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2300 cruise ship passengers stranded on tropical island

September 17, 2013 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A ship well-known to Australian passengers under its former P&O name Pacific Sun has been seized on a cruise around the Korean islands. 

The ship left Australia last year and following a change of ownership is now called the Henna, described as China’s first luxury cruise liner.Banner 250x250px

The vessel was detained in the tropical South Korean island of Jeju after a writ was issued over a legal dispute. After days of delay, during which passengers were fed and entertained, some 2300 people aboard the ship have had to disembark and most of the passengers have now been flown home.

The Beijing Youth Daily reported online that angry passengers had scuffled with staff on the ship on Sunday night.

“Pictures sent by stranded passengers showed a crowd of upset passengers and a woman sitting on the floor,” the South China Morning Post reported.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that the HNA Group, parent of cruise operator HNA Tourism Cruise Yacht Management, sent five charter planes to fly about 1000 of the 1659 passengers back to China.

The passengers had been stuck aboard the Henna since Friday, after a local court in Jeju ordered the ship held in port following a request by Hong Kong shipping firm Jiangsu Shagang International. While the BBC said the cause of the dispute was unclear, news agency Bloomberg described it as a “USD 58 million debt dispute”.

The Henna made its maiden voyage under Chinese ownership earlier this year, having cast off its Pacific Sun persona.

Henna’s operator protested on Saturday that the ship’s detention had “restricted personal freedom of those onboard and severely infringed upon the rights of innocent passengers”, the BBC reported.

China’s National Tourism Administration contacted South Korean officials to demand the immediate release of all passengers.

The Henna, with 1659 passengers and 650 crew aboard, sailed from the Beijing port city of Tianjin last week on what was meant to be a six-day round trip to the Korean islands.

HNA says it will compensate passengers with about 2000 yuan (USD 327) each or give them a free ticket for another cruise on the same ship within a year.

In what seems to be the final installment, the South China Morning Post reported this morning that the Henna had left port and was heading home to China, minus most of its passengers. The crew re-boarded to sail the ship, joining 87 passengers who were defiant enough to refuse to budge.

The defiant few should have plenty of crew to look after them on the voyage back.

 

Written by : Peter Needham

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