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We were looking for a smaller ship that could take us into more secluded areas to better explore the land and sea life of the Galapagos, without the crowds. The Celebrity Xploration was ideal for this-- extremely comfortable accommodations, excellent food and service, and lots of fun activities-- including hiking and diving each day to see specific scenes and wildlife specimens or behaviors (which of course, is outstanding and unique in the Galapagos Islands). Our Captain Natalie (allegedly the only female Captain in the Celebrity line?!) was capable, and ran a tight ship! Fernando and his crew provided the "on-board" services for this small vessel (16 guests total in 8 guestrooms) very smartly, with excellent, bottomless food and drinks, plenty of room to lounge in shade or sun, cleaned-up cabins several times daily, etc. The dining area was very classy, and we could all recount our daily adventures while enjoying lots of local fish (and other meats as well of course), along with comida tipico such as fried plantains and tropical fruits-- prepared with a light gourmet touch. John Garate was our naturalist guide, with excellent "local" as well as "academic" knowledge of the Galapagos Islands. John grew up in the Galapagos, but also had a Master's degree in wildlife and conservation studies from a Univ in the USA... he was articulate and humorous, and handled well the motley crew of guests, who ranged widely in their physical capabilities (some were snorkeling for their first time!) and interests (some were determined to learn the differences between Nazca and Blue-footed boobies, while others were content to just enjoy seeing so much unusual wildlife). John is also an excellent water-man, who can dive down deep into the green with your GoPro to get close-ups of the plentiful (but largely benign) sharks and other sea life. The Galapagos Islands themselves are a wonderful destination, with unique wildlife-- huge numbers of "tame" sea lions and marine iguanas, and lots of species that occur nowhere else in the world. But also the scenery is to dream for-- both above and below water: you'll be taken to beautiful deserted white or green sand beaches, or snorkel among huge schools of colorful fish being dive-bombed by pelicans and boobies. At night the Captain guides the boat to the next island. So you wake up in a new port near another deserted island where further unique scenery and wildlife await. It is totally cool! My only reservation is that the Celebrity Xploration does cater to the "cruise" crowd as well as a "nature" crowd-- so the clientele are not ALL totally stoked about hiking and diving as much as possible. Most of the passengers on my trip were older (60+ y.o.), and along to enjoy a "cruise experience" as well- with the food, drinks and relaxation. There may be other Galapagos cruise experiences where the "cruising" is more just to get to the next island for diving and hiking, rather than "Cruising" to enjoy the sun deck where you can sip on endless piña coladas. Our ship's vibe was definitely not a Party boat (we saw others that seemed way more so), nor was it a hardcore Nature boat, where everyone is going over their GoPro or DSLR footage with their nature guides out debating what species of finches were seen. Not complaining-- just explaining!

Excellent service, fascinating destinations & activities, great naturalist guide

Celebrity Xploration Cruise Review by mpsaloha

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2018
  • Destination: South America
  • Cabin Type: Junior Suite with Veranda
We were looking for a smaller ship that could take us into more secluded areas to better explore the land and sea life of the Galapagos, without the crowds. The Celebrity Xploration was ideal for this-- extremely comfortable accommodations, excellent food and service, and lots of fun activities-- including hiking and diving each day to see specific scenes and wildlife specimens or behaviors (which of course, is outstanding and unique in the Galapagos Islands).

Our Captain Natalie (allegedly the only female Captain in the Celebrity line?!) was capable, and ran a tight ship! Fernando and his crew provided the "on-board" services for this small vessel (16 guests total in 8 guestrooms) very smartly, with excellent, bottomless food and drinks, plenty of room to lounge in shade or sun, cleaned-up cabins several times daily, etc.

The dining area was very classy, and we could all recount our daily adventures while enjoying lots of local fish (and other meats as well of course), along with comida tipico such as fried plantains and tropical fruits-- prepared with a light gourmet touch.

John Garate was our naturalist guide, with excellent "local" as well as "academic" knowledge of the Galapagos Islands. John grew up in the Galapagos, but also had a Master's degree in wildlife and conservation studies from a Univ in the USA... he was articulate and humorous, and handled well the motley crew of guests, who ranged widely in their physical capabilities (some were snorkeling for their first time!) and interests (some were determined to learn the differences between Nazca and Blue-footed boobies, while others were content to just enjoy seeing so much unusual wildlife). John is also an excellent water-man, who can dive down deep into the green with your GoPro to get close-ups of the plentiful (but largely benign) sharks and other sea life.

The Galapagos Islands themselves are a wonderful destination, with unique wildlife-- huge numbers of "tame" sea lions and marine iguanas, and lots of species that occur nowhere else in the world. But also the scenery is to dream for-- both above and below water: you'll be taken to beautiful deserted white or green sand beaches, or snorkel among huge schools of colorful fish being dive-bombed by pelicans and boobies.

At night the Captain guides the boat to the next island. So you wake up in a new port near another deserted island where further unique scenery and wildlife await. It is totally cool!

My only reservation is that the Celebrity Xploration does cater to the "cruise" crowd as well as a "nature" crowd-- so the clientele are not ALL totally stoked about hiking and diving as much as possible. Most of the passengers on my trip were older (60+ y.o.), and along to enjoy a "cruise experience" as well- with the food, drinks and relaxation. There may be other Galapagos cruise experiences where the "cruising" is more just to get to the next island for diving and hiking, rather than "Cruising" to enjoy the sun deck where you can sip on endless piña coladas. Our ship's vibe was definitely not a Party boat (we saw others that seemed way more so), nor was it a hardcore Nature boat, where everyone is going over their GoPro or DSLR footage with their nature guides out debating what species of finches were seen. Not complaining-- just explaining!
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Cabin Review

Junior Suite with Veranda
Cabin XJ 201
The Cabin was perfectly adequate for us-- roomy enough to spread out, with a small private lanai that enabled us to dry out wet clothes, and to chill at night while watching the nocturnal swallow-tailed gulls fly along with us as we cruised to the next destination. Our cabin was clean and well-appointed. It was nice to not have people walking past our room (since it was a private lanai with no external passage)-- so we could keep our curtains open 24hrs.

Really, however, you'll mainly just sleep in your cabin. All the fun stuff is in the water or on the islands, or in the community areas drinking, dining, or taking a siesta
Main Deck Suite Cabins