The ship has one dining room, on Deck 3 (called Weather Deck onboard) and one alfresco dining area, aft on the same deck. Breakfast is served in the dining room but lunch, whenever possible, is outdoors, as are two barbecue dinners every week. All meals are open seating, with tables for four, six and eight, inside and outside.
What's unusual about this ship is that all meals are buffet. Meal times vary according to the day's activities but typically, breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. and the first hike or snorkel is at 8:30. Lunch is usually noon or 12:30 p.m. but again, varies; on the day visiting Isabela Island, for example, there's a pre-breakfast Zodiac ride, late breakfast, midmorning snacks, snorkeling and then a late lunch.
Dinner is usually at 7:30 p.m. after the briefing for the following day, but there are exceptions. When the ship is moored off San Cristobal Island, for example, there's a deck buffet at 6:15 p.m., timed to coincide with sunset behind the dramatic spike of Kicker Rock, one of the week's best photo-opportunities (wildlife aside).
Breakfast is a lavish display of hot dishes, pastries, tropical fruits and cereal. Hash browns, eggs, bacon and fried mushrooms are staples, plus there's an omelet station and on a couple of day, waffles or crepes. Waiters circulate with tea and coffee.
Lunch consists of three or four salads and a small salad bar; cheeses and cold cuts; some excellent ceviche soups, served with popcorn and plantain chips; four hot main courses, such as grilled sea bass, beef stew or curried quinoa (a local specialty); and a selection of desserts like chocolate brownie with homemade ice cream, or creme brulee. The fish onboard is as fresh as it gets; one of the many charities Celebrity Cruises supports in the Galapagos is a processing plant in which local fishermen can clean, store and sell their catch. One day, an enormous red snapper, caught that morning, was the centerpiece of the lunch buffet.
Dinner is also buffet style, with a salad bar, a soup of the day and then a range of hot dishes, usually including one chicken, one fish, one red meat and something vegetarian. Four or five cheeses and a selection of desserts are brought out halfway through the meal. On two nights, there was a barbecue on deck, with steaks, sausages, fresh fish, giant shrimp and chicken, as well as grilled corn and a salad buffet.
Wines are poured with lunch and dinner (or at any other time, as it's an open bar), with some excellent Chilean and Californian reds and whites, and a couple of choices of rose.
An eclectic array of snacks and some delicious fresh juices are laid out as a welcome back from tours -- anything from slices of fresh pineapple to potato croquettes with a chili dip, or white chocolate balls coated with coconut. Furthermore, tea and coffee are always available from a machine at Reception, as are packs of cookies like chocolate chip or Oreos.
Room service isn't advertised -- there's no menu, for example -- but is available on request, for example, if you're not feeling well.
Celebrity Xperience Ship Stats
- Crew: 42
- Launched: 1982
- Decks: 4
- Passengers: 48
- Registry: Ecuador