This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Tip Top Travel

Lufthansa City Center

Telephone: +593 2 / 2563181
+593 2 / 2228520

Mariscal Foch E7-81 & Diego de Almagro,
Tip Top Travel

Galapagos Cruises Classification
How to pick a cruise

As soon as you decide to look for a cruise to the Galapagos Island you’ll face the dilemma of choosing one from the variety of options there are. 

On the internet you’ll find cruise ships are classed using a variety of classifications systems which may leave you a bit puzzled wondering what they actually mean. So we present you some useful information that may guide you through this process. 

The first thing you have to know about cruising in Galapagos is that size matters!.. Unlike ships in others destinations where you feel like into a floating city, Galapagos cruises are restricted to ships carrying 100 passengers or less, in fact the average number of people on board is 16 visitors, the reason, CONSERVATION, you’ll be sailing into a very fragile environment and small ships make the less impact on it. 

The official cruise classification comes from the Galapagos National Park but due to the accelerated growth of touristic vessels now the tour industry classification is the most accurate and reliable. 
In general ship classification is based on three main factors: 
• Ship size and general spaciousness.- not only the size of the ship but the space of the cabins and the social areas is also taken in account. 
• Guide quality.- all guides working legally in Galapagos must be licensed and they are placed into a category according to their knowledge not only of the islands but also about languages or other specialties. The higher the level of the guide, the higher standard you’ll cruise will be. 
• Facilities, amenities and extras-. This involves all services that provide extra comfort to your cruise experience, such as: buffet meals, kayaks, spa and massages, souvenir shops, internet and others. 

Based on these standards, Galapagos cruises can be divided into the 5 categories each one presents advantages and disadvantages. It’s also important to say that there’s no clear separation between one and other category, the level of comfort and luxury goes up every time though.

Luxury Class (Cruise ships, Expedition vessels

Most of these yachts are the largest cruises in the Galapagos, carrying between 41 - 100 passengers. They go all the way in attention to detail, spaciousness and service. 

Key Features: 
• More common space than in any other Galapagos Cruises 
• A wide range of amenities like: piano bars, glass bottom boats, on board massages, Jacuzzi, and much more. 
• A doctor on board in case of emergency (in big vessels) 
• Due to their size and weight, large ships tend to be very stable for smooth cruising. 
• Suites, triple or interconnected cabins available ideal for families. 
• Activities on board available. 

• Less personalized service. 
• More time hurry up and wait time for shore excursions. 
• Restrictions from visiting some areas due to their size. 
• Traveling with a lot of people may take away some of the true natural experience.

First Class Cruises 

This boats may have similar service levels as luxury ones, but are usually smaller, and less spacious, they carry between 17 - 40 passengers. Here we can find also some motor sailor yachts. 

Key Features: 
• Spacious cabins. 
• More communal space than lower categories. 
• Personalized service 
• Easy access to get on and off than the big vessels. 

• Not as much space in cabins in common areas like in the cruise ships. 
• Not as intimate as the smaller cruise vessels

Tourist Superior Cruise 

The best asset these boats have is the space which you’ll still have just enough but regarding extra amenities or services you miss that two levels above, nevertheless if you’re are looking for the natural experience then this may be just what you need. 

Key Features: 
• Comfortable cabins 
• Private bathrooms with cold and hot water 
• Air conditioned 
• Snorkeling equipment 

• Not so private 
• Limited meals options

Tourist Cruise 

On board a Tourist cruise you’ll find yourself enjoying the Galapagos experience without saying good bye to all your life time savings. If you’re into the simple kind of live then this may be just the option for you. 

Key Features 
• Air conditioned 
• Private bathroom 
• Hot and cold water 
• Bilingual naturalistic guide 

• Less private 
• Smaller cabins 
• Less attention into details 
• Less knowledgeable guides

Budged Cruises (Economic) 

These class ships can be considered backpacker specials; you should considered taking this cruise only if the lowest price is your deciding factor. On the bright sight nature is the same no matter how much you pay for your boat. 

Key features 

• Private bathroom 
• Bilingual naturalistic guide 
• Snorkel equipment for rent 
• Porthole windows 


• Small cabins (most feature bunk beds) 
• Less common space 
• Some boats don’t have hot water 
• Less knowledgeable guide




Before deciding on which type of cruise is the best for you, it’s important that you are aware of what is the most important factor while traveling, for example, the amenities on board and the level of service can make all the difference for some travelers while others will have enough with a comfortable bed and a shower. 
When selecting your Galapagos Cruise start by looking at the cabins; do they have lower beds or bunk beds? do the cabins have picture windows or portholes? and do they open to let in fresh air?. 
If you’re traveling with children, would you be more comfortable in suite? or are you looking for triple accommodations or connecting cabins? Answering these questions will narrow down your choices quickly and help you chose the right Galapagos Cruise. 

Finally take in account all services on board, most times small details are the ones that make the difference on how much you’ll enjoy the Galapagos experience.