National Geographic/Lindblad Endeavour Expedition to
I researched this trip like crazy. I relied upon the Trip Advisor for a lot of the decisions that I made concerning the snorkeling equipment, which cabin to chose, and general reassurance concerning the trip. We chose to go on the tour departing August 28th, 2009, and returning September 6th. We did this for two reasons: (1) my daughter would start her first year of college late in September; and (2) we didn’t want a summer trip where one-third of the ship’s occupants would be children. I’ll talk more later about the children on the tour. Thank you to all of the kind posters who responded to my many questions!
This trip was beyond fantastic. The teaming of National Geographic and Lindblad is perfect. Talk about taking customer service to another level. The whole operation is run very professionally. The guides are great – each day you can go on several different explorations – from hiking, kayaking, or snorkeling. Or you can choose to stay onboard, and read, or lounge outside.
We chose to go to South Beach two days early, so we enjoyed ourselves there before leaving for Guayaquil out of Miami. I did not want to take any chance that we would miss our flight from Miami to Guayaquil!
Our flight out of Miami was delayed, and we arrived in Guayaquil very late – around 2:00 A.M. We then had to be up and out of our room at the Hotel Hilton Colon at about 6:00 A.M. We were a very tired group of travelers. I left some of my excess luggage at the Hotel Hilton Colon because I was concerned about the weight limitations. The hotel has a very efficient system set up to take care of the tour participants – they were many others who also left luggage checked there. We left the Hotel Hilton Colon via a bus, and we were taken to the Guayaquil Airport. Departed Guayaquil airport on time, and were soon landing in the Galapagos at Baltra. We were taken by a shuttle to zodiacs for transfer onto the Endeavour. Our bags were all taken care of, and we were taken directly to our rooms. I loved our little suite. It was so cute. The maid/steward was never seen, but her work was greatly appreciated. Every time we left our room, she came in and tidied up. Our bedding was super soft and comfy.
On our first day on the ship, we had an orientation, a wonderful lunch, and then we prepared for a visit to North Seymour Island. Right away, the marvelous sights began. My daughter spotted a hammerhead shark right beside the zodiac!!! Incredible! Our guide was even surprised by the sighting – she saw it also, and she said it was unusual to see one there. After a dramatic landing onto rocks, we were on North Seymour Island! We had been warned that the path was quite rocky, and the rocks were in fact “stones” which were large enough to be called "boulders." Not heeding that warning, an older man with a cane was in our group, along with two boys (age about 8 to 9), and a very patient guide. The older man had quite a difficult time, and other group participants helped navigate him along the trail. Meanwhile, ahead, the two boys darted and raced, going off of the path, and yelling at anything that they deemed living. My list then started – be sure to get in another zodiac other than one with these boys. LOL!
I was concerned about the temperature of the water during that time period, as I had read that the water is colder during that time, along with being choppy. Because I am a wimp, and I wanted to enjoy my time in the water, I bought full length 7mm wet suits. I am so glad that I did. My daughter and I both stayed warm and comfy, never needing to leave the water because we were cold. I did notice that some people did leave the water early due to being very cold.
I suffer from seasickness, and I was greatly concerned that my trip might be spoiled. I bought every remedy known to mankind to take with me, and I needed not one thing! We chose a cabin in the center of the ship, as low as possible. I slept like a baby every night. Our cabin was a small suite. We had a cute little living room, and then the bedroom had two small, comfortable beds. We had portholes in each room instead of windows. Not a problem for us because we were only in our rooms to change in between activities and to go to bed.
The satellite internet access is very slow. Most of the time, it did not work. However, I was so into the trip, I did not really care after I successfully completed the twelve step program – withdrawal from the internet.
Limitation on the weight of your bags – don’t worry about going five pounds over – everyone’s luggage is lumped in together, and they do not individually weigh everyone’s bag.
I was somewhat surprised that there were about twenty children on the trip – some of them very well-behaved, and others surprisingly rude. There were four children whose parents had no control over them. The children would not stay on the marked walking trails; they would run up and scream at the marine life, kick at the blue footed boobies; they ignored the guides’ requests; they damaged vegetation. And their parents were oblivious to this. There were two parents, a mother and father, who were just like their children, but worse. They would not remain with the group while snorkeling, and our guide continually had to search for the parents and the children, while the rest of the snorkeling group had to stay put in one place while the search went on for the self-absorbed parents & their children.
Food: breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, and I loved the breakfast and lunch selections. You had three or four choices for entrees at dinner at night. You would just tell the waiter what you wanted from the selection – there would always be fresh seafood section, chicken, pork, etc. My favorite meals were breakfast and lunch. They were fantastic. The waiters were attentive. Service was great.
We had orientations everyday where our expedition leader, Paula Tagle, would give an overview of what would be happening the next day. Paula Tagle is one of the best public speakers that I have ever heard. My favorite guide was Walter Perez. Every guide there was very good. They are all so knowledgeable, kind, quick to assist, and patient. You can tell each guide is committed to the future of Galapagos, and each guide loves what they
are doing. Yes, they have to put up with the cross traveler, the out of control kids, the demanding tourist, and they do it in a way that is professional.
And there is an onboard ship doctor. My daughter had an allergic reaction to some kind of bite that she had while we were on the beach – I think it was simply a sand flea or something like that. She is very susceptible to mosquito bites or any kind of bites, and she had a very nasty reaction to these bites. At dinner, she excused herself to go back to the room, saying she wasn’t feeling well, and her face was starting to swell up a bit. When I went to the room, her face was more swollen. We went to see the ship doctor, and she gave her some pills. A bit later, my daughter began having trouble breathing as her throat was swelling shut. The doctor then gave her a syringe of “something” to immediately counteract what was happening to her. The shot was quite painful, and the needle looked like a needle that we might have used on the farm to give a cow a shot. However, it did work. But I did not completely trust the doctor at that point – after that, I found one of our fellow passengers who was a pediatrician, and he checked Cassie out, and he talked with the ship doctor to find out what she had given Cassie. The pediatrician reassured me that everything was o.k., but that it was indeed quite a large syringe and needle, and that the ship doctor just wanted to make sure to give Cassie a dose that would take care of her swelling throat. The fellow passenger doctor – he was traveling with his best friend. These two guys have been friends for a long time – college buddies – and they each brought their families. Talk about a great group of people. Their children were well behaved, interested in everything going on, and they had a wonderful time. And there was no shortage of doctors on board either – a lot of doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, Silicon Valley engineers – a very diverse group - and for the most part, a very down to earth group of people.
The weather during that time period was perfect. It was comfortable hiking – perfect temperature for me – not too hot or too cold. Whatever you expect to see in the Galapagos, prepare to see that and 150% more. It is one of the most stunningly beautiful places that I have ever seen. The water is incredible. The sea life is beyond compare. You are swimming with sea
lions. You are looking at steep cliffs of coral, fish, sea turtles and so much more. We were in our zodiacs beside a humpback mother whale and her calf.
How much did I like this trip? I want to go back – I’m trying to talk my husband (the golfer) into going on the same exact tour in 2010 – same dates, same cabin!
If I can answer any questions for anyone, please let me know. :)Edited: 03 January 2010, 13:49