Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews

Celebrity Cruises

by Nelson de Barros Pereira
Russia And The Baltic
July 3, 1999

Embarkation was defined in one word: chaos. It took more than three hours to get to the ship. Staff organized lines and after some time passengers were oriented to go to another line, then again to a new line, etc. The embarkation tickets came to the terminal in boxes without any order, staff tried to find passenger tickets seeing one by one and after some time they gave up and told everybody to get on without the tickets! More excited European passengers fought for better places in the lines.

Our accommodations (Standard Ocean View) were very clean and comfortable, with minibar-refrigerator, personal safe, a large window and many cabin amenities (I particularly liked the cotton bathrobe, which I bought at the end of the cruise). The closets were ample, but there was no place for the small table, which we asked to be removed from the cabin.

The interactive Sony audio and video facilities are disappointing and need much improvement.

Our cabin steward Dominic, from Goa (India) was excellent, keeping cabin impeccably clean and made up, without being noticed.

The Grand Restaurant is beautiful with an elegant Old World atmosphere; the electrically operated blinds featured outstanding views of the Scandinavian night sun. Our table fellows were delightful adding to make unforgettable dining experiences.

The food was very well presented, had excellent taste and was even more improved when Monsieur Michel Roux spent five days with us. The desserts were also beautiful, very tasty and very good for chocolate lovers. Our waiter, the Yugoslavian Goran was outstanding (The best we ever had), but the assistant was unskilled and had no finesse. The Portuguese Maitre D' Luis Miguel was very efficient and courteous, always trying to guess our desires. Our French Sommelier Dominique was polite and had a good sense of humor.

The Islands Cafe for breakfast, alternative lunch & dinner and midnight buffets is very informal. The Pizza served by the pool is surprisingly good. Breakfast was very good with lots of fresh fruit.

The Midnight Buffets were average and alternated with the Gourmet Bites (a few waiters with trays of appetizers in some public areas).

The Grand Buffet was beautiful and delicious but lines were long, places to sit were hard to find and some waiters were rude and unhelpful. Michael's Club is a very elegant smoking room with fine art work like an original Picasso by the fireplace.

The video-cinema was nice and featured good films.

The shows were the usual Las Vegas style and the musicians of the lounges and bars where the weak part of the entertainment and we really missed an intimate piano bar.

The library is poor, almost always closed and you cannot find playing cards in the card room.

Medical facilities are excellent with very attentive personnel. The ship was very clean, extremely well maintained and most of the staff was very friendly, exceptions were some waiters of the Grand Buffet and the Captain's Cocktail Party, who showed great dissatisfaction in serving without receiving tips.

Our Captain Mr. Ioannis Papanikolaou rarely appeared; I did not see him during the whole cruise. He made one single announcement apologizing for a radical maneuver to avoid fishing nets, made at 2.22 AM of July 13th, causing a strong inclination of the ship, breaking all the glasses and china, which already had been set for breakfast and scaring the sleeping passengers.

The shore excursions were very good but expensive (tours: A Day in Berlin with Lunch was $ 295 per person and Grand St. Petersburg with Lunch was $145 each one).

Ports of Call:
St. Petersburg -
A city plenty of contrasts with outstanding palaces and museums on one side and dark, badly maintained buildings (broken glasses and windows, weedy gardens, no painting, worn out buses and cars and streets without paved sidewalks on the other side. Independent sightseeing is not advisable. Do not miss Petrodvorets and Hermitage Museum.

Helsinki -
Very nice city at walking distance from the pier. At the beautiful Market Square you will find flowers, fruits, vegetables, handicrafts and buses and boat tours at the local pier.

Tallinn -
Beautiful City founded in 1154 and incredibly unchanged. Upper Town with very well maintained old buildings, ancient walls and tower gates is amazing. Downtown has interesting flower shops, exclusive boutiques and charming cafes.

It is one of the most inexpensive cities in Europe. People are friendly and very happy about the end of Communist domination.

Copenhagen -
City with contrasting architectural styles, interesting museums and good shopping.

The Little Mermaid figure is at walking distance from the pier. There is no necessity of ship tours, you can get rap-on & rap-off buses by the ship.

Warnemunde (Germany) -
Very nice seashore village with stores & cafes. The Berlin tour is extremely interesting in spite of being expensive.

Gdynia (Poland) -
One of Poland's oldest cities, it has a wonderful collection of restored buildings, displaying a rich heritage of many styles. Very interesting ship tour. People are also extremely happy of being free of the communists.

Stockholm -
The amazing arrival is through the Archipelago, taking more than three more hours and passing hundreds of beautiful islands. The city is also known as the "Venice of the North", and was built on 14 islands between two great stretches of water. Natural beauty and magnificent buildings. The Vasa Museum should not be missed.

Oslo -
The ship docked at walking distance from downtown, where boat and bus tours are available. There are also beautiful cafes, musicians and people dancing in the streets.