I'm On A Boat (in the Galapagos)
The Galapagos were always on our agenda, but we read online you could save a ton of money booking last minute (online or when you arrive in the Galapagos). The issue with trying to do the Galapagos and starting our trip in Ecuador is that we immediately had to schedule time off work, book the experience a couple weeks in, and ensure we were in the right city at the right time. Sometime around mid-June we realized that our Galapagos trip needed to be a couple weeks later--because we were leaving the country soon--and that we should really start planning ASAP.
We did some research online and found some good sites for last minute cruises. We ended up using Galapagos Cruise Links and Galapagos Last Minute predominantly. After an hour or so of both of us scouring these sites, we realized there were too many variables and options to determine what to do without a little guidance. We messaged a few travel agencies about available trips and waited to see who would respond and what options they would have. Mike from Ecuatraveling responded early the next morning and provided us with a few similar options including the one we reached out about. After reviewing the choices we inquired about the Sea Star. To know more about how that went, check out our review for Ecuatraveling.
The main point of this post is to offer some tips based on our experience.
You can book from the islands, if you want. Friends of ours on the yacht did so and they had no issues. We didn’t specifically do this, but wanted to add to the information out there that it is possible and there are TONS of travel agencies on the island that are ready to sell you cruises at any time of day. They got a discounted rate compared to the full cost, although we don’t know exactly what they paid.
If you book online, we would recommend planning to fly out of Quito. You can fly out of Guayaquil (we did) and it works fine, but most of the travel agencies you will talk to are based out of Quito. If you are in town, it makes payment a lot easier (see the next bullet).
Ask about options for payment. It seemed like most companies will charge you for paying in anything other than cash. Ecuatraveling had a ton of options (PayPay, money transfer, etc.), but they all cost between 2-6% in processing fees. We asked them about Zelle (a service offered by Capital One and several other banks) and they agreed with no issue. We were able to send our payments in a few separate transactions and avoided any additional fees.
Buy booze from the Galapagos and bring it on your boat. Drinks on our boat were outrageously expensive ($12 glasses of mediocre wine and $5 tiny Pilsener bottles!). Luckily, one couple brought alcohol on because their travel agent said they could and it sort of broke the dam for everyone else. It’s definitely more of an ask forgiveness instead of permission situation, but our crew did not care at all. They even went as far as providing bottle service for the wine we snuck on. Only caveat here, just because you bring on alcohol, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip the crew!
Bring your own sea sickness medication (ideally from the states). While this was not an issue for us, several fellow cruisers were very happy to have their own. Most of the ships do their navigating at night, but you can definitely feel the waves while you move. The stuff they make in Ecuador is alright, but you can’t get the patches in Ecuador and those seemed to help the most.
We rented our wetsuits from the yacht for $30 pp for the whole week. It was definitely the easiest option since we didn’t have to worry about packing them, we didn’t have to deal with wet wetsuits on the last day, and they didn’t cost too much. You can also ask to have these included by your travel agent or the yacht when you are booking. It is a little hit or miss, but it never hurts to ask.
We hope these help! If not, at least you can see some great Galapagos images before the full gallery is finished.
As always, feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions or need any more information.