Quito and 5 Day Santa Cruz Cruise

8 Days/7 Nights

From $3,119 pp

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This tour combines colonial Quito with a five day Galapagos Islands cruise on the Santa Cruz, an expedition vessel built exclusively for Galapagos Islands cruising. The ship accommodates 90 passengers in its 44 cabins, is air conditioned throughout, and is recognized for its superb service, expert crew, and international and Ecuadorian cuisine. Each spacious cabin features twin or double beds, private bathrooms, and a safe. Four public decks offer a dining room, bar, library, sun deck, and Jacuzzi. Wet suits ($15 + VAT) can be rented on board.

Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 7 nights (3 nights in Quito and 4 nights aboard the Santa Cruz), and 15 meals (7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners).

Best Time to Go: Year-Round.

Destinations: South America, Ecuador, & Galapagos.

Interests: Adventure, Culture & History, Expedition Cruising, Sea Kayaking, Snorkeling, and Wildlife Viewing.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.

Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.

This morning, you will visit to downtown Quito to relish in this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stroll starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World; its impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar.

Then continue to the Equatorial Monument, 16 miles north of Quito, which marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will get a certificate for having crossed the Equator. Overnight in Quito. (B)

Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the dock at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to board the MV Santa Cruz. Cabin assignment, introductory briefing, and lunch.

In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island. Punta Pitt is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galápagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Santa Fe Island. After breakfast, a wet landing on a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right of “Beach Master”, while smaller males masquerading as females make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name with tree-sized trunks! The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the afternoon walk. Snorkeling and swimming from the beach rounds off the rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass-bottom boat for non-snorkelers. Lunch on board.

South Plaza Island. Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands, where the island tilts toward the water, the approach makes for a lavishly colorful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange ‘Sally Lightfoot’ crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide playing with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Morning disembarkation (dry landing) visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens 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. Following our visit, we board our transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.

Optional Excursions on Santa Cruz Island. There are several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader, including: 1.) Trek along trails amid miconia forest in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel; 2.) Mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach; 3.) Sea kayak and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach; 4.) Experience sustainable agriculture in an organic coffee plantation; 5.) Discover SCUBA diving day in Puerto Ayora. This is a day designed for people who wish to discover the marine wonders of the archipelago, but who are not ready to dive in the current-strong Galápagos open waters. A local diving outfitter is contacted on your behalf. This activity takes most of the day and has an additional cost. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and the ship. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D))

Morning outing at Punta Suárez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls as well as a view of the Galápagos famous “blow-hole”. Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, Galápagos hawks, Galápagos doves and three species of Darwin’s finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.

Gardner Bay. In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkeling in this area, or ride aboard the glass-bottom boat. Departure briefing, Farewell Cocktail, and dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Disembark at Baltra Island. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the continent. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)

Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Itinerary Map

Santa Cruz - Eastern Galapagos Itinerary Map

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double Triple
Main Deck Twin Standard $4,759 $3,119 $2,839
Upper Deck Twin Standard $4,949 $3,249 n/a
Boat Deck Twin Standard $5,309 $3,479 $3,179
Boat Deck Standard Plus Twin $5,539 $3,639 n/a
Boat Deck Single Standard $5,199 n/a n/a
Boat Deck Superior Twin/Double $5,729 $3,759 n/a
Boat Deck Junior Suite Twin $5,939 $3,909 $3,569
Boat Deck Master Suite Double $6,669 $4,389 $4,009
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.


  1. The above prices are valid until December 23, 2015.
  2. There is one cabin available for single use (Boat Deck Single Standard). Twin/Double cabins for single use have a surcharge of 50%.
  3. Triple rates are based on one child under 12 sharing cabin with two adults paying full fare.
  4. There is a high season (Dec 23, 2015-Jan 01, 2016) surcharge of $183 per person.

Departure Dates

Every other Thursday departures throughout the year.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
  • Private airport/hotel transfers on the first and last day of the tour, and shared transfers out/in from select hotels in Quito and in/out in the Galapagos islands on the date of the cruise.
  • Three night hotel accommodations at the Dann Carlton Quito (or similar) including service fees and taxes.
  • Accommodations on board the M/V Santa Cruz.
  • All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
  • Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
  • Evening briefings and lectures.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment.

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Domestic airfare ($487).
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
  • Transit control card ($20).
  • Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
  • Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
  • Bar, gifts, and personal items.
  • Travel insurance.

We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.



Hotel Dann Carlton Quito, Quito, Ecuador

4 Star – Hotel Dann Carlton Quito


Santa Cruz, Galapagos Cruise Ship

Santa Cruz – First Class

Additional Details

Group Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis except for the airport transfers in and out of Quito on the first and last day of the tour.

Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level.

IGTOA’s Traveler Funding Program South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Traveler Funding Program, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands. Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.

Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling.

Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.

To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $700 per person plus the cost of the international airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.