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94 Celebrity Expedition Cruise Reviews

We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in there hands until we returned to the JW Marriott in Quito a week after boarding the ship. All aspects of the trip were well done, and every one of the Celebrity folks was helpful, and easy to work with. The naturalists were knowledgeable, interesting, and really enhanced each excursion. Also as others have said, the excursions are why you sign up for this cruise. Others on this board really helped me decide what to pack and what to leave home. I strongly suggest you get a list of items to pack and follow it - especially the wide brim hats, shoes, long sleeve shirts (for sun), and sunblock (at least SPF 50). My wife and I are 66 and 67 respectively and in reasonably good shape with minimal problems getting around. That said, we were pretty tired by the end of the week. As explained in other posts, the daily itinerary follows the same pattern - a morning excursion, back to the boat by lunch, and an afternoon excursion. Almost all of the excursions have an easier and more challenging flavor. We did the more challenging on all but a couple, which involved long, climbing walks... The snorkeling also comes in two flavors - "off the beach", which is exactly as it sounds, and deep water - which is where you are taken by zodiac to the snorkeling spot and jump in off the zodiac. Water is too deep to stand, and currents can be much stronger. Water temperature was about 74 - 77, and Celebrity provides wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins. One suggestion - bring some sort of book/app/device that will help you identify constellations. Star gazing is outstanding - no light pollution. I give the trip 5 stars because the excursions were well done and the experience on the ship was very good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had gone on the Celebrity Xpedition for an inner loop trip a few years ago and we wanted to do the outer loop this time and then go on to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. On this trip, we went with 4 other couples. We flew into Quito, ... Read More
We had gone on the Celebrity Xpedition for an inner loop trip a few years ago and we wanted to do the outer loop this time and then go on to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. On this trip, we went with 4 other couples. We flew into Quito, Ecuador from Atlanta and were met by Celebrity guide. She was great and had our luggage collected and on the bus to Marriott hotel withing 45 minutes of arrival. The hotel was great, food really good and service wonderful. Celebrity had people available throughout our stay to make sure we had the correct paperwork, tickets, luggage, etc. The tour of Quito was very good and buses were comfortable. Transfer to the airport, flight from Quito to Baltra, and transfer to ship were fairly smooth. Two problems: First, we had to leave for the airport at 6:00 because of Quito airport runway repairs. This meant early arrival to Baltra and waiting for ship to be ready for us. Baltra did provide a waiting room with drinks and snacks, but extremely hot. Second problem was luggage. We had been told by Celebrity to pack a separate suitcase for extension to Machu Pichu and leave this suitcase at hotel in Quito. When we got to Quito, we were told we would have to take extra suitcase with us. This meant paying extra luggage fees of $45 per suitcase. The ship and cabin and staff were amazingly wonderful. Our cabin, 504, had a balcony, but we seldom used it except to dry clothes. The large outside area on deck 5 had very comfortable seating, great views and all our friends had room to join us there. Staff brought food and drinks to us frequently. Wonderful space. 2 or 3 changes of clothes were needed each day because of heat and humidity so we used the ship's laundry twice. Some did laundry in room, but this meant a cabin full of wet clothes. The food was great and plentiful. Meals were served in main dining room. Lunch was also served at grill on Deck 3 and Dinner was served, with reservations, on Deck 4. Most of our group was too tired at end of day and I have no idea about evening entertainment. There was something each evening after dinner, but I missed it all. Before dinner was a naturalist talk about the next day's activities, These were very well done and extremely useful. Advice was given as to difficulty, activity level, best clothes and shoes, insect repellent, and water. The excursions were as described and the best part of trip. These are the reasons we went on trip, and they did not disappoint us at all. I would do this again if there weren't so many other places to visit! Machu Pichu extension: Most of this trip was great, including fabulous hotel and food, excellent guides (Thank you Ronald and Aracelli), and amazing sites to visit. I climbed about 100 stone steps to top of Sun Temple, and Ronald had to help me get back down. Two problems with the extension: First, the flight from Baltra to Quito stayed on the runway for nearly an hour with no air conditioning and nothing cool to drink. Service was terrible throughout the flight. One of my traveling companions passed out from heat and dehydration and was unresponsive for several minutes. The flight attendants did nothing to help, not even getting ice or cold water. Luckily there were several doctors on board who took control and got what was needed. Other passengers provided whatever was asked. There was a 4 hour layover in Quito before our flight to Lima. We had access to the VIP lounge, so the wait was not terrible, but it did add hours to our long day of travel. Second problem was location of hotel in Lima. We had to drive over an hour to hotel in the horrible traffic of Lima. This meant we arrived at hotel after 10pm, too late for dinner. Up early the next morning for the drive in Monday rush hour traffic back to the airport for flight to Cuzco. Why not use the airport hotel and save all this time? The hotels were amazing and I would have been happy to vacation in any one of them. Just walking through the hotels was an adventure. The train ride to Machu Pichu was incredibly beautiful, dinner on the train coming back was even better. Machu Pichu was more beautiful than expected. Walking and climbing was difficult at times and a walking stick was quite helpful, as was my husband's arm. I did not like the cafeteria for lunch, it was crowded and smelled badly. I'm not sure if there were any alternatives, it may have been best place available. I did like the beer. We visited the Sun Temple on 3rd day in Peru, another difficult climb but also amazingly beautiful and worth the climb to top. I forgot climbing poles and relied on Ronald and husband to get me down. I did not care for the pottery stop, or the llama farm and shopping stops. Others of the group did like them, but I would have preferred more time at the Sun Temple. Our Cuzco tour was excellent, the hotel was a treat. This was my favorite vacation ever and I am so very lucky to have been able to do this. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Celebrity runs a top notch operation in the Galapagos. From our arrival to departure we were well taken care of! The tour guides were informative on land and the naturalist offered their vast knowledge on the islands. The whole tour runs ... Read More
Celebrity runs a top notch operation in the Galapagos. From our arrival to departure we were well taken care of! The tour guides were informative on land and the naturalist offered their vast knowledge on the islands. The whole tour runs like a well oiled machine....with safety of the passengers always present. The ship is smaller than any I have ever cruised on, but perfect for this location. Lack of internet is a issue I think Celebrity needs to address in this day and time. I'm sure almost all passengers would be willing to pay for a high speed internet package. The food was typical cruise fare....good, but not highly seasoned! I found the seafood to be the best choice almost every night! The beef was not good and lacked flavor! The Dinner Under the Stars was disappointing! The menu is the same every night that Dinner Under the Stars is offered. Service was slow and sketchy! I would not book that option if I went again. The service in the dining room was also slow and spotty.....Dinner almost always taking almost two hours. The crew was great, always greeting us and taking care of our needs! The charter flight out to Baltra was good and I did upgrade to First Class. We checked off almost every creature on the Galapagos list! Snorkeling was excellent and I urge everyone to do the Deep Water Snorkeling...it was the best! The zodiac rides along the coast were an enjoyable change from the hiking. Information was given every day regarding the excursion and the clothes, shoes, rain gear, sunscreen, and bug spray needed! We had rain only one day and hardly ever felt a bug. Sunscreen was a must...Hot! Hot! Hot! On our final day in Quito we picked the Spa option and it turned out to be the Piece de Resistance to our whole trip! After the rigorous excursions....a spa day was the perfect ending! I would highly recommend! This was truly the trip of a lifetime and I checked it off my bucket list! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
If you're looking at the Galapagos then you understand you are paying for access to one of the most remote and extraordinary places in the world. The Xpedition is NOT a high-end luxury cruise ship - it is an EXPEDITION class ship, so ... Read More
If you're looking at the Galapagos then you understand you are paying for access to one of the most remote and extraordinary places in the world. The Xpedition is NOT a high-end luxury cruise ship - it is an EXPEDITION class ship, so understand the difference and manage your expectations. It is however all-inclusive, extremely comfortable and has a crew that is phenomenal. Having just returned from this trip I can honestly say I'm extremely glad I did tons of research before booking--my family believe we chose the best trip for us. Be sure you understand the level of physical activity required---its really HOT, and humid, and you need good balance and mobility to deal with many stairs, getting on/off moving zodiacs, and hikes on various types of terrain including large, uneven lava rocks and sand. We were especially glad we chose one of the largest ships cruising the Galapagos--my husband and I got motion sickness as did many other passengers - I didn't believe it would be a problem on such a large ship, supposedly in the calmest season--WRONG. Consider getting a patch before you leave and head off any problems. Dr. Mary, the onboard physician, was great in visiting my room and providing fast-acting medication and advice: avoid alcohol, and drink lots of juice, water and soft drinks. PACK LIGHT! Our family of four each took only rollaboards and were able to keep our luggage with us instead of turning it in the night before departure in Quito and upon return on Sunday. The Laundry charges on the Xpedition are incredibly reasonable---$1 for a pair of socks and $2-3 for a shirt ,pants or shorts. Back the next day or same day with a surcharge. Total charge for all four of us for the week, less than $100--totally worth it! I'd recommend three pairs of lightweight pants with zip-off legs, t-shirts and lightweight long-sleeve shirts with UV protection. STAY AWAY FROM RED/PINK AND ORANGE clothing for excursions---some wasps are attracted to these colors! Some people changed to nicer clothes for dinner (khaki pants/polo shirts for men and capris or sundresses for women) We did not and did not feel out of place. Teva or Keen closed-toe water sandals are perfect, but if you're more comfortable with traditional hiking boots for difficult/uneven terrain, then wear water sandals for wet landings and change once onshore. The Xpedition supplies large brown towels in your cabin for snorkeling and beach activities. Do consider packing one-way snorkels if you plan on enjoying the opportunity - choppy water can quickly make you sick if you swallow too much saltwater. Recommend 2 bathing suits as putting on a wet one is difficult - Celebrity provides regular snorkels, fins, masks, wetsuits and float vests if you desire. Yes the ocean feels cold but once you're in the water the wetsuits provide excellent buoyancy and warmth--I'm very cold-blooded and I was fine. Deep water snorkeling requires good swimming skills and the crew frowns on float vests in these instances. Know your limits! The sun on the equator is unbelievably intense---take a wide-brim hat with a chin-strap you can tighten (its windy!), 2 pairs of polarized sunglasses (in case you lose or break one), water-resistant high SPF sunblock and apply it regularly, ditto sunblock for your lips. SPF 60 sunblock at the Quito Marriott was $26, and SPF 80 sunblock was $20 at the Quito airport--pick some up before your flight to Baltra. The Xpedition has a VERY limited shop onboard, mostly hats, sunblock and clothing---pack carefully since you might not visit a town until the end of your tour. Biodegradable shampoo/conditioner/body wash and bars of soap are supplied in all cabins of the Xpedition, as are cotton balls/cotton swabs, sewing kit and bath/hand towels and wash cloths. One nice terry robe and two pairs of terry slippers in our clothes closet Also necessities: Bug spray with DEET, lightweight rain poncho, and I'd recommend a small, lightweight headlamp for watching the numerous animals which are active at night around the boat (sharks, sea lions, turtles, fish, birds, etc) A Monocular (as opposed to binoculars---the ones in each room aren't that great and its much easier to focus one eye on a moving ship or zodiac than two) underwater video/still shot camera for snorkeling, small backpack for taking stuff on daily walks/excursions. At least one pair of socks to wear with boots provided for tree-planting and tortoise ranch. Can't say enough about the Xpedition's crew: their level of customer service is simply outstanding--its essentially 'whatever you want, whenever you want' There were at least 8 choices (each) of appetizer/starters, mains/entrees and desserts each night for dinner---most were very good with a few misses. Red and white wine offered with dinner but the wait staff would bring you a cocktail , champagne, soft drink/iced tea or whatever you desired. Its important to keep in mind that you are 800 MILES from the coast where much of the ship's supplies are coming from--remember this if you feel something isn't quite 5 star quality. Make a reservation to tour the bridge (interesting) and to dine under the stars at least one night for dinner, and don't miss the daily briefing before dinner where you will learn about the next days' activities and excursions and sign up for your choice. TV in the rooms offered 4 movie channels (not on-demand) and several Galapagos documentaries on a loop - the latter were excellent and added to our experience. Board games were also available in the lounge - WiFi is dreadfully slow and you should just expect to be without it for the duration while at sea/out of port. My husband got me a one-hour massage for my birthday which was fantastic - and a bargain at $90 (plus discretionary tip) Work-out room is very small, but hot tub on top deck is good size and popular! We liked our Junior Suite Cabin - which offered a full-size (NOT Queen) bed and twin-size sofa bed which was also very comfortable - nice linens and the air con sufficiently cooled the room. We LOVED our private balcony which allowed us to sit outside in the morning with coffee or at night under the endless stars on display. Would've been nice to have a coffee maker in the room but it was available from 6 am on each morning on the aft deck, just a few steps away from our room. Nice small mini-fridge which was stocked with various soft drinks and water. A small plate of sliced fresh fruits showed up in our room after the morning excursions, and a few small amuse-bouche-size appetizers appeared in the afternoon. A bottle of champagne the day of arrival and another bottle of cabernet sauvignon later in the week. Wonderful Ecuadorian chocolates on our pillows every night with turn-down service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The Galapagos was on my bucket list. My college roommate and I had booked this cruise and waited 2.5 years for it to come to fruition. We had a great time, however both of us and our husbands got sick in Quito. As part of the ... Read More
The Galapagos was on my bucket list. My college roommate and I had booked this cruise and waited 2.5 years for it to come to fruition. We had a great time, however both of us and our husbands got sick in Quito. As part of the cruise-tour, we ate where Celebrity took us. Both our husbands got sick just before they embarked on the Xpedition. My roommate and I got sick at the end of the tour after eating salad at the Marriott. I believe the food on the ship was safe. The food on the ship was okay. It was not the same quality as what you would find on a regular Celebrity ship. Our room was comfortable and quiet. It was nice to roll out of bed, walk down the hallway to breakfast. I found the staff on the ship to be pleasant and enjoyed being with a small group of people. The Naturalists were good. Some were better than others. With the exception of getting sick, we had a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We were not interested in the Quito add-on portion which is normally sold along with the cruise, so against the advice of a Celebrity Onboard Sales Rep, as well as several cruise critic posters, we booked the seven night only option, and ... Read More
We were not interested in the Quito add-on portion which is normally sold along with the cruise, so against the advice of a Celebrity Onboard Sales Rep, as well as several cruise critic posters, we booked the seven night only option, and we are glad we did. We enjoyed a trip of a lifetime, and like Frank, did our way. We left LAX on the Thursday before the cruise was to begin. We flew into Guayaquil (GYE) and spent the night (or half of it) at the Sheraton a half mile from the airport. We then flew to GPS Friday morning. We booked two nights at the Galapagos Suites, a lovely B&B which I highly recommend. We arranged airport pickup and were met at the airport by the taxi driver regularly used by GS. He helped us with our luggage as we boarded the bus (free) which would take us from GPS (Baltra Airport) to the canal. There we boarded the ferry which took us from Seymour Island to Santa Cruz Island (cost $1). We then were driven in a pickup (our cab) to GS ($38). We spent two nights in Puerto Ayora exploring the town, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center, and also Tortuga Bay (home to a lovely beach and lots of marine iguanas- if you are lucky, you may see sea turtles swimming in the bay as well). As luck would have it, another couple who was sailing on the Xpedition was also staying at GS. We shared a cab (the same pickup and driver)- this time being dropped off at the canal since by this time we knew what to expect and didn't need help with our luggage ($18 total for four people). We then took the ferry back across and boarded the bus which brought us back to the airport. We got there way before anyone from Celebrity arrived, and the airport personnel directed us to the VIP Lounge where the Celebrity guests gather before leaving the airport. Finally, the rest of the passengers arrived on two different planes, including the charter. One guest fell in front of the entrance to the Lounge and had to be helped in. Two passengers arrived in wheelchairs. I didn't notice any of the passengers using wheelchairs while onboard, however, please remember before booking this cruise, this is an adventure cruise- "it is a trip- not a vacation" as a fellow passenger described it. You will be walking on lava rocks sharp enough to tear your shoes (I should know), walking on other uneven surfaces, and climbing across terrain which quite frankly I wouldn't think to walk across if a naturalist wasn't guiding me. This is definitely NOT a typical Celebrity cruise, so please, do your research on it before booking if you have mobility issues or health concerns. We left the lounge in small groups and were taken by bus to the other side of Seymour Island where we boarded Zodiacs which would take us to the Xpedition. We enjoyed a buffet lunch, a mandatory boat drill, the distribution of our snorkeling gear, and a circumnavigation of Daphne Major. Dinner was in the Darwin Restaurant and music in the Discovery Lounge (talented guitar player). Each day there was a morning excursion and an afternoon excursion. Monday on Espanola Island (one of the islands Darwin did not visit) included a beach walk and an optional beach swim or snorkel. In the afternoon, you chose either a long walk on rocks or a short walk on rocks and sand. Tuesday was spent on Floreana Island and included an easy walk and optional beach snorkeling in the morning and a visit to the Post Office Bay in the afternoon to see the old barrel. There was an optional advanced snorkeling activity to Champion Island. We did the beach snorkel and watched a sea turtle eat, so cute! Wednesday was Isabela Island with a choice between a long walk on volcanic rock or a shorter walk in the morning and either a long walk or short walk with optional beach snorkeling in the afternoon. The long walk was a fitness walk with few stops for pictures. I could do that at home, so DH and I chose the short walk which was flat and easy and allowed for photos. Thursday was spent on Fernandina and Isabela Islands with a long or short walk on lava rocks and an optional deep water snorkel recommended for experienced snorkelers only. We swam with two sea lions- so fun! In the afternoon there was an optional deep water snorkel recommended for experienced snorkelers only. We skipped that one. In the later afternoon, we took a Zodiac ride along the cliffs and coastline. Friday we returned to Santa Cruz Island visiting South Plaza Island with easy walk choices and a rockier trail to Dragon Hill, where we didn't see many animals (three flamingos and a few types of finches, but we did enjoy the peace and quiet. Very tranquil location. Saturday was spent visiting the Charles Darwin Station and planting trees in the highlands where we saw the Giant Tortoises in the wild. We also had a lovely buffet lunch at a ranch and local dancers performed for us. We asked various dinner companions who had gone on the Quito portion what we had missed. One passenger said that we did miss out, but when pressed for one thing that we missed in particular, he said "a city with three million people". Another passenger said we missed going downhill too fast on buses on narrow streets, and two passenger said we missed seeing the Equator exhibit and several churches. So, sorry Quito, but for us, it sounds like we saw more, and enjoyed more experiences in Puerto Ayora. The ship was nicer than I expected. Everyone was so nice. The dinners were tough for vegetarians, but I always found something to eat. The cabin was small, but we liked it. If you are interested in the three cheapest cabins, book well in advance as we did and save $1000 or so per couple. On Sunday morning, we were taken by Zodiac back to Seymour Island and taken by bus to the airport. We took a flight back to GYE, and stayed another night at the Sheraton, which is a very nice hotel (highly recommended). On Monday, we went from GYE back home to LAX on Copa (also recommended). Will I return? No, I don't think so. We saw so many animals, plants, birds, etc. - we really saw all we needed to. I loved this adventure. This is the only cruise I have taken which left me in tears on the last night. It affected me that much. It was a bucket list trip- a journey back in time. Truly a magical trip. If you are adventurous, don't let anyone talk you out of booking the seven night only option. With a little research and planning, you will be able to create a tailor-made experience that works best for you. We explained to another passenger how we had made our plans, and what we had experienced in town pre-cruise, and she said that she had considered the seven night only option, but had been talked out of it by posters on cruise critic. That's too bad. If you like the type of trip in which you deplane and are met at the airport by your tour company and don't have to lift a finger to do anything else the rest of your vacation, then the Quito option is a good choice, but for those of you who prefer doing things your own way, book the seven night option and party on. Just make sure you are ready physically for the experience, it would be a shame to travel all the way to the islands only to be forced to spend most of your time onboard. Unlike other ships, the Xpedition serves as your hotel, not as your source of entertainment. That can only be found by putting on a pair of comfortable and sturdy shoes (perhaps hiking boots) or beach shoes and exploring these incredibility diverse, beautiful islands. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We choose this ship for it size and itinerary. Before we booked our cruiser, we read reviews on the Cruise Critics web side and we were not despondent! We strongly advise to take "CRUISE PACKAGE" which includes 2 days in Quito ... Read More
We choose this ship for it size and itinerary. Before we booked our cruiser, we read reviews on the Cruise Critics web side and we were not despondent! We strongly advise to take "CRUISE PACKAGE" which includes 2 days in Quito before cruise and 1 day after, including flight from Quito to Baltra and back. The whole crew including environmentalist (land excursions guides) were very friendly, professional and accommodating. The cruise Director Ms. Britinia Espinoza (PhD) provided us with priceless information each evenings about next day excursions. Base on this information we could make decision which one we should take cording to our physical abilities. Each evening we were provided with newsletter about next day activities on the ship as well on the land. Celebrity is using Xpedition ship to provide these cruises for more than 10 years. We are retired couple and ease of traveling and site seeing is very imported to us and this cruise met our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We booked the 11 day trip with Celebrity. A day to fly in, a day to explore Quito, 7 days onboard the Xpedition, a day back to Quito, a day to explore Quito on our own until we flew out the day after. Flights in and out of Quito were ... Read More
We booked the 11 day trip with Celebrity. A day to fly in, a day to explore Quito, 7 days onboard the Xpedition, a day back to Quito, a day to explore Quito on our own until we flew out the day after. Flights in and out of Quito were with Delta then American. Nothing special to report. Celebrity was waiting for us and quickly got us on a bus to the hotel (about an hour from the airport). Day Tour of Quito: Visited the Basilica del Voto Nacional (ticket to get inside); the Church and Convent of St. Francis (San Francisco); Compania de Jesus (Jesuit Church); and Independence Square/Plaza Grande. In that square, you can see Carondelet Palace (seat of government), the Cathedral of Quito, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Monument to Heros statue in the middle of the square. After an excellent lunch at Sucre’s Theatrum restaurant, it was off to visit the Equatorial Line Monument ad Museum. We found this tour to be very informative as well. Later that evening Celebrity transported us to the La Gloria restaurant for another excellent dinner. In the morning, you go back to the airport and board a plane chartered by Celebrity to fly to Baltra. The experience on this plane was top notch. Certainly better than our flights to and from the United States. The week at sea was the inner loop itinerary. During this time, we visited Gardner Bay, Suarez Point, Cormorant Point, Champion Island, Bahia Post Office, Moreno Point, Urbina Bay, Espinoza Point, Vicente Roca Point, South Plaza, Dragon Hill, and Puerto Ayora (Darwin Research Center, local fish market, and the forest restoration project in the Highlands). The schedule is set pretty much the same each day….breakfast, morning excursion, lunch, afternoon excursion, themed party, discussion of the next day, dinner. Not much entertainment on board but the Discovery Lounge usually had something going on….and of course that’s where the bar is. I think every night though you sleep well after a hiking/snorkeling day especially the day on Floreana Island. That day consisted of a long hike, 2 open water snorkels, a short walk, and a Zodiac ride. Usually, each excursion came in a long and short version. You can do the long or the short hike and still participate in all snorkeling. Zodiac landings come in two versions. Wet and dry. Dry means a very basic cement structure or rocks. Wet meant stepping into the ocean but no more than 12 inches of water. After each excursion, you were greeted with a snack, drinks, and a wash cloth. You need to heed the warnings about this cruise and be prepared for various weather conditions and be in good physical health. If you are in good shape, this isn’t difficult even if you do the long hikes and the snorkel trips.....but the terrain can be tricky. A few people fell down and needed some first aid (a cleaning and a band aid). I used Merrell hiking shoes and Keen closed toed waterproof sandals. While each island was unique in terms of terrain and vegetation, amazingly a lot of the same animals, birds, and reptiles were surviving everywhere. One of the open water snorkels we got good video of tons of turtles and playful sea lions. I would have done video of the white tipped shark but I was so surprised to see him that I only have a couple of pictures. The day in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, I would recommend you sign up for the restoration project in the highlands of Santa Cruz. The day starts off with a visit to the Darwin Research Center with an opportunity to do some shopping in the downtown area. Don’t forget to watch the sea lions & pelicans beg for the fish guts at the local fish market. Next a bus will take you to the highlands where you don boots and given 2 trees and a spade. You’ll need that spade to work hard to break up that volcanic soil. After you plant your trees, you’ll go to the Rancho El Manzanillo for a very good buffet lunch with beer & wine. Then you will be treated to local entertainment followed by walking the property to see dozens and dozens of land tortoises. You’ll get back in plenty of time to stop at the bar, eat dinner, and then head to the final night’s slide show of the trip. On the day you get off the ship and fly back to Quito, you’ll have a chance to do some shopping at the La Mariscal Craft Market. Don’t miss it. Probably the best prices of the trip for souvenirs. That night, dinner was at the La Hacienda restaurant in the hotel. It is an excellent meal with excellent local entertainment. Choose the baby beef! Our last day in Quito was “on our own” though there are additional Celebrity excursions you can pay for. In our case, we booked a horseback ride with the Green Horse Ranch (not through Celebrity). We had a blast. We were picked up in front of the Magic Bean coffee shop (about 10 minutes from the hotel) and transported to the Pululahua volcano natural reserve. Then we went down and down into the bottom of the volcano to get to the ranch. The ride down is on a dirt and winding road. The views are spectacular. Stop for a picture or 5. Once on the ranch we were greeted by Astrid Muller, the owner. We were provided gloves, books, helmets, etc. I road Sam and the Mrs. rode Mithril. Along with 2 other people, we headed off along the trail for about 2 hours before stopping for lunch with the volcano crater in front of us and the lava dome in back of us. The views are breathtaking. Then it was back in the saddle for another 2 hours continuing on new trail and not just going back along the same trail we came on. We passed haciendas with gardens, cows, dogs, pigs, horses, chickens….but only in the valley. The horses were sure footed though we were often on narrow, rocky paths with overhanging trees and bushes. The horses looked as happy as we were with our time in the saddle. Carlos (Celebrity employee in the hotel lobby) recommended “Hasta la Vuelta, Senor” for supper. Happy hour was from 6-8 pm (2 for 1 cocktails). Corn nuts and spicy sauce came as soon as we sat down. We had the sweet plantains with cheese as a starter and then ordered the sea bass and the grilled shrimp dinners. There was no room for dessert. This place was about 2 blocks from the JW Marriott. Easy to get to! Loved it. Celebrity’s hotel of choice was the JW Marriott in the business area of Quito. It was very nice. Great wifi, wonderful breakfast, gorgeous flowers everywhere, spacious rooms, and service was always provided with “my pleasure”. The hotel’s restaurant’s (La Hacienda) dinner the night after getting off of the Xpedition was superior. Celebrity did a great job selecting this hotel. The Ship: We liked everything about the ship. Our cabin (405) was convenient to everything….a few steps to the Discovery Lounge and the ship’s office. The excursions (all done by Zodiacs) were great; the food excellent with lots of seafood and bakery; the staff very friendly & helpful; the information well explained; and the protocols for every evolution was done like clockwork (e.g. handling of snorkel trips with wet suits). Only minor complaint would be that the WIFI connection is poor at best but I suspect that it isn’t the ship’s issue since my cell phone carrier (T-Mobile with MoviStar) only worked inside the Quito airport and nowhere else. There was a small newspaper every day in the ship’s office for those who needed the news, sports, and a crossword puzzle. Surprising to me was that the Xpedition was a single screw (variable pitch), single rudder ship. It does have stabilizers but only in use above 6 knots. While she carried spare blades for the prop, they can’t be changed out without getting to an appropriate facility for repairs. Basically, the Xpedition spends 2 years at sea or at anchor. She only ties up in a port when she is scheduled for maintenance (for about a month in Panama). Ship’s Crew: Everyone was courteous and very attentive. Ana was great behind the bar lounge. Freddy was great as our waiter each night in the dining room. Virginia kept our room impeccably clean. Fernando Caicedo was impressive as I saw him a lot helping out his staff….in the lounge, in the dining room, on deck by the grill, and behind the bar. There were so many excellent employees on board (e.g. Luis, Leo, Xaiver). The guides and the Zodiac coxswains were all terrific! Celebrity employees that were ashore (hotel, tours, transportation) were also wonderful (e.g. Carlos Sarango at the Celebrity desk inside the Marriott). Everything ran like clockwork….transports, instructions, paperwork, day excursions. Everything….that people needed bottled water, Galapagos fees, luggage tags, etc. all handled behind the scenes. Weather/Time of the Season: All the weather sites predicted rain but actually the weather was terrific. Not too hot. Maybe once we got some drizzle. Because of the location among the volcanoes and the equator, I think the weather predictors just always say “rain” just to be on the safe side. Sea state was slight but the Xpedition does roll around a bit but I didn’t hear anyone say that they got seasick. We saw every type of wildlife that we hoped to….in multiple locations. The guides said everything is here (in varying quantities) all year long. Our trip in late OCT, early NOV, though was excellent for seeing many your sea lion pups because it is berthing season. Temperatures were low 80s/high 70s each day which made hiking very comfortable compared to other times of the year. I never wore a jacket though once I wore a long sleeve shirt. Another good reason for this time of the year is there were few bugs…mostly some flies in heavy concentrations of sea lions and some mosquitoes near a swampy area inhabited by flamingos. In any case, we never needed our DEET product. The open water snorkeling was chilly. Even with the “shorty” wet suits, most people wanted to get back on the Zodiacs after 30-45 minutes. Sea temps varied but were 61-63 degrees most of the time. Best tip is to head to the hot tub after you get back on board the ship! All in all, this trip was a well coordinated effort by Celebrity! Flights, hotel, transportation, cruise, and back again went off without a hitch. Want to see the Gallapagos? Celebrity is the way to go but demand is high. Most people on board booked 2 years out. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We booked this cruise two years ago and it turned out to be our 51st cruise. We read extensively about the Galapagos Islands and determined that the Celebrity Xpedition was the right answer for us. We told some of our friends and ended ... Read More
