Preparing for a Galapagos Cruise
Anyone fortunate enough to be embarking on a Galapagos cruise should be prepared for what will undoubtedly be one of the most authentic and memorable holidays of their life. Understanding what to expect in terms of the itinerary is one thing, but knowing a little more about the actual machinations of a Galapagos cruise will only serve to enhance the experience.
Within the delicate eco-system of the archipelago, it should go without saying that visitors should be respectful of the environment and its flora and fauna. While the wildlife is renowned for being fearless of humans, it should not be seen as an open invitation to get too close, too often. Remember: these islands are the animals' natural habitat, not a zoo.
Being mindful also applies to ensuring the conservation of water while on board your Galapagos cruise vessel. While you will, of course, be surrounded by seawater, all fresh drinking water must be carried on board. There's plenty to go around but, again, be mindful and respectful of others.
It's unlikely you'll encounter rough conditions, but because of the strong currents you can expect some movement of the vessel as it navigates the archipelago. If you're prone to seasickness it's certainly better to come prepared with the appropriate medication as a preventative measure.
Because you'll be spending time on board the vessel, walking or gentle hiking on shore, and moving in between (transferring in a smaller vessel to shore where it may be necessary to get your feet wet!), it's advisable to pack appropriate wet and dry footwear.
Due to the nature of the experience, comfortable and casual clothing is highly recommended. Again you'll need to take into account the activities on the itinerary, which will be both land and sea based.
The archipelago is one huge non-stop photographic opportunity – especially for those with a keen interest in wildlife photography. But it's important not to get caught short and miss that 'shot of a lifetime' due to running out of memory or your battery going flat. There won't be any shops to grab extras, so pack multiple memory cards and batteries along with your photographic equipment. If you're using your smart phone, a quick charge device is handy when travelling.
Currently there are no required inoculations for a Galapagos cruise, which also includes further travelling to Ecuador. However, it would be wise to confirm this with your GP or tour operator closer to the time of your departure in case there have been any changes.
You'll be under the governance of the Galapagos National Park, which carries with it a responsibility to comply with numerous regulations. While your guide will ensure you remain within the designated areas (and you're not permitted to go anywhere without a licensed guide), it's important you understand the restrictions. The guide will provide a full briefing on all the regulations, which include no smoking anywhere on the islands; no removal of any plants, animals, rocks or sand; and no touching or petting of any of the wildlife.
A Unique Experience
There are few places on Earth that hold as much fascination and appeal for naturalists, photographers and wildlife aficionados. The archipelago is home to a vast diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet. A professionally organised Galapagos cruise affords participants the most accessible way in which to enjoy this unique region.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Marissa chooses the expert-led Galapagos cruise itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in one of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.