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Grace Yacht 7-Night Itinerary A

What could be more romantic than taking a cruise through the Galapagos Islands on the very ship Aristotle Onassis gave to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco as a wedding present in 1956? Named after its late and very glamorous owner, the luxury-class 16 - passenger Grace Motor Yacht offers this amazing 8-day/7-night Galapagos Islands cruise will take you to scenic San Cristóbal Island, traveling to other eastern islands and various central islands. With a wealth of wildlife viewing opportunities, this carefully planned itinerary will take you to scenic islands where can observe the island’s huge and emblematic Galapagos tortoises and land iguanas in their natural habitat. During this “Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps” Galapagos Islands vacation, you will enjoy a flexible program that offers several alternative daily activities on land and in the water – but always amidst the stunning wealth of unique wildlife that inhabits these famous islands.

Reviews

“A note to thank you immensely for all your guidance & assistance in planning & completing our South American tour, including Quito, Galapagos, Santiago & Rapa Nui. It truly was an adventure & a fitting celebration of our 60th wedding anniversary”Larry and Pam Schaffer

Highlights

Galapagos Islands, San Cristobal (Kicker Rock), Española, Floreana, Bartolome (Pinnacle Rock) & North Seymour Island

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: San Cristobal Island: Airport – Lobos Island
Day 2: Española Island: Suarez Point – Gardner Bay
Day 3: Floreana Island: Cormorant Point – Champion Islet
Day 4: Santa Cruz Island: The Highlands - Charles Darwin Research Station
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach – Chinese Hat Island
Day 6: Rabida Island // Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay
Day 7: Bartolome Island: Pinnacle Rock // North Seymour Island
Day 8: Santa Cruz Island: Black Turtle Cove // Baltra Island: Flight Back to the Ecuadorian Mainland
Galapagos Map
1 1 2 2 3 3 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday
San Cristobal Island: Airport – Lobos Island

AM: In the morning you will fly from either Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to the Galapagos Islands. At the airport on San Cristobal Island, after you will pay your entrance fee to the national park,  a member of your ship's crew will then welcome you and accompany you to your yacht: the Grace.

PM: Lobos Island, across a small channel off the coast of San Cristobal Island, lives up to its name of  “Sea Lion Island” with its noisy population of frolicking and barking beasts. This is your first chance to share the water with a playful colony of those “lions of the sea.”

After this visit, you will have time for a shower as we get ready for our welcome cocktail and our first formal briefing before dinner.  

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Lunch - Dinner
Day 2 - Sunday
Española Island: Suarez Point – Gardner Bay

AM: Española is the southernmost, oldest and one of the most bio-diverse islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Its English name is “Hood Island,” in honor of the British admiral Samuel Hood.  Because of its isolated position, there is much endemic wildlife to be explored here – in addition to great snorkeling from Española’s remarkably beautiful beaches.

After breakfast, we will go on an excursion to Suarez Point. One of the archipelago’s most outstanding wildlife areas, this site boasts a long list of species along its cliffs and its sand and pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds, the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds are found here, as are other birding favorites that include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, Swallow-tailed gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved albatross – an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Several types of reptiles are unique to this island, including the marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard. In fact, this is also the only site where you will be able to see “red” sea iguanas. In addition, when heavy swells are running, Suarez Point is the site of a spectacular blowhole whose thundering spray shoots 30 yards up into the air. The trek here is on a stony path about a mile long, though the duration of this excursion is about 3 hours.

PM: On Española Island’s eastern shore, Gardner Bay is noted for its turquoise-colored waters and its magnificent beach, which we will visit in the afternoon. Around the bay’s small nearby islets, snorkelers will find an abundance of fish, as well as the occasional sea turtle and benign sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of Galapagos sea lions who love to swim with people. Birds, like the endemic Española mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent. 

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3 - Monday
Floreana Island: Cormorant Point – Champion Islet

AM: Today we will visit Floreana Island, considered to be one of the most exotic in the Galapagos archipelago.  Countless legends are part of the history of this island, as pirates and buccaneers were drawn to here in search of for food and water. Later the island was colonized by Norwegians, Brits, Germans and others who were in search of ways to make money from what they hoped to discover here. The name Floreana is in honor of Juan Jose Flores, Ecuador’s first president. This morning’s excursion is to the Cormorant Point visitor site. After a wet landing on the beach, we will go down a 100-meter-long path to a mangrove lagoon that is home to Galapagos ducks, black herons, oystercatchers, and plovers.  With a little bit of luck, you might also see flamingos. Another path leads to a small beach that is an important nesting site for sea turtles. In the shallow water there, one can often find stingrays and Whitetip reef sharks.  

PM: The next spot is Champion Islet. Though the island itself is off limits to visitors, the waters around this small landmass are great places to snorkel with sea lions and to see colorful tropical fish.  Occasionally, dolphins are sighted as boats approach the shore, and the cool currents here make Champion an excellent site for spotting schools of stingrays. 

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4 - Tuesday
Santa Cruz Island: The Highlands - Charles Darwin Research Station

AM: In the morning we will then visit the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where the lush landscape is a welcome contrast to the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. On the way, we will cross through different vegetation zones – from the dry lower region full of cactuses to the scalesia woods in the Highlands.  There one can find two small agricultural communities that grow the famous organic Galapagos coffee. While in the Highlands you will have the option of visiting one of two tortoise breeding centers: El Chato or Rancho Las Primicias. At either site, approaching these enormous and slow-moving reptiles is always an inspiring adventure. The El Chato tortoise reserve was founded in 1964 to allow visitors to observe the island’s huge Galapagos turtles and White herons in their natural habitat. You will also be able to walk through nearby underground lava tunnels formed during volcanic eruptions. As the outside of the lava hardened, the inside continued to flow to the ocean, creating these tunnels. Alternatively, Rancho Primicias is a great place to see about ten to fifteen Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild. In addition to being able to view the ocean from this location in the Highlands, you can walk through a lava cave that was formed by a volcanic eruption.

PM: In the afternoon we will head for one of the most visited spots in the islands. Located on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is primarily an international scientific research station situated on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. You will be taken to its visitor center to learn about the geology, climate, natural history and the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. However, the highlight of your visit here will undoubtedly be the research facility’s Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, which breeds giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles can live up to 150- 200 years and weigh between 250 and 300 kg. Approaching them in their humid and forested spaces is always an inspiring adventure. For decades, the Fausto Center was home to “Lonesome George,” who finally died in 2012 as the last of his particular species. The tortoises you will see here are accustomed to humans, so it’s an excellent spot for visitors to take photographs with them. Remember that looking at the animals is allowed, but touching is not, and it’s absolutely forbidden to jump over the walls or open the pen doors at any time.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5 - Wednesday
Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach – Chinese Hat Island

AM: we will arrive on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, where we will visit the long and sandy Bachas Beach, one of the most important nesting beaches for sea turtles. Here you can also find flamingos, Black-winged stilts, sea lions, herons, marine iguanas, and — with a little bit of luck — tiny Galapagos penguins. In addition, this beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles in the Galapagos. A female can lay eggs 3 or 4 times with an average of 70 eggs each, but they then spend 3 to 5 years without breeding. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago; these were once the property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II. In fact, the beach got its name because the English word “barges” was hard to pronounce for the local people – hence “Bachas” Beach. You will also have the opportunity to swim on this soft white sand beach or explore the fascinating underwater by snorkeling.

PM: In the afternoon we will make a wet landing on Chinese Hat Island, located southeast of Santiago Island. Its name describes the shape of the island, which you will be able to discern from a distance.  This island’s landscapes are dominated by volcanic formations and fragile lava tubes.  Because of this, it’s very important to stay on the paths. You will encounter a small colony of sea lions and then proceed to hike through this dark, unyielding island of solid rock.   

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 6 - Thursday
Rabida Island // Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay

AM: In the afternoon we will take a trip to the dark-rust-colored beach of the small, volcanic Rabida Island. A short path leads to a small lagoon that is popular among flamingos. This beach is one of the most beautiful snorkeling places in the Galapagos Islands and it has a great abundance of tropical fish and sea lions. Rabida Island is also the only site where Batfish live. A yellow saltwater lagoon is found behind the reddish beach, where vast numbers of brightly colored pink flamingoes can be seen lazing around male sea lions that have been ousted from their groups. In the late morning snorkeling, you will have an opportunity to swim along the rocks with sea lions and tropical fish. 

PM: In the afternoon we will land on the fourth largest island in the Galapagos: Santiago Island, also known as “James Island” or “San Salvador Island.” The old rusted machines and run-down buildings of former salt mine workers are still apparent on the island, though the last attempts to populate Santiago Island were given up on forty years ago.

On Santiago Island, we will head to Sullivan Bay, located on the eastern coast of Santiago Island. Its lava field, covered with lava cactuses, has a variety of interesting patterns of important geologic interest, as you will be able to observe the contrasting lava landscapes from an older eruption and a newer one formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.  After exploring these lava flows, you can swim or snorkel with playful sea lions.      

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 7 - Friday
Bartolome Island: Pinnacle Rock // North Seymour Island

AM: Upon arriving on Bartolome Island, you will discover a fascinating moonscape formed by various volcanic formations — including lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones — as we hike to the island’s summit for striking views of the surrounding islands, Sullivan Bay and the towering Pinnacle Rock. As the beaches at the foot of the Pinnacle Rock boast some of the finest snorkeling in the islands, you can discover a marvelous underwater world here and have a good chance of finding sea turtles gliding gently alongside you. On the rocks beneath Pinnacle Rock, it’s quite possible to spot some of the quick-as-an-arrow Galapagos penguins; at around 25 centimeters tall, these are members of the second smallest species of penguin in the world.  Likewise, you’re likely to see harmless Whitetip reef sharks sunning in these waters. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of snorkeling experiences, as the water here is generally clear, without too much surf and full of marine life.

PM: After a dry landing on North Seymour Island, we will take a short walk along its coast, where you will encounter Swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, and Cliff crabs. This part of Seymour Island is also known for being a major nesting site for Blue-footed boobies and one of the largest colonies of Magnificent frigatebirds (a species different from the Great frigatebird). As you enjoy this relaxing hike around various nesting sites, you can also spot both of the endemic species of iguanas: marine iguanas and land iguanas.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 8 - Saturday
Santa Cruz Island: Black Turtle Cove // Baltra Island: Flight Back to the Ecuadorian Mainland

AM: This morning we will visit is Black Turtle Cove, a nesting site for sea turtles, which peak their heads above the surface of the water while fish and other forms of marine life circle below.  With luck, the calm water will allow you to see different types of sharks (like the Whitetip reef shark) and schools of golden-colored Mustard rays. There are a number of mangrove forests here as well.

Then we will conclude this amazing experience in the Galapagos Islands, you will be transferred to the Baltra Island airport for your return flight to the Ecuadorian mainland. Enjoy your last look back at the “enchanted islands,” a unique paradise with inspiring natural wonders.

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Breakfast

Prices

2019 - Price per person
Price per person
SeasonDeluxe Staterooms: C3Grace Kelly SuiteMaster Suites: A1&A4Premium Staterooms: C1, C2 & C5Suites: A2&A3
Fall SeasonUS$ 6,900 PPUS$ 9,250 PPUS$ 8,195 PPUS$ 7,250 PPUS$ 7,700 PP
Regular SeasonUS$ 6,900 PPUS$ 9,250 PPUS$ 8,195 PPUS$ 7,250 PPUS$ 7,700 PP
2019 - Price per person
RoomGrace Kelly SuiteMaster Suite: A1 & A4Premium Staterooms: C1, C2 & C5Suites: A2 & A3
8 DaysUS$ 9,600 PPUS$ 8,500 PPUS$ 7,500 PPUS$ 8,000 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Cruise on board the Grace in double accommodations, with access to all facilities
  • All meals, as indicated in the itinerary
  • All transfers in the Galapagos Islands
  • All excursions mentioned in the itinerary
  • Services of an English/Spanish-speaking naturalist guide
  • Use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuits
  • Soft drink, juice, coffee and tea throughout the cruise
Not included in the price:
  • Flights between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (Quito–Galapagos–Quito)
  • Entrance fee to Galapagos National Park ($100 per person)
  • Galapagos Immigration Control Card ($20 per person)
  • Tips & gratuities to crew and staff
  • Bar consumption on board
  • Personal items
  • Medical/travel insurance (highly recommended)
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