after the first course had been served, repeated requests for tea or refills, coffee NEVER came until desert was over, no dining recommendations, no pleasantries on arrival... nothing. In the first 7 days our waiter asked our table only once if we had enjoyed our meal, which is funny because once he laid the plates on our table he and our bus boy would disappear so when we did need sauce, horseradish, etc. it was impossible to get. It was truly bad. There are other examples of snide comments and poor presentations by staff (don't bother to go to the so called Elegant Tea -especially if you are British) but I think you all get the point. Forget entertainment on this ship and be prepared to keep yourself busy reading, playing a game or two with people you meet, or basically gazing out the window because there is next to NOTHING to do on board during the day that is not revenue based. As trivia buffs, we were happy to see that there were 3 or 4 per day, but mostly Celebrity's idea of entertainment are fee based tastings, spa activities, dismal sales of embarrassingly overpriced sub standard Russian crap ( I mean crafts ) or other similar types of activities. We did attend the enrichment lectures which started out funny enough: the speaker could NOT be seen over the lectern and she ironically began her discussion by asking everyone to say Hi to her when they saw her around the ship. That being the only laugh of the presentation, she proceeded to put every member of the audience to sleep - seriously... do you cruise directors ever actually LISTEN to these people before you hire them? There are plenty of dynamic speakers around... please find them!!!! Hell, I'll do it! You know that things will be dismal when the Cruise Director begs people to clap for him, but the evening shows were really bad and I found myself longing for Simon Cowell to come on board and rip them to shreds; we usually left after 10 minutes. Aside from that, the piano player in Michael's Bar is QUITE GOOD, but so loud you could't talk; yet nor are you invited to sing along. The bar in the Rendezvous Lounge was also good, but again, if you wanted to talk and be heard you had to go upstairs to the second floor. They also had a VERY good guitarist and quartet who play in the Cave Cafe or whatever it is called... one could spend a nice evening listening to them, but we always felt rude trying to talk if they were playing... so again... kind of difficult. This brings us to the Bar at the Edge of the Torn Fabric Tablecloth, possibly the absolute tackiest and ugliest room I have ever seen on a ship, on land or anywhere else on earth for that matter. Sitting under the torn fabric which hangs from the ceiling was mildly amusing, but the music here was so loud that it hurt my ears and we soon tired from screaming to be heard by the people we went with. No visit here lasted more than 10 minutes either. In the end, we were glad we had a roomy suite to hang out in, even if the toilet never worked. At least we could watch the same 5 shows on the television over and over without screaming at each other. Yet despite those things, we still had a wonderful cruise. Why? THE PORTS!!! This is definitely a great cruise for exploring some of the most beautiful cities in the world! DO NOT FEEL INTIMIDATED TO DO THINGS ON YOUR OWN!!! Especially in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Talinn! While the ship out and out lied to people about available transportation in these ports, do some research (or ask me) and you will have a MOST FANTASTIC experience! We used Alla Tours in St Petersburg and can honestly say they were one of the most professional companies we have ever used. We found them here in CC and are very thankful to the people who wrote about them! One thing that we really do have to thank Celebrity for, however, was the lovely Cruise Critic party they threw for us, along with a private Bridge Tour! If you are here on CC... go to your sailing date on the boards and sign up for the party! You will be glad you did, not just because CC members seem to be the NICEST people on the sea, but because the cruise line really did a nice job of showing their appreciation (which is a good thing since the past passenger programs are now practically non-existent!) Would we sail Celebrity again? Not unless it was super bargain basement priced and going to fantastic ports that allow us to spend maximum time off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Transatlantic Cruise Dover, England to Bayonne, New Jersey Celebrity Constellation September 15-27, 2007 Our Flight We are great proponents of flying to England during the day and arriving at our destination at least a day or two ... Read More
Transatlantic Cruise Dover, England to Bayonne, New Jersey Celebrity Constellation September 15-27, 2007 Our Flight We are great proponents of flying to England during the day and arriving at our destination at least a day or two before our sailing date. American Airlines and British Airways both offer morning flights between Boston and Heathrow that meet our needs. Our experience this year reaffirmed our belief that this is the best way to cope with the rigors of transatlantic travel and jet lag and to reduce or eliminate any chance that we will miss the ship. Our American Airlines flight was on a Boeing 777, that is, to my mind, one of the most comfortable planes in their fleet. The seating is 2 -5-2 and Rita and I were able to reserve our preferred window and aisle seats with no middle seat. The flight, which departed on time at 9:00am on September 13th, was not full, so some passengers were able to stretch out across several seats. Meal service was far better than we expected with breakfast served shortly after take off and a sandwich and dessert as well as a snack served later on. TVs in every seatback provided us with a choice of films or TV programs to fill the estimated six and one half hours of flying time. One channel permitted us to track the progress of our flight as we wended our way across the Atlantic towards our destination. Our flight actually landed an hour early and there was a fifteen minute wait until a gate could be found to accommodate us. Unfortunately, the time saved went for naught, since the line at immigration was interminable and it took us two full hours to get to the inspectors who cleared us as quickly as possible. When we proceeded to the luggage area, our bags had already been removed from the carousel that was now carrying luggage from another, later flight. Once we found our bags and exited the baggage claim area, we were met by our driver and were led outside to where the bus for all four couples was waiting. The bus was roomy and comfortable and it was a pleasant two hour ride to Dover with a brief restroom and refreshment stop enroute. We arrived at the Best Western Churchill shortly after midnight and were quickly checked in. After a drink or two in the lobby bar we retired to our rooms for a well-deserved rest. When we awoke the following morning we were pretty well rested and ready to explore Dover. Dover We were pleasantly surprised by Dover, which is a much prettier port and town than we had been led to believe. Our room looked out on the harbor and there were three ships in port on Friday- the Norwegian Dream, the Astoria, and the Maxim Gorky. The town itself reminded me of Newport, Rhode Island, with lots of shops and restaurants. The white cliffs are remarkable and Dover Castle and the wartime tunnels made a great destination. Views from the top of the castle were terrific and the weather was wonderful here as it would be for the rest of our trip. When the driver delivered us to the hotel, he stopped at what we took to be the front of the hotel, which faces the water, so when we made arrangements to have a taxi pick us up to take us to Dover Castle, we waited outside for over an hour to no avail. A local gentleman passing by and seeing our situation went inside and then came out to inform us that the other side of the hotel (what we considered the back entrance) was in fact the front of the hotel and the area where taxis made their pick up. Even though they heard us making arrangements for a taxi to pick us up, none of the hotel staff volunteered the information as to where we should expect the taxi to be, but helpfulness was not a strong point of the hotel staff. Once we were aware of the proper spot to get a taxi, we managed to get s woman cabbie with a van that held the eight of us, to drive us to Dover Castle. She left her card with us so that we could call her when we were finished with our tour. The grounds of the Castle were well maintained and we enjoyed watching hundreds of school children engaged in recreations of knightly battles. It was a long climb to the top of the Castle but those of us who made it were rewarded with great views of the surrounding areas. Before leaving we took a tour of the underground tunnels that were used in World War II. That evening we met about thirty of our fellow cruisers for dinner at Cullin's Yard, a very good restaurant just a short walk from our hotel. It was our first chance to put faces to some of the names we had become familiar with over the months of posting on the Cruise Critic roll call. We would meet many more folks the following day at the sailaway. English breakfasts are expensive and the one at our hotel at 10 pounds per person was certainly priced well beyond its worth. Many of the items in a full English breakfast are not destined to be popular with American tourists - stewed tomatoes, fried bread, mushrooms, black pudding, beans in tomato sauce, along with eggs and British bacon - are not, to my mind at least, a culinary delight. Suffice it to say that on our second morning, we ventured out of the hotel and located a coffee shop where we were able to get bagels, fresh-baked muffins, and tea and coffee for a more reasonable tariff. Air conditioning was not available in our hotel room so it was necessary to open the window to get some cool air. Only upon check out did we see a notice that mentioned that fans were available upon request. The company that chauffeured us from Heathrow to the hotel, also picked us up at the hotel before noon and deliver us to the cruise terminal. Check in at the pier was quick and efficient and we were quickly onboard. By one o'clock we had eaten lunch at the Seaside Cafe and deposited our carry-ons in our Sky Suite The Cruise Celebrity exceeded my expectations and, in general, I was favorably impressed by my recent experience on my transatlantic cruise onboard Celebrity's Constellation, Checking in and boarding around noon was quick and efficient and our first stop was at the Seaside Cafe for lunch. Determining what was available at the various stations along the buffet line was a bit confusing but the food that I selected was quite good. We sat out in the open area of the aft section of the Cafe. It is a much smaller area than the similar area on Radiance class ships, due perhaps to the "chopped off" aspect of the aft of the Constellation. When we dined in the buffet the following morning we were most fortunate to sit in a section served by Nicolus who was most attentive to our needs and immediately recognized us when we returned later for lunch and for the rest of the meals that we did not take in the dining room or the specialty restaurant. Rita drinks tea and not coffee and he was constantly bringing her fresh cups. One day when I found a free table, he suddenly appeared and picked up my tray and took me to a table where Rita and our traveling companions were already seated. (I hadn't seen them). The waffle station was close by his section and for the first few days, before everyone discovered these delightful breakfast treats, the lines were negligible. Not so later in the cruise when the crowds lined up for the waffles and/or pancakes created delays of fifteen minutes or more. While I liked the waffle, omelet, and pasta stations, the buffet line arrangement was not, IMHO, as satisfactory as the food station arrangement on Royal Caribbean ships. The location of some items was just not intuitive and coming upon the bread station after one has passed the location where butter is available meant for frequent backtracking. Also if you only wanted to get a bowl of hot cereal, you had to step around people in line for the other items on the buffet line, and risk their wrath for what they viewed as cutting in front of them. Dinner in the dining room in the evenings was similar in some ways to what the dining experience on RCI used to be, with trays of bread being placed on the table, and pads of butter rather than foil wrapped packet. Menu selections were the typical appetizer, soup, salad , entrEe and desserts selections. Main courses were usually a choice of pasta, fish, meat (pork, veal or lamb) and beef (steak or prime rib). The prime rib I had on the first night was as good a piece of beef as I can remember, but prime rib on a subsequent menu was far less satisfactory. In general, the food was good, some excellent, others acceptable but not noteworthy, Service in the dining room was attentive but we may have had a new, inexperienced waiter, since he seemed less comfortable engaging in any dialogue with us. On our one experience with open seating in the dining room (the night we were in Le Havre), we were served by a very personable and excellent waiter, who also worked in the morning buffets and never failed to greet us when he saw us following our one meal at his table. If I were to compare the evening dining experience on Celebrity with that on Royal Caribbean, I would give Celebrity slightly higher marks. On one evening during the cruise, we elected to dine in Ocean Liners, the extra fee restaurant, on the ship. The fee is $30 pp if you choose their regular menu, $65 if you, and all at your table, choose what they refer to as the Menu Exceptional. French service is the order of the day, with your selections prepared tableside and served in a manner that I find a bit pretentious. (The food is placed in front of you in a covered dish by a waiter for each diner, and at an unspoken signal by the lead waiter, the waiters uncover the plates simultaneously. As a matter of personal taste I find the menu selection in Chops on Royal Caribbean to be more to my liking and a bit more extensive than the menu in Oceanliners. The service in Oceanliners is more formal but that to my mind, at least does not justify the additional cost. Entertainment It was pretty much typical of what we have experienced on all of the cruise lines we have sailed with - some quite good and some less appealing. Most of the evening entertainment was provided in the popular Rendezvous Lounge which offered music for pre and post dinner dancing, in Michael's Club, where the very popular singer-pianist, Perry Grant entertained overflow crowds nightly, and the Celebrity theater that offered a variety of headliners and production shows. The production shows were excellent and when sea conditions required that they postpone one of the production shows, the cabaret show that they substituted featuring two of the lead singers from the cast of singers and dancers, were fabulous. The very unusual Bar at the Edge of the Earth served as the disco and late night entertainment venue. It is my understanding that the Bar at the Edge of the Earth owes its dEcor to Celebrity's onetime collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, but the moonscape atmosphere (it looks sort of like an area decorated with toilet paper on Halloween) seems very out of place on a ship where the dEcor and style is far more subdued and refined. Furthermore in the front of the room which also serves as a forward observation lounge, there are benches turned to face the dance floor rather than the ocean and there are a series of four, what at first glance, appeared to be canopy beds, which set off groupings of four upholstered chairs around a table. It was this lounge that served as the gathering place for the Cruise Critic Connections party on our first day at sea, and as the site of the Officers cocktail party for Captain's Club members later in the cruise. There were some curtained off areas which lead me to believe that at some point they plan to redecorate this lounge and restore it to its earlier appearance when it was called Reflections and was more in keeping with the overall dEcor of the ship. Several interesting lectures were offered during the sea days including presentations by Richard Underwood who provided fascinating insights into the NASA space program and showed some spectacular pictures taken from Space, and cruise historian John Maxtone Graham, who along with his wife Mary, offered a series of lectures on transatlantic crossings and who provided a terrific account of the sinking of the Titanic and the stories of some of the survivors. The theater was filled to capacity for all of his presentations. Thalassotherapy Pool The Thalassotherapy pool on Constellation is located in a covered area between the outside pools and the spa and is similar in appearance to the Solariums on RCI. There are two Jacuzzis next to the pool and a number of lounge chairs and tables and chairs. Serving stations offer a small selection of healthy foods and desserts. The pool is heated to the degree that I could not differentiate between the water in the pool and that in the hot tubs. Those looking for a pool similar to the one in the RCI solariums might be disappointed with the Thallasotherapy pool but those who enjoy the soothing warm water might find it both relaxing and restorative. On sea days during our transatlantic crossing this area was always filled with guests. Staterooms We were in a Sky suite, which turned out to be handicapped accessible. The room was very roomy and conveniently located on deck 8 near the library and around the corner from a bank of glass elevators. As roomy as the suite was the storage space was unusually minimal, especially for a 12 night cruise. The bathroom was exceptionally large due to the fact that it was a handicapped accessible room with a roll in roll out shower. The arrangement for bathroom towels was a bit odd, with racks of bath towels next to the sink and racks for hand towels all the way across the room, next to the toilet. I took to placing a hand towel on top of the bath towels so that I could turn from the sink and grab it instead of crossing the bathroom floor with dripping wet hands. However, there was another, more serious, problem with our bathroom - a strong and unpleasant odor that reeked of mold. We mentioned it to the room steward and he promised to take care of it. When it was just as bad the following day we complained again. When we returned to the ship after our tour, we found the room steward, a couple of plumbers and the chief housekeeper in the stateroom apparently working on resolving the problem. Despite their efforts and assurances that the problem had been attended to, it persisted. Since we were in ports and off the ship for much of the first four days of the cruise, we were not aware that the problem had not gone away until we returned late each day. Continued complaints, including a visit by my wife to Guest relations, managed to get us an early morning visit from a plumber who, despite the promise from Guest Relations that the plumber would await a call from us when we got up in the morning, showed up unannounced just about the time we were getting out of bed. We sent him on his way and told him to return in half an hour. When he did return, he opened the drains and left them that way for the rest of the day. The odor did not diminish, although Guest Relations did call us late in the day to advise us that the problem had been taken care of. At this point I should have demanded to be moved to another room but we continued to believe that their efforts would be successful. However on the third to last day of the cruise, our room steward informed us that it had been determined that there were