So you’ve decided that a cruise boat, rather than a hotel stay or island-hopping, is the best way to see a great variety of Galapagos wildlife with the minimum of fuss. Itineraries range from 4 to 15 days, visiting 4-15 islands (more or less!) and almost everything is included.
Now, whatever your budget range, there will be at least half a dozen options. Prices roughly correspond with boat size, because spacious cabins allow for queen/king beds, large sundecks allow for a jacuzzi, and it is preferable to have separate dining, bar and lounge areas.
The vast majority of boats can accommodate 16 passengers, though on most cruises the actual number on board is less. The standard of service provided by the crew, and especially the guide which leads tours on land, is universally high — but can vary markedly.
Something not usually considered is the top speed of a boat. Even a difference of 2 knots can make a noticeable difference in the time spent navigating an island’s coastline, or travelling from one island to another. In the latter case, this is open seafaring, usually at night.
Larger boats and catamarans ensure less motion on the open sea for those most vulnerable to sickness. However, more passengers tends to make the overall experience less intimate. Seas are a little rougher in August and September, and calmer from January to April.
Crucially, smaller boats have the advantage of being able to cruise closer to the shoreline in the daytime, providing better views and photo opportunities, and shorter transfers to land. Searching for online reports/reviews of each boat is also a useful research tool.