Cruising the Galapagos

Feb 27th, 2012, 02:45 PM
  #81  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
Thanks for the info on packing for the weather. Boy, this is hard to do on my blackberry - I'll read your report again when I get home to my desktop next week and look for more tips.

Thanks to you too Percy and SPT!
Leslie_S is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 03:50 PM
  #82  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,323
Percy, can you tell us the tour company that you booked with?
JaneB is offline  
Feb 27th, 2012, 05:22 PM
  #83  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,134
JaneB

I booked with Martin Slater at

[email protected]

I just e-mailed him to find out if he is still doing bookings

for the Galapagos and if he is still with the same company.

I have not heard from him in over a year. We used to e-mail each other about 3-4 times a year.

I for sure will let you all know if I here from him.
Percy is online now  
Feb 28th, 2012, 12:18 AM
  #84  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
kenav, I think we crossed path with the Millennium in the Galapagos. You'll be amazed at how many ships you come across on a daily basis, and some ship almost daily. (example: the NG ship has almost identical itinerary and we saw them everyday). One of the guide used to work on the Millennium and he mentioned that it is about 10 years old. It is a catamaran but didn't look like one, especailly when you see it from the sides. He said it was quite nice inside when he worked there, but was quite a few years ago.

Leslie, feel free to ask more questions. The TR was posted a couple months ago so I might have forgotten what's there and what's not. Between Percy, SelfPropelledTripot, myself and others, I am sure you will get an answer here.

Jane, have you consider booking with the ship directly? Both the Galapagos Explorer and Isabella have their own web sites and they will look after everything for you, from air travel to and from island, transfers, accomodations etc. I am quite sure other ships will do the same. Your local travel agent may also be able to offer you suggestions.

Back to the weather a bit ... the weather charts shows average temperature and is not a true indication of how hot or cool it is. There are other factors in play such as dew point, wind speed etc.

As I have said earlier, the ocean currents affects the weather and temperature the most. Since it is near the equator, they don't have distrinct seasons like winter or summer. They have wet and dry season, and that's it. Wet season is generally from January to April, and is slightly cooler when it is raining or cloudy.

The only rule of thumbs I can offer is that it would be hot when the sun is out and cool when clouded over. I honestly can't remember if I ever checked the temperature daily while we were there.

We wore the same "set-up" everyday: a pair of long pants (with zip-off pant legs that can turn it into a pair of shorts), cotton long sleeve tees, a hat, a light wind breaker and a small back pack that carries the accessories (sun screen, bottled water, small face cloth for sweat, and storing anything that we took off when it gets too hot)
Eschew is offline  
Feb 28th, 2012, 05:43 AM
  #85  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
Just heard it's El Nino year. Does anyone think that will effect a cruise at the end of August?
kenav is offline  
Feb 28th, 2012, 09:46 AM
  #86  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
Nope.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 28th, 2012, 10:17 AM
  #87  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 13,134
JaneB:

Boo Hoo, my e-mail was returned .

Now I have to wait for Martin to e-mail me when he thinks of me...hey that could be never
Percy is online now  
Feb 28th, 2012, 11:59 AM
  #88  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
Hey, I was on the Isabella II, too! Like Percy, I give it a big thumb's up. On my trip, I lucked out with only 27 people guests on-board. I booked via expeditiontrips.com, whom I recommend highly because they took great care of me when my Antarctica trip got disrupted.

Eschew is exactly right about the currents dominating the climate. A really bad El Nino year can change the timing of the season changes, the food available for the wildlife, etc. I recall reading and hearing from the guides that... ah, check this webpage out, last few paragraphs near the bottom:
http://www.geo.cornell.edu/geology/G...osClimate.html
If it's a really bad El Nino, the land animals do well with more rain, but the sea life suffers due to the lack of the nutrient-rich cold Humbolt Current. Even with an extreme El Nino year, I'm sure it'll still be an amazing trip -- don't let this stop you!
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Feb 28th, 2012, 12:59 PM
  #89  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
When we return to the Galapagos, I got to take a serious look at the Isabella now ...

Before we depart, the head naturist told us that they are working on a brand new itinerary for the Galapagos Explorer as the stops that they are making now are getting too crowded as other ships are all stopping at the same places, hence keep running into the NG ship and their groups, and other smaller crafts on an almost daily basis.

We probably will look at a return to the Galapagos around February, March, April or May, the opposit time of our earlier November visit.

We were lucky in that we were there during the bird's mating season, and nursing season for the sea lions. We saw a lot of things quite by accident, not knowing that it was the "right" time to go if you want to experience that sort of things. The weather, was not part of the equation or consideration on when to go. We escaped our North American winter, if that counts towards weather consideration.

Before we return to the Galapagos, I would probably look at timing such as sea turtles laying eggs, hatching season and other "timings"; experience what we couldn't experience the first time around.

Standing there up close watching the courting dance of the blue boobies for almost half an hour was definitely a highlight, we would have stood there for another half hour if it wasn't for the local guide who ushered us along. But then, it was he who made it interesting by whispering in detail what the birds were doing and why they are doing it.

We saw the puffed up red chest of the male frigate birds, and how several of them were jockeying for position and attention of the female.

Those were, for me, a once in a life time experience. Unless we went back around the same time, I doubt it that I will see it agian.

So, what are some of the the nature's finest that we would like to see at the Galapagos? Next, we find out what months those events occur and then we plan the travel around that. Would that be a better strategy or just book it when time convience, pricing, or weather come into play?
Eschew is offline  
Feb 28th, 2012, 08:10 PM
  #90  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 189
Eschew, eagerly awaiting your future trip report!

I read that the Galapagos national park authorities have forced all ships to abide by new rules to spread out the visits and reduce crowding. This also means new sites to visit! I think the new rules are supposed to be something like that each ship can't return to a site more than once per week, so ships can't just do the same weekly itinerary over and over again.

It'll also be great to hear your comparison of two different ships. I wonder sometimes whether I should splurge for a big name operator (National Geographic, Lindblad, Quark, etc.)
SelfPropelledTripod is offline  
Feb 29th, 2012, 06:58 AM
  #91  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
I have heard rumors that Punta Pitt is closed. However, I was just assured by my agent, after he consulted with captains of other vessels as well as the Millennium, that it is open to those vessels that have permission. Just wanted to let people know.
kenav is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2012, 09:25 PM
  #92  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
SelfPropelledTripod, if the Galapagos National Park forced all ships to spread out the visits, it would be curious to see the compliance rate. Some of the stops are almost "must see". Can you imagine going to the Galapagos and didn't see the pinnacle rock, or the land tortise etc?

I came across this web site recently and it is quite interesting. Kenav, it listed the Millennium as a "first class" boat. The Isabella and the Explorer are listed as "luxury" boats. I am not sure what are the classification difference. There are other lassifications: superior", "toursit" and "economy". There are also ship reviews. You might want to check them out.

http://www.galapagos-travel-advisor.com/
Eschew is offline  
Mar 4th, 2012, 06:22 AM
  #93  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,958
eschew - The luxury boats (vs the first class) are more expensive; that's the difference I see.
kenav is offline  
Mar 4th, 2012, 08:16 AM
  #94  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
Eschew - I re-read your great TR. I think I read it a while ago on cruisecritic. I just realized that we'll be on the same ship so it was interesting to read about the specifics of the daily routine.

I don't think you talked about this above but some people have said when they got back on their ship after a landing they had to leave their shoes/sandals at the rear of the boat and not just rinse them and keep going. It sounded like your experience was different - you rinsed them but then were allowed to wear the same shoes around the boat - is that correct?

Also when you say no sandals in the dining room at dinner - that seems very strict since most women even if wearing a skirt or dress would wear sandals with it in warm weather. Do you mean no sandals only for men? And if so, what did most men wear, boat shoes or running shoes or? My husband will not be taking wingtips to the Galapagos!
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 7th, 2012, 09:37 PM
  #95  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
Kenav, when we book, we did not spent too much time looking at rates as we are "mass market" crusiers and wanted to be on the bigger boats. All we did was check prices on 3 ships, the Explorer II, the Xpedition, and the NG ship. The reason why we picked those 3 as they were similar sized, holding the same number of passengers (max 100 allowed).

We picked the Explorer II for a number of reasons, but the most important one was the timing (sail date and end date) and how it was seamlessly merged with our Peru land tour prior to the crusie. As it turns out, it was the cheapest of the 3 but not by much. I am not sure what the smaller ships would charge so I can't comment on price comparison between the "luxury" and "first class" or what are the differences between them.

Leslie, when will you be sailing? My trip was in November 2011 so it was relatviely recent and was after the Aug 2011 refit of the ship. I don't recall posting this particular TR on cruise critic, and if I did, it would be after the TR was totally completed here as it was written in segments. I like the interaction on a TR here as oppose to the crusie critics where your post and that's it.

They used warm water to hose down your feet and footware after a wet landing. You wore your wet shoes or walk with wet feet up the steps and go to either the back of the ship to drop off or clean your wet gear, or into the lobby (where they put towels on the floor to help keep the floor dry).

Once you get your cabin key from the front desk, you typically will return to your cabin and change into dry shoes.

You are correct in saying that you were allowed to wear the same shoes around the boat. I certainly wouldn't be wearing them anywhere if they are wet.

On a dry landing, they have a mat/tray with running water that you must stepped on so your shoe shouldn't get too wet, and it should be dry when you get up the steps.

I cannot stress the importance of proper footware. You may want to revisit the footwear section on the type of shoes that we used and what the guides used. You certainly wouldn't want to have shoes that stay wet for any period of time, or flip flops for any type of excursions on the Galapagos.

Proper attire was requested for dinner in the dining room, the usual no tank top, cut offs, shorts etc. Breakfast and lunch is pretty well anything goes. To be honest, I can't see them refuse service even if you were not dressed "appropriately".

When I said no sandals, I was thinking about flip flops. Men typically don't wear flip flops with dress pants or even jeans going to a restaurant anyway. I see the dress code for dinner (smart causal or country club casual) is a guide line; see the paragraph above about refuse service.

Back to the shoes one more time. In the dining room during dinner time, I typically saw dress shoes (with dress pants), or running shoes (with jeans); there were more men wearing dress pants than jeans. Dress shoes does not equate wing tip in my books so a pair of loafers, or walking shoes probably would do the trick, and they are probably comforatble worn thru-out the ship.

Some, like me, wore cheater shoes that looks dressy but was really hiking shoes or wet shoes. Again, refer to the footwear section in the TR on what DW was wearing and what I brought along. Those shoes may take some time to get used to, so if you intend to wear them, buy them now and break-in.

I have posted some pictures of the trip on line. All the links are in the TR but here is one of them.
http://travel.webshots.com/album/582034887dLHsDS

Lastly, thank you for your kind comemnt about the TR. I hope you find the info useful and helped you with your planning and setting the expectation.

I did not go into the detail of each stop and each excursion as what you will see is rally dependent on the timing. We were lucky that we were there during the bird's mating season. You go at a different time, you may see the same wild-life, but the settings are different, and what they are doing are also different.
Eschew is offline  
Mar 8th, 2012, 05:27 AM
  #96  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
Thanks again eschew for the explanation of what happens with shoes. I think we have the kind of footwear we'll need for wet & dry landings.

I must have gotten confused about cruisecritic, I could've sworn I read your TR there -- oops.

I really enjoyed your pictures - how cool to have sea lions swimming so close to snorkelers! Since we'll be there at the opposite time of year (if that makes sense) in May I imagine we'll have quite different experiences. I'm getting excited - only 2 months to go now!
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 8th, 2012, 08:10 PM
  #97  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
Leslie, post a TR after you are done. Would love to hear about your experience. We are looking at possibly going back in a few years time, and looking at a May Juen time frame so it would be great if we knew what your expereince were.

If you are going to be on the Explorer II, say hi to Cezar (local guide) and Daniella (photographer) if you come across them.

Cezar has a great sense of humor and he is extremely helpful. He is the "lead" guide but not the head naturalist. As to Daniella, she is leaving the ship after her contract is up and she was planning to go to Spain to further her studies. She will take your pictures for you with your camera if you ask. That doesn't happen on the mass market ships as they want you to buy their pictures. She does sell her pictures and she will seek you out and get you the pictures you ordered and collect the money. The ship will have pictures she took shown on the TV in your cabin. If you want to buy a certain puicture, go talk to her directly.

She also sell picture CDs on the last day but I knew of a couple situations where the CD was faulty, and I have not heard back about the results of their request for replacement. Unless you can check the CD and see if they work, I will say be careful. The CD I bought worked fine. The resolution of the pictures on the CD, however, is not hi-res.

By the way, Daniella's nick name is tinkerbell. You will have to find out on your own why she was called that. If you still don't know after you get back, I will tell you.

Internet. It is available but you should buy a package unless you get it included as part of your cruise fare. Check out your cruise contract and see if internet is included or you were given a credit for internet. If it is nit, ask your TA ans see if the ship is willing to throw in some credit. The wi-fi works good all over inside the ship.
Eschew is offline  
Mar 9th, 2012, 08:55 AM
  #98  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
I'll do a trip report when I get back. I say that and will TRY to force myself to do it. By the time a few weeks has passed after returning from a trip I sort of move on to the next one in the planning pipeline and never get my energy back up for the previous one's report.

It's nice to hear the staff gets two thumbs up. I'll keep an eye out for Cezar and Tinkerbell.
Leslie_S is offline  
Mar 10th, 2012, 09:30 PM
  #99  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,730
Leslie, have a great trip. Just rest up before you go. The daily early wake up calls and the daily excursion can be very tiring. As long as you know wha the challenges were, you can try to avoid them or make the best of it. I really want a TR so that we know my experience isn't one off.
Eschew is offline  
Mar 11th, 2012, 06:27 AM
  #100  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,182
Thanks, Eschew! I'll take lots of notes so I can give you a TR to compare with your experience.

Part of the reason we chose this particular trip is my mom's great experience last spring with the same company/same ship. So I think if she has the energy required to keep up I'll be okay

Her tour continued on after the Galapagos to Machu Picchu but since we've been there already we're only doing the 8 day Galapagos/Quito tour. Quick and limited, I realize. I'm not used to such short trips - it does seem wasteful to go all that way and not see more but the international air was included with the tour price and dates are set in stone so you can't extend on either end -- so we're going with the flow on this tour and will tack on a visit to my mom on the Gulf coast of Florida on the way home.

Anyway, thanks again for your great report and advice. Look for mine in June!
Leslie_S 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 12:16 PM.