General Thoughts on a Galapagos Cruise

Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

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8 days was a great length for us.  If it was any shorter, I would have felt like I missed something.  However, if you are not very interested in wildlife and nature, 5 days would probably be better for you just to get a taste of the islands.  4 days seems too short since you spend a day arriving and another day departing.  I would not have minded 5 days on the boat and 2-3 nights at a hotel on Santa Cruz Island.

 

You do not have to be athletic at all to do the daily excursions.  However, you do have to feel comfortable getting in and out of the boat that is in shallow water on a beach (with help), and you have to be comfortable walking from rock to rock.  These are things you get used to with practice J  Hikes were 100 yards to 1 ½ miles long, but most of them on the shorter side.

 

If you are a very active person, a multi-sport island hopping tour might be better for you.  Our “hikes” were very short and very slow.  We were able to snorkel every day, and kayak twice, so that definitely helps, but for me there is not enough activity to offset all the sitting around on the boat.

 

We did not schedule any scuba diving on our trip mostly because I thought we would miss something on the islands if we did.  It would have been alright with me to replace a couple of the snorkels with diving.  However, diving is only offered in certain places, it’s very expensive (budget $250/person for a 2-tank dive), and you typically have to have a minimum of 4 divers.

 

The diving is also for advanced divers.  One couple on another boat did a dive at Kicker Rock where the current would get so strong, they would have to hold onto the rocks tightly until it passed.  Even though it was March, the warmest month, they were in 5mm wetsuits, and they were still a bit cold.

 

I thought there was more than enough food served (no one lost weight on this trip!).  However, we would save a little extra food from breakfast and lunch for our son, who would get hungry in between meals.  The kitchen people were good at giving us a sandwich at odd hours as well.

 

Our very first excursion, to Ochoa Beach, was not the best but maybe because the water was so rough.  The excursion to Phillip’s Steps was also not great, but maybe because it was so hot and we walked so slow.  I really liked all the other excursions, and I wished we had more time in Puerto Ayora.

 

Snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, and all soft drinks were included on our cruise, but that is not the case on all cruises, so be aware of that expense.

 

Bring books and games as there is a lot of down time on the boat.

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SAN CRISTOBAL INTREPRETATION CENTER

 

Our last morning on the Galapagos, sigh….  We were up early, got packed, a quick breakfast, and then we said good-bye to the Flamingo I.  It was a sunny day, and the harbor looked beautiful.

 

We took the pangas to the pier.  You would think that we had our fill of sea lions, but we had to take another dozen pictures of the sea lions lounging in various dinghies and on the pier.

 

A bus was waiting for us to take us to the San Cristobal Interpretation Center about 1 mile away.  It was a self-guided tour, which talks about the history of the Galapagos including the natural history, human habitation, and development/conservation issues.  There is also a walking trail that goes beyond the museum, but none of us got through the museum in time to take advantage of the trail.

 

PUERTO BAQUERIZO MORENO

 

The bus took us back to town, and we had about 1 ½ hours to relax in town.  Unfortunately, there are not many stores open on a Sunday morning.  The main strip is about 3 blocks long, so we walked the length one way and by the time we turned around, things were starting to open up.

 

I thought the town was very cute, relatively clean, and people were nice.  Prices were better than in Santa Cruz, but it was all touristy things (t-shirts, etc.) and no expensive artwork.  There were also a couple of playgrounds for the kids.

 

SAN CRISTOBAL AIRPORT

 

Our bus took us to the airport where all our luggage was already checked in, and our guide handed us our boarding passes.  Then we had about 1 ½ hours to hang out, yawn….  There are a couple of shops and one small food market (hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, ice cream, soft drinks, and beer).

 

FLIGHT TO QUITO

 

The flight to Quito was uneventful.  It stops in Guayquil on the way.  We said good-bye to some of our friends from the boat who were departing from Guayaquil.  The rest of us just stayed on the airplane, and a few more people joined us.  They served a meal on the flight, so it wasn’t important to bring food on the airplane.

 

QUITO

 

Luggage came of quickly at the Quito Airport.  It’s important to keep your luggage tags because they check all the luggage when leaving.

 

We walked outside and found a taxi.  They are in a line, but it doesn’t seem to matter if you take the first taxi or not.  Remember the price is negotiable.  We paid $6 to the Swissotel, which is more than we paid from the Mercure even though I think it is about the same distance.

 

We arrived in Quito mid-afternoon, and my plan was to take this opportunity to get some laundry done.  Unfortunately, I didn’t plan on the Sunday factor.  Nothing was open.  I also needed more tape for my video camera, but I couldn’t find any open electronic stores either.

 

While I wandered around town looking for laundry and electronics, my husband and son explored the swimming pool in the hotel and had a great time.  It is an indoor-outdoor pool with a waterfall.  You are given a locker, which includes a robe, bath towel, work out towel, and slippers.  The spa also has a hot tub, sauna, and steam room.  You gotta love it!

 

For dinner, we went to the La Ronda Restaurant.  On Sundays at 7:00pm, they have a Folklorico show which includes musicians and dancing.  It was really nicely done.  The food was also really good.  Some dishes were very reasonably priced and others seemed overpriced, so pick accordingly.

 

LODGING:

 

The Swissotel is one of the nicest hotels in Quito.  We were greeted by a doorman in a top hat, warm towel, and fresh juice.  We had seen some amazing roses in Ecuador, but the lobby had some of the nicest.

 

We were in a suite, which had 2 queen beds in one room, a separate dining table with coffee maker, 1 ½ bathrooms, and comfy robes.

 

CLOTHING:

 

It was warm in the Galapagos, so I wore lightweight long pants and a short sleeved shirt, but I took a long sleeve shirt along for Quito.

 

It always feels nice outside when we go to dinner in Quito, but it is always chilly when we get back, so I wore long pants, long sleeve shirt, and a light jacket in the evening.

 

FOOD:

Breakfast was a buffet of French toast, sausage, toast, fruit, cereal, yogurt, and juice of pureed unidentifiable fruit.

Everyone seemed to have snacks in town and/or at the airport (mostly ice cream).

Lunch on the first flight was a full meal with chicken or beef with rice, salad, roll, and dessert.

My husband had fillet mignon at La Ronda, which was excellent and reasonably priced ($14 for a nice sized steak).  My son and I split the seafood stew, which he liked more than me, and it was pretty expensive ($28).  We also ordered a Caesar salad, which was very good.  The total meal with wine, salads, entrees, and desserts came to $105.

Galapagos Islands
photo by: Melboorn