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Sail Date: May 2019
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the ... Read More
We boarded the National Geographic Islander as the final part of our two week long trip to Lima, Machu Picchu and parts of Ecuador. This was not our first Lindblad expedition - we had previously done one in the Sea of Cortez to see the great whale migration - so we knew what to expect. In summary: CABIN: We booked this expedition almost a year in advance and we picked the cheapest cabin. It was on the main deck. Yes, it was small but we had enough room for our clothes and toiletries. We had a window but since we spent very little daylight hours in our room, except to change shoes or clothes, we sometimes forgot it was there. The twin beds were pushed together to make one bed and the entire bed was pushed against the wall. The desk was on one side of the bed so only one person had a nightstand. Each side of the bed had a reading light and above the bed was a ledge that you could put your phone or glasses. There were enough outlets in the room to charge our devices. We didn’t need to bring adapters from the US. Closet was large and had shelves and hangers. This is also where the safe is located. We put our electronics there when we left the room, even if it was just to sit in the lounge. You cannot lock your room from the outside. We already knew this from past experience but it was a bone of contention with other tour members who had rather expensive and hefty cameras and lenses. Bathroom was a shower, sink and toilet in one room and that was rather tight so quick showers were the norm for us as we didn’t like being in there long. DINING: Large dining room with beautiful views. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, dinner was served except for the Ecuadorian buffet meal. A signup sheet was at the dining entrance every morning where we had to sign up for 1 of 3 choices - fish. beef/chicken, or pasta/vegetarian so the chef knew how much to cook. There was more than enough food and the vegetarians, vegans and anyone with food allergies never had a problem finding something good to eat. Most tables were 6-tops and 8-tops to encourage socializing. I saw only one 2-top that would be ideal for a couple except it was right by the door. The last night, we had a big cookout buffet meal on the sun deck that was lively and festive. Meals were always announced and around two hours were allotted for each meal. Otherwise the dining room was closed and many of us hung out around the lounge. LOUNGE: The lounge had a bar that Octavio presided over. There was a 24 hr coffee machine that made regular coffee as well as espresso, cappuccinos and lattes and other coffee mixes. Tea was always available as well. All of us learned how to use the coffee machine rather quickly which is mainly a matter of pushing buttons. At certain times of the day, fruit, crackers, cookies and small snacks are left out. Sodas and juice are also available all the time. The lounge was an all-purpose meeting space for emergency drills and when the guides wanted to make announcements about the next day’s events. It’s where most of use gathered for drinks and snacks before the 7pm dinner announcement. SERVICE: Service was absolutely first rate. Our room was cleaned when we were out hiking or snorkeling or swimming. Our carafe was always refilled with cold water. Little bars of Ecuadorian chocolate were left on our nightstand every night. Towels were replaced even tho we expected to use the same one everyday. We also had laundry done on the ship. There is no do-it-yourself laundry. Turn around was 24 hrs and it was like the laundry service you’d get at a 5-star resort. We spent about $40 on laundry. OTHER: The free WiFi on the ship was often slow and occasionally not available. You can buy faster internet. Details are in the cabin. I used the gym a couple times. There was a bike, treadmill and elliptical, as well as a few weights. The captain was sometimes in there on the elliptical, as well as some of the crew. The bridge was open and husband stopped by one night where the 2nd mate gave him a tour. The crew is Ecuadorian and the majority of them speak English quite well. This was a fantastic expedition and we plan to go on many more. The ship was first class, the crew was so professional and personable and we felt very well cared for. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and ... Read More
We took the 1 week Galapagos trip on the Islander (48 psgr capacity) as a family of 4. This is a relatively new tour for Nat Geo/Lindblad, 2 days shorter than their standard trip to accommodate people with limited vacation schedules, and we chose it primarily because it worked for the younger generation in our group (Millennials with limited vacation time). We came in with high expectations, due to the Nat Geo name, but had only mixed results. The itinerary included San Cristobal, Espanola, and Floreana, the Eastern portion of the archipelago. We were in a Main level cabin, which seemed to get much less movement than those two floors up. Loved being able to go straight from panga to room hot shower after snorkeling. The Galapagos are indeed amazing, and our overall memories of the experience are fond. Our single biggest complaint? With only 4 full days on the water, every day counts. Nat Geo is famous for not publishing their itineraries in advance, so imagine our surprise to only be visiting 3 islands in that 4 days. Two days were dedicated to San Cristobal - with the second day being a total bust (a 45 minute walk in an interpretive center, a 3 hour round trip to see 30 small turtles at a breeding center, and a high school student presentation). Ridiculous, and a rip-off. The 4 days you will get are totally the luck of the draw, and the shorter format increases the risk that you will get a crummy hand. We had other concerns (lack of quality onboard programming, food was average), but could have powered through those. It would be remiss of me to not recognize some of the extraordinary highs we also had on this trip - amazing snorkeling and kayaking on the last two days (with great visits to Espanola and Floreana), stargazing one night from the bow of the ship, and outstanding opportunities to view all kinds of birdlife. Loved the open bridge policy, and the Ecuadorian staff exuded pride and commitment to protection of the Galapagos. The ground staff was exemplary. This shorter trip has a lot of potential - it attracts a younger population and, from our perspective, is a very efficient use of time - but NG can not approach the itinerary in such a sloppy way if it expects it to be successful. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We loved almost everything about this trip. The naturalists were invaluable. Rafa has passion and an encyclopedic knowledge of plant and animal life which makes the long walks really interesting. Carolina is tremendously passionate and ... Read More
We loved almost everything about this trip. The naturalists were invaluable. Rafa has passion and an encyclopedic knowledge of plant and animal life which makes the long walks really interesting. Carolina is tremendously passionate and brings a positive and youthful energy to her work. Both took endless video and photos of our excursions and generously presented us with the photos and a beautifully collated video created by Carolina (bring a 16GB USB for this). They both went the extra mile to make our trip memorable. A smaller boat has plusses and minuses. The trip is intimate. There were 15 on our trip. You get to know everyone, and best of all, with Rafa’s motto of ‘flexibility’ you get a jump start on the larger boats visiting the islands. It often felt like we were the only ones there. They also have 8 guests to a guide vs 16 on larger boats. The downside is that the boat is a bit more unstable than the larger ones. Most people were unaffected but about a quarter of the boat were using patches or pills for sea sickness as the overnight travel is a bit rocky and can be up to 10 hours. The C level is a bit more exposed to engine noise, but the upper levels are excellent. We loved our room A4, which had a lot of space, I thought better than the Grace suite, A1 also looks nice. Electricity/USB etc was good, AC went on the blink one day but was mostly good. We were off Wi-Fi for the duration. The food was very good given the limitations of a small vessel, all fresh and healthy including great fish. The only comment is that they overcook the proteins. There is a good all day area with coffee, tea and snacks. The crew was excellent. The rooms were cleaned several times a day by the wonderful Nelly and all activities functioned seamlessly. Quasar does same day turnaround at the end of the trip so there is a feeling in the last 36 hours that they are keeping you off the boat to do maintenance and prep stuff. If there is one recommendation it would be to have a one day break for the crew/maintenance etc so the guests remain the focus the entire trip. There are a lot of activities, typically 4 or 5 a day, mostly in the mornings ie walks, snorkel, kayak, panga ride. You get a good early afternoon break to rest or nap. Some folks skipped some activities. Most guest were in their 60’s with varying levels of fitness but the activities cater well to all levels. When you arrive in Baltra they get you in your cabin quickly and you are doing activities within a few hours. What a wonderful experience overall. Shout out to all crew and guides and the great pre planning from Diane and Paul Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
My husband and I just finished the Footsteps in Time itinerary on the Evolution, and we could not be happier. The ship is lovely; it's modern and super clean, but it has a very classic look which sets it apart a bit from most of the ... Read More
My husband and I just finished the Footsteps in Time itinerary on the Evolution, and we could not be happier. The ship is lovely; it's modern and super clean, but it has a very classic look which sets it apart a bit from most of the others we saw. The crew was very friendly and helpful, the service was fantastic, and the food was amazing; we're not really 'cruise people' so maybe we should've expected all of this? But we were thinking it was going to be a much more casual thing, which is what we generally expect from ecotours. We were very pleasantly surprised by everything. Our guides, Rafael and Samuel, were very knowledgeable and dedicated to showing us all of the animals (after one snorkel trip failed to turn up the hoped-for hammerhead sharks, they scheduled an extra one for the following morning, which did have them.) They were patient and gave everyone plenty of time and opportunity for photos, including those they took themselves and sent to us at the end of the trip. Our cabin was at the front end of D-deck, just behind the anchors; although we did wake every time they were raised or lowered, the process didn't take long, and the trade-off was that we were the furthest from any engine noise. Earplugs were provided, and being low in the boat kept the rolling from being too noticeable. The cabin and bathroom were cleaned every time we were out of the room (something like 4 times a day) so everything was always spotless. I would not hesitate to recommend this trip. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The Galapagos are a GREAT place to visit. We were onboard the Silver Galapagos from May 30 to April 6, 2019. We chose the rainy season as the temperatures were to be warmer and the seas calmer. We were blessed to have calm seas, ... Read More
The Galapagos are a GREAT place to visit. We were onboard the Silver Galapagos from May 30 to April 6, 2019. We chose the rainy season as the temperatures were to be warmer and the seas calmer. We were blessed to have calm seas, warm days and only SPRINKLES of rain on a couple of days. With the calm seas, there were several opportunities for kayaking. While kayaking, we had sea lions trail us, saw beautiful sea stars (starfish) through the crystal waters along with turtles, iguanas and birds. The snorkeling trips were a highlight. We saw penguins, turtles, sea lions and fish all within a few feet. They seemed unconcerned with humans. Take a GoPro for underwater photos and videos. I was quite happy that I had purchased insulated thermal liners (recommended by Silversea) for under the short sleeve and short length wet suit that Silversea provided. With the insulated thermal liners (the bottoms looked like leggings but were from ScubaPro) we could enjoy the time in the cold water and were protected from the sun. It was an incredible adventure! The Galapagos are a great place to see nature up close and unwind. As noted in several reviews the ship is dated but the crew made up for that with incredible service. They were on top of everything. The small size of the ship makes it easy to get around and getting on and off the ship with the Zodiacs was quick, simple and safe. Most landings were wet so you will need water shoes. The small size also enables you to meet new friends. You see the same folks on the excursions, in the dining room and at the meetings and it’s easy to develop friendships. Our group was dealing with celiac and some food allergies to dairy, garlic and onions. Concierge Chistian, Chef Andrea Cruz and our waiter Guillermo Reina kept us safe. Chef Andrea went above and aboard in preparing delicious, safe food for us. Chef Andrea was often out during the buffets and she would always point out safe foods for me on the buffet. She made Ecuadorian stew and other special foods specifically for us. During a cooking demonstration, she even made me my own ceviche that fit my dietary restrictions! For those who require gluten free, but without the dairy allergy, they had Yucca rolls that were enjoyed by many on board the ship. The buffet was well designed with breads in a special area which made the possibility of cross contamination with gluten less. Guillermo did a great job of communicating with us about our food so we knew it hadn’t been mixed up with another order. Chistian continually checked on us to see if we needed anything. This incredible team kept us feeling well so we could enjoy this beautiful area of the world!!! Remember with food allergies to let the cruise company know when you book your reservation. Then when filling out the online forms, list the food allergies again. When you board the ship meet with the concierge to answer all questions. Silversea did a great job of keeping us safe. While snorkeling and kayaking, each group of about 12 had a guide and zodiac driver that watched over the group. During hikes, the guide watched over the group, giving help or suggestions to anyone who needed help. The Hikes were more strolls than hikes. We would walk for a bit and then listen to our guide. Some islands had very uneven surfaces that required caution. We saw flamingoes, turtles, iguanas and the blue footed boobie. Insects were only a problem on Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island beach. I was glad to have some insect repellent. Be advised that our flight from Quito to the Galapagos included a stop in Guayaquil. We stayed on the same plane, but it did add time. Additionally, it was a long day to get home. We were out of the cabins at 7:30 am and off to breakfast. Zodiacs transported us to the dock to waiting buses at 9:30 am. Shopping at the Baltra Airport was good for hats, t-shirts, etc. with prices comparable with Puerto Ayora. Looking back, I would have skipped shopping in Puerto Ayora and purchased gifts at the Baltra airport. We arrived in Guayaquil airport at around 4pm. We were provided with a day room at the Hotel Oro Verde, the hotel is beautiful, the city less so. We would have liked more time at the hotel and less at the airport. We were in the lobby by 7:45 for our transfer to our flight to Miami. We booked our own flight into Quito and out of Guayaquil, because we wanted control over the time of our flights, number of stops and wanted to have business class seats. We booked our transfer from Quito airport to the J.W.Mariott through the hotel. This worked well and the driver was on time and pleasant. We used Silversea for all other flights and transfers. We were pleased to have them take care of the baggage and details. At the Guayaquil airport, about an hour before our flight was to leave, the airline started doing random searches of carry on and checked bags. Your name was called, and you were asked to approach the ticket counter. For checked bags, an airline representative took you down an elevator to your suitcase where they ask you to unlock your suitcase. They did a quick search and you were asked to relock the suitcase. It was a bit unsettling at first, but it was not a big deal. Final note, this is an active cruise. There are typically 3 events during the day hikes , snorkeling trips, zodiac rides etc depending on the island. There is some time to rest but not a lot. It’s tiring but well worth it! Galapagos Islands are beautiful and worth the travel time to get there. We are so glad we went. Our hope is that our review helps others with food challenges or just someone who wants more details about the trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. ... Read More
