I just returned from the Celebrity Xpedition! It’s been a bucket-list trip for us, and we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with this trip.
My best assessment of this experience is summer camp for adults! It is a bit demanding physically, but the rewards are certainly worth it. Be prepared to spend a good deal of time in the water, be physically able to handle ‘wet’ landings from a zodiac (jumping out into 1-2 feet of water, choppy waves and all), as well as dry landings on uneven, rocky terrain. We had several people take falls (a broken ankle for one guest and a face plant for another).
This time of year is ‘dry’ season, but the water is a bit colder and choppier, and the weather is cooler. It’s also nesting season for many birds and mating season for the tortoises.
I highly recommend taking Celebrity’s 10 or 11-night package, which includes hotel in Quito, meals, tours and charter air service to/from Baltra. It is seamless and very well done.
We sprung for the suite, which most people would say is an unnecessary expense. But we sure enjoyed the extra space and we DID spend a lot of time on the balcony watching the marine life playing below us. We also brought flashlights to watch them at night, as the ship no longer dims the deck lights for night-viewing. So we felt lucky. The standard cabins are small by most standards. That’s something we heard a few people complain about.
They provide excellent briefings each evening to prepare you for the next day’s excursions, and to choose one (of 2 or 3) that is best suited for you. All snorkel gear is provided, including ‘shorty’ wetsuits.
I cannot say enough positive things about this program. The ship is great (but boy, does it rock!), food and service are excellent, and the naturalists/guides are top-notch. They make the experience so amazing. We didn’t bring a computer (tried to ‘disconnect’ – HA!) but they have laptops you can borrow and unlimited internet is FREE (when it works). The last evening they do a slide show of the week’s photos taken by the guides, and they incorporate guest photos ~ the DVD was a pillow gift that evening. Class act.
Nothing in the way of ‘entertainment’, but Karaoke night and the crew show were fun.
The second week we did a private tour of Peru with Eco-Adventures, who put the trip together for us and it was unforgettable. They picked up where Celebrity left off, flying us from Quito to Lima. We spent two nights here enjoying the city (tour included) and then were flown to Cuzco. It will take your breath away ~ LITERALLY. It is at 11,000 feet and you do feel the effects of the altitude, especially if you hike around the ruins surrounding the city up to 12,000 feet. The key here is to acclimate slowly. We descended into the Sacred Valley of the Incas for a night, then on to Machu Picchu (staying overnight at Hotel Sumaq, highly recommended ~ personally I saw Sanctuary Lodge and don’t see the value). We ended with 2 nights back in Cuzco…one would have been enough as we did struggle with the altitude a bit.
People and food are amazing, the scenery is unbelievable, and I highly recommend making this a ‘must do’ on your list.
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