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Monica Pileggi

Age: 46

Occupation:Contract Specialist

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Galaxy

Sailing Date: October 13th, 2007

Itinerary: Mediterranean & Black Sea

Background: I had plans to sail with my husband for our 19th wedding anniversary; however, with his job he was not able to make it. So I traveled to Rome (for 4 nights pre-cruise) with a bouquet of red roses in hand. This was my fourth Celebrity cruise and about the 10th overall for cruising. The cruise was a 14-night trip around the Mediterranean and Black sea: Rome, Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Istanbul (with an overnight stay), Yalta, Odessa, Ephesus, Athens, and Naples.

Travel to port of Embarkation: I arranged a service to pick 36 fellow passengers up at my hotel. The company provided a 50-seater bus and with a total of 37 people around 70 pieces of suitcases I was correct in not having more than what the bus carried that day. The ride was over an hour and we arrive around 11:45am to the port.

Embarkation was very quickly and we were on board within 10 minutes from check-in. We arrived early, so after our greeting of a glass of champagne, we were whisked to the 11th deck for a buffet lunch. Rooms were not ready until 1pm.

Service: A lot of us felt that service has gone down on Celebrity. We wondered if it was because Celebrity is about to put the Galaxy in dry dock. We didn’t see employees polishing and cleaning throughout like on our other cruises. Trays in the buffet area on tables sat for a while before being picked up. I will say our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent and attentive. They knew what we liked and Jesso would always guide me through the menu, as he knew how I liked my meats. Both of my room attendants were great and anytime I asked for something I got it right away.

Officers: Claudio was in charge of managing the entertainment programs. About ¼ of the way through the cruise I talked to him and had him change the time set for the Friends of Dorothy gatherings. They were set for 8:30pm, which was dinnertime, so he changed it to 8pm. Claudio was very prompt in responding to my change request and he always had a smile on his face. Anytime he saw me he said hello.

Condition of the Galaxy: The Galaxy, for her age, is in excellent condition. Yes, there are stains here and there on the carpets and some of the furniture is worn out and YES the windows in the stratosphere definitely need replacing, overall the Galaxy is in great shape. My beds (in three different rooms) were comfortable.

Dining room food: Overall the food in the dining room was very good. Some dishes were excellent, especially the meat dishes. I think they did an excellent job in that arena. I like my steaks rare and on all cruises I’ve had to have my meats returned for another one. The soups were good too, although one or two were a little on the salty side. Salads were boring, so I ate mostly Caesar salads. Skip the tuna – it’s pre-cooked and you won’t get it seared and rare/raw on the inside. The chicken dishes were very good (chicken cordon bleu, chicken Kiev, breaded turkey scaloppini). The vegetarian dishes weren’t that great according to a friend. I’m not big on desserts but the sherbets were delicious, especially the guava and raspberry. The crème Brule was very good the first night and lousy another night.

Buffet food: Average, although I enjoyed the lamb curry, turkey cutlets, and seafood salads at lunch. Breakfast was the norm: fruits, lox/cream cheese, scrambled eggs, daily egg specials (such as eggs benedict), pancakes, waffles, breads, pastries, etc. They did a great job at the German Oktoberfest. I dined in the dining room only one time and had a good lunch.

Sushi: Excellent! However, I only ate there one time. I’m surprised at myself because I love sushi. I did ask for sashimi and got a huge portion. They even have the tobiko (flying fish roe) that I topped my California rolls with.

Ice cream bar: Usually several choices with various topping, but I didn’t have any.

Grill: I saw lots of people lining up to have burgers. I heard mixed reviews – meat too dry.

Pizza and Pasta station: Pretty good pizza for a cruise. I didn’t have any of the pasta, although a few people stated they enjoyed it.

Entertainment: I went to just a couple of shows and they were very good: singing comedy impressionist Scott Record; “The Voice of Broadway” with Michael Bell, who was with the 5th Dimension; I also went to an enrichment lecture about Greek mythology, which was quite interesting.

