CELEBRITY CRUISES

Stellar Spas: Beautiful to look at and well stocked, the spas and gyms on this line are among the best at sea, and some have their own spa cafe.

Good Food: Celebrity’s cuisine is rated high among mainstream cruise lines, and its menus have long recognized the need for vegetarian, low-sodium, heart-conscious, and other healthy dishes. Impressive Art Collections: Celebrity’s ships were among the first in the industry to display major art collections on board.

Contemporary Design: Their design choices feel more like a boutique hotel than a mainstream cruise ship reading nooks filled with chic wicker egg chairs, and curtained day beds on the pool deck. In an industry where design tends to lag behind what’s on land, Celebrity’s newest ships feel current.

Cons Occasional Crowding: Pack a couple thousand people onto a ship (pretty much any ship), and You’ll get crowds at times, such as during buffets and when disembarking.

So-So Kids’ Programs: While Celebrity ships offer activities for children, kids’ facilities and programs are less elaborate and enticing than those found on more family-focused lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney.

Overview

With a premium fleet that’s among the best designed in the cruise industry, Celebrity Cruises offers a great experience: classy, tasteful, and luxurious. You’ll be taken care of at a relatively reasonable price.

EXPERIENCE

The Celebrity ships are spacious and comfortable, mixing contemporary and Art Deco styles and boasting an astounding art collection. The line’s polished service is noticeable: Staff members are polite and professional and contribute greatly to the cruise experience. Dining-wise, Celebrity offers innovative cuisine that’s a cut above the fare served by some of the other mainstream lines like sister line Royal Caribbean.

Celebrity gets the best of nod in a lot of categories: The AquaSpa by Elemis on the line’s megaships is tops for mainstream lines, the art collections fleet-wide are the most compelling, and the onboard activities are among the most varied. Like all the big-ship lines, Celebrity has lots for its guests to do, but it focuses on mellower pursuits and innovative programming.

ROUTES

Celebrity sails a lot of Caribbean cruises, as well as the Bahamas, Bermuda, and trans-Panama Canal sailings. The line also has a strong presence in Alaska, but does more exotic routes as well, including the Galapagos, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

PASSENGERS

The typical Celebrity guest is one who prefers to pursue his or her R&R with a minimum of aggressively promoted group activities. Passengers are the type who prefer wine with dinner and maybe a tad more decorum than on some other ships, but they can kick up their heels with the beer-and-pretzels crowd just fine if the occasion warrants. Most give the impression of being prosperous but not obscenely rich, congenial but not obsessively proper, animated but not the type to wear a lampshade for a hat. You’ll find everyone from kids to retirees, with a good number of couples in their 40s and 50s.

DINING

Celebrity’s cuisine, plentiful and served with style, leans toward American/European. This means that dishes are generally not low-fat, although the line has eliminated trans fats and in 2013 brought in healthy-eating organization SPE Certified to consult on and certify dozens of dishes in Celebrity’s main restaurants. The company’s dining program is under the leadership of John Suley, a highly talented and experienced chef who was nominated as a rising star by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

Celebrity also has one of the most extensive 24-hour room-service menus in the industry, plus themed lunch buffets and one to two (depending on itinerary length) special brunches. Meals in the alternative dining rooms, generally are worth the extra charges of up to $45 per person.

You can dine formally in the dining room or informally at buffets for breakfast and lunch, with a sushi bar and made-to-order pastas and pizzas served nightly in the Oceanview Cafe. Dinner is served at two seatings in the main dining room. A few years ago, the line also introduced the option of open seating in the dining room; you choose either traditional (i.e. assigned) or open seating Celebrity Select Dining before your cruise. The AquaSpa Cafe, in a corner of the Solarium pool area, serves low-cal treats, including fresh mango with mint, chicken salad made with Greek yogurt instead of mayo, and pretty salads topped with tuna or chicken.

ACTIVITIES

The line offers a laundry list of activities through its all-encompassing enrichment program A typical day might involve a Rosetta Stone language course, bridge, a culinary demonstration, a chef’s cookoff, wine tastings in partnership with the renowned Riedel Crystal company, an art auction, and a volleyball tournament. Celebrity iLounge, the brand’s chic version of the Internet cafe, allows e-mail access for 750 a minute, with discount packages available. The line was among the first to offer acupuncture at sea.

CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS

For children, Celebrity ships employ a group of counselors who direct and supervise a camp-style children’s program with activities geared toward different age groups. Though not as elaborate as the kids’ facilities on the ships of some other mainstream lines, Celebrity’s ships offer kids’ play areas and a separate lounge area for teens that, among other things, now feature Xbox-themed spaces for organized Xbox-related activities and games. Private and group babysitting are both available.

ENTERTAINMENT

Although entertainment is not generally cited as a reason to sail with Celebrity, the line’s stage shows are solid. You won’t find any big-name entertainers, but you also won’t find any obvious has-beens either there’s just a whole lot of singin’ and dancin’, from an Elton John tribute that’s straight out of Las Vegas on one night to a pretty solid comedian the next. Of course, you can always find a cozy lounge or piano bar to curl up in, and the line is home to the Molecular Bar, which was the first at-sea cocktail lounge to use liquid nitrogen in drinks, as well as a serve-yourself wine bar with plenty of taps. If you’re up late, the disco and casino are, too.

SERVICE

In the cabins, service is efficient and so unobtrusive that you might never see your steward except at the beginning and end of your cruise. In the dining room, as throughout the ship, service is polite, professional, and cheerful.

Laundry, dry cleaning, and valet services are available on all boats.

If you stay in a suite, you really will be treated like royalty, with a tuxedo-clad butler at your beck and call. The butler will serve you afternoon tea (or complimentary cappuccino or espresso) and bring pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres. The butler will shine your shoes, too, on request. Also available for those who can’t quite afford a suite are Concierge Class rooms that come with such perks as fresh flowers and fruit, a choice of pillow types, and oversize towels.

Gratuities of $13.50 per passenger per day are automatically charged to your shipboard account ($14 per person per day for those in Concierge Class and AquaClass cabins and $17 per person, per day for suites), but you can increase or decrease the amount by visiting the guest relations desk on

FLEET

Celebrity has 11 ships, which range in size from 2,170 to 2,850 passengers. Five of them are part of the impressive Solstice class, which established the ship as a chic, design-focused line with a boutique hotel style. Celebrity’s ships have an elegant combination of artfulness, excitement, and fun, without ever becoming tacky. The fleet includes one expedition-style ship, Celebrity Xpedition, which sails nature cruises in the Galapagos Islands all year long.

Celebrity Solstice – Celebrity Equinox – Celebrity Eclipse – Celebrity Silhouette – Celebrity Reflection

The most beautiful megaships at sea today, Celebrity’s five Solstice-class sisters manage to simultaneously encapsulate all that was great about Celebrity’s older vessels while also moving logically and stylistically into the future.

THE SHIPS IN GENERAL

Since introducing its very first new build in 1990, Celebrity has consistently had the most stylish megaships in the cruise biz. The line’s Solstice-class ships are no exception: They’re absolute knockouts. On the outside, their massive forms have a sexy sleekness, while inside a unifying aesthetic neo-Deco lines, top quality art, and rich, quality textures and surface materials ties the many moods and experiences of their public rooms into a satisfying whole. In the atrium, translucent backlit onyx panels and white drapes recall similar materials used in the Millennium atriums, while the dreamy white interiors of each ship’s main restaurant and observation lounge evoke both the past and the future hinting at elements of the Century class while taking a stylistic swipe at both 2001: A Space Odyssey and 1930s Hollywood movies. Balancing all the big wow elements are a wealth of subtle details, evident in everything from the ship’s art collection a world-class assemblage of minimalist, and nature-evoking pieces from big names and emerging talents to its cabins, which could win awards for innovation.

