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Old 12-11-2007, 02:36 PM   #1
Ned
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Lightbulb Galapagos Cruise - Celebrity Xpedition - Background

This will be the first in group of posts (threads), I'll be making about our recent Galapagos cruise. I've broken my report into sections for easier reading.

A cruise in the Galapagos, about 550 miles off the coast of Ecuador is an incredible adventure and worth every penny of the cost, but it is not inexpensive, and is not an easy cruise. It is not a cruise that's suited for those who love cruising, but for whom the ship is the destination. While, for example, the Celebrity Xpedition is a pretty luxurious boat, compared to many which cruise the Galapagos, it doesn't have all the amenities of a large cruise ship, nor the stateroom size. Don't mistake this boat for Celebrity's Summit or other large ships.

The Xpedition is a 90 passenger boat.

This was our 6th cruise with Celebrity. Previously we have cruised on the Galaxy, Millennium, and Summit to Alaska, the Med and the Caribbean. Our experiences on all these cruises have been excellent except on Millennium in the Med, which had enough problems that we sought and received substantial compensation. We consider Celebrity to best of the large ship cruise lines. We have elite Captain's Club status with both Celebrity and RCCL. We have no intention of cruising on Celebrity's new Soltice line, as we aren't interested in cruising on a ship larger than about 2,100 passengers, and are looking to try Celebrities Azamara ships next for a smaller ship experience. We have been staying in Concierge Class cabins on Celebrity since they were introduced.

On this cruise we traveled without friends or family, which we had done on some prior cruises with Celebrity. We are active, young sixty year olds, who travel for pleasure 2 - 3 times per year. We cruise about every other year.

When planning this trip, with very high expectations, we were choosing between Celebrity and Lindblad. We eventually chose Celebrity because of the boat, our experience with Celebrity, the boat's size giving it greater stability than smaller vessels such as Lindblad's and because we sincerely doubted Lindblad's Galapagos experience could possibly be worth the extra significant dollars that cruising with them would have cost, compared to Celebrity.

We chose to add the precruise/post cruise Quito package to the Xpedition cruise. We made our own flight arrangements as we have been unhappy with the flight arrangements made by any of the cruise lines, and our travel agent handled all arrangements, which is our custom with cruises. Our travel agent gets things done right, and normally less expensively than we could do on our own. This was no exception.

I can tell you that we believe our decision was definitely the right one. All the naturalists who guide you on land and when snorkeling or diving are licensed by Ecuador, regardless of the cruise line, and know their stuff. Based on discussions with some Lindblad passengers, post cruise, it is our opinion that our boat had stability advantages, that our boat was more luxurious (which we wanted), that our shore and sea excursions were as numerous, as well planned, and interesting, as fun, as well led as Lindblad, and that there were touches by Celebrity which gave various edges to Celebrity. All that being said, I don't think you can go wrong choosing either Celebrity or Lindblad for your Galapagos adventure.

A final background note, while there are excursions each day which are high intensity, and low intensity, and on some days an option for medium intensity, this is not a trip for coach potatoes. There are no city "bus tours" on this trip. There's lots of walking, on boulders, on sand, on rocks, on rough paths, etc. There's lots of opportunities for snorkeling, the best for good swimmers with good endurance who can snorkel for an hour to and hour and 20 minutes at a time. While there were some who only took the low intensity excursions (there were both morning and afternoon excursions), and they saw plenty, only the people taking the high intensity excursions, in my opinion, really saw their money's worth. We did all the high intensity excursions ourselves and did advanced snorkeling as well. I can tell you that we had no trouble getting to sleep each evening.

If you have general questions about Galapagos' cruises, this is the thread to ask and discuss. I'll be getting more specific in other threads, about the Galapagos themselves and about our specific cruise.

The photos below were taken from Bachas Beach in the Galapagos. The boat is the Xpedition.
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