The Galapagos Islands are such a special and unique place that it’s no wonder the cruising out here is special and unique as well! What are the key differences between “Mega” Caribbean Cruising and Galapagos Cruising? Let’s take a look:
Cruising in the Caribbean is generally associated with the mega ships: Some cruises boast accommodation for 3000 plus passengers! The current largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, is 362 meters (1,187 ft) in length, 63 meters (208 ft) in width, and has the capacity for 5,400 passengers, and 2,165 crew members. The structure weighs in at 225,000 gross tons!
Compare this floating city with an average Galapagos vessel, holding 16 passengers, and it’s like comparing apples and oranges! The newest catamaran to the islands, the Nina, for example, measures 32 meters in length (105 ft), is 12 meters wide (39 ft), and weighs 360 gross tons. Both boats offer the traveler a wealth of experiences, but how do those experiences vary?
The mega-ships offer lots to do while at sea: Casinos, restaurants, coffee bars, waterslides, Broadway-style shows, skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, splash pools and so much more! There are activities for young and old, from children’s programs to BINGO games and scrap booking workshops.
Galapagos cruises offer a completely different range of on-board experiences. The restaurants are replaced by personal chefs for the passengers, waiters that know your name, and Captains that eat dinner at your table! The waterslide and wave pool are replaced by daily swimming in the ocean with sea lions and a relaxing Jacuzzi under the stars. Who needs a skating rink and rock wall when your daily hikes have you visiting lagoons, scampering over lava rocks, and climbing into volcanic craters? The shows, of course, aren’t performed by professional singers and dancers, but by the fascinating Galapagos wildlife that you come across with every step. Watching the Blue Footed Booby mating dance is a performance of its own! Seeing the Waved Albatross take flight by jumping off a cliff at Española Island is a show that you’ll have a first row seat for in Galapagos!
The large cruise lines offer various shore excursions, depending on their ports of call. Stingray City in the Cayman Islands, snorkeling trips in Cozumel, scuba diving from St. Bart’s…the list goes on and on. Each port of call on your adventure offers a range of activities and highlights with an extra charge for each one.
Galapagos cruises generally offer two to three visits a day, with an average of two land visits and a snorkeling excursion per day, constant close-up whale and dolphin watching, and star gazing in the evening, all included in the cost of the cruise. Each land visit offers a completely different landscape, and brings you up close and personal to a vast array of Galapagos animals: in the water, on land, and in the sky. Galapagos boasts unique and endemic (not found anywhere else in the world) animal species, over 400 fish species, and is a birders heaven, with over 58 species of birds, and of course…the archipelago is Darwin’s Living Laboratory!
Here is where the differences between the two cruising styles lessen. Both mega-ships and Galapagos vessels offer luxury service, such as incredible cooking, experienced and professional staff members, punctual and on-going housekeeping, and service with a smile. The biggest difference with the Galapagos’ smaller ships is the level of personal service. With 10 crew and 1 guide for a 16 passenger yacht, for example, your days on board are like a “home away from home”, where staff know your name, you become friends with other passengers, and your evening 5 star meal is served up under the stars, the sound of the lapping water surrounds you, and the warm Galapagos breeze blows through your hair.
Every traveler has their own personal style and standard for taking a cruise. Why not experience the Galapagos first hand and find out for yourself everything the Enchanted Islands have to offer? The staff at www.galapagosislands.com are happy to accommodate your every need to plan this special once-in-a-lifetime experience.