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27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try ... Read More
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try to book mainline cruise trips for $100 or less per person per day. Needless to say, there is no such option in the Galapagos. The best “deal” we could find in relative comfort was on Celebrity’s 100 passenger Xpedition. In an effort to save some money, we booked the least expensive cabin we could find at the least expensive time of the year. And we avoided the expensive mainland add-ons (to Quito and elsewhere) that Celebrity sells, booking only the seven day cruise and making all of our flight arrangements to and from the Galapagos ourselves. OK, after all of that, our cruise price per person (including taxes and fees) was still about $560 per person per day, making this the most expensive cruise we have ever done. Was it worth it? Absolutely! One thing that mitigates the cost is that this cruise is truly all inclusive. For example, no tipping is expected, and all types of alcohol are included. The only additional things my wife and I paid for on board was a $30 bag of laundry and a $23 bottle of sunblock. Yeah, not a typo, bring a lot of sunblock so you don’t have to buy any on board. We arrived two nights early and stayed in the small town of Puerto Ayora. There is a $20 visa fee tourists have to pay, and a $100 national park fee at the airport. Now Celebrity pays this as part of your cruise package, but when we arrived the officials at the airport did not yet have the “list” of Celebrity passengers, so we had to pay the fee. On the day our cruise began, however, Celebrity immediately refunded our payment, so that was no problem. OK, some details about the cruise. Embarkation was a breeze. We made our way back to the airport on the morning of the cruise and met with a Celebrity rep there. After a pleasant one-hour wait in the terminal, they put us on a short bus ride to the Baltra marina, and an Xpedition zodiac met us at the marina and took us out to the Xpedition. We were then shown immediately to our cabin. Our oceanview cabin was not particularly remarkable. In terms of size and layout it was very similar to oceanview cabins we have had on larger cruise ships. The shower was a bit bigger, and nicer, than some we have had on other ships. There was plenty of hot water, good water pressure, and the in room hair dryer worked well. The water that comes out of the taps in your cabin is, of course, potable, but it also tastes of chlorine, so the ship also has drinking water dispensers on each deck that have no chlorine taste. The food served in the main dining room was also similar in quality to what we have had on other cruise ships, but was more limited in variety and, not surprisingly, heavy on fish and seafood dishes. The food was not the best we have had, but it easily met our expectations, given the difficulty of resupply that the Xpedition faces. We were told that about 50% of the food is sourced locally, but many products that we westerners are used to (like beef) have to be flown in by Celebrity or otherwise sourced over long distances. And some of the food has to be specially treated before being allowed in the Galapagos. Ok, and now the superlatives. The ratio of crew to passengers on the Xpedition is very high, with 62 crew members vs 100 passengers. And that meant a level of service we have not experienced on any cruise. For example, our room was serviced multiple times a day, seemingly every time we left it (OK, maybe not quite that often). When we were in the bar or restaurant the waiters were constantly circulating and asking if they could get you something. And when we would return from a shore excursion the staff was always right there waiting with cold beverages and snacks. One thing that surprised me, but I guess shouldn’t have, is that the crew was almost entirely Ecuadoran. In fact, 61 out of 62, including the Captain, were Ecuadoran. What a competent, energetic, and pleasant group of people. Hey, but accommodations, food, and ship board service are not really why you come to the Galapagos. It is for the wildlife! And Celebrity shines in getting you to the action. Each day of the cruise you have at least two activities, morning and afternoon. There were three basic types of activities: a walk ashore, a snorkel, or a lengthy zodiac ride (without landing or snorkeling). With regard to the walks, there was always the option of a longer or shorter walk. The snorkel trips were sometimes shore snorkels (right off the beach) or deepwater snorkels. My advice: always do the deepwater snorkels when offered because the water clarity and sea life variety is better than the shore snorkels. And Celebrity plans the deepwater snorkels very well. There was virtually no current on any of our snorkels, and what current there was was always pushing the way we wanted to go. On one snorkel we went three quarters of the way around a small island, for a total distance of 1.5 miles, and it was so easy that we virtually never used our arms, only our flippers, with the wetsuits providing plenty of buoyancy. As for signing up for what you wanted to do on a given day, you got a briefing the night before and right after that briefing chose what you wanted to do. There was no rush or pressure to be “first in line” to sign up for anything, as the Xpedition can accommodate everyone on every desired option. Group size ashore was usually 14 to 16 persons with one naturalist, which was about as many folks as one zodiac could comfortably carry. The naturalists were great -- well informed with a pretty good command of English. As for the wildlife, we saw pretty much all the biggies: Tortoises, boobies (Blue Foot and Nazca), land iguanas, marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, flamingos, crabs, rays, and sharks. We even saw three albatrosses very close up, although we were well past the season when the albatrosses have normally departed the islands. And we saw many other species of birds, including, of course, multiple species of Darwin finches. Many of these animals have incredible coloration. And since there are no large land-based predators in the Galapagos almost all of these animals are completely unafraid of humans and you could get very close to them. A true photographer’s dream. Some offbeat highlights: (1) One day we were momentarily stuck on some rough rocks in a zodiac because of an extremely low tide, and the crews of two other zodiacs worked quickly to free us. A bit much excitement that. (2) One morning a lava gull landed next to me on the ship, and I remarked what a beautiful bird it was to a naturalist sitting nearby. She then told me the lava gull was the rarest gull in the world, and there it was five feet away eyeing my croissant!! I asked if I could feed it (just joking). (3) There were an incredible number of baby sea lions. OMG, so cute. And so curious. The naturalists warned us that for the protection of the babies we should not touch them. But sometimes it was difficult, as they would come right up to you in their curiosity. (4) Probably the highlight of the trip for me was watching sea lions while snorkeling. They would swim like torpedos all around you, and then groups of them would play with each other, and then one might come up and eyeball you before swimming away. Wow. Debarkation was also a breeze. Settle up you bill, if you have one. Put your suitcases outside your room by 5:30 AM, and they are then delivered directly to the airport. Exit your room by 8:30 AM, wait in the lounge, and they call your cabin number for boarding a zodiac back to the short bus ride from dock to airport. Let me close with two more tips. When going ashore for a walk, the footing varied wildly from place to place. Sometimes the landing would be wet (meaning you had to wade a few feet up onto a beach) or dry (directly on to a dock, or jetty, or on some rocks). Then your hike could be on sand, or compact dirt, or broken rocks, or slippery rocks (algae and/or guano), or broken lava, or even some small boulder scrambling. My wife and I brought Tevas (for the wet landings) and lightweight hiking shoes, but on some hikes it would have been nice to have had actual hiking boots for more ankle support. Several times some of the older folks fell -- even on the short, so-called “easier” walks. Another clothing tip is to bring a very broad brimmed hat of some sort, and perhaps some neck covering like a scarf or other neck protector. The sun is brutal on the equator, and unexposed skin burns fast even in cloudy weather. One thing you don’t really need is your own snorkeling equipment. Celebrity provides all that, including wetsuits. As a final note, they told us that the composition of the Celebrity Galapagos fleet will change soon. Currently there are three Celebrity ships, the Xpedition (100 passengers), the Xperience (48 passengers), and the Xploration (16 passengers). The Celebrity Flora, a new, hyper-modern 100 passenger ship, joins the Galapagos fleet later in May. And sometime after that the Xpedition will be refurbished, with its capacity reduced to 64 passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long ... Read More
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long walk excursions, this is not a trip for you. This trip is all about the Galapagos Archipelago and its wonder. To get there. Information for booking flights was very good and we even had our travel agent double check for us. NO problems what so ever being greeted at the airport and being brought to the hotel. The hotel and staff in Quito were great. The tour company, the transfers, everything. It all felt welcoming, and everyone seemed truly concerned with delivering the product. Very organized at all times. Travel from Quito to the ship was never stressful, which left a lot of time to build on the excitement I already had. Again, super organized and I can't remember having to even touch my luggage from the time I handed it off in the hotel in Quito until it was in my cabin on board. Now, I hate reading spoilers in reviews of trips I'm looking at, so I will be leaving some highlights out. I don't ruin another persons anticipation. I'll start with embarkation, the beginning of a long term dream come true, and yes there were tears of joy. It's not like any embarkation you are used to, except for the Celebrity standard of sparking wine. More joyful tears as we are escorted further into the ship. The CREW! Every last person was amazing, kind, and seemed to love their job. (How could you not?) There had to be a ratio of 2 crew for every passenger, but I don't actually know the stats. If any crew person had a bad day, we didnt' know it. With only 100 people it does not take naturalists, food and bev, or any crew that directly interact with passengers long to get to know everyone on the trip. Dining crew remembered by breakfast to steer me away from anything on the menu that was not gluten free. Which brings me to the food. I have seen some reviews of this trip and the food. I'll say from my opinion it was great. Keep in mind here, they have to use everything sourced from the region. That will limit what they can work with. So, you have to come to a point of acceptance that you can not have everything you think you should. When you get over that, they do a fantastic job with the food. No, I did not like everything, but I never went hungry. I was happy with my meals way more often than I was not. Some other reviews give better tips on ordering specifics that I found useful. Since those applied at the time I was on the ship, I will let you find those suggestions rather than repeat them here. Also regarding food. This is not 24 hr food ship. Don't get mad. I'm sure if you absolutely needed something one of the stellar crew will accommodate you, as long as you are not rude about it. This is a crew that wants to give everyone top level of service. I had to get out of my own comfort zone when it comes to cruising. There are not many places to hide away from the group, which I usually do. We ended up making friends that we have since stayed in touch with still long after and even visited with away from home. The way the dining room is set up, and the small excursion groups, you have to fight hard to be anti-social. I'm glad I gave up the fight. I quickly realized I was sharing this magical journey with only 99 other people in the same moment in time, and it was meant to be celebrated together. With that, moving onto the excursions. It works exactly the way Celebrity says it works. Again, I wont give any spoilers. Just keep your mind open. Remember where you are on the planet in the moment, and you will not be disappointed. Listen to the naturalists for directions and a ton of Galapagos knowledge. Make sure you always follow the safety rules, and watch your step. This is not a place with building codes. Watch your every step. Safety is always the priority. This truly was by far an experience that I have zero regret and feel I got every two years of saving pennies worth. We have already talked about saving up to go back in five years on a different loop. Rather than write my diary or repeat things covered in other very good reviews and helpful advice already on here (like sunscreen tips that were crucial) I will wrap it up. My last piece of advice. Try to write down some of the little things every day. It makes for great souvenir to look back on that beats any trinket you buy on Santa Cruz Island. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of ... Read More
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of year can greatly affect what you see and do on the islands. All tours on the islands are limited to groups of 16 with one licensed naturalist. As far as snorkeling, we didn’t do the advanced deep water, but were told by passengers who did, that Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island was amazing, swimming with sea lions and hundreds of sea turtles. (In the Galápagos it was mating and breeding season for the turtles.) The rainy season which usually starts in December hadn’t begun, so the trees were barren and the landscape looked like a desert. We were extremely lucky to see a juvenile albatross, stretching and flapping its wings in preparation to learn to fly. Usually by January this species has migrated and isn’t seen in the islands. We really enjoyed watching birds such as the Nascar booby and the frigatebird with their chicks. Although we saw several blue footed boobies on the outer loop, we were told by our naturalist that the red footed booby was only on San Cristobal Island, and unfortunately that day the ocean was quite rough, so the driver of our zodiac couldn’t get very close to shore. Only saw the red footed booby from a great distance. However we did see orcas (killer whales) jumping out of the water. If you do both inner and outer loops, Sunday and the following Saturday have the same itinerary. Sunday you will embark and the ship will sail around Baltra. Then on Saturday you will visit the Charles Darwin Center Giant Tortoise breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island and later take a bus ride to the highlands to plant scalesia trees. Afterwards an Ecuadorian buffet lunch at the Manzanillo Ranch was quite tasty. After eating we really enjoyed native folk dancing by young locals. Then we went out on the preserve to watch giant tortoises in their native surroundings. A great day, but not something we wanted to do twice. So the second Saturday morning, I had a relaxing massage on ship. Quite interesting--the room was a little bigger than a walk in closet, and the air conditioning blew cold air right on me, but it was relaxing. Then Monica, the head naturalist, took us to the island where we drove to the highlands skipping the tree planting, and eating lunch at the ranch. I loved the folk dancers and was glad we could see them perform twice. I have lots of tips about the Galápagos cruises which are in the review I did on the inner loop. If you have already read it, you can skip the rest of what I have written in this review. Visiting the Galápagos Islands has always been an dream of ours and finally we were able to make the cruise, both inner and outer loops. I am an avid (but amateur) photographer and looked forward to all the wildlife, never realizing how close we would be to beautiful sea lions, penguins, iguanas, blue footed boobies, tortoises, and more. The cruise begins with a day in Quito which ensures you will make it if your flight is late and you miss a connection. I loved this city with an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level. We stayed at the Marriott, a luxury hotel with all the amenities. One of our fellow passengers became quite sick from the altitude and the hotel provided oxygen and called a doctor who gave him a prescription. I especially enjoyed the Equatorial Line Museum tour which was arranged by Celebrity. I have to say this cruise line was so organized in every detail. The ship is only for 100 passengers, so it is small and not luxurious. I heard that Celebrity plans on renovating the ship and then it will accommodate about 40-50 passengers. Our first cabin on the fourth deck was great, but when we started the second week, they moved us to a cabin on the same deck which was as far "fore" (toward the front of the ship) as possible. This cabin was very noisy with lowering and raising the anchor and other ship activities. I complained and they moved us to a cabin on the third deck more toward the center of the ship which was much better. I recommend speaking to the hotel director if you have any problems. My husband uses a CPAP which requires distilled water. Notify the cruise line in advance so they can provide water if you use a CPAP. Also they have long extension cords so you can have the CPAP on the nightstand by the table. The dining was average. Some dinner items were great, but the buffets weren't quite as good. In fact I was really tired of the breakfast buffet after two weeks! The dining room is extremely noisy and sometimes it was hard hearing what the person next to me was saying. Entertainment is modest and there are lectures and movies to help prepare you for your land excursions and learn about what you will be seeing. One night the crew assembled some talented musicians and we were treated to some Ecuadorian and Latin music that was great! Don't miss the end of cruise slide show. Although we don't drink, alcoholic beverages were included in the price of the cruise. The shore excursions were well organized with 16 people and a well qualified naturalist per zodiac. Each excursion had two options--one difficult and one less strenuous. The landing may be "wet" or "dry." If going on a hike, wear water shoes for a wet landing, then change into hiking shoes. (I wore Keens with socks, or running or walking shoes would work, not big heavy boots!) I recommend a water resistant backpack for shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, phone etc. Also it would be a good idea to have a waterproof case for your phone. One of our fellow passengers ruined his phone in a rather difficult boarding of the zodiac with lots of big waves. (I swam for about twenty minutes in the Pacific Ocean with my Apple watch on my wrist and it was fine.) I would recommend an SLR camera for most photography--I had a zoom lens, but some of the other passengers carried two cameras around their neck, one with a zoom lens, and the other with a telephoto lens. For better viewing and as a back up, I brought an iPad to upload my pictures each evening. If you have an iPhone, learn how to use "Airdrop" if you don't already know how. Wonderful way to share photos with fellow passengers. Snorkeling was different from my previous experiences where a boat takes you out to a reef, drops you off, and you are right where the fish are. On the cruise excursions, sometimes the entry into the water is from the shore, which was a challenge for me because of the wave action. Then we would have to swim a ways to get to the rocks where the fish were. The advanced deep water snorkeling (recommended for experienced swimmers) was better from what I heard, easier to get in the water, and much better view of the marine life. (Celebrity provides snorkeling equipment and wetsuits. I brought my own prescription mask.) When you chose your excursions, the zodiac boat tours are the easiest. Just sit back and enjoy marine life and the views. In general, if you choose to go on all the excursions, you are going to need some stamina. I would think if you have knee problems or difficulty walking, this might not be the cruise for you. The ship has walking sticks which really helped me in hiking over rough lava and small boulders. If you forget motion sickness medication, there is a doctor on board and she/he will help. Just remember, you need to start the medication before seasickness sets in. I find ginger helps a lot for me. I recommend sun protective clothing which is an easy way to prevent sunburn without slathering on sunscreen. (I did sunscreen my face, neck, and hands.) Also a wide brimmed hat with a chin strap to protect the top of your head and face. No need to bring formal clothing on this cruise! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences ... Read More
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences with Celebrity, we looked into their three ships that cruise the Galapagos and decided the 98-passenger size of the Xpedition was the best bet for us. Once we decided on the cruise, we looked into booking our own air travel. However, based on previous reviews that worried us about flight delays and missing the ship, we opted to book the airfare (Copa) and extended stay before and after in Quito through Celebrity. We're so glad we did. Celebrity is extremely organized and handles every detail from when you land in Quito to when you depart to return home. Our stay in Quito before the cruise was interesting...toured the city, old cathedrals, the equator, etc. The JW Marriott was surprisingly beautiful with very spacious rooms. Because we booked a suite (Cabin 604) on the Xpedition, we received a junior suite at the hotel as well. Although the Celebrity-chartered Avianca flight was delayed from Quito to the Galapagos, Celebrity let us know in advance so we could sleep in. Once we arrived in the Galapagos, we were amazed at the varied topography and weather of the different islands, and of course the wildlife! We still can't believe how many sea lions, tortoises, dolphins, sharks, penguins, albatross, iguanas, sea turtles, etc we saw. Absolutely breathtaking. While the Xpedition is a bit dated and will be replaced with the Flora in a year or two, the ship is clean and comfortable and met our expectations. The food was very good and the service was impeccable. The crew seemed to genuinely want to make the guests happy -- and they succeeded! Our room was cleaned three times a day, which was appreciated since we showered at least twice a day. The excursions were perfectly organized and the naturalist guides were impressively knowledgeable and all had a good sense of humor. We really appreciated that the Xpedition had a doctor on board, as both my husband and I had to consult her about minor issues. We would definitely recommend this cruise if you do not have significant mobility issues. We are in our mid 40s and were probably among the youngest couples on the ship. Although Celebrity offers long and short hikes each day (we did all long hikes) and you would still see a lot if you did the short walks each day, you do have to be able to get into and out of the zodiac/panga in some tricky places. We didn't hear of anyone falling, but it could certainly happen if you have mobility issues. The highlight for us was the snorkeling excursions - two from beaches and three in deep water from the zodiacs. We saw an incredible amount of sea creatures and are thrilled with our Go Pro videos. If you are not equipped to snorkel (at least from the beaches), you would probably feel like you were missing out. The shortie wetsuits provided by Celebrity gave a lot of buoyancy so a lot of first time snorkels were able to join in. This was the smallest cruise we've done, and we were a little worried it would be too small with only 98 passengers -- but we ended up loving it. We quickly made great friends and often met for lunch or dinner. Other reviews mention packing tips... in addition to plenty of sunscreen and dry fit clothing, etc., we would recommend the following items: a multi plug to charge your camera, phones etc; snorkel/scuba socks and gloves; water shoes; an old iPod or cd for music in your cabin; lotion (all other toiletries were provided); alarm clock; and a sporty wrist watch. Don't expect to get much if any wifi on board, so we wished we had brought books to read. If you're looking for a great way to see the amazing Galápagos Islands and are up for an adventurous vacation, please don't hesitate to book this trip! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with ... Read More
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with rides to see the animals and birds and fish that are indigenous to the Galapagos islands. The food on board was a great mixture of International cuisine and local foods of Ecuador and its all inclusive! We cruised up to very small Galapagos penguins you could almost reach out and touch them. Beautiful Frigate birds wither large red "chins" flew over us is masses. My favorite of the birds is the Blue Footed Booby with its baby blu feet! And the sea lions with their pups on the rocks and the beaches were so cute. And the best of all were seeing the giant tortoises in their natural habitat from the smallest to the largest some over 100 years old. All pretty hard to not give this a 10 plus on the vacation list Put this cruise on your "Bucket List" The 10 day adventure is the best with a couple of extra days to see Quito, Equador and 7 days in the islands and did I say all inclusive ? You won't regret it! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ... Read More
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ship the crew is truly a happy group, when they smile it goes right to their eyes. They are extremely helpful and really intent on making sure everything is the way you want it. Food is good and they really try to give you different options but the menu has a lot of Galapagos foods. The naturalist that were on the board with us was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately I started the cruise with asthma problems and the altitude in Quito made it very difficult breathing and I couldn't do the hikes but they made sure there was something for me to see and do. The main thing that I don't think you would get with another cruise line is that they really seriously care about their clients. My husband hurt his back really bad to where he couldn't move or feel his right leg. The doctor on board the ship sent him off ship to hospital in Santa Cruz. Celebrity made all arrangements to get him there, while we were there they never left us alone, after several hours and the staff had to go back to the boat they contacted a translator to be with us in the hospital the whole time. From there they made hotel arrangements and private transportation the whole time till we got on the plane home. I am so grateful for all the help they gave us during this trying time but also for the amazing time we had all week. It was a blast. I will say the weather was perfect for hiking but the water is very cold ...... but it was amazing.. Worth every penny we spent for this trip. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK ... Read More
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK summer and sometimes the snorkelling was chilly. We selected this ship, which is quite big ( holding 48 maximum) as in the week we were there, it fitted ion with our dates. This trip was amazing and made special by the naturalists and guides. This is more of an expedition than a cruise> the guides were superb. Their interest and enthusiasm made the trip interesting and each day a new wonder. There were only 22 of us , and room for 48 and staff of nearly 50 to look after us. Great care was taken of us at all times, especially when we all snorkeled, which was nearly every day. The equipment was excellent and when the waters were "envigorating" we could wear 2 wet suits. You would think that lions and elephants are more interesting that birds and iguanas- but not when you have simply superb guides explaining all about them and Darwins discoveries in the area. Although the food was always of excellent quality, there was a "school dinners" feel to it as you went and collected your meal which was served from large dishes. Im not saying that the food wasn't good, it was, chicken fish fresh vegetables etc ( lobster of course on the last night) however I was expecting the food to be more what i expected from a Carnival trip. It may be of course similar to other ships in the area- lack of space, perhaps. With three, sometimes four trips to walk, kayak,or snorkel every day, there is not so much time on the ship. This cruise was number one on my wish list and it was very expensive. It lived up to my expectations. I would much rather have the inspiring and wonderful guides, more that perfect silver service food, but maybe this could have been tweeked ! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The Celebrity Cruise line did a fabulous job organizing all the events that took place from the airport in Quito, excursions around Quito, hotel arrangements at the JW Marriott, transportation to the Hotel and transportation to Baltra. ... Read More
