If you are booked on the ship's dedicated flight into the islands, you will be fine, as they would be expecting all its guests to arrive on that flight and any issues arising will be compensated for. I always recommend you do so. If you book a different flight, and that one is late / cancelled etc... the ship will less likely to have all the other guests wait for who knows how long, as you try to make your way to the islands.
We wanted to arrive 3- 5 nights ahead of time to see the sights. Having been to Machu Picho, we know the altitude requires us to take a slower pace. Than thought we would arrive in the Galapagos ahead of time 1-2 days also to relax & do some hikes or snorkeling before the cruise starts. Any opinions on that game plan?
We want to go up to the cloud forest for a few days. We know from prior altitude experience that it's better to just take things at a slower pace.
for the trips I organize, we have folks spend a day in Quito after their international arrival. It provides for a bit of a buffer time in case things go wrong (lost luggage, missed connection). Then we go to Galapagos and get right on our little ship - folks are so keen to get going. It's after the cruise that we spend a couple of nights on land in Galapagos - some people choose to stay longer. A cruise can be pretty intense, lots of activity, and it's nice to have a bit of R&R, going at one's own pace, after the trip.
Thanks Heather for your helpful suggestions. In reading a number of TR, many people said they were exhausted after the cruise & just wanted to go home afterwards. I'm sure this is the senior crowd but we are part of this crowd. Airlines have been canceling many flights & I personally would rather be there a few days in Quito & in the Galapagos prior to a cruise so this does not happen to us. I would be stressing out if I arrived in Quito & had to leave directly for the Galapagos the next day. Even before covid, we had several international flights delayed which caused us to miss our connections.
You may have made your decisions already, but my (long) trip report from our December visit may be useful. We did 7N in the Quito area (Mindo, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa), 3N on Isabela, 4N on Santa Cruz, 4N on the La Pinta cruise. Hardest part was packing for cold and warm. Enjoy.
Your blog isn't available to view on TA
We enjoyed and became comfortable flying into Quito 2.5 days before the cruise: https://davidcrosstravels.com/2022/07/27/exploring-quito/ and then spent a day and half after the cruise relaxing in Quito after the cruise: https://davidcrosstravels.com/2022/08/03/modern-quito/
We spent the first part in the older part of the city and the second part in the modern part of the city.
It was a good balance and helped us enjoy the trip even more.