The M/V Santa Cruz, which in 1998 was fully redesigned and refurbished to provide first class accommodation for its passengers, has a very professional and dedicated crew providing a personal service and the highest of standards. The Travel Team consists of 6 naturalist guides who will delight guests with diverse natural history explanations, superb on-deck talks, and eye-catching lectures. The guides lead daily shore visits to the islands where you will have the chance to walk amongst hundreds of iguanas, see brightly Sally Lightfoot Crabs scuttling across the rocks and watch families of sea lions basking in the sun.
There is a wide choice of comfortable cabins on board the M/V Santa Cruz, all with porthole or window with views out to the sea and a private bathroom with shower. The Junior and Master Suites both have an additional sofa bed, which can be used for a child, and the latter have their own balcony, for that extra little bit of luxury.
The ship's spacious Sun Deck features a bar and jacuzzi, along with an observation area for dolphin and whale watching. The dining room, lounge and bar are elegantly appointed, as is the well-stocked library/reading room. As an alternative to snorkelling, the glass-bottom boat offers another opportunity to observe the fascinating and very diverse marine life.
The M/V Santa Cruz is a particularly good option for families wishing to visit the islands, with its variety of accommodation, special children's activities and selected family departures during the summer.
The Boat Deck on the M/V Santa Cruz has 2 Master Suites with double beds (plus an extra sofa bed for a child) and a private balcony, 2 Junior Suites with twin beds (plus a sofa bed for a child) and 6 Superior-Plus cabins with twin or double beds. There are also 33 standard cabins with twin double or triple beds, located over the Boat Deck, the Main Deck and the Upper Deck. The comfortably furnished cabins are all air conditioned and outward facing, with picture windows or porthole style windows.
A trip to the Galapagos is a great experience for children, combining both learning and adventure. Children aged 6 and above are welcome on board the M/V Santa Cruz and the 'Young Pirates' program, for 6-12 yr olds, makes sure children have a fun time whilst allowing adults some free time. There are special children's menus, earlier meal times and children's activities including handicrafts, Galapagos movies, puzzles and stargazing. M/V Santa Cruz also offers some designated family departures.
The M/V Santa Cruz's fantastic Sun Deck has an open-air jacuzzi, bar and relaxation area with table and chairs and an observation area with sun loungers, perfect for dolphin and whale watching. On the Upper Deck ones finds further facilities including a boutique, natural history library, bar and lounge area and a dining room. The ship also counts with a glass bottom boat, wet suits for use during the cooler season (Jun-Dec) and snorkel equipment.
Cruises on board the M/V Santa Cruz are carefully designed to include interesting and varied daily visits to the islands, lead by the ship's expert bilingual guides. There is also plenty of opportunity for guests to enjoy swimming and snorkelling with the wildlife, glass bottom boat trips and stargazing. Natural history talks and presentations are given by the guides and are a chance to learn more about the fascinating flora and fauna of the islands.
The M/V Santa Cruz has a highly experienced crew of 52 plus a Travel Team made up of a chief naturalists and five naturalists. The bilingual naturalists are highly qualified and extremely knowledgeable about the Galapagos environment and its wildlife. They will share their passion for the islands with you, leading on-shore excursions and giving lectures and presentations on board.
When to travel
There's never a bad time to visit the Galapagos. The peak season lasts from mid-June through early September and from mid-December through mid-January. The national park limits the number of visitors to each island and coordinates each ship's itinerary, so the Galapagos will never feel like Disney World. But if you visit in the summer, you are less likely to feel a sense of solitude and isolation.
From December through to May the water and the air are warmer, but this is the rainy season. It drizzles almost daily for a short period of time. Ironically, this is also the sunniest time of year.
June through November, the Humboldt Current makes it way up to the Galapagos from the southern end of South America. The current brings cold water and cold weather, but it also brings water rich in nutrients and plankton, which attracts fish and birds. During this season there always seem to be clouds in the air, but it rarely rains. It's also quite windy, and the seas tend to be rougher.
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Location and directions
The Galapagos archipelago consists of 19 volcanic islands and 40 islets, 600miles off the coast of Ecuador.
How to get there
13 hour International flight to Quito via Madrid, from there its a further 3 hour domestic flight to the Galapagos Islands