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thrpy

Galapagos & Xpedition and back...

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Well, finally getting around to writing, after having to work without Cappuccino, get caught up on sleep without the anchor dropping into the water, and sorting thru all the pictures. It’s here.

First as sort of a preemptory comment, for those that have canceled already, you have made a really BIG mistake. This cruise goes well beyond an adventure trip of a lifetime.

As for problems with illnesses, there was only one that I knew of and the condition was resolved in a couple of days. There were no grossly obvious measures out of the ordinary for hygiene other that when returning from Puerto Ayora to use the hand cleaner at the bottom of the stairs.

Yes, you hit the ground running and it’s a trip of unbelievable sights from the moment you get on the boat. Nearly everything you have read about this cruise is true, only better – when you are there. From the cold towels when you step on the boat to the briefings at night laying out tomorrow’s adventure.

We had excellent weather for the entire trip on the cruise itself. In Quito – it rained until we left Sunday morning. Really didn’t need that, but that’s another story in itself. OK, the numbers, passengers – 72, staff 65, find that on another cruise…ANYWHERE. This is the summer/rainy season in the islands, but we had absolutely NO rain. High 80’s during the day and into the 70”s at night – always comfortable. We were in room 311.

Water temperature for the divers pleasant. Only used my farmer john’s twice, DW used her’s plus the ship’s shorty once, the rest of the time it was swimsuit, mask & snorkel. If you are planning on scuba bring your C-card, you must have an advanced rating.. If you have one , you know what I am talking about. One man on the ship babbles about having been a diver in all sorts of different places, but didn’t know what a C-card was – after watching him, it was obvious he was a better T-shirt buyer than a diver.

The activities are well planned and are what they say they are, but high intensity does not mean you have to be 25 in superb condition. Yes a good sense of adventure is important. From the first stop at North Seymour where you tend to take way too many pictures because you think that this will be the only time you see a Booby, sea lion, marine iguana, land iguana, frigate bird, etc – don’t worry there’s more of everything everywhere.

If you are up to the high intensity, go with it and have a great time, but don’t feel like you have to do ALL of them, really you can see an awful lot just on the zodiac rides without a lot of physical demands. There was an older couple on the ship, you knew by looking at him that he was not particularly healthy, but with his cane he made most of the trips both morning and afternoon. The ship’s crew were outstanding in supporting his efforts. Getting in and out of the zodiac, up/down the steps, they were patient and never appeared resentful.

Another thing about this cruise that is different is that virtually all the people on this one were here for the same thing, not gambling or nightlife – really you are exhausted by the end of the day if you participate in what you are there for.

The Food was excellent – period. Considering that the greatest portion of the food MUST come from the Galapagos Islands preferably, or at least Ecuador. The vegan plates appeared to be tasty to the one vegan on the ship, sorry but I am a carnivore and I had no problems with anything that I had. The wine selections are from out of the country, and they are presented and matched well.

Taking pictures is the best way to “take nothing and leave only footprints” which is the best way to think of the entire trip. There is no computer availability on the ship at this time (inferred in the future though). This means high capacity digital cards and/or bring a laptop or storage device, or lots of film for those SLR shooters remaining. In a previous message someone took 36 rolls and his wife thought he was crazy. Maybe, but you can take the picture while you are here, or wish you had taken another one when you get home. Yes, I went a little overboard, but have had a great time going thru the nearly thousand pictures I took including all the missed shots and splash ones, but that is what I enjoy doing. Besause of that, I have a daily record of many things that we saw and enjoyed. I was able to cut it down to a little over 100 “really good shots”. Remember double prints does not mean double shots.

Clotheshounds, don’t worry about bringing fancy dress-up clothes – you’ll stand out more than you want to. Nice casual clothes are fine and much more practical.

Bunch here, ask questions and I’ll get back to ya when I can.

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Thanks so much for your review. I just LOVE reading about the great time returnees have. December seems a long way off, but we're so excited already. I do have one little question; What type of shoes...or no shoes...did people use during wet landings? Thanks again.

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1) How far in advance did you book & why did you pick your particular date? 2) What was the age range of the passengers on your cruise and were there any single passengers? 3) What were your air arrangements and air itinerary?

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SandyR5

TEVA's appeared to be the BEST type. It comes in many different shapes and configurations, but the one that I saw that I likesd the best was one that came up over the toes with a little protection. We had some inexpensive water shoes that we pick-up at Wal-mart, used them and left them, i.e. didn't worry about bringing them home.

cruiseyguy

We booked at the end of April after researching the warmer water and air temps which worked out very well for us, except for the anticipation. The excitement dwells down for a while til you get closer to the date, but gives you plenty of time to get exactly the little things that you want/need. Ages ranged from a family with 4 children from probably about 10 to the older man that I mentioned who I am guessing was mid-late 70's and frail - which is not to say not full of life. He had been a foreign corespondent - very enjoyable to talk with. We had dinner with the captain one night and found that the average age of the people on this cruise was 45-65.

