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We did the Galapagos Islands in November 2004. It is without exception, a once in a lifetime experience.
There are many ships and tours ranging in price, quality and amenities. Lindblad, Abercrombie as well as privately chartered boats.
We did an 11-day trip on Celebrity Xpedition. The ship holds about
90 passengers. It is as close to SD as you will get in that part of the world. Celebrity has done a very good job with the ship and the hiring of its Naturalists.
Celebrity's tour starts in Quito, Ecuador with a 2-day stay at the Marriott. It includes transfer to/from the airport, a City tour with lunch on the front end, and an overnight stay at the Marriott on the back end with time to shop at the nearby flea market (alpaca shawls and local crafts). The tour concludes with a farewell dinner at the former Opera House.
Travel to Baltra, Galapagos is via TAME airlines. Naturalists greet passengers at the airport, and transport to the ship is via panga boat.
Naturalists lead small groups on shore excursions 2x each day. There are low, medium and high intensity excursions each day.
The wildlife is abundant and unafraid of humans, so you are able to get close to every species. When you snorkel, the sea lions try to play with you underwater.
If you are interested in seeing photos from our trip, post an email address.
For more information, long on to the Celebrity message board, and look for the link to 'Xpedition - Anyone Recently Back' -- this link holds about 3,000 posts filled with information specific to the Galapagos.