In the Galápagos, Silversea Leads an Environmental Conservation Initiative

In the Galápagos, one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, travel companies that offer cruise and land experiences have long adhered to sustainable practices and conservation efforts that are more strenuous than at most travel destinations.

In June 2023, Silversea became the first cruise line to receive certification in environmental management for its new initiative to divert all refuse from San Cristóbal’s landfill. Its staff and crew from Silver Origin devised a system for transporting all but organic waste to the Ecuadorian mainland.

“We need to take care of the islands,” says Gabriela Naranjo, vice president and general manager of Silversea Cruises Ecuador. In fact, the need to continually refine efforts, from education to garbage removal, are always top of mind for Silversea, she tells us.

“If you understand how pristine and fragile are the Galápagos — it´s important to know that most of the inhabitants of the populated island depend on tourism — you’ll appreciate this: If tourism is not responsible, it will affect the delicate ecosystem, therefore directly affecting the economy of each island,” says Gabriela, who shepherded this new effort while maintaining existing conservation and environmental initiatives.

How the initiative works

Gabriela, who was the director of hotel operations for Silversea’s Silver Origin before her promotion to general manager, tells us the team in Ecuador began laying out plans to upgrade procedures for disposing of garbage and recyclables in 2020. It’s aimed at leaving zero waste in the one landfill in San Cristobal that it can use.

“We have always classified garbage on board, in which crew classify and sort all waste generated aboard Silver Origin before transporting everything but organic material to the mainland,” she says, “where it is recycled, processed or incinerated. What’s different is that Silversea is the first operator to divert all waste from landfill disposal.

“We are very proud to become the first cruise line to gain this certification in environmental management — a representation of our long-term commitment to sustainability and conservation in the Galápagos Islands,” says Gabriella.

Silver Origin in the Galápagos

This is all in line with regulatory procedures established by the Ministry of Environment. Indeed, this initiative is just one example of how Silversea is working to safeguard the fragile ecosystem of the Galápagos, including its famous blue-footed boobies, for future generations.

Other important efforts to conserve

Silversea’s commitment to the Galápagos’ conservation and the environment expands beyond waste removal. The Silversea Fund for the Galápagos, created in 2019, supports education and conservation projects in the islands. It’s funded by passenger donations, and Silversea matches guest contributions in the form of a future cruise credit.

Home grown Ecuadorian fruits are part of Silversea’s culinary arts

And in another localizing effort that is close to the heart of Ecuadorean native Naranjo, Silver Origin, which carries just 100 guests, has worked closely with independent farms and suppliers on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal to source produce and other products locally. This, she says, is important because buying local fruits and vegetables means there’s no risk that pests from other countries can get into the islands and disrupt the fragile ecosystem.

Check out our series on Discover that showcases Silversea’s efforts to promote sustainability and conservation in the Galápagos. Stories include Sustainability in the Galápagos: Fostering Conservation Through Generations;  Sustainability in the Galápagos: Local Products are a Chef’s Dream; Sustainability in the Galápagos: Education is the Key to Conservation; and Sustainability in the Galápagos: On a Farm, Coffee and Giant Tortoises Live in Harmony.

Curious about the Galápagos and its unique flora and fauna? These Silver Origin cruises can take you there.