We left Toronto and flew to Miami on American Airlines. After spending four hours in Miami, we left for Quito at 6 pm. At 8:30 we were back in Miami, for what was said to be a quick instrument repair. This turned into a change of planes, and after luggage was transferred and reboarding was complete we were on our way to Quito again. We arrived just after 3 am, and were quickly transferred to our hotel. The Celebrity representative told us the city tour was to start at 9 in the morning, but we could decide what time we wanted to go. There were eight of us on that late flight, and we decided that we could be ready by ten o'clock. We were very glad to reach our room, which was spacious and well-appointed. Because we were Captain's Club members we were upgraded to the executive level, which offered a few extra benefits, but we were not too concerned about that at 4 am.
We met in the lobby at ten the next morning, and boarded a mini bus for the tour. We had a walking tour of the old city, with some impressive churches and other buildings then met up with the rest of the group for lunch at a restaurant on the edge of an extinct volcano. From there we drove to the "Middle of the Earth" for the obligatory Equator photos! That evening we had dinner at the Theatricum Restaurant where we were entertained by a tenor while we enjoyed a meal with wine.
On Sunday morning we had to have our cases outside the room by 7 am, then we had breakfast and were bussed to the airport for the flight to Baltra. The flight was uneventful and the airport was a very short distance from the port so we were on board right on time. The Xpedition doesn't dock in the Islands, so Zodiacs are used for every landing.
Other reviewers have detailed the excursions so I will not repeat these, except to say that the variety and proximity of the wildlife exceeded our expectations. We usually took the high intensity options, but did not find them to be too strenuous. (We are in our middle sixties and of average fitness.) The intensity level was determined by the terrain and length of the hike, but since we stopped frequently to see wild life the distance was not an issue.
After the morning excursion we usually headed up to the hot tub to relax. The first time we stopped in the bar to order cappuccinos and the waiter offered to bring them up for us. After that, each morning when we returned he greeted us with "Cappuccinos in the hot tub?" and brought them for us.
Some reviewers have found dinner service to be slow. We considered it to be leisurely! Although there were no assigned seats for dinner, we formed a group of ten and the waiters set us the same table each night. We enjoyed chatting with our new friends and were often the last table to leave the dining room because the conversation was flowing so freely. The choice of food was not as varied as on a larger cruise ship, but there were three or four entrees each evening and all were well prepared.
This cruise was truly all-inclusive. Excursions, tips, and wine with meals were all included. in Quito as well as on the ship. Bar drinks were also included on the ship, so apart from some small purchases from the shop, we only paid for laundry. Service was excellent and we were looked after every step of the way. We returned to the JW Marriott in Quito for one night before heading home. Our flight home was early so we left the hotel at five in the morning.
This was truly the experience of a lifetime. The only thing that would stop me going again is the fact that there is still a lot of the world that I haven't seen yet.