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.)
Cabin was amazing. Bed was comfortable. Bathroom design was incredible. Everything always worked and we always had hot water. Plenty of storage. We never felt cramped. It is NOT suite, despite the name. And it doesn't come with suite service (despite the advertisement that it does), but it is a nice cabin.
Our guide had terrible English and kept speaking to our group (almost all of whom have professional degrees) like we were kindergartners. We were taken to the Surquillo market where she pointed out various fruits and vegetables, like we didn't know what a tomato or potato looked like. She would tell us such banal things as: "The market is where we go to get foods that we cook in our meals. In the market you will see fruits and vegetables. You will see things like quinoa which is white or black. There are many different kinds of potatoes."
It was such a waste of time that over half the group took a cab back to the hotel where we all returned to our double queen rooms. Celebrity neglected to inform any of us that we would be there during the Pan American games and that they had books us at the same hotel where the games were headquartered, meaning no King rooms were available. That's fine, and if they had told me that in advance I would have understood. Instead what happened is that I asked Celebrity for a King, they told me a King was confirmed, and then when I showed up I found out that they lied.
I called Celebrity today to see if I could get King rooms for the rest of my trip and after 30 minutes on hold, they told me to call back tomorrow (DURING MY VACATION) because there was only one person who could help me and she is gone for the day.