Monday, October 13, 2008

Packing for Galapagos

When planning for your Galapagos adventure aboard Celebrity Xpedition you will learn that there are weight restrictions for your checked and carry-on luggage. Xpeditions arranges a charter flight on Tame Airlines from Quito to Baltra with a stop in Guayaquil for refueling. On this flight, you are limited to 30 pounds of checked luggage per person and one carry-on bag weighing 14 pounds or less. You can leave additional luggage at the JW Marriott Hotel in Quito.

At first these restrictions sound daunting, but with some careful planning and packing you'll find this is not a problem at all. Assuming double occupancy, select two soft-sided (duffel type) bags for your checked luggage. We used bags that even had wheels for easy handling. Also use a backpack for your carry-on bag. This will easily fit under your seat on the plane.

As I mentioned, you can leave additional luggage in Quito, so keep your pre and post-cruise clothes in the luggage you check at the hotel. In our case, we used a roller-bag carry-on for that purpose. We had purchased a few souvenirs in Quito, and we also left those at the hotel.

Attire onboard Xpedition is casual, so there's no need to bring dress attire for the evenings. We opted for the very casual evening attire - simply substituting long pants for our shorts. Some women did bring dresses along for the evening, but that isn't necessary. Don't bring formals or suits or you'll be out of place.

Your clothes should include t-shirts, shorts, long-sleeve cotton shirt, sweatshirt, lightweight nylon or similar jacket, wide-brimmed hat, cargo pants, jeans, and rain gear (your waterproof jacket would also work), two or more bathing suits, Teva (or similar) shoes.
Make sure to bring cameras, extra lenses, filters, extra film or memory cards, batteries, chargers, waterproof camera bag, disposable waterproof cameras or underwater camera, bug spray, and suntan lotion. If there are any medicines or toiletries that you like to use, make sure you bring ample supply since you can't run out to the nearest Walmart to purchase them during your trip.

There is a small gift shop onboard where you can by logo wear, including the Celebrity Xpeditions wide-brimmed hat. Even though we had one with us, we did purchase another one.

Each day you'll receive the daily guide of events. There will be suggestions about what to wear and bring on the excursions. Depending on the location, there may be certain colors you'll want to avoid wearing. For example wasps would be really attracted to bright colors and flowery clothing. Stick with white, dark colors, or beige and you should be fine. Check out my photo albums for ideas about what people wore on our cruise.

Good shoes are a must. I already mentioned Teva shoes. We used Teva shoes and were very glad we had them for wet landings. In addition to your water shoes, you'll want either hiking boots or sneakers. To keep the weight down in your checked luggage, you might consider wearing the heavier shoes on the flight to Baltra.

Each night the crew will brief passengers on the next day's excursions. It is highly advisable that you attend these sessions. There will be slide shows which will help you decide on the proper attire and select the tour that is best for you.

There will be plenty of opportunity to go snorkeling and swimming during the trip. Xpeditions has wet suits and complete snorkeling gear. We have our own gear, but opted to use theirs. We were satisfied with the equipment, although some of the gear looked to be starting to show some wear. If you are advanced snorkelers, you might want to bring your own mask and snorkel (assuming you haven't hit you weight allowance yet).

Luggage will be handled for you most of the trip. It goes without saying that you should have luggage tags on your bags. It doesn't have to be the Celebrity tags - any tag with your name will suffice from airport to hotel.

After claiming your luggage at Quito airport, you won't see it again until they deliver the bags to your hotel room. You'll want to keep your carry-on bags with you. All your medications, cameras and other equipment should be packed in your carry-on bags. You don't need to worry about 3-1-1 restrictions when you travel to Baltra. You can even go through security with water bottles.

We are still working on our website for the cruise. There are several photo albums linked from the Photos page now. Additional resources will be added which will help you plan.

Hopefully this answers most of your questions about what to bring with you on your cruise. Next time we'll start detailing our actual Xpeditions experiences.

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