It used to be that if you wanted to see blue-footed boobies and giant colonies of sea lions sunning in the Galapagos Islands, you had to travel a bit as Charles Darwin did, on a research-style vessel whose creature comforts came second to up-close nature encounters. That’s changed. The new wildlife-seeking crowd wants to see endangered species by day and then sip bubbly in an open-air jacuzzi by night.
As a result, six new luxury yachts have debuted in the Galapagos in the last few months alone—with more coming. Two of the vessels—the over-the-top, 20-passenger M/V Origin and M/V Theory—are members of the prestigious, culinary-focused Relais & Chateaux collection. Also coming soon: the Celebrity Flora, whose 50 high-tech suites have such features as retractable, floor-to-ceiling windows. All are bookable by the cabin, rather than exclusively available for private charters.