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Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

Northern Galápagos Cruise

5 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Santa Cruz II

Length

5 Days

Ship category

Premium

Ship type

Small Ship

Capacity

90 Passengers

Northern Galápagos Cruise

15 Reviews

Trip highlights

Snorkel with Hammerheads at Darwin Bay

A bird lover's paradise: Hiking on Genovesa

Mars-like landscapes at Rábida

Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz

The Galapatours experience

Excursions that no other ship offers

Amazing experience for children & families

English-speaking guide for all activities

Lectures in the evening

Get to know the highlights of Galápagos with this Naturalist cruise on board the beautiful Santa Cruz II! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: On Genovesa, breathtaking dinghy rides, stunning views and close encounters with the most iconic birds of the Archipelago await you. Blue-footed Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and many more species can be seen here. During your time spent on Rábida, you will have the opportunity to watch wild Flamingos and walk on a blood-red sandy beach. During your time on Santa Cruz, you will have the chance to observe the famous Galápagos Giant Tortoises in the wild and learn more about the preservation and scientific study of these amazing animals. On Santiago, an island formerly inhabited by pirates, you will be able to enjoy hikes and dinghy rides.

Your ship: Santa Cruz II

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise
Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise
Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise
  • Purpose-built adventure vessel, perfect for Galápagos;
  • One of the most family-friendly cruises;
  • Cordon-Bleu trained chefs offer some of the best cuisine afloat;
  • Exclusive excursions - visit places other boats simply can’t.

The Santa Cruz II is a large, modern and purpose-built ship for adventurous travel to remote places. With only 50 cabins spread over 5 decks she’s one of the top 5 vessels in the region for passenger space, and this means you can have all the modern amenities of a larger boat and yet still have an intimate and personal adventure. With a 3:2 guest to crew ratio … Read more about Santa Cruz II

Cabins

Explorer Family
Horizon Deck Explorer Family Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Explorer Twin
Panorama Deck Explorer Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Double twin
Horizon Deck Explorer Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Double twin
Expedition Deck Explorer Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Voyager Twin
Horizon Deck Voyager Cabin

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Darwin Suite
Darwin Suite

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.

Flight to Baltra XL1411
Popular

1 Day

4.6

(54)

Flight from Mainland Ecuador to Galápagos

Important: Please do inquire with us for your flights to Galápagos! The timing of your flights is crucial for a smooth operation of your cruises. Together, we must ensure that you arrive well before the departure of the cruise - better even on the exact same flight as the other passengers on board your ship. Therefore: Should you chose to book your own flights from Mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) to Galápagos (Baltra Airport or San Cristóbal Airport) and arrive late to Galápagos, then we will not assume any responsibility. The ship might not wait for you, in which case you will **miss your cruise without right to compensation**.

From

USD 299

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

5.0

(1)

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Baltra Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
Baltra: Arrival at Baltra airportBaltra: Arrival at Baltra airport + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104 + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

Welcome to Galápagos! Once your flight has landed and you went through the immigration process, you'll be met in the Arrivals lounge by our English-speaking guide who will take you to your transfer vehicle for the short journey to your waiting ship.

Baltra Island, where your arrival airport is, was used as an important Air Force base in the Second World War. This is the primary airport for the Galápagos Islands and you'll be rubbing shoulders with fellow tourists, international naturalists and conservationists, researchers and academics, and Galápagos residents alike. The airport has been built as a "green" airport, and as well as using recycled materials in its construction, it's special design keeps the buildings relatively cool without the need for any air conditioning.

Once on board your ship, you will be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing as well as an important safety drill. After this you'll be shown to your cabin. While you're served a well-deserved and delicious lunch, the captain will cast off and your adventure truly starts.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days prior to the cruise in Puerto Ayora and want to do the cruise later this is no problem at all. The transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra is very easy.

