57 Harwich Family Cruise Reviews

We are from Hong Kong and we cruised before on Princess and NCL America before. We are Chinese, I am 37, my wife is same age, my sister is 49 and my father is 73. Well, this could get long so I will say it here, we really enjoyed this ... Read More
We are from Hong Kong and we cruised before on Princess and NCL America before. We are Chinese, I am 37, my wife is same age, my sister is 49 and my father is 73. Well, this could get long so I will say it here, we really enjoyed this cruise. We loved the food, the ports and the staff were excellent. We do recommend this cruise to our friends. The ship's shuttle buses were expensive though, but if you can find your own way to get around the ports (just do a little more research before you go) you should have no problem. For example, Celebrity charges US$100 per person for the transfer from Harwich to Heathrow. We spent just GBP21 each using train and tube. We had to haul our own luggage along but we were up to it so no problem. We also wish there was a self-service launderette on the ship for us to use, like they have on Princess or NCL, since we had to fly such a long way we could carry only so much clothing. Fortunately this was summer so we didn't have to worry about jumpers or coats. Food Dinner in San Marco is excellent. Our waiter Cyrel was very professional and very helpful. The menu changes everyday for 14 days and it was just so good. We are so happy we didn't even try Ocean Liners. On the day we left Copenhagen at the formal dinner, the entire kitchen staff and the waiters came out in a parade with the ships's captain, so remember to bring your cameras. On two of the sea days the San Marco also served brunch from 10am, so that gave us the chance to have a good sleep-in. Seaside Cafe was where we had our breakfasts and lunches. There was a lot of variety and the quality is good. But strangely there were not many soup options. Coffee is bad both in San Marco and Seaside Cafe. Probably served from the same coffee machine. Celebrity really needs to look into it. I resorted to drinking teas. When we left Amsterdam at 2pm, the Seaside Cafe was totally packed as everyone returned to the ship for lunch. I think Constellation should have opened San Marco till a later time to serve lunches that day. Cova Cafe Milano - the only place to get a decent cup of coffee onboard. Prices are alright at $3 for expresso and $4 for cappuccino. We tried AquaSpa Cafe once and enjoyed its lighter offerings and friendly staff. Entertainment If you are expecting the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman and Lang Lang, then I think you will be disappointed. But we did not because we knew it was unrealistic and honestly, which cruise line features these artists? Annette Wardell, Nicola Loud, Jordan Bennett, Mario D'Andrea, Perry Grant, Naki Ataman were what we got and we felt they did well. David Deeble, the juggler, was very good one night but not so good the other and I think he knew it himself. Performers sometimes have off days/nights. We understand that and we did not let it ruined our holiday. Embarkation We took the train from Liverpool Street. We pre-booked tickets on the internet and I just printed them out at one of the station's ticket machines. Unfortunately the Cruise Train failed to start so we took a regular train. It was quite easy at the cruise terminal, but we didn't realize we had to check our luggage first before checking in ourselves. But it all went very smoothly. Surprisingly there was no immigration or customs. Ports Amsterdam - We lost one hour's sleep at night as we arrived in Amsterdam. We went to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills. The walk from the pier to Amsterdam train station is a 15 min walk. Zaanse Schans is just 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam and very doable. On our return we took the tram back to the pier and the driver actually told us to forget the fare as it was just one stop away! The Dutch are very friendly and we hope to return one day. As the ship sail from Amsterdam to the North Sea it sailed through the North Sea Canal. The scenery was good and was very interesting. Later we learnt that some guests left the ship at Amsterdam to re-join it in Warnemunde. That is quite an interesting option and I wish I had thought of it. Warnemunde - we took the train from Warnemunde and went to Wismar and Schwerin. At Schwerin we went to BUGA, the national flower show. My father cannot walk far and the good people at BUGA lent him a electric wheelchair so he could drive it around the park. We had a very good time there and Schwerin is just so beautiful. At night when the ship departed, many small boats were around and gave us a very big send off. It was so amazing. Stockholm - we took the HOHO bus, which turned out to be a mistake in terms of costs. For 4 of us it costed 120 Euros (30 each) and we reckon that we could have just gone around in a taxi and saved a lot of it. We stopped at the Palace and the Town Hall, then went to the interesting Vasa Museum. Stockholm is beautiful and we hope to visit again. Also, the ship opened its helipad at the front to allow guests to view the fantastic sail out of the Stockholm archipelago. Helsinki - We lost another hour's sleep as we arrived in Helsinki. After Stockholm my wife said no more HOHO. This time we took a taxi to the Market Place and it costed us 15 Euros only, that's about 3.75 Euros per person, that's cheaper than either the ship's shuttle or HOHO. With the Lutheran Church and Upensky Cathedral right in the town centre, we spent the entire morning there. We bought our day pass at 7.8 Euros each and went to see the Rock Church and the Sibelius Memorial. After that it began to rain and we took another taxi back to the ship (15 Euros again). Celebrity had umbrellas at the gate for its guests to use for the short uncovered walk back to the ship. In the end we only spent about 10 Euros per head on transport, what a contrast to Stockholm. St. Petersburg - Again we move another hour forward for St. Petersburg. This is important if you have a pre-booked tour because you must be careful to reset your watches and alarm clocks. My father and sister almost missed it because they woke up an hour late. By now we are just four hours behind Hong Kong! We didn't expect the time change throughout the cruise. We joined a SPB tour organized on the cruise critic roll call board. We had a Mercedes van to our group with driver and guide. The organization was first rate but the guide sighed quite a lot as she went through some of the stories of the city, particularly the story about Rasputin. But still we saw some great sights, including Catherine Palace, Peterhof, Yusopov Palace, Church on the Spilled Blood and were very happy. One interesting story on the canal boat tour. We saw a little Russian boy wearing a red t-shirt waving at us at every bridge that we went pass. He actually chased our boat all the way round the tour. When we finally came back to the pier he was right there and I think most of us tipped him a dollar or two. Tallinn - Taxi to the old town (15 Euros) for 4 of us and we then walked our way downhill. Tallinn is a lovely little city. The old town is so nice to walk around. While we were there we saw two men rushing around with backpacks, an envelope in one of their hands, looking for a taxi with a television crew running behind them. It was "The Amazing Race"! We returned to the ship at about 1pm and we had lunch on the ship. Just as we were returning the Costa Mediterreanea docked alongside us. The two big ships docked side by side at the pier looks quite stunning. Copenhagen - We took bus no. 26 at the pier. Then we went to the central train station to change Danish Krone and bought two 10 trip 2 zone bus tickets. This ticket costs 130 Krone for 10 trips so each trip is 13 krone, which works out at less than 2 Euros per trip. We went to visit Rosenborg Castle. The treasury there is a must see. Then we went to Nyhavn for the DFDS canal tour. Nyhavn is very pretty and a tourist attraction by itself. It was such a hot day we all came back with sun burns. Celebrity had cold towels for guests returning to the ship, nice touch. The next day we took no. 26 all the way to Carlsberg's visitor centre. It was a 30 minute ride. The entrance to the visitor centre cost 60 Krone but you do get a decent sample of the company's best product at the end of the visit. There is a small replica of the Little Mermaid in the yard, too. Before we returned to the ship we went off to take pictures at the Little Mermaid proper, which is about 10 min walk from the ship. Harwich - disembarkation was easy. We went to the theater at 7:30, got our luggage back in the cruise terminal, again no immigration or customs. We were on the platform of the train station by 7:55, just nice for the 8:06 train to Liverpool Street. Others Thalassotherapy pool - Very enjoyable, the water was warmer than I thought. Emporium shopping - Almost everyday they try to layout something different there so we walk around there after dinner quite often. There was a $10 sale one night and on the day we left Copenhagen there was another sale, 3 t-shirts for $20. Bridge - We signed up for the Cruise Critics Connections Party but we missed it because something else was happening (I don't remember what though). But we were also invited for a tour of the bridge. Celebrity had an officer there explaining to us how the ship works. This was very interesting. Medical Facility - unfortunately I got cough in the middle of the cruise and I went to see the onboard doctor. He gave me a good check-up then gave me antibiotics, cough syrup and lozenges. The bill is $121.5, a little bit on the high side but I did get 5 days of medicine. 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Sail Date July 2009
This was our first cruise, us and 2 daughters aged 16 and 14. We all shared a superior balcony cabin, and it was bigger than I expected, and big enough for the 4 of us most of the time! We drove ourselves to Harwich, parked and embarked ... Read More
This was our first cruise, us and 2 daughters aged 16 and 14. We all shared a superior balcony cabin, and it was bigger than I expected, and big enough for the 4 of us most of the time! We drove ourselves to Harwich, parked and embarked easily at about 12pm. Our cabin was ready at 1pm. The ship is beautiful, and very easy to get around. It never seemed crowded except on the pooldeck on a sunny day and in the Windjammer just before arriving in port. Joff the cruise director was great, and all of the activities which we did were well done and great fun. The best was the impromptu pool party overlooking the MSC Opera!! Service was almost perfect, certainly better than you get in a normal 4 star hotel. We found the food very nice, and would be more than happy to be served most of it in a normal mid-priced restaurant (and it was always hot). We mostly ate lunch and breakfast in the Windjammer, but one day tried the Seaview cafe (not that good) and one day the MDR for lunch (ok, but too formal for us). We ate once in Chops, which was wonderful and well worth the extra. I had the rack of lamb on their recommendation, it was very nice but don't listen to them - have the filet mignon, it was amazing! We also tried Portofinos one evening - th food was no better than the MDR, and service was poor, so I wouldn't bother with that again. The children's activities were the only thing which we did not rate highly - our daughters went, but as there weren't that many kids on board a lot of the activities didn't happen, and the organizers never seemed to be there even if the kids were. The theatre entertainment was a surprise to us, we really enjoyed it. The only one we didn't rate was Andy Stewart the comedian, but the others were really good (and Gary Nardini was Fantastic!). All in all it was an excellent holiday, and we would not hesitate to recommend the Jewel of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
A little bit of background info. Family of four - 2 adults and 2 teenage boys (16 & 15) Previously on Princess Emerald and RCI Independence of the Seas. Travelled from North Wales to Harwich (staying one night in Cambridge ... Read More
A little bit of background info. Family of four - 2 adults and 2 teenage boys (16 & 15) Previously on Princess Emerald and RCI Independence of the Seas. Travelled from North Wales to Harwich (staying one night in Cambridge pre-cruise) EMBARKATION This was a breeze - mentioned numerous times on this board! SHIP I had been worried about the 'state' of the ship following many reviews of the ship. Here are my thoughts. * Not as glitzy as our previous cruise ships....but more stately and refined. * Maintenance going on all the time. Spotlessly clean at all times. * Some areas showing signs of wear and tear (thread-bare chairs, rusty verandas etc) BUT soon to be rectified in her April 2010 refurb. Did not detract from our enjoyment - and should not detract from yours! FOOD Subjective.....extremely subjective!!!! SAN MARCO RESTAURANT: * Food always hot. * Portions small, but 4 or 5 course available, so plenty of food - best described as proportinate. * Good variety. * Steak hit and miss. * Better than RCL food, but not quite hitting Princess quality. SEASIDE CAFE (BUFFET) * Always busy - no defined areas, so no one quite sure where to line up. * Good variey of food. * Best food - various curries!! ENTERTAINMENT * Good variety for most tastes. * Good string quartet and American juggler/comedian. * Entertaiment not as good as RCL. It could be improved. * Trivia - most days (sea days) very entertaining and competitive!! PORTS Amsterdam Not a lot of time in port - so we did our only ship tour. Comprehensive tour of Amsterdam with Anne Frank house. Recommended. Amsterdam was surprisingly impressive. Berlin Did a private tour from Waramunde with 21 others from the CC roll call with SPB tours (spb-tours.com) An absolutely fantastic day with the most wonderful guide (Sarah) Bus picked us up for the drive to Berlin. Visited all the 'must sees'sights. Only cost 85 Euro per person (as opposed to £200pp ship's tour)!!! Berlin, whilst a long trip from Waramunde, and if you haven't been to Berlin is highly recommended. Stockholm Did the Ho Ho buses (with boat ride) - not recommended, Too infrequent to make full use of them. Stockholm was 'pretty' and had lots of character. St Petersburg Again, we did a private 2 day tour with SPB, arranged through the roll call. It was so popular, we ended up with three tour groups! We had two fantastic days (very active days) with Elena our guide. She was incredibly knowledgeable and fun too! I would highly recommend SPB, especially if you want to book private tours in Berlin and St Petersburg. St Petersburg is a special place. Tallinn We took the Official Tallinn Sightseeing tour (free if you had a 24hr Tallinn card)....well, don't bother! A bus trip took us out of Tallinn and along the coast line before returning back to the centre for a walking guided tour. The whole trip was in English and Finish...which made it very tedious. You only need walk off the ship to Old Tallin.......no need for tours! Tallinn old town is beautiful. Helsinki We did a bus and boat tour via the helsinki expert website. The bus tour was quite enjoyable, but the sunlines CANAL tour was anything but.....no canal involved?!!!! Helsinki was quaint. We had afternoon rain. Copenhagen We bought the Ho HO bus with DFDS canal tour ticket...AGAIN....big mistake! The DFDS canal tour was fine, but the Ho HO was so infrequest...2 lines were once every hour only. Not worth the money. CONCLUSION An absolutley wonderful trip - the itinerary was perfect, a cultural delight. The weather was perfect....just a coupe of showers during the whole 2 weeks. The ship was delightful and the eclectic mix of people was fascinating - all people we met were VERY friendly. Our two teenage boys had a wonderful time on this trip....a smallish group of well behaved teenagers made for a wonderful group of friends for them. I highly recommend for families with older children. Would I sail again with Celebrity? Absolutely!