Our travels designers Lore and Loretta recently travelled with Celebrity Flora on a 5-day cruise to Quito Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The islands are one of the world’s most foremost destinations for wildlife viewing! Charles Darwin himself visited in 1835 and his observation of Galapagos species later inspired his theory of evolution. We sat down with Lore and Loretta and asked them all about their trip! Here is what they had to say:
Bacha Beach in Galapagos Islands
On board Celebrity Flora
Highlights of the Trip
The highlight for sure would be standing in the middle of the Earth. North of the city in Quito there is a monument for the Centre of the World. At this monument, you can sand at 0 degrees, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds! This is just something very different and completely memorable. Being able to stand on both hemispheres at once is something we will never forget!
Loretta: I also learned that due to the location the sun rises at 6 am and sets 12 hours later all 365 days of the year!
Celebrity Cruises has been working on giving back for years. As of our trip, they had planted over 41000 new trees which takes the place of an invasive blackberry plant. We were part of that as well. But beyond nature, Celebrity has also given back to the communities by helping to build a soccer pitch for the locals.
Lore: Aboard the Celebrity ship I noticed that all the cuisine was inspired by the Ecuadorian culture. Everything was sourced from Ecuador including fresh fruit and vegetables as well as fish and meat! Even the furniture on the ship was created by Ecuadorians in Ecuador.
What was it like getting onto the ship?
Embarkation is easy. A 10 minute ride from the Baltra airport gets you to the pier, you get off load your bus, and take a zodiac to the ship. Each zodiac takes about 10-12 passengers the Flora has about 6 of these zodiacs so they fill up a zodiac and head to the ship and fill up another etc. etc. Getting on and off the Zodiacs is a breeze as they are state of the art and actually have a hydraulic lift at the front along with stairs and a hand rail for more stability.
What was the design like onboard?
Cabins are modern, with plenty of wood and stone accents. The colors are browns, grey and yellows, all modern décor. Pictures in the hallway are all nature shots of scenery or animals of the Galapagos. The designer of the ship is a well known Ecuadorian designer, Andrea Hoyos and she also designed the airport VIP lounge in Quito too. Her husband also designs the furniture used onboard. The furniture was made in Ecuador by Ecuadorians. WIFI in your cabin and on the ship was quick and really good for that part of the world. The cabins all face out so that the scenery is the prime focus.
What was the cuisine like?
The cuisine onboard is all sourced from Ecuador, the fruit and vegetables along with fish and meat. Interesting is that any meat MUST be slightly cooked and then packaged before entering the Galapagos this is to prevent any contamination of the islands. Plenty of fresh fish and ceviche always available. Fruits readily available are strawberries, bananas, melons apples.
What was the On-Deck Experience like?
The main dining room elegant and feels more residential with display cases and artwork.
The ship has a hot tub and a small plunge pool. They can do dinner out on deck under the stars as well. Something unique is they have star gazing located forward on the ship where experts tell you the different stars and constellations they see, they use a laser beam to point them out in the dark sky.
Everything on the ship is a “green” as possible, no plastics onboard, no straws, no single-serve plastics, the ship is quiet and uses less energy as well. Each cabin is equipped with a water filtrations system so you use your refillable water bottle to get fresh cold water –no plastic water bottles to waste.
What Excursions did you do?
We visited Santa Cruz island and Espanola island. Both islands are visited by the zodiacs, Santa Cruz has a pier while Espanola you do a wet or dry landing. The ship’s zodiacs have a hydraulic lift at the front raising or lowering a platform making it much easier for getting on and off the ship. t’s a real game-changer for any passenger who might not easily swing your legs off the zodiac to get off.
All excursions require walking. So you need good walking shoes and the paths you follow vary from sandy beaches to dirt to loose rocks. Some islands have sea lions, others have birds, some have Galapagos iguanas, and the tortoises too.
Top Tips and Takeaways
Quito’s new airport is only about 3-4 years old. We stayed at the EB Hotel which is about 45 minutes out of town, but only ten minutes from the airport. Taxis do not take credit cards for the most part so essential to have US Cash as the country is on the US Dollar. Uber is new not really recommended for safety.
JW Marriott hotel built in the ’90s but all the rooms have been redone. This hotel is in the city and has more of a resort feel. You cannot easily walk out of the hotel and explore have a car take you around if possible. Quito is very hilly to walk around and extremely crowded.
– Lore and Loretta