exterior of the santa cruz II ship

MS Santa Cruz II: Practical information and life on board

From passport information to onboard Wi-Fi, here's everything you need to know before your expedition cruise aboard MS Santa Cruz II

Practical information 

To board a Galapagos cruise, children below the age of six must present a release form signed by their parents or guardians at embarkation. Children under the age of 18 that are accompanied by just one parent/legal guardian must have a minor consent form signed by the other parent or, in the case of a legal guardian, both parents.

Changes in National Park policies, seasonal fluctuations, safety requirements, and weather conditions may occasionally cause schedule changes in itineraries without prior notice. These decisions are taken with guest safety in mind and in the interest of the islands’ conservation.

To board a Galapagos cruise, children below the age of six must present a release form signed by their parents or guardians at embarkation. Children under the age of 18 that are accompanied by just one parent/legal guardian must have a minor consent form signed by the other parent or, in the case of a legal guardian, both parents.

Travel to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands is not suitable for wheelchair users. Santa Cruz II has no wheelchair friendly ramps, cabins, or elevators.

Long-haul scheduled flights

The airfares offered are special package tour fares that cannot be altered or cancelled without charge. All flight package prices are based on specific booking classes. If the relevant booking class is not available, a supplement may apply. On most intercontinental flights and some continental flights, drinks, meals, and snacks are included in economy class. If not included, drinks and snacks will be available for purchase. We can offer upgrades to business class on some routes. Depending on the airline, this may also include seats with more legroom. Upgrades are not available on all flights. Baggage allowance varies between airlines and charges may apply if you exceed this limit, or they may refuse to carry it altogether. As a general rule, each guest can carry one piece of hand luggage weighing approx. 13-17 lbs on board (dimensions and weight depend on the respective airline). Your baggage allowance in Economy Class is set to 1PC (23 kg, 50.7 lbs) but may vary, depending on the flight connection. Please check with your airline. Additional transport guidelines can be found in the respective terms and conditions of our flight partners.

If you are planning to take a wheelchair or need assistance at the airport, please advise us at the time of booking.

Flights may be scheduled early in the morning or in the evening, as they are always adapted to our travel arrangements and cruises. Please note that some flights may be transfers or layovers. We reserve the right to change the time, route, and aircraft type. Our common flight partners are Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM/Air France, LATAM, and Iberia. Please note that a fee will apply for the rebooking or reimbursement of an already issued ticket before departure. A transfer or refund of a ticket after departure is not possible.

Any flight times advised at the time of booking are provisional and subject to change; please verify before you travel.

Peru, Ecuador, & Galapagos Islands

Flights in Peru and Ecuador are operated by LATAM.

LATAM´s economy class is available on flight stretches from/to Quito or Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands, which we offer in combination with your cruise and for flight stretches to/from Lima-Cusco (Peru), in combination with the Machu Picchu tour program. No upgrades in higher booking classes are possible.

You can travel with checked baggage with a maximum weight of 50 lbs and bring one carry-on bag on board with a maximum weight of 17 lbs.

Please note that this baggage allowance can differ from the airline you use for your long-haul flight to/from Lima (for the Machu Picchu program) and Quito/Guayaquil (for the Galapagos Islands).

We kindly ask you to check your flight baggage conditions and confirm that you are within the luggage allowances. Additional baggage can only be booked as a paid service at the check-in counter.

Any flight times advised at the time of booking are provisional and subject to change; please verify before you travel.

The standard of the hotels we use is equivalent to 4 to 5 stars, centrally located, or if more convenient for your booked arrangement, close to the airport. All rooms have private bathrooms. Single rooms may be smaller and less conveniently situated, and may be double rooms for solo occupancy or purpose-built single rooms. Hotels may charge for some facilities, such as saunas, for example. The price for the overnight hotel stay includes breakfast, if not stated differently on your confirmation.

An English-speaking physician and nurse are always on board. The ship has a small medical facility with essential equipment and medication to handle small emergencies. In the event of a serious emergency, the nearest hospital will be contacted. Medical consultations are free of charge, while some medicines will be charged to the passenger. Guests are strongly recommended to have personal travel protection/health insurance.

If you depend on any medication, remember to bring sufficient supplies to last through any unforeseen delays. We also recommend keeping your medication in your carry-on bag, properly labeled and with clear instructions for use. If you depend on vital medication, please inform the ship’s doctor upon arrival.

Hurtigruten Expeditions offers an optional Pre-Program to experience Machu Picchu. This can be added to your Hurtigruten journey starting from Quito. Please note programs are subject to change and a minimum number of participants. Guests with reduced mobility should request confirmation for Pre- and Post-Programs.

Passport and Visa

Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the required travel documents you will be asked to provide prior to boarding the ship. It is the sole responsibility of the guest to identify and obtain all required travel documents and have them available when necessary. A passport is the only valid identification. For Ecuador and Peru, your passport must be valid for more than six months after you return to your home country. It is each guest’s responsibility to ensure they comply with all visa travel document requirements at the time of travel.

Vaccines

No vaccines are currently required to enter Ecuador and Peru.

Please visit our website for additional information and/or the latest updates on entry requirements.

Transfers are included, as shown in your booking (please see your booking confirmation). Hurtigruten offers bus transfers from the airport to the pier and some hotels. Transfer times are set according to both the ship’s arrival and departure times and your arrival and departure times. Delays at the airport are possible. The duration of the airport transfer can vary, depending on the destination, but usually takes between 45–60 minutes (depending on traffic). Exceptions requiring a longer transfer time can occur, when needed due to a greater distance between the airport and the port. You will receive further information on your transfer with your travel documents.

The weather in the Galapagos is good year-round. Expect showers from January to April and make sure to bring a light rain jacket or poncho. These rains are usually not long and may be followed by strong sun and high humidity. It is best to wear light, cotton clothing in layers. June to October is dryer but cooler. A light windbreaker comes in handy, as well as the cotton clothing in layers. Months not mentioned here are transitional, showing a blend of the two conditions described above. They vary from year to year.

The climate in Quito is has a steady temperature year-round. Most rainfall occurs in April (rainy season). The warmest month is September with a maximum average temperature of 22°C (72°F). The coldest month is September with a maximum average temperature of 21°C (69°F). July is the driest month, while August is the sunniest month.

The climate in Cusco (starting point for Machu Picchu) is marked by two seasons: Rainy (from November to April) and dry (from May to October). The temperature is higher during rainy season (between 7° and 21° C) and lower during dry season (between 0° and 20° C).

Good walking shoes are recommended year round (tennis shoes or sneakers) for the hikes. Trails vary in difficulty, but most are volcanic in nature. In some trails and for wet landings, some guests prefer aqua-shoes.

Lightweight, breathable cotton trousers that are convertible to shorts have proven useful for all seasons. Make sure to bring one or two bathing suits. When travelling in high altitudes (Quito and Cusco) bring a warm sweater, gloves, scarf, and rain jacket.

Broad rim hats with a strap are advisable all year round.

For the cooler months, wetsuits (2mm shorties) are available for rent at a cost of USD $17 + tax per guest for the entire cruise.

Life on board

Guests who wish to bring bottles of wine and/or spirits aboard Santa Cruz II, will be charged a corkage fee of USD $27 + tax.

All cabins have the same size window and private facilities.

The tap water in your cabin is desalinized, but not drinkable. For your convenience, chilled drinking water dispensers are available in the Horizon, Expedition, and Sun decks.

Some cabins may experience some noise and vibration. This varies depending on the location of your cabin. Noise affects people differently—what may be a problem for one person may not be a problem for others.

Santa Cruz II will not provide keys to your cabins nor a cruise card. Cabins may be locked from the interior. Each cabin has a safety box and hallways are monitored by closed-circuit cameras.

Upon check-in, a shipboard account (SA) will be opened for you. You may register your credit card at this time to facilitate and speed up check-out procedures on your last day. Credit Cards accepted in Ecuador include: Diners Club, Visa, American Express, and Master Card. Our staff will request you to sign a receipt to acknowledge your consumption before charging it to your shipboard account.

The local currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. ATMs are available at the mainland airports, as well as in Baltra airport and in the towns of Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

No gratuities are expected on board. Suggested gratuities for services on land will be shared in your travel documents.

Each evening, the expedition leader and his/her team of guides holds a briefing regarding the next day´s activities. The program will then be displayed on the program screen in multiple areas visible throughout the vessel and on the main bulletin board.

Drones are not allowed in Galapagos. Flash photography is not allowed to be used on wildlife. Professional photography or filming requires a special permit from the National Park Directorate.

Electricity on board is 220V-110V, 60hz. Plugs are Type B (conventional US).

Santa Cruz II equipment includes sit-on-top kayaks, paddle boards, a glass-bottom boat, and snorkeling gear (mesh-bags, masks, fins, tubes, and life vests). All of these are free to use. These activities are regulated by the National Park and must always be done under the supervision of a licensed naturalist guide.

Guests must attend a short safety briefing before doing these activities. Safety briefings and release documents are mandatory for participation in these activities.

Wetsuits are available for rent in all sizes, from XXS to XXL, for around USD $17 + tax per guest, for the entire cruise. These are 2mm shorties.

All gear provided by the ship is cleaned and disinfected under the medical officer´s supervision. A brand-new mouthpiece is given to each snorkeler when using the ship´s gear.

All meals are crafted by our Le Cordon Bleu-certified Gastronomic Director. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are buffet style in the Beagle Restaurant on the Ocean deck. No reservations are required and the attire is always casual. We only ask that our guests not enter the dining area in bathing suits or barefoot.

Please provide Hurtigruten Expeditions or your travel agent with information regarding special requests for seating arrangements and dietary requirements.

House beer, wine, and soft drinks are available at lunch and dinner. Coffee, tea, and potable water purified on board is included throughout the day. Complimentary sparkling and still water is provided with all meals. Other beverages, including cocktails, and an upgraded beverage package, is also available for purchase.

Wi-Fi Internet connection is available onboard for an added cost of USD $40 + tax for the duration of the cruise. Nonetheless, due to the remote location of the Galapagos, please be aware that internet connection is intermittent and low bandwidth. Limited complimentary Wi-Fi access is available for suite guests.

Internet is only available in public areas.

All cell phones must be on airplane mode for all trails within the National Park.

Cell coverage is patchy, very low quality and restricted to the vicinity of populated Islands (Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands).

Santa Cruz II sails under the Ecuadorian flag. The working language on board is Spanish. Announcements for guests are given in English and may also be given in German, French, Spanish or Italian, depending on guests traveling. Lectures are held in different languages in different rooms.

Laundry service is not available on board Santa Cruz II. Two domestic-type washer/dryers are available 24 hours a day at the entrance to the Expedition Deck for free, together with instructions, baskets, and biodegradable detergent.

Our Natural History Library is located on the Expedition Lounge in the Expedition Deck. Please check with the naturalists for books to read during the cruise. After reading, guests are kindly requested to return the books to the library. You can find a selection of general subject and natural history books. Ask the Expedition Leader for advice on anything related to the Natural History of the Galápagos.

Santa Cruz II complies with GALAPAGOS BIOCONTROL AGENCY (ABG) and ISPS (International Ship and Port Security System) regulations, where all baggage is subject to X-ray/metal and organic/biosecurity inspection prior to boarding the aircraft in mainland Ecuador. These inspections include carry-on screening before and after the Ecuador-Galapagos flight.

Santa Cruz complies with international safety requirements and is a modern vessel suitable for sailing in the Galapagos.

The first day´s program includes a short but comprehensive mandatory briefing regarding safety on board and during landing operations. This briefing is followed by the compulsory boat drill exercise.

A separate safety briefing is held prior to the first snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding opportunity.

During the expedition, special safety regulations will apply for landings with the Expedition boats. Please follow the instructions given by the expedition leader and crew/staff. Before the first landing, we will provide special life jackets to all guests for use during landings

Mailboxes and stamps are available at the Baltra Airport and in Puerto Ayora. Be aware that delivery may take a long time.

If you are prone to seasickness, we recommend bringing pills that you are familiar with. A local brand of motion sickness pills is always available free of charge at the reception in the Horizon Deck.

Security

Hurtigruten complies with the ISPS-regulations (International Ship and Port Security System) where all luggage is subject to X-ray/metal detector inspection upon arrival at the port facility or ship. The ISPS regulations also include hand baggage scans in all ports of call throughout the course of the cruise.

Prohibited Items List:

  1. Illegal drugs, narcotics and illegal substances
  2. All firearms including replicas imitations, non-firing weapons, starting pistols and their components (including but not limited to the following items: Guns, operational or replicas, ammunition of all types, BB Guns, Compressed Air Guns, including Paint Ball Guns, Flare Guns, Gun Lighters, Gun / Firearms Parts, Pellet Guns, Spear Guns, Starter Pistols, Realistic Replicas of Firearms)
  3. All Explosives and replicas (including, but are not limited to, the following items: Blasting Caps, Dynamite, Fireworks, Pyrotechnics, Hand Grenades, Plastic Explosives, Bomb Making Components, Gun Powder)
  4. Pointed weapons and sharp objects (including, but not limited to, the following items: throwing stars, flick- or gravity knifes, daggers, knifes or scissors with blade longer than 7 cm (including folding pocket knives), open razors, Spears or Spears gun, archery equipment, crossbows, crossbow bolts and long bow arrows, sabers, swords, Skean Dhus or Kirpans, axes)
  5. Blunt weapons (including, but not limited to the following items: knuckle dusters, brass knuckles, clubs, coshes, batons, flails or nunchaku and other items adapted or intended for use as an offensive weapon)
  6. Restraining Devices (including, but not limited to the following items: handcuffs, leg or head restraining straps)
  7. High voltage stun devices and items containing incapacitating substances (including, but not limited to the following items: tazers, gas guns, tear gas spray, mace, phosphorus, acid and other dangerous chemicals that could be used to maim or disable, poison)
  8. Flammable  substances unless carried in limited quantities (including, but not limited to the following items: petrol, methylated spirits, lighter fuel, paints, thinners, large batteries etc.)
  9. Candles or incense
  10. Compressed gas tanks, bottles, cylinders (including, but not limited to the following items: dive tanks, propane tanks, large aerosol cans)
  11. Items containing heating elements (including, but not limited to the following items: Immersion Heaters, Heating blankets, infrared heaters, flat irons, water heaters, coffee machines, etc.)
  12. Remote-controlled or independent flying devices (including, but not limited to the following items: drones, toys, kites of any kind)
  13. Self-balancing hover boards, air wheels, scooters, Segway’s
  14. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB), ham radios, satellite phones,  transformers, laser and laser pointers, signaling jamming devices

The above list is not exhaustive. The SSO/Captain are authorised to make a professional judgment as to the legality of any item declared, detected or discovered on board.

Visit our small onboard boutique and find items ranging from handicrafts to everyday necessities. Find the perfect gift for your friends and family. Most of the items suggested in our packing list are available there for purchase.

Every day, in addition to the core activity (generally a hike), we offer a variety of activities approved by the national park:

  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking*
  • Paddleboarding
  • Coastal explorations (aboard our inflatable dinghies, otherwise known as pangas)
  • Glass-bottom boat rides
  • Biking (on Santa Cruz island only)

These activities will be explained in advance by the Expedition Leader and guides. A sign-up sheet is placed in the expedition room, Expedition deck. These activities cannot be booked in advance and are all free of charge. Please note the number of the participants per activity is limited.

Guests are respectfully reminded that our small boats (RIBs) enable both water-based exploration and safe landings in the Galapagos. Should the ocean conditions be rough, our Expedition leader and the Officer on duty may scout the landing site to determine the safety of the program. In the very rare event of a change in program, the Expedition leader will announce the best alternative to all guests through the PA system.

You will need to be fairly agile to board the small boats (RIBs), but there is otherwise no need to worry about travelling in them. The crew will show you how to get in and out of the small boats (RIBs) safely.

For our outings in the glass-bottom boat, guests will transfer from the small boats (pangas). To ensure everyone´s safety, please follow the Expedition Team’s instructions.

In some sites, snorkeling is done from the small boats (pangas) into the sea. To come back, a ladder is placed over the boat´s pontoon. As for all activities, follow the Expedition Team’s instructions.

There are three possible situations for landings on the Galapagos:

  1. NO LANDING: There is no trail on shore. Visitors are restricted to the small boats (pangas). You may wear water shoes, sandals, or go barefoot.
  2. WET LANDINGS: This type of disembarking process is commonly made right on the edge of the beach, with the panga operator moving the small craft up against the sandy shores to have guests slide off the pontoons near the stern of the zodiac. Consequently, guests will almost certainly get their feet wet in the process. Some guests prefer to wear water shoes for this type of landing, dry their feet at the beach with the special beach towels we provide (free of charge) and put on the sturdier footwear for the trail. The process is reversed on the way back.
  3. DRY LANDINGS: There is a dock or solid surface available for our guests to step off the dinghy without wetting their feet. You will always have the helping hands of the naturalist guides and/or the dinghy operator to safely disembark at the visitor site. Leave your cabin directly in your sturdy footwear.

Due to the fragile nature of the archipelago, guides request that all guests knock off any dirt attached to the soles of their footwear or dip them in the water before boarding the zodiac. Upon boarding Santa Cruz, fresh water hoses available at the stern platform make this easier.

Smoking on board is only permitted in designated areas on outside decks. Smoking is not permitted in cabins. Throwing cigarette butts overboard is strictly prohibited.

Please inform us as soon as possible if you have special requests (e.g. dietary or medical), and no later than eight weeks prior to your cruise departure. We will do our best to meet such requests but cannot guarantee to do so. Under no circumstance will any such request be accepted by us so as to form part of a contractual agreement.

Welcome greeting

On embarkation day, all guests will receive a complimentary Galapagos wildlife book and a reusable water bottle. Suite guests receive an additional welcome gift in their cabin.

Turn-down service

Suite guests will receive a daily turn-down service, including fresh towels and chocolate or similar on the pillow.

Wi-Fi

Suite guests receive limited complimentary Wi-Fi access. Additional Wi-Fi is available for purchase, but due to the remote location of the Galapagos, please be aware that internet connection is intermittent and low bandwidth.

Wetsuit rental

Wetsuit rental is complimentary for suite guests, on request.

Please be careful when walking on board the ship while at sea, especially when venturing out on deck. Please take note of warning signs for wet and slippery decks.