One of the most complex maneuvers carried out by a cruise ship is when they dock at a foreign port. Usually due to the complexities involved, a pilot is taken on board who knows the port intimately and he or she controls the docking procedure to ensure no damage to the ship and no threat to the safety of the passengers.
However, a British based cruise company went to the port of Georgetown in Guyana in South America and had to abort plans to dock there due to a problem with the pilots.
The cruise company, All Leisure Holdings Ltd. is claiming over US$20,000 in lost revenue due to the cancellation of the MV Voyager’s proposed visit in December 2015.
The company has also asked Guyana to ensure that their pilots are properly trained and that proper navigational aids are installed at Port Georgetown.
The incident happened when there were 225 crew members on board along with 410 passengers and the pilot, Henry Jupiter was due to leave the boathouse in Georgetown at 4.30 a.m. to board the Voyager to guide the ship in to dock. In the event he left the boathouse at 5.10 a.m. and boarded the ship at 7.20 a.m.
In addition to the late arrival of the pilot, the captain of the cruise ship had a myriad of other concerns. These included the fact that when the pilot arrived he had no electronic aid, he was unsure about the correctness of the chart, he could not have seen the front and rear beacons, there were no tugs to assist in berthing, the pilot was not able to read the electronic chart and in addition there were no navigational aids and the channel and sea buoys were missing.
Guyana has not suspended or dismissed Pilot Jupiter but the port has recommended that in the future, all cruise lines must be piloted by either the Harbor Master or the Chief Pilot.