Where is it you might ask? Off the coast of Ecuador – some 600 miles to be exact. What is so special about it? Everything. Many have said it is like stepping on the moon or another planet. The human footprint is kept to a minimum and the landscape and wildlife seems almost prehistoric. Consider this your guide to a Galapagos cruise and experience. Know that you do not have to be a scientist or trained outdoor enthusiast to appreciate this fragile and magical place.
The Galapagos, as the experts say, are in constant motion. The way they are today is different to how they were in the past, and different to how they’ll be in the future – the archipelago is merely a snapshot in time.
— BRIDGET GLEESON
Lonely Planet Writer
When to go
There is no bad time to visit. Visitors are limited due to regulation and conservation efforts. Peak tourist season is June – August and mid-December to mid-January.
Tip: Keep a “must-see” species list in mind for planning when to go.
January – June: The hot, rainy season. Ocean is the calmest. Daily rains give way to mostly-sunny skies. Temperatures are in the 80s.
This is mating and nesting season so you can expect to see many land birds (like blue-footed boobies doing their courtship dance »), sea lions, turtles and tortoises. You will also see the eruption of springtime blooms that drape the islands in radiant colors.
June – December: The cooler, dry season. Thanks to the Humboldt Current, expect cooler temperatures (in the 70s) and choppier seas.
The cold, nutrient rich seas provide plenty of food for sea mammals like whales and sea lions, as well as penguins and many other sea birds.
What to Pack
You will want to be prepared for any daytime activities or shore excursions. The landscape is extraterrestrial, and as you read, the climate varies. You will want to explore your surroundings and be comfortable while you do so. Here’s what to pack.
- Neutral-color clothing that can be layered. Weather can be unpredictable.
- Lightweight rain jacket or windbreaker
- Lightweight shorts and pants as well as both long-and short-sleeve shirts
- A jacket or sweatshirt will come in handy on the ship or for cooler days/evenings.
- A small backpack to carry water, your camera and other essentials
- A hat, sunglasses, sunblock and insect repellent
- A re-sealable plastic bag or any plastic bag to prevent water damage to cameras and other items of that nature
- A swimsuit and waterproof sandals or wet/dry water shoes for the beach and wet landings.
- Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots and some good socks (think Smartwools). Some of the island trails require walking on rocks, so be sure to have support and good tread on walking shoes.
- Most importantly, a CAMERA. If you bring a digital camera, make sure to pack plenty of memory cards.
With more than 10 years in the Galapagos Islands, Celebrity Cruises knows a lot about providing award-winning and all-inclusive Galapagos cruise vacations. Along with their state-of-the-art ship Celebrity Xpedition®, they have recently added two ships to their fleet – Celebrity Xperience℠ and Celebrity Xploration℠. The 100-passenger Celebrity Xpedition® is filled with indulgences, including room service, in-suite dining, massage services, complimentary plush bathrobes, a fitness room, nightly lectures by certified naturalists from the Galapagos National Park (who are on board during your entire vacation), and live music in the Discovery Lounge. The newly refurbished, mid-sized Celebrity Xperience℠ features 24 stylish staterooms – each featuring an ocean view. All the gear you’ll need, such as snorkeling equipment, wet suits, and binoculars, are included. Celebrity Xploration℠ is a stylish catamaran that features eight luxuriously cozy staterooms, each with a window or veranda. With just sixteen guests aboard, this small ship provides the ultimate opportunity in intimate adventure travel.
10+ night itineraries are available year-round and most include a pre-cruise stay in Quito, Ecuador; Transfers to/from the Quito Airport to your hotel; a guided tour of Quito, Airfare from Quito to Baltra Island; Transfers to/from the ship; a 7+ night Galapagos cruise and all gratuities.
Silversea offers a one of a kind expedition in the Galapagos aboard the Silver Explorer. The ship accommodates only 100 guests and is equipped with everything guests need to enjoy the archipelago, including kayaks and snorkel equipment. Notable Silversea distinctions such as elegant suites with butler service, complimentary spirits and fine wines, and world-class cuisine are also available onboard. While ashore, enjoy daily excursions with their Expeditions Team of geologists, biologists, and historians.
7-night inclusive itineraries are available year-round and include Roundtrip economy air between Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands; two-night pre-cruise stay in Quito; land transfers; complimentary Wi-Fi; gratuities; all field excursion and activities and more. Roundtrip Economy Air to Ecuador is available from select U.S. gateways.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands with Avalon Waterways means you will have most meals included and many of their featured sightseeing activities, such as a glass-bottom boat expedition for marine life viewing and a stargazing program. Avalon’s 20-cabin yacht, Isabela II, features delicious cuisine, excellent facilities, including a Jacuzzi, fitness room, bar and outside deck for al fresco meals, drinks and sunbathing. Onshore you’ll be escorted by their dedicated and expert naturalist guides. Equipment like wetsuits, snorkeling gear and kayaks are available.
8-to-19-night itineraries are available year-round and include a 4-night cruise in the Galapagos; pre-cruise stay and sightseeing in Quito; select complimentary beverages, most meals onboard and more. Additional land excursions are available to Lima, Machu Picchu and other destinations.