Via Natura has sustainability at its core considering the huge responsibility we have as cruise operators in a fragile and pristine ecosystem that is the Galapagos Islands. Moreover, we have a special commitment to showing guests from around the world the human side of the Galapagos and how we can support them so that they keep being a pillar to the preservation of the archipelago. Much is said about the amazing wildlife of the islands, but little is mentioned about the life of the colonists and how they have endured in remote isolation from the rest of the world.

Not only will Hermes Mega Catamaran set the future of luxury cruising in the Galapagos, but it will also be the vehicle to further Via Natura’s vision of conservation and sustainability for cruise operations in the islands. To be more specific, below are some of the initiatives that we are going to implement aboard our new luxury vessel:

Food Waste Reduction: High-end cruises in Galapagos offer buffet meals, but Via Natura will offer served-dish gastronomic experiences for all meals aboard Hermes Mega Catamaran. This measure enables us to attain one main goal: reduce food waste aboard by approximately 30%. This will in turn help us better protect marine life in the Galapagos. This simple decision has a large impact on our cruise CO2 footprint.

Water Treatment Plants: Hermes will have its own water treatment plants where all dark and gray waters will be treated in our purification plants prior to discharge them in open seas according to international maritime conventions.

Local Community Support: In contrast with the majority of the Galapagos cruise fleet, Via Natura will continue to source the majority of our food supplies from local stores and from the local community as we have been doing for the past 18 years. In this manner, we keep contributing to the local economy and its development. Furthermore, we are going to hire all qualified naturalist guides from the local community, helping dynamize the economy. Finally, we will continue our visits to locally owned Coffee Farms in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island so that our guests can understand how this crop became the economic support for the islanders when they first arrived in the islands.

Preserve and promote Ecuadorian Culture: Some travelers are not aware that the Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador, and they miss the chance to discover our beautiful country and its culture. We want Hermes Mega Catamaran’s guests to learn about our culture and gastronomy. To that end, we are going to partner with a renowned Ecuadorian Chef to offer a menu combining local and international cuisine. In addition, we are going to offer travelers the opportunity to discover our culture with their own hands through our cooking experiences aboard. We expect to spark curiosity about Ecuador in this manner and hope travelers will come back and explore Ecuador in the future. Our partners, Kontiki, and the complete Ecuadorian tourism industry and society will benefit from this.

Single-Use Plastic Reduction: We are doing everything possible to eliminate the use of single-use plastic aboard Hermes Mega Catamaran. We are going to provide reusable water bottles to all guests aboard our vessel (for free) and they will be able to refill in our water dispenser stations. They can keep them after the cruise and use them throughout their visit in Ecuador. In this manner, we do not only contribute to the reduction of plastic use in the Galapagos Islands but also to any other destination our guests travel to after the cruise.

Environmentally friendly amenities: We are looking for a luxury brand of amenities that can provide us with environmentally friendly products. Some luxury suppliers use a lot of plastic bags and packaging that is not necessary. We want to find a partner who aligns with our vision and can work with us using dispensers that avoid waste. In addition, we are going to require them to supply us with colorless biodegradable products as these have less impact on the environment.

Endemic Scalescia Reforestation Program: Via Natura is developing its very own reforestation program in Puerto Ayora. Our company acquired 9 hectares of private land adjacent to National Park territory some years ago for this endeavour. All bookings aboard Hermes Mega Catamaran will contribute to the development of this program. Indeed, we want guests to witness their contribution to the environment through this project as well. Consequently, we are going to include a visit to the project for guests interested in planting their own tree or just visiting the project. We decided to plant Scalescia, an endemic and unique tree of the archipelago, due to its importance for Galapagos’ environment: creating a thick canopy that shades the lower forest levels from heat, light, and heavy rainfall, protecting the soil from erosion. Scalesia forests provide shelter to the famous Galapagos Tortoise, the Galapagos Dove and the Darwin Finches