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4 Celebrity Xpedition Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Having read prior reviews, I am not going to give a "blow by blow" description of the Galapagos Experience, since other reviewers have done such a thorough job of it. Instead, I will offer some insights and opinions regarding ... Read More
Having read prior reviews, I am not going to give a "blow by blow" description of the Galapagos Experience, since other reviewers have done such a thorough job of it. Instead, I will offer some insights and opinions regarding this amazing journey. I have included my email address. If you read this and have any questions regarding the trip I would be more than happy to help. So, without further ado... When people say this is the "trip of a lifetime" it is a total understatement, but is it for everyone? No. The Galapagos experience on Celebrity Xpedition is not your typical get on, stop at a port, get off, get back on, repeat tomorrow. It is a trip for those seeking activity. As Jason, our wonderful Cruise Director, put it you need "a sense of adventure". Without it, you will be lost and disappointed, which none of the (fantastic) crew of the Xpedition wants. Don't go for the food. Don't go for the entertainment. Don't go for the luxurious accommodations. Go for the journey. To begin, the journey starts in Quito. We did have altitude adjustment issues. They are not crippling but they do get some getting used to. How would I describe it? From time to time we felt short of breath and our heart raced. Talk to your doctor about visiting a high altitude destination so you know what to expect. The JW Marriott hotel is well appointed and the staff goes out of their way to make you feel welcome in Ecuador. While there I recommend to try new things (i.e. you can have orange juice at home any day, but guanabana? Go for it! It's delicious). The day in Quito is lovely. The dinner the first evening is nice. Celebrity takes care of everything, which makes making decisions easy. As others mentioned, the transfers and flight to Baltra are simple. Before you know it you are on Xpedition and on to your first "visit" (the word used on the ship instead of excursion). From then on, and for the next 7 days, you are transported to a world where the animals have no fear of humans and everywhere you look there is something beautiful - birds, flowers, wildlife - led by a group of the most knowledgeable and friendly Naturalist Guides one could hope for. The brochures and videos show people walking over and/or around the wildlife and a skeptical person might think "nice setup" by the marketing team. Wrong. Imagine standing 2 feet from a 3-month old sea lion pup. Imagine swimming with playful sea lions and majestic sea turtles. Imagine walking on lava flows hundreds of thousands of years old. That is what this experience is about. You can choose to see all this up close or from the side of a Zodiak, but you still must have the sense of adventure. Service on the Xpedition is outstanding and personal. Most moving to me was on the last night when, after a toast to the passengers by the captain, all the staff of the ship walk around and individually thank you for sharing the journey with them. They thank YOU! Quite a twist. When the journey ends, and Jason, or whoever your Senior Naturalist/Cruise Director happens to be, recounts for you (in video format) all you've seen and done you wonder how it all came to pass so quickly. You wonder where the time went. Being away from civilization for 7 days truly means returning to reality. The flight back to Quito, shopping outing (but LOTS of scarves at the "Indian" open market!) and subsequent dinner are an easement back to "reality". We chose to stay an additional day in Quito. This gave us the chance to unwind and reflect on all we had seen and done. A lovely dinner at a local restaurant (Mare Nostrum) capped our extra day. Again, other reviewers have given detailed information about what you do each day. However, if I can be of any help beyond providing the daily schedule, please email me at the email address provided by CC. This journey/experience/trip has had a visceral impact on us and changed the way we view our world and we feel privileged to have seen and done all we've seen and done. Yes. It was the "trip of a lifetime". Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My wife and I, experienced cruisers, had heard that the Galapagos cruise was "the trip of a lifetime," and expected the islands to be fantastic. We had known others who had been on (more)expensive tours than ours, and although ... Read More
My wife and I, experienced cruisers, had heard that the Galapagos cruise was "the trip of a lifetime," and expected the islands to be fantastic. We had known others who had been on (more)expensive tours than ours, and although they loved the tours had less than enthusiastic things to say about the ship they were on. We had never cruised on a ship as small as the Expedition, and thus did not expect much of the shipboard experience itself. Boy, were we positively surprised by the ship, and on board experience! The Expedition is a 5 year old ship designed originally for a different purpose, but purchased by Celebrity a few years ago. It had just returned from dry dock before our boarding, and was "spic an span" with new carpeting and upholstery. The rooms are GREAT--roomy and nicely appointed for such a small ship. We were in the least expensive cabin on the ship, but it was as nice and comfortable as more expensive cabins. All are outside, and the more expensive cabins had a larger window, but ours was "just fine." There are a few balcony cabins (more expensive), but the tours are so wonderful,and the ship is so small there is little need for the extra expenditure. The food is "exceptional" and the