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Over 97% of the Galapagos archipelago is a national park, completely off limits to human establishments. Only 3% of the islands are human-inhabited, where hotels can be built. If you think about it, exploring the Galapagos Islands on a cruise is really the only way to explore this 97% of the archipelago that is off limits to human establishments. Therefore, for those asking if a Galapagos cruise is worth it, the answer is, absolutely! The Galapagos are a natural paradise that simply cannot be missed. They are the best place in the world for children and adults alike to safely get close to and interact with animals in the wild. Although it is considered an expensive cruising destination, a Galapagos cruise is among the top cruising experiences in the world.
Galapagos cruise itineraries are often also referred to as “loops” because of the routes the ships take around the archipelago. While Quasar recommends itineraries or ‘loops’ of no less than 8 days, in order to determine which loop is best for a specific ship or a specific company, you have to trust the experience behind those who designed these loop itineraries.
For example, some cruise companies opt for loops that travel short distances, thereby saving on fuel costs. Short loops are also generally preferred by the cruise companies that offer the shorter 4 and 5 day cruises because they keep the ships close to the airports and port towns in order to pick up passengers more often throughout the week. The cruise companies that offer the 8 or 15 day cruise loops don’t have to worry about this.
At Quasar we’ve used our 37+ years of experience to offer itineraries or ‘loops’ that are equal in terms of site visitations, expedition activities, scenery, and wildlife encounters. We’ve carefully designed these so that they are well balanced in terms of the islands we visit and the wildlife commonly seen in them. When you opt to travel with a company like Quasar, you’ll be happy to hear that you can’t go wrong when choosing any one of our itineraries or ‘loops’. They are simply different from each other, but never fail to ‘WOW’ our Guests in terms of the things they get to do and experience while on our cruises.
From the time the Galapagos was declared a National Park in the late 50’s and all the way to around 2010, all ships in the Galapagos Islands were run by local Ecuadorian companies (the Galapagos belong to the country of Ecuador). However, around 2010 the larger cruise lines started to gain interest in the Galapagos and companies in the likes of Celebrity, Silversea and Hurtigruten have now started offering cruises in the Islands. All the major cruise lines mentioned here operate 100 passenger ships, which is the largest ship size permitted in the Galapagos National Park. For those who have cruised with the major cruise lines, 100 passengers may sound like a small number of passengers and an intimate experience, but in Galapagos, these ships are the equivalent of the 1000 passenger ships in other popular cruising destinations.
There are two ways you can visit the Galapagos Islands: On a hotel-based visit where you explore the archipelago on day tours from the port towns, and the second way is a multi-day liveaboard cruise. If you are considering a hotel based visit, one major problem you’ll face is how to access the national park. There are roughly 70 terrestrial and 70 marine visitor sites throughout the national park where travelers are permitted to go ashore or go snorkeling to see animals up close. Only a handful of these landing sites are accessible from the hotels by day boat, usually at additional cost. This means that the best way, and really the only way to access the majority of the visitor sites in the Galapagos, is on a cruise throughout the entire archipelago.
Liveaboard Galapagos luxury cruises take you on a voyage through the islands. In contrast to day boats, liveaboard yachts travel by night while you are asleep and anchor in calm waters at your first landing site before you wake up. With immediate shore access, you will have the opportunity to visit two different sites per day for up to 2.5 hours each, along with snorkeling, kayaking and dinghies rides. Cruises certainly provide the very best option to visit the Galapagos archipelago.
At Quasar we like to say that in the Galapagos, it’s not all about the boat—but your boat must be all about the Galapagos. Your floating adventure cruise should complement your ocean-going safari, because that is what an exceptional Galapagos adventure is all about. So how do you choose the best Galapagos cruise for you?
It all starts with size, where you need to understand that on a large ship you simply cannot get the same experience that the medium or small ships provide. You need to look for certain features in a live aboard vessel, while avoiding others. This will make the difference between a mediocre experience and the adventure of a lifetime. These features are:
Too many people
You won’t experience a crowd in the Galapagos unless you bring one with you aboard a ship with 50 to 100 passengers, meaning crowded beaches, long lines on single file trails, and competing with each other to see animals and take photos.
Quantity vs Quality of Guides
Cruise ships must have a large quantity of guides to serve all passengers. Soon, you’ll notice other passengers staking out the best guide, while you compete to be in their group.
Time wasted on logistics,
More passengers equals more time on logistics and less time on what matters—exploring the islands. Time is wasted on changing into wetsuits, lining up for meals, and waiting in line with other cruisers for your dinghy to pick you up.
Galapagos is famous for unexpected wildlife encounters which require flexibility, like an unexpected early wakeup call to follow a pod of Orca. Disembarking 50 or 100 guests within minutes to see Orca’s feeding is just impossible.
Cruise ships aren’t designed to put you in touch with the environment and typically prevent you from walking the perimeter of the vessel. Smoked glass and postage stamp balconies restrict you from experiencing the habitat and wildlife.
To Learn and Read more --- Best Galapagos Cruise
In Galapagos you will find 3 categories for ship sizes: Small, Medium and Large ships. Small or intimate boats carry anywhere between 8 to up to 20 passengers. The medium-sized boats carry between 32 and up to 50 passengers. And the large boats carry between 90 and 100 passengers. While a 100 passenger ship would be considered a “small” ship in other destinations, due to the fragility of the Galapagos archipelago and its visitor sites, these are the largest ship category allowed in the Islands.
