Yesterday afternoon and evening was quite busy for us, after using up the last of our vouchers we said our goodbyes to the bar staff that had looked after us for the last two weeks and headed down to the theatre where we were entertained by Jon Courtenay who goes under the banner of the “The funniest Bald Guy With A Piano”. Very funny 40 minutes interspersed with some excellent piano playing. I’m sure I’ve seen him before so will have to have a look back through my daily’s at some point. From there it was on to the atrium where we were entertained by The Celebrity Eclipse Choir which was made up from fellow passengers and I have to say they were mighty impressive and sounded amazing in the atrium. Well done to all involved.
From there it was straight into dinner where we enjoyed our last evening meal onboard and at the end of the night once again saying our thank you and goodbyes to our super waiting staff.
A quick walk up round the open decks after putting the cases out before finally hitting the sack.
We had an extra hour in bed due to a time change in our favour and awoke this morning to find ourselves back where we started.
Our last morning ritual on Celebrity is to take breakfast in the dining room which is what we did and before we knew it our disembarkation number had been called and we were soon making our way off the ship.
Just a couple of quick photos of the ship before getting into the car for the journey to Eastbourne then home……….
We have had a fantastic two weeks and can now start thinking towards the next one which for us is just a mere 20 days away.
The Evening Chic Night dress code in the daily programme suggests that it is less dressy than formal and women should feel comfortable wearing a cocktail dress, skirt or trousers with an elegant top. Men should feel comfortable wearing trousers with a dress shirt, button down shirt or sweater. A sport coat or blazer is optional. Since Evening Chic was brought in late last year we have been on two Celebrity cruises, one from Miami and this one from Southampton and there has been notably more gents wearing dinner suites on this cruise. It’s very difficult to put a percentage figure on it but I would say at least 20-25%. Overall it’s still a great atmosphere and nice to see everyone putting something smart on whatever it be.
Beef Wellington and Lobster Tails were on the menu last night and Oscar provided them on the same plate unlike our waiter in January. I can tell you that they were both delicious. No Baked Alaska parade now on Celebrity but it was still on the menu last night, consequently the presentation of this dessert is now much better.
After dinner I found myself escorting Nicole to see one of the ships production shows called Topper. This was a second time for us and I didn’t really want to go but being as the less sprightly weren’t going then how could I let my good lady go on her own. It’s not a hideously bad show but not one I’m going to see for a third time that’s for sure.
Back to today and our last full day onboard the ship, we took breakfast for the last time in the Tuscan Grille and then quickly made our way to the theatre for a talk on navigation by the Captain which was really interesting, informative and very well attended.
Back to the cabin to start the packing process which Nicole did with her own fine tuned efficiency. Less than an hour and apart from a few odd things everything is good to go.
Lunch was taken in the main dining room giving us just a couple of hours to digest the food before we attended the Elegant Tea for Elite members (and above) in the Tuscan Grille (again). Not exactly what I would call elegant but nice to sit down and enjoy some tea and cakes with a great sea view.
We also noticed that Bistro on 5 had been temporarily converted into Café El Bacio 2 which we think is an excellent idea and long overdue.
So all that remains now is to see the night out, say all our goodbyes to the staff who have looked after us so well over the last 2 weeks.
Time permitting we will go and see Jon Courtenay in the theatre later but that is by no means certain.
Dinner in the Tuscan Grille was every bit as good as we were anticipating. I started my meal with Fritto di Calamari which was followed by a pasta dish called Pappardelle Alfredo con Aragosta (pictured below) and it was totally delicious. My main course was the Filet Mignon which was just beautiful.
It was once again along night which resulted in us missing the show in the theatre for a second time while dining in a specialty restaurant.
Last night’s act was a comedian called Paul Eastwood and we haven’t seen him before so hopefully he will do the rounds and we will get another opportunity at some point.
With just two days left which are both sea days we had hoped for some decent weather as we headed south but alas day one was not to be. We have been seeing news headlines and weather predictions about a heatwave back home in the UK and had hoped to be sailing into it.
Our weather today has been rain and quite a bit of it. All the top decks have been deserted and all the eateries busy. We skipped breakfast but ate lunch in the dining room which as previously mentioned was much busier.
Getting a table in Café El Bacio would be akin to winning the lottery. Once seats had been occupied the custodian was there for the long haul.
When the weather isn’t too good there really isn’t too much to occupy us on this type of ship and is one of the main reasons we tend to head for sunnier climate’s. There is all the usual dross which I just cannot understand people actually getting excited about, for example there was the final of the egg drop challenge which involves dropping an egg from deck 5 to 3 in the Grand Foyer. That actually made front page of the daily programme!
