Feed on

P&O have announced that none of their ships will make any previously-announced calls at Argentine ports in 2013. Both Arcadia and Adonia were due to call at Argentine ports – Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia – during their soon-to-start Grand Voyages. The reason for the cancellations is that there have been demonstrations in these Argentine towns and cities over cruise ships that have also called at, or have planned to call at, the Falkland Islands. Particularly targeted have been ships that fly the red ensign, which would include ships registered in Bermuda, and this includes all of P&O’s and Princess’ ships. The results have been cancellations (by port authorities or other entities) of berthing arrangements, or significant delays in berthing. There have also been shoreside demonstrations – in one, a travel agency that sold cruises was damaged.

P&O’s statement (for which I haven’t found a direct link, but is quoted on other sites and from which I have copied it) reads:

“Over the past few months we have been working with the Foreign Commonwealth Office and our local agents to gain assurances from the Argentinian government that our ships will be allowed to call into their ports. We have been unable to gain these assurances and the risk of being refused entry or being delayed is too high.

“As a British cruise company we cannot allow ourselves to be the subject of any political dispute or put our customers and crew into any situation where their enjoyment may be compromised. With this in mind, we have had to take the difficult decision to remove all Argentinean ports of call from Arcadia and Adonia’s 2013 itineraries.”

It’s suggested that the reason for this is a form of economic warfare by Argentina against the islands. A high proportion of the islands’ income comes from tourism, and cruise ship calls make up a high proportion of that. Indeed, tourism, including cruise ship calls, may be the largest part of the islands income other than transfers of one sort or another from the UK government.

There is some reaction, both positive and negative, from passengers on the two cruises. One poster on a a well-known cruise forum asked what were their rights regarding the change in itinerary, and what would be their position if they cancelled? (Answers are, I think: a) none – the cruise line reserves the right to change and cancel itineraries if necessary, and b) they can cancel but they won’t get any money back at this late point – the two ships are departing in about three weeks’ time.) However, other passengers are taking the opposite view, with one poster saying they are “quite happy to not visit Argentina in the circumstances…”.

[Update: I understand that P&O have given the first poster a full refund, because of ‘numerous’ itinerary changes since they booked the grand voyage segment in October.]

As a slight aside, I see that Cunard’s 2013 world cruises/voyages (on all all three of their ships) aren’t going near South America, certainly not as far south as Argentina, so they aren’t involved in this at all. Similarly Fred Olsen’s long voyages in the New Year (on Balmoral and Black Watch) also avoid South America.

I’m sure that readers will be aware that there has been a very long-running dispute between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands which are British-owned and held. In 1982 there was a significant war between the two countries after Argentine troops occupied the islands; a British naval task force conveyed ground and air forces to the islands and re-took them after military action. Over 900 people were killed in the war, and a further 2,250 (approximately) were wounded. Of those killed 258 were British and 649 were Argentines. P&O’s ships Canberra and Norland played significant roles as transport and hospital ships. Following the war the Argentine military junta collapsed, and democratic rule was restored, and for a number of years relations between Argentina and the UK seemed to be cordial, although Argentina did not surrender their claim to the islands. Recently, however, the present Argentine leader, President Cristina Kirchner, has escalated the diplomatic campaign to assert Argentina’s claim to the islands. It’s suggested that in addition to territorial issues, the possibility of oil and other mineral extraction rights around the South Atlantic is a significant factor in this escalation of the dispute.

One Response to “P&O cancels calls at Argentina ports”

  1. […] wrote on Monday about the cancellation by P&O of calls at Argentine ports during Arcadia’s and Adonia’s world voyages in the New Year. There was some uncertainty […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: