Celebrity Galaxy

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M/V GALAXY: The Definitive Review

Apr 1, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Amazing public areas, good service, superb outside entertainment

Cons:Poor ship-based entertainment, average meat quality for entrees, carpet showing signs of wear.

The Bottom Line: A magnificent vessel with extraordinary public rooms and artwork, Galaxy's a visually stunning ship. Food and entertainment have room for improvement, but were definitely not below average.


INTRODUCTION


The second in a series of three Century-class vessels, Celebrity’s Galaxy first hit the open seas in late 1996. Boasting close to 10,000 tons more in weight than her predecessor, Galaxy stops just short of hitting the 80,000-ton mark. Just ten years ago, a weigh-in like that would cause a ship to be among the largest in the world. Today, though, with behemoths from Royal Caribbean and Cunard passing 130,000 tons, the Galaxy is merely a quaint “mid-size” cruiser.

Don’t let the numbers fool you. She is a massive vessel that provides guests with plenty of privacy and quiet nooks even when fully occupied with 1900 passengers. On the standard weeklong trek, passengers easily find solitude away from the hustle and bustle of pool deck noise in Galaxy’s various lounges.


THE GRAND FOYER

Entering Galaxy during embarkation lands guests in the footsteps of The Grand Foyer. The four story atrium style room, which visitors will later find accurately represents the rest of the vessel, mixes the elegance of a five star hotel lobby into the abstractness of a sophisticated art gallery. Carefully muted tones of carpet blend wonderfully with luxurious marble floors and countertops. An oval style, mirrored staircase in the center of the foyer provides access to all floors of the atrium.

Turning attention away from the guest relation’s desk reveals a marvelous nearly four story tall reproduction of an antique art piece, backed by a four story waterfall behind the framing, featuring a girl in full Victorian style dress swaying on a swing from a treetop. Crowning the four-story atrium’s silvery ceiling is the final touch – what appears to be a functional compass that does indeed change direction throughout the day.

While the art work is perhaps the only classic onboard Galaxy, in addition to it seeming just a tad out of place, it achieves setting the mood for the rest of one’s experience aboard the Celebrity vessel. Travelers on-board Galaxy will no doubt repeat their double take of this art as well as dozens of other original and reproduction pieces scattered throughout Galaxy’s hallways and public lounges.

Celebrity is notorious, or famous depending on one’s opinion, for carefully selecting pieces of artwork that go against the common line of thought when laying out public rooms for passenger liners and hotel lobbies. Why select renditions that simply blend in to fill the room when you can place abstract art and photography of drag queens in the casino? This seems to be the mission of whoever in Celebrity’s corporate offices is responsible for art placement and interior decorating.

Most important of all, the idea works. Unlike any other cruise line where passengers breeze past the space filling sculptures and paintings without batting an eye, Celebrity’s clientele can routinely be seen stopped dead in their tracks staring at paintings with curiosity, shock and impression.

In the field of creating public rooms successfully mixing classic elegance with contemporary, cutting edge style – while avoiding fake Vegas style neon-glitz – Celebrity Cruise Lines truly is a master.


MICHAEL’S CLUB

Just off the staircase landing for The Grand Foyer, explorers find themselves in Michael’s Lounge. Beautifully manicured wood flooring and rich tones of color blend to create a public area that is one of the more classically elegant aboard the ship. The lounge is perhaps one of the few areas aboard Galaxy where travelers won’t see much of a contemporary influence on decoration or layout. While this room on some of Celebrity’s other vessels no longer serves as the cigar-smoking host, Galaxy still made use of the lounge for its original purpose.


STRATOSPHERE LOUNGE

At the front and top of Galaxy, passengers find the Stratosphere Lounge. Different shades of blue combine with an array of oversized windows and lounge chairs looking out on three directions of the seas. These form a large semi-circle encompassing a mid-size dance floor. In the daytime, the lounge acts as a quiet retreat and offers magnificent views of the ocean. After sunset, this is the scene of Galaxy’s disco and two bars that remain open into the early morning.


RENDEZVOUS SQUARE

On the way to the dining room, passengers almost always find themselves traveling through the Rendezvous Square. This room, plush with red carpeting and seating, features a small circular dance floor and room for a live band. This location was frequented both before and after passengers ate at the Orion Restaurant, and the Celebrity Orchestra often performs live golden-era pieces to which many passengers can be seen dancing – a rare and positive image that brings back memories of traditional cruising at its finest.


MARTINI BAR

At the front door to the Orion Restaurant, early arrivals can enjoy a beverage and socialize with tablemates at the Martini Bar. This room, with its elegant curving staircase from the deck above, helps to create a nearly three-story foyer set aside just for Galaxy’s two-deck dining room. Serenaded by a singing pianist, passengers frequently turn this into a favorite congregation point prior to entering the Orion Restaurant.


ORION RESTAURANT

Entering the Orion Restaurant, whether from the upper or lower level, brings guests into a truly beautiful room aboard Galaxy. Again presenting a classic Celebrity mix of old-time elegance in design and architecture with new-age color schemes and decorating, the dining room is a fantastic place to share meals on a nightly basis. This two-deck room features an entrance with a unique staircase that boasts two landings as it begins as two separate pathways that combine mid-deck. Hovering over the staircase is a large, flat globe suspended from the ceiling above in a blue and tan configuration. It, along with the double staircase, creates a wonderful focal point for the Orion. Large glass panels flanking the entire backside of the dining room afford guests a view of the seas as they feast. For reasons unknown, these windows were always covered with rich gold-colored shades on formal evenings only.

At the upper level staircase landing for the Orion Restaurant, diners can enjoy the music of a string trio that performs nightly. One of the unfortunate effects of having such a grand and open dining area, however, is that the truly remarkable tunes these gentlemen churn out are often lost in the chatter of cafeteria-like echoes of conversation. It is almost a crime that such wonderful music goes unappreciated.

On a separate note away from layout and aesthetics, reports of distracting or extreme vibrations in Galaxy’s dining room have been greatly exaggerated. While the Orion Restaurant does indeed have a slight vibration that is always noticeable, the same as any liner with a public room in the aft of the ship, the vibration is not serious enough to make so much as a slight chime with table settings. We found the vibrations to be of the same magnitude as those aboard smaller and larger vessels with similar configurations.


CELEBRITY THEATER

Numerous activities through the course of the day as well as evening entertainment and staged productions take place in the exceptionally well-equipped Celebrity Theater. Stunning visually with its large layout that features balcony seating on a second level and stadium style seating on the main floor, the theater was never near capacity and provided guests with good views of entertainment on the stage from nearly any seat. The theater, lush with gold colored seating and upholstery, is appointed with an above average sound system and professional grade lighting equipment that provides the audience with above average visual effects. An above average size stage with excellent ceiling height allows for more flexibility in production planning and show entertainment.


SAVOY NIGHT CLUB

Acting as a late night retreat for those choosing not to hit the ship’s disco, the Savoy lounge is decorated in neutral colors of hushed white and lavender tones. The lounge offers a generous amount of seating for guests and often hosts live performances that may appeal to a more mature audience. This, along with Michael’s, is one of the few locations of the ship that present a more classic ambiance and steps away from Celebrity’s contemporary precedent set in other public areas.


OTHER PUBLIC ROOMS

Galaxy boasts a number of other smaller, more intimate public lounges and nooks that should not go without mention. An Internet Café is open for those wishing to keep in touch with loved ones back home or just surf the Internet on a sea day, while the Cova Café offers visitors a chance to purchase what Celebrity presents as higher quality coffee than might be available in dining areas. The Cova Café, while small in size, is a visually appealing section of the ship located near the onboard shops. Light marble flooring mixed with old, traditional copper coffee machines and café tables create a light and welcoming, yet luxurious destination.

Perhaps the biggest detraction Galaxy presently exhibits is serious signs of carpet wear, particularly in stairwells and corridors. This problem has been well controlled in actual public rooms, but many other parts of the vessel literally have carpet coming apart at the seams. This becomes a major eyesore aboard what is otherwise a exceptionally decorated and constructed ship.


DINING EXPERIENCE

Advertised by both Celebrity Cruise Lines and critics alike as having some of the finest food available for the premium cruise market (note: premium is not luxury. That is another step up.), one cannot help but go onboard any of their fleet members with high expectations. Master Chef Michel Roux was contracted out for a fee as a culinary consultant in helping Celebrity to set its original food standards and overall menu design. And, Celebrity has put that money to good use, touting it several times throughout their website and inside marketing material.

Dining in the Orion Restaurant both met, and in some important cases did not meet, our expectations. Overall food quality aboard the line when judged on the basis of fruits, vegetables and deserts is superb. When it comes to vegetables in particular, we were quite impressed. Always fresh, crisp and wonderfully seasoned, the vegetables onboard Galaxy were phenomenal and a welcome addition to any entrée we were presented. Likewise, fruits were fresh consistently and made for an excellent ingredient for chilled soups and desserts.

Those who have read into the experience and philosophy of master chef Michel Roux do not, however, enter the vessel on a Celebrity cruise expecting awe-inspiring food presentation with cute decorative touches. He is a fan of simple, thoughtful and traditional layout. This was the case onboard Galaxy, with food being presented in normal restaurant manner, without the cute sauce swirls or greenery sticking from the potatoes or entrée.

