Celebrity Xpedition Cruise Review by 802colorado: Wonderful Galapagos Experience - Rated 11 on a scale of 1 to 10
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Wonderful Galapagos Experience - Rated 11 on a scale of 1 to 10
What you have read in other reviews is quite accurate. Here is my perspective:
Celebrity planning - everything works like clockwork. Every detail is covered. Highly efficient and professional. You get what you pay for.
When we arrived at the Quito airport, we were NOT met by Celebrity staff. After waiting 20 minutes and looking around the airport for our greeting party, we went to the airport information desk for help. The CSR called the Marriott and was told someone would pick us up in an hour and one-half. Bummer, first glitch in the system. BUT, 10 minutes later two reps from Celebrity found us, apologized that they did not have our flight arrival information and provided us with a pre-paid taxi to the hotel...which is an hour away through heavy traffic. PROBLEM RESOLVED and better than the bus ride! Celebrity is forgiven.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were warmly greeted by Celebrity reps and provided a drink, a wash cloth for our face and our room More keys. Nice hotel, nice room but odd no facial tissues provided. Great gym and pool and buffet breakfast at the hotel is wonderful. In my opinion, 5 star. If you are a Marriott rewards member, don't forget to give your rewards number to the front desk staff so that you get credit for your stay.
Saturday Quito tour with guide (accompanied by security guard on each bus!) was very nice. Guide was well informed and the restaurants we went to for lunch and later dinner were great. Some people had problems with Quito's elevation. If you are not accustomed to 9,000 feet of elevation, talk to your doctor about what you need to prepare.
Saturday night - your bags must be packed and delivered to the Celebrity desk by 9:00 p.m.. Your luggage can weigh up to 44 pounds rather than what we read before - 40 pounds (there is a scale at the bag check room). Remove all "sharp" items from your carry-on, including small cuticle scissors. If they are not in your packed bag they will be seized by airport security. If you have items that you don't want to take to the ship, you can leave them at the hotel and pick them up when you return the next week. However, keep in mind, if you leave your bag, you have to come back to get it which proved to be inconvenient for one couple with a late Sunday night flight.
On a side-note, you'll find that you wear the same clothes multiple times. I over-packed t-shirts as I typically wore a long sleeve UPF50 fishing shirt that I could unbutton when hiking for ventilation. Most passengers were over 60 and didn't care what you or they wore and if you wore the same outfit more than once.
Sunday AM pick up tickets for the flight to Baltra. Highly efficient staff had everything ready. Although some information on the Celebrity pre-printed custom forms was inaccurate (my birth-date and passport number), CSR advised not making any hand written changes on the form as this will delay processing at the airport. Customs agent didn't notice and/or care about the discrepancy and we had no problems making it through. Waited in the VIP lounge until ready to board. Uneventful.
Arrived in Baltra, made it through customs without any problems and boarded buses for the short ride to the Zodiacs for the short trip to the ship. The "welcome wagon" was waiting for us the minute we boarded the Xpedition. Smiling faces ready to help us with our every need.
We had cabin 410..perfect. Our travel agent recommended this cabin because it is "dead-center" in the ship and on the floor where you exit the ship for excursions. The cabin was comfortable and functional and the bed comfortable. The ship DOES rock and roll from the waves, obviously the higher up, the more rock and roll. Many people were challenged with motion sickness! (even though I didn't get motion sickness, after 4 days being off the ship, I still have sea legs and some vertigo!) There is plenty of space beneath the bed to store your luggage. Our cabin attendant (Veronica) spent more time in the cabin than we did. It seemed like every time we stepped out, she stepped in to clean. Even though the trip was all inclusive, we did leave Veronica a $20 tip.
BITI, the Cruise Director was phenomenal, Carlos the Food and Beverage manager was great, the guides were outstanding, and the list goes on and on. Every staff member went out of their way to ensure that we had a great time. No one disappointed.
I'm a picky eater and I always found something good to eat at every meal. We became friends with another couple on the ship and they needed their food specially prepared, and the staff did so with a smile. I ate a lot of the beef and contrary to other comments I read, the beef was very good and tasted like what I eat in the states. if you are celebrating a birthday or other special event, tell the staff and they will provide a special cake (as if you'll need another dessert), but it was a nice touch for one couple at our table.
