|Travel Ecuador : Galapagos Islands :|
A Galapagos Islands cruise is one of the best ways to see the land and marine life that the islands support. Galapagos Islands cruises are not cheap, but there are a variety of options for different budget levels. The possibilities are to go on luxury, first class, tourist superior, tourist or economy boats. Luxury cruises are very expensive, and by comparison, economy trips are very cheap. Costs are increased in the high seasons, and especially over Christmas and New Year.
Galapagos Cruise highlights
Galapagos Islands cruises afford the traveler opportunities for many highlights. Often these highlights will include snorkeling with sea lions, observing giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz island, taking a trip to the Charles Darwin Research Station, watching birds such as penguins dive for fish at close hand and seeing graceful sea turtles or dolphins swimming by the ship. Other highlights, depending on the time of year might include observing the blue footed boobies dancing, watching the giant albatross take flight and observing the color changes in marine iguanas as they try to attract a mate.
Galapagos Cruise standards
The level of comfort of your Galapagos cruise directly relates to the amount of money that you pay for your cruise. Luxury cruises are just that, while economy boats can be cramped, at best. Boats have naturalist guides on board. If you are on a large boat, you will find that there are a number of guides, so that each guide is only with a small-ish group. The quality of guide and the amount of information that guide knows about the life on the islands will be related to the quality of your cruise.
Galapagos Cruise lengths
Cruise lengths are normally four, five, eight or ten days. The four day trip normally takes in the northern islands close to Santa Cruz, including Rabida and Bartolome. A five day Galapagos Islands cruise usually heads to the southern islands, including Floreana and Espanola. The longer trips may either include both the northern and southern islands, or a trip to Isabella to the west, or both.
Galapagos Islands cruises stop at a number of different visitor sites. Boats never make it all the way to shore, and you will be transported from your cruise boat to land by means of a dinghy in most cases. There are wet landings and dry landings, and it is useful to have water sandals for the wet ones.
Galapagos cruise schedules
Most Galapagos Islands cruises run year-round. The daily schedule is usually fairly busy, starting early in the morning with trips and walks on the islands often taking place before breakfast. Cruise trips often have at least two island walks per day to observe the different wildlife on the islands. Most days you will have an opportunity to snorkel once a day, either from the boat, or off a beach.
Galapagos Islands cruise costs
Cruises almost always include the costs of being on the boat itself—namely the accommodation and food. You will normally have to pay extra for drinks that you consume. Additional costs that are not normally included in your Galapagos Islands cruise are the cost of your plane ticket from Quito or Guayaquil to the islands, the price of which varies according to the season, and the cost of entry to the Galapagos National Park.
Galapagos Islands diving
Many sources of information will inform you that it is possible to dive from the Galapagos cruise boats. Unfortunately, this is now illegal unless you are on a boat that is a designated dive boat. Alternatively, you can take day trips to scuba dive from one of the islands.