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Cruise ship traps all 1,500 passengers on board over travel issue

Cruise ship traps all 1,500 passengers on board over travel issue

The holiday was stopped in its tracks for everyone

More than 1,500 passengers were left trapped on a cruise ship over travel issues as the ship docked in one of Europe's most popular cities.

The MSC Cruises vessel found itself stuck in the port of Barcelona over issues with some of its guests' rights to set foot on Spanish soil.

The ship itself, the MSC Armonia, had journeyed from Brazil and arrived in the Spanish city, where authorities were rushed to sort out the issue as quickly as possible.

But the vessel was forced to keep everyone on board as it arrived in the Mediterranean.

Pictures from the scene showed its passengers stood around their balconies and top deck as they looked out over the side of the grounded ship.

The issue concerned 69 Bolivian passengers who were not allowed to leave the MSC Armonia because they didn't have valid visas to enter the European border-free Schengen area.

Passengers trapped on cruise ship.
David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

This is a part of Europe with an ID-check-free travel zone comprising 29 European countries that Spain is part of.

Those from Bolivia, which included families and children, were to disembark from the cruise ship at Barcelona, with the vessel sailing on across the Med.

MSC Cruises said: "The passengers appeared to have proper documentation upon boarding in Brazil.

“We have been informed by the authorities that the visas are not valid for entry into the Schengen area. As a result, passengers have not been able to disembark in Barcelona, which was their final destination."

One passenger told the local press that she felt like a 'criminal in a prison' and was convinced her travel documents were all in order.

The situation is now being treated as a possible fake visa scam, according to Solange Duarte, a Bolivian diplomat in Barcelona.

The MSC Cruises vessel found itself stuck at port in Barcelona.
David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that the visas had cost up to $10,000 (£7,940) per person for all the Bolivians on board the cruise ship.

Since the issue came to light this week, the Bolivian passengers have been taken off of the MSC Armonia which has since set sail once again.

The cruise company has now agreed to provide another boat from Livorno in Italy for the Bolivian passengers, the Spanish government statement said.

The cruise ship has set sail once again.
David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

It is not clear if that boat would remain in Barcelona until the situation is resolved or take the Bolivian passengers elsewhere.

MSC Cruises will also provide food and healthcare for the impacted Bolivians and immigration officials will work to resolve the passengers’ visa problems as quickly as possible.

Featured Image Credit: David Zorrakino/Europa Press via Getty Images

Topics: Cruise Ship, Travel, Holiday, World News