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30 Galapagos Family Cruise Reviews

My family of 4 (including my Wife, 10yo Son, 8yo Daughter) were on the Silver Galapagos the end of August. It's important to note that this is an "expedition" and not a "cruise". Everything was excellent. Also, ... Read More
My family of 4 (including my Wife, 10yo Son, 8yo Daughter) were on the Silver Galapagos the end of August. It's important to note that this is an "expedition" and not a "cruise". Everything was excellent. Also, while the up front cost is higher than other ships, once you realize what’s included (just about everything) and the level of service and luxury it is actually a very good value. First, a big thanks to Sean Swedman, at Silverseas, who handled every single detail of the trip with perfection and patience. There were a lot of moving parts and Silverseas was flawless in ensuring a smooth trip. They are with you from the moment you get off the plane until the moment you board. It's really amazing. While the ship is aging (a new one is coming in 2020) it was still luxurious and very well maintained. Cabins were nice sized with plenty of storage and very comfortable. The staff was truly outstanding. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, went out of their way to do provide incredible service. The naturalist, butlers, expedition leader, dining room staff, zodiac drivers, etc., were always smiling and always there to help. Our cabin was cleaned at least 3 times a day. All this service and luxury made the actual reason for the trip, the magical Galapagos, even better because it was just so easy. Two excursions and usually a snorkel every day. The landscape, animal and bird viewing were stunning. We got up close to just about everything. Many times, the birds, iguanas, tortoises and sea lions were resting on the trails so we had to walk around them. There were just a few children in the ship but my kids loved it and they staff went out of their way to engage with them. Many evenings a naturalist joined us for dinner at the request of my Son and spent an hour or two answer an endless stream of questions. Walks range from easy to somewhat challenging but there are always options. Food was excellent at every meal. A lot of seafood choices and if you wanted something different all you had to do was ask. We did a few times and every single time the answer was yes. Highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and ... Read More
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and we chose it primarily because it worked for the younger generation in our group (Millennials with limited vacation time). We came in with high expectations, due to the Nat Geo name, but had only mixed results. The itinerary included San Cristobal, Espanola, and Floreana, the Eastern portion of the archipelago. We were in a Main level cabin, which seemed to get much less movement than those two floors up. Loved being able to go straight from panga to room hot shower after snorkeling. The Galapagos are indeed amazing, and our overall memories of the experience are fond. Our single biggest complaint? With only 4 full days on the water, every day counts. Nat Geo is famous for not publishing their itineraries in advance, so imagine our surprise to only be visiting 3 islands in that 4 days. Two days were dedicated to San Cristobal - with the second day being a total bust (a 45 minute walk in an interpretive center, a 3 hour round trip to see 30 small turtles at a breeding center, and a high school student presentation). Ridiculous, and a rip-off. The 4 days you will get are totally the luck of the draw, and the shorter format increases the risk that you will get a crummy hand. We had other concerns (lack of quality onboard programming, food was average), but could have powered through those. It would be remiss of me to not recognize some of the extraordinary highs we also had on this trip - amazing snorkeling and kayaking on the last two days (with great visits to Espanola and Floreana), stargazing one night from the bow of the ship, and outstanding opportunities to view all kinds of birdlife. Loved the open bridge policy, and the Ecuadorian staff exuded pride and commitment to protection of the Galapagos. The ground staff was exemplary. This shorter trip has a lot of potential - it attracts a younger population and, from our perspective, is a very efficient use of time - but NG can not approach the itinerary in such a sloppy way if it expects it to be successful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. ... Read More
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. A wonderful immersive experience. Thanks to the best crew EVER! They were so caring and informative. The small ship meant everyone received the same amazing treatment and experience. We saw almost ever Animal we hoped and not from a mile away, but right there. We swam, snorkeled, hiked our way around 6 do the Islands and each one was an experience. Each one was absolutely stunning inits landscape and animal life. On board, the ship was beautiful and the food incredible. Locally sourced and delicious. The information talks were great. Keep in mind our expedition leader has been doing this for 40 years. You can understand how good they are! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Galapagos certainly has its magic, and it goes without saying that our expectations for this trip were very high. Our week on the Grace was outstanding and has surpassed the initial expectation, leaving us with a life-changing experience ... Read More
Galapagos certainly has its magic, and it goes without saying that our expectations for this trip were very high. Our week on the Grace was outstanding and has surpassed the initial expectation, leaving us with a life-changing experience and fabulous memories. What made the difference is that the crew and our naturalist guides (Rafa and Sam), made everything possible to make us feel alone on the islands, adapting the schedule in the best way possible. Going to such a remote place, we did not want to be surrounded by 50 people on every activity. They made us feel like the only ones around and they can count on the flexibility of the crew, that has been hosting us like family, attending all our needs even before we thought of them. They knew all our names after 1,5 day. Outstanding. The Grace is a comfortable and timeless. It is by far the most elegant boat floating on Galapagos islands. Cabins are very comfortable, spacious and nicely decorated. Easy to relax here, rooms are always impeccable, and whenever we returned to our cabin, our bed is nicely made. We loved to sit on the outside terrace for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as at the bar. This seemed to be quite unique compared to the other few ships we saw. We liked the fact there was no wifi or tv in the rooms (there is one common tv in the living), as it let us disconnect fully with the outside world while connecting with ourselves, the wildlife and other passengers. After this experience, we really stand for small cruise ship experiences, they are way more personal and unique. Food was also delicious, with great variety and local cuisine. The fact they have one chef and one pastry cook really makes the difference from breakfast to dinner. Camila and Colja – travelled in August 2018, as a couple. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We knew we would love the Galapagos, but we didn't know how much! My husband, my son and I shared cabin XS 500 on Xpedition and had a fantastic time. The ship focused on the activities, including snorkeling and hiking and we packed ... Read More
We knew we would love the Galapagos, but we didn't know how much! My husband, my son and I shared cabin XS 500 on Xpedition and had a fantastic time. The ship focused on the activities, including snorkeling and hiking and we packed activities into each day. We were tired but happy when we got home. The crew and amenities were great and we feel we got good value for our money. I would go to the Galapagos on Celebrity again any time! We're planning Outer Loop for next time and we want to find a way to Scuba Dive, which we did not get to do with Xpedition. The ship itself was very small, with 96 passengers on our sailing. This was a great small ship experience, which enabled us to get to know our fellow passengers as well as getting to know crew members. We didn't spend much time doing any of the evening activities as we were tired and relaxed and wanted to check out our photos of the day and get ready for the next day. This is an active cruise, with alot of physical movement....up and down stairs, in and out of transport boats, up and down hills, in and out of wetsuits, in and out of the water, snorkeling, hiking, and not alot of sitting and watching the scenery go by. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and ... Read More
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and crew..all exceptional. I needed a vacation after I got back! I gave our cabin excellent because it was so darn cute and I swear a few feet bigger than Alaska. Be forewarned though these are NOT your usual cruise cabins, very close quarters, but very efficient.. Breakfast and Lunch were very good.Dinner was fine. Just not overwhelming. They are small portions which we all liked and very elegantly done.. the bbq night was fun. Well the animals are the entertainment. other than that one night of local performers. The hikes, kayaking, snorkeling were all amazing.I now know everything possible about the blue footed boogie.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
My husband and I and our three teen-aged boys recently returned from a spring break trip on the Santa Cruz II, Western Itinerary. We thoroughly enjoyed the Santa Cruz II. Everything was clean and modern. The food was very good and the ... Read More
My husband and I and our three teen-aged boys recently returned from a spring break trip on the Santa Cruz II, Western Itinerary. We thoroughly enjoyed the Santa Cruz II. Everything was clean and modern. The food was very good and the waiters went out of their way each day to bring my son gluten-free breads and waffles without us ever having to ask. The outdoor deck was lovely. The bar and lounge areas were comfortable and inviting. The boat's staff at the Quito airport, on arrival in Baltra, and on the ship were all very organized and friendly and we always knew where we were going and what we were doing. The snorkeling equipment was excellent and seemed top quality. The ship's photographer takes pictures that are provided at no cost, which I thought was a very nice touch. I would sail on this ship again without the slightest hesitation. Our naturalist guide for the trip was a very nice young man, but he could have talked a little less (sometimes you just want to silently enjoy the nature around you!) and been a little better informed. At times when he was asked questions I think he just improvised when he didn't know something. He often answered the same question different ways at different times. He explained evolution as "if a bird had an injured wing his offspring would then also have injured wings." My real complaint, however, was the itinerary. Days 2 & 4 were excellent. Day 1 was ok, Day 3 was terrible. On such a short cruise at such a high cost, every day should be amazing! Day Two: Snorkeled with sea lions, penguins, and turtles, and really saw lots of interesting animals up close. Really enjoyed both stops. Day Four was our favorite. We snorkeled from the shore of a beautiful beach and kayaked among playful sea lions in the morning, then enjoyed a glass-bottom boat tour in the afternoon. The highlight was the evening, when 12 sharks and a few sea lions swam right alongside the boat for HOURS, chasing flying fish. The fish would leap out of the water to escape, and one flew up into my son's chest on the deck. He will never forget that. Day One (afternoon after embarkation), Dragon Hill was ok. Lots of walking for very little animal sightings, and it was hot and dry and dusty. Seems like there could be a better place to start. Day 3, however, just felt like filler. First we trekked to the Charles Darwin Research Center, which was not interesting at all. A huge production to go into a special building where they have the taxidermy body of Lonely George, the last of a particular species of tortoises who died several years ago. Then outside to see some giant tortoises, including babies in breeding areas. Overall, not impressive and it required a bus ride, then a long walk. Would recommend omitting this stop entirely. Then we were bussed to a sugar cane farm for a 5 minute demonstration, followed by an hour of standing around. Everyone seemed hot and annoyed. Next we were loaded back on the bus and taken to a lava tube. We got out, hiked into the tube, turned around and hiked back to the bus. Again, seemed rather pointless? Then the bus took us to a restaurant, where we had an outdoor buffet. The food was fine, but then it was back on the bus again for a drive to a reserve where we saw giant tortoises. This last part at the reserve was about 45 minutes - and it was enjoyable - but it came at the end of a very long day. We would have much preferred if this day could have been broken in two like the other days, with a return to the ship mid-day, and a more interesting stop/excursion in the morning. A tortoise center in the morning and tortoises in the wild in the afternoon seemed unnecessarily repetitive. The sugar can farm and lave tube stop just seemed like filler. NOT why one travels to the Galapagos! We felt cheated out of one of our precious few days in the Galapagos on this day. So all in all, we had a wonderful trip to the Galapagos and would recommend the Santa Cruz II, but pick an itinerary without the long day on Santa Cruz Island. Also, if you are deciding between a full week and a 5 day/4 night as we were, we all agreed the 4 day was just the right amount of time. I think it might have started to feel repetitive with a few more days. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the ... Read More
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the Guayaquil Airport and taken to The Hotel Del Parque, a beautiful 19th century retreat close to the airport, not that you'd ever know because of its lush tropical surroundings. The hotel staff was very welcoming and friendly as well. The next morning after a beautifully set up breakfast buffet on the hotel's patio we were taken back to the airport where we flew to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to board our ship. Right from that point on we saw all kinds of sea lions, colorful crabs, pelicans, and iguanas and we would be seeing many more in the coming days. It had begun to rain as we took the Zodiac from the dock to the Islander anchored off shore but the minute we boarded the ship we were greeted and welcomed like family. I cannot say enough about the friendly staff/crew of the Islander, even those on the ships bridge. Our cabin was very comfortable and the additional glassed in terrace off our cabin consisting of a lounger, two chairs and a table made our accommodations seem much larger. Dining on the ship was very good with a selection of food that should have pleased anyone. In the morning a nice breakfast buffet was served and a menu of three entrees posted to select from for that evenings dinner. All sounded very good which made my choice hard. The waiters and bartenders learned our names by the very next day and quickly learned our certain preferences for various beverages and food items. The naturalists, Greg and Jose as well as our expedition leader Vanessa, who guided us all over the islands were a pleasure to be around. They were knowledgeable but never boring and it was easy to see that they really enjoyed their job. On Isla Santa Cruz we saw the giant tortoises, visited a place where we sampled and watched moonshine being made and had a very nice buffet lunch at a farm where afterwards we were able to walk among the numerous wild giant tortoises. I believe it was that night during which local entertainment was brought on board the Islander to dance and play the native instruments which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our last day of the cruise was spent on Genovesa Island where we were able to walk by numerous frigates and boobies with their little babies so close that you could have touched them. This was a perfect opportunity to get some good up close pictures. The planned activities for the passengers were also very appealing. I can now say I have jumped off ship into the ocean and have snorkeled among sharks and sea lions. Another nice on board feature was the assortment of good quality gift items offered for sale as well as T-shirts located by the reception desk. As we disembarked the ship on our last day it was really hard to say good bye to all the friendly staff and crew who at that point seemed more like friends and family. I would most certainly love to take another cruise on board the Islander. After returning to the Hotel Del Parque we were offered a tour of hotel grounds which were very impressive. There is an excellent restaurant, Casa Julian on the grounds which offers local cuisine and outdoor dining with a view of the Rio Daule River. My traveling companions and I chose to spend an extra two days in Guayaquil. There is so much to see that I strongly recommend doing so. The hotel may be a drive from downtown Guayaquil but the taxi ride was very inexpensive compared to what we would pay in the US. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
From the moment we arrived in Ecuador, the team at Quasar had us covered like it was a state visit. Every detail was coordinated for us, and we found ourselves in the magical Galapagos Islands in no time. Stepping onto the Evolution was ... Read More
From the moment we arrived in Ecuador, the team at Quasar had us covered like it was a state visit. Every detail was coordinated for us, and we found ourselves in the magical Galapagos Islands in no time. Stepping onto the Evolution was everything we hoped for as it was in excellent condition, clean and frankly looked like a 5-star floating boutique hotel (including a modern 'front desk'). The crew worked diligently 7x24 both in front and behind the scenes to provide us with an experience that can only be described as beyond perfect. The information was provided in good detail and in a timely fashion so that we could prepare for every day's adventures. The rooms were large and modern with modern lighting, great bathroom and great climate control. To keep the surprises coming, the meals and dining room kept delivering great cuisine every day. Our two guides were deeply experienced and knowledgable about the areas we went to and I think we saw every possible feature of this wonderland. While the islands themselves provide a great canvas to work with, the 'artists' at Quasar and the crew of the Evolution helped create a true vacation masterpiece for us. If I travel back to Galapagos (or any other place serviced by Quasar), they will be my first choice to host our family again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and ... Read More
We chose this particular trip because of the educational value and Lindblad Expeditions because we had such a wonderful experience on a previous cruise. The embarkation/ disembarkation went very smoothly. Someone met us at the airport and guided us to the hotel. All the tours, entrance fees and transfers were provided for us. Luggage tags, name tags and travel documents were mailed to us about 3 weeks prior to departure. We did have a little frustration with this as one person in our group had moved a few months earlier and although his address was changed with Lindblad, his documents still got sent to the old address. Fortunately, everything did finally arrive the week before departure. After this, the trip went as we had planned. This ship is very intimate with only maximum 47 guests. With 6 people in our group, we had 2 cabins with 3 single beds each. Most cabins sleep 2, so we didn't have any sitting area as the couch was the third bed but the main lounge area more than made up for that. The bathroom was very tight but sized for the small ship. The crew and service was very good. They bent over backwards to see that we were comfortable and had everything we needed. We made many new friends, some of whom actually live close enough that we may see them again. Open seating at meals made it really easy to visit with the other passengers, although we did not do this at meals as we had our 4 grandchildren with us. The Young Explorer program brought the kids together as a group to talk about their experiences and discuss the diversity of the wildlife. This cruise has lots of walking/hiking and enough water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding planned. Some of the guests even swam off the side of the ship! The wildlife was amazing...Blue footed Boobies, Sea Lions, Iguanas, and even a Galapagos Penguin. Learning about the other side of the world from a book is one thing but actually experiencing it is something altogether amazing. Due to the pristine nature and uniqueness of this area, tourist travel to the islands is very strictly regulated. There are actually 2 itineraries that Lindblad offers, so you would need to visit twice to see all the islands have to offer. All in all, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Best vacation ever!!!! This trip to the Galapagos islands was an amazing adventure. First we flew from NY to Quito Ecuador for a few days before our cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Once we flew into the Galapagos Islands, our tour ... Read More
Best vacation ever!!!! This trip to the Galapagos islands was an amazing adventure. First we flew from NY to Quito Ecuador for a few days before our cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Once we flew into the Galapagos Islands, our tour guides greeted us at the airport to take us to our yacht, The Evolution. The embarkation went very smooth. Once we were on the yacht, we were greeted by the friendly staff and crew. The ship was recently renovated and absolutely beautiful. The cabins were a decent size and were kept extremely clean during our stay. As for the food...I don't have one negative thing to say. The chef was absolutely talented and not one bad meal came out of the kitchen. They catered to any allergies and preferences we had. After every excursion we were greeted with snacks and drinks to hold us over till our next meal. There was a lot of shore excursions through out the trip. Usually there were 2 hikes and 2 water activities per day. Our naturalist guides were very good at explaining everything about the wildlife and ecosystems of the islands. They became our friends by the end of the trip. We traveled with quite a few children, the youngest was 2 and the oldest was 13. My children were 4 and 6. I thought there wouldn't be much for them to do but they were included in everything and enjoyed every part of the trip. My kids often ask when we can go back. We would definitely recommend Quasar to anyone looking to travel to Galapagos and would love to visit again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ... Read More
We just came back from our trip to the Galapagos Islands on Celebrities Xpedition and I loved every minute of it. I have traveled with Celebrity many times and their crew is always polite and have a smile on their face. However on this ship the crew is truly a happy group, when they smile it goes right to their eyes. They are extremely helpful and really intent on making sure everything is the way you want it. Food is good and they really try to give you different options but the menu has a lot of Galapagos foods. The naturalist that were on the board with us was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Unfortunately I started the cruise with asthma problems and the altitude in Quito made it very difficult breathing and I couldn't do the hikes but they made sure there was something for me to see and do. The main thing that I don't think you would get with another cruise line is that they really seriously care about their clients. My husband hurt his back really bad to where he couldn't move or feel his right leg. The doctor on board the ship sent him off ship to hospital in Santa Cruz. Celebrity made all arrangements to get him there, while we were there they never left us alone, after several hours and the staff had to go back to the boat they contacted a translator to be with us in the hospital the whole time. From there they made hotel arrangements and private transportation the whole time till we got on the plane home. I am so grateful for all the help they gave us during this trying time but also for the amazing time we had all week. It was a blast. I will say the weather was perfect for hiking but the water is very cold ...... but it was amazing.. Worth every penny we spent for this trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this ship because is was not too small, nor too large and it was a great choice. We were not able to tour San Cristobal Island before we left, but we were excited to start the cruise and didn't mind. The ships guides and ... Read More
We chose this ship because is was not too small, nor too large and it was a great choice. We were not able to tour San Cristobal Island before we left, but we were excited to start the cruise and didn't mind. The ships guides and crew take your bags from you at the airport and you find them next in your cabin. They had buses waiting to ferry us to the ship. Pangas: Okay, I was nervous. But the crew knows this and is safety-focused. By the last day, I was a panga expert. The rides are not comfortable between the exhaust and the sea-spray. But this an adventure in the Pacific, not a canoe trip down the creek. We did have one very rough night where the ship was rocking side to side and pitching stem to stern. I didn't sleep much that night. We went the next day to tour the bridge and the kind captain explained we had turned into the current. Further, this ship was designed to go around the tip of South America, so the current was not really an issue. And we wouldn't have another night like that. Food: The food on board is great. Quite a variety and a vegetarian option at each meal. Breakfast and lunch are buffets (eat the ceviche!). Dinner is ordered at lunch and brought to you by great dining room staff. Dinner food is pre-cooked and then stored in the steam tables they use for breakfast and lunch. We did have some overcooked fish, but it still tasted great. Schedule: This is not a ship where you party all night, mostly because you are exhausted. They wake you up at 600 or 630, breakfast is at 700/730 and you disembark by 830. The Galapagos only allows a certain number of people to be on each island a day and they can only stay for a limited time. Back onto the ship it is lunch time. You get a bit of rest, and then go off on your afternoon adventure. After your morning adventure, they greet you with juice and a snack. Some evenings they had a cocktail hour on the deck (BOGO cocktails, snacks, etc), a meeting to plan the next day, and then dinner was around 730. Activities: Each night before dinner, the staff brief you on what you will be doing and seeing the next day. Very helpful, attendance recommended. And they make it fun. They broke the passengers into groups of 10 or so. We got along well with everyone in our group. The tour guides were knowledgeable at the flora, fauna and history of the islands. Most were native Galapaguenos, all spoke English well. If you do not snorkel, or just want a break from the wet suit, I recommend the glass bottom boat. it was a great way to see fish. My favorite island was South Plaza, but really everyone one has something unique and fantastic. The shore excursions all involved walking but most were easy hikes with many stops for flora, fauna and fotos. One Espanola Island, the trail is very rocky, a walking stick is recommended. But the crew and by then, our fellow travelers, were very helpful. Two or our group and I had to visit the ship's doctor. Nothing major, but get it checked while you have access to medical care. She is a good doctor, respected our privacy and didn't judge our foolish wounds. I appreciated having her on board very much. We were late in the vacation season, so only a few kids on the ship. But the ship had special activities for the kids and they were having a great time running around in a pack. Tipping: On the last night, they have a photo show of your time on the ship (which they email to you later. Some of the best photos we have. Thanks Eddy!). They also give you a sheet with tipping guidelines for the crew, the dining staff, the tour guides. etc. They put 4 boxes at the purser's desk and you can drop your cash tips in there. Or you can put it on a charge card and fill out a form telling the purser how to divide it up. We also gave the guides sunscreen we didn't need any longer. Yes! I would do it again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
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
Just back from a wonderful week in the Galapagos Islands aboard La Pinta. It was a wonderful trip. The ship is perfect sized - large enough to accommodate more passengers (most ships this size do) but they keep it feeling small and ... Read More
Just back from a wonderful week in the Galapagos Islands aboard La Pinta. It was a wonderful trip. The ship is perfect sized - large enough to accommodate more passengers (most ships this size do) but they keep it feeling small and intimate. The cabins were much bigger than I (as a first time cruiser) expected and were very comfortable. The common spaces were generous and there were three separate spaces on board where all the passengers could meet at once (bar/lounge, the outside dining area and the inside dining area). Linens were clean, comfortable and plentiful. The ship itself was terrific. If the ship was terrific, the staff was even better. The staff to passenger ration was very high and we were pampered at every turn. Every time you were away for a meal or an excursion, you would come back to a tidy cabin. The wait staff was wonderful and Lois did an outstanding job watching over us with our many food allergies. Finally, the itinerary was perfect. We saw great sights and the naturalists were fantastic (especially Carlos). All five that we had exposure to on the trip were exceptionally knowledgeable and caring and flawlessly bi-lingual. The trip was everything we wanted and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend La Pinta. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We boarded the ship direct from the airport at Baltra. The embarkation went on without any problem, it was done well. The ship ( more like a big catamaran ) is a fit for purpose vessel. Any one joining this voyage must not expect ... Read More
We boarded the ship direct from the airport at Baltra. The embarkation went on without any problem, it was done well. The ship ( more like a big catamaran ) is a fit for purpose vessel. Any one joining this voyage must not expect the luxuries of huge cruise liners, the purpose is adventure and fascinating activities. The cabins are self contained, neat, clean and well maintained - everything worked in the cabin. Food is of good quality and more than sufficient, being a diabetic I had informed them earlier, they did cater for it. The activities were par excellence - hiking in the Galapagos mountains, snorkelling, kayaking, teaching photography and zodiac boat rides. The service was more than sufficient, cabins were cleaned at least twice on a daily basis, all the staff were very helpful and courteous. There were a lot of shore excursions everyday, twice daily. There was only one chance to go ashore in a port. We had a nine year old boy with us, parents have to take care of their children during all activities. He had a fascinating voyage, it was a new experience for him, he took part in all the activities. I have travelled many times with Lindblad and will positively go again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Our Galapagos cruise on the Grace (Quasar Expeditions) was somewhat disappointing. 13 passengers and a crew of 12 on a historic yacht (named for Princess Grace who honeymooned on it) sounded promising. And the itinerary, sites, and ... Read More
Our Galapagos cruise on the Grace (Quasar Expeditions) was somewhat disappointing. 13 passengers and a crew of 12 on a historic yacht (named for Princess Grace who honeymooned on it) sounded promising. And the itinerary, sites, and naturalist Rafa were great. Although elegant in a classic way, the yacht lacked amenities commonly seen on cruise ships such as TV, internet access, and any activities after 8:30 PM when it seemed the crew was interested in getting the passengers to bed. For a small number of passengers who bonded pretty well together it was ironic that the crew most directly involved day to day with passengers (the cruise director, waiter, and naturalist) never seemed to learn our names! The food, while excellent and bountiful for the most part, has to receive a downgrade because one night the majority of passengers developed moderate to severe gastrointestinal symtoms; an occurrence that the young cruise director attributed to a "virus"; a more classic presentation of a food-borne illness could not have occurred. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We were encouraged to join my sister and brother-in-law of their 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Galapagos. They were considering a much smaller ship, but after I saw Celebrity offered on of the biggest ships in the region I suggested ... Read More
We were encouraged to join my sister and brother-in-law of their 25th wedding anniversary trip to the Galapagos. They were considering a much smaller ship, but after I saw Celebrity offered on of the biggest ships in the region I suggested Celebrity and we joined them. We had been on their larger ship before in the Greek Islands. 1. We were immediately whisked from the airport in Quito into a van within 2 minutes and on our way to the wonderful Marriott ( very similar to the one I had stayed at in Palm springs). The hotel had a marvellous included large scale breakfast, and also a farewell dinner in their terrific Hacienda steak house. 2. Next day Quito city tour with guide and armed guard ( must be necessary) was very good, and included lunch at a local restaurant was top quality. 3. Pre-checked luggage at our hotel before heading off to the airport for their charter flight to the Galapagos , and short wait in a private lounge at the airport made life wonderful. The food was very good on the ship, lots of variety. Alcohol included, and we soon discovered if you asked the better bottle were kept below the bar in a cabinet. Bombay Saphire gin martinis! The nature walks and snorkels were wonderful. We are in our early 50's and did the harder (longer version) of all the walks. I did the snorkels from shore and saw tons of amazing fish, sea turtle etc. Did not do the deep water snorkels since I was not that comfortable. Saw tons of sea lions, crabs, birds, iguanas etc. Didn't disappoint in the amount of creatures we saw. They entertainment was basic but we met a lot of nice people and had dinner/drinks with them every evening. One night the naturalists put on a small music show, another night music in the lounge or karaoke . The overall experience was wonderful and the staff were very accommodating and friendly. A fabulous experience . Celebrity hit the spot. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
After carefully considering all options for visiting the Galapagos, including reading some of the not-so-stellar reviews of this cruise, I decided to give Silversea a try. I took my mom in July 2016 as a retirement gift. I must say that ... Read More
After carefully considering all options for visiting the Galapagos, including reading some of the not-so-stellar reviews of this cruise, I decided to give Silversea a try. I took my mom in July 2016 as a retirement gift. I must say that overall, we absolutely loved it! To reiterate, as many reviewers have commented, this is an expedition cruise. We’ve never sailed with Silversea before, so can’t compare to the level of service on their non-expedition cruises. That being said, the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel special, address any and all concerns and ensure you have a great time. For us, the service far exceeded our expectations. Most people don’t bother to even try and understand the logistics and planning that goes on behind the scenes to make these cruises a possibility. There are human beings working around the clock to make sure that all guests are properly taken care off. The expedition team carefully coordinates all excursions (hikes, zodiac tours, snorkeling, kayaking, etc.). From the moment we arrived in Quito, the transfers, hotel, optional tours and baggage handling were all seamless. The flight to Galapagos, after a brief stop in Guayaquil was smooth. After landing and clearing immigrations, we were quickly taken to a nearby pier to be transferred to the Silversea Galapagos via zodiac. After boarding, everyone we encountered was gracious, smiling and welcoming, despite spending the last few hours running around to get the ship ready for us. And so an amazing week began. Keep in mind, again, that is an expedition tour. If you want to see as much as possible, plan on waking at 6-6:30 each morning for a departure by zodiac around 7:30-8. Return to the ship for lunch (The Grill was amazing, but get there just before noon to secure a table). After lunch, a video or nap, and then another stop in the afternoon. Dinner is available at The Grill (reservation required, and often windy, but worth it) or downstairs in the main dining room (also no complaints). Our Butler, Danny, was especially wonderful. He went above and beyond to make us feel special. He brought us cake and sparking wine to celebrate my mom’s retirement, and set up a laser light show in our cabin! He asked us our preferences for the complimentary mini-bar and made sure it was always stocked. Waiters were all fantastic (although one in particular had some difficulty in understand English, especially compared to the others). Fernando especially comes to mind as being terrific. Keep in mind the butlers and wait staff rotate several weeks on and off, as do the naturalist guides. I could write a short novel about our travels, but overall I would definitely recommend this cruise. If you are realistic in your expectations of visiting a protected national park (with all the rules and regulations), you will be pleasantly surprised by the warm, knowledgeable and always enthusiastic service you will experience during your week in one of the most incredible places in the world! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I came back to Quito with my 8-year-old daughter, plus a bus-full of new friends yesterday afternoon, with our new Galapagos skin (red, tanned, and slightly peeled) and our Galapagos heart (purified, fulfilled, and hopeful). Now, sitting ... Read More
I came back to Quito with my 8-year-old daughter, plus a bus-full of new friends yesterday afternoon, with our new Galapagos skin (red, tanned, and slightly peeled) and our Galapagos heart (purified, fulfilled, and hopeful). Now, sitting in my room in JW Marriott, we are already missing "the Galapagos Grip", which we've enjoyed and trusted in the past 7 days of our voyage. The Galapagos is truly a wonderland. It's not that green, not that rich, not that convenient, but it's a place that makes you forget almost everything else, but to embrace the amazing beauty of nature, and the company of each other. We didn't get one single 8-hour sleep in the whole trip thanks to all the activities (shore excursion 2-3 times a day, daily briefing at 7:15pm, dinner at 7:30pm, then party at 9pm), but even my 8-year-old never complained, she always got off her bed as soon as I woke her up, because she knew that there were so much to see, and so much to enjoy. I'm sure other friends will chime in very soon, so I will just list some highlights from kids perspective: 1. Each island is unique in its own way, so you see all kinds of different landscapes in very short period of time, colorful sandy beaches (gold, white, red, green), volcanic surfaces, rocky terrain... 2. So many animals to encounter during shore hikes, zodiac rides, and snorkeling. Sea lions, birds, turtles,tropical fishes, giant tortoises, sharks, etc. It's like watching Animal Planet, no, it's like you are in Animal Planet. 3. Well-organized shore excursion activities, always with 2-3 options. My daughter signed up all our activities herself, she almost always choose option 1 (the more challenging ones), and she didn't miss one snorkeling (including deep-water snorkeling), and didn't miss one science talk and after dinner party. I didn't expect her to be this adventurous but she was fully motivated to absorb everything she can. 4. Super friendly crew members and super knowledgable and trust-worthy naturalists. Seems like everyone remembered our names and room number starting day one, so we really felt at home. The naturalists not only served as our guides, but also our protectors during the zodiac rides. I remember one afternoon we had free time in town for shopping, my daughter got a little bit nervous, but once we returned to the pier and met our naturalist, she relaxed right away. 5. High quality food, more than enough healthy options for both kids and adults. My daughter decided to spoil herself with Piña colada and potato chips every day, but that was after relatively healthy meals, and she is the Galapagos, so I controlled myself and didn't say anything. 6. Great friends. This probably can't be planned ahead, but we were lucky enough that 2 other families with wonderful kids were on board this time, and all the kids (8-14) were glued together after a short warm-up. They cartwheeled on the beach, spent hours on solving the puzzle together, and talked and giggled all the time. Quite often, I felt abandoned by my daughter, just kidding. :) Of course, I enjoyed mingling with adults too. Now that we have to pack again and spend another 12 hours to go home, before I wrap up I just want to say, it's all worth it. Galapagos and Celebrity will always have a special place in our hearts, and even though we don't know when yet, we surely will be back. Hopefully we will see some familiar faces then. P.S: The rating below (all 5-stars) and the "AMAZING [so much fun]" part were given by my daughter, who just woke up from a 10-hour long sleep. :) Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We cruise several times a year and we also travel with friends on a private yacht. The Evolution had the luxury of cruise ship with elegant bed linens, amazing service and crew, but the intimacy and flexibility of a private yacht...at a ... Read More
We cruise several times a year and we also travel with friends on a private yacht. The Evolution had the luxury of cruise ship with elegant bed linens, amazing service and crew, but the intimacy and flexibility of a private yacht...at a very affordable price! First I would caution anyone planning this once-in-a-lifetime trip to not be land-based. Day trips require many hours back and forth in small boats and only the ability to get to the most frequented islands. Also, it is a waste of your travel dollar to only spend 2-4 days on the boat or to cut the trip short for Machu Picchu or other add-ons. Plan 2 weeks if you want to go to the Peru, Amazon, or explore Ecuador. The latter is very reasonable and quite amazing in itself. Our group of 32 family, friends, and associates was not an easy one to organize or to please. Most are discerning travelers and many are budget-minded. We had diverse abilities, needs, and expectations—and everyone ended up with nothing but praise and also awe at this one-of-a-kind interaction with nature, science, and culture with very intense encounters with nature while feeling pampered and respected. (You can, of course, just book a single cabin or bring a family along.) One member of our group had a limited ability to walk due to recent knee surgeries and other problems. He fully expected to lounge on the boat while others enjoyed the creatures up close. Your crew determined that he would see and do almost as much as the others and created a exceptional plan where the ship’s captain and doctor went on every excursion with him to assist his walking and insure his safety. You arranged special panga rides to the prime spots so he could avoid walking too far or make difficult landings. This was so far above and beyond an expectation that not only did this gentleman have a fantastic time, we all reveled in his enjoyment—and noticed that his physical abilities improved with what turned out to be therapeutic! Our group included serious mountain climbers, expert divers, professional photographers, a marine biologist, experienced yachtsmen, many doctors, lawyers, PhDs in various fields, a writer, filmmaker, judge, editor, and policymakers—a very tough crowd! We also had two people with medically challenging diets. There was not a single complaint about the cabins, delicious meals, or even the demanding schedule. Not only was every need met—the crew intuited some before the request was made. (One guest prefers to drink iced tea and she brought her own mix. When the bartenders saw what she was doing, he brewed some fresh and served it to her as a surprise. Many of us started ordering it as well.) Of course we could rave about the amazing sightings of many varieties of whales, rare birds, undersea encounters in crystalline water, but another group might have a different—but surely as interesting—experience. However, the value of these was not just a list of species but the depth of the information and context that our naturalists conveyed. Also, it was because of their expertise in knowing where to go, the exact time of day, how to avoid other groups in the same location, which was food for the mind and soul as well as the immediacy of the uniqueness of the moment. First and foremost, though, I must praise the safety on this vessel. Getting off an on pangas in various sea conditions can be tricky and their system of three people assisting helped those in their 30s to late 70s to be confident. Plus they always had staff to lend a hand at sea, while snorkeling, or on land in difficult terrain to help many—including me—to have a “personal best” in terms of meeting physical challenges. Their system for handling various levels of snorkelers in open water was the best I’ve ever seen. I cannot praise the crew highly enough for their smarts, professionalism, and personal kindness. Plus, there were certain touches of comfort and luxury made the voyage extra special for me including icy towels after a hot excursion, those delicious and healthful tropical fruit smoothies, the always-fresh and interesting Ecuadorian cuisine, the warm Jacuzzi and cool beverages after a snorkel, the generous beach and spa towels, the wet suit assistance, the luxury linens, tasty snacks, yummy soups, and so much more! I cannot praise Quasar highly enough for its preparation, attention to detail, educational aspects, humor and fun, professionalism, and personal kindness from everyone we encountered. Highly recommended as not only the premier ship in the Galapagos, but one of the most reasonable! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Having just returned from our 10 day Quito and Galapagos experience, there are still visions of land and marine iguanas, blue-footed boobys and giant tortoises floating in our heads. What an experience! And Celebrity does it right. ... Read More
Having just returned from our 10 day Quito and Galapagos experience, there are still visions of land and marine iguanas, blue-footed boobys and giant tortoises floating in our heads. What an experience! And Celebrity does it right. We flew into Quito and were met by Celebrity staff who directed us to our bus and on to the Marriott hotel which was a very fine place to stay. Check-in of the group was amazingly simple and the hotel was comfortable. The tour on Saturday was fun and interesting. I would disagree with some who say that it is boring. The churches are beautiful, the bus ride is quite interesting, and the lunch was full of new foods to try. The setting at the restaurant was elegant. I also disagree with some who say it was not worth it about taking the trip after lunch to the Mitad del Mundo Park where you can stand on both sides of the equator. The day we visited there were puffy white clouds in the mountainous setting, the temperature was perfect, and it was nice to be set free to roam the park on our own. The colorful flags make it festive and even if it isn't really exactly on the equator, taking the photos was fun. To top the day on Saturday off, we ate at a great restaurant with fine service. When we left, the staff "clapped us out" which was a surprise and much appreciated. The first moments on the ship were a bit hurried. We were just a little late arriving and had to squeeze lunch, muster, snorkel gear hand-outs, explanation of the next day's tours and dinner into a short period of time. We were all so excited that it didn't matter. The islands are everything they say they are. We saw mating dances and all the expected animals except an albatross. Each day we thought it was the "best day" and then the next day was even better. The tours are varied, the naturalists are outstanding and the Zodiac drivers are wonderfully skilled. When doing Zodiac tours along cliffs, they would always maneuver the Zodiac from side to side so that both sides of the Zodiac could take good photos. We totally enjoyed the food. The fish was always very good and the Filet Mignons were done right for us every time. Don't miss the night they serve the Celebrity "Signature Filet." And don't miss doing one of the dinners on deck. At lunch and dinner the desserts were especially nice. My 12-year old granddaughter and I tried just about every sweet thing offered on the ship. We were served lobster twice: once in the dining room for dinner and once at the lunch time Barbecue. We did not encounter either a bee problem or a mosquito problem, but time of year may have something to do with that. Not many people have mentioned the night activities. On our ship very few people participated, but we had fun at Crossing the Equator Night, Kareoke Night, and the night when the Naturalists sang to us. We also had a Trivia night which tested our skills at remembering all we had learned. One night we went to the top deck and the Cruise Director pointed out the constellations, including the Southern Cross which we had never seen before. On the last day the trip to Darwin's Research Center was very interesting. None of the buildings were open so we could not visit the exhibits, but walking in the outdoors and seeing so many giant tortoises made the day one of my favorites. The town visit was good for shopping if that was your inclination. We stopped for iced coffee at a nice place along the main route and enjoyed a shady spot where we could do some people watching. Don't miss the last full day's activities that include the tree planting, lunch, and tortoises in the wild. Others have said to skip it, but I have to say, it was one of my favorites on the trip. The tree planting is a little hokey but I have great pictures of my family in big rubber boots planting fast growing trees. The lunch is served in an open air restaurant and then dancers entertain you for a short while before you put those rubber boots back on and go out to see more giant tortoises. We saw at least 10 on that trip, many in the muddy area and many just sitting in the woods. We departed the ship the day after the April 16 earthquake hit Ecuador. The Xpedition staff had family concerns but all were found to be safe with much relief. Our plane was delayed in leaving and we missed shopping at the market in Quito, but we were able to go to a nice art store where some prices were high but there were a few items in the $15-$20 range. The quality of items there was good. The gift items in the Marriott shop are authentically Ecuadorian and the prices there are reasonable if you miss other opportunities to shop. Our last dinner in Quito at the Hacienda restaurant (included) was probably the best on the trip. If you have any inclination to do this trip, do it with Celebrity. You are taken care of at every step along the way. The staff is charming, knowledgeable and always helpful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
To be clear, I'm not an experienced cruiser (only one prior cruise 25 years ago, with no plans to sail today's giant modern ships), and we don't fit the typical demographic—I'm a 52-year-old man traveling with my ... Read More
To be clear, I'm not an experienced cruiser (only one prior cruise 25 years ago, with no plans to sail today's giant modern ships), and we don't fit the typical demographic—I'm a 52-year-old man traveling with my 18-year-old daughter. We wanted to see the Galapagos, and we chose the Xpedition not for the food or the accommodations, but because it seemed like the easiest most trouble-free and comprehensive way to do so. And the trip totally lived up to our expectations. We went for the wildlife, and the Galapagos didn't disappoint. Snorkeling with sea lions and penguins and sea turtles, carefully stepping around the iguanas, and photo-bombing boobies and giant tortoises. And of course, more sea lions and iguanas. Everywhere. The landscape was spectacular, the weather a welcome relief from our Seattle December, and I don't think there was a species we expected to see that we didn't get to see up close, with the exception of the flamingos, which we saw from a distance. It's hard to believe from the online reviews, but the Galapagos experience is not oversold. The wildlife is so abundant and so approachable that at times it felt like we were in the middle of an elaborately constructed zoo, going from exhibit to exhibit. If you are a comfortable swimmer, don't be scared away from the "advanced only" deep water snorkels—there's nothing difficult about them, and the zodiacs are quick to pick you up if you want to get out. I hadn't snorkeled in more than 30 years, and my daughter had never snorkeled at all. No problems. And if you are comfortable snorkeling, don't be afraid to go without a wetsuit. Thanks to El Nino, the water was very warm last week—over 80 degrees at all the sites—and I regret the extra heat and buoyancy the wet suit gave me on the deep snorkels. I went without on the beach snorkels, and was much more comfortable and mobile. Bring a rash guard if you're afraid of jelly fish (never saw any) or you want to protect from the sun. But for me, the wetsuit shorties they provided were totally unnecessary. One tip about all else: do this while you're still young and fit enough to enjoy all the excursions! My daughter and I did every long option and every snorkel, and while individually they weren't overtaxing, combined they were exhausting. We napped every day. And took multiple showers. On some of the hikes, the footing is very uneven (even on the short options), so if you have trouble walking, and/or you don't swim, you can't enjoy the full experience. On our last deep water snorkel (the second of the day) a sea lion came out to play with us. For my daughter, that was the highlight of the trip. As for the ship itself, it was fine. Our stateroom and the public areas were comfortable if not fancy, and the food and drinks are good and plentiful, though not fine dining. The service was always unfailingly friendly and excellent, but if you expect the high price tag to buy you a luxury cruise, this isn't it. You are paying for a week of excursions throughout the Galapagos (2 to 3 a day), in groups of no more than 16, guided by well-educated and experienced Galapagos Park certified naturalists. That's why Xpedition (and to be fair, all the ships) are so expensive. Also, remember that this is a tiny vessel by modern cruise ship standards, so yes, the Xpedition rocks. Almost always. And sometimes rather severely. We both got queazy at times, and my daughter needed dramamine. If you are prone to sea sickness, be forewarned. As for the passenger demographics, at 18 my daughter was the ship baby, although there were a handful of other young adults traveling with family for her to share the time. The median age was almost certainly over 60, so I felt youngish by comparison. I would not recommend this for young children, but relatively resilient pre-teens should be fine. Also, pack light and casual. Almost nobody dresses up, and the laundry services are relatively inexpensive if you need to wash a few things. We chose the 10-day package with 2 nights before and 1 night after in Quito, if only to make the trip as painless as possible. The JW Marriott is fine (the breakfast buffet is excellent) and the city/equator tour is okay if you're into that sort of thing. What Celebrity delivered on above all else was making the trip entirely painless and worry free from the moment they pick you up at the airport to the moment they drop you off. The logistics are impressive, and everything went off on time and without a hitch. Had I to do it again (and the scheduling had worked out) I might have flown in a couple more days early and visited the cloud forest, but by the time we disembarked the ship we were ready to go home, so I don't regret not tacking on Machu Pichu. This was not a trip I could easily afford, but I have to say it was worth the money, and I'm glad I did it while I was still relatively young. At first, Xpedition looks more expensive than some of the other options, but when you factor in the all-inclusive nature of the package, it really isn't, and what extra money we spent bought us a lot of peace of mind. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This review concerns the 5 day/4 night Eastern Galápagos Islands cruise on the MV Santa Cruz, operated by Metropolitan Touring, through which you can book directly. I think I would use the term expedition, as opposed to cruise, as this is ... Read More
