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Roger Plothow

Age: 46

Occupation:Newspaper publisher

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Galaxy

Sailing Date: March 21st, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Holland America before giving Celebrity a try. Overall, our experience with Celebrity was better than Holland America, not as good as Royal Caribbean (odd, since they are owned by the same company).

The Galaxy, despite a renovation a few years ago, shows its age in places. The public areas are fine, though some of the upholstery was soiled. We had an outside lower cabin (my wife gets seasick, so we wanted to be lower and toward the middle of the boat). The cabin was fine, though, again, the upholstery was worn and stained.

In general, the staff was polite but not as exceptionally outgoing as that of the Royal Caribbean. Our cabin steward was Indian, our waiter Polish -- all told there were 60 nationalities on board. The waiter had too many tables in our opinion and was unable to chat as we had with our waiters on RC and HA.

Our first stop was Cozumel. We wish we had snorkeled there. Instead, we made it a shopping day. It was hot and muggy and generally miserable (hence the wish we had snorkeled). We found some nice leather goods and I bought some Cuban cigars for $9 a piece -- not bad.

Costa Maya was next, and it was terrific. We visited Chacchoben, a recently recovered Mayan ruin complex. The tour was superb and the ruins fascinating. There's not a lot to do at the port itself, so the tour was a good idea.

In Costa Rica we took the Tortuguero Canals tour, which was the highlight of our trip. We saw monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, iguanas and other lizards, numerous birds, bats and butterflies and an amazing diversity of flora. Fantastic. Our guide was superb. This is a must-do if you're going to Puerto Limon.

The Panama Canal was next. We stayed on board for the transit through the locks and into Gatun Lake. Fascinating. The stop at Cristobal was interesting -- we stayed at the terminal and shopped. Some of the natives danced. A nice, quiet day.

The cruise to Jamaica was rough and my wife spent a day in bed very sick from the bouncing around.

We took the tour to Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica -- a big mistake. It was a five-hour round trip over mostly bad roads and the falls were over-run by tourists like us and our guide was not terribly informative. I'd advise against this tour.

The last stop was Grand Cayman, where we had a snorkeling tour which was superb, second only to our Costa Rica excursion. We snorkeled among stingrays and along the coral reef a couple of miles from shore -- a fantastic experience. We had a nice meal downtown and did some shopping -- very pleasant.

The trip back to Galveston was pleasant and uneventful.

Entertainment on board was pretty good, including a good comedian, a magician, a terrific young a cappella group and a good party band. Even the Vegas-style shows, not my cup of tea, were pretty good. The food was good, not outstanding (again, RC's food was better).

Average age of cruisers was mid-50s, though there were a surprising number of families with kids (about 200 under 18 on board -- well cared for by the staff).

All in all, it was a 7 out of 10. We'll probably go back to Royal Caribbean next time, simply because our experience there was more like a 9. But I'd still recommend this cruise -- just avoid the Dunn's River Falls excursion!

Specific ratings (out of 10):
Food: 7
Entertainment: 9
Excursions: 8
Other on-board activities: 8
Value: 8

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