Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Where Time Stands Still

The volcanic landscape created millions of years ago. Cruising the Galapagos Islands
The volcanic landscape created millions of years ago ©MDHarding

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is one of the best ways to discover the thirteen visitable islands and see the rare species. I was lucky to have been able to experience the wonders of the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises onboard the Celebrity Xpedition Ship.

The Galapagos Islands is an archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador, South America. The oldest island, Espanola, dates back 3.4 million years. The baby of the group is Isabella at 1 million years old. Islands are disappearing and new islands are forming all the time, as the tectonic plates are still very much active.

Discovered in 1535 by Tom Fray, they are now part of the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Each of the islands is unique and hosts many species of flora and fauna. Time seems to have stood still in the Galapagos.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Walk over the Pahoehoe lava fields.
Walk over the Pahoehoe lava fields ©MDHarding

Cruising the Galapagos Islands

Celebrity cruises offer a packages including a pre-cruise two-night stay in Quito, the cultural heart of Ecuador. The package includes a city tour and transfers, internal flights to Baltra and all inclusive on-board services.

There are a few different itineraries, varying in durations and islands visited. As well as taking a cruise there is accommodation in Santa Cruz and you can take daily boat trips.

You can enjoy cruising the Galapagos Islands all year round.

Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)

The closest island to the mainland, San Cristobal is known for its boot-like shape. We had a calm and sunny day to enjoy cocktails on deck and watch the colourful male frigate birds flying overhead.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: See the colourful Frigate birds soaring above the ship.
See the colourful frigate birds soaring above the ship ©MDHarding

Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)

Gardner Bay has a beautiful white sandy beach with aquamarine water.  It’s home to a colony of sea lions and the waved albatross.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Hungry baby Albatross, Espanola Island.
Hungry baby albatross, Espanola Island ©MDHarding

With the islands having no real predators, the animals are fearless and very curious! This allows you to experience close and personal moments.

Cormorant Point & Post Office (Floreana)

This island is rich with vegetation, unlike its younger siblings. Visit the historical wooden barrel left in 1793 by a whaling crew, still used as a post box today. Hear the colourful stories of buccaneers, colonists and convicts of times gone by. The first resident on the island was an Irish man named Patrick Watkins, who lived there from 1807 to 1809.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Postbox made from a barrel
Is there any mail you can help deliver? ©MDHarding

Punta Moreno &  Urivina Bay (Isabela)

This island was named after Queen Isabela of Spain.

Here pahohoe lava fields are dotted with blue lagoons. The sun beating down while pink flamingos dance in the shimmering waters is a beautiful sight. The vegetation on the island is limited and mainly encompasses three different kinds of cacti: candelabra cactus, prickly pear and lava cactus. While cruising the Galapagos you can see panoramic views of the three most active volcanos: the Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: One of the lagoon's encrusted by the lava fields.
One of the lagoon’s encrusted by the lava fields ©MDHarding

At Urivina Bay look out for the tortoises. The slow moving creatures give you plenty of time to get that perfect photo.

Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) & Punta Espinoza (Fernandina)

Fernandina is home to La Cumbre Volcano, which last erupted in 2009.

While cruising the Galapagos, visit Punta Vicente for great snorkeling with sea turtles and Molo Molo (sunfish).

At Punta Espinoza, take a stroll over the lava fields and witness the gazillions of marine iguanas! Some of the other wildlife to be seen are the sea lions and sea turtles. You may see flightless cormorants, lava herons and possibly the Galapagos hawk.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Iguanas sunbathing.
See the masses sunbathing ©MDHarding

Dragon Hill, South Plaza & Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz)

Dragon Hill is named after the many land iguanas in the area. Walk through three different environments on the short 1600-metre-long trail.

South Plaza has the colourful and vibrant ground vegetation Sesuvium. See the prickly cactus and enjoy the panoramic sea views. Red-billed tropic birds, Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest on the cliff’s edge.

Cruising the Galapagos Islands: Seal pup in colourful Sesuvium.
Seal pup in colourful Sesuvium ©MDHarding

While cruising the Galapagos, visit the Charles Darwin Centre in Puerto Avora and see the incredible work they do. The centre was once home to Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island tortoise. George lived over 100 years and was known as the rarest creature in the world. He was preserved and exhibited at the Natural History Museum in New York before returning to Galapagos.

There are some lovely restaurants and gift shops to be explored in Santa Cruz. If you’re looking for something special to take home, the carved palm nuts are unique to the islands.

Don’t miss the blue-footed boobies and vibrant Sally Lightfoot crabs!

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About MichelleDeansHarding

Website: http://WWW.MDHardingTravelPhotography.com

 Michelle has a love of travel and photography, which has currently taken her to six continents. Experiencing other cultures/history and food both independently and while working on-board luxury cruise ships. Discover more about Michelle, her enthusiasm for travel and photography via: www.MDHardingTravelPhotography.com

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