Galapagos Yacht Charter

The Galapagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago enriched by unique flora and fauna not to be seen anywhere else in the world. Each island presents different wildlife and this is just one of the exquisite aspects of cruising through the Galapagos; observing changes in evolution as your private yacht motors you from one island to another.

The Galapagos Islands one and only privately owned luxury charter yacht, STELLA MARIS sleeps up to 14 guests in seven luxurious staterooms, including a sumptuously appointed master suite. Produced by historic Italian shipyard Picchiotti, the 124-foot Motor Yacht is an ecologically friendly vessel that has been recently refitted to adapt to the fragile marine ecosystems of the islands. https://i2.wp.com/www.stellamarisyachtcharters.com/images/headers/index.jpg?w=584

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Complementing the yacht’s warm, contemporary interiors are a variety of amenities and outdoor spaces, perfect for socializing, entertaining, and dining alfresco. STELLA MARIS is available for charter year round and guests have two unforgettable Galapagos Islands itineraries to choose from.nonimage

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The Galapagos Islands, voted by Travel and Leisure Magazine for the 3rd time this decade as the #1 World’s Best Island, confirms this chain of islands is unlike any other Island. It is one of the most unique destinations on the planet. Located approximately 600 miles from the western coast of Ecuador, rare species inhabit these islands and you won’t encounter them anywhere else in the world. Many of these unique breeds are not afraid of humans making it easy to get up-close and personal.

Perhaps our first association with the word “Galapagos” is the name “Darwin.” Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Islands had a resounding impact on the formation of his Theory of Natural Selection. During his visit to the islands, Darwin noted that the unique creatures were similar from island to island, but perfectly adapted to their environments which led him to ponder the origin of the islands’ inhabitants. Among those that struck Darwin so greatly were the finches that are now named in his honor. Darwin would later base some of his thought from the supposing that these finches were all descendants of the same lineage.

Years later in 1859, Darwin finally consolidated all of his observations into his famous book On The Origin of Species, drastically and controversially altering the scientific view on the biological origins of life.

View the Galapagos Marine Iguanas, living only in this pristine environment; they have adapted unlike other Iguana species, to living on algae in the waters around the island, rather than searching for food on the barren islands.

Galapagos Male Frigate Bird

Galapagos Male Frigate Bird

The wild birds on the islands are free from predators thus they are unafraid and can be observed in very close context. Birds can be seen sitting on nests of hatchlings mere feet away, while sea lions and pups are will continue their everyday life as you walk around them. Juvenile sea lions love to play, and will often engage in games of hide and seek with snorkelers in the water, and may tap right on a snorkelers mask.  Swim with penguins while they hunt for fish for dinner, with no care that you might be close by.

On your private yacht charter, you may head ashore with your Naturalist on your schedule rather than a pre-set scheduled excursion.

Galapagos Sea Lion Newborn

Galapagos Sea Lion Newborn

On a typical day, perhaps spend time snorkeling or an arranged scuba dive with sea lions and penguins, heading ashore later to watch pink flamingos fish for supper. Learn about sea turtles, sea lions, and iguana tracks on the beach.  Sit close to a sea lion colony, and maybe you will see Mom return to her pup, left on the beach while she scavenged the seas for food. Or in season, watch a Blue Footed Booby Bird crack his eggshell and hatch open. Marine Iguanas will dive from the cliffs into the water, hoping to survive to search out marine algae in the seas.

Meanwhile on land, the Galapagos male Frigate Birds puff out their red sack in a fabulous show intended to attract his mate.  And maybe a sea lion might come aboard the swim platform of your yacht for a snooze in the sun.  The natural life in the Galapagos is wild and wonderful and continues at a frenetic pace with no notice of mankind.

Yacht boarding is generally on specific days with a pre-set itinerary to assure that civilization is spread equally throughout the Galapagos to maintain the eco system with as little impact as possible. Only Galapagos licensed yachts are available and are a limited number, and this is not expected to change.  It is wise to book well in advance for this location.

 

 

 

 

 

Captivating Cuba

Thanks to President Obama, who modified the restrictive Cuba travel policy, throngs of visitors are making their way to the island. The change is designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island, the Treasury Department  grants so-called “people-to-people” licenses, which greatly expand travel opportunities for Cuba-bound visitors. However, one still cannot just hop on a plane and visit as an independent traveler.

Boys on the street – a universal scene cool boys & even cooler cars.

Cuba is realistically set in a time warp – the cars are decades old; 1950’s big Buick’s, Oldsmobile’s and Chevy’s – replacement parts, of course are not available, but the drivers amazingly seem to have kept them running. Evident in a door handle workings: almost hidden, a bent nail and some wire; many of the cars are lacking the interior panels – safety is not relevant – style, reflecting a vintage culture is of importance, amazingly the streets are clogged with traffic of another era.

Crumbling buildings, once elegant and refined European dwellings look like they are on their last legs; majestic marble staircases lead to apartments and restaurants – mixed housing development is clearly acceptable. Walking up the three flights of a graceful wide marble stairway to a hip restaurant, one can easily peer into the bedrooms of the apartment dwellers. A scene out of the Honeymooners television hit.

The Malecón waterfront is beautiful and if commerce is allowed to return, it should be a stunning location for rebuilding these fallen treasures. Old Havana is filled with lovely churches, central parks and leafy tree lined squares, cafes brimming with lively musicians and European tourists.  Architecture evoked by Southern Spain, despite the crumbling, one can imagine another time, a time of an elegance and hope.

A trip to the Hemingway Museum is definitely best taken in a vintage convertible, the bumpy ride produces a big smile. Finca Vigia, which means lookout farm, was the name of Hemingway’s residence when he lived there. The Hemingway Museum provides a glimpse of the daily life of Ernest and his wife; the pleasant surroundings and original furnishings make this a must see for anyone interested in the life and works of Ernest Hemingway.

Hotel Saratoga Havana

National Museum of Fine Arts Havana – Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes. The Museum of Fine Arts in two impressive buildings, one dedicated to Cuban Arts and Universal Arts. Beautifully organized, view the work of master Cuban painters – including, Adigio. His work can also be seen in his small studio, paintings stacked three deep in his apartment. Despite the language barrier, he enthusiastically shared his latest work, since my visit he has passed away.

Havana is a very fascinating place to visit, and I recommend it for a fun, safe, and utterly unique travel experience in the Caribbean, especially if you’re interested in history, architecture, the contradictory effects of socialism, lively music and great dining. We enjoyed our best meal at family run La Casa a celebrity dining destination.  Although the Tropicana night club show is a bit campy, it is definitely a fun cabaret evening. Launched in 1939, it quickly spread the spicy Latin culture to the world, the Tropicana showgirls described as “Las Diosas de Carne” or “Flesh Goddesses”, were celebrated for their curvaceous figures and their embellished feather-and-sparkly sequin costumes. Tropicana Club inspired musical revues in New York, Las Vegas and Paris.

Trinidad Cuba

Trinidad – a UNESCO World Heritage site is a picturesque town filled with small taverns and ice cream shops. The Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad is the finest lodging and overlooks the charming Plaza Mayor, strolled by the locals on Sunday afternoons. A gathering spot for conga drums, animated singers and percussionists who participate in small impromptu festivals. Don’t miss the Museo Romantico, a 19th-century colonial mansion with period furniture and textiles, evidence of the once opulent lifestyle of this city. Sunday street vendors offer crafts and local cuisine.

Tobacco Farmer, Vinales

Yes, we survived the taxi ride – despite the lack of interior panels and the ancient driver!

Paseo del Prado, Havana

At the Hemingway Museum

And how do you spend a cold stormy day? Spanish Scrabble with your waiter..Mojito, Si! Yes, he won!

Postcards mailed, but never received in the US.

Monthly rations

Trinidad – colorful and curious

Imagine no cell phones ringing on the street, no one walking down the avenues, head down tapping on a keyboard, no billboards or advertising – quite pure in an odd sense. You will see political signs elevating Fidel Castro and other national heroes. A brief visit, not necessarily a place to spend a lifetime. Still one must be a member of an organized tour group to visit.