Galapagos cruises

“A top selling tailor made eight day cruise of Galapagos archipelago, with choice of sailing boats according to budget and preference.”

Highlights

Floreana Island | Española Island | San Cristobal Island | Santa Fe Island | Bartolome Island | Santa Cruz Island | Snorkeling

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

Daily departures throughout the year.
Our top tip:
Get sea sick? Go for a posh catamaran.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome, accommodated on boats with single berths with no supplement when possible.
Accomm:
Single, double and bunk berths with private bathrooms.
Included:
Accommodation, most meals, transfers from Galapagos airport, naturalist guide, snorkel gear.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Galapagos cruises

Environment

Galapagos cruises: The Galapagos was the first natural site to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site - 1979. It is also a Biosphere Reserve and Whale Sanctuary. The Galapagos is a worldwide model for eco-tourism. Here you are able to visit an area of great natural beauty and encounter, at close quarters, animal species that have no fear of humans. Strict regulations govern all tourist activities and are rigidly enforced and tourist numbers are restricted.

For every visitor we take on our Galapagos cruises we donate £25 to the Galapagos Conservation Trust (www.gct.org) who work to protect and conserve the Galapagos islands, or choose to take up a free one year membership of the Trust, paid for by us.

We are also now supporting the UK registered chairty Amantani. As this charity is very much in keeping with our ethos of small scale, targetted help which is educational & sustainabale. HuchuyYachaq is the other main Peruvian charity we support by paying a for a full time teacher. A % of all our income goes to support those projects.

The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact. Please try to minimise your impact:

Take a water bottle to refill, rather than use a new bottle each time;
Recycling your rubbish where possible, not leaving any behind;
Taking batteries back home with you – they cannot be recycled properly in Ecuador;
Saving water where possible; and
Saving energy by switching your lights off when you leave the room. Electricity on the islands comes from a generator, fuelled by petrol. For the same reason, please think about whether you really need to use your air conditioning.

Community

The boats we use are all locally owned and operated yachts, equipped to accommodate 10 - 16 passengers and accompanied by professional naturalist guides certified by the Darwin Research Station.

We work directly with locally-owned hotels on the islands, too, and do the same on the mainland of Ecuador.

For every visitor we take on our Galapagos cruises we donate £25 to the Galapagos Conservation Trust (www.gct.org) who work to protect and conserve the Galapagos islands, or choose to take up a free one year membership of the Trust, paid for by us.

Reviews of Galapagos cruises

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 27 Nov 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkelling with turtles, sealions and penguins. Getting so close to and seeing so many different animals and birds.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The sea water is cold you need a wetsuit! Take seasick pills, it can be rough and you don't want to ruin your trip. A cruise is a great way to see so much make the most of it :-)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


There are a fair number of controls on the Galapagos to limit visitor numbers group sizes etc Wouldn't like to say for sure how much the local people benefitted from the holiday- all those working on the boat were from the islands.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great- the crew on the Angelito really looked after us. Galapagos is a special place to visit...I'll never be able to go wildlife watching get ever again, now I've been spoilt!

Reviewed on 09 Dec 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Quoting my travel diary on the day we were visiting Isabela Island and in the evening had the opportunity to go to the beach on Puerto Villamil:

The aquamarine water is so clear I can easily see my toes digging in the white sand of the seafloor. The water is shallow and warm, and so salty that I can float without any effort. The flavor of the salt is mixing with the taste of the coconut
milk I had on the beach. The sun is setting and the clouds are getting darker. Gray pelicans and blue-footed boobies are flying above me, and frequently diving in the water just next to me for catching fish. I notice a sea lion swimming close
to me. And then a penguin passing by me in the water. I notice there are three penguins. They look so playful but I guess they also are fishing. I float watching the last rays of light turning the sky orange. The birds continue their diving.
The water is so warm. I don't want to leave.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared for a rough sea so don't go if you get very sea sick, or at least bring good sea sickness medication. The weather can change quickly so it is a good idea to bring a rain coat, as well as sunblock with high spf. The days are quite
hectic with hikes and snorkeling which at times may feel a bit exhausting but, then again, you get to see and experience a lot. Get ready for an amazing trip, and don't forget to take your camera!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I enjoyed the fact that we had two very professional naturalist guides with us the whole time (also required by the Galapagos National Park) who were not only telling us interesting facts about the environment and the conservation
projects, but also making sure that we were following all of the National Park rules.

All the crew members as well as the naturalist guides were local which was very nice. Also, we visited a few restaurants and shops which benefitted the local community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


For me, the cruise was a combination of agonizing sea sickness and the most wonderful trip I ever had. The M/S Galaven was a very comfortable ship with such a friendly and helpful crew and guides. We had a fantastic group of people on board so I had a great time although traveling solo. I was very pleased with the itinerary of the cruise which really made the most of the days. During the week we got to see practically everything which honestly made it feel well worth the investment.
When planning my trip, I was so happy with the quick and helpful contacts from Responsible Travel. I was also very pleased with the operator's knowledgeable, kind and quick service.

Reviewed on 03 Jan 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The first day arriving in Galapagos and seeing the sea turtles, snorkelling, swimming next to sealions.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I think it would be better to travel on a slightly larger, quicker and more stable boat as I got very sea sick. Also the journey to Genovesa island is very long and rocky and not really worth it. Some more advice on the best islands to see would have been helpful as it is also an expensive trip.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Good.

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your comments, Dalia. We are delighted to hear you had a good time in the Galapagos. Sorry to hear you had problems with sea sickness and we hope it didn't dampen your spirits! We do offer a large selection of boats (and itineraries) for every taste and generally the more high class boats - especially catamarans - are more stable and less rocky.

Reviewed on 11 Nov 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing and swimming with many of the wildlife including penguins, sea lions, dolphins. Driving through ocean surrounded by volcanoes on all sides.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you want warm water and better weather do not go in November. If the boat you booked does not have full wetsuits bring your own or else you could be too cold to enjoy snorkelling. Make sure you book a boat that has individual thermostats in each room. Get sea bands to stop motion impact on your body.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, boat crew and families are supported. The walking trails are very confined and make sure people only travel on very small footprints.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I would rate it 2 1/2 stars between OK and enjoyable. The Beluga is NOT A LUXURY BOAT and should not be marketed as such - its misleading to put in this category and candidly dishonest.

The Darwin center was extremely unimpressive - the Park system should spend some of the $100 everyone pays to improve this whole area.

The crew/guide on Beluga were good. We only had the opportunity to kayak for 15 minutes out of 8 days - Very disappointing and make no sense. We paid $50 for a weekly rental including a ripped wetsuit (shortie) + snorkelling gear that did not keep my wife warm and thus we only used it 2x. That was a rip-off and the biggest disappointment as we went on the boat to specifically see all the wildlife from the water. While we went to many places there was too much redundancy - every place had the same animals, landscape, etc. We also did not get that much time on the islands to enjoy beaches, etc.

The coffee was horrible (the one thing I look forward to in the AM). Food quality was good - deserts could use a lot more imagination.

When we booked transfers from Baltra to San Cristobal we found out we paid 2x what the cost would have been had we booked it ourselves. While we are happy to pay a commission 100% of the cost of something seems onerous. In addition, we were not given a flight option (Baltra to San Cristobal - 15 minutes), instead we were told you have to take a taxi (1 hour) and water taxis (2 1/2 hours) which was so crowded there were not enough seats.

For the money spent I don't feel like we got good value and there are many places such as Costa Rica where you can see a much broader range of nature + warm tropical water, volcanoes, etc.

Read the operator's response here:

We are sorry to hear that the Galapagos did not fulfil our clients’ expectations in terms of wildlife. The islands' wildlife and landscapes are fascinating and while there are many differences in subspecies of wildlife from island to island, the main species of wildlife are found on more than one island. We send information on each destination to our customers and recommend that customers read this beforehand to find out whether the destination of their choice can offer them what they would like to see - and therefore hopefully avoid their being disappointed on arrival. The Galapagos Islands are not a beach destination as such and beach time is generally limited in favour of wildlife excursions and snorkelling.

The Beluga boat is classified as a first class boat, which makes it an above midrange boat. We do not sell it as a luxury boat. While emphasis is put on good quality meals, it is important to remember that you are cruising amongst remote islands and food has to be shipped in from the mainland and has to keep for a week long cruise, limiting the selection of food and dessert choices. Sadly, while Ecuador is a leading exporter of coffee, it is not the Ecuadorian custom to drink quality coffee.

We always advise our customers of alternatives to private transfers if there is an option of using public transport, and this customer was advised that a cheaper local bus was available for the transfer from the airport. It was the customer’s choice to book the higher priced private transfer. The option was given. We aim to give all different options in terms of inter-island transport but in this case the customer chose to have free time on Santa Cruz island before moving on San Cristobal island, and for that reason we did not offer the early morning inter-island flight but instead the local boat which leaves later in the day, after lunch, from the town of Puerto Ayora. Numbers on those boats are restricted, and the port authorities control the numbers, but they can be busy. The inter-island flights are somewhat unreliable and you can be hanging around for hours at Baltra airport.

Reviewed on 31 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Visiting one of the most unique places left on earth, and seeing how protective tour operators and the park authorities are keeping it that way.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Book with a small tour group who really cares about the Galapagos.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Being on a cruise we spent little time in town, but did have some time to spend in local shops, and to support the Darwin station and to learn more about the park authorities. it was good to learn about the controls the local people have to live and work under in order to protect the park. Recycling etc was encouraged, but perhaps drinks etc could be provided in reusable glass bottles?

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Amazing and excellent - truly a trip of a lifetime, and one of the few times one can genuinely use the word 'awesome'.

Reviewed on 14 May 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This was a trip on the Aida Maria to Galapagos Islands. Most memorable experience was snorkelling within inches of green sea turtles and sealions.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


SUN BLOCK you burn in 10-15 minutes under Ecuadorian sun.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Galapagos has strict rules but does not seem to limit to number of boats as there were boats like ours everywhere, you could not get a clear photo of any of the bays we visited.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I don’t rate the Aida Maria boat, the food was AWFUL and the guide was very poor, I’m sure he must have more knowledge than he passed on, he just sounded so bored and disinterested you did not feel like asking any questions, you felt he was in the job only for the pay check. The Galapagos is an amazing place but don’t expect secluded islands the trips are busy, the islands all have more than one boats attending and the 5-6 groups rotate round the trails at a set pace.

Read the operator's response here:

Unfortunately, on this occasion our usually excellent guide, who has worked with the Aida Maria boat for many years, received some distressing personal news immediately prior to joining the cruise. He is now currently on leave and will be back with us when he is back to his usual good form. His performance has, down the years, always been described as a very professional, responsible and knowledgeable guide. We are confident that this was a one-off. We’re sorry that this traveller missed out on his usually excellent guiding skills.

Reviewed on 04 Jun 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It was all fantastic - The feeling of elation on completing the Inca trail, Machu Pichu as the clouds lifted, sunset in the Galapagos Islands.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would wholeheartedly recommend both the Inca Trail and Galapagos Islands. Excellent combination. My tips to other travellers would be to make sure you get fit for the Inca Trail. It is hard work. Also make sure to take bacterial hand wipes. The toilets are not great!!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, I felt that the local population benefited from money spent by tourists. Emphasis was put on minimising the impact of tourism on both Inca Trail and Galapagos.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Definitely the best holiday I have had. The operators were fantastic. Everything was very well organised, with a named contact in each country as well as mobile phone numbers for. I would recommend them to anyone.

Reviewed on 04 Jun 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Swimming with Sea Lions!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Worth doing a bit of background reading into Galapagos before travelling (or on the flight!). The guides are brilliant, but there is so much information, it helps to have a bit of prior knowledge!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Interesting question! The Galapagos Islands are definitely suffering from the environmental impact of the volume of tourists visiting and the infrastructure necessary to support this industry. In addition, the obvious economic benefits to the local population are creating migration to the Islands from the mainland, which ironically is placing additional pressure on the environment. In summary, our holiday was economically beneficial to the local people. However I am less sure about the benefits in the longer term to both local people and the environment!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The Galapagos cruise was a fantastic experience and a great end to our honeymoon in Ecuador. As such, it was a truly special holiday and justifies 5 stars! It did, however, tangibly demonstrate the continuing conflict between tourism and environment and without diminishing our enjoyment, was a bit sobering!

Read the operator's response here:

The Galapagos Islands have recently been placed on the World Heritage endangered list. We as an operator fully support this move and any additional restrictions that will be placed on immigration to the islands and the further development of tourism.

Reviewed on 30 Sep 2006 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


No part of our holiday stands out as most memorable or exciting, simply because it was all on such a high plane; perhaps it would be accurate to say that no part was not memorable or exciting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It didn't affect me, but some of the party would have benefited from earplugs (noisy boat engine) and/or seasickness antidote (Pacific swell); for my part, the engine noise and boat's motion lulled me to a full night's sleep every time. A lot of snorkelling was available, and the water was not that warm: bring a wet suit if convenient. If not, one was provided, at a price.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The impact on the environment was pretty minimum: we were kept to official tracks, cleaned our footwear on returning to the boat and reminded, where appropriate, of our (minor) transgressions. There's no doubt that our trips provided local people with income and work.

4. Any other comments?


***** is our rating: every aspect of the trip was flawless: being transferred from airport to hotel, and vice versa; attractive and friendly hotel with friendly and attractive staff; tour with outstanding and sympathetic guides; yacht with excellent cuisine, friendly and helpful crew and excellent guide. Thank you.

Reviewed on 27 Feb 2006 by

This was truly the vacation of a lifetime - to be cliche. My husband and I had the most marvellous time - exploring the (mostly) pristine islands and seeing the fantastic biodiversity up close was just amazing. The scenery on the boat and on the islands is simply breathtaking - and the wildlife - which is so unafraid of humans you must take care not to step on some species - is spectacular. Snorkelling among schools of huge, brilliantly colored tropical fish, penguins, and with sea lions playing along side us - or playing tag with us - were probably the most memorable moments.

