Stop! Don't Book a Galapagos Tour before reading this
(1) Do All Ships Have Plenty Of Space On Public Areas?
If it’s space and freedom you want, take a look at the Guest Space Ratio (GSR), a cruising industry benchmark designed to show how much room each guest has on any given ship and provide a common number that can be compared from ship to ship. Divide the ship’s gross tonnage by the total guest capacity. Anything above a GSR of 20 is considered comfortable.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask about the Guest-Space Ratio!.
(2) Should I be concerned about navigating in the tropical waters of Galapagos if I’m used to sailing in calm harbors?
Stability can make all of the difference for an enjoyable cruise vacation and it is a strong feature of an expedition vessel. Contrary to common assumption, tropical waters are not always calm and an expedition vessel, by its very nature, reduces movement at sea. Single-guided boats often face interesting challenges when sailing between islands.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask what kind of ship will be the most comfortable for you.
(3) Will I have more than 1 activity available at the same time?
If you want to visit any sites within the park limits, it’s important to remember that the National Park Authorities require that you do so accompanied by a licensed Naturalist Guide, which means you will have the greatest flexibility on multi-guided expedition vessels and yachts.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask if more than 1 activity is available at the same time and ask if your provider has a glass-bottom boat.
(4) Will I get to see all the archipelago on any ship in the Galapagos?
Not all ships reach all of the islands you might want to visit, such as Genovesa, Fernandina, Española and North Seymour. The archipelago covers a vast area of 138,000 km² (about half the size of Great Britain) and the ship and the itinerary that you choose will determine how you access the unique wildlife of the Galapagos National Park.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask which itinerary or programme will give you the best island and wildlife coverage.
(5) Will everyone on my single-guided boat be speaking in my language?
Not everyone on a single-guided boat will necessarily speak your language. Naturalist Guides are generally multilingual and on single-guided boats, they must tailor their guiding to the group on board, which means that they often must repeat information in two or more languages each time they go ashore. Expedition vessels and yachts, with multiple Naturalist Guides, are better able to handle varied language requirements. This means that each group can receive more in-depth, outstanding natural history interpretation in various languages.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask how many guides are on your ship.
(7) Are There Massive Cruise Ships Exploring The Galapagos?
In other parts of the world, cruise ships can, indeed, be massive. But in Galapagos, the largest ships hold a maximum of 100 passengers and are perfect for exploring the islands. The options range from single-guided boats, with approximately 6-10 cabins, to two different types of multi-guided ships: Expedition yachts (approximately 16-24 cabins) and expedition vessels (over 24 cabins).
Travel Expert Tip: Ask about your ship’s capacity.
(8) Can I only select full-week trips on single-guided boats?
Expedition vessels, yachts, and land-based options offer a wide variety of choices for voyage length. You choose what’s best for you with itineraries that range from 5 to 15 days. You can even combine two shorter itineraries to make sure you get the island coverage you want.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask about the best trip date and length for you.
(9) I’ve heard that mass tourism is damaging Galapagos, is it true?
The Galapagos National Park strictly controls the number of visitors allowed to visit the area each year, making the archipelago one of the most highly protected and monitored destinations in the world. As a result, the total number of people staying on live-aboard ships over an entire year is close to 75,000… and that is less than what a world-class sports stadium holds at just one sold-out event!
Travel Expert Tip: Ask about how tourism helps the Galapagos National Park.
(10) Should I be thinking about who will be sharing the trip with me?
Not necessarily, unless you have chartered the entire single-guided boat in order to travel exclusively with a group of dear friends or loved ones. Expedition vessels and yachts give you the freedom to find your own space when you want it or to seek out different guests for company while dining or when you want a friendly conversation.
Travel Expert Tip: Ask about any special interests you may have.