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Spanish Authorities Detain Cruise Ship Carrying 1,500 Passengers Over Invalid Visas for Bolivian Passengers


A cruise ship carrying 1,500 passengers was left stranded at a port in Barcelona due to visa problems of a group of Bolivian cruise passengers.

The authorities say that 69 Bolivian nationals, with some of them being family members, have been stopped and not allowed to leave the ship since they did not have valid documents to enter the Schengen Area, SchengenVisaInfo reports.

Bolivians’ final destination was Barcelona, while the Spanish state news agency reports that 1,500 passengers on the cruise ship were headed to Croatia.

Authorities Suspect The Incident Could Be a Fake Visa Scam

Solange Duarte, a Bolivian diplomat in Spain, confirmed for the Associated Press that she received reports about the stranded passenger from Bolivia, who could be scammed into obtaining fake visas.

We have asked the families to indicate who has processed this visa and we have not gotten answers. 

Solange Duarte, Bolivian Diplomat

Duarte also revealed that Spain’s national police were looking into the possibility of a fake visa scam. She also mentioned that it is possible that Bolivian passengers have been transferred to another ship.

In addition, Bolivia’s deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Fernando Perez, said they were still waiting to see what Spain decides to do. The Bolivian Embassy in Spain and the country’s Consulate General in Barcelona said in a statement that they are working closely to address the situation.

MSC Cruises, on the other hand, said in a press release that the passengers held proper documentation when their trip began.

Passengers appeared to have proper documentation upon boarding in Brazil. We have been informed by the authorities that the visas are not valid for entry into the Schengen area. As a result, passengers have not been able to disembark in Barcelona, which was their final destination. 

MSC Cruises

The company also revealed it is working with the authorities until the matter is solved. Travelling to Schengen Area without proper documentation can result in serious consequences. Nationals of some countries, including Bolivia, have to apply for Schengen visas in order to be allowed to travel to the Schengen Area.

Many countries in South America do not have a visa liberalisation agreement with the Schengen Member States, which recently received two new members, Romania and Bulgaria. The two countries joined the Schengen Area in April and those that have Schengen Visas can visit the two countries freely.

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