Celebrity Cruises announced the planned acquisition of award-winning 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.
Ocean Adventures’ 64 permits will grow the Galápagos fleet capacity for Celebrity, which has operated the 100-guest Celebrity Xpedition for more than a decade.
The expanded line-up means modern luxury travellers looking to experience the Galápagos Islands will be able to choose a ship whose size and intimacy suits their personal preference.
“Our guests use the most amazing words to describe their journeys to the Galapágos Islands, said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & 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.”
New choices, greater intimacy – and more destinations
The unique range of ship sizes creates more opportunities for regular cruises, group bookings and custom charters. The ships’ smaller sizes – 100, 48 or 16 guests – will also present an exceptionally intimate modern luxury experience.
“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 said.
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 enduringly popular.
The two vessels will join the Celebrity Cruises fleet in the autumn (southern hemisphere) 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, said, “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.”
Protection and preservation
As part of its commitment to the Galápagos Islands, Celebrity 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 said. “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.”
As part of RCL’s global commitment to help ensure the long-term health of the oceans and the destinations its ships visit, Celebrity has had a longtime commitment to conservation work to help preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources in the Galápagos Islands. Past and current projects include a reforestation effort in Galápagos National Park, programs to give residents access to medical care, agricultural development, and support for local fishing families.
The acquisition of Ocean Adventures is subject to customary closing conditions.