Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Evacuated from Galapagos Cruise

January 5, 2014
(9:40 a.m., EST) -- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos cut short a New Year's cruise in the Galapagos Islands when he suffered pain from kidney stones and needed medical evacuation.

According to multiple news sources, port officials received a call for medical emergency on Jan. 1 from a cruise ship not too far from Santa Cruz Island. Doctors from the Ecuadorian navy examined Bezos, and ordered an airlift when they determined it was kidney stones, according to the Washington Post, a newspaper owned by Bezos.

A Bell 430 helicopter took the Seattle billionaire to the port of Santa Cruz first, and then transported him to nearby Baltra Island, where his private jet was waiting. Bezos flew back to the United States for treatment.

On Saturday, Amazon spokesman Drew Hardener told CNN that Bezos did not need surgery. “He got a good outcome….he's feeling well.”

The name of Bezos' ship hasn't been released. Fewer than 100 size-restricted ships are permitted to island-hop in the Galapagos, ranging from eight-passenger live-aboard dive boats to 100-passenger mega-yachts.

The biggest names in the region are Celebrity Cruises, which runs 98-passenger Celebrity Xpedition; Metropolitan Touring, which operates three boats, 40-passenger Isabella II, 48-passenger La Pinta and 90-passenger Santa Cruz; Lindblad Expeditions, which stations 48-passenger National Geographic Islander and 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavor in the region; and upscale line Silversea Cruises, which introduced the 100-passenger Silver Galapagos in fall 2013. The balance is smaller, privately owned and operated vessels typically carrying 10 to 20 passengers. Charters are also common.

In an email released to the media, Bezos remained chipper about the bucket list locale: “Galapagos: five stars. Kidney stones: zero stars.”

-- By Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor