Program photograph
Upcoming Programs:
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The Galapagos Islands

June 25 – July 2, 2013
Faculty: Dave Smith, Professor of Environmental Science
Price: Starting at $5,970 per person, based on cabin selection
Special Children's pricing is available.

A Limited Number of Single Cabins are Available at additional cost

A Post-Trip Extension to Machu Picchu, Peru, is available

Registration is Open

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Galapagos SceneryJoin Professor Dave Smith for a 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.


Galapagos SceneryThis 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.

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Program Highlights

Galapagos Scenery ^ back to top


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Six breakfasts, five lunches, six dinners

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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 and Around the World by Private Jet.

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Day 1 - Tuesday, June 25
Depart the U.S for Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Transfer to Hotel. Oro Verde Hotel

Day 2 - Wednesday, June 26
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)

Galapagos Scenery

Day 3 - Thursday, June 27
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, June 28
Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)
After breakfast, dry landing on the northwest of Isabela. Secluded Tagus Cove provided a favourite 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 colourful 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 snorkelling in this beautiful cove. Expedition plan for Saturday and dinner. (B,L,D)

Galapagos Scenery

Day 5 - Saturday, June 29
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, June 30
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 snorkelling or a glass-bottom boat ride close to Devil's Crown. Farewell Cocktail, departure briefing and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Monday, July 1
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, July 2
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)

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Program Fees

Prices are based on cabin slection, 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
$5,970 $7,195
$5,570 $5,170
Upper Deck
Twin Standard
$6,298 $7,595 $5,898 $5,498
Boat Deck
Twin Standard

$6,595 $8,105 $6,195 $5,795
Standard Plus
$6,719 $8,155 $6,319 $5,919
$6,799 $8,280 $6,399 $5,999
Junior Suite
$7,065 $8,725 $6,665 $6,265
Master Suite
$7,535 $9,415 $7,135 $6,735

Galapagos Cruise
Click to view ship deck plan.

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.

Price Includes:

Does Not Include:


Post-trip Extension to Machu Picchu, Peru: July 2- 7

$2,745 per person, double occupancy

This price is available as a benefit to those passengers participating on the Galapagos trip only and available at this price to Galapagos participants only.

The price includes airfare Lima/Cuzco/Lima + second entrance fee to Machu Picchu, all accommodations, train to Machu Picchu, etc.

Does not include international airfare.

Price based on a minimum of 12 participants from U.Va.

Discover the breathtaking Lost City of the Inca, Machu Picchu. After our arrival in Lima, we will fly the next morning to Cusco, the capital city of the Inca Empire. From here we’ll transfer to the lovely town of Yucay in Urubamba Valley. We will overnight in Yucay, which is located at a lower elevation, to allow for an easier acclimatization. On our journey to Yucay, we’ll explore the massive fortress of Sacsayhuamán among other sites. In the afternoon, we’ll stop at the colorful native market in Pisac. The next day a dramatic train ride through the Urubamba Valley takes us to the enchanting and mystical site of Machu Picchu where we’ll overnight at the MAPI hotel. On our return we spend two nights in Cusco, where we'll absorb a colorful mix of past and present.

This five-night, six-day post-tour extension (one night in Lima at the Ramada airport hotel and four nights in the highlands) includes first-class accommodations; all excursions; five breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners, air transportation Lima/Cusco and Cusco/Lima; airport taxes; airport-to-hotel transfers; and the services of a Peruvian guide. Airfare from Guayaquil to Lima is not included.

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How To Register

Ready to register? The best way to do this is by phone so that we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us at 866-765-2646. Or, e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

A deposit of $800 per person is required to reserve your spot. Final invoicing will be done approximately 3 months prior to departure. Final payment is due March 29, 2013.

Deposits can be made via American Express, Visa or MasterCard; the final balance must be paid by check. Make check payable to Royal Adventures.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.

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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 March 29, 2013 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 March 29, 2013. 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, acts 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

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