The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km from the South American coast. The Galapagos Islands “straddle the equator” making them a sun-lovers and a nature lover’s paradise. The Galapagos islands, an archipelago, consists of 13 large volcanic islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 islets and rocks with a total land area of about 8,000 square kilometers. There’s no better way to explore these gorgeous and unique islands than on Galapagos Islands cruise vacations. Read on to find out about the Galapagos Islands and the many Galapagos cruise offerings available.
More about the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are volcanic in origin and several volcanoes in the west of the archipelago are still very active. Espanola, the oldest Galapagos Island, is believed to have formed between 5-10 million years ago. The youngest Galapagos islands, Fernandina and Isabella, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in 2005.
Galapagos is a province of the Republic of Ecuador. Five of the islands are inhabited, with a total population of approximately 18,000 people. The capital, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, is on San Cristobal Island. The largest town is Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.
The Galapagos Islands exotic and unusual plant and wildlife are the major attractions for Galapagos cruises. The many different species inhabiting the islands, some endangered, others gentle or fearless, include: the giant tortoise (which has evolved into 14 distinct forms), the marine iguana, land iguanas, lava lizards, geckos and snakes. Other creatures include: rice rats, two species of bat, 13 species of small, brownish finches called Darwin’s finches and land birds including a hawk, dove, flycatcher, rail and four species of mockingbird. These species are only found in Galapagos.
The flightless cormorant, two species of gull, and the only penguin species that lives in tropical waters are among the endemic sea birds. The waved albatross is exclusive to Espanola Island, while colonies of blue-footed, red-footed, and masked boobies can be found alongside frigate birds.
Sea lions and fur seals can be found frolicking around the coasts, while dolphins, whales and sea turtles are very common. Well over 300 species of fish call the Galapagos ocean waters home and there are at least 1,600 species of insects, 80 spiders, 300 beetles, 150 mites, 80 land snails, 650 seashells and other mollusks, 200 starfishes and urchins, 120 crabs, and wide variety of other smaller animals.
The different types of plant life in the Galapagos Islands are virtually endless. A good example of this: Galapagos has its very own, endemic species of cotton, tomato, pepper, guava and passionflower.
Galapagos Island Cruise Vacations
Whether you’re exploring from a catamaran, sailing on a yacht or snapping pictures from the deck of a larger cruise ship, a Galapagos Islands cruise vacation is the best way to experience all that these amazing volcanic islands have to offer. For the passenger that prefers an intimate environment and a more personal cruise experience, yachts and charter tours are the perfect choice.
Private Galapagos cruise yachts typically accommodate no more than 16 passengers and there are several types to choose from including: luxury, first class, tourist superior, tourist class and budget/economy class. Private Galapagos cruise yachts are comfortable and air-conditioned and generally feature social areas such as a dining room, living room and deck as well as cozy cabins and private facilities. The advantage of taking a yacht over a larger cruise ship is smaller ships can reach many places the larger ships can’t so there are more opportunities to get up close and personal with the wildlife and nature. A disadvantage is, most yacht cruises are shorter than larger cruise ships.
Wildlife tours and nature cruises to the Galapagos Islands aboard larger expedition ships are a great experience for passengers interested in convenience, security and social activities. This type of Galapagos cruise is perfect for families, large groups, seniors and other passengers seeking a higher level of comfort and a variety of on-board activities.
Expedition cruises may accommodate 100 or more passengers and they typically feature 1 guide for every 16-20 passengers. Passengers have several cruise length options to choose from including 3, 4 or 7 nights. Accommodations and amenities are comparable to most larger cruise lines and may include: comfortable suites with ocean views, boutique, library, karaoke bar, conference room, restaurant, swimming pool, solarium, observatory deck, 24-hour coffee and tea station, medical assistance, massage suite, satellite communication.
All Galapagos cruises feature scientific information about the islands and expert naturalist guides.
Booking Galapagos Islands Cruise Vacations
If you would like to book a Galapagos cruise a great place to start is by visiting the popular Galapagos cruise website: www.galapagoscruise.com.ec. Here you can browse through the many different vessels and cruises available as well as inquire about pricing and availability.
Below is general pricing and reservations information from Galapagos Cruises.
Pricing and Reservations
All meals on board (breakfast B, lunch L, dinner D), Galapagos cruise, Guided excursions, Briefings and lectures, Bottled water on cruise ship, airport to dock transfers in the Galapagos islands.
Price Does Not Include:
Use of snorkeling equipment, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, gratuities, personal expenses. Local Roundtrip airfare: Quito / Galapagos / Quito $393, Guayaquil / Galapagos / Guayaquil $366, Galapagos park tax $100, Ecuador international departure tax $32, hotel nights in Quito or Guayaquil, airport transfers in mainland Ecuador, Airfare to Ecuador is extra.
Pricing: U.S. Dollars
Departures: Every Thursday and Monday all year round.
Meeting and departing: Quito or Guayaquil. You must plan to arrive at least 1 day before cruise and will have to depart at least 1 day after, airline connections do not allow for direct international flight connections to the Galapagos islands.
Toll free: 1-800-747-0567
Email: [email protected]