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Expert Review: Theory Galapagos Cruise

  |   Expert Advice

Hi there! I’m Ebony, the Product Manager here at Rainforest Cruises. I know you’re here because you want to find out more about the captivating journeys available to you in the Galapagos Islands. Let me share a taste of my experience on the MV Theory Cruise, and elucidate all the reasons why you should consider this cruise for your next memorable vacation.

Why Did I Choose the Theory Cruise?

The Theory is special for many reasons. It is is one of the most recent ships to be launched in the Galapagos, having inaugurated in 2018, it has been in service just a little over one year! At a small size, there is a maximum of 10 cabins, which provides a very personalized passenger experience. This cruise is also the little sister of the MV Origin vessel, also cruising in the Galapagos Islands. Both cruises are certified as Relais & Chateaus properties, certifying that they possess ‘Character, Courtesy, Calm, Charm and Cuisine’ to the highest of standards. These sister ships are the only vessels in Ecuador to boast the distinguished title.

MV Theory Vessel

What Can You Expect On the Cruise?


How many excursions do you have per day?

Each day will be comprised of either 3 or 4 activities. Generally speaking, you will have two in the morning and one or two in the afternoon. Each day will be include a potential mixture of water and land based activities. This can range from snorkeling after breakfast, to taking a walk along crimson beaches in the late afternoon, just in time for the sunset. This itinerary takes you some of the best spots available in the islands. You can feel like a local on the inhabited islands, spot baby tortoises in breeding centres, take a visit to the famous Lonesome George and feel like an explorer in the Galapagos National Park, all in just eight days!

What activities will you do?

Activities available on this cruise are: walking, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking (single and double occupancy), stand-up paddle boarding, panga rides and glass bottom boat rides. Kayaking and paddle boarding is organized on a first-come, first served basis. As there is only three double kayaks, one single kayak and two paddle boards, passengers are given the choice to sign up for each activity, and whoever does not get the opportunity to partake the first day, will receive preference on the next outing.

Theory Cruise Tortoise

What are the difficulty levels of the excursions?

The excursions will effect every passenger differently depending on their general fitness and energy levels. For walking excursions, you have the option of taking walking sticks to aid you around the islands. Your guides will specifically tell you exactly what footwear will be appropriate for your activities, so you never have to worry about being unprepared. Usually, a supportive pair of trainers or walking boots are just fine. For wet landings, you can opt for closed wet shoes or airy alternatives such as Keens or Tevas.

When getting into the water your wet suit will provide a lot of buoyancy, but there is always a supportive life ring available near you, which you can use to assist yourself when snorkeling. When using the kayaks or paddle boards, you will be required to wear an inflatable life jacket for safety. If you have lower confidence when snorkeling, you can use these jackets as an additional aid. You never enter the water without a guide near you, and you always have the option to get out of the water - just perform the correct signals, and a panga will come to get you and take you straight back to the boat.

Theory Cruise Snorkelling

What excursion equipment is provided?

When traveling on the Theory Cruise, you will be provided one pair of binoculars per cabin, to use at your leisure during excursions. For land activities you can take one or two walking sticks from the collection stored onboard. Wet suits, snorkels, fins, and diving bags (for your equipment) are also provided, as well as life jackets when using kayaks, paddle boards and at all times when on the pangas or the glass bottom boat.

What will the wakeup times be like?

Be prepared - every day is a pretty early start on a Galapagos Cruise! Of course, excursions are optional, but naturally you will want to participate in as many activities as possible. Breakfast will be served an hour before the departure time of the first excursion. Most activities begin at 8 - 9am, meaning that breakfast is served starting from 7 - 8am each day.

Theory Cruise Walking

How much down time can you expect on the cruise?

Some days will provide a little more relaxation time than others. Most days you will be navigating throughout the night, but on select few days there will be more miles covered during the day, hopping from one island to another. On average you will have roughly 1 - 2 hours over lunch, giving you time to eat, shower, take in the ocean views or even a little power nap if you fancy it. During the afternoon, you will always arrive back to the boat at (or before) 6pm, with one hour before the next day’s itinerary briefing at 7pm. Believe me, when you are so busy off the boat, one hour of downtime feels like a lot more!

Theory Cruise Sea Lions

Boat Features:

How many people are on board?

The Theory Cruise has 10 cabins, with a maximum capacity of 20 passengers. The rooms can have either double or twin beds, at your preference. There are 13 crew members on board in total, including the two naturalist guides, captain and the cruise director.

What social areas are available?

There are multiple social areas on the Theory vessel. A stunning interior lounge area is located opposite the dining area, perfectly fitting a full departure, with comfortable sitting areas and snacks at all hours of the day and night. As you venture to the top deck, the huge sun deck is kitted out with countless tables, two huge day beds, a full-sized bar and multiple lounge rests. Here you will also find the onboard Jacuzzi…

Theory Cruise Sun Deck

The Jacuzzi fits up to six people at any given time, and can be used at all times of the day and evening. There is a shower located on the top deck which you must use before and after entering the Jacuzzi. For the more active members of society, there is also a considerably large fitness center filled with yoga mats, a full dumbbell wrack, elliptical machine and more. Fresh plush towels are provided in the gym, as well as next to the Jacuzzi, for use by all passengers.

Theory Cruise Jacuzzi

Who can I ask for help?

Any of the crew! All the staff on board are more than happy to help and will do their very best to accommodate your every need. Mostly, if you have any questions or requests you will report to the cruise director. The director has their own open office, located at the front of the ship, on the lower deck - directly in-front of your cabins. This person will be available from 7am - 11pm each day, with the option to call during the night - thats 24 hour service for anything you need!

