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8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Boston...
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8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

My friend and I are just beginning to plan our first trip to the Galapagos. We are so excited. I began looking and feel pretty overwhelmed with the number of options in terms of boats and itineraries of where they go. I was hoping someone could help with some advice.

Here is what we know to help focus the advice I am looking for....

1.We would like a smaller boat (16 people seems much more my speed than 100!). I like the idea of sail/motor, although could consider just a motor if that makes more sense. A boat called the Sea Cloud was recommended by a friend who went and had a positive experience. Anyone know about this boat as compared with others? Are there others we should consider?

2. We are looking for an 8 day/7 night tour (as long as I am going all the way down there, I feel 4 nights would be too brief.

3. We would like a clean boat with a knowledgable staff (I am sure everyone wants this and all the boats say they have this). I would also like our own bathroom.

4. Our budget is in the $2000/pp range +/-

5. We would like do be able to do some snorkeling/kayaking (I assume this is pretty standard?)

6. Are there certain islands or places that we need to make sure we have included in our itinerary?

7. Do we need to be concerned about rough seas on a small boat in late July early Aug?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Adam

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Just my two cents about the smaller boat; I always envisioned going to the Galapagos on a small boat, but when relatives who are into cruising suggested we go together, they considered the 98pax Celebrity Xpedition to be a small boat. I did all kinds of research on different options, thinking I would convince them to go with a 16-person deal. What I discovered was that in the end, you were getting a lot more for the same or less $$$. The Xpedition was truly all-inclusive; the others had zillions of add-ons to the initially-attractive rate. Comparing accommodations, the Xpedition also won with its great all-outside cabins. So I "conceded" to going on the big ship rather than pressuring the others into going on something they would view as less comfortable and potentially more costly. If I had to go back on my own -- guess what? I became a convert to the big ship. In addition to the price and comfort factors mentioned, the Xpedition provided many more options every day than a small boat -- i.e. more naturalists, more excursions and more variety of people. Group sizes for shore excursions are limited by law and guides are required. On a small boat, we would basically have been stuck with the same crowd the entire time--like it or not. With a larger "pool" of people, it was easier for the guides to accommodate everyone's interests and limitations w/o compromising. On the ship itself, my sig other and I were always amazed how passengers disappeared into their cabins, leaving us vast amounts of deck to ourselves--and the whales, turtles, rays and birds. There was also a lot of choice for food. I have to admit that I had misconceptions about what it would mean to be on a larger ship than I had dreamed of; in reality, I found greater amounts of privacy than would have been possible on a small boat. Just something to consider. Our trip was in March; July/Aug would likely be even less busy and we only had 70 or so pax. The itinerary can vary according to what islands are open at the time and other conditions. Look at the brochures and see what options are and which seem most important too you, but it's all pretty standard, as you suggested. Snorkeling options were many, with options for different skill levels. I was bowled over by snorkeling with penguins, iguanas, sea lions, eagle rays and huge turtles, not to mention fish, etc. You will be amazed -- no matter what boat you go on. Have fun.

Ottawa, Canada
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for Galapagos Islands
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2. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Dear adm,

I'm a small boat person too. I've cruised on the Santa Cruz (90 pax), been on the Polaris (no longer operating, but was a 90 pax ship) and cruised on the Sagitta and Lobo de Mar (both 16 pax). It's just a more intimate experience - after all, you are in Galapagos with a focus on what is off the boat, not what is on the boat. Smaller boats also tend to attract a more active crowd.

I would recommend ships like the Samba (14 pax - a bit above your budget though, but great guides), or if the $2,000 line is rigid, then something like the Angelito - owned and operated by a guide (Maja), and does a great job.

Large boats are nice too! I did a transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary II this past August, and it was GREAT! They have more space, and more on-board luxuries and activities. But I still think that smaller boats make you feel, well, just "small" in front of the vast wilderness of Galapagos - it's my opinion that you just don't want to come to Galapagos like a conqueror - but rather like a modest guest.

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Oceanside...
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3. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

We sailed on the Tip Top II in Sept., 2009--a 16-passenger motor yacht. The boat was spic and span, every day; all cabins had their own private (albeit small) bathrooms. The crew was wonderfully helpful and attentive; the naturalist guide was superb. In my opinion, 2 must-see islands are Genovesa and Espanola; if a boat's itinerary doesn't go to those 2, I'd consider another boat.

Snorkeling and kayaking were available just about every day except the day we stopped in Santa Cruz (highlands in the morning, Puerto Ayora in the afternoon).

Sept. is purported to have the roughest seas; we were there then and indeed some of the seas were quite, um, lively. My guess is that the closer you get to Sept., the more you risk having the transition from the less calm seas. But you can hit rough seas any time, anywhere. I suggest you bring motion sickness remedies just in case. In our group, almost 2/3s used the scopolamine patches or some other remedy--including my husband, who has been a sailor for decades. You just never know... Also, the waters around the more southern islands were getting chilly at that time, so consider bringing a wet suit (or a half one) for snorkeling, if the boat you choose doesn't supply them.

You can read a write-up (text and photos) of our trip here, if you're interested: http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/. You can chose any outing that might interest you from that home page. A description of life on the Tip To II can be found under the "Practicalities" page.

Quito, Ecuador
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4. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

This is a good summary of aspect to keep in mind: sangay.com/last_minute_offers/…

Quito, Ecuador
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5. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

The Sea Cloud (when it was operating) was a very good cruise option. Sadly it no longer operates. However, if the Sea Cloud (motor sailer) is what you are looking for then you might want to consider such similar vessels as: beagle, Cachalote, Mary Anne, Sagitta & Alta.

Boston...
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6. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Thank you. Yeah I just discovered sea cloud is no longer operating. I like the idea and look of a sail/motor option, but I hear they are not as stable and people get seasick on them more often. Any thoughts about this? Some of the other similar ships are a bit more money, so may go with Angelito, Tip Top II or Samba, but Cachalote may be an option. Thanks for all of this useful info!

Adam

Bristol, United...
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7. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Be aware that almost all of the motor sailers will never put up a sail and will run on the engines all the time. The advertising pictures and even discriptions of these ships are very misleading.

I have been on the Beagle and would book it again no problem. If you get rough water then all the boats around Galapagos will be thrown about a bit because they are all relatively small. Do check the itinerary of the Beagle as it does different itineraries on alternate weeks (for the last year). Most websites still have out of date details.

Quito, Ecuador
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8. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Adam,

Actually, I should clarify that the Sea Cloud has been renamed Nautilus and only operates as a scuba diving cruise.

The seas generally start to get a bit choppy in mid/late August through to the start of October. Yes, a sailer (or motor sailer) will rock in open waters more than wider vessels (i.e., motor boats and the even more stable and wide motor catamarans). Even more so in rougher seas, as they tend to rock a bit even in calm waters. Sea sickness greatly depends on how sensitive one is. There are medication & patches to alleviate this problem to some degree if necessary.

Other (non sailers) that you may wish to include I would say are: Samba (one of my favourites - good price and very good itinerary), Angelito, Archipel I & II (motor cats), Galaxy, Nemo II, Eden (a bit basic but great itinerary).

Robin

Edited: 07 January 2010, 18:28
Gerrards Cross
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9. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

Just came back from 7 day cruise on Beluga. Wonderful trip went to outer islands excellent snorkelling/food/guide/roomy boat. Only 13 of us on boat which was perfect. See Enchanted Expeditions which own the boat. Eclectic mix of passengers - ages 27 yrs to 63 yrs - US/UK/Austrian/Polish/Canadian. Great!

USA
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10. Re: 8 day cruise -looking for recommendations

I and my boy-friend also sailed on the Beagle this last August, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly. I researched the trip for three months, and settled with www.vayaadventures.com. Jim was a great help in booking and finding the right trip for us, and we really thought highly of our naturalist, Daniel Sanchez. We snorkeled everyday (sometimes twice). we did bring our own wetsuits, although you can rent them. The ocean wasn't too choppy in late August.

Also, the Beagle crew was nice and the food was good. We usually don't go on tours, but everyone in our group (12 total) was cool. Galapagos was amazing, I recommend you go.