Cruise ship gets stuck in Malta harbour.


Cruise ship

A cruise ship leaving the Grand Harbour on Saturday suffered an engine failure which left it powerless near the port entrance.

The ship drifted for around 100 metres before the captain was forced to drop anchor in order to avoid hitting the breakwater.

Owned by the company Tui, the ship blocked the harbour’s entrance for about an hour before finally sailing off, its engines running again. Two tug boats helped secure the ship in order to stop it moving around with the currents. At one point the cruise ship ended up parallel to the breakwater.

The passengers gathered on deck to ‘enjoy’ their unexpected longer stay in Malta, while a number of onlookers gathered at the Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens as the spectacle unfolded.

The cruise ship, called Thomson Celebration, sails under the Maltese flag.

It was built in 1984 and is 194 metres long with a beam of 27 metres. Her gross tonnage is 33,933 tons.

The ship yesterday docked safely in Messina as part of its Mediterranean tour.

It was helped out of the Grand Harbour by a tug.  (Times of Malta)




Air Malta Pilots


Air Malta’s court injunction against pilot strike places fundamental rights in danger, according European Cockpit Association (ECA).

In a statement this afternoon, the ECA said that it regrets Air Malta’s “attempt to breach a fundamental right that is recognized by the EU and the Council of Europe.

“Air Malta has decided to launch a court application for an injunction to ban the Pilots’ Association recourse to industrial action after a long period of unsuccessful negotiations over working conditions. ECA trusts that Malta’s judicial system will guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of trade unions in line with the country’s obligations under national and international law.”

The European Cockpit Association, which represents over 38,000 pilots in Europe, said it “is seriously concerned” about Air Malta’s court application for an injunction to ban industrial actions from pilots. The injunction has been temporarily upheld by the courts and the next hearing in the case will be held on Friday.

“We are lucky to live in democratic countries that are committed to respect fundamental rights; the right to strike is one of those and a key pillar of our democracies” said ECA President Dirk Polloczek.  “Air Malta’s application to suppress the right to strike should be taken very seriously; it is a clear attack on everybody’s freedoms.”

The European Cockpit Association urged Air Malta to “swiftly withdraw” its application and to resume talks with its pilots.

(The Malta Independent. 21.07.2016)



Tourists stranded after UK travel agency collapses


Low Cost Travel Group went into administration last Friday, with the company blaming “the recent and ongoing turbulent financial environment” following Brexit earlier this month.

Flight tickets remain valid, but the company did not pass payment received for hotel bookings on to the hotel operators.

Those already on their holidays have to pay the fees themselves, hoping to reclaim it from travel insurance or their credit card providers, or face eviction. Those still waiting to travel, meanwhile, are faced with having to rebook at significantly higher rates.

Low cost collapse

One of those affected in Malta, Karen Johnson from London, told the Times of Malta she was on holiday at a hotel in Buġibba with her boyfriend, Mark Rutling, when the news broke. “We paid £910 (€1,090) to come here and the hotel said because the company had gone under, we had to pay the remaining costs in cash,” she said.

Ms Johnson and Mr Rutling didn’t have the money to pay, as they had only £60 in cash.

I haven’t been on holiday in 20 years and this has happened. It’s put a damper on the whole trip

The hotel therefore told them they had to vacate their rooms by 6pm yesterday, three days before they were due to return to the UK on Thursday.

Before a Maltese friend stepped in at the last moment and offered to host them at his apartment, the couple had no idea where they were going to stay.

“We didn’t know what we were going to do next. We didn’t have anywhere to go and we didn’t have the money to pay,” Ms Johnson said. “It’s been so stressful. I haven’t been on holiday in 20 years and this has happened. It’s put a damper on the whole trip.”

A manager at the hotel told this newspaper that dozens of guests had been affected by the developments. The manager said, however, that the vast majority had managed to settle the matter with the hotel and would be continuing their stay. The hotel is also concerned that guests who have booked through Low Cost Travel for the coming weeks may not rebook their stays, resulting in significant loss in business at the height of the tourist season.


Brexit: British holidaymakers face pricier food and drink in Europe


Brexit price increases

The fall in the value of sterling following the EU referendum means UK holidaymakers will be charged more for meals and drinks in many European resorts compared with last year, according to a new study by the UK’s Post Office.

British travellers going abroad this summer face an increase in the cost of food and drink in 11 out of 13 destinations featured in the Post Office Travel Money report.

This includes a 19.3 per cent price hike in Sliema, according to the report.

The largest rise is in Palma Nova on the Spanish Balearic island of Majorca, where the cost to UK holidaymakers of items such as a three-course meal, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee has gone up by 51 per cent since 2015.

Visitors to Nice, in the south of France, are facing the second highest increase of the destinations surveyed at 30 per cent, followed by the Spanish resort of Ibiza and Paphos in Cyprus, which have both gone up by 23 per cent.

The pound has plummeted more than nine per cent against the euro since the referendum, falling from €1.31 to €1.19, while also reaching a 31-year low against the US dollar.

The only destinations featured in the report where the cost of food and drink has fallen for UK travellers this year is the Costa Blanca in Spain (-10 per cent) and Sunny Beach in Bulgaria (-1 per cent).

But the study noted that while most resort prices are up on 2015 – when sterling was at a seven-year high – they are still as much as 10 per cent lower compared with 2014.

Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: “It’s all about putting today’s exchange rates into context.

“Sterling may have fallen recently but when you compare its value with every other year since 2011 except 2015, holidaymakers can be reassured that the cash in their pockets will cover their costs.

“Bars and restaurants in several of the resorts we surveyed have cut their prices to attract tourists.”

This is the increase in the cost of food and drink to UK holidaymakers at popular resorts compared with 2015, according to Post Office Travel Money:

1. Palma Nova, Majorca: 51.4 per cent;

2. Nice, France: 29.6 per cent

3. Ibiza: 23.4 per cent

4. Paphos, Cyprus: 23.0 per cent

5. Sorrento, Italy: 19.5 per cent

6. Sliema, Malta: 19.3 per cent

7. Costa del Sol, Spain: 19.2 per cent

8. Corfu, Greece: 14.7 per cent

9. Algarve, Portugal: 10.6 per cent

10. Crete, Greece: 10.1 per cent

11. Porec, Croatia: 5.6 per cent

12. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria: -1.2 per cent

13. Costa Blanca, Spain: -10.3 per cent



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