We booked this cruise two years ago and it turned out to be our 51st cruise. We read extensively about the Galapagos Islands and determined that the Celebrity Xpedition was the right answer for us. We told some of our friends and ended up with a group of 13 people on the cruise that sailed on September 25, 2016. What a great adventure! We arrived in Quito several days early and took a cab to the J W Marriott. I know some of the older posts talked about taking great care in selecting a cab, but I found that all the yellow cabs at the airport appeared to be licensed. I asked the driver for the cost and we were quoted $25 for the 45 minute ride to the hotel, regardless of the number of passengers. Because of luggage, my wife and I took one cab by ourselves. The Marriott is a world class high end hotel and was a pleasant surprise. The beds were comfortable, the air conditioner could cool the room at night. The covers were quite heavy and that interrupted my sleep, but that is not unusual . . . my wife slept just fine. The room had plenty of 110 volt outlets for USA plug-ins. They also had some 220 volt European outlets. We ate in the Hotel Restaurant, The Hacienda, a steakhouse, and it was very good. Breakfast was included and it was served on the floor just below Registration. It was very well done and you could choose from a wide variety, including a juice bar. We ate at some restaurants suggested by the Marriott travel office and had two very different, but outstanding meals. When we flew to Baltra, the trip took about 1 1/2 hours and we were served a meal on the plane that was better than expected. We checked in thru Customs and waited for the Zodiacs. Before long, we had our first of many Zodiac rides to the Xpedition, our home for the next 7 days. Then life becomes a blur. Talks explaining the next day activities, breakfast in the morning, choosing long walks or short walks, snorkeling adventures, back for lunch, either naturalist seminars or a nap, out for the afternoon long or short walk, a possible deep water snorkeling adventure, back to clean up, a few cocktails, listen to the description of tomorrows activities, sign up for the activities you want to do, off to dinner, maybe some conversation after dinner, then to bed. That is a typical day. Every morning and every afternoon, you had a different area to discover. For the rest of this review, I will just mention items as they come to mind. We all tried to minimize the amount of things we brought with us to this cruise. The reviews all cautioned that your baggage allowance on the plane was 44 pounds for checked luggage and only 15 pounds for carry on. We got close to this but were over for sure on the carry one. As it turns out, Celebrity charters this flight, so we do have a lot more leniency. If you keep you weight under 50 pounds for checked luggage, no one will say anything. Nobody even weighed the carry on luggage . . . we were at about 22 pounds each. You can upgrade to a business class seat on the plane to and from Baltra. They just upgraded the aircraft they use and now they have 12 seats available. It costs about $100 per person each way. It is on a "first come, first serve" basis and must be done once you get the the Marriott Hotel. Those that arrived early to the Marriott already had the seats taken by the time the later folks arrived, so if that is something you want to do, check with the Celebrity desk immediately, once you get to the hotel. The excursions were fantastic. But none of us in our group were prepared for the reality that there are no restrooms on the islands you are going to visit ( except two towns that you visit). As they say ' the only thing you should leave behind is your footprints". As such we learned to plan our intake knowing that it would be 2 to 4 hours before we were back on the ship, depending on the long or short walk. They could make extra zodiac trips back for emergencies. From my perspective, everyone seemed to adapt just fine and there did not appear to be any issues. We had packed some foil wrapped snacks (nuts, candy, crackers) that we thought we could put in our pack and bring with us on the excursions. We were told "NO", no food of any kind goes on the excursions. If you have a medical condition that requires some food, it would be given to your Naturalist Guide and they would distribute it to you. Once you visit the Islands you notice, there is no foil or paper of other scraps littering the area. They have a very good rule and should adhere to it. We did eat some of these things while on the ship, but in retrospect, I would leave that at home next time. We were there in the cool part of the year and it was not the rainy season. Just some quick stuff. Rooms had plenty of 110 volt outlets and they provided an power strip, no need to bring that. They provide binoculars in the rooms. Not high quality, but we seldom used them. The sun intensity is real, bring plenty of sun screen. We brought lots of bug spray ( pump, not aerosol) and never used it . . . . and never got any insect bites . . . but I would bring some if I came back. Many people wore long pants that zip off to make shorts and long sleeve light weight safari shirts. I brought water shoes. got them wet twice. Last time we had a wet landing, I did like the Naturalists . . . rolled up my pants and went barefoot. All the water landings were sand beaches and the maximum water depth was 16 inches. Take your hiking shoes in your pack and put them on once you land. I carried a very light pair of water shoes that I wore back on the Zodiac since you must have shoes on to get back on the ship. Some of the excursions on the lava field, up the mountain slopes and to the hill high point did require some walking. I was very glad I packed my walking boots with ankle support due to past sports injuries to my ankles. We had a very light rain just once for about 10 minutes. A light poncho is all that we needed. Everyone seemed to wear the wide brim hats or Panama hats . . . that were originally made in Ecuador and exported to Panama . . . . the locals story and they are sticking to it. Celebrity will supply you with snorkel, mask, fins, and a wetsuit. They also have walking sticks for those that want them on shore excursions. Sorry, this has gotten way too wordy. In the final analysis, this was one of the very best experiences we have ever had on a cruise. Celebrity did a fantastic job, the crew, officers, Naturalists, room stewards, chef, bartenders, etc were second to none. We were fortunate to share this adventure with a group of passengers from all over the world that were truly fun travelers. We appreciated everyone of them. We would rate it in our top five cruises taken out of 51. I hope some of this helps you along the way. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This is not your usual 'holiday', so if you want lazy days, taking it easy or even quiet solitude, do not book this cruise. However if you want to feel like an explorer, dont mind being up and off early in the morning, love ... Read More
This is not your usual 'holiday', so if you want lazy days, taking it easy or even quiet solitude, do not book this cruise. However if you want to feel like an explorer, dont mind being up and off early in the morning, love wildlife and remote places, this is the experience for you. Everything is meticulously well organised, and works like clockwork with great success but you are not organised or bound up, so its up to you what you take part in. We were up for everything and wow! what an experience! This is a small ship so dont expect shows and grand entertainment, but if your focus is wildlife you'll be in bed by 10pm like most of us were, ready to go again in the morning. The standards in the transportation, safety, dining, guides, were everything you would expect on a cruise and more. Small details added so much more, drinks of any sort, and snacks awaited our every return to the ship, on deck as we shed our life jackets, wet suits and personal belongings. Naturalists would provide so much information to enhance visits ashore and there was always enough time to watch those albatross feel the wind beneath their wings and take off, or watch the pelican dive on the fish the penguin had taken the time to corral in the bay. Food on board was plentiful and of a good international choice. Especially impressed with the lunchtime barbecue I could write a book, a review is not going to do this experience justice! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Wow well what a trip of a lifetime. We booked this trip 2 years ago and it was definitely worth waiting for. The trip to the equator was amazing did not expect the experiments etc. From the flight to the islands with wonderful food and ... Read More
Wow well what a trip of a lifetime. We booked this trip 2 years ago and it was definitely worth waiting for. The trip to the equator was amazing did not expect the experiments etc. From the flight to the islands with wonderful food and champagne to embarkation everything went very smoothly. Cabin was a bit on the small side but was to expected because of the size of the ship. Food and drink was very plentiful and very very tasty, all the staff were second to none and could not do enough for you Shore excursions were excellent /had a nightly briefing on what to expect the next day. Naturalists were all very good, Christina was our favourite, but probably only because we had her most times. It truly is a magical place to visit, even saw a feral cat chasing a land iguana!!!! getting on and off the zodiacs was great fun especially some of the wet landings. We had a great laugh during some of those. Even a visit to the bridge was very informative. A lovely gesture was that every one was given a CD of our trip with group photos and the animals and birds that we actually saw. From penguins, diving blue boobies and the posing sea lions to name a few of our favourites....the list of wildlife and birds was endless. The only fly in the ointment was a very badly behaved young boy who quite frankly was an embarrassment to most of his family......not really a holiday for children, but saying that all the other children on board were very well behaved. All in all well worth every penny and cant believe its all over :( Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We were encouraged to join my sister and brother-in-law of their 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Galapagos. They were considering a much smaller ship, but after I saw Celebrity offered on of the biggest ships in the region I suggested ... Read More
We were encouraged to join my sister and brother-in-law of their 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Galapagos. They were considering a much smaller ship, but after I saw Celebrity offered on of the biggest ships in the region I suggested Celebrity and we joined them. We had been on their larger ship before in the Greek Islands. 1. We were immediately whisked from the airport in Quito into a van within 2 minutes and on our way to the wonderful Marriott ( very similar to the one I had stayed at in Palm springs). The hotel had a marvellous included large scale breakfast, and also a farewell dinner in their terrific Hacienda steak house. 2. Next day Quito city tour with guide and armed guard ( must be necessary) was very good, and included lunch at a local restaurant was top quality. 3. Pre-checked luggage at our hotel before heading off to the airport for their charter flight to the Galapagos , and short wait in a private lounge at the airport made life wonderful. The food was very good on the ship, lots of variety. Alcohol included, and we soon discovered if you asked the better bottle were kept below the bar in a cabinet. Bombay Saphire gin martinis! The nature walks and snorkels were wonderful. We are in our early 50's and did the harder (longer version) of all the walks. I did the snorkels from shore and saw tons of amazing fish, sea turtle etc. Did not do the deep water snorkels since I was not that comfortable. Saw tons of sea lions, crabs, birds, iguanas etc. Didn't disappoint in the amount of creatures we saw. They entertainment was basic but we met a lot of nice people and had dinner/drinks with them every evening. One night the naturalists put on a small music show, another night music in the lounge or karaoke . The overall experience was wonderful and the staff were very accommodating and friendly. A fabulous experience . Celebrity hit the spot. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I came back to Quito with my 8-year-old daughter, plus a bus-full of new friends yesterday afternoon, with our new Galapagos skin (red, tanned, and slightly peeled) and our Galapagos heart (purified, fulfilled, and hopeful). Now, sitting ... Read More
I came back to Quito with my 8-year-old daughter, plus a bus-full of new friends yesterday afternoon, with our new Galapagos skin (red, tanned, and slightly peeled) and our Galapagos heart (purified, fulfilled, and hopeful). Now, sitting in my room in JW Marriott, we are already missing "the Galapagos Grip", which we've enjoyed and trusted in the past 7 days of our voyage. The Galapagos is truly a wonderland. It's not that green, not that rich, not that convenient, but it's a place that makes you forget almost everything else, but to embrace the amazing beauty of nature, and the company of each other. We didn't get one single 8-hour sleep in the whole trip thanks to all the activities (shore excursion 2-3 times a day, daily briefing at 7:15pm, dinner at 7:30pm, then party at 9pm), but even my 8-year-old never complained, she always got off her bed as soon as I woke her up, because she knew that there were so much to see, and so much to enjoy. I'm sure other friends will chime in very soon, so I will just list some highlights from kids perspective: 1. Each island is unique in its own way, so you see all kinds of different landscapes in very short period of time, colorful sandy beaches (gold, white, red, green), volcanic surfaces, rocky terrain... 2. So many animals to encounter during shore hikes, zodiac rides, and snorkeling. Sea lions, birds, turtles,tropical fishes, giant tortoises, sharks, etc. It's like watching Animal Planet, no, it's like you are in Animal Planet. 3. Well-organized shore excursion activities, always with 2-3 options. My daughter signed up all our activities herself, she almost always choose option 1 (the more challenging ones), and she didn't miss one snorkeling (including deep-water snorkeling), and didn't miss one science talk and after dinner party. I didn't expect her to be this adventurous but she was fully motivated to absorb everything she can. 4. Super friendly crew members and super knowledgable and trust-worthy naturalists. Seems like everyone remembered our names and room number starting day one, so we really felt at home. The naturalists not only served as our guides, but also our protectors during the zodiac rides. I remember one afternoon we had free time in town for shopping, my daughter got a little bit nervous, but once we returned to the pier and met our naturalist, she relaxed right away. 5. High quality food, more than enough healthy options for both kids and adults. My daughter decided to spoil herself with Piña colada and potato chips every day, but that was after relatively healthy meals, and she is the Galapagos, so I controlled myself and didn't say anything. 6. Great friends. This probably can't be planned ahead, but we were lucky enough that 2 other families with wonderful kids were on board this time, and all the kids (8-14) were glued together after a short warm-up. They cartwheeled on the beach, spent hours on solving the puzzle together, and talked and giggled all the time. Quite often, I felt abandoned by my daughter, just kidding. :) Of course, I enjoyed mingling with adults too. Now that we have to pack again and spend another 12 hours to go home, before I wrap up I just want to say, it's all worth it. Galapagos and Celebrity will always have a special place in our hearts, and even though we don't know when yet, we surely will be back. Hopefully we will see some familiar faces then. P.S: The rating below (all 5-stars) and the "AMAZING [so much fun]" part were given by my daughter, who just woke up from a 10-hour long sleep. :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Extensive travel can foster skepticism about promotional information. In this instance the Galapagos aboard Xpedition is everything, and more, than the publicity promotes. I regretted that skepticism kept us from booking a b2b of both ... Read More
Extensive travel can foster skepticism about promotional information. In this instance the Galapagos aboard Xpedition is everything, and more, than the publicity promotes. I regretted that skepticism kept us from booking a b2b of both loops. My sweetheart of 32 years was satisfied with the one week but I gladly would have stayed the second week. We tend to avoid the herd and travel independently. However we are glad we took the 11 day package round trip from Quito (UIO) airport and back. The Galapagos Islands have so many restrictions and fees that we were glad we allowed Celebrity to handle all of those contingencies. The trip began with the only disappointing part of the entire 11 days. About 15 of us arrived at 11:00 pm and were told we would be waiting about 15 minutes for two other flights. We waited 90 minutes for one person. The airport was hot, crowded, had limited seating and evidently was unsafe since we were told repeatedly to watch our suitcases and wallets. We finally arrived by air conditioned tour bus to our room at the Marriott at 2 a.m. We would have paid the $25 for a cab if we had known the wait would be that long. The Marriott Quito is an excellent facility. There is a separate registration desk for X guests. Xpedition suite guests are upgraded to the executive club floors at the hotel, including free wifi and access to the executive club. We did not have time to actually visit the club. The room was comfortable, quiet, great wifi, included bottled water and great shower. The food also was excellent. Again, we are experienced and discerning travelers. The Saturday morning tour of Quito began at 9:30 (tour busses began loading at 9:15). We had 24 people per bus which were then subdivided to two groups for the walking tour. The morning tour of Cathedrals and Plazas gave a good overview of old town. The lunch Buffet was extensive and quite good. It even included traditional dance and wifi. Having read of previous tummy issues we ate cautiously. For us the afternoon at Mitad del Munda on the Equator was very enjoyable. We were there for only an hour so visiting the numerous shops was very limited. (Celebriity, pls reduce time at the restaurant and increase time at the equator). Prices were better there than on the Islands and nearly as good as the indigenous market. Be sure to bargain. Dinner that evening was delicious at a very nice near-by restaurant. Our doctor prescribed altitude medicine which we began taking two days before the trip. We have encountered altitude issues in the past but had none on this trip. He also gave us some Cipro to anticipate digestive issues due to water or food. It is a good precaution. Sunday morning began with an excellent, early breakfast at the Marriott, seemless transfer by tour bus to the Quito airport and comfortable flight on the Celebrity Avianca charter. The flight is not full so check your seats. We were on a row with three people while the row in front of us was empty. Alas the blue-footed booby napkins are no more. Baltra airport is small but Celebrity preparations meant easy clearance through security. We spent a few minutes in a VIP room with drinks and snacks then boarded local busses to the dock for our first Zodiac (panga) ride to the Xpedition. Each day's excursions were excellent. We saw over 50 different reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. The Naturalists were excellent in knowledge and professionalism. The evening briefing of the following day's excursions was usually 15 minutes and informative. Usually only one of us attended and enrolled in the following day's excursions of interest. We enjoyed the walks and panga rides. We had read some complaints about the food on X but everything we had was delicious. We tried different things that were not to our liking but that was more personal taste preferences than problems in preparation or quality. We are more Southern in our preferences for desserts than many of the options offered too. The chocolate souffle is declicious and world class. We chose to eat evening meals in our suite. We were tired from the busy days of excursions and excellent room service allowed us to eat more rapidly and rest. Wifi is free but practically useless. Please do not expect to do anything other than download email. Some sucked up the entire bandwidth by trying to update pictures or get on Skype. They were unsuccessful and no one could even get email while they tried. Xpedition provides all of the snorkel gear but we took prescription dive masks and dry top snorkels. In November the water was cool but neither of us needed the wetsuits, even though my spouse is cool-natured. The weather would have permitted shorts and short sleeves on each excursion but we opted for long sleeves and pants on most excursions for the sun and bug protection. Take your sunscreen and bug wipes. Practice photo etiquette, when you have taken your picture, move so others can get a picture too. We always travel only with carry-ons so adapting to the 44 pound limit and one suitcase/one carry-on were no problem. We took binoculars since the ship binocs are the same cheap ones on all Celebrity cruises. I chose to wear water shoes for the wet landings and change into hiking boots. There was plenty of time to do so. Many wore keens sandels so they did not have to change but seemed to have trouble with rocks and sand in their shoes as we hiked. We needed our light rain jackets several times. The laundry service on board was relatively inexpensive compared to most hotels and cruises. The laundry was returned same day even if you did not check the same day surcharge. We chose to hand wash items each evening since they dried easily on the balcony or in front of the fan. We had read of numerous tummy issues from those eating in the highlands on the last excursion day. We also had individuals report problems who ate there so were glad we had chosen to return to the ship for lunch. Disembrakation is long and cumbersome. Two hours in the Discovery lounge between leaving the room and leaving the ship. I know they are busy preparing the ship but it would seem to be a good time for a Galapagos movie, or showing more pictures. Then two hours at the Baltra airport before boarding the Celebrity Avianca charter. Transfers to and through the airport again were seemless thanks to Celebrity logistics. The indigenous market in Quito was MUCH cheaper than the two shopping options on the Islands. Shopkeepers on the Islands have the added expense of shipping everything to them. If you see a Galapagos branded item you love on the Islands, get it. If you want some generic Galapagos branded items, get them in the Quito market. All of your generic clothing, jewelry, blankets etc, are cheaper in Quito. It is not cliche in this instance to define Galapagos on board Xpedition as the trip of a lifetime. Do not hesitate to book it. And do so while you are young and healthy enough to enjoy the strenuous but exhilerating daily options. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
For those looking for a standard cruise this would not be your thing although Celebrity does its best to bring a lot of its standard cruise feature to this ship. For those looking for an amazing adventure with an up close and personal ... Read More
For those looking for a standard cruise this would not be your thing although Celebrity does its best to bring a lot of its standard cruise feature to this ship. For those looking for an amazing adventure with an up close and personal look of an amazing place this is an adventure one will love. Here are some of the basics: Excursions: Are great and lead by amazing naturalists who know so much about what you are seeing. They are great guides and amazing sources of information. Each day there are two excursions. There is a long and a short excursion neither require tons of stamina but many require good agility as you walk on rocks or lava. However I was with my mom who has very little agility and she loved the cruise because they would have a last zodiac super short excursion so that those who wanted to see and didn't have the physical resources got at least a good taste of the site but seeing at least the area around the landing and the zodiac. Tip: While with the longer excursions which I took many clamored for the first zodiac I usually waited for the last and was rewarded with a smaller group [max is 16 so its never big] and some extra time seeing the wildlife in the sea from the zodiac. If you are into seeing the Galapagos and the wildlife this is why you are on this adventure and you won't be disappointed. Dining: I new we weren't getting full cruise service in eating but in reality we got pretty close. The Dinner menu looked like a typical MDR menu on a Celebrity Cruise but imo was better because it included local Ecuadorian dishes every night. There are no snacks outside of little stuff when you get back from an excursion and a cookie jar so skipping meals isn't recommended unless you know you won't want later. Entertainment: This isn't a cruise for entertainment. In fact while I saw a review where someone groaned of the go,go,go I actually found the opposite. On days where there isn't an extra snorkeling activity, there is very little going on between the time you get back from your morning excursion at around 10:30 and you start the afternoon one at 3:30. The lounge area is great and the bar staff is supreme. The bar staff also makes lots of great coffee drinks. Not being a big alcohol drinker I enjoyed them making the coffee drinks. Also as someone who doesn't like Martini's discovered one I do like Chocolate Martini Rooms: Nicer then I expected but would say pretty standard for a normal cruise. Was on the 4th level which I would recommend. Ideal location but more importantly there is air conditioning problems on the 3rd level. These seem to be handled by noisy ice fans that act as defacto air conditioners but I would avoid the 3rd level if you can. You do get noise from the anchor sometimes late at night as other mentioned but you just go with it imo. In our room the nice size window was kind of worthless as it was very dirty with a dark streak on the middle. I am sure this is in large part because unlike other cruise ships this ship never docs so clearly the windows weren't cleaned on the outside very often. Not once on our trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Galapagos was on our bucket list. We booked this trip 19 months prior. This was trip B. We did the 10 day, which included 2 nights in Quito pre cruise and one night post cruise. Quito was OK but not anything to look forward to. Yes, we ... Read More
Galapagos was on our bucket list. We booked this trip 19 months prior. This was trip B. We did the 10 day, which included 2 nights in Quito pre cruise and one night post cruise. Quito was OK but not anything to look forward to. Yes, we straddled the equator. The good thing about staying at the JW Marriott in Quito pre cruise was the chance the meet many of the other passengers. The hotel was very nice but it is an hour away from the airport. We are Celebrity Elite members and they did not disappoint. From the airport greeter to the time we were on our way home, the service was top notch. It was great not having to worry about luggage. It would show up in our hotel room and in our stateroom on the ship. No problem. Our boarding passes for our flights to and from Baltra were taken care of. Even the flights, Avianca to Baltra and Air Gal from Baltra were good. Really good food with tableclothes and real utensils. As far as the cruise, Xpedition did not disappoint. We had a deluxe stateroom on deck 3 and it was fine. Yes, it's smaller than the big ships. We had the beds separated so we could have the nightstand between the beds. There is plenty of storage with his and her closets. The bathrooms had vanity space with a shelf underneath. The shower was good with a glass door. The room was quiet. The bed was small but comfortable. The only bad thing were the pillows. They were very thin so we requested more. No problem. When we walked into our cabin, there was a bottle of champagne and a note giving us a free massage (for each of us) as an Elite perk. We were also invited to a Captain's cocktail party a few days later. The massages were good and the party was a good chance to meet the officers. We became very friendly with 4 other couples so 10 of us usually signed up for the same excursions. We also ate dinner together. We had the same table every night almost like it was reserved for us. The food and drink on Xpedition were good, not outstanding, but certainly acceptable. If you wanted something different, all you had to do was ask. The excursions are why we (and everyone else) booked this trip. All I can say is "Wow!" We did most of the "strenuous" excursions and had no problem, although the walk up 380 steps was a little tough, especially that middle part. Oh, we are 66 and 70 years old. The walk on the lava fields was incredible. On the other islands, being up close and personal with the sea lions, penguins, frigates, and boobies took our breath away. We also did the deep water snorkeling. First one was easy. The second one, the sea was very choppy but still saw plenty of fish, penguins. The wet suit kept us warm. The Interpretation Center could have been missed. The Darwin Center was OK because we saw the tortoises. We did the tree planting. Walked in mud (they give you boots) to plant 2 trees. We figured, why not! Then buffet lunch (and show) where all the giant tortoises are. We walked around with the naturalists and saw a lot of them. We were able to take many pictures standing about 8 feet back. Oh, the Zodiac rides were fun. Sometimes you got wet, depending on where you were sitting. Everyone laughed. It was a great group. The bad part was leaving. We had to leave our staterooms at 8am. We had breakfast and went to the Discovery Lounge. At 9:30, we were given our boarding passes for the flight to Quito. At 10am, disembarkation began. By 10:45 we were in the Baltra airport. The flight was supposed to leave at noon but didn't leave until 12:50 (1:50 Quito time), so that's a long time to wait. They did have some food and juice. Two hour flight, then a bus trip back to the JW Marriott. Then a 6pm shopping trip which lasted for 45 minutes. Then our group had dinner at La Hacienda, one of the hotel restaurants. Fixed menu for Celebrity guests. It was pretty good. The next morning, after breakfast, bus ride back to the airport for our flight home. The benefit of a small ship was getting to know most of the other passengers. There were some kids on board, maybe 10 of them, but very well behaved. Everyone smiled and said Hello. After this, it will be very hard traveling on the bigger ships. This was so special! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are not big cruisers. We travel extensively, but have only done a few cruises. Generally, we find them underwhelming. Celebrity's Xpedition in the Galapagos is an exception and ... Read More
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are not big cruisers. We travel extensively, but have only done a few cruises. Generally, we find them underwhelming. Celebrity's Xpedition in the Galapagos is an exception and we would do this trip again in a heartbeat. In a word it was fantastic and crushed all of our other cruise experiences. You will not find a better way to see the flora and fauna of this unique part of the world. The staff, Zodiac drivers, and naturalists see to that. I knew we would get up close and personal with animals, but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would be this close. How many times do you have to zoom OUT to get pictures of animals? Never, but in the Galapagos - yeah, you do. This is, of course, your reason to go and you must go. If this isn't on your bucket list, add the Galapagos today and I don't see how anybody could handle making that check mark any better than the Xpedition. If you've read my TA reviews, you know I will always highlight any negatives - but for this trip there just isn't much to say. However, here a couple of things that are worth noting. First, this is an older small (by cruise standards) ship. You will feel rough seas - even at anchor. Speaking of which, our cabin was all the way forward and the anchor chain makes quite a racket going in and out. There is no casino, no formal night and no "show time." The Xpedition is not your typical cruise ship - she is 100% geared to exploration of the islands. As she should be! Now, much of that exploration requires physical activity - snorkeling and hiking especially. But anyone of reasonable physical condition should have no problems, just plan in advance: dress appropriately (the naturalists give great advice), stay hydrated, and watch your alcohol intake. Which brings me to another point, this trip is true "all-inclusive" - alcohol too. It was great for us, but the non-drinkers do wind up subsidizing folks like me. If I was Celebrity, I might consider alcohol, pay as you go. Cabins are small, but adequate. We had an upgrade, but not a balcony. Some said their balcony was worth it - others said they spent so little time on board it was a waste. Also keep in mind with less than 100 passengers, you will get to know most everybody. For us this was a big plus. Food was very good by cruise standards, but don't expect round the clock buffets. Thank goodness! Three big meals each day are plenty. You are there to experience what cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. Celebrity has provided an outstanding way to make that happen. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the ... Read More
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the booked Passengers (or even prior to booking). Two nights in Quito prior to embarking aboard the Celebrity Xpedition was a waste of time and money. The J.W. Marriott in Quito is an hour's drive from the Quito Airport and has management and maintenance problems. They seem to live off the guaranteed rooms from Celebrity each weekend and have no concern for their guests. Then you have the hour's drive back to the Quito Airport for the charter flight to Baltra. The charter flight from Quito to Baltra is nice and embarkation process is reasonable. From the Baltra Airport you board a bus to the zodiac "station" and ride to the Xpedition. Once aboard a staff member escorts you to your cabin. Ours had not been serviced properly but improved after it was reported. The Chief Purser and Head of Food Operations were especially helpful and friendly and anxious to please. Expect to hear the anchor going out and coming up from all over the ship once or twice daily - since it is such a small ship. Also because it is so small the Xpedition rocks side to side when anchored. In order to be allowed to sail in the Galapagos the Xpedition (as do National Geographic and Silver Sea) must employ all Ecuadorian staff as well as use Ecuadorian food. Do not expect meals being available throughout the day as on other cruises. The main purpose of this cruise is to see the Galapagos Islands - not to eat or have any "free/rest time". There is a short window of time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No extra places to get snacks, etc. as on other cruise ships. if you do not drink alcohol you will find this cruise over-priced because you are subsidizing the "unlimited" alcohol for everyone else. It would be nice if Celebrity would have a price option for passengers who do not drink alcohol. There are two excursions daily (none on Embarkation Day nor on Disembarkation Day). There is a morning excursion and another in the afternoon. Each evening prior to dinner there is a "lecture" to provide information to allow you to choose your excursion choices for the next day. The sales pitch by the Cruise Director to pressure Passengers to make $$ contributions to the Galapagos Fund - as well as pressure to plant trees is inappropriate and insulting in my opinion. A Naturalist accompanies each group on each excursion and they are the best asset Celebrity has for this cruise. Observing the mating rituals of Albatross, juvenile Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, Penguins, Giant Land Tortoises- as well as the snorkeling are fantastic. The animal encounters are the absolute best part. The Machu Picchu extension (after the cruise) was "OK". First of all, Celebrity chooses flights which make you arrive into Lima late on Disembarkation Day and then you have about an hour's drive to your Hotel. Then after arriving late at the Country Club Hotel in Lima, you must get up very early for an early departure right back to the Lima Airport to fly to Cusco the following morning. Once in Cusco, the 11,500 foot altitude is very apparent so you must take things slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Several people in our group required oxygen and most had headaches from the altitude. Drink lots of water which helps. The unfortunate thing is that Celebrity subs to an Agency in Lima to handle the Passengers - and they do not require the hotels to have our rooms ready upon arrival. The disorganization of the Lima Agency was apparent throughout the Machu Picchu excursion. Flights were changed to earlier than planned so you have little sleep. The restaurant for Dinner in Cusco was a big disappointment - service was awful and food similar. The Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 5 Star and the lunch and dinner there were good. However, the housekeeping is no where near what a 5 Star should be. The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu was very nice - one of the highlights of the entire trip. Take in all the scenery on the morning trip to Machu Picchu because it will be dark almost all the way of the return. Machu Picchu did not disappoint. Be prepared for a lot of climbing - no bathrooms once you leave the train station. Only go on this if you want constant exercise and no "free time" and if you REALLY want to see the animals and Machu Picchu. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our bucket list forever, but it always seemed very daunting (both the cost and the expedition nature of the trip, especially on small boats). When we learned about Celebrity Xpedition, we felt ... Read More
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our bucket list forever, but it always seemed very daunting (both the cost and the expedition nature of the trip, especially on small boats). When we learned about Celebrity Xpedition, we felt that the larger ship and luxury details would make it possible for us. I don’t like to tip my hand too much in reviews, but suffice it to say that this trip met and exceeded all of our expectations and was the best cruise ever! This review plus a series of day-by-day blog posts, and questions and answers can be found here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2214872 My photos can be seen and downloaded here: https://jazzbeauxgalapagostrip.shutterfly.com/pictures/5 We took the 10-day package because: (a) our Spanish skills are pretty much limited to restaurant menus; (b) since the cruise wasn’t going to be a relaxing spa affair we wanted a minimum of stress getting there and back; and (c) we were worried that the altitude in Quito is already stretching it [we live near sea level] so Machu Picchu would be problematic. That turned out to be the right decision for us. We made friends on the cruise who were going on to Machu Picchu and they had a great time, but we had enough trouble with the altitude in Quito and were happy to be returning home to our own bed at the end of the cruise. Xpedition is unique in many ways, and the Celebrity website never recognizes this. You cannot print out express passes for Xpedition. You will get a very nice booklet in the mail with luggage tags and everything else you need. This is triggered by your completing the online check-in. If you booked with a TA, the materials will be sent to them and they will forward them to you. Celebrity took great care of us from the moment we got through customs in Quito until they escorted us back to the airport for the flights home. Their shuttles were always waiting for us and eliminated the need to figure out the complex geography of the Quito metropolitan area [a mountain valley that is something like 3 miles wide but 35 miles long and seemingly never flat for more than a block] The J W Marriott hotel is beautiful, the rooms are large [especially compared to European hotels], and the restaurants are very good – and contrary to rumor Wi-Fi internet is included in the Celebrity rate along with the buffet breakfast. The city tour of Quito was interesting, and the maze of streets made us very glad we didn’t try to do this on our own, especially since that first day was the bad one for altitude problems [exhausting travel the day before with the usual dehydration from airplane “desert” humidity levels and late bedtime plus early wake-up produced major headaches and serious lethargy – there should be a warning label “do not operate heavy machinery or make important decisions while under the influence of low oxygen levels”!] Lunch at El Theatrum was good, and the folkloric dancing was entertaining. The Middle of the World park is hokey but still worth doing [look at how many people keep going back to Disney, to see how well hokey can work ;)] – some say it isn’t on the exact Equator, but we have pictures with one foot in each hemisphere and that’s our story and we’re sticking to it… Dinner at La Gloria restaurant was even better than the lunch, so our adventure was off to a great start. The next day showed the real benefit of the 10-day Celebrity cruise tour. After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast (included), we joined our fellow cruisers on Celebrity’s chartered coaches for a smooth trip to Celebrity’s charter flight non-stop to Baltra. We waited in the VIP lounge for a short while [probably until the ship sent the all clear that the cabins were ready], then were smoothly transferred to the nearby pier for the panga ride to Xpedition. Each panga group was welcomed in the lounge [with free booze – a harbinger of the week to come], given a brief presentation, and escorted to our cabins. We paid for “no hassles” – and there were no hassles! [Well, DW and I were seated at the back of the panga and because the day was unusually windy we got soaked from the waists up – but that was the only time we got wet on a panga and the cabin hair dryer took care of the dampness before lunch, so “no harm no foul.”] Note 1: on Xpedition they usually refer to these inflatable boats as “Zodiacs,” which is their brand name. I use the general term “panga,” which is more often found here on Cruise Critic and was occasionally used onboard as well. Note 2: there has been controversy on Cruise Critic about the luggage weight limits on the Celebrity charter flights. The website and the printed materials from Celebrity state limits for both checked and carry-on luggage. I think our checked bags just came in under the limit – but since they were taken the night before so Celebrity could handle the Ecuadorian agricultural inspection for us, there was no opportunity for anyone to complain if they were too heavy. I’m sure our carry-ons were over the limit – and I’m even more sure that nobody weighed them. This is a charter flight, so Celebrity is setting the rules, not the airline. I wouldn’t worry about luggage weights. [If you like to pack light, more power to you – it will make it easier for me to remember you as “the person in that outfit.” ;)] Lunch was the first of many good meals. We had heard that food on Xpedition isn’t up to Celebrity’s usual standards – Bunk! The food was different [which for those who complain about Celebrity’s 14 never-changing menus should be a good thing!], and everything was made from fresh local ingredients and usually reflected Ecuadorian cuisine [both things that people lament missing on most ocean cruises]. I love Ceviche, and it was great to have it in infinite variations every day at lunch. Likewise Spanish deserts like flan and tres leches. And the fish was plentiful, varied and always cooked perfectly. The only weak spot is meat, because strict environmental regulations require that all meat imported into the Galapagos must be partially pre-cooked – this made it a real challenge to comply with our orders for “medium rare,” but once we made our taste known [and adjusted our request to “rare” for emphasis] we generally got exactly what we wanted, and they were always happy to try again and get it right the second time [very quickly]. Alcohol is truly all-inclusive throughout the cruise. Most nights there is a special cocktail of the day in the hour before dinner, but you can get anything you like at any time. Wine is poured freely at lunch and dinner, and if you want anything else they will happily procure it for you. You also get a bottle of bubbly in your cabin – and unlike any other cruise we’ve been on when we asked to switch it for something else we were offered our choice of any wine on the ship [and through a mis-communication we ended up getting two bottles! – although there’s hardly any reason to have a bottle in your cabin, since the bar is only a few steps away] Tipping is also included, and no one acted like they expected anything more even for exemplary service. We weren’t sure how Celebrity had handled tipping at the Quito hotel or with the tour guides, but again the body language was completely different from service personnel in the US who know how to subtly convey their desire for an emolument. At the end of the cruise they ask you to come to the service desk with your credit card, but they sent us away because our bill was zero! Our cabin, 403, was very convenient to the lounge and just one flight up from the dining room. The cabin feels larger than 160 sf, but it's hard to keep it neat with all the expedition gear you need for wet landings, swimming, etc. One of the twin beds is fixed to the wall, so when you have them together as a double somebody [that would be DW] has to crawl over the covers to get in and then doesn’t have a night table or reading light – but otherwise the bed was fine. There’s also a small desk which houses the flat-screen TV, and underneath the small fridge and hairdryer. Behind the TV there are two plugs, one US (for the TV) and one EU. Our cabin came equipped with a 3-plug expander in the US outlet, so we still had 2 spares – plus I had brought an EU-to-US adapter and a 3-plug/2-USB expander [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0016IXEWG/ref=psdc_761520_t1_B0015DYMVO], so we had more than enough slots to plug in the computer, camera battery charger wall-wart, and my shaver charger wall-wart. There are three small drawers in the night table, and two closets with both hangers and shelves (and the safe). The bathroom has a nice shower (with glass door that mostly didn’t leak) and lots of space on the counter and the shelf underneath. The shower has 3 dispensers (soap, shampoo and separate conditioner. Water pressure is very good. There is a clothesline built in to the shower – but with no balcony, stuff doesn't dry quickly [meaning, bring 3 bathing suits] Air conditioning worked great in our cabin and throughout the ship. I had heard rumors that the AC isn’t so good on decks 3 and 6, but we heard no complaints from residents of those neighborhoods. Our deck 4 cabin was nice and cool [even had to turn up the thermostat] I mentioned to the CD the complaints I have read on CC about deck 6, and she admitted that the separate AC system added for that new deck had some teething problems that were corrected after the first season. She also noted that the ship's AC system uses sea water and that makes it work perversely in the Galapagos climate where the water is warm when the air temp is cool and vice versa – the result is that the AC works too well in cool weather and not well enough in warm weather [I forget the engineering principle behind this, but it made sense at the time – of course that was the evening of the Wine Tasting, which may have had something to do with my comprehension ;)]. The dining room does get warmer as you go back, but we never had to sit further back than the first table past the arch and we did fine. I had heard that you have to go to the lounge to get Wi-Fi reception, but our cabin (403) was close enough that we had a good signal. The issue was getting beyond the local network to the internet – apparently there was an unusual problem on our cruise, because part way through they reformatted the network server with a new name and new passwords and after that it was much better. Service was good, but not great. Our cabin attendant kept everything clean and neat [she was OCD about everything – even our things – being kept in the “right” place!], but she had a blind spot for wash cloths and routinely failed to replace them. [Luckily we discovered that they use them as hand towels in the public washrooms, so we knew where to replenish our supply as needed!] The waiters in the dining room were very friendly and willing to make substitutions/corrections as requested, but service in general was slower than we would have liked [and with three friendly couples we had enough conversation going on that we weren’t bolting our food…] The naturalists were top-notch, and I can’t imagine any other cruise line having better ones. They were taking pictures throughout the cruise, and at the end we were each given a DVD with a slideshow and 500+ pictures – and also a coffee table book that Celebrity produced about the Galapagos Islands – nice touches! [And if our luggage wasn’t overweight on the flight in, the addition of that book ensured that it was coming home!] So, from a cruise and cruise-tour perspective this was a 4- or 5-star experience. But that’s not why you go to Galapagos [it’s just what makes it possible to survive…] You go for the itinerary – the unique geology, flora and fauna. And this trip did not disappoint in any way. We chose the Inner Loop in May because we wanted to see the Blue-Footed Boobies doing their mating dance – and we saw it in spades! Also the male Frigate birds with their gular pouches expanded like their had overdosed on Viagra! Everything else was gravy, but there was lots of gravy: sea lions in all the usual poses; many kinds of birds [I guess it’s obvious that we’re not “birders” – all I know about pelicans I learned from Ogden Nash: “A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill can hold more than his belican”]; the stark beauty of volcanic landscapes, with more variation than I expected – and above all the animals’ complete lack of fear about our presence. The Galapagos delivered everything you have ever read it can. It helped that we had great weather. There was no rain to speak of until the last day. The air was hot and humid, especially on the afternoon excursions, but there was usually a good breeze to keep us cool. [There is no shade anywhere, so you really want to wear a big hat and spread on the SPF50.] And the water was still warm enough that we didn’t need the (provided) wetsuits. So my conclusion on timing is that early May is an excellent choice. The one weak spot in the itinerary [in our opinion] is the final day on Santa Cruz [and this is common to both itineraries]. It’s a good thing the Giant Tortoises were not high on our to-do list because they really didn’t hold to the level of “Oh My God” that the rest of the animals had established. [This was our one rainy day, which may have also affected our enjoyment.] We took the morning tour of the Charles Darwin facility – but the museum is closed and even the gift shop was closed on our visit, so this was just a dull walk to get to the Tortoise pens. There we saw randy Diego and two of his harem [he and the two young males he incited to jealousy brought their species back from 14 to 2,000], one pubescent male mistakenly humping another male [at the wrong end!] while a few others milled around, and dozens of cute babies being raised to restock the unique species on a couple of the islands. This was OK, but not much different from visiting any zoo [Diego was repatriated to the Galapagos from the San Diego zoo, hence his name]. We went back to the ship for lunch [this was option 2, which only 6 of us had chosen]. In the afternoon we were supposed to go back to the island for a bus ride to the highlands where we would see the Giant Tortoises in the wild, but since it was still raining only one couple decided to go – and they reported that after a 45-minute bus ride (each way) and much slogging through mud, they only saw a total of two (count ‘em – 2!) tortoises. [They also stepped off the bus into two feet of brackish water, which didn’t add anything to the enjoyment of the day ;)] Option 1 was a full day on the island, with the Darwin Center in the morning, a tree planting service-trip, lunch at a restaurant in the highlands, and then the search for wild Tortoises. I don’t know how this is handled normally, but on our cruise there was a special attempt to set a world record for simultaneous tree plantings so there was heavy pressure [Ecuadorian women know how to use guilt as a weapon as well as any nationality!] and almost everybody signed up. The reports back were not good: the food at the restaurant is not up to Xpedition standards, the folkloric entertainment was amateurish, the mud was as high as a tortoise’s eye, and several people fell or had near misses. Instead of being shunned as non-team players we were praised for our good judgment in staying on the ship. Other than that day, all the excursions were top notch and we almost always chose the more demanding one. There were usually two choices for both the morning and evening excursions – you sign up the night before so that they can allocate panga-loads among the two options [National Park rules limit each panga to 16 guests, so they have to make sure everybody sorts out correctly.] As far as I could tell everyone got their first choice every day [I think there are seven pangas, so they have a little wiggle room – we were occasionally on a less-than-full panga]. On two days there was also a third activity – a deep water snorkel. We passed on these as DW doesn’t swim well enough and even I was scared off by the dire warnings. After hearing the reports back I think I could easily have done them [the water is actually calmer away from the beach] but three excursions in one day would probably have been too exhausting. One added bonus was the stars! DW went up to deck 6 (which has the fewest lights) and after her eyes adjusted she was blown away by the myriad stars and the painted stripe of the Milky Way. This was unexpected, but another awe-inspiring aspect of nature in the Galapagos. We missed the extra bonus of the eruption of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, which started two weeks after we were there – the next Inside Loop cruise was perfectly timed, and they should be seeing views like this: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-32882500 Too bad we missed it on the May 10 sailing – we could have saved a trip to Hawaii! The end of the trip was a smooth as everything else. One last panga ride [stayed dry this time], charter flight, and bus back to the J W Marriott. I should mention – and praise – the food service on the flight: first a white tablecloth for your tray table, then the meal tray which includes a blue cloth napkin and real metal tableware. Pay attention to your napkin: many have a Celebrity X embroidered in the corner, but a few have a Blue-Footed Booby [two of which are now in our collection] We had an excellent (and included) dinner that night in the hotel restaurant, then breakfast the next morning and a quick shuttle back to the airport for our flights home. The altitude didn’t bother us as much this second time in Quito [probably because we didn’t arrive exhausted, or maybe because we didn’t actually try to do anything] and we got home safely late that night. We had been warned that Quito is “dry” on Sundays and therefore on the return evening you could not purchase wine at dinner. This is not quite true. If you go to a regular restaurant, it may be true [we didn’t test this] But the hotel is allowed to serve alcohol along with food. Not only was the restaurant selling wine, the bar was doing a good trade also [I suppose they provided peanuts or something to qualify as “food”] But the advice ended up working to our advantage since we brought that free bottle of wine back from the ship and the hotel bar was happy to open it and provide wine glasses (for free), which we then brought into the restaurant without raising any eyebrows. This was our 11th cruise, plus we have taken many DIY land trips – and it is etched in our memory as the best cruise ever. Celebrity Xpedition is the only way to go in the Galapagos, and the islands are everything they are reputed to be. I highly recommend it – but don’t wait too long because even with all the Celebrity luxury this is still an expedition cruise. Do it now, and save the Caribbean for your dotage! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
In my opinion. All the Celebrity email promotions were useless, including my birthday credit because they were targeted to everything but the ship I was on. No-one at Celebrity phone center has any idea what the Xpedition is about.  ... Read More
In my opinion. All the Celebrity email promotions were useless, including my birthday credit because they were targeted to everything but the ship I was on. No-one at Celebrity phone center has any idea what the Xpedition is about.  Notwithstanding all the issues with Celebrity customer service. THE XPEDITION IS WONDERFUL AND NOT TO BE MISSED. A special number needs to be provided to access information about this cruise as the online process and phone contacts currently available do not help. The website needs updating to better provide detailed information pertaining to Xpedition only, with links that work to 'dining' 'included tours', etc. Having Dr Ellen Prager on board was a plus, her talks were very informative and her guidance along with that of the Naturalists was exceptional. Laurena who serviced our stateroom was wonderful, as were all the waitstaff in general. Of the naturalists I could not pick a specific one or two, The group worked well together and individually all brought a little different viewpoint to the onshore and snorkel experiences. The Islands visited on this cruise are a wonderful example of different wildlife and geology present in the Galapagos. The Xpedition is a great ship with only 99 guests maximum, food is all locally sourced and very well presented. The Zodiacs and their drivers take a maximum of 16 guests with a naturalist to each of the beaches (easy wet landings) lava (dry but sometimes difficult landings) and out of the zodiac into the water snorkel experiences. All of which excel at wildlife viewings and awesome photo opportunities. The staff make it a priority to ensure all guests of most physical activity levels can experience to the full the entire offering of the events scheduled. This ship and tour are not wheelchair handicap accessible. Wetsuits, masks, fins and snorkels and life vests provided are all well maintained and clean. Safety is a very large part of this Celebrity Xpedition cruise, yet does not overly limit the interaction with sea lions and turtles in the water and the very large tortoises and iguanas found on the islands. In conclusion, it is the corporate side of Celebrity that needs to 'get fixed' the Celebrity Xpedition itself is very different from any other cruise of most cruise lines, and is the most marvelous experience to add to one's list of adventures.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
There were so many things I was worried about when selecting a Galapagos Cruise so I'll try to address those. 1. Itinerary A or B? We talked with a couple who just came off A and were doing B with us and asked their opinion. They ... Read More
There were so many things I was worried about when selecting a Galapagos Cruise so I'll try to address those. 1. Itinerary A or B? We talked with a couple who just came off A and were doing B with us and asked their opinion. They said that they saw more and more variety of animals on A but B had far more breathtaking/variety of landscapes. Please keep in mind that they did not snorkel which means they missed LOTS of animals on itinerary B. Interestingly, my husband's favorite day was on Sullivan Bay where we walked extensively on a lava field-- great experience, but no animals. We liked the variety. My favorite was North Seymore, which was what you dream of when you think of the Galapagos-- it felt like being on an ancient planet, thousands of huge birds nesting in low scrub, with no fear of man so they are comfortable when you are a foot away. Most beautiful were the Frigate birds with their swollen red "hearts" just inches away from us, and their large, fluffy white babies which we watched them feed. Unreal. I truly don't think you can go wrong with either itinerary and we plan to go back in a few years to do A. Only issue I had with B was that the last two days were less remote than I would have liked-- each day we were in a city (Santiago and Santa Cruise) with pretty marinas but not much else to see and I was annoyed by the "shopping time" that felt like wasted time to me in each stop, especially since they take you on a nice shopping event your last day when you are back in Quito and it is all the same stuff. On Santiago, there is a stop at the Darwin research center which we just skipped based on previous reviews-- a beautiful day and we didn't want to spend it inside looking at "panels" that described exactly what we have been learning first hand all week-- people who went said it was really for kids and not worth the time. We explored the little town but there isn't much to see excepts thousands of sea lions. Santa Cruise was worse. In the morning they take you to the turtle breeding facility which is interesting though no like being on the remote islands. The bad part is you walk back on your own to the town and meet up for your ride back at the fish market-- but you have to wait over an hour because this is forced shopping time. It was sweltering hot and no one wanted to shop so all we could do was wait-- they gave us no alternative to shopping. The afternoon was worse in some ways. We were excited to see turtles in the wild but elected to do the tree planting where you helped reforest the island, then had lunch at a ranch before you went to see turtles in the wild-- I would not recommend this option, I would go back on the boat, eat lunch there then go out again to see the turtles in the wild. If you do the tree planting it is literally getting into rubber boots, being handed 2 plants, walking a few feet, putting them into a pre-dug hole, then covering the hole with soil. Ten minutes but a huge process of getting there, finding your boots, changing, taking them off again, etc. Seemed a bit silly-- I thought we literally would be planing for an hour or so. But the worst was then going to this ranch for lunch-- the experience felt so touristy, like a cheap low end cruise. The food was the typical buffet-- mostly carps with hunks of overcooked fish and dark meat chicken. Not nearly as good as the food on the ship. Then you had to sit though a half hour of local dancing which just wasn't consistent with the intent and nature of the trip-- to be in the wild, a remote place, to be an explorer. After that we had a literally 30 minute walk in the field of this ranch to see the turtles which you could see when you were eating lunch anyway. It wasn't actually a walk really a picture taking with a turtle then walking a few feet in a loop. The ranch was surrounded with wire fence and the owners had cut trees so tourists could see the turtles better. This just didn't feel at all like an authentic experience and was not up to the same expedition quality as the other days; kind of a bummer to end on this day. However, overall, the itinerary was amazing-- just that the first four days were far superior to the last two though to be fair so many were tired they probably appreciated it. Also, be aware that you really don't see anything on your first day at all despite the idea they plant that you will be seeing daphene island. In our case the plane leaving Quito was scheduled for 10:30 but didn't depart until 2:00. Based on the fact that the notice they posted had been whited out several times I would say this is common. So we basically got there in time for dinner and were super rushed the next morning having to do our snorkeling fitting then. As it turns out you never actually get to visit Daphene island anyway, all it would have been is the boat circling around it, there is no landing there or snorkeling. The only annoying thing about this was that we had to get up at 5am in Quito to get breakfast and be ready to depart for the airport at 7:30. No one informed us about the plane issue at all, they simply posted it and people coming into breakfast told us. I think we should have been immediately notified in our rooms and in the breakfast room so we could go back to bed if we wanted. 2. Will I see lots of animals? Best advice: snorkel. If you don't you will miss HALF of what there is to see. It is easy, learn now. Celebrity excels here with quality equipment and a process that makes you feel completely safe and comfortable-- they will immediately get you if you tire and watch like hawks. We saw sharks, rays, lots of fish, turtles-- but the experience of a lifetime was swimming just off the beach with a Penguin for 20 minutes and playing with the sea lions during the deep water snorkels (15 feet). The sea lions play this game where they swim right at you then dart away at the last minute over and over plus they will mimic all your moves-- the cruise director told us they love to do this. Mesmerizing, pure magic, just what you came to the Galapagos for. Celebrity won't teach you how to snorkel but will give you any advice, support, etc. so best to get a quick lesson ahead of time or have a friend traveling help you. They say expert snorkeling for the deep water but it just means you need to know how to swim and won't panic if you see a big animal. The current was light and they have you go with a buddy anyway and stay with the group. 3. Food? It was far better than a regular main dining room but not quite as good as a specialty restaurant. Fish and shrimp were generally overcooked, so stayed with pastas and meats-- but the lobster which was served four times was always excellent. Desserts were the weakness, not nearly as good as a typical Celebrity cruise generally custards, simple cakes-- no wonderful pastry. Breakfast and lunch were always very good with a station of custom cooking, dinner ranged from fair to excellent. Loved fresh juices and snacks waiting for you after each outing. 4. Service? AMAZING, best we've ever had on a cruise by far. Even though alcohol included, they were always right there asking for your order. From the restaurant to the cruise director who had to get your preference each day for tours, they were always flexible, cheerful and accommodating. The entire ship was super clean. 5. Rooms? Clean, comfortable, small. Beds in window rooms are narrow. We had two rooms for our family, daughters in window room we were in a junior suite. The junior suite was smaller than any regular balcony room we've ever had on a ship but perfectly fine for us since you spend so little time there. We did love the balcony because we looked at the stars each night, got amazing views of kicker rock as we circumnavigated it (get on the port side if you have a balcony and do itinerary B so you can watch from your balcony). Only issue for some might be that in our "suite" it was a double bed with the bed against the wall so the second person had to climb over to get to bathroom in the middle of the night. However we are both tall (5'11) and had no issue with size of bed-- in fact never slept so well in my life. Looked in other suites and I would not pay the huge fee to go up in size, you could barely tell the difference between a junior suite and expedition suite. 6. Seasickness. I was so worried and the boat does rock quite a bit but I used bonine and sea bands and had no issues at all and didn't hear about anyone else having issues. Most of the rocking was at night and as I said, I never slept so well. 7.Age Range-- I was prepared for all seniors (we are two teens and two in 50's) but we had a really nice range across the board, a few 20 something couples, six teens (it was school vacation week) and a nice representation of 40-60. There were a lot of 60-70 but mostly in good shape and no elderly at all. Celebrity did a nice job of having faster, slower walks and zodiac rides vs. walks so the slower people could travel together. Also after a day or so we learned how to group ourselves in terms of activity level-- you didn't want to be on the zodiac with the people who had to use the bathroom all the time or lagged behind or complained of the heat. 8. Size: we were a bit worried with just a 100 people we might be stuck with people we didn't like but it was an amazing group with many fast friendships formed; in fact the spirit of fun and camaraderie was one of the best things about the cruise. There was literally one obnoxious person that everyone tried to avoid. This sort of happiness factor was the reason we chose Celebrity over Silver sea, and it makes a difference. 9. Land Tour: We did the ten day, and it was largely wonderful as well. The Marriot is a particularly nice one and the food far better than I expected. The first tour in Quito was wonderful, lunch had a pretty view and was delicious (don't miss the local cheese/potato soup with great toppings). The only dissapointment was the afternoon tour to the equator-- trust me and skip it as other warned me to do. It is an ugly one hour ride when you are already tired, to and ugly unscenic location that is basically a monument on the equator-- except it is not actually the right line they have found out and will be building a new line. It is surrounded by cheap tourist shops and isn't really a museum-- just a few amateurish panels that you have to walk down the tower stairs to read. Celebrity should really offer an alternative-- Quito is so beautiful I wish we had stayed there and done the cable car ride or anything else. Dinner was excellent. On the return, we had a served dinner in a private room at the hotel with live music (a really talented sax vocalist) and were again surprised at the quality and delighted it wasn't a buffet. Nice way to spend your last night with all the friends you will make. 10. Best Souvenir: the locally made shawls they sell on the street for $2.50. My daughters also found some hand made jewelry but there isn't much and the best stuff is in Quito so don't waste your time shopping on the Galapagos. 11. Expense: Do it! It is so worth it, a truly one of a kind experience and a relief to have absolutely everything included and to feel that you were well treated, no one was ever trying to sell you. Best cruise, and one of best vacation experiences ever (Africa wins out) and we are well traveled. 12. Entertainment: None really but we loved chatting after dinner in the bar with new friends and we we're utterly exhausted each night and wanted nothing but bed and a good book. Energy needed: Don't wait until you are too old to do this. It is exhausting-- two hikes and snorkeling each day in the heat. Parting Words: Celebrity really has this down, I would pick them again. Everyone seemed happy, to be having a ball and to be delighted-- that's the atmosphere you want on a cruise. Best staff ever. I wondered if we lucked out with our fun, interesting, nice fellow passengers but I really think it is part of the experience Celebrity creates on this unique ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We had a wonderful cruise/trip to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We left from Miami at 1600, on Friday December 12 and returned on Tuesday, December 23. The flight to Quito was just under four (4) hours. We landed at the new ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise/trip to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We left from Miami at 1600, on Friday December 12 and returned on Tuesday, December 23. The flight to Quito was just under four (4) hours. We landed at the new airport about a one hour drive from Qutio. We spent Saturday touring Quito and visiting the actual Equator. We were able to take photographs straddling the northern and southern hemisphere. We flew to the Galapagos Island by charter flight on Sunday. It was a two hour flight from Quito. The Celebrity Xpedition is a 92-passenger vessel. The limit for the Galapagos is 100 passengers. We saw hundreds of marine iguanas, birds and sea lions. There were many firsts. For example, for the first time ever I saw flamingos in flight. Another high-light was visiting the tortoise Rehab center. The ship never moored. Zodiacs take you from the ship to shore. There was usually a long walk and a short walk each day. With the ability to snorkel on some days. All the snorkeling equipment is available. The Zodiacs carry 16 passengers in a group. Each group has a naturalist assigned. The service was outstanding. It was the first time we had tried an all-inclusive cruise and we loved it. Everything was included, meals, drinks, tips once we arrived in Quito. We used airline miles to fly from Miami. There may be a weight limitation, but laptops and camera equipment do not count towards the limit. Bring the best camera with the longest telephoto lens you can afford. I also bought an inexpensive water-proof camera for snorkeling. Bring long sleeve shirts and long pants since the sun is intense near the equator. I am a redhead so I even brought fingerless gloves to cover my hands in addition to head covering. We highly recommend this cruise. We also recommend going at this time of the year since it is still the dry season. There was no rain while we were in the Galapagos and only a short light rain in Quito. We stayed at the Marriott in Quito and visited the Cloud forest when we returned before flying back to Miami. You do have to be in good physical condition. Most of the shore walks were on unimproved paths and trails. If you have not already been to Machu Piccu, would highly recommend taking the combined trip since Machu Piccu, itself, can be seen in one-day.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity ... Read More
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity taking care of all details, everything would go well. NOT. We arrived at 11.35 pm on December 25 (we flew out of Newark, NJ) only to discover that "Celebrity comes in on Friday nights to pick up." Which meant that there was no one there to meet us. We checked our multi-paged itinerary and noted yes they had the flight right; yes it said the time. Yes the check in at JWMARRIOTT is December 26 -- and in 15 more minutes it IS December 26 -- so what happened??? No one knew. A greeter from Azmara got us a cab -- we spoke no Spanish and they didn't speak English -- and suggested we get a receipt. It was $25 and we tipped $2 -- and asked for a receipt. Neither the driver nor the bellman at JWMarriott understood and so we got our bags and went to check in minus the receipt. It's 1:30 a.m. We are told "you are not supposed to check in until 3:00 p.m." and I said, 'Where do you want me to sleep tonight" and the deskclerk insisted i leave my credit card. Done. The next morning we began a horrible, irritating and unnecessarily bureaucratic discussion with ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN that we had nothing to do that day, no one picked us up and can ANYONE HELP US get situated.???? No. I called the Royal Caribbean executive offices -- it was a holiday so no one was there. I gave up Christmas Day on the advice of the booking agent that "Quito for two days is a must!!" before we cruised. I called the Emergency line and the only advice they gave me was "too bad you didn't have a receipt for the cab because without it, you won't get reimbursed. Which of course they explained they would Have done! At 7 p.m. on Friday night, the Celebrity supervisor finally talked to us and said they would cover the hotel room the night before; but because we DID NOT MIND THE ACTUAL TIME OF CHECK - IN (3 p.m. on December 26) we were BOTH AT FAULT. So no meals and without the cab receipt? No refund. I was actually so tired and disheartened that I had already given this cruiseline more than $28,000 for the two of us what the hell. They could take their $27 and you know what. We had a good day in Quito. The tour is lovely and the guides are great. We then traveled most of Sunday to get to Baltra to board the ship. NOTE: THIS IS A VERY SMALL SHIP AND IS NOT IN THE LUXURY CLASS OF SHIPS AT ALL. I have cruised almost every line -- and believe me, this was basically a nice small ship that served some good lobster. It was the Holidays but on New Year's Eve they had no party planning at all. All 98 passengers milled around after dinner on the 4th deck -- which was awful -- and had to ask for Champagne at midnight. This was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families -- great -- and all ages. It could have been an amazing trip if the cruise director had planned for it. Monica, the cruise director, listened to no one. Example: I asked her why there were no hats, noisemakers, confetti -- anything -- to celebrate at midnight and she said, "oh your expectations are too high You're thinking we are a Celebrity cruise -- and we are not!" EXACTLY. The excursions are varied for different levels of physicality -- but again, Monica did not describe them well at all. All she needed to do was show photos of the terrain so that we could understand the difference between difficult and easier. When you are not on an excursion, there is nothing to do. Staterooms are very very small -- all on 4th deck were like inside cabins but with a porthole. The suites are better -- 5th and 6th deck -- but with so few, you need to book two years in advance. I wish I had. You feel the ship swaying all the time and had to hang on to the railings to walk safely. Food was good to just OK except for the fresh lobster -- which is amazing. The Naturalists are terrific but you never interact with them except on your excursion. How about our Captain and his executive crew! We never saw him, he never talked to anyone (and I did talk to many passengers about this) at all. We "saw" him at the wrap up "celebration" the night before we disembarked. He and his team were absent and it was so strange that they didn't circulate at all. HERE'S SOMETHING TO NOTE AND BE PREPARED -- We had to be out of our cabins at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 but sat in that ship until 10:30 and then went to the airport where we sat until 6 or 7 p.m. while we waited for the charted plane bringing the new GALAPAGOS passengers to Baltra. The plane was very late; we were all very tired and cranky and those of us who were going to Lima did not get to our hotel until 10:30 p.m. An entire day was wasted traveling. They need two chartered planes -- and at the cost per person for this cruise they need to fix that. Now for the good part -- definitely do the MACHU PICCHU extension option as it was the best part of our trip. The hotels were magnificent -- The Country Club Hotel in Lima; the Monasterio in Coscuo, and the Santuary in Machu Picchu were just to die for. Food? the Best in the world! We loved every minute. The HIRAM BINGHAM (Orient Express) train to Machu Picchu is an experience not to miss. First class and luxury all the way. The guides were terrific and worked with us to make sure everyone was ok and able to continue climbing. We were not troubled by altitude sickness but if you are worried, just keep drinking bottled water and the cocao tea. This is the part of the journey that made up for the disappointing cruise experience. Without Machu Picchu, I would have graded the entire experience a "5 out of 10".   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Others have done a _wonderful_ job of reviewing this cruise and their advice was very useful in letting us know what to expect. I'll just add things that either weren't mentioned or I would have preferred more emphasis on (or ... Read More
Others have done a _wonderful_ job of reviewing this cruise and their advice was very useful in letting us know what to expect. I'll just add things that either weren't mentioned or I would have preferred more emphasis on (or perhaps I just dismissed to quickly)... My wife and I sailed the "Outer Loop "B" cruise at the end of August 2014. It was our 4th cruise and was very different from any of the other "big box" cruises we'd done (Celebrity to Caribbean and Alaska, Royal Caribbean to Caribbean). We are both 50 and there were perhaps 5 other couples and a few singles traveling with their parents younger. Everyone else was older with an average age of late 60’s (?). But the average health/fitness was definitely better than other cruises we've been on (especially Alaska which had a lot of scooters). We did the "10-day package" with Celebrity. That means we flew into Quito, Ecuador with a few days cushion on either side of the cruise and the charter flight to Galapagos was included. It made the logistics a breeze and we’re VERY glad we went with that option. Remember the airport in Quito is an hour outside the main city so it’s not a small consideration to handle the transportation yourself – much less the flight to the islands. Celebrity has been doing this trip for 10 years and it shows in how smooth everything runs. The Marriott in Quito was very, very nice. Not “great” or “luxurious”, but would certainly fit in at any major city in the world - other than not being able to drink the water… ;) But seriously, it was really nice and Celebrity (and the hotel) are really, REALLY good about making sure you have plenty of bottled water. The breakfast buffets were very nice – I can’t really think of anything I could ask more for all things considered. BE SURE TO GET THE HOT CHOCOLATE AT BREAKFAST IN THE HOTEL! The evening dinners and lunch covered by Celebrity were also very nice. What you’d expect from a Celebrity trip. The hotel gym was quite acceptable – one of the nicer hotel gyms I've used. Though a decent workout for me was virtually impossible due to the altitude. I had a minor headache most of the time, and so did others. Not so bad it was worth taking meds to avoid…? Free wifi was available for two hours per day in the hotel lobby. If you have the juice, you get upgraded by Marriott and they have free wifi in the VIP suite on the 9th floor – along with free beer/wine/food. I’m not sure if you can pay for the upgrade, but I’m not sure it would be worth it for most people. You’re not really in the room that long anyway. The first day’s touring in Quito was a couple of churches and the Equatorial Monument. The churches were… well… fancy catholic churches. Unusual in that they were usually made of lava stone (!) but incredibly intricate and detailed/gold on the inside. Maybe a bigger deal if you’re Catholic… Worth paying the couple bucks to take pictures inside the first? I suppose. You’re there anyway… but I don’t think those are pictures I’m going to be showing off to friends from this trip… ;) Lunch was good but our “singer” was a young woman doing show tunes and opera. Too loud and too intimate to talk during the singing and, if you’re not into that music, might as well eat quickly and go outside. Or eat on the outdoor balcony and you’d probably feel more comfortable chatting. I’m confused why they don’t take this opportunity to highlight music of the region, but I’m not in charge (says my wife. Regularly). The food was nice. Knowledge that the Equatorial Monument/Site was not using the actual line really puts a damper on the whole thing. It would be a pretty cool location otherwise. You literally can’t get to the line from the site since it’s in a dry river bed that’s fenced off… But hey… you’re here anyway, so just go and check it out. Just driving around in the city can be educational, so “take it for what it’s worth”. The trip to the airport, handling the luggage, charter flight to Galapagos, all that. Super well handled by Celebrity. Your vacation really does start when they meet you in the airport the first night. On landing in Baltra, you’re pretty much hustled right through Customs and onto the ship. Remember, from this point forward, no point in trying to be “in the front of the line.” You’re all going to get “there” at the same time for the next week. So just relax and look for bottled water… ;) The crew on the ship deserve a big tip of the hat. Others have said it and I agree. They really do treat you on a personal/friendly level. Probably possible since the ship is so small, but don’t be surprised if the bartenders AND waiters figure out what you like to drink after a few days. And speaking of drinks, top notch with as much as you’d like. Drink specials for fun on some of the days, but they were extremely generous with the pours. Maybe being from Northern California, we are a bit spoiled with wine varieties and I wasn't a big fan of what they served – “drinkable” certainly, but no new favorites discovered. Celebrity makes a point of highlighting the rigorous requirements of this cruise, and the naturalists are very up front about what is required, but they still end up with people over-estimating their abilities and either having to turn back or really, REALLY slowing down the entire group. I kept trying to figure out a “fitness test” you might be able to use to give you (the Cruise Critic reader) an idea of what level is required. The best I can think of: if you can get into the back of a pickup and stand up in the bed without using your hands – or climb a 6 foot ladder with no hands, you’re going to be TOTALLY fine with doing the long hikes/walks everywhere. You can pretty much dismiss their warning when they describe the landings or walks as “strenuous”. If you need one hand to do either of those things, you’ll probably be OK, but might consider the shorter walks on the rough lava – especially the one(s) with slipper/mossy lava. If you NEED both hands to get into the truck bed or climb the ladder, you should probably do only the short walks. And if you can’t get into a truck bed by yourself and you can’t climb a ladder, this is probably not a cruise for you… ;) Because if you can’t get into and out of the zodiacs (they never called them “pangas” around us…?), and have balance issues, you’re not going to be able to make it on the excursions. AND IF YOU’RE NOT GOING ON THE EXCURSIONS, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON THIS CRUISE. You should make a point to go on EVERY excursion! Many people skipped the final “deep water” snorkeling because we were told the water would be colder than the morning’s dive (which was 60 degrees) and you’d only see “more turtles”. It turned out to be warmer (almost irrelevant anyway), but there were literally SCORES of turtles. Truly the best dive of the trip and those that passed on it kicked themselves. Do EVERY excursion! Also, if you've not done any snorkeling, try to get some practice in before the trip. The “deep water” snorkeling was usually quite a bit better. By “deep” they mean 10’ to 30’, but there’s no place to stand up – so you go into and out of the water straight from the zodiacs. Also – the long walks did have viewings of different items (not always), but so long as you can handle it (see fitness issues above), there’s no reason you shouldn't go. They typically say one is 60 minutes and one is 90 minutes, but the pace is generally pretty slow and most of the time is spent watching/picture taking. None of them were a grueling death-march. And the more time you spend walking or snorkeling, the more likely you are to see “stuff”. As for pictures – we brought one “good” DSLR type camera and my wife used that on the excursions. 200 mm zoom seemed fine and I agree with other posters it would be tough to swap lenses while walking. She got an “over-the-shoulder” type sling which worked great. She transported the camera to shore in a neoprene cover inside a waterproof sack during the zodiac rides. Worked fine and there ARE occasional “rogue” waves that will drench you water. And I do mean _drench_ you, so consider carefully if you’re going to have your camera out in the open during the zodiac rides. I only saw a few of those drenchings, but if you go with a zip-lock bag, it better be zipped shut! I carried an iPhone while on the walks. Primarily in case something “bad” happened to the main camera or its memory cards (lost, failure, stolen, etc.) we’d have some pictures _AND_ the iPhone worked great to get short movies. I did a number of shots while walking through and over the animals and those really gave a great sense of what the experience was like. We got a little $6 waterproof bag/envelope for the phone on the zodiac rides. The gift shop on the ship had batteries and extra memory cards. You should probably plan on bringing in around 100 Gb range if you store shots in RAW format. We also had a GoPro. We got some great for shots with turtles, penguins, sea lions, iguanas, and cormorants. If you have access to one, bring it. The Outer Loop had a hand full of "wet landings", but they were all on sandy beaches. We bought the "water shoes" mentioned by everyone, but after the first landing (and checking with them), I just wore flip flops until it was time to jump into the water, then changed into hiking shoes on the beach. Those that wore the water shoes during the walks were probably wishing they didn't have shoes full of sand... I know I don't find the water shoes very comfortable for walking normally, much less after splashing through the sand. I could have saved the money on the water shoes... And speaking of shoes, if you’re in decent shape you really only need “good walking shoes”. “Hiking boots” are just not needed. There were several islands that included walking over very rough lava (ie, you had to watch EACH FOOT as you stepped and couldn't look up while walking). But those were the only times I saw the naturalists wearing anything other than crocs. ;) Our naturalist was actually barefoot on one of the other islands. So just a pair of good tennis shoes would probably be fine if you don’t already have low hiking shoes. Weather while there was in the low 70’s with humidity in the upper 50’s. Light breeze and partly cloudy. Perfect. Shorts on the islands would have worked fine the whole time. Speaking with the naturalists, April is their favorite time. Water is quite a bit warmer and there is a lot more “sexy sexy” time going on with the animals around then. The hot tub on the ship was really a “very warm” tub, but great after the couple of colder snorkeling trips. Other than that we didn't use it (nor did I see it in use, but it’s on the sixth deck so… not much up there anyways. THE GYM! I could find very little information on the gym. I would have taken a picture to post, but it doesn't need that much information. It’s the size of a small cabin with a treadmill, stair-stepper, and a stationary bike. There’s also a set of dumbbells that goes up to… wait for it… 12 whole pounds. Considering you’re spending your days doing (modest) hikes, the aerobic equipment seems redundant. And with nothing other than light dumbbells, the gym is completely useless. I imagine few of the passengers ever use a gym, but I do work out regularly and would have liked a LITTLE more so I could have done more than body weight exercises. Also – no place on the ship to even do pull ups… I looked all over and asked several crew members (apparently I was the first one to ask…). So do NOT plan to get any sort of working out done – other than walking and body weight type stuff. Deck 4 was “the place to be”. Any other deck and you’re going to be going up and down stairs a lot. The bar on deck 5 was not open once while we were there (though another passenger (Paul!) did succeed in magically calling waiters up to us). One of the crew said they’d never seen the deck 5 bar in use, so don’t plan on getting a room on 5 thinking you’re going to hang out there. Actually decks 5 and 6 had seating areas you could hang out on in peace. Unfortunately the ship is too bright to see much in the way of stars… : ( We did the bridge tour. Can't do it until the third day of the cruise, but worth the 20 or 30 minutes as you learn a lot about the ship and specifics to sailing in these islands. Ask shortly after going on board to get a spot early on. People keep mentioning the anchor dropping - I'm pretty sure you hear it on the ENTIRE ship, so don't avoid a room towards the bow just because of that. BTW, they deliberately avoid dropping anchor before 7:00 am on purpose. You're probably going to want to get up then anyway. And yes, the boat does rock. I didn't hear of anyone getting sick from it, but I did notice a few passengers with patches and bands. If you're prone to sea sickness, bring the appropriate drugs/straps, but it's not so excessive as to be annoying. There was a single under 18 year old on the cruise. She was an exceptionally well-behaved young lady traveling with both parents, but she didn't have any "non-adult" company. Be sure that's OK if you're bringing someone younger with you. Most passengers definitely took advantage of the "all-inclusive" alcohol. While almost everyone was drinking, almost everyone is conscious of the early morning required tomorrow and didn't get too wild. Most were in bed by 10 pm so I never noticed anyone getting out of hand. I brought a couple books with me (I’m an avid reader). I read exactly ZERO books while on the trip. So take even fewer books than you were planning. Maybe one, just in case or for the plane ride? The schedule revolves around eating, getting ready for/doing excursions, more eating and perhaps socializing after dinner. There really wasn't much in the way of down time unless you deliberately chose to hang in your cabin. Or sneak in a nap after lunch. Room on deck 4 was very nice. Not quite as large as those we've had on the "big ships", but perfectly acceptable. The bathroom and shower did seem a little smaller (and the room's ceiling was a bit lower?), but otherwise fine. One item to note: the bathroom floor is raised about 8 inches which means anyone over 6'4" is going to be bending over a bit in the shower. I'm 6' but didn't have any problems with the height. When leaving Galapagos, at the airport, we had about 2 hours of waiting time. There were a number of shops inside the airport before the security check-in. A few higher end with Panama hats, chocolate, etc. But they also had a number (dozen or so?) that were just like the shops we’d seen on Santa Cruz Island. And pretty much exactly the same stuff for the same prices. So you will have PLENTY of time to get shirts, etc. there if you want. Otherwise it was the longest/boringest downtime in the trip. A note on the shopping on Santa Cruz Island (for the “Outer Loop” trip). That did seem to be the only place to buy decent jewelry without spending a crazy amount of money. The t-shirts, bags, etc. were almost ALL the same and the same price everywhere – including the airport. Don’t really need to bother going in all the shops. Really, you don’t need to bother. Spend the time just wandering around a bit instead. Don’t miss the open air “fish market” with the resident sea lions. On the return day (Sunday) after we got back to Quito, they took us to a “cheap” market area for 30 minutes (on Washington near Amazon Ave). There were dozens of tiny stalls – almost all selling the same thing (shirts, scarves, blankets, hats, etc). All were about the same price and the quality was pretty good considering the prices. Though do pay attention to the t-shirt quality, not all were the same. Shirts here were almost exactly the same as we’d seen elsewhere, but only $5 to $6 – instead of $15 to $18 on Santa Cruz and the airport. If you want to get a lot of shirts (even ones that say “Galapagos” on them), this is the place. Panama hats were $15 to $18. 30 minutes wasn’t long enough and we ended up walking back the next day. Staying on the main roads and it was perfectly safe during the day. Just be careful crossing the streets as pedestrians do NOT get much respect… ;) Later we were then taken to a “fancy” shop for about 30 minutes. VERY nice stuff, but pretty darned expensive to. If it’s in your budget, you’ll probably want something out of here. Celebrity handled dinner Sunday night. We were told no alcohol is sold ANYWHERE in Ecuador on Sundays, but other tables eating a little later than us DID get wine… be sure to ask about that. On the last day we paid $45 for a late 6 pm checkout which meant we had a 2 hour wait in the lobby for our bus. 2 hours in the lobby was fine. They do have some limited shopping options in the hotel, but I’d recommend doing the airport (unless you need to get some jewelry). The late check-out was WELL worth it since we were able to relax that day. We walked the city back to the market, got some food, worked out, swam a bit, napped, showered, and prepped for a long night of traveling. Of the many people I've spoken to that have done a lot of traveling, this trip ranks right up there as a tie/second place with an African safari. Nothing else tops it and the Celebrity option turned out to be great. Worth the money? I’d say it’s priced about right.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This is not what I would describe as a leisurely pleasure cruise. There is no showroom or casino on the ship, very little entertainment & no pool. This is for those interested in close up encounters with an amazing variety of animals ... Read More
This is not what I would describe as a leisurely pleasure cruise. There is no showroom or casino on the ship, very little entertainment & no pool. This is for those interested in close up encounters with an amazing variety of animals on land, in the sea & in the air that have no fear of humans. Many of these creatures will come within a few feet of you or swim right by you. Many are found nowhere else & some were almost driven to extinction by visitors many years ago. I had been to the Galapagos Islands once before. My wife & I went there in May 2011 & I loved it so much that I wanted to return. When we were planning that trip we were considering the Lindblad / National Geographic Endeavour, we assumed they would have the best naturalists for this once in a lifetime trip. Our travel agent suggested we look at Celebrity Xpedition. When we did the comparison, the ships & itineraries were similar, but Celebrity Xpedition was much less expensive & all inclusive. We select the Celebrity trip. We were later told by one of the naturalists on the Celebrity Xpedition that all naturalists in the Galapagos are trained & certified by the Galapagos National Park Service. It is possible that the larger ships can attract the more sought after naturalists, but both the Endeavour & the Xpedition carry the same number of passengers & all of the naturalists we encountered on the Xpedition were excellent. My wife really enjoyed the trip, but had a problem with the heat & humidity of the Galapagos Islands in May. First, a little about me: I am a 70 year old male in good health. That’s enough about me. The remainder of this report is about my Galapagos trip that started on April 4, 2014. This time I was joined by my adult son, David. The same as last time, I chose the 10 night package which included 7 nights on the ship plus 2 nights in Quito prior & 1 night after the voyage. I felt this gave us time to adjust to the time zone, recover from the long flights & get to see a little of Quito. Celebrity offers 2 itineraries in the Galapagos Islands. On my previous trip there Celebrity only offered one itinerary. Sometime within the intervening 3 years the Galapagos National Park decided that some of the islands were getting too much traffic while others saw little. As it was explained to me, in an attempt to even out they traffic to the various islands they now require that no ship can visit the same island within 10 days. This required an itinerary A & B (now called inner & outer loops). I chose itinerary A (outer loop). I flew from Newark, NJ & David flew from Denver, CO. We met in Houston, TX & took the 5 hour 20 minute flight to Quito, Ecuador; arriving at about 11 PM local time. Getting our luggage & going through customs & immigration was fast & easy. As promised, Celebrity personnel were at the airport to greet us. Along with 12 others arriving on the same flight, a bus carried us & our luggage to the J.W. Marriott in Quito. The new airport is about 1 hour bus ride from the hotel. Note: Quito is at 9,350 feet above sea level & is it is the highest official capital city in the world. Tour Day 1 - Friday We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights. The J.W. Marriot Quito hotel is the same hotel that Celebrity used three years ago & is first class. As we entered the hotel lobby, Celebrity had a desk where they issued us our room keys, ship luggage tags & itinerary for the following day. Our luggage was brought to our room shortly after we went in & looked around. The hotel has large rooms, an outdoor heated pool, free fitness center & a free hot buffet breakfast from 6 to 9 AM daily. Omelets to order are included. The security system includes a card that unlocks your hotel room lock by placing it near the reader device on the door. The elevator will only go to the lobby & spa floors without using your card. The elevator will also stop at your assigned floor if you use your card. There was a charge for multi-device internet access from our room. Probably because of my previous stay at this hotel, I qualified for the VIP Lounge on the top floor where they had free snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi all day & some hot items at dinner time. It also had a balcony with a nice view of the surrounding area. Tour Day 2 - Saturday After an included hot buffet breakfast in the hotel, 4 air-conditioned busses picked us up at the hotel at about 9 AM for a guided tour of Quito. The busses always have an ample supply of cold bottled water. A local Celebrity guide was assigned to each bus. A security guard carrying a baton is also assigned to each bus. They assist by stopping traffic when the group crosses a street & discourage any locals who might want to prey on tourists. While it may have been overkill to have security guards on this tour, it shows that Celebrity was super conscious about providing first class service & safety. A nice lunch was provided at a local restaurant (Sucre’s Theatrum). After lunch the tour visited the “Half of the World Park” which lies on the Equator; 15 km north of Quito. Celebrity provided the entrance passes. Note: the restrooms at the park are free, but don’t have toilet paper. That can be purchased from a small vending machine outside the restrooms for 10 centavos. Celebrity seems to have thought of everything & had a roll of toilet paper near the front of the bus. We enjoyed the tour which lasted about 7 hours & returned us to the hotel at about 4 PM. At about 6 PM the busses took us to a local restaurant (La Gloria) for an included dinner which was very enjoyable. Again the busses had a local Celebrity guide. Our security guards were visible outside the restaurant. Since we arrived in Quito so late, the lunch & dinner provided opportunities to meet some of the other group members. The busses returned us to the hotel after a leisurely, enjoyable dinner. Checked luggage with the ship luggage tags needed to be brought down to the hotel lobby at night. The Celebrity staff sealed each suitcase with a plastic tie. During the night, Ecuador inspectors were able to randomly open the luggage to make sure it didn’t contain any food, plants, etc. that aren’t native to the Galapagos. If a bag was opened for inspection, the Celebrity staff re-sealed it. Tour Day 3 - Sunday After an included hot breakfast, we boarded the busses at about 7:30 AM for the 1 hour trip to the airport. Our checked luggage was transported separately & we didn’t see them again until they were delivered to our stateroom on the ship. Celebrity provides access to the airport VIP lounge at the airport until boarding the plane at about 9:30 AM. Another nice thing about the Celebrity package is they provide a charter flight directly from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos. Most passengers going from Quito to Baltra first fly to Guayaquil on a commercial aircraft & then fly from there to Quito. I decided to pay an extra $99 per person each way to upgrade to first class in order to make sure neither of us ended up in a middle seat during the 2 hour flight. This was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure we stated the cruise in the best possible frame of mind. When we arrived at Baltra airport, the authorities efficiently checked our documents & inspected our carry-on bags. Celebrity includes the $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee & the INGALA Tourist Card fee. Next we boarded a bus for the short ride to the dock where we boarded Zodiaks (small, stable inflated craft with outboard motor) for the 10 minute ride to the ship. We were in Premium Cabin Category XP Stateroom #414 on deck 4. The Celebrity Xpedition is a small ship holding a maximum of 98 passengers. Galapagos National Park rules limit ships to a maximum of 100 passengers. Every ship must include at least 1 certified naturalist/guide with a maximum of 16 passengers per naturalist/guide. By limiting the number of certified naturalist/guides, the National Park limits the number of visitors & ships at any one time. Celebrity Xpedition has 7 naturalist/guides on board that accompany groups of up to 16 passengers on all excursions. Internet access was available free in the lounge. Celebrity Xpedition has staterooms on decks 3 & 4 with suites on decks 5 &6. While our stateroom category was “Premium”, it was about 160 square feet. Deck 4 has 19 cabins & also housed the small library, lounge (with open bar), Guest Relations & the outdoor Beagle Grill (BBQ available for lunch). Deck 4 aft (rear) is also the place you gather prior to boarding the Zodiacs for every excursion. Deck 3 has 18 cabins, Darwin’s Dining Room (the only dining room on the ship. It has tables for all guests in a single seating), a small gift shop & the Beach Club (aft) where snorkeling gear is stored & where the Zodiaks arrive & leave the ship. Deck 5 has 8 suites. Deck 6 has 3 suites, a small exercise room & sauna. Outdoors there is a hot tub. Messages (fee) could be scheduled on this deck. David had one which helped reduce his arm pain. Staterooms have a Cooling Box, not a true refrigerator. It is stocked with complimentary sodas & bottled water. Our stateroom didn’t have a clock but other passengers told me that theirs did. I brought a travel alarm so it wasn’t a problem. I am sure that Guest Relations would have supplied one if I asked. We had a phone with automated wake-up call capability. There was a TV, hair dryer, desk & small couch. The queen bed was convertible to 2 twin beds. Each stateroom has a pair of binoculars (for use while on the cruise) & a plastic sheet with color drawings & names of Galapagos marine life (to keep). While almost everything is included in the upfront price (including gratuities), you may want to buy something at the gift shop, have a massage, etc. All purchases are charged to your stateroom to be settled on the last night of the cruise. Major credit cards & cash are accepted. We found a Bottle of champagne in our stateroom for previously taken a Celebrity cruise (Captain’s Club). Towels were changed up to 3 times per day due to showering after morning & afternoon excursions. There was no smoking except for designated outdoor areas on certain decks. The ship has no formal nights; dress is always casual for dinner & beach attire is fine for breakfast & lunch. I signed up for a free tour of the Captain’s Bridge which was conducted by the ship’s Navigator. It was very interesting & I recommend it to anyone interested in how the ship works, navigates & communicates. While you aren’t in the middle of the ocean, the small ship can cause nausea, especially when it is anchored. There are almost no docks on any of the islands we visited so the ship anchors off shore & Zodiaks are used to transport passengers to & from the islands. Several of the passengers were wearing sea-sickness patches & some wore wrist bands. I wore SEA-BANDs & they seemed to help. David used the patches & they worked very well. Breakfast & lunch buffets are good. There was a BBQ lunch available most days in addition to the buffet. Dinners included a choice of appetizers, salads, soups (usually 2), 8 or more entrees & deserts. The left side of the menu was constant throughout the cruise while the right side changed nightly. On some nights when I wanted a light meal I ordered just a hot soup & salad, no entree, & then I ordered seconds of both. From early morning to late night there is a free open bar with some fresh fruit & cookies. There is free bottled water at the bar all day & night plus on the rear of deck 3 before & after every excursion. Life jackets must be worn by all while on the Zodiaks. When you return from an excursion, the ship’s staff collects your life jacket (& a bag containing your gear after snorkeling), offers you a cold, wet wash cloth as well as a cold non-alcoholic drink. The only negative I had with the entire trip was a problem with our cabin’s temperature; the lowest it went was 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I like the room cool, especially when sleeping. I asked for it to be made cooler & they sent an electrician who confirmed that the thermostat in the room was working properly. I then asked for an engineer to look at it. He changed something in the ceiling vent that would improve air flow. That change resulted in the cabin temperature getting down to 71 degrees F. The staff also delivered a double headed fan. The repairs plus the fan made the cabin much better for sleeping. Some other passengers on various decks also complained about their cabin temperatures while others were happy with their cabin’s temperatures; some could get their cabin down to 69 degrees F. Each night on the ship the room attendant would leave a 1 page agenda containing the following day’s activities. Each night the Cruise Director would present a slide show & discussion of the following day’s excursions. At the end of her presentation she answered any of the passenger’s questions. Tour Day 4 - Monday This was the first day of excursions. The day started with early coffee & croissants from 6:15 to 8 AM. At 6:45 there was stretching offered on deck 5. The hot buffet breakfast was offered from 7 to 9 AM. At 8:30 AM those interested in the morning excursion congregated to board the Zodiaks for a Beach Walk & Swim or Snorkel in Gardner Bay on Espanola Island. I found this interesting & the swim was refreshing. We returned to the ship at about 11 AM. As I noted earlier, all excursions are conducted by certified guides/naturalists, no more than 16 passengers per guide. They organized this by allowing no more than 16 passengers per Zodiak plus a guide/naturalist and the driver. As soon as a Zodiak is filled, it departs & the next one pulls up ready for loading. When passengers exit the Zodiak on the island, it returns to the ship until all of the passenger that wanted to go on that excursion have been accommodated. The guides/naturalists have radios to signal the Zodiaks when to return to the island for the return trip. If there is swimming or snorkeling involved in the excursion, one or more Zodiaks stay near the swimmers in case they needed any assistance. Most landings on the islands were “wet landings”. That meant that you got off of the Zodiak into shallow water. I wore water shoes when going into the Zodiaks for a wet landing. If we were then going on a walk I would dry my feet & put on socks & sneakers before continuing. I would reverse this process for the return trip. Your stateroom attendant makes sure there are always dry beach towels in your stateroom for your use. The ship has walking sticks, masks, snorkels, floatation vests, fins & wet suits that you can borrow for free for the entire cruise. After the buffet lunch & BBQ from noon to 1:30 PM, we embarked on the afternoon excursions on Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. Here there were 2 options with dry landings; a “short walk” & a “long walk”. Both were about 2 hours long & could more accurately be called “rocky with some sandy areas” versus “very rocky hike”. The “long walk” departed the ship at 3:30 PM with the “short walk” departing at 4 PM. Everyone was back on board by 6 PM. David & I chose the “long walk”. Each passenger is asked to sign up for their preferred excursions the previous night. The Cruise Director was very flexible with last minute changes or groups that wanted to stay together. The guides/naturalists never rushed us & let each passenger walk at hers/his own pace. They provided interesting facts about what we were seeing & answered all questions. Their English was very good & understandable. At 6:30 PM there was a cocktail party followed by a briefing on the next day’s activities. Dinner was served at 7:30 PM followed by live music starting at 9:30 PM. The music was provided by a very talented keyboardist who also played in the afternoons when we returned from excursions. All activities on the ship were optional. If you wanted you could stay on the ship & not participate in any excursions, but you probably should not take this cruise for the excursions ARE the reason for this cruise. Tour Day 5 - Tuesday Each day started out the same with breakfast & stretching. Each evening ended the same with a briefing & dinner. I will only mention the unique events each day. The excursion choices in the morning were a “long easy walk with optional beach snorkeling” or a “short easy walk with optional beach snorkeling” at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island. Both required a wet landing & started at 8 AM & 8:30 AM respectively. There was also an option for “advanced snorkel activity” instead of the beach snorkeling. This was intended for experienced snorkelers & involved snorkeling from a Zodiak in deeper water. You could always raise your hand above your head while snorkeling & a nearby Zodiak would pick you up. You could also wear a floatation vest. Fins were recommended. After an Italian buffet lunch plus paninis & hamburgers there was a viewing of part 1 of a BBC film about the Galapagos. At 3:30 PM there was a visit to the “Post Office” & a Zodiak ride along the shore line. The “Post Office” is a barrel set up many years ago by sailors who would drop off their outgoing mail without postage to anywhere & go through the accumulated mail looking for items that they could deliver. This process continues to this day. Several people in our group found mail addressed to areas near their home town & took them for delivery. At 6:30 PM there was a Wine & Cheese Tasting. After the nightly briefing & dinner there was an Ecuadorian Naturalist Party with music & dance provided by the guides/naturalists. Tour Day 6 - Wednesday This morning’s excursion options were “long walk & short Zodiak ride” for 2.5 hours & an “extended Zodiak ride & optional short walk” for 1.5 hours on Punta Morena on Isabela Island. After a BBQ lunch there was a lecture on the geology of the Galapagos Islands. This was followed by the afternoon excursion options of “long fast walk & optional snorkeling” for 2.5 hours and “short walk & optional snorkeling” for 2 hours. David took the fast walk & I took the short walk. Afterwards, David told me the “fast” walk wasn’t fast. A cocktail party & briefing preceded dinner which was followed by a passenger & staff talent show. Tour Day 7 - Thursday The morning excursions options were “long walk” at 8 AM for 2.5 hours or “short walk” at 8:30 AM for 1 hour on Espinoza Point on Fernandina Island. At 10:45 AM there was a “deep water snorkel” along the coast. After a Mexican buffet & hamburgers there was a viewing of part 2 of a BBC film about the Galapagos. At 3 PM there was another “deep water snorkeling”. At 4:15 & 5:30 there were Zodiak rides exploring the cliffs & coastline for 1 hour each. Before dinner there was a cocktail party & a crossword challenge. After dinner there was a “Crossing the Line” party celebrating the ship’s crossing the Equator twice. Tour Day 8 – Friday After breakfast there were 2 excursion options: “short walk” of about 1.5 hours or “long walk” of 2 hours on South Plaza Island, both with dry landings. After a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs & a small hot buffet, the guides/naturalists gave a presentation about their lives in the Galapagos Islands. Afterwards there were 2 excursion options: “short walk” of about 1.5 hours or “long walk” of 2 hours on Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island. A margarita party, trivia game & daily briefing preceded dinner followed by Karaoke. Tour Day 9 – Saturday The morning excursion was a dry landing & walk to the Charles Darwin Station & Giant Tortoise Breeding Center & optional shopping. After an Ecuadorian buffet lunch plus paninis & hamburgers, the excursion was to the highlands to see giant tortoises in the wild & optional shopping. Before dinner the Cruise Director gave a slide show of the best pictures taken by the guides/naturalists on this trip followed by a cocktail party. Dinner was followed by live music. Secret: Each passenger was given a copy of the pictures taken by the guides/naturalists. Tour Day 11 - Sunday We left the ship in Baltra & flew to Quito with busses taking us back to the J.W. Marriott. Later, busses took us to a giant outdoor market & a high end store. After returning to the hotel we had an included dinner in the steak house. I requested & was given a very late checkout for the last day at the hotel. Tour Day 12 – Monday – Going Home We started with an included hot buffet breakfast. Since we had a lot of time before our flight home, I used the free fitness center & David had a massage (fee). Celebrity schedule busses to take us to the Quito airport based on your departure time. Some passengers were continuing on to Machu Picchu & 1 couple was headed for Costa Rica. At the appointed time about 12 of us boarded our bus. Our luggage was loaded in the compartments in the lower section of the bus. At Quito airport the Celebrity representatives guided us to our airline’s check-in. David & I flew to Houston where we boarded our individual flights home. A few days later David called me to say what a wonderful trip it was & that everyone interested in wildlife should take this trip at least once. I was lucky enough to take it twice. Overall I can’t remember everything I saw on each excursion, but it was truly wonderful, including many sea lions & pups, blue footed boobies, albatross, giant tortoises, marine & land iguanas, a hybrid iguana, warm weather penguins, lava lizards, hawks, various finches, petrels, green sea turtles, Nazca boobies, gulls, Sally Lightfoot crabs, pelicans, flamingos, tropical fish & many more. On one deep water snorkeling excursion I was taking underwater video of giant green sea turtles as they leisurely fed on algae on the rocky bottom. Suddenly a penguin rapidly swam by. I did my best to follow it with the camera. Later, I was taking a video of a swarm of small fish when a sea lion swam through. It wasn’t until that night while I was reviewing my day’s pictures & videos that I saw I actually got good video of the events. On another occasion I was taking a video of a sea lion pup as it was looking for its mother on a beach when I got a great video of a blue footed boobie diving into the water head first with wings tucked back to catch a fish. I ended up with over 1400 pictures & many videos to review over the coming weeks. At the end of the cruise there was a list where passengers could sign up with their names & email addresses to facilitate picture sharing & to maintain contact after the trip. One nice lady shared a picture she took of David & me on the ship.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
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