by Bill Grier
December 5, 2005
Our review is organized according to “the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY”. FYI: we are in our early 50s and we’re frequent cruisers. Please remember this is IMHO : ) Hope this helps.
-Itinerary. Great itinerary with fun/interesting stops. The partial transit of the Canal was interesting. Costa Rica was the best stop (we zip-lined with Charlie Soto tours), followed closely by the incredible scuba diving in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Cozumel was still beat up but appeared to be recovering nicely. Had a fantastic relaxing beach day at Doctor’s Cave Beach in MoBay Jamaica. One problem: not enough time in Costa Maya. Overall a great 12-night schedule. Note: if you like to arrange your own shore excursions and want some info on tour guides, dive shops, etc, at these locs just let me know.
-Crew/service. Truly excellent. Cabin service and dining room service were truly excellent. You will feel pampered. Cruise director and staff were very good. I think Celebrity excels in this area.
-Food. Excellent. The evening dinners in the dining room were superb. Lots of options every night. Lots of quality dinners: prime rib, lobster, lamb, veal, filet mignon, etc. Appetizers and desserts were mostly outstanding. Lunch buffets were generally good; lots of options, tasty, hot food. Buffet breakfasts were good; try the pancake/waffle grill. Buffet lines weren’t too long. Lunches and breakfasts were also good in the dining room. Pizza/pasta grill was also good, not great. Sushi bar was really excellent.
-Entertainment. My wife is a musician and I depend on her for this evaluation. Entertainment was very good, including the singers/dancers, the classical musical group, and the miscellaneous stage shows.
-Cabins. Clean, well-maintained, spacious. (and we carry a lot of stuff including lots of scuba gear!)
-Tendering operations: an embarrassment to this cruise line and this ship’s officers. Tendering at Cozumel was bad, but at Georgetown it was unbelievably bad, even though winds and swell were only moderate. Galaxy passengers waited in long lines in disgust while other ships didn’t. Galaxy’s tenders “piled up” at one end instead of spacing. Tender crews were incompetent; lines prematurely untied, or were accidentally left tied when boats attempted to depart. The officers/sailors working the tender boats BADLY need training. (I’ve owned a good-sized sailboat for years, I watch this closely, and I’m qualified to make this observation.)
-Disembarkation: The Port of Galveston is ill-equipped to handle the arrival of three ships, especially if it’s raining. People waited hours to get taxis, many flights were missed, brawls broke out. Many people were cold, soaked and angry. We luckily drove to the port and avoided most of this. (Note: we’ve cruise out of Galveston before and not had this problem before.)
-Ship’s décor. This is not usually an item I bother to comment on, but this ship’s décor was really ugly. Ship’s artwork was bad, even offensive (especially the framed pictures of the men in drag….give me a break, isn’t this suppose to be a family vacation???) There was very nothing about this ship’s décor that was nautical. Plain and boring; worst ship’s décor in 18 cruises.
I rate this cruise as a good value with the following qualifiers:
1.It’s a good deal if you get an inside cabin for less than $1000; more than that and I do NOT recommend it.
2.Hopefully the tendering will improve in Cozumel and Georgetown; otherwise I wouldn’t take this cruise again.
3.Try to arrive on days with fewer than 3 arriving ships. Drive yourself if possible.
Feel free to email questions to Bill Grier at email@example.com