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What to Expect on a Galapagos Cruise with HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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 be part of 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 nice time on the ship with solely 39 like-minded passengers. We felt like we had our personal private service as 60 skilled guides and crew members sorted our each want.

About the 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 notice animals which might be distinctive solely to these enchanted islands. The Galapagos marine iguana is the one iguana on the earth 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 principle of evolution. Book your Galapagos Cruise and save up to 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Details right here.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

Where are the Galapagos Islands Located
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The Galapagos archipelago contains 18 essential 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 the easiest way 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 up to 50% on Feb and March Sailings: Details 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 Theory of Natural Selection after visiting the Galapagos.

Best Galapagos Cruise

Best Galapagos Cruises HX Hurtigruten Expeditions
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Following in Darwin Footsteps is the most effective route for a Galapagos cruise to introduce you to all of the highlights of Galapagos National Park in a quick time. Being on provides a distinctive 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
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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 finest Galapagos cruises within the Galapagos Islands.

If you’re trying to find an expedition ship to take to the Galápagos Islands, the Santa Cruz II was implausible. 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 supplied gourmand eating with wine pairings, luxurious cabins, native Galapagos consultants, and personalised service.

What’s Included on a Galapagos Cruise?

Galapagos Cruise Inclusions
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When on the MS Santa Cruz II, breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the principle 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, mountaineering, 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 low are included all through the day. The solely issues you could have 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 you might have considered trying.

Galapagos Cruise Rooms on the Santa Cruz II
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Gratuities are additionally included in Hurtigruten cruises, so that you don’t want to fear about what to tip crew and guides on the finish of the journey. However, a little 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 mountaineering 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 world chief in sustainable cruising. Today, it’s the largest operator by capability in expedition cruising. HX provides 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 trade. 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 gasoline oil (2009) and single-use plastics (2018). When selecting a Galapagos Cruise, you possibly can really feel comfy understanding 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
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Our six-day Galapagos cruise took us by way of a number of jap islands the place we may go snorkeling, sea kayaking, mountaineering, SUP, and zodiac cruising by way of the archipelago in quest of marine life similar to sea turtles, sharks, and sea lions.

We had a luxurious expertise from the second we landed in Quito to our remaining 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
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We arrived in Quito at night time, the place the HX Expeditions workforce met us and drove us by personal switch to the luxurious JW Marriott Hotel Quito. This resort is top-notch notch, with stylish rooms, a lovely swimming pool, a number of eating places, and a lounge.

We liked 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
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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 a good night time’s relaxation, we joined the HX expeditions workforce within the foyer of the JW Marriott for a day journey to the Cotopaxi Volcano and surrounding villages.

Galapagos Cruise Pre Tour
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Cotopaxi is without doubt one of the high day journeys from Quito and was included as a pre-tour to our Galapagos journey. Just a quick drive from the capital, Cotopaxi National Park is house to the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano, one of many highest energetic volcanoes on the earth.

Galapagos Cruises Cotopaxi Day Trip Villages
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After a hike across the lake to take within 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
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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 quick 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 appears like you’re an early explorer if you land on the islands.

Galapagos National Park Entrance
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Galápagos National Park laws are strict (rightfully so), and all of us had our luggage 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 sort 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
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We gathered our baggage and made our manner 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 essential course and dessert. We may even have wine or beer if we felt prefer it. But, with excursions to be had, our day was simply getting began!

Galapagos Cruise Food
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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
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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
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After an hour on the water, we have 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 pink chests to entice 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
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As the solar set, we returned to the pangas in meal time and a welcome toast with the captain

Day 2 – San Cristobal – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal
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No journey to the Galapagos Islands can 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 additionally 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 in the event you wished further buoyancy.

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal Snorkeling
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We met the expedition workforce on deck to get all of our gear, and after a frenzy of attempting on fits and becoming our discover, we have been prepared to go. This was our snorkeling gear for the following week, and we saved it on deck with our room quantity on it so we didn’t scent up our rooms. Wet fits could be fairly smelly.

Today was additionally the day we explored San Cristobal Island. Starting with a panga trip, we had a superb 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 a tremendous place to view Galapagos sharks.

Galapagos Cruises San Cristobal Sea Lion on Beach
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Morning Panga Tour to the seashore and snorkeling for the primary time. The water was heat and blue and this gave us a good 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
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There is little question that essentially the most iconic wildlife on the Galapagos are the large tortoises. The pleasant giants reside to 200 years previous and may weigh up to 800 kilos! We had three totally different alternatives to see large tortoises with our first cease being the latest tortoise breeding heart 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 right now there are solely 11. However, they may quickly be asserting that they discovered one other species that survived extinction so there are actually 12.

Galapagos Cruise Giant Tortoise
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Tortoises have been practically worn out due to whalers and pirates taking tortoises to their ships to use as meals. Because large 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 practically 100,000 large tortoises on the Galapagos. Today with all the conservation efforts, their numbers have climbed to 20,000.

San Cristobal Downtown

Galapagos Cruise San Cristobal Downton Sea Lion
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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 for the reason that final time we have been right here so that they now have to work a bit more durable to get into city, however some nonetheless sneak by way of, and it’s so cute.

Day 3 – Santa Fe Island

Galapagos Cruise Santa Fe Islands Smiling iguanas
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The day we began with a Panga Ride to the seashore with loads of sea lions within the water. After driving 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 a lengthy, leisurely hike round this island.

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

Galapagos Cruises Santa Fe Island
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After lunch, we had a images chat to find out how to take higher pictures with our iPhones and cameras as our ship moved to the following location. There is rarely 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 could be as busy or as relaxed as you want. Remember, it’s your trip!

Deep Water Snorkeling

Galapagos Cruise Santa Fe Islands Deep Water Snorkeling
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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 enjoying a sport of “let’s see how close we can get to the humans without actually 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 watch them gracefully swim by way of the water and low and behold, two noticed eagle rays swam into view.

Galapagos Cruise Snorkeling Sea Turtles
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The marine life go about their enterprise with out a care on the earth, and as an alternative of snorkelers needing to search and observe sealife, they arrive to you! We had the prospect to swim with them for a bit and it was extraordinary to watch them fly by way 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
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Santa Cruz Island is known for the Charles Darwin Research Station. This tour took us to one other large tortoise breeding heart with a focus on schooling. We discovered all in regards to the evolution of animals of the Galapagos, its historical past, and, after all, Darwin’s principle of pure choice.

We even noticed Darwin’s finches, nevertheless, 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 fable. It was nonetheless cute to see them although.

Galapagos Cruise Lonesome George Tortoise
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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 joyful, lengthy life, and though he didn’t produce offspring, he did have a good time attempting!

Rancho Manzanillo

Galapagos Cruises Rancho Mayzanillo
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After studying in regards to the tortoises and seeing them on the analysis heart, we lastly noticed the large tortoises of their pure habitat. Driving up to our subsequent vacation spot, we noticed tortoises on the highway, tortoises within the fields, and tortoises beside cows; they have been in all places.

We walked by way of the grounds and noticed lots of of large tortoises going about their every day lives. We even noticed a couple mating, soaking in ponds, and chewing on leaves. It was uplifting to see how they’re now thriving in right now’s surroundings.

Cultural Experiences

galapagos cruise cultural experiences
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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 one in every of our favourite excursions. We sampled Cacao, sugar, espresso, and 50+ proof moonshine.

galapagos cruise sugar cane plantations
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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 just half a journey. 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
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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 now 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 you want to do is ask the entrance desk whether it is a good time, and they’ll notify the bridge that you simply’ll be stopping by.

Meeting the captain on our Galapagos Cruise
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The captain was welcoming and informative, exhibiting us how the crew navigates by way 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 way of an unforgiving surroundings. We extremely advocate you are taking it in the event you can go to the bridge!

Adventurous Days

Christmas Iguana on Espanola Island on our Galapagos Cruise
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Like our traditional days on the SM Santa Cruz, we have been up on the morning time participating in snorkeling, panga rides, and hikes. It is the expedition workforce’s objective 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 in quest of these iconic endemic animals.

What are the Galapagos Big 15?

Galapagos Islands Big 15 Fur Seal
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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
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Snorkel with sharks

Our remaining 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 hold an eye fixed on us all as we snorkeled within the swift present.

We noticed a hammerhead shark from the panga, nevertheless 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
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It was a spectacular feeling to bounce 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 possibility for glass-bottom boat excursions so everybody may benefit from the islands’ marine life. It really caters to each degree of journey you’re comfy with.

Final Hike

Galapagos Cruises Frigate Bird Eden island
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After one final hike to see Frigate Birds puffing out their pink 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 glad with our time within the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Cruises Mating Blue footed Boobies
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We had six nights and 7 days within the Galapagos Islands, which was the proper period of time. Days are lengthy and busy; I gained’t lie, we have been exhausted but exhilarated and we wouldn’t have it another manner. We made nice new mates 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.

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

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

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