This Galapagos cruise has been a really interesting trip because it is actually my first tour group. I have taken day tours before but never with a group for a week.
I just haven’t been able to put down that much money on one trip before. There is so much risk if you don’t like the tour company.
The Moon Guide to Ecuador
A Galapagos cruise isn’t cheap.
It’s why it is a bucket list trip. But people do try to save money. You can buy trips in Ecuador or you can fly to the Galapagos and negotiate one here.
From what I’ve read the discounts you will receive are on the poorer quality tours so you kind of get what you pay for but no matter what you choose you need to get to the Galapagos.
This cruise has been incredible and I was lucky enough to be with a group of very well traveled people from around the world.
My cruisemates knew that I was a guest of Exodus and so they were really open with me about what they thought and people really struggled with negative aspects.
Everyone was so happy we were on a real ship with character instead of a catamaran but in the end it is really all about the crew.
Our guide Juan has worked for over 25 years on the Galapagos and the rest of the crew on the Cachelote were so wonderful, when they saw dolphins they all rounded us up to make sure we saw them.
Though they spoke little English if there was something to see they made sure we all had the opportunity.
For one glorious week I didn’t have to think about anything. Not where I should go or what I should eat or how I would get from point A to B.
Yes you can absolutely do it independently but I don’t know if you would experience the same kind of magic we did.
Each day I would proclaim it was the best and could not fathom how the next day would be better and then we would go to yet another island where the geography and the animals were completely different.
This was an absolutely magical week.
It was on my list before, but I’ve got to get serious. You’ve shots have inspired me!
You know the photos really don’t do it justice. It is really amazing here.
What beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing these. The Galapagos and Ecuador are officially moving up on my travel list.
Definitely on my “one day I will go to there” list, right along South Africa and Japan. I think it’s probably worth it just for the sheer proximity with the wildlife, no?
I cannot even begin to express how amazing the wildlife is, animals are all around you and not afraid of you. It is really incredible.
Wow! Great photos. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the kind words, it’s a really special place.
I can just read it in your writing and see it in your photos how moving the experience has been for you. It makes me REALLY want to go there now. Just curious, what were some of the negative aspects that people were going through? Or you would rather not bring those up?
No JR you know I have no issues talking about the drawbacks of things, and that was actually the problem, no one had anything bad to say. I kept pushing and one of the people on the tour said when they first arrived in Quito there was a rain storm with roads washing out so the company driver was 5 minutes late but that’s the only thing.
I will have some interesting things to share about the Galapagos outside this trip as I am staying here a month afterwards – but wait that’s an upcoming post 🙂
Definitely on my bucket list, too! Looks truly amazing.
I didn’t come here the first time around in Ecuador for budget reasons and I think you either need to splurge or wait. There is a reason it’s a bucket list item.
Love the photos! It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, and these pictures make me want to get there sooner than later.
It is one of the few places on earth that lives up to the hype.
The Galapagos are so magical. I regret having only been for three days actually. It was for budget reasons, but with hindsight I should have stayed at least a week to discover all of the different islands.
You know my biggest takeaway from this trip was that the Galapagos isn’t a place to try to spend money. This is not a cheap trip but the experience is incredible and you see so much. I have had a few people email me over the last few days on how to do Galapagos on a budget but I think it is a mistake. There is a place in mainland Ecuador called Poor Mans Galapagos that I am hoping to go see. It may my recommendation if people cannot afford this. I think it may be better just to wait and go when you aren’t traveling on a strict budget.
I agree that any group tour is only as good as the guide.
I have been so lucky so far. Especially for such an expensive cruise like this you don’t want a bad guide.
Great photos. The wildlife there really is fantastic! I booked my cruise from the Galapagos and saved a lot of money. I actually liked the intimacy of a little catamaran and my group turned out to be great too. I expected a much older crowd and a lot of honeymooners, but we ended up being a group of 5 young ladies. I would definitely recommend doing a cruise rather than visiting islands individually. You get to more remote spots and as you say, it’s great to not have to think about planning anything for a week.
I was definitely one of the youngest but I think it depends on what cruise you purchase. But agree a cruise is the way to go, you pay more but it is really worth it.
