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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

Celebrity Cruises' GALAXY
Sailing: August 22-September 3, 2003

by Cynethia Sheppard

How did I end up on Celebrity’s Galaxy for ten days? Well, this was my first cruise and I knew nothing about selecting the best cruise line, ship, stateroom, etc. I live in the Baltimore area and found out this ship sails from here, so that is how I ended up on the Galaxy. My time on the Galaxy was simply incredible. I will review each part of the cruise as broken down below.

I did not know where to start or end with packing. I checked the boards and received lots of info from a previous cruiser and I must say I packed almost perfectly. I did not have too much but wanted one or two more items. I even did well with the shoes, which is where I tend to over do it. My husband also did pretty well with his packing. I think he wished he had brought a couple more undershirts. I felt like I needed just another t-shirt/polo shirt or two. All the tops I brought were rather dressy because I only wanted to change my shorts for dinner on casual nights. I did some grungy shore excursions and my old polo shirts would have been better to wear.

I was dreading this process because of all I had read on the boards. Not sure if I can give a good rating on this because I was starting my cruise and no wait would be too long. Seriously though, it was not too bad and a plus was the 20-minute drive or so to the port. Approximately one and a half hours after arriving and paying our $70 to park our vehicle, we were in our rooms. For not being Captain's Club members or having a suite this was not too bad. We arrived at the port around 2:45pm. The longest parts were waiting in our vehicle to unload our luggage into one of the containers prior to parking and then waiting in the terminal for our number to be called (which was 20-30 min). All else was fairly quick. Having our documents filled out beforehand helped that process to be quick. Also, it is a good idea to print out the forms you fill out online because the computers were down when we went through and having that print out saved us some time. If you book excursions online make sure you print out that info as well. We set sail at 6:15pm.

I guess when we got on the ship we must have been behind a crowd of people and the attendants that show you to your room must have thought my husband and I were with the people ahead of us, so we did not have anyone show us to our room. It was easy to find though. We were only one floor down in a category 7 stateroom, 4074. Our room was midship with a nice ocean view. Here we witnessed not one, not two, but several late arrivals. I really don’t know why they did not get left because it was after 6pm when I saw a women running for the ship with a blanket and pillow in hand. They had to use the gangway where the tenders came during the cruise because the other one had been removed for departure. Our room was nice and cozy with sufficient space for the two of us. Had our kids come with us, I think the room would have been too small. The room was pretty clean, although I felt I had to do a little of my own cleaning (toilet) to be more comfortable. I did not feel the facilities were unclean; cleaning the toilet is just something I do whenever I stay at any public place. I guess I must know the seat has been thoroughly cleaned if I am going to put my rear end on it. Our stateroom attendant and his assistant did a very good job throughout the cruise with keeping our room clean and providing us with what we needed. He was put to the test as soon as we got to our rooms because the beds were still separated and we had requested them to be together beforehand. We called and he was there in a matter of minutes to take care of the beds. The thing we enjoyed most in our room was being able to watch the free movies that were playing throughout the cruise on our television. We had no major problems with our room or it’s amenities.

The ship was also very clean. Someone was always cleaning it seemed. The décor on the ship was interesting, but I kind of liked it. It was different and I like things that are visually unique. Our sail was smooth the entire cruise. I can only remember two or three times it seemed slightly rough, but it lasted no more than 30 minutes. On most days, I enjoyed the sky and promenade deck to relax and take my afternoon nap. The promenade deck provided shade with the lifeboats hanging above. I could also watch people play shuffleboard. My husband took most of his naps in the room. We also enjoyed just going up to one of the top decks and just looking out at the sea, feeling the breeze. The ship was HUGE. On the last day we still did not navigate ourselves directly to some places we wanted to go. Two places I thought were really cool to hang out were the Savoy and Rendez-Vous Square lounges. We only hung out there briefly, but I wish I had spent a little more time there.

The rack of lamb was my favorite dish; glad we had it two nights. All other meals were very good to excellent. Please keep in mind I am not a food critic and am only judging by whether I thought the meal could have been better for me. I only remember one time I thought it could have been better, but still it was very good. I believe my husband felt the same, although he was not as crazy about the lobster as I was. Actually, I ate his. The lamb and the pork tenderloins were his favorites. The desserts were not that impressive to me. They were a little too fancy. Just give me some good old cobbler or sweet potato pie to excite me for dessert. I did manage to like one or two of them very well though. I am not a chocoholic but my husband enjoys chocolate and loved the desserts that were made of or included chocolate. He said the chocolate was real chocolate!! We ate at the Oasis café for breakfast and lunch each day and the food there was better than average.!

The pizza from the grill was pretty good and the pasta was outstanding; it was very cheesy. The sushi was pretty good, but served cold. I like mine to be a little warm. Overall I would give the food a grade of A.

We found the shows in the Celebrity Theater to be entertaining. We went to most of them. The Celebrity dancers/singers are really good singers but the dancing was not crisp or all in step. But for entertainment on a cruise, it was good. The juggling act was corny at times but very entertaining. The comedian (Bennie Long) was funny and Jeff Harnar, the singing entertainment had a very nice voice. It was easy to listen to him. Overall, the theater entertainment was good.

The movie theater was nice in size, but the screen did not complement the size of the room. The sound system also sucked. I may be biased when speaking about these things being that my background is in visual media. I do think everyone thought the screen was too small; it was complemented with two more monitors toward the back of the room. Not everyone may have realized the sound was not proper for that room or maybe some did since home theater systems definitely sound better. None of these things, however, stopped us from watching three movies, one really long one during our voyage.

We did not really participate in any of the other activities but it seemed like everyone was having fun when we reviewed a tape of our cruise the last night. We did see the Newly Wed, not so Newly Wed game and that was a lot of fun to watch.

Ports/Shore Excursions:
First stop was Key West, FL. I had never been to Key West so I wanted to see what it was like. Here we did the extended Conch train tour, which allowed us the see the city, shipwreck museum and the aquarium. This was a nice tour but could have been better had we not gotten soaked by the 20-minute downpour. After the one-hour train tour we went back to the ship to change into dry clothes then headed to the museum & aquarium. The museum was cool and included a live presentation and a video. We learned lots about pirates and shipwrecks off the coast of Key West. The aquarium was pretty basic and since I am from Baltimore where there is a national aquarium it would have taken something spectacular to impress me over that. I noticed the ticket price of the aquarium while there. Had I paid that price separately, I would have been disappointed. Key West is a very nice place that I have now visited, but let’s face it; this is still the US & not much to get excited about when you are going to such places as Belize.

Next stop, Cozumel, Mexico. I loved the excursion we did in this port--the Catch the Wave Snorkel Safari and BOND Adventure. The glass bottom boat and an authentic Mexican lunch were included with this as well. The lunch was pretty good too. Snorkeling allowed us to see many exotic fish and the BOND was awesome--the best part of the trip for me. The BOND is like an underwater moped. This was an excellent excursion. The clear water and fish made this a fantastic place to snorkel or do any underwater activity. After our excursion we walked around the town for a short while. This was your typical scene with shops and people egging you to buy from them. The looks of the town were not that great, but there was so much more to see here that one visit would not allow. This port is one among my two favorites. I would love to visit there again.

Next stop was Belize City, Belize. This was a port we had to tender to the mainland. Although the city is not really developed we enjoyed our time here. We did the Cave Tubing/Jungle Walk excursion. The ride to the resort was longer than the brochure stated, but we got to see a lot of the area. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and gave us plenty of info about the city. The tubing was very relaxing with the river flowing in and out of the caves-–very cool. The meal provided was tasty as well. We did a little shopping in the small area of shops right where the tenders port. The area past these shops was very rural with not much to do or see. Since the area is not that developed this is one of the ports that you must do an excursion to enjoy the city. There were so many different interesting tours you could take. I heard nothing but good things from people that did a different excursion than we did. With all good comments I heard about other tours this port warrants a few more visits that I would be glad to make.

Next stop Coco Cay, Bahamas. This is Royal Caribbean’s private island. We had to take a short tender to the island. This was a long process. First we had to wait an hour before we could disembark or get tickets to disembark. This was because the crew had to get all the equipment, food, etc off the ship for the beach party that was thrown on the island. I noticed there were four tenders for the first few runs, but I guess after all the crew made its way to the island the amount of time it took the rest of us did not matter as much. I only saw two tenders making trips back and forth after the first couple of runs. At this port, more than half the people on the cruise went ashore. More tenders were definitely needed. Once we finally made it to the island we immediately had lunch. This was not the best experience. The flies were all over some of the food and the rest of the food did not taste good. Should have taken a hint from the flies. 

After the bad lunch it was time for our excursion. Here we went parasailing and snorkeling. The parasailing was awesome and allowed us to see the whole island from a bird’s eye view. The island is very small (1 mile x 1/4 mile). Next, we went snorkeling. We had not planned to snorkel, but anything you wanted to do was available at a booth or shack on this island, so we went for it. I actually enjoyed the snorkeling, but my husband quit soon after he saw all the jellyfish. We heard jellyfish stung tons of people who ventured into the water. Neither my husband nor I was stung. I did not venture out as far as the people that were stung, although I did see a few jellyfish. My husband went out further than I did and he was practically swimming at Olympic speeds to get away from what he called an approaching attack of jellyfish. He called it quits after that. Soon after, I wrapped up my snorkeling and we lined up to head back to the ship. I must also mention that it was quite hot here, but I love hot weather. Hot weather does not bother me as much as it may other people. Despite all of the negatives of this port it is the second of my two favorites. I guess I just found this to be a place you could truly relax by the sea or join in on some activities if you like. No one was hounding you to buy their products, although there were shops on this island. I did hear the hair braiders calling out to people a few times though. There were hammocks and lounge chairs everywhere along the sea. I saw several people under the coconut trees taking a snooze. The atmosphere of this just being a plain island was refreshing for me.

Last stop Nassau, Bahamas. This was another port I enjoyed. Here we did the Sea & See tour. Both parts of the tour were great, but I enjoyed the sea portion of it better. On this part of the tour we boarded a semi-submersible boat that allowed us to sit underwater about ten feet without ever getting wet. The glass bottom boat has nothing on this. We saw all kinds of coral and fish, including a shark! The tour guide gave us many facts about that portion of the sea and its inhabitants. The land part of the tour took us sightseeing over a portion of Nassau. We saw plenty of historical places and learned a lot about the city from our driver/tour guide. We also stopped at some of the places and walked around. We ended our time at Nassau with shopping and just strolling around seeing more of the sites. Nassau was a lot different than what I thought it would be. It was nicer and cleaner than what I expected. Overall, my time here was enjoyable. I would like to visit here again to see Paradise Island and the Atlantis. Our tour did not take us to that part of the island.

Misc. Facilities/Services:

Internet – we used the computers a few times during our voyage. They were not in high demand. I thought the cost was a little pricey at 50 cents per minute. I tried to do my business as fast as possible, but the connection speed was on the slow side. If you use this luxury more than once try to use the same computer, as it has been to the sites you are trying to access, which aids in connecting faster.

Pool/Spa/Gym - From the looks of it everyone was having fun in the pools. However, we did not get in any of the pools or hot tubs. The only pool I used was the Spa’s Thallosotherapy Pool or T-pool, which is really, really soothing to your body. I also indulged in a facial and massage, which were quite soothing as well. If you get a facial be prepared to buy or refuse when they try to sell you their products. The Aqua Spa services I used were well worth it, especially since I did one of the specials they were offering.

I went to aerobics class once. It was a typical class but having it offered is the thing. I did not use any of the equipment in the gym, but my husband did a few times. He used the treadmill or stationary bike. The stair steppers and other equipment were not used as much as the treadmills, which I guess is why there was a sign up for the treadmills. The gym is on the smaller side but not too small. It was a comfortable place to work out if you can talk yourself into it more than once, as I did not.

Disembarkation was a little disorganized, but not because of Celebrity. Everyone had specific appointments for customs but people were in line 40 minutes or so before their scheduled time. Once the assistant cruise director realized this was the problem, they had the people with the later times step aside and let the current time people through. Once we had that taken care of we sat in the theatre for one hour and 15 minutes before our color/number was called. We were in the third group of colors. I must say that if you live in the Baltimore metropolitan area you will probably be the last to disembark, as we originally were. We had a situation arise concerning our kids so I asked to be moved up so we could get off earlier and we were told we could be offered only as high as Captain's Club. That was fine with me, which moved us from the last (12th set of colors or so) to the third set. That’s good customer service in my book; they really did not have to do that. We saw the Customs guy a little after 10am and were in our vehicle driving away, tearfully, by 12 noon.

General Comments

Bad points:

  • The kids roughly ages 9-12, were out of control in the later evening hours. Running through the ship, playing on the elevators and just plain being loud. I did not have any problems with them during the day.
  • The food and flies in Coco Cay and the long tender wait.

Good points:

  • Cell phone service worked at all the ports I tried to make a call, albeit analog. Belize is the only port I did not try to make a call. Some may not see this as a good point, but I had young ones staying with granny that I needed to stay in touch with. I wouldn’t dare think about using the phone on my vacation for any other purpose.
  • The service we received from our waiter and assistant waitress (Darko and Billyana) was excellent. They learned our eating tendencies very quickly and did not have to ask us about anything more than once.
  • The friends we met at the table next to us. We had a table just for two but very close to the next table.
  • A couple we met at the Baltimore terminal that we chatted with throughout the cruise and plan to stay in touch with.
  • The BAG of chocolates our stateroom attendant gave us our last night.
  • Being able to look at the sky and see the stars. Being a southern girl that now lives in the city, I really miss that.
  • Just being away on a fabulous cruise. I would do this cruise again tomorrow if I could. I only wish I could.

Here is a link to view some photos of the cruise:

Happy Cruisin’

C. Sheppard

Photo Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

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