We did a 10-night tour on the first class Anahi and we thought it was a terrific boat.
It accommodates 16 passengers, in addition to the crew. We wanted to be in a smaller group and we believe this was definitely a good choice.
They offer four cruise itineraries, two 7-nights itineraries (A2 and B2, see the Anahi link below) and two 3-night itineraries (A1 and B1). We did the A1 and B1 itineraries, which did not overlap (be careful because some of them do), which seemed to be the best ones, and which were in any case wonderful.
The itinerary was carefully thought out and was wonderful. Every morning and afternoon we had a full schedule of one or two activities that were usually hikes or snorkeling, but that also included visits to nature centers and optional kayaking. Every evening before dinner we were briefed on the activities for the next day so that we could prepare ourselves mentally and bring proper clothes and footwear. We were able to visit some very remote locations including on Fernandina and the west side of Isabel. The only major islands we missed were Santa Fe and Genovesa; we definitely had the feeling that we saw almost everything there was to see in Galapagos. Long-distance traveling between islands was done mostly at night so as not to take time away from sightseeing during the day, but occasionally we traveled during the day to see whales and dolphins or when the schedule made this unavoidable.
The boat has been operating for many years and therefore it has the right to visit some select locations that we were told newer boats do not because access licenses are limited. There were several places we visited where we saw only two other boats and there was one place where we were the only boat, so this seems believable.
The food was very good and plentiful. We are adventurous about food, and unfortunately the food on any group tour is going to suffer from a lowest common denominator quality, but we were nevertheless happy. Every meal included meat and fish. All hot dishes were thoroughly cooked. There was always an excellent selection of salads, though some of them became repetitive, and occasionally there were local dishes served. A couple of times when the schedule and weather permitted we had a barbecue on the deck. We would have liked to eat more local dishes, particularly fresh seafood and cevices, and some rare or less cooked options, but tour operators have to be cautious because they can run into finicky passengers. A couple of times we got the other passengers together and had the captain buy for us gigantic lobsters at the markets on shore. Then the chef grilled them for us and we were out of our minds with happiness.
The layout of the boat is excellent. One of our favorite features was that the windows are fairly large and can be opened. We traveled in September, the coolest month, and always slept with the windows open. There are two suites which are huge and nice, but have the disadvantage that the windows open onto an upper walkway that is not heavily used, but still you do not have full privacy if you open the windows, and actually we’re not even sure that the windows in the suites could be opened at all. In the ordinary rooms the windows open directly onto the water, so they can be left open all night, when getting out of the shower, etc… without privacy concerns. Most other boats that we saw either had windows that didn’t open, or they opened onto a walkway so you wouldn’t have full privacy, or in some luxury boats they opened onto a balcony, but the balcony might not be fully private and even if it were you might not want one between your window and the water. It was great to wake up in the morning or even the middle of the night and just stick our heads or cameras out. Most boats seemed to have rooms that were accessed from outside by an outer walkway. Our rooms were accessed indoors by a central hallway, which was much better, imo.
The beds were big and comfortable. Unfortunately, only the two suites and two of the other double rooms have double beds. The other four rooms have twin beds, which is a shame if you are a couple, though the twin bed layouts are slightly more spacious than the ordinary double bed layouts, especially in the bathrooms. (Note that the boat layout in the link below which shows that all standard rooms have twin beds is not quite correct.) There are two good tall storage closets and a safe in each room, and there was enough extra space in the small hallway inside our room to store our two large suitcases. There is a small desk, with power outlets where you can charge camera batteries and plug in electronic devices and also a power outlet on the night table between the beds. The bathroom is large and comfortable, with plenty of hot water in the shower and with soap and shampoo dispensers. You get one small bottle of drinking water each at the start of the trip, and there is a water cooler in the common area that you can fill it from as often as you like. (We had an extra bottle that we brought with us, which was convenient.)
A disadvantage of a smaller boat is that you really feel that you are at sea. When we traveled in choppy weather, usually at night, the boat moved several feet up and down over the waves, and this took several days for my wife to get used to (I was mostly ok with it). The motor makes noise, but with earplugs I didn’t hear much.
The dining room and relaxation area are each large enough to accommodate all 16 passengers comfortably at the same time. There is lots of space on the decks to sit in the sun or outside in the shaded bar area. If you go during the hot season and everyone wants to sunbathe at the same time there won’t be enough long beach chairs for everyone, but if that is an issue then why not save money and go to Miami instead of Galapagos, and anyway the sun in Galapagos is brutal, so you really shouldn’t be sunbathing at all. We went in September, a cooler month, and there was always plenty of space on the decks. There is a whirlpool bath, but it is filled rarely because the sea has to be calm and it has to be emptied again before cruising otherwise the bathwater would spill everywhere.
I rented a wetsuit and this was a rare failing on the part of Anahi. There weren’t enough wetsuits to guarantee that everyone gets the right size, and the suits are 3 or 4 mm thick, which was not thick enough in the cool month of September. Also many of the suits are frayed or even ripped. I had to snorkel with one arm across my chest to block the stream of cold water that would otherwise run down my chest. If you come in the cool season I would recommend bringing your own wetsuit (maybe $100-150 online) unless you really can’t spare the space and weight in your baggage. (My wife brought her own and they offered to buy it from her for the price she had paid for it, until they saw that it had a rip in it, so if you buy a suit just for the trip you might be able to sell it to them if they are still buying.) Don’t know what to say about the warm season, when the water is warmer but still not warm. The free snorkeling gear provided by Anahi looked fine, though not as good as what we brought with us from the US for maybe $60 per set, so you might consider bringing snorkeling equipment too.
Our guide was the famous Roberto, who we see has been mentioned many times here on TA. We thought he was great. He indeed appears to be one of the very best guides in the Galapagos. My wife sometimes lagged behind our group to take pictures and heard some of the other guides speak; she said they were not nearly as good. We have seen Roberto mentioned in association with Anahi, so there is a good chance you will get him, but he must take breaks as well. You can try asking if he will be there, but that information might not be available, especially if you book in advance. A good guide is important; there’s no internet access in Galapagos, so you can’t just look up Wikipedia on your smartphone if you get a clueless guide.
All of the other staff were terrific as well. I cut myself on a rock snorkeling and they were very helpful about cleaning and disinfecting the cut and then keeping it properly bandaged. They were also generally friendly and cheerful and were helpful with a number of miscellaneous favors that we asked.
For more information, here is a link to a page that includes a post on May 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM by Rose A. We found this post very helpful before we left and we agreed with it once we were there. Thank you Rose A for helping to convince us to take this boat.
Rose A also found a link to a great page that indicates which tours on each boat go to which islands to help you plan:
Here is the website of the Anahi where you can see prices, pictures, and the detailed itineraries: