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Sail Date: November 2017
I typically do not leave online reviews for anything, but since there are no reviews currently online for the Xploration I feel obligated to share a little about our experience to help others with their planning. My wife and I just ... Read More
I typically do not leave online reviews for anything, but since there are no reviews currently online for the Xploration I feel obligated to share a little about our experience to help others with their planning. My wife and I just returned from our Galapagos trip and I can say with confidence the trip far exceeded our expectations and we that we were completely blown away by our experience on the Celebrity Xploration. For context, I have been on about 5 previous cruises and I generally like them. My wife has been on 2 other cruises and was not inclined to go on any more. I had to do a lot of convincing to get to her on this one. Since there is ample information on what the Galapagos Islands themselves have to offer, I will focus this review on our specific experience with Celebrity and the ship. Our trip got off to a rocky start with a travel disruption in Guayaquil that caused us to miss the ship's embarkation by a full day. Since we had arranged all of our own travel, we feared we might have to reschedule the trip but Rodrigo from Celebrity sprung into action, arranging for a "fast boat" (which was actually just a fishing charter), to deliver us to the ship a day into the itinerary. Celebrity handled this situation perfectly and essentially saved our vacation. As you may have already gathered online, the 8 cabin ship was recently acquired by Celebrity and refurbished in 2017. I would not say the ship has a "brand new" feel to it but it is very clean and extremely well kept. It seemed like every time the group left for an activity the ship was cleaner on our return. Our cabin was spacious given the overall size of the ship and the small balcony was nice for relaxing and enjoying the view. The furnishings and fixtures were all in good repair and worked perfectly. Plenty of hot water and pressure in the shower, which was huge after a long snorkel! Each cabin has a TV which can play movies from the ship's DVD library. The food on our trip was outstanding! Jonathan was our chef and it is obvious he is a real pro. A few important notes: everything was extremely FRESH and well cooked, there was excellent variety both in each meal and across the trip (there were multiple selections of protein and vegetable at each meal and I can't recall any lunches or dinner that were repeated) and it all tasted great! Some memorable highlights included the fresh lobster tails with drawn butter, beef wellington and a whole lot of beautiful fish. Since we are not really wine drinkers, this is not a complaint, but I felt like the wine poured at each dinner was fairly pedestrian. I would categorize them as similar to the $15-$25 bottles we normally drink at home so if you are serious about wine I would ask about upgrading these for your trip. The overall service on the Xploration could not have been better. Jennifer (ship hostess), Augustin (bartender and server at meal) and Martin (stateroom attendant) did everything they could to make sure we had everything we needed and enjoyed every moment of the trip. I don't recall anything that slipped through the cracks or could have been better. Seriously. The person who was probably most essential to our wonderful experience was our naturalist guide, Juan Carlos. He is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about any and everything that has to do with the Galapagos so we were always very well informed about the places we visited and the plant & animals we were looking at. More importantly, he has EXTRAORDINARY passion for what he does, which manifested itself in each excursion off the ship and conversation on the ship. He was on mission to make sure we squeezed every bit juice we could out of the Galapagos. We plan to bring our kids back to Galapagos once they are a little older and we are going to do everything we can to make sure Juan Carlos is the naturalist guid when we go back. I recognize there is a lot of hyperbole in the words I have written here and that is unusual for me. I'm not one to say something was the "best ever!" But our trip on the Xploration was actually the "BEST EVER!" And my wife doesn't even like cruises! We are fairly well traveled people and have had tremendous experiences both domestically and abroad. In all of that travel we both agreed that the Galapagos is the most memorable place we have ever been and left us wondering how any future vacations can possibly measure up. Kudos to Celebrity and the entire staff and crew of the Xploration for delivering an amazing experience. Read Less
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