After thorough research, I have carefully selected these top 5 Galapagos Luxury Cruises to help you narrow down your search for the best cruise in the Galapagos Islands. I have chosen the best boats that offer the top luxury experience in spacious cabins with personalized attention and with the most knowledgeable guide.
If you are looking to have the ultimate Galapagos Island luxury experience, choosing a luxury yacht or a high-end catamaran is the best way to do it. Among the many luxury boats available I have selected the 5 that have the best reviews and guarantee an unbeatable experience.
I am sure you are wondering since all the cruises are pretty much expensive, especially in the Galapagos, what are the main features that differentiate a Galapagos Luxury Cruise from a regular cruise.
Here are the most common features that distinguish a luxury cruise:
- Luxury boat with high-end modern interiors in the common area and cabins
- Spacious and luxury furnished cabins with large windows, ample en-suite bathrooms, and luxury amenities
- Premium drinks
- World-class cuisine
- A high ratio of staff per number of guests to guarantee top customer service
- sometimes you have 2 naturalistic certified guides with the highest rates
- not more than 8 cabins/16 passengers
These are the most important features that distinguish a luxury cruise and therefore raise the daily rate per person of the trip.
If you are not ready to splurge but you do want to navigate around the Galapagos Islands you will love to read my guide to the Galapagos Islands cruises for any budget where I share my top favorite Galapagos islands cruises for any budget.
Type of luxury boats in the Galapagos
In the Galapagos, you can find both motor yacht, sailing yacht, and catamarans. If it’s the first time on the sea or you are afraid of getting sea-motion sickness, you will want to chose a catamaran. In fact being a multihull vessel the catamaran is more stable and offers much higher comfort with more living space on board. This is definitely something to keep in mind.
The top 5 Galapagos luxury cruises
Ocean Spray Galapagos
Ocean Spray is a luxury Catamaran featuring spacious high-end interiors and spectacular sea views with private balconies in all the cabins.
Among the top features of this boat you will find two bilingual Naturalist guides and a concierge service throughout your navigation time.
This beautiful catamaran has only 9 stylish cabins catering to only 16 guests to guarantee more space and comfort, and more personalized service. Guests can also enjoy an ample indoor lounge and dining area, a sun deck with loungers, and a hot tub.
8 STATEROOMS – double and twin with en suite bathroom and all the necessary amenities – private balcony
1 SINGLE ROOM – Amazing opportunity for single travelers – single twin bed with ample space and private balcony
INCLUDED – Airport Transfer, VAT, Water, and soft drinks, all meals, tea & coffee, Kayaks, Land Excursions, Snorkeling Equipment, Toiletries, Cabin Towels.
NOT INCLUDED – Domestic flights, Gratuities, Alcoholic drinks.
- Year built 2011
- Length 113 ft / 34 mts
- Top speed 15 knots
- Beam 43 ft / 13 mts
- Engines MTU-DDC Series 60
- Number of cabins 9
- Max guests 16
Ocean Spray – Galapagos Luxury Cruises Itineraries
There are two itineraries available A and B and guests can chose among 4, 5, 6, 8 days itinerary depending on their time and budget.
Itinerary A is available in 8 or 6 days – All A itineraries begin in Baltra Island and navigate around Isabela Island.
The itinerary starts off from Baltra and then moves on to Chinese Hat where you will have the first encoutners with the Galapagos wildlife among which American Oystercatchers and Galapagos Penguins ,Sea lions, Galapagos Hawks, white-cheeked pintail ducks, various tropical fish, sally lightfoot crabs.
You will then sail around Isabela Island and admire its spectacular volcanic scenery – The main sites are Vicente Roca Point, Espinosa Point on the nearby Fernandina Island, one of the most pristine islands of the Galapagos. You’ll be moving on to Tagus Cove where a beautiful hike will offers breathtaking views of the cove and on the other side the mangrove forest where you will be able to spot the few remaining Mangrove finches.
Moving on to Urbina Bay for even more wildlife and amazing views. You will then reach Elizabeth Bay by panga where you will be able to snorkel and admire the beautiful bay from the boat.
Moreno Point is your next stop, a paradise for birders, but you can also spot white tip sharks in the lagoon together with spectacular views of the Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul Volcanoes.
Day 5 is in Santa Cruz where you will be visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station and active breeding center operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. Santa Cruz Highlands will also be another interesting stop, the highest point in Santa Cruz
The last day is spent exploring South Plaza, one of the smallest islands with a visitor site and home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna.
