Choosing the right cruise in Galapagos Islands


The Galapagos Islands are well known, not only for its important input to Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, but also for its unique wildlife, pristine landscapes, and harsh conditions.

1,000 km away from the South American continent, the Galapagos Islands welcome worldwide travelers keen to watch fearless animal species, volcanic landscapes, as well as enjoying the adventure of sunbathing on unique beaches.

However, how is it cruising the Galapagos Islands? It is the most common question that potential travelers have when they are evaluating Galapagos as their next destination. Cruising is a wonderful experience that everybody should live at least once, and there is no better place than the pristine Galapagos Islands. Once travelers decide to cruise the archipelago, the next big question is should I choose a small or a big yacht?

Hence, the following points may help to answer these questions:

Types of cruise ships

People can cruise the Enchanted Islands aboard different type of vessels such as sailboats, catamarans, or big yachts. The most common way to cruise the archipelago is by small yachts. Each one of these options varies regarding facilities and budgets. Although each person has its own preferences, it is worth considering that small cruises get away from crowded boats, where every passenger is another number of 50 or 90 other people onboard. In a small yacht, guests can have a greater level of intimacy that simply cannot be recreated on large vessels.

Long navigations during the night

One of the good things about cruising the Galapagos Islands is that most of the vessels navigate the longest journeys during the night. Why? Because it is the only way that visitors can experience the different islands during the day, and do the different activities. So, expect to wake up every day in a different environment. However, some days require daytime navigations.

Unforgettable sunsets

Galapagos is unforgettable by itself, but one of the most remarkable things that visitors can experience are the sunsets. Cruising the archipelago let aboard passengers experience unique sunsets, especially during those days that the yachts start to navigate earlier. There is no better way to close the daily journey than resting in one of the sunbeds at the Sun Deck, or relaxing with your partner or cruise mates in one of the Jacuzzis meanwhile the sky starts to turn in yellow, orange, and red.

Busy days and exciting experiences

It is important to know that cruising the islands is not a relaxing trip per se. Every day starts early in the morning with a succulent breakfast before going offshore and discovers the wonders hidden in the islands. Then at mid-morning, sometimes, the group return to the cruise ship for resting a bit or changing their clothes, either for doing snorkeling or going for a hike in one of the volcanic islands. After that, lunch is a must with a short resting time before going to the afternoon activities. Even though the body may be tired at the end of the day, the adrenaline and the excitement of discovering new things make travelers feel energetic. It is important to mention that the excursions and activities are not mandatory, so another option for a guest is to stay onboard and relax by skipping an activity.

More places to visit in less time

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is the best way to discover more in less time. So, it is a great investment for those travelers that are looking for a journey that allows them to do more for less. Also, it is the only way to reach the faraway islands or places that are not available in daily tours.

A relaxing environment

Although Galapagos is not merely a destination for relaxing, being on vacations might bring up that expectation for many people. Take in consideration the many spaces a cruise ship has to offer and how many people will be using every space. Small vessels have no more than 20 passenger cruising at the same time, which means the cruise is less loud and crowded, with more services and areas available for enjoying the cruise.

Personalized service

Traveling with fewer people allows the local crew pay attention to every single detail of each passenger. From special requirements, medical conditions, or dietary restrictions. Also, it is ideal for building a good relationship between the guests and the crew, which is keen to share their knowledge, experiences, and stories to every guest. Of course the number of crew members will go accordingly to the number of guests aboard, but even if there are people available to help you with every requirement, you might want to consider how close the relationship with others you want to create.

Access to the coast

Big yachts must anchor at the open sea, while the small vessels can approach more to the bay. From that point passengers will be transported using “pangas” or small boats which are less comfortable. Depending on your health, age and people you are travelling with, this might be a factor to consider.

Eco-friendly tourism

As human beings it is our responsibility to care about the impact every action has. Visiting new places is not the exception, especially while going to natural places such as the Galapagos islands. It is not important just to consider our individual actions, but also the ones of products and services we use. The Galapagos National Parks has strict regulations, still the difference in size of a cruise ship will have different kinds of impact on the environment. There are many actions, even little ones that can make the difference. You might want to pay attention to aspects such as the use of biodegradable products onboard, local people being employed and getting local suppliers.

Every traveler has specific needs and circumstances to consider while choosing between the variety of options available. Of course it shouldn’t be a stressful process to pick the right option. The best decision a traveler can do is trust in destination experts and explain them the specific situation. Galapagos is the same destination, no matter the option chosen, but the right memories will be achieved only if visitors let themselves be guided by trusted destination experts.

Marcel Perkins is CEO at Latin Trails. Latin Trails is an incoming destination management company specialized in bespoke tours, with a focus on offering unique experiences throughout Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Peru.

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Comments (5)

  1. Dave says:

    A few years ago I was quite keen on doing a Galapagos Cruise but I think I got discouraged by the sheer variety of choices. Part of the problem was that I didn’t know what I was looking for and also probably didn’t know what I wanted. This definitely steers me in the direction of a smaller boat. Useful advice, thanks.

  2. Lewis P. says:

    Personally, I’d want to tour the Galapagos privately with my significant other. The abundance of nature, sea life, and being out there on a boat in the Galapagos begs for it. Sunsets, hot tubs, and new experiences are definitely romantic to me. I wouldn’t mind group cruises as well, since I can get to meet new people, and makes that time alone with your loved one all the more precious.

    • Hannah Goldman says:

      You’re right, there is something romantic about the Galapagos and a cruise like this. I wonder if they get many proposals on these intimate cruises?

  3. Oscar says:

    As the Galápagos Islands are a 1,000 km from the South America continent where do the cruises usually begin and end?

  4. Hannah Goldman says:

    If I had to pick somewhere to take a cruise, experiencing the archipelago would probably be top of my list. I definitely see the benefit to having expert advice on taking a cruise and in exploring and making the most of the visit. I personally wouldn’t know where to start so I’d take all the help I could get! I’ve never been on a cruise but various family members have and they absolutely rave about them. I’m not sure if they’ve ever been around the Galapagos Islands yet though, so I’ll have to check and send this to them as I’m sure they’re probably looking to plan next year’s adventures soon if they haven’t already.

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