Just got back from the Galapagos Islands, what a magical place!! We chose to do a combination Land and Cruise trip, so we went on the Tip Top III for 4 nights, then 4 nights on Isabella, 4 nights on Santa Cruz. Here is my report about the cruise portion:
If you want to see the remote and most unique parts of the islands you definitely have to go on the cruise. The Tip Top III covered places we couldn't go from the land portion of our trip (Floreana, Espanola and San Cristobel). I paid extra for an upper cabin because I wanted to minimize noise and also get the big window view. Yes, it was definitely quiet but our window (cabin 7) was so tinted that it was almost completely dark. However our kids, who were next door, didn't have a tinted window and neither did any of theother cabins or common areas. I asked and they said it was to minimize reflections which confused the turtles when they're coming out to sea - seems reasonable but why was only our cabin affected. Also, the beds are REALLY small but there was ample storage space. I did not think it swayed excessively and in fact the light rocking was very soothing at night.
I felt that the schedule was too regimented, and we had a very rushed morning, then about 3-3.5 hours in the boat, then only half an hour of snorkeling, get back in the boat and we had 15 minutes to get out of our wet suits and get ready for the last activity. I wish we had more time snorkeling and it seemed like we were only spending 5 hours on activities each day.
One other item, if you can bring your own wetsuit. The ones they rent are 2mm and only halfsies, maybe OK for hte warmer times, but for July everybody was freezing in them. We brought 5mm full wet suits which were perfect.
The crew was great, food was great and abundant! They have a water purifier so we always had an infinite supply of drinking water, and the showers (which were very decent) had soap and shampoo.
The highlights of the cruise was Espanola (albatross, sea lion beach), lava tube on Floreana (the last 20 m you need to swim to the end) and Kicker rock (snorkeling with shakes including a hammerhead).