Russia and Scandinavian Cruise

Russia and Scandinavian Cruise

Join Kaleidoscope Travel & Cruise for this exciting fully escorted 12 day cruise round trip Amsterdam visiting from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Denmark in May 2013

Join Kaleidoscope Travel & Cruise for this exciting fully escorted 12 day cruise round trip Amsterdam visiting from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Denmark in May 2013 Constellation entered service in 2002. At double occupancy, she takes 2,034 passengers and 999 crew at up to 24 knots on cruises to the Caribbean in winter, northern Europe in summer, and New England and Canada in the fall.The Constellation was the first of Celebrity Cruises' Millennium-class ships that was "Solsticized" during a four-year refurbishment plan that began in 2010. Upgrades include adding the ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush to the lobby area on deck 4; replacing the Cova Cafe with the Cafe al Bacio and Gelateria; and building a Tuscan Grille in place of the ships' unique, but less-trafficked Conservatory on the top deck. Bistro on Five, serving crepes, replaced the current martini bar. Also, cabins and other public areas were refurbished. The Constellation underwent the upgrades in April 201

Passengers enter into a subdued, three-deck foyer with marble floors and wood-tone paneling, a fine introduction to the sophisticated onboard atmosphere. Trademark watering holes are the Cova Cafe looking into the grand foyer for specialty coffees and pastries and wines later in the day, and Michael's Club, a handsome woody piano bar that might have been transported from an English country hotel.

The 14 elevators, including several glass-enclosed external ones, whisk passengers between decks, so reaching the Reflections Lounge high up and forward is a pleasure. This spectacular space has floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, giving outstanding views during the day; it is transformed into a Cirque du Soleil interactive entertainment center in the evening and then to a disco late at night.

The theater puts on major Broadway-style shows. The Constellation, along with her fleet-mates, maintains the tradition of a proper cinema, and though small, the screen does justice to films, perhaps better than the cabin TVs. Special-interest lectures take place here when there are days at sea cruising to New England and Canada and in Europe. Additional public spaces are a two-level library, card room, Internet access at high rates, the Emporium, an attractive street for shopping.

The vast AquaSpa by Steiner's of London provides all the treatments, saunas and steam rooms one would seek in a landside resort, plus an elaborate gym overlooking the bow. Sports enthusiasts have a golf simulator, basketball court, volleyball, shuffleboard and a much longer circular jogging track than is found on the Century class. Healthy fare is available at the AquaSpa Cafe for all three meals in a light-filled setting next to the thalassotherapy pool.

Prior to meals in the main dining room, the Martini and Crush (vodka) bars overlooking the Rendezvous Lounge's music stand and dance floor provide attractive predinner venues. Cellarmasters Wine Bar allows patrons to select their favorite wine by the glass with a push of the button. The big window, two-level San Marco Restaurant situated aft provides a handsome setting for Celebrity's celebrated food services overseen by chef Michel Roux. Traditional two sittings prevail for dinner with breakfast and lunch at an open window. All the food is tasty. At night the curtain backdrop is of Venice while during the day it is raised to reveal the sea. For less formal dining at night, a section of the Seaside Grill becomes a wait-served restaurant while still maintaining buffet choices. During the day, there is always fresh pizza and pasta, and the grill dispenses hot dogs, burgers and one changing special.

The piece de resistance is the Ocean Liner Restaurant, a gourmet French dining experience seating 140 and set away from the traffic flow to provide some of the best dining available at sea, with tableside preparation, naturally for an extra charge—but it's worth it. The theme reflects the great ocean liner era in photographs. In addition, cooking demonstrations are held here. Make reservations early.

Qsine is another innovative restaurant offering multiple courses on small plates. The afternoon Champagne High Tea takes place here once on a 7-day cruise and twice on longer ones. For a $25 charge, the event includes a selection of teas and coffees, a glass of Champagne, savory sandwiches, dessert pastries and a string quartet in attendance.

The 975 cabins include 780 outsides, of which 590 have balconies and 195 are insides with no view. The smallest is 165 sq ft, so none are cramped. Standard cabins are spacious with roomy shower stalls, and there is ample closet, shelf and drawer space.

A step up are the concierge cabins with lots of little extras such as fresh fruit and flowers, a choice of pillows, better quality towels and balcony furnishings, a concierge for making dining and spa reservations, and priority embarkation and disembarkation and tender tickets. Several suites are stunning, and many of the aft-facing cabins have balconies that seem larger than the cabin itself. The two Penthouse Suites are among the very largest afloat at 2,530 sq ft plus a 1,098-sq-ft balcony. Suites provide many extras including butler service. All cabin levels have 24-hour room service. Along with the addition of spa cabins, the ship now offers the adjacent 130-seat Mediterranean-themed Blu restaurant, which is offered exclusively to guests staying in AquaClass accommodations.

The Constellation admirably maintains the line's premium reputation, well above what is offered on the mass-market ships in terms of food, service and an attractive atmosphere.

PORTS OF CALL

Amsterdam, Holland

Tell anyone you're going to Amsterdam and there's a fair chance they'll either sigh with envy or give you a sly nod. Amsterdam's reputation for tolerance laced with sin precedes it, but equally renowned are its scenic and cultural attractions.

Amsterdam hotels are known for their cleanliness and hospitality, its restaurants offer world cuisine, and along the city streets is a shopper's paradise. Most visitors fall in love with the city and return again and again. The city is nourished by a wealth of museums, concert halls, and avant-garde theater and dance venues. Its relaxed and tolerant attitudes draw those looking for a creative, anything-goes atmosphere.

Large numbers of beautiful tree-lined canals are bordered by streets with rows of narrow, gabled houses and 17th-century warehouses, making Amsterdam an architectural treasure trove. Amsterdam is much smaller in population (but no less interesting) than many European capitals. As a result, much of the city center can be comfortably explored on foot—or, if you want to look like a true local, by bicycle.

Warnemunde, Germany

Warnemunde, Germany, is a lovely seaside resort town. Broad, sandy beaches are dotted with fishermen's cottages now converted into shops and restaurants. The picturesque Warnemunde Lighthouse offers a panoramic view of the harbor and is a popular destination for tourists. Pleasantly juxtaposed with the historic lighthouse is the more modern Teepott building, which houses a variety of restaurants.

Rostock, just a short train ride from Warnemunde, has a completely different feel. A former member of the Hanseatic League, Rostock's old town is characterized by red-brick buildings and gothic architecture. Daring, contemporary architecture diversifies the skyline and establishes Rostock as a collision of old and new.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden, is a city of contrasts. Unspoiled architecture dating back centuries is complemented by the best in modern Scandinavian design. Stockholm's appreciation of its culture and heritage shows in its theaters, concert halls and galleries, which showcase a rich variety of artistic innovations.

The seasons provide a sharp distinction, too. Stockholm in summer is green and blue, with its attention on the water. In winter, Stockholm is white and frozen, with a sense of stillness and calm, the afternoon darkness punctuated by candlelit cafes and bars.

The waterways surrounding Stockholm's islands clearly define the city's various quarters. From the bohemian cliff-top cafes of Sodermalm and the 17th-century cobbled streets of Gamla Stan to the luxury boutiques of Ostermalm and the parkland calm of Djurgarden, you're never more than a bridge away from a completely different city experience. Flecked with sailboats and ferries in summer, Stockholm's great tree-fringed waterways are often iced over, snow-covered and misty in winter, creating the illusion of a city in the clouds—the perfect setting for the Nobel Prize ceremonies that take place in Stockholm every year.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland's capital, is one of the most interesting and enjoyable cities to visit in Europe. Many first-time visitors associate Finland with extreme cold, but the summers—especially in the south—can be magically warm and flooded with light. Even in the depths of winter, daylight is short, but present. Although sometimes the skies may be overcast, there are clear, sunny days when the city is illuminated by the sparkle of snow and the dazzling, frozen Baltic Sea.

In recent decades, many inhabitants of Finland's rural regions have migrated to the Helsinki metropolitan area, which has been growing at an amazing rate since the mid-1990s. Helsinki's citizens may have close ties to their rural roots, but they also have fallen in step with the urban beat. Their sense of style, innovation and design is evident throughout the city. Visitors can stroll through any local park or square and will probably stumble upon an impressive piece of contemporary sculpture. Helsinki's sparkling nightlife and lively cafe culture add much to its travel appeal. Its terrace cafes are often packed with Finns and visitors alike.

Although not generally a city that wears its history on its sleeve, Helsinki offers fine examples of neoclassical architecture in the historic center around Senate Square. Although the city was founded in the 16th century, most of its architecture dates from the 19th century or later. The Helsinki skyline is still evolving as striking buildings emerge downtown. Helsinki's bold architecture mirrors a national willingness to adopt new technologies and innovations. The head office of Nokia, the mobile-communications giant, is housed in a gleaming glass palace in Espoo, just west of Helsinki. But Finland's traditional roots are never far away. Finns, including Helsinki residents, regard cell phones and other wireless-based technologies simply as what they are: tools.

St Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg has had three names in less than 100 years, changes that mirror the shifting political winds of Mother Russia. The names of its places and people are a roll call of Russian history of the 19th and 20th centuries: the Winter Palace, the czars, Dostoyevsky, the Catherine Palace, Tchaikovsky, Lenin.

As the former official—some still say cultural—capital, St. Petersburg is the most westernized of Russia's cities. Its grand architecture echoes the great cities of Europe, and there are seemingly endless museums full of staggering quantities of treasure. St. Petersburg sprawls along the banks of the Neva River and was once known as the Venice of the North for the many canals there. For visitors who want to understand what came before, and what is happening now in Russia, St. Petersburg is essential.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in northern Europe. Its charming Old Town survived the Soviets, as well as the country's earlier occupations by the Danish and Swedish empires (among others). Today, this city 115 mi/185 km northwest of Tartu is an important port on the Gulf of Finland and a popular stop for cruise ships.

Nearby Pirita Beach has nice views of the Gulf of Finland, but we especially liked the view of Tallinn and environs from atop the ruins of the Pirita Cloister (convent, church and monastery).

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark, seemingly has numerous distinct images, each accurately capturing a facet of the city. Copenhagen is an old merchants' town overlooking the entrance to the Baltic Sea; a progressive city tolerant of a wide range of social behavior; a metropolis that manages to run efficiently yet feel relaxed; and a city with so many architectural treasures that it's known as the "City of Beautiful Spires."

Put together, these images, which enhance Copenhagen tourism, make a truly memorable picture for visitors. And given the Danes' highly tuned environmental awareness, Copenhagen can be enjoyed on foot or on a bicycle.


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