Appetizers, soups, salads and desserts were all standard size that customers have come to expect from the industry. Small, yet tasteful portions allow guests the possibility of enjoying a true five-course meal with dessert minus the buttons bursting off shirts.

The entrées, on the other hand, were quite large. While opinions about entrée size vary greatly, we found portions to be oversized to the extent that food was left on the plate nearly every evening in order that one might enjoy a dessert with coffee following the main course.

Though this topic in particular can inspire some heated disagreement with many onboard, we find that meals trading quantity for quality generally prevail in the end of the evening.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of dining aboard the Galaxy was the meat selections offered to guests. On almost every basis, we found meats to be dry, tough and in many cases under seasoned. This was frequently the case with beef products, and although chicken portions were often cooked properly, they lacked flavoring from either a quality sauce or other spices.

Dining room service aboard the Galaxy was acceptable, with wait staff offering in most cases prompt and professional assistance, though, this service was occasionally impersonal. As is the case with many ships, service standards unfortunately varied from night to night. Many evenings included a chair pulled out for the guest followed by assistance in placing a napkin on their lap. This was a courtesy extended only fifty percent of the time.

On this particular sailing, special homage should be paid to the Assistant Maitre D’ who on almost a nightly basis could be seen visiting numerous tables and engaging guests in conversation as he glowed with joy. The bar staff in Galaxy’s main dining room was also exceptionally friendly, talkative and pleasant to see every evening.

While most passengers choose to conform to the ship’s nightly dress code, there are always several who do not. While Celebrity for the most part was excellent in enforcing this policy, the first night included appearances by guests wearing NASCAR t-shirts and hats, jeans and shorts. On a formal evening, several guests wearing nothing more than a dark shirt and jacket minus the tie or tuxedo were admitted into the dining room.

Again, while some passengers may not exude audible disagreement with those not abiding by the ship dress code, many are offended at the sight of other passengers strolling through in casual outfits on a formal evening after they personally have spent more than an hour preparing for the dining experience.

Overall, Celebrity’s Galaxy ranks just a hair above average in the GOOD category. While service and many foods were excellent, the overall quality was brought done by bland entrées and meat selections.


ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE

Expectations for food may be high aboard this line, but those reading frequent reviews know not to expect Las Vegas or Broadway grade entertainment. Fortunately, Celebrity has begun to bring in outside entertainers such as exceptional lounge singers, who are actually from Las Vegas hotel gigs, and performers from exemplary productions like Cirque du Soleil.

That said, Celebrity’s ship-based entertainment productions could only be described as some of the worst in the industry. A magnificent theater such as the one onboard Galaxy goes to an unfortunate waste when coupled with an under trained, mediocre cast that performs uninspired, poorly written numbers. We found musical performances to be bland and difficult to enjoy because of below average singing and acting skills.

Enter from stage left Celebrity’s outside entertainment sources. Fantastic Las Vegas lounge singers provide marvelous renditions of old and newfound favorites, including a dead-on impression of Sammy Davis, Jr., while Cirque du Soleil’s performers dazzled the audience with physical maneuvers that are even more impressive when being done aboard a rocking cruise liner.

Because of these recent changes to their entertainment lineup that includes bringing in outside performers, which in the future one would hope will not entail a surcharge for admittance to acts, Celebrity earns an above average score of GOOD.


STATEROOM CONDITION/SERVICE

As is the case aboard any cruise line, customer expectations and experiences differ greatly from stateroom to stateroom. On this particular voyage, a Concierge Class suite (1120) was provided. Linens, carpeting, window treatments and bedspreads all boasted the same vibrant colors passengers come to expect from Celebrity. These were all in excellent, up kept condition. Stateroom service and maintenance while aboard was extremely efficient and personable with careful attention to detail.

Concierge Class staterooms, though all services have not yet been fully implemented or perfected, receive a basket of fresh fruit every day along with nightly horderves.


OVERALL RATING

A truly magnificent vessel with extraordinary public rooms and artwork, Celebrity’s Galaxy is a visually pleasing and stunning ship.

Food overall could use improvement in the meat department, and many passengers would trade entrée size for higher grade meat quality and flavoring techniques.

Entertainment aboard Galaxy that was provided by the ship’s singers and dancers was abhorrent, while guest singers and performers were remarkable.

Galaxy is ranked at an overall score of **** (FOUR STARS) or ABOVE AVERAGE.

Previous reviews:

Norwegian Sea: **
Norwegian Majesty: ****
Carnival Holiday: ***


Recommend this product? Yes


Best Suited For: Couples

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