Worst timing ever? Kontiki Expeditions, a new cruise line, plans to launch later this year

Jun 27, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Even as most established cruise lines around the world remain mired in a global halt to operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a new cruise company hoping to start up by the end of the year.

To be called Kontiki Expeditions, the just-announced brand plans to specialize in voyages on intimate, yacht-like vessels that will hold just 18 passengers a piece.

The idea sounds great. The timing? We’re not so sure.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter

Designed to offer trips to off-the-beaten-path places that only can be accessed by very small ships and yachts, Kontiki Expeditions is being billed as a “new concept in luxury ocean vacations focusing on conscious travel and immersive experiences.”

The company’s initial vessel will be 128 feet long and feature nine suites, a sun deck, a gourmet salon, two outdoor lounges, bar, Jacuzzi, spa treatment room and fitness area. To be called Kontiki, it’s scheduled to debut in December with sailings on two itineraries along the little-visited coast of Ecuador.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles 

An artist's drawing of the 18-passenger Kontiki. (Image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions)
An artist’s drawing of the 18-passenger Kontiki. (Image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions)

The two initial itineraries will be one-way routes between Mompiche in the north of the country and Mompala in the south. They’ll offer a chance to explore small Ecuadorian towns, historic sites and nature areas full of wildlife while traveling in an upscale vessel with a wellness focus.

“We are pioneers in offering luxury sea expeditions along seldom-traveled routes,” the founder and CEO of Kontiki Expeditions, Carlos Nuñez, said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “Our new expeditions reveal the beauty and authenticity of coastal Ecuador, passing through small, uncrowded towns and historical sites; forests and wetlands; pristine beaches; and protected ecological reserves.”

The new ship will sail with wellness professionals, naturalist guides and a local chef. There will be 10 crew members in total as well as two local experts.

Related: When will cruise ships resume sailing? A line-by-line guide 

An artist's drawing shows the Jacuzzi area planned for the new 18-passenger Kontiki. (Image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions)
An artist’s drawing shows the Jacuzzi area planned for the new 18-passenger Kontiki. (Image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions)

The vessel will carry kayaks, paddle boards and snorkeling equipment for passenger use. Diving also will be an option.

Nuñez said a fundamental part of the Kontiki program would be to support the communities its vessels visit.

During initial sailings in Ecuador, passengers can expect to see such wildlife as blue-footed boobies, sea lions and howler monkeys, the company said. A focus on cuisine will include the incorporation of local seafood and produce on board and on land as well as tastings of local chocolate.

An artist’s drawing of one of the nine suites planned for new vessel. (Image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions)

The company said it would implement measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus such as temperature screenings for passengers and enhanced cleaning. Crew will wear masks and gloves when serving meals, and meal times will be staggered.

While most cruise lines around the world have halted all operations, a handful of small ships in Europe — mostly river ships — have just begun resuming voyages on a very limited basis. Industry watchers say small vessels that focus on single-country itineraries may have an easier time restarting operations than bigger ships with itineraries that include multiple countries.

In part, this is because small vessels offer a sort of small-group travel that’s easier to manage in an era of social distancing than the mass tourism of big ships. The typical river ship in Europe, for instance, has fewer than 100 cabins. It essentially operates as a small boutique hotel — albeit one that happens to move from town to town. Touring always is in small groups or on an individual basis. Onboard spaces rarely are crowded.

Fares for the new Kontiki Expeditions sailings start at $7,245 per person per week, based on double occupancy, and include all activities, meals, and transfers to and from ports. Solo traveler rates and private charter rates are also available.

More information on Kontiki Expeditions is available online at the company’s website.

Planning a cruise for when sailings resume? These stories can help: 

Featured image courtesy of Kontiki Expeditions

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.