The Anahi is a nicer ship with better facilities than most of the other ships we saw, with a lovely outdoor bar and very pretty updated rooms. The chemical smell in the bathrooms is yucky, but the hot showers are excellent. The food is great, and they went to extra trouble to make sure plenty of vegetarian options were available for us at each meal. The only disappointment was that the jacuzzi isn't heated. Most ships don't have a cruise director, but on the Anahi, Gabriela will host you like a close friend. Kike, our guide, was by far the best of the 3 we met, and he was able to answer every question my smarty pants scientist boyfriend could muster. This was *very* different from the other guides, who had mostly just memorized a few tourbook descriptions - Kike loves this stuff and spends his free time studying biology, geology & history (along with other subjects). Our waiter, Lennin, wore many hats, accompanying us on many of our trips and whipping up great meals on the small boats that took us around the islands and serving us at local restaurants. He even fixed one of the dinghies that needed a minor repair on one of the trips. He's a genie who anticipates your needs before you've even realized them. William kept our cabin immaculately clean, with fresh bedding arranged in artistic designs every day, and did us unexpected little favors. Mayra Villafuerte, our travel agent, flew out from Quito to re-arrange our Galapagos trip when a shipment of bad fuel caused a breakdown, and she worked with Unigalapagos and the Anahi staff to make sure we were happy. (We were.) The Anahi have 4 rooms that can be made up as matrimonial beds, which aren't available on most ships.
CONTINUATION OF THE TRAVEL SLUT'S TOP 25 TIPS FOR CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ON ISABELA II
14. Each cabin has plenty of storage space for both luggage and clothes and having your snorkel gear remain outside on the deck means no wet spots in the room (hopefully). Also, all electrical plugs are U.S. 110 Volt and there is a great hairdryer in each room
15. A dryer is located on the sun deck behind the Jacuzzi and near the storage area where wetsuits are hung to dry. You can use it for your swimsuits or towels.
16. On one of the days you will probably experience an authentic Ecuadorian lunch which will include such unusual lunch items like suckling pig, popcorn, fresh milk chocolate cookies, baked chips, yellow rice and cerviche.
17. There is a 24 hour coffee machine, cookie box and purified water jug located in the bar area. The ship’s water system makes 7 tons of water daily and water is safe to drink on board.
18. The library contains a TV, DVD (and some DVD movies) and VHS (plus some VHS movies) machines for complimentary use along with many books on the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.
19. All three of the naturalists are very knowledgeable, easily approachable and always available. (Thanks Jean, Aura and Antonio!)
20. You will experience either “wet” or “dry” landings during excursions to the various islands or to ports. A “wet” landing simply means the panga boat (a 10-12 passenger zodiac, rigid floor pontoon raft) will drive up onto a beachfront area as close as possible to let passengers off. Passengers will sit on top of the pontoons en route to their destination (feet and legs inside the boat) and upon arrival will swing their legs over the side of the pontoons and step into the water which may be knee deep or ankle deep. You will want to have watershoes or aquasocks or some waterproof footwear for this. A “dry” landing means the panga boat will pull up to an actual dock area or location where your 1st step off the boat will be on either dry land or a pier.
21. Cash is required for gratuities for all the naturalists (USD $10/day is suggested) and the bartender ($7 per passenger is suggested) but your crew gratutities can be added to your shipboard account.
22. Try to stargaze with the naturalists one clear night while on board. It is an amazing experience to be able to see both the Big Dipper system from the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Cross from the Southern Hemisphere at the same time in different parts of the night sky.
23. The Captains farewell dinner is nicely presented and you will be seated with at least one member of the ship’s crew.
24. Remember also that an Ecuadorian departure tax is required and must be paid in cash USD $37.90 at the airport.
25. The time it takes to disembark, panga-ride to the Baltra docks, bus to the Baltra airport, check in, and fly to either Quito or Guayaquil, is nearly a full day so don’t have anything major planned.
The Travel Slut® Top 25 Tips for the Yacht Isabela II- Galapagos cruiseship for 2007
I was a guest in Cabin #2 from June 12 to June 17, 2007 and here are some suggestions or comments for anyone that might be considering a trip on the Isabela II ship (yacht)
1. Wake up calls consist of soft music over the in-room public address system speakers at 7 a.m. each morning. You cannot stop it or turn it down for 10 minutes and it is much more pleasant than a startling phone call, buzzer or alarm.
2. To obtain very hot shower water, be sure to retract the black button on the right side (cold) shower faucet while turning the left side (hot) fully until it stops. Otherwise you will be showering in lukewarm water.
3. Use caution on the cabin deck stepping over the hatch doors leading upstairs to the sun deck or downstairs to reception as the thresh holds are over 12 inches high.
4. There is free internet on board with 2 computers located in the library between the dining room and reception area. There are no rules for use (open 24 hours) but it is always busy before and after meals and first thing in the morning, last thing at night.
5. When the ship is not docked or at anchor, the engine noise at cruising speed is quite loud in the bar area making conversation difficult. However, I did not experience any significant engine noise on the cabin deck in my cabin #2 (near the bow and bridge) and would recommend you book a room at the front of the ship rather than at the rear. Always bring earplugs just in case and they may also used for airplanes, etc.
6. The ship has a well-stocked bar and very friendly bartender (thanks Lelis!) and it is open all evening. There is also a gift cabinet (shirts, hats, souvenirs, etc) and sundry cabinet (medicine, toiletries, sunscreen, etc.) near reception.
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7. Be sure to check the daily schedule on the bulletin board in the reception area near the entrance to the dining room for all daily activities and announcements The hotel manager is VERY nice and VERY helpful when needed (thanks Macario!) and all announcements are also made on the Public Address system as they occur.
8. There usually is a full-time medical doctor on board and there is no charge for any of his limited services (seasickness, minor cuts, etc).
9. An ice machine is located under the sink in the sun (top) deck outdoor kitchen at the ship’s stern. There are also adequate tables and chairs plus chaise lounges.
10. There is an “open bridge” policy 24/7 and also an open door policy to all cabins. There are no locks or keys to the cabins but safe deposit boxes are available inside each room. You should not be packing expensive items like jewelry for the Galapagos anyway.11. After all water activities, the hot tub/Jacuzzi is fully occupied rather quickly with people warming up so if you really want to hot tub, be sure to be one of the 1st to get onto one of the panga (zodiac) boats back to the Isabela II, remove your life preserver and wetsuit quickly, stow your snorkel bag, rinse off all sand and salt water, grab a towel (or take yours with you) and then proceed upstairs to the sun deck as quickly as possible.
12. The ship is easy to get around as there are really only three decks and the orientation to the ship and procedures the first day were both extensive and informative. 20 cabins, 40 passengers, 27 crew.
13. Breakfast and lunch are always buffet style and dinner has a sit-down menu with complimentary wine poured. The service was very attentive, meals delicious and beautifully presented.
CONTINUED ON NEXT TIP
Isabella is a the biggest of the island...it is the one that have the most locals living in it...and less tourist because you will need to go by a 4 hours ferry were every one was trowing up it was just the thing to do in such a long sardines boat ride...the bay is full of lazy seals and it is the island were you can hike kayak and snorkel in your own...don't expect to arrive and fix your own dive trips into shark islands and darwing it's just will not happens the islands are too far and you will need to be in a 8 to 10 days trip on a live onboard to reach it.
If you stay at the Royal Palm hotel you will be met by the representative as you come off the plane. You are then ted to a private air conditioned lounge area you have a welcome drink of your choice while your bags are located and carried to a waiting car by hotel staff. Galapagos Islands entry fee paid for you (with your $'s). You will then be wisked away in the car across Baltra while everyone else is still getting there luggage and boarding huge buses.
At the Baltra/Santa Cruz dock you are ferried away to Santa Cruz where a hotel van carries you to the hotel. We were across the canal (about 1/2 mile) and driving away before the first bus had arrived at the dock on Baltra. See the Baltra side dock in the picture. Just so you know you DO NOT travel in the little boat on the left!!! haha
The return trip to the airport is just as pleasant. Hotel staff will dirve you, check your baggage, escort you throuh private security screening and you'll wait in the private lounge area just steps from the plane loading area. This service is provided at no additional cost to all guest of the hotel.
The best part of staying at the Royal Palm hotel is the amazing accomodations themselves and expert staff. See other tip on the hotel
Private, quick and courteous transfers.
We have just had a superb week aboard the Diamante, a 100ft motor sailor. The boat crew, cabins, food, itinerary, trips ashore and guide were all excellent. Diamante is one of several boats run by Angermeyer Cruises. We followed a very similiar itinerary to one of their other boats, Saggita, which seemed to have similiar high standards.
In general, I would recommend going for a smaller boat (16 or less passengers) and booking at least a week rather than a shorter cruise. The former gives you a much more personal exerience and the latter gets you to places that the shorter cruises won't go to.
We booked through Inti Travel (http://www.intitravel.ca/) who provided very reliable service and an excellent recomendation for a Hotel during our transits through Quito (Hotel Patio Andaluz).
Although this is technically not accommodation in the traditional sense and is more a tour I would still like to recommend the M.V. San Jose boat as a brilliant way to see the Galapagos Islands.
It is a modern First Class vessel and has a comfortable lounge and dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can view the wildlife or just kick back and relax. It has eight air-conditioned twin cabins with private facilities and yet, at 34 metres, it was small enough for us to offer an individual level of service. It’s just perfect for a more personal look at these amazing islands.
You may be able to sail on the San Jose through other companies, but we booked through Peregrine Adventures/Geckos.
Lindblad and National Geographic offer a remarkable Galapagos experience. The MS Islander is a luxurious and intimate way to experience the best of what these Islands have to offer. Go out and experience the best of nature and then come back to the boat to be pampered!
The itinnerary was immaculately planned, with each day better than the one before!
This is the best resort we've ever stayed in. The professional staff truely wants the service they provide to be the most memorable part of you trip. Read my travelogue for a lot more information
Outstanding food. Private bungalows and suites offer a romantic retreat. See travelogue for a lot more info.
Cant complain about the accomodations. We were on the Sky dancer which is a Peter Hughes charter. The food was good enough, and the boat ran on a tight schedule. So most every day during the week was full of diving, snorkeling hiking, followed by dinner and an open bar. Well worth the $$$$'s spent on this outing.... (and being there is nary a hotel most of the islands we visited, a live aboard was pretty much the only option out here.....)
In the Galapagos most people take a yacht. After much debate I went on an 8 day 7 night cruise on the Darwin yacht and I found it to be an excellent choice. No luxury here, as it is a tourist class boat, but it was impeccably clean and the service of the friendly staff was excellent.
Rooms are cramped and you sleep in narrow bunkbeds, showers have hot water and there is electricity from a generator 24/7. Great value for money.
The guide was excellent.
We booked the boat via Zenith Ecuador Travel agency www.zenithecuador.com - their prices are very competitive and they were really helpful in arranging the trip and finding the options best suited to us.
The Hotel Silberstein is located on Santa Cruz Island in the center of Puerto Ayora. It was opened by a German family who came to the islands at the beginning of the century. This hotel serves not only as a place to stay, but also as an information center for tourists. You can book daily boat tours from the hotel.
The hotel was clean, the service very friendly and the location convenient. There is no tv or phone in the rooms but I'm sure that's not needed here. A very good restaurant is attached also.
The Seaman is a 76 foot "tourist class" yacht that accommodates 16 passengers in 8 nearly identical cabins that have private bathrooms (sink, shower, toilet) and air condition. These two features (private bath and air conditioning) are an absolute requirement in my opinion. There are 6 cabins in the forward section and 2 cabins in the rear section, although all are on the bottom level of the boat. The main level includes a sunny spot on the bow, the dining room & kitchen, and an open area in the aft (used as a crew dining area, snorkel/dive gear storage area, and also as a place to remove/put on shoes and life jackets for trips ashore). The back of the boat has a large platform for getting in and out of the water and boarding the pangas (dinghies).
Pictures and full trip report available on our web site
We're very glad that we didn't go one one of the larger/posh ships. A smaller boat is definitely the way to go in the Galapagos. In addition to being able to sail right through the split in Kicker Rock, it's much easier to snorkel and go on shore excursions with only 14 other people.
Because we planned to visit the far northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, requiring a 20-hour voyage from Santa Cruz, we needed to be on a liveaboard dive boat. Liveaboards, are, in fact, the most common way to visit the islands.
The boat we sailed on, the Daphne, is neither a backpacker-class boat with shared bathrooms nor a luxurious boat with waiters in the dining room, but the crew will do anything and every thing to make your stay aboard enjoyable.
The Daphne has 8 cabins with bunk beds and private bathrooms. I think the best cabins are the ones aft on the bridge deck since they have both an ocean view and a somewhat larger bottom bunk bed (two can actually sleep in it if they cuddle). I had a cabin on the bridge deck, but fore, and as I had the top bunk, I was in the highest place in the boat to (try) to sleep. When we sailed overnight on rough seas, I didn't get much sleep because I was always thinking I was going to be jolted right off the very narrow bed and onto the floor. (You can see how narrow the bunk is for me by checking out the photo.)
The boat has a lounge/living room area where there is a small collection of nature and fish books about wildlife in the islands. There is also a television/DVD player if you feel like watching a movie to pass the time while covering the distance between one island visit and the next.
The dining room serves as the bar area when meals are not being served. Sometimes the DM rigs up a boom box for some salsa dancing (not so easy on a rocking boat, but fun), and if you get some of the local cane rum while you're ashore, the barman will fix up buckets of caipirinhas to make you believe you're a better dancer than your are, LOL.
And last, but not least, there is a small dive deck with racks for the air tanks and places to hang wetsuits as
well as to store fins, booties, and other essentials.
Some of the divers who would be on our dive boat were booked at this hotel instead of the Solymar, so although I didn't stay there, I got a good look at the place. It's somewhat more expensive than the Solymar, but the facilities are a little more upscale.
This is a pleasant looking hotel both from the street and inside the grounds. When you step in off the street you are in the open-air bar/restaurant part. Passing behind this public area you come to the swimming pool, indoor dining room and the guest wing. It is on the opposite side of the road from the bay.
The photo was taken from the door of the dining room.
This hotel has the convenience of an on-site restaurant.
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