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2,380 South America Cruise Reviews

the ship it self is still in quite good condition ,the cabins are well laid out and spacious , the staff were friendly and helpful ,especially in the ensemble lounge. this is not a family vacation ship as there are no slippery slides , ... Read More
the ship it self is still in quite good condition ,the cabins are well laid out and spacious , the staff were friendly and helpful ,especially in the ensemble lounge. this is not a family vacation ship as there are no slippery slides , wall climbing , surfing etc, only indoor kids area, which we were glad about, unruly kids on ships don't float my boat. The food in the main dining room moonlight sonata and ocean view café was repetitive and a lot of the time tuff, tasteless bland, (many felt the same) it felt like you were eating at a retirement village buffet. they did manage to do 1 lobster night on the whole cruise which was the second last night (presumably to make you feel warm and fuzzy) there were numerous charges added to our room account (by mistake) that we had to ring up about and have removed so keep an eye on your tv statement, the is no APP for this ship or touch screens to see what's going on (menu etc) you have to use your tv which did not display free dining menu for more than 3/4 of the trip only specialty dining, drinks and drink packages are now getting over the top a drink package costs nearly as much as the cruise? in room movies are limited and repeat often, the cruise director would bang on for ages every morning doing the hard sell for everything but the kitchen sink!!! the first 3 ports in Mexico were good but the tendering at Cabo san lucus was a joke up to 3 hours to get to shore only leaving a few hours to look around as it was a short stay. that's where things go really down hill from there (after Mexico ports) the remainder of the cruise ports were CONTAINER SHIP TERMINALS, (presumably because its far cheaper to dock at them) every port was a shuttle bus to the gate or another bus to town, ALL tours for san Antonio were cancelled the day before arrival BUT wait a minute hasn't the unrest been going on for months (we didn't care as we got off but many, many were not happy Jan) if this is the best that celeberity can come up with then its not looking good (I mean why pay more when you can do MSC and get the same) Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This is a specialty cruise on a luxury ship. It is not your typical, laid back cruise. So don’t expect lots of glamour, glitz or specialty dining and entertainment. This is a once in a lifetime experience that really can only be enjoyed ... Read More
This is a specialty cruise on a luxury ship. It is not your typical, laid back cruise. So don’t expect lots of glamour, glitz or specialty dining and entertainment. This is a once in a lifetime experience that really can only be enjoyed if you participate in the excursions. This was a wonderful and exceptional cruise. The Flora is an amazing ship. It is minimalistic in its design, making it very pleasurable and enjoyable. None of the Avant Garde and extreme designs that the newer ships like Edge have but really don’t add any functionality. The Flora is extremely functional in its design, and provides a very pleasing environment for the passengers. The rooms, being suites, are exceptional. Tremendous amount of room and storage. There are two negatives for the rooms. First, there are limited outlets, especially on one side of the bed (none). Bring a multi-socket adapter for charging your cameras and phones. Second, the glass between the bathroom and bedroom is mostly clear, with some minor opaqueness at the bottom. That means that if your suite mate turns on the bathroom light, it will illuminate the entire bedroom. It needs a night shade to prevent waking up the other occupant if the light is turned on (no way to turn on just dim lighting in the bathroom unless you turn on the entire set of bedroom lights first). OK, the pros and cons of the trip. The total experience is amazing. From arrival in Quito, Celebrity is there every step of the way to get you to the hotel, take you on local excursions, and then deliver you to the Galapagos. Totally amazing service. The excursions with the naturalists are exceptional. So much information is provided that it is almost overwhelming. Seeing the wildlife up close and personal is an experience you will never forget. The currents sometimes cloud the water up limiting visibility for snorkeling, but you still get to see some of the underwater life. Wet shoes are a must as several excursions had wet landings (slippery) or wet treks. If using hiking or tennis shoes, a second pair would help. The casual environment means not having to pack formal clothes or anything special. Since luggage is limited to 44 pounds, this certainly helps. We probably took over 1000 photographs and are still sorting them out, so make sure to have plenty of storage. Even the sunsets at night are spectacular. The food is good, but nothing spectacular. A variety of ceviche was common each night, and it was excellent. There is a huge variety of food at the lunch buffet, so even the person with dietary restrictions should find plenty of choices. Service in the evening is via menu, and the staff provides excellent recommendations, and not just pushing a dish. Choices are more limited than big cruise ships, but no one should leave hungry. There were some glitches on the Flora. Weather on the TV in the rooms is for Quito and not the islands. They need to show current conditions where the ship is, and not Quito because it will be 20 degrees cooler there, and the weather is completely different. The sound for the Celebrity presentations was intermittent the first couple of days on the TV (not the other channels, only the Celebrity videos for the Galapagos). Also, the vacuum suction for the toilets quit working a couple of times and the system had to be reset. The pool was closed at first, then opened, then closed again. Not a big deal (use the whirlpool), but it was somewhat surprising for a new ship to still have these problems after six months. The navigation map (TV) never shows the current position of the Flora. It does show the intended stops at the various islands, but there is no real-time position display (like airlines show, or Google Maps). Also disappointing is that the navigation map doesn’t even show the names of some of the smaller islands that the Flora is visiting. These are actual excursion stops, but the island name is not displayed. The navigation display really needs to be updated. It is also the same display that is shown in the Discovery Lounge, so after a week of the same thing over and over, it gets to be pretty repetitive. One of the best features of the cruise is the staff. I think we saw the Captain every single day, intermingling with the passengers. Amazing! Every single staff member goes out of their way to make sure your needs are met. They get to know you and your requests by the end of the week. The personal touch makes the Celebrity Flora cruise so very special. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Cruise selected based on the itinerary. We had 2 issues that we escalated to guest services and were made to feel they did not care at all. Our cabin was hot and after technician checked and temperature was 22.9 Celcius,. i was told by ... Read More
Cruise selected based on the itinerary. We had 2 issues that we escalated to guest services and were made to feel they did not care at all. Our cabin was hot and after technician checked and temperature was 22.9 Celcius,. i was told by Guest Services, they could do nothing andthere were no other cabins to move. it was a blatant lie, I know this because due to flooding of several cabins later in the cruise people were relocated. After 4 nights of no sleep due to the heat I went back to Guest Services requesting a fan. We were provided with a fan, put it on and went to bed, at 12:45 that night the fan shorted and filled the cabin with smoke. Luckily I'm a light sleeper and woke up. The fire alarm nor sprinkler alerted us. I called Guest Services to report this and they showed no concern. We reported this in writing to the Hotel Director and recieved no acknowledgement of our issue. Our second issue relates to what is published in the Quench Beverage Package and what is actually available on board. basically there is a misrepresentation of the product. This issue was supposedly escalated to the HAL Coorpration. It took over 10 days and many follow ups by us with Guest Services and F&B department and we failed to get the package purchased and advertised online. Guest Services continually blocked any escalation of these 2 issues. Based on this experience, lack of activities and enthusiasm from cruise director and his offsider running activities, lots of food but either often cold, if eating in the dining room, or dry and overcooked in the Lido. We will never cruise with HAL again. In discussion with many other passengers, we are not alone with our opinion. We have done over 20 cruises, this was our 3rd cruise in 8 weeks, 1 with Royal Carribbean and the other with Princess, both cruise companies offered outstanding customer service, activities, food and fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The moment we stepped on board we were in awe. Lovely welcome champagne and greeting by staff. When we first arrived on board we had lunch in the lovely Azure Cafe. For us first impression is a lasting impression. The service was ... Read More
The moment we stepped on board we were in awe. Lovely welcome champagne and greeting by staff. When we first arrived on board we had lunch in the lovely Azure Cafe. For us first impression is a lasting impression. The service was amazing. Our cabin was amazing, and the veranda bigger than we’d experienced before. The ambience was beautiful with beautiful lighting. Our bathroom as well appointed with amazing lighting and large shower with the best shower we’ve ever had cruising and beautiful tapware. The walk in robe was amazing with plenty of storage. The cabins are so well equipped with binoculars, quietvox for excursions and umbrellas. Our cabin steward and butler were extraordinary and very helpful. Every crew member from Reception to Restaurants to expedition team to bar were excellent. The yacht is a discovery yacht and that’s exactly what we got. Being a small ship allows us to go to places the big ships can’t go and having zodiacs on board, submarine, helicopters and kayaks makes the adventure exciting. The Captain (Captain Ewan) and his officers were the best ever. Their care for passengers were second to none. My husband and I have cruised twice a year on all inclusive ships since 2012 and believe Scenic Eclipse have the best of everything. We were very impressed by the Chef’s Table with a gastronomical theatre of food. In fact every restaurant was 5 star. We loved the experience so much we booked two back to back cruises in 2021. Thanks Scenic Eclipse for a wonderful trip! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous. I had underestimated how beautiful the Chilean fjords were. The ship is beautiful, and luxurious with great cabins. Excellent service and style. Fabulous food for an adventure cruise. Helicopter and submarine rides were great. Didn't see much on the sub ride. The main swimming pool is in the middle of the lunch restaurant.....WEIRD! Crew and Discovery team great. Very educational talks on geology and nature. Scenic always overdelivers on what was in the itinerary. They are always looking for ways to give a little more than expected. Made an unexpected stop at a tiny village called Tortel in the Chilean fjords. Fabulous extra. The town was unique and the town put on a little show of their culture. We got beautiful North Face Parkas and use of serious waterproof Antarctic boots for the Zodiac trips, which were almost daily. I am sorry, I didn't have the time to carry on to Antarctic. If you want exercise, adventure, getting up close to nature, glaciers, waterfalls, etc. in a luxury setting, Scenic Eclipse is your choice. Expensive up front, but didn't spend a dime on board, except for submarine and helicopter excursions. EVERYTHING else is included. Did I mention the 100 whiskeys they have at the lounge bar, all inclusive. Great malt whiskeys. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We had heard about this NGLindblad Galapagos expedition from friends who had done it a prior year. The whole experience exceeded our expectations (which were already high). Lindblad takes care of every detail, from being met at Miami ... Read More
We had heard about this NGLindblad Galapagos expedition from friends who had done it a prior year. The whole experience exceeded our expectations (which were already high). Lindblad takes care of every detail, from being met at Miami Airport to final drop off in Guayaquil. Everyone on the ship was top notch- knowledgeable, professional, helpful. The naturalists were amazing , with their broad and deep knowledge of flora fauna, everything. And we saw SO MUCH! Communication was superb on the ship. We were informed about the various options for shoreside excursions and snorkeling, and what was needed to participate, including options for those who needed a different option (such as a shorter hike). The whole dining experience was wonderful. The food choices were plentiful and delicious. We especially appreciated the use of local products. We liked the casual atmosphere- no dressing up, and open seating so we could mix and mingle. Nametags were very helpful! Our cabin was just right and serviced at least 2-3 times a day. The ship was well organized. The whole experience was fantastic. We would choose Lindblad for our next "trip of a lifetime". Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Just returning from the full experience of the 17 day cruise / land package offered by Celebrity for the Galápagos and Machu Picchu package . Incredible trip all around and very well organized by Celebrity. Since this site is for cruise ... Read More
Just returning from the full experience of the 17 day cruise / land package offered by Celebrity for the Galápagos and Machu Picchu package . Incredible trip all around and very well organized by Celebrity. Since this site is for cruise info, I’ll mention my thoughts on just the cruise portion, but know that you would not be disappointed by any part of the post cruise experience . Trip started in Quito for a two night stay at the JW Marriott.. seems to be the best choice there by far. Early morning flight to Baltra began the cruise portion. The Flora is a beautiful ship, certainly the largest in the islands. Arrival is by tender , a fun way to begin the trip. We chose a sky suite with infinite balcony . The choice is yours , as you have more interior room than the real balcony rooms, but only a portion of the window actually opens . I would choose the real balcony if I were to do this trip again. The only part of the trip that we heard some complaints was the quality and choices of dinner entrees . Understand that they are working under very strict rules in the Galápagos.. most of the food has to sourced locally , and there’s a struggle with quality of meat . I felt the chef did a great job with what he had to work with . Be ready for buffets every morning and afternoon, as well as several evenings . In summary, be ready to tour a lot .. mornings and afternoons .. it that’s what you go there for .. not for time around the small jacuzzi or pool. The crew they have are mostly from Ecuador as agreed by the cruise line , and, without exception , they are very friendly and seem to be enjoying their work. We experienced a sad situation as we had to come to the rescue of the sister ship after they dragged anchor and ended up on the rocks. The cruise line handled the situation as professionally as you could imagine, and all passengers from both ships worked together as they had to spend the night on the Flora , finding bedding on the sofas, etc.. To see how the Flora crew pulled together and worked through the night, proved just how well trained they are to handle the situation . Well done Celebrity . Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We wanted to see all the best Peru and Ecuador had to offer in one trip and this exceeded our expectations. The pre trip to the cloud forest of Mashpi was stunning, i will remember our fabulous guide Fernando and the tiny frogs and ... Read More
We wanted to see all the best Peru and Ecuador had to offer in one trip and this exceeded our expectations. The pre trip to the cloud forest of Mashpi was stunning, i will remember our fabulous guide Fernando and the tiny frogs and hummingbirds forever. Quito too was a lovely surprise, beautiful historic city. Cruise itself around Galapagos was perfect; busy with expeditions 2 - 3 times per day so we saw all the local wildlife. Then Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu...Wow Wow Wow!! The quality of the guides and the accomodation could not be surpassed, we had a very small group and Lourdes bought the whole history of the Incas alive for us. The Galapagos ship experience worked like clockwork and i am so pleased we went on larger ship as the seas were quite rocky at night as we travelled between islands. There were the inevitable occasions when you felt herded on the ship leg given roughly 90 passengers but it was worth it for the quality of everything else - cabin, food, staff all truely exceptional. if you want to be totally immersed in the best Of Peru and Ecuador you would be hard pressed to beat this. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Scenic Ecplipse from Cartegena, Colombia to Lima Peru in Oct- November 2019. We have had a total of 18 cruises before this one including multiple trips on Seabourne, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania. Inevitably, one compares the Scenic experience to its price point competition. Our review is mixed. We have found ourselves gravitating to smaller ships over the years and we had a pleasant time on a Scenic river cruise in France so we thought the Eclipse was worth a try despite concerns about shakedown issues with a new vessel. Like many others, our initial booking was postponed due to construction delays and we rebooked a similar South American itinerary a year later than originally planned. We booked the Sofitel Santa Clara hotel in Cartegena on our own three days before departure and because it was Scenic’s chosen embarkation hotel, they met us promptly at the airport and delivered us comfortably to the hotel. Transfer to the ship was not as well done as we had to wait two and a half hours in the lobby to load the busses. Once at the pier, embarkation was as nice as any we have experienced, and our bags beat us to the room. I was surprised there was no ship security screening of our carry-on luggage, especially given Colombia’s reputation for smuggling. Surprisingly we had to disembark after one hour on board to go through a perfunctory passport check at Colombia customs. No luggage screen there either. Not complaining, but unusual these days. Our room (Grand Deluxe Veranda Suite # 504) was beautiful and spacious: Big screen tv, spacious bathroom, plenty of storage, stocked bar fridge, coffee maker, a Dyson hair dryer my wife loved, binoculars, umbrellas, plenty of outlets after we discovered the Brit format outlet would take N American plugs, a nice sized balcony, comfy bed with a pillow menu! Very much comparable to a business class hotel room! Our butler, Jeffrey, was great and made every effort to keep us stocked with ice, tonic and gin. Not all was perfection. The bathroom sink had a “high style“ sloping basin that looked nicer than it functioned. The bath itself had a persistent aroma of adhesive outgassing or some other chemical bouquet. We found it annoying but eventually went nose blind to it. The television blinked off repeatedly and worse, came on by itself repeatedly in the middle of the night. They did get this fixed pretty quickly after many complaints. We also had problems with a tapping noise from the sliding glass balcony door. Our butler dispatched the maintenance people who arrived quickly, sprayed some lube and declared it fixed. It wasn’t. After a second visit they fixed the noise with a wedge of wood in the door frame. This eliminated the noise but made balcony use problematic because we couldn’t get the wedge back in properly. The ship itself was beautiful but it had some design issues. One could not see anything seated in the “observation” lounge except the front deck. Better to think of it as a small library with an observation deck. The was only a single stairway and elevator bank, situated toward the back of the ship and of course our cabin was in the far front. The main “immersion” pool was located indoors in the middle of the air conditioned Yacht Club buffet restaurant. The water seemed cold and I never saw anyone in it the entire trip. The normal spot for an outdoor pool was taken up by the helicopter pad. Water sloshed from the small outdoor pool onto the diners seated below on the Azure outdoor dining deck. We found the food at all the venues to be excellent. We did have an annoying half hour wait for our 8 pm reservation at Teppanyaki but a martini with similarly disposed table mates helped ease the pain. Once there, the food was interesting and delicious. The other specialty restaurant, Luminere was also first rate with no wait. The waiter in Elements forgot to offer my wife dessert on one occasion but otherwise the food and service there was exemplary. “JB” (James Bond, he alleged) was particularly good. On our last night on the ship we went to the “invitation only” “Chef’s Table” experience, which was one of the very best meals we have had in our entire lives. Ten delicious and beautifully presented courses that were as much art as food. Matching wine pairings with each course and a leather boxed tool kit to help us participate in the presentation. The venue was a glass enclosed room with a views of the kitchens. They almost had to wheel me out of there on a dolly after the experience! Easily one of the top highlights of the trip! They told us they only do this every other night for 10 people, so less than half the passengers on our short cruise could be accommodated. None of the five couples ay our seating could figure out why we were so blessed since none of us were in top suites or frequent Scenic customers. Very highly recommended, so try to wrangle an invitation!! We were disappointed we were not selected to participate in the extra cost submarine experience despite signing up for it the moment we boarded the ship. There was only one scheduled submarine excursion day and I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude when even that one day got cancelled. I understand the opportunities for submarine deployment are very limited. Not much of a ship feature when you can’t use it. We did get on the helicopter at the Darrien National Park which was a nice 20 minute ride. Unfortunately, they rescheduled the flight so as to prevent us from going ashore that day. We were not prepared for the number of wet landings from the zodiacs and did not have proper footwear. Better advance warning would have helped. The zodiacs were numerous and the crews did a good job loading and unloading during sometimes rough conditions. The entertainment on such a small ship was expectedly limited compared to larger ships, featuring a single singer on two nights. The lecturers were better, with Peter Damisch being exceptional. One nice feature was the opportunity to have dinner with Peter! Other ships videotape these talks for later viewing but not here. They might also have broadcast the Panama Canal transit commentary through the television rather than through the public address system so you could listen or not. Niko, the ship videographer put together a beautifully done video of the trip with timelapse and drone footage which he promised to send to everyone! Would we book again? Maybe in a year or two if the itinerary is right and they can get more of the kinks worked out. Six stars? Not yet, but maybe soon. Better than Crystal of Seabourne? No, but close, and with much potential for a unique experience only a smaller ship like this can provide. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse ... Read More
DISCLAIMER: This review will be VERY LENGTHY as there is a significant amount of information to convey. I have utilized topic headers so you can pick and choose which topics are of interest to you and skip the others. The Eclipse is a unique ship and not inexpensive to book, so it is important to understand what to expect. Furthermore, my wife and I are in no way connected to Scenic. However, we have had two amazing Scenic river cruise cruises (Rhine and Danube.) As you are well aware Cruise Critic reviews are like art and opinions can differ greatly depending on the eye of the beholder. There have been times in the past I have read reviews from other passengers who were a part of the same exact cruise segment my wife and I were on and found it hard to believe we had traveled on the same ship. MY OVERALL CURRENT RATING WOULD BE 4 ½ STARS. I feel in a very short time period, as a few lingering issues are addressed, the Eclipse will deserve the FULL FIVE STARS. BACKGROUND: My wife and I cruised several times early in our marriage and were even engaged on a cruise to Bermuda. However, we went twenty years without cruising as we became avid snow skiers and bought a condo in the mountains. About six years ago we decided it was time to see the world and cruising seemed to be the perfect way to do it. We now try to do two 7-14 day cruises per calendar. Year. One limiting factor is that we both are still working fulltime so vacation time is limited. Furthermore, we need to return home after each cruise to earn the money to pay for the next cruise. Typically, we have cruised on ships in the 2,000 to 4,300 passenger range. However, on Norwegian, we like The Haven suite area as it is what I refer to as an enclave and “a small ship within a large ship.” Celebrity also has a suite class we enjoy with a separate restaurant so we can further ensure my wife’s food allergies can be appropriately handled versus being in a dining room with thousands of other guests. My wife has Celiac Disease, which is a food allergy to ANYTHING with wheat, oat & barley. We like the safety of having almost all our meals on ships where the chefs can handle her need to eat Gluten Free and understand the term “cross-contamination.” In other words, we typically are booking suites out of necessity to avoid my wife needing medical care or even hospitalization. A LONG WAIT FOR THE ECLIPSE: Three and a half years ago back in March 2016, I put up two deposits for future Eclipse cruises. Like many other Cruise Critic members, I have followed the construction shipyard issues and endured two cancellations. Scenic treated us well with full refunds and the offer of discounts for the two replacement cruises. I obviously had VERY high expectations of the Scenic Eclipse since prior to this cruise I had made three non-refundable deposits for Eclipse cruises (Panama Canal, Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica.) Obviously, I did this based on the initial Eclipse marketing booklet and animation videos on their website along with a certain amount of faith. ITINERARY: This cruise segment was titled “Columbia to Panama Discovery” – Emabarkation in Cartagena (Columbia) with stops in San Blas Islands, Panama Canal transit, Darien National Park (Panama), Utria National Park (Columbia), Equator Crossing, Salaverry (Panama), Isla Guanape (Peru), disembarkation in Lime, (Peru.) EMBARKATION: We flew to Cartagena, Columbia and booked our own pre-cruise room at a wonderful small hotel (Sophia) inside the Walled City. Therefore, we had the hotel arrange for a taxi to take us to the ship. Boarding went smoothly around 1 p.m. Some passengers were disappointed all of us had to leave the ship around 4 pm to be bussed back to building at the front of the port to clear customs. This was certainly not the fault of Scenic as the customs office in that port set their hours of operation. I felt Scenic handled this situation well and provided a shuttle service. Plus, the time between boarding and going through customs allowed us time to explore the ship. SHIP: This might the lightning rod since I alluded to all of us having our own opinions when it comes to art and ship design. I will get straight to the point and tell you I love what owners Glen and Karen Mahoney have done in designing this ship. I had very high expectations and they were exceeded. As has been pointed out there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. Obviously, much more work had been done since the ship was crossing the Atlantic and a few more issues were being actively being addressed during our cruise. EXTERIOR: The black hull and white upper structure are visually striking. INTERIOR: This is where there is a real diversity of opinion. I am not sure how much middle ground there is regarding this ship. My wife and I absolutely love it. Karen has done an amazing job in our opinion. Lots of grays, black, white, chrome, stainless steel and glass. This is a very modern contemporary style we enjoy. In fact, when we visited the yoga/pilates area and found similar flooring to that we installed this year during a complete remodel of our beach reach condo. When we entered the bathroom in our cabin we just laughed as it was the exact style tile we installed in our condo master bathroom. Karen and I would get along well as we share similar tastes in contemporary design. If you are a fan of warmer earth tones with greens and browns, then there are other ships that might be more to your liking. As I often tell my friends….. “Different strokes for different folks.” For me, the Eclipse design is in my wheelhouse. In my opinion, the gray/black palette also allows the ability to make statements with color from art which is also easy to change out over time. Furthermore, it is my understanding that all the art has not arrived on board the ship at this point in time. As has been pointed out in a prior Eclipse review some areas of the ship have black carpeting in some public areas that require constant attention as it does show up many forms of dust and dirt. However, the crew was regularly utilizing Dyson cordless vacuums to maintain the carpet. We were pleased with the spaciousness of the ship and the public areas. As many of you know the Eclipse carries a maximum of 228 passengers. On our sailing, there were 178 crew/staff/discovery team members and only 148 passengers. This is obviously a very high ratio of staff to passengers. There were times of the day where we wondered where all the passengers had gone. Obviously, the main lounge on Deck Four is the primary passenger gathering location with the Whiskey Bar that has over a hundred types of whiskey. However, it is also a full bar so you have your choice of beer, wine, other alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations at most any hour. There are also bars in Azure, Koko’s, Elements, Yacht Club and Lumiere. This might be a good point to mention something I thought about and researched since my wife and I have traveled on the Norwegian Epic which carries over 4,000 passengers. Norwegian Epic – 4,228 passengers. Cost to build - approximately 1.4 billion USD (I adjusted the number for inflation since it was built in 2010) Scenic Eclipse – 228 passengers. Cost to build – approximately a quarter of billion USD Therefore, the cost for the Epic was about $284,000 per berth while the cost for the Eclipse is a staggering $1,096,000 per berth. As you can see the Glen and Karen have made a substantial investment for luxury and state of the art technology. DINING: For the small number of passengers, the Eclipse has what I consider to be a large number of dining venues. Elements is the primary dining facility. It has a menu that changes regularly as do the menus in the other restaurants. I want to address something that another reviewer mentioned regarding the slow delivery of food. I did find it took a little longer than I expected on our embarkation day. Since we were on vacation we were not in a hurry and it did not bother us. I suspect the staff walks the line of not having passengers feel rushed. As I continually mention different passengers have different expectations. On a night when we did have other plans, we simply told our waiter and the various courses were delivered at a brisker pace. Sometimes we were looking for something basic. We simply went “off-menu” and asked for some basic items (hamburger, chicken breast, etc.) we knew were on the room service menu that is serviced from the Elements kitchen. Koko’s (JP and his team handle Sushi @Koko’s, Teppanyaki @Koko’s and Koko’s Asian Fusion). We skipped the Sushi since some years ago I ended up in an emergency room with food poisoning from a bad raw oyster. Figuring I may be more sensitive to bacteria from raw seafood I have had to give it up. That being said, I did hear good reviews from other passengers. The Teppanyaki Grill (Reservations Required) – It is located in a separate area at the back of Koko’s. Our evening was a fun experience with great food and fellowship in a relaxed atmosphere. Chef Strawberry took the time to explain each course as she was preparing it which added to the experience. On another evening we tried the Asian Fusion section and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Lumiere (Reservation required) - A French restaurant with a menu that changes every four days. The manager (also named JP) runs this facility along with Azure. As expected, the seven-course meal and service were top-notch. Azure Bar and Grill - This is a nice casual bar and grill with seating areas inside and outside that was rarely busy. It was easy to get a small meal or snack quickly. Epicure – A cooking school in a dedicated space with very limited availability. To my knowledge, it was offered twice during our cruise and unfortunately, we did not make the cut. With only 12 openings and up to 228 passengers your chances of being able to attend are limited depending on demand. (Only one in nine, if all 228 passengers had an interest.) Chef’s Table – This is an “invitation-only” experience that typically occurs every other night for up to ten guests. If you are on a shorter cruise segment like mine of only 8 nights, there are limited opportunities and availability. For those who would like to partake in this experience, I suggest expressing your interest to your butler. Fortunately, on the last night, we received an invitation to join four other couples for an epicurean experience and I do mean experience!!! 3 HOURS + 10 FLIGHTS of CHAMPAGNE and WINE + 10 COURSES (appetizers, entrees & dessert) + a LEATHER ENCASED TOOLKIT = CHEF’s TABLE Executive Chef Bert completely exceeded my expectations by providing a three-hour interactive meal where each of us participated in the finishing steps of a couple of the courses. Our main courses included all of the following: Wagyu beef, Dover sole, lamb and smoked pork. Executive Chef Bert said the general food prep for this event takes over 16 hours and the pork is smoked for 40 hours. CONTRAST THE ABOVE WITH THE LAST MEAL MY WIFE AND I ATE FOR OUR NEXT DINNER. The following night we stayed in Lima, Peru and decided on a much simpler menu we had packed in our suitcases before leaving Tuscaloosa since we didn’t want to risk food poisoning. Who doesn’t love pretzels, peanut butter, and bottled water??? Actually, I eat this for lunch a couple of days each week back home. Yacht Club – (buffet for breakfast and lunch overseen by Robert the Restaurant Manager for the Eclipse) In addition, to the extensive buffet offerings there is the ability to order additional breakfast items from a small menu. I intentionally saved the Yacht Club for later in my food/restaurant review for several reasons. For one, it turned out to be a very popular buffet dining venue for breakfast and especially lunch. (NOTE: it is not currently open for dinner.) Understandably, it could become “standing room only”, particularly when everyone returned from a shore excursion around the same time. However, seats typically tuned over quickly. Plus, if you don’t want to wait you can go to Elements and Azure or order room service and eat on your balcony. I need to mention the large stainless-steel pool that is situated in the Yacht Club. It is was a topic of a great deal of discussion and a fair amount of outright derision. The general consensus was that no one would go into this pool while other passengers were eating and this space could be better utilized for additional tables. I asked one of the servers how many passengers she had seen in the pool since the ship launched and she said only three. I told her by the end of this cruise it would be at least four as I intended to give it try. I ended up trying it on an afternoon when I walked around and noticed the only two people in the Yacht Club were the two bartenders who were on duty. I decided to go back to my room and change to my swimsuit so I could give the pool a test drive. When I checked the water earlier it seemed cool so I figured I would only be in the pool about sixty seconds. To my surprise, I found the water comfortable and actually ended up swimming in the pool for over fifteen minutes. I could actually swim as I was obviously the only one in the pool. It does have a sensational view out the back of the ship. (photo enclosed). I believe when this ship spends almost half the year in the colder Arctic circle and Antarctica more passengers will decide to give this pool a try and use the sun loungers as it is doubtful the outdoor pools will be utilized. Unfortunately, it was not until the last morning that I found out from Robert (the Restaurant manager for the ship) that there were strategically located buttons around the inside of the Yacht Club pool that allowed you to turn on specific water jets. If I had known this information previously, I would have stayed in the pool much longer. In-Room Dining (aka Room Service) – Did not try this service and cannot offer an opinion. However as mentioned previously, we did order items from the room service menu while eating in Elements. ENTERTAINMENT: Frankly, on a ship with such a low number of passengers that is billed as a Discovery Yacht I did not expect much in the way of entertainment. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to find we had an entertainment director and singer name Grace Caudle on board. During our eight-night cruise Grace did two different seventy-five-minute singing performances. One was An Evening of Broadway songs and the other An Evening of Classics (a mixture of classics and opera.) Grace is not only beautiful she has a voice to match. NOTE: My wife and I constantly ran into Grace around the ship as she also helps support the Discovery team. Grace mentioned she is training to become certified to operate one of the elven Zodiacs on board. I told her to be sure to put that on her resume and as it will be a sure-fire attention getter for a singer/performer. We also had the pleasure of dining with Grace one evening for our incredible meal in Lumiere. Grace was raised in Dallas, currently resides in NYC and has traveled the world performing. Grace is charming and has a down to earth personality. Grace also hosted a Liar’s Club in the theater which I found highly entertaining. Be forewarned that some of your crew members are very good liars. (LOL) On another evening passengers had the opportunity to view a movie in the theater. Grace also held a couple of trivia contests in the main Lounge. On one of the sea days, I participated in a Martini class that was conducted by the bar manager. During our stop in Utria National Park, Columbia Scenic had arranged for a group of about a dozen local performers to come on board to give a singing and dancing performance representative of their culture. It was highly entertaining, and you could tell the performers were excited and happy to be on board. FYI: I was impressed that Captain Erwan LeRouzic made sure all the performers were allowed to take a tour of our ship. I considered this to be a “cultural exchange.” It was the first time many of the performers had ever been in an elevator. They even had a group photo taken on the bow of the ship. Our Captain felt it was important for he and Scenic to also share a special experience with the performers. In the lounge, there was a duo of a piano player and singer that performed low key music early in the evenings and after dinner. THEATER: The theater is beautiful and seats about 240 people. As in any theater, some seats have better sightlines than others. The main three front-facing projectors were perfectly synched, and the sound system was great. There are even several “short throw” projectors on the sidewalls of the theater for displaying various background type images. It is apparent much time and thought went into the design of this theater. The majority of the seating is in large lounger chairs. A few of the chairs in the theater are power recliners and a few on the sides even swivel. There is also bar service. Therefore, you can relax and listen to the lectures while sipping on a martini or other libations. I definitely needed this during lectures during my college years. This could have changed my entire experience of attending class. SPA: With almost 6,000 square feet the Spa Sanctuary was a beautiful and relaxing area we visited several times during our cruise in order to utilize the steam room, sauna, Vitality Room as well as the outdoor lounge area and pool. In the vitality room with both cushioned and heated stone loungers, BOSE noise-canceling headphones are available. I even went online and figured how to download the BOSE Connect app to allow me to use the headphone to play music from my cell phone. While the men’s sauna has a traditional heating system, the women’s sauna utilizes some type of special infrared system which we were told in a tour was to accommodate women going through menopause. My wife said the infrared system barely provided any heat. She remarked she has much better heat from a small space heater in her office at work. Hopefully, Scenic will address this deficiency in the future. Frankly, I suspect women going through heat flashes related to menopause will seek out a sauna. NOTE: One major disappointment for my wife and me is that there are almost no coed facilities in the spa (the saunas, steam rooms, and even the vitality rooms are segregated. We enjoy spending time together and other ships provide the ability to do so in their areas the lounges. It is not like passengers would choose to use the sauna or loungers in the nude since both areas have windows to the outside deck where anyone walking by could look inside. In reality, it is a type of “unintended” reverse discrimination as several gay couples on board had the ability to share these spa experiences with their spouses/significant others while we were denied that opportunity. I am hopeful Scenic will consider implementing some coed days and/or times. I will admit one afternoon I joined my wife on an adjoining stone lounger on her side as there was absolutely no one in the vitality areas which for some reason was typically the case during our cruise. (Naturally, if another guest had shown-up I would have immediately returned to the men’s side.) OUTDOOR HOT TUBS: Naturally, we tried these out. Unfortunately, we only lasted a few minutes as the temperature was only luke-warm and far from hot. We tried the other hot tub and found it also did not have hot water. The tepid temperature ruined what might have been an enjoyable experience. It would have been ok if the ship were anchored but it was moving and since the hot tubs are forward the wind made it too cool to enjoy in tepid water. My suggestion would be to have at least one, if not both, of the tubs set to the appropriate temperatures. GYM: We utilized it several times and found it to be well-equipped with a nice view of the ocean while you are exercising. YOGA/PILATES STUDIO: Having never done Yoga I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give it try with the classes held every morning at 7 am. Unfortunately, I had to miss a few days as a couple of shore excursions were early and there would not be enough time to clean up after the yoga class and grab a quick breakfast. The instructor, Vlad, was very patient and helped me learn the appropriate poses. Although I work out regularly, I will say yoga is more physically demanding than I realized. It is even more difficult when the ship was rolling with the waves, but Vlad would adjust the pose to take that into account. SERVICE: In a word …. “EXCEPTIONAL!” As mentioned previously, due to my wife’s unique dietary needs we have typically spent the money to stay in mid-range suites on ships with a concierge and/or butler, therefore I feel we have a fairly good baseline as what to expect. There are many aspects to a cruise, including the design of the ship, the itinerary, the excursions and naturally the food; however, one of the biggest factors for me regarding overall satisfaction is controlled by the crew/staff/team members. I always make it a point to meet as many as possible in such a short time onboard. The staff on the Eclipse were all top-notch. Of course, the crew and ship operations are handled by the captain. In our case, it was Captain Erwan LeRouzic. He is friendly and could typically be found roaming the ship checking on things. In the evenings he made himself available for conversations as he walked through the lounge greeting and interacting with passengers. Over the course of the cruise, I cumulatively spent 4-5 hours talking with him. I had done some prior research and found out he was the first person to captain a completely solar-powered boat around the world. He is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for this feat. Obviously, Captain Erwan set the standard you would expect on this type of adventure. As most of you know the person who is responsible for the highest number of staff on the ship is the Hotel Director. In this case, it is Rico Tubert. As I always say, leadership starts at the top and it is apparent Rico sets a high bar. Once again, I will point out you could find Rico constantly walking the ship checking on his mangers and staff as well as interacting with passengers. He was always friendly and accommodating. When I asked him one evening if the steam rooms had not yet been finished he pulled me aside to explain the steam rooms were finished but they were attempting to track down a water leak that occurs when they are running. Rico said If I, or any passengers, wanted to use them on a particular day to let him know and he would have them turned on. I mentioned it would be nice to have them for our upcoming sea days and as promised the steam rooms were on and provided a great experience. (As mentioned earlier I wish my wife and I could have had the opportunity to enjoy them together. Hopefully, some accommodations will be made for coed couples during our future cruises.) I did have to good-naturedly tell Rico not to let the audio-video sub-contractors off the ship until they eliminated the gremlins that caused the TV’s to come on in the middle of the night for no reason several. It was startling when it occurred at night. I certainly did not fault Scenic as their AV contractors let them down. Fortunately, Scenic had them on board fine-tuning the system. As mentioned previously, my wife has to eat Gluten Free so I always seek out the Restaurant Manager early in the cruise to ensure there will not be any issues Our Restaurant Manager was Robert who is top-notch. When I mentioned a concern on the first evening of the cruise Robert immediately called Executive Chef Bert to have him meet with us to ensure my wife’s dietary restrictions where appropriately handled. On the night we dined at the Chef’s Table, Executive Chef Bert even went to the extra time and effort to make sure specific Gluten Free substitutions were made so that my wife could enjoy this unique culinary experience. It is hard to express how much this meant to my wife. A special thanks to Robert and Executive Chef Bert and all their team members (including the pastry chef and baker among many others) for making this cruise special for my wife. Another time I mentioned to Robert that my wife would enjoy something different other than the fruit and gelato that were often the main desserts listed on the menus as being Gluten Free. From that night forward my wife was provided a different Gluten Free dessert every evening. No matter which of the many restaurants we dined in during the remainder of our cruise the staff would find the special Gluten Free dessert created by the Scenic pastry chef and bring it to our table. One night I recall we were full from the main course and did not have room for dessert. I asked our waiter (JB) if we could get a to-go box to take it back to our cabin. Instead, JB insisted we allow him to arrange for it to be delivered to our cabin while we were enjoying a show in the theater. It made a great late-night snack when we returned to our cabin. Speaking of JB, he was out primary waiter in Elements and did an outstanding job. He always had a smile on his face throughout the cruise as did the entire crew and staff. I specifically recall looking through the glass windows into the kitchen while dining at the Chef’s Table to see how the staff acted when they were “backstage.” They were always smiling and interacting with each other in a friendly manner although as you can imagine it is a frantic pace in such a small space. At another point in our Chef’s Table meal, several of us noticed a worker surrounded by a couple of other workers who were spraying him with whipped cream and water. Executive Chef Bert also noticed and explained this was an instance where a crew member was returning home after completing their contract and other staff members were helping him celebrate. Frankly, I am always interested in how the staff is treated-on ship by management and ownership. JB told me how on other high-end ships he would struggle to stay in touch with his family. In some ports, he and other crew members would scramble off the ship when in a port to find free internet or to buy a phone card so they could contact their families back home. In his case, it twelve-hour time difference to the Philippines. JB went on to tell me how on Scenic they provide FREE video messaging to the entire crew so they can remain in contact with their families. JB literally teared up as he told me that thanks to Karen and Glen Moroney he was able to watch his children grow up daily. JB video conferences with them every night around midnight (noon in the Philippines.) He said when Karen was on board he thanked her and actually wanted to hug her for providing this ability to communicate with his family on a daily basis. I also learned from the Captain that Scenic has a late movie night once a month for the crew in the main theater, so they get to enjoy those comfortable seats like the passengers. It is no wonder that Scenic staff members are happy. They have owners and management that care about their well-being. As the saying goes…. “Take care of your staff and they will take care of you and your customers.” We also interacted frequently with a waiter named Don as he seemed to be everywhere. Don waited on us at various times in Elements, the Yacht Club and was also walking on the deck taking drinks orders another time. Don also appreciates Scenic providing the ability to remain in touch regularly with his family. One evening he showed us a tattoo he had of his daughter on one of his arms. I took a picture of it as it is one of the most realistic portrait tattoos I have ever seen. Don always had a smile and a friendly greeting for us. As we are all aware there are no unimportant jobs on a ship from the engine room to