Choosing the best Galapagos 5-day cruise for you
When considering Galapagos cruises, the 5-day cruises strike a great balance between time and cost while lacking slightly in comprehensiveness of your Galapagos experience.
Choosing the right cruise makes all the difference on your trip to Galapagos. Generally, cruises vary between 4-day cruises all the way up to 15-day cruises. 5-days is a great trip length for those looking to save some time or money and still experience much of what the Galapagos Islands have to offer. Each length has distinct pros and cons, so here's the need to know for a 5-day cruise.
Why choose a 5-day cruise?
- While a 5-day cruise is still a relatively short expedition, you will at least be able to experience several visitor sites and most of the activities available on most cruises (like snorkeling, hiking, dinghy rides, swimming, and to a lesser extent, sea kayaking).
- The 5-day option is your best balance for those who want to see a lot but are still trying to manage their budget prudently.
- This is a great length for families. The Galapagos Islands can be an amazing destination for the whole family from folks traveling with children, adolescents up to great grandparents. 5-days is an excellent way to see a lot while not exhausting the youngest and oldest with multiple daily activities. For families, it's important to remember that most cabins only accommodate two people (but usually no more than four even in bigger cabins). Children generally receive discounts, but amounts and age policies vary for each boat.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a 5-day cruise instead of a shorter 4-day?
- The 4-day cruise is simply too short to get a good feel and deeper understanding of the islands.
- Since almost two full days are dedicated to traveling, there's really not much time for activities on the 4-day cruises.
- With a 5-day cruise you can feel like you are getting a full Galapagos experience with 3 full days exploring the islands versus 2 days, 50% more time exploring!
- Advantage. Longer cruises cost significantly more. The Galapagos Islands are never an inexpensive vacation destination; but because the cost is mostly per day, the difference of just a few days can add up to thousands of dollars per person.
- Advantage. Many people find longer cruises exhausting. Every day on a Galapagos cruise is packed with activities in order to make the most out of your Galapagos experience. Because of this, by the end of an 8- or 15-day cruise, travelers often find themselves exhausted. This makes it more difficult to best enjoy the final days of the excursion.
- Disadvantage. Most experts recommend 8-day trips as the ideal trip length in order to get a real feel and complete experience of the Galapagos. For most people, this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and having the ability to experience 6 full glorious days exploring versus 3 full days on a 5-day should merit serious consideration. 6 vs. 3 is 100% more time on the islands!
Choosing the Right Type of Galapagos Cruise Vessel
- Catamarans: These are the most stable of the Galapagos boats. The body of the boat is spread over twin hulls that limit the rocking feeling. Catamarans, along with some of the largest ships, is the best type of boat for people prone to motion sickness. This is also a good option if you want a more private experience, as they usually accommodate no more than 16 passengers and the crew.
- Small Motor Yachts and sailboats: These are best for the adventure seeker. Their smaller size means there is a more intimate atmosphere for the travelers.. Since they are small, they will rock more than larger boats or catamarans.
- Large cruise ships: The 30-100 passenger boats are the biggest passenger vessels that cruise the Galapagos Islands. They are single-hull, which means you will notice the rocking; but since they are larger, it is not as amplified as in smaller boats. There are more facilities (gyms, Jacuzzis, TV rooms, kids playrooms, etc.) on these boats. Itineraries are more regimented, and boarding and deboarding can take more time as well. Large cruise ships are a good option for families and couples seeking a social experience.
Categories of Galapagos boats and price ranges of 5-day cruises
Cruise boats are categorized by the following:
- Ships and larger boats. 5-Day cruises range from around $2300 to $6000
- Luxury Yachts. 5-Day cruises tend to be around the $4000 range
- First Class Yachts. 5-Day cruises range from $2200 to $3300
- Mid Range Yachts. 5-Day cruises range from around $1800 to $3000
- Budget Level Yachts. 5-Day cruises tend to be under $2000
The old adage “You get what you pay for” definitely applies to the boats in the Galapagos. On the higher end of things, you will usually have a more intimate environment onboard, a more attentive crew that can serve you more quickly and effectively, better amenities, like air conditioning and a Jacuzzi, and probably a full bar.
On the budget end of cruises, you are still guaranteed an amazing experience, but it could be a lot simpler, often sacrificing some of these comforts for value. If you have decided on the 4-day cruise in order to save some money and still see the Galapagos, then a middle-class boat or another economical yacht might be your best choice. No matter what boat you choose, your Galapagos navigation is sure to be incredible.
Tips and tricks
Book your trip with an Ecuador-based tour operator. Agencies based in Ecuador will have the most competitive prices and deals with the boat owners. Also, you can count on a well-planned itinerary, since they will be the ones most familiar with what travelers are looking for in a Galapagos cruise.
- Between the more humid months of December and May, air conditioning can make a huge difference in your comfort level on your cruise.
- Consider reserving a room far from the engine room, which can be noisy, especially during overnight navigations.
Why book your cruise with Columbus Travel?
Booking your trip via Columbus Travel is an easy (and smart) decision. We can get you the best product at the best value, and we guarantee it.
Since we have the highest volume of sales out of all the tour operators in the Galapagos, we are able to negotiate the prices within the marketplace very effectively. On top of this, you will save thousands of dollars making your plans with us – tours in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are what we do. Unlike companies based out of North America or Europe, we are located right in Ecuador, which means that not only are we the experts on all things Galapagos, but we can also offer the most competitive prices on the boat of your choice.
From the moment you start the process with Columbus, we work with you every step of the way to make sure that your Galapagos vacation is planned exactly how you want it. We hand-craft every itinerary to match your interests, and we will coordinate all of the minute logistical details so that you don't have to worry about them.
Once you decide that Ecuador is your destination, just leave the rest to us. Don't worry, we get it. This trip might be your only chance to visit one of the most magical places in the world, so let us help make it your dream-come-true.
Article writen by Brian Bayer January 2016.