The Celebrity Cruise line did a fabulous job organizing all the events that took place from the airport in Quito, excursions around Quito, hotel arrangements at the JW Marriott, transportation to the Hotel and transportation to Baltra. Organization was top notch and guides were well spoken and helpful. The cruise ship was kept tidy with the assistance of excellent cabin stewards that cleaned our rooms after every excursion and worked relentlessly. The ship dining room and most facilities were well maintained. Our upgraded cabin was not as well kept as I would have liked to see, given the extreme expense of having a suite. I realize the cruise line must utilize all the cabins to make money, but areas where tiles are chipped and toilet seats appear melted are not what I expect when traveling at such a "huge" expense. My sons" "standard" cabin appeared to be more up dated and refurbished. The beds are also not of the caliber I would expect at this price point. Again, I am grateful that the stewards and various other deckhands worked seamlessly to provide updated and clean conditions in the common areas of the ship. The service was stellar and the Naturalists seemed very excited about the tours they were leading and provided excellent information regarding conservation practices in the Galapagos.The Cruise Director worked to keep the cruisers engaged. The pre- cruise package/tour and cruise around the islands and excursions were all excellent, just a bit disappointed with the overall quality of our cabin accommodations for the price point. I commend the staff and the Zodiac operators for making safety a priority and that comes down from the Captain as well as Celebrity. Read Less
50 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not ... Read More
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not eligible for Celebrity provided transfer to the Marriott and had arranged a car transfer through the hotel. Clearing passport control and customs was a snap. We met another 2 couples from our cruise while at baggage claim, one of whom was also staying at the Marriott that night. They were going to take a taxi so we suggested they share our car. As soon as we exited customs our driver was waiting for us with a sign and after he checked with his boss agreed to take all of us. It was the first of many examples of what a class operation the JW Marriott Quito is. Quito Hotel and City Tour- As mentioned the Marriott is a magnificent hotel. They were quick to combine our independent and Celebrity reservations so we could remain in the same room. We do not have elite status with Marriott but they still gave us free Wifi. Regrettably we could not take advantage of the beautiful outdoor pool area because our free day was marred by a very heavy and continuous rain storm. Because of the rain we decided to eat in the hotel, the food was good and amazingly reasonable for a city hotel. The following day we met our group for the Quito city tour. Celebrity has been doing this for awhile and has it down to a science. Having followed the Cruise Critic three part discussion thread for many years I could see how they have responded to feedback and made incremental improvements.They divided us up among 4 busses so that we had about 10 per tour guide, far preferably to traipsing around in a crowd of 40 trying to hear the guide. The local guides are knowledgeable, engaging and clearly focused on making the tour meaningful and entertaining. Our stops included the beautiful Basilica of the National Vow, the Presidential (Carondelet) Palace to see the guards, the Grande Plaza, the Church of the Society of Jesus decorated completely in gold and the Convent of San Francisco. Despite seeing so many sights in half a day the tour was well paced and it never felt like we were being rushed to get to the next stop. Lunch was an extensive buffet at the Opera House restaurant (but no singer performed for us). Afterwards you had the choice of returning to the Marriott or going to the Museo Intinan, the equator museum. It is a private museum and varies in presentation from serious to whimsical. There were some interesting talks on native culture and history offset by displays like a shrunken head. The real draw is getting your picture taken straddling the Equator. It is definitely more authentic than the competing museum nearby which is by all accounts a real tourist trap. The day was capped off by another excellent meal at the Marriott. Transfer to Baltra- In the morning we were transferred back to Quito airport (around 45-60 minute drive depending on traffic). The bags were delivered to an area adjacent to the check in line and then each person took their bags up to the check in desk. After clearing security Celebrity provided access to the lounge to wait for the plane. The two hour flight was very pleasant on a Celebrity charter plane. The meal even in coach included real silverware and was very good for airline food. I noticed a lot of folks eyeing the blue footed boobie linen napkin, and I bet a few disappear on every flight. Once in Baltra clearing customs inspection (where they looked for contraband food items) went quickly and Celebrity provided a nice lounge for us while we waited for the short bus ride to the pier. Transfer to Ship- At the pier we got an inkling of what the next 7 days would be like. There were sea lions hanging around oblivious to the passengers disembarking and embarking, along with pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Celebrity loaded us into the zodiacs 16 passengers per zodiac along with our carry on bags for a short ride to the ship. The first day used to include an excursion but now the only "excursion" that day was a sail by Daphne Island. That gave us more time to settle in, go through a quick safety drill, get fitted for snorkel gear and later get our first excursion briefing. Xpedition Cabin- We were on deck 4, a Premium stateroom. We found it to be sufficiently spacious and there was more than enough storage. There were two closets so my wife and I each had our own. Our cabin came equipped with a three outlet adapter in one socket and the European style outlet already had a US adapter in it. There was a third outlet that is European style and I had brought my own adapter. Initially our beds were made up as a double but we quickly decided the person against the wall would be hemmed in so we had our cabin attendant remake it into two twins with the night stand in between. The cabin included bathrobes and slippers, a small set of binoculars, beach towels replenished as needed and a hair dryer. The TV showed a few different movies each day, no live TV. We never turned it on. Initially when we first arrived the room felt stuffy but after a short while it got comfortable and despite the heat outside we were always comfortable. Xpedition Food- The breakfast buffet was always ample with prepared eggs, breakfast meats, breads and pastries, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, fruits and more. The made to order station featured either omelettes of your choice or sometimes even crepes. The lunch buffet was also plentiful with a large variety of options. You could also choose to eat burgers and such out on the Beagle Grill. Dinner included at least 3-4 appetizer choices, main courses and desserts that varied daily along with some standard choices that were always available. As an option you could reserve a dinner under the stars out back. One day lunch was only available outside with a BBQ feast that even included all the lobster and shrimp you wanted! A red and a white wine were always offered at lunch and dinner, and the servers would also get anything you preferred from the bar. The bar seemed to be always open and the choices were endless. They offered a drink of the day as well. The bar area was also where the self service water refill station was located. Internet Access-The reputation for being agonizingly slow and unreliable is well deserved. Assume you will never get an e-mail in or out and anything you manage will just be a bonus. Best of all, with the excitement from twice daily encounters with the wonders of the Galapagos, who cares? Entertainment- Prior to the daily excursion briefings there was a musician to listen to with a pre-dinner cocktail. After the briefing and dinner most folks were ready for bed but there were a few special nights. One offering was a crew talent show and another was a Crossing the Equator party. There were also a few afternoon lectures. Laundry service- We mostly lived in a pair of swim shorts and a rash shirt in the morning and then changed into a second set in the afternoon, while the morning set we had washed in our room was drying out for the next day. We did have a few nicer items for dinner. Since we were going on to Peru for a week towards the end of the cruise we sent a bunch of items to the laundry and they came back either that night or the next morning washed and folded or on hangars. I think our total bill was around $30. Ship store- The Xpedition offered hats, shirts (both tees and Safari type), shorts and zip off pants along with a very limited supply of sundries. We found the selection of sizes in the clothing was hit and miss so don't count on getting an essential item onboard as they obviously don't restock every voyage. Recreation/exercise equipment- The hot tub on the upper deck was not overly hot but was relaxing. One day I was chased away by a bunch of wasps. After a full day of hiking and snorkeling I never felt the need to try out the exercise room. Xpedition Staff- The heart of the crew is the Cruise Director. She gave the daily excursion briefings, coordinated with the naturalists to cover everyone's requests as to which excursion they chose, made sure folks got on and off the zodiac to start and end their excursions, and generally served as the ombudsman for the guests. The naturalists are the leaders of all the excursions, whether it be hikes, snorkeling or zodiac rides. They impart all the knowledge about the wildlife and geology of the islands as well as insure the safety and enjoyment of the guests. We were very impressed with each one. Our only complaint was one naturalist appeared to have only one speed- fast- and we had to work a little harder to keep up. Everyone had the same comment. The rest of the crew, from the zodiac drivers to the bartenders, restaurant staff, housekeeping, and front desk were all superb and always responded quickly no matter what the request. Shore excursions- I won't describe each shore excursion but will try to capture the various different experiences. There were two excursions each day. Generally the first one started at 8-8:30 and the afternoon one around 3-3:30. Most excursions involved a hike and we could choose a long or short version. The hikes were the same duration, with long or short describing the distance covered. Thus the long walks were by definition at a somewhat faster pace, but still included plenty of stops. At the briefing the night prior the Cruise Director explained what to expect and what we might see in the way of wildlife on each excursion. We did the long walks in all but one case and they all exceeded our expectations. The wildlife truly are unafraid of humans and you often have to walk around sea lions, tortoises, Iguanas and even albatross as they do not move. You don't have to be a fitness fanatic to do any of the walks, however two of them involved long stretches over very uneven and sometimes slippery lava rocks that required care and reasonably good balance, and it did get hot. Two of the excursions ended with swimming or snorkeling at the landing site. For those times we brought our snorkel equipment with us and left it on the beach. If you wanted or needed a wet suit you put it on when you got back from the hike. Since there are no changing facilities or restrooms on the Galapagos you need to wear your bathing suits under your clothes. We elected to wear river shorts which are suitable for hiking and swimming and dried very quickly in the room. There were three deep water snorkeling opportunities. Several were offered as options after the scheduled hikes and one was as an alternative to the other excursions. In those cases you wore your wet suit onto the zodiac and entered the water from the zodiac. All three were recommended for experienced snorkelers and two were also suggested for strong swimmers only. Since we did not do any of these I cannot comment on whether that was really a requirement or just the naturalists being conservative. I do know from reports that one time the snorkeling was not great but twice those who went came back ecstatic about the experience. There were two other types of excursions. Sometimes you could elect a zodiac ride only if you did not want to hike and one time the only excursion offered was an extended zodiac ride. The final day's excursion was on Santa Cruz where we visited the Darwin Center to see the giant tortoise breeding program. You had the option of returning to the ship and returning later to see the giant tortoises in the wild or making a full day of it where you stayed on the island to participate in a reforestation project, enjoy lunch and a folkloric dance show, followed by seeing the giant tortoises. One final comment on excursions, take full advantage of the opportunities. A partial list of what we saw includes sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, Galapagos tortoises, baby fur seals, pelicans marine iguanas, land Iguanas, flamingos doing their mating dance, pelicans, blue herons, white egrets, waved albatross doing their mating dance, blue footed boobies, Nazca Boobies (including hatchlings), Frigates, flightless cormorants, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, hawks, finches, sandpipers, stilts, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, rays, and sharks. I will forever treasure having two penguins circling me as I floated with them. It is truly an amazing adventure! Footwear is always a topic engendering much debate. There are both wet and dry landings. Dry landings mean they either can beach the zodiac so you step onto the sand or their is a place where they can get close to rocks or a small pier. Wet landings mean you are stepping off into ankle deep water. In most cases for wet or dry landings you sit on the edge of the zodiac and swing your legs over onto the sand or into the water. In a few cases there is a pier that lets you walk off the front of the zodiac. Our choice of footwear depended on both whether the landing was wet or dry and the type of hike that followed. If it was a wet landing and the hike was on a flat surface we wore water shoes. If it was a wet landing with a hike on lava or rough surfaces we took off our shoes, got off barefoot, then toweled off and changed into sneakers. If it was a dry landing we generally wore sneakers. That all worked out well for us. We did see a lot of Keens or other sandals. My opinion is that is fine expect over the lava rocks where you can scrape your toes too easily. Transfer to Lima- everyone returns to Lima together. The trip back followed the same pattern as arrival in reverse: Zodiac ride to the pier, bus ride to the airport for check-in, a nice lounge with refreshments while awaiting our plane and a very comfortable flight to Quito with a meal on the Celebrity charter aircraft. Once in Quito the group was divided up into those returning to the Marriott for one or two days and the 24 of us flying on to Lima. This was the least pleasant part of the journey and one where I think Celebrity has an opportunity for improvement. There was a long layover in Quito and we did not arrive in Lima until late in the evening. They then bussed us to the Westin, about 45-60 minutes away. The Westin is a wonderful hotel, but it is not worth it as all you do is go to bed and then get up early for the long ride back to the airport for the onward journey. If there is a hotel near the airport, it would make much more sense to stay there. I know Celebrity wants to give you a 5 star experience all the way, but everyone agreed a clean bed was all we needed for that overnight stay. Transfer to Cusco- The group was up early for the return trip to the airport. As stated, we could have saved a lot of time by staying closer in. Check in was slow but steady, again they delivered the bags to the end of the line and then we took it from there to the counter. This time they did have our boarding passes pre-printed. The flight to Cusco was uneventful and we were met by the Celebrity Peru ground crew to start our land tour. Tours in Sacred Valley- The two days touring the Sacred Valley included an interesting mix of modern and ancient culture. Stops included the Museo Yucay Vivo which showcased traditional Peruvian crafts including demonstrations, the Pablo Seminario Workshop and Studio (a noted Peruvian artist), and Ollantayyambo, an impressive Incan palace and fortress. Lunch the first day was at a Hacienda and the second day at a ranch that included a traditional horsemanship demonstration. The centerpiece of the land tour is Machu Picchu. The trip there was on a train where we sat on beach seats facing another couple with a table in between. The ride started very early in the morning to allow maximum time at the site and includes a so-so lunch. Once at Machu Picchu around mid-morning the tour started. Our guides were so knowledgeable we could not have hoped for more and the site was every bit as exciting, breathtaking and interesting as we had hoped. The morning tour included the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Tomb and residences, the Temple of the Condor, the room of the water mirrors and the terraces. After about 2 hours we took a break for lunch. The day we were there the skies opened up in a torrential downpour just as we got to the Lodge so we decided to wait it out. About half the group decided to remain at the lodge and the rest of us headed back out once the rain let up. The afternoon tour took us to the top of the basic Machu Picchu site including the guardhouse and the sun dial (Intiwatana), as well as the Temple of the Three Windows, the Sacred Plaza and the main plaza. After a welcome rest and an extensive "tea" we headed back to the train station. The trip to Cusco was on the Hiram Bingham train, far more luxurious than the morning train. The seats were roomy and more comfortable and the multi-course dinner (including wine) was reportedly quite good. However, after a very long day of travel and climbing for hours, all the wife and I wanted to do was sleep. Food in Peru- If there is one complaint about the food on the Peru land tour it is that there is too much. The hotels included an ample buffet breakfast, lunch was either an extensive buffet or a multi-course meal and dinner was always a multi-course meal. The food was uniformly good other than one suspected issue. At the ranch where we had lunch the second day in the Sacred Valley many of us that had the beef hearts ended up with intestinal distress later that day. It may be unrelated but nobody who avoided the beef hearts had any problems. A real treat the last night in Cusco was a concert with dinner of operatic arias and duets. Hotels in Peru- These are truly 5 star hotels. The Tambo del Inka in the Sacred Valley has a massive lobby and the highlight was the zeroscape indoor/outdoor pool and spa. The Belmont Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 16th Century former monastery converted to a luxury hotel. A bonus is the Chapel with its elaborate decorations. The Westin in Lima is a modern hotel with every possible amenity. All of them had ample rooms and served as a perfect place to relax after a day of touring. Cusco tour- There were four main components to the Cusco tour. Embedded in the Spanish influenced Convent of Santo Domingo are the remains of an Incan religious site, Coricancha. The more modern San Blas Plaza is representative of colonial Cusco and adjoining it is an interesting church. Sacsayhuaman is a 13th Century Incan stronghold that represents the head of the lion or cougar where Cusco is the body and outlined by the two rivers around Cusco. It is striking for the immense boulders that make up its walls. Finally, the tour ends in the Cusco main square, site of the Jesuit Church and Cusco Cathedral. Tour in Lima- The normal tour had to be altered because it was Holy Week. I am not sure what the normal itinerary would have been. After our flight from Cusco to Lima we drove to the Miraflores area and arrived at Museo Larco. We were treated to another sumptuous meal and then given a tour of the museum with its extensive collection of artifacts from the Vicus period dating back to 1500 BC to Incan relics. We then drove around the Miraflores area before arriving at the Westin. Return to Lima airport- As a final insight into how much Celebrity insures that the adventure is first class, we were amazed at the arrangements for our included transfer to the airport. Since our flight was at 6:30 am we had to leave for the airport around 3:45 am. We expected Celebrity would pay for a taxi or shuttle to drop us off since we were the only ones with that early of a flight. Imagine our surprise when we had not only a private car but a Celebrity representative who walked us through the entire check-in process until we reached security. It was a fitting end to our trip of a lifetime. Final Word- The Galapagos cruise is often referred to as the trip of a lifetime. While we have enjoyed other memorable vacations, such as 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, clearly this is ranks among the most spectacular trips we have experienced. The remote landscape and the abundance of unique wildlife up close and personal, combined with luxury service, makes this a not to be missed cruise. We are very glad we included the Machu Picchu add-on. It should be on everyone's bucket list and Celebrity included a wide variety of stops throughout the Sacred Valley that greatly enhanced the Peru land tour. From start to finish, Celebrity does it right. Photos available at https://www.flickr.com/gp/150374777@N03/779083 Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport ... Read More
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport to return home. Everything was included which made it expensive, but also so much easier. We would say that this was the most exhilarating and most exhausting vacation we've ever taken, so to have everything taken care of was perfect for us. To start we were met at the airport and put on buses to the Marriott in Quito. The following day we were given a tour of the city with a trip to the equator. Since this is a difficult city to navigate and one that shouldn't be traveled alone, this gave us an overview of the city while feeling safe. All buses have guards since crime can be a huge issue there. We arrived back at the airport for the 2 hour flight to Baltra on Galapagos. Avianca airlines provided great service and made me wish we had taken it to Quito rather than American Airlines, which was awful. At the airport we were fairly quickly brought to the dock (5 minute ride) where we donned life vests and boarded our first zodiac boat for the trip to the ship, which never docks, so zodiacs are the only way to board. The ship is small, with only one large lounge which was crowded when all 100 passengers were in residence, but the service and staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. People quickly get to know each other and the atmosphere is always happy. This ships makes people get to know each other. The average age was probably in the 60's, with one 10 year old and plenty of 70 & 80 year olds who were remarkably game. Internet is free but it only occasionally works in the lounge, so don't expect much. It took me almost 2 days to send something. The naturalist and staff are exceptionally helpful. We quickly came to realize that the staff errs on the side of caution when advising what trips to take. For deep water snorkeling they kept stressing that you needed to be a strong swimmer, which I am not. Wet suits make you more buoyant and your zodiac stays close by and carefully watches you so if you have any problems they are right there. We found we didn't see much while snorkeling from the shore but an incredible amount in deep water. Our only wish was that there might have been at least one swimming or snorkeling option a day since in the heat we all longed to go in the water every day. In reading other reviews we picked up helpful pointers in what, and what not, to bring. Even with that there were things we should have brought. The tiny store did a brisk business in tropical shorts, zip-off pants, hats, and a few other necessities that people forgot. Each day you are given a choice of 2 options for both morning and afternoon activities. At first I was disappointed to see that the options were only a long walk or short walk. Sometimes you could just choose a zodiac ride instead of a walk which many did. We quickly came to understand why. After about 2 hours in the morning you need a break. The afternoon activities didn't start again until 3 or 4 getting us out of the sun at the worst part of the day. We chose the short walks which were usually anywhere from a half mile to a mile but factoring in the heat and lack of shade makes a huge difference. We all found ourselves showering and changing clothing at least twice a day, sometimes 3 times. One of our friends said that when walking on black lava rocks while wearing a FitBit his showed that the temp was 115 degrees F. They provide you with a water bottle and you do need to drink often. Don't bother to bring nice clothing since shorts and tee shirts are fine in the dining room. Don't bother with makeup since after the first day no one wears that either. Some men wore a button down shirt at dinner, often with shorts. Invest in a pair of water shoes with a sole. We each got a pair for $20 from Amazon and they were perfect since a lot of landings are in water. Sneakers with a good sole are fine for walking over lava rocks and I found a walking stick helpful (which they provide). No one really had hiking boots. They lend you binoculars, and we brought our own, but frankly, no one used them. Definitely bring a camera. In fact we only had a cell phone (get an inexpensive waterproof case for those wet landings) and a point and shoot (I used a glamorous zip lock bag for protection and it worked beautifully). Other had very expensive cameras with large lenses. Some people found that between sand and splashing water some of their cameras were quickly out of commission so bring back-up. The ship does not sell cameras. We had 2 hats each, which was handy since we would often sweat through one in the morning so we had the other for the afternoon. 2 bathing suits helped also. We did have bug spray but it didn't do much since the horse fly's weren't deterred. We used a 50 SPF sunblock and came home without any burns. Sun glasses really help and most everyone used them. As for clothing, most wore either shorts or light pants and tee shirts or light long sleeved shirts. A bandanna to wet and wear around your neck is a good idea. Unless you plan to pay to have your laundry done bring plenty of clothes clips to hang your constantly drying laundry. When you change a few times a day you are continually washing and drying. The cabin staff is wonderful, constantly straightening the cabins and neatening the mess. The naturalist are wonderful, not only helpful in getting you in and out of the zodiacs, but their knowledge and pride in their islands and their patience is unmatched. The zodiac drivers are also incredible, they will move the zodiac so that both sides of the ship gets equal opportunity to see from their side of the boat. In the evening the schedule is mainly enjoying the cocktail of the day along with the next day's briefing, then dinner around 7:30, then we all pretty much fell into bed exhausted. There is a wonderful guitar player but no other entertainment, and it isn't needed. The Galapagos are the entertainment. Request to eat a night up on deck. It's a fixed grill menu but you can also order from the dining room menu. We also (do it quickly) signed up for a bridge tour and it was given enthusiastically by the first officer. The whole staff was the finest we have ever encountered on a ship, with no exceptions. Yes, this is an expensive trip but worth every penny. Now we're home catching up on sleep! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We wanted a boat larger than the 14-16 passenger ones you see most often in the Galapagos. The ability level of vast majority of passengers was limited. Very few passengers under the age of 60. We are very experienced snorkelers and ... Read More
We wanted a boat larger than the 14-16 passenger ones you see most often in the Galapagos. The ability level of vast majority of passengers was limited. Very few passengers under the age of 60. We are very experienced snorkelers and were looking forward to deep water snorkeling offered to advanced snorkelers. Unfortunately, there were always a few passengers electing to go on these excursions and interrupted our experience since they could barely swim much less snorkel. We went in February, so water was warm enough to swim with just a rash guard, no wet suit needed. We took our own mask and snorkel and used their fins. You need to know the internet service is practically non-existent, could barely retrieve emails, but no attachments. The ship has plenty of room to roam and get away from annoying passengers. We had cabin #311, a smaller one, and it had plenty of room, plus you are seldom in the cabin. Food was good, disappointed no lobster was available. All staff onboard provided exceptional service. Naturalists were all outstanding, especially Marta. Shore excursions included and had two levels of ability. Definitely not a cruise for teenagers or children. It's a bucket list experience and expensive, so we'd not be going again, but would recommend others take this trip. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
The Galapogos islands are the most amazing place for birds, turtles tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, and volcanic terrain imaginable. If you are thinking about going, go! Photography: I am an avid photographer. ... Read More
The Galapogos islands are the most amazing place for birds, turtles tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, and volcanic terrain imaginable. If you are thinking about going, go! Photography: I am an avid photographer. Cameras I brought: Olympus OM-D EM-1; Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II; Olympus Pen with and underwater housing. Lenses I brought: Olympus 40-150mm Pro; Olympus 300mm Pro; Olympus 12-40mm Pro and Olympus 1.4x TC. Since we come very close to the wildlife (6 feet in most cases) I never used the 300mm (600mm FF equivalent) - such an extreme telephoto lens is not useful in the Galapagos. I also rarely used the 1.4x TC. I used a Cotton Carrier Sling with side holster to carry the EM1 Mark II with the 40-150mm (80-300mm FF equivalent) lens and a LowePro Slingshot 302 Bag to carry the EM1 with the 12-40mm (24-80mm FF equivalent) lens and extra batteries, SD cards and water. This worked for me in all situations. I took 2,614 photos (I don’t bracket). For less avid photographers point and shoot cameras and cell phones will do just fine. They do prohibit selfie sticks. Excursions: Each day consists of a morning and an afternoon excursion. Each morning and afternoon excursion further consists of a short and a long walk. The length and difficulty of each walk are described in the Celebrity TODAY brochure left in the stateroom the previous evening and is discussed in the daily briefing (7:15 PM) at which time everyone signs up for the walk of their choice. In addition to the walks, some days there are snorkeling outings or Zodiac outings. All snorkeling equipment is supplied on the first day of the cruise. I generally took the long walks which gave me plenty of photographic opportunities. The only long walk I did not take was the power walk. This had few stops for photography. On the alternate short walk we saw sixteen land tortoises. There were five snorkeling opportunities: two from a beach and three deep water from the Zodiacs. The deep water provide clear water and we swam with many species of reef fish, turtles, sharks, rays, sea lions .... The excursion groups have no more than 12 people and are accompanied by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic naturalist. There are two types of Zodic landings: dry and wet. For dry landings I wore my Merrill hiking shoes. For wet landings I wore Crocs sandals (water sandals) if the walking trail would be along a beach or on a sandy trail. For trails that are rocky or slippery I would land barefoot and put on my Merrill hiking shoes. My wife uses hiking poles and she has some mobility problems. This did not prevent her from going on the shorter, easier hikes or participating in the deep water snorkeling. There was always someone to help her negotiate any difficult parts of the trail. This was also true in Quito. Food: I do not eat meat or any shellfish but I do eat fish, cheese and eggs. I had plenty to eat. We also had the best fish meals as everyday after we left the boat fishermen would bring their catch of the day. This fresh fish was available as grilled (every day) and as a chef’s creation. I usually chose grilled. I would recommend eating dinner outside, at least once, by the Beagle Café. You order the salad and dessert and platters of grilled meats, fish, sausage and shrimp are brought around for you to take what and how much you want. Reservations need to be made through Guest Services. In general I found the food to be much better than the cruise ship variety. Quito: My wife and I went to Quito two days earlier than the Celebrity Quito start of the cruise. Even though Celebrity gives a tour of the city I knew that I would need a more leisurely pace to photograph the city. We took the Teleferico (cable car) to the 13,000 foot mountain to gain great views of the city and the surrounding mountains. We spent several hours strolling through the Old Town and Independence Square and over an hour on the Panecillo where the Virgin of Quito Statue is located. Again, this gives great views of the city. We had an excellent lunch at El Mosaico a restaurant with a veranda that once again provides fantastic city views. Once the Quito portion of the cruise begins all meals are taken care of. Breakfast is at the Marriott buffet and it is excellent. They have a smoothie bar with fruits that we never see in the US. The Marriott was a very comfortable hotel with large rooms and a very helpful staff that arranged for taxis whenever we needed one. Celebrity takes the luggage from the hotel to the ship stateroom. Only carry ons need to be taken to the airport. The same goes for the trip from Baltra to the hotel. Just leave suitcases outside stateroom the night before disembarkation and they will put them in the hotel room. The Celebrity tour of Quito covers some of the highlights - Panecillo, Independence square with a walk through the Gold Church and the San Francisco Museum. There is also a hokey tour of the Mitad del Mundo (the equator). The guide there does a fake, nonscientific demo of water swirling one way down a drain on one side of the equator and swirling the other way on the other side (it goes straight down on the equator). This has been debunked by experiment. You can go back to the hotel after lunch and skip this. We decided to go so that if we were ever in Quito again, we wouldn’t be tempted to waste our time there. The flight from Quito to Baltra is via a charter flight that takes about two hours. The food on this short flight is provided by Celebrity and is much better than airline food. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I wanted to be on a large boat since I had never taken a cruise before and was concerned about getting seasick. With patches behind my ear, all the sea swells didn't bother me one bit. The staff on the ship was superb with the major ... Read More
I wanted to be on a large boat since I had never taken a cruise before and was concerned about getting seasick. With patches behind my ear, all the sea swells didn't bother me one bit. The staff on the ship was superb with the major domo, Monica, leading the band for all the activities. The daily activities were varied and the leaders knew precisely where the more interesting fauna and flora was for us to see/watch. The food was varied and good quality with different cuisines offered daily so that there wasn't too much of a similarity in what was offered. The waitstaff was professional and very accommodating as was the twice a day room servicing.. What struck me was the availability of hot water for showering every afternoon when there was highest demand. I don't know what a usual cabin size is but the one we had was adequate in terms of floor and storage space. Everything had its place. From the moment we got off the plane to the time we were escorted to security for our flight out, we were taken care of in every possible way. Read Less
60 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
If you're looking at the Galapagos then you understand you are paying for access to one of the most remote and extraordinary places in the world. The Xpedition is NOT a high-end luxury cruise ship - it is an EXPEDITION class ship, so ... Read More
If you're looking at the Galapagos then you understand you are paying for access to one of the most remote and extraordinary places in the world. The Xpedition is NOT a high-end luxury cruise ship - it is an EXPEDITION class ship, so understand the difference and manage your expectations. It is however all-inclusive, extremely comfortable and has a crew that is phenomenal. Having just returned from this trip I can honestly say I'm extremely glad I did tons of research before booking--my family believe we chose the best trip for us. Be sure you understand the level of physical activity required---its really HOT, and humid, and you need good balance and mobility to deal with many stairs, getting on/off moving zodiacs, and hikes on various types of terrain including large, uneven lava rocks and sand. We were especially glad we chose one of the largest ships cruising the Galapagos--my husband and I got motion sickness as did many other passengers - I didn't believe it would be a problem on such a large ship, supposedly in the calmest season--WRONG. Consider getting a patch before you leave and head off any problems. Dr. Mary, the onboard physician, was great in visiting my room and providing fast-acting medication and advice: avoid alcohol, and drink lots of juice, water and soft drinks. PACK LIGHT! Our family of four each took only rollaboards and were able to keep our luggage with us instead of turning it in the night before departure in Quito and upon return on Sunday. The Laundry charges on the Xpedition are incredibly reasonable---$1 for a pair of socks and $2-3 for a shirt ,pants or shorts. Back the next day or same day with a surcharge. Total charge for all four of us for the week, less than $100--totally worth it! I'd recommend three pairs of lightweight pants with zip-off legs, t-shirts and lightweight long-sleeve shirts with UV protection. STAY AWAY FROM RED/PINK AND ORANGE clothing for excursions---some wasps are attracted to these colors! Some people changed to nicer clothes for dinner (khaki pants/polo shirts for men and capris or sundresses for women) We did not and did not feel out of place. Teva or Keen closed-toe water sandals are perfect, but if you're more comfortable with traditional hiking boots for difficult/uneven terrain, then wear water sandals for wet landings and change once onshore. The Xpedition supplies large brown towels in your cabin for snorkeling and beach activities. Do consider packing one-way snorkels if you plan on enjoying the opportunity - choppy water can quickly make you sick if you swallow too much saltwater. Recommend 2 bathing suits as putting on a wet one is difficult - Celebrity provides regular snorkels, fins, masks, wetsuits and float vests if you desire. Yes the ocean feels cold but once you're in the water the wetsuits provide excellent buoyancy and warmth--I'm very cold-blooded and I was fine. Deep water snorkeling requires good swimming skills and the crew frowns on float vests in these instances. Know your limits! The sun on the equator is unbelievably intense---take a wide-brim hat with a chin-strap you can tighten (its windy!), 2 pairs of polarized sunglasses (in case you lose or break one), water-resistant high SPF sunblock and apply it regularly, ditto sunblock for your lips. SPF 60 sunblock at the Quito Marriott was $26, and SPF 80 sunblock was $20 at the Quito airport--pick some up before your flight to Baltra. The Xpedition has a VERY limited shop onboard, mostly hats, sunblock and clothing---pack carefully since you might not visit a town until the end of your tour. Biodegradable shampoo/conditioner/body wash and bars of soap are supplied in all cabins of the Xpedition, as are cotton balls/cotton swabs, sewing kit and bath/hand towels and wash cloths. One nice terry robe and two pairs of terry slippers in our clothes closet Also necessities: Bug spray with DEET, lightweight rain poncho, and I'd recommend a small, lightweight headlamp for watching the numerous animals which are active at night around the boat (sharks, sea lions, turtles, fish, birds, etc) A Monocular (as opposed to binoculars---the ones in each room aren't that great and its much easier to focus one eye on a moving ship or zodiac than two) underwater video/still shot camera for snorkeling, small backpack for taking stuff on daily walks/excursions. At least one pair of socks to wear with boots provided for tree-planting and tortoise ranch. Can't say enough about the Xpedition's crew: their level of customer service is simply outstanding--its essentially 'whatever you want, whenever you want' There were at least 8 choices (each) of appetizer/starters, mains/entrees and desserts each night for dinner---most were very good with a few misses. Red and white wine offered with dinner but the wait staff would bring you a cocktail , champagne, soft drink/iced tea or whatever you desired. Its important to keep in mind that you are 800 MILES from the coast where much of the ship's supplies are coming from--remember this if you feel something isn't quite 5 star quality. Make a reservation to tour the bridge (interesting) and to dine under the stars at least one night for dinner, and don't miss the daily briefing before dinner where you will learn about the next days' activities and excursions and sign up for your choice. TV in the rooms offered 4 movie channels (not on-demand) and several Galapagos documentaries on a loop - the latter were excellent and added to our experience. Board games were also available in the lounge - WiFi is dreadfully slow and you should just expect to be without it for the duration while at sea/out of port. My husband got me a one-hour massage for my birthday which was fantastic - and a bargain at $90 (plus discretionary tip) Work-out room is very small, but hot tub on top deck is good size and popular! We liked our Junior Suite Cabin - which offered a full-size (NOT Queen) bed and twin-size sofa bed which was also very comfortable - nice linens and the air con sufficiently cooled the room. We LOVED our private balcony which allowed us to sit outside in the morning with coffee or at night under the endless stars on display. Would've been nice to have a coffee maker in the room but it was available from 6 am on each morning on the aft deck, just a few steps away from our room. Nice small mini-fridge which was stocked with various soft drinks and water. A small plate of sliced fresh fruits showed up in our room after the morning excursions, and a few small amuse-bouche-size appetizers appeared in the afternoon. A bottle of champagne the day of arrival and another bottle of cabernet sauvignon later in the week. Wonderful Ecuadorian chocolates on our pillows every night with turn-down service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
I have always thought one day I would take off from my job long enough to go see the blue footed booby... Well years later almost 30 + cruises in on celebrity and WHALAH! I did it. Last Dec 2016 was the best vacation of my existence on ... Read More
I have always thought one day I would take off from my job long enough to go see the blue footed booby... Well years later almost 30 + cruises in on celebrity and WHALAH! I did it. Last Dec 2016 was the best vacation of my existence on thios planet. Each and evey component was superb. There was one complaint. Christmas eve the tree fell down and rolled down the hall.. balls and all. Noone was stationed anywhere so I felt like "oh no! " although I got over my issues and went back to sleep knowing it would be ok and it was. I met the most sophisticated of travelers, the most knowledgeable staff and the team on the expedition ensure we were safe at all time. I did excursions I would NEVER have participated in and the staff made me feel and know whole heatedly i would be safe. The mammals, birds, etc were like nothing you can observe in a magazine or online ( SONY) lol The National geographic was along side us most of the time and we obtained the same experience and it was amazing. The weather was terrific, this is NOT for those who want gambling spas, etc This IS for those who want to shut off the world the workplace, the phone and the computer and FULLY rejuvenate your spirit. A must try ! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I always wanted to see the Galapagos and all its wonderful and unique wildlife. Unfortunately, in part by necessity, we acted until retirement to make the trip. The only complaint I had was that I did not do it 20 years earlier because ... Read More
I always wanted to see the Galapagos and all its wonderful and unique wildlife. Unfortunately, in part by necessity, we acted until retirement to make the trip. The only complaint I had was that I did not do it 20 years earlier because to get the full experience, physical mobility and stamina ware helpful.. That said, this cruise was VERY accommodating to its passengers physical abilities offering several levels of excursions each day to each island. The guides be uber knowledgable and helpful as was the entire staff on board. This was a mature traveling group (surprisingly, no families) all of whom we met were pleasant to be with. The food served on board was very good considering the small size of the ship. We did get to see all the wildlife that makes the Galápagos Islands such a special and unique place to visit. We also added extra days to allow a visit to Quito and see the beauty of this city, including a visit to the equator line. All in all, if you have any interest in serving these islands, I would highly recommend the Celebrity Xpedition. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose Celebrity Xpedition because of their reputation and experience in the Galapagos. Everything was first-rate (staff, organization, activities, briefings, cabins, etc.) as described by other reviewers of this cruise. Quito city ... Read More
We chose Celebrity Xpedition because of their reputation and experience in the Galapagos. Everything was first-rate (staff, organization, activities, briefings, cabins, etc.) as described by other reviewers of this cruise. Quito city tours before and after the cruise were very worthwhile. When we booked with Celebrity 11 months prior to cruising, we were assured that following a vegan diet would not be a problem on board ship. There were 7 vegans total on this sailing, and it DID seem to be a problem. We didn't starve, but it seemed the chef/kitchen staff had no experience or knowledge with vegan cooking. Breakfasts and lunches, served buffet style provided varied and plentiful choices. Whereas dinners, ordered from choices on a menu, resulted on one occasion, our eating a plate of plain, steamed vegetables. We all took it in stride, were happy we didn't gain weight on the cruise, but hope that all cruise lines will become better in accommodating out-of-the-norm diets that are gaining in popularity. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We had a prior experience with Celebrity (eastern Mediterranean) with which we were very pleased. There were some negatives with this cruise (food), but the overall experience was nothing less than outstanding. To get the negatives ... Read More
We had a prior experience with Celebrity (eastern Mediterranean) with which we were very pleased. There were some negatives with this cruise (food), but the overall experience was nothing less than outstanding. To get the negatives out of the way at the beginning -- a great deal of the food was served lukewarm. The themed lunches (Mexican, Asian, Italian, etc.) were disappointing. The option of burgers and beer on the aft deck was the best option for a decent meal. The evening menu was varied, but not necessarily appealing. The noise of the dining room, coupled with engine noise, made it very difficult to hold conversations at the tables. On a more serious note, there were many people who complained of illness on board that they ascribed to the food. I, and about 8 others of whom I heard, became ill after the final dinner served at the Quito Marriott. In contrast, the bar service and the refreshments provided at the end of each excursion were at the same outstanding level as the rest of the ship's service. With the above, you would think that there would be a lot of unhappiness, but my lasting impression of each day was seeing almost a hundred guests smiling when they returned from each excursion. Regardless of the company, every conversation was filled with superlatives about the sights, the nature guides, and the ship's staff. Guests talked of taking thousands of photographs and of the difficulty of editing them down to a presentable number. Every mammal, bird, reptile, insect, plant, or flower described in the trip brochures were sought out and found by the naturalists leading the groups. The applause for the staff at the final evening's presentation was magnificent, sustained, and fully earned. One unexpected item was the aft deck presentation on astronomy by the ship's social director who had an expert knowledge of the planets, stars, and constellations visible to us. The evening briefings for the next day's excursion options were informative and honestly presented as to the opportunities and mobility requirements, as were the parameters presented for participation in the deep water snorkling outings. There was an opportunity provided to upgrade seating on the charter flight to a 2x2 arrangement in "business class" which added to the comfort of the trip and the chance to do some aerial sight-seeing. The pre- and post-cruise activities in and around Quito were interesting and efficiently handled. The exercise room was small and sparsely equipped, but there was very little time available to make us of it given the timing of daily activities. The after dinner activities in the lounge were predictable ship functions (karaoke, trivia, etc.) and did little to interrupt the primary interest of those in attendance in bar service. In summary, if you are expecting top level dining, you will be disappointed. If you don't take Imodium, you might be more than disappointed. However, these relatively minor aspects should do nothing to diminish the truly unique experiences offered by the Galapagos or the delight of being spoiled by the ship's staff, and elevated by the other passengers' contagious enjoyment. Even with the food rating, it is still an absolute given that my overall evaluation of this trip is a "5". Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
The Xpedition is a small comfortable ship that promotes guest interaction because of its small size and layout. There are several outside areas and one inside lounge where daily briefings are held. The lounge is the only place on the ship ... Read More
The Xpedition is a small comfortable ship that promotes guest interaction because of its small size and layout. There are several outside areas and one inside lounge where daily briefings are held. The lounge is the only place on the ship with internet but during our week on board we were only able to access internet a couple of days, most of the time it was down. Getting around the ship is quick and easy. We did not have any rough seas. Everyone dressed very casual so don't even think of bringing dressy clothes- think cool,comfortable and sun proof. The dining room is very nice and tables seat 4-8 so you will find yourself sitting with different people at each meal and getting to know many of your fellow travelers. The food is good but not as high quality or as varied as the large Celebrity ships. The only alternate venue is the outdoor grill that served dinner four times -the same menu, and lunch most days. Our cabin on deck 3 was comfortable and had adequate storage. The bed is tight against the wall on one side so very inconvenient to get in and out. We had it converted to two twins so we had a space of about 6 inches in between beds to allow the inside person access. The beds were comfortable if a little narrow. There is a fridge in cabin with complimentary water and soft drinks. There is also a safe. The window lets in lots of light. I do not think a balcony is worth the extra money on this cruise as you can be on deck in minutes and I didn't miss it at all. Prior to taking this trip we had heard rave reviews from so many people - many named the Galapagos as their best cruise ever! I did enjoy the trip but after a few days began to find the activities somewhat repetitive. The wildlife is interesting especially the giant tortoises and the naturalists were very knowledgeable. The scenery is beautiful in a stark kind of way. The sun is hot and I would avoid the hottest months of February and March. Each day there was an AM and PM off ship included activity with transportation by zodiac. The trips were very organized and there was never a problem getting the excursion you wanted. A lot of the snorkeling trips were categorized as advanced because of deep water and currents. There did not seem to be any scuba diving. The on shore walks included a long or short option and there was an accurate description of difficulty. Expect to spend quite a bit of time in the zodiacs getting to and from each activity. The Marriott hotel in Quito was beautiful and I am glad we arrived early to rest a day before the full day tour of Quito. The chartered flight to the ship was nice and included lunch both ways. I recommend this trip if Galapagos is on your to do list but personally I feel there are many more interesting places to visit. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
This is a two-part review. First the good part. Well, not so good for me but favorable to the Celebrity Xpedition. On the second day of the cruise, I went to the ship's doctor (Dr. Marsha) and found that I had appendicitis. ... Read More
This is a two-part review. First the good part. Well, not so good for me but favorable to the Celebrity Xpedition. On the second day of the cruise, I went to the ship's doctor (Dr. Marsha) and found that I had appendicitis. Although this wiped out the rest of the cruise for my wife and me, I have to praise the staff of the Xpedition. This ship is perhaps the only one in the Galapagos that is large enough to have a ship's doctor, so I would recommend it for that reason if nothing else. Dr. Marsha made the correct diagnosis, and Floriana, the Hotel Manager and other staff members arranged to have me quickly on a speedboat to Santa Cruz, the nearest island with a hospital. I chose to have my surgery there, in the public hospital, rather than risk the wait to get to Quito for a larger hospital. The hospital was quite basic, but Celebrity provided a staff person (wonderful Tatiana) to be with me all day and another, poor Hugo, who got the job of sleeping on the couch to be available to help me to the toilet at night. By luck, the Xpedition stopped at Santa Cruz at the end of the voyage, and I was able to get back on the ship and return home. So I give the highest praise to the staff of the Xpeditiion for the care they provided for me. The second part of my comment is perhaps small but quite annoying. My wife and I booked this trip after two previous cruises on Celebrity. We traveled with another couple and booked connecting rooms on the Xpedition. The rooms we booked were shown on their Web page and the brochure we received as connecting. Our confirmation material clearly stated that the rooms we booked were connecting. They were not. We discussed this with Floriana, the Hotel Manager, and he was quite professional in hearing our concern. He referred us to the company office for follow-up. A couple of weeks later, Ricky from Celebrity called me (on my wife's phone) and left a message. I called him back, but he was off that day. He never called me back. The other couple, however, did get a letter from Ricky saying how much Celebrity values its return customers and wishes to please them; however, there would be no compensation for their error. This seems to be very bad business practice. Instead of losing four loyal customers, they could have offered at least a gesture -- 10% off on a future cruise maybe. Any gesture would have been nice. So the Xpedition is a wonderful ship (without connecting rooms) with a wonderful staff. The company obviously doesn't coordinate between marketing and the reality of the layout of the ship. And they don't mind losing customers. Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We booked the 11 day trip with Celebrity. A day to fly in, a day to explore Quito, 7 days onboard the Xpedition, a day back to Quito, a day to explore Quito on our own until we flew out the day after. Flights in and out of Quito were ... Read More
