NEWS + 7 PHOTOS: Hurtigruten Expeditions, a world leader in exploration travel, is expanding its global offering to one of the most iconic destinations on the planet: the Galapagos Islands.
Famous for its unique nature and wildlife, the isolated archipelago some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador has mesmerized travelers and scientists for centuries. From January 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will expand its breadth of destinations to include the Galapagos Islands offering modern-day explorers in-depth adventures described as ‘beyond imagination’.
“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 travelers seeking out truly unique and meaningful travel experiences, with a sharp increase in demand for the type of small ships / big experiences we offer. 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,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
To offer guests one-of-a-kind experiences, Hurtigruten Expeditions has entered into a long-term strategic partnership with Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, the most experienced and renowned travel company in the Galapagos.
Guests will explore the Galapagos in style and comfort onboard the fully upgraded 90-guest MS Santa Cruz II, adding to Hurtigruten Expeditions’ growing fleet of small purpose-built expedition cruise ships.
“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,” said Metropolitan Touring CEO Paulina Burbano de Lara.
Metropolitan Touring has offered intimate and unique encounters with the islands’ wildlife since they 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.
“This is a significant milestone in our 125-year history of exploring. The Galapagos is one of the world’s ultimate expedition cruise destinations. It is a perfect match between two companies with a proud history, strong heritage, and passion for the well-being of our oceans and our planet,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.
Starting from January 5, 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions will offer nine-day adventures, visiting some of the most spectacular and iconic sites of the archipelago onboard MS Santa Cruz II, as well as two nights in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito before the six-night cruise. The package also includes a full-day visit to the Cotopaxi National Park, home to the Cotopaxi volcano, the highest active volcano in South America. It is also possible to add a four-day pre-program to Machu Picchu in neighboring Peru before embarking on the Galapagos adventure.
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.
“Our unmatched experience in the Galapagos has enabled us to design and perfect the ideal way to explore the archipelago. Our itineraries are based on the concept of seeing as many of the ‘Big 15’ species as possible, with exclusive island and site visits. There really is no better way to see the islands,” said de Lara.
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 Lassesen.
Cruise highlights include exploring the Giant Tortoise breeding center, getting close to sea lions and land iguanas, bird watching, kayaking, and snorkeling, as well as daily lectures to better understand the islands, their history, and animal population both above and below the sea. Overall, the Galapagos is home to more than 9,000 species of wildlife, many of which are native only to the remote archipelago.
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