What to Expect on a Galapagos Cruise with HX Hurtigruten Expeditions


It was our second go to to the Galapagos Islands, and we have been excited to hitch Hurtigruten Expeditions to go island hopping in Darwin’s Footsteps on their newly refurbished Santa Cruz II. This really was our dream Galapagos Cruise. The first time we visited Galapagos National Park, we stayed on land and took water taxis and shuttles from island to island. That was enjoyable, however this journey with Hurtigruten Expeditions was luxurious, adventurous, informative, and enjoyable. We had a good time on the ship with solely 39 like-minded passengers. We felt like we had our personal private service as 60 professional guides and crew members taken care of our each want.

About the Galapagos Islands

cruise Galapagos islands

The Galapagos islands are a haven for an astonishing number of endemic species, from the well-known big tortoises to the playful sea lions and the colourful blue-footed boobies; you will notice animals which can be distinctive solely to those enchanted islands. The Galapagos marine iguana is the one iguana on this planet that feeds underwater, and Galápagos penguins are the one penguin species within the northern hemisphere. The wildlife right here was the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s concept of evolution. Book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Details right here.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

Where are the Galapagos Islands Located

The Galapagos archipelago contains 18 important islands off the coast of mainland Ecuador in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. These volcanic islands are among the many most remoted locations on Earth, and one of the best ways to see them is by expedition cruise. Throughout our Galapagos journey, we spied on distinctive marine life and visited totally different islands boasting distinct ecosystems and landscapes, starting from lush highlands to barren volcanic terrain.

Book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Details right here.

With strict conservation efforts in place, the Galapagos Islands stay some of the unspoiled pure paradises on earth, inviting vacationers to witness the wonders of evolution in actual time. We cruised the east Galapagos Islands, following the footsteps of Charles Darwin, who developed his Theory of Natural Selection after visiting the Galapagos.

Best Galapagos Cruise

Best Galapagos Cruises HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Following in Darwin Footsteps is the very best route for a Galapagos cruise to introduce you to all of the highlights of Galapagos National Park in a short while. Being on affords a singular vantage level to discover this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as you sail to distant locations and discover islands free from different folks.

About HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Galapagos Cruise HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten based Expedition Cruising in 1896 and is the chief in sustainable cruising. It is the biggest operator by capability in expedition cruising and is taken into account among the best Galapagos cruises within the Galapagos Islands.

If you’re looking for an expedition ship to take to the Galápagos Islands, the Santa Cruz II was unbelievable. Plus it runs with carbon-neutral operations, is environmentally sustainable, and works with the local people.

It was massive sufficient to have all of the comforts you want but sufficiently small to get to the hard-to-reach locations. This expedition cruise provided connoisseur eating with wine pairings, luxurious cabins, native Galapagos consultants, and customized service.

What’s Included on a Galapagos Cruise?

Galapagos Cruise Inclusions

When on the MS Santa Cruz II, breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the primary restaurant, drinks (home beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) are included. All excursions, together with snorkeling, glass backside boat excursions, stand-up paddleboarding, panga rides, kayaking, climbing, and day excursions, are additionally included.

The Darwin Research Station, Tortoise Farm, Cultural Experiences, and metropolis excursions are additionally included.

On the ship, complimentary snacks, tea, and occasional are included all through the day. The solely issues you need to pay for when onboard are drinks on the bar (though they’re cheap and have a number of joyful hours all through the journey) and any souvenirs it’s your decision.

Galapagos Cruise Rooms on the Santa Cruz II

Gratuities are additionally included in Hurtigruten cruises, so that you don’t want to fret about what to tip crew and guides on the finish of the journey. However, slightly further is at all times appreciated.

The MS Santa Cruz II even had free laundry with washers and dryers on deck. We relaxed within the sizzling tubs after a day of climbing and washed our garments on the identical time.

Hurtigruten has greater than a century of expedition expertise and continually evolves its conservation efforts.

