Celebrity Flora, Celebrity Cruises' first-ever purpose-built ship for sailing in the Galapagos is also one of the line's prettiest ships to date. The design is both environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing, employing such innovations as anchorless technology and underwater noise reduction systems, as well as natural colors and fabrics to give it an earthy feel that fits in perfectly in the region.
Photos: Dori Saltzman/Cruise Critic
One of Flora's most impressive features is its aft marina, part of which folds up when the ship is moving. The marina is where passengers get onto and off the ship, and also where they gather before each excursion to get kitted out with snorkel equipment when appropriate. There are lockers here, as well as faucets and showers for washing off shoes, feet and wet suits when coming back to the ship after several hours ashore.
In order to make shore excursion landings, and getting on and off the ship, easier Celebrity Cruises designed a new style of rigid inflatable boat that incorporates both a ramp and stairs. Cruisers use the ramp when stepping between land and the tender, and use the stairs when getting onto and off Flora as the top stair is flush with Flora's marina. No more clumsily swinging a leg over the side of the Zodiac-style boat and hoping you don't slip and fall!
Seaside Restaurant is the main dining space onboard Flora. It has room for more than the ship's 100-passenger compliment, with plenty of space between tables so you're never knocking elbows with anyone. The colors are serene and the near-floor-to-ceiling windows along both sides of the space let in plenty of natural light and allow for wonderful views.
The Discovery Lounge, located across the way from Seaside Restaurant on Deck 4, is the place to be when not ashore or relaxing in your room. With a small bar and plenty of comfortable seating, it's a spot for casual conversations, pepping up with a coffee or learning about the Galapagos during a naturalist-led presentation. As with the Seaside Restaurant, there's more than enough room for 100 passengers and the colors and materials are all inspired by the Galapagos giving the space a calm, natural feel.
Forty-six cabins of 50 cabins on Celebrity Flora are Sky Suites of one variation or another. All feature a king-sized bed (which can be split into two smaller beds), along with a sitting area and either a real balcony or an infinite veranda (a solarium-esque space with a floor-to-ceiling window that can be lowered halfway). Sky Suites range in size from 330 to 365 square feet.
Celebrity Flora's top deck shows off much of the ship's naturally inspired style, incorporating wood and stone elements that help it blend seamlessly into the scenery. One-half of the top deck is given over to the Ocean Grill for casual lunches and dinners; the other half is The Vista, which is all about relaxation and gorgeous views. No matter which side you choose, it's a wonderful spot for relaxing with a glass of wine as you watch the sun set on another dreamy Galapagos day.
A unique spot onboard Celebrity Flora is the science lab, where cruisers will find hands-on learning experiences, including using an electronic microscope to see how the sand from each Galapagos island is unique or what type of phytoplankton and zooplankton is in a scoop of water taken from off the side of the ship. Visiting scientists will also be able to use the lab to do research.
While Celebrity Flora may be a small ship, it's large enough for the line to have carved out enough space to put in extras, like a cold-water plunge pool on Deck 4 with room for eight people. There's also a hot tub up on Deck 7 and even a small gym and massage room on Deck 5.