The ultra-luxury line has bought the 100-passenger, 4,077-ton expedition ship Galapagos Explorer II and upmarket Ecuadorian tourism company Canodros.
The ship will continue to operate as Galapagos Explorer II until September 2013, when it will be refurbished to Silversea standards and renamed.
The ship will fall under the Silversea Expeditions brand, and will complement its other expedition ship, Silver Explorer. The purchase is part of Silversea's long-running desire to expand further into the expedition market. It will also mean the line can offer Galapagos itineraries for the first time.
Steve Odell, Silversea's Senior Vice President, UK, Europe and Asia Pacific, told Cruise Critic: “This has been in the making for several months and this is one of the areas that we have been keen to expand into. No one is offering a luxury cruise experience to the Galapagos Islands of the standards of Silversea.”
Galapagos Explorer II is a former Renaissance ship and already has 50 suites, all of which have ocean views, and 24 of which will have private balconies. Public spaces include a restaurant, piano bar, library and internet station, main lounge, outdoor bar, two outdoor whirlpools and a marine observation deck.
Odell said the ship would be refurbished to Silversea standards and would include butler service for all the suites, but that structurally it would stay the same:
“We will have to take it out [next September] to do some technical work and soft furnishings. But it's a lovely ship, an old Renaissance one, so we won't change the size of the suites.”
The ship sails under an Ecuadorian flag and has an all-Ecuadorian crew. It's not clear how long the ship will be out of service, nor what its new name will be at this stage. Bookings for the ship will continue to be taken by Canodros.
--by Adam Coulter, Senior Editor, Cruise Critic U.K.