We recently returned from the May 13 cruise aboard the Xpedition in the Galapagos Islands. This was our 10th cruise—our 4th with Celebrity/Royal Caribbean. While my expectations were high, I was completely "blown away" by the experience—the best of my life.
The concept of a small ship with limited passengers; an informal atmosphere—casual dress, open seating, the opportunity to visit the bridge and engine room; the "all inclusive" format; the focus on well designed, varied and interesting daily activities—preceded by expertly presented, informative lectures, and conducted in small groups by friendly, well trained, knowledgeable naturalists created an experience that, in my view, is impossible to beat!
As great as that concept is, it was the crew that made the cruise "The Experience of a Lifetime". Everyone, from the Captain on down was friendly, competent, helpful and really wanted to please US and it showed! First, Master German Ponce and First Officer Jose Ma.Villavicencio, in addition to running a 'tight' ship, were most cordial, informative and patient with me whenever I visited the bridge and asked dumb questions. Chief Engineer Ivan Northia was equally gracious when we visited his "domain". Maitre D' Hotel Fernando Caicedo, in addition to being ever solicitous of our wishes in the dining room was most helpful in accommodating a group of us one evening. Hotel Director Niyazi Korkmaz and the competent young ladies in Guest Relations cheerfully helped us numerous times. Cruise Director Jason Heilmann did an incredible job preparing and presenting pre-activity lectures and flawlessly organizing and managing the ship activities. While every one of the Naturalists did an outstanding job, Jaime really stood out with his extensive knowledge of the Islands, his good humor and dry wit. We are indebted to the entire crew for making this cruise our most memorable! The CD gift of photos of the cruise was truly the 'frosting on the cake'.
I realize that the Xpedition is not a big money maker for the company but might I suggest that the dividends may extend well beyond? Consider, that with each cruise you have created a group of ambassadors who I assure you will be much more loyal to Celebrity than the usual cruise traveler and perhaps have considerably more influence in causing others to choose Celebrity Cruises. I would be very interested in doing this type of cruise in other parts of the world and hope that Celebrity is studying this idea. Finally, we really appreciate your support of the Galapagos Fund and the Save The Waves Program as well as your significant efforts to improve the environmental 'footprint' of the Xpedition.