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AnaBelen Aug 28th, 2006 07:35 AM

Galapagos cruises- Linblad, Isabela, Eclipse, Evolution
My husband and I are planning a trip to the Galapagos in late December, and we are struggling a bit with the choices. I was all set to splurge on the Linblad Polaris when I read that the passengers tend to be more senior and not as active. A poster wrote that the walks were "more of a shuffle". We are pretty active, so that sounded scary. Has anyone had a different experience with Linblad?
We are also looking at the other options listed in the title of my post. We are looking for a full week itinerary (not the A/B combined type). That leaves out the Explorer and the Legend. Something that combines lots of walking, snorkeling, and kayaking with comfort would be perfect. Any thoughts/comments would be appreciated.

Percy Aug 28th, 2006 09:02 AM

On the Island excursions , you are in a group with your guides.

There are birds and animals all over the places and there is no fast paced walking, at times you have to watch where you step so as not to step on some of the Marine Iguana.!

Whether you are 20 or 60 ,you HAVE to stay on the given path and follow the instructions of the guides.

I was on the Isabella ll and there were 36 of us on the yacht.

We were broken up into three groups of about 12 in each group.

You cannot walk fast even if you wanted to but I would not say the walks were a shuffle!

Wait till you have to walk over some of that Lava Rock!!

Remember you are in a group, if you come across a group of Blue Footed Boobies...then everyone stops and looks because you can get to withing 12 inches of them!!! you almost want to touch them but you cannot.....
no flash photography the guides will tell you ...this is understandable, can you imagine flashing 2 feet in front of a bird/animal's face !

Have a Good Time

AnaBelen Aug 28th, 2006 04:43 PM

Thanks for the reply, Percy. We are lucky enough to do a few trips a year, but this will be our first cruise. We normally travel around on our own, so spending a week with guides and a large group of people is something new. Sounds like I am worrying for no reason.
We are really looking forward to seeing all the wildlife. Some of the pictures I have seen look amazing.....I can't imagine what it is like to see those creatures in the flesh.

Percy Aug 28th, 2006 07:56 PM

Our trip to the Galapagos went as smooth as silk.

You cannot tour the Islands without a registered guide(s).

They say that the higher the quality of the yacht , the better the guides!

On one of the Islands you will have to climb about 360 steps and once at the top you will have a great view ,including Pinnacle Rock.

No matter what shape you are in climbing 360 steps willhave to stopping and puffing!!!

I was there during bird nesting and hatching season( end of August/early September), and it is really something to see a Blue Footed Boobie on her nest and you are so close that you are blowing at her and you...

can see her feathers move from the air of your blowing on her and she just sits there looking at you ....amazing !!!

You will have dry landings and wet landings.

You will have the next days activities explained to you the night before.

I can only comment on the Isabella ll which is ranked as a luxury yacht and I was impressed with my room and the dinning room and the lounge and the food.

Some people snorkeled , some did not, it was your chosing.

Just to be there in these islands that Darwin visited and to see the wild life is truly an experience.

I agree...... you are worrying for nothing.!
if you decide on the Isabella ll I can send you some pictures of the yacht inside.

Good Luck and enjoy your trip.


Percy Aug 28th, 2006 08:04 PM


Here is a posting a just did about a week ago when I was asked about the Isabella ll:

The Isabella ll Yacht was great as was the food and the three university graduate guides( degrees in Zoology, Botany , Marine Life etc.)

If you give me your e-mail address I can send you pictures of the Isabella 11 inside( very nice inside) and other pictures I took of some Blue Footed Boobies and other birds and animals.

I had a nicer room than I had on many cruise ships !!

You will do a tour in the morning and then come back for lunch and a rest and then go again about 2 Pm until about 5-5:30 PM.

Then you have a nice dinner and you get an outline of the next days adventure.

I had four full days in Quito before leaving for the Galapagos.

When you arrive at the open air airport in Baltra, look about you, those are Darwin Finches flying around inside the airport , then you you step outside ...look up, those are Frigate birds flying high!!!

Then when you take that ferry ride from Baltra airport to the Island of Santa is only about 10 minutes away by bus from the airport .....look at those birds diving into the water like a spear!!!!....

those are...
The Blue Footed Boobies....wait till you see your first one, you just cannot believe it is really them !!

Have a good time


Elizabeth_S Aug 28th, 2006 09:22 PM

We were on the Eclipse in February of this year and loved it. Lots of snorkelling opportunities (2+ times most days) and the walks were just as Percy described - I think the Isabela and Eclipse itineraries are very similar. No kayaking though (at least when we were there).

The age spread was quite broad - 35 to 80 with most falling in the 50-60 area - and very active.

Here's a link to our blog - lots of photos on the Eclipse and the excursions

lifelist Aug 28th, 2006 10:33 PM

I did Lindblad last November. While it's true that most of the passengers were over 50, there was a good group of people younger than that. The demographics may have been a bit skewed for me since I was on a photo-oriented departure. I'm 37 myself, and pretty active.

Lindblad usually has several excursions to choose from for every landing. So, there's lots to do. Most nature walks tend to be strolls, but that's because they're stopping fairly often to discuss flora and fauna. You're limited to the trails, and I don't think there are any long trails at any of the islands, so I don't think any tour is going to feature long hikes.

Lindblad will also have a separate activity for people with mobility problems, so the different hiking groups tend to sort themselves into different levels of activity.

For Lindblad, you'll do around 2 landings per day - usually a combination of snorkeling, zodiac cruises, hiking, glass bottom boat excursions, and now, kayaking. Usually, they'll offer 2-3 of these activities at each landing, and you'll have the opportunity to fit in all of them if you like.

So, while they'll keep you busy, it's by no means a strenuous vacation. The Polaris does have a gym with some cardio machines if you're feeling restless, but I think the massage room got more traffic.

I do recommend Lindblad. They run a top notch trip, and their guides are uniformly excellent.

SusieQQ Aug 29th, 2006 05:13 AM

I just returned from a Lindblad trip on the Polaris. There were all ages with a majority older.and as previously mentioned there are many options and levels each day. For example, snorklers were usually given the choice of deep water and stronger currents or off the beach snorkling. I can't say enough good things about this trip, so I would recommend it highly. One thing to consider is that I think that on a ship with fewer passengers you might not have so many options. For example, the day we spent on Santa Cruz Island, the trip up to a restaurant for lunch contained these options....A)a bus ride the whole way, B)drop off and walk or jog up the last few miles or C)drop off and mountain bike up.

gjkayak Aug 29th, 2006 09:58 AM

Has anyone gone with Lindblad on the Islander? Any comments or differences with regard to the comments on Polaris, above?

ChiDad Aug 29th, 2006 02:28 PM

Just got back from a trip to the Galapagos. Loved our trip on the Eric. It's a 20 passenger boat with 8 crew and 2 guides. Snorkeling 1-2 times per day, 2 island excursions each day, fantastic food and excellent guides. My wife and I are 45 and the age range on our boat was 24-64. Sea kayaking was also available. It is truly like no other place on earth. You will love it.

msr3017 Aug 30th, 2006 03:35 PM

We just finished a one-week trip on the Islander. It is a 48 passenger vessel with surprisingly comfortable and complete amenities for a smaller vessel.

We're a family of four with two parents age 45+ and two teens. The trip was a mixed group between families, grandparents with grandchildren, and some older couples. The itinerary was very active if not always strenuous -- there is a lot to do in the Galapagos.

Wakeup calls are generally at 6am to get the best of early morning wildlife viewing. There is very little partying at night -- the ship is pretty quiet by 9:30 or 10pm.

Let me try to put together what we did:

Day 1 involves a get-acquainted swim off the boat and Zodiac ride to see wildlife.

Day 2 included a moderately strenuous hike up 370 steps to the top of the scenic island of Bartolome, followed by two snorkeling excursions from two separate beaches - one black sand, one white sand. Snorkeling is INCREDIBLE -sea turtles, lots of fish, and playful sea lions (sharks too but they are harmless).

Day 3 included an upland hike to see giant tortoises in the wild, followed by shopping in the port of Puerto Ayora.

Day 4 - kayaking (penguins & flightless cormorants), more snorkeling (deep water), more walks.

Day 5 -- moderatly strenuous half-day hike up to the top of a volcano crater on Isabela (our 12 year-old was sucking wind at the end), followed by a trip to the Darwin Research Station to see the tortoises and a spirited volleyball game on the beach. (Islander staff plays to win)

Days 6 & 7 -- more deep water snorkeling (tough currents! big sea turtles!), more hikes, more amazing wildlife including flamingos, penguins, albatrosses, boobies, iguanas, etc. etc.

The food on Lindblad is wonderful - incredibly good and fresh.

The naturalist guides are knowledgeable and friendly and their English is mostly good.

The expedition leader on the Islander, Lynn Fowler, is an absolute pro (and a PhD naturalist herself).

We are still sorting through the 1200+ pictures we took on the trip.

This was absolutely and by far the best vacation we have ever taken.

Hope this helps -


JPJH Aug 30th, 2006 05:26 PM

We did the four day cruise on the Galapagos Exporer II this past June. It was a niceship and there were no issues with the people who were taking the seven day portion. We actually saw all the creatures possible in the four days and felt that was really enough. It does get to look all the same after awhile.

Our time was limited so initially it was a tough choice to not do the seven day cruise and spend more time on the mainland land of Ecuador. We spent three days in Quito, three days in Cuence (which was the highlight of the trip), and then one day in Quayaquil the day before out cruse and two days after.

We were very happy with our overall choices. The people were very helpful and friendly. We felt safe the entire time and the food was fantastic!

Have a great time whatever you decide.

sebbie Aug 31st, 2006 07:23 AM

On a trip to the Galapagos 2 yrs ago I used International Wildlife to go on the motor ship Paranda. Sixteen passangers are the max and the boat is over 100 ft. long. Everything was wonderful. There was snorkleing and kayaking as well as daily walks on the islands. Paranda is a top quality boat.

lowellm Sep 1st, 2006 01:33 PM

For a complete Gala[oga experience including very comfortable accommodations and very good food try Celebrity Xpedtion. A samll cruise ship with daily three ranges of activites from easy to strenuous. Maximum 90 passengers and several registered guides.
The fare includes 2 nights in Quito at the JW Marriot and all meals and beverages - yes I mean liquor, beer wine mixed drink setc. This is a luxury Galapogas trip.
My wife and I had a great and sampled everything the Islands had to offer.

AnaBelen Sep 1st, 2006 08:13 PM

Thanks to all for the helpful replies. The Isabela II and the Eclipse were booked for the departure date we wanted, so we went with the Polaris. After reading all the posts, my impression is that any of these choices would be wonderful. When we first talked about this, I was a bit hesitant. We are pretty independent travellers, so being with a group of other people and guides for a whole week gave me pause. (What if I end up eating dinner with an outraged creationist every night for a week?!) After reading the posts on this site, I have come completely around. We are serious nature lovers, so I am looking forward to seeing the amazing animals and learning all about them at the same time. (and I am just kidding about the creationist)
I can not imagine how I am going to make it through the 3+ month wait.
Elizabeth S.....great trip site.
Thanks again,

Elizabeth_S Sep 4th, 2006 10:41 AM

Hi AnaBelen - I had to laugh at your fears - we shared them entirely!

We'd never been on a group tour before, never been on a cruise - but we had a great time. I think you're right - the ships are all pretty similar.

Re the outraged creationist concern - visitors to Galapagos are pretty much self selecting ;) !!!

Have a great time!

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