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The Evolution of Cruising. Silver Origin to the Galapagos Islands


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The Galapagos Islands have always fascinated me.  I'm not entirely sure why I'm drawn there but it has always been a bucket list destination I wasn't sure I'd ever get to.

Perhaps it was the remote location and overall difficulty getting that added to the attraction.  Maybe it's too many National Geographic type episodes on TV or the idea of so much wildlife to see and photograph.  Maybe it's knowing Darwin himself formed so much of his knowledge right there on the Galapagos Islands.   To walk in the footprints of Charles Darwin.  Can there be a better excuse than that?

Many decades ago I once took a marine ecology course during my high school years.  It was in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas.  Although life and my career went in another direction the exposure and knowledge acquired has stayed with me over the years.   Perhaps that opportunity so many years ago lit a small flame that has piqued my interest in a small island chain several hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador.  

This is a reboot cruise for me.  Originally booked in the fall of 2020 unfortunately the world had other plans.  As a solo cruiser SilverSea was attractive at the time since they offered a solo fare on their ship specifically built for the Galapagos Islands.  In the aftermath of the pandemic and immediate restart those Galapagos those solo fares disappeared, until I recently found one. 

YOLO!  Booked.

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The Galapagos Islands are subject to a lot of tourism restrictions for all the right reasons.  This drives some of the approach to a cruise ship visit.  As a result part of the fare includes a two night stay on the mainland of Ecuador and the flights to and from mainland to the Galapagos Islands.   Basically you fly to Ecuador which becomes a staging area for the charter flight to the Galapagos islands and the return flight after the cruise.

Normally they use Quito, Ecuador to stage the arrival of guests before the cruise.  After the cruise guests return to Guayaquil, Ecuador for a port cruise staging area before flying home.  As luck would have it the airport in Quito is being closed certain days this year for maintenance.  Consequently my trip will use Guayaquil for both the pre and post cruise staging.  

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This isn't going to be a typical cruise.  Much of this thread will be updated once I'm home.  

With typically two stops per day it's an active cruise where the focus isn't the ship with sea days to read a book and ponder life.  

While the ship may have an internet connection it's not something I plan to use like I would during a typical cruise.  

I may post an occasional update but I hope to be too busy doing other things to run this thread live a live trip report.

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I was pretty nervous booking this trip several months ago with a date in the middle of September since that is peak hurricane season but I had to take advantage of the solo cruise fare when it was available.   It's not offered for every cruise.

Then Lee happened. 

The early Lee projections and timing didn't bode well.  Fortunately it looks like I'm clear to fly.  

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Wow this trip sounds amazing. I can only imagine how beautiful everything will be in person.

I know there are strict rules so you don't introduce anything that could affect the ecosystem, is that why the flight and such are included? Will you have to wash everything before you board the cruise?

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3 hours ago, Ampurp85 said:

Wow this trip sounds amazing. I can only imagine how beautiful everything will be in person.

I know there are strict rules so you don't introduce anything that could affect the ecosystem, is that why the flight and such are included? Will you have to wash everything before you board the cruise?

Not specifically but there is luggage inspection that occurs in Ecuador before departing for the Galapagos.  

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What an amazing cruise that all of us get to enjoy from the eyes of Twangster with amazing photos and insight on his journey.  We definitely are gonna be intrigued with this blog even if some of us are confused just by the cruise map alone.  If i was to steer the ship, doubt would make destination ports in order just sail in complete circles.

What was overall decision to sail Silversea?  1st time? How were options with excursions?  Variety for any levels of activity?  Obviously more about itinerary than ship but will be interested to hear details on passenger count demographic whether more older or younger crowd and of course the food.

Have a great cruise 

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It's Fly Day!  

First time flying Copa Airlines. 

Connecting in Panama to Guayaquil.    I'm hoping to see the Panama Canal from the air but it depends which way they are landing. 

Airport gate announcements were only in Spanish while so far on board they are in Spanish and English. 

If all goes well I'll be in Guayaquil, Ecuador mid-afternoon.

The hotel stay was included in the cruise cost.  

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Smooth flight to Panama.  

It was cloudy coming in but we crossed over from the Atlantic side to the Pacific and did a big loop around.

Flying in to Panama gave me a whole new perspective compared to cruising here.

On the Caribbean side:


Somewhere over the middle of Panama:


We did a big looping flight path to join the pattern of aircraft arriving.  That brought us around on the Pacific side so I could see the Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas.


Ships at anchor waiting their turn.




New locks on left, original locks on the right.  Culebra Cut in the distance.



Panama City on the right is pretty close to the locks on the Pacific side.




The Pacific coastal waters are more shallow and you could see the effect of the tide going out.  


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I flew Business Class on Copa.   Gotta say I think the US airlines could learn a lesson in service from Copa.

Both meals were better than US airlines and they took time to talk about the choices of wines and beer.   No hard liquor though.  

Their newer planes feature lay flat seating.   This is an "older" plane.



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I cannot believe this! There has not been a @twangster blog in forever, and I am late to the party on this one. My apologies. I did not even notice it hidden here. Like everyone else, I cannot wait to follow this one. I am sure beautiful pics will follow, but more so to see and experience this cruise through you. I too have long been curious about these sailings but I don’t know if we would ever do one of these. Happy sailing my friend! 

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SilverSea has a hospitality desk in the hotel lobby. 


Upon entering the hotel they had us sit down and walked us through some paperwork including waivers for snorkeling and kayaking.   They also explained the schedule for the next two days here in Guayaquil and the charter flight to the Galapagos Islands.


Luggage goes through an agricultural check the morning of the flight to the Galapagos.  


In addition to the included group sightseeing tour offered at 4pm on Friday they also offered private tours at a cost.  This is private to your group with an english guide.


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Buffet breakfast in the hotel's 'El Patio' restaurant is included. 

Hotel internet has been good enough for several wifi calls and is also included.  

Dinner last night was a burger and a couple of beers that came to $25 USD including tip.  The burger was $17 and the beers were $4 each so not bad as hotel pricing goes.

As someone who doesn't speak Spanish I've had no issues so far.

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I booked the optional Chocolate Museum and Cable Car tour.  Given it was a private tour I was able to pick the time.

My tour guide would be Corina and she was waiting for me in the hotel lobby when I went down 10 minutes early.

We start with a short walk to the Cable Car station.


Corina explained that many cars are empty due to the high cost of the gondola service compared to other options like city busses.  At $1.40 round trip it may not sound like much but for a typical blue collar worker the $0.60 that the bus charges is easier on the budget even though the bus takes a lot longer especially in traffic.


I found it quite enjoyable, much more so than I think I would in a bus.


A cemetery we pass is watched over by a statue of Jesus Christ on the hill behind it. 



Corina explained a lot about Guayaquil and I enjoyed the full attention and interaction that a private tour offered.  She talked alot about the city, it's beginnings in the 1500s and things like the first modern hospital we passed along the way. 


Soon enough we approached the Guayaquil river.


We passed the Malecón 2000.  She explained that would be included in the sightseeing tour later offered by Silversea and we would also explore parts of it after the cable car ride.


The tallest building in Guayaquil called The Screw.


Once across the river in Duran we didn't venture far from the cable car base as it isn't the best area for tourists.  There was a bathroom available at the cable car station for those that need one. 


We got back on and made the return trip across the river all the while Corina talked about more than I could ever recount in this post.  It was all very informative.


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Once back across the river we left the cable car and started exploring the Malecón 2000.  Our first area would be a botanical garden open to the public.








After leaving the Malecón and exploring some city streets on foot we visited the Cocoa Museum.


I didn't take any pictures inside the museum.  It's a nice museum that goes over the history of cocoa in Ecuador.  It is multiple stories with stairs between floors.  Each floor offered something related to the history of cocoa and the financial impact to the city such as the banking system that evolved from it. A chocolate store nearby smelled really great but I resisted the temptation, for now.

Around Guayaquil you will find a number of murals and wall art such as this one that captured my essence as a photographer.


This discoteque was closed by day but features several prominent people from the history of Guayaquil. 


This one is a tribute to the shipbuilding history of the region going back several centuries.


We continue walking around the city streets of Guayaquil with Corina explaining quite a bit of valuable history and information. 

The Church of San Francisco.



Shortly after a car picked us up and drove us back to the hotel.

I'm really glad I booked this tour and the one on one interaction offered by a private tour.

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2 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

What an awesome form of transportation. Are there “stations” along the route (entrances and exits) or is it just 1 long ride from one side of the river to the other ?

Four passenger stations plus one "technical station" (no passenger traffic, it just manages a turn in the system).  

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The complimentary sightseeing tour offered by Silversea met in the hotel lobby at 4pm.  We filled two busses.   Our first stop was a 10 minute ride from the hotel.

We started at a park known for Iguanas.   



Our guide Jefferson tells us the Iguanas are not afraid of humans.




Turtle pond.


A short walk a few blocks away led us to the Guayaquil Town Hall.



Here our guide Jefferson explained the history of Ecuador becoming an independent country.  



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Across the street from City Hall we walked over to the Malecón.  


Ecuadorian Presidents who are from Guayaquil are honored in statue. 



Jefferson talks more about Guayaquil and the commerce associated with the river.



Back on the bus for a short ride to another area along the river.  Cerro Santa Ana is only accessible by stairs.  A number of houses and shops are all only accessible by climbing the stairs.


We don't climb the stairs but instead we walk along a cobblestone road around the base.



Several older houses have been converted to businesses and we stop by an art studio in a former house along the shore of the river.


We continue along the shore...


Eventually we reach a newer area with modern buildings.


This brings us back to the building I saw on my first tour called The Screw.



Here we board the bus and head back to the hotel.

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It's Saturday morning just before 6am.  My bags are I packed and I'm ready to go!

Checked luggage due down stairs by 7:45am but first a hotel buffet breakfast that opens at 6:30am.  Lots of time.

As SilverSea advised me to do, I cleared my hotel bill last night after dinner.  Apparently the front desk can get very busy on a Saturday morning and they warned me another ship is also using the hotel this weekend.  I waited a few hours after dinner to make sure it had posted to my account.  My three meals with drinks cost me $73 USD.  That was two dinners and a lunch with beers and a cocktail.  Breakfast is complimentary.  

I'm in the blue group with a scheduled bus transfer at 10am so I'll have some time to wait after dropping off my luggage at the Silversea hospitality desk.

I met another solo guest on the tour yesterday afternoon.  She had inquired and was told there are ten solo guests on this sailing.  

I was told the seats on the charter flight are assigned but I won't find out my seat number until later this morning. 

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Right on time our bus left for the airport.

On the bus ride they handed out our Galapagos entry and exit card with the fee already paid along with our LATAM boarding pass. 



I scored a window seat, sort of.  It's an exit row so I'm over the wing.

A few minutes later we were at the airport.

At the LATAM check in counter our luggage was arranged nearby with a blue tag locking it as proof of the agricultural inspection.  LATAM requires every individual passenger to check in with their luggage so we collected our bags and checked in just as you would for a normal flight.  Once that was complete we went through security.  Laptops out but shoes stay on.  

When I landed here the airport terminal reminded me of the old LaGuardia experience.  This flight is operating from a different terminal that is new and modern.


Our chariot to the Galapagos.




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Departing Guayaquil we were able to see more of the extent of this large city.


The flight over to the Galapagos islands was smooth and pretty much a straight shot.


Soon we were able to get our first glimpse of the Galapagos islands.




Kicker Rock, something we will see more of later.


I inadvertently captured the Silver Origin in this next photo.  The ship is towards the left near land waiting an anchor for us.




With that we had arrived to the Galapagos Islands.



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Once through immigration we collected our luggage and rolled them outside to a waiting truck.  From there we would board busses for the short 10 minute trip to the harbor. 



There are a limited number of busses on this island and so we had to wait for a bus to drop off the first set of guests and come back for us.  

A benefit of waiting is that our naturalists were talking about various things and wait...  along comes a giant centipede measuring about six inches long.  These are pretty rare apparently and our guides were excited to see one.


Some of the sights around the village on the ride to the harbor.






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