There are a great many things to do in the Galapagos Islands other than look at giant tortoises. There are volcano hikes. And swimming with hammerhead sharks. And, now apparently, glamping atop a 100-passenger mega-yacht.
Such is the opportunity aboard the Celebrity Flora, a new ship from Celebrity Cruises, and the first luxury ship designed especially for the Galapagos Islands. It began sailing this summer, offering a small-ship experience with large-ship luxury, including an all-suite configuration and butler service in each room.
But perhaps its most sensational offering is the top-deck glamping experience guests can book for $299 a night. Available for one night only, the glamping deck will have you sleeping under the stars, whether on the luxury cabana bed or the adjacent luxury sofa.
While gazing at the sky you’ll enjoy a private campfire-inspired meal, complete with special wine and s’mores. And when the sun comes up, you’ll have a sunrise breakfast over the islands, served bedside whatever time you like. Though it might be hard to sleep with the equatorial sun in your face.
Even for those not getting in on the glamping, Celebrity Flora offers its own stargazing deck to take in the night sky, as well as an indoor observation lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, in case the weather is a little inhospitable.
The expedition ship also boasts the nicest shore tenders you’ll ever see on this type of vessel, with metal railings and wood-colored floors making trips ashore barely seem like leaving the ship. The interior of the 333-foot ship was designed by Celebrity partner Francesca Bucci and Ecuadorian native Adriana Hoyos. Hoyos used elements from the islands to accent the ship, making it feel almost like a luxury take on the unique landscape.
Voyages on the Celebrity Flora will last 10 or 11 nights, beginning in Quito before flying to Baltra, then sailing around the islands for over a week. This kind of luxury doesn’t come cheaply either, as the all-inclusive, all-suite mega-yacht trips start around $10,000 — and that’s before your night of glamping.
For those concerned about sailing a massive cruise ship into such a protected environment — since cruises are, in general, the worst for sustainability — Celebrity Cruises is trying to mitigate the effects of large-scale cruising as much as possible. This new ship was designed with the fragile local ecosystem in mind. There are no single-use plastics on board, rooms come with reusable water bottles and filtration systems, and reverse osmosis technology allows the boat to turn seawater into freshwater for its needs, according to Fast Company. It’s also refrigerating its recyclables to ward off bacteria until it can be disposed of on land, and is working to decrease food waste.
The ship also was designed to reduce air emissions and fuel consumption, lessen the noise of the ship that can disturb marine life, and “anchor” without the need to physically anchor into the seafloor. Best yet, the boat features an educational science lab for guests to learn more about the Galapagos wildlife and environment, in hopes that they leave more motivated to protect it and other ecosystems.
So while the Galapagos Islands were once a rough, inhospitable place, now it can be enjoyed al fresco with fine wine and chocolate — all while feeling good that you’re having as minimal a carbon impact as you could have while still cruising. It will cost you a good amount of money and time, but exploring this unique archipelago always has. And if you want to add glamping to the list of enviable stuff you did on a Galapagos expedition, booking with Celebrity Cruises can make that a reality.