At Metropolitan Touring, we are proud of our legacy as the pioneers of cruise travel in the Galapagos archipelago. This legacy has now inspired us to undertake two big endeavours that fill us with pride while challenging us to continue improving and innovating every day.
In the past, our social responsibility focus has enabled us to establish an ongoing and sustainable process of waste management in the archipelago. We are proud of this achievement, particularly because, together with the local Municipality, the community quickly learned and adapted themselves from being mere participants of an environmental initiative into playing a key role in sustainable thinking. We feel extremely honoured to have passed on the full responsibility to the local Municipal Government of Santa Cruz Island. Waste management principles of the Galapagos Islands have now been widely referred as examples of best practices in a fragile environment.
In 2015, we set a new course for our corporate responsibility mission, and focused on broadening the education of children in Ecuador, by providing them with a deeper and wider understanding of the country they live in, through experiential activities. We believe that contributions at this level, allow the future adults of Ecuador to have better grounding on their surroundings, so the decisions they make are entirely based on proper knowledge of the location where they live.
Thus, we decided to actively work in two education projects for children:
First of all, and considering that on October 10th, 2015, the Santa Cruz II started operating in the Galapagos Islands, and that the former MV Santa Cruz would have to leave the islands, we decided to launch an educational initiative called “Legacy of the M/V Santa Cruz for the Galapagos Islands”.
The M/V Santa Cruz began operations in 1979. It was the first vessel custom-built for expeditions in the Galapagos, and it set new standards for exploration of the islands: versatile, flexible and fun, with a crew whose deep sense of service never faded. It proudly sailed for 36 years.
With such background and reputation, we chose to thank the community by celebrating with them the enduring legacy of the M/V Santa Cruz…and we did it! We invited 210 resident children from the Galapagos to embark on voyages of discovery, giving them the opportunity to enjoy the islands as regular visitors, to see the beauty of the archipelago and learn more about its uniqueness. We hope this greater understanding of their islands will give each one a better appreciation of how to protect and respect their heritage.
For these young explorers we organized three 4-night cruises on board M/V Santa Cruz which started on October 11th. Our staff and crew reported how much fun they had on this legacy voyage; they explored the islands, snorkelled with sea lions and myriads of tropical fish, jumped off the top deck, saw plenty of marine iguanas, and got to experience what it is like to explore the islands on board an expedition vessel, and with expert guidance from Naturalist Guides. For most kids, this was their first trip ever out in the diverse islands of the National Park…their first look at the amazing features that makes Galapagos so famous. Now, they understand better why explorers from all over the world dream of coming here.
Our goal is that this journey changes their lives, their vision, and even their feelings about where they live. We hope they will fall in love even more with their islands, but now in engaging ways that foster a sense of ownership, a sense of pride, and a sense of deep commitment. They are the future ambassadors of the Galapagos Islands!
Following the same theme of educating the Ecuadorian children, our second project is to support the efforts of Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism for their campaign Viaja Primero Ecuador (“Travel First in Ecuador”). On October 6, 2015, the former Minister of Tourism, Sandra Naranjo, launched the “Xpedición Ecuador” project, where a total of 400,000 collectible sticker albums and 4 million sticker packets, will be distributed among schools in urban areas of Ecuador. The main goal of this project is to motivate children from ages 7-12 to get to know our country better, and in a fun ludic way. This initiative hopes to turn them into passionate hosts of Ecuador. The 36-page album has 212 stickers showcasing the 4 natural regions: The Andes, the Galapagos, the Pacific Coast and the Amazon, together with their flora and fauna. Once an album and its collectible stickers is completed, several prizes will be awarded via drawing, including our donation of twelve Galapagos cruise expeditions on board Santa Cruz II.
We believe that by encouraging future generations to understand, love, respect, and protect our country; we are sowing the seeds that will sprout into genuine hosts of Ecuador. They will be passionate about their roots, their culture, their heritage, and their integrity.
This is our legacy: future generations deeply committed to our country, and certainly ready to contribute in positive leadership for our World!