We just returned from a 7 night cruise in the Galapagos Islands aboard the Evolution. Although this cruise was completely different from most of the reviews I've read on the Cruise Critic website, it's certainly worth praise and an exceptional review. Quasar Expeditions hosted the trip aboard our 32 passenger yacht and nothing could have been better! Each day was filled with a friendly wake up call to a delicious and hardy breakfast before boarding the panga (zodiac) for an early morning hike. We repositioned before lunch, or had another panga ride to our snorkel spot for the day, were greeted by the amazing staff of the Evolution with snacks in the jacuzzi after our underwater adventure, shared another amazing meal at lunch (including desert every day) then off to another exciting little island for our late afternoon hike. Early evening began with our Naturalist's briefing and review of our day's adventures including a recap of the wildlife and geological formations we visited during the day. The guides reinforced our knowledge and experiences of the day with a slide show, answered all our questions, and reviewed our itinerary for the following day. Dinner and wine (and another great desert) rounded out the day, or we finished up in the lounge with an after-dinner drink and discussion.
This is a cruise for those who are active, interested in nature, and ready to immerse themselves in the Galapagos. The open air design of the Evolution is perfect to explore the islands, and the small size of the yacht makes each landing and snorkel experience feel as though you are the only people in the world. The islands are so isolated and special, I can't imagine sharing them with a huge group of people. The appointments aboard the Evolution are those of a first-class hotel, so while spending your days on lava fields and swimming with the sea turtles or sharks, you return to luxury and pampering by the staff. It was absolutely amazing!
A note about our guides. Rafael Pesantes and Samuel Quiroz, both Level III Naturalist Guides, were fantastic! Rafa's love of the islands and the wildlife was contagious as he described the flight or breeding patterns of the blue footed boobies, or explained the evolutionary adaptations of the marine iguana. Sam guided up step by step through the volcanic creation and growth of the islands. They patiently answered all our questions in brief or in detail (not easy to do with a group of geneticists on board). More importantly, we had such fun learning and exploring and each day was filled with more wonders than the day before.