Life aboard a Galapagos Small Cruise Ship

If the mention of CRUISE is putting you off further reading then stay!! Please! Because you’re probably a bit like me…. confinement, forced socializing, inflexible itinerary….. YUCK! Then there’s the small matter of seasickness – as I’ve said many times here over the years – I’m the WORST sea traveller! I start turning green in port, queuing for the ferry, just watching it gently tilt from side to side. And I’m no mermaid – I won’t be the one jumping off the side of the boat to frolic with the sealions and turtles! So yes – I’m the ideal candidate for such a trip!


Who doesn’t want to go to the Galapagos!

Picking a Tour

We made a decision to travel in a relatively short space of time and therefore with minimum research. We always knew the general options were for 3/4/7 nights and if we ever made it that far we’d opt for the 7. We were not going to travel independently, and, with limited options of long haul travel agencies in Dublin, we consulted with just two companies.

The first agent nearly had us. To his credit, we saw him on spec on a Friday, he told us to go home and think about it over the weekend as it was a lot of money, and so we did. That agent was offering 7 nights on a luxury 100 passenger ship – perfect …

BUT – by Sunday we had booked – via Trailfinders and G Adventures – a 7 night cruise on a 16 passenger boat, PLUS 7 nights tour in Ecuador, for much less money. I needed a bit of persuading but it was a no brainer really.

In hindsight, I’m delighted we hadn’t a massive choice of boats and companies – that sort of detail drives me crazy – they’re all offering pretty much the same trip…

The Boat

The REINA SILVIA VOYAGER was our home for the trip. The catamaran has capacity for 16 guests (there were 14 on our week) +10 crew +CEO (Chief Experience Officer).

The public areas include a modest sized dining area and lounge.

There’s a bbq area on the upper deck as well as a sundeck and jacuzzi.

Cabins are similar to hotel options – single/double/twin. Unfortunately, we had one of the only two cabins without a balcony (but it didn’t actually matter very much).

Food and Drink

The food was just great – fresh fruit and veg, lots of fish but also chicken and meat, lovely deserts – all beautifully cooked and presented.

Breakfast – buffet style with fruit, cereal and a hot option, etc.

Lunch – Full lunch, buffet or table service.

Dinner – 3 course, table service.

Snacks – twice daily – juice and some tasty nibbles that the chef whipped up – mini pizza bites, fresh gaucamole and chips…..

Tea / coffee/ water/ soft drinks available all day. Bar for beer/ wine/ spirits to purchase.

Welcome drink / Farewell drink reception. BBQ on one evening.


2 dinghies – we left the main boat in dinghies for every activity.

Wetsuits – everyone fitted with numbered suit which was yours for the week

Snorkeling masks and fins – everyone fitted and their equipment stored in numbered bags.

Lifebelts – worn at all times in the dinghies.

Lifejackets – for kayaking (and snorkeling if desired)

Kayaks – 8 sit-on-top double kayaks

Walking Sticks for uneven terrain


This is one busy week! There are activities planned for the whole day – typically in stretches of 60-90 minutes and back to the boat for 30 minutes and off again! They generally fall in to four categories – walks, snorkeling (off beach or off dinghy), kayaking, dinghy rides along cliffs etc. The location changes daily so there will always be something new to see and experience.

At 6.30 pm, there is a briefing and timetable for the following day, followed by dinner at 7.00pm.

Dress Code

As usual. I overthought the whole thing – searching for photos of visitors before I went to check out the colour of their runners! It’s CASUAL – you probably change a few times a day – and clean up a bit for dinner but nothing formal. Your walking runners or sandals are left outside, close to the dinghies (and feet/shoes regularly sprayed with hose upon return to boat) so you need flipflops or sandals for indoors – although most of us resorted to bare feet fairly quickly. . You need a few changes of swimming gear and a rain jacket. Some passengers brought their own wetsuits.

SO – you ask – how did a landlubber like myself manage –

Snorkeling – I mentioned to the CEO on the first evening that I could snorkel off the beach but not in deep water – and that I didn’t mind missing out. She was absolutely brilliant. She said she’d look after me but that she didn’t want me missing out on the experience if possible. The following morning, on our first snorkel, she saw the other 13 guests into the water and then got in herself with a big life ring. I got in after her and held on to the other side of the ring. From there I could safely snorkel for as long as I wished. Over the next few days, I was able to experience the amazing sea life in safety and stress free – it was the highlight for me (apart from seeing the Blue-Footed Booby of course!).

Motion Sickness – My box of KWELLS was my best friend (apart from the CEO after she got me snorkeling of course!). We actually had three bad stretches – a few rotten hours at night when the boat was relocating. On those occasions, everyone just went to bed straight after dinner and weathered it out. It was always calm the following morning and no one in the group – including myself – missed any activity due to motion sickness. Nor did we miss a meal! I’ve NEVER eaten so much on a boat before!!!!

Socializing – We were an eclectic mix of 14 – from Europe, Canada and the US. There were three couples, a father and son, a brother and sister and four singles. The age range was 23 – 80! We had a guy who knew every bird that few past and another who knew all about volcanic terrains.

All activities were done as a group. After that it varied – there was actually very little ‘down time’ anyway but some sat around the lounge area and others always went to their rooms. There was no real hanging around after dinner – because of the early start and active day, most were delighted to head off to bed as soon as it was polite to do so.

