Last Minute Galapagos
Last minute Galapagos cruise: Sealion snoozing on a tiny fishing boat
Last minute cruise in the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos last minute cruise boat
Galapagos cruise boat between islands
Sealions seen from a last minute cruise in the Galapagos Islands
Cheap Galapagos cruise? Galapagos cruise brochure
Galapagos Vision catamaran in the islands

Last minute deals for Galapagos cruises can give you more luxury than you could otherwise afford, or they can be an expensive disappointment.  Check carefully before booking last minute cruise deals.

Last Minute Galapagos

Last minute Galapagos - dare you risk it?  If you can find a package including international flights, and have the freedom to leave work, home and responsibilities at very short notice, the answer is probably yes.  Last minute cruise deals can be a real bargain, saving you money or alternatively giving you a Galapagos cruise in more luxury than you could otherwise afford.  However, there are pitfalls to avoid with last minute deals.
Leaving it until the last minute to book your cruise can lead to disappointment if there are no offers available even at full price, so don't leave it too late.  If you have plenty of time in Ecuador, you can shop around for a last minute deal once you are in the country.  If your Ecuador travel time is limited I would recommend booking your cruise before you arrive so as not to miss out.  Bear in mind that the starting days of cruises are fixed by the National Park, so don't expect to arrive in the islands and find a cruise starting the exact day you want.
So, last minute cruise deals are a great option if you have the flexibility in your schedule, BUT make sure you know what is excluded from the price.  Galapagos cruise deals rarely include the National Park entrance fee of $100 or the control card fee of $10.  Look out for other omissions from special offer packages.  What appears an attractive last-minute discount cruise deal can turn out to be very costly if you have to pay for drinking water or are charged for all excursions.  Package offers hardly ever include alcoholic drinks, or tips, whether they are last minute deals or not.
Galapagos cruise boats vary in size and quality.  See tips for choosing a Galapagos cruise boat to ensure that your last minute cruise deal really is good value for money and the boat will have the facilities you need.  Be aware that operators may switch boats, so make sure you know the category of the boat you book, in order to insist on an equivalent or higher category, or a refund, if your last minute deal turns out to be not what you paid for.
Last minute discounts on Galapagos flights are unlikely as the flights are usually full, if not with cruise passengers then with locals travelling to and from the mainland.  Galapagos flight prices are around $460 to $510 in the high season and $425 - $500 in the low season.  Remember to budget for flights to the islands if they are not included in the package and take this cost into account when comparing last minute cruise deals.
Deals on a last-minute Galapagos cruise don't hang around for long, so be ready to act fast if you find one - know the availability on international and domestic flights, and be ready to make a payment immediately. You may be surprised to learn that not all travel agents and tour operators in Ecuador can accept credit cards, so being able to pay at least a deposit, if not the whole price, in cash, could be what clinches you that last minute cruise deal if you are already in Quito. 
Even if there are no last minute offers published, the economic climate does have an impact on Galapagos tourism, so it is always worth asking for a discount in case agencies are experiencing lower than usual demand for cruises.  Be realistic in your expectations, though.
If you can only find a 4 day cruise on a last minute deal, rather than a week, remember the option of a few days before and / or after your cruise in one or more of the Galapagos hotels for day excursions, beach time or hiking.  The Galapagos Islands have an interesting social history to explore, fascinating volcanic geology to admire and of course endless opportunities for wildlife photography.
Last minute deals may be available on hotel nights, if you've found a great deal on the cruise of a lifetime, but cannot get flights to or from the islands on dates matching the cruise.
Don't just arrive in the Galapagos Islands without booking anything, as the authorities will require the name of your cruise boat or hotel on arrival - they have lists.  Don't think you can get away with saying you are "staying with friends on the islands", either, unless you actually are, because on a small island everyone knows everybody else.
Make sure you have everything you need and are ready to travel in order to take advantage of special last minute prices.  See tips on what to take to Galapagos and buy or prepare travel clothing and luggage as appropriate.
Finally, check the Galapagos Climate Calendar and Wildlife Activity Notes pages for an understanding of weather conditions and animal behavior at different times of the year before deciding on your last minute Galapagos cruise deal.
Useful Spanish Vocabulary for finding last minute cruise deals in the Galapagos Islands:
descuento: discount
oferta: offer
Last Minute Galapagos
Last minute cruise deals and tips on avoiding the pitfalls of booking Galapagos last minute.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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