Spain Charters Cruise Ship to House Police to Quell Catalans Seeking Independence

Spain has quitely chartered a cruise ship to be positioned at the Port of Barcelona as housing for thousands of riot police and security officers in order to try and suppress rebel Catalans who are seeking an independence referendum.

You can read about the dispute in Spain in a New York Times article As Catalonia Referendum Nears, Tensions Rise in Spain

According to Bloomberg Politics, Spain hired the the Rhapsody to house a portion of the 16,000 security forces in advance of the October 1st referendum passed by the Catalan Parliament but declared illegal by Rhapsody Spain’s highest court. The riot police are intended to try and control the pro-independence campaigners. 

Bloomberg writes that Spain is putting "more boots on the ground" near Barcelona in order to arrest local officials and raids regional-government offices prior to the referendum.

In addition to the Rhapsody which has a capacity of 2,448 people and can accomodate 700 vehicles, Spain is chartering two additional unnaned ferries to house the riot police. Not to be confused with the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas, the Rhapsody is a RoRo ("roll on - roll off) cruise-ferry operated by the Italian shipping company Grandi Navi Veloci SpA. 

Chartering cruise ships to provide housing is not particularly uncommon, at least where extra housing is needed following hurricanes or for special events such as the Olympics. But it seems highly unusual for cruise ship or ferry operators to agree to lease their ships as housing for riot police to be used in such a hotly disputed political and probably violent dispute.

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo credit: Grandi Navi Veloci 

September 22, 2017 Update: A photograph of the Rhapsody (bottom) at the port of Barcelona was posted today on Twitter, via @15MBcn_int.

September 26, 2017 UpdateBarcelona stevedores vote not to supply Spanish "police ships."

Rhapsody at the port of Barcelona

Celebrity Constellation Delayed in Barcelona

Celebrity ConstellationCelebrity Cruises passengers intending to depart yesterday on the Celebrity Constellation from Barcelona, Spain are stuck in that port for two days due to propulsion issues, even though the cruise ship just came out of dry dock.

During the recent two week dry dock, two new restaurants were constructed and certain suites were refurbished. The software on the ship which manages the turbines and propulsion systems was also upgraded. But shortly after departure from the dry dock facility in Marseilles, France, the Constellation experienced problems with her speed.

The Constellation was scheduled to sail to Monaco, (where the Grand Prix is occurring) and Villefranche. Instead, the cruise ship will sail Genoa and then resume her itinerary.

Popular cruise media sites are reporting that Celebrity promised to accommodate passengers and pay for meals while they stay in Barcelona over this Memorial day weekend as the Constellation is being repaired. Celebrity Cruises has also promised to provide onboard credit of an undisclosed amount for the missed ports. 

Celebrity posted a Facebook message yesterday which reads: "We  regret that we have had to delay the departure of Celebrity Constellation, due to depart on 26th May 2017 from Barcelona. Because we need to resolve an unforeseen technical challenge related to the software that manages the ship's propulsion, boarding for the cruise will be delayed by two days. Constellation will now depart Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, the 28th May."

Since that time, many Guests expressed frustration on social media due to the lack of updates from Celebrity. Many people asked why they could not simply board the ship and stay in their paid-for cabins rather than experience confusion and delay looking for hotel rooms ashore. One answer may be that the ship is experiencing limited electric power generated from her engines, or that the ship may have to shut down her power system in order to perform the necessary repairs. Either way, this raises the issue whether this is simply a minor problem with the software. 

Cruise line often characterize power losses and profusion problems like this as "technical issues." 

 Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Megadri - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Viking Sea Stuck in Barcelona

Viking Sea Power LossToday, I received a message that the Viking Sea was in Barcelona, Spain waiting for repairs to fix an unidentified engine problem. 

I received this message: "Don't know have you been informed about Viking Sea being stuck in Barcelona for more than 10 days, while all guests were disembark, almost same thing like Star last year in Talin . . . "

Online AIS shows the Viking ship at the port in Barcelona today after leaving the port of Barcelona last night heading (apparently toward its next port of call, Toulon) but then turning around and sailing back to Barcelona.

Viking has informed its guests that they are free to stay on the cruise ship until January 8, 2017.  The company is apparently assisting the passengers with excursions. The guests can leave the ship and catch earlier flights home although many seem inclined to enjoy their unexpected time in Barcelona. 

In August of this year, the Viking Sea lost power in Malta.

In August of 2015, the Viking Star lost power in an engine after leaving Tallinn and resulted in the cancellation of the cruise.

There is no indication whether future cruises will be affected nor is there any word regarding compensation to guests for the canceled cruise.  

 

Medevac from the Carnival Vista

Today, a passenger aboard the Carnival Vista notified me that there was a medevac from the cruise ship. The ship had previously left Barcelona for Gibraltar. 

The passenger who contacted me wishes to remain anonymous. He took photos and video of the medical rescue. 

There was no mention whether the passenger was ill or had been injured.