There’s a noticeable trend in cruising towards experiential travel and nowhere is this more apparent that the boom in sailings around the amazing natural laboratory of biodiversity that is the Galápagos Islands. Cruise lines are building new ships especially for the unique requirements of this eclectic destination. Earlier this year I visited Celebrity Cruises’ remarkable 100-guest Celebrity Flora just a few days before she left the DeHoop shipyard in Rotterdam bound for this isolated, volcanic archipelago.
Celebrity Flora has been conceived with the destination and its environment inspiring and influencing all design concepts. There are 360-degree views at The Vista – an open-air hideaway with cocoon-style loungers and private cabanas; as well as in the floor-to-ceiling glass-wrapped Observatory. The Marina is the primary access point to the ship and the six custom-built Novurania yacht tenders operating from a dedicated pontoon offer a seamless sea-to-shore experience for guests.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the contemporary, casual Seaside Restaurant where menus have been crafted by the company’s Michelin-starred chef. The Ocean Grill offers a casual dining space, panoramic views as well as ‘Dinner under the Stars’. Alternatively, guests have the choice of ordering from an indulgent in-room dining menu – or sign up for first-ever glamping experience at sea in the cabanas at The Vista on Deck 7.
The social hub of Celebrity Flora is the Discovery Lounge; here guests can enjoy presentations and briefings from the 11 onboard Naturalists. Guests will also learn about the activities and excursions they will have the opportunity to participate in during their Galápagos cruise. In this large room there’s a full bar, a stage for entertainment, and comfortable seating, including sofas and lounge chairs for relaxing.
Darwin’s Cove is the centre of information and discovery. The Lab is a functioning research facility where onboard Naturalists explain the unique species of birds and mammals that caught the imagination of Charles Darwin who based his work ‘On the Origin of Species’ on his study of natural selection he witnessed on these isolated islands.
Celebrity Flora’s two Penthouse Suites are the largest in the Galápagos with separate indoor and outdoor living areas, customisable lighting and blinds, and a telescope. Guests can also find relaxation in Royal Suites, Ultimate Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda, Premium Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda and Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda.
Celebrity Flora undertakes two alternating seven-night routes in the Galápagos – the Outer Loop and the Inner Loop. There is also the option of a stay in Quito or a tour that takes in Machu Picchu.