Norway: Bailiff seizes $800m cruise liner over debts

Independence of the Seas leaving Southampton Image copyright Alamy

A Norwegian bailiff has impounded one of the world's biggest cruise ships because of unpaid pilot fees.

The 150,000-tonne Independence of the Seas was stopped in the town of Alesund because Royal Caribbean, the ship's owner, didn't pay its 2013 fees, national broadcaster NRK reports. The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) says the money - about 600,000 kroner (£60,000, $100,000) - should have been paid in October. The money was reportedly paid within an hour of the seizure and the cruiser is now free to sail on.

The NCA relies on fees from ship owners to carry out its work guiding ships through Norway's often complicated and dangerous coastal waters. But it says late payments have become a major problem. "We usually get the money on time," Arve Dimmen of the NCA says. "But now we're short 7.6m kroner from cruise ships that did not pay their bills for the previous season. It's a lot of work for us to follow up these cases."

It cost about $800m to build the Independence of the Seas in 2008 and at the time it belonged to the largest type of cruise liner in the world. It has a water park, a 1,200-seat theatre and an ice rink on board.

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