On March 18th, I embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list trip to the Galapagos Islands. Ever since I was a child, the Galapagos Islands have been an iconic destinations that I've read about and seen hundreds of times on TV when I watch National Geographic and Discovery Channel. When I received this invitation to join Lindblad Expeditions on the new, National Geographic Endeavour II, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to experience the natural wonders of the Galapagos Archipelago.
If you are interest in going to the Galapagos Islands and want to experience all of it's natural wonders, the best way to travel is on an expedition ship instead of staying at a hotel and being on a single island, like Santa Cruz. The Galapagos are made up of 13 major islands and 6 smaller ones. So, you can imagine that staying at a hotel makes exploring all of them almost impossible.
Expedition Ships are becoming increasingly popular for those clients looking for an intimate, small ship experience (no more than 100-150 guests) and those couples or families that love adventures. In the last 10 years or so, there have been a few companies and cruise lines starting Expedition cruises including Silversea, Celebrity, and Un-Cruise Adventures. However, the leader of Expedition Cruises belongs to the most veteran company in the business, Lindblad Expeditions. They have a number of ships that offer great itineraries all over the world and their partnership with National Geographic gives them access to the best naturalists, photographers and destination experts.
The National Geographic Endeavour II features 52 cabins and can accommodate 98 guests. The Endeavour II was built specifically for the Galapagos and it stays there all year round. There is a family-style dining area where couples and families can share tables, discuss their upcoming activities for the day or recap what they did earlier that day during dinner. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are served in the dining room and dinner is a plated meal and your select your main course each day when you have lunch. There is a sign-up sheet with 3 different options available.
The ship has a library, masseuse treatment room, fitness center, observation gallery (where daily lectures occur), and sun deck with lounge chairs and tables. The ship includes all activities during your cruise and nothing will cost you extra (except alcoholic beverages). Daily activities include Zodiak Rides, Paddle Boarding, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hiking, Photography Tours and Lessons, Young Explorers Program (for Children) and Daily Lectures in the late afternoon recapping the day and discussing the next day's activities.
Above, you will see some of the many pictures that I took during my time in the Galapagos. During my 7-day cruise with Lindblad Expeditions, we visited the following islands: Baltra, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Rabida, Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, and San Cristobal. Each island offers very different experiences and various wildlife encounters, so it's important to make the most of each day, snorkeling every day it is offered and take advantage of the hiking activities every morning to maximize your wildlife encounters and picture opportunities.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend Lindblad Expeditions to any couple or family wanting to fully experience the Galapagos Islands. The staff on the ship including naturalists, photographers, housekeepers, bartenders, servers in the dining room and the front desk team, all did an amazing job and made us feel like we were family. I also loved being on a small ship because it was very easy to converse with other guests during activities and meals and everyone departed the ship having made new friends after sharing a week of truly incredible experiences together in the Galapagos.