25 Harwich Family Cruise Reviews

Firstly we chose “Viking” based on our previous river cruising experiences. We always book our travel and transfers with Viking. As soon as we see the Viking agents responsible for getting us to our ship, we immediately relax and get ... Read More
Firstly we chose “Viking” based on our previous river cruising experiences. We always book our travel and transfers with Viking. As soon as we see the Viking agents responsible for getting us to our ship, we immediately relax and get into vacation mode. We chose this cruise hoping to see the natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords and Viking came through with flying colors. As advertized, our ship sailed to locations only accessible to smaller ocean liners. During the cruise, we enjoyed several conversations with our ship’s captain. He was very approachable and appeared to enjoy the cruise just as much as his passengers did. The entire service staff took care of all our requests and needs. The in port excursions were fun and very educational. During our time on board, we utilized the excellent fitness facilities, enjoyed many satisfying meals at all of the restaurants and poolside grill. We have now enjoyed both ocean and river cruising with Viking and look forward to booking future trips. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Our twelth cruise, our second with Holland America on the Ryndam. We sailed on Ryndam in 2014 and loved it so much we booked again for 2015, almost identical itinerary (only one port difference). Would certianly recommend Ryndam (such ... Read More
Our twelth cruise, our second with Holland America on the Ryndam. We sailed on Ryndam in 2014 and loved it so much we booked again for 2015, almost identical itinerary (only one port difference). Would certianly recommend Ryndam (such a shame it's being sold in October to P&O Australia) and would recommend Holland America. We travelled as a family of 6 occupying 2 cabins. 3 adults and 3 children. We travelled from North East of England to Harwich (6 hour drive) Embarkation and disembarkation were fast and smooth. We were on board the ship by 12.15, just in time for lunch ! Disembarkation was smooth and you could stay in your cabin until it was your time slot. My favourite public room was the library - so spacious. Lots of comfortable seats, fanastic views from the full length windows. Entertainment was okay. Shore excursions were a rip-off. It didn't detract from the cruise though as I'd researched all the ports prior to sailing and we did our own thing in every port. On all previous cruises we have dined on first sitting (5.45 pm on Ryndam). For the first time we chose open seating. We loved it. Loved the flexibility. We generally ate around 7.15 pm and there was never a queue for the restaurant. Will be choosing open seating on all future cruises. Shame Holland America is not sailing from UK in the near future. Flights x 6 people + 1 cruise or sail from UK and have 2 cruises. I always choose the latter. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our ninth cruise on HAL, our first on Ryndam, we were a couple from Holland, both in our early fifties. Although she will leave the fleet later this year, she is still being taken care of, with a great and enthusiastic crew. Earlier ... Read More
Our ninth cruise on HAL, our first on Ryndam, we were a couple from Holland, both in our early fifties. Although she will leave the fleet later this year, she is still being taken care of, with a great and enthusiastic crew. Earlier reports mentioned the missing tender, this is still the same, I think it is not because of the tender, but due to a defective launching equipment (do not know the proper English term). Since there are plenty of lifeboats, not an issue, although a bit of a nuisance during tendering, which was slightly longer than normal in some cases, but handled very wel, circumstances considering (relocation of anchoring position due to changing winds in Heamaey). Travelled to Harwich by ferry, arriving just before Ryndam did, a small hop-over. Noro precautions were vigorous, also during the embarkation process, but this did not delay to process in a way it was inconvenient. Excellent entertainment, especially by the talented singers and dancers of the Ryndam. The service was friendly and good, no complaints there. During the first 2 days we had some plumbing issues, but they were dealt with efficiently and accompanied by apologies for the inconvenience. We were upgraded from our partial ocean view, to an unobstructed view, slightly before embarkation, a nice cabin on deck 5, no complaints there. Dining, staff and food in the MDR (early, fixed seating) was excellent, wide varied choice. Excellent line up of beautiful ports, where we did a mix of HAL and private excursions. Lerwick, a tender port, was a bit of grey and rainy, but in all a nice little town. Torshavn, here we did a nice HAL excursion to the Vestmanna Seacliffs, weather was reasonable friendly, beautiful surroundings and lots of birds. Eskifjordur was a bit of a rainy port unfortunately, but still managed to have a reasonable excursion to see the history of WWII in Iceland. Heimaey island gave us beautiful weather on a very nice island. Here we did a great tour to the Westmann islands, home to large colonies of Puffins, which we spotted a couple of. Reykjavik, Isafjordur and Akureyri we did private tours, to the highlighted waterfalls, geysirs and nature baths, travelling through beautiful rough volcanic scenery that Iceland is famous for. A great country, with proud and well informed guides throughout. After Iceland, we made our way to Norway, where Alesund, Bergen and Eidfjord were our last ports. Some mixed weather, Bergen is not for a reason one of the wettest places there is, but our final port was a sunny and warm Eidfjord. In all a great cruise, fantastic crew and sorry to see the Ryndam go to P&O Australia, they will get a beautiful ship.! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was our 8th cruise (6 with RCI, 2 with Celebrity) and 2nd time on the Brilliance. The embarkation at Harwich was easy and quick and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins straight after lunch. We had a fair idea what to ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise (6 with RCI, 2 with Celebrity) and 2nd time on the Brilliance. The embarkation at Harwich was easy and quick and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins straight after lunch. We had a fair idea what to expect service and food wise and we weren't disappointed Except the only negative being with the breakfast in the Windjammer. We were on my time dining and had no problem getting a table with our favourite waiters Dino and Miroslav as long as we went down around 7.15. We ate lunch mostly in the main dining room and the quality and choice was fine. Thankfully we had the inclusive drinks package as the drinks are unbelievably expensive but unfortunately it didn't include premium coffee!! The ports of call were great. Particularly loved Copenhagen and Stockholm. We didn't do any ships tours but used SPB in Copenhagen and St Petersburg (both excellent) and the rest, except Skagen, we used the Hop on Hop off buses ( you get a discount if you keep your tickets and use the same bus on the next stop). The onboard entertainment isn't really to my taste but did like a group called Zoot. In Skagen we hired bikes straight in front of the ship for $10 each and because it is such a small place it is an ideal and easy way to get around. Also I forgot to mention that most of the stops accepted Euros or dollars so we hadn't needed all the different currencies we had taken. All in all we had a great, but very tiring holiday but do think that maybe it's time to try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
After several years bringing up young children, working busy jobs, generally getting older, more tired and fatter, this was a much anticipated 1st real holiday for us and the children. We got our first taste of cruising on Serenade of ... Read More
After several years bringing up young children, working busy jobs, generally getting older, more tired and fatter, this was a much anticipated 1st real holiday for us and the children. We got our first taste of cruising on Serenade of the Seas in Alaska in 2005 and loved the experience of seeing some pretty inhospitable but interesting places from the comfort of a floating hotel. The Baltic Cruise seemed like a fantastic option for us- leaving from Harwich, visiting countries that possess intrigue and rich history without a searing hot sun to exhaust us and render our fair complexions charred. We also felt, correctly as it turned out, that this sort of destination might 'self-select' the other travellers better than a sun and booze seeking crowd usually attracted to the Mediterranean at this time of year. It was great being on board with so many nationalities- the Hispanics brought some much needed colour, the Americans the usual positivity and energy, a spattering of Germans, Dutch and French to balance and our fellow Brits to generally complain about everything and feel hard done by. Check in was seamless and whilst hectic and busy, from pulling into the car park to sinking our first beer it took less than 1 hour. Had this been Heathrow, I'd have probably only have got to the stage of re-packing my hand luggage and retrieving my children from lost property within a similar timeframe, assuming, of course, that the M25 had got me there at all. The ship, to the uninitiated is well laid out, easy to get around and provides ample space for the number of people on board. The bars are great- spacious, comfortable, good range of drinks available and regular entertainment. The cabins are cleverly designed and smart. There are signs of wear, as other people have commented. I'd be very interested to see how their houses fare with 2000 guests traipsing through every 2 weeks as overall our stateroom felt appropriate for the price paid and any bumps and scrapes were minimum at best. I was particularly impressed by how quiet the rooms are. I didn't even realise we had a next door neighbour until the last night. The service was, at all times amazing. I spent a few minutes watching the waiting staff during dinner one evening- they do not stop working and smiling whilst they do it. I can barely cope with 2 hours at my work without wanting to cause bodily harm to someone