June 2013 - Celebrity Xpedition to South America
Finally getting to the Galapagos islands ended a long desire to see the unusual array of birds and animals that we had heard so much about. We spent considerable time examining and evaluating various cruise options and based on a desire for some luxury as well as an experienced ship and crew we selected the Celebrity Xpedition, a cruise line that we had not used previously. We also liked the inclusion of two days in Quito before and after the cruise. From the very first excursion to an island we knew our desire to visit the Galapagos was correct and now fulfilled. Every excursion brought new and wonderful sightings made all the more appreciated by the wonderful naturalists that accompanied us and provided amazing knowledge.
A major negative aspect of sailing on the Celebrity Xpedition that absolutely every conversation we had with fellow cruisers verified was the poor quality of the food. Time and time again there were dishes that had little taste or suffered in other ways. It became common practice to taste a dish, decide it was not worth eating, and then order another dish or try something else from the buffet table. An enormous amount of food ended up as waste. We found it fascinating that our waiter at the first dinner advised us to skip meat and chicken dishes because they were frozen and would not satisfy us.
There were no problems or surprises with our stateroom. Though relatively small it was well designed and quite pleasant and satisfactory, with the odd feature that one person has to sleep adjacent to a wall and get into and out of bed in a strange way.
This ship rocks considerably, sometimes even when anchored. A bridge tour provided an explanation. The stabilizers are just too small and the ship is somewhat top-heavy because an upper deck was recently added to provide some suites. The routine rock and rolling was far worse than previous cruises on Seabourn and Regent ships.
As we knew the ship was small with just under 100 possible passengers we did not expect a lot of things which we have enjoyed on previous cruises. But we really appreciate the single musician that often played at cocktail times and in the evenings; he is quite a talent. The simple "shows" offered by crew and some passengers were also pretty good. The daily briefings on the next day's excursions by the naturalist cruise director were both informative and enjoyable. A special treat was the bridge tour where we learned how much Celebrity does on this ship to protect the environment and provide safety to all on board.
Don't miss or stay away advice for excursions? Everyone who goes on this type of Galapagos cruise should absolutely go on every excursion, because every one offered some unique nature watching experience.
The ship’s doctor was kept very busy, because at least 20 percent of the passengers became sick, some with digestive problems and others with upper respiratory issues, and still others had injuries because of some very difficult walking conditions on shore.
On the plus side, we were glad that we selected a Galapagos cruise that included days in Quito, because Ecuador is a unique and most beautiful country with some of the most gorgeous people on the planet. But the disappointing food on the ship was a real negative.