Last updated: 10:06 PM ET, Sun December 16 2012

Several Cruise Ships Avoid Argentina Due to Falkland Tension

Features & Advice Seabourn Theresa Norton December 16, 2012

P&O Cruises, a British line, has cancelled upcoming calls at ports in Argentina by the Arcadia and Adonia following rising tension over ship visits to the Falkland Islands. Holland America Line’s Veendam and Seabourn’s Sojourn skipped Ushuaia on Dec. 10 but have not changed any future itineraries.

“Information had come to our attention that demonstrations may have occurred in Ushuaia that could have impacted the ability of Veendam to enter and leave the port in accordance with accepted maritime practices,” according to Sally Andrews, Holland America spokeswoman. “As a result of this change, guests onboard were refunded for any shore excursions booked in Ushuaia and the government taxes and fees for the cancelled port.”

Both Holland America and Seabourn said they will continue to monitor the situation. P&O said it would make future turnarounds in Montevideo, Uruguay, instead of Buenos Aires. The line plans to continue calling at Port Stanley in the Falklands.

According to local media reports, Argentine protestors have tried to intimidate or harass ships that also visit the Falklands, a British territory that Argentina also claims as its own. “Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, has launched a diplomatic offensive to try to assert her country’s claim to the islands,” reports The Telegraph, a U.K. newspaper. Also, 2012 is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict between Argentina and the U.K.

P&O issued a statement that said a number of ships flying the British flag have not been permitted to call at Argentina or were severely delayed over recent years. P&O said it has been working over the past few months to gain assurance from the Argentine government that its ships will be allowed to call into their ports. “We have been unable to gain these assurances and the risk of being refused entry or being delayed is too high,” the statement said. “As a British cruise company, we cannot allow ourselves to be the subject of any political dispute or put our customers and crew into any situation where their enjoyment may be compromised.”

Earlier this month, the Seabourn Sojourn was delayed in Buenos Aires. While local media reports said the ship was detained by protestors, the luxury line said the ship was delayed because it was waiting for an overdue tug boat.

Meanwhile, the Falkland Islands government condemned what it called “intimidation” of cruise ships. “This is yet another example of a country of over 40 million people attempting to bully and threaten our 3,000 people and strangle the economy of our home,” the statement said. “We regret this, and strongly encourage the tourism industry to stand firm, and not to allow themselves to be scared into assisting attempts to damage our economy in what is tantamount to an economic blockade.”