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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Two days delay at the departure , 4 days "lost" because have to go 36 hours in Murmansk for Russian territory check-out (at least what have been said to pax ) Quark staff does best as he can do onboard - Many intesrestind ... Read More
Two days delay at the departure , 4 days "lost" because have to go 36 hours in Murmansk for Russian territory check-out (at least what have been said to pax ) Quark staff does best as he can do onboard - Many intesrestind landings on shore by zodiacs or even twice by helicopter -Russian Mi6) Some good and even excellent -2or3-expedition staff -with very professional lectures during sea days - Have really two days of icebreaking thick ice on Laptev sea , and 2 nice days with interesting landings and hélico flight at Franz-Josef land . Restaurant staff was extremely kind and helpful with good service - Food & dining very correct , little bit basic but allways tasty - (Austrian catering company) As 92 pax onboard , nobody is doing such a kind of "expedition" for food, beverage, or night entertainments and dances - Really great experiences with polar bears sightseeing , with walruses on few of the most remote and limited access - and controlled - islands in the world (i.a: Russian arctics islands : Vilkitsky, Bolshevik, Belkovsky,Wrangel ,Novaya Zemlya, Franz-Josef land ) with landings and hélicopters flights - Only an icebreaker can bring us to these parts of the world (Russian North East passage/route on half world circumnavigation -) This was a unique "Icebreaker-expedition" voyage in Russain arctic , permitted only this year , and with no other expecting for next years ! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the ... Read More
The Xpedition Sales Team is grossly uninformed and a number of Xpedition Passengers concurred that the information provided prior to departure from U.S. is very sparse and this team is not incentivized to provide helpful information to the booked Passengers (or even prior to booking). Two nights in Quito prior to embarking aboard the Celebrity Xpedition was a waste of time and money. The J.W. Marriott in Quito is an hour's drive from the Quito Airport and has management and maintenance problems. They seem to live off the guaranteed rooms from Celebrity each weekend and have no concern for their guests. Then you have the hour's drive back to the Quito Airport for the charter flight to Baltra. The charter flight from Quito to Baltra is nice and embarkation process is reasonable. From the Baltra Airport you board a bus to the zodiac "station" and ride to the Xpedition. Once aboard a staff member escorts you to your cabin. Ours had not been serviced properly but improved after it was reported. The Chief Purser and Head of Food Operations were especially helpful and friendly and anxious to please. Expect to hear the anchor going out and coming up from all over the ship once or twice daily - since it is such a small ship. Also because it is so small the Xpedition rocks side to side when anchored. In order to be allowed to sail in the Galapagos the Xpedition (as do National Geographic and Silver Sea) must employ all Ecuadorian staff as well as use Ecuadorian food. Do not expect meals being available throughout the day as on other cruises. The main purpose of this cruise is to see the Galapagos Islands - not to eat or have any "free/rest time". There is a short window of time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No extra places to get snacks, etc. as on other cruise ships. if you do not drink alcohol you will find this cruise over-priced because you are subsidizing the "unlimited" alcohol for everyone else. It would be nice if Celebrity would have a price option for passengers who do not drink alcohol. There are two excursions daily (none on Embarkation Day nor on Disembarkation Day). There is a morning excursion and another in the afternoon. Each evening prior to dinner there is a "lecture" to provide information to allow you to choose your excursion choices for the next day. The sales pitch by the Cruise Director to pressure Passengers to make $$ contributions to the Galapagos Fund - as well as pressure to plant trees is inappropriate and insulting in my opinion. A Naturalist accompanies each group on each excursion and they are the best asset Celebrity has for this cruise. Observing the mating rituals of Albatross, juvenile Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, Penguins, Giant Land Tortoises- as well as the snorkeling are fantastic. The animal encounters are the absolute best part. The Machu Picchu extension (after the cruise) was "OK". First of all, Celebrity chooses flights which make you arrive into Lima late on Disembarkation Day and then you have about an hour's drive to your Hotel. Then after arriving late at the Country Club Hotel in Lima, you must get up very early for an early departure right back to the Lima Airport to fly to Cusco the following morning. Once in Cusco, the 11,500 foot altitude is very apparent so you must take things slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Several people in our group required oxygen and most had headaches from the altitude. Drink lots of water which helps. The unfortunate thing is that Celebrity subs to an Agency in Lima to handle the Passengers - and they do not require the hotels to have our rooms ready upon arrival. The disorganization of the Lima Agency was apparent throughout the Machu Picchu excursion. Flights were changed to earlier than planned so you have little sleep. The restaurant for Dinner in Cusco was a big disappointment - service was awful and food similar. The Hotel Monasterio in Cusco is a 5 Star and the lunch and dinner there were good. However, the housekeeping is no where near what a 5 Star should be. The Hiram Bingham Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu was very nice - one of the highlights of the entire trip. Take in all the scenery on the morning trip to Machu Picchu because it will be dark almost all the way of the return. Machu Picchu did not disappoint. Be prepared for a lot of climbing - no bathrooms once you leave the train station. Only go on this if you want constant exercise and no "free time" and if you REALLY want to see the animals and Machu Picchu. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly except for treacherous outside steps up to deck 4, even for the fit and able, with little evidence of staff to assist those with a mobility problem. The cabin was very clean and one of the best suites,as far as lay out is concerned, that we have had on any other cruise ship we have been on. Unfortunately , because the ship is old there were a lot of banging and creaking noises within the cabin in rough seas we had 4 nights of little sleep.All other areas on the ship were clean and well looked after and it was easy to find your way around. The ships daily programmes were adequate but the resident show performers were very good indeed. The swimming pool on the other hand was "out of action" for the duration of the cruise. Having had one lunch in the cafeteria where the "hot" food was just warm and the queues long, we ate in the restaurant for lunch and dinner for the remainder of the cruise. The food was varied and plentiful. We had breakfast in our cabin which was good. All cabin, restaurant and bar staff were very good and only too ready to please. We bought a drinks package which was good value for money but it would have been nice to have more than one choice of house wine. Coffee and water was excluded from the package. Just prior to sailing the advertised itinerary times in Orkney (8am-5pm) had been changed to 8am -2pm and Honfleur had been changed from 8am -8pm to 1pm -10pm without any apologies or explanation. The first port of call was Mull where I had arranged for Alan Robson www.mulltaxi.co.uk to provide a private tour tailored to suit our needs.This was to include a visit to the distillery.The weather was overcast and the sea slightly choppy so we were anchored way off Tobermory to be told that the captain was waiting for the weather to improve and an announcement would be made in an hour to let us know what was happening before making a decision. This did not happen and I was kept up to date by our taxi firm who told me that the harbour master had been told that the ship had decided not to tender passengers off to the harbour! Alan also cancelled our distillery tour for us.Two hours later an announcement was made informing us all that not only Mull was being cancelled but also Stornoway. We were sailing straight to Orkney and would arriving there a day earlier than planned. As I had arranged for www.hebrideanexcursions.co.uk to provide another tailored tour of Harris and Lewis for us and Orkney Taxis to meet us (now a day earlier) at the pier in Orkney I was now left to sort this out without a mobile 'phone signal. Clare the receptionist suggested that it must be my network provider at fault and that I should go as high as I could on deck to try and get a signal.It was now raining and blustery on deck. I know from past holidays in the Western Isles that mobile 'phone reception is very poor. I eventually asked if I could use the land line and was given the codes on how to get an outside line and was told that the first minute was free and after that it was £4 a minute.The land line did not work and after a long discussion and a flat refusal from Clare to do anything personaly to help, the ships communication officer, who had been asked to sort out our 'phone, contacted TG the guest relations officer who eventually agreed to send an email to Orkney taxis for me. As a seasoned cruiser I had never come across such an unhelpful attitude from those who were supposed to be there to help the guests, especially when none of the changes were of our own doing. My previous experiences with other cruise lines have always been very positive with staff who have a "can do" approach to their guests. Donald and Gail of Orkney Taxis met