We have just returned from a fabulous 29 day trip to South America which included a marvellous 4 night/5 day cruise in the Galapagos Islands on the "Galapagos Legend". We visited Santa Cruz Island, Santiago, Rabida, Fernandina and Isabela. We chose a larger boat because we get seasick and also because we thought it would be good to meet some new people. This was a great decision as it did get a little rocky on two occasions. There were only 32 people on board instead of a possible 100, as it is not heavily booked at this time of the year. We met people from England, Australia, Europe, USA and Sweden who were English speakers and really enjoyed talking to them. There were families, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, friends travelling together and couples (young and middle aged) on board.
Our junior suite had two single beds, a divan where we put our suitcases, a wardrobe, two bedside tables and an adequate sized bathroom/toilet with a hairdryer. Liquid soap and shampoo/conditioner were provided as they are biodegradable and will not damage the delicate eco-system of the Galapagos. Snorkelling gear was stored under the bed in a special plastic tub. Towels were changed several times a day. All laundry was done free of charge and there was a very handy little shop on board with a good range of quality products. You had to pay extra for internet access on the ship's computer and our mobile phones from Australia did not work.
Because of the smaller number of people, only two boats with a maximum of 16 people in each, went ashore each day. National Parks restricts the movements of all visitors in the Galapagos and you have to keep to the paths in order not to tread on iguana or turtle nests at this time of the year. There is so much of interest to see, learn about, watch and photograph that this is not a problem at all. We saw an incredible amount of wildlife and swam with turtles, sharks and sea lions when deep sea snorkelling. My favourite animals are the land and marine iguanas which are just so amazing.
I found a pair of walking shoes with good soles quite adequate for all shore excursions. If we had a wet landing I just paddled ashore, dried my feet on the provided towel and put on my shoes and socks. I also had a pair of thongs for walking on the sand when we went swimming. You need a hat, sunburn cream, two pairs of swimmers and sunglasses. I had a waterproof bag for my camera but most people didn't. I covered up with long sleeves and long pants but most people wore shorts and T-shirts for the walks. Some got very burnt. Insects were not an issue in early April.
The daily program consisted of three activities each day. In the mornings we landed on an island and had a walk to see the animals who were mostly warming up in the sun so we got a great view of them. This was followed by swimming or snorkelling at a nearby beach. In the afternoons an optional deep sea snorkelling experience was offered. This was followed by a dinghy ride along the coast to view wildlife and a walk on a different island. You could participate in whatever you wanted. The sea temperature was very pleasant for both shallow and deep water snorkelling and all equipment was provided included snorkelling vests for those lacking confidence in deep water.
Our larger boat was able to cover more territory than the smaller boats so we saw more islands and visited several sites on each island.
I loved the experience on board this ship. It was big enough to get away on your own and read a book in a hammock, sit on deck and look for dolphins, seals and sunfish, have a swim in the pool or a dip in the spa if you wanted or meet up with others and have a drink at one of the two bars. You could also sit in the very comfortable lounge and watch nature documentaries or read a book/play cards/etc. Free tea, coffee and biscuits were available at all times. The food was excellent and there was entertainment of some sort each day eg. star gazing, barbecue and dance on deck, lectures on the geology of the Galapagos and what we were doing the next day, a play to celebrate crossing the equator 4 times, farewell cocktail, and even an ice cream party one afternoon. Every time we got back on board we were welcomed by the crew with a drink and tasty morsel.
The two naturalists were excellent, especially Harvey who came with our group (the Boobies) every day. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the islands and their inhabitants and a great desire to preserve them for future generations. I cannot speak highly enough of this young man who would make a wonderful teacher. He had the knack of getting on with everyone in his group, especially the younger ones, and could answer any question thrown at him.
I have read very few reviews of a cruise on the "Galapagos Legend" and wanted to write about my experience. Transfers to and from the mainland were seamless and we were looked after every step of the way. There was always someone keeping an eye on you when you were snorkelling and if you raised your arm, the dinghy raced over and picked you up. Crew members assisted us into and out of the dingy so we were never in danger of slipping into the water or hurting ourselves.
I have no hesitation in recommending the "Galapagoa Legend" for a great Galapagos experience and will travel on it again when I go back to visit different islands. It was very reasonably priced compared with many of the other boats and was superb. Give it a try!