Sea Star Galapagos deck

If you’re booking a trip on a giant floating hotel, often you can wait until the last minute and still get a prime berth. With small ship cruises, however, you may be out of options if you don’t plan ahead. Many small ship cruises in places like the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon River region host 28 people or less. That’s a small enough number that a multi-generational family, a wedding party, or a tour company can book the whole vessel on their own.

Latin Trails is already taking bookings for its 2017 itineraries for those planning a big bucket list trip next year. With the U.S. economy continuing to improve (along with real estate and stock values), they’re seeing an uptick in business already compared to prior years.

On the first class Seaman Journey Cruise, you can go for as little as four days/three nights if you’re in a rush, or as long as 15 days/14 nights if you want the full Galapagos expedition experience. This itinerary below is one of the favorites, with a week-long 7 nights. You have to go that long to see the largest island, which takes some time to get around.

Galapagos itinerary 8 days

Regardless of itinerary, this stable catamaran hosts a maximum of 16 guests, so you’re assured plenty of attention from the crew and guide and will soon know all your shipmates by name. It hosts a bar, lounge and comfortable indoor dining room. Rates run roughly $3,000 to $13,500 per person depending on length of trip and cabin.

The newer and larger Sea Star ship is one of the newest and most luxurious ships cruising the Galapagos Islands. The shot at the very top of this story is of the deck with two whirlpool tubs, while this photo below is of a spacious suite with sectional sofa. You’ll feel like you’re in a luxe hotel room, with plenty of space to move around. The cabins are actually sized like a hotel room, at 25 square meters for the regular cabins and 35 square meters for a suite. They have large windows to take in the sights.

Sea Star Latin Trails

Sea Star cruises offer opportunities to go kayaking and when the adventure day is done, a fine dining restaurant and bar to relax in. Itinerary options are from 5 nights to 14, with a variety of islands in the mix. Rates start at $4,200 per person for the shortest itinerary, which includes all meals. If you’re a big spender with something special to celebrate, you can charter the whole ship and crew for your private group.

Latin Trails also runs a small ship cruise in the Amazon River region of Peru with their Cattleya river boat. On the big river and two tributaries, you can get a truly intimate jungle experience: this ship only has four cabins, with a maximum capacity of 8 adults. On a small ship like this, you can get to areas that jungle lodge guests can’t reach easily, with a better chance of spotting some of the 500  species  of  birds,  130  species  of  reptiles  and amphibians, and hundreds of mammals and primates in the region.

Cattleya Amazon ship

For more information on these journeys, see the Latin Trails site or contact them for more: reservations (at)