The guides were very knowledgeable and took the responsibility of minising our impact as tourists very seriously as well as educating us to the challenges faced by those trying to maintain and preserve the islands. The crew was delightful and the food out of this world. The crew were all originally from the Galapagos and hopefully are those who benefit from our expenditures - however probably our financial "impact" on the local populations of the Galapagos is not the same as with vacations to the mainland of Ecuador. I simply cannot say enough about what a fantastic time we had and what an enriching experience this trip has been.

As far as tips to other travellers - some of our boatmates didn't seem to have read much (or anything) and were very unprepared for the rugged terrain, heat, and sun! A pair of open-toed, sturdy sandals (such as Tiva's) AND a pair of sturdy tennis shoes are a must!! Be prepared for walking and balancing on volcanic rock - the point of the vacation is to be somewhere where there are no sidewalks or escalators!! And the intensity of the sun cannot be overemphasized (especially if you spend a day or two in Quito first!) you cannot wear enough sunscreen and I snorkelled mostly in long-sleeved tee-shirts and scrub pants for sufficient protection.

We had a fantastic time and I will certainly use your website to look for our next adventure!!

Reviewed on 26 Nov 2006 by

Our holiday consisted of 5 days aboard the Aida Maria travelling the Southern Galapagos Islands including Santa Fe, South Plazas, Espanola, Floreana, Santa Cruz. The boat was of a high calibre, food was excellent, all staff very friendly and guide was exceptional. There was a nice mix between hikes, snorkelling and some spare time. Galapagos islands were beautiful and the snorkelling was out of this world. We then travelled by ourselves to Isabella Island for 2 nights, which was nice to take some time out to be by ourselves. From there back to Santa Cruz with its beautiful Tortuga Bay and then onto Napo Wildlife Center - fantastic lodge, amazing location on the lake and an excellent range of activities. Most mornings you are up at 05:00 but there is flexibility to do your own thing if you do not want to do this.

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part of the trip was the snorkelling with sea lions, penguins, turtles and sharks.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Tips for other holiday makers is pack sea sickness tablets as the boats can get quite rocky and be of a good level of fitness.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I was initially slightly concerned that we would be 1 of a number of boats at each island and whilst there were on occasion 3 others, everything was staggered so that you did not feel swamped. Do be careful how you pick your boat as some of them looked rather rusty! I feel in all areas the local environment and people were considered at all times.

4. Any other comments?


I would give this holiday 4 stars - Some stories to tell the grandchildren, I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend but only because I have been very fortunate to have previously visited some exceptional places in this world. I can certainly see that if I had not been previously it would have been a 5 star holiday. Finally I would recommend this operator, specifically Tom as he could not do enough to make sure this holiday was perfect.

Reviewed on 16 Nov 2006 by

Napo Wildlife Centre, Ecuador - 5 stars

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most exciting part of the holiday was getting into the dug-out canoe at dawn each morning not knowing what we were going to see that day. We saw fantastic wildlife and our guides (we have both a naturalist and a native guide) were excellent spotters and very informative. My most memorable part of this holiday was gliding through the rainforest in our canoe as it got dark and hearing the many sounds of the rainforest, including the spooky sound of the howler monkey.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take lots of film or memory cards as you will always take more photos than you think. Take a little notebook to write down your spottings - I am not a twitcher but you cannot help becoming interested and noting the birds and animals down is infectious as it allows you to learn even more back at the lodge.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Half the profits from the trip go the Anangu community and some members of the community also work within the lodge. We had both a native and naturalist guide (who was Ecuadorian) and it we great to see how they learned from each other as well as us learning from them. The lodge has a set up of a Quechua house rather than promote visiting the nearby village to minimise the impact of the lodge on the community. Our guides respected the environment and were enthusiastic above showing the rainforest for what it is.


Galapagos 8 day trip on Encantada - 4 stars

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Snorkelling with sea lions and watching three sea lion pups play together on the shore. The wildlife was fantastic and it was amazing to see how inquisitive birds and animals can be without humans feeding them.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The Galapagos islands are on the equator and so can be really hot and sunny so pack lots of sun protection and some long sleeve shirts, sunglasses and a hat, there is no shade on most of the islands so a parasol may be an idea if you are going to be out in the open for any length of time. A snorkelling vest or wetsuit is a good idea too. Read up as much as you can before you go as it will enhance your trip. An underwater camera (you can get disposable ones) is a must.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Our guide was born on the Galapagos so it was good to see local people receiving training and employment. Our crew was also Ecuadorian. The guide was very careful to ensure we understood the rules of visiting the islands and ensure we understood how they helped us minimise our impact. The Galapagos landscape and wildlife is so unspoilt that it is an inspiration of how we can live and all our group left determined to care for our environment and wildlife better.

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