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25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try ... Read More
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try to book mainline cruise trips for $100 or less per person per day. Needless to say, there is no such option in the Galapagos. The best “deal” we could find in relative comfort was on Celebrity’s 100 passenger Xpedition. In an effort to save some money, we booked the least expensive cabin we could find at the least expensive time of the year. And we avoided the expensive mainland add-ons (to Quito and elsewhere) that Celebrity sells, booking only the seven day cruise and making all of our flight arrangements to and from the Galapagos ourselves. OK, after all of that, our cruise price per person (including taxes and fees) was still about $560 per person per day, making this the most expensive cruise we have ever done. Was it worth it? Absolutely! One thing that mitigates the cost is that this cruise is truly all inclusive. For example, no tipping is expected, and all types of alcohol are included. The only additional things my wife and I paid for on board was a $30 bag of laundry and a $23 bottle of sunblock. Yeah, not a typo, bring a lot of sunblock so you don’t have to buy any on board. We arrived two nights early and stayed in the small town of Puerto Ayora. There is a $20 visa fee tourists have to pay, and a $100 national park fee at the airport. Now Celebrity pays this as part of your cruise package, but when we arrived the officials at the airport did not yet have the “list” of Celebrity passengers, so we had to pay the fee. On the day our cruise began, however, Celebrity immediately refunded our payment, so that was no problem. OK, some details about the cruise. Embarkation was a breeze. We made our way back to the airport on the morning of the cruise and met with a Celebrity rep there. After a pleasant one-hour wait in the terminal, they put us on a short bus ride to the Baltra marina, and an Xpedition zodiac met us at the marina and took us out to the Xpedition. We were then shown immediately to our cabin. Our oceanview cabin was not particularly remarkable. In terms of size and layout it was very similar to oceanview cabins we have had on larger cruise ships. The shower was a bit bigger, and nicer, than some we have had on other ships. There was plenty of hot water, good water pressure, and the in room hair dryer worked well. The water that comes out of the taps in your cabin is, of course, potable, but it also tastes of chlorine, so the ship also has drinking water dispensers on each deck that have no chlorine taste. The food served in the main dining room was also similar in quality to what we have had on other cruise ships, but was more limited in variety and, not surprisingly, heavy on fish and seafood dishes. The food was not the best we have had, but it easily met our expectations, given the difficulty of resupply that the Xpedition faces. We were told that about 50% of the food is sourced locally, but many products that we westerners are used to (like beef) have to be flown in by Celebrity or otherwise sourced over long distances. And some of the food has to be specially treated before being allowed in the Galapagos. Ok, and now the superlatives. The ratio of crew to passengers on the Xpedition is very high, with 62 crew members vs 100 passengers. And that meant a level of service we have not experienced on any cruise. For example, our room was serviced multiple times a day, seemingly every time we left it (OK, maybe not quite that often). When we were in the bar or restaurant the waiters were constantly circulating and asking if they could get you something. And when we would return from a shore excursion the staff was always right there waiting with cold beverages and snacks. One thing that surprised me, but I guess shouldn’t have, is that the crew was almost entirely Ecuadoran. In fact, 61 out of 62, including the Captain, were Ecuadoran. What a competent, energetic, and pleasant group of people. Hey, but accommodations, food, and ship board service are not really why you come to the Galapagos. It is for the wildlife! And Celebrity shines in getting you to the action. Each day of the cruise you have at least two activities, morning and afternoon. There were three basic types of activities: a walk ashore, a snorkel, or a lengthy zodiac ride (without landing or snorkeling). With regard to the walks, there was always the option of a longer or shorter walk. The snorkel trips were sometimes shore snorkels (right off the beach) or deepwater snorkels. My advice: always do the deepwater snorkels when offered because the water clarity and sea life variety is better than the shore snorkels. And Celebrity plans the deepwater snorkels very well. There was virtually no current on any of our snorkels, and what current there was was always pushing the way we wanted to go. On one snorkel we went three quarters of the way around a small island, for a total distance of 1.5 miles, and it was so easy that we virtually never used our arms, only our flippers, with the wetsuits providing plenty of buoyancy. As for signing up for what you wanted to do on a given day, you got a briefing the night before and right after that briefing chose what you wanted to do. There was no rush or pressure to be “first in line” to sign up for anything, as the Xpedition can accommodate everyone on every desired option. Group size ashore was usually 14 to 16 persons with one naturalist, which was about as many folks as one zodiac could comfortably carry. The naturalists were great -- well informed with a pretty good command of English. As for the wildlife, we saw pretty much all the biggies: Tortoises, boobies (Blue Foot and Nazca), land iguanas, marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, flamingos, crabs, rays, and sharks. We even saw three albatrosses very close up, although we were well past the season when the albatrosses have normally departed the islands. And we saw many other species of birds, including, of course, multiple species of Darwin finches. Many of these animals have incredible coloration. And since there are no large land-based predators in the Galapagos almost all of these animals are completely unafraid of humans and you could get very close to them. A true photographer’s dream. Some offbeat highlights: (1) One day we were momentarily stuck on some rough rocks in a zodiac because of an extremely low tide, and the crews of two other zodiacs worked quickly to free us. A bit much excitement that. (2) One morning a lava gull landed next to me on the ship, and I remarked what a beautiful bird it was to a naturalist sitting nearby. She then told me the lava gull was the rarest gull in the world, and there it was five feet away eyeing my croissant!! I asked if I could feed it (just joking). (3) There were an incredible number of baby sea lions. OMG, so cute. And so curious. The naturalists warned us that for the protection of the babies we should not touch them. But sometimes it was difficult, as they would come right up to you in their curiosity. (4) Probably the highlight of the trip for me was watching sea lions while snorkeling. They would swim like torpedos all around you, and then groups of them would play with each other, and then one might come up and eyeball you before swimming away. Wow. Debarkation was also a breeze. Settle up you bill, if you have one. Put your suitcases outside your room by 5:30 AM, and they are then delivered directly to the airport. Exit your room by 8:30 AM, wait in the lounge, and they call your cabin number for boarding a zodiac back to the short bus ride from dock to airport. Let me close with two more tips. When going ashore for a walk, the footing varied wildly from place to place. Sometimes the landing would be wet (meaning you had to wade a few feet up onto a beach) or dry (directly on to a dock, or jetty, or on some rocks). Then your hike could be on sand, or compact dirt, or broken rocks, or slippery rocks (algae and/or guano), or broken lava, or even some small boulder scrambling. My wife and I brought Tevas (for the wet landings) and lightweight hiking shoes, but on some hikes it would have been nice to have had actual hiking boots for more ankle support. Several times some of the older folks fell -- even on the short, so-called “easier” walks. Another clothing tip is to bring a very broad brimmed hat of some sort, and perhaps some neck covering like a scarf or other neck protector. The sun is brutal on the equator, and unexposed skin burns fast even in cloudy weather. One thing you don’t really need is your own snorkeling equipment. Celebrity provides all that, including wetsuits. As a final note, they told us that the composition of the Celebrity Galapagos fleet will change soon. Currently there are three Celebrity ships, the Xpedition (100 passengers), the Xperience (48 passengers), and the Xploration (16 passengers). The Celebrity Flora, a new, hyper-modern 100 passenger ship, joins the Galapagos fleet later in May. And sometime after that the Xpedition will be refurbished, with its capacity reduced to 64 passengers. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long ... Read More
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long walk excursions, this is not a trip for you. This trip is all about the Galapagos Archipelago and its wonder. To get there. Information for booking flights was very good and we even had our travel agent double check for us. NO problems what so ever being greeted at the airport and being brought to the hotel. The hotel and staff in Quito were great. The tour company, the transfers, everything. It all felt welcoming, and everyone seemed truly concerned with delivering the product. Very organized at all times. Travel from Quito to the ship was never stressful, which left a lot of time to build on the excitement I already had. Again, super organized and I can't remember having to even touch my luggage from the time I handed it off in the hotel in Quito until it was in my cabin on board. Now, I hate reading spoilers in reviews of trips I'm looking at, so I will be leaving some highlights out. I don't ruin another persons anticipation. I'll start with embarkation, the beginning of a long term dream come true, and yes there were tears of joy. It's not like any embarkation you are used to, except for the Celebrity standard of sparking wine. More joyful tears as we are escorted further into the ship. The CREW! Every last person was amazing, kind, and seemed to love their job. (How could you not?) There had to be a ratio of 2 crew for every passenger, but I don't actually know the stats. If any crew person had a bad day, we didnt' know it. With only 100 people it does not take naturalists, food and bev, or any crew that directly interact with passengers long to get to know everyone on the trip. Dining crew remembered by breakfast to steer me away from anything on the menu that was not gluten free. Which brings me to the food. I have seen some reviews of this trip and the food. I'll say from my opinion it was great. Keep in mind here, they have to use everything sourced from the region. That will limit what they can work with. So, you have to come to a point of acceptance that you can not have everything you think you should. When you get over that, they do a fantastic job with the food. No, I did not like everything, but I never went hungry. I was happy with my meals way more often than I was not. Some other reviews give better tips on ordering specifics that I found useful. Since those applied at the time I was on the ship, I will let you find those suggestions rather than repeat them here. Also regarding food. This is not 24 hr food ship. Don't get mad. I'm sure if you absolutely needed something one of the stellar crew will accommodate you, as long as you are not rude about it. This is a crew that wants to give everyone top level of service. I had to get out of my own comfort zone when it comes to cruising. There are not many places to hide away from the group, which I usually do. We ended up making friends that we have since stayed in touch with still long after and even visited with away from home. The way the dining room is set up, and the small excursion groups, you have to fight hard to be anti-social. I'm glad I gave up the fight. I quickly realized I was sharing this magical journey with only 99 other people in the same moment in time, and it was meant to be celebrated together. With that, moving onto the excursions. It works exactly the way Celebrity says it works. Again, I wont give any spoilers. Just keep your mind open. Remember where you are on the planet in the moment, and you will not be disappointed. Listen to the naturalists for directions and a ton of Galapagos knowledge. Make sure you always follow the safety rules, and watch your step. This is not a place with building codes. Watch your every step. Safety is always the priority. This truly was by far an experience that I have zero regret and feel I got every two years of saving pennies worth. We have already talked about saving up to go back in five years on a different loop. Rather than write my diary or repeat things covered in other very good reviews and helpful advice already on here (like sunscreen tips that were crucial) I will wrap it up. My last piece of advice. Try to write down some of the little things every day. It makes for great souvenir to look back on that beats any trinket you buy on Santa Cruz Island. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of ... Read More
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of year can greatly affect what you see and do on the islands. All tours on the islands are limited to groups of 16 with one licensed naturalist. As far as snorkeling, we didn’t do the advanced deep water, but were told by passengers who did, that Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island was amazing, swimming with sea lions and hundreds of sea turtles. (In the Galápagos it was mating and breeding season for the turtles.) The rainy season which usually starts in December hadn’t begun, so the trees were barren and the landscape looked like a desert. We were extremely lucky to see a juvenile albatross, stretching and flapping its wings in preparation to learn to fly. Usually by January this species has migrated and isn’t seen in the islands. We really enjoyed watching birds such as the Nascar booby and the frigatebird with their chicks. Although we saw several blue footed boobies on the outer loop, we were told by our naturalist that the red footed booby was only on San Cristobal Island, and unfortunately that day the ocean was quite rough, so the driver of our zodiac couldn’t get very close to shore. Only saw the red footed booby from a great distance. However we did see orcas (killer whales) jumping out of the water. If you do both inner and outer loops, Sunday and the following Saturday have the same itinerary. Sunday you will embark and the ship will sail around Baltra. Then on Saturday you will visit the Charles Darwin Center Giant Tortoise breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island and later take a bus ride to the highlands to plant scalesia trees. Afterwards an Ecuadorian buffet lunch at the Manzanillo Ranch was quite tasty. After eating we really enjoyed native folk dancing by young locals. Then we went out on the preserve to watch giant tortoises in their native surroundings. A great day, but not something we wanted to do twice. So the second Saturday morning, I had a relaxing massage on ship. Quite interesting--the room was a little bigger than a walk in closet, and the air conditioning blew cold air right on me, but it was relaxing. Then Monica, the head naturalist, took us to the island where we drove to the highlands skipping the tree planting, and eating lunch at the ranch. I loved the folk dancers and was glad we could see them perform twice. I have lots of tips about the Galápagos cruises which are in the review I did on the inner loop. If you have already read it, you can skip the rest of what I have written in this review. Visiting the Galápagos Islands has always been an dream of ours and finally we were able to make the cruise, both inner and outer loops. I am an avid (but amateur) photographer and looked forward to all the wildlife, never realizing how close we would be to beautiful sea lions, penguins, iguanas, blue footed boobies, tortoises, and more. The cruise begins with a day in Quito which ensures you will make it if your flight is late and you miss a connection. I loved this city with an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level. We stayed at the Marriott, a luxury hotel with all the amenities. One of our fellow passengers became quite sick from the altitude and the hotel provided oxygen and called a doctor who gave him a prescription. I especially enjoyed the Equatorial Line Museum tour which was arranged by Celebrity. I have to say this cruise line was so organized in every detail. The ship is only for 100 passengers, so it is small and not luxurious. I heard that Celebrity plans on renovating the ship and then it will accommodate about 40-50 passengers. Our first cabin on the fourth deck was great, but when we started the second week, they moved us to a cabin on the same deck which was as far "fore" (toward the front of the ship) as possible. This cabin was very noisy with lowering and raising the anchor and other ship activities. I complained and they moved us to a cabin on the third deck more toward the center of the ship which was much better. I recommend speaking to the hotel director if you have any problems. My husband uses a CPAP which requires distilled water. Notify the cruise line in advance so they can provide water if you use a CPAP. Also they have long extension cords so you can have the CPAP on the nightstand by the table. The dining was average. Some dinner items were great, but the buffets weren't quite as good. In fact I was really tired of the breakfast buffet after two weeks! The dining room is extremely noisy and sometimes it was hard hearing what the person next to me was saying. Entertainment is modest and there are lectures and movies to help prepare you for your land excursions and learn about what you will be seeing. One night the crew assembled some talented musicians and we were treated to some Ecuadorian and Latin music that was great! Don't miss the end of cruise slide show. Although we don't drink, alcoholic beverages were included in the price of the cruise. The shore excursions were well organized with 16 people and a well qualified naturalist per zodiac. Each excursion had two options--one difficult and one less strenuous. The landing may be "wet" or "dry." If going on a hike, wear water shoes for a wet landing, then change into hiking shoes. (I wore Keens with socks, or running or walking shoes would work, not big heavy boots!) I recommend a water resistant backpack for shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, phone etc. Also it would be a good idea to have a waterproof case for your phone. One of our fellow passengers ruined his phone in a rather difficult boarding of the zodiac with lots of big waves. (I swam for about twenty minutes in the Pacific Ocean with my Apple watch on my wrist and it was fine.) I would recommend an SLR camera for most photography--I had a zoom lens, but some of the other passengers carried two cameras around their neck, one with a zoom lens, and the other with a telephoto lens. For better viewing and as a back up, I brought an iPad to upload my pictures each evening. If you have an iPhone, learn how to use "Airdrop" if you don't already know how. Wonderful way to share photos with fellow passengers. Snorkeling was different from my previous experiences where a boat takes you out to a reef, drops you off, and you are right where the fish are. On the cruise excursions, sometimes the entry into the water is from the shore, which was a challenge for me because of the wave action. Then we would have to swim a ways to get to the rocks where the fish were. The advanced deep water snorkeling (recommended for experienced swimmers) was better from what I heard, easier to get in the water, and much better view of the marine life. (Celebrity provides snorkeling equipment and wetsuits. I brought my own prescription mask.) When you chose your excursions, the zodiac boat tours are the easiest. Just sit back and enjoy marine life and the views. In general, if you choose to go on all the excursions, you are going to need some stamina. I would think if you have knee problems or difficulty walking, this might not be the cruise for you. The ship has walking sticks which really helped me in hiking over rough lava and small boulders. If you forget motion sickness medication, there is a doctor on board and she/he will help. Just remember, you need to start the medication before seasickness sets in. I find ginger helps a lot for me. I recommend sun protective clothing which is an easy way to prevent sunburn without slathering on sunscreen. (I did sunscreen my face, neck, and hands.) Also a wide brimmed hat with a chin strap to protect the top of your head and face. No need to bring formal clothing on this cruise! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences ... Read More
