Arrival Quito: We arrived late at night and there is a Silversea hospitality desk at the JW Marriott. We were told to report the next morning between 8 and 10am for a covid test provided by Silversea in the business center at the hotel. Let me just say that for the four of us travelling together and many other guests, the whole covid testing was the most stressful part of the trip. Rules kept changing before we left and although Quito only required a vaccination certificate, we knew the Galapagos required a negative pcr test. Some information said 72 hours and some said 96 hours. We got ours done at CVS on Wednesday before we left on Thursday and were very worried we wouldn’t get the results in time. We did but were disappointed when we were never asked for them! After all that angst! The JW Marriott is a lovely hotel and breakfast was provided by Silversea. We walked around a little and went to the Carolina Park nearby to get some fresh air. Masks are required everywhere in Ecuador – both inside and outside. I was the only one who had trouble with the altitude in our little group of four, but other people I chatted with did have some trouble with it too. I had a headache and some nausea and dizziness. I took Tylenol and it helped some. We did the Quito by night tour and as the weather was good, it was mostly a walking tour. As the hotel is in the new part of Quito and the tour is in the old town it is worth doing. Be sure to check with the tour guide what you can and cannot buy along the way as the Galapagos has strict rules about when can be brought in. Example – there was a street vendor selling cute paintings but they were done on sheep skin so that was a no no. Same for colored pencils as they are deemed to be organice. The next morning we were taken to the airport to fly to the Galapagos. There is a stop in Guayaquil en route and you stay on the plane. On arrival in San Christobel we were met by the Silver Origin guides and taken directly to the pier where we boarded the zodiacs to get to the ship. They take your suitcases directly to the ship and you take your hand luggage with you on the zodiac to the ship. We went directly to lunch and then afterwards to our cabins. We were in a Horizon Balcony superior cabin and our friends were in the Classic Verandah. We loved the openness of the cabin and there is plenty of storage and hanging space. The crew all wore masks, and for the guests they were optional. As there were only 58 of us on board, I think we all felt comfortable enough not wearing them having had vaccinations and covid tests. We did have to wear them if we went into a town where there were other locals. The guests were almost all American.
There is a complimentary backpack and water bottle provided, along with ponchos (which we only discovered in the top of the closet on the second to last day!). You will also be given the snorkel and mask you used all week as a gift. They provide wet suits and flippers and a bag which is hung up on Deck 3 when you come back from snorkeling. As I am not a great swimmer, they gave me a lovely little inflatable vest I could wear and I loved not being able to worry about staying afloat and trying to look at things!
First and foremost, this is an expedition not a cruise. We have never done anything like this before and we embraced it fully. We chose to have breakfast in our room almost every morning as the first expeditions usually left at 7.30. I have every single daily chronicle and would be happy to scan them into my PC here and email them to you or post them in this thread. If you are going on this trip, it will be challenging and exhausting but oh so worth it! The naturalists are passionate and their knowledge extensive. There are lectures during the day and before dinner and I encourage you to go to them. They are only 30 minutes and well worth it. We learned so much. There is also a briefing on the next day’s activities with a slide show showing the terrain so you know exactly what to expect and what to wear. It isn’t that the hikes and nature walks are long, but the terrain is sometimes very challenging. They key is to look carefully where to plant your feet and take small steps. The temperatures were lovely – warmer than we thought it was going to be. Lower 70’s. The water the first day for snorkeling was rough and a bit cold and then we moved closer to shore and it was better. When I first jumped in it took my breath away but then we live in Florida and the water is very warm! Having snorkeled in French Polynesia which is magical, this is a little different. We did see lots of things though and I am glad I participated.
We so enjoyed the Horizon Balcony cabin. We have always had a balcony with sliding doors so this was unique. The balcony part could be partitioned off from the cabin with curtains but we never needed to do that. There were also curtains across the outside windows. Both the horizontal window and curtains are electrically controlled. There is ample storage in the cabin. The bathroom has a lovely big sink and an RO water filter in a separate little sink. Our cabin steward was just a phone call away from anything we needed.