In Darwin's Footsteps
The Galapagos Islands
Celebrity Xpeditions shows travelers
the Galapagos in comfortable style
all things are possible, even birds with bright blue feet aptly
called blue-footed boobies. You can see these
odd birds and similarly unusual wildlife by booking a
Celebrity Xpeditions cruise to Ecuador's remote and spectacular
Galapagos Islands. On day trips, travelers board Zodiac rafts to
travel rocky coastlines or go ashore to hike over volcanic rocks to
spot lava lizards, cormorants, giant tortoises, pelicans, sea
turtles, dolphins, seals, sea lions, penguins, whales and hundreds
of other native Galapagos species. They can watch and photograph
wildlife just steps away.
Yet even eco-focused travelers
appreciate a pampering environment that feels like home, with fine
cuisine, wine and modern amenities. That's what Celebrity Cruises
had in mind with its new Celebrity Xpeditions Galapagos product,
"where the unspoiled [wildlife] meets the spoiled [pampered
By purchasing an Ecuadorian tour operator that held the necessary
government permits for Galapagos sailings, and by ensuring that its
new 100-passenger ship, the Xpedition (formerly the Sun Bay) was
Ecuadorian flagged and crewed, Celebrity is taking taking
mainstream U.S. clients to the Galapagos year-round.
Celebrity Xpeditions' product combines natural and
On a cruise-only basis, a seven-night Celebrity Xpeditions
Galapagos cruise ranges from $2,000 to $13,000 per person double,
depending on cabin selection and whether early booking savings are
included. For the cruise-only option, clients find their own way to
Baltra in the Galapagos to meet the ship.
Most clients, however, will likely book the 10- or 11-night
Galapagos cruise-tour that starts and ends in Quito, the Ecuadorian
capital. Priced from $2,800 to $15,200 per person double, the
cruise/tour offers agents the peace of mind that Celebrity is
looking after their clients from the moment they land in Ecuador.
Included in the 10- or 11-day cruise-tour are a two-night,
pre-cruise stay in Quito; transfers to and from the airport; a Quito
city tour; the flight from Quito to Baltra via Guayaquil; a one- or
two-night stay in Quito on the return; the Galapagos entry fee; and
some meals in Quito.
The cruise itself includes all meals, naturalist services, folkloric
entertainment, enrichment programs, shore excursions, gratuities,
Zodiac rides and airport transfers. Also included are bottled water,
soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages onboard the ship with the
exception of premium brands.
All guests begin by taking flights to Quito. Cruise-tour guests
enjoy a two-night pre-cruise stay at Quito's J.W. Marriott hotel.
This property is an enclave of superb service, fresh floral
displays, excellent dining options, on-site boutiques and spacious
On Celebrity Xpedition's Quito city tour, clients tour by bus and on
foot. They'll peruse impressive colonial squares, tour such churches
as San Francisco with its interior decorated with eight tons of
gold, and view the city from a mountaintop vantage point. Guests
will also be transported to the equator for a stop at a monument,
museum and re-created Spanish village.
Celebrity Xpeditions is a mixed bag of
guest adventure options. In the Galapagos, it's a small-ship
cruise that operates year-round, with a ship owned and operated
by Celebrity. Another Celebrity Xpeditions option is a cruise
onboard a chartered Russian icebreaker in the Arctic and
Antarctic in partnership with Quark Expeditions.
In many cases, guests on regular Celebrity cruises will find new
options that are designated as Celebrity Xpeditions day trips;
for example, on northern Europe cruises, this involves a day
trip focused on the KGB and Kremlin in Moscow. Starting in
November for select Caribbean cruises, guests might book
Celebrity Xpeditions Racing Academy, a race-car driving
experience offered as a one- or two-night pre- or post-cruise
En route to the Galapagos, some 600 miles out in the ocean,
guests will fly on Tame, the Ecuadorian airline, stopping at
Guayaquil. Total travel time is about four hours. Once at Baltra,
South Seymour Island, passengers will board vans or a bus to the
pier, where they will likely get their first look at sea lions, and
then board a Zodiac rubber motorized craft for the short tender ride
to Xpedition, where they'll be welcomed with champagne and a
JUST LIKE NEW
Celebrity's nearly new Xpedition is a 2,842-GRT German-built vessel
that serves a maximum of 100 guests with a crew of 64. The captain
is an experienced RCCL captain, assisted by a mix of Ecuadorian and
international officers. Most of the staff are experienced in cruise
service, but have been retrained to Celebrity's standards.
Despite its small size, Xpedition has a spacious feel. The Discovery
Lounge features a large bar, comfortable seating and a small library
with books and games. Here passengers can attend folkloric
presentations, lectures and naturalist discussions about each day's
program. The ship also features a small exercise room with sauna,
several bars, outdoor deck lounging space, and a small boutique.
