Galapagos National Park

Cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition (photo: Galapagos National Park)

Celebrity Cruises in Miami has announced that because the Galápagos National Park has suspended the license of its 96 passenger vessel Celebrity Xpedition to sail in the islands, it is cancelling the June 9th cruise.

“We are in the process of contacting guests on the June 9 sailing to let them know,” said Cynthia Martinez, spokesperson for the cruise line.

The Celebrity Xpedition has had its license to operate in the islands suspended for 45 days after the Galápagos National Park accused the ship’s operators of carrying out-of-season lobster tails.

The story got international attention after Celebrity Cruises canceled the June 2nd trip to Galápagos. In a statement, the company 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,”  Cynthia Martinez told USA TODAY.

Rosa León, a spokesperson for the Galápagos National Park told 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.

But in court, the cruise line contended that the ship was inspected in March and that the park didn’t publish the latest regulations about out-of-season lobster until April. The retroactive application of the regulation now, the company argued, was unfair. The dispute continues to play out in the Ecuadorian court system.