Unforgettable Travel Company

Galapagos Small Ship Cruises 2024/25

Cruising is the best way to explore the Galapagos. This one-of-a-kind destination, a microcosm of evolution that lies 600 miles off the Ecuador mainland, isn’t the type of place that is visited by those massive vessels with water parks and Broadway-style shows. It’s an environment that’s important to protect, with unique wildlife that includes everything from giant tortoises and penguins to sea lions and blue-footed boobies. Unforgettable Cruises has made a conscious effort to make all of our trips as environmentally-friendly as possible, to lessen the impact and minimise stress on the wildlife. At the same time, our well-designed ships have a minimal passenger capacity while still providing the comforts of home complete with spacious en-suite cabins. Yet you can expect more personalised service and more in-depth insight about what you’re seeing from the crew and other experts on board. 

Island-hopping through the Galapagos usually begins by flying into the beautiful high-elevation capital of Ecuador, Quito. Offering a rich history while surrounded by towering mountains, it’s a fabulous destination of its own. Once you begin sailing, you’ll be able to explore both inhabited and uninhabited islands, perhaps walking right alongside the giant tortoises on Santa Cruz, as well as swimming with marine iguanas, penguins, rays, and sea lions.

Our Cruises in the Galapagos

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Ports of Call

  • Fernandina Island 429 x 429

    Fernandina Island

    This island is the westernmost in the archipelago and its youngest at around 300,000 years old. It has no human population and no invasive species. It’s known for its abundance of marine iguanas, leading some to call it the “land of dragons.” It may be the best place to witness evidence of the iguanas that evolved into marine animals. One can also spot flightless cormorants and snorkel alongside sea lions, penguins, turtles, and rays. Due to the lava flow, only pioneer cacti and mangrove zones have managed to survive. As a result, it offers one of the most remarkable miniature forests in the world.

  • Isabela Island 429 x 429

    Isabela Island

    One of the most popular islands in the Galapagos, Isabela is also the largest at over 1,770 square miles. It offers a fantastic mix of diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes. It has the highest density of Galapagos penguins and five different giant tortoise species. It’s also the world’s only place that’s home to the pink iguana which inhabits the slopes of Wolf Volcano, and one of only two islands where flightless cormorant birds’ nest. There are Galapagos fur seal and sea lion colonies along the west coast, large colonies of marine iguanas, and outstanding opportunities to snorkel with white tip reef sharks.

  • Santa Cruz Island 429 x 429

    Santa Cruz Island

    Santa Cruz is the most populated island in the Galapagos, serving as its central hub. Most of the approximately 15,000 residents live in Puerto Ayora, the main town where you’ll find a surprising number of dining and shopping options. The Charles Darwin Research Station is located here and continues Darwin’s conservation efforts and scientific research today. There’s a tortoise breeding centre, pristine beaches with wildlife like lava lizards, marine iguanas, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies, as well as scenic reserves where giant tortoises roam. Another highlight is the swimming holes, filled with surreal blue waters you can leap right into.

  • Sante Fe Island 429 x 429

    Santa Fe Island

    The 9.3-square-mile island of Santa Fe lies just southeast of Santa Cruz, popular for day trips. It’s the oldest in the Galapagos, dating back at least four million years, and boasts the widest variety of endemic wildlife species, with animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. There are large numbers of sea lions, as one of the top spots for swimming with dog-like creatures, and it’s also home to multiple types of nesting sea birds, including the famous blue-footed booby. The endemic Barrington land iguana is here and underwater, one can swim or snorkel with sharks, rays, and Galapagos reef fish.

  • San Cristobal 429 x 429

    San Cristobal

    The lushest of the islands and one of the easternmost, San Cristobal is known for its green highlands which host a freshwater lake. Along the coast are cactus, mangroves, and a coral beach. It also boasts one of the top dive sites in the Galapagos, Kicker Rock. Wildlife includes Galapagos giant tortoises, sea lions, and many different bird species. It’s the only island where three different species of booby birds and the great frigate birds nest in the same area. Junco Lagoon has been studied with sediments on the lake bottom analyzed to uncover details about the archipelago’s climate and vegetation thousands of years ago.

  • Espanola Island 429 x 429

    Espanola Island

    The southernmost island in the archipelago, Espanola is just 23-square-miles in size, yet it’s home to a surprising number of endemic species. One can witness the waves albatross, Espanola mockingbird, Espanola lava lizard, and the Espanola giant tortoise which became nearly extinct with just a handful left in the 1960s. There are nearly 2,000 now, thanks to conservation efforts. The island is also home to sea lions, Nazca and blue-footed boobies. Gardner Bay is a popular spot with its white sandy beach where sea lions like to lounge around in the sun. Humpback whales may be seen from June through October.

 
Sea Lions Beach IS 1

Life On Board a Galapagos Cruise

The Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador is truly one of the world’s most spectacular destinations. Home to an astonishing variety of endemic species — enough to inspire a theory of origin and evolution itself. The archipelago is also one of the few places on earth where adventurers can observe unafraid wildlife up close.

UTC offers Small-Ship Cruising within the Galápagos National Park, which is restricting visitor numbers to preserve its fragile ecosystem. Our new small Luxury & First-Class Yachts offer small-group sizes of 16-20 passengers, Level 3 naturalist guides, state-of-the-art technology and sleek design for safe and agile navigation through the unique Galápagos’ archipelago.

This remote Archipelago of 18 islands and more than 100 small islets lies around 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Its proximity to the equator, volcanic activity, and influence from three ocean currents (Humboldt, Panama, and Cromwell) created a distinctive set of environmental conditions that allowed for a unique land and marine ecosystems to develop over the course of four million years.

 

Our Galapagos Cruise Ships

  • Ocean Spray

    Ocean Spray

    Ocean Spray accommodates just 16 passengers in spacious, luxury cabins that all include private balconies for enjoying the fresh air and sweeping ocean views. The welcoming briefing area provides a space for the enriching talks given by dedicated naturalist guides, while breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the indoor dining room or open-air upper deck lounge.

  • Infinity

    Infinity

    Providing lots of luxurious comforts, Infinity is a beautiful yacht designed with small groups and families in mind. She includes two extra-spacious suites and eight cabins, some of which are interconnected. All come with private balconies and panoramic windows for enjoying the passing views. Each one has a private en-suite bathroom, flat-screen TV and DVD player. With a crew of 14 and a maximum of just 20 guests, she has one of the lowest guest-to-crew ratios in the fleet, ensuring personalized service.

 

Excursions

  • Quito Ecuador 429 x 429

    Stroll the Old Town of Quito

    Visit Old Town, the most alluring section of Ecuador’s capital. The historic centre’s main square, Independence Plaza, is lined with many impressive historical buildings, including the Presidential Palace and the main cathedral. From El Panecillo Hill, you’ll be able to take in spectacular panoramic views over the city and surrounding mountains.

  • Charles Darwin Station 429 x 429

    Charles Darwin Research Station

    Located on Santa Cruz Island, visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station is an opportunity to learn about Galapagos conservation in action. The main attraction for visitors are the baby tortoises that are raised here, although you can also see land iguanas, giant tortoises, and interest exhibits focused on the archipelago.

  • Rabida Island Lava 429 x 429

    Walk the Lava Field of Rabida

    Rabida is a small island with red sandy shores. Steeply sloped, it has one of the highest concentrations of volcanic features in the Galapagos. The soil and sands are red due to the iron-rich lava deposits. Walking the lava field is a unique experience that brings plenty of photo-ops.

  • Sierra Negra Volcano 429 x 429

    Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

    Sierra Negra is the only volcano of the five active volcanoes on Isabela Island that can be hiked, and it must be done with a guide. The incline is gradual, but it takes about 5 to 6 hours from start to finish. Under the heat of the equatorial sun, it can be strenuous for some.

  • Swim off Fernandina 429 x 429

    Snorkel and Swim off Fernandina

    Fernandina is a favorite when it comes to swimming and snorkelling, as you’ll be among rays, turtles, penguins, sea lions, sharks, and marine iguanas. A guide can bring you to one of the best spots where you’ll be able to observe all the marine life and even the flightless cormorants that fish along the shore.

  • Walk tortoise 429 x 429

    Walk with Giants on Isabela

    If you want to walk among the giant tortoises, the Galapagos’ most iconic animal, Isabela is a great place to do it. A short hike inland from Urbina Bay will bring you to see them in their natural habitat. They can often be encountered rambling along the same path.

 

Q&A

Maite 260 x 280
From

Maite our Galapagos Specialist

When is the best time to travel to Galapagos?

Galapagos is a year-round destination, so there is no “best” or “worse” time of the year to travel. Since we are in the Equator, there is a minimum temperature variation through the year. Choosing when to travel, depends more on what you want to see. Decembre through May is the warm season, where you get a bit more rain, and you can see more lush vegetation. The dry season is from June until November resulting in colder waters which bring more nutrients, therefore increasing the marine life.

Is Galapagos a family-friendly destination?

Absolutely, as it is a wonderful learning experience for the whole family. It is great to teach your children about appreciating nature and being respectful of all living things. But it is important to check the minimum age required to travel, as most cruises don’t allow children under 6 years old on board.

 

Is Galapagos accessible for people with disabilities?

Depends on the disability. People with serious mobility issues will find that Galapagos has very irregular and rugged terrain with no ramps or easily accessible paths. Cruises are not really prepared for wheelchairs, neither are the trails in which the visits to the islands take place.

 

How long should I stay in the Galapagos for?

It is up to you, but if you want a more in-depth experience, we suggest staying there for at least 5 days. Factors to consider when deciding on the right option for you will be thinking about just how passionate you are about the wildlife, along with how long you want to spend on a boat with the same people. Remember that Galapagos has 19 islands in a total area of 45.000 sq km (17.000 sq miles), so the longer you stay, the more you will be able to see.

 

Why book with Unforgettable Travel Co.

  • 100% Financial Protection

    100% Financial Protection

    We are a licensed and fully bonded tour operator financially protected by both the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL) and the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT). All clients that travel with us are fully financially protected.

  • Destination Experts

    Destination Experts

    Our travel experts live and breathe the destinations they specialise in. This shows in their passionate to create hand crafted trips for our clients. We don’t offer cookie cutter trips, just truly unforgettable journeys unlike any other.

  • The Best Guides

    The Best Guides

    What makes our trips extraordinary is the unique immersive experiences we include. We pride ourselves in our black book of sought after expert guides, game rangers and local contacts who believe in our philosophy, unforgettable.

  • We Care

    We Care

    From the moment you book your trip, we are on hand 24/7 to assist you throughout your journey. With regional offices around the world, we have ground logistics teams on hand to help you every step of the way.