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Celebrity Flora Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
20 Reviews

Amazing Experience - thanks Celebrity!

Celebrity Flora Cruise Review by KathyL2537

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Aug 2019
  • Destination: South America

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.

KathyL2537's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
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Shore Excursions
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