Hurtigruten Expeditions is to offer cruises to the Galapagos Islands for the first time next year.
The first itineraries featuring the archipelago, which is 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, will leave in January 2022.
An 11-day holiday, including flights from the UK, leads in at £7,595. A 13-day itinerary, including Peru’s Machu Picchu, starts from £9,395.
Hurtigruten Expeditions has entered a long-term strategic partnership with Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, described as “the most experienced and renowned travel company in the Galapagos”.
Guests will sail on Metropolitan’s upgraded and reliveried 90-guest MS Santa Cruz II.
“We are extremely excited to expand our South America offering to one of the most spectacular destinations on the planet,” Hurtigruten Group chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said.
“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.
"The pandemic has dramatically pushed this development forward. There is huge pent-up demand for travelling right now, and we are responding with this breathtaking new destination.”
Hurtigruten Expeditions will offer seven-day itineraries on Santa Cruz II. As part of the partnership, the ship’s 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 the onboard expedition team will inform guests about what they are viewing.
Metropolitan Touring owns and operates three expedition vessels in the archipelago. It also has a hotel, the Finch Bay Galapagos, on Santa Cruz Island.
“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, deep knowledge and amazing, experienced teams working in the Galapagos Islands,” said Metropolitan Touring chief executive Paulina Burbano de Lara.
“We believe the partnership will bolster the Galapagos’ reputation as a nature-based, responsible travel destination on the global stage.”
All Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises to the Galapagos will be carbon neutral, with guests contributing directly to the protection of biodiverse forests in northwestern Ecuador, a Unesco biosphere reserve.
“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 wellbeing of our oceans and our planet,” Hurtigruten Expeditions’ chief executive Asta Lassesen added.