After a week on the Silver Galapagos I’ve hours to spend travelling so might as well write a review. Overall the visit to the Galapagos was fantastic and most of the Silverseas Experience was also very good.
So let’s start with the not so good which has mainly been the last couple of days of the cruise. Friday’s tour on land seemed designed to suit the needs of the crew to get us off the ship for as long as possible. We were off the ship at 8am to visit the tortoises and that could easily have been completed and back on board for lunch, instead we were supplied the worst meal of the week at a local restaurant and were not given the option to return to the ship until 4pm (although they eventually grudgling agreed to do so at 2.30). Now we’re on Saturday, so its out of your cabin by 7.30a.m sit around on the ship until 9.30pm for the short bus journey to the airport to wait another nearly 3 hours for the flight. Surely something could have been organised to make good use of this 5 hours of time while still in the Galapagos?
We booked the mainland/Galapagos flights through Silverseas and also a day room at a Guayaquil hotel for today. However, they didn't notify us until yesterday that the flight times had changed so we arrived in Guayaquil only just over 4 hours before our home flight, so there was no point in transferring to the day room (that we have paid for!) and we have instead stayed at the airport
Anyway, back to the beginning of the week
Arrivals in to Quito Airport, on to the hotel and then back to the airport (5.30am start) were all well organised. In between we enjoyed a fantastic full day tour of Quito/Equator organised by the Silverseas local agent(booked at the hotel on arrival). A beautiful city and well worth a stop-over.
On arrival to Baltra airport the move to the Silver Galapagos was short and quick and at the harbour we got to see the first Sea Lions. Lunch was served as soon as we arrived on board. In the afternoon there was a welcome lecture with introductions to all the Naturalists and other crew members. This was combined with the safety procedures, which did make it a bit of an over long session.
Every day was an early start with 8 am disembarkations considered a luxury lie in. Some days there was a gap after lunch for those who needed a nap but on others it was a busy morning and afternoon. The activities were Zodiac(inflatable tours), kayaking, beach and deep sea snorkelling and walks. On some days we did all of them! What we saw on land and in the water was amazing and what makes the cost of this holiday experience worthwhile. Up close, Iguanas, Tortoises, Turtles, Sealions, Sharks and so many different birds and fish. We even got to see an Orca from just a few metres away.
The food on board was very good most of the time. The service was often slow and glasses including water stood empty even after asking for a refill. For wine drinkers there was a good selection of South American wines and for the beer drinkers there was at least a red and black alternative to the bland lager. There was an extensive range of cocktails etc.
The outside Grill restaurant served an excellent range of mainly fish/prawns/lobster at lunch and could accommodate about half of the passengers so across the week we got there early enough on several days to eat there. In the evening is was necessary to book, which we did but by the third time the unchanging “hot rocks” menu while good was becoming a bit repetitive.
The main restaurant provided an excellent wide ranging buffet breakfast. The buffet lunch was also good. Dinner menus had many courses and much variety through the week. Occasionally the food was overcooked.
The Ship, Cabins and Service
The Silver Galapagos has a good number of public spaces inside and outside and surprisingly good unlimited wifi access for $140 for the week. (Unlikely the unusably slow access at Baltra airport)
We were in a deluxe verandah cabin which was big enough with a small seating area and we took the tip from other reviewers to put a case at the bottom of each wardrobe. The air conditioning was good enough providing that we kept the curtains closed. The shower was good, even if much of the water ended up on the floor! There was a large flat screen TV which we never switched on as we were too busy or too tired! We also never used the spa or fitness centre for the same reasons.
The cabin service was OK but was often in response to requests rather than being pre-empted.
Silver Galapagos still has room for improvements but I would recommend this trip as an excellent way to experience the Galapagos Islands.