Post Hero

The key to enjoying a cruise in the Galapagos is doing your homework and packing the right gear. Here are answers to questions I have received since  returning from my cruise on Celebrity Flora:

When to go?
The Galapagos are a year-round destination, and every season has its plusses and minuses. In general:
  • The driest weather is from June to November. This is also the season of cooler temperatures (especially in the evenings) and barren landscapes. Ocean temperatures are cooler and currents stronger this time of year. Ocean waters are clearer, better for snorkeling/diving.
  • The rainier period is from December to April. This means a warmer ocean and hotter temperatures on land. February and March are the hottest months of the year. Rain falls sporadically and mostly in the highlands. It usually rains for an hour or so, and that's it. Rain brings out the vegetation, cactus flowers, and typically more bird activity.
  • May is a transition month, with greener landscapes (it's the end of the rainy season) but not as hot as February/March. Some of the guides I spoke to consider May an ideal month to visit.
What to pack?
Galapagos cruises are casual and relaxed. There is no need for formal/dressy attire. The #1 priority is being practical. 

For your time in Quito:
  • Keep in mind Quito sits at  9,300 ft. over sea level. Because you are at the Equator and a high elevation, the weather is unpredictable. Nights are cool (high 40s/low 50s) and days can be cool or warm (up to 70s). It can rain at any moment. My advice:  wear layers, a rain jacket, and comfortable walking shoes. 
  • Stay hydrated and drink more water than you would normally. Try to have your big meal for lunch and a lighter supper to cope with the altitude during your time in Quito.
For the Galapagos:
  • Protect yourself from the sun, which is intense. Bring Sunscreen (SPF 40 or higher), a hat, and sunglasses. I also recommend Long-sleeved t-shirts and lightweight hiking pants, ideally in neutral/earth tones.
  • A lightweight rain jacket, and a sweater or light jacket for the evenings
  • Zip lock bags for your phone/camera, to keep them dry
  • A small backpack comes in handy
  • Because you will have both wet and dry landings, bring water shoes and lightweight hiking shoes.
  • Pack at least two swimsuits 
Gulls nesting
 
What about Covid Protocols?
If you are traveling with Celebrity Cruises, the line has you covered going to the Galapagos, and preparing you for your return to the USA. Here are the current formalities, as of 29DEC21:
  • Americans must show proof of COVID vaccination (two doses, with the second dose taken at least 14 days prior to arrival in Ecuador) and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival in Ecuador. 
  • As an added precautionary measure, Celebrity tests all guests the day before they arrive in the Galapagos. This is not required by the Ecuadorean government, but Celebrity tests all guests to add a layer of protection prior to embarking on the ship. 
  • Before returning to the USA (if purchasing Celebrity's 10/11/16 night packages) Celebrity will provide a COVID test for all guests, 24 hours prior to departure for the USA.
Are children allowed on a Celebrity Galapagos Cruise?
Children are welcome on Celebrity's Galapagos cruises. The recommendation is  seven years or older, but younger children are welcome. 

Any other advice?
  • Go on as many shore excursions as possible. Wildlife is unpredictable, and you never know what you will find at sea/ashore.
  • Don't miss the daily briefing on Celebrity Flora, usually at 7pm. This is a great preview of the next day, what to expect, what to wear, and a summary of each shore excursion. 
  • The daily lectures on board Celebrity Flora are very interesting and will give you a richer understanding of the wildlife and the islands. 
Hope this is helpful. Next: A great hacienda stay recommendation in Ecuador, before or after your Galapagos cruise. 
Wednesday, 22 December 2021 00:00

Trip Report: The Galapagos, Part 2 - Celebrity Flora

Written by
Post Hero
There are over 50 cruise ships sailing the Galapagos archipelago on a regular basis.  Here's why Celebrity Flora stands out. 

Flora open deck space
A new ship designed for the Destination. Flora was the first purpose-built ship created specifically for the Galapagos. This means the ship meets the strictest environmental standards, offers more stateroom and deck space per passenger, has more on board facilities, and gives more options for guests. Flora is large enough to feature two restaurants, a small gym, two bars, and plenty of deck space & public areas, yet small enough that the staff on board gets to know you by the second day of your cruise. The ship was launched in 2019, so the hardware is new and in great condition. Ship's capacity is 50 suites/up to 100 guests. 


Flora restaurant.JPG
All-suites. Flora features 100 suites, ranging from 300 to over 1,200 square feet of space. Most suites feature either a veranda, or an 'infinite veranda', meaning a window whose top opens to let in the fresh air. The Royal and Penthouse suites offer the most space, with separate living areas and large bathrooms and terraces. 

Flora balcony suite.JPG
Flora royal suite PH.JPG
All-Inclusive, Elevated. Celebrity Flora fares include all meals, drinks, tipping, excursions, transfers, and much more. Every guest is provided with snorkeling equipment, fins, and a wet suit. When arriving on board from a shore excursion, expect drinks and snacks served on deck. Every detail is taken care of. The only extra charges are for premium wines, laundry, and spa treatments. Spending the night on deck ("Glamping" option, see below) has an extra charge.

More time for adventures. Getting on/off Flora is easy with next-generation tenders that can embark or disembark a group of ten guests in under 1 minute (I timed it!). This means guests have more time to enjoy the destination. Typically, tenders carry up to 10 guests with a dedicate expedition leader. 

Flora zodiac.jpg
More choices. Every day, Flora guests have up to 7 excursions and experiences to choose from. These range from easy coastal rides on a tender spotting wildlife to a challenging hike. There is also kayaking, snorkeling (both beachside and in the open ocean), and walking & hiking excursions on offer. 


Flora excursion at sea

Exceptional service on board. A team of almost 100 professionals delivers a very high level of service, with a staff to guest ratio of nearly 1:1. The expedition team is very experienced and knowledgeable. I was very impressed with the service levels, the quality of the lectures on board, as well as the commentary on all guided excursions. 

Peace of Mind. The Celebrity team in Ecuador takes care of guests from the moment they arrive in Quito until they fly home home. This includes all luggage handling, transfers, and Covid testing. As an extra safety measure, Celebrity tests all guests in Quito the day before they fly to the Galapagos, exceeding local requirements. 

Great pre/post packages + Exclusive flight to/from Galapagos. Celebrity is the only cruise line that has an exclusive non-stop flight from Quito to Galapagos, and return. This avoids the stop in Guayaquil, and gets you to/from destination faster. There is also more space on board the airplane, as Celebrity's flight carries a maximum of 100 guests on an aircraft that can carry up to 160 passengers. The pre-cruise package includes two nights in Quito at the JW Marriott Hotel with sightseeing and meals, as well as one night at the airport on the return, before guests fly home. Guests can choose from a 10 night package (Including Quito sightseeing) or a 16-night Ecuador & Peru package that also includes Lima, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.  

A fun option: Spend a night under the stars. Celebrity Flora is the only ship that offers guests 'glamping' At sea. Travelers spend the night under the stars, enjoying dinner for two (served al fresco in your cabana), a proper bed set up with all the trimmings, and breakfast in the morning. Note - there is an added cost for this special option.


Flora glamping  
Post Hero
I visited Ecuador's mainland and its Galapagos Archipelago earlier this month. While I have the trip fresh on my mind, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you, including reasons to visit, a great expedition ship in this market, and practical advice.

GPS blog 1 Bartolome landscape.jpeg Before I get started, the obvious question: Why visit? No question - it takes some effort to get to the Galapagos. The islands are located about 620 Miles/1000 Kms. West of the Ecuadorean mainland. Visitors normally fly to either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE), spend the night, then fly to the main airport at Baltra Island (GPS). Because 97% of the archipelago is a protected national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are forms to fill out prior to arriving, and a park admission fee that every visitor must pay. In addition, the Galapagos is an expensive trip. Having said all of this, is the destination worth the effort? The answer is absolutely YES.

Here are 7 reasons why The Galapagos are so special:

Nature's Showcase. The Galapagos has the highest concentration of endemic not found anywhere else - over 1,000 indigenous birds, plants, fish, and mammals. Think iguanas that swim, flightless birds, the only penguins north of the equator, blue and red footed birds, and - giant tortoises that live up to 150 years and can weigh 800 lbs. The Galapagos are a world apart.

Wildlife without fear. Because the islands are very remote and have been  isolated for so long, wildlife has nothing to fear. There are few predators and most of the archipelago is a protected national park. Don't be surprised if sea lions swim with you when you snorkel. Birds will sit right next to you. Giant iguanas sit undisturbed on the beach. You are the visitor. The wildlife is home.  


GPS blog 2 seals.jpeg
A landscape like no other. The archipelago is 'oceanic', this is to say the islands rose up from the ocean floor millions of years ago, and were never part of any land mass. There are 13 active volcanoes spread out over the islands, and evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere. Every island is different and as you explore the archipelago you will see lava flows and landscapes that look like the surface of the moon. Some islands have green highlands and forests. Expect to be surprised.

Range of activities. You can explore the Galapagos on foot, skirting the coast on a zodiac, kayaking along the shore, and swimming, snorkeling, and diving - both near the coast, and out in the ocean. It's up to you how much you want to do and how you want to experience the islands. 

GPS blog post 3.jpeg
Beaches in every color of the rainbow. You'll find black, grey, white, ochre, and red sand beaches. I also visited a beach that had sand of a light olive green color. The beaches are amazing, but -- the ocean water temperatures tends to be cold most of the year, due to the strong Humboldt Antarctic current coming up the West Coast of South America.

Nineteen islands to explore. The Galapagos islands are very close to each other. On a typical cruise, you have the opportunity to visit 6-10 different islands. The proximity facilitates your being able to see more in a short time.

Walk in Darwin's Footsteps. In 1835, a young scientist named Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos. His research and observation of endemic species in the islands and how they adapted over millions of years helped him form the Theory of Evolution, which changed how science views life on earth forever. As you make your way through the islands, you will see a "living natural museum" that continues to evolve. Don't miss the Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island.

delores and family origWe really enjoyed the cruise and we fell in love with Alaska. We would have loved to spend more time there.

Thank you very much for organizing this amazing family-vacation for us.

Dolores, Michael & family

 

celebrity solstice origAlaska’s Inside Passage aboard the Celebrity Solstice

​We were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, but I had major back surgery in March and was not sure about making our trip.

We cannot say enough about the Celebrity staff and them accommodating me. I was using a walker for this trip and asked for special needs. Upon arrival at the dock for departure, we checked in at the curbside area for assistance. They had my name on a list and had a wheel chair ready for me to transport me on board. They stayed with us through security and delivered us to our stateroom.

The accommodations, food, beverage service and the ship were exceptional. We have been on other cruise lines, but we feel Celebrity knocked it out of the park. The entire staff was friendly and willing to help me anyway they could.

I wanted to thank you for your efforts in making this a memorable trip and making the necessary accommodations required for me to be able to go on the trip. I would recommend Celebrity Lines anytime. Compared to other cruises, they were much more efficient; they had the system down.

Ken and Linda

 

whales web origWe appreciate your booking our Scandinavia/Russia Cruise ~ the ports of call were wonderful and culturally enriching. The mini-suite you chose for us had more than ample space with a beautifully angled balcony … the tray of canapés you sent welcomed us warmly aboard the Regal Princess ~ a BIG thank you!

We were blessed with good weather and health throughout the cruise!

LOTS of great memories!!! Thank you!

Joy & Rick

 

robert and joan origThe entire Trach clan want to thank you for organizing an amazing trip to Spain for us!!! It was absolutely perfect from the time we landed until we were back at the airport on our way home. The excursions were the best and the lodging arrangement at the beach truly an awesome experience!

It far exceeded my expectations, which were really high! We will never forget the time we spent together which, as you know, is really special as your kids get older! Thank you again for the ​memories!!

Robert and Joan

 

roz and mom origI didn’t know such a place existed like Le Blanc here in Cancun. The food! The drinks! The spa! The service! My mom and I find ourselves WOWed at least 5 times a DAY. It’s amazing if a place can WOW ya once a trip…let alone 5 times a day. This place truly is amazing.

Laura, Thank you so much again for the arrangements. Mom’s 90th birthday trip was fantastic!

Roz

 

sandra welch pilgrimmage origI attended the recent trip to Israel led by Marge Santos. I have traveled the world both with guided tours and with family members on our own. Marge and her team did an outstanding job planning and coordinating the trip, from the itinerary to hotels to meals. Her low key guidance and leadership made the pilgrimage most enjoyable. Her patience and easy manner were appreciated.

I am so grateful I had the privilege to travel with Marge and look forward to more travel with her in the future.

Sandra Welch

 

punta cana brandiSherry and I and our group of eleven loved our National Geographic G-Adventures 2 week trip to Costa Rica. I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors and people of Costa Rica.

Our CEO, Deinor Alfaro was fantastic! He always reviewed the next day with us - times - transportation - what to expect. - tours - tour options. He also arranged for the group to do an optional dinner out in every town. All transportation arrived promptly and all of our guides were exceptional.

Tortuguero - Remote but very comfortable. We saw many different birds, including toucans, lizards, caimans, a sloth and monkeys.
pat 2 origLa Fortuna - We loved our tours - We got to immerse ourselves in the culture.
Monteverde - An adventure in itself. The people are passionate about protecting the environment in Costa Rica.
Manual Antonio - Our hotel Villas Lirio was very nice! Our tour to Manual Antonio National Park was exceptional. Our guide look photos and let us look through his high powered scope.

So many great memories!

 
Page 1 of 7