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!
We had the largest cabin: the master suite with a comfy queen bed and luxury linens. The bath was larger than on most mega ships and had a door that opened out onto the deck. It was quiet and just behind the bar and main outdoor seating area. Perfect location! However, our group of 32 people and we were all satisfied with our cabin choices. Most said they were larger and better appointed than expected.