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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Our cruise on Xpedition was a celebration of my 40th birthday, and the trip truly exceeded expectations. From the exceptional staff to the fresh local food on board, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. Xpedition is a relatively old ship ... Read More
Our cruise on Xpedition was a celebration of my 40th birthday, and the trip truly exceeded expectations. From the exceptional staff to the fresh local food on board, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. Xpedition is a relatively old ship by modern cruise standards, but she has aged well and is lovingly maintained. We were surprised how much she felt like a true Celebrity ship just on a much smaller scale. With one dining room, one bar, and close quarters, you get to know the other passengers and crew much more than on a large ship. Fortunately for us, we enjoyed our fellow travelers and crew members. The Galapagos itself is a very special place, and the way the National Park is managed really limits crowds. The naturalists who lead the excursions are exceedingly patient and considerate. They are informative and knowledgeable about the environment, wildlife, and geology of the islands. Finally, make sure you know in advance what this trip is and is not. We were shocked to learn that a handful of passengers did not realize this was an adventure cruise with rugged hikes. The experience is not for everyone, so make sure you are up for an adventure when you book this trip. If you are, you’ll be rewarded with a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was a bucket list item for me and my friend. I wanted to see what Darwin saw in 1835, and he wanted to see the Galapagos tortoises, since he has two "normal size" tortoises as pets. Our wives had no interest in going, so we ... Read More
This was a bucket list item for me and my friend. I wanted to see what Darwin saw in 1835, and he wanted to see the Galapagos tortoises, since he has two "normal size" tortoises as pets. Our wives had no interest in going, so we shared a room together. We wanted to spend time in Quito, Ecuador, so opted for the time in Quito before and after the islands. We flew into Quito from our departure airport, and almost immediately I felt the altitude. I told my friend to slow down, as we walked off the plane, as I felt hot, and out of breath. This only lasted for a day, however he would react far worse than me on the return to Quito. Upon exiting Customs, were met by Anna, who corralled us all together. We then had about a 45 minute bus ride to the JW Marriott in Quito. As you will see, I cannot say anything negative at all about the hotel, as the hotel itself is impressive, the staff was responsive to our needs, and the food we ate there was quite good. The next day, we went on a city tour with Joanna, our very knowledgeable and pleasant tour guide. Lunch was at a very nice restaurant. All during the tour we were also accompanied by a security person. I was told by a policeman to mind my expensive camera, as motorcyclists were known to snatch and grab items from tourists. Our group was bused to a very nice restaurant for dinner that night, quite good. As the bus was waiting for the last few people, some kids came to the bus door and tried to sell us candy and other items. The next day, we all got up early for a breakfast buffet followed by the 45 minute bus ride back to the Quito airport for the about 2 plus hour flight to the Galapagos, about 868 air miles. We landed in at the Baltra Island Airport, and were assailed immediately by the heat and humidity. We took rigid inflatable Zodiacs to the ship, 16 people to a Zodiac, the only was on and off the ship. We would find out that there were wet landings (beach shoes), and dry ones (walking shoes). Our cabin was 316, on deck 3, third cabin from the bow. If I had it to do over, We would have gotten a cabin on decks 4 or 5. Our cabin was always warm, despite the efforts of the crew to make it cooler, plus we had to be close to the anchor locker, as every time we did anchor, it sounded like the chain was coming thru the wall. It was a small cabin, but did have plenty of storage for our clothes and gear. Each day, we went to a different island, under the knowledgeable care of a naturalist. Bettina was the Cruise Director, and her staff of naturalists (Martha, William, Diego, Manuel, David and Victoria) were quite good. They were all pleasant and answered every question thrown at them. We would have a hike in the morning and afternoon, with several days followed by snorkeling. My fitbit showed me walking anywhere from 5 to 8 miles per day. This was either on sandy beaches, rocky or volcanic trails. At the end of a day, when we returned in the Zodiacs, mostly everyone was quite tired. There were also cold drinks for everyone when we arrived back each day. Being tired did not stop us from talking amongst ourselves as to what we saw. It was quite distressing to see, even there, the amount of plastic washed up on the beaches. We also observed a sea lion with netting stuck around its body. The second day, I opted to not use a walking stick on a rocky trail, and ended up sustaining some deep cuts to mostly my left shin. Martha, our assigned naturalist, with the advice and assistance of several doctors on our hike, managed to apply a lot of gauze and bandages. I was checked out by the ships doctor upon arrival on the ship. Unfortunately, that curtailed my snorkeling. I used a walking stick after that! I have to say that all the activities were correctly characterized, as to difficult and distance by Bettina before dinner preceding each day. Pictures and maps during her talk explained the following day. We did see what we came to the Galapagos to see. There were plenty of Marine and Land Iguanas, Nazca, Blue and Red Boobies, plenty of Sea Lions and a handful of Penguins. Of course, we saw many of the two, distinctly different Galapagos Tortoises. The main difference is in the shells, to allow one sort to reach the high bushes. Those folks that snorkeled saw lots of sea turtles, and many kinds and sizes of fish. You did have to be careful, as on my cruise, I scraped my shin, a woman fell and hit her head, another landed on a cactus with her hand, and there were a number of wasp stings. I would be difficult to med-evac someone in a timely fashion if they were really sick/hurt. But, as I said above, the cruise staff took care of the guests quite well. Meals on the ship were not gourmet like on the big cruise ships, but they were good. I especially liked the lunches. They had four lunches in which they highlighted certain cultures. The four the head Chef Roger highlighted were: Chinese, Amazonian, Ecuadorian and Asian. I ate mostly fish for my dinner entree, and especially liked the red scorpion fish, native to the Galapagos waters. Towards the end of the cruise, there was a BBQ, very nice. And, as with the big ships, an exhibition of the musical talents of the crew. All of the guests were invited to a ships party on deck 6 to meet and talk with the senior staff. The Master, Captaincies Pacheco, and his hotel counterpart, Hotel Director John Flynn, were the hosts. I got to see the ships Doctor who asked me how my leg was doing. We also had a crossing-the-equator party. We also went to a private farm for a lunch after a reforestation effort by most of us. Native dances in costumes followed a good lunch. On the whole, except for my fall, it was a great trip. We had a good time on the ship, and saw what we came so far to see. I especially liked when we were leaving the ship, that the Captain and Hotel Director shook each person's hand as we left. They waved goodby as we left for our last Zodiac trip. As someone who has been on several Celebrity ships, this continued the classy aspects of the trips my wife and I have had on Celebrity. My friend also enjoyed himself on the ship. We then flew back to Quito and checked into the JW Marriott again. My friend then started having a very bad reaction to the altitude, and with a half hour of his request, there was an oxygen machine in our room. The next morning, were were supposed to go on a tour, but he was still hurting. The hotel arranged for us to go to a local pharmacy to get some medication, as well as providing for for us to eat on the excursion bus. We went to a number of location, all at lower altitudes, which helped my friend. During the excursion the concierge called our guide and arranged for us to go back in our same room upon return, to give him another 4 hors of oxygen until our ride back to the airport that night. That to me was a very nice thing to do, and shows that the Marriott staff there takes care of their guests. All in all, this was a great trip, with Celebrity and the Marriott doing an outstanding job. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try ... Read More
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try to book mainline cruise trips for $100 or less per person per day. Needless to say, there is no such option in the Galapagos. The best “deal” we could find in relative comfort was on Celebrity’s 100 passenger Xpedition. In an effort to save some money, we booked the least expensive cabin we could find at the least expensive time of the year. And we avoided the expensive mainland add-ons (to Quito and elsewhere) that Celebrity sells, booking only the seven day cruise and making all of our flight arrangements to and from the Galapagos ourselves. OK, after all of that, our cruise price per person (including taxes and fees) was still about $560 per person per day, making this the most expensive cruise we have ever done. Was it worth it? Absolutely! One thing that mitigates the cost is that this cruise is truly all inclusive. For example, no tipping is expected, and all types of alcohol are included. The only additional things my wife and I paid for on board was a $30 bag of laundry and a $23 bottle of sunblock. Yeah, not a typo, bring a lot of sunblock so you don’t have to buy any on board. We arrived two nights early and stayed in the small town of Puerto Ayora. There is a $20 visa fee tourists have to pay, and a $100 national park fee at the airport. Now Celebrity pays this as part of your cruise package, but when we arrived the officials at the airport did not yet have the “list” of Celebrity passengers, so we had to pay the fee. On the day our cruise began, however, Celebrity immediately refunded our payment, so that was no problem. OK, some details about the cruise. Embarkation was a breeze. We made our way back to the airport on the morning of the cruise and met with a Celebrity rep there. After a pleasant one-hour wait in the terminal, they put us on a short bus ride to the Baltra marina, and an Xpedition zodiac met us at the marina and took us out to the Xpedition. We were then shown immediately to our cabin. Our oceanview cabin was not particularly remarkable. In terms of size and layout it was very similar to oceanview cabins we have had on larger cruise ships. The shower was a bit bigger, and nicer, than some we have had on other ships. There was plenty of hot water, good water pressure, and the in room hair dryer worked well. The water that comes out of the taps in your cabin is, of course, potable, but it also tastes of chlorine, so the ship also has drinking water dispensers on each deck that have no chlorine taste. The food served in the main dining room was also similar in quality to what we have had on other cruise ships, but was more limited in variety and, not surprisingly, heavy on fish and seafood dishes. The food was not the best we have had, but it easily met our expectations, given the difficulty of resupply that the Xpedition faces. We were told that about 50% of the food is sourced locally, but many products that we westerners are used to (like beef) have to be flown in by Celebrity or otherwise sourced over long distances. And some of the food has to be specially treated before being allowed in the Galapagos. Ok, and now the superlatives. The ratio of crew to passengers on the Xpedition is very high, with 62 crew members vs 100 passengers. And that meant a level of service we have not experienced on any cruise. For example, our room was serviced multiple times a day, seemingly every time we left it (OK, maybe not quite that often). When we were in the bar or restaurant the waiters were constantly circulating and asking if they could get you something. And when we would return from a shore excursion the staff was always right there waiting with cold beverages and snacks. One thing that surprised me, but I guess shouldn’t have, is that the crew was almost entirely Ecuadoran. In fact, 61 out of 62, including the Captain, were Ecuadoran. What a competent, energetic, and pleasant group of people. Hey, but accommodations, food, and ship board service are not really why you come to the Galapagos. It is for the wildlife! And Celebrity shines in getting you to the action. Each day of the cruise you have at least two activities, morning and afternoon. There were three basic types of activities: a walk ashore, a snorkel, or a lengthy zodiac ride (without landing or snorkeling). With regard to the walks, there was always the option of a longer or shorter walk. The snorkel trips were sometimes shore snorkels (right off the beach) or deepwater snorkels. My advice: always do the deepwater snorkels when offered because the water clarity and sea life variety is better than the shore snorkels. And Celebrity plans the deepwater snorkels very well. There was virtually no current on any of our snorkels, and what current there was was always pushing the way we wanted to go. On one snorkel we went three quarters of the way around a small island, for a total distance of 1.5 miles, and it was so easy that we virtually never used our arms, only our flippers, with the wetsuits providing plenty of buoyancy. As for signing up for what you wanted to do on a given day, you got a briefing the night before and right after that briefing chose what you wanted to do. There was no rush or pressure to be “first in line” to sign up for anything, as the Xpedition can accommodate everyone on every desired option. Group size ashore was usually 14 to 16 persons with one naturalist, which was about as many folks as one zodiac could comfortably carry. The naturalists were great -- well informed with a pretty good command of English. As for the wildlife, we saw pretty much all the biggies: Tortoises, boobies (Blue Foot and Nazca), land iguanas, marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, flamingos, crabs, rays, and sharks. We even saw three albatrosses very close up, although we were well past the season when the albatrosses have normally departed the islands. And we saw many other species of birds, including, of course, multiple species of Darwin finches. Many of these animals have incredible coloration. And since there are no large land-based predators in the Galapagos almost all of these animals are completely unafraid of humans and you could get very close to them. A true photographer’s dream. Some offbeat highlights: (1) One day we were momentarily stuck on some rough rocks in a zodiac because of an extremely low tide, and the crews of two other zodiacs worked quickly to free us. A bit much excitement that. (2) One morning a lava gull landed next to me on the ship, and I remarked what a beautiful bird it was to a naturalist sitting nearby. She then told me the lava gull was the rarest gull in the world, and there it was five feet away eyeing my croissant!! I asked if I could feed it (just joking). (3) There were an incredible number of baby sea lions. OMG, so cute. And so curious. The naturalists warned us that for the protection of the babies we should not touch them. But sometimes it was difficult, as they would come right up to you in their curiosity. (4) Probably the highlight of the trip for me was watching sea lions while snorkeling. They would swim like torpedos all around you, and then groups of them would play with each other, and then one might come up and eyeball you before swimming away. Wow. Debarkation was also a breeze. Settle up you bill, if you have one. Put your suitcases outside your room by 5:30 AM, and they are then delivered directly to the airport. Exit your room by 8:30 AM, wait in the lounge, and they call your cabin number for boarding a zodiac back to the short bus ride from dock to airport. Let me close with two more tips. When going ashore for a walk, the footing varied wildly from place to place. Sometimes the landing would be wet (meaning you had to wade a few feet up onto a beach) or dry (directly on to a dock, or jetty, or on some rocks). Then your hike could be on sand, or compact dirt, or broken rocks, or slippery rocks (algae and/or guano), or broken lava, or even some small boulder scrambling. My wife and I brought Tevas (for the wet landings) and lightweight hiking shoes, but on some hikes it would have been nice to have had actual hiking boots for more ankle support. Several times some of the older folks fell -- even on the short, so-called “easier” walks. Another clothing tip is to bring a very broad brimmed hat of some sort, and perhaps some neck covering like a scarf or other neck protector. The sun is brutal on the equator, and unexposed skin burns fast even in cloudy weather. One thing you don’t really need is your own snorkeling equipment. Celebrity provides all that, including wetsuits. As a final note, they told us that the composition of the Celebrity Galapagos fleet will change soon. Currently there are three Celebrity ships, the Xpedition (100 passengers), the Xperience (48 passengers), and the Xploration (16 passengers). The Celebrity Flora, a new, hyper-modern 100 passenger ship, joins the Galapagos fleet later in May. And sometime after that the Xpedition will be refurbished, with its capacity reduced to 64 passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have sailed with Celebrity a few times and almost all of our experiences have been excellent. This trip was no different. Although the ship is going for a complete refit this year, it was kept in good order and well organised. Our room ... Read More
We have sailed with Celebrity a few times and almost all of our experiences have been excellent. This trip was no different. Although the ship is going for a complete refit this year, it was kept in good order and well organised. Our room was well designed, so although smaller than large ship cabins, it was fine. All of the ship's staff are excellent, the service in the bar and dining room, rooms, reception staff etc. could not be faulted. The cruise director and officers were great, always accessible and always very attentive to passengers. Entertainment is low key, but the full days' activities mean that most people do not stay up late. There was a choice of different 'difficulty' levels of tours to choose from morning and afternoon. We got the tours we chose easily and there was flexibility for change if needed, All of the tours were full of beauty, interest and amazing experiences. We did the Mach Picchu and Sacred Valley extension which was also wonderful. Overall, a very full, fascinating trip. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Bucket list cruise. Crew was great and the onshore staff too. If you don't like the cattle call feel of the big ships, this for you. Two to three excursions a day will keep you busy and teach you how to get on and off the Zodiacs. ... Read More
Bucket list cruise. Crew was great and the onshore staff too. If you don't like the cattle call feel of the big ships, this for you. Two to three excursions a day will keep you busy and teach you how to get on and off the Zodiacs. Food not as lavish as the big ships but still very good and plentiful. Cabins are not huge, but they're comfortable. I've been on 20+ cruises, at least 7 or 8 on Celebrity. This may. Have been the best. The crew has a strong percentage native Galapogonians plus mainland Ecuadorians. They seem genuinely and sincerely happy that you are there. It's a nice feeling. They offer easy and more strenuous excursions. But even the older folk could handle it. The all inclusive aspect means you're probably not going to spend any more money. I highly recommend this to the adventurous and semi fit people out there. Saw some bad reviews about fitness and recreation, the excursions take care of this. There are no big "shows", but they keep you busy and entertained. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
As a retirement trip, we booked (2years ahead) the Galápagos Islands (Inner Loop) and Machu Picchu trip with the Celebrity Xpedition as our ship in the Galápagos Islands. It was every bit of what we expected and more! From our arrival ... Read More
As a retirement trip, we booked (2years ahead) the Galápagos Islands (Inner Loop) and Machu Picchu trip with the Celebrity Xpedition as our ship in the Galápagos Islands. It was every bit of what we expected and more! From our arrival in Quito, until our departure from Cusco to Miami, the Celebrity experience was awesome! Every step of the way, Celebrity had us involved with first class food, service, experiences, and entertainment. As for altitude, the staff provided 5 minutes of oxygen to John when we stopped for lunch on our first day in Cusco. It worked, and his slight headache stopped. Bugs were no problem (June 15-30,2018). Activities were provided for all abilities groups in both the water and on the land in the Galápagos. Plenty of walking and stairs (uneven) on the Machu Picchu adventure. Again, Celebrity has provided for outstanding activities in both the Galápagos Islands and Machu Picchu! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long ... Read More
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long walk excursions, this is not a trip for you. This trip is all about the Galapagos Archipelago and its wonder. To get there. Information for booking flights was very good and we even had our travel agent double check for us. NO problems what so ever being greeted at the airport and being brought to the hotel. The hotel and staff in Quito were great. The tour company, the transfers, everything. It all felt welcoming, and everyone seemed truly concerned with delivering the product. Very organized at all times. Travel from Quito to the ship was never stressful, which left a lot of time to build on the excitement I already had. Again, super organized and I can't remember having to even touch my luggage from the time I handed it off in the hotel in Quito until it was in my cabin on board. Now, I hate reading spoilers in reviews of trips I'm looking at, so I will be leaving some highlights out. I don't ruin another persons anticipation. I'll start with embarkation, the beginning of a long term dream come true, and yes there were tears of joy. It's not like any embarkation you are used to, except for the Celebrity standard of sparking wine. More joyful tears as we are escorted further into the ship. The CREW! Every last person was amazing, kind, and seemed to love their job. (How could you not?) There had to be a ratio of 2 crew for every passenger, but I don't actually know the stats. If any crew person had a bad day, we didnt' know it. With only 100 people it does not take naturalists, food and bev, or any crew that directly interact with passengers long to get to know everyone on the trip. Dining crew remembered by breakfast to steer me away from anything on the menu that was not gluten free. Which brings me to the food. I have seen some reviews of this trip and the food. I'll say from my opinion it was great. Keep in mind here, they have to use everything sourced from the region. That will limit what they can work with. So, you have to come to a point of acceptance that you can not have everything you think you should. When you get over that, they do a fantastic job with the food. No, I did not like everything, but I never went hungry. I was happy with my meals way more often than I was not. Some other reviews give better tips on ordering specifics that I found useful. Since those applied at the time I was on the ship, I will let you find those suggestions rather than repeat them here. Also regarding food. This is not 24 hr food ship. Don't get mad. I'm sure if you absolutely needed something one of the stellar crew will accommodate you, as long as you are not rude about it. This is a crew that wants to give everyone top level of service. I had to get out of my own comfort zone when it comes to cruising. There are not many places to hide away from the group, which I usually do. We ended up making friends that we have since stayed in touch with still long after and even visited with away from home. The way the dining room is set up, and the small excursion groups, you have to fight hard to be anti-social. I'm glad I gave up the fight. I quickly realized I was sharing this magical journey with only 99 other people in the same moment in time, and it was meant to be celebrated together. With that, moving onto the excursions. It works exactly the way Celebrity says it works. Again, I wont give any spoilers. Just keep your mind open. Remember where you are on the planet in the moment, and you will not be disappointed. Listen to the naturalists for directions and a ton of Galapagos knowledge. Make sure you always follow the safety rules, and watch your step. This is not a place with building codes. Watch your every step. Safety is always the priority. This truly was by far an experience that I have zero regret and feel I got every two years of saving pennies worth. We have already talked about saving up to go back in five years on a different loop. Rather than write my diary or repeat things covered in other very good reviews and helpful advice already on here (like sunscreen tips that were crucial) I will wrap it up. My last piece of advice. Try to write down some of the little things every day. It makes for great souvenir to look back on that beats any trinket you buy on Santa Cruz Island. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in ... Read More
We sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition in May 2018 to the Galapagos, on the inner loop itinerary. As many others have said, the service, food, and crew were excellent. We were met at the Quito airport by Celebrity and basically were in there hands until we returned to the JW Marriott in Quito a week after boarding the ship. All aspects of the trip were well done, and every one of the Celebrity folks was helpful, and easy to work with. The naturalists were knowledgeable, interesting, and really enhanced each excursion. Also as others have said, the excursions are why you sign up for this cruise. Others on this board really helped me decide what to pack and what to leave home. I strongly suggest you get a list of items to pack and follow it - especially the wide brim hats, shoes, long sleeve shirts (for sun), and sunblock (at least SPF 50). My wife and I are 66 and 67 respectively and in reasonably good shape with minimal problems getting around. That said, we were pretty tired by the end of the week. As explained in other posts, the daily itinerary follows the same pattern - a morning excursion, back to the boat by lunch, and an afternoon excursion. Almost all of the excursions have an easier and more challenging flavor. We did the more challenging on all but a couple, which involved long, climbing walks... The snorkeling also comes in two flavors - "off the beach", which is exactly as it sounds, and deep water - which is where you are taken by zodiac to the snorkeling spot and jump in off the zodiac. Water is too deep to stand, and currents can be much stronger. Water temperature was about 74 - 77, and Celebrity provides wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins. One suggestion - bring some sort of book/app/device that will help you identify constellations. Star gazing is outstanding - no light pollution. I give the trip 5 stars because the excursions were well done and the experience on the ship was very good. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
This was a wonderful cruise with wonderful wildlife. We had 2 nights in Quito beforehand with a tour on the 2nd day around Quito and to the Middle of the World Museum which was brilliant. When we got to Baltra, we were met at the ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise with wonderful wildlife. We had 2 nights in Quito beforehand with a tour on the 2nd day around Quito and to the Middle of the World Museum which was brilliant. When we got to Baltra, we were met at the jetty by a sea lion chilling in the sun and loads of iguanas, crabs and pelicans. We then took the zodiac to the Xpedition which was a fun start to the cruise. We were then kitted out in our wetsuits (over our clothes which looked hilarious). We then chilled for the rest of the day. The ship was looking a bit tired and I understand a new one is being brought into the fleet, so I'm not sure if the Xpedition is being removed. However, this didn't detract from the holiday and the staff were all wonderful. Our room was maybe smaller than ones we've had before, but we were hardly ever in it so it didn't matter. We didn't feel the ship rocking at all. Each evening we would have a talk about what the options were for the following day. There was usually a short hike or a long hike. The long hike was actually only about 1.5 miles so wasn't arduous at all. Each day there was usually the chance to go either snorkelling from the beach or deep sea snorkelling where you had to jump in off the zodiac. The snorkelling was amazing with sea lions coming right up to your face, loads of fish and lots of white tipped sharks and hammerhead sharks. The sharks all tended to swim at the bottom of the ocean so we didn't get close to them (luckily!). The food on the ship was good and in the afternoon when you got back from your trip or snorkelling there were little sandwiches and cakes and a drink waiting for you. There were always biscuits or cakes on the bar as well. There wasn't really any activities, but there was a BBQ on the deck one evening and a Crossing the Equator party. There was karaoke a few nights and a trivia quiz one night. After disembarkation we carried on to do Machu Picchu as part of the holiday with Celebrity and this was absolutely amazing. All-in-all I would recommend the cruise to anyone over the age of 40 (there was no-one on the ship younger than this). We felt young and we were in our early 50's. Most evenings everyone would just sit around chatting, which was lovely and we met loads of people. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We took the 10 day cruise package from Celebrity which made planning much easier as they took care of everything once you land in Quito - the transfers, the hotel, the flight to the Galapagos, all documentation and passes, etc. Unlike ... Read More
We took the 10 day cruise package from Celebrity which made planning much easier as they took care of everything once you land in Quito - the transfers, the hotel, the flight to the Galapagos, all documentation and passes, etc. Unlike other reviewers, we did not experience problems with AC on deck 3 or cold water while snorkeling. The guides were all very good, and our waiter (when we got him - Juan Cepeda) was excellent. The snorkeling was our favorite part - we were in warm/cool water seeing amazing wildlife. We swam with sea lions, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, sting rays, sharks, and myriads of fish. We found the Friday tour to South Plaza island underwhelming and did not bother to go on the Friday afternoon tour. If they could have had a snorkeling activity on Friday, that would have made the cruise even better. We also did not bother to go to the Post Office walk and it didn't sound like we missed much based on those who did go. The other tours were excellent - walking among iguanas, sea lions, and birds. While many in our group opted for the short wet-suits provided by the ship, we were fine without them. Most of the time the water was quite pleasant. Even when we felt a cold current, it was short-lived and just felt refreshing. We never wanted to get out of the water - even after snorkeling for an hour or more. The food was very good and drinks were included. At least for us, the drinks, while free, were never very good. They all just seemed to miss the mark on being a tasty drink. While we tried several different drinks, we never found one where we wanted a second. The tours in Quito were well arranged. The tour to the equator was fun. Be warned, however, that they sell some chocolate at the equator store that cannot be taken to the Gapalagos. We were later told that bars with Chia seeds or other fruits were banned. The Celebrity guides do not tell you this until you are on the bus back to the hotel. They will hold the candy for you at the hotel for you to pick up when you get back. We just think they should have informed us before we purchased. And we are really not sure why they won't allow some of the "banned chocolate bars" such as a bar with passionfruit. We found the same bars from the same manufacturer in the Galapagos stores. The Xpedition is being replaced by a new ship with much larger cabins, the Flora in 2019. However, the price premium on this new ship is more than 50% the price for the same cruise on the Xpedition. I'd highly encourage you to take this trip on the Xpedition. While the ship is showing its age, the shore excursions will be the same on both ships. Not sure a bigger cabin on the Flora is worth the price difference. But the Galapagos is definitely a bucket list trip that everyone who is able should take. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of ... Read More
My husband and I were privileged to be able to cruise both the inner and outer loops of the Galápagos Islands in January. I thought it would be great to figure out which loop was better, but I really can’t say. Weather and time of year can greatly affect what you see and do on the islands. All tours on the islands are limited to groups of 16 with one licensed naturalist. As far as snorkeling, we didn’t do the advanced deep water, but were told by passengers who did, that Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island was amazing, swimming with sea lions and hundreds of sea turtles. (In the Galápagos it was mating and breeding season for the turtles.) The rainy season which usually starts in December hadn’t begun, so the trees were barren and the landscape looked like a desert. We were extremely lucky to see a juvenile albatross, stretching and flapping its wings in preparation to learn to fly. Usually by January this species has migrated and isn’t seen in the islands. We really enjoyed watching birds such as the Nascar booby and the frigatebird with their chicks. Although we saw several blue footed boobies on the outer loop, we were told by our naturalist that the red footed booby was only on San Cristobal Island, and unfortunately that day the ocean was quite rough, so the driver of our zodiac couldn’t get very close to shore. Only saw the red footed booby from a great distance. However we did see orcas (killer whales) jumping out of the water. If you do both inner and outer loops, Sunday and the following Saturday have the same itinerary. Sunday you will embark and the ship will sail around Baltra. Then on Saturday you will visit the Charles Darwin Center Giant Tortoise breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island and later take a bus ride to the highlands to plant scalesia trees. Afterwards an Ecuadorian buffet lunch at the Manzanillo Ranch was quite tasty. After eating we really enjoyed native folk dancing by young locals. Then we went out on the preserve to watch giant tortoises in their native surroundings. A great day, but not something we wanted to do twice. So the second Saturday morning, I had a relaxing massage on ship. Quite interesting--the room was a little bigger than a walk in closet, and the air conditioning blew cold air right on me, but it was relaxing. Then Monica, the head naturalist, took us to the island where we drove to the highlands skipping the tree planting, and eating lunch at the ranch. I loved the folk dancers and was glad we could see them perform twice. I have lots of tips about the Galápagos cruises which are in the review I did on the inner loop. If you have already read it, you can skip the rest of what I have written in this review. Visiting the Galápagos Islands has always been an dream of ours and finally we were able to make the cruise, both inner and outer loops. I am an avid (but amateur) photographer and looked forward to all the wildlife, never realizing how close we would be to beautiful sea lions, penguins, iguanas, blue footed boobies, tortoises, and more. The cruise begins with a day in Quito which ensures you will make it if your flight is late and you miss a connection. I loved this city with an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level. We stayed at the Marriott, a luxury hotel with all the amenities. One of our fellow passengers became quite sick from the altitude and the hotel provided oxygen and called a doctor who gave him a prescription. I especially enjoyed the Equatorial Line Museum tour which was arranged by Celebrity. I have to say this cruise line was so organized in every detail. The ship is only for 100 passengers, so it is small and not luxurious. I heard that Celebrity plans on renovating the ship and then it will accommodate about 40-50 passengers. Our first cabin on the fourth deck was great, but when we started the second week, they moved us to a cabin on the same deck which was as far "fore" (toward the front of the ship) as possible. This cabin was very noisy with lowering and raising the anchor and other ship activities. I complained and they moved us to a cabin on the third deck more toward the center of the ship which was much better. I recommend speaking to the hotel director if you have any problems. My husband uses a CPAP which requires distilled water. Notify the cruise line in advance so they can provide water if you use a CPAP. Also they have long extension cords so you can have the CPAP on the nightstand by the table. The dining was average. Some dinner items were great, but the buffets weren't quite as good. In fact I was really tired of the breakfast buffet after two weeks! The dining room is extremely noisy and sometimes it was hard hearing what the person next to me was saying. Entertainment is modest and there are lectures and movies to help prepare you for your land excursions and learn about what you will be seeing. One night the crew assembled some talented musicians and we were treated to some Ecuadorian and Latin music that was great! Don't miss the end of cruise slide show. Although we don't drink, alcoholic beverages were included in the price of the cruise. The shore excursions were well organized with 16 people and a well qualified naturalist per zodiac. Each excursion had two options--one difficult and one less strenuous. The landing may be "wet" or "dry." If going on a hike, wear water shoes for a wet landing, then change into hiking shoes. (I wore Keens with socks, or running or walking shoes would work, not big heavy boots!) I recommend a water resistant backpack for shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, phone etc. Also it would be a good idea to have a waterproof case for your phone. One of our fellow passengers ruined his phone in a rather difficult boarding of the zodiac with lots of big waves. (I swam for about twenty minutes in the Pacific Ocean with my Apple watch on my wrist and it was fine.) I would recommend an SLR camera for most photography--I had a zoom lens, but some of the other passengers carried two cameras around their neck, one with a zoom lens, and the other with a telephoto lens. For better viewing and as a back up, I brought an iPad to upload my pictures each evening. If you have an iPhone, learn how to use "Airdrop" if you don't already know how. Wonderful way to share photos with fellow passengers. Snorkeling was different from my previous experiences where a boat takes you out to a reef, drops you off, and you are right where the fish are. On the cruise excursions, sometimes the entry into the water is from the shore, which was a challenge for me because of the wave action. Then we would have to swim a ways to get to the rocks where the fish were. The advanced deep water snorkeling (recommended for experienced swimmers) was better from what I heard, easier to get in the water, and much better view of the marine life. (Celebrity provides snorkeling equipment and wetsuits. I brought my own prescription mask.) When you chose your excursions, the zodiac boat tours are the easiest. Just sit back and enjoy marine life and the views. In general, if you choose to go on all the excursions, you are going to need some stamina. I would think if you have knee problems or difficulty walking, this might not be the cruise for you. The ship has walking sticks which really helped me in hiking over rough lava and small boulders. If you forget motion sickness medication, there is a doctor on board and she/he will help. Just remember, you need to start the medication before seasickness sets in. I find ginger helps a lot for me. I recommend sun protective clothing which is an easy way to prevent sunburn without slathering on sunscreen. (I did sunscreen my face, neck, and hands.) Also a wide brimmed hat with a chin strap to protect the top of your head and face. No need to bring formal clothing on this cruise! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Visiting the Galápagos Islands has always been an dream of ours and finally we were able to make the cruise, both inner and outer loops. I am an avid (but amateur) photographer and looked forward to all the wildlife, never realizing how ... Read More
Visiting the Galápagos Islands has always been an dream of ours and finally we were able to make the cruise, both inner and outer loops. I am an avid (but amateur) photographer and looked forward to all the wildlife, never realizing how close we would be to beautiful sea lions, penguins, iguanas, blue footed boobies, tortoises, and more. The cruise begins with a day in Quito which ensures you will make it if your flight is late and you miss a connection. I loved this city with an elevation of 9000 feet above sea level. We stayed at the Marriott, a luxury hotel with all the amenities. One of our fellow passengers became quite sick from the altitude and the hotel provided oxygen and called a doctor who gave him a prescription. I especially enjoyed the Equatorial Line Museum tour which was arranged by Celebrity. I have to say this cruise line was so organized in every detail. The ship is only for 100 passengers, so it is small and not luxurious. I heard that Celebrity plans on renovating the ship and then it will accommodate about 40-50 passengers. Our first cabin on the fourth deck was great, but when we started the second week, they moved us to a cabin on the same deck which was as far "fore" (toward the front of the ship) as possible. This cabin was very noisy with lowering and raising the anchor and other ship activities. I complained and they moved us to a cabin on the third deck more toward the center of the ship which was much better. I recommend speaking to the hotel director if you have any problems. My husband uses a CPAP which requires distilled water. Notify the cruise line in advance so they can provide water if you use a CPAP. Also they have long extension cords so you can have the CPAP on the nightstand by the table. The dining was average. Some dinner items were great, but the buffets weren't quite as good. In fact I was really tired of the breakfast buffet after two weeks! The dining room is extremely noisy and sometimes it was hard hearing what the person next to me was saying. Entertainment is modest and there are lectures and movies to help prepare you for your land excursions and learn about what you will be seeing. One night the crew assembled some talented musicians and we were treated to some Ecuadorian and Latin music that was great! Don't miss the end of cruise slide show. Although we don't drink, alcoholic beverages were included in the price of the cruise. The shore excursions were well organized with 16 people and a well qualified naturalist per zodiac. Each excursion had two options--one difficult and one less strenuous. The landing may be "wet" or "dry." If going on a hike, wear water shoes for a wet landing, then change into hiking shoes. (I wore Keens with socks, or running or walking shoes would work, not big heavy boots!) I recommend a water resistant backpack for shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, phone etc. Also it would be a good idea to have a waterproof case for your phone. One of our fellow passengers ruined his phone in a rather difficult boarding of the zodiac with lots of big waves. (I swam for about twenty minutes in the Pacific Ocean with my Apple watch on my wrist and it was fine.) I would recommend an SLR camera for most photography--I had a zoom lens, but some of the other passengers carried two cameras around their neck, one with a zoom lens, and the other with a telephoto lens. For better viewing and as a back up, I brought an iPad to upload my pictures each evening. If you have an iPhone, learn how to use "Airdrop" if you don't already know how. Wonderful way to share photos with fellow passengers. Snorkeling was different from my previous experiences where a boat takes you out to a reef, drops you off, and you are right where the fish are. On the cruise excursions, sometimes the entry into the water is from the shore, which was a challenge for me because of the wave action. Then we would have to swim a ways to get to the rocks where the fish were. The advanced deep water snorkeling (recommended for experienced swimmers) was better from what I heard, easier to get in the water, and much better view of the marine life. (Celebrity provides snorkeling equipment and wetsuits. I brought my own prescription mask.) When you chose your excursions, the zodiac boat tours are the easiest. Just sit back and enjoy marine life and the views. In general, if you choose to go on all the excursions, you are going to need some stamina. I would think if you have knee problems or difficulty walking, this might not be the cruise for you. The ship has walking sticks which really helped me in hiking over rough lava and small boulders. If you forget motion sickness medication, there is a doctor on board and she/he will help. Just remember, you need to start the medication before seasickness sets in. I find ginger helps a lot for me. I recommend sun protective clothing which is an easy way to prevent sunburn without slathering on sunscreen. (I did sunscreen my face, neck, and hands.) Also a wide brimmed hat with a chin strap to protect the top of your head and face. No need to bring formal clothing on this cruise! One recommendation would be to wear neutral colored clothing when you are on the islands. We were told the paper wasps are attracted to brightly colored clothing. I really enjoyed our last day on Santa Cruz Island visiting the Darwin Center where turtles are bred, then planting Scalesia trees, Ecuadorian lunch buffet at Manzanillo Ranch, program of folk dancing by locals, and a walk through the preserve to view Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat. Great cruise! Read Less
63 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Celebrity Xpedition Cruise Outer Loop November 24 – December 4, 2017 Cabin 418 I started writing this review during the trip and am finishing it about a month after getting home. Because this was such a different cruise, my ... Read More
Celebrity Xpedition Cruise Outer Loop November 24 – December 4, 2017 Cabin 418 I started writing this review during the trip and am finishing it about a month after getting home. Because this was such a different cruise, my review will be a bit different, too. We did the outer loop option, visiting five islands. I’m going to skip describing each tour options on each island. Know you will see iguanas, sea lions, blue footed boobies, albatross, penguins, sally lightfoot crabs, eagle and golden rays, giant tortoises, and a variety of other birds. I’m going to focus on other aspects of the trip since it was so different from a typical cruise. PRE-CRUISE This is a cruise we’ve wanted to do for many years. Celebrating a milestone birthday seemed like the perfect time to do it. Traveling with our daughter, son-in-law and good friends, we knew this was going to be a special trip. We booked the pre-cruise Quito option with Celebrity, so this would be a ten-day trip. My first word of advice is that you actually read through all of the e-documents you receive from Celebrity through your travel agent (or from Celebrity if you booked direct with them). There are some different and unusually important items you’ll need to be aware of before you head to Ecuador. First, there are luggage limitations – one piece of 44 pounds of luggage per person plus one carry-on that is supposed to be limited to approximately 14 – 15 pounds. Next, there is a special Galapagos desk pre-cruise that can answer questions. If you call Celebrity reservations, advise them you are on a Galapagos sailing and ask to be transferred to the Galapagos desk so you don’t have to explain things to multiple people. We had some dietary restrictions noted in reservations but I wanted to ensure they were relayed properly to the ship. The Galapagos pre-cruise desk told me they would relay the information….but I’m not sure it would have happened had I not called, even though the restrictions were specifically documented in the cruise reservation confirmation. I say this because the restrictions were NOT communicated to the Celebrity staff in Quito that were taking care of us while we were there the day and a half prior to the cruise. It wasn’t a problem because the ground staff in Quito were outstanding. I immediately mentioned the dietary allergies, and they immediately took care of it, even though they didn’t know why Celebrity US operations didn’t inform them. IMPORTANT TIP: If you are traveling to Quito on a connecting US flight, I urge you to book flights with a several hour layover. We