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Tourists in cruise nightmare as 1,500 passengers stranded on ship


Around 1,500 passengers on a luxury cruise found themselves stranded on board their vessel in the port of Barcelona on Tuesday, when Spanish border officials prevented 69 Bolivian nationals from entering the country.

They were denied entry over allegedly travelling on false visas. Officials only discovered this, according to police sources who spoke to Spanish journalists, after the MSC Armonia had disembarked from Brazil, heading for Europe.

Despite the claim only being made against Bolivian nationals, none of the passengers were permitted to leave the cruise ship on Tuesday.

Rafael Kondlatsch, a 40-year-old Brazilian journalist who was aboard, told Spanish outlet El Pais: “We are prisoners here, together with the Bolivians.”

He added: “They are not giving us any information, they just told us that there was an immigration issue.”

According to Olive Press, dozens of police vehicles met the ship when it arrived in the port of Barcelona.

On Wednesday, the passengers were informed via the intercom system that a chartered flight to Rome was being organised for those that wished to take it. The Bolivians however, could not leave.

The occupants of the cruise were also told that they could leave the ship as they pleased, but they needed to take their passports with them and get back to the boat before 2am on Thursday, according to El Pais.

Spanish authorities are reported to have said that MSC should take responsibility for returning the 69 Bolivians back to South America.

According to a statement from the company, it is working with Spanish officials “to manage the situation with a number of passengers from Bolivia, including families and children, who are travelling with invalid documentation”.

Despite the efforts of the company, the delay has wrecked the holiday of some on board the ship.

Leonor Garcia, 66, told El Pais: “We are locked in, we can’t leave, nor complain, or anything.”

She added: “They must give us a solution, or at least a free cruise.”

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