(11:07 a.m. EDT) -- Celebrity Cruises has canceled the June 2 cruise of Celebrity Xpedition to the Galapagos because local authorities have temporarily suspended the ship's license to enter Galapagos National Park. The dispute is over the transportation of frozen lobster tails.
Passengers on the canceled cruise are being duly compensated. Celebrity is offering all passengers a full refund of their cruise fare, a cruise credit for a future Xpedition cruise within the next two years (equal to 50 percent of fare paid), a refund of any air transportation costs purchased through Celebrity's air department and a reimbursement for airline change fees for passengers who booked airfare independently.
The national park has revoked Celebrity's license over 12 kilograms of frozen lobster tails that the ship was transporting out of season. An official statement from Celebrity claims that the lobsters "were purchased legally during the season from local fishermen certified by the Park, and that no purchases of lobsters were made out of season." This was verified by park officials. However, a new regulation demands that all lobsters be consumed within five days of the end of season. However, on March 11, when the company was cited, Celebrity was not aware of the change; the regulation was not published until April 22.
Celebrity is appealing the $2,000 fine and suspension, but does not know yet when its license will be reinstated. The line will be contacting passengers on the June 9 sailing. (Cruise Critic member purrtriciacruise, who is booked on the June 9 sailing, posted a letter from her travel agent saying that "the Celebrity Expedition department ...[has] informed me Tuesday [June 3] is the latest they would release information regarding the sailing."
The line asserts that it "takes the environmental regulations throughout the world and in the Galapagos very seriously.... Celebrity Cruises is truly sorry for this unexpected impact on our guests' vacation. We understand their excitement and anticipation for exploring the Galapagos onboard Celebrity Xpedition. Celebrity Cruises is committed to complying with the rules and regulations of the Galapagos, which are put in place to protect and safeguard this unique and pristine environment."