A Galapagos Islands family cruise with younger kids, is it allowed/advisable?
Galapagos cruises are full of daily activities, you have at least two physical outings each day which can quickly use up a kid’s energy. You’ve got the general movement and rocking of the boat, not to mention the loading and unloading of the zodiac for shore excursions. The point is, that these cruises are expeditionary in nature and are designed to maximize time on the islands which can be a lot for young ones and their parents to take in.
The youngest passenger I have booked for a Galapagos cruise was a six month old baby. I was a little surprised that the yacht accepted such a young traveler. Not all Galapagos yachts allow babies and toddlers, with most allowing kids after the age of 6. The larger boats usually have more flexibility.
Essentially, children can travel to the Galapagos Islands and most boats will have the parents sign a waiver saying that they understand that they are responsible for their children’s at all times and they understand that however nice the crew they are not expected to perform the services of a nanny as they all have their jobs to do. There is a limit to the amount of passengers a boat can take on each tour. Most boats work with the 16 passengers per weekly tour, therefore there is not much discount on for taking younger passengers; with the norm being 10 to 15 % for kids 6-11 years old.
What is a Galapagos Cruise experience like with kids?
As a parent with a tot-in-tow you will certainly have to scale back some of your excursion participation throughout the cruise. This doesn’t mean you wont enjoy yourself though. You may find that you will lounge with some sealions on the beach while the others hike a trail. Or maybe you will skip an hour of snorkeling one day. The yacht crews are extremely professional, accommodating, and will make sure you and your kids will have a great time and not have any conflict with fellow passengers.
When I traveled with my 3 years old toddler to the Galapagos. She behaved reasonably well, I understood that she was not going to follow the same pace as the other grown up passengers so I would talk to the guide about exactly what we were doing, if we were going on a loop or if you were coming back the same way that we were starting the walk and how long the walk was. Normally the walks are not very long and there is plenty of time for wildlife photograph which makes us all go slow however the ground can be uneven and many times over volcanic rock. Besides, Galapagos is a heavily protected area so travelers can not really be out of the sight of the guides, you need to follow the rules, keep on the path, and your children too. On the downside she had motion sickness which made her docile when we were on the boat (but maybe that was kind of a good thing – sort of). The water can be quite cold as well. She would cry before being forced to get in, making me feel like a terrible mother until we have the cutest encounter with a sea lion that wanted to play with the floatation device my daughter was holding on to. I know she won’t remember it forever but for now she still does. I have a priceless video of the encounter as well. Eventually she adjusted enough and enjoyed lounging on the sundeck observing the birds and the shore as we approached.
Whats the right age to be able to remember and enjoy the Galapagos cruise?
On the subject of memories, it is said that you retain these experiences better after the age of five, and for long-term retention from the ages eight or nine. That being said, an eight year old is much more adept at longer physical activities, such as nature hikes and long snorkeling times and mostly follow rules easily enough. Plus there are very few places in the world where they will be able to actually see this type of tame wildlife up close, take excellent pictures, and probably not even care about the water being cold since this is the perfect age for discovery and adventure.
As for traveling with your older or even adult kids, its a blast! And will be an amazing adventure of a lifetime. I have been able to send many families around Ecuador, but I will always cherish the memory of the Badanes family. They had three children and two of them were already out of the house and the last one was starting university in September. It was quite a chore for mom to carve out and coordinate the dates that worked for everyone. They went for an active tour in Ecuador jungle, waterfalls, trekking, kayaking, horseback riding, hacienda stays, a day in the spa, and then the Galapagos Islands. The mother said it was the best vacation they have ever had, and it was made even more special because she knew they might not be able to all travel together again like that as life was tugging them each in a different direction. I often think about them and how they’re ideal experience is what I want all visitors to get from Ecuador, with a personal touch of course.
You can find more Ecuador family travel information here https://ecuadorunlimited.com/ecuador-family-vacation-7-things-to-consider/
and a lot of great information in our Travel Tips & FAQ sectionReferences: