Elaine & Bill Murdock
Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Celebrity
Sailing Date: February 24th, 2001
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
Elaine & Bill Murdock
After being somewhat disappointed with our Celebrity cruise last year on the 'Horizon', and knowing their outstanding reputation, we decided to give them another chance. And we are glad we did. We booked the Southern Caribbean itinerary on the Galaxy. We booked a category 6, with a 'guarantee'. That was an outside stateroom, with a chance to get upgraded. Turns out the ship was sold out, so we didn't get the upgrade as we had hoped.
San Juan -We flew to San Juan, and this was a first for us. We had also joined the Captain's Club when we booked the trip. We were surprised to the cost to join was $35, as Princess provides it free, after your first cruise, but it's a one time fee, and it did have a couple 'perks' with it. This got us "special boarding" privileges at check-in. However, when we walked up, we were informed there was no one working that counter. Once my husband uttered the words, "well, what good is it to join the captain's club", someone was immediately there to assist us. At this time, we hoped to learn of an 'upgrade'. The lady there explained, that if you haven't been upgraded by the time you get there, you 'pay' for any upgrades. Since the ship was 'sold out' this wasn't a problem for us. But apparently, if you get an upgrade, your travel agent has to 'put in for it', before you leave. Also, we were surprised that there was a 'duty free liquor' store right there in the terminal. You could buy all you wanted, and carry it on the ship! Although this is 'discouraged' or 'prohibited' in all of the literature we read beforehand. Fort Lauderdale does not have such a shop when boarding.
The Galaxy is a beautiful ship, a little over 4 years old, so still has that new appearance. It should, they are forever cleaning her! Seemed like they were 'forever cleaning' the Horizon too, but it didn't present itself as well. We were on the plaza deck in room 5040. That room has two upper berths in it, and I wouldn't recommend it, unless you need one or both of them for children. The first day I got real 'friendly' with one of them, when I got up from sitting on my bed and knocked myself 'silly' on the front of my head. After that, I was much more conscious of my overhead 'friend' above. However, the stateroom did seem to have lots more closet space than we normally had in that category. Also, the room is next to apparently the same type stateroom, as we heard 'crying' child/children coming from it on a number of times. The elevator and stairs closest to our room didn't go to the places we needed to get too, like the restaurant. So we had to walk to the other end of then ship to get there. It took quite awhile for us to learn this. But you need to walk off those delicious meals!
Now to the meals. Our first dinner meal, we met a lovely couple Arnie and Christine Sturdyk from Colorado. They were on the Galaxy because friends had taken the same cruise in December, 2000. They were able to give us great tips about our ports. The first breakfast morning, after being seated, a young girl came in, sat down, and immediately 'threw up'. It seemed to take quite a time for her parents, who were still in the line, to come help her. The father finally came and got the young lady, the mother sat down to enjoy her breakfast. We were glad 'she' was able to do this. We drank our coffee and left. Fortunately, we didn't encounter them anymore during our trip. Please parents, if your children are nauseated, don't bring them to breakfast, to share with the rest of us.
Now about the meals. That had been our biggest complaint on the Horizon. We didn't feel the quality of the meals were nearly as good as we had on previous Princess cruises. Well, the Galaxy was much different. Sirloin steak actually tasted like sirloin steak! The one I had on the Horizon tasted like liver! Then when the maitre'd noticed I didn't eat it, questioned me as to what was wrong with it. When I told him, it had a 'liver taste' to it, I got about a ten minute 'lecture' on how difficult it was to prepare meals for so many passengers. Needless, to say everyone at our table was 'shocked', and no one complained/or commented the rest of the time! Also, I don't think he received any tips from our table the last night!!! The meals were great, the selection was great, can't say enough about the meals on the Galaxy. I am not the 'adventurous' type when it comes to trying new dishes, and stick to beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp or lobster, but there was always a good choice for me. My husband tried a couple things we don't normally have at home, and although he didn't think they were outstanding, they tasted good and were edible. (It was not always this way with meals on the Horizon).
Service -The service was excellent. Our cabin steward, promptly came, anytime we called for anything. I would suggest that Celebrity, put some type of liner in the ice bucket, so the ice would last longer. They have a plastic liner in their smaller ice containers, and it seems to last quite awhile. Seems like we were forever calling for ice to be brought to our room. The couple mornings we ordered coffee and orange juice, it was delivered promptly. Upon arriving, we had 2 bath towels, and I requested after the first day, that he put four in our room. There were always 'four' every day after that. You will find that many days, you take 2 showers, if you sightsee, or just lay around the pool. Our servers at dinner were 'ZAFUR' and 'CARLOS' and they did an outstanding job taking care of his during our dinner meals. We could usually count on ZAFUR if we asked him what to choose from the menu to make the right choice for us.
Activities- We don't participate in a lot of activities, but there seemed to be many listed on the 'Galaxy Daily' we received each day. Did notice on the last 'sail-a-way' from St. Thomas, that there wasn't any band playing or any type of music when leaving port. Felt this was rather odd, since it was the last time to 'party'. Maybe this happened on other days, leaving ports, as we were usually getting ready for dinner, and didn't go to any of them.
Casino -Well, let's face it, there job is to earn money, not give it away. We play blackjack, and at no time was there more than one $5 table, but think there was only about 3 or 4 anyway. We met two blackjack dealers that were actually friendly and 'sympathetic' to our losses. The others were either 'unfriendly' or mumbled when counting your cards. I need to 'hear' them count out my cards, and the others in front of me. I always feel, if you are going to take my money, at least be nice about it! Kudos to Ian and his wife from South Africa, they were very nice during my week at the blackjack table.
St. Croix was our first and it was Sunday. It rained a little, and since we had been there before, we just ventured around where the ship docked. Apparently, the water was rough, as I understand they canceled all the tours centered around snorkeling. This is a good place to call home from, if you need too. I buy pre-paid calling card at Sam's Club, and they have really come in handy. The 'surcharge' is six minutes off your card. Was able to use it on St. Thomas as well.
St. Lucia was next. We had never been there. Somewhere we heard that the 7 hour trip offered by the ship was too long, and the lunch wasn't that good either. So we met up with two other ladies, who wanted to take a tour, and hired a taxi. Taxi fees are negotiable. We did not 'get someone from the tour booth' set up right off the ship. We went out front, found a fellow (maybe should say, he found us), and settled on $35 a person, and the cab driver would pay the 'fees' to go to the volcano, and the botanical gardens. The tour lasted about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. We were able to go at our 'own pace', which was nicer than having to wait on a group of other people looking around.
He took us to a spot to view the 'Pitons', up to Sulfur Springs, the volcano you drive into, and to Diamond Falls and the gardens. I wore my bathing suit, to 'enjoy the mineral bath'. Found when I got there, it was a 'pool' type bath, which you could sit in for about 30 minutes, am not sure what the extra charge was, but didn't see anyone else getting in it, so I skipped it too. Our taxi driver stopped whenever we wanted to take a picture, but did not stop for everybody who 'sold their wares' on the side of the road. We enjoyed the trip, and we gave him an extra $10, am not sure if the other ladies did or not. But we figured we got for $80, what others on the ship excursion paid $140 for, except for the lunch. (We ate on the ship before we left, and it was delicious!)
Barbados -We visited there last year, on a Sunday, and town was not open for business. Diamonds International now has a store right in the terminal there, and we upgraded a tennis bracelet we purchased last year. We did not carry our receipt with us, but due to 'modern technology' they were able to fax it over to Ronald. He was very helpful, and we enjoyed our shopping experience there. Am not convinced it is the 'best bargain' but they had some 'sale prices'. (I'll tell you about the other 'tennis bracelet' on St. Thomas later.) Town was 'bustling' that day, and it has just about the same 'stuff' as the rest of the islands'. We took a shuttle over for $1 a piece, but if you stay after noon, they charge you more to come back. I think the taxis charge 'quite a bit' more, so be aware!
We saw lots of people walking, but it may be further than you want to walk back to the ship.
Antigua -This was a new port for us. We opted for a snorkeling trip with Arnie and Christine on a Power Catamaran. We enjoyed this very much. The 'crew' on the catamaran was very helpful. If you were new to snorkeling, or had not done it in awhile, they offered tips at the back of the catamaran. I'll have to say, I am not a 'water' person, do not swim very well, but their tips made me at least 'try it'. Several of them get in the water, so you can stay with them if you like. I wear contact lenses, was afraid of losing them, so wore an older pair. Had no problem with the mask staying on, and didn't get any water in it. Can't say I'd 'win a medal' but had fun, and I'd do it again. On the way back, they had an 'open bar', which consisted of rum punch. I didn't see much of any other kind of alcohol being served, but did get a 'screwdriver' for Christine. They stopped at a beach, for about 20 minutes on the way back. At least got a little 'Antigua' sand between our toes!
St. Thomas -This was our third time at this port, so we opted to just stay and shop at Havensight Mall, where the ship docks. We did go in a place called 'DAZZLERS'. That is where we bought our liquor for hauling back to the states. We paid for it, and they sent it to the ship. It was delivered to our cabin around 5PM. Also, in there, they had jewelry. They seemed to have the same guarantee as Diamonds Internationals. (There is a DI there also). They had a '4 carat' tennis bracelet that looked gorgeous for $999. That was quite a bit less than DI had one.
So if you don't have one, you might compare Diamonds International and Dazzlers in St. Thomas, before jumping right into the one in Barbados and buying one. Of course, that might not have these same 'deals' when you get there either, but imagine they last through the season.
Entertainment -This was good, but wouldn't go overboard and say 'excellent' every night. The Chinese acrobats were very good, the magician was very good, and the rest of the entertainers were good to very good. Guess it is beginning to seem like the same 'stuff' presented as entertainment at these shows. We didn't go every night, so we might have missed something 'excellent' if we did, sorry we can't tell you about it.
The cruise director did a good job the times we saw him. At least he was with us the whole cruise. On the HORIZON last year, the cruise director got 'booted' off the ship for being a 'bad boy', so we understand. All weknow was a couple days, he was there, then all of a sudden he wasn't, and the assistant cruise director took over forhim.
Additional advice , take a 'night light' to plug in at nighttime, it is very dark in the cabin. Also, take a travel alarm clock, if you like to know what time it is. Especially helpful for that early morning departure day.
We would 'highly recommend' the GALAXY for anyone desiring a 'first class' cruise experience.