Hands down, the best way to navigate the Galápagos Islands is by ship. The region doesn’t allow vessels with more than 100 passengers, so any option is a crowdless one. Judy Perl, a cruise expert who sits on AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council, shares a recommendation for every type of traveler.

CELEBRITY CRUISES
ship size Small
best if You have a family and a strict budget.
price From $3,900. Celebrity’s 98-person Xpedition ship runs 7- to 13-night cruises that hit Bartolomé and Santiago Islands. Be warned that most itineraries sell out a year in advance, so now is the time to book for next December.

LINDBLAD EXPEDITIONS
ship size Small
best if You want to learn a lot.
price From $6,290. This venerable cruising company partners with National Geographic to provide guests with a variety of educational experiences. The 96-guest Endeavor is outfitted with such tools as a remotely operated underwater vehicle and a video microscope.

METROPOLITAN TOURING
ship size Smaller
best if You don’t want kids around.
price From $4,580. The passengers—no more than 40 per trip—aboard weeklong Isabella II voyages can tailor their excursions to target flamingos, blue-footed boobies, or other wildlife they would like to spot.

QUASAR
ship size Smallest
best if You want complete privacy.
price From $6,100. You’ll get the most out of the Galápagos by chartering a private yacht. Quasar’s Grace accommodates up to 18 passengers in nine cabins. The staff of 12 includes two expert naturalists.