When I saw that Celebrity cruises planned to sail there, I thought it was time to plan a trip. I have many travel ideas, but when I announced to my husband that I thought we should do this particular trip, he didnt ask any questions. He just said sign me up. We opted for a 10-day package, including two nights in Quito at the J. W. Marriott, round-trip flight to the Galapagos, a week on the Celebrity Xpedition, and one night back in Quito before heading home.
The J.W. Marriott in Quito was lovely. We had a few meals included, as well as a tour of the city. The high altitude gave me a bit of a headache, but after a few hours I was fine. I especially enjoyed a stop at the equator. There is a museum (really a tourist attraction), celebrating the different South American native cultures, and a few shops. We took the requisite photo, straddling the equator line, with one foot in each hemisphere.
The next day we were off to the Galapagos, where the fun really began! Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, tortoises this is what its all about, a chance to get up close to so many animals. Every day the boat made two different stops, sometimes on the same island, sometimes on different islands. There was a choice of three excursions at each stop, of varying intensities. We always opted for high intensity, although this became a bit of a joke as it was not very strenuous. Up to eight people went out in a dingy with a naturalist, so you were never with a large crowd. With a few exceptions, you must go onto the islands with a naturalist, and stay on a marked path.
One of the highlights of the trip is a visit to the Charles Darwin research station, dedicated to successful conservation of the Galapagos eco-system. http://www.darwinfoundation.org/
There we saw Lonesome George, a famous tortoise, who is the last of his breed. http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/george.html
And of course, seeing so many sea lions up close will always be special memory.
Its one of those trips that is difficult to describe you just have to experience it for yourself. There is a selection of boats from which to choose. The largest ships are about 100 passengers, with some being much smaller. The 10-day trip seemed to be the right length. In my opinion, you would want to spend a week on one of the boats, since every island is unique.