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3 Galapagos Entertainment Cruise Reviews

Quasar Grace Galapagos 1 week tour (originating in San Cristobal, ending in Baltra) exceeded my expectations in every way. The boat was elegant, well-appointed and very comfortable. I didn’t see a single boat in the Galapagos that ... Read More
Quasar Grace Galapagos 1 week tour (originating in San Cristobal, ending in Baltra) exceeded my expectations in every way. The boat was elegant, well-appointed and very comfortable. I didn’t see a single boat in the Galapagos that was as beautiful as Grace. Her age (built in 1928, later gifted to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier by Ari Onassis) was not an issue at all - she is fast, nimble and beautifully maintained. The itinerary and activities were perfectly planned, with several excursions a day on land and sea. Land visits were timed to capture the animals in their most dramatic moments (e.g., the mating dance of the blue-footed boobies), while also avoiding other tourists. We snorkeled almost every day, and it was the best I've experienced, swimming with sea lions, turtles, reef sharks, and many schools of beautiful fish. I am physically fit and a long-distance swimmer, but the activities were structured in a way that even older and less able guests could fully enjoy them. Late January was a perfect time to visit because the water was warm enough to swim without a wetsuit. The food was wonderful, served al fresco. I can’t imagine preparing 3 meals/day for 16 guests plus crew in a yacht kitchen, but the kitchen staff continued to surprise us with new delicacies. The fruits and vegetables were incredibly fresh and flavorful. I looked forward to the fresh breads in the basket every morning, prepared by Walter. There were 2 ceviches (shrimp and crab) that were so good that we asked the chef for the recipe. The fresh tuna was a crowd pleaser, and the preparations and sauces always had a unique and harmonious mixture of ingredients. The crew was exceptional. I was impressed with their expertise across multiple roles, commitment to pleasing their guests, professionalism and work ethic. Melissa (hospitality) was delightful, very responsive and energetic. Freddy and Miguel, our zodiac pilots, were very capable, confident and fun. Saul, our bartender, learned our names and preferred cocktails and wines very quickly, and always appeared just as my glass was getting low. Nelly crept into our rooms several times a day to tidy up, and quickly replaced any linens as they began to get grimy. Our guide, Rafael Pesante, was extremely knowledgeable, which of course, is critical. But on top of that, he was a skilled teacher and story teller. He was full of energy and good cheer. He treated every single guest as if they were his top priority. He took beautiful photographs of every excursion and supplied downloads to departing guests. He treated the other crew members as equals and fostered a sense of family. I can’t imagine that there is a better guide in the Galapagos. Most impressive of all was the way they all work together to give their guests a memorable experience. One morning around 6am, one of the crew members spotted orcas near the boat. Immediately after that, Rafael came on the intercom encouraging everyone to come to the zodiacs in their pajamas ASAP to chase the orcas. Within minutes, all 16 guests were loaded into the boats and on the chase. We had a thrilling ride and captured dramatic footage of the orcas. A less-organized crew would never have been able to pull that off, and a bigger boat never would have even bothered. I could not have been happier with the Grace experience. My only hesitation in giving this glowing review is that it might create more competition to get a reservation when I inevitably return to the Grace one day! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My wife and I just recently from a one-week cruise on the Grace, concluding on February 3rd. Our guide, Rafael, was outstanding throughout the trip – in terms of his level of knowledge, and his ability to safely and competently guide ... Read More
My wife and I just recently from a one-week cruise on the Grace, concluding on February 3rd. Our guide, Rafael, was outstanding throughout the trip – in terms of his level of knowledge, and his ability to safely and competently guide a group of 16 people. We always knew what was coming next, and the end of day photo review and briefing for the next day was very effective in keeping us grounded throughout the week. Our wildlife viewing was outstanding – I thought nothing could match our trip to Tanzania last year, but Galapagos on the Grace, with Rafael, was right there on a par level. Our impression during the week was that the crew was very much in sync with Rafael, so everything they did seemed to meet the same high standard. The food was superb everyday. Our hotel manager, Melissa, could not have been more accommodating. We stayed in the Grace Kelly suite, and it was a real treat. Everything in the room, and the way it was maintained and serviced during the week (Nelly’s efforts), was excellent. I never did get tired of looking at the Grace from the water – such a classic boat. You could tell that other boats were steering their pangas toward the Grace when the opportunity presented itself, to have a closer look at the Grace. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. ... Read More
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. Here are some further thoughts on the subject. NATURALISTS MATTER. A critical feature of the experience were the three naturalists that guided every hike, boat ride and snorkel. The ability to make a 1 mile hike into an interesting and engaging two hour nature experience is dependent wholly on the naturalists. The three on our trip were extraordinary and well versed in the smallest detail of the geology, history, flora, fauna and culture of every stop. We had been told by others who did the Galapagos (with other providers) that most naturalists who work in the islands aspire to get hired by Linblad/Nat Geo, and therefore, they get the best. While we have nothing to compare it to, our experience was excellent. I would pick Linblad/Nat Geo for that reason alone. ACTIVITY LEVEL. The pace was significantly more active than we imagined, and to our liking. The ship accommodations matter, but we didn’t have as much lounging time as I had thought. We kayaked twice (regulations limit the number of kayaks they can send out), and we took every boat ride, snorkel and hike offered. While that pace was by no means exhausting, some guests opted-out on occasion. The pace of the hikes was leisurely and the terrain well handled by all except a few of the more frail passengers. Even on the more rocky trails, a pair of sturdy hiking sticks for less active folk (supplied by the boat) were all that were needed. Typically, we started before or just after breakfast, got in one or two events before returning to the ship by noon for lunch, lounged or napped, and then resumed excursions at 3:00 to avoid the mid-day heat. SHIP CONDITION. Despite being a slightly older ship and not having been renovated recently, the ship was in excellent condition with beautiful teak accents, shiny brass hardware, nice carpets, and always impeccably clean with three room services per day! There was nothing worn or old about it. CLOTHING. The dress was quite casual, and what I would call “resort casual.” Shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, bathing suits and casual sun dresses predominated. During mid-February it was quite hot mid-day so wicking active gear, loose shirts and sun protection clothing was key. Air conditioning kept the interior of the ship pleasantly cool. Next day laundry services (at hotel prices) are available. FOOD. The food was really good. It was not fine dining in the metropolitan sense, but it was tasty, varied and plentiful. Alcohol was reasonably priced from $4 for a local (and good) beer to $8 for a glass of decent wine. Tellingly, most passengers felt like they were gaining lots of weight on the trip! GYM. For fitness buffs, there was a small gym with two high quality treadmills, an elliptical and a good spinning class-styled exercise bike. It had some dumbbells up to 25 pounds. The gym has large windows with great views. It was rarely used with most succumbing to a nap or a book in the shade during the siesta break, and therefore getting a machine was never an issue. WATER. Water temps for swimming and snorkeling were in the 70’s on our itinerary (which can vary) in mid-February. The shortie wet suits provided were buoyant and kept us warm enough to be the last out of the water on most snorkel outings. Some guests also wore rash guards or SPF clothing, either in place of, or underneath wetsuits. Some guests and the guides did fine without the wetsuits. The snorkeling gear was good. I have my own gear but left it at home, and was glad I did. Some put an underwater camera or GoPro to good use, but Linblad provided us with a great DVD filmed by a photographer that accompanied us on all our excursions so we all got some great footage to take home! SERVICE. The service was excellent. I think there are 42 crew or so for 46 guests. The entire staff was professional, efficient, accommodating and helpful. It was our first Linblad experience but likely not our last. STATEROOMS. As to which stateroom to pick (level 2-4) there are some considerations. All have excellent cabin level air conditioning, so you could make your stateroom as cold as you pleased. The level 2 and 3 rooms do not have a window or portal directly to the outside, but rather have a small window that looks through an exterior hallway (either the library on side 302-304-306 with less traffic) or the computer lab (301-303-305 with slightly more traffic) which also serves as the entry to the lounge. Those walkways are floor to ceiling glass so lots of light shines through, but we mostly kept the curtain pulled on our porthole for privacy. As to the level 2 staterooms, we were told by guests in 210 and 208 that they were closest to the engines and may have had a bit more engine noise at night. The area between 205 and 208 is where the guests gather to disembark, which is not a problem if you are disembarking with them, but if you are looking to sleep through it, it might have been loud. We thought the best value were staterooms 306 and 305, as those are sized to accommodate three passengers, and if they will give you one of those as a double, the extra room in the form of a day bed/couch is nice. The remaining level 3 staterooms, and the level 4 staterooms (but for 401 and 402, see below) are all about the same size. The difference is that the 4 level rooms have a small enclosed “porch” that some guests used as a place to hang wet clothing, but does have enough room for two people to sit with a book or a drink (it is slightly bigger than it looks in pictures.) The level 4 rooms are more private than the level 3 rooms (no exterior traffic), and had more light due to the window on the door to the deck. Staterooms 401 and 402 (on an older brochure I think those were labeled 501 and 502) were really spectacular with large dramatic windows overlooking the bow and sides of the boat, with the same small but functional enclosed decks like the other level 4 rooms. By comparison to any other staterooms, the light in those rooms was extraordinary. The bathrooms too were larger in those suites. The exterior walkways (rather than internal) offer the great benefit of providing many air conditioned places to lounge on either side of the ship with fantastic exterior views. Of course the lounge to the stern and two upper decks (open but shaded) also provide lots of space. The public spaces are sufficiently varied for socializing, or napping, reading or sunning in relative privacy. Therefore, we used our stateroom mostly to sleep, nap, shower and change, and lounged elsewhere on the boat. So overall, as you consider the class of accommodations, we thought 1) a level 2 stateroom offered a great overall experience because the you spend so little time in your room and this trip is about the outdoors; 2) if you are on level 2, rooms 201-204 might be quieter, but noise was never really an issue; 3) the premium for the extra space of 303-306 was worth it to us; 4) if you want to splurge and the stateroom matters to you the most, splurge on 401 or 402; you won’t be disappointed with the premium space. But regardless of which accommodations you pick, make sure you pick one and go. It is a unique travel experience like none other on the planet. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017

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