Majestic Galapagos and Delfin III Amazon
As you know, we started on the Majestic Cruise and the Galapagos Islands. The only mishap we had was on landing in Quito there was no mention in our papers that someone would be picking us up at the airport. We glanced at the signs being held up but didn't recognize anything so we took a taxi to the hotel. Later that night, the driver called us at the hotel to make sure we arrived safely and apologized. And they refunded us the $25 cab fare. It was a good idea to come in a day early though the altitude was a little difficult to adapt to. However, we did wander the town square on the Sunday and were able to get some of the flavor of the town. The breakfast which was at Swissotel was very impressive.
We easily connected for our ride to the airport, flight to the Galapagos and transfer to the Majestic. Everything went really well. Our guide Billy was extraordinary. We planned our departures times in the dingy's to minimize cross-over times with other ships in the area so every island visit was just 'us'. Food was varied and delicious and the overall experience incredible. 8 days was a really good length of time to really feel the nature of the Galapagos. We only missed one species - the Albatross - as that was on Ferdinand and we didn't go to that island. The crew was supportive, helpful and very skilled. They really supported us in having a positive adventure. There were 14 of us as passengers which gave us the opportunity to get to know each other. We ate at two table of 8 each meal and kept switching seats to spend time with each other differently.
After Galapagos, we returned to Quito and had a wonderful surprise - we were upgraded to a suite for the night and the suite had a washer/dryer which we badly needed now that we were 10 days into our trip. Access to a washer-dry is important on this length of a trip.
The next day, we booked a tour to the equator, volcano and associated sites since that seemed something really special to do in Quito. I would recommend this to anyone spending a day here before or after their trip. The hotel helped us line up a tour taxi for a minimal cost.
After that, we flew to Lima where we stayed at the Lima airport hotel - nice accommodations though not as luxurious as Swissotel in Quito (the regular room). The next morning we walked to the airport and flew to Iquitos for the Amazon portion. The tour guides met us at the airport and took us to the boat.
Our biggest challenge on the Delfin III Amazon cruise was that out of 30 passengers, 22 were Peruvian and Spanish speaking so everything was done in two languages. Finally we suggested that they put the English speaking people together so the guide could say things just once. This worked much better. (2 Germans, 2 Chinese, 1 New Zealand, 1 Australian). Because we didn't have a written itinerary that was being followed, I felt confused at times about what was happening next. Food was well done and highlighted local cuisine. Guides were excellent and went out of their way to make sure we sighted as many animal as possible. Highlight was swimming in the Amazon. One suggestion would be to offer more walking excursions into the jungle. On a small boat, with boat excursions, this part of the trip felt a little contained and constrained physically.
When we returned to Lima, we took the culinary tour. There was a little confusion about what was to be included in the tour, but the tour guide was well informed and spoke very good English. We were glad to have the last day to walk and wander.
Hotel rooms in Lima are tidy but very small. Concierge was very helpful in directing us for things we needed and places we were looking for. We did pay an extra $50 to have the room till 7 pm the last day which was very helpful. We checked out at 7, went and had dinner. Came back and it was almost time to be picked up for the airport.
It was helpful to have guidelines on tipping so we had the appropriate amount of cash with us.
Thank you for all your help in planning this once-in-a-lifetime trip. It was a perfect pairing - the Galapagos and Amazon.