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One of world’s largest cruise ships seized over debt

May 28, 2014 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Norwegian authorities seized one of the world’s largest cruise ships last week in a dispute over allegedly unpaid fees – and they are prepared to seize other cruise ships for the same reason.

Coastal officials placed Independence of the Seas under arrest in the Norwegian port of Alesund until Royal Caribbean Cruises paid the sum of NOK 600,000 (AUD 108,800) that the ship was said to owe in piloting and security fees from a visit last year.

The standoff was brief and the cruise line paid very fast. Independence of the Seas was released an hour later after Royal Caribbean paid up, according to the site, which specialises in news and views from Norway. unnamed

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the overdue fees under dispute related to several sailings into Norwegian harbours and should have been paid by mid-October last year. The Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) said chasing outstanding payments was a major problem which took up significant resources.

“As a rule, we get the money at the right time,” maritime safety director Arve Dimmen told NRK.

“But now, we’re missing NOK 6 to 7 million [about AUD 1 million to AUD 1.25 million] from cruise ships that have not paid their bills from the last season.”

That implies more arrests may be made in the weeks ahead, as the number of cruise calls in Norway increases, NRK noted.

In a statement on its website, Kystverket said payment delays from certain cruise lines had become a problem.

As a result, Kystverket was making use of the “maritime liens” regime. Maritime liens is the term for the right of an individual to compel the seizure or sale of a boat or ship over the non-payment of a debt owed to them relating to the vessel.

The 339-metre-long, 15-deck Independence of the Seas can carry 3600 passengers and was the world’s largest cruise ship when launched in 2008. It was overtaken as world’s largest by Oasis of the Seas a year later.

In May 2013, Independence of the Seas arrived in Southampton, England, following a spell in dry-dock, to offer a series of new itineraries including shorter cruises such as two-night cruises to Le Havre for Paris, and three-night cruises to Le Havre for Paris and Zeebrugge for Bruges. Independence of the Seas also offers various 14-night Mediterranean cruises, 12-night cruises to the Canary Islands, eight-night cruises to Norway and 14-night Norway and Cork cruises.

It may be more careful with Norway itineraries in future.

Royal Caribbean has a strong connection with Norway. It was founded in 1968 by three Norwegian shipping lines. The Norwegian-American company is currently reported to be the second-largest cruise line in the world, with 40 ships in its fleet.

FOOTNOTE: Independence of the Seas hit the news for another, sadder reason yesterday, when a six-year-old British boy was rushed to hospital after being found unconscious at the bottom of one of its swimming pools while the ship was in the Atlantic.

The boy was was airlifted in serious condition to Morvan hospital in Brest, France,  where his condition was described this morning as critical.


Written by : Peter Needham

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