For those who are up to speed with developments in the world of cruising will already know that the ultra luxurious line, Silversea, has launched in the Galapagos Islands. The 100 guest Silver Galapagos mainly does 7 day voyages starting at £3550 per person although they occasionally do 3 night itineraries as well starting at £1520.
But is it necessary to fork out quite so much money for this holiday of a lifetime? Can you not do it for a little bit less?
Cruising in the Galapagos is not a cheap holiday by any stretch of the imagination. There tends to be four different classes of boats; economic, tourist class, first class and luxury. And obviously the prices can greatly differ. On economic boats you usually share cabins and bathrooms, eat average food and have not so competent guides. On tourist boats you might get private cabins but they will be small and basic and again the guides may not be the best or speak particularly good English. Things change considerably on the first class boats though, excellent guides, good food and comfortable cabins with air-con and hot water. It seems that the biggest difference between the first class and luxury boats is the food, good in first class but delicious in luxury. They might also have a pool or hot tub on board but the cabins are unlikely to be any bigger.
The larger the ships the more amenities they have which for some people may equal more luxurious. However there are plenty of 16 passenger yachts which are super luxurious and with a price tag to match. It is worth keeping in mind if you suffer with sea-sickness the size of the boat. The larger ones cope better with the choppy waters and in turn with your stomach. On the flip side these larger boats can detract from your experience – being herded around and also having to share these magical isles with quite a lot of other people! For some a smaller and more intimate boat is preferable. The smaller yachts also normally allow you to have more time on the islands which of course is always a bonus. You have to work out what you define as luxury!
One of the most important things to remember about Galapagos cruising is that it’s unlike any other type of cruise. Although of course you will have time for a little relaxation, they are generally active trips. Each day getting up early, visiting different islands, hiking, swimming, lectures in the evening etc. It is quite different from a leisurely cruise around the Caribbean for example. But most people who go do so because they already know something about the islands and it’s marine and wildlife and are desperate to see it all for themselves. The smaller boats / yachts feel more like a sailing trip than a cruise which is also something to keep in mind when considering which boat to choose.
So there are a few things to think about when choosing which cruise is best for you and as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. As it is most likely a trip that you will only make once in your lifetime, really pushing the “boat” out seems very apt.
To get there you will have to go from mainland Ecuador and although many people just use it as a gateway to the Galapagos this small South American country should not be overlooked as there is plenty to see and do there. For inspiration on where to stay have a look at www.historichaciendas.com
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