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Dr Bob Griffin

Age: 57

Occupation:College Prof/Minister

Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Galaxy

Sailing Date: February 13th, 2006

Itinerary: n/a

Celebrity Cruise Line
MV Galaxy Cruise Review
Panama Canal

Dr Bob Griffin

The worst day on a cruise is better than the best day at home!

The bride of 35 years and I cruise twice a year and opted for the 12-day Celebrity cruise for a couple reasons. Galveston/Houston is an EASY flight from Wyoming contrasted to Miami. And we enjoy a more “mature” crowd - not a gajillion kids running around, crunching crumbs on the floor of the restaurants, screaming in the corridors, etc. So a non-spring break time and longer sailing almost guaranteed a more relaxing and genteel (aka geriatric) crew of fellow-travellers.

While normally on Royal or Princess, we got a good price on an outside window cabin and the timing was right, so made a second Celebrity voyage (the first was to Alaska on a Millennium-class Celebrity ship - much, much better). While we had some disappointments, the trip did live up to its billing.

ON THE PLUS SIDE were some very important events.

*Airport transfer by bus to the pier and return were seamless. Very helpful people on all ends

*Embarkation, since we had filled out the information on line and printed our registration, took less than 5 minutes from getting off the bus (and watching to be sure our luggage was whisked away properly tagged) and standing in a short line for a boarding picture by the ship’s ever-present camera crew. Contrasted with 2½ hours of the typical Carnival embarkation, it was a dream. The rooms were not ready, so after a welcoming drink we were escorted to the large Oasis Buffet. It was not yet noon, but when the lunch lines opened we were treated to a wonderful meal (choices of the hot buffet lines, poolside grill, pizza/pasta or a salad/soup/sandwich line that soon became our favorite). All before even going to a stateroom!

*Shows/entertainment and orchestra were a cut above any previous cruise. 4 full cast productions and almost all other nights were top-drawer entertainers (like Elliot Finkel, one of the greatest pianists alive). The Catskills at sea - with a roving crowd that move from ship to ship.

*Regular shipboard entertainment included a fabulous women’s string quartet, easy-listening duo, band, etc

*Acupuncture lecture and practioner was excellent. She is permanently on ship with office and therapy area. The other “enrichment” speakers were the Firehouse Chef and a financial guru, nice guys but nothing special.

*Food quality and presentation (with moderate portions that allowed a 6’6”, 300# guy like me unashamed to ask for a NUMBER of appetizers or entrees) was excellent. There was not an item that did not have a 5-star appeal and flavor. Tender beef (and I’m from Wyoming so know my beef) was the mark of one choice at EVERY dinner.

*Quick elevators. I have some physical challenges walking and steps are not my friend, so noticed that.

*Well-appointed rooms. Smallish, but with twice the closet and drawer space of ANY typical room on other lines. We usually like a balcony/veranda and a little larger room, but they are very limited on this smaller-class vessel. Very quiet; we were on deck 4 mid ship so almost no motion.

*Less “Activity” than many ships, since it was a “senior” crowd (image a casino closing at midnight??) And love Celebrity’s NO ANNOUNCEMENT on the PA other than the captain’s update each noon and a plug from the cruise director of a few events. Unlike the incessant chatter and pleas for bingo of other lines.


*Windows. Dirty all the time and layers of film and sea-grit between the glass was so bad. When we boarded in Galveston we could hardly enjoy a view from the 11th floor food area while eating and awaiting our rooms being readied. And it never got better! The lovely stratosphere lounge (12 forward) was almost uninhabited when going through the canal. Cool and comfortable, but every window so bad it was impossible to enjoy a view. That these have not been replaced years ago is baffling.

*Staff attention was far less. Good, friendly people, but going about their lives and oblivious to helping. I use a cane and cannot carry a tray so buffet lines are hell for me! And I would stand and seek to flag down someone to help. Poor.

*Swimming pools were cold, fountains not working. The covered indoor pool aft 11 was unused the entire cruise. Could have been a skating rink.

*Hidden charge - this one got me. The heated Therasotherapy pool that is free to all on the M-class ships had a charge (never mentioned in the literature next to its pix) of $120 a person to use for the 12-day cruise. We so enjoy that and the steam room/sauna and locker area that we bit the bullet and paid. Then were REALLY surprised at cruise end that added to that was a “gratuity” to the spa staff. Grrrrr.

*Timing of the shows was confusing. We enjoy eating late (although 8:30 pm dinner was REALLY late) and enjoyed many premier shows at 7:00 pm while the first dinner was being served. This allowed time after dinner for a walk around the deserted decks, casino, pizza on the fantail, etc. But some nights, without rhyme or reason would have the performance AFTER dinner, not starting until 10:45 pm. These were poorly attended - allowing us GREAT seats - simply because it would be midnight before being to “relax”.

DAILY DIARY for the cruise. Have we bored you? You can tell I might be a teacher, but not English!!

Feb 13 Embark, enjoy, lifeboat drill and sail away from cool Galveston (only 45 degrees) and head into the calm Gulf waters. Lovely meal and short show with introductions and explanations. We always take a swimsuit in the carry on and after embarking and lunch, lay around in a pool while others just wander the ship. Sadly, NONE of the pools (not even the hot tubs or therasotherapy pool were open).

Feb 14 At Sea. Great library, though small, lots of games, lots of deck lounges for reading (with eyes closed) and abundance of trivia, pictionary, battle of the sexes, etc to keep busy. And each day was a “theme” with the buffet foods (Chinese, Italian, Mexican). Getting comfortable with the ship, shops, lounges, musicians,

Feb 15 At Cozumel. Took a short tour into town to shop and see a folk lore dance and music show. We had done the big Tullum ruins tour on a previous trip (doesn’t every cruise stop at Cozumel?).

What struck us was the horrendous damage done to the pier area. Last Feb (2005) we were here on a Royal Caribbean Rhapsody tour. Pix of the wife and I between two huge ships on the pier. Today, it is rubble, broken concrete and re-bar, a disaster area. And on shore half the places were broken up and trees and beautiful areas we enjoyed on previous stops were leveled. Very sad.

Feb 16 At Costa Maya. While enjoyed the crocodile walk which was informative and entertaining and then laid in a hammock along with shore for a while, this was a WORTHLESS stop - made for cruise ships in the past few years and duplicating the previous day. Poor.

Feb 17 At Sea. Another great day. I personally tire of Mexico (after 5 minutes) and all of the Caribbean islands begin to have a “same-old, same-old” look. I would book a “cruise to nowhere” in a heartbeat! But on a bigger ship. This one was small (about 25% less space than the M-class of Celebrity with about the same number of people)

Feb 18 At Limon, Costa Rica. While raining on/off we traveled the countryside and enjoyed a banana plantation tour. Learned a lot, met nice folks and our bus broke through the older bridge in the country (had been a narrow gauge railroad bridge) and we had visions of plummeting into the river below! But locals helped prop up the bus and put down metal and planking and we limped off the bridge and took an unscheduled stop to shop while two tires that were shredded on the big greyhound type bus were replaced! Adventure in a third-world backwater stop! More garbage, poverty all around the highly secured “compound” of the ship area. Did not go “outside” to shop!

Feb 19 At Panama Canal. Sadly, the ship entered just a daybreak (5:30 am) which was way too early for most. By 8 am we were through the locks and sailing in Gatun reservoir. Many disembarked for day-long activities; we who were interested in the canal stay aboard ship to enjoy the reverse transit from noon til 3 pm. Got lots of pix if you’re interested!

Had 4 hours to visit Colon/Cristobal Panama. Lots of shopping on the dock area, including Panama Indian artifacts and craft items. Native dress is only paint (not kidding - no clothes!) and many of the men from the ship spent a lot of time looking at the sales ladies!! (Or so I’m told. My wife wouldn’t let me go to that area)

Feb 20 At Sea. This time was over the open water

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