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savethepandas

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Everything posted by savethepandas

  1. Thanks, kent4489 for your comments. I did note that statement regarding PCR testing if needed in Quito for 10+ night packaged passengers is now added to the "Galapagos Travel Requirements as of Sept 1 2021" https://www.celebritycruises.com/healthy-at-sea/galapagos-travel-requirements The updated statement further clarifies the 72 hour vs 3-day issue, with the former being the exact policy. Good to see that Celebrity provided the exact boarding time of the Baltra flight. We continue to gather data, ask questions, and monitor the situation in both the US and Ecuador. We are not approaching this cruise without careful thought and preparation, during this pandemic. We even hope/expect to be receiving the booster shots, given the CDC guidance, before our sailing. Meanwhile, Ecuador continues to do well with its vaccination program, with 62% eligible getting at least one dose, and just about 50% fully vaccinated (including 100% adult pop of Galapagos), as of recent data. Covid cases averaging about 14/100K, which is so much better than many places in the US. With the occurrence of a few delta cases in the Gp, reinstating the need for a neg PCR test for Gp entrance, was certainly warranted to protect the residents (absolutely NO blame to the Ecuadorean government!). We will do our very best to comply with the PCR requirement, but happy to see that Celebrity is now providing testing support on the Quito side, if needed. FYI, a quick survey of other Galapagos cruise/travel companies (Abercombie/Kent, Adventure Smith Explorations, Lindblad Expeditions, Galapagos Travel in CA) revealed their assistance in arranging testing, if needed by travelers to fulfill the PCR test requirement. Happy to see Celebrity on par with fellow travel companies. Our backup plan, if things really turn sour due to delta or other variant, will be to postpone til March 2022. But for now, cautiously proceeding... Happy sailing!
  2. Okay, I'm going to weigh in on this PCR issue. I've been posting on the Xpedition thread, and will copy this to that forum. This is our 3rd attempt to cruise Xp (canceled for Xp grounding, then covid). I had 3 phone discussions with Celebrity re: PCR test, with the last very frustrating and disappointing. I first called my Cb travel planner in late spring, when a neg PCR was required 96 hours prior to Gp arrival. I was concerned with the logistics, given the extra touring day in Quito, and the possible technical issues with obtaining results from testing facilities (eg,CVS, W'greens, Yale testing centers) who send results to secure health portals, that may not be accessible in foreign countries. (since then, I've been advised to use VPNs to work around this issue). My TP was very helpful, contacted the Gp desk, who offered that if necessary they would help with acquiring testing in Quito if I had difficulty with getting my results, or even offering to use their VPN on their laptops. "Don't worry, Celebrity is there to support you!" Fast forward to last week, just prior to the official change in the entrance requirement of needing a neg PCR test, now down to 72 hours from 96 hours! I called the Gp desk directly, and once I started asking questions about the pending need for PCR test, he abruptly directed me to the Health Protocol department to answer those questions. Did not/could not answer any Gp cruise questions relating to covid health issues. The health rep basically stated that Celebrity would do everything that was stated in the Cb "Travel Requirements for Gp cruises", which at that time noted a complimentary rapid antigen test prior to arrival to Baltra. When I mentioned that a neg PCR test was soon to be required, and that I was concerned about the logistics, she stated that Celebrity would continue to support and offer whatever testing was needed, and refer to the Travel requirement website for updated information. Now this morning, I called Gp desk directly again. Again, got abruptly booted to the Health Protocol dept, when asked about PCR test, saying that health dept could answer any questions about the Gp cruise and testing. I asked health rep re: the 72 hour vs 3-day question, emphasizing that the Ecuadorean state department stipulates the 72 hour window. The rep said testing any time 3 days before was ok. So do I believe him?? I also asked him when exactly would that test result have to be presented - prior to boarding Baltra flight or on arrival at Baltra? Well, the health rep wanted to redirect me back to the Gp desk for the answer to that question, just after the Gp desk sent me to the health dept to answer ANY question relating to Gp and health!! UGH! The health rep did say that digital format of the test result would be acceptable, ie, one does not need a printed copy of the test result, but to have copy of the pdf on one's smartphone (again, do I believe him?). Final question to the health rep, explaining the potential logistics of getting test results, given the extra day of Quito touring, possible technical difficulties, potential test delays as covid cases continue to increase, etc, etc, would Celebrity help SUPPORT its passengers in Quito if there were a problem. Would Cb be able to offer a backup option, ie, provide access to testing, (even if we had to pay for it), just to make sure its passengers weren't stranded due to lack of test results, even though it had promised or at least represented to me repeatedly, in prior conversations, that it would do so? Answer - no, Celebrity has no back up option, no support at this time. Sorry for the ranting, but Celebrity dropped the ball on this one BIG TIME! Very disappointed. Agree with kent4489, Celebrity should be ashamed of themselves.
  3. Some of these airlines may be updating flight schedules, as they have been experiencing pilot/staff shortages... We booked our Delta flights via Flights by Celebrity. A few weeks ago, Delta notified me of a significant flight change. Checked my Celebrity account, which showed the old schedule. I did not get a notification from Celebrity until 10-14 days later. So I guess it took that long for Celebrity to update its passenger accounts and forward an appropriate email. Just guessing... We also are interested in booking a private tour on the last day, as our flight leaves at midnight. But also concerned about last minute Celebrity changes, what the schedule will be for testing on the last day to return to US, and now, news of lambda variant spreading through So American countries, including Ecuador, Peru, etc.
  4. We are on Xpedition on Oct 16 sailing and watching carefully too. Have been looking at this website for Ecuador's covid status, which shows cases are dropping, 60% of peak. Also gives info on vaccination status. https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/ecuador/ Although vaxes have been proceeding slowly in Ecuador as a country, apparently, almost 100% of the Galap population has been vax'd, the push made to encourage tourism back to the islands. Another good news, per TripAdvisor forum, the JW Marriott has now reopened... Hard to say when the 10-night package will resume. My X rep also did say that July and most likely August sailings will be affected by the shortened trip. It all depends on the definition of what is "safe."
  5. Spoke to X rep few days ago. He said for the initial sailings in July (and uncertain for how long), the package has been reduced to 9 nights. Travelers come in the first day, stay at the EB Hotel (new, model hotel near the airport), head out the next day to Balta, skipping the Quito touring. Apparently, X wants to make sure that at least the Gp sailings proceed. If touring Quito presents safety issues, then that will be deleted. Adjustments in air travel will be handled by Flights by Celebrity. He noted that only the first few July Flora sailings had this change, but one can only guess when things would revert back to 10-nights. We are on the October 14 10-night package... Originally, we had planned to contact a private driver to tour the countryside (Cotopaxi, Quilotoa) on the final day in Quito, as our plane leaves in the late evening. But now, with Covid cases high in Ecuador with vaccinations proceeding very slowly, we may just stay put in/near the hotel.
  6. It's really tough not hearing from Celebrity as to the status of Galap cruises... On one hand, it sounds encouraging that apparently all Galap adult residents have been vaccinated - "And another great news arrived on March 15, 2021 as the Galapagos islands became the first region in the entire country where all residents got vaccinated against Covid19!" Entrance now easier as vaccinated travelers allowed to enter Ecuador, and crew to be vaccinated. On the other hand, Ecuador as a country, as well as South America, not doing well with covid. Brazil is dire. Only 1.4% of Ecuador vaccinated. Per TripAdvisor, JW Marriott was to open end of April, but still hasn't, with no known date. As of April 20, US State Dept raised travel alert to Level 4 - "do not travel due to high covid". How can Celebrity/Royal Caribbean, HQ'd in Miami, proceed to a country that's at level 4 alert??!! We have to decide by mid June with final payment for October sailing, using FCC from previous cancelations (licensing, hit the rocks). Not clear if "cruise with confidence" where 100% FCC given, includes refunds on deposit/taxes/port fees? Not to mention, the $200 cancellation fee per person with Flights by Celebrity airfare. Still just guessing...
  7. Saw that the JW Marriott Quito just recently closed "temporarily." Maybe for six months? maybe longer? Fallout economically due to covid, lack of tourism/ hotel guests...
  8. Seems like Cruise mapper showing the most updated position this morning. Direction appears to be directly to Galapagos, as opposed to having to stop in Salinas for supplies, etc., hopefully. Still scheduled to arrive on Feb 6 afternoon. 😊
  9. Try this link: https://www.shipcruises.org/2013/02/current-position-of-celebrity-xpedition.html Looks like it's hanging out by Limon Bay, presumably standby for Panama Canal passage. Scheduled to reach Galapagos on Feb 6, with a little bit of luck ... (well, ok, with a lot of luck given its past history!!) Hope your friends sail as planned!
  10. Xp appears now in dry dock in Curacao. Celebrity is still posting sailings for as early as January 23, 2020. One would think that if repairs took much longer than a number of weeks, then those January sailings would have been pulled, keeping in mind that Xp still needs to travel back (though much faster), standby at the Panama Canal, pick up supplies/crew, final inspections, etc. But we know Celebrity's play book... Again, fingers crossed for the best! 🤞
  11. Looks like the Xp is headed to Curacao. Cruise tracker has "CW CUR" as destination. There is a shipyard - Damen, in Curacao. Took 3 1/2 weeks to be towed. Wondering how long repairs will take? Clock is ticking for January sailings! Fingers crossed for those with upcoming cruises in the New Year!!
  12. Maybe I was naive, when the supervisor "Gabby" (?your Gabriela) said we would be refunded "all that you paid", that that would be what we would receive. Looking back, I should have had her repeat back the total charge on my final invoice, and confirmed that all would be returned, assuming phone conversations are recorded. As I look at the final invoice, perhaps it is possible that the cruise fare, could be divided up into the cruise component and the land/Quito component - so you could get two strange numbers, but it should add up to the total cruise fare package (assuming you took the Quito 10 or 11-day pkg). And maybe, there's even the internal air to/from Baltra. You should get port expenses and taxes back, as we didn't cruise anywhere. Last but not least, if you paid for refundable international air through Celebrity Air, that should all come back. I would absolutely expect X to cover the $200 cancellation fee that was associated with those air tickets, since they canceled on us! I would not expect, though, if one paid for X's Vacation Protection Plan, ie, their travel insurance, that would be reimbursed, because that's, well, insurance! The outside travel insurance that I paid for (at half X's price) is lost for us. I'm still waiting for both the credit card refund and a FCC... we were on the Dec 7 sailing...
  13. Glad that it will work out for you! We are planning to take the full 100% credit card refund (whenever that comes back). Then will apply the FCC to an August 2020 sailing on the Xpedition, which had the 2nd guest 50% off and $1000 airfare promo. Will end up not being able to use about $1600 of the FCC, as our canceled sailing cost more than the Aug 2020 sailing, since you can only use the FCC once! There will be about $1100 out of pocket - we were told that the FCC cannot cover the $900 already paid deposit, nor port taxes. We looked at ways to spend the $1600 residual credit, but it would result in paying out money to use the credit - just didn't make sense. All in all, we will spend just $1100 for a trip to the Galapagos - think that's pretty decent!!
  14. Thanks for your response! I'll try a little patience through the Thanksgiving holiday, then it's a phone call!!
  15. To those who were given refund/FCC, did you get the refund and the future cruise credit/voucher pretty quickly?? Last spoke to the supervisor a week ago. Noted trip was officially canceled on the X website over this past weekend. Was told it would take about 3-5 business days for the refund to the credit card. Nothing yet. AND have not received the promised email cruise credit/certificate yet. Don't want to hassle them, but should I have received those items by now?
  16. Maybe the Xpedition is going to Cartagena, Columbia... found this note - http://www.procolombia.co/en/news/cartagena-shipping-and-cruise-repair-port Xp was repaired here in 2012.
