Our Galapagos vessels survey trip included an assessment of the various vessels plying the Galapagos seas. The ships reviewed ranged from large 90-100 pax luxury vessels to the medium-sized and the small. Our on-site analysis includes a discussion of the various boats’ pros and cons with several Galapagos naturalists who have worked on many of the ships.
Update: Randy Lynch will be taking a late summer 2018 trip to the Galapagos to inspect the Endemic, among other vessels.
In terms of the smaller vessels, the wildlife experiences and the many shore activities are much enhanced, resulting in a very personal Galapagos sailing exposure. However, for those of us more susceptible to sea-sickness, these boats are much less stable and not so comfortable for sailing or sleeping. That being said, the 16 passenger capacity luxury Integrity yacht is an ideal vessel for an extended family wishing a more private Galapagos sailing experience.
Newly built and scheduled for first sailing this July 2018, the luxury-class, 16-passenger M/C Endemic offers travelers a choice of eight, six, and five-day cruises through the archipelago. The itineraries include snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking, with our certified guides introducing you to the most relevant sites. After the day’s excursions, relax in the upper deck, or in the Sky Deck’s panoramic Jacuzzi while enjoying a drink from the bars. You’ll rest well in one of the 9 comfortable cabins. Each of the cabins are equipped air conditioning control, a balcony, and spacious private bathroom, and other amenities. The Endemic’s crew members and bilingual, certified naturalist guide will ensure you have a safe and informative journey through the islands.
Integrity Luxury Yacht
The 141 ft., 318-ton Integrity yacht is the ideal vessel for extended families or groups of friends wishing for a more private luxury Galapagos sailing experience. With a 16 passenger capacity, upgraded dining options and an onboard Class II certified naturalist, the Integrity is one of the top luxury sailing experience in the Galapagos.
Though we consider many of the smaller Galápagos vessels to feel a bit too rocky and unstable, we believe the 2015 lauded M/C Petrel catamaran vessel to be a pleasant exception. The 16-PAX (8 cabins) Petrel enjoys a stability and steadiness of a large vessel, while providing a pleasant, tailor-made Galápagos sailing experience. Named after a seabird commonly seen in the Galápagos Archipelago, the Petrel truly exudes a swift elegance at sea, much the seabird itself. The newly built vessel provides a truly personal experience with a bilingual naturalist guide and a total crew of 10 people. In addition, the M/C Petrel was designed for absolute comfort with a sundeck, solarium with a Jacuzzi, outdoor bar, indoor dining room, and al-fresco dining. We highly recommend this ship if desiring a quaint yet extraordinary exploration of the Archipelago.
Although the large 90-100 passenger luxury vessels offer a more pampered cruise experiences (spacious cabins, spa, etc.), the critical downside is their limited wildlife opportunities and experiences. Based on the boats’ large size, they have less landing sites, less snorkeling/kayaking activities, and less time for the numerous shore excursions. With 100 passengers being transferred to and from the islands, the total time devoted to wildlife viewing is diminished. One of the naturalist guides referred to these larger ships as “faux Galapagos.” With that being said, medium-sized vessels are the preferred option when exploring, providing stability in the ocean to combat sea-sicknesses while offering a more in-depth experience exploring the islands.
Xperience & La Pinta
The two highest quality medium-size vessels are the Xperience and La Pinta. To be newly relaunched March 25, 2017, the Celebrity Xperience (formerly the Eclipse) should take the Galapagos mid-size ship expedition experience to a whole new level. Unlike other mid-size vessels, the Xperience will offer premium bedding, flat screen TVs, internet access, and room service! Both the Xperience and the La Pinta offer the perfect balance of a premier wildlife experience with quality comfortability and stability: stability/security of a larger ship, while not degrading the more personal, intimate wildlife off-shore experience.