Argentinean protests have led two luxury vessels to cancel calls on the Falkland Islands in order to prevent maritime accidents. The vessels, the Seven Seas Mariner and Oceania Cruise’s Regatta, owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings, cancelled their February visits to the British territory.
According to John Pollard, Managing Director of Sulivan Shipping Services, agents for the Prestige Cruise group, the decision, he believes, was taken following increasingly aggressive tactics by Argentinean nationalists. The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), however, wasn’t too thrilled about the cancellations.
“We are deeply concerned to learn that these cruise ships have cancelled their upcoming visits to the Falkland Islands following intimidation from factions in Argentina,” said an FCO spokesperson.
The cancellations follow militant action by Buenos Aires port workers last Wednesday, which prevented another luxury cruise ship, Seabourn Sojourn, from setting sail for the Falklands. The vessel was delayed for seven hours as United Maritime Workers Union leaders unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a pledge from the captain not to cal on the Falklands.
Mike Summers, Chairman of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board, was also upset regarding the cancelled cruise ship visits and said the Prestige group had demonstrated “a disturbing lack of backbone” by caving “to Argentine pressure.”
“This type of bullying by a large aggressive neighbour against a small innocent community is despicable, and deserves to attract worldwide condemnation,” said Summers.
Since cruise ship stops are estimated to be worth at least £10 million to the Falklands’ economy, the cancelled stops will affect several of the island’s small businesses. Locals fear that other cruise ships will soon cancel their calls as well.
Britain summoned Argentina’s ambassador Alicia Castro to London last week after masked men attacked the offices of a shipping company in Buenos Aires, which the Foreign Office alleges was done to deter ships from visiting the Falklands. After the attack, two Carnival Corporation cruise ships cancelled their scheduled trips to the island.
In a statement, the Foreign Office said, “We will take every necessary measure to support the Falkland Islanders.”
The protests are in response to the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war. The Falklands belonged to Argentina at one point but after going to war, Argentina surrendered to Britain and the UK has had control of the Falklands since 1982. The cruise lines have made a correct call when it comes to cancelling the port visits. Placing passenger and crewmembers at risk for accidents during the protests could lead to severe injuries or even fatalities, which the lines may be held accountable for.
Photo Credit: telegraph.co.uk