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Galaxy 2007 – Day 1

Well, a long and tiring day. We rose in our Heathrow hotel at 3:45(!) in order to get a taxi at 4:45, in order to check in at 5:05 for our flight to Rome at 7:05. No problems encountered, just the usual Heathrow palaver, including two security checks. We arrived at Rome at 10:45 or so Rome time, queued for ages to get through passport control, then found our bags and a Celebrity rep in quick order. After a bit of a delay hanging around in the terminal we were shown to an already almost full coach, with a lot of obviously very tired and very hot passengers who had just flown in from the US that morning. The weather in Rome was very hot (above 90 degrees) and humid, and the bus’s airconditioning didn’t seem to be working. At about 20 minutes to 12 we set off, and were going well until about 45 minutes later when, at the Civitavecchia South exit on the motorway, the coach headed straight through the toll gateway, the barrier went up, and then dropped back down straight in front of the coach. Result: Coach 1, Toll Barrier nil. Unfortunately however the driver then had to wait for the police to arrive so he could report it, and this took about 35 minutes; and by the end of this time some passengers who had earlier decided that they could get to Civitavecchia without using the restrooms at Leonardo da Vinci airport were discovering the error of that decision. So a further pause ensued while people were allowed off to, err, answer nature’s call.
We eventually arrived at the quayside at 1:45, about 2 hours after leaving the airport. After that, actual embarkation went very smoothly – we were on the ship in 10 minutes or so. That free glass of fizz was especially welcome.
First report on Galaxy’s condition: the refurbishment work (carpets, general painting, etc) is obvious, and she looks in better condition cosmetically than last year. With one sad exception, however: the windows in the Stratosphere Lounge, the far-famed Portals of Obscurity, have not been replaced and in fact look worse than a year ago. Not so good, that one.
Later: one thing we have noticed, and which was reinforced as we were waiting to go to dinner, is that the age range this summer seems much wider than last year (we did almost the same cruise last year, but in early June). This year there seem to be many more younger people, including some groups of young adults & adolescents. Also more children.
Dinner was good, as we expected. Our dinner companions include a couple from Perth, Western Australia, and another couple from Ottowa, Canada (although the man is actually from Italy). We had some good conversation. But we were tired after the long day & didn’t linger.
Tomorrow promises to be hot for our afternoon in Taormina, from Messina, where Galaxy will dock at noon.

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