  • HX based Expedition Cruising in 1896 and is the international chief in sustainable cruising.
  • Today, it’s the largest operator by capability in expedition cruising.
  • HX affords massive adventures on small, custom-built ships to over 250 locations in additional than 30 international locations from pole to pole and is dedicated to being a catalyst for change towards a greener journey business.
  • Hurtigruten additionally launched the world’s first battery hybrid-powered cruise ship (2019), and has since added two extra
  • They have been the primary to ban heavy gas oil (2009) and single-use plastics (2018).
  • When selecting a Galapagos Cruise, you possibly can really feel comfy realizing that this firm is taking further precautions to protect the surroundings, wildlife, and cultures of the vacation spot.
Galapagos Cruise Itinerary - In Darwin's Footsteps

Our six-day Galapagos cruise took us by means of a number of jap islands the place we may go snorkeling, sea kayaking, climbing, SUP, and zodiac cruising by means of the archipelago looking for marine life akin to sea turtles, sharks, and sea lions.

We had an opulent expertise from the second we landed in Quito to our last vacation spot within the rainforest of Mashpi Lodge. In whole, we spent two weeks in Ecuador, with six of our days exploring the Galapagos Archipelago.

Galapagos Cruise Quito JW Marriott

We arrived in Quito at evening, the place the HX Expeditions staff met us and drove us by personal switch to the luxurious JW Marriott Hotel Quito. This lodge is top-notch notch, with stylish rooms, a gorgeous swimming pool, a number of eating places, and a lounge.

We cherished having a little bit of time to calm down on this attractive property.

Pre-Tour in Quito – Cotopaxi Volcano

Galapagos Cruises Pre-Tour in Quito - Cotopaxi Volcano

Most itineraries begin in Quito and provides passengers a day or two within the metropolis and ours was no exception. Many folks additionally go for pre-trips to Machu Pichu to see the Inca empire, the cloud forest, or discover Lima Peru. Hey, it’s your dream Galapagos cruise, you possibly can see as a lot or as little as you want!

After an excellent evening’s relaxation, we joined the HX expeditions staff within the foyer of the JW Marriott for a day journey to the Cotopaxi Volcano and surrounding villages.

Galapagos Cruise Pre Tour

Cotopaxi is without doubt one of the prime day journeys from Quito and was included as a pre-tour to our Galapagos journey. Just a brief drive from the capital, Cotopaxi National Park is residence to the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of many highest energetic volcanoes on this planet.

Galapagos Cruises Cotopaxi Day Trip Villages

After a hike across the lake to absorb the views of the volcanic cone, we stopped at a hacienda for lunch, adopted by the chance to feed lamas the cutest lamas. We additionally stopped at close by cities to discover markets and get immersed within the tradition with our native information…

Day 1 – Fly to Baltra Island (Aka South Seymour Island)

Galapagos Cruise Baltra Island

It was an early morning wake-up name to fly to the Galapagos Islands. We have been up at 4:30 am for breakfast after which a 45-minute drive to the airport. The flight to the Galapagos Islands takes about 2 1/2 hours from Quito, with a brief cease at Guayaquil on the coast.

The Galapagos Islands are distant. They are a tiny archipelago 1,369 km off the coast of South America with no different land in sight. It really looks like you’re an early explorer if you land on the islands.

Galapagos National Park Entrance

Galápagos National Park rules are strict (rightfully so), and all of us had our baggage scanned for something that would contaminate the vacation spot. Before flying from Quito and upon touchdown within the Galapagos.

One within the Galápagos Islands, we have been greeted by the Hurtigruten workers and the resident land iguanas on the native airport. With that form of welcome, we knew we have been in for a deal with as we toured the enchanted islands.

Welcome Meeting and Emergency Drills

Galapagos Cruise boarding

We gathered our baggage and made our option to our transfers to the ship. Hopping on zodiacs, we have been on the MS Santa Cruz II in a flash, the place we have been fed lunch and had an introduction to the week.

Lunch was a buffet adopted by a important course and dessert. We may even have wine or beer if we felt prefer it. But, with excursions available, our day was simply getting began!

