Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery

Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery

Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery

Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery

Travel information 7 days MS Santa Cruz II
Departures
32 departures between Jan 2023 and Mar 2024
Price from
5444 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join us on a journey of ecological discovery as we set out from Quito, Ecuador, to experience the natural wonders of the incomparable Galápagos Islands.    

Beautiful Quito and volcano adventure 

Begin your adventure with two nights at a hotel in Quito, one of South America’s most charming capitals. This World Heritage city of graceful Spanish-era architecture is packed with cosy restaurants and small artisanal shops. From here we’ll journey to an active volcano and go on a nature walk in stunning surroundings, stopping to pay a visit to a vibrant traditional open-air market.  

Darwin’s islands of evolution 

The Galápagos Islands are famed for their association with the evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin. Our western itinerary calls at Isabela and Floreana, two of the four islands visited by the famous naturalist, at the volcanic island of Fernandina, and the centrally located Santa Cruz Island. The landings take in a wide array of ecosystems, picturesque landscapes, and offer great opportunities for seeing wildlife such as sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, flamingos, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, and iconic Darwin’s Finches. 

Your expedition ship – MS Santa Cruz II 

MS Santa Cruz II’s crafted itineraries give you some of the best island coverage and wildlife viewing opportunities in the Galápagos. Many excursions take place at exclusive visitor sites, meaning we’ll often have entire areas to ourselves. Having multiple naturalist guides aboard Santa Cruz II also means you’ll be able to choose from a wider range of activities each day.  

Your ship is also one of the few vessels operating in Galápagos that comes equipped with a full range of exploration tools, including dinghies, kayaks, snorkelling gear and paddleboards. There's even a glass-bottom boat. Of course, safety and sustainability are paramount throughout your cruise, and there’s a 24-hour Medical Officer onboard at all times. 

Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
  • Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Arrive in the city of eternal spring, get your bearings and relax after your journey.

    Your journey of discovery begins on the equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 ft, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colourful plazas, magnificent churches and handsome monuments. 

    If you have enough time in the evening, make sure to visit the Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrianised street with links to the poets and artists who’ve lived here. It’s lined with shops and cafes, and there are many handicrafts available to buy.  

    Pre-Programmes 

    Why not experience another highlight of South America and discover the lost civilisation of the Incas, including the breathtaking mountain stronghold of Machu Picchu. This optional 4-day Pre-Programme starts in Lima and ends in Quito. 

    Or arrive in Quito a few days early and join us instead on a 4-day tour to Cloudforest Lodge in the Mashpi Reserve. The area is part of the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots. This optional extension is also available as a Post-Programme. 

    Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Arrive in the city of eternal spring, get your bearings and relax after your journey.

  • Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Get a taste for Ecuador with a visit to a traditional market and a trip to Cotopaxi Volcano.

    Today you’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of South America's most active volcanoes. But first, you’ll stop at the photogenic Sangolquí open-air market, where you can browse colourful stalls with unique handicrafts, and sample different local specialities.  

    Afterwards, we’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked in a high valley within the Cotopaxi National Park at 12,800 ft above sea level. Spot herds of llamas on the slopes and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird and – with luck – the majestic Andean Condor. You’ll enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by some of the region’s best chefs before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon. 

    Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Get a taste for Ecuador with a visit to a traditional market and a trip to Cotopaxi Volcano.

  • Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands and have your first wildlife encounter.

    After breakfast, a short flight will take you to Baltra Island in the spectacular Galápagos archipelago. A transfer brings you straight to the port where your comfortable expedition ship MS Santa Cruz II awaits. 

    In the afternoon we’ll begin our exploration of the Galápagos Islands following the north shore of Santa Cruz towards the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón - or Dragon Hill - where we’ll land. The first part of the walk here passes by a brackish water lagoon that’s frequented by shorebirds and American Flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as a chance to get a first look at some land iguanas. 

    Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands and have your first wildlife encounter.

  • Day 4
    Isabela and Fernandina Islands, Galápagos

    Explore the coast by dinghy and set foot on the island of the marine iguanas.

    You’ll start your day at Punta Vicente Roca, on the north-western tip of Isabela Island. After breakfast, we’ll explore the coast by dinghy, learning about the dramatic geology of the area from our naturalist guides. 

    This site is a nesting place for several bird species, so look out for flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and boobies. Weather permitting, you’ll get to snorkel alongside the cliffs, where you might find green sea turtles, oceanic sun fish, and even fur seals.  

    In the afternoon, we’ll explore Fernandina, an island with a unique environment and a high density of marine iguanas. Scan the coast for sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, hawks and penguins. 

    Day 4
    Isabela and Fernandina Islands, Galápagos

    Explore the coast by dinghy and set foot on the island of the marine iguanas.

  • Day 5
    Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos

    Meet the famous giant tortoises of Galápagos at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

    Today, you’ll explore Santa Cruz Island. In the morning, we’ll disembark at Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.  

    The Station consists of a giant tortoise breeding centre and an impressive forest of prickly-pear cacti that’s home to many land birds. It also serves as the headquarters for scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. After the visit, we’ll head up to the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island for lunch. 

    You’ll have several options to choose from in the afternoon, which you can decide on beforehand with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you’ll return to Puerto Ayora and re-join MS Santa Cruz II. 

    Day 5
    Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos

    Meet the famous giant tortoises of Galápagos at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

  • Day 6
    Floreana Island, Galápagos

    Discover a bit of Galápagos history and look out for some underwater wildlife.

    After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a dinghy ride among the channels on Floreana’s north shore, before taking in the incredible views of the island from Baroness Cove. Later on, we’ll land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries.  

    After lunch, you’ll explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet in a dinghy or aboard a glass-bottom boat. Here, you can snorkel in one of the best spots in the archipelago. 

    From there, it’s onwards to Cormorant Point, where we’ll take a walk from an olivine-crystal beach to a brackish lagoon, where you can see American Flamingos, Pintail Ducks, and other birds. 

    Day 6
    Floreana Island, Galápagos

    Discover a bit of Galápagos history and look out for some underwater wildlife.

Departures

2023

January:
10.
24.
February:
7.
21.
March:
7.
21.
April:
4.
18.
May:
2.
16.
30.
June:
13.
27.
July:
11.
25.
August:
8.
22.
September:
5.
19.
October:
3.
17.
31.
November:
14.
28.
December:
12.
26.

2024

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
January:
9.
23.
February:
6.
20.
March:
5.
19.

What's included

Included in your voyage

Hotel   

  • Two hotel nights in Quito before the expedition cruise, including breakfast and dinner onDay 2. 

Flights 

  • Return flights in economy class between Quito andBaltra, andBaltra and Guayaquil  

Transfers   

  • Transfer from the hotel inQuito to QuitoAirport before the expedition cruise, transfers between Baltra Airport and ship 

Excursion 

  • Full day Nature Tour to Cotopaxi National Park, including lunch

Extras 

  • Galápagos Islands National Park admission fee 
  • Transit Control Card for Galápagos Islands
  • Access to airport lounge at Guayaquil or Quitoairports upon return from Galápagos Islands 

Expedition Cruise   

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice  
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) 
  • Complimentary tea and coffee 
  • Limited complimentary Wi-Fi for suite guests. Wi-Fi is available for purchase, but be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported. 
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board  
  • German- and English-speaking Expedition Team who guide activities and provide educational information onboard and ashore  
  • Welcome and farewell cocktails 

Onboard Activities  

  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has a library, microscopes and samples 
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research 
  • Professional onboard photographer gives tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos 
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs and gym  

Landing Activities  

  • Landings, hikes, coastal exploration, and activities including kayaking, snorkeling, and our glass-bottom boat   
  • Complimentary wetsuit rental for suite guests. Wetsuit rental available on request 

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights  
  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage handling 

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather and conditions 
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change 
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected onboard 
  • Washers and dryers available onboard for guest use 
  • Please read our health & safety guidelines 
2 people kayaking in front of the ship Santa Cruz II.
Your ship

MS Santa Cruz II

Year built 2002
Year of refurbishment 2021
Shipyard ASENAV Shipyard (CHL)
Passenger capacity 90
Gross tonnage 2664 T
Length 71,8 m
Beam 13,4 m
Speed 10.5 knots
2 people kayaking in front of the ship Santa Cruz II.

When you are exploring the Galápagos islands with us onboard the MS Santa Cruz II, you will enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in high quality surroundings. The small size - with a guest capacity of maximum of 90 allows for a cozy yet classy environment. You´ll easily feel at home on board.

Read more about MS Santa Cruz II

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