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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, ... Read More
The Galapagos cruise aboard the Flora is Celebrity's attempt to break into the all-inclusive luxury market. As of the August 4th sailing, Celebrity is failing in epic fashion. The Flora is an incredible ship to be sure. However, the service aboard the Flora is well below the service I have received as a suite class passenger on other Celebrity ships, and it is far below the service one expects from a luxury vacation. For the price, you can find far better service aboard an actual luxury vessel. And if you're willing to accept the poor service you'll receive onboard the Flora, you can take a much cheaper vacation. I have a lot to say about this "once-in-a-lifetime" trip, so I'll try to be concise: Booking: Proof that Celebrity is not ready to enter this market is the fact that the Flora is treated as an afterthought or an entirely different ship while booking. For example, the Guest Ticket Booklet (which you are expected to print off yourself because Celebrity can't be bothered to mail you a copy of this 42 page document) doesn't even list the Flora among Celebrity's ships. I had to wait for 45 minutes on a phone call to Celebrity to find out what number family members should call in case of emergency because the Guest Ticket Booklet didn't even list the Flora. This is just one of many examples of Celebrity and its Galapagos desk not being ready to debut this ship. Arrival: Arrival in Quito was one of the few good examples of Celebrity service. Someone met us right outside customs and took us to the JW Marriott where we had the King size room we had requested. (We are currently on the land extension of our trip and none of our rooms have been booked correctly and Celebrity has yet to address the issue.) Quito: Our one day in Quito was filling with amazing food and adventure. Celebrity has a really good group of people running the ground operations here and it was probably one of the top three parts of this trip. We always had bottled water, access to restrooms, and were given an lovely introduction to and education about Quito. Galapagos arrival: We flew on a chartered flight from Quito to Baltra and were served a nice breakfast on the plane. We had to wait in a lengthy customs line, but I don't think Celebrity could have done anything about that. However, they could have provided us WiFi access while waiting, in addition to bottled water because it was quite hot. Celebrity's "VIP lounge" is a terribly small room with a soda fountain. This was the beginning of the realization that there was nothing luxury about this trip. Ship check in: You would think that on a luxury cruise of only 98 passengers, the crew would know everyone's names. However, the crew never even learned our names (or standing drink orders) by the end of the trip. We were not offered any kind of unpacking service. Key cards didn't work for half of the ship upon arrival and we had to trouble the attendants to gain access to our own rooms. (For the inconvenience, which lasted nearly half a day, we were provided a chocolate bar.) Ship and rooms: Outstanding. The Flora is a beautiful ship, meticulously appointed and breathtaking. We went with the standard balcony and weren't disappointed. The beds were comfortable; the rain shower was awesome, as was the constant ocean view; and we always had hot water. The dining room and Discovery Lounge are beautiful and it never felt like there wasn't enough room for the 98 passengers onboard. I could say more, but a ship like this is only worth it if the quality of the food and service matches the quality of the ship itself, and it does not. No ship is nice enough to justify a poor service experience. Food Service: The food is mediocre. Not terrible, but certainly not great. There's one wonky toaster, the eggs are always cold at breakfast, and some of the desserts were the most stale and bland items I've ever eaten. For being in a country that prides itself on its chocolate (and for being on a ship that only uses local foods), we had surprisingly few chocolate desserts. More importantly, food is not always available! There is a gap between breakfast and the beginning of room service where you can't find anything to eat unless you manage to catch a bartender and ask him for chips or peanuts. If you appreciate that one of the hallmarks of cruising is the free-flowing food and drink, don't book this trip! It's quite easy for Celebrity to call this an "all-inclusive" experience when very little is actually available. For the better part of our cruise, there was only one working soda machine on the ship. And no one ever took my drink order in under five minutes, so getting a Diet Coke was a 15 minute experience. After a particularly long hunt for a bartender one day, we took to fixing our own drinks. None of this may not seem like too much of a problem to you now, but when you realize that you have to start every single day early to make the excursions, you'll wish you could get into and out of the dining room in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, we found ourselves having to wake up an additional half hour earlier (WARNING: You will NOT sleep in on this vacation unless you want to miss an excursion. So don't think of it as a vacation--think of it as an adventure.) to compensate for the slow food and beverage service. Laundry: Celebrity provides laundry twice, but only for four days of a seven night cruise. Thursday is the last day for laundry even though you don't leave the ship until Sunday. For folks like us that had a land extension, this was particularly inconvenient, and Celebrity doesn't offer laundry once on the land extension. Otherwise, the laundry service was great. Excursions: Once you understand how the Galapagos works, you'll realize that Celebrity has very little input on this part of the cruise, so it seems unfair to comment. However, I'll note for anyone considering a Galapagos cruise that you should realize how little freedom you have to explore the Galapagos. You'll always be accompanied by a naturalist. You'll never be able to stray off on your own. You won't be able to interact with wildlife (outside of blowing bubbles at sea lions while snorkeling). Ships have to go to particular places at set times so that there are never too many people in one place. It's the most heavily regulated "adventure" you'll ever take. The fact that excursions are so rigid--and the fact that the first ones of the day are so early--are what make it SO important that your time aboard the ship be particularly enjoyable. That's where Celebrity is falling short here. There's really nothing to do on board the ship between excursions--you can't even eat. Sure, you can order some incredibly mediocre room service. But what you'd really like to do is go up top to the Ocean Bar and sit outside with a drink and a snack. But the crew is unable to handle that, so you have to wait until lunch. It also doesn't help that no matter how many times your husband orders coffee and you order Diet Coke, no one will remember. You can't even get WATER in a timely fashion. I took to sneaking behind the crew section in the dining room to get my own. I'll admit that my review is somewhat biased by the fact that we are still on our "vacation" with Celebrity doing a land extension. This portion of the trip has been equally marred by incompetence and indifference on Celebrity's part. Today they left me on hold for 30 minutes only to tell me to call back tomorrow because the person who could help me had gone home. Keep in mind that they know I'm in a foreign country on a vacation WITH CELEBRITY. I'll update my review later when my rage subsides to see if I want to up the ratings at all. But I don't think that'll be the case... Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely ... Read More
We have always wanted to go to the Galapagos but are so glad we waited for Celebrity Flora, a brand new state of the art ship, built specifically for the Galapagos. We took the 10 day package with 3 nights in Quito. It included absolutely everything! Meals, beverages, gratuities, transfers and charter flight. I would not recommend going any other way. This was a first class package.The Flora was beyond a dream. We had the Penthouse Suite and I could have been happy to spend the entire week right there. The service and accommodations were superb. There were 2 tours daily and only 8-10 people per naturalist to explore the islands. The weather was perfect, in the 70's. Celebrity provided for all our needs including wet suits, snorkels and fins. There is a laboratory on board. The tenders were easy to board and comfortable to ride. This was our first cruise on Celebrity and we have already booked another. Best cruise ever! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I ... Read More
I wish I had read the Cruise Citic Reviews for this ship before I booked. I would not have gone ahead. Many of the reviews do not have nice things to say about this ship and they are accurate. Silversea claim that this is a 6 star ship. I have done several Cruises and it is1 -1.5 stars at best. So in summary I paid a six star price for a 1 star ship. Everything on board is the cheapest of the Cheap. Even the bottled water in the cheapest they could buy. No Evian here - cheap water from somewhere in China. Cabins are rusted, no AC working, crew is not allowed to speak any other language then English and they are Latin Americans. The quality of the meals is the worst ever I have, the lowest quality and charged as a 6 Stars. Ship - Tired and Run Down. Staff - poor levels of english and you have to ask for everything 4 times Management - Don't care - we told them of our dissappointment only to be ignored - One manager organised one special meal for us and that was it. Special Requests - At first they tell they can't do special things for you hoping you will stop asking then after a while the reluctantly give in and get it for you - not what was expected on a "6 star" ship. Don't expect any pampering on this ship. They claim to have daily yoga, pilates and fitness classes - they had nobody on board to do them. This is the worst cruise I ever gone and not worth a Penny is TRASH.. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Could not have asked for a better experience. From the moment we were in the hands of Lindblad everything was handled flawlessly. Pre travel questions were handled in a professional timely fashion. All land accommodations were ... Read More
Could not have asked for a better experience. From the moment we were in the hands of Lindblad everything was handled flawlessly. Pre travel questions were handled in a professional timely fashion. All land accommodations were excellent. Embarkation and debarkation were well coordinated and executed. Ship board accommodations were comfortable, roomy and clean. Housekeeping visited the cabin on a frequent basis to insure cleanliness throughout the day. The dining room and staff were excellent. Special appreciations to the wait staff and cooks. My son has dietary restrictions and they were very attentive to his needs and provided alternatives when necessary. Food was very good and a good variety of options. All of the days activities were well planned and explained as to the degree of difficulty or other particulars.While the day was full we never felt rushed or "we have a schedule to keep". The naturalists were knowledgeable and eager to provede information and respond to questions. I have already recommended this trip to friends and will certainly consider Lindblad for future trips. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
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 ... Read More
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 Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided ... Read More
