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Sail Date: February 2019
This was a bucket list item for me and my friend. I wanted to see what Darwin saw in 1835, and he wanted to see the Galapagos tortoises, since he has two "normal size" tortoises as pets. Our wives had no interest in going, so we ... Read More
This was a bucket list item for me and my friend. I wanted to see what Darwin saw in 1835, and he wanted to see the Galapagos tortoises, since he has two "normal size" tortoises as pets. Our wives had no interest in going, so we shared a room together. We wanted to spend time in Quito, Ecuador, so opted for the time in Quito before and after the islands. We flew into Quito from our departure airport, and almost immediately I felt the altitude. I told my friend to slow down, as we walked off the plane, as I felt hot, and out of breath. This only lasted for a day, however he would react far worse than me on the return to Quito. Upon exiting Customs, were met by Anna, who corralled us all together. We then had about a 45 minute bus ride to the JW Marriott in Quito. As you will see, I cannot say anything negative at all about the hotel, as the hotel itself is impressive, the staff was responsive to our needs, and the food we ate there was quite good. The next day, we went on a city tour with Joanna, our very knowledgeable and pleasant tour guide. Lunch was at a very nice restaurant. All during the tour we were also accompanied by a security person. I was told by a policeman to mind my expensive camera, as motorcyclists were known to snatch and grab items from tourists. Our group was bused to a very nice restaurant for dinner that night, quite good. As the bus was waiting for the last few people, some kids came to the bus door and tried to sell us candy and other items. The next day, we all got up early for a breakfast buffet followed by the 45 minute bus ride back to the Quito airport for the about 2 plus hour flight to the Galapagos, about 868 air miles. We landed in at the Baltra Island Airport, and were assailed immediately by the heat and humidity. We took rigid inflatable Zodiacs to the ship, 16 people to a Zodiac, the only was on and off the ship. We would find out that there were wet landings (beach shoes), and dry ones (walking shoes). Our cabin was 316, on deck 3, third cabin from the bow. If I had it to do over, We would have gotten a cabin on decks 4 or 5. Our cabin was always warm, despite the efforts of the crew to make it cooler, plus we had to be close to the anchor locker, as every time we did anchor, it sounded like the chain was coming thru the wall. It was a small cabin, but did have plenty of storage for our clothes and gear. Each day, we went to a different island, under the knowledgeable care of a naturalist. Bettina was the Cruise Director, and her staff of naturalists (Martha, William, Diego, Manuel, David and Victoria) were quite good. They were all pleasant and answered every question thrown at them. We would have a hike in the morning and afternoon, with several days followed by snorkeling. My fitbit showed me walking anywhere from 5 to 8 miles per day. This was either on sandy beaches, rocky or volcanic trails. At the end of a day, when we returned in the Zodiacs, mostly everyone was quite tired. There were also cold drinks for everyone when we arrived back each day. Being tired did not stop us from talking amongst ourselves as to what we saw. It was quite distressing to see, even there, the amount of plastic washed up on the beaches. We also observed a sea lion with netting stuck around its body. The second day, I opted to not use a walking stick on a rocky trail, and ended up sustaining some deep cuts to mostly my left shin. Martha, our assigned naturalist, with the advice and assistance of several doctors on our hike, managed to apply a lot of gauze and bandages. I was checked out by the ships doctor upon arrival on the ship. Unfortunately, that curtailed my snorkeling. I used a walking stick after that! I have to say that all the activities were correctly characterized, as to difficult and distance by Bettina before dinner preceding each day. Pictures and maps during her talk explained the following day. We did see what we came to the Galapagos to see. There were plenty of Marine and Land Iguanas, Nazca, Blue and Red Boobies, plenty of Sea Lions and a handful of Penguins. Of course, we saw many of the two, distinctly different Galapagos Tortoises. The main difference is in the shells, to allow one sort to reach the high bushes. Those folks that snorkeled saw lots of sea turtles, and many kinds and sizes of fish. You did have to be careful, as on my cruise, I scraped my shin, a woman fell and hit her head, another landed on a cactus with her hand, and there were a number of wasp stings. I would be difficult to med-evac someone in a timely fashion if they were really sick/hurt. But, as I said above, the cruise staff took care of the guests quite well. Meals on the ship were not gourmet like on the big cruise ships, but they were good. I especially liked the lunches. They had four lunches in which they highlighted certain cultures. The four the head Chef Roger highlighted were: Chinese, Amazonian, Ecuadorian and Asian. I ate mostly fish for my dinner entree, and especially liked the red scorpion fish, native to the Galapagos waters. Towards the end of the cruise, there was a BBQ, very nice. And, as with the big ships, an exhibition of the musical talents of the crew. All of the guests were invited to a ships party on deck 6 to meet and talk with the senior staff. The Master, Captaincies Pacheco, and his hotel counterpart, Hotel Director John Flynn, were the hosts. I got to see the ships Doctor who asked me how my leg was doing. We also had a crossing-the-equator party. We also went to a private farm for a lunch after a reforestation effort by most of us. Native dances in costumes followed a good lunch. On the whole, except for my fall, it was a great trip. We had a good time on the ship, and saw what we came so far to see. I especially liked when we were leaving the ship, that the Captain and Hotel Director shook each person's hand as we left. They waved goodby as we left for our last Zodiac trip. As someone who has been on several Celebrity ships, this continued the classy aspects of the trips my wife and I have had on Celebrity. My friend also enjoyed himself on the ship. We then flew back to Quito and checked into the JW Marriott again. My friend then started having a very bad reaction to the altitude, and with a half hour of his request, there was an oxygen machine in our room. The next morning, were were supposed to go on a tour, but he was still hurting. The hotel arranged for us to go to a local pharmacy to get some medication, as well as providing for for us to eat on the excursion bus. We went to a number of location, all at lower altitudes, which helped my friend. During the excursion the concierge called our guide and arranged for us to go back in our same room upon return, to give him another 4 hors of oxygen until our ride back to the airport that night. That to me was a very nice thing to do, and shows that the Marriott staff there takes care of their guests. All in all, this was a great trip, with Celebrity and the Marriott doing an outstanding job. Read Less
19 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
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Sail Date: December 2018
We have sailed with Celebrity a few times and almost all of our experiences have been excellent. This trip was no different. Although the ship is going for a complete refit this year, it was kept in good order and well organised. Our room ... Read More
We have sailed with Celebrity a few times and almost all of our experiences have been excellent. This trip was no different. Although the ship is going for a complete refit this year, it was kept in good order and well organised. Our room was well designed, so although smaller than large ship cabins, it was fine. All of the ship's staff are excellent, the service in the bar and dining room, rooms, reception staff etc. could not be faulted. The cruise director and officers were great, always accessible and always very attentive to passengers. Entertainment is low key, but the full days' activities mean that most people do not stay up late. There was a choice of different 'difficulty' levels of tours to choose from morning and afternoon. We got the tours we chose easily and there was flexibility for change if needed, All of the tours were full of beauty, interest and amazing experiences. We did the Mach Picchu and Sacred Valley extension which was also wonderful. Overall, a very full, fascinating trip. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Bucket list cruise. Crew was great and the onshore staff too. If you don't like the cattle call feel of the big ships, this for you. Two to three excursions a day will keep you busy and teach you how to get on and off the Zodiacs. ... Read More
Bucket list cruise. Crew was great and the onshore staff too. If you don't like the cattle call feel of the big ships, this for you. Two to three excursions a day will keep you busy and teach you how to get on and off the Zodiacs. Food not as lavish as the big ships but still very good and plentiful. Cabins are not huge, but they're comfortable. I've been on 20+ cruises, at least 7 or 8 on Celebrity. This may. Have been the best. The crew has a strong percentage native Galapogonians plus mainland Ecuadorians. They seem genuinely and sincerely happy that you are there. It's a nice feeling. They offer easy and more strenuous excursions. But even the older folk could handle it. The all inclusive aspect means you're probably not going to spend any more money. I highly recommend this to the adventurous and semi fit people out there. Saw some bad reviews about fitness and recreation, the excursions take care of this. There are no big "shows", but they keep you busy and entertained. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Very disappointed. Not up to Celebrity standard we expected. The ship was old and tired. Too many people on board for common rooms. Could not get seat during briefings. Had to wait in line for everything. Dining room crowded and poor ... Read More
Very disappointed. Not up to Celebrity standard we expected. The ship was old and tired. Too many people on board for common rooms. Could not get seat during briefings. Had to wait in line for everything. Dining room crowded and poor lay out. Food was awful and service just OK. Service in our suite was lacking. Half the days we didn't get out snacks as promised. Room was dirty and never vaccumed. Tv service in room was terrible ..only two/three channels of old movies or documentaries and no information on excursions. Staff was just doing minimum. Waste of time and money. Th excursions we disappointing. Didn't like lining up for reservations and the next day for tickets and second time. Then wait for you number to be called in lounge to go on excursions. I didn't go on vacations to stand in lines. Must be a better system. Not a relaxing trip at all. Hot tub was dirty and cold so could not use. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
As you probably know this ship will be refurbished and re done and a new one is taking its place, I believe, in 2020. The ship, thus, looks a little tired, but it is very clean. The state rooms are among the smallest I've seen, even ... Read More
As you probably know this ship will be refurbished and re done and a new one is taking its place, I believe, in 2020. The ship, thus, looks a little tired, but it is very clean. The state rooms are among the smallest I've seen, even the suites, but you won't spend a long time in the room. My only criticism would be the snorkeling equipment, the fins in particular are lacking, they don't have inventory in the most common sizes and the same with the wet suits most of which show a great deal of wear and are broken in places. Fins and a wet suit are essential in this cruise and at this price the equipment should be in top shape. The bar is another thing that needs minding. There is only one bar and it's the hang out place when you are cruising or after excursions. The bar has very limited selections and the bartenders are hit and miss with the drinks. Other than that Celebrity provides a great experience from the moment you touch down in Quito. The places they take you, the food, the hotel, it's all done very organized. Staff is all terrific. The ship's food is very good, not fancy, but fresh and delicious. The meat is pre cooked before it reaches the ship so you may want to opt for the sea food items which are local and fresh, specially the langoustines which are a delicacy State side and quite expensive. Some tips. If you are not used to snorkeling in cold water, buy a hood, it's cheap and (along with the wet suit) will keep you warm. Seconds after the initial shock of cold water, I forgot all about it, and I'm used to Miami water. More than half the life in the Galapagos is under water, if you don't do the snorkeling you miss half the trip. Invest in a small water camera, I got an Olympus TG 5, while the photos were ok (most of the time the water was cloudy) the under water video was terrific. You also need a camera with a good zoom lens, I only took the water camera and it was a mistake. While some of the wildlife is close a zoom will give you amazing shots. Regarding the Galapagos in general. We are an avid wildlife loving family, traveled the Andes, Amazon, Africa, etc, and have stayed in luxury camps and candle light only shacks. The wild life and terrain in the Galapagos is unique, but not varied and the cruise experience, specially when paying for a family, lacks value. This is not a trip that touched my heart or something I want to do again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
As a retirement trip, we booked (2years ahead) the Galápagos Islands (Inner Loop) and Machu Picchu trip with the Celebrity Xpedition as our ship in the Galápagos Islands. It was every bit of what we expected and more! From our arrival ... Read More
As a retirement trip, we booked (2years ahead) the Galápagos Islands (Inner Loop) and Machu Picchu trip with the Celebrity Xpedition as our ship in the Galápagos Islands. It was every bit of what we expected and more! From our arrival in Quito, until our departure from Cusco to Miami, the Celebrity experience was awesome! Every step of the way, Celebrity had us involved with first class food, service, experiences, and entertainment. As for altitude, the staff provided 5 minutes of oxygen to John when we stopped for lunch on our first day in Cusco. It worked, and his slight headache stopped. Bugs were no problem (June 15-30,2018). Activities were provided for all abilities groups in both the water and on the land in the Galápagos. Plenty of walking and stairs (uneven) on the Machu Picchu adventure. Again, Celebrity has provided for outstanding activities in both the Galápagos Islands and Machu Picchu! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in there hands until we returned to the JW Marriott in Quito a week after boarding the ship. All aspects of the trip were well done, and every one of the Celebrity folks was helpful, and easy to work with. The naturalists were knowledgeable, interesting, and really enhanced each excursion. Also as others have said, the excursions are why you sign up for this cruise. Others on this board really helped me decide what to pack and what to leave home. I strongly suggest you get a list of items to pack and follow it - especially the wide brim hats, shoes, long sleeve shirts (for sun), and sunblock (at least SPF 50). My wife and I are 66 and 67 respectively and in reasonably good shape with minimal problems getting around. That said, we were pretty tired by the end of the week. As explained in other posts, the daily itinerary follows the same pattern - a morning excursion, back to the boat by lunch, and an afternoon excursion. Almost all of the excursions have an easier and more challenging flavor. We did the more challenging on all but a couple, which involved long, climbing walks... The snorkeling also comes in two flavors - "off the beach", which is exactly as it sounds, and deep water - which is where you are taken by zodiac to the snorkeling spot and jump in off the zodiac. Water is too deep to stand, and currents can be much stronger. Water temperature was about 74 - 77, and Celebrity provides wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins. One suggestion - bring some sort of book/app/device that will help you identify constellations. Star gazing is outstanding - no light pollution. I give the trip 5 stars because the excursions were well done and the experience on the ship was very good. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
A very good Galapagos cruise I chose this cruise and itinerary in order to see the Galápagos Islands in comfort on a celebrity cruise ship I chose the seven day cruise which meant I had time to arrange my own itinerary in Quito As ... Read More
A very good Galapagos cruise I chose this cruise and itinerary in order to see the Galápagos Islands in comfort on a celebrity cruise ship I chose the seven day cruise which meant I had time to arrange my own itinerary in Quito As well as staying for a couple of nights on the islands prior to embarkation I spent two nights in Quito at hotel Casona to La Ronde which is a lovely colonial hotel in the old quarter I undertook a day tour to see volcanoes hummingbirds and the cloud forest which was a brilliant experience I then spent two nights at hotel Solla Verde Santa Cruz Island The hotel is located in the highlands A 20 minute taxi ride into Puerto Ayora Very clean comfortable boutique hotel with lush vegetation and a pet giant tortoise Day trip to North Seymour Idlsnd which the hotel advised having looked at the itinerary for expedition Amazing wildlife including Sally Lightfoot crabs seals blue footed boobies and many other species The trip include snorkelling the highlight of which was seeing turtles Which were inquisitive swimming around us Embarkation was smooth There is no pier side check in as individual travellars we were met at the airport where there was a short wait in a reserved area with other guests on the seven day itinerary Most of The passengers who were on charter flights were delayed by some hours and we had the privilege of being taken onto Xpeditiob after a short wait At the airport The only way to embark is by zodiac so this would not suit any passengers with significant walking difficulties the same is true for all visits to the islands from Xpedition The ship seemed clean with a very friendly crew There is no elevator which is not a problem for passengers that can manage to get in and out of the zodiacs I had an suite which was a good size with a small balcony but cannot comment on the size of the routine cabins which I understand are quite small The only problem with the cabin was the wardrobe doors were difficult to shut and opened spontaneously which could not be fixed during the cruise The cabin was otherwise clean and was more than satisfactory The only slight problem was the dining which is not all celebrities fault Meat has to be partly precooked before import into the Galapagos Islands which affected the quality of the meat Fish alternative was somewhat over cooked especially the shellfish but I guess they have to do this to avoid Gastro intestinal upset Every evening the cruise director informed us in a very entertaining way about the next days activities giving everyone a choice The activities In groups of up to 16 passengers were excellent with well informed guides Prior to activities most passengers would have assemble in the lounge and there was some disorganisation as passengers vied to go into the first groups Selection by giving passengers ticket numbers as they do on the tendering process on the larger ships would’ve made for a more organised procedure that this is a minor complaint The extent of wildlife seen was amazing and overall the trip was very enjoyable and fulfiilled my expectations Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Our bucket list has always included seeing the Galapagos Islands and as Celebrity offered a post cruise visit to Peru's Sacred Valley and MachuPiccu, the choice seemed easy. The Xpedition is the largest of Celebrity's vessels ... Read More
