Expert Review: Passion Galapagos Cruise

September 28, 2018 • Kevin Marshall

AdventureSmith Specialist Kevin Marshall reviews his Passion Galapagos Cruise aboard the 14-guest Passion. Learn what it’s like to be aboard a luxury small ship in the Galapagos Islands with only a few fellow shipmates. Note: The Passion was partnered with the WildAid conservation organization when Kevin traveled, and known as WildAid’s Passion.

When I arrived in Galapagos to board the Passion, there was a sense of excitement, which you could see on the faces of my fellow group of travelers. Once on board, we were greeted with smiles and handshakes by the crew and the captain and given a refreshing fruit drink with snacks. It was a great moment to all come together and take it all in before embarking on our adventure. After a briefing and ship tour led by our naturalist guide, Sofia, I was off to explore the ship’s amenities as well as my cabin.

We were greeted with smiles and handshakes by the crew and the captain and given a refreshing fruit drink with snacks.

Motor yacht WildAid's Passion small ship cruise anchored next to the shoreline of the Galapagos.

My Review of the M/Y Passion Ship

The Passion is a magnificent luxury yacht with a sleek design and a high level of comfort. When I first saw it, I knew we were all in for a real treat! Originally built in 1989 as a private yacht, she has since been refurbished and transformed into a 14-passenger vessel that combines the elements of simplicity, relaxation and spaciousness. The four teak decks and roomy interior spaces are some of the ship’s many highlights that allowed for a truly memorable experience.

The Passion consists of 5 Staterooms, 1 VIP Suite and 1 Master, with at least one bathtub in every cabin! Each cabin is very spacious and comfortable with all the amenities (air conditioning, hair dryers, USB chargers) you’d expect on a luxury vessel. My cabin, Stateroom #3, had a full-size bed plus a twin-size bed. The VIP Suite located at the stern of the ship on the Cabin Deck is an ideal option if you prefer spaciousness. If you desire even more room, the Master Suite delivers! The Master Suite is located at the bow of the ship on the Main Deck, which is also where the dining room and lounge areas are, making the Master Suite a nice option for couples. Both suites have king beds, two private marble bathrooms each (his and hers) and a private lounge area with high-definition TV systems.

Deck view of a enclosed outdoor lounge area with couches and chairs and a bar.  Large windows and sliding glass doors access the deck.

The Passion’s ample deck space and design (over 2,000 square feet) was truly the highlight for me.

The Passion’s ample deck space and design was truly the highlight for me. With four decks and over 2,000 square feet of teak wood decking, not to mention a Jacuzzi and lounge chairs on the Sky Deck, it was very easy to find a spot to relax on my own or with fellow travelers. The interior spaces were equally impressive, with an elegant dining room and lounge area on the Main Deck as well as the panoramic sky lounge with bar and sliding glass doors. There were plenty of seating options both at the stern and bow of the ship on the Main Deck. With its solid steel hull and two electronic stabilizers, the Passion is one of the more secure and stable vessels to ply the Galapagos waters.

Small ship cruise WildAid's Passion anchored in a bay off the coast of a Galapagos island with rock pinnacles.

Our Galapagos Guide & Crew Members

Our guide and the ship’s crew were outstanding, making the entire Galapagos trip that much more enjoyable and personal! They were always attentive to everyone’s needs and very engaging throughout the entire trip, often spotting various wildlife while we were aboard, which included the Galapagos short-eared owl. The Passion has a guest to crew ratio at 1:1, and the open bridge policy offered us all a fascinating look into navigating around the islands. At the equator crossing, our group all piled into the bridge, with the captain showing us our position and making sure we all had a chance to celebrate this feat!

At the equator crossing, we all piled into the bridge, with the captain showing us our position and making sure we all had a chance to celebrate this feat!

Our bilingual naturalist guide, Sofia, did a great job in showing us all the wonders of Galapagos and was an expert in her field with close to 20 years of experience. She was very attentive to everyone’s needs, very detailed in describing what we were seeing and hearing, and passionate about this unique part of the world. Not only was she our guide, but she was our friend.

2 kayakers gliding off the shore of a sandy beach with bluffs.

With our group size at 8 guests on my departure, we utilized just one panga to go from the Passion to our daily shore and snorkeling excursions, which is a very rare experience in Galapagos Islands. Many vessels have to utilize at least two pangas and organize larger groups of travelers, which can make those excursions take slightly longer. Also with a 14-guest ship like the Passion, you have the flexibility to partake in a more customized style of travel and activities. There was an afternoon where some of my fellow travelers wanted to relax on board the ship while a few of us spent roughly an hour kayaking around the island of Santiago.

The Food Aboard Passion

The Passion produced a variety of gourmet cuisine of local Ecuadorian and international dishes that were exceptionally prepared throughout the whole trip. On most occasions, we took part in eating many meals al fresco style, as the Passion offers covered outdoor seating for any meal of the day out on the Main Deck. Breakfast was served family-style, allowing us to serve ourselves around the table with eggs, meat, fruit and breads. There were also options each morning for cereal, oatmeal and yogurts. Lunches were served in much the same way, often having soups, salads, fruit and fish/meat options. Dinner was served in three courses, usually plated, and were of pure gourmet quality with a soup/salad appetizer, main dish of fish/meat/vegetables and a dessert.

We took part in eating many meals al fresco style, as the Passion offers covered outdoor seating for any meal of the day.

Purified water, coffee, tea and natural juices were always available any time of the day. Fruit was always available each meal and the table settings through each day’s meal was changed and was never the same setting throughout our trip. Snacks, fruit drinks and towels were always given to us upon returning to the ship from our outings, which really showed the high level of hospitality this ship provides.

A guest table set for dining on the deck of the small ship cruise Passion on a sunny day while anchored off the coastline in the Galapagos.

A Note on the WildAid Partnership

WildAid is a worldwide organization that works with partners to protect marine reserves and reduce the impact of climate change, as well as support anti-poaching efforts. In the Galapagos, in partnership with the M/Y Passion, WildAid works to stop illegal fishing, which threatens the livelihood of the local community, the sustainability of its fish stocks and the health of its marine ecosystems. This organization integrates electronic surveillance technology to monitor the reserve, trains park rangers annually, underwrites critical operational expenses and works with the government to enact the stronger regulations to combat illegal fishing. WildAid also provides training and tools to prevent the introduction of invasive species, including educational outreach and effective quarantine measures. For every guest sailing on the Passion, a donation in the amount of $100 is made to the Galapagos Conservation Fund to support these efforts, and I was proud to sail on such a conservation-focused ship.

Blue Footed Booby in sandy nest with a baby chick and egg.

My Experience on the Passion’s Western Islands Cruise

My cruise aboard the Passion was an amazing and rewarding experience, and my route focused on the western Galapagos Islands over 8 days. My fellow travelers were wonderful and friendly. We spent many dinners reminiscing about that day’s sights and sounds. My trip coincided with the beginning of the garua season, where you can encounter misty conditions, cooler water temperatures and choppier seas. Most of our days started off with a slight mist that would give way to clear blue skies. My goal throughout this journey was to try and catch the sunrise and sunset each day, which I was able to accomplish from the Sky Deck with its large open space and lounge chairs.

My goal was to catch the sunrise and sunset each day, which I accomplished from the Sky Deck with its large open space and lounge chairs.

Sunset view from the top of the small ship cruise Passion in the Galapagos.

The daily shore excursions and snorkeling were an integral part of our journey. We saw so many species of birds and other Galapagos Island animals. We snorkeled multiple times a day off the coasts of Isabela, Santiago and North Seymour Islands. We swam with many fish species, sea lions, rays, sea turtles and feeding marine iguanas. I was able to take part in a few kayaking excursions, which allowed for a more up-close exploration of the islands and their features.

Every evening, usually before dinner, we gathered in the lounge where our guide would discuss what we had seen and experienced that day as well as what to look forward to with the next day’s agenda. There was always an educational aspect each evening as well. We learned about the marine wildlife, endemic species, geology and geography of this amazing place.

Galapagos marine iguana sitting on a tidal rock.

The Passion is a ship of luxury and refinement that I would highly recommend for cruising the islands of the Galapagos. For those seeking a small ship with open spaces to roam and a dedication to the environment, the Passion is truly a great option.

Galapagos traveler on a hike overlooking Sullivan Bay.

For more photos from this trip, including iguanas and sea lions, view my Facebook album on AdventureSmith Explorations’ Facebook page.

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This Galapagos cruise review was written by an AdventureSmith Explorations crew member. For dates, rates and booking information on this trip, see Passion Galapagos Cruises, or contact one of our Adventure Specialists to learn more about our small ship cruises and wilderness adventures: 1-800-728-2875.

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