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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Frenchman thrown off Costa Cruise liner in Indian Ocean after leading 'mutiny' over cancelled stops

Frenchman thrown off Costa Cruise liner in Indian Ocean after leading 'mutiny' over cancelled stopsA French passenger was thrown off a luxury cruise liner in the Indian Ocean for staging a "mutiny" after the captain cancelled two island stops and gave appalled customers €150 (£133) to spend on board by way of recompense. It was supposed to be a dream cruise around the "Vanilla islands" of Madagascar, Maurice, Reunion and the Seychelles on the Costa neoRiviera liner. But Alain Jan, a 53-year old French chef who boarded the huge boat with his wife at the French islands of la Reunion on October 26, said it turned into a "floating prison". Two days into the trip, the trouble started when the captain announced that three stop-offs around Madagascar were cancelled due to a plague epidemic on the island. Madagascar is currently experiencing an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague that the World Health Organisation has said is a serious risk to the wider Indian Ocean region. More than 1,000 people in the country are infected and more than 100 have died. "We said OK, it's for health reasons and anyway there were two other excursions left in Nosy Be and Diego Suarez," he told Le Parisien. A 22 year-old woman, Melle Marie Florencia, sitting on a bed at the health center Plague Triage and Treatment Center, in Toamasina, after she was diagnosed with plague. Credit:  RIJASOLO/ AFP But the next day, passengers learned that these other two stops were cancelled, and that boat would not be going to Mauritius either. Tempers then flared when they were informed that by way of recompense, they would receive €150 to spend on board. "Things started heating up - €150 when a major part of the trip is cancelled and a drink on board costs €5," he said. When Mr Jan failed to received an adequate response from the crew, he launched a petition. "That evening, we organised a protest in the restaurant. There were 60 of us banging our fists on the table to alert other cruise passengers to this con job," he said. When the captain refused to change course, mutinous passengers staged a second protest in a theatre just as the boat was nearing the Seychelles.  Exasperated, the captain rang the local police chief who came on board. "He listened to both our version of events and I  asked to speak to the French ambassador," said Mr Jan. "Then the policeman asked the captain if he wanted to disembark anyone and he pointed to me." Mr Jan and his wife were escorted off the boat, but there was a silver lining to their eviction. "I spent two nights in a hotel in the Seychelles with my wife, then were flown home paid for by Costa. That's how I was freed from the floating prison," he told Le Parisien. Once back in his home island of Reunion, he went to meet the remaining passengers as they disembarked, many of whom, he alleged, complained of being "treated like cattle" and "ripped off". He and others alleged that Costa had known of plague cases for months but deliberately hid the change of programmed from passengers beforehand. Costa Cruises denies the claim. "The company made every effort to maintain the stop-offs on Madagascar, looking into all the alternatives," it said in a statement.  While it understood the "disappointment of passengers eager awaiting all the stops on the Costa neoRiviera's itinerary," it said that "security, health and wellbeing of passengers and crew are an absolute priority". It added that health authorities on Mauritius had expressed "serious concern" about the situation in Madagascar, effectively demanding the liner be quarantined to ensure it had no sick passengers. "Given the delays that would have created, and even longer ones if there were any suspect cases on board, and considering that passengers were already on board, the company was forced to restrict its trip to the Seychelles and Reunion," said the statement.




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