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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around ... Read More
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around the Galapagos. That said, however, I would never book another cruise through Lindblad/National Geographic. The cruise is listed as 10 days, but it is actually a short 7 days. The count one day to get to Guayaquil, one day in Guayaquil, and one day back at Guayaquil as part of the "10 days". The last day was the worst, in that we were forced to get up at 6 AM (through a mandatory announcement), have our baggage out the door by 6:15, and at breakfast at the same time. This was so they could clean the cabins for the next cruise. We then sat around in the lounge (we were not allowed to return to our rooms) for two hours watching advertising videos in the lounge before being ferried/bussed to the airport, where we again waited for two hours for our short flight back to Guayaquil. For the last day of the "cruise" in Guayaquil, we were offered a tour of a sad local zoo and historic park. The personnel on the trip were highly variable. The cruise "leader" was an absolute disaster. We got so we hated his smarmy voice coming out of the PA system every morning. At the end of each day he told us what a great time we had and then pushed for contributions to their various charities in the islands. We were told that $500 per person was the "average" contributed by passengers and we wanted to be sure to meet that average. The naturalists were also variable. They were obviously bored by the trip, having made it so many times in the past. When we asked about a bird or animal, we were given pat answers without them even looking at the critter. One of them had training in biology (iguanas were his speciality) and the other were simply "certified guides" who had "guide" training. They were not particularly knowledgeable about the local flora, fauna or geology, and not very interested in engaging in conversation about it. Food on the ship was at best average, with most of the main dishes overcooked and most of the sides the same thing meal after meal. We were told on multiple occasions that we were expected to tip $180 per passenger for the crew collectively. On a cruise this pricey, why don't they pay their personnel a decent living wage? On the plus side, most of the dining room personnel were terrific. The ship cruised to several islands that are not accessible by way of the land tours or the smaller ships. The availability of good snorkeling gear, wet suits, paddle boards, and kayaks was very welcome and allowed us to do some terrific snorkeling interspersed with interesting walks and hikes. We swam with sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and beautiful fish, walked among land tortoises, nesting frigate birds, dancing boobies, and more iguanas than you could count. The Galapagos Islands are a fantastic world resource and we feel lucky to have visited, but we would not recommend the over-priced National Geographic/Lindblad expedition. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose ... Read More
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose the Islander for its size, thinking we would receive indiviualized attention. We choose the date knowing there would be less children. We elected to take the extention to Mashpi which greatly exceeded my expectations. There were 6 in our group and we had 2 guides who made sure we were safe and saw everything! We hiked, rode the Dragonfly, climbed the observation tower, rode the Skybike, hiked to the Life Center, and did a night hike. Very active. Ana, the manager, did a great job with her young staff. They were there to assure that everyone had an unforgettable time. Metro Touring also exceeded expectations. They answered questions, gave instructions, were punctual. They had a knowledge of their country and a pride that they wanted to share. We were met in Baltra by a naturalist whose reason for being a naturalist was to travel to Galapagos. He even acknowledged that this tour group met his requirement for the year. He was more interested in getting everyone on the bus then assuring everyone was present. This set the tone for the trip. The first stop was North Seymour and we quickly learned there was no time to lag as the naturalist would continue on. No problem, I am a fast learner and knew what to expect. The Naturalists were very knowledgeable about the islands, vegetation, wildlife. They appeared to have a passion for the islands and wanted to share their passion. However, I was disappointed in some attitudes. For example, several years ago I broke an anke causing me to have some balance issues, and being slower. But that doesn't mean I can't do something, it justs takes longer. Unfortunately, that wasn't tolerated. My friend doesn't swim and wasn't comfortable snorkeling in deep water. I would not snorkel without a buddy, something that goes with my diving training. We had a brief intro to shallow water snorkeling. Time was not spent with individuals who were uncomfortable. In fact, I was assisting another indiviual who had never snorkeled, trying to get her comfortable. I kayaked twice in my life and enjoyed it. Once in the Tasman Sea and once in Prince William Sound. Both time we received instructions on kayaking and what to do if the kayak tips over. Here we transferred from the Zodiac to the kayak, no refresher, no safety instructions. As we struggled to get to the shore, the naturalist kayaked by, went to the head of the group, and ignored the rest of us. There were times that if you didn't snorkel in the deep water or take a challenging hike, you were left on the boat. Why couldn't there be less challenging trips or a slower paced trip, why couldn't there be more zodiac trips around the islands? The 'hotel staff' were great. The waiters, bartenders, and Alexa did a nice job. The wait staff went out of their way to make meals enjoyable, remembering I was a tea drinker, my friend green tea. I feel the Natualists are contracted for the trips and not truly a team. I have worked with teams, customer service and recognize teams that work together. I feel thenaturalists were assigned or contracted for this trip. As I stated, in Mashpi, there were 2 naturalists for our small group who assured each of us enjoyed the experience. In Galapagos the Naturalists did not assure everyone was ok, they shared their wealth of knowledge but did not go the extra step. Activity level listed as light or moderate. I had a massage that exceeded my expectations! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of ... Read More
