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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!

Wildllife paradise up close and personal

Celebrity Xpedition Cruise Review by maudenorman

17 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2018
  • Destination: Galapagos
  • Cabin Type: Premium Ocean View Stateroom
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!
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Cabin Review

Premium Ocean View Stateroom
Cabin XP 314
Cabin was small but OK. We moved from a cabin at the front of the ship (fore) because of the excessive noise of moving the anchor, etc. 314 is more in the middle of the ship and quieter. It had a fairly good sized window, but all of the windows in the ship were foggy and didn't give a clear view. it would be well to take an extension cord or two if you have a lot of electronic devices to charge at night.
Deck 4 Outside Cabins