So you thought that shipping in Europe was absolutely safe? We hear of mishaps befalling planes and trains. Scarcely a day goes by without news of a terrible road accident somewhere in Europe. But shipping has much less media visibility and the many mishaps affecting European sea and river transport rarely make it into the international news. With pirates off the Horn of Africa playing havoc with shipping in that region, not to mention Israeli commandos intercepting ships en route for Gaza, reports of minor shipping accidents in Europe, especially where there is no loss of life, are not judged as being particularly newsworthy. So here is a chance for hidden europe readers to catch up with some snippets of shipping news that probably never featured in your local media.
In early June, the cruise ship Vistamar was detained in Ireland when a routine check by port safety officials found the vessel’s emergency provision to be deficient. Reports suggested worries about lifeboats, fire doors and the signing of escape routes. The Vistamar operates cruises for an upmarket German operator called plantours, whose clients paid as much as €4000 for a twelve day circumnavigation of Great Britain with ports of call on the Scottish mainland, in Orkney and Skye, and in Ireland, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight. Sounds magnificent, but it was not to be.