We decided to do Celebrity's 13-day package. It starts with two nights in Quito, moves to seven nights on the Xpedition, then continues with one night in Lima, three nights in Cusco, and a last night in Lima. We wanted to make the trip as worry-free as possible -- and that's exactly what we got.
We are in our late 60s and this was our 20th cruise. The other 19 are not the same as this! Picture a ship with no elevators (although only four decks to traverse). Picture you, exploring on walks and panga rides that are truly unique. Different! Wonderful!
Our flight into Quito arrived about 6:30 on Friday night, an ideal time if you can manage it. After that, we were totally taken care of, except for dinner that night. Excellent tour guides, great hotels, outstanding meals in the hotels and included restaurants, and the seven-day Xpedition adventure of a lifetime.
The ship is small and not luxurious -- but much nicer than I expected. The food was going to be mediocre but often it was much better than that. The service for the most part was lovely. Six of the seven naturalists were excellent. The cruise director is a past naturalist and does a very accurate job of describing the next day's activities. Even after you make your choice, go to her with any question and she can help you with answering any questions or concerns.
Most of the excursions (two per day, plus an extra one for deep-water snorkeling on one or two occasions) started with a sea lion welcome as we disembarked from our pangas and a welcome back to the ship with a cold washcloth. We joked that the sea lion would be rewarded later with a treat from the naturalists, but really they just happen to be -- all over!
We saw wildlife and scenery galore. I mean, galore. Even though we had really high expectations, there are no guarantees -- and our expectations were met and exceeded. How about when one of us used the video feature on our camera for the first time -- to get a two-minute clip of two blue-footed boobies doing their mating dance! To be so fortunate to see that -- beyond our expectations.
We learned about the history. We enjoyed the hot tub and one of us enjoyed the treadmill. We attended the various early afternoon enrichment while the Xpedition repositioned to the next anchor spot. There are two itineraries, which alternated, inner loop one week, outer loop the next. We took the inner loop and were extremely fortunate with good weather. We hope to be able to do the outer loop in a few years if we stay healthy enough. I might even try harder to learn, in advance, how to enjoy snorkeling.
Quito was all extremely well done, and Peru (Lima, Cusco, Hiram Bingham train and Machu Picchu) was the most outstanding land tour a person could want. Five star hotels, lovely meals, wonderful tour director and guides, and the incredible Machu Picchu all added up to an all-inclusive, worry free trip. Pampered is the best way to describe how we felt for this entire 13-day journey, but especially the Peru portion.
The only minor "flaws" are the challenges of the altitude and the mildly rough seas, and the sudden realization that I had not taken full advantage of my very few shopping opportunities. But the memories we brought home -- priceless.