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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Answers to the 80+ most common questions we get about Galápagos Cruises

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The Nature of Galapagos
Can I see whales and dolphins in Galapagos?

Over 20 different species of whale and dolphin have been identified within the Galapagos marine national park. Some are present all year round, like dolphins, orcas and sperm whales, whilst others visit the islands seasonally, including blue whales and humpback whales.

You are likely to encounter whales and dolphins on your Galapagos cruise whatever the time of the year, but the cooler months of July through November usually offer the most sightings. Whales are more commonly seen in the western Galapagos, and the waters between Isabela and Fernandina islands are a particular hot spot. It's not uncommon when sailing between island excursions to enjoy the glorious sight of dolphins riding the bow wave of your boat.

Some of the species you may see on your Galapatours cruise include:

  • Blue whale;
  • Humpback whale;
  • Orca, or killer whale;
  • Minke whale;
  • Sperm whale;
  • Bottlenose dolphin;
  • Common Dolphin.
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Are their any customs restrictions for travel to Galapagos?

Under Ecuadorian law, if you are only temporarily visiting the Galapagos then you are exempted from the requirement to pay any customs charges on items that you are bringing in to the country. This includes new or used portable electronics such as cameras, laptops, music players, etc.

You MUST NOT bring any agricultural or plant materials or any unprocessed food products to the islands. To avoid problems at customs and bag check we suggest only traveling to Galapagos with pre-wrapped snack products such as chocolate bars, etc. Food is plentiful and freshly cooked on your Galapatours cruise, with a wide range of choice on offer to suit all tastes - you really don't need to bring anything with you!

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Do I need any shots for a trip to Galapagos?

Unfortunately, we are not legally allowed to give you recommendations on CDC vaccinations for Galapagos cruises. Please visit a travel health clinic or take advice from your personal physician at least 8 weeks before you travel. You will find recommendations on the official US Health page as well.

However, the following is a broad guideline for vaccinations for Ecuador and Galapagos Islands (short stay). If you intend to travel more widely in Ecuador or elsewhere in South America then you must take further specific advice.

  • If you enter Ecuador from a country where yellow fever exists, you must a have a vaccination against yellow fever.
  • If you plan to travel to the Ecuadorian Amazon, you might need a vaccination against yellow fever as well. Please check with a physician specializing on travel to tropical regions!
  • Other vaccinations could be: Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, Tetanus (if not up to date) and other routine vaccines that you may not have had.
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What currency is used in Galapagos?

Since the year 2000, the official currency of the Galapagos Islands is the US dollar. It is best to use cash and cards, as traveller checks are not readily accepted. It's also best to bring smaller denomination notes - you won't be able to use anything bigger than a $20 bill.

There are 2 banks with ATMs in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island, and an additional ATM at the Proinsular supermarket.

In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island, there is one bank with an ATM.

Most smaller shops, hotels and restaurants don't accept credit cards. Larger hotels and better restaurants may, but there is usually a 5-10% levy added to the bill for card payments. Where cards are accepted, VISA and MasterCard will work best. Very few businesses will accept American Express.

It's always wise to travel from the mainland with some cash. This prevents problems if you find your credit cards are not accepted for some reason, or if the local ATMs have run out of cash when you need one (with so few of them, this does happen at busy times of the year).

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Can I bring my own alcohol on a Galapagos Cruise?

Most yachts cruising Galapagos will prohibit you from taking your own alcoholic drinks on board. However, if you are tactful and subtle and drink your own alcohol in private on some evenings, but still buy drinks from the bar on others, then most crews will turn a blind eye to this. If you prefer to only drink your own alcohol, it would be more than fair to pay a corkage fee to the bar. However, if you are blatant about it then you can expect to run into trouble. The best is to ask the bar staff directly, wich solution would work out for both parties.

Boats have different pricing on alcohol, and you can find out more by checking out our article about alcoholic drinks. 

If you wish to have some or all drinks included on your Galapagos cruise, you can check out our cruises including wine and beer with the dinner, or even those offering all inclusive on board.

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Do I need a wetsuit for snorkeling or swimming in Galapagos?

The very short answer: It is not ultimately necessary to wear a wetsuit when swimming or snorkeling in Galapagos, but for the most enjoyable experience we stongly recommend you use one.

The longer answer: Snorkeling is one of the top activities that passengers look for during a Galapagos Cruise, and rightfully so! The wildlife under water is as unafraid of humans as the wildlife on the islands themselves. You won't need much luck and you might find yourself swimming with sea turtles, schools of rays, sharks, dolphins or even endemic species such as the amazing Galapagos penguins, marine iguana or flightless cormorant. It would be a shame if you had to get out of the water then because you were too cold! So, should you use a Galapagos snorkeling wetsuit?

Galapagos Water Temperatures:

From late May/June to December, the Humboldt Current brings cold, nutrient-rich waters to the Galapagos Islands. This water (especially during La Nina conditions) is a lot cooler but also more bountiful, so you might be able to see more animals under water. A wet suit is highly recommended for snorkeling sessions during this season.

  • Surface Water Temp. June – December: 70°F – 74°F (19°C - 23°C)
  • Air Temp. Highs June – December: 75°F – 80°F (23°C - 26°C)
  • Air Temp. Lows June – December: 66°F – 70°F (19°C - 21°C)

January through May is generally considered the warm season in Galapagos. Waters from the Panama Basin flow to Galapagos and bring along warmer temperatures, occasional rain and generally a bit more turbid waters. If you're used to swimming in a bit cooler waters you might not need a wetsuit during this season (although it does not hurt!)

  • Surface Water Temp. January – May: 73°F – 78°F (22°C - 25°C)
  • Air Temp. Highs January – May: 80°F – 87°F (25°C - 31°C)
  • Air Temp. Lows January – May: 70°F – 76°F (21°C - 24°C)

Click here for more information about the weather of the Galapagos.

Pro Tips:

  1. Inquire about the cost: If you're thinking about going on a Galapagos Cruise, please do inquire with our staff if the wetsuits on board are included or not. Some ships charge a small rental fee. In any case, please let us know your size so we can make sure to have a suit ready for you that fits you perfectly.

  2. Gentlemen, shave the space between upper lip and nose! From our experience, waring a beard is usually not a problem when wearing a snorkeling mask. Masks will only start leaking water if hair gets under the lip that presses the mask against your face, meaning on your temples, under your nose and on your front. A common trick is to wet-shave the bit under your nose every day, the rest of your mustache can stay as it is.

  3. Ask if the Galapagso Cruise Ship of your choice offers weight belts: The neoprene material in wet suits contains air and is therefore highly buoyant (floating). It is much harder to dive down when you are wearing a wet suit. If you're a good swimmer and are keen on diving down to explore cracks in the coral or to say hello to sleeping sharks, ask us for a weight belt.

  4. Bring your own mask: Most Galapagos Cruise ships provide free mask, tube and fins (only a few budget cruises in Galapagos charge a small daily rental fee for this). If you want to avoid this fee or have a mask yourself that fits perfectly take it so you can enhance your underwater vision and be more comfortable in it! Read the full answer

  5. Bring your own wetsuit: If you want to use a wet suit after or before your Galapagos Cruise, you could also consider bringing your own suit. A 3mm wet suit is enough and won't blow up your luggage uncecessarily (no need for 5mm). If you should decide to bring your our wet suits to Galapagos you could consider selling it off after your stay. We have heard that it is hard and expensive for dive shops to to purchase neopren suits from the mainland, so you might even do the locals a favor!

  6. Full Face Masks: In case you like full face masks, they're great! Some ships (please inquire) even offer them for free of for a small rent. Just be aware that those masks are made only for surface snorkeling, not for diving deep down. You'll feel immense pressure on your face because of the increased surface of the glass and will not be able to dive deeper than 1-2m.

Interested in Scuba Diving in Galapagos?

If you long to dive before or after any naturalist Galapagos Cruise, please inquire with our team. We can gladly help you organize a trip or find you a good diving school. Diving in Galapagos is highly recommended! If you're really serious about diving and have 50+ hours of experience (ideally in currents), then have a look at our Galapagos Diving Liveaboards - all visit the famous islands Darwin and Wolf which are widely considered to be two of the best spots in the entire world for diving!

![Snorkeling instruction on board the Samba in Galapagos: Wet Suits and Masks on the floor already]({{media url= "Snorkeling instruction on board the Samba in Galapagos: Wet Suits and Masks on the floor already")

Picture above: Snorkeling instruction on board the Samba in Galapagos. Note: The Wet Suits and Masks are on the floor, ready for the passengers to try on.

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Do you have a suggested packing list for a Galapagos cruise?

Indeed we do! When we receive your booking deposit we send all our clients a comprehensive suggested packing list and lots of other useful information about your time in Galapagos. Here's a brief summary of our suggested packing list to get the most from your time in the Galapagos.

Clothing

In Galapagos, the rule is to keep things informal. No matter how luxurious your cruise, the range of clothing you should bring is from "informal" to "very informal"! Remember, there is a weight limit of 44lb (20kg) per person for luggage when flying to Galapagos. If you are staying in Quito before and after your Galapagos trip then you may wish to arrange to leave some luggage with them while you cruise in Galapagos.

  • Good sneakers or walking shoes for dry landings and hiking on uneven and slippery surfaces. Good grip is essential.
  • Sandals or similar casual footwear for wet landings and evenings on the boat/in towns.
  • Shorts.
  • At least one pair light-weight pants.
  • Long sleeved and short sleeved lightweight shirts.
  • Bathing suits.
  • A wide-brimmed hat, preferably UV protective
  • Wind breaker or similar light jacket for cool evenings and rain.
  • Casual clothing for evenings, anything comfortable
  • Socks for your hiking shoes and sneakers and other personal items.

Other items

  • Camera, memory cards, batteries, battery charger
  • Sunscreen, and wear it
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellant
  • Small. lightweight daypack or backpack.
  • Water bottle
  • Binoculars
  • Copies of your passport, airline tickets and travel insurance.
  • We suggest carrying $400 "safety money" per person
  • A head-lamp or a small flashlight

Medicine and Miscellaneous

  • Seasickness medication or alternatives, such as ginger pills, acupressure bands, etc.
  • Any prescription medication you need to take
  • Prescription glasses, both regular and sunglasses (consider at least 1 spare pair)
  • Appropriate chargers for any electronic devices you bring with you.
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Can I charge my electronic devices on board a Galapagos cruise?

In short, yes! All of our Galapagos cruise vessels have 110V AC outlets that take the 2 prong electrical plug that is also used in North America.

More modern vessels will have electrical points in each cabin, some may even offer dedicated USB charging points. In older vessels, you may find outlets are available in the communal areas rather than in cabins.

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What do I need to take great photos of my time in Galapagos?

