by Nathan Rosenthal
April 15, 2002
Embarkation: We drove from Alexandria, VA to the Dundalk Marine Terminal in Baltimore arriving at approximately 11:15 am. The procedure appeared to be well-organized even though this was only the third departure from Baltimore. Attendants directed us to the luggage drop-off point, the place to park the car, and to shuttle vans which took us to the passenger terminal building. You pay for parking in advance (cash or traveler's checks). We were processed quickly and then waited to board the ship. People were still coming off the ship after 12 noon. We boarded the ship a little after 1 pm.
Our stateroom: We were in Cabin 9000 which is as far forward as you can go on Vista Deck 9 right on the fore-aft centerline. This is the highest category inside stateroom. It was larger than on our last cruise and nicely laid out. There was plenty of room for us to store our possessions. The shower was the larger than any we had on previous cruises.
The ship: "Galaxy" is one of many ships in the 60,000-80,000 GRT class in service today. Both the main dining room and the buffet restaurant are aft - an arrangement I like. Most of the public rooms are on Decks 6 and 7. There is no soaring atrium. There are two outdoor and one indoor pool on Deck 11; the Aqua Spa is also on this deck.
Restaurant: We were at a table for 8 at the early seating. Our Waiter, Boris, and Assistant, Dalibur, gave us very good service, overall. The dinner menu was not as extensive as on some of our previous cruises, but there were enough choices to satisfy me. The food was better than on our last Celebrity cruise and the portions were larger.
In addition to the above two staff members, I would like to put in a good word for Carmen, our Cocktail Waitress and Geraldine, our Sommelier. They worked very well together. I had asked Carmen to make sure she came to our table each evening so that I could order a drink. Most of the time she was there except on nights when she had to work a private party or help in one of the lounges. I also saw her in several other places on the ship and she always said hello to me and was very pleasant even if I did not choose to order a drink.
Breakfast and lunch are open seating. On one occasion our breakfast service was not good. I like to have my juice and fruit before the eggs and other hot items and it did not come out that way.
Buffet restaurant: At peak periods there were 4 serving lines available so the wait was never excessive. One of my judgment points on how crowded a ship is is the ease of finding a table in the buffet restaurant. There were plenty of tables in the Oasis Cafe itself, the Oasis Pool area immediately aft, and on the fantail (my favorite place to eat).
One problem in the Oasis Cafe was inability to get iced tea until 11:30 am (or later). Also, several of the beverage dispensers were inoperative throughout the cruise. A plus was the availability of ice cream at lunch every day.
There are no alternative restaurants on the "Galaxy". Casual dining was available in the Oasis Pool area on a reservation basis most evenings if you did not want to get dressed up or decided you wanted to eat a bit earlier or later. We did not try this.
Entertainment: We had 4 production shows during the cruise. They were about what I have come to expect on cruise ships in this class. There are areas in the Celebrity Theater that do not have good sight lines. We also had a comedian (excellent), a vocal impressionist (very good), and a male singer (average).
Ports: Ports of call were Charleston, SC; St Thomas, USVI; Phillipsburg, St Maarten; San Juan, PR; and Nassau, Bahamas. It was nice to have 5 sea days mixed in.
We only used one shore excursion and that was a catamaran sailing-snorkeling trip in St Thomas. We prefer to do our own thing in most of the ports. We were only in Nassau from 7 am until 1 pm which is not enough time to really enjoy all there is to offer.
Disembarkation: Unlike all my previous cruises, we did not have to get up at the crack of dawn in order to eat breakfast and vacate our stateroom on disembarkation day. We docked at 9:30 am but did not get off the ship until almost 1 pm! I was glad we did not have to worry about making a return flight. Once off the ship it did not take too long to retrieve our luggage and take a bus back to the parking lot although there could have been a problem if it had been raining.
Other notes and comments:
I hope that other cruise lines will realize that there are other places to sail from besides south Florida. Yes, you have to spend longer than 7 nights but many people want to do this. Ports like Baltimore will only put money into improving their passenger facilities if they can be assured of steady business.
Celebrity is to be commended for not pushing gambling. It is there if you want it.