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Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

New York City
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Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

My parents and I are looking to take an all-inclusive tour to the Galapagos Islands in August 2011. They want an all inclusive package (airfare, hotels, tours, excursions, etc.) with a day or two on the Ecuadorian mainland and then the rest of the trip around the islands. Would anyone have any suggestions around which companies are best to travel with/have the best deals or know of anything to be avoided. Thanks!

Texas
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1. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

A good choice for an all inclusive trip would be Elderhostel if one of them is over 50 years old. I have traveled with them on several occasions.

When I went to China with them, a woman in our group broke her leg. Elderhostel provided someone to fly home with her at no charge to her. I don't know if this is still their standard of care but at that time they provided trip insurance for a small fee and the assistance home was part of their package.

You can go to their website by Googling. The have changed their name, but Elderhostel is the name that they are known by.

The participants in Elderhostel are most often engineers, educators, and people with graduate degrees. The "group" is usually very interesting and informative.

Edited: 8:56 pm, November 27, 2010
Oceanside...
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2. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Our trip to the Galápagos Islands in Sept., 2009 was through Elderhostel (whose travel programs are now called Road Scholar). Age requirements were dropped in 2004 or 2005, although their programs are targeted to baby boomers (their claim, not mine). Children generally are only included on specifically designed "intergenerational programs." My husband (60) and I (59) were the youngsters of our group; but the literature is clear that one needs to be physically active for this trip--and everyone was.

Everything on our trip was extremely well organized and pulled off without a flaw--2 days in Quito, 8-day cruise in the archipelago, 1 night in Guayaquil. All meals, airfare, transfers were included in the cost, as were appropriate tips everywhere--even for the crew on the boat, so we only tipped for extraordinary service. (Tipping on cruises can be a touchy subject, which this program handled really well.) Travel assistance such as LLTT describes is still included in the price of a program--emergency medical evacuation, medical escort, baggage problems. Trip-cancellation -type insurance is extra (and generally reasonably priced through them), but not the medical evacuation coverage.

The travel arrangements were handled through a US company (Holbrook Travel) that partners with local companies in Quito, Guayaquil, and the Galápagos. When we traveled with them, most of their Galápagos trips were in conjunction with Rolf Wittmer Turismo, which owns the Tip Top Fleet. I've seen that recently they've used other boats, but the Tip Top Fleet still seems to be the most frequently used.

Despite the removal of the age restriction, I believe that their programs still are likely to attract older adults; given their reputation in senior education, most participants are probably especially interested in the educational aspects of the trip. Our group was a fascinating mix of lawyers, public school educators, marine biologist, paleontologist, retired military, and CPAs. One drawback might be that a Road Scholar group is less likely to be international, drawing instead primarily from the US. That bit of diversity can be interesting but is likely to be missing on an Road Scholar trip.

Our trip was so well organized and met our needs and expectations so well that we're going with them on a birding trip to Costa Rica in Feb.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Edited: 9:36 pm, November 27, 2010
Pensacola, Florida
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3. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Many options based on budget..several I like

www.gotmyfare.com best value packages on the Legend from

$2K including air all in usually the cheapest best way to go for package.

For more $ www.priceline.com runs great deals on the Xpedition

a big upscale Celbrity Ship....best upscale value for me

Linblad is the VERY best prices from $5K or so www.cruisecritic.com

Actaully I prefer to deal DIRECT with local ecuadorians of quality 2 I like

www.galapagosXpeditions.com www.surtrek.com

cut the middlemen out for best deals/service they know the most.

Careful many for profit middlemenexpat agents and their friends post here

some even as "experts" so Caveat emptor!

www.insuremytrip.com cheap and wise..

PM if I may help further..Happy Hunting,

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Dear Rainbow,

if you're willing to take care of the airfare from NYC to Ecuador, you'll have plenty more options from which to choose. There are many good agents who specialize in Galapagos, but won't get into booking international airfares. I suggest ensuring that any agent you choose has a good knowledge of Galapagos.

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

Quito
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5. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Dear Raibow,

There are some travel agencies that offer a full package to Ecuador, including transfers, hoteles, some meals, tours and the cruise to the islands.

Make sure you choose a good travel operator in Ecuador or book directly with a travel agency in the US, sometimes they can help a little more. I know a good travel service from Mena Tours in Chicago if that helps.

Fernanda

Quito, Ecuador
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6. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

HI Rainbow,

What a great way to spend some time with your parents. Mine have been out here to the Galapagos and have had fantastic experiences!

Most Ecuadorian companies will arrange everything you need from the time you land in the mainland of Ecuador until the moment you leave...but often not the international flights. Your best bet would be to figure out which style/size of ship your parents (and you!) would be most comfortable cruising in, as well as which animals/islands are of most importance to you.

You "get what you pay for" in Galapagos, where cost generally correlates to service and standard.

Have a wonderful time.

San Diego, CA
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7. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

My wife and I just returned from a 10-day trip to the Galapagos, which included a full day in Quito. We booked it through Geographic Expeditions of San Francisco, who, in turn, contracted with a South American touring company with the pedestrian name Metropolitan Touring. In a word, they were fantastic! Supremely well organized, very knowledgeable guides and naturalists on board a highly impressive 48-person ship called La Pinta. We spent 7 days on La Pinta - a first for us, as we had never been on a cruise ship or overnight tour boat.

We are both well-educated professionals, well-traveled and, generally, averse to any organized tours. We almost always travel independently, establishing our own schedule and agenda.

But when you are in the Galapagos, you cannot travel to the islands without a naturalist guide and virtually everyone must go with some sort of tour guides to learn about the islands, geography, history, unique species that have adapted, etc.

I compared initially compared La Pinta with the tour boats offered (for more $) by Linblad and National Geographic (who seem to have merged for such trips). Their least expensive ships were 100+ passenger ones and had 3 or 4 grades of rooms - from tiny inside/no window ones to larger ones with windows or balconies. La Pinta had 24 cabins, all of which were the same - spacious, plenty of closet space with decent-sized bathroom and shower, nicely arranged and fitted. La Pinta was just built in 2008 and is beautifully fitted and laid out. The staff was incredibly helpful no matter what the issue (my wife is allergic to gluten and most dairy dairy products, so they cooked al of her food separately and let her know which of the buffet food at lunch she could eat). The dining service was superb, the food wonderful and the naturalists extremely knowledgeable. Every employee we met was pleasant, helpful, polite and very competent. They made everything incredibly easy and, without being pushy or rigid, managed to fit everything in and help us see and understand every open island. They also ferried us to and from airports, gave us a full-day tour of Quito and took care of our luggage. We'd recommend them to all of our family and friends with no qualms.

Edited: 7:49 pm, November 29, 2010
Kiawah Island...
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8. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Check w/Heather from CNH Tours, she can help you w/everything except the international flights and she can get you on some wonderful boats at very good prices. She can help you w/hotels in Quito and in the Galapagos if you want to stay a few extra days at either end of your cruise.

Heather also planned an overnight for us to Otavalo, where we stayed in a very nice hacienda for the night, after having spent the day at the market (don't miss this one).

As far as I know, there are no "all inclusives" as you are referencing in the Galapagos. The closest would be maybe either a GAP or OAT tour, which I believe includes air from Miami...make note, their trips may not include a full week in their tour which is really the best way to go to get your money's worth. Also, their boats generally arrive on the islands a little later in the day than some, we were always leaving islands when we saw them arriving (you want early arrivals to see the wildlife at it's most active, early in the day or later in the afternoon, good for photography, as well).

Talk to Heather and consider the Samba (14 passengers/6 crew), a very nice "tourist superior" boat.

Edited: 8:14 pm, November 29, 2010
Long Island, New...
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9. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Club ABC has a pretty good all-inclusive 12 day Galapagos tour for about $4,300 on the 100 passenger M/V Legend cruise. I have never used Club ABC but friends who had highly recommended the company.

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Galapagos All Inclusive tour from NYC or US - suggestions?

Hi, I know I've posted a lot about the positive experience we had on our Natural Habitat Adventures trip, but if you are looking at Lindblad you should also consider Nathab. I've done trips with both, like them both. Lindblad is the travel provider for National Geographic and NatHab (www.nathab.com) is the travel provider for World Wildlife Fund. Both are all inclusive and have very professional staff's to help you from the booking stage all the way through the the end of your trip. We choose NatHab for the Galapagos, because it was a smaller ship. I first got introduced to Natural Habitat Adventures by reading Outside Magazine. Outside Magazine has consistently rated NatHab as the #1 place to work in America. So, they must be doing something right!

As for our trip, there were only 12 of us and the guide was very knowledgeable and personable. Food was very good too. Cabins very clean and comfortable.

I think they also have a Land Tour and a Kayaking Tour for the Galapagos Islands, so you can select which is best for your parents.

Let me know if you'd like more information.