1. Home
  2. Ecuador
  3. Galapagos
  4. Santa Cruz II

Santa Cruz II

A spacious, state-of-the-art Galapagos ship with exceptional service to indulge every type of traveler.

Overview

The luxury M/V Santa Cruz II has 50 cabins for 90 guests across five spacious decks, indeed it has one of the highest guest to space ratios in the islands. With gorgeous chic interiors from the distinguished ship designer, Richard Nilsson, this stylish ship has it all: restaurant, indoor and outdoor social areas, hot tubs, a gym, entertainment room … the list is endless.

Life On Board

Picture yourself taking in the beauty of the Galapagos as you sunbathe on Sky Deck or unwind in one of the twin hot tubs on board. Happy Hour anyone? Make your way to the stunning outdoor terrace and adjacent bar & lounge on Panorama Deck. If you’re not there enjoying freshly barbequed snacks, there’s always the Beagle Restaurant to treat your tastebuds to exquisite international and Ecuadorian cuisine from the Cordon Bleu-trained Gastronomy Director.

Fitness your thing? There’s a gym for you. A little bored? Head to the Discovery Room for entertainment. In need of quiet time? The Expedition Deck’s namesake lounge, with its refreshment station and library, is a fantastic chillout zone with spectacular views. Feeling ill? Reassuringly there is an onboard infirmary with resident Medical Officer on call 24/7.

Flexible & Exclusive Excursions

With her 8 expert naturalist guides (including an Expedition Leader to help coordinate activities), her on-shore excursions truly stand out from others, as on overage you will only have 11 guests per guide, much lower than the typical 16 guests per guide you see on other vessels, and with more groups, excursions can also be more tailored to the language, interests, abilities and age of guests, meaning a more intimate and rewarding learning experience for all.

What’s more, 99% of the visitor sites you explore won’t be shared with any other vessel, so you will be able to discover the islands much the same way Darwin himself did, with no other boats in sight. The ship has all the facilities you’d expect for aquatic activities like kayaks, masks, fins and snorkels (wetsuits are available for hire), but additionally guests have the great option to use the glass-bottom boat, ideal if you are tired or not too fond of snorkeling.

Family Favorite

The vessel is rightly popular with families, and not just because of the tailored excursions or numerous interconnectable and dedicated family cabins on board. The Santa Cruz II offers a “Pirates Aboard” kit with multiple activities for younger children as well as snorkeling lessons and panga rides designed for young adventurers. Parents and kids alike will appreciate the kid-sized meals served on a kids’ friendly schedule.

Whether you are a family, large group, couple or a solo traveler, with a variety of cabin options to choose from – there are single, double and family cabins available, many of which can be interconnected – the flexible and fun Santa Cruz II is a remarkable vessel with an excellent crew committed to making your Galapagos experience extraordinary.

Itineraries & Prices

1 / 4
7-Day A
7-Day B
9-Day
11-Day

7 Day - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery - Western

itinerary map

Arrive in the city of eternal spring

Your journey of discovery begins on the equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 ft, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town, which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. This UNESCO World Heritage site is packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colorful plazas, magnificent churches, and stately monuments.

If you have time in the evening, make sure to visit Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrian street with links to poets and other artists who have lived here. It’s full of shops and café and there also plenty of handicrafts for sale.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Quito
Day
1 / 7

Get a taste for Ecuador

Today, you visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of South America's most active volcanoes. Along the way, you will stop at the photogenic Sangolquí open-air market, where you can browse the colorful stalls and unique handicrafts, and sample different local specialties.

Afterwards, we walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked at 12,800 ft in a high valley within Cotopaxi National Park. Spot herds of llamas on the slopes and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean gull, several species of hummingbird and (with some luck) the majestic Andean Condor. Enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by some of the region’s best chefs before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Quito
Day
2 / 7

Embarkation

AM: After breakfast, a short flight will take you to Baltra Island in the spectacular Galápagos archipelago. A transfer brings you straight to the port, where your comfortable expedition ship MS Santa Cruz II will be waiting.

PM: We begin our exploration of the Galápagos Islands in the afternoon. We will trace the north shore of Santa Cruz toward the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón (‘Dragon Hill’), where we’ll land. The first part of the walk here passes by a brackish water lagoon that is frequented by shorebirds and American flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as your first chance to encounter some land iguanas.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Quito - Baltra
Day
3 / 7

Explore the Coast

AM: Your day starts at Punta Vicente Roca, on the north-western tip of Isabela Island. After breakfast, we’ll explore the coast by dinghy and our naturalist guides will teach us about the area’s dramatic geology.

This site is a nesting place for several bird species, so look out for flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and boobies. Weather permitting, you can snorkel beside the cliffs, where you might find green sea turtles, oceanic sunfish, and even fur seals.

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll explore Fernandina, an island with a unique environment and a high density of marine iguanas. Scan the coast for sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, hawks, and penguins.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Isabela
Day
4 / 7

Meet the famous giant tortoises

AM: Today, you’ll explore Santa Cruz Island. In the morning, we disembark at Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.

The Station includes a giant tortoise breeding center and an impressive forest of prickly-pear cacti that’s home to an array of land birds. It also serves as the headquarters for the island’s scientific investigation, conservation, and the National Park administration. After the visit, we head up to the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island for lunch.

PM: You can choose from several options in the afternoon, which you will decide with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon activities, you will return to Puerto Ayora and rejoin MS Santa Cruz II.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
5 / 7

Discover Galápagos History

AM: After breakfast, enjoy a dinghy ride among the channels on Floreana’s north shore before taking in the incredible views of the island from Baroness Cove. Later, we land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries.

PM: After lunch, explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet in a dinghy or glass-bottom boat. This is one of the best snorkeling spots in the archipelago.

From there, we head to Cormorant Point, where we walk from an olivine-crystal beach to a brackish lagoon. Along the way, see if you can spot American flamingos, pintail ducks, and other birds.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Floreana
Day
6 / 7

Disembarkation

AM: As your expedition cruise comes to a close, it’s time to bid farewell to the amazing wildlife and scenery of one of the world’s most incredible nature destinations. Also say farewell to the wonderful crew and Expedition Team as you disembark at Baltra Island. 

A transfer will take you to the airport, where your waiting flight will bring you to the mainland.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western - Iconic Wildlife & Sublime Scenery
Location
Baltra
Day
7 / 7
1 / 7

7 Day - Nature & Wildlife - Northern

itinerary map

Arrive in the city of eternal spring

Your journey of discovery begins on the equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 ft, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colorful plazas, magnificent churches and handsome monuments. 

If you have enough time in the evening, make sure to visit the Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrianized street with links to the poets and artists who’ve lived here. It’s lined with shops and cafes, and there are many handicrafts available to buy.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Quito
Day
1 / 7

Get a taste for Ecuador

Today you’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of South America's most active volcanoes. But first, you’ll stop at the photogenic Sangolqui open-air market, where you can browse colorful stalls with unique handicrafts, and sample different local specialities.  

Afterwards, we’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked in a high valley within the Cotopaxi National Park at 12,800 ft above sea level. Spot herds of llamas on the slopes and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird and—with luck—the majestic Andean Condor. You’ll enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by some of the region’s best chefs before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Quito
Day
2 / 7

Embarkation

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

In the afternoon, we’ll land at Las Bachas beach located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island. This glorious white beach with turquoise waters is a great first place to spot iconic Galápagos wildlife like flamingos and sea turtles, and it’s named after some sunken barges left after WWII. Enjoy some swimming or snorkeling before heading back to the ship for a welcome cocktail and an expedition briefing about the following day.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Quito - Baltra
Day
3 / 7

Explore Santiago Island

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

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

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Santiago
Day
4 / 7

Amazing wildlife and Beautiful landscapes

AM: Your day starts on tiny Rábida Island, located off the southern shore of Santiago. You can go for a thrilling dinghy ride along the coast or join an excursion exploring the island’s mesmerising, red-coloured beach. Soak up the sights and sounds made by a colony of sea lions, and spot marine iguanas, mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers and several species of Darwin’s Finches. 

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll sail to the golden sands of Bartolomé Island, dominated by the imposing Pinnacle Rock. You can swim or snorkel off the beach here or discover colourful marine life from our glass-bottom boat, and spot Galápagos Penguins on the shore. Hike up to the summit of the island for fantastic views.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Bartolomé
Day
5 / 7

Paradise for Birdlife

AM: Today you’ll explore Genovesa Island. The morning starts with a steep but short climb – only 90 ft – up a flight of steps to reach a flat and rocky plateau. Once there, you can walk along comfortably and check out large colonies of Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds and Storm Petrels. Afterwards or instead, hop into a kayak for some aquatic adventuring! 

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll land at the beautiful beach that fringes Darwin Bay for a swim. Following this refreshing dip, take a stroll and observe hundreds of island birds, or alternatively just take it easy on the beach, swimming, snorkelling or kayaking.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Northern - Nature & Wildlife
Location
Genovesa
Day
6 / 7

Disembarkation

AM: We start our last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your luggage will be taken to the airport while you visit the Tortoise Reserve. A dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the loftier region of the island will provide the last highlight of the cruise: giant tortoises in the wild. 

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

Location
Baltra
Day
7 / 7
1 / 7

9 Day - In Darwin’s Footsteps - Eastern

itinerary map

Arrival

Your voyage of discovery begins in Quito, a city which straddles the equator and where it feels like spring is eternally in the air. Beautifully situated in a high valley, at 9,350 ft this is the second highest capital city in the world, and the views of the nearby mountains remind you at all times of your Andean location. 

Quito was founded on an ancient Inca settlement, and today it’s a bustling and modern place. But you don’t need to look too far beneath the contemporary façade to find the past, and the Old Town is a showcase of classical Spanish architecture. In fact, the city’s diligent preservation of its history caused it to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978. 

If you have enough time in the evening, make sure you visit the Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrianized street with links to poets and artists who have lived here. It’s full of shops and cafes, and there are many handicrafts available for sale here.  

Take a look at the sparkling city lights that spread up the surrounding hills and mountains at night – truly a mesmerizing sight! 

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Quito
Day
1 / 9

Cotopaxi Volcano trip

Today you’ll get up close and personal with one of Ecuador’s natural wonders as we visit an active volcano and walk to a height of almost 12,800 ft. 

But first, we’ll stop in on the photogenic Sangolqui open-air market, where you can sample different Andean specialities. The local indigenous people sell their produce here, and you‘ll see vibrantly-colored legumes, fruits and vegetables. Food aside, clothing and other handicrafts can be purchased here, and it’ll give you a chance to chat with the friendly stallholders.  

Cotopaxi National Park, set amidst mountainous splendor, is only an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Quito. This mostly treeless landscape is characteristic of the Andean moorlands, or paramo, and you may see herds of llamas roaming wild here. Birdlife to look out for includes the Andean Gull, several species of Hummingbird and – with some luck – the majestic Condor. We’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, a beautiful lake that mirrors the dramatic surrounding peaks.  

Meaning ‘Neck of the Moon’ in the local Quechua language, 19,393 ft-high Cotopaxi has an almost perfectly conical form and is one of the highest volcanos in the world. Its yawning crater measures 2,620 ft, and features one of the few equatorial glaciers anywhere. The first recorded eruption of Cotopaxi was in 1534, terrifying both locals and conquistadors alike, and the last major one occurred in 1904.  

For lunch you‘ll be tasting delicious traditional dishes prepared by some of the region’s best chefs in San Augustin del Callo, and in the late afternoon we return to the hotel and enjoy a nice dinner before calling it a night.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Quito
Day
2 / 9

Embarkation

AM: Following breakfast, we’ll head to Quito Airport where our morning flight waits to take us across the blue Pacific Ocean to adventure. After only a couple of hours we’ll land at the Galápagos Ecological Airport on Baltra Island—which runs of renewable power and is said to be the world’s greenest airport!  

After we’ve landed in the spectacular Galápagos archipelago, a transfer will take you straight to the port where your home-away-from-home for the next few days is docked—our comfortable expedition ship Santa Cruz II.  

We’ll start our oceanic expedition with a short, mandatory safety briefing to ensure you’ll be safe sailing with us. You can chcheck-innd get settled before we meet for lunch in the beautiful restaurant, where the Captain will raise a toast and wish everyone an exciting adventure. Your cruise gets underway straight after lunch.  

PM: Our first stop is only four nautical miles away, at the southern tip of Mosquera Islet. It’s a small piece of volcanic uplift that sits between the larger islands of Baltra and North Seymour. A long and narrow sand bank is surrounded by lava reefs, and this is home to one of the largest colonies of sea lions in the Galápagos. 

Hop aboard a small expedition boat and head ashore, where you’ll see the sea lions basking in the sun. This will be your first glimpse of the amazing diversity and richness of these islands, and the islet is thronged with many seabirds, including Blue-footed Boobies, as well as Sally Lightfoot crabs. 

The walk is easy, only a few hundred yards across flat and sandy dunes, and you’ll learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Galápagos from your guides as we explore.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Quito - Galapagos
Day
3 / 9

Visiting the giants

AM: Today we‘ll dock in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the archipelago’s capital. It’s a 40-minute drive to Cerro Colorado, where you’ll get to visit a breeding centre for the highly endangered giant tortoise. It’s a Galápagos icon with a natural lifespan estimated at over 100 years. 

The Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve is working to boost the numbers of these giant reptiles and bring them back from the brink. They live in conditions that are similar to their natural habitat and are able to thrive here. The tortoises amble around under the cover of a six-hectare forest, which is also home to dozens of other endemic species including the San Cristobal Mockingbird and the San Cristobal lava lizard. 

PM: In the afternoon, our small expedition boats take you to Punta Pitt at the eastern tip of the island. This unusual point consists of an eroded volcanic cone, and there’s a trail here that provides spectacular views of the coastline. Punta Pitt is the only site in the Galápagos where you might see three species of boobies. The Blue-footed Boobie is easily recognised for its, well, blue feet!  

Enjoy a nature walk on land, or explore the coast aboard one of our small expedition boats. Snorkeling and swimming is excellent in the clear water here, and you might see sea lions performing their underwater acrobatics over the reef, so remember to bring your swimsuit and some good walking shoes.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
San Cristobal
Day
4 / 9

Blissful beauty and evolving iguanas

AM: Straight after breakfast, we‘ll set foot on an idyllic white sand beach on the island of Santa Fe and go on a scenic nature walk. The island is home to a colony of sea lions, as well as the endemic Barrington land iguana, which can usually be spotted sitting among the giant prickly pear cacti or lounging on rocks in the sun. 

The island has a blissful feeling about it, and we might relax by swimming or perhaps snorkeling from our small boats. If you want to get a peek at the under-water world, you could join a trip in our glass-bottomed boat. The kayaks are ready too, so why not discover this beautiful and wild island at your own pace.

PM: Following a nice, long lunch rustled up by our excellent onboard chefs we’ll head to our next destination, South Plaza Island. Going there, we‘ll pass through a channel where the turquoise waters are offset by the white sandy beaches, which in turn contrast sharply with the black lava rocks. Along the shore, we might spot Frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed gulls and Shearwaters, gliding on the breeze.

South Plaza Island is very small, but it hosts a stunning array of flora, in particular the flowering succulent sesuvium and dense patches of prickly pears. Land iguanas laze sleepily by the shore, while marine iguanas slip in and out of the water. If you’re lucky you might even spot a hybrid of the two, which are the result of intergeneric breeding between the two sub-species—evolution in action!

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
South Plaza
Day
5 / 9

Giant tortoises & island activities

AM: This morning we’ll head ashore at Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the archipelago, situated on Santa Cruz Island. It’s here that we’ll drop in on the Charles Darwin Research Station, where over 200 scientists and volunteers are working to conserve the wildlife of the Galápagos. 

Visit the breeding enclosures where you can see baby tortoises in incubators, and look upon Darwin’s famous finches with your own eyes—these are the birds he used as a basis for his theory of evolution.  

After experiencing the Opuntia Cactus Forest we’ll enjoy lunch in the highlands. It’s an entirely different ecosystem from the coastal plains, with moist green foliage and a cooler climate. It’s also the place where the most giant tortoises roam. You’ll have the option of seeing these giants in their natural habitat. They are easy to spot, lumbering around, munching on grass and wallowing in pools.  

PM: When lunch is over, instead of spotting tortoises you could choose from several different activities, that could include mountain biking or kayaking in Tortuga Bay. You could also hike the 1.3 miles to this beautiful bay, and stop at Playa Brava, a beautiful snow-white beach that’s a seasonal nesting site for green turtles.  

On the same walk, Playa Mansa is a secluded natural mangrove cove, with clear and tranquil waters ideal for swimming, snorkeling or kayaking. Or you could simply enjoy the view from the shade of a mangrove!  

Due to conservation measures, numbers are limited in Tortuga Bay, so be sure to coordinate with the Expedition Team.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
6 / 9

A conservation success story

AM: Said to be one of the oldest islands at four million years, Española is also the most southerly in the archipelago. A magnet for birders, almost the entire world population of Waved Albatrosses breeds here between March and January. Be on the lookout for Nazca Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tailed Gulls, which are all present here.

Also keep your eyes peeled for the Española lava lizard, which has a strikingly red hue, as well as the highly colored marine iguanas which are a particular endemic subspecies only found here.  

Speaking of wildlife, there was good news in 2020 when a rare tortoise was found to have sired over 900 children. Diego, who is over 100 years old, was on loan from San Diego Zoo, and may have almost singlehandedly saved his subspecies from extinction. Because of his remarkable efforts he now lives in retirement on Española with his extended family and is expected to live to around 150. 

You’ll get to witness the famous blowhole El Soplador—meaning ‘the blower’—blast water 75 ft into the air. The effect is caused by waves crashing into a lava fissure at high tide and blowing the water out through a crevice. Afterwards, we’ll head back on board for another lovely and relaxed lunch. 

PM: In the afternoon, the postcard-pretty coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby Osborn Islet provide beautiful settings for observing sea lions, Mockingbirds, and finches as you take your time to simply relax or go for a dip in the water for some excellent snorkeling. Kayaking activities are available here too.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Española
Day
7 / 9

A small slice of Eden

AM: Eden Islet, off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, is a sliver of volcanic cone poking up through the sea. There’s an abundance of wildlife here, and in the clear, shallow waters we’ll hope to spot Galápagos green turtles, rays and some friendly reef sharks.

We’ll bring the snorkeling gear, so remember your swimsuit if you want to do some reef exploration. If weather permits, you can also take a trip aboard the glass-bottomed boat or paddle along the coast of Eden on a kayak. Look out for the Frigatebirds on shore with their characteristic rubbery red throats. 

PM: Later, after a well-deserved spot of lunch aboard the ship, we’ll head over to the island of North Seymour. This small and mostly flat piece of land was created when a volcanic eruption lifted up the seabed, which is why it looks so smooth and eroded.

There’s a small forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees—also known as Saint’s Wood—just above the landing site. These trees are typically leafless and remain dormant for half of the year, waiting for the rains as their cue to burst into bloom. The wood is famously used to make incense – see if you can detect the scent! 

This is a great site to observe colonies of Blue-footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, and Swallow-tailed Gulls. Sea lions and marine iguanas also call North Seymour home, happy to feast on the sea life in the rich waters here. When a young Darwin first laid eyes upon marine iguanas, he described them as “clumsy lizards” and “hideous-looking”, but we beg to differ, and we’re sure you will too!

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
North Seymour
Day
8 / 9

Disembarkation

AM: As your expedition cruise comes to a close, it’s time to bid farewell to the bounteous wildlife and amazing scenery of one of the world’s most incredible nature destinations. We’ll also say farewell to our wonderful crew and Expedition Team as we will disembark at Baltra Island. 

A transfer will take you to the airport, where your waiting flight will bring you to Guayaquil. 

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Eastern - In Darwin’s Footsteps
Location
Baltra
Day
9 / 9
1 / 9

11 Day - Nine of the Best Isles - Western & Northern

itinerary map

Arrive in the city of eternal spring

Your journey of discovery begins on the equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 ft, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colorful plazas, magnificent churches and handsome monuments. 

If you have enough time in the evening, make sure to visit the Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrianized street with links to the poets and artists who’ve lived here. It’s lined with shops and cafes, and there are many handicrafts available to buy.  

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Quito
Day
1 / 11

Get a taste for Ecuador

Today you’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of South America's most active volcanoes. But first, you’ll stop at the photogenic Sangolquí open-air market, where you can browse colorful stalls with unique handicrafts, and sample different local specialities.  

Afterwards, we’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked in a high valley within the Cotopaxi National Park at 12,800 ft above sea level. Spot herds of llamas on the slopes and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird and—with luck—the majestic Andean Condor. You’ll enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by some of the region’s best chefs before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Quito
Day
2 / 11

Embarkation

AM: After breakfast, a short flight will take you to Baltra Island in the spectacular Galápagos archipelago. A transfer brings you straight to the port where your comfortable expedition ship MS Santa Cruz II awaits. 

PM: In the afternoon we’ll begin our exploration of the Galápagos Islands following the north shore of Santa Cruz towards the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón—or Dragon Hill—where we’ll land. The first part of the walk here passes by a brackish water lagoon that’s frequented by shorebirds and American Flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as a chance to get a first look at some land iguanas.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Quito - Baltra
Day
3 / 11

Explore the coast by dinghy

AM: You’ll start your day at Punta Vicente Roca, on the north-western tip of Isabela Island. After breakfast, we’ll explore the coast by dinghy, learning about the dramatic geology of the area from our naturalist guides.

This site is a nesting place for several bird species, so look out for flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and boobies. Weather permitting, you’ll get to snorkel alongside the cliffs, where you might find green sea turtles, oceanic sunfish, and even fur seals.

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll explore Fernandina, an island with a unique environment and a high density of marine iguanas. Scan the coast for sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, hawks and penguins.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Fernandina
Day
4 / 11

Meet the famous giant tortoises of Galápagos

AM: Today, you’ll explore Santa Cruz Island. In the morning, we’ll disembark at Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. 

The Station consists of a giant tortoise breeding centre and an impressive forest of prickly-pear cacti that’s home to many land birds. It also serves as the headquarters for scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. After the visit, we’ll head up to the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island for lunch. 

PM: You’ll have several options to choose from in the afternoon, which you can decide on beforehand with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you’ll return to Puerto Ayora and re-join MS Santa Cruz II.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
5 / 11

Discover a bit of Galápagos history and look out for some underwater wildlife

AM: After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a dinghy ride among the channels on Floreana’s north shore, before taking in the incredible views of the island from Baroness Cove. Later on, we’ll land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. 

PM: After lunch, you’ll explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet in a dinghy or aboard a glass-bottom boat. Here, you can snorkel in one of the best spots in the archipelago. 

From there, it’s onwards to Cormorant Point, where we’ll take a walk from an olivine-crystal beach to a brackish lagoon, where you can see American Flamingos, Pintail Ducks, and other birds.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Floreana
Day
6 / 11

Recharge your batteries and lounge on Las Bachas beach

AM: Relax on board while we anchor off Baltra Island. After four days of exploring the unique nature and environments of Galápagos, it is the moment to pause for a while and recharge your batteries for the days ahead. Make us of the many onboard facilities, flick through the books on the library or exercise in the gym—it’s up to you. 

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll land at Las Bachas beach located on Santa Cruz Island. This glorious white beach with turquoise waters is a great place to spot iconic Galápagos wildlife like flamingos and sea turtles. Enjoy some swimming or snorkeling before heading back to the ship for an expedition briefing about the following day and dinner.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
7 / 11

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

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

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

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Santiago
Day
8 / 11

See some amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes

AM: Your day starts on tiny Rábida Island, located off the southern shore of Santiago. You can go for a thrilling dinghy ride along the coast or join an excursion exploring the island’s mesmerizing, red-colored beach. Soak up the sights and sounds made by a colony of sea lions, and spot marine iguanas, mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers and several species of Darwin’s Finches. 

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

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Rabida - Bartolomé
Day
9 / 11

Paradise for Birdlife

AM: Today you’ll explore Genovesa Island. The morning starts with a steep but short climb—only 90 ft—up a flight of steps to reach a flat and rocky plateau. Once there, you can walk along comfortably and check out large colonies of Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds and Storm Petrels. Afterwards or instead, hop into a kayak for some aquatic adventuring! 

PM: In the afternoon, we’ll land at the beautiful beach that fringes Darwin Bay for a swim. Following this refreshing dip, take a stroll and observe hundreds of island birds, or alternatively just take it easy on the beach, swimming, snorkeling or kayaking.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Genovesa
Day
10 / 11

Disembarkation

AM: We start our last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your luggage will be taken to the airport, while you visit the Tortoise Reserve. A dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the loftier region of the island will provide the last highlight of the cruise: giant tortoises in the wild. 

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

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Western & Northern - Nine of the Best Isles
Location
Baltra
Day
11 / 11
1 / 11

Accommodations

Social Areas

Reception
Expedition Lounge
Beagle Restaurant
Gym
Infirmary
Shop
Hot Tub
Panorama Lounge
Shop
Sky Deck
Observation Balcony

Suites & Cabins

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Horizon Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Horizon Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Horizon Deck
23 Cabins

Explorer Cabin - Horizon Deck

Guests
2
Size
15 m²/161 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Explorer Cabins can be found on Horizon, Expedition and Panorama Decks, but are all the same size. With large windows and comfortable space, these cabins are offering elegant areas to rest and relax after a day exploring.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Expedition Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Expedition Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Expedition Deck
17 Cabins

Explorer Cabin - Expedition Deck

Guests
2
Size
15 m²/161 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Explorer Cabins can be found on Horizon, Expedition and Panorama Decks, but are all the same size. With large windows and comfortable space, these cabins are offering elegant areas to rest and relax after a day exploring.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Panorama Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Panorama Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Cabin - Panorama Deck
3 Cabins

Explorer Cabin - Panorama Deck

Guests
2
Size
15 m²/161 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Explorer Cabins can be found on Horizon, Expedition and Panorama Decks, but are all the same size. With large windows and comfortable space, these cabins are offering elegant areas to rest and relax after a day exploring.

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Family - Horizon Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Family - Horizon Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Explorer Family - Horizon Deck
2 Cabins

Explorer Family - Horizon Deck

Guests
2 - 3
Size
18 m²/194 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Explorer Family Cabin can be found on Horizon Deck. With large windows and comfortable space, these cabins are offering elegant areas to rest and relax after a day exploring. Cabins featured twin beds and a sofa bed (ideal for children under 12.)

Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Darwin Suite - Panorama Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Darwin Suite - Panorama Deck Santa Cruz II (HRTG) - Darwin Suite - Panorama Deck
3 Cabins

Darwin Suite - Panorama Deck

Guests
2 - 3
Size
30 m²/323 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Darwin Suites offer an exceptional standard of accommodation on Panorama Deck, in close proximity to the Bar & Lounge and Outdoor Terrace. Available with a twin or double bed, and if more space is desired, these suites can be interconnected with an Explorer cabin.

Technical Information

Deck Plan

Features

  • Connecting cabins
  • Air conditioning
  • Deck shower
  • Pool / Jacuzzi
  • Excercise room
  • Lecture room
  • WIFI available
  • Kosher Meals
  • Medical staff

Equipment

  • Diving gear
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Wetsuits
  • Stand up paddleboard
  • Kayaks / Canoes
** Use of certain equipment at additional cost, ask for details
As Featured In