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What to Anticipate on a Galapagos Cruise with HX Hurtigruten Expeditions


It was our second go to to the Galapagos Islands, and we had been excited to affix Hurtigruten Expeditions to go island hopping in Darwin’s Footsteps on their newly refurbished Santa Cruz II. This actually was our dream Galapagos Cruise. The primary time we visited Galapagos Nationwide 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 knowledgeable guides and crew members sorted our each want.

In regards to the Galapagos Islands

cruise Galapagos islands

The Galapagos islands are a haven for an astonishing number of endemic species, from the well-known large tortoises to the playful sea lions and the colourful blue-footed boobies; you will note animals which might be distinctive solely to those enchanted islands. The Galapagos marine iguana is the one iguana on the 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 idea of evolution. E-book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Particulars right here.

The place are the Galapagos Islands?

Where are the Galapagos Islands Located

The Galapagos archipelago contains 18 foremost islands off the coast of mainland Ecuador in the course of the Pacific Ocean. These volcanic islands are among the many most remoted locations on Earth, and the easiest way to see them is by expedition cruise. All through our Galapagos journey, we spied on distinctive marine life and visited completely different islands boasting distinct ecosystems and landscapes, starting from lush highlands to barren volcanic terrain.

E-book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Particulars right here.

With strict conservation efforts in place, the Galapagos Islands stay one of the crucial 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 Idea of Pure Choice after visiting the Galapagos.

Finest Galapagos Cruise

Best Galapagos Cruises HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Following in Darwin Footsteps is one of the best route for a Galapagos cruise to introduce you to all of the highlights of Galapagos Nationwide Park in a short while. Being on affords a novel 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’s the largest operator by capability in expedition cruising and is taken into account the most effective Galapagos cruises within the Galapagos Islands.

In case you are looking for an expedition ship to take to the Galápagos Islands, the Santa Cruz II was improbable. Plus it runs with carbon-neutral operations, is environmentally sustainable, and works with the area 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 specialists, and personalised 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, mountain climbing, and day excursions, are additionally included.

The Darwin Analysis 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 one issues it’s a must to pay for when onboard are drinks on the bar (though they’re affordable and have a number of glad 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. Nevertheless, a bit of 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 scorching tubs after a day of mountain climbing and washed our garments on the similar time.

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

  • HX based Expedition Cruising in 1896 and is the international chief in sustainable cruising.
  • At the moment, it’s the largest operator by capability in expedition cruising.
  • HX affords large adventures on small, custom-built ships to over 250 locations in additional than 30 nations 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 had been the primary to ban heavy gas oil (2009) and single-use plastics (2018).
  • When selecting a Galapagos Cruise, you’ll be able to really feel snug figuring out that this firm is taking further precautions to protect the setting, 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, mountain climbing, SUP, and zodiac cruising by means of the archipelago looking for marine life similar to sea turtles, sharks, and sea lions.

We had an opulent expertise from the second we landed in Quito to our closing vacation spot within the rainforest of Mashpi Lodge. In complete, 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 non-public switch to the luxurious JW Marriott Resort Quito. This resort 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 beautiful 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 individuals 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’ll be able to see as a lot or as little as you want!

After 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 high day journeys from Quito and was included as a pre-tour to our Galapagos journey. Only a brief drive from the capital, Cotopaxi Nationwide Park is residence to the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of many highest lively volcanoes on the 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 had 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’re a tiny archipelago 1,369 km off the coast of South America with no different land in sight. It actually looks like you’re an early explorer once you land on the islands.

Galapagos National Park Entrance

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

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

Welcome Assembly and Emergency Drills

Galapagos Cruise boarding

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

Lunch was a buffet adopted by a foremost course and dessert. We may even have wine or beer if we felt prefer it. However, 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. As soon as we had 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 Seaside

Galapagos Cruise Mosquera Island

Our first afternoon within the Galapagos was already off to a tremendous begin with a day tour that started with a panga trip (you might 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 had been let off on essentially the most pristine white sand seashore 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 seashore watching frigate birds construct nests and puff their crimson chests to draw a mate, loved sea lions enjoying 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

Because the solar set, we returned to the pangas in dinner 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 can be full with out getting within the water and most Galapagos cruises supply a number of alternatives for snorkeling. We had a number of possibilities to go swimming, but in addition snorkeling. For individuals who need 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 needed 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 had 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 odor up our rooms. Moist fits will be fairly smelly.

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

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal Sea Lion on Beach

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

Large Tortoise Breeding Middle

Galapagos Cruise David Rodriguez Centro de Crianza de Tortugas Terrestres

There isn’t any doubt that essentially the most iconic wildlife on the Galapagos are the large tortoises. The pleasant giants reside to 200 years previous and might weigh as much as 800 kilos! We had three completely different alternatives to see large tortoises with our first cease being the latest tortoise breeding middle on the Galapagos Islands, the David Rodriguez Centro de Crianza de Tortugas Terrestres.

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

Galapagos Cruise Giant Tortoise

Tortoises had been practically worn out because of whalers and pirates taking tortoises to their ships to make use of as meals. As a result of large tortoises can go for thus 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 practically 100,000 large tortoises on the Galapagos. At the moment with the entire 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 get pleasure from downtown San Cristobal. This city is known for the colony of sea lions that bask on its shores. Right here you’ll discover sea lions on the sidewalks, on park benches, and even in boats. They’ve fenced off the city because the final time we had been right here in order that they now should work a bit more durable 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 Experience to the seashore 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 one in every 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) had 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 discover ways to take higher pictures with our iPhones and cameras as our ship moved to the subsequent location. There may be by no means a boring 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 will be as busy or as relaxed as you would like. Keep in mind, 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 gave the impression to be enjoying a sport of “let’s see how shut we are able to get to the people with out truly touching them.”

After enjoying 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 and not using a care on the planet, and as an alternative of snorkelers needing to go looking and observe sealife, they arrive to you! We had the prospect 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 Analysis Station. This tour took us to a different large tortoise breeding middle with a deal with training. We discovered all in regards to the evolution of animals of the Galapagos, its historical past, and, after all, Darwin’s idea of pure choice.

We even noticed Darwin’s finches, nevertheless, we discovered that it was the mockingbird that was essential 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 Large 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 contented, lengthy life, and despite the fact that he didn’t produce offspring, he did have 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 large tortoises of their pure habitat. Driving as much as our subsequent vacation spot, we noticed tortoises on the street, tortoises within the fields, and tortoises beside cows; they had been in every single place.

We walked by means of the grounds and noticed tons of of large tortoises going about their each 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 at the moment’s setting.

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 displays displaying us how spirits are fermented and the way sugar cane is harvested.

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

galapagos cruise sugar cane plantations

At the moment, 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 just half a visit. I went away with fond reminiscences 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

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

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

Meeting the captain on our Galapagos Cruise

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

It is rather cool to hang around on the bridge and watch the officers effortlessly sail the ship by means of an unforgiving setting. We extremely advocate you are taking it should you can go to the bridge!

Adventurous Days

Christmas Iguana on Espanola Island on our Galapagos Cruise

Like our normal days on the SM Santa Cruz, we had been up on the daybreak participating in snorkeling, panga rides, and hikes. It’s the expedition staff’s aim to have passengers encounter a minimum of 11 of the Huge 15 Galapagos animals. That meant that we had been out on the boats from morning to night looking for these iconic endemic animals.

What are the Galapagos Huge 15?

Galapagos Islands Big 15 Fur Seal

Galápagos Large Tortoise, Blue-Footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Galápagos Sea Lion, Santa Fe Iguana, Land Iguana, Larger Frigate Hen, Galápagos Hawk, Galápagos Fur Seal, Galápagos Albatross, Galápagos Flamingo, Galápagos Penguin, Galápagos Hawk, Crimson-Footed Booby, and Flightless Cormorant.

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

Day 6 – Mosquera Island Eden Island

Galapagos Islands Blue Footed Boobie

Snorkel with sharks

Our closing day ended with our most intense snorkeling journey. Our information had watched us all week to see how nicely 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 had 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, but it surely didn’t present itself as soon as we jumped within the water, however we had been fortunate sufficient to see a number of sharks within the depths beneath.

Galapagos Islands Snorkeling With Sharks

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

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

Last 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 trip again to the ship feeling utterly happy 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 right period of time. Days are lengthy and busy; I gained’t lie, we had been exhausted but exhilarated abruptly and we wouldn’t have it another approach. We made nice new pals and had the time of our lives. We had taken half in so many distinctive experiences that we didn’t need to miss a factor.

E-book your Galapagos Cruise and save as much as 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Particulars right here.

A Galapagos Cruise is on many individuals’s bucket lists, and we cherished our time on this remoted area. Whereas it is rather completely different from different cruise locations, if you’re prepared for an journey, you’ll take residence reminiscences that can final a lifetime.

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