In the afternoon you will have time to pack your bags and you’ll be taken to the airport.
Those who have signed up for the 8 days cruise will continue the journey through Santa Fe Island where you will enjoy an incredible hike through an Opuntia and Palo Santo trees forest and spectacular views of the coastline Galapagos doves, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls,red-billed tropicbirds, Darwin finches, and the majestic Albatros can be spotted in this area.
Your last stop will be in San Cristobal, the first island where Charles Darwin first landed on. It is now home to the capital of Galapagos and houses many government offices, as well as part of the Ecuadorian Navy. Here you will visit the the Interpretation Center and the Galapaguera where the giant tortois roam in a semi-natural habitat created by the center.
After this last visit, transfer to San Cristobal airport for your return flight to mainland Ecuador.
Insider tip – If you have time, you will love to spend a few extra days and explore all the free things to do in San Cristobal, besides the amazing tours available, including some diving trips, if you are certified.
Cruising closer to Baltra Island this itinerary offers more options among 4, 5, 6, and 8 days cruise depending on your time and budget.
Itinerary B includes all the central and western islands depending of the duration of the cruise you book. But none of them include Isabela Island on the eastern side of the archipelago. The longest itinerary is 8 day long and if you want to have my opinion, it’s worth the price, since you are maximizing the time and money spent to reach the Galapagos Islands, you may want to spend as much time as possible exploring this amazing ecosystem while there. Who knows when you’ll be able to go back, right?
The 8 days itinerary includes Santa Cruz, Bartolome Island, Floreana, Seymour island (for amazing snorkeling), Española, Genovesa, Santiago. Throughout this itinerary, you will be able to admire spectacular views from the volcanic islands where you will be hiking and have time for amazing photography, watching an incredible diversity of wildlife, including endemic bird species, and a variety of underwater life.
Both itineraries are memorable and I reckon, it’s very difficult to choose. Your choice may also depend on which time of the year you will be traveling since different species are more likely to be seen in certain months. You can check out my guide to the animals of the Galapagos Islands to learn more.
Endemic Cruise Ship Galapagos
The Endemic is a brand new catamaran built in 2018 and offering top luxury cruises around the Galapagos Islands. Guests can enjoy 3 decks, the main and upper deck where the rooms and common areas are located and a sky deck for wildlife watching, sunbathing, and relaxing.
The 8 Golden Panoramic Suites (4 in the main deck and 4 on the upper deck) offer exquisite interior, with a sleek design and pastel color decor, besides luxury amenities and incredible views from the wide screens and the private terrace. Furthermore, guests can enjoy individually controlled AC, a private en-suite bathroom, a small area with a desk and a sofa-bed, closet & drawers for the ultimate luxury experience.
Useless to say the common areas as well boast an elegant layout and guests will love the incredible international cuisine offered within the full board meal plan.
INCLUDED – Airport Transfer, VAT, Water, and soft drinks, all meals, tea & coffee, Kayaks, Land Excursions, Snorkeling Equipment, Toiletries, Cabin Towels, Fuel Surcharge, Stand Up Paddleboard, Beach Towels, Deck Towels
OPTIONAL EXTRA – Domestic flights, Gratuities, Alcoholic drinks, WIFI
- Year built July 2018
- Length 35 mt / 115 ft
- Number of cabins 8
- Max guests 16
- Cruising speed 12 knots
- Beam 14 mt / 45 ft
- Engines 2x High Power Engines – 500 H
Endemic Galapagos luxury cruise itineraries
The Endemic offers a huge variety of Galapagos Islands itineraries that vary for the number of days and areas. For space reasons, I cannot describe them all but you can check all the itineraries directly on the Liveaboard.com page where you can also choose by your preferred date. If you are feeling overwhelmed check out my useful step by step guide to choosing a Galapagos Cruise.
However, I would like to share my favorite cruise, the one I would choose as soon as I can set foot on the Galapagos Islands again. My preference goes to the 8 days Itinerary A without a doubt. This itinerary starts off in Baltra and includes all my favorite bucket list spots, such as Fernandina, Genovesa, Rabida, and the Bolivar Canal among others, where you can spot the most incredible wildlife.
