In August 2018, I was sent down to the Galápagos to review a number of luxury catamarans and yachts chartering these Darwinian islands for expedition and exploration. This was to follow up on Randy’s previous vessel scouting trip in 2016.
Taking three planes and boat, I soon enough found myself in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island where these expedition boats were docked. The boats reviewed were mainly small-sized, most topping off at 16 passengers, with the exception of one 48-passenger boat. My days consisted of arriving at the port and taking a Zodiac with my colleague to boats anchored further offshore. The onsite analysis included a meeting with the captain or manager and taking an immersive tour through the boat, all while discussing engineering, safety, itineraries, and crew experience. My background in environmental sciences provided me a good foundation in examining expedition itineraries, as well. The following boats were the stand-outs of my inspections:
Small-sized yachts or catamarans offer a more personalized experience while navigating through the Galápagos. The quality of one’s experience while sailing the Galápagos is dependent upon how well your curiosities are fulfilled. This is no better supported than being on a small-sized boat, where you can develop a relationship with the naturalist guide on board. Having a smaller passenger to guide ratio allows you to easily ask your nagging questions, while exploring and simply, to cover more ground with a significantly fewer number of passengers to prepare for activities. A small-sized boat is also advantageous because it has the permission to dock at more sites that limit both passenger and boat size. While some may be concerned about seasickness, new stabilizing technologies have advanced and the following boats featured offer sufficient stability.
The M/C Endemic
The 16-passenger M/C Endemic is the Galápagos Island’s newest luxury catamaran, just launched July 8, 2018. Having scouted five luxury catamaran and yachts previous to this inspection, I can earnestly say the M/C Endemic has lived up to expectations as the premier catamaran in the archipelago. The interior boasts high ceilings, elegantly clean decor, and an airy atmosphere. With wall-to-wall windows, natural light seeps into every corner of its confines. This includes all eight cabin-suites, which all have private balconies, offering an unrivaled panoramic view of this equatorial paradise.
For more information on the M/C Endemic, please click here to read the full blog post!
The M/Y Integrity
What sets the 16-passenger M/Y Integrity apart from every other yacht or catamaran in the Galápalgos Islands is its earned experience. In its 10 years, the Integrity has never missed a day of service and arguably, has some of the most prestigious naturalist guides in all of the Galápagos. If you’re a fanatic in the fine details of the Galápalgos’ natural history or its ever-evolving endemic ecosystems like myself, look no further. The Integrity yacht is owned by Rolf Sievers, the first manager of the Charles Darwin Research Station, who is partners with Bill Roberson, one of the first certified naturalist guides in the Galápagos and a scientist. That being said, the Integrity prides itself on its deep knowledge of the archipelago for the most immersive experience. Sievers and Roberson vet all guides, and all guides have been with the Integrity for its full 10 years.
For more information on the M/Y Integrity, please click here to read the full blog post!
The M/C Grace
The illustrious history of the M/Y Grace warrants its own distinction. The Grace was originally conceived in 1939 as an expedition vessel for the British war effort, where Winston Churchill was hosted in the Mediterranean during his warship visits. Its legacy continued when purchased by Aristotle Onassis (the second husband of, yes, Jackie Onassis) and gifted to Princess Grace Kelly at her wedding in 1956. Flashforward to 2006, a private company purchased The Grace and retrofitted this yacht into a timeless wonder. The M/Y Grace offers an intimate expedition of the Galápagos, capping at 18 passengers and a naturalist guide assigned to every nine guests. If wanting to blend history, luxury, and adventure, this is the boat for you.