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5 tips when picking the best galapagos cruise

Here's our top 5 tips when picking the best Galapagos cruise for you: 

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Published: 6th May 2017

1 | Pick The Right Itinerary

It is very difficult to find a poor cruise itinerary in the Galapagos as all cruises visit a variety of islands, beaches, outcrops, bays etc and all will provide the opportunity to spot a wide variety of fantastic sealife, birdlife and wildlife.

example galapagos itineraryIf you are just looking for a general visit to experience the Galapagos and don't have anything in particular you desperately want to do then all cruise itineraries will be fine and will provide unforgettable memories. However, if there is something specific you want to see or do then it is important you pick the right cruise itinerary - for example not all cruises will necessarily provide the opportunity to see the infamous Galapagos Giant Tortoises, so check in advance and if you do have specific wishes be sure to mention these up front when enquiring so we can advise which is the best option for you.

2 | Don't Worry Too Much About Sea Sickness

Sea-sickness can be a legitimate worry for some people and if you are paying a lot of money for the holiday of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands the last thing you want is to be stressing either before or during your holiday worrying about this (or worse - be put off from going altogether and miss out on visiting such an incredible destination).

treasure 200If sea-sickness is a concern there are a few things to consider and be aware of to alleviate your concerns. The waters in the Galapagos are generally calm throughout the whole year anyway so it should not be of major concern, although during Autumn (late August through to late October) the waters are known to be a little more choppy due to the Humboldt Current so if you are particularly concerned avoid these months. Also important is the choice of cruise ship and while the smaller yachts are all perfectly fine the double-hulled catamarans are more stable in the water due to their design and the larger cruise ships are much more bulky and less susceptible to choppy waters, so these types of vessels might be a better option.

3 | Be Flexible

One of the biggest problems with Galapagos Cruises can be availability given how popular cruises in the islands are. The number of cruise vessels operating in the Galapagos is strictly controlled to reduce the impact to the environment so cruise ships are limited, and each individual cruise ship only has limited departures and limited availability.

For example a 16-passenger cruise yacht may only have two departures of their 7 night cruise each month, which means that only 32 people a month (globally) can book this exact cruise, and at certain periods cruise vessels may not be operating (e.g. if they are undergoing maintenance or refurbishment in dock). If you want a specific itinerary on a specific cruise ship then we recommend that you try and plan around 12 months in advance to give you the best chance of avoiding any issues with availability.

One top tip is to be flexible with your dates and your itinerary. Being flexible with your dates will mean we are more likely to be able to confirm availability for you if you have a specific cruise ship and itinerary in mind, and being flexible with the cruise ship choice or the itinerary will help if you aren't flexible with your dates of travel as we can them confirm a few options for you.

4 | Choose The Right Cruise Length

Cruises in the Galapagos are operated to rigid itineraries that are planned many months in advance and controlled by the Galapagos authorities (to help protect the environment, and ensure multiple ships don't visit the same place at the same time), so there are only a few options on cruise length. The shortest cruises are 4 days / 3 nights while the longest cruises are 15 days / 14 nights, with the most popular options being 5 day, 8 day and 11 day cruises.

It is important to choose the right cruise length for what you are wanting to experience in the Galapagos. On all cruises (regardless of length) you will see some Galapagos wildlife, however the longer cruises obviously give you the chance of seeing more different wildlife and allow you to visit more islands (each island has its own unique geography and environment). The 4 day cruises are the most cost-effective (although in our opinion are a little too short) and the 4 day and 5 day options work well as introductions to the Galapagos and are great when combined with a holiday elsewhere in South America (e.g. on the Ecuador mainland, or Peru). However if you would prefer to make the Galapagos more of the centre piece of your holiday an 8 day cruise is a great option being long enough to allow you to visit a few more islands. However if you really do want to see and do everything on an epic cruise, then you need to consider an 11 day or 15 day option.

5 | Focus On The Wildlife, Not The Yacht

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most incredible and beautiful places on earth, so the main factor when choosing your cruise should not be which ship you are on but should be the itinerary and ensuring you spot the wildlife and landscapes you want to see.

blue footed boobiesA Galapagos cruise is not a typical cruise where most of your time is spent on board enjoying the luxury services the cruise ship may have to offer. In fact the opposite is usually true on a Galapagos cruise as you will spend the vast majority of each day off your yacht on excursions for example snorkelling to spot for sea lions and paradise fish, on panga-boat excursions in the bays of the islands to spot for nesting sea birds, or on overland excursions trekking over volcanic landscapes or visiting giant tortoise reserves. Your free time on the yacht is limited to meals and some free time in the evenings, so although some of the cruise ships can offer splendid luxury, and the larger ships also include additional services and features (like a fitness room), in reality unless you plan on skipping some of the daily excursions your free time to actually enjoy these services will be limited so the itinerary, wildlife you will see, and the landscapes you will visit are more important that the vessel itself.

Of course it is important to get a ship you feel is right for you, however the more luxurious the cruise ship the more expensive the price so if it is a decision between a shorter cruise on a more luxurious vessel or a longer cruise on a more standard vessel for the same cost, the longer cruise would get our pick all day long.

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