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SS Mary Anne Galapagos Cruise

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Location: Galapogas

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      15.05.2013 22:08
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      A fabulous way to spend a week

      THE MARY ANNE
      This was the ship we sailed the Eastern Galapagos Islands on. She is a beautiful three mast tall ship built in Germany with full allocation of ails used at different times depending on the winds at the time.
      This could be a long one as there is so much to say but I will not go into what we did on the different islands; this will just be about the ship and our experience on there.

      We were met by the Naturalist guide from the ship at Baltra airport and taken on a bus to the zodiac boats. Our main luggage was left at the airport with the ship's staff and brought over to the ship by them and delivered to our cabins. We took our personal hand baggage onto the zodiacs and to the Mary Anne ourselves. Our guide was called Carolina and for ease I will refer to her by her name.

      Before we got on the zodiacs which were large rubber dinghies she explained that we should put on the lifejackets and then before we got onto the zodiac or panga as they are sometimes called we should pass over our backpacks to the boys on the zodiac. She then showed us how to hold onto the ship staff hands as we got on and off. They were excellent and every stage was carefully explained and demonstrated so there were no accidents.

      When we arrived on the Mary Anne we were told to head to the stern of the ship where we would always take off our lifejackets for storage. We were also asked to remove our walking shoes and store them in a box at the stern too. Whilst on the ship we could walk around barefoot or put on clean shoes. I loved being barefooted but my husband can't walk around with no shoes and ended up wearing his water shoes on board as I thought him and flip flops would be a lethal combination going up and down the steep steps.

      We were then given a bit of a tour of the ship, where the bar, the library and the seating areas were. We were told we could go anywhere except the crew's quarters. We were welcome in the captains' deck but told we should not pres any buttons!!

      At this stage we were allocated our cabins and we went down to check them out. The steps down to the cabin area were narrow and steep but had handle bars both sides. Some people went down backwards but I found it fine going down forwards either slightly sideways or with me feet splayed outwards as the steps were so narrow. This was not a trip for anyone wth mobility issues as the steps were step and getting on and off the zodiac a few times a day also required dexterity and good balance.

      THE CABIN
      Our cabin was quite small and had a good sized double bed in it with a single bunk above. I think to get on and off that top bunk required some skill and effort and the only time I did was to had some washing or our undies on the port hole cover to get a little sunshine. My husband never achieved the climb and it was not for the elderly I would say. We used the top bunk for extra storage of things we used daily like our hats, cameras, guide books and bits that we didn't hang on the hooks or put in the cupboards.

      We had three pillows, two quite hard spongy ones and one softer down one. The bed was quite hard with a wooden base and foam mattress. Above each side was a reading lamp and a I was on the inner side I put my book and reading glasses in a small nook above our bed under the top bunk as I always read longer than my husband.
      Beside the main bed was a shelf unit and under the shelf a closed cupboard and an open hole for storage. Under the top bunk at the end of the main bed was a large cupboard with hanging rail and hangers as well as our two life jackets - large orange ones for if there was a problem with the ship. We stored our bags in there under the life jackets.

      My clothes were stored in two drawers under the bed while mu husband stored his in the large shelves in the bathroom beside the shower. There was plenty of storage space but I would suggest soft bags rather than large suitcases are better as they will squash down when empty.

      The bathroom had a shower with handles for when it was a bit rough and a shower curtain. We also had a toilet with flush handle like a normal toilet. Upstairs the public toilet had a foot flush which I find a bit more tricky. The basin was in a unit with a large storage cupboard underneath which we didn't use and a good shelf surrounding it. The drinking and teeth cleaning water was topped up daily in a plastic bottle stored in a wooden surround beside two plastic glasses also in wooden surrounds.

      Above the sink was a series of shelves either side of a mirror but behind the mirror was the cupboard where we stored all our toiletries. I always made sure everything was in the cupboard in case the sea was choppy then nothing would end up rolling around the bathroom. There was no hair dryer and the small travel one I took ended up catching fire and fusing all the lights in our room. I am not sure if it was the fault of the hair dryer or if the electricity was odd but which ever way I ended up with no hair dryer and it was brand new for this trip! After the first day or so I just got used to having rather strange hair styles.

      The ship provided us with bio degradable soap, shower gel and shampoo plus they left two small bottles of biodegradable conditioner which I used quite a lot of during my week as we swam in the sea daily snorkeling near different islands.

      I also took biodegradable washing powder so I could wash our socks and undies and a few of my husband's sweaty shirts. The shirts dried quite easily over night and during the next day hanging over the shower then the hanging rail in the bathroom. The undies that were thick and the socks took a while longer. Swim suits and swimming shirts could be hung out side on rails around the top deck so I did put a couple of T shirts there too but I think knickers and socks might not go down well. I suppose it depends on how fussy you are with dirty clothes but I hate smelly clothes being packed with my clean stuff even in plastic bags it still seems to permeate. Silly, I know as I always wash everything when we get back after a holiday too.

      FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!
      There was so much food you could out on a stone even with two hikes a snorkel and another activity. Breakfast was usually quite early, varying from 6.30am to 7.30 am. On the table was a huge array of food. We always had tea, coffee and a different fruit juice each day and there was always some kind of fresh fruit sliced up. Two cereal pots one had corn flakes and the other granola/muesli which was very popular but I didn't see anyone going for the cornflakes. You could use milk or yoghurt for the cereal or just have yoghurt or have it anyway you chose. There was always a plate of mixed cheese and a plate of cold meat and then the hot menu varied from scrambled eggs with various things in it such as spinach or mushrooms. The choice was endless and varied from corn patties to fried eggs and so on but as I don't eat a hot breakfast I forget all the variations, suffice to say that there was no shortage of food.

      Lunch was a three course meal with soup always to start with except on Sunday when we had cebice to start with. The main course varied from chicken done in various ways to different fish all served with a variety of vegetables and all very tasty. One day we had pasta with a choice of four sauces so you could have all of them or a combination of which you fancied and they were all good so I had a little of each, an alfredo cheesy one, a tomato one, a veggie one and a pesto one and fresh grated parmesan to go with it. Deserts were usually a bowl of jelly or a small piece of cake or a chocolate pudding and every day was something different.

      The evening meal could either be three or two courses. One evening we had steak and other evenings it varied from chicken to fish but obviously it was different to the lunch menu. A couple of days I asked for the chicken to be removed from my plate as I didn't want a big meal and was happy with the vegetables alone. They brought me an omlette instead which was sweet but as I don't eat egg I slipped it onto my husband's plate. A few days later it was chicken again and instead of chicken I was brought my meal with two pieces of fish and I didn't even ask for no chicken, they had remembered . My husband was actually going to have my chicken so was a bit disappointed but enjoyed the second piece of fish just as much!

      One of the other passengers did not eat any seafood and so they always brought him a special meal. When another passenger was feeling a bit ill they made him special soup for his meals. Nothing was too much trouble and all the staff were lovely, friendly and helpful. They didn't speak a lot of English but we got by with Spanglish and hand signs and smiles.

      As well as all this food after we came back from a hike there was always cold water and squash on the table at the stern with bowls of fresh whole fruit, corn chips and honey coated peanuts. In the evening after the hike there was always a plate of something snack like, mini kebabs, olives, peanuts, pizza slice and so on.

      IN THE MAIN PUBLIC AREA
      There was a book shelf full of reference guides you could refer to in order to find out which birds you had seen or which fish and so one. The other shelf was a bit more like a boo exchange so I added two books to the shelf and took one as I was running low. There were plenty of couches and two circled low coffee type tables which is where we tended to gather for our evening drinks and two were around higher tables which is where we found people making notes, uploading photos and things like that.

      There was a also a large TV and you could use the various dvds but I didn't see anyone doing that. We gathered there for our short lectures and briefings about our daily activities usually with our evening drinks before dinner.

