Over the past few weeks, we’ve written about cruise lines that visit Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Though the area has opened up to more modes of mainstream travel, the Galapagos is still mysterious for some. Over the next few weeks I will break down Galapagos itineraries by cruise line. Before reading about the itineraries, you may find it useful to familiarize yourself with the region by visiting our Galapagos page.
Since Tauck is best known as a tour and river cruise company, some of you may not have heard of Tauck’s small ship ocean cruises. If you want to familiarize yourself with Tauck’s small-ship ocean cruises, you can do so here. Tauck offers four itineraries in the Galapagos. Three of these are regular sailings, and one is a Tauck Bridges sailing.
Because one of the itineraries is a Bridges sailing I just want to briefly cover what Tauck Bridges is. Tauck Bridges Itineraries are a multigenerational product geared specifically toward families. Because these sailings are geared towards families with children, the departures take place over the summer months, with occasional Christmas sailings.
These itineraries differ from others offered by Tauck, as Tour Directors are chosen specifically for these trips. These directors will be more active and, of course, were chosen because they enhance the journey for the children.
There is also a Family Host on each Bridges sailing that helps with activities onboard to make sure that the children are entertained. Because the ships are small and don’t offer many public spaces onboard, having these hosts onboard is an added bonus for helping keep young travelers entertained.
When speaking with Tauck’s Senior Vice President of river and small ship cruising, Katharine Bonner, about the programs Bonner stated, “The sweet spot for Bridges overall is between 10 and 14.” Tauck does allow children above the age of five onboard, but Bonner states that it is recommend children be over the age of eight.
As I mentioned previously, Tauck offers four itineraries in the Galapagos, three regular tours and one Bridges tour. These itineraries range from eight to 16 days, with the Bridges tour being the shortest of the four.
Galapagos: Wildlife Wonderland – March-April, June-August, And December
This eight-day itinerary is part of Tauck’s Bridges program. Since this sailing is geared toward families, the sailing dates correspond with most school breaks.
On day one of the tour, guests will fly into Quito where they will be taken to the Swissotel Quito. After spending the night in a hotel, guests will spend a day exploring Quito where they will learn about geography, visit a museum, eat brunch near a volcanic crater, explore Colonial Quito, and entertainment and a welcome dinner at the hotel.
On day three of the trip, guests will embark on their ship, Santa Cruz II, on Santa Cruz Island. Guests will take a guided hike where they will look for various wildlife. Day four of the tour will take guests to Santiago Island. Guests will observe wildlife by boat, which they will follow with snorkeling. Guests will visit Rabida Island and Bartolomé Island on day five of their journey. On the islands they will see sea lions, sea turtles, and penguins by boat, and take a hike.
On day six of the tour, guests will visit Genovesa Island where they will climb up Prince Philip’s steps and hike across the island. Aboard the ship, guest will attend the Captain’s farewell dinner.
Guests will disembark Santa Cruz II on Santa Cruz Island day seven of the tour. Before flying to Guayaquil, passengers will have the opportunity to visit a tortoise reserve. Once guest arrive in Guayaquil, they will be transported to the Wyndham Guayaquil where there will be a farewell pool party as the journey comes to an end.
On the final day of the tour, guests will be transported to the airport for return flights home.
Peru And The Galapagos Islands – March-November
This 15-day tour starts in Lima and ends in Guayaquil.
Upon arriving in Lima, guests will be transported from the airport to Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel where they will spend the night.
On day two of the tour guests will be taken on a tour of Lima where they will visit museums, an art deco mansion, and more before going to a cocktail reception and dinner at the Larco Herrera Museum.
On day three, guests will fly from Lima to Cusco where they will visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas. They will spend the night at a hotel before moving on towards Machu Picchu the following day. On day four, guests will explore Machu Picchu and stay the night for another day of exploration on day five.
Guests will travel back to Cusco on day six of the tour where they will have a choice between two excursions – venturing to the highlands, or touring southern Cusco. After a day of touring guests will head back to the hotel before making their way to Guayaquil on day seven.
After overnighting in Guayaquil, guests will be flown to San Cristóbal where they will board Isabela II. On days nine through 13 of the tour, guests will sail the Galapagos, visiting Genovesa Island, Santiago Island, Isabela Island, Fernandina Island, Urbina Bay, Rabida Island, and Santa Cruz Island.
Passengers will disembark the ship on day 14 of the tour in Baltra and fly back to Guayaquil. After an overnight in Guayaquil, guests will be transferred to the airport for flights home.
Hidden Galapagos & Peru – March-June and September-November
This 16-day itinerary is Tauck’s longest Galapagos tour. Like the previous itinerary, this tour starts in Lima and ends in Guayaquil. The Hidden Galapagos & Peru Itinerary share the same schedule until day seven of the tour, so for the first six days, reference the previous itinerary.
On day eight of the trip guests will be flown from Guayaquil to Baltra where they will board Silver Galapagos. After boarding, the ship will head to Daphne Major where guests will be able to observe wildlife from the ship, as only scientists are allowed on the island.
Days nine through 14 of the tour will take guests to Genovesa Island, Santiago Island, Rabida Island, Eden Island, San Cristóbal Island, Española Island, and Santa Cruz.
On day 15 of the tour guests will disembark in Baltra and fly to Guayaquil where they will overnight before returning home.
Cruising The Galapagos Islands – January-February, July-August, November-December
Similar to Tauck’s Bridges itinerary, this nine-day tour is mostly a cruise and does not include as much land travel as the previous two itineraries.
Guests will fly into Guayaquil where they will start their journey. After overnighting in a hotel, guests will fly to San Cristóbal to board Isabela II. After boarding the ship, guests will head back out to explore Puerto Baquerizo.
On day three of the tour, guests will visit Genovesa Island where they will either explore the island by boat, or by foot. On day four, guests will be taken to Santiago Island to visit Buccaneers’ Cove. Later in the day, passengers will venture to Puerto Egas. Day five will include trips to Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
Guests will travel to Urbina Bay on Isabela Island on day six of their travels, where they will take in various wildlife such as boobies, iguanas, and penguins. Day seven will allow travelers the opportunity to snorkel off Rabida Island, and view wildlife in Santa Cruz.
Passengers will disembark the ship on day eight, overnight in Guayaquil, and then return home.
All of Tauck’s ocean cruises are operated on chartered ships. This means that your ship may not be made up entirely of Tauck passengers. However, there will be one Tauck Director for every 40 Tauck guests, and all shore excursions will be private.
Tauck charters three ships for Galapagos sailings: Santa Cruz II, Isabela II, and Silver Galapagos.
Isabela II carries 40 passengers, and has three decks. All of her staterooms are outside staterooms featuring private bathrooms and showers. The public spaces on the ship include a library and a lounge, the lounge also houses a bar.
Santa Cruz II features five decks and carries 90 passengers. This ship hosts Tauck’s Bridges sailings and features triple occupancy staterooms, making it an ideal small ship for families.
Tauck also uses Silversea’s Silver Galapagos for its sailings. Read more about Silver Galapagos.