With little doubt your trip to the Galápagos Islands is a dream vacation. You may have been saving money to do it or just waiting for the right time. Either way here are
six different things to consider before you go take a cruise in the Galápagos Islands.
1. Reputable boat: Look into the history of your boat after your agent gives you the options. Enforcement of regulations is lax or underfunded. Some boats may be hazardous while most are likely seaworthy but may have poor service. When you are offered a tour, get the name of the boat and look it up on TripAdvisor or any other reputable travel forum.
2. Reputable guide: Guides are notoriously bad in the Galápagos Islands. Sorry but it’s true. Their lack of knowledge can be baffling but they all work for the park service and are required on each boat. They are on a rotation that is run by the booking agencies. Individual boat owners provide only logistics for their boats. If you want a specific guide you must book no less than ten months in advance and generally that requires booking the entire boat. Good guide or bad, you will have an amazing trip no matter what, just manage your expectations. If you want to learn a ton while you are there, either come prepared with your reading or take the chance that your guide bought his or her credential.
3. Research your itinerary. What are you most interested in seeing? For example, if it’s nesting albatross you want to go to Española in April/May for mating dances and thereafter until December for nesting and raising of the young. In the north its November to January for the Red-footed booby, Blue-footed booby, and Nazca booby nesting at Genovesa. Or maybe you just want to be sure to swim with sea lions or interact face to face with sea lion pups (video).
4. Checklist. Bring anything you think you will need such as sunblock, etc and anything that will make you most comfortable, especially on north island itineraries. There are few opportunities to stop by stores in the south islands and the remote north there is nothing.
5. Consider boat size and accommodations. You will have several options for types of boats. Sailboats usually have 7 small rooms with a small double bed and a smaller bunk above. Catamarans have larger rooms but often more passengers. Just a heads up that you might want to pay attention too. Though on my last cruise, the room I got was not the room I was shown in the photo, which was fine, but nonetheless deceiving. Again, manage your expectations. Smaller boats are also more intimate and private!
6. Do some land based travel. Plan on a few days on your own after your tour if you have the time. With little doubt in my mind you will not be done with the Galápagos Islands at the end of your tour. Either route you take, you will likely want to do more exploring. See my tips for Galápagos Islands land based tours.
Much more Galápagos Islands travel coming here soon! Link to those posts.
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover …” -Mark Twain