us at the pier and we had a wonderful day being shown around the Island by a local guide with so much knowledge of the Island. Nothing was too much trouble and we were able to stop whenever we wanted to.The time ashore was now 8am to 10pm. I managed to eventually get a signal and let John ,Hebridean Excursions know what was NOT happening. See Tripadvisor reviews of this company. A half day( 8am -2pm) in Invergordon was substituted at late notice for the loss of the other two ports of call. This is a repair port for the oil rigs and has little to offer. Two, expensive,organised tours were offered and no information was available for independent travellers as to how they could get around the area. We arrived in Honfleur at 12pm, (46 hours later) and had to wait until 2pm before we could get off the boat to get a shuttle bus into the town.We were "allowed" to get off earlier but would have to walk for at least 20 minutes before we were near to the town. I had a local taxi firm number obtained in the UK but the codes were confusing, again Clare refused to even try and find out for me what the codes were and suggested I walk to the harbour ofice to get a taxi. Again Independent passengers were kept waiting until the organised tours were all off the ship. There was also a problem at St. Mary's in as much that the ship was anchored a good 30 minute tender journey each way thus delaying and prolonging the time getting us off board, again priority was given to the organised tours. As the sea was choppy when we arrived I was waiting for an announcement that we would not be going ashore . However the boatmen of the Scilly Isles tender passengers on and off all the ships and know all the tides etc. They could not understand why we were so far off shore. DJ Cabs St. Mary's met us at the pier and we had an excellent tour of the island, stopping off whenever we wanted and had first hand knowledge of the Islands history, flora and fauna. The excursions are expensive and I would recommend the above mentioned private taxi firms to anyone, all were good value for money and even those that we did not meet up with have been in contact with me hoping that everything had gone alright for us and that we had enjoyed our cruise. Disembarkation went smoothly but again the steps were appalling with no help from the crew.The port staff were very helpful. This cruise was not cheap and unless the attitudes of some key customer services / guest relations personel change we will not use this cruise line again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity ... Read More
Sooooooooo disappointing after booking this cruise 13 months in advance. We departed on December 25 -- yes Christmas Day. We had booked ALL through Celebrity including airfare, transfers, etc. We felt secure knowing that with Celebrity taking care of all details, everything would go well. NOT. We arrived at 11.35 pm on December 25 (we flew out of Newark, NJ) only to discover that "Celebrity comes in on Friday nights to pick up." Which meant that there was no one there to meet us. We checked our multi-paged itinerary and noted yes they had the flight right; yes it said the time. Yes the check in at JWMARRIOTT is December 26 -- and in 15 more minutes it IS December 26 -- so what happened??? No one knew. A greeter from Azmara got us a cab -- we spoke no Spanish and they didn't speak English -- and suggested we get a receipt. It was $25 and we tipped $2 -- and asked for a receipt. Neither the driver nor the bellman at JWMarriott understood and so we got our bags and went to check in minus the receipt. It's 1:30 a.m. We are told "you are not supposed to check in until 3:00 p.m." and I said, 'Where do you want me to sleep tonight" and the deskclerk insisted i leave my credit card. Done. The next morning we began a horrible, irritating and unnecessarily bureaucratic discussion with ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN that we had nothing to do that day, no one picked us up and can ANYONE HELP US get situated.???? No. I called the Royal Caribbean executive offices -- it was a holiday so no one was there. I gave up Christmas Day on the advice of the booking agent that "Quito for two days is a must!!" before we cruised. I called the Emergency line and the only advice they gave me was "too bad you didn't have a receipt for the cab because without it, you won't get reimbursed. Which of course they explained they would Have done! At 7 p.m. on Friday night, the Celebrity supervisor finally talked to us and said they would cover the hotel room the night before; but because we DID NOT MIND THE ACTUAL TIME OF CHECK - IN (3 p.m. on December 26) we were BOTH AT FAULT. So no meals and without the cab receipt? No refund. I was actually so tired and disheartened that I had already given this cruiseline more than $28,000 for the two of us what the hell. They could take their $27 and you know what. We had a good day in Quito. The tour is lovely and the guides are great. We then traveled most of Sunday to get to Baltra to board the ship. NOTE: THIS IS A VERY SMALL SHIP AND IS NOT IN THE LUXURY CLASS OF SHIPS AT ALL. I have cruised almost every line -- and believe me, this was basically a nice small ship that served some good lobster. It was the Holidays but on New Year's Eve they had no party planning at all. All 98 passengers milled around after dinner on the 4th deck -- which was awful -- and had to ask for Champagne at midnight. This was a very mixed crowd. Lots of families -- great -- and all ages. It could have been an amazing trip if the cruise director had planned for it. Monica, the cruise director, listened to no one. Example: I asked her why there were no hats, noisemakers, confetti -- anything -- to celebrate at midnight and she said, "oh your expectations are too high You're thinking we are a Celebrity cruise -- and we are not!" EXACTLY. The excursions are varied for different levels of physicality -- but again, Monica did not describe them well at all. All she needed to do was show photos of the terrain so that we could understand the difference between difficult and easier. When you are not on an excursion, there is nothing to do. Staterooms are very very small -- all on 4th deck were like inside cabins but with a porthole. The suites are better -- 5th and 6th deck -- but with so few, you need to book two years in advance. I wish I had. You feel the ship swaying all the time and had to hang on to the railings to walk safely. Food was good to just OK except for the fresh lobster -- which is amazing. The Naturalists are terrific but you never interact with them except on your excursion. How about our Captain and his executive crew! We never saw him, he never talked to anyone (and I did talk to many passengers about this) at all. We "saw" him at the wrap up "celebration" the night before we disembarked. He and his team were absent and it was so strange that they didn't circulate at all. HERE'S SOMETHING TO NOTE AND BE PREPARED -- We had to be out of our cabins at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 4 but sat in that ship until 10:30 and then went to the airport where we sat until 6 or 7 p.m. while we waited for the charted plane bringing the new GALAPAGOS passengers to Baltra. The plane was very late; we were all very tired and cranky and those of us who were going to Lima did not get to our hotel until 10:30 p.m. An entire day was wasted traveling. They need two chartered planes -- and at the cost per person for this cruise they need to fix that. Now for the good part -- definitely do the MACHU PICCHU extension option as it was the best part of our trip. The hotels were magnificent -- The Country Club Hotel in Lima; the Monasterio in Coscuo, and the Santuary in Machu Picchu were just to die for. Food? the Best in the world! We loved every minute. The HIRAM BINGHAM (Orient Express) train to Machu Picchu is an experience not to miss. First class and luxury all the way. The guides were terrific and worked with us to make sure everyone was ok and able to continue climbing. We were not troubled by altitude sickness but if you are worried, just keep drinking bottled water and the cocao tea. This is the part of the journey that made up for the disappointing cruise experience. Without Machu Picchu, I would have graded the entire experience a "5 out of 10".   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We sailed out of Baltra on the Silver Galapagos for the 7 night Western Itinerary on May 31 to June 7. Our hotel stay at the Marriott prior to the cruise was great, transfers and flights from Quito went smoothly. Silverseas staff was ... Read More
We sailed out of Baltra on the Silver Galapagos for the 7 night Western Itinerary on May 31 to June 7. Our hotel stay at the Marriott prior to the cruise was great, transfers and flights from Quito went smoothly. Silverseas staff was gracious and efficient in handling our luggage and getting us where we needed to be. The Silver Galapagos is an older ship that has been partially updated by Silverseas. There are parts of the ship that retain some of the charm of older boats ( glossy wood paneling, varnished decks and mirrored dressing tables) and other areas that have been refurbished (bathrooms, dining area, jacuzzi and spa) but the pipes are old (hence the banging and clanging behind our walls when the jacuzzi on the deck above was heating up) and the shower took half an hour to drain after use. Bed was very comfortable, with lovely high quality linens, and there is plenty of storage in the cabin. Our cabin, #506, was just inside from a large deck with sofas at the bow of the boat, and surprisingly no one else used it but us and our friends. One night we sat out there and watched the most spectacular display of stars that we had ever seen. The butler service that Silversea promises was spotty and unreliable in our cabin. We hardly saw the room staff, and they did not respond to phone calls when we wanted to order some drinks or food. It seemed that they had lots of other duties on board, as we would see them around the ship and dining area. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and fresh towels were abundant, but we rarely saw them in person. Our friends on deck 4 had a better experience, and when one of them was sick for a couple of days ( not sure what he ate) the butler was solicitous and brought the patient tea and toast. Food in the dining room was quite good, nicely presented and with great variety at lunch and dinner. Breakfast was buffet style, plentiful, fresh, and pretty much the same every day. The evening dining service was unreliable, with language issues being part of the problem, and obvious inexperience on the part of the wait staff. That said, the staff was always friendly and welcoming, and were clearly working very hard. We felt that they just hadn't been doing this very long and needed more training around anticipating the needs of the diners and knowing how to provide good service. The South American wines that were served each night were quite good, and we never felt the need to ask for a full wine list. Cocktails could also be ordered at dinner. We were disappointed that there was no ice cream for the entire cruise. Not sure what happened but it seemed that there was a delivery problem. Loved the Galapagos lobster! In general the hotel aspects of the cruise were fair to good, but inconsistent. We felt that better supervision was needed in both the cabins and the dining room. This was our first Silversea cruise, so we have nothing to compare it to but other cruise lines, but we understand that they take pride in their service. I don't think this was up to par. That said, we were very pleased with the Naturalist guides, boat staff and all the excursions out to the islands. The guides were all incredibly knowledgeable, many of them with advanced degrees in marine biology and environmental studies, and on top of that they were personable, warm and engaging. We went in small groups, and never felt crowded on our walks about the area. In fact we rarely saw people from other boats, which led us to believe that the itinerary is carefully planned for providing the guests with the best possible experience. Snorkeling trips were fantastic, but not enough of them. Deep water snorkeling was challenging, as the waters are rough, but for us it was some of the best ever. Seeing a 15 foot whale shark emerge just below us was a thrill of a lifetime. Disembarkation was unremarkable. It's never fun to leave a ship after a great week of vacation with friends. There's always a lot of waiting around, and you could tell that the staff was focused on getting ready for the new guests, but that's always the way on a cruise ship. Transfers to the airport were smooth, and Silversea staff was there to assist us right up to departure back to the mainland. The love and respect that the local guides have for the islands is obvious, and one could not help but feel the same way after seeing the amazing wildlife, plants and sea creatures that are living in peace and harmony on the islands. This is a place in the world that everyone should see! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
Overall, our Galapagos vacation was unforgettable - definitely a "MUST DO" experience. My review focuses on Silversea's claim to offer an ultra-luxury version of the Galapagos on its "new" ship, the Silver. The ... Read More
Overall, our Galapagos vacation was unforgettable - definitely a "MUST DO" experience. My review focuses on Silversea's claim to offer an ultra-luxury version of the Galapagos on its "new" ship, the Silver. The Silver welcomes you to your cabin with an apology letter. This emphasizes that Silversea usually employs Filipinos, but is required by the Galapagos National Park to hire only Ecuadorians. Does Silversea believe Ecuadoreans are inferior to Filipinos? In order to provide its expected level of service, couldn't Silversea pay higher wages for an Ecuadorean crew that's better experienced and fluent in English? The Silver’s service staff was friendly and tried very hard, but only a few were capable of delivering the promised excellence. The letter also explained that they're prohibited from importing certain fruits and meats into the Galapagos. Fine, but that's not an excuse for the mediocre quality fruit, nor the (sometimes) frozen seafood we were served. Otherwise, the food was very good, and we enjoyed having a choice between the lively outdoor grill and the calm, cool restaurant. I don't usually don't like buffets, but the restaurant lunches were excellent. The ship itself has been very well re-designed. Common areas are comfortable and inviting. Cabins are spacious (but only by Galapagos standards), although the A/C was sometimes insufficient, and suites are poorly configured for an expedition cruise (lots of closet space, but not enough shelves). Our itinerary was extremely well planned: excursions early in the morning and later in the afternoon, with free time in between. Naturalist guides are trained by the Galapagos National park, so they’re excellent whether your cruise is luxurious or basic. They’re also limited by law to 16 guests per guide, so Silversea doesn’t offer anything special when it comes to staffing excursions. As I stated in the beginning, we loved our trip to the Galapagos. I believe my review of Silversea might have been more positive, except for our disappointing last experience. Silversea did a flawless job at arrival, with transfers, hotels, tricky Galapagos customs and baggage. But on disembarkation, they completely dropped the ball. We were evicted from our staterooms at 7:30 am to prepare for incoming passengers. Silversea’s original itinerary promised a morning departure for the mainland, but instead we had to wait in the sweltering Baltra airport for a 1 pm flight. Then Siversea charged us for transfers and a day hotel room in Guayaqil, where we ended up having less down-time than in Baltra. Where was the attention to detail that had enticed me to book this (my first) Silversea cruise? While I will always treasure this Galapagos experience, I'm not sure that I can recommend paying a premium for the somewhat flawed luxury of Silversea. To Silversea: please stop apologizing, and fix the bugs. If you can’t deliver on your promised level of quality here, why should passengers trust you on trips elsewhere?   Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Our 6th journey on Silversea and although we expected an 'expedition' type vacation, we were disappointed with the quality of the ship and the service. We did expect more from this stellar company. The 25 year old vessel badly ... Read More
Our 6th journey on Silversea and although we expected an 'expedition' type vacation, we were disappointed with the quality of the ship and the service. We did expect more from this stellar company. The 25 year old vessel badly needs to go into dry dock for a good overhaul. Throughout the voyage washrooms were unavailable and locked in public areas, with a smell emanating from them, air conditioning was almost non-existent, particularly in the restaurant, and the furnishings were worn and tired and in disrepair. Our cabin, a veranda suite was comfortable, although there was no space provided for our bags. I traveled with my husband and we only brought one suitcase each, but no room for them under the bed. It took 6 days to get a light bulb replaced and the emergency light did not go on when there was a brief power failure. The food was very poor. We understand that getting fresh food in Ecuador is difficult, although bananas, a staple there, were also very tired. I can find fresher at home. The restaurant where we were advised to wear 5 star resort clothing, no jeans, was hot and uncomfortable, and the food often inedible and certainly uninspired. The other eating venue outside had to be booked by reservation, although Silversea stresses that their ships are open seating. There were unused tables, but I believe there just wasn't enough staff to service this area, nor the 'hot rock' grills to go around. The reason we went on this cruse was to visit the Galapagos in comfort. The expedition staff led by Danny was first rate. The various trips we took were excellent and enjoyable. The enthusiastic guides like Xavier and Tommy were a delight. The wildlife and scenery incredible. We met many wonderful passengers who also were disappointed in the ship, service, and food and they expressed that this was their first and last Silversea voyage. We have trusted the brand over the many years we have been traveling with them, but no longer. We paid top dollar for what we had expected to be at the very least an excellent, well run ship in good repair with delicious food. We did not get this. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call and wanted to try our luck with Celebrity. Plus we liked that the ship stayed in ports for multiple days. This was our 7th cruise (first with Celebrity) and we have traveled extensively. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call and wanted to try our luck with Celebrity. Plus we liked that the ship stayed in ports for multiple days. This was our 7th cruise (first with Celebrity) and we have traveled extensively. Staff on the ship was friendly, courteous and very attentive! Our state room attendant Schubert and his assistant were excellent and seemed like genuinely good guys! Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. This was a Christmas cruise and the ship did a very good job providing for the kids. Both our Kids 5 and 9 years old had a fun vacation. Ship layout was easy to navigate and possessed the usual cruise ship flair. The ship is bit old and shows its age. Our room was 9156, a family veranda with an extended balcony. It was spacious with a separate sleeping area for our 2 children which included an extra television. We would have been quite happy. However, the room was infested with bed bugs. Many of them were mature and we were all badly bitten. We were immediately removed from the room. All of our luggage and clothing was put in plastic and taken away to be cleaned. We were moved to a much smaller room. We were told our original room would be ready in a few hours. A day later, our clothes were delivered to the smaller room without an explanation. After several calls to guest services, we were informed our room would not be ready. Then only after complaining, we were offered 2 rooms side by side but not connecting. I would have preferred that our family be together in the same room but at least we were comfortable. The new rooms were clean and serviceable. Our new rooms were 6027 & 6029. 