14 Celebrity Flora Cruise Reviews

First let me say that at the better part of $20,000 per week, this was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken (on a cost per day basis). That said, a few observations: Disappointments: Our “Sky ... Read More
First let me say that at the better part of $20,000 per week, this was the most expensive cruise I have ever taken (on a cost per day basis). That said, a few observations: Disappointments: Our “Sky Suite with Infinite Verandah” would be better described as “Room with Openable Window”. We paid extra, and feel we got less than we would have with the standard cabin with a real verandah. Will avoid this cabin concept on future X cruises! I did this cruise on the Xpedition many years back, and was surprised at how different the demographic was this time. Very similar to that of a transatlantic voyage, the median age was likely in the 70’s, rather than the cross section of “explorer types” we had expected. The food was, by and large, average. Plusses: The vessel is literally a small version of a luxury liner. The common areas never felt crowded, always felt elegant. The staff was way above average in both efficiency and courtesy, at all levels. We experienced no add-on costs. Shore excursions, wines, premium liquors, tips, and two bags of laundry were included. The Internet connection was free, unlimited, and easily the best I’ve ever experienced at sea. So, would we sail on The Flora again? Unfortunately, no. At the better part of $20,000 per week (per couple), we felt the overall product was not commensurate with the very hefty price tag. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I have always wanted to observe what Darwin experienced on the Beagle that led to his monumental work and this cruise satisfied me on so many levels. The Flora is a beautiful and well-designed ship for exploration of the islands. The ... Read More
I have always wanted to observe what Darwin experienced on the Beagle that led to his monumental work and this cruise satisfied me on so many levels. The Flora is a beautiful and well-designed ship for exploration of the islands. The crew from top to bottom were efficient, energetic, warm and first class. When was the last time you saw a captain and hotel director loading hand luggage onto the passenger tenders? The naturalists were wonderful and took the same delight we felt in what we saw and experienced. The itinerary was fast paced, making some of wish there could have been a sea-day or two to catch our breaths, but everything went like clockwork and the experiences were magical. Absolutely all us cruisers had only the highest praise for this cruise. If you like to hike, snorkel, kayak, eat and drink well, and enjoy being with animals who have no fear of humans, this is the trip for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My husband and I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos and when I received a special offer from Costco travel for the Flora, I jumped at the offer. Be warned, that if you book only the 7 night cruise, you will not get much support ... Read More
My husband and I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos and when I received a special offer from Costco travel for the Flora, I jumped at the offer. Be warned, that if you book only the 7 night cruise, you will not get much support from Celebrity. You cannot book air through them and you will have to call and get the information you need to book air travel yourself, such as the times you should plan to arrive and leave the islands. An important thing to keep in mind when booking flights is that the Flora stays on Ecuador time, NOT Galapagos time, which is one hour earlier. Please note this review is written to give information to people who book the seven day cruise only who have to make a lot of travel arrangements on their own. We flew into Quito on September 13th and spent the night at the airport Wyndham. The next day, we flew from Quito to Baltra Airport. If you are not traveling as a group with Celebrity, when you get to the departing airport in Ecuador, you must pay $20 to buy a tourist transit card (do not lose this, you need to show it when you leave the Galapagos) at the airport. In Quito, the booth is to the right as you enter the departures door. Celebrity will reimburse you for this cost. Then you must have your luggage inspected before checking it or going to the gate. When you arrive at the airport in Baltra, you must go through another line and pay a $100 National Park Entry Fee. Celebrity will give you a voucher for this, showing the fee was paid, but if you are traveling on your own, they won't accept this, so be sure you have cash for everyone in your group. Keep the receipt and you will be reimbursed in cash by Celebrity. We spent the night before the cruise at the Royal Palm Hotel on Santa Cruz and arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us to the hotel. If you are arriving the day before the cruise, you need to make a reservation at one of the hotels on Santa Cruz Island, a 5 minute ferry ride from Baltra. Most of the hotels are located in Puerto Ayora, on the other side of Santa Cruz Island from the ferry. You can take a cab ride; I believe that it is about 30 minutes and fairly inexpensive. There is also a bus. On cruise day, plan to be back at the Baltra Airport around 10 am. Celebrity says you should be there by 2, but arrive earlier. There are Celebrity employees at the airport; check in with them. If they owe you for your tourist transit card or park entrance fee, they will reimburse you then. You will need to wait for the passengers arriving on Celebrity's charter flight from Quito and can wait in Celebrity's VIP lounge. Then you will be bused from the airport to a dock where you will board your tender and ride out to the Flora. The Flora is a beautiful ship. We were in cabin 512, which featured a sky suite with a private veranda. I highly recommend booking this type of cabin; the private balcony is amazing and we never experienced any spray when sitting out there. The room had a very comfortable bed, a sofa, a large screen tv, refrigerator, and a very nice bathroom. Do not be concerned about the frosted glass in the bathroom; you still have enough privacy and it is very cool to be able to look out at the view while brushing your teeth. There is a faucet for filtered water in the bathrooms as well as complimentary metal water bottles. DO NOT drink tap water in Ecuador! Housekeeping cleaned the rooms twice a day. You can have laundry done twice for free during the cruise. There are binoculars in your room which you can use during the trip. The wifi worked fine for email and browsing, but I could not send photos using messaging. I had no problem sending photos using WhatsApp. Food on the ship was good, but not amazing. There was an abundance of fish offered every day, and despite what another reviewer said, there is plenty of lobster. They also had beef (which is pre-cooked sous vide), as well as a chicken dish every night. I got kind of tired of the same food by the end of the cruise. Drinks are free. The wait staff in the dining rooms are all excellent and friendly and speak English well. We especially liked Natalia and Zarella, AKA Lady Gaga. The other passengers were great, mainly from the US, but we also had several couples from the UK and one large family from Chile. There were two children on our cruise, sisters ages 10 and 11 and they were very well behaved and participated in all the activities. Be warned though, that this is NOT a cruise for children under about ages 10 or 11. There are no activities for them, no special food, and many younger kids will be very bored and will not be able to keep up on the daily walks. Every evening, passengers meet in the Discovery Lounge for a briefing on the next day's activities. In another review, someone already posted the outer loop daily schedule, and ours was the same, so I won't duplicate this. There are morning and afternoon activities, with harder and easier versions. Unless you have a physical disability, you should be fine with the harder version. You can always drop out if you have a problem. After the briefing, you sign up for the next day activities. These include nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling, deep water snorkeling, and tender rides. You will be issued wetsuits and they have them in all sizes, including child sized, so you should be able to find one which fits you, as well as snorkels, fins and masks, swim flotation vests, and a bag to hold everything. These are stored in the Marina area. If you enjoy snorkeling, you should try and take the Outer Loop cruise, which offers more deep water snorkeling trips (three) than the Inner Loop. The water when we went (September) was cold, in the 60s, so you will need the wetsuit. My husband did all the deep water snorkels and he also wore a neoprene rash guard and a cap to keep warm. These were the highlights of the trip for him, so if you love snorkeling, don't miss these. The regular snorkeling takes place after walks, so you will need to wear a bathing suit under your clothes. You can store your bag with gear on the beach, so you don't have to carry it on the walk. Everywhere you go on the Islands, you will be accompanied on the trip by one of the Flora's naturalists. These are all natives of Ecuador and many were born and raised in the Galapagos. They are very proud of their country and do a fantastic job of representing their country and educating passengers about the Islands. They are all great, but two special favorites of ours were Diego and Orlando. You can sign up for a special dinner with a naturalist; please do it! I have to give a shout out to the Captain, Captain Jaramillo, the Hotel Director, John Flynn, the Cruise Director, Marvi and Sachin, (not sure of his title) from the dining room. They were all over the ship, talking to guests, and making sure everyone had what they needed and were having a good time. John was at the tenders every day, helping passengers board and carrying life vests and bags. I was very impressed by how hard all of the crew worked. September is a great time for this cruise, due to the cooler weather. It was in the 70s most days, so never got too hot. I can't imagine taking some of the hikes when it gets to 100 degrees or more! You don't need to take any fancy clothing for this cruise; while some people got a little dressed up for dinner, most people were very casual. Popular clothes were things like Columbia PFG pants and shirts. I would recommend capris or lightweight long pants over wearing shorts, just to protect your legs from brush on some of the hikes. I brought a pair of Keen sandals and some Dansko Paisley shoes for hiking and they worked fine. You don't need heavy hiking shoes, but do bring shoes with good soles for hiking on lava rock. You will also need a hat and a jacket. Celebrity gives you a string backpack and a poncho, but you would be better off bringing a lightweight backpack to carry your water bottle, camera, etc. Debarkation went fine. Unfortunately, Celebrity told me not to schedule our departure flight before 2 pm, which was completely wrong. Passengers on the 7 day cruise only were in the first debarkation group, which left the ship at 9 am (8 am Galapagos time). We were at the airport before 9 am! Luckily, we were able to switch to an 11 am departure, so did not have to spend the day sitting in a small airport. All in all, my husband and I had a fantastic time on this cruise. The ship was amazing, the staff were all hard working, knowledgeable and dedicated, the wildlife and vegetation were incredible and we made some wonderful friends. I highly recommend booking a cruise of the Flora; it is a once in a lifetime trip you will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We were moved onto this ship from the Xpedition (which is now back in service) and she is a BEAUTY. Our cruise was her 7th sail, and she did not disappoint. - Overall, it's very well thought out, and uses great colors and ... Read More
We were moved onto this ship from the Xpedition (which is now back in service) and she is a BEAUTY. Our cruise was her 7th sail, and she did not disappoint. - Overall, it's very well thought out, and uses great colors and textures and has TONS of windows - The lounges are big enough that you don't feel crowded, even when everyone is in there for the pre-dinner presentation of the next day's activities - The dining room could use some better sound-proofing panels in the ceiling (when it's full, it's noisy), but the wait staff was exceptional and great views from nearly all the tables - Food is fantastic. This is not a stuff-your-face-24-hours-a-day ship; there are set B/L/D times since you are off the ship doing things in-between meals. When you come in off a tender, you're greeted with a little snack and some flavored water - Wine selection is better than the spirits, with some exceptions - be sure to try the local Ecuadorian gin, called UNDER, in your g&t! - Rooms are beautiful and the bathrooms are HUGE (larger than the ensuite in my 1950s house)! Some people had leaking showers during rough seas, but the ops team was working on correcting that during the following week's cruise - All staff is friendly and approachable; the naturalists clearly love their jobs and are really knowledgeable - Don't skip any excursions. Everything is super-interesting, and there are different "levels" of each excursion, depending on your mobility/how much exercise you want/etc - Evening entertainment is non-existent (after dinner), but there was a lot of time spent in the bar making new friends. Really great group of people on our sail. - The first day(Sunday) is a little chaotic, as you're getting through embarkation, the safety drill, snorkel safety class, unpacking your bags and a bunch of other things. That isn't the tone of the cruise going forward, so don't let it get to you. - All ports/excursions are reached via the tenders, which have a great set of steps to get on/off. Note that in rough seas, these stairs go up and down and it's a bit like a Fun House ride in an amusement park Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We just returned from the August 25, 2019 Inner Loop sailing on the Flora. It was a trip of a lifetime and Celebrity exceeded our expectations!!! From the minute we stepped off the plane until the minute we flew home, they were right ... Read More
We just returned from the August 25, 2019 Inner Loop sailing on the Flora. It was a trip of a lifetime and Celebrity exceeded our expectations!!! From the minute we stepped off the plane until the minute we flew home, they were right there taking care of all the logistics...ticketing, transfers, documentation, luggage, etc. It's also the first time on a cruise that we had a ZERO balance on the last day!!! I agree with all that Kathy said and I'm thankful that I don't have to give such a thorough review now!!! I had so many questions before the cruise and I wish I had read this sooner. For our experience, I found that my Chaco sandals were good for the beach hikes, but was very thankful to have trail shoes (Columbia trail running shoes) to navigate the rocks and lava fields. Plenty of people wore regular sneakers, which was OK, but they did slip on dusty rocks at times. There were 2 times they recommended long pants/sleeves, but I'm not really sure why? It was not necessary. The naturalists and the tender drivers stay covered head to toe at all times to protect from the sun. I'm from Georgia and don't like to be cold, but had the attitude that I could withstand it for a 45 minute snorkel!!! One time, I had to talk myself off the ledge because the cold water took my breath away upon entry. Once I regained my composure, it was totally worth it to see the turtles feeding on algae! I felt good about my clothing choices. Kathy is correct. No one cares what you wear. I would say most were dressed "nice" for dinner, but I did see some in jeans and even one couple in gym clothes. I usually wore a sun dress or pants with a cute top. Men wore jeans or slacks with a shirt. I also felt like I needed to look the part of adventurer, but that is not the case. The dry wicking shorts are nice and I used a PFG long sleeve shirt as my top layer. If you go straight from a hike to snorkel, wear your swimsuit as there is no where to change!!! I'm sure it would be frowned upon, but we figured out to take a washcloth with us to brush the sand from our feet after a wet landing. As for the underwater camera...I had a Fuji, but it filled with water on day 3. Before that, it took great pics. I'm sure it was user error as many people had the same camera. One thing I realized is that I was more free to enjoy the snorkel without worrying about the perfect shot. At the end of the cruise, they do give you a USB with pics from the week. Travel and tourism in the Galapagos is HIGHLY regulated, so you cannot just jump in the water anytime you want...or walk anywhere either. There were a couple of times, when we didn't have far to cruise, that we would just sit until it was our appointed time to disembark. We sat looking at nice calm water with a white sand beach in the distance but were stuck on the ship. By the time we snorkeled, the water there was choppy. That is my only complaint and Celebrity has nothing to do with it!!! The "deep water snorkel" is the best and you don't have to be super experienced...you just can't touch the bottom. They do give you a talk the night before each island to discuss excursion options and level of difficulty. Obviously, this is subjective, but we felt they might have put a little too much emphasis on "strenuous" or "fitness walk." I'm 51 and in decent shape. I walk a lot for exercise and found all the walks easy. My 81 year old mom would not agree. According to my Fitbit, the hike that went by Darwain's Lake was 33 flights of stairs. The one on Bartolome was 402 stairs plus