Santa Cruz II is a luxury cruise in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. It offers four- and six-night itineraries that venture into the Western, Northern, and Eastern regions of the Galapagos Islands. Each itinerary is carefully designed to offer guests the best wildlife viewing opportunities in each distinct region of the Galapagos. Insightful Naturalist Guides will accompany and lead each Galapagos excursion group. In addition to all this, Santa Cruz II offers consultations with a Medical officer, on-call 24/7.
The 5-days Western Islands itinerary includes a visit to Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. It exciting hike takes you through palo santo forests full of Galapagos’ famed land iguanas. Then, visit Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island with the fascinating geology of collapsed Ecuador volcano. Then continue to Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, one of the most pristine islands in the world. It is home to one of the islands’ densest colonies of marine iguanas and flightless cormorants. Next, visit Santa Cruz’s Research Centre before heading to Floreana Island. This site holds human history and stunning wildlife at both Post Office Bay and Punta Cormorant.
5-days Northern Islands starts with a visit to the glorious white beach of Las Bachas. Then, explore two fascinating visitor sites on Santiago Island: Buccaneer Cove and Puerto Egas, home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. You can walk-along pools full of life, go snorkelling or swimming. Next, visit the red-sand beach of Rabida Island. It has a lovely trail around cliffs and some of the best snorkelling in Galapagos! Then visit Bartolome Island, which offers a volcanic viewpoint with room for hiking, swimming, and exploring the beach and the coast. Then sail north to Genovesa Island, home to thousands of marine birds. Return to Santa Cruz where you will encounter giant Galapagos tortoises at a private reserve.
On the 7-day Eastern Island cruise visit Mosquera Islet, a great spot to see sea lions before sailing towards San Cristobal. A stop at the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Breeding Centre will open our eyes to the beauty of the Galapagos giant tortoise and the essential scientific work done on the islands. Then travel to the most eastern tip of the archipelago, Punta Pitt home to red-footed boobies. From here, it’s on to the central islands, starting with Santa Fe’s beautiful tranquil bay. Continue to the wild cliffs of South Plaza famed by the tall cacti, land iguanas and stunning marine birds. Then visit Punta Suarez on Española Island, voted the #1 island by guides and expedition leaders. It is home to hundreds of marine iguanas, sea lions, marine birds, and even albatross (between April and December) – truly stunning sites! Next, visits to Eden Islet and North Seymour, famous for its land iguanas and sea lions as well as bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Nazca boobies.
Santa Cruz II ‘s eco-friendly design is perfect to sail in remote areas. This state-of-the-art expedition vessel affords the ideal infrastructure for Galapagos exploration. At just over 70 metres long, the generous, 5-deck craft holds 50 cabins for 90 guests and features ample, generous social areas indoors and out.
It features a restaurant, bar and lounge. On the outdoor deck, there is a terrace, BBQ area and two hot tubs. There is also a fitness room and a reading room with a natural history library available. Some of the highlights are their small groups – on average just 12 guests or fewer per guide- the free use of a glass-bottom boat, snorkelling equipment and kayaks. Have a look at a short video of Santa Cruz II in action.
Upon arrival at Baltra airport you will be driven to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes you to a restaurant in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to enjoy lunch, after which you will continue to Puerto Ayora. Depending on local weather conditions up in the highlands, you will undertake a short hike which will be a great introduction to Galapagos wildlife.
There are two types of landings throughout your Galapagos tour:
Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Please note that the exact route and program may vary according to weather and ocean conditions and the wildlife we encounter.
PM: Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill)- The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). The first part of your walk passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, Ducks and Flamingos, while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance of observing Land Iguanas.
AM: Punta Vicente Roca-after breakfast, explore the coast by panga, while your naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, nesting place for a Galapagos highlight: Flightless Cormorants. Depending on weather conditions, you can snorkel along the cliffs of this area rich in marine life, seasonally visited by Green Sea Turtles and oceanic Sun Fish (Mola mola).
PM: Punta Espinoza- The afternoon explore the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which, having no introduced mammals, boasts a unique environment with a very high density of Marine Iguanas, who share their space with Sea Lions, Sally Light-foot crabs, Hawks, Penguins and the Flightless Cormorants.
AM: Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station- In the morning, disembark (dry landing followed by a brief bus ride) for your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre within an impressive giant Prickly-pear cactus forest, home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration.
PM: Santa Cruz Island- You have several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. Options include beach walks, kayaks, walks along the tortoise reserve, etc. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.
AM: Baroness Tower/ Post Office Bay- A short walk leads you to the historic barrel where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Opportunity for snorkelling or swimming. Lunch served on board.
PM: Champion Islet and Cormorant Point- Following lunch and a siesta, take the pangas and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano, regarded as one of the best snorkelling spots in the archipelago. From there, it’s on to Cormorant Point, beginning with a wet landing on the olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species such as greater Flamingos, Pintail Ducks, Common Stilts, Herons, Sandpipers, and others gather. Continue your walk over to a white-sand beach, where Sea Turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May).
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your ongoing flight.