As a wave of violence enacted by drug gangs continues to sweep through Ecuador, at least one Galapagos cruise operator is pulling the plug on sailings in the archepelago for the immediate future.
Lindblad Expeditions has canceled the upcoming Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 departures of National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander II, respectively.
"The safety and security of our guests and team members in the region remains our top priority," said a spokesperson for the cruise line. "We are closely monitoring the situation in Ecuador and its impact on air travel in partnership with local authorities. Out of an abundance of caution and lack of clarity regarding operating flights, we have elected to cancel the upcoming… departures…"
Current expeditions on board both ships are continuing as planned, but the line has "implemented additional security precautions in the region."
Additionally, Lindblad is "working diligently to quickly and comfortably re-accommodate all traveling guests impacted by flight delays and cancellations in the region."
Celebrity Cruises, which also operates Galapagos sailings, has not made any changes at this time.
"The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority," a spokesperson told TMR. "Our global security teams are closely monitoring the evolving situation. Should any changes be necessary, impacted guests will be notified directly."
Ecoventura told TMR on Thursday that it had also not made any changes. "Plans are unlikely to be significantly affected and our Galapagos cruise is continuing to operate normally," it said.
"Hotels and ground handlers are implementing the utmost precautions to ensure the safety of Ecoventura clients in Guayaquil and taking precautionary logistical measures in the historical center of Quito," a spokesperson told TMR.
Several airlines canceled flights to Ecuador on Tuesday and are now offering waived change fees.
American is waiving change fees on flights to/through/from Quito and Guayaquil scheduled through Jan. 13. New flights must be booked by Jan. 13, 2024 for travel from Jan. 14 to 20, 2024, and must be in the same cabin (or pay the difference).
United is waiving change fees and fare differences for changes to flights to/from Quito scheduled for Jan. 9 to 16, 2024. Flights can be rescheduled for any time between Jan. 9 and Feb. 29, 2024. Tickets must be in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally booked.