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Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Los Angeles
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Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

I contact Happy Gringo and they gave me several options for our potential travel dates. While looking over them, the following two options seem to have the best dates, itineraries, and prices. We're not stuck on just these two, but they are the ones we're heavily considering at the moment. Please offer any input, pros/cons etc. to help us decide!

Cachalote:

8 DAY CRUISE (A)

Day 1 AM Arrival in Baltra and transfer to boat

PM Santa Cruz: Twin Craters andCharles Darwin Station

Day 2 AM Santiago: Chinese Hat

PM Rabida

Day 3 AM Isabela: Villamil Port

PM Isabela: Sierra Negra Volcano

Day 4 AM Isabela: Moreno Point

PM Isabela: Elizabeth Bay

Day 5 AM Isabela: Urbina Bay

PM Isabela: Tagus Cove

Day 6 AM Fernandina: Espinoza Point

PM Isabela: Vicente Roca Point

Day 7 AM Santiago: Egas Port

PM Bartholomew

Day 8 AM North Saymour

PM Baltra: Transfer to the airport

Floreana Yacht:

8 DAY CRUISE NORTHERN ISLANDS

Thu. AM Baltra Airport and transfer for boat

PM Santa Cruz Island: Twin Craters

Fri. AM Genovesa Island: Darwin Bay

PM Genovesa Island: El Barranco

Sat. AM Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay

PM Bartholomew Island

Sun. AM Chinese Hat

PM Santa Cruz Island: Ballena Bay

Mon. AM

PM Isabela Island: Tintoreras / Wetlands / Wall of Tears / Breeding Center

Tue. AM Fernandina Island: Espinoza Point

PM Isabela Island: Tagus Cove

Wed. AM Santiago Island: Egas Port

PM Rabida Island

Thu. AM. Daphne Island

PM Baltra Airport

Thanks!

Oceanside...
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1. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

I can't speak to differences in the boats, since I don't know either of them. The major difference I see in the 2 itineraries is that the Cachalote spends lots of time exploring the western shore of Isabela while the Floreana replaces most of the Isabela landings with Genovesa. Genovesa is a wonderful island and the sea bird breeding colonies there are a wonder to behold. (And you behold them pretty much eye to eye as you follow the path right past the nests.) The Floreana gives you a taste of the western shore of Isabela (Tagus) and you get to Fernandina too. So my vote would be for the Floreana, because you get a sampling of 3 of the best islands (in my opinion).

But really, either one will provide you with lots of extraordinary experiences.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Edited: 21 October 2011, 16:39
Los Angeles
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2. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Tina,

Thanks so much for your feedback. That's exactly the type of information I need! My husband has mentioned wanting to see the red footed boobies and from what I'm finding on-line Genovesa would likely be our only chance to see them. Of course, it's never so simple... The Floreana is more of a tourist-superior class boat vs the Cacholote which is more on the first-class list. The price difference is about $300/pp. I think we'd prefer the nicer boat, but both seem to get good reviews, so maybe saving the $300/pp and getting to include Genovesa isn't such a bad thing. Gosh, decisions decsions...

Brentwood, United...
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3. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

I have just returned from a 8 day trip on the Cachalote. I cannot speak

too highly for the Captain and his crew and in particular Juan Tapia our

local Guide, he was a great naturalist and leader. He really looked after

us and was a great fund of knowledge of the wildlife and ecology of the

area having lived there for 23 years.

We were a private party of birders and photographers and our itinerary was

very similar to that on offer except we visited Espangola for the breeding

Waved Albatross. They only have a limited breeding season so it is quite

likely your proposed trip is outside their breeding season.

We did make several landings on Isobela but not as many as on the proposed trip. One of the landings just below Carro Azul was one of the highlights of the trip for me since the point of our lading was barren lava rock

which was just 300 years old. In this moonscape scenery you could see the

begins of plant life in the catcus and mangrove growing. A really awesome

landscape.

As with all yatches cabin space was rather limited and you really need to

know your partner to share a cabin! I was lucky in having booked a single

berth I was allocated Cabin 8 which is on the top deck and tbe most

spacious. Comments has been made in other Reviews regarding the food on

the Cachalote. Although in no way can it be considered high cuisine I

found it plentiful, varied , well cooked, mainly using local produce.

Considering the limited space available for the chef he worked wonders.

I was also impressed with the services of Enchanted Expeditions the owners

of Cachalote. I was 'bumped ' off my direct flight from Madrid to Quito

by Iberian Airways. I was re-booked to fly via Bogata and arrived at

Quito Airport at midnight, eight hours later than scheduled. The EE rep at

Quito was waiting for me to drive me to my hotel where in the morning I

joined the rest of my party. Excellent service.

The Galapagos had been on my wish list for many years and it lived fully

up to my expectations I can highly recommend the crew of the Cachalote,

Juan and the EE organisation.

Below are a few of the pics I took during my trip. You will have plenty of

opportunity to see Blue footed Boobies close up which ever itinerary you follow on the Islands.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/64676991@N03/sets/72157627811383983/

Edited: 21 October 2011, 19:27
Los Angeles
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4. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Thank you so much for the feedback Love2Roam. It sounds like you had a great trip and the Cachalote really does sound like the perfect boat for us. I just wish it included Genovesa too, but that is not necessarily a deal breaker for us. I'm still trying to way all the pros and cons of each.

One quick question, how did you secure cabin #8? Was it just assigned randomly or did you book early, request it, etc. I've seen the pictures and would love to be able to get that one if we do chose the Cachalote.

By the way, we are looking at the last week of April if that makes a difference regarding which itinerary to chose.

Los Angeles
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5. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Well, just found out that the Cachalote is starting to require all guests to buy their plane tickets through them to fly in on the same plane. We're planning to use flyer miles so that throws a wrench into the works. The Floriana is starting to look a little better...

Miami, Florida
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6. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

FadeAway,

I am concerned you might be getting the wrong info regarding air tickets.

You might want to contact Enchanted Expeditions at info@enchantedexpeditions.com and ask them directly .

Brentwood, United...
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7. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Regarding my flight I decided for personal reasons to fly out seperately from the rest of the party. I am not surprised that an operator may require the party to fly into Quito together since I could have been in a very difficult position since there is only one direct flight from Madrid to Quito each day. Our party left the hotel in Quito at 6.30 am next day for our flight to Baltra.

Since you are going on a trip in April the Waving Albatross would have left it's breeding site on Espanola and hence that is not included in your proposed trip.. Since Genovesa is some way north of the other Islands it can only be included in a completely different itinerary. I see it is the only location in the Galop for the Red Footed Boobie.

Regarding the allocation of cabins this was done probably by my tour operator presumably in conjunction with EE. I must admit I was a little embarrassed when I mentioned that my wardrobe door kept banging in the night, to find that I was the only one in the party to have a wardrobe! I did however pay quite a high price for my trip arrangements.

Although I would still wish to recommend the Cachalote I think that the number of landings on Isabela does seem to be excessive and a more varied itinerary may be preferable. I think it is very difficult to compare trips on a personal basis since every one has their own preferences. I am sure which ever operator you choose to use for your proposed trip you will have a great time.

Edited: 22 October 2011, 08:40
Los Angeles
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8. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

Thanks again for your feedback Love2Roam. I have confirmed that cabin #8 is available if we were to decide on that cruise, but given the flight situation, it looks like we'll be going on a different ship.

Crewtips, I will contact them directly if we decide that the Cachalote is the cruise we really want; however, the agent at Happy Gringo said she called them today and they told her that it is a new rule for 2012 for all their ships. I can understand wanting to make sure everyone gets in at the same time, but what if someone were to book on the same flight, just independently, or if they were to fly into Baltra a day or two early? I can't imagine a cruise operator wanting to pass up business like that, for basically no reason!

For what it's worth, she said the Floreana said they would let us make our own flight arrangement only if we are arriving in Baltra a day early.

Still leaning toward the Floreana...

Thanks again!!

Edited: 22 October 2011, 12:29
Bristol, United...
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9. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

I would strongly advise against trying to arrive independantly on the day of your cruise regardless of what the boat operator allows. Flights are often not on schedule (or you could get bumped off) and if your flight arrives later than the official one you will most likely miss the boat. It's not like regular cruises where they stay in port for most of the day and you can walk on any time. These boats anchor off shore and the guide takes everyone at the same time on an inflatible boat to meet it. Often it then sails to the first destination with a visit that afternoon.

If you do arrive at Batra a day early you will need to transfer to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz to find a hotel as there is nothing on Baltra and then return the next day. Allow a couple of hours for the transfer. Bus is free from airport to Itabaca Canal. Then get the foot ferry for a few cents to Santa Cruz - luggage goes on the roof. From there you can get a taxi for $15.

Genovesa is the only place you will see red footed boobies and is one of my favourite islands. Its a long way so less often visited and restricted to the smaller boats and to cruises only. On the other hand, N Seymour is also nice with good access to frigates - very close so more often visited and available as day trip from Santa Cruz.

Quito, Ecuador
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10. Re: Help picking a boat and itinerary.... please!!!

It´s definitely a good idea to book via the company if you ARE going to arrive on departure day. You´ll manage to better secure your seat, and the ship will wait for you should anything unforeseen come up!

If you are planning to arrive a few days early, you could certainly do this booking on your own if you wish. Sometimes ship companies have discounts/deals with the airlines they work with, so perhaps the "new rule" is that you should book the flights through them, but you could certainly arrive earlier, and perhaps even get a discount. BEst to check directly with the.

As for itineraries they are both certainly nice, but my personal two favorite islands are Genovesa and Fernandina: if a ships has these two highlights intheir itinerary, I´d jump on it!

Have a great time!