There is no doubt that photographs you take on your adventure to the Galapagos will be some of the most wonderful you ever will! There are a few tips that can make your shots even better.

First of all, make sure that you bring all the necessary equipment you will need. Check that you have a good, protective camera bag or case that contains:

  • Camera / DSLR camera body;
  • Extra memory cards - more than you think you'll need!
  • Extra batteries - more than you think you'll need!
  • Extra lenses for your DSLR. A good dedicated zoom lens is wonderful asset for wildlife photography;
  • Know how to use video mode on your camera - or bring a dedicated video camera;
  • Underwater camera housing, or a dedicated waterproof camera;
  • iPad or other smart device outfitted to download the great photos you take every day, though you will not have internet service
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Do I need a visa to go to Galapagos?

US, Canadian and Australian citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays of less than 90 days in Ecuador. Upon entry, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months. To enter Galapagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador.

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What diving equipment should I bring for my diving cruise?

We encourage you to bring your own equipment to the Galapagos wherever possible. As a minimum, you should bring your own dive watch and any dive gadgets you like to use. You should also bring a valve adapter suitable for DIN valves. Unless you prefer to dive with a weight-integrated belt, you won't need to bring your own weights and weight belt.

The water in Galapagos is a unique mix of warm and cold, thanks to the archipelago's location at the confluence of several currents. Water temperatures across dive sites you will visit can vary between around 18C up to 29C. Our recommendation is that you use a 5-7mm wetsuit with hood and booties all year round, particularly as water conditions in Galapagos are constantly changing.

Some dive equipment can be rented from your dive boat operator, but you MUST reserve this well in advance. Please do not travel assuming you will be able to hire everything you need if you have not had confirmation in advance - you may be left bitterly disappointed.

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Are Galapagos cruise yachts safe?

Absolutely. It is a legal requirement for all vessels operating Galapagos cruises and tours to have a current maritime safety certificate. This means all vessels comply fully with Ecuadorian maritime law.

You may find that some Ecuadorian standards are a little lower than those that would be applicable in the USA or Europe, but the fundamental safety and security of the boat operations is absolute, and our boats have an excellent safety record.

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Do I need health insurance for my Galapagos Cruise?

When you travel to Galapagos, an appropriate overseas health insurance with validity for Ecuador for the entire duration of your stay is not obligatory because the law has never come into effect but it is being strongly recommended.

Please don't travel without cover. Not only will you receive assistance in the event of a medical emergency whilst you are in Galapagos, you could also be denied entry to the country. Please make sure that your policy covers you for travel to all other countries you intend to visit during your trip and also covers you for activities like swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. If you are traveling on a diving cruise, then you will need specialist cover and should not rely on a standard travel policy.

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Can i use my blue cross blue shield health insurance from my federal job ?

Yes, if your insurance provides coverage outside of your country of residence you can use this insurance to cover your trip to Galapagos.

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Do I need to take any precautions to stay healthy in Galapagos?

At Galapatours we only work with boat operators who adhere to the highest standards of hygiene and food safety, and who only use the best equipment. Away from your cruise boat, we are unable to vouch for the practices of other service providers you may encounter, so you should take some sensible precautions.

On Board

The food, drink and ice provided on all our Galapagos cruise vessels is perfectly safe and can be enjoyed without worry. Bottled water is always provided, and we recommend you use this for brushing your teeth as the water from the taps in your cabin is, of course, stored in tanks for the duration of your journey.

Away from your cruise boat

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer;
  • Away from your Galapatours boat drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes in uncertain areas.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot unless your guide says it is fine to do so. This doesn't apply on board your yacht or on sandy Galapagos beaches;
  • Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors;
  • Don’t handle any animals, to avoid bites and serious diseases.
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Corona Virus (COVID-19) entry requirements to Galápagos

Last updated: 01. December 2021

The safety of the islanders and travelers continues to be the top priority of the Galápagos Islands. The following changes to the entry to Ecuador and the Islands, effective from Wednesday, 1. December 2021, have been made:

ATTENTION: Upon entering Galápagos, you will need a negative PCR-Test and proof of vaccination! Make sure you have with you:

  • proof of full vaccination showing complete series of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before entry (all vaccines and cross-vaccinations are accepted). Unvaccinated travelers over 16 will not be able to enter the Galápagos Islands. AND
  • proof of a negative PCR-test not older than 72 hours before entering the country for travelers over 2 years of age. This can be the same test certificate as for your arrival to Ecuador, as long as it is not older than 72 hours. Antigen tests are not accepted.

In addition, a Galápagos Transit Control Card will need to be purchased either online or at the airport before your departure to the islands.

Upon your arrival in Ecuador, the requirements are as follows:

  • proof of full vaccination showing complete series of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before entry (all vaccines and cross-vaccinations are accepted) Unvaccinated travelers over 16 will not be able to enter Ecuador. AND
  • proof of a negative PCR-test not older than 72 hours before entering the country for travelers over 2 years of age. Antigen tests are not accepted.
  • Entry to Ecuador is prohibited for travelers who started their journeys in or transited through the following countries: South Africa, Botswana, Egypt, Mozambique, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Namibia.

The following applies to all travelers: All travelers must carry a printed and filled out version of the health declaration form by the Ministry of Health. One form must be completed for each family group. You can download the form here. Health officials will also screen travelers for symptoms related to COVID-19. In the event of suspected cases, an on-site examination is required. If the result is positive, travelers must isolate themselves for 10 days in accommodation of their choice and at their own expense. If the test result is negative, the traveler can continue his journey. Separate requirements apply to travelers entering from Brazil or India. Furthermore, a transit control card must be filled out online or at the airport before the flight and proof of travel insurance must be presented.

Did you know that:

Galápagos, is a safe destination for everyone?

  • as of now, 99% of the population is vaccinated against Covid-19
  • there is an extremely low population density with only 1.5 person per mi2 (< Canada)
  • the Islands are highly regulated
  • all visiting sites are remote and uninhabited
  • there is only a limited number of travelers from a handful of nationalities allowed

That all boats are safe for travel?

  • small yachts hold only up to 16 to 20 guests and are ideal for small groups
  • most ships offer large cabins with balconies
  • there are comfortable, wide social areas throughout the ships
  • ships offer personalized service for all passengers
  • Covid-19 regulations on board allow travelers to feel safe and cared for

Please Contact Us if you have any questions or doubts.

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How can I find Last Minute Deals for Galapagos Cruises?

We have made it very easy for you to find great last minute deals on a Galapagos cruise. Simply check this page for Galapagos Last Minute Deals for Galapagos Cruises and set the search filter for your approximate departure dates, price and even category of ship (if you wish). Our prices are updated daily, meaning that you are always assured of the best late booking prices using our service.

Typically prices start to fall 1-2 months before a cruise's departure date. If spaces remain available rates may fall even further 1 week or less before a cruise departure date - sometimes discounts of up to 70% are available in the final days before the boat leaves.

However using this "wait and see" approach does carry with it a much greater risk - you may indeed get lucky and grab an awesome late deal, or you may be unlucky and find that no cruise options are available at such short notice.

It's for this reason that we strongly recommend you contact us well in advance if you wish to secure a cabin on the boat of your choice, or you have specific travel dates that you need to stick to. Unfortunately, we can neither guarantee that late price deals will be available, or that certain yachts will have the availability you need.

If you can, book early! If you need more information about booking a cruise in the Galapagos Islands then speak to one of our travel experts now who can advise you on all aspects of planning your trip.

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What is INGALA fee? What is the TCC? What is the TCT?

These are all the same thing! In short, this is a small fee that is paid to receive a "transit card" that authorises you to visit the Galapagos Islands, and ensures that you return again at the end of your trip.

Introduced in 2012 by INGALA, the Ecuadorian government department that administers the Galapagos, the Galapagos TCT is designed to help control unauthorised immigration to the islands, whose fragile ecosystems are already at risk from human activity.

You must go to the INGALA booth at the airport in Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) with your valid plane ticket to Galapagos. After paying the 20 USD administration fee you will receive your TCC ("Transit Control Card"), also known in Spanish as TCT Galapagos ("tarjeta de control de transito"). You then turn in your card at the end of the trip. The system tracks all non-resident movements into and out of Galapagos. In most of the cases it is possible to prebook this service if you have booked the national flights together with your Galapagos cruise. If you have prebooked this card, a ship representative will meet you at the airport and give you the Transit Control Card.

Please note the INGALA booth at the airport only accepts CASH payments and most importantly, please keep the Galapagos Transit Control Card safe for your flight back.

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How much baggage can I take to Galapagos?

On all flights to and from the Galapagos islands each passenger is permitted to take 50lb (23kg) of baggage that must be checked in. In addition, each passenger may have an item of carry-on luggage up to 17lb (8kg). Cabin baggage is often subject to maximum size restrictions - check with your airline before you arrive at the airport.

It is possible to buy excess baggage allowances, but only subject to the aircraft having sufficient load capacity. Expect to pay excess fees of $5 or more per additional 2lb (1kg).

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What is the SICGAL baggage check?

To protect the vulnerable and unique Galapagos habitats and wildlife, no non-native plant or animal species must be allowed to arrive on the archipelago. SICGAL is the government department responsible for ensuring the islands are protected in this way.

After you have received your TCT/TCC card at the airport in Ecuador, you should proceed to the SICGAL booth. There you will be asked to fill out a form and may have your luggage examined.

To make sure you don't have any trouble here, please do not attempt to travel with any foods other than small quantities of pre-wrapped snack items like chocolate bars or similar, and certainly don't have any plants or plant materials in your bags. Once checked, you will receive an approval label to attach to your bags, and you can then make your way to your airline check in.

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What is the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee?

The Galapagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. The Galapagos entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (reduced to 50 USD for children under 12 years old). This fee must be paid, in cash, at the your airport of arrival. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to leave the terminal - so please make sure you have the means to pay the Galapagos entrance fee! If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information. Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

Some people have expressed surprise about paying a Galapags park "entry fee" simply to set foot on the islands, but the proceeds of this entrance fee do go directly into the ongoing conservation, protection and management of the islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

![Chart- Entrance Fee]({{media url= "Distribution of the entrance fee")

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How long does it take to get to the Galapagos Islands?

Flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from Quito or Guayaquil on the mainland of Ecuador. The flight time from Quito is around 3 hours and around 1 hour from Guayaquil. Three airlines currently serve Galapagos - Avianca, TAME and LATAM.

A selection of international flight times to Quito include:

  • From Miami - around 5 hours (direct flights operated by American Airlines)
  • From Los Angeles - around 10 hours (no direct flights)
  • From London - around 15 hours (all flights have at least 1 stopover in either Miami or Bogota)
  • From Sydney - around 24 hours (all flights have at least 1 stopover in LA, Dallas or Santiago)
  • From Amsterdam - around 12 hours (direct flights operated by KLM)
  • From Paris - around 12 hours (direct flights operated by Air France)
  • From Berlin - around 15 hours (no direct flights)

The schedule of these flights means you'll be unlikely to make a connection direct to Galapagos. Most of our guests choose to stay overnight in either Guayaquil or Quito at either end of their Galapagos adventure. This is a nice way to relax before and after the wonders of Galapagos. Ask us for advice on Ecuador hotels when you book your cruise with us.

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What are the entry requirements for Galapagos?

Travel Documents:

Do you need a visa for Galapagos islands?

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Ecuador, which simplifies entry into the country. However, a passport valid for at least six more months at the date of entry to Ecuador is essential. If this is not the case, you will not be allowed to enter the country and you will need to fly back to the airport you flew from. Also, holders of passports that show an extreme amount of wear and tear can be refused entry. Please note that every traveler is responsible to check the individual visa restrictions for his/ her nationality.

Upon entering the country of Ecuador, you will be given a visa stamp, which permits you to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days. Sanctions including fines and deportation can occur if you stay past this time period. You will also need to show proof of departure from Ecuador to customs and immigration as you arrive in the country; this can simply be a return or onward airline ticket. To enter Galapagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador. Click here fore more info on this topic.

Similarlly, you don't need a visa for Galapagos Islands from UK, Germany, and most other European countries.

Health insurance + Hotel bookings + Flight tickets

A health insurance coverage is not obligatory to enter the Galapagos islands because the law has never come into effect but we strongly recommended it. Upon entering Ecuador, you must be able to proof that you will be leaving the country by producing a bus or flight ticket, as well as hotel bookings or a cruise booking for your entire stay in Galapagos and Ecuador. If you stay at a friends' place you need an invitation letter wich prooves your stay. Please don't hesitate to ask us if you have any questions regarding these entry requirements!

There is a possibility that key-point checks may be carried out in the migration process and proof of this must be provided in English on the spot. Please click here for more more detailed advice on insurance for a Galapagos Cruise. 

Entrance Fee

Upon arriving in Galapagos, you will have to pay a 100 USD National Park entrance fee. Only cash payment will be accepted. Please make sure that the bills are not torn. This fee is for the national park and is used for the maintanance of paths, helps the local community and supports projects focusing on educational, environmental, sport, health and tourism topics. Please feel free to check the Galapagos National Parc Website for more Info on their local projects.

Also, your passport will be checked, as your luggage for organic goods (to avoid biohazards caused by fruit flies, bacteria or similar). Please keep the receipt of the entrance fee, you may need to show it before you go on bord the ship.

Immigration Control

There is also a 20 USD immigration control card that is payable to INGALA at Quito or Guayaquil airport and is only payable in cash. The reason why this is necessary to enter Galapagos, is because the ecuadorian immigration department needs to register the number of tourists and wants to control illegal immigration. Please keep this Transit Control Card until the end of your Galapagos stay, as it will be checked upon you departure.

Vaccinations

At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galapagos trip.

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My flight is delayed. How can I contact the ship?

If your flight is delayed, if you cannot find your guide at the airport or if you can't make it to the meeting point in time, please call the emergency number of your ship to let the crew know. Here you can find all emergency numbers of Galapagos cruise ships.

In case you have bought your flights through us there is no need to worry. We have let the ship know which flights you are booked on and the ship's crew knows if your flight has experienced a delay. In case you have booked your flights to and from Galapagos yourself and your flight experiences a big delay, we cannot guarantee that the ship will wait for you. According to our terms and conditions you will be running the risk of missing your cruise, without right to reimbursement.

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Do I need to worry about personal safety and security in Galapagos?

On a Galapatours cruise you will be completely safe. All our crews are 100% trustworthy and for safety we operate an "open door" policy on all our boats, meaning no one locks their cabin doors.

Our expert naturalist guides will ensure you don't get yourself into any dangerous situations involving cliffs or other natural hazards, although you are expected to be sensible and be responsible for your own welfare when you are on excursions.

Elsewhere in the islands, crime is rare and people feel very safe. For additional reassurance, tourism police regularly patrol the main tourist destinations. Nevertheless, you should always use common sense in Galapagos and take appropriate precautions, such as securing valuables and keeping cash and cards out of sight.

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What is the electricity voltage used in Galapagos?

As throughout the rest of Ecuador, the standard electricity supply in Galapagos operates at 100v AC, 60Hz, using flat 2 pin plugs. This is the same supply voltage and plug type found in the USA, so American visitors won't normally require an adapter or transformer.

All of the Galapatours cruises offer 110V outlets on board, so you will be able to charge your cameras and electronics. Some vessels also offer dedicated 5V USB outlets, and vessels that were constructed in Europe may also offer additional 230V outlets. Check the amenities listing for our Galapagos cruise vessels to be sure.

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How much are drinks on a Galapagos Cruise?

The vast majority of boats provide water, teas and coffee at no charge. Almost all boats will charge extra for alcoholic drinks. Prices differ from boat to boat. Our Galapagos team has personally visited every boat that we offer on our portal, and they have rarely found cocktails to be more expensive than $12. Beers are usually around $5 to $8. For a good quality bottle of wine, calculate something around $50. Prices are certainly more expensive on the First Class and Luxury cruises.

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Are there ATM machines in Galapagos? What are banking hours in Galapagos?

There are 2 banks with ATMs in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island, and an additional ATM at the Proinsular supermarket.

In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island there is one bank with an ATM.

Most ATMs will limit your withdrawals to $300 per day.

Banking hours in Galapagos are 09:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday.

Ask your Galapatours guide for assistance in locating a bank or ATM if you need one.

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What is the high season in Galapagos?

One of our most frequently asked questions is: "When is the best time to visit Galapagos?" Our answer? More or less any time!

As a true year-round destination, the High and Low Seasons in the Galapagos islands are dictated by the schedule of their visitors and not necessarily by the weather situation. You may feel that the best time of year to visit Galapagos is linked to how busy (or not) it might be. The most popular times to travel to Galapagos are at Easter time, July and August, and Christmas and New Year. These times are when the Galapagos see their highest tourist numbers. Therefore, it is higly recommendable to book in advance during those periods, in order to be certain to have your cabin on board of our ships.

In terms of the habitats and creatures you can discover, there really isn't a "better" season and there's certainly no such thing as a best time to visit Galapagos to see wildlife. Being equatorial, there are always species mating, nesting and hunting at all times of the year, and Galapags wildlife is always active!

Some of the yachts do have their own definitions of a high and low season, and offer different prices accordingly. Other yachts offer the same pricing the whole year through. Check the individual Galapagos boat listings for each different definition. To discover more about the weather you can expect to find, or to learn about sea conditions and the best time to visit Galapagos for diving, click the following to find out more.

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Do you have any hotel recommendations for Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristóbal, Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands offer an intimate experience for travelers - you won't find any huge all-inclusive hotel resorts for example! However, just because the islands are remote and small it doesn't mean they lack delightful hotels and guest houses. Here are our recommendations for where to stay on San Cristobal island before or after your wonderful Galapagos cruise.

Hotel Mar: This is a hotel that we recommend to all our customers - we stay here ourselves and know it well. This is not a luxury hotel, but it is fresh and bright, and the service is very welcoming and friendly. Breakfast is a particular highlight - it's delicious and plentiful and sets you up for a nice walk to the center of Puerto Baquierzo Moreno (the capital of San Cristobal), which is just a few minutes away. The hotel is happy to pick you up from the airport or drop you back there. If you're traveling light you can even walk to it in about 15 minutes!

Casa Playa Man: This Galapagos hotel is only 20m from the beach. This charming building boasts a small fitness center, BBQ facilities and free guest Wi-Fi. Each room is air-conditioned and has flat-screen cable TV, a minibar and a coffee machine, and all have private bathrooms. After a cruise, their laundry service can be a welcome option (available at an extra cost). There are restaurants and bars less than 5 minutes' walk away.

Stefany's Lodging House: Despite its rather lowly-sounding name this is a great hotel with its own outdoor pool and terrace, just 3 minutes' walk from the coast. Rooms are air-conditioned and all feature cable TV, minibar and a balcony, as well as private bathroom. Every room has either a sea view or a pool view from their balcony. You can enjoy sea view or pool view from your room. Other facilities include Wi-Fi throughout, a 24-hour front desk and a snack bar, a tourist information desk and meeting facilities.

Los Algarrobos: This Galapagos hotel is just 100 yards from the beach. Guests enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning and free WiFi across the site. The air-conditioned rooms feature TVs, closets, cool tiled floors and private bathrooms. There is a communal terrace for relaxing with views over the city. A 24-hour snack area serves coffee, tea, water, chocolate and other light refreshments. Restaurants and shops are no more than a 5 minute walk away.

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Is there internet or WiFi access on a Galapagos Cruise?

Wifi in Galapagos should be considered intermittant at best wherever you go! Most Galapagos cruises do not offer internet access or Wi-Fi on board. There are a few Galapagos Cruise ships, however, that do offer internet service on board, mostly at a (sometimes hefty) charge. Click here to see all those Galapagos Cruises that offer internet / Wi-Fi. For the exact cost of this service please inquire with our team, we'll be very glad to help!

Tip: We are often asked "is there wifi on the Galapagos islands?" If you need internet connectivity during your Galapagos Cruise or when staying on the islands, we recommend you purchase an Ecuadorian SIM card with an internet package. With this you can get a useful signal when staying in or sailing close to towns (for example Puerto Villamil, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Ayora). If you do, you should then be able to connect your other devices using a feature that most modern smartphones have known as "tethering" or "mobile hotspot", which lets you use your phone as a wifi router. Please click here to find out more about which cell phone operator will offer the best internet in Galapagos.

Remember, though, that one of the delights of your adventure to Galapagos is the remoteness of the islands and the absence of distractions from your everyday life! To discover these incredibly beautiful, remote islands for yourself, check out our free Galapagos Cruise planner! Our Galapagos Cruise experts will be happy to help you with your planning for the ultimate adventure!

![The last bits of internet before setting sail, Galapagos Cruise]({{media url= "The last bits of internet before setting sail, Galapagos Cruise")

Picture above: When setting sail and leaving for the remote parts of the Galapagos Islands, you'll notice how the crew of your ship will make a few phone calls, while there is still internet. This picture was taken on board the Samba North-West Cruise on the dawn of Day 1, after having visited Mosquera Islet and when setting sail for Genovesa Island.

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How do I get from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island?

We recommend taking a short flight. Local air taxi operator Emetebe operates a fleet of Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft. These usually have a strict weight limit for checked baggage of 20 lbs per person, and the carry-on limit is 5lb. Excess weight fees can be paid, but for heavy bags you may need to purchase two seats to ensure it can all travel with you. 

Prices vary but are usually around 220$ per person, and take about an hour from boarding to arrival. We recommend this option as the most convenient and the most scenic. We are happy to book your internal flights for you, just let our Galapagos experts know when you contact us.

There is a cheaper option, but it is somewhat more complicated and takes a lot longer… Your first task is to get to Santa Cruz by taking the bus from the airport to the channel that separates Baltra from Santa Cruz. There are free airline buses that operate on this 10 minute journey after each aircraft arrival. The channel crossing is easy via the private or government-operated ferries - these cost either $2 or $1 per person.

Once ashore on Santa Cruz you need to take a taxi on the 27 mile trip to Puerto Ayora you will need to take a taxi costing about $25. Once in Puerto Ayora, there are two fast ferries a day, one leaves at 7am (you won't be able to catch this one as it leaves before all international flights arrive) and one leaving at 2pm. You will need to hurry to catch this one as you must arrive 30 minutes prior to departure to have your bags inspected by SICGAL for any organic goods. They must have an official SICGAL tag before they are allowed to be put onboard. There can be a long wait in line for this. Once on board, the fast ferry makes the journey in around 3 hours, and you will arrive at about 5pm. Rather than buying tickets at the ferry dock we highly recommend buying in advance. If the fast ferry is fully booked you will need to wait overnight before you can try again. We can arrange to book your advance tickets for you, just ask us for more information when you book your cruise.

We can't recommend the fast ferry option because the timing is very tight to get from your flight to catch the afternoon sailing, and you won't arrive in San Cristobal until the early evening. It's not the most relaxing start to your adventure and takes up a whole day, but if you are traveling on a strict budget this might be the way to stick to it. Our Galapagos experts will be pleased to give you the full pros and cons of both option, just call us now to discuss your needs and budget and we'll find a way to make it happen for you.

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What language is spoken in Galapagos?

The official language of Ecuador (and therefore Galapagos) is Spanish. However, English is widely spoken and understood at hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. You will find that almost everyone involved in hosting you during your Galapatours cruise speaks English, and you will be able to ask questions about the islands and their wildlife without any problem.

However, not all crewmembers on Galapatours cruises speak fluent English. We do make sure that our naturalist guides and our hospitality managers have excellent English, but we believe in supporting the local economy and reducing the impact of immigration on the islands. This means that where possible we prefer boat operators that hire local residents.

As with all overseas travel, if you try and speak a few words of the local language now and again then your efforts will be well-received. Taking simple Spanish phrasebook with you, or using an electronic translator on your smart device, is a worthwhile addition to your luggage. If you do rely on some form of electronic translation then do make sure you download any required language packs before you arrive in Galapagos, as internet access can be difficult to find on the archipelago!

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What kind of food can I expect on a Galapagos Cruise?

The food on our Galapagos Cruises is among the very best you will find in South America. Most of the on-board chefs are internationally trained and have prior experience working in the best hotels and restaurants in Ecuador and indeed around the world.

You can expect a first-class selection of food, including a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, locally sourced poultry and fish/seafood, rice and pasta dishes. Most boats will always include some typical Ecuadorian dishes on the menu during your cruise. If you have specific dietary requirements then these can usually be accommodated by the chef providing you have given advance notice. Please make sure you tell us about any allergies or dietary requirements you have at the time you book with us. If you leave it until you arrive at the dockside then it may well be impossible to accommodate your needs.

Most boats serve a range of options at meal times in a relaxed buffet-style. At the first class and luxury end of the market, some boats have more formal dining where you will be served at your seat. However the atmosphere is always relaxed on board out cruises and never stuffy or formal.

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What is the weather in Galapagos like? When should I best travel?

The Galápagos Islands are a year-round vacation option, there isn't really a "best time" to travel. All seasons are (almost) equally apt for a trip to Galápagos. The weather in Galápagos is regulated by the upwelling of cold water currents from the west and south (mainly the Humboldt Current) and their mixing with warm water streams from the north (mainly the Panama Stream and El Niño current). This means that the Galápagos climate is uncharacteristically dry and moderate for the tropics, and is generally classified as subtropical. This means that the weather on the Galápagos Islands is warm and weather is considered equatorial and is characterized by two main seasons:

 

December to May: The warm / rainy season

During this warmer season, the Galápagos weather is more tropical with occasional, short showers and sunny skies. The sea is at its warmest, due to the warm Panama current, and is usually calmer at this time of year - great for swimming and snorkeling. During the warm season in Galápagos, the Panama Stream is predominant and brings warm waters to the Archipelago. This water, however, is less rich in nutrients than during the dry season and less clear, so you might see fewer animals in the water than from June to November.

June to November: The dry season

The dry season (also called the "Garúa Season") is known for its blue skies and mid-day showers. Air temperature is lower, with highs in the upper 70°Fs or mid-80°Fs (25-30°C). The strong Antarctic Humboldt Current, coming from the south, strongly affects the Galápagos weather at this time of year. The water temperature, therefore, is at its coolest, at about 68°F (20°C). Along with cooler weather and clearer waters, the Antarctic Humboldt Current also brings more nutrient-rich waters to Galápagos, which attract large sea mammals such as whales and dolphins.

Recapping, we can only repeat, that the Galápagos really are a year-round destination. Don't be fooled into thinking either season might be significantly better than the other!

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How do I get from Baltra Airport to Puerto Ayora?

If you are taking an independent transfer you need to board the airline bus ($5 per passenger) that heads for the Itabaca Canal that separates Baltra Airport from Santa Cruz (NOT the service for Baltra dock). The buses are always crowded, but there is luggage space underneath. If we are doing your transfer your driver will handle your bags so you just need to take your seat and relax.

It is approximately a 10 minute ride to Itabaca Canal. Here you will take a water taxi to cross the channel. Sometimes you'll catch the ferry operated by the city government which costs $1 per passenger. The private ferry, a smaller boat, is $2 per passenger. Bags go on top of the ferry, and you go inside. The crossing takes about 5 minutes.

Interesting fact: In mid 2017, they installed brand new solar-powered ferries here. Completely noiseless, they are the first of this kind we have ever seen!

From the Canal it's 26 miles (42km) to Puerto Ayora up and over the Highlands of Santa Cruz and through the delightfully cool scalesia forest. There will be taxis waiting to offer you their services. It is $20-25 from the Canal into town. Services from the airport with assistance are $35. All taxis are pick up trucks, often Toyota HiLux or Nissan Frontier. They accommodate 4 people who can all share the price.

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How do I get from Puerto Ayora to Baltra Airport?

In Puerto Ayora, you can stop any taxi and ask the driver if they can take you to the Itabaca channel ("el canal Itabaca"). Taxis are are usually white pickup trucks, often Toyota HiLux or Nissan Frontier vehicles. They can accommodate up to 4 people who can all share the price - around $25.

From central Puerto Ayora to the channel is a 26 mile (42 km) trip up and over the Highlands of Santa Cruz and through the delightfully cool scalesia forest. Once at the channel, board a ferry or take a water taxi to cross over. Depending on when you arrive you may be able to catch the ferry operated by the city government, which costs $1 per person. The private ferry boat costs $2 per person. Bags get stowed on top of the ferry, passengers go inside.

Once you arrive at the other side of the channel you can board an airline bus direct to the airport terminal. The ride costs 5$ per person. Baggage is stowed in the locker below and you climb aboard. Note that these buses are always very crowded, but the journey time to Baltra airport is less than 10 minutes, so don't worry.

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What are the differences between a cruise and a hotel-based tour?

Cruise: Pick a cruise if you are serious about seeing the variety the Galapagos has to offer, and you want to experience the outer, more remote islands. Most cruises offer very impressive itineraries, and because most of the sailing takes place at night you are able to spend much more time visiting the islands and doing activities during the day than on any land-based day trip.

On a cruise, a naturalist guide leads all of your tours and an experienced crew attends to your needs onboard, including the provision of great international cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As well as providing a place to relax on deck and enjoy the sunset with a cocktail, most cruises also offer evening presentations about conservation, cultural history, or other important Galapagos information.

Hotel-based tour: Because they are more limited in scope, these tend to be a bit more affordable (allow about $250-$300 for a one-day excursion) and are definitely better suited to people that are prone to sea sickness or who have more limited mobility (however, most modern cruise boats can accommodate people with minor disabilities or additional needs - contact us to discuss your requirements). Most people choose a land-based tour either because they left it too late to book their cruise of choice, or because of budget considerations.

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Why do Galapagos cruises have fixed itineraries?

The Galapagos Islands are a travel destination unlike any other. The entire archipelago forms the largest marine reserve in the Americas, and the islands themselves all belong to the Galapagos National Park. Because of the unique wildlife and habitats found in Galapagos, there is a real need to protect the waters and islands for future generations.

Galapagos tourism is highly regulated, and the number of boats, visitors and visitor sites are strictly limited. All vessels authorised to operate tourist cruises must submit pre-planned itineraries to the National Park authorities for approval, and once approved they must be strictly adhered to.

Although designed to minimise any damage caused by tourism, these restrictions actually benefit visitors. By limiting the ratio of visitors to each naturalist guide, and by restricting the number of vessels able to use visitor sites at one time, you benefit from a much more intimate experience than would otherwise be possible.

At Galapatours we choose boats with itineraries that have been designed to maximize your experience of the Galapagos. We reject any itineraries which favor ease of navigation or any other factor not directly related to your enjoyment of the archipelago. Many vessels offer more than one itinerary, and they will rotate from one to the other. There are also specialist dive itineraries available.

Whatever your requirements, call us now and speak to one of our Galapagos experts. By letting us know what you are looking for out of your Galapagos experience we will be able to match you with the perfect boat and the perfect itinerary for your trip of a lifetime.

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How do I get from San Cristobal Airport to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno?

The airport on San Cristóbal is less than 5 minutes drive from the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. You can simply jump into one of the taxis that wait outside the terminal. This will cost only $2-$4 per taxi (not per person). If you are traveling light and feel like stretching your legs, you can walk to the furthest part of town from the terminal in about 25 minutes!

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What does a typical day on a Galapagos Cruise look like?

The highlights of being in the Galapagos are the excursions, where you will set off on your yacht's panga - a sturdy inflatable raft that takes you quickly and safely to and from the shore. On arrival, your naturalist guide takes over, pointing out each island's unique species and geological wonders. Galapatours naturalist guides are among the very best in the islands, and their knowledge and experience is second to none. No guidebook can prepare you for the thrilling experience of walking among the islands' wildlife, discovering how they have adapted and photographing them from a few feet away.

Every day you will enjoy at least one excursion, which may include activities such as exploring on foot, kayaking, snorkeling with equipment provided by the crew or taking a panga to explore the islands' hidden coastal treasures in the shallows. Our expertise and intimate knowledge of the islands means there are plenty of private landings on beaches and coves where you can simply relax and enjoy the sites and sounds of the Galapagos.

The fun does not end when you return from your excursion. At night, clear skies make for spectacular stargazing and your boat's sundeck can turn into the biggest planetarium you will have ever visited! Your on-board naturalists also offer nightly presentations about the islands' history, geography or wildlife. There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions, and there is also plenty of time to relax over dinner and drinks with your fellow travellers.

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What is the tipping recommendation in Galapagos?

The most important thing to remember is to never feel pressured to give any particular amount - tips are never an obligation but should be given as a reward to staff for good service. You can discuss tips with fellow passengers - many groups end up pooling tips to be split between the guide and the crew. If anyone gives you exceptional service then it would be appropriate to give an additional personal tip. Also, it's worth noting that Galapagos guides actually receive an extremely high wage in comparison to the average Ecuadorian income. 

As a general guide, Galapatours consider the following amounts to be suitable for tips (suggested amounts are per passenger and to be split according to personal preference between guide and crew): 

Budget or Mid-Price Galapagos cruise

4 days - $40-$50

5 days - $50-$70

8 days - $80-$120

First-Class and Luxury Galapagos Cruise

4 days - $50-$75

5 days - $75-$100

8 days - $120-$150

Very rarely, the boat guide or captain may pressure passengers to tip more than this, but we urge our clients only to give what they feel to be appropriate and not to feel uneasy if giving less than is suggested.

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Is snorkeling equipment included on a Galapagos cruise?

The vast majority of our vessels will have standard snorkels, face masks and fins for you to use free of charge. Please check the "amenities" section of your ship for full details on exactly what equipment is included, and what carries an additional charge.

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Where does my Galapagos Cruise start? How do I find the ship?

All Galapagos Cruises start with a transfer from one of the islands' airports - either Baltra Airport or San Cristóbal Airport.

We highly recommend that you buy your flights to and from Galapagos from us at the same time that you book your cruise. This means that we can coordinate your arrival with the boat operators directly. By booking all our passengers onto the same flight it means you will all transfer together, and you can start your cruise experience straight away! 

Once you arrive at the airport in Galapagos your guide will already be waiting for you at arrivals and will pick you up from there. Transport to the ship, lunch, etc. is all included from here on, and there's no waiting around for all passengers to arrive separately! Because we book so many places to and from Galapagos, our flight prices are at least as competitive as booking with the airline direct, and most of the time they are actually cheaper. Ask us for a price for flights when you inquire about your cruise.

If you are flying in independently then you will need to arrange your own transfers from the relevant airport to the ship. You will need to transfer from Baltra Airport to Puerto Ayora, and from San Cristobal Airport to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

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What is the smoking policy on a Galapagos Cruise?

The smoking policy varies ship by ship. The primary concern is passenger safety, and all boats will prohibit smoking in cabins, corridors and all inside spaces of their vessels.

Some boats will permit smoking on outside decks, but please be mindful of the comfort of non-smoking guests. Some Galapagos cruise vessels may have a designated smoking area.

Please respect the unique and endangered habitat of the Galapagos islands and their surrounding oceans and dispose of any cigarette butts and packaging appropriately, and never throw items into the see or leave anything during a land excursion.

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What activities can I do on a Galapagos cruise?

All cruises in Galapagos operate to itineraries that are fixed and approved by the National Park. Most cruises will offer a range of land-based and water-based activities that you will enjoy at various points in your cruise including:

  1. Snorkeling (from ship or beaches)
  2. Panga rides (the local name for the small boats that transfer you from ship to shore, or used to explore the mangroves)
  3. Kayaking
  4. Diving (on ships with diving itineraries)
  5. Land excursions (including hiking trails, visitor centers, drives to inland sites, time relaxing on beaches, etc)
  6. Naturalist presentations. These usually take place every evening - on board the bigger ships also with help of microscopes 

All boats must carry a bilingual, certified, level 3 (the highest level) guide. They will lead you on your excursions, allowing you to learn as much as possible about the unique wildlife and habitats of the Galapagos Islands.

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Which Galapagos Islands should I visit?

Every island in the Galapagos archipelago is unique and wonderful, with breathtaking vistas and remarkable wildlife. Not all the islands are open for visitors to land on, to protect their priceless habitats, but even these often provide stunning coastlines with wonderful birdlife that can be explored by boat.

Here are some of our highlights of the islands in Galapagos:

Genovesa

A paradise for bird-lovers, with opportunities to see a wide variety of species, including red-footed boobies. Stunning cliff-top views and tidal pools, home to friendly sea lions.

Fernandina

The youngest Galapagos island, Fernandina has stunning volcanic landscapes and is home only to unique, native species. See marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos flightless cormorants, and Galapagos sea lions.

North Seymour

The arid vegetation of North Seymour is home to land and marine iguanas, and has perfect nesting conditions for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.

Floreana

Famous for its colorful human history, Floreana was the first Galapagos island to be permanently inhabited. A high point is to visit Post Office Bay, where you can continue the tradition of sending and delivering letters left in a barrel since 1793.

Bartholomew

Bartholomew (or Bartolome) is renowned for providing the most stunning views in Galapagos. As well as snorkeling with penguins and sea lions, you can take in the magnificent Pinnacle Rock - perhaps the most photographed and filmed landmark on the archipelago.

Isabela

You could follow in Charles Darwin's footsteps with a visit to Darwin Lake at Tagus Cove, steeped in buccaneer history. Wonderful snorkeling here, and many sea bird species.

South Plaza

South Plaza boasts a remarkable cactus forest and the only place on earth where the Galapagos hybrid iguana exists. A great place to spoke tropicbirds, nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies and many other species. 

Espanola

The oldest island in the Galapagos, Espanola is a haven for bird life, with sea birds adorning its towering cliffs that rise from the crashing surf. It's also home to the unique and critically endangered Galapagos waved albatross, whose beautiful mating dance can be observed here.

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Do you organize Scuba Diving Day trips in Galapagos?

We offer both, naturalist cruises where you will enjoy plenty of excursions to the islands and diving cruises to Wolf, Darwin and some other incredible diving spots in the Galapagos Islands. Please click on the links to find all offers for Naturalist Cruises or Galapagos Diving Cruises. 

If you are looking for one-day diving excursions, we recommend a cruise on Legend or Coral. On those two ships you can add a dive-day which would take place before the cruise departure.

If you are planning a stay in Puerto Ayora we would very much recommend the diving school "Academy Bay" near the pear. There are quite a few diving schools in Galapagos, but they are the best, by far.

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What can I do in San Cristóbal?

San Cristobal is a lovely island to visit at the start or end of your Galapatours cruise around the archipelago. Officially the capital "city" of the Galapagos, the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a delightful place to base yourself and is the gateway to some wonderful locations on the island. Here are a few of our recommendations of what to see and do during a stay in San Cristobal.

1. Visit Puerto Baquerizo Moreno itself

This is a wonderful town to stroll around. The main attraction is the town beach - but it's not for people! The beach here is the only one in the world that we know of that is reserved only for sea lions! The Galapagos sea lions are treated like citizens of the town, and as well as congregating on the beach in their hundreds, they can often be seen sitting on benches, on boats or on the steps!

There's nothing better than a walk through town to the shore, spotting marine iguanas sunbathing on the seawall and red crabs scuttling over the rocks. You really can't miss seeing and hearing the sea lions and their friendly barks and shouts.  Need a break? Our personal recommendation is to enjoy an ice-cold batido de mora (berry milkshake) and some rich, stodgy cake from Mary’s Cakes & Coffee. Tell them we sent you!

2. Tortoise Breeding Center - "Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado"

Just a few miles down the main cross-island road is, in our opinion, the most "natural" of the giant tortoise sanctuaries in Galápagos. Adult tortoises are left here to roam completely freely, so you'll sometimes have to hunt around in the brush and thickets of the sanctuary to find one! "Hunt the Tortoise" is our favorite game here - our record is 11 found on one visit - see if you can beat that. There is also a working breeding center here and you will be able to see young and "teen-aged" tortoises as well as the mature veterans - although in giant tortoise terms teen-aged means 30 or 40 years old!

You'll need to take a taxi from town to visit here, this should cost around $10.

3. La Loberia

Over the other side of the airport, about a 40 minute walk, 15 minute cycle ride, or 5 minute taxi ride is the beach at La Loberia. This is a lovely little cove to spend a few hours watching the marine iguanas from the shore or snorkeling in the water with the friendly sea lions. If you've got more energy there is hiking trail that goes from the beach up to the nearby cliffs. From here you'll have superb views along the coast and back over the unspoilt wilderness of the island interior. We think it would be a shame to come here and not follow this particular trail.

4. Puerto Chino

This is a small but beautiful bay with crystal clear calm waters. A favorite getaway for locals and tourists alike.

5. Centro de Interpretación

This is the official Visitor Center for Galapagos, and it's a great place to learn about the islands. Not only can you discover all about its unique wildlife and habitats and the efforts to protect and conserve them, but also about the geological history of the Galapagos born from fiery volcanos, and the interesting human history too.

The center is just a 15 minute walk from town, and in our opinion it's superior to the more famous and frequently visited Charles Darwin Research Center. Definitely one to visit during your stay.

6. Punto Carola and Playa Cabo de Horno

These gorgeous twin beaches are also known collectively as "Lovers Beach", and they are exactly what you would expect from a Galapagos beach - pristine white sands, gentle Pacific surf, sea lions playing in the shallows, and marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks. If the tides are right and the surf a little higher, it's a great place to go surfing. However, as we're all very romantic, we think this is the best place in Galapagos to watch the sun set with someone special beside you.

If sunset from the sandy beach isn't romantic enough for you, you can always hike the nearby path that leads to the summit of Cerro Tijeratas for an even more enchanting view from above.

The beach is only accessible on foot, but it's easy to find from town - just follow the path to the Centro de Interpretación where another path will lead you here.

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What time is it in Galapagos?

The Galapagos islands are 6 hours behind GMT (GMT -6). Mainland Ecuador is 5 hours behind GMT (GMT-5).

There is no daylight saving time on Galapagos.

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What animals am I likely to see during a Galapagos diving cruise?

In a word, many! Highlights for most divers are the huge numbers of large pelagic species, particularly the schools of Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks - sometimes huge in number. Galapagos Sharks and White-tip Reef Sharks are also frequently encountered. Other species you will see a variety of Rays including the famous Manta Ray, Galapagos Sea Turtles, Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Fur Seals, and schools of tuna, jack and snapper.

Dolphins and whale sharks are also regularly spotted on dives, and it's always great fun to head to the shallows and snorkel with the Galapagos Penguins and the Marine Iguanas!

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Should I use cash or credit cards in Galapagos?

The Galapagos islands operate mainly on cash, the US dollar being the official currency since 2000. Please note, though, that $100 bills are NOT readily accepted anywhere in the islands. You may even find it difficult to change $100 bills in the banks on Galapagos.

Because of this, we recommend you carry cash in smaller denominations, and you assume that you will be using cash for all your purchases while you are in Galapagos.

Although widely accepted in mainland Ecuador, credit cards can only be used at a handful of businesses in the Galapagos (including tourist shops and upmarket restaurants and hotels), but not as a matter of course. Where they are accepted, credit card transactions often attract a surcharge to your bill of up to 10%. Please note that none of our boats can accept credit cards as payment for equipment hire or your bar tab.

There are only a few ATMs on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, and these usually restrict withdrawals to a maximum of $300 per day. You may also find that your issuing bank declines your card on first use in Galapagos as a precaution, particularly if you have not informed them of your travel plans. This can require an overseas call in order to release your card.

For all these reasons we strongly recommend you travel to Galapagos with cash, in bills smaller than $100, to avoid any unnecessary stress or complications.

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Will I see blue-footed boobies on my Galapagos cruise?

Almost certainly! Galapatours clients tell us that the Galapagos Blue-Footed Booby is one of their favorite wildlife encounters from the islands. The Galapagos currently has around 20,000 breeding pairs of Blue-Footed Booby and they are permanently resident. They breed throughout the year, and because they nest on the ground they are easy to see, and even to get close to on a land excursion from one of our Galapagos cruises.

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What is it like diving in Galapagos?

In a word, amazing! However, diving around the Galapagos Islands is a little more challenging because of the presence of some strong currents, slightly colder water temperatures, and the rugged undersea terrain.

All Galapagos diving is done from diving platforms or from a dinghy (known locally as a "panga"). Diving from a panga can be a physical challenge for some, although it does provide access to some of the best dive sites in the world.

Because of these circumstances, diving in Galapagos is certainly not for beginners or for those who may struggle with the conditions - most cruises will require you to have your Advanced Open Water qualification and at least 30 logged dives. However, for those who do fit the bill, it's a diving trip not to be missed - particularly thanks to the large number of sharks and large pelagic fish you will encounter.

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What happens if my Galapagos cruise ship has a breakdown?

All boats in the Galapatours fleet are maintained to a very high standard, with many being purpose-built for Galapagos cruising and only a few years old. All boats carry an engineer as part of the crew, and because of this, anything more than a minor breakdown that is quickly fixed is rare.

In the unlikely event of something major occurring the boat operator will be responsible for resolving the situation appropriately. If mechanical or other problems have negatively impacted your trip and you are not satisfied with the way the boat operator has dealt with it, please let Galapatours know as soon as possible. We will assist by liaising with the operator for you if required and progressing any complaint that you may have. For our cancellation policy, please compare our Terms and Conditions.

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What can I do in Puerto Ayora?

We love the Galapagos, and we spend as much of our time here as we can. Because we visit every boat in our fleet personally we have spent extensive time in Puerto Ayora - so here are our top recommendations for things to do!

1. Surfing or relaxing at "Tortuga Bay", also known as "Turtle Bay"

This lovely beach is free to enter, and it's at the end of a wonderful 30-40 minute walk through the nature reserve. During your stroll, you'll see giant cacti, lava lizards and the famous Darwin Finches. Once on the beach itself, there are huge marine iguanas, sea turtles and sea lions. Bring your snorkelling gear!

Local "surf dudes" offer lessons on the beach (renting a board will cost you around $25 for a half day, and a 2 hour lesson is around $40). If you don't surf, don't worry! Just relax and soak up the atmosphere. This is a Galapagos "must do" beach.

2. Journey to the highlands

This is a great way to see lots of Santa Cruz island's amazing nature. Take a taxi to the Finca with the "Magic Swing". You'll be able to visit a traditional coffee farm and a big volcanic crater with lava tunnels that formed millions of years ago. It's a great way to see more of the unique vegetation of the Galapagos, and a fascinating change from the arid nature of many of the other islands. From town get a taxi and ask them to take you to "Columpio Magico" (Via Playa El Garrapatero).

3. Snorkeling at "Las Grietas"

Take an 80 cent water taxi ride from the small pier in Santa Cruz to "Angermeyer's Point". It's only a  2 minute ride. From there, walk to "Las Grietas". This is where beautiful lakes of salt water and rain water have formed in deep cracks in the lava crust. The water is crystal-clear and snorkeling in Las Grietas is an absolute thrill. Make sure to swim all the way to the end of the first "Grieta", it's separated from a second one by just a few lava rocks. This next one is usually much quieter than the first one and it's a simple climb over those rocks to find it. If you're feeling adventurous - and you're a good swimmer - you can even dive under the rocks into the second lake.

Also, on the way to or from the Grietas there is another really nice beach called Playa Alemanes where you can stop and swim in the sea.

4. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

This is where you'll see some of the biggest tortoises on the islands. This is the only place you will find not only Santa Cruz giant tortoises but also turtles from other islands. It's fascinating to compare the differences in form and shape that evolution has driven over millions of years in isolation on the different islands. There is some great information on the state of current research and preservation projects in Galapagos and some of the things to look out for during your adventures around the archipelago.

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I'm prone to motion sickness. Is there anything I can do to avoid seasickness on a Galapagos cruise?

If you are prone to motion sickness then here are a few hints to help you.

Firstly, book a cruise on a bigger vessel or on a catamaran. Larger boats and catamarans are more stable, and so roll less in the swells. Some examples would be the Ocean Spray, La Pinta, or Galapagos Legend

Secondly, avoid September and October cruise dates. Because of the activity of the currents that hit the Galapagos, these months tend to see the roughest seas.

Thirdly, take medical advice on anti-seasickness medication. Some traditional remedies are said to be very effective, such as taking ginger or using commercially-available acupressure wristbands.

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Why are boobies called boobies?

This is a question we get asked a lot! The name "booby" comes from a mishearing of the Spanish "bobo" - which means clumsy, or clown.

When you have experienced the delightful antics of the red-footed boobies and blue-footed boobies on your Galapatours cruise you will understand why "bobo" was a good name for these wonderful Galapagos native sea birds.

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When is the best time to dive in Galapagos?

There is good diving in Galapagos all year round, but June to December is usually felt to be the best time. The water temperature is coldest between September and November with thermoclines, although this also tends to coincide with the arrival of some of the bigger species. Seas can also be at their choppiest during this period.

If you do come during the colder part of the year then you will certainly want to consider a 7mm wetsuit, dive hood, gloves and booties!

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What makes the Blue-Footed Booby's feet blue?

This is the question that our expert naturalist guides are asked most about these delightful creatures! Rather like the feather color of flamingos, the source of the booby's blue feet is their diet. In the blue-footed boobies, it’s from pigments called carotenoids, which come from the fish they eat. Scientists have also shown that the feet become an even brighter blue the healthier the bird is. So by choosing a mate with the bluest feet, the females are selecting well nourished and healthy partners.

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Do you have any hotel recommendations for Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz?

If you can, we recommend staying on after your cruise for a few days. We're often asked where to stay in the Galapagos islands? We really like the nice little town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. You might also want to think about staying here before you start your Galapagos cruise. Naturalist cruises around the Galapagos are full-on experiences - strong sunshine, early mornings, days full of activities and excursions. In contrast, Puerto Ayora invites you to relax with it's wonderfully "chilled" island vibe. There's also lots to explore while you stay, with everything from pure white tropical beaches to dense jungle, and even the famous Charles Darwin Research Station.

Here's our guide to Santa Cruz Island Galapagos hotels…

Galapagos Suites ($$$): Is our top pick for Mid Range and even First Class travellers. In terms of "bang for your buck" you won't find a better plance in Galapagos. The rooms don't offer a sea view but are are spotless clean, the beds very comfortable. The owner Joseline goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome, helps out with picking things to visit and is a wonderfully kind and knowledgeable host. A rich breakfast is included and comes with different home-baked cakes everyday. The internet is reliable and fast. We can easily recommend Galapagos Suites to any traveller who is not looking for luxury or a sea view but wants a clean, nice hotel where he can kick back and relax after a long, exhausting day.

Red Mangrove ($$$$): Overlooking the ocean, the Red Mangrove Lodge offers beautiful rooms with some of the best views in all of Puerto Ayora. Bike rental and a buffet breakfast is included, as are a couple of cold beers in the fridge and wildlife right at the hotel. Watch out, sea lions oftentimes occupy the best spots at the veranda overlooking the ocean! The restaurant serves a wide variety of international dishes and ranks among the best kitchens in all of Galapagos. The Charles Darwin Scientific Station is 200 m away. 

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn ($$$$): The Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is another hotel that can only be reached by water taxi ($1) from the pier in Puerto Ayora. From the small dock, it's a three minute walk to the hotel, which is a beautiful building built of lava stones and driftwood - quite a sight! The facilities here include guest Wifi and cable TV. The beach at Playa Alemanes is only 500 yards away. We really like the waterside location and the great views, as well as the sea lions and marine iguanas that are always wandering around just outside the doors here.

Hotel Silberstein ($$$): Located between the city center and Charles Darwin Research Station, the Hotel Silberstein is in a great location. The huge landscaped pool, rooms with large balconies, and the colonial styling are all magnificent, as befits a high-end hotel. Guest Wifi and airconditioning is standard, and all rooms have a balcony and view of the garden.

Finch Bay Hotel ($$$$$): The Finch Bay hotel is probably the most luxurious and most expensive hotel in Santa Cruz - perhaps Galapagos. Only 10m from the mediocre beach of Playa Alemanes, it's the only hotel on the island with a direct beach access. The hotel is 2 miles from the city center, and access is only via water taxi, which you can catch from the central pier in Puerto Ayora for $1. This isolation has its positives and negatives. It's beautifully secluded and peaceful on one hand, but on the other, there's not a lot to do other than relax on the beach, and you have to catch a water taxi back to the city for restaurants and evening entertainment. The hotel itself is extremely luxurious and stylish with large and bright rooms. The whole hotel has WiFi, a great restaurant, a huge swimming pool and a gorgeous view of the harbor.

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Will I see Marine Iguanas on my Galapagos cruise?

Certainly. One of the most iconic species of the islands, the marine iguana is found nowhere else on earth except Galapagos, where they are plentiful. There are 6 sub-species, each found on its own island.

Your Galapatours cruise will enable you to get wonderfully close to these unique creatures, with all our cruises making landfall in areas where you will be able to walk amongst these remarkable animals.

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Will I see Galapagos Giant Tortoises on my cruise?

All of our cruise itineraries feature at least one excursion where you will have a chance to see these remarkable creatures. There are 15 sub-species of giant tortoise on Galapagos, and they are mainly found on the lusher highlands of islands such as Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristóbal and Española. If you're visiting Galapagos during the warm wet season you can often find them taking advantage of the conditions at lower elevations.

There are several tortoise breeding stations on the islands where you can have the chance of seeing giant tortoises at various stages of their life cycle, including juveniles. It's is often easier to see giant tortoises in pens at these centers, as in the wild they can be difficult to find in the dense undergrowth - although you can usually hear them crunching their way through before you see them!

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Will I see Galapagos Sea Lions on my cruise?

Yes, you certainly will. The Galapagos Sea Lion is a common sight all around the islands, and you’ll never be far from a group of them contentedly basking in the warm sun. There are around 50,000 living around the islands. They are social animals, living in large colonies that often take over whole stretches of sandy beach where they can bask, bark, argue, snooze and play.

A great example can be seen if you visit Playa Loberia (literally "Sea Lion Beach") on San Cristobal. The beach in the centre of the island's main town Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is also covered in sea lions who have the run of the place! Elsewhere on your cruise around the Galapagos you will see them on almost every island - and in places, you can even snorkel with them - an unforgettable experience.

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Will I see Galapagos Penguins on my cruise?

Galapagos penguins are only found here on the archipelago. As well as being a unique native species, these Galapagos favorites are also record-breakers, being the most northerly penguin species in the world. In fact, some colonies in the northern parts of the islands are technically living in the northern hemisphere.

If you choose a Galapatours cruise that takes in Bartolome, Fernandina and Isabela Islands then you will definitely see Galapagos penguins as their colonies are most concentrated here. At certain sites, you may be able to get into the water and snorkel with them, which is certainly the experience of a lifetime.

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Will I see Darwin's Finches on my Galapagos cruise?

Galapagos finches can be found throughout the islands, so it's very likely you will see some species during one of your excursions on a Glapatours cruise. These little birds are, of course, a true icon of the islands and a cornerstone of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking works on natural selection, more commonly known as evolution.

All our cruises are staffed by highly qualified and experienced naturalist guides, who will not only point out species such as Darwin's Finches to you but can also answer all your questions about these and other species you will encounter during your Galapagos adventure.

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Will I be able to dive at Wolf and Darwin?

The dive sites off Wolf and Darwin Islands are renowned as two of the best dive sites in the entire world, and we do offer diving itineraries that visit these iconic sites. Because of their remote nature, it's only possible to visit these sites as part of a diving-only cruise. If you are unsure as to which boat or itinerary will take you to the "dive of a lifetime" sites of Wolf and Darwin simply call one of our Galapagos experts. We'll give you details of exactly which boats are available for your chosen dates.

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Where are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos islands are a volcanic archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles from the most western coast of South America.  The closest country is Ecuador, and the islands are an Ecuadorian territory.

If you click here you can see a close-up map of the Galapagos islands and all the main visitor points and sites of interest.

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What are the ferry and speed boats schedules in Galapagos?

We are sometimes asked if there is a ferry to Galapagos from Ecuador. Although it is possible to find boats that will take you to the islands, there are no official ferries, and we can't recommend this option for the following reasons. 1. You will spend three and a half days to get there, taking up valuable time. 2. There's no guarantee of a proper berth - you might have to spend the time in a hammock, or even just on a mat on the floor. 3. Because the open Pacific can be rough, the journey can be very uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe. Our advice is to avoid booking any Guayaquil to Galapagos "ferry" at all costs!

Once you arrive in the Galapagos, you can travel between some islands by small boats used as a ferries. The following is the public transportation schedule for Galapagos ferry / speed boat services, which can transport you between islands. You might be able to buy your tickets the same day, but it's much safer to purchase online in advance, especially since a full speedboat means you are waiting until the next day to depart. Prices vary between $25-$35 pp one way with no round trip discount.

Ferry Galapagos Islands - Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela - Schedule:

From

To

Departure Time

Arrival Time

Santa Cruz

San Cristobal

7:00 AM

9:30 AM

Santa Cruz

San Cristobal

2:00 PM

4:30 PM

Santa Cruz

Isabela

7:00 AM

9:30 AM

Santa Cruz

Isabela

2:00 PM

4:30 PM

Isabela

Santa Cruz

6:00 AM

8:30 AM

Isabela

Santa Cruz

2:00 PM

4:30 PM

San Cristobal

Santa Cruz

7:00 AM

9:30 AM

San Cristobal

Santa Cruz

3:00 PM

5:30 PM

Please note:

  1. The journey length depends greatly on the sea conditions. This might take anywhere from two hours to three hours per trip.
  2. You must arrive 30 minutes prior to departure to have your bags inspected by SICGAL for organic goods. They must be tagged by SICGAL to be put onboard. The line for this can be crowded.
  3. To transfer to San Cristobal from Isabela (or vice versa) by speedboat, you must go to Santa Cruz in the morning and wait until the afternoon to transfer to San Cristobal / Isabela. It's an all day event that does cost $50-$70 pp. It is quite safe to leave your luggage in the speedboat office and they almost always let you if you ask. This leaves you free to wander around during your wait for the next boat.
  4. If you are on Isabela before your cruise, you cannot travel to San Cristobal by boat on the same day. You must go one day in advance and overnight in San Cristobal. If you have an Isabela extension after your Galapagos Cruise and plan to go by speedboat, it is much wiser to disembark your final full day, overnight in Puerto Ayora and depart the next day.

The scenic alternative to the cheap but slow ferries are flights by small "puddle hoppers" that operate between some of the islands. Please click here to find all info on the inter-island flight in Galapagos.

![image - puerto ayora harbour]({{media url= "Passengers at Puerto Ayora Harbour, waiting for the cruise ships and the ferry")

Picture Above: Passengers at Puerto Ayora Harbour - waiting for the transfer to their Galapagos cruise ship and the local ferry.

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What is the inter-island flight schedule in Galapagos?

When hopping from island to island in Galapagos, a scenic alternative to the cheaper speed boats and ferries are the inter-island flight. Emetebe operates 'puddle hoppers' which usually have strict weight limits of 20 lbs per person. The flight is quite a scenic tour in and of itself. The big advantage is that the flights get you there in about 30 minutes. The disadvantage is that the price is $175+ each way for a foreigner and flight times are not dependable. You must arrive to the airport at least 30 minutes prior to your flight. It is much better to arrange a taxi to pick you up, especially in Isabela and especially on a Sunday when no one is working.

Baggage Restrictions:

Guests are allowed 1 checked luggage of no more than 20 lbs + 1 small carry on.

Pricing for inter-island flights in Galapagos:

US$175.00 per way, this price may vary depending on the season

Flight Schedule:

You can fly from Baltra Island (servicing Santa Cruz Island), Isabela Island, and San Cristobal.

Baltra – San Cristobal departs at 9:30 am

Baltra – Isabela departs at 12:30 pm

San Cristobal to Baltra departs at 10:30 am

San Cristobal to Isabela departs at 7:30 am *

Isabela to Baltra departs at 8:30 am

Isabela to San Cristobal departs at 1:30 pm *

*Note: There are no direct speed boats between these two islands. You’ll lose most of the day to travel if you route by speedboat. It is best to fly between San Cristobal and Isabela islands. Here’s a short clip on what it’s like to fly on these small puddle jumpers:

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Is there cell phone coverage on the Galapagos Islands?

Yes, there is some cell phone coverage in Galapagos, but it is scarce and usually rather poor quality. You can expect your phone to work in and around the main centers of commerce and population: Baltra Island, most of Santa Cruz Island (especially Puerto Ayora), San Cristobal (especially Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) and a few southern parts of Isabela (especially around Puerto Villamil). The map below will give you an idea of likely coverage.

If you need mobile internet on your phone, we recommend buying a SIM card/chip on the mainland. The best idea is to get one from one of the shops at Quito airport. There are a few Ecuador cell phone providers, but in our experience the network with the best coverage on the Galapagos Islands is CLARO.

On a Galapagos Cruise, you can expect to lose cell phone coverage as soon as you leave port - there is no network on the open ocean or near the uninhabited islands. There are some ships, however, that offer satellite internet! Please click here for more info on internet / Wifi on board of Galapagos Cruises.

![Cell Phone Coverage Galapagos, a map]({{media url= "Cell Phone Coverage Galapagos, a map")

Picture above: This is an approximation of where you can expect your cell phone to pick up service in Galapagos. Don't expect any coverage out in the open ocean.

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Can I just book a Galapagos cruise directly on the Islands?

We can't ever recommend this option, but yes you can certainly try your luck when you arrive in Galapagos and attempt to book directly in either Puerto Ayora or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. However, you must be aware that this approach carries the huge risk of not finding a ship at all - particularly during the peak visitor seasons.

Because of the limited number of boats permitted to operate, Galapagos cruises are mostly booked months, sometimes years, in advance. It is getting rarer and rarer to be able to find a boat with availability at the harbor. If you are looking for last minute offers we highly recommend you contact us now to see what pre-booked late availability deals we have. We really don't recommend flying to the islands without a cruise booked, and picking up a late deal now will give you peace of mind to enjoy your trip to Ecuador and Galapagos, knowing your boat will be waiting for you when you arrive.

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Do I need to book flights for my Galapagos cruise?

In short, yes. We recommend you allow us to book your flights from mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) for you. This has two big advantages:

  1. it allows us to book all passengers on a cruise onto the same flight, arriving at the same time. This means you won't have any delays sitting at the airport, waiting for the rest of the passengers to arrive. More importantly also, this helps to avoid problems in case of flight delays when passengers arrive on different planes.
  2. because we block book seats we are able to get the very best prices on flights to and from the mainland, so we can save you money as well as the time to source your own flights.

If you do choose to book your own flight please beware: Some ships may charge a transport surcharge (50-80 USD) in this case. Also, if you plan to arrive at the first day of the cruise, please make sure to book the flights as detailed in your itinerary. Note: If you book different flights than the ones recommended by the ship owners and your flights experiences a delay, we cannot guarantee that the ship will wait for you. More info on this topic.

If you are already in Galapagos on the first day of your cruise, please make your way back to the airport by taxi to arrive by the same time the flight with the other passengers would land.

We strongly recommend that you make plans to depart from Quito or Guayaquil no earlier than the day after you return to the mainland from Galapagos. This will gives you at least one more night in Quito, but it will ensure that you don’t miss your international flight in case of flight delays.

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Which itinerary should I pick for my Galápagos Tour?

We make sure that all Galapatours cruises, whatever their length, will give you a fantastic experience of the Galápagos Islands, their unique wildlife and incredible habitats. However, if you are planning a trip to Galápagos as your sole destination, then we really recommend choosing an 8 to 15 day itinerary for your cruise. Because of the longer time you'll have in the islands, a cruise of this length will typically allow you to visit up to three times as many islands and visitor sites as a shorter trip.

