But nobody comes on this trip to the Galapagos for the ship, the cabin, or the food. They come for the real adventure that is the Galapagos. The entire island chain and the sea that surrounds them is an Ecuadorian National Park with rigidly enforced rules designed to preserve and protect what is there for future generations to see. Our Zodiacs took us to eight islands, always under the guidance of one or more of the five park trained naturalist guides aboard the Polaris. These folks have an encyclopedic knowledge of the terrain, the vegetation, and of course the reptiles, birds, and animals. They manage to pass on their knowledge not by rote, but entertainingly, so that every outing becomes more fascinating than the last. Each day there are a number of excursion options, some more rugged than others, but always something for everyone. There is swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, a glass bottomed boat, and even a 'spa' boat with a glass window in the bottom so you can have a massage while watching for exotic fish or green turtles swimming by underneath. The ship has all the equipment that you might need, supplied to you free.
As mentioned, this was a photo trip and that is why we chose this particular date. About half of the passengers indicated they were there for that reason, and to take advantage of the better light photo groups generally went out first in morning and last in the evening. For the first two days we went out with the photo groups but found it difficult with everyone trying for the best spot and no discipline maintained. The professionals are not in charge as in Lindblad's other photo excursions (the naturalists are), and other than throwing out an occasional comment such as "this is good place to use polarizers", seemed interested mostly in getting pictures for their own portfolio. Once we changed to the nature groups, we were able to get more and better images, and we found that about a half dozen other photographers had already made the same switch for similar reasons. However both professionals were in the lounge every evening, working on their pictures, but ready to help anyone with questions or seeking comment. One wonders if a better choice would not have been hiring teachers from a photo school, rather than engaging stock photographers, for this type of a trip.
Lindblad is a first class operation -- from the time their representative meets you in the Miami Airport till they transport your baggage for you to the Quayaquil airport on the way home. While they may not feature the most modern facilities, this is overridden by the planning, training, and enthusiasm of their staff and their interest in you. You'll not regret this trip.