Having said that, we all got on great – and will keep in touch. Contact groups have been set up to share photos and some amazing go-pro footage from underwater (particularly good for us because I’d no camera – although I’ll only use our own phone photos for the blogs). We’d lots of craic and they all know there’ll always be a bed for them in Dublin!

28 thoughts on “Life aboard a Galapagos Small Cruise Ship

  1. You’ve taken me right back to my own experiences there – some similar, some very different! We were on a 16 berth ship too but much less fancy (bunk beds, no jacuzzi, no balconies). And we did the ‘other’ side of the islands – Genovese, Espanola etc. Otherwise there were a lot of similarities and I think you’re right about it not being a problem not having a lot of thinking time to consider the best options. When I was trying to decide (and we had LOTS of planning time!) I read that there are no bad itineraries, you’ll love it wherever you go 😀 Looking forward to reading more about your experiences on this trip (even knowing in advance the not so happy ending).

    1. I think you love it wherever you go and whenever you go… unless you’ve a very specific seasonal interest in particular birds etc. With our group of 14, most were just delighted to be there and enjoyed the overall experience.

  2. I absorbed every word of your post, Marie! Your trip is my dream trip, and I appreciate the excellent insights you provided. I am also a landlubber and do not snorkel, but I love how your CEO helped you out. I’m saving this post for future reference. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Hope you make it there one day Kellye – I’m sure you will. We just knew from the crew that they wanted to maximise the experience for everyone and be as inclusive as possible – Having said that, there was absolutely no pressure to partake in everything – the walks and dinghy rides were very easy but some people skipped a few of the snorkel trips and a kayaking trip that was in choppy sea. While you could stay on the boat, generally if someone was skipping an activity they went along in the dinghy anyway because there was always something to see…

  3. Absolutely brilliant picking the small size boat. Much friendlier and less stress. The activities and food seem perfect. I guess the catch is the price tag!! And reading above about a not so happy ending – yikes! My mind is running away with me.

    1. It worked out very well Bernie – funnily enough, our paths crossed with the big boat on one of the days somewhere. They told us there were 60 passengers (out of 100) so I wonder if there would be last minute deals in such a situation…. Sarah is referring to my Galapagos souvenir Bernie – I brought home two fractures!!!! Misstepped getting into the dinghy one afternoon and broke ankle and bone in foot …. I’m thankfully home but holed up for the next while! 👩‍🦽 😭

  4. Sounds wonderful! I am generally against cruises, but there are some places that are really only accessible by cruise. I would also pick the smaller cruise over a large one.

    1. I really considered it less of a cruise and more just an access to the islands… and none of the other passengers were frequent cruisers either… It’s possible to fly to the islands and stay in a hostel and book daytrips but I’m not sure what range of experience you can get like that – we never investigated it.

    1. Didn’t I just! Not saying I’ll be rushing back on a boat any time soon but I’ll be more open to the suggestion maybe…

  5. As others have said, this looks like a dream trip. And I’m another one who feels generally apathetic about cruises. The boat looks fantastic in terms of design and facilities. The food looks top notch too. The experience seems to be a solid balance between adventuring and delicious calm. What a fantastic experience, Marie.

  6. What a trip. I don’t think I could ever do a cruise as just going on a short boat trip makes me vomit, but I like the idea and the food looks great 🙂

    1. Ah Hannah – that’s like me!! In fact, as I recall, there was only one of the 14 who was keen on boats and had done a bit of sailing etc! Unfortunately it’s impossible to avoid the sea there – even if you stay on one of the islands, the wildlife is scattered so you’d still have to do boat tours…. XXXM

  7. Wow! I’ve finally caught up with your posts and the catch-up was worth it for the sense of adventure and excitement you conveyed. What a great experience, and one you’ll never forget, it’s one to tell the grandchildren about (if, that is, they haven’t already experienced it via AI). I’m one of those sad people who can’t swim despite spending a small fortune on lessons, so trips like this are a no-no for me, but I do enjoy reading about such trips. Keep that foot well up and don’ try to hobble too soon. I broke an ankle about 12 years and walked on it too soon – not a good outcome!

    1. I’m being SO good because I don’t want it to drag on longer than necessary. Actually met someone in a cast about 10 days ago who’d a rather cavalier attitude towards the whole thing – anyway, I heard this morning that she went back yesterday and was given 2 more weeks!!

  8. Catching up after our travel and this post really caught my eye! This is really useful to know, as we were considering the Galgpagos in the next couple of years and had similar concerns about being trapped on a small boat for an extended period of time. From your detailed information it sounds like a comfortable choice with lots to do. .

    1. I’ve no hesitation Brian in saying ‘ go for it’ – I had SO many reservations about it but it worked out great. As I’ve mentioned, you’re so busy that there’s very little down time anyway and everyone on the boat really appreciates the trip as much as yourself. For most, it’s a costly adventure so people take it seriously and are enthusiastic about everything. Hope you get there sometime. XXXMarie

  9. The spirit of travel can overcome any obstacle you face along the way so I agree with you about overthinking the reasoning why you did so.

    1. The spirit of Travel – you’re so right….At the beginning of that particular trip we were exhausted after the 12 hour flight and jetlagged of course. I was beginning to whine a bit about ‘not doing this again’. Within two days we met a 73 year old and then an 80 year old – both travelling alone through South America – their energy and enthusiasm put us both to shame and gave us a new lease of life…

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