CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Tuesday March 15, 2022
Our Ocean Safari ship featured in Forbes magazine
I have my “Google News” service flag articles relating to Galapagos. Every day I get a news feed that helps me monitor what is being said about the islands in various media.
Today, I came across a travel article in Forbes, featuring the luxury ship we use for our Ocean Safari trip – the Integrity. It was a decent, succinct piece. The ship’s main marketing company, INCA, was featured prominently. CNH Tours has had a very good working relationship with INCA for 15+ years. The people running that company really know Galapagos well and have a multi-decade history there. Until recently, our relationship was limited to helping small groups / couples book spaces on the ship. But last year, after an exhaustive search, we decided to charter the Integrity for our new “OCEAN SAFARI” trips, starting in 2023.
Integrity: Understated elegance
We chose this luxury ship for a few reasons:
- Excellent itineraries: We have analyzed many ship itineraries over the years and have come to appreciate what elements contribute to a superior one. Factors such as avoiding needless back-tracking, which has you spending more time underway than necessary; spending minimal time in urban areas and more time out among the islands; an 8 day journey that is not made up of two smaller segments during which the ship picks up / drops off guests on shorter trips; avoiding visitor sites that have very little natural history value; avoiding long day-time traverses in which the activity is "whale watching" - a euphemism for "we'll be spending all afternoon underway and nothing is planned".
Left: Circuitous "Inner Loop" itinerary of the mega yacht Celebrity Flora. Right: Efficient "Born of Fire" itinerary of the Integrity. The Integrity takes guests to more visitors sites in the same amount of time, spending less time in human settlements.
- Elegance and comfort without the bling: Over the past 15-20 years, most of the Galapagos expedition cruise ship fleet has moved towards the high end market. In their effort to impress would-be guests, several ships have gone "over the top". Design seems to have the Miami/Russia jet-set scene in mind, with stainless steel, coloured glass, avant-garde furniture. The focus tends to be more on bells and whistles rather than on nautical / natural design themes. Some market their ships as "mega" yachts - exactly what we think should be avoided if you are keen on an intimate experience in the islands. After having inspected the Integrity, we came back with the image of "understated elegance" - which we felt was in line with the overall experience.
- Locally owned and operated: The ship is owned and operated by a local Galapagos family - the Sievers. The patriarch has been in Galapagos since the late 1950's and in his twenties was one of the first Darwin Station directors. His two son have taken up most of the responsibility now.
- Top quality guides: The Integrity's naturalist guides are professionals. Some have been in the business for decades. They are regularly called upon to serve as naturalist guides for VIPs that visit the islands on private tours.
For twenty years we’ve been organizing our “ACTIVE GALAPAGOS” trip on the very cozy 14 passenger Samba. We started with four departures per year, and now we’re chartering the ship for over 22 weeks a year. We’ve found that a lot of people are keen on being active, on getting out early, and engaging as much as possible with the Galapagos environment. Our guests are reassured that they will be on a ship with like-minded fellow passengers and with a crew and naturalist guides that will enable a more active experience. But we found that a number of people, while very keen on our Active Galapagos trips, decided to give them a pass in favour of a more comfortable ship. It’s for that reason that we started offering the Ocean Safari on the Integrity.
For more information, see our Ocean Safari page here.