Good morning from the Galápagos Islands aboard the Floreana Yacht! I am so excited to begin sharing about our eight days in the Galápagos Islands (but if you want to skip ahead, here are my posts specifically on the islands!). But before I jump into the actual islands, I want to tell you about how we enjoyed Galápagos.
Upon arriving at the Baltra airport in Galápagos, Ryan and I knew we still had a long journey ahead of us until we reached our final destination, Puerto Ayora. The Baltra airport is located on a small island north of the Santa Cruz Island. Here is how to get to Puerto Ayora:
1: Short bus ride from airport to dock (free), about 10 minutes
2: Quick water taxi ride across the canal ($1), about 5 minutes
3. Long bus ride ($2), about 1:15 hour (since we are trying to stay on a budget, our easiest way to save has been taking public transit) or taxi ride ($15-20), about 40 minutes
We chose to begin our Galápagos journey in Puerto Ayora because from what we had read, most of the cruises leave out of this port. We also knew we wanted to do a cruise, but did not want to pay the sticker price. Eight day cruises can run as high as $15k! Not joking. So, we planned to give ourselves ten days in Galápagos, allowing for time to negotiate and book a last minute cruise. We did our research, and found that Happy Gringo gave the best advice relating to the cruises and really helped us narrow down which cruises we were interested in when it came time to negotiating and booking.
We chose to do a last minute cruise for a variety of reasons. Let me explain.
Since I already explained the potential exorbitant cost that Galápagos can total, here is how we got around it. We did everything last minute. After the bus dropped us off in Puerto Ayora, we got checked into our hotel. We had to pay up front. We unpacked a little, and then went out to see what kind of last minute cruise we could get. This started at 4pm.
We started our negotiations at Moonrise Tour. TripAdvisor forums had led us to Moonrise, and we had high hopes. We spoke with the attendant, who gave us a list of potential options. She was the first to mention the Floreana. We immediately fell in love with the north island itinerary. Problem was, we could not get out enough cash from the ATM in time to catch the Floreana’s 6pm departure from the canal by the airport. We proposed several different options to the attendant (credit card, pay 1/2 now, the other 1/2 when we get back) but nothing. She was not willing to help us. The banks were closed and we just could not get out enough cash from the ATM. So we left Moonrise around 4:30pm. Sad and Floreana-less.
We then went to another spot, but again, the attendant was unhelpful in finding ways to finance the trip. But let me back up. The only reason we did not have enough cash is because we never expected to be leaving the day we arrived. We arrived on a Thursday and thought we would do a 4 day, 3 night cruise leaving the upcoming Sunday. We thought we would have plenty of time to gather the cash if we left Sunday.
Our third stop did the trick. It was now 4:45pm, the boat was scheduled to leave at 6pm. After some haggling, we made a deal.
Happy Gringo List Price for Galápagos Islands Floreana Cruise, 8 day, north island itinerary: $3,360/person
Puerto Ayora List Price for Galápagos Islands Floreana Cruise, 8 day, north island itinerary: $2,500/person
What we paid for Galápagos Islands Floreana Cruise, 8 day, north island itinerary: $1,700/person
So it pays to not plan when it comes to the Galápagos Islands. Once we made the deal, the timer began. We rushed to our hotel, grabbed our belongings (forfeited our two nights of paid stay), sped to the ATM, quickly paid our 1/2 upfront (plus we had to leave our drivers licenses, and my iPhone. He originally wanted my passport but there was no way I was paying this strange man $1,700, driving 40 minutes away, going to sea for 8 days and then leaving my passport!), and then drove to the port. With all that rushing, we managed to make our cruise and our adventure on the Floreana began.
So let me tell you about the Floreana but in all honesty, I am not a boat person. I do not have much to compare this experience to. All I can say is, it is a well run operation. With two land and water visits per day, three delicious meals, two snacks and plenty of sun the Floreana does not disappoint. Also, after traveling now for a few weeks and spending time in a variety of hostels and hotels, I have to say, the shower on the Floreana has been the best yet. Hot water and perfect amount of water pressure! Our guide Victor was fabulous. Wonderful story teller and his knowledge of the islands is extensive. There was no question he could not answer.
PS: I was beyond happy when I met Varina, from Munich, on our cruise! Everyday she would come sauntering through the cabin in the most amazing bikinis! Every day, a new bikini and all I could do was constantly compliment her! Her response, ” I just bought it in Colombia!” Then this show stopping outfit made its appearance-this gorgeous orange jumpsuit! I was beyond in love and to my delight, Varina graciously lent it to me for the blog! So my friends, here is a gorgeous jumpsuit, straight from Colombia, one size fits all! Thank you Varina!
We are currently in Valparaiso, Chile, follow along here!