Strike threatens cruises to the fjords

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Cruises to Norway could be threatened by a strike among pilot boat skippers if the industrial action which has disrupted visits to Oslo spreads to the rest of the country.
Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas was unable to dock in the Norwegian capital at the weekend, and passengers were instead embarked and disembarked at Gothenburg, Sweden, about 180 miles and three-and-a-half hours away by coach.
Yesterday, Holland America’s Rotterdam diverted to Sandefjord, about 76 miles away. Shuttle buses took passengers into Oslo and other excursions operated with minor inconvenience.
Star Flyer and Emerald Princess were both turned away from Oslo last week. The 42 Oslo pilots are affected by a wider strike among public employees which began on May 24 when talks over a pay demand collapsed. Negotiations were expected to re-start today and if there is no solution, 130 pilot boat skippers throughout the country may be called out from tomorrow (May 30).
Because of the rocky coast, with its deep fjords and narrow straits, pilots are required on board all cruise ships visiting the region – and with the arrival of the midnight sun in Arctic waters the season is now getting into full swing.
Only Hurtigruten ships, whose captains ply the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes week in and week out, are exempt from the pilotage regulations.
Ships from P&O, Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Princess, MSC and Costa are all operating in Norwegian waters this week. Fred Olsen’s Balmoral leaves Southampton today for an eight-night cruise scheduled to visit Bergen, Flåm, Olden, Eidfjord and Stavanger.
A Fred Olsen spokesperson said, optimistically: “If industrial action does spread to other ports in Norway, it may be necessary for us to change the order of ports of call on an itinerary, or visit another port close to the original, so that our guests can still enjoy the planned excursions.”
It’s not just cruise ships that are affected. The country’s petrol supplies are threatened because oil rig support vessels and tankers have been prevented from entering or leaving Oslofjord. Eight in-bound ships and 15 out-going ships are currently stranded.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:49+00:00 29 May 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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