LUXURY GALÁPAGOS CRUISE
Your Modern-Day Beagle
When Charles Darwin’s HMS Beagle first moored on the shores of the Galápagos, it was after a four-year voyage in cramped conditions and with sparing rations.
Scavenging what they could on their forays ashore, the crew of the Beagle dined on such exotic repasts as puma, iguana and giant tortoise.
Fortunately, no such discomfort or culinary travesty await visitors to the fascinating archipelago that inspired the concept of evolution, and exceptional luxury can be enjoyed on the calm waters of the Galápagos.
While a small collection of luxury accommodation is available on terra firma, it comes with one glaringly obvious disadvantage: it is quite distinctly and resolutely immovable. On a luxury Galápagos cruise, your horizons are forever changing.
No Fixed Abode
On any vacation, you are somewhat restricted by your location. It may well be a fantastic destination with plenty to explore, but you wake to the same view and grow to know precisely what lays beyond your door. Of course, with multiple chapters of a diverse itinerary, you get to experience a range of locations, but in doing so you have to pack your bags, board transportation, relocate and unpack once again, ad inifinitum. Despite invariably being more than worth the effort, and while we are on a role with Latin maxims, tempus fugit – time flies. All that packing, moving and settling again chips away at your limited schedule.
Considering these factors, in many ways a luxury Galápagos cruise is the very best of both worlds; your location changes around you, while you remain unpacked, relaxed and in the same luxury accommodation for your entire voyage.
Origin and Theory – ambiguously named after Darwin’s exploits – encapsulate this perspective impeccably, offering complete luxury and exclusive and variable access to some of the Galápagos’ most intriguing and remote destinations.
Your Luxury Galápagos Cruise
Life aboard the Origin and Theory, two identical sister ships that ply the tranquil waters of the archipelago, is as opulent and sumptuous as you might expect of a land-based luxury hotel. Private staterooms include twin or king bed options, a fully-appointed bathroom complete with rainfall shower, electronics at your disposal, tea and coffee facilities, and even gloriously fluffy towels, waffle bathrobes and a cabinet of high-quality biodegradable toiletries.
Perhaps not palatial, cabins are nonetheless wonderfully comfortable and more than one might ever wish for an explorative floating vacation. Poor Charles – he would weep if he could see the decadent accommodation options of a modern-day Beagle.
With just ten staterooms providing berth for approximately 20 guests, the Origin and Theory are wonderfully intimate. Your cabin is a private haven in itself, a rooftop bar, secluded sun loungers, large sun deck and open-air jacuzzi provide plenty of nooks into which you might retreat for some solitude under the sun. However, your fellow shipmates are likely to become your newfound friends, as is frequently the nature of profound moments shared with like-minded souls. Trips ashore are optional, but shared, as are snorkelling and SCUBA excursions and further activities. You won’t find cruise ship cabarets or guest mingles aboard the Origin and Theory, but the joy of sharing each day’s magical moments is frequently the catalyst for some highly enjoyable socialising.
As with much of your time and space aboard the vessels, dining areas too offer the option of communal tables or enjoying your meal more privately. Each guest is catered to according to their preferences, the 13-head staff adequately fulfilling the wishes of every passenger. While some may enthuse at the notion of sharing their voyage with new acquaintances, others may wish a little more reclusiveness of their journey, particularly true of honeymooners or those celebrating anniversaries.
The four expansive decks of the Origin and Theory provide all you could wish for. In the hull, the Finch deck, you will find a state-of-the-art gymnasium. Rising one level, the accommodation or Beagle deck contains all guest accommodations, a launch deck at the rear allowing for access to the ocean and tenders for trips to shore. Here, you will also find an intimate library where one might retire for a peaceful moment or discover an array of facts and information about the Galápagos and their inhabitants.
The Darwin deck is where meals take place, the spacious dining room sharing the level with the galley and cockpit, as well as a relaxed lounge area, perfect for taking pre-dinner drinks or finding a little peace throughout the day.
The open-air sundeck concludes the ships’ areas, providing a bar, ample seating and panoramic views across the ocean and islands. Such extensive choice of location eradicates any likelihood of cabin fever.
Beyond the Gunwales
With such luxury on board, there might be some reluctance to disembark on daily adventures, were it not that those explorations are filled with fascinating endemic wildlife, thrilling activities and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Even before setting foot on land, the sea holds plenty of appeal. Each ship provides kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for guest use, and taking a paddle across these crystal-clear waters will reveal an abundance of fish, turtles, marine iguanas, dolphins and seal lions.
The ocean is enticingly warm, particularly in the earlier months of the year, with summer water temperatures averaging 79 fahrenheit (26ºC). Even at its coldest, it remains a balmy 72 degrees (22ºC). Likewise, the climate is highly agreeable, highs of 86 fahrenheit (30ºC) from January through March giving way to lows of 68 (20ºC) in August and September, so aquatic exploits are invariably an option without enduring the cold. Snorkelling equipment, including fins and wetsuits, is provided for those wishing to explore below the surface, the colourful reef home to a spectacular array of creatures.
Once ashore, expert naturalist guides inform guests not only of the necessary conservation protocol, but also a swathe of intriguing information about each island, creature and plant you may witness.
A pair of itineraries offers the choice of destinations, adventures and creatures you wish to see. Though on both you will find a superb collection of birdlife and similar activities, you may choose to swim with sea lions and penguins rather than watch whales and dolphins breaching in the calm waters of the archipelago; or perhaps the spectacular volcanic formations of Fernandina island may be of more intrigue than the forested southern and central islands. The beauty is that on either, you will never have FOMO – the fear of missing out – such is the abundance of experiences in each itinerary.
With such an experiential trip, one would be foolish not to document it. While some guests might feel inspired, even encouraged, to keep a Darwinesque journal of their adventures, photography is as integral to the Galápagos as it is on any game drive or African safari. Not only do both Theory and Origin offer innumerable opportunities to capture the extraordinary, they also provide certified photography experts to help you enhance your imagery and correct your compositions. This allows you to impeccably document your days, while also instilling further intrigue, curiosity and enthusiasm for every moment of each day on your journey.
Frigatebirds, pelicans, land iguanas, the charming blue-footed boobies and iconic land tortoises all clamour for their moment in your viewfinder, while the imposing landscapes create a backdrop like nowhere else on the planet.
Animals First, Always
The uniqueness of the Galápagos and its justified position as a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site is not without its fragility. The endemic wildlife has evolved without significant predators. No foxes prowl the shore, no leopards lurk in the undergrowth; the hungry sea lions are the only apex carnivores, but of course, they are far from swift on land.
Due to this, nature is fearless. One can wander the beach with barely a bird taking flight or an iguana scuttling for cover. But the negative impact of humankind has been numerously and abundantly proven, and it remains imperative to preserve this unspoiled natural jewel. The crew of Origin and Theory uphold this principle impeccably, affording you the best experience, but never at the expense of nature.
These fastidious efforts continue onboard, with all cleaning products and toiletries used stringently eco-friendly and biodegradable, causing no harm to the oceanic environment. Likewise, the fleet has an ardent zero single-use plastic policy, and even the food is considerately selected.
Yet these admirable efforts are only superficial in the greater operation of a luxury Galápagos cruise, and the Origin and Theory have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their presence isn’t harmful. Water is naturally filtered before expulsion, preventing any harmful outfall, solar panels minimise the demand on the ships’ engines, and each voyage is carbon offset, with their eradication of fossil fuels as yet unviable.
Even beyond the vessels, a percentage of each booking is directly contributed to a number of important ecological and social programs through the Galápagos Biodiversity and Education for Sustainability Fund (GBES). This directly benefits programs of the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos National Park, with contributions to the Ecology Project International and Pack for a Purpose also benefiting the local community.
Luxury to the Last
As the sun sets on each extraordinary day and you return once more to your floating accommodations, the rugged coastline melts away into the twilight and indulgence beckons. A hot rainfall shower later, you will feel refreshed and reinvigorated, flicking curiously through the day’s library of images, regaling fellow guests with exciting moments and sharing your experiences long into the night.
A gourmet menu entices you from your recollection reverie, the galley’s world-class chefs creating an à la carte menu fit for the finest city restaurant.
As you slip between the luxuriously soft cotton sheets, your mind wanders once more through the day’s undescribable moments, and as you drift away, so too does your luxury Galápagos cruise, tracing the charts to bring you new horizons on the waking into each new day.
The Galápagos have a temperate climate all year round, fluctuating by just 8ºF, the cooler months being July to November. Lows for this time average 69ºF (21ºC) in both air and sea, and air highs 80ºF (26.5ºC). This is also the driest time of year. The warmer months of Feb-May are considered the best, particularly if you are keen to swim, but sporadic showers may interrupt daily activities. At this time, temperatures average between 73ºF (23ºC) and 87ºF (30ºC), with the ocean temperature a warm 79ºF (26ºC).
The ten staterooms aboard the Origin and Theory are all of a standard and equal design. However, three berths and adjoining rooms can be organised for family groups, and the option of king or twin beds is also available. While a luxury Galápagos cruise is an exceptional vacation for a vast array of travellers, it is less suitable for young children. However, the Galápagos are an incredible choice for couples, seniors and smaller families with children over the age of 12.
Exploring the Galápagos is entertainment enough, but each vessel has a collection of additional activities on offer. Take to the water by kayak or paddleboard, explore the underwater realms with a snorkel and mask or investigate the coastline aboard a Zodiac. On shore, you can gain expert photographic tips, take an array of hikes or simply pass your time watching the fascinating wildlife. A gym, library and plenty of social areas make life aboard equally entertaining.
10 double-berth cabins can be arranged as double or twin berth, with some adjoining rooms also providing connection, such as for a family group. Several of the rooms can also accommodate three, ideally suited to children.
Each room has a private, fully-appointed ensuite bathroom and many of the conventional facilities one might expect of a premium accommodation.
Galápagos Islands, disembarking San Cristobal
Contact our Travel Designers to discuss incorporating the Galápagos into your itinerary.