Angelito Galapagos Cruise – The Full Story!

Share this post:


Angelito has been one of Think Galapagos favourite Galapagos yachts over the years.  The place of special Galapagos family holidays and birthday celebrations, the Angelito Galapagos cruise is run with great heart and with a real family feel. 

Maja Homberger, originally from Thun in Switzerland,  who works as part of the Angelito team helping run the office and as one of the Angelito’s Galapagos National Park guides wrote to us last week to give us an update on their situation in light of the ongoing Covid 19 crisis.  Her email was great. It offered a real insight into how they are dealing with the crisis, and so we asked if she could add a bit more information and tell us a bit more about the Angelito yacht story so we can share it with you.  Here is what she wrote for us….

Angelito cruise team during Covid 19

“ Thankfully most of our guests haven’t cancelled and have rescheduled for 2021. We now have over 200 guests who have rescheduled for the Angelito in 2021 and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone with all our good energies.

Our top priority from the beginning  of the Covid crisis was keeping all our staff and crew. Although we have had no income coming in since the start of the crisis, we didn’t want to lose anyone.  The Angelito crew have been working with us for such a long time and are a big part of our success. In reality we are like a big family. We all work together year after year, week after week, always trying to create safe and unforgettable holidays for our guests.  So no way could we think about letting anyone go. We have to survive this together.

Galapagos yachts - Angelito
Angelito yacht in waters off the beautiful island of Chinese Hat

In order to keep on all our staff we had to reduce our salaries to an absolute minimum, but getting something is something.   Whoever we talk to at the moment, if it is agencies in Ecuador or boats in Galapagos, almost everybody is without work at the moment and consequently not getting any income. Bruna and I decided if we have to, we will apply for credit or sell our cars, so we can all survive together as a team until we restart the cruises in Galapagos.

In the meantime we are taking care of our Angelito and the complete Angelito family in the hope that we can restart operations again soon. Our Galapagos based family business has been going for 45 years, and it will survive these troubled times and we are waiting patiently to restart our operations.  But we are not rushing as we want to be sure that our guests and crew will experience a relaxed and safe trip.

Authentic, honest and modest

Our philosophy has always been that things happen for a reason.  Maybe this crisis has shown and proved to us that the most important thing in life and business is staying authentic, honest and modest. That luxury isn’t the most important thing in life. Rather it is sharing an authentic experience, with local people, who love what they do and do things not only for business and money.

This leads me nicely to the story of our yacht Angelito.   It is a story of a unique yacht, belonging to two Galapagos born brothers, Leonardo and Hugo Andrade. They were from a family of 8, who from an early age due to family circumstances were raised by their grandfather Angel. It was their grandfather Angel (after whom the yacht is named) who help build the first Angelito as a fishing boat with the two eldest grandchildren (when Leonardo was 14 years and Hugo 13 years old).

Angelito Galapagos Cruise – the very beginning

The first Angelito

The idea of building the first Angelito was to give the brothers the chance to go out fishing to earn an income to help maintain the family. During these times working as fishermen, often out at sea for a week at a time, the two brothers started to learn about and experience the wonders of the Galapagos.  It was after this awakening that Hugo started to work as a captain on one of the first tourism boats in Galapagos, the Isabela I whilst Leonardo continued working with the family business fishing on board the first Angelito.

Angelito Crew Galapagos
Angelito crew safety training

After a few years working as a captain on a tourism yacht, Hugo decided along with Leonardo that the family should make the switch and dedicate themselves to working in tourism. It was a decision that was to see them convert their fishing vessel to one of the first small Galapagos tourism yachts, and start to work with a focus on conserving Galapagos rather than working in fishing.

My first experience of the Angelito

Angelito converted to a tourism vessel
Angelito converted for tourism

I first sailed on board the Angelito in its early days as a tourist vessel along with seven other guests 34 years ago!   The way that Hugo and Leonardo showed me the Enchanted Islands during that first visit, really changed my life and from that time my life has been linked to the Andrade family, working with them as a Galapagos National Park guide.

This magic way to experience the wildlife of Galapagos, on board a small yacht, that I experienced all those years ago is how we still work, week after week, but always with the same enthusiasm. Our cruises on board the Angelito are more than work or business. It is about passion and a profound love for the Galapagos Islands and about taking responsibility to help work to protect this special place.

This magic way to experience the wildlife of Galapagos, on board a small yacht, that I experienced all those years ago is how we still work, week after week, but always with the same enthusiasm. Our cruises on board the Angelito are more than work or business. It is about passion and a profound love for the Galapagos Islands and about taking responsibility to help work to protect this special place.

The launch of Angelito I

Cruise - Angelito
Angelito I

As time went by we realised this first Angelito was too small and so Leonardo and Hugo started to build a new and bigger Angelito. With the help of 13 specialist carpenters and under the stewardship of Hugo, in March 1992 the new Angelito was launched. This was a big step for the family and was an important success. Time never stands still, and so again in 2013 the family made the decision to undertake a complete refurbishment of the Angelito I and this is the yacht that they are still working with today.

The really special part of this story for me is that both Angelito yachts were build out of wood in Galapagos with the design, passion and active work of two brothers Hugo and Leonardo who had a vision and a passion. From the beginning they worked on board their Angelito, named after their grandfather, first as fishermen, then as captains and Galapagos National Park guides.

The future for Angelito in Galapagos

This unique story goes on, both brothers still work actively in the business. The next generation is now also actively involved.   Their children learned the business from their fathers. Now William, the son of Leonardo is working as a captain on board the Angelito, and Samuel, the son of Hugo is working in the administration of the Angelito I with new innovative ideas learned during his studies in Europe, both of them continuing the work their fathers began with the same heart and soul for the family business.

Again time doesn’t stand still and we now have an exciting new project underway, the Angelito II. It will take some time before the new Angelito Galapagos cruise is ready to launch, but the project is underway. Being an independent Galapagos family business we have to take it step by step.

If you are interested in the continuation of our family story, please check with time to time with Rachel.  She is our friend and partner for many years and always gets the latest information from us! Thank you so much dear Rachel for always recommending us to your clients and it’s a real pleasure to work with you. Your passengers are always wonderful guests. We estimate you and consider you really like a friend and one of our dearest partners.  Thank you.

It’s me Rachel back again, wow, a tear in my eye reading the end of the lovely blog post Maja wrote for us. What a wonderful and inspiring story. Angelito, as anyone who has travelled on board will know, is a really special operation, and we wish them every success with their new project – and for sure will keep you posted once the new yacht is launched!

Please do give me a call on (+44) 1482 887 453 or message me to find out the latest news on the new Angelito, or to book your trip on board!

To find out more about the Angelito  here is their website   or click here to read reviews from some of our guests who have been on board the Angelito or you may wish to read blogs written by guests like Rowena and Harry Kennedy who went on board the Angelito for the ultimate 70th birthday celebrations or Kathi Borgmann and Josh Beck went on a 15 day cruise on the Angelito as part of their birding journey across South America.


Get in touch:

tg banner accent
ATOL Protected
Give Rachel a Call

Company founder and Galapagos expert, Rachel is on hand to help you plan your trip of a lifetime!

01482 887 453

tg banner accent

Why choose us?

We listen to you. We take the time to understand what you want your Galapagos trip of a lifetime to be. We then we use our decades of experience and unrivalled network of local contacts and team of top guides to make it happen.

ATOL Protected