Gabriela Aguilar at GalapagosIslands.com was excellent at helping arrange a last minute 4-day... read more
Gabriela Aguilar at GalapagosIslands.com was excellent at helping arrange a last minute 4-day... read more
Lorena Alulema was the person who booked the great tour for us. 6 days 5 nights hotel based out of... read more
The whole trip was planned by this tour company and was excellent throughout. we toured the city of Quito, the highlands, the Galapagos (on a cruise) and the rainforest. The cruise was on a small ship with 12 passengers. This was great because you can get on and off the boat quickly and get lots of help getting in and out of your wetsuit for snorkeling. We saw all the classic Galapagos animals, the ship's crew was very nice and helpful and the food was great. The tours in Quito were privately guided and were great and the trip to the indigenous market in Otavalo was a gem. We stayed at the Sacha Lodge in the rainforest for 3 nights and that was a perfect amount of time to see the Jungle.
This was a great trip with good value for the money as well.
Hi Maureen C
I would like to thank you for your comment. It is wonderful to know that you had such a fantastic trip in Ecuador and it's Galapagos Islands.
If you decide to return to Ecuador for you next vacation it will be our pleasure to assist you.
We booked our trip through Galapagos Travel Center with Elizabeth Clavijo as our agent. Everything was perfect! Elizabeth was great at providing information and suggestions. All went smoothly and we had a great time. Thank you Galapagos Travel Center.
Many thanks for your comment, we are glad you had a great experience in the Galapagos. Also, and on behalf of Elizabeth I would like to tell you that is was a pleasure assisting you with your vacation.
We based our 16-day trip in Ecuador around the timing of the boat trip (Infinity Luxury Yacht) we wanted to take around the Galapagos. In mainland Ecuador we stayed at Mashpi Lodge, Napo Wildlife Center, and the Quito JW Marriott in between for early morning pick-ups. Overall we had an excellent time at all places, but unfortunately the Infinity Luxury Yacht did not meet our expectations. I have not been on another ship in the Galapagos to compare it to, but I would imagine it has one of the more spacious interiors. The cabins were nice and had nice large balconies. The excursions were great and the staff were friendly and helpful. The food was alright. However, there were certain things you would just not expect on a “luxury yacht.” The hot tub was never full (water reached your knees…if 6 people fit in, the water was about to your waist). The hot tub jets were not completely submerged because of the lack of water, and sprayed out water all over the surrounding area. You could tell by the warping of the wood around the hot tub that this was a normal occurrence. The beers were lukewarm, some of our outlets in the cabin didn’t work, and the cabins on the main level in the front of the ship reeked of gas. We complained several times and the response was “you are in the front of the ship”…as in that was to be expected. It was nauseating.
I read a review about how much this ship rocked, and I almost didn’t believe someone had to tape their drawers to stop them from slamming shut. I believe it now. They have fixed the drawers slamming, however, believe me when I say this ship rocks. It’s a small ship…in the middle of the ocean…not a complaint, and this rocking should be expected. Additionally one should note that a 5-day cruise is actually a 3.5 day cruise. I did my research and knew this going into the trip, but many people didn’t know that we’d be departing Santa Cruz at 10pm on the first night, only to go to a very close area of the same island for the entire next day. Then the last day we departed Espanola at 3pm, and arrived at our final destination (San Cristobal) at 7pm. This actually changed from the original itinerary in which we should have departed Espanola late and arrived at San Cristobal at 5am the next day. They told us it was because “the captain wanted to show us dolphins”…..yet no one ever tried to point out dolphins on the way? I couldn’t help but feeling like we were being totally ripped off. I expected much more from the amount of money we paid for this ship, and would not recommend.
Working with galapagosislands.com was a nice experience leading up to the trip, and was perfectly organized until we hit a little snag. One of the reasons I chose to book everything through this company even though I had already done all of the research and had chosen the hotels I wanted to stay in was because they offered a complimentary night in Quito (JW Marriott) and a Quito city tour the day before the cruise. The day we came back from Napo Wildlife Center, we were supposed to do the city tour and stay in the JW Marriott. Note: we had already stayed in the JW Marriott twice before (the night we arrived in Ecuador and the night before we flew out to Napo).
Unforeseen circumstances were met when we arrived back at the airport during the Quito protests. We were unable to get into the city to stay at the Marriott, nor were we able to make it to the other hotel the company had arranged because the roads were blocked off by tire fires. We had to spend an entire day and night in the airport. I understand, this was completely unpredictable. However, when I spoke to our travel agent on the phone, she told me we would be refunded for the city tour and not the hotel because “don’t you remember, this was the complimentary night?” Yes, of course, but we spend thousands of dollars on the cruise which I’m sure we paid money for the hotel/breakfast/transportation in the mix.
When we arrived home, I emailed our agent to check on the status of the city tour refund and hopefully also the hotel night that we skipped. She said no, we cannot give you a refund for anything because they were complimentary. Again, I realize this was a crazy circumstance, but I am truly disappointed and expected more from this company.
Esteban was our travel agent and he was of great help. Took care of all the details along with the cruise line.
Great time visiting the Islands with a pretty packed schedule. Very happy with the time of the visit as we got to see most if not all the animals we could see.Every day offered a new excitement.
Many thanks for your comment, we are thrilled that you have had a great time in the Galapagos, and that Esteban was really helpful with your tour.
Now that my family has lost a few thousand dollars with this company, and I myself have lost countless hours trying to figure out a solution, I have to write this review. I rarely do travel reviews, and mostly only write restaurant reviews, but this has been one of the worst experiences in my life.
TL;DR -- If I could give negative stars, I would. BUYER BEWARE of the extreme policies. Don’t wire transfer. Get insurance. AND don’t get sick…
...read on if you have time: Here is the story of our awful experience:
My father’s life research is partially based on Darwin’s theory of evolution. We even had a family dog, a beagle named Darwin (get it? =)… Needless to say, this family trip was a lifetime dream. Considering the amazing reviews on here, we thought we had picked the best option with our limited time, and my parents wanted something land-based.
Unfortunately, our plans for the trip changed suddenly when my mother ended up in the hospital 25 days before our scheduled trip. We inquired about rescheduling (not cancelling), as she was already recovering but under doctor’s orders not to travel for a few months. United Airlines immediately honored the situation with a credit for the same flight path within a year…in contrast, this company held firm that they have a 60 day 100% cancellation fee, regardless of the circumstance.
Unfortunately we had paid for the trip by wire transfer and did not use a credit card, so could not get help to dispute this. While I would completely understand a hefty fee for a private tour scheduled just for us, it was high season, (Christmas time) and these flights/hotels/boats would go on with or without us on a general schedule; they would have easily been able to fill the spots…. Since I work in the travel industry, I checked with destination managers if this was normal for the region; most were shocked how strict the policy was, especially since we were looking to reschedule, not cancel. So I did my homework and reached out individually to each of the boats/hotels/airlines to find varying cancellation and “force majeure” policies that COULD have let us reschedule or partially refund, but this agency would not help in any way. They basically kept repeating “sorry, check the policy” and that there was nothing the could do. I was barely able to make headway without booking numbers, only dates and names. What was frustrating was that many times they could have done something, but by then it was too late.
While in communication with them, I continued to find contradicting information. The agency said they could not help, but later said they tried, only after I had done individual reach out attempts. One boat was actually able to sell our spots (only because I reached out); this company then gave us a deadline to re-book with them to use that credit, which only existed due to my efforts. At the time, we didn’t know when we were going, and so I left it at that..
To add insult to injury: at one point, the agency said they had found other travelers who could use our flights and could change the names on the tickets and pay a fee for this but basically keep the rest for a future date. However, by then I had already received an exoneration claim request approved from Avianca directly. When I told them I already had the claim for the tickets, this company confirmed we could use the flight tickets on our own. I then had to extend the re-book deadline again due to another scare w/ my mom…but when we decided on dates and I went to rebook before that deadline, I found out that THEY HAD EXCHANGED THE TICKETS and given them to other travelers!!
How is that ethical, since basically the agency would be making double the money; either they were re-usable, and they lied to us that nothing could be done, OR they were only able to re-use them due to my hard work with the exoneration with medical notes, 2x extended….. When confronted, they then made up a story about it being related to them trying to help us, but again it contradicts everything in the written conversation. We were not even notified, and it happened well before the re-book offer deadline.
This drama has been going on since Dec 2018. It has been a source of constant stress and wasted time. I have long threads of email evidence for all of it and am considering reaching out to the local travel advisory board. Trying to find out what happened to the flight took me 2 weeks of almost daily calls, each lasting at least one hour and I will never get that time back; Avianca also has that record if I do need it…..As mentioned, I work in the industry, in a large OTA, and will suggest blacklisting this agency from consideration as a partner when we expand into that region of the world..
My family is extremely fortunate that this was not a loss of a lifetime savings, and that we not placed into serious debt in addition to the healthcare costs. But others might not be so lucky. So I feel obligated to write this.
By the way, the company had the audacity to quote prices for the future trip, and kept saying they were helping us by extending a deadline to use credit for spots a boat re-sold out seats (again, only because I had reached out)....and continued to say they were helping us when we lost the flights due to their antics (which, without saying sorry, they finally refunded, such a mess)....as if we would give them more of our money at this point.
My mother has now fortunately recovered and we planned a different trip. We just got back, and it was amazing. We booked a whole package -- see my review here! https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g297533-d556730-r728435630-Galapagos_Habitat_by_Eco_Luxury_Group-Puerto_Ayora_Santa_Cruz_Galapagos_Islands.html
Many thanks for your comment. I would like to remark that we assisted you in every possible way despite our cancelation policies and restrictions that each operator has established with our company. For this reason, we were able to refund part of your payment in June 2019 as per your agreement. Please do understand that policies towards travel agencies work differently than they do towards direct passengers, thus it was not possible for us to obtain a total refund from suppliers when the cancelation was received days before your trip departure date(60 days or less/ mentioning that it was right on the highest season). This is usually a common factor in tourism including lodging, excursions, ant set activities totally different from airline policies which are more flexible
Lorena was our travel agent and she was fantastic. Everything went off without a hitch - from pick up to drop off. We had one hiccup with a restaurant that she seamlessly resolved for us. I was pleasantly surprised at how effortlessly she made this trip for us. If I’m lucky to make it back to the Galapagos again, I will use this company again in a heartbeat.