Quito and 6 Day Santa Cruz II Cruise – Western Galapagos Islands

9 Days/8 Nights

From $5,029 pp

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Venture to Quito and the western Galapagos Islands on this fascinating Ecuador tour.  In Quito, you will enjoy a city tour and visit to the Middle of the World complex.  Highlights include observing magnificent frigatebirds on North Seymour Island, flightless cormorants on Fernandina Island, and viewing giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station and in the Highlands of Santa Cruz.  Opportunities for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and glass bottom boating are also available.

Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 8 nights (3 nights in Quito and 5 nights aboard the Santa Cruz II), and 18 meals (8 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners).

Best Time to Go: Year-Round.

Destinations: South America, Ecuador, and Galapagos.

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

Places Visited: Quito and the Galapagos Islands.

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 Baltra Island in the Galapagos.  Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the dock to board the MV Santa Cruz.  You will then be assigned to your cabin, have a welcome briefing, safety drill, and lunch.

North Seymour Island.  This is a great introductory site to the islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, two species of frigatebirds, and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas.  The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.”  These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter wingspans, and males, with puffed-up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks.  This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain.  Overnight aboard the ship.  (B,L,D)

Punta Vicente Roca.  After breakfast, you explore the coast by panga, while the 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).

Punta Espinoza.  The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which, having no introduced mammals, boasts a very 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.  Overnight aboard the ship.  (B,L,D)

Tagus Cove.  After breakfast, you land at this cove on the northwest of Isabela.  It provided a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries.  An uphill hike takes guests to the rim of a crater, Darwin Lake, filled with salt water and to a dramatic viewpoint.  After your walk, you take a panga ride to spot local wildlife, with the possibility of swimming or snorkeling.

Urbina Bay.  After lunch you disembark at Urbina Bay, the fascinating result of an uplifting of the ocean floor in 1954.  Here you can admire corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water.  First you enjoy a snorkel from the beach, with the chance of swimming with flightless cormorants.  This is also home to a large and very colorful Galapagos land iguanas, and occasionally to giant tortoises.  You return back on board for your expedition plan for Saturday and dinner.  Overnight aboard the ship.  (B,L,D)

Charles Darwin Research Station.  In the morning, you disembark (dry landing) for a 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.  Following the visit, you board the transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.

Santa Cruz Island Optional Excursions.  You have several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader.  At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you return to Puerto Ayora and board the ship.  Overnight aboard the ship.  (B,L,D)

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 snorkeling or swimming.  You then head back on board for lunch.

Champion Islet and Cormorant Point.  Following lunch and a siesta, you 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 snorkeling 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.  You continue our walk over to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May).  Overnight aboard the ship.  (B,L,D)

Disembark at Baltra Island.  Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.  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 II - Western Galapagos Islands Itinerary Map

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Horizon Deck Explorer Cabin$6,059$5,029n/a
Horizon Deck Explorer Family Cabinn/a$6,879$4,699
Horizon Deck Voyager Cabin$6,079n/an/a
Expedition Deck Explorer Cabin$6,269$5,209n/a
Panorama Deck Explorer Cabin$6,429$5,349n/a
Panorama Deck Darwin Suite$7,169$5,989$5,929
** 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 20, 2017.
  2. Triple rates are based on one child under 12 sharing cabin with two adults paying full fare.
  3. There is a high season (Dec 20-25, 2017-Dec 30, 2017-Jan 03, 2018) surcharge of $159 per adult and $117 per child.

Departure Dates

Every other Monday 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.
  • Accommodations on board the M/V Santa Cruz II.
  • 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 ($500).
  • 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 II, Galapagos Cruise Ship

First Class – Santa Cruz II

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 Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association).  In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, 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: Call or email us to confirm the availability of a cabin on this ship for your desired dates of travel.  The non-refundable deposits for single, double, and triple passengers are $1,200, $1,200, and $1,100 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).