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The Galapagos Islands are world-renowned for their unrivaled beauty and untouched nature and environment. These islands are also well-known for being incredibly biodiverse, with many endemic species only found on the islands.

With the fantastic sights, the beautiful wildlife, and the bustling seascapes, it’s easy to see why so many put these islands on their travel bucket lists.

If you’re finally planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, you might be wondering what the best way to travel through the islands might be. You can consider taking a cruise or an arranged tour, which often features many of the islands’ best attractions. If you’re a wanderluster and looking to save money, you can also visit the Galapagos on a budget.

Joining a tour or cruise will allow you to explore the islands, enjoy activities, see wildlife, and enjoy the beauty of nature all around you. 

However, it’s crucial to find a cruise that suits your needs and fits your budget so you can have a truly unforgettable experience.

Unforgettable Galapagos Cruises You May Want to Try

There are many benefits to taking a cruise rather than planning your own vacation. A cruise often takes care of everything you need, from the meals to the accommodation. And, of course, a detailed itinerary also comes with the package — alongside transportation to every destination.

The cruises and tours on this list include some of the best on offer. These tours will allow you to experience the best of what the Galapagos has in store without all the stress of planning and coordinating logistics yourself, so all you have to do is relax and enjoy the ride. 

The Best Galapagos Cruises and Tours

1. G Adventures Complete Galapagos

Duration: 17 days

Ship: Yolita

Max Passengers: 16

Average Passengers: 12

Meals and Drinks on Board: All included (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Accommodations: 8 twin-share cabins, side-by-side twin beds, or one queen bed; cabins have A/C, en suite, and large windows

Yolita Galapagos small cruise ship

G Adventures was established in 1990 and had since been offering unique tours that focus on building significant relationships with local communities. One of their main goals is to benefit any places directly, and people visited along the way. They work with non-profit organizations to help the Earth, and make an effort to conserve and preserve the world as we know it.

The G Adventures Complete Galapagos cruise starts and ends in Quito. It accommodates everyone aged 12 to 99 and uses English as its primary language to make it easier for most to communicate (an adult guardian must accompany minors). Passengers will have two nights in a hotel and 14 nights aboard the Yolita, an 8-cabin vessel. 

The Yolita, staffed by seven dedicated crew members and a certified CEO (chief experience officer) Naturalist Guide, boasts many amenities. A large aft porch makes for a great place to relax. Meals are served in Yolita’s elegant dining room/lounge/bar. An observation deck is available for sightseeing on board.

This cruise is marine-focused, although there are many excursions on land to see beaches, dramatic volcanic formations and features, animals, sightseeing, and more. Passengers also get to enjoy snorkeling among local sea life.

Locations Visited: 

  • Quito
  • Genovesa Island
  • Bartolome Island & Sullivan Bay
  • Isabela Island
  • Elizabeth Bay & Urbina Bay
  • Tagus Cove & Punta Espinoza
  • Rabida Island & Santiago Island
  • Islas Daphne & North Seymour
  • Cerro Brujo & Kicker Rock
  • Bahia Gardner & Punta Suarez
  • Santa Fe Island & South Plaza
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Punta Cormorant & Floreana Island
  • Chinese Hat & Cerro Dragon
  • Black Turtle Cove

Animals You May See: 

  • Flamingos
  • Red/Blue-footed boobies
  • Penguins
  • Various birds and seabirds
  • Sally Lightfoot crabs
  • Giant tortoises
  • Marine iguanas
  • Sea Lions
  • Small sharks, rays, tropical fish

2. G Adventures East, West, and Central Islands

Duration: 10 days

Ship: Eden

Max Passengers: 16

Average Passengers: 12

Meals and Drinks on Board: All included (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Accommodations:

  • Upper Deck: 3 twin-share cabins (bunks)
  • Main Deck: 1 double bed cabin
  • Lower Deck: 4 twin-share cabins (lower berths)
G Adventures Eden small cruise ship to Galapagos

G Adventures offers another cruise aboard the Eden, this time going through the East, Central, and West Islands of the Galapagos. The Eden is staffed by eight dedicated crew plus one certified CEO Naturalist Guide.

This cruise uses English as its primary language, and anyone from 12 years old can join the fun. However, minors must be accompanied by an adult guardian.

Onboard the Eden, you can expect a large lounge on the upper deck with a forward sun deck. On the main deck, passengers can find a dining room, a bar, and a lounge. People who want to enjoy the views can use the two-level deck that wraps around the vessel.

During this cruise, passengers can expect plenty of sightseeing and wildlife viewing opportunities. During some days, passengers are given free time to explore islands and towns. The tours also include opportunities to hike, snorkel, visit an endemic forest of giant cactus, and more.

Locations Visited: 

  • Quito
  • San Cristobal Island
  • Santa Fe Island & South Plaza
  • Puerto Ayora
  • Isabela Island
  • Tagus Cove & Fernandina Island
  • Puerto Egas & Rabida Island
  • Santa Cruz

Animals You May See: 

  • Sea lions
  • Marine iguanas
  • Giant tortoises
  • Birds
  • Flamingos
  • Penguins
  • Sea turtles
  • Tropical fish

3. Contiki Galapagos Island Hopper

Duration: 6 days land-based

For ages: 18-35

Max Passengers: 25

Meals and Drinks: 5 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Accommodations: 5 nights in various hotels (Gran Tortuga, Hotel Red Booby, Casa De Nelly)

blue-footed boobie standing on rock

Contiki is a name many have likely heard about before. It’s a brand that has been around for quite some time. No doubt, travelers have enjoyed their tours all over the globe. Contiki makes traveling easier with their extremely well-organized cruises and tours. They sort out the stressful parts of planning trips while also doing their best to create Earth-friendly and sustainable travel itineraries for unforgettable and meaningful experiences.

Unlike many cruises on this list, the Contiki Galapagos Island Hopper focuses more on land accommodations and boat trips between islands. There are plenty of activities planned through the 6-day trip, where 5 places are on the itinerary.

Travelers visit lava tunnels, the Galapagos National Park, Tortuga Bay, Kicker Rock, and the Charles Darwin Research Station. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore during free time. Those who join can also enjoy activities like snorkeling, wildlife kayaking, island biking (additional fees), paddleboarding (additional fees), hiking, and more. 

The difference with Contiki is they limit the ages of travelers from 18 to 35, so if you aren’t within this age bracket, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Locations Visited: 

  • Quito
  • Santa Cruz Island
  • Isabela Island
  • San Cristobal Island
  • Guayaquil

Animals You May See: 

  • Giant tortoises
  • Sea lions
  • Green sea turtles
  • Sharks
  • Rays
  • Great blue herons
  • Blue-footed boobies
  • Marine iguanas

4. Celebrity Cruises Southern Loop Itinerary

Duration: 7 nights

Ship: Xploration

Max Passengers: 16

Meals and Drinks on Board: 

  • Meals
  • Coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, bottled water
  • Beer, wine, spirits

Accommodations: junior suites and ocean-view staterooms

Celebrity Xploration best small Galapagos cruise ship

Celebrity is a company that offers top-notch luxury cruises for those looking to visit the Galapagos Islands. Awarded 2020’s Best Cruise Line by the LA Travel Magazine (Reader’s Choice Awards), Celebrity aims to provide unrivaled service aboard their many luxurious mid-size ships. Every cruise aboard a Celebrity vessel offers wellness options, culinary adventures, onboard activities, and more.

During this cruise, passengers can enjoy and explore the many ports of call. Travelers also get to enjoy wildlife sightings, hikes, snorkeling, zodiac rides, swimming, and more.

The Celebrity Xploration features an open-air sun deck with a hot tub for relaxation. Those who prefer to stay in can do so in the lounge, and al fresco dining is also offered.

Locations Visited: 

  • Baltra Island
  • Mosquera Islet
  • Dragon Hill – Santa Cruz Island
  • Rabida Island
  • Puerto Villamil & Wall of Tears Isabela Island
  • Post Office Bay & Cormorant Point – Floreana Island
  • Cerro Brujo, Kicker Rock, Los Lobos – San Cristobal Island
  • Puerto Ayora – Santa Cruz Island
  • Punta Suarez
  • Gardner Bay
  • Daphne Major

Animals You May See: 

  • Sea lions
  • Lava gulls
  • Coastal birds
  • Sally Lightfoot crabs
  • Land iguanas
  • Flamingos
  • Pelicans
  • Blue-footed boobies
  • Frigatebirds
  • Waved albatross
  • Giant tortoises
  • Sea turtles

5. Metropolitan Touring Eastern Islands

Duration: 7 days

Ship: Santa Cruz II

Max Passengers: 90

Meals and Drinks on Board: All meals on board, coffee, tea

Accommodations: 50 cabins — 36 interconnectable for flexibility. 43 Explorer, 2 Explorer Family, and 2 Voyager (solo traveler) cabins. 3 Darwin Suites

Metropolitan Touring large Galapagos cruise ship

Metropolitan Touring is dedicated to serving luxury and premium experiences travelers won’t forget. They’ve won South America’s Leading Tour Operator two years in a row, 2018 and 2019. Metropolitan Touring also dedicates itself to sustainable travel. Their entire operation is carbon neutral to lessen their impact on the environment as much as possible.

Passengers board the Santa Cruz II, a vessel with plenty of amenities for travelers’ comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment, such as a sky deck with a solarium and a fitness room for the health-conscious. The panorama bar and lounge make for a great place to kick back. If you want to enjoy the sights outside, you can hang out on the outdoor terrace.

Here are a few other things on board:

  • Evolution hall
  • Expedition veranda, lounge, library
  • Discovery room
  • Hot tub
  • Gift shop
  • Beagle restaurant

It’s worth noting that the Santa Cruz II has an infirmary on board should any passengers ever feel unwell.

During this cruise, travelers get plenty of opportunities to explore the various islands and towns included in the itinerary. There are also multiple activities to try, such as swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. Those who aren’t fans of snorkeling can opt for the glass bottom boat instead.

Locations Visited: 

  • Mosquera
  • Puerto Baquerizo Moreno & Punta Pitt – San Cristobal Island
  • Santa Fe Island
  • South Plaza Island
  • Puerto Ayora & Charles Darwin Research Station – Santa Cruz Island
  • Punta Suarez – Espanola Island
  • Gardner Bay, Osborn Islet – Espanola Island
  • Eden Islet – Santa Cruz Island
  • North Seymour Island

Animals You May See: 

  • Sea lions
  • Giant tortoises
  • San Cristobal mockingbird
  • San Cristobal lava lizard
  • Endemic land iguana
  • White frigates
  • Swallow-tailed gulls
  • Galapagos albatross
  • Nazca boobies
  • Blue-footed boobies
  • Marine iguanas

6. Monserrat Galapagos Cruise – Itinerary A

Duration: 5 days

Ship: Monserrat

Max Passengers: 20

Meals and Drinks on Board: 4 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners

Accommodations: 3 double bed cabins and 7 twin cabins, all with ensuite (hairdryer and toiletries included) and A/C

Monserrat Galapagos small cruise ship

Monserrat offers a few options when it comes to your Galapagos cruise, each varying in duration and itinerary. Each cruise happens aboard the Monserrat, a vessel built in 2005 and refurbished to modern amenities in 2018. The Monserrat offers safety, comfort, and relaxation throughout every cruise. The company focuses on providing personalized service with great attention to detail to create the perfect setting — all so you can have an unforgettable experience.

Aboard the Monserrat, you can find a sun deck (shaded and unshaded), a sun area, a lounge, kitchen, dining hall, and bar.

Locations Visited: 

  • Bachas Beach – Santa Cruz Island
  • Tagus Cove & Urbina Bay – Isabela Island
  • Espinoza Point – Fernandina Island
  • Vicente Roca Point – Isabela Island
  • Puerto Egas, Playa Espumilla, Buccaneer Cove- Santiago Island
  • North Seymour Island

Animals You May See:

  • Galapagos albatross
  • Sea lions
  • marine iguanas
  • land iguanas
  • Galapagos hawks
  • Flamingos
  • Red/Blue-footed boobies
  • Frigatebirds

7. Silversea San Cristóbal to San Cristóbal

Duration: 7 Days

Ship: Silver Origin

Max Passengers: 100

Meals and Drinks on Board: Open seat dining, choice of restaurants. Main dining, snacks, buffet meals, beer, wine, and spirits. Coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, and bottled water

Accommodations: Grand Suite, Royal Suite, Silver Suite, Medallion Suite, Deluxe Veranda Suite, Superior Veranda Suite, Classic Veranda Suite – Butler service in all suites

Silver Origin observation deck with Kicker Rock, Galapagos luxury cruise

If you’re looking for a premium, luxury experience, look no further than the Silversea San Cristobal to San Cristobal cruise. This cruise takes place aboard the Silver Origin, a cruise built to carry 100 passengers and a crew of 90. Everything aboard this ship screams luxury, from the spacious suites with gorgeous natural lighting to the fantastic views from the balconies. Not to mention, each suite also comes with butler service.

On the Silver Origin, guests will always feel the exceptional personalized service, thanks to the fact that there are 90 crew members — nearly 1 for each passenger. There’s also a beauty salon, a beauty spa, a fitness center, basecamp, and the explorer lounge.

During this cruise, passengers can expect amazing sights and exciting activities, including hiking, snorkeling, deep water snorkeling, and kayaking. Guided Zodiac cruises also come with the package.

Locations Visited: 

  • San Cristobal
  • Prince Philips Step’s, Genovesa
  • Darwin Bay, Genovesa
  • North Seymour
  • Sullivan Bay, Santiago
  • Punta Mangle, Fernandina
  • Punta Moreno, Isabela
  • Santa Cruz, Highlands
  • Isla Santa Fe
  • Gardner Bay & Punta Suarez, Espanola
  • Rodriguez Breeding Center, San Cristobal
  • Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal

Animals You May See:

  • Sea lions
  • Nazca boobies
  • Blue-footed boobies
  • Marine iguanas
  • Frigatebirds
  • Sea turtles
  • Flightless cormorants
  • Galapagos penguins

What’s the Best Cruise Ship for the Galapagos?

Though travelers have different preferences and tastes in travel styles, the most crucial factor to consider when booking a Galapagos cruise is the ship’s size and capacity.

The reason being is the bigger ships with 50 to 100 passengers are not as personable. These bigger ships are more luxurious, but they lack the intimate family feeling you get with a ship that only carries 16 passengers. For many travelers, making new friends is a requirement, and it’s harder to do on a bigger ship that is like a hotel. Small ships to the Galapagos provide that homely or comfy feeling. To each their own.

Final Thoughts: Book What Interests You Most

When it comes to choosing the best Galapagos cruise for you, it all comes down to your personal preferences. It entirely depends on which islands you want to visit and what wildlife you’d like to have a chance to see.

Given how uniquely biodiverse the Galapagos Islands are, you’ll be in for a treat no matter which cruise you go on — it’s all just a matter of which one you prefer most.

Activities may also vary from tour to tour, so choose an option that has the best possible combination that suits your tastes. You can also consider a few other factors, such as the length of the cruise or its cost per head. Another big thing to look at is the inclusions, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

As always — avoid touching or stepping on coral as this can threaten the delicate undersea biomes. Take nothing with you that belongs on the island, and leave nothing behind to help preserve the environment.