Among the islands in the Galapagos is Isabela Island.
Isabela Island, one of the islands in the Galapagos chain.

If seeing giant sea turtles in the Galapagos is on your bucket list, Celebrity Cruises is giving you more chances to tick it off by increasing its presence in the Galapagos Islands archipelago by 65% through the acquisition of expedition operator Ocean Adventures.

Little known to many cruisers, the line normally associated with its big-ship premium cruise experience has maintained a presence in the Galapagos for the last decade through its long-term lease of the 100-passenger vessel Celebrity Xpedition, which will continue. All existing bookings on Ocean Adventures will be unaffected.

The existing Celebrity Xpedition for Celebrity Cruises.
The existing Celebrity Xpedition will be complemented with two smaller vessels for those seeking a more intimate Galapagos experience.

Celebrity’s new acquisition includes a fleet of two vessels – the 48-passenger M/V Eclipse and the more intimate 16-guest catamaran M/C Athala II. While the two new ships are smaller, Celebrity says they will allow it to maximise capacity without requiring new permits in the highly regulated region. In addition, the differing ship sizes will also allow passengers to choose a vessel which more suits their individual style.

Via its new vessels, itineraries offered by Celebrity will be able to expand the range of bays, coves and ports that were more difficult to access with the larger ship such as Puerto Villamil, Darwin Bay, Black Turtle Cove, Chinese Hat Islet and Wall of Tears, viewing native wildlife such as giant tortoises, iguanas and blue-footed boobies.

Groups travelling together will be able to charter entire vessels without missing out on the famous Celebrity service and cuisine normally offered aboard Celebrity Xpedition. The vessels will enter dry dock in January 2017 where significant upgrades will take place to bring them up to the modern luxury standards of Celebrity’s vessels.

The 48-passenger M/V Eclipse will join the Celebrity Cruises fleet.
One of Celebrity Cruises’ new vessels – the 48-passenger M/V Eclipse.

Celebrity Cruises CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the company was looking to make more lifetime memories, adding its guests describe their journeys to the Galapagos Islands as ‘once in a lifetime,’ ‘awe-inspiring,’ even ‘life-changing.

“The most extraordinary part of a Galápagos journey is truly the destination, which is one of the most important environmental places in the world,” Ms Lutoff-Perlo added.

Both ships will operate to the highest standards of environmental protection and ensure continued preservation of the unique environment in which they operate. With Celebrity ensuring the kaleidoscope of flora and fauna is protected in every activity guests and crew take part in. Celebrity has also recently supported efforts for reforestation in the Galapagos National Park.

In addition to acquiring Ocean Adventures vessels, Celebrity will now take charge of Ocean Adventures’ extensive program of land packages throughout South America. Highlights include expedition extensions to Machu Picchu in Peru and the Andes Mountains where guests will be able to enjoy a snapshot of life with local residents and stay in local hotels.

The M/C Athala rooms will be upgraded to Celebrity Cruises standard.
One of eight guest staterooms on the M/C Athala – the smallest of Celebrity’s new acquisitions.