There is no doubt that visiting the Galapagos Islands is a bucket list family travel experience. This is a magical experience that combines wildlife, nature and culture all in a package that is extremely comfortable by small ship cruise and ideal for multigenerational family groups.
However, identifying the best option can quickly become overwhelming.
Having been in the travel industry for nearly 2 decades, I’ve witnessed which tour operators and itineraries not only stand the test of time, but continue to evolve and raise the bar when it comes to a spectacular Galapagos experience.
Here is the best Galapagos cruise for families, and a few things to keep in mind if you are considering booking a Galapagos family cruise.
Small Ships are the way to go
I love the International Expeditions Galapagos cruise on board the M/V Evolution Yacht. The itinerary (get instant access to the itinerary below) follows a wonderful pace and accommodations are extremely comfortable for all ages. The guides are amazing with children and there is SO much to do to keep the kids engaged throughout.
The Evolution is currently in dry dock undergoing complete renovations (as of September 2017), so will be looking fresh and absolutely beautiful in 2018! With only 32 guests and the largest cabins on any ship in the Galapagos, not only is the experience intimate and comfortable, but you’ll be led by some of the most experienced naturalist guides in the region.
The Itinerary Matters
The main reason many travelers opt to experience the Galapagos by cruise is to see the islands and endemic wildlife throughout. When traveling by boat, you can most efficiently see the main islands along with some of the more remote areas as well.
On my personal favorite Galapagos itinerary for families (sign up below for instant access to a detailed itinerary) you’ll find yourself just inches away from giant tortoises, comical blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, iguanas and many other animals, and you’ll gain an appreciation for how remarkable life on Earth can be.
From the spouting whales crossing the Bolivar Channel to the waved albatrosses nesting along the cliffs of Espanola, your family will experience the undeniable wonder of Darwin’s Enchanted Isles.
Be Sure to Book your Galapagos Family Cruise Early
Especially over school holidays, these trips book up early. In fact, the late December departure (Christmas/ New Years period) books up well over a year in advance. This is the kind of trip for which you need to plan ahead!
Most of the cruise ships are small, so inventory is inherently limited. However, the entire area is very highly regulated in terms of how many people can enter the Galapagos daily.
All ships must follow a government-mandated schedule in order to preserve the environment. There are daily visitor numbers per each of the individual islands as well, and every company has to follow the same routes while touring — there is no going off the beaten path on Galapagos Islands excursions. All of this contributes to the need to book this experience well in advance.
So what’s this going to cost me?
Plan to spend about $8,000 per person for an 8 -night Galapagos Family Cruise. Most cruises and family Galapagos itineraries fall into this same general price point. Pay close attention to the quality of the ship, experience of the guides and longevity of an operator in the Galapagos when selecting a cruise.
I find that the best ages for kids on Galapagos cruise is between about 9 and 14. Old enough to handle an expedition of this nature, but young enough to take it all in with wide-eyed wonder.
As I mentioned, my preferred partner here is International Expeditions. Not only do my clients receive added amenities, but as a founding member of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA), a non-profit group of travel companies and conservation groups dedicated to funding projects to combat invasive species and illegal activities within the Galapagos National Park, you can rest assured that your money is going to a responsible outfit on the ground in the Galapagos and Ecuador.
Interested in a Galapagos Cruise for your family? Sign up before for instant access to my favorite itinerary for families. Or contact me now to get started customizing your family’s adventure!