By Ad de Beer
Last November I had a quick visit to the beautiful Galapagos Islands on board the sailing catamaran, Nemo I. The 21m long 14-passenger catamaran makes use of its sails when the weather permits but has the convenience of being powered by two 200Hp engines when required. I found the vessel really comfortable however its worth noting that all rooms are different and are not spacious. I would categorise it as an adventure style cruise for the young or young at heart mainly due to the cabin size and style. The cabins are compact and some of them you have to climb down into and others are a bit easier to access. Some of the cabins have bunk beds and others a small double bed with a top bunk bed, so it could fit 2 adults and a child. All cabins have a small private bathroom. As the cabins are small and don’t have much storage space, my advice is to bring small suitcases or even better a small backpack.
As you would expect from a sailing vessel this is a different experience to other Galapagos vessels, but one that has its own distinctive appeal. Traveling under the power of a sail is a liberating feeling. When sailing/cruising from one spot to another, you can relax and enjoy the scenery on top of the catamaran in a comfy seat or lay down on the nets at the front of the Nemo which is a really pleasant sailing experience. Calm sea conditions are not guaranteed, so it pays to be prepared if you suffer from sea sickness.
With this cruise, your breakfast, lunch and dinner is included. For breakfast they serve cereal, fresh fruit, toast and ham/cheese and eggs. Lunch and dinner changes daily. The quality of the service and food is very good. Meals are served outdoor when the weather permits (which was most of the time). Al fresco at its best!
The cruise I did on the Nemo was a 4 day/3 night one. This will give you a good idea what you can see at the Galapagos Islands if you are short on time. If you have more time available I would recommend you look into a 6 to 8 day cruise, where you will get to see more islands and a wider variety of wildlife and sceneries. For most of us the Galapagos is a once in a life-time experience, so why not spend a few extra days!
The underwater world is something not to be missed when you are there. On board the Nemo, you will get the opportunity to go snorkelling once or twice a day. This is all free of charge and they provide the snorkelling gear for you. In case you think the water temperature is too cold for you, you can hire a wetsuit (US$5 per day). With the crystal clear water it was easy for us to spot all the beautiful coloured fish, sea lions, sharks, sea turtles and much more. This was a real highlight.
In Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) I stayed for a few nights at Galapagos Suites. This small hotel has only 6 double rooms and it is just a few minutes’ walk located from the main street/harbour where you will find all restaurants and shops. All the rooms have a private bathroom, TV, air-conditioning. The rooms on the first and second floor also have a balcony with hammock. The breakfast Joseline serves to her clients is great. A selection of cereal, bread, egg and fruit, coffee and tea and every morning a different kind of freshly squeezed juice. If you need anything else, just ask her and she is happy to help you!
The last night of my trip I stayed in hotel Rincon de Puembo, close to Quito airport (10 minutes’ drive), because I had an early flight back to Sydney the next morning. There is not a lot to see outside the hotel as it is located in a small town. The rooms in the ‘old’ part of the building are big and have lots of nice antique furniture. The hotel looks like an old building, but it’s just around 10 years old. At the moment they are finishing the new part of the hotel and these rooms are a bit smaller and look more modern and you can get to the first floor with a lift. The hotel has a large garden, 2 restaurants, gym and a heated pool.
There are three Nemo Catamarans (Nemo I, II, III) and each are slightly different so it is worth researching the vessels. Any trip to the Galapagos is incredible but for those who are looking for a more authentic sailing experience this is the trip for you.
If you want to find out more about the Nemo I or the Galapagos, or have any questions in general please contact us.