Constellation 2008
Saturday 14th June-Harwich, UK
Sunday-Amsterdam, Netherlands
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-Warnemunde, Germany
for tours to Berlin
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday-Stockholm, Sweden
Friday-Helsinki, Finland
Saturday-St Petersburg, Russia
Sunday-St Petersburg, Russia
Monday-Tallinn, Estonia
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-Copenhagen, Denmark
Thursday-Copenhagen, Denmark
Friday-at sea
Saturday 28th June-Harwich, UK
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Along with her 3 sister ships, Constellation is the third highest rated ship in the world.

Show 2008 Voyage Map 2008 Voyage Map >>

Take a look at some of my 2005 Baltic Photos >>

Read a full Ship Report
at the Constellation Gallery >>

Constellation is one of the 3 sister-ships to Infinity, the ship some of us nearly went on to Hawaii in 2005. At 90,228 tons, she is the largest ship I've been on - nearly 4 times bigger than Sagafjord! However, I didn't find her at all intimidating and with a painless journey to Harwich, a speedy check-in and a free glass of Champagne on embarkation, we all quickly warmed to the ship!

Show Picture Full Size Sunday 15th June
Amsterdam, Netherlands
On our first night, the clocks went forward but everyone was still up and raring to go! While Gerry took a canal-boat sightseeing trip, the rest of us took the tram from outside the Cruise Terminal to Centraal Station, from there to explore on foot, led by our own well-researched Shore Tours Manager, John.
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(left)St Nicholaas Kerk from Oudezijds Voorburgwal. (right)Sally's shot of John & his infamous green bag, while Lesley looks puzzled!

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The Dam, Royal Palace
Nieuwe Kerk & National Monument
The National Monument (1956) Oude Kerk (1306)
The red light district
A modern tram
De Krijtberg
RC Church

Walking down Damrak, we took a detour through the red light district, anachronistically at the centre of which is the Oude Kerk (or Old Church), one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam, before heading back to The Dam, the main square at the heart of the city.

Through a 'secret' doorway off the main shopping area is The Begijnhof, a secluded enclave founded in 1346 by an order of lay sisters who rejected the life of the formal nunnery but who ministered to the poor and sick. Their houses are now homes to elderly widows.

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The Begijnhof The Floating Flower Market Market Stall Rembrandtplein
& "The Night Watch" (2005)
Cafe Culture

Being a Sunday morning, it was fairly quiet and most of the shops were closed but the famous Floating Flower Market was still lively and colourful. One end of the market is marked by the Munttoren (Mint Tower), built in 1622. No longer housing the Mint, it is a museum of Delft porcelain today and the tower clock has a musical carillon which plays tunes at noon every day.

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The Mint Tower
from Reguliersbreestraat
Tuschinski Theatre Theatre Lobby Lighting Sconce
(Andrew's picture)
Proscenium Arch
Main Auditorium

Reguliersbreestraat leads to Rembrandtplein, with its statue to the great dutch artist, joined in 2005 by a sculptural interpretation of his famous "Night Watch".

However, high-spot of the morning was our coffee-stop at the Tuschinski Theatre. Built in 1921 & designed by Hijman Louis de Long, it's a marvellous mix of Art Nouveau & Art Deco that beautifully communicates the sense of fun associated with going to the movies at that time. Completely restored in 1998-2002, with a modern extension added, the theatre now functions as a 'multi-plex' cinema but it still retains its original stage and organ, and there are conducted tours in the week when films are not showing. Unfortunately for us, there were no tours today but we were allowed into the auditorium between the films and coffee in the plush and comfortable lobby was really nice!

Show Picture Full Size Constellation then sailed at 2pm for Warnemunde.

The North Sea Canal See Satellite Photo >>
Built 1865-76, this 15 mile canal connects the port of Amsterdam directly with the North Sea at the town of IJmuiden. Although there are locks, these are used only to regulate the effect the tides.
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(above) The view from the "Bar at The Edge of The Earth". (above right) Recent stock photo of Constellation in the North Sea Canal

A somewhat frustrating afternoon!
I had notions of spending a leisurely afternoon on Dad's balcony, re-enacting our delightful passage through the Kiel Canal in 1999 (take a look >>) but it was too cold and windy. I tried the forward Observation Lounge (The Bar at the Edge of The Earth) but that was really crowded and noisy. When I did manage to grab a seat with a view, I was surrounded by a group of Americans who then spent the next half-hour loudly arguing the pros and cons of Barack Obama! Then at 3.30, just as they tired and cleared-off, the Bingo started! I think I managed just 4 pages of my book before I retired to the sanctuary of my cabin!

However, the afternoon was not a complete disaster. The Quiz at 4pm was "Name That Broadway Tune" and we beat the Americans with a score of 19/20! So we proved that Britannia still rules the waves & it was Celebrity Pens all round!

