Without question, this was the trip of a lifetime. First thing, do not imagine that you are taking a 'cruise'. If that's what you want, then you need to book on a much bigger boat.
We took the 5 day northern itinerary in December - and entirely happy with that choice. We chose cabin 5, and would do again. There is a fair bit of difference in how the cabins are accessed, and really all of them are quite compact, especially the toilet/shower combo. When you first look at the boat you cannot imagine how it's going to accommodate 16 guests and 6 crew, but it is an absolute triumph of space utilisation and there are several covered areas and big deck areas for you to enjoy your adventure.
You're going to be doing everything together on this trip and, in our group at least, everyone engaged in making this a great experience for the whole group.
We were blown away by the snorkelling and the teaming sealife beneath us, never done that before, and just, wow! Also did a bit of kayaking and the walking trips on land as well were great. We felt the tour was very well organised, our guide was knowledgeable and we would recommend to anyone with an adventurous spirit. There weren't any children on our trip, and generally I don't think it's a suitable thing for children. I guess teenagers would be OK if they're already accustomed to boats and can live without wifi for a few days!
Some of the other negatives noted in other reviews are true - there is a weird odour in the cabins, the engines rumble away quite noisily and you won't be in the jacuzzi much. Once again, this is an adventure, not a cruise. My wife and I felt a bit seasick the first evening, but slept OK the first night. By the second day we didn't feel seasick at all, and slept superbly well every night even though at times the boat was being thrown about by quite a heavy sea (maybe helped in that by the packed itinerary and the excitement and exhaustion of it all).
We booked through Nemo Galapagos Cruises and that all worked OK - maybe a bit concerning whether all the arrangements were properly sorted, but there was someone to meet us at Quito airport as promised....
Our family party of four adults joined 10 other guests for a week cruising the Galápagos Islands. Nemo Three is a lovely catamaran and we loved the space on deck. The food was excellent and we enjoyed the added morning and afternoon fruit juices and snacks. Alexis our guide was a mine of information, and once the group had settled he relaxed and was lively and great fun. He spoke excellent English and showed a real passion for the Islands. The crew were outstanding - quiet, efficient and unobtrusive.
My only reservations were the small size of the cabins (OK just for sleeping) and the excessive noise level in cabin no 5 which I shared with my wife. I think this was caused by the boats generator and pumps which were on all the time so there was no respite. They are located right beside cabin 5. We also had problems with the toilet flushing mechanism which broke and had to be fixed twice.
Before you book a tour on NEMO III beware. There are a few things you need to know. If, after reading this, you choose to book your tour with NEMO, don't say you were not warned or aware. First, they sell this tour, be it the 8 day or the shorter tour, as a first class tour of the Galapagos. While the boat is beautiful, and visually appealing, and the reason we rate NEMO 2 stars, the service is far from first class and the accommodations need improvement. I cannot recommend this tour based on the accommodations, nor the tour, nor the service provided.
Specifically; The odor of engine fumes, from both the main engine and the electric generator, are so overwhelming at times they made most of the passengers nauseous at one time or another. The electric generator needs to run 24 hours a day to power the radios, navigation instruments and lights. The engine room is not insulated for sound and the noise is overwhelming. Do not plan on resting or getting a good nights sleep on NEMO III. One of the other passengers reporting being unable to sleep at all twice. At times you leave your cabin and are overwhelmed by the engine fumes. At times we found the inside common area to nauseating to stay in. We had to ventilate our cabin daily as the air conditioning could not, or the AC was also filled with engine exhaust.
The Jacuzzi is for the photos only. It takes an hour to fill with sea water, which contained dirty foam on our trip, and then another half hour to heat. Do not choose this tour based on the Jacuzzi as you probably wont want to, or cant, use it.
The food, a nice mix of American/European food and local dishes, made one of us, and one of the other passengers, very sick. This is not an isolated issue as we were surprised to find out the boat stocks Pedialite for severe diarrhea. We were a group of 14 and there was not enough room for everyone to eat a meal at the same time on the rear deck. People were walking across the bench seats you see in the photos and stepping over other people to get to their seats.
