Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 2, Sunday, March 11, 2012, Travel to Balta and Half Day on the Xpedition

This morning we got up and had breakfast at about 7am.  We were to be in the lobby at 7:30 in order to pick up our boarding passes..  After that, we took our third suitcase and stored it at the hotel for our return when the cruise is over.  Then at 8:30 am we boarded the bus to go back to the airport.

Once at the airport, we went through metal detection screening and headed to the wait area.  We were flying on Aero Gal (short for Aerolingus Galapagos).  Although we were delayed a bit for the plane’s late arrival at the airport, we eventually boarded.  It was a very modern Airbus A319 that included five flight attendants, and complementary lunch.  The flight took about 2 hours to arrive on the island of Baltra in the Galapagos.  The Galapagos islands are located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.  The airport was barely an airport.  We went through a Galapagos immigration entry and then had all carryon inspected looking again for fruits, veggies, and seeds.  After that, we boarded a bus for the pier.

On the pier, we donned life jackets and got into the zodiacs for the short ride out to the ship.  

Upon arriving, we were greeted with a nice cold wash cloth and then proceeded to the Discovery lounge for check-in.  That taken care of, we were shown to our room and started to settle down.  We are in cabin 306.  There are 3 decks with cabins and the ship can handle about 92 guests.  We were told that they had 77 guests for this particular trip.  Our cabin was small with only a window, but reasonably well appointed.  Eventually our luggage showed up and we unpacked.  We spent about 5 minutes exploring the ship.  Which is pretty simple, deck 3 had the restaurant, deck 4 has the Discovery lounge and an outside grill and eating area, deck 5 has an outside bar and some tables and chairs and lastly deck 6 has a Jacuzzi, a fitness area with a couple of stationary bikes and elliptical machines, the massage place, and another deck with chairs to lounge (both covered and uncovered).

We had our mandatory life boat drill, an orientation, and then got ready to set sail.  

At a bit before 5pm, we proceeded to sail around Daphne Islands, which are two small cone volcano islands.  The larger one Daphne Major showed less erosion, and had a collection of birds that we could see flying around (mostly frigates and Nazca boobies).  However, we were a LONG way away from the islands and could only barely make out the birds.  This is a frigate:

The smaller Daphne Minor had most of its outside eroded and looked somewhat like a crater tube.

We then proceeded to anchor the boat just around the island from where we started (Baltra).  They did this so we could be in relatively calm seas while we were having dinner.  Before dinner, we had to go up and pick up snorkel gear, which includes a wet suit, mask and snorkel, fins, optional vest, and bag to hold it all.
Once dinner was over, we hit the sack and got ready for the next day.

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