Cabins When was the last time you got to your cabin, looked around, and thought, Huh, why haven’t other ships done that before? To break the mold, Celebrity broke the mold, moving away from the rectangular cabins you’ll find on other lines. On these boats one wall of each cabin bulges slightly, interlocking with the cabin next door in a sort of squared-off yin-yang format. That simple change gives passengers far more sense of space and, as importantly, more maneuvering room around the foot of the bed (Solstice’s and Equinox’s cabins about 15% larger than those on its older ships).

Standard inside (183-200 sq. ft.) and outside (176-192 sq. ft.) cabins have an open and airy feeling, an ergonomic design, and a modern, modular look. Beds have rounded corners (no more banged ankles!) and are higher than normal to give more storage space underneath. At the wall, the beds are flanked by a tall headboard topped with a narrow, completely unobtrusive storage unit perfect for handbags, shopping bags, and other small items. Some couches offer trundle beds for kids and other additional guests, while closet doors slide shut automatically which isn’t so unusual on land, but is a hard thing to accomplish on a moving ship. All cabins have flatscreen TVs, sitting areas with sofas, minifridges, and hair dryers. Outside, cabin balconies are large and deep, with plenty of room for two reclining deck chairs and a table.

Cabin bathrooms and showers are substantially larger and roomier than aboard most other megaships; and those showers are equipped with an ingenious foot rail that makes it easier for women to shave their legs. Bathrooms also come with a handy dandy collection of small drawers, nooks, and cabinets for storing toiletries and other necessities.

In addition to the usual range of inside, outside, balcony cabins, and suites (300-1,291 sq. ft.), Solstice and Equinox both have 130 adults-only AquaClass staterooms, where the cabin experience is tied to an overall wellness aesthetic. Grouped together on the Penthouse Deck, each AquaClass cabin has niceties such as large balconies, pillow menus, jetted body-wash showers, and special music/sound and aromatherapy options tied to specific vacation goals (relaxation, invigoration, and so on). AquaClass guests also get special perks around the ship, including unlimited access to the spa’s Persian Garden aromatherapy steam room and relaxation room, special wellness classes and invitations to VIP events, and the option of dining at a 130-seat specialty restaurant called Blu (see below).

Each ship has 30 wheelchair-accessible staterooms, spread among the different types of accommodations onboard, from inside cabins to sky suites.

Public areas & activities The Solstice-class ships have one of the most logical arrangements of public rooms we’ve seen in a decade and a half of reviewing ships. Most are clustered on the Entertainment and Promenade decks, and rooms were consciously grouped so that different types are in different areas of the ship, cutting down on unnecessary congestion in the corridors. Evening entertainment outlets, for instance (the Equinox Theatre and the several venues of the Entertainment Court), are all located forward and linked directly to the Sky Observation Lounge by elevator. Pre-and post-dinner entertainment (the Ensemble Lounge for pre-dinner cocktails and after-dinner jazz; Michael’s Club (for more intimate piano music and libations) is located immediately adjacent to the ships’ specialty restaurants.

The 1,115-guest main theater is particularly innovative, its complex ceiling rigging allowing aerialist entertainers to fly right over audience members’ heads. Down the corridor, Celebrity Central is a 200-seat, multifunction venue that presents late-night comedy shows, films, and other performances and events. Across the hall, the Quasar nightclub has a streamlined, space-age look, with clear plastic bubble chairs suspended from the ceiling and huge LED screens curving from the walls into the ceiling, their lights synched with the music’s beat. Between these venues, an Entertainment Court is the venue for vocal quartets and other small-scale entertainment designed to keep passengers’ interest as they move between other nightlife options. Other diversions on these decks include Cellar Masters, a Napa-inspired space for formal wine tastings and informal sipping; the Martini Bar with its purposefully frosted bar (it’s very cool looking, especially with all of the

Blue decor); and Crush, a tasting room where guests sit around an ice-filled table to sample pairings of vodka and caviar.

