Steady maneuvering in rocky waters with Azimuth propulsion

The Galápagos Islands is one of the world’s most spectacular places. When Celebrity Cruises set out to build the first cruise ship specifically for cruising in the Galápagos Islands, they turned to Steerprop to get a propulsion system worthy of this magnificent place.

The Galápagos Islands is the archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean about 900 km west of continental Equador, where Charles Darwin identified a large number of endemic species contributing to the theory of evolution. The islands have fascinated mankind ever since, and is annually visited by up to 300 000 scientists and tourists from around the world. Visiting the islands, being home to many plant and animal species found nowhere else, is a delicate affair where you have to take extra care not to disturb the sensitive wildlife, both on land and at sea.

Experiencing the islands from a cruise ship is popular, and Celebrity Cruises, the new luxury line within the Royal Caribbean Group, has brought tourists to the Galápagos Islands for more than 15 years. When Celebrity ordered Celebrity Flora, it was the first ship ever to be specifically designed to cruise in the Galapagos Islands. Intent on combining eco-tourism with luxury travel, the 100-passenger yacht, delivered in June 2019, features an innovative outward-facing concept designed to ensure that passengers can fully emerge in the unique scenery during the sailing. The propulsion system was also sought to be state-of-the art: navigating the rocky shores of the Galápagos requires swift maneuvering. You also want to avoid using an anchor to keep disturbances on the delicate ocean floor to a minimum. Silence is also a requirement, not necessarily so much for the guests’ comfort as that for the precious marine life’s.

But regard for the safety of guests and the crew is naturally the number one priority for any ship owner or operator. Precise maneuvering and instant power is needed to avoid collisions or groundings.

“Azimuth propulsion enables us to achieve the required degree of safety standards”, says Vesa Uuttu, Director of Newbuild & Innovation at Royal Caribbean Group and the Project Manager at the shipbuilder De Hoop.

Steerprop’s delivery included two SP 20 CRP azimuthing propulsors with a maximum power of 1,250 kW along with Steerprop Care condition monitoring system.

“Azimuth thrusters can be accelerated fast in any direction and you can use as much power as required. Each maneuver becomes smooth and efficient, which is important in the specific conditions surrounding the Galápagos area”, says Vladimir Armas, Celebrity Flora’s captain.

Vladimir Armas, the captain of Celebrity Flora
"The specific conditions surrounding the Galápagos area requires efficient maneuvering", says captain Vladimir Armas.

Dynamic positioning

The Azimuthing propulsion enables dynamic positioning, that is, computer-controlled systems that automatically maintain a vessel’s position using its own propellers and thrusters. No need for anchoring, which is important in the sensitive ocean floor around the Galápagos islands.

“The azimuth thruster enables a very precise control of the electric motors. My experience with Steerprop’s azimuth propulsion is that it’s completely different compared to a classic propulsion system. The ship becomes easier to maneuver and allows you to do more precise approaches. It totally enhances the sailing experience”, says Armas.

The propulsion power is divided between the two propellers and hence the load on each blade and the speed of rotation is more efficient compared to the blades of a propulsion unit fitted with a single pulling propeller. The propulsion system can be monitored in real-time throughout sailing.

“We monitor the propulsion system in terms of efficiency, power consumption and working load. Monitoring the propulsion becomes easier with all sensors connected to user-friendly displays. All you need to do is to take a quick look and continue with safe navigation”, says second officer Luis Valencia.

From the cruise operator’s perspective – in this case Celebrity Cruises - another advantage of the Steerprop propulsion system is that the use of space is more efficient. All the services required for the propulsor during operation are located within the propulsion room.

Condition monitoring included

Steerprop Care condition monitoring system was also included in the delivery. The online monitoring comes with a lot of benefits.

“We can maintain updated information on the status of the oil which helps us anticipate and correct any situation that might arise in time. If there is something off with the oil condition of the operation of the Steerprop Azimuts, we do not have to wait for a laboratory result along with an unexpected service maintenance”, says Chief Engineer Evangelos Miskedakis.

Evangelos Miskedakis, the Chief Engineer of Celebrity Flora
Chief Engineer Evangelos Miskedakis is able to monitor the propulsion system in real time.

Steerprop supplies the crew with a monthly report on the condition of the propulsors and the Controls Systems advanced connectivity allows Steerprop's technicians to assist the crew remotely without the need to travel onboard, thus saving time and money.

Vesa Uuttu from the Royal Caribbean Group has been pleased with the collaboration with Steerprop.

“I am very happy with the end result and grateful for the support we have received from Steerprop. Our second guest experience report gave full 100 points, which indicates that the guests are comfortable onboard.”

How is that for smooth sailing?

Quick Facts

Vessel type: Expedition Mega Yacht

LR 100A1

Built by: Shipyard De Hoop
Owner: Celebrity Cruises
Main propulsion: 2 x SP 20 CRP
Power per unit: 1,250 kW


Watch a video about the Celebrity Flora on Celebrity Cruises YouTube channel.

More information about Steerprop CRP solutions.