GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISES

A Galapagos cruise is a unique experience as well as a holiday of a lifetime, it’s not only for birdwatchers or wildlife obsessives but for every traveller who has any interest in seeing the incredibly diverse and often unique species of birds, reptiles and mammals. The isolation of the islands and the minimal contact with humans has made the wildlife almost totally unafraid and allows visitors to see them at closer quarters. Over the last five years many new and luxury ships have been built to operate in this wondrous destination.  Standards are high; cuisine is excellent, your expedition/naturalist guides are extremely knowledgeable  and offer a rewarding and informative experience.  Ships range in size from just 16 guests up to 100 guests.  There are benefits to both small and large ships and we’ll happily discuss the options with you.

On a luxury or first-class Galapagos cruise you will visit many of the islands where you will participate in short walks, snorkelling, Zodiac (locally referred to as a Panga) cruising and kayaking as well as visiting a Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre.

Galapagos Cruise Travel Centre is a sister company of South America Travel Centre specialising in creating unique and tailor-made itineraries in all of Latin America, specifically for you, including a Galapagos Island cruise and any additional exploration in Ecuador, or other countries in South America, that suits your interests. Our expert travel consultants have firsthand experience of many Galapagos boats and will create the perfect Galapagos holiday for you and your travel companions.

GALAPAGOS CRUISE TRAVEL CENTRE DIFFERENCE

Our experienced Galapagos cruise consultants have travelled widely in South America, including the Galapagos Islands, and have first-hand knowledge of a wide range of Tourist Superior, First and Luxury Galapagos cruise vessels. Each Galapagos cruise that our specialists select is matched to your needs and your pre/post travel in South America is tailored for you.

Your chance to win a 5 day Galapagos Cruise for two people onboard the Galapagos Angel.  All you have to do is tell us in 25 words or less what makes the Galapagos Islands such a special place to explore?

We’ve tried to answer many frequently asked questions as well as offer our insights into the key factors that should be considered when asking ‘what’s the best Galapagos boat and cruise for me’? Which ship, which itinerary, when to go and a host other important factors? As Independent experts with first-hand experience of numerous operators, ships and itineraries we hope you find this useful?

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

We have been operating since 1995 and have carefully selected ships and operators with proven track records. As a member of Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) and the ATIA accreditation scheme ATAS you have financial security when booking with Galapagos Cruise Travel Centre. We are a wholly Australian-owned company.
We are proud to be Members of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA).

Galapagos Cruise Travel Centre is part of Tailor-Made Journeys Pty Ltd.  All cruises to the Galapagos Islands from Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador.

South America Travel Centre is our dedicated South America tailor made tour division, with 25 years of experience in travel throughout South America we can arrange all of your pre and post-holiday arrangements in a seamless and efficient way.

In addition to South America (including the Galapagos) we also have a dedicated Antarctic Cruise web site (Antarctica Travel Centre).

Some of our guests choose to combine a Galapagos Cruise with an Antarctic Cruise.  As specialists with first-hand experience we welcome the opportunity of creating your trip of a lifetime.

HIGHLIGHTS

Snorkeling adds a whole new dimension to a visit to the Galapagos Islands.  Whilst not everyone who visits may want to go snorkeling we suggest it’s definitely worth giving it a go.  The guides (on the better boats) are experts themselves and also experts at helping guests to venture into the underwater world of the Galapagos, after all it is a Marine park – hence there’s a lot to see under the water.  It’s possible to see three species or turtle, white-tipped reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, bottle-nosed dolphins, marine iguanas in addition to many species of reef fish.

