Read in Catalan

The 69 Bolivian cruise passengers retained in the Port of Barcelona on board the MSC Armonía since Tuesday morning for not having a valid visa to enter the Schengen area have disembarked in a transit area of the port this Thursday morning, after the Spanish government and the company reached an agreement so that the cruise could continue its route. As reported by the Spanish government delegation in Catalonia, MSC has made available a second ship, coming from Livorno (Italy), so that the group of Bolivians could re-embark and have a space to start deportation procedures, which will be carried out as a matter of urgency.

Previously, at 6am this Thursday, 275 Brazilian passengers from the cruise ship, which began its voyage in Rio de Janeiro, also disembarked in Barcelona in order not to miss their return flight to Brazil. As reported by the company, the ship was to leave Barcelona at midday and arrive in Venice on Monday. Up to 1,500 cruise passengers were on board, including the 69 Bolivians, of whom 14 were minors. In the first stop they made in Spanish territory, specifically at the Canary Island port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, they were able to disembark without problems, but the situation changed when they arrived in the Catalan capital.

Victims of a scam

The Bolivian authorities expressed their regret that the predicament in which their citizens found themselves was the fault of the MSC company, for having allowed them to embark in Brazil without making the necessary checks on whether their documentation met the requirements to enter Spain. For this reason, the South American country's foreign ministry demanded that the cruise company find a solution for the 69 passengers. Meanwhile, family members of the Bolivian passengers, who were expecting to meet them in Barcelona, have told the press that their relatives have been victims of a scam and that the agency that sold them the trip charged them about 10,000 dollars, including the visa that supposedly allowed them free movement as tourists in the Schengen area. Experts quoted by Spanish public television suggested that the responsibility for repatriating the 69 Bolivians lies with the cruise company.

EuropaPress 5864321 dos familiares pasajeros buque msc armonia retenido puerto barcelona abril
Two relatives of passengers of the MSC Armonía cruise ship waiting in the port of Barcelona / EuropaPress

Yesterday, some reports indicated that planes could be chartered to repatriate the Bolivian travellers so that the rest of the cruise passengers could continue their journey, which is to take them to Croatia. Finally, it was decided to have them disembark so that the cruise passengers without a visa could be transferred to another ship, allowing the rest of the travellers to continue their journey through the Mediterranean.