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Advice about Galapagos cruises

Philadelphia...
Level Contributor
77 posts
14 reviews
2 helpful votes
Advice about Galapagos cruises

My husband and I have air miles we need to use very soon. We would like to go to the Galapagos in October. I have not yet had time to start researching (we literally just decided this), and I know I will get some good advice here as a starting place. A couple of questions:

1. Will we be able to snorkel in October (preferable without wetsuits)?

2. We are leaning toward taking a cruise (7-10 days). Does anyone have a cruiseline they love? We don't have a preference for size of the boat. However, we are seniors, so we are not looking for trips that cater to families.

I hesitate to include a budget, since I have no idea what to expect, price-wise. At this stage of exploration, I am more interested in getting vetted recommendations than I am in the finances part. I briefly started to look at cruises online, but the companies all want me to contact them for a quote. I don't want to be added onto a lot of mailing lists if I am not serious about the tour companies.

Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.

20 replies to this topic
United States
Level Contributor
620 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

You can snorkel year round!

I personally loved Natural paradise, feel free to dm me if you want to chat more

La Grange, Texas
Level Contributor
6,516 posts
194 reviews
103 helpful votes
2. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

We just got back in May. We ultimately did a trip thru a company that included a trip to Machu Picchu, but I can tell you a few points I found.

Cruise ships come in a few sizes. Small (16 pax), Med 17-50+), Large (100+) The name brand companies tend towards larger ships. Since there is a 16:1 pax:guide limit, and there are only a set number of people allowed on the islands at one time, we decided small ships were better. It also just takes so much longer to get larger groups around, on/off the ship, etc.

Look and see what animals/sea life are prominent on which islands at that time of year. That may make a difference on which itinerary you prefer. They tend to do 7 nights east vs west, but there are some that do longer and cover more.

You can go luxury, mid-range, or cheap I guess. We were on the Tip Top II, which does its own bookings, as well as group tours. It was not luxury, but spotlessly clean, the staff were great, and the food fantastic. I'd call it solidly mid-level. I'd not hesitate to use them again. Some of the luxury ships cost 2-3x as much and did about the same itinerary as we did. One followed us almost the whole week we were there. I can't see how they had a 2-3X better trip.

Here is my trip report:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294310-i6637-k14384196-Trip_Report_Tip_Top_II_April_2023-Galapagos_Islands.html

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
15,434 posts
126 reviews
137 helpful votes
3. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

There are a number of TRs in the Top Questions on the right (not visible on phones). The cruise-oriented ones are labeled "boat reviews."

You might consult with an agent who is a Galapagos specialist, as opposed to a general travel agent. There are several recommended on the forum. I've used CNH Tours and can recommend them.

New York City, New...
1 post
2 reviews
1 helpful vote
4. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

Hi .. I’m thinking about going on Natural Paradise 8 day B route..would like to hear your thoughts on the ship

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Quito, Ecuador
Level Contributor
15,434 posts
126 reviews
137 helpful votes
5. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

Nat Sha, there are two reviews in the above- mentioned TQs.

Berkhamsted, United...
Level Contributor
2,022 posts
187 reviews
156 helpful votes
6. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

We just came off itinerary 8B on Natural Paradise this week - it's a great itinerary which includes both western and eastern islands. It's active - we typically had 3, sometimes 4, activities a day. We were glad we spent time on the islands both before and especially after the cruise for a slower pace. There were hardly any other boats at each stop.

The boat is very comfortable, with a helpful crew and great food. Our cruise attracted a multinational clientele with 5 groups from 5 different countries and a wide range of ages. We occasionally saw other groups where all the guests were from the USA, often elderly. We enjoyed engaging with others from different countries.

There are some long overnight sailings. In July, some of them were a bit rough but should be better later in the year. But they didn't distract from the overall experience which I would definitely recommend.

Neptune Beach...
Level Contributor
4,905 posts
118 reviews
150 helpful votes
7. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

I took a Road Scholar cruise. Those tours are for adults only unless specified otherwise. It was a good cruise and I can recommend it. We were on a small boat for 16 passengers.

La Grange, Texas
Level Contributor
6,516 posts
194 reviews
103 helpful votes
8. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

Road Scholar is a tour company. They contract with Rolf Whitmer cruises, which uses the Tip Top II, and Tip Top 5 for the tours. You can also do the cruise directly with the cruise company.

FWIW, we did the RS tour/cruise in May and it was amazing. Love RS, but the service and staff on the boat were great on their own and I'd not hesitate to use them.

Herndon, Virginia
Level Contributor
335 posts
57 reviews
32 helpful votes
9. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

We went on the Endemic in May 2022 and it was amazing. Large rooms, great food - 16 people. Great spaces around the ship to hang out in between excursions; crew was amazing:

https://www.goldengalapagoscruises.com/endemic-luxury-yacht/

United States
Level Contributor
620 posts
2 reviews
10. Re: Advice about Galapagos cruises

I did natural paradise 8a and 8B back to back and am happy to answer any questions.

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