Arguably one of the best destinations in the world, a trip to the spectacular World Heritage Site of the Galapagos islands is like no other. A naturalists dream, this unique archipelago of 19 islands can be found just over 600 miles off of the west coast of South America, in the Pacific Ocean and is home to many of the world’s most unique animals such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas, waved albatrosses and sea lions, to name but a few. Many of the animals are very relaxed and not easily disturbed by humans so it’s a really safe place for all ages to explore. In fact, incredible up-close encounters are the norm here! Snorkelling is an absolute must when visiting this amazing destination…..a glimpse beneath the surface of the Pacific will reveal an underwater world that will intrigue and astound, with 25% of the rare species of marine animals of the Galapagos islands being found nowhere else on this planet!
Also helping to make Galapagos a place of changing beauty are the powerful active volcanoes found on this archipelago of islands, 13 in total! Volcano Wolf, the highest of the volcanoes on the Galapagos islands is a must see as is Cerri Azul on the beautiful Isabela Island; this volcano shows some degree of activity every year and is a great place to explore one of the astonishing wonders of nature.
The beaches are remote and secluded, with soft white sand and warm turquoise waters, perfect for soothing the soul. And for the foodies out there, the local cuisine will not disappoint. Fresh fish such as lobster, crab and sea cucumber are all regular features on the menu. Perhaps try ceviche, fish marinated in lemon, or the local dish of encebollado, a popular fish soup.
One of the best things about this group of islands is their proximity to each other, making this the ideal destination to experience by cruise. Perfect for the luxury traveller wanting to find out more about this incredible part of the world, cruises with their experienced guides allow you to access remote destinations that you wouldn’t otherwise witness. To help you decide on which is the best option for you, we have compiled a list of the top ten cruise ships for discovering the spectacle that is the Galapagos Islands.
1. Galapagos Legend
Style and luxury await you onboard the magnificent Motor Vessel Galapagos Legend. Boasting the very best facilities and recently refurbished in 2017, this 300 feet long ship has 5 decks to choose from so if you find yourself with a little downtime, there is plenty to discover on board. Perhaps find a secluded spot to do some quiet reading or maybe just sit and soak up the breathtaking scenery. And there is a deck for all occasions….. a sun deck for those wanting to catch a few rays, an observation deck and a stargazing deck, perfect for admiring the clear South American skies on a warm summers evening. A gym and swimming pool will burn off a few calories whilst the hammocks and open lounge are perfect for relaxing after a day exploring out and about in the zodiac boats. Accommodation is varied with 57 cabins in total ranging from standard and standard plus, to junior suites and balcony suites. And for those wanting something really special, why not stay in the Legend Balcony Suite which offers 43 square metres of space and comes complete with a private balcony, a mini fridge and complimentary champagne. Being larger than some of the other vessels, the Galapagos Legend is perfect for families; as well as the children’s corner with games and activities, there is lots of space to have fun and just explore and a number of the cabins can also be configured to accommodate families. As you would expect from a luxury cruise, customer service is second to none with nothing being too much trouble for the attentive, helpful and friendly and crew.
Beautifully refurbished and offering exceptional guest facilities, the Millennium is a sleek catamaran with accommodation for up to 16 guests. Each of the double cabins has its own private balcony, perfect for relaxing and admiring your very own personal view of the awe inspiring Galapagos Islands. The interior of the ship is modern with each of the large cabins having air conditioning and private bathrooms. Despite being a larger boat, the small number of guests makes it a really personal experience and you will certainly feel like one big family by the end of your excursion. There are the usual social areas that you would expect such as a lounge, bar and sun deck, as well as many quiet areas where you can relax and unwind. The food is a combination of traditional Ecuadorian specialties and international dishes and can be enjoyed either from the comfort of the indoor dining room with its beautiful picture windows, or on the open deck.
3. Infinity Galapagos
Be one of the very first passengers to enjoy cruising around the Galapagos Islands on this state of the art, brand new yacht. Built in 2018, the Infinity Galapagos accommodates just 20 guests and enjoys the luxury of having a 14 person crew with 2 guides. With ratios like that, you can just imagine the five star service you will receive throughout your cruise. Each cabin has amazing views, not to mention mod cons such as flat screen TV’s, DVD players and ensuite bathrooms. The ship itself offers many exclusive areas where you can retreat and relax including sun deck with Jacuzzi pool, perfect for taking in the beauty of this once in a lifetime experience. To enhance your underwater discoveries, snorkelling gear is provided as well as kayaks and pangas to help you get up close and personal with the local wildlife. Dining is an event not to be missed; enjoy an al fresco BBQ on the porch or a fine dining experience in the spacious dining room. This is the perfect cruise for those wanting to discover the very best of the Galapagos Islands with an added touch of luxury.
4. Tip Top II
First Class service, ample space and speed are just a few of the words that spring to mind when describing the recently refurbished Tip Top II catamaran. One of the faster boats in the fleet and travelling at a cruise speed of 12 knots, you’ll spend less time travelling and more time exploring! This deluxe vessel received a stunning refit in 2016 and offers our luxury travellers the chance to really indulge. The occupancy is limited to 16 passengers and accommodation is spacious with the highest level of comfort provided. Natural materials and solid wood give this ship a very grand feel, perfectly complemented by the exquisite cosmopolitan cuisine, high ceilings and panoramic views. For sun lovers, there is a spacious sun deck with cushioned loungers and the outdoor lounge and bar make the perfect spot for reflecting on the day’s activities, whilst enjoying a cool beer or glass of wine.
5. Nemo III
Spacious al fresco areas, stylish decor and delectable food are just a few highlights that combine to make cruising on the Nemo III catamaran, a truly magical experience. Offering some of the best accommodation in her class, you will be treated to eight superior style cabins, all with air conditioning and full-size showers. With a maximum of 16 guests at any one time, the experience is intimate and made even more unforgettable by the delightful sun deck area. Situated to the rear of the vessel, here you can enjoy the Galapagos sun from the comfort of your sun lounger. Complete with a Jacuzzi hot tub, this cruise ship is the epitome of relaxation and indulgence. Modern stylish design is themed throughout and complemented by the excellent food and professional, knowledgeable and friendly crew.
6. Galapagos Seaman Journey
The Galapagos Seaman Journey is the perfect blend of small groups and personalised service, whilst at the same time offering the opportunity to meet and make new friends. Accommodating up to 16 guests and with many private areas where you can chill out and completely unwind, this superior catamaran is simply first class. There are six twin cabins with fabulous panoramic views of the islands and a further two Queen sized suites which offer additional space; perfect for a family or a romantic getaway. We love the dive platform to the rear of the vessel – from here you can take a refreshing dip in the Pacific or try your hand at snorkelling. The perfect end to your amazing day of discovering the stunning Galapagos Islands has to be relaxing on the sundeck with good food and a glass of wine, watching the sun slowly melt into the horizon.
7. The Silver Galapagos
Visit one of the most unique destinations in the world and travel in style onboard the magnificent Silver Galapagos. Plush accommodation, sophisticated decor and first class all-inclusive service combine to create a five star masterpiece that will blow you away. With a crew of 75 to 100 guests, you can expect the very highest levels of attention. This ship is much more than just a vessel in which to cruise around the Galapagos Islands….it is a floating five star hotel! The accommodation comprises of suites, all of which offer stunning panoramic views of the islands and are serviced by your very own butler! And if you are looking for that extra little ‘je ne sais quoi’, why not stay in either the Veranda or Silver suites which have their own private balconies and complimentary extras such as sparkling wine and personal espresso machines. As you would expect, a luxury cruise ship offers only the best in terms of food and drink and the Silver Galapagos is no exception. Choose from either the al fresco Grill, where you can cook your own food on hot lava stones, or the Silver restaurant which offers a wide range of local and international dishes. Relax in the spa…. or perhaps the library…. or even in the beauty salon! With so much to see on and off ship, you can be forgiven for wanting to stay forever!
8. Mary Anne
What could be more memorable than following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin onboard a fully rigged schooner? If you fancy your hand at helping to hoist the mainsail, then a cruise on the stunning Mary Anne is for you! With accommodation for 16 guests (of which 8 cabins are dedicated to single occupancy), this boat is perfect for those wanting to visit as a small group or on their own. The sociable wood panelled lounge area is great for sharing stories from the day’s encounters and has a real cosy feel. Fabulous freshly prepared food can be enjoyed in either the inside or outside dining areas and the sun deck is just perfect for relaxing and taking in the splendour of the surrounding islands and the authenticity of the ship itself. Aside from the fabulous service, the crew’s outstanding local knowledge and charming amenities, one of the really special highlights about navigating by sail is the peace and tranquillity you will experience. No engines means no noise which makes it very tempting for whales and dolphins to swim alongside the ship… a truly unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
9. Grand Queen Beatriz
This brand new yacht offers the very best in cutting edge technology and design. Created for a maximum of 16 passengers, the Grand Queen Beatriz has a choice of amazing suites and standard cabins for guests to enjoy. Suites are luxurious and simply huge at 270 sq ft, with private balconies and stunning contemporary decor. Standard rooms are equally as impressive and whilst they don’t feature a balcony, they do have panoramic windows from which you can appreciate the stunning views across to the islands. The sun terrace is the perfect place to chill out and enjoy the tropical climate or for the ultimate in relaxation, lie back and soak up the atmosphere of these enchanted islands from the comfort of the warm, bubbling Jacuzzi. Polished teak floors and stylish accessories all add to the sophistication of this yacht, not to mention the fabulous food and outstanding customer service. Snorkelling gear and wetsuits are provided free of charge as a dip into the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean is an absolute must!
Catering for single occupancy, triple occupancy and with first class interiors, the Solaris is a brand new vessel (which set sail in March 2019) and ideal for couples, families and solo travellers. Supplement free single cabins mean that you are not disadvantaged on price if travelling on your own. The clean, modern design has the feeling of a boutique hotel and the cabins are exquisitely designed being both luxurious and comfortable. There is an expansive, well stocked bar which is perfect for relaxing after a long day exploring and the laid back ‘cafe style’ restaurant serves delicious cuisine using only the freshest local ingredients. Solaris boasts a magnificent sun deck and ample spaces to relax and rest, the perfect complement to your Galapagos experience.
To book all these cruises, contact Galapatours who are experts on these magical islands with over 15 years’ experience. They pride themselves on the vast range of cruise options they list, as well as on the excellent local knowledge of their travel advisors. They are all well-seasoned South American travellers and are more than happy to share their knowledge and assist you with finding the perfect Galapagos cruise for you.
Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.