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Trevor and Janet Harrison

Age: 58

Occupation:Fully retired

Number of Cruises: 7

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Constellation

Sailing Date: 2009-06-26

Itinerary: Scandinavia and Russia

Having cruised with Celebrity in the past, I have to say our latest cruise was a disappointment. The ship itself, all staff and service were excellent. The self service restaurants were often out of cups, milk , spoons and plates. There was no "wow" factor in the main dining, although what was served was good. Some of the shore excursions were what I can only describe as a "rip-off".

We found to our cost that booking shore excursions on-line before travelling, actually cost us a lot more money than if we had done it on-board. This applies to those living in the UK So, beware!

There seems to me to be a lot of penny pinching (nickel and dimming).

Main dining and self-service was good, but I don't expect to have to walk half way around the self service restaurant to find spoons and cups, and milk every morning. Milk machines would be empty for over half an hour.

Our stateroom 7198 (consierge class with balcony) was very good. Clean and well serviced.

There was plenty of choices of onboard activites, but the evening entertainment left A LOT to be desired. I have seen better acts in clubs in the UK. Compare this with for example, Cunard, and Celebrity are miles behind.

If you live in the UK, DON'T book shore excursions in advance on the Internet. You will be charged in GBP. The pre-booking documentation sent to us was in GBP. The same tour booked on the ship was in USD.

At current exchange rates, I lost a lot of money. It works out that for the same tour, you will get an equivalent exchange rate of $1.38 to the pound which you pay BEFORE your cruise, in GBP, debited to your credit/debit card. This is a fixed price in GBP. If you pay on board in dollars, have it added to your on-board stateroom account, you will pay in dollars, and at the end of the cruise, have the amount put on your credit card.

We received $1.63 exchange rate on my credit card for stateroom/restaurant expenditure, compared with Celebrities equivalent of $1.38 for pre-booked excursions. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

EXCURSIONS themselves were on the whole, very good. But value for money, DONT pay 49 GBP for WARNEMUNDE walk round tour (WA12 Delightful Warnemunde) ,which can easily be done on your own for nothing. The tour guide couldn't be heard. It is advertised with a 30 minute trip on a mini train. This turned out to be a 15 minute trip around the town in a motorised childrens ride. The tour is 2hours 30 minutes. ONE hour of this is wine tasting. Sounds good, but you are treated to 2 small glasses of wine, taking 1 hour to drink !

TALLIN. Read up about TALLIN before hand, and walk around the "Old Town" on your own. It is a wonderful experience. It is within walking distance of the dock.

ST PETERSBURG. Whatever you do, take in the tour of the HERMITAGE MUSEUM and the YUSUPOV PALACE. I am not a "museum" persion, but both these tours were EXCELLENT.

Overall , the trip itenary was what we wanted and what we expected. However, I certainly don't call Celebrity 5 star cruising any more.

We were unable to dock in Stockholme (one of the ports of call). We docked elsewhere, and then charged $30 each to ferry us into Stockholme. It took 3 (thats THREE) hours to tender us from the boat to the waiting buses. We were told the "tender" queue time was 30 minutes. It actually took 3 hours!

After meeting with the cruise director, I was given a refund of 50% ($30) for our trouble. Our tour was entitled "discover Stockholme on your own". We arrived in Stockholme at 1pm. (it should have been 10am). We then had to be back on the bus at 4:00pm. Try discovering Stockholme in 3 hours!

I am unable to recommend Celebrity for future cruising. Having been with them before, they were EXCELLENT (E.G. Panama Canal in 2004). I can see a big difference. Will I travel with them again? Very doubtful.

Many, many people that we engaged in conversation from all walks of life and different countries, shared our view of this cruise.

We were offered a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price from day one. We were told at the outset it was available for the whole duration of the cruise. After two days, the offer was withdrawn for no reason. I suspect that we were buying too much of it, and not spending sufficient on other expensive wines. I personally, object to having to pay a statutory 15% on all my drinks on board. Yes I know other ships do the same, but doesn't mean I have to like it!

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