We booked the 11 day trip with Celebrity. A day to fly in, a day to explore Quito, 7 days onboard the Xpedition, a day back to Quito, a day to explore Quito on our own until we flew out the day after. Flights in and out of Quito were with Delta then American. Nothing special to report. Celebrity was waiting for us and quickly got us on a bus to the hotel (about an hour from the airport). Day Tour of Quito: Visited the Basilica del Voto Nacional (ticket to get inside); the Church and Convent of St. Francis (San Francisco); Compania de Jesus (Jesuit Church); and Independence Square/Plaza Grande. In that square, you can see Carondelet Palace (seat of government), the Cathedral of Quito, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Monument to Heros statue in the middle of the square. After an excellent lunch at Sucre’s Theatrum restaurant, it was off to visit the Equatorial Line Monument ad Museum. We found this tour to be very informative as well. Later that evening Celebrity transported us to the La Gloria restaurant for another excellent dinner. In the morning, you go back to the airport and board a plane chartered by Celebrity to fly to Baltra. The experience on this plane was top notch. Certainly better than our flights to and from the United States. The week at sea was the inner loop itinerary. During this time, we visited Gardner Bay, Suarez Point, Cormorant Point, Champion Island, Bahia Post Office, Moreno Point, Urbina Bay, Espinoza Point, Vicente Roca Point, South Plaza, Dragon Hill, and Puerto Ayora (Darwin Research Center, local fish market, and the forest restoration project in the Highlands). The schedule is set pretty much the same each day….breakfast, morning excursion, lunch, afternoon excursion, themed party, discussion of the next day, dinner. Not much entertainment on board but the Discovery Lounge usually had something going on….and of course that’s where the bar is. I think every night though you sleep well after a hiking/snorkeling day especially the day on Floreana Island. That day consisted of a long hike, 2 open water snorkels, a short walk, and a Zodiac ride. Usually, each excursion came in a long and short version. You can do the long or the short hike and still participate in all snorkeling. Zodiac landings come in two versions. Wet and dry. Dry means a very basic cement structure or rocks. Wet meant stepping into the ocean but no more than 12 inches of water. After each excursion, you were greeted with a snack, drinks, and a wash cloth. You need to heed the warnings about this cruise and be prepared for various weather conditions and be in good physical health. If you are in good shape, this isn’t difficult even if you do the long hikes and the snorkel trips.....but the terrain can be tricky. A few people fell down and needed some first aid (a cleaning and a band aid). I used Merrell hiking shoes and Keen closed toed waterproof sandals. While each island was unique in terms of terrain and vegetation, amazingly a lot of the same animals, birds, and reptiles were surviving everywhere. One of the open water snorkels we got good video of tons of turtles and playful sea lions. I would have done video of the white tipped shark but I was so surprised to see him that I only have a couple of pictures. The day in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, I would recommend you sign up for the restoration project in the highlands of Santa Cruz. The day starts off with a visit to the Darwin Research Center with an opportunity to do some shopping in the downtown area. Don’t forget to watch the sea lions & pelicans beg for the fish guts at the local fish market. Next a bus will take you to the highlands where you don boots and given 2 trees and a spade. You’ll need that spade to work hard to break up that volcanic soil. After you plant your trees, you’ll go to the Rancho El Manzanillo for a very good buffet lunch with beer & wine. Then you will be treated to local entertainment followed by walking the property to see dozens and dozens of land tortoises. You’ll get back in plenty of time to stop at the bar, eat dinner, and then head to the final night’s slide show of the trip. On the day you get off the ship and fly back to Quito, you’ll have a chance to do some shopping at the La Mariscal Craft Market. Don’t miss it. Probably the best prices of the trip for souvenirs. That night, dinner was at the La Hacienda restaurant in the hotel. It is an excellent meal with excellent local entertainment. Choose the baby beef! Our last day in Quito was “on our own” though there are additional Celebrity excursions you can pay for. In our case, we booked a horseback ride with the Green Horse Ranch (not through Celebrity). We had a blast. We were picked up in front of the Magic Bean coffee shop (about 10 minutes from the hotel) and transported to the Pululahua volcano natural reserve. Then we went down and down into the bottom of the volcano to get to the ranch. The ride down is on a dirt and winding road. The views are spectacular. Stop for a picture or 5. Once on the ranch we were greeted by Astrid Muller, the owner. We were provided gloves, books, helmets, etc. I road Sam and the Mrs. rode Mithril. Along with 2 other people, we headed off along the trail for about 2 hours before stopping for lunch with the volcano crater in front of us and the lava dome in back of us. The views are breathtaking. Then it was back in the saddle for another 2 hours continuing on new trail and not just going back along the same trail we came on. We passed haciendas with gardens, cows, dogs, pigs, horses, chickens….but only in the valley. The horses were sure footed though we were often on narrow, rocky paths with overhanging trees and bushes. The horses looked as happy as we were with our time in the saddle. Carlos (Celebrity employee in the hotel lobby) recommended “Hasta la Vuelta, Senor” for supper. Happy hour was from 6-8 pm (2 for 1 cocktails). Corn nuts and spicy sauce came as soon as we sat down. We had the sweet plantains with cheese as a starter and then ordered the sea bass and the grilled shrimp dinners. There was no room for dessert. This place was about 2 blocks from the JW Marriott. Easy to get to! Loved it. Celebrity’s hotel of choice was the JW Marriott in the business area of Quito. It was very nice. Great wifi, wonderful breakfast, gorgeous flowers everywhere, spacious rooms, and service was always provided with “my pleasure”. The hotel’s restaurant’s (La Hacienda) dinner the night after getting off of the Xpedition was superior. Celebrity did a great job selecting this hotel. The Ship: We liked everything about the ship. Our cabin (405) was convenient to everything….a few steps to the Discovery Lounge and the ship’s office. The excursions (all done by Zodiacs) were great; the food excellent with lots of seafood and bakery; the staff very friendly & helpful; the information well explained; and the protocols for every evolution was done like clockwork (e.g. handling of snorkel trips with wet suits). Only minor complaint would be that the WIFI connection is poor at best but I suspect that it isn’t the ship’s issue since my cell phone carrier (T-Mobile with MoviStar) only worked inside the Quito airport and nowhere else. There was a small newspaper every day in the ship’s office for those who needed the news, sports, and a crossword puzzle. Surprising to me was that the Xpedition was a single screw (variable pitch), single rudder ship. It does have stabilizers but only in use above 6 knots. While she carried spare blades for the prop, they can’t be changed out without getting to an appropriate facility for repairs. Basically, the Xpedition spends 2 years at sea or at anchor. She only ties up in a port when she is scheduled for maintenance (for about a month in Panama). Ship’s Crew: Everyone was courteous and very attentive. Ana was great behind the bar lounge. Freddy was great as our waiter each night in the dining room. Virginia kept our room impeccably clean. Fernando Caicedo was impressive as I saw him a lot helping out his staff….in the lounge, in the dining room, on deck by the grill, and behind the bar. There were so many excellent employees on board (e.g. Luis, Leo, Xaiver). The guides and the Zodiac coxswains were all terrific! Celebrity employees that were ashore (hotel, tours, transportation) were also wonderful (e.g. Carlos Sarango at the Celebrity desk inside the Marriott). Everything ran like clockwork….transports, instructions, paperwork, day excursions. Everything….that people needed bottled water, Galapagos fees, luggage tags, etc. all handled behind the scenes. Weather/Time of the Season: All the weather sites predicted rain but actually the weather was terrific. Not too hot. Maybe once we got some drizzle. Because of the location among the volcanoes and the equator, I think the weather predictors just always say “rain” just to be on the safe side. Sea state was slight but the Xpedition does roll around a bit but I didn’t hear anyone say that they got seasick. We saw every type of wildlife that we hoped to….in multiple locations. The guides said everything is here (in varying quantities) all year long. Our trip in late OCT, early NOV, though was excellent for seeing many your sea lion pups because it is berthing season. Temperatures were low 80s/high 70s each day which made hiking very comfortable compared to other times of the year. I never wore a jacket though once I wore a long sleeve shirt. Another good reason for this time of the year is there were few bugs…mostly some flies in heavy concentrations of sea lions and some mosquitoes near a swampy area inhabited by flamingos. In any case, we never needed our DEET product. The open water snorkeling was chilly. Even with the “shorty” wet suits, most people wanted to get back on the Zodiacs after 30-45 minutes. Sea temps varied but were 61-63 degrees most of the time. Best tip is to head to the hot tub after you get back on board the ship! All in all, this trip was a well coordinated effort by Celebrity! Flights, hotel, transportation, cruise, and back again went off without a hitch. Want to see the Gallapagos? Celebrity is the way to go but demand is high. Most people on board booked 2 years out. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We choose this ship for it size and itinerary. Before we booked our cruiser, we read reviews on the Cruise Critics web side and we were not despondent! We strongly advise to take "CRUISE PACKAGE" which includes 2 days in Quito ... Read More
We choose this ship for it size and itinerary. Before we booked our cruiser, we read reviews on the Cruise Critics web side and we were not despondent! We strongly advise to take "CRUISE PACKAGE" which includes 2 days in Quito before cruise and 1 day after, including flight from Quito to Baltra and back. The whole crew including environmentalist (land excursions guides) were very friendly, professional and accommodating. The cruise Director Ms. Britinia Espinoza (PhD) provided us with priceless information each evenings about next day excursions. Base on this information we could make decision which one we should take cording to our physical abilities. Each evening we were provided with newsletter about next day activities on the ship as well on the land. Celebrity is using Xpedition ship to provide these cruises for more than 10 years. We are retired couple and ease of traveling and site seeing is very imported to us and this cruise met our expectations. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We were not interested in the Quito add-on portion which is normally sold along with the cruise, so against the advice of a Celebrity Onboard Sales Rep, as well as several cruise critic posters, we booked the seven night only option, and ... Read More
We were not interested in the Quito add-on portion which is normally sold along with the cruise, so against the advice of a Celebrity Onboard Sales Rep, as well as several cruise critic posters, we booked the seven night only option, and we are glad we did. We enjoyed a trip of a lifetime, and like Frank, did our way. We left LAX on the Thursday before the cruise was to begin. We flew into Guayaquil (GYE) and spent the night (or half of it) at the Sheraton a half mile from the airport. We then flew to GPS Friday morning. We booked two nights at the Galapagos Suites, a lovely B&B which I highly recommend. We arranged airport pickup and were met at the airport by the taxi driver regularly used by GS. He helped us with our luggage as we boarded the bus (free) which would take us from GPS (Baltra Airport) to the canal. There we boarded the ferry which took us from Seymour Island to Santa Cruz Island (cost $1). We then were driven in a pickup (our cab) to GS ($38). We spent two nights in Puerto Ayora exploring the town, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center, and also Tortuga Bay (home to a lovely beach and lots of marine iguanas- if you are lucky, you may see sea turtles swimming in the bay as well). As luck would have it, another couple who was sailing on the Xpedition was also staying at GS. We shared a cab (the same pickup and driver)- this time being dropped off at the canal since by this time we knew what to expect and didn't need help with our luggage ($18 total for four people). We then took the ferry back across and boarded the bus which brought us back to the airport. We got there way before anyone from Celebrity arrived, and the airport personnel directed us to the VIP Lounge where the Celebrity guests gather before leaving the airport. Finally, the rest of the passengers arrived on two different planes, including the charter. One guest fell in front of the entrance to the Lounge and had to be helped in. Two passengers arrived in wheelchairs. I didn't notice any of the passengers using wheelchairs while onboard, however, please remember before booking this cruise, this is an adventure cruise- "it is a trip- not a vacation" as a fellow passenger described it. You will be walking on lava rocks sharp enough to tear your shoes (I should know), walking on other uneven surfaces, and climbing across terrain which quite frankly I wouldn't think to walk across if a naturalist wasn't guiding me. This is definitely NOT a typical Celebrity cruise, so please, do your research on it before booking if you have mobility issues or health concerns. We left the lounge in small groups and were taken by bus to the other side of Seymour Island where we boarded Zodiacs which would take us to the Xpedition. We enjoyed a buffet lunch, a mandatory boat drill, the distribution of our snorkeling gear, and a circumnavigation of Daphne Major. Dinner was in the Darwin Restaurant and music in the Discovery Lounge (talented guitar player). Each day there was a morning excursion and an afternoon excursion. Monday on Espanola Island (one of the islands Darwin did not visit) included