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taxare

Silver Galapagos mini report

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Hello, we recently returned from a week on the Silver Galapagos and wanted to share our views and 

answer any questions if we can. We went the second week of April. It was the north central itinerary.

The weather was perfect (a bit warm) the entire week with virtually no rain. The seas were calm except for 

a few hours. To put things in perspective we regularly sail on Regent and we tempered our expectations for

this cruise knowing that this is an expedition ship, is a bit worn and will be replaced sometime next year.

We found the service on all fronts to be excellent. From the front desk ladies, the officers, the cabin butler and assistant,

the restaurant staff and manager and the naturalists are what made this adventure a terrific experience.

I know that Silver Seas has this reputation, but we were amazed at how staff knew our names before we introduced

ourselves and indeed seemed to anticipate our every need. From our perspective the cabin and bathroom was small

and a bit worn. The balcony was a good size and we did use it on occasion. If you go on an activity twice a day you will

be tired (we were exhausted as we were in Lima and Cuzco the previous week) at the end of the week. There are short walks, long walks,

beach time, beach snorkeling, deep water snorkeling. They start early and there are always afternoon excursions. We attended

each lecture (generally two a day put on by a naturalist) and we thought they were all excellent. Most were born in the Galapagos, Quito or Guayaquil

and knew the islands extremely well. As most of you know the food is primarily sourced from Ecuador. Considering the limitations

the chef did an outstanding job. In our opinion the fish was excellent the meats were fair to good.

Breakfast was either in the restaurant, a small continental in the piano bar or room service.

Most mornings started very early. For lunch you could eat at the restaurant or The Grill on the top deck. The Grill is where they have the

Rocks to cook your own food in the evening. It is a small venue so reservations are a must. It wasn't our favorite but some passengers

absolutely loved it and tried to go every night. Do we think the new ship will be nicer, bigger and more comfortable? Absolutely!

Are we sorry we went now? Not at all, we were so busy, the lesser accommodations were just not a factor to us.

 

To add a little more specificity, you take a zodiac from the shore to board. We arrived in Baltra and left from San Cristobal.

After we arrived on board we waited in the lounge for our cabin to be ready. We then went to our cabin, met our butler and then went to lunch.

In your cabin there is a backpack and water bottles that are yours to keep if you wish. We then went back to the lounge with our life jackets

to do a muster drill, get an overview and then lined up to get our snorkel gear. Everyone gets a bag with their cabin number and you get fitted

for a shortie wet suit, masks and snorkel tube and flippers. If needed you can get a snorkel life vest.

I'm not sure why but they did not allow guests that brought full face masks to use them. 

Suffice it to say we saw tons of wildlife interesting landscapes, etc, They designate the activities from easy to challenging and they

were generally accurate. Before dinner each evening there is a destination briefing regarding the excursions and the timing the next day.

They tell you which will be wet or dry landings Certain excursions required sign ups, but I believe the only activity that was truly limited

number of persons was the kayaking.

At the end of the cruise you get a very nice memento, a dvd video including underwater camera shots and a cd

with still pictures. 

If I can I would be pleased to answer any questions, but overall this was an excellent adventure and we would highly recommend Silver Seas.

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Thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful review, taxare. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, and your description helps me move the Galapagos higher on my list.

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Thanks taxare for sharing your point-of-view with us on the Silver Galapagos.  It's a destination that's never been high on our list, but with the new Origin coming on line in the future, we may just have to move this up on our list, like Unibok above, especially during the height of winter when we're seeking warm weather.

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Taxare,your observations are identical to ours.  We loved the Galapagos on Silversea and are planning to go again once the new ship is out. 

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Thanks for this.  I'll be on her in February next year and I'm sooo looking forward to it.  Stupid question, but as I'm getting older and creakier, how easy is it to get in and out of the Zodiacs?

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Besberry, I found the zodiacs to be much sturdier than I anticipated. They have three people help you get in and out. There was one excursion where the sea was quite choppy and the zodiac was bobbing up and down quite a bit. They helped you "time" your entrance and exit. I don't think "older and creakier" will be a factor. If it is too dangerous due to very choppy seas they would cancel the excursion.

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We were on Silver Galapagos last November. San Cristobal to Baltra. Our experience matched taxare and RachelG. We really enjoyed the cruise. The expedition team was outstanding. Everything was very well organized. No complaints about food or service. The ship was old but well-maintained and didn't detract from the amazing wildlife experience.

 

But flights were difficult. We live in San Francisco and went via Miami. We got into Quito very late, past midnight. On the way back we stayed at the airport hotel in Quito to get an early morning flight the next day. The only other choice was a red-eye. Silversea did not offer business class flights. Apparently their deal with Ecuador doesn't allow this, so we made our own arrangements to/from Quito. I would love to go back and take the other itinerary but don't want to spend 3 days (1 going, 2 returning) for a 7-night cruise.

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I don’t think that is correct. I most certainly travelled business class on a Silversea booked flight to Quito. However, the trip from Quito (or Guayaquil) to the Galapagos does not include the option of business class, for the simple reason that the entire flights are eeconomy class only. That is true whether you fly LAN or one of the low cost providers (a small number of the guests on our trip were on these - I think they were mainly relatively late boomers, and I assume that the LAN flights were by than full.

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Yes I know the flights between Quito and the Galapagos are all economy. They are short flights, not an issue.  But I was told that Silversea couldn't offer any business class flights originating/departing from Ecuador. Maybe my travel agent was given the wrong information?

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17 hours ago, alithecat said:

Yes I know the flights between Quito and the Galapagos are all economy. They are short flights, not an issue.  But I was told that Silversea couldn't offer any business class flights originating/departing from Ecuador. Maybe my travel agent was given the wrong information?

When I spoke to my consultant about upgrading, she never said it was a problem  The price she quoted seemd a tad high and I've found it for a lower price.  I'll be calling her up again soon and if she's still quoting a high price, I'll book it independently and get my economy airfare back from SS.

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22 hours ago, taxare said:

Besberry, I found the zodiacs to be much sturdier than I anticipated. They have three people help you get in and out. There was one excursion where the sea was quite choppy and the zodiac was bobbing up and down quite a bit. They helped you "time" your entrance and exit. I don't think "older and creakier" will be a factor. If it is too dangerous due to very choppy seas they would cancel the excursion.

 

Super appreciate this great summary, all of the comments and the insightful follow-ups.  Very helpful and interesting.  The Galapagos are high, HIGH on our list for future exploring.  BUT, not sure when.  Debating for early 2020 to escape the Midwest winter cold as to whether to do the Galapagos or a first-time South Pacific explore from Auckland to Fiji, French Polynesia, etc.   

 

With fancy, new ships going to the Galapagos from Silversea and Celebrity, that might be good.  Or, just an excuse for much higher prices?   Or, more competition making pricing better?  Overall, very exciting about going there before my body and legs get too slow and pained.  

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

For latest live/blog, see “Holy Lands, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Dubai, Greece, etc.”, with many visuals, details and ideas for the historic and scenic Middle East.  Connect at:

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2607054-livenautica-greece-holy-lands-egypt-dubai-terrypix’s/

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21 hours ago, alithecat said:

Yes I know the flights between Quito and the Galapagos are all economy. They are short flights, not an issue.  But I was told that Silversea couldn't offer any business class flights originating/departing from Ecuador. Maybe my travel agent was given the wrong information?

We did our own air to Quito and back from Guayaquil in business class.  We got a small credit from Silversea for this.  And I am pretty sure that an up sell to business class was available for those doing Silversea air.  We just did our own because I had the miles.

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We always do our own air so no clue about SS specifics. But does any US airline fly an actual business class to Quito? DL's setup is basically domestic F. Not bad as it's only 5h from ATL but it's not an actual business class. Upside is that it's comparatively cheap.

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We flew American from Miami. They called it business class but it was an old plane and their business class was like economy plus on a better airplane.

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Hi taxare and thank you for the review and information.

We are on the Sep 07-14th voyage A, as want to see Espanola and Gardner bay.

This is our first Expedition type cruise and so looking forward to it. 

Now for the Questions?

How early is an early start? Did you go kayaking or snorkelling? If so how was it? 

I will be taking an Apeman 80 for underwater video, the DVD had how much video and was it seals or coral and fish?

What camera equipment did you use, any photos to share?

The meals with lots of seafood are making me hungry already.

Our flight will be from Vancouver so anticipate a very long day before arrival in Quito.

Prior South America cruise to Antarctica had similar long days of travel.

Silver Sea is all inclusive with air and so glad we booked this small expedition cruise.

 

 

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American business class to Quito is like domestic first.  But still way better than coach.  

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21 hours ago, gui218 said:

Hi taxare and thank you for the review and information.

