When planning a tour of the Galapagos Islands there are four classes of boats to choose from. The quality of service, food, accommodation and tour varies enormously between the classes, as does the cost. Most boats offer 5 and 8 day tours and some offer 3 and 4 day tours.To really experience the islands we recommend a tour with a minimum of 5 days.
The following is information regarding the four classes of boat tours:
This is the most basic boat tour. This tour visits fewer islands due to the size and speed. Accommodations can be quite cramped and the food is basic. The guides are Naturalist Class I, they speak some broken English and their knowledge of the islands is due only to the fact that they grew up there.
We recommend economy class boat tours for backpackers on a tight budget.
Tourist class boats are one step up from Economy. Accommodations tend to be slightly more spacious and the food more diverse. Some of the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, although it may not work. Some have hot showers, depending on the boat. The guides are Naturalist Class II, meaning they have obtained some training and possess a better knowledge of the islands. They also probably speak more English. The Tourist boat tour is more organized and tours are better than the Economy boat tour.
Tourist class boats are for those who would like to see the Galapagos Islands in relative comfort and at an affordable price.
First Class (F):
First Class boat tours are quite a jump in comfort, service, food, organization and ambiance from Tourist boat tours.
On a First Class boat tour you will pass your time in a welcome, spacious, and comfortable atmosphere. You can count on air conditioning and hot water showers, as well as large varied buffet style meals. First Class boat tours travel faster allowing you to see more sites and animals while touring the islands. The guides belong to Naturalist Class III, the highest rank of guide on the Galapagos. This means they have studied, acquired a degree, and possess scientific knowledge of flora and fauna, as well as the evolution of the archipelago.
First Class boat tours are definitely for those with no budget restrictions and who want to travel in style and learn more about the human and natural history of the Galapagos Islands.
Luxury ships are mainly cruise ships, amongst others, with a capacity of between 20 and 100 passengers. There is no shortage of dancing space or relaxing areas on the Luxury boar tour, some even have hammocks to rock an evening away in. Also equipped in the Luxury of these ships are satellite telephone and TV/video. You will be briefed daily about your tour, sometimes with an informative video. Luxury ships are travel faster and therefore can take you to more islands in less time. Guides belong to the Naturalist Class III, mentioned above. Luxury class ships also use environmentally friendly fuel!
- The daily itinerary for all four boat tours is generally the same: breakfast on the boat, visit an island, lunch on the boat, visit another island, and then spending the evening on the boat cruising to the next island that will be visited in the morning.