9 Things to Know about Haugen Cruises – Galapagos Islands

After days spent trawling the internet for a suitable cruise company to travel in the Galapagos,  I settled on Athala II at Haugen Cruises.  It met many of my pre-ordained criteria for a cruise and we did have a fantastic time traveling and exploring the Galapagos.  However, as many  travellers will know, not all details relevant to the enjoyment of your trip are found on the company website.

Galapagos Islands  Ecuador

Great crew aboard the Athala II

Here are nine of the discoveries we made, while aboard our Cruise, that may be useful for you to know in advance, if you wish to take this trip.

While these notes are relevant to our experience on the Haugan cruise ship, they may be equally as relevant regardless of which company you visit the Galapagos with.

  1. If your cruise is rated luxury, be aware that this may depend on your version of what luxury means. You may or may not agree.
  1. There is only one naturalist guide on the Cruise which means when you go out on panga trips (two pangas with eight guests on each boat) you may be in the boat without the guide – and the guide is vital to understanding and fully appreciating your surroundings.
  1. Whilst there are two advertised prices for two different types of cabin, there is actually no choice and you are allocated a cabin on arrival.
  1. The food on board the Cruise is more mediocre than extraordinary. Sure, it’s safe to eat, and easy enough to get down, but don’t expect an a la carte dining experience.

Galapagos Islands  Ecuador

  1. Don’t take everything you are told for granted. While the guides do have a high level of knowledge regarding the Galapagos, if they don’t know the answer to your questions, they are more likely to fluff a reply than admit their ignorance of the matter. You may notice the incorrect information presented to you, or it may go over your head. However, if you seriously have an interest in a particular subject, research it yourself!
  1. It is vital to pack both insect repellant and sea sickness repellant. While the Cruise site states that the seas around the Galapagos are considered relatively calm, on our trip almost every guest (not me though!) was affected by sea sickness and so medication for this is important. You don’t want to have your exciting and costly trip affected by a queasiness you can’t get rid of. Likewise, insect repellant is a must have to ensure your big trip isn’t ruined by the small things (literally!).
  1. Enquire in advance or ask if the Captain is prepared to go off course if you spot whales or other ocean wildlife. Ours wasn’t willing to which was a shame. Make sure they are willing to if this is especially important to you. You don’t want to experience the ‘so close, and yet so far’ feeling.
  1. On board our cruise, you were not allowed or not able to lock your own cabin. This was partly due to safety reasons and also partly for convenience for the cabin boy. While no one on our Cruise had any issues with theft, if you are concerned about security, it is best to know in advance!
  1. Be aware of the absolute expectation to TIP staff. While most companies will advise that tipping the guide and the crew is customary, they will often advise that the amount is at your discretion. However, near the end of our trip we were advised that the expected tip was about $600 USD per couple for 8 days. And of course this is on top of the cruise price already paid.
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The beautiful morning view from our cabin on the Athala

This post may encourage you to think that there were many issues we faced on the trip that made it an unhappy experience. I must stress how this was not the case: this trip was absolutely incredible and one of the best experiences of my life.
For those who are yet to make this once in a lifetime trip, it’s much better to be prepared with as much information as possible so that you can fully participate in all the glory of the Galapagos.


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What was your Cruise Experience in the Galapagos like?


5 Comments on “9 Things to Know about Haugen Cruises – Galapagos Islands

  1. Wow! Sounds like you picked the wrong company. I sailed the Galapagos last December with Ecoventura and they were an absolutely incredible company. Small ships with only 10 rooms, but 2 naturalists, so everyone was covered. Gourmet food (really!) and even snacks each time we returned from an outing. And our naturalists were absolute seasoned experts (there are different levels of naturalist training and some companies skimp by hiring the lesser educated), so they were well worth the $100 per person we were expected to tip for our 8 day cruise – $600 is just absolutely ridiculous. We also tipped a smaller amount for the other crew, all of whom were super attentive.

  2. Thanks so much for your comments Barbara, don’t get me wrong the trip was fabulous and the naturalist was also very knowledgeable, but only 1 of them. For the designated ‘luxury’ grade and price paid I think we could have done way better. Just other ‘little things’ like not being able to go off course when we spotted whales was disappointing. The expected tip right at the end was just a bit of a damper for all on board. We made great friends who we keep in contact with everyone so that’s a bonus. For most people its a trip of a lifetime and making a great choice is paramount so I want others to see what to look out for.

  3. Hey! Great write up. I think it’s nice for people researching their trip to have this perspecive. You’re absolutely right – not everything is laid out on the website, so your honest view is really helpful.

    We just recently got back from a trip to the Galapagos and spent 4 nights / 5 days on a 14 passenger catamaran. I’m giving a big “BOO!” to your #7, because that’s such a shame. 🙁 We were lucky to spot a huge pod of dolphins and whales that we followed for a bit. I’m also sorry to hear your experience was not the dream. But I hope you’re still happy that you went and have fond memories of the good parts! Like sea lions. Aren’t they the cutest?

    You can read about our journey here > http://wp.me/p3UGiL-1oi < and hopefully we can add to the aid in informing travelers!
    Shannon recently posted…ANCHORS AWEIGH! Cruising the Galapagos Islands Aboard the NemoMy Profile

    • Also… just one last thing I forgot to mention. I share a “ditto” on the tips. We used our discretion when leaving a tip for the crew and guide, but it’s pretty ridiculous how such an extraordinary sum is expected – as you said – ON TOP of the already heavy price for the boat. Good to be aware of, but also for people considering such a trip, to know that it’s a suggestion but if you’re unhappy with how things went to not feel pressured. Thanks again for sharing!
      Shannon recently posted…ANCHORS AWEIGH! Cruising the Galapagos Islands Aboard the NemoMy Profile

    • Hey Shannon, Thanks for your views and experience, I’m glad you enjoyed your time, the Galapagos is really like no other place on earth. Don’t get me wrong we loved our experience but felt for the price there were things for others to be aware of. More recently we visited the Puerto Lopez on the Ecuadorian Coast and enjoyed 2 wonderful days of Whale Watching which was out of this world and only $25 for a 3 hour trip. Then there was the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’ – Isla de La Plata where we reacquainted ourselves with the boobies and the frigate birds – really brought back the lovely Galapagos memories.

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