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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
This has taken so long to write because, basically, the experience left me speechless/overwhelmed. It’s taken a while to gain a perspective on it. Excursions/Activities: I could easily imagine striking off on my own and not seeing a ... Read More
This has taken so long to write because, basically, the experience left me speechless/overwhelmed. It’s taken a while to gain a perspective on it. Excursions/Activities: I could easily imagine striking off on my own and not seeing a tenth the wildlife our guides found for us. What I saw of the Galapagos was that a difference of less than a mile in anchorages can make the difference in seeing most of an islands’ exotics or not seeing any at all. Our guides seemed to always know where the sightings and gatherings of animals would be so that there was never the ‘dry hole’ watching nothing but land crabs. These are not the Florida Keys, Bahamas or jungles of Central America where the challenge is to see the wild life without endangering yourself from the shear numbers and variety. First, second and third impression of the Galapagos was a very barren, primitive area where local knowledge is the only knowledge. All the activities and excursions were well planned, included options for guests who were more physically challenged up through those comfortable with several miles of trail hiking, etc. The care and attention to all the guests was exceptional and we never felt abandoned to fend for ourselves yet still given some latitude for our own speed/interests. The Zodiac crews were amazingly adept at their jobs, routinely positioning the boats as if they were on solid land. Ship/Accommodations: This is personal taste but I absolutely love the size of this ship. For me, it’s the perfect size. The quality and decor and facilities of the room were excellent and kept that way by the crew. Better than many hotels though of course smaller and marine oriented. Vintage? Even better. Enhanced the experience of an elite expedition in a far off land. The size reinforced the feeling of intimacy with the sea and the location…and the crew/staff. A 4000 passenger ship feels like a moving hotel that has staff that does ‘stuff’ for the passengers. This ship made me feel like the staff was there to make my, personal, voyage wonderful. I felt like it was ‘my’ ship rather than a ship I was ‘on’. With drinks included and the casualness of the of the location and the ‘connection’ of the ship with the sea, virtually every expectation I had or didn’t have of a cruise was met. [background: I’ve spent days/weeks on sailboats from 30’ to 60’ and a week on a 4k passenger cruise ship] Staff/Crew/Service: Holy cow! Never experienced anything like it. I may not frequent 5+ star hotels & restaurants but I’ve been there. This is not like that. This is the first experience of wanting to tip. Not feeling obligated or ‘encouraged’ or the etiquette of rewarding extra effort. This was an experience of feeling like the only thing, as a passenger, I had to reciprocate with was money. And, thank goodness tips were included or I’d have left w/o any cash. It was as if there was a competition going on to do what ever was necessary for us to enjoy the time aboard. Yet, and this is important to me, it was all done in the most natural and accommodating style without any of the ‘hovering’ many of the ‘better’ hotel’s and restaurants mistake as service. Friendly Service took on a whole new meaning. (Though not to this extent, I experienced similar treatment at other locations while in Ecuador resulting in a very positive view of the country.) Without going into details, due to personal schedules & health ‘challenges’, my cabin mate & I really pushed the staff to the edges of their 'accommodation envelope’. They turned an otherwise wasted vacation of illness and fatigue into a wonderful and memorable adventure that included recovery and so much personal space that we didn’t even take it out on each other. :-) We were always late to breakfast or dinner and yet they made us feel like it was our private dinning room. On this, I can’t thank the Captain, his crew and staff and Expedition Cruises enough. It certainly wasn’t their responsibility for us to have our lives somewhat ‘together’ for the cruise but they sure compensated for our short comings. Food: If you’re expecting gourmet food commensurate with the price point of the cruise you’ll be disappointed. It wasn’t a gastronomy themed cruise. That being said, the food was consistently wonderful, of great quality, and prepared and presented with care. For a small ship in the middle of the Galapagos Islands to consistently serve such good food & so much fresh fruit is not small feat. I/we were never disappointed or dissatisfied with a single meal or item. (For comparison, I’d rate the food on a large MSC ship as only a 4 so I’m picky.)   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
We had an excellent experience in the Galapagos on Celebrity Xpedition. Other people have detailed the itineraries and ship in great detail, and the ongoing discussion in the Role Call is quite helpful. The vast majority of people do the ... Read More
We had an excellent experience in the Galapagos on Celebrity Xpedition. Other people have detailed the itineraries and ship in great detail, and the ongoing discussion in the Role Call is quite helpful. The vast majority of people do the 10- or 11-night package that includes time in Quito and a charter flight to and from Baltra. Unfortunately, my work schedule prohibited us from arriving in Ecuador until Saturday, so we booked the 7-night package only. Having completed the experience, here are some helpful hints for those trying to get to Baltra on their own. Booking flights: currently there are five non-charter flights to Baltra every Sunday--two with Aerogal, two with TAME and one on LAN. All originate in Quito, stopover in Guayaquil and then head to Baltra. LAN has the most user-friendly website, and it's easy to price and book flights, but the flight lands in Baltra just before noon (Galapagos time), which seemed too late. That left Aerogal and TAME as better options. I did some research on TAME, and while you can price and find availability on their website, you cannot book with a US credit card. I did find that by calling their Miami number you could secure a reservation and then pay either by bank transfer or credit card (for an additional fee). Aerogal's website did not show any availability on the date we wanted to travel. However, we were also booking an excursion to the Amazon region of Ecuador (Napo WIldlife Center, also highly recommended), and their booking office (and probably any Ecuadorean-based travel agent) was able to secure seats for us within 24 hours of my request. We decided to book with Aerogal because their flight was scheduled to arrive the earliest. We flew from California to Guayaquil through Panama City and arrived at just after noon on Saturday. Guayaquil isn't that exciting, but we were happy to have an afternoon to explore the Malecón and Las Peñas. We stayed at the brand new Holiday Inn which is less than a 5 minute walk from the airport (they also have a shuttle). On Sunday morning, we walked back to the airport to start our flight. Prior to checking in for the flight, you must go through two steps: first, obtain a Control Visitor Card (or TCT). You'll need to present your passport and $10 at the "Consejo de Gobierno de Galapagos" counter. In Guayaquil, this was at a window just to the left of the Aerogal check-in (at the new Quito airport, it is near the "A" check-in counters and next to where you can buy air tickets for the domestic airlines). Second, you must have your luggage inspected by AGROCALIDAD, which in both airports is right next to where you get the TCT. They will place a nylon zip tie onto your luggage, and then you can head to check in for your flight. Our flight was on time, and we arrived in Baltra at 9:20am (Galapagos time). Upon arrival, you will show your passport and the completed TCT. You'll get back the bottom portion of the TCT which has to be shown when you depart the Galapagos. Celebrity includes the entrance fee to the national park in the cruise fare, so your name should be on a list of those who have already paid. The check-in materials included a voucher that we were supposed to present, but the agent in the Galapagos just found our name on the list. You should not have to pay $100 at this point, but if you do (as another couple on our cruise who traveled alone did), save your receipt and Celebrity will reimburse you onboard the Xpedition. We arrived approximately 90 minutes before the Celebrity charter flight and were expected to just hang out at the airport until everybody else arrived. Crew members (naturalists) were already waiting with signs and took our check-in luggage at this point for transfer to the ship. We did some shopping and reading, but another group traveling alone that arrived early hung out in the VIP lounge. At around 11am (Galapagos time--ship stays on mainland Ecuador time), the 90+ people on the charter flight arrived and we headed onto buses to transfer to the panga for transfer to the Xpedition. The trip (itinerary A) was awesome, with Monday's two visits to Espanola, the deep snorkels and panga ride at Punta Vicente Roca as our favorite moments. Our wet landings were all in sandy areas, so my travel companion who did not have water shoes had no problem just going barefoot, drying his feet with putting on his shoes once on land. On the final day, we left the ship at 8:30am (Galapagos time) and were on a 10:45am flight. The Xpedition help desk told us any flight after 10:30am was okay to book, and we were in the waiting area easily an hour prior to our flight. The Celebrity charter flight was scheduled to leave at 11:20am and arrived in Quito about 30 minutes before our flight, since we had to stop in Guayaquil. Having successfully done just the seven day option, I was happy to have everything work out so well. Of course, by booking on your own you run the risk of getting flight delays and missing the cruise, so the other options Celebrity provides that include the charter flight definitely gives more security. I just wanted to include my experience so others that cannot or do not want to do the longer options have some help. Finally, we were two of nine thirty-somethings on our cruise (there was also one child), but the crowd definitely skews older. Still, we had a great time meeting all sorts of different people of all ages who all seemed to have an adventurous spirit. We would definitely recommend the experience to anybody who is considering it! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
The Celebrity Xpedition made this trip very easy for us. We were picked up at the Quito, Ecuador airport on September 6 and transported to the Marriott Hotel where the check in was fast and the rooms were large and comfortable. A breakfast ... Read More
The Celebrity Xpedition made this trip very easy for us. We were picked up at the Quito, Ecuador airport on September 6 and transported to the Marriott Hotel where the check in was fast and the rooms were large and comfortable. A breakfast was provided in the mornings. On the 7th, the cruise passengers were taken on a city tour with a lunch and wonderful dinner provided. The next morning, September 8, the group was transported to the airport and then boarded a chartered jet to Baltra, Galapagos. Upon arrival we were then transported to the pier and taken to the Xpedition via zodiacs. The cost of this cruise included all the transfers, the tours, the gratuities for attendants and the naturalists who accompanied small groups each day. House wines and local beers flowed freely in addition to cokes and water. The meals were adequate, not awesome, but I will not complain about that. Our major reason for this trip was to visit the islands to see the animal life, the volcanic landscape, and the flora. We were not disappointed. Each day we were given choices for times of the excursions--one in the morning and one in the afternoon. My husband and I did not snorkel, but this was an option for those who wanted to. Naturalists accompanied small groups of no more than 16 on each excursion. When the cruise was over, Celebrity moved us back to the Baltra airport to again board the chartered jet back to Quito and to the Marriott. We again had breakfast and had transfers back to the airport for our flight home. We took an excursion to the Mindo Cloud Forest on the 16th which was arranged through the hotel. We did not fly out until the 17th. The small group of passengers (96) made the trip friendly. There were some cliquish groups, but we were able to meet many people during the excursions and the meals. We loved this trip! Some of the excursions required a bit of dexterity and the ability to get in and out of the zodiacs. It is not designed for individuals who cannot walk well and who may have other physical problems. The dress is very casual even for dinner. I usually wore jeans and sweaters. My husband wore jeans and golf shirts. Shorts and capris with tees and casual shirts are just fine. You can spend lots of money on special clothing and shoes, but you can also spend less on clothing and shoes from discount stores and enjoy the experiences just as well. Some days you get wet, some days you don't. You know what kind of landings you will experience by listening to the brief informative sessions that are available each day. If you are wanting lots of entertainment then this isn't the cruise for you. The naturalists made presentations, one night was a silly skit, and the old standby karaoke night happened. There is one main lounge area where people congregated, visited, had drinks, watched films, received information, and took advantage of free Wi Fi. The rooms are small, but adequate. There are a few suites with balconies, but we were never in our room very much and to really get a better view would require being out on the decks. Something to consider is that Quito is a city of high elevation. You might have problems with altitude sickness. Be prepared. A hat and sunscreen is very important. If you get sea sick, use the sea bands or patches. There were a few occasions were the ship seemed to rock a lot, but not generally. I use the sea bands and I was fine. I actually wore them the entire night on one occasion, but that was the only really rocky night. Remember this is a small ship. There is always something to complain about if you look hard enough. We were very satisfied and would recommend this cruise line. A wonderful experience among the magnificent animal life that were unafraid of us. Observing all of this was such a treat! Being treated so well by Celebrity was very much appreciated. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
As an avid ‘review’ reader myself, I want to contribute my own review of the ‘Galapagos’ experience as guests of ‘Celebrity’ cruises on board the Xpedition. My wife and I (68 and 67yrs) just returned from one of the best ... Read More
As an avid ‘review’ reader myself, I want to contribute my own review of the ‘Galapagos’ experience as guests of ‘Celebrity’ cruises on board the Xpedition. My wife and I (68 and 67yrs) just returned from one of the best vacations we have ever experienced. Here are some particulars that will be important to you. The Expense: All told this cruise cost about $150/day (including air). That’s the bad news. The good news is that everything is included [Food, beverages (including wine and mixed drinks), tips, all offshore activities, even Internet in the lounge]. We paid only for clothes we bought and off shore purchases that were mainly gifts for family. The Ship: Excellent! Well maintained and clean. It is well designed and functional. The cabins (318) were not overly spacious but compare favorably with our previous experiences on similar sized ships like ‘Windstar’. The bathrooms are small but not cramped and showering is very comfortable. Storage space is more than adequate for a 7-night stay. I would bring and extra bag/suitcase and leave it in Quito with a few ‘dirties’ and then you will have extra space for gifts on the way home. The staff is the most friendly we have experienced. The naturalists outstanding. I cannot remember a single question that was not answered quickly and accurately. The food was also above my expectations. As on most ships, the food is pre-cooked. Yet, I was still able to get both medium-rare steak and lobster (which I had 5 different meals) that were not over-done. Carlos (in charge) is to be lauded as a hard worker who aims to see to everyone’s satisfaction. The Itinerary: The ship stops at a different location each morning and each afternoon. The local waters give the Xpedition a gentle rocking, but I did not hear of any significant seasickness. We did not need any medication. The transfers are safe and well organized on zodiacs with seasoned drivers. Several of the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ landings are not suitable for those with strength or balance issues. The remaining landings are reasonable for most all except the disabled. Snorkeling is good but the water cold, and a wet suit is necessary (provided). Kayaking and diving are not available from the Xpedition. The hiking is not overly challenging but still a little exercise. The views and wildlife exceeded every expectation. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Zodiac tours are breathtaking. Local shopping is very good for clothing, leather goods, and some unique artwork. All-In-All Don’t miss it!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
This was an outstanding cruise/land tour experience that did not disappoint. There were many choices to be made including time of year, weather preferences, wildlife sighting preferences, and Itinerary A&B. We could not decide which ... Read More
This was an outstanding cruise/land tour experience that did not disappoint. There were many choices to be made including time of year, weather preferences, wildlife sighting preferences, and Itinerary A&B. We could not decide which itinerary so we "bit the bullet" and booked both. The temperature was lovely with averages in the mid 70's. Night time was much cooler. Generally speaking, Itinerary A was more abundant wildlife and Itinerary B was more diverse terrain, geology, more water activities including snorkeling. We did see lots of wildlife on Itinerary B but farther away--on cliffs, flying high in the sky, underwater, etc. As the naturalists reminded me when we gave them our comparative review, wildlife has no agenda and what you see each week on each itinerary can be very different. However, I really loved Espanola, the waved albatross and would have hated to have missed that. So I give a slight nod to Itinerary A based on my preferences. SHIP: The Xpedition is a lovely small ship, very well appointed, comfortable, casual and easy to get around. The common areas had plenty of space and it was rare that we had trouble finding places for the 8 of us to sit together. We spent a lot of time in the Dicovery Lounge, especially since there was Wi-Fi available there. The connection was spotty sometimes but usually everyday we could access our email at least once. It was free, which was even better. You have to sign up the first day at Guest Relations and they put in an access code for you. I kept losing mine and they cheerfully re-entered it many times. We never used the hot tub, there was just not enough time. DINING: Food is very subjective, but our group enjoyed all our meals, the variety, the presentation and the amounts. While it is not like other Celebrity menus, it is good considered that they have to use local products from Ecuador and base all menus around what is available locally. The beef is different (grass fed) and tastes a little different that what we are used to but the beef dishes were prepared to order and I only had one that I would say was not good. All the fish dishes were lovely and the vegetarian choices looked nice but I didn't try any. We ate outside at the Beagle grill several times for lunch and there was a nice variety available there. CABINS: We were in Cabin 417, forward on Deck 4. Once we got used to the space, we found there was room for everything. There are two closets, one on either side of the bathroom door with lots of shelves and hangers. There are no drawers except tiny ones in the one nightstand by the bed. We must have had a new mattress, because it was VERY comfortable. Our friends had to get mattress toppers added to their bedding. We used our empty luggage under the bed to store our "excursion gear" like backpacks, fanny packs, masks, snorkels, sunscreen, bug spray, water shoes, etc. We folded back the top and used it like a rolling drawer under the bed. WARNING: forward cabins get the anchor noise going up and down, sometimes late at night and sometimes in the mornings. Others in other locations heard the anchors but in our cabins it will catapult you right out of a dead sleep and scare you to death! It was not enough to make a complaint but we did notice it a few times. CREW & STAFF: Wow, what can I say about the host of people from Celebrity which made our trip so memorable! We loved all the naturalists, although there was different degrees of understanding their accents. You cannot plan ahead which one you want to get; they randomly rotate and you just get on the next zodiac and get the one that is assigned to that boat. The Staff on board goes out of the way to be friendly, helpful and eager to please. We loved Maykel, (maitre'd), Fernando (Hotel manager), Gabby (guest services) and all the servers and room attendants. EXCURSIONS: Our first excursion, Itinerary A, to Espanola was so thrilling, full of wonder and adventure, with so many wildlife sightings that it set the tone for the entire trip. That being said, I am sure if we had done only Itinerary B we would have been just as thrilled with the sightings on that trip. We saw the waved albatross, landing, taking off, with chicks, doing a mating dance...also the same with the blue footed boobies. We saw sea lions playing, with pups, with a brand new pup just born that hour and so much that we could not believe our eyes. We did more long walks the first week than the second week, and I do believe you have more opportunity to see more on the long walks. We did all the snorkel trips on both itineraries and the ones on Itinerary B were more thrilling. However we got to see sea turtles, marine iguanas, a variety of tropical fish on both. We saw orcas on Itinerary B and the naturalists detoured our regular excursion to take the zodiacs closer to the whales. Wow, fantastic. Tortoise Day is Saturday of each Itinerary, and goes to the same places, just in reverse order. We found the Darwin Center interesting but not compelling. We loved seeing the tortoises "in the wild" in the highlands. CLOTHING: We were there in "winter". Mild, pleasant days and very cool evenings. I took 3 pairs of shorts and did not need them. My convertible pants would have been fine. I layered on top: short sleeve or 3/4 sleeve shirts with a long sleeve Columbia shirt over the top. All my clothes were SPF and I only used sunscreen on my face and hands. Wore a hat at all times so had hat hair the entire trip. Did not need any bug repellant at all. We had Magellan jackets (more like heavy windbreakers and water repellent). They had zip off sleeves so sometimes we wore them as jackets and sometimes as vests. My husband had hiking shoes and I wore Clark walking shoes. They did just fine. We had water sandals for "wet landings" and that was just fine. We changed for dinner, but same kinds of pants we wore in the daytime (just clean) and I took a couple of nicer knit tops for dinner. The first week looked like a Columbia/Ex-Officio catalog among the guests. The second week a number of people "dressed" for dinner with jackets, dresses and heels. So, to each his own, and his own luggage weight requirements... QUITO: The JW Marriott was lovely and a great place to begin the trip. We arrived 2 days earlier than the tour started. Those that arrived on the first night had a very short night before a full day of touring early the next morning and no chance to acclimate to the altitude. I'd recommend arriving at least one day prior to the start of the tour. Quito is interesting in the old town, not so much otherwise. We did go on our own to the top of the mountain on the sky tram to see the beautiful views. The food was good there with lots of choices. MACHU PICCHU/Cusco/Lima: The was an outstanding tour, even with the altitude problems. I was the only one in our group of 16 who started Diamox in Lima before we went to Cusco, and I had no problems and no side effects. Others in our group had many issues with the altitude. Most was taken care of with oxygen treatments in the hotel in Cusco. Our tour director, Juan Carlos was with us from Lima through Cusco and Machu Picchu, back to Lima. He is the best tour director I have ever had. He added a level of trust and confidence that was greatly appreciated. Our tour guide, Ronald, was also very good. This is an exhausting tour with so much packed in there is little time for rest. But it is fantastic. I didn't realize Peru had such gourmet cuisine. It was great! It rained and snowed the day we went to Machu Picchu (first time since 1992) but the cool air and misty clouds added an element of mystery to our visit and shows in our photos. The Orient Express train was a great experience. We rarely do planned tours like this but I am confident that we would not have had such a first class, experience packed, hassle free experience had we tried to do this on our own. HIGHLY recommend this tour. I have very little of a negative nature to say about this trip. It was the most expensive trip we have ever taken but was absolutely the right choice for us. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Ill just write my review in time order-so you can follow along. We were on Itinerary B-10 night package. Remember this is winter in Quito and the Galapagos. A group of 4: 2-mid 50s, 1 -75 year old, 1-27 year old. Before I begin-I was ... Read More
Ill just write my review in time order-so you can follow along. We were on Itinerary B-10 night package. Remember this is winter in Quito and the Galapagos. A group of 4: 2-mid 50s, 1 -75 year old, 1-27 year old. Before I begin-I was affected by the Altitude in Quito on the Pre and Post Nights. More people were affected on the Post Nights. I was glad I had prescription medicine from my doctor, and so were the people who took some. Take Altitude meds with you just in case!! Day 1: We arrived in Quito at 11pm-at hotel by 1:15am. When you arrive in Quito you go thru customs, out thru the doors, the Celebrity Representative will direct you to give luggage to porters. You must wait for everyone to de-board plane, go thru customs, and meet up. Dont rush. You will get on a bus to the Marriott. The bus ride is 1 hour long. Information will be given to you on the bus. When you get to the Marriott, you will pick up room keys and get itinerary for next day at the Celebrity Desk. A beautiful hotel with a warm water pool and hot tub. The bathrooms had separate showers and large soaker tubs. Service here is excellent. Small set of gift shops with some unique items. 3 restaurants mostly serve Mexican style food. Nice little coffee/sandwich/ice cream shop in hotel. HINT: room keys only work for your floor, if your party is split between floors it makes it a little difficult. HINT: Try to get access to Executive Lounge on 9th floor, I had a Marriott number. Drinks such as water, coke are free all day long. Different foods are also served during the day for snacks, breakfast, desserts, etc. (I spent a lot of time here.) Free WiFi also. Day 2: Remember all food is part of your pkg. from this point. Buffet Breakfast was served 6-9 am. I never went but others in my group said it was like Embassy Suites on steroids-made to order omelets, hot and cold buffet. 9:30 depart for City tour that includes a very nice lunch. A 45 minute drive, with only 20ish people to a bus. There will be bottled water available free on the bus. They urge you to drink all day. We visited 2 cathedrals- one of them was overlaid in gold. Lots of old world culture. Saw a lot of government buildings and the culture of Old Town Quito. I took pictures of young boys giving shoe shines in the square and learning to paint in the plaza. Crime is bad, so don't wear jewelry or flashy stuff. You have a security guard and your tour guide. We felt safe-but it is a problem, at one point a policeman rode on our bus. If you have read other reviews they talk about the opera singer at lunch. He was fine, lasted about 15 minutes, yes he was loud, but enjoy it for the experience. Try to sit on balcony, we didnt and wish we had'overlooked a square. This is your first taste of different varieties of ices. The guava was delicious. You will have different ices each day on the ship. After lunch they will take you back to hotel if you do not want to do the afternoon section. Or bring you if you just want to do afternoon and not morning you just have to request it. Afternoon drove about 1 hour to the Equator Monument. We had about an hour here. Had fun taking pictures and seeing the museum inside the monument. HINT: go up the elevator and do the museum on the way down. HINT: front side has lots of people taking pictures, go to sides or back where there is nobody to get good pics. Stand and try to hold up globe and let someone take your picture. Back to hotel at 4:30 and then at 6:15 board bus again to go to Carmine Restaurant for dinner. Try to be one of the first in the restaurant because I think the 1st floor rooms are prettier. Plus dont have to climb stairs. Lemon chicken was best I have had. Desserts were all good. Back at hotel 8:15. Youll take your luggage down to Celebrity desk between 8-10pm and you wont see it again till on ship. HINT: pack your clothes and shoes in Ziplocs or plastic so if there is a shower your stuff woTy get wet. WARNING: your bags will be handled by a lot of people before it arrives on ship.. .put all meds, anything of value, electronic cords and batteries in your carry on. HINT: people carried on a lot more than the recommended on small bag, several had medium size roll-on suitcases. So dont worry about size all that much. Day 3: Breakfast is 5-7am same as day 2 6:30 am you will pick up boarding passes at Celebrity Desk 7:30am transfer to airport-again this is a 1 hour bus ride; they will have bottled water available for you. You will be taken to a special lobby to wait at the airport, and then load on a charter plane. HINT: they now have 1st class seating on this plane if you want to upgrade, I think it was $30 a person. Really didnt think it would be worth it. Meal was nicely presented with linen napkins. Ours was a quiche, which was quite good. 2 hour flight to Baltra. Upon arrival to Baltra, you must go thru customs (yes again!). Then the Celebrity representatives take you to a special waiting room with drinks, snacks, cushy chairs, sofas to wait for the buses to take you to the pier to catch the pangas to the ship. 10 minute bus ride to Pier and 5 minute ride on Pangas to ship. From there the vacation is in full swing. A buffet lunch was served when you boarded ship and the first briefing was at 3pm when you got your keys to your stateroom. All meals will be in the Darwin Restaurant on Deck 3 or outside grill food on Deck 4. All talks are on Deck 4 in the Discovery Lounge. You will get fitted for wetsuits at 4pm. Believe me if you are going in Galapagos Winter July thru Oct.- you will want the wetsuits- it was COLD. HINT: We also bought swim shirts or rash guards for this trip'glad we invested. The $45 was well spent on these shirts. Have snorkeled a lot of places, but never in cold water so the extra layer the shirts provided was nice. Every Day On Board Ship:  Dress Code is Casual. I took too many clothes, but enjoyed not having to wear the same thing over and over. Supper most people did dress a little nicer, Capris or pants for women and nicer shirts for guys. No suits or formal wear. Only one guy kept coming in his bathing suit-YUCK!! Plenty of space under beds for suitcases.  There is a nice small gift shop on board for shirts, backpacks, and postcards. Breakfast is Buffet, but you can get things cooked your way. My mom got her toast cooked really dark every morning.  Lunch is Buffet in Restaurant that was themed each day such as Italian or Mexican OR something different on the back of deck 4 each day such as Crepes, Hamburgers, and Sandwiches with standard fries, salad offerings. We checked out both before deciding what to eat. Plenty of choices and Shrimp was available every meal cooked a million different ways. Excursions: o Morning excursion is 8ish to 11ish o Afternoon excursion is 3ish to 6ish o Wet landings are in 1-2 ft of water on sandy beach-need beach sandals or water shoes (there are sharp rocks) o Dry landings are hard to maneuver on small outcrops of lava rock-need good tennis or hiking shoes o Two options are usually given for each time period-one is a longer hike. One of our group always chose the longer hike. I usually chose the shorter, so hopefully, I can give you insights to both.  