Sail aboard the Santa Cruz II and discover every nature lover's dream come to life on the Galápagos Islands.

Starting at: $4,995 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Mother and baby seal  Travelers snapping a photo of seals   A tortoise and a traveler   Bright Frigate bird  Pair of Blue-footed Boobies  Swallow-tailed Gull  Two Nazca Boobies  Green sea turtle in the Galápagos  Sally Lightfoot crabs  Seals and Sally Lightfoot crabs  Seals basking on the beach  Colorful iguana

Wonders of the Galápagos Islands Voyage

A Voyage Aboard the 90-guest Santa Cruz II

9 days from $4,995

Sail aboard the Santa Cruz II and discover every nature lover's dream come to life on the Galápagos Islands.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The Smithsonian opens doors to sites that you could not see on your own and to travel with a Smithsonian Journeys expert brings life to the history and romance of the experience.

- Barbara C.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: Ocean-going ship requires using smaller boat conveyances to get to shore for excursions, although the ship may also pull into a pier for embarkation and disembarkation. This is an expedition-type cruise that involves  excursions by small boats and wet shore landings by rubber Zodiac boats (i.e. step from the Zodiac directly into ankle high water). Travelers must be able to negotiate a steep gangway and get in and out of the Zodiacs with minimal assistance. Excursions will be at an active pace during mornings or afternoons. Long periods of time standing and walking (up to one and a half hours) during outdoor activities and tours and nature walks, often without places to sit, yet it is always interesting due to vegatation and fauna. Walking two to three miles will be over sometimes uneven terrain, such as slippery walking trails in rain forests and beach areas. Opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and hiking are offered during the cruise. Be aware that you can experience hot temperatures (over 80 degrees), high humidity, and strong sun due to the proximity to the equator. Wildlife observation requires time spent on small excursion boats, which do not provide shade or protection from the strong tropical sun. There is a round-trip internal flight by regularly scheduled airlines between the mainland and Baltra Island.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

The Smithsonian opens doors to sites that you could not see on your own and to travel with a Smithsonian Journeys expert brings life to the history and romance of the experience.

- Barbara C.

2019 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Quito, Ecuador

Fly to Quito, the highest capital city in the world at 9,350 feet, and transfer to your deluxe hotel. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, yet only miles from the Equator, Quito is known for its magnificent Spanish colonial architecture and lively street life.

Day 2 — Quito

Quito is a city of startling contrasts, where thousands of years of native South American traditions are interwoven with imported Catholicism, the Spanish language and European culture. Quaint family-owned shops and open-air markets are steps away from gleaming skyscrapers and ornate Spanish Baroque-style cathedrals favored by the Conquistadors. The city tour features a visit to the noble, 16th-century church, Iglesia de San Francisco. In the heart of Quito, a World Heritage site, see the Moorish-influenced Catedral Metropolitana and Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesus, renowned for its lavish interiors decorated with an estimated seven tons of gold leaf.  End the tour with a visit to the Casa del Alabado Museum, a private museum of Pre-Columbian art housed in a 17th-century colonial mansion

This evening, attend a private welcome reception in the hotel. (B,R)

Day 3 — Quito

Journey to the Equator and stand with one foot in each hemisphere in the “middle of the world,” where an 18th-century multinational expedition located zero degrees latitude and established an accurate measurement of the earth’s size for the first time. Step inside the hundred-foot-tall monument to this endeavor for spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tour the Ethnographic Museum, illustrating the diversity of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples. (B)

Day 4 — Quito, Baltra Island, Galápagos Islands, Santa Cruz Island

Fly to the small Galápagos island of Baltra. Embark the Santa Cruz II in time for lunch. Depart Baltra and attend your first briefing by the English-speaking Ecuadorian naturalists.

The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). Walk past a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks and flamingos while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as a chance to observe land iguanas.

Attend the captain’s welcome reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Please note that the Santa Cruz II’s specific itinerary and cruise pattern is dependent on weather, sea conditions and Galápagos National Park Service regulations.

Day 5 — The Western Galapagos Islands: Isabela Island, Fernandina Island

Enjoy a day of introduction to an area of the Galápagos Islands that are rarely visited: the Western Galápagos Islands. Cruise through the Bolivar Channel, offering stunning views of the volcanic peaks of Isabela and Fernandina. Spend the morning at seahorse-shaped Isabela Island, snorkeling along the cliffs in the waters off Punta Vicente Roca and searching the northern shores for blue-footed boobies, Darwin’s finches and penguins that inhabit the area. This area is the nesting place for a Galápagos highlight: flightless cormorants.

Dominated by the sweeping slopes of La Cumbre Volcano, the moon-like landscapes of Fernandina Island are the habitat of one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in the Galápagos, including the famous flightless cormorant, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans and penguins. Explore how recent volcanic activity has reshaped the island’s topography, creating an ever-changing environment for the thriving species found only in the Galápagos. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz’s pristine white beaches, prickly pear cacti, vibrantly colored flamingos and prehistoric-looking iguanas make it an essential stop during a cruise around the archipelago. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about efforts to protect the island’s rare giant tortoises. Transfer to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amidst mist-covered forests.

This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities. Swim in the clear blue waters of secluded Tortuga Bay, home to black turtles, colorful reef fish, marine iguanas and lava gulls. Walk through the island’s trails or simply stroll along the sparkling white sandy beaches, the perfect avenues to experience Santa Cruz. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Floreana Island: Post Office Bay, Champion Islet, Cormorant Point

A short walk leads you to the historic barrel where postcards are traditionally left for guest from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Snorkel or cruise via Zodiac in the clear waters surrounding pristine Champion Islet, encountering sea horses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other aquatic wonders. Scan the skies and shorelines for possible sightings of the endemic Floreana mockingbird, common to the islands when Darwin visited, but critically endangered today.

Floreana was one of the first islands in the archipelago to be settled by European whalers and buccaneers. Walk along the brackish lagoons and mangroves near Cormorant Point, famous for the flamingos and pelicans that congregate here.

Attend the captain’s farewell reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — Baltra Island and Fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador

Dock at Baltra to disembark the ship. Fly to Guayaquil and transfer to the deluxe Hilton Colòn Hotel, where we have arranged for day rooms until travelers’ late-evening departure to the U.S., or continue on the optional Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley post-tour extension. (B)​

Day 9 — Arrival

Arrive in the U.S.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2020 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Guayaquil, Ecuador

Fly to Guayaquil, once a favored haven for 17th- and 18th-century English and Dutch buccaneers. Known for colorful neighborhoods and great views of the river and city. Check into the Hilton Colon Hotel.

Day 2 — Guayaquil/ Galápagos Islands

Fly to the small Galápagos Island of Baltra and embark the Santa Cruz II in time for lunch.

Attend your first briefing by the ship’s English speaking Ecuadorian naturalists as you cruise toward the Mosquera Islet—a small, volcanic uplift surrounded by lava reefs between Baltra and North Seymour islands while you are briefed on the exciting week ahead, filled with activities and the wonders of nature in the Galápagos. Make a wet landing by Zodiac and wade to shore along a shallow reef as your naturalist guides point out sea lion colonies.

Attend the Captain’s Welcome Gathering on board the ship this evening. (B,L,R,D)

*Please note that the itinerary and cruise pattern is dependent on weather, sea conditions and Galápagos National Park Service regulations.

Day 3 — San Cristóbal Island

In the midst of an abundant deciduous forest on San Cristóbal Island, visit a conservation and breeding center for endangered giant tortoises and see these amazing creatures up close in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for dozens of bird species and two endemic species, the San Cristóbal mockingbird and lava lizard! 

This afternoon, explore Punta Pitt and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the San Cristóbal shoreline. Be greeted by hundreds of barking sea lions as you make your way to the only site in all of the Galápagos Islands where all three species of boobies congregate in one place—the blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies. Look for two species of frigate birds, plus swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Santa Fe Island/ South Plaza Island

Pristine white beaches, prickly pear cacti, droves of sea lions and prehistoric looking endemic iguanas make Santa Fe Island an essential stop for explorers of all ages! Enjoy snorkeling and swimming, glass-bottom boat rides or even kayaking in the lagoon’s crystal clear waters.

On South Plaza Island, watch as gray and yellow land iguanas wait patiently for sweet pear fruit to drop from the cactus grove among a landscape of crimson succulents. Join your naturalist guides for an evening of stargazing (weather permitting) and learn more about how explorers once used the night sky to navigate. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Santa Cruz Island

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about efforts to protect the island’s rare giant tortoises. Continue to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amid mist-covered forests. 

This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities for the whole family. Swim in the clear blue waters of secluded Tortuga Bay, home to black turtles, colorful reef fish, marine iguanas, and lava gulls. Hike the island’s wilderness trails or walk the sparkling white sandy beaches and look out for seashells, Galápagos crabs and brown pelicans in search of their prey. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Española Island

This morning, visit Punta Suarez on Española Island for a look at the unique wildlife during a nature walk guided by your expert naturalists. This island is known for its unique seabird colonies, including the Galápagos albatross, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Watch the geyser-like spray of the famous Punta Suarez blowhole, and see the island’s red and green marine iguanas up close. 

Cruise to Gardner Bay and the pristine Osborn Islet while scanning the skies and shorelines for sightings of endemic mockingbirds, yellow warblers and Darwin’s finches. In the islet’s turquoise waters, snorkel, swim or kayak and keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other fantastic aquatic wonders. (B,L,D) 

Day 7 — Eden Islet/North Seymour Island

Visit Eden Islet off the coast of Santa Cruz Island for more encounters with the incredible Galápagos wildlife. From a Zodiac, watch as blue-footed boobies dive into the lagoon, frigate birds flit about and reef sharks glide smoothly along the ocean floor. 

Enjoy a walk through the natural wonders of North Seymour Island, with more chances to encounter blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, and marine iguanas. 

Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — Baltra/Guayaquil, Ecuador

Dock at Baltra to disembark the ship. Fly to Guayaquil and transfer to the deluxe Hilton Colòn Hotel, where we have arranged for day rooms until travelers’ late-evening departure to the U.S., or continue on the optional Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley post-tour extension. (B)​

Day 9 — Arrival

Arrive in the U.S.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)