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
I got back this week from my wonderful journey to Paris and London and my 14-day Baltic cruise on the Constellation (June 27th to July 11th).Am still getting back to real life, but thought I'd start my review, as things are still ... Read More
I got back this week from my wonderful journey to Paris and London and my 14-day Baltic cruise on the Constellation (June 27th to July 11th).Am still getting back to real life, but thought I'd start my review, as things are still fresh in my mind.This was our second Celebrity cruise (the other being Barcelona to Venice last May on the Summit).We cruised with our 3 kids , ages 5 , 9 and 12 (12 year old is a daughter , other are sons).We left on a Monday night from Sao Paulo-a direct flight on TAM airlines to Paris. I was very impressed-new airbus (much newer than the United airplanes I have been on recently), on time, no glitches. We had turbulence through the intertropical convergence zone (right over where the AF flight went down) but it wasn't too bad.WE arrived at noon in Paris and got a our pre-arranged shuttle to our hotel. Driver not too great or friendly. Our hotel was in Saint Germain, a small family run hotel with a cool cat named Sputnik (my kids loved him). The hotel was very well located and charming , with a very old , neat basement to have breakfast in. Yummy food!We met some friends in Paris and visited the Notre Dame , the Louvre , Musee d'Orsay , Jardin du Luxomberg, a Seine river cruise, the Eiffel Tower and a bus tour to see the general sights. We had lovely weather and a very nice time. Friday at noon we caught the Eurostar to London . Nice way to travel. Our shuttle was late picking us up because of bad traffic. We proceeded to our little B&B in a tiny town in the countryside called Mistley (the B&B is called The Mistley Thorn). LOVED it. This was one of our favorite experiences and places. The town is Georgian and it was where the Witchmaster General hung out (Vincent Price played him in a movie). There is a swan reserve there and the children loved the swans. The food at the inn was amazing and I discovered my favorite new drink-Pimm´s Lemonade-so refreshing-cheers!!Saturday at lunch time we left for Harwich-a very pretty drive . I fell in love with the English countryside and want to go back and explore more.  We arrived at the port around 1:30 and got our seapasses. Easy process , no long wait.We boarded and went to our stateroom-number 7199 , FOV , corner with it's huge balcony. Everyone here is right - can't get better than this!  Amazing stateroom , lots of storage space, very well kept. And the huge balcony ...no words can describe how it added to the pleasure of our cruising experience. The five of us were very comfortable and we created a routine in which we had no issues with only one bathroom. Our stateroom attendant, Sim from the Philippines, was efficient and did a nice job.The ship itself was in lovely shape -elegant and understated and easy to manage. We were on the Mariner of the Seas in December and I prefer the size of the M class ships. More manageable IMHO. The first night we relaxed and ate at the buffet. Because of the 3 kids , we don't eat at the MDR all the time-we find it easier and less rushed to alternate dining venues. The food at the buffet is quite nice , lots of variety and a good salad bar , as well as stir fry , sushi , a pasta station (which didn't impress me)and other options.If you'd like you can accompany our journey through our photos at www.picasaweb.google.com.br/brazilgirl1987. Our first port was Amsterdam. It is a really neat city , however I felt the stop we made there didn't even come close to doing it justice. I think Celebrity should rethink the schedule - we arrived at 8 and had to be on board at 1:45.I had booked Anne Frank at 9:00 and a canal tour for the rest of our time. Anne Frank was extremely moving. Just entering the museum brought me to tears. My two older children had studied about Anne and it was very significant for them. The youngest got a bit whiny (on the trip we had almost no whining from him-yeah!) and I thought he was bored. But later that evening, while taking a shower he stated talking about Anne Frank and saying that we all had to be quiet and that he thought she would be happy if we ordered her a pizza (he is 5). I think the whole experience brought out strong feelings that he then dealt with through his play.The canal ride was a good way to get an overview of the city. We also stopped at a sidewalk cafe and had a snack and enjoyed people watching. We had a mad dash back to the ship, which was stressful. We walked and had been told it was close and it really wasn't. The kid's club was fabulous. Lots of neat activities and a very competent staff. My 5 yr old made a best friend from Guatemala and my 9 yr old loved the scavenger hunts. My 12 yr old daughter made 2 inseparable friends who she hung out the whole cruise. I was very, very pleased with the program. My kids always wanted to be there and went with great enthusiasm.I asked about the CC breakfast in a very nice manner. Our stateroom attendant didn't seem to excited about the request, so I just let it go. The lounge chairs were very nice. Maybe someone else asked about the lounge chairs? I was worried about breakfast in my robe...lol.Our second port was Warnemunde , Germany. I had pre-booked a car and we had a lovely day. We drove to Lubeck and went to the most amazing puppet museum. The kids went wild. The owner has been collecting theater items (puppets/marionettes)since the 70s and has traveled all over the world to get them. Truly a magical place. Then we hung out near the water and had some food and ice cream. The drive to Lubeck and back was very easy and very pretty.I think when traveling with kids, car rental is a very nice option. No waiting involved, as well as the flexibility to modify schedule if needed. We also rented a car in Denmark and on our other cruise in Santorini. I like the change it gives us in pace on these longer itineraries.After arriving back, we hung out in Warnemunde , which is cool and loved the neat send off there.On our sea days, the kiddos stayed at the Fun Factory and we enjoyed our adult time reading and relaxing.The food in the MDR was quite good. On of my favorite things were an appetizer with goat cheese and salmon and a very nice penne with pancetta. Our waiter was fantastic (Cyrel) and we had a great table next to a window (524).I think they need additional staff for drink orders ,as I think in all venues it is hard to get a coke sometimes.Our kids really held up well (yeah!!!). Lots of time changes and heavy sightseeing. Some observations-planning is fundamental. I tried to mix things up, so we'd be doing lots of different kinds of things , not just museums and churches. Pre-buying tickets and such really cut down on lines and waits (I pre-booked almost everything). Lastly-give them a few breaks-in Tallinn and Helsinki we left them on the ship because they were tired and we were going to walk a lot.   We had a table for 6, which was nice. I met so many wonderful people on this cruise. A really great group. We had lovely neighbors from the Carolinas and our fellow CC members were very friendly. The members of the roll call were invited to the traditional party and also to a bridge tour, which my kids really enjoyed (as did I). As a Captain's Club member, we were invited to a cocktail party to meet the captain -we had a great time. One of my favorite things was the brunch they had twice on sea days. What a spread! I'd love it if they had it on every sea day. We also enjoyed a wine pairing seminar-informative and fun.We dined twice at Ocean Liners (on our other cruise we dined twice at the Normandie). I had read about lots of changes, but quite frankly, I didn't really observe any at all. The service continues to be impeccable and the food is first class. The goat cheese soufflE is still mouth-watering, as all other items on the menu. Everyone should go at least once on their cruise.Our next port: Stockholm!!When asked what my favorite things on the trip were, I'd be hard-pressed to answer. But I'd have to say Mistley (England) , Stockholm and Denmark. Stockholm is a dream-gorgeous! We had our hottest day (we wore shorts). I'd purchased Stockholm passes online. We caught the bus from the pier (easy) and arrived right by the Vasa Museum. It was crowded, but still comfortable. What an amazing feat...it is hard to believe the whole store of salvaging the ship. The restoration process is beautiful to see. We all loved it.We then walked to Skansen-enchanting. People in period costumes , quaint buildings and the zoo with Nordic animals. You get so close to the animals. We even got to pet reindeer!!! We had a Swedish lunch at Skansen, then caught a tram back to the bridge. We still had time and our Stockholm cards , so we decided to stop at the Pippi Longstocking Museum. Loved, loved, loved it. What a magical place for kids. My 3 kids had the best time (even the 12 year old).She was by far the oldest there , but she really played a lot. There were almost no tourists-just Swedish kids (all cute and blond-my daughter kept saying she wanted to be blonde and blue-eyed too! Ha!)We went back to the ship, tired and happy.This was the day we most enjoyed our balcony-we sat out and had dinner delivered from the MDR (drunken shrimp linguini) and watched the ship go through the archipelago. Absolutely stunning.The next day we were in Helsinki - I'd planned to go to the fort and have a picnic, but when we got up the weather was ugly. So we decided to leave the kids on board and just explore (if we just walk around with no destination, they tend to complain!).We got the Celebrity shuttle downtown and decided to go shopping at the huge Stockman dept. store. We did some damage then had a cocktail at a sidewalk cafe. We walked around, saw some other sights and went back. Nice low-key day. The weather turned out to be great (big change from the morning). Now we are in St. Petersburg!I had really studied up on this port and read lots and lots of reviews. I decided the best option for our family would be to go through one of the many approved agencies (Denrus, Alla, Anastasia, Red October etc...). I opted for Anastasia, as I had read many positive reviews. I also sent many e-mails asking for estimates to all the different agencies and Anastasia was very prompt and flexible.I was not disappointed!We arrived on a rather rainy morning and I did not follow the little letter asking the people one non-Celebrity tour to gather at the Bar of the Edge of the Earth. I just went down to disembarkation and got in the huge line (full of people on Celebrity tours). My DH didn't want to disobey the ship , but I told him that it was o.k, and that he had to trust me. He was convinced after everything went fine.We went through Russian immigration, got our red visitors passes and were off on our adventure. We had found another family on our roll call to share the tour with-a couple and their 11 yr old daughter. Our girls became inseparable and the tour was so nice with these new friends.We started the day at Peterhof, which is gorgeous. We had lunch at one of the cafes, then went to St. Petes by hydrofoil. We then went on to Yusopov´s Palace , where we had a tour given by Anastasia herself. The palace is smaller than all the others and was easier to get around. Our kids loved the story of Rasputin. We watches a small men's choir perform-haunting.We ended our first day with a private canal tour -the boat was only for our small group of 8, which was special.Our guide was Elena, a 23 yr old woman full of culture and sweetness. She was very thoughtful and attentive and paid special attention to the kids needs. She gave us so much history and perspective on Russian life. Truly wonderful.Our second day was a bit shorter. We started out at the Hermitage. It is overwhelming and amazing. Such a wealth of culture and beauty and history in one place. The kids did well the first hour , then the 5 yr got a bit whiny. Elena immediately changed the pace, taking us to a room full of medieval armor and weapons , which he loved.The Impressionist collection is gorgeous - I couldn't believe the Matisses....We then went on a city van tour and stopped at this wonderful pie restaurant which was full of atmosphere and delicious food (at great prices!) We continued on our tour and visited the battleship Aurora (not scheduled-again thinking of the kids). We stopped at a shop for great souvenirs and then finished our day at the exquisite Church of Spilled Blood.   The ship provided the immigration forms. Anastasia had sent us (online) travel tickets before hand. The forms, tickets, your passport and a copy of the main picture page of your passport is all that was needed.We paid for almost everything with a credit card-our lunch the first day at Peterhof, our souvenirs ...we paid for our lunch the 2nd day with rubles we took from the ATM, because our guide, Elena said the restaurant didn't accept cc. She said we could pay at the end too, but we were near an ATM , so we took out around $50 American dollars, which covered our family of 5, as well as lunch for Elena (we treated her on both days).We bought the following at the souvenir shop:a tacky fake fur soviet hat (my middle son loved it!)Some nesting dollsa ship (clipper)a beautiful, hand painted lacquer box for me , as well as some lovely boxes made of birchThe boxes were pricey, but the rest was pretty inexpensive ($10 for a nice nesting doll , $12 for the ship...)As far as how long to allow to get off the ship, it is hard to say...I think 8:30 is a time which might be more crowded as more people get off early.I would consider changing your tour time and leave a bit later to avoid the lines (9ish seems to be a good time). You'll have plenty of time and even if you get back later, it is still light out!We got back tired and very pleased with our option of Anastasia. More comments on the ship...We really don't go to bars, so I can't really say much about them. The Martini Bar is very pretty and we went to the Captain's Club party at the Bar of the Edge of the Earth, which has lovely windows.We went to 4 shows, all of which focused on Broadway type music. And there was a fun "music from around the world production. My favorite show was a singer named Jordan , who starred in the LA production of Les Mis..his rendition of "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues made me cry (I know-corny, huh!)Almost at the end of the cruise, we wandered into Michael's Bar to hear Perry Grant. I must admit, I had read about him and peeked into the lounge and didn't think he was my cup of tea. Boy was I wrong!!!  My husband and I laughed sooooo much and we had such a good time. I am sorry I didn't give him a chance sooner. What a talented man!We didn't use the pool area, which is great , very much as it was cold for us Brazilians! Lots of people from England out and about!Currency is a bit complicated....Amsterdam, Germany , Finland- all use Euros. However, many places do not use credit cards!! Ex: In Lubeck, 3 separate places we visited did not accept cc. Same in many other countries!!! Take cash too!Estonia , Denmark and Sweden all have their own currency (kroners)...Rubles in Russia- again restaurant did not accept cc-we withdrew cash from ATM at the Hermitage.    Tallinn, Estonia - A real gem. The Old Town is easy to navigate and full of charm. We visited the Fat Tower , the Russian Church ,and peeked into lots of quaint shops. It was a sunny, clear day , so we had lunch in the square. We had a marvelous seafood platter and Estonian beer. Really delicious. There were many people dressed up in period costumes, which was fun.Copenhagen , Denmark - Again , we opted to rent a car. We drove up the coast towards Kronborg Slot (the "Hamlet " Castle). The drive was stunning. Tones of blues, greens and yellows dotted with majestic mansions and manicured yards. Once at the castle, we had a bit of rain, which gave it atmosphere. we explored the dank casemates-they sell flashlights in a vending machine, which is fun.Then we had a "car" picnic. We laughed a lot, because the Danish cheese we had purchased at the market was quite stinky!We then drove to the Frederiksborg Castle. this was voted the best place of our trip. Simply gorgeous and so , so peaceful. No crowds, just sheer beauty. Our favorite part was the abandoned bathhouse with a lake full of swans and their babies swimming around.The drive back to Copenhagen was easy (driving in Denmark is very nice-no traffic, good signage ...).We went back to the ship and got ready for a night at Tivoli. We had a wonderful time in this magical park. it is transformed at night. Our daughter met up with her friend (we went on the St. Pete´s tour) and the rode all the scary rides.The next day , my DH and I went on an ambitious walking tour. We hit the Rosenborg Castle, St.Peter´s Church, the Danish Army barracks, Nyhaven and other sights. I loved Denmark. We headed back to the ship and I shopped a bit at the nice outlet area at the pier (Copenhagen has by far the best docking area).Next was our last sea day...sad. Rough seas - my middle son got sick, which is a first.  Lots of packing.Disembarkation was a breeze-so fast and efficient. We took a shuttle (we shared with some nice roll call members) back to London.We stayed in London Saturday, Sunday and Monday, leaving Monday night at 10. We stayed at the Hilton on Park Lane, which was very nice. It was a real cultural experience, since half of the guests were Muslims and many of the women were wearing burkas-the kids were curious and it opened some interesting discussions.We went on a fun Duck Tour, visited the Natural History Museum , explored the Tower of London and chased squirrels in Hyde Park. On our last day we went to Madame Trussard´s and saw Buckingham palace. We had our last picnic in St. James Park, which is exquisite.Caught our direct flight back with no problem...back to reality!Our trip was wonderful and we all loved the Constellation. A majestic ship with a caring, attentive crew.I highly recommend this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
There was a lot of good and some bad to this cruise. First the good: a fortnight of great ports and great weather. And the bad ? ... something has happened to "Connie". Harwich was its useful efficient self for embarkation and ... Read More
There was a lot of good and some bad to this cruise. First the good: a fortnight of great ports and great weather. And the bad ? ... something has happened to "Connie". Harwich was its useful efficient self for embarkation and we were on board within an hour of driving through the port gates. Cabins were ready on time and she still looked stunning. Entertainment was more silver than golden. The same production shows as last year, but with a much inferior cast. Also the cruise director, Jeff Potts, was nothing special. He just didn't compare to stunt-man John last cruise. Service just seemed to have gone down a notch somewhere in 12 months. Whether it was in the main dining room, food quality or the state room service. When once nothing was too much trouble, now it seems to be. One of the bar service waiters summed this up as "many of the top people have been reassigned to the new Solstice class ships". I don't know if that is true, but it want the same happy and attentive crew. There is a much more evident hard-sell push on board this time. Whether its the soda package, the spa package, the camera shop or the excursions, Celebrity need to harvest your money somehow. The "Russian Bazaar" was heavily sold prior to St Petersberg and advice given to wait and buy your souvenirs there. When you did they were much more expensive than the official gift shops in Russia. Main dining room food was often hit and miss. You didn't always get what you ordered and sometimes the rendering of classic dishes was a little odd. There was also a tendency to finish all the savory dishes with a drizzle of olive oil. Just too much. That said, the short order evening restaurant in the Seaview was still great and dinner in Ocean Liners was a delight of cooking, service, theatre and even ballet. Well worth the surcharge to experience. It was still a great cruise experience, but this year Constellation is starting to show some signs of tiredness. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
It might seem a little strange for a Brit to want to cruise round their own country, but this was an extra cruise (not in the original brochure, went to places I love and the price was great. Constellation is a really classy ship and it ... Read More
It might seem a little strange for a Brit to want to cruise round their own country, but this was an extra cruise (not in the original brochure, went to places I love and the price was great. Constellation is a really classy ship and it was easy to see why Celebrity have won so many awards for their Millennium class vessels. You don't get all the glitz and colour that RCL offer (previously cruised on Navigator), instead there is an understated air of refinement and quality, but not in any way stuffy. This is an ideal size for a cruise ship. 90,000 tonnes buys you a vast range of amenities and dining options, but without feeling crowded or herded. There are very few lines to wait in and even tendered ports are stress free for getting on and off. Embarkation at Harwich was flawless. Very little waiting. Parking was efficient and we were on board in less than 30 minutes. Harwich is just less hassle than Southampton for some reason. The public areas on Constellation are simply beautiful. They really spent some money fitting this ship out and even after six years, so wasn't showing much sign of wear. The only exception was the "Bar at the edge". This should have promised the comfort of RCL's Viking Crown, but an abandoned partnership with Cirque Du Soleil, the main observation/entertainment lounge has been left with some very strange decor and chairs built for looks not sitting in. Cabins were first class. The bathrooms are small, but the best design I've seen anywhere. Beds very comfortable and just the right number of cupboards, nooks and crannies to stow your belongings. Our stateroom attendant, Lourdes, couldn't do enough to help. The only downside was the air con: Crucial in an inside cabin, it just wouldn't produce enough cold air and certain times it did feel a little stuffy inside. The production shows in the theatre was brilliant. The cast was sensation and the main male singer, Gabriel, had a fabulous voice. Other cabaret nights were a bit more hit and miss, but you can't please everybody all the time. John the ex-stunt-man-cum-cruise director was great throughout, bringing fun and confidence with just a shade of quiet authority. He was a star from end to end. All in all a terrific cruise from Brits as well as Americans. If only the weather had decided to play ball. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
A cruise round Britain and Ireland. This one was never in the brochure, but a ten day trip somehow squeezed in between relocation and Constellation's summer itinerary of the Baltic voyages. Family and friends raised an eyebrow that ... Read More
A cruise round Britain and Ireland. This one was never in the brochure, but a ten day trip somehow squeezed in between relocation and Constellation's summer itinerary of the Baltic voyages. Family and friends raised an eyebrow that we'd even want to cruise our own Islands, but this holiday was not just one for the Americans. Smaller ports and different places certainly gave this unusual sailing a nice clubby atmosphere. Frankly nobody was on board for the weather, which was just as well, it was typical late spring in the British Isles, so kinda rainy. Connie was everything they tell you she should have been. From the moment you embark you can see why she was the Celebrity flagship and why she consistently delivered the top Conde Naste ratings. Elegant, oppulent and understated, with a level of crew service to match. A former Hollywood stunt-man as cruise director and a theatre cast that was truly superb. You trade the bright colours and street parades of Royal Caribbean ships for something satisfyingly refined. The coffee mugs are ceramic, not plastic, the ice-cream is homemade not soft whip and the ambient entertainment is more cocktail lounge than holiday camp chic. But it comes with a price tag. Celebrity is RCL's premium band and the onboard prices come with a premium tag to them. Even beer and soda is rated above Royal Caribbean's prices. Then there are the excursions. They can be eye-wateringly expensive, even by cruise standards, but there are a couple of dodges that Celebrity won't ever tell you about, so read on. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008

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