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!
The cabin was a good size with two twin beds. It really was only for sleeping as when we were awake, we were on the islands, in the dining room, in the lounge or on deck. The bathroom is not large and we did have some space issues. But it was sufficient for what we needed.