Cruise ship Vistamar detained for safety repairs


Repairs are under way on a cruise ship which was deemed too unsafe to sail out of Belfast on Wednesday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained the Italian-flagged ship Vistamar at the city docks as 10 of the ship's 100 fire doors were faulty.

The agency also said that one of the lifeboat engines would not start.

Passengers have been taken to Dublin as work on the ship continues. It may be Friday before the ship is declared safe to continue its voyage.

In 2006, the 290-capacity ship was also held for safety reasons in London.

Faults identified then included damaged lifeboats and missing escape signs.

The luxury ship is owned by German tour operators Plantours and Partner, and boasts an outdoor pool, four-poster bedroom suites and a glass elevator.

The Vistamar docked at Belfast on Wednesday morning and had been en route from Invergordon.

Surveyors boarded the 121m vessel to perform an inspection and found two serious deficiencies that led to its detention.

The fire doors were found to be missing, broken, or with latches missing, and the ship did not meet International Safety Managment (ISM) standards.

There were several further deficiencies including broken emergency lights for life rafts.

The vessel, which was built in 1989 will be allowed to carry on its passage when surveyors feel the deficiencies have been rectified.

Bill Bennett, Surveyor in Charge from the MCA's Belfast Marine Office said:

"The MCA take passenger safety extremely seriously, and we will not allow vessels to traverse our waters where clearly international standards of safety are being breached.

"We apologise to any passengers who may have been inconvenienced by this action, but we hope they understand this detention has been undertaken in their best interest."

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