some incline. All of the hikes had stops along the way for the naturalists to talk and point out critters. A disappointment for us was there was no snorkeling the last 2 days. The Darwain Tortoise Center was good, but I could've breezed through there and then snorkeled. I did not need all of the allotted time to shop. As stated the food is good. The breakfast was basically the same everyday, but yummy. The Grill is great for lobster, but I did hear someone say they will bring it to you in the MDR if you ask. The french fries are not worth the calories. I enjoyed the cultural food and different ceviche everyday. There was a family on our cruise with 4 kids ages 9-15. They were wonderful and added a great touch of fun to our week. I did hear that the week before had some challenging kids. As with any cruise, you never know what people will be there. We had a great group by week's end. There were those who kept to themselves and others who formed connections as the week went by. I have attached our weekly activity sheet. I'm happy to attach pics of the hikes and conditions if wanted. Celebrity provides you with a water bottle, poncho (needed once), lip balm and a string backpack. As noted, you must have your bags out the night before the cruise and the last night of the cruise. I wish I had had a bigger backpack or carry-on for this purpose. Hope this helps!! Have a great trip to the Galapagos. You will NEVER regret it or forget it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We booked the 10 night package through Celebrity and from start to finish it was amazing! From the minute we landed at the Quito airport to the time of departure, everything was so well organized and every staff member we encountered both ... Read More
We booked the 10 night package through Celebrity and from start to finish it was amazing! From the minute we landed at the Quito airport to the time of departure, everything was so well organized and every staff member we encountered both on land and at sea was great. The ship is gorgeous and very well designed for sailing in the Galapagos. Our cabin was the sky suite with veranda and it was spacious enough for two with a large bathroom and shower. I see that some other reviews have mentioned issues with water on the bathroom floor but we didn’t run into that at all. Our cabin attendants were phenomenal and did a great job. We never had to ask for anything as our room was kept immaculate and restocked daily. The restaurant and bar staff were excellent and they worked extremely hard. We had no issues with the service at all. In fact many of them went out of their way to make sure we were enjoying our experience. The food was quite good. Some things were average, but for the most part it was very good and we were happy with it. The naturalist guides were fantastic and you can tell how much they love the islands and love sharing it with others. They were all incredibly knowledgeable and really made the excursions enjoyable. The tender boat drivers were also all great. They were friendly and always tried to position the tender in ways that would allow for great photos of the wildlife. The captain, cruise director and hotel director were always around and checking in with guests to ensure things were going well. It was obvious that their main priority is to provide their guests with the best experience possible and they and their crew are working hard to deliver. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad we chose the Celebrity Flora. I really can’t say enough good things about every one of the Celebrity staff members and the ship in general. There were a couple minor negatives for us that I will mention. One was inconsistent room service quality. We ordered the club sandwich one day and it was great. A few days later we ordered it again and it was a totally different (and very subpar) sandwich. Everything else we ordered from room service was good though. Another thing is the policy of only 2 people to a cabin and still allowing children. There was a family on our cruise with 4 kids and the kids had their own cabins while the parents were in a different cabin. The kids cabins happened to be the ones next door to ours and they were noisy and disruptive on the first couple of days without supervision in their room. I think they got tired out after that and were pretty quiet for the remainder of the cruise so it was not a big deal, but it could have been much worse. Not only do I think unsupervised children in a cabin is a bad idea due to possible disruption of other guests, but it’s also a safety issue. When the kids were horsing around on their balcony next to ours it was obvious that one could easily end up going over the balcony railing. I will say that overall, kids being on the ship was fine and the ones on our cruise were generally well behaved, but I really think Celebrity should reconsider allowing children to stay in their own cabins without parental supervision. Side note - We were able to upgrade to first class on the charter flight from Quito to Baltra for only $220 USD per person round trip once we were checked in to the hotel in Quito. Celebrity made it super easy and I was happy with the price. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I posted many more details (and a few videos) on the "Just back on Flora" thread in the Flora roll calls but will try and summarize here. It seems like many of the other reviewers' comments may have been heard and addressed ... Read More
I posted many more details (and a few videos) on the "Just back on Flora" thread in the Flora roll calls but will try and summarize here. It seems like many of the other reviewers' comments may have been heard and addressed as we didn't experience those problems. From pickup at the airport to dropoff at the airport, Celebrity handled the logistical details seamlessly. We did the 10 night package and enjoyed the precruise experience at JW Marriott, the Quito city tour and lunch, and to a lesser extent the dinner (there were not many choices off what is an extensive menu). The charter flight was fine, the food served on it was very good. Yes there is a line when you arrive at Baltra to go through immigration but you do have access to restrooms and since you can travel with liquids, you can certainly bring a filled water bottle. The VIP lounge is not all that exciting but it was fine for the short wait while they sorted out the logistics and was a good time to chat with your fellow cruisers. The ship was beautiful - we were in 503 which was a regular verandah cabin and we thought it was spacious for a cruise ship cabin, especially the bathroom. We did not experience any issues with the sinks or the toilets and once I learned to put the bathmat down just as I opened the shower door, no problems there either. We found the mini nightlight under the sink in the bathroom was adequate for our needs, so never needed to turn on the main light- if you did I can see where that could definitely wake the other person given the glass wall. The sliding door to the balcony was very hard to open or close but without me saying anything to anyone, someone came one day and fixed it! The tender docking approach was great- with two options it was very easy to get on and off and emerging right into the marina area to rinse your shoes and sort out your snorkel gear was very useful. Loved getting something to drink and often a snack once you came off each excursion- the hot chocolate was gratefully received after snorkeling through water in the low 60s- and the sparking wine was appreciated each afternoon! The dining was disappointing; understand the restrictions on food coming in but we still think more could be done with what was there. The breakfast and lunch buffets were extensive and the salads at the buffet were colorful and interesting, but we got bored with what seemed to be the same fish prepared the same way every night. And it was inconsistent- one night I braved a meat order and left most of it, but apparently the Chateaubriand on the last night was great. That said, we didn't do this cruise for the food and what they served was certainly sufficient. Burgers and grilled lobster tails on Deck 7 were definitely a hit! I do agree that having the Ocean Grill bar open more- perhaps during sailaway and when you come back from excursions- would be nice, but going down to Deck 4 to get a drink and bringing it back up was not a big deal. Between two and sometimes three excursions a day (if you did the deep water snorkeling) we didn't need any more activities but I went to most of the naturalist talks - all of which were informative and worthwhile- and the cocktail mixing which was great fun. I thought the staff was fine- as good as or better than we have had on most of our Celebrity cruises- so no complaints there. Our cabin was serviced beautifully, the waiters and barstaff were helpful and efficient. The naturalists and tender drivers were just amazing. And the captain and especially the hotel manager- John Flynn- were always around and visible and willing to listen to issues. I am not a breakfast eater, and one day I just had not had enough to see me through both the morning excursion and the deep water snorkel scheduled before lunch. I stopped at Guest Services on the way back from the excursion and asked if someone could bring some cheese and ham or something up to my cabin in the 20 minutes that we had between these. Sure enough, ten mins later I had a plate. And I learned to at least try and have an egg in the morning! (one hint- fill a small cup with nuts at breakfast, or popcorn or corn nuts at lunch,it's great for a quick snack in your cabin later:) Shore excursions were definitely the highlight of the trip. Even with 100 people on board, when you tour in groups of 12 it seemed small, and we often were grouped with different people which was fun as we got to know many more people on the cruise that way (the group you are with depends on which of the excursions you are doing and what time you showed up to get your tender tickets). The 7:15 pm briefings were very clear and informative about what to wear, bring and expect but you do need to pay attention. There are two ways to snorkel- if its a beach snorkel, wear your bathing suit under your walking cloths and bring your snorkel gear (which you get he very first day and is always on hangers marked with your cabin number in the marina area). For a deep water snorkel, take your wetsuit to your cabin and change, then go to the marina and pick up your snorkel gear on the way out. Seeing the animals and birds in their natural environment was beyond amazing. Yes there are restrictions on where you can walk but I think most of us recognize and appreciate that as this place is magical and it is so important to do what we can to save it. Others have talked about what you can see on these, and I posted videos on the thread listed above so the only thing I will add is that if you are preparing to go on this cruise, and want to get the most out of it, practice your balance, and practice walking on very uneven terrain before you come. The distances were not long but the terrain could be rugged. There were several children and teenagers on the cruise. For some of these you would not have even notice as their behavior was very adult-like. Others were typical kids and at times some of the adults found them disruptive. As others have said, there are no specific activities designated for children so if you are thinking of bringing yours, do assess their ability to be part of an adult experience 24 x 7. This is inherently a tiring cruise- up and out early, back for a few hours in the early afternoon and then out again for the next excursion. I was surprised about the comment "not enough to do on the ship", we were trying to figure out who had time! We used the afternoon break for lunch, naps, gym,and showers although I did try and get to as many of the afternoon talks as I could. We couldn't stay awake long enough to check out the evening entertainment, but we did take two nights to go up to Deck 8 and look at the stars which were extraordinary- do not miss this if you get clear nights. Last comment about managing expectations. Yes this is an expensive trip and at the price point some people were expecting that the food/service/ship/staff/etc would be better. In terms of the ship and shipboard experience, I was expecting more or less what I have found when booking a verandah on other Celebrity ships (we have been on the Equinox, the Summit and the Silhouette) so I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the Flora was. I considered the bulk of the cost to be the other inclusions (pre and post cruise, charter flights, etc) plus the overall expense of touring the Galapagos. I can see if you are expecting a luxury ship experience or are used to the higher end suites and you don't have one on this ship, you might be disappointed. I dinged a bit on Value for Money because once on, we started learning all the deals that others had gotten (booked on an earlier Flora cruise that was cancelled, or booked on the Xpedition, or BOGOHO, etc) but realistically that's all part of travel. I don't usually look at prices after we pay for that very reason! This is definitely a different kind of cruise than others we have been on but it was wonderful. I was looking for details before we left but they were sparse since it is such a new ship, so hopefully this review and the postings in the Just Returned thread within the Flora roll call will help others in terms of what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
2nd time to Galapagos, having travelled before on the Xpedition. Wanted to go on a more luxurious ship, for a stress-free experience as much as possible. There were a few glitches in the trip, but overall was a very good trip.I wanted to ... Read More
2nd time to Galapagos, having travelled before on the Xpedition. Wanted to go on a more luxurious ship, for a stress-free experience as much as possible. There were a few glitches in the trip, but overall was a very good trip.I wanted to review the cruise, to counter the unnecessarily harsh recent reviews. Don't let a few small negatives keep you from having a fantastic cruise on this ship. Of course, the off-ship excursions were excellent. Very good naturalists and beautiful scenery and animals. Enough said. Food quality was very good, especially for such a remote location. Always offered plenty of seafood, including lobster. Served a very good Chateaubriand beef on special dinner night, when a naturalist joined us at our table. There are now at least 3 people serving/busing during buffet meals, so things have improved. However, they are still not prompt in removing dirty dishes from the table or offering initial drinks/coffee upon sitting. I would even suggest they offer a self-service coffee station during breakfast. Most of the rooms do not have a coffeemaker in them, and we are very keen on getting our morning coffee promptly. I requested a coffeemaker for my room, and the hotel Director found me one. Thanks. There is a very kind Maitre D' that made sure I got the lobster for lunch that I inquired about. It wasn't until the middle of the cruise that I found out that lobster was plentiful. There are small design flaws of the ship. Several of the showers overflowed their glass door& shallow pan onto the bathroom floor during the trip, if trying to shower when the ship was underway. The engineers tilted the ship a bit to counteract this, but really it took planning and a bit of diligence to avoid getting water onto the floor. I'm sure this is ultimately a correctable problem with the shower enclosures. There is no ventilation in the bathrooms and there is no light suitable for reading in the bedrooms. So, if you like to read in bed, maybe a wildlife guide for prepping for the next day, bring a clip-on reading light. Entertainment was fine. They had a very popular "Silent Disco" night, where you have headphones on and listen to 1 of 3 streams of dance music. Wow, sometimes we had up to 30 people dancing, overflowing the dance floor. Recommend they repeat that. Some people missed that night and were sad they wouldn't get to experience it later in the week. They had a young Brit solo guitarist singer throughout the cruise. Several of the people we spoke to said she needed to mix it up a bit, that some of her songs sounded alike no matter the genre. I would recommend adding some light Latin songs, to remind us that we are somewhere far away from home. Maybe they should hire a Latino guitarist /singer instead. The cabins were kept in great shape by the accommodating cabin staff. The gals worked long hours and carried the phones for our service calls. Tip them, please. Room service needs improvement- twice received 1 cutlery set when I clearly stated I wanted cutlery for 2 people. Coffee arrived without sugar/creamer twice. These seem like small complaints, but it took up to 15 minutes to get what we needed. I would also suggest that they post signs that say "Quiet Please" at each room hallway and specify that there is No Running while on board, as one of their rules. We had the unfortunate luck to have a couple of kids under 10, running up and down the hallways while we were trying to nap. Not my idea of luxury at all. I hope our complaints are getting addressed. This is a beautiful ship with a great crew. They deserve great success! Cheers! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Pros- The Naturalist are great and that is a main reason for going to the Galápagos. They are informative and dedicated to the area. The ship is new and beautiful. The staff is all Ecuadorian and try very hard. Cabin- See below ... Read More
Pros- The Naturalist are great and that is a main reason for going to the Galápagos. They are informative and dedicated to the area. The ship is new and beautiful. The staff is all Ecuadorian and try very hard. Cabin- See below Food- Good not great. Daily Ceviche is very good. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Drinks- Limited top shelf selection of alcoholic beverages. Cons- Restaurants and bars are understaffed. There are no snacks in the bars other than chips and nuts. There is a baby grand piano that should be used by a musician, there is zero entertainment. Room service is very sketchy, takes a long time and once never came. In conclusion I would definitely recommend this cruise and the ship. Celebrity does an excellent job of picking you up no matter what time you land and they transfer you when yo u leave. The land excursions were good and so were the included meals at a restaurant and in the hotel in Quito. We had an issue with what smelled and probably was carbon monoxide in the halls the last 2 nights at the JW Marriott, we insisted on being transferred to a sister Sheraton. The hotel did not want to admit there was a problem. We asked for an accommodation for the cheaper hotel and smaller rooms. The agent was supposed to take care of this and we never found her again before departing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, ... Read More
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, the service aboard the Flora is well below the service I have received as a suite class passenger on other Celebrity ships, and it is far below the service one expects from a luxury vacation. For the price, you can find far better service aboard an actual luxury vessel. And if you're willing to accept the poor service you'll receive onboard the Flora, you can take a much cheaper vacation. I have a lot to say about this "once-in-a-lifetime" trip, so I'll try to be concise: Booking: Proof that Celebrity is not ready to enter this market is the fact that the Flora is treated as an afterthought or an entirely different ship while booking. For example, the Guest Ticket Booklet (which you are expected to print off yourself because Celebrity can't be bothered to mail you a copy of this 42 page document) doesn't even list the Flora among Celebrity's ships. I had to wait for 45 minutes on a phone call to Celebrity to find out what number family members should call in case of emergency because the Guest Ticket Booklet didn't even list the Flora. This is just one of many examples of Celebrity and its Galapagos desk not being ready to debut this ship. Arrival: Arrival in Quito was one of the few good examples of Celebrity service. Someone met us right outside customs and took us to the JW Marriott where we had the King size room we had requested. (We are currently on the land extension of our trip and none of our rooms have been booked correctly and Celebrity has yet to address the issue.) Quito: Our one day in Quito was filling with amazing food and adventure. Celebrity has a really good group of people running the ground operations here and it was probably one of the top three parts of this trip. We always had bottled water, access to restrooms, and were given an lovely introduction to and education about Quito. Galapagos arrival: We flew on a chartered flight from Quito to Baltra and were served a nice breakfast on the plane. We had to wait in a lengthy customs line, but I don't think Celebrity could have done anything about that. However, they could have provided us WiFi access while waiting, in addition to bottled water because it was quite hot. Celebrity's "VIP lounge" is a terribly small room with a soda fountain. This was the beginning of the realization that there was nothing luxury about this trip. Ship check in: You would think that on a luxury cruise of only 98 passengers, the crew would know everyone's names. However, the crew never even learned our names (or standing drink orders) by the end of the trip. We were not offered any kind of unpacking service. Key cards didn't work for half of the ship upon arrival and we had to trouble the attendants to gain access to our own rooms. (For the inconvenience, which lasted nearly half a day, we were provided a chocolate bar.) Ship and rooms: Outstanding. The Flora is a beautiful ship, meticulously appointed and breathtaking. We went with the standard balcony and weren't disappointed. The beds were comfortable; the rain shower was awesome, as was the constant ocean view; and we always had hot water. The dining room and Discovery Lounge are beautiful and it never felt like there wasn't enough room for the 98 passengers onboard. I could say more, but a ship like this is only worth it if the quality of the food and service matches the quality of the ship itself, and it does not. No ship is nice enough to justify a poor service experience. Food Service: The food is mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly not great. There's one wonky toaster, the eggs are always cold at breakfast, and some of the desserts were the most stale and bland items I've ever eaten. For being in a country that prides itself on its chocolate (and for being on a ship that only uses local foods), we had surprisingly few chocolate desserts. More importantly, food is not always available! There is a gap between breakfast and the beginning of room service where you can't find anything to eat unless you manage to catch a bartender and ask him for chips or peanuts. If you appreciate that one of the hallmarks of cruising is the free-flowing food and drink, don't book this trip! It's quite easy for Celebrity to call this an "all-inclusive" experience when very little is actually available. For the better part of our cruise, there was only one working soda machine on the ship. And no one ever took my drink order in under five minutes, so getting a Diet Coke was a 15 minute experience. After a particularly long hunt for a bartender one day, we took to fixing our own drinks. None of this may not seem like too much of a problem to you now, but when you realize that you have to start every single day early to make the excursions, you'll wish you could get into and out of the dining room in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, we found ourselves having to wake up an additional half hour earlier (WARNING: You will NOT sleep in on this vacation unless you want to miss an excursion. So don't think of it as a vacation--think of it as an adventure.) to compensate for the slow food and beverage service. Laundry: Celebrity provides laundry twice, but only for four days of a seven night cruise. Thursday is the last day for laundry even though you don't leave the ship until Sunday. For folks like us that had a land extension, this was particularly inconvenient, and Celebrity doesn't offer laundry once on the land extension. Otherwise, the laundry service was great. Excursions: Once you understand how the Galapagos works, you'll realize that Celebrity has very little input on this part of the cruise, so it seems unfair to comment. However, I'll note for anyone considering a Galapagos cruise that you should realize how little freedom you have to explore the Galapagos. You'll always be accompanied by a naturalist. You'll never be able to stray off on your own. You won't be able to interact with wildlife (outside of blowing bubbles at sea lions while snorkeling). Ships have to go to particular places at set times so that there are never too many people in one place. It's the most heavily regulated "adventure" you'll ever take. The fact that excursions are so rigid--and the fact that the first ones of the day are so early--are what make it SO important that your time aboard the ship be particularly enjoyable. That's where Celebrity is falling short here. There's really nothing to do on board the ship between excursions--you can't even eat. Sure, you can order some incredibly mediocre room service. But what you'd really like to do is go up top to the Ocean Bar and sit outside with a drink and a snack. But the crew is unable to handle that, so you have to wait until lunch. It also doesn't help that no matter how many times your husband orders coffee and you order Diet Coke, no one will remember. You can't even get WATER in a timely fashion. I took to sneaking behind the crew section in the dining room to get my own. I'll admit that my review is somewhat biased by the fact that we are still on our "vacation" with Celebrity doing a land extension. This portion of the trip has been equally marred by incompetence and indifference on Celebrity's part. Today they left me on hold for 30 minutes only to tell me to call back tomorrow because the person who could help me had gone home. Keep in mind that they know I'm in a foreign country on a vacation WITH CELEBRITY. I'll update my review later when my rage subsides to see if I want to up the ratings at all. But I don't think that'll be the case... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We all have our priorities. Before you take this Flora adventure – your experience for a life time, make a decision, which is more important to you: working internet or flushing toilets, because you may not get both at the same time. ... Read More
We all have our priorities. Before you take this Flora adventure – your experience for a life time, make a decision, which is more important to you: working internet or flushing toilets, because you may not get both at the same time. Am I joking? Yes – just a little, but I got your attention, right? Gorgeous new boat aside, we felt like we were on a “shake-down cruise” because we were the forth group (of 100) to sail the Flora. In a smart move by the Ecuadorian government, they contracted with Celebrity to have a large percentage of Ecuadorian citizens working the Flora. But, in a rush to get the Flora in service, the lack of training and preparation for these employees was evident. The Flora experience/service is nowhere the same as with all other Celebrity ships. Points: • Check-in/Embarkation. The two women who “run” the Quito operations (Paula and Liz) are remarkable. They speak clear English and know what they are doing. Can you imagine working with 100 weary-anxious passengers every weekend? At all hours of the day/night? They do it all. Our only “glitch” was plastic bags. In packing, I use clean plastic bags from a supermarket’s produce section to keep our shoes separate from everything else. You CAN NOT have any flimsy plastic in your luggage. I didn’t know this. I had to use the ice bucket liners (thank you Marriott housekeeping) and Marriott laundry bags to change out all our shoes and repack. You can only use “Zip-lock” type bags or bags of sturdy plastic thickness. • In an effort to cut out any and all environmental waste, the ship produces very little paper for informational purposes. No daily updates; only one for the entire week (and on the on-board TV station). We found out things from talking to our cruise-mates. (What? There’s an ice machine on your deck? To find out how to work all the buttons in your cabin, you just play with them until you get it right. Your cabin steward (as with other Celebrity ships) most likely will not speak enough English to show you how things work.) • Brush up on your Spanish or be prepared to use “Google” to translate. See note above about how things work in your cabin or ask questions in Spanish. • This is a SMALL ship. Got that? Do NOT ask for a wine list because there is none. I was told that the one person working the bar service had to make a physical list of what was on board—by hand. (Unfortunately for me, I only like non-dry wines. The Hotel Director suggested a Rose and I was happy from that point on.) • The Dining. The food was very good and prepared/platted beautifully. Service, however, was noticeably lacking. Again, small ship, small number of experienced staff. This problem was very prevalent in both dining areas. You may be used to wait staff working in teams; waiter to take order and ensure it come to you as you requested. The second half of the team is a “bus” person who ensures water glasses are filled, used plates are removed, utensils are replenished, and table is ready for next course. Not so on the Flora. In both the Restaurant and the Ocean Grill & Bar there was usually only TWO people working the tables. If you chose a table that was cleared from previous buffet user, you get to pick up clean settings from another table not yet used. If you want your glass of water refilled, you need to get up and ask for it. Once food comes to the table, you will not see that person again, until you are ready for dessert. o Dining—Breakfast. Buffett in the Restaurant. Which makes a lot of sense for that many people. However, we noticed that no matter what time you get there, they run out of foods (e.g. no more bacon?) One brilliant note: the dispensers for the two juices have long spoons for you to stir the concentrate before you dispense your juice. The DIY toaster does not toast. It warms the bread. o Dining—Restaurant. Always lovely. Food always great. Service… well, on the first night, I saw the hotel director actually bringing food plates out to the waiters’ station—they are that short on dining staff. o Dining—the Ocean Grill & Bar. Open for lunch on Deck 7 and sometimes special dinners. You will LOVE having your meal in the sun/shade, enjoying the views of the water and islands. You may even love watching the frigate birds, gliding expanded, full-winged over the Deck 7. Just incredible. Warning: one day a table of four next to us screamed, jumped up and ran to another table. I asked why. I was informed that one of those large birds pooped and it all came down on them, one iPhone and the table. So, if you’re enjoying the view and the birds, do it with your mouth closed! Also, one day the Ocean Grill & Bar had an invasion of wasps. I think the staff sprayed for them. Like I said, only 2 waiters and they didn’t clean up from the dead and dying wasps. Kind of kills the appetite. (We did not have an infinite veranda, but I was wondering of how many staying in IV Cabins left their windows wide open and received flying visitors.) The 2 waiters are very nice and accommodating, but with limited language skills, you may or may not, get what you ordered; so be prepared to send your meal back until it comes correctly. o If you heard there will be lobster, “forgetaboutit.” No such venue on the menu. • Packing. We read in many, many places that we are allowed 44 pounds per large suit case. We left so many items home (or chose light weight items) to cut the baggage weight. Did you know that at the Equator, everything weights less? Oh, how I wish I knew that! See point above on plastic bags. • Activities. The Ship’s Activity Director was a gal named Martha (she was fantastic!). Every night at 7:15, you are asked to join her and her fellow Naturalists in the Discovery Lounge to get a really good review of tomorrow’s excursions. There are morning and afternoon excursions; two to three different type each (long and short walks). You have to make a decision after that presentation and sign up for your plan. Martha was very clear about how rough the excursion can be if you are going over boulders and uneven lava terrain in order to get to the “trail” for each walk. o Most morning excursions start about 8am. (Therefore, if you like to sleep in, this is not the ship for you!) o We were look forward to snorkeling. We even bought full-face snorkel masks with vision correction! But we did NOT do any snorkel. The snorkel event was too confusing as you need to wear your swim suits under your walking clothes (as most of the snorkel happens after a walk), then don your wetsuit (everyone gets a wet suit, masks, fins, etc.). Snorkel is off a beach or off a tender for deep water snorkel and swimmers must be very good. No changing rooms on these Islands—you are in the wild, remember! o The activities are so packed into the day, that you will never be bored, and you may come home needing a vacation. We had to skip the last day’s last excursion because we needed to pack! • The Naturalists. We are so delighted with all the Naturalist that have made this trip of a life time a real experience like no other! We have all been very impressed with the many, many talents of each and every one, from Martha to the tender “captains.” • The Laundry. So happy that this in included. We used them daily (what a very nice gift to me to come home with clean clothes!). Unfortunately, they do not use the same tried and tested laundry systems used on all large cruise lines. o My note to Hotel Director: “Your laundry system is a disaster. We lost clothes on our first try. We were told by Guest Relations that our cabin steward was responsible for ensuring every piece should go back to the guest. That’s not a good system. Guest Relations should not have been quick to place blame on another staff member. Her response should have been, ‘Allow me to get all the information down and research this problem immediately and get back with you right away.’ If you ever worked/traveled on any other Celebrity ship, you would experience that all pieces of laundry are stamped with the stateroom number and tracked with the laundry ticket number. Your system needs to be changed to meet that Celebrity system standard.” • What to wear? Boy, did I miss on this point! I figured: “July, at the Equator… it’s going to be hot.” I was cold all the time. Should have taken my transformable pants (to make into shorts). Thankful we had windbreaker/rain jackets because the rides on the tenders are cool and get you wet! However, only you can be the judge of your climate comfort. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely ... Read More
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely everything! Meals, beverages, gratuities, transfers and charter flight. I would not recommend going any other way. This was a first class package.The Flora was beyond a dream. We had the Penthouse Suite and I could have been happy to spend the entire week right there. The service and accommodations were superb. There were 2 tours daily and only 8-10 people per naturalist to explore the islands. The weather was perfect, in the 70's. Celebrity provided for all our needs including wet suits, snorkels and fins. There is a laboratory on board. The tenders were easy to board and comfortable to ride. This was our first cruise on Celebrity and we have already booked another. Best cruise ever! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided ... Read More
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided to wait to make the trip on this new Ship designed specifically for these islands. I have to say that I am glad I did and the cruise exceeded all of my extremely high expectations. We chose the Penthouse Suite 625 because it looked completely amazing with its sweeping 270 degree views and awesome family area to play games and hangout (inside and outside). We're glad we chose and got 625 over 525 because we prefer the split balcony vs the single wrap around balcony. The balcony advantages include being able to see on both sides of the boat (vs limited to one side). In addition, the alcove-like side balcony allows for reading or napping in privacy while the larger main balcony is large enough for all of us to hang out together if we want ... the best of both worlds. 625 is also preferred because it is slightly higher and feels more private. We also reserved 624 which is the cabin right next to 625 for our children. I highly recommend this configuration for a family of 4 travelling. For those wondering whether getting the Penthouse suite is worth it, i would say the following: If you can afford it, do it. The Penthouse suite is unlike any other Suite I have ever seen on any boat. The panoramic views are spectacular and the extra space allows you to do things as family together (like playing board games which we love). The huge jacuzzi tub is another totally crazy amenity. Lastly, as a penthouse suite guest we made all our excursion requests through the Chief Naturalist directly after the briefing each day. Our family has been on many cruises before on Princess, RCCL and Disney and were struck by how different our experience was on the Flora vs previous MegaShips ... in a good way. The personal service and attention were superb throughout our cruise from the time we boarded to the time we disembarked. Each day was packed with shore excursions in the morning and afternoon with extremely knowledgeable Naturalists. Groups size varied from 4 - 11 for our excursions which was fantastic. The animals, plant life and landscape were extraordinary. We did not know whether to take the outer loop (our trip) or the inner loop itinerary so we chose blind on reserving. It turns out that it doesn't matter a lot since the key things we missed out on were the red-footed boobies and the iconic landscape view you always see when you search for Galapagos on Google. Don't fret, the iconic views on the outer loop are just as jaw-dropping and you get to see the waved Albatross which you can't get in the inner loop. The snorkeling excursions were amazing and wet-suits were provided to help you stay in the water longer. The food for the cruise was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The room service menu was limited but was still good enough. Andrea was in charge of Hotel Services and did a excellent job of making sure all her guest were having a good time and enjoying. She even arranged a visit for us to see the Bridge and have Captain Vladimir explain how the Flora operated. Service throughout the ship was excellent. Hymena was our cabin attendant and she always made our room clean, neat and comfy. The waitstaff in the dinning room knew your favorites/preferences after your first day and provided terrific service as well. Last but not least, were the team of Naturalist who took us on all the excursions. They were super knowledgeable, friendly and answered all the questions we through at them. Even though this is a new boat, Celebrity staffed the Flora with their best Galapagos Naturalists to get this new boat off to a good start. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to ... Read More
The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to get yourself to Baltra, nearly all-inclusive ten or 11-day package with days in Quito before and after, or the former including $1500 flight credit per person. They call the latter "free flights" but you actually pay $1500 per person or in our case, $1500 for person one and $750 for person two with the buy one get one half off promotion for $3000 worth of flight credits. If you have miles or can find a cheaper route, just get the all inclusive less flights to save the money. However, you will forego Flights by Celebrity support to ensure that you get to the cruise. One downside to using Celebrity for flights: you have to call them on the phone. Do your searches ahead of time. Their prices were similar to published fares and you can use the full credit for first class and pay the difference. We took an AA flight through Miami that used up about $2600 worth of the credits. The first-class fares were way too expensive so we forfeited the $400 credit and had to pay AA for better seats too. Each cabin accommodates a maximum two individuals, adults or children. If you are solo, the single supplement is nearly double. If you have kids, you have to pay the full fare for them in additional rooms. There might be some allowance for infants, but I am not aware of it. The park limits the cruise to 100 passengers so don't expect the usual accommodations for children as overflow guests. There is nothing on here especially for kids. No game consoles. No kids areas. No baby sitters. No kids menus as best I saw. The adventures require good physical fitness over uneven terrain near wild animals that bite if you get too close. I would not recommend it for children. You can forego the adventures but it probably isn't worth paying $10K per person to go on this trip if you are not going on the adventures. One piece of bad news: the arrival times to Quito tend to be late and the takeoff times tend to be midnight and 5 AM so you have to burn up full days on both ends traveling to the US. There is one flight through Panama City on Copa that is better, but it was expensive and you could get stuck in Panama because there are not many alternative flights if something happens. The arrival flights to Quito tend to have a quorum of cruisers so start getting to know your fellow passengers when you see the Celebrity sign. This was a very friendly cruise where all but the large groups were very interactive. Expect to be tired for most of the trip because it is very active and starts early every day. Day one is a bus and walking tour of Quito. It was nice to see but I could have used the sleep. Three meals were included. Day two you fly on a chartered A319 run by Avianca Ecuador from Quito to Baltra. That means another bus ride to Quito airport, about 50 minutes from the JW Marriott. The Celebrity team hands out boarding passes the morning of the flight. You can buy upgrades to first class for around $250 a person per direction. The Avianca staff was accommodating with seat change requests. The ride is about 100 minutes. You drop off your luggage by 5:30 AM in the hotel and it gets inspected and transferred to Baltra so prepare to drop it off the night before and keep your clothes and toiletries. Good news: there are no liquid restrictions on domestic flights. When you arrive, you are placed in a lounge until your section is called. You get on a bus and head for the dock. Instead of boarding the ship, you board a 20-person inflatable, motorized zodiac raft. Your luggage gets transferred and delivered to your cabin so you only need to take your personal items on the raft. Each time you board the zodiac, you have to don a life jacket. The wildlife part of the adventure starts then. Sea lions and birds will be around the zodiac either fishing or sleeping. Watch out for poop. One person got bombed by a bird on one of the adventures. You take Zodiacs between shore and the ship because Flora never docks. It uses a dynamic positioning system to stabilize itself against counter currents. It is a neat idea but the thruster motor sounds were annoying to some passengers with cabins near the front or back of the boat. The system keeps the ship’s anchor from destroying the seafloor. All the other ships in the area use anchors. Boarding the zodiacs can be dangerous so you have to be careful. The zodiacs perform “wet landings” and “dry landings”. Dry landings are against rocks or a dock. Wet landings are generally a beach shore. If you time the waves well, you can generally keep from getting your shoes wet but don’t expect everything to be dry. These zodiacs have a squared-off front with an articulating platform and a stairway so they are much safer than the older zodiacs that require you to crawl over a tube to get on or off. I rolled up my pantlegs to my knees and never once had anything above my knee wet including my backpack. The flora and fauna… wow! It was better than I had