Location: Santa Cruz, Baltra, and Daphne Major, Galapagos
We woke up early this morning. Not because we had too, but because we got to bed early last night, we’re still on east coast time, and a loud rooster was not far from the hotel. We spent some time packing up, and playing on the internet then headed down to have breakfast in the courtyard. It was a yummy and generous sized breakfast for two people. It didn’t take long for the birds to realize that we were eating and soon Tippy Headrin (Ryan) was surrounded by a couple dozen finches and other birds eager to eat any loose crumbs that fell off his plate when he was looking the other way. Like all other animals here, the small birds have no natural fear of humans, and would only fly away if we made any sudden moves in their directions.
After breakfast we left the hotel and made our way from Puerto Ayora to Baltra airport. We did the same journey as yesterday but in reverse. It took about 70 minutes to get to the airport. Along the way, Ryan spotted two Galapagos tortoises, but we were travelling too fast to get any pictures.
We arrived at the airport and met with the Celebrity Cruises representative. We were the first people to arrive for the cruise. He showed us to the Celebrity VIP lounge were was had access to food and drinks. Over the course of the next hour and a half, other passengers would trickle in from incoming flights. We were notified that the ship was ready for us and that we could board the ship. So the 16 early arrivals (most other passengers took the pre-cruise Quito add-on) made our way to a shuttle that took us to the port on the north side of the island.
We boarded the first zodiac (panga) to leave the port and made our way to the Xpedition. The panga ride took about 5 minutes to get to the ship. We were the first ones to board the ship (and thinking of Leigh’s life goal the whole time).
We got a quick cruise briefing and our room keys. And just like any other first day on a ship: we dropped our stuff off in the room, got lunch, and decided to explore the ship.
Exploring the ship took less than 5 minutes. It’s just not that big. It has a lounge, hot tub, a few decks chairs. The lounge is used for nearly all briefings, and its the only place on the ship with wifi (although we still could get a wifi signal nearby).
Most of the rest of the day consisted of getting us educated for the rest of the week. Our first briefing was the mandatory safety briefing and muster drill. This coincidentally happened at the same time as the fourth quarter of the NYG-Eagles games. We’ve heard this briefing before (in the event of a water landing…) but it had a few twists from the normal cruise safety briefings. Ryan paid close attention… to the gamecast on his phone. And he in no way was loud, made a scene, or drew attention to himself when the eagles won with a 61 yd field goal. FLY EAGLES FLY!
Next the ship raised anchor and made its way to Daphne Major and nearby volcanic island. This small island juts out of the sea with no obvious way to make landings. So the ship sailed around it. The island is most famous for the recent(ish) work of two researchers who have been returning to this island twice a year to survey the various finch species. Through their research they were able to show adaptation and evolution in action through the natural generation of a new finch species. This scenic cruising lasted less than an hour. We got some good pictures of the island with its geological layers.
Meanwhile various frigate bids began flying in our wake, providing great photo opportunities.
Along the way, we passed by some rocks sticking out of the water. It was populated by lots of seabirds and sea lions.
Later in the evening we had a briefing on how to snorkel and what excursion options were available to us tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will visit Rabida Island. In the morning we will go for a long hike and snorkel near Port Egas. In the afternoon we’ll go for a panga ride in Elizabeth Bay followed by more snorkeling.
Total watercraft: 3
Total steps: 6,175
The internet is faster and more reliable than we were expecting. It looks like we’ll be able to update the blog every night, but we may be a little limited in the amounts of wildlife photos we can upload.
Also… Rachel was watching the Redskins gamecast while we were writing this… HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!