The Top 8 Most Overrated Features of a Galapagos Cruise: Amenities you don’t really need (and how to avoid them)
There’s no doubt about the fact that Galapagos cruises often go beyond the call of duty in giving us the true definition luxury in a place as isolated as Galapagos. However, just how far can you go before you end up going beyond the call of necessity in Galapagos? Beware, dear reader, for there are many Galapagos gimmicks out there (often disguised as “prized amenities”) that we highly recommend avoiding. The reason? Mainly because when the essence of something is missing, vessels often find deceptive ways of making up for what’s lacking. These are the so-called “overrated features of a Galapagos cruise” that you shouldn’t ever use in your decision-making process.
In this blog, we invite you to come along with us as we dispel many of these “determining factors” when it comes to choosing a Galapagos tour based on several, dubious aspects.
Do I need a swimming pool on my Galapagos cruise?
Ok, fair enough, swimming is fun, but the real question here is: will you ever even have time to use a swimming pool in Galapagos?
And sure, we all love seeing a pool featured in the list of amenities. But keep in mind that, in Galapagos, you have a vast ocean where swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, coastal explorations, and glass-bottom boat outings are a consistent part of your daily activities. In other words: you’re going to be spending the whole time doing fun and exciting things that involve mother nature’s own pool – the entire ocean – filled to the brim with wildlife that will playfully swim up to you!
Even if a pool is featured on your vessel of choice, then be extra sure to take a look at the itinerary of said vessel along with the expedition gadgets that are available for exploring the islands. Why? Because an onboard swimming pool may be an “aquatic” way of disguising missing or absent exploration features of a vessel. Oh, and before we forget, did we mention that the pools that do exist aboard expedition vessels in Galapagos are, in fact, incredibly tiny? In fact they’re so small you can’t do any laps in them, and you’ll be lucky if you take more than 5 steps in any direction before you reach the edges! Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps would have zero fun aboard a vessel with a swimming pool in Galapagos.
What to do: Don’t make this a deal breaker when deciding on what cruise to take. Always keep in mind that you’ll have plenty activities at your disposal throughout the day to keep yourself (or the little ones) busy, both on land and in the ocean itself. If you’re reluctant to take a dip in open water, then just know that all of our expedition vessels have a hot tub (the Santa Cruz II even has two tubs!) and these are used for relaxing purposes and soothing your body after a day’s adventures. These hot tubs are easily accessible from the boarding platform, allowing you to get right into the relaxing hot waters right after your excursion. Hot tubs are useful all year round too, which make this type of amenity a more realistic bonus. Keep in mind that it’s during the hot season in Galapagos that explorers love to spend as much time as possible in the ocean exploring!
Does my cabin really need a balcony to better enjoy my Galapagos cruise?
While having access to your own personal balcony aboard your Galapagos cruise does sound nice and supremely romantic, keep in mind that it’s not always great to have direct access to the outdoors from your cabin. Remember that when vessels in Galapagos move between locations, they often do so in the face of windy/breezy conditions. During transition periods between seasons, and certainly all throughout the Galapagos dry/windy season, real-feel temperatures can fall as low as 62 °F (16 °C) and the wind chill factor is noticeably present throughout the islands, especially with the presence of the southeast trade winds that blow in our direction.
What’s more? Access to your room from a balcony implies that there’s a gate for moisture to get into your cabin from the hotter Galapagos outdoors during the day. The worst part? Once it gets in, it’ll make everything damp, allowing moisture to wreak havoc on your electronics and clothing.
We’ve seen this “filler feature” used on other Galapagos ships, and they’re often found on vessels where social areas are not only limited in number but also small in size. Therefore, ships that do in fact have balconies as an amenity will often have less space for you to enjoy the better insulated indoor areas. Ships with a greater amount and variety of communal areas, on the other hand, offer more inviting ways of enjoying the indoors and outdoors on your cruise.
Do I need to have an ATM on my Galapagos cruise?
Short answer: No. Long answer: There’s no need to have one, as all our boats accept credit card!
Do my rooms really need a key to access them?
First things first: The crew aboard our ships is highly-reputable and trustworthy, having worked with us for various years now without any incident, ever. Secondly: there’s a logistical reason for opting to not have keys aboard your expedition vessel, and that has a lot to do with not wanting to trouble or encumber our guests with having to keep tabs on their room key at all times. Besides, be aware that the majority of the time you’ll be exploring the great outdoors with a great deal of gear already: camera, hat, sunglasses, snorkeling gear, binoculars, water bottle, and two or three more things. Would you really want to trouble yourself with a key?
It’s quite normal to see this as standard practice with vessels in Galapagos, especially when we all want to keep our things safe and secure. But please keep in mind what we mentioned above, and be aware that we monitor every hallway with surveillance cameras 24/7. Also, all cabins are equipped with a small safety-deposit box. Also, while inside your cabin, you can always still lock it from the inside.
Will my vessel have a First-Aid Kit?
This might only be necessary if you think you’ll encounter trivial scrapes or bumps. But in the case of our expedition vessels, we don’t take any chances. That’s why we not only have our Naturalist Guides carry a first aid kit but also have an onboard 24/7 Medical Officer that can help you with any physical needs that you might encounter during your stay at this once in a lifetime destination!
Note: If you carry personal medicine (i.e. an EpiPen, rash/allergy medication, etc.) or something of personal use, then please be sure to bring it along with you.
Will I really need laundry services on a Galapagos cruise?
Most laundry requests are usually related to over packing. That’s why it’s always important to pack smart and bring only what you’ll need when you come to Galapagos! In Galapagos, we always recommend packing extra shorts rather than bringing an excess of long pants! For more information on what to bring, have a look at our handy Galapagos packing list.
Will I have Cable & Satellite TV on a Galapagos cruise?
No matter where you go, your cable and satellite system at home will always have a better selection of channels. Thus, why would you need TV in an incredibly remote and foreign destination like Galapagos, were signal is often pretty poor? If you’re really in need of getting in touch with the world, then know that we offer (intermittent, low-bandwidth) internet service onboard our vessels. This will give you access to news, sports scores, social media, etc. and will connect you with the world quite easily. Don’t worry! You’ll get to catch up with Sheldon’s “Big Bang Theory” and all that jazz once you get back home.
How often will I need Room Service aboard my vessel?
Sure enough, while some boats offer this as a core component of their services, keep in mind that we will most definitely assist you in the event that you become ill, with any and all meals delivered directly to your cabin if need be. Fillers like butler services, maids and/or 24/7 room service are just keeping you away from socializing with other explorers. Don’t forget that vessels in Galapagos that do offer these services do so either because their social areas are too few or too small. This makes for 8 of many considerable overrated features of a Galapagos cruise!
With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia. He is now devoted to writing about all things related to travel in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.