When it comes to cruise ships, there are basically two kinds: big ones and small ones. Big ships go to big ports, small ships go to small ports. Designing a vessel for the requirements and opportunities of a specific route is rarely worth the effort. But the Galápagos archipelago is hardly a typical cruise environment; the Ecuadorian government tightly manages the kinds of boats that ply these waters and the volume of passengers who experience the park’s 21 islands, and the cruise lines that operate here charge passengers a premium for the experience.
Celebrity Cruises knows this place well, and in 2019, the line is set to launch Celebrity Flora, an innovative small ship designed specifically for the Galápagos environment. The 100-passenger Flora will bring to the islands a host of features aimed at improving the cruising experience for its pampered passengers and an array of technologies aimed at protecting the fragile environment it sails.
At 333 feet long, the Flora will be twice the size of Celebrity’s existing 100-passenger Galápagos boat, the Celebrity Xpedition. Amenities will include two restaurants, two lounges, and a team of onboard Galápagos naturalists—one for every 12 guests. And the all-suite vessel’s two 1,288-square-foot penthouse spaces—complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor/outdoor living spaces, and telescopes—will be the biggest staterooms in the islands.
The upper deck area will incorporate a stargazing platform from which guests will be invited to participate in guided astronomy tours, and the hull is designed to accommodate three Zodiac boats for spontaneous shore excursions.
The Flora’s diesel engines will be 15 percent more fuel efficient than existing power plants, with commensurately lower emissions, and an anchorless dynamic positioning system will allow the ship to hold its position without damaging the seabed. Adding to its green cred, Flora’s fastidious waste-management plan is designed to dramatically curb environmental impact. Plastic water bottles, for example, are obviated by in-room water-filtration devices, and systems that convert seawater and even air-conditioning condensation into potable H2O.
“I think this is a clear example of an intelligent investment, not only because the boat design was thought with the characteristics of the Galápagos, but because it is based on the best technology available to protect a Natural Heritage of Humanity,” said Walter Bustos, director of Galápagos National Park.
Sailing year-round out of Baltra, Celebrity Flora will set off for the first time on May 26, 2019. Bookings are open now. No surprise, the Flora experience won’t come cheaply: A seven-night itinerary starts at $9,599 per person for a standard Sky Suite and runs up to $18,099 for the Penthouse Suites.