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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I loved this cruise. It was different than the many others I have taken--more nature; less commercial. No Diamonds International or commercials trying to sell something onboard. The naturalists make the trip a cut above. There was no place ... Read More
I loved this cruise. It was different than the many others I have taken--more nature; less commercial. No Diamonds International or commercials trying to sell something onboard. The naturalists make the trip a cut above. There was no place to buy anything until the last two ports. I liked that. Doing the package deal with flight/hotel is an addition we do not usually include but we did on this trip since getting to Baltra was more complicated than your average port. Good decision since the time in Quito was well-planned and the accommodations excellent at the Marriott. We had a late (almost 2am) arrival into the Marriott and this meant that some of the folks with us did not join us on the tour the next day due to fatigue. We pressed on but it was a long day. They should have offered the option to do only half a day as many of the tired people said they were ready to go by lunchtime but had no easy way to join the tour. The tour day in Quito was an enjoyable overview of the city. We felt rushed at the equator which was puzzling since we waited almost a half hour (some more) after finishing eating to leave the restaurant from lunch. It would have been better to hit the road sooner to get more time at the equator. Going to Galapagos on Sunday was just a matter of following the leader and having something to do during waiting times. We were ushered aboard the Xpedition after our first zodiac ride and welcomed in our small groups and had a toast with the Captain. It would be great to be offered a choice of non-alcoholic drinks for the toast right from the start (even though a substitute was brought after we refused the offered ones). Several from our small group noticed we did not drink and said they didn’t either but took the drink anyway. We did discover a favorite non- alcoholic drink of lemon ice mixed with sprite zero that was quite good. All the meals were delicious and there was always an acceptable choice. The steaks were very good in addition to the tasty seafood. A table-mate asked for ice cream on the next to last day and they brought her a neapolitan sundae. Then we all ordered one. That hit the spot on a hot day. I’m glad I didn’t know how good it was until we had almost finished our cruise or I would have eaten one every day. The ceviche was also something I had several times. All the excursions, loading, unloading, etc. takes a lot of cooperation from everyone so that all have a good experience. Some would dawdle at putting on life jackets so they could have the prized “last” seats. Others would make groups wait while they took extra photos. But most folks were very helpful to each other. If you have physical difficulties, listen to the naturalists, they do this every week and will know by watching you get around if you can do that particular excursion or not. Take a “hands free” bag for daily excursions because it makes getting on and off the zodiacs faster and easier. It can be small because you don’t need much with you. They will let you do barefoot landings on most of the wet landings so you don’t get your shoes wet. If you have a pair of shoes you like to hike in, wear them instead of more uncomfortable shoes that can get wet or switch them after you land. I purchased a mask and snorkel and practiced in a swimming pool before the cruise. I am glad I did. The salt water and uneven surfaces, rocks, and strong surf would have been too much if I was not already comfortable in using the snorkel. Many folks got discouraged with trying to snorkel because it was a new experience in what could be challenging environments at times. But don’t miss the pleasure of snorkeling—it is relaxing and you can see some beautiful animals. Be prepared to not be able to get good Wi-Fi connections. Fortunately, I had no need to get important data so this didn’t bother me but be prepared if you have need to check in with work or someone every day. I would have loved to have some more stargazing time. The sky at night with the birds flying with the ship and the stars was beautiful. The disembarkation was just a long day and having read previous reviews I had a book on my kindle to read. I have a hard time sitting for any length on hard surfaces so the airport seating for part of the wait was uncomfortable but I just walked around instead. The afternoon in Quito was the crafts market. It was the best place to shop of the entire trip. I bought a great leather purse and a pretty poncho for a good price. If we had stayed longer I would have had all my Christmas shopping done. The evening meal at the steak restaurant in the Marriott was one of the best of the trip. This is one of the best if not the best cruise I have ever taken. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Extensive travel can foster skepticism about promotional information. In this instance the Galapagos aboard Xpedition is everything, and more, than the publicity promotes. I regretted that skepticism kept us from booking a b2b of both ... Read More
Extensive travel can foster skepticism about promotional information. In this instance the Galapagos aboard Xpedition is everything, and more, than the publicity promotes. I regretted that skepticism kept us from booking a b2b of both loops. My sweetheart of 32 years was satisfied with the one week but I gladly would have stayed the second week. We tend to avoid the herd and travel independently. However we are glad we took the 11 day package round trip from Quito (UIO) airport and back. The Galapagos Islands have so many restrictions and fees that we were glad we allowed Celebrity to handle all of those contingencies. The trip began with the only disappointing part of the entire 11 days. About 15 of us arrived at 11:00 pm and were told we would be waiting about 15 minutes for two other flights. We waited 90 minutes for one person. The airport was hot, crowded, had limited seating and evidently was unsafe since we were told repeatedly to watch our suitcases and wallets. We finally arrived by air conditioned tour bus to our room at the Marriott at 2 a.m. We would have paid the $25 for a cab if we had known the wait would be that long. The Marriott Quito is an excellent facility. There is a separate registration desk for X guests. Xpedition suite guests are upgraded to the executive club floors at the hotel, including free wifi and access to the executive club. We did not have time to actually visit the club. The room was comfortable, quiet, great wifi, included bottled water and great shower. The food also was excellent. Again, we are experienced and discerning travelers. The Saturday morning tour of Quito began at 9:30 (tour busses began loading at 9:15). We had 24 people per bus which were then subdivided to two groups for the walking tour. The morning tour of Cathedrals and Plazas gave a good overview of old town. The lunch Buffet was extensive and quite good. It even included traditional dance and wifi. Having read of previous tummy issues we ate cautiously. For us the afternoon at Mitad del Munda on the Equator was very enjoyable. We were there for only an hour so visiting the numerous shops was very limited. (Celebriity, pls reduce time at the restaurant and increase time at the equator). Prices were better there than on the Islands and nearly as good as the indigenous market. Be sure to bargain. Dinner that evening was delicious at a very nice near-by restaurant. Our doctor prescribed altitude medicine which we began taking two days before the trip. We have encountered altitude issues in the past but had none on this trip. He also gave us some Cipro to anticipate digestive issues due to water or food. It is a good precaution. Sunday morning began with an excellent, early breakfast at the Marriott, seemless transfer by tour bus to the Quito airport and comfortable flight on the Celebrity Avianca charter. The flight is not full so check your seats. We were on a row with three people while the row in front of us was empty. Alas the blue-footed booby napkins are no more. Baltra airport is small but Celebrity preparations meant easy clearance through security. We spent a few minutes in a VIP room with drinks and snacks then boarded local busses to the dock for our first Zodiac (panga) ride to the Xpedition. Each day's excursions were excellent. We saw over 50 different reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. The Naturalists were excellent in knowledge and professionalism. The evening briefing of the following day's excursions was usually 15 minutes and informative. Usually only one of us attended and enrolled in the following day's excursions of interest. We enjoyed the walks and panga rides. We had read some complaints about the food on X but everything we had was delicious. We tried different things that were not to our liking but that was more personal taste preferences than problems in preparation or quality. We are more Southern in our preferences for desserts than many of the options offered too. The chocolate souffle is declicious and world class. We chose to eat evening meals in our suite. We were tired from the busy days of excursions and excellent room service allowed us to eat more rapidly and rest. Wifi is free but practically useless. Please do not expect to do anything other than download email. Some sucked up the entire bandwidth by trying to update pictures or get on Skype. They were unsuccessful and no one could even get email while they tried. Xpedition provides all of the snorkel gear but we took prescription dive masks and dry top snorkels. In November the water was cool but neither of us needed the wetsuits, even though my spouse is cool-natured. The weather would have permitted shorts and short sleeves on each excursion but we opted for long sleeves and pants on most excursions for the sun and bug protection. Take your sunscreen and bug wipes. Practice photo etiquette, when you have taken your picture, move so others can get a picture too. We always travel only with carry-ons so adapting to the 44 pound limit and one suitcase/one carry-on were no problem. We took binoculars since the ship binocs are the same cheap ones on all Celebrity cruises. I chose to wear water shoes for the wet landings and change into hiking boots. There was plenty of time to do so. Many wore keens sandels so they did not have to change but seemed to have trouble with rocks and sand in their shoes as we hiked. We needed our light rain jackets several times. The laundry service on board was relatively inexpensive compared to most hotels and cruises. The laundry was returned same day even if you did not check the same day surcharge. We chose to hand wash items each evening since they dried easily on the balcony or in front of the fan. We had read of numerous tummy issues from those eating in the highlands on the last excursion day. We also had individuals report problems who ate there so were glad we had chosen to return to the ship for lunch. Disembrakation is long and cumbersome. Two hours in the Discovery lounge between leaving the room and leaving the ship. I know they are busy preparing the ship but it would seem to be a good time for a Galapagos movie, or showing more pictures. Then two hours at the Baltra airport before boarding the Celebrity Avianca charter. Transfers to and through the airport again were seemless thanks to Celebrity logistics. The indigenous market in Quito was MUCH cheaper than the two shopping options on the Islands. Shopkeepers on the Islands have the added expense of shipping everything to them. If you see a Galapagos branded item you love on the Islands, get it. If you want some generic Galapagos branded items, get them in the Quito market. All of your generic clothing, jewelry, blankets etc, are cheaper in Quito. It is not cliche in this instance to define Galapagos on board Xpedition as the trip of a lifetime. Do not hesitate to book it. And do so while you are young and healthy enough to enjoy the strenuous but exhilerating daily options. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
For those looking for a standard cruise this would not be your thing although Celebrity does its best to bring a lot of its standard cruise feature to this ship. For those looking for an amazing adventure with an up close and personal ... Read More
For those looking for a standard cruise this would not be your thing although Celebrity does its best to bring a lot of its standard cruise feature to this ship. For those looking for an amazing adventure with an up close and personal look of an amazing place this is an adventure one will love. Here are some of the basics: Excursions: Are great and lead by amazing naturalists who know so much about what you are seeing. They are great guides and amazing sources of information. Each day there are two excursions. There is a long and a short excursion neither require tons of stamina but many require good agility as you walk on rocks or lava. However I was with my mom who has very little agility and she loved the cruise because they would have a last zodiac super short excursion so that those who wanted to see and didn't have the physical resources got at least a good taste of the site but seeing at least the area around the landing and the zodiac. Tip: While with the longer excursions which I took many clamored for the first zodiac I usually waited for the last and was rewarded with a smaller group [max is 16 so its never big] and some extra time seeing the wildlife in the sea from the zodiac. If you are into seeing the Galapagos and the wildlife this is why you are on this adventure and you won't be disappointed. Dining: I new we weren't getting full cruise service in eating but in reality we got pretty close. The Dinner menu looked like a typical MDR menu on a Celebrity Cruise but imo was better because it included local Ecuadorian dishes every night. There are no snacks outside of little stuff when you get back from an excursion and a cookie jar so skipping meals isn't recommended unless you know you won't want later. Entertainment: This isn't a cruise for entertainment. In fact while I saw a review where someone groaned of the go,go,go I actually found the opposite. On days where there isn't an extra snorkeling activity, there is very little going on between the time you get back from your morning excursion at around 10:30 and you start the afternoon one at 3:30. The lounge area is great and the bar staff is supreme. The bar staff also makes lots of great coffee drinks. Not being a big alcohol drinker I enjoyed them making the coffee drinks. Also as someone who doesn't like Martini's discovered one I do like Chocolate Martini Rooms: Nicer then I expected but would say pretty standard for a normal cruise. Was on the 4th level which I would recommend. Ideal location but more importantly there is air conditioning problems on the 3rd level. These seem to be handled by noisy ice fans that act as defacto air conditioners but I would avoid the 3rd level if you can. You do get noise from the anchor sometimes late at night as other mentioned but you just go with it imo. In our room the nice size window was kind of worthless as it was very dirty with a dark streak on the middle. I am sure this is in large part because unlike other cruise ships this ship never docs so clearly the windows weren't cleaned on the outside very often. Not once on our trip. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are not big cruisers. We travel extensively, but have only done a few cruises. Generally, we find them underwhelming. Celebrity's Xpedition in the Galapagos is an exception and ... Read More
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I are not big cruisers. We travel extensively, but have only done a few cruises. Generally, we find them underwhelming. Celebrity's Xpedition in the Galapagos is an exception and we would do this trip again in a heartbeat. In a word it was fantastic and crushed all of our other cruise experiences. You will not find a better way to see the flora and fauna of this unique part of the world. The staff, Zodiac drivers, and naturalists see to that. I knew we would get up close and personal with animals, but never in our wildest dreams did we think it would be this close. How many times do you have to zoom OUT to get pictures of animals? Never, but in the Galapagos - yeah, you do. This is, of course, your reason to go and you must go. If this isn't on your bucket list, add the Galapagos today and I don't see how anybody could handle making that check mark any better than the Xpedition. If you've read my TA reviews, you know I will always highlight any negatives - but for this trip there just isn't much to say. However, here a couple of things that are worth noting. First, this is an older small (by cruise standards) ship. You will feel rough seas - even at anchor. Speaking of which, our cabin was all the way forward and the anchor chain makes quite a racket going in and out. There is no casino, no formal night and no "show time." The Xpedition is not your typical cruise ship - she is 100% geared to exploration of the islands. As she should be! Now, much of that exploration requires physical activity - snorkeling and hiking especially. But anyone of reasonable physical condition should have no problems, just plan in advance: dress appropriately (the naturalists give great advice), stay hydrated, and watch your alcohol intake. Which brings me to another point, this trip is true "all-inclusive" - alcohol too. It was great for us, but the non-drinkers do wind up subsidizing folks like me. If I was Celebrity, I might consider alcohol, pay as you go. Cabins are small, but adequate. We had an upgrade, but not a balcony. Some said their balcony was worth it - others said they spent so little time on board it was a waste. Also keep in mind with less than 100 passengers, you will get to know most everybody. For us this was a big plus. Food was very good by cruise standards, but don't expect round the clock buffets. Thank goodness! Three big meals each day are plenty. You are there to experience what cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. Celebrity has provided an outstanding way to make that happen. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Galapagos was on our bucket list. We booked this trip 19 months prior. This was trip B. We did the 10 day, which included 2 nights in Quito pre cruise and one night post cruise. Quito was OK but not anything to look forward to. Yes, we ... Read More
Galapagos was on our bucket list. We booked this trip 19 months prior. This was trip B. We did the 10 day, which included 2 nights in Quito pre cruise and one night post cruise. Quito was OK but not anything to look forward to. Yes, we straddled the equator. The good thing about staying at the JW Marriott in Quito pre cruise was the chance the meet many of the other passengers. The hotel was very nice but it is an hour away from the airport. We are Celebrity Elite members and they did not disappoint. From the airport greeter to the time we were on our way home, the service was top notch. It was great not having to worry about luggage. It would show up in our hotel room and in our stateroom on the ship. No problem. Our boarding passes for our flights to and from Baltra were taken care of. Even the flights, Avianca to Baltra and Air Gal from Baltra were good. Really good food with tableclothes and real utensils. As far as the cruise, Xpedition did not disappoint. We had a deluxe stateroom on deck 3 and it was fine. Yes, it's smaller than the big ships. We had the beds separated so we could have the nightstand between the beds. There is plenty of storage with his and her closets. The bathrooms had vanity space with a shelf underneath. The shower was good with a glass door. The room was quiet. The bed was small but comfortable. The only bad thing were the pillows. They were very thin so we requested more. No problem. When we walked into our cabin, there was a bottle of champagne and a note giving us a free massage (for each of us) as an Elite perk. We were also invited to a Captain's cocktail party a few days later. The massages were good and the party was a good chance to meet the officers. We became very friendly with 4 other couples so 10 of us usually signed up for the same excursions. We also ate dinner together. We had the same table every night almost like it was reserved for us. The food and drink on Xpedition were good, not outstanding, but certainly acceptable. If you wanted something different, all you had to do was ask. The excursions are why we (and everyone else) booked this trip. All I can say is "Wow!" We did most of the "strenuous" excursions and had no problem, although the walk up 380 steps was a little tough, especially that middle part. Oh, we are 66 and 70 years old. The walk on the lava fields was incredible. On the other islands, being up close and personal with the sea lions, penguins, frigates, and boobies took our breath away. We also did the deep water snorkeling. First one was easy. The second one, the sea was very choppy but still saw plenty of fish, penguins. The wet suit kept us warm. The Interpretation Center could have been missed. The Darwin Center was OK because we saw the tortoises. We did the tree planting. Walked in mud (they give you boots) to plant 2 trees. We figured, why not! Then buffet lunch (and show) where all the giant tortoises are. We walked around with the naturalists and saw a lot of them. We were able to take many pictures standing about 8 feet back. Oh, the Zodiac rides were fun. Sometimes you got wet, depending on where you were sitting. Everyone laughed. It was a great group. The bad part was leaving. We had to leave our staterooms at 8am. We had breakfast and went to the Discovery Lounge. At 9:30, we were given our boarding passes for the flight to Quito. At 10am, disembarkation began. By 10:45 we were in the Baltra airport. The flight was supposed to leave at noon but didn't leave until 12:50 (1:50 Quito time), so that's a long time to wait. They did have some food and juice. Two hour flight, then a bus trip back to the JW Marriott. Then a 6pm shopping trip which lasted for 45 minutes. Then our group had dinner at La Hacienda, one of the hotel restaurants. Fixed menu for Celebrity guests. It was pretty good. The next morning, after breakfast, bus ride back to the airport for our flight home. The benefit of a small ship was getting to know most of the other passengers. There were some kids on board, maybe 10 of them, but very well behaved. Everyone smiled and said Hello. After this, it will be very hard traveling on the bigger ships. This was so special! Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As many people have contributed very detailed reviews, which are very helpful with planning for this trip, I have decided to review it from a UK point of view and give personal observations. First this trip requires stamina, ... Read More
As many people have contributed very detailed reviews, which are very helpful with planning for this trip, I have decided to review it from a UK point of view and give personal observations. First this trip requires stamina, particularly getting there. The return flight required a detour to Guayaquil where you have to disembark which adds about 3 hours to the journey. You have to start and finish in Quito to connect with International flights and this can cause problems with altitude: heed the advice and take plenty of water. Try not to drink alcohol and pace yourself. The Ecuador staff are very welcoming, friendly and helpful in Quito and Galapagos. They are very accommodating and nothing seems to be too much trouble. You can do as much, or as little as you want: if you've had enough they will try to get you back to the hotel or ship. The ship does rock, so take sea sick remedies with you It is the most amazing experience of a lifetime landing on an island and seeing it as it probably was all those years ago when the first explorers landed. Some of the landings and zodiac rides are tricky, but the zodiac drivers do a wonderful job. The naturalists do an excellent job ,with unfailing humour and patience, answer any questions and try to help you get the most out of the trip. The programme is varied to suit all ages and interests and yes there were some trips that did not particularly interest me, but they all added to the overall experience. So, yes, definitely go for it, be prepared to return home exhausted but with memories that are worth every penny! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the ... Read More
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the booked Passengers (or even prior to booking). Two nights in Quito prior to embarking aboard the Celebrity Xpedition was a waste of time and money. The J.W. Marriott in Quito is an hour's drive from the Quito Airport and has management and maintenance problems. They seem to live off the guaranteed rooms from Celebrity each weekend and have no concern for their guests. Then you have the hour's drive back to the Quito Airport for the charter flight to Baltra. The charter flight from Quito to Baltra is nice and embarkation process is reasonable. From the Baltra Airport you board a bus to the zodiac "station" and ride to the Xpedition. Once aboard a staff member escorts you to your cabin. Ours had not been serviced properly but improved after it was reported. The Chief Purser and Head of Food Operations were especially helpful and friendly and anxious to please. Expect to hear the anchor going out and coming up from all over the ship once or twice daily - since it is such a small ship. Also because it is so small the Xpedition rocks side to side when anchored. In order to be allowed to sail in the Galapagos the Xpedition (as do National Geographic and Silver Sea) must employ all Ecuadorian staff as well as use Ecuadorian food. Do not expect meals being available throughout the day as on other cruises. The main purpose of this cruise is to see the Galapagos Islands - not to eat or have any "free/rest time". There is a short window of time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No extra places to get snacks, etc. as on other cruise ships. if you do not drink alcohol you will find this cruise over-priced because you are subsidizing the "unlimited" alcohol for everyone else. It would be nice if Celebrity would have a price option for passengers who do not drink alcohol. There are two excursions daily (none on Embarkation Day nor on Disembarkation Day). There is a morning excursion and another in the afternoon. Each evening prior to dinner there is a "lecture" to provide information to allow you to choose your excursion choices for the next day. The sales pitch by the Cruise Director to pressure Passengers to make $$ contributions to the Galapagos Fund - as well as pressure to plant trees is inappropriate and insulting in my opinion. A Naturalist accompanies each group on each excursion and they are the best asset Celebrity has for this cruise. Observing the mating rituals of Albatross, juvenile Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, Penguins, Giant Land Tortoises- as well as the snorkeling are fantastic. The animal encounters are the absolute best part. The Machu Picchu extension (after the cruise) was "OK". First of all, Celebrity chooses flights which make you arrive into Lima late on Disembarkation Day and then you have about an hour's drive to your Hotel. Then after arriving late at the Country Club Hotel in Lima, you must get up very early for an early departure right back to the Lima Airport to fly to Cusco the following morning. Once in Cusco, the 11,500 foot altitude is very apparent so you must take things slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Several people in our group required oxygen and most had headaches from the altitude. Drink lots of water which helps. The unfortunate thing is that Celebrity subs to an Agency in Lima to handle the Passengers - and they do not require the hotels to have our rooms ready upon arrival. The disorganization of the Lima Agency was apparent throughout the Machu Picchu excursion. Flights were changed to earlier than planned so you have little sleep. The restaurant for Dinner in Cusco was a big disappointment - service was awful and food similar. The Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 5 Star and the lunch and dinner there were good. However, the housekeeping is no where near what a 5 Star should be. The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu was very nice - one of the highlights of the entire trip. Take in all the scenery on the morning trip to Machu Picchu because it will be dark almost all the way of the return. Machu Picchu did not disappoint. Be prepared for a lot of climbing - no bathrooms once you leave the train station. Only go on this if you want constant exercise and no "free time" and if you REALLY want to see the animals and Machu Picchu. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
My thirteen year old daughter talked me into this trip but I couldn't convince my wife and other daughter to join us because they are prone to seasickness. I researched this trip extensively here and read all reviews. Suffice it to ... Read More
My thirteen year old daughter talked me into this trip but I couldn't convince my wife and other daughter to join us because they are prone to seasickness. I researched this trip extensively here and read all reviews. Suffice it to say that everything I read is pretty accurate and left no surprises so I'll talk about our cruise in particular. The ages of passengers ran from 8 to 92 (yes, 92) and most from the US and some from UK and a few from Australia and one couple from Puerto Rico and just about everyone was an English speaker. There were a handful of teenagers, mine included, several young adults with parents, and most of the others ranged from 40-65 with some very active seniors. We were fortunate with the weather, it was sunny every day, sometimes a bit cloudy overcast in the early morning, and a bit humid for us (I'm told it was like a typical NY day in the summer). We anticipated cooler water temps and brought our own wet suits but the El Nino kept the waters warmer than normal and used the ships 3 mm shorty suits which worked just fine. Probably in the low 70's and we never even felt the shock of cold when first jumping in and swam at the beaches without wet suits. So, things I wasn't sure of. Well, the luggage limit thing is not really enforced, they told us we could bring more pieces on the plane to Baltra from the hotel if needed. The weight limit appears to facilitate the loading onto the ship. All the luggage which was turned in the night before is taken aboard a small boat, looks like a converted lifeboat, and the pieces are loaded into a single side door on the ship. Each piece is hand carried to the room individually from a staging area, up the stairs since there is no elevator. Heavy pieces would add to the work and make it difficult for the stewards and housekeepers who had to deliver the pieces to the rooms one by one. We had no trouble with three suitcases, one of which was 44 lbs. All stored under the beds and there was ample storage. Would have worn just shorts and tee shirts every day on excursions but I did bring some long sleeve shirts so I had to wear them. Just use lots of sunscreen and bring a hat, you can also buy some cool ones at the small ship store. Shoe requirements were as described, we brought lycra snorkeling/dive socks from swimoutlet.com which minimized flipper chafing and also made wearing water shoes tolerable for walking when wet and filled with sand. As previous reviewers noted, all the guides wear Crocs. Dinners were casual but most folks wore something nicer but it's ok to wear what is comfortable. Although the seas seemed calm, the boat pitched on three axes the first day at sea, enough to roll a water bottle across on the floor. It was annoying but we didn't get sea sick although we brought all the medications. The boat was almost always rolling whether under power or anchored, more than I expected. I saw a photo of the boat in dry dock during the bridge tour, it has a very flat bottom in the rear third and slightly rounded shallow draft on the rest of the length with a bulb in front and side thruster. A single screw prop powered by electric motors charged by diesel. Two small stabilizers that folded out in the front and two larger fixed fins in the rear, none of which seemed to make the ride any better. The water in the hot tub was sloshing out the sides the first day as the ship rolled. The two anchors made four huge noises upon deployment which was alarming at first. Putting each of the four zodiacs in the water using a crane made the ship pitch enough that you would think that it would tip on its side, seems like a top heavy design. Enjoyed the breakfasts and the Ecuadorian coffee each day. Lunch was pretty good and dinners were generally very good. Service was unparalleled across the board. Had wonderful snorkeling and island tours and excursions, all fun and super educational. It is a trip that can be very exhausting so do it now while you can to get the most out of it. If you skip the snorkeling you will be missing a wonderful part of the tour. We skipped the tree planting service outing, it was too humid. It was mostly 75-78 degrees every day, our room AC in the middle of the boat worked fine but heard lots of complaints from others so I was thankful. Free wifi worked well for two days, then it crashed for two days and started working again the last two days. We used Skype to call home on wifi (about 3 cents per min to call a phone number) from my iPad which was incredible considering none of the two cell sites on the islands were ever accessible. Load the application on your tablet or cell phone before you go and add some credit. There isn't enough bandwidth to do good quality video calling and it hogs the bandwidth for other passengers. We also used it at the JW Marriot to make phone calls. The wifi is good and it comes with the room package. There really isn't any other need for a cell phone or satellite phone. We used the JW Marriot add on before and after the cruise, it was well orchestrated considering they have been doing it for ten years. The trip went smoothly and was a huge amount of fun and inspiration. We made lots of friends and enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers whose passion and sense of adventure added so much to the experience. Pope Francisco's visit to Quito and Guyaquil coincided with our arrival back in Quito from Baltra and our departure from Quito so traffic was a mess and there was a lot of security but it was part of the experience. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our bucket list forever, but it always seemed very daunting (both the cost and the expedition nature of the trip, especially on small boats). When we learned about Celebrity Xpedition, we felt ... Read More
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our bucket list forever, but it always seemed very daunting (both the cost and the expedition nature of the trip, especially on small boats). When we learned about Celebrity Xpedition, we felt that the larger ship and luxury details would make it possible for us. I don’t like to tip my hand too much in reviews, but suffice it to say that this trip met and exceeded all of our expectations and was the best cruise ever! This review plus a series of day-by-day blog posts, and questions and answers can be found here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2214872 My photos can be seen and downloaded here: https://jazzbeauxgalapagostrip.shutterfly.com/pictures/5 We took the 10-day package because: (a) our Spanish skills are pretty much limited to restaurant menus; (b) since the cruise wasn’t going to be a relaxing spa affair we wanted a minimum of stress getting there and back; and (c) we were worried that the altitude in Quito is already stretching it [we live near sea level] so Machu Picchu would be problematic. That turned out to be the right decision for us. We made friends on the cruise who were going on to Machu Picchu and they had a great time, but we had enough trouble with the altitude in Quito and were happy to be returning home to our own bed at the end of the cruise. Xpedition is unique in many ways, and the Celebrity website never recognizes this. You cannot print out express passes for Xpedition. You will get a very nice booklet in the mail with luggage tags and everything else you need. This is triggered by your completing the online check-in. If you booked with a TA, the materials will be sent to them and they will forward them to you. Celebrity took great care of us from the moment we got through customs in Quito until they escorted us back to the airport for the flights home. Their shuttles were always waiting for us and eliminated the need to figure out the complex geography of the Quito metropolitan area [a mountain valley that is something like 3 miles wide but 35 miles long and seemingly never flat for more than a block] The J W Marriott hotel is beautiful, the rooms are large [especially compared to European hotels], and the restaurants are very good – and contrary to rumor Wi-Fi internet is included in the Celebrity rate along with the buffet breakfast. The city tour of Quito was interesting, and the maze of streets made us very glad we didn’t try to do this on our own, especially since that first day was the bad one for altitude problems [exhausting travel the day before with the usual dehydration from airplane “desert” humidity levels and late bedtime plus early wake-up produced major headaches and serious lethargy – there should be a warning label “do not operate heavy machinery or make important decisions while under the influence of low oxygen levels”!] Lunch at El Theatrum was good, and the folkloric dancing was entertaining. The Middle of the World park is hokey but still worth doing [look at how many people keep going back to Disney, to see how well hokey can work ;)] – some say it isn’t on the exact Equator, but we have pictures with one foot in each hemisphere and that’s our story and we’re sticking to it… Dinner at La Gloria restaurant was even better than the lunch, so our adventure was off to a great start. The next day showed the real benefit of the 10-day Celebrity cruise tour. After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast (included), we joined our fellow cruisers on Celebrity’s chartered coaches for a smooth trip to Celebrity’s charter flight non-stop to Baltra. We waited in the VIP lounge for a short while [probably until the ship sent the all clear that the cabins were ready], then were smoothly transferred to the nearby pier for the panga ride to Xpedition. Each panga group was welcomed in the lounge [with free booze – a harbinger of the week to come], given a brief presentation, and escorted to our cabins. We paid for “no hassles” – and there were no hassles! [Well, DW and I were seated at the back of the panga and because the day was unusually windy we got soaked from the waists up – but that was the only time we got wet on a panga and the cabin hair dryer took care of the dampness before lunch, so “no harm no foul.”] Note 1: on Xpedition they usually refer to these inflatable boats as “Zodiacs,” which is their brand name. I use the general term “panga,” which is more often found here on Cruise Critic and was occasionally used onboard as well. Note 2: there has been controversy on Cruise Critic about the luggage weight limits on the Celebrity charter flights. The website and the printed materials from Celebrity state limits for both checked and carry-on luggage. I think our checked bags just came in under the limit – but since they were taken the night before so Celebrity could handle the Ecuadorian agricultural inspection for us, there was no opportunity for anyone to complain if they were too heavy. I’m sure our carry-ons were over the limit – and I’m even more sure that nobody weighed them. This is a charter flight, so Celebrity is setting the rules, not the airline. I wouldn’t worry about luggage weights. [If you like to pack light, more power to you – it will make it easier for me to remember you as “the person in that outfit.” ;)] Lunch was the first of many good meals. We had heard that food on Xpedition isn’t up to Celebrity’s usual standards – Bunk! The food was different [which for those who complain about Celebrity’s 14 never-changing menus should be a good thing!], and everything was made from fresh local ingredients and usually reflected Ecuadorian cuisine [both things that people lament missing on most ocean cruises]. I love Ceviche, and it was great to have it in infinite variations every day at lunch. Likewise Spanish deserts like flan and tres leches. And the fish was plentiful, varied and always cooked perfectly. The only weak spot is meat, because strict environmental regulations require that all meat imported into the Galapagos must be partially pre-cooked – this made it a real challenge to comply with our orders for “medium rare,” but once we made our taste known [and adjusted our request to “rare” for emphasis] we generally got exactly what we wanted, and they were always happy to try again and get it right the second time [very quickly]. Alcohol is truly all-inclusive throughout the cruise. Most nights there is a special cocktail of the day in the hour before dinner, but you can get anything you like at any time. Wine is poured freely at lunch and dinner, and if you want anything else they will happily procure it for you. You also get a bottle of bubbly in your cabin – and unlike any other cruise we’ve been on when we asked to switch it for something else we were offered our choice of any wine on the ship [and through a mis-communication we ended up getting two bottles! – although there’s hardly any reason to have a bottle in your cabin, since the bar is only a few steps away] Tipping is also included, and no one acted like they expected anything more even for exemplary service. We weren’t sure how Celebrity had handled tipping at the Quito hotel or with the tour guides, but again the body language was completely different from service personnel in the US who know how to subtly convey their desire for an emolument. At the end of the cruise they ask you to come to the service desk with your credit card, but they sent us away because our bill was zero! Our cabin, 403, was very convenient to the lounge and just one flight up from the dining room. The cabin feels larger than 160 sf, but it's hard to keep it neat with all the expedition gear you need for wet landings, swimming, etc. One of the twin beds is fixed to the wall, so when you have them together as a double somebody [that would be DW] has to crawl over the covers to get in and then doesn’t have a night table or reading light – but otherwise the bed was fine. There’s also a small desk which houses the flat-screen TV, and underneath the small fridge and hairdryer. Behind the TV there are two plugs, one US (for the TV) and one EU. Our cabin came equipped with a 3-plug expander in the US outlet, so we still had 2 spares – plus I had brought an EU-to-US adapter and a 3-plug/2-USB expander [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0016IXEWG/ref=psdc_761520_t1_B0015DYMVO], so we had more than enough slots to plug in the computer, camera battery charger wall-wart, and my shaver charger wall-wart. There are three small drawers in the night table, and two closets with both hangers and shelves (and the safe). The bathroom has a nice shower (with glass door that mostly didn’t leak) and lots of space on the counter and the shelf underneath. The shower has 3 dispensers (soap, shampoo and separate conditioner. Water pressure is very good. There is a clothesline built in to the shower – but with no balcony, stuff doesn't dry quickly [meaning, bring 3 bathing suits] Air conditioning worked great in our cabin and throughout the ship. I had heard rumors that the AC isn’t so good on decks 3 and 6, but we heard no complaints from residents of those neighborhoods. Our deck 4 cabin was nice and cool [even had to turn up the thermostat] I mentioned to the CD the complaints I have read on CC about deck 6, and she admitted that the separate AC system added for that new deck had some teething problems that were corrected after the first season. She also noted that the ship's AC system uses sea water and that makes it work perversely in the Galapagos climate where the water is warm when the air temp is cool and vice versa – the result is that the AC works too well in cool weather and not well enough in warm weather [I forget the engineering principle behind this, but it made sense at the time – of course that was the evening of the Wine Tasting, which may have had something to do with my comprehension ;)]. The dining room does get warmer as you go back, but we never had to sit further back than the first table past the arch and we did fine. I had heard that you have to go to the lounge to get Wi-Fi reception, but our cabin (403) was close enough that we had a good signal. The issue was getting beyond the local network to the internet – apparently there was an unusual problem on our cruise, because part way through they reformatted the network server with a new name and new passwords and after that it was much better. Service was good, but not great. Our cabin attendant kept everything clean and neat [she was OCD about everything – even our things – being kept in the “right” place!], but she had a blind spot for wash cloths and routinely failed to replace them. [Luckily we discovered that they use them as hand towels in the public washrooms, so we knew where to replenish our supply as needed!] The waiters in the dining room were very friendly and willing to make substitutions/corrections as requested, but service in general was slower than we would have liked [and with three friendly couples we had enough conversation going on that we weren’t bolting our food…] The naturalists were top-notch, and I can’t imagine any other cruise line having better ones. They were taking pictures throughout the cruise, and at the end we were each given a DVD with a slideshow and 500+ pictures – and also a coffee table book that Celebrity produced about the Galapagos Islands – nice touches! [And if our luggage wasn’t overweight on the flight in, the addition of that book ensured that it was coming home!] So, from a cruise and cruise-tour perspective this was a 4- or 5-star experience. But that’s not why you go to Galapagos [it’s just what makes it possible to survive…] You go for the itinerary – the unique geology, flora and fauna. And this trip did not disappoint in any way. We chose the Inner Loop in May because we wanted to see the Blue-Footed Boobies doing their mating dance – and we saw it in spades! Also the male Frigate birds with their gular pouches expanded like their had overdosed on Viagra! Everything else was gravy, but there was lots of gravy: sea lions in all the usual poses; many kinds of birds [I guess it’s obvious that we’re not “birders” – all I know about pelicans I learned from Ogden Nash: “A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill can hold more than his belican”]; the stark beauty of volcanic landscapes, with more variation than I expected – and above all the animals’ complete lack of fear about our presence. The Galapagos delivered everything you have ever read it can. It helped that we had great weather. There was no rain to speak of until the last day. The air was hot and humid, especially on the afternoon excursions, but there was usually a good breeze to keep us cool. [There is no shade anywhere, so you really want to wear a big hat and spread on the SPF50.] And the water was still warm enough that we didn’t need the (provided) wetsuits. So my conclusion on timing is that early May is an excellent choice. The one weak spot in the itinerary [in our opinion] is the final day on Santa Cruz [and this is common to both itineraries]. It’s a good thing the Giant Tortoises were not high on our to-do list because they really didn’t hold to the level of “Oh My God” that the rest of the animals had established. [This was our one rainy day, which may have also affected our enjoyment.] We took the morning tour of the Charles Darwin facility – but the museum is closed and even the gift shop was closed on our visit, so this was just a dull walk to get to the Tortoise pens. There we saw randy Diego and two of his harem [he and the two young males he incited to jealousy brought their species back from 14 to 2,000], one pubescent male mistakenly humping another male [at the wrong end!] while a few others milled around, and dozens of cute babies being raised to restock the unique species on a couple of the islands. This was OK, but not much different from visiting any zoo [Diego was repatriated to the Galapagos from the San Diego zoo, hence his name]. We went back to the ship for lunch [this was option 2, which only 6 of us had chosen]. In the afternoon we were supposed to go back to the island for a bus ride to the highlands where we would see the Giant Tortoises in the wild, but since it was still raining only one couple decided to go – and they reported that after a 45-minute bus ride (each way) and much slogging through mud, they only saw a total of two (count ‘em – 2!) tortoises. [They also stepped off the bus into two feet of brackish water, which didn’t add anything to the enjoyment of the day ;)] Option 1 was a full day on the island, with the Darwin Center in the morning, a tree planting service-trip, lunch at a restaurant in the highlands, and then the search for wild Tortoises. I don’t know how this is handled normally, but on our cruise there was a special attempt to set a world record for simultaneous tree plantings so there was heavy pressure [Ecuadorian women know how to use guilt as a weapon as well as any nationality!] and almost everybody signed up. The reports back were not good: the food at the restaurant is not up to Xpedition standards, the folkloric entertainment was amateurish, the mud was as high as a tortoise’s eye, and several people fell or had near misses. Instead of being shunned as non-team players we were praised for our good judgment in staying on the ship. Other than that day, all the excursions were top notch and we almost always chose the more demanding one. There were usually two choices for both the morning and evening excursions – you sign up the night before so that they can allocate panga-loads among the two options [National Park rules limit each panga to 16 guests, so they have to make sure everybody sorts out correctly.] As far as I could tell everyone got their first choice every day [I think there are seven pangas, so they have a little wiggle room – we were occasionally on a less-than-full panga]. On two days there was also a third activity – a deep water snorkel. We passed on these as DW doesn’t swim well enough and even I was scared off by the dire warnings. After hearing the reports back I think I could easily have done them [the water is actually calmer away from the beach] but three excursions in one day would probably have been too exhausting. One added bonus was the stars! DW went up to deck 6 (which has the fewest lights) and after her eyes adjusted she was blown away by the myriad stars and the painted stripe of the Milky Way. This was unexpected, but another awe-inspiring aspect of nature in the Galapagos. We missed the extra bonus of the eruption of Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, which started two weeks after we were there – the next Inside Loop cruise was perfectly timed, and they should be seeing views like this: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-32882500 Too bad we missed it on the May 10 sailing – we could have saved a trip to Hawaii! The end of the trip was a smooth as everything else. One last panga ride [stayed dry this time], charter flight, and bus back to the J W Marriott. I should mention – and praise – the food service on the flight: first a white tablecloth for your tray table, then the meal tray which includes a blue cloth napkin and real metal tableware. Pay attention to your napkin: many have a Celebrity X embroidered in the corner, but a few have a Blue-Footed Booby [two of which are now in our collection] We had an excellent (and included) dinner that night in the hotel restaurant, then breakfast the next morning and a quick shuttle back to the airport for our flights home. The altitude didn’t bother us as much this second time in Quito [probably because we didn’t arrive exhausted, or maybe because we didn’t actually try to do anything] and we got home safely late that night. We had been warned that Quito is “dry” on Sundays and therefore on the return evening you could not purchase wine at dinner. This is not quite true. If you go to a regular restaurant, it may be true [we didn’t test this] But the hotel is allowed to serve alcohol along with food. Not only was the restaurant selling wine, the bar was doing a good trade also [I suppose they provided peanuts or something to qualify as “food”] But the advice ended up working to our advantage since we brought that free bottle of wine back from the ship and the hotel bar was happy to open it and provide wine glasses (for free), which we then brought into the restaurant without raising any eyebrows. This was our 11th cruise, plus we have taken many DIY land trips – and it is etched in our memory as the best cruise ever. Celebrity Xpedition is the only way to go in the Galapagos, and the islands are everything they are reputed to be. I highly recommend it – but don’t wait too long because even with all the Celebrity luxury this is still an expedition cruise. Do it now, and save the Caribbean for your dotage! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
Check! Was a great cruise. We were in cabin 506. It had a king bed and balcony. I highly recommend the balcony. We used the table and chairs and had cocktails and read books and star gazed nightly. Ship is a bit dated and needs a ... Read More
Check! Was a great cruise. We were in cabin 506. It had a king bed and balcony. I highly recommend the balcony. We used the table and chairs and had cocktails and read books and star gazed nightly. Ship is a bit dated and needs a facelift, but overall was great. Bar was excellent. They will make anything you can come up with with a smile. Food was great. Our favorite lunch was the Beagle Grill on the deck, everything was grilled fresh in front of you and to your order. Dinners were always great. Breakfast was always good. Excursions were what we expected. Up everyday at 6:30 - out at 8am, day ended around 4:30. We did not participate in any of the evening stuff except they lectures so we can't speak to that. The zodiac drivers were super great and did everything to make sure everyone got their pictures. Not an easy task. The naturalists.....the younger ones were enthusiastic, but I must say, they didn't give any interest in us as individuals. I know not one of them knew my name by the end of the week. Each island was unique and you get a talk the night before on the different options you can choose from to take - like a long walk and snorkelng or zodiac ride and beach walk. They keep everyone pretty happy. I must say we are in our mid 50's and we were the youngest people onboard. Some people were easily in their 80's. I would not do this trip again without having another couple with us. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We booked 1 1/2 years in advance and this trip exceeded our expectations! Celebrity has everything down perfect. We were on the April 10 trip which included 2 nights in the Marriott in Quito pre-cruise and 1 night post-cruise. Here is a ... Read More
We booked 1 1/2 years in advance and this trip exceeded our expectations! Celebrity has everything down perfect. We were on the April 10 trip which included 2 nights in the Marriott in Quito pre-cruise and 1 night post-cruise. Here is a summary of our trip: ITINERARY - Quito, Galapagos Islands of (Baltra-Daphne Island, Santiago & Rabida Islands, Isabela Island, Bartolome, Santa Cruz, North Seymour Islands, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Island). FLIGHT TO QUITO - We flew American Airlines from Baltimore to a connection in Miami and only had about 50 min. between flights. It worked out perfectly, we arrived a little early in Miami and our gates were only about 5 apart. We flew first class/business class as a present to ourselves for our 40th anniversary. All went well. PACKING - We followed advise we had seen on Cruise Critic and other sites and packed all of our ships clothes in a medium size bag for each of us and had no problem keeping to the 44 lbs which they say is required when flying from Quito to Baltra. We had 1 carry on which had our clothing for the 3 (total) nights stay at the Quito hotel. We left that overnight bag at the hotel until we returned from the cruise. Worked perfectly! Take a good pair of walking shoes and water shoes. They recommend hiking shoes for a couple walks and it probably isn't a bad idea but a good pair of tennis shoes worked fine for us. I suggest 2 pair of water shoes and 2-3 bathing suits as it takes awhile to dry things between excursion. We also took a waterproof backpack which was perfect for carrying camera, water, rain jackets on our excursions. QUITO - We arrived and were met by a Celebrity rep, there were about 14 people that came in on the same flight as us and we were all transferred by to the hotel in Quito (approximately 45-60 min. drive depending on traffic). At the hotel, the Celebrity desk handed out our room keys and we headed to our rooms. Room was very nice and everyone is very helpful and friendly. This was the only evening we had to eat on our own, we opted to stay in the hotel as it wasn't a city we wanted to walk around in on our own. We ate at the steak house which was "hotel" expensive and food fair. All meals were included after this. City tour included 3 churches, the World Park, the Presidential Palace and lunch. The churches are beautiful! Unlike some others, we enjoyed the World Park and standing on the original equatorial line. There is an option to go back to the hotel after lunch instead of going to the park. FLIGHT TO BALTRA - we upgraded to business class on this flight with Celebrity at their desk in the hotel. It is a nice chartered flight which has 150 seats. Although they tell you 44 lb checked bag they did not seem to worry too much. I would recommend trying to stay within the 44 lbs but Celebrity's motto seems to be "don't worry". Upon arrival at Baltra you load a bus for about a 10 min. ride to zodiacs to the ship. STATEROOM: We were in cabin 401, I have no complaints about this cabin, it was quiet and it is close to the lounge where briefings are given and just one flight down the steps for dinner. We also discovered on the last day that we could actually get the wifi in our stateroom because it was so close to the lounge (they tell you it is only available in the Discovery Lounge). ISLANDS - every day had a morning and afternoon excursion; with each you can choose between option 1 or 2 (e.g. short or long version of the excursion). Option 1 is usually a long walk or hike combined with something like beach snorkel and Option 2 might be a short walk or zodiac ride combined with the beach snorkel. On our trip many people opted for the long walk/hike and I think you may see a little more but they do a great job at trying to make sure both groups see the highlights on either option. The wildlife and snorkeling (which I recommend doing) has little if any fear of humans, we were asked to keep about 8 feet away from wildlife and everyone was very respectful of the rules related to wildlife. My favorite island was North Seymour; however, each one has something special to offer. Also, the zodiac ride at Isabela Island was also fantastic as we saw blue footed boobies, penguins, and sea lions feeding, plus rays and sea turtles. Selecting option 1 or 2 for tours is typically not a problem, the only time we didn't get our first choice was for Isabela Island and it is the same trip but one is at 8am and one at 10am. The 8am was booked quickly so we had to go at 10am. It was a rather hot day so I think the morning would have been better. FOOD: Good selection of food, quality was good, staff excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: Not really much and most people are in bed early since the days begin early and are very full. YOUR DAY ON BOARD: Breakfast, morning excursion, lunch, afternoon excursion, cocktail party, briefing, dinner, entertainment. WHAT WE REALLY LIKED: 1. Being a small ship we got to meet many more people than we do on a large ship and everyone was friendly. 2. It is all inclusive so all drinks are included and no tipping is required - the service was fantastic and every one of the crew was helpful and friendly. 3. Everything was well planned yet there was flexibility. 4. It was everything we imagined (beautiful wildlife, swimming with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, seeing blue footed boobies, frigate birds, iguana, land tortoises etc.). 5. The naturalists all had cameras and took photos and at the end of the trip they gave us all a CD of the photos! 6. Wifi was available and free although was not always reliable. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
This tour was booked on a previous Celebrity cruise and it was our first expedition sail. Scanty Information about the tour specifics given, and the fact that I organized everything from my computer in Switzerland gave us a flash of ... Read More
This tour was booked on a previous Celebrity cruise and it was our first expedition sail. Scanty Information about the tour specifics given, and the fact that I organized everything from my computer in Switzerland gave us a flash of surprise at arrival, albeit a pleasant one. Except for an excess of packed garments more suitable for a gala night on Equinox than for Xpedition. The rest of our review would be very similar to the reviews of our predecessors, helping only to increase the pile of 'excellent' reports. The ship and cabin was just right, service reading from our lips, superb dining. A special comment must be given to the zodiac excursions. They were aptly programmed and professionally organized. The drivers were skilled, naturalists knowledgeable and caring for us. The beautiful nature around us did the rest, clicking of the cameras is still in our mind. The pre-tour and after-tour arrangements in Quito, Ecuador, rounded up this remarkable excursion. All this together highly contributed to the breathtaking experience of this overall excellent tour. For guests from Europe a long travel might be an issue, and it is therefore advisable to combine this cruise with another tour in so marvelous Ecuador. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
In my opinion. All the Celebrity email promotions were useless, including my birthday credit because they were targeted to everything but the ship I was on. No-one at Celebrity phone center has any idea what the Xpedition is about.  ... Read More
In my opinion. All the Celebrity email promotions were useless, including my birthday credit because they were targeted to everything but the ship I was on. No-one at Celebrity phone center has any idea what the Xpedition is about.  Notwithstanding all the issues with Celebrity customer service. THE XPEDITION IS WONDERFUL AND NOT TO BE MISSED. A special number needs to be provided to access information about this cruise as the online process and phone contacts currently available do not help. The website needs updating to better provide detailed information pertaining to Xpedition only, with links that work to 'dining' 'included tours', etc. Having Dr Ellen Prager on board was a plus, her talks were very informative and her guidance along with that of the Naturalists was exceptional. Laurena who serviced our stateroom was wonderful, as were all the waitstaff in general. Of the naturalists I could not pick a specific one or two, The group worked well together and individually all brought a little different viewpoint to the onshore and snorkel experiences. The Islands visited on this cruise are a wonderful example of different wildlife and geology present in the Galapagos. The Xpedition is a great ship with only 99 guests maximum, food is all locally sourced and very well presented. The Zodiacs and their drivers take a maximum of 16 guests with a naturalist to each of the beaches (easy wet landings) lava (dry but sometimes difficult landings) and out of the zodiac into the water snorkel experiences. All of which excel at wildlife viewings and awesome photo opportunities. The staff make it a priority to ensure all guests of most physical activity levels can experience to the full the entire offering of the events scheduled. This ship and tour are not wheelchair handicap accessible. Wetsuits, masks, fins and snorkels and life vests provided are all well maintained and clean. Safety is a very large part of this Celebrity Xpedition cruise, yet does not overly limit the interaction with sea lions and turtles in the water and the very large tortoises and iguanas found on the islands. In conclusion, it is the corporate side of Celebrity that needs to 'get fixed' the Celebrity Xpedition itself is very different from any other cruise of most cruise lines, and is the most marvelous experience to add to one's list of adventures.   Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
There were so many things I was worried about when selecting a Galapagos Cruise so I'll try to address those. 1. Itinerary A or B? We talked with a couple who just came off A and were doing B with us and asked their opinion. They ... Read More
There were so many things I was worried about when selecting a Galapagos Cruise so I'll try to address those. 1. Itinerary A or B? We talked with a couple who just came off A and were doing B with us and asked their opinion. They said that they saw more and more variety of animals on A but B had far more breathtaking/variety of landscapes. Please keep in mind that they did not snorkel which means they missed LOTS of animals on itinerary B. Interestingly, my husband's favorite day was on Sullivan Bay where we walked extensively on a lava field-- great experience, but no animals. We liked the variety. My favorite was North Seymore, which was what you dream of when you think of the Galapagos-- it felt like being on an ancient planet, thousands of huge birds nesting in low scrub, with no fear of man so they are comfortable when you are a foot away. Most beautiful were the Frigate birds with their swollen red "hearts" just inches away from us, and their large, fluffy white babies which we watched them feed. Unreal. I truly don't think you can go wrong with either itinerary and we plan to go back in a few years to do A. Only issue I had with B was that the last two days were less remote than I would have liked-- each day we were in a city (Santiago and Santa Cruise) with pretty marinas but not much else to see and I was annoyed by the "shopping time" that felt like wasted time to me in each stop, especially since they take you on a nice shopping event your last day when you are back in Quito and it is all the same stuff. On Santiago, there is a stop at the Darwin research center which we just skipped based on previous reviews-- a beautiful day and we didn't want to spend it inside looking at "panels" that described exactly what we have been learning first hand all week-- people who went said it was really for kids and not worth the time. We explored the little town but there isn't much to see excepts thousands of sea lions. Santa Cruise was worse. In the morning they take you to the turtle breeding facility which is interesting though no like being on the remote islands. The bad part is you walk back on your own to the town and meet up for your ride back at the fish market-- but you have to wait over an hour because this is forced shopping time. It was sweltering hot and no one wanted to shop so all we could do was wait-- they gave us no alternative to shopping. The afternoon was worse in some ways. We were excited to see turtles in the wild but elected to do the tree planting where you helped reforest the island, then had lunch at a ranch before you went to see turtles in the wild-- I would not recommend this option, I would go back on the boat, eat lunch there then go out again to see the turtles in the wild. If you do the tree planting it is literally getting into rubber boots, being handed 2 plants, walking a few feet, putting them into a pre-dug hole, then covering the hole with soil. Ten minutes but a huge process of getting there, finding your boots, changing, taking them off again, etc. Seemed a bit silly-- I thought we literally would be planing for an hour or so. But the worst was then going to this ranch for lunch-- the experience felt so touristy, like a cheap low end cruise. The food was the typical buffet-- mostly carps with hunks of overcooked fish and dark meat chicken. Not nearly as good as the food on the ship. Then you had to sit though a half hour of local dancing which just wasn't consistent with the intent and nature of the trip-- to be in the wild, a remote place, to be an explorer. After that we had a literally 30 minute walk in the field of this ranch to see the turtles which you could see when you were eating lunch anyway. It wasn't actually a walk really a picture taking with a turtle then walking a few feet in a loop. The ranch was surrounded with wire fence and the owners had cut trees so tourists could see the turtles better. This just didn't feel at all like an authentic experience and was not up to the same expedition quality as the other days; kind of a bummer to end on this day. However, overall, the itinerary was amazing-- just that the first four days were far superior to the last two though to be fair so many were tired they probably appreciated it. Also, be aware that you really don't see anything on your first day at all despite the idea they plant that you will be seeing daphene island. In our case the plane leaving Quito was scheduled for 10:30 but didn't depart until 2:00. Based on the fact that the notice they posted had been whited out several times I would say this is common. So we basically got there in time for dinner and were super rushed the next morning having to do our snorkeling fitting then. As it turns out you never actually get to visit Daphene island anyway, all it would have been is the boat circling around it, there is no landing there or snorkeling. The only annoying thing about this was that we had to get up at 5am in Quito to get breakfast and be ready to depart for the airport at 7:30. No one informed us about the plane issue at all, they simply posted it and people coming into breakfast told us. I think we should have been immediately notified in our rooms and in the breakfast room so we could go back to bed if we wanted. 2. Will I see lots of animals? Best advice: snorkel. If you don't you will miss HALF of what there is to see. It is easy, learn now. Celebrity excels here with quality equipment and a process that makes you feel completely safe and comfortable-- they will immediately get you if you tire and watch like hawks. We saw sharks, rays, lots of fish, turtles-- but the experience of a lifetime was swimming just off the beach with a Penguin for 20 minutes and playing with the sea lions during the deep water snorkels (15 feet). The sea lions play this game where they swim right at you then dart away at the last minute over and over plus they will mimic all your moves-- the cruise director told us they love to do this. Mesmerizing, pure magic, just what you came to the Galapagos for. Celebrity won't teach you how to snorkel but will give you any advice, support, etc. so best to get a quick lesson ahead of time or have a friend traveling help you. They say expert snorkeling for the deep water but it just means you need to know how to swim and won't panic if you see a big animal. The current was light and they have you go with a buddy anyway and stay with the group. 3. Food? It was far better than a regular main dining room but not quite as good as a specialty restaurant. Fish and shrimp were generally overcooked, so stayed with pastas and meats-- but the lobster which was served four times was always excellent. Desserts were the weakness, not nearly as good as a typical Celebrity cruise generally custards, simple cakes-- no wonderful pastry. Breakfast and lunch were always very good with a station of custom cooking, dinner ranged from fair to excellent. Loved fresh juices and snacks waiting for you after each outing. 4. Service? AMAZING, best we've ever had on a cruise by far. Even though alcohol included, they were always right there asking for your order. From the restaurant to the cruise director who had to get your preference each day for tours, they were always flexible, cheerful and accommodating. The entire ship was super clean. 5. Rooms? Clean, comfortable, small. Beds in window rooms are narrow. We had two rooms for our family, daughters in window room we were in a junior suite. The junior suite was smaller than any regular balcony room we've ever had on a ship but perfectly fine for us since you spend so little time there. We did love the balcony because we looked at the stars each night, got amazing views of kicker rock as we circumnavigated it (get on the port side if you have a balcony and do itinerary B so you can watch from your balcony). Only issue for some might be that in our "suite" it was a double bed with the bed against the wall so the second person had to climb over to get to bathroom in the middle of the night. However we are both tall (5'11) and had no issue with size of bed-- in fact never slept so well in my life. Looked in other suites and I would not pay the huge fee to go up in size, you could barely tell the difference between a junior suite and expedition suite. 6. Seasickness. I was so worried and the boat does rock quite a bit but I used bonine and sea bands and had no issues at all and didn't hear about anyone else having issues. Most of the rocking was at night and as I said, I never slept so well. 7.Age Range-- I was prepared for all seniors (we are two teens and two in 50's) but we had a really nice range across the board, a few 20 something couples, six teens (it was school vacation week) and a nice representation of 40-60. There were a lot of 60-70 but mostly in good shape and no elderly at all. Celebrity did a nice job of having faster, slower walks and zodiac rides vs. walks so the slower people could travel together. Also after a day or so we learned how to group ourselves in terms of activity level-- you didn't want to be on the zodiac with the people who had to use the bathroom all the time or lagged behind or complained of the heat. 8. Size: we were a bit worried with just a 100 people we might be stuck with people we didn't like but it was an amazing group with many fast friendships formed; in fact the spirit of fun and camaraderie was one of the best things about the cruise. There was literally one obnoxious person that everyone tried to avoid. This sort of happiness factor was the reason we chose Celebrity over Silver sea, and it makes a difference. 9. Land Tour: We did the ten day, and it was largely wonderful as well. The Marriot is a particularly nice one and the food far better than I expected. The first tour in Quito was wonderful, lunch had a pretty view and was delicious (don't miss the local cheese/potato soup with great toppings). The only dissapointment was the afternoon tour to the equator-- trust me and skip it as other warned me to do. It is an ugly one hour ride when you are already tired, to and ugly unscenic location that is basically a monument on the equator-- except it is not actually the right line they have found out and will be building a new line. It is surrounded by cheap tourist shops and isn't really a museum-- just a few amateurish panels that you have to walk down the tower stairs to read. Celebrity should really offer an alternative-- Quito is so beautiful I wish we had stayed there and done the cable car ride or anything else. Dinner was excellent. On the return, we had a served dinner in a private room at the hotel with live music (a really talented sax vocalist) and were again surprised at the quality and delighted it wasn't a buffet. Nice way to spend your last night with all the friends you will make. 10. Best Souvenir: the locally made shawls they sell on the street for $2.50. My daughters also found some hand made jewelry but there isn't much and the best stuff is in Quito so don't waste your time shopping on the Galapagos. 11. Expense: Do it! It is so worth it, a truly one of a kind experience and a relief to have absolutely everything included and to feel that you were well treated, no one was ever trying to sell you. Best cruise, and one of best vacation experiences ever (Africa wins out) and we are well traveled. 12. Entertainment: None really but we loved chatting after dinner in the bar with new friends and we we're utterly exhausted each night and wanted nothing but bed and a good book. Energy needed: Don't wait until you are too old to do this. It is exhausting-- two hikes and snorkeling each day in the heat. Parting Words: Celebrity really has this down, I would pick them again. Everyone seemed happy, to be having a ball and to be delighted-- that's the atmosphere you want on a cruise. Best staff ever. I wondered if we lucked out with our fun, interesting, nice fellow passengers but I really think it is part of the experience Celebrity creates on this unique ship. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
I'm not going to repeat what many other reviewers have already said about this fantastic cruise. I found their reviews to be very helpful, and I am going to add a few of my own comments and suggestions. Most importantly, this is a ... Read More
I'm not going to repeat what many other reviewers have already said about this fantastic cruise. I found their reviews to be very helpful, and I am going to add a few of my own comments and suggestions. Most importantly, this is a very "casual" cruise and passengers should prepare - and pack - accordingly. Please take lightweight clothing that can be layered, that wicks moisture, can be re-worn, and can be washed and dried quickly (if needed). Ladies; this is a no or low-maintenance cruise - leave the cosmetics and hair products home. My "wash and wear" hairstyle worked perfectly (although there are hairdryers in the cabin) and I wore a hat every time we went in the Zodiac. There is no need to dress for dinner, although a few passengers changed out of their day clothes into something a little bit nicer. Dressy clothes seem out of place. Also pack shoes that can get wet, are good for walking, and are lightweight. Lots of people wore Keens that seemed to do well (I wore beach shoes for the wet landings and trail running shoes for the dry landings and hikes). For inclement days, bring along a lightweight windbreaker and a pair of long pants. I was surprised at how many people didn't have any long pants! The physical challenges of the wet and dry landings and the excursions expressed in some of the other reviews were "overblown" in my opinion. We did the more active daily options and had no problems. People in fairly reasonable shape can handle all the daily excursions. After the cruise ended, we did the extension to Machu Picchu. The earlier reviews about the logistical challenges were accurate. While we did a lot of flying (Quito to Lima to Cusco and then back to Lima), we're not sure if there was an alternative. Machu Picchu was amazing and we're so glad we saw it!! The hotels in Quito, Cusco, and Lima were all exceptional as well as all the meals they served us. I tried to savor every moment of this trip. It will be one that I will not soon forget (or stop talking about)! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
A wonderful trip where we saw no end of wildlife, and I would recommend to anyone interested in birds and aquatic life. In terms of giving an account of what you will see and the standards of the crew and naturalists I don't think I ... Read More
A wonderful trip where we saw no end of wildlife, and I would recommend to anyone interested in birds and aquatic life. In terms of giving an account of what you will see and the standards of the crew and naturalists I don't think I can improve on what's been said by others, but there are some things I've not seen said elsewhere about the trip. One thing I had assumed was that all of the passengers would be interested in the wildlife. Many, of course, were, but a surprising number had a pretty superficial interest. An example from the last day: one guest asked what the big bird was flying over the ship. It was a frigate. And we had seen at least five every day when they follow the ship for in some cases several hours. Others came up up with very odd ideas "no self respecting animal would live here". Still others were more interested in the quantity of animals than the animals themselves - "we only saw one flamingo". True, but it stood some three metres away for the whole time we were there, offering closer views than you would get in most zoos. And there was one overheard comment of "I'm glad it is sunny - that's what we came for." Now, it it important not too get this out of proportion, since the majority did seem to be interested in the wildlife. Just be prepared for the substantial minority who don't seem to be. I'd make a similar remark about choosing long or short trips. While we did some long walks we usually chose the short. This is because the long trips were typically around twice the distance and took perhaps two hours rather than one and a half. Which basically meant they had far less opportunity to stop and look at the wildlife. Even on the short walks you could hit the problem. At one point we were able to watch flightless cormorants diving to collect seaweed and then as we watched they brought it back to their mate who took it and built it into the nest. That alone I could have watched for an hour, but we had to hurry on to see more iguanas just resting on the beach, exactly like all the others we had seen earlier. But the point of that little tale is that an important part of wildlife watching is time, and I felt I got that on the short walks but not the long. It is important to ask the naturalists questions. Left to themselves they will point out the major sights that most people are interested in. But once they are aware that you are interested in, say, the plants, then they will discuss those as well. By the latter half of the trip we had formed a good relationship with all the naturalists who were pointing out lots of things because they knew it would interest us (for example that there are six species of spider on the islands and we saw two. My suspicion is that they don't mention spiders as a rule) So once again: it was a brilliant trip that I would certainly do again. There is a bit of compromise needed because you are in groups of sixteen, but if you stick close to the naturalist and chat about what you see between his or her main "talks to the group" you will get much more out of the walks. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We had a wonderful cruise/trip to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We left from Miami at 1600, on Friday December 12 and returned on Tuesday, December 23. The flight to Quito was just under four (4) hours. We landed at the new ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise/trip to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We left from Miami at 1600, on Friday December 12 and returned on Tuesday, December 23. The flight to Quito was just under four (4) hours. We landed at the new airport about a one hour drive from Qutio. We spent Saturday touring Quito and visiting the actual Equator. We were able to take photographs straddling the northern and southern hemisphere. We flew to the Galapagos Island by charter flight on Sunday. It was a two hour flight from Quito. The Celebrity Xpedition is a 92-passenger vessel. The limit for the Galapagos is 100 passengers. We saw hundreds of marine iguanas, birds and sea lions. There were many firsts. For example, for the first time ever I saw flamingos in flight. Another high-light was visiting the tortoise Rehab center. The ship never moored. Zodiacs take you from the ship to shore. There was usually a long walk and a short walk each day. With the ability to snorkel on some days. All the snorkeling equipment is available. The Zodiacs carry 16 passengers in a group. Each group has a naturalist assigned. The service was outstanding. It was the first time we had tried an all-inclusive cruise and we loved it. Everything was included, meals, drinks, tips once we arrived in Quito. We used airline miles to fly from Miami. There may be a weight limitation, but laptops and camera equipment do not count towards the limit. Bring the best camera with the longest telephoto lens you can afford. I also bought an inexpensive water-proof camera for snorkeling. Bring long sleeve shirts and long pants since the sun is intense near the equator. I am a redhead so I even brought fingerless gloves to cover my hands in addition to head covering. We highly recommend this cruise. We also recommend going at this time of the year since it is still the dry season. There was no rain while we were in the Galapagos and only a short light rain in Quito. We stayed at the Marriott in Quito and visited the Cloud forest when we returned before flying back to Miami. You do have to be in good physical condition. Most of the shore walks were on unimproved paths and trails. If you have not already been to Machu Piccu, would highly recommend taking the combined trip since Machu Piccu, itself, can be seen in one-day.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We were on the same cruise as the only British Couple and flew out to Quito On BA and Iberia via Madrid early Boxing Day morning arriving some 12 hours later. We were met at the Airport on arrival (we were the only couple) and arrived at ... Read More
We were on the same cruise as the only British Couple and flew out to Quito On BA and Iberia via Madrid early Boxing Day morning arriving some 12 hours later. We were met at the Airport on arrival (we were the only couple) and arrived at the hotel some 45 mins later around 9.45pm. We were lucky to be given an upgraded room. We enjoyed the food at the hotel both pre and post cruise. The included tour of Quito was good and the buffet lunch with traditional Ecuadorian singing and dancing Was excellent. Although we were fairly tired we went out on the afternoon trip to the Equatorial Line Monument. The evening meal was at La Gloria, a local restaurant we enjoyed this too. Now for the Cruise We were sold this as an "adults" cruise. This was not the case and slightly spoilt it for us. Probably being over Christmas and New Year altered the dynamics slightly. There were only 5 or 6 English speaking couples. The rest were made up of family groups, some large with 3 generations and some with young children. Also, quite a number of Spanish speaking South Americans. They all kept to their own groups and didn't mix so dining times gave you little choice of who to sit with. Luckily we made friends with the American couples. One of the American ladies was very upset at the "unsociable"situation. Most of the teens and 20 something's were a pain as far as hogging and sitting right on top of the Wifi "hot spot".They seemed to be on their phones/laptops 24/7. In fact some of them hardly seemed to leave the ship! My husband likes to keep in email contact with his 90 year old Mother. This was virtually impossible. Make no mistake, this is not your usual cruise. It's an "Expedition" ship. It doesn't matter how many cruise lines you've sailed on or how many you have done and we've done over 50 this is totally different. There is nothing to do on the ship during the day as your not expected to be there and have paid a hefty price to go see the spectacular wildlife. Something that LeaderLady failed to mention. We saw Boobies, Nazca and Blue-footed varieties. Marine and Land Iguanas. Galápagos Hawks, Waved Albatross, Tropic Birds, Mockingbirds, Frigate Birds, flightless comorants. Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, Penguins, Giant Tortoises, Darwin Finches,Flamingos and much more to see if you enjoy snorkelling in cold water. Just wildlife everywhere. You had to be careful not to step on anything. The only disappointment as far as seeing wildlife for me was that we didn't see the Red Footed Boobies or the recently discovered Pink Iguanas, both found on Isla Genovesa in the far north and not on any expedition itinerary. The Naturalists all Ecuadorian were all good. Some better than others. I did feel that the Spanish speaking guests should have gone out separately in their own group as there were many occasions when a lengthy Spanish conversation was conducted within the party of which we were not included. Every evening before dinner we were given a talk with slide show on what we should see the following day and the type of terrain and level of fitness required and recommendations as to footwear, clothing and if insect repellent was necessary. This information is also given in your Celebrity Today. Apart from 1 walk we chose the long walk every time. Paying all that money I wanted to see all I could. The ratio of guests to staff was 98/62. Our cabin was made up 3 times a day. There was plenty of hot water. Only a couple of channels on the TV and very little drawer space. The ship did sway a bit some nights but it's a small ship so its to be expected. No, there isn't a lot to do in the evenings after dinner, there was always music and dancing. Karaoke one night. Many went straight to bed. It's very full on and not what I would describe as a holiday. We were up at 6.30, breakfast at 7. The long walk usually started at 8am. Back on the ship by 11.30, lunch at 12. Afternoon walk 3pm back to the ship by 6.pm then cocktail party from 7pm talk at 7.15 followed by dinner. It was hard not to over indulge on the all inclusive drinks. I did suffer one morning after to many Pisco Sours the previous night!! The food was good and the Lobster excellent. We ate out on deck one night, wonderful. Our first night on the ship we were standing at the stern. It was dark and we were watching the stars when we heard a strange noise. We looked down to the landing platform where there were 3 sea lions asleep catching a ride. They were there for quite a while. All in all we really enjoyed this trip. Not the 5 star I expected but a good 4 1/2 I would definitely like to do the trip again at a different season and the Inner Loop. I would just ensure that it wouldn't be during school/college break. Whilst waiting at Baltra Airport for our flight back to Quito I did notice that the newly arriving passengers were all adults and seemingly couples. We booked this over 18 months ago when on the Celebrity Infinity. At that time there were no deals. We had a £400 cruise credit but they wouldn't let us use it for the xpedition. They are doing deals now though. We did a Transatlantic in October when Celebrity were heavily promoting the Galápagos and offering up to $500 onboard credit for your current cruise. So if your thinking about this trip it might pay to book onboard if you have a forthcoming Celebrity cruise booked.   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity ... Read More
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity taking care of all details, everything would go well. NOT. We arrived at 11.35 pm on December 25 (we flew out of Newark, NJ) only to discover that "Celebrity comes in on Friday nights to pick up." Which meant that there was no one there to meet us. We checked our multi-paged itinerary and noted yes they had the flight right; yes it said the time. Yes the check in at JWMARRIOTT is December 26 -- and in 15 more minutes it IS December 26 -- so what happened??? No one knew. A greeter from Azmara got us a cab -- we spoke no Spanish and they didn't speak English -- and suggested we get a receipt. It was $25 and we tipped $2 -- and asked for a receipt. Neither the driver nor the bellman at JWMarriott understood and so we got our bags and went to check in minus the receipt. It's 1:30 a.m. We are told "you are not supposed to check in until 3:00 p.m." and I said, 'Where do you want me to sleep tonight" and the deskclerk insisted i leave my credit card. Done. The next morning we began a horrible, irritating and unnecessarily bureaucratic discussion with ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN that we had nothing to do that day, no one picked us up and can ANYONE HELP US get situated.???? No. I called the Royal Caribbean executive offices -- it was a holiday so no one was there. I gave up Christmas Day on the advice of the booking agent that "Quito for two days is a must!!" before we cruised. I called the Emergency line and the only advice they gave me was "too bad you didn't have a receipt for the cab because without it, you won't get reimbursed. Which of course they explained they would Have done! At 7 p.m. on Friday night, the Celebrity supervisor finally talked to us and said they would cover the hotel room the night before; but because we DID NOT MIND THE ACTUAL TIME OF CHECK - IN (3 p.m. on December 26) we were BOTH AT FAULT. So no meals and without the cab receipt? No refund. I was actually so tired and disheartened that I had already given this cruiseline more than $28,000 for the two of us what the hell. They could take their $27 and you know what. We had a good day in Quito. The tour is lovely and the guides are great. We then traveled most of Sunday to get to Baltra to board the ship. NOTE: THIS IS A VERY SMALL SHIP AND IS NOT IN THE LUXURY CLASS OF SHIPS AT ALL. I have cruised almost every line -- and believe me, this was basically a nice small ship that served some good lobster. It was the Holidays but on New Year's Eve they had no party planning at all. All 98 passengers milled around after dinner on the 4th deck -- which was awful -- and had to ask for Champagne at midnight. This was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families -- great -- and all ages. It could have been an amazing trip if the cruise director had planned for it. Monica, the cruise director, listened to no one. Example: I asked her why there were no hats, noisemakers, confetti -- anything -- to celebrate at midnight and she said, "oh your expectations are too high You're thinking we are a Celebrity cruise -- and we are not!" EXACTLY. The excursions are varied for different levels of physicality -- but again, Monica did not describe them well at all. All she needed to do was show photos of the terrain so that we could understand the difference between difficult and easier. When you are not on an excursion, there is nothing to do. Staterooms are very very small -- all on 4th deck were like inside cabins but with a porthole. The suites are better -- 5th and 6th deck -- but with so few, you need to book two years in advance. I wish I had. You feel the ship swaying all the time and had to hang on to the railings to walk safely. Food was good to just OK except for the fresh lobster -- which is amazing. The Naturalists are terrific but you never interact with them except on your excursion. How about our Captain and his executive crew! We never saw him, he never talked to anyone (and I did talk to many passengers about this) at all. We "saw" him at the wrap up "celebration" the night before we disembarked. He and his team were absent and it was so strange that they didn't circulate at all. HERE'S SOMETHING TO NOTE AND BE PREPARED -- We had to be out of our cabins at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 but sat in that ship until 10:30 and then went to the airport where we sat until 6 or 7 p.m. while we waited for the charted plane bringing the new GALAPAGOS passengers to Baltra. The plane was very late; we were all very tired and cranky and those of us who were going to Lima did not get to our hotel until 10:30 p.m. An entire day was wasted traveling. They need two chartered planes -- and at the cost per person for this cruise they need to fix that. Now for the good part -- definitely do the MACHU PICCHU extension option as it was the best part of our trip. The hotels were magnificent -- The Country Club Hotel in Lima; the Monasterio in Coscuo, and the Santuary in Machu Picchu were just to die for. Food? the Best in the world! We loved every minute. The HIRAM BINGHAM (Orient Express) train to Machu Picchu is an experience not to miss. First class and luxury all the way. The guides were terrific and worked with us to make sure everyone was ok and able to continue climbing. We were not troubled by altitude sickness but if you are worried, just keep drinking bottled water and the cocao tea. This is the part of the journey that made up for the disappointing cruise experience. Without Machu Picchu, I would have graded the entire experience a "5 out of 10".   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
My wife and I just returned home from Ecuador, having spent seven most memorable nights on the Celebrity Xpedition. Our ten day package included two pre-cruise nights, and one post-cruise night at the JW Marriott in Quito. We had looked at ... Read More
My wife and I just returned home from Ecuador, having spent seven most memorable nights on the Celebrity Xpedition. Our ten day package included two pre-cruise nights, and one post-cruise night at the JW Marriott in Quito. We had looked at the larger vessels that operate in the Galapagos, and decided that the Xpedition is the only vessel for our cruise, mostly based on the positive reviews both on Cruise Critic, and on Trip Advisor. Fortunately for us, Suite 604 was available and we immediately booked it. We later upgraded to the PH Suite for a nominal supplement. In addition to the reviews posted on line, we also did our due diligence on the vessel itself. The Xpedition is probably the most modern vessel of this size operating in the Galapagos. Although it was not initially designed for Celebrity, this vessel has all the modern navigation equipment of a large vessel, its own sewage disposal system, own water treatment system, to name a few. The crew on board this vessel is mostly Ecuadorian, probably a requirement to operate in these waters. Starting from the Captain, down to the dining room and the state room attendants, their level of spoken English was quite good. A number of Naturalist guides were on board the vessel, and on shore excursions each fifteen guests were assigned a Naturalist Guide. For a vessel of this size, the 100 guests were treated to excellent food both from land and from the sea. All drinks and gratuities were included, although most guests rewarded those staff who they thought was most deserving a little extra. The Cruise Director, Monica was exceptional in keeping things operating like clock-work. She was at her desk at 7.00 a.m. and was in charge of every activity that relates to the guests. She must work long hours! The information sessions before dinner each night, signing up for different shore, beach, and excursions by the Zodiacs, were so well organized that each person was able to take part in one activity or another both morning, and afternoon, without having to stay on board due to physical limitations. Our fellow passengers, over eighty percent, were mostly seniors. This is our first cruise on a small vessel. In addition to the opportunity of witnessing one of the most pristine environments in the world, we were in the company of a great group of fellow passengers who were pleasure to be around. As a result of the open seating policy in the dining room, we were able to sit with mostly all the other passengers. We were mostly individual couples who had booked separately, and as a result most people mingled with others quite freely. We did not have any complaints about the food. Unlike the large cruise ships, almost everything is obtained from local suppliers. Sea food, which is plentiful, is fantastic. We did try lamb, and steak which were extremity good as well. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style, while dinner was more formal (not in terms of dress code). A great seafood barbecue was offered one afternoon with lobster tail, large prawns, steaks, sausages, chicken, and one could eat as much as one could handle. It will be a mistake to compare the dining experience on the Xpedition to that of a large cruise ship where a number of theme food stations are offered at the buffet style restaurants. We have cruised with Regent Seven Seas, and Holland America previously. One night, a number of us at our table asked our server if we could have Surf and Turf even though it was not on the menu for that evening. Without any hesitation, he made it happen, and I can tell you that the lobster tail was so large that it was a meal by itself. Dress code is casual, with resort casual at dinner time. There is no need to carry formal wear. The ship's laundry is reasonably priced when compared to prices at large hotels. We did use this service, and most others did as well. Swimming, and snorkelling opportunities are provided, as well as wet suits and snorkelling equipment. There is no need to carry your own equipment, unless you have to have your own. As far as the evening entertainment, one of the crew members (Jacob) provided our musical entertainment. One evening, one of the guests sang for us, and on another night some of us had a ball by singing Karaoke even though most of us were hardly equipped. It is amazing what a couple of cocktails does when one is at sea! Carlos the mixmaster did wonders to raise the "spirit" in most of us! A quick mention about the Zodiacs. There were times, when some passengers had difficulty getting on and off the Zodiacs. Both the Guides, and the ship's crew are good at helping each passenger. The "Dry Landings" are sometimes more challenging than the "Wet" ones! I doubt if anyone stayed aboard the ship even when a dry landing was involved. The Zodiac operators deserve a great deal of recognition, as they are extremely proficient in their work. Thank you all for a wonderful cruise, and we hope that future cruisers on the Xpedition will enjoy it as much as we did. This vessel is strongly recommended for the Galapagos. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
Others have done a _wonderful_ job of reviewing this cruise and their advice was very useful in letting us know what to expect. I'll just add things that either weren't mentioned or I would have preferred more emphasis on (or ... Read More
Others have done a _wonderful_ job of reviewing this cruise and their advice was very useful in letting us know what to expect. I'll just add things that either weren't mentioned or I would have preferred more emphasis on (or perhaps I just dismissed to quickly)... My wife and I sailed the "Outer Loop "B" cruise at the end of August 2014. It was our 4th cruise and was very different from any of the other "big box" cruises we'd done (Celebrity to Caribbean and Alaska, Royal Caribbean to Caribbean). We are both 50 and there were perhaps 5 other couples and a few singles traveling with their parents younger. Everyone else was older with an average age of late 60’s (?). But the average health/fitness was definitely better than other cruises we've been on (especially Alaska which had a lot of scooters). We did the "10-day package" with Celebrity. That means we flew into Quito, Ecuador with a few days cushion on either side of the cruise and the charter flight to Galapagos was included. It made the logistics a breeze and we’re VERY glad we went with that option. Remember the airport in Quito is an hour outside the main city so it’s not a small consideration to handle the transportation yourself – much less the flight to the islands. Celebrity has been doing this trip for 10 years and it shows in how smooth everything runs. The Marriott in Quito was very, very nice. Not “great” or “luxurious”, but would certainly fit in at any major city in the world - other than not being able to drink the water… ;) But seriously, it was really nice and Celebrity (and the hotel) are really, REALLY good about making sure you have plenty of bottled water. The breakfast buffets were very nice – I can’t really think of anything I could ask more for all things considered. BE SURE TO GET THE HOT CHOCOLATE AT BREAKFAST IN THE HOTEL! The evening dinners and lunch covered by Celebrity were also very nice. What you’d expect from a Celebrity trip. The hotel gym was quite acceptable – one of the nicer hotel gyms I've used. Though a decent workout for me was virtually impossible due to the altitude. I had a minor headache most of the time, and so did others. Not so bad it was worth taking meds to avoid…? Free wifi was available for two hours per day in the hotel lobby. If you have the juice, you get upgraded by Marriott and they have free wifi in the VIP suite on the 9th floor – along with free beer/wine/food. I’m not sure if you can pay for the upgrade, but I’m not sure it would be worth it for most people. You’re not really in the room that long anyway. The first day’s touring in Quito was a couple of churches and the Equatorial Monument. The churches were… well… fancy catholic churches. Unusual in that they were usually made of lava stone (!) but incredibly intricate and detailed/gold on the inside. Maybe a bigger deal if you’re Catholic… Worth paying the couple bucks to take pictures inside the first? I suppose. You’re there anyway… but I don’t think those are pictures I’m going to be showing off to friends from this trip… ;) Lunch was good but our “singer” was a young woman doing show tunes and opera. Too loud and too intimate to talk during the singing and, if you’re not into that music, might as well eat quickly and go outside. Or eat on the outdoor balcony and you’d probably feel more comfortable chatting. I’m confused why they don’t take this opportunity to highlight music of the region, but I’m not in charge (says my wife. Regularly). The food was nice. Knowledge that the Equatorial Monument/Site was not using the actual line really puts a damper on the whole thing. It would be a pretty cool location otherwise. You literally can’t get to the line from the site since it’s in a dry river bed that’s fenced off… But hey… you’re here anyway, so just go and check it out. Just driving around in the city can be educational, so “take it for what it’s worth”. The trip to the airport, handling the luggage, charter flight to Galapagos, all that. Super well handled by Celebrity. Your vacation really does start when they meet you in the airport the first night. On landing in Baltra, you’re pretty much hustled right through Customs and onto the ship. Remember, from this point forward, no point in trying to be “in the front of the line.” You’re all going to get “there” at the same time for the next week. So just relax and look for bottled water… ;) The crew on the ship deserve a big tip of the hat. Others have said it and I agree. They really do treat you on a personal/friendly level. Probably possible since the ship is so small, but don’t be surprised if the bartenders AND waiters figure out what you like to drink after a few days. And speaking of drinks, top notch with as much as you’d like. Drink specials for fun on some of the days, but they were extremely generous with the pours. Maybe being from Northern California, we are a bit spoiled with wine varieties and I wasn't a big fan of what they served – “drinkable” certainly, but no new favorites discovered. Celebrity makes a point of highlighting the rigorous requirements of this cruise, and the naturalists are very up front about what is required, but they still end up with people over-estimating their abilities and either having to turn back or really, REALLY slowing down the entire group. I kept trying to figure out a “fitness test” you might be able to use to give you (the Cruise Critic reader) an idea of what level is required. The best I can think of: if you can get into the back of a pickup and stand up in the bed without using your hands – or climb a 6 foot ladder with no hands, you’re going to be TOTALLY fine with doing the long hikes/walks everywhere. You can pretty much dismiss their warning when they describe the landings or walks as “strenuous”. If you need one hand to do either of those things, you’ll probably be OK, but might consider the shorter walks on the rough lava – especially the one(s) with slipper/mossy lava. If you NEED both hands to get into the truck bed or climb the ladder, you should probably do only the short walks. And if you can’t get into a truck bed by yourself and you can’t climb a ladder, this is probably not a cruise for you… ;) Because if you can’t get into and out of the zodiacs (they never called them “pangas” around us…?), and have balance issues, you’re not going to be able to make it on the excursions. AND IF YOU’RE NOT GOING ON THE EXCURSIONS, YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON THIS CRUISE. You should make a point to go on EVERY excursion! Many people skipped the final “deep water” snorkeling because we were told the water would be colder than the morning’s dive (which was 60 degrees) and you’d only see “more turtles”. It turned out to be warmer (almost irrelevant anyway), but there were literally SCORES of turtles. Truly the best dive of the trip and those that passed on it kicked themselves. Do EVERY excursion! Also, if you've not done any snorkeling, try to get some practice in before the trip. The “deep water” snorkeling was usually quite a bit better. By “deep” they mean 10’ to 30’, but there’s no place to stand up – so you go into and out of the water straight from the zodiacs. Also – the long walks did have viewings of different items (not always), but so long as you can handle it (see fitness issues above), there’s no reason you shouldn't go. They typically say one is 60 minutes and one is 90 minutes, but the pace is generally pretty slow and most of the time is spent watching/picture taking. None of them were a grueling death-march. And the more time you spend walking or snorkeling, the more likely you are to see “stuff”. As for pictures – we brought one “good” DSLR type camera and my wife used that on the excursions. 200 mm zoom seemed fine and I agree with other posters it would be tough to swap lenses while walking. She got an “over-the-shoulder” type sling which worked great. She transported the camera to shore in a neoprene cover inside a waterproof sack during the zodiac rides. Worked fine and there ARE occasional “rogue” waves that will drench you water. And I do mean _drench_ you, so consider carefully if you’re going to have your camera out in the open during the zodiac rides. I only saw a few of those drenchings, but if you go with a zip-lock bag, it better be zipped shut! I carried an iPhone while on the walks. Primarily in case something “bad” happened to the main camera or its memory cards (lost, failure, stolen, etc.) we’d have some pictures _AND_ the iPhone worked great to get short movies. I did a number of shots while walking through and over the animals and those really gave a great sense of what the experience was like. We got a little $6 waterproof bag/envelope for the phone on the zodiac rides. The gift shop on the ship had batteries and extra memory cards. You should probably plan on bringing in around 100 Gb range if you store shots in RAW format. We also had a GoPro. We got some great for shots with turtles, penguins, sea lions, iguanas, and cormorants. If you have access to one, bring it. The Outer Loop had a hand full of "wet landings", but they were all on sandy beaches. We bought the "water shoes" mentioned by everyone, but after the first landing (and checking with them), I just wore flip flops until it was time to jump into the water, then changed into hiking shoes on the beach. Those that wore the water shoes during the walks were probably wishing they didn't have shoes full of sand... I know I don't find the water shoes very comfortable for walking normally, much less after splashing through the sand. I could have saved the money on the water shoes... And speaking of shoes, if you’re in decent shape you really only need “good walking shoes”. “Hiking boots” are just not needed. There were several islands that included walking over very rough lava (ie, you had to watch EACH FOOT as you stepped and couldn't look up while walking). But those were the only times I saw the naturalists wearing anything other than crocs. ;) Our naturalist was actually barefoot on one of the other islands. So just a pair of good tennis shoes would probably be fine if you don’t already have low hiking shoes. Weather while there was in the low 70’s with humidity in the upper 50’s. Light breeze and partly cloudy. Perfect. Shorts on the islands would have worked fine the whole time. Speaking with the naturalists, April is their favorite time. Water is quite a bit warmer and there is a lot more “sexy sexy” time going on with the animals around then. The hot tub on the ship was really a “very warm” tub, but great after the couple of colder snorkeling trips. Other than that we didn't use it (nor did I see it in use, but it’s on the sixth deck so… not much up there anyways. THE GYM! I could find very little information on the gym. I would have taken a picture to post, but it doesn't need that much information. It’s the size of a small cabin with a treadmill, stair-stepper, and a stationary bike. There’s also a set of dumbbells that goes up to… wait for it… 12 whole pounds. Considering you’re spending your days doing (modest) hikes, the aerobic equipment seems redundant. And with nothing other than light dumbbells, the gym is completely useless. I imagine few of the passengers ever use a gym, but I do work out regularly and would have liked a LITTLE more so I could have done more than body weight exercises. Also – no place on the ship to even do pull ups… I looked all over and asked several crew members (apparently I was the first one to ask…). So do NOT plan to get any sort of working out done – other than walking and body weight type stuff. Deck 4 was “the place to be”. Any other deck and you’re going to be going up and down stairs a lot. The bar on deck 5 was not open once while we were there (though another passenger (Paul!) did succeed in magically calling waiters up to us). One of the crew said they’d never seen the deck 5 bar in use, so don’t plan on getting a room on 5 thinking you’re going to hang out there. Actually decks 5 and 6 had seating areas you could hang out on in peace. Unfortunately the ship is too bright to see much in the way of stars… : ( We did the bridge tour. Can't do it until the third day of the cruise, but worth the 20 or 30 minutes as you learn a lot about the ship and specifics to sailing in these islands. Ask shortly after going on board to get a spot early on. People keep mentioning the anchor dropping - I'm pretty sure you hear it on the ENTIRE ship, so don't avoid a room towards the bow just because of that. BTW, they deliberately avoid dropping anchor before 7:00 am on purpose. You're probably going to want to get up then anyway. And yes, the boat does rock. I didn't hear of anyone getting sick from it, but I did notice a few passengers with patches and bands. If you're prone to sea sickness, bring the appropriate drugs/straps, but it's not so excessive as to be annoying. There was a single under 18 year old on the cruise. She was an exceptionally well-behaved young lady traveling with both parents, but she didn't have any "non-adult" company. Be sure that's OK if you're bringing someone younger with you. Most passengers definitely took advantage of the "all-inclusive" alcohol. While almost everyone was drinking, almost everyone is conscious of the early morning required tomorrow and didn't get too wild. Most were in bed by 10 pm so I never noticed anyone getting out of hand. I brought a couple books with me (I’m an avid reader). I read exactly ZERO books while on the trip. So take even fewer books than you were planning. Maybe one, just in case or for the plane ride? The schedule revolves around eating, getting ready for/doing excursions, more eating and perhaps socializing after dinner. There really wasn't much in the way of down time unless you deliberately chose to hang in your cabin. Or sneak in a nap after lunch. Room on deck 4 was very nice. Not quite as large as those we've had on the "big ships", but perfectly acceptable. The bathroom and shower did seem a little smaller (and the room's ceiling was a bit lower?), but otherwise fine. One item to note: the bathroom floor is raised about 8 inches which means anyone over 6'4" is going to be bending over a bit in the shower. I'm 6' but didn't have any problems with the height. When leaving Galapagos, at the airport, we had about 2 hours of waiting time. There were a number of shops inside the airport before the security check-in. A few higher end with Panama hats, chocolate, etc. But they also had a number (dozen or so?) that were just like the shops we’d seen on Santa Cruz Island. And pretty much exactly the same stuff for the same prices. So you will have PLENTY of time to get shirts, etc. there if you want. Otherwise it was the longest/boringest downtime in the trip. A note on the shopping on Santa Cruz Island (for the “Outer Loop” trip). That did seem to be the only place to buy decent jewelry without spending a crazy amount of money. The t-shirts, bags, etc. were almost ALL the same and the same price everywhere – including the airport. Don’t really need to bother going in all the shops. Really, you don’t need to bother. Spend the time just wandering around a bit instead. Don’t miss the open air “fish market” with the resident sea lions. On the return day (Sunday) after we got back to Quito, they took us to a “cheap” market area for 30 minutes (on Washington near Amazon Ave). There were dozens of tiny stalls – almost all selling the same thing (shirts, scarves, blankets, hats, etc). All were about the same price and the quality was pretty good considering the prices. Though do pay attention to the t-shirt quality, not all were the same. Shirts here were almost exactly the same as we’d seen elsewhere, but only $5 to $6 – instead of $15 to $18 on Santa Cruz and the airport. If you want to get a lot of shirts (even ones that say “Galapagos” on them), this is the place. Panama hats were $15 to $18. 30 minutes wasn’t long enough and we ended up walking back the next day. Staying on the main roads and it was perfectly safe during the day. Just be careful crossing the streets as pedestrians do NOT get much respect… ;) Later we were then taken to a “fancy” shop for about 30 minutes. VERY nice stuff, but pretty darned expensive to. If it’s in your budget, you’ll probably want something out of here. Celebrity handled dinner Sunday night. We were told no alcohol is sold ANYWHERE in Ecuador on Sundays, but other tables eating a little later than us DID get wine… be sure to ask about that. On the last day we paid $45 for a late 6 pm checkout which meant we had a 2 hour wait in the lobby for our bus. 2 hours in the lobby was fine. They do have some limited shopping options in the hotel, but I’d recommend doing the airport (unless you need to get some jewelry). The late check-out was WELL worth it since we were able to relax that day. We walked the city back to the market, got some food, worked out, swam a bit, napped, showered, and prepped for a long night of traveling. Of the many people I've spoken to that have done a lot of traveling, this trip ranks right up there as a tie/second place with an African safari. Nothing else tops it and the Celebrity option turned out to be great. Worth the money? I’d say it’s priced about right.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
We decided to do Celebrity's 13-day package. It starts with two nights in Quito, moves to seven nights on the Xpedition, then continues with one night in Lima, three nights in Cusco, and a last night in Lima. We wanted to make the ... Read More
We decided to do Celebrity's 13-day package. It starts with two nights in Quito, moves to seven nights on the Xpedition, then continues with one night in Lima, three nights in Cusco, and a last night in Lima. We wanted to make the trip as worry-free as possible -- and that's exactly what we got. We are in our late 60s and this was our 20th cruise. The other 19 are not the same as this! Picture a ship with no elevators (although only four decks to traverse). Picture you, exploring on walks and panga rides that are truly unique. Different! Wonderful! Our flight into Quito arrived about 6:30 on Friday night, an ideal time if you can manage it. After that, we were totally taken care of, except for dinner that night. Excellent tour guides, great hotels, outstanding meals in the hotels and included restaurants, and the seven-day Xpedition adventure of a lifetime. The ship is small and not luxurious -- but much nicer than I expected. The food was going to be mediocre but often it was much better than that. The service for the most part was lovely. Six of the seven naturalists were excellent. The cruise director is a past naturalist and does a very accurate job of describing the next day's activities. Even after you make your choice, go to her with any question and she can help you with answering any questions or concerns. Most of the excursions (two per day, plus an extra one for deep-water snorkeling on one or two occasions) started with a sea lion welcome as we disembarked from our pangas and a welcome back to the ship with a cold washcloth. We joked that the sea lion would be rewarded later with a treat from the naturalists, but really they just happen to be -- all over! We saw wildlife and scenery galore. I mean, galore. Even though we had really high expectations, there are no guarantees -- and our expectations were met and exceeded. How about when one of us used the video feature on our camera for the first time -- to get a two-minute clip of two blue-footed boobies doing their mating dance! To be so fortunate to see that -- beyond our expectations. We learned about the history. We enjoyed the hot tub and one of us enjoyed the treadmill. We attended the various early afternoon enrichment while the Xpedition repositioned to the next anchor spot. There are two itineraries, which alternated, inner loop one week, outer loop the next. We took the inner loop and were extremely fortunate with good weather. We hope to be able to do the outer loop in a few years if we stay healthy enough. I might even try harder to learn, in advance, how to enjoy snorkeling. Quito was all extremely well done, and Peru (Lima, Cusco, Hiram Bingham train and Machu Picchu) was the most outstanding land tour a person could want. Five star hotels, lovely meals, wonderful tour director and guides, and the incredible Machu Picchu all added up to an all-inclusive, worry free trip. Pampered is the best way to describe how we felt for this entire 13-day journey, but especially the Peru portion. The only minor "flaws" are the challenges of the altitude and the mildly rough seas, and the sudden realization that I had not taken full advantage of my very few shopping opportunities. But the memories we brought home -- priceless.   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
What you have read in other reviews is quite accurate. Here is my perspective: Celebrity planning - everything works like clockwork. Every detail is covered. Highly efficient and professional. You get what you pay for. When we arrived at ... Read More
What you have read in other reviews is quite accurate. Here is my perspective: Celebrity planning - everything works like clockwork. Every detail is covered. Highly efficient and professional. You get what you pay for. When we arrived at the Quito airport, we were NOT met by Celebrity staff. After waiting 20 minutes and looking around the airport for our greeting party, we went to the airport information desk for help. The CSR called the Marriott and was told someone would pick us up in an hour and one-half. Bummer, first glitch in the system. BUT, 10 minutes later two reps from Celebrity found us, apologized that they did not have our flight arrival information and provided us with a pre-paid taxi to the hotel...which is an hour away through heavy traffic. PROBLEM RESOLVED and better than the bus ride! Celebrity is forgiven. When we arrived at the hotel, we were warmly greeted by Celebrity reps and provided a drink, a wash cloth for our face and our room keys. Nice hotel, nice room but odd no facial tissues provided. Great gym and pool and buffet breakfast at the hotel is wonderful. In my opinion, 5 star. If you are a Marriott rewards member, don't forget to give your rewards number to the front desk staff so that you get credit for your stay. Saturday Quito tour with guide (accompanied by security guard on each bus!) was very nice. Guide was well informed and the restaurants we went to for lunch and later dinner were great. Some people had problems with Quito's elevation. If you are not accustomed to 9,000 feet of elevation, talk to your doctor about what you need to prepare. Saturday night - your bags must be packed and delivered to the Celebrity desk by 9:00 p.m.. Your luggage can weigh up to 44 pounds rather than what we read before - 40 pounds (there is a scale at the bag check room). Remove all "sharp" items from your carry-on, including small cuticle scissors. If they are not in your packed bag they will be seized by airport security. If you have items that you don't want to take to the ship, you can leave them at the hotel and pick them up when you return the next week. However, keep in mind, if you leave your bag, you have to come back to get it which proved to be inconvenient for one couple with a late Sunday night flight. On a side-note, you'll find that you wear the same clothes multiple times. I over-packed t-shirts as I typically wore a long sleeve UPF50 fishing shirt that I could unbutton when hiking for ventilation. Most passengers were over 60 and didn't care what you or they wore and if you wore the same outfit more than once. Sunday AM pick up tickets for the flight to Baltra. Highly efficient staff had everything ready. Although some information on the Celebrity pre-printed custom forms was inaccurate (my birth-date and passport number), CSR advised not making any hand written changes on the form as this will delay processing at the airport. Customs agent didn't notice and/or care about the discrepancy and we had no problems making it through. Waited in the VIP lounge until ready to board. Uneventful. Arrived in Baltra, made it through customs without any problems and boarded buses for the short ride to the Zodiacs for the short trip to the ship. The "welcome wagon" was waiting for us the minute we boarded the Xpedition. Smiling faces ready to help us with our every need. We had cabin 410..perfect. Our travel agent recommended this cabin because it is "dead-center" in the ship and on the floor where you exit the ship for excursions. The cabin was comfortable and functional and the bed comfortable. The ship DOES rock and roll from the waves, obviously the higher up, the more rock and roll. Many people were challenged with motion sickness! (even though I didn't get motion sickness, after 4 days being off the ship, I still have sea legs and some vertigo!) There is plenty of space beneath the bed to store your luggage. Our cabin attendant (Veronica) spent more time in the cabin than we did. It seemed like every time we stepped out, she stepped in to clean. Even though the trip was all inclusive, we did leave Veronica a $20 tip. BITI, the Cruise Director was phenomenal, Carlos the Food and Beverage manager was great, the guides were outstanding, and the list goes on and on. Every staff member went out of their way to ensure that we had a great time. No one disappointed. I'm a picky eater and I always found something good to eat at every meal. We became friends with another couple on the ship and they needed their food specially prepared, and the staff did so with a smile. I ate a lot of the beef and contrary to other comments I read, the beef was very good and tasted like what I eat in the states. if you are celebrating a birthday or other special event, tell the staff and they will provide a special cake (as if you'll need another dessert), but it was a nice touch for one couple at our table. Drinks were readily available, both alcoholic and not. I don't drink alcohol, but my wife does and said the drinks were good and the wine very good. FYI - Most people didn't attend the evening entertainment, which was ok at best. The crew tried really hard to please everyone, so we went to the nightly shows for a short time just to show our appreciation for the crew's effort. However, Karaoke night was fun. The more alcohol the better the singing. Star gazing on the top deck was quiet and nice, especially for the eclipse. Very few people spent time on the 6th deck, so we typically had it to ourselves. During the entire trip, only a few used the hot tub. The gym has 3 pieces of cardio - a bike, elliptical trainer and treadmill. All worked well and the room is well air conditioned. If you are over 5'10", you might have a hard time using anything but the bike, as your head will hit the low ceiling. The evening excursion briefings were informative and accurately described the events for the next day. Biti did a great job and although everyone rushes up to sign the roster for the next day's excursions, you don't have to rush as there is plenty of room for everyone. We always took the long walks and all snorkeling adventures. Prepare yourself, they can be hot!!! Drink a lot of water, take plenty of water with you and GOOD sun protection. On a couple of islands, the horse flies and mosquitoes were bad, but nothing that a little repellant wouldn't cure. A couple of people suffered from heat exhaustion, usually the elderly and unfit. Take it slow and hydrate! Never were we disappointed in our excursions! They were the highlight of the trip. We always took the long hike and did all snorkeling (we didn't go that far and pay that much not to take advantage of everything offered.) The wildlife viewing was phenomenal, the geology interesting, vegetation prickly, and the guides always well informed. If you can help it, don't miss any outing. The snorkeling was fun and a lot of interesting creatures were visible...rays, sharks, turtles, sea lions, etc. We took a 220/110 power adapter so that I could charge my camera batteries, otherwise there are minimal outlets in the room. Depending on your needs, a power strip might come in handy but might take up too much room and baggage weight. If you want your shoes and clothing to dry, go up to the 6th deck and lay your clothes out in the sun! Otherwise, they won't. Don't waste your time bringing your own clothesline. If you are glued to your mobile device (which I didn't use), I heard due to the number of people online at the same time, bandwidth is taxed. Using the internet early in the am (prior to 6:30) seemed to work better for those who needed it. We didn't use the service of the massage therapist, but I heard she was good. She did lead the 6:45 am exercise class and knew her stuff. This was probably the best trip of our life! However, even though I was very careful selecting what I ate and drank, I got sick Friday night with some sort of GI ailment and had a fever, body aches, diarrhea (sounds like the 10 plagues), etc. I and about 20 other people got sick during the week. I tried to go on the trip to the Darwin center, got there and didn't have the strength to make it around and back to the dock. The guides got me a taxi to the dock and then had a Zodiac pick me up and take me to the ship. The doctor on board was waiting for me as I got off the Zodiac, treated me and gave me medication. (No charge for anything.) Early in the week when the ship staff learned people had a GI problem, they went into action by serving each guest at the buffet rather than allowing people to serve themselves and enforcing the hand sanitizer. Take Imodium, Cipro, etc. with you just in case. On Saturday night after the final staff good-byes and slide presentation, it seemed as if some of the ship staff were detached and were thinking about the next group of people coming on-board the next day rather than attending to the existing guests. Nothing to complain about, but a number of us noticed a slight change in demeanor. All bags have to be packed and ready to go Saturday night for staff to pick up from the hallway for Sunday's departure. Remember, no sharp items in your carry-on. Staff is already cleaning the ship by 8:00 a.m. Sunday in preparation for the next boat-load of guests to arrive. We hadn't vacated the room and Veronica had already made her first appearance to clean. We boarded the Zodiacs, caught the bus to the airport, and then wandered through the shops at the airport, passed through customs, waited in the VIP lounge and then caught the flight to Quito. Everything was uneventful and operated like clock-work. Arrived in Quito, made it through immigration and customs, caught the bus to the Marriott and for those interested, another shopping excursion was available that evening. Dinner was provided in the hotel (had the food been even luke-warm, it would have been good, but it was cold. But, we were too tired to complain and had an early flight and just wanted to go to bed.) Monday breakfast was available at 5:00, bus ride to the airport at 5:30, no issues in immigration and customs, and flew to Miami then home. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being excellent, I would give this trip an 11! Celebrity staff were outstanding and the trip exceeded our expectations. Enjoy! G Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
This is not what I would describe as a leisurely pleasure cruise. There is no showroom or casino on the ship, very little entertainment & no pool. This is for those interested in close up encounters with an amazing variety of animals ... Read More
This is not what I would describe as a leisurely pleasure cruise. There is no showroom or casino on the ship, very little entertainment & no pool. This is for those interested in close up encounters with an amazing variety of animals on land, in the sea & in the air that have no fear of humans. Many of these creatures will come within a few feet of you or swim right by you. Many are found nowhere else & some were almost driven to extinction by visitors many years ago. I had been to the Galapagos Islands once before. My wife & I went there in May 2011 & I loved it so much that I wanted to return. When we were planning that trip we were considering the Lindblad / National Geographic Endeavour, we assumed they would have the best naturalists for this once in a lifetime trip. Our travel agent suggested we look at Celebrity Xpedition. When we did the comparison, the ships & itineraries were similar, but Celebrity Xpedition was much less expensive & all inclusive. We select the Celebrity trip. We were later told by one of the naturalists on the Celebrity Xpedition that all naturalists in the Galapagos are trained & certified by the Galapagos National Park Service. It is possible that the larger ships can attract the more sought after naturalists, but both the Endeavour & the Xpedition carry the same number of passengers & all of the naturalists we encountered on the Xpedition were excellent. My wife really enjoyed the trip, but had a problem with the heat & humidity of the Galapagos Islands in May. First, a little about me: I am a 70 year old male in good health. That’s enough about me. The remainder of this report is about my Galapagos trip that started on April 4, 2014. This time I was joined by my adult son, David. The same as last time, I chose the 10 night package which included 7 nights on the ship plus 2 nights in Quito prior & 1 night after the voyage. I felt this gave us time to adjust to the time zone, recover from the long flights & get to see a little of Quito. Celebrity offers 2 itineraries in the Galapagos Islands. On my previous trip there Celebrity only offered one itinerary. Sometime within the intervening 3 years the Galapagos National Park decided that some of the islands were getting too much traffic while others saw little. As it was explained to me, in an attempt to even out they traffic to the various islands they now require that no ship can visit the same island within 10 days. This required an itinerary A & B (now called inner & outer loops). I chose itinerary A (outer loop). I flew from Newark, NJ & David flew from Denver, CO. We met in Houston, TX & took the 5 hour 20 minute flight to Quito, Ecuador; arriving at about 11 PM local time. Getting our luggage & going through customs & immigration was fast & easy. As promised, Celebrity personnel were at the airport to greet us. Along with 12 others arriving on the same flight, a bus carried us & our luggage to the J.W. Marriott in Quito. The new airport is about 1 hour bus ride from the hotel. Note: Quito is at 9,350 feet above sea level & is it is the highest official capital city in the world. Tour Day 1 - Friday We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights. The J.W. Marriot Quito hotel is the same hotel that Celebrity used three years ago & is first class. As we entered the hotel lobby, Celebrity had a desk where they issued us our room keys, ship luggage tags & itinerary for the following day. Our luggage was brought to our room shortly after we went in & looked around. The hotel has large rooms, an outdoor heated pool, free fitness center & a free hot buffet breakfast from 6 to 9 AM daily. Omelets to order are included. The security system includes a card that unlocks your hotel room lock by placing it near the reader device on the door. The elevator will only go to the lobby & spa floors without using your card. The elevator will also stop at your assigned floor if you use your card. There was a charge for multi-device internet access from our room. Probably because of my previous stay at this hotel, I qualified for the VIP Lounge on the top floor where they had free snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi all day & some hot items at dinner time. It also had a balcony with a nice view of the surrounding area. Tour Day 2 - Saturday After an included hot buffet breakfast in the hotel, 4 air-conditioned busses picked us up at the hotel at about 9 AM for a guided tour of Quito. The busses always have an ample supply of cold bottled water. A local Celebrity guide was assigned to each bus. A security guard carrying a baton is also assigned to each bus. They assist by stopping traffic when the group crosses a street & discourage any locals who might want to prey on tourists. While it may have been overkill to have security guards on this tour, it shows that Celebrity was super conscious about providing first class service & safety. A nice lunch was provided at a local restaurant (Sucre’s Theatrum). After lunch the tour visited the “Half of the World Park” which lies on the Equator; 15 km north of Quito. Celebrity provided the entrance passes. Note: the restrooms at the park are free, but don’t have toilet paper. That can be purchased from a small vending machine outside the restrooms for 10 centavos. Celebrity seems to have thought of everything & had a roll of toilet paper near the front of the bus. We enjoyed the tour which lasted about 7 hours & returned us to the hotel at about 4 PM. At about 6 PM the busses took us to a local restaurant (La Gloria) for an included dinner which was very enjoyable. Again the busses had a local Celebrity guide. Our security guards were visible outside the restaurant. Since we arrived in Quito so late, the lunch & dinner provided opportunities to meet some of the other group members. The busses returned us to the hotel after a leisurely, enjoyable dinner. Checked luggage with the ship luggage tags needed to be brought down to the hotel lobby at night. The Celebrity staff sealed each suitcase with a plastic tie. During the night, Ecuador inspectors were able to randomly open the luggage to make sure it didn’t contain any food, plants, etc. that aren’t native to the Galapagos. If a bag was opened for inspection, the Celebrity staff re-sealed it. Tour Day 3 - Sunday After an included hot breakfast, we boarded the busses at about 7:30 AM for the 1 hour trip to the airport. Our checked luggage was transported separately & we didn’t see them again until they were delivered to our stateroom on the ship. Celebrity provides access to the airport VIP lounge at the airport until boarding the plane at about 9:30 AM. Another nice thing about the Celebrity package is they provide a charter flight directly from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos. Most passengers going from Quito to Baltra first fly to Guayaquil on a commercial aircraft & then fly from there to Quito. I decided to pay an extra $99 per person each way to upgrade to first class in order to make sure neither of us ended up in a middle seat during the 2 hour flight. This was probably overkill, but I wanted to make sure we stated the cruise in the best possible frame of mind. When we arrived at Baltra airport, the authorities efficiently checked our documents & inspected our carry-on bags. Celebrity includes the $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee & the INGALA Tourist Card fee. Next we boarded a bus for the short ride to the dock where we boarded Zodiaks (small, stable inflated craft with outboard motor) for the 10 minute ride to the ship. We were in Premium Cabin Category XP Stateroom #414 on deck 4. The Celebrity Xpedition is a small ship holding a maximum of 98 passengers. Galapagos National Park rules limit ships to a maximum of 100 passengers. Every ship must include at least 1 certified naturalist/guide with a maximum of 16 passengers per naturalist/guide. By limiting the number of certified naturalist/guides, the National Park limits the number of visitors & ships at any one time. Celebrity Xpedition has 7 naturalist/guides on board that accompany groups of up to 16 passengers on all excursions. Internet access was available free in the lounge. Celebrity Xpedition has staterooms on decks 3 & 4 with suites on decks 5 &6. While our stateroom category was “Premium”, it was about 160 square feet. Deck 4 has 19 cabins & also housed the small library, lounge (with open bar), Guest Relations & the outdoor Beagle Grill (BBQ available for lunch). Deck 4 aft (rear) is also the place you gather prior to boarding the Zodiacs for every excursion. Deck 3 has 18 cabins, Darwin’s Dining Room (the only dining room on the ship. It has tables for all guests in a single seating), a small gift shop & the Beach Club (aft) where snorkeling gear is stored & where the Zodiaks arrive & leave the ship. Deck 5 has 8 suites. Deck 6 has 3 suites, a small exercise room & sauna. Outdoors there is a hot tub. Messages (fee) could be scheduled on this deck. David had one which helped reduce his arm pain. Staterooms have a Cooling Box, not a true refrigerator. It is stocked with complimentary sodas & bottled water. Our stateroom didn’t have a clock but other passengers told me that theirs did. I brought a travel alarm so it wasn’t a problem. I am sure that Guest Relations would have supplied one if I asked. We had a phone with automated wake-up call capability. There was a TV, hair dryer, desk & small couch. The queen bed was convertible to 2 twin beds. Each stateroom has a pair of binoculars (for use while on the cruise) & a plastic sheet with color drawings & names of Galapagos marine life (to keep). While almost everything is included in the upfront price (including gratuities), you may want to buy something at the gift shop, have a massage, etc. All purchases are charged to your stateroom to be settled on the last night of the cruise. Major credit cards & cash are accepted. We found a Bottle of champagne in our stateroom for previously taken a Celebrity cruise (Captain’s Club). Towels were changed up to 3 times per day due to showering after morning & afternoon excursions. There was no smoking except for designated outdoor areas on certain decks. The ship has no formal nights; dress is always casual for dinner & beach attire is fine for breakfast & lunch. I signed up for a free tour of the Captain’s Bridge which was conducted by the ship’s Navigator. It was very interesting & I recommend it to anyone interested in how the ship works, navigates & communicates. While you aren’t in the middle of the ocean, the small ship can cause nausea, especially when it is anchored. There are almost no docks on any of the islands we visited so the ship anchors off shore & Zodiaks are used to transport passengers to & from the islands. Several of the passengers were wearing sea-sickness patches & some wore wrist bands. I wore SEA-BANDs & they seemed to help. David used the patches & they worked very well. Breakfast & lunch buffets are good. There was a BBQ lunch available most days in addition to the buffet. Dinners included a choice of appetizers, salads, soups (usually 2), 8 or more entrees & deserts. The left side of the menu was constant throughout the cruise while the right side changed nightly. On some nights when I wanted a light meal I ordered just a hot soup & salad, no entree, & then I ordered seconds of both. From early morning to late night there is a free open bar with some fresh fruit & cookies. There is free bottled water at the bar all day & night plus on the rear of deck 3 before & after every excursion. Life jackets must be worn by all while on the Zodiaks. When you return from an excursion, the ship’s staff collects your life jacket (& a bag containing your gear after snorkeling), offers you a cold, wet wash cloth as well as a cold non-alcoholic drink. The only negative I had with the entire trip was a problem with our cabin’s temperature; the lowest it went was 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I like the room cool, especially when sleeping. I asked for it to be made cooler & they sent an electrician who confirmed that the thermostat in the room was working properly. I then asked for an engineer to look at it. He changed something in the ceiling vent that would improve air flow. That change resulted in the cabin temperature getting down to 71 degrees F. The staff also delivered a double headed fan. The repairs plus the fan made the cabin much better for sleeping. Some other passengers on various decks also complained about their cabin temperatures while others were happy with their cabin’s temperatures; some could get their cabin down to 69 degrees F. Each night on the ship the room attendant would leave a 1 page agenda containing the following day’s activities. Each night the Cruise Director would present a slide show & discussion of the following day’s excursions. At the end of her presentation she answered any of the passenger’s questions. Tour Day 4 - Monday This was the first day of excursions. The day started with early coffee & croissants from 6:15 to 8 AM. At 6:45 there was stretching offered on deck 5. The hot buffet breakfast was offered from 7 to 9 AM. At 8:30 AM those interested in the morning excursion congregated to board the Zodiaks for a Beach Walk & Swim or Snorkel in Gardner Bay on Espanola Island. I found this interesting & the swim was refreshing. We returned to the ship at about 11 AM. As I noted earlier, all excursions are conducted by certified guides/naturalists, no more than 16 passengers per guide. They organized this by allowing no more than 16 passengers per Zodiak plus a guide/naturalist and the driver. As soon as a Zodiak is filled, it departs & the next one pulls up ready for loading. When passengers exit the Zodiak on the island, it returns to the ship until all of the passenger that wanted to go on that excursion have been accommodated. The guides/naturalists have radios to signal the Zodiaks when to return to the island for the return trip. If there is swimming or snorkeling involved in the excursion, one or more Zodiaks stay near the swimmers in case they needed any assistance. Most landings on the islands were “wet landings”. That meant that you got off of the Zodiak into shallow water. I wore water shoes when going into the Zodiaks for a wet landing. If we were then going on a walk I would dry my feet & put on socks & sneakers before continuing. I would reverse this process for the return trip. Your stateroom attendant makes sure there are always dry beach towels in your stateroom for your use. The ship has walking sticks, masks, snorkels, floatation vests, fins & wet suits that you can borrow for free for the entire cruise. After the buffet lunch & BBQ from noon to 1:30 PM, we embarked on the afternoon excursions on Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. Here there were 2 options with dry landings; a “short walk” & a “long walk”. Both were about 2 hours long & could more accurately be called “rocky with some sandy areas” versus “very rocky hike”. The “long walk” departed the ship at 3:30 PM with the “short walk” departing at 4 PM. Everyone was back on board by 6 PM. David & I chose the “long walk”. Each passenger is asked to sign up for their preferred excursions the previous night. The Cruise Director was very flexible with last minute changes or groups that wanted to stay together. The guides/naturalists never rushed us & let each passenger walk at hers/his own pace. They provided interesting facts about what we were seeing & answered all questions. Their English was very good & understandable. At 6:30 PM there was a cocktail party followed by a briefing on the next day’s activities. Dinner was served at 7:30 PM followed by live music starting at 9:30 PM. The music was provided by a very talented keyboardist who also played in the afternoons when we returned from excursions. All activities on the ship were optional. If you wanted you could stay on the ship & not participate in any excursions, but you probably should not take this cruise for the excursions ARE the reason for this cruise. Tour Day 5 - Tuesday Each day started out the same with breakfast & stretching. Each evening ended the same with a briefing & dinner. I will only mention the unique events each day. The excursion choices in the morning were a “long easy walk with optional beach snorkeling” or a “short easy walk with optional beach snorkeling” at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island. Both required a wet landing & started at 8 AM & 8:30 AM respectively. There was also an option for “advanced snorkel activity” instead of the beach snorkeling. This was intended for experienced snorkelers & involved snorkeling from a Zodiak in deeper water. You could always raise your hand above your head while snorkeling & a nearby Zodiak would pick you up. You could also wear a floatation vest. Fins were recommended. After an Italian buffet lunch plus paninis & hamburgers there was a viewing of part 1 of a BBC film about the Galapagos. At 3:30 PM there was a visit to the “Post Office” & a Zodiak ride along the shore line. The “Post Office” is a barrel set up many years ago by sailors who would drop off their outgoing mail without postage to anywhere & go through the accumulated mail looking for items that they could deliver. This process continues to this day. Several people in our group found mail addressed to areas near their home town & took them for delivery. At 6:30 PM there was a Wine & Cheese Tasting. After the nightly briefing & dinner there was an Ecuadorian Naturalist Party with music & dance provided by the guides/naturalists. Tour Day 6 - Wednesday This morning’s excursion options were “long walk & short Zodiak ride” for 2.5 hours & an “extended Zodiak ride & optional short walk” for 1.5 hours on Punta Morena on Isabela Island. After a BBQ lunch there was a lecture on the geology of the Galapagos Islands. This was followed by the afternoon excursion options of “long fast walk & optional snorkeling” for 2.5 hours and “short walk & optional snorkeling” for 2 hours. David took the fast walk & I took the short walk. Afterwards, David told me the “fast” walk wasn’t fast. A cocktail party & briefing preceded dinner which was followed by a passenger & staff talent show. Tour Day 7 - Thursday The morning excursions options were “long walk” at 8 AM for 2.5 hours or “short walk” at 8:30 AM for 1 hour on Espinoza Point on Fernandina Island. At 10:45 AM there was a “deep water snorkel” along the coast. After a Mexican buffet & hamburgers there was a viewing of part 2 of a BBC film about the Galapagos. At 3 PM there was another “deep water snorkeling”. At 4:15 & 5:30 there were Zodiak rides exploring the cliffs & coastline for 1 hour each. Before dinner there was a cocktail party & a crossword challenge. After dinner there was a “Crossing the Line” party celebrating the ship’s crossing the Equator twice. Tour Day 8 – Friday After breakfast there were 2 excursion options: “short walk” of about 1.5 hours or “long walk” of 2 hours on South Plaza Island, both with dry landings. After a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs & a small hot buffet, the guides/naturalists gave a presentation about their lives in the Galapagos Islands. Afterwards there were 2 excursion options: “short walk” of about 1.5 hours or “long walk” of 2 hours on Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island. A margarita party, trivia game & daily briefing preceded dinner followed by Karaoke. Tour Day 9 – Saturday The morning excursion was a dry landing & walk to the Charles Darwin Station & Giant Tortoise Breeding Center & optional shopping. After an Ecuadorian buffet lunch plus paninis & hamburgers, the excursion was to the highlands to see giant tortoises in the wild & optional shopping. Before dinner the Cruise Director gave a slide show of the best pictures taken by the guides/naturalists on this trip followed by a cocktail party. Dinner was followed by live music. Secret: Each passenger was given a copy of the pictures taken by the guides/naturalists. Tour Day 11 - Sunday We left the ship in Baltra & flew to Quito with busses taking us back to the J.W. Marriott. Later, busses took us to a giant outdoor market & a high end store. After returning to the hotel we had an included dinner in the steak house. I requested & was given a very late checkout for the last day at the hotel. Tour Day 12 – Monday – Going Home We started with an included hot buffet breakfast. Since we had a lot of time before our flight home, I used the free fitness center & David had a massage (fee). Celebrity schedule busses to take us to the Quito airport based on your departure time. Some passengers were continuing on to Machu Picchu & 1 couple was headed for Costa Rica. At the appointed time about 12 of us boarded our bus. Our luggage was loaded in the compartments in the lower section of the bus. At Quito airport the Celebrity representatives guided us to our airline’s check-in. David & I flew to Houston where we boarded our individual flights home. A few days later David called me to say what a wonderful trip it was & that everyone interested in wildlife should take this trip at least once. I was lucky enough to take it twice. Overall I can’t remember everything I saw on each excursion, but it was truly wonderful, including many sea lions & pups, blue footed boobies, albatross, giant tortoises, marine & land iguanas, a hybrid iguana, warm weather penguins, lava lizards, hawks, various finches, petrels, green sea turtles, Nazca boobies, gulls, Sally Lightfoot crabs, pelicans, flamingos, tropical fish & many more. On one deep water snorkeling excursion I was taking underwater video of giant green sea turtles as they leisurely fed on algae on the rocky bottom. Suddenly a penguin rapidly swam by. I did my best to follow it with the camera. Later, I was taking a video of a swarm of small fish when a sea lion swam through. It wasn’t until that night while I was reviewing my day’s pictures & videos that I saw I actually got good video of the events. On another occasion I was taking a video of a sea lion pup as it was looking for its mother on a beach when I got a great video of a blue footed boobie diving into the water head first with wings tucked back to catch a fish. I ended up with over 1400 pictures & many videos to review over the coming weeks. At the end of the cruise there was a list where passengers could sign up with their names & email addresses to facilitate picture sharing & to maintain contact after the trip. One nice lady shared a picture she took of David & me on the ship.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
The Celebrity Xpedition is an excellent choice for a cruise in the Galapagos Islands. The ship was built in Germany in 2001 and has been sailing in the Galapagos Islands for 10 years. They know what they are doing. We started in Quito. We ... Read More
The Celebrity Xpedition is an excellent choice for a cruise in the Galapagos Islands. The ship was built in Germany in 2001 and has been sailing in the Galapagos Islands for 10 years. They know what they are doing. We started in Quito. We were met at the airport and transferred to the JW Marriott Hotel. The Hotel was very good. The next day we had a tour of the city and a trip to the equator. The lunch was excellent. We had dinner at Carmine Restaurant. The dinner was outstanding. The next day we took the Celebrity Charter flight on AeroGal to Baltra. All the transfers were handled efficiently. We were transferred to the ship by Zodiacs. My only complaint about the ship is that the beds are small. One bed is attached to the wall. You can have the beds placed together but then you have only one side to exit the bed. This is not good in the middle of the night. The shower is very good. The food was good and generally exceeded my expectations. The Galapagos Islands are amazing with all the wild life which is generally not afraid of people. The ship had tours every morning and every afternoon. There were 6 chances to snorkel on the B cruise. The ship is never at a pier. All transfers to and from the ship are by Zodiacs. The naturalists were very good. Read Less
Celebrity Xpedition Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 3.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.8
Family 1.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.9
Enrichment 4.0 4.7
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 3.0 4.5
Rates 5.0 4.5

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