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Those who really know the Galapagos Islands generally give the same advice: the best way to see the islands is on a live-aboard cruise. There are many benefits: the chance to see more unique Galapagos species, comfort, value, adventure, great food, facilities and more. Every year, thousands of visitors to the Galapagos Islands select a cruise ship from the dozens working in the Islands and book their trip. Not everyone knows what to expect, however, so here is a typical day for a passenger on a liveaboard Galapagos cruise!
6 a.m. — Wakeup call! The day begins early in Galapagos, as there is much to see and do! During the night, the ship moved to where it needed to be and is calmly anchored off of the visitor site on the schedule for that morning. Passengers will usually have at least an hour to shower, dress and go to breakfast. Breakfast is usually served buffet-style and can include something for everyone like eggs, bacon, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit and juice. Of course there is plenty of coffee to wake everyone up!
7:30 — Guides begin loading the pangas for the first site visit of the day. Guides should tell visitors whether it's a "wet" or "dry" landing: if it's wet, visitors will have to get out of the pangas in two feet of water or so and walk onto land: a dry landing means they won't get wet. A morning visit could include a hike, some snorkeling, a visit to the beach or even a panga ride through an interesting area. The guide will point out all of the interesting and unique Galapagos species and history!
11:30 — Return to the ship.
12:30 — Lunch. Like breakfast, lunch is often served buffet-style. Most Galapagos ships take great pride in their food, and lunch could include anything from soups to main courses, salads, desserts and side dishes. Often there is fine seafood or local Ecuadorian favorites. On some cruises, the chef will ask the guests what they would like for dinner while they're enjoying lunch so that he or she has time to prepare it.
After lunch — During and after lunch, the ship will move into position for the afternoon visitor site. Guests will usually have a couple hours of down time to take a nap, write postcards, read a book, etc. On the better cruises, naturalist guides will often offer an optional talk about some aspect of the islands, such as geology, history, Charles Darwin's visit and theories, marine currents or other interesting topics.
3:00 — 5:30 Afternoon visitor site. Just as in the morning, the naturalist guide will round up the guests and take them ashore for a hike, some snorkeling, a visit to a nice beach, panga ride or whatever else is on the schedule.
6:30 — Dinner. May be later on some cruises. Dinner may be a buffet, but on some cruises guests will select from a menu at lunchtime and the dinner they chose will be ready for them. Most cruises offer drinks, although alcohol and soft drinks usually have an extra cost.
After Dinner — After dinner, the naturalist guides often will talk about the plan for the next day, including practical information like what to wear, difficulty of the hike, etc. If guests are leaving the next day, the guides will tell them what to expect at the airport, how to pay their bar tab and other useful information. After the briefing, many of the guests like to enjoy a drink or some dancing. If the ship is in port, musicians and/or dancers may be invited aboard for the enjoyment of the guests. Most guests, exhausted from the exciting day's visits, choose to go to bed early to rest up for the next day!