La Pinta's combination observation lounge-lecture room-bar features 270 degrees of panoramic windows, a spotting scope and an eager barman ready to dole out pisco sours (minus the raw egg white, which tops the traditional version of the frothy drink), blue margaritas and Club Premiums (Ecuadorian pilsner). Spinnable blue chairs are clustered around twin pull-down projection screens used for multimedia presentations and next-day briefings, which precede dinner each night. The majority of drinks range from about $2.50 for a soda to $4 for a beer to $10 for a cocktail. (Passengers settle the bill at the end of the cruise.) The space also features one of two TV's on the ship. (The other is in the lobby.) Both scroll through hi-res wildlife pictures and a spreadsheet of the day's schedule.
Two Web-ready computer terminals and the self-service coffee machine are set up in an adjacent tiny "Expedition Library," which features a number of titles from Darwin, on Darwin and about Darwin's discoveries. The spines also reveal recommended Galapagos-related reading (memoirs, mysteries), nature photo-filled books, tomes on South America and a handful of left-behind pulp paperbacks. Wi-Fi, available in the library and lecture room, is $40 for unlimited use on a weeklong cruise and $20 for both the three- and four-nighters. Connection can be spotty, but that's perfectly understandable.
La Pinta's lobby houses a candy jar, seasickness pill goodie basket and signup sheets for deep-water snorkeling, panga rides and glass-bottom boat trips (for the non-snorkelers). The space also features a small gift shop, offering a selection of necessaries -- sunglasses with strap, toothbrushes, sun block, single-use underwater camera , aloe -- plus a bit of apropos kitsch ("I Love Boobies" T-shirts).
Should you get motion sickness -- and the most swaying is typically felt in August, September and October, say the naturalists -- there is a doctor onboard. His small examination room is located adjacent to the lobby. Passengers who've been bitten in half by a bull sea lion (the so-called beachmasters) will be out of luck, but the doc can offer creams for wasp stings, pills for gastro- and virus-related ailments and something slightly acidic for the occasional jelly fish-related issue. Achievable onboard medical care is included in the price of the cruise.
The top deck houses La Pinta's four pangas (and a crane to deliver them to the water), a glass-bottom boat and five tandem kayaks. Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel and fin) and rented wetsuits ($30 for the week; some tour operators who sell Metropolitan cruises include this in the price) are initially doled out there. Nearby is the bridge, which is open to passengers any time, apart from when the ship is maneuvering in or out of port. The captain makes regular appearances throughout the cruise, and he (or anyone else manning the bridge) is happy to talk ship.
It's not a public room, per se, but Deck 1 aft features a pull-out platform, which typically serves as one of two panga launch points or, very occasionally, a swim-off dock. (A pangero keeps watch during the designated cool-off times.) This is also where passenger wetsuits, sandals and snorkel gear hang out to dry. Finally, there's a single clothes dryer, which is free to use and shared among passengers and crew.