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Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

Western 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

Western Galápagos Cruise

15 Reviews

Trip highlights

The best snorkeling in Galapagos: Vicente Rock Point

Thousands of Marine Iguanas at Espinosa Point

Scientific insights at C. Darwin Research Station

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: Fernandina, the youngest island, will blow your mind with its rugged lava landscapes. The youngest island in the archipelago, it is still being formed by volcanic eruptions and makes for a wonderful, otherworldly contrast to the other islands. During our visit to Floreana, you will have the opportunity for some great dinghy rides, extensive snorkeling, and learning more about the fascinating human history of the Galápagos. Isabela, the biggest of all islands in the Galápagos, offers you fantastic hikes, views and arguably some of the best snorkeling spots in the Archipelago. 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.

CO2

We compensate all 1.3 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.

Your ship: Santa Cruz II

Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise
Baltra
Isabela
  • 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.

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

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

Flight to Baltra XL1411

1 Day

4.6

(18)

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

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

Day 1
AM
Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
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 Dragon Hill
Dragon Hill

Dragon Hill is the site of a success story in the history of Galápagos conservation. In 1975 almost the entire population of land iguanas in this part of northeast Santa Cruz was wiped out by packs of feral dogs. The Charles Darwin Research Center swung into action with an emergency breeding and rearing program for land iguanas. The program was extremely successful, and the last captive-bred land iguana was released from the breeding center onto Dragon Hill in 1991. Iguanas continue to be released here every 3 or 4 years from other breeding centers in the Galápagos to ensure the continued success of the Dragon Hill Iguanas.

As well as being the landing site to visit the Hill, the rocky shoreline here is a great snorkeling site where you can swim with green turtles, sharks and rays. A trail leads inland past two saltwater lagoons which often play host to flamingos. As you continue to circle Dragon Hill on the trail you'll be able to see land iguanas in the wild, and you can find their burrows all along the path.

As well as the land iguanas, the area around Dragon Hill is full of other species including Darwin's Finches, Galápagos Mockingbirds, and the native Opuntia cactus. This is one of the longer walking trails, and your Galapatours guide will recommend you use good footwear, especially as the trail can be uneven in places and gets slippery and muddy after wet weather.

Isabela Vicente Rock Point
Vicente Rock Point

Galapatours clients regularly rate Vicente Rock Point as one of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving sites in Galápagos, or perhaps even in the world! There is no landing here, and snorkeling is done directly from the boats. The scenery around the Point is stunning - the remains of two ancient volcanoes made this formation, and the cliffs and caves around the bay provide an amazing backdrop.

The bay is well sheltered from ocean swells, making it ideal for snorkelers of any experience. The cold-water currents bring a rich stock of food to these waters, and the bay around Vicente Rock Point is often home to feeding frenzies, with groups of whales, dolphins, Galápagos Sea Lions, tuna, Blue-footed Boobies and other marine birds all feeding together, making for spectacular sights.

Many boats also take visitors on a panga ride along the shore, offering the chance to explore some of the caves and to encounter some of the other species such as Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and a small colony of Galápagos Fur Seals.

Fernandina Espinosa Point
Espinosa Point

Fernandina Island has never been colonised by any non-native species, and this makes it ones of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. Coupled with its young age (Fernandina was only formed a few hundred thousand years ago) this makes a visit to this Galápagos island very special indeed.

At Espinosa Point on the northeastern shore of Fernandina the vista is dominated by "La Cumbre", the volcano whose lava fields formed the island. A visit to Espinosa Point is high on many people's list thanks to the number of iconic unique Galápagos species you will see here. As well as the noisy and fun-loving Galápagos Sea Lions, Espinosa Point is a great place to see Marine Iguanas, the wonderful Galápagos Penguins and the unique and endangered Galápagos Flightless Cormorant. If you are very lucky and keep your eyes skyward you may also catch sight of a Galápagos Hawk circling overhead looking for its next meal.

Santa Cruz Charles Darwin Research Station

The world famous Charles Darwin Research Center is just a 10 minute walk from downtown Puerto Ayora, and is the home of the non-profit Charles Darwin Foundation.

Inside, you'll find exhibits about the geography, geology and climate of the Galápagos, and the evolution of her unique species. There is also lots of information on the Foundation's current conservation and education programs.

As well as conducting it's own key research, the Charles Darwin Center also hosts international scientists, and supports the work of government agencies like the Galápagos National Park.

Next door is the site of the Galápagos' first giant tortoise breeding center, where pioneering work has been done since 1965 for the preservation of these species. Here you can see newly hatched babies, up to juveniles and full-grown adults ready to be released back into the wild.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Highlands
El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

Santa Cruz is the only island on the Galápagos that allows you to travel through every habitat type that exists in the archipelago. This makes the journey north from the coast up into the highlands a fantastic opportunity to experience the breadth of life that exists on these islands.

Your bus journey starts from Puerto Ayora on the coast and you slowly start to climb through the agricultural zone where open fields begin to give way to lush, green, mist-covered forests. This is a marked contrast to many of the islands which are at much lower elevation and much more arid. This rich verdant landscape is predominantly made up of dense Scalesia forest.

Your expert Galapatours guide will stop several times along the route to allow you to explore various different sites. Among the stops will be a Giant Tortoise reserve, and also a visit to the famous lava tubes. Over half a mile long, a walk through these natural volcanic features is eerie and unforgettable.

