Thank you to Nadine Smeyne for taking the time to share thoughts from her fabulous cruise on the Celebrity Constellation. This was originally an older post but with the popularity of this destination, I wanted to renew.
We started from Dover, the home of the white cliffs, and finished at Oslo on the Celebrity Constellation.
We've gone on about 20-some cruises, but this was my favorite. The weather was in the 70's and 80's, no rain, smooth seas on the Baltic. The North Sea is a bit rougher, but really no problem.
We always take the ships' tours for overview of any port city we may be in. You are not in any of the cities that long. The motor coach tours are informative. We didn't have a bad one in any of the ports, although some may have been better than others. Also, we opt for the ship's tours because if there is any delay, the ship will wait for a ship sanctioned tour. The same accommodation is not given a self retained tour.
Gdansk is the inland city to the port of Gdinia. Gdansk is still in the throws of re-establishing itself as a democratic city. There is a lot of graffiti. If you have any idea in mind of buying polish pottery there, forget it. I love the stuff, but you can't find it in Gdansk. From talking to the locals there, I found that it is something that is made in Poland, but shipped out of the country.
We signed up for 4 tours in St. Petersburg: Motor coach tour of the city giving an overview was very good idea on the first morning. That evening we went to the Russian ballet. The performance was not too long, but very good. The theatre is definitely not what we would be used to here in the U.S., but a worthwhile tour. We signed up for a river cruise through the city...more good information about St. Petersburg being settled on 7 convergent rivers. The highlight of the whole trip was to be able to tour the Hermitage. NOT! We were so disappointed. This is the only tour I would encourage you to get a private tour guide for your group. The ship offers that option. If we go ever again, we'd do that. The Hermitage is a mob scene...wall to wall tourists. St. Petersburg is a tempting city. We want to go back there on our own. There is just too much to want to check out, more than you can take in on a ship's overnight. The Babushka dolls (nested dolls) are a good buy from the street vendors. They were very cheap and very nicely done in a rustic sort of way.
Tallinn is a very clean city in Estonia. The tour was good. When you go on tour, there is a cute little gift shop that is tucked away near the big church where the tour guides take you. This little gift shop sells amber bracelets for about $7 each. They are the kind with an elastic band going through the amber. They make great gifts. Tallinn is big into singing. They make it a national competition. The tour guide will fill you in on all of that.
Passengers on our cruise thought Helsinki was a waste. We did not. We signed up for a tour that was very unusual. If they offer it on your cruise, you should go on it. It is a visit to a private horse farm. The whole family lives in varying locations on the family property. They give you a wonderful feel for life in Finland. They prepared a lunch for us. The food was not memorable, but the experience definitely was. We saw the horses. Each family member-trainer had their horse perform for us. It was fun. Nobody on our tour agreed with Helsinki being a waste. Helsinki is also the home of Lindt chocolates and the parent company is in Finland. It was to die for!
Stockholm was my favorite city. We toured the Vasa Museum along with a city tour...another worthwhile introduction to one of the world's wealthiest cities. After the tour, my husband opted to go back to the ship.) He's not from the shoppers.) I shopped by myself and didn't feel concerned about doing that at all. In cities where the pier isn't right there, the cruise line provides buses that will take you back to the ship from central city locations. The side streets have lovely shops with toys, crystal, sweaters, etc., with bistros here and there. Stockholm is one of those cities with buses readily available. Nice set-up.
Copenhagen is very pricey but so exciting. You must go to Tivoli Gardens, of course. You can buy tickets on the ship. We ate dinner there...not cheap. A very mediocre meal was not a mediocre price. We took a tour of the city by water at sundown. The water tour gives you a good view of the Little Mermaid and some beautiful architecture.
Warnemunde and Rostock
The next to the last stop, Warnemunde and Rostock, was super. I was not the least bit interested in going to this port when we booked it. But we signed up for one tour the ship offered at this port. It was a visit to a micro-brewery in Rostock, where we drank beer and they gave us the beer stein and a huge pretzel. Then we were off for an overview of the city which was informative. Then off to Warnemunde for dinner. Good meal at a nice clean and pretty restaurant overlooking the Baltic Sea. When we got back to the ship we pulled out of port at 7-ish. Local boats and dinner ships lined each side of our ship, the Constellation, to escort us out to sea. All the passengers waved to our ship, one playing Andrea Bocelli with its passengers swaying in time to Andrea. We stood out on our balcony swaying back and forth in time to the music as well. Pulling out of port with the twinkling lights of the boats aside us, the music and the waves of these friendly people brought tears to my eyes. It is a sight I will never forget.
Are you going to a great destination or cruise that you'd like to share? Reach out to alyson@myvirtualvacations. net to submit your idea.
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Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic teenage boys. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels. We enjoy upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, with a family including two teenage boys, we still need family friendly and comfortable.
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Time flies! Summer is almost here.
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