Prevue September-October 2017 - 72

Left: Celebrity Xperience
Right (top to bottom): Sea lion basking in the sun off of Isabela Island;
Giant tortoises on El Manzanillo Ranch; Open-air grilling on the
Celebrity Xperience (1st and 2nd photo credits: Johnalee Johnston)

Celebrity is also no stranger to sustainability in the area,
Candos says. "Celebrity and the Galapagos Conservancy have built
greenhouses, developed organic agricultural initiatives and allowed
groups to participate in reforestation efforts." More than 16,000
scalesia trees have been planted so far, and it doesn't get much
better than eco-friendly chocolates left on your pillow every night.
Meanwhile, on Santa Fe Island, we encounter the lovely
Galapagos dove and mockingbird here for the first time, but the
big adventure comes later. Hopping off the side of the Zodiac
along Santa Fe Island, fully fitted by our naturalists with snorkeling
gear, we drifted through a spellbinding world of curious sea lions,
rays and colorful fish parades. A rugged and steep path on San
Cristobal winds its way up to the nesting grounds of red- and
blue-footed boobies; on Isabela Island, sea lions toy with our
Zodiac, where hikes across a 1,000-year-old lava field also take
place, as golden rays, giant sea turtles, marine iguanas and the only
penguin species north of the equator pretend not to care. Here,
male flightless cormorant birds dive up to 40 ft to retrieve gifts for
females-this was certainly a highlight.
A Zodiac ride to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz takes us back to
civilization where we get a glimpse of local life and the giant tortoise
conservation efforts underway at the Charles Darwin Research
Station. We then head to El Manzanillo Ranch in the highlands to
walk in the footsteps of giants as these beauties roam and mate
along migrating paths. Truly extraordinary.
As the oldest island above the sea at 4 million years, it's
only fitting the Espanola is last on our journey. A long rocky walk
introduces us to the red and green Christmas iguana, watchful
Galapagos hawks and the mighty waved albatross, which remarkably
takes flight for years at a time. Birds swooping through the air, sea
lions snoozing on the rocks and the slapping of whale fins on water in
the distance connect everyone in a single moment of wonder.

THE SHIP
The intimacy and relaxed atmosphere of the 48-passenger Celebrity
Xperience, combined with an all-inclusive experience start to
finish, allows groups to focus on building relationships. Immersive
itineraries built on shared experiences-whether gourmet meals
cooked under the stars, luxury staterooms that lock only from the
inside, movie nights, trivia and lectures, or rare encounters with
nature. The crew is quick to customize the F&B experience as well
to fit specific dietary needs.
This is essentially a ship for disconnecting and reconnecting,
and as such, is available for buyout. Groups will undoubtedly climb
to the sundeck for unrestricted views, a dip in the hot tub and a
decent WiFi signal, and stay long into the evening chatting about
the day's experiences. First and foremost, it's "an expedition ship
where attendees become explorers," Cando says. In such an
immersive environment teeming with life, groups will surely find that
the urge for creature comforts is quickly redefined.
celebritycruises.com

prevuemeetings.com | 71


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