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Silver Galapagos Review

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Why Choose Silver Galapagos?

  • Pro: All-inclusive luxury vessel, stellar excursions, fine cuisine, attentive crew
  • Con: Language barrier sometimes a service obstacle
  • Bottom Line: Best way to explore Galapagos in style

Silver Galapagos Overview

By Janice Wald Henderson, Cruise Critic contributor
Editor Rating

Built in Italy for Renaissance Cruises in 1990, the vessel was bought by Conodros Cruises and renamed Galapagos Explorer II. Silversea launched it as the 100-passenger Silver Galapagos in 2013.

As an expedition vessel, the 100-passenger Silver Galapagos can't compare to the bigger, more luxurious ships in the Silversea fleet and to their attentive service. But it's far fancier than its Galapagos competitors.

The ship underwent a partial refurbishment in 2013, and then a major redo in 2014, resulting in upgraded accommodations and public areas better suited for its new luxury owners. Silver Galapagos now provides all-suite accommodations, with butlers for all passengers. Suites were completely remodeled, with new beige- and blue-accented furnishings, carpeting, bedding, flat-screen televisions and marble-accented baths. A fitness center, massage room, beauty salon, outdoor Jacuzzi and the alfresco Grill restaurant were added. The Explorer Lounge was totally refurbished with plush seating, and corridors were brightened and decorated with Galapagos wildlife photos.

Cruise fares are all-inclusive. All shore excursions and activities; onboard wine, beer and spirits; gratuities (even for spa and bar); and Wi-Fi are included in the up-front price. So, too, are round-trip economy air between Ecuador and Galapagos Island, a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay with breakfast in Quito and a city tour, a day room in Guayaquil for late flight departures and all transfers. Only extra fees would be laundry, spa and (hopefully not) medical.

Expeditions are seamlessly orchestrated. Mornings and afternoons are activity oriented, while evenings bring cocktails and briefings. Active travelers snorkel, hike, kayak and take Zodiac and land tours. More sedentary passengers -- or those who want down time -- take in afternoon lectures, get massages, soak in the Jacuzzi or find a lounge chair to read or snooze. 

The majority of the crew must be Ecuadorian by law. Some members grasp English as a second language better than others, most evident when seeking service from butlers and servers. However, those who lack in understanding, compensate with heart. For example, when a passenger on our cruise overslept and missed the last Zodiac for a hike, the crew radioed a Zodiac operator, who returned to pick up the gentleman so he wouldn't miss out.

Safety and comfort are top priorities on Silver Galapagos. Besides the requisite lifeboat drill, expedition team members review life-saving actions, such as proper signaling for water rescues. Zodiac crew watch snorkelers, swimmers and kayakers intently. At nightly briefings, expedition team members show videos of upcoming hikes so passengers can best judge fitness required.

Silver Galapagos Fellow Passengers

Expedition ships generally draw more physically active, younger clientele than traditional cruise vessels, and Silver Galapagos is no exception. Passengers are typically couples, ranging from late 30s to early 70s. Expect an enthusiastic, outgoing, well-traveled group. Many are new to expedition-style cruising and even first time cruisers. Most are North American with a few Australians, plus English-speaking Central and South Americans and Europeans. Passengers are social, eager to share wildlife sightings and swap travel tips and stories.

Silver Galapagos Dress Code

Daytime clothing is about protection from the equatorial sun and excursion safety; hats, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, non-slip water shoes for wet landings, hiking or tennis shoes for dry landings. (Some passengers buck the trend and wear T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.)

Eveningwear is casual, anything but jeans or shorts in The Restaurant. Women don sundresses, or blouses and pants with minimal jewelry. Men wear polo shirts and slacks. Sports jackets are rare. Diners can wear shorts at the Grill.

Silver Galapagos Gratuity

Since Silver Galapagos is all-inclusive, gratuities are not requested or expected (even for spa and bar service). However, some passengers do tip their butlers and servers.

The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Next: Silver Galapagos Cabins
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Silver Galapagos Member Reviews

I believe other reviewers miss the point in comparing their experience on Silver Galapagos with other cruises. The Galapagos is a closed, tightly regulated market; only ships exclusively dedicated to the Galapagos can operate there. So the ... Read more
First of all this was an "Expedition" cruise on a 100 passenger ship, the Silversea Galapagos. So I understand that the cruise can't be like what you would experience on a medium-to-large sized all-inclusive cruise ship. Silversea ... Read more
A cruise of two halves.... cruisingbabyboomer
This is a cruise with two very contrasting levels of experience. Firstly (on the plus side) the organisation of the wildlife watching daily tours is excellent, led by a first rate team of guides / naturalists who keep you fully informed and ... Read more
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Silver Galapagos Ratings

Editor Rating 4.0 Member Rating
Public Rooms
Spa & Fitness
Family & Children
Shore Excursions

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