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David Rosenberg

Age: 36

Occupation:Physician

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Galaxy

Sailing Date: March 24th, 2001

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

I'll begin by saying that this was one of the worst vacations I have taken. I may have been expecting too much from Celebrity, but I really was not. I complained to my travel agent at Vacations to Go.Com after the trip. He contacted the Key Account Manager - Midwest Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises and this is what he was told:

Please note that all past sailings with client comment's --be it good or bad have to be submitted in writing to our Passenger Relations Department, in Miami. A booking number, ship and sailing date have to be included. After review from the Passenger Relations department, they will make any offer back to the client IF they deem it. Sadly, I don't have any pull with extending offers to clients.

I will not do this as I do not have plans to travel this line again and would be disappointed with any offer to be used on an upcoming cruise, unless it was with another line. If the people from Celebrity read this post and actually give a darn, they can contact me. Anyway…

I was stupid and left several things including my Tiffany cuff links and some jewelry, cash and a checkbook in our safe when I finished the cruise. Celebrity has still not found these items and I am not surprised. This is a lesson I wish anyone reading this won't have to learn. Make sure you and everyone in the room double-checks everything before you leave. If you bring valuables, get insurance and make sure you photograph these things in your possession and make sure you have documentation of the costs before you leave for the cruise. You may want to take a picture on the cruise with those valuables in your possession. The insurance I bought only pays $1000 of 'lost luggage.'

For my write up I'll try to include examples of positive and negative experiences. You must decide how important these things are to you by trying to see how you would react in a similar situation. Check out my post on my recent trip on the Grand Princess to get a better feel for my write up.

We flew out of Dallas @ 7:30 AM. We spent the night at the Hyatt at the airport. The hotel was a standard room and bed at the airport, nothing special. The front desk person placed my parking card in the hotel machine to credit the parking for the night and the machine ate it. It did not matter as the parking lots there take a picture of your license, so there was a record of when I parked when I left. Only thing was that I had to pay for parking the night I stayed at the hotel, which was actually and should have been complimentary.

If you don't mind taking the chance of getting the last flight out of San Juan the day the cruise ends (Saturday), make your own arrangements. Celebrity said about 90% of the people cruising this trip took their air sea package. I bet it was the same for the other boats sailing out of San Juan as the airport was packed like Ellis Island. There are a limited number of seats leaving per day out of this small airport and someone has to get the last ones. Some folks paid an extra $50 when they booked initially with Celebrity to get the flights they wanted. We did not. We were unlucky enough to get the last flight out of San Juan close to 6 PM. Please note that you are off the boat by about 9 AM.) There were people at the airport from 9 AM until 6 PM Saturday after their cruise, just sitting. Some folks paid a lot of money to take their family on tours for the day instead of sitting at the airport. Think about arranging a night at a local hotel the Saturday you come back and leave Sunday when I assume the airport is less crowded (check with your TA to make sure). May I suggest the El San Juan Hotel? You can see it from the airport. I caution against the Ritz Carlton as I had stuff stolen from my bags from there on a past trip and staff there was quite unhelpful. This is not your usual 'US' Ritz and remember that whatever you do, this is still Puerto Rico. You could also do what I did and attempt to get stand-by. We found this to be impossible unless you had a priority ticket or a ton of Delta Sky Miles, because it does not work first come first serve. So we gave up on the stand-by, and by 12 PM we headed over to the El San Juan Hotel. We took a $0.25 bus ride from the airport and used the $16 we saved on a taxi for the 2-mile trip, towards lunch. (Ask one of the people waiting for the bus at the airport which one of the two 'Isle de Verde' busses you should get on and when you should get off. You get back on the same bus on the other side of the street at the bus stand where you initially got off.) Do not bring a heavy carry on as there is no where to store it at the airport and carrying it around is limiting. Trust me as I schlepped around a 50-pound bag all day. Also, be aware that the El San Juan Staff treats those visitors not staying at the hotel like dirt except if you are paying $12 for a roast beef sandwich at their patio bistro. Even then you may still feel second class, as they won't hold your carry-on at the bell stand while you eat. Anyway, it is worth the $50 you will pay for two for lunch. You quickly appreciate service head over heels above what you had experienced on your cruise on the Galaxy. There is a casino right there in the hotel.

We are 36 and 26 respectively. I'm a physician and she is an aerobics instructor. When we vacation we go mainly for the food and service. I have cruised several times including Carnival (a mistake several years ago) and Princess. She has cruised only once before, last month on Princess' Grande (see my write-up on the Princess pages). My travel agent suggested Celebrity for their reputation of excellent food and service. From everything I had read and from what my agent had told me, I was expecting a step up from Princess. I should have known better when I asked the travel agent if he had ever cruised before and the answer was, no.

My girlfriend and I were drained upon our arrival in San Juan the day of the cruise. We had gotten up at 5:30 for our 7am flight on Continental. The flight had included a free movie unlike our future return flight on Delta, which charged for the same movie. We were met outside the gate in San Juan after getting off the plane. It was a pleasant ride to the port. The bus had the ubiquitous sign asking for tips so make sure you have some change on hand if you are so inclined. Embarkation was virtually flawless without lines. We were tired, hungry and not smiling. This is when life suddenly changed for the better. However this would be short lived and the rest of our experience would be down hill from here.

We walked aboard and were personally greeted. A pleasant lady personally escorted us to our room and introduced us to the cabin. She was dressed in a black and white maid's outfit. The ship was simply decorated, elegant and reserved. Stress seemed to be dissipating.

Our room showed ware. However we were pleasantly excited to find we had been upgraded from our guaranteed inside cabin to one with a large window. As I expected, not only were we upgraded to a room with a view, but one with a problem. When the ship was moving it sounded like a clothes dryer with unbuttoned jeans inside, inside the cabin at all times. I could not get through to the operator or guest relations to let them know about this on the phone, a perpetual problem. The next day I went to guest relations and told them of the annoying but not life threatening noise. Costas, the director told me it was the waves causing the noise (and then he tried to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge). His assistant offered us another room, but we declined not looking forward to packing and unpacking again. The move was not worth the chance of getting a room with worse problems than a 'noise.' By the way, this room had been a problem for past passengers even though Celebrity seemed ignorant of this fact. For us, an inside cabin on a Caribbean cruise would have been fine as we spend little time in the room. I also prefer an inside cabin as they are free of sunlight which helps when I am trying to sleep in the mornings, until it is absolutely necessary to get up. The light wood appointments were simple and relaxing, but seemed plain as the cruise went on. Our room differed from the one on the Grand Princess as it had double the closet space giving the room a larger feel. My girlfriend said she was glad her first cruise was on the Princess, as she would have over-packed on Princess had she taken the Celebrity cruise first. I liked the Grohe brand faucets in the Galaxy's bathrooms, as they were the ones with the corded removable showerhead. They lacked the temperature control found on Princess, and from what I remember Carnival. The absence of temperature control would prove to be an annoyance in the shower as time went on. In a small shower if you turn and accidentally hit the knob the wrong way, you could burn or for that matter freeze something, if you know what I mean. There was always plenty of hot water, but my Girlfriend commented that the water often smelled and tasted bad on the Galaxy. Toiletries were nothing special, the same as other ships so bring your own soaps and shampoo. The Galaxy had full dispensers of shampoo in the shower and a lotion dispenser on the wall near the toilet like you see at a health club. Other cruises used packets of shampoo and lotion. The toilet was much less loud on the Galaxy than other ships. However it seemed to lack the 'Al Bundy' oomph and suction I have come to expect from cruise toilets. However, my girlfriend certainly felt safer when sitting on these.

The ship was small compared to the Grand. Having been on the larger ship it was a relief to come back to something more manageable. Nevertheless, in defense of the large ship, they did a great job of giving it a smaller feel. We walked around the Galaxy and began to learn the layout quickly our first day. There were many areas showing ware, particularly some of the deck chairs.

First real Problem: An hour after boarding, 1-2 PM, after only eating an airplane pseudobreakfast at 8 AM on the Celebrity arranged travel, there was no food to be found anywhere on board. I could only imagine traveling with children. We were starved and developing headaches. We were told there would be an open seating dinner and that if we wanted food it would have to be ordered as room service. So we ordered from a very limited menu and waited. The menu included three soups, four sandwiches and no burgers, three salads and chili con carne. Pizza was served during the hours of 3-7PM and 10 PM to 1 AM. They had cheeses and some cakes also. The room service menu NEVER changed. The food was OK, but my pita bread seemed stale. We got two eight-ounce glasses of iced tea with the meal. We ate our meal in the room (not set up for dining) and tried to relax a bit. You can look at 'in room dining' on the first day as a positive, particularly if you hate the first day sideshows and scrimmages at the buffets on other boats. We felt this absence of food was not an oversight but just a poor and deliberate way to increase profit margins for the line. At the beginning of a trip you try to blow these 'little' things off (like no food until dinner…) and hope for better.

