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“Quito stay + 5-day Galapagos Northern Island Tour on the Santa Cruz ll”

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 young children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Reviewed May 22, 2018

Metropolitan Touring is the most professional and delightfully welcoming enterprise.

My mother and I went on a 5-day tour of the Galapagos Islands aboard their Santa Cruz ll, and stayed a few days prior in Quito to explore the city and natural areas. While I have never been on a cruise before, or expedition ship, (or a medium sized charter boat) for more than 8 hours I had no expectations for the kind of service and hospitality I would encounter, and they raised the bar daily in every way.

The lovely and knowledgeable Hyades who greeted us warmly at the airport and talked us through our itinerary and some history on our ride to the hotel ushered our stay in Quito. She was so kind! She answered all of our questions, and on the day of our departure to the islands--my birthday--she surprised me with an Ecuadorian bar of chocolate and a rousing rendition of a birthday song. It was such a nice little gesture I still can not get over, and truly made the experience that much more memorable. Also while in Quito we went on a bespoke birding tour (a mish-mash of two separate itineraries the company suggested we do to maximize our time because they realized my enthusiasm for birds is quite high) and spent a whole day with the intelligent Marcos and our driver who I regrettably forgot the name of but who was a real treasure of a driver and great bird spotter. We saw Andean Condors, a million hummingbirds, and explored the different ecologies of surrounding the city. It was truly magical, and it was all due to the guides.

The following day we did a quick tour with (I believe his name was) David and the driver Eduardo. He was a great wealth of knowledge on the city’s history and took us around the old plazas with great glee. Again, I didn’t know what to expect out of the city, but they made it so enjoyable with their enthusiasm for their culture and history.

The logistics and execution of everything surrounding this trip was perfect. I’m a planner, and I never had to think of one single thing they had not done before hand or didn’t even know I was anticipating. They took care of every need and let the guest relax with ease.

The transfer from Quito to the boat was smooth and painless and you can tell everyone involved works hard to keep everything flowing seamlessly.

On the ship the service was incredible. We were immediately greeted by the crew handing out juices and warm wet towels for our faces and hands that really set the tone for the level of service we were about to receive. After every excursion upon our return to the boat we were greeted by fresh juice and a snack to tide us over until our next meal. The food was incredible, and the head chef presides over every lunch and dinner with great gusto and eagerness for feedback (the desserts are all so fabulous, and at lunch buffets a very dangerous thing.) The banquet chief, Carlos, and his servers and waiters (Andres, Lesli) were quick to establish a rapport, and were the most attentive and generous staff. They surprised me with a cake for my birthday and fulfilled every request I had (like ordering off menu ice cream to go with it.) The bar staff was equally as professional and hospitable. Sit with different people at dinner, lunch, and breakfast! It was so fun and interesting to spend a little time with all the people on board. You spend quite a bit of time with the people in your group, so it's hard to interact with everyone else, and the meals allow for it. Of course it's not required, but it does make for a lovely atmosphere and camaraderie. Don't order red meat on board!! Not that it is bad, it's just not ideal. They are not allowed to import raw meat, so all of their beef has come pre-cooked. I would always suggest going with the seafood.

The crew was the nicest and most accommodating. Our cabins were constantly clean, and they moved with stealth during their nightly turn down service. The panga drivers were the unsung hero of every outing, and managed to be indispensable and inconspicuous. The library was always stocked with secret treats and desserts, and there is a bowl of motion sickness pills for the taking at reception, which I crept into a few times. It was all a dream of an experience on board that ship, and I haven’t even gotten to nature part. The boat had all kinds of outlets, so no need for adapters. They take no cash through out, and you have to pay your bill on the last night--which is a great system that eliminates lost money and having to carry around anything but a glass of wine around the boat.

PLEASE TIP YOU GUYS. I saw and heard some really sad behavior around the suggested tipping guide, that really broke my heart. And even if I have a done a terrible job of remembering names, it's nice to acknowledge those that stood out.

The Galapagos is a wildlife lover’s dream come true: to be feet away from curious seal lions, mockingbirds, marine iguanas, and silly boobies. It was incredible and completely unreal. The national park is a standard bearer of how to maintain a pristine ecosystem, and they are doing a great job at this. I was amazed at the level of care taken to preserve and protect, and it was very inspiring. The naturalist guides, led by the inimitable Desiree Cruz, were all abound with passion and information to share. Our group’s was the kind and smart Richard. There was never a question that was answered with “I don’t know” or a lack of knowledge. You could tell they loved their job (and made us all want to join them.) The photographer, Felix, was also a joy to have around! He welcomed every picture request and truly has one of the best jobs in the world (or at least on this boat.) They really took advantage of all the activities possible, and the time allotted so that you left each island with a real understanding and appreciation. If you have your own wet suit, bring it! They have some for rent, however. Bring lots and lots of sunscreen and sun protection, and you don't even have to bring shampoo and body wash, since they have their own on the boat in each cabin. I would recommend some noise canceling headphones or earplugs for sleeping, since the boat moves at night and it can get a bit noisy. They also start their movement of zodiacs to the water early in the morning that could wake a light sleeper.

In conclusion, (if you’ve made it this far, thank you) if you are considering the Santa Cruz ll, or even if you are not and stumbled on this, do yourself a favor and book this. The Galapagos is a once in a lifetime destination and it would be a disservice to your existence to not stay with the best.

Fair winds!

Thank Ana P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pedro P, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Metropolitan Touring, responded to this reviewResponded June 11, 2018

Dear Ana,

Thank you so much for providing us with this wonderful comment! We’re supremely pleased to hear that we managed to satisfy virtually every single facet of your trip! We couldn’t be more delighted to find out that Hyades got to treat you to something extra special for your birthday and that you also had a wonderful time spotting birds with us. We’re very proud about the level of efficiency and organization that we provide when it comes to continuously offering our guests an unforgettable journey throughout this marvelous country. We’re also very happy to hear that your experience aboard the Santa Cruz II was superb, from engaging with the highly amicable crew and guests all the way to having each and everyone one of your interests catered to. And thank you so much for recognizing and appreciating the logistical complexity of getting specific items from the mainland to the Galapagos! We always strive to give our guests the greatest variety of gastronomic options available without ever sacrificing quality. Our guides and photographers are also another source of pride that we carry close to our hearts.

Thanks again for all the wonderful feedback! We hope to see you again soon.

Warm regards,

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13 - 17 of 326 reviews

Reviewed May 21, 2018 via mobile

Our US travel agent worked with Metropolitan in lining up a wonderful day tour in historic Quito plus 8 night Galapagos cruise on La Pinta. Metropolitan handled airport transports, personal tour in city. They were flexible in changing tour time with just few days notice. Good English-speaking guide was very knowledgeable. Our La Pinta cruise was our second one. We love the ship, guides, itineraries and food!

Thank Gatta7777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 21, 2018

Metropolitan touring is the largest tourism operation in Ecuador. It offers a full Travel Service and their expertise is in land based tours and Galapagos Cruise operations with three first class ships and The Finch Bay Hotel on Santa Cruz Island. Other properties owned by the company are Masphi Lodge in the Ecuadorian Cloud
forest and Casa Ganotena Hotel in Quito.old city..
Throughout our time in Ecuador we had excellent service from Metropolitan Touring. Transfers and tours were of a very high standard with excellent English speaking guides. The Galapagos Islands Cruise business is overwhelming represented by them too with three cruise ships operating four, five, seven and nine day cruises covering all the Galapagos Islands.
We were very much impressed with the level of service afforded us throughout our stay in Ecuador.

Thank Patricia K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pedro P, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Metropolitan Touring, responded to this reviewResponded June 11, 2018

Dear Patricia,

Our greatest pride stems from being able to show our guests the wonders of Ecuador via unforgettable experiences. Our guides are at the heart of what we do, and we're glad to hear they completely delivered when it came to having an enriching experience.

We hope to see you again very soon!

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Reviewed May 16, 2018

This company met us at the airport and transported us to our hotel. The following day Cecilia and the Driver Richard took us around the highlights, the Churches of SAN Francisco and Jesus and up to the viewpoint with the statue of Christ. Her knowledge was brilliant and we enjoyed every minute of the 3h tour, even though it poured with rain for the first hour.

Thank Phil R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pedro P, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Metropolitan Touring, responded to this reviewResponded June 11, 2018

Dear Phil,

It’s great to hear that you had a wonderful tour with Cecilia and Richard! And yes, Quito’s weather is often whimsical like that – but we sure do know how to make the most of it! We hope to have you travel with us again at some point in the near future!

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Reviewed May 13, 2018

We booked a 'Custom Machu Picchu Explorer' package and a 'Quito Land Package' through a travel company in the USA: we really lucked out: the American company placed us with Metropolitan Touring in South America.

Metro Tour took care of us brilliantly: from the time we landed at the Quito airport in the middle of the night--there representatives were there to guide us through the bewildering labyrinth of immigration and customs--helped with our bagged and made sure we were comfortably accommodated in our hotels.

Our guide in Peru was Ms. Yahayra Melania Valencia Baca and she was wonderful! She was patient with our old-folks fumblings and feeble attempts to speak Spanish; she made sure that we had plenty of time to see everything we wanted with comfortable resting (did I mention we are old?!) and she supervised all of our reservations for hotels, meals, and airport transfers in Peru. We have to say that Ms. Yahayra contributed majorly to the success of our enjoyment of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and many other Inca monuments.

In Ecuador our guide was Mrs. Katya Villacreces Carbo. She is another Metropolitan treasure: careful of our stamina and abilities, she took great care and pride in our introduction to her beautiful country.

Although we had the same drivers throughout our excursions in Peru and Ecuador, I am ashamed to admit that I do not recall their names: the gentlemen had limited English (and my Spanish es muy malo) so our interaction was brief; they WERE very kind and always at the ready to lend a supporting arm as needed and, imo, they were excellent drivers--how they managed through the various traffic snarls was a marvel to watch!

I hope we are able in the future to re-visit these countries. If we do--for sure we are contacting Metropolitan Touring for encores! (And we hope--the same lady tour guides--they were the best!)

Thank caveatactor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pedro P, Director de Relaciones Públicas at Metropolitan Touring, responded to this reviewResponded May 24, 2018

Dear traveler,

We're glad to hear that our services and the experiences we provided were perfectly tailored to your needs and desires. We take great pride in focusing ourselves on providing you, our cherished traveler, with only the best when it comes to attentiveness and the quality of our products.

We can't wait for you to come visit and travel with us again! We'll be here, ready to guide you on your next adventure!

Warm regards,

Metropolitan Touring

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