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Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise

West & North Galápagos Cruise

9 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Santa Cruz II

Length

9 Days

Ship category

Premium

Ship type

Small Ship

Capacity

90 Passengers

West & North Galápagos Cruise

15 Reviews

Trip highlights

Snorkel with Hammerheads at Darwin Bay

The best snorkeling in Galapagos: Vicente Rock Point

Thousands of Marine Iguanas at Espinosa Point

Scientific insights at C. Darwin Research Station

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. 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. 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 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

4.5

(42)

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

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 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.

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!