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Galapagos Cruises on a Budget

Best economical yachts in the Galapagos

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Galapagos Cruises on a Budget

The Galapagos Islands are best experienced on a cruise, and there are plenty of boats, itineraries, and promotions to suit any budget. All Galapagos cruises focus primarily on exploring the natural and historical wonders of the Islands, so even budget cruises guarantee travelers an unforgettable experience. Galapagos is an expensive destination, so even "budget" trips will be relatively expensive, but there are a few great ways to save.

Booking a budget-class cruise

What to expect on a budget class yacht.

  • Amazing itineraries at much more affordable prices. This is probably the most important thing to consider when planning your trip, and fortunately the budget itineraries are very similar to even the luxury-class itineraries. You'll have plenty of opportunities to hike, snorkel, swim, relax on the beaches, and explore the most popular visitor sites of each island.

  • Comfortable accommodations. Cabins are typically small but comfortable with quality beds (often bunk beds to maximize space) and private bathrooms. Occasionally upon request, twin beds can be converted to double or queen beds and suites might also be available. Most cabins will have at least a porthole window, with some featuring larger portrait windows.

  • Naturalist guides. All Galapagos guides are naturalists and certified with the National Park, so while the best guides work for more expensive boats and might speak multiple languages fluently and have a degree in an ecology-related field, the guides on budget cruises are still knowledgeable & capable naturalists.

  • Good food. Your menu will likely be much simpler and may not quite qualify as gourmet, but it will be nourishing and delicious, and you'll always have plenty to refuel after a full day of activities.

  • Decent boat. A small sun deck, indoor dining area, lounge/library, and perhaps a bar and al fresco dining area are all common on budget yachts. You won't have a Jacuzzi, spa, fitness centers, or many of the other creature comforts that many luxury yachts and ships feature, but the space, noise and comfort level on budget yachts vary, so make sure to read reviews of your boat before booking.

Featured Budget-class yachts:

Golondrina

The Golondrina is a small motor sail boat that offers its guests a cozy and comfortable experience. The small size provides a more intimate atmosphere, so the crew and guests will be able to really get to know each other. Since it is a sailboat, passengers might have the unique chance to help hoist the sails and experience navigation in its purest form.

Accommodates: 16 passengers in 8 double cabins with bunk beds.

Features: Living room with TV & DVD player, sundeck.

Cabins: Private bathrooms, air conditioning.

Darwin

The Darwin has some of the broadest selection of itineraries in the budget class. Whether you're looking for the quick 4-day and 5-day navigations or a full 2-week Galapagos experience, the Darwin has a trip for you. The 15-day cruises actually manage to visit each region of the Galapagos, all for the price you might pay for a 5-day cruise on a luxury yacht.

Accommodates: 16 passengers in 8 double cabins with bunk beds.

Features: Dining room, sundeck, bar, lounge.

Cabins: Air conditioning, private bathrooms, hot running water.

Floreana

This boat features several spaces that you might expect on a larger, higher class yacht (like a dining room, bar, and a sundeck). Itineraries include opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, and hiking, all with equipment provided for you.

Accommodates: 16 passengers in 8 double cabins.

Features: Saloon, dining room, sundecks, bar, TV/DVD, spacious upper deck.

Cabins: Air conditioning, private bathrooms, hot running water, porthole windows.

Other ways to save

Booking a budget cruise definitely isn’t the only way to save money on a Galapagos cruise. Here are a few other tips that might save you a bundle:

  • Book a last-minute cruise. Operators never like to leave a cabin or suite unoccupied and will often offer incredible promotions (up to half the original price) in the weeks or days before a cruise departs. If your vacation schedule is flexible, you might be able to book a luxury-class cruise at a budget price.

  • Travel during the off-season. April & May and September & October. These months generally experience less tourist traffic, so operators usually offer better overall pricing and excellent deals during this time.

  • Combine a shorter cruise with a few days on the islands. The length of a trip is a major factor in its price, so if you can find an inexpensive hotel or hostel on San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, or Isabela, it might save you a lot of money to book a 3/4-night cruise and spend the remainder of the week on the island.

Thinking about upgrading?

Consider upgrading to a mid-class yacht. They will provide a similar experience, but you will probably have a greater level of comfort. Depending on which cruise you choose, this could mean a more spacious room, better menus, more deck space, or even a more experienced guide.

In the Galapagos Islands, the price you pay is a pretty good indicator of the overall quality of your onboard experience. If you're on a tight budget, then the value of the economy cruises is hard to beat. But if you can afford a mid-class experience, it might make your trip a bit more comfortable, especially if you are traveling with very young or older family members, who might require more attention.

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