Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Travel information 7 days MS Santa Cruz II
Departures
33 departures between Dec 2022 and Mar 2024
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

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

Beautiful Quito and a volcano adventure

Your adventure begins with two nights at a hotel in Quito, one of South America’s most charming capitals. This UNESCO World Heritage City, filled with graceful Spanish-era architecture, is packed with cozy restaurants and small artisanal shops. From here, we journey to an active volcano, embark on a nature walk among stunning surroundings, and stop and visit a traditional open-air market.

Darwin’s islands of evolution

The Galápagos Islands are famously associated with the naturalist Charles Darwin. Our northern itinerary calls at Santiago, the adjacent islands of Rábida and Bartolomé, isolated Genovesa, and the centrally located Santa Cruz. The landings offer a wide variety of ecosystems and picturesque landscapes and provide great opportunities for seeing wildlife like sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, flamingos, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, and Darwin’s iconic finches.

Your expedition ship: MS Santa Cruz II

MS Santa Cruz II’s itineraries offer some of the best island coverage and wildlife viewing opportunities in the Galápagos Islands. 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 can 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 gear, including panga-style boats, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and paddleboards. There's even a glass-bottom boat. Safety and sustainability are paramount throughout your cruise, and the onboard medical officer is available 24/7.

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise
  • Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

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

    Your journey of discovery begins on the Equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 feet, 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. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with well-preserved Colonial architecture, including colorful plazas, magnificent churches, and stately monuments.

    If you have time in the evening, visit Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrian street with links to poets and other artists who have lived here. It’s lined with cafés and shops where there are many handicrafts available to admirenad purchase.

    Pre-Program

    Arrive in Quito a few days early and join us on a 4-day tour to Cloudforest Lodge in the Mashpi Reserve. This area is part of the Ecuadorian Chocó Rainforest, known as one of the world’s greatest areas for biodiversity. This optional extension is also available as Post-Program.

    Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

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

  • Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Get a taste for Ecuador with a visit to a traditional market and a trip to the 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 Sangolqui open-air market, where you can browse colorful stalls with unique handicrafts and sample different local specialties.

    Then, we’ll walk to the Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked at 12,800 feet in a high valley within Cotopaxi National Park. You’ll likely see herds of llamas on the slopes, and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird, and, with some 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 the Cotopaxi Volcano.

  • Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands, where your encounter with wildlife awaits.

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

    In the afternoon, we’ll land at Las Bachas beach, located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island. This glorious white-sand beach with turquoise waters is a great place to spot iconic Galápagos wildlife, such as flamingos and sea turtles. The beach’s name, ‘baches’ means ‘barges,’ comes from the sunken barges left after World War II. Swim or snorkel here before heading back to the ship for a welcome cocktail and a briefing about the next day’s adventures.

    Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands, where your encounter with wildlife awaits.

  • Day 4
    Santiago Island, Galápagos

    Explore Santiago Island and see its wild residents and impressive rock formations.

    Today, you’ll explore Santiago Island’s pristine beaches and picturesque landscapes. Take in the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove on the northwest coast, home to a large number of marine birds and sea lions. Immerse yourself in the scenery through a range of water activities and marvel at fantastic rock formations such as ‘Elephant Rock’ and ‘The Bishop’.

    In the afternoon, we’ll head to Puerto Egas, one of the best visitor sites on the island. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to see a colony of fur sea lions and exotic birdlife on an excursion Or, you can swim or snorkel along the rocky shorelines, typically in the company of marine turtles.

    Day 4
    Santiago Island, Galápagos

    Explore Santiago Island and see its wild residents and impressive rock formations.

  • Day 5
    Rábida Island and Bartolomé Island, Galápagos

    See some amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and try out the glass-bottom boat.

    Your day starts on tiny Rábida Island, located off the southern shore of Santiago Island. Take a thrilling panga-boat ride along the coast or join an excursion to explore the island’s mesmerizing, red-tinted sand beach. Soak up the sights and sounds of a sea lion colony and keep an eye out for marine iguanas, mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, and several species of Darwin’s finches.

    In the afternoon, we’ll sail to the golden sands of Bartolomé Island, dominated by the imposing Pinnacle Rock. Swim or snorkel from the beach here or discover colorful marine life from our glass-bottom boat. You may even spot some Galápagos Penguins on the shore. Hike up to the summit of the island for fantastic views.

    Day 5
    Rábida Island and Bartolomé Island, Galápagos

    See some amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and try out the glass-bottom boat.

  • Day 6
    Genovesa Island, Galápagos

    Start the morning with a climb to better see this paradise for birdlife.

    Today, you explore Genovesa Island. The morning starts with a steep but short climbo—only 90 feet—up a flight of stairs to reach a flat and rocky plateau. At the plateau, you can walk along comfortably and check out large colonies of Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, and Storm Petrels. Afterward—or instead—hop into a kayak for an aquatic adventure!

    In the afternoon, we’ll land at the beautiful beach that fringes Darwin Bay for a swim. After this refreshing dip, take a stroll and observe hundreds of island birds. You can also swim, snorkel, kayak, or just take relax on the beach.

    Day 6
    Genovesa Island, Galápagos

    Start the morning with a climb to better see this paradise for birdlife.

  • Day 7
    Santa Cruz & Baltra Island, Ecuador

    Your cruise has come to an end, so enjoy a slow goodbye at the giant tortoise sanctuary.

    We’ll start our last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your baggage will be taken to the airport while you visit the tortoise reserve. After a dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the island’s higher region, behold the last highlight of the cruise: giant tortoises in the wild.

    The windward slopes of the island are home to two species of giant tortoise. These lush highlands include dense forests of Galápagos daisies, orchids, and bromeliads, and several endemic land birds. After this visit, we’ll take a transfer directly to the Baltra Airport. Farewell to Galápagos.

    Post-Programs

    Explore more of Ecuador on one of our optional Post-Programs. Join us as we travel to Napo River, in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Fly to Coca and spend three nights in a lodge surrounded by the beautiful rainforest. Observe and learn about its flora and fauna through different activities.

    Or, travel from Quito to the Mashpi Reserve, a unique habitat and ecosystem. Here, you’ll Enjoy a three-night stay in a luxurious Cloudforest Lodge and discover the breathtaking area from there (also available as Pre-Program).

    Both Post-Programs include two overnight hotel stays in Quito.

    Day 7
    Santa Cruz & Baltra Island, Ecuador

    Your cruise has come to an end, so enjoy a slow goodbye at the giant tortoise sanctuary.

Departures

2022

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
December:
31.

2023

January:
14.
28.
February:
11.
25.
March:
11.
25.
April:
8.
22.
May:
6.
20.
June:
3.
17.
July:
1.
15.
29.
August:
12.
26.
September:
9.
23.
October:
7.
21.
November:
4.
18.
December:
2.
16.
30.

2024

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
January:
13.
27.
February:
10.
24.
March:
9.
23.

Available Promotions on This Itinerary:

  • Save up to 20% + $500 Air Credit

    Book an expedition cruise aboard the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition ship or any of our other ships to destinations, and you’ll save up to 20% as well as receive up to a $1,000 air credit per person!
    See Special Offer
  • Kids Save up to 50%

    Young Explorers Save up to 50% off
    See Special Offer
  • New Season

    Life changing experiences start here. Discover our new itineraries for 2023 and 2024.
    See Special Offer

What's Included

Included in Your Expedition

Hotel  

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

Flights

  • Roundtrip flights in economy class (from Quito to Baltra, and Baltra to Guayaquil).

Transfers  

  • Transfer from the hotel in Quito to the Quito Airport before the expedition cruise, and transfers between the Baltra Airport and the 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 the airport lounge at the Guayaquil or Quito Airport upon return from Galápagos Islands

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Beagle Restaurant, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water)
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • English-speaking Expedition Team to guide activities and provide educational information, on board and ashore 
  • Welcome and farewell cocktails

Onboard activities

  • Use of the ship’s Science Corner, which has a library and samples
  • The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research projects
  • An onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs and gym

Landing Activities

  • Landings, hikes, coastal exploration, and activities that include kayaking, snorkeling, and our glass-bottom boat
  • Complimentary wetsuit rental

Not Included In Your Expedition

  • International flights
  • Travel protection
  • Baggage handling

Notes

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 2,664 T
Length 236 ft
Beam 44 ft
Speed 10.5 knots
2 people kayaking in front of the ship Santa Cruz II.

When you are exploring the Galápagos Islands with us aboard the Santa Cruz II, you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in premium surroundings. The ship’s small size (with a maximum guest capacity of 90) offers a cozy yet sophisticated environment. It’s easy to feel at home on board.

Read more about MS Santa Cruz II

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