Alaska or Galagpagos - Family of 4

Apr 23rd, 2017, 03:20 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Alaska or Galagpagos - Family of 4

Hello - We are a family of 4 looking to piece together a trip in mid June. Considering the Galapagos or Alaska for mid June 2017...both are on the bucket list. The kids are 12 & 14 and have never been on a cruise before. One is shy the other is more social. We would spend most of our time together not looking to ditch the kids in a camp or ranger program.

What are the best cruise lines or tours for these places? Looking for a 6 - 8 day experience but could stretch that a little. Our budget is flexible. Meaning my husband says just book the best you can get and I'm way more practical. I am hoping for some deals since it is close to departure.

Have you gone to either place with your kids? What were the pros/cons? I am concerned that an Alaska cruise may be geared to an older generation but that may be an outdated stereotype.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 05:24 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,506
If your kids enjoy seeing wildlife the Galapagos makes an excellent choice. They'll get to see all kinds - sea lions, seals, penguins, iguanas, turtles, birds of every description, and much much more - all up close and personal. The animals come within a foot or two as they have no fear of humans. The only restriction is you cannot touch the animals. If they like snorkeling there are plenty of places to do that and they'll probably encounter sea lions swimming along with them not more than a foot or two away.

We sailed Celebrity (96 passengers) but you can have you choice of small yachts with 8 to 16 people, larger boats that hold 16 to 32 passengers and small ships that hold 32 to 96 passengers. The reason the groups are divisible by 16 is that's the maximum number (set by law) that can be in a "guided group" at any one time. The small groups give you very personal attention by your "naturalist/guide".

Tours generally last a week and you'll go on at least 2 excursions every day. Prices vary depending on size of boat and whether you choose a bare bones charter or luxury cruise.

Start your research here: https://www.galapagosislands.com/cruises/ - then google "Galapagos cruise for tons of information.

I haven't cruise Alaska so I can comment on whether your kids will enjoy that but I can tell you the youngsters (who looked to be the same age as yours) that we encountered on our cruise through the Galapagos were having a ball. It's a great "family adventure".
RoamsAround is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 07:03 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Thanks RoamsAround!
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 10:11 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,554
Not having children or knowing yours, I can't advise, but I enjoyed both trips.

Do you know if your children get seasick? The Galapagos waters can be rough, although they try to do the worst stretches at night, that isn't always the case. We had college age teens on our small boat, the Angelito.

I think June tends to be the transition to the overcast, colder water conditions in the Galapagos, but it still isn't 'cold'. I went at the end of May on the Itinerary A. I would try to allow for an 8 day cruise, so you really need about 10 days with transfers in. The last day just gets you back to Quito in the morning.

Angelito is a small boat with 16 passengers, although it may not be full. I was lucky that the owner's wife, Maya, was our guide.

You can book Angelito directly with Cometa Travel, they are very easy to communicate with. Travel agents also work with them if you prefer that route.

http://www.angelitogalapagos.com/web/islands.php?c=172
mlgb is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 04:44 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Thanks mlgb.....3 out of the 4 of us have gotten sea sick on smaller boats....we tend to do OK if the boat is moving.....an anchored rocking boat is another story. Good thing to consider.
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 09:46 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
Not sure if you have considered the cost factor. One is definitely a whole lot more expensive than the other one. And the Galapagos is becoming even more expensive.

For Alaskan cruise, the attraction is the natural beauty of the fjords, glaciers and mountains. Add in some wildlife and a relaxing environment on a cruise ship makes for a relaxing and enjoyable time. Physical fitness or physical activities are optional.

As to the Galapagos, I wouldn't really classify it a cruise. It is more like an adventure. There are a whole lot more physical activities and zero entertainment in Galapagos. I wouldn't call my trip to the Galapagos a relaxing journey. We are up at 6 am, off the ship by 8 daily for all kinds of physical activities. You will see and experience things that you will not see elsewhere.

If I have to make a choice, it will always be Galapagos hands down, if you have not been to either one.

If you are interested in reading through some trip reports posted here on the Galapagos and Alaska before you decide, here are the links.

http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...apagos.cfm?160

http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...-cheap.cfm?153
Eschew is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2017, 10:41 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,554
I can't recall any issues when we were anchored. There were probably a few times when we had lunch after an excursion and before getting under way, but it didn't register as difficult with me.


Re cost, even on the Angelito which is "mid priced" and a good value, it's still $3500 pp, plus if the agency won't include airfare from the mainland, that's usually another $500 (for adults). There probably isn't a cruise discount for children, either. You can pay twice that on one of the bigger ships that are used by Celebrity or Nat Geo.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 24th, 2017, 03:06 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Eschew - I read your report on Alaska excursions on the cheap. Excellent information.

I do realize there are wildly different price points for each trip....the husband says he's ready to splurge. Our kids are getting older and we realize that the number of family trips we take together as a family of 4 will likely change in the next handful of years.

Thanks!
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 24th, 2017, 07:25 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
It's been a bit more than 5 years since we were at the Galapagos, but from what I have heard from friends who had been there recently, not much had changed, except getting more and more pricey.

Although it is not compulsory, but being a good swimmer will add to the enjoyment of the Galapagos adventure as there are many opportunities for water based activities.

I have posted my link to the Galapagos trip report on an earlier post. You may want to take a quick read as it outlines the differences between a "traditional" cruise and the Galapagos adventure. It also outlined the activities on board so you can set some expectation.

If you are ready to splurge, GO FOR IT. You can always visit Alaska on another day.

They are very protective of their environment in the Galapagos and more restrictions are added on a regular basis. The sooner you get there, the better. We are planning a return visit, when our grand daughter is old enough to enjoy it.

The ship that we were on (Galapagos Explorer II) were sold to SilverSea. Back then, in my opinion, it was the best ship in the area, most luxurious, best food, best excursion, best crew, best guide, best:everything, much better than NG and X. The ship is now called SilverSea Galapagos, and the fare had more than doubled. SilverSea is a strong brand name so I like to think they want to stay on top of the game there.

If you have any question about the Galapagos, feel free to ask here or on my Galapagos trip report.
Eschew is offline  
Apr 24th, 2017, 07:50 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Eschew - There is no "quick read" for your trip reports which are extraordinary and filled with valuable information. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such thoughtful and thorough reports. I am definitely leaning more toward Galapagos for the reasons you mentioned and my husband and I are not getting any younger . Seems like a very physically active trip best to do it while we are well and able bodied.

Based on what I have read the ships I prefer are - Galapagos Explorer II. Celebrity Expedition and Endeavour II. I'm concerned about sea sickness on the smaller boats. So much to research and we want to go mid June (that's right less than 2 months).

Thanks so much!
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 24th, 2017, 09:35 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Eschew (or anyone else) - Have you heard of Santa Cruz II or La Pinta? http://www.metropolitan-touring.com/...yacht-la-pinta
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 02:45 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
I replied on your other post. According to my diving friend who just returned recently, they are the expensive ones. Look for catamarans cruising the Galapagos and see what you come up and price level.
Eschew is offline  
Apr 28th, 2017, 06:57 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Hi Eschew - Thanks for checking in on me . We decided to go with La Pinta the dates, cabins (we need 2) and itinerary work and we got a good rate (well as far as the Galapagos goes). Came close to going full on splurge on Silver Galapagos but just couldn't pull the trigger - we have a lot more places to visit. I will write a TR when we get back. We haven't told the kids yet they will be super excited! Thanks for all your help. I will be revisiting your Alaska info for a future trip.
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 29th, 2017, 08:43 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,723
Would love to hear about your trip! We are planning a return visit a few years down the line when the grand daughter is old enough to enjoy it. Please read through my trip report on the Galapagos and highlight on your trip report what had changed. On my trip report, there are also "tips" that we have learned, such as bring 2 swim suits and special shoes.

I go to cruise critics and other travel forums board as well to get info. My problem is that the info posted there are "questionable" at times and they are known to have "fake reviews". Reviews by people associated with he company or paid to review. There are even times that the person who wrote the review had never been there.

What I like about Fodors here is that it is very interactive. You can ask questions and got answers; plus the people here are super nice, so friendly and helpful.

Hope you will be a regular here! Enjoy your trip!
Eschew is offline  
Apr 29th, 2017, 09:41 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,554
Eschew, I started to read you trip report but didn't read all the following comments. There are some things that probably changed since you are there.

1)Yes the new airport is open. There are also direct flights between Quito and Baltra, but more go via Guayaquil. It can take up to an hour from Quito to the new airport (more if you are in the old town) and most flights leave early. There are now a fair number of lodgings near the new airport. So spending a day in Quito isn't as attractive a propostion as before.

