The most common way to visit the Galapagos Isles is on a cruise, which provides visitors the unique opportunity to see the uninhabited islands in the archipelago. Within the Galapagos Isles, the cruises and yachts are divided into five classes: Economic Class, Tourist Class, Tourist Superior Class, First Class, and Luxury Class.
Galapagos Islands National Park controls the itineraries for distribution throughout the islands; for this reason all Galapagos Islands cruises have specific itineraries and start dates. You can embark on certain cruises only on certain days. Also keep in mind that not every yacht offers scuba diving, and not every yacht can meet special dietary requierments. Be sure to ask your cruise provider for this information before booking.
Galapagos Economy Class Yachts
These are a common option for people traveling on a budget that do not mind not having the most luxurious accommodations and amenities, such as young travelers and backpackers. The cabins on board these yachts a very small, and some do not have private bathrooms or hot water. However, they follow the same route and itineraries as most of the higher class yachts, but without the luxuries, and are accompanied by a Galapagos National Park certified naturalist guide.
Galapagos Tourist Class Yachts
The difference between the onboard amenities and accommodations between Tourist Class and Economy Class yachts do not differ much, but on a Tourist Class Yacht the cabins will be slightly larger and usually have air-conditioning. However, the organization is better, and these boats have higher trained and better English speaking guides (Naturalist II).
Galapagos Tourist Superior Class Yachts
Yachts in this category have air-conditioning, moderately spacious social areas (sun deck, dining room, living room) and double cabins with private bathrooms. Food is of better quality, and usually can accommodate arrangements for special dietary needs. The yacht crew is better trained, and while the guides are still category Naturalist II, they are better informed and have a higher level of English than guides on Tourist Class Yachts.
Galapagos First Class Yachts
Yachts in this category are very comfortable and spacious, and comply with all international standards for superior cruise ships. These boats have double ocean view cabins with private facilities, cold and hot water, and spacious social areas (sun deck, dining room, living room). Food is of high quality and arrangements can be made to meet special dietary needs. These yachts have a highly trained crew and a Naturalist II or Naturalist III guide (University degree or equivalent), meaning they will have scientific knowledge of the flora and fauna, as well as the evolutionary history of the archipelago.
Galapagos Luxury Class Yachts
Luxury Class Yachts meet the highest international standards for yacht construction, maintenance of facilities, and safety standards and procedures. These yachts also have double ocean view cabins with private facilities, cold and hot water, and very spacious social areas. The cabins also have satellite phones and TV/Video. Food is prepared by an onboard chef, and arrangements can be made for special dietary needs. Guides on these boats are the most informed and highest trained (Naturalist III).
The Galapagos Isles