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Trip Report Galapagos Cruise Trip Report

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I just returned from a three week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. This trip report will be specific to the 8-day Galapgos cruise, I may write separately about other portions of our trip.

We booked the Athala (Haugan Cruises) Luxury Catamaran, supposedly built in 2007. The ship looked much older to us, and not very luxurious, and we wondered if they substituted another ship (our iterinary just said "Athala", while it was actually the "Athala II"). While we had a great time in the Galapagos, the cruise ship and crew did not live up to the "luxury" billing (or price). I have done a number of first class and luxury river cruises plus Halong Bay Vietnam, and this ship didn't compare.

The cabins were pretty basic. One large bed (or two), one nightstand, and a wardrobe with some drawers and space for hanging clothes (very few hangars provided). The furniture was plain. Only two pillows provided, not conducive to sitting up in bed to read, and there were no chairs in the cabin for sitting. The bathroom was very basic as well. We did have a small balcony, useful mostly for hanging bathing suits to dry. The upper deck cabins had no balcony.

The food was mediocre. All meals were served buffet style, nothing was served to the table except soup at some meals. Even beverages were not offered, only water was provided (even though soft drinks are supposedly included). If you wanted something else you had to flag down someone to request it. The food was mostly overcooked, the beef was tough, the fish was dry. The best two meals were the 2 barbeque lunches on deck, those were good but the other meals were not. Little variety was offered at breakfast - you could get an omelet or fried eggs every day, plus cereal and fruit. Something like french toast, crepes, quiche would have been a nice change.

The bar was almost never open, so our bar tab was very modest since we could never find anyone to order a drink. In fact, we and the other passengers eventually starting helping ourselves to the soft drinks in the refrigerator behind the bar since no one was available to serve us. The jacuzzi by the bar likewise was never open. I believe it was filled once during our 8 day cruise, according to other passengers (but I never saw it).

Naturalist guide: There was only one guide for 16 passengers, which meant when you were touring in a panga (dinghy), half the passengers had no guide at all. The pangas did not generally stay together. There should have been a second guide or assistant guide. The driver of the second panga did not even speak english.

Of course we had a great time and saw lots of animals & birds, even had some young sea lions come up to us on the beach and sniff our hands like dogs! Even though this trip was 'off season', we saw blue footed boobies dancing, and mating, and some with eggs, frigate birds with inflated red pouches, albatross courting displays (Espanola only), etc.We snorkeled with rays, sea turtles, penguins.

Our itinerary took us to more remote islands/locations where there were few other ships. However we didn't see sharks, dolphis or whales, as we heard people on other boats did. Our captain had no patience for stopping to see whales apparently, we did see whales spouting in the distance twice and told the crew, but no deviation in course was made for us to get a closer look.

Overall, we loved the Galapagos trip but were somewhat disappointed with the ship,food and crew.

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