Port Clears Cruise Ship to Leave After Identifying 69 Fake Visas

The cruise ship MSC Armonia was detained by Barcelona authorities for two days on suspicion of having fake visas.

MSC Armonia cruise ship
MSC Armonia

The ship was carrying 69 Bolivian guests who had Schengen visas, which allow access to countries within the European Union, including Spain. However, these visas weren’t valid and were falsified documents.

Finally, after an investigation by immigration officials, the ship was allowed to depart on Thursday.

MSC Ship was Stuck in Barcelona

(Image via Cruisemapper.com)

The ship had departed Brazil on a voyage calling at several Mediterranean ports. The Bolivian nationals have been detained, and immigration officials have investigated whether the cruise line was negligent.

Diplomatic discussions occurred over the past day between the Bolivian Embassy in Madrid and Spanish government officials.

MSC Cruises responded, saying visa documentation was checked on embarkation in Brazil and appeared to comply with European rules.

Next Voyage Cancelled Last Minute

A balcony overlooking the ocean at dusk in Spain's Drought Emergency.

The authorities finally cleared MSC Armonia to depart Barcelona on Thursday morning, but not before MSC Cruises canceled the next sailing, which was scheduled to depart from Civitavecchia, Italy today, April 4. Passengers booked on this cruise were informed yesterday by email.

“We regret to inform you that we have canceled your cruise as the ship is currently blocked in Barcelona due to an immigration issue.” it wrote.

Guests will be fully refunded and receive a 50% future cruise credit.

The family of one of the detained Bolivians suggested it was likely the fault of the travel company that issued the visas. It is still unclear what MSC Armonia’s current course will be as its remaining cruise calls on the current delayed sailing and the following voyage were formally canceled.

A guest scheduled to sail on MSC Armonia from Rome on Thursday told Cruise Radio he received news of the cancellation while already in Italy, and now has to make his way back to the United Kingdom.

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