Subject: Re: Galapagos
Hi Ziners!

In answer to Reggie's questions:

The Cachalote had enough snorkeling equipment for all 16 passengers. However, of the 16 travelers, 7 brought their own. The equipment was totally fine and cost $15 pp for the week.

Coffee, tea, water and juice were always available and included in the cost. As I recall, beer was $2.50 per bottle, wine the same per glass and hard liquor was $5 per glass. The bar was a self serve bar. Sign your name, cabin number and what it was you helped yourself to. At the end of the voyage we settled up with the steward. All charges were to be paid in cash--charge cards not accepted. The tips for the crew were also pooled and put into the "tip" box at the end of the voyage with the exception of the guide. We tipped him directly as Juan/Janito is an independent guide and not assigned directly to a specific boat.

Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner were plentiful, excellent and very varied. We still marvel at the fact that the cook made pizza one evening for all of us! It was wonderful that he can feed all including the crew out of his small kitchen!

We had plenty of hot water! No problem! On the Cachalote there are 7 double cabins below deck and 1 masters cabin just off the main dining room/lounge. We went for the masters cabin and were very happy. It was still small but had a double bed, nice bathroom, closet and night stand. We also didn't have as much engine noise as those below and to the rear. Although I must admit that no one really complained about the engine noise. We were all too happy to be where we were!

As for the class III guide, all my research prior to the trip indicated that the ships list the class of guide that will be on board. I must say that early reservations are important as there are only a given number of boats and tourists permitted in the islands. The park is highly regulated and should be. All tourists entering the park must pay $100 in US currency. Make sure the bills are not $100 bills (they don't like them), brand new bills (they don't like them either) or old ripped bills (you got it, they don't like them). We paid with $20s which were very presentable! We had no problem!

Lastly, Ecuador and Panama use the US$ as their currency. Charge cards are rarely accepted, cash is the method of payment and small bills are most useful as it is common for no one to have change for your $20 bill! We learned a great deal about money belts traveling for the month between the 2 countries!

Hope this helps! Jane, Boca Raton