This review concerns the 5 day/4 night Eastern Galápagos Islands cruise on the MV Santa Cruz, operated by Metropolitan Touring, through which you can book directly. I think I would use the term expedition, as opposed to cruise, as this is a fulfilling, active adventure that is inclusive of all excursions. We opted for this shorter itinerary so that our children (ages 11/14/16) would remain engaged. Frankly we saw most of the animals that we would have seen on a longer cruise (with a few exceptions), but I'd highly suggest doing your homework on itinerary and time of year to ensure that you are visiting the islands of most interest to you. Another important factor to consider is the size of the boat. The Santa Cruz is one of the largest ships navigating in the Galápagos with a passenger capacity of 90. It never felt overcrowded whatsoever, but was still SIGNIFICANTLY rockier than a larger cruise ship. So again, know your preferences. A quick note regarding passengers...as a family, we were by far in the minority. My estimation is that near 80% of fellow passengers were aged 50-70s. That said, we felt completely welcome and not at all uncomfortable, which I note because that isn't always the case with an older demographic.
About embarkation...Embarkation in San Cristobal, handled entirely by Metropolitan Touring, was absolutely seamless, from directions given at Quito airport all the way to being loaded onto the Santa Cruz via zodiacs. There were short wait times and helpful employees as we first arrived on the boat, at which juncture we had a bit of time to orient ourselves to our cabins (more about cabins below), had a quick muster drill and then a buffet lunch (more about food below). Thereafter we had a wonderfully comprehensive, informative orientation to the boat, as well as the excursions, during which time our luggage was delivered to our cabins. After a quick unpack and change, we were on a zodiac boat headed out on our first excursion by 4pm.
Excursion to Punta Pitt...Our first excursion, which commenced with a tricky boat-to-zodiac transfer with the help of very adept staff members, brought us to Punta Rock (a rocky outcropping where gulls, frigates and boobies roosted) and then Punta Pitt (island of San Cristobal) where we wet-landed (i.e. we swung our legs over the side of the boat and exited with feet FULLY immersed through shallow water) and were greeted by sea lions and their pups lounging on the beach. The zodiac ride was pretty choppy, but this was not the case throughout the trip. We enjoyed a leisurely 2-hour hike (walk) which I would describe as easy, at a slow pace, with the occasional steeper incline/descent. Animals seen in addition to the birds on Punta Rock: sea lions, boobie chicks and adults (red footed, blue footed and Nazca), and lizards.