      The bar area also had a water filter machine with hot or cold water constantly available as well as various tea, coffee , Milo, hot chocolate and more. Also beside the bar were a few bowls of snacks, boiled sweet chocolate and biscuits in packs which if after the three meals you were still hungry you could help yourself to.

      At the stern of the ship were tables and sets which you could use to relax there but we also sometimes ate our meal there. Every breakfast was there and most lunches but some evenings if it was very windy or very choppy we ate inside near the bar area.

      If you felt the need for more sunshine there were top decks that you could take a deck chair and sit on but to be truthful I felt I had as much sun as I needed with the hikes and snorkels so I stayed in the shaded areas when not being active.

      OTHER BITS THAT MAY BE HANDY TO KNOW
      This is a sailing ship and if the weather was good and the wind in the right direction they did put up the sails. Passengers who wished could help the crew hoist the sails or you could just watch and enjoy the beauty of the sails. Once they were up the ship did list a bit so you did have to be aware of where you pout things so that they didn't slide to meet you.

      Snorkels and masks are provided so you don't need to bring them and you can hire wetsuits from the ship too but I am not sure of the cost as I didn't use them as it really wasn't necessary. Initially the sea was a bit cold but you got used to it and if you wanted to get out you only had to raise your hand and the zodiac would come and pick you up. As you got back into the zodiac there were dry, clean towels handed to you. These towels were then collected and dried ready for next time.

      If it was a dry landing from the zodiac you put on your walking shoes. You certainly need closed in decent trainers for most of the islands as they were rocky and uneven. Some people wore solid closed in toed sandals but to be honest the trainers I think were the most comfortable. If it was a wet landing then you needed to make sure you shorts were shirt enough or could roll up then carry your walking shoes. Once on land you then had to dry your feet off and get the sand off them with a small towel provided by the guide and put your shoes on before heading off on the walks. You were always asked to rinse the bottom of your shoes off in the sea so that there was no cross contamination between islands. Also once back on the ship the hose was running on deck to rinse of your feet or shoes if it had been a dry landing.

      ESSENTIAL THINGS TO BRING

      Good walking shoes or trainers with grips and solid soles.

      At least one swim suit and if you really want a wet suit for snorkeling and have one then it might be handy but you can hire them.

      If you struggle walking around in bare feet them bring some shoes for the ship that you can walk up and down steep steps in.

      Plenty of sunscreen and high factor water resistant stuff.
      Insect repellent and bit relief stuff as many islands have sandflies and we did come across mosquitoes too and we were bitten despite having the repellent.

      Binoculars as many of the birds are some distance away. Cameras and if you have decent telephoto lenses then the photos are much better we found. We also bought an underwater camera and that was quite fun for when snorkeling. Interestingly quite a few had the same Lumix waterproof camera as we did for that purpose.

      T shirts with caped or short sleeves to keep your shoulders from getting burned and shorts for the hikes or those you can roll up or down.

      Good sunglasses as it is very bright and a hat with a brim or a back flap to stop your neck getting burned as sometimes you are out for three or four hours in the sun. If you want a T shirt for snorkeling might be handy but we didn't bother just used lots of sun screen then wrapped a towel around us on the boat once we were out of the sea.

      I would suggest that a soft bag is better than a suit case and you don't need posh clothes for the evening. It can be a bit cooler in the evening so a long sleeved top and trousers might be handy but you could wear the same one for a few days.

      There are plenty of flat two pin power points in the cabin and in the lounge area so batteries can be charged and laptops etc. I would suggest large capacity SD cards for you camera as there is so much to photograph and our cards quickly got full and we deleted daily any rubbish. We also had a separate card for our under water use so that if some disaster happened underwater we would not also lose our other photos. We swapped them over once the camera was rinsed in fresh water and dry.

      RECOMMENDED?
      Well that is a silly question. It is a fabulous destination and this is a fabulous ship with all mod cons, great food and lovely staff.

      If you get the opportunity then the Galapagos islands are a treat for wildlife enthusiasts and this was a lovely way of getting from island to island.

      This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
      ©Catsholiday

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