Each night around 7ish there is a slide show presentation that highlights the next day's excursions. HINT: they show pictures of the landings, tell how hard it will be, give you a good feel for the limitations of each excursion. You will also sign up for which excursion you are doing here and then head down to supper. Dinner is 7:30-9pm each evening. It is a 4 course meal. You can choose from the Classic Menu which is the same every night or from the Different nights selections. We mixed and matched all week. HINT: If you have never cruised before: you can order 2 of something, or 3 salads or 2 entrees any combination you want. I ordered just a baked potato for my entre several nights. Over the week we had Crab, Octopus, Shrimp, Calamari, Lobster (several nights), Steaks (several nights), many different kinds of fish, vegetarian options, etc..etc..etc. HINT: the first night is the only night for Creme Brule. I should have got two. Everything was prepared well and served expertly. Red and White wine was offered with every meal or you could order drinks. I had an Oreo Milkshake each night; husband had tea, the others Sprite and Coke OR of course the never ending supply of alcoholic beverages.  Seating is open at lunch and supper. We sat at the very back at supper, since that is where the bartenders doubled as waiters. My group congregated at the bar during the day, so at night we enjoyed having the same staff. Day 4: Morning Excursion- Santiago Island: Wet landing-flat terrain for walk-then optional snorkel. Both walks were on the same path BUT the longer one went a little farther across beautiful land bridges. HINT: I went on the shorter one and missed this and it was my only regret on the choices of excursions for the whole week. I took pictures of lizards, iguanas, birds, sally-lightfoot crabs, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies(BFB). This island had black sand beaches. You could snorkel, go back to the ship, or just hang out on the beach after the walk. There were six opportunities to snorkel on this trip. It was cold, not unbearable, but just very different than what we expected. There were plenty of fish to see, but the water was full of plankton so our pictures are not great. Still enjoyed the experience. Afternoon Excursion- Rabida: Option 1 was long walk (didnt see as much wildlife as option 2) and snorkel. We did option 2, which was a zodiac ride, short walk, and snorkel. A zodiac and panga are the same. We took pictures of all kinds of wildlife: BFB, iguanas, manta ray, pelicans sitting on nests. The panga drivers work very hard to be sure everyone gets the pictures they want. They will maneuver and circle till everyone is finished. The short easy walk took us to see flamingos. Then we were given another chance to snorkel off the red sand beach. HINT: Try to be the last one on the pangas. You will keep your feet dry, and have more maneuver room to take pictures. We learned to count people or hang back in the line, to be last on the pangas. I think option 2 was the best choice this afternoon based on feedback from others. Day 5: Morning Excursion-Elizabeth Bay: Everyone takes the same tour of a Mangrove by the pangas. You sign up for 8 or 10 am. HINT: Be on the 8 am, 1st panga if you can, because you see the birds, stingrays, turtles, etc that havent been disturbed by other pangas full of people. The pangas do stir up silt which makes it hard for later groups. We saw penguins also. Advanced Deep Water Snorkel- 3-4pm: This was snorkeling off the panga in deep water. We did not do either of these since the water was cold. Mixed reviews from the people who came back. Some pangas saw more than others, but I think they swam with some sea lions. Afternoon Excursion-Tagus Cove- 4:30pm: Option 1 was short panga ride and a long walk. Option 2 was extended panga ride and optional short walk. The walk involved a dry tricky landing and then 150 stairs straight up to look down into a caldera (small lake ringed by the mts.) The long walk went farther than the short walk, but did not see anything different. HINT: The panga rides were very different. On the extended ride you actually took the panga inside a small cavern. I was glad we took the extended ride or we would have missed the cavern and I took a lot of video of penguins and pelicans frolicking. HINT: You dont have to take the hike, can just do panga ride and then back to ship. My take on the Ship We were in Suites 602 and 604. The suites on deck 6 are the largest. Our beds, bath and floor space were larger than the others on the ship. Suite 604-now the Royal Suite, does show the correct floor plan on the Celebrity website. BUT 602 and the Penthouse Suite floor plan are very wrong on the website. They are both much nicer and roomier. o That said: we also had to climb stairs all day long. Meals were on 3rd deck, entertainment and bar on 4th deck, pangas on deck 3. The only things on deck 6 were the hot tub and massage room. Down and up for breakfast, down and up morning excursion, down and up for lunch so you see what I am saying. o Also, I agree with fellow reviewers. The air conditioner does not keep up on deck 6. It was winter and the high was in the 80s, but the room NEVER got cold. It was comfortable, but not cold. I cannot imagine staying in the room when it is summer in the Galapagos. o We all agreed that a cabin on deck 5, even though not as big, would have been better. More convenient to everything. The ship does ROCK. But we enjoyed it for the experience that it was. It was worse the last two nights, but every ship in the harbors was rocking. I took one Bonnie every day and had no problems. No one else in our group took any meds. I did take the Patch, but didnt use it. We did do the drunken stroll across the room many times, but it is just part of the experience. A few of the passengers complained of the movement the last two days-but I dont think it made anyone sick. HINT: if you get sea sick bring meds you will need them.  HINT: Take a good flashlight-such as a mag light. Some people had them and could spotlight sharks and sea lions after dark in the water. It was fun to watch. We never had the crew do this as some other cruise critic reviews stated they did at midnight. So take your own.  Ship is beautiful and well maintained. The crew takes pride in their ship. They were outfitting it with new decking on the back.  Every excursion is well-planned, organized, executed, etc etc. You will be amazed at how well they issue life-jackets-get you on pangas-get you off pangas-get lifejackets. The naturalist and crew will help you on and off the pangas with their special handshake. They give you a wet bag for snorkel gear and have an organized system of hanging wet suits and bags upon the end of each snorkel. We brought own snorkel and masks, but they had plenty. We just left ours in the wet bag till the last snorkel trip. You dont keep wetsuits and snorkel gear in room. HINT: I wanted a prescription mask so I went on Amazon and ordered on for $50. It was the best snorkeling, because I could see. Best $50 spent.  And YES there is WIFI on the ship. It is only in the Discovery Lounge, but we and everybody else used it every day. It is FREE---no limit on hours per day. All the brochure information is wrong on this. Also, they have 6 PCs and Macs that you can check out. HINT: You can download pictures on computer then transfer to a flash drive. A lot of people did this. I played on my IPAD no problem. DAY 6 Morning Excursion-Santiago Island: Both Option 1 and 2 have the same easy dry landing over black lava rock which was a little tricky to walk, but my mom and another older lady did it just fine. Option 1 is course a longer walk (1.5miles) but they did get to do something neat that the shorter walk (option 2, 0.03miles) didnt. HINT: Option 1 They got to actually crawl down in a lava tube to their waist and stick their heads out for neat photo op! So if you like to walk this made some neat pictures. HINT: Take pictures close of up the lava formations that you are walking on-really neat rope and swirls. BBQ on the Back Deck-They bbq-ed every meat, seafood, chicken you could think of. You just filled your plate to the brim. We sat close to the grill so we could watch them. Enjoyed everything they cooked-huge shrimp, lobster, fish Afternoon Excursion-Bartolome Island: Okay Option 1 is the 380 stairs to the top then snorkel. The 380 stairs are built into a boardwalk system and at the top you get beautiful pictures of islands and crystal blue water. No wildlife. Okay, I admit, I skipped this one and went on Option 2 for a panga ride and snorkel. We didnt see much, but the water was pretty choppy. Snorkeling again was okay the water it was hazybut lots of fish. Each time you snorkel you are given a pretty large area, so you dont snorkel into each other. Pangas stay out patrolling, so if you get tired or need help they are there. DAY 7 Morning Excursion-Santa Cruz, Bachas Beach: Again Option 1 and 2 are the same except the walk is longer on Option 1. This was a wet landing and a beach walk to see the flamingos. Easy walk and gorgeous beach. Then snorkel or go back to ship on pangas. Advanced Deep Water Snorkel- same as Day 5 Afternoon Excursion- North Seymour Island: The dry landing here was very tricky, but you can do it. Youll encounter a few rocks in the trail at the first and then sandy for the rest of the way. This turned out to be my Oh My Gosh Wow, Really excursion. On this island we got to see Blue Footed Boobies (which I didnt even know what was) doing their mating dance. We also saw Frigate Birds (which, again I didnt even know what was) doing their mating dance. I took video and was just entranced to be a part of this. It really did make this a trip of a lifetime. So take advantage of everything because you dont know when the wildlife will really put on a show. Turn in Snorkel gear. DAY 8 Morning Excursion-San Cristobal Island: Option 1 is a long walk, a museum about the Galapagos history, then town time. Option 2 is the museum and then town time. The museum is well worth taking a minute or 5 to read about the Galapagos. It tells about the pirates, the local economy, the wildlife. Then you have a chance to so a little souvenir shopping. This is mostly the basic souvenir town, but we enjoyed walking the waterfront street. We bought T-shirts, postcards, etc. Afternoon Excursion-San Cristobal Island: Only Option 1. Beach walk and swim. The beach was nice and long for a stroll. Sea lions and sally light-foot crabs everywhere. Postcard blue water and lava rocks made for nice pictures. Some hardy souls and kids played in the water. Turtle tracks up the sand dunes, but you could not follow them. Pangas went back and forth, so you could stay 30 minutes or 2 hours. This brings me to my only negative of the whole trip. Entertainment was non-existent, except the following two things. *Galapagos Trivia at 6:45 was fun. This was the only game of the whole week. *Karaoke at 9pm. Only nighttime entertainment worth going to, the rest were pretty sad. Everyone is the lounge sang every song. We had loads of fun. DAY 9 Morning Excursion-Santa Cruz: Only option is to the Highlands to see the Tortoises in the wild. You land in Port and are transferred by bus to the Highlands. It takes about 45 minutes to get there. HINT: if it is wet they have rubber boots for you to wear. This is an easy walk to see the tortoises. You can do  the walk and wait in a nice covered pavilion. They serve you a snack after the walk and of course all the water you want. HINT: Try to get on 1st panga and 1st bus. Hit is hard to see tortoise head out of its shell, better chance if you are the 1st guests there. Afternoon Excursion-Santa Cruz: Only option is to go to the Charles Darwin Station breeding facility. Again a bus ride. It was interesting to see baby turtles and how they are raising them and studying the genetics. You see saddlebacks and dome tortoises. If someone has hard time with distances and uneven ground they will shuttle them right to turtles. The rest of us had to walk about  a mile. Easy walk with boardwalks and lanes in the center. Shopping: After the turtles you have a couple of options. 1. Go back to ship. 2. Walk down Main Street and shop. Okay, I love to shop for different types of items to bring back from my trips. HINT: The best shops were right outside of the Research Station. So walk out of the Station and on the right was the beginning of a couple of blocks of fun browsing. If by this point you are dying for M&Ms or real chocolate. Go left at pier 1 block across street is supermarket. Suitcases were put out in hall by 5:30 am to be taken to the airport. You wont see them till Quito, so dont put anything in that you might need or dont mind losing. Again remember, how many people will touch your luggage. They give you zip ties to put on your bag. DAY 10 Every review I have read, tells nightmares of this day. I thought it went really smooth. Baltra has built a new airport-but it is NOT air conditioned. Didnt have any complaints. -Out of room by 8am. -on board pangas around 9:30 -- airport at 10am -- about 10 stalls of shopping for last minute items at airport, and food court then thru customs (painless) and into a private waiting area with drinks and snacks --- 12pm board charter plane for Quito, with a nice lunch. ---land and transfer to Marriott (of course this is that 1 hr drive again). We did encounter a rock slide on way to hotel that shut traffic down for 3 hours; thank goodness our driver just went on around. Our luggage took forever to make it through. Afternoon Excursion: Shopping in Quito. We were taken just 10 minutes away from the hotel to a local crafts mall to bargain and shop for blankets and souvenirs for about an hour. Crowded, watch your wallets, but lots of fun. Then we went to an expensive art gallery for an hour. Back to the hotel for a nice supper at La Hacienda. Day 11 Alas-the buffet breakfast is the last meal and farewell to the all-inclusive food and excursions. Our plane did not leave till midnight. We had the use of our room till 5pm. I opted to pay $100 to keep it till 8:30 when the bus left to take us back to the airport. We elected to laze around the hotel. Other groups went on excursions. HINT: Celebrity add-on excursions are way-overpriced. Go to the hotel business office and they will arrange a tour at a much lower cost that suits your needs. We did go the mall that is 5 blocks awaydont bother way over-prices. A pair of womens Crocs was $79. Bad area of town and could not get a taxi to take us back to hotel. Had to walk no walk really fast---bad area. WARNING: Missed our connecting flight because plane left Quito an hour late due to ice on wings. Yes thats ice on wings in July at Equator!!! If you go thru Houston they had 5 different lines we had to go thru to make it thru customs. It took over an hour and we did it fast and were 1st class so got to skip to head of some lines. Last Thoughts:  Clothes: We bought hats, shirts, pants at Bass Pro. Some people wore baseball caps, but they tended to blow off on the pangas. Hats with chin straps worked better. If you snorkel, on those 4 excursions you will wear your swimsuit to hike, then put on the wetsuit. I bought swim shorts, some put shorts over swimsuits. I had one long sleeve and one short sleeve fishing type shirt and wore those on most excursions. My husband had several of these and did the same. They do recommend no bright colors on excursions since it attracts insects. You need one pair of shoes to get wet, such as Teva type sandals( mine were generic brand), the closed toed type were popular. These are for wet landings. Tennis shoes or hiking shoes for the lava type excursions. Realize that if you sit in back of panga your shoes are going to get wet! We had a different pair for supper. I bought a $10 pair of sandals to wear every night. Backpacks: All reviews said you needed backpack. So we bought one. A better buy would have been a belt to hang a water bottle. You dont need to take bug spray and sunscreen on to the islands. At the most you are there 2 hrs. Water is really all you need on the excursions. Everyone was lugging this huge backpacks we quit taking anything but water in ours. I didnt have any problem with my camera vs water either on the pangas. Just stuff in life jacket. HINT: dont buy plastic backpack-gets way to hot.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We were on an Xpedition Cruise from the 19th May - 26th May and had Suite 503, which was excellent. We cannot praise highly enough the staff on Xpedition - they were all fantastic. Diego, the Maitre'd, was amazing, he catered for my ... Read More
We were on an Xpedition Cruise from the 19th May - 26th May and had Suite 503, which was excellent. We cannot praise highly enough the staff on Xpedition - they were all fantastic. Diego, the Maitre'd, was amazing, he catered for my 'no onions, no garlic' dietary problems on a daily basis. He always had a smile and nothing was too much trouble for him. Sebastian, our waiter, was also excellent, smiling, cheerful and so helpful, he went through the menu every night to tell me what I could eat that didn't have the dreaded g & o!All the naturalists were very good and we enjoyed the trips very much. The Zodiacs were fine, although some people had a struggle to get in and out of them when there was a swell. You do have to have a reasonable level of fitness to be able to get on and off these. It was very sad to find out about the Galapagos National Park Authorities and their very unreasonable charges against Celebrity. We know from our cruise how seriously Celebrity take their 'green' credentials and go above and beyond what is usual to make sure that the Galapagos Islands do not get damaged in any way. They also contribute a lot of money to the Park to help with all the conservation work. The letter from the Park Authorities was a bombshell to the crew - they were upset and couldn't believe that this had happened. There is a new boss of the Authority - if he is not careful, the action of the Authority will put off people going to the Galapagos (maybe that is what they want).Our last full day was scheduled to go to the Charles Darwin Conservation Centre, but because of the restrictions imposed on Celebrity, the naturalists were unable to go with us. The general view about the Centre was that it seemed to be run-down, with no signage around to tell you where to go and what was available. We were very disappointed and felt that what should have been one of the highlights was spoilt. Not Celebrity's fault at all.The only negative was the motion of the ship. We had 3 nights when it was really bad. I was prepared for the rocking motion and had taken lots of otc medicines like Dramamine, etc with me. BUT, it was seriously bad - I basically lost 3 nights' sleep and felt dreadful because the movement of the ship was so pronounced. There is now a 6th Deck on the Xpedition and the ship was built for 5 decks with the stabilisers to match. The ship really needs to go to dry dock and have the stabilisers changed - quite a few people were ill on the ship.It was our dream trip and we had a wonderful time and will not forget the Celebrity crew who made that week so memorable. Don't be put off going to Galapagos and comments about eating a lot of lobster on the cruise is silly - it is widely available and people like it, hence it was on the menu a lot. I'm sure a lot of the other vessels in the area offer the same when it is in season. Celebrity has done nothing wrong and is clearly the victim, as are the people booked on forthcoming cruises who might not get the chance to have their dream holiday. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
My husband and I took the 10-day Quito, Ecuador/Xpedition Galapagos Islands cruise in late April, itinerary 'B'. As most other reviews have said, the trip is fabulous with great hiking, warm, humid weather, amazing wildlife and ... Read More
My husband and I took the 10-day Quito, Ecuador/Xpedition Galapagos Islands cruise in late April, itinerary 'B'. As most other reviews have said, the trip is fabulous with great hiking, warm, humid weather, amazing wildlife and fun guides. Snorkeling is great, and the food on the ship is very good, as cruise food goes. A really great once in a lifetime trip. Some issues that have not been mentioned: if you wear glasses and don't have contacts and want to snorkel, you might want to bring along your own personal prescription snorkel goggles. I've found some hotels (in Hawaii for example) carry some general prescription pairs for glasses-wearers, but there are none on the Xpedition. So I was out of luck to be able to see well during snorkeling trips. Probably a good investment anyway as they are not too expensive (I hear you can get a decent pair that works for around $30, not custom of course). Yes, the ship rocks. Like crazy it rocks, but only on a couple of nights. Pretty funny to hear deck chairs crashing at night. Had to hang onto the edge of the bed. One word of caution: the night before you leave Quito for Baltra, while staying at the JW Marriot hotel in Quito, the Celebrity personnel request you bring your checked luggage down to the lobby to have it 'inspected' by the Galapagos customs personnel. They will keep your luggage overnight and transfer it to your ship cabin by the next afternoon. This is fine, except do NOT leave anything even remotely valuable in this checked bag because it may be taken. I unfortunately lost my binoculars and camera charger during this 'inspection'. I think it happens all the time because when I reported it to guest services, I saw many other 'entries' in their record book. Also, don't be alarmed when you are on the plane to Baltra, and the stewardesses 'fumigate' the inside of the plane while you are in there with bug spray. Eeesh. Oh, and pretty much 80% of the passengers were over 60. No kids, and not much ethnic diversity. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
We just completed the "A " April 5 itinerary, and I am writing these comments in the Baltra airport. We are a very well traveled couple, mid 50's and early 60's, and we traveled with 20 friends from around the country. ... Read More
We just completed the "A " April 5 itinerary, and I am writing these comments in the Baltra airport. We are a very well traveled couple, mid 50's and early 60's, and we traveled with 20 friends from around the country. Our room number was 503, a suite with balcony. These are a few random thoughts: This is not a trip for those with physical limitations, balance problems, or weak knees. The walks are over irregular sharp boulders, slick algae covered lava, and loose stones. The pangas do not disembark on piers, but on sharp lava outcroppings or beaches with rocks. It is hot, and some of the walks are very strenuous, especially the walk to see the albatrosses. There are also 5 snorkeling opportunities, 3 being 'deep water' entries from the pangas It is a shame to waste the time and money if you can't participate. Honestly evaluate your fitness level before attempting this cruise. The boat continues to have a severe rocking problem. A fellow passenger with a level application on his iPhone measured the daily sway at 10 degrees, and on two nights it was a 'get thrown off the bed' 15 degrees. We have been told differing stories for the origin of the instability. First, that the stabilizers were broken and too old to be fixed. Second, that the software that controlled the stabilizers was corrupted and no longer supported because of its age. Third, that the boat was bought 'cheap' at auction and refurbished for this purpose, and the boat was a poor design to begin with. Its hull is too rounded and shallow, so the boat bobs like a duck on top of the water. Whatever the reason, it is unpleasant and a safety risk. If you are prone to motion sickness, book the mid ship lower deck cabins, and bring meclizine pills, Transderm Scop patches, ginger, and wrist bands! Clothing: Casual reigns, even at dinner. There is no dressing up at all! Women wear clean capris/tops, men wear shorts/pants and a clean shirt/T-shirt for dinner. The sun is so intense and it is so hot, I recommend covering up as much as possible with long sleeves and long pants. Don't let the sun fry your skin! Personal recs: I am 5'2", wear 10p-12p waist, 12p-14p pants as I carry my weight in my butt and thighs. Royal Robbins Cardiff long pants were a perfect fit. They are a silky cool stretch nylon, and I wore them a lot, as they protected my legs from the intense sun. I also brought 2 pairs of Royal Robbins Discovery Capris, and Royal Robbins Discovery Bermudas. I wore the capris at dinner, and the bermudas (they fit more like pedal pushers) in between expeditions. They are expensive but can be found cheaper on the Sierra Trading website, Amazon, and eBay. I love the Royal Robbins Discovery stretch nylon fabric. Most men had the nylon convertible pants/shorts. My husband brought two pairs and wore them long daily, as he also felt they offered better sun protection than shorts. I brought 4 long sleeve LLBean Sunsmart shirts that I've had for years, but ended up buying two of the gift shop's long sleeve Tatoo brand shirts because they were made of a thinner fabric and were cooler. At $38, they were a bargain and most cruisers bought one. They are available in a light tan and a dark green color. Speaking of color, keep the bright ones home. Pack only tan/khaki, green, grey, brown, dull colors. We were told to avoid red, yellow, pink, coral, and tropical colors that attract insects. Double the number of cotton T's; once they are sweaty, they will never dry unless sent to the laundry. Shoes: Even though Keens were recommended and I bought Keen "Venice H2" for myself and Keen "Newport H2" for my husband, I don't think they are the best choice as they accumulate too much sand. For wet landings I much preferred my plastic Crocs "Patricia I" and "Patricia II" sandals. I could quickly slip them off to rinse the sand away, then slip them back on and continue the walk. For dry landings or rough terrain walks, old closed toe lightweight tennis shoes are the best option. Good soles that grip are crucial to prevent falling! Backpacks. You need a basic lightweight backpack to carry water and sunscreen and towels. The gift shop sold a logo'd one for only $13, but most people had their own. I bought one from Eddie Bauer for $16 that folded into its own little case. Snorkeling: The water is cold! The first day, you are given a wetsuit. Try to get a long sleeve one if possible. If not, bring a long sleeve rash guard and wear it under the wetsuit. You don't need shoes for deep water snorkeling trips. Leave them behind, but do get a pair of Tilos fin socks from Amazon to prevent blisters. They cost $15ish a pair. Hats: You need a good lightweight hat with a broad brim and a chin strap. I am a fan of the Sunday Afternoon hats. You can buy them from their website. I bought the Cruiser hat for myself and the Field hat for my husband. I saw other passengers wearing the Adventure model. They can be thrown in the washing machine and folded in a suitcase. Sunscreen. You need lots of it! I recommend zinc based sunscreens as zinc provides the best broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. Read labels. My favorite is Solbar 40 because it is cheap and soaks in well. (I am a dermatologist). For the face, I love Elta MD 46 Clear. Photography (courtesy of my husband): I brought a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and only took the 70-200mm lens onto land. It was ideal. If you have a wide angle lens, leave it at home. It will be of no use. A slightly longer telephoto would have been nice a few times, but as an all around lens on the excursions, the 70-200 worked great. A lot of people snap pictures of birds flying through the air with iphones. I can't imagine they are going to get very useable pictures, but the iphones do a pretty nice job with video, and there are times where having a video camera is useful. One evening, we took a Zodiac ride that left at 5:30 pm. It was an overcast day, but the useable light was about gone by the time we got to the cliffs where the blue footed boobies were nesting. There was also a 4:30 pm departure time, so if you have a choice on this excursion, take the earlier one as you will have more useable light. (By the way, flash photography is never allowed on the excursions, so don't bother to bring an external flash unit.) The Saturday we were in Santa Cruz I walked past a small fish market on the way from the Darwin Research Center back to the boat. A husband and wife were cutting up fresh fish and selling it to the locals. This proved to be one of the best photo ops because there were three seals and six pelicans within inches of the action occasionally grabbing a piece of fish from the cutting table. This is one place where something other than the 70-200mm lens would have been preferable, but I still managed to get some shots. A video camera would have been nice here. It was an unexpected surprise. Laundry Bring a rubber clothes line and a pair of carabiner hooks to attach it in the cabin. There is no place to hang wet or moist clothes. Laundry service is cheap, and clothes are returned the same day. Many people used it. Moist cotton clothes will never dry; opt for nylon pants/shorts and double the number of cotton T's you'll think you need. Electricity/Communications Bring a long extension cord and multi outlet strip like a Monster Strip. There is only one 110 outlet across the room at the desk. You may want to bring a 220 adaptor so you can use the additional outlet. If you need to dry your hair fast, bring your own hair dryer. The room has one, but it is not very powerful. There is a TV, but no channels to watch. No news channels; no BBC. Instead, movies are shown...occasionally. The thermostat controls in the staterooms are probably just for show. I think there is a main thermostat control somewhere because we never noticed a difference when we adjusted the dial in our room. Internet access is horrible. It's currently free, probably because there is no way they could charge for such unreliable service. If you need to be connected to your business or kids, stay home. We have been completely out of service for 48 hours, and before this, were able to connect for only a few minutes at a time before being dropped. PC's and Macs were all in the same boat. Rooms You don't need a balcony cabin. It's hot and humid and you don't want to spend time out there. Save the money, unless you want a little extra square footage for space. The rooms are very well maintained, with twice daily maid service. Chocolate is left on your pillow nightly. We all left our room attendant $20. Remember the lower the deck and more midline the room, the less the sway. Service The waiters, bartenders, and naturalists are superb. Always service with a smile! All the naturalists were knowledgeable and fun. We all tipped the servers who spent the most time waiting on us. Food The food is uniformly good, not great. We never made it to breakfast. The theme buffet lunches were our favorite meal. There was always a large variety of entrees, salads and incredibly yummy desserts. Dinner was by menu, and usually took 2 hours. The dining room got louder by the day, because more friendships were being made. Do not order the beef! People hated the beef dishes, saying the beef tasted briney. Even the hamburgers tasted off. Stick with the fish and chicken or vegetarian dishes. Entertainment After two excursions per day, most people were too tired to attend the 9:30pm entertainment. We did not attend any evening activities. On our voyage, less than 50% attended. Quito and Altitude Approx 5% of the cruisers got altitude sickness in Quito. If you are worried you may fall ill, ask your doctor for Diamox and dexamethasone to bring with you, with instructions on how to take it. The arranged tour the day before embarkation was very interesting. It took us to the central old town and to the Equatorial Monument. A delicious lunch was served at a 'safe' restaurant. Disembarkation We were told to vacate our rooms by 8am. A full breakfast was available, then people congregated in the lounge until 9am, when boarding passes were distributed. At 9:30, the pangas started taking groups to the dock, where a bus was ready for a very short ride to the airport. We were immediately herded past the small shops to the screening area and usher to the "VIP" waiting area, which is really a roped off part of the terminal. There is no air conditioning, and the wait is 2- 2.5 hours. We kindly asking if we could visit the shops but were declined. It's a shame because we had money to spend and the items were what most of us were looking for- Galapagos hats and cute T'shirts for grandchildren. Overall, we really enjoyed this trip, but will not return. It is now crossed off our bucket list! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
