Adventure Cruise News

Galapagos Charter Cruises

by Todd Smith

A Galapagos charter cruise can help travelers save money, create a more intimate cruise experience and offer the opportunity to customize the cruise to suit your groups interests and abilities. AdventureSmith Explorations specializes in Galapagos charter cruises for families and groups with a selection of dozens of yachts, sailboats and small ships. Our Galapagos charter experts have first hand knowledge of every ship and experience planning dozens of charters. Read our Galapagos Charter Cruise Guide then contact our experts to begin planning your charter cruise. 

Galapagos Evolution Charter Cruise

Why Charter A Galapagos Cruise?

A full-boat charter has many advantages over an independently booked Galapagos Cruise. A Galapagos charter offers exclusivity, flexibility and savings.  A charter cruise can save 10-30% off regular per-person cruise rates.  Galapagos charter cruises must be planned and booked in advance, typically one year prior to travel.  Holiday charters can be booked two years or more in advance. But as long as a cruise or ship remains available it is open for a charter.  All the Galapagos yachts, sailboats and small ships listed on our website are available for charter. 

Galapagos Charter vs Galapagos Group

A charter cruise secures an entire ship for one group and offers all the advantages outlined in this Galapagos charter guide. Group bookings for groups of 10 or more travelers are also available. Galapagos group bookings can offer additional savings but dont offer the privacy or customization that a charter can offer.  Consider a charter if your group is large enough and you want the intimacy of a private cruise.  Consider a group booking if you prefer a larger ship and your group size is not enough for a full boat charter. 

Who Charters Small Ships?

Private Galapagos charters are perfect for families and groups of 12 to 100 travelers. Galapagos charter cruises are popular with:

  • Extended families with parents, kids, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins traveling together.
  • Multiple families and friends traveling together.
  • Weddings, birthday, family reunions and anniversary celebrations.
  • Corporate retreats, meetings or as a company incentive.
  • Affinity travel (gay, lesbian, Christian, religious, photography or other special-interest groups).
  • Groups of travelers with special needs.
  • School groups, student groups, university alumni associations and extended study programs.
  • Zoo, aquarium and museum groups.
  • Conservation organizations or other nonprofits.
  • Travel clubs or other clubs interested in travel.
  • Travel agents or group leaders can earn free berths by organizing Galapagos charter cruises for their clients and friends.

Galapagos Charter Group

Custom Galapagos Cruises

Galapagos cruise itineraries are set in advance by cruise operators and the Galapagos National Park, so it is important to research your itinerary to make sure it includes the landing sites and experience your group is seeking. Our Galapagos experts are intimately familiar with the islands and we can help you select the perfect itinerary. With a charter there may be an opportunity to alter the itinerary or request specific landing sites. Want to add SCUBA diving or surfing to your trip? How about meeting with a group of local kids or a behind the scenes tour at the Charles Darwin Research Station. We can help your charter group arrange custom experiences not available to independent travelers in the Galapagos.  Booking well in advance increases the likelihood of customizing a Galapagos itinerary.

Galapagos Charters Save Money

Galapagos charter rates can save 10-30% over booking individual staterooms. Charter rates vary by ship, season and availability. Off-season charters garner the greatest savings while high season dates should be secured a year or more in advance. Holidays including Christmas, New Years and Easter should be booked two years in advance. 

Crewed Charter Cruises

All our Galapagos charter cruises are fully crewed charters, outfitted with an experienced and professional captain and crew. We do not offer bare-boat charters in the Galapagos. We believe that the captain, guides, chef and crew are an integral part of expedition cruising and that their experience and expertise are essential to a safe and successful voyage.

Galapagos Ship Comparison 

Here we have outlined the most common type of Galapagos ships. For a full Galapagos ship comparison and booking guide see How to Choose & Plan Your Galapagos Cruise

Galapagos Charter Yachts & Sailboats

Smaller yachts and sailboats carrying 12- 32 guests can vary considerably in price and amenities from rustic floating base camps to luxurious yachts that will satisfy the most refined travel styles. The Beluga offers simple accommodations at an affordable price. The Corals and sister ships Eric/Letty/Flamingo are the most popular mid-priced options. The Grace and Evolution are luxury boats for those who want to see the Galapagos in style.

Ocean Spray Galapagos Charter Cruise

Galapagos Mid-Sized Cruisers

Mid-sized cruisers carrying 40-60 passengers offer the efficiency and intimacy of a small yacht combined with the space and amenities typically found on a larger Galapagos ship. Ships such as the Eclipse, La Pinta, and Isabela II have larger cabins, spacious bathrooms, ample deck space, delicious cuisine, a high crew-to-passenger ratio and excellent guides. There are multiple decks where you can always find a moment to watch the sunset and enjoy the solitude.

La Pinta Galapagos Charter Cruise

Small Ships

Because mega cruise ships are not allowed in the Galapagos, these small ships carrying 80-100 passengers are the largest to cruise the region. These ships are the most stable and appeal to travelers concerned about seasickness. They are also very appealing for families with small children because some offer adjoining cabins and because of the additional space. Each small ship has a unique personality and appeals to a certain clientele. The Legend and Santa Cruz are popular and affordable, the Galapagos Explorer II is more upscale and the National Geographic Endeavour features expedition leaders and lecturers from National Geographic.

Santa Cruz Galapagos Charter Cruise

Group Flights, Park Fees and Land Arrangements

A Galapagos charter is booked as a cruise only and will not include any flights, park fees or land arrangements. Our experts can help with group rates and flights from Quito, Ecuador or Guayaquil, Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. Most charter groups find it convenient to pay the Galapagos National Park Fee and INGALA tourist card in advance, we can help with these arrangements. Whether your group is all traveling together or if they plan to arrive Ecuador independently we can assist with pick up transfers, hotels, tours and other land arrangements. Typically we advise travelers to arrive Ecuador 2 nights prior to their cruise (see How to Plan Your Galapagos Cruise for details). See our standard Galapagos Cruise Package with 2 nights pre cruise, 1 night post cruise, transfers and a tour.  We offer group rates and custom trip planning for all pre and post cruise arrangements. Many guests will consider a trip extension to Ecuador's Amazon or Machu Picchu, Peru. We offer a complete menu of travel packages to Ecuador and Peru.

When to Charter a Galapagos Cruise

Weather in the Galapagos Islands is attractive to adventure travel and small ship cruising year-round. Find more information on Galapagos climate. What is going on in the Galapagos Islands when you want to travel? View Galapagos By Month, a handy guide to understand Galapagos climate, wildlife and occurrences by month.

Galapagos Charter Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions are sometimes more strict with charters than they are for individual bookings. Expect to pay a charter rate that remains the same, whether or not you have enough travelers to fill all the staterooms. Cancellation terms usually require a nonrefundable deposit and payments as the cruise date approaches. Some charter agreements require that one person be responsible for signing the charter agreement. Group travel insurance policies are highly recommended when considering a charter cruise. Our experts will work with you and your group to make the charter process seamless and transparent.

Galapagos Charter Cruise Experts

Small Ship Charter Experts

Our staff has decades of experience guiding, planning and selling Galapagos charter cruises and Galapagos groups. We are award-winning Galapagos cruise experts and we are pleased to provide exclusive charter cruise information to help our travelers learn how a cruise charter might work for you or your group. Because of our sales volume, we are preferred partners with the cruise lines and can offer exclusive charter rates and a no-pressure sales environment focused on finding the right ship at the best price.

Because we don't own any of the small ships we work with, we can offer honest, unbiased information to help you compare them one to another and find the very best trip for your interest, ability and budget.  You will never pay more for booking a Galapagos charter cruise with AdventureSmith Explorations and often our sales volume means you pay less than booking direct.

Once you've selected your Galapagos cruise we are able to help with all the details involved in traveling to Ecuador, including recommendations for packing, hotels, transfers, flights and tours, all at no extra cost to you. We have been recognized by National Geographic Traveler magazine and Lonely Planet guidebooks as top small ship cruise experts, and we have received numerous news and awards for our cruise programs and expertise. Call us today to consider your next Galapagos charter cruise.

Mary Anne Galapagos Charter Cruise


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