with a biro so how they achieve such standards of positivity is worthy of close scientific study. On at least 2 or three occasions I heard other guest whinging about waiting for a table, or food not quite being right. Feeding 2000 demanding people in a confined, constantly moving, hot, uncomfortable space every night for months on end is a task of epic proportions and the RCI staff are real pros. It was really apparent to me that you get out of a cruise what you put into it, the families who took the time to engage with their waiters / cabin staff / bar staff, work with them and learn a bit about them get so much more out of the experience. We found Rama and Simon to be excellent, consistently. Rana brought us the wrong food twice. He also brought us extra food because he knew we liked certain dishes, made the kids special deserts, ensured we got tables we liked and helped us get the best out of the menus. Was the food perfect? No, but compared to an all you can eat cattle trough at a '4 star' hotel in Palma Nova, it was excellent each and every night. The entertainment was generally very impressive. OK, Donimo the mime / slapstick / clown act wouldn't be on my top 5 list, but the Argentinian Tango night was surprisingly good, String Fever excellent, Siobhan Phillips hilarious and Pete Matthews had the entire room in stitches. The acts were diverse, polished and a welcome end to a day's touring or sitting around drinking beer and taking in the views. Certainly a positive experience for all of the family on this cruise. The kids clubs seemed to be well run and fun- both of our children (4 and 6) can be shy yet came bounding out with stories of fun games they'd played or proudly showing off things they had made. Other activities were good time-wasters. The crazy golf provided plenty of fun, the basketball court was both a social hub and good source of exercise, climbing wall challenging and well run and plenty of music, quizzes, competitions and classes throughout the ship all the time. People seemed to be complaining about on-board 'hidden extra's. There is a simple solution to this. Don't: Eat in the speciality dining restaurants Drink lots of cocktails Go to the Spa Buy art / amber / inches of gold Use RCI to book excursions Have your picture taken We found this pretty easy. We had a picture taken on the formal night and the £40 we spent on the pictures was worth it compared to hiring a professional photographer at home. The excursions were really enjoyable but you need plenty of stamina to do 5 consecutive days. St. Petersburg is a big, beautiful, crazy and overwhelming place and will take it out of even the most hardy of guests. Copenhagen was fabulous, Tallinn quaint, interesting and attractive, Helsinki a surprising and interesting stop and Stockholm warrants a further trip. It would be beneficial if geography allows to amend the itinerary to give a sea day between Helsinki and Stockholm. It is a fantastic, beautiful city and we struggled to take it all in with grumpy, tired children. Still, the tours with SPB were well worth the money- George in Helsinki particularly deserves a mention for his wit, engaging story telling and ability to bring Finland to life for us. Skagen was OK- too small to comfortably cope with a cruise ship in port on a wet day but the shopping is good and the food was excellent. In summary, I would recommend this cruise to anyone who demands a bit more from the actual destinations of their holidays. This is not a good trip for sun worshippers or purveyors of reality TV and gossip magazines. St. Petersburg, in particular requires a bit more historical and cultural awareness than your average Spanish Coastal town- it helps to read up on Russian History (1700 to 1960). Think carefully before taking younger children or sulky teens. Ours loved the shorter more active excursions but struggled with the size of the Hermitage / walking in Stockholm. You can't expect good weather in the Baltics also, so expect a congested solarium and Spanish families filling the hot whirlpools (I'd recommend getting in with them. They can be hilarious). Get up a bit early for breakfast to get a decent seat and try to get dinner in between 6pm and 7.45pm or after 9.30pm to avoid a bit of sitting around. On the whole, this is an informal, fun cruise company who seen to get the basics right for the most part. It's not a 5 star, high-end experience and they do want to empty your wallets, but if you go into it with the right attitude you will love it. We will certainly be booking again with RCI and will seriously consider a return to the Baltics. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was cruise number 10, all with Royal. Check in in Harwich was very easy, parking so close to the terminal and the curtesy bus was waiting for us. When we got to the terminal there was no demand for a tip either. If going by train, ... Read More
This was cruise number 10, all with Royal. Check in in Harwich was very easy, parking so close to the terminal and the curtesy bus was waiting for us. When we got to the terminal there was no demand for a tip either. If going by train, the train station is next to the hanger wher you check in, no taxi's needed like Southampton. Although this was the smallest ship, sorry cruise liner, we had been on, it was perfect. First nights dinner we met our table guests, a lovey bunch who always returned, the wait staff were entertaining and remained professional. Food choice was very good, only issue was choosing what not to eat and decline two starters or two main courses. There was a mix up on a birthday cake ordered, but this got rectified with the charged being refunded and a complimentary galley tour thrown in. Concierge and Diamond Lounge were well placed for the scenic views, both people managing these lounges were just briliant, using our names from day one. Taking of using our names, we unfortunately independently lost our sea pass cards. When we went to customer relations, the lady used our names? Out of some 2500 guests, that made us feel special. The suite was maintained to a high standard, bed was comfortable and the large balcony gave us great views. The attendant was jolly and gave us tips on the ports too. We did no ships excursions as they were all more, much more, expensive than doing it privately, example being The RCCL cost for a hop On Hop Off bus $29 at our first port, Copenhagen, yet the Getting the ticket direct from the company outside the ship cost €14. We did a segway tour, 2 hours of fun with head sets to listen to the tour guide. In Tallinn we just walked about, pretty city. In St Petersburg we used ALLA Tours for a 2 day excursion, this was only $300, yet a simliar deal from RCCL would have been £300, we saved over £100 and we got lunch too. The ALLA guide was incredible, her use of English was outstanding and the knowledge of everything she told us was in scripted, all from her head, worth returning as although we saw loads, we could have spent a day in just one Palace. Helsinki, we did not pay the $12 to RCCL, the town was close enough to walk into. Just di walking around. RCCL tried to charge $39 for a Hop On Hop Off bus in Stockholm, privately it was less than half price. Again just walking around and shopping. Last port, Skagen. Easy walk into town, there was a music festival on which added to the amusement. We walked to the north of the town to wade in the sea like everyone else, did shopping before our return. I captained the winning team in The Quest, exciting and with a fantastic group of people. The flyers for the spa treatments were misleading. Pamper yourself for only $149, then in small print it states that 18% is added for my convenience. My convenience? We did not go to any shows, they were at 7pm for our 8:30pm dining, so we could not enjoy the lounges and relax our way through the evening. In all a wonderful holiday, so much to see and do, a well packed in itinerary, shame it is not going from Harwich next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Well! I am home, back on the sofa with a cuppa tea wondering if we had really just been away for 12 nights! I knew Harwich before hand and knew the ease of the train station to the port but really didn't expect to get from the train ... Read More
Well! I am home, back on the sofa with a cuppa tea wondering if we had really just been away for 12 nights! I knew Harwich before hand and knew the ease of the train station to the port but really didn't expect to get from the train to the windjammer in 24 minutes. Porters assisted without being asked and there were no queues at all but to be fair we were one of the first on board. Staterooms were ready on time and prepared to the configuration specified for me and my two daughters. We had a one hour late departure due to 'unforeseen circumstances' and an announcement was made promptly to this effect so no hanging around on the deck wondering what was going on. The first day was at sea and this allowed a good chance to explore the ship. In the whole a very clean and well presented vessel. I have no complaints about the condition of the ship and believe me I can be very critical about missing or damaged fittings. However there was one window near the Park Café that was plated over due to being shattered but intact. This rather annoyed me as spoilt external photos of the ship. But in fairness this is something that will be sorted when next in dock for overhaul as it isn't as simple as a light bulb! Toilets were spotless and frequently cleaned and handles/taps sterilised. Entertainment was good. The shows and singers in the theatre were very good in particular Robert. Not sure about the BMX bike display, not really in keeping with the other shows on offer. Bands were all good and liked the Centrum although it did become a little crowded on occasions but still prefer this against the 'Promenade Deck' arrangement on the other bigger ships. Photographers were superb and helpful, shopping was the usual stuff but I do wonder why they have so many watches for sail! I did not use the casino. Stateroom attendance was helpful and pleasant, the room was always cleaned and stocked well. No concerns there (only had an outside cabin as not used balconies on previous cruise - in fact now considering just having an inside room as spent very little time in the room other than sleep and showering!) Food - Not as good as expected! This seems to be a theme I have seen on other reviews. Still acceptable but nothing special, certainly not as good as 'Independence' last year. Also found that for a short period there was no coffee station available despite being 24 hour facility. Windjammer was the normal style but at twice I had to wait for cutlery to be stocked up, waiting with a plate of food and nothing to eat it with. At breakfast the baked beans were 'baked' and the black pudding cut to thin so it went crispy/hard. However on the plus side all the staff were polite and helpful. Mentioned elsewhere was the slow clearing of tables and this was very evident on the rear veranda of the Windjammer where often dishes remained for long periods after people left. Service in the Main Dining Room was good and as expected, however the food was not to the high standard I had hoped for. I already knew this but what is dished up in the dining room was what was also on offer in the self service. I am not upset, just a little disappointed..... still put a fair few pounds on tho! Ports of call - I like to explore at my pace and do my own thing and therefore I took the relevant currency with me for each country except Russia (and one other - later!) and did not undertake any Shore Excursions with RC. Copenhagen - We left the ship as soon as we were cleared and walked alone the embankment getting photos of the Little Mermaid on the way with no one else around. After a leisurely walk we arrived at Nordhavn and went on a canal trip, we went with the company at the end of the canal rather than the one slightly further back as the staff were in a uniform and the boats looked nicer (all in the presentation!). I recommend this trip. We then walked across Castle Island and back to see the changing of the guard which was nice to see but as per other comments elsewhere was not a patch on the standard of discipline shown at the Changing of the Guard in London. We then had an ice cream at Nordhavn and walked back to the ship for 3pm. Tallinn - Left the ship promptly and walked direct to the Old Town and enjoyed the peace and quite of the place before the place became alive. The market square had a good selection of touristy type gifts at reasonable prices. We left the Old Town when it became busier and headed to near the train station where were saw a 'local market'. We didn't feel comfortable taking a closer look so headed back to the Old Town and up the spire of the church which gave us superb views and well worth the climb up if you are able to. (280 steps if I recall correctly), Back to the ship for 15:00 when the heavens opened. Pier has wifi and for the 90 mins before we set sail I sat using the wifi from the dry Solarium presuming the wifi transmitter was on the post outside the window as it was full connection! St Petersburg - we did a 2 day grand tour with Alla Tours. As mentioned I prefer to do my own thing but this time it was a necessity due to the visa arrangements. The tour was superb and discounting my desire to wonder off it did deliver what was offered and the guide was superb, we had a group of 12 and I don't think there was ever a question that she couldn't answer. Billed in Roubles and converted to Sterling worked out at £520 for the 3 of us which I think is reasonable, however being British I am not a fan of paying for a service and then paying again for it! But the guide and driver delivered the tour perfectly. One comment, the tour includes visits to souvenir shops which I believe are part of the tours parent operator and although the stuff on sale is available in any currency the same can be said for the shops within the terminal but cheaper. I wont judge on the quality as know knowledge on this. Passport control was as expected, military and without expression! There is no wifi at the terminal! Helsinki - off the ship early and walked into the centre, obtained a tram day pass which also covered the ferry to the island which I forget the name of but worth a trip. A nice City, clean and easy to get around. Back on the ship and a chance to use the wifi from the terminal whilst siting on Deck 12 Starboard side! We then had an announcement from the captain regarding the planned call in Stockholm and due to the forecast of high winds the pilot would be unable to get out to the ship to guide the captain in to port. Therefore an alternative plan was being considered and would be announced within 2 hours. We left Helsinki on time and took a steady sail out to sea. The announcement came and Stockholm was ruled out, therefore Visby also became a 'no go' due to the expected conditions. The alternative plan was given and I was over the moon, a day at sea then Gothenburg followed by Oslo. Superb! Many people on board commented on the fact they needed the day at sea after 4 busy days. Some were sad at missing Stockholm but I didn't here any out right complaints. The port at Gothenburg is a long way from town and as we had not pre-planned our trip I wasn't aware of exactly what was available transport wise at the pier. Most of the crew had no idea and the general feel was that there was nothing other than the Volvo factory and museum. I took a gamble and got off the ship promptly and within 2 minutes a family followed us and we joined forces and shared a taxi/people carrier to town for 60e each way. We were dropped right in the centre and agreed a pick up time with the same driver which worked perfectly. RC were offering a shuttle bus for $18 each but in allocated time slots. With the taxi we were in the centre before the first time slot shuttle had left the ship. I then found a bus that stopped 300m from the ship (head straight down the road from the pier and the stop is on the left) the bus number 32 runs every 30 mins Mon-Fri. Sat and Sun is by request! (check the Gothenburg bus website). Gothenburg is a beautiful city, spotless and stunning architecture. Well worth the visit. Oslo - The ship docked in the harbour outside the castle. The ships crew said a 30 min brisk walk to the town but I think a 15 minute wander is more appropriate! Obviously I didn't have any Norwegian Krone. Therefore I brought a travel pass on my card and popped back to the ship for a lunch time snack! I found Oslo to be a bit grubby to be honest, graffiti and litter quite obvious. However the harbour area was nice and obviously recently re-developed. Overall......... Loved it and can't wait for our next trip with RC in 8 weeks!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We were a party of Seven 5 adults and two children. This was our first trip on this ship, but our 3rd with Royal Caribbean. All the RC Ships are well designed and standards of hygiene amazing. Majority of the staff bend over backwards to ... Read More
We were a party of Seven 5 adults and two children. This was our first trip on this ship, but our 3rd with Royal Caribbean. All the RC Ships are well designed and standards of hygiene amazing. Majority of the staff bend over backwards to accommodate you, if something is not to your liking they are more than happy to bring you another or action your requirements. Our room 7504 was always kept clean and tidy and bearing in mind their were five in this room it was not a problem to the member of staff. Would recommend if you are a large family to take a few more coat hangers as never enough for your dresses. must say it was the worst mattress I have ever slept on, back just recovering. INDEPENDENCE mattress were fantastic and if the same on Brilliance need renewing. Formal evening was not as popular as on the Independence which in a way was quite nice as once you have been eating non stop for a few days those tight long dresses do not look the same. Trouser suits and smart short dresses looked just as nice. The majority of the dining staff were lovely especially our two waiters Richard and Alfredo who could not do enough for you. The man who brought us drinks to our table each night ( came from St Lucia) was always happy and smiling and watched when you drink was empty and automatically gave you another. My only issue while dining is if you are a party of 7 request as soon as you get on the ship that you request to only be on a table of 7. I did ask on the first night and unfortunately for us we had to spend the next two weeks with 3 other rude annoying people. Found that if you shout loud enough you then get to be on your own, I did not shout loud enough. As we all know holiday cost enough and not too good to spend with people who don't want to join it. Having 2 14yr olds they were not allowed to go in the inside adult pool until 16, so this was very frustrating as the weather was not that good. There policy is if it is raining then at 4pm they can go in!!!! Surely all that kids want is a warm pool and time to spend in it. Children's pool was very salty and very cold. For some reason on a warm day a member of the pool staff let the kids in and all kids were behaving themselves, so this seemed unfair as they were making the rules up as they went along. Entertainment around the pool area for kids was non-existence apart from line dancing EVERY day and majority of people on this cruise were 70+ who just wanted to relax. Great big cinema screen over looking pool and one film was playing over the 12 days. On the screen was promoting RC. We did not go to the theatre to watch any of the acts unlike Independence as they were based on a lot of instruments being played and listening to them with children for 2 hours, is 2 hours I will never get back. Unlike Independence Bobby Davro came on board who was fantastic. So if you have children not the best cruise to do to keep everyone entertained. In the SCOONER lounge was a fantastic singer called MANDA VINCENT - not Amanda. She is an Irish singer and song anything you wanted putting her own little twist on it. Manda came on at 9.30 most nights, so best get in the lounge a little earlier in order to get a seat. We booked our trips while still in the UK and found like the drinks package once on the ship they had put the prices up. We purchased the drinks package when we went on the Independence and found that as much as it may sound like a lot of money for alcohol, when you are paying $9 for a glass a wine and the same for a cocktail, the package is well worth it over the course of 12 days. All the places we went to were lovely and due to bad weather went to Gothenburg and Oslo which everyone was happy with. As said, ships amazing, but this one not for us on comfort and entertainment for the children . As we know if kids not happy then nor are the parents.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Hi this is our 5th cruise on the Thomson Spirit the last being in 2009. So what has changed starting at the stern of the ship there was the addition of a gazebo type structure covering the what was the open deck space at rear of the lido ... Read More
Hi this is our 5th cruise on the Thomson Spirit the last being in 2009. So what has changed starting at the stern of the ship there was the addition of a gazebo type structure covering the what was the open deck space at rear of the lido restaurant deck 5 with extra new tables and chairs under it for dining. The Broad way show lounge with new comfy swivel arm chairs and new carpets through out. Raffles casino bar which used to be the only smokers bar all new tables nice new armchairs and soft carpets and new wall units new bar and fittings all very smart. Cabins with balconies on deck 9 eagle deck all been refurbished very nice. The addition of tea kettle and coffee tea and sugar and mugs in the cabins very nice touch much needed as it was a long walk to the Lido for a cuppa. Don't boil the tap water tho it tastes horrible. All the chairs in the cabin had been changed from orange to platinium very nice. We where on deck 8 and the bathroom had all been regrouted and looked clean and tidy. Shame about the tv with hardly any channels other than their own and the news. The shows in the Broadway were excellent and Richard Gray cruise manager knows how to get the best out of the entertainers and takes an active part in some productions. The cruise ports of call on this cruise would have been amazing but they where marred by bad weather with two port stops cancelled Stornoway and Isafjord left a total of 6 days out of 12 at sea and on a ship with limited public lounges inside and weather to bad to use open decks or even sit out with coats made for a very crowded ship but the passengers are always friendly and nice. Excursion team as always a let down to laid back and quick to put up no availability for coach trips and cancel others cause there was not enough people to go. Meals well we found the food in the Lido not enough variation unless you eat salads that is. The Compass Rose restaurant was very good food we found the portions rather to large now as they use to be smaller with more veg variation other than carrots and beans. All fish dishes were fabulous. As always the staff waiters and housekeepers are brilliant and well trained. It will always a popular ship to sail on this and Thomson have spent a lot of money on it as they know it will book up well its a pity it shakes like an old tumble drier but you get to like it. Ah well another cruise over shame Thomson are not doing EXUK cruises next year only fly cruise. Bye for now Dado. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Background:   This was one of our over 30 cruises we have been on. 2nd cruise with Celebrity. We have taken two previous cruises from London. The first was a British Isles and Baltic combination cruise. The second one was a Baltic/Russia ... Read More
Background:   This was one of our over 30 cruises we have been on. 2nd cruise with Celebrity. We have taken two previous cruises from London. The first was a British Isles and Baltic combination cruise. The second one was a Baltic/Russia cruise. Cruising is a passion of ours. We did not bring our kids on this one. There were just about 240 kids on this cruise. Pre-cruise: We left from Atlanta, GA and flew on the Delta 777 to London Heathrow. London Heathrow was a $85 pound taxi ride to our hotel, Marriott West India Quay. We liked staying at The Grovesnor Marriott previously, but the cost was really high. We absolutely loved everything about the West India Marriott. The location had everything you would want. Easy access to restaurants, pubs, shopping, rail access etc. The service at the hotel was superb. I definitely recommend it. We stayed here two nights prior to the cruise. By the way, if you are flying from the states, give yourself at least one day in London prior to leaving on the cruise. Your sleep will be off for about 24-48 hours due to time difference when you arrive. During our time in London, we visited the sights and took the railway to the West End to see Lion King. There are so many things to do and see in London! On the day of the cruise, we were picked up by EC Minibus. They were perfect. They arrived slightly early and got us to the ship as expected. Since we do not like the big bus transfers, this was a great option for us. The Harwich (pronounced haritch) port is about two hours away from London. Not much to do in town, so staying in London is what most people do. The town is very pretty, but there are not many major hotels. The cost was about 160 pounds for the four of us. The cost that the taxis were charging was a little more. The Ship: Celebrity Infinity This ship was built in 2001. The ship does show some wear, but it is not out of line for a ship that is just over 10 years old. The updates they made, including adding the Aqua Class deck, looks very nice. We stayed in the concierge floor while I have some family stay on the new aqua decks. The room size was no different. The perks and points will differ for aqua, but we did not see the advantage of it over concierge. It may be argued that concierge may be a waste of money. We did use our concierge person a few times. They were able to call one of our transportation hires for free. Overall this ship was fine, but here is the breakdown. General Public Areas: The ship has lots of little areas where you can hang with others or sit and have a more private conversations with others. These areas tailor to the interests of folks... wine, cocktails, music, reading, internet etc. Pools: The pool areas do show some wear. They are designed with the sleek simple modern look that is what Celebrity is known for. The Solarium is almost too simple. The hot tubs are nice, but the main pool is a special thermal pool. If you are in the hot tube, and you want a cool splash, you have to take a shower or go to the main pools. This would be great for Alaska. The towel access is wonderful. The areas could be better maintained by the staff. The less expensive lines do a much better, consistent job with table cleaning etc. We actually saw where managers had to go pick up old plates and cups since they were sitting there so long. They need to manage the pools a little better in regards to non-adults swimming in the solarium. It was not bad though. The main pools were nice. One was a deep pool while the others were shallow with additional hot tubs outside. Informal dining: The Lido/Windjammer deck was not bad. They cater to a European audience on this trip of course. The pizza, pasta, and egg stations were nice. You may see a little back up in these areas at times, but over all the lines moved pretty good. The ice cream is limited to the dining rooms only. There is an ice cream booth, which is nice, but the typical ice cream soft serve is very limited. Some lines here. The candy toppings are a nice plus. They need to do a better job with picking up cups and plates. Formal dining: The formal dining room is very nice. The food selection was pretty decent. The one lobster night brought forth some of the biggest lobster tails I have seen for a main dining room. In regards to steak, they are suffering here. They make a very wide range of selections that are geared more to the European crowd. I am pretty picky, so I really can not judge the different options. Day one of the dining room was the worst first day we have had on over 30 cruises. We know that the first day is always rough, but this was really poor. Now.. A shout out to the assistant Matre'd. He not only made it better the second day, he made the whole dining room experience great. Our drink waiter was the best we have had. Our waiter and assistant waiter really did a great job when they took over on the second day. Speciality Dining: QSine - a very fun concept where several courses that you can choose from are brought to you in a unique presentation. The iPad ordering is coming a long, but not there yet. The food quality suffers, but the originality is there. U.S.S. United States - this is a beautiful restaurant that wins over in look and appeal. The food is created to match the cross continent travel of the past. The artifacts and video on the outside of the restaurant tell a nice story about its origins. Bistro on 5 - has a nice mixture of selections available at different times. It is a little off from the others places, so it actually is a pretty quiet place to eat. The bars all around the ship seem to carry various themes. The wine areas on deck four seem to be a great spot. All sorts of wines available. Cabins: The rooms are well maintained. Our cabin steward, Frederick, was excellent. The cabin service seemed to be great all over the ship. No towel animals in the rooms. The shower area was bigger than most RCL rooms. Plenty of storage. The rooms are still smaller than Carnivals. There are two US plugs and two European plugs at the vanity area. The wall mirror opposite the bed is a little too much. The room was comfortable. The light could not be completely blocked out, but not bad. The 8th floor 8080 provides cover two follows up. This allows you to stand out on the balcony when it rains. My family was in room 1100, aqua class. The room was not in a great location. You can not get access to this floor through the central elevators. No cover on the balcony. The rooms get pretty hot. Casino: Yes, no smoke!!!! I actually did not play any on this trip. It was a smaller casino on four, but it seemed to have many of the games that are popular. It was pretty busy, but there was availability. Itinerary: We left Harwich to the sound of a live band that played us away. This is always a nice tough for this port. La Harve - most people either took the bus to Paris or to Normandy. We did Paris last time. The people that went this time were not able to go to the Louvre. I believe it is closed on Tuesday. We went to Normandy. There is not an experience that can compare to the memorial. The price they paid puts everyone in a memorial mood. We toured Omaha Beach and the point between Omaha and Utah beach. We ended up at the Freedom museum. It was amazing! It really makes you appreciate all that we, the French, and our allies have fought for over the past hundred years. St. Peter Port - we