Marooned from mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a wildlife paradise that’s been allowed to blossom with minimal interference from mankind.
Now home to throngs of spiky marine iguanas, giant turtles and blue-footed boobies, the islands are a haven for these creatures as well as visiting nature buffs. After all, where else can you laze beach side with a seal or kayak alongside inquisitive penguins? Our Galapagos Islands cruises mean you can see all this archipelago has to offer from the comfort of our well-appointed boats, with all the added benefits that come from unique wildlife sightings every day.
Our Galapagos Islands Cruises
Highlights of the Galapagos Islands
Why choose Intrepid
Daphne - Original style
Cruise the Galapagos in comfort no matter what your budget, with cabins ranging from shared bunks to double suites. Grab a drink from the fully stocked bar and sip it on the undercover terrace, before heading inside to enjoy a meal freshly prepared by the on-board chef, complete with panoramic window views of the sights outside.
Queen Beatriz - Comfort style
The Grand Queen Beatriz offers some of the largest (and most stylish) cabins of any boat in the Galapagos. Mingle with your fellow travel companions across three decks of bars, dining rooms and lounges, relax on the sundeck (complete with jacuzzi spa), or watch the islands pass by from your own private balcony.
Grand Daphne is a brand new ship that will hit the water mid-2020, making it one of the newest boats on the market. With indoor and outdoor dining areas and bars, plus a sundeck with lounges, there will be plenty of places to relax and enjoy time with your fellow travellers. All meals are included in the Grand Daphne. The lower deck cabins have portholes, while the main deck and upper deck cabins have large windows.
Please note, all images are artist impressions
Meet our leader: Oswaldo Noboa
Oswaldo Noboa is the ultimate ambassador for the Galapagos Islands. A passionate and learned naturalist, he spends his days showing Intrepid groups the wonders of the archipelago he calls home. From the giant tortoises to the hammerhead sharks, the lava fields to the ascending volcanoes, Oswaldo loves it all. This is his story.
You’ll have comfortable accommodation on the boat each night as you cruise around the islands of the Galapagos. As a rule, expect your days to be filled with walking treks and snorkelling, all accompanied by an experienced naturalist guide, as well as a variety of optional activities. With the exception of the first and last days of the trip, fresh meals will be provided by the on-board chef for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For more specific information, check the daily itineraries and Essential Trip Information of your chosen trip.
Any activities not listed in the itinerary for each trip that have not been assessed by us. Therefore, our staff and leaders are unable to assist with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion. This includes any and all diving activities. Due to our internal safety policy, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking diving activities.
The additional following costs are also not included in our listed travel prices:
- Wetsuit hire (not included on trips aboard Daphne but included on trips aboard Grand Queen Beatriz).
- Telecommunications charges
- Bar, beverage and other personal charges (unless otherwise specified in the Essential Trip Information)
- Any additional airfares (unless otherwise specified in the itinerary)
- Passport and visa expenses
- Government arrival and departure taxes
- Galapagos National Park fee and Galapagos transit card
- Isabela Island port fee (if applicable)
- Baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance
- Excess baggage charges
- The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew
This can be a tricky question for the Galapagos Islands. One of the best things about the region is that it’s a great place to visit all year round, with one of the most temperate climates on the planet. If you’re seeking the warmth, temperatures average around 30C (86F) from January to May, but you’ll encounter some humidity and the occasional downpour. The cooler dry season from June to December sees temperatures closer to the 26C (79F) mark, but this is also when sea mammals and birdlife tend to be easiest to spot.
That being said, there’s something to see all year round, with giant tortoise eggs hatching in January, blue-footed boobies dancing their way through courtship in May, and fur sea lion pups abundant in October.
Check out this handy infographic to make sure you don’t miss the experience that you’re looking for in the Galapagos: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/best-worst-times-visit-galapagos-infographic/
The short answer is a bit of both. Expect to do some island-hopping during the day, but the longer hours of travel will likely take place in the evening. Check your daily itinerary for specific travel information.
The waters around the Galapagos Islands are usually pretty calm, with seasickness a minor issue for most passengers. Bearing in mind the unpredictability of nature, big swells and major storms are a rarity. January to April are known for pretty glassy conditions with only minor swells, while the water starts to get rougher from June to August, with the shifting Humboldt Current making August and September the months of liveliest waters. Consequently, travel times can be longer than usual. If you suffer from seasickness you may want to reconsider travelling during this period.
The extent and severity of seasickness varies from person to person. Some may be lucky enough to experience no symptoms at all while others may suffer headaches, dizziness and vomiting. Usually all symptoms of seasickness resolve after some time adjusting to life on-board. If you are prone to experience motion sickness, we recommend consulting with your doctor before arriving to see what medical solutions might work for you.
You can also read our guide to beating seasickness for alternative methods of combating seasickness.
If you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip will be very much appreciated. As a guideline US$10-15 per passenger, per day, is standard for the crew, with US$7-10 per day for your guide. Tips can be left in envelopes in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
Some restaurants on the islands may already include a 10% service charge in the bill, in which case an extra tip isn't required. At places that don’t include a service charge, feel free to round up the bill or leave some spare change.
Included activities are different for each day and trip, but as a rule, most guided walking treks and snorkelling activities are included. Check your daily itinerary for specific information.
You will be using a zodiac boat (or panga) during wet and dry landings and when returning from snorkelling.
Meals will be prepared by your on-board chef for breakfast, lunch and dinner, using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. For breakfast, expect toast, spreads, muesli and eggs with fresh fruit and juices. Lunch will typically be a mix of hot and cold dishes, as well as salads or vegetables, fruit salad and juice. Dinner includes fresh seafood, chicken or pork, pasta, rice, vegetables, salads, and dessert.
Coffee, tea, soft drink and water are available 24 hours. Each boat also comes with a fully stocked bar.
The weather in the Galapagos is fairly temperate all year round. In most cases you’ll either be in the water snorkelling or on an island walking. Otherwise you’ll be relaxing on the boat as you travel between islands. You should check the Essential Information of your trip for a specific list, but below is a suggested packing guide for the Galapagos:
- Daypack (a smaller backpack that you can take with you on island excursions)
- Comfortable clothing for warmer temperatures (shorts, t-shirts, light long sleeved tops and pants)
- A fleece or warmer jumper for the evenings or early mornings
- A light rain coat or poncho
- Comfortable shoes. Trainers or walking shoes are sufficient for most trips, however, a number of trips include a volcano walk and some travellers may feel more comfortable in hiking shoes or boots.
- Sandals or thongs/flip flops/sandals
- Sunscreen (bio degradable and waterproof if available) and lip balm (to combat the effects of wind burn)
- Sunhat (that can be secured as it can get windy out on the water)
- Swimming costume
- Water bottle (filtered water is available on board the boat)
- Bio-degradable shampoo, conditioner and soap
- Dry bag
- Pegs (so you can hang your swimming costume or towel out to dry)
- Insect repellent (for island visits)
- US adaptor/electrical plug
- Binoculars (for keen birdwatchers)
- Camera (underwater if you have one)
- Any required medications
Some passengers choose to bring their own snorkelling equipment, but this is a personal choice. Diving masks, snorkels and fins are provided on-board the vessel for use by all passengers. Beach towels are also provided. Wetsuits are available for hire at an additional cost.
Although each cabin has space to store bags, space is always restricted on a boat, so we suggest that you take a backpack or soft-sided duffle bag with you. These bags should be easily stored in your cabin. Larger fixed suitcases are usually too big to store in the cupboard space.
If you are travelling with a larger bag you do have the option of leaving it behind at the start hotel on Day 1and borrowing one of our kit bags, which hold about 12kg. This service is provided by the hotel, and although we haven’t had issues with theft in the past, we highly recommend that you don’t leave any valuables behind.
The airline that we use for our Galapagos trips has a check-in baggage allowance of 23kg per person and a cabin baggage allowance of 10kg.
Each trip is accompanied by an experienced naturalist guide. Our guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service. The guide will be on board with you for the duration of the trip and will accompany you on all excursions.
The wildlife in the Galapagos Islands is precisely why most people choose to visit. The sheer diversity and variety of life on land, in the air and under the water is mind-boggling, and it’s difficult to provide an exhaustive list. Here are just a few of the biggest drawcards to the islands:
- Giant Galapagos tortoises
- Darwin’s finches
- Galapagos land iguanas
- Marine iguanas
- Blue-footed boobies
- Red-footed boobies
- Galapagos hawks
- Flightless cormorants
- Galapagos sea lion
- Sally Lightfoot crabs
- Waved albatross
- Galapagos penguins
- Lava lizards
- Galapagos mockingbirds
- Large painted locusts
You can charge your phone on-board, however, electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter. Additionally, mobile phone coverage is almost non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. You may find that you only have some limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands.
Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be the occasional internet cafe for you to use if there is time.
Cabins are air-conditioned, as are communal indoor areas.
Though there is no risk of yellow fever in the Galapagos Islands, a vaccination certificate is required for travellers coming from infected areas.
It is always recommended that you visit your doctor or travel clinic for up to date advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
Recommended vaccines and precautions
- Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Rabies (transmitted through bites of infected mammals)
- Yellow Fever (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
- Diphtheria (transmitted through person-to-person contact or contact with infected objects, such as a cup or tissue)
- Tetanus (transmitted through infections to cuts or puncture wounds)
- Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Malaria (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
Tips and advice
Read more about the Galapagos Islands
Combine your cruise with a Latin American adventure
Cruising around the Galapagos Islands is an adventure in itself, but there’s also a whole South American continent alongside it to explore. If you’re there for the wildlife, combine your voyage with a trek through the Amazon Jungle, an adventure in the Patagonian wilderness, or a hike to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail.