Avoid 'Friendship' boat at all cost
Cost: £600 for 8 day cruise (approx)
Date: 25th December 2006
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Location: 1000km west from Ecuador in the pacific ocean
The boat is a ship wreck and the operator who we met in order to claim some
compensation for our trip was a lying bastard - it never came through.
Date: Tuesday, 06th February 2007 04:39 PM
Anonymous?? You should give your name, this one is a very hard commentary
Posted by: Damon - damonson[at]gmail dot com
Date: Thursday, 01st March 2007 03:33 PM
I heard this boat now has changed owners and is good value. Can any one confirm
Anonymous Post - maryp086[at]hotmail dot com
Date: Thursday, 29th March 2007 04:31 PM
I was on the Friendship a couple weeks ago. There are certain aspects of the ship
that could use some help, for instance, in my room, the toilet had no toilet seat.
No biggie. Air conditioning tended to be an issue, my room had very little while
others said they were cold at night. Again, to me, not a big deal.
I think the ship is great for young people. It´s less expensive then some and still
gets the job done. When I went the boat was made up of entirely young people,
save one crazy austrian lady, and I had a fantastic time. The rules on the boat are
pretty lax and the captian was fantastic.
Posted by: Sophs Jordan - sophs dot jordan[at]gmail dot com
Date: Saturday, 08th September 2007 01:30 PM
I returned from the Galapagos Islands yesterday. Unfortunately I was on the boat
Friendship. **PLEASE PLEASE AVOID THIS BOAT AT ALL COSTS!** You will be
better off spending a bit extra to get a better boat.
Friendship was broken down before we even got on and so we were forced to
spend 2 nights on land and miss out 2 islands because of it. There was almost
mutiny on the boat when we kicked up so much fuss that they eventually took us
to the islands we were going to miss.
Our guide, was a guy named Jorge Camilo Solis Acosta. He was a Level I guide
and we were promised a Level III guide. If you think that's bad, he is an alcoholic!
He drank our boat dry and tried to blame it on us. We learnt nothing on the islands
because he could hardly speak English and was drunk.
The air conditioning is all over the place. There were no safety instructions and I
couldn't find any fire extinguishers on board (I'm a sailor). The communication on
board is abysmal and we were disgusted to find the crew FISHING in Galapagos
Waters - highly illegal. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS BOAT.
The wildlife and scenery is amazing though and I know in time the bad memories
will fade. We had a great team of tourists on the boat for which I am very thankful
for, but so many other things went wrong that it's really not a good idea to waste
your money and use Friendship. We are trying to seek compensation for all the
stress and the broken promises but we really don't fancy our chances and quite
frankly any more stress!
Hope you enjoy the Galapagos!
Posted by: julie
Date: Monday, 14th April 2008 02:04 PM
I returned from galapagos 3 days ago and I also went with the friendschip boat.
All the things above that happened to you didn\'t happen to me at all. Oke so the
bathroom was really hot and not that clean, but it was the cheapest boat so my
expectations weren\'t that high. The guide we had was a new one, Rodrigo, and he
was really good. He did tell us about the problems the boat had before with the
other guide etc and that they were now trying to build up a good reputation again.
The other tourist on the boat were really great, we had a really nice group. And in
my opinion the crew did her job really good too. So for people who travel on a
budget I can only recommend this boat.
Posted by: Andreas Andersen - dasgespenst[at]gmail dot com
Date: Monday, 12th May 2008 05:31 PM
Just come back from Friendship 2nd to 9th of May 2008...
No problems with the boat. 1 day lacking water for showers and small problems
with AC. Plenty of drinking water though. Good helpful staff. Food above average.
Accomodation cleaned every day, and so is the boat. Well spoken and well
educated guide, Fabian (dont expect biology fanatic though...) Nice young crowd.
Good areas for hanging out in the sun. Plenty of snorkling, they rent out good
equipment for 25$ for the entire trip.
We were really pleased about this trip, good value for money and REMEMBER
bring money for a good tip... We paid 1080$ but some of the guests paid around
in 900$ At this time of the year dont expect to get a good deal ON the islands
Posted by: nick
Date: Thursday, 22nd May 2008 10:18 AM
We just got back from a fantastic week on the Friendship with a wonderful young
crowd of travellers and jaw-dropping wildlife. Some small problems with the
boat - air conditioning was intermittent at best, generator is really loud and
runs all night so you probably won\'t sleep if you are sensitive to noise, the
back two cabins stunk of petrol fumes so the people had to sleep on deck, there
is no ladder on the boat so you need to get someone to haul you three feet out
of the water back onto the boat if you decide to go snorkelling or swimming, the
crew forgot to pick us up on one occasion leaving us stranded on an island for
about an hour (apparently it was a good movie they were watching), 9 of the 16
people on the boat came down with a gastric bug (shame because the food was
actually really good), no toilet seats in some cabins, bathrooms were \'cleaned\'
everyday but this only consisted of them spraying the room with an air freshner
- hmmm....I think thats about it.
Posted by: Gudrun - goody75be[at]hotmail dot com
Date: Sunday, 16th November 2008 01:06 PM
We survived the Friendship 2 weeks ago. For young people the boat was ok as
long as the engine worked. In our cause it broke down on the 3rd day. On the 4th
day we finally got evacuated by speed boat. Representatives of the owner would
fly in the next evening. They never showed up. Some people got partially refunded
by the captain (helped by police or the capitan de puerto). Others got refunded by
their travel agency. The guide did not speak very well English which was a burden
in this case. He was no help getting the money back either. The service on the
boat was fine though and the food was good. The carpet in the cabins was wet
from the airco. Safety instructions and fire extinguishers were on board but the
crew took out the fire alarms in the cabins as soon as they went off. So safety is
doubtable. If only the engine would have been fine it would have been a great trip
for us. But the guide had told some of the people on the boat that it was fixed up
before leaving and the mechanic had said the engine would not last more than 4
days. In the middle of the Ocean they tried to keep the engine going causing a lot
of bad fumes and lots of oil running in the water which made us feel really guilty.
Advise to travellers considering this boat:make sure that you know in advance
where you get your money back and how much in needed. Engines can break
down but what made us really angry that there was no info nor back up plan. And
getting the refunds took a lot of effort. Most of us thought the boat was not
important but it was about visiting the islands. That\'s why considered booking a
cheaper boat. This is thru as long as the engine of the boat doesn\'t break down.
The little comfort and annoyances come with the price and you know in advance.
Posted by: willie
Date: Monday, 24th November 2008 12:59 PM
we just got back from the galapagos and had the friendship.
the first 4 days we had to stay in a hotel because it broke down...
the engine fume did also fill our cabine.
it also came through the sides of the benches in the eating room.
So while eating you also smell engine fume.
besides that i do not think it is cleaned for a long time. all tables are sticky.
indeed no toilet seat.
We had a guide called Fabian and he was a complete joke.
He stayed in his cabin with his girl friend whole the trip, and only the times we had
to stay on the island he came out (sometimes to late).
But the crew was good. and the dinner was good.
Im sorry to say but i also find this boat to be called a wreck.
Posted by: Robert
Date: Tuesday, 30th December 2008 09:27 AM
The boat is indeed a noisy stinking wreck. The first day the waterpump broke
down, no wather in the bathrooms and the toilets .Our guide Fabian looked more
after his girlfriend .Its a shame touroperators hire this boat
Posted by: pablo pequeño
Date: Tuesday, 30th December 2008 11:44 PM
Yeah, can absolutely confirm that this boat is a potential death trap. It stunk, we
broke down and drifted dangerously off course and the promises made of this
boat by the ultra dodgy agent at the airport (the portly lizard called Freddy) were
all lies. Baby please don´t go is all I´ll say.
Posted by: susan and nick - zzyzzx56[at]yahoo dot co dot uk
Date: Wednesday, 31st December 2008 09:13 PM
Totally concur with Pablo\'s comments. Boat, once we gained access to it after
being fibra\'d to Isabela instead of joining in Santa Cruz, was a mess; no safety
instructions, stank of poisonous noxious fumes throughout the \'cruise\', food was
measured out in measly portions, etc etc. Guide Fabian was informative enough -
in a dictatorial, hectoring manner - but excessively interested in his tip
(which he presented by way of our \'Xmas present\' after dinner on Christmas
Day!). He also spent a lot of time nursing cerveza bottles instead of eating or
otherwise interacting with passengers. We only paid $300 for a 4D/3N trip,
WHICH THE CAPTAIN JUAN CARLOS SAID IS THE REAL LAST MINUTE PRICE so didn\'t
expect too much in exchange, and would have been well satisfied if the boat
hadn\'t stunk of oily diesel or been such an environmental disaster. I could add
lots more groans and gripes about the general attitudes, condition of vessel,
horrors of being dumped in Isabela feeling that we\'d been conned, but it\'s
fading by the day. Ah well - at least we eventually saw the amazing wildlife and
we survived - although I do have grave concerns about the safety of future users
of this very unseaworthy ship. I note that the governement of Ecuador requires
that ships carrying more than 15 passengers comply with the International Safety
Management code and that a copy of the boat\'s ISM certificate should be made
available on request. I didn\'t know this before I went on the boat as it was
the usual last minute purchase. There are generally 16 passengers on Friendship,
so future passengers reading this post might like to ask to see their
certificate, or even choose against Friendship and for a safer ship.
Posted by: Matt - mattxxx4[at]yahoo dot co dot uk
Date: Wednesday, 07th January 2009 05:02 PM
Well... where to start? First of all with an apology to all those who have
posted before me... I read your reviews and still decided to go ahead with a
tour on this boat \'The Friendship\'. Why you ask? Are you completely mad? First,
it is easily the cheapest touring boat in the Galapagos (I got a last minute
spot in Puerto Ayora for US$380 for 4 days/3 nights) and so a lure for people on
a tight budget. And second I thought – as a seasoned shoestring traveller, as
long as we get from A to B and B to C and visit the islands, I can put up with
the odd problem or three along the way.
Except that this ship doesn\'t actually go from A to B, let alone C. It mainly
stays at A.
Here is my travel diary from yesterday....
Day 1 (There was only 1 day... well, half a day actually)
Boarded boat at 12.30pm. There was no crew on board except the barman, who had
started his new job on the boat about 2 hours before. The infamous guide Fabian
had abandoned ship (I think for the last time) just before we arrived. I now
recall a man wearing Galapagos guide uniform at the dock complaining to someone
in Spanish \'no me pagan, no me pagan\' – ie They don\'t tip (pay) me, they don\'t
tip me.\' This kind of makes sense if you read the above posts.
We (5 new passengers boarding) asked which cabins we would be in, but as the
barman was the only crew on board, he didn\'t know. So we put bags on deck and
sat down for lunch (1 chicken drumstick and some rice) with the 11 passengers
who had already completed 4 days on board. They were a Dutch group, and most if
not all appeared to be on medication – I suspect for a combination of depression
and sea-sickness. Here, I have to quote from a book I am reading about the slave
trade, and the galleons which transported slaves across the Atlantic –
\'Survivors arrived so sick, weak, terrified and disheartened - “fixed
melancholy”.. that many succumbed shortly after\'.
As we ate lunch on the boat anchored in port (the boat doesn\'t leave Puerto
Ayora until midnight on the first day), the Dutch left their tables and a few
minutes later, we saw them scurrying around like deranged mice, transporting
bedding, bags and other things around the ship. What were they doing, we asked?
Well, the barman pretended not to know (but then maybe he didn\'t know since he
had only been on board for 2 hours) – but it was soon clear they were vacating
the aft \'diesel cabins\', ie the 2 cabins next to the engine. I went to inspect.
Both reeked of diesel fumes, although the cabin closest to the engine was worse.
I imagine this one was reserved for passengers who repeatedly broke the rules on
board or asked to get off the boat.
We tried to cheer up the Dutch but it became clear that they had already inhaled
too many diesel fumes and probably taken too much medication for us to be of
much help. They said that the drinks had run out on board (except for the
reserve supply for the crew) the day before and some passengers were also
showing early symptoms of scurvy (ok, I am making up the last bit).
As if by magic, a mechanic appeared, which suggested that the idea of the boat
getting from A to B was optimistic. He told a Spanish speaker in our group that
the engine had a problem, and it basically needed US$70000 of work done to it...
and the owner (whoever he was!) wasn\'t in the mood for parting with that kind of
A couple of hours later, still cabinless, we went back to the harbour for the
mainland day trip and left our things on board. At this point we still hadn\'t
met any other crew. The Dutch reckoned there had been a mutiny and the crew had
jumped ship, but they could have been hallucinating (see Wikipedia for article
on Marie Celeste). By 6pm, rumour spread that the Friendship wasn\'t leaving port
that night... and that they were organising a motorised launch the following
day to do a day trip to the islands we would have visited ie and then return
back to the stranded ship – in the hope that it would be repaired and the
I recalled one of the above posters in this forum saying they had spent 4
nights in a hotel waiting for the boat to be repaired. We decided to cut our
losses and abandon ship. We walked down to the harbour to wait for the
pre-arranged water taxi to take ourselves and the Dutch group back to the boat
(so they could resume treatment on board I assume) so we could pick up our
things. No sign of any taxi.
At this point, I decided it was time to take action and retrieve our bags from
the boat. Weighing up my options, I opted for a high-speed waterborne assault
under the cover of darkness. After finding a suitable boat, I realised the taxi
driver only had one eye... so it was more of a low-speed assault. As we
approached the boat in the darkness, I could now see that some crew were on
board. According to all the films I have seen, you are supposed to use grappling
hooks and throw stun grenades or smoke bombs to knock out the crew, but I
figured they were already out of it from the fumes on the boat.... so I just
climbed on board this time.
I was on and off the boat before any of them could say \'she sells sea shells on
the sea shore\' – that gave me a good hour I reckoned. 5 minutes later, I arrived
back at the harbour with all our bags... just as the Dutch were being loaded on
to a taxi to be shipped back to their cells on board the prison mothership.
I managed to get a full refund from the agency in Puerto Ayora within half an
hour, mainly by suggesting to the agent that I was about to enter the ground
phase of my assault mission. Another couple who had also abandoned ship were
less lucky (the agent subtracted 1 whole day of payment) but special operations
are still underway to retrieve this money as I write.
On the upside, while we were stationary in port, we saw a marine iguana,
sealions, a blue booby, pelicans.... great, except they were all steering well
clear of our boat.
New Year\'s Resolution: I will listen to advice that people give in forums like
Suggestion to the Galapagos port authority: Mine the boat, scupper it and you
have an instant shipwreck which you can charge tourists $300 a day to dive to.
Just make sure you get the tall Dutch bloke off first – the one who was refusing
to leave the boat – and pay for him to be sectioned in a mental health unit.
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