Small boats are the most common in the Galapagos and you will find them in all shapes and sizes. You also find them in all accommodation categories, ranging from budget to luxury boats. The main advantages of the small boats is that you get to explore the islands away from the big crowds and you get to enjoy a more personalized experience from crew and guides onboard. Also, with fewer passengers onboard, this also means that you will have more time to explore the islands as you will waste less time on logistics to embark and disembark dozens and dozens of guests. Quasar’s yacht Grace is in the small boat category.
Medium-Sized Boats are the least common size in the Galapagos and many guests find that they provide the best of both worlds in terms of stability, group size and personalized service onboard. Medium-sized boats are more stable than the smaller boats and are often preferred by those who are a little more sensitive to sea sickness, but who don’t want the larger crowds of the 100 passenger boats. You don’t find budget boats in this category, but only first class and luxury boats. Quasar’s yacht the Evolution is a medium size luxury boat in Galapagos.
Large Galapagos Boats are the second most numerous category, and in this category you will find all the international cruise line names like Celebrity, Silversea, Hurtigruten, Lindblad and more. Large cruise lines works on economies of scale so they depend on passenger numbers to maximize profits. It’s for this reason that the large boats in Galapagos are operated by the major cruise lines. These boats are ideal for passengers who are used to the more common cruising experience where the experience focuses more on life onboard rather than on shore. Large boats are ideal for passengers who really struggle with sea sickness.
In Galapagos you will find cruise itineraries ranging from 4, 5, 8 and even 15 days. One of the biggest mistakes travelers make when visiting the Galapagos is simply not leaving enough time to experience the islands to the fullest. Both the first day you arrive in the Galapagos and the day you return to the mainland are mostly spent traveling. So, for example, if you plan to spend 4 days in the Galapagos, you are really spending only 2 days visiting the islands. At Quasar we jokingly call 4-day cruises “airport tours.” Right about the time you are starting to relax and realize just how many amazing experiences await throughout the archipelago, you have to catch your flight back home.
Over the course of 37+ years of Galapagos experience, Quasar has learned that to truly see and experience the best that Galapagos has to offer, you need to cruise the islands either on an 8 day or a 15 day cruise. Our 8 and 15 day itineraries are of equal quality in terms of site visitations, expedition activities, scenery, and wildlife encounters. We believe that no one should go on a Galapagos cruise for less than 8 days if they truly want to see the best of Galapagos. For most guests, an 8 day itinerary is ideal in terms of duration but, for those time-privileged travelers seeking a deeper Galapagos immersion, our 15 day itineraries cover the entire archipelago, ensuring no experience is left a mystery. Guests enjoy a higher chance of encountering the rare species that inspired Darwin’s brilliant works.
Galapagos Cruise Reviews from Bloggers & Celebrities
Who Travel with Quasar
No matter who you are, or where you are from, Quasar believes you deserve a memorable travel experience filled with fun and adventure. Over the past 37+ years, we’ve helped over 75,000 travelers find the adventure of their dreams, which includes some of these celebrities and bloggers! Re-live their special experiences with Quasar by reading their individual Galapagos cruise reviews and blogs!
Law & Order's famed actor Blair Underwood and his fiancee set sail on a captivating summer cruise in August 2022, exploring the Galapagos Islands aboard the Evolution yacht, as revealed in this blog post.READ MORE
Celebrity chef, author, entrepreneur, and writer, Gaby Dalkin, visited the Galapagos Islands with Quasar aboard the Evolution Yacht in 2022.READ MORE
In June 2023, Ashley & Michael, a globe-trotting couple, embarked on an unforgettable 8-day exploration of the enchanting Galapagos Islands aboard the Evolution Yacht.READ MORE
Minnesota based Travel Blogger who balances a full time corporate career, Sara, visited the Galapagos Islands with Quasar aboard the Evolution Yacht in 2021.READ MORE
Founder and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonande, known as one of the youngest Shark Tank entreprenuer, Mikaila Ulmer, visited the Galapagos with Quasar in July 2021 aboard M/V Evolution.READ MORE
Travel journalist and TV personality from the Bachelor Show, Lesley Murphy, visited the Galapagos Islands with Quasar aboard the Grace Yacht in 2014.READ MORE
Travel reporter and the winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for travel writing, Melissa Klurman of The Points Guy, visited the Galapagos with Quasar aboard the Evolution Yacht in July 2021.READ MORE
Read Reviews On Our Award-Winning
Galapagos Luxury Cruises
Elegant, classy and modernized - the 16-guest Grace Yacht has been recognized again as the best small-ship cruise in the world for its third year in a row. Read more Grace Yacht reviews from past passengers with Quasar Expeditions.
on your Next Adventure
Paul Rose bbc nature show host
“I had expected a lot from this trip and my Galapagos journey with Quasar Expeditions
exceeded all of my expectations!
I now don't say to people - You should try to visit the Galapagos.
I now say; YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST VISIT THE GALAPAGOS!”
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Matthew Richter Guest Aboard Grace Yacht
The ability of the captain/crew to adjust and adapt to conditions - like the pod of false killer whales we encountered - really made the trip. Watching the large ships sail by unaware as we spent an hour experiencing the whales really made it worth it!
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