Best Galapagos Cruise: Finding The perfect Itinerary

best Galapagos cruise

The Galapagos is one of the most vibrant cruise destinations on earth. It's also one of the most popular with well over 100,000 passengers a year. So, how do you choose the best Galapagos cruise? 

Thanks to the archipelago's popularity, there are numerous cruise options for all kinds of travellers. Whether you're travelling with kids, as a couple, or you just want an epic adventure - a Galapagos cruise will deliver! 

For most people, its the diversity of wildlife that draws them to the Galapagos. Whilst South America is known for it's biodiversity, the Galapagos is truly special. Swimming iguanas, giant tortoise, lounging seals and a host of seabird species make the Galapagos a unique and special destination. 

Although land tours are an option, cruising gives you best opportunity to get close to the wildlife and visit different islands and eco-systems. However, the type of ship and itinerary you choose will really depend on what situation you're in, what you want to see, and when best to travel.

Your budget is also a major factor on choosing the best Galapagos cruise to suit you. For a detailed page on Galapagos cruise costs, please click here.  

Luckily, we're here to help. We've deigned this page to answer just that. We've separated the page into three sections and you can use the quicklinks below to jump to each. 

Please read on to find the best Galapagos cruise to suit you. 

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Best Galapagos Cruise For Families

best Galapagos cruise for families

The Galapagos islands are a child's dream! As many parents will understand, children often have a strong affinity with wildlife. This connection is only enhanced in the Galapagos thanks to the close encounters that you'll experience on a daily basis. 

It's a wonderful sight to see your children standing next to a giant tortoise, or swimming with a seal. This being said, cruises in the Galapagos that don't cater for children can often be difficult. The biology lectures, early rises, packed days will tire your children very quickly.  

Because there are strict restrictions on the size of ships allowed in the archipelago, no main line ships operate here. This means no cinemas, pools, restaurants etc. the smaller ships that sail here are very much focused on wildlife encounters.  

Luckily, there are a number of ships and itineraries that cater for children. However, if your children do not like wildlife, you may be better with a land-based trip. Below are our top 3 options.  

Santa Cruz II

The Santa cruz II has a great reputation for catering towards families. With their special 'Young Pirate Program, the Santa Cruz II is definitely one of the best Galapagos cruises for families. 

The program includes special kids menus, educational activities, children's books and DVD'd, visits to the Captain's bridge, and special activity books! 

Prices start from around $3,500 per person for a 5 day cruise. Expect epic snorkelling, wildlife watching and shore excursions. 

The Letty And The Eric

The Letty and the Eric are small sister ships carrying no more than 20 passengers per ship. The great thing about both ships is they offer special 'Family' trips. When booking, you need to make sure it's a family-style trip as there are some that are not. 

The guides on board both ships understand how to make lectures fun for kids and even offer a special science program for teens. Many parents have noted that a family-focused cruise is great in terms of meeting other families and the children interacting. 

Prices for an 8-day itinerary start at around $4,500 per person. 

National Geographic Islander 

Like all National Geographic cruise, the Islander ship caters really well to children. The ship carries just 48 passengers and offers excellent levels of luxury. 

The National Geographic Global Explorer program offer kids the chance to earn points on their way to becoming a fully fledge explorer. Guides do this through the daily “In the Field: Spot It! challenge, and through creative pursuits like drawing, photography and music!

A week's cruise will cost in the region of $5,500 per person.  

Best Galapagos Cruise For Snorkelling

best Galapagos cruise for snorkelling

There's no denying the fact that the Galapagos is one of the greatest snorkelling destinations on the planet. The multitude of marine life makes every snorkelling excursion unforgettable, especially as many of the species are quite inquisitive of humans. 

Species you're likely to see include seals, penguins, sea iguanas, sea turtles, reef sharks, and plenty of fish! If you're after something a little more exciting, then certain cruises offer the chance to see whale sharks, hammerheads and tiger sharks. 

Because each island presents different eco-systems, and because every cruise includes plenty of snorkelling trips, you really need to decide on what you want to see. Therefore, the best Galapagos cruise for snorkelling is not necessarily the same for everybody.

Below we have listed the top four snorkelling spots and the cruises visit them. Remember, most operators will provide you with snorkelling equipment, but it's always good to pack you're own gear

Devils Crown (Floreana Island) 

Devils Crown gets its name from an eroded volcano crater and offers up some of the best snorkelling in the archipelago. A ring of jagged rocks rising out of the water, the Devils Crown lies off the coast of Floreana Island. 

Although there are often string currents, snorkelers are rewarded with sea turtles, large manta rays, reef sharks and a wide array of dazzling reef fish. There is also a colony of sea lions that make their home here. 

Often visited as part of southern and central Galapagos cruises, not every cruise that visits Floreana necessarily stops at the Devils Crown. You need to check the itinerary closely. The Ocean Spray, the Petrel, and the Eric/Letty often makes stops at Devils crown. 

Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)

Like the Devils Crown, Kick Rock is also considered to be one of the premiere snorkelling sites in the Galapagos.

A natural channel of crystal-clear water provides snorkelers with the opportunity to spot eagle rays, reef sharks, sea turtles, sea lions and, if you're very lucky, hammerhead sharks! Generally your cruise operator will offer you the chance to dive here also (assuming you're qualified) - this allows you to explore deeper into the channel.

This option is offered on select Eastern Galapagos itineraries. Boats such as the Petrel and the Anahi offer this itinerary frequently. More common on dive-focused cruises though. 

Tintoreras and Los Tuneles (Isabela Island)

Two of the most popular snorkelling sites in the Galapagos are located near Puerto Villami on Isabela Island. You'll witness crystal calm pools and amazing rock formations - some of which you can swim between and under! 

Penguins, sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, rays, and plenty of reef fish are spotted in both locations on a daily basis. The shoreline is also a great place to see blue-footed boobies, crabs and iguanas. 

Tintoreras is available on select Western Galapagos cruise itineraries, however, Los Tuneles is only available on day cruises from Isabela.   

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Best Galapagos Cruise For Couples

best Galapagos cruise for couples

The Galapagos has got to be one of the most romantic destinations on earth - especially for active couples. Watch gorgeous sunsets with a glass of champagne, bond through epic wildlife encounters, and relax on the white-sand beaches. Honeymooners frequently pick the Galapagos as their destination, knowing that the experience will never be forgot.

We often get asked if there are any couple-focused cruise in the Galapagos - the answer is no. However, there are ways you can orient your experience towards couples.

The first is to pick a smaller ship. This allows a more intimate space with less other passengers. Often there will just be 9 or 10 other couples on board with you. Families tend to opt for the bigger boats where there are more on-board activities to keep the kids entertained.

The second thing you can do is pick an operator that has a fleet of boats. Operators such as Ecoventura have three boats; the Letty, Eric , and Flamingo. As the boats are identical, passengers are separated according to preferences. 

Contact Your Agent Or Operator

Instead of suggesting a single cruise or ship, the best advise we can give is to contact your agent or operator and request a boat with as many 'couples' as possible. 

Although not guaranteed, this gives you the best chance of getting what you want. 

Best Galapagos Cruise - Editors Pick

best Galapagos cruise - editors pick

The Galapagos has many cruise itineraries and sites to see. Therefore, choosing the best Galapagos cruise is a tough ask. It's also impossible as everyone enjoys seeing and experiencing different things. 

What I will say is that the better guides tend to work on the more expensive ships. Better guides does not necessarily mean more knowledge, but it does generally means better English and more capable of explaining and communicating ideas and facts in a charismatic manner. 

Whether or not you choose a luxury cruise or a standard cruise is entirely dependent on your budget. So below I've listed my two favourite ships and itineraries. 

8-Day Islander Cruise aboard The National Geographic Islander

This wonderful cruise combines luxury with adventure. The vessel take 48 passengers, giving you enough space, but also enough intimacy should you wish it. 

You visit 7 of the main islands including Isabela and Floreana - both great for snorkelling! The cruise starts at $7,000 per person. Definitely worth it if you have the money as the food, guides and activities on board are second to none. 

8-Day Classic Cruise aboard The Letty/Eric

With just 20 passengers, the Letty and the Eric offer an intimate experience that avoids any queueing! Guided shore excursion are done in groups of 10 which gives you a great guide/passenger ratio. 

The Classic Itinerary visits 8 islands, including Rabida Island. All the favourites are included such as Santa Cruz, Floreana, and San Cristobal. Because it is not as luxurious as the National Geographic Islander mentioned above, prices start from $4,500 per person. 

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


If you have any queries or questions regarding the best Galapagos cruise, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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