Two British cruise ships were turned away from an Argentine port earlier today, adding a new chapter to the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands. The two cruise ships – owned by Carnival, although they belong to the fleets of different cruise lines – attempted to dock at the port of Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost city, but were refused entry. The decision to bar the ships from the port was made early this morning by the governor of the Tierra del Fuego Province.
The Adonia, part of P&O Cruises’ seven-ship fleet, has been on a 87-day voyage that started on January 13th in Southampton, a city on the south coast of England. The ship has 710 passengers on board, and is now on its way to a port in Chile. Fortunately, the passengers will be refunded for the activities they planned in Ushuaia.
The other cruise ship, the Star Princess, belongs to Princess Cruises 17-ship fleet. The 2,580 passengers on board the ship are on a 14-day South American cruise, which departed from Rio de Janeiro on February 18th. The cost of shore excursions in Ushuaia will also be refunded to passengers of the Star Princess, who are now sailing to the port in Punta Arenas, Chile, the same port that the Adonia is heading toward.
By way of background, the tension between Britain and Argentina that led to the barring of the UK cruise ships from docking in Ushuaia is related to a land dispute. The Falkland Islands are technically a self-governing British Overseas Territory, but Argentina claims them as their own, considering them to be part of the Tierra del Fuego Province. Argentina has been working to officially recover the lands, but recently Britain has set up an enormous marine protection space in the area, which some consider to be an attempt by Britain to appropriate even more land.
Although preventing the ships from entering the southern port was meant as a stand against Britain, the decision probably adversely affected Argentinians in Ushuaia more than anyone else. Restaurants had prepared to serve thousands of cruise passengers today, and tour guides, taxi drivers, and other people who cater to cruise ship passengers lost a huge amount of business. The tourism industry in Ushuaia is the real loser today.