My husband and I are in our early 40s and this was our second trip on Xpedition. We took the 10-night cruisetour in Sept. 2007 and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to return. We decided to take the 13-night Galapagos cruise B with Machu ... Read More
My husband and I are in our early 40s and this was our second trip on Xpedition. We took the 10-night cruisetour in Sept. 2007 and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to return. We decided to take the 13-night Galapagos cruise B with Machu Picchu this time. Xpedition only had a single itinerary last time so we had a hard time picking between the A and B itineraries for this trip. There were aspects of each that we really wanted to see again. North Seymour Island was the deciding factor for us since that was our favorite stop from the previous trip. We booked cabin 502 (same as previous cruise) to be close to the Blue Finch Bar. On our previous cruise, the bar was open so we were able to run out the door, get drinks, and return to our cabin - very convenient. The bar was never open for this cruise so we had to go downstairs to deck 4 for drinks, but not really a big deal. We recognized some faces from our previous cruise. The cabin layout was changed slightly to add a loveseat, which made it more cramped than before but we managed. There is adequate storage in the cabin and in the bathroom. The beds are not very comfortable at all - thin, lumpy mattresses. I asked about getting a foam pad for the bed but was told they don't have any. There is only 1 -110V outlet but a couple 220V outlets. My camera battery charger will use either so I was able to charge my batteries off the 220V and use the 110V for other things. I noticed when I had my laptop plugged into the 110V supply that the power would fluctuate quite a bit. My battery symbol would change from "charging" to "battery" every few seconds. A couple people onboard mentioned that their camera batteries didn't seem to be charging correctly. I didn't have a problem with mine - the 220V supply seemed steady. The internet connection (Wifi) was unreliable. We were initially given 3 free hours. I used about 10 minutes of mine then lost the connection and couldn't get it back to log out. I lost all my minutes but was given more after I mentioned the problem at guest services. There were many times that I was unable to connect at all. The staff at guest services told me that I was the only person onboard who was having problems and it was because I was using a Windows based computer (which she called "obsolete technology") rather than an iPad. As she was explaining that I needed to buy an iPad, another passenger using an iPad came in to complain that he couldn't get a connection. I could understand if she had said the connection will be slow or even non-existant since we were in the Galapagos, but saying the problem was due to my using WIndows didn't make any sense. I think overall the food was better this trip than last time. Xpedition offered a nice variety of choices and I was mostly satisfied. There were a few things (chicken and grilled items) that turned out dry. The ship was still having problems with stabilizers. I didn't get seasick, but I was almost rolled out of bed one night due to the ship's rocking. We had problems with drawers and doors opening/closing due to the rocking. It was very annoying at night. We tied the handles together on the closet to hold them closed. We shoved Kleenex between the drawers and casing to keep them from opening/closing. Those are tricks we picked up from previous cruises where we had occasional problems. On Xpedition it was every night. In general the guides do a good job of explaining the excursions available. The one failing was Sullivan Bay. I don't think they correctly depicted how rough the terrain really was for the longer hike. The trail was a dry landing but required being able to take a large step out of the rocking zodiac then walking across sharp lava rocks with loose stones. I am very mobile and brought hiking shoes with ankle support so I was fine. It was also very sunny that day so the black lava rocks were really hot. An elderly couple on the tour did not realize how bad the trail was. They were having problems keeping up with the rest of the group. I informed our guide that they had dropped way back and we should let them catch up. His reply was they should have picked another excursion and he kept walking. I agree that they should not have taken this walk, but I was upset that the guide showed such disregard for their safety. If one of them had fallen, they could have been seriously injured on the sharp rocks. Celebrity does a fanastic job with the Galapagos portion of the trip. I only wish the Machu Picchu portion had been that good. Of the passengers onboard, 24 of us continued to Lima. We flew from Baltra to Quito on the charter flight with the all the other passengers from Xpedition. Once in Quito, we were told that we would have to wait about 10 minutes for our luggage to get off the plane before checking our bags for the flight to Lima. We were left standing in the middle of the terminal for almost an hour before our luggage showed up. We checked in for our flight to Lima then had another couple of hours to wait at the airport for the flight. Celebrity booked us at the Colony Club hotel in Lima, which is a beautiful facility. However, by the time we arrived in Lima, got through immigration and customs, and spent an hour driving to the hotel, it was almost 11 PM by the time we got to our rooms. We had to leave in the morning to drive back to the airport to catch our flight to Cusco so we were only in the room for about 9 hours. I would have preferred a hotel closer to the airport to eliminate the hour transit time each way. We stayed at the Montesario Hotel in Cusco, which is a converted monastery. The rooms are rather small but the location is nice. When we arrived at the hotel, my checked bag was missing. Our guide didn't seem to understand why I was upset about the missing bag. He kept telling me that I needed to go on a tour and I could find my bag later. I was adament that I needed that bag since it had almost all of my clothes. He eventually agreed to have another staff member look for it. It had been delivered to the wrong room and was finally located. I also noticed that my name was misspelled on the paperwork for the hotel. I pointed this out to our guide who said it wasn't a problem. It was true that it wasn't a problem for the hotel but would be a problem later. We were divided into 2 groups of 12 for the tours, each with a guide. I was not impressed with the quality of our guide. She didn't like to answer questions and would repeat the same information several times. A couple times when people asked questions she would say that she didn't want to discuss that right now. Several people in the other group had nothing but praise for their guide so I wished we had been in his group. We saw several of the Incan sites in the Sacred Valley but also got stuck doing the obligatory cruiseline shop tours. I would rather skip the alpaca sweater shop and silver shop since those items hold no interest for me. I know some people feel that a cruiseline approved shop is preferable and many people made purchases at the shops. The train ride to Machu Picchu was nice but I wished we had a couple more hours to spend there. The city is facinating and really needs a full day to explore it rather than just the 3 hours we had. We returned to Lima the day after Machu Picchu. When I checked in for the flight from Cusco, the agent informed me that the names on my passport and boarding pass didn't match. Celebrity had booked the flight and had misspelled my name again. I asked the agent what would happen and he told me that I might not be allowed on the plane and would have to buy another ticket if one was available using my correctly spelled name. I was upset since I had expected Celebrity to make sure my information was correct. My name was spelled correctly for all the Galapagos paperwork. I informed our guide again about the misspelling of my name and asked what would happen if they wouldn't let me board the plane. He shrugged it off and said I would be responsible for purchasing another ticket and getting to Lima on my own. I know how strict they are about passport name exactly matching the boarding pass name for US flights so I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fly to Lima with the group. Since it wasn't long before our flight, my husband and I wanted to go through security rather than sitting in the lounge to see if I would have a problem. Our Celebrity guide wouldn't come with us so we went on our own. The agent at the security area didn't speak English very well so she had us move aside while she called another agent over who spoke some English. He asked us a few questions before speaking to the first agent in Spanish. My Spanish is very limited and from the way they were gesturing, I kept thinking that they weren't going to let me through, but he finally gave me my passport and boarding pass and let me into the gate area. I was so relieved that I must have said "Gracias" a dozen times. The flight was uneventful after that and we arrived in Lima around noon. We were supposed to make a 45 minute stop at a museum then have lunch. Our guide got bogged down in the details at the museum so our 45-minute stop took over 1.5 hours. We continued the tour and were supposed to have some time at the end to visit a few shops but our guide said we had taken too much time at the museum so no shopping. I was a disappointed because I wanted to pick up something for a nephew. I really enjoyed the Galapagos cruise. I don't know that I would do it a third time, but the second trip was definitely worthwhile since we got to see the islands during dry season previously and rainy season this time. The tour of Machu Picchu was a reminder of why I stopped taking ship tours. I thought it would be nice to leave the planning details to someone else, but I realized what a mistake that was. I prefer to set my own pace and make my own arrangements for what I want to see. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
There are countless reviews on Cruise Critic about the Galapagos cruise on the Celebrity Xpedition and we echo the glowing reports already posted. So instead I am going to concentrate on only those items that we learned while on the ... Read More
There are countless reviews on Cruise Critic about the Galapagos cruise on the Celebrity Xpedition and we echo the glowing reports already posted. So instead I am going to concentrate on only those items that we learned while on the cruise that can help others in their preparation or while on their cruise. Our trip was during the hot and wet season (early April 2013). The Celebrity Xpedition With only 98 passengers, you will get to know most people on a first name basis quickly. The staff was terrific and ever attentive to your needs. All staff come from either the Galapagos Islands or the Ecuadorean mainland and are very proud of their country and speak very good English. One bartender got to know us so well that when he saw us approaching the ship in the panga coming back from an excursion he made us our favorite returning drinks, ice teas and glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. As mentioned in at least another review, you can order dinner to be served to you outside on the Beagle Grill. Dining room seating is always open seating at any time the DR is open and at rounds of 6-10 people. Breakfast and lunch is always buffet style with lunch sometimes offered both in the DR as well as a BBQ on the Beagle Grill. The food was generally very good with only a few chicken dishes that were dry. I don't know why other posters said the beef was not good, but several friends we met on the cruise that had the beef, said it was fine. We always tried to eat the fish of the day and it was very good. Since it is a small ship, there is one bar and a small ship's store on board. The ship's store does stock several microfiber clothing items as well as sunscreen and toothpaste. Your cabin attendant will change dirty or wet towels three times per day so you also have a fresh set. The beds are spartan by today's cruise ship standards- no box spring, lumpy and uncomfortable. I would recommend packing either a small power strip or a 3 in 1 electrical plug for charging electronic devices as there are only two outlets in most cabins; either the one above the bathroom sink or unplugging the television. There is limited wi-fi on the ship with the best signal in the Explorer lounge. Only 8 people can be on at one time and many forget to logoff when finished. Passengers Since this trip is a "bucket list" item for most passengers, the average age is 60+. There were a few families with children on our trip as well. Most were from the US, Canada, Australia or the UK. Everyone was very friendly, well-educated and animal friendly. This is not a cruise for those people that are mobility impaired. Entering and exiting the pangas over rocky terrain and the rocky uneven ground would present major obstacles to those people. When you get your pre-cruise booklet, you will note the baggage weight limitations of 40 lbs. for checked baggage and 14 lbs. for carry-on items. Once we got to Quito, our guide told us the weight limitation was 20 kg. or 45 lbs. for checked luggage but said it was only a guide. No one weighed our carry-on items. Excursions Fifteen minutes each day before dinner is served, the tour director will review the excursion options for the upcoming day. He will describe the type of terrain you will walk on, whether it is a wet or dry landing and the wildlife you might encounter. There are usually 2 options in the morning and afternoon (short or long walks) and on at least one day we had a third excursion offered which was a deep water snorkel. You sign up for the excursion with one of the naturalists as you leave the Explorer Lounge and walk to the DR. You can change your mind at any time on which excursion you want to go on. None of the walks exceeded 2 miles but the terrain can be very rocky or steep. Try to pick out a group with similar abilities to you as you board the pangas. Non-adjustable walking sticks are available as you board the pangas. We brought along our own collapsible trekking poles and used them frequently. Clothing Dress aboard the Xpedition is extremely casual. If I could sum up the clothing in one word it would be "microfiber"! We wore shorts and convertible pants with t-shirts and SS collared shirts to every meal. The only thing the crew does not want in the dining room is wet and dirty clothing. Our foot wear was sandals and sneakers. But more about foot wear later on. Be sure to bring one or more of the wide brim/floppy hats with draw strings. Baseball caps are not useful in blocking the sun and loose floppy hats with no drawstring will fly off during a panga trip. Definitely do not bring suits, jackets, ties or fancy dress shoes. When you pack, plan on changing clothing between the morning excursion and the afternoon excursion during hot days. If you wash clothes while on the cruise, bear in mind that hanging space in an oceanview cabin is very limited. Rain Gear We only packed and used one lightweight waterproof rain jacket. One the one day it was raining when our panga excursion departed, Celebrity provided ponchos which were big enough to cover the backpacks as well. We sprayed our hiking shoes several times with waterproof material prior to the trip but still had to change socks for the afternoon excursion. We also brought waterproof bags from REI that were used to protect the cameras. Foot wear Highly recommend low cut hiking shoes on many of the walks. You will be walking over loose rocks, lava fields and other assorted terrain and we felt hiking shoes gave us comfort and support on all the hikes. We liked the closed-toe footwear as you might pick up small stones or lava sand in open-toed shoes. On some beach excursions, sandals or water shoes are fine. Dining room footwear was either sandals or sneakers. Water For