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Craving a personalized Galapagos adventure that’s more intimate? Consider the charm of small ship cruises! The beauty of these smaller vessels lies in the close-knit community they foster, providing ample opportunities for shared moments and interactions that can turn a cruise trip into a transformative experience.

In opting for these more intimate journeys, you not only witness the extraordinary landscapes and wildlife of the Galapagos Islands but also immerse yourself in a social and personalized voyage that goes beyond the ordinary tourist experience.

Grace Galapagos Cruise.

Grace Galapagos Cruise.

Galapagos cruises offer a distinct departure from the typical massive ships associated with the cruise experience. Instead of the bustling city-like atmosphere, Galapagos cruises prioritize expedition and intimate exploration. With the number of visitors already strictly regulated, small cruise ships offer the ultimate personalization and privacy. Large cruise ships are limited in accessing certain sites, whereas smaller ones ensure a more serene experience for passengers. Overall, small ship cruises are the gateway to full immersion into the iconic Galapagos biodiversity. Get ready for the best adventure in the Enchanted Isles!

Top 5 Best Tours With Small Ship Cruises

Want to know which small ship cruises can bring you the best Galapagos adventures? Take a look at these tours! The perfect voyage in the Enchanted Isles awaits.

Top5- Galapagos Legend

13-Day Galapagos Complete Luxury

Experience the best of both worlds in the Enchanted Isles with this combined tour. Hop on a 5-day cruise to see remote visitor sites and isolated flora and fauna, then explore the inhabited islands to get a feel of local life in Galapagos during land-based tours.

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Top5 - Grace galapagos cruise

Grace Galapagos Cruise

Sail in luxury aboard the ship where Princess Grace Kelly spent her honeymoon. Take advantage of cutting-edge navigation and safety equipment on your excursions to go snorkeling amid the mysterious Galapagos sea fauna.

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top 5 - ocean spray

Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise

This luxury yacht covers long distances at top speed for maximum exposure to the Galapagos’ rich biodiversity and amazing visitor sites. When you’re not out exploring, this spacious yacht offers all the comforts of home, complete with an entertainment center.

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Treasure Of Galapagos Cruise

Cruise around the great outdoors of the wonderful Galapagos archipelago! Each day you will anchor at two carefully selected visitor sites and organize at least two excursions.

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Galaxy Diver Galapagos Cruise

Choose between the naturalist and diver itineraries and get one of the best experiences in the Galapagos! Live a world-class diving experience surrounded by wondrous animals unique to the archipelago.

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What To Expect From a Tour in Small Ship Cruises with Rebecca Adventure Travel

Embark on a journey of a lifetime with our small ship cruises, where luxury meets expedition in the breathtaking Galapagos Islands. These tours seamlessly blend the splendor of cruising with the thrill of discovering rich biodiversity. With each vessel presenting a unique perspective, your adventure will be as diverse as the landscapes you’ll encounter. 

The Cruises

The Galapagos Legend Cruise blends adventure and comfort into an immersive exploration of the archipelago, providing a well-rounded experience. Sail in style aboard the Grace Galapagos Cruise, an elegant yacht with a rich history named after Princess Grace of Monaco. The Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise presents a modern twist with its stable catamaran design, while the Treasure of Galapagos Cruise offers a more personalized adventure.

Those seeking underwater thrills among the vibrant marine life of the Enchanted Isles will find the Galaxy Diver Galapagos Cruise tailor-made for them. The Galapagos Calipso Cruise strikes the perfect balance between luxury and adventure, while the modern Galapagos Archipel I Cruise allows you to explore in comfort. For a mix of adventure and relaxation, the Galapagos Samba Cruise offers diverse itineraries for varying durations.

All about cruising

The Itineraries

With multiple choices in itinerary duration, allowing you to spend anywhere from four to 13 days on a Galapagos cruise, you are sure to have an in-depth experience of the natural beauty of the archipelago. Traverse multiple islands, unveiling a collection of varied landscapes and unique species in abundance.

Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise.

Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise.

Northern Galapagos stands out for its unique birdlife, while Southern Galapagos shines for its iconic wildlife and beaches. Meanwhile, Western Galapagos is known for its volcanic landscapes, whilst Eastern Galapagos holds breeding and nesting grounds for rare species. Similarly, what sets Southeastern Galapagos apart is its diverse wildlife and historical sites. On the other hand, Central Galapagos is home to most of Galapagos’  iconic sights.

Each region offers a unique experience, contributing to the overall allure of the Enchanted Isles. Selecting itineraries depends on personal preferences, considering specific islands, desired wildlife encounters, and preferred activities. For maximum coverage, you can combine two different itineraries. Some ships offer them back-to-back!

The Activities

Touring the Enchanted Isles on small cruise ships promises a myriad of extraordinary engaging activities that reveal the volcanic origin of the archipelago. Expert naturalist guides offer valuable insights as they guide you!

Swim with diverse marine life during exhilarating snorkeling or set foot on the islands for guided nature walks through diverse terrains. Wildlife observation becomes an art form as you witness unique endemic species thriving in their natural habitats.

For the more adventurous spirits, kayaking presents an opportunity to paddle through secluded coves. Alternatively, diving enthusiasts can plunge into the mesmerizing marine life beneath the surface. Each activity seamlessly flows into the next, creating a dynamic and immersive experience.

Rebecca’s Top Picks

Navigating the choices for your ideal expedition in the Galapagos aboard small ship cruises? Let Rebecca guide you through. Explore her expert recommendations and find the one that aligns effortlessly with your plans!


top 5 - archipel

Galapagos Archipel I Cruise

With a charming al fresco dining area, the Archipel offers a pleasant onboard atmosphere to help you relax after a day filled with expedition. This spacious catamaran balances in-depth exploration with lots of comfort.

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Galapagos Calipso Cruise

This newly refurbished ship offers a seamless, stress-free experience, with the highest levels of security and comfort. Select either the naturalist or diver itineraries for a top-notch experience in the Galapagos!

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samba top Peak

Galapagos Samba Cruise

This Dutch-built private yacht offers privacy and flexibility, with an ample deck ideal for nature and photography cruises. This cruise offers a unique blend of comfort and exploration.

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Why Cruising Is the Best Way To Explore the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands consist of the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The total land mass of the archipelago is comparable in size to the U.S. state of Mississippi, while the marine reserve is roughly the same size as the state of New York. While neighboring islands are relatively close to each other, more distant islands can take many hours to get to.

Cruise ships can cover big distances while you sleep, maximizing daylight for guided excursions and on-site activities. Shorter distances are covered while you enjoy lunch, to get you to the next destination later on the same day. If you booked a land-based tour, you’d have to go back and forth from a hotel, only navigating the ocean aboard tiny yachts on day tours to the islands closest to your accommodation.

Usually, day tours can’t make it to remote islands, which are home to species that don’t live elsewhere in Galapagos. Thus, a cruise promises a broader variety of flora and fauna to be viewed. The same goes for visitor sites because some of the iconic Galapagos landmarks are too distant to be reached by day tour. Also, activities!

Those who are into water sports will have the best time on a sea cruise. You can go swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The expert naturalist guides will accompany you and point out all the animals there are to see while under the water. Liveaboard ships allow PADI license-holders to dive deep into the Galapagos oceans and swim with animals that are harder to spot while snorkeling.

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Treasure of Galapagos Cruise.

Treasure of Galapagos Cruise.

Galapagos Cruises: Categories

In the Galapagos Islands, around 80 independent cruise ships offer diverse options for every budget, catering to various preferences. From elegant yachts to more economical choices, these vessels ensure a tailored experience, promising a seamless exploration of the remarkable archipelago. Whether you crave luxury or a more modest adventure, there is a cruise for you! Let’s look at the categories.


Indulge in the epitome of comfort, savor fine dining experiences, and revel in an array of top-notch amenities. These cruises are designed for those seeking a personalized touch in a lavish setting, promising individualized attention, excellent customer service, and the guidance of top-tier naturalist guides.  Luxury cruises provide spaciousness and exclusivity. Picture an enriching experience with captivating itineraries, offering a range of activities.

First Class

In these ships, practicality meets refinement in a distinctively sophisticated setting. Unwind in your splendid suite featuring grand windows for sweeping ocean panoramas, a private outdoor balcony, and a naturally illuminated frosted glass wall restroom. Every cabin boasts handsome wood decor, air-conditioning, private bathrooms, safety deposit boxes, telephones, and customizable background music.

Tourist Superior

These vessels make your Galapagos experience affordable. Offering a first-class feel at a lower price, these cruises provide quality amenities and excellent services. Enjoy the wonders of the Galapagos in comfort without the luxury price tag! If you seek a comfortable cruise without the refinement, these ships strike the perfect balance. This is the best for living an exceptional adventure without breaking the bank.


Discover a budget-friendly adventure in the Galapagos! While these ships may offer smaller spaces, the intimate setting encourages connections with fellow guests. The combination of comfort and elegance becomes accessible with these cruises, perfect for budget-conscious travelers. Cozy cabins with essential amenities, shared facilities for sociable relaxation, and the best guidance ensure a fulfilling experience. Enjoy the best prices without compromising on quality!

Galaxy Diver Galapagos Cruise.

Galaxy Diver Galapagos Cruise.

Benefits of Small Ship Cruises

Most of us get the impression that going on a cruise is like boarding those massive ships that sail in the Caribbean. These are basically like floating cities: they carry thousands of passengers, and have multiple casinos, pools, hot tubs, gyms; even water slides, and movie theaters! Mass cruise ships feel like being at an amusement park in the middle of the sea. That is not what the Enchanted Isles are for.

Galapagos cruises focus on expedition. Because the Islands are a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, the Park’s authorities only allow a certain number of visitors per year. The Islands are also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, so the Park limits the number of visitors allowed at a visitor site at once as well. Furthermore, each Park-certified naturalist guide can only have 16 passengers per expedition group during excursions.

Given the Park’s regulations, big cruise ships carrying too many passengers cannot enter all visitor sites. This means you’ll likely have the site to yourselves. Other groups visiting the same site are instructed to take the opposite route so you don’t all converge in one place at the same time and crowd the animals. With all Galapagos cruises following the guidelines, small cruise ships are even more private.

The fewer people on board, the easier to get to know everyone and to get things tailored to your preferences. Therefore, smaller groups guarantee camaraderie and personalized service. Plus, you get an actual digital detox! There is no phone service, nor internet connection in the uninhabited islands cruise ships visit in Galapagos.

Galapagos Calipso Cruise.

Galapagos Calipso Cruise.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered a small cruise ship?
100 guests and under, with 90 guests being a nice intermediate amount. Between the smaller ships, the common amount is 48. A good guest ratio is 40 guests, while 20 is the optimal amount for everyone to come together to enjoy as one large group.
What types of small ship cruises are there?
In the Galapagos, you’ll usually find expedition vessels, motor yachts, motor and sail catamarans, and trimarans.
Are small ship cruises less crowded?
Absolutely! It is the absence of crowds that makes small ships an alluring choice to cruise the Galapagos in comfort, privacy, and with personalized attention.
Which are the best small ships to cruise the Galapagos?
The luxury fleet Origin, Theory & Evolve guarantees maximum wildlife exposure over two different eight-day itineraries. In First Class, the modern and cozy Monserrat is the ultimate eco-conscious choice. For the Tourist Superior and Tourist categories, we recommend spacious liveaboard ships Calipso and Galapagos Aqua Cruise, respectively. Those without a PADI license will still get the Galapagos expedition experience.
Which is the best Galapagos itinerary on small ship cruises?
It depends on what you want to see and do. Every Galapagos itinerary is designed to expose you to the most flora, fauna, and visitor sites possible. Once you narrow down which landmarks and species you’re looking forward to the most, you will find the best fit for you.

Let’s plan your trip

Build Your Own Trip

Ready to set sail on small ship cruises? Let us help you design your ideal Galapagos adventure. Tell our Destination Experts exactly what you’re looking for—they’ll make it happen! Our team can arrange a complete private tour with services and hotels chartered, a wedding or honeymoon, a family trip, a very short tour, or any other kind of trip for you.