It’s the cruise line that famously gives guests “an experience like no other” and this week, it has certainly lived up to its promise after the Celebrity Xpedition ran aground in the Galapagos, forcing 46 passengers and 58 crew members to be evacuated.
The cruise line’s parent company Royal Caribbean announced that while “no one was injured on the ship” they are still investigating how the Xpedition ran aground and stressed that the company has seen no signs of environmental impact.
“We are unaware of any environmental impact at this point but we will continue to check closely,” the company said in a social media statement.
According to local Ecuadoran newspaper El Universo, the ship ran aground at Vicente Roca Point, north of Isabela Island. Responding to an alert sent by the ship at 5.40pm, members of the Ecuadoran armed forces and officials of Galápagos National Park arrived to find the ship partially stranded on a sandbar.
Passengers were transferred to another Celebrity ship, the Flora, Royal Caribbean’s statement said. Flora is on its way to Baltra, where hotel accommodations and return flights home are being provided, the statement said.
The Xpedition’s hull was not damaged, and the ship was refloated with the help of three service boats, El Universo said. It will be towed to the Italbaca Canal, located between the Baltra and Santa Cruz islands, the newspaper reported.
All of the evacuated passengers will receive full refunds and full credits for future Celebrity cruises, Royal Caribbean said.
On Facebook, Ann Thomson MacKay wrote that she was supposed to board the Xpedition on Saturday but received an offer for a free upgrade to the Flora which sails on Sunday. “We’re pretty glad we took the upgrade,” she wrote.
Celebrity Cruises runs seven-night Galápagos cruises aboard three of its ships, the Xpedition, Flora and Xploration. The cruises depart from Baltra, Ecuador and fares can cost as much as $35,000 per person, depending on the ship and time of year.
One hundred and nine passengers had to be evacuated from Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride when the luxury ship hit rocks near Isla de Coiba, Panama in December 2015. All of the passengers received full refunds.
In June 2019, the passenger ship Galapagos Majestic ran aground on the northern coast of Santiago Island, breaching the hull in the bow area. Despite a six-hour salvage effort, the ship sank with two tons of fuel on board. All 26 passengers were rescued and no injuries were reported.