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Debbie Kupperberg

Age: 42

Occupation:freelance writer/mom

Number of Cruises: 11

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Galaxy

Sailing Date: August 9th, 2002

Itinerary: Ultimate Caribbean

Just got back from this 10-day cruise from Baltimore. The ports of call were Key West, Cozumel, Belize, Coco Cay and Nassau.

Let me just say that, despite the negatives, cruising is the greatest joy in life, and my family (parents, husband and 2 children) enjoyed ourselves very much.

I'll divide my review into pros and cons:

PROS:

The ship is still beautiful, though it is 6 years old. I had most recently been on Carnival where I had been exposed to glitz, glitz and more glitz -- so the toned-down decor was a welcome relief.

The staff goes out of its way to please you. Three instances (two involving ice cream): 1) My 4-year-old had poked a hole in her ice cream cone with her thumb and the ice cream was dripping all over the place. Matt the youth counselor happened to be walking by and went to the Oasis Cafe to get extra cones (and this is not even his job!). 2) During lunch in the Orion Restaurant (deck 6), my children requested ice cream in cones (not on the menu), so Simon, the Asst. Maitre d' went all the way to the Oasis Cafe on deck 11 to get them! 3) We liked the shampoo in the cabin so much we asked the room steward, Vaz, the name of it, and instead, he filled an entire water bottle with it and gave it to us to take home.

The menu is outstanding! There is not one bad choice!

The children's menu is also outstanding because, rather than the usual mac 'n' cheese and hot dogs, it offers selections from the regular menu, like steak, shrimp cocktail and pork chops. Plus, our super busboy, Nuri, brought the girls chocolate milk every time they sat down, with constant refills.

The shower is great. It is big and the water temperature is perfect!

The cabin has loads of closet and storage space!

The production singers and dancers try hard, although the entertainment on this ship is not the best. In my opinion, the best entertainment was provided by the little "chamber quartet" that would play during dinner in the Orion Restaurant. In addition to pop and classical music, they played every ethnic song you can think of.

The kids' camp is great.

The Chinese acrobats are very entertaining.

THE CONS:

Embarkation: This was horrible!!! We arrived at the pier at 11:30 thinking we would be the first ones on. When we heard the ship was getting in at 1 because of a storm, we went to see the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. We returned at 1:30 to find that the ship was not ready for us yet. We stood in 90-degree heat in the parking lot for an hour. The port-a-potty lines were a half an hour long. Our bags were loaded into shipping containers and brought to the terminal, but we still had to stand in the parking lot with no shade at all! Celebrity did not provide water. When buses finally arrived it was a free-for-all to get on. Once at the terminal, we found out that the ship hadn't yet cleared so we sat around the hot, crowded terminal for several more hours and were boarded by numbers. Again, no drinks were provided by Celebrity. If you wanted a snack, you had to use the vending machines or buy a hot dog. We finally got on the ship at 5:30, and the ship left the pier at 9 PM. We had late seating and hadn't eaten since breakfast -- except for our kids' cheese doodles, pretzel sticks and juice boxes. The ship tried to make it up to us with a special cocktail party the last formal night, but many did not think it was adequate compensation.

The pool -- first of all, the pools are too deep! In the shallowest pool, the minimum depth is 4'3", but the steps are at the 4'11" end, making it bad for both children and folks like me who can't swim.

There is a kiddie pool outside the kids' Fun Factory, but it is only open when camp is open, which doesn't make sense because the camp counselors don't even supervise it.. So when camp is over at 5, they throw you out.

Why do they clean the bathrooms when the Orion Restaurant is open for mealtimes?

The Captain's Club costs $35 to join. Other cruise lines let repeat cruisers join for free.

The buffet should offer a greater variety. You turn the corner and they're offering the same food again.

The classical pianist, Garin Bader, also performs magic. He should stick to music. The magic show is pretty awful. If your entertainment includes Dana Tison, the juggler, stay for the show. He is the best entertainer there.

The talent show should offer at least a certificate for participants. In the past, I've performed in cruise talent shows and got champagne, trophies, medals and certificates. This time I got nothing!

Love and cruises,

Debbie

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