Wow – what a holiday. The Galapagos has been our bucket list holiday for the last 25 years, and with our 30th wedding anniversary being this year, we decided to go for it.
We chose Silver Galapagos – booking direct with Silversea, who were very helpful and obliging and offered to book flights and gave a discount for paying in full at the time of booking.
The flights went to plan and we were met at Quito airport for our transfer to the Quito Marriott. The transfers were slickly handled by Silversea representatives and we were given plenty of information to get us settled in the hotel. The first night we were tired so had a swim in the lovely pool, then dined in the hotel before heading to bed to recover from the long flight.
Next morning we had breakfast in the hotel – very nice – with hand-made smoothies and pancakes, although a bit disorganised. I never got a proper cup of tea in my days there – they just didn’t get it! Maybe catering for Americans they don’t understand tea.
We decided to go into the city ourselves, but had been warned about safety – so had no jewellery or valuables and took a hotel taxi into the historic district – $10. $3 on the way back with a yellow cab. The city was very interesting and there was a good police presence, so we had no problems. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, which is well deserved.
Silversea did a city tour in the evening, with was really good – and ended up with everyone’s favourite, chocolate tasting!
The next day was our pick up for the Galapagos – we flew via Guayaquil – half hour to there, then 40 minutes on the ground, then 1.5 hours to the Galapagos. First views coming in were lovely, and the airport was small but modern. Our bags were checked for imported seeds and nuts, and then we were passed through to meet our Silversea staff. A quick 3-4 minute bus trip to the pier and the holiday started.
First sights were a Marine Iguana swimming along, Sea Lions playing in the surf and a little Gecko welcoming us. After donning life jackets, we boarded our Zodiac to take us to the Silver Galapagos via a buoy totally covered in sunbathing Sea Lions. We were greeted on the ship with a glass of Champagne and taken into a lounge for a quick introductory talk and taken to reception to have our photos taken and get our suite keycards – which also acted as ID for getting on and off the ship.
The suite was great, 3 good sized windows, a big double bed, sofa, and plenty of storage – although one of the storage places was a drawer under the bed which was a bit odd – meaning you couldn’t hide your suitcases under there. Bathroom was well equipped with a good sized shower and local toiletries. The fridge was stocked and our room attendant asked what drinks we would like put in there for the rest of the week (all inclusive).
Lunch was served on the open deck, with a lovely salad buffet, always a chef’s special local dish, choices of pizza, different fish, prawns, burgers, fries, pasta. A great choice of food. All washed down with fantastic cocktails, or wines. The ship is all inclusive which stops any worries about big bar bills at the end of the week.
In the evenings, the restaurant did a good selection of food. The top open deck was a speciality restaurant with hot lava rocks where you could cook your own steak or fish. They provided wraps for chillier evenings.
Entertainment is a piano bar, with a very talented pianist, although it’s not a late night venue, most people seemed to be in bed by 10 p.m. That made up for the very early starts, breakfast at 6.30, tours quite often starting at 7.00 a.m. or 7.30.
The holiday was action packed, guided walks, snorkelling, kayaking, land tours to see the giant tortoises. There was a presentation each evening at 7 p.m. explaining the next day’s activities and the activity level. There were usually a couple of options depending on your fitness level, but of course you didn’t have to do anything you didn’t want to. You were back on the ship for lunch, a couple of hours rest, then back out for the next activity. This wasn’t a relaxing holiday – but there is so much to see. The animals are amazing; you can get so close to them. We got the most amazing photos. Snorkelling was fantastic; we even got to swim with sea lions.
The people on the cruise were mainly American, probably mainly in their 50’s and 60’s. You need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy this holiday as you are getting on and off the ship onto Zodiac boats, and some of the terrain is quite rough, but the walks are interspersed with lots of stops whilst the guides explain about what you are seeing. Dress is casual, practical clothes for walking, hats for the sun, waterproof shoes are helpful and trainers. A good camera is an essential item! Evening dress is smart casual (no jeans or shorts).
The guides are exceptional, so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subjects.
I have to say this is probably the best holiday we have ever had, and would totally recommend this Silversea cruise.