THE company that pioneered expedition cruises to the Galapagos Islands in the 1960s is to launch a new luxury ship.
Santa Cruz II will have only 50 cabins for up to 90 passengers and will make its maiden voyage in October 2015.
It will be one of the most stylish expedition ships at sea, with leather armchairs and sofas in the Expedition lounge bar and library, zingy lime and orange furnishings in the Darwin dining room, and cabins with a wet room-style shower room.
Single, double and triple cabins will be available, as well as three luxurious Darwin Suites.
The five-deck ship will have a gym and Jacuzzis, plus outdoor eating area for deck barbecues. Locally sourced food, including fresh fish and seafood, plus organic vegetables, will be used for the Ecuadorian and international cuisine, under the direction of Cordon Bleu-trained Byron Rivera.
There will be Wifi hotspots on board, snorkelling equipment, kayaks and a glass-bottom boat.
The cabins are 64 per cent bigger than on the original Santa Cruz, and 36 can be interconnected for families or groups.
Metropolitan Touring is known for its high standard of guiding and its focus on preserving the Galapagos Islands’ delicate ecosystem by using the latest sustainable sailing technologies.
Four, five and nine-night itineraries in the Northern, Eastern and Western Galapagos Islands will be available and each expedition will be accompanied by seven of Metropolitan Touring’s knowledgeable guides, plus an expedition leader.
Activities will range from daily land expeditions in groups of up to 11, to ocean kayaking, snorkelling with sea lions and glass-bottom boat expeditions – all permitted by the Galapagos National Park.
Paulina Burbano de Lara, Metropolitan Touring’s executive president, said: “Our company has a long history of working to preserve, maintain and showcase the fascinating ecosystem of these islands to sustainably conscious travellers from all over the world.
“The Santa Cruz II signifies the start of a new era of cruising in the Galapagos Islands and allows us to continue evolving the standard of accommodation, service and expert guiding that we offer our customers.”
A five-day cruise on Santa Cruz II, with two nights in a Quito hotel and one night in a Guayaquil hotel, costs from £4,199 per person, based on two sharing.
This includes all flights, transfers, excursions, Galapagos Tourist Card, full-board on Santa Cruz II
and B&B hotel accommodation. For more information call 020 8600 1881 or visit journeylatinamerica.co.uk
by DEBORAH STONE