The Galapagos is the land that time forgot; an archipelago with unique biodiversity due to its remote location and exacting environmental management by the Ecuadorean Government. Why were Monaco-based charter brokers Seonaid and Bianca paying a visit?
"STELLA MARIS joined the Burgess charter fleet this year, following a refit and quite a bit of investment in crew training," says Seonaid, "so we were invited by the owner to see the results for ourselves and share our feedback on the yacht, crew and cruising ground."
STELLA MARIS is easily the best yacht available for charter in the Galapagos in terms of build, size and standard of furnishings, not to mention the crew.
She has seven cabins, which is unusual for her size, and can welcome up to 14 guests for charter.
We flew from Quito to Baltra to join STELLA MARIS, then sailed to North Seymour for a sunset walk among frigate birds, iguanas, blue-footed boobies and seals with pups. In Bartolomé we took a dawn trek to the island’s peak, where our guide Fausto explained how and why each island is unique. After lunch we spotted red crabs and penguins from the tender before snorkelling, where I was astounded by the size, colour and abundance of marine life, and the clarity of the water.
After a spectacular Brujo Flambé main course, the crew appeared in pirate gear with dessert and salsa tunes and lead us to the upper deck, decorated as a birthday surprise for one of the guests, where we learned Ecuadorian moves under equatorial stars. On San Cristobal we walked with giant tortoises, explored a lava tunnel and visited a local market and restaurants before our last night on board. On the way home we had a day to explore Quito before saying goodbye to a country that will no longer be just a name on a map.
The crew are very proud to be part of the STELLA MARIS team and are acutely aware that they represent the best of what the Galapagos has to offer – they are responsible for that experience – and they’re very keen to ensure that everyone leaves with a positive impression. Wendy, the Chief Stewardess, is a ray of sunshine and Chef Marco, is very talented.
WHY CHARTER STELLA MARIS?
As a tourist destination, the Galapagos started attracting visitors in the ‘70s and really kicked off in the ‘90s. The facilities for visitors remain limited and somewhat restricted to larger cruise ship-style package tours or trekking trips.
STELLA MARIS finally offers a more comfortable and private way of experiencing the Galapagos – and it really is as awe-inspiring as you expect. There is something for everyone, for every age – whether it’s geology, astronomy, history or wildlife that you enjoy. It’s an opportunity to learn about and better understand the world around us, and there is nothing more thrilling than doing or seeing something that you’ve never done before.
I was very pleased to have met and spent some time with the owner of STELLA MARIS, a grand lady with long-standing ties to the Galapagos. She has spent over 40 years developing the infrastructure for locals as well as visitors, recognising and anticipating their needs. She is dedicated and clearly well respected and loved by the crew and her team. If there is anyone who can make things happen in the Galapagos, it’s her!