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Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

Wisconsin
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Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

We recently returned from an week on the M/Y Letty. As you may be aware, Ecoventura operates three sister ships which are virtually identical. Apparently Ecoventura also tries to match up guests with similar profiles onto each Yacht, i.e., we were switched from the M/Y Eric to the Letty and were with a group of active adults, the families with children where on the Flamingo, and a whole family group was on the Eric. We rarely overlapped on land or snorkeling with the other boats. That was a great service provided by Ecoventura and made our trip one of the best of my lifetime.

We arrived in Quito two days before our sailing and toured Quito and Otavalo in the Highlands. (I will review that in the Quito forum.) We stayed at the Mansion del Angel which was also wonderful. We dined at the Theatrum, which was very nice as well. Upon delivery to the Quito airport, an Ecoventura representative was at the ticket counter to take care of us and our bags. Everything flowed seamlessly. We were given our ship assignments and airline tickets as well as park passes, etc. The flight from Quito to Guayaquil to the Galapagos was fine on Aerogal, even serving a breakfast along the way!

Arrival at San Cristobal was again well organized with the Ecoventura Naturalists there to escort us to a bus and then to the ship. After clearing the airport we were on the M/Y Letty for lunch and off to our first snorkel within the hour. Our bags were taken care of by Ecoventura from the time we got to the Quito airport and were waiting for us in our stateroom on the Letty. We were on the Dolphin deck and the stateroom was more than adequate for being on a yacht. One suggestion would be to bring a duffel bag type luggage that does not have a hard bottom. Ours had a wheeled hard bottom that did not store well in the closet. The M/Y Letty was excellently maintained, clean, and spacious. The sun deck had plenty of shade or sun as you desired. Adequate storage was in our stateroom with a few underbed drawers, a nightstand and a closet with a couple of shelves. Hanging hooks are in the rooms, but we did occasion stretch out a clothes line to dry undies and socks. (The high tech travel underwear from packlite.com are really comfortable and clean and dry quickly. I brought three pair for the trip and it worked out great. I was concerned with the price initially, but I think they are worth it if you travel.) Hanging out wet clothes on deck, or in the sun dried things amazingly fast despite the high humidity. We took mostly very light weight, high tech, UV resistant clothes, which dried quickly and packed well. No need for formal attire, spent much of the time in a bathing suit.

The first stop was to get into the water and try out your snorkel gear. The beach was nice and we were met by sea lions. After the beach we headed out to view the sunset and Split rock and it’s birds. Then it was cruising the night away on the way to Genovesa. The yacht does rock and roll a bit across the open ocean, so if you are prone to seasickness, take your appropriate medication, just remember some of them give you a bit of drowsiness (which can help you sleep) but also give some people a ‘hang-over.’ We have no problems with seasickness and did just fine throughout the trip, but there were a couple nights when you felt like you might get rolled out of bed!

Each day we had a pleasant wake up call over the PA, breakfast and then off to snorkel or hike. The island landings were simple, some wet and some dry. One gentleman with a lot of large expensive camera equipment apparently didn’t understand that a wet landing meant that you might get wet and did not bring any bags for his camera gear! Please bring a water proof backpack or bag with some large plastic bags to protect your gear. He did end up dropping one camera in the water, but he had several back-ups. Lesson learned! The staff really tries to make it easy and safe for you, but these are rugged islands and a very active vacation!

The hikes were hot and humid, but the pace was very acceptable. Neither my wife or myself are in the best of physical condition, but we had no problems keeping up. Did occasional feel like we were melting however! It was quite enjoyable to have a snorkel trip after working up a sweat while hiking. We wore either tennis shoes or Keene closed toe sandals (water-proof) and had no problems. Water shoes for the wet lands or beach walks were good as well. On board we either went barefoot or wore flipflops. Some people were happy with hiking boots, but I don’t think they are required for the trails.

Animals, fish, plants & landscapes of the Galapagos are amazing. If you are a person who likes to take photos, expect to take a thousand photos over the week. Some people seemed to take that many a day! Just depends on your interests. I took a small netbook and downloaded photos each night as a backup, as well as a flashdrive. Taking decent photos is pretty easy when you have such cooperative subjects.

Each day we generally did two activities in the morning and again in the afternoon after a short siesta. It is a very ACTIVE trip. The ongoing joke was “ you have 15 minutes to get ready for the next adventure.” Our guides were Gabby and Ceci and they were out-of-this-world fantastic! Their knowledge, caring and concern were unbeatable. They were always available to answer any question, provide some entertainment at the briefings each night, or just lend a hand with anything. Hat’s off to their professionalism! We enjoyed their company and knowledge. It was also very nice having a naturalist to guest ratio of 10:1 which makes it more personable than the standard 16:1 of most other trips. Each night they did a briefing of the next day’s activities which was always entertaining.

The itinerary with Ecoventura was comprehensive and wonderful. We were able to see most everything that the Galapagos has to offer. We have absolutely no complaints about the entire trip. The crew of the M/Y Letty were super. The hard working crew were there to clean your stateroom, make you a refreshing drink or snack and good meals. The deck hands and Captain were there to see to your every need and keep you safe and happy. The food was very good, maybe not gourmet, but certainly very good with a daily selection of fish, chicken, pork or beef. Lots of vegetables and fruits as well. We certainly never went hungry!

They provided wetsuits and snorkeling gear that was of good quality. We never used the wet suit as the water was comfortable in all but one location. A rashguard suit was adequate and really helped with the sun protection. I would highly recommend taking a rash guard suit for snorkeling. Some guys wore their baseball caps turned backwards while snorkeling to prevent a sunburned head. The sun was quite intense. Bring plenty of sunscreen. I used a Canon underwater Powershot D10 camera and it took great photos and videos. It was definitely better than the disposables, especially if you can surface dive down a little way. Do bring several cleaning clothes for your camera lenses. ( I used a digital 35mm SLR Canon on land with a 70-300mm zoom that worked well, and used the point and shoot pocket camera for larger landscape type photos. While I brought a small waterproof set of binoculars, I rarely used them. A waterproof backpack from Cabela’s served me well and made carrying lots of drinking water, photo equipment, towels, etc. easy and safe.)

I am very glad that we chose Ecoventura. The ship size was perfect for us. Twenty passengers with two Naturalists aboard was great. We made new friends that hopefully we will see again. I would not have been comfortable on a 100 person ship. They provided us with truly a trip of a lifetime.

I also want to recognize and acknowledge Heather from CNH Tours who did all of our trip planning with us. She was a great asset and worked with us to set up the perfect trip. She arranged everything from our pick up at the airport in Quito until our departure. And everything went smoothly and flawlessly. A huge Thanks to Heather. We could not have done it without her. I would recommend both Heather and Ecoventura without reservation!

Anchorage
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1. Re: Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

Thanks for a great review. We are planning a Galapagos cruise in 2012 for our 50th b-day, 10th anniversary. I have long looked at the Eric/Letty?flamingo trio and thought they would work well for us. I want small, lots of snorkeling opportunities and obviously wildlife viewing. We will be on with our daughter so nice to hear they try to match up passengers on ships.

If you don't mind I have a few questions:

Is shampoo and soap provided in the cabins?

Did you have a digital SLR or film? If digital what kind and how did it work for you?

Did you tip and if so how much to whom?

I will read your other review...we are thinking of doing an extension to the markets...any thoughts about before vs after teh cruise....I was thinking before so the cruise would be the highlight.

I would truly welcome any thoughts or suggestions you have which would make our trip as successful as yours - packing, what to/not to bring, etc...

Thanks and thanks agian for the very helpful review.

Wisconsin
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11 posts
35 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

Hi:

You will have a great time. One of the groups on our cruise was a mom, her sister and 30 y.o. daughter. They seemed to have a great trip as well. Make sure to let them know you are celebrating ....they will do some nice surprises for you.

Soap, shampoo and conditioner were all supplied. Wash clothes were not. Towels and beach towels were. We brought one of those little plastic scrubby balls.

You have to go digital! You will take lots of photos and it is nice to not have to worry about processing rolls and rolls of film when you get home and hope that something turned out. I have an older Canon Rebel Digital with a 70-300mm zoom with image stabilization which worked very well for me. We also took the two point and shoot cameras that are water proof, one a Canon Powershot D10 which worked the best in the water, and an Olympus Stylus 1030 which is rugged, easy to throw in your pocket and did well for land shots, but I didn't like the snorkeling photos as much. Take several memroy cards and batteries. Remember your rechargers. I brought a small three outlet surge protector extension cord....you only have a couple of outlets in the room. Like I said I also took a small netbook and downloaded each night. If you haven't gone digital, I'd suggest doing some investigation, get something you think will work for you and start practicing!

Regarding your side trips, we did them before. Partly because you really want to fly into Ecuador a couple days early so that if anything goes wrong, you don't 'miss the boat.' We choose Quito becuase of the other things to see like the market in Otavalo (Busiest on Saturday). You could easily do several days or a week there and go to differnt sights each day, or stay a couple days in the Highlands at a Hacienda or something. Others went to Guayaquil as it is more at sea level and a shorter flight to the Galapagos. From Quito you fly to Guayaquil and sit/stand on the plane for 45 minutes while they unload and load new passengers before leaving for the Galapagos.

We enjoyed our driver and exploring the area. I would not suggest driving there or renting a car....It is crazy driving!

Take pleny of sweat proof/waterproof sunscreen, a rash guard suit for snorkeling, a travel clothes line made out of rubberbands (google it), a few plastic hangers, watershoes, flipflops, walking shoes, & wide brimmed hat like a Tilley, We had a rain poncho and wind breaker, but never used it, had travel umbrellas, never used. Binocular,s nice, but I rarely used. Backpack a must. Several zip lock plastic bags of different sizes. Cleaning clothes for camera and glasses. Polarized sun glasses. Contacts for snorkeling if you need them, daily disposables make it easy and not have to carry solutions (bifocals if you need them are available, ask your eye doc). Some money for the day that you are in town (I locked it up in my duffelbag the rest of the trip but you probably don't need to).

Tipping is covered by many in these forums and in fact I think there is a link up on right on the page. We followed what was suggested by Ecoventura of $175/person and thought it was really reasonable for the above and beyond service that we felt they gave us. But it's not manditory on the Letty so you can do what you want and feel is right.

I got lots of good information from lurking on the Forums here on Tripadvisor, and Heather was able to help us select the right boat for our desires and arranged anything we wanted and answered all our questions.

Hope that helps.....Have a great trip!

Anchorage
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1,330 posts
133 reviews
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3. Re: Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

Thanks for the input....

Oh I went digital a couple of years ago and love it. I have an Olympus Stylus 830 I believe which is one of the waterproof ones but I've been chicken to use it in the water. I guess I should not be. I also have a Panasonic Lumix F18 which has an 18x zoom. Technically they are both point and shoot vs SLR but have lots of optioins. I've been thinking about getting an SLR and maybe next year for my birthday. We will be travelling with our then to be almost 8 yr old.

We definitely won't drive but would want a driver. We never rent in foreign countries and it saves a lot of hassle. Thanks again.

Wisconsin
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35 reviews
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4. Re: Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

You might want to check out their "family departures," which seems to have more activities geared toward the children as well.

5. Re: Trip Review: Ecoventura's M/Y Letty; Trip of a lifetime!

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