Theory Cruise Wildlife

What can I expect from my cabin?

Deluxe staterooms on board the Theory are all identical. The only difference will be your preference for either double or twin beds in your suite. As you first walk into your cabin you are greeted by a personalised welcome letter and top-quality Ecuadorian chocolates. The room is orchestrated with every detail you could need - a personal universal docking station/speaker, flatscreen tv, Apple tv, drinks station including replenished water bottles, a kettle, selection of teas and infusions plus a Dolce Gusto coffee machine, customizable music/volume control (for public music and daily announcements) and customizable air conditioning. 

Theory Cruise Suites

You will also find the current Relais & Chateaux handbook, tv instructions and notebook on your bed-side table. Each cabin is provided a pair of binoculars which you will find located next to your own brand new reusable water bottle. Storage space is adequate for two people with two full checked luggage bags, tons of coat hangers and hooks are positioned on the walls for additional storage. One plug socket is located either side of the bed, with two more behind the drinks station.

The bathrooms on board are stunning. A sliding door opens right up to your own private en-suite, stacked with amenities: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, earbuds, nail files, cotton pads, mini sewing kit, shower caps, loofah, multiple towels and hair dryer. The bathroom and cabin have huge panoramic windows, giving you the most incredible view of the Galapagos Islands as you cruise.

Theory Cruise Cabin Interior

Is there Wi-fi on board?

Yes. The Theory Cruise provides wi-fi for the entire duration of the itinerary. You are limited to two devices per cabin, and this service is included in the price of the cruise. Due to the remote location, the connection is not always at its fastest performance speed, so please try to address most of your important issues before embarkation. You will see the connection improve as you get nearer to the inhabited island such as Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.

Will I get seasick?

Seasickness is always a risk when travelling via boat. The Theory provides medicine, available for all passengers to combat the risk when travelling during your trip. You can take one before bed, and one during the day. If you are particularly worried, I would recommend packing your own patches or alternatives - you can contact your doctor or local pharmacy if you would like a personal recommendation.

Theory Cruise Red Footed Booby

Do I need cash?

Cash is always handy if you choose to do some shopping on the inhabited islands. Most places will accept Visa or Mastercard on the inhabited islands but it is not guaranteed. If you choose to spend any money on the boat for items in the boutique, gratuities etc you can use cash or pay on card (when the signal is adequate). Regarding tips, these will be paid at the end of the cruise, and can be given to a particular cruise member or shared amongst the whole team. The recommended gratuity for this cruise is $300 - $350 per person, per itinerary.

Theory Cruise Land Iguana


What are my favorite memories from the trip?

The evening dinner on the sundeck was my favourite event on board! Perfectly barbecued lobster tails, chilled glasses of Chilean wine, sun setting along the horizon and all the passengers together for a memorable, fun-filled night.

My favourite memory off-board was snorkelling in crystal blue waters, with Sea Lions, Turtles, Penguins and Marine Iguanas - all in the same spot! This was on the fourth day of the cruise off Santa Cruz island, in a sweet spot called Punta Vicente Roca.

Theory Cruise Dinner on the Sundeck

What are the unique elements of this cruise?

The Theory Cruise provides two highly experienced guides for a total of up to 20 passengers. This 1:10 ratio is incredibly unique and provides a special, intimate experience for every guest. The fantastic guides during who made my cruise experience so spectacular were Sofia and Fernando.

This cruise is also fully inclusive. Their extensive list of personal and classic cocktails are perfect to wind down with after a long day of activities. Or perhaps a local, artisanal beer over lunch as you drift leisurely from island to island. Don’t worry if you don’t indulge in alcohol - there are plenty of fresh alternatives and non-alcoholic options on board too.

Theory Cruise Sunset from the top deck


How Can You Book A Cruise Onboard The Theory? 

If you want to experience the Theory cruise first hand (which, of course I would fully recommend), you can do so by contacting our wonderful sales team. This cruise experience is incredibly well organised, managed and administered. You honestly will have no worry in the world when travelling - you are accompanied and attended to every step of the way from your arrival at the airport in Quito, to your departure flight from the islands.

How Far In Advance Should You Book? 

Cruises in the Galapagos are extremely popular and book out fairly well ahead of time. I would recommend choosing dates with a range, perhaps around one month where you can travel, and contacting our sales team for availability and advice. Almost always, I would suggest cementing your departure 9-12 months before traveling.

Theory Cruise Baby Sea Lion

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel This Itinerary?

This is a personal preference based on many factors. Simply put, the Galapagos is great at any time of year! The weather will always vary, as will the water levels and animal sightings. The cruise price will be the same all year round for the Origin and Theory (excluding a surcharge over the Christmas and New Year period).

The biggest differences will be the landscapes - during high season you will experience more greenery and plant life nourished around the islands. The low season is equipped with slightly cooler temperatures and is the best time to spot baby Fur Sea Lions! Every month has it’s own perks regarding nature, weather and wildlife - it just depends on your preference. If you are inquisitive about any particular time of year, or would like to book/ask us more questions please contact us by sending us an enquiry or calling us at 1-888-215-355.

Theory Cruise RC Staff

This expert review was written by our Product Manager, Ebony.

Dates Travelled: 21st - 29th September, 2019

Itinerary: 8-Day Cruise B - A voyage across the Northern and Western Islands

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises, Galapagos Islands tours, and Southeast Asia cruises. We provide you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama and Southeast Asia. As travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure.