Wel­come Aboard

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Features -

Se­cur­ing a fait ac­com­pli for those dreams of ex­treme ex­plo­ration, the ideal part­ner­ship of Na­tional Ge­o­graphic and Lind­blad Expeditions lever­ages their highly re­garded rep­u­ta­tions into a riv­et­ing Gala­pa­gos Is­lands ex­pe­di­tion cruise. Prior to board­ing the 96-pas­sen­ger Na­tional Ge­o­graphic

En­deav­our II, guests are gra­ciously hosted overnight in Guayaquil, Ecuador, at the Ho­tel Hil­ton Colon, con­ve­nient for the next morn­ing’s early flight to the gate­way air­port on Bal­tra Is­land.

A brief and flaw­less em­barka­tion pro­ce­dure ush­ers ar­rivals onto this nau­ti­cal base camp of in­vig­o­rat­ing ex­cur­sions ashore. The on­board team of highly ex­pe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ists ex­udes a contagious aura of en­thu­si­asm, gleaned from their smil­ing ex­u­ber­ance and ea­ger­ness to share their love and knowl­edge of this ob­scure cen­ter of bio­di­ver­sity. Even the aes­thet­ics of the strik­ing blue-hulled ship pay tribute to the spirit of the mag­a­zine, ap­pro­pri­ately fit­ted with the hall­mark yel­low bor­der.

With em­pha­sis on the des­ti­na­tions and the in­dige­nous wildlife, there is lit­tle need for ex­ten­sive en­ter­tain­ment or ac­tiv­i­ties, as ex­pert ori­en­ta­tions and slideshows fa­cil­i­tate ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the del­i­cate ecosys­tems of the is­lands.

The ship’s ob­ser­va­tion lounge is an at­trac­tively ap­pointed gath­er­ing point for ed­u­ca­tional pre­sen­ta­tions and sweep­ing 270- de­gree views of the pass­ing ar­chi­pel­ago. A well-stocked li­brary pro­vides am­ple op­por­tu­nity for per­sonal en­light­en­ment, and as might be ex­pected, the ship of­fers cruise com­fort in the form of spa ser­vices for to­tal re­lax­ation af­ter a vi­brant day of is­land in­ter­ac­tion. The up­per Sky Deck al­lows for in­di­vid­ual re­flec­tion and night­time ce­les­tial views of the cos­mic cinema of stars.

Spread over three decks, im­mac­u­late and modern de­signed cab­ins pro­vide more space than ex­pected for an ex­pe­di­tion ship, and cat­e­gory and con­fig­u­ra­tion selec­tions ap­peal to ev­ery bud­get and whim. Meal times are open-seat­ing af­fairs en­cour­ag­ing ca­sual con­ver­sa­tions with new­found friends re­liv­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of the day. Break­fast and lunch are of­fered as buf­fet-style pre­sen­ta­tions with din­ners served by at­ten­tive wait­ers. Menu prepa­ra­tion high­lights lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents with an em­pha­sis on fresh­ness and healthy liv­ing.

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