Cruise ship held in Barcelona for fraudulent Schengen visas

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A cruise ship with about 1,500 people on board was prevented from continuing its journey to Barcelona due to fraudulent visas among some of its passengers.

There were 69 Bolivians on board the Armonía, operated by MSC Cruises, whose Schengen visas were false, the company said, confirming Spanish media reports.

A group of Bolivians, consisting of families with children, had left Brazil for Barcelona, ​​where their cruise was ending. But, following the visa checks, they were not allowed to leave the ship and go ashore like the others.

Schengen visas allow their holders to travel between approximately 30 European countries.

Meanwhile, the Armonía planned to continue its journey on Tuesday across the Mediterranean Sea for other passengers, but the ship was kept in Barcelona pending an investigation.

Some relatives of Bolivians living in Spain told Spanish media that the people had committed fraud.

He said that an agency in South America has provided the passage and visas online and charged up to $10,000 per person. The agency also suspended return tickets that had been promised after the cruise ship left Brazil for Europe, La Vanguardia newspaper quoted the family as saying.

However, the police did not rule out the possibility that the Bolivians really wanted to enter Spain illegally by knowingly using false documents.

It is not known when the ship will be able to continue its journey and what will happen to the people of Bolivia.

The cruise ship MSC Armonia (R) is docked in the port of Barcelona.  The ship MSC Armonia is being held at the Port of Barcelona because 69 Bolivians do not have valid visas to enter the Schengen area.  David Zorrakino/EUROPE PRESS/dpa

The cruise ship MSC Armonia (R) is docked in the port of Barcelona. The ship MSC Armonia is being held at the Port of Barcelona because 69 Bolivians do not have valid visas to enter the Schengen area. David Zorrakino/EUROPE PRESS/dpa

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