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60 South America Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

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
A bucket list type trip for sure! The Galapagos islands were truly mesmerizing. They were remote, unspoiled, filled with animals (many endemic to Galapagos) and the scenery was over the top. We chose Silver Seas as it had great ... Read More
A bucket list type trip for sure! The Galapagos islands were truly mesmerizing. They were remote, unspoiled, filled with animals (many endemic to Galapagos) and the scenery was over the top. We chose Silver Seas as it had great ratings and we wanted a slightly larger ship with very experienced naturalists. While the ship holds about 100 people, I think we only had about 85 on board and it never felt crowded. Silver Seas has this down pat! From the moment you arrive at the airport, it is well organized and orchestrated. You never felt rushed or like you were part of a herd. Each experience was personalized and the staff and crew were very polite, respectful and helpful. Each day, you wake up early and head out for excursions. Most days, there were options to choose from. Each excursion started in a zodiac and you headed out to explore an island, snorkel, kayak or visit a small town. Each zodiac had a guide who lead you through the excursion and ensured each guest got the most out of it. The animals are a highlight of the whole trip. They are not afraid of people and you get a very up close (but not too close) experience with sea lions, birds, iguanas, fish and so much more. The ship itself was very nice. Rooms were spacious (for a cruise ship) and well appointed. Your personal butler ensured you had everything you needed and was quick to respond to any special request. Every time we left the room, they came in and cleaned and straightened it up. The ship wasn't new but well kept up. There was only one restaurant and the Grill on board. We had breakfast at the restaurant buffet each morning and chose to have lunch in the Grill on the deck of floor 5. We alternated between the Grill and main restaurant for dinner. The food was very good in both. I do think they could expand the Grill dinner menu beyond on the hot rocks as it was fun the first night and then got a little old. The restaurant food was all excellent and what I would expect at a fine dining establishment. Our fellow travelers were generally 40-60'ish years old and liked a very active vacation. There is little time to rest during the week. You could choose to skip excursions but then why go on this trip? It was action packed and crazy busy but exactly what we expected. There was only 1 child on our trip and about 10 teenagers who seemed to really enjoy it. Most people were part of bigger (6-12 people) groups which included families, siblings, multi generational, friends, etc. One word of warning which Silver Seas is clear about - this is not a trip for anyone that is mobility challenged. The ship isn't set up for it and the excursions all require you to go up and down steep steps on a rocking ship to the zodiac and often disembark in to the ocean and walk ashore to hike on a rugged trail. There is no entertainment on the ship other than a small piano bar for pre-dinner cocktails while watching the sunset. Most people were in their cabins by 10pm resting up for another big day of excursions. Overall, this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip although we may go back again one day and see the Western part of the archipelago. Also, we chose March as the seas were warmer for snorkeling although the air temperature was very warm too. It is the rainy season, but we didn't see even a drop of rainy and it was sunny each day. Can't recommend this trip on the Silver Galapagos highly enough! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
On this cruise, Celebrity got the formula exactly right. Great ports, great food, great accommodations, excellent service and spectacular entertainment! What more could you ask for! This was by far the best cruise we’ve ever taken. ... Read More
On this cruise, Celebrity got the formula exactly right. Great ports, great food, great accommodations, excellent service and spectacular entertainment! What more could you ask for! This was by far the best cruise we’ve ever taken. We’ve sailed with Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity in the past and although each cruise has it’s positive and negative points, we’ve found Celebrity to be the best. CHECK IN: We read all the negative reviews about check in and were concerned. There was no need to be. Celebrity was extremely well organized on this cruise and check-in was a breeze. We received email confirmations about staggered check in times. Each deck was assigned a specific check in time, starting from the top deck downward, and the lines moved quickly. DINING: Overall, meals on board were of good quality. Concierge Class were given a delicious lunch in the main dining room on embarkation day. Although we were aware of this, we were not given the time of the lunch until we had checked in. Saved us from braving the masses at the Oceanview Cafe on embarkation day. We avoided eating at Oceanview mainly for that reason. We chose instead to eat all our meals (including breakfast) in either the main dining room or the specialty restaurants. The Main dining room offered a good variety of choices and service was also good. We tried all the specialty restaurants and the quality, menu choices and service were all superb. They were well worth the additional cost. ENTERTAINMENT: Again, don’t believe all the negative reviews you’ve read. On this particular Celebrity ship, entertainment was superb. The shows each night in the theatre were spectacular. The best we’ve ever experienced on any cruise. The cruise director Giuseppe was young, energetic and had a great sense of humor. His ability to engage the crowd, as well as make things fun and light hearted, are unmatched. He was by far the best cruise director we’ve had on any cruise we’ve taken. EXCURSIONS: Overall, the choice and quality of excursions were disappointing and pricing steep. Better communication, directions and signage would be helpful. CLEANLINESS: Overall good, but could use some improvement. Tables in common areas were obviously not wiped down regularly. Rings and stains from drinks and food were still visible. In addition, young Captain Leo was the most visible and personable of all the Captains on past cruises we’ve taken. It was really nice to see him and the rest of his team engaging and interacting with other passengers. All in all, it was a wonderful cruise and we would definitely recommend and sail with Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National ... Read More
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National Geographic team aboard the Endeavor II gave us an exceptionally motivating expedition of the most unique location on our planet. The experience was enhanced by the warm, friendly, motivated and well-informed staff, especially the expedition leader, Carlos, who was also a comedian. There was no shortage of excellent Ecuadorian food and snacks and drinks. There was even time for early morning stretching on the observation deck and a work out in the gym. One of the most exciting experiences on board was meeting so many new people for the first time. The Lounge and Dining Room were large and cozy enough to make this possible. The frequent visits by zodiacs to the different islands highlighting the unique species was breathtaking to say the least. I've never seen so many beautiful creatures in my life. There's no doubt that I will do this expedition again, soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Why this cruise: to see another side of the world and Machu Picchu with friends. The bad (as it will be shorter): old ship, limited local wine choices, some menu items disappearing quickly, obsolete disco bar in one of the top location ... Read More
Why this cruise: to see another side of the world and Machu Picchu with friends. The bad (as it will be shorter): old ship, limited local wine choices, some menu items disappearing quickly, obsolete disco bar in one of the top location of the ship, senior staff absent. The good: service staff was outstanding, creative and competent. Restaurant staff (Capri) were a lot of fun and Maitre D were outstanding. Cabin service staff were top notch and prove their efficiencies when needed (30 minutes turn around time to get my jacket pressed... my fault). The cruise itinerary met expectations. Port destinations offered were as good as what could be seen. The evening shows were quite good in general, while one was weak. The conferences were very interesting and informative as port destination recommendations (for walkers). Onboarding and outboarding was flawless (my only bad experience was with Budget Rent a Car... no fault of Princess cruise here. I will never rent a car with them again). We took the Machu Picchu land tour option. It was perfect from start to the end (guides, hotel, transfers, staff, destination, food). This tour is on the top end of all tours I have ever done. To keep it simple, if you want to visit South America with Princess, you must include the Machu Picchu tour on your way back. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Wanted to see S America, a Gold Member and travel with 4 other couples 5th cruise! NCL this was the worst cruise, our toilet would not flush on demand, button pushed nothing ... middle of night it flushed reported numerous times! ... Read More
Wanted to see S America, a Gold Member and travel with 4 other couples 5th cruise! NCL this was the worst cruise, our toilet would not flush on demand, button pushed nothing ... middle of night it flushed reported numerous times! Restroom stall doors held on with electrical wire ties(casino men's room). Mens room at The Windjammer had a hole in the wall covered by cardboard and duct tape. Every other NCL cruise we have been on while in port they cleaned the windows not on the Sun! Water spots on most of our pictures. The windows were either dirty or there were numerous window fogged from loss of vacuum! We made reservations for ten in different resteraunts and many times they sitted us at different tables when there were large settings available and were not used while we were there! Shame on NCL! We are looking to cruise Australia and New Zealand later this year and we( all 5 couples) are not sure we will chose NCL this time! One bright spot was Freddie the Bartender at the Champayne Bar! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it ... Read More
The cruise exceeded my expectations in every way. The high point was the 4 days in the Antarctic. I will never forget the joy of watching an iceberg float by with penguins on it - with one every once in a while waving to you, or so it appears. Than you watch some of them dive off and go porpoising across the waters. Later on, an iceberg goes by and they are jumping on. A little further an iceberg goes by with a solitary penguin on it. Your camera is your best friend at this point to help capture this unbelievable spectacle and all the Antarctic beauty ever present around you. And as if that wasn't enough there were the frequent whale spouts, some so close you could hear them, followed by their majestic arch and gigantic tail appearing as they take a deep dive. Than there was, for me, the beauty of the many variety of antarctic birds that followed the ship. One, the wandering albatross has the largest wing span of any bird, up to 10 feet (over 3 meters). The ever changing sea state, ocean color and sun angle made each soaring maneuver another art piece I had to capture. And haven't even mentioned the icebergs - a prime attraction to say the least. As for the ship, it has been maintained in excellent shape. You couldn't ask for a better crew. Very friendly and as one who can testify to their around the clock effort to keep the ship clean, I was often up at all hours to photograph the sun set at midnight or a sun rise at 3:00 AM. My wife and I had a balcony suite, room 7038, port side on deck 7. Perfect in location and size. We had no problem with motion sickness for the moderate sea states we were in. As I have learned from previous cruses, food can be a problematic. If something is too good, I have a hard time passing it up. I would give the food on this cruise a Goldilocks rating - just right. Except perhaps their soups, which I had to try every night, they were so good. The entertainment was all very well done, particularly the dance routines. My wife and I enjoyed dancing to The Ocean Quartet, whenever the sea state permitted. A cruise setting I will always remember is listening to the Adagio violinist and pianist play. Their music made you slow down and take in the moment. I am so thankful they had a CD, Duo Dolce, of their music for sale in the ship's store. Holland American also has to be given a lot of credit for the holiday decoration they had throughout the Zaandam. I knew it was going to be good when I saw 4 pallets of fresh poinsettias waiting to be loaded at San Antonio. Two shore excisions that were exceptional and you should not miss are, first the Volunteer Point King Penguin Rookery when dock at Stanley/Falkland Is/Islas Malvinas. We opted for the ship's excursion package here as this port requires a rather long tender, about 30 minutes, and a jeep ride to Volunteer Point is such you need to get on the first tenders. The Land Rover ride was half the enjoyment and truly a great King penguin experience. The second excursion was a city and tango show in Buenos Aires. We used LIZ ANDREA (liz2arg@yahoo.com. We were a small group and that gives you more flexibility. Liz is a native of the city so she really knows its story and tells it very well. Great command of English and she has very engaging dialog. Not like some recording or scripted speech. Her stories at the cemetery show she is very knowledgeable and passionate about the history like no other. She arranged a Tango show for us that was top notch. What a perfect way to end our cruise. We also used her for our trip to the airport and for a tour day ending at the airport for our flight out that evening. Very responsible guide and driver. You couldn't do better. Would I do it again - in a heart beat. Would I recommend it to a friend - already have. Truly a once in a life time experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
As a semi-surprise birthday trip my husband 'planned' this trip to the Galapagos Islands since it was a dream trip of mine for many decades. We had cruised with Silversea before so we knew traveling with them would be an added ... Read More
As a semi-surprise birthday trip my husband 'planned' this trip to the Galapagos Islands since it was a dream trip of mine for many decades. We had cruised with Silversea before so we knew traveling with them would be an added bonus! The other guests were delightful and since the ship has only 100 passengers, we got to know most of them! The crew was friendly, knowledgeable and fun, too! The guides are from the Galapagos Islands National Park Guide Service and they rotate around the cruise ships - I don't know how we got all the best guides but we did! :) Knowledgeable and fun. The day trips were always informative and interesting. The animals steal the show and rightfully so! We could go on and on about the sea lions and the boobie birds, other birds, iguanas, other flora and fauna - which vary from island to island. So much to take in! Wonderful trip!!!!! This cruise had no formal nights - which was nice since we had a lot of other items to pack for the expedition cruise. Bonus: We loved having wet suits and snorkeling gear provided for us -- no need to pack that!! (We swam with sea lions and sharks! And saw amazing schools of fish, starfish, rays, etc!!!!!) It is a busy day each day as they try to make the most of your trip and everything is so top notch. We did sit out one activity on one day as there was just too much going on and we needed a bit of a break. With that said - some of the island hikes were way to slow paced. You DO always need to be mindful of your footing - it's just the roughness of the islands - rocks and boulders and such. You need the proper shoes for you own best outcome! (They also provided walking sticks for those who needed them!) But we are used to hiking and moving about more. We DID appreciate they took into account everyone's abilities and I do think that might have been part of the issue. We did enjoy many times, the ability to just stand and enjoy the animals and scenery--that's why we came! The tortoises were show stoppers!!!! Loved seeing them in their natural habitat and at the preserve! The food was great! We loved the local food sourcing!!! The chef made sure there was different offerings and all were tasty! The piano man - Alfred- was fun. The butlers marvelous....great folks all around! Pre-cruise and post-cruise hotels they booked were EXCELLENT!!!!!!!! This was an added bonus - so many times the pre and post cruise parts are nice but these were EXCELLENT, especially our hotel in Guayaquil. We appreciated the half-day room. The amenities were really over the top! If you are wondering if you should go the answer is easy; it's: YES!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We started this trip in Guayaquil where a Silversea representative waited for us at the airport and took us to Oro Verde Hotel (very good, very close to the city main attraction (malecon)) a day before the embarkation. From Guayaquil we ... Read More
We started this trip in Guayaquil where a Silversea representative waited for us at the airport and took us to Oro Verde Hotel (very good, very close to the city main attraction (malecon)) a day before the embarkation. From Guayaquil we flew with Latam to San Cristobal (1h and 25min). As a lot of flights arrived at same time, immigration took almost one hour. From airport was a 5 minutes bus ride to the pier where we got the zodiac to the ship with our carry-on. Soon after our luggage arrived at our cabin which was a veranda suite. We loved that we got it as we spend a lot of time in the Veranda while sailing from one spot to other as well as we could dry our clothes and shoes easily. There are plenty of open air space in the ship that you can rest between meals and landings. There are also in-door space like piano bar and library should you want to be in the air conditioning. July is the dry season and temperature was really good. Food was great at all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). We had breakfast every day at the Restaurant as well as dinner except for one evening that we tried the Grill where we had all our lunches. Lunch was superb at the Grill, but dinner at the lava rock was a disappointing, we never got back. Some disappointing issues: shower has half door which makes bathroom wet everywhere. Bathroom is really small. Disembarkation was not very good. In the night before some items from our cabin were changed to the new guest to come in the following day, which confused us. On Saturday morning we had to leave our cabin at 7:30, but transfer to the airport was at 9:30, so we stayed at the piano bar for 2 hours waiting. Silversea provided exhibition of some films during this period, but in the end, the toilets were miserable with a 100 guests using it during 2 hours. We were transferred to the airport and our flight was schedule for about 1 PM. A long waiting time. I noticed that guests from Celebrity had a meal waiting for them at the airport. Great trip! We loved it and strongly recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
It seemed very streamlined for the experiences we wanted. We were able to have everything organized for us & all we had to do was show up! Extremely knowledgeable staff and first class all the way from pre-cruise hotel in Quito to ... Read More
It seemed very streamlined for the experiences we wanted. We were able to have everything organized for us & all we had to do was show up! Extremely knowledgeable staff and first class all the way from pre-cruise hotel in Quito to getting to the lovely cruise ship made it a great experience. The places we visited & expeditions we went on gave a wonderful overview of the Galapagos. We would probably have missed many of the highlights if we tried to do on our own. The small size ship made it much more personal.The very experienced guides really made the difference in it being a far superior experience than we could have even hoped for. The open air grill restaurant was where everyone wanted to be so at lunch there were never enough tables and people tried to go early to get tables but sometimes you just got back from excursions & by the time you got there the tables were all taken up. The alternative was to eat in downstairs restaurant but the outside environment was much more desired. So, only suggestion would be more space in open air grill restaurant. And, perhaps some more outdoor relaxing areas. The one area outside the piano bar with 4 lounge couches was very coveted, also. For the number of passengers there needed to be a little more deck relaxing areas. The indoor areas were plentiful but I think a lot of people on a cruise want to be outside looking at the ocean. Also, the fresh air areas were tainted quite often with smell of paint & varnish. I realize maintenance must be difficult to schedule but when paying for a cruise & hoping for nice fresh ocean air, it is a little disappointing to smell varnish & paint instead of fresh air. Those couple of minor annoyances did not detract enough from the overall phenomenal experience to not want to do it again. It was the best experience ever getting to see the unique wildlife up close & personal & to get to learn so much at same time. The guides were ALL so very knowledgeable & very personable. There were so many amazing things we were privileged to see & experience that we will absolutely recommend this cruise to others and we will want to experience another Silversea cruise in our future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Brilliant and well organised activities every day. Getting on and off the zodiacs was a lot of fun but after a few days it was really easy. The Naturalists were fantastic,full of entertainment and fun as well as facts and ... Read More
Brilliant and well organised activities every day. Getting on and off the zodiacs was a lot of fun but after a few days it was really easy. The Naturalists were fantastic,full of entertainment and fun as well as facts and information. The ship was good and with only 42 other guests we managed to talk to everyone else on board. Cabin was spacious enough and had everything we needed. It was well serviced each day and we never had to ask for anything at all. Food was first rate.Lots of choices and always fresh and excellent quality.We were vegetarians and we were accommodated and well looked after. The staff were truly great.They could not do enough for you.They managed to get to know your name quickly and anticipated your requirements too. All ship staff were pleasant and happy to help with any requirement. We walked.we swam,we hiked,we snorkelled and we took lots and lots of photographs each day. I would wholeheartedly recommend this cruise to any nature lover. Special word of praise for Dora ,the group leader,she made everything sing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We escorted a group aboard Celebrity XPerience on the 10 day itinerary. The journey started with 2 days at the JW Marriott in Quito. Great hotel, with great service. It's about a 45 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. We ... Read More
We escorted a group aboard Celebrity XPerience on the 10 day itinerary. The journey started with 2 days at the JW Marriott in Quito. Great hotel, with great service. It's about a 45 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. We stayed there again on our last night and thought it may have been more convenient to stay at the Wyndham near the airport. I'm sure it's not of the same quality, but between the drive and check in for our 8:30am flight, we had to leave the hotel at 5am. Surprisingly the JW Marriott didn’t have turn down service. But everybody was very helpful. We were given roses on several occasions and they were beautiful with an amazing fragrance. The water is not drinkable so we were given bottled complementary water with every meal. We ate at The Hacienda, a very nice Steak Restaurant. Celebrity has a staffed desk in the hotel, as does Silversea. The Celebrity staff provided us with BPA free plastic bottles to refill with water, to reduce plastic waste. Since we were there during Holy Week, we were told that our tour on (Good) Friday would be changed. Instead of going to the Colonial Quarter, we would go to the Botanical Gardens. The Colonial Quarter was closed for Easter processions. So we went on our own, the day we arrived, to explore the area. On Friday we took the tour with the Celebrity guides, visiting the volcanoes, Botanical garden, the “Winged Virgin Mary”, protector of the city, the Equator and other sites. On Saturday it was finally time to go to the Galapagos. We flew on Avianca to Guayaquil and had a short stop over there. The flight was uneventful, but the flight attendants were among the nastiest we have ever experienced. Can’t say I would fly them again. The return flight was not much better. Finally it was time to board the 48 passenger Celebrity XPerience. To be honest, all of us were disappointed in the condition of the ship. It is pretty “tired”. When I planned the cruise, I went by the assumption that Celebrity had refurbished the ship. If they did, I couldn’t tell. The pictures on the website are definitely “enhanced”. The staff, however, is amazing and did their ultimate to please everybody. The cabins are very clean and “functional”. For ecological reasons we were asked not to flush toilet paper. The shower curtain, was an irritant to us. Although the food was very good, all meals are served buffet style, which was another disappointment. We had 2 Vegetarians and one person on a Gluten Free diet and they were very happy with their choice of meals. Every night we were presented with the next day's itinerary n the Lounge. It was then posted on the TV. After dinner they showed movies about the Galapagos. Since most of us were tired then, I suggested maybe showing the movies in loop. I don't know if they will. While talking to some of the staff I found out that this ship will be “retired” soon. That was not a big surprise. Once the new ship, Flora, comes on line accommodating 98 guests, the now 98 passenger XPedition will be totally redone to accommodate 48 passengers on a double occupancy basis, or 64 maximum. It should be very spacious. At that time XPerience and XPloration will be retired. Overall, we had a fabulous time. Everybody enjoyed the cruise and exploring the Galápagos Islands . It is a very active vacation, so be ready for that. As I said before, the staff, including the Naturalists made the cruise totally enjoyable and a big success. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise as we were a group of 10 persons who have all travelled widely and were looking for new destinations. The Panama Canal cruise with South American ports of call ticked most of the group's boxes. The ship's ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were a group of 10 persons who have all travelled widely and were looking for new destinations. The Panama Canal cruise with South American ports of call ticked most of the group's boxes. The ship's facilities were excellent as were the entertainment on sailing days and evening theatre. The state room cabins were excelent and were perfectly serviced by the cabin steward. The stand out service on the ship was the evening dining in the Trellis Restaurant. We were provided with a group table for 10 persons and were attended too excelently by a waiter, assistant waiter and sommellier every evening that we dined in the restuarant. The shore excursions were excellent with well trained guides in attendance. The shore excursion to Manta was not to the same standard as the other excursions. Unfortunately, what could have been a 5 star cruise and matching survey was really let down by the chaotic embarkation at San Antonio, Chile and the even more chaotic disembarkation at Port Lauderdale where most of the ship's passengers were kept in line for over 3.5 hours waiting for US Border control to allow entry. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
If you want the best cruise for exciting excursions, great service, excellent food - this cruise is perfect. The cruise lived up to documentaries we have seen about the ship. The ship is tidy and clean - outer windows are rinsed with ... Read More
If you want the best cruise for exciting excursions, great service, excellent food - this cruise is perfect. The cruise lived up to documentaries we have seen about the ship. The ship is tidy and clean - outer windows are rinsed with fresh water in port. Part of the total experience is the international make-up of passengers - really diverse and interesting. Everything is super organized from mealtimes, planning shore excursions, disembarking the ship to zodiacs for excursions. The dining is great. The food is varied and plentiful at each meal. The entertainment is either a pertinent movie or documentary of the history of the area, or information regarding the current state of what is on each excursion often accompanied by pictures. There is a tour of the bridge. Passengers are divided into groups according to a language they understand or other previously designated group to which they belonged. Excursion guides are extremely knowledgeable about plants, history, geography, geology, water life - many speak 3-6 languages. Suggestions are available for an off-shore port excursion such as Ushuaia. Passengers are handled with great care yet moved with a degree of expediency that is inherent with any excursion. Overall the crew are very skilled at the separate tasks performed and personable giving attention to all individuals in each group. Instructions are crystal clear. Information is superlative regarding conditions for levels of excursions where applicable - so individuals can make well informed and responsible choices. Nothing is promised that the cruise can't deliver - if weather is a factor preventing an excursion from starting, all is explained well. Safety is the first consideration as it should be. We are really impressed with the 'first class' performance of the Stella Australis. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This is a great way to see the Galapagos. As I said to the Silversea rep from whom I bought the cruise, "Where else can you act like you are in your 20's during the day's activities and go back to being 70+ when back at the ... Read More
This is a great way to see the Galapagos. As I said to the Silversea rep from whom I bought the cruise, "Where else can you act like you are in your 20's during the day's activities and go back to being 70+ when back at the ship?". Caution, however: You do have to be willing to be physically taxed. Getting on to and off the ship is not for disabled, crippled or otherwise challenged individuals, because the very nature of having to get into and out of Zodiacs, which are small bobbly vessels. Staff make doing this as safe and easy as possible, but they are what they are. We were well taken care of, mostly personally, and always well from the time we got out of baggage claim in Guayaquil until the moment we passed through security on our way home. Silversea reps were all uniformly friendly, helpful and efficient. The ship's crew and hotel staff, and the guiding staff as well, were all highly professional and certainly more than willing to go the extra step to making everyone welcome, cared for, happy - and safe - the whole time. The itinerary and daily expedition parts of the cruise were extremely well planned and executed. There was something interesting and new at virtually every stop and several of the guides (Martin, Ernesto, Marco) are absolutely first class. They are intelligent, impart information without fluff or padding, know their stuff thoroughly and guide extremely well. (They also have a pretty good handle on herding cats without letting frustrations show.) On stops, passengers are broken down into Zodiac/guide groups of 14-14 and we always tried to make sure we were with one of these three. (Our experience with one or two of the other guides was indifferent, suggesting they have a bit to learn yet.) Food and drink service was uniformly good, often superior to excellent. Staff get to know you quickly, what you drink and how you like to be treated. And they do so with warmth and aplomb. A few are clearly still learning their trade and sometimes a bit hesitant or flustered, but all are willing and rapidly becoming able. Food also was very good. The breakfast spread is varied, plenteous and more than enough to satisfy anyone's tastes and appetite. Ditto for lunch on the patio and dinner in the dining room, with menus changing daily. You also have the option of reserving a place in The Grill for dinner in the evening, where the menu is a bit more limited, but beautifully served in a great outdoor atmosphere. Roberto, our waiter there was super: Knowledgeable, efficient, always friendly and extremely personable. What else can I say? If I had know that there were two different itineraries, I would have booked for two cruises back to back (i.e., two weeks). It is that good an experience. This is the best way to see the Galapagos for people who like to do things and are also old enough to want to enjoy the experience without hardship or dealing with third-world "adventure" when the day is done. Age doesn't necessarily matter: It is, however, for people who are reasonably fit and adventuresome. If you are relatively young and really fit, you will have a tremendous time snorkelling and kayaking. [One night I had a bit of a stomach upset, and this was mentioned on other days by one or two other people we met. I don't know whether this was just my older body reacting to the desalinated water supply aboard. But it was nowhere near enough to slow me down the next day.] Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The itinerary on Celebrity Infinity was excellent: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia to Cape Horn to Antarctica to Port Stanley, Falkland’s, to Puerto Madryn to Montevideo and back to Buenos Aires. The only issue with it was the first [boring] 3 ... Read More
The itinerary on Celebrity Infinity was excellent: Buenos Aires to Ushuaia to Cape Horn to Antarctica to Port Stanley, Falkland’s, to Puerto Madryn to Montevideo and back to Buenos Aires. The only issue with it was the first [boring] 3 days at sea, but we skipped them by flying to Ushuaia directly. (Yet, Celebrity, of course, not only issues no refund for those 3 days, but charges a fee to allow you to embark in a different port. The funny part of that was a call from them on the day of the departure with a question of why we are not on the ship. Despite the fee charged, they did not bother to communicate our embarkation exclusion to the vessel!) There's more. Unfortunately, a week before sailing, Celebrity sent an email that they have a problem with the ship’s propulsion system, as such they won’t have sufficient speed and will have to cancel our visit to Puerto Madryn. It was very bad news, but at least they promised to refund one day as an excuse; not a fair exchange of course but something. (Later on the ship, during our Inside Access Tour, we of course asked in the mechanical room what the problem they have with the propulsion system, but the crew politely did not give an answer.) The worst part came later. They suddenly cancelled Port Stanley as well. This time it was “for safety reasons”, saying that the weather is too bad there, that it’s a strong wind of 55-80 kph and getting to the shores is not possible. Alas, there is a big problem with this statement. First of all, the crew already knew and many people told us two days before that we won’t go to Port Stanley; that's before there was any reliable weather information. Also, our sailing through Drake Passage was extremely smooth. We were really lucky with the weather! Then at 5 AM on the morning we were supposed to sail to Port Stanley I checked the weather there and it was …sunny with 50 kph wind indeed but also CALMING to 25 kph during the day. Nonetheless, “for our safety” we did not go there. Of course, people attacked all officers with tons of questions. The main one being why not visit Puerto Madryn or another port in Argentina instead. We got no answer. I also had an opportunity to ask the captain personally on the real reason for skipping Stanley. The answer was, “I’m the captain, I know better.” So, it looks like Celebrity Infinity either has a big technical problem with the vessel (and then it’s a real safety issue!) or saves money on port fees, etc., maximizing their profits. Either way, my advice is to never use this company. They have no respect for their customers, easily ruining vacations for 2000+ people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The crew works extremely hard to make sure you have a great time, and to overcome issues you may run into. Javier, our naturalist, grew up on the Islands, and knew how to make the excursions entertaining. He was terrific. There is a ... Read More
The crew works extremely hard to make sure you have a great time, and to overcome issues you may run into. Javier, our naturalist, grew up on the Islands, and knew how to make the excursions entertaining. He was terrific. There is a great attention to safety, and you always feel like someone is there if you falter on land or sea. Cabins are good size. I had been on the Eclipse the week before, and the shower on this boat was actually bigger than on the Eclipse. I, personally, have bad knees, so here are a few things to think about if you have this or some other disability: 1). This is a small boat with steep ladders between decks. You need to be able to climb them. 2). There is only one naturalist on board, and only 1 type of excursion. The larger boats offer options for people who are not as nimble. In spite of what Celebrity tells you, this boat does not. What they did do for me, which worked well, was send an additional crew member with me, to help me over rough spots and to allow me to return early, which I did a few times. They also offered me a Zodiac ride in places where I didn't hike. I got to see most of the same animals on the ride. 3). Everything is done with Zodiacs. You have to be able to get in and out of them several times a day. This is a small boat and it rocks quite a bit. We went during calm seas, and it was pretty bumpy at times. In rough seas this would be an issue, at least for me. There is wireless internet, but its very very slow. Food is good; very fresh, Tasty and plentiful but the variety is far less than a big cruise ship. That was fine for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
The cruise's itinerary is interesting. However the ship itself is old and needs refurbishing. Reception desk - could be better. They weren't very helpful when a problem arose. Room - needed refurbishing ... Read More
The cruise's itinerary is interesting. However the ship itself is old and needs refurbishing. Reception desk - could be better. They weren't very helpful when a problem arose. Room - needed refurbishing badly. Bathroom appliances are old and need a replacement. But cleaning service did their best to keep the cabin clean. They also worked very fast and immediately responded to every request. Port and shore excursions were very good, and local guides were exceptional. Dining - very good in the dining rooms and buffet, a lot of attention from the waiting staff. Embarkation - our luggage arrived after 7:00 PM. We realize that if was due to the issues in the port, but we traveled a long distance and we had no cloth to change to after taking a shower. Disembarkation on the other hand was very smooth and well organized. Entertainment - I will give a C+. Two of production shows were simply awful, mostly because of female singers. Music around the ship is not impressive at all. Same goes for the featured singers and comedian that performed in the theater (except for Teacake). One will wonder if any of the artists had any auditions before getting the job. On the other hand comedian that performed in the Explorer lounge was excellent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise because it was recommended by Butterfield and Robinson. We have traveled three times before on private, Bespoke family trips with them. And previously have stayed in luxurious and unique accommodations. We definitely ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was recommended by Butterfield and Robinson. We have traveled three times before on private, Bespoke family trips with them. And previously have stayed in luxurious and unique accommodations. We definitely were unprepared for the Xperience. As we approached the ship we saw the rusted anchor and hand painted Xperience sign on the boat. Celebrity lists the ship as being remodeled I think in 2017. The dining room looks pretty good, the reception area about a grade B. The staterooms are another story. New bed coverings and pillows, the rest I don't think had been touched. This ship used to be the M/V Eclipse which came to be in the 80's. The bathroom is like something from summer camp. We were in room 400, Elite ocean view. The most expensive category on the ship. Our adult children were premium ocean view, the second most expensive category. Our cabin attendant George was amazing,efficient and always smiling- a true asset to this aging ship! But even George can't make up for no wi-fi ( had to ask the hotel manager what the password was and he finally gave it to us written on a post it note)- think we were finally able to connect probably twice in the reception area) a TV that doesn't work( only get channels 21,22,30 and only play old DVD's- most of the time you get only 2 of those channels- sometime none- and never lets you watch a whole movie without cutting out- by the way Celebrity lists this as satellite TV. Celebrity also says you can pick a firmness for your mattress and pillow type- never was asked about that. And the bathroom- hope I can post a picture . The food was always served buffet style. Plenty of variety, the quality was pretty much like summer camp- dorm food . The wait staff is attentive and amazing. We just loved them. I got severe diarrhea on the second day,that's six full days on the ship, a long plane ride home and it's still with me as I post today. We had six people in our party and 1/2 got it. I talked to several other guests and they had the same problem. One night I looked around at dinner and one full table of 8 was gone, with two other tables missing guests. In a ship that holds 48 guests, really doesn't advertise any kind of room service, and has no fast food or alternate dining choices available I think that is very telling. Thank goodness they had a ships doctor onboard. Had we been warned that the ship was, as the wonderful guide Karina stated "more like a summer camp" we would have prepared ourselves and possibly booked another ship- possibly the Silver Seas. The Galapagos is a magical very remote place-but for those who want a luxury experience- this truly isn't it. This trip was probably the most expensive trip our family has booked to date. If you look at Butterfield and Robinsons trips for 2018 they seem to have chosen another vessel for their trips Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
The Amazon always sounded so exotic to me and when I saw that Viking was doing a 21 day Caribbean to the Amazon it was a must try. Must try because we were on the Viking Sea in Norway July 2017 and were having a wonderful time (save that ... Read More
The Amazon always sounded so exotic to me and when I saw that Viking was doing a 21 day Caribbean to the Amazon it was a must try. Must try because we were on the Viking Sea in Norway July 2017 and were having a wonderful time (save that for another review). We booked on board the Viking Sea during our July cruise and were ready for our adventure 5 months later. The first and last part in the Caribbean were as expected with azure blue seas, tropical breezes and some snorkeling. The hurricane damage from the 2017 season was evident though. We were the only ship in port in St. Thomas. Never before for us! Arriving at the Amazon after 4 days at sea, port of Iles du Salut, French Guiana had to be pasted by due to delay of a container in Barbados. Major disappointment for most on board. Continuing 1000 miles roundtrip to Manaus, Brazil with 3 additional stops all hit the low bar. Included tours were below expectations with views of notable buildings only from the outside, slums and dirty rivers seen from the buses. The onboard entertainment with a relatively new cruise director was totally lacking. He told us that the owner of Viking expected us to be racing books. That astounded me! Glad we brought a board game from home or would have been ready to jump ship. The highlight for me was the Piranha fishing in Santarem, Brazil that I paid extra for. Viking has moved low on our list now but still have a 23 day river and pre-cruise scheduled with them this summer. This was our 39th cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
A chance to see and experience the amazing Amazon was the draw. The boat, the food, the cabin, the on board service - and the Amazon River - was excellent. FIRST CLASS. The on shore tours were generally mediocre. While this was ... Read More
A chance to see and experience the amazing Amazon was the draw. The boat, the food, the cabin, the on board service - and the Amazon River - was excellent. FIRST CLASS. The on shore tours were generally mediocre. While this was Viking's first time in the Amazon - IT SHOWED. Not even close to our experience on other Viking tours. (One big exception was the outstanding local pageant in Parentis. That was exceptional. The rest left much to be desired.) Many of the local guides were not at all fluent in English. The "Included" tour in Belem was a "march to hell". Virtually no commentary while walking (understandable, because we ran). Pleas to "slow down, you have a group of seniors" went unheeded. The shipboard lectures, however were top draw... as I would have expected from Viking. We took the Viking Montreal to NYC cruise last year. The experience was excellent. That is why we signed up for the Amazon. A real disappointment. The experience vs cost makes me seriously question another Viking Ocean cruise Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Husband and I rate this trip is one of the best we have ever taken. Mostly because of the service of the Holland America staff was amazing? All staff including our Captain to the carpenters who built last minute dock with a Chief where ... Read More
Husband and I rate this trip is one of the best we have ever taken. Mostly because of the service of the Holland America staff was amazing? All staff including our Captain to the carpenters who built last minute dock with a Chief where there was none on the Amazon River's edge. We met wonderful people we now consider friends. Our cruise had its fair share of mishaps which of only added to the cruise experience. There was propeller concerns in Martinique, extra five hours. We drifted in Alantic ocean for 10 hours, our captain kept us informed at all times what was going on and then bough the entire ship drinks for an hour. The presentations were of professional quality and we learned a lot. I would say this was not recommended for children. On our entire ship there was one child. For those who do not do well with traveling with advanced age people, you might want to consider something else also. I will say it was embarrassing when 80 and 90-year-olds were doing far better than my husband and I who are in our 60s. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us. The Amazon itinerary might not be for everybody, but we sure enjoyed it. We are going to be spending many times and years talking about this journey. I would recommend to do this one at least once. Like I said in the beginning this was the best trip we've ever taken. We would not change a thing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
First time Crystal Cruise...”Amazon Escape” Oct. 27 - Nov. 20, 2017 (24 Days) The Embarkation Process was disorganized & confusing...it took nearly 3 hours...Wasn’t a good start...apparently, the Crystal Cruises Headquarters ... Read More
First time Crystal Cruise...”Amazon Escape” Oct. 27 - Nov. 20, 2017 (24 Days) The Embarkation Process was disorganized & confusing...it took nearly 3 hours...Wasn’t a good start...apparently, the Crystal Cruises Headquarters decided to drastically reduce prices to fill the ship...this cruise required a Brazilian Visa and a Yellow Fever Inoculation...Which meant, several hundreds of guests, unable to meet the aforementioned requirements slowed the process for those who booked and paid a much higher price to have to wait...this could have been handled more efficiently and professionally... Once onboard, our Penthouse w/ verandah (PS Cat.) was very well appointed...we had fabulous room attendants (Anna-Marie and Raylene)...superior service was provided all around the entire ship... The Entertainment was just as billed...”Broadway” quality...so many talented individuals! From Irina, Richard, Boytan & Charlie James to the flown in Entertainment of Billie Joel Musician James Fox...the female vocalist, Helen, (supposedly operatic trained...???destroyed Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music” lyrics...the Crystal Dance & Music Troupe were Awesome!! Shore Excursions were a “hit or miss”...could have done without the “Boca de Valeria” port of call...?? Indigenous People with satellites and pandering chained animals from the rainforest for money...poor taste for such a high-end ship... Found this cruise to have a high minimum age; 70’s...one English fellow described the cruise as “The recently resurrected...” Thought some of the Excursions were a little dangerous; as many were having trouble walking. Most guests were cheerful & friendly; some need to take classes in Courteousness...very rude to others and crew members. The ship is still outdated in some areas...however, the Amazing, enthusiastic crew made upfor any of the other failings... Leo, Igor, Charlton & Dining Room Team are all a Class Act! The food! The Cuisine was Incredible...I did not have one bad meal the entire river adventure... Edwin in the Tastes & Trident Grill area always, always had a beautiful smile and extremely polite! Erica & Okan (hope I am not butchering his name) & Kaustius Awesome Service! Truly, for just over 3 weeks, we found the Captain’s Mid-day History lessons very enlightening; as well as all the Keynote Speakers; Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Jay Wulff, and others extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields of interest... Our stateroom was on the Penthouse House Deck 11...walk in closet finished in gorgeous walnut stain...the modern decor refreshing color palette of creams, grays & plum... Our State Room Butler Engin was superlative! So elegant and professional... We really enjoyed Tilmar (Head Sommelier) in the Vintage Room...very passionate & a delight Needs some tweaking in the Emarkation & Disembarkation for a more organized and smooth transition...this is after all a leader in the luxury industry... So, over all; we enjoyed our river adventure so much, I am booking the upcoming “World Cruise 2018” from LA to Rome... Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
It has taken me over a month from my return from the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition to be able to think of sufficient words to describe this wonderful and unique cruise. My husband and I have done 44 cruises and this one has to rank ... Read More
It has taken me over a month from my return from the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition to be able to think of sufficient words to describe this wonderful and unique cruise. My husband and I have done 44 cruises and this one has to rank up there in the top three. We spent two nights either side of our cruise in the JW Marriott hotel in Quito, and this set the standard of our high expectations from Day 1. Organisation and planning was superb, even down to Celebrity reserving the VIP lounge for us at Baltra airport on our arrival after a two-hour flight from Quito. I would not describe this trip as a 'cruise' as it was more of an expedition and adventure. There were 91 of us (the Xpedition holds 96 passengers) so everyone got to know everyone else very quickly on the week-long voyage. The ship itself is gorgeous, beautifully decorated and very comfortable. We had to embark and disembark using the inflatable Zodiac dinghies, each of which holds 16 passengers. Water shoes are needed for the 'wet' landings and stout trainers or walking shoes for the 'dry' landings, which often involved clambering over uneven rocks and ground. We were allocated cabin 416 and we had no complaints at all. There was a comfortable double bed, bedside cabinet, sofa and coffee table, flat screen TV and dressing table and stool. There was also a fridge containing complimentary soft drinks, and each day our cabin stewardess would place fresh fruit and canapés in the cabin, as well as a bottle of prosecco on ice on one occasion. All the food and drinks (including cocktails) were all-inclusive and were of a very high standard. There was no featured entertainment such as one would find on the large cruise ships, but a lot of the time we made our own entertainment and the Ecuadorian staff would put on "Latin Nights" for us and teach us to salsa and merengue, or there would be quizzes, wildlife presentations, Galapagos documentaries and plenty of other things to keep us occupied. It was also a very educational and informative experience. There are 19 islands in the archipelago, and only five of these are inhabited. It was fantastic and not a little emotional at times to be somewhere and see absolutely nothing that was man-made. The array of wildlife has to be seen to be believed; it is like nowhere else on the planet. I could spend all day trying to describe the beauty and unspoilt ruggedness and still come nowhere near being able to do it justics. We spent our days hiking, swimming, snorkelling and just feeling privileged to be in such a gorgeous place. The trip was very expensive (five figures in pounds) but worth every single penny. Simply wonderful. it was our first cruise with Celebrity and it certainly won't be the last; in fact we are booked to go on the Celebrity Constellation in January 2018. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017

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