In Search of True Comfort (or what I would’ve liked to have known before my trip to the Galapagos)
We all know that the Galapagos Islands are a world-class destination full of adventure. However, going out in search of adventure doesn’t necessarily mean I have to sacrifice my comfort. Every detail counts. Whenever I get a good night’s rest, I can easily focus all of my senses on the beautiful slice of paradise that surroundings me the morning after. A good shower and a delicious moment of introspection don’t hurt either. I open my eyes and suddenly find myself immersed in a dream: the Galapagos Islands. But planning and following through with a trip that’s as big as this is serious business, and there’s one factor that we must always keep in mind should we intend on transforming our trip from a simple memory into a real and unforgettable ADVENTURE. Yes, in capitals.
The Comfort Factor. We’ve heard this word used in so many contexts and different ways. Its exact definition is: the material conditions that provide and offer wellbeing. Nevertheless, in the same way that every living organism evolves and adapts to its surroundings, the marketing methods of modern-day companies are seeking to define comfort more and more as: the best conditions for a photograph PLUS the greatest number of touch-ups possible in order to make that same picture of the product successfully transmit the idea of comfort and wellbeing.
These days, it goes without saying that we’re a society that’s highly influenced by audiovisual information. Many of our decisions to buy certain things are merely based on the pictures we see online, along with the price listed under them. Take for example the idea of comfort: How would it be possible to transmit a concept so important yet abstract as this? When searching across the web and comparing different pictures from travel agencies before finally and fully investing in the trip of a lifetime: How do we show true comfort as being one of the most important factors behind making the proper decision?
When it comes to cruises throughout the Galapagos archipelago, our imagination tends to conjure up images of exploration, adventure, learning and discovery. In effect, the Galapagos is the quintessential expedition trip! But this does not imply that one should throw comfort to the wind in the name of adventure. Quite the opposite, actually! These two words are complimentary terms that will serve to transform our experience of the islands. And while there are many photos out there on the interwebs that may very well be (and often are) completely forged and retouched, there are many other pictures out there that don’t lie. As a client and potential guest, the challenge is to allow yourself to be demanding and search for those elements that will undoubtedly enhance your trip to the Enchanted Isles. In this post, we propose three essential tips that will help you immensely when it comes to searching for that true level of comfort, the same comfort that will manage to enrich your adventure throughout the archipelago.
In a nutshell, we may refer to all of these tips as simply “looking beyond the photo.”
Galapagos Comfort Factor #1: A Good Night’s Sleep
It sounds obvious, but it’s probably the most important point of them all. What is it that affects us most when we want to pay attention to our guides or truly enjoy an activity? The answer is simple: It’s how well we slept the night before. That’s right, sleep is everything! In the Galapagos, each day is filled with activities, emotions and surprises. The quality of service onboard, the organization of the itineraries, the attentiveness of the guides and the quality of food: these are all things that we can thoroughly enjoy all of only if we’ve successfully had a good night’s sleep. Many guests that visit the Galapagos Islands often think that this factor won’t be a problem aboard their vessel. As many of the journeys are done at night (in order to cover long distances), it’s normal to think that one will have plenty time to rest.
But it’s not just a matter of time but a matter of comfort as well. Just how far will your cabin be from the motors, the generators and the propellers of the boat? It’s important to be sure of the fact that there won’t be noise, vibrations or a lack of stability present to rob us of our sleep. Granted, all ships come equipped with a motor and the racket that these produce, but not all ships go the extra mile and soundproof their cabins from the noise of the engine. At the end of the day, a good night’s sleep has no price.
Galapagos Comfort Factor #2: Actual Personal-Space
During our trip throughout the Galapagos we’re going to have plenty of time to share unforgettable moments with our friends and family. We’re also going to share a lot of time with our fellow passengers aboard and from our excursion groups. It’s always nice to meet new people from different parts of the world and share our experiences. This, in itself, is an enriching experience. On the other hand, at some point during our journey we’re also going to want to have a quiet and relaxing moment to ourselves. After a riveting day in the Galapagos Islands, a little nook from which we can observe the horizon and the sunset is a gift we all deserve to give ourselves.
According to Douglas Ward, author of “Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships,” comfort is empirical. To calculate the ratio of space to passengers (adequately known as the Guest-Space Ratio) aboard a vessel, we need to divide the total tonnage of the vessel by the number of passengers. The greater the ratio, the greater the space available for each passenger aboard the ship. This ratio is super important when deciding on your cruise in the Galapagos yet it is something that is rarely considered. A ship with a Guest-Space Ratio that exceeds the number 25 offers the possibility, for example, of enjoying relaxing and reflective moments of solitude in the library while reading a good book or watching one of the countless, beautiful Galapagos sunsets. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually possible on a cruise that can hold up to 100 passengers (which also happens to be the legal limit of passengers aboard a ship in Galapagos).
Occasionally, there’s the erroneous idea that a smaller boat will offer a more intimate experience, but the truth is actually the complete opposite. These kinds of vessels, with a Guest-Space Ratio that’s below 25 or 20 often have considerably less space aboard, which can oftentimes create a distinct feeling of over-crowdedness and less room to truly and intimately enjoy the magic of the Galapagos. Resorting to your cabin as a space to feel a little bit of peace and tranquility certainly is not the best way to make the most out of the Enchanted Isles.
Galapagos Comfort Factor #3: Cabins that offer Time & Space
Sure, it sounds like science fiction at first, but this last factor is actually very real and wholly relevant. Something that’s important to consider when looking for the best cruise in Galapagos is to figure out how many people you’re travelling with and how they’ll be distributed throughout each cabin. However, regardless of the number of people you’re travelling with, one thing remains constant: the number of bathrooms per cabin. This means that each morning – before going to breakfast or heading out on that day’s excursion – all occupants of the cabin will surely require the use of the bathroom. In today’s world, time is a hot commodity; and when you’re surrounded by the beauty that exists in Galapagos, you won’t want to waste a single minute of your time.
The more time you have to spend waiting to use the bathroom, the greater the chance that you’ll miss out on something big. In other words, what you need to look for is a cabin with TIME: time to take a refreshing shower at your leisure, time to calmly prepare yourself to head out to the beach, time to get ready before dinner, but most importantly – time to enjoy each and every sunset, dolphin jump, a close encounter with the white-tip reef shark, and the BIG15 iconic species of Galapagos. So be sure to give yourself gift of time!
By keeping these three factors in mind and doing a little more research with your travel agent, you can rest assured that the level of comfort you’ll receive in Galapagos will offer you an unforgettable experience in the archipelago.
Don’t let a bad dream, an uncomfortable shower or a tight space ruin your trip of a lifetime!
Adrian Peñafiel Schweitzer is the Chief Commercial Officer at Metropolitan Touring. He’s an analytical leader and educator that views mathematics as a universal language. He’s also a family man, a big fan of the NFL, Choose Wisely, and the Galapagos BIG15 group of iconic species. Adrian is really into the “walking trees” that are found around Mashpi Lodge, a good dance (or three) and clever jokes.