14 people in the zodiac boat they use to ferry people back and forth to the islands and for snorkeling, plus 2 crew and the guide, is not safe and a few times on our trip people almost fell overboard. The other tours we saw all used 2 zodiac boats to ferry passengers with a similar group size (you will encounter other tours, as all the tours use the same approved paths outlined by the national park).
The guide we had was rude. He walked away from us, refused to answer our questions, yelled at us on several occasions, and refused to help with the snorkeling part of the itinerary. The itinerary you think you are buying is not what we received. The itinerary was modified, for reasons that were never explained to us, and management refused to address the issue.
The bathrooms, while cleaned daily, did not have a dedicated shower. The shower head extended out over the sink, and when you take a shower you are also showering the toilet, the sink, and everything you have in the bathroom. Imagine putting your toilet and sink inside your shower. You have to store your toothbrush, make up, medication, deodorant, etc., outside the bathroom or it gets soaked every time the shower is used. The guide that was provided to us was overheard speaking to the guide from another tour about a job and his attitude with some of the passengers was apparent and deteriorated as the tour went on. He sent us in the general direction of the Darwin Research Station once and told us he would join us later, after his Job interview.
The smaller size of the boat meant that at night, when we did most of our travelling from Island to Island, with both motors noisily chugging away filling the boat with exhaust fumes, meant that in rough seas the boat moved quite hard up and down and side to side. My wife almost fell out of the bed when she went airborne at 1AM one night. Bring sea sickness pills even if you think you wont need them.
While the boat, NEMO III, is beautiful, and visually clean, we cannot recommend this tour or the service provided. We wish management was more responsive and accommodating, but unfortunately, like the guide they gave us, they could not be bothered with customer service. NEMO is anything but first class.
The islands and the animals and the Galapagos experience are not proprietary, you can experience the beauty of the Islands with a lot of tours on other boats. Please explore all the other options available before you book on NEMO III.
This is a very, very expensive boat ride that stocks Pedialite with a guide who could not be bothered and will not think twice about leaving you in the water while your snorkeling.
Thank you to the Nemo III crew and team for a wonderful trip on the Northern Galapagos! We really enjoyed all aspects of the catamaran, the crew and all of the amenities on board. We had never experienced a trip on a cat prior and now we are excited to do it again! The cabins were more spacious that I had thought - we were in Cabin 5, and had plenty of storage and space in the room for 2 people to not run into each other too much. :) The food was outstanding - very impressive meals throughout the trip - the cook even baked cakes for dessert! Very fresh and delicious and always an abundance of food for the guests to enjoy. Our naturalist, Alexis was very informed about the wildlife, birds and plant life on the various islands we visited during our 5 day adventure. We really enjoyed the hiking and all of the snorkeling hat we had an opportunity, along with the afternoon downtime to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the ability to be fully unplugged from real life. The other guests on the catamaran were diverse and really enjoyed interacting with them as well.
Highly recommend the Nemo III and their team - thank you for an adventure of a lifetime!
We recently returned from an 8 day tour on the Nemo III (North Route). We had a great time
Only 16 people
Great food - we were very impressed by the cook given the limitations of the small boat size and small galley. Snacks in the AM and PM were nice - especially hot chocolate after snorkeling.
All the crew are really, really nice- Diego, Raoul, Carlos, Daniel.
Naturalist (Jairo) was a local as was very laid back and funny. Amount of scientific knowledge was just right. He knew a ton about all the animals but didn't take it too seriously.
Cabins are very small but well equipped- you don't spend a lot of time in them - just for sleeping really
Cabins 1 & 2 are best if you don't need to share a bed (Pro's: away from engines, center of boat so less rocking Cons: Loud sounds when anchor dropped or raised, slightly less privacy as directly off main lounge)- Cabins 3&4 are also really nice (higher ceilings, double beds that you don't have to crawl over each other to get out of, less engine noise - but they may not let you have them as they prefer to book these for groups of 3).
Group size is small so you are visiting islands with very few people
The birds, iguanas, tortoises, penguins, sea lions that you sea up close are amazing.We saw everything you hope/imagine to see in the Galapagos except an albatross (only on the Southern Route). It was incredible.
Whale watching and star gazing in the strait between Isabela and Fernandina was a fabulous and unexpected plus.
You are completely off line - no internet which is a huge plus
Showers had really great hot water that did not seem to run out even when everyone was showering at once
Cons - these are minor
Jacuzzi has to be heated and can only be used when boat is not sailing. Therefore most days it could not be used because when we were not on an excursion we were mostly underway. It would have been nice if crew had it filled and heated for when we returned from chilly snorkeling - but you have to remember to ask. Do not pick this boat based on the Jacuzzi (there are other good reasons to pick it - but you will be disappointed if that is a big motivator)
Engine noise in all double cabins (5,6,7,8) is pretty loud and there is a mild/solvent gasoline smell. You actually get used to the noise as white noise and it blocks out other sounds - but you have to remember to air out your cabin daily as much as possible because the air conditioning alone will not clear the hint of fumes.
Tipping is confusing - most websites say $15 per person/per day and the crew and naturalist will split. On the Nemo III they said $15 per person/per day for crew and $10 per person/per day for naturalist. This is pretty pricey and the separate envelopes is awkward. However - its just suggested and the envelopes are sealed/not marked with cabin number- so you can pay what you want. Remember to bring cash for this- they take credit cards for the bar bill and wetsuit rentals.
Briefings every day are after dinner - most nights folks were falling asleep. Despite having down time before dinner and everyone requesting briefings before dinner - the crew would not change their routine. We would have enjoyed the briefings more and gotten more out of them if we were conscious.
Don't expect much sailing - we only sailed once for a couple of hours - most traveling will be by motor.
Most folks had some trouble sleeping although only a few had issues with being seasick. You will not be well rested on this trip. It is also not really romantic re privacy - would not recommend for an intimate honeymoon trip.
Final con - there are only 16 people - so unless you are traveling with a large group of friends it is a bit of luck of the draw who you end up with. We mostly got lucky and I think this boat attracts a slightly more adventurous fun crowd given the catamaran setup which is slightly more challenging than the average cruise.
One final note - the company provided us with Galapagos transit cards which was nice - however the dates on the card were wrong. We noticed this after we when through security at the airport - so we tried to call the "emergency number" repeatedly between 7:15 and 8:00 AM. There was no answer to our emails, texts or calls. This was a little stressful. It turned out the officials in the Galapagos are pretty laid back and didn't give us any trouble about the wrong dates - but if there had been a real emergency I was not super impressed by the fact that we couldn't reach them.
Overall - highly recommended - if you have the right mindset for the trip.
Great value for the money (compared to other Galapagos cruises)
We just returned from our 5 day galapagos cruise with NEMO III. We were a group of 5 adults and 2 children and we had a wonderful time of the boat and learning about these amazing islands. From Monica who was very helpful in booking the cruise and answering all my questions over email in the week leading up to our vacation, to the crew who completely spoiled us, to the naturalist guide who answered all our questions and didn't mind if a 1 hour hike took two hours because of all our questions, they all made this once-in-a-lifetime vacation perfect for us.
The food was amazing! In addition to it being delicious and plentiful, my children (10 year old twins) loved it too! And the birthday cakes that Fabrizio made my girls (they turned 10 on the trip), and my husband (we were celebrating his birthday too) were amazing! There wasn't a bad or even mediocre meal the entire trip. If the boat sold a 'cookbook of recipes served this week' I would have totally bought it!
The cabins were great! We are a sailing family and expect to not have a lot of space or comforts on a boat, but on NEMO III we were pleasantly surprised. Plenty of space for our things, and our kids loved sleeping in the upper bunks. It was also nice to be able to rinse down after snorkeling with a hot 'shower' (although we rinsed quickly to conserve water).
The crew and guide- again, they were all very nice and made our trip the great experience it was. Alexis our guide taught us so much! Carlos and his crew kept the boat moving, but turned us around if there were dolphins swimming off the bow to show us!
Overall, we are already thinking about the next time we will take this 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip because even though we saw and learned so much, there is more to see!
Wonderful trip. Snorkeling and hikes with abundant turtles, birds, etc. Very professional crew and naturalist. Excellent food.