Explore the Galapagos on a Small-ship Cruise With This Expedition Travel Company

For more than a century, Hurtigruten has made a name for itself with its adventurous Polar expedition cruises, but now its horizons are expanding to include a popular bucket-list destination: the Galapagos Islands.

Starting Jan. 5, 2022, travelers looking to explore the natural wonders of the Galapagos can embark on a 9-day itinerary with Hurtigruten Expeditions. The journey begins with two days in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, with a full-day visit to Cotopaxi National Park, home of the highest active volcano in South America. Travelers could also begin their adventure with an optional four-day, pre-trip itinerary in Machu Picchu.

Then, travelers will embark on the 90-guest MS Santa Cruz II for a six-day cruise in the Galapagos.

To welcome guests on its newest itinerary, the vessel is also getting a makeover, with upgrades to all suites and cabins, the explorer lounge, dining room, bar, and all other public areas. Hurtigruten Expeditions is known for its Science Area onboard other ships, so one will be added to the MS Santa Cruz II to give travelers a deeper understanding of the Galapagos' unique flora and fauna, as well as its colorful wildlife.

To further enhance the guest experience, Hurtigruten has also partnered with Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, a travel company with years of experience in escorting groups to the Galapagos.

"Galapagos has mesmerized curious travelers for hundreds of years, and it's one of the ultimate expedition cruise destinations," Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of the Hurtigruten Group, told Travel + Leisure. "For us, it has been the natural next step in the expansion of our global offering."

Highlights of the Galapagos cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions include exploring the Giant Tortoise breeding center, getting close to sea lions and land iguanas, bird watching for the many rare species that live in the area, kayaking, and snorkeling. Guests will also be treated to daily lectures designed to help them better understand the islands, their history, and its wildlife both on land and in the sea.

And in true Hurtigruten fashion, the company is putting sustainability at the forefront as these itineraries will be entirely carbon neutral.

"With Galapagos also being one of the most pristine and best-protected parts of the world, it was very important to find the right partner, which we did with Metropolitan Touring," Skjeldam said. "It was truly love at first sight between our two companies – in the way we operate, our focus on sustainability, and our ethical approach to the destinations we serve."

Pricing for the Galapagos itinerary usually starts at $10,723 per person, but is currently on sale with a 22% discount. For more information and booking visit the Hurtigruten Expeditions website.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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