Celebrity Xpedition cruise ship (celebritycruises.com)

To every thing, there is a season.  And in Galápagos, there is a season for catching lobster.  Now, the 96-passenger cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition has had its license to operate in the islands suspended for 45 days because the Galápagos National Park said the ship was carrying out-of-season lobster tails.

Passengers who had booked travel on the June 2nd cruise got a rude surprise when they were told by the company that their trip had been canceled.  In a statement, Celebrity Cruises said:

“We will provide all guests with a full refund of the monies paid for their June 2 sailing of Celebrity Xpedition. We will also provide them with a 50% future cruise credit for another Celebrity Xpedition cruise. The credit is based on the amount they paid for your June 2 cruise and may be used for a future cruise on Celebrity Xpedition within the next two years. Future cruise certificates will be mailed to guest’s home address or travel agent within two to three weeks.”

Saying that it was “truly sorry for this unexpected impact on our guests’ vacation,” Celebrity also promised to refund airline fares purchased through the cruise company for air travel to Galápagos.

As for the lobster in question, Celebrity claims it was bought legally.

“It was purchased in the Galapagos from authorized sellers during the lobster season. We have all the paperwork to prove that. The issue was that we were in possession of frozen lobster tails out of season,” spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells USA TODAY.

Rosa León, a spokesperson for the Galápagos National Park told galapagosdigital.com that even if lobster is purchased during the legal season, it can be transported and stored only for five days after the season closes.  She said this regulation is to ensure that no out-of-season lobster is carried aboard cruise ships.

According to the blog cruiseindustrynews.com, the company is appealing the decision through the Ecuadorian court system.  In the meantime, the 296-foot long ship remains at anchor in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos.