FOR only the second time in recent years, on January 14 the Falkland Islands Government refused permission for a cruise ship to land its passengers in the islands' capital, Stanley. The ship in question was the Star Princess which had 2,608 passengers aboard.
The reason for the ban, according to a press release from a government spokesperson was the presence on the ship of the highly infectious norovirus, which causes sickness and diarrhea. At the time of the ship's arrival it was at what was described as 'red alert' status with 58 registered cases.
This decision, described as "difficult" in the communiqué, was taken by the Islands' Chief Medical Officer , "following agreed protocols" and after "consultation with both the ship's doctor and a consultant microbiologist in the UK."
Suggestions from Argentina that the decision to cancel the ship's visit was made as a reprisal for the recent Mercosur countries decision to ban vessels flying the Falkland Islands flag are being ridiculed in Stanley, where the loss of a visit by a ship of this size may have cost the economy over £100,000, including the £46,944 which would have gone to the government's coffers from passenger arrival tax alone.
Extended story in this Friday's Penguin News