dining room very nice. There is no reason to "dress up" for dinner, with slacks and polo shirts just fine. There is a large lounge with bar--super. There is even a small gift shop with most everything you might need, including sundries, clothing, dvds, and even galapagos jewelry. There is an outside eating area as well. One night we even had dinner under the stars, and one night a special Ecuadorian dinner. Although the ship is wonderful, the best thing about the Expedition is the crew. From the Captain, to the Maitre D, the waiters, cleaning crew, to the Cruise Director and Guide Staff ("Naturalists") everyone is exceptional. On most cruises the staff smiles on cue, and appears to be responsive to the needs of the guests, on this ship it looks like the staff REALLY IS what they appear to be. Everyone was so kind, happy, professional and really seemed to enjoy the guests and their own jobs. There is an open bridge policy, and the Captain and staff seemed to love showing us around. There was also a chance to visit the cooking staff and tour the kitchen---often available on other ships, but on this one we really felt welcome! There was even a young man who played the piano (and other local instruments) in the evening and during outside dinners. He was great as well. The best of the crew however was the Cruise Director, Jason, and the naturalists. Although the ship holds 96 passengers, on our cruise there were only 74, with 6 naturalists. Each evening Jason told us about the following days tours (generally 2 per day), and gave us a choice of High, Medium, or Low intensity activities. With these choices guest of all physical conditions could participate. During the day, he gave lectures on the geology, and socialization on the Islands. The ship, even though small, cannot land on the islands directly, so from the ship guest are loaded onto rubber rafts (like the ones used by the Naval Seals) called Zodiacs. The Zodiac drivers were wonderful, and if a special animal was spotted, the drivers would stop the Zodiac or circle around so each of the 10-15 guests could snap as many pictures as they wanted. Of course, the Galapagos are all about the scenery, and the animals. Sea Lions, Turtles, Tortoises, Iguanas, Birds of all types and sizes and colors, and other animals---were unbelievable. The animals have no fear of humans, and will walk up to you (or vice-versa) without seeming to mind the presence of the visitors with cameras and binoculars. Many of the animals are only found in these Islands, and after visiting it is understandable how Darwin used what he saw there to help develop his theory of Evolution. My wife and I took over 2000 pictures!!!! The Expedition provides many useful extras: Binoculars, Wet Suits (the waters are cold, but once in are not too cold), Snorkeling gear, and Bathrobes, to name a few. The last night of the cruise, all guests are given a very special gift (I won't reveal what it is, so that you can be as wonderfully surprised as we. There is plenty of time for shopping at the 2 Islands where shops are found, and at the Airport on day of departure (Shirts, hats, and knick knacks are relatively inexpensive). There is even nice jewelry found on Santa Cruz, the Saturday before departure. There is internet available on the ship at a cost of $30/60 minutes). The minutes can be used throughout the cruise, but the connections are generally slow). With the exception of internet, purchases and premium liquors---everything else is INCLUDED IN THE COST OF THE CRUISE. Drinks are included---even gratuities to staff and naturalists! A heartwarming touch was the disembarkation, when Jason and all of the Naturalists accompanied the guests to the airport, and remained there until the time the flight was called, at which time they hugged us and shook hands and seemed to genuinely thank US for having been there! My wife and I made our own pre and post cruise arrangements in Quito (and saved alot of money compared to the Celebrity package), and would be happy to provide more details by email if anyone is interested. The bottom line is this---If you love nature, unusual animals, fantastic scenery that is photo perfect, and a cruise that is A number 1--the Expedition is the one to take---indeed, it is the TRIP OF A LIFETIME. Harry (& Benay) Croft Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
There have been several anecdotal and chronological reviews so far - here is my attempt at "something completely different". Les (Pat is on a different shore excursion....) The ABC of Xpedition (NOT in traditional order): A ... Read More
There have been several anecdotal and chronological reviews so far - here is my attempt at "something completely different". Les (Pat is on a different shore excursion....) The ABC of Xpedition (NOT in traditional order): A is for altitude of Quito - while we took it easy walking (and drinking alcohol) and had no ill effects, some other passengers struggled with breathing (and other symptoms) on steps, at night, and after drinking. A is for Alejandra - a wonderful Celebrity guide in Quito who has many skills including wit, good humour and stopping taxis with her smile. A is for Albatrosses - they danced, they clacked beaks on cue as promised. B is for bird-life - no red-footed booby or vermilion fly-catcher spotted on our shore excursions, but - the rest flew, nested, mated or hopped near us and we have photos to prove it. B is for bridge on Expedition - a must visit - modern technology and old-fashioned friendly officers who answered all of my dumb questions with a smile. B is for boobies - what else can we add? - blue-footed and Nazca in every imaginable pose - and so unafraid. C is for Christian - the Xpedition Maitre d' - he walks the talk and the staff responds with excellence in every way. C is for Carlos - another Celebrity guide par excellence in Quito - may you be on his bus. C is for Celebrity - the reputed touch of class we have experienced on other ships in the fleet is present on this expedition in all (but one? - see T) aspects from arrival in Quito to departure ten days later. D is for Diego - attentive bar steward who tolerated our attempts at Spanish and always brought the right "vino" with a smile. D is for Darwin Research Institute - a most informative place to visit (though showing its age?). I would have liked more "free" time here to explore more slowly. Sorry to hear some concerns expressed about the uncertain future of this establishment and the Galapagos Islands. D is for dolphins - as predicted in the Xpedition Today, they came, and they played with our ship and entertained us. O is for the opportunity to choose different levels of excursion each day - this really worked will for us all week.. O is for the oyster catchers that have stopped migrating and now live in Galapagos year round. O is for outdoor dining, and the scheduler who seemed to know which nights would be suitable for dining under the stars - clever! F is for Freddie - a naturalist with a flair for sharing his wide knowledge - patient to a fault with answering the "what is that" question (which he had sometimes given just minutes ago). F is for Fausto - a friendly Captain who loves his work. F is for frigate birds - so beautiful in flight - so dangerous - so brilliant when a male is puffed up to impress the female. F is for Fabio - a naturalist who is well spoken, and has a genuine concern for the future of the Galapagos (albeit a pessimistic one?). H is for healthy ship - no reports that I was aware of in terms of gastric problems... a few coughs by day 6 and some sore throats reported by Quito on day 9. H is for hand-painted skirts - worn by the folkloric ladies on the Xpedition on the last night (a summary of wild-life seen during the week before) H is for High Intensity - not to be avoided as a choice of shore excursion if you are in reasonable shape and have good footwear. Some of the best views and best bird life were seen on this level ("high" refers more to length of time and steepness of climbs than to length travelled). K is for Katherine and her last night rendition of "Galapagos: and the living is easy". K is for knife - that specialty one by the cheeseboard made sampling the variety of cheeses so simple. K is for keyboard - Jacobo was always there to play for us (and on pan flute too) V is for Venice Island with its flamingos reflected in the brackish pond. V is for VAT - it is 12% in Ecuador! L is for lava - such shapes, colours, textures (and lava cactus and lava lizards) L is for Louis - a waiter who "reserved" a table for our changing dinner groupings. E is for espresso - ordered first Sunday after lunch in the Dining Room. It then came after every lunch without my ordering it - no matter which waiter served our table - how do they do that? E is for Ecuadorian staff and crew - well trained, efficient, hard-working, and always smiling when greeting passengers. E is for endemic species - the local naturalists were proud and keen to point them out and describe the peculiar features of the sightings. G is for Galapagos - a destination of a lifetime for those who know what is in store. G is for Guayaquil - our unexpected destination the first (short) night. Quito airport was closed as we approached from Houston and we were diverted - but Celebrity reps met us, had us through Immigration and on a bus to the Hilton efficiently. Given that we took off to Quito the next morning, we had a total of three landings and three take-offs here in the seaside city. N is for Nacho - a well versed naturalist who led our five member band on the "survival of the fittest" hike - we will stay in his Puerto Ayora hotel if we return to the islands. N is for new friends - there were so many open, sociable, stimulating guests on board who went quickly past the ubiquitous "where are you folks from?" stage to serious discussion of topics and issues. P is for Pedro - we quickly nicknamed him Pedro - King of barmen. Was there a time in the Beagle Grill or Discovery Room Lounge when he was not there smiling and serving? P is for penguins - they posed, swam, and fished so close to us - so tiny! P is for Puerto Ayora - shops, DRI, Highlands and more - glad we visited twice. P is for Post Office on Floreana where we witnessed the human equivalent of a feeding frenzy (we have one card to deliver close to home). I is for iguanas - they are everywhere and sometimes hard to spot (that is not a handrail, Clive) - do they think we are as ugly as we think they are? I is for Isabela with her five volcanoes - some of the best views from the top of the stairs here. I is for Imodium - a word not heard once during the whole time on board. Q is for Quito - some incredible Old Town structures (modernized inside but not out) - but litter and smog detract from its beauty. Q is for questions - passengers asked probing and productive ones of naturalists and thereby added to our learning experience (but there were also "dumb" ones from the non-listeners and this grated by week's end). Y is for yawns - seen often at early morning (e.g. 5.15am in Quito on the last morning) and every evening during dinner after two or three excursions each day. This is not a late night party ship. Y is for yo quiero - 2 of the 22 Spanish words we used on board when ordering - resulted in lots of smiles in the bar and dining room from the appreciative Ecuador staff (or were they laughing at me?) R is for Raoul – Executive chef who works miracles with the local produce in a small galley. The Ecuador buffet lunch, the fish dishes (such sauces!) and the desserts were outstanding (and those jellies eh Michele?) R is for routines – e.g. back aboard in the afternoon – off with life jacket – receive a refreshing