Stranded Cruise Ship in Spanish Port Resumes Sailing After Resolving Passenger Visa Issues

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A cruise ship stuck in the northeastern Spanish port of Barcelona will be able to resume its route after a group of Bolivian passengers with visa problems were taken off the vessel on Thursday, authorities said.

The Spanish government said in a statement it had reached an agreement with MSC Cruises Company in which 69 Bolivian passengers were removed from the boat and taken to a transit zone in the port, but were not granted permission to enter Spanish territory.

The ship got stranded in Barcelona this week after the Bolivian passengers were not allowed to disembark because they lacked valid documents to enter the European border-free Schengen area, an ID-check-free travel zone comprising 29 European countries that Spain is part of.


Barcelona was intended to serve as the final stop for the travellers from Bolivia, but the ship had plans to progress to other nations.

The MSC Armony cruise ship, pictured docked on April 3, 2024, in Barcelona’s port, Spain. The ship was permitted to continue its journey after a group of Bolivian passengers with visa issues were removed from the ship on Thursday.

The cruise corporation agreed to send another ship from Livorno, Italy, to transport the Bolivian passengers later on Thursday, according to the statement from the government. There was ambiguity about whether this ship would remain in Barcelona till the situation is sorted out, or would escort the Bolivian travellers to a different reach.

Under the accord, MSC Cruises is set to provide food and medical necessities for the affected Bolivians, while visa issues will be attended to by immigration officials with urgency, according to sources.

The MSC Armonia, reportedly hosting over 1,000 passengers, is scheduled to set sail to Italy on Thursday, as per information from the cruise company.


Reports from The Associated Press on Wednesday informed that Solange Duarte, the Bolivian diplomat in Barcelona, has received information about certain stranded Bolivians being misled into acquiring fraudulent visas, but further details remain unknown.

“We have asked the families to indicate who has processed this visa and we have not gotten answers,” she said.

Spain’s national police were looking into the possibility of a fake visa scam, Duarte said.

MSC Cruises said in a statement Wednesday the Bolivian “passengers appeared to have proper documentation upon boarding in Brazil” but Spanish authorities later said the visas were not valid for entry into the Schengen area.

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