We are a retired couple in our active 60’s and needed an expedition that combined moderate activity level in a new to us part of the world with better than average comfort care. This was that trip. One week in the Galapagos Islands.
Endeavour II carries 96 passengers and a crew of more than 60 including Galapagos naturalists. Staff is very organized with constant communication on board via daily sheets and announcements.
The ship has three levels with zodiac landing, restaurant, cabins, group lounge, small library, shop, photo sharing workspace. No elevators.
There is also an open air top deck with lounging chairs and bar area for special events (like equator crossing) and sunset viewing parties.
Rooms are small but efficient. There is plenty of storage space for swimwear and active clothing and a small desk area. We were in their “basic” level which was very comfortable with a large picture window. The en suite bath has a sufficient shower with lots of hot water and a clothesline cord.
All meals are included. Wine and beer flow easily at lunch and dinner. Local foods are served daily with fun explanations of what we’re eating. A different cultural food is featured each day. Plenty of fresh food including salads, vegetables, meats and desserts. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Dinner is table service in group settings.
Entertainment is basic in consideration of the size of the ship and staff. Every evening includes cocktail hour in the lounge with appetizers like fish skewers and chips and guacamole. This includes a recap and pics of the day’s activities and a preview of the next day’s plans. After dinner entertainment includes local performers or a nature film. There is lots of interaction with other passengers and staff.
Children are welcome and the crew have a special activity just for them each day.
Lindblad Expeditions addresses every detail. The pre trip packet has a very explanatory itinerary, personnel bios, and a very good packing list of recommended special gear. Our only recommendation is to add shirts etc with sun protection in addition to sunscreen lotion. After all, this is right on the equator. The crew covers their hands and faces.
There are usually three activities per day. 1) One to two mile hikes. 2) Water activities include ocean swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and 3) zodiac and glass bottom boat tours.
All entrance and exit from the ship is via zodiac – even to and from the airport. All drivers and guides are very safety and care conscious. But one must feel confident getting in and out of the zodiac and riding over ocean waves motorboat style. Special zodiac lifejackets become second nature. Shore landings might be dry on sand or wading thru low tide. They must be hands free for assistance sake so cameras and gear are best on neck straps.
Hiking excursions are across volcanic rock which is sometimes slippery. So hiking shoes for uneven terrain are absolutely necessary. Trekking poles are helpful. Treks are less than two miles at a low to moderate climb rate.
Water activities include shore swimming. Snorkeling is deep water style straight off the zodiac. The staff takes great care helping passengers choose the best shortie wet suits, masks, snorkels and vests. Snorkeling experience is recommended but not required.
Zodiac tours move slowly with unbelievable photo ops at the water level and close to shore for animal and bird viewing.
Galapagos National Park maintains a very strict itinerary for visitors. Naturalist guides are extremely knowledgeable and helpful with photo shots, zodiacs and hiking. They know history, geology, geography and animal habitat notes free on a professor level.
Wildlife spotting is beyond words. All are easy to spot, unafraid of us and easy to photo. We saw sand crabs, marine iguanas, pelicans, egrets, herons, sea turtles, sea lions, Galapagos penguins, blue footed boobies, cormorants, land tortoises, land iguanas, cattle, red footed boobies and many varieties of Darwin finches.
Trip includes a couple of village visits including a tortoise research station and town walk.
The trip is expensive but there are minimal additional costs once on board – laundry, crew tips, and cocktails (wine/beer at meals is covered).