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What to expect on a Galápagos wildlife cruise

Before you embark on any journey, it can be useful to know what to expect. Our guide to a typical day in the Galápagos Islands will help to give you a flavour of this magical archipelago, including the wildlife, the islands and the luxurious cruise ships that get you there. 

 

7:00 – Wake up for breakfast

A gentle announcement lets you know it’s time to wake up and get ready for the day ahead. After you’ve showered and dressed, head upstairs to join your fellow travellers for breakfast. Help yourself to the delicious buffet, with options including bacon, eggs, fresh fruit and pastries. 

Sundeck of cruise ship

After you’ve eaten, catch up with the crew and other guests on the sundeck, with a cup of hot tea or coffee in hand.

8:30 – Land-based excursions

Gather a water bottle, some sun cream and your trusty camera together in your day bag. Your guide will help you into your lifejacket and then onto the small motorboat to take you off to an exotic island nearby to explore. Depending on where you’re currently anchored, you may get to visit Española, the oldest of the Galápagos Archipelago, or head to Darwin Island to retrace the hero’s steps. After a five-minute ride, disembark and stretch out your legs. The terrain can be a little rough, but you can take regular stops to look out for wildlife.

Blue footed booby

Try to spot a blue-footed booby and admire all the colourful iguana relaxing on the rocks. Depending on the time of year, you may even spot young albatross sat waiting to take their first flight or see the adults come in to land. In this region, you can also see Darwin finch, giant tortoise, Galápagos penguin, Galápagos fur seal, frigate birds and more. For these excursions you’ll be accompanied by a naturalist guide to bring these sightings to life.

11:00 – Lunch

A motorboat will take you back to join the ship in time for lunch. Head to your room to unwind with a book from the on-board library, or relax on a comfortable hammock or chair on the sundeck.

Head to the dining room to enjoy a delectable buffet lunch with your fellow adventurers. The chef might even show you how to make a local delicacy, such as ceviche. You’ll also be able to pick your meal choices for that evening’s à la carte dinner (be sure to let the staff know of any dietary requirements you might have). After lunch, take some time to let the food go down, then start preparing for the afternoon’s adventures.

15:00 – Water-based excursions

It’s time to put on your wetsuit, snorkel and flippers, and jump into the ocean. In places like Gardner Bay, you can follow your guide while keeping an eye out for turtle, Galápagos sharks, multi-coloured fish and stingray. After a snorkel or scuba dive, head back to the boat for refreshments and to swap stories of the amazing under-water life you’ve encountered.

Sealion on beach

If you prefer to stay above the water, climb into a kayak and paddle out to the sheltered bays and rocky outcrops along the coast. Take your time as you explore the rock formations rising from the water, and spot slumbering iguana basking in the afternoon sun.

17:00 – Beach walk

It may be late afternoon, but there’s still time to continue exploring the islands. Hop into a motorboat with one of your expert guides and head to the beach. Depending on the location, you may have a wet landing. This is when the boat will moor just a few feet from the beach, allowing guests to step out into the shallow water. Only your feet will get wet, and the staff will provide you with towels to dry off if you want to put socks and shoes back on after. 

Marine iguana on beach

Take an enjoyable stroll along the pristine stretches of sand, learning about the plant and animal species you see along the way. If you’d prefer to take it easy, you can catch the last of the day’s sun with a spot of sunbathing, or paddle out into the waves for one last swim. Finally, head back to the ship to get showered and changed ready for dinner.

19:00 – Briefing & dinner

Sit down with a cocktail in hand as your expert naturalist guide talks you through the plan for tomorrow. This is your chance to glance at the maps to get your bearings, and ask any questions you may have.

After the briefing, sit down with your companions for a freshly prepared à la carte dinner. Enjoy a delicious three-course meal, paired with a choice of fine international wines. After good conversation and a few glasses of whatever else you fancy, the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy. Watch a film, read a good book or head up on to deck for some fresh air as you watch the stars. Finally, head back to the comfort of your cabin for a good night’s sleep.