Sail away on an incredible wildlife-centered family vacation through the Galapagos. Galapagos family cruises have opportunities for hands-on learning, up-close wildlife encounters and a variety of activities that keep the whole family engaged. Your next family holiday will be a transformational travel experience with memories to last a lifetime.
Galapagos Family Cruise Experts
With decades of combined experience planning, selling and taking Galapagos cruises and experience as parents of young travelers, AdventureSmith shares our expertise and knowledge in this Galapagos family cruise guide to help travelers find, book and prepare for the perfect Galapagos family cruise. Find the best Galapagos cruise for families with AdventureSmith.
Unmatched Selection, Savings & Advice for Cruising with Kids
AdventureSmith offers an array of options for family cruises to the Galapagos ranging in ship size and feel, itinerary options, family activities and even full-boat charters. The guesswork of booking a family cruise is removed with the best hand-curated Galapagos cruises for families and comprehensive guide offered below. Special offers, discounts and child rates ensure you get the best price. Read more for additional advice or browse our extensive selection of Galapagos family cruises below.
Why Take a Galapagos Islands Family Cruise?
The Galapagos Islands are home to an astounding variety of wildlife consisting of one of the world’s premiere wildlife watching experiences. Animals here evolved without predators and as such have no fear of humans, making them uniquely approachable, perfect for gentle wildlife viewing by kids. Science and education are also inherent in a good Galapagos family cruise and expedition leaders are trained to make the island’s natural and human history come alive for families.
The small ship atmosphere creates an ambiance of family bonding where families come together, sharing interests and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Small ship family cruises in the Galapagos are the perfect platform for family travel, as they offer the ability to only unpack once, include all meals and have engaging guides. The small ship atmosphere creates an ambiance of family bonding where activities, programs and meals are opportunities to bring families together, sharing interests and once in a lifetime experiences.
When to Plan a Galapagos Cruise with Kids
The Galapagos Islands are suitable for cruising all year round, but you will find that most dedicated Galapagos family cruises occur during the summer, over the Christmas/New Year holiday and on the Spring Break/Easter holiday. Christmas and Easter weeks are extremely popular and can book up over one year in advance. These are also the most popular times to travel for non-families so unfortunately, don’t expect any child discounts during the holidays. Family cruises are also scheduled during the summer months, when kids are out of school. This is a great time to plan your trip, but the months of June-August are also very busy and should be booked 6-9 months in advance for the best selection of ships and cabin categories.
How Long to Cruise with Your Family to the Galapagos
Galapagos cruises range from 3 nights to 14 nights. We recommend 7-night cruises for traveling with kids and most family-focused cruises are this length. Shorter trips are possible, but they are more challenging for younger travelers. Spending a week ensures families experience the full spectrum of islands, animals and habitats on remote islands that are otherwise not accessible. The time and effort it takes to get to the Galapagos warrants a week-long family cruise.
Logistics for Ecuador & Galapagos Family Cruises
It is not possible to fly directly from North America to the Galapagos in one day. We recommend families arrive into Ecuador at least two days prior to your cruise and plan to overnight one night after the cruise. This ensures younger travelers have time to acclimatize after the long flights and that your family will not miss the boat if flights are delayed.
Plan to stay in Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador before and after your cruise. Book airport to hotel transfers in advance so your family is not waiting to get to the hotel after a long flight. There are a number of family friendly hotels in Quito and Guayaquil. We can recommend hotels with a pool to let kids unwind and be entertained while stopping over. Our experts will assist with all your arrangements including flights, transfers, hotels, tours, permits and National Park entrance fees to ensure a seamless family travel experience.
Many families will also choose to extend their Galapagos cruise with a cultural Ecuador trip, a trip to the Amazon or Machu Picchu, Peru. AdventureSmith can help with all pre- and post-trip arrangements and Galapagos cruise extensions.
Is a Galapagos Family Cruise Right for My Family?
A Galapagos family cruise is an adventurous vacation. Getting to and from the Galapagos requires long travel days. Cruising through the Galapagos can be the trip of a lifetime, as it is more than a relaxing beach vacation, rich with active exploration and learning every day. Spanish speaking is not required to enjoy a trip to the Galapagos, but can be a great opportunity to practice and learn new words. All the guides and many of the crew aboard small ships will speak English. To embark on a Galapagos Islands family cruise it helps to have a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of patience to endure the occasional hardships and mishaps that can happen during international travel. Bring your family and your sense of adventure and you are sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.
How Old Should Kids Be for a Galapagos Cruise?
Kids age six and older will enjoy family cruises to the Galapagos Islands. Keep in mind that there are no babysitting services aboard small ships or yachts. Kids are expected to participate in off-vessel activities such as hiking, swimming and snorkeling. Kids are expected to follow the rules, both aboard the ship and while ashore in the Galapagos. The purpose of a family cruise is to enjoy and experience the islands as a family that is learning and sharing together. There are some ships, typically small ships in the 80-100 guest range, that allow kids younger than six. If you plan to bring a young child who cannot participate in the activities, then an adult must stay with that child and will miss out on any activities.
The sweet spot for kids is age 8-12 years old. These kids are old enough to appreciate and enjoy the wildlife and experiences they will encounter. They are young enough that a trip such as this will make a lifelong impression on them, hopefully instilling a love for learning, nature and travel. Children under 12 years old usually receive the most significant children’s discount.
Teens will also enjoy travel to the Galapagos. Dedicated teen departures are an excellent way to keep them engaged and excited by traveling with other young travelers of similar age. We have found that a great way to intrigue teens is to have them participate, along with the adults, in documenting the trip. Have them edit photos and videos creating slide shows and movies that will become important family keepsakes. This encourages teens to use their inevitable screen time in a productive and educational way.
Galapagos Family Cruise Options
There are many options to choose from when thinking about family cruises to the Galapagos. This part of our Galapagos family cruise guide outlines different styles and nuances of family cruises you will encounter in your research. Read carefully to determine the best Galapagos cruise for families. Or contact our Galapagos family experts for a personal consultation.
There are many small ships and yachts that will accommodate travel with kids and indeed many companies actively market to this segment of the travel market. But not all cruises, in fact only a select few, offer a true family-focused program on a dedicated family departure. Family-focused cruises include guides and crew trained to work with younger travelers, activities designed to bring families together through exploration, meals and menus designed with younger travelers in mind and most importantly they should have families of similar ages traveling together.
In order to offer a dedicated family-focused cruise, a ship should offer scheduled family departure dates that are distinct from standard departures. On our site look for the family departure icon on pricing tables of each cruise. Be careful not to assume that because a cruise offers a child discount and some onboard activities, that you are booking a family cruise.
AdventureSmith offers great family-focused cruises with excellent guide-to-passenger ratio, fun programs geared for kids like star gazing, menus created with kids in mind and specific departures for young kids and departures for teens. Special teen cruises also offer an opportunity for volunteering and cultural exchange in the Galapagos Islands. We highly recommend families consider a dedicated family focused cruise.
Some cruise lines offer family friendly amenities such as kid meals, fun learning materials, treasure hunts, cooking classes, crafts and onboard games and programs to entertain kids without fundamentally changing their programs. These programs can be fun and helpful for families traveling with kids but without dedicated family dates it is uncertain whether you will have other families on board your cruise. Of course holidays and summer cruises have a greater chance to travel with kids of similar ages.
Galapagos Family Charter Cruises
One of the best ways to ensure a successful family cruise is to charter your own boat. Galapagos family charters typically require at least 12 people and can accommodate extended families up to 100 people with lots of size choices in between. With a Galapagos charter, families can have more control over the activities and services offered aboard the ship. Of course a charter also ensures you are traveling with an intimate group. Charter cruises are available aboard any of the ships listed on this website. For the best selection of ships and dates charters should be booked at least one year in advance. Booking a family charter over the holidays may require two years advanced planning. Read our Galapagos yacht charter guide for more information on charter cruises.
Customized Family Travel Options
A trip to the Galapagos and Ecuador can also be customized to facilitate cultural exchanges with local kids. We work with Ecology Project International, an education and student group travel non-profit dedicated to developing field science partnerships between local experts and high school students to address critical conservation issues worldwide. We have arranged for EPI students to guide family groups at the Charles Darwin Research Station, giving the students an opportunity to show off their knowledge and allowing families an authentic interaction with local kids. We also work with our partners at Children of the Galapagos, a non-profit organization created to support the growth, health and vitality of children living in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, to foster fun activity-based interaction with local kids. Kids can enjoy surfing, skateboarding or biking with local kids in an authentic cultural exchange that enriches both locals and visitors. These experiences are custom arranged and are not included in the standard price of a Galapagos cruise. These types of interactions work particularly well with charter cruises. Contact our Galapagos family cruise experts to learn more.
Galapagos Extensions & Custom Arrangements
Our travel experts are adept at crafting custom tours and vacations for families. With our pre- and post-cruise hotel offerings in Quito or Guayaquil, city tours and specialized cruise extensions to Ecuador’s highlands, the Amazon jungle, the Ecuadorian cloud forest or Peru’s Machu Picchu, travel is effortless, seamless and filled with adventure. This once-in-a-lifetime family vacation to the Galapagos—and beyond if you choose—will not easily be forgotten.