At about 6pm, my lovely stewardess Aida brought me ice and free canapes; somewhat ironic, considering the debacle over canapes on Arcadia last year (See "Service Not Included" Arcadia 2007 >>). So the minibar was cracked-opened and it was drinks for everyone in my cabin before Dinner! I'm still not sure if I really like the "large ship experience" but it certainly has its moments!

Show Picture Full Size "The Captain's Welcome Gala"
Celebrity abandoned the traditional "Captain's Cocktail Party" some years ago, merging it with the first Formal Night show at which passengers are introduced to the Captain & Officers and there's a toast with a free drink! It was shrewd move because many passengers don't bother to go! However, not to worry; instead, as past passengers we would be invited to the "Captains Club Party" later on!
(above) Our Formal Group Portrait: (back row) Geoff(my Dad), Gerry, Andrew & Peter (& front) John, Lesley, Stella, Sally & Me

Show Picture Full Size Formal portraits of Me (left) and Dad (right) at our table on the first Formal Night

...followed by
A Day at Sea
A late breakfast and a relaxing day settling-in and catching-up with our lost hour. Although it was too chilly outside, it was sunny in my cabin in the afternoon and Aida brought me tea (Earl Grey of course!) She proceeded to persuade me to have some more canapes later! Celebrity 2 - P&O nil!
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The dreaded Norwalk Virus!
At embarkation, we learned that the ship had just suffered a minor outbreak of the "cruising virus" and was under a strict hygiene regime. Amongst other things, this meant that there was no self-service; passengers were not even allowed to make their own tea at the tea stations! Trying to explain to a polish-speaking stand-in that I wanted Earl Grey tea with just a dash of semi-skimmed milk, proved near-impossible! This lasted for the whole of the first week but to be fair, the crew were excellent and seemed visibly relieved when the regime was relaxed in the second week! I must say that Celebrity handled it all extremely well!

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Baltic Seascape - one of Gerry's photos

Tuesday 17th June
Warnemunde, Germany
Once a tiny fishing village, Warnemunde was absorbed into the city of Rostock and it has now become a thriving seaside resort.
Some of Dad's photos:-
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The Cruise Terminal Alexandrinenstrasse The Promenade At the Beach!

Hanseatic Rostock
A trading port situated inland on the Warnow River, Rostock's rise came in the 14th Century from its membership of the Hanseatic League, a guild of trading merchants that ran a monopoly in the Baltic and by the end of the 15th Century, it was ruled by the Dukes of Mecklenburg.
Some of Andrew & Sally's photos of Warnemunde & Rostock:-
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Alter Strom
(The Old Channel)
(St Mary's Church)
Rostock Fountain
& University of Rostock
University Facade Neuer Markt
(New Market)

However, while the others enjoyed a leisurely day in Warnemunde & Rostock, John, Gerry, Lesley & I were up at 6am for the full-day excursion to Berlin by exclusively chartered train. With breakfast out of a paper bag on the 3-hour journey, a canal sight-seeing trip, whirlwind bus-tour and lunch at a popular restaurant, we had glorious weather and an exhausting but fantastic day!

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Upon the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Reichstag Building once again became the seat of Parliament but bombed in World War II, the original cupola had been demolished, so a competition was held for a new design. In 2005, John and I saw inside! See the view from inside the Reichstag Dome >>
(above) The refurbished Reichstag (Parliament) Building (1884-94) and its iconic new dome, designed by Norman Foster in 1999.

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The Berlin Wall
(what remains of it)
The Brandenburg Gate (1789-91)
(The Quadriga "Peace" was added in 1794)
Checkpoint Charlie Victory Column
(203 ft high)

Show Picture Full Size Schloss Chartlottenburg (1695-1713)
Built as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich Wilhelm III, one of the Hohenzollern-dynasty rulers of what was then Prussia, the Palace is a Baroque masterpiece and has been extensively renovated.

The grounds were laid out in the 19th Century in the style of an English landscaped garden and are open to the public.

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Old & New Towers The ruined West Tower
(Gerry's photo)
Mosaic ceiling
(Gerry's photo)
Mosaic ceiling detail The New Church
(choir practice)

The Kaiser Wilhelm I Memorial Church is a haunting symbol of how Berlin was devastated by bombing in 1943. Only the ruined tower remains and has been made the centre-piece of a museum. A new church and bell-tower were built alongside the old one 1957-63.

"I don't believe it!"
Returning by train to Warnemunde, the long queues to get back aboard were a reminder of the drawback of large cruise ships; it was late and we were all tired. However, while I was collecting my stuff at the security check-in, someone (another passenger!) grabbed my "Celebrity" umbrella and ran off with it! Flabbergasted, I was heard to utter the immortal words of Victor Meldrew!

Wednesday 18th June
A Day at Sea

After an exhausting day being a tourist, it was time to relax - and by now I had also discovered where the others went at 5pm every evening!
(right) Andrew, Gerry, Me & Sally sampling the many-flavoured delights available in the Martini Bar!
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Show Picture Full Size In the afternoon, we enjoyed an interesting Food & Wine Pairing seminar in the restaurant but in the evening, we assembled at Peter & Lesley's cabin for a Group Photo on the balcony before the Captain's Club Party upstairs, where there was even more to drink and, thankfully, plenty of hors d'oevres!
(left) Group Photo taken on Peter & Lesley's balcony on our second Formal Night aboard

Thursday 19th June
Stockholm, Sweden
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Founded in the 11th century and now home to 22% of the country's population, the capital of Sweden is an unbelievably beautiful city. Sometimes referred to as the "Venice of the North" because of its strategic position on 14 islands at the mouth of Lake Malaren at the head of a deep sea-inlet, it is protected and hidden from the sea by the islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. See Map >>
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(Below)Gamla stan, the old centre of the city (& right) The lattice-work spire of Riddarholmskyrkan, containing many royal tombs
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Show Picture Full Size Stadshuset (City Hall) (1911-1923)
First stop of John's tour today was City Hall, where we took the official guided tour of the State Rooms. Designed by Ragnar Ostberg in the Swedish Romantic style and completed in 1923, it's a colourful and sometimes witty blend of Gothic, Italian and Swedish styles that is both suitably grand, befitting its national and civic role, as well as being "fun" to look at! It houses the 101-seat City Council Chamber and 250 administrative offices but is also the setting for the annual Nobel Prize Banquet.

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Lake Malaren
The Blue Hall
(wasn't painted blue after all!)
The annual Nobel Prize Banquet takes place here
The Prince's Gallery
Military officer & artist Prins Eugen painted the frescos decorating the wall behind the columns

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The Council Chamber
with its decorated open-truss roof
(Gerry's pictures)
The Golden Room
decorated with 19 million mosaic tiles
The Golden Room
Contrasting scenes and styles in the
elaborate mosaic decoration

Show Picture Full Size The architect may have changed his mind about decorating the Blue Hall with blue tiles but in the Ballroom or Golden Room, the walls are covered with 19 million glass and mosaic tiles in a myriad of scenes mythological, historical and modern. Here the 1300 guests for the annual Nobel Prize Banquet dance after their dinner!

The Bell Tower. Gerry & I made the ascent of the 348 ft high tower together while the others "rested" down below! And the view of the city was worth the effort.

(Andrew's Photo above) The 3 Crowns of Sweden top the 106m (348ft) bell-tower of City Hall & (Below) The View from the top!
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The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place in the Courtyard of the Royal Palace every day, preceded by the usual marching brass band. In these days of security paranoia, it was refreshing to note that access is still quite open and relaxed. Maybe international neutrality has its rewards!

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Changing The Guard
(the Courtyard of the Royal Palace)
Palace Guard Cathedral &
Royal Palace
Lunch Stop!
(in the shadow of the Storkyrkan)
Afterwards, just yards away we found a lovely little restaurant for lunch, with seats outside in the street, in the shadow of the 700 year-old Cathedral, the Storkyrkan. See More Stockholm Pictures Here >>

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The "af Chapman"
below Admiralty House & the dome of Skeppsholm Church
Island Steamer
Crystal Symphony
(Gerry's photo of me)
Crystal Symphony
(My photo of the ship!)

With a gentle stroll back down through the historic City centre, we returned to the free shuttle-bus back to the ship and sailed at 5pm; as we left, we were followed out See Add'l Photo >> by 2 ferries and Crystal Symphony (which had been in the eastern dock all day). As the ship negotiated the Stockholm Archipelago, where better to enjoy the view than from the comfort of the Martini Bar! >>

Show Picture Full Size Marco Polo Restaurant
With its musicians' gallery and 2-deck high glass wall giving views of the sea, this seats 1,200 in uncrowded elegance. Our waiters, Gede & Eri, gave us excellent service here and the menus were what Celebrity has become famous for. Souvenir Menus: Farewell Dinner Menu >> & Last Night Menu >>
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Friday 20th June
Helsinki, Finland
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(right) Dominating the city, the Lutheran Cathedral (1852) is now the symbol of Helsinki (Sally's pic)
Founded as a trading port by the Swedish in the 16th century, Helsinki only became capital of Finland in 1812, during the Russian Occupation. Prior to
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this, most of what is currently Finland had been ruled by Sweden since the 12th century and the Great Northern War of 1700 led to a period which became known as "The Great Hate" (1713-21). Sweden regained control but its influence as a superpower was waning at a time when Russia's was growing. The war of 1808 was a disaster for Sweden, losing Finland to the Russians in 1809.

