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Cruise Ship Review
Vanisse Mascia

Pre-Inaugural Overnight on board in New York City December 9, 1996

Arriving at Pier 82 in New York City, I kept looking for Tom Cruise, but unfortunately Sharon Jackson and I must have missed him. He viewed the Galaxy before us, but I had the pleasure of our publisher Sharon's company for my inspection of the Celebrity Lines's newest ship the Galaxy.

We checked in at the pier around 4:30PM on December 9 and proceeded to the ship. We entered the Grand Foyer, which I consider to be breathtaking. The atrium was very elegant with plenty of wood and glass. There were no glass elevators like other newer ships, but a spiral staircase that spanned four floors. I could envision an elegantly clad couple descending this staircase for a wedding or any formal. The ship photographers should be able to utilize this setting for many of the formal poses. To the front/back of the staircase was the information desk with its five television screens in the wall above the desk. The opposite wall was a large video screen which had twelve individual squares. As it was the holiday season, the atrium was tastefully decorated in pine roping and gold ribbons/bows.

Sharon and I first went to our cabin to deposit our luggage. We had a deluxe outside with a panoramic window. There were twin beds with a love seat which converted into a third bed. Across from the love seat was a desk/vanity. The closet runs along the wall as you enter the cabin; there appears to be plenty of storage space. The bathroom is adequate, with a decent size shower stall. Along with a medicine chest there is a built in hairdryer. ( I propose that all ship cabins should have a hair dryer. It's one less item to pack!!)

After stowing the luggage, we set off on a tour of the ship. Our first stop was to view the suites. The Royal Suite has a bedroom and separate living room with dining area. There is a walk-in closet with dressing room. The bathroom includes a tub with the shower. The living room and dining area have hardwood floors while the bedroom is carpeted. In the living room is an entertainment center with VCR. Both of the rooms have sliding glass doors that open onto a verandah. The decor was predominantly wood with neutral colors; these were very pleasing to the eye.

After the Royal Suite, we ventured into the Penthouse Suite. This suite is probably larger than some apartments in NYC! When you enter the suite through a foyer, there is a half bathroom on your right. To the left is a decorative table with floral arrangement. In one corner near the ceiling is a camera that lets you know who is at the door before you let them in. From the foyer, you enter a living room area that has a large video screen behind the couch: there is projection in the ceiling to show movies or use as a TV. There are two other TVs in the suite. To the left of the living room is the dining area, in which is a mahogany table that would seat six comfortably. The table is parallel to the floor-to-ceiling windows on one side and bookcases on the other. In the glass enclosed cases is the extensive sound system for the suite. Continuing through the dining area, you come to the bedroom. There you will find a king size bed that faces the windows and verandah. To the left is the oversized bathroom with tub and shower stall. The tub has a jacuzzi and would probably fit two people. Through sliding glass doors, you can go relax on the verandah with your own hot tub. In the bedroom you will find at your fingertips an array of buttons and dials that control the lights and the sound system. The floors in the suite are mostly hardwood with area rugs, except for the bedroom: this room is carpeted. To add an additional item of decadence, the suite has it's own butler's pantry with wet bar and kitchen. I'd definitely book this suite if I ever won the lottery. What luxury for a 7 to 10 day cruise. The mere elegance of this suite is beyond words.


From the penthouse, we went on to the handicapped cabins. Most of these cabins are on the Plaza Deck, just past Guest Relations. The hallway is oversized to accommodate wheelchairs, the cabins have larger doors than other rooms, and there are ramps in the cabin to the bathroom, as well as handrails where necessary. The closets are equipped to meet the needs of the handicapped.

Continuing on our tour, we went to the Aqua Spa. We entered through the aerobics room and saw their cardiovascular equipment. The equipment is state of the art with stairmasters, universals, etc. Just past the equipment is a maze of rooms that include aromatherapy, massages, saunas and steam. This entire area is paneled in wood. It reminded me of the old movie "Teahouse of the August Moon". The ambiance of the area dripped of pampering. There was a full hair salon to the side of the spa.

Leaving the Aqua Spa, we strolled along the Sky Deck. There appears to be plenty of space to lounge in the sun or enjoy the pool. There are also hot tubs for your relaxation at both ends of the pool. The other pool on the ship is the Oasis Pool. There is a retractable glass sun roof over this area. The pool was surrounded by cushioned chaise lounges and large sitting chairs around tables. The color was mainly white with greens and yellows. There were even potted plants throughout the area. The back deck of the pool was a tile wall that has running water coming down.

Adjacent to the Oasis Pool is the Oasis Cafe. Here the many buffets will be set up. We had breakfast in the cafe before we left. While on a cruise, you could take your morning breakfast and enjoy eating at the Oasis Pool. Once again, the Oasis Cafe was predominantly wood decor. It gave me the impression of some of the older restaurants in New York, probably in the line of an Irish pub. The buffet tables are divided into four sections for even passenger flow.

After the tour of the Resort Deck, Sharon and I walked the Entertainment and Promenade Decks. Here you will find the public areas and lounges. All of them are roomy and tastefully decorated; some more boldly than others. We saw the Savoy Night Club, Fortunes Casino, and Rendez-Vous Square, along with the Champagne Bar and Michael's Club. Michael's Club is for the cigar aficionados. The room has the look of those private men's club depicted in the movies. Leather and wood is the decor. We stopped at the Rendez-Vous Square for a quick beverage before returning to our room.

Next on our agenda was dinner. The Orion Restaurant is of two levels, with an illuminated Earth dome and Orion constellation overhead. The upper tier has a railing of brass and wood that overlooks the lower tier. There are table settings for two to ten people. As large as the dining room is, a person could have an intimate dinner for two, if desired. Our meal was delectable. I had medallions of beef that melted in my mouth. Sharon had the seafood dish, which she claims was just as wonderful. We had a relaxing dinner and enjoyed the surroundings. The one oddity in this room would be the carpeting: with all the brass and wood, I didn't expect the abstract design of the carpeting that was in the lounge to carry into the dining room. Other than the color (oranges and blues) and design of the carpeting, the room was elegant.

After dinner, we went to the Celebrity Theater to see the "Cirque du Galaxy". This was a performance of modern dance and acrobatics. The theater has unobstructed views in most areas, including the balcony. I personally would not sit in the first two rows; the stage is much higher, and a person would not be able to see the full stage. It would be very uncomfortable watching with your neck craned for any length of time. The show itself was superb. The special effects and lighting were done very well. A lot of the acrobatics reminded me of rhythmic gymnastics: modern dance with props.

Following the show, we went to the Savoy Night Club for a touch of comedy. There are many different arrangements of seating. Not all seats have an unobstructed view of the stage area. The couches and chairs were comfortable, and one could surely have a good time in this area. The bar area is separated from the rest of the room by a half wall and is one step higher than the dance floor.

Finally we had a nightcap in the Stratosphere Lounge. Other than the Penthouse Suite, this lounge was my favorite. To enter the lounge, we walked down a black and white hallway that generated sound as we passed. I felt that the sound was the ocean surf along a beach with the birds chirping. After the hallway you could go immediately to the disco or venture to the back of the lounge where you have floor-to-ceiling windows along the entire back of the room. We sat at a table and observed the Manhattan skyline all lit up. What a great room to meet while on a cruise to watch the ports and the sea. This ship would more than satisfy those people who haven't yet tried the cruise experience. It has the aura of a high quality hotel and the ambiance of an island when at the Oasis Pool. We have friends I know would find the MS Galaxy to their liking and I'm sure I would have them as addicted as I am.

Photographs by Sharon Jackson, Vanisse Mascia and Celebrity Cruises. Scans by Sharon Jackson and Judy Nicholls of Four Winds Travel Services Inc. in Aurora, Illinois. Thank you, Judy!

Vanisse Mascia is the Membership Sysop and Caribbean Co Section Leader of the CompuServe Cruise Forum. She can be reached for question or comment at: 76751.3425@compuserve.com

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