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“A Good Tour Guide Makes all the Difference!”

Metropolitan Touring
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We are Ecuador's leading tour operator, with over 64 years experience in travel. We own and operate three boats in the Galapagos Islands as well as one hotel. Our holding group also owns Casa Gangotena in Quito and Mashpi Lodge in the cloudforests northwest of the capital. We are also a regional company with offices in Peru and Colombia.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children
Reviewed November 19, 2013

From the pick-up to the airport and the following two days exploring Quito we considered ourselves quite lucky to have Monica as our tour guide. Her years of experience in guiding and her love of her country shine through. What we love about travelling is not only seeing all the attractions, but immersing ourselves in the culture and learning as much as we can. Monica helped us to do that and we are extremely grateful.

Thank taiter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"la pinta"
in 79 reviews
"santa cruz"
in 90 reviews
"glass bottom boat"
in 21 reviews
"galapagos islands"
in 52 reviews
"sea lions"
in 23 reviews
"isabela ii"
in 9 reviews
"finch bay hotel"
in 9 reviews
"western islands"
in 10 reviews
"night cruise"
in 15 reviews
"boat moves"
in 3 reviews
"the hotel manager"
in 5 reviews
"breakfast and lunch"
in 12 reviews
"peru tour"
in 3 reviews
"blue footed boobies"
in 11 reviews
"mashpi lodge"
in 6 reviews
"deep water"
in 5 reviews
"giant tortoises"
in 9 reviews
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262 - 266 of 326 reviews

Reviewed November 7, 2013

We spent 4 nights on the M/V Santa Cruise touring 5 islands in the Galapagos. The ship was very comfortable, food was very good and the expedition staff very knowlegeable. Our hikes were strenuous, but for people with walking difficulties the staff accommodated them by taking them on coastal zodiac tours so they could observe the wildlife even though they couldn't do the interior island hikes. We were provided bottled water which was refillable. The ship was very eco conscious due to keeping trash out of the islands. We saw so much wildlife it was amazing as the staff knew where to take us. However, I would not recommend this for any handicapped person since it was difficult to get in and out of the zodiac boats as you climbed down the stairs and at times the seas were rough and you bounced around getting in or out of the boats.

3  Thank Laurie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2013

My husband and I did the 7 night Western Islands cruise on La Pinta at the beginning of September 2013. We will remember it forever. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Our cabin was every bit as good as a hotel room - it was spacious, with a double bed and floor to ceiling window. There was a safe in the room, and the policy on the ship is not to lock rooms. This was really good - so relaxing not to worry about keys, and no need to carry money etc unless in port. You just felt you were staying with friends. The towel origami was a lovely touch every night!

The food on board was superb and the service was excellent. Soft drinks are free and alcohol surprisingly affordable. Xavier, the Hotel Manager, was an excellent host.

The activities are what you're there for though, and I don't believe that any boat could do them better. There's at least one water activity and one land-based activity every day and if, like us, you do them all, you'll be pretty busy. They're all too good to miss though. Snorkeling was my favourite, but if you don't fancy that, a glass bottom boat also gives a good view of the marine life. We swam with turtles, a (sleeping) shark, sting rays, playful sea lions and fantastic fish. All equipment is provided. Walks on the islands are great fun too. The animals really are as tame as they look on the TV. Everything is really well planned by the ships' naturalists. There were only 17 passengers on our cruise, and we had 2 naturalists, so the groups were nice and small, but I think they add more naturalists if there's more people. We had Ramiro and Pablo and they were fantastic.

I can imagine that some ships may have needed to cancel a trip if they'd sold only 17 out of 48 places, and I'm really impressed and pleased that Metropolitan didn't have to.

All in all, I really felt as if we were on the best ship for our 'holiday of a lifetime'. I can't think of anything that would've made it better.

2  Thank SussexSmithy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2013

I started dealing with Metropolitan (MT) based on the recommendation of an acquaintance from Quito. She gave me good advice.

I believe I sent my first email to MT in early February for a mid September trip to the Galapagos. Gissela responded and was very helpful throughout all of my planning. We had not been to Ecuador or the Galapagos before so I thought a tour might be our best option.

Generally I plan all of our adventures on my own - flights, hotels, sightseeing, etc - but did enjoy a lot of the 'planned' Galapagos tours from Metropolitan. Now that I have been to the islands I would be very comfortable booking everything on my own - but let me tell you why MT was great for a first time visitor.

We were looking to stay on Santa Cruz and then to do both land and sea tours. We only had 4 days so wanted to maximize our time. We didn't really have a good idea of what was available for tours, accommodations, transportation, etc - so looked to MT for suggestions.

Gissela showed us the Finch Bay Eco Hotel package - which was an ideal fit for us. We had 2 half day tours, 2 boat tours including hiking and snorkeling/swimming. All transfers to and from the hotel, 3 nights stay and all meals were included. The only things not included were the flights from Quito to Galapagos and any wine, beer etc.

At the Quito airport reps from MT met us and got us our seats for the flight over. At the Baltra airport 2 of the MT guides met us -Mario and Soto - and took care of us for our 4 days. They were both proficient in Spanish and English and knew a lot about their islands.

My review of the Finch Bay Hotel describes in detail the numerous transfers that must be made in order to reach the hotel. MT took our luggage at the Baltra airport and had it delivered to our room. On the way home the luggage was picked up at the room and we picked it up again in the Quito airport. This service was greatly appreciated given the planes, boats and buses we were on.

Overall - I would recommend Metropolitan Touring. I know we paid a premium for their services - but in the end it made for a very enjoyable and seamless holiday. If Gissela ends up helping you out you will find her knowledgeable and very patient with all of your questions.

2  Thank Altius10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 29, 2013

We were on a cruise from 18.9.2013 until 23.9.2013 onboard the M/V Santa Cruz on the Western Route.

Date of the cruise: 18-23.9.2013
Cruise: Baltra (Airport) - West Islands (Fernandina & Isabella) - Santa Cruz Island - Floreana Island - Baltra (Airport)
Duration: 5 nights / 6 days

Precondition: We have booked the 5 nights / 6 days cruise 8 days before in Quito. We have paid 1'350 USD per Person (incl. air ticket). Fortunately we got a cabin on the Boat Deck, which is apart of the Master Suites the second best class on the boat (try to book a double bed instead a twin). We are a couple, 34 & 36 years old. This was our second cruise on our trip as we were able to get to Antarctica on a 11 day trip, so we do have some comparison base.

Ship:

- The M/V Santa Cruz has a capacity for 90 passengers and is a ship of the upper standard. In our case 77 people were on board.
- The boat has 4 decks (bottom - up): Main deck (smallest cabins), Upper deck (Lounge, Reception, Embarkation/Disembarkation, Comedor), Boat deck (nicest cabins, bridge), Sun deck (open air bar, smoking area, hot tube).
- The ship is a 1st class ship which was really comfortable.

Food:

- There are three meals per day. Breakfast & Lunch are buffet, at night you can choose between 2 entrees and 3 main courses. There is always a vegetarian option.
- In general, the quality of the food was good, especially at the very beginning and at the end. In between the food was OK, but not as good as the other days (example given: the fish was "dry", there was always too less sauce for pasta and small things like that)
- The service in the dining room was professional.

Beverages:

- You will get purified water, coffee and tea on each meal for free. There is also a coffee machine available in the lounge 24 hours a day
- The prices on board for all types of beverages which you buy (beer, drinks, soft drinks) do not include the VAT and Service Fee (12% + 10 %, total 22%), this may lead to some irritations as the total 22% were stated as "governmental tax", which as far as I have understood is simply not true. I think it would be better to declare the final prices. I further think it should be better to have the official prices incl. VAT but without service fee, as at the end of the cruise normally the tips are given to the crew anyway (there are three boxes in the end, one for the crew, for the guides and for the barmen).
- Tipp: Bring your own alcohol as the beverages is expensive (incl. the tax and service fee). A small beer costs more than 3 dollars final price and a shot (2cl ) of Grappa around 9.76 USD!
- There is even an ice cube machine on board which provides ice cubes 24 hours a day

Guides:

- The guides do have a huge knowledge about all aspects of the Galapagos (history, flora & fauna) which was very interesting.
- Due to the amount of people, the guides sometimes have to behave like ecological police officers. I fully understand that their job is to protect the area from human being, but I would hardly recommend that they do not overreact when not necessary. (example given: when we came back from a beach, all sand need to be washed off the shoes and feet. My girlfried forgot to clean the sole. The guide saw it and shoutet "Look what you did!!!" and started to get somehow angry. Funnywise when you disembark your feet & shoes will be washed again with a water hose).
- We felt that the guiding was sometimes impersonal (of course with 77 people on board) in the sense of mass tourism, as it is hard that the guides will try to remember the names, but some of them did not even try to know our names.
- You get a guide at the very beginning of the cruise for each single group (all guests will be divided into 6 groups, max. 15 people per group). The guide will normally not change during the cruise (which is good in case you like the guide.. if not...), also due to language reasons (english and spanish).
- The guides are trying to "sell" the different activities. Do not always believe everything you hear (example: the biking ride goes 3 times up and 3 times down. In fact, it went more up than down, which positively you could see as a good exercise or negatively if you are a little bit older and won't make it. Or they tell you that you will see sharks and you won't).

Excursions & Procedures:

- The procedures in Quito Airport and Baltra Airport were very smooth! Well done!
- All briefings and announcements are hold in spanish and english language. Speaking both languages this may lead to some waste time as there is sentence-by-sentence translation especially for instructions meetings (example: snorkelling instructions).
- Due to the amount of guests (77 people) the embarkation / disembarkation procedures took their time and seemed inefficient to me (compared to what we saw in Antarctica with 120 people). Normally all passengers will join in the lounge before disembarkation starts. The embarkation / disembarkation takes place group by group (6 groups). If some people delay the embarkation/disembarkation of their groups, everyone has to wait. So, it really needs a lot of time until everyone is where he or she needs to be.
- Wait time = less time for excursions
- Snorkelling is a great way to discover the islands. You can see a lot of animals (sea turtles, sting rays, manta rays, tropical fishes, sea lions, penguins and so on), BUT...on a big boat like this, when 40-50 people are going to snorkel the same time, it needs a lot of time until everyone gets into the water (and out), so snorkelling rarely was longer than 30-45 minutes. In total we had the possibility to do 5 snorkel dives during the trip. Visibility varied between 2-5 metres the first 3 dives, got up to 10 metre the 4th dive and back to 3 metres the 5th dive.
- You will see the often mentioned glass-bottom-boat at the very end of the trip only.
- On day three you will make an excursion to the main land of Santa Cruz incl. Visiting Charles Darwin Research Centre (very good), Biking and visiting a Sugar Cane Farm. The part of biking and the Sugar Cane Farm is really boring!!!! The biking is only 20 minutes and if you ever have been in a distillery...well...it's always the same. In the afternoon you will have the chance to get to Tortuga Bay and go for kayaking (45 minutes kayaking, 2 hours walk) or see Turtles in wildlife which was very nice!.
- The short wet suit is not included in the price (18 USD for the whole cruise). Long suits are not available. I think for the price you normally pay, it should be included.

Conclusion:
From my point of view, the cruise with the M/N Santa Cruz by Metropolitan Touring is

for mayor people with an age of probably 50 years and older
for people who like to have all done for themselves and enjoying a certain standard
for people who like to get an overall overview of the islands (a little bit of snorkelling, a little bit of history, a little bit of walking, a little bit of events, a little bit of all)
for non-active people (as snorkelling is short in time and walkings are very very easy)
for people who got sea sick very, very easily (but as I already described, there was only one trip at night which was a little bit rough)

Finally, we personally would choose another boat for our next trip at the Galapagos Islands.

8  Thank admczh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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