Luxury Galapagos Cruise Options
Most cruises are “Naturalist” cruises, in that they are aimed at the generalist traveler eager to learn about wildlife in the Galapagos. In all the luxury cruises handpicked and inspected by Aracari, guides are excellent: they are all biologists and experts in the ecology of the region with excellent language skills. The ratio of guides to travelers varies slightly from boat to boat, generally at around 16:1. Each cruise operates fixed departure schedules, rotating their routes. These set itineraries are approved in advance by the Galapagos Park Authority, as this is a protected area with a fragile ecology. Greater flexibility on routes can be arranged with private charter arrangements, which Aracari organizes.
Galapagos Diving Cruises
There are also diving cruises aimed at experienced divers that visit Darwin and Wolf, two islands at the far North of the archipelago where the most varied underwater wildlife is found. The Galapagos sky cruise is the best option. The Galapagos is one of the richest marine reserves in the world, covering 133,000 square kilometres (100,000 square miles). Three, key oceanic currents combine with the islands’ volcanic geology to create a nutrient-rich environment that is full of life. These luxury travel Galapagos diving itineraries also involve some naturalist visits but are mainly geared at divers, who need to have completed their PADI qualification with at least 10 dives.
Family Galapagos Cruises
Special ‘family departures’ are available in the larger boats, where small children have a special guide and activities geared to their age groups, which will keep them (and their parents) happy.
How to choose the right Galapagos Cruise
Galapagos Cruise Boat size
One factor that differentiates cruises from each other is the size. Although very large cruises are not permitted around the islands, there is still a reasonably wide range from intimate vessels to larger boats. We typically split the boats into two categories: smaller boats, accommodating fewer than 20 passengers, and larger boats, for over 20 passengers. The right choice depends on your personal taste and travel preferences. The ratio of guides to travelers varies slightly from boat to boat, but regardless of size this is generally at around 10:1, so you will enjoy expert guiding whichever you opt for. While smaller boats can offer flexibility and a more intimate experience, larger boats can better allow you to meet other travellers and can be more cost effective.
The best itinerary
All Galapagos cruise itineraries are carefully designed to visit a range of locations, without re-visiting any. All routes are carefully managed to protect this highly sensitive natural enviornment, and all vessels are required to change their routes around every two years to avoid over-tourism at the most sensitive sites. The itinerary options depend on a number of variables. One key factor is the duration of cruise you wish you take – only longer itineraries can reach further away islands. Itineraries are often split into ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ routes. The western islands are younger (at 2-3 million years old, instead of 4-5 million years old!). All of the species on the western islands are endemic and more isolated. In short, there is no single ‘best’ cruise itinerary as what you will see will also depend on the time of year you visit. Each island is unique, with different species and activities (mating, nesting etc) that takes place throughout different times of the year. Our expert travel planners are on hand to provide detailed travel advice on when to visit and which cruise and itinerary to opt for.
Cruises & Land-Based Trips to the Galapagos
An alternative to taking a Galapagos cruise is to stay overnight at lodges and hotels such as Pikaia Lodge or Galapagos Safari Camp. Overnight stays on the islands can also be combined with taking a cruise.
The Aracari Difference
With many luxury Galapagos cruises to choose between, our expert travel team can help provide information, explain the differences and help you choose the right option tailored to your needs, taste and budget. Each boat also has a slightly different set schedule, producing even more variations in itinerary options! We can talk you through these to help you make an informed decision.
We have first hand knowledge of all the boats we recommend, visiting annually to handpick the best options and maintain our exceedingly high standards. Our personal knowledge and destination experiences means we can offer bespoke travel advice for what’s right for you.