After a quick shower and change from shorts and sandals, it was time to join a discussion led by the ship's expert naturalists.
One of them, Mari Carmen, explained that the name "Galapagos" is the Spanish word for a certain kind of saddle. Early sailors, seeing the shape of that saddle in the curve of the back of one of the species of giant tortoises on which they dined regularly, bestowed the name that has lured many a curious traveler.
After the naturalists filled our minds we were eager for the excellent food and service of the evening meal. Sea bass, lobster, stuffed manicotti, ethnic Ecuadorian specialsevery meal ended with praise for the chef. The leisurely dinners were sometimes followed by late evening lounging in the hot tub under the stars.
Back in my stateroom at bedtime, I put my feet up and gazed through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Small islands, sailing yachts, and the tropical moon drifted by as the Santa Cruz sailed through the night toward the morning's destination.
Give it a "10"
Tour brochures speak of the Galapagos Islands in terms of unique mammals, reptiles, and birdsand of how tame they are. The true allure is even more compelling.
The Galapagos Islands are ideal for travelers who want to watch a small world in transition; who want to think about why cacti, marine iguanas, and humans develop as they do. And, of course, the Galapagos Islands are a great place to reflect on that supremely curious fellow, Charles Darwin. In the Galapagos, evolution is much too slow to capture on film but not too slow to capture in the imagination. It's not the Garden of Eden, but I rate the Galapagos a solid "10."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication