Everyone knows of the Galapagos Islands. In fact, I’d go as far as saying most people probably have these islands near the top of their bucket lists. The islands are famous for the sheer number of endemic species and because they were studied by Charles Darwin. His observations contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection which is pretty much a bedrock theory in modern biology. Luckily for the world, all the Galapagos Islands are under the protection of the government of Ecuador making the islands a giant national park.
Alfred and I are very fortunate in that we were able to visit and explore these islands recently. We actually joined up with the Nomadic Boys for the cruise they hosted in October in partnership with Ishpingo Tours. It was an incredible 10-day adventure exploring all the islands had to offer. The wildlife on the islands have no fear of human beings which is rather rare on this Earth and we saw so many different species. From Blue-Footed Boobies to large sea turtles, to giant land tortoises to reef sharks, sea lions, Albatross, Eagle Rays, iguanas, and more…it was like a cageless zoo of wonders. This, in combination with the striking landscapes, was a dream come true for us!
The one thing that made the trip even better was our accommodations. We cruised from one Galapagos destination to another via the M/Y Passion, a luxury yacht. Let me tell you, the luxury yacht experience is life changing to say the least. During our stay, aboard, anything we could possibly need or want was promptly addressed. Our suite was situated on the bow of the ship and included a large queen-size bed, soft carpet, a private hallway, TWO bathrooms, a garden tub, and plenty of window space which allowed perfect lighting. We felt rather spoiled with the room alone. All of our meals were phenomenal and there was always a cocktail in my hand when I needed it. I can’t imagine exploring the wonders of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Galapagos under any other circumstances.
Even better…our cruise was gay!
If you plan to visit the Galapagos Islands, I highly suggest booking a cruise aboard a private yacht. The service we experienced aboard the M/Y Passion is outstanding and it only contributed to our overall positive experience. Nevertheless, there are a few things you should know when it comes to cruising in the Galapagos Islands.
1) Luxury Is Awesome
As I’ve already said, our luxury accommodations really contributed to our experience of the Galapagos Islands. Who doesn’t like luxury, after all? It’s nice to have someone answer your every want and need all while exploring some of the most rugged terrain out there. We’d leave in the morning for our excursions spending the day swimming, hiking, and sightseeing. Upon our arrival, we were always greeted with delicious snacks and refreshing beverages. Nothing like relaxing in luxury at the end of a long day of trekking. It’s nice to have the best of both worlds.
If you plan to embark on a Galapagos, you should know it is different than any other cruise you may have taken before. This isn’t like one of the larger Caribbean cruises and it’s definitely not a party cruise. It’s important to keep in mind that you decided to take a trip to the Galapagos to explore the wonders of these islands. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember given your surroundings and most nights you’ll be exhausted from all the activities of the day. You won’t even want to party and that’s OK.
3) Prepare for Sea Sickness
This should go without saying, but you might experience motion or sea sickness. A boat is still a boat when it comes to this aspect of sailing. The yacht we sailed on was very stable but there was one night when the waters were so rough that a few of us on the ship became ill. This is a given. Just be prepared by purchasing sea sickness medication ahead of time, drink ginger tea, or eat ginger to calm your stomach. No one can control the sea. Don’t let it ruin your experience.
4) Experience Galapagos At Your Leisure
Our group consisted of about 11 gay men and we had a guide dedicated to our experience named Santiago. He’d take us out each day and we’d explore, hike, swim, snorkel, or just relax on the beach. Since our ship was anchored just a short distance away, there was no real rush to any of our excursions. That being said, the government of Ecuador has regulations regarding the amount of time groups can spend on any one island. As long as that rule is respected, you have the leisure to explore the island at your group’s pace.
5) Not All Boats Are Created Equally
Lucky for us, our yacht was pretty stable, the staff was friendly, and the service was impeccable. But not all charters are as amazing as the M/Y Passion. Certain types of boats are not very stable and don’t handle rough waters that well. Just be sure to do your research and make the best choice possible given your desires, your budget, and your time constrains.
The government of Ecuador requires all visitors to the Galapagos to have a certified national park guide with them at all times. If you don’t have a guide, you aren’t exploring the islands or their waters. It’s impossible. You should also listen to your guide at all times. Follow his or her directions because it’s usually for your own safety and the safety of the fragile ecosystem.
7) Once in A Lifetime
Any cruise you take in the Galapagos is going to cost you a pretty penny. They aren’t cheap. At the low end, (for a day cruise) it might run around $800 per person…at the high end it could run anywhere from $2000-$6000. Sometimes it could cost even more depending on the ship and level of luxury. Something to remember is it’s a once in a lifetime experience. If you have the opportunity, do it. It’s not every day you get to explore one of the most unique places in the world.
8) Day Cruises Can Be an Alternative
As I already said, day cruises is a more affordable option for exploring the Galapagos. Basically, you lodge in one of the three towns in the Galapagos- Santa Cruz, Baltra (a.k.a. Seymour), and Floreana (a.k.a. Charles or Santa Marta). Then you head out each day on a boat and explore the islands. The downside to this is the boat ride is usually about 2.5 hours or longer so you’re spending a lot of time on a boat and far less time exploring. However, it’s a pretty affordable option since it only costs between $500-$800 for around 5 days.
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