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Celebrity Xpedition
Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Day 2: Sightseeing in Ecuador's Capital
Day 3: Embarking on Celebrity Xpedition
Day 4: Exploring San Cristobal
Day 5: Visiting Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island
Day 6: Swimming on Santa Cruz's Bachas Beach...or Not!
Day 7: Enjoying Fernandina Island
Day 8: Strolling the Beaches on Puerto Egas
Day 9: Today's Wacky Adventure -- Sending Mail from Floriana
Day 10: Returning to Quito...and Home.
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Day 7: Wednesday, Enjoying Fernandina Island
Enjoying Fernandina IslandWaking to brilliant sunshine and finally feeling the effects of a two-tours-a-day schedule, we decide to take the morning off and laze it away up on Deck 6, reading and snoozing on comfortable, well-cushioned sun beds. The top deck also holds an alfresco hot tub; there are showers, and a small gym overlooking the open deck equipped with large windows, steppers, stationary cycles, weights and a massage table. Beyond the gym is a mixed-sex sauna room.

None of this, however, has sufficient pull to tempt us from our sun beds; the Galapagos weather is too variable and the schedule too busy to waste a rare moment of lazy sunbathing time.

In the afternoon, we opt for the low-intensity tour -- a Zodiac ride around Fernandina Island, one of the world's most active volcanoes. The island is home to flightless cormorants, huge brown pelicans tending their strapping youngsters, and delightful pint-sized Galapagos penguins which stand stock-still and gaze calmly into our camera lenses, casual as professional models.

As always in the Galapagos, the volcanic landscape is as stunning as the wildlife. Fernandina, stark against a mother-of-pearl sky, is a symphony in monochrome, its solidified pools of lava and striated rock formations studded with by clusters of ferns, tall grasses and Scalesia shrubs.

Our gentle mosey round Fernandina's rocky coastline ends in a rather more dramatic high-speed dash out to deeper waters, in hot pursuit of a whale the Zodiac driver has spotted spouting in the distance.

By the time we get there, the whale is gone, but the exhilarating ride has brought color to our cheeks and given us a fine appetite for supper which, with advance notice and the co-operation of Celebrity Xpedition's excellent maitre d' and waiters, we have arranged to have served out on deck with our shipboard buddies Don and Sandra.

We keep our order simple -- good steak, decent wine, creme brulee and coffee -- but the starlit night and the provision of candles for our table makes the meal very special indeed. It's the perfect end to a relaxing day, and excellent preparation for the last "adventure" day of our cruise, when the ship visits Santiago Island before completing her roundtrip sailing with a return to Santa Cruz.
Day 6: Swimming on Santa Cruz's Bachas Beach...or Not! red arrow Day 8: Strolling the Beaches on Puerto Egas

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