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of information but their concern for the passengers left a bit to be desired. On our Kayak expedition no effort was made to make sure everyone was familiar with how to kayak - just told to get in the kayak and head towards shore. When my friend and I couldn't get the hang of it right away and were going in circles, our naturalist went ahead with the other kayaks and left us on our own - we had to wave to the zodiac and have him pick us up. There were long walks for those who thought they were in excellent condition and could do a quick hike up in challenging terrain. There should have been opportunities for those who didn't think they could make the "challenging" hike to do a shorter hike instead of just sitting on the ship. Some times there were zodiac rides which were great but there could have been an option. There were several opportunities for experienced snorkelers to snorkel. But if you were inexperienced there was really only one time for snorkeling from the beach. And if you had never snorkeled before there was no one to work with you on the basics. We had cabin 403 on the Upper Deck. We were under the impression that it was the same size as the other cabins since we paid the same price - but once we got onboard and saw one of the other cabins we felt we were in a much smaller cabin. We knew the terrace was going to be smaller but the other cabins were significantly larger terraces than ours. Some information about ways to communicate from the ship would have been useful. Passengers who had What's App loaded on their phones were able to text back home. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time. Also, I only knew about the camera shelf to get your camera adjusted to the outside air after I heard a naturalist talking to another passenger about it - I don't remember an announcement being made about it - should have been done the first day onboard. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were ... Read More
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were knowledgeable and generally enthusiastic about the islands. However, I did expect more venturing off the coast, especially on Isabella, where there were other things to see and experience. Most guide books summarize quite a few different points of interest; most of these were not offered. I realize that this is a live aboard experience and the coast is the focus, but a blend would have been an advantage. As noted, guides were very educated and informed on the science and natural aspects. Some of the people skills were lacking. Back and forth from kayak to zodiac, asking a spouse if she knew here right leg from her left was not part of the personal ambiance, nor was using the term "gringo" when most of your passenger manifest is American. Way too much food. Could have very easily gone with breakfast and dinner, skipped the mid-day meal in favor of more time out and about. Ordering a very athletic young man--a fish in the water--to "snorkel buddy" with a senior who was not at all comfortable in deep water was not at all appropriate. Did not pay a large sum for the vacation to be a lifeguard, and some naturalists forced the buddy system while others did not. Good trip, saw things and enjoyed experiences that were one-time only--a true gem. These areas noted are worth some improvement. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and ... Read More
We went on a Nat Geo Alaska cruise and the 6 of us just knew we had to do Galapagos with them again. It is just an over the top experience if you are looking for a very active and tons of info trip, with terrific staff, naturalist and crew..all exceptional. I needed a vacation after I got back! I gave our cabin excellent because it was so darn cute and I swear a few feet bigger than Alaska. Be forewarned though these are NOT your usual cruise cabins, very close quarters, but very efficient.. Breakfast and Lunch were very good.Dinner was fine. Just not overwhelming. They are small portions which we all liked and very elegantly done.. the bbq night was fun. Well the animals are the entertainment. other than that one night of local performers. The hikes, kayaking, snorkeling were all amazing.I now know everything possible about the blue footed boogie.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was ... Read More
This is our second cruise to the Galapagos with National Geographic in 10 years. The first time it was just my husband and I. This time we brought our six year old daughter. Both times were absolutely perfect in every way. The food was excellent and bountiful. Meals were mainly on the ship. There was a massage therapist on board but I didn’t want to miss a single excursion to use her services! There is an on board gift shop that was opened several times and had quite a varied number of exquisite items for sale - carvings, clothing, jewelry, children’s books, art. There was a small gym and an upper deck on which to lay in a hammock or watch the stars. The naturalists were outstanding. The lectures were fascinating. Each day typically had two excursions out on the zodiac to an island. Sometimes three outings. We had one day with tortoises, one half day on a gorgeous beach snorkeling with sea lions, an excursion to see sea birds nesting and caring for eggs and chicks. Every day was amazing. I can not recommend this trip highly enough. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the ... Read More
