Galápagos 2017: Day 3 [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

Galapagos 2017: [Day 1 [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8] [Day 9] [Day 10] [Day 11]

Sunday, March 12, 2017: We were up at 6:00 AM, ready to go!
The restaurant was barely stirring, ...
... so we got a nice little table to ourselves by the window.
Look at all that breakfast goodness. There was corn in cheese bake again, like we had eaten at Theatrum Restaurant, plus sauteed mushrooms, rice, something like sweet corn meal wrapped in a leaf, plus local fruits.
Debbie tried granadilla, which was basically like a big bowl of passion fruit innards.
Here is some prickly pear. It was not delicious.
But the fruit juice selection certainly was. This morning, we had a selection of naranjilla juice, strawberry juice, and guanabana juice.
At 7:15, we picked up our Celebrity tour stickers, our Celebrity water bottles, and our plane tickets.
By 8:00, we were ready to go.
Check out this bull sculpture, ...
... and these bicycle sculptures.
We examined our boarding passes and our transit cards for entry into the Galápagos. At this point, we were thinking that seats 20C and 20D would be aisle and window seats, but we would be sorely disappointed later to learn that we were in aisle seats across from each other.
It's a long 45-minute drive back to the airport, but the scenery along the way is interesting. This sculpture is in the middle of a freeway loop.
Pretty landscape, huh?
We reached Aeropuerto Internacional Mariscal Sucre shortly before 9:00.
We strolled through the airport like a line of ducks at first, ...
... eventually scattering as we made it through security and past the stores, ...
... and arrived at gate A3 ...
... for our charter flight.
Debbie went back to the shops for a minute to stock up on Tic Tacs. It had been years since we had seen them in this size container in the US, so these were a novelty.
There's our plane, or more accurately, what should have been our plane. We ended up having to move gates so we could take a different plane instead, when ours got appropriated by Avianca for a more important route.
We later learned that our ground team was able to arrange a replacement plane but that all luggage, food, and Celebrity signage needed to be moved to the new plane in a hurry.
We finally boarded the plane ...
... and took off nearly an hour late. Hooray for hot towels to put us at ease! Note the custom Celebrity signage at the front of the cabin.
After coming around with linen tray table covers for everyone, a nice brunch was served around 11:30.
The beverage cups featured Galápagos wildlife, ...
... and the custom cloth napkins had blue-footed boobies embroidered on them.
As we approached the islands, the cabin crew disinfected the carry-on bags in the overhead bins with an aerosol can.
Debbie's seatmates were kind enough to let her lean over and take a photo of the scenery. Sadly, Tom's seatmates closed their window and didn't open it again until landing. That's San Cristóbal down there, where we would be five days later.
We had been watching "Arrival," but only made it to the 1:33 mark before we landed, so we noted where we were in the movie so we could pick it back up a week later.
We're here! Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands!
As we were heading into the terminal, this plane was arriving, labeled Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana (Ecuadorian Air Force).
Here's the start of the walkway into the airport.
There's a wet, spongy section that forces you to wash the bottom of your shoes as you walk.
This was our first glimpse of Cruise Director Monica, checking the first arrivals into the VIP arrival lounge.
Bienvenidos a Galápagos!
Customs and immigration were handled in this room. Two agents at a table did a basic check of carry-on luggage.
Naturalist Orlando greeted guests after they went through customs and directed them to the VIP arrival lounge.
Within 15 minutes, we were in the lounge ourselves, ...
... snacking on sandwiches, fruit, sweets, and fruit juice, ...
... and waiting for all passengers to arrive.
The wall mural gave an indication of what we were in for over the next week.
At 1:15, we got on one of the very last buses to depart the airport.
We passed three large windmills, which we would see several more times during the week, always announcing that we were near Baltra Island.
It's just a five minute ride to the dock.
Here we are at the Seymour Passenger Dock.
There were lots of people in front of us, ...
... waiting their turn to board the zodiacs, 16 people at a time, ...
... so we had lots of time to look around. Debbie spotted this marine iguana right next to the dock. He blended in pretty well with the rocks so he was easy to miss. At this point in our visit, a single iguana was the coolest thing ever.
There were Sally Lightfoot crabs on the rocks. We didn't yet know that the smaller black crabs were baby versions of these red crabs.
What's the commotion in the distance? Whatever it is, it was heading right toward the dock.
No way. It's a beautiful set of five spotted eagle rays.
The lead ray led the group right past the dock so we could all get a good look.
Oh yeah, he's magnificent.
This little guy is a bullseye puffer. He was the first of many that we saw over the next week, always in the shallow water, swimming all alone.
Finally, we were in the second-to-last zodiac shuttle. We were greeted by naturalist Will. Passengers Sandy and Christina on the right ended up being some of our tablemates for dinner.
We were so close. So very close.
And we're here! We offloaded our hand luggage, then departed the zodiacs one at a time, alternating sides.
At 2:00 sharp, we were finally onboard, where we were immediately treated to cold towels.
We had a seat in the Discovery Lounge ...
... and raised our welcome glasses for a toast. Staff members then passed out our room keys and escorted us to our rooms.
Here's cabin 315. It's the worst cabin on the ship, because it is one of three in the lowest category, ...
... and it is the only one with a section carved out of it.
But it was a lovely cabin and we had plenty of storage space and personal space.
The bathroom had enough shelving, ...
... and the shower was surprisingly large for a boat this small.
We had a large porthole window behind a strange platform that we affectionately termed "the balcony." Being a waterproof surface, this is where we dried our clothing after an initial drip dry in the shower. For the time being, our window had a view of Daphne Minor.
By 2:30, we were settled in and ready to treat ourselves to a cerveza, fria. The beer selection was very limited but we are always happy to drink whatever local beer is available, so we always opted for Ecuadorian brand Pilsener.
We found a shaded table outside on Deck 4, which was deserted.
Debbie snapped the first of several dozen photos of Daphne Major, ...
... then smiled for a rare photo of her.
We chugged our beers then went into the Discovery Lounge to get some Diet Cokes and seats for the 3:00 welcome talk. All beverages are included in the cruise fare, so we were thrilled to be able to have Diet Coke whenever we wanted.
Our cruise director, Monica, introduced our naturalists and told us about the schedule for the rest of the day.
At 3:30, the muster drill was held.
At 4:00, we headed to Deck 5 to pick up snorkel gear, wetsuits, and mesh bags to use for the week. We brought along our own masks and snorkels, but used their fins and mesh bags. We also got wetsuits but never ended up using them.
At 4:30, we were leaving Baltra Island and we claimed a table on deck for the upcoming sightseeing. We got out our new camera with the 40x optical zoom and did some tests with it. Here's Baltra Island.
Here it is closer.
And here it is zoomed all the way in, getting a good look at the Seymour passenger dock. Yeah, this camera will do quite nicely, thanks.
A waiter came by to give us the drink of the day, whatever it was.
Shortly after this, our lunchmates from the previous day, Frank and Other Debbie, joined us.
Frigatebirds flew over the boat with us, ...
... close enough to see the male birds' red throat pouches.
We were headed toward Daphne Major to get a closer look, ...
... while we watched Daphne Minor from a distance. Tom decided to rename them El Diablo and Dave, respectively, because if Captain Cook can look at an island and give it a new name, why can't we?
While sightseeing, waiters stopped by with appetizers ...
... and pastries.
There's beautiful Daphne Major. Barely visible is the sunken crater on the right side.
As we got closer to Daphne Major, Daphne Minor was visible in the distance.
One of the naturalists caught Debbie taking the picture above, which we found on the end-of-cruise photo CD.
Here's a closer look at the landscape of Daphne Major, ...
... and here's an even closer look at the plants that live on it.
There's a pelican in the lower middle of this shot for scale.
By now, we were on the opposite side of the island from the visible crater.
We continued to zoom impossibly close to the island to photograph birds on their nest, like the Nazca booby in the center of this photo.
Nazca boobies were perched at the top of the island, ...
... while more were nesting along the side with other types of birds.
Here's Frank capturing the scenery too.
We could see something red on the rocks from a distance but couldn't tell what it was, ...
... so we got a photo and zoomed all the way in. It was a wall covered with Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
Around 5:30, we saw several of these. What are they? They sure weren't dolphins. Sharks or whales of some sort? We may never know. We also saw large splashes from time to time, but by the time we looked, the thing causing the splash was long gone. We later learned that these are manta rays jumping out of the water, and later in the week, we saw one jump four times in a row. Don't hold your breath for a photo though, because we couldn't capture it happening.
There's Santiago Island in the distance, which is where we were headed next.
With an island chain made up of many active volcanoes, seeing islands shaped like this is to be expected.
On the other side of the boat were these pretty little islands.The two at the left are separated by just a tiny sliver of water.
At 6:30, we headed back to the Discovery Lounge to learn more about the upcoming week.
Monica told us that we'd have the opportunity to join up to six snorkeling excursions, including three beach snorkels and three deep water snorkels, and we couldn't believe our good fortune.
Yes. Let's go there.
At 7:00, Debbie snuck out of the briefing long enough to photograph the sunset from the deck.
Back inside, the captain was welcoming us aboard, ...
... introducing us to his crew, ...
... and toasting to our upcoming week.
Then it was back to Monica to tell us about the activity options for the next day.
We'd start at Puerto Egas on Santiago Island with an option of a short or long walk, followed by an optional snorkel. We didn't get a photo of the options for Rabida Island.
After Monica finished her talk, several naturalists took down our choices and then we headed to dinner around 7:30.
We joined Sandy and Christina from Canada ...
... and Kari and Haavard from Norway and had a fun dinner with them.
After dinner, we went up to Deck Five to look at the full moon and stars.
The moon looked stunning reflecting on the water.

Of course, here's a closeup.

Day 4 >

Galapagos 2017: [Day 1 [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8] [Day 9] [Day 10] [Day 11] [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy