Celebrating the Discovery and History of the Galapagos Islands Aboard Santa Cruz II

Human History of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands were discovered by accident one March 10th, 1535 by Bishop Tomas de Berlanga. It might be surprising to people nowadays, but back when he came across them, he actually found the islands quite disappointing and described them as, “a land where God seemed to have showered stones in the middle of the ocean, stones inhabited by bizarre animals – like tortoises carrying a ‘galapago’ (saddle), stupid birds, and dragon-looking lizards.” Luckily, times changed and now the world celebrates the Galapagos’ geological and natural “quirks” as we did on this special day aboard the Santa Cruz II.

Tomas De Berlanga Discovered The Galapagos Islands
Monument Of Berlanga Un Soria, Spain. Photo By: Zarateman, Wikipedia Commons.

Sharing our History with our Guests

When our guests entered the Expedition Lounge, we greeted them with a colorful board on which we posted information and interesting facts about this fortuitous event that took place in the 16th century. At that time, people really didn’t understand the idea that the Earth was round. It was commonly believed that if you sailed away from the Pacific coastline of South America, you would hit a bottomless pit. The philosophy of utilitarianism was also strong: if something yielded a benefit for mankind, it was considered a gift from God; but, if anything did not prove to be useful, it was thought to be the Devil’s doing. The Galapagos Archipelago, with its rocky shorelines, arid landscapes, thorny vegetation and lack of freshwater, didn’t qualify as a place that Bishop Berlanga would ever be likely to come back to. The Enchanted Islands, as they were named back then, were not called that way because of their inviting charm. No. The word “enchanted” referred to its original context: bewitching, spellbound, cursed. The Islands floated on the ocean, seemingly appearing and disappearing at times.

Conference About The Discovery Of The Galapagos Aboard Santa Cruz Ii.
A Lecture About The Discovery Of The Galapagos, Given By Guest And Naturalist Fabio Lacoponi.

Spaniards, Pirates, and Whalers, oh my!

During our second day on board, we took it upon ourselves to keep introducing our guests to the interesting history involving the discovery of the islands. We love to share our history with those who visit our beautiful country! So we prepared talks about the Archipelago’s human events that shaped it into what it is today. Guests are always interested in finding out more about how the Galapagos were favored by pirates and how the world gradually started to change the perception they originally had of this magical place. Pirates found a few freshwater grottos, but most importantly (and sadly, as we would find out many years later), they found out giant tortoises were a highly nutritious source of protein. This information was then passed on to whalers, who managed to hunt more than 100,000 tortoises as food. It wasn’t until decades later that the Galapagos finally started to gain recognition seen for their true worth and beauty.

Talk About The Discovery And Human History Of The Galapagos
Learning About The Human History Of The Galapagos Aboard Santa Cruz Ii.

Celebrating the Discovery and History of the Galapagos Islands Aboard Santa Cruz II

During this week, every evening saw our briefing begin by highlighting how the perception of the Galapagos had changed. It began as a place that was oftentimes compared to hell but then gradually turned into a place seen as a safe haven for sailors, whalers, and pirates. Then, later on, men found out they could grow crops in volcanic soil, and Charles Darwin put the entire archipelago on the map by pointing out its scientific importance in understanding evolution. Nowadays, it’s a place with a very strong sense of community, with an economy that is constantly invigorated by tourism. It currently serves as a worldwide and fantastic example of sustainable tourism and management.

At least that’s one thing we can all agree on: a lot has happened since that one March 10th, 1535!

Updated:May 9, 2023

Published:March 27, 2018


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person




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This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

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A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

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Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

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Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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