This was a family cruise with 6 of us going. Very interested in seeing the ecology of the Islands. Lindblad/National Geographic did not disappoint. In fact, it was so incredible we will never forget! We saw so much and learned so much. A wonderful immersive experience. Thanks to the best crew EVER! They were so caring and informative. The small ship meant everyone received the same amazing treatment and experience. We saw almost ever Animal we hoped and not from a mile away, but right there. We swam, snorkeled, hiked our way around 6 do the Islands and each one was an experience. Each one was absolutely stunning inits landscape and animal life. On board, the ship was beautiful and the food incredible. Locally sourced and delicious. The information talks were great. Keep in mind our expedition leader has been doing this for 40 years. You can understand how good they are! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our travel list. When we were offered an opportunity to do it with friends we immediately agreed. This cruise was hosted by Lindblad / National Geographic. The cruise was great, there was no ... Read More
Visiting the Galapagos Islands has been on our travel list. When we were offered an opportunity to do it with friends we immediately agreed. This cruise was hosted by Lindblad / National Geographic. The cruise was great, there was no part of the cruise which I found lacking or poorly done. L/NG provided the smoothest transition from the airport to the hotel on the day of arrival and then the same service the next day as we flew out to the GI and boarded the Endeavor II. The handling of the people and our luggage was smooth, and quick. They transferred the people and luggage from shore to the ship in Endeavor II zodiacs. By the time we completed the buffer lunch our luggage was in our room. We traveled to and visit 6 islands, with hiking, snorkeling or kayaking available to see this natural wonder up close. Each days events were briefed in detail the night before, during an open bar happy hour, and then again in the morning. Carlos the Expedition Leader kept track of what was going an insured that the schedule was kept in order to accomplish the myriad of events which occurred through out the day. Ecuador does not allow individuals onto the islands with an Ecuador licensed Naturalist. There were seven Naturalists on board the E II. The lead all the small group tours, hikes and snorkeling. They were very knowledgeable and all were native to Ecuador. The promised sightings of the varieties of wildlife and birds always happened. Breakfast was always a buffet. Lunch was also a buffet. Dinner was a menu selection of local seafood and other meats. There were always at least three choices. One of which was Vegan/Vegetarian. The food was awesome. The ship crew was friendly and always helpful. If they had trouble with English they would find someone to help them and then help you. All the Dining and housekeeping staff spoke English fluently. The Deck Crew and Engine Crew understood English, but did not necessarily speak it well. However, they never ran away if you asked a question. They always got answer. The crew was very proud of its ship. It was clean, and in very good repair. I highly recommend this cruise, Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My husband, myself and 16 of our friends were guests in the Galapagos on the Grace, starting on Feb 9. The Quasar team also handled our ground plans in Quito, and a trip to Mashpi before and after we left Galapagos. What an amazing ... Read More
My husband, myself and 16 of our friends were guests in the Galapagos on the Grace, starting on Feb 9. The Quasar team also handled our ground plans in Quito, and a trip to Mashpi before and after we left Galapagos. What an amazing experience we have had. The Quasar team created an experience that all 18 of us agree, is one of the most memorable, and impactful of our lives. Planning the Trip We spent approximately a year planning this trip. Most of us also had Quasar plan our visit to Quito and Mashpi as well. Diane was EXCEPTIONAL. She was helpful, inspiring, and detail oriented. There was not a detail missed in either the planning, nor the execution of the trip. I am impressed, because it is not easy ‘herding cats’, but Diane does it with flawless execution, and “grace”. Based on the planning process alone, our entire group was expecting this trip to be the best of their lives. Our Quito Experience We arrived in Quito to beautiful and memorable accommodations at the Hotel Carlota, and tours of the Old City that we all loved. Carlota was filled with character and hospitality. Every Quasar guide we had was fantastic. Galapagos and the M/Y Grace team We arrived in the Galapagos and the Grace via our two guides Roberto and Carolina. From the moment we met them at the airport, to the moment we left them at the airport for our flight back to the mainland, we felt the warm, caring nature of these two really special people. We created an intimate connection with them. They led our group throughout the week with confidence, excitement, knowledge, inspiration, conscientiousness, thoughtfulness and mindful of all the details. The two of them have high emotional IQ. They intuitively knew when to make a slight change to the plans, based on the feeling of our group. This made the week feel “personalized”, even though we know that you spend great effort in following the plan that has been created. These two individuals created tremendous value towards the overall experience. Our daily snorkeling and land excursions were fantastic. The Quasar team we had last week on the Grace were beyond our wildest dreams. Our cruise director was fantastic. She made everything happen, again flawlessly. She was always so cheerful, warm, hospitable and helpful. Housekeeping was exceptional. Public areas of the yacht and our cabins were always spotless. The housekeeper was like a fairy. Every time anyone would leave their rooms, she was in there cleaning it up a little. What she was doing was like magic. I stay in a lot of hotel rooms each year and never have I felt such joy and care in housekeeping. The boat Captain leads quietly behind the scenes much of the time, but the Grace would not operate so beautifully and seemingly effortlessly without the strong leadership of the captain. I almost forgot the amazing food and culinary team. Wow! We had three amazing meals a day. All dietary requirements and preferences for some of our group, were met at each meal with really special meals. Those individuals typically feel that their needs are an afterthought, but on this trip, they felt special at each meal. They even accommodated an unplanned Caftan and Critters dinner party, as more of an informal cocktail supper on the bar deck. They prepared an amazing sushi evening. All the food the entire week was spectacular. (and many of us are fussy foodies) Many of our group travel a lot, and none of us has had an experience like your team created for us in such an “authentic” and caring way. What this teams does each day is truly special. My company consults with restaurant companies, hospitality companies and retailers. I know how hard it is for any company to consistently deliver exceptional service, hospitality and memorable guest experiences. The Quasar team, and the special small yachts, in my opinion, are unmatched in what you deliver. You are truly ‘best-in-class’. I have not been on your larger boat, but I think you have some special magic in having these smaller, intimate luxury yachts. I know our trip was somewhat unique since we basically chartered the Grace with our friends. However, this really amplifies the trip experience. It was pretty easy for us to fill the boat. I think there are a lot of people that dream of going to the Galapagos, but need a little inspiration to start. Our group appreciated being able to book with people they knew, and not have to think about anything, other than paying and packing. We saw all the other boats in the Galapagos. None matched the Quasar yachts. I can't imagine having the experience we did on the larger boats of 50 - 150 people. 16-32 people is the ideal size. We are already planning our repeat trip in 2-3 years of the other Northern itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Ok, I could only give 4 stars...because of the unrefurbished ship. But otherwise, all was perfect. Silversea will get a new ship in 2020, so if having clean, comfortable, but not shiny new accommodations will bother you, wait a year. ... Read More