Airarrangements were modified from the original package deal for our convience, not eally liking ot get up at 0h dark thirty to get a plane, but that's just us.

Would I do it again - in a heartbeat.

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Thanks so much for the posting! Hearing about it all makes us very excited to go. Did you have shots before you went? If so, which ones.

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No shots are necessary. Gotta get your passport in advance - don't wait til the last minute to get it. When you get off the bus in Baltra, go down the row of shops - all the T-shirts you could ever need and towards the far end as you walk past - they are all open-window type shops, you can get your passport stamped from the Galapagos Islands.

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1. For the Midwesterners on the ship whom you talked to, did Celebrity send them to Houston to catch the Continental flight to Quito, or did they make everyone go to Miami and travel together? I live in Kansas City and Houston would be so much more convenient for us.

2. Have they brought on any women's size small wetsuits? Men's sizes will be way too big for my petite 115 pound frame. I don't want to have to go buy one for just this one trip. What size did your wife wear? Any problems?

3. Did they enforce the baggage weight limit for the flight out to the ship?

 

Thanks for your input. I briefly thought about cancelling our Dec. 11 trip after reading about the GI illness going around, but I'm SOOO glad I didn't after reading your report and that Celebrity seemss to be addressing the sickness issue.

 

Susie

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Susie - We're on the 12/4 trip so we'll be getting off as you get on! As far as the weight limit on the plane to Baltra, we're going to stay under it. Even though I usually take lots and lots of stuff, I just remember reading about a famous singer whose plane went down because it weighed too much. They said too much luggage and sound equipment. We won't have sound equipment, but they want the luggage under a specific weight for safety reasons. Therefore, as hard as it will be, we'll do it and I just think everyone has to try their best to do it also.

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susiesan

I seem to remember someone going into Houston, talk with ur TA.

Wetsuits - as soon as you can try the one on that they give you, if it does not fit - fairly snug, which is what you want, take it back to them quickly and get them to exchange it for you. Again you can change them.

Weight on the bags_ they really try to keep you at that range. 30-35 pounds won't have any real problem, I saw some that I KNOW were more than that, but I know that I was pretty close. 30-35 in the checked luggage and 14 in the carry-on. They do not check the weight of the carry on. In your doc's is says 44 pounds limit to cover themselves. There is a lot of little/like to have stuff that you really don't need to take. But if you simply HAVE to have it, ya have to give up something else.

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Great information! Just 5 days to go before I am on my way.

 

Do the diver specifications require a PADI level Advanced Open Water Diver C-card? I know someone else going that considers his standard PADI OWD card to be advanced over just the Scuba diver rating. I carry the Advanced OWD card and just made a quick trip to the Caribbean to tune up my bouyantcy skills.

 

Should I take a one mil dive skin and use one of the ships' wetsuits over, or would I be OK in a 2/3 full suit? I plan to be in the water alot and do not want to sap my energy by being cold. I will also have my hood, gloves, and booties.

 

Are there any larger high-quality binoculars on the ship that would be useful for astronomy at night? I am thinking in terms of 10-20X by 60-100 mm objectives. Any star maps onboard?

 

Our air flights, from LAX California, are by American Airlines with a flight change in Miami. Home-bound we will be on Continental with a stopover in Houston. Notice how we avoid the Mexico City hub like the plague?

 

Please tell us more about the best places to shop and what crafts and items to look for.

 

John

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starsjohn

Advanced is all that I know, whether it is PADI or what organization. There has to be four folks ready to go with credentials..

We took 3 mil farmer johns, only needed them the first dive on Monday which really wasn't too bad, just anticipation. A one mil will be fine, don't need hood, etc. I went on one advanced snorkel off the zodiac and found a 5-6 degree thermocline at about 12-15 feet and another at about 25-30 feet but very tolerable.

No scopes available yet, but some really good viewing being out on the water and no surrounding lights.

Lots of places to shop. One at the Equator outing, lots of neat stuff there and on Baltra when you get there AND when you are getting ready to leave. Puerto Ayora search-don't buy at the first place you see. Depends on what you are looking for. Anything particular let me know- ifn I remember.

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starsjohn

Also, on the shopping, the last day - Sunday in Quito you go to a "craft's mall" with LOTS of local stuff, haggle the price - you'll save 2-5 bucks. A Good Panama Hat in presentation box $45, some good looking "seconds"' for $10-15, along with an assortment of hatbands. Silver - in Puerto Ayora "Unique Creations" - small shop - neat stuff, good prices. At the outing to the Darwin, one shopping place the money goes to the research center and the other to the Ecuadorian government - your choice.

Artwork is 'different' with bold colors, sharp contrasting almost a Dali-type, but very basic type pictures. Advantage to the last shopping outing, you can put it in the bag you leave at the hotel while you are gone on the cruise - which is a HIGHLY recomended idea. Plus you might take along some bubble wrap ifn you find something a little more fragile, the smaller shops wrap in a little paper, not really enough proection for 'ape' luggage handlers.

A couple or three clothes pins a good on the trip to help hold the curtains closed too.

Small piece of trivia - the JW MArriott is half owned by the ecuadorian army. Found that out on the plane trip to Quito. Guess who has a good source of the funding.

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Thrpy,

 

Well, my 3mm suit is in. I hope I can add my night binoculars as well. The carryons are getting heavy with the long telephoto lenses I use for nature photography. My digital cameras need batteries and chargers as well.

 

I am hoping to dive with the big Hammerhead sharks, do you remember which island had a big population of these critters?

 

I like to look for wood carvings and masks in these countries, so any leads would be appreciated.

 

Thankyou for all your good pointers and advice.

 

John

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starsjohn

Take just the farmer johns, and use the ships shorty ifn you need additional insulation.Like I said, I only needed it for the first dive and the Tues afternoon open water dive, but it wasn't that bad.I would not suggest

The night vision equipment. Too sensitive, for the weight and nothing really to be observed.

Forget the hammerheads as far as great ones. the big schools will probably be to the north at Wolf and Darwin Islands - waaay out of the way.

Charger- i have one from energizer that takes thirty minutes even to charge my 2500mAh's. I hve four sets that I rotated. No problems, as long as you remember to take the little case that you have the batteries and chips in...

Your shopping list would be sorta covered at the equator shoping center and the last day. If anybody else remembers anything on theses items ---

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starsjohn

Couple of things - I personally would NOT take Cipro as a prophylactic measure. TOOOO many side effects

Disposable underwater cameras will NOT successfully fo the the X-ray machines at the airport. Plastic bag to carry them is my suggestion- we forgot and lost most of the pics on my DW's cameras.

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starsjohn,

 

We, too, collect masks from the countries we visit. There is one "vendor" at the very first "scenic vista" stop you make on the day tour in Quito. You only stop there for about 15 minutes and most of the indigenous people are selling shawls and other woven products. We got a wonderful painted snake mask.

 

You will not see masks again at the Winged Virgin Monument nor at any of the stalls at the crafts market on the Sunday you come back to Quito. There may be other wooden carved things though...I didn't look that closely.

 

At the crafts market (4-5 pm back in Quito the last day), there are lots of products that you'd also see in the Otavalo market, brought in by the indigenous people. Lots of bargaining going on, so be prepared to barter a bit. The Celebrity guides tell you it is expected. Some beautiful tablecloths, shawls, woven bags, linens, leather coasters, handwoven clothing, lap blankets, leather items - you can go crazy here.:D

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Thanks for the review. Any chance that you can share the daily tour options?

Thanks.

 

Gerry

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Each day, after the briefing, the selection sheets and sign-up are done. There is a selection for each morning and afternoon. WAY too much inforation to try to pass on on the board. The briefings are very thorough and all of the information that you need is presented. The intensity level, what is recommended that you need/want to take with you is given, in general and for the more advanced intensity level activities. Sorry I couldn't give you more.

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I just wanted to add that you need not worry about signing up quickly, as they try to accomodate everyone. There is no limited number on any excursion. The sign up is in the evening and they arrange the numbers overnight.

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Just a note to show how they will accomodate everyone. One lady on our trip missed the last zodiac for the early AM tour of Kicker Rock. They lowered another zodiac and had a driver and guide take her. She had her own "private" tour that morning. This was an extra excursion for that morning and it was VERY early. Enjoy your trip!!!

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loved your review, we are sailing may 15 and cant wait, one questions, were jeans ok for dinner time.?

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No real need for getting "gussied-up" but looking a little bit better that when you got off the zodiac helps. Some did wear jeans and nobody seemed to make any real noise. You're tired at that point and just want to sit down and relax and enjoy a wonderful meal. The wines are great. The food is great, 'cept the beef is not what you are actually accustomed to, but it is better than what some people say.

Just a little teaser, check out this address, do a cut and paste.

 

http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=1yhcd227.5xxe4nlf&x=1&y=-8ny68f

 

If you have any further questions write me at i755@hotmail.com with Galapagos in the subject.

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