Tuesday, March 21, 2023

How To Choose The Best Galapagos Cruise

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Galapagos Travel Tips

Naturalist Cruise

Exploring the islands on a small yacht is the classic way to see the Galapagos. You travel from island to island and site to site on board the boat, disembarking multiple times a day to explore on foot and go snorkeling.

On a typical day on any cruise, you wake up early in the morning for a quick breakfast and then go out a site on an island for about 2 to 4 hours. Youll explore on foot and/or go snorkeling. Then youll return to the boat for a little down time and lunch. During this time, the boat will travel to either a different island, or a different site on the same island. Then you go on your next excursion in the afternoon. Similar to the morning, it will last for a few hours, and youll go on foot and/or snorkeling. In addition to the two main excursions of the day, its also likely you will go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, or take the small zodiacs out to explore the shoreline. These excursions are usually shorter, but still worthwhile. In the evening, youll have dinner, a briefing for the next day, and down time. At night, the boat will travel to a different site for the next days adventures.

Yachts range in size from 10 100 passengers, although a majority hold 16 passengers as this is the maximum number of visitors who can tour anywhere within the Park with one naturalist.

Pros of a cruise:

Cons of a cruise:



Multisport or Active Adventure Trip

Scuba Diving

Is The Crew Made Up Of Galapagos Experts And Guest Service Specialists

A passionate, experienced crew is perhaps the most important feature of any Galapagos yacht. They are the friendly engine that makes your trip of a lifetime run smoothly.

Rule of thumb: When choosing which Galapagos cruise company to set sail with, opt for the crew with the most experience. The companies that have been around since the very beginning of Galapagos expeditions know the ins and outs of what guests are looking for, and they have employed the best team of experts for over 20 and 30 years.

A crew of Galapagos enthusiasts and experienced guest service specialists will go to great lengths to make your trip one to remember, such as:

  • Sharing their passion for food through incredible happy hour fare and 5-star cuisine.
  • Immersing you in the landscape and wildlife of the Galapagos with naturalist expertise and insider access tours.
  • Guaranteeing a high crew to guest ratio to ensure your needs are met, from the most seasoned adventure guides to hand-picked executive chefs.
  • Cleaning your cabin twice daily and adding delightful touches, like towel animals and daily chocolates, to welcome you back to your stateroom.

Expert Tip On Galapagos Boat Size:

No matter who you travel with my recommendation is to avoid vessels of over 40 to 100 passengers. Thats because the Galapagos is a marine wilderness and when you show up on a landing site with that many passengers it becomes a beach with a lot of people on it.

The nature trails are single file so no matter how you break a group of 48 to 100 passengers you are going to have to wait on line to have your chance to see a pair of blue footed boobies doing their mating dance.

Do you really want to snorkel with 99 other passengers plus guides?

Before 2012 yachts were typically doing the same itinerary week in and week out. Then the park changed the rules so that yachts had to wait two weeks before visiting the same landing sites which had the effect of dispersing yachts more evenly throughout the park, while reducing the environmental load on each site. Before 2012 there were more crossovers, which means sharing your landing site with other yachts. Imagine arriving at a site only to discover that you had to share the site with a ship of 100 passengers. These days there are few crossovers. As a result, you arent likely to find a crowd in the Galapagos unless you bring one with you.

I will leave it at this. If you are going out into a wilderness habitat to get up close to animals in the wild would you choose so by going on a floating yacht safari or a cruise ship?

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Make Sure Your Cruise Offers Multiple Guides

Group sizes on Galapagos cruise tours are tightly regulated by the National Parks authorities. Thats why group sizes will often vary based on the number of naturalist guides that are required to accompany all cruise tours in the Galapagos. The Galapagos National Park has established a guide-to-guest ratio that is capped at a maximum of 16 cruise guests per Naturalist Guide. If your cruise does not have multiple naturalist guides available, its very likely you will have to wait for that one guide to be free in order to supervise an activity thats more to your liking.

Multiple guides mean multiple and simultaneous activities during your stay in Galapagos.

Do you love kayaking? Want to take a ride on the glass-bottom boat? Snorkeling? It would be a pity for you to have to wait around until your guide becomes available, or even worse simply not have the ability to choose from a different activity. And this is why you should really consider picking a Galapagos cruise tour that offers multiple guides.

What To Expect On A Galapagos Cruise

4 of the best Galapagos tours &  cruises from Quito

All Galapagos cruises include daily guided shore excursions in small groups to explore the islands and experience wildlife up close. A typical full day involves disembarking the ship twice for landings or exploration by pangas , with breakfast, lunch and dinner served on board. Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours round-trip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna. Some landings are dry but many are wet, requiring cautious footing on slippery rocks. Snorkeling is available most days, and the underwater experience is an integral part of any Galapagos cruise. I encourage all travelers to try snorkeling. Other activities, depending upon your vessel of choice, can include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and glass-bottom boat rides.

Because these daily guided excursions are common to the first-class Galapagos ships AdventureSmith recommends, its best to choose your cruise by first narrowing down the ship you want to sail on.Take advice from our experts who have been there: Send a postcard, consider a wetsuit and stick with the guide. We visit the Galapagos frequently and offer Galapagos Travel Tips to help you make the most of your vacation. Arrive an informed traveler and get in the know before you go by reading our best pre-trip advice and understanding the must-dos before you set sail. Plus, on-ship and on-trail Galapagos cruise advice from our seasoned staff.

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What Is The Best Cruise To The Galapagos

Well, there is no one answer, all the cruises are excellent because they take you around such a unique area, the Galapagos Islands. Obviously, the higher the costs, the better the services and the more luxurious is the boat. However, even budget Galapagos Cruises will be able to take you around incredible places. It all boils down to what you want to see, how much time you have and the budget available.

First Class $600 To $700 Per Person Per Day

First class cruises are just one step down from luxury, in terms of price and how nice your cabin and boat are. These are some of Knowmads favorite boats because you can find a lot of variety within this class. There are many first class boats offering a luxury level experience but on a first class vessel and with a first class price tag. However, there are also many that really should be calling themselves a tourist superior option instead, so its important to work with a Trip Specialist who has inspected cruises and knows the best first class boats out there.

Overall, if working with a good first class boat, the biggest differences you will find between first and luxury class is the variety and level of food, spaciousness and luxury of the cabins, and the amenities on board. For example, most first class boats do not include wetsuits in the rate, but instead provide them for rent at an extra charge on board.

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When Is The Best Time To Travel To The Galapagos

Due to their position on the equator, the climate does not undergo significant temperature changes. Therefore, the Galapagos Islands can be visited all year round.

The only factor that may change tourists experience on the islands is rain. However, even during the so-called rainy season, rainfall in the Galapagos is minimal. The Galapagos Islands are very arid, meaning that, even in the rainy season, you can enjoy the equatorial sun, accompanied by short and light drizzles, known as garúa.

Rainy Season: December to April.

Dry Season: May to November.

The best time to travel to the Galapagos depends on the animals you want to see. You can view our wildlife calendar.

How Long Is A Galapagos Cruise

The BEST Galapagos Islands Cruise?

Expedition cruises in the Galapagos range in duration, with most trips lasting between 4 and 10 days. It may seem counterintuitive at first but do know that choosing a longer cruise here doesnt mean youll simply see more wildlife but youll see a much wider array of creatures. More AND different. The longer you can stay, the more youll get out of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

When it comes to duration, its also important to note that there are actually quite a few options on all the itineraries detailed below: not all 5-day Galapagos cruises, for example, visit the same islands. Read on to get an idea of just what you can see and experience in a set number of cruising days.

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Family Travel In The Galapagos Islands

Not all ships are created equal for Galapagos family cruises. Some common things to look for when selecting cruise cabins as a family are triple- or quadruple-occupancy options, extra space and interconnected cabin doors, as well as onboard programs, menus and/or themed departures for kids when selecting your itinerary and dates of travel. Many families consider a Galapagos yacht charter for even more flexibility and customization. Learn more about family cruises to destinations worldwide.

How Much Time Do I Need To See The Galapagos Islands

Because it takes time and money to get to the Galapagos Islands and the first and last days of your trip are mostly travel days, we recommend you plan to spend at least 5 days in the Galapagos, and 8 to 15 days will allow you to have a comprehensive Galapagos experience.

We highly recommend not going to the Galapagos for less than 4 days! If that is all the time you have, save the Galapagos for another trip when you have more time.

Recommended length of visit:

  • 4 days if you just want to check the Galapagos off your bucket list, but dont really care to fully experience it
  • 5 to 6 days if you have very limited time but still want a memorable experience
  • 7 to 8 days if you want a good comprehensive Galapagos trip that allows you to experience the diversity of the different islands
  • 9 to 15 days if you want to maximize your experience and really get to know the Galapagos

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What Makes The Galapagos So Unique

It is the endemism, or unique species only found in the Galapagos, that makes the islands so interesting, and that helped Charles Darwin shape his theory of evolution by natural selection following his 5-week visit to the archipelago aboard the Beagle in 1835. Darwin initially noticed great variations between mockingbirds on each island. He also had heard many tales of differences in size and shape of the tortoises, and he eventually studied the beaks of the finches to see more of this variation.

As Darwin noticed, endemism in the Galapagos doesnt just mean a species is unique to the island chain, but it often is endemic to a particular island, or even a particular volcano . Thus, the plants and animals can be very different on island from the next, and viewing this variation is a fascinating part of the experience.

Natural selection continues in the Galapagos, and it is quite easy to see the variations between species by visiting multiple islands, and this is a big reason to visit. The archipelago has become an important laboratory in our desire to understand this phenomenon and scientists are conducting research on various species on different islands.

Who Should Go Is The Galapagos For Everybody

M/V Isabela II Galapagos Luxury Cruise

The Galapagos Islands are for nature lovers who wish to see, interact with, and learn about the incredible and unique plant and animal species and unique and diverse landscapes of this archipelago. The Galapagos is not for people seeking a beach vacation where they will be served drinks with umbrellas in them while relaxing around the pool or on the beach.

Traveling with kids in the Galapagos is an amazing experience for all. I dont recommend taking really young kids, say younger than 4, however, and found with my own kids that the 8 year old was able to pay attention to the naturalist on walks, while the 6 year old got bored and just wanted to walk around. Going with the kids is definitely a different experience for the adults too, as you may not get to hear everything the naturalist says, but you will get to experience the joy and wonder of wildlife encounters through the eyes of your children. Greg Findley, Detour Founder and CEO

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Galapagos Island Cruises : How To Choose

The Galapagos Islands is one of the most special destinations in the world, but there are so many options to choose from if you would like to visit them. In this blog, we are going to help you with some tips on how to choose your Galapagos Island cruises. When you are choosing your own cruise to the Galapagos Islands there are some important features to take into account.

Check The Trip Details

Now that we have narrowed down our research that leads to the best Galapagos Islands cruise, we need to look into the details.

Check the boat details -Is it big enough that guarantee a stable cruise if you are subject to seasickness? Or is it too big that can hold too many people and you dont like big crowds?

Check the itinerary is there everything you want to see in the Galapagos Islands included in the itinerary? Sometimes we need to be flexible if we dont find the exact same itinerary that we have in mind. But probably there are must-see places that are non-negotiable for us. Or maybe we find exactly the itinerary we want but we dont like the boat or its too expensive for our budget. So make sure go through the itinerary properly.

Check the previous customers reviews it is always important to see what previous guests opinions are, but keep in mind that we have all different experience based also on personal expectations. So read the reviews but also make sure not to let one bad review prevent you from booking. If you are undecided about a negative review, ask the operator if what has been described is the truth.

Check the final price the rate that you see on the front page is approximate. You will need to simulate a booking if you want to see the real final price. In fact, you need to first select the cabin and each cabin a different price and then the system will calculate the taxes.

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Why Choose A Luxury Galapagos Cruise

Guides drive the Galapagos experience, and luxury ships hire the best. Most have doctorates in fields like marine biology and ornithology. Their English is excellent, and they enthusiastically and compellingly share their knowledge.

Luxury cruises often have cool exploration tools. For instance, they can employ divers to shoot underwater videos. Expedition experts use underwater microscopes to capture plankton samples.

Luxury ships might have glass-bottom Zodiacs it’s spectacular to view reef fish in areas unreachable through snorkeling. They’ll also have additional water sport toys like paddle-boards and kayaks. Snorkeling gear and wet suits are included. Luxury ships usually book photographers and videographers to create a voyage DVD, guaranteeing a fabulous flick of your bucket-list trip.

Expect more shipboard amenities like laundry service more dining options with fancier, higher-quality food more beverage choices, including fine wines and spirits entertainment libraries fitness rooms and spas. You might even score a veranda to privately ogle views. And most — if not all — amenities are complimentary.

Which Galapagos Islands Are The Most Beautiful To Visit

Galapagos Islands Travel

The Galapagos is a destination like no other. The islands are filled with magnificent flora and fauna, stunning beaches, and views like no other. However, as an area that is famed for being unspoiled, most tours to these islands are with small Galapagos cruises that are as environmentally friendly as possible.

If youre planning your next trip and want to learn more about the 21 islands in this beautiful archipelago, here is some information about the three islands that are most worth visiting.


Isabela is the biggest island in the archipelago, which means there are plenty of things to see and do. Isabelas main town, Puerto Villamil, has a laid-back vibe, perfect for anyone who wants to sit back and admire the incredible nature and extraordinary views this island has to offer.

Santa Cruz

This island is the most densely populated in the Galapagos. This area has restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotels that make the most exceptional scenery. This island is home to Tortuga Bay, where we can observe black turtles lay eggs in January and February and hatching these eggs in April and May.

North Seymour

If you are a bird lover, North Seymour is the island you must visit before leaving Galapagos. The island is all about the birds and is one of the best places to see beautiful blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigates. Better yet, your guide walks you through this area for a better understanding of the fauna.

Book with renowned Galapagos cruise operators today

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