My room(s): I booked 4062 in order to be mid-ship and as low as possible to avoid any seasickness. Fortunately we only had one evening of motion that lasted a couple of hours. Overall we had smooth sailings. My room troubles began. I heard metal banging below my room. The deck below me and just two doors down/forward is the gangway exit. I called guest relations and someone came to listen to the sound. About 40 minutes later it stopped (or maybe it didn’t and was just sound asleep). I woke up at 6am the next day to more metal bang noise, like a metal door hitting a metal wall. I immediately called guest relations and two men (one an engineer) listened to the sound. The engineer though it might be a steam pipe. Hmmmm, steam pipe on this type of ship? The noise lasted for about 1.5 hours. I went to the guest relations desk to talk about my room noise problems. Flavio, one of the managers at guest relations was absolutely rude to me. When I told him about the metal banging on both the previous night and morning he stated, “My room is right below yours and I didn’t hear any noise.” It was like a slap in the face and I didn’t know how to respond except to tell him three men heard the noise and confirmed it. In any case, he had a customer complaining to him and he didn’t seem to care at all. I had told him I paid a lot of money for the cruise and wanted to be able to sleep well each night. I asked for another room and was told I could try out 4131. I looked at the deck plan and told him the kitchen was above that room. He stated it really wasn’t noisy after 12:30am. I knew then this wasn’t going to work out. Bed time. I went to my original room and got some things for my temporary room. Sure enough, I heard the kitchen above me. I heard metal carts rolling across the floor until about 1am. Silly me, I moved from one twin bed over to the other one thinking a few feet “away” from the noise would help. I eventually fell asleep. I woke up the next morning to the sound of the ships engines as we slowed down. Time for another call to customer relations, which was frustrating, as I had to explain the whole story all over again. I told the woman I would come to guest relations when I was back on the ship at the end of the day. Back to guest relations I asked to speak to Flavio’s supervisor. I figured it was time to climb the ladder and get better results. I was told I could meet with Sonia, the hotel director at 6:15pm. I met Sonia at the allotted time and we talked at length. I told her I could not go from one noisy cabin to another noisy cabin. She told me there were no other cabins with windows but there was an interior room I could try out. I told her if I was satisfied, I could move the next day but expected compensation since I was loosing the window view. She kept telling me she would have to contact the Celebrity headquarters and may not get an answer for a few days. I just repeated that she needed to compensate me. I went to look at the room and fortunately it was on a deck with cabins below and above the room. So, I figure I would just ‘sleep around’ on the ship until I found a quiet cabin. Back in my room for only 15 minutes, the phone rang. It was Flavio. He told me two women who had their own cabins, decided they wanted to spend the rest of the cruise together in one room and that a window cabin “just became available.” Of course he was lying to me (the room attendant told me later no one had been in that room until I arrived). I met Flavio at the cabin to check it out. I did sleep in the room that night and the rest of the cruise, as it was very quiet. I never even heard my neighbors. Although Sonia and Flavio found me a better room, they could have given me room 8070 from my first complaint. Instead, it took me three days in dealing with them instead of enjoying my time on the ship.

Shore Excursions: I didn’t participate in any shore excursions, as friends and I booked our own private tours (for Yalta, Odessa, Ephesus) and went on our own via local transpiration to Pompeii. A few of us did use the $8 shuttle service in Mykonos. We could have walked into town; however, the road is pretty narrow and no shoulder to speak of. Also we arrived at 4pm and we didn’t want to walk back in the dark.

Disembarkation: Very easy. I arranged transportation for 14 of us to get to the airport. We were given red #7 tags and got off the ship early. I could have slept in longer and just walked off the ship via deck 3, forward. It was very easy to find my luggage, as I did get off the ship a little later than the group so I didn’t have to wade through hundreds of pieces of luggage. I had to take my own bags outside because there were no porters to be found – they were on the far end helping those get onto the large Celebrity busses.

Summary: With the exception of the room problems I had on board the Galaxy and very cold weather in Odessa, I had a fabulous time! I had a great time in Rome, as well as in the various ports. I met a lot of wonderful and fun people, and really enjoyed the food on board the ship. I could have used a few more days at sea, as it was quite a “port intensive” itinerary. I will probably sail with Celebrity again, but I do plan to send them a letter of complaint. My biggest issue was with the two officers who could have rectified the problem in minutes, but instead let it drag on for 3 days. That just doesn’t sound like Celebrity it all and goes against their logo of being treated famously.

After a short rest and last minute packing I got ready for the evening. One last get together at the stratosphere lounge with my friends. Dinner was excellent!! Rack of lamb. I was waiting for this one meal, as the one on the Zenith last year was fabulous! This was too. The lamb was very tender and cooked the way I like it. After dinner, I met Cathy and Ed at the stratosphere but stayed for a short time. I was very tired and needed to get my luggage out into the hallway for pickup.

Overall I had a great time on the cruise despite the room problems. I met a lot of wonderful people, which I’m sure our friendship will continue for a long time.

Monica Pileggi

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