For anyone who loves watching birds and animals in their natural habitat this was certainly the cruise to take thanks to Lindblad and National Geographic. The night before boarding our ship we were met by helpful Lindblad staff at the Guayaquil Airport and taken to The Hotel Del Parque, a beautiful 19th century retreat close to the airport, not that you'd ever know because of its lush tropical surroundings. The hotel staff was very welcoming and friendly as well. The next morning after a beautifully set up breakfast buffet on the hotel's patio we were taken back to the airport where we flew to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands to board our ship. Right from that point on we saw all kinds of sea lions, colorful crabs, pelicans, and iguanas and we would be seeing many more in the coming days. It had begun to rain as we took the Zodiac from the dock to the Islander anchored off shore but the minute we boarded the ship we were greeted and welcomed like family. I cannot say enough about the friendly staff/crew of the Islander, even those on the ships bridge. Our cabin was very comfortable and the additional glassed in terrace off our cabin consisting of a lounger, two chairs and a table made our accommodations seem much larger. Dining on the ship was very good with a selection of food that should have pleased anyone. In the morning a nice breakfast buffet was served and a menu of three entrees posted to select from for that evenings dinner. All sounded very good which made my choice hard. The waiters and bartenders learned our names by the very next day and quickly learned our certain preferences for various beverages and food items. The naturalists, Greg and Jose as well as our expedition leader Vanessa, who guided us all over the islands were a pleasure to be around. They were knowledgeable but never boring and it was easy to see that they really enjoyed their job. On Isla Santa Cruz we saw the giant tortoises, visited a place where we sampled and watched moonshine being made and had a very nice buffet lunch at a farm where afterwards we were able to walk among the numerous wild giant tortoises. I believe it was that night during which local entertainment was brought on board the Islander to dance and play the native instruments which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our last day of the cruise was spent on Genovesa Island where we were able to walk by numerous frigates and boobies with their little babies so close that you could have touched them. This was a perfect opportunity to get some good up close pictures. The planned activities for the passengers were also very appealing. I can now say I have jumped off ship into the ocean and have snorkeled among sharks and sea lions. Another nice on board feature was the assortment of good quality gift items offered for sale as well as T-shirts located by the reception desk. As we disembarked the ship on our last day it was really hard to say good bye to all the friendly staff and crew who at that point seemed more like friends and family. I would most certainly love to take another cruise on board the Islander. After returning to the Hotel Del Parque we were offered a tour of hotel grounds which were very impressive. There is an excellent restaurant, Casa Julian on the grounds which offers local cuisine and outdoor dining with a view of the Rio Daule River. My traveling companions and I chose to spend an extra two days in Guayaquil. There is so much to see that I strongly recommend doing so. The hotel may be a drive from downtown Guayaquil but the taxi ride was very inexpensive compared to what we would pay in the US. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire ... Read More
We have traveled with Lindblad before and have always found them excellent and this trip to the Galapagos was no exception. We flew from Miami to Guayaquil, then out to the Galapagos and Lindblad staff members were guiding us the entire way. Once on the ship, the service continued at a high level. Days were filled with varied activities including hikes and snorkeling. There were occasional options for kayaking and paddleboarding, One day was spent on land visiting the Darwin Center and the Galapgos Tortoises. Lindblad calls their cruises excursions as the emphasis is not on visits to towns or shopping but on seeing nature and wildlife and understanding the history and ecology and geology of the areas visited. You do need to be capable of getting in and out of Zodiac (a small rubber motorized craft) to get on and off the ship, but the staff was extremely helpful in making sure everyone got on and off safely. Staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful in increasing your understanding of the areas visited. We kept informed with different lectures, and a nightly recap, outlining the next day's activities. Excellent food and a well provisioned ship, all made for an enduring memory. I especially appreciate Lindblad's commitment to the countries where they travel and to environmental issues. We traveled as a group with 8 adults (7 seniors) with varied interests and abilities and each was accommodated. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t ... Read More
We just returned from the trip of a lifetime on the National Geographic Islander (Lindblad), and since there aren’t too many recent reviews of this ship I thought I’d post a detailed one. So please excuse the length. If you don’t want to read it all, the short version is: UTTERLY FANTASTIC! A bit of background as to why we chose the Islander. My husband is an academic, and is quite knowledgeable about evolution and biology. He wanted to be sure that the quality of the naturalists and the information provided would be as strong as possible, and we had heard rave reviews about this aspect of the NG tours (this proved correct). We are not “cruise people”, and wanted something very low-key and not fancy. We also wanted a mid-sized boat. The Islander fit the bill. Admittedly it was more expensive than other ships, but we felt it would be worth it, and we were not disappointed. We didn’t much care which itinerary we went on, since we didn’t have anything specific we felt we had to see (other than what we knew we’d see anywhere) so we were fine with their wait-and-see policy. Since my husband is not a strong swimmer, we also wanted something that would give us options for each outing in case he didn’t want to snorkel. Long before the trip we were sent lots of information about what to pack, and about the ship and the Galapagos. Shortly before we were to leave we received a packet with luggage tags, description of the process for meeting and getting to the ship, the final itinerary, and other details. The organization of everything was impeccable from start to finish. Everything was included except our transatlantic plane fare and alcoholic drinks, sundries on board, and gratuities. Lindblad had arranged for a van to meet us at the airport and take us to the Guayaquil Hilton Colon where a Lindblad rep met us and gave us details about meeting the next morning to get to the ship. Baggage was to be left outside the room quite early, and was transported to the airport. The passengers met in the lobby and took a bus to the airport, were ushered through check-in, and boarded an hour and a half flight to San Cristobal, where we then took another short bus ride to the dock. We then took the first of our many panga (or zodiac) rides on a short trip to the Islander, where we were met with warmth and enthusiasm by the staff. Our luggage was waiting for us in our rooms, and we had a brief time to dump our hand luggage and go to the lounge for our first orientation. Disembarkation was equally smooth. We were very lucky to have chosen a room on the top deck (406) with its own little glassed in “porch” area with a lounge chair, a small table, and two chairs, as well as numerous hooks on the wall for hanging our snorkeling gear, etc. The room itself was small but incredibly well designed, with a great deal of storage space, more than we needed. There was a ledge along one wall, with a small lip so nothing could fall off, a pitcher of water, two water bottles, two glasses, an outlet (we brought a surge protector with 3 outlets and two USB ports, which came in handy). Inside the closet was a built-in box with a lock, where we kept our passports and cash. There are no locks on the room doors, which was never a problem. The bathroom was extremely small but also very well-designed, with ledges and wire baskets for holding toiletries, and hooks for hanging toiletry bags. Towels were replaced several times a day. There were dispensers on the wall with shampoo, shower gel, and body lotion, and a large bottle of hair conditioner - and they were good products. I’m fussy, so had brought my own, but ended up using theirs. There was also a wall-mounted hair dryer which worked beautifully. I think the only room on the ship which was larger and had a larger bathroom was the suite at the front of the top level; the rooms on the lower levels were the same size, just without the porch area. I think there were one or two triples, which were also larger. We really enjoyed having the outside area both for lounging and for the extra space, but would have done fine without it. Everyone said you don’t spend much time in your room, and that was pretty true. You can find good pictures, including panoramic ones, on the Cruise Critic website. We had them make up the two singles as a queen; there was enough room to walk around the bed, and it was extremely comfortable. Orientations were in the lounge, a lovely large room with big windows, couches and chairs. Cocktail hour was here as well, and there were usually snacks available. Also a soda machine, espresso machine, and a small fridge for beer (honor system sign-up). Vanessa, the expedition leader, gave us our daily recaps, next day orientations, and other information here. Vanessa was amazing – cheerful, warm, funny, responsive, and especially wonderful with the children on board. We had about 6 kids under 12 and about 6 teens, all of whom were delightful and a joy to be around. They really added to the fun of the trip with their excitement, their questions, and their energy. I won’t go into detail here about all the amazing things we saw – wildlife, sea life, geological formations, etc. – but do want to add a word about the 3 naturalists on board: Enrique, Gianna, and Jonathan. All are natives of the Galapagos, and their love of the islands shines. They were incredibly well-informed – there was never a question they couldn’t answer – but more importantly they were fun to be with. They each had their own unique senses of humor, were unfailingly cheerful and responsive, and never made anyone feel silly or stupid for asking a question. How they do this so well week after week amazes me – their excitement felt like it was brand new, and it was contagious. They were patient with my husband who wasn’t that confident a swimmer; they encouraged him to keep trying the snorkeling and never made him feel bad when he wanted to quit. Most days we had at least 3 different outings, one of which was usually snorkeling. Often there was a choice of snorkeling from the panga in deep water or off of the beach. Several days there was an option to either kayak or paddle-board instead of snorkeling or instead of a panga ride. There was always at least one hike, sometimes with wet landings and sometimes with dry