Lindblad Galapagos - Islander or Endeavor

Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:12 PM
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Lindblad Galapagos - Islander or Endeavor

We are considering a Feb or March trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions. They have two boat options the smaller Islander (48 person) or the larger Endeavor (96 person). Does anyone have any experience with either?
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:35 PM
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CruiseCritic.com Galapagos board for best recent reviews

EcoVentura.com was great for me last... more intimate

But best recent reviews prices I have seen are on the Islander

Vacationstogo.com
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 01:39 PM
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I think the more important consideration is the itinerary - review it (preferably in conjunction with reading Barry Boyce's Traveller's Guide to Galapagos). We were on the Eclipse - 48 passengers - and preferred that size to a larger boat.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2011, 01:09 PM
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I think our leaning may be toward the smaller ships. I have read at least one review, thanks to qwovadis' cruise critic recommendation, that was glad they chose the larger Endeavor since they got to meet many more travelers. I am having trouble finding much information about the Islander. No reviews on Cruise Critic, not much on YouTube, not even any videos on Nat Geo's site like they have for the Endeavor.

Qwovadis - Your mention of Ecoventura has really peaked my interest. I really like the cabins with large windows. The prices seem comparable. Amenities aside, I guess the most important is the which company offers richer "Galapagos" experience.

If you have a trip report from your trip I would be interested. Also, any resources that compare NatGeo/Lindblad to Ecoventura would be of interest.

Thanks for all your help.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Elizabeh_S - Forgot to mention that the Islander and Endeavor seem to have the same itinerary. Still researching how that compares to the EcoVentura trip. Nat/Geo is a little vague due to the new guidelines imposed to protect the islands but they do list which islands they visit.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2011, 01:54 PM
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Long2Travel,

May I ask why you are interested in going to the Galapagos? Going on a trip with a foreign owned business with 96 people that has been recommended because people on it met lots of other people sounds like an awful reason. Galapagos is a fragile ecosystem and every boat and tourist places demands on the ecosystem. Why not at least consider an agency that is owned by locals? All boats have certified guides are certified by languages they know. I would generally choose a boat by size and features of the actual boat and then cost and what they are doing to supplement the demand they are placing on the ecosystem.
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Old Nov 25th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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I've been lucky enough to have cruised in the Galapagos aboard both the National Geographic Islander and the Eric. Our agency send hundreds of travelers to the Galapagos every year and feedback aboard both boats is excellent. They are both outstanding options, but quite different.

As you know the Islander/Endeavour are operated by Lindblad Expeditions and has an association with National Geographic. As such they have a top notch naturalist program that features on board experts (such as authors, researchers, professors, photographers etc) in addition to the Galapagos National Park guides that are provided on every cruise. In addition they have lots of educational toys such as video microscopes, underwater rovers, hydrophones etc. Choose Lindblad if you are seeking an educational and intellectual experience AND you are willing to pay more for the National Geographic name/experience.

Cruises aboard the Eric/Letty/Flamingo offer a more intimate and casual experience. With only 20 passengers on board you are likely to have a smaller group when going ashore (groups are limited to 16 travelers but the Eric's 20 passengers are divided into 2 groups of 10). The smaller size also means more time ashore (it is easier to get 20 travelers ashore than it is to get 48 or 90). The guides aboard Eric/Letty/Flamingo are fantastic and will answer all your questions about the Galapagos and their wildlife, but they may not be intellectual powerhouses found on the Lindblad boats. Choose the Eric/Letty/Flamingo if you are seeking an up close, casual Galapagos cruise aboard a smaller boat at a more affordable price.

Don't focus so much on the itinerary. As long as you choose a week long cruise you will see all the highlights. Only on shorter Galapagos cruises will you have to pick and choose your island visits.

Lindlbad is sold as a package tour with overnights in Guayaquil included in the package. Eric/Letty/Flamingo can be booked as a "cruise only" which allows you to decide on your arrangements in mainland Ecuador.

There are so many options in the Galapagos it is best to work with a company that has direct experience with all the ships and can offer unbiased suggestions based on your interests, ability and budget.

Good luck and enjoy the Galapagos Islands. They are amazing.
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Old Nov 25th, 2011, 02:13 PM
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I would offer one counterpoint to one comment of #5. Once all boats start their 14-night itinerary, choosing a cruise based on the itinerary could be important. In the past, boats offered the same 7-night itinerary every week; as of Feb. 1., 2012, they will be able to stop on an island only once every 2 weeks. So you won't be able to see all the highlights in any 7-night cruise, no matter what. Most boats will carve their itineraries into some version of a "western" islands and a "south-central" islands itinerary, or something like that. The western itineraries will likely spend considerable time on the many landings around Isabela and Fernandina--the youngest and wildest islands. As a result, you'll visit fewer individual islands but see some of the best scenery and wildlife in the archipelago. The south-central itinerary will focus on a greater number of islands that are more centralized, as well as Española in the south. Genovesa, the final of the "big 4" islands sometimes is put on the western itinerary and sometimes on the south-central. (That doesn't vary by boat but across boats. Itineraries are set in stone, barring something very unforeseen.)

So, whether people like it or not, they'll also have to make a choice about itinerary. (I believe E/L/F is still running its 7-night itineraries until Feb 1., when they'll switch to their 14-day itinerary.) For many folks, it just won't matter--you'll get a great experience no matter which you choose. But if you have specific islands you're interested, or species that you'd really like to see, you may need to pay more attention to the itineraries than you would have had to in the past.

Tina
trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/
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Old Nov 26th, 2011, 04:34 AM
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Adventure Smith - Thanks for all that wonderful input. It's exactly what I was looking for. It hadn't occured to me that the larger boats may mean less time on land. I suspect you are correct about the richer educational experience with NG/Lindblad.

Tina - I had noticed that E/L/F has two itineraries now but didn't understand why. NG no longer shows any intinerary. They just list all the islands that you may see. We are still trying to figure out which islands, if any, we are more interested in. I do know that I would like to see the Blue Footed Boobies, the large Tortoises, and any place that is considered a "photographers dream." I guess I will need to do a little more reading about the islands.

Tina, I will certainly look at your trip report. Thanks everyone for all your help.
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Old Nov 26th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Blue-footed Boobies will be easy to see near most of the islands. They are shallow-water feeders, so you'll see them plunge-diving around many of the islands. They also breed on many of the islands south of the equator. So don't worry seeing about them! The Giant Tortoises are marvelous, especially living free rather than in the breeding centers. (The breeding centers provide an important service, but seeing the tortoises there is a bit more like going to a zoo.) One of the easiest places to see them is in the highlands of Santa Cruz. Many itineraries stop at Santa Cruz, so just check to see if they list the highlands as a visit spot. San Cristóbal and Isabela also have areas that you might see these magnificent behemoths.

I'm not a photographer, but scenery at Española, Genovesa, Fernandina, and the western shore of Isabela is renown. The top of the extinct volcano on Baltra is alleged to be the most photographed spot in the archipelago--and it is indeed a beauty. But really, the scenery on any of the uninhabited islands is lovely and special in its own way.

Tina
trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/
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Old Nov 28th, 2011, 06:37 PM
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Thanks so much. Wonderful trip report!
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Old Nov 28th, 2011, 06:47 PM
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We went on a locally-owned large boat - The Explorer II (not a "cool" expedition ship like NatGeo, but with a very international crowd, including a group from Spain, some Koreans and an Ecuadorian soap opera star and her kids. Naturalists were fine. Our friends were on the smaller Lindblad at the same time and they had the exact same itinerary in a different order. Other friends went on the Eric/Letty/Flamingo. They didn't bond with their fellow travelers, but it did seem as if they had a more informal, intimate adventure. If it had been up to me, I would have chosen a smaller boat, but my anti-social seasick-prone husband insisted on the largest ship possible.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2011, 07:24 AM
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Yes, Tina's blog is just superb!I was also looking at E/L/F for next summer but now it seems like it won't be till 2013. Is this new 14 day itinerary going to stay do you know? Anyway, enjoy the Galapagos, long2travel, will wait for your trip report...
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Old Dec 2nd, 2011, 01:40 PM
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Hi geetika,
I think we've decided to stick with the Islander. Despite it being a calm seas time of year I was also concerned about E/L/F possibly being too small. I don't know if the 14 day itinerary will still be in place for your trip in 2013 but definitely for ours. It is a little disturbing to pay as much as NG/Lindblad costs and simply get a list of islands that you may or may not see. I guess we'll just have to rely on their reputation to return with satisfied customers. I'm sure we will enjoy it immensely despite the new rules.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 07:44 PM
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Hey long2travel,
I was wondering how your trip on the Islander went. We're going a year from now.
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