Celebrity Cruises is betting big on the Galapagos. The premium cruise line says it will buy the Galápagos Islands tour operator Ocean Adventures and its two ships, the 48-guest ship M/V Eclipse and the16-guest catamaran M/C Athala II.
The move expands Celebrity’s guest capacity in the Galápagos by 65 percent. Currently Celebrity operates the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition in the island chain.
The expanded fleet means modern luxury travelers looking to experience the Galápagos Islands will be able to choose a Celebrity ship whose size and intimacy suits their personal preference.
“Our guests use the most amazing words to describe their journeys to the Galapágos Islands, says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. “They tell us the experience is ‘once in a lifetime,’ ‘awe-inspiring,’ even ‘life-changing.’ That’s why we’ve made Celebrity Xpedition such a special experience, and why we are thrilled to expand our Galápagos program with these two intimate ships. We want to make more lifetime memories.”
The ships’ smaller sizes – 100, 48 or 16 guests – will also present an exceptionally intimate modern luxury experience, she adds.
“Our unique Galapagos fleet will offer an up-close look at the region’s breathtaking natural beauty, paired with Celebrity’s highly intuitive service and award-winning cuisine,” Lutoff-Perlo says.
The new ships also make possible distinctive itineraries that feature an expanded list of destinations for Celebrity – like Puerto Villamil, Darwin Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Chinese Hat Islet, and Wall of Tears.
Guests can choose from a number of immersive explorations of the local culture, including local hotel stays, encounters with local residents, and unique tours. The fleet expansion also allows Celebrity’s guests to take advantage of new packages that celebrate the most breathtaking spots in Ecuador – such as the Andes Mountains – and Peru, where Machu Picchu and Amazon packages are popular.
The two vessels will join the Celebrity Cruises fleet in the spring of 2016, pending the closing of the acquisition deal. Until a January 2017 drydock, the ships will continue to offer the Ocean Adventures experience; after the refresh, the ships will sail as part of Celebrity Cruises’ fleet, and guests will enjoy Celebrity’s signature modern luxury elements. All existing Ocean Adventures’ bookings and reservation commitments will remain unchanged, both before and after the drydock.
Ben Dod, President of Ocean Adventures, says, “After 16 years of building Ocean Adventures into the one of the leading operators in the Galapagos Islands, we are proud to have caught the attention of a world-class cruise company like Celebrity and proud to be part of their ambitious plans to expand in the region. The MV Eclipse and MC Athala II are the best vessels in their class and we are delighted that both ships will continue to deliver an unequalled level of service and experience to guests.”
As part of its commitment to the Galápagos Islands, Celebrity says it rigorously follows guidelines set by local authorities to protect the assets of the Ecuadorian archipelago, including the robust kaleidoscope of flora and fauna found there, like giant tortoises, prehistoric iguanas and blue-footed boobies.
“The most extraordinary part of a Galápagos journey is truly the destination, which is one of the most important environmental places in the world,” Lutoff-Perlo says. “It is our obligation to protect this sensitive and beautiful place, and to educate our guests about its amazing qualities. Permits to sail these waters are carefully rationed, and we are committed to doing our part to protect these islands for future generations.”