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Cruise Ship Information

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MS Xpedition is a cruise ship for Celebrity Cruises and the sole ship of the Xpedition class[citation needed]. The ship is an alternative to the line's larger ships, offering more personal attention afforded by its smaller size. With the ship's limited capacity of 96 passengers and an active itinerary, it is marketed to a younger and a better educated demographic than the average cruise ship passenger.

The ship currently sails to the Galápagos Islands, revisiting the ports of Charles Darwin. The ship's shallow draft allows it to access ports in the region that larger cruise ships cannot visit.

Atmosphere on board 

Designed not just for travel, but for exploration, this 98-guest mega-yacht sails to the Galapagos Islands, one of the world's last pristine environments, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our knowledgeable crew, environmentally sound ship design, and Galapagos National Park-certified onboard naturalists all help to preserve this delicate archipelago, while enlightening you to its natural and evolutionary significance. It's a journey like no other.

Family with Kids/Teens

A large Latin American family group -- complete with a handful of children under the age of 6 and even two newborn babies -- joined the inaugural cruise and the crew were charming with the children, doing everything they could to help the parents safely transfer their youngsters and associated paraphernalia ashore. However, it has to be said that this is not really a cruise suitable for young children.

Past Passenger Programs

The Program: Captain's Club, a three-tiered system

Perks: "Classic" members (those who have earned one to four credits for cruising with Celebrity) get perks including access to the loyalty desk and loyalty host, a premium onboard discount booklet, a one-category upgrade (when available), pre-sailing dining reservations at alternative eateries on applicable vessels, and little freebies like wine tasting and golf clinics. "Select" cruisers (five to nine credits) receive all of the above as well as a complimentary wine seminar, priority status to shore excursion waitlist, an invitation to the senior officers' cocktail party, 25 percent off any Internet package, complimentary pressing of two clothing items, and discounted laundry on cruises of 12 nights or more.

Added perks for "Elite" members (10 or more credits) include a private shipboard departure lounge with continental breakfast, priority tender service, priority waitlist for dining room seating, elegant tea service, complimentary use of Thalassotherapy pool use on Celebrity Mercury, complimentary access to the Persian Garden (port days only), access to the new Captain's Club Lounge at Michael's Club (certain hours of the day), 90 free Internet minutes, one free item of dry cleaning, a complimentary bag of laundry (wash, dry and fold), discounted laundry on cruises of 12 nights or more, and the ability to join Royal Caribbean's Crown and Anchor Society at the Diamond level.

All members get the traditional invite to the captain's cocktail party, newsletter and chance to cruise on reunion voyages.

Incentive to Belong: As Celebrity's ships get larger, preferential boarding and disembarkation is a nice benefit. Also, because the tier system is based on credits -- not just the number of cruises taken -- there are ways to move up the ranks faster. For example, you'll earn an extra credit for booking a Concierge-level stateroom or higher, or for sailing for 12 nights or more, for a possible total of three credits for one voyage.

Members-Only Deals: Captain's Club members are offered several special discounted sailings per year, some of which can be a good deal compared to retail rates, especially if it also includes an onboard credit or discount certificate. Compare prices to verify the savings.

For More Info: Visit the Captain's Club section on Celebrity's Web site or call

Fitness And Spa

On the top deck (Deck 6), there is a comfortable sunbathing area with cushioned sunbeds, showers, toilets and a whirlpool hot tub. There is also a small indoor gym with large windows overlooking the deck. It contains steppers, stationary cycles, weights and a massage table. There is a separate (mixed sex) sauna area with shower.

There is a small beauty parlor adjacent to the ship's shop on deck four (not open on the inaugural cruise as the beauty therapist had not yet arrived).

Food & Dining

The ship's main Darwin Dining Room on Deck 3 is long and fairly narrow with large six-to-eight-seat tables, semi-couchette seating and crisp cream and navy decor. Buffets are offered at breakfast (when eggs and omelettes can be cooked to order), offering everything from muesli for the health conscious to light-as-air croissants for the hedonistic. Lunchtime fare includes a range of salads, freshly baked bread, roast chicken and excellent grilled fish.

In the evening, traditional Celebrity five-course dinners are served, though on the inaugural cruise, problems with supplies and the quality of available meat made standards variable. As a result, tasty cream soups, crisp salads and delicious asparagus risottos made some mealtimes a treat; others were marred by tough, inferior cuts of beef from local suppliers -- prompting Celebrity to arrange shipments of meat products from the U.S. on future sailings.

On this style of cruise, though, formal dining is something of an irrelevance; with two tours offered a day and so much to do and see ashore a simpler, shorter evening meal, or an alternative deck barbecue, may prove to be a better option.

The last-night barbecue served on Decks 4 and 5 was beautifully served and proved very popular; tables were prettily set with snowy tablecloths and fine china; there was a good selection of salads, baked potatoes and barbecued ribs, chops, fish and chicken pieces; the wine service was prompt and attentive and -- best of all -- we got to dine beneath the starry Galapagos sky.

The Beagle Grill, an alternative eatery, is open daily for burger and hot dog lunches, with freshly cooked pizza and crisp salads; a decent spread of puddings is available at the Darwin buffet one deck down.

In the early evening, fresh fruit and cold juices are served to guests returning from afternoon trips ashore, and savory nibbles are provided in the Discovery Lounge and the outdoor bar on Deck 5, but some guests -- ravenous after snorkeling excursions -- remarked that they'd like to see more substantial snacks available at this time.

Room service is prompt and reliable. In theory you can have dishes from the main restaurant delivered to your cabin in the evenings, but we found a simple toasted sandwich with a side order of crisp fresh fries fit the bill perfectly well and freed up the evening for relaxation.

And staff were very obliging about bringing a staggered order of fresh-baked cookies and ice cream with coffee half an hour after the main course!

Entertainment

Select films are available on in-cabin televisions, and there is a decent supply of books and board games for passenger use.

Apart from daytime lectures on wildlife, early-evening tour briefings and the last-night folklorique show, formal entertainment was minimal, most guests being happy enough to enjoy a few drinks and dinner, then head off for an early night in preparation for the next day's tours.

Staterooms

Celebrity Xpedition features a variety of cabin categories to suit any passenger's needs, from tiny insides to lavish 1,500-square-foot suites, and 60 percent of all accommodations feature verandahs.

Xpedition standard cabins -- insides, outsides and balconies (called "Deluxe Oceanview") -- average a paltry 170 square feet (38-square-foot balconies), about 15 to 20 feet below the industry average.

Decor features hotel-style white bedding with light brown accents, rust carpeting and striking red love seats thrown in for a shock of color, all of which replaced the flamboyant turquoise-and-yellow Caribbean decor of the old abodes. (For a before and after, check out part three of our refurb slideshow.)

Insides, outsides and balconies feature two twin beds that convert to queens, safes, small desks, stocked mini-fridges, flat-screen TV's and bathrobes. The mini-fridges are locked; have your room steward open yours and clear out the for-fee booze if you want to store your wine or water. Shower-only bathrooms have hair dryers, shampoo, moisturizer and bar soap. There is no shower gel.

Drawers might be some issue for because they were a little stressed for space -- especially with having to pack for a 12-night cruise. There are drawers hidden in a secondary closet in each room, which also houses the safe. There's another drawer above the flat-screen TV, which is also where extra bedding is stored.

For those looking for a little more space and a few more amenities, the ConciergeClass cabins are 191 square feet with 42-square-foot-balconies. Added touches for concierge passengers include welcome bubbly, a pillow menu, nightly canapes, a 32-inch TV and nicer balcony furniture. In 2012, Celebrity expanded the ConciergeClass services to include an exclusive pre-departure lounge with free coffee and juices. Sky Suites come in at 251 square feet with 57-square-foot balconies.

Continuing up in size, Family Oceanview cabins are 271 square feet with enormous 242-square-foot verandahs that feature pairs of loungers and tables with two chairs each. Inside, there's a partition separating the "master bedroom" from the lounge/extra bed area.

Eight 467-square-foot Celebrity Suites feature lovely floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows (but no balconies), a jetted tub and a pair of entertainment centers. The eight 538-square-foot Royal Suites (195-square-foot balconies) add more space and feature whirlpool tubs on the verandahs. On the top of the list are a pair of 1,432-square-foot Penthouse Suites with massive, 1,098-square-foot balconies. These suites also feature a baby grand piano, should you wish for a private concert or to tinkle the ivories on your own.

All suite passengers enjoy the service of a butler, who can help pack and unpack, set up in-cabin meals and help make onboard arrangements. Other suite extras include complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant (one dinner for cruises of seven nights or less, two for cruises of eight nights or more); priority check-in; in-suite breakfast, lunch and dinner; complimentary espresso and evening hors d'oeuvres.

There are 26 wheelchair-accessible cabins, including insides, oceanviews, balconies, concierge class cabins and Sky Suites.

Tipping

Celebrity suggests a per-person per-day gratuity of $3.50 for the waiter, butler (Suites only) and stateroom attendant; $4.00 for Concierge Class stateroom attendant; $2.00 for the Assistant Waiter; and $.75 for the Assistant Maitre d' and the Assistant Chief Housekeeper.

All guests are given a form to sign if they wish to have these gratuities charged to their shipboard account. Children under 12 who are the third or fourth person in the stateroom pay only half these amounts. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion. Note: Passengers who choose "Celebrity Select Dining" before their cruises are required to prepay gratuities (prior to boarding).

Alternatives: If you wish to adjust the amount you pay, this can be done onboard at guest relations.

Extra Charges: An automatic 15 percent gratuity is added to all bar bills.

Fellow Passengers

Apart from a couple of Canadian ex-pats, we were the only Britons on the inaugural cruise and, apart from the Latino family group the vast majority of our fellow passengers were cheerful, eco-oriented, middle-class Americans.

Our recommendation

The stylish ships of Celebrity Cruises feature high-end decor, modern technology, excellent enrichment programs, superior dining options and outstanding spas.

Celebrity Cruises is best for: Adult couples, cruise line also attract families with teen-agers, family reunions, multi-generational; Young adults looking for soft adventure and sports activities; Boomers looking for a cruise with lots of enrichment at sea; Spa lovers and Travelers who want a taste of luxury at a premium cruise price.