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A day of activities on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands

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Before booking Galapagos cruises, we often get asked by visitors, “What is a day on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands like?” Many people want to know what to expect on a typical day on a Galapagos cruise, and the types of Galapagos cruise activities they will be doing. Here we explain what you can expect on a typical Galapagos cruise day.


A typical Galapagos cruise day usually gets off to an early start. You might expect to get up and go for your first island visit any time between 5.30am and 7.30am. Well, you didn’t come for a lie in did you? There are various reasons why an early start is important. One of these is that in some cases this is when the animals and birds will be most active, and you’ll be most likely to see them going about their daily business. Later in the day, some creatures will get out of the sun. Another reason is that to make sure that you can make the most of the islands, there are usually a lot of Galapagos cruise activities to fit into a day. Making an early start ensures you can fit it all in, and that you don’t miss out. Finally, visits to the islands are carefully scheduled and coordinated between cruise ships so that not everyone arrives at once. That’s better for you, as not so many people, but more importantly it is better for the wildlife, and for conservation.



So, you’ll get up fairly early and you will either have a snack or breakfast before you go. You’ll take a motorized dinghy across to the island you are visiting. Sometimes you will have a wet landing, and sometimes a dry landing. A wet landing means you will need to get off the boat in a shallow area close to shore and your feet will get wet, while a dry landing means the boat can get to some rocks or a pier.

Then your first adventure for the day begins! You’ll be greeted by an array of weird and wonderful creatures on the island. You will usually go for a short walk, sticking to clearly marked paths, as your experienced naturalist guide explains the flora and fauna, and the geology of the area you are visiting. You might see birds doing mating dances, or sea lions sun bathing on the beach, or playing in the sea. After your visit to the island, which usually lasts for an hour or two, depending on how much there is to see and do, you’ll return to your boat. 

If you didn’t yet have breakfast, you’ll be served it then, or a snack and a hot drink, while your cruise moves on to the next place that you are going to visit that day. In a typical Galapagos cruise day you might sail for an hour to your next port of call during breakfast/snack time. Maybe you will arrive close to your next location around 11am. This might mean you have an opportunity to snorkel and enjoy the fascinating life under the water, in the ocean surrounding the islands. Snorkeling is one of the Galapagos cruise activities you will be offered almost every day. Most cruise ships have equipment you can borrow, but it is best to check before you go. Jump, or ease yourself into the water and take in the kaleidoscope of colors of the underwater world. You might see sharks, rays, or turtles, and if you are snorkeling from the boat, your naturalist guide will likely be in the water with you pointing out amazing sights.

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After your snorkeling, you board the boat again, and you may motor on for a little way further until you get to your next island. You might be sailing during lunchtime, or not, depending on how close your next port of call is. Sometimes you may sail for 3-5 hours during the day, but as far as possible, the bigger expanses of the ocean are covered at night during or after dinner, so you can maximize Galapagos cruise activities. If you’re sailing for a while after lunch, this is a great time to kick back on deck and read, or if you prefer, scan the water for dolphins, and watch frigate birds following the boat overhead, while most of the cruises we offer have comfortable and beautiful sundecks, we really like the Cormorant Galapagos cruise which features an ample sundeck with a Jacuzzi, a great place to get views of all the surrounding beauty.

When you arrive at the next island your routine is much the same as your earlier visit, and you will usually have another short walk along marked paths on your new island. One quite remarkable aspect of the Galapagos Islands that many do not expect is that the landscape varies considerably from island to island, so you might be on a red beach in the morning and a black beach in the afternoon, for example. Some of the wildlife will be different, and some the same. You’ll have time to take lots of photographs during the day on a cruise in the Galapagos islands. This time there might be a chance to snorkel from the beach, or maybe it will just be a walk, depending on what is best to do here.




After your island visit, it’s back to the boat again for a shower and some dinner. On a typical Galapagos cruise day, you will be briefed on the next day’s activities before or after dinner by your naturalist guide. Your guide will explain what you can expect to see, whether the landing will be wet and dry, and what to bring to the next island. After that you may want to relax with a drink, or head to your cabin to relax and dream about the day ahead. Meanwhile your Galapagos cruise boat will be sailing to the next island.

While this explains a typical day on a Galapagos cruise, in reality no two days are exactly the same, but a day on a cruise in the Galapagos islands will usually follow this sort of pattern. If you have any questions about Galapagos Islands cruises or about different aspects of the day, please contact us the local travel experts at Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders, and we will be happy to help with your query.

By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
By Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders
Ecuador & Galapagos Insiders is a leading travel company based in Ecuador and run by local tour guides and travel specialists, we are happy to provide expert and free trip planning advice, no commitment fee involved.
Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders