After deciding to complete a life long dream and head to the Galapagos, you’ll be faced with a few major choices. The biggest one being- do you a.) see the islands for yourself and island hop by ferry- or do you b.) take a cruise around the unique and mysterious isles?
There are so many pros and cons to seeing the islands on your own. You can make your own itinerary. You can go where you want, when you want. You aren’t traveling in a pack of tourists. You’ll also be saving a little money. Sounds good right? It is. However, when exploring the Galapagos on your own, you tend to miss out on a lot. A naturalist guide being one of those things. A naturalist guide is basically your key to the islands. Without these guides, your tour of the islands is limited. The Galapagos are a world heritage site and are highly protected. Tourists are only allowed on marked paths and some islands are virtually unreachable without a licensed naturalist guide. They’re not only great VIP passes, but they’re also highly knowledgeable on all things Galapagos. You’ll get a better grasp on all of the unique flora and fauna of the islands.
For us, the choice wasn’t an easy one. We like to think of ourselves as independent travelers. We like to do things on our own and without an entourage of fellow tourists. We’re also budget travelers. We can’t bare to spend a ton of money when that same cash could make our trip last even longer. We also have never thought of ourselves as “cruise” travelers. We tend to rough it and live off of the adventure of the unknown.
After a lot of research and debate, we decided that it was best if we went on a cruise. It really was the only choice we had since there was no other way to get to Post Office Bay. That was our main objective, after all. We definitely had our preconceived notions of what our “luxury cruise” would be like. I pictured being on a yacht with a bunch of hoity-toity tourists. I was worried that we weren’t going to fit in and that we weren’t going to like someone dictating our schedule. Well friends, we were wrong. So wrong.
Voyagers Travel was our cruise agency of choice and they did not disappoint. In a matter of hours they had us set up to sail on the beautiful Galapagos Odyssey. For the girl that never thought she’d like cruises, I sure adapted well. Did you know that on the Galapagos Odysseyyou get fed multiple times a day? I’m not just talking about the staples- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You get snacks. Good snacks. I’m talking pizza, empanadas, and fresh squeezed juice. We even had a complete turkey dinner on our last night. A full turkey! Not only that, but it was relaxing. It was the first time that we were able to go on a trip and actually relax. There wasn’t really a choice. Once the ship starts moving, you have to stay on it. It is an amazing opportunity to relax in a deep way. (Our sister ship even had a spa on board.) Pair that with all of our shore-side activities and we definitely got the best of both worlds.
The cabins on the Galapagos Odyssey are spacious and comfortable. The bathrooms are spotless and our shower was probably the size of our Korean apartment. No one ever told me how relaxing it was to bathe at sea. The ship had a water maker on board which provided fresh hot water daily. The ship also boasted multiple sun decks with a jacuzzi on the top-level. The main deck held a comfortable lounge area where we were able to sit back, relax, read various books and magazines, and chat with our new friends.
The Galapagos Odyssey had activities planned for us every day. We traveled mostly through the night so that when we awoke the next morning, we were at a new destination. We went snorkeling daily- sometimes twice. We swam with sea lions, sting rays, parrotfish, and even white-tipped sharks! There was even the option to go scuba diving. Fabrizio, our ship’s naturalist guide, got us out bright and early every morning so that we could miss the hoards of other tourists while on our hikes. It felt like we were the only ship on the seas. The only time we ever saw any other cruisers was as we were leaving land, after our excursion, and they were just starting theirs. We were able to take in the blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine iguanas in complete and utter solitude. Not only that, but we learned more than we could from Fabrizio then if we were to be traveling on our own. He was a walking Galapagos encyclopedia and he spoke perfect Spanish and English for the melange of travelers on board.
Speaking of other travelers, our fellow Galapagos Odyssey guests were amazing! There were only 13 of us in total and it was like we were one big family. It was so nice to be on a small ship with a very relaxed setting. We were surrounded by like-minded travelers hailing from Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, and the U.S. We might have all spoken different languages, but we were able to communicate through our love of nature and exploration. We were able to have intimate buffet meals with our fellow travelers where we go to know each other better.
Let’s face it, traveling to the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime experience for many. It’s also pretty expensive. If you’re going to spend the time and energy to make is to Las Encantadas, you might as well spend a little extra cash to get the absolute most you can out of it. I would highly recommend a cruise. As you can see, you get so much more out of it than you would on your own. When booking a cruise, be sure to check out Voyagers Travel. They’ll be sure to cater a cruise to your liking and they often offer monthly deals and promotions on certain ships. They also have a number of different ships in their fleet. For us, the Galapagos Odyssey was the perfect fit. It was small, allowing for a more intimate experience with our fellow travelers. It included all of the features and stops that we wanted and it had a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. Everything about our cruise was perfect and we’re so grateful for such an amazing experience.
Side note: Our cruise on the Galapagos Odyssey was offered at a discount rate in exchange for our unbiased review. These views reflect the thoughts of Captain and Clark.