Our bucket list has always included seeing the Galapagos Islands and as Celebrity offered a post cruise visit to Peru's Sacred Valley and MachuPiccu, the choice seemed easy. The Xpedition is the largest of Celebrity's vessels that visit the islands though it needs to be said, this is not a large ship with a maximum capacity of 98 guests. The trip begins in Quito with a tour and overnight followed by a flight to Baltra and a Zodiac to the ship. All went as planned without a hitch. On board, cabins are on the smallish side though there are some larger suites.Each day of the cruise there are two stops. Alternative excursions are presented the night before and one signs up for their preference as to degree of effort required, e.g. hikes, snorkels, etc. This is one of the few areas where Celebrity can use some improvement. Guests appeared mostly Type A's and so the time for sign up was not pleasant. Perhaps they could have a computerized system for sign up or use the excursion process that is used on their other vessels. 16 guests to each naturalist heads out the next morning, returning to the ship for lunch and then repeating the process after lunch. Again, here, a bit of improvement is warranted: there was some jockeying for position to get on the first zodiac to shore which is disruptive. All the excursions were incredible- lots of wildlife and excellent guides to help one understand the uniqueness of the environment. The food was good but not exceptional, perhaps because of the restrictions on what can be brought to the region. The chef tried hard to vary dinner options but overall it is not what one expects on typical Celebrity cruises. A dinner highlight is dining out on the deck under the stars. Really something to see. As this is all inclusive, drinks, wine and beer are available at any time. Don't expect to see single malts on the shelf, though. There is little in the way of entertainment but after a day outdoors, an early bedtime is typical. Also, there were no kids at all; it appeared the youngest may have been 40 or so though the group is quite active all day. At the end of the cruise, the zodiac ride and a flight back to Quito occur. We went on to the Peru portion of the trip as did about 40 others and met up with a few from Celebrity's smaller Galapagos vessels. This portion of the trip had incredible highs but some lows as well especially as to all the connections required. From Quito, we board a flight to Lima. The traffic in Lima is Kafkaesque-- 90 minutes for a ~ 10 mile ride to the hotel only to be repeated in the opposite direction early the next morning for the flight to Cuzco- another 90 minute bus ride. The trip to Casa Hacienda Orihuela is long and a bit tedious but once in the Sacred Valley, amazing to see. The next day we tour Inka ruins and lunch at Wayra Ranch for an equestrian show. Then off to Machu Picchu which defies description. All tours require some climbing an at altitude so this is not trivial sight seeing! We return from Machu Picchu ( to Cuzco) and have dinner on the Train: Hiram Bingham. This day can use some work. It is an early morning train to the site, a climb through the ruins, then lunch and then scheduled "nothing and tea time followed by the train ride to Cuzco (with dinner). Thje group convenced our guide to forgo the tea and give us some time in the Pueblo Machu Picchu where we pick up the train. The original plan has far too much down time with little to fill it. As modified, it was more interesting. A day of Cuzco touring follows then a day with a half day tour of Lima and then to the hotel. Transfers are provided from the hotel to the airport at appropriate times. This post cruise portion has pluses and minuses: On the positive side, the sights are incredible and almost not to be believed. All hotels are first rate: Westins and J.W. Marriotts- what appeared to be the most upscale in the region. The Hotel Monestario a former monastery, was truly most interesting. The guides and staff most accommodating considering we were a group of 50 with at least 60 opinions. Meals were very good though not quite excellent; language is a bit of a problem. As a not very important but illustrative example, I ordered a gin martini and received a glass of ice, a bit of Vermouth and a bottle of ginger ale. On the downside, traffic in Lima and Cuzco is near the worst though not the worst I've experienced. No such thing as following traffic rules. Also, far too much time spent on fancy long lunches when the reason to be there is too see and experience the culture not to eat. This is a trip to do once! it is costly and tiring but mind opening and beautiful. One needs to be prepared for a few physical challenges and certainly challenges to one's patience. A few changes by Celebrity kcould make this a 5 star experience. 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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