Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Our cruise in the Galapagos

This is Elise.  We weren't sure if we wanted to do a cruise or not when we went to the Galapagos.  I sometimes get seasick and I know some people say a land based trip is a good way to go as well.  When we got to Puerto Ayora and looked at the prices for some of the day tours, we decided to shop around for a cruise.  I didn't like the town of Puerto Ayora much and when we added in the cost of day trips plus food and accommodation, the cruise prices didn't seem so bad.  I am very happy we did the cruise.  We got to some isolated spots that we would not have seen otherwise. The snorkeling was amazing.  There was one place that had school after school of colorful reef fish with sea lions zipping in between me and the fish. At another site there were crystal clear caverns we swam with lobos marinos.  I swam with a school of hammerhead sharks.  That was a bit scary and I kept pulling my legs close in to my body like that would help if they chose to attack.  We weren't able to scuba dive off the boat but I was okay with that after my bad experience in Belize when the divemasters left me in the middle of the ocean.
Our accommodations on the boat were better than some of the hotel rooms we have stayed in. I was so happy to take a hot shower after we got out of the cold water.  We all wore wetsuits but the girls got cold quickly anyway.  This time of year there are cold currents.  If you have kids and are planning a trip to the Galapagos I would suggest buying full wetsuits of at least 3mm.  There is a poor selection of kids shortie wetsuits on the islands.  We had to bring the kids back to the Zodiac early during every snorkel trip. I had a full wetsuit and a layer of fat to keep me warm so I was fine.  The food was just okay on the cruise. ( I haven't had any really good food in a long time.  The food is so bland and boring here I could cry.  I can't remember what good cheese tastes like.) We lucked out and got a fun group of people on the cruise.  We also lucked out in that most of them were native English speakers so it was easy to communicate.  Most of the cruise passengers were long term backpackers from Europe and Australia in their late twenties and early thirties.  It was a midgrade cruise.
I feel fortunate to have experienced the islands.  The beaches there were by far the nicest we have been to on our trip.  I was practically tripping over baby sea lions (lobos marinos) and iguanas.  I am glad we only did the 5 day cruise because I felt like I had seen enough.  Also on the last day I started to get sea sick.  The ship was rolling back and forth a lot and I couldn't wait to get off.  I unfortunately got sicker after I got off the ship.  I  had a bad case of disembarkation sickness for two days after the cruise.  I felt like I was still on a rocking boat.  Sierra hugged me and said I was swaying back and forth.  I felt dizzy and nauseated.  I had to hold on to the walls to walk across the room.  Mike and I had been talking about buying a sailboat and living on it some time in the future but after that experience I can scratch that off our list.  Such a shame because I really enjoyed being on the boat.(Yes, I took Dramamine the whole time, including two days after the cruise.)

Some of the islands looked like moonscapes.

Zoe watching the crashing waves below

The cacti along the shoreline was stunning

A yellow headed land iguana

The birds allow you to walk right up to them

The outer island animal viewing was peaceful and non rushed

The finches followed us on each island we visited.

The iguanas were so different between the islands

We found a whale skeleton on the beach. This actually helped us to teach some anatomy to the kids.

The albatross doing a mating dance by clapping their beaks together while singing.

Some of the albatrosses already laid their eggs

We stumbled upon a sea turtle nesting track early one morning

The blue footed boobies also laid eggs while we were there

Zoe liked climbing to the top of the boulders to get a better view of the ocean.

Views on the outer islands were amazing and the best part was there wasn't any evidence of man.

We used zodiacs to access the islands from our ship.

We snorkeled in large tunnels like this

Zoe found a crab shell

Sierra put the crab shell on her head for fun.

The uninhabited islands were very tranquil

A view out my cabin door on the ship.

The girls learned a lot about sea birds and how far they can fly for food.

Male birds of all sorts were trying to attract mates while we were there.

The girls were so happy once we checked on board the ship

Our kids kept up with the adults on the trip

We snorkeled with schools of hammerhead sharks, white and black tipped reef sharks, sea lions, sting rays (pictured above) and many other animals

This sea lion was so close to Zoe you could barely fit a piece of paper between the two. To hear your child shriek with such joy while snorkeling is a sound I will not soon forget.

Sierra giving the thumbs up while swimming with a another sea lion.

Zoe was very happy with the experiences in the water
We enjoyed the sunsets from the ship. We also enjoyed the amazing Milky Way at night, with unobstructed views from where the ocean began on one side of the horizon to where it ended on the other side of the horizon.

Elise and Zoe getting ready for one of the more challenging swims of the trip.

The tide pools are always a great spot for kids to hang out

A decomposing iguana on one of our walks. The dead and or sick animals provide learning tools for the kids on how nature works.
black lava rocks covered in green algae on a white sand beach

a big colorful grasshopper

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