Galapagos Tips & Information | < 1 MIN READ

The Biggest Mistake to Avoid When Booking a Galapagos Cruise

User Avatar Written by: Daniela Vaca

There are several mistakes you can make when booking a Galapagos cruise. If you don’t research the options carefully, you can end up choosing the wrong type of expedition cruise from among the multitude of different tour operators, ships, and itineraries.  

You can certainly mitigate any mistakes by researching things like the length of the trip, what’s included in the itinerary, and what amazing wildlife you will see. Galapagos is an expedition destination like few others, and you’ll find it’s hard to just fly in and fly out as part of a short jaunt or “do it all” with just one itinerary.  


You can also read reviews from past passengers to get an idea of the quality of service offered by each operator and what to expect from visits to sites within the Galapagos National Park. 

This is all well and good, however, there is a huge mistake that even the most careful and well-informed traveler can make.

Yacht La Pinta

Booking a Small Ship that Lacks Multi-guided Tours  

Having access to certified naturalist guides during your trip is essential to ensure that you have the best and most memorable experience in this cherished destination. The presence of experienced naturalist guides is invaluable when traveling anywhere in the Galapagos. (And, it’s important to understand that 97% of the islands comprises the Galapagos National Park.) Guides provide valuable knowledge about the flora and fauna of the islands, instilling in visitors a vast appreciation for the delicate archipelago’s natural beauty. 

It must be noted that visitor sites in the Galapagos National Park are inaccessible without naturalist guides because, by law, travelers are not allowed to disembark at any site unless accompanied by a certified guide. They are tasked with helping to protect the precious ecosystems of the Galapagos while providing an extra layer of safety for both you and the wildlife that inhabit the islands.  

Small vessels with up to 16 passengers typically hire just one naturalist guide and if, for whatever reason, they cannot disembark with you—say they become ill or incapacitated during the cruise—, you’ll be turned away and returned to port. This could potentially ruin the trip, and your dream vacation in the Galapagos.  

However, by booking a galapagos cruise with multiple certified naturalist guides, you can rest assured that your experience will be enlightening, safe, and enjoyable! 

Galapagos penguins

Choosing a Vessel with Multiple Guides 

To avoid having your visit to Galapagos be ruined, choose a vessel with multiple certified naturalist guides. That way, if one falls ill, there will still be other guides available to give you an informative and enjoyable tour. And, by having more than one guide, passengers can enjoy more activity options. This is a huge advantage over single-guided tours, especially those with limited passenger space. 


So before galapagos cruise booking, inquire about vessels with multiple guides. You’ll want to benefit from their expertise and knowledge—not just for safety purposes, but to guarantee access to Galapagos’ most memorable sites! 

Other Downsides to Small Ships

Small ships sound intimate and cozy, but unless you charter the whole ship and fill it with your favorite people, there’s always the chance you’ll be forced to share a cramped space with strangers that do not share your interests 

In some cases, operators of small expedition vessels in Galapagos have been known to overbook their ships. This is bad because carrying too many passengers endangers their safety and can overload the ship’s engines. Also, you may find the food and the service to be lacking, leaving you disillusioned with your trip. 

Another consideration is that small vessels have shorter ranges, so the itineraries they offer won’t necessarily reach key visitor sites in the archipelago. And, because of their size, site visits, which need to be arranged in advance with the GNP, won’t be exclusive! This means that you’ll likely see several small vessels sharing the same visitor site at the same time, which isn’t great for the environment. In comparison, mid- and large-sized vessels transport more passengers, providing them with exclusive site visits. 

The Ideal: A Midsized Ship with Multi-guided Tours. 

If you still have your heart set on a small vessel but don’t want to miss out on the advantages of tours with multiple guides, consider a midsized ship. This size vessel, like the popular 48-passenger Yacht La Pinta and 40-passenger Yacht Isabela II, features multiple certified naturalist guides, more amenities and space, and plenty of privacy and comfort.  

A midsized vessel allows guests to enjoy all Park-approved activities (including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding). Also, this type of vessel features a qualified and reliable crew with an onboard medical officer. You’ll be much happier with this choice for your ideal Galapagos expedition! 


American flamingos in Floreana Island