Disabled cruise ship arrives in Seychelles port

Last Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 15:28

Victoria: A disabled cruise ship on Thursday docked
in the island nation of the Seychelles after three days at sea
without power.

Dozens of officials flocked to the port to help
passengers, some of whom applauded as the Costa Allegra neared
shore.

The Seychelles Red Cross set up tents to assist any
passengers needing medical help and embassy and consular
officials were at the port to receive their citizens.

Tour operators lined up dozens of buses to take
passengers to either the airport or a Seychelles resort.
Disembarkation of the more than 1,000 people onboard was
expected to take several hours.

The Costa Allegra has been at sea with and without
electricity since a fire broke out in the generator room on
Monday, knocking out plumbing, showers, lights and air
conditioning as the huge ship went adrift in tropical heat.

The cause of the fire is unknown. A French fishing vessel
towed the cruise ship to the Seychelles.

US Consular Agent Travis Jensen said he was there to help
ensure the health and safety of Americans onboard.

"We haven`t been in contact with the ship because they
were on battery power," he said. "No emergency evacuations
have been reported."

Travel agents eager to help passengers ashore waited
alongside diplomats and dozens of journalists.

"The focus of the operation is to get them a warm meal
and a shower," said Guillaume Albert, head of Creole Travel
Service. "I think the happy ending is the people coming off
the boat."

The average age of passengers onboard the ship is 55
years, he said, and the heat and lack of hygiene could be
uncomfortable for some of the older travellers. The weather in
the Seychelles is hot and humid.

The fire came only six weeks after the Costa Concordia,
owned by the same company, hit a reef and capsized off Italy,
killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead.

"I know it was bad luck for these guys but they are doing
the best they can," Albert said. "They have a lot of image
building to do right now but I`ve seen a very professional
team."

"It happened in quite an isolated spot so it took quite a
while to get back here," said British High Commissioner
Matthew Forbes as he waited for the boat to dock.

A Seychelles official suggested yesterday that the
journey may also have taken longer because the French fishing
vessel towing the cruise ship had refused to give way to two
faster tugs sent by the Seychelles.

Although assistance to people at sea is free, assistance
to ships is often paid.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 15:28

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