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499 Celebrity South America Cruise Reviews

First let me say that at the better part of $20,000 per week, this was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken (on a cost per day basis). That said, a few observations: Disappointments: Our “Sky ... Read More
First let me say that at the better part of $20,000 per week, this was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken (on a cost per day basis). That said, a few observations: Disappointments: Our “Sky Suite with Infinite Verandah” would be better described as “Room with Openable Window”. We paid extra, and feel we got less than we would have with the standard cabin with a real verandah. Will avoid this cabin concept on future X cruises! I did this cruise on the Xpedition many years back, and was surprised at how different the demographic was this time. Very similar to that of a transatlantic voyage, the median age was likely in the 70’s, rather than the cross section of “explorer types” we had expected. The food was, by and large, average. Plusses: The vessel is literally a small version of a luxury liner. The common areas never felt crowded, always felt elegant. The staff was way above average in both efficiency and courtesy, at all levels. We experienced no add-on costs. Shore excursions, wines, premium liquors, tips, and two bags of laundry were included. The Internet connection was free, unlimited, and easily the best I’ve ever experienced at sea. So, would we sail on The Flora again? Unfortunately, no. At the better part of $20,000 per week (per couple), we felt the overall product was not commensurate with the very hefty price tag. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I have always wanted to observe what Darwin experienced on the Beagle that led to his monumental work and this cruise satisfied me on so many levels. The Flora is a beautiful and well-designed ship for exploration of the islands. The ... Read More
I have always wanted to observe what Darwin experienced on the Beagle that led to his monumental work and this cruise satisfied me on so many levels. The Flora is a beautiful and well-designed ship for exploration of the islands. The crew from top to bottom were efficient, energetic, warm and first class. When was the last time you saw a captain and hotel director loading hand luggage onto the passenger tenders? The naturalists were wonderful and took the same delight we felt in what we saw and experienced. The itinerary was fast paced, making some of wish there could have been a sea-day or two to catch our breaths, but everything went like clockwork and the experiences were magical. Absolutely all us cruisers had only the highest praise for this cruise. If you like to hike, snorkel, kayak, eat and drink well, and enjoy being with animals who have no fear of humans, this is the trip for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My husband and I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos and when I received a special offer from Costco travel for the Flora, I jumped at the offer. Be warned, that if you book only the 7 night cruise, you will not get much support ... Read More
My husband and I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos and when I received a special offer from Costco travel for the Flora, I jumped at the offer. Be warned, that if you book only the 7 night cruise, you will not get much support from Celebrity. You cannot book air through them and you will have to call and get the information you need to book air travel yourself, such as the times you should plan to arrive and leave the islands. An important thing to keep in mind when booking flights is that the Flora stays on Ecuador time, NOT Galapagos time, which is one hour earlier. Please note this review is written to give information to people who book the seven day cruise only who have to make a lot of travel arrangements on their own. We flew into Quito on September 13th and spent the night at the airport Wyndham. The next day, we flew from Quito to Baltra Airport. If you are not traveling as a group with Celebrity, when you get to the departing airport in Ecuador, you must pay $20 to buy a tourist transit card (do not lose this, you need to show it when you leave the Galapagos) at the airport. In Quito, the booth is to the right as you enter the departures door. Celebrity will reimburse you for this cost. Then you must have your luggage inspected before checking it or going to the gate. When you arrive at the airport in Baltra, you must go through another line and pay a $100 National Park Entry Fee. Celebrity will give you a voucher for this, showing the fee was paid, but if you are traveling on your own, they won't accept this, so be sure you have cash for everyone in your group. Keep the receipt and you will be reimbursed in cash by Celebrity. We spent the night before the cruise at the Royal Palm Hotel on Santa Cruz and arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to the hotel. If you are arriving the day before the cruise, you need to make a reservation at one of the hotels on Santa Cruz Island, a 5 minute ferry ride from Baltra. Most of the hotels are located in Puerto Ayora, on the other side of Santa Cruz Island from the ferry. You can take a cab ride; I believe that it is about 30 minutes and fairly inexpensive. There is also a bus. On cruise day, plan to be back at the Baltra Airport around 10 am. Celebrity says you should be there by 2, but arrive earlier. There are Celebrity employees at the airport; check in with them. If they owe you for your tourist transit card or park entrance fee, they will reimburse you then. You will need to wait for the passengers arriving on Celebrity's charter flight from Quito and can wait in Celebrity's VIP lounge. Then you will be bused from the airport to a dock where you will board your tender and ride out to the Flora. The Flora is a beautiful ship. We were in cabin 512, which featured a sky suite with a private veranda. I highly recommend booking this type of cabin; the private balcony is amazing and we never experienced any spray when sitting out there. The room had a very comfortable bed, a sofa, a large screen tv, refrigerator, and a very nice bathroom. Do not be concerned about the frosted glass in the bathroom; you still have enough privacy and it is very cool to be able to look out at the view while brushing your teeth. There is a faucet for filtered water in the bathrooms as well as complimentary metal water bottles. DO NOT drink tap water in Ecuador! Housekeeping cleaned the rooms twice a day. You can have laundry done twice for free during the cruise. There are binoculars in your room which you can use during the trip. The wifi worked fine for email and browsing, but I could not send photos using messaging. I had no problem sending photos using WhatsApp. Food on the ship was good, but not amazing. There was an abundance of fish offered every day, and despite what another reviewer said, there is plenty of lobster. They also had beef (which is pre-cooked sous vide), as well as a chicken dish every night. I got kind of tired of the same food by the end of the cruise. Drinks are free. The wait staff in the dining rooms are all excellent and friendly and speak English well. We especially liked Natalia and Zarella, AKA Lady Gaga. The other passengers were great, mainly from the US, but we also had several couples from the UK and one large family from Chile. There were two children on our cruise, sisters ages 10 and 11 and they were very well behaved and participated in all the activities. Be warned though, that this is NOT a cruise for children under about ages 10 or 11. There are no activities for them, no special food, and many younger kids will be very bored and will not be able to keep up on the daily walks. Every evening, passengers meet in the Discovery Lounge for a briefing on the next day's activities. In another review, someone already posted the outer loop daily schedule, and ours was the same, so I won't duplicate this. There are morning and afternoon activities, with harder and easier versions. Unless you have a physical disability, you should be fine with the harder version. You can always drop out if you have a problem. After the briefing, you sign up for the next day activities. These include nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling, deep water snorkeling, and tender rides. You will be issued wetsuits and they have them in all sizes, including child sized, so you should be able to find one which fits you, as well as snorkels, fins and masks, swim flotation vests, and a bag to hold everything. These are stored in the Marina area. If you enjoy snorkeling, you should try and take the Outer Loop cruise, which offers more deep water snorkeling trips (three) than the Inner Loop. The water when we went (September) was cold, in the 60s, so you will need the wetsuit. My husband did all the deep water snorkels and he also wore a neoprene rash guard and a cap to keep warm. These were the highlights of the trip for him, so if you love snorkeling, don't miss these. The regular snorkeling takes place after walks, so you will need to wear a bathing suit under your clothes. You can store your bag with gear on the beach, so you don't have to carry it on the walk. Everywhere you go on the Islands, you will be accompanied on the trip by one of the Flora's naturalists. These are all natives of Ecuador and many were born and raised in the Galapagos. They are very proud of their country and do a fantastic job of representing their country and educating passengers about the Islands. They are all great, but two special favorites of ours were Diego and Orlando. You can sign up for a special dinner with a naturalist; please do it! I have to give a shout out to the Captain, Captain Jaramillo, the Hotel Director, John Flynn, the Cruise Director, Marvi and Sachin, (not sure of his title) from the dining room. They were all over the ship, talking to guests, and making sure everyone had what they needed and were having a good time. John was at the tenders every day, helping passengers board and carrying life vests and bags. I was very impressed by how hard all of the crew worked. September is a great time for this cruise, due to the cooler weather. It was in the 70s most days, so never got too hot. I can't imagine taking some of the hikes when it gets to 100 degrees or more! You don't need to take any fancy clothing for this cruise; while some people got a little dressed up for dinner, most people were very casual. Popular clothes were things like Columbia PFG pants and shirts. I would recommend capris or lightweight long pants over wearing shorts, just to protect your legs from brush on some of the hikes. I brought a pair of Keen sandals and some Dansko Paisley shoes for hiking and they worked fine. You don't need heavy hiking shoes, but do bring shoes with good soles for hiking on lava rock. You will also need a hat and a jacket. Celebrity gives you a string backpack and a poncho, but you would be better off bringing a lightweight backpack to carry your water bottle, camera, etc. Debarkation went fine. Unfortunately, Celebrity told me not to schedule our departure flight before 2 pm, which was completely wrong. Passengers on the 7 day cruise only were in the first debarkation group, which left the ship at 9 am (8 am Galapagos time). We were at the airport before 9 am! Luckily, we were able to switch to an 11 am departure, so did not have to spend the day sitting in a small airport. All in all, my husband and I had a fantastic time on this cruise. The ship was amazing, the staff were all hard working, knowledgeable and dedicated, the wildlife and vegetation were incredible and we made some wonderful friends. I highly recommend booking a cruise of the Flora; it is a once in a lifetime trip you will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We were moved onto this ship from the Xpedition (which is now back in service) and she is a BEAUTY. Our cruise was her 7th sail, and she did not disappoint. - Overall, it's very well thought out, and uses great colors and ... Read More
We were moved onto this ship from the Xpedition (which is now back in service) and she is a BEAUTY. Our cruise was her 7th sail, and she did not disappoint. - Overall, it's very well thought out, and uses great colors and textures and has TONS of windows - The lounges are big enough that you don't feel crowded, even when everyone is in there for the pre-dinner presentation of the next day's activities - The dining room could use some better sound-proofing panels in the ceiling (when it's full, it's noisy), but the wait staff was exceptional and great views from nearly all the tables - Food is fantastic. This is not a stuff-your-face-24-hours-a-day ship; there are set B/L/D times since you are off the ship doing things in-between meals. When you come in off a tender, you're greeted with a little snack and some flavored water - Wine selection is better than the spirits, with some exceptions - be sure to try the local Ecuadorian gin, called UNDER, in your g&t! - Rooms are beautiful and the bathrooms are HUGE (larger than the ensuite in my 1950s house)! Some people had leaking showers during rough seas, but the ops team was working on correcting that during the following week's cruise - All staff is friendly and approachable; the naturalists clearly love their jobs and are really knowledgeable - Don't skip any excursions. Everything is super-interesting, and there are different "levels" of each excursion, depending on your mobility/how much exercise you want/etc - Evening entertainment is non-existent (after dinner), but there was a lot of time spent in the bar making new friends. Really great group of people on our sail. - The first day(Sunday) is a little chaotic, as you're getting through embarkation, the safety drill, snorkel safety class, unpacking your bags and a bunch of other things. That isn't the tone of the cruise going forward, so don't let it get to you. - All ports/excursions are reached via the tenders, which have a great set of steps to get on/off. Note that in rough seas, these stairs go up and down and it's a bit like a Fun House ride in an amusement park Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We just returned from the August 25, 2019 Inner Loop sailing on the Flora. It was a trip of a lifetime and Celebrity exceeded our expectations!!! From the minute we stepped off the plane until the minute we flew home, they were right ... Read More
We just returned from the August 25, 2019 Inner Loop sailing on the Flora. It was a trip of a lifetime and Celebrity exceeded our expectations!!! From the minute we stepped off the plane until the minute we flew home, they were right there taking care of all the logistics...ticketing, transfers, documentation, luggage, etc. It's also the first time on a cruise that we had a ZERO balance on the last day!!! I agree with all that Kathy said and I'm thankful that I don't have to give such a thorough review now!!! I had so many questions before the cruise and I wish I had read this sooner. For our experience, I found that my Chaco sandals were good for the beach hikes, but was very thankful to have trail shoes (Columbia trail running shoes) to navigate the rocks and lava fields. Plenty of people wore regular sneakers, which was OK, but they did slip on dusty rocks at times. There were 2 times they recommended long pants/sleeves, but I'm not really sure why? It was not necessary. The naturalists and the tender drivers stay covered head to toe at all times to protect from the sun. I'm from Georgia and don't like to be cold, but had the attitude that I could withstand it for a 45 minute snorkel!!! One time, I had to talk myself off the ledge because the cold water took my breath away upon entry. Once I regained my composure, it was totally worth it to see the turtles feeding on algae! I felt good about my clothing choices. Kathy is correct. No one cares what you wear. I would say most were dressed "nice" for dinner, but I did see some in jeans and even one couple in gym clothes. I usually wore a sun dress or pants with a cute top. Men wore jeans or slacks with a shirt. I also felt like I needed to look the part of adventurer, but that is not the case. The dry wicking shorts are nice and I used a PFG long sleeve shirt as my top layer. If you go straight from a hike to snorkel, wear your swimsuit as there is no where to change!!! I'm sure it would be frowned upon, but we figured out to take a washcloth with us to brush the sand from our feet after a wet landing. As for the underwater camera...I had a Fuji, but it filled with water on day 3. Before that, it took great pics. I'm sure it was user error as many people had the same camera. One thing I realized is that I was more free to enjoy the snorkel without worrying about the perfect shot. At the end of the cruise, they do give you a USB with pics from the week. Travel and tourism in the Galapagos is HIGHLY regulated, so you cannot just jump in the water anytime you want...or walk anywhere either. There were a couple of times, when we didn't have far to cruise, that we would just sit until it was our appointed time to disembark. We sat looking at nice calm water with a white sand beach in the distance but were stuck on the ship. By the time we snorkeled, the water there was choppy. That is my only complaint and Celebrity has nothing to do with it!!! The "deep water snorkel" is the best and you don't have to be super experienced...you just can't touch the bottom. They do give you a talk the night before each island to discuss excursion options and level of difficulty. Obviously, this is subjective, but we felt they might have put a little too much emphasis on "strenuous" or "fitness walk." I'm 51 and in decent shape. I walk a lot for exercise and found all the walks easy. My 81 year old mom would not agree. According to my Fitbit, the hike that went by Darwain's Lake was 33 flights of stairs. The one on Bartolome was 402 stairs plus some incline. All of the hikes had stops along the way for the naturalists to talk and point out critters. A disappointment for us was there was no snorkeling the last 2 days. The Darwain Tortoise Center was good, but I could've breezed through there and then snorkeled. I did not need all of the allotted time to shop. As stated the food is good. The breakfast was basically the same everyday, but yummy. The Grill is great for lobster, but I did hear someone say they will bring it to you in the MDR if you ask. The french fries are not worth the calories. I enjoyed the cultural food and different ceviche everyday. There was a family on our cruise with 4 kids ages 9-15. They were wonderful and added a great touch of fun to our week. I did hear that the week before had some challenging kids. As with any cruise, you never know what people will be there. We had a great group by week's end. There were those who kept to themselves and others who formed connections as the week went by. I have attached our weekly activity sheet. I'm happy to attach pics of the hikes and conditions if wanted. Celebrity provides you with a water bottle, poncho (needed once), lip balm and a string backpack. As noted, you must have your bags out the night before the cruise and the last night of the cruise. I wish I had had a bigger backpack or carry-on for this purpose. Hope this helps!! Have a great trip to the Galapagos. You will NEVER regret it or forget it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We booked the 10 night package through Celebrity and from start to finish it was amazing! From the minute we landed at the Quito airport to the time of departure, everything was so well organized and every staff member we encountered both ... Read More
We booked the 10 night package through Celebrity and from start to finish it was amazing! From the minute we landed at the Quito airport to the time of departure, everything was so well organized and every staff member we encountered both on land and at sea was great. The ship is gorgeous and very well designed for sailing in the Galapagos. Our cabin was the sky suite with veranda and it was spacious enough for two with a large bathroom and shower. I see that some other reviews have mentioned issues with water on the bathroom floor but we didn’t run into that at all. Our cabin attendants were phenomenal and did a great job. We never had to ask for anything as our room was kept immaculate and restocked daily. The restaurant and bar staff were excellent and they worked extremely hard. We had no issues with the service at all. In fact many of them went out of their way to make sure we were enjoying our experience. The food was quite good. Some things were average, but for the most part it was very good and we were happy with it. The naturalist guides were fantastic and you can tell how much they love the islands and love sharing it with others. They were all incredibly knowledgeable and really made the excursions enjoyable. The tender boat drivers were also all great. They were friendly and always tried to position the tender in ways that would allow for great photos of the wildlife. The captain, cruise director and hotel director were always around and checking in with guests to ensure things were going well. It was obvious that their main priority is to provide their guests with the best experience possible and they and their crew are working hard to deliver. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad we chose the Celebrity Flora. I really can’t say enough good things about every one of the Celebrity staff members and the ship in general. There were a couple minor negatives for us that I will mention. One was inconsistent room service quality. We ordered the club sandwich one day and it was great. A few days later we ordered it again and it was a totally different (and very subpar) sandwich. Everything else we ordered from room service was good though. Another thing is the policy of only 2 people to a cabin and still allowing children. There was a family on our cruise with 4 kids and the kids had their own cabins while the parents were in a different cabin. The kids cabins happened to be the ones next door to ours and they were noisy and disruptive on the first couple of days without supervision in their room. I think they got tired out after that and were pretty quiet for the remainder of the cruise so it was not a big deal, but it could have been much worse. Not only do I think unsupervised children in a cabin is a bad idea due to possible disruption of other guests, but it’s also a safety issue. When the kids were horsing around on their balcony next to ours it was obvious that one could easily end up going over the balcony railing. I will say that overall, kids being on the ship was fine and the ones on our cruise were generally well behaved, but I really think Celebrity should reconsider allowing children to stay in their own cabins without parental supervision. Side note - We were able to upgrade to first class on the charter flight from Quito to Baltra for only $220 USD per person round trip once we were checked in to the hotel in Quito. Celebrity made it super easy and I was happy with the price. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I posted many more details (and a few videos) on the "Just back on Flora" thread in the Flora roll calls but will try and summarize here. It seems like many of the other reviewers' comments may have been heard and addressed ... Read More
I posted many more details (and a few videos) on the "Just back on Flora" thread in the Flora roll calls but will try and summarize here. It seems like many of the other reviewers' comments may have been heard and addressed as we didn't experience those problems. From pickup at the airport to dropoff at the airport, Celebrity handled the logistical details seamlessly. We did the 10 night package and enjoyed the precruise experience at JW Marriott, the Quito city tour and lunch, and to a lesser extent the dinner (there were not many choices off what is an extensive menu). The charter flight was fine, the food served on it was very good. Yes there is a line when you arrive at Baltra to go through immigration but you do have access to restrooms and since you can travel with liquids, you can certainly bring a filled water bottle. The VIP lounge is not all that exciting but it was fine for the short wait while they sorted out the logistics and was a good time to chat with your fellow cruisers. The ship was beautiful - we were in 503 which was a regular verandah cabin and we thought it was spacious for a cruise ship cabin, especially the bathroom. We did not experience any issues with the sinks or the toilets and once I learned to put the bathmat down just as I opened the shower door, no problems there either. We found the mini nightlight under the sink in the bathroom was adequate for our needs, so never needed to turn on the main light- if you did I can see where that could definitely wake the other person given the glass wall. The sliding door to the balcony was very hard to open or close but without me saying anything to anyone, someone came one day and fixed it! The tender docking approach was great- with two options it was very easy to get on and off and emerging right into the marina area to rinse your shoes and sort out your snorkel gear was very useful. Loved getting something to drink and often a snack once you came off each excursion- the hot chocolate was gratefully received after snorkeling through water in the low 60s- and the sparking wine was appreciated each afternoon! The dining was disappointing; understand the restrictions on food coming in but we still think more could be done with what was there. The breakfast and lunch buffets were extensive and the salads at the buffet were colorful and interesting, but we got bored with what seemed to be the same fish prepared the same way every night. And it was inconsistent- one night I braved a meat order and left most of it, but apparently the Chateaubriand on the last night was great. That said, we didn't do this cruise for the food and what they served was certainly sufficient. Burgers and grilled lobster tails on Deck 7 were definitely a hit! I do agree that having the Ocean Grill bar open more- perhaps during sailaway and when you come back from excursions- would be nice, but going down to Deck 4 to get a drink and bringing it back up was not a big deal. Between two and sometimes three excursions a day (if you did the deep water snorkeling) we didn't need any more activities but I went to most of the naturalist talks - all of which were informative and worthwhile- and the cocktail mixing which was great fun. I thought the staff was fine- as good as or better than we have had on most of our Celebrity cruises- so no complaints there. Our cabin was serviced beautifully, the waiters and barstaff were helpful and efficient. The naturalists and tender drivers were just amazing. And the captain and especially the hotel manager- John Flynn- were always around and visible and willing to listen to issues. I am not a breakfast eater, and one day I just had not had enough to see me through both the morning excursion and the deep water snorkel scheduled before lunch. I stopped at Guest Services on the way back from the excursion and asked if someone could bring some cheese and ham or something up to my cabin in the 20 minutes that we had between these. Sure enough, ten mins later I had a plate. And I learned to at least try and have an egg in the morning! (one hint- fill a small cup with nuts at breakfast, or popcorn or corn nuts at lunch,it's great for a quick snack in your cabin later:) Shore excursions were definitely the highlight of the trip. Even with 100 people on board, when you tour in groups of 12 it seemed small, and we often were grouped with different people which was fun as we got to know many more people on the cruise that way (the group you are with depends on which of the excursions you are doing and what time you showed up to get your tender tickets). The 7:15 pm briefings were very clear and informative about what to wear, bring and expect but you do need to pay attention. There are two ways to snorkel- if its a beach snorkel, wear your bathing suit under your walking cloths and bring your snorkel gear (which you get he very first day and is always on hangers marked with your cabin number in the marina area). For a deep water snorkel, take your wetsuit to your cabin and change, then go to the marina and pick up your snorkel gear on the way out. Seeing the animals and birds in their natural environment was beyond amazing. Yes there are restrictions on where you can walk but I think most of us recognize and appreciate that as this place is magical and it is so important to do what we can to save it. Others have talked about what you can see on these, and I posted videos on the thread listed above so the only thing I will add is that if you are preparing to go on this cruise, and want to get the most out of it, practice your balance, and practice walking on very uneven terrain before you come. The distances were not long but the terrain could be rugged. There were several children and teenagers on the cruise. For some of these you would not have even notice as their behavior was very adult-like. Others were typical kids and at times some of the adults found them disruptive. As others have said, there are no specific activities designated for children so if you are thinking of bringing yours, do assess their ability to be part of an adult experience 24 x 7. This is inherently a tiring cruise- up and out early, back for a few hours in the early afternoon and then out again for the next excursion. I was surprised about the comment "not enough to do on the ship", we were trying to figure out who had time! We used the afternoon break for lunch, naps, gym,and showers although I did try and get to as many of the afternoon talks as I could. We couldn't stay awake long enough to check out the evening entertainment, but we did take two nights to go up to Deck 8 and look at the stars which were extraordinary- do not miss this if you get clear nights. Last comment about managing expectations. Yes this is an expensive trip and at the price point some people were expecting that the food/service/ship/staff/etc would be better. In terms of the ship and shipboard experience, I was expecting more or less what I have found when booking a verandah on other Celebrity ships (we have been on the Equinox, the Summit and the Silhouette) so I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the Flora was. I considered the bulk of the cost to be the other inclusions (pre and post cruise, charter flights, etc) plus the overall expense of touring the Galapagos. I can see if you are expecting a luxury ship experience or are used to the higher end suites and you don't have one on this ship, you might be disappointed. I dinged a bit on Value for Money because once on, we started learning all the deals that others had gotten (booked on an earlier Flora cruise that was cancelled, or booked on the Xpedition, or BOGOHO, etc) but realistically that's all part of travel. I don't usually look at prices after we pay for that very reason! This is definitely a different kind of cruise than others we have been on but it was wonderful. I was looking for details before we left but they were sparse since it is such a new ship, so hopefully this review and the postings in the Just Returned thread within the Flora roll call will help others in terms of what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
2nd time to Galapagos, having travelled before on the Xpedition. Wanted to go on a more luxurious ship, for a stress-free experience as much as possible. There were a few glitches in the trip, but overall was a very good trip.I wanted to ... Read More
2nd time to Galapagos, having travelled before on the Xpedition. Wanted to go on a more luxurious ship, for a stress-free experience as much as possible. There were a few glitches in the trip, but overall was a very good trip.I wanted to review the cruise, to counter the unnecessarily harsh recent reviews. Don't let a few small negatives keep you from having a fantastic cruise on this ship. Of course, the off-ship excursions were excellent. Very good naturalists and beautiful scenery and animals. Enough said. Food quality was very good, especially for such a remote location. Always offered plenty of seafood, including lobster. Served a very good Chateaubriand beef on special dinner night, when a naturalist joined us at our table. There are now at least 3 people serving/busing during buffet meals, so things have improved. However, they are still not prompt in removing dirty dishes from the table or offering initial drinks/coffee upon sitting. I would even suggest they offer a self-service coffee station during breakfast. Most of the rooms do not have a coffeemaker in them, and we are very keen on getting our morning coffee promptly. I requested a coffeemaker for my room, and the hotel Director found me one. Thanks. There is a very kind Maitre D' that made sure I got the lobster for lunch that I inquired about. It wasn't until the middle of the cruise that I found out that lobster was plentiful. There are small design flaws of the ship. Several of the showers overflowed their glass door& shallow pan onto the bathroom floor during the trip, if trying to shower when the ship was underway. The engineers tilted the ship a bit to counteract this, but really it took planning and a bit of diligence to avoid getting water onto the floor. I'm sure this is ultimately a correctable problem with the shower enclosures. There is no ventilation in the bathrooms and there is no light suitable for reading in the bedrooms. So, if you like to read in bed, maybe a wildlife guide for prepping for the next day, bring a clip-on reading light. Entertainment was fine. They had a very popular "Silent Disco" night, where you have headphones on and listen to 1 of 3 streams of dance music. Wow, sometimes we had up to 30 people dancing, overflowing the dance floor. Recommend they repeat that. Some people missed that night and were sad they wouldn't get to experience it later in the week. They had a young Brit solo guitarist singer throughout the cruise. Several of the people we spoke to said she needed to mix it up a bit, that some of her songs sounded alike no matter the genre. I would recommend adding some light Latin songs, to remind us that we are somewhere far away from home. Maybe they should hire a Latino guitarist /singer instead. The cabins were kept in great shape by the accommodating cabin staff. The gals worked long hours and carried the phones for our service calls. Tip them, please. Room service needs improvement- twice received 1 cutlery set when I clearly stated I wanted cutlery for 2 people. Coffee arrived without sugar/creamer twice. These seem like small complaints, but it took up to 15 minutes to get what we needed. I would also suggest that they post signs that say "Quiet Please" at each room hallway and specify that there is No Running while on board, as one of their rules. We had the unfortunate luck to have a couple of kids under 10, running up and down the hallways while we were trying to nap. Not my idea of luxury at all. I hope our complaints are getting addressed. This is a beautiful ship with a great crew. They deserve great success! Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Pros- The Naturalist are great and that is a main reason for going to the Galápagos. They are informative and dedicated to the area. The ship is new and beautiful. The staff is all Ecuadorian and try very hard. Cabin- See below ... Read More
Pros- The Naturalist are great and that is a main reason for going to the Galápagos. They are informative and dedicated to the area. The ship is new and beautiful. The staff is all Ecuadorian and try very hard. Cabin- See below Food- Good not great. Daily Ceviche is very good. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Drinks- Limited top shelf selection of alcoholic beverages. Cons- Restaurants and bars are understaffed. There are no snacks in the bars other than chips and nuts. There is a baby grand piano that should be used by a musician, there is zero entertainment. Room service is very sketchy, takes a long time and once never came. In conclusion I would definitely recommend this cruise and the ship. Celebrity does an excellent job of picking you up no matter what time you land and they transfer you when yo u leave. The land excursions were good and so were the included meals at a restaurant and in the hotel in Quito. We had an issue with what smelled and probably was carbon monoxide in the halls the last 2 nights at the JW Marriott, we insisted on being transferred to a sister Sheraton. The hotel did not want to admit there was a problem. We asked for an accommodation for the cheaper hotel and smaller rooms. The agent was supposed to take care of this and we never found her again before departing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, ... Read More
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, the service aboard the Flora is well below the service I have received as a suite class passenger on other Celebrity ships, and it is far below the service one expects from a luxury vacation. For the price, you can find far better service aboard an actual luxury vessel. And if you're willing to accept the poor service you'll receive onboard the Flora, you can take a much cheaper vacation. I have a lot to say about this "once-in-a-lifetime" trip, so I'll try to be concise: Booking: Proof that Celebrity is not ready to enter this market is the fact that the Flora is treated as an afterthought or an entirely different ship while booking. For example, the Guest Ticket Booklet (which you are expected to print off yourself because Celebrity can't be bothered to mail you a copy of this 42 page document) doesn't even list the Flora among Celebrity's ships. I had to wait for 45 minutes on a phone call to Celebrity to find out what number family members should call in case of emergency because the Guest Ticket Booklet didn't even list the Flora. This is just one of many examples of Celebrity and its Galapagos desk not being ready to debut this ship. Arrival: Arrival in Quito was one of the few good examples of Celebrity service. Someone met us right outside customs and took us to the JW Marriott where we had the King size room we had requested. (We are currently on the land extension of our trip and none of our rooms have been booked correctly and Celebrity has yet to address the issue.) Quito: Our one day in Quito was filling with amazing food and adventure. Celebrity has a really good group of people running the ground operations here and it was probably one of the top three parts of this trip. We always had bottled water, access to restrooms, and were given an lovely introduction to and education about Quito. Galapagos arrival: We flew on a chartered flight from Quito to Baltra and were served a nice breakfast on the plane. We had to wait in a lengthy customs line, but I don't think Celebrity could have done anything about that. However, they could have provided us WiFi access while waiting, in addition to bottled water because it was quite hot. Celebrity's "VIP lounge" is a terribly small room with a soda fountain. This was the beginning of the realization that there was nothing luxury about this trip. Ship check in: You would think that on a luxury cruise of only 98 passengers, the crew would know everyone's names. However, the crew never even learned our names (or standing drink orders) by the end of the trip. We were not offered any kind of unpacking service. Key cards didn't work for half of the ship upon arrival and we had to trouble the attendants to gain access to our own rooms. (For the inconvenience, which lasted nearly half a day, we were provided a chocolate bar.) Ship and rooms: Outstanding. The Flora is a beautiful ship, meticulously appointed and breathtaking. We went with the standard balcony and weren't disappointed. The beds were comfortable; the rain shower was awesome, as was the constant ocean view; and we always had hot water. The dining room and Discovery Lounge are beautiful and it never felt like there wasn't enough room for the 98 passengers onboard. I could say more, but a ship like this is only worth it if the quality of the food and service matches the quality of the ship itself, and it does not. No ship is nice enough to justify a poor service experience. Food Service: The food is mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly not great. There's one wonky toaster, the eggs are always cold at breakfast, and some of the desserts were the most stale and bland items I've ever eaten. For being in a country that prides itself on its chocolate (and for being on a ship that only uses local foods), we had surprisingly few chocolate desserts. More importantly, food is not always available! There is a gap between breakfast and the beginning of room service where you can't find anything to eat unless you manage to catch a bartender and ask him for chips or peanuts. If you appreciate that one of the hallmarks of cruising is the free-flowing food and drink, don't book this trip! It's quite easy for Celebrity to call this an "all-inclusive" experience when very little is actually available. For the better part of our cruise, there was only one working soda machine on the ship. And no one ever took my drink order in under five minutes, so getting a Diet Coke was a 15 minute experience. After a particularly long hunt for a bartender one day, we took to fixing our own drinks. None of this may not seem like too much of a problem to you now, but when you realize that you have to start every single day early to make the excursions, you'll wish you could get into and out of the dining room in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, we found ourselves having to wake up an additional half hour earlier (WARNING: You will NOT sleep in on this vacation unless you want to miss an excursion. So don't think of it as a vacation--think of it as an adventure.) to compensate for the slow food and beverage service. Laundry: Celebrity provides laundry twice, but only for four days of a seven night cruise. Thursday is the last day for laundry even though you don't leave the ship until Sunday. For folks like us that had a land extension, this was particularly inconvenient, and Celebrity doesn't offer laundry once on the land extension. Otherwise, the laundry service was great. Excursions: Once you understand how the Galapagos works, you'll realize that Celebrity has very little input on this part of the cruise, so it seems unfair to comment. However, I'll note for anyone considering a Galapagos cruise that you should realize how little freedom you have to explore the Galapagos. You'll always be accompanied by a naturalist. You'll never be able to stray off on your own. You won't be able to interact with wildlife (outside of blowing bubbles at sea lions while snorkeling). Ships have to go to particular places at set times so that there are never too many people in one place. It's the most heavily regulated "adventure" you'll ever take. The fact that excursions are so rigid--and the fact that the first ones of the day are so early--are what make it SO important that your time aboard the ship be particularly enjoyable. That's where Celebrity is falling short here. There's really nothing to do on board the ship between excursions--you can't even eat. Sure, you can order some incredibly mediocre room service. But what you'd really like to do is go up top to the Ocean Bar and sit outside with a drink and a snack. But the crew is unable to handle that, so you have to wait until lunch. It also doesn't help that no matter how many times your husband orders coffee and you order Diet Coke, no one will remember. You can't even get WATER in a timely fashion. I took to sneaking behind the crew section in the dining room to get my own. I'll admit that my review is somewhat biased by the fact that we are still on our "vacation" with Celebrity doing a land extension. This portion of the trip has been equally marred by incompetence and indifference on Celebrity's part. Today they left me on hold for 30 minutes only to tell me to call back tomorrow because the person who could help me had gone home. Keep in mind that they know I'm in a foreign country on a vacation WITH CELEBRITY. I'll update my review later when my rage subsides to see if I want to up the ratings at all. But I don't think that'll be the case... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely ... Read More
