Let's start with size. Size does matter here, but bigger is not better. There are a lot of Galápagos boats to choose from: around 100 vessels ranging from boutique sailing yachts, catamarans and motor cruisers, up to big 100-guest capacity expedition ships.
Land visits from the boats are limited to 16 people. So larger capacity crafts have to keep groups quite strictly timetabled - meaning less flexibility to just take advantage of unexpected sightings. It also takes longer to get everyone on and off the boat meaning less time on land. The limits don't apply in the water. So you could be snorkelling and swimming with a lot of other people.
You probably won't be surprised to know then that we prefer small boats of ideally 16 to 20 people. They're more intimate, more personal and offer more flexibility. They can also anchor closer to the bays, so it’s easier to get everyone ashore in one go and this gives you more precious time on land. Whilst you'll inevitably spend more time with fellow passengers and crew on a small boat, if you embrace it, you’ll likely find that getting to know them is one of the real pleasures of your adventure.
Of course, it's not just about the size of the boat. The quality of the itinerary is perhaps the most crucial factor and that's where we can really add our experience and opinions to help you find the right one for you...
You will tend to see itineraries divided up between north, south, east and west. These all offer very different landscapes and wildlife sightings, which define the overall experience you have. Most people want to see a bit of everything, so we usually recommend itineraries with variety in mind. Conversely, if you want to see something specific - say the waved albatross courtship dances - then they are found on Española and only 'perform' at a certain time, so that's where we need to make the right suggestion so you get what you're hoping for.
There are also family and adult-only departures that you may wish to consider.
Beyond the size, spec and itinerary, we will only work with partners we know and trust - good guides and crew and high levels of service. We know of boats that look lovely, but unless we know the operator we prefer not to take the risk with your holiday until we've got some proper first-hand experience.
Last but by no means least, we're passionate believers in the importance of minimising our impact on this precious environment. Some boats have better eco credentials than others and we’re happy to explain those to you too, and chat through anything else you've read through.
If you'd like to have a look at some itineraries which include our favourite boats, you can find those below.