Monday, August 13, 2007

S.S. Galaxy Review: The Cruise Ship of Second Life

One of my fondest, more recent memories in this life is my seven day cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. In Second Life I’ve been able to match that fond memory to the S.S. Galaxy. The Galaxy is a cruise ship built by a very talented avatar by the name of Bill Stirling. She Spans 3 Sims long and is composed of more than 40,000 prims. Prims are the actual “building blocks” used to make something in Second Life i.e. a chair takes four parts to make, each Sim holds 15000 prims so if you do the math the ship almost takes up every available prim with around 5000 to spare. I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of lag all over the ship, more often worse in the stern section of the ship, in my state room I sometimes have difficulty walking, but in the stern it will lock my system up completely and even cause the game to crash. For the sake of this review and I’ve already invested a quite a bit of money into living aboard the Galaxy for a few weeks I have lowered my quality settings, and draw distance to try and prevent or retard the effects of the lag.

I’ve rented Suite #0415 which is a two story state room taking up decks four and five, they rent for $1000L a week and give you 300 prims to use for furniture, pose balls, and pictures. They also have a smaller 1 floor suites on deck three that rent for $650L a week with 200 prims, and in the Bow of the ship they have suits that take up decks three, four, and five for $3500L a week with 1000 prims to use, and there also appears to be furnished suites for the staff and crew on the fourth and fifth decks in the stern, as well as Captain suites in the Bow. During my stay I’ve noticed that the suites are 30% to 50% rented, mostly my time on board has been between 1 A.M. Second Life Time (SLT) and 3 P.M. SLT, and I’ve noticed that the traffic is not heavy but there always seem to be people other than staff exploring the vessel. As far as residence go I have started a friendship with Tiffani who rented a room on the third deck with her Second Life boyfriend the same day I had moved in. They’re renting a room on board as they are in the process of building a Second Life dream home.

As the review begins we’ll start at the stern, Galaxy AFT sim, which is where you would teleport into if you were to search the S.S. Galaxy. You board from dock and as the doors swish open with a Star Trek effect you enter the reception lobby where they’ve literally rolled out the red carpet welcome to their guests. There’s a hospitality desk with note cards about renting information and events going on during the week, also a link to a website which informs you what suites are available for rent. The lobby can only be described as a mimic of a five star hotel, complete with the first of many bars aboard the Galaxy. The rest of the first deck stern is quite a large shopping mall which continues directly up on the second deck, and this is the area where I lag the worse and often causes the game to crash. The stern section also includes a small billiards bar on the second deck, a movie theater, which I haven’t seen anything playing at yet, on the fifth deck, a solon that sales hair and the Rainbow Café gourmet coffee shop are on the fourth deck. Then you get to the top, deck 6, and you find what makes fighting the lag in the stern worth it, the Zodiac Ballroom, a domed grand ballroom and dance floor, by the event listings I can tell most of the events aboard the Galaxy are held here. It has a very magical presence from the time when you enter the room, and in spite of the lag the room is still filled when events take place. Also, being a gun toting Texan, I appreciate the skeet shoot at the edge of the sim before you cross over to mid ship.

Venturing to Mid ship and the second sim that the Galaxy sits on, the first stop is the ship’s Constellation Lounge and Art Gallery. The Constellation Lounge reminds me a lot of the Jazz bar on the Rhapsody of the Seas, the ship I had taken my real world cruise on. It’s a good sized dance bar with another dance area in the center of the ships aisle, but I’m not sure if they’re two separate areas or if it’s an extension of the Constellation Lounge. Then you have the art gallery, Nova S. Straaf Gallery, to be exact, the art is quite nice, a bit pricey for Second Life art, but I’m not really an art expert, however, I have bought my fair share in the past. You can also find Holodeck in the mid section sim of the ship, I’ve seen these types of places before, it basically puts you in a box with some sort of seating, cuddling, or laying poses and textures the walls floor and ceiling with a landscape of your choosing, such as, forest, under sea, mountains, city ect. The last part of the first deck of the mid ship sim is the atrium, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the ship and it covers the nature lover’s needs of the experience, littered with grassy knolls and water features this part of the ship is very calming, and can be really romantic. Decks three through five mid ship hold the state rooms or Suites as they’re labeled which anyone can rent while they’re available. Deck six hold the last mid ship features, an ice skating rink where you can purchase or bring your own ice or roller skates, and the pool area which has a trick filled diving board, water slide, sun bathing catwalks, and a dance area where they often have a live DJ in the evenings.

Now we have the bow/Forward sim, this area not as active as the aft of the ship, but still houses many beautiful features of the Galaxy. Starting at the top this time, deck seven holds the Starlight Lounge, which is a sitting area with a few dance poses, and on deck six you can find the bridge of the Galaxy which visitors have full access to, a large wedding chapel, and a reception/ conference hall. The large V.I.P. suites which can be rented by anyone and the Captain’s suite are on decks five through three. When you get to the first deck you can find the clothing optional work out room and spa, which has a sauna, steaming pool, a few pieces of gym equipment, tanning beds, and don’t forget your free his or hers towel. Next to the Spa is the Bamboo Garden Japanese restaurant, which has been very nicely done and would easily outdo any real world sushi bar. It has two dining areas as well as a bar, not to mention a very authentic looking Japanese landscape between the bar and the dining areas. The last place to visit on the bow of the ship is the Boiler Room Club, the décor is actually set up to look like the boiler room in the bowels of the ship, except with a dance floor, bar, and cat walk seating.

The S.S. Galaxy has lots of other features to that are very nice, from the comfortable seating and poses sprawled out across the ship, to the real working elevators or use the optional grand stair cases, but the ship is just a material item, what really makes this place wonderful are the events and crew. Granted, due to the hours I work I wasn’t able to interact with too many people, the ones I did were always pleasant, helpful and polite. Even with security issues the crew was quick to react to any complaints and from what I could tell handled each situation professionally. I was able to make one event, a live music event in the Zodiac Ballroom, Miss Carmen Roeth, a very talented lady, and it did get laggy as one might expect but it still had the grace that would be expected from such a beautiful environment. As far as the lag goes, I had mentioned it in the beginning of this review, however as time went on the lag seemed to decrease, I have been told by a few people that it tends to have a lot of lag on these three sims, but from personal experience the lag was only unbearable the first few days and that may have something to do with the voice feature just introduced into Second Life. I have enjoyed my stay aboard the Galaxy and intend on staying a bit longer, I would recommend this as a place to live for anyone who is not looking for privacy but a beautiful place to live. The lag would be something to monitor so I’d suggest trying it for a week to see how your game play is effected, and even if you’re looking for somewhere different to hang out visitors are always welcome aboard the Queen of the Sagittarian Sea.

Related Links:
S.S. Galaxy Landmark

S.S. Galaxy Room Availability


  1. Wonderful job, you are so detailed about everything....

  2. I agree, the descriptions are spot on, I was lucky enough to take the tour..wonderful place despite the lag..HUGE place to explore and you really do get the sense that you are on a cruise. Wonderful post indeed. :)