To thrive professionally as a travel designer is to become an expert on the destinations we offer. Yet, sometimes, we are saturated with tons of information that is difficult to digest. That’s why having a cheat sheet that helps us understand the pros, cons, and main differences is vital.

To help you become a Galapagos expert, we have prepared this article in which we will share valuable information about the Galapagos cruises and Island-hopping travel options, to whom is more accurate each one, their pros and cons, and some recommendations to have in mind when offering this exotic and coveted destination worldwide.

Galapagos Cruises key facts

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is the preferred travel option among international travelers looking to discover the remote archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

With around 90 vessels sailing across the Galapagos archipelago from different categories and boats, the offer is wide and adjusted to other kinds of budgets and interests.

For whom the Galapagos cruises option is ideal

Galapagos cruises are ideal for travelers looking to get the most out of their investment with limited time available and for those looking to access the remote islands.

Galapagos cruise journeys length

Travelers can experience the Galapagos landscape and wildlife from 3, 4, 5, and 7 nights. The journeys can be combined to sail the whole archipelago in a maximum of 14 nights.

Galapagos Cruises Pros

  • Ideal for small travel groups.
  • Chartering option for small groups and with better fare per group.
  • The only option for accessing the remote islands and unique wildlife watching.
  • Guarantees daily guided activities, minimum twice a day.
  • Include various activities, like hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.
  • An all-inclusive option, except for tips, flights, taxes, snorkeling gear, and alcoholic beverages, depending on the boat.

Galapagos Cruises Cons

  • The journeys cannot be changed and are monitored by the national park authority.
  • It may be a bit exhausting way of traveling.
  • It can be a costly way of travel for some travelers.
  • Travelers must fit their trip into the cruise departure dates.
  • It’s not a flexible way of traveling, and hard to customize it.
  • It´s not suitable for children younger than six years old
  • Small cruise chips don’t offer medical service onboard
  • Some inland excursions are not suitable for travelers with limited mobility.

The average size of cruises available

  • Small cruise ships: Accommodates around 12 to 20 guests. Some offer triple cabins through sofa beds, while others have single rooms onboard.
  • Medium vessels: Host around 40 to 50 guests onboard and offer more facilities aboard. Double/twin and triple cabins are available.
  • Big vessels: There are a few vessels with up to 100 guests onboard. Most are first-class to ultra luxury ships with ample social areas and facilities onboard, including medical services.

Galapagos cruise categories available

  • Budget and Tourist Superior: Small cabins with limited but comfortable facilities. Some may have bunk beds and rooms on the lower deck. Many offer to share rooms for solo travelers.
    • Preferred by solo travelers and young couples focused on the travel experience overall without fanciness.
  • First Class: Spacious staterooms on both small yachts and big vessels. Service with attention to detail, variety of social areas, and facilities. Some boats may have Jacuzzis.
    • Preferred by family groups, couples/honeymooners, and golden-age travelers.
  • Luxury: Astonishing vessels designed to offer the best of the Galapagos Islands with high-quality services. Bigger staterooms with balconies and/or panoramic views, some interconnected.
    • Professional mid-age couples, family groups with kids, and retired couples.
  • Ultra Luxury: A small selection, primarily big vessels, focused on pampering exigent travelers. Many are operated by international cruise lines like Silversea, Royal Caribbean, or Lindblad Expeditions.
    • Preferred by Golden age travelers and senior professionals with higher incomes.

Galapagos boat type offer

  • Motor Sailboats (M/S): There are few sailing boats in the archipelago.
  • Motor Catamarans (M/C): They offer stability during navigation, ideal for those who suffer sea sickness. Available in different categories and usually host 16 guests, and some have upper deck cabins.
  • Motor Yachts (M/Y): The most common offer in all categories. Depending on the class, cabins may have balconies and panoramic views.
  • Motor Vessels (M/V): Big boats with up to 100 guests, from first class to ultra luxury. They offer plenty of social areas, restaurants, and special facilities for kids.

Type of Cruise Journeys

  • Expedition cruises: Journeys focused on showcasing the Galapagos wildlife and its unique landscape guided by naturalist guides with knowledge of biology, birdwatching, and ecology.
  • Liveaboard cruises: Specialized on diving journeys, allowing travelers to discover the Galapagos underwater world. The boats are fully equipped for diving and guided by expert and certified divers.

Galapagos Island Hopping

The alternative way of traveling to Galapagos Island. Ideal for travelers looking for a slow form of traveling, those who suffer from seasickness or want a customized trip or adapted to their budget. It’s also chosen for those who decide to extend their journey after a cruise trip.

Island Hopping Pros

  • Fully customizable
  • Adaptable to different budget ranges
  • Allows travelers to experience the local way of life
  • It has self-guided options within the inhabited islands
  • It may offer free time to rest and relax
  • Availability of different types and hotels categories
  • Variety of navigable daily tours to neighboring islands and sites for expedition and diving options

Island Hopping Cons

  • Doesn’t have access to remote islands
  • Requires hiring the services of naturalist guides to access touristic sites in national park areas
  • Travel groups on daily excursions vary every time
  • Can stay only on the four inhabited islands
  • Interisland transportation is mainly by speed boats with 2,5 to 3 hours of navigation. Some interisland flights are available but require a minimum of passengers to be confirmed and good weather.
  • The logistics may be complex, so it’s recommended to have the whole trip pre-booked with a local tour operator.

Don’t forget to download you cheat sheet here

The discussion between travelers and travel designers will always be about which Galapagos travel options are the best. The answer is that both are the best depending on the type of experience, budget, needs, and flexibility travelers may have.

Also, you may have more questions about the destination, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Galapagos Islands, this information may be just a sneak peek. Thus, we invite you to check our Galapagos Training section on our website, designed to help you become a Galapagos expert by answering all the questions related to the destination and its commercialization.

We also recommend that you check the following articles to complement the information you may need.

  1. 8 Iconic Galapagos Wildlife Species: Facts and tips for not missing them.
  2. Identifying the small details that matter when choosing a Galapagos cruise
  3. The answer you need to know about 4 of the Galapagos diving FAQs
  4. 4 tips to keep in mind when booking a Galapagos Cruise
  5. A short guide to be prepared for the Galapagos weather and wildlife by month