Then there is the European Charm Bracelet sale, table tennis with guests versus officers, a talk on back pain, bunions and bothered knees along with 5 steps to a flawless skin and not forgetting Port versus Starboard bowling challenge! I really kept expecting to bump into Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Esma Cannon today. Not what I consider cruising at its best.
It does surprise me actually how little there is going on during the day that we find interesting and actually wonder how we would cope on a longer and cooler climate cruise with lots of sea days so I think we will stick with what we like.
As a result the afternoon was spent in the cabin having a snooze before our daily little early evening soirée. Tonight is also the third and final Evening Chic Night so at the end of the evening for us it will mean putting the glad rags away again until the next cruise.
After spending the afternoon snoozing in the cabin, we made our way to the Senior Officers Party which was held in the Sky Lounge. It only lasts for 45 minutes but does provide a free bar. You are introduced to all the senior officers one by one then followed by a short speech by the Captain. I think the timing is so that both fixed diners are able to attend although it did make us 10 minutes late at the table.
Last nights show in the theatre, Jayne Curry we again found very entertaining but not a great deal of new material so most of what she did we had seen before. Still very watchable and good fun.
Strange arrival time of 11:00am into Copenhagen this morning and it was a port where we had nothing planned and were going to wing it. Due to the arrival time it allowed us time to go for breakfast in the Tuscan Grille which is also where we will be eating tonight. It was again nice to have a bit of a lie in too although we will have two more days like that following this one.
Once clearance to go ashore was granted the mad stampede began with what seemed like the whole ship wanting to get off at the same time. We just opted to use the ships shuttle which dropped us off in the centre of town where it was just a short walk to Nyhavn where we took a canal boat trip round the waterways of Copenhagen. It cost 80DKK per person and we were given a live guided talk all the way round. It was an excellent way to spend just over an hour and even the sun came out to play.
Part of the tour includes a view of everyone having their photo taken with the Little Mermaid.
Once back we had a spot of lunch along the quayside which was absolutely delicious, between us we sampled herring, moulds, frites & mayo along with potatoes and bacon. Not the cheapest lunch but really tasty.
To walk it off we took a stroll to Rosenberg Slot before making our way back to the shuttle and then the ship. After parting company with the less sprightly, we made the short walk up the Little Mermaid to get a photo from the front.
Back to the ship to unwind with a few drinks before dinner in Tuscan Grille tonight.
We have had a really nice day for our last port of call. All of a sudden the cruise seems to have gone really quickly.
Captain’s Club Elite members and above along with all Suite guests were invited onto the helipad for the sailaway from Stockholm. We attended but were some 10 minutes late so when we arrived it was already quite crowded. All the perimeter spots had been taken so we had to make do with the middle of the helipad itself and it in fact allowed us to mingle with a few of the officers who were very chatty. We stayed for about an hour and enjoyed a glass of champagne while listening to Abba being played a loud speaker ( what else when sailing out of Stockholm!!). I certainly hadn’t anticipated the amount of people that would be there and eventually most drifted away leaving just a few and some better spots to view the sail out.
We weren’t overly impressed with Gareth Oliver the ventriloquist, funny in places but certainly not the polished act Celebrity portrayed him to be. Apparently he was on the same Britain’s Got Talent as Susan Boyle.
A sea day today and the chance to have a well earned lie in. The weather was again very windy last night but the sea was no where near as choppy as the night before.
It was my turn for coffee duty this morning so at 9:00am I made my way to the buffet to get it and on the return leg there was an announcement over the tannoy which said – Crew only, Star Code, Star Code, Star Code, deck 4, Moonlight Sonata which we later discovered had been a medical emergency. At 9:40 the Captain announced there would be an emergency evacuation due to a passenger being taken ill and all forward open decks would be closed until after the helicopter had left. Sad news for someone and I hope not too serious.
We watched the helicopter arrive and were able to monitor events via the TV while it sat on the helipad. It sat there for a good 35 minutes before finally taking off with the unfortunate person onboard. Last time we witnessed a medical evacuation the ship came to halt while it took place but today we maintained speed and the helicopter just sat on the helipad with its rotor blades spinning.
Not the best of days to be out on deck or even on the balcony due to the strong northerly winds so after lunch which was taken in the dinning room we went back to the cabin to chill.
Tonight is the Senior Officers Cocktail Party which we will attend in the Sky Lounge, there are no vouchers issued for today as there is an open bar for 45 minutes.
Tonight the entertainment comes in the form of Jayne Curry who we enjoyed immensely on the Eclipse back in January.
Last port tomorrow before 2 sea days before arrival back at Southampton.
After sailaway I popped up to the Sky Lounge for a spot of socialising and couple of drinks while the ladies got themselves ready for our second Evening Chic Night of the cruise.
Around 7:00pm the winds picked up and the seas followed suit and it stayed like that all night. A little bit of rocking and rolling and nothing too serious but enough to stop me having the best of nights sleep.
We had a clock change too last night in our favour so that was a bit of a bonus. I came too about 5:30 and we had already started the sail in to Stockholm which then woke me completely as it is a truly amazing sight and on the odd occasion when the sun broke through it was even more picturesque. Just beautiful!
With an early breakfast in the Tuscan Grille again we were off the ship about 10 minutes after being given clearance by the local port authorities. With the destination of the Vasamuseet in mind we decided to go the HoHo bus route on the way there and the HoHo boat on the way back. There are two company’s operating this service in Stockholm with little if no difference in price, we decided to go with City sightseeing again at €25 per person (or 850 kr).
To be totally honest the Stockholm HoHo bus route is a very tedious and windy route which seemed to take forever. Although we passed a few of the more popular landmarks along the way, we weren’t impressed with the time it took or the route taken. We were all glad to eventually get off the bus.
When we arrived at the Vasamuseet we found a lengthy queue which did move quite quickly and we were at the ticket booth in around 15 minutes.
The venue and it’s contents was every bit as good as I was anticipating it to be and I’m so glad we made the effort. Entry admission was 130 kr per person and I consider it money very well spent.
Just amazing to see how well preserved the ship is and just fascinating to look round all the other items on display that have been recovered. The ship itself is actually much larger then I would have imagined and I can appreciate why the museum is so popular.
Quite haunting to look into the eyes of some of the facial reconstructions that have been done on some of the skulls.
Once out the sprightly and the un-sprightly returned back to port using the HoHo boat which was included in the same bus ticket price and only 3 stops away from the port where we were berthed and a great deal quicker than by road. I wish we had the insight to have used it on the way there and there would have been a chance to see the changing of the guard outside the Royal Palace which takes place at 12:15. One for another day perhaps.
Back on board, a quick lunch and then a quick nap for all as we were all feeling the after effects of last night’s weather and ship motion.
Tonight we have the sailaway from the helipad to look forward to with dinner then theatre where tonight’s turn is a ventriloquist called Gareth Oliver of whom we have heard lots of good things about.
I was too tired to watch the entertainment last night so I retired to bed at 10:20. The ladies on the other hand did go and thoroughly enjoyed Pete Mathews the juggler. Had I not felt so exhausted I would have gone too as I remember seeing him on the Constellation a few years back and he was very good then.
This morning we awoke to brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies as we sailed into our next port which was Helsinki. The weather has been so changeable on this cruise but so far on the whole it has always remained warm. Our arrival was an hour early this morning and our berth was right next to and large area where there were lots of digger’s and lorry’s moving hardcore from one area to another. In fact the whole area next to the port seemed to be one large building site with lots of new apartment blocks going up around it.
After some breakfast in the Tuscan Grille we made our way off the ship to explore, the fact that the ship didn’t seem to be offering too much in the way of tours did suggest there might not be a great to see.
So willing to give Helsinki the chance to prove us wrong the sprightly and the less sprightly purchased some HoHo bus tickets just outside the terminal shed for €25 each and set off to explore.
Helsinki is a very busy little city but seems to lack much of historic interest with the exception of things built for the 1952 summer Olympics.
After ⅔ of a circuit we got off at Senate Square for a wander, having seen many churches and cathedrals over the last week we decided to give the inside of Helsinki Cathedral a miss.
We did walk up to the Uspenski Russian Orthodox Cathedral which sits on a slight incline in the hope of a view but even that failed to provide anything worthwhile, it is also shut on Monday’s!
One of the HoHo bus stops was at the Olympic Stadium but even that was closed for refurbishment. So if you take away the Olympic items and religious buildings there isn’t really a great deal on offer.
Last resort was to find somewhere for a beer & coffees which is what we did and found a nice little bar overlooking the north harbour.
Eventually we decided to head back to the ship but not before having a stroll through the market square which was full of stalls selling a combination, vegetables and Helsinki souvenirs and mementos. Bit of a strange mix it you are a local out for your greens.
Sadly, Helsinki provided little for me to photograph today and what I have posted is not far from all of it.
We found ourselves back on board at 2:20 with seemingly most of the ship too so after a spot of lunch headed back to the cabin for a quick nap. All still feeling a little tired after the last couple of days activities.
