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Your tips on Galapagos 2015 for Single Traveler

Your tips on Galapagos 2015 for Single Traveler

Nov 26th, 2014, 09:58 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Your tips on Galapagos 2015 for Single Traveler

I have some miles to spend on LAN by the end of this year. It looks like I can use them to visit the Galapagos.

I know some of you have done the research on this, and appreciate any tips you've got. I've read a few of your blogs and trip reports so far but may have missed some.

It seems my miles can best be spent mid May toward the end of June, or perhaps September into mid-October (I can't book any farther ahead with my miles). Which time-frame do you think is better? Sounds like May might be warmer water? Does it really matter? (as long as I can see the waved albatross colony I'm good).

As a "sort of" serious birder, I am most interested in Espanola and Genovesa, I think.
Of course as expected it's ridiculously priced as those two islands can only be visited on a cruise. But I would like to minimize the single surcharge ripoff.

Are there any other islands that you feel are "don't miss" for a birder that I should look for in a cruise itinerary?

Also, what were your favorite snorkel spots? No problem with going off the boat but no rough water entries.

If I can find a group tour that is reasonable priced and visits those two islands I would use that, even if I can only book the international airfare with the miles.

Anyone used or investigated Road Scholar? It looks like they use one good boat (Seaman Journey) and one iffy one (Galaven). There is one itinerary on the Seamen that I think might work, what do you think?
http://www.roadscholar.org/n/program...x?dID=1-7IUWGD

(I don't want to use OAT because I fear they will switch around ships and itineraries.)

Should I use a US based or Ecuadorian agency? Any good or bad experiences?

As far as which boat, I don't get seasick and can sleep on a sailboat. I guess my main issue is that if I'm going to be charged up the wazoo as a single, at least it should be a nicer boat with decent food and a good guide.

Trying to keep the cruise portion under $4500 (up to $5k) including air if it's mandatory.

Thanks in advance South America experts!
mlgb is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 10:32 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi mlgb, The Galapagos is one of the all-time great destinations. We went on a 7-day cruise in early June, ideal weatherwise. The end of May would be fine as well. September is supposed to be the cloudiest, choppiest month.

I think we spent under $8k for 4 people for the whole trip (which included 2 nights in Quito at the beginning and 2 nights near Otavalo at Haciendo Cusin at the end). But we went several years ago and used miles for the airfare. My strategy for getting a deal was to book at at the last minute for a deep discount (as high as 50%), about three weeks before our trip.

At the time we went, most of the boats included both Española and Genovesa. Tons of bird watching everywhere though and birders' tours were offered at all stops.

Used this site to check availability - gets you directly in touch with the reps of all boats. They will also book internal flights (ours was an agency in San Diego, the U.S. rep for our boat):

http://www.galapagoscruiselinks.com/

And here is a site that describes every boat - I used this for research but not for booking the trip:

http://www.discovergalapagos.com/Int...s_Cruise_Ships

We wanted a larger boat because one of our sons gets seasick (turned out to be a non-issue because seas were calm). We had a blast, but if I had to do it again I'd go on a smaller boat because I love to sail.

We ended up on the Explorer II - not the 'expedition' ship I had in mind, but it offered the perfect itinerary and the cabins were huge and super spacious. Our friends were on the much more upscale Natl. Geo Lindblad at the same time - they paid four times as much for an identical itinerary. They liked their trip, but had issues, probably because they had spent so much.

We met an organized tour, smartours, on our boat. It was a diverse, multi-age group...not who'd you expect to meet on a cruise. They showed up again at our hacienda, which was very authentic. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time - I would recommend contacting them to see if they're offering deals for singles.

Good luck and Buen viaje!!
crosscheck is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 01:27 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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One way to keep the cost down is to wait until you get to Ecuador to book the cruise. Friends of mine did that, see http://meckleyearth.blogspot.pt/2010...-cruising.html - of course, won't work if you have time constraints.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 10:11 AM
  #4  
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Thank you both for the tips. Thursdaysd I enjoyed that blog. I believe RoadScholar uses the ship that your friends sailed on.

Hi crosscheck. I am not sure I want to wait til I get there. I do appreciate the info on May and think I'll at a minimum book my airfare to Quito. I'm finding so far that most of the operators seem to insist on booking your airfare to the islands.

So I may hold off on that until I can have a few more conversations.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 10:50 AM
  #5  
 
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I searched "Galapagos cruises with no single supplement" and got quite a bit of information, including reference to 3 ships that have single cabins with no supplement (one of which is the boat we were on and indeed there are two single cabins - the Eclipse)

- Eclipse
- Cormorant
- Ocean Spray

We loved the Eclipse - nice size and great itinerary. If you're a bird nerd I would look at adding the west side of Isabella to see the flightless cormorants. A highlight for me was seeing them "fly" underwater.