Galapagos Cruise Food

After lunch, we met on the muster stations for our emergency drill and discovered how we’d be disembarking to ship. Once we have been completed, we grabbed our PFDs (private floating units), met within the library and disembarked in teams of 8 – 10 folks for our first island vacation spot.

Mosquera Island – Hike on the Beach

Galapagos Cruise Mosquera Island

Our first afternoon within the Galapagos was already off to an incredible begin with a day tour that started with a panga journey (you could know pangas as zodiacs), the place we explored the ocean cliffs of Mosquera Island. We spied frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and pelicans alongside its rocky shore.

Galapagos Cruise Mosquera Island Pelican

After an hour on the water, we have been let off on probably the most pristine white sand seaside you’ll ever see. This was our first encounter with sea lions of their pure habitat, and it didn’t disappoint. We walked alongside the pristine seaside watching frigate birds construct nests and puff their crimson chests to draw a mate, loved sea lions taking part in within the surf and basking on the sand, and watched Sally Foot Crabs flitter round within the sand.

Galapagos Cruise Mosquera Island Baby Sea Lion

As the solar set, we returned to the pangas in supper time and a welcome toast with the captain

Day 2 – San Cristobal – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal

No journey to the Galapagos Islands could be full with out getting within the water and most Galapagos cruises provide a number of alternatives for snorkeling. We had a number of probabilities to go swimming, but in addition snorkeling. For individuals who wish to discover the underwater world, all snorkeling gear is included. Our expedition cruise had moist fits, snorkels, fins, and even inflatable life preservers should you wished further buoyancy.

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal Snorkeling

We met the expedition staff on deck to get all of our gear, and after a frenzy of attempting on fits and becoming our discover, we have been able to go. This was our snorkeling gear for the subsequent week, and we saved it on deck with our room quantity on it so we didn’t scent up our rooms. Wet fits might be fairly smelly.

Today was additionally the day we explored San Cristobal Island. Starting with a panga journey, we had an excellent sunny day on the water, viewing sea arches, sea cliffs, and the magnificent Kicker Rock. The final time we have been within the Galapagos Islands, we snorkeled at Kicker Rock and it was an incredible place to view Galapagos sharks.

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal Sea Lion on Beach

Morning Panga Tour to the seaside and snorkeling for the primary time. The water was heat and blue and this gave us an excellent probability to check out our snorkeling gear from the shore earlier than our upcoming deep water snorkels.

Giant Tortoise Breeding Center

Galapagos Cruise David Rodriguez Centro de Crianza de Tortugas Terrestres

There is little question that probably the most iconic wildlife on the Galapagos are the enormous tortoises. The pleasant giants reside to 200 years outdated and might weigh as much as 800 kilos! We had three totally different alternatives to see big tortoises with our first cease being the most recent tortoise breeding middle on the Galapagos Islands, the David Rodriguez Centro de Crianza de Tortugas Terrestres.

We had the possibility to see child tortoises and juveniles of their pure habitat. There have been 15 species of big tortoises on the Galapagos Islands however right this moment there are solely 11. However, they’ll quickly be asserting that they discovered one other species that survived extinction so there at the moment are 12.

Galapagos Cruise Giant Tortoise

Tortoises have been almost worn out on account of whalers and pirates taking tortoises to their ships to make use of as meals. Because big tortoises can go for therefore lengthy with out meals and water, they made wonderful meals for people with little entry to meat.

Sadly, their numbers dropped considerably. At one time there have been almost 100,000 big tortoises on the Galapagos. Today with all the conservation efforts, their numbers have climbed to twenty,000.

San Cristobal Downtown

Galapagos Cruise San Cristobal Downton Sea Lion

It was then free time to take pleasure in downtown San Cristobal. This city is known for the colony of sea lions that bask on its shores. Here you’ll discover sea lions on the sidewalks, on park benches, and even in boats. They have fenced off the city because the final time we have been right here in order that they now must work a bit tougher to get into city, however some nonetheless sneak by means of, and it’s so cute.

Day 3 – Santa Fe Island

Galapagos Cruise Santa Fe Islands Smiling iguanas

The day we began with a Panga Ride to the seaside with loads of sea lions within the water. After using for about half-hour across the island, we loved a moist touchdown to go for certainly one of our greatest walks on the cruise. We broke into teams of 8 – 12 folks for an extended, leisurely hike round this island.

There are lovely cacti on the island and plenty of land iguanas. Santa Fe Land Iguanas (aka yellow – or smiling iguanas) have been scattered all through the dry, rocky panorama and placed on a present for us. We even noticed birds mating and a few folks spied on iguanas sparring.

Galapagos Cruises Santa Fe Island

After lunch, we had a pictures chat to learn to take higher pictures with our iPhones and cameras as our ship moved to the subsequent location. There isn’t a uninteresting second on a Galapagos Cruise, however you’re free to calm down as a lot as you want. Not everybody attended the talks and never everybody attended the hikes. You might be as busy or as relaxed as you would like. Remember, it’s your trip!

Deep Water Snorkeling

Galapagos Cruise Santa Fe Islands Deep Water Snorkeling

The snorkeling at Santa Fe Island was precisely what you’ll count on of snorkeling within the Galapagos. We performed with sea lions as they blew bubbles in our faces and zipped round us in circles. They appeared to be taking part in a sport of “let’s see how close we can get to the humans without actually touching them.”

After taking part in with them for a while, our information, Claudia, advised us that there have been sea turtles close by. We swam to observe them gracefully swim by means of the water and low and behold, two noticed eagle rays swam into view.

Galapagos Cruise Snorkeling Sea Turtles

The marine life go about their enterprise with no care on this planet, and as a substitute of snorkelers needing to go looking and observe sealife, they arrive to you! We had the possibility to swim with them for a bit and it was extraordinary to observe them fly by means of the water like hovering birds..

The water was crystal clear, heat, and calm. We spent greater than an hour having fun with the colourful fish, marine iguanas, and underwater world.

Day 4 – Santa Cruz Island

Galapagos Cruise Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is known for the Charles Darwin Research Station. This tour took us to a different big tortoise breeding middle with a concentrate on schooling. We discovered all in regards to the evolution of animals of the Galapagos, its historical past, and, in fact, Darwin’s concept of pure choice.

We even noticed Darwin’s finches, nonetheless, we discovered that it was the mockingbird that was vital in discovering his theories his theories and the truth that folks say it was the Galapagos finch is a fantasy. It was nonetheless cute to see them although.

Galapagos Cruise Lonesome George Tortoise

It was then time to pay our respects to Lonesome George. This tortoise died in 2012 however stays a reminder to preserve and protect. He was the final of his species of Giant Tortoise, and even with all of the efforts put forth to assist him breed, he by no means did produce offspring, and when he died, his species died with him.

Dave and I had the chance to see Lonesome George in 2012 after we first visited the Galapagos Islands. He lived a cheerful, lengthy life, and despite the fact that he didn’t produce offspring, he did have an excellent time attempting!

Rancho Manzanillo

Galapagos Cruises Rancho Mayzanillo

After studying in regards to the tortoises and seeing them on the analysis middle, we lastly noticed the enormous tortoises of their pure habitat. Driving as much as our subsequent vacation spot, we noticed tortoises on the highway, tortoises within the fields, and tortoises beside cows; they have been all over the place.

We walked by means of the grounds and noticed a whole bunch of big tortoises going about their every day lives. We even noticed a pair mating, soaking in ponds, and chewing on leaves. It was uplifting to see how they’re now thriving in right this moment’s surroundings.

Cultural Experiences

galapagos cruise cultural experiences

Lots of people don’t notice that the Galapagos Islands are inhabited. The islands are 97% nationwide parks, however 3% of them have cities, residents, and companies. We stopped at a distillery for a tour of the farm and shows exhibiting us how spirits are fermented and the way sugar cane is harvested.

We have been shocked by simply how a lot we loved this a part of our cruise. We have been right here for the wildlife and panorama, however studying in regards to the tradition and assembly the locals was certainly one of our favourite excursions. We sampled Cacao, sugar, espresso, and 50+ proof moonshine.

galapagos cruise sugar cane plantations

Today, the federal government requires Galapagos cruises to cease at native companies and I’m glad that they do! To go to a vacation spot and never perceive the native communities is barely half a visit. I went away with fond recollections of our time and a little bit of a buzz from the photographs of moonshine!

Day 5 – Espanola Island

Espanola Island on our Galapagos Cruise

Today was one other spectacular day with panga rides, science corners, sea lions, Blue Footed Boobies, and an abundance of nature however what made right this moment totally different was our go to to the bridge to go to the captain.

HX Expeditions has an open-door coverage the place you possibly can go to the captain anytime. All it’s worthwhile to do is ask the entrance desk if it’s a good time, and they’re going to notify the bridge that you simply’ll be stopping by.

Meeting the captain on our Galapagos Cruise

The captain was welcoming and informative, exhibiting us how the crew navigates by means of the islands, the gear and mapping, and the every day lifetime of being a captain. It was fascinating.

It could be very cool to hang around on the bridge and watch the officers effortlessly sail the ship by means of an unforgiving surroundings. We extremely suggest you’re taking it should you can go to the bridge!

Adventurous Days

Christmas Iguana on Espanola Island on our Galapagos Cruise

Like our standard days on the SM Santa Cruz, we have been up on the morning time collaborating in snorkeling, panga rides, and hikes. It is the expedition staff’s purpose to have passengers encounter not less than 11 of the Big 15 Galapagos animals. That meant that we have been out on the boats from morning to night looking for these iconic endemic animals.

What are the Galapagos Big 15?

Galapagos Islands Big 15 Fur Seal

Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Blue-Footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Galápagos Sea Lion, Santa Fe Iguana, Land Iguana, Greater Frigate Bird, Galápagos Hawk, Galápagos Fur Seal, Galápagos Albatross, Galápagos Flamingo, Galápagos Penguin, Galápagos Hawk, Red-Footed Booby, and Flightless Cormorant.

We noticed most on this cruise apart from the Galápagos Penguin, Galápagos Hawk, Red-Footed Booby, and the Flightless Cormorant.

Day 6 – Mosquera Island Eden Island

Galapagos Islands Blue Footed Boobie

Snorkel with sharks

Our last day ended with our most intense snorkeling journey. Our information had watched us all week to see how properly our group may deal with the water so he took us out to deep and uneven waters the place the sharks hang around. And after spending a number of days snorkeling within the Galapagos, we have been relaxed and ready. Plus, we had a information in the back and front to keep watch over us all as we snorkeled within the swift present.

We noticed a hammerhead shark from the panga, however it didn’t present itself as soon as we jumped within the water, however we have been fortunate sufficient to see a number of sharks within the depths under.

Galapagos Islands Snorkeling With Sharks

It was a spectacular feeling to leap from the pangas and immediately see half a dozen sharks under. There is nothing higher than snorkeling within the Galapagos.

For these not comfy snorkeling, there was an choice for glass-bottom boat excursions so everybody may benefit from the islands’ marine life. It really caters to each stage of journey you’re comfy with.

Final Hike

Galapagos Cruises Frigate Bird Eden island

After one final hike to see Frigate Birds puffing out their crimson chests, Blue Footed Boobies doing their mating dance and spying on child frigates and boobies, we took a panga journey again to the ship feeling utterly glad with our time within the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Cruises Mating Blue footed Boobies

We had six nights and 7 days within the Galapagos Islands, which was the proper period of time. Days are lengthy and busy; I received’t lie, we have been exhausted but exhilarated suddenly and we wouldn’t have it every other means. We made nice new associates and had the time of our lives. We had taken half in so many distinctive experiences that we didn’t wish to miss a factor.

Book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Details right here.

A Galapagos Cruise is on many individuals’s bucket lists, and we cherished our time on this remoted area. While it is rather totally different from different cruise locations, in case you are prepared for an journey, you’ll take residence recollections that may final a lifetime.

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