Stranded cruise guests flown home
Updated: 2013-09-16 01:36
By HUANG YIMING and WANG QIAN (China Daily)
About 1,120 passengers from the Chinese luxury cruise liner Henna, which is being held at the South Korean island of Jeju, had returned to Beijing on Sunday, the liner's operator said.
China's first luxury cruise ship, which had 2,309 passengers and crew on board, has been held since a court order was issued in South Korea's Jeju province on Friday because of a legal dispute between ship operator HNA Group and Shagang Shipping Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-registered shipping services firm.
HNA Tourism Holding (Group) Co Ltd, is one of the core business sections of HNA Group.
The 223-meter liner departed Tianjin on Wednesday for a six-day voyage with 1,659 passengers and 650 crew on board. It was due to leave Jeju for Incheon on Friday before it was seized.
HNA Tourism Cruise and Yacht Management sent five planes to pick up stranded passengers on Sunday. The first planeload of passengers — 283, including 19 children and one infant — arrived at Beijing at about 5 pm.
"We are very sorry for what happened," said Han Luhai, president of HNA Tourism Cruise and Yacht Management, adding the company arranged the planes to bring back all stranded passengers to Beijing as quickly as possible.
"Some passengers chose to return in the Henna, and the rest of the passengers will all fly back to Beijing by Monday," he said.
HNA Tourism President Zhang Ling said everyone on board was in good condition except for one woman who had had a heart attack, and two teachers and a child who had fevers. All four were hospitalized in South Korea.
HNA Tourism offered all of the passengers 2,000 yuan ($327) in compensation or a free ticket on the Henna for the coming year.
The cruise cost 2,000 to 4,000 yuan per person, according to the quoted price on Caissa Travel Agency.
Han said the Henna will depart Jeju as early as Monday, if everything goes smoothly.
The court demanded HNA Tourism pay a deposit of about $2.7 million for the ship to be allowed to leave, but the money could not be sent to the court because of the weekend, HNA Tourism said.