Sunning with sea lions. Hiking over lava rocks on uninhabited islands. Getting up close and personal with giant tortoises, before retiring to the comfort of a sophisticated yacht where a cool drink is waiting.
This is exactly what guests of Ecoventura can expect on a luxury Galapagos cruise, on one of the company’s voyages through the incredible islands.
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The Ecuador-based company has three expedition yachts—Theory, Origin and Letty—that hold up to 20 passengers each during trips around the ‘Enchanted Islands.’
Ecoventura is also member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux Association thanks to their exceptional service, unforgettable experiences and commitment to environmental conservation. It’s no surprise there’s such a big focus on sustainability, given the pristine area where Ecoventura operates.
While passengers on the one or two week-long jaunts are usually made up of couples or families, the boats have also hosted a certain dot-com billionaire, as well as a couple of movie stars (sorry, I’m not allowed to name names!)—so you never know who might show up.
Ecoventura’s Galapagos cruise ships
Origin and Theory are the two newest yachts in Ecoventura’s fleet, boasting spacious, light-filled staterooms with sweeping views. There are various configurations to accommodate all groups, including king-size beds cabins with interconnecting doors, two-bedroom suites and triples with a pull-down berth which are ideal for families.
Amenities include fine linens, private bathrooms, biodegradable toiletries and climate controls.
The expansive sundecks are a highlight, complete with plush lounge chairs, daybeds, a wet bar and even a jacuzzi. Other onboard amenities include a library, gym, lounge and boutique.
Letty is a more budget-conscious option, with cabins ranging from double beds to two singles to triples including a bunk bed. Despite their compact size, there’s loads of storage in every nook and cranny of the cabin, and the stewards keeps them spic and span (like, leave-for-five-minutes-and-they’ve-already-made-the bed clean).
The private bathrooms are also stocked with biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner, which go hand-in-hand with Ecoventura’s environmental protection practices.
Life onboard a Galapagos Island cruise
Yachts have about a dozen crew members, which includes the captain, cooks, steward, bartender/server and two naturalists—AKA walking, talking encyclopedias who have an astounding knowledge of everything Galapagos.
Every day, the group is split in half and paired up with a naturalist, who will guide you around the different islands while explaining the geography, pointing out animals, and fending off sharks as you snorkel (just kidding…sorta).
Our guides Gustavo and Cecibel were absolute gems, and their 6 a.m. wakeup calls set to the sweet sounds of Dido were hilarious!
Excursions start at dawn in attempt to beat the heat, and will see you chow down a big breakfast before heading off to an island via panga (also known as a zodiac) to explore for a few hours. A snack and fresh juice is waiting when you return, and there may be time to snorkel near the boat or simply lounge on the top deck before lunch.
The second half of the day includes more island time or a chance to go on a kayak or snorkel excursion. Of course, being a vacation, all outings are optional. Dinner is usually served around 7 p.m., and most people head to bed by 10 p.m. Prepare to fall asleep to the rocking waves, as the boat sails between islands overnight.
Each of the Galapagos Islands trips last seven nights, and the key benefit of sailing on a smaller boat is more flexibility.
For example, whenever we saw a dolphin or whale, the captain was happy to quickly change course in hopes of getting closer to the mammals. Since Ecoventura only has 20 people on board, it only takes about five minutes to board or disembark the pangas, which means more time on the islands and less time sitting in a sweltering, tiny motorboat.
To put that in perspective, some Galapagos Islands cruises hold 90 people can take up to half an hour to unload, which also means you’re out of luck if you forget something and need to turn around!
What you’ll see during Galapagos Islands tours
Incredibly diverse landscapes make up the Galapagos, boasting everything from dazzling white sand beaches to craggy cliffs with crashing waves. As such, the species vary greatly, and many are endemic to the islands. (FYI, you will hear the word ‘endemic’ a lot—it means an animal or plant that is only found in a certain area).
It’s absolutely mind-blowing how many animals you’ll see up close; here’s a short list of just some that we saw:
- Sharks, whales, dolphins, penguins
- Eagle rays/sting rays
- Sea turtles and tortoises
- Flamingos, owls, frigates
- Sea lions—everywhere!
- Blue-footed booby, red-footed booby, Nazca booby
WATCH: If you time your trip right, you might also see animals mating—the blue-footed booby dance is so cute!
Along with all the animals, there are also incredible landscapes which are a photographers dream.
For example, Bartolome is volcanic and its craters are like something from outer space—in fact, movies have been filmed there! Espanola is home to dazzling white sand beaches, while Floreana has lush vegetation. With 13 major islands, there’s no shortage of things to see which is why Ecoventura has two different itineraries.
Dining on an Ecoventura Galapagos Islands cruise
Now the part you’ve been waiting for: the food! All meals are included, which are made up of buffet breakfast, BBQ lunch, and a plated dinner with vegetarian options. Snacks are available at the bar all day, and there’s an open bar with wine, beer, spirits, juice, sodas, coffee and tea.
Oh, and you know what else is at the bar? Sea sickness pills! Be warned that you’ll feel a lot of movement as the yachts are small, so some guests might felt nauseous at points throughout the trip.
Fortunately, it usually isn’t anything that can’t be fixed with a few pills, and the captain just so happens to have a pharmacy at his disposal should you come down with anything else.
All in all, our week in the Galapagos Islands was absolutely incredible, and without question is something everyone should have high up on their bucket list.
Tips for booking an Ecoventura Galapagos cruise
When to go: December to May are the warmest months, and March is excellent due to the mating seasons of animals, low winds and hot weather. August and September aren’t recommended, due to high winds which result in choppy water.
Cost: Pricing starts at $5100 per person for an eight day, seven night adventure which includes all meals, an open bar, kayaking and snorkelling equipment and guided excursions. Tips ($200 per person is the recommendation), airfare and park fees are not included.
Getting there: A handful of airlines fly directly to the Galapagos Islands from Guayaquil, and there are also routes from Quito (usually with quick stopover in Guayaquil.)
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- A complete packing list for Galapagos Islands
- A guide to Bartolome island and Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos
- The crazy adventure of delivering a Galapagos Islands postcard
- Exploring the Galapagos Islands: Tortoises in the Santa Cruz Highlands
Globe Guide travelled to the Galapagos as a guest of Ecoventura, Hotel Oro Verde and AeroGal. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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Sweet. I always wanted to check out the Galapagos, and your description sounds like so much fun. I am so internet-dependent that a week on a boat without internet sounds both wonderful and a little unnerving lol. I’d sure love to commune with the animals like that. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Ha! You should have seen the moment we touched down on the one island that did have internet access- beelines for the cafes! However, it was extremely spotty at best so we gave up about 10 minutes in…and to be honest it was kind of a relief 🙂
Love the photos – sounds like an amazing trip. I went several years ago and am dying to go back. We’ll have to check out this cruise when we do. We went swimming with the sea lions, which is an experience I will never forget! Glad you had such a great time as well!
Thanks Phoebe! Sounds like you did the self-guided trip instead of a cruise tour, I’d be interested to know which method you prefer if you ever get the chance to do a Galapagos cruise as well.
I see familiar places – Plazas island 😉 I wish I got to see Blue Footed Boobies dancing tho!
I see familiar places like Plazas island. Too bad I didn’t get to see Blue Footed Boobies dancing! 🙁
Aww too bad! I think you have to go during the right season to see them doing that- we went in March. It was definitely a highlight of the trip!
I have to see the mating dance in person! That will be my sole incentive to save for this trip! It is sooo awesome!
Hi Cristina, it was such a treat! It went on for about 10 minutes until we finally decided to pack it in…and they were still going!
Looks like an amazing tour of the island!!