every excursion, bring one bottle of water in your fanny pack or backpack. Bottled water is available in three places as you board your excursion. First, bottled water is re-stocked every day in your cabin refrigerator. You can also pick up a bottle of water in Explorer lounge which almost everyone passes thru on the way to the pangas. Lastly, there is a cooler on the deck where you get your lifejackets that is also stocked but does run out if many forget the first two options. Pangas The pangas, AKA Zodiacs, are RIBs (ridgid inflatable boats) and all guests sit on the sides of the pangas. Each panga holds a maximum of 16 people (8 per side) plus a naturalist, a driver and sometimes an additional crew member. Pangas are used to bring people to and from the ship as the ship does not dock at any time. For excursions where you are going to be sightseeing on a panga/zodiac, try to be in the front 2 people on each side to get the best pictures. Those sitting in the back are constrained in movement. Panga drivers will almost always turn the pangas so people on both sides get chances to see the wildlife. Most panga rides last 5 to 20 minutes unless they are an excursion ride. Alcohol In a word "unlimited". Whether you want a frozen drink, mixed drink, on the rocks or straight up, they will make it for you with pleasure. We are wine drinkers so wines offered on board the Xpedition were from Chile and Argentina and included Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and some others. As far as we know, no Italian wines such as Pinto Grigio or Chianti are carried on the ship. Sea Sickness The Xpedition is a small ship as you probably already know. It is a relatively flat bottom boat that allows it to anchor close to the islands. However, it has no stabilization and on several days and nights we experienced very strong rocking of the boat that caused drawers and doors in the cabin to open and close automatically. If you are prone to sea sickness, be sure to have all your Rx and OTC products with you. You will probably need them! Wet and Dry Landings The pangas are propelled by a 100hp motor and with tilting the engine, they can get pretty close to shore. The wet landings are done on beaches. You swivel on your butt at the front sides of the panga and slide off into a foot of water or less and then walk to land. Brown towels are available, from the cabin attendant, which are the ones you should bring with you for beach activities. Dry landings take place on rocky edges where you walk off the panga at the bow with the help of the naturalist who is already on the rocks or at town docks where there were bus excursions. We hiked with backpacks and other guests had fanny or waist packs. Due to the uneven terrain you will encounter and the entering and exiting of the pangas, you will need some sort of bag that will leave your hands free. Cameras No doubt everyone wants to remember this trip with pics. Some of the wildlife is visible close to the walking trails or from the panga during an excursion. But most of the wildlife is either farther away or higher up. We brought 3 cameras with us. A small pocket Nikon P8000, a larger P&S Nikon P100 and a DSLR Nikon D5100. The Nikon P100 has a 26x optical zoom which allowed some close in shots but the best wildlife pics we took came from the Nikon D5100 with a 70-300mm lens. Some passengers were shooting with 400mm lens and at least one passenger was using a Canon D20 underwater camera and got some great marine life shots. If you plan to use a cell phone camera or a small P&S with little or no optical zoom, you will not get good pictures. If you are planning on taking pictures with a tablet device-forget it! Snorkeling We went on almost every snorkeling excursion and saw plenty of marine life. Wet suits are available to everyone as is other snorkeling gear. We only wore the wet suits once as the guides advised us that the water was colder at that location. Ever other time we just wore swim shirts to avoid sunburn. Besides a wide variety of fish, we saw rays, turtles, sea lions and boobies diving. Some others on the trip saw sharks. Get your equipment early as some of the sizes are limited and some of the equipment is damaged and needs replacing. Quito Your cruise/tour generally starts and ends in Quito. Quito is approx. 9300 ft. above sea level and you might experience shortness of breath. If you are prone to altitude sickness, bring medications! The day long tour of the city was very nice and we saw some memorable churches and public buildings. Lunch was served in the Quito Opera house and we were entertained by an opera singer during lunch and he was fantastic! At night we went to a restaurant called Carmine (see my review in Trip Advisor-JerseyShore2) and had a memorable meal with great service. In case you did not already know, the currency in Ecuador is the U.S. dollar. Your tour bus will be accompanied by a guide and an unarmed security guard. Quito has problems with pickpockets and jewelry thieves. The guides will tell you not to wear loose fitting jewelry of to have open handbags or open pants pockets with money in them. Pay attention to that warning since one member of our tour party wore a gold chain with a cross and had it stolen. Street thieves work in groups and hand off stolen articles to other members on the run. The thief was caught by the security guards but the chain and cross were not recovered. Hotel At the beginning and at the end of the cruise, we were booked into the Marriott hotel in downtown Quito by Celebrity. Since the new airport was fully operational on our trip, the travel time from the airport to the Marriott can vary from 45 minutes (at 1AM) to almost 2 hours (5PM). Some of the people on our trip were booked into a hotel much nearer the airport and I would recommend asking Celebrity to book you there if you have an early morning departure flight. Our return flight to Miami was at 6:30AM and the shuttle left the Marriott at 3AM! Final Hours As I said earlier, the staff was very attentive during the cruise; however, once the cruise was over, it was like we didn't exist. On the final day, baggage was collected at 6AM. Breakfast was served from 6AM till 8AM, at which time everyone is asked to move to the Explorer lounge or outside on the Beagle Grill. We waited for almost 2 hours before the pangas started to move people to shore for the buses to the airport. During the 2 hours we did not see one staff member nor was there any water or other beverages to drink so bring a bottle of water from your stateroom. We waited at the airport for almost 3 hours before boarding the charter flight back to Quito. Our luggage did not arrive until 2 hours after we arrived at the hotel. The Celebrity representatives at the hotel (sub-contractors-not Celebrity employees) seemed confused on where the luggage was. With all that said, it was a fantastic experience Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
My wife has had the Galapagos on her bucket list forever and we decided that if we wanted to really enjoy it we should go when we are able. It is not your typical cruise. Celebrity's Expedition is set up for adventure. While the ... Read More
My wife has had the Galapagos on her bucket list forever and we decided that if we wanted to really enjoy it we should go when we are able. It is not your typical cruise. Celebrity's Expedition is set up for adventure. While the staterooms and food were satisfactory, this is not your typical high end cruise. The boat only accommodates about 90 people, which was just the right amount for a cruise like this. Each day would start at another island with private naturalists accompanying small groups to that morning's activity. These were broken up into easy and moderate types of hikes or snorkeling. While the actual activities were not difficult, it was hard for some to partake, as it might include climbing off a zodiac boat onto lava rocks. The scenery and wildlife were breathtaking and the staff and service on this boat were equal to anything I have experienced on a Crystal Cruise or a Four Seasons hotel. Absolutely phenomenal. The boat itself was a perfect size for moving through the islands, but be aware that due to its size and poor stabilizers it moves and rolls quite a bit. One night was so bad that things were crashing off the shelves in my room and a water bottle came off the night table and struck me in the head. The food service was terrific, but please be aware that the food on this cruise is not up to Celebrity's typical standards. After speaking with some of the staff it was mentioned to us that the location of this cruise doesn't make it possible to stock the boat with all the finer things one might expect. Overall this was truly a fantastic experience. The Celebrity staff took care of us from the second we stepped off the plane in Quito and until we boarded the plane home. It was an incredible 10 days and my wife can now scratch it off her list. I wonder what's next? Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
We took the eight-day Galapagos cruise on the Celebrity Xpedition. While the Galapagos animals and environment are the core of the trip, Celebrity does finesse the supporting logistics. Like many visitors, we weighed up the big ship/small ... Read More
We took the eight-day Galapagos cruise on the Celebrity Xpedition. While the Galapagos animals and environment are the core of the trip, Celebrity does finesse the supporting logistics. Like many visitors, we weighed up the big ship/small ship option. The Xpedition, at 100 pax, is the largest vessel operating in the Galapagos. Other vessels are 15-20 pax. Some friends said a larger ship may not be able to get close in, maybe Zodiac transfers will take longer? But we detected no difference and these guys are good at mobilising people into boats. So, any delays would be more than compensated by having much more space, menu variations and other 'large boat' facilities, like the spa. Airport meet and greet arrangements were good, as were transfers between Quito and Baltra, the embarkation port. The charter flight was good - B737 with meal service for a two-hour flight. The JW Marriott in Quito is a fine hotel and the day tour of Quito was first rate. Baggage arrangements were also first class. The vessel is well suited to the locale, which is essentially a new island or site every day, with a morning and afternoon excursion. There is enough time to rest up between the morning and afternoon excursions. The vessel is flat-bottomed with shallow draught, so is subject to a lot of lateral movement, even at anchor. Cabins are comfortable, a bit small (except suites on decks 5 and 6). Bathrooms are good and bedding acceptable. Staff on board were hard to fault in any way. Bar service was fantastic and service in the restaurants was terrific. The Maitre de, Se'or Fernando, is one of the most attentive hosts we have encountered in many years of travel. One evening, when the restaurant was crowded and I mentioned I had a hearing problem, Sr. Fernando set up a table on an outside deck (upper level) and personally delivered our dinner and poured the wine! Quite exceptional. This gentleman should be cloned by all cruise lines. The cruise director, Sr Jorge was also first rate. The naturalists were excellent, and exhibited broad knowledge of flora, fauna and landscape. One of the primary interests for us was the geology and geomorphology of the Galapagos. And the ocean currents and climatic issues. While the guides satisfied most general queries, they may not have the depth required for the visitor with a strong interest in this area. In summary, spend more time in pre-reading on geomorphology and climate and less on the animals. The naturalists know the animals backwards. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2013
Xpedition is billed as a "luxury" cruise in the Galapagos. The reality is that the Galapagos islands are a long way from anywhere (600 miles off the coast of Ecuador), in a challenging environment, so any cruise line operating ... Read More
Xpedition is billed as a "luxury" cruise in the Galapagos. The reality is that the Galapagos islands are a long way from anywhere (600 miles off the coast of Ecuador), in a challenging environment, so any cruise line operating there will face challenges. I believe it would be practically impossible to create a true luxury experience in the Galapagos. The Xpedition is as good as you're going to get, but you have to realize that some elements will not be luxurious. The air-conditioning on the ship strains to keep up with the heat and humidity, particularly on the upper decks (5 and 6). We passed some uncomfortably hot nights in our XS suite on the 6th (top) deck. The motion of the ship is significant. Frequently the drawers, closet door and shower door in our suite would start banging open and closed in the middle of the night because of wave motion. One night the motion was so bad that a wine glass on the counter in a high-sided, boxlike tray provided by the ship, flew out of the tray and smashed all over the place. We are not affected by seasickness, so this was only mildly annoying to us. If you are susceptible, get a patch or pills, because the ship does move a lot. The food is adequate. Don't expect the quality and presentation you may have experienced on larger cruise ships. They are working with local suppliers, so the quality of the products they get is variable. The fish was always pretty good, as were the pasta dishes. Salads were so-so. A lot of things that should have been cold (sushi, salads, etc.) were lukewarm. I kept expecting to get food poisoning because of that, but we were fine, so I guess their sanitation is good. Like Ecuadorean food in general, we found the food on the Xpedition pretty bland but also relatively healthy (few heavy sauces, lots of grilled stuff). Desserts were very good and breads quite good. The excursions are fantastic. The scenery is great, the animals are of course amazing, and the naturalists are top-notch. Some naturalists are better than others in various ways: some are more enthusiastic, some have better English skills, some are more safety-oriented than others. They are uniformly well-informed about the animals and plants, though. I think it's nice that the naturalists are assigned to the Zodiacs randomly, as they all have different things to offer, and this allows you to experience different approaches. (Apparently in at least one competing program, people are assigned to the same naturalist for the entire trip!) The ship's staff are all eager to please, which is especially impressive because there's no tipping. The ship's facilities are limited, as you'd expect on such a small craft: the "fitness center" is a bit of a joke, etc. But everything is well-thought-out for the specific purpose of the cruise, which is the excursions to the islands. They have efficient systems for handling the snorkel equipment, loading the Zodiacs, etc. I was very impressed with that. If you're considering this trip, please do a realistic self-evaluation of your fitness and health status. This is not a trip to Disneyland! There are real dangers, and we saw people who were way out of their depth and hurt themselves or others. Several had to be rescued. This itinerary is best done while you're still pretty agile and able to do a reasonable amount of physical activity. If you're unsteady on your feet or have brittle bones, this is not for you: you are going to have to get in and out of a rocking Zodiac. If you want to do some of the best excursions, you'll need to hop over the side of the Zodiac onto shifting sand in shallow waves. You'll have to pick your way over sharp lava rocks. If you can't walk a mile over uneven ground, do yourself a favor and don't go on this cruise! If you can't handle heat and humidity, forget it. That said, you just need to be reasonably fit and have decent balance. You don't have to be an Iron Man competitor. My husband and I are both overweight and I have bad knees, but we can and do walk/hike 3-10 miles a day on a regular basis. We are both good swimmers and know how to snorkel. We managed the excursions just fine, though I skipped one that involved hundreds of stairs. Sadly, too many people on our cruise didn't seem to have realistic ideas about their own abilities, probably because they never do any physical activity outdoors. Before you go, find out: can I walk up 300 stairs? How about 10 uneven, slippery stone stairs? Can I hop from one little boulder to another? Do I know how to snorkel? Can I swim in a current? etc. That will help you assess whether this trip is for you. The majority (I'd say 8 out of 10) of the "long" or "hard" version of the excursions are not that taxing, as long as you're even moderately fit and healthy. I did a couple of the "easy" or "short" excursions and thought they were a waste of time -- riding around in a Zodiac was hot and usually boring. The hikes are where you see all the best stuff. If you can't manage most of the longer/harder excursions, I feel you'd be wasting your money. In terms of seeing wildlife, there are only 6 excursions I would consider "must-do's" -- and it wasn't always clear from the descriptions which fell into that category. We were on the B itinerary and I felt the best excursions by far were Puerto Egas, Rabida, Elizabeth Bay (the only worthwhile all-Zodiac/no-hike excursion), Las Bachas, North Seymour (DO NOT MISS - nesting site for frigates and boobies) and Santa Cruz Highlands (only opportunity to see giant tortoises in the wild). I don't mean to be discouraging about taking this cruise. Visiting the Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we felt it was well worth the trip. But it can be challenging in some respects, so be prepared. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