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely everything! Meals, beverages, gratuities, transfers and charter flight. I would not recommend going any other way. This was a first class package.The Flora was beyond a dream. We had the Penthouse Suite and I could have been happy to spend the entire week right there. The service and accommodations were superb. There were 2 tours daily and only 8-10 people per naturalist to explore the islands. The weather was perfect, in the 70's. Celebrity provided for all our needs including wet suits, snorkels and fins. There is a laboratory on board. The tenders were easy to board and comfortable to ride. This was our first cruise on Celebrity and we have already booked another. Best cruise ever! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided ... Read More
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided to wait to make the trip on this new Ship designed specifically for these islands. I have to say that I am glad I did and the cruise exceeded all of my extremely high expectations. We chose the Penthouse Suite 625 because it looked completely amazing with its sweeping 270 degree views and awesome family area to play games and hangout (inside and outside). We're glad we chose and got 625 over 525 because we prefer the split balcony vs the single wrap around balcony. The balcony advantages include being able to see on both sides of the boat (vs limited to one side). In addition, the alcove-like side balcony allows for reading or napping in privacy while the larger main balcony is large enough for all of us to hang out together if we want ... the best of both worlds. 625 is also preferred because it is slightly higher and feels more private. We also reserved 624 which is the cabin right next to 625 for our children. I highly recommend this configuration for a family of 4 travelling. For those wondering whether getting the Penthouse suite is worth it, i would say the following: If you can afford it, do it. The Penthouse suite is unlike any other Suite I have ever seen on any boat. The panoramic views are spectacular and the extra space allows you to do things as family together (like playing board games which we love). The huge jacuzzi tub is another totally crazy amenity. Lastly, as a penthouse suite guest we made all our excursion requests through the Chief Naturalist directly after the briefing each day. Our family has been on many cruises before on Princess, RCCL and Disney and were struck by how different our experience was on the Flora vs previous MegaShips ... in a good way. The personal service and attention were superb throughout our cruise from the time we boarded to the time we disembarked. Each day was packed with shore excursions in the morning and afternoon with extremely knowledgeable Naturalists. Groups size varied from 4 - 11 for our excursions which was fantastic. The animals, plant life and landscape were extraordinary. We did not know whether to take the outer loop (our trip) or the inner loop itinerary so we chose blind on reserving. It turns out that it doesn't matter a lot since the key things we missed out on were the red-footed boobies and the iconic landscape view you always see when you search for Galapagos on Google. Don't fret, the iconic views on the outer loop are just as jaw-dropping and you get to see the waved Albatross which you can't get in the inner loop. The snorkeling excursions were amazing and wet-suits were provided to help you stay in the water longer. The food for the cruise was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The room service menu was limited but was still good enough. Andrea was in charge of Hotel Services and did a excellent job of making sure all her guest were having a good time and enjoying. She even arranged a visit for us to see the Bridge and have Captain Vladimir explain how the Flora operated. Service throughout the ship was excellent. Hymena was our cabin attendant and she always made our room clean, neat and comfy. The waitstaff in the dinning room knew your favorites/preferences after your first day and provided terrific service as well. Last but not least, were the team of Naturalist who took us on all the excursions. They were super knowledgeable, friendly and answered all the questions we through at them. Even though this is a new boat, Celebrity staffed the Flora with their best Galapagos Naturalists to get this new boat off to a good start. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to ... Read More
The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to get yourself to Baltra, nearly all-inclusive ten or 11-day package with days in Quito before and after, or the former including $1500 flight credit per person. They call the latter "free flights" but you actually pay $1500 per person or in our case, $1500 for person one and $750 for person two with the buy one get one half off promotion for $3000 worth of flight credits. If you have miles or can find a cheaper route, just get the all inclusive less flights to save the money. However, you will forego Flights by Celebrity support to ensure that you get to the cruise. One downside to using Celebrity for flights: you have to call them on the phone. Do your searches ahead of time. Their prices were similar to published fares and you can use the full credit for first class and pay the difference. We took an AA flight through Miami that used up about $2600 worth of the credits. The first-class fares were way too expensive so we forfeited the $400 credit and had to pay AA for better seats too. Each cabin accommodates a maximum two individuals, adults or children. If you are solo, the single supplement is nearly double. If you have kids, you have to pay the full fare for them in additional rooms. There might be some allowance for infants, but I am not aware of it. The park limits the cruise to 100 passengers so don't expect the usual accommodations for children as overflow guests. There is nothing on here especially for kids. No game consoles. No kids areas. No baby sitters. No kids menus as best I saw. The adventures require good physical fitness over uneven terrain near wild animals that bite if you get too close. I would not recommend it for children. You can forego the adventures but it probably isn't worth paying $10K per person to go on this trip if you are not going on the adventures. One piece of bad news: the arrival times to Quito tend to be late and the takeoff times tend to be midnight and 5 AM so you have to burn up full days on both ends traveling to the US. There is one flight through Panama City on Copa that is better, but it was expensive and you could get stuck in Panama because there are not many alternative flights if something happens. The arrival flights to Quito tend to have a quorum of cruisers so start getting to know your fellow passengers when you see the Celebrity sign. This was a very friendly cruise where all but the large groups were very interactive. Expect to be tired for most of the trip because it is very active and starts early every day. Day one is a bus and walking tour of Quito. It was nice to see but I could have used the sleep. Three meals were included. Day two you fly on a chartered A319 run by Avianca Ecuador from Quito to Baltra. That means another bus ride to Quito airport, about 50 minutes from the JW Marriott. The Celebrity team hands out boarding passes the morning of the flight. You can buy upgrades to first class for around $250 a person per direction. The Avianca staff was accommodating with seat change requests. The ride is about 100 minutes. You drop off your luggage by 5:30 AM in the hotel and it gets inspected and transferred to Baltra so prepare to drop it off the night before and keep your clothes and toiletries. Good news: there are no liquid restrictions on domestic flights. When you arrive, you are placed in a lounge until your section is called. You get on a bus and head for the dock. Instead of boarding the ship, you board a 20-person inflatable, motorized zodiac raft. Your luggage gets transferred and delivered to your cabin so you only need to take your personal items on the raft. Each time you board the zodiac, you have to don a life jacket. The wildlife part of the adventure starts then. Sea lions and birds will be around the zodiac either fishing or sleeping. Watch out for poop. One person got bombed by a bird on one of the adventures. You take Zodiacs between shore and the ship because Flora never docks. It uses a dynamic positioning system to stabilize itself against counter currents. It is a neat idea but the thruster motor sounds were annoying to some passengers with cabins near the front or back of the boat. The system keeps the ship’s anchor from destroying the seafloor. All the other ships in the area use anchors. Boarding the zodiacs can be dangerous so you have to be careful. The zodiacs perform “wet landings” and “dry landings”. Dry landings are against rocks or a dock. Wet landings are generally a beach shore. If you time the waves well, you can generally keep from getting your shoes wet but don’t expect everything to be dry. These zodiacs have a squared-off front with an articulating platform and a stairway so they are much safer than the older zodiacs that require you to crawl over a tube to get on or off. I rolled up my pantlegs to my knees and never once had anything above my knee wet including my backpack. The flora and fauna… wow! It was better than I had seen in pictures and videos. The theory of evolution is obvious in plain sight. There are piles of marine iguanas on shorelines. Sea lions are sleeping, nursing, and rolling around in the water. Land iguanas are guarding their food sources. Giant tortoises are roaming around. Penguins are perched and swimming. So many birds and crabs! I cannot do the animal and plant life justice so suffice to say, it will far exceed your expectations. The rule is to keep a safe distance (~6 ft) from the animals. Although the animals are wild, if you respect the distance rule you will be fine. The adventures area all included so do as many as you like but expect they will wear you out. Each day has a morning and afternoon adventure in two places. The evening before, a group meeting is held in the Discovery Lounge where you select which adventure you want. Most are either a longer, harder version or a shorter, easier version in the same area. A handful of times, you can opt for an ocean kayak or “deep water snorkel” from the zodiac. The naturalists are limited to 16 guests per leader but they try to keep it to 12. They had plenty of naturalists to allow guests to select the adventures they wanted. The only constrained resource was the kayaks but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem on our trip. You arrive the next morning in the Discovery Lounge to get tender tickets. We were always in Tender 1 which was a de facto cohort of energetic, able-bodied, younger travelers. The tender number tended to correlate with physical ability. The “deep water snorkel” adventures meant feeling comfortable floating in the ocean for ~45 minutes using a snorkel and mask where the water is too deep to stand. In return for this effort, we saw and swam with sea lions, turtles, many fish, and even one octopus. One word of advice: take the tender number that corresponds to your interest and ability. If you want a slower place or are less prepared, take one of the later tenders. While they have “rules” about footwear and ability, they are not strictly enforced which can be a conflict when you have well-prepared guests in the first tender and then some slower, less able guests join an early tender with walking sticks and improper footwear. I was one of those people with improper footwear once and powered through it over rough lava and could have hurt myself. On nearly all the adventures, there were plenty of naturalists where you could bow out and let the group continue on if you got hurt, sick, tired, or wanted to return to the ship early. I don’t mean to present the picture that you have to be in great shape to enjoy this cruise. It isn’t handicapped accessible, but there are many older people who enjoyed a slower-paced group. As long as you go with the proper group, you should have a good time. The meals are good, but I have had better on other cruises. There was a Michelin-starred chef on our cruise overseeing the cuisine but he departed with us. The supply of food is constrained by park regulation – Ecuadorian regulations specifying that raw food must be partially cooked before transport to the Galapagos Islands to minimize risk of spread of organisms, for instance. Many of the menus had substitutions because items were unavailable that season or in the park at that time. It would have been easier to reprint the menus that posting the incorrect version for the day and then later finding out that the item wasn’t available as described. There are two eating venues: an open-air top deck and a main dining room. The open-air venue has a more limited menu including burgers, chicken, and fish for lunch and steak, fish, and chicken for dinner. The lunch fries were great when freshly fried. All venues have vegetarian options but were not well suited for people with special diets such as vegan, gluten free or kosher. For instance, there was one toaster and few indications that items were suited for special diets. The staff was good with my food allergies, but I was also careful to make sure I did not try anything in the buffet that may cause anaphylaxis. The staff on this cruise is exceptional. It is much more intimate than a typical cruise because of the size. We had various issues and suggestions. They were quick to address the issues they could. While the dining staff was working very hard and still had additional labor of the training staff that departed with us, the dining room was understaffed and will likely be worse on subsequent cruises without the training staff. Often times, you had to wait or ask for refills, and buffet plates would pile up on the table while the staff was attending to other guests. You get better service if you get there when the dining room opens. They even remember your drink preferences and have them ready for you without asking. The standard rooms are nice and spacious but the suite moniker has been overused. The base “suites” were larger standard ship rooms without any kind of dividers between living and sleeping areas you would expect with a suite. We had a standard balcony which I would recommend over the infinite veranda which does not have a proper balcony, just a sliding window. Standard rooms allow you to put out your clothes to dry and cost less. In the hall near the closet, the carpet was getting wet. There were a few people who had this issue. While the wet socks were annoying, we were thankful that they did not tear up our room to fix the issue while we were on the cruise. The bathrooms have gradually frosted glass that allows you to see out while standing up. Some complained about the lack of privacy because you can look into the bathroom from the bedroom. However, you would have to try hard to see anything. Another drawback of the window is that it doesn’t contain sounds or light as well. We covered up the bathroom nightlight because it made the room glow. The sinks were poorly designed. There is a small filtered, refrigerated water dispenser basin that always made a mess when used for rinsing a toothbrush. We had to put the shower mat under that area because the water went on the floor. The main basin is large but does not drain well because it is mostly flat. The shower is very nice, but the controls were awkwardly placed behind the door that opens inward. For larger people, you may not fit in this shower because of the inswinging door. As any ship toilet, it is very loud and you can hear others flushing throughout the night. Each cabin has a stocked refrigerator, TV, and many US-style plugs. The TV does not get many channels and cut out so do not expect to use it much. They do not print a daily cruise guide unless you ask for it, but it does play on channel 2 of the TV on loop. We would take a picture of the daily schedule as it looped by. The internet generally worked well. It is satellite so expect lots of latency. I was able to make short calls over WiFi. Expect to get about 5 Mbps, plenty to stay connected but do not expect your photos to quickly send. The islands have very poor or non-existent cellular service. Expect to use the ship for your connectivity. The ship was blocking my VPN. I was able to stream from YouTube but expect paid streaming services to block your access because you are out of the country. The passengers were mostly upper middle class native English speakers from the US. For many, this was a bucket list trip. While the trip was expensive, the people were down to earth and pleasant. They arranged Spanish-speaking groups for those who preferred Spanish but the default language was English. The trip exceeded my expectations. The crew and passengers were very nice. The ship was better than the renderings. At the end of the cruise, we were surprised with a USB key containing the pictures from the naturalists and crew. The day after returning to Quito, Celebrity offers excursions for $140 to $190 a person. We had the JW Marriott arrange a tour through a local operator for half the cost. We had a private van take us bird watching and hiking. It dropped us at the airport that evening. There is a private lounge outside of security with a shower for $36 a person. There is a Centurion Lounge past security with a shower and great food. Either lounge was free with Priority Pass. Packing list Comfortable walking shoes Hiking shoes if you want to traverse the lava flows Water shoes Large sun hat Sun shirt Convertible sun pants Rain shell Sun block Bathing suit to fit comfortably under a wetsuit such as a Speedo for men Bathing suit for kayaking Ship supplied: Drinking bottle Wet suit Walking sticks Binoculars Life vest Diving mask Snorkel Slippers Bathrobe Lip balm Small backpack Rain poncho Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Celebrity Eclipse Trip San Antonio Chile to San Diego California March 24 2019 Embarkation poor. Had people lined up for hours waiting to be processed. There was no place for anyone to sit. Other cruise lines issue a number and have ... Read More
Celebrity Eclipse Trip San Antonio Chile to San Diego California March 24 2019 Embarkation poor. Had people lined up for hours waiting to be processed. There was no place for anyone to sit. Other cruise lines issue a number and have passengers sit to wait for their number to be called. The gangplank to the ship was very steep so the staff had to strain to push wheelchair passengers on the ship. Room 9402 very nice and good location, efficient room design with the exception of no electric plug next to or near bed. I called Crucon prior to sailing and requested distilled water for a piece of medical equipment. It was not there. I am sure that there are many people who use a CPAP machine at this present time. Our room attendant Kam, came and introduced himself. He was pleasant and carried out requests. There were no extra special touches in the room, ie cotton buds, shower caps, razors or emery boards in fact you could not even purchase an emery board aboard the ship. There was only soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. We were not served a complimentary bottle of champagne as we were served on prior cruises,We had to ask for ice to be present in our room in the evening. There is no folder in the room to describe anything about the ship or contain a list of room service foods. I still don't know if room service is available for meals other than breakfast. There was a sheet for us to fill out every evening for breakfast. We had coffee in our room every day and twice they delivered without cups and milk. The towels and sheets had a funky unpleasant odor, perhaps it was their detergent or not enough detergent. The air conditioner/heat control was not predictable, one time it would be very cold on a setting and the next time it would be uncomfortable at that same setting. The room would become warm while we were in port. The bed was not wonderful, there was no pillow top softness but I am like the princess and the pea. The pillows were OK. Trip route- It was a relocation cruise and the stops were not earth shaking. The prices for ship trips to essentially nothing locations were very expensive. We only did two trips, one to Lima and the other in Punta Arenas Costa Rica. Both were interesting. The other ports did not have anything that looked like we needed to explore further or sounded uninteresting. Entertainment- Stale and according to passengers who previously sailed on the ship it was a repeat of the same performances. The songs were dull and uninspiring. The entertainment was aimed at old people and I am older than god. They need to update their performances. The Eclipse Orchestra was the highlight of the performances. They need to continue with “Live Orchestras” not a digital replacement that is being contemplate by the company. All of our table mates refused to attend the performances because of them being so boring and repetitive. Service-The staff were very positive, smiling and caring throughout the ship. The Captain was a pseudo comedian. Alejandro the master of ceremony was great. Jose P and Edwin our staff in the dining room were caring and attentive they get a 10 out of 10! Food- Terrible!! On previous trips the many tasty main courses offered were wonderful, one had to make a decision of choosing from all the very appealing meals offered most every evening. On this cruise trying to find even one was a difficult task, in fact there were many nights we only had appetizers for our meal because the selection was so poor. On the dress up nights there was nothing special offered except on the last dress up night and another regular evening soft shell lobster not New England lobster. The breakfast and lunch buffets were OK. The salad dressing were horrible. There were people stationed at the entry of cafeteria dispensing hand sanitizing solution but there are no hand washing places there. Hand washing is the only way to truly prevent novovirus. Passengers complained that there was a respiratory illness spreading aboard the ship toward the end of the cruise. Disembarkation-A nightmare! Directions printed for passengers to follow were not written by an English speaking person and were very confusing. Other passengers stated the same regarding the poorly written directions. No one knew where they were to go or wait. There were lines all over the ship. Exiting from the ship was down a very steep gangplank. If I had my luggage I would have been propelled down the gangplank. Being in a wheelchair would have been very scary. Summary We are not gung-ho cruisers but have enjoyed our previous 7 cruises because the food was outstanding, the entertainment fun, but this trip left a bad taste in our mouth. I am not sure we will cruise again anytime soon. Is Celebrity trying to drive people do the specialty dining?? I refuse to pay additional money that probably amount to $100+ for each night to get a decent meal. If this is their object the staff will be shortchanged and service will suffer. The staff in the dining room depend on their tips to supplement their income. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We just returned from our 14 day cruise leaving Santiago, Chile on 3/24 and arriving in San Diego on 4/8. We were in cabin 6230. Here's what we think about our experience: First of all let me say that the STAFF on the ship are the ... Read More
We just returned from our 14 day cruise leaving Santiago, Chile on 3/24 and arriving in San Diego on 4/8. We were in cabin 6230. Here's what we think about our experience: First of all let me say that the STAFF on the ship are the greatest! Everyone wanted to help us enjoy our (for us) expensive vacation. But I do have more than a few concerns about the overall condition of the ship. I feel that this ship really needs time in drydock for upkeep and repair. It wasn't so much the explosion that took out the electricity in part of the ship, which caused the air-conditioning to go down, the elevators to stop working, and the lights in that part of the ship to falter. It wasn't even that at least one of the main elevators were too often offline. Stuff happens. But I don't see why the automatic sliding doors that lead from the pool into the ship would be slow to open and close, or why the rubber weather stripping should be falling away. Also one of the two sinks in the Men's bathroom by the pool had a sign on it stating that it was "tired and resting." For the entire cruise? What's that about? Our cabin felt dingy. While our assigned steward was very pleasant, I had to point out places where fingerprints and smears weren't cleaned from previous guests. And I hate to seem picky, but the remote control to our television was held together by tape. One would think that something like that would be an easy fix. And while I'm on the subject of television, ours kept going down. Repeated calls resulted in various excuses. Someone did call back but I didn't want to spend anymore of our vacation sorting the problem out. What NEVER went down were the TV stations selling hideous art (beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder!) or future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Cruise itinerary was a unique opportunity to sail from Buenos Aires to San Diego. We are Captain's Club Plus members and cruised the first half in concierge and the second half in Aqua Class. Our cabin in concierge class was vastly ... Read More
Cruise itinerary was a unique opportunity to sail from Buenos Aires to San Diego. We are Captain's Club Plus members and cruised the first half in concierge and the second half in Aqua Class. Our cabin in concierge class was vastly superior to our aqua class cabin (1608) which was terribly noisy both from pool furniture being banged around overhead to a huge ventilation outlet over our deck making it too loud to enjoy the deck. This was a coveted "bump" cabin very near the central elevators. Our concierge cabin was also on the bump but on the 10th floor so had none of the noise that the 11th floor had. We traveled the Eclipse last September and were surprised and disappointed at how much the food quality declined on this cruise. The cuts of meat in the dining room were largely braising meats. The regular NY steak was so thin that it had to be cut with a laser. It was counterproductive for Celebrity because they had to be sent back repeatedly because they were overcooked so easily. We saw a great deal of this. Most meats were terribly overcooked in main dining room and in Oceanview. Service in main dining room was stellar,as always. Blu was a huge disappointment. The meat/poultry quality was better than the main dining room but the menu was quite erratic and not well designed. We had repetative things seemingly ever other day and often the starters were not designed to go with the featured entrees. Choices seemed to decrease as the cruise went along. The service was shockingly poor--with breakfast being the worst. It was hard to get waited on, hard to get coffee, etc., sitting with dirty plates in front of you for far too long. coffee arriving long after dessert, etc. No real excuse for that when they handle those things with aplomb in the main diningroom (both breakfast and dinner). All in all, we won't book Aqua Class again because all cabins are noisy and Blu was such a disappointment. Celebrity is asking a fair amount more now for their experience and they need to step up their food quality to match. I heard repeated mention of it among passengers. It is probably a blessing but the desserts almost universally disappoint in taste. Again, I heard this over and over again among passengers. Captain was terrific and always enjoy the expert lectures. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have sailed on the Summit, Reflection, Silhouette (x2) and Equinox (x2) prior to this sailing. Based upon our past experience we had a general expectation of the level of service and facilities. On the minus side. the restaurant ... Read More
We have sailed on the Summit, Reflection, Silhouette (x2) and Equinox (x2) prior to this sailing. Based upon our past experience we had a general expectation of the level of service and facilities. On the minus side. the restaurant staff were generally friendly and accommodating (with the exception of the Oceanview Cafe and Mast Grill cooks who couldn't be bothered). In Luminae, it was rare to get the orders right and it was often difficult to get anyone's attention for such simple things as coffee or water. The food in Luminae was not to the level of prior cruises, and we found ourselves getting better food in Blu. The suite butler was MIA for most of the trip, and when we could find her, it seemed like she wanted to push most duties to the cabin attendant. The ship is clean, but it is pretty tired (peeling paint, furniture and carpet that shows years of wear). On the plus side, the Captain and the Hotel Director were some of the most visible we have ever encountered. The Michael's Club Concierge was outstanding, and provided service we had never received on previous cruises. We had some excellent meals and service in the Tuscan Grille and Murano. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU AND CELEBRITY ECLIPSE FROM CHILE TO SAN DIEGO We booked the Celebrity Eclipse from San Antonio, Chile to San Diego from 24 March 2019 until 8 April 2019 because some cruise friends that sailed with ... Read More
CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU AND CELEBRITY ECLIPSE FROM CHILE TO SAN DIEGO We booked the Celebrity Eclipse from San Antonio, Chile to San Diego from 24 March 2019 until 8 April 2019 because some cruise friends that sailed with us on that same ship in 2017. While some did cancel the cruise after booking, two couples were with us on that cruise, leading to great companionship and fun. Since we were booked on this cruise, we decided to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu prior to the cruise. I was a bit concerned about planning this trip in late March, since the rainy season for that area doesn’t end until the end of March. However, we had no rain while in Peru, except once at night. I selected a tour from PeruAgency Tours for our Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour. They had the best value and lowest priced offer. The tour provided 4 star hotels and a private guide for most of the trip. This describes our tour: DAY 19 MARCH. - ARRIVAL TO THE LAND OF THE INCAS - EXCURSION TO THE CITY Am Arrival to the city of Cusco. Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel. P.M. Guided tour of the city of Cusco and nearby Ruins. Visit to the Cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor. The Renaissance style predominates in the façade and in the interior, with an interior decoration very rich in cedar and alder carvings. Then you will visit the Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo (Dominico) and El Koricancha (Inca temple). We will continue towards the outskirts of the city, Sacsayhuaman, it would have been a construction of religious character, but because of its location and style it was considered by the Spaniards and chroniclers as a military building, Qenko continues or "labyrinth" is considered a sacred place in the Ceremonies were held in honor of the Sun, Moon and stars then Puka Pukara would have served as a tambo or resting place and accommodation and finally visit to the Fortress of Tambomachay that would have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and regeneration from the earth. Return to Cusco and transfer to your hotel. Hotel accommodation in Cusco at Costa del sol Picoaga Ramada. DAY 20 MARCH. - SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS (overnight) Breakfast at the hotel. At 8:00 a.m. Approx., the pick-up of the passengers starts at your Hotel. Full day excursion to the Sacred Valley. Visit to the town of Pisac. Known for its handicraft market and Inca archaeological sites among which you can see an irrigation system, an astronomical observatory, a solar clock or Intiwatana and andenería. Lunch in Local Restaurant. Visit to the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo. Built during the Inca period as a fortified area that includes a temple, platforms and an urban sector. You can distinguish two sectors, one linked to worship and religion; and the second set dedicated to housing. It was an important administrative center that probably also fulfilled military functions, as its walls and turrets show. Transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station. After the visit to the archaeological complex transfer to the train station to take the train to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo, arrival at the station of Aguas Calientes, transfer to your hotel. Accommodation at El Mapy. DAY 21 MARCH. - MACHU PICCHU, WONDERFUL CITY INCA Breakfast at the hotel. Very early in the morning I pick up from your hotel and transfer to the station to board the bus that will take you after 30 min., Approximately to the wonderful Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Passenger climbs on his own to the huaynapicchu mountain (1 hour of climb and another hour of descent) then you will have Start of the guided tour around 2:30 to 3 hrs. Bus to Aguas Calientes. Buffet lunch at the local restaurant. When returning, show up at the train station 30 minutes before the train leaves. Return to Cusco. Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. Accommodation in Cusco at Costa del sol Picoaga Ramada. DAY 22 MARCH - CUSCO DEPARTURE / ... (D) Breakfast at the hotel. At the appropriate time, transfer to the airport, flight to Lima and then return to your country of origin. Our flight from Atlanta arrived in Lima on 18 March at 12:30pm. We had booked a room at the Holiday Inn Lima Airport Hotel close to that airport. It was walking distance from the hotel, but due to the orientation of the roads in front of the airport, walking to the hotel was not a safe option. The hotel did have a convenient taxi transport available at no charge, which we used. Our flight to Cusco departed at 8am the next morning, so we only managed about four hours of sleep. We arrived in Cusco about 10am and were picked up by Mercedes and our driver, taken to our hotel, the Costa del Sol that was a Ramada hotel. The hotel was very nice and situated in a historic home of a famous Cusco resident from the 18th Century. The hotel had preserved the historic building, while incorporating modern amenities. The restaurant was excellent with very reasonable prices for its meals. We checked into the hotel and were ready to explore the city. Ginny and I had started taking a medication for the prevention of altitude sickness prior to the trip, which worked pretty well during our tour that included altitudes of up to 12,000 feet. Mercedes was our tour coordinator during our stay in Cusco. After lunch, we had a walking tour of Cusco, followed by a tour of four Inca archeological sites surrounding the city. Our hotel was conveniently located close to the Plaza de Armas (historic center). The huge cathedral and Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo were the highlights of the tour. The Convent of Santo Domingo included Inca structures that were part of a temple. The structures demonstrated the amazing engineering of the Incas. The stones were cut without iron or bronze tools in a very precise manner with interlocking pieces that showed no gaps between stones. Also, the Inca structures proved to be earthquake resistant as opposed to the Spanish construction that followed. After our waking tour of Cusco, Ginny and I, as well as six other persons took a minibus up into the surrounding hills to visit the four Inca sites: Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara and the Fortress of Tambomachay. There was much climbing up and down hills with visiting these sites. Sacsayhuaman was the largest, with massive structures as well as many terraced fields, which the Incas were famous for building. These terraces were evident almost anywhere we visited in this part of Peru. The terraces allowed for agriculture and prevented erosion. During this part of the tour, we also visited a shop that sold alpaca clothing. There were numerous llamas alpacas and vicunas just outside this shop. We learned that the Peruvians eat alpaca meat as well as use their fur. We did not try alpaca meat. The next day, our guide Danny picked us up early at our hotel with the van for our trip to the Sacred Valley (on our way to Machu Picchu). He was our private guide, we had no others on the tour with us. The drive through the valley was very scenic as well as the two archaeological sites that we visited. We visited Pisac and Ollantaytambo on this day, with a very nice lunch that was included in the tour between the two sites. Both sites were extensive with much to see. Ollantaytambo was an ancient Inca city that had largely been preserved, with stone streets and buildings and drainage channels throughout the city. It was a bit like visiting a smaller version of Pompeii. We learned that the Inca engineering excelled at channeling water in its cities. At the end of the day, at Ollantaytambo, Danny left us at the rail station, where we picked up the vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, which was about 5 miles from Machu Picchu. The vistadome car is an option that we selected and worth the cost. The car had large windows with additional windows in the ceiling of the car. The train ran next to the river that was sometimes flowing heavily. Also, since we were in the mountains (this entire area of Peru is mountainous), the views were very scenic. Upon arrival at Aguas Calientes, our guide for Machu Picchu was there to take us to our hotel for the evening. The hotel was the El Mapy. The hotel was very nice, but rooms were a bit smaller than in Cusco. We were restricted to bringing luggage no heavier than 5 kg, therefore we didn’t need much room for storing clothing and luggage. Dinner that evening as well as breakfast the next day at the hotel was included in the tour. Our guide was Jay and he was, like Danny a great guide. We agreed to get an early start for Machu Picchu and meet at 6 am. The next day, we met Jay at 6 am and took the bus up (yes UP) to Machu Picchu. We saw many hikers that elected to skip the bus ride in favor of a hike. Most were people in their 20s. Jay took us through the gate at the site and explained that we had the option to come out and take a break for the toilet and/or refreshment before reentering the site later. Jay took us over about 90% of the key places identified in my guidebook. We entered about 6:30 and didn’t take a break until about 10 am. Still, our tour took us up and down the site, which has 500 year old stone construction with uneven steps that we took care not to fall. Machu Picchu is even more amazing in person than from the photos. We were told that the city was about 70% preserved of the original city. The city was the major Inca city that was not destroyed by the Spanish, since it had been abandoned by the Inca during the long war with the Spanish. Vegetation had grown, covering the city. The city was rediscovered in the early 20th Century by Yale Professor, Hiram Bingham III. Actually, he was not the first to discover the city, but he did make the most of the discovery. I recommend reading the book “Right Turn at Machu Picchu” for the details of this interesting history. Ginny and I did exit the city briefly for a break and returned to see the upper part of the city. That was a significant effort on our part, due to the altitude and again much climbing up and down the ancient stone steps. We visited the Caretaker’s Hut and the scenic vistas from up high. This was the best place to take photos of the city. We finished our visit of this wonderful city after noon and used the voucher for lunch at a nice restaurant overlooking the flowing river with scenic mountain views. Lunch was a buffet and excellent. We loved the Peruvian cuisine and mealtime was great while in Peru. Ginny and I felt that with all the climbing up and down hills that even with the good eating, we probably lost weight. After lunch, we picked up our small bags from the hotel and relaxed in the hotel bar for a couple of hours, waiting for our train back to Ollantaytambo. From that city, we picked up a bus that took us to Cusco. We arrived late in the evening; Mercedes and our driver were at the bus station to pick us up to take us to our hotel. Cusco was about 70 miles from Aguas Calientes. Most of the trip was on the bus and we found the highways to be a mixed blessing. We found that large speed bumps were very common in Peru on highways when inside a city or village. Also, the roads were good in some places, but in other areas filled with terrible potholes. The bus had to slow down to negotiate these potholes and speed bumps. With all the road traffic, we probably averaged 25-30 MPH along the entire route. Upon arrival at our hotel in Cusco, we received our stored luggage and were informed that our room was upgraded to a suite. The suite was huge and very nice. We had a huge spa in the large sitting room. I decided to use the spa and take a hot bath to soothe my tired muscles. The spa was so large, it took a very long time to fill, and I decided not to try to fill it completely, but I did have a nice warm bath for a change. It did help with the tired muscles. By the way, if you want to see Machu Picchu, I recommend not waiting until you are in your 70s. Our last day in Cusco, Ginny and I decided to visit some of it many museums. We slept a bit late, but then took in the Machu Picchu Museum as well as the Inca Museum. After those museums, we did a small amount of shopping, returned to our hotel and relaxed prior to Mercedes taking us to the airport for our 6 pm flight back to Lima and on to Santiago, Chile. We had a wonderful trip to Peru and were to return to that country on our cruise that stopped there in a few days. Our tour with PeruAgency was excellent and total cost was $799 per person. The roundtrip airfare from Lima to Cusco was $148 each. The modest admissions to two museum and about three meals added, our trip cost us about $1050 per person. Celebrity was selling an excursions from the ship for a three day tour that cost $3700 per person. SANTIAGO AIRPORT Ginny and I had been to Chile twice, in 2011 and 2014, in connection with cruises. We had spend several days in Santiago, Valparaiso and taken two wine tours as well. We elected to not try any touring of the area again. We arrived at the Santiago Airport after 4 am on 23 March. I had booked us for the remainder of the night and the next night at the Holiday Inn, Santiago Airport prior to our cruise on 24 March. The hotel was very nice and easy to access from the airport. It is just across the street from the airport and we simply dragged our luggage to the hotel. We slept late that day and didn’t leave the hotel at all. We relaxed and recuperated from our Peru tour. The hotel restaurant was great. It far exceeded our expectations. I had arranged for transport with SouthExcursions, a Chilean tour company that we had used successfully on our two previous trips to Chile. We had a group of 10 from the cruise critic roll call that shared the ride to the port of San Antonio for $60 per person. CELEBRITY ECLIPSE The 15 day cruise north to San Diego included seven ports: 25 MAR LA SERENA (COQUIMBO), CHILE 


03 APR HUATULCO, MEXICO 05 APR PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO 06 APR CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO 08 APR SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA We had visited Coquimbo, Lima and Manta on our December 2011 cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Chile. For this cruise we tried to visit places at those ports that we had not seen on the first cruise. LA SERENA (COQUIMBO), CHILE Last time, we took a walking tour of Coquimbo, which was the port city where we docked. This time, we didn’t take a tour, but hired a taxi to take us to La Serena, a larger city about 9 miles from the port. We spend about two hours walking around the small city. We had refreshments and a snack as well as a bit of shopping. Since the wrist band on my watch separated, I purchased a new watch for $23. The cost of the taxi each way was about $20. The most interesting thing about this city was that it was not a tourist destination at all. We were able to see a Chilean city without the flood of tourists that normally cover these ports. We didn’t see many from our ship in the city. This was a port that Celebrity probably could have skipped. LIMA, PERU Barb, our friend from the 2017 transatlantic booked this tour, as she did three other tours that we took on the cruise. I had recommended Monica’s Tours, since we had used them in 2011 and they were excellent. Our tour guide was good and advised us that we could see a number of places. Of course, we didn’t have time to do it all. The day we were in port turned out to be a local holiday, which meant heavier traffic than normal. That was unfortunate, since we probably could have seen more on a normal day. We were taken to two main squares in downtown Lima, the second being the Plaza de Armas. It was a huge square and the cathedral was on the square. Just prior to arriving at that square, we walked through a street with some interesting building frontages and balconies. The next place on the tour was a monastery with catacombs that we had seen in 2011, so Ginny and I asked to meet the group later, so we could visit the cathedral. We had not seen the cathedral. Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror of Peru was buried in the cathedral. The massive building was filled with valuable art. After spending about an hour at the cathedral, we walked to the Monastery to meet our tour. There was a huge long line of local people waiting to enter the Monastery, so we waited outside the entrance of the catacombs as instructed and ran into Monica, the owner of the tour company. She remembered Ginny and I from 2011. She gave us a couple of small gifts, as she did last time we were in Lima. Our next stop was to visit an ancient pyramid, predating the Incas. The pyramid grounds were in the direction of Miraflores, the more upscale area of Lima. Our group decided to skip lunch in order to spend more time touring. We walked up the pyramid while our guide explained details about the civilization that built it. There was a small museum that we visited as well. After the pyramid, we found a scenic seashore at Miraflores with a nice park. Driving around the city was slow due to the traffic and after the seashore, we heading back to the port to make the ship on time. It is worth mentioning that we found the cuisine in Peru to be absolutely fantastic. Peruvian food can match up to the best in the World, even French and Italian. MANTA, ECUADOR Barb has arranged for our private tour in Ecuador. The tour included a short hike through a “dry rain forest,” lunch at a restaurant on the beach and a visit to the city of Montecristi, Ecuador. Our guide at the rain forest told us that we might see howler monkeys. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, be we all enjoyed the walk through the forest. Despite being at the equator, it was not that hot in the forest. Our guide pointed out some wildlife, including large spiders. Lunch was very nice at a restaurant right on a scenic beach. Later, we visited the city of Montecristi and did some shopping, then back to the ship. COSTA RICA Ginny and I had not been to Costa Rica before and our tour there was a ship’s excursion called “Walk in the Clouds.” Our bus took us into the interior of the country that was up in altitude. This rain forest hike was more extensive and the path included several bridges, some suspended high above a flowing creek. Prior to beginning our hike, we entered a large butterfly enclosure, with hundreds of colorful butterflies. Everyone was trying to take photos of them, before the butterflies flew off once more. After the forest hike, we visited a humming bird station with many hummingbird feeders and small water sprinklers that attracted the birds. Scores of hummingbirds of different colors were feasting on the feed stations. The hummingbirds were more of a challenge to photograph than the butterflies. Finally, after leaving the forest, we came to a balcony were tropical birds were attracted. The birds were colorful, but not the large tropical birds. The birds were robin or cardinal sized, however there were many beautiful birds. On our bus trip out to the site and return, our guide schooled us in the history of Costa Rica and some facts about the country. The country has no army and a history of peace. Our guide told us that the country has no gold or silver that attracted attackers. The country has mandatory education for its youth and the elite students go on to a state university at no cost. Other universities are private and require payment. The country doesn’t seem to have the same problems as most of the other Central American countries and had a history of stability. As in nearly any tour from a cruise ship, we did stop at a large tourist oriented store for souvenirs. The store was huge and many purchased items there. HUATULCO, MEXICO This port was still a mystery to us, no one had ever heard of it before. The coastal city was about halfway between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. The port and nearby area appeared to be under development. It didn’t seem that extensive development had take place. The small coastal town was rather new and tidy, clearly geared toward tourism. The coastal area was very scenic, and our tour with Enrique’s Tours focused on finding the most scenic places for us to visit. Barb had organized this tour for us. Our first stop was near a lighthouse (abandoned) at the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean and the port. Also, Enrique took us to visit to a nice beach, as well as his small village a few miles from Huatulco. We learned that Enrique had lived in Ohio for several years, saving his money to come home and start a business. He provided us with as good a tour as could be made for this area. Some people took tours that went into the interior, higher up into the mountains, as we had done in Ecuador and Costa Rica. PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO This port is a famous resort and has been for many years. It was well developed and we saw many US businesses there like Home Depot, Starbucks, Walmart, and more. The port city was fairly modern, prosperous and well maintained. Our tour was another Celebrity excursion called “Colonial San Sebastian.” As we left the port city into the interior, we passed through some small towns and farms that clearly were not part of the more prosperous resort. Our tour took us up into the Sierra Madre Mountains, with many scenic views, including a huge bridge that crossed a large gorge. I noted that some graffiti artist had bravely climbed under the highway span to paint his work on the underside of the bridge. Adolfo was our excellent tour guide on our excursion. The tour was provided by Vallarta Adventures. Adolfo provided us a detailed history of the local area, Puerto Vallarta and Colonial San Sebastian. San Sebastian was a former silver mining town. Mining ended after the 1910 Mexican revolution. The town shrunk in population, but preserved its colonial heritage. The town had its cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture. The bus took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes from the port, but we saw vistas of the mountains up to about 4700 feet. We had a very nice lunch and on our way back to the port, we had a fun tequila tasting. The tour guide was excellent and we enjoyed the tour very much. CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO This was our last port before arriving back in the USA. The port is situated very near land’s end of the Baja peninsula of Mexico. We saw the scenic land’s end from our cruise ship prior to tendering into the port. Barb had organized the tour with toursbylocals. Our local guide was Alejandro Olivares with amazingcabos. First, he took us to the harbor where our small group boarded a boat that included a large glass bottom for viewing sea life. The tour didn’t focus on sea life, but we did see some fish after some bread was handed out for us to throw into the water. The tour took us past a lot of scenic rock formations and around the end of land’s end into the Pacific Ocean. We saw beaches that apparently flood at high tide as well as some sea lions. Some were sunning themselves on the rocks. Our boat approached them fairly close, so we managed some nice photos. After the boat ride, we visited a nice restaurant on the shore opposite the land’s end. Then we visited a luxury hotel that was right on the beach. The hotel was a Sheraton. We had permission to walk through the hotel and pool area to the beach. It was very nice. Also, there was a golf course nearby. At the end of the tour, we visited a factory that turned recycled glass into glasses and other items. Phil, one of our friends on the cruise and tour did blow some glass. After the tour we did a little shopping and prior to returning to the ship stopped at Señor Frogs for a drink and snack. Eight of us endured the very loud music for a while, but prior to becoming deaf, I decided to relieve the pain in my head by returning to the ship. The others stayed for a while longer and I understand Ginny, Barb and Joyce did a dance for the crowd. After a sea day, we arrived at San Diego and prepared to depart for home. Celebrity had assigned us a time in groups to go through immigration. US citizens and residents had a separate line from non-citizens. We were told about when that would happen and that our number would be called. Celebrity decided to call numbers 3, 4 and 5 all at one time, then number 6 soon thereafter. The numbers only went to 7, so they called a very large portion of the ship at one time, flooding the elevators that we were told to use. Nearly everyone was climbing the stairs, including people with canes. It was not quite chaos, but it was crazy. We finally found the end of the line on deck 12 and waited almost an hour to go through immigration. This was totally unnecessary, since the groups could have been spread out evenly to avoid the mess. Still, we had a nice cruise and enjoyed our cruise friends. We hope to see them again on other cruises in the future. The dining was, as usual, excellent. However, my most favorite dessert from Celebrity is the crepe suzette that has been so downsized these days that it is nothing more than a sampler. We didn’t go to most of the evening shows, but thought the Argentinian show was excellent. The Rock show was glitzy and included some very good circ sole elements. However, the songs selected for the show were largely third rate songs. We missed what everyone acclaimed as an excellent comedy show, so we went to another afternoon comedy show that was excellent. Still, Celebrity’s entertainment could learn something from Royal Caribbean or NCL. Service was generally first rate and the two excursions that we took from Celebrity were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The cruise was pleasant enough but when we returned home we found our MasterCard had been charged for an unidentified item. Contacting Celebrity they informed us the charge was for items used from the mini bar. We, in fact, had not used ... Read More
The cruise was pleasant enough but when we returned home we found our MasterCard had been charged for an unidentified item. Contacting Celebrity they informed us the charge was for items used from the mini bar. We, in fact, had not used any items from the mini bar during the entire cruise and, more to the point, had not authorised any payment. Very concerned that payment can be taken from your bank card without authorisation. The cleanliness on the ship was of a high standard, particularly in the Solarium, toilets and pool area. The one outstanding excursion on the cruise, was a visit to the Palamino Islands. Very memorable and worth the money. However, some of the other excursions during the cruise were expensive and not good value. Food in the Lido Cafe was often cold and much of the selection was repeated every day. Overall it was a pleasant cruise but left us dismayed at being charged for something we didn’t have.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We were on a combined visit to Easter Island (which was superb) and then a cruise from Chile to San Diego. We were very happy with our stateroom, which was spacious, very comfortable and had an excellent balcony and bathroom.The ship - ... Read More
We were on a combined visit to Easter Island (which was superb) and then a cruise from Chile to San Diego. We were very happy with our stateroom, which was spacious, very comfortable and had an excellent balcony and bathroom.The ship - Celebrity Eclipse - is a good size has an attractive range of amenities while never seeming too big. We always felt the ship had plenty of space. Embarkation was quite straightforward as we had stayed in Santiago the day before and it was a simple coach ride to the port at San Antonio. In the dining room we chose to dine with other guests and the eight of us got on really well. In fact we spent quite a bit of leisure time together. We just clicked as a group. The quality of of food in the main dining room was generally poor - much worse than on Princess ships we have used in the past. We had a very nice waiter, but he got used to saying :'If there is anything you don't like I will change it,' when bringing dishes to our table. The food was sometimes cold, often unappetisingly presented and just not what we expected. The others on our table - regulars on Celebrity - said the standard of food on their ships had declined markedly in recent years. In contrast, the Ocean Cafe food was usually very good, with a terrific selection to choose from. Lunch was especially good. We also had one lunch in the dining room, which was a pleasant experience. We always enjoyed a drink in the evenings before dinner and often a nightcap afterwards. We soon realised that service in the bars was very poor - everyone seemed to be going to the bar and getting drinks themselves. We resorted to this - again, not what we expected. We complained about paying an 18% service charge when drinks service was basically do-it-yourself but they refused to remove it. If anything, service round the pool was even worse, with seldom a waiter in sight. The grill bar and ice cream bar were very good. We did not try the speciality restaurants as they were very expensive. Someone came round on a couple of nights offering us $20 per head discount if six of us went to eat there, but we declined. We found the speciality restaurants and drinks very expensive compared with Princess. We took the very expensive trip to Machu Picchu which was brilliant. I think it was contracted to another firm who really knew what they were doing, even though it was a very tiring experience. We thought this might be our one chance to go there and it was well worth doing. Evening entertainment was par for the course on cruise ships. The cruise director (entertainments director) was especially aggravating, referring to the captain all the time as 'Super Capitan.' He wasn't that super as he twice told us we were in the South Atlantic when we were in the South Pacific. There was a brilliant speaker on all kinds of wild life topics - she was one of the best we had heard. Disembarkation was very smooth and hassle free. Would we travel with Celebrity again? Probably not, as other shipping lines we have tried in the same sector of the market are cheaper and much better. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given ... Read More
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given assigned times for immigration. But then they threw the schedules away huge groups go all at once . This caused long waits , long lines, long waits for elevators and lines jamming the stair cases. The captains club hostess did not seem overly friendly and a bit standoff and did not seem interested in the passengers. The cruise director was excellent. Bar staff / waiters seemed overwhelmed and service was slow. Stateroom attendant was excellent . ports in chile (except for santiago) and peru were poor and we would not do them again. Santiago and surrounding area was good. Would we do this cruise again ... No. shore excursions were expensive and limited. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Our cruise on Xpedition was a celebration of my 40th birthday, and the trip truly exceeded expectations. From the exceptional staff to the fresh local food on board, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. Xpedition is a relatively old ship ... Read More
Our cruise on Xpedition was a celebration of my 40th birthday, and the trip truly exceeded expectations. From the exceptional staff to the fresh local food on board, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. Xpedition is a relatively old ship by modern cruise standards, but she has aged well and is lovingly maintained. We were surprised how much she felt like a true Celebrity ship just on a much smaller scale. With one dining room, one bar, and close quarters, you get to know the other passengers and crew much more than on a large ship. Fortunately for us, we enjoyed our fellow travelers and crew members. The Galapagos itself is a very special place, and the way the National Park is managed really limits crowds. The naturalists who lead the excursions are exceedingly patient and considerate. They are informative and knowledgeable about the environment, wildlife, and geology of the islands. Finally, make sure you know in advance what this trip is and is not. We were shocked to learn that a handful of passengers did not realize this was an adventure cruise with rugged hikes. The experience is not for everyone, so make sure you are up for an adventure when you book this trip. If you are, you’ll be rewarded with a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise, our 11th with Celebrity, because we had never visited South America and it seemed a good opportunity to visit three countries. We had previously booked the Rio Carnival cruise for the previous year, but postponed it ... Read More
We chose this cruise, our 11th with Celebrity, because we had never visited South America and it seemed a good opportunity to visit three countries. We had previously booked the Rio Carnival cruise for the previous year, but postponed it for personal reasons. We changed to this cruise because it was slightly longer being 14 days rather than 10, it was a terribly long way to fly and so we wanted as long there as possible. We also chose this cruise because it was on the Solstice class Eclipse rather than the Millenium class Infinity. We had previously been on a cruise on Celebrity Millenium and prefer the Solstice class ships. The Celebrity Eclipse is lovely, its the second time we have sailed on her and the staff were all excellent. However, every time we travel with Celebrity we notice cost cutting, there is always something missing or costing extra since the previous cruise we did although the prices of their cruises are rising rapidly. The food in the main dining room is not as good as it used to be, the variety is more limited and food is often not very hot. The sommelier's have more tables to look after too. The problem with this cruise was the ports visited. Embarkation day was chaotic, it was done through a convention centre rather than the cruise terminal. The actual check-in was perfectly ok, but then we had to wait for around an hour to be taken to the ship by bus - there was way too much hanging around. Having left home at 2.30pm on the Friday afternoon for Heathrow and flown at 10pm that evening, we landed at 9am Saturday morning and we were not onboard the ship until around 2pm on the Sunday (we had been put up in a hotel in Buenos Aries on the Saturday night). We went on an excellent trip to Mimosa Estancia near Buenos Aries on Monday and had a great time. After that it was all downhill, some of this was because the weather was bad for the entire cruise, which was nobody's fault of course. Our next stop was Monevideo where we did a highlights tour, basically there were no highlights, we had never visited such a dump of a place before. We could not visit the next port, Punto del Este as the captain announced at 7am that morning that the sea was too rough for the tendering operation so we would not be stopping there. At the next port, Puerto Madryn, it was announced the night before that all the shore excursions would be cancelled as recent rain had left the roads in such a poor condition. We were desperate to get off the ship having spent two cold, wet days at sea so we walked around the port town, but there was nothing to see! The other ports were ok, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt. We just about glimpsed Cape Horn through the fog but at least the sea was calm. All in all there were way too many sea days on this cruise, in fact half the 14 day cruise was spent at sea, it was an awfully long way to go to just see the sea. It has put us off long haul cruising, we had previously done Asian and Central American cruises. There is too much hanging around, too many sea days with not much to do on the ship when its not warm enough to sit on the deck. Celebrity cruises are not the best for entertainment. Some of the shows were good, we saw a funny comedian and a fantastic acrobatic show (Euphoria) but some awful guest entertainers including an overly flamboyant pianist and an awful singer who had a very high opinion of himself and very little talent. Also their show 'Topper' has been running for years and gets tedius when you have seen it several times! We enjoyed the ship experience as always but would not recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, which was Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, including sailing around Cape Horn and Straits of Magellan. It was a 14-night cruise. The Eclipse is a beautiful ship that is elegantly furnished. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary, which was Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, including sailing around Cape Horn and Straits of Magellan. It was a 14-night cruise. The Eclipse is a beautiful ship that is elegantly furnished. The staff provided outstanding service, especially our room attendant and wait staff in the main dining room. We were really disappointed in the quality of the food in the main dining room and in the Oceanview Cafe. The presentation of the food was always very appealing, but flavor and options were severely lacking. In addition the Oceanview Cafe was extremely crowded. Twice, we were unable to find a seat and had to go elsewhere to eat! After about the 4th day, they started putting extra tables and chairs in the walkway through the cafe. The quality of entertainment in the Eclipse Theater was not what we've been accustomed to having on a cruise ship. We went to the theater nearly every night, but left early everytime with one exception. The talent just was not there. The one night we stayed all the way through the program was when they had a trio called, "Shades of Buble." They sang songs recorded by Michael Buble. They were talented, and we enjoyed them. We had 4 excursions scheduled. The one in Puerto Madryn was cancelled due to the rain the night before that has washed out the roads. I was really disappointed because we were going to see penguins, which I was looking forward to. The other excursions were all very good. We had one in Buenos Aries which was a tour of the City, a visit to San Telmo Market and a fabulous steak dinner in a restaurant. We also did an excursion in Montevideo, Uruguay which was a tour of the City and a visit to a ranch where we were treated to a hay ride, bar-b-que (not too good) and all the wine, beer or water we wanted to drink. We had an excursion in Santiago that was very nice. It took us to a nice historical plaza and a tour through the City, a lapis luzili shop and finally to a lovely park on San Cristobal Hill. After this tour, we were taken to the airport to pick up our luggage that had been transferred there and catch our flight. That process was well coordinated by the ship and the tour company and worked very smoothly! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our 3rd cruise; the previous cruises were with Oceania and Seabourn on much smaller ships and apparently in a higher class of luxury. We had never been to South America before and were hoping for some spectacular scenery. We were ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise; the previous cruises were with Oceania and Seabourn on much smaller ships and apparently in a higher class of luxury. We had never been to South America before and were hoping for some spectacular scenery. We were disappointed. The itinerary featured a cruise through the Beagle Channel to Ushaia and later through the Straits of Magellan on the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage. However those parts of the cruise occurred substantially at night and we saw very little. Glaciers? Nope. There were too many sea days for us and the ports visited apart from Buenos Aires (where we had spent 5 days before embarking) and Montevideo were of little interest. Ushaia is a pretty town and set below some beautiful snow covered peaks but that was it. Embarkation was impressively efficient. The dining was a let down. The food in the MDR was not much better than pub standard and sometimes unacceptably worse. The room was beautiful and the sommeliers and waiters provided quite excellent service but the food rarely bore much resemblance to the lavish descriptions on the menus. I had an allegedly Moroccan tagine in which none of the claimed ingredients could be identified. It was tasteless stew. Poor desserts. Cold vegetables. Tough meats. Steak Dianne which a waiter agreed was nothing like it purported to be. Dry tasteless cakes. The kitchen lets the front of house badly down. Those who write the menu descriptions have clearly not dined in the MDR. On the basis of the MDR standards we did not try the specialty restaurants assuming that the standards would not justify the cost. Perhaps we missed out. The wines available in the classic package were good especially the South African wines. We are Australians. The main cafe for breakfast and lunch had extensive options although the standard was cafe level. The room was nearly always crowded but that is a given with 2880 guests. The concierge balcony cabin was very good. Spacious and with a very good bathroom. I don’t see that paying for concierge is of any value. The entertainment was mainly good but not spectacular. Guest performers were good. The Liar Liar night featuring the Captain and the Entertainment MC was a disgrace. Pure filth. I walked out after 15 minutes but my wife made the mistake of staying as we were with friends. Celebrity should either get rid of this feature or clean it up. It was astounding to see the Captain taking part. The enclosed pool area was terrific and I enjoyed the pool size. The library was good. The cinema was appreciated although the films were recycled after a week. The ships facilities are extensive and to repeat it is a beautiful ship. Disembarkation at the not ideal port of San Antonio was again impressively efficient. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
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