pieces of grout missing from the tile in the bathroom floor and that water must have seeped through the resulting cracks and collected on the subflooring underneath the tile creating the odor. (sound like mold to anyone?). When my wife asked what they would do about it, he advise her that they could not do anything since if they sealed the tile, the bathroom would be unusable for 48 hours. This conversation took place on Monday evening - nine days into our 12 night cruise. Early the next morning I presented myself to Guest Relations and outlined the problem and its history and insisted that they provide us with another room for the remainder of the cruise. After a bit of hemming and hawing, they did find us a concierge class stateroom on deck 7 and allowed us to keep our clothes and belongings in the Sky suite so that we would not have to pack and unpack and move all our things to the new room only to have to repack them two days later. It is the solution that they should have offered us days earlier when it was evident that their efforts to eliminate the problem were totally ineffective. I have written Celebrity to register my complaints about this matter and will be interested in their response. I should say that the Sky Suite came with the services of a butler, Roderick, who was extremely attentive and whose aid was invaluable when I found that the tuxedo trousers which were part of the package I had ordered on line, turned out to be about seven inches too long, and the vest which was ordered was absent from the package. Within minutes, Roderick returned with the missing vest and advised me that the pants would be altered and available to me before the first formal evening. Our Captain's Club elite status gained us coupon books which offered, among other things, the opportunity to have a bag full of laundry processed for $15. Had we known about this amenity in advance we might have packed a bit more lightly but it was welcome none the less. Aside from the serious problem with our bathroom, our overall experience with Celebrity in general and this cruise in particular was very positive and I believe that we are very likely to sail with them again. There were a few other glitches along the way but those can happen with any ship or any line. We were delayed from sailing from a couple of ports and a simple announcement to the passengers might have helped reduce the rumors that quickly circulate in such situations. In Falmouth there were several situations that delayed them in getting all of the passengers back on the tenders. Only later that evening at the Captain's Welcome Aboard ceremony did he allude to the delay and some of the reasons for it. When our 5pm sailing from St. John's, Newfoundland was already an hour overdue, a public announcement was made revealing that it was not because we were waiting for an overdue tour bus, as many had surmised, but was due to the high winds which made a departure through the narrow channel out of the harbor, inadvisable. Later that evening the Cruise Director informed us that the high winds plus the tidal conditions would prevent us from sailing that evening as promised earlier and would not allow us to sail until 6 am the following morning. Later that following day, we learned that the delayed sailing meant that we could not make Saint John, New Brunswick on schedule an that they had made alternative arrangements to dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia instead. This was somewhat ironic since Halifax was originally on the transatlantic itinerary and was replaced by Saint John, later on. Weather in all our ports of call was extraordinary and far better than we could have hoped for. We will be doing another transatlantic next September and visiting a number of the same ports. Knowing that we would be back and able to catch some of the sites that we couldn't see on this visit made it a much more relaxing trip. To borrow from guest lecturer, John Maxtone Graham, it is the only way to cross. Ports of Call The initial part of the transatlantic cruise was extremely port intensive. One factor that helped us cope with so many ports of call and so many things to see was the knowledge that if we missed anything, we would be able to see them on next year's voyage. We tendered into Falmouth and walked through the town, stopping for some tea and scones with clotted cream, before heading back to the ship. In LeHavre, we had pre-booked a private tour of the beaches of Normandy. Our guide and a driver picked us up at the pier and took us to places that the bus tours could not have reached, including a bluff where the German batteries overlooked the length of Omaha beach. We had lunch at a roadside cafe. The American Cemetery and the various memorials we viewed during out tour were sobering reminders of the price that was paid to safeguard our freedom. Dublin traffic was a real problem but we eventually got to the pickup spot for the Hop on Hop off bus. We took the bus for its full cycle and on the second go-round we got off at Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. There was a long line of people waiting for admission, so we were moved through pretty quickly and didn't get much time to examine the pages of the book that were displayed. Our next, and final stop was the Guinness Storehouse where we saw how Guinness is brewed. The tour works its way from ground level to the seventh floor, where you get to sample the product in a room with spectacular views of Dublin. We were in Cork when we were on our last transatlantic and visited Blarney Castle, Kinsale etc, so this time we took things easy and walked around the port area of Cobh and sampled the local brew, Murphy's which is similar to Guinness, and is reportedly sold only in a 17 mile radius of Cork. After three days at sea, during which we experienced an extraordinary medical evacuation of an ill passenger by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, we arrived in the beautiful city of St. John's, Newfoundland where we discovered that the Canadian dollar was now at par with the American dollar. At the pier we arranged a three hour tour for $30 per person and visited Signal Hill where Marconi received the first telegraph signal, and Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America. The tour was very informative and we saw a good bit of the city and surroundings. I look forward to returning there on next year's cruise. We have been to Halifax more times than I can count but I never tire of visiting this beautiful, cosmopolitan city with its attractive harbor and great shops and restaurants. We even visited the casino and had moderate success. Lunch at a local restaurant along the HarborWalk was a nice change of pace. It was warm and sunny and a perfect last port of call for our cruise. Port Liberty After a final day at sea, we arrived in Bayonne and after one final treat of waffles in the Seaside Cafe, we repaired to Michael's Club to await our notice to disembark. There had been a power failure during the night and things were running a bit behind but we eventually were advised that we could disembark. Once off the ship, we boarded a shuttle bus and were driven to the cruise terminal to retrieve our luggage and clear US Customs and Immigration. The process was swift and efficient and a porter took us and our luggage to a bus which would take us to Newark airport. We had a Continental flight to Boston but when the driver deposited us at the Continental terminal in Terminal C, we quickly discovered that Continental's flights to Boston leave from Terminal A. Fortunately, we caught our bus driver before he had left and he reloaded our luggage and set off the find his way to Terminal A, something that I fear was a bit beyond his capability as he drove around in circles for several minutes before finally finding the way to the correct terminal. Suffice it to say, his and our mood was not the best and when he finally found Terminal A, he deposited us at the far end of the terminal about as far away from the Continental check-in area as possible. Fortunately a friendly skycap took charge of our luggage and led us to the check-in point. We arrived at the gate around noon and our flight was due to begin boarding at 1:55. There was time for a quick bite before preparing to board, but one final glitch occurred before we could get underway. Just about the time we were due to begin boarding the agent at the gate announced that while the equipment was at the gate, the crew was still in Chicago and would not arrive in Newark until 3pm. Ten minutes later, however, the agent announced that they had found another crew to fly the plane and boarding would begin at 2:30pm. We eventually boarded and took off at 3pm and were on the ground in Boston at approximately the same time as we were originally scheduled to arrive. After the usually interminable wait for luggage at Logan Airport, we were out of the terminal and on a bus that would take us to Braintree where our son-in-law would pick us up and drive us home. It was nearly 6 pm when we finally came through the door of our condo and our 14 day adventure drew to a close. All in all, the positives far outweighed the negatives on this trip. Despite the problems with our stateroom, we have mostly positive opinions about Celebrity Cruise Lines and would not hesitate to sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
I know there have been a number of postings from others on this cruise, but I wanted to share my thoughts. We had a lot of CCers on this cruise so the number and varying appraisals are not surprising and it's good to get others take ... Read More
I know there have been a number of postings from others on this cruise, but I wanted to share my thoughts. We had a lot of CCers on this cruise so the number and varying appraisals are not surprising and it's good to get others take on things. I for one have enjoyed reading them. First of all I have to say this was probably my most enjoyable cruise yet. I know. I probably say that after every cruise, but the experience of crossing the Atlantic, a real journey in my eyes, made it very special. The large group from our roll call also added to the fun and walking around the ship became an exercise in waving and saying "hi". Embarkation was a breeze and Dover has a really nice cruise ship terminal. This was a surprise to me as my recollections of cross channel ferry rides painted a different picture. The weather was wonderful when we left as it had been for many staying pre-cruise in the UK. I have never seen the Channel so calm. The setting sun reflecting off the water could have been the South Pacific, except there are no White Cliffs there. We had a fun day in France. Le Havre is a pretty uninteresting port, but nearby Honfleur is a gem even if the World and his wife were there that Sunday. A trip to the US beaches of Normandy was both interesting and humbling. Thanks Bob, for arranging this great tour. Falmouth. What a tendering mess. It seemed that Celebrity's idea of letting passengers with X excursions go first would have worked had there been enough tenders. I had arranged a tour and managed to get on the first one out, but then after the next arrived at the dock it was another twenty five minutes before the next arrived. It is the longest tender ride I have done too. Eventually our group were together by 11.05am (we arrived at 8.30am) and we had a very enjoyable if somewhat curtailed excursion. I heard that one of the coaches on a tour hit another vehicle whilst maneuvering and also knocked someone down. Some didn't get off the ship until 1pm. Not much time to see anything of a truly lovely English county. The weather was kind to us again. It rained on the tender going over, but then cleared. Lizard Point looked beautiful. Dublin was a tour to Malahide Castle (cute and very beautiful) and the Guinness factory with a lovely lunch at the Brazen Head. Thanks Mary for putting this tour together for us. The weather was once again kind. Cork was a trip out to Blarney Castle, once again very picturesque and a walk to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone. I passed on that. I was told that the stories of people peeing on it is a myth from the land of the bogs and the little people, but it kind of put me off the idea as did the height up there. Kinsale was wonderful to visit and we had a very nice lunch at the White House served by the most miserable barmaid. She was so bad it was funny! Three days at sea next and because of all the pre-cruise trips to London and lack of sea days at the beginning it was a nice time to unwind from a busy schedule. I thought the weather overall was very good, but it got rough for a bit once we were three or four hundred miles off the coast of Ireland. I really enjoyed the ride, but I know others were quite sick. I witnessed my cabin steward bang his head on the wall outside my cabin during one particularly large lurch, but he was OK. We were able to use the balcony quite a bit, wrapped up like Ma and Pa Kettle with our blankets. I lucked out on 9197 being released just before the cruise, one of those corner FVs and it was great. The aft facing aspect protected you from wind and spray and the wide angle of view both aft and port side was nice. Being on this side of the ship also meant we got to see the sun in the morning, which was good for balcony breakfasts. There was one day when it was too cold for breakfast out there, but that was it. We had a really nice stop in St Johns, Newfoundland and did a puffin and whale watching tour. A few puffins, lots of seagulls, but no whales. We were a week late, but the stunning coastline made up for this. Others have reported that we were 13 hours late leaving St Johns because of high winds making the exiting of the narrow harbour entrance dangerous and on the sea day that followed it was announced we would call at Halifax instead of St John, NB. Celebrity are to be commended for coming up with this solution at such short notice and finding us a spot to dock when we arrived. After our sea day, Halifax loomed and was a very nice ride into the harbour. We had a planned trip in St John arranged by Joan who had also sorted out the puffin and whale watching tour so on the hoof we found a few of us in a stretched limo on our way to the Titanic cemetery and Peggy's Cove. We had a great time and a nice lunch. Good job on that transport, Joanie Our final sea day and it was arrival in a muggy and hazy NYC. It had been warming up all day at sea from being in the cooler waters of Nova Scotia and the different feeling in the air was very noticeable. Time to get off The shuttle service that took us to our private coach was a mess and there had been a delay in starting disembarkation, but Michaels Club was as good a place as any to wait our turn to walk the gangplank. Some final thoughts. I felt the food was great. I never had a meal I didn't like and the burgers, pizzas and sandwiches were very tasty. Service as I have always experienced was Xcellent. Our waiter, Olman was always spot on with his recommendations and very professional and assistant Mariano was great too. Very polite and friendly. Steward and assistant Tondy and Novie were great too, as was Leslie who brought the breakfast. We did breakfast in the dining room a couple of times. I felt this was all a bit disorganized and took the gloss of having it served to you. The first time I felt the service was lacking at our table and I didn't get what I asked for (although what I actually received was quite sufficient in hindsight ). The second time we did a kind of tour of the restaurant to get to our table. Not sure what that was all about. Perhaps at the end of the day I am better off just having it served in cabin or out on the balcony so that I can please myself and there is no misunderstanding with regard to the strawberry smoothie. A bowl of strawberries just doesn't cut it! I love those smoothies........ Lunch was a much better affair. I did that once and honestly had a meal that could have stood up very well against an evening meal. Delicious! And I had the Mohr im Hemd which has to be good, doesn't it? Our Assistant Maitre d' heard us all talking about the Mohr im Hemd at the lunch table and arranged for it to be served to us at dinner another night, which I thought was a nice touch John Maxtone-Graham, I have heard a lot about and was delighted to hear that he would be on board. He didn't disappoint. I only missed the final lecture of five (being somewhat under the weather from late night Martinis), but his other lectures were informative, funny in many parts and beautifully paced. The ship was clean and my cabin was in great shape. It was great to see JoAn make the ship in Dublin. I have wanted to meet her for some time and it genuinely lifted peoples spirits when we saw her make it with passport finally found. So all in all it was a great cruise and I am looking forward to repeating a TA on Constellation from Barcelona next year There were a couple of med evacs on this trip. One in Falmouth whilst tendered (I think our tour may have seen the helicopter take off from Culdrose) and one at sea about 250 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. I hope that all concerned in these are making a healthy recovery. Frances, one of our fellow CCers also had to leave the ship early because of a family crisis. Frances, I wish you well. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Having enjoyed Celebrity Summit in Alaska a couple of years ago, we were looking forward to our first trip to the Baltic on Connie - especially so as we only had a short, 2-hour drive to Dover this time, rather than a flight to Vancouver! ... Read More
