Cruise itineraries move to 14 night loops as of Feb 2012

As of the 1st of February 2012, all cruise ships in Galapagos will have to had to move to the new 14 night itineraries as per new regulations of the Galapagos National Park Service.  Until then, the typical cruise ship would repeat its itinerary on a weekly basis - looping back to the same visitor sites every 7 days.   The 14 night itinerary will force the 75 or so cruise ships operating in Galapagos waters to spread out more thinly amongst the 70 terrestrial and 75 marine official visitor sites in the islands.  This will result in less wear and tear on each site, and reduced visitor congestion.  Gone will be the days, we hope, where you risked sharing your intimate wildlife encounters with 50 or more people on a particular visitor site.

Ship owners now have the option of offering cruises of varying lengths.  Whereas before, the 7 night itineraries were offered as either a full 7 night, or a choice between the rather short 3 or 4 nights, they can now offer 4, 6, 8, 11 and 14 night trips, giving clients the chance to make the best of their available holiday time.  CNH Tours strongly recommends taking at least a 5 night trip - but only if you are very hard pressed for time of budget.   The overhead for a Galapagos trip is already very high - just getting yourself to the islands is costly in time and money - so you might as well go for broke and make the best out of it while there.   The truly adventurous can now do a complete 14 night itinerary, giving them the chance to see Galapagos in a way that would make even Charles Darwin green with envy!

Of course, some tour companies have complained - as this forces them to change advertising materials, and re-think how they can sell their trips.   But in the end, this is good for Galapagos, and good for sustainable tourism.

CNH Tours has been chartering the Samba for  its "Active Galapagos" trips in the past few years.  We are proud to note that the Samba owners were among the first to voluntarily adopt the new 14 night itinerary in recognition of the positive implications for the visitor experience.  It has been doing so since early 2011, well ahead of the deadline.   In doing so, the Samba was able to design what it considers are idealy itineraries - whereas the latecomers in this process will have had less say.   The Samba now offers a choice between 2 distinct 7 night itineraries.   Of course, some are hard pressed to choose between one or another - leading to some "choice anxiety" - but everyone should rest assured that both choices offer excellent wildlife viewing, landscape admiring, and snorkeling opportunities.

PS:  Tour companies typically measure a cruise length in days.   This leads to confusing situation whereby a 1 week itinerary is called an 8 day cruise, and not a 14 day cruise.   One embarks on a Sunday, and disembarks on the following Sunday - so the Sundays are counted twice, even though you spend very little time on board on your last Sunday, and only get going in the early afternoon on your first Sunday.  This can be leading - hence our propensity to consider a one week tour as a 7 night tour.  You'll get 6 full cruise days, and fractions of 2 other days.