Celebrity Cruises’ expedition ship Celebrity Flora has been designed and built to sail in the Galapagos. She will arrive in the islands in mid-June and will be christened by Yolanda Kakabadse, a former president of the World Wildlife Fund.
Style & character 8/10
Final touches were being made to Flora during our visit to the Dutch shipyard where she was built, but it was easy to appreciate her “yacht” style credentials.
All cabins, called “suites”, have window-facing beds and personal assistants (butlers by another name). Twenty-four have infinite balconies featuring panoramic windows that open halfway; the rest have traditional outside balconies. Two penthouse suites have an enviable view over the back of the ship. Four rooms have connecting doors for families. All cabins come with an integrated filtered drinking-water tap.
Food & drink 8/10
The Seaside Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The evening menu will offer both Ecuadorian-inspired dishes and celebrity favourites. Lunch and dinner are also offered at the al fresco Ocean Grill, and all meals can be served to the room. The line says only locally sourced and sustainable seafood will be used, along with fresh fruit and vegetables, where possible. An outdoor lounge by the marina promises to be a favourite for al fresco drinks.
There are 81 crew. All were most attentive but this was an overnight in port, so is not rated.
The Discovery Lounge doubles as a bar and lecture room, with a large LED screen, and guests check-in via Darwin’s Cove (pictured) which also houses an oceanographic research lab. There are two rooftop cabanas which can be booked for a night under the stars. The price of $299pp includes dinner and a visit from the captain.
Celebrity has given a lot of thought to the inflatable boats that take passengers on excursions to see wildlife. The tender boats have access steps with safety rails, and are designed to lock into Flora’s marina platform, making for a stable entry and exit, even in a swell. Each holds 12 people. Excursions are led by 10 naturalists who will host talks about the flora, fauna and history of the Galapagos.
Value for money 9/10
Prices include meals on board, unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks, excursions, snorkel equipment, Wi-Fi and gratuities. A free laundry service is offered twice per sailing. Celebrity can add flights and a pre- and post-cruise hotel in Quito on request.