Two British cruise ships were refused entry to an Argentinian port yesterday as tension mounted between the UK and the South American country over the Falkland Islands.
The P&0 Cruises ship Adonia and the Princess Cruises vessel Star Princess were not allowed to dock at Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina. Both vessels, part of the Carnival company fleet, had called at the Falklands on Saturday.
Argentina is known to be upset at the deployment of the Duke of Cambridge on the Falklands as the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands war approaches.
The Adonia is now sailing towards Punta Arenas in Chile – the next port of call on its 87-night South American cruise. The Star Princess is on a 14-night South American cruise which started from Rio de Janeiro on 18 February.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We are very concerned to hear the Adonia and Star Princess have been refused access to the port of Ushuaia.
"British diplomats in Argentina are urgently seeking to clarify the circumstances surrounding this incident, and we are in contact with the company concerned."
A spokesman for Argentina's Naval Prefecture said the ships had decided to change their destination and denied they had been refused permission to dock at Ushuaia.
"There were no problems with the port authority and there are no problems on board the ships," he said.
But Argentinian press reported that the incident marked the first time the authorities had enforced a law passed last August that prohibits British ships or vessels partly belonging to British companies docking in Argentina.
The decision was made by provincial governor Fabiana Rios, an ally of President Cristina Fernandez, a month after the Falklands government turned away the Star Princess, citing health-and-safety reasons, after it had stopped in Argentina.