Diving & Sea Star Journey Cruise
Diving and Sea Star Journey Cruise
11 days from £4,895
This holiday is a fine blend of action, adventure, scenery and wildlife, with a touch of history thrown in for good measure! Staring in Quito, you’ll have a guided tour of this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, before you’re whisked over the ocean to the Galapagos Islands and your welcoming hotel in Puerto Ayora.
Next you’ll be welcomed aboard Sea Star Journey for the cruise portion of your holiday. This is a luxury yacht with spacious suites, light interiors and expansive decks. You’ll have time to explore a number of islands in the company of your expert guide, with opportunities for kayaking and snorkelling, between times relaxing on board, savouring fine food and enjoying a massage in the spa. It’s a holiday chock full of highlights, which will leave you with many fond memories and enough stories to dine out on back home for months!
- Quito 2 nights
- Santa Cruz (Galapagos) 4 nights
- Sea Star Journey 4 nights
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DAY 1: MONDAY
You’ll be met at Quito airport and driven to your city centre hotel, with time to relax after your journey. There’s a bar, courtyard restaurant and library, so you’ll have all need on site, though the main square of Plaza Grande is nearby if you want to venture further afield.
DAY 2: TUESDAY
Your guide will call for you after breakfast to lead you on a tour of the city. You’ll explore the fine churches, monasteries and cathedral in the old city, before travelling up to El Panecillo, site of the large statue of the Virgin if Quito, from where you’ll get great views over the city. The afternoon has been left free so you can unwind in a café, continue to explore or head back to the hotel. Breakfast
DAY 3: WEDNESDAY
Having had breakfast you’ll be transferred to the airport for the flight to the Galapagos Islands, landing in Baltra. You’ll be transferred to your hotel in Puerto Ayora, and will have the rest of the day to relax and settle in to your new surroundings. Breakfast
DAY 4: THURSDAY
The Dive Centre operates to a number of nearby dive sites and you’ll have 2 dives per day. The dives specified over the next 3 days are quoted as an example of where you might go. This morning you’ll take the boat out to Cousin’s Rock. This is both a reef and wall dive and you can expect to see some of the following: sea lions, white-tipped reef shark, rays, seahorses and many types of fish. The second dive is at Bartolome. There is a platform 10 metres down where you can see reef fish, and underwater cliffs where there are numbers of pelagic species. After your day’s diving you’ll return to the hotel to rest and reflect on all you’ve seen. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 5: FRIDAY
Today you’ll be just north of Santa Cruz, at Mosquera and North Seymour. The eastern side of Mosquera islet forms a vertical wall where you can hope to observe garden eels, white-tipped sharks, Galapagos sharks, moray eels and turtles. There are several diving sites at North Seymour to suit divers of differing levels of experience. The area has a great variety of marine species such as hammerhead sharks, eels, manta rays, snappers and dozens of brightly coloured reef fish by the reef. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 6: SATURDAY
On your final diving day you’ll visit Beagle Rocks to the south of Santiago, where there are 2 dive sites. This is a reef dive with many types of corals and sponges. Keep your eyes open for stingrays, eagle rays, barracudas, Galapagos sharks, turtles and sea lions. Your final dive is at Daphne, where you can dive to a small cave to watch resting white-tipped reef sharks, and a pinnacle where there are often several species of rays, Galapagos sharks, reef fish and barracudas. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 7: SUNDAY
This morning you’ll be transferred back to Baltra where a guide will be waiting to accompany you and fellow passengers to the harbour. You’ll board the Sea Star Journey, settle in to your cabin and find your bearings on board. Your first shore excursion will be to Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz. A walking trails leads to a saltwater lagoon where you should see flamingos and other marine birds. Look out for marine iguanas as you walk back to the beach. Tonight you’ll have your first dinner on board. Full board
DAY 8: MONDAY
This morning you’ll explore at Black Turtle Cove, by panga (dinghy) or kayak. There are good chances of seeing herons, pelicans and turtles. Having lunched on the Sea Star Journey you’ll head to Sombrero Chino, named for its resemblance to a conical Chinese hat. You’ll be able to observe interesting lava formations, and your guide will explain the geology of the islands. Wildlife on the small island includes sea lions, Galapagos penguins and marine iguanas. Full board
DAY 9: TUESDAY
Darwin Bay on Genovesa is one of the most photogenic beaches in the archipelago, a long stretch of fine white sand. Bird lovers will thrill to the sight of red-footed and Nazca boobies, whimbrels, lava gulls, finches and yellow warblers. Your guide will lead you along a trail that culminates at the cliff edge for some breath-taking views. In the afternoon you’ll ascend Prince Philip’s Steps, with views of nesting boobies, reaching the plateau where storm petrels soar overhead. Full board
DAY 10: WEDNESDAY
This morning you’ll have the chance to see the most photographed scene in the Galapagos. Having climbed up to the highest point on Bartolome you’ll be rewarded with the view down to the bay, with the sharp spire of Pinnacle Rock on the right, and Santiago Island in the background. Back down on the beach keep your eyes open for penguins and turtles. In the afternoon you’ll explore Sullivan Bay on Santiago, with its lava flows and cinder cones providing yet another photo opportunity. Tonight you’ll have your farewell dinner aboard the Sea Star Journey. Full board
DAY 11: THURSDAY
On your final shore excursion you’ll visit the highlands of Santa Cruz where you can hope to see woodpeckers and vermillion flycatchers, as well as giant tortoises in a dedicated reserve, a wonderful way to round off your time in these magical islands. You’ll then be transferred to Baltra airport for the flight back to the mainland. Breakfast
2020 Prices from pp sharing (ex. international flights):
01 Jan – 31 Mar 2020 from £4895
01 Apr – 31 Dec 2020 from £5610
Includes: 6 nights hotel accommodation on twin share basis, 4 nights accommodation on Grand Odyssey on twin share basis, meals as shown, private transfers as specified, half day Quito city tour, return flights from the Ecuadorian mainland to the Galapagos Islands, Ingala card (Galapagos immigration), 3 days of scuba diving including 2 dives and a snack lunch each day, all activities and excursions as offered by Grand Odyssey, services of a bilingual naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands
Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas (not currently required by British passport holders), travel insurance, Galapagos National Park Fee currently US$100 payable locally in US$, meals not shown as included, items of a personal nature, tips.
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in Quito. International return flights from the UK will cost from around £675 per person, subject to season and availability. We normally book these for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday that can begin on the day of your choice, though the Galapagos cruise departs on a specific day of the week, so this precise itinerary, using Grand Odyssey itinerary ‘B’, begins in Quito on a Monday.
NOTE: You can use a different cruise vessel if you prefer, in which case a different departure day might be required and the price will alter according to the vessel chosen. Please click here for the full collection of Galapagos yachts.
Patio Andaluz is in attractive colonial building dating back to the 16th century and has been beautifully converted to provide elegant guest accommodation. The architecture features arches, alcoves, balconies and patios and the hotel is filled with antique furniture and has beautiful polished wooden floors. The en-suite guest rooms are tastefully decorated in keeping with the colonial style of the building. After a busy day sightseeing in Quito, return to Patio Andaluz and wind down with a glass of cava in the cosy bar, browse through a book in the library or enjoy some tasty tapas. Later you can have a delicious dinner in the El Rincon de Cantuna restaurant in the main courtyard, which specialises in Ecuadorian and Spanish food and has an extensive wine list.
This is one of the longest established hotels in the Galapagos Islands. It’s set in lovely gardens where you can see and hear Darwin’s finches, and enjoy the scent of many flowers, and has an outdoor pool, sundeck and shaded patio. You can dine al fresco or in the Pelicano Restaurant, as you please, choosing between Ecuadorian specialities and international favourites. A continental buffet breakfast is served each morning. There’s a library which serves as a book exchange, and an office with a computer you can use to catch up with emails. The 24 guest rooms are all en-suite, and have ceiling fans and air conditioning. The main shops and restaurants of Puerto Ayora are about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and the Charles Darwin Centre is just a short distance away.
Sea Star Journey, launched in 2011, is a sleek motor yacht offering stylish contemporary accommodation. There are 9 spacious suites, all with picture windows, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a bathroom with hot and cold running water ensure a more than comfy stay. Social areas include the dining room and lounge with books and DVDs. Outdoors there are open and shaded areas and 2 jacuzzis. If you want to do some exploring of your own the Sea Star Journey has snorkelling equipment and kayaks available at no extra charge. For sheer indulgence you can’t beat a visit to the mini spa for a soothing massage.
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We know and love the Galapagos Islands, and would delighted to help you plan your perfect Galapagos holiday.
Call 01473 599082 and speak to one of our Galapagos travel specialists today.