Monday, April 26, 2010

Beautiful Boat!

Galapagos Explorer II Our cruise ship--she has a certain Italian flair, don't you think? Built in Italy in 1990.

The Galapagos Explorer is the biggest and most beautiful boat that cruises the Galapagos Islands. It holds 100 passengers and has a staff of about 50 on board. It was a very comfortable ship to travel on. It was big enough to not be tossed too drastically by the waves, although we felt the roll of the ship often. They were very conscious of making each passenger comfortable. Most of the traveling from one place to another took place during times when passengers could rest in their staterooms to fend off seasickness.

It has many public meeting areas, the lovely dining room, indoor and outdoor bar, lounge where we held meetings every day, two shops, outdoor sun deck, plus various outdoor deck spaces. It had WI FI internet ($15 per hour!) Very convenient to read your junk mail in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!

There are 80 boats licensed to travel through the Galapagos Islands. Each has access to certain islands at certain times, and under penalty of jail time, the boats adhere to this schedule! This schedule is planned so that very seldom is more than one of the ships at any given place at the same time. We did cross several other groups one day, when three of the big ships were at the same place, but we had our times to walk the trails, and it wasn't a problem.

We were very happy with the comfort of the ship and the friendliness of the staff. They are there to help the passengers and make the trip fun.

One thing that was interesting about Galapagos. There are no large public docks big enough to accomodate more than a small boat or water taxi. So all of the embarking and disembarking from the Galapagos Explorer II took place via zodiacs (pangas in Ecuador). These are rubber rafts that held 12-15 people powered by outboard motors. Getting on and off of them was a twice daily drill, thank heaven for some very strong deck hands to help us old folks with the task! They had to take our luggage on and off of the boat the same way. Thank heaven nothing went in the drink! The Galapagos Explorer, being one of the largest boats at the Galapagos, always parked at least 1/2 mile off shore, so our trips in and out of the islands took some time. They used 6 zodiacs during every embark/disembark maneuver. It was interesting to see how all that worked.

No high heels used here! Definitely wear your walking shoes!

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