had low expectations for this port. Wow! Beautiful port with plenty to see. The excursion list was limited, but the city has some cool places to see. The shopping is nice along with the food. You can take all sorts of short trips to the neighboring islands if you want. Try to get the powerboat excursion before they sell out. This is the only tender spot of the whole trip. The tender service was better than average. Cohb (pronounced cove) - was one of our favorite ports. A beautiful city. We took the excursion to Blarney Castle, and it was very pretty. Kissing the Blarney Stone is not meant for the weak. You have to lay back and lean back to reach it. There is a person there to help you. There are steep steps to go up to it and come down from it. It was a great experience, but not meant for people with limited mobility. If you do not go up to the stone, it is ok. There are plenty things to see and do while at the castle. The woolen mill shops are pretty cool. The community really rallies around the ship in port. A band came out to play with us. The people were so friendly. I could see living here. Great historical facts during out tour. Great way to get in touch with some of my family's heritage. Dublin, Ireland - we have been to this port before. It is a city. There is no connection with the community. Unless you get outside the city, there is nothing very special with this port. The Guinness factory is cool for some. Liverpool - this place rocked. The community had a fireworks the first night we were at port. We took an Busy Bus for 39 pounds to go to Alton Towers on the first day. That park was amazing! 14 loop record breaking coaster. Great park with a 1400's castle in the middle of it. Day two, we went to see "the open". What a treat! The city of Liverpool has everything. It is a beautiful city filled with many things to do. It is head over heals over Dublin in my book. Many people went to the bars and tourist attractions that focus on the Beatles' rise. Greenock - This port sits away from the community, but you can get to the town pretty easily. I definitely recommend the excursion to Sterling Castle. The history that revolves this area is wonderful. You can hear about the real William Wallace and Robert Bruce. The views from the castle were amazing. You can see where these famous battles occurred. Holyhead, Wales - the port was disconnected from the community. This stop was beautiful, but there are not many things to do at the pier. I recommend an excursion for this stop or simply stay on the ship. They do provide a shuttle bus for the pier, but there is not much to see. We went to a nearby beach town. It was pretty. This stop was so-so. We ended the cruise with a nice day at sea. The day at sea is always a blessing at the end of every cruise. Our tips were automatically added. They deserved it. Disembarkation: Simple and with ease. The EC Minibus was a few minutes and ready to take us back to London. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel at St. Pancras. Wow is an understatement. We chose this place due to the absolute lock on to the trains. We paid for the upgrade to the suite. Definitely worth it. We had access to the chamber room for free drinks, snacks, and breakfast. The following day, we took the complementary concierge service to the Eurostar train. They took our bags through security and loaded them on the train with us, wow! We left the next morning to France bound for the Disneyland Paris station. We had an added on Disneyland Paris vacation. Worth it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Infinity is in great shape. If you want to find minor flaws you can, but none were distracting or bear mentioning. The crew is happy and responsive. Hotel department officers very visible while at sea and in port; navigation officers were ... Read More
Infinity is in great shape. If you want to find minor flaws you can, but none were distracting or bear mentioning. The crew is happy and responsive. Hotel department officers very visible while at sea and in port; navigation officers were busy going from port to port. Ship set up a Cruise Critic meeting for the first evening just after boarding (from 7:45 - 8:15PM) providing sparkling wine and mimosas. Several hotel department staff were there although they were very busy having just embarked over 2000 guests. Our first 8 days were in various ports so it was nice to meet other CC members early on rather than waiting until the day before disembarkation. Dining in Trellis was very good. We had anytime dining and made reservations for 6PM. We found an excellent waiter Jose Salinas and his big assistant Zambrano who took great care of us, even though they were very busy doing it. Excellent service and good food. We normally book AQ and there is a world of difference in food prep between Trellis and Blu. Standard fare of three production shows and the usual magicians and entertainers. The highlight was a Beatles impressions group the night we left Liverpool - how appropriate. Formal nights - evenings departing St. Peter Port and Holyhead. Made for a quick change for our standing 6PM reservation, but our only sea day was the day before disembarking. Formal night - about 90% of the men had coat and tie, some in formal attire. 10% did not appear to meet the dress code, but were not turned away. Captains Club evening receptions in the Constellation Lounge - deck 11 forward; no coupons Captains Club morning treats in the SS United States on deck 3 midships. Cabin - 3114. Nice new cabin where the meeting rooms used to be. Great big circular window. Particularly nice cabin for a very port intensive trip in cold climate. Michael and his assistant, Vladimir, kept it clean and always greeted us and opened the door if they were in the passageway. Embarkation in Harwich was easy. Eddie Manning delivered two other couples and us arriving about 12:30. We were onboard in about 10 minutes - no long lines anywhere. Disembarkation. Luggage tag numbers based on information already available, e.g., flight numbers from Choice Air. Since we had prearranged earlier transport with Eddie Manning, we asked for and received earlier numbers. (Very nice not to have to fill out paperwork on the second day of the cruise.) Immigration is done at the airports, so it's not like Fort Lauderdale with long lines. Disembarkation started at 6:45 with 8:45 the last time. Very quick and efficient. We did all private tours arranged through CC except for ship's tour from Le Havre to Paris. - LeHavre/Paris - Ship tour LH03 - Paris sightseeing with lunch cruise. Lots of windshield time. As expected, most sights were seen from inside the bus passing by. River cruise lunch was very good with narrated tour. Had about an hour to walk around the Eiffel Tower and shop for souvenirs. 2.5 - 3 hours each way. - St. Peter Port - After some initial confusion over the meeting point, Gill Girard gave us an excellent walking tour and her brother did likewise using his taxi showing the high spots around the island including the German Occupation Museum. We were on the first tender; by 10:30 reported wait was about 1.5-2.0 hours for tenders. Go early and avoid the crowd. - Cobh/Cork - eCoach/Butler's Bus. Excellent guide and tour. Got us to Blarney Castle before the hoards from the ship tours. Could have been a long wait if you were on the last bus. Saw several additional sites and had time for lunch. - Dunmore East/Waterford - All Ireland Chauffeur Tours. Another excellent tour. It was hard to find a provider here, but these guys did an excellent job. Again a tender port. We were on the first tender with our group. - Dublin - Tour Dublin - Good tour, but do not take option B to Malahide Castle. It's a long trip and shortens the time in Dublin plus the ship tours had bought out all the afternoon castle tours. Disappointing. - Liverpool - Liverpool History Taxi Tour with Phil Garrard. Excellent tour. We asked for some history and Beatles sites and got it. Phil is an excellent guide with lots of information and "secret" places. - Greenock, Scotland - Great Scot Tours. Very good tour - 8 - people. Rearranged schedule to make sure we go to Stirling castle before the ship's tour busses which cut us out of our visit to Malahide Castle. - Holyhead - BusyBus. Not recommended. Their advertising implies they use small busses to get to places the big busses can't go. We were met by two 50 passenger coaches and one 30 passenger coach. We were told they shifted since it was so hot and only the big busses had air con. Well one of them did. Our initial tour guide was one of the worst we have ever had. We shifted to the other bus with the company manager. There were 5 empty seats on the bus. Seems like they have lost their focus on service and now favor bigger profits, If you want a small group tour, find another vendor. Our background: Late 60's; active; like to see lots of sights (and we did on this cruise); 9 cruises total; 7 on X; 75 days on Celebrity ships before this. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My Husband booked this cruise to celebrate both our Wedding Anniversary and my Birthday. We booked the Tower Hotel (Harwich)for the night before and met fellow cruisers. We highly recommend this charming seaside hotel, and Harwich is well ... Read More
My Husband booked this cruise to celebrate both our Wedding Anniversary and my Birthday. We booked the Tower Hotel (Harwich)for the night before and met fellow cruisers. We highly recommend this charming seaside hotel, and Harwich is well worth a walk through, be sure to see the REDOUBT fortress. As for the cruise itself, Royal Caribbean never disappoints, Kudos to the line who hired an exceptional Russian Folk Group one night in St. Petersburg. In fact, all the entertainment was great including a comic from Wales who had everyone screaming with laughter. Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki all great tour stops. St.Petersburg Russia was a 2 day stop. We toured both Pushkin (Catherine's Palace) and the Hermitage the second day. Catherine's Palace was the highlight of the trip for us. The Hermitage is touted equal to the Louvre, we didn't think so. The biggest surprise was Helsinki and Tallin Estonia, our two favorite ports. Walking and shopping Helsinki (a very modern city) is reminiscent of the Via Vennata in Rome, a great experience. Tallin was the most fun, the market place, the Nevsky Cathedral, and our tour guide was a scream. St. Petersburg overall is the cruise highlight, but we learned on shipboard that a one day to Moscow was added..but no one told us beforehand, and the 60 spots were quickly filled. For that reason alone, we will not pre-book months in advance again. Brilliance of the Seas is a good ship, and we enjoyed the Solarium deck and the food being offered there, as you could starve until they open the Windjammer Restaurant. We give this cruise 5 stars out of 5. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We have only cruised 3 times before, all with P&O. This was a big holiday for us, our expectations were high, and we weren't disappointed. We travelled by car from our home near Nottingham, which took approx 3 hours, the traffic ... Read More
We have only cruised 3 times before, all with P&O. This was a big holiday for us, our expectations were high, and we weren't disappointed. We travelled by car from our home near Nottingham, which took approx 3 hours, the traffic was good as it was the weekend, the Port of Harwich was easy to find, we paid for parking at the booth on entry, just over 7 per day. We drove to a large car park where luggage was taken from us and put on a trailer to be taken straight to the ship, then we parked our car ourselves, retaining the keys, and hopped on a shuttle bus with hand luggage for the short trip to the check-in. Short delay for check-in as the computers had crashed, lots of apologising from staff, and then on to the beautiful Brilliance of the Seas. The fabric of the ship was stunning and plush compared to P&O's Oceana and Oriana, the glass lifts and Centrum where amazing. Our cabin was nice, the bed huge, with our 16 year old in the bunk above our heads. Space was tight, we needed to be organised, but we fitted all our clothes into the wardrobes and drawers. Our cabin assistant Merle was so nice and friendly, always making us feel welcome, we felt all the staff were exceptionally helpful and couldn't do enough to help. Loved the towel animals, disliked not having shampoo, conditioner and body lotion...and no chocolate on your pillow! The usual free-for-all in the self service restaurant for lunch, fantastic food, and free flavoured squash, juice, water, tea and coffee. This felt like a restaurant, and was plusher than the self-service on P&O. We happily shared a table and realised that Brits were in the minority, we thoroughly enjoyed mixing with people from America, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Israel, Armenia, Nigeria, Australia...the list is endless, and this made our holiday. Loved the help yourself breakfasts and lunch in the Windjammer (free self serve icecream machine), nice organic salads at The Park cafe in The Solarium and supper here too, together with Fruit Punch, iced tea and lemon squash all free of charge. Evening meal.....hmm...AnyTime dining, if you don't book in advance, it's more like AnyTime to suit the restaurant dining. Not being aware of the importance of booking, we ate in the Windjammer the first night, as only 8-45pm was available. After this we booked each night for the following night. If I could put the P&O evening menu on this ship, it would have been perfect. The waiters were fantastic, very accommodating with our fussy eating son, couldn't fault their service, BUT, the food was not the best. Once we realised which things weren't to our taste, we adapted by ordering something different. Smoking policy....smoking inside ruined the Colony Club, The Casino and the NightClub, we just avoided these areas. I'd forgotten how lucky we are in England with the smoking ban. Alcoholic drinks...wow, they know how to charge, and then add 15%. So we didn't bother, if they had been cheaper we would have spent more. Entertainment....managed to see most shows, different each night, with mostly a British slant ranging from comedy, comedy magician, singers, dancers, Russian evening, hypnotist and magician all in a lovely theatre. We went to the cinema and also the outdoor screen around the pool. Loved the Mini Golf course. Loads to see in the Centrum, bands, quartets, singers and a great British evening. Hats off to Keith, he got involved and really made us laugh. We walked into Copenhagen from the ship, took the HoHo in Stockholm (made certain we went straight to Vasa museum). Took the ships shuttle in Helsinki, walking around the shops and sea front market stalls. Went with SPB Tours to St Petersburg, who, after an initial mix up with groups, were excellent. Thank you to our fellow travellers in Svetlana's group, we loved your company and sense of humour. Used the shuttle to the centre of Tallin, which was walkable, and just soaked up the Medieval atmosphere. Tallin and StP were best for souvenirs. Ships shuttle again to Gothenburg(which was needed) walking around the old part and the new shops. Oslo, wow, parked up next to a Fortress, we walked along the harbour, visited the main street shops and back through the Fortress. Our son went along to the Teenage Lounge on the first evening, and we barely saw him for the rest of the holiday, other than Port visits and most evening meals. He has made loads of friends, they enjoyed their freedom on the ship and he is now keeping in touch via Facebook. We drew the curtain separating our cabin from the beds, and left a small light on as he was later to bed than we were! This was a fantastic holiday, we will use Royal Caribbean again. We would actually like to do this cruise again, as hearing about the different aspects of each Port from other people made us realise how much we missed. Thank you to all crew and fellow cruisers that made this a very special holiday.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Norweigian fjords, an overnight in Reykjavik, and a stop on the Faroes were the selling points of this itinerary in late June from Harwich. Our family booked this while onboard the Jewel on her usual Baltic run in 2011. We all enjoyed the ... Read More
Norweigian fjords, an overnight in Reykjavik, and a stop on the Faroes were the selling points of this itinerary in late June from Harwich. Our family booked this while onboard the Jewel on her usual Baltic run in 2011. We all enjoyed the calm, cool weather and spectacular port scenery as well as the amenities of the lovely Jewel of the Seas. We spent an overnight in Gatwick at the airport Hilton, then made our way via Gatwick express and a taxi to Liverpool Street Station, where we picked up our pre-purchased tix for Harwich (66 GBP for 6 of us, great groupsave deal and kids cost 1 GBP). We needed to change at Manningtree and drag our bags up and down some stairs, but it worked out fine. Soon we were on board (after some "extra security screening") and at the Windjammer eating some chicken curries. Bags and rooms were ready on time and we were off to Bergen. Except for one rough day coming back from Iceland, we had calm seas and 60-70 degree F weather, perfect for deck jogging, and hiking that we had planned. We had one dinner at Portofino which was fine. My 12 year old was unable to find anything he liked, but the rest of us were happy. My DM is on a salt restriction and was happy with her special dinners prepared by the MDR and Portofinos during the cruise, she felt they were improved over the Allure 2011. MDR had the usual menus, waiter Joao brought as extra plates to taste and was very concerned that we were happy with our selections. Diamond lounge was moved to the Vortex due to there being 300 Diamonds on this cruise, and Diamond plus-ers moved to the Odysey lounge. We Diamonds had wine unlimited but DM was unhappy there were no snacks provided. The servers were all very friendly and remembered us from day to day. Love the Champagne Bar and Lorenzo,bar server extraordinaire; who remembered us from last year, and our drink orders. Good snacks available here and caviar, too. Our 12 and 15 year old enjoyed the teen club, there were 60 kids their age on board, the majority of passenger were 60+ British - so minimal families on this cruise. We did not notice too many couples in their 40's here. Dismebarkation was fast and smooth. Walked off and on the train at 8:30 am to visit Buckingham Palace. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I am just back from an excellent 12 night cruise on the Jewel of the seas to the Baltic with family. We drove to Harwich which was our embarkation point. The port is easy to find although the signs to the parking area are not ... Read More
I am just back from an excellent 12 night cruise on the Jewel of the seas to the Baltic with family. We drove to Harwich which was our embarkation point. The port is easy to find although the signs to the parking area are not perhaps as visible as they should be, we got a little lost, but after asking we found our way. Checking in was simplicity itself. We drove to the car park entrance where we were checked off a list, drove through the entry and handed our luggage to the person waiting to take it then drove into the parking area where we were directed to a parking spot. We then waited for the shuttle bus to take us to the check in desk. Check in was swift and easy, we arrived just about 1pm as directed and we waited approx. 10 minutes to get to the check in desk, check in took about another 10 mins, we then had a little longer to go through security and then walk on to the ship, with a lift immediately available to take us up to our deck which was deck 9 and then straight to our cabin which was ready for us. After lunch in the Windjammer our luggage was in the corridor and ready for unpacking. The cabin was at the very rear of the ship and I would highly recommend it. The cabin itself was probably a standard size but felt a good size. The shower room is much as expected, not terribly big but adequate for our needs. The balcony was very large, much larger than expected, with not only 2 seats and a table but loungers as well. Being at the back we certainly had quite a walk to get to the cabin but once there, noise was minimal, all in all we were very pleased and when we cruise again will definitely try for these cabins again. The cabins were clean (I even checked under the loo seat, a sure way to find out if your cabin is cleaned properly) and comfortable. The beds were comfortable as well. The staff were ALL excellent, polite, unfailingly friendly and courteous. We were any time dining, which needs a little work I'm afraid. We had previously been anytime on the Star Princess which was simplicity itself, we basically just turned up and if we couldn't get into one restaurant we went to another, but on the Jewel we always had to book a time slot and even then we often had to wait for a table on one occasion we had to wait 30 mins. The area set aside for anytime is only one half of the upper part of one dining room, and isn't really enough. The staff though were excellent, the Maitre D. the Head waiter and Deputy head waiter in particular were all excellent. The head waiter in particular stopped at every table every night to check how things were going and often served meals when the waiters were extra busy, one night he not only took our order, but served most of our meal himself, he seemed to be everywhere in the dining room, keeping an eye on things as a good head waiter should. I'm very glad to say most of our fellow diners dressed well for the 2 formal nights we had, many of the gentlemen wearing dinner jackets which was nice to see. However there were several guests who turned up in short sleeved shirts, no tie and one person who wore cut off combat trousers, he and his partner who was also dressed casually should have been turned away to the Windjammer, but weren't, what is the point of the rest of us making the effort to dress nicely, when others don't bother and it's accepted. The food was good, although at times a little bland, but always beautifully presented. I read one review which said the food in the Windjammer was much the same as in the restaurants, but it's not. The Windjammer is much more of a canteen style of food, lots of stews, curries, minced beef/bolognese, pasta, salads. Fine if you want casual dining and perfect for dining on a long day following a trip, when you are too tired to change for dinner. There is the usual problem of getting a table in the morning when it is so busy, some people sitting at table for six when there are only two or not leaving when finished etc. Occasionally announcements were made to encourage people to vacate tables when finished, but this was not always heeded, however I don't blame the staff for not moving people on, the guests are on holiday and moving people on could cause some unpleasantness. We tended to go fairly late to breakfast, about 10 am, often the food stations were starting to be cleared so half way through breakfast it could be difficult to find what you wanted on occasions. I also didn't like that all the coffee stations on the other decks were the Seattle coffee i.e. you had to pay for it, if you wanted the ordinary coffee you have to go back to deck 11 to get it, which is a pain when on another deck. Also the ice cream station is in the Windjammer rather than on one of the outer decks, so when the Windjammer wasn't open too bad. The Jewel is a very nice ship, although I preferred the lay out of her sister ship Explorer of the seas, with not just a central atrium like the Jewel but a central "main street" where the shops and bars were situated, also on Explorer I loved that on the upper decks at the corners at the lift lobby they had "cabinets of curiosities" as well as art work on the walls. I really liked that, having said that the Jewel is a very nice ship, very well maintained, comfortable with plenty of seating for sailing days, although a larger solarium area would be good, as frequently it was impossible to get a lounger in the solarium especially when the weather was bad. The entertainment staff worked very hard, there was a lot going on especially in the central atrium area. There were not very many lectures which was a pity, there was a series on the mind, which were excellent and very interesting, but mostly the other lectures were just selling opportunities, especially for Amber, Russian dolls and Faberge Easter eggs. The evening shows in the theatre were not so good I'm afraid. We didn't go to them all, we liked the classical graffiti group who were excellent and the beach boy tribute band were fine, also the specialty act were good, but the production shows were not great, the dancers were fine as were the band and costumes, but the singers I'm afraid were not particularly good. The one irritation was with the plumbing. There seemed to be a persistent problem with the lavatories on the starboard rear of the ship. Three times we were unable to use our lavatory. The engineering staff were fairly quick to solve the problems but on one occasion the problem lasted for several hours, from 8 pm till after midnight. Sometimes information was not passed on very quickly about what was happening. We also have the same complaint as everyone else, the price of alcohol is ridiculously high. It doesn't seem to occur to the owners that if they kept the prices low, people would drink more, but faced with sky high pricing they will drink but not as much as they would otherwise. Also the shops sold mostly 'tat', really not worth buying and what they put out for the $10 sale was rubbish. If you claim that one of your stores is a general store it would be nice if it acutally sold store goods like body lotion, toothpaste, body wash etc, somebody ALWAYS forgets something, and it would be nice to actually be able to buy it on board. All in all though we had a terrific time on the Jewel, and would not hesitate to sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first time on the Jewel, and after sailing in the Independance a few times, which is much bigger, we were prepared for the smaller ship, and the Intinerary was a new one for us as well. We were in a grand suite, which ... Read More
This was our first time on the Jewel, and after sailing in the Independance a few times, which is much bigger, we were prepared for the smaller ship, and the Intinerary was a new one for us as well. We were in a grand suite, which featured a spacious bathroom, with bath, shower and two sinks, a bar area, a sofa area, and a spacious balcony. We also had tea and coffee making facilities in the room (didn't use them though!). Our cabin was located just outside the centrum, near to the concierge room, and despite this, we heard no noise while inside. The concierge room itself was lovely, but too small for the number of guests the used it, especially during the busy periods before dinner. We have heard that there are plans to move this room to deck thirteen, and we think that this would be a mistake- it is perfectly placed where it is. The concierge Nedere (sp?) was very good, and rang us every day to check everything was ok! The casino staff were good, and we had plenty of banter as we lost our money! The smoking policy in the casino was confusing- sometimes it was smoking, and sometimes it was non smoking. It should be kept as one or the other, and I don't appreciate someone joining me on a table and lighting up! Being in a suite also meant that we could use chops grille for breakfast, and we used this rather than fighting our way around in the windjammer! The waiters were exceptional. We placed our order, and it was cooked fresh and served for us promptly. I can recommend the pancakes! There was also a small buffet, with fruit, cheese, cereals etc, to occupy us while we were waiting. The ports of call were all good, with the exception of Tallinn. We went on a tour in Copenhagen, and visited the ice bar, which was amazing! In Stockholm we went on a shopping/ panoramic tour. The two shops we visited were ok- the first one was lovely, with traditional handmade Swedish items, and the second was a crystal shop. I appreciate that crystal is expensive, but we felt that this shop was vastly overpriced. It was the only place we didn't get anything! But the, items themselves were beautiful. In Helsinki we went to see Santa in his summer house. We were expecting something vastly over commercialised, but it wasn't! I lovely tour, next to a scenic lake, it was relaxed and peaceful. We then went on to have a quick tour, and back to the ship. There was a state funeral happening on the day we visited, so things were a little sombre in one of the picture stops (but then, it was right next to the church)!! St Petersburg was interesting. We had to go through customs, which was arduous, and as we hadn't applied for a visa, we could only travel on a tour. Our first one was a night time boat trip. It was hilarious. We saw lots of sights, sampled some vodka, and watched an hilarious performance with some folkloric dancers/ singers. I bought a duck-flute thing. It was great. The next day we went to paint our own stacking dolls. It was different! My work of art was nothing compared to the beautiful dolls in the shop next door. This was definitely a tour I would recommend. Next was Tallinn. Where the souvenir shops were outnumbered by those offering a private dance and a'happy ending'. If we visited this port again, we would stay on the ship! Managed to get a nice fridge magnet though. We stayed on board for Gothenburg, but heard good reviews from this who had been off exploring. The only downsides to the cruise was the slow service in the dining room-not the waiters fault, and we have never seen the head waiter so many times in one voyage! The food was, as usual, well presented, but a bit OTT and fancy- sometimes you just want something plain and boring! Dress codes were not enforced on board. It is irritating to make the effort to get dolled up on formal nights when the people on the next table are wearing open necked shirts and jeans. They should have been turned away to the windjammer, and sent away from the bars. There were only two formal nights on board, with the majority of the rest being casuals, people should have to make an effort. The drinks were, as usual, expensive, however you do get considerably more vodka than your average measure, and on occasion, had to ask for my drink to be watered down! The shops on board were also lacking. We have been spoiled with the high street on the independence, but the general store stocked barely anything! Very poor! The Internet was awful. It is expensive, coverage was poor, and it was soo slow! We had one wireless package, but could never get connected, and we had one computer package, but it was so slow, the we couldn't even use it! This needs to be improved. There should be wifi in the rooms, and if its going to be of this quality, it should be free, and time remaining should be refunded! We have booked to sail again on the Jewel in June next year. The staff were absolutely fantastic, from the cabin steward leaving origami t-shirts, bar staff running to say hello as you sneak out the casino, the waiter bringing piles of garlic bread and extra strawberries on and evening and the most relaxed captain we have ever come across. Fantasic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband and I cruised the Baltics on the 20th August, it was a last minute booking but decided to give the Shearing cruise ago....and we were not disappointed the collection from the interchange to Harwich was very good, as was the ... Read More
