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Galapagos Problems


sippican
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5 hours ago, rachiem said:

Oh that's a shame. Last few times I've looked, it was on the mainland, so I assumed it had moved.

Have they cancelled the 13th July's sailing yet?

Cancelled last week on 4 July. I got an email saying cruise cancelled.  Options are full refund with credit for future cruise or sail on smaller ship with 50 percent discount. We are in Ecuador right now since i had purchased no refundable airline tickets. Sailing on Saturday on smaller ship. Read on this board that people were happy with smaller ship with discount. Hope that is the case for us. 

 

But for us, we are not going to book celebrity anymore. This is the second time we had issues with them. 

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12 hours ago, tonga said:

Cancelled last week on 4 July. I got an email saying cruise cancelled.  Options are full refund with credit for future cruise or sail on smaller ship with 50 percent discount. We are in Ecuador right now since i had purchased no refundable airline tickets. Sailing on Saturday on smaller ship. Read on this board that people were happy with smaller ship with discount. Hope that is the case for us. 

 

But for us, we are not going to book celebrity anymore. This is the second time we had issues with them. 

 

Have a great time. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Sorry you've expereinced this difficulty. We are Elite level and have never experienced a booking or itinerary issue, but I can tell you all cruiselines have issues. Sometimes its their fault, sometimes it is completely out of their control (it seems this may be a bit of both).

This is another good reason to book air through Celebrity - your flights would have been completely covered.

Out of curiosity, were you offered any type of compensation if you booked Flora?

Edited by sippican
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10 hours ago, sippican said:

 

Have a great time. I can't wait to hear all about it.

Sorry you've expereinced this difficulty. We are Elite level and have never experienced a booking or itinerary issue, but I can tell you all cruiselines have issues. Sometimes its their fault, sometimes it is completely out of their control (it seems this may be a bit of both).

This is another good reason to book air through Celebrity - your flights would have been completely covered.

Out of curiosity, were you offered any type of compensation if you booked Flora?

We are RCL loyalists (diamond level) and have never had a problem with them but they do not have cruises in South America. 

 

We have only done two cruises with Celebrity, this one and the Carnaval (Brazil one) out of Argentina and we had issues with both cruises  

 

When we spoke to celebrity, not the Galapagos people, they said the Flora was an option but cruise would start on Sunday vice Saturday and that would require change in flights and issues at work—i have to be back on Monday for hearings— so we did not pursue it when we spoke to Galapagos folks. Still have not gotten refund promised. 

 

We came a week early and went to Cuenca for four days. That was an awesome four days. 

 

We were met at Airport this morning by Celebrity. Very professional. Marriott in Quito is great thus far. Tour of Quito tomorrow and then onto the expedition on Saturday.  All is well thus far. 

 

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On 6/30/2019 at 9:03 AM, sippican said:

Although I loved Xpedition, a new ship is enticing, but I'm treally looking forward to sailing Xpedition again with only 64 passengers.

Xpedition and Flora are both 100 passenger ships. Just so you know.

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6 hours ago, K12Guy said:

Xpedition and Flora are both 100 passenger ships. Just so you know.

 

Yes they are!

However, since the Flora has taken over the 100 licenses that used to be assigned to Xpedition, the Xpedition will only be allowed to carry 64 passengers (which is the number of licenses that were assigned to Xperience and Xploration combined), 

The National Park regulations do not allow for additional licenses in order to limit the number of guests to protect the ecosystem. So, unless the company somehow acquires licenses from another ship or operation, it is highly unlikely that Xpedition will sail with 100. Celebrity is only selling space for 64 passengers on future sailings, 

 

Of course, that assumes the Xpedition will have the decision to revoke her licenses  overturned.

Edited by sippican
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6 hours ago, sippican said:

the Xpedition will only be allowed to carry 64 passengers (which is the number of licenses that were assigned to Xperience and Xploration combined), 

Well now, that certainly makes sense. I have to say I would really enjoy Xpedition with just 64 passengers. It was at 98 when we did the tour in 2009 and was nice, but a bit crowded at times.

 

Thanks for the explanation. It's also the first time I've heard of the Xperience, so I'm not keeping up with keeping up.

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21 hours ago, bgrieve said:

We are booked on the Xpedition for April 2020 but also booked the Flora for the same month as back-up. Flora 10 day is 4K more expensive but includes air to Quito.

 

seems like a smart plan

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We are booked on the Expedition in November...🤞🤞... 10 day Northern route.. got the 1/2 off second person and free air promo.. so a great deal... Hoping we have a positive resolution before then😳.

 

 

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On 7/15/2019 at 11:53 AM, bgrieve said:

We are booked on the Xpedition for April 2020 but also booked the Flora for the same month as back-up. Flora 10 day is 4K more expensive but includes air to Quito.

