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  #1  
Old August 17th, 2012, 01:22 AM
sadiemay sadiemay is offline
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Default Trying to make final decision whether to go on Galapagos trip.

We have a big decision to make. We booked a Galapagos cruise with Celebrity Xpedition for May 2012 a few months ago. I am having some second thoughts lately and would love to read anyone elses thoughts on this. We are in our early 60's. My DH has some slight mobility issues d/t neuropathy in his feet, but he walks ok with good shoes. He is not really concerned about getting in and out of the zodiacs and says he will take the less strenuous tours if advised by the staff. However, he does need to walk slower than he used to and has said that snorkeling is out for him now. I have read that a wet suit is needed on this trip to snorkle. I love snorkeling but have never used a wet suit and doubt I could even get one on. I wish I knew how strenuous the excursions are. Haven't been able to get a very good feel for that from what I have read here so far. He is happy to do whatever I decide, and knows we would just take another type of cruise is we don't go on this one. So, these things are all going through my mind and I am trying to balance this with the high cost of this trip and not sure if we should continue. Maybe we should use these funds for another type of trip. We have to buy airfare soon so we need to decide. On the other side, this is a trip I have really wanted to take for a long time, a bucket-list item. It will be a very hard move for me to cancel. Does anyone have any thoughts or a comment on my ramblings? Somethimes an outside opinion is just what I need to help me decide. Thanks to anyone for any input.
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  #2  
Old August 21st, 2012, 02:59 PM
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xLibLabLady xLibLabLady is offline
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Default Go on the Galapagos cruise!

Here is my input: Please do go on the Galapagos cruise. You will love it, I promise.

Yes, it is an expensive trip, but we regarded it as well worth it.

Those documentaries or travel programs that show people wandering among the critters - it is true. The iguanas, the sea lions, the birds, the tortoises - they don't care. To them, people are just part of the scene.

I presume you mean the cruise is in May of 2013. You did not say which itinerary you are doing.

DH and I took an 8 day cruise on a much smaller boat (20-passenger) and had a super time. We went to some islands the Celebrity cannot go to, it is true.

Excursions:

The crew are happy to give help getting in and out of the zodiacs. Some of our landings were "wet" landings where we stepped into the water. Some of the landings actually had a little pier so feet stayed dry.

The excursions range, as you know, from mild to strenuous. Several the excursions were fairly easy walks with not a lot of altitude gain. Some of the surfaces, as they say, were kind of uneven. You must stay on the trail at all times. Asking the advice of the crew would be good. I would suggest letting them see how your husband walks so they can give an accurate opinion. Perhaps use a walking stick?

You cannot take any food onto the islands where no people live. You cannot smoke on the islands where no people live.

Probably the most strenuous excursions we did were the hikes on Isabella Island, and on Bartolome Island (Santiago). Isabella has a great trail with no trip hazards, and so if your husband can walk okay with good shoes, he should be fine. The altitude gain is not too bad, though it is true we did not go to the top.

Bartolome Island (Santiago) has a lot of stairs, but again it is a good trail, with places to gawk and rest. The parts of the trail that are not stairs have what I regard as fairly easy gradients because of the switchbacks. The views are stunning. In my opinion, this is an absolute "must do." DH and I also did the beach walk from one side of the isthmus to the other.

We snorkeled several times without a wetsuit, so don't worry about getting into one. Some people wore wetsuits - some of them went out deeper than we did, on more strenuous tours. Snorkeling is magical in the islands, and so you will love it. The coral reefs, the fish, the seals,sea lions, etc are special.

Bottom line: make those airline reservations! Go on the Galapagos cruise!

You can email me if you like smcclung at frontier dot com
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  #3  
Old August 21st, 2012, 08:31 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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Sadiemay - I will enthusiastically echo the previous poster - GO ON THIS TRIP!!!!

We took the wonderful Galapagos cruise on Xpedition two years ago (also in May) and loved it. We followed it up with a fantastic tour to Machu Picchu; but that is another subject.

There is a lot of flexibility with respect to walking speed on the land visits. As long as your husband can get into and out of the pangas (zodiacs) and can walk on reasonably level ground, he won't have any problems.

In May (at least in our case), the water was quite warm enough to snorkle without a wetsuit. The ones on the ship are "shorties" and quite easy to don. I preferred to snorkle without even the shortie, though, and had a truly delightful time doing so. The memory of snorkeling with several young fur seals one morning is a magical recollection, indeed, one of the most special experiences in many, many years of travel.

If you wish to dive (pun intended) into the Xpedition experience, there are two "monster threads" on which everything is discussed at great length. The more recent one is:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1504555

In the first post of that one, there is a link to the original monster thread, in which I participated.

If a visit to the Galapagos is on your "must visit" list, then I fervently urge you to take the plunge (another dopey pun intended) and do it.