After a visit to the remote beach of Las Bachas, a beautiful white-sand beach on Santa Cruz that you can only visit if you are on a cruise, you will move on to the remote Genovesa Island, up north, where you will visit Darwin Bay, where you will spot colonies of the Great Frigates. If you are in the mating season you will see the males exhibiting their red balloon pouch to females for the hope of a match.
You will also be able to spot the rare Red-footed boobies nest in the trees. These bird species are a rare find as you may only see them in some remote areas of San Cristobal (Punta Pit) and in Genovesa. You will then move on to El Barranco (Prince Philip’s Steps), a stair made of stones that will lead you to a wide plateau where you will marvel at the view of large colonies of frigate birds, the elegant masked boobies, storm petrels, and ducks.
Back in Santa Cruz, you will explore the twin craters on the highlands, the highest point, and then move back down and continue the cruise on to Sullivan Bay located on the east coast of Santiago Island where you will land on a white coral sand beach and start walking over lava that flowed less than 100 years ago.
On day 4th you will reach Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos islands where you will explore the wetlands to spot the abundant birdlife including finches gallinules, stilts, ducks, and more.
You will also have the alternative option to visit the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the largest craters in the archipelago with a diameter of five kilometers. From there you will enjoy spectacular views of lava fields, vegetation, and fumaroles. From the top viewpoint, you will be mesmerized by the stunning sight of Puerto Villamil, volcanoes, islets, and rocks. For the rest of the day, you will have alternative visit options among all the places to see on Isabela island.
The following day is also full of amazing sights, including the visit of Elizabeth Bay by zodiac where you will spot incredible wildlife sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans, and sea lions, flightless cormorants.
In the morning, you will discover Elizabeth Bay, which is a marine visitor site. The excursion is carried out in a zodiac and so there is no landing point. Your zodiac ride starts with a visit to Mariela’s islets where there is the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion continues into the cove that is surrounded by red mangroves where you can spot sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans, and sea lions. In the afternoon you will move on to Urbina bay for more creatures encounters.
The cruise is getting more and more exciting as you approach Tagus Cove and Fernandina Island for more hiking and breathtaking views
Of course, your professional guide will always be with you and share interesting information about the natural wonders and the history of this spectacular archipelago.
You will have the opportunity to see incredible hidden spots such as the Buccaneer Cove where pirates used to land for water and food. And guess what became their food? the giant tortoise. Here you will have the chance to enjoy some adventure with snorkeling and kayaking while admiring the surrounding thriving nature.
The unique Rabida Island will be the following stop, where you will set foot on its red sand beach, popular not only for its color but also for its cactus groves and rock formation scenery, and the presence of native and endemic species.
Your 8 days itinerary on the Endemic Galapagos ends with the morning visit to Mosquera, a small island between Baltra and North Seymour for more wildlife such as lava gulls, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs besides the largest populations of sea lions and orca whales that can be seen occasionally depending on the season you visit the islet.
This is one of the best and complete itinerary I have seen so far.
Grace Cruise Ship Galapagos
Navigate in style on the luxury cruise that indeed hosted Grace Kelly and Prince Rainer of Monaco on their honeymoon! The elegant boat is originally from Southampton UK, first built in 1920, it has gone through many adventures including the war, and changes, and lastly ended up serving in the Galapagos as a luxury cruise. Much better use, I would say. To make it suitable as a luxury boat, Grace has gone through a significant turnaround with the creation of the exquisite 9 cabins and the elegant indoor and outdoor space for the guests to enjoy. However, it still conserves the vintage feel and certain original pieces from its heritage, including the original wheel from 1927.
Guests will enjoy the delicious international buffet for breakfast and lunch, and dinner served a la carte either indoors or outdoors. Wine lovers will also be able to choose from the well stocked wine cellar.
Onboard naturalists will guide you through the amazing wildlife and natural surrounding with their knowledge and their passion for their country.
There are nine elegant cabins, each with air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a window or porthole. There are 5 types of cabins from the simplest and smallest stateroom to the most luxurious and pricey Grace Kelly suite. Check out the room options available on your travel dates.
INCLUDED – transfers to and from the airport, VAT, water, and soft drinks, all meals, tea & coffee, kayaks, land tours, snorkeling equipment, toiletries, towels, fuel surcharge, port fees.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS – Gratuities, Alcoholic drinks (200 USD per item), laundry, hotel transfers
This cruise has non-flexible booking terms – Read more
- Length 44m/145ft
- Beam 7m/22ft
- Max guests 16
- Number of cabins 9
- Tenders 2 dingies (pangas/zodiacs) for 12 pax each
- Cruising speed 10-12 Knots
- Engines 8 cylinder – Twin Deutz – 500 bhp ea.
