Por Georgina Cruz
For AL DIA TODAY
They are almost the equivalent of a Garden of Eden in our time: the idyllic islands of the Galapagos Archipelago of Ecuador. The lucky traveler who makes it to their coasts, isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, notices immediately that he finds himself in a pristine paradise with clear waters, clean air and an exotic and abundant fauna. And what catches his eye immediately is that the animals he encounters are not afraid of him and run or fly away, but instead remain near the visitor as if posing for photos.
And now, beginning this month of August, there is a new option to visit the Galapagos Archipelago in luxurious comfort with the launch of the new expedition yacht, Silver Origin, from Silversea Cruises. “Every element of the ship has been designed with the destination in mind and tailored to enhance the experience for travelers, while fostering a deep sense of respect for this magnificent ecosystem and everything that inhabits it,” said Manfredi Lebebvre D’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises.
The yacht-like 8,500-ton ship, with a capacity for only 100 passengers, boasts the latest in technology, lodging in all suite accommodations with verandas, eight zodiacs and kayaks for excursions to landscapes and beaches inhabited by marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, giant tortoises and exotic birds including the famous blue-footed boobies. On each cruise a team of experts including naturalists and experts on the fauna of the Galapagos, the islands’ geology, history and culture, offer talks and guide excursions.
Among the facilities and amenities onboard the Silver Origin are the following:
The Marina – this is a key point to board the yacht-like ship and it is connected to the embarkation site for zodiacs and kayaks, and to the Basecamp, a vibrant space with a digital wall where passengers will have access to content about the islands on the itinerary, videos, aerial and underwater photos, photos of the fauna and scientific presentations as well as previews of excursions.
Public Areas – Among the lounges ideal for relaxation after a day of touring the islands is the Explorer’s Lounge with books, a piano, floor-to-ceiling windows, and comfortable seating. Here talks about the islands are presented and it is the spot for music and a cocktail before dinner. This lounge has a terrace with a fire pit and a circular sofa for relaxation in the evenings. Another spot destined to be popular with guests is the Observation Lounge, located forward, with walls of windows offering 180-degree vistas of the sea and the islands.
· Restaurants – The Silver Origin has two: the formal Restaurant with seating for all 100 guests at the same time (so you do not have to worry if there will be a table available when you want to have dinner). It utilizes “farm to table” fresh ingredients and serves specialties from Ecuador’s cuisine. The Grill is the second restaurant, offering informal, al fresco dining with the popular “Hot Rocks” concept from Silversea whereby diners finish cooking to their taste their steaks, fish and other delights on hot rocks right at their table. Although this restaurant is outside it has protection against the wind or cold weather so diners are comfortable year-round.
Spa and Gym – The gym is equipped with Technogym machines and offers sea views. There is a beauty salon for manicures, pedicures and hair styling and a room for massage and therapies.
The suites of the Silver Origin are among the most spacious in the Galapagos –one, the Owner’s Suite is a whopping, 1,722 square feet. All have private balconies and are decorated in soft tones. Many of the upper category suites have bathtub and shower with sea views that are accessible from the suites’ balconies.
An interesting fact: Silversea has established a charitable fund through which guests and the company are able to make contributions for the protection of the Galapagos Archipelago.
Itineraries: The Silver Origin will sail year-round from the Galapagos beginning this month of August. She will offer seven-day cruises from Baltra to San Cristobal and vice versa. For additional information, visit www.silversea.com.