The short answer: The average Galapagos cruise costs between $1200-$6000 per person, plus airfare.
There’s no such thing as a “bad” Galapagos cruise, but it’s also definitely true that the more you pay, the more amazing your experience will be, in terms of comfort, experience, food, guides, and trip length. All cruises are all-inclusive, meaning that your ticket price includes meals onboard, lodging, and any transportation specifically listed in the itinerary.
Upper-end cruises will also likely include private transportation from the airport in Galapagos to the ship and perhaps even accommodations and transportation on mainland Ecuador prior to your departure to the Galapagos, upon request.
If you’re hoping to pay less than $2000/ person on your Galapagos cruise, then you’ll have to consider a budget cruise in the Galapagos Islands, which tend to be between 4-5 days and 3-4 nights aboard some of the simpler Galapagos vessels.
- This can be a good option if your main goal is to experience a taste of the Galapagos Islands and do a few of the staple activities, like daily hikes, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and exploring the major visitor destinations of the Galapagos Islands.
- You do sacrifice luxury when you book a budget cruise, but if a full service bar, gourmet buffet meals, private balconies, an onboard hot tub, and other plush amenities aren’t as important to you, then a budget cruise might be a great way to save some money and still experience the Galapagos Islands.
- Expect smaller social areas onboard, snug cabins with bunks, private bathrooms, porthole windows, and simple menus.
- You should also know that while all guides are certified naturalists from the Galapagos National Park, those on budget cruises may be new or have broken English.
Mid-Range & First Class ($2000-3500/ person)
If you can afford to pay a bit more per person for a weeklong cruise aboard a mid-range or first class yacht, you will likely feel this is a much better value. While a 4-day budget cruise can be a great way to get a taste of the Galapagos, most travelers agree that the 8-day/ 7-night cruises are ideal.
- These allow travelers to visit many more of the Galapagos visitor sites for a more complete Galapagos experience and naturally include more of your favorite activities.
- The mid-range vessels are comfortable and tend to have bigger social spaces, and many of the first-class vessels are just a few shades from being considered luxury vessels, sometimes even including luxury features like buffet style gourmet menus, onboard hot tubs, and spacious cabins.
Luxury ($3000-$6000/ person)
Luxury cruises are the epitome of adventure travel, sparing no expense to ensure that your experience in the Galapagos Islands is second-to-none.
- The luxury vessels are the absolute best in the Galapagos, with spacious social areas, plush lounges, elegant indoor and al fresco dining areas, full service bars, a sun deck usually with a hot tub, and occasionally even a fitness room, boutique, reception desk and pool on some of the larger vessels.
- Rooms are well-appointed, with comfortable beds, large portrait windows, private bathrooms, bath robes, fruit baskets, plenty of space for your luggage, individually controlled air conditioning, and often even a private balcony.
- World class service is standard on luxury cruises, from the captain and their friendly crew to the most experienced and knowledgeable multilingual naturalist guides.
- The menu will draw from international and local fare, prepared by a gourmet chef and presented either served or buffet style.
- Nightly briefings will prepare you for the sites of the next day.
- All equipment for the daily excursions is provided, including snorkeling gear, wetsuits (when necessary), kayaks, and pangas.
No matter which cruise you choose, you should consider tipping your guide and crew for their service. A good rule of thumb is $8-15 per traveler per day for the crew and an additional $8-15 per traveler per day for the guide. For an 8-day cruise for 2 people tipping the crew and the guide $12/day, this comes out to about $384 extra. Remember, tipping is never required and is always at your discretion, but it will always be appreciated.
Ways to Save
There are a few great ways to save some money when booking your Galapagos cruise:
- Book a last-minute cruise – Cruise operators hate to sail with an empty cabin, so if you have a more flexible schedule and you don’t have your heart set on one specific Galapagos cruise, keep your eye out for last-minute deals that could be up to 50% off!
- Consider going in the off season – April & May and September & October – when cruise prices are heavily discounted.
- Let us know which cruises interest you and when you’d like to go, and we can help you find the best deals, exclusive to our clients directly from the operators themselves.