Trip Report My Review Of The Galapagos Liveaboard Calipso

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cleung

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This was my first scuba diving liveaboard trip so I really have no basis of comparisons with other liveaboards but I have been on cruises before as well as lots of dive trips. The Calipso had representatives that met us at connecting airports in Guayaquil and San Cristobal which was a nice touch. Divers then got transported by bus along with their luggage separately to the port where we boarded inflatable panga (Zodiac like) boats to get to the Calipso.

I shot the video of my cabin upon boarding and as you can see, it was pretty comfortable especially for just one person. The only thing was that the single cabins are on the lower deck across from the galley rather than on the upper levels but this was never a problem for me. What was a bit of a nuisance was that my cabin was pretty close to the anchor which was pretty loud each time they lowered and raised it, even in the middle of the night. But that's life on a boat.

One of the reasons why I booked with the Calipso was because they offered me a single cabin without charging a single supplement which most other liveaboards do. We had a full house of 16 guest divers, 3 staff divemasters and a crew for the boat but at no time did I feel it was overcrowded. The Calipso was quite spacious in my opinion.

The food services was good too with lots of variety but of course 5 star Michelin rated fine dining was not expected for a dive boat. At times some meats were a bit overcooked but overall divers were fed really well so I had no major complaints about the food on board. The crew also did a great job in keeping the entire boat spotless and my cabin was even clean each time I went out on dives which was 3 to 4 times daily.

I shot a video of the rest of the decks on the Calipso too if anyone wants to see the video tour.

In order to dive the best sites in the Galapagos, one would need to travel to Wolf and Darwin islands which are too far and remote for any day boats to get to so taking a liveaboard is the only way. I noticed the Aggressor liveaboard docked near us at several of the dive sites so I assume that all scuba diving liveaboards that go out for a week go to the same dive sites each offering around 20 dives over the week.

I'm going to do a separate post and video about the scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands but for now I'll say that the dive program run by the Calipso was good overall. We had a divemaster for each group of 8 divers on each panga boat. In hindsight as mentioned in the video, I wished we had two divemasters for each group of divers given the rough conditions of the seas but I'll expand more on this in my separate post and video on the scuba diving in general in the Galapagos Islands. I'll say for now that the Calipso dive crew helped me get my mission accomplished in seeing mostly everything I wanted to see on this trip.

Overall I was pretty pleased with the Calipso and if one is set on going to the Galapagos Islands for a liveaboard scuba diving trip then you cannot go wrong by choosing the Calipso. At the end of our week after all the scuba diving was finished, we were taken on a land tour on Santa Cruz island to see the giant tortoises and I was pretty happy with that excursion.
 

Ministryofgiraffes

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thanks for that completely earnest and useful report.... extra credit given for not using multiple exclamation marks, getting overly excited about standard things, being overly critical of standard things or giving the boat operator 'a billion out of ten' because nature provided a dolphin.

Solid report.
 

Xta

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Thanks for the report, and the video of the boat tour! We booked the Calipso when all they had on their website were renders, and I've been trying to see what the inside of the boat looks like in real life since then. Glad to hear you had a good experience!
I've only been on one other liveaboard, and they also had the same ratio of divers to dive masters, (8 divers 1 dive master) I wonder if that's standard.
 

drrich2

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The Calipso had representatives that met us at connecting airports in Guayaquil and San Cristobal which was a nice touch.

Interesting. Is planning out travel to and from this destination more involved than to mainstream Caribbean locations? It’s not unusual for a live-aboard rep. to meet someone at their final airport, but connecting airports?
 

Khrissi

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Galapogos is a milestone dive , so good that they provide such care n attention, k
 

caydiver

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That’s a great report. We did The Galapagos Sky a few years ago and would say that the trip sounded very much like ours. I too would have liked another staff member in the water. We had two that alternated dives and to be honest they seemed more interested in what they were filming than the guests. Once we figured that out we looked out for each other. It was very rough during our trip and I was totally in awe of the expertise of the panga drivers. It is one of the worlds special places and your report brought back happy memories. Thank you.
 
OP
cleung

cleung

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Thanks for the report, and the video of the boat tour! We booked the Calipso when all they had on their website were renders, and I've been trying to see what the inside of the boat looks like in real life since then. Glad to hear you had a good experience!
I've only been on one other liveaboard, and they also had the same ratio of divers to dive masters, (8 divers 1 dive master) I wonder if that's standard.

It seems to be standard but given the rough conditions of the seas, I wished there were two divemasters per panga boat group, much like I had for drift dives in Cozumel where one DM would lead and another would be at the back making sure the group was together. But for a liveaboard maybe this higher manpower would not be feasible.
 
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cleung

cleung

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Interesting. Is planning out travel to and from this destination more involved than to mainstream Caribbean locations? It’s not unusual for a live-aboard rep. to meet someone at their final airport, but connecting airports?

Most of the divers had long travels since they were from all around the world. I flew on airline points so of course they were going to make it difficult for my journey as I flew from Toronto to Panama, then Cali before getting to Guayquil where I had to spend a night. The next morning I flew from there to San Cristobal. I had a rep meet me at Guayaquil as she made sure I went to the special Galapagos desk for special screening first.

Returning home was just as complicated flying out of San Christobal to Quito but with a stopover in Guayaquil first. Then had to wait a nasty 9 hour layover before taking a 3:30 am flight from Quito to Bogota, then to Panama again before flying back to Toronto. At least the Calipso reps made life a bit easier with transfers from their boat to town via the pangas and then with bus to and from the airport. They even transported our check in luggage to and from the airport separately for us.
 
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cleung

cleung

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That’s a great report. We did The Galapagos Sky a few years ago and would say that the trip sounded very much like ours. I too would have liked another staff member in the water. We had two that alternated dives and to be honest they seemed more interested in what they were filming than the guests. Once we figured that out we looked out for each other. It was very rough during our trip and I was totally in awe of the expertise of the panga drivers. It is one of the worlds special places and your report brought back happy memories. Thank you.

Yes I totally agree with your opinion about the panga drivers. I had to abort one dive due to high currents that left me separated from the group right from the beginning at Wolf Island where the currents were crazy and fortunately one of the pangas heard my whistle and came by to pick me up pretty quickly. Other dives I was among the first to come back up and they were pretty good in spotting us as we were battling the big waves at the surface.
 

BradStyle

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Did you use the Wi-Fi on the Calipso? They are the only boat I've seen that offers it in the Galapagos (which is critical for my GF who can't go 100% off the grid with her work). I'm wondering if it's fast and reliable enough for routine email correspondence with maybe a few small attachments, not for downloading photos, social media, or streaming (of course).

Thanks!
 
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