PURPOSE-BUILT CRUISER FOR THE GALAPAGOS
Heralding a new stage in the development of the booming expedition cruise market, Dutch shipbuilder De Hoop has delivered a 100 passenger-capacity vessel custom-designed for year-round operation in the Galapagos Islands, writes David Tinsley.
Every aspect of the technical specification, performance and interiors of the ultra-luxury Celebrity Flora reflects acknowledgement of the singularly diverse and delicate environment of the Galapagos, located some 600 miles off the Ecuadorian mainland. While the passenger complement is the maximum permitted within the Galapagos National Park, the 5,739gt vessel is the largest deployed in the islands to date, providing greater spaciousness and an all-suite accommodation layout for guests.
Launched at De Hoop’s Lobith yard on the Rhine, and completed at Schiedam, Celebrity Flora sailed from the Netherlands in mid-May following a handover ceremony in Rotterdam. Ordered two years ago for service under Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Cruises brand in the Galapagos, she will maintain alternating seven-night inner and outer loop itineraries from the island of Baltra, taking over from the 2,840gt Celebrity Xpedition. The latter’s redeployment within the islands will in turn lead to the release of two existing, smaller ships.
The new vessel is distinguished by an innovative, outward-facing design that makes the destination the centre of attention. The objective has been to create the feeling among passengers of being immersed in the environment rather than of simply being a passing visitor.
Classed by Lloyd’s Register, Celebrity Flora is said by the shipyard to be the first vessel built according to the latest probabilistic damage stability regulations and therefore complies with the relevant rules for 2020. The design takes account of Galapagos National Park Directorate Regulations specifying environmentally low-impact features and materials, and the ship is claimed to be the most energy efficient of its kind in the region.
Power for the two propulsion drivelines, two bow thrusters and other consumers is sourced from four main diesel generators incorporating Caterpillar C32 high-speed engines. A selective catalytic reduction (SCR) installation ensures compatibility with the IMO Tier III limit on NOx emissions.
As the vessel is expected to be stationary, in a bay or close to any of the islands, for 66% of the operational time, particular consideration was given to engineering design and equipment selection, so as to engender efficient performance in dynamic positioning (DP) mode. DP also obviates the need for anchoring, thereby helping to protect the seabed. Combined with a zero-speed stabiliser function, the DP2 system will choose a heading to minimise roll and heave motions, significantly improving passenger comfort. To achieve the requisite redundancy, the power and propulsion plant is duplicated and housed in two separate engine rooms.
Employing two azimuthing main thrusters of dual-end, contra-rotating propeller (CRP) type, plus 400kW tunnel thrusters at the bow, Celebrity Flora achieves a high level of manoeuvrability and offers a 12-knot cruising speed. The vessel has a 200m2 array of solar panels to supplement the electrical energy supply. The complete electrical installation was subcontracted to De Hoop’s near-neighbour Droste Elektro, at Tolkamer.
Abatement of noise and vibration has commanded close attention, leading to a raft of measures that include floating floors, flexibly-mounted machinery and equipment, and anti-vibration panels in walls and ceilings. Practical implementation of solutions was supported by frequency analyses, and the outcome has been such as to attain the Comfort Class 1 notation.
The ship carries her own flotilla of bespoke Novurania RIB tenders, featuring metal railings at the forward end to fit flush against the ship’s open transom. Integral stairs and a fold-out platform at the stern allow safe and easy boarding for passengers and serve as the transfer point for guests making shore excursions and engaging in offshore activities. Each tender has a hydraulic ramp to facilitate island landings.
Celebrity Flora is also the first in the Galapagos to host cutting-edge oceanographic research equipment in support of the OceanScope programme. The initiative is a product of Celebrity’s 20-year relationship with the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, to monitor conditions that have a crucial bearing on El Niño and La Niña patterns.
PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - Celebrity Flora
Diesel-electric (4 x main generators)
2 x 1,450kW
2 x 400kW
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