Baltic Cruise May 2nd 2009.
To begin at the beginning. We arrived at Harwich in good time to find a queue of vehicles a hundred yards long . Apparently Celebrity had little or nothing to do with the process involved in parking . This ... Read More
Baltic Cruise May 2nd 2009.
To begin at the beginning. We arrived at Harwich in good time to find a queue of vehicles a hundred yards long . Apparently Celebrity had little or nothing to do with the process involved in parking . This was a nightmare, as we waited another 30 minutes to park our car. Having parked , registering and getting on to the Constellation was a relatively simple process and all credit to Celebrity. Departing the ship at the end of the cruise was a smooth and efficient process and "ran like a Swiss watch."
The Constellation is an older ship launched between 2000 and 2002 She has a displacement of 91,000 tons and can carry about 2,000 passengers. Having said that ,I felt that there was little sign of wear. Everything seemed to be relatively new and shiny. If you looked hard enough however, signs of her age could be found. The dreariest venue on the ship was the "bar at the edge of the world". This was a dire area on the Sunrise deck and was once known as "Reflections". It was divided into smoking and non smoking sides.(who believes that smoke takes sides?) and the whole room reeked of tobacco .I strayed there but once, for some evening entertainment, and never went back. The library on board is small and functional but needs a good over hall together with some love and affection. It might also be worth investing in some stock which reflects on British interests, whilst sailing from UK based ports. There are lots of small areas were one might secret oneself away for that quiet read. The many shops were amongst the best I have seen on recent cruises and were presented in a very pleasant small mall. My wife put her foot down here and stopped me from buying a watch at $1600 ,which I reckoned to be a good saving on the UK price.(she says I can get one on St Thomas, next year!)
Celebrity Constellation is celebrating its first year sailing from the UK and it showed. We were told by the staff that 80% of those on board were Brits, yet in spite of this the US bias was apparent almost everywhere (understandably). We celebrated Mother's Day on May 11th, ( March in the UK) then ran out of Boddingtons beer on day two and had to wait until the bar was restocked in a Baltic port . The films on board were US themed as was the art on sale at the art auctions. The young lady at the art auction continually referred to world famous artists, like Peter Nixon for example. How many Brits have heard of him? At the start of the cruise the activities staff had to be cajoled into losing the US bias at each of the quizzes. What does the average Brit know about baseball or for that matter basketball .This was soon rectified however and general knowledge was substituted for what seemed to be US knowledge. Even the girls in the Beauty Salons were complaining of boredom and resultant long lunches as the Brits gave these areas a body swerve. My friend complained that she had paid less for similar treatments in London. Celebrity , take note.
Afternoon activities ,I thought, were poor and some of the evening theatre shows were passE . I was able ,for example, to finish most of Billy Boyle's jokes and stories. The ventriloquist on board was as old as Methuselah and so was his act. Evening entertainment in the central atrium area was mostly supplied by the permanently smiling Les DeMerle (see him at http://www.lesdemerlemusic.com/) alongside his lead singer Bonnie Eisele. Good, but could be a little on the loud side, making conversation difficult. On some nights, Karaoke featured in this area and as is usual at such events there were some who could sing and some who should have been drowned at birth (or at least disowned) I hope some of you are reading this!!
The ships dancers are talented and put on a reasonably good show, however the highlight of the cruise, for me, was the delightful Seonaid Aitken, (see her at http://www.seonaidaitken.com/ ) This Scottish singer and violinist received standing ovations.
As for the ports of call, they were all fantastic, the highlight being St Petersburg. Amsterdam, Warnemunde, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Talinn are all readily accessible on foot, taking between 20 and 30 minutes to reach from the ship. I felt sorry for many passengers who were ripped off by the exorbitant cost of the shuttles into the various cities , particularly those of a certain age and those with mobility issues. These transfers should be inbuilt into the cruise, or should cost a couple of dollars at the most. $10-$15 dollars is just not acceptable! I must admit, I missed the "port lectures" as given by Princess, on entering or leaving ports, broadcast over the ships public address system. Last year this was a main feature of our cruise and just added to the delight of Venice, Monaco and Istanbul.
Our balcony cabin was well sited and had everything I have come to expect. Our friends went Concierge Class and were a little disappointed given the extra cost and concomitant "extras". Next time they will settle for an ordinary balcony, just like us.
The dining area was delightful and the menus could put many top class restaurants to shame. We were seldom disappointed and sometimes pleasantly surprised at the wide and varied dishes on offer. The waiting staff were most courteous and well informed making the dining experience a most attractive prospect, after a long day ashore Even the casual dining area offered a wide range of foods, including Sushi . Hats off to Celebrity on this one! On a few occasions we had breakfast delivered to our room and this went smoothly except for one morning when it arrived at least 40 minutes early, when I was forced to eat my breakfast half asleep. The staff also managed to put coffee in the flask instead of the hot water for the tea bags supplied. A minor blip.
Overall, this was a most enjoyable first cruise with Celebrity and one that I would be only too willing to repeat. Read Less