Since Charles Darwin visited and then wrote about the Galápagos Islands (and its captivating flora and fauna) in the 19th century, the world has had an obsession with this volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. And why not? Where else can you swim with lizards and then walk alongside species of birds you’ve never seen before? These 19 magical islands have been exceeding traveler expectations long before the Galápagos were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. And experiencing them has just gotten better with the unveiling of Celebrity Cruises’ brand-new expedition ship, Celebrity Flora.
Unlike almost every other destination out there, the Galápagos are best explored on a boat. But until now, many of the cruises that sail these waters to get from one unforgettable island to another were old ferries or exploration vessels that have been converted into live-aboard boats for leisure travelers. The Celebrity Flora is the region’s very first custom-built cruise ship. This superyacht was sustainably created specifically for showing off the very best of the archipelago.
On this 100-passenger, all-suite luxury cruise, every guest gets a sparkling welcome with a bottle of champagne. And from there, it’s one singular amenity after another, starting with the 50 guest rooms: From the open-air sky suites with their infinite verandas to the two 1,288 square-foot penthouse suites, the largest floating bedroom in the Galápagos, these cabins are all beautifully brought to life by Francesca Bucci of BG Studio International, who created spaces that subtly evoked modern, natural opulence. And many of them can be transformed into indoor-outdoor suites with just the touch of a button, bringing the islands’ untouched beauty in full view right from the bed. To elevate the ship’s visual experience even more, Celebrity Flora was designed with tons of low-impact natural materials like wood and stone with bamboo accents. Moreover, Ecuadorian designer Adriana Hoyos was tapped to make many of the eye-catching furniture that decorate every corner of the ship. Take the Chocolate Iconic chair, a sculptural piece inspired by the birds’ nests found throughout the region.
Of course, going to the Galápagos is still about soaking in all the natural wonders of this unique destination. And in addition to expeditions led by 11 expert naturalists—from communing with blue-footed boobies and Zodiac rides around the islands to more advanced experiences like deep-sea snorkeling—the ship is equipped with new-fangled offerings, too, including a glamping concept on the top deck. It’s an added cost, but the luxury of sleeping in an outdoor cabana, getting pampered by a dedicated team for dinner and breakfast, and getting a guided star-gazing session is sure to lift a trip to these islands to the next level.
The Celebrity Flora has tons of fabulously luxurious features, but a major focus for the project was to create a superyacht that observes the greenest possible practices. To that end, the boat features myriad thoughtful eco-conscious innovations: first-in-the-Galápagos anchorless technology protects the seafloor; a water conservation program converts seawater to freshwater that allows the Flora to make 100 percent of the water she uses; and the boat is 15 percent more energy efficient than its predecessor the Celebrity Xpedition). These enhancements have been implemented so that the ship can sail these waters for countless generations of Galápagos fans, treading ever more lightly on this delicate ecosystem.
Check out more photos of the Celebrity Flora below: