David E. Smith, Professor of Environmental Science

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Starting at $6,150 per person, based on cabin selection. Special Children’s pricing is available.

A Limited Number of Single Cabins are Available at additional cost.



Join Professor Dave Smith on this sea adventure in the extraordinary natural environment of the Galápagos Islands. These Islands are indeed a land of legend, a magical place where we can walk alongside giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, explore underground lava tubes, and swim safely among sharks and sea lions — adventures that will provide memories for a lifetime. We begin our adventure in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, a vibrant metropolis on the Guayas River delta. Aboard the 90-passenger M/V Santa Cruz, we’ll then cruise the Galápagos Islands on a 5-night/6 day cruise visiting these Enchanted Islands on an exciting itinerary that includes Fernandina, Isabela, Floreana, and Santa Cruz including a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. We conclude our expedition in the thriving port city of Guayaquil, replete with museums, shops, monuments, and cafés. A post-trip extension is available to visit neighboring Peru and Machu Picchu, one of the true wonders of the ancient world.

What to Expect


This program has been exclusively designed for University of Virginia alumni, families, children, and friends who would enjoy exploring the Galápagos Islands and learning about its natural history aboard the M/V Santa Cruz, and also visiting the bustling port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. This is a moderately active program. In the Galápagos, walks are approximately one to two miles long (sometimes over uneven and rocky terrain) at a leisurely pace suitable for wildlife observation. There will be wet landings on many islands. Dinghy rides along the coast, a glass-bottom boat and shorter walks are available for passengers not wanting to go on longer and more challenging walks. There are opportunities for swimming and snorkeling (snorkeling equipment is included and wet suits are available for rent aboard the M/V Santa Cruz). Temperatures range between the 70s and 90s F in the Galápagos and Guayaquil. Travel is by regular scheduled jet aircraft, motor coach, air-conditioned ship, and Zodiac-type dinghies.

Program Highlights


  • Guayaquil: Ecuador’s thriving port city, where the riverbank Malecón has been transformed into a sparkling pedestrian walkway replete with museums, shops, monuments and cafés.
  • Five-night cruise aboard the M/V Santa Cruz: designed to provide both comfort and a wealth of information to its passengers visiting the Galápagos National Park, with visits to some of the most interesting and important islands.
  • Fernandina Island: one of the most pristine islands in the world, due to the absence of introduced mammals; it is also the youngest island in the Galápagos with an abundance of marine iguanas.
  • Isabela Island: the largest of the Galápagos Islands with six large shield volcanoes fused into one island, with the Galápagos’ highest point: Wolf Volcano (1,707m; 5,600ft).
  • Santa Cruz: Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to view the giant tortoises and visit the Charles Darwin Research station staffed with international scientists conducting biological research and conservation projects.
  • Floreana Island: with its colorful history of pirates, whalers, barrel mailbox, convicts and somewhat peculiar colonists including a self-proclaimed Baroness. Excellent wildlife viewing, white-sand beaches and snorkeling.


David E. Smith, Professor of Environmental Science

Dave Smith is a Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia and Associate Chair of the department. Dave is an expert in biological oceanography, marine ecology and invertebrate zoology. He teaches about everything from the biology of coastal communities and coral reefs to the science of predator-prey relationships. Every summer, Dave takes U.Va. students to a research island in the Bahamas to study coral reefs and most years he takes a group to Belize to study the jungle and marshes. During the journey, he will speak on topics including the great migration and will teach about the organisms to be seen on the trip. Dave earned his Ph.D. at Texas A&M and has led U.Va. alumni trips to Costa Rica, the Galápagos and Around the World by Private Jet.


Day 1 - Tuesday, August 4


Depart the U.S for Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Transfer to Hotel. Oro Verde Hotel

Day 2 - Wednesday, August 5

Guayaquil/Galápagos Islands

Fly to Baltra Island in the center of the Galápagos Archipelago.

Baltra Island
Morning arrival to Baltra Island flight and immediate transfer to the dock to board yacht M/V Santa Cruz. Welcome introductory briefing and lunch.

