The Galapagos Sea Star from Latin Trails was a fine ship before its recent renovations: in the World Travel Awards it scored as “South America’s Leading Boutique Cruise.” They took things up a notch recently though and now this vessel from one of the area’s most respected companies is ready to take on passengers looking for some extra perks.
Between August and October the 16-person yacht was in dry dock and 70 people went to work on upgrades. The company used this opportunity to change out most of the decorations, but other changes were more structural. Each of the main deck cabins now has a balcony, so you can experience the views and sea air of the Galapagos environment without having to get fully dressed and go outside in the public areas. You can have your morning coffee, looking at the light change over the day’s island, while you feel the breeze on your face and hear the seabirds squawking. Out on the open sea, you may even see a whale.
The communal living room also got a revamp, as well as the sun deck and Upper Deck lounge. The sun deck now has two Jacuzzis for lounging, one of them shaded. There’s plenty of snorkeling equipment on board and kayaks to use for exploring. The main lounge is loaded with books, videos, and games.
The Advantages of a Small Ship in the Galapagos
As we’ve written on here before, there are some 130 ships plying the waters of the Galapagos and the ship you pick will have the greatest impact on your trip. After all, the itineraries in this fragile ecosystem are tightly regulated, so once you step off the boat onto land, what you see isn’t going to differ a whole lot. You’ll spend a lot of time on your Galapagos cruise moving between the islands, sleeping, and eating, however, so it can be worth it to pay more to get the highest level of comfort and service.
As someone who has been on two Galapagos cruises, my main advice is to go with something small and intimate. Sure, the bigger ships may have more physical amenities to share, but size has some serious disadvantages in the Galapagos. You can only head to shore in small groups, so if there are more than two Zodiac boat loads, you’ll do a lot of waiting around. Also, the larger ships can’t get into some bays to anchor, so you’re stuck well off the shore and won’t get a close-up morning view.
It’s also kind of nice to really get to know your shipmates. With 16 people in 8 cabins, you can really remember everyone’s name. The crew can too, so it’s a more personal experience than you get on a ship holding several times that number.
In general, you can expect spacious cabins though. On the Galapagos Sea Star, for instance, cabin sizes range from 270 square feet (25 square meters) to 377 square feet (35 meters) in the Star Suite pictured above. That has a large bathroom as well with a double vanity.
Rates on the Sea Star Journey in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador range from $5,800 to $7,000 per person for a six-day cruise, including activities, local transfers, meals, and non-alcoholic drinks. 10-day tours range from $9,850 to $11,800. Contact your travel agent for a booking or get more information at the company website, where they also have a lot of useful information about the islands.
See more on our site about luxury travel in Ecuador.