Having enjoyed Celebrity Summit in Alaska a couple of years ago, we were looking forward to our first trip to the Baltic on Connie - especially so as we only had a short, 2-hour drive to Dover this time, rather than a flight to Vancouver! She, and her crew, met all our expectations and more. As far as the ship experience is concerned, it was the best overall of our 14 cruises taken on 8 different lines to date. Leaving the car at a local, long-term parking facility at 2pm, we were whisked through embarkation and onboard half an hour later. Midships stateroom in the bowels as chosen - we only use it overnight, and low-down, central ones move less than any others in inclement weather (a fact learned during several work trips across the Irish Sea!). Same stateroom configuration as Summit, so no surprises there - functional, clean and comfortable, with an attentive steward. Immediately checked with the Maitre d' that we had been allocated our requested table for two on late sitting - not that we're antisocial, it's just that evenings on board are a particular highlight of our cruises and we still enjoy each other's company after 36 years. We always find time to meet up with newly-made friends at leisure during the day or trips ashore. Table allocated near the restaurant entrance - no problem, even with the constant comings-and-goings of the waiting staff. We did overhear the couple occupying the same table on early sitting requesting to move, but Daniel our Polish waiter was SOOOO good, he was worth staying put for. He really made our important evening dining experience the best yet. That's not to say the rest of the ship's crew fell far short. It seemed clear to us that Connie was a happy ship - plenty of genuine smiles and greetings from everyone to everyone, and between themselves. We tend to do our own thing in most ports, but St. Petersburg was always going to be the exception because of the visa requirements. We made some internet enquiries, and were fortunate to be able to tag along with another group for 2-days with the local Red October tourist company. The American organizer, Natalie, and her other half Herb, were to become 2 of those new-found friends I mentioned earlier. Our guide Elana was absolutely top drawer even if, for us at least, visiting so many palaces and museums, full on, in such a short space of time made the prospect of a restful return to England all the more attractive! Here I can recall of one of the few occasions when Celebrity fell a tad short of its normal high standards. Most centers of port interest were a distance from the dock. Whilst shuttle buses were provided, a "nominal" (Celebrity's phrase not ours) $12 per person per day was charged for its use. We were given scant information about the ACTUAL distance to walk, and not at all about the bus stop that was just around the corner in Helsinki that made the same trip regularly for 2.20 Euros (albeit for a single trip). In truth, we probably walked a little too much on a cruise that included 9 cities either side of a single sea day, but it certainly kept the pounds off! (We still didn't use a lift (elevator) throughout the cruise though, despite having to go from deck 2 to deck 10 for breakfast and tea!). Activities were plentiful, especially on sea days. However, the weather prevented all but the (fool?)hardy from the shuffleboard court, and the indoor options tended to concentrate on trivia quizzes and bingo - fine for some, but we'd taken some good books to read. Also, I'm afraid that there were some rather loud, self-important and opinionated know-alls at the quizzes where I happened to be reading in the same room (though, strangely, I never saw them actually win). We never did make the gym - comprehensive though it looked. The evening entertainment, though of "standard" fare of shows and individual performances, was, to us, top quality - even the comedian was actually funny! The adagio dancers were probably the best speciality act we've seen to date. Due to the amount of walking on some days, we did miss a couple of evenings in the theatre, but this was no reflection on the performing acts. Oops, nearly missed commenting on the food! Generally of good quality and presentation, with a varied selection to suit all tastes. Perhaps I was just lucky, but every steak I had was perfect, irrespective of cut. The fish too, was very good and varied. Though I stuck to my simple dessert of a banana with rum and raisin ice cream (except for the traditional baked Alaska night) my sweet-toothed Wife was happy with her selections - especially the cherries jubilee. Breakfast and buffet lunch were also more than adequate, with sufficiently good selection to make choice a problem without over-indulging! A particularly good and simple idea for recognizing the charging of gratuities to your stateroom account was leaving in your cabin various pre-printed acknowledgement slips stating the fact that you had paid. These slips could then be put into the envelopes also provided and handed to the employees concerned on departure, rather than leaving with a mere goodbye and handshake. Oh, and disembarkation? Almost as easy as embarkation 2 weeks earlier. It would have been even quicker had Dover Council not decided to use the day of a cruise ship visit (and a Saturday at that) to dig up part of the town center and cause traffic congestion! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We joined the ship in Dover for our 1st Celebrity cruise. Embarkation was very smooth and the complimentary drink was very much appreciated. No other cruise line we have used offered this. We gave taken 7 previous cruises with various ... Read More
We joined the ship in Dover for our 1st Celebrity cruise. Embarkation was very smooth and the complimentary drink was very much appreciated. No other cruise line we have used offered this. We gave taken 7 previous cruises with various other cruise lines. We booked an inside cabin and were very satisfied with this. Bathrooms were well equipped with complimentary shampoo and lotion dispensers and a nice touch was a glass jar of cotton buds and cotton wool. Another nice touch was the complimentary bath robes and umbrellas in the stateroom. Our luggage arrived very promptly. The level of service on board at all times and venues was excellent. We found it equated to that on board QE2 Main meals were excellent in both dining room and buffet and choice was more than sufficient. We requested a table for 8 and the company was excellent. We found the ship's tours expensive, preferring to do our own thing, equally as effective and at half the price. St.Petersburg was an exception as it was not possible to go ashore unescorted. Evening entertainment was very good with the exception of nights when the ship was overnight in port when it was almost nonexistent. Films shown in the cinema were poor and daytime activities when at sea were also minimal. Deck loungers were difficult to come by on sea days, however this has been our experience on all cruises and passengers generally ignore warnings about reserving sunbeds. The communal lounge areas were extremely specious and comfortable at all times. The itinerary and ports visited were first class. Disembarkation was swift and trouble free. Overall our experience of the cruise was excellent and we would certainly cruise with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Flew into Heathrow on Virgin Airways.Got our bags & went through customs in 1 hr. Pre & post cruise accommodations through Celebrity with the Grosvenor House - about 2 blocks from a tube stop and buses. Great hotel featured a full ... Read More
Flew into Heathrow on Virgin Airways.Got our bags & went through customs in 1 hr. Pre & post cruise accommodations through Celebrity with the Grosvenor House - about 2 blocks from a tube stop and buses. Great hotel featured a full breakfast as part of the price. Bus picked us up at 9:30 & we arrived in Dover about 12:00 with quick check in. Good start. Our room was SS 9123 which is located mid-ship and is a handicap accessible room. This was an upgrade from our booked CC room. Liked the room's size but didn't like the open shower as we always had to put towels on the floor to prevent the shower water running over. If you are a light sleeper this is not the room for you. It is located below the ping pong table and the casual dining dish storage locker. However we did work things out with guest services to compensate for the noise. This cruise is port intensive & we made full use of our time in port. We were too tired to see the evening shows after our late dining. Had breakfast delivered to our room each morning - much more relaxing than going up to the buffet and trying to find a table & get our beverages. Usually got the end of lunch service. They had regional fare of German & Scandinavian food. One day they had an Italian antipasti bar that had all my favorites. Dinners lacked creativity & at least 3 times the standard shrimp cocktail was listed as the evening specialty appetizer. We mostly had warm weather with just a couple of days of light rain in port. Even with excellent walking shoes discovered that cobblestone streets can still wear out your legs and feet. Made good use of the hot tubs and T-pool on each return to the ship. Only booked 2 ship's excursions - the evening at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen for $22 which included the shuttle and admission. Not handled well by Celebrity. Apparently booked too many people so there was a 30-40 minute wait for more buses to arrive. Tivoli Gardens is charming, a throwback in time when you went to an amusement park to have a relaxing dinner and listen to music played in their 4 bandstands. The rides and games are mild compared to today's high cost amusement parks. Also did a 90 minute walking tour (www.copenhagenwalks.com) done by a man dressed in Hans Christian Anderson attire. Not meant for slow walkers, he keeps the tour moving & entertaining. Highly recommended! Did ship's tour of the twin cities of Helsingborg/Helsingor as this was a tender port and we wanted to make sure we got off the ship in a timely manner. Good tour but not as informative & fun as the Copenhagen tour. Did the ship's tour by train to Berlin - warm day and no a/c on train. Bus had a/c and a great tour guide who described Berlin past (watching the video) and present looking out the window. Enjoyed our free time of walking around before return to bus. Most of the towns we visited did not have a/c in shops or restaurants and it was had to find more than 1 internet cafe. As the dollar is so badly devalued right now expect to pay at least 50% more for anything you buy. The ship's shuttles to downtown now cost $12 round trip - all major cruise lines now charge this fee. Did our own walking tours of Riga, Tallinn & Klaipeda. Make sure you have a good map and good description of what you are looking for to make it easy to find. Riga has the largest outside market in Europe which is where the locals shop for anything from brooms to clothes and all types of food. It's a few blocks away from the tourist spots and fun to visit to learn more about the culture. In St. Petersburg we did a 2 day tour with Red October and highly recommend them. We got quick access to all museums and great descriptions of them and the history. The 2 shops that we stopped at for souvenirs had great prices. Offered us free liqueurs and candy. Should have bought the balalaika there as it was 50% less than on the ship and not available in any other ports. Also did the ship's Folklore show and really enjoyed the dance, music and beautiful costumes. Loved all the ports and had a great time in London as well. Even though we were somewhat frugal we still spent a lot more money than expected due to the exchange rate and high taxation on goods and services. Learned that if you see something you like in a shop that is a little different or a good price, it was best to buy it then and there. Learned a few foreign words before each of the ports and it seemed to please the locals that we had an interest in their language. Bought chocolate in each of the ports and somehow it seemed to disappear before we boarded our return plane. Could see doing this cruise again as there was still more to see. Euros are accepted in all cities but primary choice is always the local currency especially if you are using buses where it is required. Dollars were not always accepted...We mostly had warm weather with just a couple of days of light rain in port. Even with excellent walking shoes discovered that cobblestone streets can still wear out your legs and feet. Made good use of the hot tubs and T-pool on each return to the ship. Booked the ship's "Evening at Tivoli Gardens" in Copenhagen for $22 which included the shuttle and admission. Not handled well by Celebrity. Booked too many people so there was a 30-40 minute wait for more buses to arrive. Tivoli Gardens is charming, a throwback in time when you went to an amusement park to have a relaxing dinner and listen to music played in their 4 bandstands. The rides and games are mild compared to today's high cost amusement parks. Also did a 90 minute walking tour done by a man dressed in Hans Christian Anderson attire(www.copenhagenwalks.com. He keeps the tour moving & entertaining. Highly recommended! Did ship's tour of Helsingborg/Helsingor as this was a tender port and we wanted to make sure we got off the ship in a timely manner. Not as informative & fun as the Copenhagen tour. Did the ship's tour by train to Berlin - warm day and no a/c on train. Bus had a/c and a great tour guide who described Berlin past (watching the video) and present looking out the window. Enjoyed our free time of walking around before return to bus. Most of the towns we visited did not have a/c in shops or restaurants and it was had to find more than 1 internet cafe. As the dollar is so badly devalued right now expect to pay at least 50% more for anything you buy. The ship's shuttles to downtown now cost $12 round trip - all major cruise lines now charge this fee. Did our own walking tours of Riga, Tallinn & Klaipeda. Make sure you have a good map and good description of what you are looking for to make it easy to find. Riga has the largest outside market in Europe which is where the locals shop for anything from brooms to clothes and all types of food. It's a few blocks away from the tourist spots and fun to visit to learn more about the culture. In St. Petersburg we did a 2 day tour with Red October and highly recommend them. We got quick access to all museums and great descriptions of them and the history. The 2 shops that we stopped at for souvenirs had great prices. Offered us free liqueurs and candy. Should have bought the balalaika there as it was 50% less than on the ship and not available in any other ports. Also did the ship's Folklore show and really enjoyed the dance, music and beautiful costumes. Loved all the ports and had a great time in London as well. Even though we were somewhat frugal we still spent a lot more money than expected due to the exchange rate and high taxation on goods and services. Learned that if you see something you like in a shop that is a little different or a good price, it was best to buy it then and there. Learned a few foreign words before each of the ports and it seemed to please the locals that we had an interest in their language. Bought chocolate in each of the ports and somehow it seemed to disappear before we boarded our return plane. Could see doing this cruise again as there was still more to see. Most of the towns we visited did not have a/c in shops or restaurants. Hard to find more than 1 internet café in towns. Dollar is so badly devalued right now expect to pay at least 50% more for anything you buy. The ship's shuttles to downtown now cost $12 round trip - all major cruise lines now charge this fee...Did our own walking tours of Riga, Tallinn & Klaipeda. Make sure you have a good map and good description of what you are looking for to make it easy to find. Riga has the largest outside market in Europe which is where the locals shop for anything from brooms to clothes and all types of food. It's a few blocks away from the tourist spots & fun to visit to learn more about the culture. In St. Petersburg we did a 2 day tour with Red October and highly recommend them. We got quick access to all museums w/great descriptions & history. The 2 shops that we stopped at for souvenirs had great prices. Offered us free liqueurs and candy. Should have bought the balalaika there as it was 50% less than on the ship and not available in any other ports. Also did the ship's Folklore show and really enjoyed the dance, music and beautiful costumes...Loved all the ports and had a great time in London as well. Even though we were somewhat frugal we still spent a lot more money than expected due to the exchange rate and high taxation on goods and services. Could do this cruise again as there was still more to see. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
This was our 4th cruise, but our first Celebrity experience. Because we were celebrating our 40th anniversary, we opted for the Concierge Class. The trip was in one word: "perfect." Realizing the crew cannot make the weather ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, but our first Celebrity experience. Because we were celebrating our 40th anniversary, we opted for the Concierge Class. The trip was in one word: "perfect." Realizing the crew cannot make the weather perfect, we were lucky indeed, as our entire 14 days had great weather. Prior to our leaving Dover on August 4th, the weather had not been so good. Apparently, it had also not been good at nearly all the ports where we stopped prior to our arrival. Our room cabin attendant, Clarence, attended to our every needs. Wine was waiting in our room. Fresh flowers every day. Fresh fruit, etc. Our meals in the main dining room were excellent. We did Ocean Liners Rest. one evening. We had a wonderful experience with Katherina. The meal was excellent, but lengthy in time, because they want you to experience something "special." It was. As for the main dining room, well if you ever go on a Celebrity Constellation cruise, try and get Lloyd for your waiter. Wow, he is fantastic, as was his assistant, Marlon. All of our excursions, but one went as planned. Please listen to what they tell you about being careful in St. Petersburg. Although we had a very positive experience there, other people did have bad experiences with pick pocket individuals. Also, you certainly NEVER want to lose your passport there. We attended art auctions. We saw many shows. This cruise ship does not just have dancers, etc. night after night. Since the cruise is 14 days, they have different types of entertainment, and almost all of it was first rate. So what could I criticize? Well no watch batteries were aboard the ship when my watch stopped. Also, I did not know they sold sundries in the liquor shop. I needed nail files, polish remover, etc. Luckily, Clarence, the room attendant made sure my needs were met from his private stash. I would also say that the Celebrity website could be improved. There was mention of Cirque du Soleil which apparently was once offered as entertainment. Oh well, it didn't matter, but why not keep the website up to date? What was the highlight of the trip? Leaving Rostock and seeing thousands of people on the docks with an unbelievable send off as we sailed away. It was like something out of a movie. If anyone has questions, feel free to contact me. I highly recommend this cruise line. Judi Max Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Travel to Dover was a bit of a problem due to motorway accidents, we travelled the day before and stayed overnight otherwise we may have missed the ship as traffic was so bad at the weekend. Embarkation was really good, after we parked the ... Read More
Travel to Dover was a bit of a problem due to motorway accidents, we travelled the day before and stayed overnight otherwise we may have missed the ship as traffic was so bad at the weekend. Embarkation was really good, after we parked the car and got back to the terminal, it only took minutes to board. we were shown to our cabin, deck 8 concierge class where we found chilled champagne and fruit waiting. First impressions of the ship were a little disappointing, certainly the ship did not have the wow factor. Sailaway came and went and we settled in for 14 nights.To be brief the weather was brilliant and despite initial disappointments with the ships appearance this turned out to be an excellent cruise. The staff were really polite and friendly, service was very good, food quality was way above the food we have had on recent cruises (e.g. Sapphire Princess, Arcadia, Brilliance of the Seas etc.) It was by no means gourmet but certainly there was a good choice,it was well prepared, hot and tasty. If you were not happy, needed more or less vegetables, meat, dessert etc. it was never any problem. The drinks were served speedily and wine poured as appropriate. The general feel of the ship was of a higher quality than other cruises. Snacks afternoon teas late night bites etc. were served by smart staff wearing white gloves. The self serve area also had an up market feel, cotton napkins were used and there were plenty of staff around to help with bringing food, coffee, finding a table inside or out. Classical music was played everywhere by either soloists or classical trios/quartets so, if thats to your taste, this cruise will be for you. Personally I found the "entertainment" to be on the poor side. This really let the cruise down. Apparently most of the members of the cruise review went AWOL so the shows suffered as a result. The shows in the main theatre, that I saw, comprised of, a classical violinist (good)a couple of soloist singers (one average at best, the other poor) an Irish comedian, a pianist, a pick pocket and a juggler non of whom would win a talent show in the UK. These shows were on at odd times, we were on second sitting,some nights the shows started at 10.45pm after dinner and some times at 7.0pm before dinner. We found these earlyshows to be inconvenient. Room service was really good, and always arrived at the promised time. Ships facilities were excellent. The shops were generally a bit tacky,the duty free shop for alcohol, however, was really good value (Smirnoff or Bacardi less than £4 a liter) Completely out of place amongst these shops was a special area where you could purchase Faberge eggs and other Faberge items but most people needed medical assistance when the prices were revealed. There were also the usual Art auctions. Destinations have been described adequately in other reviews, we found Germany, Sweden,Finland and Denmark to be excellent ports of call we really needed more time at these. St Petersburg was an experience, we went to the Ballet which was brilliant and to the Hermitage which was breathtaking. But generally St Petersburg is run down with crumbling buildings and unhappy looking people. The buzz you get in most european cities is just not there. Similarly, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were generally poor ports of call for a cruise ship. There are much better destinations that could be visited in the Baltic and Northern Europe like, Norway and Holland Disembarking was efficient, we were told we would leave ship at 9.15am and were on land with our luggage awaiting our car at 9.25am certainly the fastest I have experienced. To sum there were a few bad points and many many excellent points, I would certainly recommend Celebrity and will definitely use them again. Next is the QM2 if that's as good I will be happy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My wife, 12-year-old son and I sailed on the August 18 Constellation sailing through the Baltics, stopping at Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Stockholm, Warnemunde, Copenhagen, and Helsingborg. Overall, the trip was excellent. ... Read More
My wife, 12-year-old son and I sailed on the August 18 Constellation sailing through the Baltics, stopping at Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Stockholm, Warnemunde, Copenhagen, and Helsingborg. Overall, the trip was excellent. Embarkation was very efficient; we had stayed with relatives in London and hired a driver to take us to Dover, and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving. Our previous cruises where on the Golden Princess and the Radiance of the Seas. The Constellation is not as large as the Golden, and it does not have flashy public spaces like Golden or the Radiance. While tasteful, the decor was very, very muted. Nonetheless, everything was clean and orderly. Similarly, our concierge-class room in the Constellation was noticeably smaller than the rooms we had on the other two ships (and was more expensive). In particular, when our son's sofa bed was deployed, there was only about 8 inches clearance between it and the desk to get to the balcony. And, the balcony could not hold more than two people at a time. Storage space was adequate, though, and the cabin stewards were outstanding. Available activities on the four sea days were good. My wife gives Aqua Spa high marks, as she took a set of treatments there. I took the Pilates package at the gym (cheap at $40 for 4 1-hour workouts) and also used some of the aerobic equipment. My only complaint was that the main room desperately needed a fan; otherwise, the gym operation was fine. The Constellation featured a retired colonel who gave lectures on the history and sites at each stop, and I thought he did a good job (there was also another on-board lecturer on shopping, but we skipped her presentations). While we didn't take this trip to see shows, the two we took in (a comedian and a big musical) were adequate. My son rates the kid program as the best of any ship he's been on. He liked the facilities and the counselors immensely, and it was difficult to get him away from his shipboard pals. In addition, he got a bridge tour (his dad wasn't allowed; I guess adults are too much of a disturbance). Here's our advice for the stops. Tallinn is a great little town; walk it yourself, and don't bother to use the ship shuttle. At St. Petersburg, we went in with 7 other passengers (found via Cruise Critic) with Alla Tours. You need a knowledgeable and tough tour guide and driver in St. Petersburg, particularly if you go in August and have to deal with huge crowds. I highly recommend Alla, as we could customize the tour and keep the numbers manageable (ask for Elena as a guide). One thing though; if you have younger kids, you might want to only subject them to one day of St. Petersburg. Our son got pretty frazzled with the crowds and the endless cathedrals and museums, and I think if I did it again I wouldn't have taken him with us both days. Helsinki is also easily walkable on your own, but you should probably take the ship shuttle there. I noticed another reviewer commented that "there's nothing to see in Helsinki," but I can't help but wonder where he went - there's LOTS to see. I would also walk Riga on your own - it is a surprisingly nice city, with a huge park built around a central canal. You will need to take the ship shuttle, though. We also did Stockholm on our own, and exploited Rick Steves' book on Scandinavia. We really wanted more time in the city (the ship was only there from 9:00 to 5:00), but we managed to see most of Gamla Stan, the Royal Armory, and the Vasa Museum. If you have kids, DO NOT MISS THE VASA MUSEUM. We took our only tour through the ship at Warnemunde, going to Lubeck and Wismar. Unfortunately, the tour had only one guide for 42 people, and while the guide was very good, I just didn't think the ratio was appropriate. Most of the passengers went to Berlin, but I thought with my son that 6 hours on a train coupled with 7 hours of touring would be a bit much. However, the cities of Lubeck, Wismar, and Rostock are well worth seeing, and you can easily take the train to any of them (the train station is only about 40 yards from the dock). Also, if you go on the Berlin expedition, you won't have time to see Warnemunde, which is a great little town in and of itself. If you are an active type, take a bike tour of Copenhagen, as most of the population rides bikes there. I heartily recommend an outfit called City Safari; an enormously engaging man named Jan Martin led about 10 of us around Copenhagen, and I discovered that you can ride ANYWHERE in the town. If you have kids, they will really enjoy this tour. Finally, walk Helsingborg on your own. Again, it is a smaller city, but it is quite charming. We went ashore having done no research whatsoever and found it to be a very attractive city (and very appreciative of cruise ships, judging by the size of the band that greeted us at the tender dock). Summing up our advice on the stops, I'd say spend your money on a good guide and a small group in St. Petersburg, hire a good bike guide for Copenhagen, and walk the rest yourself. Do the research on Stockholm if you have a short stay there, because you will have to make choices on what to see. One last thing; if you want to avoid crowds, go in September. Back to the ship. The food was probably the best of the cruises we have been on, and the service was excellent. We sat with two very enjoyable couples throughout the cruise, and we all agreed that the waffles served at the breakfast buffet were better than any waffles we had had in our lives (this appears to be some sort of Celebrity trade secret). Another thing we discovered was that the light fare served at the Aqua Spa cafe was usually very innovative, and we tended to each lunch there to avoid three big meals a day. Disembarkation was very efficient; we showed up at the allotted time, were off the ship in five minutes, and had our luggage ten minutes later. I would like to thank various Cruise Critic posters for the following advice: bringing an alarm clock and power strip; bringing two-way radios for communicating with kids; recommending Alla Tours and City Safari; leaving the ship at the later disembarkation time so you can tour all the expensive suites when they're vacated (another high point for my son); posting the rooms on the Constellation that have more space or better balconies; bring tokens for your cabin stewards, dining room servers and tour guides (we brought gold US dollar coins; everyone really liked them); recommending Rick Steves' book on Scandinavia; recommending getting up early to see the ship transit the hundreds of islands on the way into Stockholm; and getting cash from the casino. Finally, I'd like to point out two things Celebrity did for us. First, they announced that kids could tour the bridge on a day that we'd scheduled a tour. I went to the Guest Relations desk, and they promptly scheduled ANOTHER kid's tour the following day so my son could see the bridge. Second, our room had a nice hardcover book in it describing the Constellation. When we departed, my wife went to Guest Relations and asked how we could buy a copy, and they simply gave us the room copy. I think this is indicative of the service Celebrity provides, and we'll probably go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, but we have been on several others with Sitmar, Princess, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. We sailed out of Dover on June 30, and disembarked in Copenhagen on July 14. We visited Oslo, Gdansk, St. ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Celebrity, but we have been on several others with Sitmar, Princess, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. We sailed out of Dover on June 30, and disembarked in Copenhagen on July 14. We visited Oslo, Gdansk, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn, Visby, Warnemunde, and Copenhagen. On this cruise my parents, who have cruised with Celebrity before as well as the other lines I mentioned previously, accompanied us. We booked through a travel agent and had Celebrity make all air/ground transportation reservations. Embarkation: We flew from LA to London (Heathrow) on a direct BA flight. It was good, and we received all our luggage without incident. Our first problem was that we could not locate the Celebrity representative to take us to our bus transfer to Dover. He was making a phone call about 100 feet from the meeting point. Once we found him we waited about an hour in the arrival terminal for more people to join us. We then were walked (with all our baggage, in the rain) about 1/4 mile to the bus. There was quite a bit of traffic, so we were a bit concerned about our late arrival to the port. When we arrived at the port our luggage was taken to our staterooms while we checked in. The process went smoothly, especially since there weren't any other transfers arriving. We boarded the ship, dropped off our carry-on luggage, and went to make reservations at Oceanliners, their specialty restaurant. Stateroom: We had a Concierge Class cabin on deck 8. It came with the usual amenities listed on the site: evening canapEs, priority tender passes, veranda, robes, fruit, flowers, champagne, etc. The champagne tasted like rust, so it was promptly poured out. The fruit and flowers were nice, and were replaced every other day or so. We had breakfast delivered several times, but we didn't like any of the "concierge" items; we tried them all and none were great. We asked if we could have something else instead of the nightly canapEs, such as shrimp cocktail or cheese and crackers, but our steward said it wasn't possible. Unfortunately this resulted in wasted food each night, since the canapEs were usually stale or soggy. The balcony was nice, and we enjoyed sitting out there and watching the ship come into and leave port. It was average ship balcony size, two chairs and a table fit nicely. The closet was a nice size, but there weren't enough hangers for a 14-night cruise. Our room steward, Marta, gave us more right away. All in all, the cabin was decent and suited our basic needs for the cruise. I found it a bit small, but it worked. Ship: The Constellation was a beautiful ship. I was impressed at how I always saw crewmembers cleaning or polishing some part of the ship. Nothing was dirty or in disrepair. The dEcor was nice; a bit much for me, but it's all about excess, right? I was not a huge fan of the art displayed, but I admit I'm not the one to judge. All the lounges and bars were well staffed and there was always room for our party of four to sit and have a drink. My husband enjoyed the Thalassotherapy pool in the spa area, and the gym was state-of-the-art with many machines. The spa was very nice, with windows in all treatment rooms. It was nice to be able to watch the sea during my herbal body wrap. Entertainment: Don't have much to write. We didn't really see the shows onboard, they didn't interest us. One night we saw a comedian, and he was just okay. His jokes were dated and corny, but he got some laughs. The band that played in the Rendezvous Lounge each night was good, albeit loud. We had pre-dinner cocktails in the Martini Lounge one deck above Rendezvous each night, and it was still hard to have any type of conversation while the band played (there was a large hole in the floor to view the stage below). We went to a couple ship activities, but felt they weren't geared towards our interests. Customer Service: This is where I felt Celebrity excelled. I did not meet one crewmember that wasn't polite and helpful. Our room steward was attentive and friendly, getting us whatever we needed. The staff at guest services was patient and helped us through our questions. The wait staff in the bars and lounges was fantastic. Wayan was our server every night in the Martini Bar, and he was great. Please go and see him if you can, he shakes a martini like nobody's business! There were families onboard the ship, but I felt the children/teens were generally kept out of the way. We never felt any annoyance from them being in restricted areas or obnoxious. Medical Facilities: Unfortunately I needed medical care while on board. Of course it was outside the office hours, so I had to pay the emergency fee. It was only $30 extra and well worth the money. The staff was wonderful. Dr. Hernandez was great, and extremely professional. It was my dream doctor's office visit. Dining: Where food is concerned, I wasn't impressed. I also didn't expect much. My recent experience with cruises had been as follows: when there's a specialty restaurant onboard, the food in the dining room is passable, but not great. It was the same on this ship as well. I feel like they saved all the great food for the restaurant you have to pay extra to dine with. However, our waiter, Wilmar, and assistant waiter, Kim, were GREAT. Wilmar was quite the entertainer, and kept us happy and satisfied at every meal. His suggestions on dinner choices were right on, and we really counted on him to steer us in the right direction. Our sommelier, Zulkuf (Z), was also fantastic. We had a bottle of wine every night, and he was quite helpful in leading us to wines that would pair well with our dinners. He taught us a lot about French wine, and it was an interesting education. The Aquaspa Cafe was good, and I ate there for lunch many times. Most of their dishes were vegetarian, but they also had made to order salmon, turkey, and chicken breast. The desserts were great. The Seaside Grill was your usual burger place. If you preferred a turkey or veggie burger you had to wait about 10 minutes while it was cooked. This is quite a problem if there are many people waiting, they don't understand why you're just standing there, not getting your food. The Seaside Restaurant/Cafe/Buffet was standard. I felt the selection was lacking, especially in the area of healthy food. My huge complaint about this restaurant is how rigidly it stuck to hours of operation. If it was to close at 5:00, most of the buffet was shut down around 4:30. We had trouble finding food when we went up there 30 minutes before it was supposed to close for dinner. The day we (and half the cruise) took the excursion to Berlin we returned to the ship at 9:30 p.m. Once we were through the gangway, dining staff told us dinner was ready for us at the Seaside Cafe (we were not to go into the dining room, as dinner was served at 8:30.) We got up to the Cafe at 9:45, and most of it was closed. There were hundreds of people lined up at few stations, and most others were closing fast. It was horrible, and most people didn't get a chance to eat. I think that since Celebrity chartered the train we were on, they should have held dinner open in the cafe for at least another hour. The next day, we overheard conversations of people that flat-out missed dinner because of the Berlin trip. Very disappointing. Shore Excursions: We took excursions in about half the ports. Oslo: We took the Viking Heritage tour. I recommend saving your money. There are virtually no sights in Oslo, so we were taken to Vigeland Park to see a bunch of sculptures, to a ski jump that was filled with water, the Folk Museum that had several copies of the same house, and the Viking Ship museum that was crowded beyond belief. Our guide barely spoke English, and was a bore. This was one of the worst shore excursions on the trip. Gdansk/Gdynia: We took the Old Town Gdansk/Stuthof Concentration Camp tour. It rained the entire time, but it was tolerable. Old town Gdansk was good, because of the rain it was hard to see a lot of the architecture and such, but it was still nice. Stuthof was good, but all signs were written in Polish, so we had to stay with our guide so that she could read them to us. Unfortunately she couldn't read them all, and had other tours behind, so I feel we got a rough summary of some signs and others weren't read at all. To contrast, all the signs at Dachau concentration camp - which I visited in 1993 - were in multiple languages. St. Petersburg: We took the flight to Moscow on the first day in St. Petersburg. That was a wonderful trip, and worth the money. The traveling guide, Liza, and the Moscow guide, Olga, were fabulous. We saw Red Square, the Kremlin, Armory Museum, took a metro ride, and ate a Russian dinner (fantastic.) The worst part was that there was NO time for shopping whatsoever. We were constantly on the go, and hardly had time to catch our breath. There was also a lot of travel involved. Ship to airport, airport to downtown Moscow, around Moscow, back to airport, back to ship. We spent most of the day in transit. I still would do it again. The second day we did a canal tour with the Church of Peter and Paul. The church is where the remains of the Romanov family are buried, as well as several past Czars. It was quite interesting, and the canal trip was a highlight. Stockholm: We took the excursion to old town and the Ice Bar. Old town was nice, very quaint and beautiful. The Ice Bar was great. Groups of thirty were let in for thirty minutes at a time, wearing protective ponchos and gloves. Everything is made from ice, from the couches to the glasses. Each person chose a drink from his or her list, and you have the experience of drinking from an ice glass. The bartender gave some history and information about the ice bar, which was quite interesting. Fun fact: the ponchos and gloves are not to keep the patrons warm, but rather to prevent their body heat from melting the bar! Warnemunde: We took the Cultural Treasures tour to Berlin. There is a 2-3 hour train ride from the port to Berlin. As part of the Cultural Treasures tour, guests get "better" seats on the train. These seats were fine, but I don't see how they were better than the others on the train. Celebrity charters an entire train because so many passengers take excursions to Berlin. We were able to get a private cabin on the way to Berlin, which was great. The traveling guides, especially Boris, were great. They took a lot of time to really talk to us about Berlin. The tour was very nice, and quite thorough. Our Berlin guide, Tim, was entertaining and knowledgeable. We visited a couple sections of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin Cathedral, Brandenberg Gate, had lunch in a museum restaurant, and the Pergamon Museum. Disembarkation: This was the worst part of the entire trip. As I mentioned before, we booked all travel through Celebrity. We will NEVER make that mistake again. We booked this trip in January, and paid for it soon after. At the time we were told that we had seats on the flights to and from the cruise, and would get our information and e-tickets later. We flew BA direct to Heathrow, but were not as fortunate on our return home. We were SAS to Dulles, then United to LAX. When we were given these tickets, we didn't have seat numbers for our flights home. When we asked about the seats, we were told not to worry, that they would be assigned at the airport the day of the flight. After much work on the part of the TA, United gave us seat assignments, however SAS still refused. They said that our tickets were not paid for, so they could not assign seats. Funny, since the money was paid to Celebrity several months prior. Celebrity was holding onto the money, which they claimed was standard procedure. They also gave us a two-hour layover in Dulles to go through immigration, find our luggage, go through customs, check the luggage back in, go through security, and get to our gate. That was ludicrous. Most people know there should be AT LEAST four hours given in between international flights because of security measures. We got off the ship easily enough, and arrived at the airport with about four hours to check in and get to the gate. There was only one line for passengers to check in to several major airlines, and this line went all the way to the next terminal. When we finally got to the front of this monstrous line, we were told to go stand in another line because we were traveling to the US. When at the front of this line we checked in our baggage, and was told that our seats would be assigned at the actual gate, which was the farthest from the main check-in. When we reached the gate we waited in two different lines with several other Celebrity passengers that were in the exact same situation. When we talked to an SAS representative, she told us that the flight was overbooked, and at that moment WE DIDN'T HAVE SEATS ON THE PLANE. We had to choose to either wait and see if anyone gave up his/her seat or take a flight the next day. There were about thirty of us in the same situation. It was horrific, to say the least. We chose to wait and after about 45 excruciating minutes of wondering, we were told there were seats for the four of us on the flight. It just so happened that the four seats were altogether, which was funny since there were no seats for us at all in the beginning. Most of the people did get on the flight, but there were a few that weren't so lucky, and had to stay in Copenhagen for another night. Dulles was chaotic and horrible, and reminded me of a third-world country. With our two-hour layover we made it to the gate in the middle of boarding for our flight. It was hellish, and like I said, we will NEVER let the company make our travel arrangements. We were treated like 3rd- class citizens, which is not the service of which Celebrity prides itself. It's also sad that a wonderful cruise had to end on such a sour note. In summary, wonderful cruise, great ports of call, horrible travel arrangements. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
June 1st It should have been an exciting occasion. This evening we were scheduled to join my parents in Philadelphia where all four of us would continue on to England and begin our anticipated two-week Baltic Cruise aboard Celebrity's ... Read More
June 1st It should have been an exciting occasion. This evening we were scheduled to join my parents in Philadelphia where all four of us would continue on to England and begin our anticipated two-week Baltic Cruise aboard Celebrity's Constellation. However, Lynn (my husband) and I were off to a bad start: Stuck on the runway at the Pittsburgh Airport for 3 hours because of bad weather. Now we would miss our Philadelphia connections to London and the June 2nd sailing of our ship from Dover. The final "nail in the coffin" was the pilot's announcement that he was returning to the gate where all international travelers' luggage would be off-loaded. Unceremoniously "dumped" from the plane at 9:30 that night, we resentfully collected our baggage. After waiting in a long line to rebook, we were told to come back in the morning. By the time we got home, it was almost 11:00 p.m. I was despondent, although Lynn took the turn of events better than I. (Always expecting the worse, he had fretted about the short connections in Philly for months and, on some level, actually felt vindicated). Thanks to Tylenol p.m. I drugged myself to sleep, but Lynn was awake most of the night. June 2nd and 3rd Obviously, we had missed the Dover embarkation and would now need to meet the ship by June 4th in Oslo Norway, the next port of call. Since our air-travel arrangements had been booked through the cruise-line, I foolishly believed a phone call to them would remedy the situation. No such luck: Celebrity insisted it was now the airline's responsibility and we must get US Air to issue new tickets to Oslo. Back at the airport again, we serendipitously found ourselves in the capable hands of William, a US Air ticket agent who, with unbelievable patience, spent almost two hours rebooking us. The problem: Our original reservation only authorized two legs of flight (Pittsburgh-Philly and Philly to London) and now we required three. Worse, since it was a weekend, the Celebrity group-travel agency was closed. But William persevered stating, "I will NOT give up!" and eventually got us booked through Philadelphia, then on to Frankfurt Germany and finally via Lufthansa Airline to Oslo. (Best of all, the Lufthansa tickets were business class). We called Celebrity and notified them of our new schedule, urging them to inform my parents who were already onboard the ship and undoubtedly frantic with worry. (My folks never carry a cell phone and there was no way of contacting them). Our flight to Philadelphia was scheduled to leave at 5:10 p.m. that evening and it was a long, tense wait at the airport, since thunderstorms were again predicted. Fortunately, everything went well and though exhausted, we could sleep on the overnight flight to Frankfurt. One small "glitch" occurred in Germany: Over Lynn's objections, I mistakenly led us out of the international area, thus forcing a lengthy re-entry through their security lines. (Lynn was not pleased with this turn of events, but couldn't overtly express his annoyance for fear of attracting unwelcome attention from airport personnel). Fortunately, with a several hour layover in Frankfurt, no real harm was done. Approaching Norway by plane was really delightful, with an aerial overview of the islands and fjords. Unfortunately, the local Celebrity agent supposed to meet our flight was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, an attendant at the airport visitor center located him by cell phone. It was almost an hour before the agent, Bjorn, appeared. He denied any prior notification of our arrival and spent an additional 20 minutes searching for lost luggage of another cruise passenger before we were finally on our way. Oslo is quite a distance from its airport and Bjorn was most loquacious. We would be staying at the Grand Hotel close to the harbor. It was very difficult to get reservations there, but as the Oslo port agent, he "had connections". Grand Hotel was expensive, but not to worry: The cruise-line "pays for the room." Furthermore, someone would pick us up the next morning and make sure we "got on the ship before anyone else disembarked". He even made dinner suggestions. Arriving at the hotel, Bjorn held a long conversation in Norwegian with the desk clerk and then handed us our room key with a flourish. As he left, we tipped him generously for all his help. The hotel was lovely, and our room graciously appointed. We took long overdue showers and headed off to see the sights. Even though it was early evening, the northern latitude provided plenty of sunlight. Oslo extends along a beautiful harbor lined with marinas and restaurants. The ancient castle/fortress of Akershus, perched on a cliff, overlooks the port. Sidewalks were crowded with people enjoying an evening stroll or sipping beverages at outdoor cafes. Across the water excited shrieks emanated from a gaily lit ferris-wheel. Following Bjorn's advice, we located the Lofoten Fiskerestaurant. Not many patrons were at this restaurant and after seeing the menu prices (and converting them to the dollar) we knew why. Service was impeccable and our fish delicious. But despite splitting a salad and dessert and having only one glass of wine, the bill (including tip) was almost $150.00. After dinner we walked up to the Akershus, only to find the fort closed for the evening. Choosing a different route back to the hotel, we paused to admire an attractive park with fountain and reflecting pool. Once in our room, sleep came within minutes. June 4th That morning in the hotel lobby we encountered another couple also awaiting transportation to the ship. They, too, had missed their air connections and worse, all luggage was lost. They were not happy with Celebrity. Arriving at the dock, a behemoth of a ship loomed above us. Finally, our cruise on the Constellation could begin! But wait: A big chain-linked fence prevented any access! Without the "ship identity card" issued to all passengers back in Dover, the port security guards would not let us onboard. I saw Bjorn through the fence, but he made no effort to remedy the situation. By now a third couple had joined us and everyone was getting upset. Finally, I informed the security guard that if someone from the ship didn't let us on within ten minutes there was going to be a big riot on the dock. She murmured into her walkie-talkie and the ship's front-desk manager "miraculously" appeared to escort everyone onboard. He was checking us all in when Bjorn arrived to insist that the two couples who stayed at the Grand Hotel needed to pay for their rooms. This was the last straw! The desk manager got quite an earful about Celebrity's shabby treatment. However, he quickly rose to the occasion, escorted Bjorn out of the area and assured us no payment was necessary. We dropped off our bags in the room and rushed off to locate my parents. They were having breakfast and delighted to see us! We exchanged horror stories: Nobody had informed them of our whereabouts for almost 36 hours. Worse, my father had fallen down ten escalator steps in the London airport and emerged covered with blood. (He was still terribly bruised). My parents had visited Oslo on a previous trip and with my father in pain, decided to stay on the ship for the day. However, they knew Lynn and I were anxious to see more of the city and urged us to "go have fun". Lynn was hesitant to use the local ATM machine and instead had the ship's bank exchange twenty dollars for local currency (in hindsight an insufficient amount). We bought tram tickets to get to our first attraction, Vigeland Park. The place is famous for its 212 monumental nude sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland, who died in 1943. Arriving at the park, we were amazed to see the sculptures, which depict the whole cycle of human life from birth to death, displayed along an impressive promenade and amongst lovely flower and water features. Masses of lilacs were in bloom. It was just the peaceful antidote we needed after the last two days. Next, stop: Bygdoy Peninsula, an affluent section of Oslo that also is home to a number of museums. To get there, we needed ferry tickets which we attempted to purchase dockside. Informed they were only sold on the boat, we dashed onboard just as the ferry was departing. But surprisingly, during the entire crossing, tickets were never mentioned by any of the crew. Once there, it was a long walk from the dock to the museums and we were thirsty. The purchase of a cold Pepsi wiped out the remainder of our Norwegian money. Fortunately, the Kon Tiki and Fram Museums accepted charge cards. The Kon Tiki houses the balsa wood raft Thor Heyerdahl used to prove his theory that the original Polynesians could have sailed from Peru. Also on display is his papyrus raft that sailed from Morocco to Barbados. The Fram contains the famous ship which took Nansen to the arctic in 1893 and Amundsen to the South Pole in 1910. Visitors can walk throughout the ship and numerous polar artifacts are on display. Both museums were very interesting. On the return ferry, the crew was more organized and tickets were required. Too late we learned only local currency was acceptable. This created an embarrassing predicament. Since our Norwegian money was depleted, they hesitantly agreed to accept the equivalent value in American dollars. We ate a quick lunch back on our ship before our final visit of the day: Akershus Castle (closed the previous evening). Now the Constellation was berthed right beside it and the huge ship towered over the castle grounds. The old stone walls and cannons, set amongst shaded lawns and lilac trees produced an immediate response of tranquility. From the ramparts, incredible views of the Oslo harbor stretched beneath us. Concerned about the possibility of missing the boat again, the ship's proximity allowed Lynn to really relax for the first time all day. We were back onboard in time to join my parents who were attending a lecture about Copenhagen, tomorrow's port of call. Afterwards, I approached the speaker concerning an internet tidbit I had previously gleaned. "Isn't tomorrow a National Holiday in Denmark?" I asked. "I don't know," was his response. "If so," I persisted, "will the museums be closed?" He was clueless. The ship sailed at 5:00 p.m. In our room was a letter of apology from the front desk offering a $500 onboard credit for our "inconvenience". At dinner, my parents introduced us to our fellow table-mates, Paul and Bilha (a nice middle-aged Canadian couple) and we bought wine for everyone to celebrate our arrival. The food was very good and the evening's entertainment by Brooks Aehron, a talented concert pianist, excellent. June 5 It was another beautiful day and also our 41st anniversary! Things were definitely looking up. Mom and Dad were staying onboard, but we were off to see Copenhagen. Disembarking, I encountered the director of shore excursions and asked her if this were a Danish holiday. She had no idea. Since our ship was docked several miles from the city center, a shuttle bus (for a hefty fee) provided transportation to King's Square. A local Danish woman supervised the shuttle service and I repeated my question to her. "Yes" she replied "it's our Constitution Day". (Finally, some answers!) "Are the museums still open?" I queried. "I don't know" was her response. Sigh. Our ultimate destination was the Visitor Center, quite a hike from King's Square. We arrived in time to join a two-hour walking tour of the old city. Part of the stroll covered areas that we had just passed through, but the sights were much more meaningful when enhanced by our guide's comments. Not only did he provide explanations of what we were seeing, but also insight into modern Danish society. We were impressed with Copenhagen: The city is clean and attractive. Most of the population utilizes bicycles rather than cars and they love the sun. The parks were filled with people "enjoying the rays". Since Danes also seem to have few inhibitions, sunbathing topless as well as in undergarments is condoned. When observing such sights our guide informed us, "It is permissible to look, but no suggestive comments should result." Our tour ended at Amalienborg Slot, the castle of Denmark's current Queen where we watched the Changing of the Guards ceremony. After tipping our guide, I inquired about the museums. Unfortunately, even he didn't know if they were open today, but promised to get us there by bus. (During a "potty break" earlier, Lynn had rushed off to a nearby money changer to acquire local currency for the fare). With the guide's assistance, we hopped onto the correct bus, paid our fare and were eventually deposited near the Ny Carlsberg Museum. (This was the one attraction in Copenhagen that Lynn really wanted to see after an antique dealer back in Pittsburgh had raved about the place). Alas, the museum was closed! Disheartened, and with little local currency left, we headed back on foot. It was past 1:00 now and we were getting hungry. Stopping at a local Burger King, we had just enough money to purchase a "kiddy meal" to share. Finally, the lesson was sinking in: Use of credit cards was unreliable. There were too many places that would not accept them. When the shuttle returned us to the ship, we ran into my parents who had been perusing the shops along the harbor. We gave them our tickets and insisted they at least take a quick visit into the city. Meanwhile Lynn and I went to see the famous "Little Mermaid" statue which perches on a rock in the sea. (During our earlier tour, we learned she has been the object of many acts of vandalism, including several beheadings and, recently, covered with red paint). A leisurely stroll along the shoreline and past a marina brought us to the attraction. I was surprised to find the statue life-size, as I had imagined her to be much larger. Still, as an icon of Copenhagen, we would have hated to miss this sight. It was late afternoon and after our "tiny" lunch, we were starving. Fortunately, the 4:00 extensive "tea" was still being served aboard the ship and we took full advantage of all the goodies. Of course this meant we weren't very hungry by dinner, but managed, nonetheless, to "rise to the occasion" and even enjoy the special chocolate cake provided (along with singing waiters) for our anniversary dessert. June 6 This was to be a full day at sea and, since we were changing time zones, all clocks had to be turned back one hour. We met my folks in the "usual spot" for breakfast (everyone had grown quite fond of the waiter assigned there) and planned our day. At 9:00 a.m. the four of us attended a lecture on St. Petersburg, Russia, and to my dismay, the shore-excursion manager implied that a visa was required if not taking the ship's tour. This was a very sore subject since I had been responsible for contracting with an independent Russian agency, Alla Tours, to visit St. Petersburg and none of us had visas. (I had been sending Alla intermittent, anxious emails about the visa issue for months and in each response, she assured me they were unnecessary). As soon as the lecture ended, I rushed off to the front desk where I was relieved to learn we should have "no problems" using Alla Tours in Russia. As Captain Club members, Lynn and I had been invited to a free wine tasting at 11:30 in a private dining room and the four wines offered were excellent. Slightly "woozy" afterwards, we ate lunch before joining my parents for a 2:00 p.m. lecture/performance on music history, which featured the songs of Gershwin. (With such relaxing music, I kept nodding off). At the conclusion, we remained seated for a second performance by the pianist Brooks Aehron, back by "popular demand". There was yet another Captain Club event scheduled at 5:15, a sort of "meet and greet" accompanied by champagne. (Free drinks are always an incentive for us). Tush, the front desk manager, was present and pleased to discover we now had a much more favorable impression of the cruise. Dinner featured a scrumptious fish and was followed by the evening's entertainment: A very talented man who played multiple instruments. It had been a very relaxing day. June 7 Today's port was Talinn, Estonia. My parents had signed up for a ship excursion but I had previously corresponded via email with the Talinn tourist board and Lynn and I intended to take their city bus/walking tour. I asked the ship's shore-excursion manager if there were a visitor center near the dock, but she thought not. Her advice: Take the ship's shuttle to the downtown area and from there seek information at the Viru Hotel. It turned out that she was wrong again. (Note to self: stop listening to that woman!) Once more we purchased the pricey shuttle tickets and arrived at the hotel, only to be informed that the bus tour actually began at the visitor center near the dock area! Since the hotel was the second stop for the bus, if all seats were already taken, we were out of luck. At a nearby visitor center we purchased a Talinn Day Card, which gave us free admission to museums etc. as well as including the bus/walking tour. Then we set off at a brisk pace to return to the port. Once there, at least twenty busses were parked at the loading dock and, unable to speak the language, we had no idea which one was ours. At the last minute, we made the correct choice and hopped onboard. The hotel had obviously grossly overestimated the tour's popularity for there were only seven other tourists in the bus. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and the tour, excellent. Our guide was quite fluent in English and divulged copious "tidbits" about the country's history. After centuries of foreign domination, Estonia gained independence in 1918, only to be forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940. It was not until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that Estonia finally regained its freedom. Throughout all these occupations, Estonians fiercely maintained their culture. If our guide's attitude was any indication of popular sentiment, the remaining Russians (who currently constitute twenty-five percent of Estonia's population) are an unwelcome subgroup of society. The one hour bus tour provided an opportunity to view the city surrounds, including coastal attractions and Kadriorg Park before disgorging us at the Song Festival Grounds. Our guide proudly pointed out their large modern outdoor amphitheater which hosts international folk festivals and showcases Estonia's heritage. Apparently these are hugely popular events for the locals. The bus brought us back within the city walls to the medieval section of town, where our 1 ½ hour walking tour would begin. Talinn was at one time a rich trading center along the Baltic, until conquered by its powerful neighbors. The ongoing wars and occupations left Estonia financially depleted and, with no money to "modernize", Talinn reportedly is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. It certainly was ranked among the top of those we've seen, and we thoroughly enjoyed the city. (Our only complaint: A few public toilets would have been nice). Once the tour was completed, we visited the Estonian History Museum with artifacts and exhibits dating from the 1800's back to pre-recorded time. Fascinating! Next we climbed to the top of St. Olaf's Church Spire. At 124 meters, this was once the tallest spire in the world. A little winded when we finally reached the top, the reward was a magnificent view of all of Old Town. We could even see our ship in port. It was a pleasant walk back to the ship, but our mood was shattered by a note in our room from Guest Relations insisting that "Prior to disembarking, all individuals taking independent tours tomorrow in St. Petersburg must first convene on the 11th floor at the ship's bow". (The exit gangplank was located on the opposite end of the ship and on 1st floor). I "smelled a rat". A woman had previously sent a letter to my favorite travel magazine describing Celebrity's efforts to discourage independent touring in Russia by segregating such groups to ensure their delayed disembarkation. (In a written response to the magazine, the president's office of Celebrity had categorically denied the use of such ploys). Fortunately, I had brought a copy of that discussion with me and off we went to the Guest Relations Desk. I respectfully asked that because of my parent's age, we be allowed to leave the ship without a prior sequestering on the 11th floor. My request was denied. To bolster my case, I presented the agent with the aforementioned magazine copy. She wavered, but ultimately remained steadfast. In desperation, I mentioned we knew her boss. At this, she finally relented and told us to come to her desk and she would personally escort us off the ship. But "don't tell the others!" We joined my parents for pre-dinner drinks in one of the lounges and recounted our day before heading off to dine. The entertainment that night was a very funny comedian. June 8 We docked in St. Petersburg by 7:30 a.m. and despite all my worries, linking up with Alla Tours was effortless! The Guest Relations agent personally escorted the four of us off the ship, where we breezed through the Russian immigration office and emerged to find Alla Tour personnel holding up identifying signs. Our guide, Natasha, was very experienced and spoke fluent English with only a minimal accent. Val, our driver, was waiting nearby to assist us into an air-conditioned Mercedes minivan. My father had been concerned about the amount of walking on the tour, but since the group consisted of only my parents, Lynn, and myself there was the opportunity to customize the tour to meet our needs. For today's agenda (Catherine's Palace and Peterhof) we would be heading south of the city and most of what we would be seeing had been reconstructed after suffering extensive damage during the World War II siege by the Nazis. In September of 1941 the Germans began a 900 day assault on Leningrad (now the city of St. Petersburg). The citizens refused to surrender, despite almost unbearable hardships. By the time the siege ended, the population of the city had declined from three million to one million with a death toll of almost 800,000 people. The drive to Catherine's Palace gave insight into the daily lives of the Russian people. We passed massive apartment buildings, where often several generations shared a few rooms. Such apartments have no designated bedrooms as each room must be multifunctional. What I assumed were small homes in country villages were actually dachas, a type of "weekend retreat." Despite the fact that many dachas are without heat, water or central plumbing they are a cherished possession and allow Russians to indulge their "love of the soil" with tiny garden plots. We stopped at a small park to view a particularly poignant memorial to Russian Holocaust victims: an abstract sculpture in granite that suggested an individual kneeling in abject despair. The gates were still closed when we arrived at the palace of Catherine the Great. However, we had early admission passes and were amongst the first tourists allowed into the compound. Built between 1719 and 1723, the palace was huge with a stunning aqua colored façade decorated with statues, gold and white ornaments and topped with gold onion domes. The public rooms had been restored and despite the lack of furniture were most impressive. I particularly liked the Great Hall with its painted ceilings and large windows encased by lavish gildings and the Green Drawing Room composed entirely of Wedgewood china. Of course, the Amber Room, filled with panels of amber is probably the most famous one in the palace. Touring the castle involved a lot of walking so while my folks rested on an outdoor bench, Natasha took Lynn and myself through the gardens. We learned none of Catherine's private living quarters had been restored since the Communists wished to "dehumanize" the rulers and emphasize their lavish lifestyles at the expense of the "common man". We stopped for lunch (an extra $20 per person) in the town of Peterhof to experience a typical Russian meal. A larger group touring with Alla joined us at the restaurant. Then it was off to Peterhof, the summer residence of Peter the Great. Giving Russia access to a port was one of Peter's greatest triumphs and he commissioned his massive palace to be built on the shore of the Baltic Sea. The fountains and gardens of the palace grounds are spectacular but also encompass vast distances. Natasha suggested hiring a rickshaw to transport my parents and Dad eventually acquiesced to her plan. Meanwhile Natasha, Lynn and I strolled amongst the palace grounds, enjoying all the attractions. Many of the fountains, while striking in appearance, also were created to perform "tricks" on palace visitors. (Peter the Great apparently derived great pleasure from the unexpected dousing of his guests and, of course, no one dared object). Nowadays, the fountains provide entertainment for children who, clad in bathing suits, relish the soaking. Back in St. Petersburg, our next stop was a visit to the Russian subways. Dad elected to stay in the car with Val, but the rest of us followed Natasha down a long escalator to the station. We were amazed to see the pillars, fixtures and even the walls adorned with marcasite and crystal. We hopped onto the subway to visit two more stations and each one was ornate and unique. (Unfortunately, photographs were forbidden as they also function as bomb shelters). On the train, it was heartening to see how quickly men leaped up to vacate their seat for my mother. Exiting at the third station, we ascended the longest escalator I have ever encountered to find the minivan with Val and Dad waiting for us at the entrance. Before returning to the ship, Natasha suggested we stop at a store near the Bolshevik Ballet Theater with "nice bathrooms and authentic amber". She was right, and although I typically eschew souvenir shops, this one had some quality merchandise at very reasonable prices. Mother purchased earrings and a lovely amber sling for her necklace while I got some amber "goodies" for our daughters and grandchildren. We were back onboard by 5:00 p.m. and Mother and Dad went to their room for a pre-dinner rest. Lynn and I headed to the bar and over a glass of wine agreed that we had been very pleased so far with Alla Tours. I could hardly wait for our second day in St. Petersburg. June 9 Just Mom, Lynn and I met Natasha this morning since my father had decided not to join us. First on the agenda was a tour of the city's most famous attractions. We passed Yusupov Palace where the monk Rasputin was assassinated and paused by the historic cruiser Avrora, which fired the shot signaling the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution. (This cruiser supposedly is a cherished relic of the Soviet era, but according to Natasha, it is locally known for sending up "a big blank that created a big mess"). Three particularly noteworthy places we visited were: (1) St. Isaac's Cathedral, the city's largest with its huge golden dome and lavish interiors consisting of 14 different minerals and semi-precious stones. Commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1818 to celebrate his victory over Napoleon, it took 40 years to build. (2) Peter and Paul Fortress, at the founding site of St. Petersburg which now houses the burial vaults of all Russian Czars. (3) Church on the Blood, built where the assassination of Czar Alexander II took place. This church personifies 19th century Russian architecture with its incredibly ornate façade and colorful onion domes. The interior is as extravagant as the exterior, with glittering stretches of mosaic from floor to ceiling and stone carvings with gold leaf adorning the walls. The floors are made of pink Italian marble and the altar constructed entirely of semiprecious gems with four jasper columns. (I personally liked it the best, since it is the most unique cathedral I have seen). Since I needed a potty break, we stopped at another shop. Natasha advised us to "look like we might buy something" before availing ourselves of the store's bathroom. Unfortunately, while pretending to browse, I came upon an absolutely gorgeous green amber pendant. Lynn, always generous, insisted I buy it for myself. Our afternoon was to be spent at the Hermitage Museum. Once the private art collection of the czars, this world-famous museum is virtually wallpapered with celebrated paintings. Housed in the Winter Palace of Catherine the Great, the museum itself is an outstanding example of Russian baroque magnificence. An extremely popular attraction, it was packed with tour-groups and visitors. As I had requested a quick lunch, Natasha suggested the sandwich bar located within the Hermitage. Only a few tables were available but fortunately one soon became vacated. The sandwiches, although pre-packaged, weren't bad. The museum is huge, and Mother good-naturedly agreed to use a wheelchair for transportation. Wheelchairs were available for free, but to take one you are required to leave a passport at the admission desk. Natasha wanted it to be Lynn's since, upon completion of the tour, she planned to leave Mother and me at a bench near the exit, while she and Lynn returned the chair and retrieved his passport. Lynn gallantly agreed to the plan. (I knew this was a real testament to his affection for my mother since he is always so paranoid about losing his passport, especially in Russia). Another problem with the wheelchair: There are very few elevators in the museum, and one of those was only large enough for two people. Fortunately, Natasha was quite familiar with these obstacles and knew exactly how to overcome them. Lynn and I wished to see the Impressionists paintings, our personal favorites, and Natasha took us straight to them. (Since most Hermitage tours focus on its collection of "Old Masters", this section of the museum was much less crowded). Room after room filled with such famous artwork took my breath away. Even those works by Gauguin, our least favorite artist of the period, contained a painting we loved. (A humorous side note: Lynn kept a "death-grip" on the wheelchair whenever Mother hopped out to view the artwork more closely). Natasha persuaded us to detour and see the famous collection of Rembrandts, which were exceptional. En route we passed an enormous ornate gold clock given to Catherine the Great by one of her lovers featuring life-size animals. (Now that was impressive). Our last stop was a visit to a gallery of works that had been "appropriated" by the Nazis before ultimately falling into Soviet hands. (Supposedly, all traces of the original owners had disappeared in the Holocaust). These paintings were magnificent! Back on the dock by 4:30, Alla joined us while we bade a fond farewell to Natasha and Val. Once onboard, we caught up with my father for "cocktail hour." He had spent the day relaxing and reading, without regrets for staying on the ship. At dinner, there was no sign of our Canadian tablemates. (They had been missing the previous evening also, but we assumed they were attending an evening performance in St. Petersburg). When questioned, our waiter claimed Bilha was sick. For us, it had been an action packed day. Mother went off to bed right after dinner while Lynn fell asleep during the evening entertainment. June 10 The ship docked in Helsinki, where my parents were hoping to introduce us to some friends in Finland who had been their hosts years ago at a Scandinavian Elderhostel event. Unfortunately, they didn't know where or when these folks would arrive. But Lynn and I, anxious to explore the city, were reluctant to wait around. We wrestled briefly with our conscience, before leaving my parents on the ship and grabbing a shuttle into town. The shuttle stopped close to the local visitor center where we planned to catch a city bus-tour. Alas, the Center's printer was temporarily out of order, which necessitated a half-hour wait before we could purchase tickets. Everyone stood there with resignation, except one American woman who broke into line and began throwing a big fit about the delay. It was embarrassing. (Eventually the printer problem was resolved, but I felt like faking a British accent when purchasing our tickets). Another twenty minutes elapsed before the bus left, since the driver delayed our departure to accommodate tourists from a second bus that had broken down. With a population of 500,000, Helsinki is a modern city surrounded by water on three sides. Our bus made two stops. The first was at the Rock Church, carved out of solid rock. Its dome is covered by 15 miles of copper wire and services are held there regularly. The church is quite famous, but Lynn and I were not that impressed. We did enjoy the second stop at a shady park where we walked to the Sibelius Monument. A series of 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern, it commemorates the composer, Jean Sibelius, of Finlandia fame. Completed in 1967, ten years after the composer's death, this large striking sculpture was created to capture the essence of his music, considered an important part of Finnish national identity. The tour was comprehensive, but our guide's heavy accent made it difficult to always understand him. When it ended, we walked to the waterfront outdoor market and purchased fried herring for lunch. . It was a beautiful day, perfect for our next activity: A ferry ride to Suomenlinna, a series of six small islands which are popular picnic areas. Suomenlinna originally served as a sea fortress for the port of Helsinki and sections of the original fort, built in 1748, still remain. The ferry was packed with local families. In stark contrast to all the cities recently visited, these picturesque islands connected by small footbridges were a pastoral delight. We loved the place with its ruined fort, rocky slabs overlooking the sea and huge old lilac bushes in bloom, permeating the air with aroma. I could have happily spent the rest of the day there, but Lynn (always worried about schedules) eventually coerced me back to the ferry landing. Returning to Helsinki, we detoured to visit two churches, the Uspenski Cathedral which is the largest Orthodox church outside of Russia, and the Lutheren Cathedral on Senate Square. (We would have been more impressed had we not just seen such splendid examples in St. Petersburg). Using the last of our local currency to purchase an ice cream cone, we walked back to the shuttle. Onboard the ship by 4:30, we phoned my parents and learned their local friends did show up. Dad had taken everyone out to lunch and we just missed their visitors' departure by thirty minutes. However, a bottle of wine and some edibles awaited us in their stateroom. Although our room had a large window, my folks had one with an outside balcony. Enjoying the afternoon sea breeze and sipping wine, we discussed our day. Apparently the two women had brought along their nephew and his son and not only did the outing include lunch but also a second establishment where they went for desserts. That night at dinner, the Canadian couple was still absent. I called their room afterwards, but had to leave a message on the answering machine. Lynn and Mother took a quick nap before the evening's entertainment, which featured a gifted violinist. (I should have done the same, since I ended up sleeping through most of it). June 11 It was yet another sunny day and we woke early to enjoy the sail through the fjords of Stockholm. It was an absolutely lovely stretch of the coast, as islands with rocky beaches, and forests of beech and firs slipped passed right outside our window. Occasionally small homes and docks could be glimpsed along the shoreline. However, at breakfast there was no sign of my parents, who always arrived before us. I used the dining room phone to call them and learned Mother had been sick all night. After eating, we stopped by their cabin. Dad opened the door only a crack, assured us she was "better now" and insisted we "stay away" in case it was contagious. Despite some trepidation about leaving my parents, we disembarked. Because of the ship's massive size, we were docked in an industrial port and had to use the shuttle to get to downtown. At the visitor center, disappointed to learn that walking tours didn't start until mid-June, we signed up for their bus and boat tour of the city. Information about passing attractions were conveyed via head phones and the bus portion of the tour, scheduled to last only an hour, dragged on for almost two because of traffic jams. (Stockholm must have been inundated with cruise ships, since tour busses were everywhere). This delay caused us to miss the boat excursion along Stockholm's harbor, but at least our money was refunded for that portion of the tour. Not too pleased with what we had experienced so far, we walked to the waterfront where we hoped to catch a ferry to the Vasa Museum. However, what ferry? Boats were everywhere. Fortunately, a local man who spoke English explained that a ferry was unnecessary. We could just continue our stroll along the harbor to access the museum, visible on a distant shore. The museum contains the Vasa, a flagship which sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. In the 1960's she was raised from the seabed and restored. The ship is in a remarkable stage of preservation, because of the cold water and absence of sea worms in the Baltic. (To distinguish the few pieces of planking that had been replaced, a different color wood was used). The museum consisted of four levels of walkways which encircled the ship from top to bottom, and allowed visitors a great view from every angle. Artifacts recovered from within the ship were also on display. One wooden chest was so watertight that the plumed hat it contained survived intact. After watching a movie about the vessel recovery operation, we decided to buy lunch in the museum's cafeteria. Only local currency was accepted and the tourist in front of us in line had an insufficient amount. Having been in that situation before, we donated the money he needed. Eating at an outdoor table overlooking the water, we agreed: This was a great museum! Back at the shuttle stop, there seemed to be some confusion. The sign on the bus window said "Celebrity" but the driver, who spoke little English, was under the impression this was a Royal Caribbean shuttle. Since that ship was berthed in an entirely different dock, I insisted he check with the shuttle director before departure. He finally got out of the bus and walked up the street to confer with the director. Returning with a sheepish grin, he clapped me on the back and said, "Celebrity. Yes!" Unfortunately, there was no air conditioning and with such heavy traffic it took us 45 minutes to return to the ship. As soon as we got back to our room, we called my parents. Mother was feeling better but now Dad was sick! If they felt like eating anything, they would call room service. Lynn and I thought we would be alone at our dinner table, but the Canadian couple was present, looking a bit "worse for wear". A disastrous turn of events had befallen them! The night before arriving in St. Petersburg, Bilha had experienced severe abdominal pain, ultimately diagnosed as pancreatitis. She was off-loaded by ambulance in St. Petersburg and taken to a local hospital. Since they had been planning to tour with the ship excursion, neither of them had a visa. Her husband, Paul, was subjected to aggressive interrogations by local authorities when he tried to return to the ship to bring her some "necessities". Apparently, the hospital felt she was too ill to be discharged, but the thought of remaining in Russia while the ship left without them was sufficient incentive to galvanize Paul and Bilha into action. She checked out "against medical advice" and they were able to commandeer an ambulance to return her to the ship just before it sailed. Hmmm....maybe our table was jinxed. At the theater that night, we were surprised to see Mother and Dad arrive for the show and quickly joined them. It seemed they were feeling better. The featured singer that evening announced she was dedicating the next song to the couple "who had been married the longest". Of course that would be my parents, but they were reluctant to "promote" themselves. However, I lost control when it appeared the nearest contenders had only been married 53 years. I yelled down from our balcony seats, "Sixty-five years!" At this, Dad added his voice to mine and caught the singer's attention. She came all the way upstairs, chatted with them a few minutes and then stood beside them while she sang. (Our fifteen minutes of fame)! The woman even had a free autographed CD waiting for my folks after the show. June 12 On this full day at sea, there was no sign of my parents at breakfast. We phoned them and discovered both were now sick! In fact, Mother was planning to go see the ship doctor, and she never seeks medical help. Still, they remained adamant: We were to avoid any exposure. There was a lecture on Berlin scheduled at 10:00 but we left half way through it to check on their status. Only Dad was in the room: Mother remained in the infirmary. Hearing this, Lynn and I marched down and found the waiting-room filled with ill passengers. The nurse allowed us back into the "sick bay" where Mother was in bed and receiving IV fluids. Having been cleared by the doctor for the Norwalk virus, Mother avoided a confinement in isolation and was allowed to return to her room. We escorted her back and brought them both some crackers to eat. (Restaurant staff were, belatedly, handing all incoming diners a sani-wipe). Discussing the situation while having lunch, Lynn and I concluded that my parents must have contracted food poisoning on their Helsinki outing. We were feeling fine and, except for Helsinki, had eaten the same food onboard. The four of us had been invited to attend a bridge-tour at 1:50 (another atonement by Tush, the front desk manager). We stopped by my parents' room, but they were still in recovery. Approximately a dozen other passengers joined us at the bridge. Their expensive clothing, heavy jewelry and (in some cases) pompous attitude implied wealth. Unfortunately, the first mate giving the tour had a pronounced accent and was difficult to understand. Also, bright sunlight on the computer screens obscured much of the navigational aides he was trying to demonstrate. One interesting tidbit we learned: Unlike airplanes restricted to flight patterns, passing ships rely on radio communications with each other to determine their relative positions in the sea. Back in our room, we read and napped. After checking by phone on my folks (who weren't planning to eat), Lynn and I had a leisurely glass of wine in the cocktail lounge before joining the Canadian couple for dinner. Bilha had more color and looked less wan. The evening entertainment was a professional pickpocket who demonstrated his proficiency by snatching wallets, watches etc. from unsuspecting audience members. On stage, he then produced his purloined "bounty" for the owners to come up and claim. One "victim" was our tablemate, Paul, whose watch had been taken. (Paul later told us he never felt a thing). I knew my parents would have really enjoyed this performance. June 13 We arrived for breakfast to find Mom and Dad already seated. Finally they had some appetite. This morning, the ship would be docking in the former East German port of Warnemunde. I had previously downloaded train schedules and planned for us all to take the historical "Molli" a steam-engine train which travels between the coastal towns of Bad Doberan and Kuhlungsborn. Understandably, however, my parents were not up for venturing very far from the ship. Thus, Lynn and I were on our own. The ship berthed less than a block from the train station, and after our Eurorail travels last summer, negotiating the rail system was easy. We caught a train to the city of Rostock and then transferred to another that brought us to Bad Doberan. From there, the "Molli" station was a mere 100 yards away, and we had just enough time to purchase tickets before the little steam engine arrived. The ride was quite scenic, and as our train chugged through the quaint seaside resorts it attracted a lot of attention from other tourists. Passengers could hop on and off at any stop along the way, but we elected to stay onboard for the entire two-hour excursion. This way, there would be enough time to see Rostock afterwards. Rostock remains "off the beaten path" for most visitors to Germany, but we found it to be a lovely place. Portions of the medieval city wall remain and there are watchtowers, city gates, old churches, parks and gardens to enjoy. Best of all, tourists were conspicuously absent. In fact, this was the first European city we had visited so far where few people spoke English. However, the locals were quite friendly and much can be accomplished through gestures. We had a tasty lunch at a small cafe and made a few medicinal purchases. Strolling through the streets and admiring the sights, I belatedly realized that walking on cobblestones had exacerbated my back pain. Unfortunately, the train station was now several miles away. The local trolley (which we knew originated at the train station) offered a perfect solution but the ticket vending machine was confusing. A kind man sensed our dilemma and assisted us just as a trolley arrived. Back at the port city of Warnemunde, crowds of people milled about the waterfront. Despite all the tourists, the city managed to maintain a certain charm. A pedestrian-only street, lined with shops and cafes, followed the quay before ultimately terminating at the three-mile beach. We took a quick photo of an adorable baby playing in the sand, returned to the ship, and called my parents. They joined us for cocktails and dinner, which was open-seating that night. Everyone was tired after eating and opted for an early bedtime, with Lynn asleep by 8:30. June 14 Today the ship was supposed to arrive in Helsingborg, Sweden, the only tendered port of call on this voyage. However, an early announcement by the captain indicated we would instead be diverting to Copenhagen, since he considered the waters too rough for safe tendering. On this revised schedule, passengers could not disembark until almost noon, while the last shuttle would return to the ship at 3:00 p.m. This allowed only a three hour window in Copenhagen, but Lynn and I were delighted. It should be just enough time to see the Ny Carlsburg Museum, previously closed because of the Danish holiday. We discussed our plan with my parents at breakfast. An hour later, Mom phoned our room and said she wanted to accompany us to the museum. Without thinking, I blurted out, "But it's too long a walk for you". After I hung up the phone, we realized that it should be possible to find a cab, and called her back. However, by now she had changed her mind about going. (I suspected this was because Mom didn't want to inconvenience us, but couldn't dissuade her). Using stealth and persistence, Lynn and I managed to catch one of the first shuttles to Kings' Square. From there it was a 25 minute brisk walk to the museum where we had just enough local currency for the admission. The imposing building had been renovated to enclose a huge atrium while broad hallways and marble staircases led up to the museum's impressionist exhibits. Of course, the Carlsburg couldn't compete with the sheer volume of artwork at the Hermitage but neither did it have the hordes of visitors. The quality of artwork was impressive: There was an absolutely gorgeous painting by Van Gogh and we really enjoyed the extensive collection of sculptures by Rodin. Thanks to Denmark's long history of conquests (and pillaging), the museum's antiquity section was absolutely amazing and filled with Phoenician and Egyptian artifacts. (Now I felt really bad about leaving Mother behind. She loves antiquities). Hating to leave, we subsequently had to almost jog back to the square where a long line of passengers awaited the shuttle. Once onboard, we visited with my parents before going to dinner. It was the first time in days where all six of us were present at the table. (Our waiters were also pleased to see everyone, especially as this was the night when tips were distributed). June 15 This final day of our cruise was spent at sea. Unfortunately, I neglected to record it in my journal and the details now are somewhat sketchy. For the first time since the cruise started, skies were overcast. We had been incredibly lucky with the weather. In fact, the previous evening the entertainment director announced, "The Baltic area gets an average of only 67 days of sun a year and you have experienced 14 of them". Since the ocean was a little rough, I wasn't feeling very well myself. (At least, I hoped that was the reason I was feeling nauseous). Consequently, I ate very little all day. The pick-pocket expert was back for the afternoon entertainment and based on our enthusiastic reviews, my folks accompanied us to hear his presentation. However, this time the expert focused on techniques to avoid becoming a victim. His presentation was interesting, but not nearly as entertaining as his previous one had been. Early that evening, Dad became sick again. The infirmary was closed, but I made such a fuss they agreed to see him anyway. Probably because he rallied enough to flirt with the nurse, the doctor didn't share my concern about his state of health and he was sent back to his room. All the shipboard shops were holding their final big sales and we bought some T-shirts for both son-in-laws. Our library books were returned, and bags were packed. The cruise was almost over. June 16 and 17 This morning's docking at the Port of Dover was scheduled to occur around 7:30. We met my folks for an early breakfast, relieved to see that both were feeling fine. Although the dining area was packed, our favorite breakfast waiter diverted other passengers away from an empty table until we were seated. Lynn and my return flights were booked through United Air which meant we would be departing from Heathrow Airport. Since my parents were flying out of Gatwick, we would be taking a different bus from the cruise terminal. We said our goodbyes. Except for the initial problems, Lynn and I had thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. However, it was sad to think my parents would (justifiably) consider this one of their worst trips. From the bus we could see the famous White Cliffs of Dover and our early arrival at the airport enabled us to secure emergency exit seats, invaluable on such a long flight. We flew out of London at 4:15 in the afternoon and landed in Dulles Airport at Washington D.C. around 7:00 p.m. After clearing customs we placed our bags onto the conveyor belt for our last leg of the journey back to Pittsburgh. That flight was scheduled to depart at 10:30 in the evening but, to our horror, we learned it had been cancelled due to insufficient crew. Now we needed to spend the night in Washington and rebook for tomorrow. There was a horrendous line at United's Customer Service counter and we were at the end of it. However, I just couldn't believe this was the only customer service center. Leaving Lynn waiting, I finally found a gate attendant who told me there was another one in the next terminal, only a 10 minute walk away. I ran back to inform Lynn (who hadn't advanced even one step forward) and we zipped over to the alternative Service Center. With no line at all, we were quickly rebooked and given vouchers for two meals and overnight accommodations at a nearby hotel. Our revised flight left at 2:00 p.m. the next day, allowing us plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and an airport lunch. We arrived back in Pittsburgh before dinner only to discover our entire luggage was lost. Oh well, at this point we didn't care. We were home! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This is our 2nd Cruise with Celebrity, the previous was on Mercury to Alaska. Having booked Concierge Class we were directed for priority embarkation which was very quick and even the non priority check in line was small, hence a quick and ... Read More
This is our 2nd Cruise with Celebrity, the previous was on Mercury to Alaska. Having booked Concierge Class we were directed for priority embarkation which was very quick and even the non priority check in line was small, hence a quick and efficient boarding process. The cabin was spacious, clean and had a good size balcony - the only downside was the overhang from the above floor which occasionally blocked the sun. One slight gripe was the electric sockets were very close to the dressing table and made it difficult to plug items in including the supplied hairdryer! The cabin steward (Servio) and assistant were very helpful and attentive and gave you the impression they really were happy to assist. Our safe battery failed and it took only 10 minutes for an engineer to call and replace it! The public rooms were good, clean and well located; it has an impressive 3 tier theatre with good visibility from nearly all areas. The air conditioning in the theatre was very good on the bottom tiers but it did seem a little hot higher up. The Celebrity Singers and Dancers were very good and so were the featured guest acts, there did however seem to be a heavy focus on vocalists and musical instrument based acts- guitarist, pianist and violinist who were also reflected in some of the day time activities/talks. There was only one comedian on who was good but very tame and an informative 'pickpocket' session from Bob Arno which was both funny and informative. The brochure highlighted the fact that 'Cirque du Soleil' would perform onboard however this did not materialize and there was no mention of this by the Cruise Director or any of the other staff on board. The rest of the ship was well presented, it had a good selection of bars, 'The Bar at the Edge of the Earth having recently been refitted whilst in dry dock, together with a martini bar and champagne bar which had a good selection. The gym was well equipped and the Aqua Spa prices were good value - the prices appear to have reduced since our last Celebrity Cruise (I may be wrong!). The food was fantastic- couldn't fault the quality, quantity or service. One night we booked a table at the 'Ocean Liners' select restaurant which cost an extra $30 pp cover charge. This is well worth the money, I didn't think the quality and service could improve from the normal 'San Marco' restaurant - how wrong I could be, it truly is the ultimate dining experience! One day we should have visited Helsingborg in Sweden, which would have been a tender service. Due to apparently bad sea conditions, the captain decided not to tender and instead proceeded to Copenhagen, not that I am an expert on sea conditions, but it appeared okay to me and many of my fellow passengers. On top of this they then charged for the shuttle bus in Copenhagen which I considered ought to have been free for the inconvenience (Shore Excursions and Guest Relations desks didn't share my view). One other slight disappointment was the location of the port in Stockholm. I am aware that large ships cannot dock in certain ports due to size/weight etc, however we were in the cargo/ferry terminal and RCL Jewel of the Seas (a similar sized ship) docked very close to the city. I am quite sure there was room for 2 ships to dock there and I assume it comes down to docking costs- something you don’t expect to be an issue for this cruise line. Overall it was a very good cruise, excellent service, food and good ports of call (not to mention the extremely good weather which was in the 70’s most days) and we will definitely return to Celebrity in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Just returned from a 14 night cruise from Dover to St. Petersburg; and back; very satisfied. This was my fourth cruise; third cruise on Celebrity; and minus a few minor points; something I would recommend to one and all. EMBARKATION: One ... Read More
Just returned from a 14 night cruise from Dover to St. Petersburg; and back; very satisfied. This was my fourth cruise; third cruise on Celebrity; and minus a few minor points; something I would recommend to one and all. EMBARKATION: One word; smooth. We booked the cruise and the pre-package; including transfers through Celebrity. The hotel stay was at the City Inn at Westminister. Great location; easy walking to the Underground. Would suggest purchasing the London Pass; for access to a day or two pass to most places of interest and Underground pass for unlimited travel in the City. The transfer to/from airport went without any problem; and the day of the cruise was relaxing and stress-free. We arrived at the dock; walked to the checkin; which mind you no line for the concierge class; and very small wait for regular check-in; at 1 P.M. PUBLIC ROOMS: Another one word;pleasant. I say pleasant; because as a traveler; you realize that a contained ship that is in constant movement; with a new group of customers coming and going; every 1-2 weeks;it can be difficult at best to keep the ship maintained. However, this ship was clean, and well maintained. Always greeted at the entrances to the dining areas with cloth or liquid hand sanitizers. No complaints; from the decor to the the crew; who by the way; was always smiling and greeting you as you traveled the ship's corridors. CABIN: Acceptable. I say acceptable; not to deter from the excellent service given to us by our room stewart; and his assistant; but after two weeks on the ship; if you spent anytime in the room; you wonder why something could not be done to update the furnishings; and make it less like a cheap motel; one stayed in during college spring break days. Seriously; a few more pictures on the wall; maybe a t.v that had a remote control that worked; and of course something other than a color plan in mind of an old rerun of the Golden Girls. Sorry; it just seemed; since the curtain was about an inch or two; too short; that with very little darkness; the dated colors was the first and last thing you looked at every day. Remember; Jim and I were there during the longest days for daylight of the year; so no matter what time of the day; the room was light to walk around. One suggestion; maybe some blackout curtains; like the ones used in Vegas. Being someone that can wake up without an alarm clock; once the sun is up; there were many mornings; when Jim; could have thrown me off the balcony; since it was only 4 A.M. and I was up; requesting coffee. Besides the decor; one word on the cleanliness of the room; excellent. Never a problem with bunnies under the bed; dirty towels; nor an endless supply of coffee. In fact; Gregorio; even remember my Brother n sister in law; who had stayed in the same room for a cruise 8 months prior on a southern caribbean cruise. That may have been the reason for the endless coffee; they are big coffee drinkers; lol. canapes; Celebrity; please either devise a way to keep them fresh; or offer something else to your guests; they were stale. DINING: I am someone that anxiously looks forward to the moment you meet your table guests; and enjoy the conversation with new people; even though you may encounter some duds. This was not the case on this cruise. Chris, Elaine, Shelley and Tim; GREAT People; thank you again for making our cruise special. Food; Excellent; no complaints; and when there was any; Sam and Antonio was there to fix it. Remember; as noted by others on Cruise Critic; food does repeat itself; but what do you expect trying to cook for 2000 people over two weeks. For the price; on Celebrity; the food is great. MINOR POINTS: Please; someone at Corporate; stop the forced picture taking at the tables. Or at least if you must; please ask if anyone wants their picture taken; so they can swallow the food before the flash goes off. Just a thought; its only polite not to interrupt the Grazing process of your guests. Tallinn; for those going on excursions; avoid the trip to Rakvere; unless you enjoy 5 hours round trip to a pre-Disney site. Seriously; what was Celebrity thinking; fake blood; in a pitch dark cellar; and then to have the Excursion include a chance to be a vodka connoisseur. HMMM, we found out the hard way; you had the chance to taste the vodka; they later tried to sell to you; if you were one of five they selected. Not my idea of the tour; so I complained. In two days; I received a less-than acceptable letter; saying I should have read the description of the tour better. Sorry; that wasn't acceptable; nor was the fact that office should have avoided arguing with a guest that was just trying to afford some helpful suggestions. After meeting with the Customer relationships; the problem was fixed. Thank you; but word to the wise; if there is a problem; seek help on board. Any questions; email me; and thank you again Celebrity Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Because of bad weather, we missed airline connections and ultimately, the ship's departure. Since we had purchased our air travel through Celebrity, I naively assumed they would rebook us. Wrong! We had to get ourselves to Oslo, the ... Read More
Because of bad weather, we missed airline connections and ultimately, the ship's departure. Since we had purchased our air travel through Celebrity, I naively assumed they would rebook us. Wrong! We had to get ourselves to Oslo, the next port of call. Their Norwegian agent who was supposed to meet us never showed up and had to ultimately be tracked down by the airport Visitor Center. When we got to the ship, without a boarding pass security would not allow us onboard. Piteous pleading produced no results, and it was only after threatening a dockside "riot" that someone from the ship finally came to help us out. In all fairness, once we were finally onboard, the staff "bent over backwards" to insure a pleasant voyage. Our room was spacious and the food, tasty. We never book the ship's excursions. They are pricey, unflexible, and have too many people. Independent touring is easy. The following is our itinerary 1. Oslo: Take the local tram (station right by dock) and visit Vigeland Park. A ferry brings you to Bygdoy Peninsula. From there walk to Kon Tiki and Fram Museums. See Akershus Fortress, next to where the ship is berthed. 2. Copenhagen: We enjoyed the two hour walking tour from the Visitor Center. Close by is the NYCarlsberg Glyptotek museum. It is fabulous! (The Resistance Museum, which we didn't have time to visit, other passengers said was excellent). Skip Tivoli gardens. We didn't go there, but our tablemates did and said it was expensive and crowded. A walk along the harbor brings you to the Little Mermaid statue. 3. Tallinn: They have an excellent English speaking walking/bus tour that leaves from the Visitor Center near the dock. Buy a TalinnCard and the tour is included (as well as free admission to museums etc). Afterwards, spend time in the Old City. Visit the Estonian History Museum and climb the stairs of Oleviste Church Tower for a great view. 4. St. Petersburg: We used Alla Tours for both days. She did a wonderful job and allowed us to customize our tour to fit our needs. With Alla, you do not need a visa, but must present your "invitation" from the tour group which she will email you. I suggest at least a 6 wk. lead time before departure to get all papers in order. 5.Helsinki: We took a bus tour sponsored by the local Visitor Center which also allows passengers to get off and visit the Rock Church and Sibelius Monument. Even more, we enjoyed taking the ferry to Suomenlinna, a series of 6 small islands. This was once the sea fortress guarding Helsinki and is a very popular picnic area. (Ferry was loaded with local families). We loved it! Lilacs were blooming everywhere, the old fortress ruins were fun and rocky ledges overlooking the sea made for a perfect picnic spot. Purchase food for a picnic at the Helsinki waterfront outdoor market. You will want to spend several hours on the islands. 6. Stockholm: The only disappointment we encountered using local sources. Their walking tour did not start until mid-June and the bus tour got so bogged down in traffic we missed our scheduled harbor boat ride. (Although they cheerfully refunded our $ for that portion of the tour). Don't miss the Vasa Museum, which contains a flagship that was raised from the seabed in the 1960's after sinking on her maiden voyage in 1628.They have a nice cafe where you can eat lunch. A scenic (rather long) walk along the harbor gets you to the museum, or you can take a ferry instead. This is a "not to miss" attraction" 7. Warnemunde: Skip the trip to Berlin. Instead buy train tickets (the station is right at the dock) and go to Rostock. This city still maintains much medieval charm. We also took the train from Rostock up to Bad Doberan and caught the "mollie" an antique steam engine train that goes through the coastal resorts. You can hop on and off and it is a very scenic ride. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
We had high hopes for this journey on the Celebrity Constellation. A fine looking ship awaited us in the Dover harbor and we had a smooth embarking process and were on board quickly. This made up somewhat for the 2 hour delay awaiting ... Read More
We had high hopes for this journey on the Celebrity Constellation. A fine looking ship awaited us in the Dover harbor and we had a smooth embarking process and were on board quickly. This made up somewhat for the 2 hour delay awaiting Constellation transportation from Gatwick to the ship. Our previous one and only cruise was on Holland America lines and their ship the Statendam to Alaska which a great first beginning to cruising. We had a nice welcome aboard the Constellation and our cabin was wonderful, great size and balcony and very large bathroom. We explored the Connie and awaited to meet our four new tablemates at dinner. Well,they were great and wonderful Brits that we came to really like and enjoy and friendships were made. The big problem was the food;it was tasteless,overcooked, hard as a rock(vegetables) and the fruit was over the hill. We all tried to make the best of it but when we ordered steaks one night, four of them rare and all came back overcooked that was it! We complained to the staff but no avail. Anyway,that was a downer. We enjoyed the Gym and the earlier opening hours of 6am pleased us as did the nice gym towels and great view. We found the shows less then stellar, but did enjoy the comedy night and several of the music shows. The Constellation show people were great dancers but poor singers and when will the ship get the point that older guests hate loud amphed up music? It drove everyone nuts. The ports of call were great. St.Petersburg the charm with a wonderful ballet and tours of the Pushkin estate and its quiet and subdued gardens, and immense wealth. The tours in Estonia, and Lithiuania were likewise enjoyable and eye opening, both the beauty of Tallin, and the warmness of the people. The Solidary museum in Poland a must see, but the rest of Gadinsk leaves a lot to be desired. We returned happy and loved the overall ambience of the ship. We found the crew that attended to our room needs outstanding and helpful. We found the food staff unable to satisfy us with respect to our problems with the food and laid the blame on the kitchen. No solution was found for this. Most disappoint to us that this is a five star line and the food brought our trip down to a 3 star level. In comparison to our first cruise the Constellation did not provide value for the dollar spent and did not live up to its billing. The HAL trip to Alaska had outstanding food and service and this line was no comparison to that trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Our cruise on the Constellation to the Baltic was our second and last with Celebrity, the first being on the Summit to the Panama Canal in 2006.We rated everything on that cruise above average. Check in at Dover was done quickly and ... Read More
Our cruise on the Constellation to the Baltic was our second and last with Celebrity, the first being on the Summit to the Panama Canal in 2006.We rated everything on that cruise above average. Check in at Dover was done quickly and our luggage arrived promptly. The lifeboat drill was done very professionally and the ship sailed on time. The cabin and public areas were very clean. The ship had been in dry-dock for 19 days before the cruise for refurbishing including carpeting, paint, and cleaning. The ship seemed to have a strong odor of chemicals for several days after sailing; this was a major problem for many of the passengers with asthma and other respiratory problems. Our cabin staff did an excellent job and were very attentive. Many Europeans smoked and did not comply with non smoking regulations. This was a problem at times. We found the dining room staff excellent, however, the remaining categories were not comparable to our first cruise with Celebrity or on several other cruises.The dining room was very comfortable and our service staff was outstanding and very attentive and worked hard to make our dining experience memorable. The menu was extensive, however some of the food was poorly prepared and a few items were of poor quality. Some of the entrEes had cooled before serving. The food and service at the buffet was far below that on the Summit or other cruise lines. On most occasions eggs, waffles, and toast were burned and other items were poorly prepared and cold. Many items were over cooked and of poor quality. A few of the serving staff were curt when questioned. The food at the Aqua Spa was excellent and the menu is designed to be light and healthy. We found ourselves eating at this location quite often. The entertainment was average except for the concert pianist and the dancers who performed in the shows. The sound system level was comparable to a rock concert at times and inappropriate for a stage show. We found the ports to be interesting, especially St. Petersburg and Tallin Estonia. Would strongly recommend that a private tour be arranged in St. Petersburg before your trip to save time and long lines. Four of us booked two days through Red October an American owned private tour company and were very pleased. We did not save money compared to multiple tours with Celebrity, However, our experience was superior to tours at other ports booked through the ship. In summary, we found the ship to be clean and the dinning and cabin staff to be outstanding. The ports of call were very interesting and enjoyable. Entertainment and ship staff was average and food preparation and quality average to poor. Compared to our other experiences, especially our Panama Canal cruise on the Summit, we would rate the Constellation below average. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Since I haven't seen anyone else post a review yet, here is my take; Background: We've been on 6 cruises, this was our second on Celebrity. Our first cruise was on the Summit in 2004 and that left a great impression on us. ... Read More
Since I haven't seen anyone else post a review yet, here is my take; Background: We've been on 6 cruises, this was our second on Celebrity. Our first cruise was on the Summit in 2004 and that left a great impression on us. Room: We had room 6104, a Celebrity Suite and my initial impression was disappointment. The couch was stained and ripped. The sitting chair was lumpy, apparently from too many people sitting on the edge of the chair. The bathroom had mold growing around the tiles in the shower and the shower head would not stay up (this was later fixed). The tv in the bedroom always shut off after about 30 to 40 minutes and to restart it, we had to unplug it, then plug it back in. Entertainment: Excellent. All the entertainers were great to excellent. This is one aspect where I think Celebrity has greatly improved in the last couple of years since our last trip Food: Great food in the dinning room, although the menu started to repeat itself. The Cod one night was the worst I have ever had. The buffet left a lot to be desired. The selections were not that varied and the quality was not that good. I ended up eating a sandwich wrap on most days, because I couldn't find much I liked. Service: Great. The Butler was a little cold at first, but he warmed up to us near the end. The waitstaff and cleaning staff were all very good. The ship looks a bit tired and could use a refurbishment, which I believe it will have early next year. Other then that, the staff did a good job of keeping things clean. Other Passengers: We met some great people, others had a bit of a NY attitude, and I saw several passengers either berating or scolding some of the staff, which I didn't think they deserved. Weather: For the most part was good, although we did hit some bumps in the crossing, especially on the second sea day when the winds were very strong. Overall it was a good cruise. Our butler was telling me how things have changed on Celebrity and how they were not allowed to say no before. Now they say yes, but there will be a charge for this or that. He also said that ever since RCCL bought Celebrity thing have been changing daily and they keep making more cutbacks. One thing that Celebrity should clarify is the Private Portrait Sitting that suite guests are supposed to get. What does this mean? I thought it meant we got a complimentary photo, but no one knew what we were talking about. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
embarkation at Dover was the best we have ever experienced; 30 minutes to reach cabin. Our luggage arrived quickly. Cabin and public areas still in excellent condition (we had sailed on Constellation in 2003). the ship was full with ... Read More
embarkation at Dover was the best we have ever experienced; 30 minutes to reach cabin. Our luggage arrived quickly. Cabin and public areas still in excellent condition (we had sailed on Constellation in 2003). the ship was full with almost no children Arrived in amsterdam 90 minutes late which delayed to start of our tour and caused it to be 30 minutes shorter than advertised. Tour guide not very good; seemed to feel that we should not require service on a Sunday Next day we took tour to Brugge; the town is very attractive but the guide was inaudible. we complained but nothing was done. Our morning in Honfleur was very pleasant; an attractive town and nice weather. At Greenock the weather was poor, low cloud and rain. The trip to Stirling Castle was fine but the countryside was invisible. this time the guide was excellent and compensated for the bad weather. Traffic in Dublin was horrific and our trips were cut short because we stood still in traffic. We had to pay for a shuttle bus into town; on previous Celebrity cruises the shuttle buses had been free. At Cobh we took the train to Cork and walked in the rain. During the Atlantic crossing we had some rough weather but the captain put on speed so that we could avoid a hurricane that was coming north across the Atlantic. We had much rougher weather during the south American cruise in january on the Millennium. We felt that the restaurant food quality was not as good as we had previously enjoyed but the service was excellent. The Ocean Liners restaurant was excellent in every way. The entertainment was similar to our previous celebrity experiences. Some of the special shows we had seen before on the Millennium. Both pianist Pearl Kaufman and singer Linsay Hamilton were excellent, as were the talks by John Maxwell-graham. The only negative about the 30 minute show by Cirque du soleil was that it was too short. The disembarkation experience at port Liberty left a terrible lasting impression on us. We were told to attend immigration at 7.10am; we with 100's of others stood in line for ages outside the theater waiting for something to happen. We were due to get off the ship at 9.20am but 2000 people were kept waiting until 9.55 am before anybody could get off the ship. If there were announcements we could not hear them. Finally, after getting our luggage, we got to the the Newark terminal at 10.50 am. Many people missed their flights. AVOID any Celebrity cruise that ends at Port Liberty. Overall a good cruise but spoilt at the end Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
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