 

 

I'm pretty sure there was a promo for included air on Xpedition also. You may want to double check.

 

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I booked the Expedition for February 2020 yesterday and then found this thread. Nothing was said to me by the Galapagos booking agent at Celebrity. Does anyone have thoughts about when Celebrity will let us know if this is a no go? Or is it possible the ship will be recertified for this route?

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5 hours ago, SJSULIBRARIAN said:

I booked the Expedition for February 2020 yesterday and then found this thread. Nothing was said to me by the Galapagos booking agent at Celebrity. Does anyone have thoughts about when Celebrity will let us know if this is a no go? Or is it possible the ship will be recertified for this route?

 

It amazes me that they can continue to sell cruises on a ship that is not licensed. They must have some inclination that they will be able to solve the problem to the government's satisfaction or I'd think they could be in a whole barrel of trouble if somone decided to call them on it legally. Those who have recently had cruises cancelled did not get much notice.  I presume you took advantage of the air promo, so your flights will be protected? I'd just monitor the boards (There's one in the Roll Call section too). 

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Cruise is behind us. The service and crew were top notch, best ever. There were 38 of us on the Xperience.  Celebrity must be losing money big time because they charter a plane from Quito to Baltran every Saturday for this cruise. the Flora folks do same flight on Sundays.  

 

Naturalists were great.  There were two tours every day from the boat.  Some were excellent others were really nothing but a hike where we learned about geological formations. I can say one thing, that i am glad that i am not paying the full $15k i originally signed up for.   The snorkeling was hit or miss on some you saw everything you thought you’d see and in others there was nothing to see. Water was COLD! Even with wet suits. No complaints about the snorkeling equipment. 

 

Food. Breakfast was the usual fare via buffet. And the same was with lunch. Usually a buffet in the bar area on the back of the boat. Unlimited drinks and beer along with speciality coffees but for some reason i could only drink a couple of times. 

 

Dinner was more structured.  Everyone got to know each other.  No kids at all, we had two teens on cruise. There was a standard menu and a daily menu. It took about 90 minutes. The last night was a seafood buffet. No complaints whatsoever about food but do caution that the Ceviche should be avoided by those with sensitive stomach. Both wife and i got sick and we believe the Ceviche was the culprit. 

 

The boat—thank God for the crew because the boat was My least favorite part of the cruise. It is dated. Not many places to go. Very noisy in cabin and shipped rocked  while under sail. There were two channels on TV that run movies on repeat 24 hours and one channel has the day’s program. I really hated using the waste basket for toilet tissue instead of flushing it. No problem with shower hot water. Stewards were excellent you got service three times a day. 

 

Bottom line is we do not regret taking the downgrade to xperience we had a decent time. Everything but the boat was what you come to expect from Celebrity and then some. The crew did exceed all expectations in every way. But if i had to do it all over again i would have taken the full refund and the full credit offered. I would have Came down to Quito as scheduled and flown to Santa Cruise on my own for a week and taken 3-4 day trips where we would have seen everything we saw on the cruise AND i would have been able to get some scuba dive trips in too for a much lower cost. 

 

Pictures of our cabin are attached. There was no sofa or loveseat to sit in the cabin, which was something we are used to. 

 

This is one of the cabins on fourth deck. The cabin on second deck are much smaller

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Tonga, Thanks for reporting back! Glad you enjoyed your cruise.How many were on your trip? Did they provide any updates on Xpedition?

 

FWIW, the cabin photo you shared is pretty much on par with the oceanview cabins on Xpedition, and yes, sometimes the small ships seem to rock more, depending on the seas. I'm sure the cabins on Flora will be much nicer. Placing TP in waste bins is pretty standard practice in many foreign countries we've visited. Sorry you were disappointed with the hiking excursions. We found all of the excursions fascinating. Too bad the sealife did not cooperate. We found that on some of our snorkel trips - some people on the same trip, saw tons, while others saw little. We missed seeing sharks and sea lions in the water but loved the Galapagos penguins zipping past us.

 

FWIW to anyone considereing a trip to the Galapagos Islands. You cannot set foot on any National Park Island unless you are accompanied by a licensed guide and pay the hefty entry fees. To presume you can just show up in the Galapagos and get day trips out to all of the same spots as the larger ships is not reasonable or probable. Also, the guides on larger vessels are required to undergo a higher level of training, than those on smaller boats.

 

Hopefully you'll get back to the area some day to do some diving.

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15 hours ago, tonga said:

Bottom line is we do not regret taking the downgrade to xperience we had a decent time. Everything but the boat was what you come to expect from Celebrity and then some. The crew did exceed all expectations in every way. But if i had to do it all over again i would have taken the full refund and the full credit offered. I would have Came down to Quito as scheduled and flown to Santa Cruise on my own for a week and taken 3-4 day trips where we would have seen everything we saw on the cruise AND i would have been able to get some scuba dive trips in too for a much lower cost. 

 

 

 

We did quite a bit of research on how to DIY Galapagos before booking our Expedition cruise in 2016. The cruise ship moves between islands during the evening and over night hours, making it seem like the islands are closer than they actually are. You can find lots of online reviews that pretty much reported small boat travel between islands as extremely slow and rough, taking away from the overall experience. This made us steer back to the Celebrity Expedition.  

 

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Small ship was rough when under sail and it did take away from overall experience. 

 

I saw all the Boobies, sea lions, turtles, Iguanas, finches, cormorants(sp?) Turtles and small penguins the first two days. After that, sightings were sporadic. I really did not see the need to be on a seven day small cruise ship when it could have been done in 3-4 day cruise. One of the cruise days was just a complete filler with morning and afternoon zodiac rides to see sea lions and other birds on the rocks. 

 

Santa Cruz island had many merchants advertising day tours and scuba trips. It had a great deal of young back packers who were doing Galapagos on the cheap. If you want to see As many islands as possible then obviously cruise ship is way to go. But do keep in mind that on some if those islands you will not see much wildlife other than iguanas and sea lions. Turtles were only seen on Santa Cruz in the preserves and the research center. And the next to last day of the cruise was spent entirely on Santa Cruz. 

 

On the last day, you must be out of your cabin by 8:00 AM and will hang around the common areas until noon at which time you will be taken to Airport for 3:00PM flight to Quito

 

i forgot to mention the internet speed. It was not very good. You could text and open some web pages but it was hit or miss. Often it just did not work. 

 

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Okay - so I haven’t read through the entire thread, but did partially read. I’m not surprised that the Xpedition has been considered unfit for the Galapagos. This vessel is too large and damaging to the environment. The Galapagos is a very special place and they are working very hard to preserve the ecosystem. With a large vessel like the Xpedition, yes, you will have the luxuries and ease of an ocean vessel, but there will be short comings in your actual experience. As each island only permits a very limited number of people on each island at a time, the entire ship is not allowed to disembark for excursions all at once as you are at the mercy of the law and whatever  other vessels are in port. These are usually small yachts of 16 - 30 passengers that can get much closer to the shore.  

In my personal opinion, if your cruise has not been cancelled by Celebrity I encourage you to explore your options. Visiting the Galapagos is all about the time on the islands and experiencing the most incredible destination in the world. I am a former travel agent that specialized in luxury adventure travel. I sent hundreds of people to the Galapagos and only on small vessels of 30 people or less. We worked with local operators to provide only the best experience. I was fortunate to visit the Galapagos on a 16 passenger yacht, with only 8 people  on my departure. This was the best trip of my life. The vessel was not fancy, but the company I sailed with was fantastic. Excellent captain, sailors and an amazing naturalist and the food was incredible!! This was the best trip I have ever taken and I have travelled to a lot of destinations. 

It was the perfect experience to shut down, turn off and experience nature. We were busy from 6am to 6pm every single day (literally sunrise to sunset) and then had the evening to hang out and relax with our fellow passengers. We were a total family by the end of the cruise. 

There are loads of options out there , but if your interests are more on the actual ship and whether or not you will have good Internet or not , this may not be the destination for you. 

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11 hours ago, tjc73 said:

Okay - so I haven’t read through the entire thread, but did partially read. I’m not surprised that the Xpedition has been considered unfit for the Galapagos. This vessel is too large and damaging to the environment. The Galapagos is a very special place and they are working very hard to preserve the ecosystem. With a large vessel like the Xpedition, yes, you will have the luxuries and ease of an ocean vessel, but there will be short comings in your actual experience. As each island only permits a very limited number of people on each island at a time, the entire ship is not allowed to disembark for excursions all at once as you are at the mercy of the law and whatever  other vessels are in port. These are usually small yachts of 16 - 30 passengers that can get much closer to the shore.  

In my personal opinion, if your cruise has not been cancelled by Celebrity I encourage you to explore your options. Visiting the Galapagos is all about the time on the islands and experiencing the most incredible destination in the world. I am a former travel agent that specialized in luxury adventure travel. I sent hundreds of people to the Galapagos and only on small vessels of 30 people or less. We worked with local operators to provide only the best experience. I was fortunate to visit the Galapagos on a 16 passenger yacht, with only 8 people  on my departure. This was the best trip of my life. The vessel was not fancy, but the company I sailed with was fantastic. Excellent captain, sailors and an amazing naturalist and the food was incredible!! This was the best trip I have ever taken and I have travelled to a lot of destinations. 

 

 

As a fellow travel agent, I feel I must post to correct some of your inaccurate information. 100 passengers is the limit for any ship sailing in the Galapagos and Celebrity is not the only company that has ships of this size. In fact Flora was just launched, and Silversea will add a new large vessel next year. They all conform in size to the laws of the Galapagos National Park. As someone who has sailed on Xpedition, I can confirm that all passengers were indeed allowed to disembark at the same time. We anchored very close to shore in most instances (certainly as close as all of the other small yachts) and had very short zodiac rides to shore. The naturalists on the larger ships are required to undergo additional training, and the excursions were varied each day to fit interests and fitness levels. We had at least 2 stops daily and a minimum of 5 to six experiences from which to choose. We found absolutely no shortcomings whatsoever and loved it so much, we have rebooked. 

 

Edited by sippican
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I think many are enthralled with the concept of being on a small yacht exploring the islands...it sounds so impressive and romantic. Reality is that the waters in the Galapagos can be very choppy to even a bit rough at times....for some reason not mentioned when you are booking that small ship cruise.  A small ship doesn't have the same amenities...return to your air conditioned ship, choice of liquors, choice of meals and so on. Are you a vegetarian, don't like fish, etc....maybe a bit more of a choice for dinner is a good option. Can your small ship handle folks who want to do different things...or have different physical capabilities because no one is allowed on shore without a naturalist (who by law can only have  a max of 15 people with them)....how many naturalists are on that small ship? As Sippican said, the Xpedition was always close to shore...the galapagos are volcanic islands and the waters around the islands are not shallow....The zodiac rides were always quite short (except in Baltra and San Cristobal).    I could go on...

 

To put this in perspective, we prefer private tours...on land or on a cruise.  I was very apprehensive about taking a larger ship in the Galapagos...the small ship adventure sounded so good....but then my DW suggested that if I wanted her to join me, it would be on a larger ship. It turned out to be the best cruise of my life....the small ship/naturalist guide shore excursion experience with the comforts of a larger ship.

 

 

Edited by ghstudio
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10 hours ago, sippican said:

 

As a fellow travel agent, I feel I must post to correct some of your inaccurate information. 100 passengers is the limit for any ship sailing in the Galapagos and Celebrity is not the only company that has ships of this size. In fact Flora was just launched, and Silversea will add a new large vessel next year. They all conform in size to the laws of the Galapagos National Park. As someone who has sailed on Xpedition, I can confirm that all passengers were indeed allowed to disembark at the same time. We anchored very close to shore in most instances (certainly as close as all of the other small yachts) and had very short zodiac rides to shore. The naturalists on the larger ships are required to undergo additional training, and the excursions were varied each day to fit interests and fitness levels. We had at least 2 stops daily and a minimum of 5 to six experiences from which to choose. We found absolutely no shortcomings whatsoever and loved it so much, we have rebooked. 

 

 

Fair enough, I stand corrected. I left the travel industry 5 yrs ago so obviously things have changed. When I was there I was told of the regulations and I can’t remember the max number of people allowed on an island at a time, but I think it was 50. 

There was also a movement at that time to ban large ships. I took part in a study that was being done regarding protecting the Galapagos when I was there, so this is where I got some of my info as well. 

None the less, there obviously needs to be options for everyone. We weren’t allowed to sell large ships at my agency so excuse my ignorance. And when I was in the Galapagos I was only taken to other small luxury vessels for inspection. 

 There are certainly some not great small ships (budget ones, which I would avoid!!) but I sold luxury travel so we only worked with a select few vessels that had the bells and whistles. my yacht was going in for a full refurb after I travelled, so it had a more rustic homey feel before it was flipped to a super modern fancy yacht. Lol. all the vessels we used had to have at least one naturalist for every 16 people, but if we chartered a yacht we would request an extra naturalist. So one for 8ppl  

my group was only 8 so it was very personalized. Every night at dinner our naturalist would review the day and then the plan for the next and would tailor to the group which ranged in age from 35 - 75 and all fitness levels and some with mobility issues. Nobody was put out or left behind.  

The small luxury vessels I worked with did have the bells and whistles. Even my rustic yacht had AC and we had a great bar and I was vegetarian at the time and had an amazing veg meal everyday. I’m sure now, half the yachts I sold probably have wifi and whatever else. Hopefully one day I will make it back! At the end of the day, each to there own. I love cruising so I can go off the grid.  Even on an ocean cruise I check out , but that’s me 🙂 

thanks everyone for your insight! 

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A poster on the Tripadvisor Galapagos forum claims that Celebrity circumvented the law by purchasing a local company, Ocean Adventures (owner/operator of the renamed Xperience and Xploration), and attempting to convert those licenses to a Celebrity-owned ship, the Xpedition. The poster claims this is expressly against Ecuadorian law.

At one point I recall reading that Xpedition needed to be transfered back to Ocean Adventures, so perhaps there is some truth to this. 

Seems like a moot point since they are both owned by parent company Royal Caribbean. Now with Silversea entering the mix it will be interesting.

Edited by sippican
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