A small expedition cruise company in the Galapagos called Ecoventura is all about authenticity and sustainability. And since they are a family-owned business based on the mainland in Guayaquil, Ecuador, their 'smallness' and headquarters proximity to the Galapagos gives them the vision, inspiration and flexibility to be a leader in the green movement.
Ecoventura emphasizes green cruising on their three yachts, the M/Y Eric, Flamingo, and the Letty. Each of these yachts can carry up to 20 passengers for one-week and two-week cruises through the Galapagos. What’s important to know is that their green emphasis is comprehensive of both the ship and the islands they visit. Here’s why they are leading the green pack:
1. Ecoventura offers the smallest naturalist guide-to-passenger ratio found in Galapagos by capping group size to no more than ten passengers per guide. This is in contrast to the average of 16 passengers per guide on most other Galapagos-cruising vessels.
2. Because of Ecoventura’s core commitment to ongoing sustainability and their fierce determination to protect the Galapagos natural ecosystem, they have invested almost $500,000 dollars to refurbishing their fleet to meet stringent standards.
3. Ecoventura was the first company to earn and maintain the voluntary ecological certification, SmartVoyager since 2000. This program was introduced by the Rainforest Alliance and CyD as a way to promote voluntary regulation with sustainable shipboard practices. (CYD Certified is an independent body responsible for audit, certification and training services on sustainability issues in the fields of agriculture, tourism and climate change, with inspection processes and certification being the main tool for the programs that it leads and represents).
In the process, Ecoventura offset carbon emissions from 2006 to 2011 while also reducing CO2 by 10 percent. This was achieved with the installation of solar panels and wind generators on the Eric, the first hybrid yacht in the Galapagos.
4. Already in compliance with most standards established by SmartVoyager certification, Ecoventura still focused on upgrading their practices. Here are some of the steps they took:
- Only lead-free and TBT-free paint is used.
- Only biodegradable soaps, detergents and shampoo are used.
- A waste disposal system that includes recycling has been adopted.
- Fresh water is produced on board with a desalinization plant.
- Four-stroke engines — which are 70 percent quieter, emit virtually no fumes, and use 50 percent less fuel — have replaced two-stroke outboard motors on dinghies.
- Black and gray wastewater is treated through aerobic decomposition. All residual water is filtered and purified with ozone before being discharged into the sea.
- All supplies are strictly managed to minimize the transport and/or introduction of foreign plant and animal species to the islands.
- The loading and storage of fuels are carefully managed to minimize the risk of spills or leaks.
- Employees receive such benefits as advanced training, improved living quarters for crew, and health care.
5. In the pursuit of environmental sustainability, the Ecuadorian-owned company also wants to make sure that local communities benefit from tourism – not just international conglomerations. With this emphasis on social responsibility, Ecoventura’s President Santiago Dunn partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2006 to support “environmental education and marine conservation by strengthening the local communities’ ability to manage natural resources.” This is now called the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund.
6. Through Ecology Project International, Ecoventura provides scholarships for local Galapagos teens to learn more about their special yet fragile environment through field courses.
7. In 2009, Ecoventura was the recipient of Travel+Leisure's Global Vision Award for Green Cruising and Conde Nast Traveler's 15th Annual World Saver Award in the category of Cruise Lines.
8. In 2014, Ecoventura was nominated for the prestigious Phoenix Award sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). “The Phoenix Award is SATW's highest recognition bestowed to individuals, businesses, organizations and communities who have demonstrated exceptional efforts in preserving, conserving, beautifying or protecting the historic, cultural and natural resources of an area. Established in 1969, the SATW Phoenix Awards was one of the first programs to acknowledge the importance of resource stewardship. These tangible results enhance the economic, socio-cultural heritage and/or environmental benefits to the destination and its value to travelers of today and tomorrow.“