ones (which usually meant getting out onto rocks). Everything was perfectly organized and ran like a clock. I should say that the snorkel gear they provided was in great shape – like new, and in every conceivable size. No one had a problem with it. I brought my own full length skin to wear under the shorty wet suit, since I tend to get cold. The water ranged from about 65 to 72 degrees, and with the wet suit didn’t feel cold at all. They provide a mesh bag with your room number on it for all the gear, and there are hangers on either side of the ship to store them – one side for even numbered rooms, one for odd. There are hoses to rinse things off, and even a small electric wringer for bathing suits, which helped the drying. Food. There was a lot of it! I have to say, though, that the food was the least good thing about the trip, though it was perfectly fine and often excellent. It’s just that everything else was A+, and I’d give the food a B+, with the occasional A. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, most dinners were sit-down served meals, with choices made that morning (usually a fish, meat, or vegetarian option at each meal). Wine or beer were extra, and they had good options. Desserts were quite good – one, the passionfruit mousse, was fabulous. There were a few buffet dinners – the Ecuadorian feast, and the sky deck barbecue (that was my favorite). Meals were in the lovely dining room, all at large tables of 6 or 8, with open seating, which encouraged everyone to get to know each other and the staff. Weather. It was surprisingly cool. I had expected, and prepared for, blistering heat, but we had many overcast days which were nevertheless quite bright, but comfortable. I was glad I had thrown a few long sleeved shirts into my pack at the last minute. Also, the air conditioning on the ship was very strong – several times we asked them to turn it up to make it a bit warmer in the public areas. The bedrooms all had their own individual controls. We kept it off during the day, turned it on before we went to bed, and it was cool in seconds. Although the forecast I had checked before we left called for rain each day, as per people’s comments on this forum, that was totally inaccurate, and it never rained. Vanessa gave us advice about what to wear for each outing in the pre-dinner briefings. Packing. The one thing I would have liked to have brought is a small plug-in night light. Once the sun sets around 6pm it’s pitch black, and when the ship lights are turned off it’s very dark in the room. It would have been nice to have something dim to light the way to the bathroom without having to turn on the full bathroom light. We did laundry several times during the trip – they provided a bag, and if you left it on your door in the morning it was back before night (we spent a total of about $130 for the trip, a lot, and we could have managed without it). Most people, including us, wore quick-dry pants or shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and a hoodie, fleece or light jacket over that. We were extremely diligent about using SPF50 sunscreen and had no sunburn problems. Binoculars were useful, sunglasses were a must. I never wore the hat I brought, and my husband only wore a baseball cap. We didn’t bring a whole lot, and could have done with less. I brought one sun dress, wore it a few evenings just for a change, but was the only one who did. As far as shoes go, we were surprised that the rule we had read about of taking off shoes after leaving the panga wasn’t even mentioned. I brought sneakers, tevas, and flipflops, and that was perfect. The sneakers for dry landings, the tevas for wet landings, and the flipflops for walking around the ship. My husband kept his shoes on in the ship. Photography. One of the naturalists, Jonathan, was also a photography specialist, and for those who were into it, he offered one–on-one help and advice as well as having a few group sessions. Unfortunately we’re not camera pros, but I know we would have appreciated his expertise if we were. We did buy an inexpensive underwater camera that was fun for using while snorkeling. Otherwise we used our iPhones. There was a videographer on board, Ashley, who chronicled our entire voyage and provided a DVD at the end. A note about seasickness. We had none. I put on a patch before we got on board just in case, but found the side effects (dry mouth and sore throat) too bothersome. I took it off and was just fine. We could definitely feel the ship rock, but found it soothing. I slept better on board than I have in a long time. It has taken a few days of being off the ship to get back my land legs; for a while if I closed my eyes I still felt as if I was rocking. Not a bad feeling though. As far as I could tell, no one on board had a problem. So a quick note about what we saw: sea lions galore and of all sizes, fur seals, iguanas (land and sea and one very rare hybrid), lava lizards, sea turtles, every conceivable kind of fish, rays, sharks, starfish, all 3 kinds of boobies (nazca, red-footed and blue footed) including red-footed boobies nesting with eggs and in a few cases with just-born chicks, pelicans, galapagos penguins, flamingoes, galapagos owls (rare), hawks, giant tortoises, finches, galapagos mockingbirds, galapagos doves, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls, albatrosses, herons, scorpions, and the skeleton of a sperm whale. All up close and personal – these animals and birds have no fear of people. And that doesn’t even mention the giant cacti, the incense trees, the lava tunnels and lava-covered island we hiked, or the post office barrel (one of the most charming customs I’ve encountered). All in all, the best trip I’ve ever taken! If you are undecided, go! You won’t regret it. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions. Read Less
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