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Live blog of first voyage of Flora in the Galapagos, post pandemic


DrKoob
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One of my family's best trips ever......several years ago on the Expedition (before Flora). We are very adventurous and loved all the snorkeling and hikes. Swimming with sea lions, turtles, fish and penguins was a blast. Glad to know the guides are back in business and perhaps the area will have more income for preserving the treasure.

Glad your trip is going better.

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So happy to be reading your blog Jim. Had my doubts you and Kathleen would actually be sailing. 😜 Mark and I are thrilled that you are finally on Flora. Mark especially is loving all your photos. Looking forward to enjoying this trip through your words and pictures. Safe travels!

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drkoob, if you have time can you find out if a scuba diving option is offered aboard Flora?  Thank you.

 

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Posted (edited)

Loving your honesty, yet appreciating that things are still Covid crazy and will be for some time.  Thank you for taking time out from your busy, busy schedule without a lot of sleep to share your adventure with us.  Looking foreward to more information and photos!

Edited by Lastdance
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Same as everyone else on here - Thanks for taking the time to write about your trip. Really helpful to know what to expect when others take the same trip later. We are booked for the end of November and hopefully they have worked out the kinks by then. We were part of the group that got cancelled in Nov. 2019 when the Xpedition ran aground and then last year well you know what happened. So we hope to finally get to take this trip! Despite the issues at the beginning it sounds amazing. I would think that the lack of paper menus and schedules is mainly an environmental thing - less garbage. Glad you mentioned it. Now I will take my cell phone.

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DrKoob, I'm really enjoying your blog.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy vacation to share your experience with us!

We will be on the Flora next April and reading your thread is making me all the more excited for our trip.😁

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5 hours ago, mahdnc said:

drkoob, if you have time can you find out if a scuba diving option is offered aboard Flora?  Thank you.

 

Jim’s wife here - there is no scuba diving - only snorkeling.

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1 hour ago, BellKat said:

Jim’s wife here - there is no scuba diving - only snorkeling.

Thank you.

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Posted (edited)

Galapagos Day 3—So much to see, so little time

Every day gets better and better after the day one hiccups. This has gone from a cruise that was not making me happy to one of the best traveling experiences of my life. But I do have a warning if you are planning on sailing on Flora—it is exhausting. I have never been so tired on a trip in my entire life. You have seen our daily schedules (Day 3 is below) and I can honestly say that if you do everything (and you HAVE to do EVERYTHING) you will be so worn out at the end of the day you will literally pass out when your head hits the pillow. You know the old joke about needing a vacation from a vacation? Well, this is that vacation.

Here was our schedule for Day 3 on Flora

Screen-Shot-2021-07-08-at-11.36.30-AM-30

Every morning we are up between 6:00 and 6:30. I am normally a person who likes to shower in the morning but on this cruise I have already taken two showers by the end of the day—one after the morning excursion and one after the afternoon excursion. Mostly to get all the sand and sunscreen off but also because on some of the "walks" (hikes in real life) can you leave you very hot and sweaty.

This morning (actually two days ago) we started with a wet landing at Point Cormorant on Floreana Island. I am not sure if I explained what the difference between wet and dry landings is, so here goes—besides the obvious you need to know that the Zodiacs that Celebrity uses are amazing pieces of machinery and they are custom built for the Galapagos. On the front there is a set of steps that you use to get off and on the ship. I had seen that in photos prior to coming but I will be honest that I had no clue that when you got off the ship on a beach, that the area just to the right of the steps goes down so that you can step right off the Zodiac. When we do a wet landing it is just that. Your feet get wet as you step off. On a dry landing you are normally going to step off onto rocks that are about level with the top of the steps of the Zodiac. This means when we have done a wet landing I wear Tevas so they can get wet and when we do a dry we are usually doing a longer hike so I wear my hiking boots. BTW: Those are the only shoes I have with me on this trip and that seems to be all I need. I usually go to the dining room and everywhere else on the ship in the Tevas and save the hiking boots for hiking.

On Floreana we had a "long easy walk" from one side of the island to the other to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Unfortunately there is not a lot of swimming off this beach as we could see a bunch of rays swimming in the shallows and there are sometimes Galapagos sharks just offshore. The naturalists told us that neither of those species is aggressive but if you step on ray by mistake you will get stung and it may put you out of capacity for a day or two.

Floreana021-201x300.jpg

On the way across we stopped to see and hear about a number of both geological and fauna related facts. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned on this trip. And I have not been disappointed yet on any of our excursions. There was a large lagoon that we hoped to see flamingos in but it was not to be. I have to constantly remind myself that this is NOT a zoo. Animals and birds move where they want to but there are plenty of them and the naturalists know where to go to find them if they aren't where they are expected.

 

One thing that I haven't shown you yet is how close you can get to the animals. Some people have commented on FB or Insta asking how far away I was and what kind of lens was I shooting with—it must have been a long zoom lens. In most cases the animals or birds were within a few feet of me. For instance, yesterday I posted the first photo below of two albatrosses doing their courtship dance. I was pretty close when I took it. About as close as the people in the second photo.

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And the animals and birds just don't care. Only the smallest birds scurry away. Albatross, blue-footed boobys, Nasca boobys, marine iguanas, land iguanas, sea lions...all just stay right where they are and you have to walk around them.

 

Floreana024.thumb.jpg.bc0c11675ff48ba696f778926db9a805.jpgFloreana025.thumb.jpg.e14f5ec19dc677b95500cab3ab07a25a.jpgFloreana028-1.thumb.jpg.c088b51badbe87fbafff8e97fcd57555.jpg

1702053543_Floreana038(1).thumb.jpg.b82d74cea106df993970e5d0552d4da8.jpg

 

From top to bottom: From far away one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen...with no one on it. The same beach is at the bottom in a closeup. Sadly it was not a swimming or snorkeling beach do to the presence of so many manta rays. But we did see the crab in the middle photo scampering to get out of our way. And the other three photos are how a blue-footed booby catch fish. First they start a dive from fairly high up because they have spotted a fish. Then they turn into a guided missile of sorts and dive straight down into the water leaving the tiniest of splashes.

 

Amazingly enough, this was just our morning. Seriously. Wait until you see the afternoon. Coming soon to a travel blog near you.

 

Again, please forgive the typos as Kathleen just doesn't have time to proof them before I put them up. And ask questions if you have them.

 

 

Edited by DrKoob
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On 7/7/2021 at 3:13 PM, Sdory28 said:

Loving following this journey on three different platforms! Thank you

You are very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read them. If you are coming down to sail the Flora and you have any questions, feel free to ask.

 

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4 hours ago, sparkopotamus said:

DrKoob, I'm really enjoying your blog.  Thank you for taking time out of your busy vacation to share your experience with us!

We will be on the Flora next April and reading your thread is making me all the more excited for our trip.😁

 You will have the MOST AWESOME TIME! Every single person on this ship is the best we have ever had at what they do. Wait until you about the seamen that pilot the Zodiacs. And the naturalists are both incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly funny. 

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4 hours ago, jogruffy said:

Same as everyone else on here - Thanks for taking the time to write about your trip. Really helpful to know what to expect when others take the same trip later. We are booked for the end of November and hopefully they have worked out the kinks by then. We were part of the group that got cancelled in Nov. 2019 when the Xpedition ran aground and then last year well you know what happened. So we hope to finally get to take this trip! Despite the issues at the beginning it sounds amazing. I would think that the lack of paper menus and schedules is mainly an environmental thing - less garbage. Glad you mentioned it. Now I will take my cell phone.

 

You will need that phone at every meal. But here's a treat. Once you download the menu, you have it forever. For instance, here's the menu from last night.