the bridge. I am appreciative of each of the multitude of staff members on board who worked hard to ensure we had a memorable cruise. DISCOVERY TEAM This is certainly one of the main reasons for cruising on the Scenic Eclipse. Since this could be an incredibly lengthy section, I will try to hit a few highlights. During the course of the nine days, I met almost the entire staff and can say they are dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate about their fields of expertise. Many of them were as excited as some of the passengers to be working on a variety of excursions and activities. There were approximately twenty persons on the Discovery Team during our cruise on the Eclipse. The personnel changes depending on the area where the ship is cruising and how long they have been on board without a break. Scenic also allows passengers to express interest each evening if they would like to dine with a member of the Discovery Team. This is a terrific program and I recommend taking advantage of it. In addition to handling the actual excursions, many members of the Discovery Team also provide incredibly interesting lectures. Some are to prepare you for an area you are going to visit, and other lectures review an excursion you have experienced. One day we went snorkeling with the Discovery Team, did a helicopter flight with Josh as our pilot over the San Blas Archipelago and then snorkeled with Kevin and Sarah to one of the remote islands of San Blas. The next day we experienced the eleven-hour transit through the Panama Canal with great commentary. On day three Lou and Peter led our group to visit the Embera tribe members in the Darien National Park. The following day Jorge helped lead a small group of truly adventurous passengers on a strenuous hike through thick jungle vegetation and considerable time walking in streams in a rain forest at Utria National Park. It rained almost the entire hike. Obviously, this is why they call it a “RAIN” forest. However, the tree canopy actually mitigated some of the heavy rains. On our second sea day, the Scenic staff arranged for a fun ceremony commemorating our crossing of the Equator. In Salaverry, we chose the excursion to Chan Can and Huenchco with Peter and Susan. The following day we were on a Zodiac excursion with Kevin and Pepe. One of the highlights of the cruise was the Scenic Enrichment event with a private exhibition of Peruvian Paso Horses along with some local dancers. After the show, they allowed plenty of time for passengers to spend time with the horses, riders, and dancers. Having traveled on two Scenic river cruises we knew this would be a special event in which Scenic pulls out all the stops to provide a memorable interactive experience. It was held on the grounds on a five-star Wyndham hotel in Salaverry, Peru and the hotel staff was outstanding as were the performers. Once again Scenic exceeded our expectations. There were multiple rounds of drinks and hors d'oeuvres served by an attentive staff. Since my wife has a gluten allergy, she had to decline the hors d'oeuvres since it was obvious, they all contain wheat. This was certainly not an issue as it is what we would expect at an event arranged through a third party, so we know to bring Gluten Free snacks with us on our travels. Imagine my wife’s surprise when a waiter approached with a large plate filled with a variety of Gluten-Free hors d'oeuvres they had prepared especially for her. We have no idea who thought to make this arrangement but we both want to say a big a “THANK YOU.” ENRICHMENT LECTURES: The discovery team includes a historian, naturalist, geologist, ornithologist, etc. who made a wide variety of presentations in the theater. I will admit I was surprised there was not better attendance as all of the presentations were educational and interesting. FYI: I do want to point out you will more than likely only have one opportunity to view these presentations in the theater or live on your TV so plan accordingly. Due to copyright issues, Scenic is not allowed to record and play them back later on your in-room TV. HELICOPTER and SUBMERSIBLE: Much marketing by Scenic has gone into highlighting and heavily promoting the helicopter and submersible. Sadly, it was probably the source of the highest level of unhappiness from those passengers who never had the opportunity to partake in these experiences. First of all, it is apparent that the ability to get to experience one of these is based on a combination of “RHIP” and “luck.” RHIP - As my dad told me as a kid when I was unable to do something that other people were experiencing, he would remind me that “Rank Has Its Privileges.” The reality is that those passengers in the more expensive suites on Decks Eight and Nine on the Eclipse are given top priority as were those who have traveled extensively with Scenic in the past and are in the upper levels of the scenic loyalty program. My understanding is that “THE LIST” for the submersible comes from the home office in Australia. As much as I loved the Eclipse and the overall experience; not getting on “THE LIST” to experience the submersible (if it had operated) was a major disappointment. It is particularly disappointing as my wife and I have two more expensive cruises of 9-11 days booked to the Norwegian Fjords and Antarctica where we intentionally booked mid-ship on the lowest level (deck five) to help with seasickness in the Drake Strait. Therefore, I will probably never be allowed by ownership/management to get on the submersible since RHIP will come into play and I will be the proverbial low person on the totem pole. I probably would not have spent the considerable money on three cruises in eighteen months if I had realized I would probably never have an opportunity to go on the submersible. Obviously, there is a better opportunity to get on the helicopter as it has more capacity due to the faster turnaround. On our cruise, Scenic was only utilizing one of their two helicopters. This was partly due to demand and also they are still getting familiar with the process of bringing a helicopter out of the hanger, installing the blades, going through the pre-flight checklist, etc. Our pilot Josh mentioned it currently takes about one hour for this process. In the future, they plan to get this time down to about thirty minutes which will allow them to use both helicopters since there is only one landing area and they will have to precisely alternate their takeoffs and landings. NOTE: I do want to mention that there are also two factors out of the control of Scenic that further diminish your chances to have an opportunity to take part in the highly promoted helicopter and submersible experiences. Those two factors are WEATHER and PERMITTING. WEATHER - Naturally safety must come first, and the helicopters cannot fly in situations that could potentially endanger the safety of pilots and passengers. High winds and rough seas are two of the primary factors. In one case we were docked in Slaverry and high winds were coming from the wrong direction for the helicopters to take off into the wind to obtain proper lift. When the Eclipse is anchored the captain can often change the ship’s position to allow the helicopters to have proper wind direction. However, understand that can also impact the comfort of the passengers who are onboard the ship so it is a balancing act. Furthermore, in that in the case where the wind was a factor, the Eclipse was unfortunately docked next to a freighter that was actively loading coal with cranes that were constantly moving. Having a crane hit you helicopter while taking off or landing is naturally a “no go.” On another day the waves were moving up to four feet in a matter of seconds. This would definitely have had a negative impact on safe landings. PERMITTING - Receiving the appropriate written authorizations in various countries is definitely an issue when it comes to operating the submersible. Due to the Jones Act, the United States would not allow the Scenic submersible to be used in US waters. In other countries, Scenic has literally been working on authorizations for up to two and a half years. Sometimes these approvals are granted at the last moment. In other cases, highs seas can naturally cause cancellations. MY OPINION: Based on feedback from many passengers this cruise segment, Scenic needs to do a MUCH better job of explaining RHIP (aka “THE LIST”), weather, and permitting before they take non-refundable deposits from customers. This would not completely cut down on disappointment and outright unhappiness but it could help mitigate it. At his point, Scenic is promoting experiences (especially relating to the submersible) in its advertising, marketing, and new releases that it simply can’t live up to given the reasons I have enumerated. ACTIVITIES: I had several passengers tell me that they felt there were not enough activities: especially on seas days. This is one of the circumstances where your reality is based on your own personal expectations. Below is my personal schedule from our first full day on the cruise: 7 – 8 a.m. - Yoga 8 - 9 a.m. - Breakfast 9 – 10 a.m. - Snorkeling and kayak briefing 10:30 a.m. Zodiac to a small San Blas Islands at 10:30 am. 11 a.m. - Snorkeling 11:30 a.m. - Zodiac back to the ship 12:10 p.m. - Helicopter safety briefing in Discovery Room 12:30 p.m. - Helicopter excursion over the reefs of San Blas Isles 1 p.m. - Zodiacs to San Blas islands for a two-hour kayaking adventure 3 p.m. – Zodiac back to ship 3:15 p.m. - Briefing on Panama Canal history by Discovery Team 4:30 p.m. - The geological history of the Panama Canal at 4:30 pm. 5:30 p.m. - Recap of today’s events and a preview of tomorrow’s schedule 6:45 p.m. - Captain’s cocktail reception 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. - Dinner 9:30 – 10:30 p.m. - Halloween dance Yes, we missed lunch. Sacrifices had to be made as we felt there was too much to see and do. However, it is possible we slightly over-scheduled ourselves. (LOL) WE REALIZED WE MIGHT NEED A VACATION TO RECOVER FROM THIS ADVENTURE DISCOVERY CRUISE IF WE CONTINUED AT THIS PACE!!! We told ourselves we could rest during our two back to back sea days. _________________________________________________________________ MY ACTUAL PERSONAL SCHEDULE FOR MY FIRST SEA DAY: 45 minutes for Yoga 45 minutes on a treadmill 60 minutes enrichment lecture on volcanoes 45 minutes for a champagne brunch buffet 60 minutes enrichment lecture on sugarcane & slavery 30 minutes mixology class on World of Martinis (Yes there was sampling) 30 minutes for a trivia contest 45 minutes for indoor pool and lounger 60 minutes enrichment lecture on Marooned Mariners 20 minutes live music 45 minutes recap with the following: Biologist, geologist, naturalist, ornithologist, historian, etc. Plus, updates from our expedition team 60 minutes for dinner 10 minutes for after-dinner drinks 45 minutes to enjoy an evening of classical songs by Grace FINALLY BEDTIME! I included the two schedules to further reinforce that your experience on a cruise is often based on your own desire to participate. Conversely, some passengers understandably prefer to relax and maintain a slower more low key schedule. This is part of the beauty of cruising. A UNIQUE GIFT FROM SCENIC: On the last night of the cruise, Scenic held an event titled: Final Recap and your Voyage Video. During the entire cruise, Scenic had arranged for a videographer named Niko to capture the highlights of our cruise and various excursions. Niko is an amazing videographer and a talented editor. Niko was literally working on this video until minutes prior to the presentation in order to include scenes from the excursions earlier in the day. The best part was being told that every passenger would be sent a link in the coming weeks to view, share, and download this video. I want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift. My wife and I rarely purchase souvenirs and as we have lost two houses and most of our possessions due to fire and tornado in the past. On this trip, we only bought a Panama hat for my wife to wear on a couple of shore excursions and a box of Gluten Free corn flakes that are not available in the United States. Therefore, we concentrate on collecting memories. We want to thank Scenic for this unexpected gift that will allow us to preserve memories of this amazing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We looked forward to our first Viking ocean cruise after a lovely Viking River Cruise earlier this year. We’ve traveled extensively on other ocean cruise lines and were extremely disappointed in this 48 day cruise. Starting with ... Read More
We looked forward to our first Viking ocean cruise after a lovely Viking River Cruise earlier this year. We’ve traveled extensively on other ocean cruise lines and were extremely disappointed in this 48 day cruise. Starting with Embarkation, the tone of the cruise was set. Viking booked the cheapest airfare with a 3-1/2 hour layover at DFW airport which is a haven for storm-related delays. We were delayed 8 hours arriving at the ship at 3:30am. No one was at the port entrance to let us in so we waited for 45 min with our luggage until we gained access. We had to cancel our paid excursion that started at 8 am because we didn’t get to sleep until 5 am. The itinerary said we had two days in San Juan. We ended up with 1/2 day due to the delays. We aren’t home yet but they booked our return flight in the cheapest seat possible on an 11 hour red eye next to the bathroom with seats that don’t recline. We had to pay $200 Extra to get reclining seats!! Three missed ports. 1st Recife because they had to go slower coming out of the Amazon due to water level (although announced water level was the same going in as going out about 650 ft). 2nd was Puerto Madryn because there was some storm near the Falklands the captain was trying to avoid. Yet I searched every maritime weather report and could find nothing within 1000 of miles. The 3rd was Puerto Montt. The captain said it was too rough to tender passengers. Yet as I sit here I’ve watched all of the Holland American passengers, who arrived in port after us, get tendered to shore as we sail off to who knows where. Poorly executed excursions. Most of the excursions that we wanted to book were sold out even though I we went online literally the first minute with my choices ready. We spent $6000 on excursions and were extremely disappointed. All the buses in the Amazon were filthy, stinky and none had A/C in the 90 F 99 % humidity weather. The excursions throughout were a stretch to provide anything halfway interesting. Their description of what you will see on paid excursions is false advertising. They quoted seeing certain waterfalls or type of penguins on one excursion when I asked the guides they said it was on the another one. Food was disappointing. Compared to other cruises the food was nothing like you would expect e.g., New England Clam Chowder was like runny cream of celery soup with a few clams. Their menus lacked variety and the only way to get a grilled chicken breast was to order room service. They tried to get fancy in the Chef’s Table but there was nothing but weird creations that didn’t taste good with at least two servings containing alcohol. For someone with shell fish allergy the menu was very limited with 3 out of 5 entrees containing shellfish. I had to ask because even the daily sushi bar didn’t identify which had shellfish and they obviously don’t have any concept of cross contamination. Onboard entertainment was lacking. Enrichment lectures were OK if you like history. The other entertainment was the worst I’ve ever seen on any cruise. It’s not over yet, but I’ve already made up my mind that I will never cruise Viking again even if they offered it for free. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
My brother, who had taken previous Viking Ocean cruises, talked me into it because my wife and I had taken several river cruises on Viking and had enjoyed them. The four of us had cruised before and enjoyed each others company. We ... Read More
My brother, who had taken previous Viking Ocean cruises, talked me into it because my wife and I had taken several river cruises on Viking and had enjoyed them. The four of us had cruised before and enjoyed each others company. We very much enjoyed and were impressed with the Amazon River experience. I would have greatly appreciated wider WI-FI coverage. We had to very frequently rejoin the wi-fi because of lost signal. Perhaps some wi-fi repeaters placed strategically throughout the sip would help. I was very unimpressed with the pancakes and waffles on the breakfast buffet. An improved batter recipe is needed! The disembarkation in Buenos Aires amounted to a completely wasted day. We had to get out of our cabins before 8:00 and had nothing to do until leaving the ship at 10;30. Upon arrival at the Hilton, we were unable to get our rooms until 1500 and the luggage wasn't available until 1800. An entire day spent waiting. Perhaps a four to five hour shore excursion beginning at disembarkation and ending at the hotel.could be arranged. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was such a unique itinerary that we felt compelled to book as soon as we saw it! This was a once in a lifetime trip which really informed us about our big, big neighbors to the far south. The ship was as we expected since ... Read More
This was such a unique itinerary that we felt compelled to book as soon as we saw it! This was a once in a lifetime trip which really informed us about our big, big neighbors to the far south. The ship was as we expected since we had been on the Viking Star two years ago and were familiar with the layout and amenities. The staff were exceptional in attitude and service, going above and beyond to ensure we were safe, comfortable and happy. We particularly enjoyed the Lectures which gave us a good introduction to Local history, culture and customs. And of course the included and optional tours were a great way to learn even more. The spa, with so many free amenities was greatly appreciated! There was so much to do on the ship, that sea days were Fun, busy and welcome too. Bridge classes, knitting classes, get togethers for painters, tap dancing lessons, writing lessons,,,, the list in the Viking Daily was endless. The food, well, we were very happy with the many restaurant options, and visited all of them. Such exceptional service, variety and always delicious! Free wine with lunch and dinner too! And what a fun experience we all had at the Crossing the Equator Ceremony! Thanks for the certificate and all the laughs that day! Well there are some things missing from a cruise with Viking.... There’s no added costs, there’s no “sales pitch” there’s no casino! It’s a different kind of cruising and we love it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Having been on the Zaandam in January 2018 and been very impressed with the ship and its amenities, I chose this cruise for the chance to be on her again and to transit the Panama Canal again with stops in South America. ... Read More
Having been on the Zaandam in January 2018 and been very impressed with the ship and its amenities, I chose this cruise for the chance to be on her again and to transit the Panama Canal again with stops in South America. Embarkation/debarkation: As always, HAL did these impeccably for a mass market cruise line. Both were a breeze and I was onboard for a nice lunch in the MDR in minutes. The guarantee that one's cabin will be ready when boarding is a nice touch. The ship: The Zaandam is a nice sized ship and is easy to get around. The public rooms and walkways have been left as they were intended when the ship was built. It has a real, wide, walk-around promenade deck: a large library space even though few books; wide internal hallways; excellent, easy to read signage. It was well maintained. The cabin: I had a standard verandah cabin in the aft part of the ship, It was a very good size with many more closets and drawers than I could use. The beds were comfortable and I had the best pillows I have ever had on a cruise ship in my 44 years of cruising. The furniture and bathroom had been refurbished and the floor coverings were new. The verandah furniture was new and very nice, with a foot stool. The dining: The food in the MDR has definitely taken a downturn since my prior cruise. The appetizers, soups, vegetables, and desserts were good. They managed to overcook all the fish. The only good fish we had was fresh tuna brought on in Ecuador and prepared seared on the outside and rare on the inside, the correct way to cook it. I skipped the meat. We were in some of the best South American fishing grounds and some of the best wine countries in the world; they should have been bringing on local foods and wines in every port. The entertainment and activities: The shows done by the production cast of singers and dancers were all very good. Some of the contract performers were also good. In general, nothing was too loud; I hate sitting through performances with my fingers in my ears and only had to do it once on this cruise. There was always live music in multiple venues in the evening. The only underused space was the Crow's Nest, where there should have been a ballroom dance ensemble all evening. There were two enrichment lecturers who were excellent. One was a flora and fauna specialist and also did a very good talk on the Galapagos. The other was a specialist in South America, particularly the music and dance. HAL has chosen to combine the cruise director position with the EXC or port lecturer position. In general, this is a mistake since the cruise directors aren't knowledgeable enough to do it. However, we lucked out -- our cruise director had been an EXC manager. He did very good presentations on the ports. The service: I had excellent room stewards. They were efficient, personable and attentive; and they fulfilled every request I had. The first two nights in the MDR, there was a general service issue; it was corrected by the third night. I had early fixed seating and had excellent waiters and wine steward. The service at breakfast and lunch in the MDR was always limited and slow. I only used the Lido buffet a couple of times and found it to be well laid out and well supplied with a variety of foods. The ice cream was exceptional everywhere. As always, I attribute the food service issues to staff cutbacks. As always, the Guest Relations representatives were less than helpful. They have few problem solving skills and no authority to fix anything. Up until the last night, I actually thought I was going to experience a first for all my HAL cruises -- no error on my onboard statement. Alas, it was not to be. When the error was pointed out to the GR rep, she agreed that it should be removed from my final bill before I left the ship; but, of course, it was not. I had to take it up with the corporate office and still don't have my refund. If a request is made in the initial booking for a twin bed cabin configuration, why is this not transmitted to the cabin steward? If the embarkation day's program is supposed to be distributed at check-in, why isn't it? With this many sea days, a passenger book exchange must be provided and properly promoted and labelled. The Canal: I had done the full transit from Ft. Lauderdale to Santiago once before on Celebrity and chose this cruise because it was a similar itinerary. The Canal is endlessly fascinating. Unfortunately the Canal guide provided to the ship was not very informative; we certainly learned nothing about the ships we were seeing, their cargoes, the new canal, the flora and fauna around us. In addition to the provided Canal guide, Celebrity had an enrichment lecturer who did talks about the canal before we got there and did an extensive and informative narrative while we were in the canal. I was expecting the same from HAL and was disappointed. The ports and shore excursions: The first port was Aruba; there are many better ones in the Caribbean that could have been chosen. In South America, all the ports are working ports and require special transportation; it was provided at no charge which was quite nice. I thought all the ports were worth a visit -- Fuerte Amador, Panama; Manta, Ecuador; Trujillo, Lima, and Pisco, Peru. We had to skip Coquimbo, Chile, due to civil unrest. I would highly recommend that the cruise line find another termination port than Santiago. The airline flights from this port are not until late in the evening; the air lines do not open their check-in desks until about three hours before flights; there is no comfortable place to wait in the airport with one's luggage; HAL does not provide a day room in a hotel or at the airport for those who are waiting. This requires an expensive all day shore excursion to be purchased. HAL has really upped its game on shore excursions. In many ports, food and wine focused excursions were offered. I took them all and they were excellent. I read the HAL online shore excursion descriptions, make my decisions based on them, and purchase them before leaving home. For the most part, the excursions as executed were exactly as described. This does not always happen with cruise lines and I expect a refund when it does not. Miscellaneous comments: Approaching Chile, there was a great deal of concern about ongoing civil unrest. I felt that HAL and the captain handled this well and I felt safe with their decisions. The captain kept us well-informed. Indeed, there was a contingency plan in place in case we needed to remain on the ship and disembark in Argentina. If there was ever a time I was glad that I had purchased my air and transfer arrangements from HAL. I felt comfortable in the thought that they would take care of me in this event. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was my first Lindblad expedition experience, 2019 Epic Patagonia and everyday from the first day arriving in Santiago, Chile was better than the last. There were some things that Lindblad had no control over, like the amazing mild and ... Read More
This was my first Lindblad expedition experience, 2019 Epic Patagonia and everyday from the first day arriving in Santiago, Chile was better than the last. There were some things that Lindblad had no control over, like the amazing mild and sunny weather we experienced on almost all the days of this expedition, and the 5 pumas showing up for their portraits at Torres Del Paine. My solo cabin on board the ship was roomier than some double cabins I’ve experienced on other cruise liners. The hospitality on board was amazing. One thing that stood out from day one was how happy everyone who worked for Lindblad seemed to be. The staff and crew on the ship always smiled and greeted me. The Naturalists, photographers and historians on board treated each and every guest like we were old friends. Overall, my first expedition experience was fantastic. Lindblad has me hook, line and sinker. I am looking forward to my next expedition with them in the very near future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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
My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes ... Read More
My experience was not good. They don’t maintain there ships, issues with hot water and air. Needed a vacation from my vacation. I could sleep through the night on any night due to it being hot. Meat was undercooked, my husband likes rare but even he said it raw. Served luck warm and sent back several times. Sell excursions under false pretenses as they said Mira Flores locks were busy and we would most likely see a ship go through. Tour guide said no ships go through 9-3 and all cruise lines know this. Internet very slow and down a couple of days after I payed a lot for it. Guest relations just kept making excuses “it’s hot outside that’s why air does feel good. Paid for a massage and didn’t enjoy it cause it was so hot from no air!!!! Will never go on this ship again. Same activities everyday. Read Less
Sail Date September 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 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
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
My wife and I are totally satisfied with this cruise. Silversea did an excellent job to make your experience as pleasant as possible from the moment you arrived in Quito to the last minute you catch your flight at the airport to return ... Read More
My wife and I are totally satisfied with this cruise. Silversea did an excellent job to make your experience as pleasant as possible from the moment you arrived in Quito to the last minute you catch your flight at the airport to return home. This is not a typical luxury cruise you expect from Silversea. This is probably the best adventure cruise offered to the Galapagos Islands. If you expect Grand Dining room experience, elaborate evening show, daily fitness class and top notched spa and messages, this cruise is not for you! Our daily routine starts at about 6 am getting up, have buffet breakfast (or 24 hours room service if you prefer) and be ready to board the zodiacs to your choice of activities by 7 am. Typically one in the morning and one in the afternoon with snorkeling, kayaking or beach activity in between. I really enjoyed the lunch on deck 5 grill after a rewarding morning adventure to see different species unique to each island. The chef did a wonderful job with special sea food menu each day. The waiters who may not have a good command in English are eager to entertain the guests by singing and dancing to the Latino popular songs played by the piano man. You can sense they are genuinely happy with their jobs! The ship usually set sails to the afternoon location while the guests are having their lunch on deck enjoying the beautiful ocean views. Afternoon activities finished around 4 pm. After showering and an occasional quick nap, we always attended the daily debriefings conducted by the Naturalists who led us to our daily adventures followed by the introduction to the activities on the next day. These sessions are very interesting and educational in a relaxing atmosphere. A perfect prelude to the dinner that followed. Although the dinner menu may not have many choices as the other Silversea's, I found it more than adequate. This is the first time I tried Cow Cheek and Scorpion fish. They are both delicious! Wine choices are mainly local selections of very acceptable quality. We had a wonderful time on this cruise as well as the pre-cruise visit to Quito city and the Equator attraction. Fellow guests we met were all very pleasant and easy to get along. The previous reviewer's family of 4 are charming. The kids are well manor and well liked by the guests and staff. The 2 nights JW Marriott hotel and the EB day hotel are first class. They are included in the cruise fare which I considered very reasonable. If you enjoy nature in an unspoiled natural environment this is the cruise not to miss. There are very few places on earth that you can be so close to animals that are totally not afraid of you, even the Sally long legged crabs will walk past you ignoring your presence! 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
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

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