If you have a particular interest in bird or marine life, Galápagos ecology, evolution in action, and so on, then a longer cruise will allow you to fully indulge in your passions and interests. You may find that a shorter Galápagos cruise doesn't give you enough time to experience all that you can in the archipelago, and you may end up missing out on particular species or habitats that you hoped to see. If you are visiting Galápagos as part of a wider South American trip, or you aren't worried about seeing everything you possibly can, then shorter 4 to 6 day itineraries may be ideal for you. These cruises will still give you an amazing introduction to the marvels Galápagos has to offer, and these shorter cruises can be better for families traveling with younger children, who may find longer periods on a boat a little restricting.

For more information on Galápagos Cruises, feel free to contact us with any question or visit our FAQ section, where we answer more than 80 frequently asked questions regarding our Galápagos Cruises, such as Which Galápagos Islands should I visit?, What does a typical day on a Galápagos Cruise ship look like? or Why do all Galápagos itineraries have fixed itineraries?

Our expert Galápagos advisers will help you find the best Galápagos cruise prices and the perfect Galápagos cruise itinerary for you.

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Which category of cruise should I choose?

The best category of ship for you will be a very personal choice. Some people choose the Galapagos as a destination as part of a wonderful "holiday of a lifetime" experience. Some come to the archipelago with the aim of seeing as much of the unique flora and fauna as possible. Some people want to travel on a strict budget, whilst others prefer to tour in the lap of luxury.

At Galapatours we offer vessels and itineraries that can cater to almost every need. Our website lists a great variety of ships, boats and yachts that each offer their own unique take on a visit to Galapagos. We highly recommend that you contact one of our Galapagos experts with your requirements as we can then advise you on boats and itineraries that will suit your budget and what you want to get out of your trip to Galapagos.

To help with budget planning, we list our cruise vessels in different "classes". Although there is some crossover between them, broadly speaking you will find that they fit into the following brackets:

Budget Class Galapaos Cruises (up to $2,500 for an 8 day cruise)

Often cabins have bunk beds and are quite small. These boats are best for traveling and exploring, rather than being a holiday experience in themselves.

Mid-Range Galapagos Cruises ($2,500- $3,500 for an 8 day cruise)

No Bunk beds, but still small rooms. Higher standards of decor and service.

First Class Galapagos Cruises ($3,500$ - $5,000 for an 8 day cruise)

Big rooms, first class service, luxurious touches.

Luxury Class Galapagos Cruises (over $5,000+ for an 8 day cruise)

The full luxury holiday experience. Amazing service and full luxury surroundings, including facilities like jacuzzi pools, champagne, fine dining, and more.

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Do you have any hotel recommendations for Quito?

Because of the timing of flights from Quito to Galapagos, most international travelers will need to stay overnight in Quito on their arrival, and again before departure. Here are a couple of Quito hotels we recommend - our team always uses these before and after our regular visits to Galapagos to check on the Galapatours fleet!

Hotel Cayman - www.hotelcaymanquito.com
This Quito hotel is located in the midst of the hip Mariscal district of southern Quito. Here, you're right in the heart of all the action, with plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs within easy walking distance. This makes a great base from which to explore the wider city, too. Our tip: make use of the $2 taxis to explore further afield.

Hotel Antinea - www.hotelantinea.com/web/es/inicio/
This nice hotel is right in the historic center of Quito and within easy walking distance of all the old town sights and amenities. Our tip: if walking through the old town in the evening, keep valuables like cameras or purses out of sight, as some visitors have been victims of "snatch" thieves.

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What length of Galapagos cruise itinerary should I choose?

We make sure that all Galapatours cruises, whatever their length, will give you a fantastic experience of the Galapagos islands, their unique wildlife and incredible habitats.

However, if you are planning a trip to Galapagos as your sole destination, then we really recommend choosing an 8 to 15 day itinerary for your cruise. Because of the longer time available, a cruise of this length will typically allow you visit up to three times as many islands and visitor sites as a shorter trip.

If you have a particular interest in bird or marine life, Galapagos ecology, evolution in action, and so on, then a longer cruise will allow you to fully indulge in your passions and interests. You may find that a shorter Galapagos cruise doesn't give you enough time to experience all that you can in the archipelago, and you may end up missing out of particular species or habitats that you hoped to see.

If you are visiting Galapagos as part of a wider South American trip, or you aren't worried about seeing everything you possibly can, then shorter 4 to 6 day itineraries may be ideal for you. These cruises will still give you an amazing introduction to the marvels Galapagos has to offer, and these shorter cruises can be better for families traveling with younger children, who may find longer periods on a boat a little restricting.

Please remember though that the cost of return flights to Galapagos and the $100 per head National Park entry fee will remain the same price, whether you are staying for 4 nights, or 15!

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When is the best time to book a Galapagos Cruise?

Galapagos cruises are incredibly popular, and availability is limited all year round - there's not really such a thing as the best time to visit Galapagos! We will therefore always recommend planning as far ahead as possible. This is especially true if you plan to travel during July, August, Christmas, New Year or Easter when spaces are often fully-booked 12 months in advance. 

If your trip to Galapagos is going to be a dream vacation for you, and you want the widest choice of boats available, then it is best to contact us from 12 to 3 months before you are due to travel - the earlier the better. We can then tailor a complete Galapagos experience that you will remember for a lifetime. 

However, if you have more flexibility in your plans in terms of yacht choice and your travel dates and you are looking for a Galapagos bargain then get in touch with us one month or less before you're ready to travel. In this case, our Galapagos travel experts will be able to search out the very best late availability deals for you. Discounts of up to 70% are often available at this time.

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Can Children travel on a Galapagos Cruise? Do they receive a discount?

Yes, absolutely - and what an adventure they will have! Usually, children under 12 years old receive a 20% discount, but each yacht has its own policy for children and babies. If you are planning a Galapagos adventure with children or babies please call us direct or drop us an email to [email protected] and our Galapagos travel experts can advise on the most suitable yachts and boats if you want an intimate Galapagos experience.

If you are happy to travel on a larger vessel with more fellow passengers then we can really recommend the M/V Galapagos Legend. With accommodation for 100 guests, the Legend offers family-friendly rooms that can be joined together, and the ship boasts a dedicated children's area with entertainment and activity programs for your kids.

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I'm a single traveler. What's the single supplement vs. sharing a room?

Both sharing a room and paying a supplement to have a single room are possibilities. There are some boats that require no, or a very small, single supplement to be paid. To see all these ships, go to this page and adjust the search filter to see only solo travel-friendly ships. All other ships charge single supplements ranging from 20% to 100%.

If you are willing to share your cabin with a stranger, there is no extra charge to the regular prices quoted on our website. Boat operators will always try to match you together with somebody of the same gender (although obviously this can't be 100% guaranteed).

Also, feel free to drop us a few lines or call us and our Galapagos travel experts will be happy to advise you about solo travel to the Galapagos and they can let you know which boats currently have single cabins available.

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What is included on a Galapatours cruise?

We believe in giving you the most extensive range of cruise options for visiting the Galapagos islands. Because of this, all our cruises differ in what's included in terms of amenities and excursions/activities. Each ship listing on our site give full details, but there are some general principals that apply to all Galapagos cruises:

What's always included on all our Galapagos cruises: All meals and snacks. Soft drinks and juices. Dedicated bi-lingual guides and a guest manager available 24 hours a day. All listed excursions and activities (any additional charges, eg for equipment rental, will be listed).

Diving Cruises vs Naturalist Cruises: National Park regulations have strict limits about what each type of vessel can do. This is primarily about the safety of visitors and the quality of their experience. On our Galapagos boats the crews and guides are experts in their fields and highly qualified. This means that Diving itineraries will only do diving excursions. Naturalist itineraries will only do land excursions. Both can do snorkeling and kayaking, but to preserve the quality of your experience there are no mixed itineraries available.

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What is the booking process for a Galapatours Galapagos cruise?

Step 1: Get in touch!

We love to help people find their dream vacation to Galapagos. If you call us during office hours, one of our Galapagos travel experts will be only too pleased to answer any questions, recommend ships and itineraries, and walk you through the whole process. If you contact us via email or via our website enquiry form then we will get back to you within 1 working day.

If you have specific travel dates our experts can give you recommendations for the most suitable cruises. Once you have made your choice (or if you are enquiring about a specific vessel) we can double check the availability with the operator and then immediately reserve this for you. This secures your places on your trip of a lifetime. All of our recommendation and booking services are, of course, free of charge.

Step 2: Reserve your chosen vessel and dates

Typically, we are able to hold unpaid reservations for up to 1 week, unless there is only a short time before the departure date. We will send you written confirmation of your reservation and include full payment details. During this 7 day window, you can explore other options with us and confirm if you wish us to source your flight tickets.

Step 3: Downpayment/Deposit 
In order to confirm and guarantee your booking, we must receive a 20% deposit no later than 7 days after you receive your written booking reservation. After this time we can no longer guarantee either that the places will be available or that the price won't rise. To prevent disappointment we will automatically cancel your reservation if we don't receive your deposit by the due date stated on your booking reservation.

Step 4: Booking confirmation

As soon as we have received your first deposit and a completed passenger information form we will be pleased to send your booking confirmation. We also include useful information such as a suggested packing list, pick up, drop off and transfer information, and some great tips for your cruise.

At the same time, we will instruct the ship operator to issue you with a service voucher. This voucher sometimes takes up to two weeks to arrive, but once it does we will send it to you along with an additional booking confirmation from the ship operators themselves.

Step 5: Final payment and flight tickets

At least 80 days before your cruise sets sail you will need to pay the remaining balance of your booking. 14 days before your trip begins we will send you your flight tickets.

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Do you also offer trips and hotels in mainland Ecuador?

Unfortunately not. At Galapatours.com, we are Galapagos Cruise specialists. We will happily give you a few tipps for hotels (where to stay, which areas in Quito to avoid etc.) but will not book Hotels for you. For trips to mainland Ecuador, we much recommend reaching out to viventura, our sister company which specialized on group and individual tours through Ecuador, Peru, and the rest of South America.

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What is the Galapatours cancellation policy?

Please see our complete Terms and Conditions where you will find our detailed cancellation policy.

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Why is Galapatours the only page that lists all Galapagos Cruises?

There are a vast number of cruise ships in Galapagos - currently around 80. However, no single web page lists all ships and tells you which cruise still has spaces available at what date for what price.

At Galapatours, we make the effort to regularly check with all ship owners (we call them personally!) to update the all ships and their sailing dates, available cabins, prices, discounts and routes. This way, we also eliminate the middle man by dealing directly with the ship operators and owners. This allows us to provide you with best price on the market and the highest level of customer service, putting the price comparison directly in your hands.

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