The Galapagos are a GREAT place to visit.
We were onboard the Silver Galapagos from May 30 to April 6, 2019. We chose the rainy season as the temperatures were to be warmer and the seas calmer. We were blessed to have calm seas, warm days and only SPRINKLES of rain on a couple of days.
With the calm seas, there were several opportunities for kayaking. While kayaking, we had sea lions trail us, saw beautiful sea stars (starfish) through the crystal waters along with turtles, iguanas and birds.
The snorkeling trips were a highlight. We saw penguins, turtles, sea lions and fish all within a few feet. They seemed unconcerned with humans. Take a GoPro for underwater photos and videos. I was quite happy that I had purchased insulated thermal liners (recommended by Silversea) for under the short sleeve and short length wet suit that Silversea provided. With the insulated thermal liners (the bottoms looked like leggings but were from ScubaPro) we could enjoy the time in the cold water and were protected from the sun. It was an incredible adventure! The Galapagos are a great place to see nature up close and unwind.
As noted in several reviews the ship is dated but the crew made up for that with incredible service. They were on top of everything. The small size of the ship makes it easy to get around and getting on and off the ship with the Zodiacs was quick, simple and safe. Most landings were wet so you will need water shoes. The small size also enables you to meet new friends. You see the same folks on the excursions, in the dining room and at the meetings and it’s easy to develop friendships.
Our group was dealing with celiac and some food allergies to dairy, garlic and onions. Concierge Chistian, Chef Andrea Cruz and our waiter Guillermo Reina kept us safe. Chef Andrea went above and aboard in preparing delicious, safe food for us. Chef Andrea was often out during the buffets and she would always point out safe foods for me on the buffet. She made Ecuadorian stew and other special foods specifically for us. During a cooking demonstration, she even made me my own ceviche that fit my dietary restrictions! For those who require gluten free, but without the dairy allergy, they had Yucca rolls that were enjoyed by many on board the ship. The buffet was well designed with breads in a special area which made the possibility of cross contamination with gluten less. Guillermo did a great job of communicating with us about our food so we knew it hadn’t been mixed up with another order. Chistian continually checked on us to see if we needed anything. This incredible team kept us feeling well so we could enjoy this beautiful area of the world!!! Remember with food allergies to let the cruise company know when you book your reservation. Then when filling out the online forms, list the food allergies again. When you board the ship meet with the concierge to answer all questions.
Silversea did a great job of keeping us safe. While snorkeling and kayaking, each group of about 12 had a guide and zodiac driver that watched over the group. During hikes, the guide watched over the group, giving help or suggestions to anyone who needed help.
The Hikes were more strolls than hikes. We would walk for a bit and then listen to our guide. Some islands had very uneven surfaces that required caution. We saw flamingoes, turtles, iguanas and the blue footed boobie.
Insects were only a problem on Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island beach. I was glad to have some insect repellent.
Be advised that our flight from Quito to the Galapagos included a stop in Guayaquil. We stayed on the same plane, but it did add time. Additionally, it was a long day to get home. We were out of the cabins at 7:30 am and off to breakfast. Zodiacs transported us to the dock to waiting buses at 9:30 am. Shopping at the Baltra Airport was good for hats, t-shirts, etc. with prices comparable with Puerto Ayora. Looking back, I would have skipped shopping in Puerto Ayora and purchased gifts at the Baltra airport. We arrived in Guayaquil airport at around 4pm. We were provided with a day room at the Hotel Oro Verde, the hotel is beautiful, the city less so. We would have liked more time at the hotel and less at the airport. We were in the lobby by 7:45 for our transfer to our flight to Miami.
We booked our own flight into Quito and out of Guayaquil, because we wanted control over the time of our flights, number of stops and wanted to have business class seats. We booked our transfer from Quito airport to the J.W.Mariott through the hotel. This worked well and the driver was on time and pleasant. We used Silversea for all other flights and transfers. We were pleased to have them take care of the baggage and details.
At the Guayaquil airport, about an hour before our flight was to leave, the airline started doing random searches of carry on and checked bags. Your name was called, and you were asked to approach the ticket counter. For checked bags, an airline representative took you down an elevator to your suitcase where they ask you to unlock your suitcase. They did a quick search and you were asked to relock the suitcase. It was a bit unsettling at first, but it was not a big deal.
Final note, this is an active cruise. There are typically 3 events during the day hikes , snorkeling trips, zodiac rides etc depending on the island. There is some time to rest but not a lot. It’s tiring but well worth it!
Galapagos Islands are beautiful and worth the travel time to get there. We are so glad we went. Our hope is that our review helps others with food challenges or just someone who wants more details about the trip.
Cabin was very small but adequate. The daily fridge refill was excellent. The rooms were quiet and comfortable.