Unleashing the Wild Side: The Adventure of a Hurtigruten Cruise to the Galápagos Islands

Discover the wildlife and ecosystem of this untamed paradise.


A unique and distinctive cruise company, Hurtigruten is long famous for offering expedition cruising to some of the world's most remote and bucket-list worthy destinations like Greenland, Norway, West Africa and Antarctica. In 2022, Hurtigruten added cruise itineraries to the almost-mythical Galápagos Islands, combining the exploration of history, science and wildlife with the premium experience that the cruise line is known for. 

A man wearing a yellow t-shirt crouching on the beach taking pictures of 3 sea lions that are on the beach. Mosquera Islet is home to the largest population of Galápagos Sea Lions. Metropolitan Touring / Hurtigruten Expeditions

Walking in Darwin’s Footsteps

Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands—a collection of 19 islands and hundreds of islets—were introduced to the world by Charles Darwin in his famous On the Origin of Species. Due to its isolation, the Galápagos Islands is home to an array of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth, its ecosystem a fragile living laboratory for the study of evolution and ecology.

Hurtigruten's Galápagos cruises are designed to limit their impact on the islands and reflect their commitment to preserving the delicate balance of that ecosystem while also providing passengers with an immersive and educational experience.

Since 97 percent of the Galápagos Islands is protected as a national park, tourists aren’t allowed to set foot on the islands or take to the surrounding waters without a national park guide, at a ratio of one guide to 12 guests.

Hurtigruten works in partnership with Ecuadorian company Metropolitan Touring, utilizing their local expertise and knowledge to offer their guests benefits other cruise companies can’t, like exclusive access to some of the best landing sites on the islands.

A scientist pointing to a screen with information about the local ecosphere with a dozen passengers looking on as he talks. Participate in engaging lectures with the Expedition Team during your journey. Tommy Simonsen / Hurtigruten Expeditions

Galápagos Exploration Meets Education

A unique feature of a Hurtigruten cruise is the onboard Expedition Team. Consisting of hand-picked scientists, naturalists and skilled destination specialists, the Expedition Team serves as their guests’ guides throughout their Galápagos Islands journey.

They deliver fascinating lectures and share spellbinding stories, as well as lead excursions such as snorkeling, kayaking through mangrove forests, hiking to volcanic craters and lava fields, and observing unique bird species like the blue-footed booby and the Galápagos penguin.

To further guests’ study of the wildlife, flora and fauna they are interacting with, the Science Corner offers an interactive and educational experience. With a focus on environmental sustainability and scientific inquiry, it is an essential component of the Hurtigruten experience, enriching the understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Hurtigruten also offers a variety of activities and amenities tailored to children, making the expedition cruises a fun and engaging experience for families.

An older man wearing a yellow shirt and green shorts with his feet up looking out to the sea with an island in the distance. Admiring the view of Eden Islet from the MS Santa Cruz II. Ashton Ray Hansen / Hurtigruten Expeditions

Hurtigruten—Cruising Without the Crowds

A Hurtigruten expedition cruise isn’t your typical cruise experience. You won’t find waterslides, casinos or dress codes. What you will find are like-minded, active adventurers of all ages who value personal growth, exploration and education, seeking a different way to immerse themselves in a destination. Guests tend to prefer traveling by Zodiac boat to search for a sea lion colony or snorkeling on an ancient deep-sea coral reef instead of riding an onboard mini rollercoaster.

Some may assume expedition cruising means going without the luxuries of a cruise liner. Quite the opposite. Hurtigruten’s newly renovated MS Santa Cruz II is the adventurers’ home away from home for the length of their trip. Boasting spacious and elegantly appointed cabins, a fitness center, spa and outdoor hot tub, the ship offers a boutique hotel feel where guests can relax and unwind between activities in comfort and style. And with a guest capacity of just 90, the ship offers the perfect opportunity for an intimate cruise experience. In fact, the Hurtigruten motto “Arrive as guests, leave as friends” is very true on a small ship like this. 

A young woman looking over the railing of a ship out to sea with a setting sun off in the distance. Perfect for explorers of all ages, Huritgruten Cruise allow families to discover the world together. Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten's Commitment to Sustainability

For years, a priority of the Hurtigruten Group (the parent company of Hurtigruten cruises) has been ensuring sustainability and advancing responsible tourism. Hurtigruten has been an industry leader in finding ways to reduce its environmental impact, such as using low-emission engines, utilizing advance wastewater treatment systems and banning single-use plastics. In fact, every cruise to the Galápagos Islands is carbon neutral.

Hurtigruten's commitment to sustainability extends beyond its operations and includes actively working with local communities to support their economies and preserve cultural heritage. In addition, the company aims to inspire its passengers to become environmental ambassadors themselves by offering educational opportunities and encouraging sustainable behaviors. Hurtigruten's efforts are helping to preserve not just the Galápagos Islands, but some of the world’s most beautiful and pristine regions for future generations. 

AAA Member Benefit

Take advantage of a valuable benefit* when you book with AAA Travel.

90 Euro onboard spending credit on select sailings, to use towards onboard bookable excursions, the Wellness Center, gift shop & more.

*AAA Member Benefit is subject to change and may be updated or removed without notice. AAA Members will receive 90 euro onboard credit per person for Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises, except on the MS Santa Cruz II where guests will receive a $100 USD onboard credit per person and Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express with 300/600 NOK. For Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises where the onboard credit is given in euro (EUR), the USD equivalent will fluctuate due to the exchange rate at the time of usage. The offer is valid for new bookings, and North American residents 18 years or older only. The offer is limited to two persons per cabin. The onboard credit is not transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. Guests who do not use the full amount of the onboard credit during their purchased sailing will not be refunded the remaining credit. Contact your AAA Travel Advisor for complete terms and conditions.

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