The dawn was just lighting our morning when we assembled for our trip to the airport and on to the Island of Baltra in the Galapagos. Everyone was eager to get out of the city and on to the beautiful wildlife we had come great distances to see.
Our two hour flight was punctuated with a second breakfast of quiche, fruit, coffee, juice, etc., all served on a tray placed on a white linen placemat and with real silverware. It was first class even though we hadn’t booked the first class seats (and paid an extra $200+).
The approach to Baltra took us over and around several islands and finally our plane landed at the small airport that must have been a part of the military base there at one time. Renovations were underway and it appeared that the place we gathered in before we were cleared through customs, was all brand new. Carry-ons were x-rayed again to be sure we didn’t carry anything with seeds that would upset the ecological balance of the islands.
Several buses took our group of 90 to a small dock area in a bay where the zodiacs awaited our arrival to take us to our ship, the Celebrity Xpedition. We donned life vests that were worn like a sleeveless jacket and were helped into the zodiacs for our first of many rides to follow. As we got our instructions about safety, I couldn't help but remember with a smile our instructions for our life jackets for the zodiacs on our Antarctica cruise. At least this water would be a bit warmer if we fell in.
At the rear of the ship was a large thick net where the zodiac could point its nose and hold position while the passengers disembarked. We were taught the special “handshake”—hand to other’s elbow for a firm grip as we exited.
On board, our group of 16 was led by a naturalist to a seating area in the lounge where he explained a few more things about procedures and outlined what we were about for the day. The purser aboard then gave us our room keys and a steward to lead us to our staterooms.
We just happened to be the last to give our names and when we did she looked around as if something were wrong. Then in a lowered voice, she said that Miami had given us an upgrade and instead of a regular room on the fourth deck we were now in a suite on five. If we were unhappy, she would try to make other arrangements.
Unhappy? We had a littler larger room with a balcony and a cabin steward who was almost like a butler. A plate of fresh fruit in the morning. Hors d'oeuvres every afternoon. Granted it broke one of my rules—never get a stateroom too high up on a ship but the balcony made up for my misdeed. I love a balcony. Hopefully we would find that the weather was such that we could enjoy it.
Unlike other ships since this one is so small, there was only one muster station. It was the first life boat drill I have attended where the life boats were actually positioned as they would be in an emergency and several in the crowd were asked to board to show how it was done.
Rain wet our introduction to the Galapagos as the ship cruised around Daphne Island but we were treated to a half dozen red throated frigates perching on the ship’s ladders above us. Unfortunately with the rain, I couldn't get a really good photo.
We eagerly looked forward to our first briefing to see what was on for the next day and of course dinner to follow. The night would be spent however, rocking and rolling as we made our way to Espanola Island. Thank goodness for Bonine.