Guernsey cruise ship transfer delay a 'one-off'

Travel Trident and tender alongside cruise ship the Caribbean Princess
Image caption More than 2,500 passengers came ashore from ship and were delayed when they tried to return

Long delays for cruise ship passengers wanting to return to their vessel were "a one-off", according to Guernsey's harbour master.

On Sunday the Caribbean Princess was an hour and a half late in leaving Guernsey's waters due to delays in getting its passengers back on board.

Captain Peter Gill said he had never seen such long queues and had "never had an incidence like this before".

The cruise company said it was unable to comment on the issue.

It said this was due to its head office in the USA being closed for a public holiday.

Captain Gill said: "When they come ashore they come at 100 or so at a time, depending on the capacity of the tenders, and that regulates how and when people come ashore.

"When it comes time to go back to the ship, as I understand it, they were all given the same time and everybody has turned up at the same time and of course there is just not the capacity of the ship's tenders to deal with in excess of 2,500 people at the same time."

He said getting passengers to and from the ship was the responsibility of the cruise operator with the assistance of their local shipping agents.

Image caption A Travel Trident, which normally operate to Herm, was used to transfer passengers

Captain Gill said: "On this occasion when we became aware that something was wrong we spoke to the agents.

"They were offered the use of the ferry ramp to put more tenders on, that was declined, they were offered the use of a trident ferry, that was declined initially - they eventually accepted that and the problem was eventually resolved."

He said: "We've handled a lot more passengers in the past without getting into this sort of a pickle with the numbers so the facilities are here, we can deal with it."

Captain Gill said the cruise liner company and their agents would be looking into the matter in some detail to understand what was wrong and to ensure it did not happen again.

He said things such as this needed to be fed into the consultation for the development of a Ports Master Plan, to ensure the island had the right facilities for its future needs.

It is the second time the vessel, which carries up to 3,600 passengers, has visited the island and on the previous occasion those on board were unable to land due to bad weather.

It is due to visit the island again on 9 July.

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