cold towel – use the anti-bacterial soap provided – up a deck for a different fruit juice from Diego each day – Jacobo on keyboards to pipe you to you cabin (some added a cerveza from Pedro en route) – shower! S is for Suarez Point on Espanola – how can such an uninteresting looking island (from the sea) have everything in such close quarters – the visit of the week! S is for sea lions – all ages, all sizes and so close – and smells…… S is for stateroom attendants – rarely seen but took extra special care of our cabin the belongings we forgot to put away in the rush to go ashore again. S is for South American wines served – generally very good quality though restricted in grape variety. S is for soups – enjoyed every hot soup at lunch and cold (fruit based) ones at dinner. U is for “unbelieve it” – naturalist Nacho’s favourite word to special sights and experiences. U is for unprepared – there were some passengers who did not expect to work so hard at this “vacation” – their lack of interest in the experience became a distraction hard to ignore. T is for turtles and tortoises – sleeping, hissing, walking, mating – small to Antony sized. T is for TV set in the cabin – with a front input for the cable from my camera we were able to enjoy a quick look at daily pictures – made culling easy to free up memory. T is for Theatro Sucre – dinner here on the last night in Quito was a very “unCelebrity” event in our opinion (ex-restaurant reviewers and current opera subscribers) – cool food, un-professional and erratic service, not a wine-bar as advertised, wines substituted without asking, prices on list and bill differ (guess which way), and a singer who could not stop from going flat. Décor and tuxes alone do not magically turn a one star restaurant into a four star place. W is for welcome at Guest Relations – at any time of day they provided top-notch Celebrity service. W is for wave action – we were pleasantly surprised at how smooth the seas were (took off our preventative measures after two days). Some passengers reportedly were not so lucky. W is for wine list – the premium one has some strange listings (Mario explained why). W is for weeks – it will take several weeks to digest the experiences, sort photos and souvenirs, and to recover from the pace of activity. Z is for zodiac rides – the pipeline from ship to shore - sometimes wet, always safe – loading and landing from that rear deck is so efficient and practical. J is for Jaime – the “teasing” naturalist who kept my wife and I smiling when on Zodiac or on shore. J is for Jaime – the waiter for our first dinner – called me by my first name every day from then on whether I sat at his section or not (and my wife Madam Patty too). J is for Jason – what a class act – humour, knowledge, patience, initiative, energy – a real leader of expeditions! M is for Mario – as Hotel Director he claims to be having a holiday working on Xpedition – don’t believe it. He looks calm and unruffled but he is paddling like crazy underneath to make sure everything in his department works for passengers – and the results are extra special. M is for Marriott – very enjoyable Quito home – worthy of the Celebrity choice and confidence. X is for Xpedition – a classy lady – glad we met! She looks so elegant as you approach by Zodiac, and her performance and design makes exploring the Galapagos so much easier. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Seeing the Galapagos on the Xpedition turned out to be better than one could imagine. The boat is really first class in every aspect. A tour of the engine room and explanation of the working of the ship was a real experience too. This must ... Read More
Seeing the Galapagos on the Xpedition turned out to be better than one could imagine. The boat is really first class in every aspect. A tour of the engine room and explanation of the working of the ship was a real experience too. This must be one of the most Eco friendly ship afloat. The tour starts with a two night stay at the J.W. Marriott in Quito, a tour of Quito with an excellent guide and a chance to visit the equator (a real kick to take a picture with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern). The next day off to Baltra and arrive on the Xpedition. The ship takes normally 90+ passengers with a crew of 60+. As this was "low" season we had only 43 passengers and we were treated like royalty. Amazing that you experience a day that you feel was an experience of a life time only to be blown away the next day by what seemed a even more memorable experience. Snorkeling with sea lion pups, thought, was probably the highlight. The crew was super friendly and the guides, one couldn't say enough about their excellence. The food for Ecuador was outstanding. The final surprise the guides took pictures all week and the last night we saw the week in review set to music and then were given a PowerPoint CD of the show. What a great touch. The final verdict, if you have chance to do this...GO! You will never forget an experience like this. Celebrity has hit a home run with not only this ship but with the all inclusive policy of an open bar, tips included ( I find the practice of making an optional item, based on service, compulsory on other cruises...obnoxious to say the least) all land and water trips are part of the package and everything, and I mean everything is included. The final verdict, if you have chance to do this...GO! You will never forget an experience like this. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Celebrity Xpedition Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 3.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 1.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.9
Enrichment 4.0 4.7
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.5
Rates 5.0 4.5

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