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ABOUT THE NEW SANTA CRUZ II


Scheduled to take up the baton from its legendary predecessor, the MV Santa Cruz, on 5th October 2015, the 50-cabin Santa Cruz II will bring with it a chic new way to explore the wonders of the Galápagos Islands in style and comfort. The new boat will offer guests the unrivalled guiding Metropolitan Touring is famous for while ensuring the utmost care is taken to preserve the islands’ delicate ecosystem via the latest in sustainable sailing technologies.

The Santa Cruz II will boast five spacious decks, with modern interiors designed by renowned ship designer, Richard Nilsson. Created with the ethos of stylish simplicity at its heart, the new boat will ensure sumptuous surroundings from which to take in the magnificent vistas of the enchanted islands.

The new boat will sleep 90 guests in 50 contemporary designed cabins across three decks. Guests can choose from luxuriously appointed single, double and triple cabins, or opt for one of the three even more exclusive Darwin Suites, an exceptional standard of accommodation on the Panorama Deck, where guests will receive elevated service and carefully refined extras such as a take-home Galápagos coffee table book, a tablet loan for each cabin.

While aboard the new Santa Cruz II, guests can relax in the beautifully designed communal areas and viewing platforms, including indoor and outdoor dining options, two lounge bars, a well-stocked library, two indulgent ocean view hot tubs and a state of the art gym.

Creative Ecuadorian and international cuisine will be prepared under the watchful eye of the Santa Cruz II’s Cordon-Bleu trained gastronomic director, Byron Rivera. Freshly caught fish and seafood and locally grown organic fruit and vegetables will feature heavily on menus served in the colorful Beagle Dining Room and al fresco on the Panorama Deck.

The Santa Cruz II will take guests on four, five and nine night itineraries in the Northern, Eastern and Western Galápagos Islands and each expedition will be accompanied by seven  exceptionally knowledgeable guides plus an expedition leader in charge of making the most of each day's outings. Activities can be tailored to each guest’s personal interests and range from daily land expeditions to a host of aquatic activities, including ocean kayaking, snorkeling with sea lions and glass bottom boat expeditions – all of the options permitted by the Galápagos National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itineraries Santa Cruz II

5d/4 nights  SAT-WED  Eastern Islands

DAY 1 SAT QUITO-GALAPAGOS (western islands)

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island) Arrival by plane to San Cristobal Island and transfer to the Santa Cruz, anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands. Cabin assignment, introductory talk, boat drill and lunch.

Punta Pitt (San Cristobal Island) In the afternoon, Punta Pitt, on the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island awaits! An eroded tuff cone whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline, this is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. We can enjoy a panga ride along the coast and some time for snorkelling or swimming.

 Day 2 SUN. GALAPAGOS

Santa Fe Island After breakfast, we take the panga over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkelling and swimming from the panga rounds off our rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass-bottom boat provides an incredible view for non-snorkelers.

South Plaza Island Following lunch and a rest, we disembark in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, 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 prickly-pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide. (B,L,D)

 DAY 3 MON. GALAPAGOS

 Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island) In the morning, we disembark (dry landing) for our 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. This station is the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park’s administration. Following our visit, we board our transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.

Santa Cruz Island We have several options available for the midday and afternoon (hiking, mountain biking or kayaking in Tortuga Bay), which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon's activities, we return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.  (B,L,D)

DAY 4 TUE GALAPAGOS

Punta Suarez (Española Island) An exciting walk awaits at this site, where we enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tail gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous "blow-hole". Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.

Gardner Bay (Española Island)  In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, finches as we relax. We can expect great snorkelling in this area.

DAY 5   WED GALAPAGOS-QUITO- BALTRA ISLAND  After breakfast, departure to the port and airport to take the flight back to the mainland.   (B)

 

5d/4 nights  MON-FRI  Northern Islands

DAY 1 MON. QUITO-GALAPAGOS (Northern Island Itinerary)

Baltra Island

Transfer to the airport for flight to Galapagos. Morning arrival to Baltra Island, immediate transfer to the dock to board the new M/V Santa Cruz II.   Welcome introductory briefing and lunch.

Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island)
After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that morphed to “bachas”. Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. Briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

DAY 2  TUE. GALAPAGOS
Espumilla Beach (James Island)
After breakfast, a wet landing on the large coffee-coloured sand beach, just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers. Galápagos Islands visitors who today come to Espumilla Beach arrive in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes guests through a mangrove forest. Sea Turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves lies a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white cheeked pintails can be seen. Lunch on board.
Puerto Egas (James Island)

Wet landing for a mid-length walk.  Most of the landscape is tuff-stone layers and lava flows. This is a great opportunity to see land and marine birds.  At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and there is a colony of fur-sea lions.  Opportunity for snorkelling and swimming from the beach after the walk, or a ride on the glass-bottom boat. Briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

DAY 3 WED. GALAPAGOS

Rábida Island (Jervis)  Disembark at Rábida Island (wet landing) on a red-coloured beach, due to the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A gratifying stroll along the beach of this small island (1.9 sq. mi.) allows the observation of a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where at times greater flamingos migrate. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. During navigation to our next island, dolphins are often spotted. Lunch on board.

Bartolomé Island  Disembark at Bartolomé Island (dry landing) for a hike to the summit. A great way to start the day! This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase with handrails; the view from the top is worth the effort. Dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, then time to enjoy the beach (wet landing) and some snorkelling, possibly with Galápagos penguins, or else a ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.  Briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

DAY 4 THU. GALAPAGOS

Prince Philip's Steps (Tower/Genovesa Island)  The morning starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs and then disembark (dry landing) on rocks for a steep climb (90 feet) up some stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a stimulating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of masked boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). Lunch on board.

Darwin Bay (Tower/Genovesa Island) In the afternoon, a wet landing for an easy stroll observing thousands of birds, mainly frigate birds, red footed and masked boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or else return to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkelling at this beautiful natural harbour. The more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs. Briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 5 FRI.  GALAPAGOS-QUITO-or Guayaquil

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal (Chatham) Island) After breakfast, departure to the port and airport to take the flight back to the mainland. (B)

 

6 day/5 night Western Galapagos, Wednesday to Monday

WEDNESDAY

Baltra Island/North Seymour Island  We arrive by plane at Baltra Island and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II where we receive our welcome introductory briefing, boat 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, swallow tailed gulls, as well as Galapagos sea lions and marine iguanas.

Thursday

Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island) and Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)  After breakfast, we take the panga over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkelling and swimming from the panga rounds off our rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass-bottom boat provides an incredible view for non-snorkelers.

Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island) The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina Island, 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.

Friday

Tagus Cove/Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)  After breakfast, we land at this cove on the northwest of Isabela. It provided a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. An uphill hike takes guests to the rim of a crater, where we can observe Darwin Lake, filled with salt water, and to a dramatic viewpoint. After our walk, we take a panga ride to spot local wildlife, with the possibility of swimming or snorkelling.

Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)  After lunch we disembark at Urbina Bay, the fascinating result of an uplifting of the ocean floor in 1954. Here we can admire corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. First we enjoy a snorkel from the beach, with the chance of swimming with flightless cormorants. This area is also home to large and very colourful Galapagos land iguanas, and occasionally to Galapagos giant tortoises. We return back on board for our expedition plan for Saturday and dinner.

Saturday

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

Santa Cruz Island  We have several midday and afternoon options available (mountain biking, kayaking in Tortuga Bay, hiking), which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon's activities, we return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.

Sunday

Post Office Bay / Champion Islet and Cormorant Point (Floreana Island)  A short walk leads us to the historic barrel where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Near Post Office Bay, we explore the north shore of Floreana Island along narrow channels teeming with life. We then head back on board for lunch.

Champion Islet and Cormorant Point (Floreana Island)  Following lunch and a siesta, we take to 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 American flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others gather. We continue our walk to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May).

Monday

Baltra Island  We disembark at Baltra Island in order to transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.