LISBON, Portugal: Hundreds of tourists, most of them British, were stuck in Portugal’s Madeira Islands after authorities refused to let their cruise ship leave port because of a financial dispute, officials said Wednesday.
Port authorities in Funchal, on one of the Atlantic Ocean islands, told the Portuguese news agency Lusa they were awaiting a court ruling before allowing the ship to continue its voyage to Falmouth, England.
The Van Gogh arrived in Funchal on Tuesday from the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa. It was carrying 430 passengers and 220 crew, Lusa said.
Association of British Travel Agents spokeswoman Frances Tuke said the tourists were of mixed age groups, but that most were retired.
“They’ve come to the end of their cruise, and the ship has been impounded in Madeira because there’s a financial dispute,” Tuke told the AP.
Lusa reported that the ship’s operator allegedly had outstanding debts with suppliers. The report did not provide details and port officials did not answer calls after office hours Wednesday.
The ship, the MV Van Gogh, is owned by a Dutch company called Club Cruise. The company’s British tour operating division, Van Gogh Cruise Line Ltd., did not immediately return a message seeking comment late Wednesday. The British Broadcasting Corp. quoted a Van Gogh Cruise Line spokesman as saying that the company’s lawyers were working to get the ship released.
The Madeira Islands are located about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of Lisbon.