Galapagos Cruises

Galapagos Cruises

How to take the best Galapagos cruise in 2024


Seaman Journey | Galapagos cruiseSo, you’ve decided to visit the enchanted isles, a stunning volcanic archipelago 1,000 kilometers from the shores of mainland Ecuador. With 19 glorious islands filled with unique and exotic flora and fauna, a Galapagos cruise is a wonderful way to experience this world treasure. You just won’t get the same feeling staying in a land-based hotel. 

The best Galapagos Islands cruises offer 4-8 day itineraries that allow you to come face-to-face with giant tortoises, swimming lizards and sea lions. You can take excursions on land, or go on a snorkeling trip beneath the surface, all to come back in the evening for a dinner aboard your boat. 

Galapagos archipelago trips are strictly regulated by the government to protect endangered plants and animals. The National Park authority decides routes and boat cruise capacity to cut down on overcrowding. Therefore, seeing the islands on a small ship is a relaxing experience. You won’t be on a huge cruise ship with thousands of passengers like you would in the Caribbean. 

If a Galápagos cruise fits into your travel itinerary and budget, we encourage you to explore this stunning chain of islands by boat.

Our Galapagos Island Cruises

Reasons why we recommend a Galapagos Islands cruise over land-based travel

There are a number of reasons to choose a Galápagos cruise trip over booking a hotel on one of the islands.

You’ll spend less time planning

Sea Star Journey | Galapagos Cruise

Taking a liveaboard vacation means less time planning. Each Galapagos cruise line follows an itinerary, meaning you get to sit back and relax. You don’t have to worry about lining up all of your land excursions and arranging your hotel bookings. With the help of an expert travel concierge, you can even design a unique itinerary that caters to your particular interests. 

Our experienced team of travel planners will scout out all the updated last minute Galapagos cruise deals for you, and will help you book the ideal itinerary at a discounted price for you and you


You’ll make the most out of your time on a Galapagos cruise

Sea Star JourneyIf you’re staying on land in the enchanted isles, you’ll be surprised by just how much time it takes to get from Point A to Point B. You’ll spend a lot of time getting from your hotel, onto a day-trip boat, out to the day’s destination, then sailing back to your hotel.

When you take a Galápagos cruising program, the vessel will move from place to place during the night, so you can see even more during your short time in the islands. 

Regardless if you start on San Cristobal island or Puerto Ayora, both airports have connections with Quito or Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador. Most small ship and luxury boat companies start at either location. Voyagers can help you make the right choice selecting an itinerary, planning your flights and any extra day trips you may like to participate in. Optimizing your time can leave space to visit other areas of Ecuador and South America.

Navigating from Island to Island on multi-day itineraries gives you exclusive access

Staying on land means you’ll only get to see about five islands in the archipelago. When you book a space on any of the featured liveaboard cruise tours around the Galapagos national park you’ll see more remote and isolated islands. You will have a naturalist guide on hand to help point out the unique wildlife of this natural paradise. This type of trip is perfect for a nature lover, or someone who wants to see the best the islands have to offer without the crowds.

Restricted access keeps your trip unspoiled

Taking a Galapagos Island cruise means you’ll see fewer people than if you make a booking on a land-based tour. There are limits to how many people are allowed on small expedition ships and liveaboard yachts, and how often they run. In order to add a new liveaboard vessel to the fleet, one has to be removed. This means you’ll see beautiful, unspoiled nature this remote enchanted archipelago.

Marine iguanas | GalapagosGalapagos fragata | North seymourSanta fe island | GalapagosSullivan Bay | Galapagos

Bartolome island | Galapagos PenguinsDragon Hil | GalapagosGalapagos Giant TortoiseGalapagos sea turtle

A few examples of Small Ship Cruises, Catamarans and Liveaboard-Yachts

Larger vessels like the M/V Galapagos Legend have more room for luxury. On this incredible ship, you’ll find five decks to wander and mingle with other guests. The M/V Galápagos Legend has multilingual naturalists on board that will give you insight into the variety of plants, animals and geologic features of the islands. This ship boasts a swimming pool and jacuzzi, a fitness center and kids area. 

An expedition ship like the M/V Galápagos Legend can handle rougher seas better than a smaller vessel, which means less of a chance of getting seasick.

If you’re craving a more intimate experience, consider booking a luxury yacht cruise on the Galapagos Catamaran Petrel. This motorized vessel has a spacious sundeck, Jacuzzi and private balconies attached to each stateroom. Booking a multi-island luxury cruise trip on this catamaran is an experience you won’t soon forget. 

The Seaman Journey offers an exclusive feeling with space for only 16 guests. This small catamaran features 8 comfortable cabins with panoramic windows and private bathrooms. There are even a solarium and outside dining, the perfect spot to relax after a long day of exertion exploring the Galápagos Islands.

What to expect when Cruising the Galapagos Islands?

There’s so much to see and do on a Galapagos trip, no matter your fitness level. Not into hiking or snorkeling? No worries. You can do shorter shore excursions, or watch the scenery go by while on deck.

If you love getting exercise while on vacation, an expedition cruise can offer challenging activities. Here are some common activities offered on the daily excursions:

Wildlife Spotting on Remote Nature Trails

Each day trip is different and full of encounters with unique creatures you cannot see anywhere else on the planet. As you explore the visitor sites by foot, you will have the opportunity to walk alongside endemic species like the Galapagos tortoise, the flightless cormorant, the colorful blue footed booby, Darwin's finches, marine iguanas, nesting frigate birds, the curious Galapagos mockingbird. The main quality of the wildlife apart from being so unique is that the animals do not fear humans.

Volcano Hikes

Volcano HikesHiking through the surreal and beautiful volcanic landscape of the islands is a great way to see the natural beauty of the archipelago up close.

Take a hike around the rim of the Volcán Sierra Negra (Isabela island), the second largest active caldera on earth and the only volcano on the islands that visitors are allowed to hike. The trail has a gradual incline, so it is manageable for those with moderate fitness (although you should bring plenty of water as the equatorial sun can be strong.)

The 9 km wide, 91 metre deep crater is a truly spectacular site, especially with the views of the ocean in the distance. Be sure to bring an expert guide with you on this 5 hour hike, so that they can tell you about the flora and fauna as well as the history of the landscape.



Snorkeling in GalapagosAnother one of the most popular Galapagos cruise activities is snorkeling. Peek beneath the surface of the water to see the incredibly diverse marine life of the archipelago. You might even spot sea turtles, a swimming marine iguana, hammerhead sharks, golden rays and parrotfish.

Some of the best snorkeling spots in this ocean sanctuary include North Seymour Island, James Bay on Santiago Island and Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Your yacht charter cruise will provide you with flippers, a mask and a snorkel – but you can also bring your own if you have them.

The great thing about snorkeling is that you don’t have to have any special training. Anyone can do it – as long as you know how to swim. At the beginning of your cruise trip, you’ll receive a snorkeling orientation from your guide – who will teach you what to look out for and how to avoid damaging the delicate coral.


Scuba Diving

Scubba diving in GalapagosThe archipelago's dive sites are considered one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. There is excellent diving the year round, but June-December is exceptional – as this is when hammerheads, whales, rays, sea lion cubs and other large marine creatures come out to play. 

Some of the best diving destinations are Wolf and Darwin Islands – which can only be visited on a diving focused Galápagos cruise that carries a maximum of 16 passengers.

Typically, diving in the archipelago's marine reserve is for more advanced divers who feel comfortable in deep cold water with potential for strong currents and low visibility. So, make sure that you have the appropriate training and experience level before attempting to scuba dive in the islands.


Sea Kayaking

Kayaking in GalapagosWith thousands of miles of rocky shorelines and secluded coves, the archipelago's waters are ideal for exploring via kayak. Kayaking is a great activity during your trip, as it allows you to get up close with the wildlife and see remote spots that cannot be reached any other way. Do not be surprised if you find a curious Galapagos penguin darting by as you paddle.

Of course, the Galapagos National Park Service supported by the Charles darwin research Station carefully regulates optional activities for yacht passengers, such as sea kayaking in the marine reserve, so you’ll need to make sure you have booked your tour with a company that has been granted special kayaking permissions within the park.

Convinced? How to choose the right Galapagos liveaboard adventure

When booking a Galapagos cruise, you’ll first need to think about what type of vessel suits your needs. Do you want to have an intimate experience on a sailing catamaran or monohull sailboat? Or would you rather be on a spacious yacht with fancy staterooms and fine dining?

If you’re worried about seasickness or are traveling with small children, you may enjoy a luxury vessel. These wildlife tour yachts divide guests into small groups for hikes and activities. A small luxury liner is a great way to experience the isles without the giant hordes of people you’d find on a larger ship.

Onboard a luxury ship you’ll usually have a larger cabin, sometimes with your own private balcony. The cabins are usually en suite and are compact in their design so that they can maximize living space. However, even on the smallest of vessels, you’ll usually find a sun deck where you can stretch out and relax and watch wildlife, as well as a dining area and lounge.

All Galapagos yacht layouts remain fairly small. The National Park prohibits cruises with more than 100 guests on board. Most Galapagos yachts carry around 16 passengers.

Another factor to consider when booking the best Galapagos cruises ships is how much time you want to spend diving. If you’re a certified scuba diver, there’s much to behold beneath the surface. Luckily, there are several dive-oriented liveaboard programs to make your booking. These boats are built to accommodate diving gear and bring passengers to amazing locations to swim with whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and manta rays. It is important to know that dive vessels carry a maximimum of 16 - 20 passengers.

How much do you want to pay for your Galapagos Islands vacation?

Price is a big consideration for people looking to make a booking on a Galápagos Islands cruise. How much you’ll pay varies on the size of the vessel and the amount of luxury.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when booking the best Galapagos islands excursions for you.

Economy yachts cruises offer more rustic accommodation and basic amenities. You’ll find a very good price point with this type of cruise, which brings it within reach for a variety of people. 

Midrange motor-yachts cruises will usually offer private quarters but they will often be small with private bathrooms.

First-class Cruising yachts offer spacious cabins with en-suite, top quality English speaking guides and better communal facilities. 

Finally, top-of-the-line Luxury Galapagos cruises and expedition ships have everything you would expect and more from a high end liveaboard experience, including exquisite food, private balconies in your cabin, ample sun decks, and a Jacuzzi to enjoy after a day of hiking or swimming.

What time of the year should you Plan to visit?

Solaris YachtThe great part about taking a Galapagos Island cruise is that any time of year works. With a location close to the equator, the islands have a mild and warm climate. 

What you should consider when booking a Galapagos vacation is which animals, and behaviors, you want to see. Some species are migratory, which means they only call the archipelago home a few months out of the year.

In December and January, you’ll be able to see the giant tortoise eggs hatching on Santa Cruz Island. In February you can watch the penguins migrating to Isabela and Fernandina from Bartolome. In March you can see the marine iguanas making their nests on North Seymour. May is blue-footed booby mating season, so you’ll be able to watch their unique courtship dance.

If you are interested in seeing humpback whales while on your expedition trip, June is the best month to spot them. July and August are ideal for sea lion watching, as this is when they will be breeding and giving birth. If you visit during September and October you’ll have a chance to spot adorable sea lion pups and blue-footed booby chicks – and in November you can see whale sharks in the northwest.

When it comes to weather, the warmer season from December to June is ideal for a relaxed enchanted isles smaller boat based trip, as you’ll have sunnier days, calmer seas and better underwater visibility. 

The June to November season sees the islands transform from green, lush tropical lands to a more barren, desert-like climate.

As you can see, the best time of year to take a Galápagos trip is totally up to you.

We are confident you will have a life changine experience on a  Galapagos liveaboard tour

By now, your heart might be set on taking a multi-day cruise to see all the marvels of these islands that Darwin visited so many years ago.

There are so many options for you to make your booking. You can take an economy cruise with bunk-style sleeping arrangements, or a luxury cruise with your own private balcony.

Visiting the Galapagos archipelago is a bucket list item for so many people. We hope you make the most of your limited vacation time by booking a Galapagos Islands package that is boat-based.