TRAVEL TIPS & EXTENSIONS

Choosing Between Small Yachts and Big Cruise Ships in Galapagos

AUTHOR Caroline Eaton

Your choice of touring vessel size will have a big impact on what type of trip you can expect while visiting the Galapagos. We are often asked what makes our small yachts stand out among the bigger cruise ships, and in the Galapagos we believe a smaller, more intimate motor yacht is the best choice to experience such a pristine and unique environment.

What is the difference between small yachts and big cruise ships in Galapagos?

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What to expect from a small yacht:

You can expect a more intimate experience.

On a small yacht you are able to develop relationships with the crew, your guides and shipmates. Within a few days the others on board will know your name and drink preference. You will be able to ask your naturalist guides more detailed questions during the wildlife tours since you wont be competing with a bigger group size or tight timeline.

During the evening briefing, our guides will walk you through the itinerary and schedule for the next day’s activities. They will offer tips on what to bring and what you can expect, so you are fully prepared when you disembark from the yacht. Our guide to guest ratio (at 1 guide for 10 guests) is the lowest in Galapagos and this will ensure attentive, personalized service throughout your trip.

There will be fewer people onboard.

Our yachts welcome 20 guests aboard every week. With fewer people onboard you won’t be overwhelmed with a crowd on your excursions.  When you are trying to get that perfect photo of a Galapagos Tortoise, you will be able to easily get up close. There will be fewer people in the water when you are snorkeling so more time for you to swim with the sea lions and penguins.

You will form closer relationships with the other guests as you spend time in the evenings sharing travel stories and discussing the adventures from the day. We have many guests who leave with each others emails in hand and stay friends for years after.

Also, with fewer people your group, you will leave less of an impact on the environment, and not disrupt the wildlife. Your guide will be better able to explain the importance of preserving the Islands, and as a whole your group will leave a smaller footprint.

You have more options on sites to visit.

You are hopefully visiting the Galapagos to see the variety of landscapes and wildlife only seen in the outer lying most spectacular islands. Large ships are limited on the visitor sites they can anchor and disembark at due to the size of their ship and high number of passengers. Galapagos National Park closely regulates the number of people and ships that visit each site daily, in order to preserve the ecosystem as best possible and keep everything in balance. In order to guarantee you have the most options and best itinerary, you will want to book a one week Galapagos adventure on a small yacht.

“On our last trip to the Galapagos we were sitting at breakfast and spotted a large pod of dolphins swimming near by. Since we had a small group, our Ecoventura guides were able to quickly gather everyone who was interested and jump in a panga boat to get up close with the pod. It is still one of my favorite memories from the trip.” – Traveling 9 to 5

Spotting Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands

Personalized dining

Small yachts typically offer personalized dining with executive chefs preparing fresh, local meals. Our chefs want you to have a culinary experience while onboard. They want you to experience our great country of Ecuador through their food.

Meals are relaxing and intimate and are time for you to unwind after an eventful day and enjoy a creatively prepared meal served to you by our crew. Let the chefs know about any food allergies or special requests you have and they will gladly cater your meals to fit your needs.

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Focused on the location

Smaller yachts tend to be focused on the destination vs the ship itself. We are confident that your comfort level will be taken care of above and beyond while you are staying with us on our yacht, but also allow you to be off the yacht, exploring up close and experiencing as much time as possible. We want to keep the focus on the Galápagos, its wildlife, land and history.

Family Departures

Our yachts don’t only have activities for the kids, they offer dedicated family departures on the weeks schools are out and provide an adventure catering to the entire family. The naturalist guides focus their time on what the kids are interested in learning about and at a pace that keeps everyone engaged. These family departures allow parents to connect, while the kids make new friends from all over the world.

Pinnacle Rock, Isla Bartolomé, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

What to expect from a big cruise ship:

Overall larger ship size

With hundreds of people moving around on deck you need more space, so on a big cruise ship you can expect more places to hideout. It is unlikely you will run into the same people twice, so if you prefer to keep a low profile it is easier to avoid other guests on larger ships. Also with more people onboard, expect longer lines for both, mealtime and getting on and off the ship and the islands.

Eating options

There may be more options to chose from on a large cruise ship such as fast food and room service. However, it is more difficult to prepare fresh, local food for such a big group, so expect more generic food buffet options. While it won’t be catered to you specifically, you will not leave hungry from all of the options on a large ship.

Want to hear more? 

Our past guests explain why they decided to cruise on a small yacht vs. a big cruise ship:

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Why did you decide to cruise on a small yacht vs. a big cruise ship?