9156 was offered back to us after a few days but we elected to stay as packing up again didn't appeal to us. We essentially missed a day and a half. The ports of call were amazing cities! We had prepared for the long distance 2 - 3 hours bus or car rides each way but many were complaining. More time to compensate could have solved the problem. The ship was in port overnight on many of these occasions. We spent 2 nights in a private hotel in Bangkok. We wished we had done the same thing in Saigon. Hanoi needs an extra day. We missed the port at Da Nang because of inclement weather. The food at the restaurant was generally OK. There were some disappointments. The food at the buffet was not good. Snack food was terrible. Everyone at our dinner table liked our head waiter Alberto. His assistant Nadan was also extremely nice and should be recognized for giving outstanding service! We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants. The shows and entertainment are exactly what you should expect on a cruise ship. The lounge acts were marginal at best with the exception of the one man guitarist/singer who plays in the main foyer. He was exceptional! We had our issues. None which we didn't overcome. We met some very nice people and had a nice time. Somehow we expected more...   Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
If you are an independent traveler who likes to have some control of events, this is not the cruise for you. Unfortunately it is the only way to visit the Galapagos Islands and visit a substantial number of visitor sites. The Endeavour is ... Read More
If you are an independent traveler who likes to have some control of events, this is not the cruise for you. Unfortunately it is the only way to visit the Galapagos Islands and visit a substantial number of visitor sites. The Endeavour is an Ecuadorean flagged, German built fishing boat equipped for Antarctic conditions that carries 96 of your new best friends each week and a crew of 70 crammed into its hull. It is a slickly organized mass tourist market soft adventure cruise where you can do three or four activities: you can hike only with a naturalist in a group on either a designated “long” or “short” hike, you can snorkel with the group in a designated and patrolled area or you can kayak (three times per voyage and only with advance sign up for a spot on one of 7 kayaks) or you can, again with advance sign up, take a glass bottom boat ride. That is it. You cannot swim from ship to shore or around the ship or outside designated limits. You cannot up and go for a walk. Excersize will be in the small gym as the hikes tend to be short strolls with a lot of standing around rather than hikes. There are long lines in narrow corridors to board the Zodiacs for disembarkation and a plethora of rules to obey. To go ashore requires you to know first whether or not it is a wet (on the beach) or dry (on a jetty) landing, then to remember, amongst the usual backpack items (insect repellent, sunscreen, water bottles) to put on your life vest, slide a magnet to indicate that you are going ashore so that they have a passenger count, stretch out both arms to be helped on board the Zodiac and then cram one against the other for the journey ashore. The Zodiacs are loaded to the point of discomfort for all, up to 8 per side. That leaves passengers wedged close together and is uncomfortable. The trick is to await the final Zodiac which may have fewer people on board. I found these Zodiac rides dangerous as well as uncomfortable; I have been whacked in the eye by a metal buckle as one of the ubiquitous photographers swings his camera around to catch a shot, poked in the side and sat on by a large off balance individual. Once ashore, one discards life vests in the Zodiac and then the naturalist accompanying the Zodiac takes over, corralling her (or his) group of 16 close together for the hike. You cannot remain on the beach or stray from the group. The naturalists are all knowledgeable, some more so than others, and they lecture during the brief Zodiac ride ashore, going over the rules once again and then once on shore, the lectures do not stop; this is not a silent observation hike, nor a walk where one chooses one’s own speed. It is a forced march at the pace of the naturalist guide who will decide when and where to stop. People are herded like sheep and there is little space to enjoy a solitary moment of contemplation. Cabins are very adequate with comfortable bunks (the mattresses could use updating) and good bedding and bathrooms are spotless with all the necessities provided including shampoos and soaps that are biodegradable. Meals are ample, many served buffet style with 96 people once more dutifully standing in a long line but quality is only mediocre. The offerings are typically bland to fit the American palate: bacon and eggs, sweetened fruit yogurts, sweetened breads and cakes and the usual chicken or meat or a vegetarian offerings at lunch and dinner. For those who enjoy American coffee, there is plenty but those who prefer a European coffee will need to ask for expresso. Beers and wines are local. The bar seems to offer everything one would need but I am no expert so will leave that commentary to those better qualified to comment. The lounge is the place where everything occurs and if it is briefings (never brief) more lectures or National Geographic films that one wishes to see, you will be pleasantly surprised as there are 2 – 4 briefings per day. It is in this aspect that the crew is least skilled with little training in public speaking, thus lecturing rather than speaking without humour on their topics. Perhaps Lindblad might consider information given on ipads or similar placed in cabins. This would eliminate the vast quantities of paper wastage. The cruise line is environmentally conscious in every other aspect (biodegradable soaps, conservation of linens etc) but fails on the paper front. The daily bulletin is placed in cabins at night. The NYT bulletin in printed off and posted daily in the lounge and I would think that a system of people management whereby one signed up for a specific Zodiac in the cabin on the ipad or device for a specific boarding time, would be more effective and better save on paper waste. Much could be done to avoid the lengthy, repetitive and often boring lectures and briefings and the long lines in narrow corridors. One cannot beat the bird and animal sightings and the knowledge of the naturalists on board. Neither can one match the range of sites visited. In this the Endeavour succeeds beyond imagination. And it is for the bird and animal sightings that one visits the islands. However, the long lensed enthusiastic photographers can be irritating as they thoughtlessly insert themselves to get the best shots. Again a better system of organization of boarding might better separate the serious amateur photographers with their lenses and equipment from those who prefer peace and quiet. National Geographic / Lindblad cruises is probably the master of soft adventure mass tourist movers. Provided you do as you are told and show up on time for all activities to stand in line and wait and do not vary from the plan, you will have a wonderful time. Independent travelers, this cruise is not for you!   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
Shipboard package (food, cabin, service, staff, entertainment, etc) up to usual Seabourn standard - with two exceptions; - strike in Buenos Aires meant ship was not able to re-provision and many items were in short supply or simply ... Read More
Shipboard package (food, cabin, service, staff, entertainment, etc) up to usual Seabourn standard - with two exceptions; - strike in Buenos Aires meant ship was not able to re-provision and many items were in short supply or simply unavailable - Quest is designed for warm weather cruising and when outside space is not available, some facilities, such as the Colonnade, are unpleasantly over-crowded. Worth adding that Quest rode well in heavy seas in Drake Passage. However whatever the description, this was not, nor could it ever be, an expedition cruise. At 450 passengers (some people onboard were sold the cruise on the basis of maximum 300) Quest cannot; - logistically manage more than one landing per day. It takes approximately 6 house for Quest to complete a landing cycle - expedition ships with less than 200 passengers aboard make up to three per day sometimes starting at 5am - use the majority of the landing sites due to the number of passengers onboard - which is further restricted by the vessel's poor ice rating - respond flexibly to the inevitable changeable weather because alternative sites are limited by the above. The dead hand of corporate management (some of whom were said to be onboard but not at all in evidence) appears to be in conflict with the expedition team who would like to have delivered more. Of a twenty-one day cruise, only two days had Antarctic landings (one other a short zodiac trip), six days (or part) in port and the remaining thirteen days at sea. Which brings me to the nub of the question - if you want to do a 'fly by' to Antarctica to see and photograph icebergs, some wild life, etc you can do so in nearly as much comfort at a much lower cost. Seabourn charges mightily for the privilege of expedition landings but does not and cannot deliver. This is not a soft expedition, it is a non-expedition and should be priced and marketed accordingly. Read Less

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