Incredible photos! Makes me feel like I’m there with you 🙂
It is only a fraction of what I experienced. This is really an incredible place.
The Galapagos is a great place to experience a group tour for the first time. There is so many ‘wow’ moments where you just want to turn to the person beside you and point out the cool thing you just spotted. Great to hear that you enjoyed it!
Absolutely, it was really nice to have a group of people that I could talk to at the end of the day – about how we couldn´t believe just how much we saw.
I’ve never done a multi-day group tour either, but the Galapagos don’t seem like a bad place to give it a try. Like many others, it’ll have to remain on my “one day” list, when money isn’t an issue. Thankfully there’s no shortage of cheaper places to see on this lovely Earth of ours 😉
I had always been hesitant of a group tour but it really opened my mind that it could be a good option for places I don´t want to explore on my own.
Spectacular! I LOVE animals and this place has been on my list for a while now. It’s not a question of if, but when 🙂
Gorgeous photos, Ayngelina! I especially love the close-up of the sitting bird. I love all birds so I guess the Galapagos is now on my bucket list. I had no idea there were so many varieties there. And I totally agree that there are times to seek a bargain and other times to invest in the experience. Once you’ve spent a bundle getting there, it only makes sense to spend a few more dollars on a smaller tour group and more knowledgeable guide. Loved this post!
It was an albatross and I had no idea it was so elegant, usually you only hear superstitious references to albatrosses.
And glad to hear you agree about money. I think people who choose cheap tours probably don’t get the same kind of experience, or service.
What an incredible trip. I’m rarely a fan of organised tours as I find they tend to be over commercialised and full of arrogant tourist. But when a tour comes along that is amazing like this, coupled with an awesome group of people. Winning
I usually hate them too but the odd thing is that the more I travel the more I seem to like them.
Maybe I’m becoming less of a travel snob?
It’s so true! After so many places and countries later, the GI are still one of my favorite places! I don’t do tours often either, but if you get a great group and guide…it just makes it all the better. Love the crab photo!
I doubt I will see something as special as this place in many other place around the world.
Looks like an incredible part of the world complimented more so by cute looking animals. I find that not knowing what’s going on is such a gift. Just to be there and totally present. Thanks for sharing I’d love to go there sometime!
You should definitely go, it is worth every penny.
I want to go aswel… Soo jealous. Your pictures look absolutely incredible!
You would love it, one of the few things in life that lives up to the hype.
Discounts can definitely be found for first-class cruises. I actually saved $2200 on mine by booking it when I got there (I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p3q2oR-6f). And I agree, cruising is THE way to go. I did do a day trip after my cruise and it was, frankly, underwhelming and disappointing, especially after spending 4 hours on a speedboat in a day. I did meet a couple of people who did only day trips during their stay in the Galapagos, and they saw nowhere NEAR as much as I did on the live-aboard boat. I love that you’re going to stay longer there! My advice is to avoid the day trips and go on another cruise to islands that you missed on the first one (you can try Moonrise Travel). Have fun! 🙂
It’s low season right now but I saw 4-5 day trips for as low was 500 and 7 day trips for under 1000. I think you need to be careful as if you don’t like a trip you really have no one to complain to, well they won’t care, whereas if you went with a tour operator you knew there is a sense of trust. But yes if you do some digging you can get great deals on amazing cruises. A 2200 discount is such a steal!
I would definitely suggest the 4-5 day cruise or a longer one, if possible. And you’re right. It’s a risk, but unfortunately not many people can afford tour operator prices. About the day trips: the one I did to Isabela Island had over 22 people (vs. the 14-16 people on my cruise), was so highly impersonal and it felt like cattle herding. The tour guides didn’t really seem that invested in giving good service (although, in fairness, it’s hard to do with such a big group). I also saw very little wildlife. And the 2-hour speedboat ride each way was really loud and unpleasant. So yes, cruise all the way! You can also ask to get on the boat to look at the cabins before you actually commit to it. Good luck!
Wow 22 people? I also had the luxury of time so I went over to Isabela on my own and stayed two nights in a hotel room for $15. I agree though that speed boat is tough to do both there and back in one day.
Yeah, it was a lot of people. A fellow traveller said she enjoyed the Isabela day trip so I booked it, but she did only day trips during her whole stay there and therefore (bless her) didn’t really know how much more amazing cruising is. I think you did the smart thing by doing Isabela independently!
I am DYING to get to the Galapagos but at the same time I don’t want to mess around with going on some discount cruise and being disappointed. I’m holding out for when I can afford the real deal — something like this!
Ahh Galapagos… I almost made it last year but was not able to…someday though… 🙂
Beautiful imagery – such rich colors and textures!
Gorgeous animal shots!! Tours can sometimes work out — this is a great example!
Luckiest seals EVER.
Ah-mazing! I love the pictures – the seal looks like it’s smiling, followed by the (really huge!) lizard. Looks like they’re enjoying the life! 🙂
Sea lions here are so adorable.
A group of my friends(16) are planning a trip to the Galapagos in January. I was wondering if anyone has an opinion about someone going who is not a swimmer. Does this type of trip require that you be in excellent condition? Looks like a lot a hiking, etc.
Who would not be a candidate for this kind of trip?
If you don’t swim you can definitely pass on the snorkeling opportunities and simply stay on the boat. I can’t speak for all tours but the Exodus tour was definitely light hiking and we had several seniors on the trip with us. You really need to have a frank discussion with the tour company as some are more adventurous than others but there are plenty of options for people who do not like to swim.
Ayngelina, I was considering going on the ‘learn to dive’ course. That is mostly diving with 1 or 2 days of land touring. What do you think of this?
What did you do all day when on the cruise? Curious as to whether there was alot of time where you had to fill the spaces between.
Is it better to go with someone or just as good alone?
And if you dont mind my asking, what package did you buy by what company (and how much?) Interested in what you consider budget and not budget. 🙂
Really interested in learning more, would love to hear from you. Thanks
As for diving I took the open water PADI course in Mexico, actually wrote about it here: https://www.baconismagic.ca/mexico/learning-how-to-scuba-dive/
As for the cruise, they are all so different. Mine was with Exodus and in the morning and afternoon we were on land and only spent meals and sleeping on the boat. Because the islands are so far apart you do need to take a cruise to see the farthest ones as the boat travels over night. I went on my own but if you keep reading you’ll see I had a great bunkmate and now we’re good friends so it was lots of fun. Also for budget you can spend as low as $2k or as high as $25k. If you are looking for the cheapest I’d suggest flying on your own to Puerto Ayora and negotiating for a cruise there, the only downside is that with an international company like Exodus or the others you have the reassurance of quality whereas once you buy on the ground it’s really up to the local supplier and sometimes you get what you pay for.
Oh! And I also wonder how long you were there on the cruise (8 days?)
Yes mine was 8 days!
Going next week to the Galapagos and I hope I get great photos like yours. Hoping to take video as well! I’ll try to post them all up and get my channel back up, love your blog, keep on traveling!!
if you are planning for a cruise trip then you should also consider about Halong Bay in Vietnam. there you can enjoy the beauty of nature and caves on cruise ride. you can also enjoy the several activities on cruise and also the tradition food of Vietnam. watch the cruise ride videos on youtube as Starlight Cruise you will really like them and plan to go Halong Bay in your next vacation.
W.O.W. So I’m going to start off by saying I LOVE your photos. The sea lions are so cutie cute cute – but your image of that fatty iguana is awesome! 🙂 We just got back from a trip to the Galapagos, too, and did a 4 day/5 night on a catamaran. It was pretty awesome, but not sure I’d be able to make it for too much longer. I think it was just the right amount of boat/sea/wildlife – not too little, not too much – and I was happy to get on land once again and savor the memories. 🙂 If you’re curious, you can check out how our boating adventure went here > http://wp.me/p3UGiL-1oi
PS – I forgot to mention this was our first “tour,” too! We’ve done a handful of hour long guided things, but we’re not big into group stuff. I think that’s why I liked the small boat, because we weren’t forced to hang with a cruise ship of people. Just a nice, manageable amount. 🙂 Haha. Gorgeous post, again!
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