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Peregrina651

V. Expeditions: Everything Galapagos+Machu Picchu

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Until Cruise Critic carves out a separate place for us to talk about the new Expeditions cruises and adds the new ships to the Roll Calls, I want to start a thread where we can share what we are learning about the about the Galapagos + Machu Picchu itineraries on the Santa Cruz II. 

 

Yes, Viking is taking on the Galapagos-- and sweetening the pot with Machu Picchu. The first sailing is at the end of December, 2020 -- just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve in Lima, Peru.

 

Let me start with a link to the itineraries: https://www.vikingcruises.com/expeditions/cruise-destinations/galapagos/index.html

 

The Santa Cruz II is a leased vessel which Viking has refurbished to its standards. Viking will be running the hotel operation, as it does on all of the vessels it leases. Here are some things that we have learned about the ship and the itinerary in the process of booking:

 

  • No verandas in any of the cabins.
  • No mini-fridges, at least in OV cabins
  • No laundromat on board. Waiting for answer about laundry service.
  • Gratuities are not included on board the ship; still trying to get an answer about what is covered on the land portion.

 

Not only do we want to learn more about the ship but we would love to hear from people who have already visited  the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Cuzco and The Sacred Valley. Anything special we should know to make the best of our visit?

 

 

 

 

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Correction - no mini-fridges in any cabins. Just booked Dec 31st this morning and asked my Viking TA about that topic - and that was the answer. She is checking into the issue of laundry service on board. When I get an answer will post here. 

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Oh and yes. We are probably completely crazy to book ourselves on the very first cruise of a new venture like this including the pre-extension but there you are. Crazy. Guilty as charged. 😉

 

Also Peregrina - thanks for starting this thread. Solves my ToDo task - "Subscribe/create roll call" - in my standard major vacation checklist for this trip. 

Edited by CharTrav

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Thanks for starting this thread. We are booked August 12, 2121. I asked about laundry and was told it could be sent out while onboard. Also told no TV and very little WiFi. But the ship hardly looks spartan. It’s beautiful. We should have done this trip ten years ago, so it’s now or never!  I’m excited 18 months in advance  

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32 minutes ago, Liz Masterson said:

😍  Galapagoes are a dream of mine!

My husband who normally ponders things long and hard before doing anything (or dithers? 😉) actually decided almost on a dime that we should do this.  So what else could I say but "of course, dear!" and make it so. I'm pretty excited too - feeling a bit like a pioneer being on the 1st sailing. I'm sitting here at this moment doing all my usual planning stuff. Having a good time too!

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Mine did the same. We got the glossy brochure in the mail Last Friday afternoon. By Saturday morning We had a provisional booking ( wanted one of those elusive DX rooms) and paid on Monday morning ( right before the stock market fell). I looked at all the hotels, which look wonderful, read the excursions, wondered if I was too old to do a “wet landing” and just told myself oh what the heck, I’ll buy some water shoes!  I am so glad Viking finally came up with this bucket list trip and will take care of all the details for us!

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1 hour ago, Liz Masterson said:

😍  Galapagoes are a dream of mine!

mine too..😁

 

Thanks for starting this thread Peregrina. 

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36 minutes ago, geffric said:

mine too..😁

 

Thanks for starting this thread Peregrina. 

 

So glad that everyone is here. I was so worried that there would be no audience, just me and CharTrav. I told her we had booked -- because I had to share the news with someone, and who else but a fellow voyager -- and now she is booked. We are booked for December, 2021, and I would have booked for Jan, 22 were it on the schedule.

 

There are so many things to contemplate on this trip. Will everything we need fit into just our carry-ons? Can we avoid checked luggage? Our trip is 22 months away and already I am thinking about this stuff.

 

Did you know that the flight from Cuzco to Guayaquil is over 5 hours? It is like flying coast to coast! I haven't checked the other flights yet.

 

1 hour ago, SantaFe1 said:

We should have done this trip ten years ago, so it’s now or never!

 

Same here! I'm not sure how we will handle the altitude. I guess I will have to make a few trips to my sister in Colorado to practice. 😉 So, yeh, now or never.

 

In any case, this thread is for those who are going and those who are contemplating and those who just here for the vicarious thrill, so let's keep sharing what we learn as we learn it -- especially links to helpful reviews, information, tips, etc. This will keep us busy until Char starts giving us live feed back in December.

 

 

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I agree, it is so much fun to have someone to chat with about this trip. Well, we live at 7200 feet but Cuzco is 11,000!  Yes, I asked about the flights and was assured all were in jets, no little prop planes. But still a lot of flying around. 

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Actually - I think it was the email I got from Peregrina telling me about her decision to book that started the quickly tumbling process here. We'd been batting around the idea for the past few weeks (is that when we got the fancy pamphlet?). So yesterday I told hubby what Peregrina was considering doing or had and reminded him of the offer deadline. May have tossed in a so "why don't we?" And bingo! He says "yeah! Let's do it!" So we did. 😊

Edited by CharTrav

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9 minutes ago, SantaFe1 said:

I agree, it is so much fun to have someone to chat with about this trip. Well, we live at 7200 feet but Cuzco is 11,000!  Yes, I asked about the flights and was assured all were in jets, no little prop planes. But still a lot of flying around. 

 

Cuzco to Guayaquil is 2256mi or so, that is two thirds across the continental US. That trip is going to take all day. Hope the hotel in Guayaquil has a nice pool for us to sit around.

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1 minute ago, CharTrav said:

Actually - I think it was the email I got from Peregrina telling me about her decision to book that started the quickly tumbling process here. We'd been batting around the idea for the past few weeks (is that when we got the fancy pamphlet?). So yesterday I told hubby what Peregrina was considering doing or had and reminded him of the offer deadline. And bingo! He says "yeah! Let's do it!" So we did. 😊

 

 

Happy to help, ma'am.

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1 hour ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

There are so many things to contemplate on this trip. Will everything we need fit into just our carry-ons? Can we avoid checked luggage?

Sorry. I may be nuts but I always check my bag. I have other things I need to be able to carry on - camera bag and backpack.  I’ve only had to deal with my bags being delayed maybe 3 times. And the last time was a long time ago. 

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3 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Cuzco to Guayaquil is 2256mi or so, that is two thirds across the continental US. That trip is going to take all day. Hope the hotel in Guayaquil has a nice pool for us to sit around.

I went to Cozco/Machu Picchu  many many many years ago...the flight from LIMA was very long and the plane turned sideways to go between mountains then leveled out and landed in Cozco.  Very thrilling! We had coca tea at our hotel to help us adjust to the altitude. 

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2 hours ago, CharTrav said:

Sorry. I may be nuts but I always check my bag. I have other things I need to be able to carry on - camera bag and backpack.  I’ve only had to deal with my bags being delayed maybe 3 times. And the last time was a long time ago. 

My checked bags toured a great deal of Europe and saw much more than I did..I keep  meaning to put a camera on my luggage so I can share in the adventure. 

Edited by geffric

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2 hours ago, CharTrav said:

I’ve only had to deal with my bags being delayed maybe 3 times

 

But you don't fly into Logan.

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3 hours ago, geffric said:

My checked bags toured a great deal of Europe and saw much more than I did..I keep  meaning to put a camera on my luggage so I can share in the adventure. 

😃

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I can help with this itinerary as we did a very similar trip as part of our retirement treat, we toured for 7 weeks in S America.

Lima, you will probably stay in Miraflores a more upmarket area where it is very safe to wander on your own

Sacred Valley, a fertile plain where the Incas grew many crops, interesting towns and markets, you will be at 3000M at times and need to watch for signs of altitude sickness

Machu Picchu, we took the Hiram Bingham train and stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge, this is the only on site hotel, other accommodation is in Aguas Calientes about a 30 minute coach ride up to MP, I would enquire if this option is available as an upgrade.

Trip back to Cusco is about 4 hours by train, sometimes part of the journey is by coach if the Urabamba river is too high.

Galapagos are amazing, we are the animals in the zoo, the fauna and flora take centre stage, you will be accompanied by naturalists who will put the wildlife first, we did island walks in the morning and snorkeling in the afternoon.

Quito, was a real bonus, worth an extra night to enjoy the city.

 

I could go on but happy to try and answer any questions.

 

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We did a Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu a few years ago and LOVED it!  YOU could easily do it with carry-on's only ... as I recall you did the China that way ... this one will be fine as well. 

 

We went in December (Christmas Eve/day in Cusco ... that's a story in itself!!) and the weather was quite nice most of the time.  It was rainy in Machu Picchu but that is actually in a "cloud forest" so it is almost always humid and boggy.  Unfortunately it can impede your photography but if you are patient there will likely be a break at some point and you can get some wonderful shots.  

 

FWIW ...We consulted with our doctors and opted for the altitude sickness medication (Diamox).  We had little trouble adapting to the altitude and suffered no unpleasant side effects.  We debated the decision but knew there would be no time in the itinerary for a slow ascent and there would be a lot of hiking involved and a white water rafting trip that would be physically challenging under the best of circumstances.  We were two of the few who suffered no ill effects and were able to enjoy every minute of the trip without interruption.  We used the medication again when we did the China trip and enjoyed every minute of our time in Tibet.

 

We loved Lima and although we did not stay in Miraflores we were in a hotel that was a reasonable walk to the waterfront.  It was absolutely lovely! 

 

The food in Peru was great and while in Lima we enjoyed a wonderful dinner overlooking some ruins that are still being excavated.  Lit up in the evenings, the site was a lovely backdrop for a great meal!  It was a bit of a distance from the hotel so we asked at the front desk about taxis ... the hotel provided us with a private car and driver who delivered us safely in time for our dinner reservations and picked us up at after.  It was a lovely service and not much more than a taxi would have been.

 

Cusco and the Sacred Valley were really a once in a lifetime experience ... won't go on here forever ... although I could!   If you have any questions I'm here ... and I'm just a little bit jealous!!!

 

 

 

Edited by molymoo

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5 hours ago, Haworth said:

I could go on but happy to try and answer any questions.

 

 

19 minutes ago, molymoo said:

If you have any questions I'm here

 

THANK YOU BOTH!! 

 

Glad you are planning on sticking around. It is good to have "resident experts" on a thread like this.

 

 

19 minutes ago, molymoo said:

YOU could easily do it with carry-on's only ... as I recall you did the China that way ... this one will be fine as well. 

 

China and every trip since. It isn't just that baggage handling at our home airport is like molasses but we decided that it was important to be able to handle all of our luggage on our own no matter what the situation-- including hotels with no elevators.

 

But, packing is a personal matter and everyone is going to do what works for them.

 

This trip is going to take a lot of planning so that we don't spend our time packing and unpacking two suitcases at every stop. Plus, we won't have laundry facilities for the first 9 days --and that is a long time when our normal packing plan is five days worth of clothing. The ship will be inundated with bags of laundry when we board, won't it. At least the cruise portion is second. At least I have almost 2 years to work on it --and all the expertise of those who will sail before me to fall back on.

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When we did our trip the weight limit on the flights to the Galapagos was 15kg, that set the tone for the whole trip

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When I asked about planes, at first the Viking agent said he thought they might be “weigh you and your luggage” type planes.  Then he put me on hold to check, and came back saying we would be flying in Airbus 319 or 320 planes, with a general 3-3 seat configuration.  He said Viking might be chartering whole planes, and he said they might do the “European business class” configuration, leaving the middle seat empty.  I certainly hope so!!!  5.5 hours in an economy seat is not something I want to do.

 

as for laundry...I wonder if we could send out laundry at the hotel in Cuzco, where we spend two nights, the afternoon we check in and have it returned the next day.  (That would be day 6-7).  That’s something the Dec. 31 group can report on.  And, btw, there are three Galapagos expeditions.  Are we all on the 15 day East Galapagos expedition?  It sounds like it.

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I cant speak for Cusco but in Miraflores there were plenty of laundries, seemed like every street corner, one down the road from our hotel turned our washing round in about 4 hours, we had an extra overnight stay. They put it in a large plastic tub and weigh it and then charge a pittance and it was ready on time, dry and folded.

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With acknowledgement to @SantaFe1 let me throw this long post into the mix. Prepared in my iPhone Notes app first so I could make sure it's error free. 

 

I spent last night trying to work out the flights using the day by day narratives in the VE site to guide me. I think I've come up with reasonable guesses as to which flights will be used assuming commercial flights are used (Kayak).  But I couldn't help but wonder exactly what will Viking do? What is the best way to handle shuttling 90+ people (inc Viking program director and other support crew) from place to place while keeping them together and ensuring they all arrive at the same time?  When traveling by rail - that's pretty easy. But by air? Will all 90 of us be on the same flight? Is that possible? Can the airlines accommodate that? These are the guesses I've made about flights, aircraft type, (passenger capacity), flight time in hrs:

  • Lima to/from Cuzco: A320 (150-186), 1.5
  • Lima to Guayaquil: 767-300ER (199/261), 2.25
  • Guayaquil to Galápagos (Baltra): A319 (124-156), 2
  • Galápagos to Quito (via Guayaquil): A320 (150-186), 2 and 1 with 50 min layover 

All these aircraft can handle 90 of us altogether. But is that what's going to happen? I'd be interested in anybody else's insight or experience with this. Like SantaFe1 I've been wondering if they might charter a flight just for us. So it's good to read that she was told that is a possibility.

 

In the meantime I've had great fun laying out in TripIt my estimation of a detailed itinerary. Realizing that all of it is simply guesswork. The only things I know for sure are dates and places. After that it's things like what do narratives that say we'll arrive "mid-afternoon" really mean? At least I've got something to work from that I can edit as I learn more from Viking either beforehand or after we land in Lima and receive our info packet.😉

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