Grace Galapagos Cruises
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The 16-passenger Galapagos Grace was a wedding gift from Aristotle Onassis to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, and it was on board this vessel where they spent their honeymoon getaway. Cruise back in time and lie back in luxury as you enjoy one of the finest cruises available in the Galapagos Islands. The Grace boasts a high crew-to-passenger ratio, spacious cabins and stylish lines. The carefully selected professional and friendly naturalists aboard are the most knowledgeable in the region, with an average of 15 years of experience guiding on the Islands. Travelers comment that the service on board this ship, coupled with the true feeling of a safari experience, is unlike anything that is currently offered in Galapagos.
Experience the full spectrum of Galapagos wildlife that made the Islands famous and inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Many Galapagos cruises avoid the long navigations to save costs, but the Grace believes that a true Galapagos experience involves visiting the most remote islands as well. Amongst these is Genovesa, or Tower Island, found far north on the archipelago. Visit this “Island of Birds” and be amazed at the variety of bird life that inhabits this partially-submerged volcano.
Grace operates two unique 8-day Galapagos cruise itineraries, which can be combined into an all-encompassing 15-day cruise. Click on the link to our website for more details.
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Call today to inquire about a specific Galapagos Grace itinerary or to learn more about Galapagos Grace cruises.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Rates vary by season and cabin starting at $6100 per person. Please see website for full details on rates.
Day 1: Baltra To Whaler's Bay (Santa Cruz) & Eden IslandBaltra Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Fly to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands and board M/Y Grace. Spend the afternoon at Whaler's Bay and Eden Island. On the north shore of Santa Cruz, Whaler's Bay is a beautiful sandy beach, a great welcome for visitors. As you drift though the quiet waters in a panga, you are likely to see marine life and, when disembarking at the bay, enjoy the fabulous opportunity to snorkel or swim in the clear water. This is a peaceful place that will leave you feeling that way. Also enjoy snorkeling, panga rides and the opportunity to kayak at Eden Island. Reconvene back on board the Grace for a welcome cocktail and first formal briefing.
MEALS: lunch and dinner
Day 2: Santa Fe & South Plaza IslandsSanta Fe Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Begin the morning on Santa Fe Island, which may well be the oldest island in the Galapagos. Anchor at one of the most beautiful and most sheltered bays in the archipelago for some of the best snorkeling in its crystal clear waters. It's also one of the best locations to see sea turtles, swim with sea lions and glimpse the Galapagos white-tipped shark. After a wet landing, walk up to a nearby cliff to see the land iguanas through an area of opuntia cactus. Other animals present are the Galapagos hawk, owls, frigates, pelicans, manta rays and mockingbirds. The goal of this excursion is to spot one of the large endemic species of land iguana.
This afternoon sail to South Plaza Island - one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, yet one of the richest in wildlife. The dry landing transports you to a brilliant combination of life and colors. Land iguanas wandering through bright-red carpet weed, swallow-tailed gulls nesting around the overhang tops and red-billed tropicbirds and shearwaters flying with dancing displays. This 13-acre island is one of the best spots in the archipelago to see land iguanas and swallow-tailed gulls, both indigenous to the Galapagos. There are iguana nests scattered all over the hill. The sheer cliffs of the southern shore are a perfect bird habitat, making it an unparalleled bird observatory especially for swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters and red-billed tropicbirds. You'll also have the chance to spot the only marine-land iguana hybrids in the islands and one of the biggest sea lion colonies in the archipelago.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3: Prince Phillip’S Steps & Darwin Bay (Genovesa)Genovesa Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Genovesa (Tower) Island sits to the northwest, slightly removed from the Galápagos archipelago. The southwestern part of the island is an ocean-filled caldera ringed by the outer edges of a sizable and mostly submerged volcano. Genovesa is also known as Bird Island, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way. Named for a visit by the British Monarch in 1964, 81-foot Prince Phillip's Steps leads to a narrow stretch of land that opens out onto the plateau surrounding Darwin Bay, and extends to form the north side of the island. Red-footed boobies wrap their webbed feet around branches to perch in the bushes, and, in contrast, their “masked-booby” cousins dot the surface of the scrublands beyond. Crossing through the sparse vegetation, you will come to a broad lava field that extends towards the sea — this forms the north shore. Storm petrels flutter out over the ocean in swarms, then return to nest in the cracks and tunnels of the lava field, where their predator, the short-eared owl, is a frequent. Today there are opportunities to go on walks, hikes and dinghy rides, as well as snorkel and kayak.
Landing on the white coral sands of Darwin Bay and walking up the beach, you are surrounded by the bustling activity of great frigate birds. Farther along discover a stunning series of sheltered pools set into a rocky outcrop. A trail beside the pools leads up to a cliff overlooking the caldera, where pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world, can be seen nesting at the cliff‘s edge. Lava gulls and pintail ducks ride the sea breezes nearby. A brief panga ride brings you to the base of those same cliffs to reveal the full variety of species sheltering in the ledges and crevices created by the weathered basalt. Among them, red-billed tropic birds enter and leave their nests trailing exotic kite-like tails. This is also an intriguing place to go deep-water snorkeling, where the truly fortunate swimmer can spot one of the giant manta rays that frequent the inner bay along the cliff walls. You might also seem them at the surface as the sun sets on your first full day in the Galápagos.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4: Punta Espinosa (Fernandina) & Urbina Bay (Isabela)Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
At 4,858 feet, the big news on Fernandina Island, the youngest and westernmost of the Galapagos Islands, is La Cumbre volcano that erupts frequently, most recently in May 2005. Fernandina sits across the Bolivar Channel opposite Isabela. Today's destination is Punta Espinosa, a narrow spit of land in the northeast corner of the island, where a number of unique Galápagos species can be seen in close proximity such as marine iguanas, sea lions, flightless cormorants, and hawks. As your panga driver skillfully navigates the reef, penguins show off by throwing themselves from the rocks into the water. The landing is a dry one, set in a quiet inlet beneath the branches of a small mangrove forest. A short walk through the vegetation leads to a large colony of marine iguanas resting atop one another in friendly heaps along the rocky shoreline, spitting water to clear their bodies of salt. Nearby, sea lions frolic in a sheltered lagoon. This is one of the few places you can glimpse iguanas grazing on seaweed underwater. Farther down this stretch of shore, the world‘s only species of flightless cormorants have established their colony near an inviting inlet frequented by sea turtles. Back toward the landing and farther inland, the island’s black lava flows become more evident, forming a quiet, inner lagoon.
Urbina Bay is directly west of Isabela‘s Volcano Alcedo; make a wet landing (a hop into a few inches of water) onto a gently sloping beach. Walk amongst the dried coral heads, mollusks and other organisms that formed the ocean floor. A highlight of this excursion is the giant land iguanas, whose vivid and gaudy yellow skin suggests that dinosaurs may have been very colorful indeed. Giant tortoises inhabit this coastal plain during the wet season, before migrating to the highlands when it turns dry. This landing beach also provides opportunities to snorkel among marine creatures, or just relax on shore. Here we must take care not to step on the sea turtle nests dug carefully into the sand. Swim or snorkel from the beach.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 5: Tagus Cove & Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)Isabela Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
On the way to Isabela Island's Tagus Cove, the Grace sails through the Bolivar Channel. These are the coldest, most-productive waters in the Galápagos, the upwelling of the Cronwell Current, where dolphins and whales are frequently seen. Tagus Cove was a popular anchorage for whalers, pirates and other sailors since around 1836; visitors at this time marked their names in the canyons as a sign of their arrival on this site. The cove‘s quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, pelicans and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges. Upon landing ashore, a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance for a view of Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater crater, barely separated from the ocean but above sea level. The trail continues around the lake through a dry vegetation zone, and then climbs inland to a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views back toward our anchorage in the bay, as well as Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano (the highest point in the Galapagos) farther north.
At Punta Vicente Roca the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliff where a partially sunken cave beckons explorers. Masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along the point and the sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of cold-water currents in this part of the Galápagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life; this in combination with the protection of the coves makes Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago's most sough-after dive and snorkel spots. One cove is only accessible from the sea by way of an underwater passage. The passage opens to calm waters of the hidden cove where sea lions like to laze on the beach having traveled along the underwater route. In the late afternoon, visit Punta Albemarle on the very northern tip of Isabela. Rocky volcanic cliffs drop down to the ocean floor as almost vertical walls. You might see large animals like manta rays, marbled rays, hammerhead sharks and marine turtles, but also Chevron barracuda, snappers, yellow fin tuna, rainbow runners, wahoo and groupers.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6: Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer's Cove & James Bay (Santiago)Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Make a wet landing on Espumilla Beach, a large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers. Espumilla Beach was changed by El Nino; the brackish lagoons here underwent a process of sedimentation, and the flamingo colony that once existed here has moved elsewhere. Galapagos visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach come in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes you through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt; sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest, so be careful where you step. Swim or snorkel back at the beach time permitting.
Late morning, visit Buccaneer's Cove. This site served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships while other men went a shore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. The cove is very scenic with steep cliffs made of tuff and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "monk" and "elephant rock."
In the afternoon enjoy time at Puerto Egas, also known as James Bay, which offers an intriguing, eroded rock formation with an inland trail crossing the dry interior. The magical shorelines of the west of Santiago Island are a combination of tuff cone, lava flows and organic sand. A rocky coast with a very gentle slope is used by a great number of shore birds and reptiles. Oystercatchers, whimbrels, sanderlings, turnstones, tattlers and other waders are mixed with marine iguanas and bright crabs to feed by the rich littoral zone. Grand, partially-collapsed lava tunnels house a Galapagos fur sea lion colony. The snorkeling can be some of the best in the archipelago. Charles Darwin spent most of his Galapagos land time near this spot. Darwin describes his visit to James Bay in Voyage of the Beagle.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7: Charles Darwin Station & Highlands (Santa Cruz)Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Start the morning at Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galápagos National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park. Here, go ashore to visit the Fausto Llerena Center, a tortoise breeding and rearing facility run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 16 tortoises on the island of Española in the 1970s. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals. The local color of this port makes for an attractive stop-off, with restaurants, souvenir shops and cafés.
This afternoon enjoy a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. See the Twins (Los Gemelos), a pair of pit craters, and El Chato Tortoise Reserve for the chance to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers have given tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them. The best times to see tortoises here is during the cool dry season from June through December. Another attraction close by is a very large lava tube. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of its arched entrance and continues underground to the narrow passage that marks its exit.
MEALS: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8: Interpretation Center (San Cristobal)San Cristobal Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Before you bid farewell to the Grace and her crew, pay a visit to the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal, which presents a comprehensive exhibit of the islands‘ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna. From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. Then head to the San Cristobal airport for flights back to mainland Ecuador.
Alternative Itinerary: There are two unique 8-day/7-night Galapagos Grace itineraries to choose from. Shown above is Grace - Following in Darwin’s Footsteps. The other itinerary is...
Grace - Beyond Darwin's Footsteps
Day 1 - SAT - Isla Lobos & Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)
Day 2 - SUN - Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)
Day 3 - MON - Post Office Bay & Cormorant Point (Floreana)
Day 4 - TUE - Dragon Hill & Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)
Day 5 - WED - Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz) & Chinese Hat
Day 6 - THU - Rabida & Sullivan Bay (Santiago)
Day 7 - FRI - Pinnacle Rock (Bartolome) & North Seymour
Day 8 - SAT - Mosquera Islet & Disembark Baltra
Itinerary Notes: We may occasionally alter itineraries slightly for safety, or to take advantage of weather, wildlife, and unplanned discoveries. Our ability to be spontaneous makes our style of cruising unique.
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Isabela Island Adventure Cruises
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National Park Vacations
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Galapagos Islands National Park Vacations
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Wildlife Viewing Tours
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Galapagos Islands Wildlife Viewing Tours
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