Galapagos cruise

Old Jul 5th, 2011, 11:48 AM
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Galapagos cruise

Hi all,

I am planning to go on a Galapagos cruise in summer 2012. I am leaning towards the Celebrity Xpedition because the cabins seem nicer than most and we can get a veranda. But my worry is whether the guides will be okay? Would it be better to go on one of the National Geographic ships? Or do others have recommendations for a ship with great guides and nice accommodations? Thanks.
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 01:33 PM
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We are booked for early November 2011 on the "Galapagos Expedition II", a slightly larger ship than the Celebrity Xpedition, both holds about 100 passenegers.

This is nothing like the usual cruise ship that we are all accustom to. The Celebrity Xpedition is less than 3,000 tons. (Most megaships are 130,000 tons) and the Galapagos Expedition II is about 4,000 tons, with an "all suites" configuration.

Based on my "homework", the Xpedition was refurbished in 2003 and the Explorer was last refursihed in 2007. The Explorer II is supposed to be one of the better ships cruising the Galapogas Islands. You might want to check it out before you book.

I can only find a few reviews and teh reviews on teh guides are good. The ship has a library and a "naturist program", whatever that means.

We are doing a 17 days Machu Picchu and Galapogas Island cruise combo, 10 days in Peru and then 7 days on the Galapogas Islands. If you are going to go that far, might as well see as much as you can. Other than Machu Picchu and the Galapogas Island, we are also booked on a small plane flying over the Nazca lines.
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Old Jul 5th, 2011, 01:54 PM
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www.lindbladgalapagos.com pick of the litter for upscale

My fav try to book one that Sven Linblad guides he is awesome

Xpedition more of a cattle call guides not as good ok for

price good deals priceline.com vacationstogo.com

Better than most of the others but too big for me.

Great discounts currently for me www.guanguiltagua.com

DiveMaster Dennis booked me with best local

EcoAventura Lines smaller upscale cruise great itinerary

more intimate quality local experience under $3k with DC

BEWARE TripAdvertizer " destination experts"

they are all foreign expat agencies owner scammers foreign

touts agency owners will overcharge u 2-3X for one of the

motorsailers with bunk beds aka as the "pukeboats" lots

of issues roaches bad fake review Archipel Samba Fragata Eden

to name but a few. www.lan.com best flights out from the US

Do careful research MANY scammers...200 boats so easy

for someone else to get the gold mine and u get the shaft.

Worst scammed on the Travel boards for the couple of decades

are the Galapagos cruises...
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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 12:23 AM
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I recently got back from a week on the Isabela II, a 40-passenger ship. I had a fantastic time and highly recommend it. But everyone is different, and I haven't tried all the ships (yet! ), so it's hard to make comparisons. That said, everything I had read suggested that smaller ships make for a better trip, with more landings, more flexibility, more time at the actual sites, etc. I'm guessing I would have preferred one of the 12-16 passenger yachts if I could have found one with similar quality and itinerary during the timeframe I had free.

I really need to write up a trip report, but can't find the time.

Regardless of what you choose, I'm sure you'll have a fantastic trip.
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Old Jul 10th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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We went through the same decision-making process and opted for the Xpedition because we thought the veranda would be nice. The problem was getting a cabin with one. They sell out quickly. Luckily our travel agent came through for us after Celebrity told me they were sold out for months.

We thought the cruise was great, we were happy to have the veranda, and we found the guides to be very knowledgeable and experienced.
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Old Jul 11th, 2011, 02:32 PM
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What month did you guys cruise though the Galapagos? Was the water rough on the smaller boats?

We are booked on the Explorer II which is much bigger than the Isbaella II and slightly bigger than teh Xpedition.

Based on the Itenary, it doesn't appear that we will spend too much time in teh cabin except sleep and change.

The schedule said 6:30 a.m. wake up call, breakfast and then we are ashore. Back to the boat for lunch and off to another stop/excursion. Dinner at 8 p.m. (much later than I'm used to) and social events (or briefing for the next day) after dinner. I would imagine it would be dark by 9 p.m. so I am not too sure how much time we will have to enjoy the veranda.

Other than bring 2 swim suits and get an underwater camera, any other suggestion would be apprecaited. We were told only 1 suit case 20 Kg max so packing would be fun.
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Old Jul 11th, 2011, 10:37 PM
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I do tend to get seasick on smaller boats, but I'm not super sensitive. I brought along meclizine tablets and scopalamine patches (leftover from previous trips), but ended up not needing them at all. Most of the time, things were wonderfully stable. On two crossings (iirc), we had some rolling waves that were noticeable. Since it was night time, I just went to bed and slept through it all, by the next morning it was very calm at our next site. (Mild motionsickness makes me drowsy, so that works out well with the ship traveling at night.) I think of all the passengers, only one person said she was noticeably seasick, and that was only one night.

Sunrise and sunset are pretty consistently 6am and 6pm, so it'll be dark by before 7. On the other hand, I did sometimes enjoy viewing stars, night-feeding birds, sea lions, flying fish, an occasional shark, and bioluminescence at night. On my ship, with no private veranda, a few of us would hang out at the stern or bow. You need it really really dark to sea anything. Any light pollution will take away too much of your night vision. I wonder if the big ships with verandas have them dark enough.

I brought only 1 swim suit but 2 underwater cameras!
(I also brought a light wetsuit -- 3/2mm full suit -- which was really nice to have, but I chill easily in the water.)
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Old Jul 11th, 2011, 10:47 PM
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Oh yeah, I was there in May 2011.
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Old Jul 13th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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SelfPropelledTripod, thank you for the info.

A few quick questions, which underwater camera(s) did you bring with you? Was it truly waterproof? How about quality of pictures? Lighting good enough under water?

They recommend wet suit as well but since DW can barely swim, I won't be ventureing too far or too deep so a wet suit would be excess baggage. What is the baggage limit? Is it one piece under 20 Kg plus a personal item (laptop/backpack)?

Discovery II is 4000 tons with about 100 people. There is an observation area at the front plus a hot tub on the top deck. We have been on smaller cruise ships but never that small, although we have been on much smaller charters but not in open water. So it would be interesting to see if the gentle wave will afefct her.

Do you have a trip report or travel tips that you want to share with all of us here? Would love to hear more.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 09:24 AM
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One more question ... other than the islands themselves, is there any side trip worth considering?
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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Hi Eschew, sorry for the delayed response -- I've been on the road again (nothing fun this time).

Let's see...

Underwater cameras: I bought a Pentax W60 a year or two ago. It's very small and light, with a great 28-140mm (equivalent) zoom range, but the lens is very very slow. I tried using it as an indoor party camera, and it failed miserably for that role. Outdoors in good light, it's great. Recently, I sprang for a Canon S95, which is a bit bigger and heavier (but still quite compact). Wonderful camera. Then, I bought the Canon waterproof housing for it. This was a bit fiddly and cumbersome, but it's a better housing than I will be a swimmer for the foreseeable future. I also picked up a cheap Aquapac waterproof camera baggie, in the hopes that this would let me use the S95 confidently in the pangas, but I got the wrong size (too small, because the S95 lens pops out when you turn it on), and the bigger ones were more expensive and bulkier. The W60 is supposedly waterproof to something like 10m iirc, but I've never done more than plunge it underwater. For me, it's more the peace of mind that I don't worry about spray, etc. at all, and also that I can wash the camera in soap and water when it gets dirty. The S95 in the Canon housing is supposedly good to something like 40m, so it was totally fine for snorkeling. I did worry about leaks of course, but everythign worked out fine. Picture quality was OK -- visibility wasn't great in the water, and I found it hard to focus fast enough sometimes. Since I was just snorkeling, lighting wasn't a problem. And even though most of my shots are blurry and poorly composed, the videos of the sea lions playing underwater was worth the entire investment for me.

I don't recall the baggage limit -- your travel agent should know it accurately. I never ran into a problem, as I travel light. (Too light, I was sweating quite a bit and ended up paying a rather steep price for some laundry mid-trip.)

Many people were happily snorkeling without wetsuits, and my ship (and I think most ships) rent shorties. For less confident swimmers, my ship provided flotation vests, and they even had a glass bottom boat for non-swimmers.

I really need to write a trip report, but havne't had time. It'd make more sense to put these tips all together in a coherent thread.

I didn't have time to consider side trips, so I have no clue on that one...
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Old Jul 25th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Thanks for the info, SelfPropelledTripod. I looked at the Canon D10 and the Lumix TS3 but didn't really think they are that waterproof. I have a friend who is an experienced diver. He said he can lend me a housing if it will fit.

Glad to know that they have floation vest. DW will definitely wants one. TA gave us a packing list, long sleeve t-shirts, type of shoes etc. but that is nothing in comaprison to someone who's been there.

We will start at Qunito with carter to the islands and ends in Guayaquil. Anything worth looking at those 2 places?
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Old Jul 25th, 2011, 09:46 PM
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I had two nights in Quito outbound, and one night on the return, but with late arrivals and early departures, I really only had one afternoon in Quito. I took the bus/tram into the old town and walked around a bit -- very atmospheric, but I barely scratched the surface.

Sorry I can't be more helpful. It seemed like there were lots of things to do nearby. I'm sure folks on the South America forum will have good advice...
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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Once agian, thanks for the info. I will TRY to post a trip report after our return.

We might have been too agreesive on our trip planning. We will be departing Miami at midnight, arriving at LIMA in the morning, spending about 10 days in Peru (Lima, Ica, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Puno) before heading to Quito, air charter to the Galapogos and then to Guayaquil before heading back to Miami from Guayaquil. I think it is a total of 7 flights in 3 weeks, including a small plane over Nazca lines but not the 2 flights to and from Miami.

I think we may have two half days in Quito and a half day at Guayaquil.
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 06:54 PM
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Sounds like a great trip! Have a wonderful time!

P.S. Regarding underwater cameras, if you're just snorkeling, any of those cameras you mentioned should be fine (as my W60 would have been, too). In hindsight, I probably shoulnd't have splurged for the underwater housing (more for diving than snorkeling), but I did and was happy to have it. And it gives me an excuse to plan more trips where I can use it!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2011, 01:05 PM
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Thank you SlefPropelledTripod. At this point, we have decided HOT to buy a camera and will borrow the housing from my diver friend and play with it for a bit at the pool.
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