A 16-passenger yacht ran aground near the town of Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz on Friday, April 24th, according to a press release issued by the Galapagos National Park. All 16 passengers and eight crew members were safely evacuated from the Tip Top II, though there are unconfirmed reports circulating that one person suffered a broken arm and another dislocated a shoulder. The vessel, which is owned and operated by Rolf Wittmer Tours, is currently stuck in the shallows near Tortuga Bay.
This is the first major accident involving a passenger vessel in the Galapagos Island in several years. Overall, the Galapagos cruise industry has a pretty solid safety record considering that at least 60 (and some times more than 80) passenger vessels are in operation at any given time and accidents are rare. Passenger boats in the Galapagos are required to meet stringent safety standards and have modern navigation equipment, including high resolution GPS monitors and depth indicators. No information has yet been released about the cause of the accident or whether or not there has been any damage to the environment as a result.
If you’re booked on the Tip Top II in next year or so, you should contact your tour operator or travel agent right away and make sure you’re taken care of.