I don't remember going thru that procedure for opening the overheads. All luggage gets inspected at the airport. There is a $100 park entry fee now. I think if you book through a travel agency they escort you through the process. We had a number of people who flew into Baltra independently to spend extra days on Santa Cruz or to take diving trips, and met the ship staff at the airport in Baltra. A lot of travel agents and ships don't want you to do this.

2) The Park service has instituted rigorous controls on itineraries. Ships are allotted a time frame and island itinerary for landings. Each ship should be posting their specific itinerary on line. The actual time the ship choses to arrive and depart could vary within the window. Quite often we were the first onto an island (because we were small and weren't restricted by needing to serve breakfast and lunch at set times). We had a lecture each evening when they would tell us what time to get up in the morning and what kind of footwear was best. After we got back from each excursion, we were served a little snack (juice and a bite to eat), and then were told when the next meal would be (usually 30 minutes to an hour).

3) Re the wet landings.. At least on my itinerary, they were all into sandy bottomed shorelines so no shoes were needed. A good option is to do the landing barefoot and carry your shoes and socks.

4) There is a park service requirement of 1 guide per 16 passengers. All guides have to pass a test. For foreign born guides, they are required to know 3 Languages and pass the strictest knowledge test. Within the local guides I believe there are two levels of experience. If you are on a big ship, there will be multiple guides required.

5) Most passenger food and drink needs to be flown into the islands. We did have fresh fish for our final dinner, as well as shrimp ceviche for one days lunch. But I believe the days of local lobster are over. We usually had two choices of protein and a wide array of sides, buffet style. There was typically a legume, a few starches, salad, and vegetables, plus one dessert. (This was on a small ship). I thought the food was very good. If someone was vegetarian or didn't eat a certain thing they could arrange a different menu when they booked. IIRC there were a few people who didn't like fish. Lucky for me, I had extra ceviche.

Note that ships are really "yachts" or "catamarans" and I wouldn't even compare them to cruise ships, nor really expect to have a full array of casinos, gift shops and beauty salons. That seems to miss the whole point of going to the Galapagos.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 29th, 2017, 11:19 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
Thanks Eschew and mlgb.....I've been on Fodor's a while this is our first trip to South America. Fodor's has been so helpful in trip planning to Italy and Yellowstone and other places. It's my go to place for questions. I also go to Trip Advisor and it is pretty easy to ferret out the fakers. Thanks to everyone that has posted about the Galapagos it has been helpful in narrowing down the potential ships. I also learned a lot about where to go and what to expect. We are not cruisers so we don't have an expectation of a fancy cruise ship what we want is a comfortable bed, warm shower, good food and most important,excellent guides. I feel confident that I will be able to check those things off. Our trip is running at about 5K per person including airfare from the NYC area (business class for 4 on a non-stop)....some of the money we saved on the cruise is being spent on better transportation to get there. We will take precautions for sea sickness I am hoping it will be minimal with the larger ship (48 passengers) versus a smaller yacht. Watching the BBC documentary to get familiar with the wild life. One of my favorite parts of trip planning is learning about new things - cultures, geography, history, etc., I think that and the time spent with loved ones with a shared focus creating memories is what makes travel so important. Thanks everyone.
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 29th, 2017, 05:23 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,554
family, a funny story happened to us on the way to Quito. I'll tell it just so you won't be surprised if it happens to you. the new Quito airport location can get so windy in the afternoon that Jets can't safely land. We got diverted to Cali Colombia. All the tourists were panicking that they were going to miss their Galapagos cruise. One if the locals told me it happens all the time and that in the evening the winds die down. Sure enough we landed about midnight instead of in the afternoon.

So try to book a flight that arrives early or late! Probably not bad idea to fly in a day early. If you do go in to Quito there is a double decker HoHo bus now. I don't recommend staying in Old Town for a few reasons. Will your agent throw in your hotel room? If not, we can make suggestions.


If you need to kill time at the airport go across the drive from the terminal.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 30th, 2017, 03:34 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
mlgb - Thanks for the heads up. We are planning to fly in a day early to allow for travel issues. We have tickets on hold right now flying to Guayaquil with our eyes on the Wyndham. We found a direct flight from JRK - hate that airport but hate layovers more. Any suggestions for that airport/area? I haven't dug into that portion other than to find a hotel.
familythattravels is offline  
Apr 30th, 2017, 06:08 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 361
That's supposed to be JFK
familythattravels is offline  
May 21st, 2017, 06:40 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,554
family, I didn't need to go to Guayaquil since I had frequent flyer miles I used for R/T tix via Quito.
mlgb is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:08 PM.