seen in pictures and videos. The theory of evolution is obvious in plain sight. There are piles of marine iguanas on shorelines. Sea lions are sleeping, nursing, and rolling around in the water. Land iguanas are guarding their food sources. Giant tortoises are roaming around. Penguins are perched and swimming. So many birds and crabs! I cannot do the animal and plant life justice so suffice to say, it will far exceed your expectations. The rule is to keep a safe distance (~6 ft) from the animals. Although the animals are wild, if you respect the distance rule you will be fine. The adventures area all included so do as many as you like but expect they will wear you out. Each day has a morning and afternoon adventure in two places. The evening before, a group meeting is held in the Discovery Lounge where you select which adventure you want. Most are either a longer, harder version or a shorter, easier version in the same area. A handful of times, you can opt for an ocean kayak or “deep water snorkel” from the zodiac. The naturalists are limited to 16 guests per leader but they try to keep it to 12. They had plenty of naturalists to allow guests to select the adventures they wanted. The only constrained resource was the kayaks but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem on our trip. You arrive the next morning in the Discovery Lounge to get tender tickets. We were always in Tender 1 which was a de facto cohort of energetic, able-bodied, younger travelers. The tender number tended to correlate with physical ability. The “deep water snorkel” adventures meant feeling comfortable floating in the ocean for ~45 minutes using a snorkel and mask where the water is too deep to stand. In return for this effort, we saw and swam with sea lions, turtles, many fish, and even one octopus. One word of advice: take the tender number that corresponds to your interest and ability. If you want a slower place or are less prepared, take one of the later tenders. While they have “rules” about footwear and ability, they are not strictly enforced which can be a conflict when you have well-prepared guests in the first tender and then some slower, less able guests join an early tender with walking sticks and improper footwear. I was one of those people with improper footwear once and powered through it over rough lava and could have hurt myself. On nearly all the adventures, there were plenty of naturalists where you could bow out and let the group continue on if you got hurt, sick, tired, or wanted to return to the ship early. I don’t mean to present the picture that you have to be in great shape to enjoy this cruise. It isn’t handicapped accessible, but there are many older people who enjoyed a slower-paced group. As long as you go with the proper group, you should have a good time. The meals are good, but I have had better on other cruises. There was a Michelin-starred chef on our cruise overseeing the cuisine but he departed with us. The supply of food is constrained by park regulation – Ecuadorian regulations specifying that raw food must be partially cooked before transport to the Galapagos Islands to minimize risk of spread of organisms, for instance. Many of the menus had substitutions because items were unavailable that season or in the park at that time. It would have been easier to reprint the menus that posting the incorrect version for the day and then later finding out that the item wasn’t available as described. There are two eating venues: an open-air top deck and a main dining room. The open-air venue has a more limited menu including burgers, chicken, and fish for lunch and steak, fish, and chicken for dinner. The lunch fries were great when freshly fried. All venues have vegetarian options but were not well suited for people with special diets such as vegan, gluten free or kosher. For instance, there was one toaster and few indications that items were suited for special diets. The staff was good with my food allergies, but I was also careful to make sure I did not try anything in the buffet that may cause anaphylaxis. The staff on this cruise is exceptional. It is much more intimate than a typical cruise because of the size. We had various issues and suggestions. They were quick to address the issues they could. While the dining staff was working very hard and still had additional labor of the training staff that departed with us, the dining room was understaffed and will likely be worse on subsequent cruises without the training staff. Often times, you had to wait or ask for refills, and buffet plates would pile up on the table while the staff was attending to other guests. You get better service if you get there when the dining room opens. They even remember your drink preferences and have them ready for you without asking. The standard rooms are nice and spacious but the suite moniker has been overused. The base “suites” were larger standard ship rooms without any kind of dividers between living and sleeping areas you would expect with a suite. We had a standard balcony which I would recommend over the infinite veranda which does not have a proper balcony, just a sliding window. Standard rooms allow you to put out your clothes to dry and cost less. In the hall near the closet, the carpet was getting wet. There were a few people who had this issue. While the wet socks were annoying, we were thankful that they did not tear up our room to fix the issue while we were on the cruise. The bathrooms have gradually frosted glass that allows you to see out while standing up. Some complained about the lack of privacy because you can look into the bathroom from the bedroom. However, you would have to try hard to see anything. Another drawback of the window is that it doesn’t contain sounds or light as well. We covered up the bathroom nightlight because it made the room glow. The sinks were poorly designed. There is a small filtered, refrigerated water dispenser basin that always made a mess when used for rinsing a toothbrush. We had to put the shower mat under that area because the water went on the floor. The main basin is large but does not drain well because it is mostly flat. The shower is very nice, but the controls were awkwardly placed behind the door that opens inward. For larger people, you may not fit in this shower because of the inswinging door. As any ship toilet, it is very loud and you can hear others flushing throughout the night. Each cabin has a stocked refrigerator, TV, and many US-style plugs. The TV does not get many channels and cut out so do not expect to use it much. They do not print a daily cruise guide unless you ask for it, but it does play on channel 2 of the TV on loop. We would take a picture of the daily schedule as it looped by. The internet generally worked well. It is satellite so expect lots of latency. I was able to make short calls over WiFi. Expect to get about 5 Mbps, plenty to stay connected but do not expect your photos to quickly send. The islands have very poor or non-existent cellular service. Expect to use the ship for your connectivity. The ship was blocking my VPN. I was able to stream from YouTube but expect paid streaming services to block your access because you are out of the country. The passengers were mostly upper middle class native English speakers from the US. For many, this was a bucket list trip. While the trip was expensive, the people were down to earth and pleasant. They arranged Spanish-speaking groups for those who preferred Spanish but the default language was English. The trip exceeded my expectations. The crew and passengers were very nice. The ship was better than the renderings. At the end of the cruise, we were surprised with a USB key containing the pictures from the naturalists and crew. The day after returning to Quito, Celebrity offers excursions for $140 to $190 a person. We had the JW Marriott arrange a tour through a local operator for half the cost. We had a private van take us bird watching and hiking. It dropped us at the airport that evening. There is a private lounge outside of security with a shower for $36 a person. There is a Centurion Lounge past security with a shower and great food. Either lounge was free with Priority Pass. Packing list Comfortable walking shoes Hiking shoes if you want to traverse the lava flows Water shoes Large sun hat Sun shirt Convertible sun pants Rain shell Sun block Bathing suit to fit comfortably under a wetsuit such as a Speedo for men Bathing suit for kayaking Ship supplied: Drinking bottle Wet suit Walking sticks Binoculars Life vest Diving mask Snorkel Slippers Bathrobe Lip balm Small backpack Rain poncho Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Celebrity Flora Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.6
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family 2.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.7
Enrichment 5.0 4.7
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.1

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