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Finding the perfect Galapagos Islands cruise can be overwhelming but it is necessary to get it right if you want to have a lifetime experience in the spectacular Galapagos Islands. In this post, I will share the 13 most amazing Galapagos Islands Cruises for any budget and help you find the perfect trip for you.
I wrote a lot about the Galapagos Islands after my 3 weeks vacation where I have explored the three main islands on my own after doing a thorough search of the cruises available at the time. I was traveling with a friend and although she had a bigger budget we wanted to find the best way to explore the Galapagos Islands that was suitable for both of us.
After in-depth and long research, we came to the conclusion that joining a Galapagos Island cruise was not the best option for us and for what we wanted. Also because we had a specific cruise itinerary in mind and there was no option for that itinerary at the time we wanted to travel. That’s why we opted for the DO-IT-YOURSELF trip, from which a huge guide to the Galapagos Islands came out.
In general, if you ask me whether it is better to join a cruise to the Galapagos Islands or to travel independently, I will answer that there isn’t one answer. It all depends on what you want to see and how you like to travel, and also on your budget. I have written a thorough post on the difference between visiting the Galapagos on a cruise or on your own. If you are still undecided, that post will help you clarify your doubts.
If you already know that you want to join a Galapagos cruise but you don’t know which one to choose, you have landed in the right place. Here I have selected the most incredible Galapagos Islands Cruises for any budget.
However, if you already know that you are ready to splurge you may want to go straight to my guide to the 5 top luxury Galapagos Cruises, where I have selected the most amazing luxury boat with top service and design cabins for the utmost comfort.
Before diving into the best Galapagos Cruises, learn more about the Galapagos Islands with my thorough guides:
Important general information on Galapagos islands cruises
The majority of the cruises do not include flights to the Galapagos, exception be made by Eden and Yolita. So something to keep in mind when you compare prices. Flights to the Galapagos are from Quito or Guayaquil and normally cost from 400 to 500 depending on the season.
There are specific entry requirements to the Galapagos, including the payment of National Park Fees (100 USD per trip, per person that you pay once you land in the Galapagos), Visas and Fees (20 USD per trip that you pay before boarding). These are never included in the price. For other entry requirements, you can refer to my complete Galapagos Islands Vacation travel guide.
To enter the Galapagos Islands it is mandatory to have travel insurance and so is to board on a Galapagos Cruises. So make sure you purchase one before you travel. I use either World Nomadsor Safety Wing. Make sure you check their terms and conditions before booking.
Liveaboard.com has classified each cruise by level or flexibility, which I will mention as well on each cruise. Please scroll down below to read about it in detail.
Now without further ado, here is my top 13 Galapagos Islands Cruises
The 13 best Galapagos Cruises for any budget
After I have explained how to choose your perfect Galapagos Cruise, here is a shortlist of my favorite cruises to the Galapagos Islands. I have selected a variety of trips for different budgets and different itineraries. I have included in the post the essential information. If you want to know more about each cruise just click on the read more button for more details.
Acqua is not one of the cheapest boats but has often great discounts, so it's worth checking out their offers as you can have the chance to grab a semi-luxury boat at the price of a standard one. It caters to a maximum of 18 guests accommodated in 9 tiny but comfortable cabins.
Acqua offers both naturalistic and diving cruises, make sure you check which one is available on the dates you want to book because they are two very different kinds of trips.
The cabins are scattered around the boat and offer both twin or double bedding. Each room has a private en-suite bathroom, individually controlled air-conditioning, and storage space. In the upper deck you can also enjoy picture windows for amazing views of the sea, however, be reminded that if you are sensitive to the sea motion, you will feel it much more up there.
Social areas dotted around the yacht include a shaded outside lounge, sun deck, indoor lounge, and library and dining area. The cuisine served on board is a mixture of local Ecuadorian and international cuisine.
Naturalist cruises include guided hikes, bird-watching, and incredible photo opportunities. I will talk about the diving cruises in another post.
Included: Transfer to and from the Airport,VAT, Water, Coffee and tea, All meals (FB plan), Land tours, Kayak use, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear and Guide, Towels, Toiletries.
Optional Extras: Hotel Transfer, Gratuities (10-12 USD per day), Domestic Flights (460-500 USD per trip), Soft drinks and Alcoholic Beverages.
This 22 mt yacht caters to 16 people max. and it's one of the cheapest Galapagos cruises that you can find. The rooms are in fact quite small with bunk beds but equipped with everything you need, an ensuite bathroom, a/c, shower, hot water.
Common areas include a comfortable dining room where meals are served a la cart style, an indoor salon and bar with entertainment facilities, and a sun deck for wildlife sights and for relaxing in-between activities.
On the Golondrina you can choose among many different 5 and 8-day itineraries designed to show you the best of the Galapagos even in shorter trips.
As usual, you will be guided by an experienced and professional crew and a Naturalist Guide.
Included: Transfer to and from the Airport,VAT, Water, Coffee and tea, All meals (FB plan), Land tours Kayak use, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear and Guide, Towels.
Optional Extras: Alcoholic Beverages and Soft drinks - gratuities
If you are looking for an affordable and yet spectacular catamaran cruise in the Galapagos this is your choice.
The catamaran NEMO III is a sailing catamaran with 8 small cabins to host a maximum of 16 guests for a unique sailing experience around the Galapagos Islands.
The cabins, are compact but comfortable designed to optimize space, offering single or double beds.
Delicious cuisine and snacks are provided each day, which you can enjoy in the covered outdoor dining area. Drinks are not included, though.
The comfortable outdoor seating areas (some shaded) will allow you to enjoy the sun and the spectacular landscapes besides the ability to spot the Galapagos wildlife.
Indoor also lounges offer plenty of seating, air conditioning, and large windows.
There are two routes available, both of which start and finish at Baltra. Route A explores the islands to the north and west, whilst route B sails to the east and south. You can also choose among 3/4/7 nights cruises, depending on your availability.
No matter where you go, you will be able to observe the Galapagos wildlife in its daily activity such as birds, lizards, aquatic life, and the famous Galapagos tortoise. You will also enjoy activities like snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and riding in a Panga boat.
Make sure you read each itinerary detail if you have a specific site in mind.
The Archipel I Catamaran offers guests the choice of 3, 4, or 7 nights for their Galapagos Expedition.
The Archipel I is a 27m catamaran that caters for only 16 passengers with its 8 well-equipped and comfortable accommodations.
6 twin beds, and 2 double beds each of them with amazing sea views, reading lights and wardrobes, ensuite bathrooms, and a/c.
A comfortable indoor dining room where to enjoy delicious meals served buffet style. On the top deck, you will be mesmerized at the stunning views while soaking up some rays during the day on the comfortable sun loungers.
Included: Transfer to and from the Airport,VAT, Water, Coffee and tea, All meals (FB plan), Land tours Kayak use, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear and Guide, Towels, toiletteries.
You can choose among a huge variety of itineraries of 4 days/ 3 nights or 8 days/7 nights and in different areas of the Galapagos Islands.
Itineraries A and A4 begin in San Cristobal and end in Baltra, while the others start and end in Baltra.
This old-fashioned boat has been constructed in 1966 as a luxury yacht, but recently fully converted into a high-class small ship cruise vessel equipped with modern amenities and safety features.
It offers a very unique, classy layout both in the outdoor decor and the 7 cabins, catering to up to 14 guests per trip only.
All the cabins have a/c, ensuite bathroom, and a window or a porthole. Some have twin bunks rather than side-by-side beds.
On the outdoor common space you can look out from the Galapagos wildlife from the observation deck or lay in the sun on the spacious sundeck.
The boat is equipped with a TV, DVD player, a video and book library, and kayaks.
A naturalist guide sails with you to accompany your group on excursions and teach you more about the local flora and fauna.
The Samba Galapagos offers only two 7-night itineraries around the Galapagos. Both begin and end in Baltra island. One itinerary includes the North and Eastern islands (Isabela and Fernandina) and the other includes the South and Western islands (Including Floreana, Española, and San Cristobal)
They are both spectacular and it's difficult to choose from. The itineraries complement each other and are organized for the guests to book two back-to-back tours which makes a complete tour of the highlights of the entire Ecuadorian Archipel.
If you cannot do both I would personally choose the North Island where you will go through the Bolivar Canal to see killer whales and other cetaceans, and Rabida Island with the red beach.
Included: VAT, Water, Coffee and tea, All meals (FB plan), Land tours Kayak use, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear and Guide, Towels.
Optional Extras: Transfer from and to the airport/hotel,Gratuities, Local Flights, Alcoholic and Soft drinks.
Each cabin features en-suite bathrooms, storage space, and plugs for charging devices a/c and warm water shower. You will also get daily housekeeping service included.
The spacious shared space includes an ample deck where you can observe the wildlife and the spectacular Galapagos landscape. Indoor area includes a bar and restaurant room, charging station and area Audio & video entertainment.
You will taste a variety of delicious international meals served on a creative buffet using fresh ingredients. Vegetarian options and special meals available upon previous notice.
Depending on the itinerary chosen, you can choose from an array of different activities depending on what's available in each destination. Activities include snorkeling around underwater craters to see the incredible underwater life, hiking to stunning viewpoints, and visits to the Charles Darwin Research Station to spot giant Galapagos tortoises. Cruising is generally done overnight to allow more time mingling with the diverse Galapagos Islands life.
Snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, and beach towels are also included in the cost of the trip.
You can choose among 6 different itineraries, from 7 to 17 days and in different areas of the Galapagos. My favorite is the 17 days itinerary (complete Galapagos) that will take you around all the Galapagos Islands and highlights.
But if you don't have such amount of time there are many other interesting cruises of 7 - 8 and 10 days.
Infinity is a modern high-end cruise for a unique Galapagos experience in comfort and luxury.
The 5 spacious cabins offer an ultra-comfortable stay in an elegant space decorated with wooden floors and amazing photography on the Galapagos Islands.
The common area includes a spacious deck with fine lounges and stylish living spaces.
6 STANDARD CABINS on the main deck double or twin (max 2p)
2 SUITES Suites with the matrimonial bed located on the upper deck
INCLUDED IN THE TRIP
VAT, Airport Transfer, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Rental Gear, Kayaks, Naturalist Guide, Snorkel Gear, Stand Up Paddleboard, Cabin Towels.
REQUIRED EXTRA (NOT INCLUDED)
National Park Fees, Visas, and Fees, Local Flights (430-510 USD).
The Infinity yacht has 2 National Park Guides to ensure that guests can make the most of their time in the Galapagos Islands
If you love to splurge on a luxury yacht in the Galapagos but you don't have much time, on the Infinity you can choose among four, five, or eight-night long trips each of them cruising through different areas of the Galapagos Islands.
Click on the Read more button below to learn about all the itinerary options, details, and prices.
Cormorant is a luxury Catamaran with only 8 cabins and a maximum capacity of 16 guests.
The Catamaran is from 2011 but just renovated in 2019 and has a length of 108 ft (33m)
Built for comfort and stability this catamaran is perfect for those more subject to seasickness.
The common areas include the indoor dining and lounge area, as well as an external dining area, to enjoy a delicious meal with stunning views and a refreshing sea breeze.
The sun deck has comfortable and elegant loungers, a shaded area, and a hot tub.
The elegant and spacious cabins offer a/c en suite bathrooms, ample storage space, and their own private balcony.
1 DOUBLE STATEROOM - upper deck double bed
2 TWIN STATEROOMs - 2 cabins on the main deck, 3 cabins on the upper deck - all with twin beds
2 SUITES - upper deck with double beds
All the rooms on the upper deck are interconnected - ideal for families.
The Cormorant offers year-round adventure cruises to the Galapagos Islands with a choice of 4, 5, 8, and 15-day tours, strategically organized and combined to offer many options of itinerary and price.
Every month you have a choice among a unique 8 days itinerary B of the central and western islands and multiple A itineraries of 4- 5-8 days that combines many different amazing sites of the central and eastern islands.
Each tour is led by a qualified Galapagos National Park guide, who will share their passion and knowledge of the area with you.
Click on the button below to explore all the different itineraries. Make sure you read what's included in each itinerary with the help of the related maps.
Yolita is a Superior level boat with only 8 spacious cabins, nicely decorated with Galapagos-themed photography, for maximum comfort of the guests. The small group of a Maximum of 16 guests guarantees personalized service.
Also please note:
All Yolita Galapagos cruises start and end in Quito and flights are included in the cost of the cruise
Solo travelers have the option to share the room with another traveler of the same gender to avoid the single supplement
Go back in time and join this spectacular 52m sailing ship, with over 1000m2 of canvas sails. This 3-masted schooner is one of the only ships in the Galapagos to sail with no engine support.
The fun part is that the guests are asked to help with raising the sails for a true authentic Galapagos expedition.
The awesome and knowledgeable staff will be a great part of your experience happy to share their sailing skills with you.
The best part is of this journey is that you won't hear any engine sounds, just the music of the ocean and the breeze, which also invites whales and dolphins to swim alongside the ship.
The 6 double cabins and 6 single cabins all have private bathrooms with hot water.
This boat doesn't have luxury finishings and fancy cabins, but it offers a luxury experience, with lots of space for the guests to enjoy their experience and relax.
On the main deck are the dining room, kitchen, lounge with entertainment area, and library. Meals can also be served al-fresco to enjoy the stunning Galapagos views and sunsets. Enjoy international and local Ecuadorian cuisine with fresh ingredients.
S/S Mary Anne offers two incredible Galapagos expedition itineraries, each one of 7 nights.
Galapagos West itinerary - you will explore Santiago, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Fernandina to have amazing encounters with Sea Lions, Penguins, and amazing snorkeling.
Galapagos East itinerary - includes Darwin Bay, Santa Fe, Gardner Bay, and Bartolome with lava bubbles and penguins galore!
Mary Anne guarantees a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Catering to just 20 guests, the 142ft Origin guarantees a top-notch service with its 14 crew members, including a full-time concierge and two expert naturalist guides.
