Santa Cruz II Review

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Editor Rating
Very Good
Adam Coulter
U.K. Executive Editor

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015. It now operates mostly as a charter for Hurtigruten.

The five-deck ship looks and feels brand new, from the public areas to the cabins and bathrooms, all of which have been given a stylish, contemporary design by experienced ship designer Richard Nilsson.

Santa Cruz II is an expedition ship, not a "cruise" ship in the traditional sense, so do not expect a cruise director, a show every night or a casino. The emphasis is on what you see and experience off the ship. Having said that, you certainly won't be roughing it; the ship offers very high comfort levels, superb food, outstanding guides and excellent facilities.

One of the real stand-out aspects is the service, which is unfailingly polite and friendly. It might be a cliche, but the atmosphere is like that of an extended family that welcomes you in. It's not surprising: Most of the crew have been with the company for 10 to 20  (and in one or two cases, 30-plus) years, and all served onboard Santa Cruz.

The ship's eco-credentials are second to none. Metropolitan Touring pioneered recycling both on land and at sea, with a program set up in 1979. The environmental message is emphasized at every briefing, there are different bins for recycling in all the public areas, water is all recycled and you are encouraged to reduce and reuse as much as possible.


Highly-trained, informative guides; outstanding service; comfortable, modern cabins


More could be made of the guides' wealth of knowledge, rather than just one lecture

Bottom Line

Excellent ship for learning about the natural history of these islands in comfort

Fellow Passengers

The passenger makeup varies tremendously, and it is hard to pick a "type" or even one nationality. The majority will hail from the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. There are a mixture of tour groups, multigenerational parties and couples. Ages vary from early 20s to late 70s, and during school holidays, you'll find children onboard. The one thing that unites everyone is a sense of adventure and curiosity. Announcements are in Spanish and English, with passengers divided by language (Spanish speakers, and everyone else). The ship is sociable, and you'll soon find you'll get to know fellow passengers.

Santa Cruz II Dress Code

Expedition wear is the attire throughout the day -- shorts, hats, long pants if you're about to head off on an excursion and sturdy walking shoes. At night, it's "cruise ship casual," so avoid bare feet and T-shirts, but shorts and sandals are perfectly acceptable. There is no formal night, and no one is overly concerned about what you're wearing, even at night.

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Santa Cruz II Cruiser Reviews

Amazing Adventure Cruise

Dining room was casual with hiking shorts/pants, polo's/tee shirts for breakfast and lunch.Dinner-sit down with usually 2-3 choices for appetizer, main course, and dessert.Read More
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couple2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Wonderful ship and crew, not so wonderful itinerary

My husband and I and our three teen-aged boys recently returned from a spring break trip on the Santa Cruz II, Western Itinerary. We thoroughly enjoyed the Santa Cruz II.Read More
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couple2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Onboard Santa Cruz II -- 7-day Eastern Route of the Galapagos Islands

There are several guides onboard Santa Cruz II, everyone is very knowledgeable about the Galapagos Islands.Read More
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many10+ Cruises

Age 20s

Fantastic mid-size ship

The Santa Cruz II ship was very comfortable and had a nice layout.Read More
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couple2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

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