Ok, I could only give 4 stars...because of the unrefurbished ship. But otherwise, all was perfect. Silversea will get a new ship in 2020, so if having clean, comfortable, but not shiny new accommodations will bother you, wait a year. You will not be disappointed with the organization of the expeditions and the care taken to ensure safety. Plus, the food is excellent even though the Galapgos has significant restrictions on food import (true for all cruises there). The Grill Restaurant was particularly fun at lunch with a keyboardist providing upbeat music. Overall, I'm glad we went when we did as the ship was just fine and really didn't detract from the main event of seeing the islands. The stay in Quito was a bonus. We self-guided ourselves through the old city and then took a taxi to Cafe Mosaico for the views and refreshments. The hotel provided was good. The day room in Guayaquil was excellent. Unfortunately we had a downpour and couldn't enjoy the city. Still, silversea made sure we were more then comfortable. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My siblings and I along with our spouses cruised on the M/Y Grace at the end of January 2019. The ship was great, the food wonderful, and the crew amazing. Ever one of the crew members was personable and made it clear they were there to ... Read More
My siblings and I along with our spouses cruised on the M/Y Grace at the end of January 2019. The ship was great, the food wonderful, and the crew amazing. Ever one of the crew members was personable and made it clear they were there to serve. The captain took time to snorkel on several days with members of our group who were not experienced snorkelers. He worked with them each day to improve their skills. The naturalists, both Rafa and Walter, were extremely knowledgeable and a lot of fun. Nothing about their presentations were rote. During our visit to one of the islands, some members of another ship started asking our naturalists questions because they found them to be more knowledgeable than the persons they had on their boat. Shout out to Saul who tended bar and served every meal. He was terrific. Also to the chefs, who served up a wonderful variety of food and very delicious desserts. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try ... Read More
My wife and I did the Western loop of the Galapagos on the Xpedition. The cruise was wonderful, meeting or exceeding all of our expectations. A detailed review follows. My wife and I generally look for values when we cruise. We try to book mainline cruise trips for $100 or less per person per day. Needless to say, there is no such option in the Galapagos. The best “deal” we could find in relative comfort was on Celebrity’s 100 passenger Xpedition. In an effort to save some money, we booked the least expensive cabin we could find at the least expensive time of the year. And we avoided the expensive mainland add-ons (to Quito and elsewhere) that Celebrity sells, booking only the seven day cruise and making all of our flight arrangements to and from the Galapagos ourselves. OK, after all of that, our cruise price per person (including taxes and fees) was still about $560 per person per day, making this the most expensive cruise we have ever done. Was it worth it? Absolutely! One thing that mitigates the cost is that this cruise is truly all inclusive. For example, no tipping is expected, and all types of alcohol are included. The only additional things my wife and I paid for on board was a $30 bag of laundry and a $23 bottle of sunblock. Yeah, not a typo, bring a lot of sunblock so you don’t have to buy any on board. We arrived two nights early and stayed in the small town of Puerto Ayora. There is a $20 visa fee tourists have to pay, and a $100 national park fee at the airport. Now Celebrity pays this as part of your cruise package, but when we arrived the officials at the airport did not yet have the “list” of Celebrity passengers, so we had to pay the fee. On the day our cruise began, however, Celebrity immediately refunded our payment, so that was no problem. OK, some details about the cruise. Embarkation was a breeze. We made our way back to the airport on the morning of the cruise and met with a Celebrity rep there. After a pleasant one-hour wait in the terminal, they put us on a short bus ride to the Baltra marina, and an Xpedition zodiac met us at the marina and took us out to the Xpedition. We were then shown immediately to our cabin. Our oceanview cabin was not particularly remarkable. In terms of size and layout it was very similar to oceanview cabins we have had on larger cruise ships. The shower was a bit bigger, and nicer, than some we have had on other ships. There was plenty of hot water, good water pressure, and the in room hair dryer worked well. The water that comes out of the taps in your cabin is, of course, potable, but it also tastes of chlorine, so the ship also has drinking water dispensers on each deck that have no chlorine taste. The food served in the main dining room was also similar in quality to what we have had on other cruise ships, but was more limited in variety and, not surprisingly, heavy on fish and seafood dishes. The food was not the best we have had, but it easily met our expectations, given the difficulty of resupply that the Xpedition faces. We were told that about 50% of the food is sourced locally, but many products that we westerners are used to (like beef) have to be flown in by Celebrity or otherwise sourced over long distances. And some of the food has to be specially treated before being allowed in the Galapagos. Ok, and now the superlatives. The ratio of crew to passengers on the Xpedition is very high, with 62 crew members vs 100 passengers. And that meant a level of service we have not experienced on any cruise. For example, our room was serviced multiple times a day, seemingly every time we left it (OK, maybe not quite that often). When we were in the bar or restaurant the waiters were constantly circulating and asking if they could get you something. And when we would return from a shore excursion the staff was always right there waiting with cold beverages and snacks. One thing that surprised me, but I guess shouldn’t have, is that the crew was almost entirely Ecuadoran. In fact, 61 out of 62, including the Captain, were Ecuadoran. What a competent, energetic, and pleasant group of people. Hey, but accommodations, food, and ship board service are not really why you come to the Galapagos. It is for the wildlife! And Celebrity shines in getting you to the action. Each day of the cruise you have at least two activities, morning and afternoon. There were three basic types of activities: a walk ashore, a snorkel, or a lengthy zodiac ride (without landing or snorkeling). With regard to the walks, there was always the option of a longer or shorter walk. The snorkel trips were sometimes shore snorkels (right off the beach) or deepwater snorkels. My advice: always do the deepwater snorkels when offered because the water clarity and sea life variety is better than the shore snorkels. And Celebrity plans the deepwater snorkels very well. There was virtually no current on any of our snorkels, and what current there was was always pushing the way we wanted to go. On one snorkel we went three quarters of the way around a small island, for a total distance of 1.5 miles, and it was so easy that we virtually never used our arms, only our flippers, with the wetsuits providing plenty of buoyancy. As for signing up for what you wanted to do on a given day, you got a briefing the night before and right after that briefing chose what you wanted to do. There was no rush or pressure to be “first in line” to sign up for anything, as the Xpedition can accommodate everyone on every desired option. Group size ashore was usually 14 to 16 persons with one naturalist, which was about as many folks as one zodiac could comfortably carry. The naturalists were great -- well informed with a pretty good command of English. As for the wildlife, we saw pretty much all the biggies: Tortoises, boobies (Blue Foot and Nazca), land iguanas, marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, flamingos, crabs, rays, and sharks. We even saw three albatrosses very close up, although we were well past the season when the albatrosses have normally departed the islands. And we saw many other species of birds, including, of course, multiple species of Darwin finches. Many of these animals have incredible coloration. And since there are no large land-based predators in the Galapagos almost all of these animals are completely unafraid of humans and you could get very close to them. A true photographer’s dream. Some offbeat highlights: (1) One day we were momentarily stuck on some rough rocks in a zodiac because of an extremely low tide, and the crews of two other zodiacs