Metropolitan Touring pioneered expedition cruises in the protected archipelago almost 70 years ago.
'We have seen a clear trend of travelers seeking out truly unique and meaningful travel experiences, with a sharp increase in demand for the type of small ships/big experiences we offer,' Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam said. 'The pandemic has dramatically pushed this development forward.'
Travelers will explore the Galápagos on board the soon-to-be fully upgraded 90-passenger Santa Cruz II.
'This partnership brings together two companies that combine the best of two worlds: Hurtigruten Expeditions as a global player with an excellent reputation in expedition cruises, and our long history and deep knowledge of the Galápagos Islands,' Metropolitan Touring CEO Paulina Burbano de Lara said.
'It is a perfect match between two companies with a proud history, strong heritage and passion for the well-being of our oceans and our planet,' Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen added.
During Seatrade Cruise Virtual's State of the Expedition Cruise Industry keynote in March, Lassesen had cited the Galápagos as her top bucket-list destination.
Nine-day cruise and land adventures
Starting Jan. 5, 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will offer nine-day adventures that pair a six-day cruise in the archipelago with pre- and post-cruise packages. It is also possible to add a four-day pre-cruise program to Machu Picchu in Peru.
Santa Cruz II upgrade
As part of the partnership, Santa Cruz II will be fully upgraded, including all suites and cabins, the explorer lounge, dining room, bar and other public areas. A science area, a Hurtigruten Expeditions hallmark, will also be added.
With both companies sharing the common value of investing in sustainability, all Hurtigruten Galápagos cruises will be carbon neutral. Passengers will contribute directly to the protection of biodiverse forests in northwestern Ecuador, named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2018.
Cruise highlights include exploring a giant tortoise breeding center, getting close to sea lions and land iguanas, bird-watching, kayaking and snorkeling, as well as daily lectures to better understand the islands, their history and animal population above and below the sea.