The Most Complete Galapagos Experience
Calling all who have dreamt going to the Galapagos for years – if you're planning a trip and what to experience the islands to their fullest, and make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, then the 15-day Galapagos cruises might be your best bet.
If you are passionate about viewing wildlife, snorkeling, hiking, swimming and all the other exciting excursions that define a Galapagos experience, this option maximizes all of that. It's also a great way to see the whole archipelago – while the shorter navigations are more limited by time, the two-week cruises are able to visit each region of the Galapagos Islands and allow travelers the chance to participate in every area's main activities.
- You will see the whole Galapagos archipelago. The Galapagos Islands, though a small geographic region, have very distinct zones in each corner of the Islands. With this, obviously, there are significant differences between the younger Western Islands and the oldest Eastern and Southern Islands, including major differences in flora and fauna and even climate and water temperatures. The 15-day option is the only one that will fully acquaint you with each of these regions.
- You will be able to really adjust to the boat. For many people, the first few days onboard are spent getting accustomed to the rocking of the boat. On the 15-day cruise, you have a solid week and a half aboard even after you've acquired your sea legs. This will make your experience on the ship even more comfortable and enjoyable.
- If you are retired and have lots of time to dedicate to traveling, then this is an amazing way to spend it. There is certainly no obligation to participate in every activity, and on 15-day cruises you have more liberty to do the activities that excite you.
- For the avid naturalists, there is no better way to become intimately familiar with this amazing part of our planet. The diving spots are internationally heralded as one of the wonders of the underwater world.
- On top of that, this is a great spot for photographers. Since each of the Galapagos Islands is so ecologically distinct and maintained in such pristine condition, you could easily fill several memory cards on even a five-day cruise. But the more time you spend in the Islands, the more opportunities you will have to snap the best pictures. If you want diversity in your photo album, then the 15-day option is the perfect way to witness all of the Galapagos' natural and unique biodiversity.
Disadvantages of shorter cruises
- Shorter cruises tend to stay in one area. This is very limiting, considering that the Galapagos Islands are famous primarily for their wealth of biodiversity in each part of the chain.
- You will have more time to rest. On shorter excursions, there is a lot of pressure to participate in every activity since it is often the only time you will be able to experience it (whether that's swimming with the sharks, watching the blue-footed boobies' mating dance, or even kayaking over the crystal waters to spot the giant yet elusive mola mola). On the 15-day cruise, you will be in each area longer and have ample opportunities to do each activity, so there's no pressure to do everything if you need some rest.
- You won't be able to see everything. Coming to the Galapagos Islands is a major commitment of money, especially if you're going on a cruise. If you really want to make your investment worth it, then the longer cruises are the best way to do that. If you are spending thousands of dollars on this vacation already, you might as well get the most out of the experience.
Some things to keep in mind
- Most people find that boats with air conditioning are much more comfortable, especially during the warmer months between December and May.
- Book your trip through an Ecuadorian company – not only will they know the Galapagos better, but they will also be able to provide more competitive prices than international agencies.
- Don't choose a room above or next to the motors. Check the floorplan of your boat, as the motors can be loud, especially during the overnight navigations. This is especially important on the smaller vessels.
Cruise boats are categorized by the following:
Note that not all cruise ships offer 15-day Galapagos cruises, so if this is the option you want to pursue, we at Columbus Travel are happy to help you figure out which companies and operators have these extended navigations. Prices vary, with the luxury yachts at the higher end and budget level yachts being much more affordable.
It's also important to remember that when you're figuring out your budget, you really do get what you pay for. On the luxury end of Galapagos boats, you will find that these vessels generally have more space, a more private atmosphere, the most comfortable amenities (like air conditioning, hot tubs, and bars); the more economical your tour, the more likely it is that your boat might not have some of these luxuries.
If you have decided on the 15-day cruise, then you should really make your investment worth it and book the boat on which you will be most comfortable. You'll be calling this boat home for a solid two weeks, so even the smallest discomforts can affect your experience in the long run.
Yachts and ships
- Catamarans: These are the most stable of the Galapagos boats. The body of the boat is spread over twin hulls that limit the rocking feeling. This is the best type of boat for people prone to motion sickness. This is also a good option if you want a more private experience, as they usually accommodate no more than 16 passengers and the crew.
- Motorboats and sailboats: These are best for the adventure seeker. Their smaller size means there is a more intimate atmosphere for the travelers, which in turn means there will be more liberty with the schedules. Since they are small, they will rock more than larger boats or catamarans.
- Large cruise ships: The 30-100 passenger boats are the biggest passenger vessels that navigate the Galapagos Islands. They are single-hull, which means you will notice the rocking more; but since they are larger, it is not as amplified as in smaller boats. There are more facilities (gyms, Jacuzzis, etc.) on these boats. Itineraries are more concrete, and boarding and de-boarding can take more time as well. Large cruise ships are a good option for families and couples seeking a social experience.
What to expect from your Columbus Travel cruise
When you book your trip with Columbus Travel, you are booking one of the highest quality Galapagos cruises available.
Every cruise booked via Columbus includes a comfortable cabin, delicious meals, first-class service from a friendly staff, a National Park-qualified and bilingual naturalist guide, and complete transportation from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos and back, all aboard the best boat for your Galapagos adventure.
On top of the excellent service and experience onboard, we make sure that planning your trip is just as enjoyable. Building your dream vacation can be exciting, but if your travel company isn't helping, it can easily turn into a headache. That's what we're here for. Our programs are each hand-crafted and designed especially for you. While some companies might process your information through a centralized reservation system, we do it ourselves so that we can build your perfect trip.
We will coordinate the schedules, activities, transportation, and all logistical details so that YOU get the best value. Because of pricing contracts the boat owners have with travel agencies, we can almost always get you the best price for your boat.
Don't worry, this is what we do! If you book your trip through a North American or European travel agency, it will cost you thousands of dollars more, and you just won't get the same experience. We are based in Ecuador, and Galapagos tours and extensions are what we do, exclusively.
If you're lucky (or smart) enough to make the Galapagos Islands your next vacation destination, then we are here to make sure that this once-in-a-lifetime experience is nothing short of amazing.
Article writen by Brian Bayer January 2016.