worked quickly to free us. A bit much excitement that. (2) One morning a lava gull landed next to me on the ship, and I remarked what a beautiful bird it was to a naturalist sitting nearby. She then told me the lava gull was the rarest gull in the world, and there it was five feet away eyeing my croissant!! I asked if I could feed it (just joking). (3) There were an incredible number of baby sea lions. OMG, so cute. And so curious. The naturalists warned us that for the protection of the babies we should not touch them. But sometimes it was difficult, as they would come right up to you in their curiosity. (4) Probably the highlight of the trip for me was watching sea lions while snorkeling. They would swim like torpedos all around you, and then groups of them would play with each other, and then one might come up and eyeball you before swimming away. Wow. Debarkation was also a breeze. Settle up you bill, if you have one. Put your suitcases outside your room by 5:30 AM, and they are then delivered directly to the airport. Exit your room by 8:30 AM, wait in the lounge, and they call your cabin number for boarding a zodiac back to the short bus ride from dock to airport. Let me close with two more tips. When going ashore for a walk, the footing varied wildly from place to place. Sometimes the landing would be wet (meaning you had to wade a few feet up onto a beach) or dry (directly on to a dock, or jetty, or on some rocks). Then your hike could be on sand, or compact dirt, or broken rocks, or slippery rocks (algae and/or guano), or broken lava, or even some small boulder scrambling. My wife and I brought Tevas (for the wet landings) and lightweight hiking shoes, but on some hikes it would have been nice to have had actual hiking boots for more ankle support. Several times some of the older folks fell -- even on the short, so-called “easier” walks. Another clothing tip is to bring a very broad brimmed hat of some sort, and perhaps some neck covering like a scarf or other neck protector. The sun is brutal on the equator, and unexposed skin burns fast even in cloudy weather. One thing you don’t really need is your own snorkeling equipment. Celebrity provides all that, including wetsuits. As a final note, they told us that the composition of the Celebrity Galapagos fleet will change soon. Currently there are three Celebrity ships, the Xpedition (100 passengers), the Xperience (48 passengers), and the Xploration (16 passengers). The Celebrity Flora, a new, hyper-modern 100 passenger ship, joins the Galapagos fleet later in May. And sometime after that the Xpedition will be refurbished, with its capacity reduced to 64 passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
All I can say is our “expedition” with Nat Geographic far exceeded our expectations. We went with Linblad and National Geographic in the Nat Geo Endeavor 11 because we knew they had been there the longest as far as a “cruise line” ... Read More
All I can say is our “expedition” with Nat Geographic far exceeded our expectations. We went with Linblad and National Geographic in the Nat Geo Endeavor 11 because we knew they had been there the longest as far as a “cruise line” But this was not a cruise.. it was indeed an Expedition! Full of hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and lectures, loaded with information on everything “Galapagos” for the 7 days we were fortunate to experience all of it. As I said, This was a week long amazing, beautiful course in the Galapagos. We are NOT cruise people, we love active vacations. And this is exactly what we received. The entire staff was gracious, well educated on where we were, extremely wanting to please. I was most impressed by the hotel management and attention to detail, even in the dining room. We were not only served organic, sustainable typically Ecuadorian fare, but we were also served up an education on local cuisine including meats, fruits, vegetables, spices, desserts .. which also added to a very well rounded “immersion” in everything Ecuador! Naturalists gave us their rich wealth of information. Tips on Photography, both on land and under the sea. Lectures everyday were well attended.. by the entire guest population on the ship. Rooms were well appointed and cared for. Housekeeping was also impressive as rooms were tidied up 3 times a day, laundry was usually back same day.. The ship paid very strict attention to cleanliness, as there were hand sanitizer stations all over. Ship doctor was always available, even graciously, for 1 bandaid. I will most definitely look forward to my next Linblad Nat Geo trip. Hopefully Antarctica! (Only if Emma and Walter are our Naturalists!!! Book this trip if you’re interested in seeing and experiencing everything the beautiful Galapagos has to offer through the eyes of knowledgeable professional hosts. It’ll be worth every Penney. It really was the trip of a lifetime. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
When it comes to wildlife, outdoor exploration and comfort, Linblad-National Geographic is top of the line. We chose the Galapagos because we wanted to be outside exploring and photographing. The Endeavor II provided a highly functional ... Read More
When it comes to wildlife, outdoor exploration and comfort, Linblad-National Geographic is top of the line. We chose the Galapagos because we wanted to be outside exploring and photographing. The Endeavor II provided a highly functional and comfortable boat for the experience. Our cabin was large enough for two people to comfortably enjoy the week long trip without feeling crowded. The windows allowed for excellent viewing even when we were in the room. The boat staff also exceeded expectations. Carlos, the food maestro, provided healthy but incredibly flavorful options. We had the best of the best local food. He remembered our names and our food preferences--remarkable for a 98 person passenger list. Likewise, the naturalists on this boat were also exceptional. The photography expert, Antonio was quite good. Rather than focusing on camera mechanics, he focused on composition and what really makes a photograph special. He skipped all the technical mumbo jumbo and talked to us about how to tell a story in pictures. He used examples from the Galapagos so we had real concrete ideas of what to photograph on each day's adventure. My husband snorkeled every day. I hiked and kayaked. We both were thoroughly exhausted at the end of each day so we savored every sunset in this beautiful island setting. For people looking for an active, busy vacation, this is a good fit. The Galapagos dazzles with its underwater sea life, colorful birds, sea lions everywhere, land tortoises and iguanas with personality. Highly recommend booking a trip on the Endeavor II. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The other reviews tell almost all you need to know. I just wanted to add a couple of comments. 1. There are not locks on cabins doors when you are not in the room, it’s company policy and was very strange to me. 2. The showers are ... Read More
The other reviews tell almost all you need to know. I just wanted to add a couple of comments. 1. There are not locks on cabins doors when you are not in the room, it’s company policy and was very strange to me. 2. The showers are huge compared to other ships that are much larger. 3. There were only 20 guests on our cruise and we had a lot of space, I would guess when you get 40+ people the ship will seem small. 4. The naturalists were well spoken and answered all questions at any time. 5. Food was fine, not sure how you could do better in the Galapagos. 6. December is not the correct time to come for snorkeling, water is pretty rough and cloudy. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
This was the most amazing trip - the adventure of a lifetime that I was dreaming of since childhood! The guides were so generous, taking us on explorations that catered to everyone's fitness level, and immersing us in fascinating ... Read More
This was the most amazing trip - the adventure of a lifetime that I was dreaming of since childhood! The guides were so generous, taking us on explorations that catered to everyone's fitness level, and immersing us in fascinating lectures of history and science of the Galapagos Islands which made us a part of the evolution of the Universe as well as a part of Darwin's journey through the islands in search for answers to our roots. In addition the crew also organized several fun evenings with shows that surprised us in the most amazing ways!... They were so dedicated to our well being, fed us extremely well and healthy YUMMY food and treated us like family. I cannot imagine a more amazing adventure - where snorkeling meets hiking and sailing meets panga water slams - all with unimaginable nature encounters - and a schedule that accommodated it all so seamlessly, leaving us room to rest in between the intense explorations. To come so close to nature while feeling you are on board with Darwin, was truly the feat that no other tour or ship can offer! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Quasar Expedition’s Evolution is a 16 cabin luxury yacht. We had the opportunity to spend 7 nights on this boat cruising the eastern Galápagos Islands. Every day brought new and different experiences, while hiking and snorkeling, ... Read More
Quasar Expedition’s Evolution is a 16 cabin luxury yacht. We had the opportunity to spend 7 nights on this boat cruising the eastern Galápagos Islands. Every day brought new and different experiences, while hiking and snorkeling, which were explained by superb naturalists expert on the history, conditions and intricacies of the different islands in the Galápagos Archipiélago. The yacht was just the right size for this sort of cruise with plenty of common space for lounging but cozy enough to enable one to get to know every passenger and crew member on a first name basis. I would not hesitate to strongly recommend this yacht and cruise line to anyone interested in seeing this remote and fascinating part of our world. From the moment we made the decision to book to now several weeks post cruise, there is not a single thing I can recommend be improved. They have their act together in every aspect of their cruise adventure!!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
I choose this cruise mainly for being able to put 3 people in one cabin. Myself, my son, and my 19 year old grandson. And we did fit...mostly. The staff was great. Our guides were Samuel and Alex. Both were extremely knowledgeable ... Read More
I choose this cruise mainly for being able to put 3 people in one cabin. Myself, my son, and my 19 year old grandson. And we did fit...mostly. The staff was great. Our guides were Samuel and Alex. Both were extremely knowledgeable and had a love of their topics, Steve was our tour director and wore many, many hats. He was a very funny and friendly young man, YES I would I go again and I highly requirement the cruise, "Trip of a lifetime". WE had both wet and dry landings. The crew were very helpful getting us older folks off and on the pangas which rocked some in the open ocean. No one got seasick, which was good. The doctor on board was one of our snorkeling mates. We saw hammerhead sharks and white tip sharks along with tons of sea lions, birds, and iguanas. Luckily no one had to see him on a professional basis. GO if you get the change, Do not wait. The food was outstanding. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around ... Read More
We booked a cruise to the Galapagos on the National Geographic Endeavor through Lindblad Travel for myself, my wife and three adult children/partners. We paid a small fortune for the trip, and yes, we had a wonderful trip to and around the Galapagos. That said, however, I would never book another cruise through Lindblad/National Geographic. The cruise is listed as 10 days, but it is actually a short 7 days. The count one day to get to Guayaquil, one day in Guayaquil, and one day back at Guayaquil as part of the "10 days". The last day was the worst, in that we were forced to get up at 6 AM (through a mandatory announcement), have our baggage out the door by 6:15, and at breakfast at the same time. This was so they could clean the cabins for the next cruise. We then sat around in the lounge (we were not allowed to return to our rooms) for two hours watching advertising videos in the lounge before being ferried/bussed to the airport, where we again waited for two hours for our short flight back to Guayaquil. For the last day of the "cruise" in Guayaquil, we were offered a tour of a sad local zoo and historic park. The personnel on the trip were highly variable. The cruise "leader" was an absolute disaster. We got so we hated his smarmy voice coming out of the PA system every morning. At the end of each day he told us what a great time we had and then pushed for contributions to their various charities in the islands. We were told that $500 per person was the "average" contributed by passengers and we wanted to be sure to meet that average. The naturalists were also variable. They were obviously bored by the trip, having made it so many times in the past. When we asked about a bird or animal, we were given pat answers without them even looking at the critter. One of them had training in biology (iguanas were his speciality) and the other were simply "certified guides" who had "guide" training. They were not particularly knowledgeable about the local flora, fauna or geology, and not very interested in engaging in conversation about it. Food on the ship was at best average, with most of the main dishes overcooked and most of the sides the same thing meal after meal. We were told on multiple occasions that we were expected to tip $180 per passenger for the crew collectively. On a cruise this pricey, why don't they pay their personnel a decent living wage? On the plus side, most of the dining room personnel were terrific. The ship cruised to several islands that are not accessible by way of the land tours or the smaller ships. The availability of good snorkeling gear, wet suits, paddle boards, and kayaks was very welcome and allowed us to do some terrific snorkeling interspersed with interesting walks and hikes. We swam with sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and beautiful fish, walked among land tortoises, nesting frigate birds, dancing boobies, and more iguanas than you could count. The Galapagos Islands are a fantastic world resource and we feel lucky to have visited, but we would not recommend the over-priced National Geographic/Lindblad expedition. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 ... Read More
If you are like me, you imagine a cruise is about the closest thing to hell one could imagine for a vacation. But I must say that this trip was anything but hell. It was an amazing experience. First, the Islander only carries 48 passengers, so everything was intimate and manageable. It was more like staying in a boutique hotel that just happens to move locations overnight. Second, the "house" staff on the ship were amazing. They care deeply about the passengers and enabling them to take advantage of their time on the islands. I could ask anyone a question about anything and they would go out of their way to help me so that I never had a worry and could concentrate on why we were there. The hotel manager, Daniel, ran an incredible operation and he, and everyone else, seemed to take great pride in their jobs. Third, the cabin was like a boutique European hotel room. There were three of us in Cabin 305 (one of two that can be configured as triples) and despite bringing way too much, we found a space for everything so our room was comfortable and very livable. Fourth, the meals were excellent and they took great care of their passengers with dietary restrictions. I am a vegetarian and Jose, the head waiter, sought me out every single day to ensure that I had something delicious to eat and was never hungry. After the second day, I had to avoid eating too much because there was so much good food to choose from. Fifth, and the reason you go to the Galapagos, is that it is an amazing opportunity to learn about a truly unique ecosystem. The Naturalists who are onboard are incredibly well educated, well informed, excellent ambassadors for the islands and their wildlife, and passionate about the environment and preserving the unique resources that are represented there. Every morning, we would wake to Daniel's voice on the PA announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, breakfast is ready in the dining room. Please join us." We'd eat and set out on our morning snorkel/kayak/zodiac ride/hike, returning a few hours later for lunch. After lunch, there would be a "siesta" time during which there was a children's program in which they would learn more and do something interesting. Then we'd head out for an afternoon adventure on that day's island. We'd return, have a "cocktail hour" lecture and briefing (which were excellent). Then we'd have our dinner (which were often theme dinners that let the staff show off "local" cuisine from various regions in Equador. And then people would retire while the boat traveled to the next island. We talked to a lot of people who arranged their own Galapagos explorations, but those require staying in one of the two inhabited towns and taking long daily excursions, often a few hours out and then a few hours back, limiting what you can see and explore. We also talked to people who went with other cruise lines--some much more luxurious. But nothing compared to what we experienced in traveling with a group that appreciates and promotes education. We were also deeply impressed with Lindblad's commitment to the people and the ecosystem. Prior to traveling, they provided informed us that they were supporting a school on Santa Cruz Island and provided us with their Amazon wish list. My son picked out a set of his favorite books (including Spanish translations) and we brought them with us. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the school and allowing him to present the books to a few of his middle-school peers. This trip moved me from being a cruise skeptic to recognizing that there is a place for journeys like this. If you want to visit an ecosystem like Galapagos, or Antartica, or the Arctic, and come away with a deeper understanding of the place you are visiting, then it is worth exploring a Lindlad/National Geographic cruise. I know we'll be on another one sooner rather than later. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The Galapagos has been top of our wish list for some time and it is the only trip which would persuade me to take to the water! However, I must say that the cruise experience was very enjoyable - albeit the ship was small and by no means a ... Read More
The Galapagos has been top of our wish list for some time and it is the only trip which would persuade me to take to the water! However, I must say that the cruise experience was very enjoyable - albeit the ship was small and by no means a luxury liner. My only criticism is that information about the cruise was lacking beforehand. Celebrity Cruises are clearly all about luxury cruises and much of the information we received by email didn’t apply to our trip and only served to confuse us non-cruising people! Our agent was as helpful as she could be, but didn’t seem to have access to specifics - not her fault I think. We were definitely told that the flight from Quito to Galapagos was non stop and chartered - it wasn’t. The flight home from Quito to Amsterdam wasn’t either. The instruction booklet which arrived shortly before we set out did not really allow enough time for us to equip as we would have liked - we live a long way from joined-up shops! Enough of that - this was the trip of a lifetime. The city guide in Quito (Diana P) was extremely well prepared and was good company. The volcanic landscape is dramatic and Quito was fun, with a great vibe as we walked through the streets. The hotel (Marriott) was pleasant and comfortable. The number on our expedition was just about right - 40 people and one naturalist per ten guests. The company was good. We were the only Brits among our Canadian and US friends but we really enjoyed the diversity of conversation and experiences. The planning of the wildlife cruise was second to none. Every day we saw different species in peaceful locations. It was like stepping into another world. Each night, the briefing would say ‘if we are lucky, we will see a, b, and c’. We were very lucky! The only omission was a volcanic eruption and I do understand those things are hard to plan. If, like us, you only have one go at the Galapagos, this is definitely the cruise to choose. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Galapagos certainly has its magic, and it goes without saying that our expectations for this trip were very high. Our week on the Grace was outstanding and has surpassed the initial expectation, leaving us with a life-changing experience ... Read More
Galapagos certainly has its magic, and it goes without saying that our expectations for this trip were very high. Our week on the Grace was outstanding and has surpassed the initial expectation, leaving us with a life-changing experience and fabulous memories. What made the difference is that the crew and our naturalist guides (Rafa and Sam), made everything possible to make us feel alone on the islands, adapting the schedule in the best way possible. Going to such a remote place, we did not want to be surrounded by 50 people on every activity. They made us feel like the only ones around and they can count on the flexibility of the crew, that has been hosting us like family, attending all our needs even before we thought of them. They knew all our names after 1,5 day. Outstanding. The Grace is a comfortable and timeless. It is by far the most elegant boat floating on Galapagos islands. Cabins are very comfortable, spacious and nicely decorated. Easy to relax here, rooms are always impeccable, and whenever we returned to our cabin, our bed is nicely made. We loved to sit on the outside terrace for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as at the bar. This seemed to be quite unique compared to the other few ships we saw. We liked the fact there was no wifi or tv in the rooms (there is one common tv in the living), as it let us disconnect fully with the outside world while connecting with ourselves, the wildlife and other passengers. After this experience, we really stand for small cruise ship experiences, they are way more personal and unique. Food was also delicious, with great variety and local cuisine. The fact they have one chef and one pastry cook really makes the difference from breakfast to dinner. Camila and Colja – travelled in August 2018, as a couple. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long ... Read More
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long walk excursions, this is not a trip for you. This trip is all about the Galapagos Archipelago and its wonder. To get there. Information for booking flights was very good and we even had our travel agent double check for us. NO problems what so ever being greeted at the airport and being brought to the hotel. The hotel and staff in Quito were great. The tour company, the transfers, everything. It all felt welcoming, and everyone seemed truly concerned with delivering the product. Very organized at all times. Travel from Quito to the ship was never stressful, which left a lot of time to build on the excitement I already had. Again, super organized and I can't remember having to even touch my luggage from the time I handed it off in the hotel in Quito until it was in my cabin on board. Now, I hate reading spoilers in reviews of trips I'm looking at, so I will be leaving some highlights out. I don't ruin another persons anticipation. I'll start with embarkation, the beginning of a long term dream come true, and yes there were tears of joy. It's not like any embarkation you are used to, except for the Celebrity standard of sparking wine. More joyful tears as we are escorted further into the ship. The CREW! Every last person was amazing, kind, and seemed to love their job. (How could you not?) There had to be a ratio of 2 crew for every passenger, but I don't actually know the stats. If any crew person had a bad day, we didnt' know it. With only 100 people it does not take naturalists, food and bev, or any crew that directly interact with passengers long to get to know everyone on the trip. Dining crew remembered by breakfast to steer me away from anything on the menu that was not gluten free. Which brings me to the food. I have seen some reviews of this trip and the food. I'll say from my opinion it was great. Keep in mind here, they have to use everything sourced from the region. That will limit what they can work with. So, you have to come to a point of acceptance that you can not have everything you think you should. When you get over that, they do a fantastic job with the food. No, I did not like everything, but I never went hungry. I was happy with my meals way more often than I was not. Some other reviews give better tips on ordering specifics that I found useful. Since those applied at the time I was on the ship, I will let you find those suggestions rather than repeat them here. Also regarding food. This is not 24 hr food ship. Don't get mad. I'm sure if you absolutely needed something one of the stellar crew will accommodate you, as long as you are not rude about it. This is a crew that wants to give everyone top level of service. I had to get out of my own comfort zone when it comes to cruising. There are not many places to hide away from the group, which I usually do. We ended up making friends that we have since stayed in touch with still long after and even visited with away from home. The way the dining room is set up, and the small excursion groups, you have to fight hard to be anti-social. I'm glad I gave up the fight. I quickly realized I was sharing this magical journey with only 99 other people in the same moment in time, and it was meant to be celebrated together. With that, moving onto the excursions. It works exactly the way Celebrity says it works. Again, I wont give any spoilers. Just keep your mind open. Remember where you are on the planet in the moment, and you will not be disappointed. Listen to the naturalists for directions and a ton of Galapagos knowledge. Make sure you always follow the safety rules, and watch your step. This is not a place with building codes. Watch your every step. Safety is always the priority. This truly was by far an experience that I have zero regret and feel I got every two years of saving pennies worth. We have already talked about saving up to go back in five years on a different loop. Rather than write my diary or repeat things covered in other very good reviews and helpful advice already on here (like sunscreen tips that were crucial) I will wrap it up. My last piece of advice. Try to write down some of the little things every day. It makes for great souvenir to look back on that beats any trinket you buy on Santa Cruz Island. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose ... Read More
We were looking for an exploration trip toGalapagos which was on my bucket list. National Geographic has an excellent reputation. A friend had gone on the Endeavor several years ago and described it as the trip of a lifetime. We choose the Islander for its size, thinking we would receive indiviualized attention. We choose the date knowing there would be less children. We elected to take the extention to Mashpi which greatly exceeded my expectations. There were 6 in our group and we had 2 guides who made sure we were safe and saw everything! We hiked, rode the Dragonfly, climbed the observation tower, rode the Skybike, hiked to the Life Center, and did a night hike. Very active. Ana, the manager, did a great job with her young staff. They were there to assure that everyone had an unforgettable time. Metro Touring also exceeded expectations. They answered questions, gave instructions, were punctual. They had a knowledge of their country and a pride that they wanted to share. We were met in Baltra by a naturalist whose reason for being a naturalist was to travel to Galapagos. He even acknowledged that this tour group met his requirement for the year. He was more interested in getting everyone on the bus then assuring everyone was present. This set the tone for the trip. The first stop was North Seymour and we quickly learned there was no time to lag as the naturalist would continue on. No problem, I am a fast learner and knew what to expect. The Naturalists were very knowledgeable about the islands, vegetation, wildlife. They appeared to have a passion for the islands and wanted to share their passion. However, I was disappointed in some attitudes. For example, several years ago I broke an anke causing me to have some balance issues, and being slower. But that doesn't mean I can't do something, it justs takes longer. Unfortunately, that wasn't tolerated. My friend doesn't swim and wasn't comfortable snorkeling in deep water. I would not snorkel without a buddy, something that goes with my diving training. We had a brief intro to shallow water snorkeling. Time was not spent with individuals who were uncomfortable. In fact, I was assisting another indiviual who had never snorkeled, trying to get her comfortable. I kayaked twice in my life and enjoyed it. Once in the Tasman Sea and once in Prince William Sound. Both time we received instructions on kayaking and what to do if the kayak tips over. Here we transferred from the Zodiac to the kayak, no refresher, no safety instructions. As we struggled to get to the shore, the naturalist kayaked by, went to the head of the group, and ignored the rest of us. There were times that if you didn't snorkel in the deep water or take a challenging hike, you were left on the boat. Why couldn't there be less challenging trips or a slower paced trip, why couldn't there be more zodiac trips around the islands? The 'hotel staff' were great. The waiters, bartenders, and Alexa did a nice job. The wait staff went out of their way to make meals enjoyable, remembering I was a tea drinker, my friend green tea. I feel the Natualists are contracted for the trips and not truly a team. I have worked with teams, customer service and recognize teams that work together. I feel thenaturalists were assigned or contracted for this trip. As I stated, in Mashpi, there were 2 naturalists for our small group who assured each of us enjoyed the experience. In Galapagos the Naturalists did not assure everyone was ok, they shared their wealth of knowledge but did not go the extra step. Activity level listed as light or moderate. I had a massage that exceeded my expectations! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of ... Read More
We thought we would be on the trip of a lifetime with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The ship and staff onboard were wonderful. The naturalists were a disappointment. They were very knowledgeable and full of information but their concern for the passengers left a bit to be desired. On our Kayak expedition no effort was made to make sure everyone was familiar with how to kayak - just told to get in the kayak and head towards shore. When my friend and I couldn't get the hang of it right away and were going in circles, our naturalist went ahead with the other kayaks and left us on our own - we had to wave to the zodiac and have him pick us up. There were long walks for those who thought they were in excellent condition and could do a quick hike up in challenging terrain. There should have been opportunities for those who didn't think they could make the "challenging" hike to do a shorter hike instead of just sitting on the ship. Some times there were zodiac rides which were great but there could have been an option. There were several opportunities for experienced snorkelers to snorkel. But if you were inexperienced there was really only one time for snorkeling from the beach. And if you had never snorkeled before there was no one to work with you on the basics. We had cabin 403 on the Upper Deck. We were under the impression that it was the same size as the other cabins since we paid the same price - but once we got onboard and saw one of the other cabins we felt we were in a much smaller cabin. We knew the terrace was going to be smaller but the other cabins were significantly larger terraces than ours. Some information about ways to communicate from the ship would have been useful. Passengers who had What's App loaded on their phones were able to text back home. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time. Also, I only knew about the camera shelf to get your camera adjusted to the outside air after I heard a naturalist talking to another passenger about it - I don't remember an announcement being made about it - should have been done the first day onboard. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were ... Read More
...chose NG/Lindblad due to excursion options each day No question that there were different options for all three of us for virtually all outings. The various choices were well distributed throughout the week. Guides were knowledgeable and generally enthusiastic about the islands. However, I did expect more venturing off the coast, especially on Isabella, where there were other things to see and experience. Most guide books summarize quite a few different points of interest; most of these were not offered. I realize that this is a live aboard experience and the coast is the focus, but a blend would have been an advantage. As noted, guides were very educated and informed on the science and natural aspects. Some of the people skills were lacking. Back and forth from kayak to zodiac, asking a spouse if she knew here right leg from her left was not part of the personal ambiance, nor was using the term "gringo" when most of your passenger manifest is American. Way too much food. Could have very easily gone with breakfast and dinner, skipped the mid-day meal in favor of more time out and about. Ordering a very athletic young man--a fish in the water--to "snorkel buddy" with a senior who was not at all comfortable in deep water was not at all appropriate. Did not pay a large sum for the vacation to be a lifeguard, and some naturalists forced the buddy system while others did not. Good trip, saw things and enjoyed experiences that were one-time only--a true gem. These areas noted are worth some improvement. Read Less

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