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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
We were looking for a smaller ship that could take us into more secluded areas to better explore the land and sea life of the Galapagos, without the crowds. The Celebrity Xploration was ideal for this-- extremely comfortable ... Read More
We were looking for a smaller ship that could take us into more secluded areas to better explore the land and sea life of the Galapagos, without the crowds. The Celebrity Xploration was ideal for this-- extremely comfortable accommodations, excellent food and service, and lots of fun activities-- including hiking and diving each day to see specific scenes and wildlife specimens or behaviors (which of course, is outstanding and unique in the Galapagos Islands). Our Captain Natalie (allegedly the only female Captain in the Celebrity line?!) was capable, and ran a tight ship! Fernando and his crew provided the "on-board" services for this small vessel (16 guests total in 8 guestrooms) very smartly, with excellent, bottomless food and drinks, plenty of room to lounge in shade or sun, cleaned-up cabins several times daily, etc. The dining area was very classy, and we could all recount our daily adventures while enjoying lots of local fish (and other meats as well of course), along with comida tipico such as fried plantains and tropical fruits-- prepared with a light gourmet touch. John Garate was our naturalist guide, with excellent "local" as well as "academic" knowledge of the Galapagos Islands. John grew up in the Galapagos, but also had a Master's degree in wildlife and conservation studies from a Univ in the USA... he was articulate and humorous, and handled well the motley crew of guests, who ranged widely in their physical capabilities (some were snorkeling for their first time!) and interests (some were determined to learn the differences between Nazca and Blue-footed boobies, while others were content to just enjoy seeing so much unusual wildlife). John is also an excellent water-man, who can dive down deep into the green with your GoPro to get close-ups of the plentiful (but largely benign) sharks and other sea life. The Galapagos Islands themselves are a wonderful destination, with unique wildlife-- huge numbers of "tame" sea lions and marine iguanas, and lots of species that occur nowhere else in the world. But also the scenery is to dream for-- both above and below water: you'll be taken to beautiful deserted white or green sand beaches, or snorkel among huge schools of colorful fish being dive-bombed by pelicans and boobies. At night the Captain guides the boat to the next island. So you wake up in a new port near another deserted island where further unique scenery and wildlife await. It is totally cool! My only reservation is that the Celebrity Xploration does cater to the "cruise" crowd as well as a "nature" crowd-- so the clientele are not ALL totally stoked about hiking and diving as much as possible. Most of the passengers on my trip were older (60+ y.o.), and along to enjoy a "cruise experience" as well- with the food, drinks and relaxation. There may be other Galapagos cruise experiences where the "cruising" is more just to get to the next island for diving and hiking, rather than "Cruising" to enjoy the sun deck where you can sip on endless piña coladas. Our ship's vibe was definitely not a Party boat (we saw others that seemed way more so), nor was it a hardcore Nature boat, where everyone is going over their GoPro or DSLR footage with their nature guides out debating what species of finches were seen. Not complaining-- just explaining! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The crew works extremely hard to make sure you have a great time, and to overcome issues you may run into. Javier, our naturalist, grew up on the Islands, and knew how to make the excursions entertaining. He was terrific. There is a ... Read More
The crew works extremely hard to make sure you have a great time, and to overcome issues you may run into. Javier, our naturalist, grew up on the Islands, and knew how to make the excursions entertaining. He was terrific. There is a great attention to safety, and you always feel like someone is there if you falter on land or sea. Cabins are good size. I had been on the Eclipse the week before, and the shower on this boat was actually bigger than on the Eclipse. I, personally, have bad knees, so here are a few things to think about if you have this or some other disability: 1). This is a small boat with steep ladders between decks. You need to be able to climb them. 2). There is only one naturalist on board, and only 1 type of excursion. The larger boats offer options for people who are not as nimble. In spite of what Celebrity tells you, this boat does not. What they did do for me, which worked well, was send an additional crew member with me, to help me over rough spots and to allow me to return early, which I did a few times. They also offered me a Zodiac ride in places where I didn't hike. I got to see most of the same animals on the ride. 3). Everything is done with Zodiacs. You have to be able to get in and out of them several times a day. This is a small boat and it rocks quite a bit. We went during calm seas, and it was pretty bumpy at times. In rough seas this would be an issue, at least for me. There is wireless internet, but its very very slow. Food is good; very fresh, Tasty and plentiful but the variety is far less than a big cruise ship. That was fine for us. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
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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