We have seen the Galapagos Islands and we will not have to see it again. Not that I have anything against a place where it is seemingly one hundred degrees and one hundred percent humidity every day of the year, except during the rainy season, when the humidity, against all the laws of nature, exceeds one hundred and twenty percent. It’s just that once you’ve seen the mating dance of the blue footed booby, well, nothing will ever be the same again.
I know the Galapagos Islands are on a lot of people’s short list, or bucket list, or I-like-animals-so-I-will-travel-halfway-around-the-world-to-see-the-animals-in-the-Galapagos list. It certainly was on Mary’s bucket list. And the basis of all good marriages is compromise, respect for your partner and not least, a certain quid pro quo. Which in this case will probably be something like an exchange, wherein Mike (that’s me, the party of the first part) will agree, however reluctantly, to travel to the Galapagos Islands, which Mary (party of the second part) really desired. In return, and this is important, I will get to talk Mary (party, second part, and all that) into going somewhere like this. I don’t know why sleeping in an ice hotel appeals to me so much, perhaps in a previous life I was an Eskimo or, maybe a package of frozen peas.
According to all the guides, the best way to experience the wonder that is the Galapagos Islands is to do it by cruise ship. We selected Celebrity Cruises, because of the great reviews from everyone that used them, their unwavering policy of respecting the fragile ecology of the islands, and most importantly, because they had a policy of unlimited free booze, on-board. There is, apparently, a limit to the number of ships and associated tourists that can be in the Galapagos at any one time. The limit seems to be directly correlated with the number of people that have money burning a hole in their pockets, and a desire to see the blue footed booby, au naturel. There’s a half dozen or so ships that cater to the tourist trade, and that’s not counting much smaller boats, similar to chartered yachts and the like. One person we met on a beach was from a much, much smaller vessel than ours, and she was desperate to talk to someone, anyone, since none of the crewmembers spoke much English, and the only other passengers were a non-English speaking Asian couple. Seems like that might be a bit of a problem.
So the Celebrity XPedition, our ship, was by far the smallest cruise ship we’ve ever been on with slightly less than a hundred passengers. And she’s pretty much tied for the biggest cruise ship in the Galapagos, so if your ideas of visiting the islands include Broadway style shows, a pool on-board, and several bars to choose from every night, you might be a little disappointed. If your desire is to enjoy a rock steady sleep every night, then you’re going to be very disappointed.
Our ship was twenty five hundred tons. The Disney cruise ships for instance, which I’m using solely as an example, and not because Mary’s business is with Disney, are 83,000 and 120,000 tons respectively. As you might imagine, a much smaller ship, like the Xpedition, will have a little more lively motion in any kind of sea. So the ship rocked, and swayed, and bounced, and bobbed up and down, with an occasional swoop just to make things interesting. We didn’t mind the motion, though every night after we went to bed, I’d have to get up and start jamming things in the sides of drawers to keep them from sliding open all night long.
One thing that does not effect us is motion sickness of any kind, so we slept soundly and awoke with a hearty appetite. Not all of our fellow passengers shared our iron constitution so we made every attempt to cheer them up, by noting that Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle was only 250 tons, and had a crew of seventy some fellows, stout and true. Who I will point out spent over five years aboard, and they didn’t even have the benefit of a buffet lunch. They did have grog everyday however, so it was not dissimilar to our voyage.