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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Celebrity Cruise Line

MV Galaxy

Your Rating:Four Stars
Reviewed by: Tom Burke
# previous cruises: 3
Date of Trip: June 22, 2007
Itinerary: Mediterranean

An enjoyable cruise on a familiar ship - we felt like old hands - to spectacular destinations.

Public Areas
We cruised on Galaxy last year, so we were familiar with the ship. I'm pleased to say that she's obviously being looked-after: the results of the on-going refurbishment work (carpets, general painting, etc) are clearly visible, and she looks in better condition cosmetically than last year. With one sad exception, however: the windows in the Stratosphere Lounge, the far-famed Portals of Obscurity, have not been replaced and in fact look worse than a year ago. Not so good, that one. But that's a small thing and in fact we were hardly ever in the Stratosphere Lounge thereafter.

Bars: This year we mainly used the Martini Bar during the evenings (I don't think we really found it last year), and we enjoyed it very much. Again, service was excellent; we especially remember a young woman from Latvia who shook a mean Martini. We also found that, thanks to the current #/$ exchange rate, drinks were very reasonably priced, so my wife embarked on a crash 'Martini Familiarisation' course, which she greatly enjoyed! Of course I had to keep her company.... We got into the habit of concluding our evening with a coffee at Cova Cafe, and we enjoyed the company of Maria from Croatia, one of the waitresses there.

At various times during the cruise I had a swim in the main pool, and was able to check the condition of the poolside area. Everything seemed fine to me, and I can report that the hot tubs were working fully. I did not see any missing tiles in the pool area. On several days the sliding roof of the magradome over the Oasis pool was part-retracted, so that mechanism is obviously working (it was jammed last year). And I saw quite a bit of steady maintenance taking place while we were on board. I occasionally saw floor carpet being replaced in cabins, and also saw several crew members painting the inside steel (below the handrails) on deck 12 or 13. And I also saw a number of 'wet paint' / 'wet varnish' notices on the open decks and on the handrails in a number of places.

So Galaxy is being taken care of.

Food and Service
The buffets were excellent, as far as we used them. We don't have fancy or heavy breakfasts so what was available was overkill for our needs, but people seemed to be enjoying the choice, at both breakfast & lunchtime. We didn't get round to eating in the Orion restaurant other than at dinner time, so I can't report what breakfast & lunche were like in there. The service in the buffet area was excellent. And the afternoon serveries, the pizza & burger bars, also provided excellent food & service.

Unfortunately, things slipped a bit compared with last year in the Orion restaurant at dinner. Food was generally very good, but there were a few entrees that fell short of the expected standard - my wife had some tough pork one night, and the pasta dishes were a bit unimaginative.

Although I didn't have it, the general view of the lobster was 'nothing special'. That said, I had some very good beef dishes, and some excellent pork medallions. Several of the appetisers were very good also. The other slight problem was that our waiting staff - indeed, all the waiting staff - were very busy during second sitting. We learned that in fact there were 1200 diners at second sitting and only 800 at first, so they simply had 50% more work to get through for second sitting, and on occasions it showed.

Let me finish this section on a high note. Our sommelier was excellent. One of our fellow diners was a wine connoisseur who also (thanks to continuing success in the casino) had the funds to indulge his tastes, and the sommelier was kept on his toes looking after our companion. But the sommelier didn' forget us, and even though we were definitely drinking from the budget end of the wine list he made it feel special and several times made very positive recommendations. I have very fond memories of an excellent Wente vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon that he suggested over that evening's recommended red.

We didn't use the casual dining or the sushi bar.

We had a category 5 -Ocean View - cabin on deck 8, approximately midships. This was perfectly adequate; large enough, comfortable enough, quiet enough. We didn't spend a lot of time in the cabin - we were either ashore or somewhere on the ship.

We did experience a problem with the plumbing - our toilet (and others) was out of action for some hours. This was due to a general problem with the vacuum 'main line' on that part of Deck 8, probably itself the result of something being put down a toilet somewhere that shouldn't have been. This was disturbing at the time and caused some stress, but to be truthful I had forgotten about it until reminded so it obviously didn't make a lasting impact. What's important, I think, is that Galaxy's maintenance crew fixed it pretty promptly.

We didn't do much entertainment - we went to one show ('Music Around the World') which was well done but, to be truthful, looked a lot like one of the shows we saw last year. We enjoyed the piano singer in the Martini bar with his collection of american songs (I'd never heard 'I wish I had a pencil-thin mustache', by Jimmy Buffet, before). There was another singer/musician who regaled the passengers from the rear door of the Oasis pool area at sail-away, and there was the main pool band who were good, but who I never really sat down and listed to.