But the Solstice-class ships’ most distinctive and innovative features are out on deck most visibly way up on the top deck, where the Lawn Club has a half-acre of real grass growing 15 decks above the sea. A first for cruise ships, the area has a country-club ambience: refined and calming. On the central lawn, passengers can play croquet or putt some golf balls around, either in individual play or during scheduled tournaments. The two grassy courts along the sides of the ship have space for bocce and other lawn games. Passengers can also picnic on the main lawn, relax at the shaded patio at its aft end (dotted with potted greenery and comfortable lounge chairs and couches), or grab a drink at the aft-facing Sunset Bar, with its views of the ship’s wake.

At the forward end of the Lawn Club is another of the Solstice-class signature features: the Hot Glass Show. Developed by the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass, it provides daily (and surprisingly high-energy) programs in which master artisans explain and demonstrate the art of glass-blowing. Presented in an open-air studio designed specifically for these ships, the shows give the audience a sort of glassmaking 101 experience, taking them through the process of creating a piece from start to finish from an undifferentiated blob of glass to bowls, vases, and more complex forms like glass conch shells.

For kids, there’s a large, light-filled, multiroom children’s center near the very top of the ship, on the same deck as the Lawn Club. A teen center is adjacent, along with a video arcade.

Dining Celebrity diversified its dining program on the Solstice class ships, a first for the line. On these vessels, you’ll find a grand main restaurant, a buffet, three casual eateries, and four specialty restaurants, some with extra charges (the latter are clustered aft on the Entertainment Deck, opening off the Ensemble Lounge). The Tuscan Grille ($45 per person; $89 per person with wine pairings) is a high-style spot in the ship’s stern, with a menu heavy on steaks and pastas. Murano ($50 per person) blends classic and modern Continental cuisine in an elegant, romantic setting inspired by Venice’s famous Murano glassmakers. Blu (included) is reserved exclusively for passengers booked into the AquaClass staterooms (plus suite guests based on availability). It serves a menu of clean cuisine dishes that focus on a few simple ingredients, cutting down on calorie-heavy sauces. Aboard Solstice and Equinox, Silk Harvest ($35 per person) offers a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese selections, complemented by a variety of sakes, Asian-influenced martinis, and cocktails created with ginger root and acai berries. Reflection, Silhouette, and Eclipse have the high-style Qsine ($45 per person) which presents menus on iPads and feature a variety of international cuisines served on uncommon china (no plates or bowls here). Many dishes are designed to be shared, making this a great venue to come to as a group.

Several other eateries are scattered around each ship. Forward of the Ensemble Lounge, the centrally located Bistro on Five is a casual, chic restaurant with a menu of specialty crepes, sandwiches, soups, salads, and entrees including quiche, fish and chips, baked ziti, and chicken pot pie. Right across the corridor, Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria is an upscale coffeehouse for specialty coffees, teas, fresh-baked pastries, traditional gelatos and Italian ices, and other desserts. In the Solarium, the AquaSpa Cafe has, you guessed it, spa cuisine: salads, lean meats, seafood, and fresh fruit smoothies.

Pool, fitness, spa & sports facilities The Solstice-class Pool Deck is one of the most serene in the

Cruise biz, owing to the decision to place the ship’s buffet restaurant and grill on a separate deck, one level up. That decision automatically changed the pool deck from a busy, multipurpose space into one whose sole purpose is resortlike relaxation. Surrounding two pools (one for sports, one for families) and four hot tubs are 12 white, 25-foot, A-frame canopies supporting cantilevered awnings and providing shade for chaise lounges on both the Resort Deck (the ships’ pool deck) and the Lido Deck above. A dancing fountain occupies a central position at the aft of the pool area, ringed with deck chairs. Forward of the pools, the glass-ceilinged Solarium is a peaceful enclave for adults only, with a lap pool, cushioned teak lounge chairs, views all around, and the AquaSpa Cafe.

The AquaSpa itself is done up in a restful white and Aegean blue, its colonnade and domed rotunda reception area designed as a contemporary interpretation of the architecture found on the Greek Isles (think whitewashed buildings topped with brilliant blue domes). Besides massages and facials, the treatment menu includes acupuncture, Botox wrinkle treatments, teeth whitening, and cosmetic dermal fillers to smooth smile lines. The Persian Garden is a steam room in the old style (really old, think Ottoman Empire). It’s complimentary for guests booked into AquaSpa staterooms and suites; everybody else has to pay. The ships’ gyms are large and extremely well equipped.

