Should I Choose a Galapagos Cruise or Land-Based Tour? 6 Things to Consider

Galapagos Conservation, Galapagos Hotels, Planning Your Trip

When Charles Darwin first explored the Galapagos, he did it by boat. He didn’t have any other choice.

Today, Galapagos visitors have a decision to make. There are two options for exploring the Galapagos: Land or water based.

  • A water-based tour (cruise) means that you will eat, sleep and rest on-board – either a yacht, catamaran, sailboat or cruise ship. Only land based excursions are off the ship.
  • A land-based tour mean you will eat, sleep and rest on land. You will be on the water only during scuba/snorkeling trips and travel between islands.
There are a number of factors that are often overlooked when planning a Galapagos trip. There are comfort and environmental considerations.

6 Things to Consider When Planning Your Galapagos Adventure

  1. Seasickness: This is the obvious one. If you have trouble with sea sickness, you’ll want to think twice before booking a week at sea.
  2. Cruises Consume More Fuel: Constant idling and motoring of cruise ships consumes significant volume of fuel.
  3. Greater Environmental Impact: Greater impact is made to the islands with the hundreds of passengers that cruises may host, when compared to smaller land-based tour groups.
  4. Limited Destinations: Larger boats cannot even send groups to certain locations, like Isabela Island.
  5. Ocean Pollution / Dumping Grey Water: Pollution possibilities such as disposal of grey water at sea or garbage being thrown into the sea are present on cruise ships.
  6. Limited Economic Benefits: Cruise ships tend to operate inside of a bubble – buying their supplies from a single location and often hiring mainlanders. Money is seldom spent at the locations visited. In contrast, a land based tour ensures that money spent by visitors ALWAYS benefits the local communities. We support local sustainability through employment and advancement through education, training and sponsorships.


Its worth taking the time to think through your plans, and make sure that it is going to be best for you – and for the Galapagos. Taking a land based Galapagos tour limits environmental impact and increases your exposure to wildlife.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Bryan Haines! I'm a traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

1 comment… add one
  • Rosa Elena Amavisca Mar 20, 2012, 12:33 am

    We will be in Quito in June and would LOVE to go to Galapago Islands for @ 6 days.  What do you recommend?
    rosaelenah@h@hotmail:disqus Thanks!!

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