The experience is amazing. The comments and reflections by others adequately sum up the experience. I was impressed on the life boat drill. In my many years of cruising it was perhaps the best that I have experienced. Unlike the larger ... Read More
The experience is amazing. The comments and reflections by others adequately sum up the experience. I was impressed on the life boat drill. In my many years of cruising it was perhaps the best that I have experienced. Unlike the larger cruise ships, they had life boat space for all passengers and ample rafts in the event that a life boat could not be launched. Our cabin was on deck four -- the same as the lounge/bar area which was convenient as there are no elevators on the ship. The air conditioning on decks three and four is very good vs. the larger suites on decks 5 & 6 which have more glass (remember you are in the tropics on the equator) and more roll. There was a library in the lounge area -- but the books on the Galapagos were under lock and key. Go figure. However, there are some areas which could provide for a better experience. The on deck galley the Beagle Grill was the greatest disappointment. The hamburgers were spiced and were awful. There was no salad bar and the grill was closed in the evening. It would be a great addition to the dining experience to be able to dine on a limited menu alfresco on the deck in the evening. One night could be pizza night, the next grilled chicken etc. Seating could be limited and there was adequate cover for four tables which would be protected from rain showers. It took hours to feed the passengers ( typically more than two ) in the "formal" dining room. On the next to last night I requested a set menu on deck for four of us. We were attended to by the bar tender. It was pure magic! The next night I observed the captain and his staff following our lead. SilverSea will initiate service in the Galapagos with a new ship this October. On most of their ships they offer alfresco dining using a "hot rock" on each table for grilling steak, chicken or sea food when weather permits. I can only assume that they will offer an alfresco dining experience. Although the Silver Sea base price is almost $1,600 more, I would chose their standard room over comparatively priced upper level rooms and suites on the Celebrity X. SilverSea provide serious competition in this luxury market. We took the post trip trip to Peru to see the Inca sites and Cuzco. There was too much air and bus travel. I would omit the trip and return home after the cruise portion. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We booked our recent cruise on the Xpedition in May 2012 and with much anticipation finally departed the US midwest at the end of January 2013. Since we always do our own air we decided to go to Quito a few days early to both escape the ... Read More
We booked our recent cruise on the Xpedition in May 2012 and with much anticipation finally departed the US midwest at the end of January 2013. Since we always do our own air we decided to go to Quito a few days early to both escape the cold weather and to see the sights. Quito was easy to get to; a three hour flight to Miami and then four hours to Quito arriving early evening. We booked our room at the Marriott which is the same place Celebrity books people so there was no problem with accommodations. We had our own guides for the first two days and visited the Cocopaxi National Park and visited the highest volcano in the world and afterwards had lunch at a small nearby hacienda. A gourmet dinner at the Theatrum in Quito topped that day. The next day we drove with a different guide to Otavalo and Cotacachi for some shopping and sightseeing. This guide was Christian Valencia who was one of the best guides we haver ever had. The next day we joined the main group from Xpedition for tours of Quito and then the next day flew to Baltra on a charter flight. This is where the actual cruise began. The ship was perfect for this type of trip. In our case very friendly like minded North Americans, Brits and some Aussies. About 96 pax. People were interested in the Galapagos and generally more highly educated and knowledgeable. Zodiacs were the prime form of transportation to and from the ship. At least twice a day we left the ship to go ashore or snorkeling, morning and afternoon. Generally off the ship by 8 AM and back for lunch. Then back on the Zodiac mid afternoon to see more. They avoided the heat of the day and besides there was lunch to consider. Each Zodiac had a driver and a naturalist. The naturalists could not have been better! All locals with a great command of English, a good sense of humor, delight in their work, very knowledgable and especially safety conscious. We saw an exceptional amount of wildlife: land iguanas, sea iguanas, blue footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, crabs, sharks, rays, star fish, sea turtles, tortoises, pelicans and untold numbers of other birds. We missed whales and albatross as they were somewhere else. Breakfast and lunch were buffet with open seating and dinner was open seating with wait staff and a menu. Staff was excellent. All drinks were included but really the ship was quiet by around 10-11 PM as morning came early. This was a great trip for nature. Some agility needed but not a big deal as most hikes were easy. Snorkeling was safe and water warm. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2013
We took the 7 day cruise to the Galapagos and the add-on land trip portion to Machu Picchu. The entire trip was amazing! As far as the cruise to the Galapagos: -if you like nature: animals, fish, geology, land formations, climatology ... Read More
We took the 7 day cruise to the Galapagos and the add-on land trip portion to Machu Picchu. The entire trip was amazing! As far as the cruise to the Galapagos: -if you like nature: animals, fish, geology, land formations, climatology and watching evolution in action, you can't get much better than this. Every day we saw a wide variety of birds, fish, amphibians as well as insects. The variety was amazing as was the camouflage! We saw turtles, tortoises, land and sea iguanas, fur seals, sea lions,a huge variety of birds including the Blue Boobies, manta rays, penguins, etc, etc. We enjoyed snorkeling and appropriate equipment was provided to us. -the cruise director and naturalists were top notch especially William Cox, Marvin and Fatima. They were very informative, knowledgeable, personable and enthusiastic. All scheduled activities were punctual and well organized and went off without a hitch. I liked the daily reviews of the following day's two activities and the choices given for easy and more challenging options. The zodiac drivers were well trained and skilled in maneuvering the boats with the currents and rocks as challenges in navigation. -I enjoyed some of the on-board educational presentations especially the BBC two-part shows on the Galapagos and the in-person conversations with the Galapagos-born naturalists. -as I am more accustomed to fancier cruise ships, it took me a while to adjust to the more 'basic' nature of this Xpedition. However the rooms were an adequate size and were well-kept. The showers were a decent size too. I think the common areas could use some updating though. The food ranged from very good to needing improvement [e.g. salads tended to be water-laden]. However they had some nice food events including one of the best BBQ lunches I have ever had [BBQ'd lobsters!!!!!!]. The fish choices on the dinner menu were great and I had one daily. I also enjoyed the freshly made omelets for breakfast. Fernando was fantastic - always concerned, hard working and smiling.The land portion to Machu Picchu: -this was fantastic! The main guide, Cesar, was highly organized and took excellent care of all details! Everything went off without a hitch including flights, transfers, hotel stays, tours and restaurant meals. -the restaurants and hotels used were of exceptional quality. In particular, Lo Monasterio in Cusco was the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at. -the day tours of Cusco, to Sacred Valley and to Machu Picchu were well run. The train ride to Machu Picchu was not only beautiful scenery-wise but the service was top notch. -the natural beauty of this area was outstanding and the archeology and history fascinating. -my only concern was that not enough time was given to adjust to the altitude in Cusco particularly after travelling the whole previous day. Instead of launching right into a day tour, we should have been given the first day to do leisurely activities in order to adjust to the altitude and also to rest. Overall, both the cruise and land portions of this outstanding trip were excellent and I really have no significant complaints but praise and gratitude for all involved staff!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2013
Celebrity Xpedition is comparable to the Regent, Crystal & Silversea cruises we have taken with regards to how you are treated on board. Our cruise stared in Quito, Ecaudor with a two night stay in the J.W. Marriott Hotel. This was ... Read More
Celebrity Xpedition is comparable to the Regent, Crystal & Silversea cruises we have taken with regards to how you are treated on board. Our cruise stared in Quito, Ecaudor with a two night stay in the J.W. Marriott Hotel. This was a very nice hotel. For future cruisers my only concern is that next week the new Quito Airport opens which is nearly two hours outside of town. I'm not sure how the flights home will work. We spent two night in Quito. Our second day included a city tour which was well done and included lunch and dinner. Both meals were in the city and was a great chance to get to know our fellow passengers. We flew to Baltra on a chartered A319 jet for the two hour flight to Baltra. Celebrity put all suite guests in Business Class and allowed other passengers to upgrade for $222 round trip. The plane was very nice. Upon arrival in Baltra we waited in an area at the airport (not air conditioned) while all of the passengers were cleared. Celebrity takes your luggage from the Hotel in Quito to the Ship so you don't have to worry about that. Good news is that a new terminal building is being built in Baltra which will hopefully be air conditioned. A short bus ride followed to a dock where we were tendered on Zodiacs to the ship. The ship never docks during the trip so you will be tendered everywhere. Some are dry landings and others you step out into the water. The cruise manager keeps everyone updated on the type of landing so you can wear appropriate shoes. We stayed in the Penthouse Suite (601) which was very nice. It is on the top deck of the ship and had 460 s.f. of space with a separate living and sleeping area. It is located on the the front of the ship and we had a large deck which included our own private jacuzzi which was very nice in evening to sit out and enjoy the evenings. The food and beverages are first class. Everything is included..... Shore excursions were amazing. The ship had two or three different types of excursions based on passengers capacity. Some were long walks which a snorkel trip and for others who didn't want to be out in the sun so much they did a zodiac tour of the islands with a short walk. We saw so much wildlife which is why we went....and we weren't disappointed...... It is hot in the Galapagos.....it is on the equator. Clothing is very casual. We took way too many nice things. Clothing is normally shorts and t-shirts or Columbia style pants and shirts. All meals were also very casual. Some people dressed up more at night than others....but nothing dressy. Shorts and golf shirts were fine for men....women were normally in shorts or sun dresses. Best parts of cruise........what you get to see and the staff on the ship. Both were amazing. Worst parts of the cruise.....the sitting at the airport in Baltra in the heat while waiting when arriving and leaving. Celebrity should provide and air conditioned area for it's passengers. Maybe this will be taken care of with the new terminal. Also it rained the day we flew back to Quito and when we got our luggage I would guess 60% of the luggage had wet clothing inside. They offered to clean it at no charge but we were leaving too soon to get it back and many people for headed for other locations and had the same issue. I suggested getting those very large plastic zip bags and placing your clothing inside of them and then in your luggage. Overall.....a very active cruise and a wonderful experience. I will reply to anybody that has questions. I also have over 1,100 photos from the trip. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
We booked the 10 day Quito - Galapagos cruise package as for a few extra hundred dollars, three nights accommodation in Quito, return air to Baltra, transfers and some tours were included, making this very cost effective. Being part of a ... Read More
We booked the 10 day Quito - Galapagos cruise package as for a few extra hundred dollars, three nights accommodation in Quito, return air to Baltra, transfers and some tours were included, making this very cost effective. Being part of a tour group, however, has its drawbacks and we would probably not take part in one again. Meals on the land component were adequate, being rather mass produced, with limited choice of dishes, expected I supposed when catering to a large group. The JW Marriott in Quito is a first class hotel with comfortable rooms, expensive laundry and a very average Executive Club. Breakfasts in the bistro included the usual fare and egg station. Flights and transfers to the ship were generally efficiently handled, though we found that the Celebrity host at the hotel did not provide very good customer service at all. The ship had recently undergone a refit but unfortunately this has not been completed by the time of our cruise with the result that there was no gym or spa as well as construction continuing throughout the cruise. As well the Blue Finch Bar was not operating. The staff as is usually the case, provided excellent service and the naturalists were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about such a special place. The zodiac drivers were skillful at manoeuvring the zodiacs between rocks or through the swells. The ship suffers from considerable movement as a result of its design and on occasion the rolling was so severe as to knock bottles from the side tables in our cabin. What we were all there for, was of course the experience of the wildlife on the Galapagos and we were not disappointed. There were many and varied sightings including the waved albatross with fledgling chicks, blue boobies, turtles, sea lions, other birds, tortoises and iguanas galore. Shore excursions were well organised, though the last day's visit to the Darwin Breeding Centre seemed more an excuse to have passengers off the ship so that staff could prepare for the next group of passengers.Overall we had a fantastic experience but felt that there were a few issues that Celebrity should have addressed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We booked the 10 day cruise with Celebrity spending 3 nights in Quito at the Marriott and 7 nights on the Xpedition in the Galapagos. Celebrity took care of us from the time we stepped off the plane until it was time to get on the plane ... Read More
We booked the 10 day cruise with Celebrity spending 3 nights in Quito at the Marriott and 7 nights on the Xpedition in the Galapagos. Celebrity took care of us from the time we stepped off the plane until it was time to get on the plane and head home. We had a wonderful time in Quito. We arrived around 6:30 PM and entered Immigration and Customs. We spend almost 1 1/2 hours in the Immigration line. This was really frustrating. Everything had to be entered into the system by hand, and there were several flights arriving at the same time, and they only had 3 booths open. One was for nationals and the other two were for foreign visitors. This was really frustrating. After getting through Immigration and Customs, a Celebrity representative was waiting for us. She then took us through the airport as a group as we walked to the bus. We quickly boarded the bus and were off to the Marriott. The Marriott was a wonderful 6 star hotel. We could not find one thing wrong with it. The room was well appointed, modern, and clean. The breakfast buffet was excellent with lots of choices. We ate one meal at La Hacienda in the hotel on our final night, and it was also very good. The tours of the city were excellent. Celebrity provided a tour guide and security officer on each bus. We were informed that we should remove all necklaces. One person did not, and a thief ripped it from his neck. The security guard ended up getting it back, and Celebrity had it repaired. We toured the Old Town area and the Equator, and found them all to be very good. We flew from Quito to Baltra, and everything was first class. We had to wait a little while at the airport for the bus to the Xpedition. Again, everything went smoothly. The cruise itself was fabulous! The guides were knowledgeable and friendly. We enjoyed all of the hikes and snorkel activities including 2 deep water snorkels. We can't say enough about how great everything was. We saw so many animals and learned so much. We even went into the highlands to see the giant tortoises. We were super busy for the entire cruise, so there was no time for boredom. Breakfast started at 7:00, and dinner finished around 9:00. The cruise director has everything very organized. Each evening we would have a talk about what the next day would offer, and then we would sign up for activities. We pretty much chose the harder excursion each day, and they were not hard. Our cabin was just fine. It was actually the room that is located right over the anchor. There was a room open across the hallway, and it was offered to us. We declined. We were only in the room twice while the anchor was being moved. The cabin itself was minimal and very clean. The only two things that we found lacking was television and the food. For the price of this cruise, they could have provided satellite TV. Now, we didn't go to the Galapagos to sit in the room and watch television, but it would have been nice to have in the mornings and evenings. The food was just okay. Again, when paying these prices, we expected something more exciting. Breakfast was the same everyday! There was a nice buffet that had fresh fruits, breads, and the same hot dishes each day. The hot dishes were not very appetizing. They also had an omelet bar where you could also get eggs cooked to order. Lunch was a buffet with a different theme each day. Again, we do not like buffets. The food just isn't as good as food that is cooked to order. They also had a hot station each day with pizza and pasta. The grill was open on the outside deck with burgers, etc. The burgers were strange. We only ate there once. One day they had a barbecue where they grilled seafood, chicken, and steaks. This was very good. Dinner was a 3 course meal and was cooked to order. We found it good when we ordered the fish. The steaks were not good (strange taste, maybe a marinade), and I ordered vegetable lasagna that was inedible. It had no pasta in it. It was strange. During the week I had warm, not hot, soup, and did not eat two of the entrees. I do not consider myself a picky eater. The entertainment was pretty much non-existent, but that was okay since we were pretty tired by the time the meal was over. Overall, this is a great cruise and Celebrity takes good care of the guests. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
We are not inveterate cruisers, having been on two cruises before succumbing to the blandishments of seeing a place we had always had on our list. We flew to Quito and were quickly enveloped by the Celebrity on-site staff, transported ... Read More
We are not inveterate cruisers, having been on two cruises before succumbing to the blandishments of seeing a place we had always had on our list. We flew to Quito and were quickly enveloped by the Celebrity on-site staff, transported to our hotel and checked in with no fuss. The tour the subsequent day was illuminating and well done: the guides were knowledgeable and understandable. The flight from Quito to Baltra, the site of embarkation was easy. Be aware that if you book on he fifth floor you would expect first class seats on the plane. Transfer to the ship was uneventful, seamless. Celebrity Xpedition is a small boat, affording the possibility of feeling at home rather than being a guest. The stateroom on the fifth floor was spacious with a smallish balcony we never used and a reasonable bathroom/shower. Amenities were perfect: L'Ocitane. The shower was roomier than expected. The destination goes without saying: if you are going on this trip, you are going for the experience of nature. So be it. The quality of the naturalists was outstanding: One of the take-away memories I will cherish is that of one of the naturalists, Fatima, singing 'dancing on the lava' quietly to herself leading us, stumbling, across the unfamiliar rippled fields. Alexi did a dance the equal of a scoring wide receiver when he found a particularly rare animal for us to observe. They are proud of the the place and their expertise. The joy is infectious. The staff on board was their equal. Eduardo mixed great cocktails and when he didn't have grapefruit juice at hand for a Hemingway daiquiri, Carlos made sure to supply it, with a discussion of the niceties of different rums. Carlos Martinez, the maitre'd, was spectacular. His attention to detail throughout the day was unwavering. He would make any cruise memorable. The food was upscale, although my wife and I ate sparingly and mostly fruits for breakfast and lunch. Plenty to chose from with tasty pastas for a break from the meat dishes. The islands are breathtaking because of the wildlife, not the scenery necessarily. But you go for the animals and the exposure to them. The entertainment was provided by s few of the naturalists, the staff, and the passengers, especially Karaoke, the talent show, and the Equatorial Passage party. This is not a place to go for professional entertainment. Passage to Quito on return was marred by poor communication by the Celebrity people, the only complaint we had. We left the evening after returning to Quito and had a chance to visit the rain forest, the hummingbird sanctuary, and the orchids. Not to be missed!!! There are other choices of ships. Be careful. Some of the landings are tricky: the Celebrity zodiacs are large and have 100 hp Yamahas, making them stable and very maneuverable. The match of ship and place is unsurpassed, in my opinion. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
We did a lot of research before selecting this cruise. It is not a cheap investment to go on this ship. Almost all of the review are glowingly positive. Here were our experiences with this cruise. We purchased the before and after ... Read More
We did a lot of research before selecting this cruise. It is not a cheap investment to go on this ship. Almost all of the review are glowingly positive. Here were our experiences with this cruise. We purchased the before and after package and had only 1 minor issue. Our flight back home was very early in the morning (0610). The Quito airport does not open until 0400. Unfortunately our boarding passes were unable to be printed the night before. Celebrity had our bus to the airport scheduled at 0400. It did not leave on-time and it take 15+ minutes to get to the airport. This caused a bit of a panic when we arrived at the ticket counter and stood in line for almost 45min. For some passengers it is imperative to get to the airport when it opens if there is a short amount of time before takeoff. The flight to and from Baltra was fine, it was nice to have a chartered flight. Did have to wait a long time in the lounge at Baltra to return. But I understand that they needed us off the ship so that they could prepare it for the incoming guests. All the excursions were lead by wonderful and knowledgeable guides. They all had a passion for the area and were a delight to be around. That being said, our itinerary got switched after we booked and we had specifically chosen the other itinerary. Oh well, not much we could do about that. The only problem was that many of the islands were so similar in what we say, a few excursions could have been skipped and nothing would have been missed. Also be aware that if they mention wasps...it is a real possibility that you could encounter swarms as we did. Several people got stung, at least one in every group. Stateroom was as we anticipated. The cabin stewards keep them immaculate. Now the major downfall...the food. We are not gourmets eaters by any means. But when we pay over $1000 a day for a vacation, we expect to have some really wonderful food (especially after our fantastic previous experience with Celebrity). It is sad when the best meal I ate was garlic pasta that I could have made at home. The steaks were always undercooked and covered in some kind of sauce. The alternative dining site for lunch often closed earlier than posted times. Leaving you only with the main dining room or room service (with an incredibly limited menu). I know that many of our fellow passengers experience similar food woes. So expect unforgettable contact with animals but only mediocre at best meals. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
The Galapagos are a unique experience not to be missed. The Marriott, Quito, where the pre and post cruise stays were spent, was in, every sense, a luxury hotel. The crew of the Xpedition was courteous and attentive. The cabins were ... Read More
The Galapagos are a unique experience not to be missed. The Marriott, Quito, where the pre and post cruise stays were spent, was in, every sense, a luxury hotel. The crew of the Xpedition was courteous and attentive. The cabins were smaller than usual, but we expected this. The naturalists were, generally, great, friendly, and knowledgeable. The food was about as good as we had experienced on Celebrity cruises in the past. All alcohol was included in the not insubstantial cruise price. All equipment was also provided. Everything was well organized and executed efficiently. Only negatives: A methane odor was evident in our cabin and in the hall on deck three. The crew was apprised of this, but no improvement was made. Since there was really only one indoor common area, a single group could (and did) monopolize its use. The food served on the Baltra-Quito flight at the end of the cruise was just about the worst airline food I have ever had (and that is saying something). These problems (with the exception of the odor) are minor. All in all, a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
We went with a group of 16, and we knew the cruise Line Celebrity Xpedition is the best that sails there. We were not disappointed. We did the 2 nights prior in Quito and 1 post night day in Quito, and the 7 day sailing around the ... Read More
We went with a group of 16, and we knew the cruise Line Celebrity Xpedition is the best that sails there. We were not disappointed. We did the 2 nights prior in Quito and 1 post night day in Quito, and the 7 day sailing around the Galapagos islands. Everything was included, including the land portion. The staff, the food, drinks (water, soda, bar drinks), tips, tours, naturalist, transfers, flights from Quito to Baltra. You just had to bring enough memory for your camera and batteries, and lots of sunscreen. This is not a regular cruise, everything is casual, no dressing up in the evening, just a meet before dinner to talk about the tours for tomorrow ( one in morning and one in the afternoon) you had to decide what you want to do the next day and sign up, which takes about 5 minutes after the cruise directors talk. Sample of tour is long walk and short zodiac ride, or short walk and long zodiac ride. The talks told you what you would see and what animals are there. They were all FABULOUS, sometime you forgot to take photos because you were watching everything. We saw, sea lions, fur seals, Blue footed boobys, more other birds then I can remember, sea turtles that just had finished laying her eggs,lava lizards, marine iguanas, penguins ( my favorite),tortoises, land iguanas ( really big guys), the biggest bees (but they are friendly), and golden rays, eagle rays, fish of all kinds, and white tipped reef sharks. They were everywhere, some stated they brought a huge zoom to take pictures but did not use as they were too close. It's a fasinating place to visit. May was a great time to visit, after the rainy season but before the dry season.Everything was green, and lush, and all the animals looked healthy due to all the food. Weather was great, warm, cloudy, sunny and one day for light rain. The naturalist state everyday is like that. It's an unbelievable place and the people that live there and protect it, are the nicest people, and I now understand why this place to so special. They do a great job, showing it off to us visitors. If you decide to go, enjoy it, as it is nothing I have every experienced,it will change you,for the better. It makes you want to stop and enjoy everything simple on earth. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
We took our two oldest grandsons ages 9 and 10 with us on a one week cruise of the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition. The trip couldn't have been better! The Celebrity Xpedition was the best ship we have ever been on. Not ... Read More
We took our two oldest grandsons ages 9 and 10 with us on a one week cruise of the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition. The trip couldn't have been better! The Celebrity Xpedition was the best ship we have ever been on. Not because it is big and beautiful, though it was a very nice ship, but because the staff was outstanding, the food very good, and the expeditions on the Galapagos Islands like none I had ever experienced. We were welcomed from day one, and by the third day, everyone seemed to not only know our names, but also what we liked to eat and drink. We were offered two levels of expeditions every morning and every afternoon, and for the most part we chose the more challenging one which turned out to be fine. We were never disappointed, seeing so much wildlife from marine iguanas,Blue Footed Boopies, sea lions, Sally Lightfood crabs, sea turtles, land tortoises, land iguanas, Penguins,countless birds and fish. It was just amazing. We had near perfect weather, thankfully with some cloud cover almost every day. We were given wet suits for snorkeling, but the water was so warm, we didn't need them. Our grandsons had the time of their life. There were only two other children on the ship, but that turned out to not be a problem. We were so proud of them and the way they behaved. They made so many friends among the staff and loved being treated to chocolate milkshakes every day. Even thought the Celebrity Xpedition is not a typical cruise ship with shows etc, we were fortunate to have live piano music in the evenings during cocktail hour, and considering where we were, the food was excellent. Wonderful fresh fish every night if you wanted it. There were always at least 6 entrees to choose from. Breakfast and Lunch were always buffet, with the lunches being a different country theme. Truly a trip of a lifetime, and one I would recommend to anyone who likes a bit of adventure. I can't imagine going any other way except on Celebrity Xpedition. 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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