A Journal with 10 chapters. Last posting on Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Randy
For 10 nights in May, 2008 we explore Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The land portion of the trip is at the JW Marriott in Quito, the cruise portion is onboard Celebrity's Xpedtion - a 90 passenger mega-yacht that sails the Galapagos Islands year-round.
Way back in mid-2007 we booked the Celebrity 10 night Galapagos Islands cruisetour vacation. This includes 2 nights at the JW Marriott in Quito, a 7 night cruise aboard the Celebrity Xpedition and 1 post-cruise night back at the Marriott in Quito. The time has finally come for us to depart on this trip of a lifetime!
Flying on American via Miami, we depart Denver at around 9am, arriving Miami around 2pm and land in Quito around 7pm. As with any international arrival, we clear passport control, collect our baggage, pass through customs and into the main airport terminal. "> Read full story >>
The escorted Quito city tour is scheduled for today. To start, breakfast is served at the hotel's Bistro Latino which overlooks the beautiful pool and hot tub area. The Bistro offers traditional breakfast buffet selections, plus a few regional specialties like empanadas and tamales rolled in either traditional corn husks or banana leaves. There's also an omelet station offering fresh made omelets or specialty cooked eggs. All meals today, breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner this evening are included in the 10 night Cruisetour. After breakfast the city tour departed from the hotel lobby "> Read full story >>
Our day starts with an early morning wake-up call at 5am when we place our luggage outside the room for transfer to the ship. This is our "ship" luggage, strictly regulated to no more than 1 30lb piece per person. The remainder of the clothes we brought will be left at the JW Marriott to await our return in a week.
The hotel opens their restaurant early on this departure day, offering breakfast from 5am until our departure at 7:15. After breakfast we "check-in" for our flight by obtaining our boarding passes along with the entrance papers for the Galapagos "> Read full story >>
Overnight we cruise from North Seymour toward San Cristobal Island, the eastern most and oldest of the islands. Before arriving at San Cristobal Island, we pause briefly at Kicker Rock for a magnificent display of sunrise on the rock. In my opinion, this is a "must-do" low-intensity excursion. Boarding the zodiacs just as the sun is rising, our naturist and pilot pause for some photo opportunities before approaching the rock. As you get in closer, you'll notice the ever-present life here, sea lions swimming in the currents, the frigate birds overhead and boobies "> Read full story >>
After traveling overnight we've arrived at Floreana Island, one of the 4 islands that Charles Darwin visited onboard the HMS Beagle. This island also served as the capital of the Galapagos during the 19th century. Today there are 4 options for excursions and/or snorkeling activities. The first, a medium intensity excursion departs the ship at 8am. This is a wet landing (you step off of the Zodiac's onto the beach) with a short hike to a brackish pond, home of some of the Island's flamingos. Continuing on the hike we arrive at another white sand beach where sharks and "> Read full story >>
Today we visit Bachas Beach on the northern end of Santa Cruz Island. We have nearly completed a full circle of the eastern-most Islands, arriving back just a few miles from Baltra where we landed on Sunday. Bachas Beach is named after the barges that broke free of their moorings and ran aground on this beach during World War II activities when the US used this area as protection for the Panama Canal. The name comes from the poor English pronunciation by the local population for the word barges. Today's excursions on Santa Cruz include two low intensity excursions, "> Read full story >>
After cruising all night, we drop anchor off of Isabela Island around 6:30am. From our stateroom on Vista Deck (400 series), the anchoring procedure will never go unnoticed as the clatter of the chain reverberates through the metal hull of the ship. If you weren't awake by anchoring time - it's doubtful that you'll sleep through it.
The west coast of Isabela is another in the itinerary of the HSM Beagle. After a quick breakfast at the buffet at Darwin's we're off for the first high intensity excursion of the day to Urbina Bay. The beach is small and steep, but "> Read full story >>
After a quick breakfast from the buffet in Darwin's, we're off on the 8am, high intensity excursion of the day to Puerto Egas on Santiago Island. Following a wet landing on the beach, we hike along the coast below the high tide water mark. Not unlike Fernandina, this hike is across lava rock. However, this area is much flatter, and not as broken up as it was on Fernandina, making the hike much easier. At one spot along the trail we come upon a mother sea lion and her 1-day old baby (as evidenced by the nearby placenta). Some of the tidal pools are deep, and one "> Read full story >>
Motoring through the night, we arrive on the south side of Santa Cruz in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Archipelago and drop anchor around 6:30am. This active seaport has many ships anchored in the safe harbor where apparently most of the re-supply operations are carried out. After a quick breakfast on deck, we join the 8am excursion to the "Highlands" to observe the giant Galapagos tortoises.
There are two excursions planned for today, at 8am you can visit the "Highlands" to observe the giant Galapagos tortoises, or visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. ">> Read full story >>
We awaken to find ourselves anchored in the small bay near the airport on Baltra, where our amazing Galapagos adventure started just 7 short days ago. Last minute packing is finished and our luggage deposited outside our stateroom door by the requested 6am. Breakfast in Darwin's is a bit more somber this morning, each of us facing the reality that we'll soon be departing the Galapagos and separated from some of the great friends we've made onboard, both guests and crew.
After shuttling luggage ashore, the zodiacs return for the guests and those crew members that will "> Read full story >>