Are there massive cruise ships exploring the Galapagos?


Perception: Cruise ships are too massive for exploring Galapagos.

Reality: In other parts of the world, cruise ships can, indeed, be massive. But in Galapagos, the largest ships hold a maximum of 100 passengers and are perfect for exploring the islands. The options range from single-guided boats, with approximately 6-10 cabins, to two different types of multi-guided ships: Expedition yachts (approximately 16-24 cabins) and expedition vessels (over 24 cabins).

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about your ship’s capacity.

Next Section

I've heard that mass tourism is damaging Galapagos, is it true?


Perception: Mass tourism is damaging the Galapagos National Park.

Reality: The Galapagos National Park strictly controls the number of visitors allowed to visit the area each year, making the archipelago one of the most highly protected and monitored destinations in the world. As a result, the total number of people staying on live-aboard ships over an entire year is close to 75,000… and that is less than what a world-class sports stadium holds at just one sold-out event!

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about how tourism helps the Galapagos National Park.

Next Section

Should I be concerned about navigating in Galapagos tropical waters?


Perception: I’ve done a great deal of sailing in calm harbours, so I guess in the tropical waters of Galapagos my boat won’t move enough to cause me any discomfort?

Reality: Stability can make all of the difference and it is a strong feature of an expedition vessel. Contrary to common assumption, tropical waters are not always calm and an expedition vessel, by its very nature, reduces movement at sea. Single-guided boats often face interesting challenges when sailing between islands.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask what kind of ship will be the most comfortable for you.

Next Section

Will i get to see all the archipelago on any ship in the Galapagos?


Perception: I can go on any ship. After all, they all cover the whole archipelago.

Reality: Not all ships reach all of the islands you might want to visit, such as Genovesa, Fernandina, Española and North Seymour. The archipelago covers a vast area of 138,000 km² (about half the size of Great Britain) and the ship and the itinerary that you choose will determine how you access the unique wildlife.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask which itinerary or programme will give you the best island and wildlife coverage.

Next Section

Can I only select full-week trips on single-guided boats?


Perception: Only single-guided boats let you select full-week trips.

Reality: Expedition vessels, yachts, and land-based options offer a wide variety of choices for voyage length. You choose what’s best for you with itineraries that range from 5 to 15 days. You can even combine two shorter itineraries to make sure you get the island coverage you want.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about the best trip date and length for you.

Next Section

If I choose a single-guided boat, will I get exclusive access in the GNP?


Perception: Single-guided boats get exclusive access to secluded National Park locations and do not share the islands with other visitors.

Reality: At each visitor site, you will generally find more than 4 single-guided boats per visitor site or only 1 expedition vessel. Why? Because according to Galapagos National Park (GNP) rules, each visitor site has its own maximum number of guests permitted at any given time. Careful itinerary design, not ship size, is what ensures exclusivity and top wildlife viewing opportunities on island visits.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about your ship’s Galapagos Exclusivity Rate.

Next Section

A small ship equals a small group, right?


Perception: If I want to go ashore in a small group, I must go on a small ship.

Reality: The Galapagos National Park official regulation authorizes 16 or fewer guests per guide. On expedition vessels, the number of guests per guide comes down to an average of just 12.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about the Guide/Guest Ratio on your ship.

Next Section

Should I be thinking about who will be sharing the trip with me?


Perception: If I travel on a cosy single-guided boat, all my travel mates will be congenial and we will get along just fine.

Reality: Not necessarily, unless you have chartered the entire single-guided boat. Expedition vessels and yachts give you the freedom to find your own space when you want it or to seek out different guests for company while dining or when you want a friendly conversation.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about any special interests you may have. Ask if your ship has both an expedition leader and a hotel manager to ensure that everyone in your party is comfortable and their specic needs are well attended.

Next Section

Will everyone on my single-guided boat be speaking in my language?


Perception: All guests on single-guided boats speak my language and so language issues will not affect my experience.

Reality: Not everyone on a single-guided boat will necessarily speak your language. Naturalist Guides are generally multilingual and on single-guided boats, they often must repeat information in two or more languages each time they go ashore. Expedition vessels and yachts, with multiple Naturalist Guides, are better able to handle varied language requirements. This means that each group can receive more in-depth, outstanding natural history interpretation in various languages.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask how many guides are on your ship.

Next Section

Will I have access to first aid on board?


Perception: I’m in great shape. Basic first aid on board is enough for me.

Reality: Lucky for you if you enjoy constant good health, but having an MD Officer (Doctor) on your vessel can make all the difference, considering that you’re travelling in a remote region. All operators watch out for the safety and security of their guests, and the National Park authority has its own facilities and emergency medical transport available. But some operators take guest safety to another level by investing in a permanent medical presence on board.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask if there is a Medical Ofcer on board.

Next Section

Do all ships have plenty of space on public areas?


Perception: With so few guests on board a single-guided boat, I´ll never feel cramped.

Reality: If it’s space and freedom you want, take a look at the Guest Space Ratio (GSR), a cruising industry benchmark designed to show how much room each guest has on any given ship and provide a common number that can be compared from ship to ship. Divide the ship’s gross tonnage by the total guest capacity. Anything above a GSR of 20 is considered comfortable.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about the Guest-Space Ratio! Ask for detailed information about your ship’s facilities and where you can go, besides your cabin, when you want some extra space?

Next Section

Do all ships have plenty of space on public areas?


Perception: With so few guests on board a single-guided boat, I´ll never feel cramped.

Reality: If it’s space and freedom you want, take a look at the Guest Space Ratio (GSR), a cruising industry benchmark designed to show how much room each guest has on any given ship and provide a common number that can be compared from ship to ship. Divide the ship’s gross tonnage by the total guest capacity. Anything above a GSR of 20 is considered comfortable.

TRAVEL EXPERT TIP: Ask about the Guest-Space Ratio! Ask for detailed information about your ship’s facilities and where you can go, besides your cabin, when you want some extra space?

Next Section

3 Main Tips to Galapagos Expedition

Contact an expert

Fields marked with an * are required