The open seating Darwin Dining Room is elegant but not stuffy. It
features breakfast and luncheon buffets with cooked-to-order dishes
including omelets and pastas, and full-service dining in the
evening. Waiters eagerly bring drinks and special sandwiches or
entrees that are offered beyond the regular menu choices. Guests can
also dine al fresco on many occasions at the outdoor Beagle Grill.
Staterooms and suites all feature televisions, telephones, fluffy
cotton bathrobes, Egyptian cotton towels, in-closet safe, and a hair
dryer. Standard cabins with a large rectangular window feature two
twin beds or one queen bed with a small sofa, desk area with
mini-refrigerator and mirror. There is 130 square feet of space,
beds are adequate, and guests will enjoy ample closet space with
multiple shelves and a well-appointed bathroom. The one penthouse
suite is 460 square feet and features two single beds and one double
bed, as well as two verandas. Other suites feature 230 square feet
Celebrity Xpeditions brings the blue-footed booby up close to guests.
Passengers enter and leave the ship via a platform incorporated
into the vessel's structure. Xpedition cannot really accommodate
wheelchair passengers or those who can't climb two or three flights
of stairs. The ship has neither an elevator for guest use nor any
onboard Internet access. A doctor is onboard for every voyage. The
ship already has modern waste management systems, but is upgrading
these facilities further this year to protect the Galapagos'
To explore ashore, guests will board Zodiac craft to tender ashore
and proceed on foot. They may also explore the island scenery up
close from the Zodiac. The itinerary includes stops at multiple
islands for viewing of wildlife and flora, and even rocky crags and
cave-like structures. Guests will take beach walks with sea lions
just steps away. Snorkeling and swimming are included on several
excursions. Scuba enthusiasts can book a dive trip for an additional
It's important that clients attend the naturalist talks so as to
select the right level of activity for their excursions. On
high-intensity trips, clients might hike two miles or more over
fairly uneven volcanic terrain, often in very hot conditions. The
landscape is not for clients with ankle or knee problems, although
less physically able guests have other options, such as beach walks
and Zodiac rides. Naturalists or ship's staff accompany all
excursions, providing lectures and discussions in English.
While many isles visited are uninhabited, Santa Cruz is the biggest
enclave of civilization, and Puerto Ayora is a place to shop or seek
out an Internet cafe. Guests can take a medium-intensity excursion
hike to seek out large Galapagos turtles in farmland, but sightings
are not guaranteed. Most guests will enjoy the "sure thing"-a visit
to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where visitors learn about
research and environmental protection efforts, and get close-up
views of Galapagos tortoises.
Clients should be sure to bring serious sunscreen and lip protection
of 30 or 50, as well as bug spray for gnats. Also recommended are
good sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat that ties under the chin to
withstand windy conditions, a small backpack, a light poncho or rain
jacket, twice the film and batteries clients think they'll need, and
comfortable clothes and shoes, including two pairs of athletic
shoes. Guests should have one pair of those sneakers for "wet"
landings off the Zodiac.
Women should bring slacks rather than shorts to wear in Quito,
especially if they want to tour the churches; in addition, Quito's
climate can be cool, so a sweater is appropriate. The Galapagos
Islands are hotter than Quito, with temperatures in the 80s or 90s
and high humidity, so clients should dress accordingly. Evening
dinner dress is "smart casual."
After a cruise on Celebrity Xpeditions, your clients will return
with memories of a land almost lost in time with creatures seen
nowhere else on earth. Rather than roughing it, though, your clients
will return from their adventures ashore to an enclave of luxurious
pampering, as smiling Celebrity Xpeditions staff hand them cool wet
towels and a glass of lemonade. They can then head for their
air-conditioned stateroom or the bar to relax and tell tales of
their exploits with giant tortoises, penguins and, yes, even
SO SPECIAL ABOUT
A unique marine
location with hot and cold currents meeting at the Equator, plus the
cooling trade winds and young volcanic landscape have produced animals
that have evolved in a special way. Lack of predators (and man until
recently) means they have no fear, and you can approach them closely.
Here you can swim in
clear, turquoise waters with sea lions, penguins and angel fish, walk
through Booby colonies, observe the antics of dancing Albatrosses, play
with turtles underwater and see giant tortoises and scaly iguanas like
creatures from another age. To Darwin they were "eminently
curious'', today they have been dubbed "a living laboratory of
evolution" and declared a World Heritage Site.
I'd arrived at the end of the World, a strange and beautiful place.
