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Frank Gonzalez

Age: 52

Occupation:US Government

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Constellation

Sailing Date: May 24th, 2003

Itinerary: Baltic

If you ever want to take the most perfect cruise, on the most perfect cruise company and ship, this is it!

The Constellation is fantastic and the itenerary could not be better. The only problem we had was making the US Dollar stretch. The Baltic is quite expensive and the U.S. dollar doesn't purchase much, especially with Euro gaining much more value than the US Dollar.

Instead of taking the ship's tours, which could be a bit expensive, you can save up and do city tours on your own and take advantage of the free shuttles that Celebrity offers to all passengers to the center of the downtown areas. There are also bikes that are free for you to rent at a very reasonable price. These cities are oriented towards biking, making it easy and safe to move around in bikes.

The worst thing we encountered was the weather. It can sometimes be very cold and gray.
Keep in mind that if you do not have a visa to Russia, "you must buy a tour onboard the ship, in order to leave the ship. You must take the Hermitage tour, it's the must wonderful museum you'll ever visit! The guides are very knowledgeable and friendly. If you want to do a little shopping in St. Petersburg, the only tour that gives you that is the one that goes to Kathryn's Palace and is a full day tour with lunch. It's a bit expensive but worth it. They take you to a few places to shop for Russian souvenirs and goods, including Russian Amber. The store RED OCTOBER, has great prices on Amber. Outside the Hermitage the street vendors have great prices on books too.

In Germany, we docked into Warnemunde instead of Rostock. It's a quaint town but you must take the train to Berlin. No air conditioner and gets very stuffy. It takes 2 1/2 hours to get there. Once in Berlin a bus takes you to the center and drops you off at a Holiday Inn there where about five hours later you once again meet. You can do a city tour on your own in a double Decker bus that takes about 2 hours and can get off and on whenever you want.
In Estonia, go to the center of town on the complimentary bus shuttle. The tour offered by the cruise company was not very good. The free shuttle leaves you in the middle of town in a great big huge area full of stores and restaurants.

In Copenhagen take a boat tour, it is worth the $8.00 per person it costs.

In Oslo, everything is near the port where the ship docks. You can walk to the center of town in about 15 minutes. Go to the National Gallery there. On Mondays it's free and you can see "Edvard Munch's Painting the Scream!"

Helsinki really fooled me! What a wonderful city that is. Go to the Russian Orthodox church at the top of the hill, great view of the city of Helsinki from there and the church has fantastic icons.

The food on board the ship was quite good, but nothing totally exceptional. The one fantastic meal we had was the night they served lobster. Great meal, the rest of the times it was good, but not like the before days of Celebrity! In my opinion, ever since both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean established those "Specialty Restaurants" like Ocean Liners on the Constellation, I feel that the main restaurant has suffered in quality service and little extras like, sherbet between meals to cleanse the palette and petit fours after dinner are now history. Too bad!
If for some reason you do not want to eat with your fellow dinner companions, you have what they call "Alternate Dining", where you simply call the Matr'd and make a reservation on the 10th. floor at the Grill, where a buffet breakfast or lunch is normally served. They rope off a section, make it fancy and you can dine there. I found that they suggested that a $2.00 tip per person is kind of tacky! They serve great burgers and hot dogs out by the pool too.

The ship is beautiful and elegant, but not as impressive as Royal Caribbean's Centrums. The Constellation instead has an impressive staircase that seems to be made of amber that runs two floors.

The cabins are comfortable and modern looking, with a white wash decor. The safe in the room is great too.

The library, is literary unknown to most passengers because of it's location and so is the music place, called notes. These are hidden on the 7th. and 8th. floor but worth a visit.
The movie theater was also a nice extra for those days at sea. Check the newsletter for what and when it's playing.

The indoor pool is just great. It has sea water and it's warm. Get there early for it's a very popular place when it's cold outside. In that area the have a health bar with the most fabulous and healthiest food that tastes good too!

Regardless of what is so right or so wrong with the ship, go on this itinerary and on Celebrity! These have got to be one of the most incredible ports of call you'll ever visit with midnight suns and incredible waters full of history that anyone will ever sail on!

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