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How a cruise can unveil the real luxury of the Galápagos Islands

We follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin on a holistic journey through the enchanted islands of the Galápagos aboard Sea Star Journey from Latin Trails.

A unique natural destination such as the Galápagos Islands is able to imbue the word ‘luxury’ with new holistic meaning. Here, it conveys a sense of pristine beauty and a lack of human interference. But Sea Star Journey takes the idea further, offering comfort and meaningful adventure, too.

Operated by Latin Trails, an incoming tour operator for Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands and Peru, Sea Star Journey is an award-winning yacht faithful to the company’s vision: delivering unique experiences. On board, comfort is present in private and social areas, where people can relax and enjoy every detail of the service while the captain takes the yacht to the next spot where adventure awaits us.

Just returning from my six-day, five-night cruise of the Galápagos Islands on board Sea Star Journey, I am still pinching myself; this amazing experience hardly seems real.

Arriving by plane from Quito to San Cristóbal Island, we were shuttled from the check-in point to visit the giant tortoises at the breeding centre, La Galapaguera. The tortoises are the emblems of these islands so it was a fitting way to begin our trip. We were able to spend a short time visiting the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where sea lions lounge on rocks in the harbor, while we checked in with the electronic world for the last time for the next five days.

Cruising the Galápagos

Our cabin on Sea Star Journey was spacious and beautifully decorated. With only eight cabins, the yacht is very comfortable. Sea Star Journey is a boutique yacht operated by Latin Trails, an Ecuadorian-based tour company, and she offers a great way to visit the bucket-list destination of Galápagos Islands.

Meals and cocktail hour briefings were highlights of each day, providing time to bond with other passengers, while enjoying the casual lifestyle on board the ship. Meals are served buffet style with an impressive selection of cuisine. Fish and seafood were served frequently, along with abundant vegetables and fruits. My favourite meal was cooked and served al fresco so everyone could enjoy the grilled meal and the ocean air all together. Relaxing on the decks or soaking in the hot tub were favourite pastimes, too.

We were welcomed ashore by sea lions on the beach and walked along to see sea turtle nests, as it was time for the baby turtles to hatch, and small flamingo-dotted lakes. One afternoon saw us hiking along a broken lava rock; another saw us going ashore to visit Post Office Beach. There has been a wooden barrel on this beach since the 1800s and visitors are invited to choose a postcard left in the barrel to hand-deliver when they return home. I found a few addressed to people in my area that I look forward to delivering back home.

Active adventures in the underwater world

Going ashore to various islands afforded the opportunity for hikes to view blue-footed boobies, iguanas and many other birds. We went on an afternoon snorkelling trip to Devil’s Crown and saw sharks, rays, sea turtles and schools of beautiful fish. Snorkelling gave us a glimpse of the other world beneath the sea with colourful fish, sharks on the ocean floor beneath us and sea lions and turtles swimming alongside us.

We also spent one afternoon kayaking on Sea Star Journey’s inflatable kayaks. We were always greeted by staff with drinks and snacks after each activity.

Snorkelling for the last time was especially wonderful. We saw a white-tipped shark first thing, and then the sea lions came out to play. Rays and sea turtles swam all around us in a living kaleidoscope.

Our final evening came all too quickly. We received information for our departure for dinner, and then were awakened at 5am to breakfast and board the pangas for our last trip to the island. We were guaranteed to see tortoises here and indeed we did. It’s sad to say goodbye to this very special place and to our new friends, but I’m so grateful and happy to have had this wonderful experience.

The details

Sea Star Journey was built in 2011 and completely renovated in 2017. She was named the “Best Boutique Cruise in South America” by the World Travel Awards in both 2017 and 2018, and is now nominated for the “Best Boutique Cruise in the World” for 2019. Her 12-person crew serves guests with great style. There are three different itineraries available for Sea Star Journey.

This article was produced with content supplied by Latin Trails and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter here.