by Roberto Falchetti
January 16, 2004
We live in South America, specifically in Uruguay. My wife and I decided to take a cruise in the Southern Caribbean region. This was our third cruise (the first in the Mediterranean Sea, the second in the Eastern Caribbean). We chose Celebrity because the itinerary was good for us, so the price and the reputation of the company. Readers reviews in cruisemates.com were also very helpful.
After spending some days in Miami, we went to Puerto Rico to board the Galaxy . We declined the offer of company transportation and took a taxi instead. We think it was a good decision: after we got our suitcases in the airport baggage claim, we were in the port only ten minutes after, and paying less.
We arrived to the port at 3 P.M with plenty of time, because departure time was 11 P.M. Is is a good thing to be there early. Embarkation was swift. The man who took care of us was not very expert in the subject (new employee I think), but another employee help him, and after embarkation began, it took only another 15 minutes to be in our room.
By first time in our brief cruises history, we chose a room with balcony. Believe me, it is more expensive, but it is every dollar worth.
The room itself was very good and clean, and had everything that Celebrity website said. One of our suitcases arrived at once, the other was delayed, and two hours later it appeared...broken in the handle. Two days after, during the trip, we made the request, and was repaired on board, at no cost.
The lady in charge of housekeeping was a very nice and efficient Philippinne. Our room was always clean, with water, ice and everything we needed or asked for. We called to room service only once, and came in ten minutes. One day we ordered breakfast in the room, and the order was fully and properly done.
The cruise was very active, because after leaving Puerto Rico we visited St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Isla Margarita and Aruba. That is, four islands, and only one and a half days at sea. We are not sure we visited the ship completely, because our schedule was intense (we wanted to visit the capital city of every island, make the most interesting tour, and go to the beach. We did everything , but sometimes we were running!!).
The weather was wonderful: 7 days of sun.
In the restaurants we were (we couldn´t visit them all), the food was very good. Dinner menu in the main restaurant was outstanding, and our table service was also wonderful, because of the waiter, a Bulgarian guy called Stan. He was nice, discreet, efficient, and did everything, including the job of the bus boy, who seldom was seen. The sommelier, a Turkish guy, was also attentive and polite.
Concerning the late buffet, we went only to the last night one, and it was disappointing. Only ice carvings were wonderful, but food was barely standard.
Talking about different performances (one outstanding and one poor), I must say something about tips policy. Tip is a gif a patron gives to an employee who has performed his duty exceeding normal and average expectations. By that reason, we found absurd the tips policy of the cruise lines (I think it is standard), to "suggest" a "fix" tipping per day and per employee, giving you a form you may sign so the tips are charged to your bill. This is not a tip, it is a tax.
Many people in the cruise didn´t fill that tax form, and instead used the envelopes distributed in the rooms the last night of the trip, giving money to those who deserved: this is really a tip. We did the same, and gave tips (some of them higher that the ones "suggested" but only to the ones who had performed over average).
The shows were not exceptional, but if you want to see an exceptional show, you must go to Las Vegas or Broadway and pay over 100 bucks for each ticket. They were not bad, and in particular one British showman who played violin, guitar, mandoline and armonica, made jokes and sang (very well) was outstanding.
We had read horror stories about disembark, and we had to take a plane from Puerto Rico to Miami, and then catch another plane to our country. As the ship arrived to Puerto Rico at 7.00 A.M, we booked a flight for 2. P.M, just not to be in a hurry. And we weren´t . Disembark was very well organized. We had to be in our sector meeting point at 8.00 A.M. Passport control was swift, we took a taxi to the airport, and we were there at 9.30 A.M.
In a few words, we were very happy with Celebrity Cruises. We found the ship not so glamorous as Carnival´s, but less noisy and more upscale. As my wife and I are in the 50s. , that is precisely what we needed. There were no noises at night, and we didn´t find or hear any unruly child or adult .
If we decide to make another cruise , we will probably consider to repeat Celebrity, if the itinerary is the one we want.