Find out what we at Pura really think about a Galapagos cruise on board Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is arguably one of the most accessible of the larger cruise ships in the Galapagos.
Santa Cruz is very comfortable with lots of space, great service and crew.
There is even a doctor on board.
Santa Cruz has a glass bottomed boat as well as sea kayaks for anyone who doesn’t want to snorkel.
Shortie wetsuits are included from June through December to keep out the chill.
This is a first class Galapagos wildlife cruise experience but on one of the larger, 90 passenger, boats.
This is a first class motor cruiser.
All cabins are a fair size, the standard cabins are 11.5 square metres.
All are outside with lower beds, some twin, some double. All have wardrobes.
There are 43 cabins in total.
You’ll find two junior suites situated on the upper deck and two master suites situated on the boat deck. All are around 22sqm in size.
The master suite provides double beds (plus a sofa bed for a child) and a private balcony.
The junior suite has twin beds (plus a small sofa bed).
There are six superior cabins of 15sqm which have twin or double beds.
The remaining cabins are standard of 11.5sqm spread over the Upper and Main decks.
Family guests have the choice of single, double and triple accommodations.
The communal areas are large and very comfortable including a spacious lounge-bar, a library, and a dining room with capacity for all guests in one seating, office and boutique, ample sun deck with a jacuzzi, exercise equipment and observation deck.
Being a larger ship she is really quite stable in the water. In addition, the boat follows a route which is relatively protected from the prevailing winds (coming from the south west).
However, there is bound to be some movement and this will be most noticeable between July and October.
You should be aware that on any boat you will have some noise from generators and from the engine when travelling. Given the substantial construction and size of Santa Cruz this is not generally at all intrusive.
Evolution boat specification
Length on deck: 72m/237ft
Boat width (beam): 12m/40ft
Average speed: 13 knots
Crew: 52 plus 6 guides & 1 doctor
In the Galapagos, wildlife viewing is the main activity. There is some gentle walking and snorkeling.
Conditions underfoot in the Galapagos can sometimes be rough as the islands are volcanic.
You should therefore be prepared for some walking over uneven terrain.
You can always opt out of excursions.
The owners of Santa Cruz set up the Fundacion Galapagos Ecuador in 1998 which is aimed at preserving the ecosystems of the Galapagos.
This has four main objectives, as follows:
1) Environmental education programmes for the island communities.
2) Solid waste recycling centre on Santa Cruz which sorts, compacts and sends back waste to the mainland for processing and manufacturing.
3) Coastal clean ups to collect any floating debris around the Galapagos to bring them back onto Santa Cruz for processing.
4) Community projects to engage locals in the sustainable use of resources. This ranges from handicraft production to a bakery supplying Galapagos boats with their provisions.
When should I go?
In the Galapagos, wildlife viewing is excellent year round. Weather and sea conditions do vary somewhat through the year: September is the coolest and choppiest-sea month. From October onwards the weather warms up and the waters calm down until the hottest, calmest-sea month of
Beginning of the rainy season. Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain. On Hood (Española) Island adult marine iguanas become brightly colored (green/red/black). The green sea turtles arrive at beaches to lay eggs. Land iguanas mate on Isabela Island. Both water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June. Ideal time for snorkeling.
On Floreana Island flamingos start nesting in greater numbers. Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island. Peak nesting season for the Galapagos dove. Breeding season begins for black-tailed pintail ducks. End of nesting season for Nazca (masked) boobies on Hood islands. The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F) temperatures remain high until April. Penguins move from Bartolomé Island to follow the cool waters back to the west.
Height of the rainy season (this does not mean it rains everyday). Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 30C (86F) high humidity. Warm waters excellent for snorkelers. Penguins still active in the water next to tropical fish! Deep surge from the northern currents on some shores, wet landings at places like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, Bartolomé can sometimes be a challenge. Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina. March 21st, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) can be an amazing sight.
Massive arrival of waved albatrosses at Española, amazing courtship starts. Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch. Eggs of land iguanas hatch on Isabela. End of hatching season for the giant tortoises. While the rains have ended, the islands continue to be quite green. Good visibility in the water for snorkelers.
North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship. Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant and Puerto Egas. Most of marine iguanas’ eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz. Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage. Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs. Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.
Beginning of the cold (garúa) season. Giant tortoises migrate to the lowlands on Santa Cruz island for the nesting season. South east trade winds return. Currents become a bit stronger. Seas pick up in surge and wave action. Male frigatebirds show off their red pouches on North Seymour. Southern migrating birds stop in the Galapagos on their journey north. Some groups of Humpback whales migrate up to equatorial
latitudes along the coast of Ecuador reach Galapagos.
Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), specially the Blue footed boobies on Española. Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina. American oystercatchers nest along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island). Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November. Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) are more likely to be observed, specially off the western coast of Isabela. Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue footed boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles and sub-adults. Water temperature around 21C (68F).
Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago.
Nazca (masked) boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island. The temperature of the ocean drops to 18C (64F), this varies according to the geographic zones among the islands. Migrant shore birds start to arrive. Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz. Oceans are quite choppy, currents at the strongest levels, surge can be expected along the shores that face west or south. Pupping season of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.
The air temperature reaches its lowest levels (19C-66F). Galapagos Penguins active around Bartolomé. Snorkelers can swim with penguins active at the surface or torpedo-like while underwater. Sea lions are very active. Females have reached estrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting. Shore fighting is common. Most intense sea lion activity on western and central islands. Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.
Lava herons start nesting until March. The Galapagos Fur Sea lions begin their mating period. Blue footed boobies raise chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela). Giant tortoises are still laying eggs. Days are not always sunny. Garúa can be expected in most locations, except the western islands where most days have a misty start but after few hours of daylight it burns off. Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful as the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes. Summits are clear, but low-lying fog covers the shoreline.
Pupping of sea lions continues. Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago. Breeding season for the brown noddies. Some species of jellyfish can be seen around the islands. The Genus Physalia is commonly seen floating around Gardner and Tortuga Islets. Some can also be seen stranded on the shores of Flour Beach (Floreana). Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period. Seas are calm. South east trade winds decrease, generally great weather. Water temperatures rising and good visibility for snorkelers. Sea lion pups (specially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers.
Giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch. Green sea turtles display their mating behavior. The rainy season begins, all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos becomes “green”. The first young waved albatrosses fledge. Great weather.
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