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The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to get yourself to Baltra, nearly all-inclusive ten or 11-day package with days in Quito before and after, or the former including $1500 flight credit per person. They call the latter "free flights" but you actually pay $1500 per person or in our case, $1500 for person one and $750 for person two with the buy one get one half off promotion for $3000 worth of flight credits. If you have miles or can find a cheaper route, just get the all inclusive less flights to save the money. However, you will forego Flights by Celebrity support to ensure that you get to the cruise. One downside to using Celebrity for flights: you have to call them on the phone. Do your searches ahead of time. Their prices were similar to published fares and you can use the full credit for first class and pay the difference. We took an AA flight through Miami that used up about $2600 worth of the credits. The first-class fares were way too expensive so we forfeited the $400 credit and had to pay AA for better seats too. Each cabin accommodates a maximum two individuals, adults or children. If you are solo, the single supplement is nearly double. If you have kids, you have to pay the full fare for them in additional rooms. There might be some allowance for infants, but I am not aware of it. The park limits the cruise to 100 passengers so don't expect the usual accommodations for children as overflow guests. There is nothing on here especially for kids. No game consoles. No kids areas. No baby sitters. No kids menus as best I saw. The adventures require good physical fitness over uneven terrain near wild animals that bite if you get too close. I would not recommend it for children. You can forego the adventures but it probably isn't worth paying $10K per person to go on this trip if you are not going on the adventures. One piece of bad news: the arrival times to Quito tend to be late and the takeoff times tend to be midnight and 5 AM so you have to burn up full days on both ends traveling to the US. There is one flight through Panama City on Copa that is better, but it was expensive and you could get stuck in Panama because there are not many alternative flights if something happens. The arrival flights to Quito tend to have a quorum of cruisers so start getting to know your fellow passengers when you see the Celebrity sign. This was a very friendly cruise where all but the large groups were very interactive. Expect to be tired for most of the trip because it is very active and starts early every day. Day one is a bus and walking tour of Quito. It was nice to see but I could have used the sleep. Three meals were included. Day two you fly on a chartered A319 run by Avianca Ecuador from Quito to Baltra. That means another bus ride to Quito airport, about 50 minutes from the JW Marriott. The Celebrity team hands out boarding passes the morning of the flight. You can buy upgrades to first class for around $250 a person per direction. The Avianca staff was accommodating with seat change requests. The ride is about 100 minutes. You drop off your luggage by 5:30 AM in the hotel and it gets inspected and transferred to Baltra so prepare to drop it off the night before and keep your clothes and toiletries. Good news: there are no liquid restrictions on domestic flights. When you arrive, you are placed in a lounge until your section is called. You get on a bus and head for the dock. Instead of boarding the ship, you board a 20-person inflatable, motorized zodiac raft. Your luggage gets transferred and delivered to your cabin so you only need to take your personal items on the raft. Each time you board the zodiac, you have to don a life jacket. The wildlife part of the adventure starts then. Sea lions and birds will be around the zodiac either fishing or sleeping. Watch out for poop. One person got bombed by a bird on one of the adventures. You take Zodiacs between shore and the ship because Flora never docks. It uses a dynamic positioning system to stabilize itself against counter currents. It is a neat idea but the thruster motor sounds were annoying to some passengers with cabins near the front or back of the boat. The system keeps the ship’s anchor from destroying the seafloor. All the other ships in the area use anchors. Boarding the zodiacs can be dangerous so you have to be careful. The zodiacs perform “wet landings” and “dry landings”. Dry landings are against rocks or a dock. Wet landings are generally a beach shore. If you time the waves well, you can generally keep from getting your shoes wet but don’t expect everything to be dry. These zodiacs have a squared-off front with an articulating platform and a stairway so they are much safer than the older zodiacs that require you to crawl over a tube to get on or off. I rolled up my pantlegs to my knees and never once had anything above my knee wet including my backpack. The flora and fauna… wow! It was better than I had seen in pictures and videos. The theory of evolution is obvious in plain sight. There are piles of marine iguanas on shorelines. Sea lions are sleeping, nursing, and rolling around in the water. Land iguanas are guarding their food sources. Giant tortoises are roaming around. Penguins are perched and swimming. So many birds and crabs! I cannot do the animal and plant life justice so suffice to say, it will far exceed your expectations. The rule is to keep a safe distance (~6 ft) from the animals. Although the animals are wild, if you respect the distance rule you will be fine. The adventures area all included so do as many as you like but expect they will wear you out. Each day has a morning and afternoon adventure in two places. The evening before, a group meeting is held in the Discovery Lounge where you select which adventure you want. Most are either a longer, harder version or a shorter, easier version in the same area. A handful of times, you can opt for an ocean kayak or “deep water snorkel” from the zodiac. The naturalists are limited to 16 guests per leader but they try to keep it to 12. They had plenty of naturalists to allow guests to select the adventures they wanted. The only constrained resource was the kayaks but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem on our trip. You arrive the next morning in the Discovery Lounge to get tender tickets. We were always in Tender 1 which was a de facto cohort of energetic, able-bodied, younger travelers. The tender number tended to correlate with physical ability. The “deep water snorkel” adventures meant feeling comfortable floating in the ocean for ~45 minutes using a snorkel and mask where the water is too deep to stand. In return for this effort, we saw and swam with sea lions, turtles, many fish, and even one octopus. One word of advice: take the tender number that corresponds to your interest and ability. If you want a slower place or are less prepared, take one of the later tenders. While they have “rules” about footwear and ability, they are not strictly enforced which can be a conflict when you have well-prepared guests in the first tender and then some slower, less able guests join an early tender with walking sticks and improper footwear. I was one of those people with improper footwear once and powered through it over rough lava and could have hurt myself. On nearly all the adventures, there were plenty of naturalists where you could bow out and let the group continue on if you got hurt, sick, tired, or wanted to return to the ship early. I don’t mean to present the picture that you have to be in great shape to enjoy this cruise. It isn’t handicapped accessible, but there are many older people who enjoyed a slower-paced group. As long as you go with the proper group, you should have a good time. The meals are good, but I have had better on other cruises. There was a Michelin-starred chef on our cruise overseeing the cuisine but he departed with us. The supply of food is constrained by park regulation – Ecuadorian regulations specifying that raw food must be partially cooked before transport to the Galapagos Islands to minimize risk of spread of organisms, for instance. Many of the menus had substitutions because items were unavailable that season or in the park at that time. It would have been easier to reprint the menus that posting the incorrect version for the day and then later finding out that the item wasn’t available as described. There are two eating venues: an open-air top deck and a main dining room. The open-air venue has a more limited menu including burgers, chicken, and fish for lunch and steak, fish, and chicken for dinner. The lunch fries were great when freshly fried. All venues have vegetarian options but were not well suited for people with special diets such as vegan, gluten free or kosher. For instance, there was one toaster and few indications that items were suited for special diets. The staff was good with my food allergies, but I was also careful to make sure I did not try anything in the buffet that may cause anaphylaxis. The staff on this cruise is exceptional. It is much more intimate than a typical cruise because of the size. We had various issues and suggestions. They were quick to address the issues they could. While the dining staff was working very hard and still had additional labor of the training staff that departed with us, the dining room was understaffed and will likely be worse on subsequent cruises without the training staff. Often times, you had to wait or ask for refills, and buffet plates would pile up on the table while the staff was attending to other guests. You get better service if you get there when the dining room opens. They even remember your drink preferences and have them ready for you without asking. The standard rooms are nice and spacious but the suite moniker has been overused. The base “suites” were larger standard ship rooms without any kind of dividers between living and sleeping areas you would expect with a suite. We had a standard balcony which I would recommend over the infinite veranda which does not have a proper balcony, just a sliding window. Standard rooms allow you to put out your clothes to dry and cost less. In the hall near the closet, the carpet was getting wet. There were a few people who had this issue. While the wet socks were annoying, we were thankful that they did not tear up our room to fix the issue while we were on the cruise. The bathrooms have gradually frosted glass that allows you to see out while standing up. Some complained about the lack of privacy because you can look into the bathroom from the bedroom. However, you would have to try hard to see anything. Another drawback of the window is that it doesn’t contain sounds or light as well. We covered up the bathroom nightlight because it made the room glow. The sinks were poorly designed. There is a small filtered, refrigerated water dispenser basin that always made a mess when used for rinsing a toothbrush. We had to put the shower mat under that area because the water went on the floor. The main basin is large but does not drain well because it is mostly flat. The shower is very nice, but the controls were awkwardly placed behind the door that opens inward. For larger people, you may not fit in this shower because of the inswinging door. As any ship toilet, it is very loud and you can hear others flushing throughout the night. Each cabin has a stocked refrigerator, TV, and many US-style plugs. The TV does not get many channels and cut out so do not expect to use it much. They do not print a daily cruise guide unless you ask for it, but it does play on channel 2 of the TV on loop. We would take a picture of the daily schedule as it looped by. The internet generally worked well. It is satellite so expect lots of latency. I was able to make short calls over WiFi. Expect to get about 5 Mbps, plenty to stay connected but do not expect your photos to quickly send. The islands have very poor or non-existent cellular service. Expect to use the ship for your connectivity. The ship was blocking my VPN. I was able to stream from YouTube but expect paid streaming services to block your access because you are out of the country. The passengers were mostly upper middle class native English speakers from the US. For many, this was a bucket list trip. While the trip was expensive, the people were down to earth and pleasant. They arranged Spanish-speaking groups for those who preferred Spanish but the default language was English. The trip exceeded my expectations. The crew and passengers were very nice. The ship was better than the renderings. At the end of the cruise, we were surprised with a USB key containing the pictures from the naturalists and crew. The day after returning to Quito, Celebrity offers excursions for $140 to $190 a person. We had the JW Marriott arrange a tour through a local operator for half the cost. We had a private van take us bird watching and hiking. It dropped us at the airport that evening. There is a private lounge outside of security with a shower for $36 a person. There is a Centurion Lounge past security with a shower and great food. Either lounge was free with Priority Pass. Packing list Comfortable walking shoes Hiking shoes if you want to traverse the lava flows Water shoes Large sun hat Sun shirt Convertible sun pants Rain shell Sun block Bathing suit to fit comfortably under a wetsuit such as a Speedo for men Bathing suit for kayaking Ship supplied: Drinking bottle Wet suit Walking sticks Binoculars Life vest Diving mask Snorkel Slippers Bathrobe Lip balm Small backpack Rain poncho

Well designed adventure

Celebrity Flora Cruise Review by ssnacks

29 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The direct mail solicitation came with a buy-one, get one half off. We were celebrating a birthday and there were still two rooms available for that time. There are three ways to take this cruise: solo seven-day cruise where you have to get yourself to Baltra, nearly all-inclusive ten or 11-day package with days in Quito before and after, or the former including $1500 flight credit per person. They call the latter "free flights" but you actually pay $1500 per person or in our case, $1500 for person one and $750 for person two with the buy one get one half off promotion for $3000 worth of flight credits. If you have miles or can find a cheaper route, just get the all inclusive less flights to save the money. However, you will forego Flights by Celebrity support to ensure that you get to the cruise. One downside to using Celebrity for flights: you have to call them on the phone. Do your searches ahead of time. Their prices were similar to published fares and you can use the full credit for first class and pay the difference. We took an AA flight through Miami that used up about $2600 worth of the credits. The first-class fares were way too expensive so we forfeited the $400 credit and had to pay AA for better seats too.

Each cabin accommodates a maximum two individuals, adults or children. If you are solo, the single supplement is nearly double. If you have kids, you have to pay the full fare for them in additional rooms. There might be some allowance for infants, but I am not aware of it. The park limits the cruise to 100 passengers so don't expect the usual accommodations for children as overflow guests. There is nothing on here especially for kids. No game consoles. No kids areas. No baby sitters. No kids menus as best I saw. The adventures require good physical fitness over uneven terrain near wild animals that bite if you get too close. I would not recommend it for children. You can forego the adventures but it probably isn't worth paying $10K per person to go on this trip if you are not going on the adventures.

One piece of bad news: the arrival times to Quito tend to be late and the takeoff times tend to be midnight and 5 AM so you have to burn up full days on both ends traveling to the US. There is one flight through Panama City on Copa that is better, but it was expensive and you could get stuck in Panama because there are not many alternative flights if something happens.

The arrival flights to Quito tend to have a quorum of cruisers so start getting to know your fellow passengers when you see the Celebrity sign. This was a very friendly cruise where all but the large groups were very interactive. Expect to be tired for most of the trip because it is very active and starts early every day. Day one is a bus and walking tour of Quito. It was nice to see but I could have used the sleep. Three meals were included.

Day two you fly on a chartered A319 run by Avianca Ecuador from Quito to Baltra. That means another bus ride to Quito airport, about 50 minutes from the JW Marriott. The Celebrity team hands out boarding passes the morning of the flight. You can buy upgrades to first class for around $250 a person per direction. The Avianca staff was accommodating with seat change requests. The ride is about 100 minutes. You drop off your luggage by 5:30 AM in the hotel and it gets inspected and transferred to Baltra so prepare to drop it off the night before and keep your clothes and toiletries. Good news: there are no liquid restrictions on domestic flights.

When you arrive, you are placed in a lounge until your section is called. You get on a bus and head for the dock. Instead of boarding the ship, you board a 20-person inflatable, motorized zodiac raft. Your luggage gets transferred and delivered to your cabin so you only need to take your personal items on the raft. Each time you board the zodiac, you have to don a life jacket. The wildlife part of the adventure starts then. Sea lions and birds will be around the zodiac either fishing or sleeping. Watch out for poop. One person got bombed by a bird on one of the adventures.

You take Zodiacs between shore and the ship because Flora never docks. It uses a dynamic positioning system to stabilize itself against counter currents. It is a neat idea but the thruster motor sounds were annoying to some passengers with cabins near the front or back of the boat. The system keeps the ship’s anchor from destroying the seafloor. All the other ships in the area use anchors. Boarding the zodiacs can be dangerous so you have to be careful. The zodiacs perform “wet landings” and “dry landings”. Dry landings are against rocks or a dock. Wet landings are generally a beach shore. If you time the waves well, you can generally keep from getting your shoes wet but don’t expect everything to be dry. These zodiacs have a squared-off front with an articulating platform and a stairway so they are much safer than the older zodiacs that require you to crawl over a tube to get on or off. I rolled up my pantlegs to my knees and never once had anything above my knee wet including my backpack.

The flora and fauna… wow! It was better than I had seen in pictures and videos. The theory of evolution is obvious in plain sight. There are piles of marine iguanas on shorelines. Sea lions are sleeping, nursing, and rolling around in the water. Land iguanas are guarding their food sources. Giant tortoises are roaming around. Penguins are perched and swimming. So many birds and crabs! I cannot do the animal and plant life justice so suffice to say, it will far exceed your expectations. The rule is to keep a safe distance (~6 ft) from the animals. Although the animals are wild, if you respect the distance rule you will be fine.

The adventures area all included so do as many as you like but expect they will wear you out. Each day has a morning and afternoon adventure in two places. The evening before, a group meeting is held in the Discovery Lounge where you select which adventure you want. Most are either a longer, harder version or a shorter, easier version in the same area. A handful of times, you can opt for an ocean kayak or “deep water snorkel” from the zodiac. The naturalists are limited to 16 guests per leader but they try to keep it to 12. They had plenty of naturalists to allow guests to select the adventures they wanted. The only constrained resource was the kayaks but that didn’t seem to be much of a problem on our trip. You arrive the next morning in the Discovery Lounge to get tender tickets. We were always in Tender 1 which was a de facto cohort of energetic, able-bodied, younger travelers. The tender number tended to correlate with physical ability. The “deep water snorkel” adventures meant feeling comfortable floating in the ocean for ~45 minutes using a snorkel and mask where the water is too deep to stand. In return for this effort, we saw and swam with sea lions, turtles, many fish, and even one octopus.

One word of advice: take the tender number that corresponds to your interest and ability. If you want a slower place or are less prepared, take one of the later tenders. While they have “rules” about footwear and ability, they are not strictly enforced which can be a conflict when you have well-prepared guests in the first tender and then some slower, less able guests join an early tender with walking sticks and improper footwear. I was one of those people with improper footwear once and powered through it over rough lava and could have hurt myself. On nearly all the adventures, there were plenty of naturalists where you could bow out and let the group continue on if you got hurt, sick, tired, or wanted to return to the ship early.

I don’t mean to present the picture that you have to be in great shape to enjoy this cruise. It isn’t handicapped accessible, but there are many older people who enjoyed a slower-paced group. As long as you go with the proper group, you should have a good time.

The meals are good, but I have had better on other cruises. There was a Michelin-starred chef on our cruise overseeing the cuisine but he departed with us. The supply of food is constrained by park regulation – Ecuadorian regulations specifying that raw food must be partially cooked before transport to the Galapagos Islands to minimize risk of spread of organisms, for instance. Many of the menus had substitutions because items were unavailable that season or in the park at that time. It would have been easier to reprint the menus that posting the incorrect version for the day and then later finding out that the item wasn’t available as described.

There are two eating venues: an open-air top deck and a main dining room. The open-air venue has a more limited menu including burgers, chicken, and fish for lunch and steak, fish, and chicken for dinner. The lunch fries were great when freshly fried. All venues have vegetarian options but were not well suited for people with special diets such as vegan, gluten free or kosher. For instance, there was one toaster and few indications that items were suited for special diets. The staff was good with my food allergies, but I was also careful to make sure I did not try anything in the buffet that may cause anaphylaxis.

The staff on this cruise is exceptional. It is much more intimate than a typical cruise because of the size. We had various issues and suggestions. They were quick to address the issues they could. While the dining staff was working very hard and still had additional labor of the training staff that departed with us, the dining room was understaffed and will likely be worse on subsequent cruises without the training staff. Often times, you had to wait or ask for refills, and buffet plates would pile up on the table while the staff was attending to other guests. You get better service if you get there when the dining room opens. They even remember your drink preferences and have them ready for you without asking.

The standard rooms are nice and spacious but the suite moniker has been overused. The base “suites” were larger standard ship rooms without any kind of dividers between living and sleeping areas you would expect with a suite. We had a standard balcony which I would recommend over the infinite veranda which does not have a proper balcony, just a sliding window. Standard rooms allow you to put out your clothes to dry and cost less. In the hall near the closet, the carpet was getting wet. There were a few people who had this issue. While the wet socks were annoying, we were thankful that they did not tear up our room to fix the issue while we were on the cruise.

