Hurtigruten Expeditions is to launch Galapagos cruises next year by completely revamping an existing 90-passenger boat.
The Norwegian line will offer seven-day adventures on the Santa Cruz II after overhauling all its suites and cabins, explorer lounge, dining room, bar and other public areas. Hurtigruten Expeditions will also add one of its hallmark Science Areas to give guests and the on-board expedition team an even deeper understanding of the islands and their unique wildlife.
Cruises will begin around the isolated archipelago, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, in January 2022.
Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam said: ‘We are extremely excited to expand our South America offering to one of the most spectacular destinations on the planet. We have seen a clear trend of travellers seeking out truly unique and meaningful experiences, with a sharp increase in demand for the type of small ships/big experiences we offer. The pandemic has dramatically pushed this development forward. There is huge pent-up demand for traveling right now and we are responding with this breath-taking new destination.’
To operate the cruises, Hurtigruten has entered into a long-term partnership with Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, which pioneered expedition sailings around the islands almost 70 years ago. Its CEO, Paulina Burbano de Lara, said: ‘We believe the partnership will bolster the Galapagos’ reputation as a nature-based, responsible travel destination on the global stage.’
‘This is a significant milestone in our 125-year history of exploring,’ said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen. ‘The Galapagos is one of the world’s ultimate expedition cruise destinations. It is a perfect match between two companies with proud history, strong heritage and passion for the well-being of our oceans and our planet.’
All Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to Galapagos will be carbon neutral, with guests contributing directly to the protection of biodiverse forests in north-west Ecuador, a Unesco biosphere reserve.