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences with Celebrity, we looked into their three ships that cruise the Galapagos and decided the 98-passenger size of the Xpedition was the best bet for us. Once we decided on the cruise, we looked into booking our own air travel. However, based on previous reviews that worried us about flight delays and missing the ship, we opted to book the airfare (Copa) and extended stay before and after in Quito through Celebrity. We're so glad we did. Celebrity is extremely organized and handles every detail from when you land in Quito to when you depart to return home. Our stay in Quito before the cruise was interesting...toured the city, old cathedrals, the equator, etc. The JW Marriott was surprisingly beautiful with very spacious rooms. Because we booked a suite (Cabin 604) on the Xpedition, we received a junior suite at the hotel as well. Although the Celebrity-chartered Avianca flight was delayed from Quito to the Galapagos, Celebrity let us know in advance so we could sleep in. Once we arrived in the Galapagos, we were amazed at the varied topography and weather of the different islands, and of course the wildlife! We still can't believe how many sea lions, tortoises, dolphins, sharks, penguins, albatross, iguanas, sea turtles, etc we saw. Absolutely breathtaking. While the Xpedition is a bit dated and will be replaced with the Flora in a year or two, the ship is clean and comfortable and met our expectations. The food was very good and the service was impeccable. The crew seemed to genuinely want to make the guests happy -- and they succeeded! Our room was cleaned three times a day, which was appreciated since we showered at least twice a day. The excursions were perfectly organized and the naturalist guides were impressively knowledgeable and all had a good sense of humor. We really appreciated that the Xpedition had a doctor on board, as both my husband and I had to consult her about minor issues. We would definitely recommend this cruise if you do not have significant mobility issues. We are in our mid 40s and were probably among the youngest couples on the ship. Although Celebrity offers long and short hikes each day (we did all long hikes) and you would still see a lot if you did the short walks each day, you do have to be able to get into and out of the zodiac/panga in some tricky places. We didn't hear of anyone falling, but it could certainly happen if you have mobility issues. The highlight for us was the snorkeling excursions - two from beaches and three in deep water from the zodiacs. We saw an incredible amount of sea creatures and are thrilled with our Go Pro videos. If you are not equipped to snorkel (at least from the beaches), you would probably feel like you were missing out. The shortie wetsuits provided by Celebrity gave a lot of buoyancy so a lot of first time snorkels were able to join in. This was the smallest cruise we've done, and we were a little worried it would be too small with only 98 passengers -- but we ended up loving it. We quickly made great friends and often met for lunch or dinner. Other reviews mention packing tips... in addition to plenty of sunscreen and dry fit clothing, etc., we would recommend the following items: a multi plug to charge your camera, phones etc; snorkel/scuba socks and gloves; water shoes; an old iPod or cd for music in your cabin; lotion (all other toiletries were provided); alarm clock; and a sporty wrist watch. Don't expect to get much if any wifi on board, so we wished we had brought books to read. If you're looking for a great way to see the amazing Galápagos Islands and are up for an adventurous vacation, please don't hesitate to book this trip! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with ... Read More
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with rides to see the animals and birds and fish that are indigenous to the Galapagos islands. The food on board was a great mixture of International cuisine and local foods of Ecuador and its all inclusive! We cruised up to very small Galapagos penguins you could almost reach out and touch them. Beautiful Frigate birds wither large red "chins" flew over us is masses. My favorite of the birds is the Blue Footed Booby with its baby blu feet! And the sea lions with their pups on the rocks and the beaches were so cute. And the best of all were seeing the giant tortoises in their natural habitat from the smallest to the largest some over 100 years old. All pretty hard to not give this a 10 plus on the vacation list Put this cruise on your "Bucket List" The 10 day adventure is the best with a couple of extra days to see Quito, Equador and 7 days in the islands and did I say all inclusive ? You won't regret it! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ... Read More
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ship the crew is truly a happy group, when they smile it goes right to their eyes. They are extremely helpful and really intent on making sure everything is the way you want it. Food is good and they really try to give you different options but the menu has a lot of Galapagos foods. The naturalist that were on the board with us was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately I started the cruise with asthma problems and the altitude in Quito made it very difficult breathing and I couldn't do the hikes but they made sure there was something for me to see and do. The main thing that I don't think you would get with another cruise line is that they really seriously care about their clients. My husband hurt his back really bad to where he couldn't move or feel his right leg. The doctor on board the ship sent him off ship to hospital in Santa Cruz. Celebrity made all arrangements to get him there, while we were there they never left us alone, after several hours and the staff had to go back to the boat they contacted a translator to be with us in the hospital the whole time. From there they made hotel arrangements and private transportation the whole time till we got on the plane home. I am so grateful for all the help they gave us during this trying time but also for the amazing time we had all week. It was a blast. I will say the weather was perfect for hiking but the water is very cold ...... but it was amazing.. Worth every penny we spent for this trip. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK ... Read More
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK summer and sometimes the snorkelling was chilly. We selected this ship, which is quite big ( holding 48 maximum) as in the week we were there, it fitted ion with our dates. This trip was amazing and made special by the naturalists and guides. This is more of an expedition than a cruise> the guides were superb. Their interest and enthusiasm made the trip interesting and each day a new wonder. There were only 22 of us , and room for 48 and staff of nearly 50 to look after us. Great care was taken of us at all times, especially when we all snorkeled, which was nearly every day. The equipment was excellent and when the waters were "envigorating" we could wear 2 wet suits. You would think that lions and elephants are more interesting that birds and iguanas- but not when you have simply superb guides explaining all about them and Darwins discoveries in the area. Although the food was always of excellent quality, there was a "school dinners" feel to it as you went and collected your meal which was served from large dishes. Im not saying that the food wasn't good, it was, chicken fish fresh vegetables etc ( lobster of course on the last night) however I was expecting the food to be more what i expected from a Carnival trip. It may be of course similar to other ships in the area- lack of space, perhaps. With three, sometimes four trips to walk, kayak,or snorkel every day, there is not so much time on the ship. This cruise was number one on my wish list and it was very expensive. It lived up to my expectations. I would much rather have the inspiring and wonderful guides, more that perfect silver service food, but maybe this could have been tweeked ! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The Celebrity Cruise line did a fabulous job organizing all the events that took place from the airport in Quito, excursions around Quito, hotel arrangements at the JW Marriott, transportation to the Hotel and transportation to Baltra. ... Read More
The Celebrity Cruise line did a fabulous job organizing all the events that took place from the airport in Quito, excursions around Quito, hotel arrangements at the JW Marriott, transportation to the Hotel and transportation to Baltra. Organization was top notch and guides were well spoken and helpful. The cruise ship was kept tidy with the assistance of excellent cabin stewards that cleaned our rooms after every excursion and worked relentlessly. The ship dining room and most facilities were well maintained. Our upgraded cabin was not as well kept as I would have liked to see, given the extreme expense of having a suite. I realize the cruise line must utilize all the cabins to make money, but areas where tiles are chipped and toilet seats appear melted are not what I expect when traveling at such a "huge" expense. My sons" "standard" cabin appeared to be more up dated and refurbished. The beds are also not of the caliber I would expect at this price point. Again, I am grateful that the stewards and various other deckhands worked seamlessly to provide updated and clean conditions in the common areas of the ship. The service was stellar and the Naturalists seemed very excited about the tours they were leading and provided excellent information regarding conservation practices in the Galapagos.The Cruise Director worked to keep the cruisers engaged. The pre- cruise package/tour and cruise around the islands and excursions were all excellent, just a bit disappointed with the overall quality of our cabin accommodations for the price point. I commend the staff and the Zodiac operators for making safety a priority and that comes down from the Captain as well as Celebrity. Read Less
50 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not ... Read More
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not eligible for Celebrity provided transfer to the Marriott and had arranged a car transfer through the hotel. Clearing passport control and customs was a snap. We met another 2 couples from our cruise while at baggage claim, one of whom was also staying at the Marriott that night. They were going to take a taxi so we suggested they share our car. As soon as we exited customs our driver was waiting for us with a sign and after he checked with his boss agreed to take all of us. It was the first of many examples of what a class operation the JW Marriott Quito is. Quito Hotel and City Tour- As mentioned the Marriott is a magnificent hotel. They were quick to combine our independent and Celebrity reservations so we could remain in the same room. We do not have elite status with Marriott but they still gave us free Wifi. Regrettably we could not take advantage of the beautiful outdoor pool area because our free day was marred by a very heavy and continuous rain storm. Because of the rain we decided to eat in the hotel, the food was good and amazingly reasonable for a city hotel. The following day we met our group for the Quito city tour. Celebrity has been doing this for awhile and has it down to a science. Having followed the Cruise Critic three part discussion thread for many years I could see how they have responded to feedback and made incremental improvements.They divided us up among 4 busses so that we had about 10 per tour guide, far preferably to traipsing around in a crowd of 40 trying to hear the guide. The local guides are knowledgeable, engaging and clearly focused on making the tour meaningful and entertaining. Our stops included the beautiful Basilica of the National Vow, the Presidential (Carondelet) Palace to see the guards, the Grande Plaza, the Church of the Society of Jesus decorated completely in gold and the Convent of San Francisco. Despite seeing so many sights in half a day the tour was well paced and it never felt like we were being rushed to get to the next stop. Lunch was an extensive buffet at the Opera House restaurant (but no singer performed for us). Afterwards you had the choice of returning to the Marriott or going to the Museo Intinan, the equator museum. It is a private museum and varies in presentation from serious to whimsical. There were some interesting talks on native culture and history offset by displays like a shrunken head. The real draw is getting your picture taken straddling the Equator. It is definitely more authentic than the competing museum nearby which is by all accounts a real tourist trap. The day was capped off by another excellent meal at the Marriott. Transfer to Baltra- In the morning we were transferred back to Quito airport (around 45-60 minute drive depending on traffic). The bags were delivered to an area adjacent to the check in line and then each person took their bags up to the check in desk. After clearing security Celebrity provided access to the lounge to wait for the plane. The two hour flight was very pleasant on a Celebrity charter plane. The meal even in coach included real silverware and was very good for airline food. I noticed a lot of folks eyeing the blue footed boobie linen napkin, and I bet a few disappear on every flight. Once in Baltra clearing customs inspection (where they looked for contraband food items) went quickly and Celebrity provided a nice lounge for us while we waited for the short bus ride to the pier. Transfer to Ship- At the pier we got an inkling of what the next 7 days would be like. There were sea lions hanging around oblivious to the passengers disembarking and embarking, along with pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Celebrity loaded us into the zodiacs 16 passengers per zodiac along with our carry on bags for a short ride to the ship. The first day used to include an excursion but now the only "excursion" that day was a sail by Daphne Island. That gave us more time to settle in, go through a quick safety drill, get fitted for snorkel gear and later get our first excursion briefing. Xpedition Cabin- We were on deck 4, a Premium stateroom. We found it to be sufficiently spacious and there was more than enough storage. There were two closets so my wife and I each had our own. Our cabin came equipped with a three outlet adapter in one socket and the European style outlet already had a US adapter in it. There was a third outlet that is European style and I had brought my own adapter. Initially our beds were made up as a double but we quickly decided the person against the wall would be hemmed in so we had our cabin attendant remake it into two twins with the night stand in between. The cabin included bathrobes and slippers, a small set of binoculars, beach towels replenished as needed and a hair dryer. The TV showed a few different movies each day, no live TV. We never turned it on. Initially when we first arrived the room felt stuffy but after a short while it got comfortable and despite the heat outside we were always comfortable. Xpedition Food- The breakfast buffet was always ample with prepared eggs, breakfast meats, breads and pastries, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, fruits and more. The made to order station featured either omelettes of your choice or sometimes even crepes. The lunch buffet was also plentiful with a large variety of options. You could also choose to eat burgers and such out on the Beagle Grill. Dinner included at least 3-4 appetizer choices, main courses and desserts that varied daily along with some standard choices that were always available. As an option you could reserve a dinner under the stars out back. One day lunch was only available outside with a BBQ feast that even included all the lobster and shrimp you wanted! A red and a white wine were always offered at lunch and dinner, and the servers would also get anything you preferred from the bar. The bar seemed to be always open and the choices were endless. They offered a drink of the day as well. The bar area was also where the self service water refill station was located. Internet Access-The reputation for being agonizingly slow and unreliable is well deserved. Assume you will never get an e-mail in or out and anything you manage will just be a bonus. Best of all, with the excitement from twice daily encounters with the wonders of the Galapagos, who cares? Entertainment- Prior to the daily excursion briefings there was a musician to listen to with a pre-dinner cocktail. After the briefing and dinner most folks were ready for bed but there were a few special nights. One offering was a crew talent show and another was a Crossing the Equator party. There were also a few afternoon lectures. Laundry service- We mostly lived in a pair of swim shorts and a rash shirt in the morning and then changed into a second set in the afternoon, while the morning set we had washed in our room was drying out for the next day. We did have a few nicer items for dinner. Since we were going on to Peru for a week towards the end of the cruise we sent a bunch of items to the laundry and they came back either that night or the next morning washed and folded or on hangars. I think our total bill was around $30. Ship store- The Xpedition offered hats, shirts (both tees and Safari type), shorts and zip off pants along with a very limited supply of sundries. We found the selection of sizes in the clothing was hit and miss so don't count on getting an essential item onboard as they obviously don't restock every voyage. Recreation/exercise equipment- The hot tub on the upper deck was not overly hot but was relaxing. One day I was chased away by a bunch of wasps. After a full day of hiking and snorkeling I never felt the need to try out the exercise room. Xpedition Staff- The heart of the crew is the Cruise Director. She gave the daily excursion briefings, coordinated with the naturalists to cover everyone's requests as to which excursion they chose, made sure folks got on and off the zodiac to start and end their excursions, and generally served as the ombudsman for the guests. The naturalists are the leaders of all the excursions, whether it be hikes, snorkeling or zodiac rides. They impart all the knowledge about the wildlife and geology of the islands as well as insure the safety and enjoyment of the guests. We were very impressed with each one. Our only complaint was one naturalist appeared to have only one speed- fast- and we had to work a little harder to keep up. Everyone had the same comment. The rest of the crew, from the zodiac drivers to the bartenders, restaurant staff, housekeeping, and front desk were all superb and always responded quickly no matter what the request. Shore excursions- I won't describe each shore excursion but will try to capture the various different experiences. There were two excursions each day. Generally the first one started at 8-8:30 and the afternoon one around 3-3:30. Most excursions involved a hike and we could choose a long or short version. The hikes were the same duration, with long or short describing the distance covered. Thus the long walks were by definition at a somewhat faster pace, but still included plenty of stops. At the briefing the night prior the Cruise Director explained what to expect and what we might see in the way of wildlife on each excursion. We did the long walks in all but one case and they all exceeded our expectations. The wildlife truly are unafraid of humans and you often have to walk around sea lions, tortoises, Iguanas and even albatross as they do not move. You don't have to be a fitness fanatic to do any of the walks, however two of them involved long stretches over very uneven and sometimes slippery lava rocks that required care and reasonably good balance, and it did get hot. Two of the excursions ended with swimming or snorkeling at the landing site. For those times we brought our snorkel equipment with us and left it on the beach. If you wanted or needed a wet suit you put it on when you got back from the hike. Since there are no changing facilities or restrooms on the Galapagos you need to wear your bathing suits under your clothes. We elected to wear river shorts which are suitable for hiking and swimming and dried very quickly in the room. There were three deep water snorkeling opportunities. Several were offered as options after the scheduled hikes and one was as an alternative to the other excursions. In those cases you wore your wet suit onto the zodiac and entered the water from the zodiac. All three were recommended for experienced snorkelers and two were also suggested for strong swimmers only. Since we did not do any of these I cannot comment on whether that was really a requirement or just the naturalists being conservative. I do know from reports that one time the snorkeling was not great but twice those who went came back ecstatic about the experience. There were two other types of excursions. Sometimes you could elect a zodiac ride only if you did not want to hike and one time the only excursion offered was an extended zodiac ride. The final day's excursion was on Santa Cruz where we visited the Darwin Center to see the giant tortoise breeding program. You had the option of returning to the ship and returning later to see the giant tortoises in the wild or making a full day of it where you stayed on the island to participate in a reforestation project, enjoy lunch and a folkloric dance show, followed by seeing the giant tortoises. One final comment on excursions, take full advantage of the opportunities. A partial list of what we saw includes sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, Galapagos tortoises, baby fur seals, pelicans marine iguanas, land Iguanas, flamingos doing their mating dance, pelicans, blue herons, white egrets, waved albatross doing their mating dance, blue footed boobies, Nazca Boobies (including hatchlings), Frigates, flightless cormorants, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, hawks, finches, sandpipers, stilts, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, rays, and sharks. I will forever treasure having two penguins circling me as I floated with them. It is truly an amazing adventure! Footwear