Blog Archives

Un-Cruise Adventure Cruises Extends to the Galapagos Islands

La PintaLove the style of Un-Cruise Adventures in Alaska, Hawaii, Baja Mexico and the Pacific Northwest? Then stay tuned, as the Galapagos is in sight.

With an official announcement still pending, Un-Cruise Adventures added a Galapagos itinerary to their selections, sailing the 10 day, 9 night “Colonial Quito & Galápagos Islands” itinerary aboard the 48-guest yacht La Pinta, starting in 2016.

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New Regulations Alter Galapagos Cruise Itineraries

Blue-footed Boobie
Effective February 1st, travel regulations will go into effect in the Galapagos Islands which are designed to help protect the environment there, while presenting travelers with a better experience for years to come.

The new regulation from the Ecuadorian government, which oversees operation of the Galapagos National Park, states that no vessel operating in and around the Galapagos can visit the same location more than once within a 14 day period. The hope is this regulation will disperse visitor traffic throughout the region, keeping overcrowding to a minimum, and protect the unique and fragile ecosystems there for years to come.
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Smithsonian Magazine Introduces EvoTourism – An Evolution World Tour

In the January 2012 issue, Smithsonian Magazine is introducing Evotourism. The word isn’t in the dictionary. But they think it’s worth adding to the lexicon because it describes a new kind of travel.

evo•tourism (ē vō toor’ iz’ əm) n. travel intended to promote awareness of evolution.

The article celebrates ten desinationa that span 300 million years and six continents. The destinations include:

  • Kangaroo Island, Australia – Where the Wild Things Are
  • Foraminifera Sculpture Park, China – 330-Million-Year-Old Organisms
  • Wadi Hitan, Egypt – Whales Walked Here
  • The Cradle of Humankind, South Africa – Human Evolution History
  • Jurassic Coast, England – A Fossil Treasure Trove
  • Mendel’s Garden, Czech Republic – Where Modern Genetics Was Born
  • Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska – The Prehistoric Pompeii
  • Isle Royale, Michigan – A Fight for Survival
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador – Where Darwin Found Natural Selection
  • Mount St. Helens, Washington – Life Begins Anew

Of these, the last two are destinations visited by small ships (which, of course, excites us at Sunstone Tours & Cruises).

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No Single Supplement Fee on Select 2012 Galapagos Cruises from International Expeditions

Galapagos Blue Footed Booby

Galapagos Blue Footed Booby

Solo travelers looking for savings can take advantage of no single supplement ($1,200 savings) on eight Galapagos adventures offered by International Expeditions. The single supplement fees will be waived on International Expeditions’s February 3 and 17, March 16 and 30, May 11 and 25, and October 12 and 26, 2012 Galapagos Island cruises.

On the 10-day Galapagos Islands cruise, solo travelers join a group of like-minded guests aboard International Expeditions’ 32-passenger yacht M/V Evolution. This immersive expedition navigates to captivating islands, where the small group size allows for easy access to the wildlife and far more personal attention than guests find aboard larger cruise ships. Onboard, guests sail in comfort with spacious accommodations, fine cuisine and a host of amenities including an observation deck (perfect for whale watching) and canopied bar, plus complimentary snorkeling equipment, wetsuits and kayaks.

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Free Air on Select Galapagos Cruises

Take advantage of FREE AIR on select 2011-2012 Lindblad Expeditions Galapagos cruises.

Experience Galápagos panoramically: on a voyage linking island to island, awaking to fresh vistas and discoveries every day. You’ll experience it intimately: landing each day on a new island, getting up close to the astounding wildlife. And you’ll experience it holistically: the undersea will be as vital a part of your adventure as the land, the sky, the animals, the grassy highlands and the beaches. Exploring with us is genuinely immersive: whether you’re literally underwater, in a kayak, or watching ROV footage of a world beneath the ship on a plasma screen in our ship’s Lounge.   Read the rest of this entry

Tsunami Galapagos update

Reports from the Galapagos Islands have just arrived with the following update on the passing of the waves that resulted from Japan’s earthquake earlier today: The waves arrived to the Islands about an hour later than originally expected. Seas are choppier than normal around the entire archipelago (according to our captains aboard M/V Evolution and M/Y Grace), but nothing out of the ordinary. Waves at Academy Bay, in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), were taller than normal as well, but there are no records of any damages caused to boats, coasts or ports in the Galapagos. The animals from the Charles Darwin Research Station that had been transported to the highlands as a precaution will be transported back down during the course of the day tomorrow. All appears to be back to normal in the Islands.

Local airlines have confirmed as well that all flights will operate normally tomorrow at their regular scheduled times. No delays are expected with our flight operations for tomorrow.

The Tsunami Warning in Ecuador is expected to be lifted in the next couple of hours.

I wonder if Curious George was up lifted to higher ground?

Cruise Review: Galapagos aboard National Geographic Islander

Following is a Galapagos cruise review aboard the National Geographic Islander from January 2011.

Just returned from our trip of a lifetime. We planed and planed and worked with Linda, and every inch exceeded our expectations.

Due to storms we didn’t want to have any issues with missing flights so we flew into Miami a night early and stayed at the hotel right in the airport. We were first in line for our flights out to Guayaquil the next day.

We arrived in Guayaquil late at night and were picked up and taken to the Hilton along with many others who would be our sailing. Hilton was a a nice hotel and seemed to be the best in the area. A good night’s sleep, an early breakfast and off we were on our charter flight to the Islands.

And then our dream trip started. We saw amazing wildlife day after day. Just as you thought today was the best tomorrow exceeded it. We visited Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Santiago, Isabela, Fernandina, North Seymour among other landings with our zodiacs. Our guides were professional, knowledgeable and most of all personal and fun, they made everything a good time. I was a little worried about the “stuffiness” of a National Geographic guide, but was totally in error of my perception. All guides have to be licensed by the country and are rated by levels. National Geo and Lindblad have only the top rated guides. I speak a touch of Spanish and it was fun to use it on our guides. Our guides were more than such, they sailed on the ship with us, they gave evening lectures, they ate dinner with us.

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Galapagos Cruise Report: Española Island

This morning we arrived from Seymour Island and dropped anchor at Punta Suarez on the island of Española. As soon as we landed, we saw lots of sea lion pups and blue-footed boobies with chicks. The Nazca boobies were so abundant that the whole cliff was white. The marina iguanas are distinct color, which is a mix of black, red and green, and therefore I call them Christmas iguanas.

Since we are getting into the warm and wet season, the finches are starting to get busy by displaying their courtship routines and collecting nesting material. As we continued our walk, we also had the opportunity to see the waved albatrosses, including young ones that are getting ready to leave the island. Where do they go? They fly east to the Pacific coast of Ecuador and down south to Peru.

We also saw the Galápagos hawk, red-billed tropic birds, swallow-tailed gulls and plenty more. We came back on board the National Geographic Endeavour and the guests learned about snorkeling and kayaking safety. Right after this we had a very tasty lunch and time for a siesta. At 3:00pm we went deep water snorkeling, on glass-bottom boat rides and kayaking.

Snorkeling was excellent, we lots of tropical fish, sting rays, and a sea lion came out of nowhere to the surface with a huge fish. It played with the fish for a minute and then left it wounded and we watched it swim away. Right after snorkeling went to Gardner Bay, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Galápagos. Its sand is like white talcum powder; you can walk on it barefoot and it is so pleasant. Again we saw many sea lions—big males, lot of pups and, of course, the females.

At sunset we came back on board and showered. Cocktail hour took place, followed by our daily recap and a briefing about the activities for the following day. It really was a blasting day.

Aboard the National Geographic Endeavour in Galapagos

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Bartolomé & James Islands

Last night we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, and we slept so well that we woke up with so much energy this morning. At 6:30am we took the heart-breaking hike up to Bartholomew Island. This island is an open book for geology and, when you arrive, it seems that you’ve landed on the moon. We got to the summit and from there we had a spectacular view of this volcanic landscape and the islands in the vicinity.

We all came back on board for a well-deserved breakfast, got in to our wet suits and headed towards the golden sand beach. From there, people went snorkeling and saw the Galápagos penguins, white tip reef sharks, and a good variety of tropical fish. While the kids swam, we played American football in the water and everyone had a blast.

At 11:30am, we came back on board and the National Geographic Endeavour, weighed anchor, and motored to James Bay on the island of James. Here we went for one of the nicest walks in the Galápagos, along the beautiful coast line. We observed plenty of fur seals today, along with the always-cute Galápagos sea lions, marine iguanas, and lots of migratory birds.

Others decided to soak up the sun at the black volcanic sandy beach and went for the last snorkeling expedition of the voyage. This was really a magic week and we saw almost everything.

Gosh, Galápagos will always be a paradise and we are all blessed with such a place.

Fausto Rodriguez, Naturalist

Aboard the National Geographic Islander in Galapagos

Bartolomé and Santiago Islands

A slight breeze welcomed us early in the morning as National Geographic Islander arrived at Bartolomé, a small but intense central island of Galápagos. This island is spectacular for its resemblance to our planet’s satellite; from which it has gotten its nickname: Moonscape Island.

Any doubts our guests may have had about getting up early to climb a volcano were dissipated as soon as we touched land. An overwhelming feeling invaded our senses as we made progress into such a hostile but prosperous environment. Seeing the pioneer plants gaining space little by little, taking advantage of any available shade even though the existence of this shade is just of a brief duration was certainly encouraging. Everyone on our expedition developed a different understanding of the meaning of life after such an encounter. As the morning went on, we engaged ourselves in another outstanding activity — snorkeling. The clear and not-so-cold ocean gave us a splendid time, and we were surrounded by multi-colored fish of all sorts.

Inexorably the time went by and we had to move to a different destination, so we did. The tuff cone known as Cousins laid onto portside of the boat as we navigated to James Bay on the island of Santiago. Once there, some of our guests chose to go to the beach for a little stroll and some went swimming while still others went for our first kayaking experience, which was phenomenal. To be able to explore the coastline of James Bay is not something that could be done every day due to the usual rough seas of this place, yet; there we were doing just so. Galápagos sea lions and turtles were our company along the way, enhancing our experience with their presence. Once both activities, beach strolling and kayaking, were over we passed onto still a different one, exploring one of the most impressive trails of the Galápagos, Puerto Egas. There we had contact with many shorebirds, sea lions and a particular cute yellow warbler taking a bath in a saltwater pond.

With so many activities for the afternoon, the sun went down pretty quickly, and by the time we were back at the beach in order to return to the ship, it was pretty dark. Yes, we called it a day—and a very fruitful one.

Ernesto Vaca Norero, Naturalist