Expert Review: Natural Paradise Galapagos Cruise
The following Expert Review of the luxury Natural Paradise Galapagos Cruise was written by our Travel Specialist, Daniel. Daniel travelled to the Galapagos Islands beginning of November 2016, to experience the Natural Paradise 4-Day cruise itinerary visiting Genovesa, Santiago & Santa Cruz Islands.
Natural Paradise Galapagos Cruise Review
We had the opportunity to experience a 4-day cruise on the 16 passenger luxury yacht, the Natural Paradise cruise. Our itinerary would have us visit select sites on Santa Cruz, Santiago, Genovesa, and Rabida.
Our guide from the Natural Paradise was waiting for us upon arrival at the Baltra airport. Once all the guests were gathered together, we boarded the airport bus for the 10 minute transfer to the dock where the pangas then brought us to the boat. Our luggage was transferred separately by other representatives from the boat.
Upon arrival we were introduced to the staff and briefed on what we needed to know about the boat and schedule etc. Then after settling into our cabins we went through a safety drill including the alarm sounding and us each putting our life vests on and making our way to the pangas/excursion boats.
Our suite was very spacious and comfortable. It had one large window looking out to one side, and sliding glass doors that lead out to a nice private balcony looking off the back of the boat. It was a great place to relax on the giant lounge chair/bed that was on it and watch the birds flying overhead. There were no curtains on the sliding glass doors though, so there was quite a lot of light in our cabin at nights, due to there being a full moon at the time. The view was great though. Keys were not given for the cabins, but that seems to be relatively common practice on some of the smaller boats. The boat’s appearance was shiny, clean and new throughout. The sprawling sun deck was a nice place to take in the views from. The jacuzzi was a nice touch, though one needs to keep in mind that, as with most small boats, it can only be used while the boat is stationary and with advanced notice.
Meals were self-serve from a buffet style lineup. The dining room had two large tables that would be tight with the full guest count. It can be important to arrive early to meals if you want to sit together with your travel companions. The seating is first come first serve, so the distribution doesn’t always work out ideally for everyone.
Our cruise was in November, so the Humboldt Current was still present, meaning there would likely be more marine activity, but also less visibility and more waves. At night when the boat was navigating long distances between islands the sea got to be very rough at times. I found that being showered and in bed ready for sleep before the boat started to navigate was very helpful to avoid any nausea or difficulty moving about. How rough it is can vary quite a lot depending on the time of year and the location though, and some travelers are less affected than others, so this may not be an issue for many travelers.
Announcements were made over the loudspeakers in the cabins to advise guests shortly before each excursion would depart. Some excursions go out in the morning before breakfast, so we were glad to have brought some snacks of our own. There were always crew members waiting to offer assistance in and out of the pangas, and to help distribute wetsuits and snorkel gear when needed. Shoes worn on excursions are not to be worn inside the boat. There are racks outside to leave them so that the crew can clean them for you, so as not to track dirt from one island to another. It is good to bring footwear to use just for indoors on the boat, as the floors can be a bit slippery if walking in socks or wet feet. Finger foods and drinks were served at the bar upon arrival from some excursions.
The excursions and activities on the islands were a lot of fun, and most involved an abundance of unique Galapagos wildlife that barely seemed to notice or care that we were there and so close to it. Despite the lower visibility during that time of year, we had a great time snorkeling and saw a lot of marine life. The guide was very knowledgeable, and did a great job of explaining most things twice over, once in Spanish and once in English, to assure that everyone in the group understood. The group was a bit large for one guide to be able to assist everyone when it came to snorkeling, so we were generally given either a general ‘path’ to follow or an area to focus on.
Getting in and out of the pangas on the islands proved to be a bit of an adventure in some cases. Sometimes it was a simple ride up onto the beach and step out, while other times the waves made it more of a challenge. After the first few outings we decided to play it safe and keep our belongings in Ziploc bags or a dry bag, and we mostly wore sandals and swimwear or light clothes that would dry quickly.
At the end of the cruise we were brought back to the Baltra airport, where we and our fellow guests said our goodbyes to one another and our guide.
For more information about the Natural Paradise Galapagos cruise, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.