Disabled cruise ship arrives in Seychelles port



Disabled cruise ship arrives in Seychelles port 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