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Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 45
reviews: 19
Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

We have three active sons aged 8, 14, & 15. We are thinking about going on a cruise of Galapagos as part of a larger trip to Ecuador and Peru. We would love your advice as to which cruise line(s) best accommodate children and whether a 7 day cruise is an absolute must. Thanks.

Quito, Pichincha...
posts: 4
11. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

yes, I guess you have here a lot of good comments about the options.. the big ships as explorer or natgeo have to keep far away of the coasts and you can reach the most islands only by small boats.. Ussualy the guides are in charge of smaller groups of 16 or 20 people.. The service I thinks is very good in all the yachts... I was only giving you and advise accordiing my experience, and comments from other passengers of the yachts... good luck with the booking, for sure you wil enjoy the trip in any of these options....!

Ottawa, Canada
posts: 7,445
reviews: 108
12. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Carlos, I hope we didn't come across as negating your comments. They are your experience and very valid. You are much closer to the reality than we are.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 45
reviews: 19
13. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Thanks for the feedback. Are the guides on the Endeavour or Islander more scientifically oriented than the Explorer? I am not worry about my children misbehaving on the islands-- they are well travelled (we brought the boys on a safari two years ago and they had no problems in being quiet and still for extended period of times as we observed the animals), usually well behaved (better behaved than many adults!) and understand the boundaries, etc.. In our ideal world, we would like to be on a cruise that visits some of the more remote islands and has guides who will impart their knowledge in an enthusiastic and easy to understand way. We also would prefer smaller groups as we explore. How large are the groups on the Lindblad ships when we go to explore the islands?

Tina, thanks for listing a thread-- I'll take a look at it now.

Lakewood, CO
posts: 1,495
reviews: 23
14. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

It's commonly mentioned (by me too!) that the larger boats can't go to some places that the smaller boats go. I decided I'd see what specifics I could find from the Web sites of the 2 most commonly mentioned larger boats--Celebrity Xpedition (90 passengers) and NatGeo/Lindblad Endeavour (96 pax).

The Xpedition shows an A and a B itinerary. Both stop at at least 2 of the excellent western shore of Isabela/Fernandina landings. Itinerary B even goes to Española and Floreana--2 other good areas.

The Endeavour doesn't commit to specific itineraries, at least on the Web page I saw. Instead, they provide an overall map and "a representative sample of the islands we may visit during your week on board." Noteworthy on that map--Genovesa is not labeled. (Of course, San Cristóbal isn't labeled either--and I can't imagine that the Endeavour couldn't anchor there. So not labeling Genovesa may not mean anything.) Given how important the itinerary can be, I personally wouldn't choose the Endeavour without know exactly what itinerary I was signing up for.

When we visited in 2009, we were told that the primary anchorage that larger (more than 48 pax, I think) couldn't go to was Darwin Bay at Genovesa. A quick look itineraries of the largest boats at unofficial Web sites shows that several don't go to Genovesa, although the Explorer II (100 pax) and the Santa Cruz (90 pax) do. So clearly, at least some larger ships can somehow maneuver Darwin Bay. And all seem to have an itinerary that goes to Española, Fernandina and/or the western shore of Isabela--all highly valued, more remote landings.

This bit of quick and dirty research doesn't speak to the possibility that larger ships may need to anchor further away, resulting in longer panga trips to and from the landings. I don't know about that. But it does seem that avoiding a larger ship just because it might not go to some of the prized islands doesn't do that class of boat justice.

Don't get me wrong--I'm still a HUGE fan of the smaller boats for the more intimate experience you get, not only with your fellow travelers but also with the crew and the wildlife (among a myriad other reasons). But if you choose carefully, you can certainly get an interesting itinerary that hits some of the archipelago's "greatest hits" on a larger boat.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Lakewood, CO
posts: 1,495
reviews: 23
15. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

In response to your question about group sizes--all boats have to have at least 1 naturalist guide for every 16 passengers, due to Park regulations. (Some, such as the Endeavor ELF boats, can have 2 naturalist guides for 20 passengers, if they sail full--so an even better guide:pax ratio.) So even the largest boats send the passengers off in small groups.

Some of the large boats handle that transportation well, with lots of pangas and having people head to different areas as their first stops. But some travelers have complained about slow transportation and too much waiting time on some of the larger boats, if they don't have enough pangas to move everyone quickly.

Tina

trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

Ottawa, Canada
posts: 7,445
reviews: 108
16. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

I may suggest that this is a good time to start talking to a tour operator/agent that has close and extensive knowledge of the GI boats and itineraries.

As I mentioned, there are reports and posts here to read, others have given you suggestions, but this is a trip that requires either good relationsships with a TO, or extensive time doing your legwork on what would best fit your family and needs.

There are a couple of websites that allow you to view and copare ships. They can even book them for you, however, I would recommend working, in the end, with one who can give you the intimate advice you need for your cruise. Some of the big consolidators have sales in mind and not all phone operators are truly knowledgeable about this area.

So you know you want a small ship with family focus. Then figure out the time of year. On the right are frequent questions. One further down discusses what you will see where and when. That might help you decide what islands you want to visit. Then see what ships go there, as well as Tina's recommended islands.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 45
reviews: 19
17. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Quiltingmamma, I am going to speak with my travel agent next week to start to book everything (we are going in July). I just wanted to start to educate myself prior to speaking to her so that I can give her a better sense of what we want, etc..

Thank you all for your thoughts. Any other advice would be appreciated.

Kind Regards.

18. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

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Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 45
reviews: 19
19. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Thanks A-A!!! Looks promising!

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 45
reviews: 19
20. Re: Which cruise lines for Galapagos trip with children?

Has anyone been on the National Geographic's Islander? It is half the size of the Endeavor but I don't see it mentioned very much on these forums. Would love to hear from someone who has been on the Islander as to whether it was good for children and how they liked the itinerary, guides, etc..

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