Celebrity Galapagos Cruises In Limbo as Violence Escalates

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In the wake of escalating violence in Ecuador, Celebrity Cruises has issued an advisory for guests booked on Galapagos cruises aboard the Celebrity Flora, Celebrity Xploration, and Celebrity Xpedition.

This comes amid a backdrop of increasing unrest in the country, particularly in Guayaquil, where a state of emergency has been declared and the arrival point for guests sailing onboard one of the three cruise ships.

While cruises have not been cancelled at this time, Celebrity Cruises is advising guests to arrive in the country at most one day before their cruise sets sail. 

Celebrity Cruises Responds to Unrest in Ecuador

The escalating violence in Ecuador is having a serious impact on cruises sailing to the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity Cruises, which has three cruise ships sailing in the area, is monitoring the situation closely, and has, for now, decided to run the cruises as scheduled.

Celebrity Cruises sent a communication to guests and travel advisors on January 10, outlining the situation regarding their Galapagos cruise itineraries. The letter stresses that while cruises are not cancelled, guests can cancel their bookings with a full refund and have the opportunity for price protection on future voyages when they book a new cruise before 2025.

The company emphasized the importance of safety, advising guests to arrive in Ecuador no more than a day before their cruise. To assist, Celebrity Cruises will reimburse guests for any fees they incur for changing their inbound flights.

Celebrity Flora Cruise Ship
Celebrity Flora Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises says: “Due to the political unrest in Guayaquil, Ecuador that began Tuesday, January 9, 2024, a state of emergency has been declared by the Ecuadorian government. Though the airport remains open, in an abundance of caution and for your safety, we strongly recommend all guests arrive one day before our sailing.”

Guests aboard the Celebrity Flora for the January 14, 2024, sailing are advised to arrive no earlier than January 13, 2024. Guests onboard the Celebrity Xploration or Celebrity Xpedition sailings departing on January 13, 2024, are expected to arrive no earlier than Friday, January 12, 2024.

When they do arrive in Ecuador, guests will stay in the new Holiday Inn near the airport, which is part of their cruise package. The guests are requested not to leave the hotel until it is time to depart for the Galapagos Islands. Pre and post-cruise excursions in Ecuador have been suspended.

Celebrity Xploration Cruise Ship
Celebrity Xploration Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Todamo / Shutterstock)

“Any Celebrity pre or post-cruise packages in Ecuador will be cancelled and refunded, as these will no longer take place. For independently purchased pre- or post-cruise purchases, we recommend you cancel these and we will review refund requests,” Celebrity Cruises said in the letter. 

Also Read: Celebrity Cruises 2024 Galapagos Sailings Announced

To assist guests, Celebrity Cruises has arranged for a one-night pre-cruise stay at the Holiday Inn near the Guayaquil airport, a secure area designated by local authorities. The company’s team will meet guests at the airport and facilitate transfers to the hotel and subsequent flights to Baltra, from where they will embark on their cruise ships.

Escalating Violence in Ecuador

The current situation in Ecuador is complex and distressing. The country has experienced a significant escalation in violence due to the activities of narcotic gangs and the involvement of international cartels. 

President Daniel Noboa declared a state of “internal armed conflict” and imposed a nationwide state of emergency and nighttime curfew in response to these developments. 

The turmoil in Ecuador presents a challenging scenario for the tourism industry, particularly for cruise operations in the Galapagos. Celebrity Cruises, while prioritizing guest safety, is closely monitoring the situation. Should the situation deteriorate, or prove unsafe, the cruise line may still choose to cancel the cruises sailing this week, or other upcoming voyages.

At least one other cruise line operating in the area, Lindblad Expeditions, has cancelled two cruises in the region scheduled to sail on January 12 and 13.

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