(5:15 p.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises has taken delivery of its Celebrity Flora expedition ship, the first ever to be specifically designed to sail the Galapagos Islands. During a ceremony held at the Netherlands-based shipyard, company executives took the stage to express the significance of the launch which comes after more than two years of planning and 18 months of construction.
"The delivery of Celebrity Flora is a momentous occasion," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Designing a new ship specifically for the Galapagos Islands was an exciting challenge and we think Celebrity Flora succeeded beautifully. It is of course luxurious -- but it's also the most energy-efficient ship of its kind in the region, which further demonstrates our commitment to sustainability and protecting the vital ecosystem of this unique place."
Added Celebrity Cruises' president and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo: "More than two years of planning, collaboration and construction have led to this very exciting moment," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of architects, artisans, engineers and more, we're one step closer to the first-ever sailing of the beautiful Celebrity Flora, which will forever change the way guests experience the Galapagos. Travelers will soon be able to step on board our stunning 100-guest mega yacht with the largest and most luxurious all-suite accommodations in the Galapagos Islands."
Celebrity Cruises touts Flora as the most energy-efficient ship of its kind in the region, with features such as anchorless technology that can maintain the ship's position while also protecting the sensitive sea floor. The ship also will have a 1-to-9, naturalist-to-passenger ratio with naturalists certified by Galapagos National Park onboard to lead the enrichment programming.
Other highlights of the ship include the outdoor Ocean Grill, serving fresh local ingredients and seafood; an observatory and star-gazing platform; a marina stocked with Zodiacs; and a top-deck glamping experience. (Learn more about the suites and public spaces, in our report from a recent shipyard tour.)
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Celebrity Flora will set sail on May 15 for the Galapagos Islands, where it will alternate between seven-night cruises and select 10-, 11- and 16-night packages that include either pre- or post-cruise land expeditions. The ship will be named on June 30 by former World Wildlife Fund president Yolanda Kakabadse.