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Best Cruise Line in the Galápagos (Expedition Category)
Sail the iconic archipelago with the pioneers of modern expedition travel
Lindblad Expeditions pioneered expedition travel to the remarkable Galápagos Islands more than 50 years ago. Today, we lead expeditions year-round to this magical archipelago famed for its vibrant wildlife. Encounter giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, playful penguins, and charismatic sea lions in their natural habitats, unfazed by your presence. Enjoy multiple adventures each day on land and undersea, including walks and hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling, in the company of local expert guides.
In Galápagos, one thing is certain: expect the unexpected! Surrounded by wildlife on land and at sea, you never know what might happen. And that’s been the draw since Darwin landed in 1835.
New 7-Day Wild Galápagos Escape
Lindblad Expeditions is delighted to offer a new option to see the Galápagos in 7-days, departing on Tuesdays. Our active exploration of the legendary archipelago offers multiple adventures daily on the latest addition to our Galápagos fleet, National Geographic Islander ll.
Dive in and experience Galápagos with all your senses. Choose how you want to explore—hike, paddleboard, kayak, snorkel, or arrange to dive (on select departures). Take a long hike or just relax on the beach. Our generous staff-to-guest ratio means you can always find a naturalist whose interests and approach you share whether you want to focus on birding, human history, photography, the undersea, or more. Since the first international tourist expedition cruise to the Galápagos Islands in July 1967 with Lars-Eric Lindblad, we’ve introduced generations of guests to these strange and wonderful islands, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.
Henry David Thoreau called it the “tonic of wildness.” It’s what a cruise to Galápagos, with its beauty and wildness, gives you—a spirit lift. To compound this healthful effect, we provide a quality of shipboard life and a philosophy of wellness to relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.
National Geographic Global Explorers Program
One of the most rewarding sights on an expedition is witnessing the gleam of discovery in a child’s eyes, whether they’re walking alongside a grazing giant tortoise or watching blue-footed boobies perform an elaborate courtship dance. Moments like these are abundant in the Galápagos—and they’re especially meaningful when complemented with the learning opportunities offered through our exclusive National Geographic Global Explorers Program for kids and teens 18 and under.
See, do and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades.
Veteran expedition leaders are the orchestrators of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, experience, and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
Our naturalists, passionate about the islands where most of them were raised, illuminate each facet of natural and human history here through their enthusiasm and knowledge. Our guests consistently cite the expertise and engaging company of our staff as key reasons to repeatedly travel with us.
See what lies beneath the waves—even if you choose to stay dry with the help of your undersea specialist. These pros snorkel or dive to shoot footage of sea life and share it in the lounge. They lead snorkeling outings and glass-bottom boat excursions, offering voiceover on all you see.
Every expedition aboard a ship in our National Geographic-flagged fleet offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings and the basics of composition, and to help you become a better, more confident photographer.
Wild places like the Galápagos hold infinite learnings for young travelers who are nurturing new relationships with the natural world. The certified field educators at the helm of the National Geographic Global Explorers program are experts at interpreting the fascinating stories of species and their habitats so that kids and teens can return home inspired by the planet and primed to protect it.
Visit itinerary dates to view additional staff and guests
David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes
Underwater photographers David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes are married partners who work together as a team to produce National Geographic stories from equatorial coral reefs to beneath the polar ice. David estimates he has spent nearly half his life in the sea since taking his first underwater photograph at the age of 12 with a Brownie Hawkeye camera sealed in a bag.
Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Rich Reid has specialized in environmental and adventure photography for over two decades. North American Nature Photography Association elected Rich as a Fellow for his significant contributions to the nature photography industry, and he was a finalist for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his time-lapse video documenting forest fire ecology.
Lucas Bustamante is a biologist and conservation photojournalist. He co-founded Tropical Herping and Savia Fund, an Ecuadorian nonprofit that works in the legal defense of nature, environmental and cultural conservation, and visual storytelling. His photographic work has been featured in National Geographic, Audubon, BBC Wildlife, GEO, Smithsonian, and many other magazines, books, photo exhibitions, and articles.
Krista Rossow began her career as a photography editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. She has shot feature stories as a contributing photographer for Traveler in Japan, South Africa, Morocco, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and various U.S. cities. She regularly judges Instagram contests for @NatGeogTravel and edits photos for National Geographic Books.
Over the past three decades, award-winning photographer Michael Melford has produced more than 50 stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. His assignments have focused on conservation and celebrating the beauty of wilderness and national parks around the world.
National Geographic Islander II: Take a Virtual Tour
Take a virtual tour of the newest member of our Galápagos Fleet, the all-suite National Geographic Islander ll.
National Geographic Islander II's Maiden Voyage
Enjoy this glimpse of the new, all-suite National Geographic Islander ll welcoming the first guests aboard the August 18, 2022, maiden voyage sailing the Galápagos. She is purposely outfitted to reduce impact, build community on board, and foster authentic connection to the people and culture of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.
Embark on a sweeping adventure that encapsulates all the wildness of Galápagos balanced with the cultural and historic experiences of Machu Picchu & Peru's Land of the Inca. Explore Galápagos in depth aboard either of our ships, then discover the culture and history of Peru and the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu.
National Geographic Islander II: A Truly Ecuadorian Ship
Our new ship for the Galápagos Islands, the National Geographic Islander II, celebrates the cultures of Ecuador and the islands themselves. Join Vice President of Hotel Operations Ana Esteves as she finds inspiration around the country—meeting acclaimed local artisans, chefs, and artists who showcase the beauty and wonder of Ecuador.
‘Good Morning America’ Reports Live from National Geographic Endeavour II
In February 2022, Good Morning America's Amy Robach joined Lindblad Expeditions in the Galápagos, where GMA became the first U.S. television show to broadcast live from the islands. View clips from the show, see our daily photo diaries, and explore even more.
A true gem in the crown of conservation and sustainability, the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) has worked for six decades to protect the Galápagos and ensure that its pristine ecosystems and incredible biodiversity will continue to thrive for generations to come.
Lindblad Expeditions supports stewardship efforts in the places we explore, and one way we do that is through the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund. Traveler contributions to the LEX-NG Fund in Galápagos currently support our regional partners—the Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, and the Scalesia Foundation—in their efforts to research and conserve the unique wildlife of the islands and promote education in the region.
On the final day of our expedition, we crossed to the western side of the Galapagos archipelago on board National Geographic Islander II. Last, but not least, we visited the youngest islands of the archipelago. With ages of only 500,000 to 700,000 years, they are the babies of the Galapagos, in geological time. Their location at the upwelling zone of the Cromwell current makes this one of the most productive areas in the Galapagos. We started our day with an early whale-watching activity, while heading to Fernandina Island. We anchored at Punta Vicente Roca, where we started with an amazing walk; here we encountered the biggest population of marine iguanas in the archipelago. To conclude the morning activities, we explored the marine life of Fernandina. In the afternoon we had a spectacular Zodiac ride along the coast of Isabela, around the “mouth” of this seahorse-shaped island. We encountered a couple of orcas and dolphins to finish the day.
Today we explored two wonderful locations around Santiago Island. Chinese Hat, a small islet, is a geological wonder. Shaped like a traditional Chinese hat, this volcanic formation showcases the raw, untamed beauty of the archipelago. The island is dotted with volcanic cones and hardened lava flows, providing a unique landscape for exploration. We went kayaking and Zodiac-riding; we also explored beneath the waves with the glass-bottom boat and snorkeling. Nearby, Sullivan Bay complements the experience with its expansive, otherworldly lava fields. We explored the area with our naturalist, learning about the geological features of this lava flow that is only 130 years old.
Today we explored the north coast of Santiago Island, at Buccaneer’s Cove and Puerto Egas. This central island offers outstanding landscapes with high cliffs and interesting rock formations. Wildlife around this area consists of several seabird species such as blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, and swallow-tailed gulls. We explored this island by kayaks, Zodiac rides, snorkeling, and walking along a magnificent trail. Today our guests had a blast learning about the natural history and geology of this island. We celebrated the end of this week with a farewell cocktail with Captain Mario Lomas in the lounge of National Geographic Endeavour II .
We visited the first island before breakfast; this geological wonder contains the first signs of colonization by plants and animals. The views from the summit are outstanding. Later on the beach, we had great photo-ops of wildlife and landscapes. We also enjoyed great snorkeling from the beach to see various fish, penguins, and sharks. Chinese Hat is another beautiful stop for various activities, like snorkeling with penguins and great varieties of fish, sea lions, rays, and sea stars. Later in the afternoon we took Zodiac rides to explore the coast of Santiago and Chinese Hat, looking for penguins and other wildlife with magnificent views of the surrounding clear waters.
Early in the morning, we made a dry landing at South Plaza Island. Amidst the Galapagos sea lions and land iguanas, we marveled at the island's breathtaking landscape – all before breakfast. Come afternoon, Santa Fe Island awaited. We explored its turquoise bay by kayak and snorkeling and swam alongside sea lions, green sea turtles, and eagle rays. A playful group of sea lion pups splashed water on us as we drew near, a delightful encounter. Later, we hiked to a beach where juvenile Galapagos hawks greeted us, capping off an incredible first full day aboard National Geographic Islander II .
It will never leave you if you go to the Galápagos islands. You will have stories for the rest of your life—I can promise you.