Day 3 - Gal Menu Sea Lion.pdf

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7 hours ago, 3Shelaghs said:

POST pandemic?????????? Surely you jest?????? We are far from "post anything"...... sadly

Onboard you almost feel like it is post. In the USA we are feeling that way with more than 75% vaccinated in our state of Washington. Onboard the only people wearing masks are the crew. Every one of us had a PCR test at the hotel the day before boarding and 100% passed. Every guest and crew member is vaccinated. I cannot begin to tell you how freeing it is. And on this cruise you get off the ship every single day (usually twice) and we have NEVER interacted with anyone who was not on the ship. It's the perfect post-pandemic cruise. 

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21 hours ago, Travelexpert35 said:

Following along with you. Thanks for sharing your journey. Would love to do this some year.

It is a MUST! Every day gets better and better.

 

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23 hours ago, CalTexCruiser said:

Thanks for sharing...I was considering a Galapagos cruise but the rocking and rolling would be a no-go for my wife, who gets motion sickness pretty easily.

 

I on the other hand love the rocking and rolling.

It is very strange. My bride usually has problems with it as well but not on this trip. Hardly anyone has. Not sure if it is the size of the ship or fact that it isn't really that much but I think she could handle it if she can handle one of the big ships. We have been in worse storms with much more movement on the old Galaxy and the old Century. Even on Solstice once. 

 

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Jim & Kathleen. Really enjoying the blog. This is definitely on our must do list. Les & Melody from MardiGras 2020 cruise 

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39 minutes ago, DrKoob said:

Onboard you almost feel like it is post. In the USA we are feeling that way with more than 75% vaccinated in our state of Washington.  Every one of us had a PCR test at the hotel the day before boarding and 100% passed. Every guest and crew member is vaccinated. 

That's amazing to have 75% fully vaccinated. We could all take some lessons for the "hesitant".

Were the fully vaccinated pax due to cruise line mandate, or did it just work out that way ie: no 5% unvax allowed onboard? Why were crew still in masks if vax'd? Was there a decrease in crew or full compliment?

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Dr. Koob, reading your posts helps me to remember what a great time we had on the Xpedition a couple of years ago. I'm glad you're having a nice time.

 

I am an experienced snorkeler and on our trip I had trouble getting into the water then managing my flippers due to the strong current. On the next beach snorkel I wore my Keens in the water instead of the flippers and swam (slowly I might add) over to the rocks. Watching the seals swim around us was an awesome experience. 

 

Don't forget to do a bit of stargazing during the trip, especially keep a look out for the southern cross.

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1 hour ago, kathynorth said:

Dr. Koob, reading your posts helps me to remember what a great time we had on the Xpedition a couple of years ago. I'm glad you're having a nice time.

 

I am an experienced snorkeler and on our trip I had trouble getting into the water then managing my flippers due to the strong current. On the next beach snorkel I wore my Keens in the water instead of the flippers and swam (slowly I might add) over to the rocks. Watching the seals swim around us was an awesome experience. 

 

Don't forget to do a bit of stargazing during the trip, especially keep a look out for the southern cross.

 

Hi Kathy,

We went up to deck 8 last night. It's a special area at the front of the ship where there are no ship lights. You can see millions of stars up there including the Milky Way. We were going to go again tonight but we have clouds. We have two more nights so hoping to see all the stars again at least twice.

 

Jim

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17 minutes ago, DrKoob said:

 

Hi Kathy,

We went up to deck 8 last night. It's a special area at the front of the ship where there are no ship lights. You can see millions of stars up there including the Milky Way. We were going to go again tonight but we have clouds. We have two more nights so hoping to see all the stars again at least twice.

 

Jim

 

Be sure to look for the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds!  There is no moon out, so they should be naked eye objects.

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10 hours ago, kathynorth said:

I am an experienced snorkeler and on our trip I had trouble getting into the water then managing my flippers due to the strong current. On the next beach snorkel I wore my Keens in the water instead of the flippers and swam (slowly I might add) over to the rocks. 

 

On the advanced/off the boat snorkel excursions, flippers are mandatory. Still not a strong enough swimmer to swim in these currents. BTW: Snorkeling ends on day five (which was yesterday) so no worries anymore. 

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