These “Frequently Asked Questions” are designed to answer many questions you may have when traveling in the Galapagos on one of our travel programs.
How do I plan and reserve a trip?
Please email us at email@example.com or call toll free 1 800 244 3483 (for callers in USA and Canada only). International callers may call +1 772 287 7995. Our business hours are 9 am to 6 pm Eastern Time Zone. We are based in Stuart, Florida. We welcome inquiries from travel agencies too for their valued clients.
When should I make my reservation?
We recommend that you book your trip as far in advance as possible. Cruises during holiday seasons such as Christmas to New years sell out at least 10 months-2 years in advance!
How can I pay for my confirmed trip?
We accept American Express, Visa, Master Card, checks drawn on a US bank account or wire transfer. For late bookings (30 days or less prior to departure) we require payment by credit card or wire transfer only.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We recommend you to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy to protect you and your investment before and during your trip. Most policies cover trip cancellation and interruption, travel and baggage delay, loss of baggage and travel documents, emergency assistance, medical expense and evacuation. We will send you details of our policy with your trip confirmation.
TRAVELING TO GALAPAGOS
How many visitors travel to Galapagos annually?
Currently, up to 60,000 people from all over the world visit the Islands each year. Ecuadorian government has established a limit of 90,000 visitors per year in order to preserve Galapagos ecosystem.
When is the best time of year to visit Galapagos?
Galapagos is a sub-tropical destination and most all of the seabirds and reptiles nest year round. You can see courtship, mating, chicks hatching and rearing at any time of the year.
What is the local currency?
Ecuador recently adopted the US Dollar as their monetary unit. Therefore, it is not necessary to exchange money.
What is your passenger profile?
Our passengers tend to be well educated, well-traveled and from a variety of age groups and nationalities. They have a keen interest in learning about new aspects of nature and ecology and are concerned about environmental issues.
Do I need a passport or visa?
For international travel, a U.S. passport valid for at least six months from date of departure, containing at least two blank pages is necessary. No visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens. We recommend nationals of other countries to check with the nearest Ecuadorian consulate prior to traveling to determine if a visa is necessary.
Are any immunizations required?
Currently none are required for visitors to mainland Ecuador and Galapagos.
How should I book my flights to Galapagos?
These must be purchased through us. When you book a Galapagos cruise tour or hotel package with us, we will reserve and confirm the flights from Quito/Guayaquil to/from Galapagos. Tickets are issued locally in Ecuador and provided to clients on day of flight embarkation by our representatives assisting with flight check in at the respective airlines' ticket counters at Quito or Guayaquil airport.
What are the luggage restrictions?
For flights to Galapagos, the airlines allow one checked suitcase (44 lbs.) and one carry-on bag.
What will I need while in the Galapagos Islands?
Sun hat with a wide brim to protect your neck as well as face and head; sun glasses; sandals (for the boat); sneakers (for dry landings and rocky shores); sandals (for wet landings); swim suit; high factor, waterproof sunscreen; wind-resistant jacket; light sweater or sweatshirt (nights can get rather cool and you don't want to miss stargazing on deck).
Who will meet me at the airport in Galapagos?
Upon arrival at San Cristobal or Baltra airports, passengers are met by the hotel or vessel guides and transported by a private bus to hotel or the vessel anchored nearby. Once on board, you will receive an orientation and safety drill.
Are there Galapagos entrance fees?
The Galapagos Islands are part of the Ecuador National Park system and the entrance fee is $100 per person. Children 11 and younger pay a reduced rate of $50. The fee is divided up among various entities including the GNPS, Marine Reserve, agriculture, municipalities, INEFAN and INGALA. The park only accepts cash in U.S dollars as a form of payment. The fee is included in our complete cruise tours packages.
What happens during the island visits?
On the Islands, you will follow marked trails set by the National Park walking at a leisurely pace. The guides will interpret and explain the unusual sights you see. You'll spend 3 to 4 hours at each site allowing plenty of time to explore and photograph the abundant wildlife. Afterward, there are opportunities to swim and snorkel.
How strenuous are the walks on the islands?
Passengers able to walk a few hours a day unassisted will be able to fully enjoy Galapagos. Some of the excursions require more physical activity than others involving short steep climbs or long walks in hot weather. However, most excursions require moderate activity and the walks are at a leisurely pace giving time for the guides to describe what you are seeing. Entering and exiting the pangas (small boats) require you to be reasonably fit, sure footed and in good health. If you are concerned about your ability to do any particular day hike, please consult with the naturalist beforehand. In order to enjoy your trip to its fullest potential, it is a good idea to do some exercises before your trip, such as walking, swimming or bicycling.
What if I have a physical disability?
Please see your doctor for a check-up before traveling to Ecuador. Any medical condition or physical disability that may require special attention or treatment must be advised to us at the time of booking.
Are there regulations we must obey?
During the orientation, your guide will go over the Galapagos National Park rules which request, among others, that you do not disturb or remove anything (not even a rock or shell); do not touch or feed the animals; do not leave any liter and to stay on the marked trails. Show a conservationist attitude! Leave only footprints and take home only photographs.
How much are the airport taxes in Ecuador?
On international flights there is an airport tax of US$44.30 from Quito or Guayaquil. All taxes are per person, payable locally in cash and subject to change
What time zone is used in Galapagos?
Ecuador is in the Eastern Time zone (GMT-5 in the mainland). Daylight savings time is not observed. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. On board, we observe mainland Ecuador time.
ABOARD OUR VESSELS
What does my cruise include?
Your cruise includes your cabin accommodation on board, all meals and snacks, shore excursions, guide services, and transfers between the airport and dock in Galapagos. Not included are gratuities for guide(s) and crew, purchases on board, beverages, and items of a personal nature.
Are children allowed?
Due to supplier regulations, our Galapagos vessels do not permit children under 7 years of age. An adult must accompany all children under 16. Children 7 to 11 receive a discount in the rates for our travel programs. There are some designated family departures offered aboard select vessels during certain times of the year. Families traveling with children under 7 years may wish to consider a Galapagos Hotel Package.
Are my valuables safe?
We recommend that you leave all valuables at home as they are not appropriate for adventure travel.
Are there naturalist guides on board the vessels?
Passengers must be accompanied at all times by our naturalist guides who have been trained by the Charles Darwin Station and licensed by the National Park. They know each visitor site intimately and share their knowledge on nature walks during the day. In the evenings, our expert guides give briefings for the next day's excursions.
How do we get from the boat to the shore?
The vessels anchor offshore at two visitor sites or Islands per day. Passengers are ferried to the landing point in small boats (locally called "pangas"). The landings are either wet (where one must step into water anywhere from your ankles to your knees and wade to shore) or dry (where one steps from the panga directly to the volcanic rock). Your guide and panga driver assist you with a steady hand.
Can I scuba dive?
Scuba diving is available year-round on select yachts. Galapagos is recommended for experienced divers due to strong currents, cold water, thermo clines and large marine life. The best times to dive are October to May when water temperatures are warmer and visibility is best.
What languages are spoken on board?
Guides and officers aboard the vessels speak English and Spanish.
Can I phone home or be reached aboard my vessel?
It is not easy or sometimes possible to call from the vessel out unless you are carrying your own satellite phone. Cell phone companies do not usually extend their coverage to the islands. In an emergency, you can be reached on board your vessel by having the emergency message relayed through our US office or the Galapagos representative contact information indicated in your final trip itinerary. Ensure you leave a copy of the contact information with a family member or friend prior to your departure.
Will I encounter rough seas or bad weather?
Due to strong currents, there will be moderate movement of the vessel while navigating. Most passengers are not affected. However, if you are prone to seasickness, we strongly urge you to bring some type of medication to prevent motion sickness.
Can I smoke on board a vessel?
Smoking is prohibited in enclosed areas aboard the vessels. Smoking is only allowed on the outer decks in designated areas.
When are meals served?
Meals are informal and there is just one seating for all passengers. Although meal times can vary slightly the typical schedule is breakfast at 7:30 am, lunch at 12:30 pm and dinner is served at 7:30 pm.
What type of meals can I expect while on a cruise?
Typically, breakfast is served buffet-style. Lunches and some dinners are also served buffet-style, while other dinners are offered on a menu basis. Dinners and lunches usually include fish, meat, chicken and pasta and rice entrées; soups and vegetables; desserts and fresh fruit, along with a chance to try delicious Ecuadorian specialties. Menu items are subject to change due to the availability and seasonality of foods.
Can you accommodate special dietary requests?
On your tour application, there is a place for you to enter any dietary needs such as food allergies or special food requirements. Please complete and return to your Destination Specialist no later than 60 days prior to departure so we can comply with your requirements.
Is alcohol included with meals?
Alcoholic beverages are typically not included with your scheduled meals; however, a limited selection is available for purchase.
How can I celebrate a special occasion?
Please advise us at least 60 days prior to arrival. For an additional cost, we can assist with providing wine or a birthday cake at dinnertime or a fruit basket in your cabin. It is prohibited to bring flowers to Galapagos.
How can I pay for purchases on board a vessel?
Every passenger has an open tab at the bar and boutique, which are paid the last day of the cruise. Most vessels accept cash (US Dollars), Travelers checks, Master Card, VISA, and American Express.
How much should I tip?
Aboard our vessels, gratuities are not included. We prefer that our guests reward our crew based on their performance. Tipping is a personal matter and passengers are encouraged to tip an amount they find appropriate. For those passengers who inquire we suggest US $175 per person on a 7-night cruise. For those on shorter itineraries, we suggest $125 per person on a 5-night cruise, $100 per person on a 4-night cruise and $75 per person for a 3-night cruise. Gratuities are divided among all crew members including guides.
What is the electric current?
Electric current is 110/AC 60 cycles.
Is safe to drink the water on board?
Bottled water is provided in your cabin. Drinking water is provided during meal times. We do not recommend you drink water from the tap in your cabin.
Is snorkeling equipment provided?
Masks, fins and snorkels i.e. average sizes are available on board for use during the cruise. Some vessels charge for rental of equipment. Approximately $10 for a 3 night cruise, $15 for a 4 night cruise and $20 for a 7 night cruise may apply depending on the vessel.
Is the cruise itinerary subject to change?
All cruise lines reserve the right at its sole option and discretion and that of the Captain of the vessel without liability for damages or refund of any kind to Deviate from the vessel's advertised or ordinary itinerary providing equally equivalent substitutions.
Is there any doctor on board?
Most vessels have a doctor on board. The vessels also carry first aid kits and the guides are trained in first aid procedures. All vessels have radio contact with the mainland for any medical emergencies.