Celebrity Cruises has revealed it will build a new luxury yacht that has been designed specifically to sail in the Galapagos Islands.
Celebrity Flora will have capacity for 100 guests, the maximum allowed in the destination famed for its flora and fauna, and has been designed to exceed environmental regulations for the Galapagos.
The vessel will built at the De Hoop shipyard in the Netherlands and will enter service on May 26 2019, five weeks after the line debuts the first of its new class of ocean ships Celebrity Edge.
Two seven-night itineraries out of Baltra, that will be operated year-round, have gone on sale today and agents will be offered a dedicated selling guide, a micro-site and training module on Cruising for Excellence.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and chief executive of the Royal Caribbean Cruises-owned premium brand, said the new all-inclusive product offers great earning opportunity for agents.
“By building a new ship for the Galapagos we have been able to build the most environmentally friendly ship that will operate in the region.
“We considered buying a ship but there was not much out there we would be interested in on the resell market and as we go through this revolution with Edge we wanted to create from scratch a modern Celebrity experience for the Galapagos.
“There is going to be nothing like this in the Galapagos. We have taken a timeless and organic approach to the design buying materials and features from local Equadorian manufacturers.
“This is a big deal for Celebrity and for the Galapagos. The Galapagos is a highly sought-after destination and tourism is quite limited. It’s great for travel agents because commissions are wonderful.”
Prices for a seven night cruise on Celebrity Flora lead in at $9,499 per person including drinks, gratuities and all shore excursions.
The price excludes flights. Guests from the UK will fly to Ecuador and then take a charter from Quito. Cruises can be combined with 10, 11 and 15-night pre and post-cruise tours to Quito and Machu Picchu in Peru.
Celebrity has been sailing in the Galapagos since 2004 and currently has the 100-person Celebrity Expedition and two small ships the Experience and the Exploration based there.
When Celebrity Flora enters service Expedition will switch to operate the itineraries offered on Experience and Exploration. A decision on what happens to these vessels has not been made yet.
Flora has been designed to incorporate the latest emissions and waste management technology to minimise its impact on the environment.
It uses dynamic positioning technology so that is does not have to drop anchor which will protect the sea floor.
Access to the shore is via The Marina, an area at the rear of the ship that can launch three Zodiac landing craft at once.
On board the ship suites have been designed to be outward facing to offer guests views of the islands, there is an open-air stargazing platform, new dining venues and personal cabin attendants.
Lutoff-Perlo said being a major brand with a heritage of sailing in the Galapagos will ensure Celebrity Flora has an edge among lesser known local operators.
“We are known for being great corporate citizens there and we have great awareness that actually serves us well versus local operators who mostly sell through tour operators and wholesaler,” she said.
Enrique Ponce de Leon, Ecuador’s minister of tourism, said: “We are very pleased with the announcement of Celebrity Cruises’ decision to build a cruise vessel with cutting-edge technology, designed specifically to operate around our wonderful islands.
“Celebrity Flora will undoubtedly mark a very important milestone in the tourism development of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, offering high quality sustainable tourism.”
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