The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for my family of 4 (spouse + two college age adults). I've been planning this trip for a while and when I saw last year's announcement of the Celebrity Flora coming in 2019, I decided to wait to make the trip on this new Ship designed specifically for these islands. I have to say that I am glad I did and the cruise exceeded all of my extremely high expectations. We chose the Penthouse Suite 625 because it looked completely amazing with its sweeping 270 degree views and awesome family area to play games and hangout (inside and outside). We're glad we chose and got 625 over 525 because we prefer the split balcony vs the single wrap around balcony. The balcony advantages include being able to see on both sides of the boat (vs limited to one side). In addition, the alcove-like side balcony allows for reading or napping in privacy while the larger main balcony is large enough for all of us to hang out together if we want ... the best of both worlds. 625 is also preferred because it is slightly higher and feels more private. We also reserved 624 which is the cabin right next to 625 for our children. I highly recommend this configuration for a family of 4 travelling. For those wondering whether getting the Penthouse suite is worth it, i would say the following: If you can afford it, do it. The Penthouse suite is unlike any other Suite I have ever seen on any boat. The panoramic views are spectacular and the extra space allows you to do things as family together (like playing board games which we love). The huge jacuzzi tub is another totally crazy amenity. Lastly, as a penthouse suite guest we made all our excursion requests through the Chief Naturalist directly after the briefing each day. Our family has been on many cruises before on Princess, RCCL and Disney and were struck by how different our experience was on the Flora vs previous MegaShips ... in a good way. The personal service and attention were superb throughout our cruise from the time we boarded to the time we disembarked. Each day was packed with shore excursions in the morning and afternoon with extremely knowledgeable Naturalists. Groups size varied from 4 - 11 for our excursions which was fantastic. The animals, plant life and landscape were extraordinary. We did not know whether to take the outer loop (our trip) or the inner loop itinerary so we chose blind on reserving. It turns out that it doesn't matter a lot since the key things we missed out on were the red-footed boobies and the iconic landscape view you always see when you search for Galapagos on Google. Don't fret, the iconic views on the outer loop are just as jaw-dropping and you get to see the waved Albatross which you can't get in the inner loop. The snorkeling excursions were amazing and wet-suits were provided to help you stay in the water longer. The food for the cruise was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The room service menu was limited but was still good enough. Andrea was in charge of Hotel Services and did a excellent job of making sure all her guest were having a good time and enjoying. She even arranged a visit for us to see the Bridge and have Captain Vladimir explain how the Flora operated. Service throughout the ship was excellent. Hymena was our cabin attendant and she always made our room clean, neat and comfy. The waitstaff in the dinning room knew your favorites/preferences after your first day and provided terrific service as well. Last but not least, were the team of Naturalist who took us on all the excursions. They were super knowledgeable, friendly and answered all the questions we through at them. Even though this is a new boat, Celebrity staffed the Flora with their best Galapagos Naturalists to get this new boat off to a good start. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because of its 23 night itinerary of very varied destinations, covering South America through to Europe, we had previously cruised with MSC on the Opera, based in Cuba, which we really enjoyed. Sadly this cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its 23 night itinerary of very varied destinations, covering South America through to Europe, we had previously cruised with MSC on the Opera, based in Cuba, which we really enjoyed. Sadly this cruise turned our to be the worst possible nightmare! - We booked the Top Grade Aurea package as this includes "My Choice" dining, where you can dine anytime between 7.30 and 10.45pm, and at a table size of 'your choice' either on a large shared table or an individual table for 2, it's all based on "My Choice" - The Aurera Class also includes the 'Inclusive Drinks Package' and provides a priority boarding procedure. After a smooth embarkation, we found our cabin on deck 15, to be superb, after the usual Safety Drill, we went to a bar for a drink so that we could settle into our new home for the next three weeks... Little did we realise the horrors that were to follow! At the bar we were told, Sorry you cant have a drink on this Cruise Card Code, this is only valid for a drink whilst eating in the restaurant or buffet during meal times, we told him that we had paid for The Aurea Class etc, he merely told us to go to reception and see what they have to say about it... We went down to Reception only to find dozens of people all queuing up with various complaints, we waited very nearly an hour before we reach a receptionist, on explaining what had happened, we got the impression that he thought we were just trying to get something extra for nothing! eventually after making some phone calls he said that he would change the cruise card and code, this worked at the bar and we got our two drinks, and we then felt more relaxed about this unsettling incident! At around 8pm we went to the Aurea Restaurant and asked for a Table for Two, only to be told that they did not have enough Tables for Two, also they were full and had no further room until after 10pm, which would be on a large shared table, we declined this and left, we did not eat anything this first night, as there were no free seats in the buffet either... The next morning we telephoned the Restaurant to make a reservation for a Table for 2, at around 8pm, the Restaurant Supervisor told us that he could not promise to do this as there are not enough small tables, he suggested that we arrive at the restaurant at 7.30pm right at the opening time and he would 'try' to get us a 2, he then said that if he did manage to do this, we would have to agree to keep this particular table and time for the whole duration of the cruise, we agreed to this, and he did get us seated on a table for 4, but for our use only, on the strict understanding that we vacated the table by 9.45, so they could get it set up for the second sitting... We carried on like this for the remaining 22 nights, which is certainly not what MSC promote in their "My Choice" dining options, another annoying thing is that the ships photographers would come around the restaurant 'whilst you are eating' and virtually insist on taking your photograph sometimes even by sitting with you or cuddling you!!! We gave up even trying to get a lunch in the dining room, as they only have 3 Tables for 2, in the entire restaurant! - In most cases we tried to eat ashore as much as we could to relieve some of the stress of dining on-board... With the Aurea Inclusive Drinks Package, we were unable to choose a wine either in the bar or restaurant, we could only request a Red or White wine, we were not looking for the Premium Brands, just basic drinks, could not select type of wine, or get an Irish Coffee or even a Bloody Mary, you were may to feel that you were trying to cheat the system! In addition to the dining saga, we found the theatre shows to be rather poor and repetitious, the Cruise Director seemed to get most enjoyment from his pre-show introductions, which he delighted in giving out at high speed in several different languages, apparently for his own amusement. Relaxing in the various Bars was often spoilt by the fact that sales staff would set up tables along side the seating, to sell Watches and Perfumes etc, it was at times like sitting in a Market Place! We appreciated most of the shore excursions that we did, particularly as they got us off the ship! - We actually tried to fly home to the UK from Brazil after just four days on board, sadly this was the Easter Holiday weekend and most of the flights were either full or very expensive, we reluctantly decided to stick it out until the bitter end! As a result of this very distressing cruise we have now decided to cancel our 2020 cruise, as there is no way we could go through this dreadful experience again, which is a great shame as we have enjoyed many cruises in the past on various shipping lines, including MSC, but NEVER AGAIN with them! In all fairness, we must mention that we found the ship itself to be clean and smart and all the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful... Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. ... Read More
It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. The menu at buffet and restaurants did not have many options, specially if you do not want to eat meat. They take a lot of time to refill food and coffee, when they do. Napkins at the buffet were dark blue fabric, dirty and smelly as well as the plastic glasses to drink water. Dining tables at the buffet were usually dirty, they did not remove the dirty dishes and stuff very fast. No enough tables at the buffet, it takes some time to find a place to seat. No shows at the theater for several days, even at sea days. However, one night there was the best show we ever enjoyed at cruises, with an Argentinian singer, Guillermo Guido. Great show. Instructions to connect to the Internet were not given to the rooms. After some time, we finally found the instructions on a blackboard near the Reception office. We wasted a lot of time with long lines everywhere because there were just a few officers to help you. It seems that they did not have bilingual crew. The library was very limited, not only the quantity of books available but also its schedule. The person in charge of the library did not speak or understand basic Spanish, in spite of most of the passengers were Argentinian. The crew looked very tense and did not smile at any moment, they just did the minimum required with a tired face. Finally, they charged for water and everything, even for the only scale they had at the gym, $9!!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I think I should start with what I did like. The new (i had not seen these before) hand wash system in place and the covers over the dining selection in the Lido dining room. Its a pity that guests do not adhere to using these and it is ... Read More
I think I should start with what I did like. The new (i had not seen these before) hand wash system in place and the covers over the dining selection in the Lido dining room. Its a pity that guests do not adhere to using these and it is not monitored by staff. Only one sanitiser as you come out of the lift and again not many use this either before going to the food counters. I think the comedian on board hit the nail on the head when he said that these things are done to stop guests getting infected and ill. I saw guests drinking the juice from the breakfast selection and leave the now dirty glass on the counter in front. Another leaning on the glass covers on the section making the rolls up, Guests filling water bottles direct by placing bottle inside the dispenser instead of filling a glass and pouring into bottle. Bowls of apricots and nuts etc removed completely from the cabinet when there are spoons to use in each bowl. Guest could not work the tongs on the cold meats and sliced cheese counter so proceeded to hand pick her slices with her hands. The Café a guest took of his hat and placed it on the counter while waiting for his coffee. I think I will leave that there but every day at least once I witnessed something that made me question where are the staff as I challenged on 2 occasions only for the guests to flare up and get angry with me. I did get a stateroom change as 1962 was very noisy and I couldn't get decent sleep. Started usually around 4am to am due to engines and propellers side thrusts when docking. Not recommended. Too many trips down to guest services regarding laundry, I had paid for unlimited laundry package but still had this put this on my bill 3 times and I had to go to guest services to get it removed. Drinks put on my bill in the dining room that I did not have (although) this was removed before I saw it on my bill. Easter came and went with no recognition apart from hot cross bus offered in the bread roll selection in main dining room and 2 mini choc eggs left on the bed instead of squares. No entertainment in the theatre on Easter Saturday and very limited bars. I asked Michael the travel agent on board why no show etc and was told it was because we had 2 late departures and this very often happens? So we went out ashore in the evening but because it was Easter everything closed between 4pm and 8pm so we went back to the ship.We had 20 nights on boad and the Zaanda singers and dancers were only on 4 times? We are booked on the Westerdam in October (this was booked before we had cruised with Holland America) so I asked Michael for some information while we were on board as he said he had just joined Zaandam after 6 months on Westerdam. He told me couldn't help me as I did not have my booking reference with me. I am sure had I been going to book he would have been more helpful. Drinks are quite expensive. Ran out of IPA (bottled craft beer) 7. but not available.7.25 and 7.5 volume too strong for the average drinker. Hand pump for boddingtons . Rekordling cider ran out in Crowes nest. One day of rain and water was leaking through the ceilings into the Lido dining and through a light fitting outside the toilets and Crowes Nest bar. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like ... Read More
We recently travelled on the zaadam for three weeks although we enjoyed the cruise It was spoilt by the lack of entertainment at night, not much going on in the day either, no sail away parties, no fun around the pools, the ship was like an old folks home! We are entering our 70's but that does not mean that we want to be in bed by 10pm. The ship was like the Marie Celeste after dinner. There were 4 shows with the ships singers and dancers in 20 nights, the only time we saw them after this was eating, other ship we have sailed on we have seen the dancers taking part in the daytime activities, what a job they have 4 shows in 20 nights. Our evening entertainment one evening was the blue planet which has been on TVs at home it was a pleasant hour as the ships band accompanied the action on the screen. We tried the disco on several occasions only to find Erica propping up the bar with her iPad there was no acknowledgement that we were there which seemed a little rude as there were of six other people, she made no mention of what she was going to play just touched the iPad screen. The one evening we stayed in the disco until 12 midnight with four other people only to find the bar staff closed the bar switched off the lights and said goodnight! The ship was very cold in the public areas, deck 4 & 5 and particularly the theatre were guest were wearing body warmers, cardigans, shawls and jumpers, when I complained to an Officer I was told that it would get warmer closer to the equator, it didn't. Surely in would be in Holland Americas interest to have guest staying in the bars and discos longer rather than most people being in bed by 10pm . Will we travel with them again very doubtful it would have to be an exceptional itinerary. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Choose this cruise for the itinery and appeared good value. Cabin fine we choose interior and are happy lots of storage. The itinery was good and we saw lots the highlight was transitting the Panama canal AWESOME. Yes there were senior ... Read More
Choose this cruise for the itinery and appeared good value. Cabin fine we choose interior and are happy lots of storage. The itinery was good and we saw lots the highlight was transitting the Panama canal AWESOME. Yes there were senior passengers on board but we were treated as aged and any entertainment past 9.30 pm was considered to be a disturbance to those asleep in bed according to the entertainment Director Tino We asked for 50s 60s night party told NO we asked to change music on lido deck which was on a loop and told NO asked to have an announcement when crossing the Equator and told NO after going through Panama canal no cheers no horns no nothing. Even Easter Sunday passed without any acknowledgement. Easter Monday late bought round some trays of chocolate. All passengers I spoke to English some USA and Australians said they were bored had never read so many books on holiday or been in bed so early. The Captain sails the ship the engineer keeps the ship going the chef feeds the passengers. The Entertainment director and assistant should keep the passengers happy and entertained well it didn't happen 4 shows from cast in 21 days hardley ever saw the entertainment Director no people skills bad jokes telling us to take clothes from people's cases left in corridor night before departure !!!!!. Very inexperienced person did not know the passengers feelings never asked how things were? Deputy Erica needs to change her job not happy does not speak or acknowledge passengers is not part of the team that makes the ship work. Some people had been like us on many cruises 5 plus and could not believe the lack of entertainment on offer. No sail away parties and the disco should be closed and used for something else. Very sad to be writing this as had high hopes for this cruise the itinery saved the day. And finally the main entertainment areas were freezing main stage theatre wajang theatre, Dining room, people got colds coughs and All the throat sweets were sold out. We would sit in the main stage theatre with body warmers on. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have sailed mostly with RCL previously and was looking forward to sailing with a different cruise liner. This was our first time sailing with MSC. Embarkation process was alright. We embarked from Salvador (Cruise started in Santos, ... Read More
We have sailed mostly with RCL previously and was looking forward to sailing with a different cruise liner. This was our first time sailing with MSC. Embarkation process was alright. We embarked from Salvador (Cruise started in Santos, Brazil a couple of days before we embarked) and therefore they only had 2 staff at the check in desk which probably took longer than it should have. As soon as we got on the ship, my first impression was what a stunning ship! There is a lot of mirrors which makes the ship look even bigger. It looks very extravagant. It has a water slide, jungle pool, pools, jacuzzis, zipline, bowling alley, arcade, library, theatre, cinema etc. Our rooms were also ready unlike RCL where you have to wait until 2pm (we were in the ship around 12ish). We had a balcony room and it is very spacious and the bed is comfortable. Also the wardrobe space is adequate. They describe the ship as a smart ship. I recommend purchasing the wrist band (about $5) as you don’t have to worry about your cruise card at all. But you will need your cruise card when you get off the ship. You can use the wrist band to purchase things and for reserving theatre shows if you haven’t done it yet on your TV. There’s about 11 free movies and some of them are quite decent. Live TV channels are also available that caters to different language speakers (we’ll come to that in a moment). You can also check menu from the dining room on your TV and book spa/excursions. I would also recommend downloading the MSC for Me App as you can use it onboard to check for activities and book stuff without having to pay for the internet. You can connect to the ship WiFi and then use the Internet ID that you can find in your cruise card and cabin number to log in. This will not work unless you are connected to the ship WiFi, i.e. will not work outside the ship. Now for the not so good reviews. Food - If you are looking to go on a cruise and worried about gaining weight- this is the cruise for you. The food is not great in the dining room - with the exception of desserts, they’re pretty edible. The buffet isn’t great either. No comparison with RCL on this one - RCL’s food is definitely better! Service - In comparison with RCL, I missed the smiley faces of the crew regardless of who you are. In RCL, they greet you in the corridors with a big smile, everywhere in the ship. In MSC, you’ll be lucky to get one. The staff are pleasant but they don’t go that little bit extra which makes your cruise special. Entertainment - In terms of activities throughout the day - you’ll get bored. There’s nothing fun. This is what the ship lacked - a sense of fun! A waste of a beautiful ship! However, the in-house entertainment is definitely better than RCL. In fact RCL can learn from MSC in delivering a great show. Also the staging and costumes are phenomenal. However, the guest performers on some nights are quite so-so. Language issues - It gets a little bit exhausting when they had to repeat the same thing 7 times in different languages. It’s mostly a Brazilian cruise but dear God, apart from Portuguese, it was translated to English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish. So an announcement that should last 30 seconds, lasts about 10 minutes. They need to learn from RCL on this one on how they make it work. Disembarkation - the disembarkation is also an issue. We were delayed in our stop in Malaga due to three medical emergencies during the cruise (one was a pregnant woman who had to be taken off the ship using via an air ambulance). So when we disembarked in Malaga, we had to queue for about an hour before we were let out and there was no queuing system so people started overtaking us. It was a shamble! Overall, I think it’s a nice ship and I would go back only if it is destination heavy. Will never go back on a transatlantic cruise, it was a slow death! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This review is for two adults in an Aurea balcony on MSC Seaview. Salvador , Brazil to Barcelona, 11 nights. Our first on MSC... Boarding in Salvador was very quick, we were in our cabin by 12.45. Most passengers started 4 days before ... Read More
This review is for two adults in an Aurea balcony on MSC Seaview. Salvador , Brazil to Barcelona, 11 nights. Our first on MSC... Boarding in Salvador was very quick, we were in our cabin by 12.45. Most passengers started 4 days before us in Santos and reported 5 hour delays getting onboard. We were told the ship only had 3400 passengers out of a possible 5179. The Cabin was clean, amazing bed and pillows, big interactive TV and we had a large balcony with two sunbeds, 2 chairs and a table. Our room steward was friendly and sorted several things we needed straight away. The bathrooms a good size with a roomy shower with three pressure settings. The decor of the room was an awful green and didn't match up to the rest of the ships glitzy interior. The rest of the ship is very nice, its modern but classy. The Swarovski staircases were stunning. The ship is marketed as bringing you closer to the ocean than ever before but i found the opposite. As deck 8 is open air, the rest of the ships built inwards, therefore restaurants were surrounded by decks and chairs not seaview windows, the side panels were very high along the decks, no venue at the front of the ship to look out from, decks 4/5 had little to no windows at all and at the front there is a massively high side wall blocking deck 9 balcony views. Some days there was very loud and deep bags from the waves hitting the hull, you get it on all ships but this was much worse than we have ever experienced. Another passenger we met actually complained and they were told by an officer its the ships design and the speed we were going at the time... The pools are salt water and were not heated. There was more than enough sun beds across the ships which were very comfy with headrests. We found the food to be very good overall. The main buffet had lots of stations and did vary each day. The buffet stopped dinner at 10pm and then pizza was available until 2am and the Pizza is amazing! We found numerous veggie options in all eateries every day. The smaller buffet on 16 has themes each night including tex-mex, BBQ and Indian. They could get crowded so i dread to think what it would be like with over 5000 onboard. The main dining room had lots of options every night, usually 4/5 main courses plus the "always available" menu giving you another 5+ main course options. The service was mostly very good, just the occasional delay between courses. Every third night was also themed in the main dining room. One afternoon we tried lunch in Golden Sands and was seats in the Bella Fantastica area. Our experience was very different, the service was extremely slow and the mains were cold they took that long to come. The waiters had too many tables to serve and it doesn't help them that everyone gets seated at the same time causing a big rush. The tables for 2 were also extremely close and in long rows, you may as well have been on a table for 8/10. If we would have had this experience the entire cruise we would never consider MSC again. We ate at the French Bistro twice and its great value for money at $15pp. Portion sizes are massive. There is lots of nice bars all over the ship and plenty of seating. Seaview lounge is nice with chilled acoustic music, the Garage club seem to just fill a walkway, shine bar is a good spot for listening to any musicians in the atrium and Sunset beach bar was often lively with an afternoon DJ set. A glass of wine started at $3.40 and cocktails were mostly $7.90 upwards. The coffee onboard is very good and they serve is everywhere. Entertainment was the biggest disappointment, the in house shows were shockingly bad, propped up by the odd quality variety act. The shows became boring and the acts were repeated. All of the musical shows include opera, they even worked it into their dire Tina Turner tribute. The shows were only 35 minutes each as there is three a night, 19.45, 21.00 & 22.15. The theatre is small for the size of the ship, so it will be a struggle to get in when the ships full. There was lots of good bands/ singers on across the ship during the day and evening. Daytime activities were average, most being games or chargeable activities. The slides were great fun, especially the surf board one. The zip line was closed when ever its windy, which is a lot of the time on a moving ship... The party's in the atrium had a great atmosphere and went on until the early hours. The two male cruise directors were almost invisible, the only time we saw them was in the dining room or buffet. Clearly employed for their language skills to quickly open the shows then disappear but not much else. We found the MSC for me app really useful, booking everything on it. The wristbands were much easier than carrying your room card and worked for everything including access to your room. Communication onbaord was very poor, PAs were inaudible most of the time and no announcements from the captain, even after a 3 hour delay leaving Salvador and then arriving into Malaga half a day late. As others report with MSC the Pas are made is multiple languages, we counted 7 one night and i have to agree it does become tedious. The main staff were really very good. They went out of their way to help, they were always polite and happy to chat. Our main waiter was great, very chatty and friendly, he would always give us little appetisers before we even ordered. The service overall was very personal for such a large ship. Aurea Experience- With Aurea we had my choice dining so could turn up when we wanted between 6pm and 10.15pm at Golden Sands and select a table we wanted. As we booked a while ago we had the old "classic drinks package" with upto $8 drinks, coffee and gelato. This included the vast majority of every drinks menu across the ship and was a great saving for us. We really liked the chilled top19 deck, lots of sunbeds, 2 Jacuzzi's and nice sofa seating by the bar. It was very quite compared to the main pools and the server said its always quiet up there even when the ships full. We used our massage that was included which was really nice, however as soon as they finished they were trying to sell you more. The free access to the thermal spa was a really nice bonus too, there were about 8 different rooms and the salt room was so relaxing. There was a few nice touches in the cabin too with slippers, robes and a diffuser. You also have priority disembarkation and your bags were ready first in the terminal. We loved Aurea class and would not sail MSC without it because of the flexibility it gives you. Getting on and off at the ports was easy during the cruise but final disembarkation was painful with ques to get off and ques in the terminal. We did not like MSCs disembarkation procedure, giving us times to meet and get off and also taking our bags away the night before. When we went to the meeting point there was no staff or guidance so we just made our own way off after breakfast. Taxis to the airport from the cruise port are 39 euro fixed price. Few Tips for anyone new to MSC or Seaview- - You only get sunbeds on your balcony if you book Aurea on deck 9. But the very forward ones have obstructed views which they don't tell you when booking. Go 9024 or backwards. - Aurea bookings now only give you easy drinks package which is up to $5 and this really reduces your drinks list. You would have a few wines and Skol beer along with the house vodka and gin with mixers. If you like cocktails, proper coffee, branded spirits and shakes its worth upgrading, i believe you can just pay the difference in the package prices. - Bella and Fantastica have set dining times and your not guaranteed a table size or time. Dinner times were 6pm, 8pm & 10pm in Golden Sands, 7pm & 9pm in Silver dolphin. - Book shows the day before if you want to get in. - If you use the spa they have sales during the cruise. Getting on it was 10% off when you booked 4 treatments but a few days later it was 30% each one. - No kettle/ coffee machine in room, take your own as getting one was not easy. Finally comparing MSC to our favourite cruise line NCL. MSC defiantly felt more upmarket because of the look of the ship and our Aurea experience but it was more restrictive. We had a very nice cruise but because of the lack of good entertainment we would choose NCL hands down. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Modern ship, many open areas from which you can admire the sea. I liked the track with a transparent bottom. The glass was clean and it was clearly visible what was happening below. Lots of fun for kids. There is a water park, rope ... Read More
Modern ship, many open areas from which you can admire the sea. I liked the track with a transparent bottom. The glass was clean and it was clearly visible what was happening below. Lots of fun for kids. There is a water park, rope town, zip-line. There is a pool with a retractable roof, which is very important for me if the trip passes through countries with different climatic conditions. There are soft loungers near the pool. Good organization of stations in the buffet, no queues. Even at peak times it was possible to find a free table. Dirty dishes cleaned quickly. In the restaurant at the beginning the service was very slow. Then it became faster, but the choice of dishes was not very impressive. Desserts were quite good in the buffet and in the restaurant. Loved the assortment of fruit in the buffet. There were mango, papaya, passion fruit, kiwi, pineapple - all I love. Landing in the first port was not organized very well. The exit in the last port was flawless. I really liked the cruise itinerary, the weather was great. Overall, the cruise went well. I can recommend this ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are just returning from our 18 day adventure as a family of five ,two adults three children age 7, 13 ,15 we have previously sailed with RCI , NCL ,PRINCESS AND CUNARD and after reading some of the reviews of MSC had very low ... Read More
We are just returning from our 18 day adventure as a family of five ,two adults three children age 7, 13 ,15 we have previously sailed with RCI , NCL ,PRINCESS AND CUNARD and after reading some of the reviews of MSC had very low expectations but they do a loyalty match to our diamond plus level with RCL so we gave it a go and this is honestly the best cruise line we have sailed with happiest ship , friendliest crew , most gorgeous ship and child friendly ship, any child not enjoying this cruise I would say their parents have got real problems because it has everything kids love everything adults love really superb peace and quiet , loud and bouncing and all inbetween . We had a whirlpool suite cabin 14211 ,gorgeous , space,technology ,walk in wardrobe .Erica our room steward was amazing as was lokesh and Anand our anytime dining staff so helpful and obliging,although portion sizes were small in the dining room we were constantly offered more so it was never an issue. We were on the aurea package and used the thermal suite a lot (gorgeous ) we also had our complementary massages (no catch) Ship is very smooth and incredible with technology everywhere, we purchased nearly every package before we boarded and it was cheaper and so easy for f1 simulator, zip line ,4d cinema ,air hockey, waterslides ,bowling ,washing package was great and next cruise I will definitely pack less and have more washed and pressed ,brilliant . Just 1 small complaint MSC what on earth is going on with your embarcation process ???? NOT GOOD stood like sheep in sao Paulo in scorching temperatures appears no organisation or communication it was almost a crush a bit frightening to be honest ,fix this and we have found our perfect cruise line by the way disembarking was a breeze so you can do it Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Just completed an extraordinary trip 8 person family trip with our grown children and their loved ones. Trip was to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday with the family, but the Galapagos and Silversea provided the perfect backdrop. Many ... Read More
Just completed an extraordinary trip 8 person family trip with our grown children and their loved ones. Trip was to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday with the family, but the Galapagos and Silversea provided the perfect backdrop. Many of the other reviews have mentioned the magnificence of the islands and the fauna and flora. I'll only add that words can not adequately express what one will experience either in the water or on the land. We have lived and traveled in many countries, but never have we experienced the wonders of snorkeling up close (sometimes inches away)with sea lions, manta rays, sharks, galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and more all within the same ecosystem. Bottom line-the western Galapagos is everything and more than you've read. The ship itself is dated, but certainly very acceptable for a Silversea cruise.In fairness the new Silversea Galapagos ship arrives in 2020. Rooms were very good, but somewhat short on storage space. We loved the location of our room # 345 as it was central to the meeting room, exit to the Zodiaks, dining room. The crew from wait staff to expedition were fabulous. The young chef (Andrea) was amazing in the preparation of her lunch and dinner menus-fish lovers will marvel at what can be prepared. The expedition crew/guides were extremely engaging and knowledgeable, and I'd be surprised if there was a better group of guides in the Galapagos. Finally a note of caution on the activities in general. This is not a sit back and relax cruise. If you are not on a hike (sometimes quite challenging), then you're in the water snorkeling. In other words one is very active during the day, and after dinner did you rarely see anyone on deck after 10pm because people were in bed and exhausted. If mobility is a concern, then I would carefully consider if this is the right trip. This trip will always have a very special memories for my family. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
It was always a dream of mine to see both Galapagos and Machu Picchu, ever since I started receiving catalogs from Lindblad and NatGeo. If I was going to see these historic places, I wanted National Geographic to be a part of it so that I ... Read More
It was always a dream of mine to see both Galapagos and Machu Picchu, ever since I started receiving catalogs from Lindblad and NatGeo. If I was going to see these historic places, I wanted National Geographic to be a part of it so that I could maximize my experience and my learning. I wanted the see more and do more, in a safe and secure environment. But I also wanted a small group experience. I didn't want to be overwhelmed or stymied by a large cruise ship. I wanted to get closer to the islands of the Galapagos, get to know the naturalists and tour guides personally, and I wanted to meet fellow travelers who shared my enthusiasm and quest for knowledge. Lindblad/NatGeo delivered on all of those things with a luxury cruise experience for 90+ passengers. The food was local, sustainable and delicious every single day. My husband and I had the base-level cabin, but it was roomy and efficiently designed. It was so smartly laid out that we had enough room for everything we brought with us, and that was plenty. My husband is 6'4" and the shower was tall and big enough for him. The activities were varied and accommodated different interests and activity levels. We wished there were longer hikes, as an option. We'd never snorkeled before but both enjoyed deep-water snorkeling on this trip. The efficiency of the program meant the staff was always on time and ready for us, whether it was handing out wet suits, fins and masks or jumping on the zodiacs to begin the next activity. We were never bored, and we always had a clear picture of the day's activities so we could make decisions about what we wanted to do. This was our first cruise ever. It set the bar really high! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I have done only two previous cruises, on HAL to Mexico and Alaska, and they whet my appetite for more, preferably on something a little smaller. After our experience with Australis, my concern now is that no other cruise ... Read More
My wife and I have done only two previous cruises, on HAL to Mexico and Alaska, and they whet my appetite for more, preferably on something a little smaller. After our experience with Australis, my concern now is that no other cruise could possibly measure up. This was the cruise of a lifetime. We were aboard Ventus Australis for four nights, from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, the last week of March. Ship capacity is said to be 210 passengers, but there were only about 160 aboard our late season cruise. The ship felt very spacious; only at the last night’s captain’s toast (in the largest lounge) did anywhere on the ship feel at all crowded. The passengers averaged middle age, and were largely well-travelled and interesting people. At the first night dinner we were told that the 160 of us represented 19 nationalities, and as each nation was named, its citizens received a warm and welcoming applause from the rest of the crowd. I’m tempted to make a political statement right now, but I’ll refrain. Our group of six made a number of friends, especially a couple from San Francisco, a couple from Santiago, a family from Malaysia and three young solo travelers from Australia, Austria and Belgium who met a few days earlier in Ushuaia and decided to take a cruise together. As a lifetime sailor, disembarking on the small island that is Cape Horn was a thrill. And the weather was appropriately cold, windy and rainy. But on the whole, our weather was quite good. There were two shore excursions a day (except the morning we disembarked when there was one), all by way of Zodiac rafts. We were told exactly how to get on and off the rafts, and the guides were quick to point out when any of us got it wrong. That might seem a bit regimented, but the end result was a very efficient and safe transfer of all concerned from ship to land and back. We never had to step in the water, so hiking boots were sufficient, but waterproof ones were nice due to rain, wet grasses and some mud. Our stateroom felt spacious as staterooms go, in part due to the floor to ceiling window through which we could watch some of the world’s most spectacular scenery pass by. Almost all the staterooms are identical, except that those on Deck 2 had more normal size windows. For my money, the larger window was worth the money. But when we signed up there was nothing available on Deck 3, and we paid a second premium to be on Deck 4, which would not have been worth the extra fare had something been available on Deck 3. The only passenger space on Deck 1 was the dining room, and the only indoor space on Deck 5 was the lounge forward, largest of the three lounges, and the small gift shop. There was ample outdoor space to take in the spectacular scenery--most of Deck 5, the roof of the Deck 5 lounge, narrow walkways ahead of the lounges on Decks 3 and 5, and aft on all decks. The Deck 5 lounge (forward; excursion meeting place for English speakers) had a bar in the afternoons and evenings, the Deck 4 lounge (aft; excursion meeting place for Spanish speakers) had early morning coffee and snacks, and while the Deck 3 lounge (forward) had no food or beverage service, it was a wonderfully quiet space to read a book, play a game, or watch the passing scenery. With the exception mentioned above, none ever felt crowded. All food and beverages (including alcohol) were included; the only way to spend money on the ship was in the gift shop. Be aware, there is no elevator, which appeared challenging for a handful of passengers. Unfortunately the ship is just not friendly for the mobility impaired. The food was very good and plentiful, as was the wine (very easy to drink more than you might have intended). Meals were all at a set time and an assigned table. Our group of six had our own table, but solo couples were randomly assigned table mates. Everyone I talked to enjoyed the new friends they shared their meals with. Dinners usually included a choice of only two entrees, but we were never disappointed with what we chose. Back to the shore excursions-- all involved some short walks or short hikes, usually with several choices. With the exception of Cape Horn and Magdalena Island (penguins), on our route they all involved spectacular views of glaciers, some very much up close and personal. The most difficult hikes (which were optional) were steep and probably would be properly categorized as “strenuous” but for the short length (nor more than 3.5 miles round trip). The solitude ashore was amazing; in fact the only humans we saw not on our ship were when we passed the sister ship going the other way in the Beagle Channel middle of the third day. The excursion guides were fantastic -- friendly, very good English speakers, and well educated about the history, geography, flora and fauna. The rest of the crew was also very friendly, welcoming, and helpful, and mostly English speaking among those whose job entailed interaction with passengers. And those whose English was a little weak were quick to find someone who spoke it well (if your Spanish was as pitiful as mine is). In addition to excursions ashore, we were offered tours of the bridge (day 2) and the engine room (day 3). After the bridge tour, the Captain told us we were welcome to come back any time; just knock on the door and we would be told if it wasn’t a good time for visitors. The engine room was remarkable for how clean it was; I would have felt comfortable eating a meal off the floor! And if that is how they kept the engine room, you can imagine how immaculate the rest of the ship was. This was a fantastic adventure for those who like good company, good food, the outdoors and active travel. These wanting water slides, zip lines and casinos to keep them entertained would probably do better looking elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We were on a combined visit to Easter Island (which was superb) and then a cruise from Chile to San Diego. We were very happy with our stateroom, which was spacious, very comfortable and had an excellent balcony and bathroom.The ship - ... Read More
We were on a combined visit to Easter Island (which was superb) and then a cruise from Chile to San Diego. We were very happy with our stateroom, which was spacious, very comfortable and had an excellent balcony and bathroom.The ship - Celebrity Eclipse - is a good size has an attractive range of amenities while never seeming too big. We always felt the ship had plenty of space. Embarkation was quite straightforward as we had stayed in Santiago the day before and it was a simple coach ride to the port at San Antonio. In the dining room we chose to dine with other guests and the eight of us got on really well. In fact we spent quite a bit of leisure time together. We just clicked as a group. The quality of of food in the main dining room was generally poor - much worse than on Princess ships we have used in the past. We had a very nice waiter, but he got used to saying :'If there is anything you don't like I will change it,' when bringing dishes to our table. The food was sometimes cold, often unappetisingly presented and just not what we expected. The others on our table - regulars on Celebrity - said the standard of food on their ships had declined markedly in recent years. In contrast, the Ocean Cafe food was usually very good, with a terrific selection to choose from. Lunch was especially good. We also had one lunch in the dining room, which was a pleasant experience. We always enjoyed a drink in the evenings before dinner and often a nightcap afterwards. We soon realised that service in the bars was very poor - everyone seemed to be going to the bar and getting drinks themselves. We resorted to this - again, not what we expected. We complained about paying an 18% service charge when drinks service was basically do-it-yourself but they refused to remove it. If anything, service round the pool was even worse, with seldom a waiter in sight. The grill bar and ice cream bar were very good. We did not try the speciality restaurants as they were very expensive. Someone came round on a couple of nights offering us $20 per head discount if six of us went to eat there, but we declined. We found the speciality restaurants and drinks very expensive compared with Princess. We took the very expensive trip to Machu Picchu which was brilliant. I think it was contracted to another firm who really knew what they were doing, even though it was a very tiring experience. We thought this might be our one chance to go there and it was well worth doing. Evening entertainment was par for the course on cruise ships. The cruise director (entertainments director) was especially aggravating, referring to the captain all the time as 'Super Capitan.' He wasn't that super as he twice told us we were in the South Atlantic when we were in the South Pacific. There was a brilliant speaker on all kinds of wild life topics - she was one of the best we had heard. Disembarkation was very smooth and hassle free. Would we travel with Celebrity again? Probably not, as other shipping lines we have tried in the same sector of the market are cheaper and much better. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The cruise was pleasant enough but when we returned home we found our MasterCard had been charged for an unidentified item. Contacting Celebrity they informed us the charge was for items used from the mini bar. We, in fact, had not used ... Read More
The cruise was pleasant enough but when we returned home we found our MasterCard had been charged for an unidentified item. Contacting Celebrity they informed us the charge was for items used from the mini bar. We, in fact, had not used any items from the mini bar during the entire cruise and, more to the point, had not authorised any payment. Very concerned that payment can be taken from your bank card without authorisation. The cleanliness on the ship was of a high standard, particularly in the Solarium, toilets and pool area. The one outstanding excursion on the cruise, was a visit to the Palamino Islands. Very memorable and worth the money. However, some of the other excursions during the cruise were expensive and not good value. Food in the Lido Cafe was often cold and much of the selection was repeated every day. Overall it was a pleasant cruise but left us dismayed at being charged for something we didn’t have.. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Cruise itinerary was a unique opportunity to sail from Buenos Aires to San Diego. We are Captain's Club Plus members and cruised the first half in concierge and the second half in Aqua Class. Our cabin in concierge class was vastly ... Read More
Cruise itinerary was a unique opportunity to sail from Buenos Aires to San Diego. We are Captain's Club Plus members and cruised the first half in concierge and the second half in Aqua Class. Our cabin in concierge class was vastly superior to our aqua class cabin (1608) which was terribly noisy both from pool furniture being banged around overhead to a huge ventilation outlet over our deck making it too loud to enjoy the deck. This was a coveted "bump" cabin very near the central elevators. Our concierge cabin was also on the bump but on the 10th floor so had none of the noise that the 11th floor had. We traveled the Eclipse last September and were surprised and disappointed at how much the food quality declined on this cruise. The cuts of meat in the dining room were largely braising meats. The regular NY steak was so thin that it had to be cut with a laser. It was counterproductive for Celebrity because they had to be sent back repeatedly because they were overcooked so easily. We saw a great deal of this. Most meats were terribly overcooked in main dining room and in Oceanview. Service in main dining room was stellar,as always. Blu was a huge disappointment. The meat/poultry quality was better than the main dining room but the menu was quite erratic and not well designed. We had repetative things seemingly ever other day and often the starters were not designed to go with the featured entrees. Choices seemed to decrease as the cruise went along. The service was shockingly poor--with breakfast being the worst. It was hard to get waited on, hard to get coffee, etc., sitting with dirty plates in front of you for far too long. coffee arriving long after dessert, etc. No real excuse for that when they handle those things with aplomb in the main diningroom (both breakfast and dinner). All in all, we won't book Aqua Class again because all cabins are noisy and Blu was such a disappointment. Celebrity is asking a fair amount more now for their experience and they need to step up their food quality to match. I heard repeated mention of it among passengers. It is probably a blessing but the desserts almost universally disappoint in taste. Again, I heard this over and over again among passengers. Captain was terrific and always enjoy the expert lectures. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU AND CELEBRITY ECLIPSE FROM CHILE TO SAN DIEGO We booked the Celebrity Eclipse from San Antonio, Chile to San Diego from 24 March 2019 until 8 April 2019 because some cruise friends that sailed with ... Read More
CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY, MACHU PICCHU AND CELEBRITY ECLIPSE FROM CHILE TO SAN DIEGO We booked the Celebrity Eclipse from San Antonio, Chile to San Diego from 24 March 2019 until 8 April 2019 because some cruise friends that sailed with us on that same ship in 2017. While some did cancel the cruise after booking, two couples were with us on that cruise, leading to great companionship and fun. Since we were booked on this cruise, we decided to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu prior to the cruise. I was a bit concerned about planning this trip in late March, since the rainy season for that area doesn’t end until the end of March. However, we had no rain while in Peru, except once at night. I selected a tour from PeruAgency Tours for our Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour. They had the best value and lowest priced offer. The tour provided 4 star hotels and a private guide for most of the trip. This describes our tour: DAY 19 MARCH. - ARRIVAL TO THE LAND OF THE INCAS - EXCURSION TO THE CITY Am Arrival to the city of Cusco. Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel. P.M. Guided tour of the city of Cusco and nearby Ruins. Visit to the Cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor. The Renaissance style predominates in the façade and in the interior, with an interior decoration very rich in cedar and alder carvings. Then you will visit the Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo (Dominico) and El Koricancha (Inca temple). We will continue towards the outskirts of the city, Sacsayhuaman, it would have been a construction of religious character, but because of its location and style it was considered by the Spaniards and chroniclers as a military building, Qenko continues or "labyrinth" is considered a sacred place in the Ceremonies were held in honor of the Sun, Moon and stars then Puka Pukara would have served as a tambo or resting place and accommodation and finally visit to the Fortress of Tambomachay that would have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and regeneration from the earth. Return to Cusco and transfer to your hotel. Hotel accommodation in Cusco at Costa del sol Picoaga Ramada. DAY 20 MARCH. - SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS (overnight) Breakfast at the hotel. At 8:00 a.m. Approx., the pick-up of the passengers starts at your Hotel. Full day excursion to the Sacred Valley. Visit to the town of Pisac. Known for its handicraft market and Inca archaeological sites among which you can see an irrigation system, an astronomical observatory, a solar clock or Intiwatana and andenería. Lunch in Local Restaurant. Visit to the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo. Built during the Inca period as a fortified area that includes a temple, platforms and an urban sector. You can distinguish two sectors, one linked to worship and religion; and the second set dedicated to housing. It was an important administrative center that probably also fulfilled military functions, as its walls and turrets show. Transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station. After the visit to the archaeological complex transfer to the train station to take the train to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo, arrival at the station of Aguas Calientes, transfer to your hotel. Accommodation at El Mapy. DAY 21 MARCH. - MACHU PICCHU, WONDERFUL CITY INCA Breakfast at the hotel. Very early in the morning I pick up from your hotel and transfer to the station to board the bus that will take you after 30 min., Approximately to the wonderful Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Passenger climbs on his own to the huaynapicchu mountain (1 hour of climb and another hour of descent) then you will have Start of the guided tour around 2:30 to 3 hrs. Bus to Aguas Calientes. Buffet lunch at the local restaurant. When returning, show up at the train station 30 minutes before the train leaves. Return to Cusco. Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel. Accommodation in Cusco at Costa del sol Picoaga Ramada. DAY 22 MARCH - CUSCO DEPARTURE / ... (D) Breakfast at the hotel. At the appropriate time, transfer to the airport, flight to Lima and then return to your country of origin. Our flight from Atlanta arrived in Lima on 18 March at 12:30pm. We had booked a room at the Holiday Inn Lima Airport Hotel close to that airport. It was walking distance from the hotel, but due to the orientation of the roads in front of the airport, walking to the hotel was not a safe option. The hotel did have a convenient taxi transport available at no charge, which we used. Our flight to Cusco departed at 8am the next morning, so we only managed about four hours of sleep. We arrived in Cusco about 10am and were picked up by Mercedes and our driver, taken to our hotel, the Costa del Sol that was a Ramada hotel. The hotel was very nice and situated in a historic home of a famous Cusco resident from the 18th Century. The hotel had preserved the historic building, while incorporating modern amenities. The restaurant was excellent with very reasonable prices for its meals. We checked into the hotel and were ready to explore the city. Ginny and I had started taking a medication for the prevention of altitude sickness prior to the trip, which worked pretty well during our tour that included altitudes of up to 12,000 feet. Mercedes was our tour coordinator during our stay in Cusco. After lunch, we had a walking tour of Cusco, followed by a tour of four Inca archeological sites surrounding the city. Our hotel was conveniently located close to the Plaza de Armas (historic center). The huge cathedral and Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo were the highlights of the tour. The Convent of Santo Domingo included Inca structures that were part of a temple. The structures demonstrated the amazing engineering of the Incas. The stones were cut without iron or bronze tools in a very precise manner with interlocking pieces that showed no gaps between stones. Also, the Inca structures proved to be earthquake resistant as opposed to the Spanish construction that followed. After our waking tour of Cusco, Ginny and I, as well as six other persons took a minibus up into the surrounding hills to visit the four Inca sites: Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara and the Fortress of Tambomachay. There was much climbing up and down hills with visiting these sites. Sacsayhuaman was the largest, with massive structures as well as many terraced fields, which the Incas were famous for building. These terraces were evident almost anywhere we visited in this part of Peru. The terraces allowed for agriculture and prevented erosion. During this part of the tour, we also visited a shop that sold alpaca clothing. There were numerous llamas alpacas and vicunas just outside this shop. We learned that the Peruvians eat alpaca meat as well as use their fur. We did not try alpaca meat. The next day, our guide Danny picked us up early at our hotel with the van for our trip to the Sacred Valley (on our way to Machu Picchu). He was our private guide, we had no others on the tour with us. The drive through the valley was very scenic as well as the two archaeological sites that we visited. We visited Pisac and Ollantaytambo on this day, with a very nice lunch that was included in the tour between the two sites. Both sites were extensive with much to see. Ollantaytambo was an ancient Inca city that had largely been preserved, with stone streets and buildings and drainage channels throughout the city. It was a bit like visiting a smaller version of Pompeii. We learned that the Inca engineering excelled at channeling water in its cities. At the end of the day, at Ollantaytambo, Danny left us at the rail station, where we picked up the vistadome train to Aguas Calientes, which was about 5 miles from Machu Picchu. The vistadome car is an option that we selected and worth the cost. The car had large windows with additional windows in the ceiling of the car. The train ran next to the river that was sometimes flowing heavily. Also, since we were in the mountains (this entire area of Peru is mountainous), the views were very scenic. Upon arrival at Aguas Calientes, our guide for Machu Picchu was there to take us to our hotel for the evening. The hotel was the El Mapy. The hotel was very nice, but rooms were a bit smaller than in Cusco. We were restricted to bringing luggage no heavier than 5 kg, therefore we didn’t need much room for storing clothing and luggage. Dinner that evening as well as breakfast the next day at the hotel was included in the tour. Our guide was Jay and he was, like Danny a great guide. We agreed to get an early start for Machu Picchu and meet at 6 am. The next day, we met Jay at 6 am and took the bus up (yes UP) to Machu Picchu. We saw many hikers that elected to skip the bus ride in favor of a hike. Most were people in their 20s. Jay took us through the gate at the site and explained that we had the option to come out and take a break for the toilet and/or refreshment before reentering the site later. Jay took us over about 90% of the key places