During my first week sailing around the Galapagos, swimming with
sea-lions and stepping over boobies, I was hooked on the place. I
realised the excitement that Darwin must have felt, observing wild
animals that are totally oblivious to man. Since then the Galapagos are
less remote, facilities have improved, but the excitement and
strangeness are still there."
Straddling the Equator,
some 600 miles west of Ecuador, South America, lie the strange and
wonderful Galapagos Islands. Nicknamed "Enchanted" by the
buccaneers, the archipelago became famous after the visit of Charles
Darwin in 1835. (His ideas on evolution were prompted partly by what he
saw there). Home to a variety of unique creatures, dominated by reptiles
such as the giant tortoise and iguanas, and a haven to birds like
frigates and boobies. The bizarre scenery was created by oceanic
volcanoes now colonised by fantastic plant life struggling to grow in
the arid soil, whilst the upper slopes of some islands are covered in a
dense jungle-like forest, clinging to the sides of huge craters. Today
they are a 'World Heritage Site' and created a
national park in 1959,
belonging to Ecuador. Though on the Equator they are blessed with cool
currents and calm seas. The waters are a paradise for snorkelling and
making friends with sea lions, turtles and penguins, don't worry if you
have never done it we will be happy to show you. SCUBA diving is
becoming increasingly popular, and special diving tours are planned for
comprises 12 large islands, six smaller ones and numerous rocky islets.
The area they cover is nearly 3000 square miles! Consequently in a week
it is impossible to visit all of them, but you can see most of the
important animals in such time. It is the combination of warm and cool
currents, and the lack of many predators - including man - that has made
them so special. All the reptiles, half the birds, a third of the
plants, and a quarter of the fish are only found here! The landscapes
are no conventional tropical paradise but have an intrinsic beauty of
their own. The marine life makes the waters a haven for snorkelers.
7-night cruise to the Galapagos Islands departs from Isla
Baltra. From here, you journey to many of the Galapagos
islands including Isla North Seymour, where you will find
large colonies of frigate birds, blue footed boobies, and
sea lions, Isla Santa Cruz, home of the Charles Darwin
Research Station, and Isla Fernandina, where you can walk
amongst recent lava flows. And throughout your cruise our
expert naturalist will make sure you don't miss a thing.
You'll also experience a level of service and a sense of
intimacy that can only be achieved aboard our newest ship,
10-night Celebrity Xpeditions journey to the Galapagos
Islands begins with a two-day stay in the Ecuadorian capital
of Quito. Your first day includes breakfast, a Quito city
tour, and dinner that evening. After two days in Quito
you'll embark on the voyage of a lifetime: a cruise through
the wondrous Galapagos Islands. You'll step back into
history and visit lands that inspired an Englishman named
Darwin to compose a theory that would shake the very
foundation of scientific thought. After your cruise, you'll
return to Quito for an additional night, where you can enjoy
a cocktail on the café-lined streets of Quito's "new town."
11-night Celebrity Xpeditions journey to the Galapagos
Islands begins with a two-day stay in the Ecuadorian capital
of Quito. Your first day includes breakfast, a Quito city
tour, and dinner that evening. After two days of soaking-in
the splendor and sights of Quito, your expedition through
the pristine perfection of the Galapagos Islands will begin.
On your cruise, you'll have the opportunity to observe plant
and wildlife that exist nowhere else in the world. After
touring the islands, you'll spend another two days in Quito,
where you can relax with an espresso in the café-lined
streets of "new town," or take-in the stunning views of the
isla baltra »
The cruise portion of your journey begins on the beautiful
island of Baltra where you'll tender onto the Celebrity
Xpedition from our Zodiac rafts.
isla north seymour »
Located off the northern tip of Baltra, this small island is
approximately 1.2 miles in length. Along its rocky coast
there are great colonies of Blue-Footed Boobies and
magnificent Frigate birds to discover.
isla española »
The southernmost island, Española, is one of the richest
wildlife locations in the Galapagos. Located on the western
tip of Española is Punta Suarez. A 1.5 mile hike provides
incredible views along the cliffs, through Blue Footed Booby
colonies and a beach with sea lions and marine iguanas. It
is also home to a magnificent blowhole that can shoot water
50 to 60 feet in the air, providing amazing opportunities
for spectacular pictures.
isla santa cruz (darwin st. and cerro dragon)
Home to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the
Galapagos National Park Service, Isla Santa Cruz boasts
diverse climate conditions, ranging from arid along the
coast to humid, plush inlands and highlands. Also located
here is Cerro Dragon, or Dragon Hill, named after the large
iguanas that congregate there.
isla bartalome »
The variety of volcanic formations found here give this
small, barren island a moon-like appearance. Celebrated for
its spectacular view of Pinnacle Rock, it is also a great
place to hike and examine the geology of the island.
isla isabel (caleta
Stretching 80 miles in length, this island is the largest in
the Galapagos and a favorite site of the early pirates and
whalers. Famous for the high cliffs which enclose the
protected bay, a visit here will give you the opportunity to
view a salt water lagoon and the lava fields of Darwin
isla rabida »
Known for its rugged, maroon-colored terrain, this island
offers a picturesque view of brightly-colored flamingos
congregated in its shallow saltwater lagoons.
(puerto egas) »
Explore steep cliffs of tuff lava formations where hundreds
of seabirds perch, or discover the best tide pools in the
Galapagos. Here you'll have the chance to marvel at Grottos
made from black lava, the Sally Lightfoot Crabs, sponges,
sea lions, barnacles, and fish including the Four-Eyed
isla santa maria
Floreana is best known for its colorful history of
buccaneers, whalers and colonists. The island is also home
to the Post Office-a mail system of yesteryear established
to send letters to and from England. The tradition is kept
alive today as visitors drop off and pick up letters
(without stamps) to be carried to faraway destinations.
cerro brujo (san cristobal) »
Eroded volcanic peaks in the north and rich vegetation in
the south characterize the island. This island is also home
to the only freshwater lake in the Galapagos.
punta espinoza (isla fernandina) »
Located on the northeast part of Fernandina, this port is
known for its lava fields, where you can view recent
volcanic activity and an abundance of wildlife from rich
seas bathing the stark coastline. Here we find sea lions,
masked boobies, marine iguanas, red billed tropic birds and
Galapagos Travel Tips:
Don't expect to trailblaze. Stay safe. Abide by the rules.
Don't feed or touch any wild animals; the Gálapagos is not a petting
Bring sun gear to cover you from head to toe, plenty of sunblock,
and lightweight, loose-fitting clothes to protect you from the sun.
The Galápagos archipelago includes some of the rarest animals in
South America. To make the most of wildlife viewing, bring along a
good pair of binoculars.
Respect local customs and adhere to local knowledge.
Learn to hear, to observe, and to reflect.
Though situated directly on the equator, the Galápagos Islands have
a surprisingly cool, subtropical climate caused by the Humboldt and
Peruvian currents. Rain is uncommon, and the coastal areas are dry
and arid, while the highlands receive enough rainfall to support a
lush rainforest. It is coolest in September.
Best Time to Go
December - March:
80° - 90ºF
Other times of year:
70° - 80ºF
Calendar of Events
- Beginning of rainy season
- Ideal time for snorkeling
- Green turtles arrive to the beaches to lay their eggs
- Few penguins sighted on Bartholomew
- Masked boobies on Espanola are at the end of their nesting season
- Rainy season reaches the highest precipitation
- Sun and hot climate; air temperatures can reach up to 30ºC (86ºC)
- After Mar 21, arrival of waved albatross on Espanola
- Courtship of waved albatross on Espanola begins
- Land iguanas hatch on Isabela
- Green sea turtles begin to hatch
- Blue-footed boobies begin their courtship on North Seymour
- Most of the marine iguanas eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz
- Albatross on Espanola start laying their eggs
- Beginning of the garua season
- Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz migrate from the highlands to the
in search of nesting places
- Sea bird communities are active
- Whales are more likely to be found off western side of Isabela
- Lava lizards start mating rituals
- Galapagos Hawks court on Espanola and Santiago
- Temperature of the ocean lowers to 18ºC (64ºC)
- Migrant shore birds start to arrive
- Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
- Air temperature reaches its lowest 19ºC (66ºC)
- Penguins and Sea Lions are very active
- Galapagos fur seals begin their mating period
- Giant tortoises continue laying their eggs
- Boobies raise their young on Espanola
- Sea lion pups are born
- Hatching of giant tortoise’s eggs begins & lasts through April
- Rainy season begins and the vegetation starts turning green again
HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION & GET A FREE QUOTEClick
on Image to Check Specials Book Directly & Save
Galápagos Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide, by David
Horwell and Pete Oxford
A compact guide to the birds, reptiles, insects, plants, and marine
life of the archipelago. Separate chapters cover visitor sites,
history, conservation, and habitats.
Ecuador and Its Galápagos Islands:
The Ecotraveller’s Wildlife Guide, by Les
The perfect field book for the general tourist who has an interest
in exploring tropical environs, this is a ‘must-have’ for any
traveler to the Galápagos.
Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles
The enthusiastic tale of Darwin’s five-year voyage. First published
in 1839. Still essential reading.
Galápagos: Islands Born of Fire, by Tui
A beautiful photographic journey through these fascinating islands.
A Guide to the Birds of the
Galápagos Islands, by Isabel Castro and
A field guide to all the birds of Galápagos.