We are on the Sep 07-14th voyage A, as want to see Espanola and Gardner bay.

This is our first Expedition type cruise and so looking forward to it. 

Now for the Questions?

How early is an early start? Did you go kayaking or snorkelling? If so how was it? 

I will be taking an Apeman 80 for underwater video, the DVD had how much video and was it seals or coral and fish?

What camera equipment did you use, any photos to share?

The meals with lots of seafood are making me hungry already.

Our flight will be from Vancouver so anticipate a very long day before arrival in Quito.

Prior South America cruise to Antarctica had similar long days of travel.

Silver Sea is all inclusive with air and so glad we booked this small expedition cruise.

 

 

Most mornings excursions started at 7am. You are assigned to different groups and there were also different excursions. Almost all are out by 7:30. The afternoon excursions started around 3pm or a little later. We did not go kayaking. The people that went enjoyed it. There are a limited number of kayaks so you must sign up for them the night before after the destination briefing. They had easy kayaking and more difficult options and there was two days of kayaking. We did beach snorkeling and deep water snorkeling (they hang a ladder from the zodiac). Obviously there is a lot more marine life in the deep water. There were all kinds of different fish (my wife saw an 8-10 foot Galapagos shark), rays, sharks, sea lions, etc. I did not have an underwater camera but some did. The video is around 30 minutes and includes both the land excursions and snorkeling. We also got a separate DVD with around 150 still shots. Only you can decide whether you want to take a lot of underwater pictures or just enjoy the moment. I have a Lumix digital with a good zoom, but use it primarily as a point and shoot. For your land camera make sure and have a good waterproof bag for the backpack as you may get wet on the zodiacs. We also saw an Orca whale on one of our excursions (very unusual) and my wife and I were the only ones to get a picture of it from the zodiac! My wife has my SD card currently so sorry I can't post pictures at this point. I hope this is helpful.

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Thank you for the answers to my questions, this is very helpful

The beach and off the zodiac snorkelling with abundant marine life, should provide a number of firsts for photo and video shots. I do have a good waterproof bag for my Lumix digital. This advice is appreciated for kayak and zodiac water splashes.

We are anticipating very full activity and information days with Silver Sea Galapagos.

Time to rest up when we return home, as retired. 

Thanks Again 

 

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On 4/18/2019 at 6:54 PM, RachelG said:

Taxare,your observations are identical to ours.  We loved the Galapagos on Silversea and are planning to go again once the new ship is out. 

Add me to those that agree with Taxare. This is exactly how we felt as well and thoroughly enjoyed  our cruise (exact same itinerary as Taxare). Thanks for taking the time to write such a good review.

 

See you soon on the Cloud Rachel. 

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Question: If you cancel the SS flights and sort out your own to Quito .... would this cancellation include the Quito to Galapagos Flights or is that a separate entity?

I ask because I was looking at a cruise which had an offer for BC flights for £1800 pp per leg ... and I could book my own independent flights for £2400pp in total ... one large saving especially if you can get a wee bit back by ‘opting out’? 

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2 hours ago, MBP&O2/O said:

Question: If you cancel the SS flights and sort out your own to Quito .... would this cancellation include the Quito to Galapagos Flights or is that a separate entity?

No, the cancellation doesn't impact the flight to the Galapagos as it's a part of your cruise fare.

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We did our own flight to Quito.  And had the Silversea flights to Galapagos 

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Great tips! I am booked for November so love your review; how much snorkeling and swimming are included in the excursions? For example, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, per half day or more?  I am planning to start lap swimming this week to build up my swimming endurance.  Is being a strong swimmer recommended or can you be a medium swimmer (LOL).

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From memory, I think there were 4 snorkelling trips. On the first, they separated out those who were less strong swimmers, or inexperienced snorkel lees, and provided a lot of guidance and support. The next opportunity was quite lengthy, but within a large cove, so the distances were not great. Another swim was quite long, but we were dropped at a point where the current was strong, and it took us most of the way with limited effort. And the experience each time was great -especially the sea lions and turtles. I would say that they were 30-45 minutes. But you could signal to be picked up at any point.  Some people were happy with 15 minutes or so, and then sat in the patrolling zodiacs.

 

I used to be a strong swimmer, but am out of practice. I found it relatively easy. Also the shortie wetsuits provide lots of buoyancy. It is a good idea to wear rash vests for the additional layer of warmth. Several people had swim leggings as well, which were envied by the rest of us.

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