identified in my guidebook. We entered about 6:30 and didn’t take a break until about 10 am. Still, our tour took us up and down the site, which has 500 year old stone construction with uneven steps that we took care not to fall. Machu Picchu is even more amazing in person than from the photos. We were told that the city was about 70% preserved of the original city. The city was the major Inca city that was not destroyed by the Spanish, since it had been abandoned by the Inca during the long war with the Spanish. Vegetation had grown, covering the city. The city was rediscovered in the early 20th Century by Yale Professor, Hiram Bingham III. Actually, he was not the first to discover the city, but he did make the most of the discovery. I recommend reading the book “Right Turn at Machu Picchu” for the details of this interesting history. Ginny and I did exit the city briefly for a break and returned to see the upper part of the city. That was a significant effort on our part, due to the altitude and again much climbing up and down the ancient stone steps. We visited the Caretaker’s Hut and the scenic vistas from up high. This was the best place to take photos of the city. We finished our visit of this wonderful city after noon and used the voucher for lunch at a nice restaurant overlooking the flowing river with scenic mountain views. Lunch was a buffet and excellent. We loved the Peruvian cuisine and mealtime was great while in Peru. Ginny and I felt that with all the climbing up and down hills that even with the good eating, we probably lost weight. After lunch, we picked up our small bags from the hotel and relaxed in the hotel bar for a couple of hours, waiting for our train back to Ollantaytambo. From that city, we picked up a bus that took us to Cusco. We arrived late in the evening; Mercedes and our driver were at the bus station to pick us up to take us to our hotel. Cusco was about 70 miles from Aguas Calientes. Most of the trip was on the bus and we found the highways to be a mixed blessing. We found that large speed bumps were very common in Peru on highways when inside a city or village. Also, the roads were good in some places, but in other areas filled with terrible potholes. The bus had to slow down to negotiate these potholes and speed bumps. With all the road traffic, we probably averaged 25-30 MPH along the entire route. Upon arrival at our hotel in Cusco, we received our stored luggage and were informed that our room was upgraded to a suite. The suite was huge and very nice. We had a huge spa in the large sitting room. I decided to use the spa and take a hot bath to soothe my tired muscles. The spa was so large, it took a very long time to fill, and I decided not to try to fill it completely, but I did have a nice warm bath for a change. It did help with the tired muscles. By the way, if you want to see Machu Picchu, I recommend not waiting until you are in your 70s. Our last day in Cusco, Ginny and I decided to visit some of it many museums. We slept a bit late, but then took in the Machu Picchu Museum as well as the Inca Museum. After those museums, we did a small amount of shopping, returned to our hotel and relaxed prior to Mercedes taking us to the airport for our 6 pm flight back to Lima and on to Santiago, Chile. We had a wonderful trip to Peru and were to return to that country on our cruise that stopped there in a few days. Our tour with PeruAgency was excellent and total cost was $799 per person. The roundtrip airfare from Lima to Cusco was $148 each. The modest admissions to two museum and about three meals added, our trip cost us about $1050 per person. Celebrity was selling an excursions from the ship for a three day tour that cost $3700 per person. SANTIAGO AIRPORT Ginny and I had been to Chile twice, in 2011 and 2014, in connection with cruises. We had spend several days in Santiago, Valparaiso and taken two wine tours as well. We elected to not try any touring of the area again. We arrived at the Santiago Airport after 4 am on 23 March. I had booked us for the remainder of the night and the next night at the Holiday Inn, Santiago Airport prior to our cruise on 24 March. The hotel was very nice and easy to access from the airport. It is just across the street from the airport and we simply dragged our luggage to the hotel. We slept late that day and didn’t leave the hotel at all. We relaxed and recuperated from our Peru tour. The hotel restaurant was great. It far exceeded our expectations. I had arranged for transport with SouthExcursions, a Chilean tour company that we had used successfully on our two previous trips to Chile. We had a group of 10 from the cruise critic roll call that shared the ride to the port of San Antonio for $60 per person. CELEBRITY ECLIPSE The 15 day cruise north to San Diego included seven ports: 25 MAR LA SERENA (COQUIMBO), CHILE 

28 MAR LIMA, (CALLAO) PERU 

30 MAR MANTA, ECUADOR 01 APR COSTA RICA 
03 APR HUATULCO, MEXICO 05 APR PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO 06 APR CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO 08 APR SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA We had visited Coquimbo, Lima and Manta on our December 2011 cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Chile. For this cruise we tried to visit places at those ports that we had not seen on the first cruise. LA SERENA (COQUIMBO), CHILE Last time, we took a walking tour of Coquimbo, which was the port city where we docked. This time, we didn’t take a tour, but hired a taxi to take us to La Serena, a larger city about 9 miles from the port. We spend about two hours walking around the small city. We had refreshments and a snack as well as a bit of shopping. Since the wrist band on my watch separated, I purchased a new watch for $23. The cost of the taxi each way was about $20. The most interesting thing about this city was that it was not a tourist destination at all. We were able to see a Chilean city without the flood of tourists that normally cover these ports. We didn’t see many from our ship in the city. This was a port that Celebrity probably could have skipped. LIMA, PERU Barb, our friend from the 2017 transatlantic booked this tour, as she did three other tours that we took on the cruise. I had recommended Monica’s Tours, since we had used them in 2011 and they were excellent. Our tour guide was good and advised us that we could see a number of places. Of course, we didn’t have time to do it all. The day we were in port turned out to be a local holiday, which meant heavier traffic than normal. That was unfortunate, since we probably could have seen more on a normal day. We were taken to two main squares in downtown Lima, the second being the Plaza de Armas. It was a huge square and the cathedral was on the square. Just prior to arriving at that square, we walked through a street with some interesting building frontages and balconies. The next place on the tour was a monastery with catacombs that we had seen in 2011, so Ginny and I asked to meet the group later, so we could visit the cathedral. We had not seen the cathedral. Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror of Peru was buried in the cathedral. The massive building was filled with valuable art. After spending about an hour at the cathedral, we walked to the Monastery to meet our tour. There was a huge long line of local people waiting to enter the Monastery, so we waited outside the entrance of the catacombs as instructed and ran into Monica, the owner of the tour company. She remembered Ginny and I from 2011. She gave us a couple of small gifts, as she did last time we were in Lima. Our next stop was to visit an ancient pyramid, predating the Incas. The pyramid grounds were in the direction of Miraflores, the more upscale area of Lima. Our group decided to skip lunch in order to spend more time touring. We walked up the pyramid while our guide explained details about the civilization that built it. There was a small museum that we visited as well. After the pyramid, we found a scenic seashore at Miraflores with a nice park. Driving around the city was slow due to the traffic and after the seashore, we heading back to the port to make the ship on time. It is worth mentioning that we found the cuisine in Peru to be absolutely fantastic. Peruvian food can match up to the best in the World, even French and Italian. MANTA, ECUADOR Barb has arranged for our private tour in Ecuador. The tour included a short hike through a “dry rain forest,” lunch at a restaurant on the beach and a visit to the city of Montecristi, Ecuador. Our guide at the rain forest told us that we might see howler monkeys. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, be we all enjoyed the walk through the forest. Despite being at the equator, it was not that hot in the forest. Our guide pointed out some wildlife, including large spiders. Lunch was very nice at a restaurant right on a scenic beach. Later, we visited the city of Montecristi and did some shopping, then back to the ship. COSTA RICA Ginny and I had not been to Costa Rica before and our tour there was a ship’s excursion called “Walk in the Clouds.” Our bus took us into the interior of the country that was up in altitude. This rain forest hike was more extensive and the path included several bridges, some suspended high above a flowing creek. Prior to beginning our hike, we entered a large butterfly enclosure, with hundreds of colorful butterflies. Everyone was trying to take photos of them, before the butterflies flew off once more. After the forest hike, we visited a humming bird station with many hummingbird feeders and small water sprinklers that attracted the birds. Scores of hummingbirds of different colors were feasting on the feed stations. The hummingbirds were more of a challenge to photograph than the butterflies. Finally, after leaving the forest, we came to a balcony were tropical birds were attracted. The birds were colorful, but not the large tropical birds. The birds were robin or cardinal sized, however there were many beautiful birds. On our bus trip out to the site and return, our guide schooled us in the history of Costa Rica and some facts about the country. The country has no army and a history of peace. Our guide told us that the country has no gold or silver that attracted attackers. The country has mandatory education for its youth and the elite students go on to a state university at no cost. Other universities are private and require payment. The country doesn’t seem to have the same problems as most of the other Central American countries and had a history of stability. As in nearly any tour from a cruise ship, we did stop at a large tourist oriented store for souvenirs. The store was huge and many purchased items there. HUATULCO, MEXICO This port was still a mystery to us, no one had ever heard of it before. The coastal city was about halfway between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. The port and nearby area appeared to be under development. It didn’t seem that extensive development had take place. The small coastal town was rather new and tidy, clearly geared toward tourism. The coastal area was very scenic, and our tour with Enrique’s Tours focused on finding the most scenic places for us to visit. Barb had organized this tour for us. Our first stop was near a lighthouse (abandoned) at the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean and the port. Also, Enrique took us to visit to a nice beach, as well as his small village a few miles from Huatulco. We learned that Enrique had lived in Ohio for several years, saving his money to come home and start a business. He provided us with as good a tour as could be made for this area. Some people took tours that went into the interior, higher up into the mountains, as we had done in Ecuador and Costa Rica. PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO This port is a famous resort and has been for many years. It was well developed and we saw many US businesses there like Home Depot, Starbucks, Walmart, and more. The port city was fairly modern, prosperous and well maintained. Our tour was another Celebrity excursion called “Colonial San Sebastian.” As we left the port city into the interior, we passed through some small towns and farms that clearly were not part of the more prosperous resort. Our tour took us up into the Sierra Madre Mountains, with many scenic views, including a huge bridge that crossed a large gorge. I noted that some graffiti artist had bravely climbed under the highway span to paint his work on the underside of the bridge. Adolfo was our excellent tour guide on our excursion. The tour was provided by Vallarta Adventures. Adolfo provided us a detailed history of the local area, Puerto Vallarta and Colonial San Sebastian. San Sebastian was a former silver mining town. Mining ended after the 1910 Mexican revolution. The town shrunk in population, but preserved its colonial heritage. The town had its cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture. The bus took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes from the port, but we saw vistas of the mountains up to about 4700 feet. We had a very nice lunch and on our way back to the port, we had a fun tequila tasting. The tour guide was excellent and we enjoyed the tour very much. CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO This was our last port before arriving back in the USA. The port is situated very near land’s end of the Baja peninsula of Mexico. We saw the scenic land’s end from our cruise ship prior to tendering into the port. Barb had organized the tour with toursbylocals. Our local guide was Alejandro Olivares with amazingcabos. First, he took us to the harbor where our small group boarded a boat that included a large glass bottom for viewing sea life. The tour didn’t focus on sea life, but we did see some fish after some bread was handed out for us to throw into the water. The tour took us past a lot of scenic rock formations and around the end of land’s end into the Pacific Ocean. We saw beaches that apparently flood at high tide as well as some sea lions. Some were sunning themselves on the rocks. Our boat approached them fairly close, so we managed some nice photos. After the boat ride, we visited a nice restaurant on the shore opposite the land’s end. Then we visited a luxury hotel that was right on the beach. The hotel was a Sheraton. We had permission to walk through the hotel and pool area to the beach. It was very nice. Also, there was a golf course nearby. At the end of the tour, we visited a factory that turned recycled glass into glasses and other items. Phil, one of our friends on the cruise and tour did blow some glass. After the tour we did a little shopping and prior to returning to the ship stopped at Señor Frogs for a drink and snack. Eight of us endured the very loud music for a while, but prior to becoming deaf, I decided to relieve the pain in my head by returning to the ship. The others stayed for a while longer and I understand Ginny, Barb and Joyce did a dance for the crowd. After a sea day, we arrived at San Diego and prepared to depart for home. Celebrity had assigned us a time in groups to go through immigration. US citizens and residents had a separate line from non-citizens. We were told about when that would happen and that our number would be called. Celebrity decided to call numbers 3, 4 and 5 all at one time, then number 6 soon thereafter. The numbers only went to 7, so they called a very large portion of the ship at one time, flooding the elevators that we were told to use. Nearly everyone was climbing the stairs, including people with canes. It was not quite chaos, but it was crazy. We finally found the end of the line on deck 12 and waited almost an hour to go through immigration. This was totally unnecessary, since the groups could have been spread out evenly to avoid the mess. Still, we had a nice cruise and enjoyed our cruise friends. We hope to see them again on other cruises in the future. The dining was, as usual, excellent. However, my most favorite dessert from Celebrity is the crepe suzette that has been so downsized these days that it is nothing more than a sampler. We didn’t go to most of the evening shows, but thought the Argentinian show was excellent. The Rock show was glitzy and included some very good circ sole elements. However, the songs selected for the show were largely third rate songs. We missed what everyone acclaimed as an excellent comedy show, so we went to another afternoon comedy show that was excellent. Still, Celebrity’s entertainment could learn something from Royal Caribbean or NCL. Service was generally first rate and the two excursions that we took from Celebrity were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We have sailed on the Summit, Reflection, Silhouette (x2) and Equinox (x2) prior to this sailing. Based upon our past experience we had a general expectation of the level of service and facilities. On the minus side. the restaurant ... Read More
We have sailed on the Summit, Reflection, Silhouette (x2) and Equinox (x2) prior to this sailing. Based upon our past experience we had a general expectation of the level of service and facilities. On the minus side. the restaurant staff were generally friendly and accommodating (with the exception of the Oceanview Cafe and Mast Grill cooks who couldn't be bothered). In Luminae, it was rare to get the orders right and it was often difficult to get anyone's attention for such simple things as coffee or water. The food in Luminae was not to the level of prior cruises, and we found ourselves getting better food in Blu. The suite butler was MIA for most of the trip, and when we could find her, it seemed like she wanted to push most duties to the cabin attendant. The ship is clean, but it is pretty tired (peeling paint, furniture and carpet that shows years of wear). On the plus side, the Captain and the Hotel Director were some of the most visible we have ever encountered. The Michael's Club Concierge was outstanding, and provided service we had never received on previous cruises. We had some excellent meals and service in the Tuscan Grille and Murano. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Celebrity Eclipse Trip San Antonio Chile to San Diego California March 24 2019 Embarkation poor. Had people lined up for hours waiting to be processed. There was no place for anyone to sit. Other cruise lines issue a number and have ... Read More
Celebrity Eclipse Trip San Antonio Chile to San Diego California March 24 2019 Embarkation poor. Had people lined up for hours waiting to be processed. There was no place for anyone to sit. Other cruise lines issue a number and have passengers sit to wait for their number to be called. The gangplank to the ship was very steep so the staff had to strain to push wheelchair passengers on the ship. Room 9402 very nice and good location, efficient room design with the exception of no electric plug next to or near bed. I called Crucon prior to sailing and requested distilled water for a piece of medical equipment. It was not there. I am sure that there are many people who use a CPAP machine at this present time. Our room attendant Kam, came and introduced himself. He was pleasant and carried out requests. There were no extra special touches in the room, ie cotton buds, shower caps, razors or emery boards in fact you could not even purchase an emery board aboard the ship. There was only soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. We were not served a complimentary bottle of champagne as we were served on prior cruises,We had to ask for ice to be present in our room in the evening. There is no folder in the room to describe anything about the ship or contain a list of room service foods. I still don't know if room service is available for meals other than breakfast. There was a sheet for us to fill out every evening for breakfast. We had coffee in our room every day and twice they delivered without cups and milk. The towels and sheets had a funky unpleasant odor, perhaps it was their detergent or not enough detergent. The air conditioner/heat control was not predictable, one time it would be very cold on a setting and the next time it would be uncomfortable at that same setting. The room would become warm while we were in port. The bed was not wonderful, there was no pillow top softness but I am like the princess and the pea. The pillows were OK. Trip route- It was a relocation cruise and the stops were not earth shaking. The prices for ship trips to essentially nothing locations were very expensive. We only did two trips, one to Lima and the other in Punta Arenas Costa Rica. Both were interesting. The other ports did not have anything that looked like we needed to explore further or sounded uninteresting. Entertainment- Stale and according to passengers who previously sailed on the ship it was a repeat of the same performances. The songs were dull and uninspiring. The entertainment was aimed at old people and I am older than god. They need to update their performances. The Eclipse Orchestra was the highlight of the performances. They need to continue with “Live Orchestras” not a digital replacement that is being contemplate by the company. All of our table mates refused to attend the performances because of them being so boring and repetitive. Service-The staff were very positive, smiling and caring throughout the ship. The Captain was a pseudo comedian. Alejandro the master of ceremony was great. Jose P and Edwin our staff in the dining room were caring and attentive they get a 10 out of 10! Food- Terrible!! On previous trips the many tasty main courses offered were wonderful, one had to make a decision of choosing from all the very appealing meals offered most every evening. On this cruise trying to find even one was a difficult task, in fact there were many nights we only had appetizers for our meal because the selection was so poor. On the dress up nights there was nothing special offered except on the last dress up night and another regular evening soft shell lobster not New England lobster. The breakfast and lunch buffets were OK. The salad dressing were horrible. There were people stationed at the entry of cafeteria dispensing hand sanitizing solution but there are no hand washing places there. Hand washing is the only way to truly prevent novovirus. Passengers complained that there was a respiratory illness spreading aboard the ship toward the end of the cruise. Disembarkation-A nightmare! Directions printed for passengers to follow were not written by an English speaking person and were very confusing. Other passengers stated the same regarding the poorly written directions. No one knew where they were to go or wait. There were lines all over the ship. Exiting from the ship was down a very steep gangplank. If I had my luggage I would have been propelled down the gangplank. Being in a wheelchair would have been very scary. Summary We are not gung-ho cruisers but have enjoyed our previous 7 cruises because the food was outstanding, the entertainment fun, but this trip left a bad taste in our mouth. I am not sure we will cruise again anytime soon. Is Celebrity trying to drive people do the specialty dining?? I refuse to pay additional money that probably amount to $100+ for each night to get a decent meal. If this is their object the staff will be shortchanged and service will suffer. The staff in the dining room depend on their tips to supplement their income. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given ... Read More
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given assigned times for immigration. But then they threw the schedules away huge groups go all at once . This caused long waits , long lines, long waits for elevators and lines jamming the stair cases. The captains club hostess did not seem overly friendly and a bit standoff and did not seem interested in the passengers. The cruise director was excellent. Bar staff / waiters seemed overwhelmed and service was slow. Stateroom attendant was excellent . ports in chile (except for santiago) and peru were poor and we would not do them again. Santiago and surrounding area was good. Would we do this cruise again ... No. shore excursions were expensive and limited. Read Less

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