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Finding Nemo

ECUADOR | Monday, 7 June 2010 | Views [781]

Nemo II - Galapagos Islands

Nemo II - Galapagos Islands

There are 86 licensed tour ships in the Galapagos.  They range from economy class up to luxury liners and carry from 10 to 100 passengers.  A seven-day cruise can cost less than $1000 or as much as $6000.  All seem to follow the same basic itinerary so choosing your ship is a matter of timing, cost and comfort.

Most people book from home, either on-line or through a travel agent, which is a good idea if you are on a tight schedule.  We waited until we arrived in Guayaquil and found a last minute deal on a boat we had seen on-line.  The Nemo II is a luxury-class, 26-meter motor-sailing catamaran that carries 12 passengers, a guide, and a crew of six.  We liked her for the small group of passengers and the stability of the catamaran.  The romantic sailing option was a bonus although we used it only twice.

There is a routine for getting to the Galapagos.  First you buy a $10 pass to travel to the islands.  Next, it’s baggage inspection to make sure you aren’t bringing in anything that could endanger the environment.  Third is check-in.  All this is done at the mainland airport.  Before landing they fumigate all the overhead luggage bins, just in case.  At the airport on Baltra, a small island adjacent to Sta. Cruz, you pay $100 for a Galapagos national parks pass and have your carry-on inspected.  They are really serious!  Finally you collect your luggage, which presumably has also been fumigated, and try to find your guide or boat representative.

Most of the people on our flight had badges identifying them as members of the Linblad/National Geographic tour.  I couldn’t resist peaking over the shoulder of a woman who was checking her itinerary.  The cost for her and her daughter for two weeks was $16,000, including airfare from the States and a couple of nights in Quito.  Our Galapagos trip cost $3,500 including airfare from the mainland, which is $1,000 less than those who booked ahead on the same boat.

While their ship dwarfs Nemo II we have everything we need.  There is a large indoor lounge and topside deck chairs.  You can also rest on two trampolines are suspended between the bow hulls.  Meals are served on the covered rear deck.  The meals are varied, the food is good and the crew is friendly.  We have to descend a short ladder from the lounge to reach our tiny cabin but it is efficient and has lots of storage and a separate bathroom (head).  You have to pump flush the toilet and a hand-held shower but the water is hot and seemingly plentiful.  I have the top bunk with an overhead hatch so I can watch the stars.


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