After our week in Puerto Ayora, we packed our bags and embarked on our 5 night cruise around the western islands of the Galapagos! Since we had such a fantastic experience with the Alya last time, my sister followed suit and booked her cruise on the Alya as well. Bridge and I were excited to be back on the boat, but were a little disappointed that we didn’t recognize most of the staff on board. We had loved our previous cruise so much we were hoping to see all the familiar faces again!
My roomie this time was little Brady, and it was really sweet waking up to his cute face every morning. This cruise’s itinerary did not feel as packed and taxing as our previous one, and we all took turns staying behind on some of the excursions since Brady did not have the energy or interest to be out and about all day.
The excursions on the western island cruise seemed a lot more suitable for elderlies and younger children. There were more activities that allowed us to see the wildlife while remaining in the panga, which meant less walking and hiking. We were originally worried about the amount of hiking for Brady, because it was quite strenuous even for our family when we were cruising the southern islands, but our worries were soon put to rest when we realized that a lot of wildlife viewing on this cruise would be done from the panga.
The only overlapping activity for both the southern and western cruises were the ones in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. That meant we got to see those amazing giant tortoises again, and this time, in the pouring rain!
Similar to our previous cruise on the Alya, we’d begin each day with an early breakfast in the dining area, head off on our first activity of the day by about 8-9am, return to the Alya for lunch and a bit of rest, and then proceed with 1 or 2 more activities in the afternoon. These activities ranged from panga rides to hikes to snorkeling, but always with an abundance of wildlife sightings!
Since our family consisted of 6, we pretty much occupied entirely one of the two dining tables on the Alya, which explains why we did not forge a strong bond with any of the other passengers this time around. Occasionally, we did switch around the table seating a bit to chat with the other passengers, and that allowed us to at least get a small glimpse into whom these other people were! There was a German couple (early retirees) that was spending an extended amount of time in the Galapagos to ride out the Germany lockdown. There was a couple from Florida that was in the medical field and decided to keep a distance from the rest of us just to be extra safe. The was an American couple and another single American woman, all whom had retired and moved to Ecuador. Lastly, there was one Ecuadorian couple that my brother in law Brian especially enjoyed chatting with because both were avid photographers.
We spent a lot more time on board the Alya during this cruise, and it was especially wonderful to lay on the top deck as we watched the birds glide against our boat with the sun setting right in front of us. The girls even did some of their school work on the top deck as we were sailing! Talk about an idyllic classroom setting for them!
Other highlights included celebrating Bree’s birthday on board (special thanks to Alya for providing items for us to decorate Bree’s room to surprise her, and for the lovely cake Blanca of La Isla Hotel arranged to be brought to the Alya), the dolphin sighting one day while we were hanging out on the front of the boat, the pouring rain during a few of our excursions, and the party we had on the Captain’s bridge when we reached the equator.
It was truly a magical week getting to experience the Galapagos Islands once again, this time with our favorite family the Chuangs! Everything is always so much better when you get to share them with people that you love. We thank the Lord for the gift of time, and the resources needed, to have such extraordinary experiences! 😊