Time was, these ships were it: bigger than the line’s first generation of megaships (the Century class), with larger spas and theaters, more veranda cabins, more dining options, more shopping, more lounges, and more sports and exercise facilities plus more of the same great service, cuisine, and high-style onboard art. Then Celebrity Solstice happened, and the bar got a lot higher but don’t count these ships out yet: Each has received multimillion-dollar refurbishments designed to add some of the most attractive features of the Solstice class. Each ship now has the new Tuscan Grille steakhouse restaurant, a new Bistro on Five casual creperie and comfort food eatery, a new Martini Bar with permafrost bar top, a new vodka-and-caviar tasting bar, and a new Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria, replacing the Millennium ships’ Cova Cafe. Additionally, staterooms and public areas have been slowly restyled to reflect the Solstice class’s more sleek lines and understated color palate.

Cabins Standard inside (170 sq. ft.) and outside (170-191 sq. ft.) cabins are roomy and come with a small sitting area, stocked minifridge, TV safe, ample storage space, cotton robes, a hair dryer, and shower-mounted shampoo dispensers. Only thing missing? Individual reading lights above the beds, though there are table lamps on the nightstands.

Premium and Deluxe staterooms have slightly larger sitting areas and approximately 40-square-foot verandas. The 12 Family Ocean View staterooms in the stern on Panorama, Sky, and Vista decks measure in at a very large 271 square feet and have two entertainment centers with TVs/VCRs, a partitioned sitting area with two convertible sofa beds, and very, very, very large 242-square-foot verandas facing the ship’s wake.

Passengers booking the Concierge Class staterooms on Sky Deck get a bunch of cushy extras, from a bottle of champagne on arrival to a choice of pillows, upgraded bedding, oversize towels, doublethick Frette bathrobes, priority for just about everything (dining, shore excursions, luggage delivery, embarkation, and debarkation), and high-powered binoculars on their 41-square-foot balconies. Unfortunately, many of those balconies (as well as those attached to several Deluxe Ocean View cabins at Sky Deck midships) catch shadow from the overhanging deck above. Tip: Several Concierge Class cabins on the Sky Deck (9038 and 9043) and Panorama Deck (8045 and 8046) have extra-large verandas at no extra cost; try to book those.

Suites provide 24-hour butler service and come in four levels, from the 251-square-foot Sky Suites with balconies to the eight 467-square-foot Celebrity Suites (with a dining area, separate bedroom, two TV/VCR combos, and a whirlpool bathtub, but no verandas) and the 538-square-foot Royal Suites (also with a separate living/dining room, two TV/VCR combos, a standing shower and whirlpool bathtub, and a huge 195-sq.-ft. veranda with whirlpool tub). At the top of the food chain, the massive Penthouse Suites measure 1,432 square feet and have herringbone wood floors, a marble foyer, a computer station, a Yamaha piano, and a simply amazing bathroom with ocean views and a full-size hot tub. And did we mention a 1,098-square-foot veranda that wraps around the stern of the ship and features a whirlpool tub and full bar?

Passengers requiring use of a wheelchair have a choice of 26 cabins in several categories, from Sky Suites to balcony cabins to inside staterooms.

Public areas & activities There’s simply nothing else at sea like the Grand Foyer atrium, the stunning hub of all four ships. Each rectangular, three-deck area features a translucent, inner-illuminated onyx staircase that glows beneath your feet, plus giant silk flower arrangements and topiaries, oceanview elevators, and an attractive Internet center.

In each ship’s bow is an elegant three-deck theater with a warm glow provided by faux torches spaced all around. Seating on all three levels is unobstructed except in the far reaches of the balconies. You’ll also find elegant martini, champagne, and caviar bars, as well as brighter, busier lounges for live music. For the real dancing, head up to the stunning observation lounge/disco on the Sunrise Deck. Other rooms include a two-deck library; a large casino; an oceanview florist/conservatory (filled mostly with silk flowers and trees, some of which are for sale); and the huge, high-tech conference center and cinema. Celebrity’s signature Michael’s Club is a quiet, dignified piano bar replete with a fake fireplace and comfy leather club chairs, which is now an exclusive venue set aside for guests booking top-of-the-line suites. Good for suite guests, but bad news for the rest of us.

The ships’ Emporium Shops have a nice variety of high-end name brands as well as cheap souvenirs.

For kids, the Fun Factory has both indoor and outdoor soft-surface jungle gyms, a wading pool, a ball bin, a computer room, a movie room, an arts-and-crafts area, a video arcade, a teen center, and more. There is no dedicated lounge for teens, though the youth staff does program teen activities at different venues onboard.

Dining The main dining rooms are beautiful two-level spaces with huge stern-facing windows, oversize round windows to port and starboard, and a dramatic central double staircase. Summit ‘s dining room boasts a 7-foot Art Deco bronze of the goddess Athena, which once overlooked the grand staircase on the legendary SS Normandie ocean liner. (She resided for years near the pool at Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel before Celebrity bought her and returned her to sea.)

The real piece de resistance on these ships, however, is their alternative, reservations-only restaurants. Revolutionary when they first debuted nearly two decades ago, they still hold their own though we’re disappointed to see the former ocean liner focus start to disappear as Celebrity rebrands them Millennium ‘s is the Edwardian-style Olympic restaurant, whose decor features several dozen handcarved French walnut wall panels made by Palestinian craftsmen for the A La Carte restaurant on Titanic’s sister ship Olympic, which sailed from 1911 to 1935. Constellation ‘s Ocean Liners restaurant has artifacts from a variety of luxury liners, including sets of original red-and-black lacquered panels from the 1920s Ile de France, which add a whimsical Parisian air. Dining in either is a 2- to 3-hour commitment, with some 100 guests served by a gracious staff of more than 20, including eight dedicated chefs, six waiters, five maitre d’s, and four sommeliers. Waiters remove domed silver dish covers with a flourish revealing continental specialties mixed with original recipes from the ships the restaurants are named after the original Waldorf Pudding recipe from the White Star Liner Olympic, for instance, or the Long Island duckling featured on the original SS United States. Exceptional cheeses are offered postmeal, and a pianist or a piano/violin duo performs period music.

Infinity, sadly, has lost her SS United States restaurant, with its etched-glass panels from the 1950s liner of the same name. Ditto for Summit ‘ s Normandie restaurant, which has, like Infinity, been removed to make way for the Tuscan Grille steakhouse. Very high in style, it offers a menu heavy on steaks and pastas (for the curious, each ship still displays the removed nautical memorabilia but sadly, it’s now in a forgotten corner near the casino.) For something more casual, Bistro on Five serves a menu of specialty crepes, sandwiches, soups, salads, and comfort food entrees.

The huge buffet restaurant on each ship is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with regular buffet selections plus pizza, pasta, and ice-cream specialty stations. Depending on how busy the restaurant is, waiters may carry passengers’ trays to their tables and fetch coffee. For fancy snacks, visit Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria, which serves specialty coffees, teas, fresh-baked pastries, traditional gelatos and Italian ices, and other desserts.

Pool, fitness, spa & sports facilities The spas on the Millennium-class ships are gorgeous and sprawling, their 25,000 square feet taken up with hydrotherapy treatment rooms; New Agey Persian Garden steam suites whose nooks have showers that simulate a tropical rainforest, heated tiled couches, and the aromas of chamomile, eucalyptus, and mint; and large, bubbling thalassotherapy pools with soothing pressure jets in a solarium-like setting under a glass roof. The pool is free to all adult guests, and you can stretch out the experience by grabbing a casual breakfast or lunch at the

AquaSpa Cafe, set back by the seaview windows.

Next door to the spa, there’s a very large gym with dozens of the latest machines and free weights, and a large aerobics floor.

Up top, the Sports Deck has facilities for basketball, volleyball, quoits, and paddle tennis. Just below, on the Sunrise Deck, is the ship’s jogging track. Below that is the well-laid-out Pool Deck, where you’ll find two pools, four hot tubs, a couple of bars, and a sunning area. Head up to the balcony level above the pool, at both the bow and the stern, for quieter sunbathing spots.

Acquired in 2004 and refitted every few years ever since, Celebrity Xpedition is Celebrity Cruises only expedition vessel in the Galapagos (though two additional ships have just been purchased as this book went to press, and are tentatively scheduled to enter service in 2017). With capacity for just 100 guests, this often-overlooked gem is a real winner in the Galapagos Islands. Onboard, you’ll find Celebrity’s stylish decor and excellent service, coupled with all of the little amenities that past guests of the line have come to love. But hard-core expedition and adventure cruisers will find plenty to like here, too, including an onboard expedition team of guides approved by the Galapagos National Park Service and authentic Ecuadorian cuisine and crew members. Celebrity includes all drinks and gratuities aboard Celebrity Xpedition, putting her in league with ultra-luxury line Silversea’s Silver Galapagos (p. 272 ).

Cabins Staterooms and suites aboard Celebrity Xpedition are all oceanview, though private balconies don’t make their appearance until you hit the suite level. Standard staterooms come in three category levels (Premium, Deluxe and Standard Oceanview) and vary in size from 145 to 160 square feet. While snug, these staterooms all include flat-panel TV’s and DVD players, an mp3 docking station, a decent amount of storage space, a small desk and sitting area, as well as bathrobes, binoculars, and use of snorkel equipment and wetsuits. Most have queen beds that can convert to two twins, with the exception of Stateroom 401, which has a fixed queen.

Suites add both more space and the addition of private balconies, as well as special perks like complimentary sparkling wine, a daily fruit basket, and daily hors d’ oeuvres. Junior Suites are 175

Square feet, while Expedition and Royal Suites come in at just over 200 square feet with 50 square foot balconies. If you’re looking for top-of-the-line luxury, the ship’s lone Penthouse Suite (room 601) offers up 460 square feet of living space that includes two balconies, separate living and sleeping areas, two private bathrooms with shower, and a private Jacuzzi on the larger of the two balconies.

Public areas & activities Like most expedition ships, it’s quality not quantity when it comes to the ship’s public areas. On Deck 5, the Discovery Lounge is the place to be for afternoon cocktails, daily expedition briefings, and nightcaps. The room spans the width of the ship and is lined attractively with windows; our favorite area is the seating tucked away on the starboard side of the lounge, near the entrance to the outdoor Beagle Grill (it’s nice and cozy). When the weather’s good (and it almost always is), most guests can be found up on the open Panorama Deck on Deck 6, which has comfortable padded chairs and couches accented with ocean blue cushions and matching umbrellas to keep the sun’s rays at bay. Sun worshippers will want to go one deck up, where unshaded loungers are laid out.

Dining Surprisingly for a ship of this size, there are two main dining venues onboard. Darwin’s Dining Room is the ship’s main restaurant. Running along the port side of Deck 3, it’s a fairly narrow room that nonetheless lets in some pretty decent views from the single wall of picture windows. Breakfast buffets are served here, along with a selection of cooked-to-order specialties. Lunch is a casual affair as well, but dinners are where the line really pulls out the stops, delivering multi-course meals. In keeping with Ecuadorian law, practically all ingredients must be sourced from the Galapagos or the Ecuadorian mainland, so it’s not the same quality (or international selection) that’s found on the rest of the Celebrity fleet. All the way aft on Deck 4, the Beagle Grill serves up casual poolside fare during lunch and dinner (think hamburgers and sandwiches). Impressively for a ship of this size, room service is available as well.

Pool, fitness, spa & sports facilities While most of the adventure happens off of the ship, Celebrity Xpedition has a hot tub and a small (very small) Fitness Room on Deck 6.

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