Also along the way you will stop for refreshments, and you'll be able to try locally-grown Galápagos coffee - we think it's among the best we've ever tasted!

Floreana Post Office Bay
Post Office Bay

Floreana, like several of the Galápagos Islands, has a history of whaling. During voyages of many months, whaling ships would call here to replenish stocks of food and water, and the sailors were often keen to send news to loved ones that they were still safe. A tradition grew up here where sailors would leave a letter addressed home, hopeful that a ship heading back to port would pick it up and deliver it for them. This tradition of leaving letters and cards, and picking up others addressed to your home port meant that the location of this letter drop became known as "Post Office Bay".

Decades later, the unofficial Floreana post office is still very active - why not leave a card of your own, or see if you could take one back to your home town for someone else?! As well as this charming tradition, Post Office Bay boasts a pleasant beach, and there is a short hiking trail down to a cave, which is actually a lava tube that runs down to the sea.

You will also have the opportunity to take a Panga through some of the nearby coves and mangroves from which you could see sharks, rays, and sea lions swimming around you.

Floreana Baroness View Point
Baroness View Point

Located on the northern coast of Floreana Island, the Baroness Viewpoint is a wonderful place to soak in the beauty and diversity of the Galápagos.

This visitor point is named after the "Baroness" Eloise Bosquet de Wagner Wehrhorn (her claim to be a member of the Austrian royal family was never fully confirmed) who came to the island with her two - some say three - lovers in the 1930s. After some disagreements with two other eccentric settler families, the Baroness and one of her lovers disappeared. Local legend has it that murder was involved…

Away from this exotic intrigue, the view point has some lovely and easy walking trails that allow you to get really close to the bird and plant life of the island.

Floreana Cormorant Point
Cormorant Point

Cormorant Point is on the northern tip of Floreana, and you'll land on a beach that sits between two volcanic cones. The sand on one of the beaches here has a noticeably olive-green color. This is due to a much higher than usual concentration of olivine crystals in the sand. Another beach is made up mainly of coral sand and is almost a brilliant white in comparison.

This Galápagos site has a large lagoon which is favored by flamingos, their pink coloring contrasting with the green sand. There is some good snorkeling here, and you can often spot rays in the shallows. There is a one mile hike available that takes you to higher ground and provides great views over the lagoon, and to both beaches on either side of the Point.

Floreana Champion Islet
Champion Islet

Champion Islet is considered one of the best snorkeling sites in the entire archipelago. This small island was originally named after a famous whaler, Andrew Champion, and in its beautiful waters you can see Galápagos Sea Lions, Green Turtles, Hammerheads, Rays, and many colorful reef fish.

Champion Islet isn't only for those who seek out marine life. On shore you can find Galápagos Penguins, Blue-Footed Boobies and Frigatebirds to name but a few. One very special resident is the Floreana Mockingbird. This species is extremely rare, with only an estimated 100 individuals left - of which only 30-40 of them are left on this island. It is unknown how much longer this fragile species can survive.

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

(20)

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

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.

We offset 100% of all CO2 emissions caused by your trip, including all transport, your cruise and your flights (should you choose to book them through us). Carbon offset is achieved through a Gold Standard Climate Protection Project. Learn more

What's not included

Galápagos National Park Fee: 100USD, 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!

US, Canadian and Australian citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays of less than 90 days in Ecuador. Upon entry, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months. To enter Galapagos, 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: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. 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. A Galapagos National Park entrance fee of $100 must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos. Travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses is also recommended. Visitors are advised to respect the park's rules, such as restrictions on hiking and camping and removal of natural objects. At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galápagos trip.

These are all the same thing! In short, this is a small fee that is paid to receive a "transit card" that authorises you to visit the Galapagos Islands, and ensures that you return again at the end of your trip.

Introduced in 2012 by INGALA, the Ecuadorian government department that administers the Galapagos, the Galapagos TCT is designed to help control unauthorised immigration to the islands, whose fragile ecosystems are already at risk from human activity.

You must go to the INGALA booth at the airport in Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) with your valid plane ticket to Galapagos. After paying the 20 USD administration fee you will receive your TCC ("Transit Control Card"), also known in Spanish as TCT Galapagos ("tarjeta de control de transito"). You then turn in your card at the end of the trip. The system tracks all non-resident movements into and out of Galapagos. In most of the cases it is possible to prebook this service if you have booked the national flights together with your Galapagos cruise. If you have prebooked this card, a ship representative will meet you at the airport and give you the Transit Control Card.

Please note the INGALA booth at the airport only accepts CASH payments and most importantly, please keep the Galapagos Transit Control Card safe for your flight back.

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

The Galápagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. The Galápagos entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (reduced to 50 USD for children under 12 years old). 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! If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information. Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

Some people have expressed surprise about paying a Galápagos park "entry fee" simply to set foot on the islands, but the proceeds of this entrance fee go directly into the ongoing conservation, protection and management of the islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

  • 40% Galapagos National Park
  • 20% Galapagos Municipalities
  • 10% National Insitute
  • 10% Galapagos province local government
  • 5% National Navy
  • 5% Ministry of Environment
  • 5% Quarantine and pest control
  • 5% Galapagos Marine Reserve

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
Western Galápagos Cruise

5.0

(15)

Premium

Price on request



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