We have cruised many venues and NONE compare to this adventure. The entire experience was First Class. Every detail was taken care of, and every expectation was met. This is an all inclusive cruise - we only paid for souvenirs, drinks at the Quito Marriott and airport taxes leaving Quito back to USA. Although tips are included, we did discretely tipped our favorite naturalist (you will find that if you take the same level of excursion - high, medium, low intensity - you will have the opportunity to have the same naturalist most of the time), waiter (although it was open seating we always went to Omar's table as we found him to be extremely attentive), bartenders (as they had a tendency to have our favorite drinks ready for us as they saw our Zodiac pull in from a scorching hot excursion), and our cabin maid - (she never missed a beat and always had our room in superb order, delivering clean towels, snacks, water bottles, and late night drinks). We suggest you consider budgeting tipping for outstanding service.
We were concerned about the quality of the food by reading previous reviews. DO NOT BE CONCERNED! The food was fabulous! Keep in mind this is not a big ship, and the items are limited, but wonderful. The steaks and veal were fork tender. The fish was very fresh. The specialty lunch buffets were very good with lots of variety. If you don't see something you like on the dinner, just ask for an alternative. There was always an option of shrimp cocktail for appetizer, Caesar Salad was also always available - even grilled chicken or shrimp on it for an alternative main course. The chef - Raul was very flexible for some guests. Although we never needed a main course substitution - there were guests with specific dietary needs that were given advanced menus to approve and make their choices. These guests were amazed at the attentiveness given to their needs and loved their meals - diabetic and gluten intolerance.
The excursions were fantastic. We seemed to always do the high intensity choices. If you are not in shape, all you need to do to get ready is treadmill three/four times a weeks for about six weeks, or walk regularly and opt for the stairs at work occasionally - and you can do it. There were 70 year olds making most of the high intensity walks - just doing it slower. All the naturalists are well versed in the Galapagos history, nature, and answer most questions readily and happily - they are mostly locals and very proud of their homeland. Unless you are ill, do not skip a single opportunity to go on an excursion - even if it is a low intensity Zodiac ride. You will never regret it - and you may regret not going. Be sure you bring GOOD shoes. We bought Timberline low ride hiking shoes that were light weight and had good tread. They were perfect for the dry landing hikes. We also bought Keen Teva water shoes. They look like tennis shoes with tread bottoms and cutouts to look like sandals with very good toe protection. Much to our delight, many naturalist were wearing them too when we came on board. These were invaluable for wet landings that included lava flow hikes that crossed wet beaches,pools and streams. We found these on our feet more than any other footwear.
We were very lucky. The weather was beautiful and NO RAIN! However, we heard stories of down pours from the naturalists. Bring a poncho. We had extremely hot days - it was 120F one day - Be sure to bring water with you on the excursions. Although the naturalist brings some on the Zodiac, it runs out quickly on the hot days. We brought a very light weight back pack to hold water bottles, our disposable rain ponchos, extra camera disks and batteries. This worked out great.
Batteries - Recharging them - There is only one 110 outlet in the room - and it was in the bathroom. There was several 220 outlets also in the room. If you need to recharge your PC (for downloading the 100's of pictures you will take), Camera Batteries, etc - bring a converter. We had to orchestrate the battery charging at night in order to be ready for the next day.
Our only complaint is that we had to go home. Eventually all things come to an end. This cruise is not for everyone - don't bring children under 12. Don't come if you can not get in and out of a Zodiac (raft type boat) easily. There is no other way to get on board - even at the beginning and the end of the cruise. Don't come if you don't like nature, lizards, and small ship rocking - there are NO stabilizers and the ship rocks back and forth alot. (If this bothers you, a cabin on the 3rd deck will rock much less than the 5th deck.) Don't expect big ship entertainment - but there is plenty of good dinner music, local cultural movies, presentations, and information presented.
BUT DO EXPECT TO HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!!! Thanks to Celebrity and the Crew of the Xpedition! We will never forget this experience.