Frequently Asked Questions

Where will I go on a Galapagos Islands cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Galapagos Islands cruises generally visit several of the islands, including San Cristobal, Espanola, Santa Cruz and Santiago.

How long does it take to get there?
You'll need to fly to Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador for your Galapagos Islands cruise, which are accessible via a ten-hour flight from New York City.

When is the best time to take a Galapagos Islands cruise?
Galapagos Islands cruises are available year-round.

How long do Galapagos Islands cruises last?
These trips typically last seven to 15 nights.

Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all international visitors.

Is English spoken?
English is not widespread but most resorts, shops and restaurants connected to the tourist trade will have some English-speaking staff.

What is the time difference?
The Galapagos Islands are two hours behind Eastern Standard Time.

What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
The currency in the Galapagos Islands is the US dollar. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.

Is tipping a common practice?
Sometimes, service is included in restaurant bills. If not, a tip of 10% is customary on restaurant bills. Taxi drivers generally receive 10% and other service staff, such as maids and porters, generally receive $.50 to $3.

What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions and sturdy walking shoes for guided land excursions. Since the Galapagos Islands are close to the Equator, you'll definitely want to wear a hat whenever possible, and plenty of sunscreen. Suitable nighttime attire varies by ship from casual wear to slacks and nice dresses.

What should I pack?
Many excursions in the Galapagos Islands involve sightseeing with a minimal to moderate amount of walking, although some tours may include extensive walking or hiking. Think about the kinds of activities you will want to try and pack accordingly. Protective hats, good walking shoes and windbreakers are advisable no matter when you travel. Also, remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag you can keep with you as needed.

Is the water safe to drink?
Bottled water is recommended.

What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Check with your health care provider prior to travel.

What types of electrical outlets are used?
Cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters.

How do I make a telephone call from the Galapagos Islands?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.

What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy?
The Galapagos Islands offers a wide variety of souvenirs, such as t-shirts, postcards, keychains, maps, books, posters, jewelry and sarongs. T-shirts are the most popular items for tourists, and are available on most street corners. Buy them from The Foundation Darwin, and part of the proceeds goes toward research.

How do I get around?
The majority of the Galapagos Islands are limited to tour groups with a guide. Because Santa Cruz, San Cristobol, Floreana and Isabela have small communities, travelers have a little more freedom. In Santa Cruz and Isabela, bikes can be rented and there are some hiking trails open to visitors without guides.

What can I do there?
There is plenty to see and experience in the Galapagos Islands. Try scuba diving, and you might see reef fish, sting rays, golden rays, eagle rays, invertebrates, morays, garden eels, turtles, marine iguanas, white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, whale sharks, whales and pelagic fish. Visit Gardener Bay, an excellent swimming and snorkeling site. Learn about Charles Darwin's studies at the Charles Darwin Station. See the wildlife that makes its home on the islands, like tortoises, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins and Darwin finches.

Do you have any photography tips for travelers to the Galapagos Islands?
There's plenty of natural beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is recommended). If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. Make sure photography is permitted before shooting in museums, churches and cathedrals; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.    

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