When it comes to traveling from one interesting place to another on a small ship (as in not a giant cruise ship), there’s one company that’s at the top of the list: AdventureSmith Explorations. The company is active on several continents. In Latin America, however, it is best known for its trips around the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. The company also runs trips to Antarctica, along the Amazon River region, and along the coast of several countries in Central America.
I caught up with founder Todd Smith to talk about why our readers would be better off booking their next vacation with them and what to keep in mind when sorting through the myriad options available.
Luxury Latin America: Let’s say I want to book a one-week trip in the Galapagos, a major adventure I’ve had on my bucket list for ages. Why shouldn’t I just spend a few hours surfing around the web to find a good deal and book it?
Todd Smith: Because it’s really easy to get overwhelmed the first hour you start doing that and it’s only going to get worse as you dig deeper! There’s no shortage of information, but it’s hard to sift through all that information and make sense of it. If you use an agency like us to help you, it’s not like you’re going to pay more for your trip, but we can help you narrow down the options to fit your situation and your budget.
LLA: How are you able to provide better information than what people can find on their own?
Todd: We’ve actually been on the ships, first of all. We know the pluses and minuses of each one: what the cabins are like, what the lounges are like, who would be happy on that boat and who wouldn’t. If you deal direct with a company that only knows their ships, they’re not going to really understand what the competition is like because they only know their own product well. We know which ships are best for specific groups or budgets. We have booked clients into more than 25 different ships we have on offer and have gotten the feedback afterwards. We’re unbiased: we just want you to have the trip of a lifetime and be happy.
LLA: What’s the ideal amount of time to spend in the Galapagos and when should I go?
Todd: More is better almost anywhere of course, but a seven-day cruise is ideal for the majority of people. You don’t miss out on anything with that amount of time, you get a broad sampling. We’ve got a section on the site on how to choose your cruise there and a Galapagos by month rundown of what to expect weather-wise.
LLA: What if I also want to add on some time in Cuenca or a whole Peru experience after my cruise?
Todd: We’re a full-service agency, so you can come to us and say, “Here’s what I’d like to do, here’s how long I have, and here’s my budget.” We will work with you to put the pieces together and make sure you get the most out of that time and budget. We also do extensive prep work up front to be sure you won’t get any negative surprises.
LLA: There are obviously far fewer small ship cruises in Central America, but do you see that picking up in the future?
Todd: We’ve been waiting for a very long time for things to blossom in this region and we’re finally getting there. Even as the agency with the largest selection we only have a few ships to book people into now, but there are more on the horizon that we’re very excited about. Most of our current trips combine Panama and Costa Rica, but there’s enough to explore in Costa Rica that it would be easy to spend the whole time there and really have an adventure-packed trip.
LLA: Are most travelers on the water the whole time in that region or do they spend time ashore as well?
Todd: We usually do both, but we take the same philosophy on land as we do with our carefully curated cruises. We book clients into lodges that will provide access to special areas, unique locations with terrific nature guides. Again, we want it to be an unforgettable experience, one that’s designed around what will get you and your companions excited.
See more details at the AdventureSmith Explorations website here.