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Best Galapagos cruise lines

Island-hopping adventures and unforgettable encounters with wildlife are what this Ecuadorian archipelago is all about.

Updated

Galapagos Islands

Whether you watch turtles hatching, get lazy with the sea lions or take a dive around the reef, a cruise through the 13 islands of the Galapagos is one of the best ways to see as much as possible in a limited time frame.

While most cruise itineraries tend to be similar in the Galapagos, the amenities on board vary considerably, as do the quality of tours and shore excursions offered. Here’s what sets each cruise line apart.

Best cruises to the Galapagos

Best for an all-inclusive, stress-free trip: Celebrity

Absolutely everything you could imagine is included in the price of your cruise with Celebrity. Your freshly brewed coffee, post-scuba diving snacks, and award-winning shore excursions will all be paid for before you set sail, so you can simply sit back and enjoy the moment. They’ve even got your tips covered for you.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for the ultimate comfort: Silversea

Silverseas Cruises continues to be recognized as one of the world’s most luxurious liners. This year, they’re taking it up a notch with their newest ship to sail into the Galapagos, Silver Origin. Alongside the usual plush interior, outrageously comfortable beds, and lavish ensuites are private horizon balconies and the finest Ecuadorian cuisine to sail the high seas.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

How we picked the best cruises

While picking cruise liners, we prioritize itineraries that allow guests to spend as much time as possible on the islands, whether that be in the form of free time or with an experienced guide to lead the way.

We also make sure that the onboard amenities, hospitality and dining options were all in-line with the price point on offer. You’ll also find that each of these cruises has numerous eco-friendly policies and green facilities to lessen your impact on this unique corner of the world.

Of course, this isn’t only the opinion of our experienced team. Information is collected from current blogs, well-established travel websites and magazines, and from unbiased reviews. That way we can give you the honest information needed to make a well-rounded decision.

When is the best time to cruise to Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands experience two distinct seasons each year: the dry season and the wet season. Cruises are available year-round, and when you decide to sail away from this picturesque archipelago depends entirely on what you want to get out of your trip.

  • December to June, wet season. Ignoring the odd downpour or two, the wet season is arguably the best time to visit the Galapagos. Temperatures hover between 25°C and 30°C, sea conditions are calm and the iconic sea lions, tortoises, and whale sharks are at their most active.
  • July to November, dry season. Although weather conditions are less favorable during the dry season, with cooler temperatures and cloudy days, this is the time to see giant tortoises return to the highlands, penguins courting and plenty of adorable seal lion pups. Unfortunately, you are more likely to have a few rough days at sea.

Peak season is relatively sporadic throughout the year with school holidays and family vacations increasing boat numbers considerably during the summer vacation and Christmas break.

What are the must-do cruise excursions in Galapagos?

We’ll admit it, the Galapagos is all about the wildlife. There will be plenty of shore excursions to choose from that allow close encounters with whales, penguins, iguanas and more. Here are some we highly recommend:

  • Santa Cruz. Opt for a guided walk around the highlands and you’ll be in with a good chance at spotting a giant tortoise in its natural habitat — one of only two natural habitats in the world.
  • Champion Islets. If you’ve never donned a scuba tank before, this is the perfect time to do it. Once you’re comfortable in the water, you’ll be swimming with sea lions, hammerhead sharks and some of the most vibrant fish you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.
  • Española. One for the avid bird watchers out there, the island of Española is home to 45 bird species you won’t find anywhere else in the world, including the Waved Albatross. Remember to pack your binoculars!
  • Rábida. Hidden behind this island’s vibrant red sands is a lagoon that is home to a flamboyance of pink flamingos. Access is by foot only, so grab your boots and get going.
  • Isabela Island. If you’ve only got time for one hike on the Galapagos Islands, make it along the caldera of Sierra Negra Volcano, which rewards walkers with beautiful vistas and plenty of local wildlife.

Bottom line

We’re mindful that a cruise to the Galapagos is going to cost you — but it’s sure to be worth every penny. To find out where you can cut costs on your cruise, check out these latest cruise deals and discounts.

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