Snorkel with sea lions, glimpse the courting dance of a blue-footed booby, and marvel at the dramatic landscape so breathtaking that it inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
The Galapagos Islands are home to a dazzling diversity of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, and one of the best ways to explore Mother Nature’s playground is with a Galapagos cruise. Situated 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, this archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and each of the islands boasts its own unique landscape, which range from volcanic craters and pristine beaches to forest-covered islets and towering cliffs.
Unlike cruises to the Caribbean or Alaska, a cruise to the Galapagos Islands is typically a small affair with operators offering cruises with occupancies no larger than 100 people. This allows travelers to see the more remote islands with unique wildlife viewing opportunities that wouldn’t be possible with a land-based trip. On a Galapagos cruise vacation, you can truly experience the unique biodiversity of the islands and get up close and personal with the friendly wildlife and evolutionary oddities -- including the flightless birds, swimming lizards and giant tortoises.
To preserve the natural beauty and ecosystems that make the islands so special, it is important to bear in mind that there are restrictions when visiting the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos National Park is only open from sunrise to sunset, and as such, many Galapagos cruises run tight schedules to ensure passengers can get the most out of their visit. Most of the islands also won’t allow visitors unless accompanied by a guide licensed with the Galapagos National Park. When searching for your Galapagos cruise vacation, look for cruises with Level 3 guides, which is a designation given to highly-trained expedition leaders.
While exploring the islands, there will never be a shortage of things to do. You can surf the world-class waves in San Cristobal, kayak through the calm waters in Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz, snorkel with a school of fish in Isla Lobos, dive around immaculate Wolf Island and Darwin Island, or trek around rugged Sierra Negra, the world’s second largest crater. And of course, there are ample opportunities for wildlife watching! Many species -- such as the blue-footed booby, waved albatross and Darwin’s finches -- are unique to Galapagos due to the remoteness of the islands.
These days, cruise operators offer a range of Galapagos cruises to suite different travel styles and budgets. You can easily find Galapagos cruise deals with economy berths, or you can opt to cruise with a luxury liner for a more upscale, relaxing vacation experience. Peak season for cruises to the Galapagos Islands are from June to September and December to January.
*Prices are cruise only, per person, double occupancy. Taxes, fees and port expenses not included. Rates are valid for US and Canadian residents only. Fuel supplement may apply. Savings advertised and Expedia Extras are based on specific cabin types and sailing dates, and may not be available for all cabin types/sailings.