It has taken me over a month from my return from the Galapagos on the Celebrity Xpedition to be able to think of sufficient words to describe this wonderful and unique cruise. My husband and I have done 44 cruises and this one has to rank up there in the top three.
We spent two nights either side of our cruise in the JW Marriott hotel in Quito, and this set the standard of our high expectations from Day 1. Organisation and planning was superb, even down to Celebrity reserving the VIP lounge for us at Baltra airport on our arrival after a two-hour flight from Quito.
I would not describe this trip as a 'cruise' as it was more of an expedition and adventure. There were 91 of us (the Xpedition holds 96 passengers) so everyone got to know everyone else very quickly on the week-long voyage.
The ship itself is gorgeous, beautifully decorated and very comfortable. We had to embark and disembark using the inflatable Zodiac dinghies, each of which holds 16 passengers. Water shoes are needed for the 'wet' landings and stout trainers or walking shoes for the 'dry' landings, which often involved clambering over uneven rocks and ground.
We were allocated cabin 416 and we had no complaints at all. There was a comfortable double bed, bedside cabinet, sofa and coffee table, flat screen TV and dressing table and stool. There was also a fridge containing complimentary soft drinks, and each day our cabin stewardess would place fresh fruit and canapés in the cabin, as well as a bottle of prosecco on ice on one occasion.
All the food and drinks (including cocktails) were all-inclusive and were of a very high standard. There was no featured entertainment such as one would find on the large cruise ships, but a lot of the time we made our own entertainment and the Ecuadorian staff would put on "Latin Nights" for us and teach us to salsa and merengue, or there would be quizzes, wildlife presentations, Galapagos documentaries and plenty of other things to keep us occupied. It was also a very educational and informative experience.
There are 19 islands in the archipelago, and only five of these are inhabited. It was fantastic and not a little emotional at times to be somewhere and see absolutely nothing that was man-made. The array of wildlife has to be seen to be believed; it is like nowhere else on the planet. I could spend all day trying to describe the beauty and unspoilt ruggedness and still come nowhere near being able to do it justics. We spent our days hiking, swimming, snorkelling and just feeling privileged to be in such a gorgeous place.
The trip was very expensive (five figures in pounds) but worth every single penny. Simply wonderful. it was our first cruise with Celebrity and it certainly won't be the last; in fact we are booked to go on the Celebrity Constellation in January 2018.
Very comfortable and nicely decorated. Had a good-sized bathroom compared to other ships with a glass-fronted shower cubicle. Cabin stewardess put little 'treats' in the cabin for us, such as fresh fruit, canapés, prosecco and Ecuadorian dark chocolate as well as keeping it all immaculate. No complaints at all.