A National Holiday
A free shuttle service brought us into the city and the Group assembled on the Town Quay for "Johnny's Tour" on a rather grey day. And the discovery that today was "Midsummer's Eve" and everywhere was shut, didn't help!
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(Right) A Grey Day. Trying to be upbeat on a cold "Midsummer's Eve", a Public Holiday when everywhere was shut! (Gerry's photo)
(Below) Dad's photo of the ferry from the Town Quay to the Suomenlinna Fortress at the entrance to the harbour
Show Picture Full Size Suomenlinna Fortress Location Map >>
Built by the Swedish on islands at the entrance to the port, the sea-Fortress of Sveaborg was begun in 1748 and was the brainchild of Lt-Col. Augustin Ehrensvard. It took 40 yrs to complete the 8km (5 miles) of walls which at one time accommodated 1,300 cannon.

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Surveying the Battlements World War II Submarine
One of the exhibits dotted around the islands
The tomb of Lt.Colonel
Augustin Ehrensvard

The Russians garrisoned 12,000 troops here during the Occupation but today the islands are home to a number of artist studios and a few lucky commuters. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, there are also a number of small museums and it's an ideal summer day out, or it would be if the sun was out and it wasn't a public holiday!
Still, at least we found a cafe for coffee and a bar/restaurant for lunch before heading back to the Town Quay where the Daily Market was about the only place in town not closed!
(right) One of Gerry's photos of the colourful market beside the main Town Quay
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Show Picture Full Size Uspenski Cathedral
On a hill visible from the market, with its 13 golden onion domes and built in 1868, it claims to be the largest Russian Orthodox church in the Western World. Typical of all Russian churches, it has no seats. Interior Photo 1 >> Interior Photo 2 >>

It was consecrated only 16 years after the nearby imposing Lutheran Cathedral >> with its Corinthian porticos surmounted by giant statues of the Apostles. Interior Photo >>

In the afternoon, we took a ride on one of the city's trams and got off at the Olympic Stadium. Built in 1938, it was considered to be one the most beautiful in the World and its 72m (236ft) Observation Tower is still recommended for its spectacular views over the city. However, you guessed it, it was closed! Because of the War, the Games did not take place here until 1952.

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City Tram The 1952 Olympic Stadium
Statue of Paavo Nurmi the "Flying Finn"
The 3 Smiths
Felix Nylund (1932)
Nice Abs!
Be careful swinging that hammer!
The 1939-45 War also left its evidence on the statue of The 3 Smiths near the City Centre, where you can still see bomb-splinter damage on its granite base.

My Cabin Back in my cabin, not only was I now getting quite used to my "free" canapes delivered every day by Aida, my wonderful stewardess, but today she had left this special treat on my bed - I don't know whether it was a dog or a reindeer but it was delightful - and she even included my teddies Jaques & Aloysius! Towel Origami!

Saturday 21st June
St Petersburg, Russia - Day 1
Show Map of St Petersburg Area
Peter The Great wanted a northern port with all-year-round access to the Baltic and by 1703, he had begun to fortify an island site on the Neva River, surrounded by marshes at the head of the Gulf of Finland. It was a time of war with Sweden and the new city of St Petersburg was built in the most inhospitable of conditions and by 40,000 Swedish prisoners-of-war. St Petersburg was named capital of Russia in 1712 and by the time of Peter's death in 1725, it was a thriving city.

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The Peter & Paul Fortress on the Neva River - the beginnings of the city of St Petersburg in 1703
As John & I had been here with Dad in 2005, we encouraged the others to go on many of the similar excellent tours we did then, as a sound introduction to this magnificent city. Meanhwile, we took the opportunity to visit some places we had not had the chance to see on our previous visit....

Show Picture Full Size The Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin)
Designed in 1752 for Tsarina Elizabeth by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who did the Winter Palace in St Petersburg at the same time, it was named after her mother Catherine I, who briefly became Empress after the death of Peter The Great.
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Tsarskoe Selo - The Catherine Palace. Two views showing just part of the stunning Baroque south facade extending to 300m (980ft).

Show Picture Full Size The town of Tsarskoe Selo was renamed Pushkin in 1937, in honour of the great poet, but in 1941, the Germans plundered the town and its monuments. While much of the Palace works of art had been removed by the Russians to safety, when the Soviets liberated the town in 1944, the Germans torched the Palace and left it a smouldering shell. Almost all of what you see today has been painstakingly reconstructed following years of research and hard work. Restoration continues.
(left) The Great Staircase (designed by Ippolito Monighetti in 1860) leads to the restored State Apartments.

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Faux windows in
The Cavaliers'
Dining Room
Glittering mirrors & gilding
The Great Hall
(by Rastrelli c.1755)
The White Dining Room Tsar Nicholas II
(born at Tsarskoe Selo)
& Tsarina Alexandra
Delpht Porcelain Room Heater
The Picture Hall

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Originally in the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, this magnificent room was a gift from Friedrich Wilhelm I to Peter The Great in 1716, later being extended and installed here. Looted by the Germans and "lost" in the War, 6 tons of amber were used in its reconstruction 1979-2003.
(Photos were "strictly prohibited". The pictures are off Internet.)
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Returning to St Petersburg, we met up with Dad back at the ship for lunch before setting off for our afternoon excursion into the city.
(A canal sightseeing trip is a good way of seeing some of the grand buildings lining the embankments)

The Yusupov's Palace
This grand house was acquired by the aristocratic Yusupov family in 1830 to show-off their vast art collection; they even had a 180-seat private theatre.
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The Large Rotunda Chandelier
(in papier-mache)
The Princess' Chamber
(they slept sitting-up!)
The Royal Box & the Rococo style
Private Theatre

Show Picture Full Size The Legendary Grim Death of Rasputin
An exhibition and this tableau tell the tale of how Grigori Rasputin was lured here to the private apartments of Prince Felix Yusupov where he was poisoned with cyanide, shot 4 times and beaten before his body was thrown into the icy river, where he drowned. A year later, when his body was cremated, legend says that he sat up in the flames!

Show Picture Full Size Hermitage Splendour - An Exclusive Evening

With that rare occurrence of an overnight in port, Dad & I decided to take this special evening outing and it was utterly marvellous! Frankly, we didn't take the term "exclusive" too seriously but Celebrity pulled-off a brilliant coup here because the entire Hermitage was re-opened especially for our 3 coach groups - and only us!
(Left) The Jordan Staircase and (below) the Winter Palace State Apartments - as you've never seen them!

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The Armorial Hall
by Vasily Stasov c1840
(The Main Reception Hall)
All Doors
open to us
The St George Hall
also by Stasov c1840
(The Principal Throne Room)
The War Gallery of 1812
by Carlo Rossi 1826
after the Napoleonic War

Like the Catherine Palace, the Winter Palace was designed by Rastrelli for Tsarina Elizabeth and built 1754-62 but it was damaged by fire in 1837 and many of the State Rooms were redesigned. Adjacent to the Palace, the Large Hermitage was built as a private Gallery 1771-87 and with the completion of the New Hermitage, was opened as a public museum in 1852. More Pictures from 2005 >>

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But the climax of our evening was a visit to The Theatre built 1785-87 for Catherine The Great, for a Champagne Reception and a special performance of the Mariinskiy Ballet. The Lobby of the Theatre forms a bridge spanning the canal and connecting the Theatre to the Large Hermitage See Photo >>
(left) Our "exclusive" evening included a Champage Reception in the Lobby of the Hermitage Theatre!

Show Picture Full Size A Gala Performance by the Mariinskiy(Kirov) Ballet
For just 3 coach parties, even this 250-seat theatre wasn't crowded and with an excellent orchestra and brilliant dancing, this was by far the best excursion we've ever taken! See the Theatre Interior & Programme >>
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(above) The private Theatre built for Catherine The Great and a wonderful exclusive performance of the Mariinskiy (Kirov) Ballet

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(above) The Hermitage Theatre, Museum & Winter Palace facing the Rostral Columns & Naval Museum on Vasilevskiy Island

Sunday 22nd June
St Petersburg, Russia - Day 2
Show Map of St Petersburg Area
A trip that John, Dad & I did during our 2005 visit was to Peterhof and I recommended the others do that this time, so here are some of their pictures...

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The Palace and
Marine Canal

(Andrew's Photo)
Peterhof (Petrodvorets)
20 miles from St Petersburg, Peter The Great chose this coastal site for his Imperial Palace because of its proximity to the Naval Fortress on the island of Kronshtadt and in 1714, following a visit to Versailles, Jean-Baptiste Le Blond was commissioned to build the Grand Palace, completed in 1723.

Following Peter's death in 1725, the Palace fell into disuse but it was transformed during the reign of Tsarina Elizabeth between 1745 and 1755, with the aid of her favourite architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The original Palace was expanded to three storeys with side wings and domed pavilions added. (some of Gerry's photos are below)

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The Great Staircase & "Aurora" Ceiling
by Rastrelli in the 1740s
The Oak Study
(original panelling by Pineau survives from 1721)
Drawing Room Tea Time in the
Royal Apartments!
Show Picture Full Size (left) Internet photo of the Ballroom & its beautiful parquet floor

The Park & Fountains
However, Peterhof's most famous feature is its magnificent fountains, the most photographed of which is the Great Cascade & Samson Fountain.
(right) From the Terrace, the Great Cascade & Marine Canal

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The park covers around 1,500 acres (607 hectares) but the main tourist attractions are in the Lower Gardens between the Palace and the Gulf of Finland. Here, great avenues of limes, elms and maples connect various smaller formal or informal gardens, most of which are marked by feature fountains, some of them quite novel or even playful in nature. (Andrew's photos below, unless otherwise stated)

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The Great Cascade
(Sally's photo)
The Samson Fountain Chess Hill
(Dragon's Cascade)
French Fountain

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The Orangery
& Triton Fountain
Greek Forum Fountain
(Gerry's photo)
Monplaisir Palace
(Sally's photo)
Sun Fountain
the sun rotates!

