Visa Debacle Strands 1,500 Passengers on Cruise Ship in Port

Visa Debacle Strands 1,500 Passengers on Cruise Ship in Port
  • PublishedApril 5, 2024

A cruise ship docked in Spain has been compelled to keep all 1,500 passengers aboard due to a failure by a Bolivian group to procure the appropriate visa documents for entry into the Schengen area, where border controls are typically relaxed.

Reports indicate that the MSC Armonia cruise ship remains detained in Barcelona as authorities work to address the situation. The predicament, which involves 69 Bolivian passengers, is hindering the ship’s ability to resume its journey until the issue is resolved.

The voyage, originating from Brazil, is intended to cover a route through the Mediterranean Sea, with the affected 69 Bolivians comprising families and children.

Initially, MSC Cruises stated that they believed the visa documentation was in order and met the necessary travel requirements. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that the visas were deemed “not valid” for entry.

“The passengers presented what seemed to be appropriate documentation when boarding in Brazil,” the statement stated.

“We’ve been notified by the authorities that the visas do not meet the requirements for entry into the Schengen area. Consequently, passengers have been unable to disembark in Barcelona, their intended final destination.”

A Bolivian passenger, speaking anonymously to local media, expressed feeling like “a criminal in a prison,” despite being assured by a travel agency that her visa was accurate and valid for travel. Family members of the Bolivian travelers on the cruise ship shared with Spanish media that the 69 passengers had fallen victim to a scam.

As reported by Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, an agency in South America purportedly offered the visas online, charging as much as $10,000 per person. The ship is expected to remain in port as it collaborates with authorities while the investigation unfolds.

Image Credits- MSC Cruise Ship

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