Hurtigruten Expeditions is adding the Galapagos to its destinations network. The expedition cruise line will charter the 90-passenger MS Santa Cruz II from Ecuador’s Metropolitan Touring from next year.
Starting from January 5, 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will offer Australian clients a 10-day Galapagos Islands Adventure – in Darwin’s Footsteps itinerary, visiting some of the most spectacular sites of the archipelago, including two pre- and one post-night hotel stays in Quito bookending the six-night expedition cruise. Guests will also have the option to add a four-day pre-program to Machu Picchu.
The itinerary is priced from $9,989 per person twin-share, with at least two departures every month from January through to December 2022.
“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 travel experiences, with a sharp increase in demand for the type of small ships/big experiences we offer,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
“The pandemic has dramatically pushed this development forward. There is huge pent-up demand for traveling right now, and we are responding with this breathtaking new destination,” Skjeldam remarked.
Hurtigruten Expeditions has entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Metropolitan Touring to utilise the fully upgraded Santa Cruz II.
Metropolitan Touring has operated within the archipelago since it pioneered expedition cruises in Galapagos almost 70 years ago. Hurtigruten Expeditions pioneered expedition cruises in 1896 and has since grown to the world’s largest expedition cruise line.
Paulina Burbano de Lara, CEO Metropolitan Touring said: “This partnership brings together two companies that combine the best of two worlds: Hurtigruten Expeditions as a global player with an excellent reputation in expedition cruises, and our long history and deep knowledge of the Galapagos Islands. We are really excited to welcome the first Hurtigruten Expeditions’ guests on board,” Burbano de Lara added.
As part of the partnership, the MS Santa Cruz II – including all suites and cabins, explorer lounge, dining room, bar, and other public areas – will be fully upgraded. A Hurtigruten Expeditions hallmark, a Science Area, will also be added, where guests and the onboard expedition team will create an even deeper understanding of the wonders they explore.
Carbon neutral exploring
With both companies sharing common values in investing in sustainability, all Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to Galapagos are carbon neutral. Hurtigruten Expeditions guests will contribute directly to the protection of biodiverse forests in northwestern Ecuador, named a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2018.
“The Galapagos has long been regarded as one of the world’s greatest natural sanctuaries. It’s wild, isolated, diverse, and safe. As in all destinations, we will be working closely with local communities to ensure we play a positive role in long-term sustainability,” said Asta Lassesen, Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO.
Cruise highlights include exploring the Giant Tortoise breeding centre, getting close to sea lions and land iguanas, bird watching, kayaking, and snorkelling, as well as daily lectures to better understand the islands, their history, and animal population both above and below the sea.