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Galapagos – Metropolitan Touring vs. Viking Expeditions


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Just received brochure from Viking Expeditions announcing their new land/sea cruises to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu.  Their website shows the Galapagos ship as “Santa Cruz II built in 2001 and refurbished November 2020.”  The first cruise is scheduled for January 2021.

The interesting point is that Metropolitan Touring also is scheduling Galapagos cruises for January 2021 (and throughout the year) and sails the Santa Cruz II.  Photos of the ship from both company’s websites look the same so I’m speculating that Viking perhaps purchased Metropolitan or has contracted with them to operate their Galapagos itineraries. Does anyone know what’s happening?  If I want to visit the Galapagos should I book with Metropolitan or Viking?  Is there a difference?

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We booked directly with Metropolitan Touring (package 7-night on LaPinta plus 2nts in Sheraton In Quito, includes RT air between Quito and the island and all transfers).  Like, donaldsc we are pleased with the tour.

As you know, Metropolitan owns and operates La Pinta and Santa Cruz.  Most premium and luxury cruiselines and land tour operators contract Metropolitan for Galapagos Cruise.  Other than the land portion, the cruise is basically the same.  In our case, we met many different travel groups from all over the world on LaPinta.  In the pre-cruise hotel in Quito, I saw Regents people taking the Santa Cruz.

If you want different ships/yachts, you may want to check out Celebrity or Silversea, who have their own ships to the islands.

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Thanks dreamercruise. Just checked Viking Expeditions website.  They now say the ship  is “chartered exclusively for Viking” and will be refurbished in Dec 2020. So I suspect Viking Has chartered them for perhaps half of their voyages. Refurbishment might be only paint and adding Viking signage.  

The following copied from Viking website. 


Designed to operate in remote areas, hosting just 90 guests in 45 staterooms, guests on Viking’s new Galápagos voyages will sail on board Santa Cruz II, a vessel chartered exclusively for Viking and renovated to reflect the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known.

  • Guests: 90
  • Length: 235 feet
  • Beam: 43 feet
  • Class: Expedition Class Vessel
  • Year built: 2002; refurbished November 2020
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yes, Metropolitan Touring often allows cruise liners and independent tour companies charter their ships.  My favorite land tour company also charters La Pinta on a total of eight sailing trips per year.  The accommodation, food, and excursions are the same for booking independently as on a chartered sailing (with any other operators).  I imagine (not proven) the difference would be the onboard experience in terms of educational experience and the various grades of the naturalists/guides.


I am a big fan of Viking (number one in enrichment in my opinion), but I would try Silversea or Celebrity if I were to do the trip over.  Reason is that Silversea and Celebrity have their own designed ships, and I think their cabins, food, and service would be better.  I am not suggesting that you try Silversea or Celebrity instead of Viking.  I am merely thinking it out loud, after I experienced an outstanding luxury expedition cruise to Antarctica recently.

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