An Adventure in the Galapagos Islands Awaits You
There are many people in our office who are well-traveled. One Expert in particular has been to the ends of the earth and back. Here she shares her experience and travel tips to the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador.
For all vessels traveling in the Galapagos Islands, there must be a certified Galapagos naturalist onboard. Some tour companies will also have a group leader onboard to handle logistics, which leaves the guests available to enjoy their expedition. The itineraries can be anywhere from 3, 4, or 7 nights so you can choose what works best for your travel needs. The Ecuadorian government regulates the itineraries and contracts with the cruise companies.
In the past several years many of the ships have been built or refurbished. There are many options depending on your budget and your needs. Our Expert Kristin prefers the smaller ships that hold 16-20 passengers. By the end of the cruise, you become very friendly and comfortable with your fellow travelers. Her favorites include the Queen of Galapagos, Odyssey, Grand Odyssey and the Treasure of Galapagos. The most deluxe of these choices is the Grand Odyssey with its spacious staterooms and upgraded amenities including deluxe bed sheets and towels.
For a mid-size expedition ship, the Eclipse holds 46 passengers and is highly recommended. It is deluxe and ideal for clients who want more public space onboard and prefer a greater group social experience. This one is also perfect for a private charter.
For clients who want a larger ship, The Explorer ll is a great choice. It holds up to 96 passengers and is still small enough where everyone onboard can socialize in an intimate setting.
Before you go, you must adjust your expectations. These ships are small and do not have the same exclusive standards as some of the luxury ocean cruise ships. The food is delicious; you just will not have as many options as the larger ships. This goes for the entertainment and amenities onboard as well. The Grand Odyssey is the most upscale of your choices.
The Grand Odyssey is a new build and has been cruising since 2011. Modern stabilizers were included in its construction making it able to maneuver around in smaller areas and it is the most stable yacht in the Galapagos Islands. It has a very large deck space to passenger ratio. It has more deck space than the Coral which carries double the amount of passengers. The cabins are considered the most comfortable of all the ships in the Galapagos. The staterooms are about 269 square feet in size and the Odyssey suite is 376 square feet.
As for activities, kayaking is free of charge and is an activity on certain island stops according to park regulations. Santa Cruz and Genovesa are two locations where kayaking is offered. Snorkeling is also included and is available at certain locations, also depending on park regulations.
As for the food, breakfast and lunch are served buffet style and dinner is a full menu. The food is a nice variety of dishes combining some traditional and gourmet foods together. This is customary on all these ships.
The linens and towels are a high thread count and are a good quality. All ships are restricted by the government as to the quality and thickness of the cotton. The Galapagos is a national park and water is scarce. Detergent use is limited since water is a precious commodity. They are very eco-friendly and pollution is of the utmost concern. Towels are not skimpy; however they will not be of the same quality as a 5-star hotel or luxury cruise ship.
According to Kristin, mainland Ecuador should not be missed on your trip to the Galapagos Islands. She recommends 5-8 days on the mainland of Ecuador and all sightseeing should be done with a private car and driver.
Spend at least two days in Quito. There are many beautiful boutique hotels located here. Two or three days can be spent in the Otavalo Highlands. Spend some time visiting the Otavalo Indian market and you won't be disappointed. This is a great spot for people watching and purchasing items made by the locals.
If you have a few more days available, go to the Avenue of the Volcanoes. This is a beautiful area and full of history and culture.
Ready to pack your bags after these helpful tips? Our Experts are here with even more suggestions for this amazing destination. This sure sounds like a destination not to be missed.