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1fineday

Need help, Planning for cruise of a lifetime, Galapagos

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I could use help / advice in planning a Galapagos cruise.

Questions: How much time, total, should we plan on for the complete trip (leaving from the midwest, USA)? Can someone give me a ballpark cost figure for the entire trip (not just the cruise cost- I know this will vary quite a bit, but a kinda middle of the road figure, or a low, med., high figure).

Any other info you'd like to share is welcome!!!!

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I could use help / advice in planning a Galapagos cruise.

Questions: How much time, total, should we plan on for the complete trip (leaving from the midwest, USA)? Can someone give me a ballpark cost figure for the entire trip (not just the cruise cost- I know this will vary quite a bit, but a kinda middle of the road figure, or a low, med., high figure).

Any other info you'd like to share is welcome!!!!

 

I suggest searching this forum, putting in the term "galapagos." There is a TON of good information here.

 

From what I saw, assume you'll spend about $5,000 per person. You can spend more or less.

 

There are three "best" operators, per information I received. Lindblad and Celebrity are the top two. Lindblad has more emphasis on shore, Celebrity a bit more on-ship emphasis. I went on Lindblad Polaris, have a bias towards it.

 

There are travel agents on the internet that specialize in small ship eco adventures. I cannot give out names, there is one that I used that has "expedition" as part of it's web address, but I do suggest you use an agent that is familiar with that part of the world. There are, I am told, some scam operators -or at least subpar- and you would not know without outside help.

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Amex just had a promotion recently... something about a "wish list"... One of the items on it was a Galapagos cruise with Lindblad for two people. It was a ten day itinerary in one of the mid-grade cabin categories. They said that the "retail" value of the cruise was nearly $13000 and the "wish list" promo price was just a little over $4000. It did not include airfare...which would not be cheap. I tried for that dang thing until my fingers bled, but they only had two of them and other people had quicker trigger fingers. I guess I'll have to save my pennies! There's a big difference between 4 and 13!

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Dec 2, 2007 we have a 10 day package 2 nights before and 1 night after at the Marriott in Quito, 7 day cruise, round trip airfare from Tampa, port taxes, travel insurance and all meals for $10,249. Thats for 2 people. Go to the Celebrity web site or call your TA for info.

 

Don

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We're off to the Galapagos with a Machu Picchu add on this September with Lindblad. The research for this one took a little more digging than your normal cruise, but I was able to get a lot of good information by googling ....

Seas the Day gave me good information....

As far as cost, I would say you'd be about even between Celebrity and Lindblad; it's a question of your priority and level of luxury needs. Before deciding, make sure you review the dates and discounts offered by both the cruise line and the travel agent (they have leeway on perks and discounts). I can tell you that the air fare for us on AA Miami/Guayaquil/Lima/Miami worked out to approximately $385.00 each doing it ourselves. Other costs to consider are travel insurance, ADDITIONAL tips if you feel they are warranted and, of course, souveniers.

 

Susana:

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We're off to the Galapagos with a Machu Picchu add on this September with Lindblad. The research for this one took a little more digging than your normal cruise, but I was able to get a lot of good information by googling ....

Seas the Day gave me good information....

As far as cost, I would say you'd be about even between Celebrity and Lindblad; it's a question of your priority and level of luxury needs. Before deciding, make sure you review the dates and discounts offered by both the cruise line and the travel agent (they have leeway on perks and discounts). I can tell you that the air fare for us on AA Miami/Guayaquil/Lima/Miami worked out to approximately $385.00 each doing it ourselves. Other costs to consider are travel insurance, ADDITIONAL tips if you feel they are warranted and, of course, souveniers.

 

Susana:

 

Thank you for the thank you! I assume my clue to knowledgeable travel agent was a good one... I did enjoy working with them, and you will receive a voucher for a video diary of your trip from the agent. I love(d) the video. I was amazed at the professional quality, and enjoyed showing it to willing (and unwilling) parties upon our return home.

 

Have fun!!! This was one of my two favorite trips ever... and I would say by this point I am a pretty seasoned traveler.

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And it WILL be the "trip of a lifetime" I'm sure.

 

(dare I hope we can do it for a decent price???):rolleyes:

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And it WILL be the "trip of a lifetime" I'm sure.

 

(dare I hope we can do it for a decent price???):rolleyes:

 

If you do it on your own, fly to Baltra, drive to Santa Cruz, hire locals to take you where they are allowed, you could do it inexpensively.

 

BUT, if you choose to go with a top boat, have access to more places, there aren't a lot of price breaks. Because there are limits to how many people are allowed in the park at any one time, during one year, they are able to charge what the market bears. They only need about 100,000 people to be willing to pay the price to visit the Galapagos in order to maintain their pricing. So far, there are enough willing people...

 

It's like the hotel in Machu Picchu grounds. The only hotel. I'm told the going rate is about $900 a night now. How can they justify the price? Because they're the only game in town, and there are enough people willing to pay the price to have Machu Picchu to themselves after, and before, the last trains leave the area.

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We went in April, 2006. It absolutely was the vacation of a lifetime. If you can afford it in any way, do it. I doubt if our price would have any bearing on today's.

 

We were sorry we didn't do the Machu Picchu part, but if you can afford to only do the Galapagos, so be it.

 

We did the Celebrity one, two nights in Quito, seven in the islands and then one more night in Quito. The Quito part was quite enjoyable, too.

 

Be aware this is, or at least can be, a very physical cruise. There were two older ladies on our voyage who didn't belong there. They both had asthma, suffered severely with it in Quito due to the elevation, and could barely get in and out of the Zodiacs. We started with the highest level of exertion but I came down with Norovirus :( , missed two days of the tours and then was too weak to do the more strenuous stuff.

 

We are planning to go back in 2008 or 2009 if we are physically able.

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I agree with the comment about physical ability.

 

My husband and I were able to do all the "strenuous" activities - the longer hikes, the snorkeling, etc. There were some other passengers who had difficulty getting in and out of the tenders, one elder woman broke her arm on a wet landing, and these people missed out. I guess what they were able to see was better than nothing, but my trip was superior (in my opinion.)

 

Do the Galapagos when you are able - in all senses.

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We are trying to decide between Lindblad and Celebrity. What are the differences between the two in regards to:

1. Does either reposition between islands at night? Does the engine noise keep you awake?

2. Is tipping included, or extra?

3. Are soft drinks included, or extra? How about milk?

4. Is one afternoon enough time to see Machu Picchu? If you are staying overnight in the Sanctuary Lodge, are you allowed to tour the Machu Picchu ruins on your own, or are they closed to the public?

5. Is it worth staying overnight at the Sanctuary Lodge, just to spend more time on your own at the Machu Picchu ruins?

 

Thanks, in advance

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Cactus Kid, we just got back from the Lindblad National Geographic Polaris with the Machu Picchu add on. I cannot speak to the Celebrity experience as we did not go this route. I have, however, always cruised with Celebrity in the past. Reasons why I opted for Lindblad and would absolutely do it all the same way again:

 

In Galapagos - Yes all food, sodas, fresh juices, teas, coffees, snacks etc. are included - no alcohol is incuded, but then you don't really have time or desire! There is no formal dressing for dinner - very laid back - food and service staff are top notch - Polaris moves from island to island every night and sometimes during lunch - The Expedition leader and naturalists cannot be better; they are highly specialized and their commitment to the preservation of the Galapagos is evident. I could go on and on......

 

Now the add on - Lindblad in Peru subcontracts with Lima Travel and here again their guides are amazing! Boy do you get spoiled!!!! I am glad again that we went with Lindblad as they first take you to the Sacred Valley area, then Machu Picchu and lastly to Cusco. Believe me, this is a very important detail as acclimatizing to the altitude is very importat. By going lower first then up, you have a much easier time. No one in our group became drastically ill. Only two asked for a little oxygen the first night and joined the rest of us for dinner the same night.

 

As for the Sanctuary Lodge - again you arrive at Machu Picchu around noon and have a guided educational tour which is exceptional - The next morning, you get a chance to enter and head up to see the sunrise and/or get up a little later and walk to the Sun Gate. Advantage of staying overnight is that in Machu Picchu rain comes and goes - In our case, we were blessed with a beautiful first afternoon - the next morning, it was raining. Some, including my dh, went to the Sun Gate anyway and felt it well worth the soaking they got.

 

There were a lot of wonderful stops in between the main attractions which I wouldn't have missed for the world. There were 23 of us on the Machu Picchu add on from our sailing and to a man I can honestly tell you, we would all do it again and left rearing to book a new adventure with Lindblad.

 

If you have any more specific questions, I'll be happy to answer.

 

Susana

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Hi, Susana - I think I may have mentioned this before in another thread but I did the same trip as you in April/May. It was fantastic. There were 20 of us who continued on to Peru. The places we stayed were so amazing. Can't believe that to book them oneself it would be around $800 per night for the Miraflores and the Sanctuary Lodge. I particularly like Sol y Luna. I would love to do another trip with Lindblad also.

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1fineday,

Hope this helps. We returned from a trip to Peru & Machu Picchu about 5 weeks ago. It included a 3 nt./4 day cruise to the Galapagos on the Galapagos Explorer II as well as 4 nts. in Quito. The cost with air from Miami was $3750.00 per person. It was a wonderful trip and not too expensive. The Galapagos Explorer II was much nicer than I anticipated. The cabin was a small suite & the food was quite delicious. And I loved every shore excursion - the animals were extraordinary! I just posted my pictures. If you'd like to see them, send me your e mail, & I'll send you the link.

I recommend this trip. It was wonderful. And we've been to many places. TT

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I have not done this trip yet but I do know there are many companies out there where you don't have to spend $10,000. Vantage, Oat, are some of them. Check them out. For $4000 to $5000 you have 2 or more weeks with Machu Picchu incluede. Vantage stays in very nice hotels and the ship is the Coral 1. We are looking at these options since we take at least 4 trips a year.

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