Cruise ship caught up in latest tension over Falkland Islands

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Surely it couldn’t be the result of The Iron Lady reaching cinema screens, with Meryl Streep’s uncanny portrayal of Margaret Thatcher reminding the world of the Prime Minister who took Britain to war against Argentina in defence of the Falkland Islands.
And it is unlikely to be because Prince William will soon be on duty flying helicopters over the territory his uncle Andrew once fought for.
For whatever reason tension in the region is rising again. With the 30th anniversary of the 1982 conflict approaching, London and Buenos Aires are engaged in increasingly bitter exchanges. Prime Minister David Cameron accused Argentina of “colonialism” after a meeting of the National Security Council discussed the situation in the South Atlantic.
And on a visit to Brazil, Foreign Secretary William Hague declared: “We will always uphold UK sovereignty and the rights of the Islanders to self-determination, while valuing the ability to discuss these issues with Brazil in a framework that respects international law and human rights.”
Brazil is one of a bloc of countries, including Chile and Uruguay which have banned ships sailing under the Falklands flag from docking at their ports.
While all this talk is going on, a cruise ship was turned away from the island capital of Port Stanley, with some quick to suggest it was because there was a high number of Argentinians on board.
The official reason given was that some of the passengers on Star Princess were suffering from stomach flu.
Falklands government spokesman Darren Christie said it had to deny entry to the ship because some passengers had contagious norovirus, which the islands are ill-equipped to handle. The decision was made by the Falklands’ chief medical officer in consultation with a microbiologist in Britain, Christie said.
“An outbreak in the Falkland Islands would put enormous pressure on our limited medical resources, and jeopardize other scheduled cruise visits,” his statement said.
Princess Cruises said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the “totally unwarranted” and unscientific decision, which it said runs against international health policy.
“No Princess ship has ever been denied entry into a port based on incidences of ill passengers and crew on board,” said Julie Benson, the company’s vice president for public relations.
She said the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention,Britain’s Health Protection Agency and other international health organizations encourage ports to provide support to vessels arriving
with ill people.
A total of 74 passengers and crew, about two per cent of those on board, had been reported ill. The ship had planned to dock in Port Stanley in the middle of its 14-day South America cruise from Valparaiso, Chile and due to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday (January 21).
Argentina’s foreign ministry said the cruise ship complied with health regulations at its previous ports of call in Chile and Argentina and expressed the hope that the decision was not “only the latest hostile act against tourists of various nationalities, including Argentine citizens who have the simple desire and hope of getting to see the Malvinas Islands.”
But even that reference to Malvinas will be enough to raise temperatures in the Cabinet room – especially if Maggie Thatcher has a hotline to David Cameron.

By | 2012-01-19T23:14:14+00:00 19 January 2012|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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