Drinks were readily available, both alcoholic and not. I don't drink alcohol, but my wife does and said the drinks were good and the wine very good. FYI - Most people didn't attend the evening entertainment, which was ok at best. The crew tried really hard to please everyone, so we went to the nightly shows for a short time just to show our appreciation for the crew's effort. However, Karaoke night was fun. The more alcohol the better the singing.
Star gazing on the top deck was quiet and nice, especially for the eclipse. Very few people spent time on the 6th deck, so we typically had it to ourselves. During the entire trip, only a few used the hot tub. The gym has 3 pieces of cardio - a bike, elliptical trainer and treadmill. All worked well and the room is well air conditioned. If you are over 5'10", you might have a hard time using anything but the bike, as your head will hit the low ceiling.
The evening excursion briefings were informative and accurately described the events for the next day. Biti did a great job and although everyone rushes up to sign the roster for the next day's excursions, you don't have to rush as there is plenty of room for everyone. We always took the long walks and all snorkeling adventures. Prepare yourself, they can be hot!!! Drink a lot of water, take plenty of water with you and GOOD sun protection. On a couple of islands, the horse flies and mosquitoes were bad, but nothing that a little repellant wouldn't cure. A couple of people suffered from heat exhaustion, usually the elderly and unfit. Take it slow and hydrate!
Never were we disappointed in our excursions! They were the highlight of the trip. We always took the long hike and did all snorkeling (we didn't go that far and pay that much not to take advantage of everything offered.) The wildlife viewing was phenomenal, the geology interesting, vegetation prickly, and the guides always well informed. If you can help it, don't miss any outing. The snorkeling was fun and a lot of interesting creatures were visible...rays, sharks, turtles, sea lions, etc.
We took a 220/110 power adapter so that I could charge my camera batteries, otherwise there are minimal outlets in the room. Depending on your needs, a power strip might come in handy but might take up too much room and baggage weight. If you want your shoes and clothing to dry, go up to the 6th deck and lay your clothes out in the sun! Otherwise, they won't. Don't waste your time bringing your own clothesline.
If you are glued to your mobile device (which I didn't use), I heard due to the number of people online at the same time, bandwidth is taxed. Using the internet early in the am (prior to 6:30) seemed to work better for those who needed it.
We didn't use the service of the massage therapist, but I heard she was good. She did lead the 6:45 am exercise class and knew her stuff.
This was probably the best trip of our life!
However, even though I was very careful selecting what I ate and drank, I got sick Friday night with some sort of GI ailment and had a fever, body aches, diarrhea (sounds like the 10 plagues), etc. I and about 20 other people got sick during the week. I tried to go on the trip to the Darwin center, got there and didn't have the strength to make it around and back to the dock. The guides got me a taxi to the dock and then had a Zodiac pick me up and take me to the ship. The doctor on board was waiting for me as I got off the Zodiac, treated me and gave me medication. (No charge for anything.) Early in the week when the ship staff learned people had a GI problem, they went into action by serving each guest at the buffet rather than allowing people to serve themselves and enforcing the hand sanitizer. Take Imodium, Cipro, etc. with you just in case.
On Saturday night after the final staff good-byes and slide presentation, it seemed as if some of the ship staff were detached and were thinking about the next group of people coming on-board the next day rather than attending to the existing guests. Nothing to complain about, but a number of us noticed a slight change in demeanor. All bags have to be packed and ready to go Saturday night for staff to pick up from the hallway for Sunday's departure. Remember, no sharp items in your carry-on.
Staff is already cleaning the ship by 8:00 a.m. Sunday in preparation for the next boat-load of guests to arrive. We hadn't vacated the room and Veronica had already made her first appearance to clean.
We boarded the Zodiacs, caught the bus to the airport, and then wandered through the shops at the airport, passed through customs, waited in the VIP lounge and then caught the flight to Quito. Everything was uneventful and operated like clock-work. Arrived in Quito, made it through immigration and customs, caught the bus to the Marriott and for those interested, another shopping excursion was available that evening. Dinner was provided in the hotel (had the food been even luke-warm, it would have been good, but it was cold. But, we were too tired to complain and had an early flight and just wanted to go to bed.)
Monday breakfast was available at 5:00, bus ride to the airport at 5:30, no issues in immigration and customs, and flew to Miami then home.
Overall on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent, I would give this trip an 11! Celebrity staff were outstanding and the trip exceeded our expectations.
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