were going to book flights that had a two hour layover in Atlanta, however, we decided to book a four hour layover to be safe. As it turned out, our original flight to Atlanta was delayed for a mechanical problem so we were two hours late arriving in Atlanta. Having that extra cushion for a layover made for a stress less travel day to Quito. We arrived in Quite just before midnight and were met by Anna just after we exited the baggage area (note…you go through immigration, then get your luggage and then customs which was a random selection of whether they stopped for luggage screening and questions….we did not have to stop). As soon as everyone checked in with Anna, we boarded a bus for a 45-minute ride to the JW Marriott in downtown Quite. Upon arrival, we went to the Celebrity hospitality desk where we were handed our room keys and provided with the schedule for the Quito portion of our trip. Quick and easy. QUITO Our first day in Ecuador started with a very nice buffet breakfast included at the JW Marriott. Following breakfast, we gathered in the lobby for a day tour of Quito. Our first stop was to ????, a winged Virgin Mary statue visible from nearly everywhere in Quito. This site, overlooking much of the city, was the perfect spot to get a good feel for just how big the city is (approximately 2.5 million within the city of Quito). From here we ventured down into the Old Town where plenty of photo opportunities presented themselves. Everything from baroque to modern architecture could be seen with lots of churches and people. Most noticeable with the number of families out and about. Loved seeing the children feeding pigeons, skipping along the sidewalk, playing football (soccer). The two churches we visited were both baroque-style and put the churches in St. Petersburg, Russia to shame. Honestly, they were over the top. When our guide said they didn’t like to leave “any empty spaces” they took it literally. No photos permitted in either church and plenty of guards were vigilant to ensure you didn’t take photos so it’s best to honor their wishes. A very nice buffet lunch was included at Theatrum Bar and Grill where there was plenty of good food to satisfy everyone. Appetizers included a choice of three empanadas, two kinds of ceviche and two different soups. Entrees offered a chicken, pork and fish option with two kinds of rice, vegetables followed by a dessert table. When lunch concluded we headed to the Equator outdoor museum. Upon arrival, you might think this would be a bit overly touristy but we found it informative, fun and interesting. A guide from the museum spent about an hour walking us through the exhibits, telling us about the history of Ecuador as well as interesting facts about living along the equator. We’d recommend a visit if you do the day in Quito before heading to the Galapagos. Back at the JW Marriott we had about an hour before leaving for a ten minute bus ride to dinner at LaGloria Restaurant. Our evening menu consisted of a choice between two appetizers, three entrees and a trio of desserts. Coffee and soft drinks were included. Alcoholic beverages were extra. Our guide explained that they rotate restaurants from week to week but we felt this was a perfect dinner. We were back at the JW Marriott by 8:00 PM. We had been informed that there was going to be a delay in our departure for Balta due to issues with Avianca, the airline providing our transportation. Instead of leaving the hotel at 8:30 am on Sunday we would now be leaving at 11:30 am. As it turned out, it was nice not to get up early on Sunday and to ensure a leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport. When we arrived back at the hotel after dinner, we were asked to bring our checked luggage down to the guides for inspection and transfer to the airport. We were able to keep all of our toiletries in our carry-on luggage (this is a big difference from the USA rules) so dropping off checked luggage the night before wasn’t a problem. This process took about five minutes and this is when you attach your Celebrity luggage tags with your name and cabin number on them to your luggage. We were told the next time we’d see the luggage would be in our cabin on the ship. On Sunday morning, we stopped at the hospitality desk where we picked up our flight boarding passes and entrance/exit paperwork for the Galapagos. We noticed that there were flight upgrades on our flight so we asked and were told it was $112 each way to upgrade to business class on the flight to and from Baltra. Seemed pretty reasonable so this is something you might want to check on. The fee for the upgrade is added to your Celebrity onboard account. A 45-minute bus ride back to the airport was far more interesting than the ride to the hotel because it was daylight. Lots of big volcanic mountains, steep roads, cyclists trying to make it up the mountain roads, mango stands all along the highway. Upon arrival at the airport, we quickly went through security and were on our way to our gate. At 2:00 PM, we boarded our Avianca Airbus 319 plane to Baltra! We were served a nice lunch of either chicken or beef with Celebrity china service throughout the plane. Thus far, Celebrity has made this a great experience. The staff in Quito was simply outstanding and got our adventure off to a fantastic start. BALTRA ARRIVAL We arrived in the Galapagos around 3:00 PM (we gained an hour on the flight). Our flight was several hours late so our cruise departure was late, too. After being picked up at the airport, we were transferred to the zodiacs about ten minutes away for the first of many zodiac rides. A short ride found us boarding Xpedition. One of the first things you do is get fitted for wet suits if you are planning to snorkel. Luggage was delivered pretty quickly, and the muster drill was short and sweet. Our first “stop” (which really wouldn’t have been a stop since we wouldn’t have gotten off the ship) at Daphne Island was cancelled due to our late arrival. It wasn’t a big deal since we sailed past Daphne later in the trip. TYPICAL DAYS This is not like a Caribbean or Alaska cruise where you plan your days and excursions before you get to the ship. Each night there is a briefing on the next day’s activities and you sign up for one of several options for the next morning and afternoon. The sign up takes place in the Explorer’s Lounge and only takes a few minutes each evening. You do not have to worry about missing out or any excursion “filling up.” Each excursion is well defined and listed again in the Celebrity Today placed in your cabin each evening. If you are unsure about any of the activities, the staff is more than happy to answer any questions as well as allow you to switch excursions if you change your mind. Excursions ranged from short easy walks to longer, more challenging terrain. While you definitely needed to be careful on some of the tours as some were over rocky boulders or lava fields, everyone on our cruise managed very well. Walking sticks were available from the ship and many passengers brought their own. You are up early each morning as the ship’s anchor can be heard loud and clear from just about everywhere on the ship. A full breakfast, including eggs and omelets to order, is served in the dining room each morning. Juices are fresh squeezed, and pastries and breads are baked on board each day. All were outstanding. There is also a light continental breakfast with coffee and juices at the Beagle Grill outdoors at the aft of the ship. You are off the ship and headed to the morning excursions by 8:00 or 8:30 each day. You are back to the ship by 11:00 – 11:30 each day (except the last day) for lunch. Lunch was typically available in the dining room and the Beagle Grill. The selections for both changed daily. For the most part we ate lunch at the Beagle Grill and enjoyed dining on the outdoor aft deck. Lunches at the Beagle were hot dogs, hamburgers & pizza twice; a Mexican buffet (truly outstanding); and a BBQ buffet one day with an whole roasted pig. The dining room lunch changed themes each day and included Ecuadorian, Italian, Asian, etc. Following lunch there was normally a little “down” time which allowed me to download my morning photos onto my laptop. The afternoon excursions typically started between 3:00 and 4:00 PM and concluded by 5:30 – 6:00 PM. The evening briefing for the following day was each evening in the Explorers Lounge followed by dinner. The dining room food was very good and featured a wide array of fish, seafood, chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes. Like a regular Celebrity cruise, there were three appetizer, entrée and dessert options that were available every night along with the portion of the menu that changed daily. The Beef Wellington on the final night was excellent! We also dined one evening out on the aft deck where they served a different nice menu (reservations were required and this was only available three evenings so book it early if it’s something you’d like to do). It was a nice change. On the final evening, there was a “cruise in review” type event in the Explorer Lounge. A slide show of photos taken by the naturalists during our various tours on the islands was shown and then it was announced that we’d receive a flash drive with all the staff photos – at no cost. It was a very nice special touch. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW Read your cruise e-docs closely. This is not like a typical cruise and the e-docs contain some important information that differs from your normal cruise. Luggage restrictions – on the flight from Quito to the Galapagos and return we were limited to one checked bag weighing no more than 44 pounds. One carry on was permitted (plus a purse or backpack) weighing no more than 14 pounds (however, they did not weight the carry on luggage so if you are slightly over it didn’t matter. Don’t Overpack ~ this was truly a casual cruise. I wore a rash guard and shorts for all shore excursions and slacks with a casual top for dinners. Light or Neutral Colored Clothing ~ it says this in the e-docs but I missed it. All of the rash guards I own are colorful (pink, yellow, orange, blue) and we were advised to avoid those colors on some walks where wasps and bees were attracted to those colors. Fortunately, I had a long-sleeve mostly white t-shirt that I wore for those excursions. Camera Equipment ~ nearly everyone carried camera equipment and much of it was serious equipment. Double check before leaving home to ensure you have everything you need as one guest didn’t have her battery charger and unfortunately is was a unique one that no one else had. About half way through the cruise her battery died and she used her phone the rest of the cruise. For me (an avid photographer) that would have been devastating on this cruise. I carry several batteries and triple checked to ensure my charger was packed in my carry on. Truly Remote ~ You are really “out there” on this cruise. From the time you land in Baltra to the time you reach Santa Cruz on your last day, you are remote – no stores, no restrooms on islands, nothing. So be sure to double and triple check that you have not forgotten any true necessities before getting on your flight to Baltra. YOU WILL NEED Sunscreen and lots of it. You can burn quickly if you forget to put it on. Water shoes, tevas, keens for wet landings and good hiking shoes for some of the excursions. Protective hats ~ those who didn’t bring them bought one in the small store onboard the ship. THE SHIP Xpedition only carries 98 passengers and 64 crew members. She is a world away from other “cruise ships” you might have sailed. First, every time you get on or off the ship you are on a zodiac. The crew is always there to help you on and off and it was clear that safety was extremely important. Cabins (we were in 418 on deck 4) were adequate. Smaller than your average cruise ship, there was enough storage, a small desk with chair and a small couch. The bathroom/shower were fine although not nearly as large as those on the S-class ships. The ship is small enough that no matter what cabin you select, your close to everything. The Guest Relations area is extremely small but was always staffed by smiling, friendly crew. Attached to the Guest Relations room was a small gift shop that had nice hats, shirts, etc. You would go down one deck to the dining room from here and up to a deck that had a small are for tables/chairs and the small workout room off of it. The small spa was located up there as well. ENTERTAINMENT No one does the Galapagos cruise for the entertainment but there were lots of nice “entertaining” aspects of the cruise Guitar Player There was a wonderful guitar player who frequently played on the back deck during lunch or late in the afternoon when we returned from excursions. Mostly background stuff, but very nice nonetheless. Crossing the Equator Party The night we crossed the equator, the naturalists threw a “Crossing the Equator Party.” It was a lot of fun. Music, dancing, limbo contest. Quite honestly, most people were pretty tired after long days of excursions. Minimal entertainment opportunities were fine with us. There were plenty of passengers to chat with and a wonderful crew to serve drinks all night long. THE CREW Hands down, by far, this was the best crew we’ve ever had on a cruise. Several dynamics come into play that likely contributed to the outstanding service and happy, positive attitudes of all staff members. First, 75% of the crew is required to be Ecuadorian; next the crew works three weeks on then two or three weeks off for the most part. That means the get to go home and visit with family often. Finally, being such a small ship, the passengers and crew quickly got to know one another making for a fun and friendly experience. From the naturalists to the zodiac drivers, the bar staff to the cabin attendants, from the dining staff and chefs to the officers, everyone was eager to please and did their jobs with sincere smiles. It was a truly unique experience that made this a most memorable cruise. Capt. Pacheco has been with Celebrity Xpedition since she began sailing the Galapagos in 2004. He certainly runs one fantastic ship and a crew that must make him proud. THE PASSENGERS We had a great mix of passengers from the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Belgium (I hope I got all the countries represented). Like the crew, you quickly got to know passengers, exchange information, zodiacs, dining tables and shore excursions. While the average age of the passengers was likely in the mid-60s, there were a few in their 30s, 40s & 50s as well as some older passengers. SPECIAL TOUCHES • Photos on Flash Drive – each couple received a flash drive with more than 600 photos taken by the crew during our cruise. A VERY nice gesture! • Email List – you could list your email if you wanted it shared with other passengers • REALLY Good Chocolates Each Night • Crew that Cared – you could tell how much the crew cared. Nothing was too much trouble and they were always helpful and smiling! BOTTOM LINE This cruise was worth the cost and we’d definitely go back and do the inner loop. Loved truly getting away from it all and spending time with warm and caring people…..and seeing so many wonderful wild creature and landscape. If you are thinking about doing this cruise….DO IT! PHOTOS Here’s a link to some of the photos taken by me during this trip. Please note that all photos are owned and copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. https://galapagosnovdec2017.shutterfly.com/pictures/8 Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences ... Read More
After exploring options to stay on one of the islands and book all of the travel to and around the Galápagos Islands on our own, we quickly realized the challenges of arranging such an itinerary. Given our previous fantastic experiences with Celebrity, we looked into their three ships that cruise the Galapagos and decided the 98-passenger size of the Xpedition was the best bet for us. Once we decided on the cruise, we looked into booking our own air travel. However, based on previous reviews that worried us about flight delays and missing the ship, we opted to book the airfare (Copa) and extended stay before and after in Quito through Celebrity. We're so glad we did. Celebrity is extremely organized and handles every detail from when you land in Quito to when you depart to return home. Our stay in Quito before the cruise was interesting...toured the city, old cathedrals, the equator, etc. The JW Marriott was surprisingly beautiful with very spacious rooms. Because we booked a suite (Cabin 604) on the Xpedition, we received a junior suite at the hotel as well. Although the Celebrity-chartered Avianca flight was delayed from Quito to the Galapagos, Celebrity let us know in advance so we could sleep in. Once we arrived in the Galapagos, we were amazed at the varied topography and weather of the different islands, and of course the wildlife! We still can't believe how many sea lions, tortoises, dolphins, sharks, penguins, albatross, iguanas, sea turtles, etc we saw. Absolutely breathtaking. While the Xpedition is a bit dated and will be replaced with the Flora in a year or two, the ship is clean and comfortable and met our expectations. The food was very good and the service was impeccable. The crew seemed to genuinely want to make the guests happy -- and they succeeded! Our room was cleaned three times a day, which was appreciated since we showered at least twice a day. The excursions were perfectly organized and the naturalist guides were impressively knowledgeable and all had a good sense of humor. We really appreciated that the Xpedition had a doctor on board, as both my husband and I had to consult her about minor issues. We would definitely recommend this cruise if you do not have significant mobility issues. We are in our mid 40s and were probably among the youngest couples on the ship. Although Celebrity offers long and short hikes each day (we did all long hikes) and you would still see a lot if you did the short walks each day, you do have to be able to get into and out of the zodiac/panga in some tricky places. We didn't hear of anyone falling, but it could certainly happen if you have mobility issues. The highlight for us was the snorkeling excursions - two from beaches and three in deep water from the zodiacs. We saw an incredible amount of sea creatures and are thrilled with our Go Pro videos. If you are not equipped to snorkel (at least from the beaches), you would probably feel like you were missing out. The shortie wetsuits provided by Celebrity gave a lot of buoyancy so a lot of first time snorkels were able to join in. This was the smallest cruise we've done, and we were a little worried it would be too small with only 98 passengers -- but we ended up loving it. We quickly made great friends and often met for lunch or dinner. Other reviews mention packing tips... in addition to plenty of sunscreen and dry fit clothing, etc., we would recommend the following items: a multi plug to charge your camera, phones etc; snorkel/scuba socks and gloves; water shoes; an old iPod or cd for music in your cabin; lotion (all other toiletries were provided); alarm clock; and a sporty wrist watch. Don't expect to get much if any wifi on board, so we wished we had brought books to read. If you're looking for a great way to see the amazing Galápagos Islands and are up for an adventurous vacation, please don't hesitate to book this trip! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with ... Read More
I did this cruise several years ago and because of the adventure, the service on board the Celebrity Expedition I wanted to do it again and I loved it again. Each passenger get personal service from the crew, each day is filled with rides to see the animals and birds and fish that are indigenous to the Galapagos islands. The food on board was a great mixture of International cuisine and local foods of Ecuador and its all inclusive! We cruised up to very small Galapagos penguins you could almost reach out and touch them. Beautiful Frigate birds wither large red "chins" flew over us is masses. My favorite of the birds is the Blue Footed Booby with its baby blu feet! And the sea lions with their pups on the rocks and the beaches were so cute. And the best of all were seeing the giant tortoises in their natural habitat from the smallest to the largest some over 100 years old. All pretty hard to not give this a 10 plus on the vacation list Put this cruise on your "Bucket List" The 10 day adventure is the best with a couple of extra days to see Quito, Equador and 7 days in the islands and did I say all inclusive ? You won't regret it! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
It has taken me over a month from my return from the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition to be able to think of sufficient words to describe this wonderful and unique cruise. My husband and I have done 44 cruises and this one has to rank ... Read More
It has taken me over a month from my return from the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition to be able to think of sufficient words to describe this wonderful and unique cruise. My husband and I have done 44 cruises and this one has to rank up there in the top three. We spent two nights either side of our cruise in the JW Marriott hotel in Quito, and this set the standard of our high expectations from Day 1. Organisation and planning was superb, even down to Celebrity reserving the VIP lounge for us at Baltra airport on our arrival after a two-hour flight from Quito. I would not describe this trip as a 'cruise' as it was more of an expedition and adventure. There were 91 of us (the Xpedition holds 96 passengers) so everyone got to know everyone else very quickly on the week-long voyage. The ship itself is gorgeous, beautifully decorated and very comfortable. We had to embark and disembark using the inflatable Zodiac dinghies, each of which holds 16 passengers. Water shoes are needed for the 'wet' landings and stout trainers or walking shoes for the 'dry' landings, which often involved clambering over uneven rocks and ground. We were allocated cabin 416 and we had no complaints at all. There was a comfortable double bed, bedside cabinet, sofa and coffee table, flat screen TV and dressing table and stool. There was also a fridge containing complimentary soft drinks, and each day our cabin stewardess would place fresh fruit and canapés in the cabin, as well as a bottle of prosecco on ice on one occasion. All the food and drinks (including cocktails) were all-inclusive and were of a very high standard. There was no featured entertainment such as one would find on the large cruise ships, but a lot of the time we made our own entertainment and the Ecuadorian staff would put on "Latin Nights" for us and teach us to salsa and merengue, or there would be quizzes, wildlife presentations, Galapagos documentaries and plenty of other things to keep us occupied. It was also a very educational and informative experience. There are 19 islands in the archipelago, and only five of these are inhabited. It was fantastic and not a little emotional at times to be somewhere and see absolutely nothing that was man-made. The array of wildlife has to be seen to be believed; it is like nowhere else on the planet. I could spend all day trying to describe the beauty and unspoilt ruggedness and still come nowhere near being able to do it justics. We spent our days hiking, swimming, snorkelling and just feeling privileged to be in such a gorgeous place. The trip was very expensive (five figures in pounds) but worth every single penny. Simply wonderful. it was our first cruise with Celebrity and it certainly won't be the last; in fact we are booked to go on the Celebrity Constellation in January 2018. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ... Read More
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ship the crew is truly a happy group, when they smile it goes right to their eyes. They are extremely helpful and really intent on making sure everything is the way you want it. Food is good and they really try to give you different options but the menu has a lot of Galapagos foods. The naturalist that were on the board with us was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately I started the cruise with asthma problems and the altitude in Quito made it very difficult breathing and I couldn't do the hikes but they made sure there was something for me to see and do. The main thing that I don't think you would get with another cruise line is that they really seriously care about their clients. My husband hurt his back really bad to where he couldn't move or feel his right leg. The doctor on board the ship sent him off ship to hospital in Santa Cruz. Celebrity made all arrangements to get him there, while we were there they never left us alone, after several hours and the staff had to go back to the boat they contacted a translator to be with us in the hospital the whole time. From there they made hotel arrangements and private transportation the whole time till we got on the plane home. I am so grateful for all the help they gave us during this trying time but also for the amazing time we had all week. It was a blast. I will say the weather was perfect for hiking but the water is very cold ...... but it was amazing.. Worth every penny we spent for this trip. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK ... Read More
A trip to the Galapagos is very expensive . We booked for September as we also went to Peru and Machu Pichu. The weather in peru was great but even though its on the equator, the Galapogos in Septemebr was no better that a decent UK summer and sometimes the snorkelling was chilly. We selected this ship, which is quite big ( holding 48 maximum) as in the week we were there, it fitted ion with our dates. This trip was amazing and made special by the naturalists and guides. This is more of an expedition than a cruise> the guides were superb. Their interest and enthusiasm made the trip interesting and each day a new wonder. There were only 22 of us , and room for 48 and staff of nearly 50 to look after us. Great care was taken of us at all times, especially when we all snorkeled, which was nearly every day. The equipment was excellent and when the waters were "envigorating" we could wear 2 wet suits. You would think that lions and elephants are more interesting that birds and iguanas- but not when you have simply superb guides explaining all about them and Darwins discoveries in the area. Although the food was always of excellent quality, there was a "school dinners" feel to it as you went and collected your meal which was served from large dishes. Im not saying that the food wasn't good, it was, chicken fish fresh vegetables etc ( lobster of course on the last night) however I was expecting the food to be more what i expected from a Carnival trip. It may be of course similar to other ships in the area- lack of space, perhaps. With three, sometimes four trips to walk, kayak,or snorkel every day, there is not so much time on the ship. This cruise was number one on my wish list and it was very expensive. It lived up to my expectations. I would much rather have the inspiring and wonderful guides, more that perfect silver service food, but maybe this could have been tweeked ! Read Less
79 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This is an expedition adventure not your normal cruise you are used to. We were on the inner loop. Want to also state we have done over 60 cruises in our lifetime so far including large cruise ships, riverboats and destinations such as ... Read More
This is an expedition adventure not your normal cruise you are used to. We were on the inner loop. Want to also state we have done over 60 cruises in our lifetime so far including large cruise ships, riverboats and destinations such as Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, and Alaska. Celebrity went above and beyond from the start beginning at the airport where they met us after picking up our bags to the very last night that they brought us back to the airport to go home. We did not do the Machu Picchu extension. We flew in to Quito nonstop from Ft. Lauderdale on Jet Blue and arrived late on Friday night. A Celebrity official was there with a sign that lead us after picking up our luggage outside to the shuttle bus. The ride was about 45 minutes to the JW Marriott. A beautiful 5 star hotel. This was every bit one of the nicest looking places in all of Quito. They checked us in at a private Celebrity table. They will hand you a slip with a code for free WI FI. The next morning we had a wonderful buffet breakfast with so many choices of food and juices. After breakfast we were taken on a nice air conditioned bus to the city of Quito for a walking tour. Around noon we were taken to a restaurant for a buffet lunch. It was very nice. Just be careful about eating any salads or fruit that is not pealed. Also be careful about having the ice in your drinks. Not worth it prior to your cruise to get stomach and bowel issues. I did not see anyone getting sick on our tour or the next day. Then we toured alittle more and got back to the hotel around 4 PM. It gave you a couple hours to freshen up before having to meet again in the lobby around 6:15 to be taken on bus to a gourmet restaurant about 10 minutes away. You get a choice of three entrees with appetizer and desert. It was pretty good. Then back to the hotel for the night. You will have to bring your checked piece of luggage downstairs to a room before 10 pm since they we be taking your luggage to the airport for you. You just keep your carry on with you. You will have to change what we are all used to and pack all your liquids in your carry on instead of your checked piece of luggage for the flight to Balta, Galapagos. They will give you clear directions. Sunday morning we again had the breakfast buffet before meeting in the lobby for our boarding passes and waiting for our bus ride to the airport. They tell you 44 Lbs for your checked luggage and 17 Lbs for your carry on. They weighed the checked bag at the airport but don't worry about the weight of the carry bag because they never checked that bag. The plane is a charted AeroGal or Avianca A320. They serve a nice lunch on board even though the flight was only alittle over 2 hours. The Airport at Baltra was really nice. It was also pretty windy at the airport so they keep all the windows open with a beautiful cross breeze. Then they take us by bus for maybe a 6 minute ride down to the dock where the Pango (Zodiacs) are waiting to take us to the ship that is waiting offshore. SUNDAY afternoon into the evening you get to tour your ship and have the life boat drill like usual. You cruise by both Daphne Major and Minor. We saw frigate birds and Naszca boobies. You are also fitted for your wetsuit and fins and masks. Then got ready for our first talk in the lounge from Monica our cruise director/Naturalist. We went over the next days activities for about 15 minutes where they explain to you that you will have Option one or Option 2 everyday. You then decide which sounds better to you. Then to dinner at 7:30. Dinner was a sit down off a menu every evening. You do have the opportunity to eat under the stars with a special menu. You need reservations for this that you can do once on board. We did it once and it was nice. After dinner we went back to our cabin. We were on deck 3 in 301 the first cabin closest to the restaurant. We loved our room. We had our beds together and it made a nice Queen sized bed. The bathroom was small but we thought the shower was bigger than some large cruise ships. There was a glass door with a string across the top to hang clothes throughout the cruise. TIP: Bring magnetic hooks you can buy on Amazon they stick great on the one wall that is magnetized. We also brought those hooks that stick on the wall that you can peel off at the end without ruining the wall. We probably had 8-10 hooks on our walls to hang all the wet clothes that you will have. MONDAY- SANTIAGO ISLAND(Morning) was the Black Sand Beach hiking first thing over the lava and saw Sea lions playing in the water; lava lizards; Sally Lightfoot crabs; and Iguanas. This was a "wet landing". That always meant that you have to get off the pango in very shallow water. Usually 6 inches to foot deep. I went barefoot myself and my wife wore keens. Then once you get off you bring a towel from your room with in your backpack and you dry off your feet to put on your hiking shoes. Since this was a combination snorkeling excursion you bring the bag that is filled with your wet suit, masks and snorkels and fins, with you and you leave it on the beach until the end of the hike and change into the wet suits and go snorkeling from the beach. This first snorkel was unbelievable. The water temps were between 70-75 the whole time. I had my gopro and right away I played underwater with a sea lion. I got great video it was surreal. . MONDAY-RABIDA ISLAND(Afternoon) was a Red Sand beach and again a "wet landing" then hiked for about an hour then back to the beach where we changed again in the wet suits and snorkeled. This was not as clear and did not see much except for some fish and a small ray. This we heard later was not the best option to choose. The other option we heard was a better choice as they got to stay in the pango for a ride around the island and they saw more wild life and birds. So take the pango option ride for this one instead of the hike. This would also be a better choice for the physically unfit. TUESDAY-ISABELA ISLAND(Morning) Pango ride to the mangroves. I think everyone does this excursion. You can pick a time for this one to sleep in alittle later. This was really nice we saw Penguins , Blue footed boobies, Sea lions, Sea Turtles, Black rays, flightless cormorant and Herons. You do not get out. We also saw a giant 90ft Blue Whale not in the mangroves but out in the middle of the sea. TUESDAY-ISABELA ISLAND-(Afternoon) at 3:00Pm we did our first deep water snorkel. This means you put on your wet suit on the boat and they take you by pango out in about 20 to 30 feet of water and you jump off. We swam with and saw turtles, penguins and an octopus, This is about an hour. Usually we came back to the ship at 4 pm jumped in the shower because we were chilled from snorkeling. Then changed quickly to get ready for the hike. Then around 4:30 or 4:45 we chose an option that was a Dry landing meaning you can wear your hiking shoes and you do not get wet when you land. It was a Tricky landing they called it with 150 steps to the top. We also saw where Darwin landed In 1836 where he carved the year in the rock formation. That night there was a "crossing the Equator party". You get a certificate with your name on it. WEDNESDAY-SANTIAGO ISLAND(Morning) We skipped the Dry landing lava walk this morning which was offered and instead we had our free 30 minute massages that are offered if you are Elite or higher. The girl was very average but what do you want for free. We layed out in the Sun and relaxed near the Jacuzzi. There is no pool. This day they offered a Barbeque lunch outside that was pretty good. WEDNESAY-BARTOLOME ISLAND-(Afternoon) 3:00 PM Deep water snorkel and saw Penguins on the rocks, star fish and a shark. At 4:30 we chose a Pango Ride only and saw more penguins and sea lions. That night after dark we saw Galapagos Sharks circling the ship and then noticed that a Sea Lion jumped on board our ship in the back to stay safe from the sharks. THURSDAY-SANTA CRUZ ISLAND(Morning) This was a wet landing for an hour walk around the island and saw a Flamingo, iguanas, oyster catchers, sallie lightfoot crabs, pelicans, and frigate birds. We had brought our bag for snorkeling with our wet suits but decided not to snorkel because several people said they did not see much. We heard later that someone swam with a sea lion but we did not see that. So we went back to the boat early and they had a great Mexican buffet for lunch. THURSDAY-NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND (Afternoon) 3:00 PM Deep water snorkel that was VERY RUFF. When they warn you on this dive that it is ruff they really mean it. If you have never snorkeled before this cruise and don't feel comfortable don't do this Snorkel. It is windy and wavy. My wife swallowed some water and we had to call the Pango over to pick her up. We saw a White tip shark, Sea Cucumber and different variety of fishes. At the 4:30 or 4:45 option we had a dry landing but this landing was tricky and ruff because of the wind. This is one of the best places to hike. Don't miss this hike. (YOU ACTUALLY SEE MORE on (Seymour). It is very rocky so bring hiking sticks. The walk is over tons of rocks so be very careful. This had a ton of Blue footed boobies with there babies underneath them. It was so cute. We saw tons of frigate birds with the Red blown up pouch trying to attract a female. It takes about 45 minutes to blow up but the bigger the better. We also saw several sea lions sleeping near the end which I got a couple feet away from with my gopro. FRIDAY-SAN CRISTOBAL(Morning) This is the first place to get your souvenirs. We took option #2 the pango ride to the mainland to tour the Interpretation Center by a bus ride then back to town to shop. You will have plenty of time for shopping. We also went by the fish market where fishermen cleaned there fish catch and a sea lion stands next to him waiting for scraps. There was also an inguina there. FRIDAY-SAN CRISTOBAL(Afternoon) Took a Pango ride around cliffs filled with Nazca boobies, Red footed boobies, and blue footed boobies. Saw the Tropical bird they called it and Sea Lions swimming all around. You do not get off. BUT after this tour don't miss asking to get dropped off on the Golden beach where a huge colony of sea lions live. This was so much fun. This is a wet landing. You can walk around and you will see 20 to 30 sea lions and babies living here on the beach. I got alittle to close to one of them and he charged me and I ran. But I got it all on my Gopro. This is a great way to end your last day of a wet landing excursions. SATURDAY-SANTA CRUZ ISLAND (Darwin Research Station) This is an all day excursion if you choose option #1, You leave at 8:00AM pango ride to shore where you pick up a bus that takes parks on the side of the road where you have to put on special boots that go up to your knees so that you can plant your 2 trees if you choose to do so. You leave your shoes in a bag and come back and change out of the boots and back into your shoes. Then you go to the Darwin Research Station to see a few huge tortoises but mostly baby tortoises. Then they take you to a Ranch for a buffet lunch with music and dancing. This is all included. Then they take you around the ranch where the Giant tortoises live free in the wild where you can take some nice pictures. You are supposed to stay at least 8 ft away or the turtle will pull his head in and you will only see his shell. Some of these were over 100 years old. Then back to town with more shopping time. SUNDAY morning you get breakfast from 7 am to 9:00 am. You have to be out of your cabin by 8:00 Am. So you can just hang out after breakfast in the lounge or outside in the back of the ship. Then they will take you back to shore to get on a bus and back to the airport to fly back to Quito. Just some shout outs.........The Naturalists, William and Christina were our favorites. If you are lucky enough to have them on your trip you will be lucky. Lily worked in the bar area and then in the restaurant and did a fantastic job taking care of us. Luis the maîtred always had a smile on his face. Monica the cruise director and Naturalist did a great job explaining all the tours to us each evening. Andrea took care of our room and did a fine job. Others did above and beyond but I cant name them all. This is a cruise of a life time so just do your research and be prepared. We never had to use any bug spray during our June time frame and temps were around 68 to 70 at night and not more than 80 during the day. June was a great month to do this trip as we transitioned from the wet season to the dry and cooler season. If anyone would like to ask us any questions feel free to email me at mvideoman@aol.com Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We had gone on the Celebrity Xpedition for an inner loop trip a few years ago and we wanted to do the outer loop this time and then go on to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. On this trip, we went with 4 other couples. We flew into Quito, ... Read More
We had gone on the Celebrity Xpedition for an inner loop trip a few years ago and we wanted to do the outer loop this time and then go on to Peru to visit Machu Pichu. On this trip, we went with 4 other couples. We flew into Quito, Ecuador from Atlanta and were met by Celebrity guide. She was great and had our luggage collected and on the bus to Marriott hotel withing 45 minutes of arrival. The hotel was great, food really good and service wonderful. Celebrity had people available throughout our stay to make sure we had the correct paperwork, tickets, luggage, etc. The tour of Quito was very good and buses were comfortable. Transfer to the airport, flight from Quito to Baltra, and transfer to ship were fairly smooth. Two problems: First, we had to leave for the airport at 6:00 because of Quito airport runway repairs. This meant early arrival to Baltra and waiting for ship to be ready for us. Baltra did provide a waiting room with drinks and snacks, but extremely hot. Second problem was luggage. We had been told by Celebrity to pack a separate suitcase for extension to Machu Pichu and leave this suitcase at hotel in Quito. When we got to Quito, we were told we would have to take extra suitcase with us. This meant paying extra luggage fees of $45 per suitcase. The ship and cabin and staff were amazingly wonderful. Our cabin, 504, had a balcony, but we seldom used it except to dry clothes. The large outside area on deck 5 had very comfortable seating, great views and all our friends had room to join us there. Staff brought food and drinks to us frequently. Wonderful space. 2 or 3 changes of clothes were needed each day because of heat and humidity so we used the ship's laundry twice. Some did laundry in room, but this meant a cabin full of wet clothes. The food was great and plentiful. Meals were served in main dining room. Lunch was also served at grill on Deck 3 and Dinner was served, with reservations, on Deck 4. Most of our group was too tired at end of day and I have no idea about evening entertainment. There was something each evening after dinner, but I missed it all. Before dinner was a naturalist talk about the next day's activities, These were very well done and extremely useful. Advice was given as to difficulty, activity level, best clothes and shoes, insect repellent, and water. The excursions were as described and the best part of trip. These are the reasons we went on trip, and they did not disappoint us at all. I would do this again if there weren't so many other places to visit! Machu Pichu extension: Most of this trip was great, including fabulous hotel and food, excellent guides (Thank you Ronald and Aracelli), and amazing sites to visit. I climbed about 100 stone steps to top of Sun Temple, and Ronald had to help me get back down. Two problems with the extension: First, the flight from Baltra to Quito stayed on the runway for nearly an hour with no air conditioning and nothing cool to drink. Service was terrible throughout the flight. One of my traveling companions passed out from heat and dehydration and was unresponsive for several minutes. The flight attendants did nothing to help, not even getting ice or cold water. Luckily there were several doctors on board who took control and got what was needed. Other passengers provided whatever was asked. There was a 4 hour layover in Quito before our flight to Lima. We had access to the VIP lounge, so the wait was not terrible, but it did add hours to our long day of travel. Second problem was location of hotel in Lima. We had to drive over an hour to hotel in the horrible traffic of Lima. This meant we arrived at hotel after 10pm, too late for dinner. Up early the next morning for the drive in Monday rush hour traffic back to the airport for flight to Cuzco. Why not use the airport hotel and save all this time? The hotels were amazing and I would have been happy to vacation in any one of them. Just walking through the hotels was an adventure. The train ride to Machu Pichu was incredibly beautiful, dinner on the train coming back was even better. Machu Pichu was more beautiful than expected. Walking and climbing was difficult at times and a walking stick was quite helpful, as was my husband's arm. I did not like the cafeteria for lunch, it was crowded and smelled badly. I'm not sure if there were any alternatives, it may have been best place available. I did like the beer. We visited the Sun Temple on 3rd day in Peru, another difficult climb but also amazingly beautiful and worth the climb to top. I forgot climbing poles and relied on Ronald and husband to get me down. I did not care for the pottery stop, or the llama farm and shopping stops. Others of the group did like them, but I would have preferred more time at the Sun Temple. Our Cuzco tour was excellent, the hotel was a treat. This was my favorite vacation ever and I am so very lucky to have been able to do this. Read Less
50 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not ... Read More
Arrival in Quito- Our flight from Miami arrived in Quito around 6:45 pm. We chose to come in a day early to allow for time to adjust to the altitude and rest before what we knew would be a far from relaxing vacation. We therefore were not eligible for Celebrity provided transfer to the Marriott and had arranged a car transfer through the hotel. Clearing passport control and customs was a snap. We met another 2 couples from our cruise while at baggage claim, one of whom was also staying at the Marriott that night. They were going to take a taxi so we suggested they share our car. As soon as we exited customs our driver was waiting for us with a sign and after he checked with his boss agreed to take all of us. It was the first of many examples of what a class operation the JW Marriott Quito is. Quito Hotel and City Tour- As mentioned the Marriott is a magnificent hotel. They were quick to combine our independent and Celebrity reservations so we could remain in the same room. We do not have elite status with Marriott but they still gave us free Wifi. Regrettably we could not take advantage of the beautiful outdoor pool area because our free day was marred by a very heavy and continuous rain storm. Because of the rain we decided to eat in the hotel, the food was good and amazingly reasonable for a city hotel. The following day we met our group for the Quito city tour. Celebrity has been doing this for awhile and has it down to a science. Having followed the Cruise Critic three part discussion thread for many years I could see how they have responded to feedback and made incremental improvements.They divided us up among 4 busses so that we had about 10 per tour guide, far preferably to traipsing around in a crowd of 40 trying to hear the guide. The local guides are knowledgeable, engaging and clearly focused on making the tour meaningful and entertaining. Our stops included the beautiful Basilica of the National Vow, the Presidential (Carondelet) Palace to see the guards, the Grande Plaza, the Church of the Society of Jesus decorated completely in gold and the Convent of San Francisco. Despite seeing so many sights in half a day the tour was well paced and it never felt like we were being rushed to get to the next stop. Lunch was an extensive buffet at the Opera House restaurant (but no singer performed for us). Afterwards you had the choice of returning to the Marriott or going to the Museo Intinan, the equator museum. It is a private museum and varies in presentation from serious to whimsical. There were some interesting talks on native culture and history offset by displays like a shrunken head. The real draw is getting your picture taken straddling the Equator. It is definitely more authentic than the competing museum nearby which is by all accounts a real tourist trap. The day was capped off by another excellent meal at the Marriott. Transfer to Baltra- In the morning we were transferred back to Quito airport (around 45-60 minute drive depending on traffic). The bags were delivered to an area adjacent to the check in line and then each person took their bags up to the check in desk. After clearing security Celebrity provided access to the lounge to wait for the plane. The two hour flight was very pleasant on a Celebrity charter plane. The meal even in coach included real silverware and was very good for airline food. I noticed a lot of folks eyeing the blue footed boobie linen napkin, and I bet a few disappear on every flight. Once in Baltra clearing customs inspection (where they looked for contraband food items) went quickly and Celebrity provided a nice lounge for us while we waited for the short bus ride to the pier. Transfer to Ship- At the pier we got an inkling of what the next 7 days would be like. There were sea lions hanging around oblivious to the passengers disembarking and embarking, along with pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Celebrity loaded us into the zodiacs 16 passengers per zodiac along with our carry on bags for a short ride to the ship. The first day used to include an excursion but now the only "excursion" that day was a sail by Daphne Island. That gave us more time to settle in, go through a quick safety drill, get fitted for snorkel gear and later get our first excursion briefing. Xpedition Cabin- We were on deck 4, a Premium stateroom. We found it to be sufficiently spacious and there was more than enough storage. There were two closets so my wife and I each had our own. Our cabin came equipped with a three outlet adapter in one socket and the European style outlet already had a US adapter in it. There was a third outlet that is European style and I had brought my own adapter. Initially our beds were made up as a double but we quickly decided the person against the wall would be hemmed in so we had our cabin attendant remake it into two twins with the night stand in between. The cabin included bathrobes and slippers, a small set of binoculars, beach towels replenished as needed and a hair dryer. The TV showed a few different movies each day, no live TV. We never turned it on. Initially when we first arrived the room felt stuffy but after a short while it got comfortable and despite the heat outside we were always comfortable. Xpedition Food- The breakfast buffet was always ample with prepared eggs, breakfast meats, breads and pastries, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, fruits and more. The made to order station featured either omelettes of your choice or sometimes even crepes. The lunch buffet was also plentiful with a large variety of options. You could also choose to eat burgers and such out on the Beagle Grill. Dinner included at least 3-4 appetizer choices, main courses and desserts that varied daily along with some standard choices that were always available. As an option you could reserve a dinner under the stars out back. One day lunch was only available outside with a BBQ feast that even included all the lobster and shrimp you wanted! A red and a white wine were always offered at lunch and dinner, and the servers would also get anything you preferred from the bar. The bar seemed to be always open and the choices were endless. They offered a drink of the day as well. The bar area was also where the self service water refill station was located. Internet Access-The reputation for being agonizingly slow and unreliable is well deserved. Assume you will never get an e-mail in or out and anything you manage will just be a bonus. Best of all, with the excitement from twice daily encounters with the wonders of the Galapagos, who cares? Entertainment- Prior to the daily excursion briefings there was a musician to listen to with a pre-dinner cocktail. After the briefing and dinner most folks were ready for bed but there were a few special nights. One offering was a crew talent show and another was a Crossing the Equator party. There were also a few afternoon lectures. Laundry service- We mostly lived in a pair of swim shorts and a rash shirt in the morning and then changed into a second set in the afternoon, while the morning set we had washed in our room was drying out for the next day. We did have a few nicer items for dinner. Since we were going on to Peru for a week towards the end of the cruise we sent a bunch of items to the laundry and they came back either that night or the next morning washed and folded or on hangars. I think our total bill was around $30. Ship store- The Xpedition offered hats, shirts (both tees and Safari type), shorts and zip off pants along with a very limited supply of sundries. We found the selection of sizes in the clothing was hit and miss so don't count on getting an essential item onboard as they obviously don't restock every voyage. Recreation/exercise equipment- The hot tub on the upper deck was not overly hot but was relaxing. One day I was chased away by a bunch of wasps. After a full day of hiking and snorkeling I never felt the need to try out the exercise room. Xpedition Staff- The heart of the crew is the Cruise Director. She gave the daily excursion briefings, coordinated with the naturalists to cover everyone's requests as to which excursion they chose, made sure folks got on and off the zodiac to start and end their excursions, and generally served as the ombudsman for the guests. The naturalists are the leaders of all the excursions, whether it be hikes, snorkeling or zodiac rides. They impart all the knowledge about the wildlife and geology of the islands as well as insure the safety and enjoyment of the guests. We were very impressed with each one. Our only complaint was one naturalist appeared to have only one speed- fast- and we had to work a little harder to keep up. Everyone had the same comment. The rest of the crew, from the zodiac drivers to the bartenders, restaurant staff, housekeeping, and front desk were all superb and always responded quickly no matter what the request. Shore excursions- I won't describe each shore excursion but will try to capture the various different experiences. There were two excursions each day. Generally the first one started at 8-8:30 and the afternoon one around 3-3:30. Most excursions involved a hike and we could choose a long or short version. The hikes were the same duration, with long or short describing the distance covered. Thus the long walks were by definition at a somewhat faster pace, but still included plenty of stops. At the briefing the night prior the Cruise Director explained what to expect and what we might see in the way of wildlife on each excursion. We did the long walks in all but one case and they all exceeded our expectations. The wildlife truly are unafraid of humans and you often have to walk around sea lions, tortoises, Iguanas and even albatross as they do not move. You don't have to be a fitness fanatic to do any of the walks, however two of them involved long stretches over very uneven and sometimes slippery lava rocks that required care and reasonably good balance, and it did get hot. Two of the excursions ended with swimming or snorkeling at the landing site. For those times we brought our snorkel equipment with us and left it on the beach. If you wanted or needed a wet suit you put it on when you got back from the hike. Since there are no changing facilities or restrooms on the Galapagos you need to wear your bathing suits under your clothes. We elected to wear river shorts which are suitable for hiking and swimming and dried very quickly in the room. There were three deep water snorkeling opportunities. Several were offered as options after the scheduled hikes and one was as an alternative to the other excursions. In those cases you wore your wet suit onto the zodiac and entered the water from the zodiac. All three were recommended for experienced snorkelers and two were also suggested for strong swimmers only. Since we did not do any of these I cannot comment on whether that was really a requirement or just the naturalists being conservative. I do know from reports that one time the snorkeling was not great but twice those who went came back ecstatic about the experience. There were two other types of excursions. Sometimes you could elect a zodiac ride only if you did not want to hike and one time the only excursion offered was an extended zodiac ride. The final day's excursion was on Santa Cruz where we visited the Darwin Center to see the giant tortoise breeding program. You had the option of returning to the ship and returning later to see the giant tortoises in the wild or making a full day of it where you stayed on the island to participate in a reforestation project, enjoy lunch and a folkloric dance show, followed by seeing the giant tortoises. One final comment on excursions, take full advantage of the opportunities. A partial list of what we saw includes sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, Galapagos tortoises, baby fur seals, pelicans marine iguanas, land Iguanas, flamingos doing their mating dance, pelicans, blue herons, white egrets, waved albatross doing their mating dance, blue footed boobies, Nazca Boobies (including hatchlings), Frigates, flightless cormorants, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, hawks, finches, sandpipers, stilts, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, rays, and sharks. I will forever treasure having two penguins circling me as I floated with them. It is truly an amazing adventure! Footwear is always a topic engendering much debate. There are both wet and dry landings. Dry landings mean they either can beach the zodiac so you step onto the sand or their is a place where they can get close to rocks or a small pier. Wet landings mean you are stepping off into ankle deep water. In most cases for wet or dry landings you sit on the edge of the zodiac and swing your legs over onto the sand or into the water. In a few cases there is a pier that lets you walk off the front of the zodiac. Our choice of footwear depended on both whether the landing was wet or dry and the type of hike that followed. If it was a wet landing and the hike was on a flat surface we wore water shoes. If it was a wet landing with a hike on lava or rough surfaces we took off our shoes, got off barefoot, then toweled off and changed into sneakers. If it was a dry landing we generally wore sneakers. That all worked out well for us. We did see a lot of Keens or other sandals. My opinion is that is fine expect over the lava rocks where you can scrape your toes too easily. Transfer to Lima- everyone returns to Lima together. The trip back followed the same pattern as arrival in reverse: Zodiac ride to the pier, bus ride to the airport for check-in, a nice lounge with refreshments while awaiting our plane and a very comfortable flight to Quito with a meal on the Celebrity charter aircraft. Once in Quito the group was divided up into those returning to the Marriott for one or two days and the 24 of us flying on to Lima. This was the least pleasant part of the journey and one where I think Celebrity has an opportunity for improvement. There was a long layover in Quito and we did not arrive in Lima until late in the evening. They then bussed us to the Westin, about 45-60 minutes away. The Westin is a wonderful hotel, but it is not worth it as all you do is go to bed and then get up early for the long ride back to the airport for the onward journey. If there is a hotel near the airport, it would make much more sense to stay there. I know Celebrity wants to give you a 5 star experience all the way, but everyone agreed a clean bed was all we needed for that overnight stay. Transfer to Cusco- The group was up early for the return trip to the airport. As stated, we could have saved a lot of time by staying closer in. Check in was slow but steady, again they delivered the bags to the end of the line and then we took it from there to the counter. This time they did have our boarding passes pre-printed. The flight to Cusco was uneventful and we were met by the Celebrity Peru ground crew to start our land tour. Tours in Sacred Valley- The two days touring the Sacred Valley included an interesting mix of modern and ancient culture. Stops included the Museo Yucay Vivo which showcased traditional Peruvian crafts including demonstrations, the Pablo Seminario Workshop and Studio (a noted Peruvian artist), and Ollantayyambo, an impressive Incan palace and fortress. Lunch the first day was at a Hacienda and the second day at a ranch that included a traditional horsemanship demonstration. The centerpiece of the land tour is Machu Picchu. The trip there was on a train where we sat on beach seats facing another couple with a table in between. The ride started very early in the morning to allow maximum time at the site and includes a so-so lunch. Once at Machu Picchu around mid-morning the tour started. Our guides were so knowledgeable we could not have hoped for more and the site was every bit as exciting, breathtaking and interesting as we had hoped. The morning tour included the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Tomb and residences, the Temple of the Condor, the room of the water mirrors and the terraces. After about 2 hours we took a break for lunch. The day we were there the skies opened up in a torrential downpour just as we got to the Lodge so we decided to wait it out. About half the group decided to remain at the lodge and the rest of us headed back out once the rain let up. The afternoon tour took us to the top of the basic Machu Picchu site including the guardhouse and the sun dial (Intiwatana), as well as the Temple of the Three Windows, the Sacred Plaza and the main plaza. After a welcome rest and an extensive "tea" we headed back to the train station. The trip to Cusco was on the Hiram Bingham train, far more luxurious than the morning train. The seats were roomy and more comfortable and the multi-course dinner (including wine) was reportedly quite good. However, after a very long day of travel and climbing for hours, all the wife and I wanted to do was sleep. Food in Peru- If there is one complaint about the food on the Peru land tour it is that there is too much. The hotels included an ample buffet breakfast, lunch was either an extensive buffet or a multi-course meal and dinner was always a multi-course meal. The food was uniformly good other than one suspected issue. At the ranch where we had lunch the second day in the Sacred Valley many of us that had the beef hearts ended up with intestinal distress later that day. It may be unrelated but nobody who avoided the beef hearts had any problems. A real treat the last night in Cusco was a concert with dinner of operatic arias and duets. Hotels in Peru- These are truly 5 star hotels. The Tambo del Inka in the Sacred Valley has a massive lobby and the highlight was the zeroscape indoor/outdoor pool and spa. The Belmont Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 16th Century former monastery converted to a luxury hotel. A bonus is the Chapel with its elaborate decorations. The Westin in Lima is a modern hotel with every possible amenity. All of them had ample rooms and served as a perfect place to relax after a day of touring. Cusco tour- There were four main components to the Cusco tour. Embedded in the Spanish influenced Convent of Santo Domingo are the remains of an Incan religious site, Coricancha. The more modern San Blas Plaza is representative of colonial Cusco and adjoining it is an interesting church. Sacsayhuaman is a 13th Century Incan stronghold that represents the head of the lion or cougar where Cusco is the body and outlined by the two rivers around Cusco. It is striking for the immense boulders that make up its walls. Finally, the tour ends in the Cusco main square, site of the Jesuit Church and Cusco Cathedral. Tour in Lima- The normal tour had to be altered because it was Holy Week. I am not sure what the normal itinerary would have been. After our flight from Cusco to Lima we drove to the Miraflores area and arrived at Museo Larco. We were treated to another sumptuous meal and then given a tour of the museum with its extensive collection of artifacts from the Vicus period dating back to 1500 BC to Incan relics. We then drove around the Miraflores area before arriving at the Westin. Return to Lima airport- As a final insight into how much Celebrity insures that the adventure is first class, we were amazed at the arrangements for our included transfer to the airport. Since our flight was at 6:30 am we had to leave for the airport around 3:45 am. We expected Celebrity would pay for a taxi or shuttle to drop us off since we were the only ones with that early of a flight. Imagine our surprise when we had not only a private car but a Celebrity representative who walked us through the entire check-in process until we reached security. It was a fitting end to our trip of a lifetime. Final Word- The Galapagos cruise is often referred to as the trip of a lifetime. While we have enjoyed other memorable vacations, such as 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, clearly this is ranks among the most spectacular trips we have experienced. The remote landscape and the abundance of unique wildlife up close and personal, combined with luxury service, makes this a not to be missed cruise. We are very glad we included the Machu Picchu add-on. It should be on everyone's bucket list and Celebrity included a wide variety of stops throughout the Sacred Valley that greatly enhanced the Peru land tour. From start to finish, Celebrity does it right. Photos available at https://www.flickr.com/gp/150374777@N03/779083 Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Booked this while onboard another Celebrity cruise 2 years ago as one of our bucket list destinations. We booked the 2 day pre and post cruise with Celebrity in Quito. The week previous we did our own tour to Machu Picchu and arranged ... Read More
Booked this while onboard another Celebrity cruise 2 years ago as one of our bucket list destinations. We booked the 2 day pre and post cruise with Celebrity in Quito. The week previous we did our own tour to Machu Picchu and arranged our own flights. Were met on the Friday at Quito by Celebrity and transported the 45 minutes to the Marriott. Hotel was very nice, comfortable rooms but the food was slightly lacking. Breakfast the first morning was chaotic as the hotel was full and they quickly ran out if seats and cups in the restaurant. Not impressed but this was the only occasion we encountered this. The Saturday day tour by Celebrity was good. Nice lunch in Teatro restaurant and at night dinner in a local restaurant. The transfers to Galápagos were painless. Luggage taken to ship so all we had to worry about was hand luggage. Boarding passes given out in hotel, coach to airport and basically straight to plane. Flight was good with a nice snack meal. Xpedition is the smallest ship we have sailed on but was very good. Totally different to any other cruise experience. The crew were all excellent, friendly and helpful. We had a cabin on deck 4 which was adequate although we did keep the bed as a double it was a nuisance having one side of the bed against the wall. Air con worked fine. Could have done with a few more drawers for storage and a few more plug sockets. Small bathroom but glass door on shower. Kept very clean. Food was good especially the seafood, lunchtime we preferred to eat in deck at the grill. We ate twice outside in the evening. Was lovely to be outside but menu was same each night. The bridge tour was worth doing. Entertainment was basic but we were so tired at the end of each day all we wanted to do was sleep. Galápagos was amazing experience, the wildlife we saw was wonderful. The naturalists were very good and knew their stuff. We wish the cruise was over 10 days as some days we were so tired and had little time to relax. On return to Quito we had a tour to a local market, then dinner in the hotel. The dinner was disappointing and we wished we had missed this. Food average and service slow. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Our trip to the Galápagos Islands was outstanding. The ship was wonderful in every respect. With only 96 passengers there is lots of individual attention. This is not a fancy dress up cruise but one for those who love nature and the ... Read More
Our trip to the Galápagos Islands was outstanding. The ship was wonderful in every respect. With only 96 passengers there is lots of individual attention. This is not a fancy dress up cruise but one for those who love nature and the outdoors. Outstanding opportunities for nature photography! The naturalists were so friendly and well informed and we enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers. This proved to be strenuous trip, lots of tough walking over uneven terrain but well worth it. This is definitely a great way to cover lots of the islands easily. Everything was extremely efficient and well organized to maximize our experience. We definitely recommend the outdoor dining under the stars as a wonderful experience! Well done Celebrity! We enjoyed all our dining experiences including a chance to try some Ecuadoran specialties. A highlight was the barbecue lunch on deck. As for entertainment, karaoke was a lot of fun. Not really entertainment, but a highlight was the opportunity to talk in small groups with the naturalists to hear about their backgrounds and experiences. Our only bad experience was with American Airlines getting to Quito. They were absolutely a nightmare to deal with so recommend using another airline if you have options. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Quito We arrived 2 days early to acclimatize to the altitude in Quito and also to recover from a day of travel. ( we are from the Toronto area in Ontario. Our observations: 1. Quito was much warmer than we thought it would be and we ... Read More
Quito We arrived 2 days early to acclimatize to the altitude in Quito and also to recover from a day of travel. ( we are from the Toronto area in Ontario. Our observations: 1. Quito was much warmer than we thought it would be and we were able to sit by the poolin our swimsuits on those 2 days before the cruise-tour 2. My spouse forgot her swim goggles for doing length in the pool and was able to find a very modern mall to get anything you really needed (it looked like any north american mall!)It was called “mall el jardin” and was withing walking distance (20mins) and safe during daytime hours to walk 3. The JW Marriott in Quito was fantastic! The best Marriott I have ever stayed in. The staff was wonderful! 4. We got to have access to the executive lounge once we signed in for the cruise-tour. Someone had mentioned that it had to do with our cabin designation; we had a junior suite . The appetizers in the executive lounge were okay, the beer cold, the wine great and the cappuchino machine in the morning fantastic! Unfortunately it was broken our last morning 5. The breakfast was great! Lots of choices. 6. There are lots of restaurants nearby if you arrive a day early. Our favourite was “Crepe and Waffles”, a south american chain that has been around for years. We were the only anglo-saxon in the room. We went @ 6:15 and by 6:30 it was packed! We had savory and desert crepes, pointing to the menu to be understood as our waitress did not speak English. And the restaurant was just across from the JW Marriott! The Galapagos Needless to say, this was a truly amazing 7 days! What to say that has not been said before… 1. prepare to be very very hot! We were not prepared for how hot it was; someone had their phone for the temperature and it was 114F this one afternoon, plus major humidity and we were walking on black rocks! 2. The first day of excursions is the most challenging as our bodies were not adjusted to the humidity and the extre heat! We were given large water bottles to carry with us throughout the trip (well needed!) but that afternoon, on Espanola Island, we really had to ration our water to make it last! And we chose the SHORT excursion! Someone on the long excursion had heat stroke and fell, cut her knee. So, my advice, beware on the first day. That was the toughest excursion, partly because once we had this day under our belt we were prepared, and secondly because it was the most challenging walk. 3. I love to hike but I chose the short excursions as this is not regular hiking. You have to be aware of your feet at all times. I strongly urge you to use a walking stick (they have some to borrow for the excursions if you don’t have your own) 4. The meals were excellent! Lots of variety! The dinner service was not always quick but I think it is to be expected with such a large group eating all around the same time. 5. The beach snorkling was good to poor (2 out of 3 days the waves made it hard to see anything). However, the deep water snorking was terrific. I wish I would have joined my spouse for one of them. The staff told us that there was one deep water snorkling that was appropriate to people who were hesitating. If you can, just do it! I wish I had! 6. The ship rocked a lot, especially the first day/night. I am suceptible to motion sickness but had the wrist bands that put pressure on the meridian and they did the trick for me. I had brought the patch just in case but didn’t need it thankfully! If you tend to get motion sickness make sure to bring medication. It’s too amazing of a trip to have it ruined by this! 7. The wet landings can be a challenge to those that are not very flexible. We had two 83 year old ladies who had canes on our 15 day tour. The naturalists were extremely helpful in getting them in and out of the zodiaks as it was challenging for them. 8. Be prepared to be amazed! The Machu Picchu extension 1. the transfers were done like a well oiled machine. They put pompons on our checked in lugguage and they pulled it out of the carrousel for us when we landed. They would then bring it to the departures for the next flight so we really didn’t have to carry it much at all! We loved that! 2. The hotels were true 5 stars! Our favourite was the Tambo del Inca. The grounds were totally amazing! The pool was half in the building, half out. The rooms had a balcony with a sliding door so we could get fresh air. 3. All the hotels had a great breakfast buffet and an excellent dinner selection 4. The day we go from Baltra-Quito-Lima is an exhausting day. We have to be out of our cabins by 8am. By the time we take the Baltra-Quito flight and connect with the Lima flight it’s already late at night. We got to our rooms at the Westin exhausted, knowing we needed to be up early, to be on the bus by 8:15 in the morning back to the airport to travel to Cusco! It is very tiring but a necessary evil. 5. We had about 6 people that felt unwell during this part of the trip. I myself had a tiny bit of altitude sickness ( feeling like a migraine including huggin the toilet as well as feeling woozy ) on our first night @ Tambo del Inca. Thankfully a couple of advils and put back on my bands for motion sickness (they put pressure on the meridian) and I felt better and better as the day went on. One person on our group had a parasite (had the doctor over and started feeling better almost immediately with the antibiotics, but still not 100% for the Machu Picchu day). Some missed the sacred valley day due to feeling unwell. By the end all were well enough for the Machu Picchu day! I must admit that we had both been very cautious about eating salads and fruits with peels. Maybe overly cautious but it was worth it as we had no tummy upsets. 6. The Orient Express Hiram Bingham train after our Machu Picchu day was so much fun! We had a meal on board with alcohol included. The staff was amazing walking with full plates and glasses without tripping! There was entertainment on one of the wagons. We didn’t go but others who went were totally delighted 7. Every detail was covered by the staff. Our tour guide Miguel was knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the Incas. We were very fortunate to have such a great guide for our tour of Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu 8. We stayed 2 extra days at the Westin in Lima to “decompress” after such a busy trip. We went to the Inca Market in Miraflores (45 mins walk) to get alpaca blankets to bring home for souvenirs. The concierge was great in showing us the best way to get there and assured us that it was safe to walk. There was police at every interection until we got close to the Inca Market (which is in the tourist sector of Lima). We took a cab back home for 15 soles. A bargain! We then went to Ripleys, which is a huge department store a block away from the Westin and bought a duffle bag to bring the blankets back as they were heavy and did not compress well in our already full suitcases. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport ... Read More
We've just returned from the Galapagos, via the Celebrity Xpedition. This is not like other Celebrity cruises. It was all-inclusive from the moment we stepped off the plane in Quito until the moment we were driven back to the airport to return home. Everything was included which made it expensive, but also so much easier. We would say that this was the most exhilarating and most exhausting vacation we've ever taken, so to have everything taken care of was perfect for us. To start we were met at the airport and put on buses to the Marriott in Quito. The following day we were given a tour of the city with a trip to the equator. Since this is a difficult city to navigate and one that shouldn't be traveled alone, this gave us an overview of the city while feeling safe. All buses have guards since crime can be a huge issue there. We arrived back at the airport for the 2 hour flight to Baltra on Galapagos. Avianca airlines provided great service and made me wish we had taken it to Quito rather than American Airlines, which was awful. At the airport we were fairly quickly brought to the dock (5 minute ride) where we donned life vests and boarded our first zodiac boat for the trip to the ship, which never docks, so zodiacs are the only way to board. The ship is small, with only one large lounge which was crowded when all 100 passengers were in residence, but the service and staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. People quickly get to know each other and the atmosphere is always happy. This ships makes people get to know each other. The average age was probably in the 60's, with one 10 year old and plenty of 70 & 80 year olds who were remarkably game. Internet is free but it only occasionally works in the lounge, so don't expect much. It took me almost 2 days to send something. The naturalist and staff are exceptionally helpful. We quickly came to realize that the staff errs on the side of caution when advising what trips to take. For deep water snorkeling they kept stressing that you needed to be a strong swimmer, which I am not. Wet suits make you more buoyant and your zodiac stays close by and carefully watches you so if you have any problems they are right there. We found we didn't see much while snorkeling from the shore but an incredible amount in deep water. Our only wish was that there might have been at least one swimming or snorkeling option a day since in the heat we all longed to go in the water every day. In reading other reviews we picked up helpful pointers in what, and what not, to bring. Even with that there were things we should have brought. The tiny store did a brisk business in tropical shorts, zip-off pants, hats, and a few other necessities that people forgot. Each day you are given a choice of 2 options for both morning and afternoon activities. At first I was disappointed to see that the options were only a long walk or short walk. Sometimes you could just choose a zodiac ride instead of a walk which many did. We quickly came to understand why. After about 2 hours in the morning you need a break. The afternoon activities didn't start again until 3 or 4 getting us out of the sun at the worst part of the day. We chose the short walks which were usually anywhere from a half mile to a mile but factoring in the heat and lack of shade makes a huge difference. We all found ourselves showering and changing clothing at least twice a day, sometimes 3 times. One of our friends said that when walking on black lava rocks while wearing a FitBit his showed that the temp was 115 degrees F. They provide you with a water bottle and you do need to drink often. Don't bother to bring nice clothing since shorts and tee shirts are fine in the dining room. Don't bother with makeup since after the first day no one wears that either. Some men wore a button down shirt at dinner, often with shorts. Invest in a pair of water shoes with a sole. We each got a pair for $20 from Amazon and they were perfect since a lot of landings are in water. Sneakers with a good sole are fine for walking over lava rocks and I found a walking stick helpful (which they provide). No one really had hiking boots. They lend you binoculars, and we brought our own, but frankly, no one used them. Definitely bring a camera. In fact we only had a cell phone (get an inexpensive waterproof case for those wet landings) and a point and shoot (I used a glamorous zip lock bag for protection and it worked beautifully). Other had very expensive cameras with large lenses. Some people found that between sand and splashing water some of their cameras were quickly out of commission so bring back-up. The ship does not sell cameras. We had 2 hats each, which was handy since we would often sweat through one in the morning so we had the other for the afternoon. 2 bathing suits helped also. We did have bug spray but it didn't do much since the horse fly's weren't deterred. We used a 50 SPF sunblock and came home without any burns. Sun glasses really help and most everyone used them. As for clothing, most wore either shorts or light pants and tee shirts or light long sleeved shirts. A bandanna to wet and wear around your neck is a good idea. Unless you plan to pay to have your laundry done bring plenty of clothes clips to hang your constantly drying laundry. When you change a few times a day you are continually washing and drying. The cabin staff is wonderful, constantly straightening the cabins and neatening the mess. The naturalist are wonderful, not only helpful in getting you in and out of the zodiacs, but their knowledge and pride in their islands and their patience is unmatched. The zodiac drivers are also incredible, they will move the zodiac so that both sides of the ship gets equal opportunity to see from their side of the boat. In the evening the schedule is mainly enjoying the cocktail of the day along with the next day's briefing, then dinner around 7:30, then we all pretty much fell into bed exhausted. There is a wonderful guitar player but no other entertainment, and it isn't needed. The Galapagos are the entertainment. Request to eat a night up on deck. It's a fixed grill menu but you can also order from the dining room menu. We also (do it quickly) signed up for a bridge tour and it was given enthusiastically by the first officer. The whole staff was the finest we have ever encountered on a ship, with no exceptions. Yes, this is an expensive trip but worth every penny. Now we're home catching up on sleep! Read Less
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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