Ecoventura is an Ecuadorian company that offers guided expeditionary tours of the Galapagos Islands since 1990. Known for their ecological credentials and emphasis on environmental sustainability, Ecoventura has partnered with WWF to establish the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund and has also sponsored many island initiatives to train and employ locals. They are proud of being Ecuador’s first carbon-neutral company.
I cruised on the MV Letty, a 20-guest expeditionary yacht outfitted with ten superior cabins. All cabins have air conditioning and though interiors are compact, they are quite comfortable. The yacht is piloted and serviced by an 11-member crew that includes the captain of the ship.
Designed for active individuals wanting to explore the Galapagos, the itinerary includes on-shore guided nature walks, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling and shoreline dinghy expeditions of various islands.
You won’t need to bring your own equipment either unless you want to, as adventure gear is provided on a complimentary basis while onboard the cruise. Loaner gear includes full wet suits, masks, fins, snorkels and beach towels. Paddle boards and kayaks are also complimentary, with kayaks coming in both a double and single version.
Itinerary landings are carefully coordinated with the Galapagos Marine Reserve as well as the other Ecoventura sister ship Eric. Ecoventura also has two luxury yachts, the Origin and Theory, newer ships boasting bigger cabins, but where the program, food, and itinerary are essentially the same. For dedicated divers, there is the 16-passenger luxury dive live-aboard, MV Galapagos Sky. Essentially, you choose your price point and level of luxury.
Expedition itineraries are generally a week for 7-nights, but the option is available to choose a combination of itinerary A & B for a comprehensive 14-night Galapagos tour. (Check Ecoventura website for details). Departures are from San Cristobal Island every Sunday.
Letty has 4 decks, with cabins on decks one and three. Elegant teak is used throughout the yacht, imparting a nice “touch of class.” Cabins sleep two while two of the cabins are configured for 3. The lounge and teak dining room are both located on deck 2, along with a pay bar. (Wine, local beer and soft drinks are included with the evening meal). A sundeck is available on the top deck (deck 4) and has both sun and shade areas with lounge chairs and cushioned benches.
All meals are included, expertly-prepared by an onboard chef with locally-sourced fresh provisions and products. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, while dinner generally consists of an appetizer, soup, choice of two entrees and a dessert with coffee or tea. Vegetarian meals are available but must be communicated prior to the cruise.
Meals are nutritious and wholesome but remain rather simple in preparation and presentation due to the small size of the ship. Expect classic Ecuadorian and international dishes, with complimentary house wine and local beer included during dinner. Special dinners feature Mediterranean night, Ecuadorian night and even sushi. A fully-stocked bar offers premium brands for purchase.
Each day generally includes a Zodiac ride to an island where an onboard naturalist guide accompanies the group and curates while on the island. Two onboard guides give a ratio of no more than 10 guests per guide, ensuring a sense of privacy and pristine environment for the group. (Most other cruises strive for a 1:16 ratio).
Because the ship is part of an overall initiative to be eco-friendly and sustainable, all paper waste materials are deposited in a provided trash can and emptied twice a day. The ensuite bathrooms are stocked with biodegradable bath products as well. Housekeeping makes the beds daily and changes out towels as needed.
Demographics tend to run in the Millennial age range because of onboard daily activities that include snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and dinghy tours. On my particular cruise, there was a family from Trinidad with their three adult children ranging from 18-23, two recently-married twenty-something couples who were taking delayed honeymoons, an aunt with her 18-year old niece and two mature women from United Kingdom.
Ecoventura offers adult-only departures as well as family departures available during school holiday. The family expeditionary cruises include age-appropriate activities for children 7-17.
This expeditionary cruise represents one of the best “values” for those choosing to cruise the Galapagos Islands. It’s also nice to know that you are supporting the Ecuadorian economy because the fleet is owned by an Ecuadorian family.