The Galapagos Islands are a wildlife paradise.  Many species have no fear of humans as a result it is usually possible to get close to them and to take amazing photographs (please always follow the parks guidelines as well as the instructions of your National Park guide).  Quite recently the guides have come up with the ‘Galapagos Big 15’ – they are; 1.  blue-footed booby, 2.  red-footed booby,  3.  Nazca booby, 4.  flightless cormorant, 5.  America flamingo, 6 & 7.  Great & Magnificent frigate birds, 8.  Galapagos Hawk, 9. land iguana, 10.  marine iguana, 11.  Santa Fe Iguana, 12.  Galapagos penguin, 13.  Galapagos sea lion, 14.  Galapagos fur seal and last but not least the 15.  Galapagos Giant tortoise.  Then there are 13 species of Darwin’s finches and other birds species, too numerous to list here

Most voyages over 5 nights in duration will see most of the above species.  The more difficult (site dependent) species are; waved albatross, flightless cormorant, Santa Fe Iguana and Galapagos penguin.  Please tell us if you have specific interests as we can ensure the selected voyage visits appropriate sites.

Sadly the most famous giant tortoise, Lonesome George, died in 2012 before it was possible to find a female of the same sub-species of tortoise (Pinta) for him to mate with.  The good news is that Galapagos giant tortoise numbers are increasing and can now be seen on several islands with Santa Cruz offering the best opportunities.  Recent work on removing feral goats and pigs (both of which would dig up nests of eggs to eat) has been extremely successful as have captive breeding programmes; who’s work can be seen at the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

The Galapagos giant tortoise now represent one of the remaining two groups of giant tortoises in the entire world — the other group living on Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.

OVERVIEW CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH CENTRE:

In 1959 Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands created and Galapagos National Park (GNP) established.  Five years later in 1964 Charles Darwin Research Station was established in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.  Invasive species are the number one threat to Galapagos ecosystems and biodiversity.  Significant work to remove feral goats and pigs have been particularly successful in helping giant tortoise numbers recover on some islands.

A visit to the research centre will allow you to see several sub-species of giant tortoise that developed in isolation of one another on specific islands with particular habitat that led to changes in their shells and necks – clear demonstrations of evolution – made famous by Charles Darwin.  There are also many hundreds of young tortoises bred for future release.

OVERVIEW ISABELA ISLAND:

The largest (4,588 sq.km and 100km long) and one of the youngest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela was formed by six independent volcanoes that came together – five are still active, making it one of the most volcanically active places on earth. Aside from the geological interest for which it is famous, Isabela is rich with bird (including flightless cormorants and galapagos penguins), animal and marine life and is home to more wild giant tortoises than all the other islands. Its large size and the lava flows and other obstacles created barriers that the slow-moving tortoises were unable to cross, causing several different sub-species of tortoise to develop. The island was also a favourite hideaway for early pirates, buccaneers and whalers, and at Tagus Cove you will see the names of hundreds of ships painted on the high ridge, a practice dating back to the 1800s and now forbidden.

OVERVIEW GENOVESA ISLAND:

Genovesa Island is the northern most island in the Galapagos archipelago, famous for an abundance of bird life. This island is is a shield volcano in which part of the caldera wall has collapsed creating Darwin Bay. Genovesa Island is famous for the courting frigate birds who nest on this island and the males inflate their bright red throat pouches to impress a female. Other birdspecies found on this island include: Red footed boobies, blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies, storm petrels, short eared owls, and many more. Here you will also find seals as well as Galapagos sharks.

OVERVIEW ESPANOLA ISLAND:

This is one of the islands where you will observe the highest proportion of endemic species in the Galapagos. You will be noisily greeted by sea lions when you land on their beach at Punta Suarez, while curious mockingbirds peck at your shoelaces. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in ‘sky-pointing’ to show off for potential mates; swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds take shelter under the cliffs, and you will also find Darwin’s finches, Galapagos doves and Galapagos hawks. And only here you will see a species of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colouring (nicknamed, for obvious reasons, Christmas iguanas!)

Espanola is also home to the waved albatross.  This critically endangered species breeds mainly on Espanola Island and the major cause of its decline continues to be long-line fishing. The courtship of the waved albatross is a spectacular sight and usually takes place in March & April. It includes rapid bill circling and bowing, beak clacking, and an upraised bill to make a “whoo hoo” sound.  The waved albatross head out to sea in December and don’t return until February.