Since my time in the Galapagos Islands in 2017 on the Celebrity Xperience I have been anxiously waiting for the delivery of the then just announced Celebrity Flora, as the first new, purpose-built, truly luxury expedition ship to sail in the Galapagos.
While the Silversea Silver Galapagos and Celebrity Xpedition provided upscale experiences back then (and today), no matter how you look at it, these are older ships with smaller accommodations and a number of limitations.
As you may be aware, Celebrity Cruises is part of the behemoth Royal Caribbean. What you might not be aware of is that Silversea Cruises is, as of a few months ago, also a part of Royal Caribbean’s cruise lines (at least to the extent of 66+% of it). I expected, and it is coming to fruition, Silversea is now upping its game not only as to the onboard experience but its ships.
|Silversea Silver Origin|
Silversea has just announced its new Galapagos luxury ship, Silver Origin. (Great name!). Silversea is calling it, “The Most Elegant Ship to Ever Sail the Galapagos“. Leaving the Celebrity Flora aside (see below), that is actually a pretty low bar as the current fleet is made up of old ships that have been buffed up.
As you will see, there are quite a number of similarities between these two luxury expedition ships – including that both are all-inclusive experiences from transfers to pre and post cruise hotels, tours and meals, internal air, as well as alcoholic beverages, wi-fi, gratuities and shore excursions on the ship.
But – at least at first blush – it appears that the Silver Origin is going to be focused on a more upscale, refined, decor and smaller group experiences while the Celebrity Flora is focused on more “modern luxury”, and younger demographic with more informality.
|Silver Origin’s Base Camp
NOTE: As there are many renderings in the Celebrity Flora video above, I am providing more renderings of the Silver Origin
The Silver Origin will carry up to 100 guests in fifty suites (all with verandas) in eight different categories. this is quite similar to her cousin, the Celebrity Flora, which also carries 100 guests in fifty suites in six different categories.
Certain of the Silver Origin suites will have a Horizon Balcony which can convert the space from any “enclosed balcony” to additional suite space with floor to ceiling windows. This is a “new to Silversea”, but not new to Celebrity concept. In fact, the Celebrity Flora has exactly the same thing; known as an “Infinite Veranda”; found in Ultimate, Premium and Sky Suites with Infinite Veranda categories. This is also the same concept found on Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Edge. (To me it seems more like a French Balcony as space is integral to the interior space and not really an outdoor area.)
The Silver Origin also has certain suites that have Oceanview Bathtubs or Oceanview Showers. The Ultimate and Premium Sky Suites on the Celebrity Flora have them as well.
The Celebrity Flora and Silver Origin both have two dining venues. The former has Seaside Restaurant and The Grill while the latter has The Restaurant and, you guessed it!, The Grill. Both are going to – necessarily and fortunately – focus on fresh Ecuadoran cuisine with a focus on fresh (not frozen) seafood. The Silver Origin will continue with a Silversea favorite Hot Rocks at The Grill in the evenings where you are given a superheated stone to cook your meal on.
|Silver Origin Terrace Lounge|
The Celebrity Flora will have a “glamping” option where you can rent a cabana, have a special dinner and cocktails, a star viewing guide and then sleep under the stars. I do not believe the Silver Origin will have this option. It will, however, have butlers for all suites and the highest ratio of guides to guests (1:10).
|Celebrity Flora’s Hideaway with Glamping Cabanas at the rear right|
Both will feature more purpose-built lounges for nightly presentations and orientation for the next day’s activities and explorations. On the Celebrity Flora it is the Discovery Lounge and on the Silver Origin it is the Explorer Lounge. Both will have an Observation Lounge high up and forward on the ship.
|Silver Origin Explorer Lounge|
On the technical side, both will have highly advanced water filtration systems and some of the most advanced energy efficiencies built in. So everything from emissions to plastic water bottles will be reduced, if not totally eliminated.
Both ships have Dynamic Positioning; something you will find on more and more ships; especially expedition vessels that visit environmentally sensitive areas, such as the new Seabourn Venture. Basically, the ship uses its azipods and thrusters to automatically keep the ship in the same position. This technology has been around for a few years in the superyacht and deep sea exploration industries, so I am pleased it is finding its way into the cruise industry.
So which do you choose: Silver Origin or Celebrity Flora? That to me is an interesting question! While I am confident Silversea’s guests will most likely loyally book the Silver Origin and Celebrity’s guests will most likely book Celebrity Flora (especially since Celebrity’s Captain’s Club provides significant value added to a premium product), I want to know how the onshore and in-water experiences are going to be presented to the guests.
Why? Because in the end, the Galapagos is about nature and observing/appreciating it. Having been there I am well aware that larger groups can adversely impact your experience as trails get crowded, the quiet observation can be shouted out by those less courteous, and snorkeling can become a social event rather than a person quiet observation of marine iguanas feeding or a seal playing with you or watching penguins feed.
This is most certainly a “Royal” Pair of Luxury Galapagos Expedition ships that I am very enthusiastic about; not only because of the luxury option now being truly available, but the thought and design that has gone into both of these ships from an environmental and product delivery standpoint.
Interested in a Silversea, Celebrity or other Galapagos expedition cruise, give me a call, drop me an email or send me a Facebook message!
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