There are quite a few cruise ships in the Galapagos Islands, each bearing a capacity of between 40 and 100 passengers. These sailing ships are known for their great stability, their quality services, comfortable accommodations and amenities and superior cuisine. Because of these reasons, Galapagos cruise lines usually build bigger ships than other enterprises in the same industry. They have got a wide range of large public areas such as bars, decks and balconies. All cruise ships are equipped with air conditioning, cabins with breathtaking views of the sea, souvenirs’ stores and many other luxury installations. Cruise ships are best suited for travelers who have a tendency to get dizzy sea, because the ships move slower as they navigate through the islands; aside from the fact that they count with medical staff onboard of the ships. There are several deck levels within the ships, where you can find places to enjoy lonesome times, and watch sunsets and sunrises.
Big cruise ships are not allowed in the Galapagos Islands. These tiny ships, that are able to host for up to 100 passengers are the biggest boats that sail the waters of the archipelago. Because of their size, these cruises are a good option for families that include small children, and some of them offer tourists adjacent cabins and additional space onboard, where kids and their parental supervisors can get to know other passengers, and get entertained during their spare time in between activities such as whale-watching, observations of dolphins and flying fish from the decks. The boats offer efficient landing systems with multiple transportation options for the passengers to go on hikes and snorkel-diving.
Going on a cruise trip to the Galapagos islands is like living a yacht experience onboard. Passengers eat, sleep, and pace along the ship decks while it is sailing through the Galapagos marine waters. The itineraries are previously planned by the Galapagos National Park, so that the tourists get to know exactly which areas are included for the visitors. You are going to wake up on a different island each day, ready to explore and marvel at the Galapagos’ beauty, go on hikes, excursions, walks and dives, led by the best certified guides that can take you to the best spots to observe the wildlife of the islands.
Going on cruises is one of the most popular ways to visit the archipelago. Yachts can be fully booked or get worn out, so it is best that you plan your trip ahead of time. In addition to this, due to specialized permits (navigating and land permits), some islands can only be approached by a specific cruise ship. Genovesa for example, is known as the best bird – watching spot in the archipelago due to its abundance of bird species. Fernandina and the west areas of Isabela islands are only accessible by cruise ships. These two islands are the only place where you will be able to witness the flightless cormorant in the wild. It is quite likely that you will be able to observe Galapagos’ penguins and their nesting sites there too. Fernandina and Isabela are amongst the most highlighted places to go in Galapagos for those who love wildlife.
Daily activities offered within cruise packages that are not on board are trekking, hiking and snorkel – diving. Guided walks are usually of moderate and short difficulty, and are performed along designated trails and tracks. There is plenty of wildlife and a wide variety of plants to see along the tracks. Naturalist guides will stop by every chance they have to explain species and their characteristics to the tourists. Most of the daily activities also give tourists the opportunity to explore to submarine world of the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel diving is the tipping point of the trip for many passengers, they can marvel at the brightly colored fish, swim alongside coral reef sharks, manta rays and so much more. The cruising itinerary has additional spare time for tourists to relax at the beach shores. Whether it is sunbathing or swimming ashore, or even kayaking, you are going to be able to choose any activity to explore the Galapagos’ beach sites.
Aside from all these activities, cruising itineraries offer tourists diving opportunities ranging from simple snorkel diving to more advance scuba diving. This is due to the diversity and variety of diving spots that you can visit at the islands. An example of this is the fact that cruise ships are the only ones exclusively allowed to get to the most privileged areas to dive, such as Prince Philip Steps (Genovesa), Devil’s Crown (Floreana) or Ensenada del Tajo (Isabela). Additionally, tourists can get short snorkeling trips combined with terrestrial hikes at Kicker Rock (San Cristobal) and Los Tuneles (Isabela). Generally, the abundance of activities for any segment of tourtists onboard cruise ships wins over any form of maritime tourism in the islands.
Most of the regular cruise ship packages do not offer tourists diving trips but there are alternatives to this disadvantage. You can plan your trip with Galapagos Islands’ diving cruise ships that have diving specialists onboard and are designed to have activities exclusively related to diving. I think it is safe to say these specialists do their job exceptionally well. The Wolf and Darwin islands, located in the northern of the archipelago are graced with the title of having the world’s largest population of sharks. Picture this: You are going to dive through the pristine blue and green waters of the Pacific Ocean with huge schools of hammer headed sharks and whale sharks of a size equivalent to autobuses. It is also required to note that you can include diurnal immersions within your terrestrial trip’s itinerary. You can visit famous sites such as Gordon Rocks and North Seymour. In summarize, for those who are very enthusiastic about diving, the diving cruise ships is the only way to go.
Whether it is via cruise lines, exclusive and luxurious private yachts or simple inland trips, I am sure that you will have an amazing time there as much as the one I had when I visited the marvelous Galapagos Islands. If you want to know more about these and other highlighted topics related to the Galapagos Islands, keep reading our blogs and scrolling through our content so that you are able to base off your own decisions about your trip on your own likes and affinities.
Alex P. Rauff is an author, filmmaker and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) specialized in film distribution and marketing of eco lodges throughout the world. His main focus remains on ecological conservation.