The age-old question of, ‘does size really matter?’ has never been as important in the realm of travel than when it comes to choosing the right Galapagos boat for you. Aside from seeing the most incredible display of wildlife, one of the decisions you will have to make during the planning process of your perfect Galapagos trip will be your choice of cruise vessel.
Galapagos boats come in all shapes and sizes from small boats (8-20 passengers) to medium-sized (40-50 passengers) and large boats (90+ passengers) all with their own unique advantages.
As a general rule, the medium-sized boats are the most expensive followed by the large vessels and with a larger number of small boats available to explore the Galapagos Islands, there is a much wider range in price. But, remember while size matters when choosing your boating experience in the Galapagos it is just as essential that you pay attention to where the boats sail to so that you are able to visit all the Galapagos Islands you have been dreaming about. Deciding what sized boat you should choose is not something to be taken lightly, but don’t despair as this useful Galapagos boat size guide will help you measure up which is the right size Galapagos boat for you.
♦ Small Galapagos Boats: A Romantic Experience (8-20 passengers)
Sailing around the Galapagos on a small boat has a romantic essence to it and it is the most common type of Galapagos boat operating in the islands. Exploring the wildlife of the Galapagos on a small boat means that you get to keep away from the big tour groups, enjoying a more personalized experience with both the guests and crew. With fewer people traveling on your boat, it also means that you will have more time to explore the islands as you won’t have long waiting times as people disembark. The smaller size also means that when a group of whales or dolphins are passing by, it is able to veer off course to check them out before continuing on to the next island.
Our favorite small Galapagos vessels: Sea Star Journey ((formerly the Grand Odyssey (16 pax.)); Seaman (16 pax.); Eric, Letty, Flamingo (20 pax.)
♦ Medium-Sized Boats: Not too big, Not too small (40-50 passengers)
Many travelers find that the luxurious medium-sized boats provide the ideal, best of both worlds situation when exploring the Galapagos Islands. With the stability of larger vessels reducing the possibility of seasickness as well as the intimate atmosphere of the smaller boats; perhaps this could be your happy medium? The possible only complexity of a medium sized boat is that with more people comes slightly longer disembarking times and when moving around the boat, it can feel a bit crowded. There is no doubting that if you are truly torn between a large and small boat, this still remains a fantastic option as these boats can, like the small boats, pull into anchor closer to land.
Our favorite medium-sized Galapagos vessels: Isabela II (40 pax.); La Pinta (48 pax.)
♦ Large Galapagos Boats: Plenty for everyone (90+ passengers)
There are only a few large boats that take 90+ passengers around the Galapagos however, those that do are by far the most stable available especially during parts of the Galapagos dry season, when the seas become ever so slightly choppier. If you are prone to seasickness, looking for more leisure space and on-board facilities then perhaps you should go big. With more passengers on-board there are also greater opportunities to meet other like-minded travelers from all over the world. The larger boats often stop further away from shore than the small and medium-sized boats in order to limit the impact on this delicate environment. Smaller boats will take you in groups of between 12-16 from your large vessel to the Island which may take a little time to organize as well as disembark. However, if you are looking for a conventional cruising style vacation to the Galapagos, this is the right option for you.
Our favorite large Galapagos vessels: Explorer II (100 pax.)
♦ Galapagos Dive Boats: For those that like to get wet
The Galapagos is mainly famed for its birdlife and wildlife that can be seen on land; however it also provides one of the most incredible diving sites in the world. For those experience and certified divers out there, this should be the only option for you. These specialized Galapagos cruises will concentrate heavily on diving with there usually being fewer land excursions than underwater exploration. This is without a doubt the ultimate diving experience and opportunity for you, allowing you to reach the most respected diving spots of the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. Famous for their schools of hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays and whale sharks choosing to go with a dive boat will provide you with a unique Galapagos travel experience.
Our favorite diving vessels: Galapagos Sky Dancer (16 pax.); Humboldt Explorer (16 pax.)