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Galapagos | © 4606510/pixabay
Galapagos | © 4606510/pixabay
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The Best Cruises to Explore Ecuador's Amazing Galapagos Islands

Picture of Harry Stewart
Updated: 23 August 2017
A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is a nature lover’s dream. Home to an extraordinary variety of wildlife, its incredible fauna is what inspired Charles Darwin to develop his theory of natural selection. But with so many different cruise ships plying the islands, choosing an operator can be a seriously daunting task. Thankfully, Culture Trip have done some of the legwork for you by narrowing it down to the top seven.

Petrel, 4 days from $3,229 p.p

A great luxury option is the Petrel, a small yet opulent catamaran renowned for its extravagance. With 11 crew to just 16 passengers, guests love the Petrel for its personalized service and cozy, intimate vibe. It’s got all the amenities you would expect from a five-star vessel, including a sundeck with a Jacuzzi and guestrooms that are among the most spacious and stylish in the Galapagos. Best of all, the catamaran has a super stable design which is perfect for counteracting the onset of seasickness.

Suite on the Petrel
Suite on the Petrel | © Courtesy of Rainforest Cruises

Ocean Spray, 4 days from $3,079 p.p

Another small luxury vessel, the 16 passenger Ocean Spray is one of the newest cruise ships in the Galapagos. Passengers appreciate its sleek minimalist design and added extras such as fancy L’Occitane toiletries and panoramic windows in every room. On-board facilities include a jacuzzi and a telescope for stargazing on the deck, while there’s plenty of space to relax inside, away from the elements. It’s a great small ship option for those with a bit of cash to splash.

Common area on the Ocean Spray
Common area on the Ocean Spray | ©

Galapagos Legend, 4 days from $1,639 p.p

The biggest vessel in the Galapagos, the Legend has room for 100 passengers yet is spacious enough to not feel overly crowded. A hit with families, the ship has plenty of games and in-room entertainment to help keep the little ones entertained. During school holidays, they even put on a family cruise which is ready for an influx of children. Despite being packed full of facilities including a swimming pool, budget travelers will rejoice because the ship’s larger size allows for a cheaper entry price.

Natural Paradise, 4 days from $2,619 p.p

Built just two years ago in 2015, the Natural Paradise is the most modern ship in the Galapagos. This luxury yacht offers a variety of cabins, from standard rooms to spacious suites with private balconies. But it’s the attentive service which passengers value most, thanks to a generous ratio of 10 crew members to just 16 guests. Natural Paradise is a great choice for those seeking a modern, luxurious cruise with exceptional personalized service.

Jacuzzi on the Natural Paradise
Jacuzzi on the Natural Paradise | © Courtesy of Rainforest Cruises

Galaxy, 4 days from $1,829 p.p

An excellent mid-range option, the Galaxy offers a comfortable small ship experience without breaking the bank. Renovated in 2014, the ship’s interior restaurant and bar are made from polished wood while colorful artwork helps create a warm, friendly atmosphere. Movies, tabletop games and cocktails promote guest interaction in between activities, when there is an abundance of kayaks available for island exploration. Galaxy is the perfect option for budget travelers who prefer a more intimate cruising experience.

Lounge in the Galaxy
Lounge in the Galaxy | © Courtesy of Rainforest Cruises

Coral I & II, 4 days from $1,639 p.p

These are in fact two different ships, but they are similar enough to be marketed as the same product. This mid-range option aims to create a relaxed on-board atmosphere that is free from the pretension of more luxurious cruises. Nevertheless, it still offers plenty of opulent amenities, one of which is an extensive pillow menu to help passengers get a good night’s sleep. Another standout feature is the professional on-board photographer, who encourages guests to focus on wildlife rather than taking the perfect selfie.

Majestic, 4 days from $2,519 p.p

The Majestic is famous for its swanky design, with its extensive sundeck being a particular favorite. Featuring lounge chairs, a bar, a jacuzzi and an outdoor dining area, most of the 16 passengers choose to pass their time here between activities. But that’s not to say there’s a lot of free time, as the Majestic has one of the most action-packed itineraries in the Galapagos. This makes the ship a great choice for those who want to see and do as much as possible in a short period of time.

Social area on the majestic
Social area on the majestic | ©

Feeling inspired to go on a Galapagos Islands cruise? Then get in touch with the folks at Rainforest Cruises, a reputable U.S.- based agency selling all these options and more.

Those who are dying to explore the islands but don’t have much money need not despair. The Galapagos can be visited independently without breaking the bank.