Silversea Cruises’ expedition division operates the 100-passenger Silver Galapagos year-round in — where else? — the volcanic, wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands located about 600 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Rather than a typical cruise, this experience is all about the destination and its fascinating wildlife, much of it only found here. Silver Galapagos is an all-inclusive expedition ship with touches of luxury — butlers and bubbly — letting travelers relax in comfort after a day of sometimes arduous exploration.
What We Love
The Guides: Experienced, informative onboard guides lead the way on daily excursions, pointing out sea lions, blue-footed boobies, elusive short-eared owls, prehistoric-looking iguanas, and great frigate birds with their ballooning red chests.
The Wildlife: Creatures in the Galapagos are so protected that they are fearless and don't fly or run away from human visitors.
Best Known For
All-Inclusive Pampering: Silversea is all about luxury, so virtually everything’s included. The Galapagos package — which includes air, a pre-cruise hotel stay in Quito, transfers, tours and onboard amenities — makes getting to these remote islands a breeze.
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Who It's Best For
Active Adults: Expedition cruising is great for adults of all ages who are healthy and active enough to get on and off Zodiac motorized rafts several times a day. The ship's tours include hikes — some require walking on boulders or up narrow, rocky paths — as well as kayak excursions, snorkeling in wet suits, and beach time.
Families With Teens: Teenagers fascinated by wildlife will love the Galapagos, but they need to be able to entertain themselves since there are no special programs for them.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's An Expedition: Yes, this is a Silversea product, but it’s also an expedition and necessarily different from the line’s traditional luxury cruises. Silver Galapagos must meet very stringent regulations to operate in this protected area — some products, such as meats, berries, toiletries and certain brands of premium liquors, simply cannot be brought in from the outside — which means many Ecuadoran products are used onboard. The crew is virtually all Ecuadoran and sometimes challenged by English, but very charming and eager to learn.
Theresa Norton Masek is a Chicago-based contributor to ShermansCruise and a longtime cruise writer.