The highlight of our two week trip to Ecuador and Peru was our 5 day expedition around some of the Galapagos Islands on the M/V Santa Cruz. She is a converted expedition/research ship so she is not a classic cruiser, but comfortable throughout with a large top deck and well sized dining and bar area. She carries a maximum of about 85 guests and a high ratio of staff to guests. On our voyage there were about 65 guests. We had cabins on the boat deck and it was well worth the investment. Big windows in one room and the other with a balcony off the back of the boat – great for sundowners watching the frigate birds catch the slipstream of the boat and soar overhead. The food was plentiful, varied and of a high standard. Remember you are 1,000kms from the mainland and the Galapagos produces very little of its own food, so hats off to the chefs for what the produce three times a day!!
The absolute highlight, and why you come, is for the excursions to the islands or the snorkeling trips. It felt like we were in the best wildlife documentary ever – the animals, reptiles and birds being completely un-phased by our presence. Expedition groups are small – ours had just six plus the guide. The guides were all incredible – so patient, knowledgeable and engaging!
The evening briefing and lectures (voluntary) were all excellent and the ship did not try too hard to lay on entertainment which would have felt wrong in this environment. Frankly you are too tired to stay up late. Be prepared for night-time cruising and the engines often came on at about 4 in the morning. The sea can be choppy which did not affect us, and the crew have plenty of experience of dealing with people with sea-sickness.
A trip to the Galapagos is an expensive undertaking – we went on a recommendation with the Santa Cruz and I hope you chose them based on this one. Quite superb.
(I have written this review here as I could not find the ship listed as a hotel – after all it is not!!)