This review concerns the 5 day/4 night Eastern Galápagos Islands cruise on the MV Santa Cruz, operated by Metropolitan Touring, through which you can book directly. I think I would use the term expedition, as opposed to cruise, as this is a fulfilling, active adventure that is inclusive of all excursions. We opted for this shorter itinerary so that our children (ages 11/14/16) would remain engaged. Frankly we saw most of the animals that we would have seen on a longer cruise (with a few exceptions), but I'd highly suggest doing your homework on itinerary and time of year to ensure that you are visiting the islands of most interest to you. Another important factor to consider is the size of the boat. The Santa Cruz is one of the largest ships navigating in the Galápagos with a passenger capacity of 90. It never felt overcrowded whatsoever, but was still SIGNIFICANTLY rockier than a larger cruise ship. So again, know your preferences. A quick note regarding passengers...as a family, we were by far in the minority. My estimation is that near 80% of fellow passengers were aged 50-70s. That said, we felt completely welcome and not at all uncomfortable, which I note because that isn't always the case with an older demographic. About embarkation...Embarkation in San Cristobal, handled entirely by Metropolitan Touring, was absolutely seamless, from directions given at Quito airport all the way to being loaded onto the Santa Cruz via zodiacs. There were short wait times and helpful employees as we first arrived on the boat, at which juncture we had a bit of time to orient ourselves to our cabins (more about cabins below), had a quick muster drill and then a buffet lunch (more about food below). Thereafter we had a wonderfully comprehensive, informative orientation to the boat, as well as the excursions, during which time our luggage was delivered to our cabins. After a quick unpack and change, we were on a zodiac boat headed out on our first excursion by 4pm. Excursion to Punta Pitt...Our first excursion, which commenced with a tricky boat-to-zodiac transfer with the help of very adept staff members, brought us to Punta Rock (a rocky outcropping where gulls, frigates and boobies roosted) and then Punta Pitt (island of San Cristobal) where we wet-landed (i.e. we swung our legs over the side of the boat and exited with feet FULLY immersed through shallow water) and were greeted by sea lions and their pups lounging on the beach. The zodiac ride was pretty choppy, but this was not the case throughout the trip. We enjoyed a leisurely 2-hour hike (walk) which I would describe as easy, at a slow pace, with the occasional steeper incline/descent. Animals seen in addition to the birds on Punta Rock: sea lions, boobie chicks and adults (red footed, blue footed and Nazca), and lizards. Excursion to Santa Fe...After a very rocky (and I mean rocky!) overnight, we started the day with another wet landing to begin a 1.5 hour walk that was again fairly easy, although it did involve maneuvering over stable lava rocks for much of the way. We spent a lovely time ashore observing lots of sea lions on the beach; spotting lizards and finches; and also finding several specimens of a land iguana endemic to Santa Fe. Mid-morning, half our group went deep-water snorkeling (from a boat, as opposed to beach entry), where they frolicked with sea lions and observed lots of fish; the other half enjoyed a glass bottom boat ride (note: there are often "tamer" options offered for the less adventurous or those who prefer a less strenuous activity). Note that all snorkel gear, including shorty wetsuits which we were happy to have in August, can be rented on the boat. Excursion to South Plaza...After lunch, we arrived at South Plaza island, making a dry landing for a late afternoon walk. Again, nothing strenuous with occasional volcanic stones with which to contend. Animals seen: colorful crabs, marine iguanas, sea lions, land iguanas, lizards. Excursion to Santa Cruz...entire day post breakfast spent off boat. Morning visit to Charles Darwin Research Station where we gained a deeper appreciation for the conservation efforts being made on behalf of the giant land tortoises on Galápagos. Some free time allowed in town for shopping etc. before doing a bike ride in the highlands of the island. A word of warning: this bike ride IS NOT easy. We felt the information provided was inaccurate in terms of distance and difficulty. The 2-mile up-and-down route was quite arduous and the quality of the rental bikes so-so, so I wouldn't have done it had I known. The bike trip ended at a sugar cane/coffee farm where you could tour the facilities and sample/buy the goods. We were transported to lunch at a local restaurant where we had free time to relax, swim (it was a bit cool) or play games (pool, soccer, cards). After lunch we visited a private ranch that had free roaming land tortoises. It is touted as seeing the creatures in the wild, but it isn't a true wilderness trek, rather is more like a small privately-run tourist attraction. I felt it was a bit contrived, boasting of a lava tube on the property, alongside a snack bar and souvenir shack. One word of recommendation: WEAR THE FREE BOOTS! It was muddy even though it wasn't raining and you need them. Trust me. Excursion to Española...the rockiest walk thus far, but not too taxing otherwise (2.5 hour). Rewarded by seeing many animals: a marine iguana endemic to Española, waved albatross, blue footed boobies, crabs, sea lions (including a newborn pup with its mother, amazing). The afternoon was spent at a beach on the other side of this island, where you had the opportunity to snorkel. The beach entry snorkeling offered literally no sea life viewing, but there was a deeper water option near a rocky outcropping where snorkelers saw fish, turtles, and sharks. Oh yes and the beachgoers were treated to a far off peak at a humpback whale or 2 making their way in the distance. About the food...breakfast and lunch were served buffet style with a multitude of options, from vegetarian to carnivore to pescatarian. Dinner is a multi-course, served affair that you order at lunch. Lovely, attentive service on the part of the dining room staff, with the exception of drink service. We were never quite sure whether we should ask our waiter or go directly to the bar for our drinks, to say nothing of the fact that the Darwin Elite Level includes free soft drinks and we never heard much about it. It seemed that the onus was on us to take advantage of that part of the offer, giving us the impression they were happily saving money by not bringing it up. About the cabins...Our family of 5 occupied 2 side-by-side cabins on the Darwin Elite Level, both good sized doubles with 2 twin beds, one of which had a pullout sofa bed probably best suited to a child or small guest. Cabins had spotless floors, good quality linens, fabulous floor-to-ceiling window, efficient temperature control, and good overhead and task lighting. A bit more attention to detail when dusting is needed, especially in harder to reach areas (interior of drawers, crevices, etc.). Although there was ample storage in wardrobe and under beds, you might have a challenge if you wanted to unpack and store all your clothing. Safe provided and used, as rooms are left unlocked and although safes were not large enough for your tablets/laptops, security was absolutely not a concern. Bathrooms were quite clean, although showing a tiny bit of wear. There was also a pretty gassy sewage smell emanating from the drains in general, which you could not smell if you closed the door. Plenty of towels, hair dryer available, and shampoo/hair conditioner/shower gel provided. No body lotion. Stewards did a wonderful job with refreshing towels, turn down service and general timely housekeeping. About the Guides...it is very hard for me to write this but unfortunately I found some of the naturalists, the guides who led the small groups on their excursions, disappointing and somewhat lackluster. It wasn't for lack of information or expertise: they were extremely knowledgeable about the animals and the islands, but what they lacked was passion. Some seemed pretty disinterested, like they were going through the motions of any old job. Our assigned guide also played the role of overseeing the guide team. While he was engaging, excited and quite compelling when he talked to the entire boat during lectures/info sessions, he had absolutely no interest in connecting with us. He led us on walks, fed us facts and disinterestedly answered our questions. Frankly it made me disgruntled when I was called upon at the end of the trip to tip. The 2 absolute standouts were MariCarmen and Edison. Each had a warm and welcoming affect which really set them apart from the rest of the naturalist staff. The saving grace about being expected to tip so much was that the rest of the ship's staff was simply wonderful. From the waitstaff to the zodiac drivers, from the hotel manager Pilar to the stewards, from the pursor Lupita to the barmen, every last one of these folks went out of their way to improve our experience. About Disembarkation...as anticipated, the crew was informative before/during and the process went smoothly. The only complaint would be that we were expected to vacate our cabins by 8am, but did not leave the Santa Cruz until 10am. Of course this allowed for the crew to start preparing for the next group of boarding guests, but just was a long wait in the lounge for those of us ready to continue on our travels. Assuming the ship specifications and the itinerary met your expectations, I can wholeheartedly recommend the MV Santa Cruz. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015

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