Santa Cruz Bachas Beach
Bachas Beach

The name "Bachas Beach" (or "Las Bachas" in Spanish) actually comes from a mispronunciation! After the second world war, American forces stationed on Santa Cruz abandoned some of their barges there - "bachas" was the nearest some of the locals could get to pronouncing the English word, and the name has stuck. You can still see the remains of one of the floating docks the soldiers set up on one of the two beaches that make up Las Bachas Beach.

This beach is covered in white coral sand, and it's a major nesting site for Galápagos green turtles. There's also a lagoon just behind the sand which often hosts flamingos, ducks and migratory birds. You can also often find marine iguanas feeding on the rocky outcrops near the tide line.

The main beach is perfect for swimming, being very sheltered from the ocean swells, and is a very pleasant spot to cool off and to indulge in some snorkeling.

Santiago Buccaneer Cove
Santiago - Buccaneer Cove - nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

Sited on the northwest coast of Santiago Island, Buccaneer Cove wasn't named as a romantic fancy, but because it actually was used extensively by pirates, privateers, buccaneers and whalers to set anchor and head ashore.

Of all the Galápagos Islands, Santiago was most frequently used as a stop over as it provided easy access to fresh water, wood, and meat. Used since the 1600s as a staging point, the easy-to-catch Giant Tortoises that lived here became a useful source of protein for the sailors. There was a more strenuous journey required up to the highlands in search of water, but the sheltered cove made this a better location than some of the more open coast elsewhere.

Today the steep cliffs above the cove are filled with nesting seabirds, wheeling in the air above the deep red sands of the beach. This is a good site for snorkeling or to stroll along the beach drinking in the sights and sounds of the Galápagos, and you will often find yourself sharing the sand and rocks with sea lions or Galápagos Fur Seals.

Santiago Egas Port
Santiago - Egas Port - nemo i galapagos cruise - gal00

Puerto Egas (Port Egas) is a sheltered landing site at the southern end of James Bay on the northwestern coast of Santiago. This landing site is the trailhead for two hiking paths.

The first trail runs along the coast to visit the so-called "Fur Seal Grottos". The Galápagos Fur Seals like to seek shade from the equatorial sun, and they prefer rocky shores with caves or other nooks and crannies in which they can keep cool. The grottos here are perfect for them, and the tidal pools are also popular with Galápagos Marine Iguanas who can be seen feeding in and around them.

The second trail from Egas Port heads inland to the "Salt Mine Volcano". This hike is just under 2 miles long and takes you to the rim of a salt mine crater. This "mine" is actually a small volcanic cone that is filled with a salt water lagoon that dries up in the dry season. At several points in the 20th century individuals or companies attempted to mine salt from it, but without commercial success. The name of your landing site is after the owner of the last company to try salt mining here, Hector Egas.

The lagoon is often home to Galápagos flamingos and other birds, and the wonderful Galápagos Hawk can often be seen circling above this area.

Rábida A walk on Rabida Island
A walk on Rabida Island

Rabida is a small, steeply-sloped island with red-sand shores, and was originally called Jervis. Despite its small size, Rabida has one of the highest concentrations of volcanic features in the Galápagos, and it's thanks to the iron-rich lava deposits that its sands and soils are so red.

After a wet landing on the northern coast you will often see Galápagos Sea Lions and marine iguanas around the beach, especially near the sheltered caves in hot weather. Just behind the beach is a nesting site for brown pelicans, who use the saltbush as cover. Rabida is one of the best spots in the archipelago to observe pelicans. Sometimes flamingos can also be seen in the lagoon here.

There is a short hiking trail that leads further inland through Opuntias where there are good opportunities to see land birds like Darwin's finches, Galápagos Doves and Galápagos Mockingbirds.

After your trip inland you can then have a relaxing swim and enjoy some snorkeling, which is very good in the clear waters off the beach. While you swim, you'll be able to see Blue-Footed Boobies taking off over your head from their cliff-top roosts.

Bartholomew A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew, Galápagos

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Genovesa Prince Philip's Steps
Prince Philip's Steps

Named after Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who visited the Galápagos Islands twice, the Prince Philip's Steps pier uses natural rock formations to allow you to land and admire the variety of seabirds that inhabit Genovesa. With careful steps on the wet and slippery lower rocks, you begin your hike near a small colony of Galápagos sea bears before reaching the beautiful vantage point further up with views of the lava plains.

The birdlife will surround you from all sides and you will enjoy the sight and sounds of many wonderful species, including blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies, but also small Galápagos owls and Galápagos pigeons.

Genovesa Darwin Bay
Darwin Bay

Darwin Bay is a must-visit site for birdwatchers. Starting with a landing on a beautiful white coral beach you are able to follow an easy half-mile trail that will take you through bird-filled mangroves. Species that can be seen on this part of the trail include Nazca Boobies, Galápagos red-footed Boobies, and Swallow-Tailed gulls.

As the path continues you will find tidal pools - favourite spots for Galápagos Sea Lions to lazily swim and play. At the path's end you will come to the top of a cliff which will reward you with a spectacular view.

Santa Cruz El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve
El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

The inland areas of Santa Cruz provide fantastic opportunities to get close to wild Galápagos giant tortoises. These wonderful creatures can be seen roaming around in the agricultural fields, and also in the famous El Chato Tortoise Reserve, where the native vegetation is preserved.

The trail to the Reserve begins at Santa Rosa, about an hour's drive from Puerto Ayora, and during the dry season this is a haven for Giant Tortoises as they migrate from coastal to highland areas, and you can observe the natural behaviours of these truly wild animals.

There is a pond at El Chato that is often surrounded by tortoises, and sometimes even filled with them as they enjoy wallowing in the cool water. Surrounding the ponds are hundreds of acres of natural highland pasture and native Scalesia forest where you may encounter owls, Darwin’s finches, Vermilion Flycatchers, and Galápagos Rails.

For many Galapatours guests the highlight of their trip is following our expert guide into the ancient forest and then hearing heavy footsteps and crunching noises ahead, finally rounding a corner to see a truly wild Galápagos Giant tortoise doing what they have done for millennia before humans came to Galápagos.

Baltra Transfer to Baltra airport
Transfer from ship to Baltra airport (organized)

Your Galápagos adventure ends with the arrival of your ship back at Baltra Island. After what many guests describe as an emotional goodbye to your ship and its crew, you'll board the transfer vehicle that will take you on the short journey to the airport in plenty of time for your flight back to the mainland.

Baltra airport serves both Guayaquil or Quito, and we can arrange flights that fit best with your onward plans - particularly if you are continuing a South America tour. Speak to one of our travel experts as we are often able to beat even internet pricing on flights to and from Galápagos.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days in Galápagos after your cruise this is no problem at all. Just let us know and we will arrange for the logistics. The transfer from Baltra to Puerto Ayora, for example, is very easy.

Flight to Baltra XL1411
Popular

1 Day

4.5

(50)

Flight from Galápagos to Mainland Ecuador

Please inquire with us for your flight from Galápagos (Baltra Airport or San Cristóbal Airport) to Mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil). Note: As Galápagos is a protected National Park, there are some regulations that airlines shall fulfill. For this reason, there are no direct international flights to and from Galápagos. Whether you're traveling from the United States, Europe or anywhere else, you should book an international flight to Guayaquil or Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and then travel on to Galápagos on a separate flight.

From

USD 299

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

5.0

(1)

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Info

Single Cabin Supplement

When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.

What's included

All meals onboard (International and Ecuadorian Cuisine). Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice - please ask us about your needs.

Snorkeling sessions - whenever possible and allowed by the National Park.

Extensive Zodiac Rides to explore the shorelines and mangrove forests from close up.

All transport to and from the ship: Pick-up by your guide directly from the airport (if you arrive at the first day) and drop-off by your guide directly to the airport (if you leave on the last day).

English-speaking naturalist guides with you at all times during the excursions.

Briefings in the evening, during which your guide will explain what you can expect from your next day.

Lectures in the evenings about a variety of topics, including Geology, Marine Biology, Natural History, Human History, and more.

Entry costs to museums, research stations, breeding stations, etc.

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project.

What's not included

Galápagos National Park Fee, payable in cash upon arrival at the airport in Galápagos (please see our FAQ)

INGALA Luggage Check Fee at the airport on the mainland: 20USD (please see our FAQ)

Alcoholic beverages onboard (please see our FAQ)

Bottled soft drinks onboard (Coke, Sprite etc.)

Tips & Gratuities for your Guide and Crew (please see our FAQ)

Travel Health Insurance

Reviews

Ricky Smith

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

Premium

Great ship and staff Excellent staff and cabins..........great time..........did the 5 day, 4 nights April 2017........plan to return in the future for a longer stay...If you want a great ship and staff book the Santa Cruz II........... Feedback from: https://goo.gl/hRBSdh

Sarahy

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

Premium

Fabulous cruise! I highly recommend this cruise. The staff and naturalists are outstanding. The food is top notch all 3 meals per day and some of the dinners were truly works of art--coconut fish and crab stuffed fish, for example. The desserts were not at the same level and way too heavy on the mouses, but the meals were so satisfying, it didn't matter. The Galapagos are a treasure and seeing the wildlife was unforgettable. The excursions are well organized and there are often several options (panga ride vs kayak vs snorkel). You really can't get the most out of the trip if you can't walk on uneven ground (including climbing large stone steps, hopping over lava crevices, and dealing with loose gravel) and/or snorkel. This is not a criticism of the cruise, just a warning for those with mobility issues that this might not be the optimal choice. For those of us lucky enough to still have 2 good knees, it was a blast. We saw birds and animals present nowhere else right up close and had plenty of time to take it all in. I hope to come back someday!

LDEE

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

Premium

A Grand Adventure As anyone who has travelled on this vessel can tell you, this is not a traditional cruise. It is a port intensive, early wake-up call, adventure to some very unique islands. First, embarkation does not involve issuance of your cruise card -there are none. Instead you are transferred to the dock by very helpful ship-based staff members. Once at the dock, you don your life jacket and head to the ship via "panga." Pangas are zodiacs boats- rubber vessels with flexible flooring and an outboard motor. These pangas, you will soon learn, are an essential part of the cruise. Virtually all the islands lack docks or even approachable landing areas other then some rock formations that allow for a rubber boat to beach. Without the pangas, there is no cruise. In fact, all the ships supplies, and your luggage as well, will be transported via panga. The adventure begins within hours. Each time we boarded a panga in groups (by language) and headed ashore with our naturalist who walked us through the trails and let us know what we were seeing. Each shore visit lasts from about 2.5 hours to about 3.5 hours and there are no bathrooms on most of the islands. Meals are served in the main dining room, buffet at breakfast and lunch, and waiters at dinner. The captain and his staff always have a table in the dining room as well. There are several choices at each meal. At about 300 feet with about 100 cabins, the Santa Cruz II is one the largest vessels in the Galapagos, but you can be back in your cabin from any part of the ship in a matter of seconds. There are no elevators and the stairs are quite steep. Hold on please! Now the magic. Since the animals in the Galapagos are protected by law from people, and since they have no natural predators and are isolated, they have absolutely no fear of people. As a result, the seal will lie in your path and not move. The iguanas will not bite you or even pretend to be aggressive. The birds will not fly away on your approach.

FAQs

Under Ecuadorian law, if you are only temporarily visiting the Galápagos then you are exempted from the requirement to pay any customs charges on items that you are bringing in to the country. This includes new or used portable electronics such as cameras, laptops, music players, etc.

You MUST NOT bring any agricultural or plant materials or any unprocessed food products to the islands. To avoid problems at customs and bag check we suggest only traveling to Galápagos with pre-wrapped snack products such as chocolate bars, etc. Food is plentiful and freshly cooked on your Galapatours cruise, with a wide range of choice on offer to suit all tastes - you really don't need to bring anything with you!

As the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, and all flights to the Galapagos depart from mainland Ecuador, you will need to enter Ecuador first.

Entering Ecuador: Every traveler is responsible for checking the individual visa requirements for their nationality. We recommend using https://www.passportindex.org/ to find out if you need a visa for Ecuador. At the time of writing, U.S. citizens do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. Similarly, visitors from the UK, Germany, and most other European countries do not require a visa for the Galapagos Islands. Upon entering the country, you will be given a visa stamp that permits you to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days. This also applies to many other countries, but please verify the current visa regulations yourself before booking any tickets. In any case, your passport must be valid for at least six more months from the date of entry into Ecuador. You will also need to show proof of onward or return travel out of Ecuador to customs and immigration officials upon arrival; this can be a return or onward airline ticket. If you do not meet these requirements, you may not be allowed to enter the country.

Entering Galapagos: To enter Galápagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador.

This is a multi-layered question, that we have tried to answer in various articles. Please click on the corresponding links to learn more about the different topics. To recap:

  • Passport & Visa: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. Click here to read more.
  • Luggage Check: When leaving Ecuador's main land, tourists' luggage will be checked for restricted items by the Tourist Control and Certification (TCC) to ensure the preservation of the islands' unique environment and wildlife. This check costs 20USD and is done at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, before checking in for your flight to Galapagos.
  • Entrance Fee: A Galapagos National Park entrance fee must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos.
  • Travel Insurance: A travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses. is highly recommended, and even obligatory on board of some ships.
  • Vaccinations: At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galápagos trip.

The Galápagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. For foreign visitors, the entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (50 USD for children under 12 years old), but will be increased to 200 USD per person (100 USD for children) from 1 August 2024 onwards. If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information.

Important: This fee must be paid, in cash, at the airport of arrival. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to leave the terminal - so please make sure you have the means to pay the Galápagos entrance fee! Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

The entrance fees collected will be allocated to various local entities to support sustainability and community development in the Galápagos Islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

  • 40% to the Galápagos National Park
  • 20% to Galápagos Municipalities
  • 10% to the National Institute
  • 10% to Galápagos Province Local Government
  • 5% to the National Navy
  • 5% to the Ministry of Environment
  • 5% to Quarantine and Pest Control
  • 5% to the Galápagos Marine Reserve

For more information about the entrance fee structure and the distribution of funds, please visit the official website of the Galápagos National Park Administration.

Entrance Fee Galapagos National Park

To protect the vulnerable and unique Galapagos habitats and wildlife, no non-native plant or animal species must be allowed to arrive on the archipelago. SICGAL is the government department responsible for ensuring the islands are protected in this way.

After you have received your TCT/TCC card at the airport in Ecuador, you should proceed to the SICGAL booth. There you will be asked to fill out a form and may have your luggage examined.

To make sure you don't have any trouble here, please do not attempt to travel with any foods other than small quantities of pre-wrapped snack items like chocolate bars or similar, and certainly don't have any plants or plant materials in your bags. Once checked, you will receive an approval label to attach to your bags, and you can then make your way to your airline check in.

Arrival at Quito Airport: SICGAL Luggage Check and TCC Card for your flight to Galápagos
SIGAL Luggage Check at Quito Airport

Galapagos boasts two airports on Baltra and San Cristóbal Islands, offering daily flights from Quito and Guayaquil. Departing in the early morning, the journey from Quito to Galapagos takes approximately 2.5 hours, often including a brief stopover in Guayaquil. The direct flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos clocks in at around 1.5 hours. Three airlines currently serve Galapagos - Avianca, TAME and LATAM.

To mitigate any potential issues arising from flight delays or cancellations on your international leg, it is advisable to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil the night before your Galapagos departure. Ask us for advice on Ecuador hotels when you book your cruise with us.

Galapagos Flights
Northern Galápagos Cruise

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