Celebrity breaks out with first cruise newbuild for the Galápagos

Celebrity Flora - From top left, clockwise - Incredible views from a Penthouse Suite, lots of open deck space up top, outdoor lounge The Vista, Sky Suite with Infinite Veranda Celebrity Flora - From top left, clockwise - Incredible views from a Penthouse Suite, lots of open deck space up top, outdoor lounge The Vista, Sky Suite with Infinite Veranda

Celebrity Cruises is upping the ante in the Galápagos by building a dedicated all-suite ship, Celebrity Flora, packed with environmental features and a style similar to Celebrity Edge.

The design maximizes views—ideal for deployment in the wildlife-rich Galápagos—and offers multiple lounges and dining venues, a stargazing platform, a marina that can load three Zodiacs at once, two water features and four private cabanas to rent for sleeping under the stars.

'It's another exclamation point for the brand,' said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO.

The 100-passenger ship is under construction in the Netherlands at De Hoop, a builder of specialized vessels that's best known in the cruise arena for its river vessels. Delivery is set for spring 2019.

'A lot of what you see in the Galápagos is from the ship—penguins in the water or boobies flying by. We wanted to be sure there's plenty of open deck space to see this amazing cornucopia of wildlife,' Lutoff-Perlo said.

Her own trip to the Galápagos in April helped inform the design of Celebrity Flora. 'I came back with a head full of ideas how we could make an amazing experience even better,' Lutoff-Perlo told Seatrade Cruise News.

Those included roomier accommodations, Zodiac loading improvements, a dedicated space (Darwin's Cove) where travelers can interact with naturalists and get more information on wildlife and conservation, a pool and a purpose-built stargazing platform. Another addition: a dedicated casual alternative restaurant, Ocean Grill, which will offer dining under the stars.

When not in use, the Zodiacs will be stacked in a special area so they don't take up room or mar views on the upper decks, where such boats are typically stored.

Also, instead of the one naturalist guide per 16 people on Celebrity Xpedition, Celebrity Flora will have one guide per 12.

At 5,739gt, Flora will become the largest cruise ship in the Galápagos, which translates to extraordinary spaciousness since passenger count per ship is limited to 100 for operations within the Galápagos National Park, a protected area.

The size compares to Celebrity Xpedition's 2,840gt, Silversea Expeditions' Silver Galapagos at 4,203gt and Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Endeavor II (which carries 96 passengers) at 2,716gt.

Besides allowing more public areas, Flora's size enables roomier suites. According to Lutoff-Perlo, 'A lot of people want suites, and a lot of people traveling to the Galápagos are multigenerational families.'

The top-of-the-line pair of corner Penthouse Suites, 1,288 square feet each, feature big verandas (321 square feet) and bathrooms (196 square feet) with floor-to-ceiling windows. They resemble the Iconic Suites on Celebrity Edge.

Celebrity Flora is 'very much a nod to Celebrity Edge, the look and feel, the timeless design, the Infinite Verandas,' Lutoff-Perlo said.

The standard accommodations, Sky Suite with Infinite Veranda, measure 330 square feet. But beyond accommodations, the style of the top open deck with its luxurious lounge areas and contemporary furniture, and the ship's overall open design, make the look 'Edgy.'

Especially important for its operations in the Galápagos National Park are advanced environmental features that reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 15% compared to Celebrity Xpedition. The new ship will have dynamic positioning, and an in-room water filtration system should cut or eliminate passengers' use of bottled water, reducing plastic waste.

When Celebrity Flora enters service on May 26, 2019, it will sail from Baltra year-round, taking over the itineraries Celebrity Xpedition currently operates. Celebrity Xpedition will assume the routes currently offered by Celebrity's two smaller Galápagos boats, which are then expected to leave the fleet, Lutoff-Perlo said.

Posted 16 November 2017

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review