We were thirsty and following lunch went out on a search of iced tea. My girlfriend is from the South, and if you know anyone from the South you will know how important iced tea is to her. I'm from Maryland originally and also like iced tea. Iced tea is something I enjoy hydrating myself with and from what I have experienced on other lines there are many more like us out there. I saw several cases of dehydration sickness and people passing out during this trip where I had not experienced this on other cruises. I attribute this to Celebrity's failure to responsibly provide adequate and accessible non-alcoholic beverages to their passengers. There was rarely iced tea to be found, but it seemed that there were always people willing to sell you a cocktail or beer. I remember water fountains near the hot tubs and saunas on the Grand, but can't remember seeing one on the Galaxy. One positive thing I did notice was that for about $4.50 a day children got unlimited soft drinks. We tried to borrow someone's child so we could also take advantage of sharing the kids drinks, but were unsuccessful. You would think people would jump at the chance to get rid of the kids? That is how thirsty people were on board.

Our bags were on board within an hour of arriving on ship and this seemed to be the standard on this boat.

My initial impression was that there were a better class of passengers overall when compared to some of my past cruises on of course Carnival, but also on the Grand. This was confirmed throughout the trip. People were more polite and relaxed aboard the Galaxy. I am sure the size of the ship had something to do with this or it could have been the alcohol or dehydration. I particularly liked the labeling around the ship. It was easy to tell what floor you were on. Not only did the Galaxy labels at the steps and elevators show you where you were on a lateral cross section of the ship from the stern to aft, but for each floor a floor plan drawing was also posted. This helped to eliminate the problem of the long walks down a hall to find you have walked to the complete opposite end of the ship when all you had to do was turn around and you were there.

The best thing about the Galaxy was the splitting of the ship into smoking and nonsmoking sides. I really appreciated this effort and most smokers seemed to abide by this separation, but smokers will be smokers… Other ships should follow this lead and I believe the whole industry should follow the lead of the airline industry. Fortunately things are heading in this direction.

I found the wait staff to be obtrusive and utterly unprofessional at most times. Example: A complaint (they told us they did not serve iced tea at breakfast) about service at breakfast was attempted to be resolved by the maitre d'i at dinner, in the middle of our meal, in front of strangers sitting with us. To my embarrassment we were interrupted by two different maitre d'is during the meal and were chased down after the meal to help point out the perpetrator of the iced tea incident. I was afraid they were going to make me take part in a line-up. I should not have let this bother me as much as it did, but it ruined the rest of that evening for me and I unfortunately, in turn, did the same for my girlfriend, as she was concerned about me.

Over the years I have become aware of people who could care less about me, in the face of being overly nice to my face. The maitre d'is were in your face at all times asking how things were going. At the beginning of the cruise I was honest. After experiencing the way they dealt with problems I quickly learned to lie and tell them what they wanted to hear. The key word is 'excellent'. I felt as if they cared less about me and my complaints then they cared about the fact that a complaint had been generated. The maitre d'is seemed fake to the point of annoyance, even more than one would expect.

Part of the problem is training. Another problem is country of origin of the staff. Some of the staffs cultures are so unlike mine that this resulted in etiquette differences that both parties felt uncomfortable from. Another problem is overcrowded butler's pantries in the dining rooms, which resulted in having a busy noisy large feel to an otherwise relatively small ship. The final problem is larger ships with their better accommodations for staff is siphoning off the better staff. I found far better service on the Grande without optional tipping (they automatically charged everyone the tips on their final bill) than I did on the Galaxy with the carat dangling approach. Believe it or not, I got better service at the airport from the airline people than I did the Galaxy people. The motto of the service people on board the Galaxy should be 'no'.

My girlfriend asked for iced tea at breakfast and was told they did not serve iced tea at breakfast. She did not like the precooked cardboard-like pancakes and when asked if they could bring her something else she said she would like a croissant. This never came. My eggs benedict consistently came overdone even in the face of mention of this problem to the maitre d'i. For those who believe I am being picky, my eggs were always perfect on the Grand, which served many more passengers. Also, for gosh sakes, if I order eggs benedict, shouldn't I expect they be cooked the way they are supposed to be cooked? Nevertheless, it was not only my eggs that did not come cooked properly. I will mention my rack of lamb, which came well done when ordered medium rare. It is against my religion to kill a piece of meat twice, especially a good piece of meat. My pork chops came well done and tough in the face of the pork industry's insistence that pork no longer needs to be cooked to shoe leather doneness. You may be saying that I should have sent back the food if it was not cooked as I had asked. I will tell you two things. First is that the cook, waiter and maitre d'i should have seen these errors prior to me noticing things were not as I requested or as they should be. The problem should have been corrected so that I would never have known there was a problem in the first place. The second thing is that sometimes it is just better not to say anything. I did not want to disturb the dinner of those strangers eating at my table and I did not want to delay the pace of the dinner consistently. You will read posts describing stories about people who sat at a table with someone who always complained. I am not that kind of person and was not going to let Celebrity make me look like one. I also did not want to continue to piss off the staff and the kitchen by complaining about them. I knew they had control of my food prior to it arriving at my table (I grew up in the restaurant business.) You may say I'm being too picky and I will tell you that this is why I did not take a Carnival cruise. I heard similar complaints to the ones I have made while schmoozing in the hot tubs on board so I imagine the problem was not just me.

On the Galaxy they have several sales pitches and pitchers at every step of the cruise. At dinner, you are immediately presented with bottled water to purchase to have with your meal. This probably explains the quality of the tap water on board? This pathetic ploy to increase profit margins disgusts me and this sort of ridiculousness did not occur on our Princess cruise. Don't feel uncomfortable or cheap by not getting the bottled water.

The next pitch at dinner came from a cocktail person who seemed put off that we did not order a drink. After the second meal of not ordering from this person, we never saw them again.

The third pitch came from a Sommelier (wine boy). I really look forward to having a bottle of wine with my meals while on vacation, especially on a cruise when I wont have to drive home. The first problem was that the meals were neither deserving nor complimentary to a nice bottle of wine. The second problem came with bad wine. I expect that a wine list is represented by quality bottles of various wines and prices. Most Americans including myself are not good at choosing wines on their own. We were not raised on the stuff. No matter what price wine I order, I expect the cruise line to be presenting a quality wine. A bad wine should be excluded from the list or discouraged by the Sommelier prior to my order. I ordered a $28 Spanish red based on the description on the menu (something like lush tropical flavors richly decorated with vanillas and chocolate with a hint of raspberry accented with woodsy oak blah blah blah). Spanish reds can be a wonderful selection and at $28 should be amazing. When the Sommelier presented himself after the meal I told him the wine had lost it's life in mid meal. I was also surprised a '91 vintage was not decanted prior to service. The sommelier told me he agreed that the vintage was nearing the end of its life. He then suggested I should have stayed with the California red wines. Duh, where were you when I ordered the Spanish bottle of '91 Muerte? The Sommelier received his cruise included 15% gratuity based on this service and nothing else was said. The next night I went with an Alsacian Gewürztraminer. I have about 20 different bottles of the stuff at home and had a good idea of what to expect. The wine seemed skunked. In fact it was skunked. I learned my lesson on complaints and said nothing that night, but later told the head of the Hotel, Costas, this story about the wines; another waste of good breath. Every night the sommelier, a very pleasant gentleman with a nice smile, stopped by with questioned look when we no longer ordered wine from him. I imagine ignorance is truly bliss based on his reactions. Some people will read this and say I should have done this or that. I chose Celebrity so that I wouldn't have to do this or that. If I wanted stress, I would have stayed at work. If I wanted to complain I would have gone on Carnival or went to an early bird in Boca.

The food was not good on the Galaxy. The food was uninspired at best. The food was as tired as the used slightly worn menus. This drove home the fact that the menu never changes and the kitchen is in a rut doing the same poor routine week after week. Anyone who has not realized this doesn't understand food beyond a good steak and potatoes and certainly is not a regular watcher of the Food Network (I'm not saying my taste is food is better than others, just different.) Several times during the cruise the same things popped up on the dinner menu, something I was not accustomed to on Princess. The breakfast menu was the same everyday in the dining room. Costas, the head hotel guy told me that I had many choices for breakfast. Not only could I chose to have my eggs cooked differently everyday, but I could basically eat the same nasty food in the dining room or at the buffet or even in my room. Costas saw so much variety where I could only see the same old boring things. For those meat and potatoes people out there, this kind of food would be perfect and that is OK if food isn't your 'thing'. I was at the point of giving up on something I really looked forward to (dining) by the second day. On past cruises I had never been known to miss a meal. I was barely done with one before I couldn't stop thinking about the next. On this boat I began to eat for nourishment purposes only. I actually gave up going to breakfast and lunch in the dining room, as I did not want to deal with the service, the pitiful food, or one more overdone eggs benedict.

This resulted in my attempt at dining at the buffet. Buffets are something that goes against my nature and everything I believe true when it comes to 'dining'. However, I had assumed I would be able to get something I wanted at the buffet or even something different. Maybe I'd be able to pick through and find a nicely cooked egg somewhere in a bucket piled high with others. The buffet breakfast included the same cafeteria style line food you get at any institutional setting. My girlfriend said IHOP would make a killing on board this ship. I said that I agreed and that at least IHOP knew how to make eggs benedict. There was a vat of scrambled eggs floating in butter, sausage, bacon, potatoes and the same old nasty sausage in a baguette every single morning. It was like the movie Ground Hog Day. They had the same plain pastries everyday. The bagels were not what you would be used to. There were fruits, but they were not very sweet and did not include the exotic types I was used to on Princess. They did have stewed figs where Princess only had dried. One day I wanted lox with my bagel at the buffet and went through four service people before Mario went the extra mile to get some for me (Mario missed the Princess boat he was working on and was actually an imposter on this boat. He was planning on jumping back on board the Dawn Princess at the next port before they started missing him. This is something the cruise industry has not caught onto, but I hear it happens a lot. If you get a good waiter on the Galaxy, ask him which boat he actually works on and when he plans to join up with his boat.) Lox was not a daily presentation in the buffet on the Galaxy. The food was plated by staff behind the counter as you walked by, like at Morrison's Cafeteria. This resulted in lines everywhere. Lines, Lines, Lines, Lines, Lines. This service method caused a problem for those of us who like to have our foods 'not touching.' Don't attempt the buffet if you have kids anything like me. It also created waste as there are times when just a taste would have done if you served yourself. Here you were slopped a whole serving whether you wanted it or not. They had two men making individualized omelets for the whole buffet area, one on each side of the ship. One day I wanted sunny side up eggs on top of my corned beef hash. This is how it is customarily served where I am from. I had to stand in line to get my eggs and then watch them get cold by the time I stood in line to get the hash and rest of my tray filled in the other lines. One of the eggs broke as I tried to put it in on the hash. I was devastated.

I was joking around at dinner in the dining room asking what it takes to get your tray carried to the table at the buffet as I always saw waiters carrying trays to tables. My girlfriend said, 'You have to be blonde.' The tall Blonde we were eating with reluctantly agreed. I only had my tray carried for me once. The maitre d'i grabbed it from me, but I was not ready to go find where my girlfriend had sat and was preparing to get something else. I can now laugh at our battle for my tray. Two guys politely tugging at tray insistently. 'Let me get that for you.' 'No thank you, I'm fine.' 'NO, let ME get that for you sir, I want to.' 'No, I want to.' 'No I want to…'

The buffet was mostly closed and never available when I wanted to eat. Iced tea could sometimes be found at the buffet, but only 8 oz cups were available if any cups were available. I would have to go out to a bar at the pool to get a decent sized cup and often would have to make my own iced tea with tea bags and ice. Milk was not always available.

I had forgotten how bad it was to be on a bad cruise (my Carnival trip). I think by my third day the only thing Celebrity could have done to make my cruise enjoyable was to have transferred me to the Dawn Princess with Mario, which at the time seemed like a spectacular idea on my part. The Dawn Princess seemed to always be docking with us. That was one move I would have gladly packed and unpacked for. I felt captive in a bad dream. I tried so hard to make the best of things, but when your idea of a vacation centers around food and care free relaxing, it was difficult to enjoy everything else. The passengers and the entertainment staff at the pool did an excellent job. Of the 500 to 2000 or so children and teenagers on board, I don't think I saw an unhappy sole. The Caribbean music was nearly nonstop and never was overburdening. Alcoholic drinks flowed like the sea around the boat.

I would rarely get the answer I wanted from any of the staff on board. One time I was going to ask Guest Relations if I could shoot myself to see if the word 'yes' was in their vocabulary. Anyway, here are some examples:

'Can I get an iced tea please?' The answer most often heard was 'We don't serve iced tea at breakfast.' The next was 'The machines are turned off in the evening.' What I wanted to hear was 'You want iced tea? I will be happy to get you one. What about your lovely girlfriend? Would she like one also?' The n

ext question was one asked after boarding the boat around after 4:30 PM several times following long days on excursions. We had late seating at 8:30 PM and wanted some decent food to carry us over the next four hours. We went to the buffet where they served the same tired 'tea' everyday from 4-5 PM. This included several nasty finger sandwiches and some desserts. However, we just wanted something else and on somedays we got back after 5 PM when tea was over. We headed over to the 'Pizza Burger Bar' and I asked for a burger. Their answer was, 'We are not serving burgers now. Burgers closed at 2 PM. We have Pizza.' The second answer we received was 'You can order from room service.' It felt as if we were stuck in a bad Saturday Night Live routine. The answer I wanted to hear was 'Sir, we stop serving burgers at 2 PM, but for you, I would be happy to get you a burger. Where will you be sitting? I will have one right out for you. Can I also bring you an iced tea with that?'

The next question was why the same finger sandwiches were served everyday at the buffet from 4-5 PM. My answer was basically that this was the way they do things. 'Sir, we feed so many people that it would be difficult to add variety…'

One night I wanted change for a $20 bill to help with getting the tips together. By the way, Galaxy is totally cashless cruising… except for tips and stamps. I was told that the bank was closed at guest relations and that I must go to the Casino. Of course this was not what I wanted to hear as I had just showered and was planning on going to sleep soon. I had to stand in the smoky casino for 10 minutes on line, just enough time to reek of smoke. I had to go back to the room and re-shower. I burnt my butt.

One day I had an excursion which included snorkeling at 1 PM. I wanted to eat lunch around 11 or 11:30 PM so that my food had time to digest. They don't start serving anything until 12 PM. I ended up waiting on line to get some hamburgers and hotdogs. These happened to be excellent save for the slightly stale cheap bagged buns they were served on. The hot dogs were the closest to a Kosher NY hot dog I have had. The french fries were awesome. After getting my burgers I had to go into the buffet area to stand on line for an iced tea. The whole process was about 20 minutes. I stuffed my face and then we ran to catch the excursion. I was so troubled by the experience I covered every inch of my body with sun tan lotion and forgot my back, right before going snorkeling. The only thing I was grateful for was that it wasn't the nude snorkeling trip we took. We had some kind of canned tuna on white bread on the excursion provided by the excursion locals. I must have devoured four sandwiches, as they tasted so much better than the food I was getting on board the Galaxy. The excursion also had plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and punch so that everyone was well hydrated. Anything we asked these guys was answered with the same phrase, 'No problem man, every ting gonna be aright.' I was taken aback when one of the guys offered me a drink, got it for me and then didn't charge me for it. I was unaccustomed to such service after sailing the Galaxy a few days.

Towards the end of the cruise we walked into the cabin at 11:30 PM to find a bucket of 'Galaxy Chardonnay' and some fresh fruit. There was no note. Our tablemates had signed for some champagne sent to them by their travel agent that night at dinner and we wondered if the card they signed was actually meant for us. With our travel agent, I should have known better. We couldn't figure it out and it was killing me. We called guest relations and when finally getting through, Sarah says to me, 'It could have been sent by anyone.' She says she can't find out tonight as everyone is sleeping, but she will tell us tomorrow. It was a miracle when she called back 15 minutes later to wake and tell us Costas had sent the wine to help make up for all the problems we were having. It was a nice gesture served without a note and without a corkscrew. It seemed in line with the philosophy of keeping passengers full of alcohol, as an intoxicated passenger is a happy one.

To recap, I had stopped ordering wine with my meals, which was a big disappointment. I'm not a big gambler and was not about to throw away another $30 on a bad bottle of wine. I just did not trust the wine steward or the wine. I was no longer ordering my usual multiple courses at every meal, as the food was one disappointment after another. I enjoyed the company of the people I was eating with and really looked forward to their company at night. The frequent interruptions to our conversations by the waitstaff and the maitre di's got old real soon. We got good at telling them everything was wonderful just to get rid of them. The buffets were always closed when we wanted to use them. Some nights finger food was passed as late evening nourishment only in the casino and in the disco. It seemed just another ploy to get people to gamble and buy drinks. I hated being forced to get my food in a smoky environment and did not enjoy fighting others for the food being passed. One night I asked if I could get food anywhere else and got my standard room service answer. I figured I could get a small platter of hors d'oeuvres brought to my room. The person at room service kept hearing 'orders' instead of hors d'oeuvres and patiently waited for me to give them to her. Fifteen minutes later someone knocked at the door of my room. I expected my hors d'oeuvres, but there was a guy asking me what was the 'order' I wanted to place. I just gave up.

Comparisons of my most recent cruises, Celebrity Galaxy and Princess Grand.

Children:

Galaxy: saw them everywhere, but overall a good bunch of kids. There were always a bunch of staff members keeping them busy and I never saw an unhappy kid. Overall parents did a good job of making sure their kids behaved. The only real problem was kids in the hot tubs and in those marked adults only. No one got too bent out of shape. I enjoyed occasionally dunking them when they were not looking.

Grand: Didn't realize kids were on board.

Coffee:

Galaxy: coffee not great. Cappuccino and espresso for sale at high prices.

Grand: coffee not great. Cappuccino and espresso free at every meal. The quality of these drinks was amazing. They have someone hired full time just to make cappuccino and espresso for the passengers.

Do Tips Help early in cruise?

Galaxy: Nothing seemed to help. My early $10 to the Maitre d'i here may have made things worse.

Grand: Improved already excellent service. However did not seem necessary, but made me feel better rewarding exceptional service.

Smoking:

Galaxy: Very good for non smokers and smokers alike. The only thing they could have done better was make the boat smokeless. They split the ship down the middle lengthwise and have smoking and nonsmoking sides.

Grand: Great for smokers. Be as rude as you like.

Beds: Galaxy: Uncomfortable, really uncomfortable. Had a sore back every night. Lower beds, making placement of luggage a bit more difficult.

Grand: Comfortable as could be. Possibly because a newer ship. Higher beds make putting luggage under easier.

Phones:

Galaxy: high tech does nothing for getting through to the operator or guest relations. Has a clock built in. Program yourself wake-up calls.

Grand: Basic

Room Closet space:

Galaxy: excellent. Two full sized closets. Theft proof hangers.

Grand: almost poor. One full size closet and small shelves closet. May be a blessing in disguise, as you will realize you should not have packed as much as you did in the first place. Real hangers. Room bathroom: Galaxy: larger shower with removable faucet and lack of temperature safe controls. Quieter friendlier toilets. Slightly better toiletries without packets of shampoo. Six digit safe above desk. Worn furnishings. Grande: smaller room and shower. Temperature control faucet without removable showerhead. 'Al Bundy' toilet tempts your machismo to flush while sitting there. Four digit safe taking up space in shelf closet. Packets of shampoo and lotion. Furnishings slightly less worn. They hide room accessories behind TV's on last day in case you want to steal anything or in case you are wondering where they went. Photography: Galaxy: Made us look better. Same long lines. Same high prices $7 a 5x7. Try asking the photographer to snap one of the table with your camera. Grande: Probably more realistic pictures. Same long lines. Same high prices $7 a 5x7. Try asking the photographer to snap one of the table with your camera. Activities: Galaxy: Aerobics included a walk in the morning and maybe one class a day. I was discouraged by the first day. They charged $10 to do yoga. The pool activities were real fun and I participated in most of them. I won the belly flop contest! I competed in the best looking guy contest and the battle of the sexes contest. We beat the cruise staff in water volleyball. Grand: Awesome aerobics classes. Cruisercise dollars. I exercised my way through the cruise. Always something going on. Wait Staff: Galaxy: Poorly trained. Did not pull out chairs consistently. Knew how to say 'No' very well. Rushed. Loud. Obtrusive. My waiter was semi professional and really tried hard to make me happy. Things were set up to make him fail at every attempt. It is a team effort and most of the team sucked. Grande: If I were of better means I would hire these people to work for me personally. My waiter and his assistant were impeccable and nearly perfect. My waiter served as a sommelier and cocktail person. Some of the other waiters were less polished but the maitre di's made up for this. Overall the team was a well-oiled machine. Service was relaxing and not rushed. Nothing was pushed and that included alcohol. 'No' was not in their vocabulary. Food: Galaxy: lacked inspiration. No variety. Questionable quality. Not served 24 hours a day. Not consistent. There were a total of three or four memorable meals including a chicken terrene, the baked lobster, pasta with snails and something else I don't remember. Poor attempt at sushi was not edible. Remember Michael Roux rhymes with poo, goo, and doo doo. Grand: Excellent. Everyday there was an excellent soup and appetizer. The kind you close your eyes and enjoy the tastes on your tongue. You could really enjoy some good wines with these meals. The snails and frog's legs were very good if you would only try them. The shrimp cocktails included very large shrimp. The pastas were perfectly cooked. Very inspired meals. Tremendous variety. Except for one fish meal everything was perfectly cooked. Different breakfast lunch and dinner menu everyday. Perfect pastries and a wide variety, which changed everyday. Could always get bagel lox and cream cheese on a decent bagel. Bangers sausages at breakfast. Perfectly cooked eggs. I would liken the quality to any trendy upscale bistro that is not a chain restaurant, or a high-class resort restaurant. It was not 5 star, but no five star restaurant could put out 2500 meals at a sitting and be as good and as consistent as the Grand. Pizza: Galaxy: edible probably because it was the only thing to eat. Grand: Kids loved it. So many other choices I never ate any. Ice Cream: Galaxy: soft serve yogurt everyday. Grand: Charged for Hagen Daz during the day and if you wanted ice cream you had to pay for it. Most amazing homemade icecreams and sorbets served during the meals for free. Taxis: Both lines quoted wrong prices for the cost of taxis on excursions. Take the local busses if you can or find a group of people to hang out with to share the costs of getting places. Getting on and off boat: Galaxy: you need your cruise card and a picture ID, a real pain. If you were not back they wouldn't know. Grand: excellent. Your coming and going was recorded and all you needed was your cruise card. If you were not on the boat upon sailing, they knew it. They would probably still leave you, but at least they knew it. Ability to appropriately respond to passenger's concerns: Galaxy: unable Grand: no real concerns, but my minor concerns were handled appropriately and to MY satisfaction. Upgrades: Galaxy: upgraded to a bad room. Grand: I was a past passenger but no such thing. This was one reason I decided to take a chance on Celebrity. Shops: Galaxy: More shops and slightly better quality. Guaranteed better prices on liqueur, but you had to prove it. I found better prices by a buck or two on some things in St. Thomas. Grand: Sold a lot of reasonably priced stuff. Hot Tubs: Galaxy: Not hot and only 4 on board. Plenty of kids. Grand: Not hot but plenty to be found. I think they keep the tubs cool to prevent heat stroke in those passengers that are dehydrated and possibly drinking. With the amount of people in these things the water gets pretty nasty as you could imagine. I just tried not do drink too much of it. Pools: Galaxy: Three salt water. Grand: One hundred fresh water. Jogging: Galaxy: around pool 50 times for a mile. Grand: one time around boat takes you up and down stairs but you travel a mile after three laps. Pool dining: Galaxy: limited. Great burgers dogs and fries when available. Lines Lines Lines… Grand: basically the same stuff but available at the times you would want to eat this stuff. No lines. Afternoon Tea: Galaxy: Same tired lousy finger sandwiches and desserts served at the buffet. Grand: Fancy service only in the dining room. More traditional. Better food, better variety. Room refrigerator: Galaxy: Never figure out how to open the darn thing, but it was filled with stuff for sale. Grand: Empty and available for you to place things in. Entertainment: Galaxy: The two shows we saw were excellent. For some reason we could never get to the shows like we were able to on the Grand. Grand: Went to them all and they were all nearly Broadway quality. Yes, I have been to 'Broadway.' Beverages : Galaxy: Couldn't get an iced tea if your life depended on it. Juices and teas turned off most of the time. Alcohol ran freely for a price. $4 gets you drinks all day for your child, so bring a kid. Grand: Plenty of everything. I drank more alcohol here because I always felt hydrated with other fluids. Iced tea 24 hours a day. Milk 24 hours a day. You could get a plastic cup larger than 8oz. Repeat Cruise?: Galaxy: I'd rather have an enema. Grand: I'll deal with the rude passengers, smokers and large ship for the wonderful food and service any day. Ask a Question About Celebrity Cruise Lines

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