How to Choose your Galapagos Cruise | Galapagos Cruise Comparison Guide
Yeah, that’s right… once you write down Galapagos Cruises on Google for your trip research it all gets a bit confusing. Galapagos offers a wide variety of boats and vessels for cruising the islands. You will find different boat classifications based on pricing and comfort (i.e Luxury Cruises, First Class Cruises, etc), and you will also find deferent types of boat designs such as catamarans, big vessel ships, small sailboats, etc.
So, how to choose with so many options? Well, this article will provide a short Galapagos Cruise Comparison Guide. It will give you all the info on you need about cruise classes, the types of cruise designs and what are their pros and cons. We sincerely hope it will help you choose the right Galapagos Cruise for your trip.
First of all, what are the Galapagos Cruises Classifications?
Let’s start with the basic cruise distinction in Galapagos. Most tour operators and agencies will divide cruises in the following way. Let’s take a look at each of those:
- Luxury Class Galapagos Cruises
- First Class Galapagos Cruises
- Mid-Range Class Galapagos cruises (aka. Tourist and Tourist Superior Class Cruises)
- Budget Class Galapagos Cruises (aka. Economy Cruises)
LUXURY CLASS GALAPAGOS CRUISES
As implied by the name, Luxury boats are high end embarkations. You will get spacious cabins with larger king or queen beds and a very comfortable design. These hold ample sundecks and some cabins will even have private balconies. You will also find other extra amenities such as Jacuzzis, spas, masseuses.
Gourmet meals are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometime include some types of alcoholic beverages. You will usually get the VIP lounges at the airport, and some include airport transfers in Quito and Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador.
Regarding the guide, you will get Level III bilingual naturalist guides (University degree or higher)
So, if you are looking for the full and exclusive cruise experience, this is definitely your best bet!
Most Luxury boats hold different prices for each room. But price range (approximate) goes from $4,000 to $6,000 per person for 5 days; $6,000 to $8,000 per person for 8 days
Our recommended Luxury Class Cruises:
FIRST CLASS GALAPAGOS CRUISES
First Class cruises in Galapagos are also considered high-end boats, but usually have smaller cabins than Luxury boats. They are still top comfortable to be honest. You can expect smaller double or twin sized beds, but not bunk beds (with only a few of exceptions). The facilities on board will be very comfy, with spacious common areas, and sometimes Jacuzzis and spas. Meals will be delicious but not as gourmet as in luxury boats.
Regarding the guide, you will get Level II or III bilingual naturalist guides (University degree or higher).
First Class cruise price can range between $3,500 to $5,000 per person for 5 days; $5,000 to $6,000 per person for 8 days
Our recommended First-Class Cruises in Galapagos:
MID-RANGE CLASS GALAPAGOS CRUISES (aka. Tourist and Superior Class)
These cruises are a great option if you are looking for a through trip in the Galapagos but don’t need all the luxuries. The cabins are smaller and usually hold bunk beds. You’ll still get private bathrooms and hot water and air-conditioner, but you might need to share the cabin if you are a solo traveler. The common areas are not as spacious, but you won’t feel overcrowded. The food will be good but not gourmet style. So, if you are not that much into luxury, you’ll be just fine, you will most likely be spending your time out on the deck anyway! These boats feature Level II (bilingual) Naturalist Guides.
Mid-range cruises price range (approximate): $2,000 to $3,000 per person for 5 days; $3,500 to $4,500 per person for 8 days
Our recommended Mid-Range Class Cruises in Galapagos:
BUDGET CLASS GALAPAGOS CRUISES (ECONOMY CLASS)
These are usually smaller, a little less spacious, and some hold cabins with shared bathrooms. The good thing about economy cruises is that they will still take you to remote locations in the Galapagos with bilingual naturalist guides while remaining good for your pocket! Do take in mind that most Budget cruises are small, say 12 – 16 passenger capacity, hence, they will be more prone to move more with the tide. During June to November (the cool current season) these will get choppier and if you are prone to motion sickness, this boat category is probably a good choice.
But, if you are not so much into luxurious comfort and have a small budget for your trip, these are ideal! Remember that the wildlife and incredible scenery of the Galapagos is the same no matter what class of boat you choose
Budget cruises price range (approximate): $900 to $1,200 per person for 5 days; $1,500 to $1,800 per person for 8 days
These are our recommended Budget Class Cruises in Galapagos:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Occasionally cruises from all categories go on last minute prices or very convenient discounts. My recommendation, contact a knowledgeable travel agent to help you find the best prices for your cruise.
Sizes and Types of Galapagos Cruise Boats
As you may imagine, Galapagos cruises vary in size and types. In Galapagos, you will find mainly three sizes: small motor yachts and sailboats with a capacity of 8-32 passengers, mid-size cruises with a capacity of 40-60 passengers and large ships or vessels with a capacity of 60-100 passengers.
The advantage of smaller boats is that you might have more flexibility with your activities and smaller groups to share activities with. This allows for some freedom for the crew to arrange the schedule. Bigger boats provide, specially cruise ships will provide the complete and classic cruise experience, similar to those in the Caribbean. However, bigger boats are usually high-end and require you patience during the activities, as you’ll share activities with a bigger group.
The type of boat design is also a thing to consider, don’t worry, we will explain here 😉
Motor Sailboats (M/S) are some of the smallest in the Galapagos Islands. They are on rare occasions powered by wind, but mostly speed-up by a motor. This is a good option for sailboat aficionados and adventure seekers. Their low occupancy and generally lower cost means that you will have a more intimate experience with your crew and the other people on the boat. However, due to the narrower hulls, cabin space and social space is generally more limited, and rocking with the waves is quite common, even when anchored.
Motor Yachts (M/Y): The motor yachts that cruise the Galapagos come in all sizes and builds. It is a rule of thumb that, the bigger the boat is, the less it will rock with the tide and the more space there will be in your cabin. You will find are a fair amount of stable, larger boats (mid-size cruises), and also a good selection of smaller motorboats. Motors Yachts come in all categories, you may find Luxury as well as Budget class boats.
Catamarans (M/C) and Sail Catamarans (S/C) are the best option if you are looking for a smaller boat which still provides stability, as it is designed to float on a wide base spread over twin hulls. These also allow for more comfortable and spacious cabins and may even have an onboard Jacuzzi. You may find Catamarans among the First Class and Luxury categories.
Motor Vessels and Cruise Ships (M/V) are found under the Luxury Category. These boats are big, they can accommodate between 30 and 100 people. These provide a more traditional cruise experience, and they will offer a more stable lodging experience if you’re worried about motion sickness. These also offer facilities such as gyms, Jacuzzis, etc accessible to the guests right on board. Yes, these are certainly the classic cruise experience. The only downside it that given the large passenger capacity, you will share activities with a lot of other travelers and timing is more fixed.
Galapagos Diving Cruises:
One last type of Galapagos Cruise, of a more specialized sort, are Galapagos Diving Liveaboards. These are specialized cruises which carry itineraries meant for divers. Most itineraries will combine land excursions with diving excursions and last 5 and 8 days. Diving Live boards come from Standard (Tourist) to Luxury categories. These are also a bit more expensive than standard cruises, due to the focused activities aboard. Some Diving Cruises will include the diving equipment, others charge an extra cost for renting the equipment. You can always bring you own if you feel more comfortable.
And finally, when are the Weather and Ocean Conditions ideal for a cruise?
You have to take in mind that Galapagos climate is almost entirely influenced by the ocean currents. These determine two main seasons:
During the warm season, from December until May, you will find warm currents with hot sunny days with sporadic rains and calm seas. Average temperatures range from 70s to upper 80s with water temperatures in the mid 70s. Some travelers find this period the best for taking a cruise in Galapagos. You’ll be in a boat during your whole stay, so some sun and calm seas won’t hurt.
From June to November you will get cool currents from the south, which create cooler weather. Travelers find this time of the year the most comfortable hiking weather. Take in mind that although seas are rarely rough in Galapagos, trade winds cause the ocean to be choppier this time of the year, which may be an issue if you are prone to seasickness. Average temperatures range from 60s to upper 70s with water temperatures from the mid 60s to low 70s. However, choppy seas might not be that of an issue if you are embarking on a large cruise ship.
My recommendation is that you get informed on Galapagos climate at the time you are planning your trip. What is going on in the Galapagos Islands when you want to travel? What will the wildlife be up to during that time?
Get a Free Galapagos Cruise Guidance
If you are about to plan a trip to Galapagos and are looking for some counseling on the best options for you, feel free to contact us. A Galapagos Travel Expert can help you find the right cruise for you.
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