Day 2 in St. Petersburg itinerary.
8:30 – Meet at the Cruise terminal
8:30-10:00 – City highlights drive tour through the historical down-town with the nice views on the bridges, squares; palaces and the Neva river embankments. Short walks and picture & Visit to Kazan Cathedralstops
10:00-13:00 – Excursion in Hermitage museum (early entry)
13:00-14:30 – Lunch in a restaurant to sample Stolle pies
14:30-15:30 – Walking on Nevsky prospect
15:30-16:30 – Boat ride: City tour from the water angle
17:00 – Onboard
18:00 – Sailing off
Yet another busy day today and another early start, no room service this morning as although it was prompt it wasn’t the best. So we gave the express breakfast in the dining room a go instead. Express it was too! We had a plate in front of us within a minute of sitting down.
Having just returned to the ship and after experiencing yet another amazing day I am going to do the same as yesterday and let the photos tell the story.
Our guide from Alla, Polina G was outstanding and made the whole experience totally unforgettable. Such knowledge and passion for her country and of course St. Petersburg.
I think the best thing for me to do right now is go and exchange some vouchers and select some photos to share…….
We have a busy couple of days so I’m not sure how time I will get to do any writing so we may just end up with lots of photos. This was pre written to try and make it easier later.
The tour itinerary for day 1 with Alla Tours is as follows and I will try and post photos to follow the same order.
8:30 – Meet at the Cruise terminal
8:30-10:00 – Travel to Peterhof summer estate with a stop for a subway ride (optional)
10:00-11:00 – Excursion in Grand Peterhof palace.
11:00-12:30 – Tour of the Lower Fountain Park and Upper gardens.
12:30-13:30 – Travel back to the city
13:30-14:30 – Lunch in a local restaurant
14:30-16:30 – Excursion in Church on the Blood
17:00 – Back Onboard
Because we had an early start this morning we ordered room service for breakfast. This was delivered at 6:30 so we would have plenty of time. You get a quick phone call to tell you is on its way then shortly after it arrived.
We also found two other ships in port as we sailed in, Mein Schiff 5 & Fred Olsen’s Balmoral.
Just got back to the ship. Wow! What a day. Too tired and don’t really have time or energy to write anything so will let the photos tell the story…..
What a stunning port of call, and we haven’t finished yet either.
Round two tomorrow……….
I did indeed grab an earlier night and hopefully will see the benefits of it over the next three days which are going to be pretty busy. So after dinner I retired to the cabin while the ladies went off in search of some retail therapy, I must have been tired as I never heard them come in later (and it had absolutely nothing to do with the wine consumption…..)
Now we are further north the evenings are noticeably lighter and considering we are two hours ahead of UK time my body clock is still waking me at my usual time, how does that work?
It was my turn to fetch the coffee this morning so at 8:00 I climbed the stairs to the Oceanview Café and collected two mugs but also the cardboard cups too. The reason for this is the cardboard ones hold a mug and a half so if you fill it up then sit it in the proper mug it also makes it easier to carry. All we then do is decant it into the mugs when we get back to the cabin. We do occasionally use room service but sometimes you don’t want the intrusion that early in the morning and it’s not really too much hassle to go and get your own.
The pilot arrived onboard just before 9:00 as we made our way into the port of Tallinn. Wanting to avoid the bun fight in the buffet this morning we ate our breakfast in the Tuscan Grille where as Elite status we can have a continental breakfast between 8:00 & 10:00. It was nice and quiet and far more civilised than what I imagine was going on in the Oceanview Cafe.
Clearance to go ashore was really quick today and we were ashore before 10:20 and making our way to the shuttle bus ($10 each return), under normal circumstances we would have walked but as we have less sprightly companions we decided the bus was the best solution.
From where the bus dropped us off we made our way to the Town Hall Square before climbing the slight incline up to the Alexander Nevski orthodox cathedral.
From there we partially walked back down to the square where we stopped for some liquid refreshments at Olde Hansa which is a medieval restaurant and bar just off the square.
From there we made our way back to Pikk Street and carried on down the hill before eventually meandering back to the shuttle bus stop. It was all aboard at 4:30 but we were back for 3:00 and immediately went for a quick bite to eat in the buffet. It is yet another short stop for Celebrity and had there been just the two of us we would have covered more ground in the 6½ hours available. Quite a bit is achievable but it would be nice not to have to keep one eye on the clock.
We like Tallinn a lot and found the place really picturesque and the people extremely friendly. We will have to come back for another visit some day.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with our feet up and mentally preparing for the next two days which will be in St. Petersburg.