Part of the Avalon Waterways fleet, the Isabella II visits the naturally beautiful and unspoilt Galapagos Islands, off the coast of South America. Unlike Avalon Waterways’ typical vessels, the Isabella II is styled as an expedition yacht that provides sensational cruises to one of the world’s most spectacular regions. Originally built as a supply ship in 1979, the Isabella II was reconstructed as a passenger ship in 1988, and refurbished again in 2000. Since its facelift, it boasts elegant interiors and a relaxed atmosphere that help all guests to discover the natural wonders of their destination in luxurious style.
The majority of guests onboard will be from English-speaking nations, predominantly the USA, UK and Australia. You’ll find that most are from a more mature demographic, and have a love of travel, culture and nature.
There are 27 English-speaking crew members onboard, including a Cruise Director who will help you to make the most of your experience. Multilingual Naturalists, who have a passion for nature and conservation, are available throughout the voyage to assist and guide every guest as they explore this mysterious part of the world.
There is one restaurant onboard which serves meals at designated times and operates an open-seating policy to allow guests to choose where they wish to sit. Breakfast and lunch take place in a buffet format, while dinner is a sit-down meal served course by course – all of which feature international cuisine options as well as authentic Ecuadorian specialities. Occasionally, guests can enjoy al-fresco meals in a covered venue at the top of the ship.
Guests can also make use of the self-serve beverage station where they can help themselves to tea, coffee and cookies throughout the day, at no extra charge. Complimentary juices are available with breakfast and post-excursion snacks are offered daily. Complimentary wines are served with dinner.
There is a lounge onboard that benefits from a full-service bar that serves premium spirits and is the perfect rendezvous for before- and after-dinner drinks. It’s also used for evening briefings and video presentations. Guests can also enjoy the Sun Deck bar, which is perfect for drinks as you admire the views.
Guests can attend several social events onboard including a cocktail party and a daily social hour which offers drinks specials in the bar.
A cruise around the breathtaking Galapagos Islands will inevitably provide a wealth of exciting activities both onboard and in the form of excursions and tours. On the Isabella II, guests can enjoy multimedia natural history and expedition lectures as well as an enthralling stargazing programme, thanks to the clear skies and non-existent air pollution. Snorkelling equipment is available, including wetsuits that can be used between June and December, and guests can enjoy glass-bottom boat trips and sea kayaks to explore the area even more. Three ‘pangas’ (water taxis) are available to help transport guests between ship and shore, and a hydrophone and ‘splashcam’ takes exploration beneath the waves, too!
There is also a gift shop, reading room and natural history library onboard (with a pair of Web-ready computers). If required, there is a business centre too, which provides Wi-Fi access.
The Isabella II offers an intimate yacht expedition, with 21 139 sq. ft. staterooms onboard. Staterooms are outside, and feature private bathrooms with shower, climate control, hairdryers and safes. Guests also have use of a complimentary reusable water bottle.
There is a Sun Deck available, which features sunloungers as well as a Jacuzzi that can accommodate six passengers at any one time. There is also an observation platform for dolphin and whale watching – perfect if you wish to unwind while attempting to spot these gracious creatures.
There is an exercise room onboard, which contains a bike, elliptical machine and treadmill.
The Isabella II currently offers two itineraries – the nine day ‘Ecuador & its Galapagos Islands’ tour that travels from and to Quito, and the 15 day ‘Cruise from Lima to Quito’.
The nine day itinerary allows guests to enjoy some guided sightseeing in Quito, including a photo opportunity at the ‘Centre of the World’. Once guests join the ship, they can look forward to visiting the Giant Tortoise Reserve in Baltra and the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, as well as ample opportunities to spot some indigenous wildlife including sea lions, iguanas, birdlife and sea turtles. Other highlights of the cruise include hiking to the summit of Bartolome Island, seeing the abandoned WW2 barges on Santa Cruz Island, snorkelling, sightseeing in Otavalo and naturalist-guided walks on each of the islands. There is an optional excursion available that allows guests to see Quito by night.
The comprehensive 15 day itinerary includes a walking tour of Peru’s capital – Lima – and guided sightseeing in Quito and Cusco. Guests will also be able to tick off another bucket list entry – the Sacred Valley and mystical Machu Picchu. Once this portion of the adventure is complete, you embark on a five day Galapagos Islands cruise onboard the Isabella II
It is also possible to add a trip to the Amazon on to your vacation at an additional fee.