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Cruise couple appealing for help

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By Abbey Morton
Cruise couple appealing for help

A LOCKERBIE couple that were left in limbo when their cruise ship was prevented from docking in Spain are appealing for urgent help as they may be taken to the heart of the European coronavirus outbreak.

Ted and Anne Hills are sailing from Buenos Aires to Barcelona, where they were supposed to arrive on Saturday. But coronavirus lockdown in Spain has closed the ports – meaning the Costa Pacifica cannot dock or allow passengers to leave.

Earlier this week the couple told this newspaper that they were enroute to Marseille in France, where they hoped to disembark and catch a flight home.

But speaking from the ship this morning Ted said that only French nationals will be allowed to leave and the rest of the passengers will be taken to Genoa in Italy – the European country worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Ted said: “We got bad news last night, the captain announced that only French nationals are to disembark in Marseille, everyone else is to go to Genoa which we regard as dangerous.

“A few fights broke out and impromptu meetings are being organised by the passengers today.

“We are fine but feeling down and feeling rejected.”

The cruise liner left Buenos Aires and called in at Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Maceio, all in Brazil. But visits to Tenerife and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, as well as Malaga in Spain, were all cancelled.

The couple were told as they crossed the Atlantic that Spain had shut its ports to all cruise ships and they would instead be heading to France.

But after being told they will not be allowed to disembark in Marseille the couple are appealing for “any and all help”, and have already made contact with Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell.

Ted said: “The situation brings home to us how widespread the problem is and how we are better all together rather than being isolationist in our own wee corner whether that be in Scotland, in UK, Europe or worldwide. There are many nationalities on board and we are all mingling happily and supporting each other – South Africans, Australians, Russians, all over Europe and all over South America.”

And speaking earlier this week, Mr Mundell confirmed that he was in touch with the couple and said: “I’m raising the case directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I will do everything I can to expedite Mr and Mrs Hills’ return home.”

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