The Peterhof Fountains
The stunning Great Cascade celebrates the triumph of Russia over Sweden in 1709; it contains 37 gilded statues, 64 fountains and 142 water jets. The Samson Fountain at its centre depicts Samson wrestling the Lion and shoots a jet of water 20m (66 ft) high, the highest in the park. The Germans looted the original during the War and it has been "lost"; the present one is a reproduction. The fountains are a triumph of engineering when you consider that there are no pumps; the water travels 22km (14 miles) from the hills and is held in a great reservoir, providing the head of pressure required to operate them! More Pictures from 2005 >>

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The Admiralty
& Peter The Great
The Bronze Horseman
Statue of Peter The Great
Alexander Pushkin Palace Square
Alexander Column

While the others continued their sightseeing today at Peterhof and on the canals in St Petersburg, John & I took an interesting walking tour in the morning, followed by one in the afternoon visiting three of the city's Cathedrals, St Isaac's, St Nicholas & the Church on Spilled Blood.

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From the Park Towards the Iconostasis Cupola Ceiling The West Front The Campanile
St Isaac's Cathedral St Nicholas' Naval Cathedral

St Isaac's Cathedral
One of the largest in the World, it was designed in 1818 by an otherwise unknown architect, Auguste de Montferrand. Completed in 1858, the colossal building required thousands of wooden piles to support its 48 columns and 300,000 tonnes on the marshy ground. In the soviet era, it was designated a museum and officially it remains so, filled with impressive works of art. The Cupola ceiling depicts the Celestial Virgin in Majesty; a silver dove hangs at the centre, symbolising the Holy Spirit.

St Nicholas' Naval Cathedral
Founded for sailors and Admiralty employees, this Baroque masterpiece with its seperate bell-tower was completed in 1762 and actually comprises two churches; a lower one for daily use and an upper, more lavish one for special occasions. Curiously, we were only shown the lower church (rather dark & claustrophobic) - our Guide seemed to know nothing of the upper church at all!

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(The Church on Spilled Blood)

Not strictly a cathedral but a memorial church commissioned by Tsar Alexander III in 1883 following his father's assassination. Built in traditional Russian style, it's a riot of colour & materials. 20yrs of restoration were completed in 1998. See more photos from 2005 >>
(right) The Memorial to Tsar Alexander II, on the spot where he was assassinated in 1881
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Sadly, our tour did not include the Cathedral of Saints Peter & Paul in the fortress but the others got to see it on their tour today, so these are some of their pictures....

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St Peter's Gate
to the Fortress
(Sally's photo)
Cathedral of
SS Peter & Paul

(Gerry's photo)
The Iconostasis
(Gerry's photo)
Nave vault
(Sally's photo)
Cruiser Aurora
Signalled the Storming of
The Winter Palace in 1917
(Dad's photo)

The Fortress and its Cathedral were among the first buildings constructed in the city, the Cathedral being completed in 1733 in ornate Baroque style. Its gilded needle spire is 400ft (122m) high and is still the highest structure in St Petersburg, apart from the Television Mast. Following the death of Peter The Great, it has become the resting place of the Tsars and in 1998, the bodies of the excecuted Romanov family were controversially reinterred here.
(far right) Over the Gulf of Finland, a spectactular St Petersburg Sunset, captured by Gerry
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The Ocean Liners Restaurant
Rounding-off 2 fantastic days in St Petersburg, this evening we had arranged dinner in the ship's speciality restaurant. Evoking a style of a-la-carte dining aboard ships in the 20's, the sophisticated Edwardian-style decor has as its focus, a number of exhibits of rare liner memorabilia original, as well as a number of laquered panels >> from the French Liner Isle de France of 1927.

Show Picture Full Size To seat our Group of 9, we had 2 adjacent tables. Service was highly attentive, with many dishes flamboyantly finished and served at the table.

Personally, I found the service just a little too ingratiating for my comfort but the ladies seemed to enjoy the attentions of the suave Maitre d'!

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Seating just 115, with its own galley and a cuisine designed by Michel Roux, the quality of the food was outstanding, although with a cover charge of $30 per person, the restaurant was surprisingly busy. Nevertheless, it is an experience highly recommended and for us it was a truly memorable evening. See Menus: Starters >> Entrees >> Desserts >> Menu Exceptionnel >> Ocean Liners Menu

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(above) The Medieval City of Tallinn, with its church spires & domes and the 19 surviving towers of its substantial city walls

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Monday 23rd June
Tallinn, Estonia
Show Map of Tallinn, Estonia
Overnight and just 160 miles back along the coast of the Gulf of Finland opposite Helsinki is the capital of Estonia, a medieval city of fairy-tale towers and spires.