  17. Saw this account of the Xp rescue by the Flora - Amazing job... https://www.cntraveler.com/story/what-happens-during-a-cruise-ship-rescue
  18. Okay, it's official, just got the call. Our December 7th Xp sailing has been canceled, AND the rest of December!!! Supervisor says they are hoping that sailings will start back in Jan 2020. Got the full refund and FCC, which she said I could use for an existing booking (our August 2020 sailing). Thankful that the call came now, as opposed to waiting til around Thanksgiving. So disappointed, but it is what it is, plus we get a free trip! 😥😔
  19. Does anyone know if the FCC voucher can be used for a previously booked X cruise, or only new bookings? Back this summer, with all the licensing issues, X had a deal for 2nd guest 50% off w/$1000 airfare (now it's $750 airfare) using Celebrity Air. So I put a deposit down on the Aug 27 Quito package, since there was no way of knowing how long the licensing issue would be resolved. This was when Xp was still due to hold 64 pax, so the price was really great! This Aug sailing is my backup to my Dec 7, 2019 sailing. So now, I'm not feeling really good about the prospects of Xp being ready for the Dec 7 sailing. We are next in line to be canceled!! So would I be able to use the FCC for this Aug 2020 sailing that I held since this past summer?? FYI, I just noticed that this Aug 27, 2020 Quito/Southern Loop date still has a suite available for a unbelievable $6400 pp, which takes into account the 50% 2nd guest, and $500 independent airfare. Original suite price was $8450. This availability also tells me that this sailing is not over the 48 pax limit. Initially, when Xp went down to 48, this sailing date was pulled, presumably because it was over the 48 limit. I'm sure there are upcoming sailings in 2020 that are booked to 64. So those who were canceled, or those holding an upcoming December sailing, may want to look at this suite, and place a hold on it!!!
  20. FYI, it's being followed on other threads: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2708201-celebrity-xpedition-runs-aground-in-galapagos/ https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/1989162-xpedition-anyone-recently-back-part-3/page/190/
  21. Saw this morning that the President has moved administrative center of the government to the city of Guayaquil, due to continued protests by the indigenous groups. Perhaps, things will quiet down in Quito with this move, with protests then proceeding in Guayaquil! But sounds like Ecuadorean President not backing down on austerity measures, meaning a prolonged period of conflict! With fuel subsidies cut, cost of "everything" will go up - transportation, food, etc.
  22. Any updates on the situation in Ecuador/Quito protests ?? From news reports, sounds like the transport strikes have been called off, but that indigenous groups are still blocking roads and promising to continue until the President backs down from cancelling fuel subsidies/austerity measures, which he won't. Wondering how affected was the historic section of Quito? When tourists will be allowed back in the area, if/when safe?? The Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World Park) is about 20 miles north of JW Marriott. Still able to visit?? via Celebrity? Any firsthand info from folks on the Xpedition or Flora?? Hoping that everyone is safe in their travels...
  23. Thanks so much for your input and great shots! Since you were on the 10-night Quito trip, was wondering about what Celebrity may have offered as optional trips on that last day for those with very late/midnight flights, ie, on Day 11. Thanks!
  24. I just tried to change my deck 3 cabin for our Dec 7 sailing, but was unable. The Celebrity rep said the sailing was sold out, though reconfirmed what I was told previously, that we were among the 48 pax allowed, and the sailing had its 48 pax (ie, 24 cabins) already booked at the time it was pulled when Xp changed from 64- to 48, ie, there was no overbooking. (I'm hoping that this is really true, and not being taken down the wrong path.) I'm assuming that the Galapagos dept needs time to figure out how to reshuffle the 48 pax among the available cabins, so couldn't give me an updated cabin at this time. I'm also assuming that it would probably be sorted out by who paid what, ie, those who paid for suites would be upgraded to better suites, and us low life in deck 3 would fill in at deck 4 once some of those were bumped up. IMHO I'm sure each sailing will be different - how many booked, what date cabin was booked, what types of cabins booked, as to what the algorithm will be and when one might hear of an updated cabin. I'm sure some sailings will be easier to sort out than others.... (the sailing for Dec 14 must have be an easier one to update the 3rd deck cabins).... I'll rest more easily when I get my updated cabin.... which might not be until right before our sailing... Ugh!
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