Daytime activities trod the familiar course of trivia contests + bingo. I attempted a trivia quiz on the first morning and failed miserably; crushed, I abstained thereafter! One of the prizes on the first bingo day was an upgrade to the Royal Suite for the rest of the cruise, and I gather that session got a good crowd. Other bingo sessions had prizes of $1000 and at the end of the cruise) $1500.

We chose Galaxy for a second year because of the itinerary, and we were not disappointed. It was better than the previous year - 7 ports instead of 6, and most in the Eastern Med. However, there was a heat wave during the cruise with temperatures several times exceeding 100 degrees (38 C), and this had an inevitable impact. We took to carrying the umbrella that Celebrity provided around with us, and using it as a sunshade! Also, a couple of weeks before we departed Celebrity changed the order of the itinerary, because of port congestion, especially at Santorini - we would have been one of 5 ships there on the same day. So this late change was an improvement, though I imagine that anyone who had made private arrangements must have been working hard to re-arrange.

Here are the ports & days we visited:

a) day 1 - Messina. We did a 5 hour excursion to Taormina (Taormina on your own) and this was in many ways the hardest day of all. It was during the afternoon and not only was it very hot it was also very humid. Most people had given up exploring and were simply sitting in whatever shade they could find 40 minutes before the end. But Taormina was as beautiful as ever, and the drive to and from Messina was spectacular. We learned later that those who did the Mnt Etna excursions had a good time - it was cooler up the mountain.

b) day 3 - Athens. We did an excursion to Ancient Corinth, including a cruise on the Corinth Canal. This was hot but very good and interesting. I believe that those who did Athens & the Acropolis had a very hard, hot day (which was why we didn't do that one).

c) day 4: Mykonos. A chill-out day (well, as much of one as you can have when it's 95 degrees). We were going to do the town in the morning and beach in the afternoon; in the event we went to the beach in the morning, followed by an excellent simple lunch by the beach, walked around the town a bit afterwards, had a beer in Katerina's Bar, and went back to the ship mid-afternoon. Oh, we missed the bus back from the beach - we reckon it left a couple of minutes early. So if you go to Platy Gialos on the bus, treat the bus schedules with caution.

d) day 5: Kusadasi. We did a 3 hour tour of Ancient Ephesus. This was early in the morning and it was already very hot - any tours in the afternoon would have been excruciatingly so. Ephesus was as spectacular as promised, and I remember parts of it very well, especially the library. But the heat did affect our appreciation of the site - it was hard to make yourself go and examine something, or move to a viewpoint, if it meant stepping into the sunlight. On the way back we went to a carpet shop in Kusadasi and had a seminar on Turkish carpet making. Overall, I enjoyed Kusadasi - I wish it had been cooler because I had been hoping to go back ashore that afternoon and find a beach. Too hot, though. But Kusadasi itself impressed me: well laid out, and surrounded by a well-tended and cared-for landscape. I'd like to go back.

e) day 6: Rhodes. We did another early excursion, 'Filerimos & local mezes' which gave a quick overview of some of the countryside of Rhodes including visits to several beauty spots. Then back to the ship soon after lunch. I then went back ashore and walked round Rhodes old town for an hour or so, which I greatly enjoyed. I'm going back there some day...

f) day 7: Santorini. As spectacular as ever. We went ashore at just before 9am, and were able to get onto a tender straight away. With hardly any wait for the cablecar we were in Thira very quickly, and then took a taxi to Oia where we spent the rest of the morning just wandering around, and later had lunch. Then a taxi back to Thira for a drink overlooking the caldera, and back to the ship in mid-afternoon. Another hot day but also very relaxing. Santorini and Oia especially are as spectacular as we remembered.

g) day 9: Naples. This was the only disappinting day of the cruise as regards ports. We had no excursion planned, we were going to do our own thing. In the event we got a train to Sorrento but it was very delayed (almost two hours to get there), and having decided to get the hydrofoil back to Naples (because the train schedules were obviously all over the place) found that the only suitable one left at late lunchtime. So for 6 hours away from the ship we spent just two hours in Sorrento. Part of that was caused by the fact that the ship had not been able to dock in the usual spot in front of the Stazion Maritima, but was several quays away. Celebrity did arrange a shuttle bus to the normal spot, but this meant extra queueing & delays. Not a good day.

(Days 2 & 8 were sea days.)

Who Goes
The age range this summer seemed much wider than last year (we did almost the same cruise last year, but earlier in June). This year there seem to be many more younger people, including some groups of young adults & adolescents. Also more children. The children were not a nuisance (there weren't *that* many) and in truth it was good to see some younger passengers around. I got the feeling that the children especially loved being on the ship - like a great big treehouse for them to crawl all over & explore. They were fun to watch.

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