is always a topic engendering much debate. There are both wet and dry landings. Dry landings mean they either can beach the zodiac so you step onto the sand or their is a place where they can get close to rocks or a small pier. Wet landings mean you are stepping off into ankle deep water. In most cases for wet or dry landings you sit on the edge of the zodiac and swing your legs over onto the sand or into the water. In a few cases there is a pier that lets you walk off the front of the zodiac. Our choice of footwear depended on both whether the landing was wet or dry and the type of hike that followed. If it was a wet landing and the hike was on a flat surface we wore water shoes. If it was a wet landing with a hike on lava or rough surfaces we took off our shoes, got off barefoot, then toweled off and changed into sneakers. If it was a dry landing we generally wore sneakers. That all worked out well for us. We did see a lot of Keens or other sandals. My opinion is that is fine expect over the lava rocks where you can scrape your toes too easily. Transfer to Lima- everyone returns to Lima together. The trip back followed the same pattern as arrival in reverse: Zodiac ride to the pier, bus ride to the airport for check-in, a nice lounge with refreshments while awaiting our plane and a very comfortable flight to Quito with a meal on the Celebrity charter aircraft. Once in Quito the group was divided up into those returning to the Marriott for one or two days and the 24 of us flying on to Lima. This was the least pleasant part of the journey and one where I think Celebrity has an opportunity for improvement. There was a long layover in Quito and we did not arrive in Lima until late in the evening. They then bussed us to the Westin, about 45-60 minutes away. The Westin is a wonderful hotel, but it is not worth it as all you do is go to bed and then get up early for the long ride back to the airport for the onward journey. If there is a hotel near the airport, it would make much more sense to stay there. I know Celebrity wants to give you a 5 star experience all the way, but everyone agreed a clean bed was all we needed for that overnight stay. Transfer to Cusco- The group was up early for the return trip to the airport. As stated, we could have saved a lot of time by staying closer in. Check in was slow but steady, again they delivered the bags to the end of the line and then we took it from there to the counter. This time they did have our boarding passes pre-printed. The flight to Cusco was uneventful and we were met by the Celebrity Peru ground crew to start our land tour. Tours in Sacred Valley- The two days touring the Sacred Valley included an interesting mix of modern and ancient culture. Stops included the Museo Yucay Vivo which showcased traditional Peruvian crafts including demonstrations, the Pablo Seminario Workshop and Studio (a noted Peruvian artist), and Ollantayyambo, an impressive Incan palace and fortress. Lunch the first day was at a Hacienda and the second day at a ranch that included a traditional horsemanship demonstration. The centerpiece of the land tour is Machu Picchu. The trip there was on a train where we sat on beach seats facing another couple with a table in between. The ride started very early in the morning to allow maximum time at the site and includes a so-so lunch. Once at Machu Picchu around mid-morning the tour started. Our guides were so knowledgeable we could not have hoped for more and the site was every bit as exciting, breathtaking and interesting as we had hoped. The morning tour included the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Tomb and residences, the Temple of the Condor, the room of the water mirrors and the terraces. After about 2 hours we took a break for lunch. The day we were there the skies opened up in a torrential downpour just as we got to the Lodge so we decided to wait it out. About half the group decided to remain at the lodge and the rest of us headed back out once the rain let up. The afternoon tour took us to the top of the basic Machu Picchu site including the guardhouse and the sun dial (Intiwatana), as well as the Temple of the Three Windows, the Sacred Plaza and the main plaza. After a welcome rest and an extensive "tea" we headed back to the train station. The trip to Cusco was on the Hiram Bingham train, far more luxurious than the morning train. The seats were roomy and more comfortable and the multi-course dinner (including wine) was reportedly quite good. However, after a very long day of travel and climbing for hours, all the wife and I wanted to do was sleep. Food in Peru- If there is one complaint about the food on the Peru land tour it is that there is too much. The hotels included an ample buffet breakfast, lunch was either an extensive buffet or a multi-course meal and dinner was always a multi-course meal. The food was uniformly good other than one suspected issue. At the ranch where we had lunch the second day in the Sacred Valley many of us that had the beef hearts ended up with intestinal distress later that day. It may be unrelated but nobody who avoided the beef hearts had any problems. A real treat the last night in Cusco was a concert with dinner of operatic arias and duets. Hotels in Peru- These are truly 5 star hotels. The Tambo del Inka in the Sacred Valley has a massive lobby and the highlight was the zeroscape indoor/outdoor pool and spa. The Belmont Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 16th Century former monastery converted to a luxury hotel. A bonus is the Chapel with its elaborate decorations. The Westin in Lima is a modern hotel with every possible amenity. All of them had ample rooms and served as a perfect place to relax after a day of touring. Cusco tour- There were four main components to the Cusco tour. Embedded in the Spanish influenced Convent of Santo Domingo are the remains of an Incan religious site, Coricancha. The more modern San Blas Plaza is representative of colonial Cusco and adjoining it is an interesting church. Sacsayhuaman is a 13th Century Incan stronghold that represents the head of the lion or cougar where Cusco is the body and outlined by the two rivers around Cusco. It is striking for the immense boulders that make up its walls. Finally, the tour ends in the Cusco main square, site of the Jesuit Church and Cusco Cathedral. Tour in Lima- The normal tour had to be altered because it was Holy Week. I am not sure what the normal itinerary would have been. After our flight from Cusco to Lima we drove to the Miraflores area and arrived at Museo Larco. We were treated to another sumptuous meal and then given a tour of the museum with its extensive collection of artifacts from the Vicus period dating back to 1500 BC to Incan relics. We then drove around the Miraflores area before arriving at the Westin. Return to Lima airport- As a final insight into how much Celebrity insures that the adventure is first class, we were amazed at the arrangements for our included transfer to the airport. Since our flight was at 6:30 am we had to leave for the airport around 3:45 am. We expected Celebrity would pay for a taxi or shuttle to drop us off since we were the only ones with that early of a flight. Imagine our surprise when we had not only a private car but a Celebrity representative who walked us through the entire check-in process until we reached security. It was a fitting end to our trip of a lifetime. Final Word- The Galapagos cruise is often referred to as the trip of a lifetime. While we have enjoyed other memorable vacations, such as 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, clearly this is ranks among the most spectacular trips we have experienced. The remote landscape and the abundance of unique wildlife up close and personal, combined with luxury service, makes this a not to be missed cruise. We are very glad we included the Machu Picchu add-on. It should be on everyone's bucket list and Celebrity included a wide variety of stops throughout the Sacred Valley that greatly enhanced the Peru land tour. From start to finish, Celebrity does it right. Photos available at https://www.flickr.com/gp/150374777@N03/779083 Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport ... Read More
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport to return home. Everything was included which made it expensive, but also so much easier. We would say that this was the most exhilarating and most exhausting vacation we've ever taken, so to have everything taken care of was perfect for us. To start we were met at the airport and put on buses to the Marriott in Quito. The following day we were given a tour of the city with a trip to the equator. Since this is a difficult city to navigate and one that shouldn't be traveled alone, this gave us an overview of the city while feeling safe. All buses have guards since crime can be a huge issue there. We arrived back at the airport for the 2 hour flight to Baltra on Galapagos. Avianca airlines provided great service and made me wish we had taken it to Quito rather than American Airlines, which was awful. At the airport we were fairly quickly brought to the dock (5 minute ride) where we donned life vests and boarded our first zodiac boat for the trip to the ship, which never docks, so zodiacs are the only way to board. The ship is small, with only one large lounge which was crowded when all 100 passengers were in residence, but the service and staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. People quickly get to know each other and the atmosphere is always happy. This ships makes people get to know each other. The average age was probably in the 60's, with one 10 year old and plenty of 70 & 80 year olds who were remarkably game. Internet is free but it only occasionally works in the lounge, so don't expect much. It took me almost 2 days to send something. The naturalist and staff are exceptionally helpful. We quickly came to realize that the staff errs on the side of caution when advising what trips to take. For deep water snorkeling they kept stressing that you needed to be a strong swimmer, which I am not. Wet suits make you more buoyant and your zodiac stays close by and carefully watches you so if you have any problems they are right there. We found we didn't see much while snorkeling from the shore but an incredible amount in deep water. Our only wish was that there might have been at least one swimming or snorkeling option a day since in the heat we all longed to go in the water every day. In reading other reviews we picked up helpful pointers in what, and what not, to bring. Even with that there were things we should have brought. The tiny store did a brisk business in tropical shorts, zip-off pants, hats, and a few other necessities that people forgot. Each day you are given a choice of 2 options for both morning and afternoon activities. At first I was disappointed to see that the options were only a long walk or short walk. Sometimes you could just choose a zodiac ride instead of a walk which many did. We quickly came to understand why. After about 2 hours in the morning you need a break. The afternoon activities didn't start again until 3 or 4 getting us out of the sun at the worst part of the day. We chose the short walks which were usually anywhere from a half mile to a mile but factoring in the heat and lack of shade makes a huge difference. We all found ourselves showering and changing clothing at least twice a day, sometimes 3 times. One of our friends said that when walking on black lava rocks while wearing a FitBit his showed that the temp was 115 degrees F. They provide you with a water bottle and you do need to drink often. Don't bother to bring nice clothing since shorts and tee shirts are fine in the dining room. Don't bother with makeup since after the first day no one wears that either. Some men wore a button down shirt at dinner, often with shorts. Invest in a pair of water shoes with a sole. We each got a pair for $20 from Amazon and they were perfect since a lot of landings are in water. Sneakers with a good sole are fine for walking over lava rocks and I found a walking stick helpful (which they provide). No one really had hiking boots. They lend you binoculars, and we brought our own, but frankly, no one used them. Definitely bring a camera. In fact we only had a cell phone (get an inexpensive waterproof case for those wet landings) and a point and shoot (I used a glamorous zip lock bag for protection and it worked beautifully). Other had very expensive cameras with large lenses. Some people found that between sand and splashing water some of their cameras were quickly out of commission so bring back-up. The ship does not sell cameras. We had 2 hats each, which was handy since we would often sweat through one in the morning so we had the other for the afternoon. 2 bathing suits helped also. We did have bug spray but it didn't do much since the horse fly's weren't deterred. We used a 50 SPF sunblock and came home without any burns. Sun glasses really help and most everyone used them. As for clothing, most wore either shorts or light pants and tee shirts or light long sleeved shirts. A bandanna to wet and wear around your neck is a good idea. Unless you plan to pay to have your laundry done bring plenty of clothes clips to hang your constantly drying laundry. When you change a few times a day you are continually washing and drying. The cabin staff is wonderful, constantly straightening the cabins and neatening the mess. The naturalist are wonderful, not only helpful in getting you in and out of the zodiacs, but their knowledge and pride in their islands and their patience is unmatched. The zodiac drivers are also incredible, they will move the zodiac so that both sides of the ship gets equal opportunity to see from their side of the boat. In the evening the schedule is mainly enjoying the cocktail of the day along with the next day's briefing, then dinner around 7:30, then we all pretty much fell into bed exhausted. There is a wonderful guitar player but no other entertainment, and it isn't needed. The Galapagos are the entertainment. Request to eat a night up on deck. It's a fixed grill menu but you can also order from the dining room menu. We also (do it quickly) signed up for a bridge tour and it was given enthusiastically by the first officer. The whole staff was the finest we have ever encountered on a ship, with no exceptions. Yes, this is an expensive trip but worth every penny. Now we're home catching up on sleep! Read Less
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