Friday, January 6, 2012

Galapagos Islands... the cruise!

Just to give you a little information on the cruise itself, this itinerary was a little different than most other cruise itineraries… we made two stops almost every day.  On shore, we had excursions led by the Naturalist Guides, they were great, very informative.
Each night before dinner the Cruise Director would give a talk about the stops the following day.  After the talk we would sign up for our excursions… usually called “Long Walk” or “Short Walk”.  I signed up for all the long walks, except for one.  I wanted to try out one short walk, since I was there for work and should be experiencing everything.
The long walks were generally three hours in length and were on varied terrain… sand, gravel, rocks, boulders, stairs. 

I saw people of all ages and physical ability on the long walks.  The ship provided walking sticks which I found helpful at a couple of the stops.  The short walks were about two hours long, were usually done on flat, even terrain or were zodiac rides around the island looking for animals from the water. 
All excursions are included in the cruise.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we took a zodiac from the ship to the island each day.
Sometimes they were dry landings where we could step right onto a pier:

And sometimes there were water landings, where we jumped off the zodiac into the shallow water:
 Both were manageable and the guides were always there to help.
Snorkeling was also available at some of the islands.  The ship provided all the gear and they would let us know when to bring it ashore for snorkeling from the beach after the walks. 
Since the ship only holds 94 passengers, I wasn’t sure if I would be bored on a small ship.  I was not bored for a minute, it was really fun to experience small ship cruising.  It was very casual, so no formal nights or anything like that, which I loved.
my stateroom was small, but I had plenty of room
With only 94 guests the ship did not have what I call the “Ding” machine when you exit/enter the ship.  Accounting for guests before sailing was done manually…. We would need to check off our name on the list the Cruise Director provided at the entrance to the ship.
Definitely a laid back atmosphere.
A few of the islands in Galapagos are inhabited, so there are shops, restaurants, schools, etc.  Totally normal.  On the last day of the cruise we were in Puerto Ayora all day and a co-worker from the Quito flew out there to show me two of the social responsibility projects our company has set up there.  When getting a contract to sail in the Galapagos, it is expected the company also do something to help out the community as well.  We have set up a greenhouse and partnered with the American Red Cross to set up a hospital, both located in Puerto Ayora.  
It was really interesting to be able to visit both of these places.
Well I guess that about sums up my trip.  It really was a once in a lifetime experience and would encourage anyone to visit this amazing islands!

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