The best way to experience the Galapagos Islands is aboard a small-ship cruise.

With the many cruises for the Galapagos, it can be difficult to choose a vessel for your experience. The larger vessels that accommodate 50 to 100 visitors can seem crowded and lack the personal touch of smaller vessels.

A small-ship cruise keeps the experience intimate and provides a more personal tour of this incredible region.

The following tours are our selection of small ship Galapagos Cruises defined as accommodating 20 people or less. These include luxury-class, first-class and adventure-class ships to suit a diversity of preferences.

  1. The Ocean Spray

    Ocean Spray - Luxury Cruise, Galapagos Islands

    The Ocean Spray is a luxury-class catamaran to explore the Galapagos Islands in a high levels of comfort.

    Enjoy a vessel designed to maximize comfort and performance as you travel from island to island. Enjoy guided tours around the islands to find incredible wildlife. In addition to wildlife walks, you can enjoy snorkeling and kayaking tours to explore different reefs and bays.

    The Ocean Spray offers spacious and comfortable accommodation, a sundeck and a jacuzzi. You will then enjoy delicious cuisine in the vessel’s elegantly designed dining room. The private balcony of your accommodation then provides a way to maintain connection to this incredible environment.

    Aboard the Ocean Spray, you have a choice of 4-day, 5-day, 6-day and 8-day cruises as well as a 15-day mega cruise to fully explore the Galapagos.

    To provide a summary of the islands and wildlife you will enjoy, here is a summary of the Ocean Spray 8-day cruise ‘B’ itinerary.

    The Ocean Spray Cruise B itinerary begins on San Cristobal Island to enjoy the sea lions and the famous Leon Dormido Galapagos landform. You will also enjoy beautiful bays, beaches and some fantastic wildlife sightings, including sharks, rays and tropical fish.

    You will then visit Floreana Island to see the wildlife-rich Devil’s Crown where you can snorkel to spot a diversity of colorful fish.

    After this, enjoy a beautiful bay on Santa Cruz Island to see diverse marine life before visiting Pinnacle Rock, which is another iconic landmark in the Galapagos.

    The next day, explore the beautiful coral beach at Darwin Bay and the Prince Phillip’s Steps, which lead you through Galapagos birdlife up a steep path.

    The next day will be spent exploring the island of Genovesa, including Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer Cove and Puerto Egas. Around Genovesa, enjoy hearing stories about pirates, view the beautiful black-sand beach, and see some incredible wildlife.

    On the last two days, you will explore North Seymour Island, the highlands of Santa Cruz and Mosquera Island. While here, you can spot iconic giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, orcas and other Galapagos wildlife.

  2. The Petrel Galapagos Cruise

    Petrel Cruise, Galapagos Islands

    The Petrel Galapagos Cruise is another luxury vessel to explore the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy up close experiences with iconic Galapagos wildlife. Enjoy guided island walks, kayaking tours and snorkeling the waters.

    In addition to incredible wildlife, learn about the fascinating history and see some iconic and beautiful landmarks, beaches and scenery.

    The Petrel is a motorized catamaran designed for performance, comfort and stability. Enjoy a comfortable cruise as you move from island to island to explore the Galapagos archipelago.

    Aboard the Petrel, you have a choice of different itineraries available with two alternative itineraries for each of their 6-day and 8-day cruises. The also offer a cruise of 4-days and 5-days for those who have less time available.

    To give an example of what to expect, here is a summary of the 4-day cruise aboard the Petrel:

    You will begin the cruise by exploring San Cristobal Island. Enjoy a visit to the Interpretation Center and the giant tortoise breeding center for an introduction of what to expect on these incredible islands.

    The next day will be spent on Floreana Island. Here, you will explore Devil’s Crown, Cormorant Point and the Post Office Bay. Enjoy some fantastic wildlife sightings, such as sharks, rays and hundreds of tropical fish as you snorkel wildlife-rich areas. Visit the saltwater lagoon to see flamingos then learn about the human history of Post Office Bay.

    After Floreana, you will visit Santa Cruz Island and the Charles Darwin Research Center before returning home with a transfer to the airport.

  3. The Camila Galapagos Cruise

    The Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise

    One of the newest luxury catamarans for the Galapagos Islands, enjoy fantastic Galapagos tours, snorkeling adventures and kayaking trips.

    Designed for performance, comfort and stability, cruise from island to island enjoying some incredible and iconic Galapagos wildlife and scenery.

    The Camila offers spacious and comfortable suites, luxurious interiors, balconies and a jacuzzi.

    On Camila itineraries, enjoy guided tours of the islands, diverse wildlife, beautiful scenery and some fascinating bays, beaches and marine areas.

  4. The Eco Galaxy Galapagos Cruise

    The Eco Galapagos Cruise

    The Eco Galaxy Galapagos Cruise offers a comfortable experience aboard a first-class vessel. Enjoy spacious and comfortable cabins and well-equipped bathrooms. The vessel offers comfortable accommodation, social areas, the bar, sundeck and balconies.

    In addition to enjoying the Eco Galaxy vessel itself, head out from the main vessel on guided island tours. See some incredible wildlife and beautiful scenery as you cruise from island to island.

    Aboard the Eco Galaxy Cruise, you have a choice of the 4-day, 5-day, 6-day and 8-day itineraries.

    As an example, the 6-day cruise ‘B’ itinerary begins on Santa Cruz Island and a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about the islands and for an introduction of what to expect on your cruise.

    The itinerary then includes Isabela Island, Fernandina, Santiago and Rabida Island. Enjoy some incredible wildlife and beautiful scenery.

  5. The Alya Galapagos Cruise

    The Alya Galapagos Cruise

    The Alya Galapagos Cruise offers a luxury catamaran to enjoy a cruise of the Galapagos Islands. As one of the newest vessels for the islands, the Alya offers comfort, personalized service, spacious suites and elegantly styled living areas.

    In addition to enjoying the comfortable suites and social areas, you will also enjoy delicious cuisine in the Alya’s dining room. The dining room is surrounded by windows to keep you connected to this incredible environment. You can then enjoy a variety of drinks in the bar.

    You can then enjoy a choice of itineraries dependent on where you wish to explore and how many days you have available on the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy guided island walks to find incredible wildlife, visit beautiful beaches, and kayaking and snorkeling opportunities to see abundant marine life.

  6. The Galaxy Galapagos Cruise

    The Galaxy Yacht Galapagos Cruise

    The Galaxy Galapagos Cruise offers a comfortable cruise of the Galapagos Islands. The vessel has Smart Voyager Certification and offers spacious cabins, private bathrooms and comfortable social areas. You will then enjoy a delicious selection of foods in the dining room while enjoying fantastic views. The bar then divides the social areas from the restaurant.

    On your Galaxy Galapagos Cruise, enjoy guided island exploration and different activities to appreciate this unique environment. Visit some of the iconic landmarks on the Galapagos and enjoy beautiful scenery and many different animals.

    You can choose a variety of itineraries aboard the Galaxy Cruise, including 4-day, 5-day, 6-day and 8-day cruises.

    To provide an example of where you will visit, the Galaxy Galapagos Cruise 6-day ‘C’ itinerary includes a visit to Santa Cruz, Rabida, Sombrero Island, Seymour, Mosquera, Santiago, Bartolome, Genovesa and San Cristobal. You will visit some of the favorite destinations on each of these islands to enjoy the best the Galapagos has to offer.

  7. The Nemo III Galapagos Cruise

    The Nemo III Galapagos Cruise

    The Nemo III offers a motor-sail catamaran to enjoy guided tours of the Galapagos Islands. In addition to hopping from island to island, enjoy guided tours of the islands themselves to find iconic Galapagos wildlife.

    The Nemo III vessel itself offers comfortable accommodation, private bathrooms, jacuzzi and a sundeck. In the dining room, you will then enjoy three meals each day between your island excursions. The vessel is also air-conditioned to keep you comfortable on cruise.

    To give you an idea of what to expect, the 8-day Nemo III Galapagos Cruise itinerary includes a visit to:

    • Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz
    • The Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay on Genovesa
    • Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island
    • Dragon Hill and the highlands on Santa Cruz
    • The Giant Tortoise Breeding Center
    • Moreno Point and Urbina Bay on Isabela
    • Espinoza Point on Fernandina
    • Taguz Cove on Isabela
    • Egas Port and Buccaneer Cove on Santiago
    • Daphne Island

    While exploring these favorite areas of the Galapagos Islands, your guide will be helping you find some incredible wildlife. Enjoy the iconic marine iguanas, sea lions, blue footed boobies, pelicans, colorful fish and giant tortoises.

  8. The Nemo II Galapagos Cruise

    The Nemo II Galapagos Cruise

    The Nemo II is a motor-sail catamaran offering an island-hopping cruise of the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy a cruise of the northern or southern islands over either 4, 5 or 8-days.

    The Nemo II offers double cabins with a personal bathroom. In the dining room, you will then enjoy 3 meals each day prepared freshly by talented chefs. The rooms on the Nemo II are air-conditioned to keep you comfortable on your cruise.

    You will then enjoy guided tours around the islands themselves to find fantastic wildlife, beautiful bays and enjoy stunning scenery.

    On your Nemo II Cruise, you can choose between two itineraries that visit either the northern or the southern islands.

    To provide an example, here’s a summary of the 8-day northern itinerary aboard the Nemo II Cruise:

    You will begin your cruise on Baltra Island where you will first cruise to Seymour Island. Here, you will find a diversity of Galapagos birds, including the royal frigates.

    The next day, you will visit the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, which offers a fascinating landscape and viewing the famous giant tortoises. You will also visit the Charles Darwin Research Center in the afternoon to learn a little more about the Galapagos and the wildlife.

    The evening will be spent on cruise to Isabela Island ready for the following morning.

    The next day, you will enjoy some beautiful scenery with a visit to Punta Moreno with its fascinating volcanic landscape. Enjoy spotting different birds, marine iguanas and see the coral reef.

    After this, you will spend the following day at Tagus Cove to learn the history of pirates, buccaneers, and whalers visiting the islands. The area is also inhabited by Galapagos penguins, pelicans and flightless cormorants.

    The afternoon will be spent at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina. The area is rich in wildlife, such as sea lions, flightless cormorant and one of the largest populations of iguanas on the islands.

    On the itinerary, you will also enjoy sea turtles at the beautiful Espumilla beach and the dark red sand of Rabida Island. Here, you can also watch and snorkel with playful sea lions.

    The final day will be spent around Daphne Island to enjoy different birds and the scenery before a delicious breakfast and your return journey home.

  9. The Galapagos Habit Hotel Package Tours

    The Red Mangrove Hotel, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    You can also enjoy island hopping packages from the Galapagos Habitat Hotel (previously called the Red Mangrove). Enjoy luxury accommodation in your Galapagos Habitat suite then board a cruise vessel for exploring the nearby islands. Enjoy a choice of itinerary options or customize your experience to your interests.

    The Galapagos Habitat hotel offers tailor made itineraries to explore the islands with a combination of the hotel and island-hopping by cruise vessel. You will enjoy guided hiking tours on different islands to find Galapagos animals.

    The Galapagos Habitat Hotel itself is positioned on the island of Santa Cruz next to the Charles Darwin Research Center, which is one of the island’s top attractions. The hotel is home to one of the highest rated restaurant on the islands and is also nearby many more, as well as art galleries, souvenir shops, cafes and other attractions. Even at the Galapagos Habitat hotel itself you can find marine iguanas visiting the deck and sea lions lounging on deckchairs.

    The Galapagos Habitat Hotel

    The Galapagos Habitat Hotel

    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America
    Price per person from $
    Offering very comfortable accommodation and package tours for the Galapagos Islands, the Galapagos Habitat Hotel More info
  10. The Mary Anne

    If you would like to explore the Galapagos Islands in a traditional manner, you can enjoy a cruise aboard the Mary Anne sailing ship.

    The vessel brings to life images of early sailors and explorers as they navigated the islands. Enjoy the 3-masted 216 ft. (65.84 m) barquentine sailing ship for an incredible experience of the Galapagos Islands.

    Without the sound of an engine, the vessel is frequently accompanied by dolphins and even whales on occasion adding to your Galapagos experience.

    The sailing ship itself offers sun decks, a lounge, and a library in addition to comfortable accommodation. In addition to relaxing with a book or resting between excursions, the social areas also provide great areas for wildlife viewing.

    Accommodation aboard the Mary Anne is composed of 12 cabins (including 6 double cabins and 6 single cabins). Four of the double cabins offer one double lower-berth and a single upper-berth bed.

    In addition to an incredible cruise experience, enjoy guided exploration of the islands themselves. Choose from different itineraries, including snorkeling, trail walks, kayaking and incredible wildlife watching opportunities. Led by naturalist guides, have some fantastic photography experiences of iconic Galapagos wildlife.

  11. Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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