(12:00 p.m EDT) — The Santa Cruz II –- the latest expedition vessel designed specifically for Galapagos cruises -– has just completed its maiden voyage around the islands (October 14, 2015).
The 90-passenger ship, which is owned and operated by Metropolitan Touring, replaces the Santa Cruz I, which has been operating in the Galapagos for 36 years.
Santa Cruz II will be offering four- five- and nine-night itineraries in the Northern, Eastern and Western Galapagos Islands.
Paulina Burbano de Lara, Metropolitan Touring’s executive president, commented, “We are delighted to announce the launch of our new Galapagos Islands expedition boat.
“The Santa Cruz II signifies the start of a new era of cruising in the Galapagos Islands and allows us to continue evolving the standard of accommodation, service and expert guiding that we offer our customers.”
Santa Cruz II started life as an expedition vessel for Chili-based tour operator, Australis, in 2002.
Metropolitan Touring purchased the five-deck ship earlier this year, and completely refurbished it. It has 50 single, double and triple cabins, and three Darwin Suites.
It also has a viewing platform in front of the Bridge, indoor and outdoor dining options, two lounge bars, a library, two ocean-view hot tubs and a gym. And, in a first for the line, the new ship also features kid-friendly facilities including a children’s play area.
Santa Cruz II arrived in the Galapagos on October 7 following a naming ceremony in Guayaquil, Ecuador on October 5, and set sail on its first voyage last Saturday (October 10).
When a new ship launches in the Galapagos it usually immediately replaces another. However, Metropolitan Touring has arranged for the Santa Cruz I to operate three final four-night itineraries for 210 local children between the ages of nine and 18.
Marketing director Maria Cecilia Alzamora said: “As a way to thank the community of the Galapagos and as a farewell ‘celebration’ of the Santa Cruz, we have invited 210 native children from the Galapagos to embark on voyages of discovery.
“For these young explorers we have organized three 4-night cruises on board Santa Cruz starting on October 11th. We truly believe that by making them fall in love with the Enchanted Islands, these young adventurers will engage in the conservation and protection of the islands wildlife.”
— by Adam Coulter, UK Editor