If you ever hear anyone say that you ‘don’t have to spend a fortune on a Galapagos cruise’……. They are right! You can indeed see a lot of the islands and the wildlife by staying on the populated islands and going on various day trips to see some of the islands wonders. Be warned, these trips are often rather bouncy rides in small open boats. Exploring the islands this way will cost much less than going on a cruise, unless you find a short, last minute 4 day trip on one of the budget class boats that toil these waters. This island hopping was our back up plan, however we knew that to experience the full beauty and depth of this magical place we wanted to do a cruise.
The Galapagos islands are not a cheap place to get to. First you have to get to Ecuador, then pay another $400 or $500 each to get to Baltra airport, plus the $100 park fee it all adds up. Why travel all that way and pay so much to experience tiny snippets of what the islands offer?
This is why we decided to splurge and take an 8 day cruise through the islands on one of the higher end vessels. For those of you running ‘google’ searches right now, we agree it is not cheap. If you have specific dates and limited time, boats have to be booked way ahead of time and you will be looking at $4,000 to $8,000 per person for an 8 day cruise.
Even though visiting the Galapagos has long been on the bucket list, our budget wasn’t going to stretch that far, which is why we went the ‘last minute’ route. ‘Last minutes’ are just that, last minute bookings at discounted prices to fill empty berths on upcoming sailings. After carefully studying the offerings on this site we figured that we might just be able to swing a deal if we had a bit of flexibility in our schedule.
As the first and final days of a cruise are pick up and drop off days, we decided that we wanted to do at least an 8 day cruise. After all what could you actually see on a 4 day cruise? We knew that we wanted to spend some time visiting the accessible land sites in Santa Cruz as well. We were 2 months out when we went ahead, booked our flights and gave ourselves 14 days in the islands.
Now the nail biting began, how late should we wait to book our cruise? More importantly did we care what type of boat we chose or where its itinerary would take us? After hours poring over yet another useful site the answer was a definitive yes! We wanted to do the lesser travelled western itinerary which goes around the younger and more volcanically active Isabella & Fernandina. This of course limited our choice of boats. Careful study of reviews and amenities on each available vessel also allowed us to start narrowing down on our choices.
In the end we had 3 firm contenders The Anahi, The Mary Anne and The Nemo II all had a similar itinerary, a maximum of 16 passengers and good reviews. There the similarity ended, the Anahi was a luxury catamaran with a price to match, The Mary Anne was a 119 ft. sailing vessel (one of the few in the islands) and The Nemo II a smallish catamaran with only 12 guests. Which to choose?
The final choice was easier than anticipated, especially the longer we waited. The Mary Anne had become a firm favorite but the first quote just before Christmas 2016 at $2900 each was just a little too steep. With our departure to Baltra on the 10th January not that far away, we hummed and hawed, do we don’t we? Between Christmas and the New Year the price dropped to $2400, yet still we waited. With just one week to go before our flight out to the islands we booked the Mary Anne for $2100 each instead of the $4800 listed in the brochure.
Was it worth it? Absolutely!
To wet your taste buds here are a few of our photos. (Click on an image to see the slide show)
Watch this spot for a detailed breakdown of our itinerary and our adventures. Part 1 with video is coming soon.