Xpedition is a beautiful little ship and has the best naturalists in the islands (it appears to be a matter of who will pay the most for the best). The accomodations are pretty much the best in the islands (except for that amazing gigantic private yacht that books for $100,000 per week...). The other passengers tend to be easy-going, well-traveled people who also consider this Galapagos adventure as a highlight of their traveling history.

Cheers, Fred
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  #4  
Old August 21st, 2012, 09:02 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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Sadiemay - As the time to edit my original post has expired, I would like to add a small caution with regard to the two monster threads that I referenced in my post above.

It is prudent to read the two threads with a clear eye. Although there is a great deal of genuinelly useful information on the two threads, there is also an enormous amount of frivolous chit-chat. You will also note that there are several posters who seem to have made these two threads their primary raison d'etre, as if there was no real purpose in their lives aside from posting repeatedly about the same subjects.

Fortunately, we had the good fortune to not encounter any of those boors on our cruise and found great pleasure in the company of our fellow passengers on Xpedition.

Cheers, Fred
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  #5  
Old August 21st, 2012, 09:29 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Default Caution!!

We traveled to the Galapagos Islands August 2011 on an 8 day sailing on a yacht like ship that had thirty people. We had 2 wonderful guides and a Doctor (not sure of the training level but she was called Dr. and she always went with us on shore). It was one of the most wonderful trips we have ever been on and among the most beautiful. It is also a very rough place to walk and explore in my opinion.

I was 64 years old at the time of the trip. I have "problem feet" including d/t neuropathy and plantar facitis. I regularly can walk up to mile and half without too much problem if I'm careful and attentive (I gawk and fall). I do not consider myself of limited mobility most of the time. I had some problems.

The islands that you visit have no "improvements" and they work very hard to keep the impact of tourists down. This means there is NO path or worn trail. Almost all the walks involved at the very least small rocks and pebbles, sand on the beaches that had hidden rocks/obstructions underneath the sand (one of my gawk and fall ruining new camera moments), moss or wet surfaces especially when entering small boats, often we had to pick our way up or down rather steep approaches or ledge like areas and 4 or 5 of us were really proud that we made the journey and we were with the "easier" group, if an animal or bird is in the flat and easy way you must go around without disturbing. I know that this was a small boat and you are on the larger boat but the terrain will be the same and the guides are employees of the Marine Park Service and not the ship -- they all have the same rules for preserving the area. There is no place that has handrails, benches/rest stops, or anything but a walking stick to hold you up. If you go, get really excellent walking stick that is proper height and carry with you. The ships do not "dock" for embarkation to island or even to get the luggage. You go on and off the rubber boats by stepping on the top and sort of skipping to the flat deck landing spot and then up 8 stairs on our boat. I saw the X and the National Geographic ship and they had identical pangas. Landings on the islands and for snorkeling swimming etc you have to wade into water and jump up on side of panga then pull your legs up and over side. I would kill anyone who took a picture and we all looked as bad except for the teens.

I hope this does not sound too negative. I am just telling it from the eye of a healthy 60 year old lady who had a little difficulty with this trip but who is so glad she went. I do believe that this will be the last eco-adventure type vacation (Amazon River cruise/African Safari/Galapagos were the toughest body wise) because the mind is willing but the body is definitely limiting. There are other wonderful sights in the world that might be a little easier to explore (we really enjoyed South America around the Horn where you can choose slightly easier excursions).

Only you and DH can make up your mind. I hope my long response gives you something to say "could I make it/would I have difficulty getting in and out of a bouncing boat/would it be safe for me to walk on lava covered with sand and loose stone). Good luck and let me know if I can answer any questions. It is a wonderful trip.
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2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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  #6  
Old August 22nd, 2012, 09:20 AM
sadiemay sadiemay is offline
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Thank you so much for all your input. Right after I posted my original message, I tried to delete it (but couldn't) because I thought it read too whiny. Now I am glad I didn't. You all have given us a lot to ponder! Thanks again.
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Old August 22nd, 2012, 10:41 AM
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xLibLabLady xLibLabLady is offline
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Default Galapagos - go for it

Quote:
Originally Posted by sadiemay View Post
Thank you so much for all your input. Right after I posted my original message, I tried to delete it (but couldn't) because I thought it read too whiny. Now I am glad I didn't. You all have given us a lot to ponder! Thanks again.
Hi sadiemay, It is a good thing you could not delete your post. It was not too whinny. You had/have specific concerns and expressed them well.

Our voyage was in July of 2008, on an EcoVentura boat, the "Flamingo II." We had 19 passengers with a crew of 10. We had 2 naturalist/guides. Everyone was wonderful. At that time, if there were not definite trails to stay on, the guides had definite routes. The idea was to reduce what I will call "wander trails."

One of the times when I was snorkeling, I came almost face to face with a sea lion. I laughed out loud, carefully. It was magical, something I will never forget. That was only one of many special moments.

Getting in and out of the pangas (the rafts) was never a problem for 64 year old me at the time, and I am not the most agile of people.

I encourage you to look at the details for your specific itinerary. You can find a fairly detailed description of each shore excursion.

Whatever the time of year, the Galapagos are great. Go for it!
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We have cruised several times on Holland America and Princess, and one time on EcoVentura in the Galapagos.

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  #8  
Old August 23rd, 2012, 09:36 PM
Floridiana Floridiana is online now
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Have you considered two skipole style walking sticks for your husband? You can get them at outdoor stores. I think mine cost $ 14 a piece. I haven't used them yet, but many alpine walkers do even if they have no foot issues.
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Old August 24th, 2012, 06:07 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Our ship also had strong wooden canes and the Dr (our ship had a Dr as part of the ship company) and guides recommended those that WOULD take the canes life savers. I also had my little folding cane and boy did I need that at night when the boat was "making time" -- high speed runs from one island to the one to explore the next day-- and the rocking and rolling floor was between me and the bathroom.

Does anyone know how you carry the trekking sticks on the airplane?
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2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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  #10  
Old August 24th, 2012, 07:34 PM
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patseacruiser patseacruiser is offline
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Go while you are still mobile enough to go. If this is on your bucket list this is the best time that you are mobile and take full advantage of it. You will not regret it. And once your bucket is empty you can start putting new things in there to do. Go!
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  #11  
Old September 12th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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CRUISERTN CRUISERTN is offline
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Default Galapagos

I would definitely do the Galapagos on the Xpedition. We have done it twice - once in 2006 and again last year....it is truly a trip of a lifetime and Celebrity will take very good care of you. They run a first class operation!! There are excursions to fit everyone's needs, so go and enjoy and you will not regret it!! It is like no other place you will ever visit.
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Old September 12th, 2012, 10:54 PM
Bowie MeMe Bowie MeMe is offline
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Default All cruises are under same rules.

All the rules for visiting the Galapagos Islands are exactly the same no matter who you book with. The Marine Park and Ecuadorian government are in control of which island you go to and where you are allowed to land and how many people can go on the island at a time. All of these non negotiable rules are to protect the delicate area and habitat that you are visiting. Rules were revisited shortly after we visited in 2011 trying to ease the stress on certain islands that "everybody" wants to go on because of the scenery or the animal life. There is now itinerary A and B. Each week they go on either A or B and can not stop by islands not on the itinerary. You will want to know which itinerary you are assigned. IMO they were not equal in the opportunities to observe animals/birds and in scenery or in ease of the itinerary (distances).

Because all the rules are the same, no one can make the walks and the sights easier to see. You will still have wet landings where you have to jump into the water and establish footing and walk on uneven sand or rocks to beach and then walk out of water. You will also have several dry landings that were challanging -- climbing from rubber boat and up on the side of the moving boat often with a jump to the rock/sand/or up to the ship itself (moving boat to moving platform). On land we several times had to walk over sand, rocks and moss and then the trail got rougher with rock slides (down and up ) and jumping over cracks or sliding down mud paths over tree roots. No benches, no bathrooms, and only those with you on the trip to help (which every single person did help each other to a wonderful extent and we did all make most of the trips except for a couple of injuries). Our group had 5 young persons 3 male and 2 female -- all athletic and most STRONG guys who helped some of us to make sure we didn't fall or fail to get back in boats. That would be luck of the draw but the crew and guides also very good to help.

Ok summary. Tough walk great what you see lifetime trip need to go on the islands for full experience -- can't see from ship. Good luck. Let us know what you do.
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Bowie, Md.

2014Oceanic Discoverer New Zealand South Island
2013 Disney Dream 2012Diamond Princess The Orient route Star Princess Cape Horn Route SA 2011M/V Evolution Galapagos Islands 2011 Uniworld River Duchess Tulips/windmills;2010 Crown Princess Canada/New England;2010 Coral Princess Panama Canal;2009 Oceania Nautica Greece and Turkey;2008 Cunard QM2 Southern Caribbean;2008 Celebrity Constellation Iberia & TA;2007 Majestic American Queen of West ColumbiaR;2006 Princess Star Princess Baltic;2004 Princess Tahitian Princess South Pacific;2003 Viking River Cruises Clara Schumann Elbe R;2002 Coral Princess (Aust) Coral Princess2 Reef;2001 Princess Royal Princess Norwegian Fijords;2000 Jungle Expeditions La Turmalina Amazon R;1999 Disney Magic Bahamas;1998 RCCL Enchanment of Seas Western Carib.;1996 Princess Star Princess (old) Alaska;1994 RCCL Monarch of the Seas Southern Carib;1990 RCCL Nordic Prince Bermuda;1987 RCCL Sun Viking Eastern Carib.
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