The bathrooms have gradually frosted glass that allows you to see out while standing up. Some complained about the lack of privacy because you can look into the bathroom from the bedroom. However, you would have to try hard to see anything. Another drawback of the window is that it doesn’t contain sounds or light as well. We covered up the bathroom nightlight because it made the room glow. The sinks were poorly designed. There is a small filtered, refrigerated water dispenser basin that always made a mess when used for rinsing a toothbrush. We had to put the shower mat under that area because the water went on the floor. The main basin is large but does not drain well because it is mostly flat. The shower is very nice, but the controls were awkwardly placed behind the door that opens inward. For larger people, you may not fit in this shower because of the inswinging door. As any ship toilet, it is very loud and you can hear others flushing throughout the night.

Each cabin has a stocked refrigerator, TV, and many US-style plugs. The TV does not get many channels and cut out so do not expect to use it much. They do not print a daily cruise guide unless you ask for it, but it does play on channel 2 of the TV on loop. We would take a picture of the daily schedule as it looped by.

The internet generally worked well. It is satellite so expect lots of latency. I was able to make short calls over WiFi. Expect to get about 5 Mbps, plenty to stay connected but do not expect your photos to quickly send. The islands have very poor or non-existent cellular service. Expect to use the ship for your connectivity. The ship was blocking my VPN. I was able to stream from YouTube but expect paid streaming services to block your access because you are out of the country.

The passengers were mostly upper middle class native English speakers from the US. For many, this was a bucket list trip. While the trip was expensive, the people were down to earth and pleasant. They arranged Spanish-speaking groups for those who preferred Spanish but the default language was English.

The trip exceeded my expectations. The crew and passengers were very nice. The ship was better than the renderings. At the end of the cruise, we were surprised with a USB key containing the pictures from the naturalists and crew.

The day after returning to Quito, Celebrity offers excursions for $140 to $190 a person. We had the JW Marriott arrange a tour through a local operator for half the cost. We had a private van take us bird watching and hiking. It dropped us at the airport that evening. There is a private lounge outside of security with a shower for $36 a person. There is a Centurion Lounge past security with a shower and great food. Either lounge was free with Priority Pass.

Packing list

Comfortable walking shoes

Hiking shoes if you want to traverse the lava flows

Water shoes

Large sun hat

Sun shirt

Convertible sun pants

Rain shell

Sun block

Bathing suit to fit comfortably under a wetsuit such as a Speedo for men

Bathing suit for kayaking

Ship supplied:

Drinking bottle

Wet suit

Walking sticks

Binoculars

Life vest

Diving mask

Snorkel

Slippers

Bathrobe

Lip balm

Small backpack

Rain poncho
ssnacks’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Cabin 516
The standard rooms are nice and spacious but the suite moniker has been overused. The base “suites” were larger standard ship rooms without any kind of dividers between living and sleeping areas you would expect with a suite. We had a standard balcony which I would recommend over the infinite veranda which does not have a proper balcony, just a sliding window. Standard rooms allow you to put out your clothes to dry and cost less. In the hall near the closet, the carpet was getting wet. There were a few people who had this issue. While the wet socks were annoying, we were thankful that they did not tear up our room to fix the issue while we were on the cruise.

The bathrooms have gradually frosted glass that allows you to see out while standing up. Some complained about the lack of privacy because you can look into the bathroom from the bedroom. However, you would have to try hard to see anything. Another drawback of the window is that it doesn’t contain sounds or light as well. We covered up the bathroom nightlight because it made the room glow. The sinks were poorly designed. There is a small filtered, refrigerated water dispenser basin that always made a mess when used for rinsing a toothbrush. We had to put the shower mat under that area because the water went on the floor. The main basin is large but does not drain well because it is mostly flat. The shower is very nice, but the controls were awkwardly placed behind the door that opens inward. For larger people, you may not fit in this shower because of the inswinging door. As any ship toilet, it is very loud and you can hear others flushing throughout the night.

Each cabin has a stocked refrigerator, TV, and many US-style plugs. The TV does not get many channels and cut out so do not expect to use it much. They do not print a daily cruise guide unless you ask for it, but it does play on channel 2 of the TV on loop. We would take a picture of the daily schedule as it looped by.
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