a beach walk and an optional beach swim or snorkel. In the afternoon, you chose either a long walk on rocks or a short walk on rocks and sand. Tuesday was spent on Floreana Island and included an easy walk and optional beach snorkeling in the morning and a visit to the Post Office Bay in the afternoon to see the old barrel. There was an optional advanced snorkeling activity to Champion Island. We did the beach snorkel and watched a sea turtle eat, so cute! Wednesday was Isabela Island with a choice between a long walk on volcanic rock or a shorter walk in the morning and either a long walk or short walk with optional beach snorkeling in the afternoon. The long walk was a fitness walk with few stops for pictures. I could do that at home, so DH and I chose the short walk which was flat and easy and allowed for photos. Thursday was spent on Fernandina and Isabela Islands with a long or short walk on lava rocks and an optional deep water snorkel recommended for experienced snorkelers only. We swam with two sea lions- so fun! In the afternoon there was an optional deep water snorkel recommended for experienced snorkelers only. We skipped that one. In the later afternoon, we took a Zodiac ride along the cliffs and coastline. Friday we returned to Santa Cruz Island visiting South Plaza Island with easy walk choices and a rockier trail to Dragon Hill, where we didn't see many animals (three flamingos and a few types of finches, but we did enjoy the peace and quiet. Very tranquil location. Saturday was spent visiting the Charles Darwin Station and planting trees in the highlands where we saw the Giant Tortoises in the wild. We also had a lovely buffet lunch at a ranch and local dancers performed for us. We asked various dinner companions who had gone on the Quito portion what we had missed. One passenger said that we did miss out, but when pressed for one thing that we missed in particular, he said "a city with three million people". Another passenger said we missed going downhill too fast on buses on narrow streets, and two passenger said we missed seeing the Equator exhibit and several churches. So, sorry Quito, but for us, it sounds like we saw more, and enjoyed more experiences in Puerto Ayora. The ship was nicer than I expected. Everyone was so nice. The dinners were tough for vegetarians, but I always found something to eat. The cabin was small, but we liked it. If you are interested in the three cheapest cabins, book well in advance as we did and save $1000 or so per couple. On Sunday morning, we were taken by Zodiac back to Seymour Island and taken by bus to the airport. We took a flight back to GYE, and stayed another night at the Sheraton, which is a very nice hotel (highly recommended). On Monday, we went from GYE back home to LAX on Copa (also recommended). Will I return? No, I don't think so. We saw so many animals, plants, birds, etc. - we really saw all we needed to. I loved this adventure. This is the only cruise I have taken which left me in tears on the last night. It affected me that much. It was a bucket list trip- a journey back in time. Truly a magical trip. If you are adventurous, don't let anyone talk you out of booking the seven night only option. With a little research and planning, you will be able to create a tailor-made experience that works best for you. We explained to another passenger how we had made our plans, and what we had experienced in town pre-cruise, and she said that she had considered the seven night only option, but had been talked out of it by posters on cruise critic. That's too bad. If you like the type of trip in which you deplane and are met at the airport by your tour company and don't have to lift a finger to do anything else the rest of your vacation, then the Quito option is a good choice, but for those of you who prefer doing things your own way, book the seven night option and party on. Just make sure you are ready physically for the experience, it would be a shame to travel all the way to the islands only to be forced to spend most of your time onboard. Unlike other ships, the Xpedition serves as your hotel, not as your source of entertainment. That can only be found by putting on a pair of comfortable and sturdy shoes (perhaps hiking boots) or beach shoes and exploring these incredibility diverse, beautiful islands. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Outer Loop w/Quito Everyone else had already gone through details of the amazing Galapagos, so I won't repeat it all. Just a few things to mention: Quito hotel and transfer staff excellent, dependable and knowledgeable. Marriott ... Read More
Outer Loop w/Quito Everyone else had already gone through details of the amazing Galapagos, so I won't repeat it all. Just a few things to mention: Quito hotel and transfer staff excellent, dependable and knowledgeable. Marriott was wonderful, and we enjoyed the city of Quito excursions. The market trip on the way back home was a little overwhelming. The merchants are /very/ persistent. Would not do that again, rather shop at the zero latitude store in peace if I wanted a souvenir. It pays off adding Quito since you get the charter flight, and it's not much more than booking yourself. At UIO airport, we saw many other flights to Galapagos with status "canceled" - be aware that the Xpedition will not wait for you in port. What put a -small- damper on the otherwise spectacular cruise were the numerous passengers that were travel agents and Celebrity employees. When you get something free, it seems you don't appreciate it as much. In particular, X's male employee from HR was not a good representation for the cruise line (not returning greetings, standing in front of people wanting to take photographs, partying in the back of the tour bus); You realized you were talking to travel agents when you mention, "wasn't this great?" and the answer is, "My clients prefer this or that" - or you see they are annoyed that people wanted to talk about the Islands in general, and/or annoyed they are in a place where wifi is not working(!) or annoyed to be there at all. Very sad! If we go on the Inner Loop in the future, I will be sure to ask how many actual passengers are employees and how many paying passengers before finalizing the booking. Crew (stewarts, guest services, naturalists, zodiac drivers) are all first class, and they made the cruise as wonderful as it was. As mentioned before, half of Galapagos happens under water. Do be careful and start slow, also during this "garua" season recommend bringing a wet suit. Many people still felt cold in the ~60 deg or less water temperature, despite the suits provided by X. You don't go ashore, you don't see what the islands have to offer, so making peace with a busy excursion schedule would be good. Recommend training in uneven terrain, and minor obstacles, as well as water. Many people fell off the zodiac into the water, tripped and fell walking over rocks, tired out in the water and had to be 'towed' out. Some of them admitted they do "absolutely nothing" at home, except maybe step in or out of the car. Also careful with dehydration, especially since alcoholic beverages are included, and offered after each excursion, lunch, dinner, before dinner.... The excursions are no problem for younger/fitter folks, but even they get tired and nap daily due to the level of activity (in the sun or cold water) every day. Galapagos is worth the effort! Read Less
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We booked this cruise two years ago and it turned out to be our 51st cruise. We read extensively about the Galapagos Islands and determined that the Celebrity Xpedition was the right answer for us. We told some of our friends and ended ... Read More
We booked this cruise two years ago and it turned out to be our 51st cruise. We read extensively about the Galapagos Islands and determined that the Celebrity Xpedition was the right answer for us. We told some of our friends and ended up with a group of 13 people on the cruise that sailed on September 25, 2016. What a great adventure! We arrived in Quito several days early and took a cab to the J W Marriott. I know some of the older posts talked about taking great care in selecting a cab, but I found that all the yellow cabs at the airport appeared to be licensed. I asked the driver for the cost and we were quoted $25 for the 45 minute ride to the hotel, regardless of the number of passengers. Because of luggage, my wife and I took one cab by ourselves. The Marriott is a world class high end hotel and was a pleasant surprise. The beds were comfortable, the air conditioner could cool the room at night. The covers were quite heavy and that interrupted my sleep, but that is not unusual . . . my wife slept just fine. The room had plenty of 110 volt outlets for USA plug-ins. They also had some 220 volt European outlets. We ate in the Hotel Restaurant, The Hacienda, a steakhouse, and it was very good. Breakfast was included and it was served on the floor just below Registration. It was very well done and you could choose from a wide variety, including a juice bar. We ate at some restaurants suggested by the Marriott travel office and had two very different, but outstanding meals. When we flew to Baltra, the trip took about 1 1/2 hours and we were served a meal on the plane that was better than expected. We checked in thru Customs and waited for the Zodiacs. Before long, we had our first of many Zodiac rides to the Xpedition, our home for the next 7 days. Then life becomes a blur. Talks explaining the next day activities, breakfast in the morning, choosing long walks or short walks, snorkeling adventures, back for lunch, either naturalist seminars or a nap, out for the afternoon long or short walk, a possible deep water snorkeling adventure, back to clean up, a few cocktails, listen to the description of tomorrows activities, sign up for the activities you want to do, off to dinner, maybe some conversation after dinner, then to bed. That is a typical day. Every morning and every afternoon, you had a different area to discover. For the rest of this review, I will just mention items as they come to mind. We all tried to minimize the amount of things we brought with us to this cruise. The reviews all cautioned that your baggage allowance on the plane was 44 pounds for checked luggage and only 15 pounds for carry on. We got close to this but were over for sure on the carry one. As it turns out, Celebrity charters this flight, so we do have a lot more leniency. If you keep you weight under 50 pounds for checked luggage, no one will say anything. Nobody even weighed the carry on luggage . . . we were at about 22 pounds each. You can upgrade to a business class seat on the plane to and from Baltra. They just upgraded the aircraft they use and now they have 12 seats available. It costs about $100 per person each way. It is on a "first come, first serve" basis and must be done once you get the the Marriott Hotel. Those that arrived early to the Marriott already had the seats taken by the time the later folks arrived, so if that is something you want to do, check with the Celebrity desk immediately, once you get to the hotel. The excursions were fantastic. But none of us in our group were prepared for the reality that there are no restrooms on the islands you are going to visit ( except two towns that you visit). As they say ' the only thing you should leave behind is your footprints". As such we learned to plan our intake knowing that it would be 2 to 4 hours before we were back on the ship, depending on the long or short walk. They could make extra zodiac trips back for emergencies. From my perspective, everyone seemed to adapt just fine and there did not appear to be any issues. We had packed some foil wrapped snacks (nuts, candy, crackers) that we thought we could put in our pack and bring with us on the excursions. We were told "NO", no food of any kind goes on the excursions. If you have a medical condition that requires some food, it would be given to your Naturalist Guide and they would distribute it to you. Once you visit the Islands you notice, there is no foil or paper of other scraps littering the area. They have a very good rule and should adhere to it. We did eat some of these things while on the ship, but in retrospect, I would leave that at home next time. We were there in the cool part of the year and it was not the rainy season. Just some quick stuff. Rooms had plenty of 110 volt outlets and they provided an power strip, no need to bring that. They provide binoculars in the rooms. Not high quality, but we seldom used them. The sun intensity is real, bring plenty of sun screen. We brought lots of bug spray ( pump, not aerosol) and never used it . . . . and never got any insect bites . . . but I would bring some if I came back. Many people wore long pants that zip off to make shorts and long sleeve light weight safari shirts. I brought water shoes. got them wet twice. Last time we had a wet landing, I did like the Naturalists . . . rolled up my pants and went barefoot. All the water landings were sand beaches and the maximum water depth was 16 inches. Take your hiking shoes in your pack and put them on once you land. I carried a very light pair of water shoes that I wore back on the Zodiac since you must have shoes on to get back on the ship. Some of the excursions on the lava field, up the mountain slopes and to the hill high point did require some walking. I was very glad I packed my walking boots with ankle support due to past sports injuries to my ankles. We had a very light rain just once for about 10 minutes. A light poncho is all that we needed. Everyone seemed to wear the wide brim hats or Panama hats . . . that were originally made in Ecuador and exported to Panama . . . . the locals story and they are sticking to it. Celebrity will supply you with snorkel, mask, fins, and a wetsuit. They also have walking sticks for those that want them on shore excursions. Sorry, this has gotten way too wordy. In the final analysis, this was one of the very best experiences we have ever had on a cruise. Celebrity did a fantastic job, the crew, officers, Naturalists, room stewards, chef, bartenders, etc were second to none. We were fortunate to share this adventure with a group of passengers from all over the world that were truly fun travelers. We appreciated everyone of them. We would rate it in our top five cruises taken out of 51. I hope some of this helps you along the way. Read Less
Celebrity Xpedition Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 3.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 3.0 0.0
Rates 5.0 0.0

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