My husband and I cruised the Baltics on the 20th August, it was a last minute booking but decided to give the Shearing cruise ago....and we were not disappointed the collection from the interchange to Harwich was very good, as was the location to our cabin on ship, everyone was very helpful and we CANNOT fault the service at all. The dining room staff, cabin staff, chef, bar staff, were excellent and nothing was too much trouble for any of them. There were lots of activities to do on board if you wanted to take part, there was a library for those who wanted to read or a cinema. The excursions were a bit pricey, but they usually are on these sort of ships, we did our own site seeing most of the time but went on the trips to St.Petersburg, which were very good with excellent guides. The entertainment was EXCELLENT with a wonderful comedian Bobby Beran, also Gaynor Connor an EXCELLENT singer, also ANDANTE a unique & unusual show of musical dexterity. The Discovery Theatre Company also were EXCELLENT and were of West End standard. As for the Shearing staff they were brilliant always there to help but as always you always get the handful who are never satisfied with anything and love to complain.....You all did a great job....All in all we loved our time aboard the Discovery and will be sad when it is taken off. I might add it was a very friendly atmosphere and we got to know lots of nice people. Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner" Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We travelled to Harwich by train and within minutes of leaving the train we had checked in and were aboard. The ship was very attractive with open windows allowing sea views from the central atrium. The solarium was particularly nice with ... Read More
We travelled to Harwich by train and within minutes of leaving the train we had checked in and were aboard. The ship was very attractive with open windows allowing sea views from the central atrium. The solarium was particularly nice with a Balinese theme. We had an oceanview cabin at the front of the ship, overlooking the Helipad. The cabin was spacious and well decorated with plenty of storage space. In comparison to the balcony cabin we had on Oasis of the Seas there was masses of storage ! The staff were all very pleasant although our cabin steward never seemed to be around and we had to leave notes to request things like ice etc. Having said that, the cabin was cleaned superbly. We ate at second sitting in the main dining room and were impressed by the staff and the food. The prime rib and meat in general seemed much better than on cruises departing from the States. Nothing was too much trouble for our waiter and he ensured that any requests were attended to immediately. Another highlight of the cruise was the superb cruise director, Clodagh, who went by the name of HelloClo. She was excellent, very funny and got to know all the guests. Her morning show on TV was always a good laugh and she was around the ship from morning till late night. The entertainment was mostly good. All in all it was an excellant cruise and although we missed seeing Stockholm because of engine problems ,the ports of call were great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Having always cruised inside before, a trip North in mid-summer made the decision for us to upgrade to a balcony stateroom. We went in for a Cat X guaranteed balcony and goit allocated a great D1 cabin on the stern. It was all you could ... Read More
Having always cruised inside before, a trip North in mid-summer made the decision for us to upgrade to a balcony stateroom. We went in for a Cat X guaranteed balcony and goit allocated a great D1 cabin on the stern. It was all you could hope for and the attentdant, Parasandi was quietlt efficuent. The balcony is great: two loungers, two chairs and a coffee table and being at the back, sheltered from the wind on a sea day. Well worth the extra. Had a late dinner seating for a change and it worked out quite well. Though it was a little odd eating after the theatre on occasion. We ate at Chops Grille twice and the fillet mignon was just superb on both occasions. We were booked into Portofino, but never made it because the sickness descended. Somehow Norovirus made its way on board. Despite the crew's best, if sometimes confused and misguided efforts to clean. By the time we got home more than 400 people had gone down with it. 48 hour cabin confinements and missed ports, along with a lot of sickness were not pleasant. There were reports of long and insanitary waits in the medical centre, but I was ported there and back in a wheelchair, got triaged within ten minutes and seen by the doctor within thirty. There's no way round it, if you get it, it does ruin the back half of your holiday. Jewel looked great in most parts. Just some signs of being six years old creeping in. Some of the fabrics could do with some attention in places, but that's very nit picky. There is a sense that RCL are doing this on a budget these days. No turndown chocolate at night, no more endless towels and blankets round the pool, higher shop prices, premium coffees served in paper cups, regular coffer served in yellowing plastic, no grand midnight buffet and a strict three courses in the dining room. Gone are the days when US cruisers enjoyed a soup and a salad and an appetiser and an entree and a dessert and cheese. Little touches that on their own are of little concequence, but taken together indicate a lesser level of service. Ports were great, but then they always are in the Baltic. Copehagen, Stockholm and St Petersberg are the stars. Unless you really want to take an RCL excursion (and in Russia you have to for visa reasons) then stick with the shuttle bus or get a taxi. It really is cheaper. Avoid the Russian Bazaar on board and get your Russian stuff in St Petersberg for the same reasons Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We sailed overnight on the ferry from the Hook of Holland, by Rotterdam, and it was less expensive and stressful than commuting from central Europe by car. We will definitely cruise again with the kids, because there is so much to do ... Read More
We sailed overnight on the ferry from the Hook of Holland, by Rotterdam, and it was less expensive and stressful than commuting from central Europe by car. We will definitely cruise again with the kids, because there is so much to do to keep them happy - plus, we can sight see and have fun!The kids area was open 30 minutes before the first shore excursion of the day and closed 30 minutes after the return of the last excursion. We left our younger kids on the ship in 3 ports, because they really enjoyed the kids area and were "bored" with sight seeing(plus the younger ones won't remember much). Our younger kids begged to go back to Ocean Adventure, during dinner every night. This was great for us, because the grown-ups can go have "dates" ;) My middle school daughter did meet a few kids and had fun in the teen zone, but did not feel comfortable there all the time, when the older teenagers were there. She ended up hanging out with friends playing ping pong, etc..., more often than the teen zone. We had outstanding service. I have read many complaints about the food, and we found there to be a good selection. The dinner menus changed every night in the many dining room, but the breakfast and lunch menus were almost always the same every day. In the Windjammer cafe, there are several items that are similar but they do have a few main dishes that change every day. We found the food to be better in the main dining room for breakfast, and usually dinner. But lunch was better in the Windjammer or Seaview cafes. It is disappointing that there is not as much seafood and no lobster, as compared to our first cruise, 15 years ago. We also do feel the food quality was better on our first cruise. But let me tell you this: I will not complain too much about food, when I don't have to cook, do dishes, or cut up children's food for nearly two weeks! The real world of food is oh so harsh, for a mother with small children! The one thing I will complain about is the price for spa services. It was not worth the quality of services rendered. I have had much better facials and pedicures for less than what was charged on the ship. The hot stone massage was very nice, but too pricey. It is so nice to be able to go to a spa on a relaxing cruise, but it left you wanting so much more! We were in a family suite on the 8th floor, front of the ship. It was a long walk from the center of the ship, but worth it for the quietness! The entertainment was good, but not great. The first comedian was hilarious, but it was downhill after that, as far as comedians go. The Las Vegas Extreme show was amusing. Bottom line: you can usually get cheaper transportation in every port than what the ship tells you. There seems to be a hop on/off bus or ferry in every city that you can do on your own, but some cities are pricier than others. Pack layered clothes, as you will have some warm/sunny days and some cold/rainy days. Bring a raincoat, even in July and August. I would consider smuggling a suitcase full of bottled water for your port days - water is very expensive! Regardless of what the ship tells you, we found merchants/transportation accepted euros in every port, and sometimes US dollars. Most places will give you back the change you desire, but some will give change back in the kroner equivalent. So, don't worry about getting the local currency in every port. There are many "safe" stores to use credit cards. We had a wonderful time, overall! The biggest gem for us was meeting our dinner table mates - they were really fun! Our biggest recommendation is to try something new on the ship, whether it be dance lessons or poker lessons, and talk to complete strangers! Read Less
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
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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