Cruise Ship Held in Barcelona Due to Improper Visas

MSC Armonia has been held up at the Port of Barcelona after officials found visa issues among its Bolivian passengers.

MSC Cruises’ MSC Armonia and its 1,500 passengers have been halted at the Port of Barcelona due to visa discrepancies faced by 69 Bolivian travelers. Spanish authorities and the Bolivian Embassy are working to resolve the impasse.

Visa Hitch at Barcelona Port for MSC Armonia

In a surprising turn of events, MSC Armonia, which has journeyed from Brazil through the Mediterranean, finds itself anchored at the Port of Barcelona. The detention is attributed to visa issues encountered by a contingent of Bolivian passengers, making it impossible for them to disembark.

Spanish officials told the cruise line that the snag has affected 69 Bolivians who, despite appearing to have the correct documentation upon departure in Brazil when the cruise first departed on March 17, 2024, have been found ineligible to enter the Schengen zone.

“As a result, these guests have not been able to disembark in Barcelona, which was their final destination,” said a spokesperson for MSC Cruises“The ship has remained in the port while we work with the relevant authorities to find a solution to this complex issue.”

Complications Affect Itinerary and Plans

The 58,600-gross ton MSC Armonia departed on a 16-night Grand Voyage from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 17. It continued to Rio de Janeiro and Maceio, Brazil, before crossing the Atlantic to call in Tenerife, Funchal, and Malaga, Spain, before officials in Barcelona discovered the visa issues on April 2.

MSC Armonia Cruise Ship
MSC Armonia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Stefan Lambauer)

“We are currently working with the Spanish authorities to manage a situation with a number of guests from Bolivia that includes families and children,” MSC’s spokesperson stated.

Echoing MSC, the Bolivian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying Bolivia’s Consulate General in Barcelona “are carrying out the pertinent steps to address this case.”

The Associated Press has reported that 69 Bolivians are among the 1,500 passengers affected by the delay. Although the Bolivians were set to disembark in Barcelona, the ship’s Grand Voyage extended through April 8, keeping other guests stuck in the Spanish port.

As MSC Armonia was set to depart Barcelona at 4 p.m. for Ajaccio, Corsica, the fate of its Corsica arrival, slated for 10 a.m. on April 3, as well as its following call in Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, on April 4, are now in question. The voyage is also scheduled to continue to Corfu, Greece, and Dubrovnik, Croatia, before concluding in Venice, Italy.

MSC Cruise Ship in Barcelona, Spain
Photo Credit: Enrico Powell /

Traditionally, when cruise lines are forced to reschedule port calls, passengers who booked excursions through the ship will automatically be refunded or rebooked. Passengers who have booked private excursions are left to reschedule or seek refunds from their private operators.

No updates have been given on MSC Armonia’s itinerary as the cruise line works with officials to first get the visa situation under control.

Schengen Visa Requirements

The Schengen Visa is a short-stay visa within the coalition of 29 mostly European Union countries that allows for passport-free travel across borders. Bolivians looking to enter the Schengen Area would need to apply for a Schengen Visa, which includes proving the purpose of the visit, having a valid passport, securing travel insurance, and demonstrating sufficient financial means during the duration of the stay.

Read Also: MSC Cruises Achieves Record-Breaking Season in Brazil

Travel documents that do not meet entry requirements of the Schengen Agreement prevent entry into a Schengen country. Invalid visas could be due to the visa being expired, bring for a different Schengen country without multi-entry rights, or being a type that does not permit entry into Spain specifically.

The international news of the detainment comes on the heels of eight passengers stranded on the African island of Sao Tome after missing the all-aboard call on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn.


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