Celebrity Cruise Lines - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
Celebrity Cruises

by Eric Yeomans
Baltic Sea
June 8, 2002

A Baltic cruise is destination orientated, after all if you have flown from Nth America or Far East you are unlikely to be there just for a ride on a ship to anywhere. Port calls are intensive & a certain amount of fitness is required to get the best from the cruise. Having said that, Constellation is a destination in itself, brand new & on its 4th cruise. We were very pleased with the cruise/ship/crew/food/entertainment etc & would cruise on this ship again anytime. I will try to tell you our impressions of the cruise & ports, hopefully this will be of use to someone. As we are from UK we had no problems getting to Dover, drove 170 miles in 3 hours & were checked in & onboard by 12 noon.

The Ship..91000 tons & full of facilities so never feels crowded. This cruise had 2040 passengers i/c 85 kids, 50 of whom were teenagers. Never hardly saw them, seems to be good facilities for both sets. Décor contains a lot of orange col but you get used to it. The aft round glass enclosures on deck 11 are called the conservatory, port side is the glass lifts(elevators) & starboard side is a floral boutique, flower arr classes held here. I should mention that except for a few real flowers on dining room tables all floral decorations throughout the ship are artificial. I have no problem with that as they seemed quite tastefully done, maybe after 6 months in service they will not look so good. There is also access to the Fairway golf simulator, a very good feature, long drive or pitching comps are held most days, 3 balls each. The computer shows the ball moving on the screen & records distance + end position. This facility can also be hired for private sessions. The two forward round glass enclosures appear to be only for balancing the ships profile, starboard one only has access to reflections & port one contains nothing more than a table football game (? Possible future use as ejection pod for any unruly teenagers!). The thalassotherapy pool is the big secret on M class ships, bubbles & jets in warm salt water & over 18's only. Nice hard wood loungers & covered from the elements. We spent a lot of time in there. In two corners of this area are ladies & gents changing rooms/sauna large & well fitted out, it is interesting to be in the sauna watching the world go by through a 6ft dia porthole! Gents is equipped with disposable razors & small tubes of shaving cream, I am told the ladies contains a range of lotions etc. Reflections nightclub is a huge observation lounge & mostly kept quiet in daytime but they do hold bingo ( not that popular on this cruise) & dance lessons there. Words the library is over 2 decks 8&9, entrance only on 8, this impressed me as it had a copy of "liners to the sun" by John Maxtone-Graham, enjoyed reading that, The reference section had a copy of "South with Endurance" the photographs of Frank Hurley & essential reading for anyone interested in the Antarctic. Notes the music library had well equipped listening stations with armchairs, headphones & a flat screen menu. Everything is a bit larger than we are used to, including the grand foyer & casino (not used by us) but the passenger lounges are well designed with lots of smaller scale seating areas. Medical facilities are good & unfortunately I had to sample them but charges are at standard USA rates (they say) & come as a shock to us from UK. A simple draining of an infected toe with a few antibiotics + a follow up visit came to $395 including "for your convenience" a 15% gratuity, I & health professionals I have spoken to think this is unethical by Celebrity & they should reconsider this aspect.

Our sky suite 6131 (& opposite32) are approx 10% larger than other sky suites @ around 280 sq ft + a larger triangular balcony that gives good views forward. Bathroom is approx 2mts x 1.5mts with a standard 1.5mts bath but no jaccusi jets like Galaxy. Shower is over bath & at 6ft 1" my hair brushed the ceiling. Nicely furnished & bed was very comfortable, the best we have ever slept on, slept like logs! Balcony has 2 reclining hardwood chairs & a small table. Edwin our butler must be one of Celebrity's best as he opens up all new ships, you will be very privileged if he his your butler, nothing is to much trouble. We had a pot of coffee 1st thing & then breakfast 45 mins later. We also dined in suite at night on the 3 open sitting nights in dining room. Our room steward Agnelo always had a smile & kept the room immaculate.

Food & Dining..All very good as far as we are concerned. Ivan from Croatia our Dining room waiter provided a 1st class service, we had a table at foot of staircase on lower level, this would not have been our choice but no great problem. I have seen complaints about the buffet quality, to me there was always something good to try & there are 4 lines so no big waits. Farther aft is the pasta station that serves the days pasta with a dressing to order. Farther aft still is the speciality of the day usually themed on the country visited. This is also the alternative casual evening eating spot. There is also a light & healthy spa café in the Thalasso pool area & this was excellent, on this cruise it was well used. The usual burger/fries/hot dog station was in corner of pool deck but was probably the least used eating facility on this cruise! On this ship you can eat a lot of good healthy food without having to work hard in gym to keep your weight down. Except last morning we always eat breakfast in the suite & the 3 evening meals provided in suite by Edwin were superb. Just one main course was a little disappointing .. the duck a la orange, but I will always remember the filet mignon, rack of lamb in herb crust & the cold watermelon gazpachio soup. We did not try the Ocean Liners restaurant, had a look in a few times & it did not look very busy on this cruise.

Celebrity "life enrichment" lectures were provided by a USA financial planning consultant & did not see these, but Dr Alan Batson FRGS provided talks on history & what to see at ports of call, very very good. The 1st one scheduled for cinema caught out Celebrity as they were standing in the aisles, after that he was scheduled for the big theatre & that was more than half full, you are lucky if he is on your Baltic cruise. Did not rate the port & shopping guy, heavy southern European accent.

Entertainment ... Ray Carr was cruise director, very efficient & always seemed to say the right things, not as "over the top" as some cruise directors we have seen. We thought that overall entertainment was very good. I have seen adverse comments about Celebrity's production shows, that is probably because they are trying to get away from your typical "hoofing & hollering" prod no show. 1st show was "Batir" rather slow moving but quite arty & balletic in form. 2nd billed as a world premiere was "American canteen in Paris" based on 40's tunes. 3rd was not really a prod no show, just the 5 principal singers with a story line based on session singers in an off broadway production called "A Hot Minute", some complained it was too loud, it was different but still a good show. 4th another "world premiere" entitled "spotlight on Broadway" again a slow start but last quarter was fast moving more like the traditional show, however a lot of the shows featured we had never heard of (they have not been to UK) & those we had, they did not use the very popular numbers, therefore this was our least favorite show. The 16 strong team we thought very talented. The individual headline shows were all good. Scott Record a comedy singing impressionist we thought to be best American entertainer we have seen. USA tenor J C Fisher very good, the Spanish comedy juggler very good, did not see the pickpocket entertainer but others said he was good. Lindsay Hamilton a UK songstress very good. Irish comedian very good. But those of you travelling on constellation this summer are in for a real treat with Brooks Aehron a flamboyant concert pianist who does two shows and a 1st for Celebrity, an afternoon classical concert. The theatre was spectacular & would be a credit to any medium size town. Special effects include sections of stage up or down individually or in unison, a rotating section & 2 screens either side of stage thus everyone could see the pianists hands not just the few who got the right seats early like some ships. In reflections nightclub Karen & Carl duo are VG. In rendez-vous lounge (also heard in martini/champagne bar via hole in floor over rendez-vous dance floor) Coco band VG. Cantabile quartet in dining room & Cova café VG. Brad also played the piano VG in cova café. The Tropical vibes duo on pool deck were good but felt sorry for them when they had to play in their thick jackets to nobody round the pool!

Ports of call I will tell you what we did, some of it may help you. The Celebrity port explorer guides are best we have seen. Oslo, made a mistake when we got off ship & told shuttle bus went "downtown" could see city hall & decided to walk-mistake long way round over pedestrian bridge, shuttle drops you not far from city hall! Number 12 tram 22 Nkr ( only 11 if over 67) to Vigeland sculpture park well worth seeing. Number 15 tram back to Royal Palace just other side city hall walked down to shuttle bus. Ferry to Kon Tiki etc also leaves from just in front of city hall. Stockholm be on deck 3 hours before arrival, superb scenic route in through the Islands. Shuttle bus to end of Gamla Stan, open top tourist bus just across road $7 (takes US) on/off all day. Do not miss Vasa museum could spend hours in there. Finished tour on bus at city hall but as guided tour not immanent walked up to get a 1 hour canal boat ride. Had a walk round Royal Palace on cnr of Gamla Stan then shuttle bus to ship. Helsinki No 3T tram from where shuttle bus drops you does a figure of 8 route & goes near most sites, 1.8 euro for 1 hour on/off. We got off at Olympic stadium, walked down sat in stands for a moment & went to top of tower in elevator for 2 euro (visa taken) superb views over whole city. Road infront of entrance leads straight to Sibelius monument around 800 mts walked back to tram & completed circuit for another 1.5 euro. St Petersberg everything you have ever read about this city is true ! splendour & opulence of the Palaces & Museums + the run down look of ordinary buildings. Trams are rusty with pot holes between lines & you do not see many smiling faces. If you are going this year, two things you should know---2003 is 300th anniversary of St Petes founding & President Putin originates from there. Consequently a lot of money is being spent this year on refurbishment, scaffolding with netting everywhere. This is only stop we took ships tours, be warned you have to go through immigration every time off ship with Passport, ships ID, letter from ship & tour ticket, they look at every passport & give you a little red card (penalty for loss $50). My wife must look suspicious as they looked at every page in her passport. Hermatage & Peterhof are must see's, we also did palaces & owners, summer "palace" really a summer cottage covered in scaffolding & not worth seeing, Yussapov palace very good (Rasputin connections). We only did 3 half day tours & that was enough for us, others did 2 full day tours & the evening ballet! Docked here starboard side too so port side has best view. In spite of all the problems associated with St Petes ( we waited 20 mins for a goods train across the road) it is an unmissable stop. Tallinn much more westernised, shuttle bus to old town, then a walk round, very good well preserved & THE place to buy all your souveniers, enjoyed this stop. Warnemunde was a big surprise, a quite pretty seaside town with a good beach & 85F the day we were there. Found our way by train to Holbeinstrasse then 1 or 4 tram to neurmarket in central Rostock (combined all day zone 3 ticket 3.45 euro must validate in a machine before boarding train) saw the famous astrological clock, had a walk round town, fewer people in old East Germany speak English than in West Germany very hot so back to ship & a walk down beach after lunch. Open seating for dinner again as a train load had gone to Berlin. Great send off by people of Warnemunde at 9.30pm. Copenhagen as they say wonderfull, shuttle bus to national theatre had a long walk round, tired, decided not to go to Tivoli those who did said it was nice but fireworks did not last long (could see the few rockets from the ship. Left 11.0 am next morning. Those on july 6th cruise get 1.5 days here & might consider the 2 day water bus pass for 40 Dkr. For those interested in design the Georg Jensen museum is behind the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain shop in the main shopping street.

Disembarkation A breeze compared to USA, ship docked at 5am & 1st white tags were called at 6.55am going pretty fast when Dover had an equipement problem causing a 20 min delay. Celebrity then rushed everyone down to foyer to get us out of lounges, we were off ship by 9.30 into our car & on road by 10.0am.

This was a great cruise, almost a flat calm sea the whole time, some rain in St Petes & Tallinn otherwise generally good weather for time of year. We would sail this ship & this itinary again there is so much to see you only scratch the surface with one Baltic cruise