Grace luxury cruise offers two amazing 8 days itineraries called respectively “Following in Darwin’s Footsteps” and “Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps”.
I have to say they didn’t have much creativity in making up those names, and it’s difficult to get confused as they are much similar. Although they are both amazing experiences they offer two very distinctive trips and you need to know where they go and which one to choose. Here below a brief synopsis.
“Following in Darwin’s Footsteps” covers mainly the western Galapagos islands starting off in Baltra Island, then visiting Santa Fe Island, Tower Island, Isabela Island, Santiago Island, and Santa Cruz, before getting to the island of San Cristobal which is on the east side of the Archipel.
“Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps” instead focuses on the south-eastern islands. Setting off from San Cristobal you will be visiting Española Island, Santa Cruz Island, Floreana, Rabida, North Seymour, and Black Turtle Cove.
On both itineraries, you will enjoy spectacular views of the Archipel both from the boat or during the amazing hikes included in your trip. You will also explore the underwater world with some snorkeling tours and kayaking or riding in Zodiac boats to reach secluded bays and look out for spectacular wildlife. Don’t forget your camera.
As I mentioned before you need to know what you want to visit and what kind of wildlife you want to see in order to choose the best itinerary for you. I would go for the first one if I had to choose but also would do both if I had the budget and the time. Another option I always recommend is to spend some time on the island before and after the cruise to explore all the amazing things you can do and make the most of your time. There are infinite free things to do in San Cristobal Island and places that you won’t have time to see when you visit on the cruise. Also, Santa Cruz and Isabela Island have so many activities to offer that you could stay a month and never get bored. And living on the islands is not so expensive as you may think.
Camila Cruise Ship, Galapagos
Among all the Galapagos Luxury cruises, Camila is the most modern. It is a new trimaran offering incredible luxury cruises throughout the Galapagos islands with multiple days itinerary option.
Having 3 hulls, it guarantees more stability. That’s why it’s especially the best choice for those who suffer from seasickness, and it’s also faster which saves navigation time allowing you to squeeze more sites within the itinerary..
The 8 beautiful staterooms boast a sleek and modern decor with spectacular sea themed pictures over the walls ample space and the most modern high end amenities.
Also both the indoor and outdoor common space offer luxury decor and comfortable sitting areas, a jacuzzi, and a sundeck from where you can spot the incredible wildlife.
Camila has 8 Staterooms catering to a maximum of 16 guests. You can ask for a twin or double bed (depending on availability). 4 cabins are located on the main deck and 4 on the upper deck. All cabins feature A/C, private balconies, and en-suite bathrooms. All cabins are spacious and nicely decorated with spectacular pictures of the underwater world.
INCLUDED – transfers to and from the airport, VAT, water, and soft drinks, all meals, tea & coffee, kayaks, land tours, snorkeling equipment, toiletries, cabin towels.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS – Gratuities, Alcoholic drinks, local flights
This cruise has flexible booking terms – Read more
- Year built 2018
- Beam 13 m
- Length 38 m
- Number of cabins 8
- Max guests 16
Camila cruise ship offers 3 itineraries of 4, 5, and 8 days. If you know me, you know which one I would choose. The 8 days cruise! 🙂
But let me tell you why. You may have spent something like 600 to 800 USD for your flight to Ecuador, and another 500 USD for your domestic flight to the Galapagos Islands. Now once you are there and you have spent all that money, you should make the most of it and see as much as you can. Who knows when you’ll be back. Besides, the world is so big and beautiful and there’s so much to explore that you don’t want to go back over and over to the same place. So it’s best to see as much as possible while you are there. This is at least, how I see it.
But, if you can’t because of work commitments or any other reason I understand. No judgment here. Just expressing my thoughts. 😉 So let’s see all the three itinerary one by one, briefly.
4 days/3 nights – This short and sweet itinerary takes off from San Cristobal and takes you around the island where you will visit Pitt Point and Witch hill, amazing spots that are difficult to reach if you are not on a cruise. You will then cruise to Española Island, an uninhabited island where you can spot the majestic albatross, the Nasca boobies, iguanas, and other local wildlife. You will then cruise back to Santa Cruiz for other incredible sights.
5 days/4 nights – this cruise will take you around the north-east side of the Ecuadorian archipelago and you will be cruising around Santiago, Rabida, Genovesa, the popular Bartolome‘, Seymour, Baltra, Santa Cruz. Also, this cruise is filled with spectacular sights of the local wildlife and stunning views of the volcanic landscapes.
8 days/7nights – this tour is filled with all the highlights of the entire Galapagos islands. I need to be honest here. 8 days is still not enough to see it all. In fact, my favorite cruise itinerary, even though it’s not on a luxury cruise is the 17 days itinerary on the Eden, which goes through everything you can possibly see in the Galapagos Islands, well, almost! However, the 8 days on the Galapagos luxury cruise Camila is still the best option if you want to splurge on one of the top luxury boats in the Galapagos and see the most exciting Galapagos sites. In fact, you will be cruising around Isabela Island passing through the Bolivar Canal, and stopping on Fernandina for incredible wildlife and landscape sights. You will move on back to Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Floreana, and San Cristobal.
This itinerary is packed with incredible outdoor activities such as kayaking hiking and snorkeling in the most secluded and amazing places that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. So make sure you bring with you lots of energy and enthusiasm to make the most of your trip. A naturalist guide will be with you all along the journey with all its knowledge about the places you see to make the trip even more enjoyable and interesting.
On your last day in San Cristobal, although you will still have some sights included, you won’t see much because it’s departure day. So I suggest you should book your flights a few days later, book a hotel and stay a few extra days on the island and enjoy all the free things to do in San Cristobal and maybe book a couple of the amazing boat tours available.
Petrel Catamaran, Galapagos
Built in 2015 and renovated in 2019 the luxury catamaran Petrel offers beautifully decorated common areas and spacious high-end cabins. They even think about us, solo travelers, with one single cabin where you don’t have to pay the single supplement or having to share your space with a stranger.
Besides the top luxury stylish design, featuring elegant wooden floors and high-end finishings, the catamaran offers also the most modern amenities, an world-class cuisine (that caters also to vegans upon previous request), and outstanding personalized attention from the amazing staff and the naturalist guide.
The 3 types of cabin (suite, standard, single) feature a private bathroom, ample storage, AC, double or twin beds (request your preference upon booking), and a private balcony. The suites have extra space with a sitting area.
What’s included and not included
INCLUDED – transfers to and from the airport, VAT, water, and soft drinks, all meals, tea & coffee, kayaks, land tours, snorkeling equipment, toiletries, towels, fuel surcharge, National park fees, port fees, special dinner, stand up paddleboard, Laundry/pressing service.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS – Gratuities, alcoholic drinks, local flights, hotel transfers
This cruise has flexible booking terms – Read more
- Year built 2015
- Year renovated 2019
- Number of cabins 9
- Max guests 16
- Beam 41 ft / 12 mts
- Deck area 216 ft2 / 20 mts2
- Length 115 ft / 35 mts
The Itineraries on the Petrel luxury boat range from 4 – 8 days, and leave every Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, offering amazing cruising options. You can also combine more different itineraries back to back and create a longer cruise to cover more of the incredible sites of the Galapagos Islands. And of course, naturalistic guides will always be with you and share their knowledge about this incredible region, their beloved place of birth.
All the itineraries take you to all the top sites around the Galapagos islands. The shorter itineraries include San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana and Genovesa, and other small islands, while if you opt for one that includes Isabela Island you must choose the 8-day itinerary. All of them include amazing hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, and wildlife encounters. It’s just up to you to decide where you want to go and what to see. Check out my guide on the Animals of the Galapagos Islands to see what kind of species you will encounter in the different areas and at different times of the year.
Here below you can see the Galapagos maps of the 4,5, and 8 day itineraries.
And that’s about the end of my list of the top 5 Galapagos luxury cruises. I hope you found it helpful. If so I would love to hear which one you chose and of course how you enjoyed it. I can’t wait to hop on one of those big luxury babies myself!! But I authorize you to make me jealous in the meantime. 🙂
TO KEEP IN MIND
- As you may already know animals live free in their natural habitat, so you may or may not see all the species I have listed here, and although there is a good chance you will, it can be guaranteed.
- Itineraries are subject to change due to many different elements such as weather, park authorities and regulations, airline operations out of operator’s control, guide experience, and safety concerns.