Forty-six passengers and 58 crew members had to be evacuated Tuesday night from Celebrity Cruises’ ship the Celebrity Xpedition after it ran aground in the Galápagos.
Miami-based Royal Caribbean, the cruise line’s parent company, said in a statement Wednesday morning that no one was injured on the ship that Forbes.com called “the most luxurious way to explore" the famed archipelago off Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean.
According to the 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 5:40 p.m., 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.
All of the evacuated passengers will receive full refunds and full credits for future Celebrity cruises, Royal Caribbean 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.
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. “Were 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, according to the travel booking site, Orbitz.com. The cruises depart from Baltra, Ecuador and fares range from $3,999 to $24,099 a person, depending on the ship and time of year.
Cruise ships run aground infrequently around the world. The most notorious event in recent history occurred when Carnival Cruise Lines’ Costa Concordia struck a rock and then capsized off the coast of Italy in January 2012. Thirty-two people were killed.
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, according to the website cruiselawnews.com. 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, maritimebulletin.net reported. 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.