Galapagos Islands Cruise 🚢
The best way to explore Galápagos?
There’s two ways to explore the Galápagos islands. The first one which has gained a lot of popularity in the last months is discovering Galápagos from the land, doing daily tours to another islands and with different experiences for everyone’s need.
Which of these two options is better depends on many things. There’s no “good” or “bad” option cause it mostly depends on your budget, the days you have available, what are you looking forward to see on the islands and the type of traveler you are. We’ll cover all the pros, cons and frequently asked questions about Galapagos cruises so you can decide and remember, you can always drop us a line if you have any questions.
Must have items for your Galapagos Trip
Benefits of discovering Galápagos on a Cruise
Access unique places only reachable by cruise 🏝
One of the best advantages of doing a cruise on the Galápagos Islands is that you’ll get access to very remote and wonderful islands that you won’t be able to see if you are based on the main islands. The reason why these islands are only reachable by cruise is because they are far away from and you won’t be able to go there and then come back on the same day with daylight to the main islands (Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal) it takes a few hours to reach their location.
Another reason is that they are protected you cannot spend the night there (there’s no hotels, population or any infrastructure whatsoever there) since the Galápagos Rules do not allow camping there either, so having a cruise where you can spend the night is a good solution.
A very clear example of the places you can reach by cruise on Galápagos is Rabid Island with its red sand beaches. Genovesa or Fernandina Island (where you can find one of the most active volcanoes in the world) are also places only reachable by cruise that are 100% worth to see.
Getting to these places is a once in a lifetime experience and a very different way to travel, since most touristic places in the world are usually packed, here you get the change to explore it by yourself and your cruise friends only. Its the perfect way to connect with nature, see Galápagos unique species and landscapes and really disconnect.
There’s 21 islands and many islets in total on the Galapagos Islands. Out of those 21, only 14 are open for visitors with a certified authorized guide to make sure everyone follows the Galapagos Rules.
Without a cruise the amount of islands you can reach is even more reduced. For this reason if there is a specific island you want to visit and its a non-negotiable, make sure to check for a cruise that has that one included on their itinerary.
A true opportunity to disconnect for real 📵
When we take days off we see it as an opportunity to disconnect from our daily stress and work. However, even if thats the intention, we fall into the bad habit of checking the phone, looking at the email just in case, whatsapp notifications and reading news because is very difficult to detach from it when you have easy access from your phone.
Even though in Galápagos main islands you do have coverage, is not as fast as in the continent and the more away you get from them (like you will on the cruise) the difficult it gets to have internet on your phone. Of course some cruises have wifi included but we would really recommend this trip as a great opportunity to get away from civilization and get more in touch with nature, sea lions, fishes, the sea, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies and even sharks and you’ll see how renovated and full of energy you’ll get back to your country, because nothing compares to the joy that nature can give you.
More places in less time 🕐
Good thing about traveling on a cruise is that you don’t have to get back to the island every day to sleep on the hotel. That way you make the most of your time in Galápagos getting to several places in just one day, more that what you could visit on a regular day tour. However, this depends on each cruise itinerary, it’s not something you can create on your own as you would on the land base way to know Galápagos.
All included mode, no need to worry 👑
On cruises there is usually all the food, refreshments, necessary equipment and, depending on the ship, entertainment already included, so you will not have to think about organizing any of these activities.
Favorite choice for scuba divers 🐟
Galapagos is on the top destination for scuba divers, given the unique sea life and variety you are able to see there, including the shark whale thats found on Darwin and Wolf Island, on of the islands only reachable by cruise for its far away location. Same thing happens with Gordon Rocks, another dreamy island and an amazing spot for diving.
You can also do diving tours while you are base on the mainlands but not to these far away islands that usually are the most attractive for divers.
The cons of discovering Galápagos on a Cruise
There’s always two sides of the story and even though a cruise on Galápagos has a lot of benefit it also has a few cons you should know in order to make an informed decision on what’s best for you.
Price twice as much as a land based itinerary 💰
Cruises in Galapagos usually are from 5 days up to 2 weeks. The price per day is usually around $500, the variation depends on the size of the boat, the places it goes, the total days, etc. With what you spend on 1 day in a Galapagos cruise you could easily have 5 days on land with a good hotel and daily tours. So its significantly less and you save a lot.
Less freedom and personalization to your itinerary ⏰
Cruises are usually on a predefined – tight schedule that’s not very flexible because they need to follow it in order to make sure you visit all the places included on the package. This means that if you want to spend just a little bit more on a beach or on a snorkeling sessions is less likely that you’ll be able to do so. Its true that depending on the embarkation (especially the size of it) some may be a bit more flexible than others but this is not the usual.
This would be completely different if you create your own schedule. Remember that in Galápagos Low Cost we can help you build a personalized itinerary that fits your needs, days and budget. That way you can add only the activities you want to do, avoid the ones you are not interested in, spend as much as you want on the best Galapagos beaches and enjoy a lot of free activities and time on your own, with a slow or fast paced itinerary, whatever works best for your.
Seasickness can really ruin your trip 🤢
A lot of people suffer sea sickness and if you are one of those (you can be and not know it) you can spend a few days of the cruise with nausea and headaches. That’s why we recommend bringing sea sickness pills to your Galápagos trip to avoid this happening and another advice is that if you suffer from this we would recommend a longer and bigger cruise (more stable).
No flexibility on dates 📆
Cruises have very specific immovable dates, to depart and to get back. That means that you’ll have to adjust your travel dates, flights and everything around the defined dates but the cruise company.
We usually associate cruise to luxury, like the celebrity flora widely known in Galápagos. But not all Galápagos cruises are like that. Some boats are very small and even though they are well equipped that doesn’t necessarily translates into comfort especially for the longer cruises. Don’t think of a giant cruise like the ones that go over the caribbean because those aren’t the most common ones in Galápagos. Smaller boats mean smaller cabins, less common space, and more motion.
💸 Galapagos cruise prices 💸
The final price for a Galápagos cruise depends on the durations and the type of boat you chose, but if you want to have an idea of the cost it can be from $400 to $700 a day. So, probably a total for all days is usually around $3000 but as we said before, depends on the cruise company, the season and many other factors. Sometimes there’s last minute discounts so make sure you keep an eye on them if you have enough days on the islands.
If you need help booking a cruise or daily tours feel free to reach out to us and we’ll give you advice and a personalized itinerary for free.
🗒 Galapagos cruise duration 🗒
4 to 5 days Galápagos cruise
We believe that this is the best option to be able to combine both the experience of knowing Galapagos on a cruise and also to have some days staying on the islands and take one of the daily tours in Galapagos that depart from the main islands, both land and snorkeling. . These cruises, being of short duration, focus on a specific area of the archipelago, be it west, south or east. It is advisable that before booking you make sure exactly what is the route that this cruise takes so that it is different from the activities that you can do with the tours that depart from land every day.
The not so good thing about this type of short cruise is that some passengers do not usually adapt very well to the movement of the boat and can suffer dizziness, headaches and nausea. It is normal for this to happen but sometimes it takes a few days for the body to get used to it and when it is short-lived it may be that if you are one of those passengers, then for the 5 days you spend 2 joining the motion and do not enjoy the cruise too much.
8 days Galápagos cruise
This is usually the most requested option by tourists who want to take a Galapagos cruise. In 8 days it gives time to explore many iconic places in the archipelago and it is also enough time to get used to life on board without suffering discomfort from movement.
15 days Galápagos cruise
In a 15-day cruise you can cover almost all of what the Galapagos Islands have, since they visit both the main and the most remote islands that also have great attractions. Being so long, they can afford to spend a little more time and without being in such a hurry in the places you visit. However, it can be uncomfortable for some people to spend so much time on board, depending on the comforts of the boat. It all depends on the preferences you have.
How many days is it recommended to take a cruise in Galapagos?
It really depends a lot on several factors. First, the number of days you have available and the activities or sites you want to visit. The second important factor is money, since obviously the more days the more expensive the cruise will be (the same number of days on a cruise costs less than half staying on land) and the last factor is comfort.
In our opinion, a 5-day cruise that visits places that are not accessible on daily tours can be a good option to be able to do a combined itinerary.
Remember that at Galapagos Low Cost we can help you put together your personalized itinerary or choose the cruise or ideal for your trip to Galapagos at no cost. Contact us, tell us your budget and plans and we will work with you to reach a proposal that perfectly matches what you need.
What type of boat to choose? 🚢
The type of boat is a crucial point when defining the experience that you are going to have on your Galapagos cruise, since as we have previously mentioned, comfort is an important point when it comes to enjoying (or not) a cruise in Galapagos.
Galapagos small size cruises
A small cruise will surely be a little cheaper and they also have the added benefit of being more flexible, since it is easier to coordinate fewer people (between 15 and 16 passengers). Therefore if at any time you want to extend a visit, a snorkeling session is easier for everyone to agree and as far as possible, safe and legal to adjust the experience a little more to travelers. The downside to small boats is that they have fewer recreation areas, common spaces, and no extra activities. For this reason, besides being in the cabin, the only entertainment will be enjoying the view and doing the activities.
An advantage that is a double-edged sword is that being a small boat, it is easier to interact and create a close environment with the people on board, that is, it is easier to get to know and connect with everyone. The bad thing that can happen is that in the end you do not get along too well or there is not a good relationship with the rest of the people on board, since there is not much place where you can go to avoid them.
Galapagos mid-size cruises
This type of boat usually has between 30 and 50 passengers. The biggest benefit of this type of cruise is that they keep some of the advantages of small ones, such as flexibility, but with a little more space. In addition to this, being a little larger they are more stable so there is less propensity to suffer from dizziness and seasickness.
Galapagos big cruises
Larger cruises tend to be more expensive but compensate for on board entertainment and service. This means that there’s more common areas, many more dining options and some may even have live performances. The downside is that by focusing the experience inside the ship, depending on the duration of the cruise, expeditions may not spend enough time, there is more haste and less flexibility. It is not the type of cruises that we usually recommend. On these cruises there are usually between 50 and 100 passengers.
Where do the Galapagos cruises depart from?📍
Most Galapagos cruises depart from Baltra Island, where the airport is located. Baltra Island is located north of Santa Cruz Island and has an excellent location since being very north it is quite close to some of the islands that are usually visited on cruises such as Seymour or Bartolomé. For this reason, it is necessary that when you book your flight to the Galapagos, you do so with the destination of Seymour Airport in Baltra and not in San Cristóbal. You can always cross from one island to another by ferry, but for comfort and being more practical we recommend doing it that way.
Is a cruise the best way to get to know the Galapagos Islands? 🤔
The cost of a cruise trip is much higher than other options. But even having this money, is it the best way to get to know the Galapagos Islands? If you have the budget and the availability of time, a cruise can be the perfect complement to discover the islands that can only be accessed through a cruise such as Isla Rábida. Therefore we recommend you identify the places you do not want to miss, your budget and your days and based on that make a decision and if you need advice remember that you can drop us a line and we will be happy to help you.
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I will be arriving Feb 18 ( this is flexible) I am traveling alone but am willing to share a room on a cruise. I’m on a tight budget and am thinking if a 4-5 day cruise on a smaller boat. If I am flying in from Quito, what time of the day do most of the cruises deoart? Could you give me some options? Also are there some lower cost accommodations on land?