North Seymour Island
Afternoon disembarkation (dry landing) for a walk along the coast and the interior of the island, observing bird colonies of blue footed boobies, frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls and also sea lions and marine iguanas. Opportunity for snorkeling or coastal exploration. Evening briefing, welcome cocktail and dinner.
M/V Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

Day 3 - Thursday, August 6

Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)


Since there is no landing site at this location, the coastal exploration is by dinghy, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is the nesting place for flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have changed their condition of flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here also includes sea lions, Galápagos fur seals, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed and Nazca boobies and noddy terns. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, it will be possible to schedule a snorkeling outing along the cliffs of partly-sunken Ecuador Volcano, near the northern tip of Isabela Island. This area has a very rich marine life, and is seasonally visited by green sea turtles. Lunch on board.

Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
Afternoon visit to the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina. Disembark (dry landing) for a one-mile walk over dark lava. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and a lot of wildlife. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina boasts a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, sharing their space with sea lions, sally-light foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorant. Snorkeling is possible. Evening briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Friday, August 7

Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)

After breakfast, dry landing on the northwest of Isabela. Secluded Tagus Cove provided a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old graffiti is still found carved on its walls. The vegetation in the area includes the fragrant palo santo trees. These white-barked trees are leafless and look dead most of the year. They leaf and spring back to life in the wet season.

An uphill hike takes guests to the back of Darwin Crater, filled with salt water. The view at the end of the trail is worth the climb. Darwin is one of Isabela’s six volcanoes, a remarkable contrast to the lower islands to the east of the archipelago. We include a panga ride along the volcanic shore of the cove to see boobies, penguins, flightless cormorants, terns, and sea lions. Possibilities to swim or snorkel. There is no beach in the area, so these activities are done from the pangas. Lunch on board.

Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
After lunch (wet landing) disembark at Urbina Bay, located at the foot of volcanoes Alcedo and Darwin, western Isabela Island, the result of an uplifting of the ocean in 1954. Here you can find corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. This area is also home to large and very colorful Galápagos land iguanas, giant tortoises (occasionally); a good spot to observe Darwin’s finches. Along the shoreline, after the hike, guests may encounter flightless cormorants and see penguins while snorkeling in this beautiful cove. Expedition plan for Saturday and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Saturday, August 8

Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)


Morning disembarkation (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Lunch at local restaurant.

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After lunch, a 30-minute bus ride to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island to enter the famous Giant Tortoise Reserve, and witness the impressive migrations these giant reptiles must endure every year for feeding and reproduction. Santa Cruz hosts one of the largest tortoise populations in Galápagos. The enclosure is framed with lush vegetation and many unique land birds can be seen, such as the rare woodpecker finch, one of the world’s few tool-using species. Return to Puerto Ayora and back on board. Expedition plan for Sunday and dinner.
M/V Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Sunday, August 9

Post Office Bay and Baroness's Tower (Floreana [Charles] Island)

Morning visit to Post Office Bay. A short walk leads us to the historic barrel where mail can be left for other guests from other vessels to be hand-delivered to its destination. This tradition of over two centuries is unique. Near Post Office Bay, we explore the north shore of Floreana along narrow channels teeming with life. Rays, turtles and sea lions can be seen gently swimming next to our pangas. After a wet landing and a short walk up to a volcanic cone, we reach the Baroness’s Tower, from where the entire northern shore of the island can be seen. Learn more about the fascinating past of this island. Lunch on board.

Cormorant Point (Floreana Island)
Disembark at Cormorant Point (wet landing) on an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others may be observed. This outing also includes a white-sand beach where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May). Possibility of snorkeling or a glass-bottom boat ride close to Devil’s Crown. Farewell Cocktail, departure briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Monday, August 10

Baltra Island/Guayaquil

Disembark at Baltra Island. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to mainland Ecuador. Transfer to our hotel. Relax and gather for a farewell dinner.

Passengers have the option of flying home later this evening to Miami and connecting home or flying home the following day (July 2) to JFK and connecting home. Hotel is included for day use or overnight depending on passengers’ flight preferences.
Oro Verde Hotel (B,D)

Day 8 - Tuesday, August 11

Arrive U.S.

Arrive in U.S. to catch connecting flights back home. (Those passengers with morning or afternoon flights back to the US will depart and arrive in U.S. today)


  • Two nights at The Oro Verde Hotel
  • Five nights aboard the M/V Santa Cruz


Six breakfasts, five lunches, six dinners

Program Fees

Prices are based on cabin selection, per person, include internal flights but do not include international air.


Land/Cruise Rates
(per person, double occupancy)
(12-17 years old, per person, double occupancy)
(under 12 years of age sharing with an Adult or Youngster)
Main Deck
Twin Standard
$6,150 $7,625 $5,850 $5,435
Upper Deck
Twin Standard
$6,659 $8,035 $6,245 $5,745
Boat Deck
Twin Standard
$7,025 $8,625 $6,575 $6,095
Standard Plus
$7,190 $8,735 $6,735 $6,245
$7,290 $8,815 $6,790 $6,340
Junior Suite
$7,560 $9,345 $7,060 $6,625
Master Suite
$8,105 $9,995 $7,570 $7,110

Prices are per person, double occupancy, based on Cabin Selection. A limited number of single cabins are available for a supplement to the double occupancy rates.

Click to View Ship Plan


Price Includes:

  • All land arrangements
  • In-tour flights from the mainland to the Galápagos (Guayaquil/Galápagos/Guayaquil)
  • Two night hotel accommodations at the 5-star Oro Verde Hotel
  • Five nights aboard the M/V Santa Cruz
  • Professional English-speaking Tour guides throughout
  • Naturalist guides on the islands
  • Tour Director throughout the program
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers and tour director
  • All meals while on board M/V SANTA CRUZ
  • Meals as set forth on itinerary for the land portion of the trip
  • Entrance fee to the Galápagos National Park
  • Baggage handling fees
  • All service charges and taxes
  • Airline ticketing service for those passengers requesting it
  • Pre-departure materials including a Reading List and a Travel Guide

Does Not Include:

  • Roundtrip International airfare from the USA to Ecuador
  • Customary shipboard gratuities
  • Departure tax from Ecuador
  • Alcoholic beverages other than wine at welcome and farewell dinner
  • Airport transfers for those not on group flights
  • Trip insurance
  • Any increases in the in-tour airfare (included as part of the program cost)
  • Airport taxes or security fees imposed after the initial pricing of this program
  • Any fuel surcharges imposed prior to departure

General Terms & Conditions

Payment Schedule: A deposit of $800 per person is required to reserve your space on the tour. For your convenience, you may charge your deposit to your American Express, Visa, or MasterCard. Final payment is due May 4, 2015 and must be paid by check payable to the operator, Royal Adventures. Royal Adventures handles all ticketing and invoicing. CST #2009579-40.

Cancellations and Refunds: Refunds, less a cancellation fee of $400 per person, are made if we are notified in writing on or before May 4, 2015. No refunds are made after that date. All cancellations must be made in writing. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features.

Responsibilities: Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40), its owners and employees, act only as agents for the various independent suppliers and contractors providing transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services connected with this tour. Such travel and services are subject to the terms and conditions under which such accommodations, services and transportation are offered or provided, and the University of Virginia and Royal Adventures and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability therefor. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures assume no liability for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or other irregularity which may be caused by the defect of any aircraft or vehicle or the negligence or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out or performing any of the services involved. Additionally, responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, strikes, local laws, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, act of nature or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws of the country in which they are provided. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures reserve the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their sole judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience or safety of the tour participants. They reserve the right to withdraw this tour without penalty. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour, or to substitute another qualified leader or special guest. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. The price of the program is given in good faith based on current tariffs and rates, and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, security surcharge or fuel increases will be passed on to participants. Neither the University of Virginia nor Royal Adventures accepts the liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable airline ticket. The air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release.

Trip Insurance: Your tour operator will include information on obtaining trip insurance in your confirmation letter. Please note that there is a time frame for securing trip insurance. The University of Virginia will cancel its endorsement of and faculty and staff participation in any program destination for which a Travel Warning is issued by the U.S. Department of State. Vendor Terms of Agreement will specify under what circumstances the vendor will cancel a program and/or under what circumstances participants might receive some reimbursement if they cancel their travel with the vendor themselves. The University of Virginia strongly recommends that all participants purchase trip cancellation insurance which includes protection in the face of political unrest, natural disasters, and personal emergencies and participants should discuss this insurance directly with the vendor or other travel services with whom they deal. You will find more useful travel information by going to the Travel Resources link on this website.

Questions: Please call or e-mail the University of Virginia Alumni Travel Program at 866-765-2646 or 434- (434) 243-4984; E-mail alumnitravel@virginia.edu