There are 10 spacious world-class cabins that come with en-suite bathrooms, biodegradable toiletries, bathrobes & slippers, climate control, large picture windows, ample storage space, twin beds that can be converted to one king, and memory foam toppers and pillows. A real luxury hotel room in the ocean.
The world-class cuisine is also part of the onboard ultra-luxury experience on board.
Galapagos cruises aboard Origin rotate between two itineraries:
Itinerary A - to the southern and central islands
Itinerary B - which explores the western and northern islands.
The activities available on all cruises include landscape explorations, hikes on the vulcanos and walks on the deserted beach, rides on the zodiac to see coves and caves, look for the wildlife, and getting the best snorkeling spots, besides kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Galapagos Islands Cruises FAQ
What is the best cruise to the Galapagos?
Well, there is no one answer, all the cruises are excellent because they take you around such a unique place, the Galapagos Islands. Obviously, the higher the costs, the better the services and the more luxurious is the boat. However, even budget Galapagos Cruises will be able to take you around incredible places. It all boils down to what you want to see, how much time you have and the budget available.
Why are Galapagos cruises so expensive?
There are many factors that make the Galapagos Cruises expensive, including:
boat operational costs
high-quality standard of the boat and service, even in the non-luxury boats
high costs of permissions and taxes
in Ecuador the minimum wage is much higher than in other country in South America, and so is the quality standard of living.
Highly qualified staff on board
What is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?
This is very difficult to answer as the Galapagos are a year round destination and there is not a cheaper month. However I can assure that around Christmas and Easter that’s when it gets more expensive and crowded. So I would suggest avoid those months.
Is Galapagos worth Cruise?
It is indeed because on a cruise you get to visit places that you can’t reach otherwise. However, it all depends on the way you like to travel. In this detailed post on the difference between a DIY trip or a cruise in the Galapagos islands, I explain the pros and cons of both ways of traveling to the Galapagos Islands.
Which cruise line is the cheapest?
It really depends on how many days you want to be on a cruise, but among the cruise, I have checked out the cheapest is the Golondrina.
What cruise lines go to the Galapagos Islands?
There are many different cruises but not commercial ones. The Galapagos islands cruises don’t belong to the big international cruise groups. On this site, you can find pretty much the most popular cruises.
How long is the boat ride from Ecuador to Galapagos?
There is no boat transportation from the Ecuador mainland to the Galapagos Islands. You will need to fly from either Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra or San Cristobal island if you want to get to the Galapagos.
How much does a Galapagos cruise cost?
It varies for length of trip and standard level of the boat, and itinerary it ranges from $ 200 to $ 1200 per day.
How much does it cost to fly to the Galapagos Islands?
To fly from the Galapagos Islands can be either from Quito or Guayaquil and the return flight would range from 400 to 500 USD depending on how much in advance you book it and what season. Here below the two airlines that are now operating
Although we are all anxious to get on board as soon as possible and resume traveling, it’s natural to be concerned about booking now for the long term, as these uncertain times made us even more skeptical on the future of traveling.
That’s why Liveaboard have classified all its available trips according to the operator flexibility when it comes to cancellation. So you will see that each liveaboard on LiveAboard.com will have one of the following 3 labels:
EXTRA FLEXIBLE BOOKING – free trip reschedule within 24 months if you are unable to travel due to Covid-19 related restrictions. If you wish to cancel instead of rescheduling your trip, you will be refunded 90% of the trip value up to 30 days before the departure date. (conditions apply, see below)
FLEXIBLE BOOKING – free trip reschedule within 24 months if you are unable to travel due to Covid-19 related restrictions. In case (for any reason) you decide to cancel instead of rescheduling your trip, the standard cancellation terms of the operator will apply.
NON-FLEXIBLE BOOKING – Liveaboards with this label do not offer free rescheduling up to 24 months and thus if you need to cancel due to Covid-19 related restrictions, or any other reasons, normal cancellation terms apply. We recommend only book these trips if you are absolutely sure you can travel to the destination of the liveaboard departure. Or make sure you purchase insurance that gets you cover in case of cancellation.
*With Covid-19 related restrictions, one of the following must apply:
You have contracted the virus within 30 days to departure and can provide medical evidence (certificate/statement) to support this.
The destination country prevents you from entering due to their governmental guidelines and restrictions on your country of residence.
Your country of residence prevents you from departing due to their governmental guidelines and restrictions on the embarkation point for the liveaboard.
Only if one or more of the above apply, this liveaboard operator will offer a free re-schedule of your trip within 24 months from the initial departure date.
Also – rescheduling is subject to availability. Rescheduled trips must be of equal or lesser value. Should the rescheduled trip be of lesser value, there will be no partial refunds.
And this makes the end of our massive guide to the Galapagos Islands cruises. I hope you found it useful. Please let me know if you have any questions
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