Celebrity Flora: New cruise ship brings glamping at sea to the Galapagos

360-degree island views, all-suite accommodation and the first ever ‘glamping experience at sea’. Welcome to the world’s newest mega-yacht.

Or perhaps that should be the world’s newest cruise ship.

Celebrity Flora is a state-of-the-art expedition ship designed specifically with the Galapagos Islands in mind, according to Celebrity Cruises.

The 5,700-tonne ship caters for just 100 passengers – in all-suite accommodation with personal attendants. On board luxuries include certified naturalists, a stargazing platform, glamping cabanas and an “outward-facing design” engineered to open up as many views of paradise as possible.

And the cost? A seven-day Galapagos cruise is currently quoted from €6,409pp for an inner or outer loop of the famous archipelago… excluding flights.

The Galapagos Islands are renowned for their biodiversity, and were famously visited by Charles Darwin during his travels on the HMS Beagle in 1835.

Celebrity Fauna’s inner lounge, ‘Darwin’s Cove’, is named for the naturalist.

The ship is equipped with “cutting-edge oceanographic research equipment” which will help scientists gather and measure ocean circulation dynamics, it says.

Cruises depart from Baltra and call at Daphne Island, as well as various ports on Española, Floreana, Isabella, Fernandina and Santa Cruz, Celebrity adds.

Daily agendas will include spotting iguanas, snorkelling alongside sea turtles at Daphne Island and taking in breath-taking views of the archipelago.

Guests can also look forward to expert-led ecological seminars, with custom-designed Novurania yacht tenders to facilitate sea-to-shore experiences.

“The delivery of Celebrity Flora is a momentous occasion,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which owns Celebrity.

“Designing a new ship specifically for the Galapagos Islands was an exciting challenge and we think Celebrity Flora succeeded beautifully. It is of course luxurious – but it’s also the most energy-efficient ship of its kind in the region,” he added.

In other cruise news, Fahy Travel has launched ‘Weddings at Sea’ (weddingsatsea.ie), which offers a range of wedding packages on board cruise ships.

The concept is hugely popular amongst single sex and same sex couples, the Galway travel agent says, with weddings taking place on board or in shoreside ceremonies.

“Four years ago, I had a bride enquiring about weddings abroad,” explains Caroline O’Toole, who manages the agency. “We discussed a number of different options, and when I suggested having her wedding on a cruise they were blown away.

“A year later, 88 happy guests all attended the wedding on a MSC Cruise off the coast of Italy. The setting was stunning, the fun was amazing, and the cost was a fraction of what they would have paid choosing another option.”

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