Here's a link to a recent Eclipse website with pricing - maybe a stretch for your budget though?

Re snorkeling - we snorkeled usually twice a day - mainly just off the main boat but a couple of zodiac entries and one from shore. It's not blue water snorkeling as you probably know - visibility can be limited but we spent most of our time snorkeling with sea lions all around trying to get us to play. Fun, fun, fun!

Re travel agents - we were staying in Galapagos for a month so we used a local agent. Also there are very well regarded agents in Guayacil (search here)

We also met the owners of Yate Floreana - a simpler ship than the Eclipse but very nice and lovely family owners. I see their single pricing is in your budget and the north itinerary has Genevesa and West side of Isabella

http://www.galapagosisland.net/cruis...cht/index.html

Good luck!
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 10:58 AM
  #6  
 
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Oops - here's the Eclipse web link I refer to

http://www.discovergalapagos.com/eclipse/index.htm
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 11:16 AM
  #7  
 
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Here's another ship with a single cabin (C-4) c-l-o-s-e to your budget

http://www.stanfordtravel.com/evolution.html#itinerary
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 11:32 AM
  #8  
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Much thanks Elizabeth_S

I cannot recall if I read your trip report or not.

My head is exploding!

I need to be in the right frame of mind to go over all of this before Monday.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 12:32 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Sorry, mlgb, I wrote my 'tips' in the middle of the night and should have edited them better. I DO NOT recommend waiting until you arrive to book your trip. I do, however, recommend booking about 3-4 weeks in advance for amazing discounts. (This might only work if you're using miles, as we did.)
crosscheck is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 12:46 PM
  #10  
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I will be using miles, but they expire at the end of the year.

So I will first try to pick a time frame where there are several cruise options.

Then I need to see whether I get the jitters about booking a cruise ...waiting and possibly losing out on one of the few available singles cabins is the big issue.

Would be easier if I had a cabin-mate.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 12:59 PM
  #11  
 
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Are you averse to having another single share your room? G Adventures does that so no singles supplement
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 01:15 PM
  #12  
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No, I am not. Although maybe not with G Adventures. Don't they skew a little "backpacker-ish"?

OAT also offers that option.

The trade off I am finding (maybe this isn't really true) is that to get that firm share price you need to go with a group tour and they want to buy your airfare at $500 more or less.

The Samba would let me buy my own fare, but the itinerary didn't include Genovesa and Espanola together. But it gets good reviews, would come in around $4500.

I am also looking at Cachalote in addition to the Road Scholar itinerary (Seaman Journey C1).
mlgb is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 01:52 PM
  #13  
 
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Did you look at Intrepid? Their Basix level tours are backpackerish, but Comfort level is, er, more comfortable.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 02:02 PM
  #14  
 
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I'm not a group tour person, but if I were you, I would go with a group. You'll be doing group activities on the boat anyway, and with a tour you can probably get a deal on the internal airfare, plus maybe another stop in Ecuador.
crosscheck is offline  
Nov 29th, 2014, 04:21 PM
  #15  
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Thanks crosscheck, I am sort of leaning that way.

It depends on whether I like their itinerary, mostly.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 06:19 AM
  #16  
 
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Bookmarking. I hope to do something similar in 2015. Was intending to wait until I get to Guayaquil then arrange from there. I think GAP/Intrepid trips allow you to book your own flights into Ecuador and join them on a 'land only' basis. I don't like sharing and would like a single cabin without the single supplement!!
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Nov 30th, 2014, 07:09 AM
  #17  
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gertie3751, the flights into Ecuador you can book on your own with virtually everyone. It is the flight from either Quito or Guayaquil to the islands that most want to book as part of any cruise package. Part of it is that it is easier to coordinate the transfer to the boat, if everyone is on the same domestic flight.

I guess I need to look at Gap/Intrepid.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 07:21 AM
  #18  
 
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GAP is now G Adventures, and I think its reputation has gone down. You might also look at Imaginative Traveler, Peregrine/Gecko and Adventures Abroad.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 30th, 2014, 07:46 AM
  #19  
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I had already looked at Gecko, and they have a big notice on their website that they plan on serving the under-40 market.

I had seen some bad reviews re G/Gecko, thanks for confirming what I thought.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 8th, 2014, 01:25 PM
  #20  
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Just to wrap things up for now, I decided to go with Road Scholar. For such an expensive excursion I liked their cancellation and payment schedule better. I can also shift the return flight, although can't book my own internal flights with them.

I did talk to one Ecuadorean agency (communication skills lacking) and one US agency (didn't like their terms and conditions). I looked at both the Mary Anne and Angelito. I would be able to book my own flights with either of those ships, although needing to coordinate the pickup, pay an added charge, extra hotel night, and taxes plus tips probably doesn't save me much (but the Mary Anne would be a single room vs a twin share request).
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