Ably led by our exclusive Tour Guide John, the Group set out on our walking-tour but it was a good job we dressed for rain because by 11am it was tipping-down!

(above) John is back on duty as the Group's Tour Guide - complete with the famous green bag! (Sally's photo)

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City Gate &
"Fat Margaret"
The House of
The Brotherhood of Blackheads
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
(Sally's Photo)
Colourful alleyways
(Gerry's Photo)
The City Walls
& Towers Park

Nevertheless, the group spirit was not to be daunted and after finding a timely coffee-stop refuge in a small hotel bar, we even managed the 160 steps to the top of the walls and the viewing terrace. See the View in the Rain! >>
But in spite of the rain, I think our group appreciated the picturesque fascination of Tallinn, with its winding streets and colourful alleyways.
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(right) Alongside the jetty, Royal Princess and Constellation. That last walk along the jetty in driving rain left us all drenched!
See more photos of Tallinn here >>
Tuesday 24th June
A Day at Sea
Many passengers slept-in this morning, so an early swim followed by breakfast were nice and quiet. A relaxing day reading, dance lessons with Stella (Meringue, which I hate but Stella loved!), afternoon talk and pre-dinner cabaret show. And of course, my regular 5pm date in the Martini Bar!
Show Picture Full Size What with all the Martinis, and free canapes being delivered daily by our exceptional stewardess Aida, we were all by now quite mellow, so we got together for some official photos with a bit of a difference. Show Picture Full Size

Celebrity Specials in the Restaurant
A couple of nights ago, I made an innocent remark to the Maitre d' about our previous 2 cruises aboard Celebrity ships when I had really enjoyed a starter called "Montrachet Cheese & Potato Gratin". The menus have since changed and this doesn't feature any more. However, tonight the Maitre d' had organised it (well, 4 of them actually!) as a "Special", as well as coffee ice-cream for dessert, requested by Lesley! The recipe wasn't quite as good as before but it was still very nice and a particularly nice gesture.

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Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th June
2 Days in Copenhagen, Denmark
Show Map of the Copenhagen Area
The open-top sightseeing bus stops on the quay close to the ship, and an all-day ticket gives you "hop-on, hop-off" freedom, so it's an ideal and economical way of getting into the city and seeing some of the sights at the same time.
(left) Constellation ties-up alongside Langelinie, the main cruise terminal (Dad's photo)

The city's most famous landmark The Little Mermaid is just a short walk from the ship terminal. It depicts the tragic sea-maiden from Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale and since 1913 this tiny sculpture has drawn the tourists. However, it has suffered from vandals and thieves many times over the years and the present sculpture is a copy of the original.

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The Little Mermaid
(Sally's photo)
The Gefion Fountain
(by Anders Bundgaard)
Our Saviour's Church Christianshavn Rosenborg Palace

The Gefion Fountain was commissioned for the 50th Anniversay of the Carlsberg Brewery but it took 11 years to complete and was inaugurated in 1908. The mythological goddess turned her sons into bulls to pull Zealand away from Sweden. Recently refurbished, it was re-inaugurated in 2004.

At City Hall Square, we took the bus to Christianshaven, once the Bohemian Quarter but now becoming quite trendy. It was here in 1971 that a group of rebellious hippies and dropouts took over the empty barracks and declared The Independent Free State of Christiania; it still has official recognition (of sorts) today. But we came to see Our Saviour's Church with its unusual steeple. The others were all prepared to watch me climb its external staircase (!) until we discovered that the church was undergoing renovations and was closed. It was only when we got back to the ship that someone told us that the tower was still open and I could have done it - what a shame!

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Kongens Nytorv
(City Hall Square)
Asiatisk Plads
(today a conference centre
& bicycle park)
Shops & cafes line colourful
View from the Marina
(close to The Little Mermaid)

In the afternoon, John, Dad & I took the bus back into town to do some more sightseeing while the others instead took the organised tour from the ship - primarily for its ultimate destination....

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(Where blue ponchos are the Season's "must have" fashion statement!) As if the Martinis on board were not enough, the temperature at the Ice Bar was maintained at -5deg and the Vodka was served in glasses of solid ice!
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(left) Stella, Sally, Peter, Lesley & Andrew (by Gerry) (right) Lesley considers if an Orange one might have been weaker! (by Sally)

Constellation's 5-yrly Marine Evacuation System Inspection
That evening during Dinner, the ship moved away from the quay, turned-around in the harbour and came back alongside facing the other way. It was all part of the ship's 5-yearly Marine Evacuation System Inspection of lifeboats and inflatables and they were obviously taking advantage of having 2 days in one place to do it without causing any inconvenience. We missed most of the "action" during the day but Dad managed to get this shot, showing some of the huge inflatables See Dad's Photo here >>

Some other cruise ships during our stay:-
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Silver Wind
(Silverseas - 16,927 grt)
Azamara Journey
(Celebrity-Azamara - 30,277 grt)
(Fred Olsen - 28,388 grt)
Queen Victoria
(Cunard Line - 90,049 grt)

Thursday 26th June
Copenhagen - Day 2 & "One of those days"!

For some reason, Dad put his clock back last night and didn't get up until the rest of us had gone ashore! "Daft s**", said Andrew! Ironically though, Dad didn't miss much because with the arrival of Cunard's liner Queen Victoria along the quay, our second day got off to a bad start....

The operators of the Open-top Sightseeing Bus need to get their act together!
The sightseeing bus wasn't supposed to pick passengers up at that end of the quay but by the time it got to the main stop, it was already full. Tempers flared when the second bus, also nearly full, stopped short and allowed people from the back of the queue to board! The bus driver was useless. By this time, we had wasted 40 minutes and as the weather turned to showers, most of the others gave up and went their own ways. In the anarchy that followed the arrival of the next bus 30 minutes later, John & I joined a mass "sit-in" and got on! Because of the delay, our bus arrived at City Hall Square 2 minutes after the buses for the other tours had already left, so as the one we wanted wouldn't be along for another hour, we gave up and came back to the ship!

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Queen Victoria "Dannebrog" (1931)
(Danish Royal Family Yacht)
The Amelienborg Palace
(The Danish Royal Family Palace)
& Frederiks Kirke

As it happened, I think everyone enjoyed this enforced change of pace and the chance to quietly amble along the Promenade or explore the adjacent Kastellet (Citadel). Gerry's Photo >> We sailed quietly at 4pm, with no ship's whistle or ceremony. I was on deck reading & dozing and nearly missed it!
(far right) Slipping out past Queen Victoria, near-sister to the Arcadia we travelled on last year.
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RMS Queen Victoria
...was named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in Southampton in December 2007, in a ceremony akin to a Hollywood Spectacular, led by veteran actor Sir Derek Jocobi playing Jules Verne's globetrotting character, Phileas Fogg. Those who consider the ship's Royal patron to be an "unsuitable" choice took some delight in the fact that, at the critical moment, the Champagne bottle wouldn't break; they will tell you that this will prove to be a "bad omen"!
Show Picture Full Size In January 2008, Queen Victoria made her maiden crossing of the Atlantic to New York in tandem with her 40-year-old sister, Queen Elizabeth 2 which retires this year to Dubai! The weather on the crossing was bright and clear but rough; this fabulous photograph of Queen Victoria, taken from QE2, was posted on the Internet!

Formal Night & the "Farewell Dinner"
That evening at Dinner, the staff went through the traditional routine of putting on the "Parade of the Baked Alaska" amidst loud music and much cheering from passengers. Spontaneous it was not but the staff actually seem to enjoy receiving this encouraged adulation; and let's face it, they do deserve it! Open the Farewell Dinner Menu right >> Open Farewell Dinner Menu

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Our Group Photo
On the Last Formal Night
Gede & Eri
Waiters Parade
Gede & Lesley
"Ooh! Is that all for me?"
"Another case of the Beringer, sir?"

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Friday 27th June
The Last Day at Sea
Review Voyage Map
Dad & I took advantage of one more treat for members of the Celebrity "Captain's Club" for past passengers; a Backstage Tour in the Celebrity Theatre, led by 2 of the dancers. As well as travelling on the stage lift, we were able to see all the costumes and changing rooms etc. The Celebrity Theatre >> See also A "Big Finish" >>
(left) Going Down! Trying out the stage lift during the exclusive Backstage Tour

Lesley's "Un-Birthday" Party
Although it wasn't Lesley's Birthday until the following week, after doing all our packing, we were all in the mood for a party on our last night aboard, so we gathered in Peter & Lesley's suite for Champagne and hors d'oevres. And thanks to the lovely Aida, we had arranged a cake too!
Pictures by Sally & Gerry:-
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"Captain" Mark The Captain's Quiz
Awarding the Prizes
and her
"Un-Birthday" Cake
The magic potion! My Father!
Not bad for 84!
Everyone was quite competitive for my "Captain's Quiz" but Sally was most insistent that we had to have prizes! So, prizes there were! For some reason, quite a few were flavoured vodkas - and it would have been such a waste not to drink them all!
And the scores? John & Peter 20/26; Dad & Gerry 12.5/26; Sally & Stella 12/26; Andrew & Lesley 11/26. Andrew was mortified!

Well done Celebrity Cruises! Here's to the next one! See Millennium 2009 >>

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 3,204 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 135,999 n miles

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