Choosing a Galapagos Cruise
If you love adventure and enjoy destinations with exotic beauty, then the Galapagos Islands on the Galapagos Cruises are the perfect destination for you and choosing a Galapagos Cruise correctly is very important. Also known as “The Enchanted Islands” due to their unique wildlife and incredible landscapes, the Galapagos Islands are one of the most emblematic tourist sites on the planet. This magical place led Charles Darwin to develop his theory of natural evolution.
The Galapagos archipelago consists of several islands including large, medium and small ones. Therefore, it is impossible to know them in full in a single visit. However, if you want to know as many islands as possible in a short time, it is advisable that you choose among the many Galapagos cruises available. This mode of travel allows you to choose between different itineraries ranging from 4 to 15 days in boats of the following categories: Tourist, Superior Tourist, First Class and Luxury Class.
Once you have decided choosing a Galapagos Cruise is the best travel option for you , a wide range of possibilities opens up for to you to choose from. Comparing these different cruise options might seem overwhelming and confusing without adequate information and details.
Some people may think that it is easy to simply hop on a plane and get to the Galapagos Islands without any previous preparation. They believe that once in the Islands they can find out about available Galapagos cruises. This is not advisable unless you have a lot of time to be in Galapagos and are willing risk not finding any cruise availability. Due to the high demand, many excursions, especially in the luxury and superior categories, are often fully booked. Reservations for high quality Galapagos cruises are usually made several months in advance and it is recommended that they be done by a local tour operator to ensure the best possible pricing.
Choosing a Galapagos Cruise by size
There are three categories of Galapagos Cruises: large (80-100 passengers), medium (40-50 passengers), and small (up to 20 passengers). All the cruises in the islands have to be authorized by the Galapagos National Park.
Larger cruises usually have more comfortable facilities and more ability to reach islands farther away than Santa Cruz (like the West part of Isabela and Fernandina). They have more passenger capacity, more activities and work according to a more structured scheduled. On the other hand, small ships are more intimate and offer much more flexibility in, for example, the time that passengers want to spend scuba diving or exploring the islands. Small boats have less room and social spaces and are more vulnerable to sea conditions.
Choosing a Galapagos Cruise by quality
There are 4 categories of Galapagos cruises: Luxury, First Class, Tourist Superior and Tourist. The price of your excursion will depend on the type of cruise you choose. The most economical boats are usually smaller, have guides with less experience, and less impressive facilities; however, they offer more intimate excursions that facilitate interactions with your travel companions and with the crew. The more expensive cruises involve better vessels with more power and highly experienced guides.
Prices for Galapagos cruises vary widely. Certainly, price is related to quality, but a good experience on the islands also depends a lot on your guide, the crew, and fellow passengers.
Choosing a Galapagos Cruise for family
Some cruise boats are suitable for children, particularly the larger ones, as they have more activities and are more stable in the water. However, children under 7 are usually not admitted on excursions since the restrictive nature of certain parts of the islands is not suitable for them. In addition, the medical facilities of the islands are only suitable to provide first aid, and in case of an emergency, you would have to return to Guayaquil or Quito. Because of this, a good option for families with small kids is to rent a vessel.
Do not let the price of a rental boat intimidate you. At the end, it may be more cost-effective if you share the price with a large group of people. In fact, traveling on a rented boat is cheaper if you can fill it at 80% capacity. The main reasons for renting are: having the vessel on a private basis, the opportunity of designing your own itinerary and changing it to meet your traveling interests (notice in advance required), and choosing your guide. Authorities have to approve in advance any changes in schedules and itineraries.
Choosing a Galapagos Cruise by duration
The standard time for a trip to the Galapagos Islands goes from 3 to 7 nights. If your budget or the time to visit the Islands is limited a 3-night cruise is a fine alternative to have a taste of the Galapagos Islands. However, the ideal is to travel for a week or more. Some people may think, “one island more, one island less, there is no difference since all resemble each other, right?” This is completely incorrect! Each island has a unique ecosystem, landscape, flora and fauna. For a naturalist, birdwatcher, diver or photographer, a week would be the minimum recommended.
When to take a Galapagos Cruise?
Due to the influence of three marine currents, the Galapagos Islands benefit from a unique micro climate that is between dry and temperate. In winter, which goes from the end of May to the end of December, the water temperature fluctuates between 18 and 22°C. During the warm season, the temperature increases, but the air is kept cool by moisture. The temperature of the water is more pleasant at 24 to 30 ° C, depending on the island.
In any case, the temperatures in general are enjoyable in Galapagos all year round, allowing you to experience a Galapagos Cruise at any time of the year. However, if you want to see this destination at its best, you should schedule the cruise from July to November. At this time of year, the sun is very present, the plants bloom and the birds and other animals that inhabit the Galapagos are easily identifiable through mangroves and volcanic landscapes.